Easy As Falling Off a Bike pt 3163

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The Daily Dormouse.
(aka Bike, est. 2007)
Part 3163
by Angharad

Copyright© 2017 Angharad

  
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This is a work of fiction any mention of real people, places or institutions is purely coincidental and does not imply that they are as suggested in the story.
*****

I’ve been reading, Darwin’s Ghosts by Rebecca Stott. It’s sub title gives the game away, ‘In search of the first evolutionists,” which is what it’s all about. Apart from some of the wacky ideas some of these people had, the thing that surprised me was how powerful religion was—and to some extent still is in the world.

In the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, those who were experimenting with ideas in natural sciences, called themselves natural philosophers because much of what they were hypothesising was pure speculation, sometimes backed with evidence (often wrongly interpreted), sometimes from observation of wild life and sometimes just speculation. These philosophers had to be very careful or have powerful friends because anything which opposed creationism and the bible was treated very harshly and it held back the cause of science quite significantly.

As with today, most science is based on evidence by observation or experimentation and the ideas are then written up and published in peer reviewed journals as a means of avoiding publishing matter which is wrong or off the wall. Sometimes the latter is later proven to be correct, as happened with Einstein and his rejection of the Big Bang theory as it came to be called, until Hubble proved Einstein was wrong and the universe was expanding.

In earlier times the consequence of indiscretion in what you published could cost you your freedom or your life. As Stott’s book suggested the idea of evolution was around for some time before Charles Darwin discovered the mechanism of Natural Selection as the force behind it and which was also discovered by Alfred Russel Wallace almost by chance.

Darwin who’d spent years working out his idea and the evidence he needed to support it only published because because Wallace wrote to him with his own version of it and thus forced his hand. This was in the late 1850s which we think of as pretty well modern times—but were they? Creationists and religion were very much in control and although their evidence was non-existent except by virtue of it in the scriptures and accepted by a largely god-fearing populace as the untrammelled word of god, it was all based upon moonshine.

Darwin lost his faith although his wife was a committed Christian whose biggest worry was at their deaths they would be separated, her in heaven with him consumed by the fires of hell. A situation we may find incredible today but for her was very real. Also Darwin was concerned that his book might cause offence to some of his teachers and peers who were of a religious persuasion, which it did.

Dr Adam Sedgewick was the canon of Norwich cathedral, professor of geology at Trinity college Cambridge and the vice master of that college who’d been upset by Robert Chambers ‘Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation,’ had preached against the book declaring it an abomination. Darwin had some issues with the book as well but that was based upon his own observations and evidence and he waited for a further ten years before he published his magnum opus, ‘Origin of Species by Natural Selection.’ Again Sedgewick condemned the book and urged Darwin to retract it. As we all know Darwin didn’t but the upset it caused to religiously minded people who believed that the bible was the word of god, still has repercussions today even though in Victorian times it was shown that the bible had undergone various alterations in ancient times and that most of it was unverified by historical evidence and certainly by scientific evidence.

Darwin’s theory of Natural Selection has been proven beyond any doubt through the fossil record and the emergence of the dating of rocks and organic remains using carbon. Science has shown us how old the universe is and also how old the earth is. We now have the evidence to prove these things, religion has only faith and no evidence. It is astonishing in a developed society in which people use the benefits of science all the time in the medicines they take or the technology they use, there are those who can still wilfully ignore the evidence of evolution and side with the biblical view of things, which according to Archbishop Ussher occurred at 6.00pm on 22nd of October 4004 BC. To be fair to Ussher, he was making his calculations in the early years of the Seventeenth Century, but even then French Natural Philosophers were suggesting the earth was thousands if not millions of years old and we’ve since learned that it is in fact about 4.6 billion years old and that life began between one and two billion years ago.

The fact that Darwin showed we shared a common ancestor with other primates, especially the great apes, is what seemed to upset people of a religious persuasion, that we diverged over four million years ago doesn’t seem to assuage that annoyance, possibly caused by the suggestion in the bible that species were placed fully formed on the earth and that included man, whereas DNA shows we have 98% the same as Chimpanzees and 94% of that of Gorillas. As Desmond Morris suggested in his provocative book, we are merely Naked Apes, who’ve lost our body hair and acquired large amounts of subcutaneous fat, especially in the female of the species, which the average male finds, shall we say, interesting. Again more evolution in action as we became bipedal and walked upright and grew extra sweat glands.

One thing which made me smile in my book was that Darwin decided to use barnacles as a target species suggesting he’d study them for a few weeks and ended up taking eight years as he corresponded with lots of people all over the world and received letters and specimens from equally far flung places. For those with an interest in anatomy, the barnacle probably has the largest penis to body size in the animal kingdom, not bad for an essentially hermaphrodite creature.

My reading was disturbed by squabbling siblings and I had to return from the Nineteenth Century and deal with issues in the Twenty First one. Trish and Livvie really are like natural sisters, they fight tooth and nail or are as close as conjoined twins, especially when a third party gets involved, usually another of their sisters mostly Mima but occasionally Danielle or Hannah. Today it was just the two warriors who were disputing ownership of a book.

I don’t encourage them to write their names in books but sometimes I consider it might be expedient to do so, especially in sorting ownership as in today’s spat. When I said I’d confiscate it until they could behave properly, they both started on me which had the consequence that the confiscation was ensured.

They both continued complaining until I suggested i could start confiscating electronic devices as well—then it suddenly went quiet and they both dashed off to squabble over something else. The joys of parenthood, which became even more delicate when Livvie came to see me on her own to say she was bleeding somewhere and could I take a look? She’d just become a young woman and how was I, someone who’d never had such an experience going to help her deal with it? I wasn’t sure except I’d do it with love.

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