I don't believe in evolution.
I had to come out and say it. My name is Laura and I don't believe in evolution.
No, don't worry, I haven't been captured and brainwashed by some cult. I just don't see how it works. Regular readers will be aware that I'm an evangelical atheist; I believe what I can see, what can be proved, what can be understood. Where something (such as quantum physics) is beyond my understanding, my "faith" - for want of a better word - is directed towards scientists, for whom peer reviews and scientific scrutiny should mean that I can trust that their work is rigorously reviewed.
So far, so good.
I have read The Selfish Gene. I have read other books that attempt to explain to a novice how evolution works. And I still think it must be rubbish.
I have no issue with survival of the fittest - that is to say, that which is most adapted to its environment. It makes much more sense if a bird can fly away from its predators, that those who are able to fly are much more likely to survive, to breed successfully and to pass on their genes. Agreed. Tick.
I also understand that these changes happen not overnight, but over literally millions of years. So a bird probably didn't develop wings in a day, and all the other wingless birds weren't immediately eaten. I get that too. (But wonder a bit how the "stubby wings" stage they presumably went through provided any help whatsoever. Though am willing to accept they must have.)
I also understand that "evolution" happens as the result of (for want of a better word) a faulty gene, a mutated gene which contributes an extra feature that its parents and previous generations didn't have.
What I don't understand is this: how these slight mutations become the "norm". Let's take for example pruney fingers. You know what I'm talking about, when you've stayed in the bath a bit too long and your fingers go all wrinkly.
Now, recent research has suggested that this might have happened because wrinkly fingers improve our grip in water, thus giving an evolutionary advantage, as our ancestors foraged for food in wet conditions. OK.
So several million years ago, Jonny Ugg was born with the freaky mutation that no-one had ever seen before, which caused his fingers to go all wrinkly when he got them wet. Brilliantly, this actually afforded him an advantage because it meant he could catch more fish than Timmy Igg. Timmy Igg's family starved, and Jonny Ugg passed on his wrinkly fingers, and the world rejoiced.
No. STUPID. Firstly, a genetic mutation is surely likely to be a recessive rather than a dominant gene. I may be wrong about this, but my understanding is that that would mean it's fairly unlikely that future generations would also inherit the wrinkliness.
Even if I'm wrong and genetic mutations can be dominant genes, so far we have ONE wrinkly-fingered freak in a whole population of smooth-fingered humans. And yes, he does OK and gets enough food - but that doesn't in itself mean that everyone else is going to starve immediately. Equally, I can't imagine Jane Grunt refusing to shag Timmy Igg from now on because of his disgustingly smooth fingers, thus preventing his unwrinkly fingers getting passed on. It makes no sense.
And what about things that are likely to have no effect on reproduction at all? For example, I have a weird allergy to sunlight, meaning I break out in awful itchy red bumps if I overdo it. It hasn't stopped me reproducing. No man has ever said to me, "Laura, you are my perfect woman, but your strange allergy to your own melanin makes me feel sick and I could never impregnate you." (they may have said the last ten words or so, but that's a separate story).
I would argue that the vast majority of "mutations" that we call evolution are not drastic enough to actually impact reproduction or survival. Even going back millions of years, are we really arguing that someone's slightly wrinkly fingers meant that the whole of the rest of the human race died out?
Don't even get me started on the peacock. To be honest, if you were a peahen, and all your peacock friends had normal-looking tails, and then suddenly Simon ShowoffPeacock turns up with a massive fucking turquoise train that he's just evolved, you aren't going to think, "I'd fuck that," you'd probably think, "What a twat."
So yes, I don't believe in evolution (but would be genuinely interested to hear from anyone who could explain the logic flaws above). I don't believe in a god either, so I'm in a spiritual and intellectual vacuum. Send help.