We all know who Darwin was, of course. He was the guy who gave us the theory of evolution, which really, that seems like enough for us secular students to give him props. After all, up until that point, the origin of the human species was generally ascribed to various creation myths. But we secular students have another reason for celebrating Darwin Day.
Darwin was the guy who said:
“I cannot persuade myself that a beneficient and omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidae with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of Caterpillars.”
Ichneumonidae are parasitic wasps, of which there are at least 60,000 species, so I’d say Darwin has a point. That seems like a lot of time and attention on a fairly gross form of parasitism – more Alien than influenza. Actually, it’s worse than even Darwin knew – some of those 60 000 wasps are the kind of parasite that controls the mind of its host – something that isn’t actually all that uncommon. We see it in species like ants, snails and mice – and there is even some controversial discussion on whether or not that mouse parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, has a behavioural effect on humans. In fact, as many as half the species on earth can be defined as parasites.
Seems like a bit much for a kind and loving God, I agree, Darwin.
So today, spare a thought today for the great scientist and thinker, Charles Darwin. In the words of Richard Dawkins, “Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.” Or, at least, an intellectually fulfilled biologist like me.