Saturday, August 9, 2008

At the bookstore...

Yesterday I went to Books-a-Million and was casually browsing through Skeptic Magazine. I was sitting next to someone, who looked over and saw that I was reading an article about the movie Expelled. So we got into a conversation about evolution and creationism. He brought up an argument I had never heard before: The woodpecker. He explained that the woodpecker closes its eyes before it pecks because it hits the wood with such force that its eyes would pop out if it did not close them. I did not know how to answer this argument. It did not bother me, because I always take these sorts of arguments with a grain of salt (they are arguments from ignorance, after all). Yet on the drive home, a brilliant solution hit me: Assuming that what he said was true about the woodpecker, there is a very easy way for it to evolve. The woodpecker may start by pecking wood, only not with such force. It then evolves the instinct to close its eyes while pecking, in order to prevent chips of wood from getting in its eye, which could damage it or cause infection. After this step occurs, it evolves to peck wood much faster. After all, pecking wood faster means that it can drill more trees in the day, and therefore have a greater chance of finding food. Alternately, it would outcompete its peers.

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