May 15, 2012

The Evolution of the Wasp

There are over 5,000 species of a parasitic wasp occurring in North America that make up the family Ichneumonidae.  While they all live at the expense of other creatures, some take part in a reproductive process that is especially gruesome. 

A noted biologist describes the process in the following way (taken from The Greatest Show on Earth):

The female wasps lay their eggs in live insect prey, such as caterpillars, but not before carefully seeking out with their sting each nerve ganglion in turn, in such a way that the prey is paralyzed, but still stays alive.  It must be kept alive to provide fresh meat for the growing wasp larva feeding inside.  And the larva, for its part, takes care to eat the internal organs in a judicious order.  It begins by taking out the fat bodies and digestive organs, leaving the vital heart and nervous system till last—they are necessary, you see, to keep the caterpillar alive. 

Here is a question I pose to anyone who insists upon a literal reading of Genesis: Do you really believe God is, on one hand, benevolent, but on the other hand, capable of creating this horrific spook house creature?  In my darkest dreams, I couldn’t imagine such a torture leading to death.  I hope, on behalf of the caterpillar, that it doesn’t feel pain. 

Now, here’s my point: Even if evolution wasn’t empirically proven to be a description of how nature perpetuates itself (which is has) I would believe in it, rather than put my faith in a being capable of imagining and creating that poor caterpillar’s hell.  But if you can only accept literal readings of the Bible as true, let me remind you of what’s contained in Genesis 1:20:

And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.

Did you catch the subtlety?  It says God let the waters bring forth life.  Later in Genesis, God lets the earth do the same thing.  That, to me, suggests a creative process that gives our environment an important part to play.  After all, what fowl is born out of water, except in the way all life emerged from a primordial soup? 

If you honestly want to know whether science has it right and evolution is factual, there is plenty of evidence.  In fact, the mechanics of the theory have been replicated in experiment after experiment and seen in observation after observation.  The reason we call evolution a theory isn’t because it hasn’t been proven—again, it has.  The nomenclature is based upon the conservatism of the scientific approach.  We’ve only proven it inductively by examining all the available evidence, rather than through deduction in the way of a mathematical proof.  In the same way, relativity is also a theory, but that hasn’t stopped us from using its equations.  

If you're teaching your children that evolution is one of the devil's lies, you're doing them a great disservice.  You might as well teach them not to take the next generation antibiotic, because it will be fashioned using the knowledge evolution has imparted to us.  You might as well tell them to remain ignorant about breakthroughs in the study of DNA, because it has given us the mechanics by which evolution occurs.  In fact, you should tell them not to study biology at all, since you cannot divorce it from evolution, except in the minds of Christian apologists.  It is the framework by which biology is understood.  When I have the time I’ll summarize the results of a fascinating biological experiment to support my point.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

there are 6 million known species. 60 % are insects. 40% of known insects are beetles. therefore, 24% of known creatures are beetles. guess God had a thing for beetles?