Evolution is not enough

Really, it isn’t enough to simply “believe” in evolution: it’s more important to understand it and more deeply, to have an intellectual commitment to reason. There’s a beautiful example of this principle in Iowa right now.

Iowa allowed gay marriage in the state a while back, and good for them…only now there’s a bit of pushback and the offended conservatives are lashing out at the judges responsible. Look at this fallacious reasoning from one opponent of gay marriage.

Randy Crawford of Iowa City said he intends to vote for the removal of the justices because he is concerned about the judiciary overstepping its reach and also about the propensity of homosexuals within his community.

“My primary reason for being here is because I believe the Supreme Court should not be legislating from the bench. But I also believe that homosexuality is bad thing,” he said. “It used to be useful when we were cavemen and we needed people to guard the caves full of women and children. If I’m a guy out hunting, I want to leave someone back at the cave tending to my wife and kids, and I don’t want a normal guy having that kind of access to my wife and kids. So, in our evolution, you can see that there use to be a utility for homosexuality, but that was when we were cavemen and we aren’t cavemen anymore. So, homosexuality is obsolete.”

That is an awesome just-so story. It’s also complete nonsense. So, were gay guys incapable of hunting? Were paleolithic women so incapable that they had to have a man, even a gay man, hanging about to take care of them? What exactly were the gay cavemen doing back in the cave with the women? Who’s tending to the modern women, replacing the gay cavemen and making them redundant?

I can invent my own just-so stories, too, and I couldn’t help but imagine life 20,000 years ago with Caveman Randy and Caveman PZ.

Caveman Randy: Ugh. We go kill mammoth with spears.

Caveman PZ: Alas, yes. More strenuous exercise and battling dangerous wild animals. I wish we’d get around to developing universities so I could live a lifestyle more suitable to my delicate frame.

Caveman Randy: You talk funny. Don’t know if me like you behind me. Grab spear, hunt like man. We go now.

Caveman PZ: Of course, because penetrating great beasts with long pointy objects is the epitome of masculinity, and you and I are so much alike, you macho hunk of raging overcompensation.

Caveman Randy: You…like…men? You mock great hunt?

Caveman PZ: I might like men better if they bathed now and then, and could actually carry a conversation more substantial than sporadic grunts. And I can think of much more pleasant ways to spend my time then sweatily plodding over the tundra looking for meat on the hoof.

Caveman Randy: Me get you now, ho ho. You one of those cavemen. <cunning look flits over his face> Me have idea. You stay here. Guard cave. Keep cavewoman out of trouble.

Caveman PZ: You mean that cave over there? The one full of nubile half-naked women who haven’t discovered underwear yet, and who are going to be bored out of their minds while you fellows are off guzzling fermented yak milk and throwing sticks at ugly great beasties for a few days?

Caveman Randy: Yeah. You make hair pretty or something. Me take Cavemen Geraldo instead — him more buff than you, knows how to handle a spear, not stereotypical effete fop like you — you safe with women.

Caveman PZ: I certainly am! You and Caveman Geraldo go have fun thrusting your spears, and I’ll keep the cave cozy and contented.

And the tribe hummed along happily, and its numbers increased, and everyone was happy.