Friday, July 23, 2010

Two maaseh shehayas:

It was a Friday morning in yeshiva and the Rabbi was teeing off on Darwin. "If I work out and develop muscles, that means my kid is going to have big muscles, too? If a giraffe stretches out a little bit, his child gets a longer neck? Ha. Darwin. He didn't know what he was talking about!"

It was a Monday afternoon on Twitter, and one of the yeshiva dopes was making a parade of his ignorance. "Darwin only works if there are mutations, so where are the mutations? I don't see any strange creatures with six eyes and ten legs? Where are they all?"

The scientific errors should be obvious to anyone with a ninth grade education. The rabbi was bashing not on Darwin, but on Lamarck the 18th century academic who is best rememebered today for suggesting that acquired characteristics are inherited.  No respectable scientist thinks Lamarck was right. The theory the Rabbi debunked has been out of favor for almost 150 years. Next perhaps he's denounce alchemy. The yeshiva dope has seen too many scifi movies. Scientists don't claim that dramatic and obvious mutations happen quickly. They say that small, barely noticeable mutations occur gradually over eons and eons. The ancient multi-toed horse didn't transform overnight into the modern single hoofed horse. This took million of years, and happened so slowly that even if you were to line up a million generations of mother and daughter horse skeletons you wouldn't be able to pin point the precise moment when the change occurred. 

More interesting to me than the ignorance is the arrogance. If someone with no Talmudic experience were to issue a public challenge of Torah law, both the yeshiva dope and the Rabbi would be scandalized, and rightly so. Only a fool argues a subject he hasn't studied. Yet this is what the rabbi and the yeshiva dope did. Neither of them hesitated to pontificate on a subject about which they knew less than nothing.

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