This is beyond neat.
This gets at both the precision and the beauty of the theory of evolution in a way that’s completely clear, and really fun to watch. (If you’re a nerd like me, anyway.)
It’s an animated video demolishing the “watchmaker” argument for creationism.
If you’re not familiar with the “watchmaker” argument, it goes roughly like this: The awesome complexity of the human body proves that it had to have had a designer. It could not have evolved naturally, any more than the parts of a watch will evolve naturally into a watch. (Or, as the more modern version of the argument goes: The complexity of the human body evolving by “chance” or at “random” is as likely as a bunch of machine parts in a hurricane assembling themselves into a 747. “Chance” and “random” in quotation marks, because natural selection isn’t random chance… that’s the whole point.)
The main problem with this argument is this: Of course watches and 747s don’t evolve naturally. They’re not alive. They don’t mutate, and they don’t reproduce.
So cdk007 (who has a bunch of other evolution videos on YouTube) created a computer program putting a bunch of clock parts together that could combine, mutate, and reproduce; put them in an environment where the ones that kept time the best were more likely to survive; and ran the program. Several times, with an assortment of different parameters such as rate of mutation and number of teeth on the gears, to make sure his parameters hadn’t been accidentally fine-tuned.
And got clocks.
Functioning, accurate clocks.
Several times over.
What I really like about this video — apart from just, you know, everything — is how neatly it demolishes the “transitional forms” argument against evolution. You know: “Where are all the transitional forms? Why are there these sudden jumps in the fossil record?” Of course there are transitional forms in the fossil record — lots and lots and lots of them — but there are also some sudden (well, “sudden” by geological standards) jumps. This video makes it very clear, in a vivid, visual way, exactly how and why that happens in a completely natural system of natural selection. If a mutation comes along that’s a very big improvement, it’s going to spread very quickly indeed — so quickly that it probably won’t be captured in the fossil record. Note in this video the rapid transition between the Age of Pendulums and the Age of True Clocks.
BTW, you don’t need sound for this video. There’s a very nice song in the background by Coldplay, but the actual content is all visual. (Not that I’m saying you SHOULD watch it at work…)
Video after the jump, since putting videos before the jump screws up my archives.
FYI, you might need to pause it occasionally, since some of the text goes by somewhat quickly.