Sunday, May 5, 2013

In the light, again

This was written a 2 years ago, and it works again today. We only get so many Msys in a lifetime.

"Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution."
Theodosius Dobzhansky

I should be crafting a descent with modification (misnamed "evolution") exam.

Descent with modification is the heart of biology. Without it, a world with red-lipped batfish, roly-polies, and humans makes no sense, no matter how clever God pretends to be.

Without it, nothing in biology makes sense. Nothing.

Seems sacrilegious to test it using vocabulary and a few standard examples any student paying attention can just fly through half aware of our universe.
I walked tonight, crushing thousands of insects and worms, breathing in microbes, watching squirrels and starlings and dogs and robins and humans go about their business.

A cherry tree late for the party dropped a few last petals on my head.

Mosquitoes paraded around my tiny pond, blissfully unaware that soon it will be filled with young fish born in a tank in Room B362, trapped by glass they learned to avoid, soon to be munching on the young wrigglers laid today.

Sunlight bathes us now, and everything that buzzes or tweeps or flaps or gurgles has forgotten that darkness was ever possible. At least I have.

And if I can forget, despite centuries of words telling me of death and of destruction and of entropy, well, what hope does the fledgling robin I saw bouncing around the Green yesterday have of grasping how serious this all must be.

Seriousness is a human conceit.

It's May. I going to listen to the fledglings for now, as long as now lasts, as long as the sun continues to bathe us with grace.

Red-lipped batfish--really, how serious can we be if red-lipped batfish exist?
The red-lipped batfish photo from PBS here.


Anonymous said...

Good quote and a strong reason why biology teachers should never shy away from incorporating evolution in their lessons. The terms "biology" and "evolution" can be replaced by "geology" or "astronomy" and "plate tectonics" or "the big bang" and create two different but equally compelling statements.

As much as I loathe and detest high-stakes standardized testing, it has forced a couple of the biology teachers in my department who used not to say anything about evolution in the classroom ("It's SO controversial...") to actually start teaching it, knowing that it's going to be "on the test".

doyle said...

Dear cope,

That is as about as sad a reason as any, but you're right, the tests at least impose some standards for the incompetent among us.

They exist, and even one is one too many....