Monday, November 19, 2007

Attenborough, parasites and icky stuff

In my internet wanderings, I came across an interview with David Attenborough at a blog called Godsnot*. I'd never thought about his beliefs or lack thereof before, and it was interesting to discover his personal view. I was gratified to learn that in his private life he has vigorous correspondence with creationists.

Awe in/of nature is sometimes cited as a point in favour of creation by god: it's one of the reasons my mother still would describe herself as a Christian. I'm not fond of the premise myself, because I see the implication being that as an atheist I don't or can't appreciate the natural beauty in the world. Which is patently untrue as demonstrated in Attenborough's case, and in mine too, since skies, seas, nature, even the much-maligned dandelion fill me with enthusiasm.

Of course the awe/beauty of the natural world is accompanied by some rather disgusting things as well, like mucus (!) and as Attenborough rather more meaningfully points out, pain and parasites. He says "I can't believe god created parasites in order to torture small children." And while my personal experience of parasites is limited to nits primarily, there are far worse and more vomit-worthy beasties out there. I'm not going to tell you about them cos if you're interested you can jfgi, like I say, I have a weak stomach!

One Christian response to this (the parasites, rather than pain, which is a whole other argument) that I have seen is that this is a 'Fallen World'. Ie. since Adam & Eve & PinchMeQuick, everything's gone down the swanny and so animals eat each other and die in tortuous ways.

It might seem a neat answer on the face of it, but what did nits and worms and nasty little bugoids of hideous aspect do before 'the Fall'? What did they supposedly do with their little gnashy teeth and burrowing through skin abilities prior to that? What was their alternative lifestyle? Or were they created just to make the 'Fallen World' that much more fun, or did they adapt post-'Fall'?

If the latter, isn't that, da-da-dum, drum roll, evolution? And if you're going to start accepting evolution when it's convenient, you might as well hold your hands up and accept the whole kit and caboodle. It doesn't necessarily kill off the notion of a god anyway, so what's the beef? The alleged microevolution/macroevolution distinction is such a red herring: what would be the mechanism that stopped a whole raft of tiny adaptions adding up to big ones?

* Question: why do I have to come across references to mucus, secretions and such, all the time? And I've seen some vagina dentatas as profile pictures and so on, and it's all a bit "ewww, my poor eyes!" Why not pretty and/or pleasant things, people? (Although I suppose I'm one to talk, having renamed myself after a noxious stench. Nevertheless, undeterred...) I've never been able to stomach all that. I can talk about bodily functions et al, but only when I'm mentally prepared for it and it's all my choice.

I remember in school, one of my so-called friends used to point out in assembly the boy with his finger up his nose every single time. Every single assembly he spent with his finger rootling about and every assembly she scanned the crowds for him, just to point him out to me to make me bilious. Scarred for life by that, I was, scarred for life!

How come it took me years to realise she was no true friend?!

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