Belief in evolution may prevent bird-flu

I was riding in an airplane not very long ago, seated next to a young woman who was on her way to visit a college. She was from somewhere in Oregon where everyone goes to a Christian school and practices strict rules of virtuous living. For example, she said, children are not allowed to carry bags or boxes in the school buildings in order to ensure that everyone can safely escape during a fire.

Makes sense, right? I didn’t think so either. But I wasn’t content to just nod blithely and let her discover reality on her own. No, I had to argue with her for several hours and try to help her arrive at a more logical conclusion about rules that ban kids from carrying bags.

One item in particular that really seemed to surprise her was that Darwin might have contributed something meaningful to the modern world. Believe it or not, this intelligent-seeming woman had been told that Darwin wrote a Theory of Evolution because his daughter died at a young age and so he became an athiest and just wanted to thumb his nose at God. I’m not making this up. She said they learned this in school, as well as bible camp. It’s amazing what passes for an education in America these days. Anyway, the story only became stranger when the woman said she was planning to study biology or chemistry in college. “How it doesn’t really exist?” I asked with glee.

To make a long story short, I don’t know if I made a positive impact on this woman, but I did my best to help her emphasize critical thinking and using the scientific method to arrive at conclusions in order to gradually help her debunk most of what she had probably been raised to believe as absolute gospel. And then today I read the amusing news that a NY museum has said that without Darwin’s theory we would be far less able to research and fight the bird flu:

“Without his insights, we would fail to appreciate the dangerous potentials of rapid evolution in the avian flu virus,” Michael Novacek, curator of paleontology at the museum, told a news conference on Tuesday.

To which the creationists replied “Obviously God created Darwin so that he could create the insights that would create the understanding that will create the ultimate vaccine for those who are chosen to survive. Isn’t that self evident? You say ‘proof’, I say banana.”

One thought on “Belief in evolution may prevent bird-flu”

  1. This reminds me of the debate I heard on a “Nova” special about evolution. I don’t recall the exact conversation – but it went something like this

    Simplistico: “Would you have a monkey as your ancestor?”

    Reponse: “If I had to choose between a man, who even though in full command of his facilities, cannot perceive the world about him because he turns his back on logic, evidence, and reason; and a monkey who can tell the difference between what is accurate and not – then I should surely choose the ape.”

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