Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Mmegi - End of the world or just sanity?

In response to this article in Mmegi regarding the end of the world.
I enjoyed your article in Mmegi on 28th March entitled "Is May 21 judgement day?"

I appreciated it because unlike most religious proclamations this one can actually be tested. The prediction from Harold Camping's bizarre church group is that the world will end in the period "from May 21 to October 21 2011". They state that we will "experience great torment, which will begin with a great earthquake that opens all the graves and brings normal daily earthly life to a halt".

That shouldn't be too difficult to test.

I'm not worried though. Harold Camping is famous for having previously predicted that the end of the world would occur in 1994. Maybe I missed it? He's just one of many doomsday predictors who have persuaded their gullible followers that they have some mathematical formula for predicting the end. Charles Wesley, who founded the Methodists, predicted it would occur in 1794, 1874 was one of the many predictions made by the Jehovah's Witnesses, 1988, '98 and '99 were very popular years for various groups, even Isaac Newton predicted that 2000 would be the end. It seems that no year passes without some fringe group predicting the end of the world.

All of them have been wrong so far. Why should we think he will be right this time?

The drinks are on me in November when we can all ask Camping how he got it wrong yet again

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Evolution is as true as gravity

In response to a very uninformed letter to Mmegi, entitled "We have never been gorillas".


Your correspondent, Shine Namane, who wrote a letter last Friday entitled "We have never been gorillas" doesn't seem to understand anything about evolution.

To begin with he suggests that evolution has taught us that human beings were "originally a gorilla or a chimpanzee". This is simply not true. Our current understanding of humanity's origins is that both humans and chimpanzees evolved from a common ancestor, another species that is now extinct. Nobody in the world believes we're descended from chimps or gorillas.

He also suggests that "christians believe that evolution is a lie". Again untrue. The Roman Catholic church accepts evolution. So do the Anglicans and Methodists. It's actually a fairly small set of fundamental biblical literalists who believe that the Bible accurately describes the origins of either the universe or life.

He also seems to overlook, or perhaps he simply hasn't seen, the vast amount of evidence for evolution. Museums around the world are stocked with transitional fossils, the DNA evidence is overwhelming and evolution can even be seen to happen in certain species that conveniently reproduce very quickly.

Mmegi readers shouldn't infer from Mr Namane's letter that there is any real intellectual and academic opposition to evolution. Darwin's theory of natural selection is as respected as Newton's theory of gravity or Einstein's theories of relativity.

Finally, far from being "degrading", "ridiculous" and "a lie", a truthful understanding of our origins can only give us a better sense of our place in nature, something that the enlightened see as magnificent, awesome and uplifting.