March 29, 2002

Do I have a hero? You bet your sweet ass I do!

Charles Darwin is my hero. It's mind-boggling to think of the incredible genius it took for him to overcome centuries of bias and ignorance to come up with the theory of evolution. Doubly so, really, since he didn't really know what caused the "modification" part of "descent with modification". (It was genes.)

I just picked up PBS Evolution Boxed Set DVD, which I've so far watched two episodes of. So far, it's very good: I'd use it in the classroom if I were a biology teacher. It's comprehensive without being preachy, and seems very accurate. It got me to thinking of how biologists must still content with their pseudo-scientific counterparts in ways that almost no other science must. The chemists put the alchemists to rout; the astronomers relegated the astrologers to the back pages of the tabloids; but biologists must still deal with fools like those at Answers In Genesis or the Institute For Creation Research. America may be the strongest and most technologically-advanced nation on the earth, but we still have a mouthy contingent of religious loonies who manage to get taken seriously.

And this is part of why Darwin is my hero -- he had to contend with a whole edifice of religion and government that abominated his views, and yet he lived to see the vindication of his views.