Blind Salamanders and Blind People

This article by Christopher Hitchins made a good point in my opinion. The sort of point that makes you go, hmmmm…. and start researching. Of course, most people won’t actually look any closer, they’ll jump straight to the conclusion just like the article did. Let me warn you it’s not an argument for creation, but instead an argument that purports to conclusively prove evolution… in reverse. Thus proving the principle of evolution in the first place according to those who want to see that way.

What the article truly proves beyond a shadow of a doubt is the blindness of the writer. At least in my opinion. Because anyone, again in my opinion, who cannot respect those who disagree with him or her, is blind to the fact that incredibly intelligent people are found on both sides of any debate. Scoffing at someone might win a debate on an emotional level, but it also makes the scoffer look closed-minded and furthers the divide between people.

For instance, according to the article, anyone who believes God created the universe doesn’t deserve the word “intelligent” to be associated with them, they are also “stupid”, can only intone “the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away” and evidently Ann Coulter speaks for believers as well. (Don’t I get a vote in that?)

The original point of the article IS a really good point in my opinion. It’s a thought-provoking observation. If you believe in God however, you do have to wade through the insults (some veiled and some thrown openly) in order to get there.

I mention it at all for two reasons. For one, if you are a believer, this article is exhibit A in “How-Not-To-Engage-In-A-Debate.” It doesn’t win anyone, it disparages them. While it gives everyone who agrees with you a chance to enjoy some self-congratulations, at best it might simply make someone feel stupid. Not exactly the greatest technique for convincing someone to join you. Christians have acted this way toward others, and well, if you read this article, remember how it makes YOU feel.

Second, it will make the writer and those who join this little bandwagon look a little silly if they jump to conclusions too fast. What if there is an explanation about the salamanders? Then what? Again, if you are a believer, this has happened more than once to those jumping on supposed evidence of creationism too. Darwin for example, did not recant on his deathbed and NASA did not find a “missing day” when trying to launch guys to the moon. The email about that one is a hoax.

Turns out the question about salamanders has been around a bit longer than Christopher Hitchens’ article on July 21, 2008. Although he, and evidently Richard Dawkins (according to Hitchens), believe this is a “new” argument. This book by Bruce Malone dealt with the question in 2001 however. And by golly, he made a good point too which can be read here.

Nevertheless, Hitchens made a good observation and even if he does think all of us who believe in the divine are “grossly stupid,” I’ll still at least give him credit for a good point. (Hitchens uses Coulter’s technique of keeping the name-calling embedded in the middle of some excellent usage of vocabulary)

It does not however, make nonsense of the idea that God created the salamander. Not once you put some good thought into it. After all, what if God created life with the ability to evolve? Evolution and the origin of life are two different sets of questions. What if the genetic defect of salamander blindness has merely been perpetuated by natural selection when in fact, no new genetic information has been produced? What if losing a trait isn’t nearly as difficult as developing an entirely new one?

Maybe it’s not so conclusive Chris.


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