Author Topic: Darwin for Toddlers. It's Not that Complicated.  (Read 783 times)

Offline SGOS (OP)

Darwin for Toddlers. It's Not that Complicated.
« on: May 31, 2017, 09:43:18 AM »
My dad used to take me places, and the first time I remember him taking me to the zoo, I found myself in the primate building.  There were monkeys there.  I thought they were more interesting than the other animals, although I liked all the different animals that day.  I was just big enough to stand next to an enclosure and see in without being picked up.  There were 20 or so monkeys swinging around on trees and bars in the cage.  It was a hive of activity.  One swung over to me, and just from the other side of the glass, looked me right in the eyes.  He was as interested in me as I was of him.  Both of us stood frozen looking at each other.  He seemed to be very curious about me as he searched my face with a questioning look.  I wondered what he was thinking. My dad came over to see what was happening, and I said, "They look like little people."  My dad said, "Some people say we are related to them."

At that age, my dad told me a lot of things that didn't make sense, but this information made perfect sense, and I thought, "Yeah, that must be why they look like little people.  Dogs don't look like people.  Birds don't look like people, but monkeys look like little people.  We must be related to them somehow."  I didn't know how, but there was definitely something about our similarities that invites the idea that we are linked.

My dad was very religious, but seemed to think that some of those people who said we were related might be right, but in retrospect, I don't if that's what he actually thought.  He wasn't trying to indoctrinate me.  He just passed along what he had learned, without saying that those other people were wrong, but to me it was obvious.  Monkeys looked like people. 
 
At one time my dad became good friends with a guy we met on vacation.  You might say my father idolized this person who my father said completely rejected evolution.  When my father's friend visited our house, I asked him why he didn't accept evolution.  He responded by reaching down to the ground and picking up a fallen leaf.  He said, "Look at this leaf, see the parallel veins, and the intricacy of the design?  This could only be made by God."

I thought, "OMG!  This guy is a idiot.  Who hasn't examined a leaf?  Yep, parallel veins, but sometimes not parallel veins, and yes, I think they are very nice."   Philosophical my dad's friend was, and poetic too, but still mentally confused.  When asked about differences between species, you don't explain it by being a wordsmith.  Do it methodically, informally footnoting your claims with simple explanations.  Try to follow a progression of ideas that actually result in a sequitur.  Don't spout poetry.  That's not very helpful.

Evolution is actually quite simple.  Some people might think it's complicated, and some of the biochemistry can be, but evolution itself is easy enough for a child to understand.  There is no need to make it confusing, and brining religion into it just confuses it more.


Offline Baruch

Re: Darwin for Toddlers. It's Not that Complicated.
« Reply #1 on: May 31, 2017, 12:45:01 PM »
40 years ago, my Dad noted that chickens (we had a coop) look rather primitive.  Must be related to dinosaurs.  Of course subsequent evidence vindicated that ... they are descended from dinosaurs.  Humans however are not descended from dinosaurs, we have a common ancestor, that predated both dinosaurs and mammals.  Hence the relative lack of resemblance.
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Re: Darwin for Toddlers. It's Not that Complicated.
« Reply #2 on: May 31, 2017, 04:36:53 PM »
Carl Sagan was pretty good at explaining evolution in simple (but not simplistic) ways. I really enjoyed his discussion of samurai crabs, on the original Cosmos, though that was actually artificial selection, is was easy to see how it could apply to natural selection.





God Not Found
“Money supplants skill; it's possession allows us to become happily stupid.”
Bill McKibben, The Age of Missing Information

Offline Baruch

Re: Darwin for Toddlers. It's Not that Complicated.
« Reply #3 on: May 31, 2017, 06:50:27 PM »
Yes, and centuries of going to Kabuki drama, is why Japanese faces are all so ... scrunched up and angry looking (see posters of samurai characters) ;-)  Like my mom warned, if you make a face like that, it might stay that way ;-)
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Offline SGOS (OP)

Re: Darwin for Toddlers. It's Not that Complicated.
« Reply #4 on: May 31, 2017, 08:43:01 PM »
Yeah, I remember that episode of Cosmos.

Re: Darwin for Toddlers. It's Not that Complicated.
« Reply #5 on: May 31, 2017, 09:18:46 PM »
SGOS, you should have gone to the zoo with Valentine Michael.
We 'new atheists' have a reputation for being militant, but make no mistake  we didn't start this war. If you want to place blame put it on the the religious zealots who have been poisoning the minds of the  young for a long long time."
PZ Myers

Offline SGOS (OP)

Re: Darwin for Toddlers. It's Not that Complicated.
« Reply #6 on: June 01, 2017, 08:20:59 AM »
SGOS, you should have gone to the zoo with Valentine Michael.
I'm drawing a blank here.  I looked this guy up, but I'm not making a connection.

Re: Darwin for Toddlers. It's Not that Complicated.
« Reply #7 on: June 01, 2017, 08:29:59 AM »
I'm drawing a blank here.  I looked this guy up, but I'm not making a connection.
Try "Valentine Michael Smith".
We 'new atheists' have a reputation for being militant, but make no mistake  we didn't start this war. If you want to place blame put it on the the religious zealots who have been poisoning the minds of the  young for a long long time."
PZ Myers

Offline SGOS (OP)

Re: Darwin for Toddlers. It's Not that Complicated.
« Reply #8 on: June 01, 2017, 09:51:47 AM »
Try "Valentine Michael Smith".
I did, and I know who he is.  I'm just not sure how it relates to my experience.

Re: Darwin for Toddlers. It's Not that Complicated.
« Reply #9 on: June 01, 2017, 10:45:05 AM »
I did, and I know who he is.  I'm just not sure how it relates to my experience.
When he goes to the zoo and watches the big monkey pick on the small monkey and the small monkey vent by beating up on a smaller monkey he finally understands humans. And asks how he can be ordained.

So, if you'd gone with Mike you might be a reverend by now.
We 'new atheists' have a reputation for being militant, but make no mistake  we didn't start this war. If you want to place blame put it on the the religious zealots who have been poisoning the minds of the  young for a long long time."
PZ Myers

Offline SGOS (OP)

Re: Darwin for Toddlers. It's Not that Complicated.
« Reply #10 on: June 01, 2017, 10:52:12 AM »
When he goes to the zoo and watches the big monkey pick on the small monkey and the small monkey vent by beating up on a smaller monkey he finally understands humans. And asks how he can be ordained.

So, if you'd gone with Mike you might be a reverend by now.
I guess Mike and I learned different things at the zoo.

Re: Darwin for Toddlers. It's Not that Complicated.
« Reply #11 on: June 01, 2017, 10:54:56 AM »
I guess Mike and I learned different things at the zoo.
You weren't an essential tabula rasa when you went there. Mike wasn't even happy with the idea that he was one of these "humans". Once he grokked them he knew what had to be done.
We 'new atheists' have a reputation for being militant, but make no mistake  we didn't start this war. If you want to place blame put it on the the religious zealots who have been poisoning the minds of the  young for a long long time."
PZ Myers

Offline Cavebear

Re: Darwin for Toddlers. It's Not that Complicated.
« Reply #12 on: June 18, 2017, 07:45:20 AM »
Michael Valentine Smith (or whatever - it seems to vary) adapted to Mars individually, but that has nothing to do with evolution.  The premise sucked big time but I liked the book after that when I first read it a couple times.  But as I grew older, I decided the whole story was moronic and puerile.  And when it comes to books, I'm pretty good at "the willing suspension of disbelief".

I can't read Heinlein any more.  I came to view him as a sexist libertarian nut far sideways of even Ayn Rand.
Atheist born, atheist bred.  And when I die, atheist dead!  b 1950

Offline Baruch

Re: Darwin for Toddlers. It's Not that Complicated.
« Reply #13 on: June 18, 2017, 09:01:32 AM »
Michael Valentine Smith (or whatever - it seems to vary) adapted to Mars individually, but that has nothing to do with evolution.  The premise sucked big time but I liked the book after that when I first read it a couple times.  But as I grew older, I decided the whole story was moronic and puerile.  And when it comes to books, I'm pretty good at "the willing suspension of disbelief".

I can't read Heinlein any more.  I came to view him as a sexist libertarian nut far sideways of even Ayn Rand.

Science fiction is an opportunity to write a social thought experiment, or satire, in ways that would be unacceptable with real people.  Like a video game, a first person shooter.  You wouldn't shoot a real person, would you?
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Re: Darwin for Toddlers. It's Not that Complicated.
« Reply #14 on: June 19, 2017, 07:24:26 AM »
Michael Valentine Smith (or whatever - it seems to vary) adapted to Mars individually, but that has nothing to do with evolution.  The premise sucked big time but I liked the book after that when I first read it a couple times.  But as I grew older, I decided the whole story was moronic and puerile.  And when it comes to books, I'm pretty good at "the willing suspension of disbelief".

I can't read Heinlein any more.  I came to view him as a sexist libertarian nut far sideways of even Ayn Rand.
The first line of Stranger in a Strange Land is "Once upon a time there was a Martian named Valentine Michael Smith." It doesn't "vary", people get it wrong.

And your opinion is noted.
We 'new atheists' have a reputation for being militant, but make no mistake  we didn't start this war. If you want to place blame put it on the the religious zealots who have been poisoning the minds of the  young for a long long time."
PZ Myers