17 January 2008

Evolution personified

It strikes me as ironic when people personify evolution as some sort of designer. I was reading an article in SIAM News describing the complexity and mathematical modeling of finger movements, when I stumbled across this:
But nature, for no obvious reason, took a different route. Opting to locate the muscles in the palm and forearm, at a distance from the fingers themselves, evolution tinkered its way to a quasi-two-dimensional system of interconnected tendons, more like fishing net than fishing line. This decidedly nonlinear and complex solution, anathema to "reasonable" engineering design, has paid off handsomely.

In the 19th century or even early 20th century, I could easily imagine a scientific article marveling about the incredible design of the human body in the context of a divine Creator. But to use that kind of language when talking about random processes and natural selection seems kind of silly.


Kristy said...

haha, nice. I never noticed that before.

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