Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

I used to know what that was. Well, I still do. But one time, at college, I was smart. I took classes with names longer than the course description, and read books about Darwin, and people who didn't agree with Darwin, and Stephen Jay Gould, and another fellow who wrote a great book whose name I can't recall at this time. I read articles, integrated knowledge and formed opinions and linked ideas, and overall, I functioned on an intelligent level, with my thought processes revolving around God, and creation and animals, and change over time, and closed mindedness, and open mindedness, and once, I even wrote a final paper about how a professor's approach to teaching contradicted what he was trying to convey in his lectures and discussions. How can you teach people to be open minded about the possible moral implications of scientific research when every time students ask a question or make a suggestion you tell them they are wrong? That seems very closed minded of you!

I was driving home from work tonight and I heard an advertisement for a lecture series at the U of O. It is in celebration of the bicentennial of Darwin's Origin of the Species. I have two points regarding this. 1: The general population doesn't understand evolution. 2: I used to be smart. Now I play bingo.

Point # 1
If you know much about the subject, you know ol' Charlie was reluctant to publish, until he received a manuscript from a colleague with a similar thesis. You'll also know that Charlie's bit was a knock-off of Grandpa Darwin's book, Zo├Ânomia. I'm a little jaded, so I think it's pretty ridiculous for a public university to spend time and taxpayers' dollars celebrating the life and works of a man who, some might say, did a little plagiarizing.

Consider the battle within Charlie: Hey, I saw this. I think this is a possibility. I was raised to believe this. The possibility contradicts the teachings of the church. The possibility, if correct, could give new understanding of the world around us. Well, it's darn hard to prove. I'll sit on it, no need to rock the boat. Wait, someone else thinks this is a possibility too. But hey, they'll get the credit if they publish first. Ne'ermind about the church, I want credit.

So the U of O is celebrating Charlie's decision to rock the boat. Well, I hope that's what they're celebrating, because plagiarizing isn't a very legit reason for celebration. Remember people, I'm not saying I believe humans came from monkeys. I am saying evolution is real, on a microscopic, cellular level and on a huge organismal level! Damn straight. I was raised a Christian, I made profession of faith in my church, believe the words written in the Bible, and make an effort to trust in the Lord, because I know I'm not strong enough for this life on my own. That said, I'll continue.

My mom had her hands full explaining things to me when I was in high school, I had a lot of questions, like if being gay is wrong, why did God even allow for it to enter the world? What about evolution, can I believe in evolution if I'm a Christian? I think one of her best answers from this period in my life was "Katie, God is greater than our human minds can fathom. Sometimes he has to simplify things so we can understand." So I've adopted this answer, and when people ask me how can I call myself a Christian and believe evolution exists in our world, I tell them my God is so great, evolution isn't a problem. If you can't believe in the possibility of atoms and cells and organisms and ecosystems changing over time, you doubt the power of my God.

There are 5 situations that cause change over time, and I'll dig them up and get back to you if anybody ever writes to ask what they are.

Point # 2: I used to be able to list what those 5 things were without having to look them up.

Problem solving is often divided into creative or analytical solutions. Students often do well in arts and music, or math and science. (Some students don't do well at all and that is a result of bad genes, poor parenting, or socio-economic situations the child can't control, and will struggle to overcome all their life.) The right brain is responsible for vision and processes information in an intuitive and simultaneous way, looking first at the whole picture then the details. The left brain is responsible for language and processes information in an analytical and sequential way, looking first at the pieces then putting them together to get the whole. I plagarized that from here. People often assume that being able to paint and understanding math are mutually exclusive. Sorry folks but my corpus callosum proves otherwise. The more time I spend away from school (science school that is!) the more my right brain starts to dominate, and I can feel my left brain getting lazy. I took Lyman Briggs Calc II, people, (that's level 3 calculus in the real world) and passed! But I can paint pretty pictures, and a have the ability to take great photographs without much effort. But my best work is the result of A: my left brain dominating the process, i.e. the paintings hanging in my parents home, or B: natural talent and the greatness of digital cameras speeding up the learning process. The more time I spend away from having to think about things in a logical analytical scientific manner, the more difficult painting is, and the lazier I get!

Damn it, I need to get to bed. I would finish this tomorrow, but my lack of excercising the left half of my brain won't allow me to... or maybe my vanity will overrule that decision. Or I'll take the whole thing down.

No comments: