Euplectella aspergillum: Part III.
Sponges, Design, And Natural Order
by Richard L. Howey, Wyoming, USA
From the time of Copernicus, we humans have had to deal with a series of intellectual and conceptual revolutions which irrevocably transformed our views of ourselves and our understanding of our world. Much of the world has become utterly dependent upon these new perspectives and technologies and yet there are people in a few, as yet undeveloped areas, who remain virtually untouched by these radical transformations. I have often thought that if one were to take an Indian from an isolated Amazonian tribe and plop him down in the middle of Times Square, he would probably go insane. He would have essentially no reference points to make sense of what he was experiencing. He would almost assuredly feel besieged by demons. What humans do not understand and, therefore often find threatening, they tend to regard as evil. Unfortunately, what has not been understood in a given period, has often been turned into either a "divine" or "demonic" mystery by all kinds of religions in their attempt to provide a sense of psychological comfort and coherence as well as increasing their power and control over their believers.
However, before I get too far astray, let me return to the issues of cultural and intellectual revolutions. The Catholic church did not, in the least, like the views of Copernicus or those who advocated them and undertook a campaign to stamp out the heresy of heliocentrism. The Church authorities were less than tolerant regarding this matter: Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake for supporting this theory and Galileo was placed under house arrest for the rest of his life. It is small comfort that in the last decade of the 20th Century, the Church decided to reconsider the case of Galileo. The Earth, and consequently humankind, had been torn out of its crucial position as the center of the universe. This meant that humans had lost a dimension of self-importance and cosmic significance. However, fortunately for the believers who were swayed by scientific views, Newton came along. Newton offered a very comforting and reassuring view of both God and the universe. God came to be understood as the ultimate scientist and engineer, who designed the universe, set it in motion and then left it to run on its own. However, the best part was that Newton tells us that the principles which regulate the cosmos are Absolute Laws—eternal, inviolable, immutable—and once we have the Laws (which Newton kindly provides), all the rest of what we need to know can be learned by the proper application of our reason, to figure out the details. This is not only a comforting, but a mechanistically beautiful, view of nature and man's place in it. Design, order, sense, meaning—no wonder this view held sway for so long. Lurking in the wings, however, were figures destined to undermine this cosmic euphoria. A quiet and retiring revolutionary was, from the vantage point of the religious, one of the most dangerous—Charles Darwin. When Darwin joined on as the naturalist for The Beagle, he had no hidden agenda. He himself, at that time, was moderately religious and although he had some academic training, he remained essentially an independent amateur naturalist with an extraordinary sense of curiosity and an astonishing ability to observe the minutest details—a role model for us all. Darwin was certainly no firebrand and his integrity, honesty, and modesty make him almost impossible to dismiss.
Over the course of the years of the voyage, and even thereafter, Darwin and Captain Fitzroy acted out, on a tiny, isolated scale, a drama that was eventually to become global and which still resounds today. Much of the debate revolves around issues relating to the matter of the worth of human life, and in particular, the individual. The Judeo-Christian and Muslim traditions have produced not only an anthropocentric perspective of the cosmos, but an obsessively egocentric one as well. These traditions are not in the least bit interested in an anonymous afterlife—a Zen reabsorption into Cosmic Mind or a Hindu purification through multiple incarnations to finally achieve the peace of breaking out of the cycle of rebirth and into oblivion, hold no charms—no, the central concern of theJudeo-Christian and Muslim traditions are the afterworldly survival of the personalized, individual ego—their theme song (or hymn) could very well be: "I gotta be me!".
At this point, you might very well ask in utter exasperation: But what has all of this to do with glass sponges?" Well, I'll remind you that in Victorian-style essays, one has a certain entitlement to ramble wildly. Let's think a bit more about the puzzle of an organism such as Euplectella. Some people are not only perplexed by such a creature, but metaphysically disturbed. "How," they will ask, "could some tiny bits of slimy stuff, produce something as elegant as this glass skeleton? It couldn't have happened by mere chance!" they assert. Here, of course, lurking behind the scenes, is a build-up for an appeal to the teleological argument for God (usually Jehovah, in some form or other). These Designists want us to notice all the extraordinary examples of' “natural order” in the cosmos and conclude from this that there must be a DESIGNER. Their argument goes something like this: Look at a house. It has a distinct plan, a definite arrangement, the items in it serve definite purposes—in other words, its arrangement has meaning, significance,and purpose. Then, they might further argue: Imagine that you have a lot of endurance, strength, and persistence and, further imagine that you have a large collection of bricks, lumber in assorted lengths and widths, nails, screws, electrical cable, gas pipe, water pipe, window glass, roofing, etc. Now, imagine that you are a sort of Superman or Superwoman and you take this collection of stuff and keep tossing it into the air until it comes down in just the right way and—Voila!—you have a lovely house. This account is at least one version of the Designists' critique of evolution as a "random" process—they are very impressed with all of the order which they can find in nature and don't believe that such complicated entities as the Euplectella skeleton or the "Venus Comb" Murex shell or the stunning camouflage acts of creatures such as sea dragons and stonefish, could occur without some kind of intelligence behind nature.
Now, let me admit that I have long found the argument from design quite attractive, almost seductive. The great German philosopher, Kant, said that of all the types of arguments for the existence of God, the argument from design was psychologically and aesthetically the most appealing—even though he ends up rejecting all of the types claiming to prove the existence of God. So, even though I have an appreciation for the design argument, there are several fundamental problems with its various versions. Let's look at some of these issues more closely.
Natural Order. David Hume, the Scottish philosopher and historian, had keen insights into the difficulties involved with the concept of natural order. A matter of crucial importance which he raises is: How can we distinguish between natural order and a kind of order imposed by human consciousness?
Imagine a valley with high, steep cliffs on each side and with large boulders perched unstably at the edges. Further suppose that there is a moderate earthquake and many of these boulders are dislodged and go crashing down, shattering into smaller and smaller fragments, until finally, a vast number of pebbles are widely scattered across the valley floor. Sometime thereafter, but remarkably, on the same day, a poet wanders into the valley from the north and a scientist from the south. Both, as you might expect, have notebooks with them and each is astounded by what he observes. The poet starts to look more and more carefully at the pebbles and makes a remarkable discovery—if you take this group of pebbles over here, it defines the outline of a giraffe and, over there, is a lion, and further on, an alligator, and so he takes out his notebook and makes sketches, carefully documenting these extraordinary examples of natural order. Meanwhile, the scientist who wandered in from the other end, has also noticed something of great interest. The pebbles are a virtual textbook of plane geometry. He gets out his notebook and as he walks he records the arrangements of pebbles that describe squares and circles and parallelograms and triangles and hexagons. As he reaches the halfway point through the valley, he encounters the poet and they introduce themselves and fall into conversation. They each express their astonishment at the wonderful natural order of the pebbles and are in complete agreement that such amazing patterns could not have occurred merely by chance. At that point, they unfortunately decided to trade notebooks and, after examining each others drawings, a furious argument ensues and, since this is the age in which science and technology dominate, the scientist kills the poet.
Both, of course, are wrong. There is no natural order in these arrangements; instead, there are many possible attributions of order which human consciousness can impose on such a scattering of pebbles (or stars or cracks in mud flats or flights of birds or sheep entrails or lines on turtle shells—the last three all being "methods" which ancients used to predict the future.) These are not examples of natural order anymore than is the arrangement of books in a library. When we arrange collections of objects, we often do so for utilitarian reasons, but we are not bound by that and we might arrange a group of things in a way that gives us aesthetic, rather than practical, pleasure. We might arrange a library by subject, by book size, by color, alphabetically by author, by date, by publisher, etc. The books in my office are disorganized by a combination of vague relations in terms of subject matter, courses which I was just teaching, volumes I had recently (within the last 5 years) referred to for a research reference, and whim sometimes mixed with a bit of whimsy—in other words, my personal office library is about a 9 on the Richter scale of chaos. Oddly, though, I rarely have much difficulty in locating the particular book I want to use. Individual humans can be remarkably creative in organizing objects, ideas, and data and the patterns that any particular human comes up with may be highly idiosyncratic, but nonetheless, quite efficient. The problematic side of this is that some people can find order in virtually any collection of ideas or entities and further insist that this order is "natural" or intrinsic.
Hume, as an epistemological skeptic, does, I think, regard the entire notion of "natural order" with a rather jaundiced eye and, indeed, some versions of both contemporary quantum theory and relativity theory seem to support his standpoint. In several significant aspects, Hume was far ahead of his time. He presented a brilliant critique of the classical one-to-one model of causation and exposited probabilistic models of explanation as an alternative—very modem indeed! Humans seem to have a "natural" disposition toward universalization—just look at Plato and all of his "Absolute Ideas". Frequently, we forget that our ideas require a specific and delimited context to have genuine significance and meaning—and, this is especially the case with concepts of natural order. It is rather amusing, as well as being a wonderful example of hubris, when we make claims that extend to the entire universe, as though we had already visited the Andromedean galaxy, the Horseshead Nebula, the Veil Nebula of Cygnus, and indeed the very edges of the cosmos. Actually, it is nearly as ludicrous when we "merely" make such claims for the planet Earth given how little we genuinely know. I am reminded of a delightful story about Diogenes of Sinope, the Cynic, who despised pretension and hypocrisy. On one occasion when he wandered into the market place of Athens, a man was holding forth about astronomical marvels and describing the wonders of the planets and other celestial entities. "Diogenes listened for a while and then asked him: "And how long were you in coming from the stars?"
Here I have a profound ambivalence. Our knowledge is so fragmentary, so preliminary, so tentative and yet, the facts and interpretations which we have accumulated over the centuries are indeed impressive and hint at the extraordinary potential of the human brain. Here, precisely, is the danger—pride.
A German philosopher, Alwin Diemer, an Husserlian phenomenologist, wrote a fascinating book on critical ontology in which he raises the issue of time in relation to our capacity to grasp patterns and make sense of them. I will adapt and slightly modify his view to apply it here to our discussion. Let's assume that the average human life is about 80 years and we notice certain patterns of growth and seasonal cycles depending on where we live. (It used to be a standard joke that in Laramie there were just two seasons: winter and one month of bad skiing, but this was just propaganda to keep the tourists from settling here.) Consider the following thought-experiment; imagine that the human life span is compressed to only 80 minutes, but that other things remained more or less the same. Further suppose that you were born during a snowstorm. How different your view of the world would be from someone born during a rain shower or a heatwave. Think how long it would take humans to map out the pattern of the seasons, let alone all the geographic meteorological variations.
Then what if we were to run it the other direction, so that the average life span is 80,000 years. We might notice patterns that had previously eluded us and other phenomena which we regarded as consistent and predictable might well turn out to be transitory quirks, anomalies lasting a mere 10 or 15 thousand years and then altering irrevocably. Geology reminds us that there have been Ice Ages which have radically altered the climate. So, if we had this very long life span, we might discover large scale climatic patterns. Personally, however, I suspect that the more extensive our perspective became both temporally and spatially, the more disorder we would find—sort of an epistemological corollary to the principle of entropy. To make this a bit clearer, I'd like to go back to Hume's skepticism regarding natural order.
Hume was, I think, quite right that many of the examples which we regard as instances of natural order are certainly not instances of intrinsic order independent of human consciousness, the "patterns" of the constellations, the pebbles in the valley, etc. However, I am convinced that we need to look a bit deeper into this problem of intrinsic order. To do this, I need to introduce a distinction, namely between teleology and teleonomy. Let's use a rather simplified model—regard teleology as that view which argues Ultimate Purpose,Order, Design, and ,of course, finally some sort of deity. Teleonomy, on the other hand, is much more modest—it is a view which admits that within limited biophysical, biochemical and temporal frameworks we can discern patterns we can make predictions, we can find purpose, goal-oriented behaviors which are intelligible, but ONLY within that limited, specified context. In other words, it is a recognition that Euplectella represents a fundamentally different sort of order than the distribution of the pebbles. But, there is an additional complication: What is the role of the "we", human consciousness, in all of this, and how do we specify the contexts?
Quantum physics claims that in the very act of observing phenomena, we alter them, but we can consider some less abstruse and less enigmatic examples as well. Anthropologists came to realize that they had to exercise great care when studying tribal cultures in order to minimize their impact on the group, thus altering their culture. Just consider the potential effects of the introduction of a single transistor radio into a culture which has had little or no contact with the modem world.
Psychologists and neuro-physiologists have recognized that human behavior can be altered and, to some degree, directed in ways ranging from biasing questions in a survey to get a set of desired answers to using powerful drugs to alter the brain chemistry and influence perception, interpretation, and behavior. Biologists have also come to realize that in studying organisms in artificial environments—whether they be in a culture dish or a modern zoo—the organisms will, in many instances, behave differently than they do in the wild and this is true from Lacrymaria to lemurs. This means that the biologist must be keenly aware of these issues of context, a perspective which is easy to lose and which can lead to misdescriptions and misinterpretations of the significance of behavior, physiology, and even morphology.
To make matters even more difficult we have two troublesome tendencies which can distort our understanding: 1) abstractive reduction which we come to treat uncritically as a scientific, methodological standard and 2) the disposition, especially with regard to higher animals, to project inappropriate models of interpretation on them derived from our own behavior and, sometimes, morphology. Consider in particular dolphins, whales, chimpanzees, gorillas, and, in a somewhat different ways, cats and dogs. (After more than 50 years of owning cats and dogs, I was mildly offended to learn that all the lovely and loving cats we have had simply regarded me as a mother substitute.) We know that even some invertebrates, such as, the social insects, have developed complex and sophisticated ways of communicating with each other, largely on a biochemical basis. We also know that cetaceans, especially dolphins and humpback whales, use sound and patterned "songs" as a means of communication. They also have very large brains, in some cases, larger than our own, which should give us pause to reflect. These are extraordinary creatures, but some enthusiasts have been led to make extreme, and even absurd, claims regarding their intelligence and "languages". With higher primates, these claims can become even more egregious, especially with regard to the ability to manipulate symbols or "create" art. Chimpanzees may have produced canvases worthy of Jackson Pollack or Clifford Still, but I am not convinced that any of this is a threat to Vermeer, Rembrandt, Titian, El Greco, Da Vinci, etc. Our gullibility in allowing the snobbish New York art establishment to convince us that car radiators welded to bumpers, enormous black canvases with a tiny area a bit blacker than the rest and poles dropped into holes in the ground which are then filled up again ("happenings"), constitute art and, that they also have the gall to pretend that they are performing an eleemosynary (I've always wanted to use this word—it just means "charitable") act for the artist—all of this is a symptom of our desperate need and nearly infinite ability to find (or create) patterns and "meaning' everywhere.
"What is he on about?", you're asking yourselves. Where is all of this going? Without realizing or intending it, creationists (and intelligent design (ID) theorists) have made scientists a bit more critical and careful in the presentation of certain central concepts. By selecting a small number of striking examples of teleonomic order to argue teleology—that is, a final, Ultimate, Natural Order produced by an Absolute Designer, a.k.a., God—the creationists have forced science to pay closer attention to issues of pattern and form and also to focus attention on the selectivity of the creationists' examples by pointing out a larger and immensely complex context of chaos and entropy.
One of the problems with the creationists' central argument is that the striking examples of order which they select, such as, Euplectella are so striking, precisely because in the larger context of nature there is so much disorder. One of the reasons for this is that nature is so chock full of stuff—everywhere you look, there is mud or rocks or mountains or water or living organisms, from those not visible to the naked eye to the behemoths—the humpback whales. Stuff everywhere!Just consider sand grains; you find them on the sea shore, in the mountains, at the edges of ponds, lakes, and rivers, and, of course in deserts (occasionally, even in desserts) and, our missions to the moon and Mars suggest that there's lots of sand there too. Sand, under certain circumstances, can be made to "behave" within a fairly well-defined set of possibilities; however, left to its own devices, sand is pretty unpredictable. We can find examples of complex patterns in sand caused by wind and water, but creationists don't tend to use such examples. Think of the enormous, uncountable number of sand grains just on the planet Earth. What are they good for? What's their purpose beyond getting into our shoes, hair, and food at beach picnics? It seems almost silly to ask about their "purpose" outside of a specific context; they don't seem to support any grandiose theory of design. And to think, God created every single one of these sand grains in its specific configuration and combination of mineral inclusions! A time-consuming project!? No, it only took a tiny part of one of six days—"Let there be sand,And, lo, God beheld the sand and found that it was good." Now, here the ID theorists do tend to part company with the orthodox creationists of the Bishop Ussher variety and allow that the timeframes mentioned in the bible are metaphorical, so that, in their version, God could design things in such a way that after a very, very long time, there was a lot of sand, plenty for all the beaches and deserts. Nonetheless, there remains the problem of how we get order out of sand. I don't think even the creationists look at the sand on beaches or in deserts and marvel at the design and natural order. William Blake found "a world in a grain of sand," but I suspect he meant something rather different and certainly the orthodox creationists are unlikely to embrace Blake's brand of rather looney mystical views.
Consider the formal gardens of Versailles or those of the grand English estates. These are splendid examples of a deeply rooted human need to introduce order. Why not just settle for lawn beds populated with thistles, ragweed, and dandelions? And nature is maddeningly persistent in introducing disorder (unwanted weeds) into our meticulously planned and carefully tended gardens. (For a delightful account of the frustrations of gardening, try reading Charles Dudley Warner's witty reflections in My Summer in A Garden). Human attempts to control aspects of nature have met with only limited and relatively short-term success and our attempts to create stable human societies have met with near universal failure. Now that we have global communication, global transport, and the terrible technologies of nuclear, chemical, and biological warfare, we are a greater danger to the planet and to ourselves than ever before in history. What this suggests about those who find design and order everywhere is that they have, indeed, been very selective in their examination of the world or they have the dogmatic convenience and luxury of attributing all disorder to some Evil Being.
Is there pattern and design in the Amazonian basin with all the tributaries. No. The water follows the paths of least resistance in a highly complicated and erratic terrain. As it flows, it creates turbulence—one of the most complex and least predictable of all physical phenomena. In fact, parts of fractal theory and chaos theory arose out of the need for mathematical and descriptive tools for discussing turbulence in meteorology. As children, most all of us would, on spring or summer afternoons, stretch out on a lawn or meadow and describe the patterns of the clouds—usually in good-natured competition with a friend or two. "Look there's an elephant and there's a tiger and there's a tower." (After 1945, however, if someone described a cloud as looking like a mushroom, such a description took on a very different and very sinister meaning.) I belabor this point precisely because it is essential to recognize that most of the discourse about order neglects to point out two crucial issues:
1) most "natural order" is not intrinsic, but is imposed by human consciousness and
2) a few hundred or thousand or even million examples of "natural order", given the enormity of nature, are not enough to justify any sort of argument to universal laws, principles, patterns or beings. Such claims could be justified only in terms of logically necessary, causal connections which could then describe universal natural laws. However, with the advent of relativity and quantum physics with its Uncertainty Principle, coupled with chaos theory—the Newtonian universe of absolute natural laws has collapsed. We must now deal in terms of probabilities within contexts that are defined and delimited. In an odd way, even the creationists recognize that there is a difficulty with the concept of natural, universal laws, for they posit a deity who can violate, transcend, suspend, go beyond natural laws—in other words, produce inexplicable occurrences—namely, miracles.
Much of this issue turns around a critical problem regarding the nature of knowledge and explanation. Creationist "logic" goes like this regarding the formation of the skeleton of Euplectella:
"The question comes to mind, 'How can these blind cells that have no brain and no nervous system connecting them together know how to build just a single spicule, let alone the entire marvelous three dimensional skeletal structure of the Venus Flowerbasket sponge?' Science has no answer. That God alone knows and can know is, in light of the available evidence, still a viable position for any scientist to hold."
There are a number of difficulties in these three sentences. Judging from the phrase "blind cells that have no brain', Mr. Robert E. Kofahl, who wrote the essay, is apparently no lover of science nor of logic. Furthermore, there is ambiguity about the attribution of the passage which I quote above and several remarks preceding it. At the end of the passage which I cited, there are the following apparent attributions:
"W. Woodland, Quart. J. Of Microscopical Sci., 1906, Vol 49, pp 231-282; I. Jima, J. Of College of Sci. [Imperial University] of Tokyo, 1901, vol 15, pp. 1-299"
Which parts are being attributed to whom is unclear—but, never mind. What seems quite peculiar to me is that Mr. Kofahl, stating that science has no answers regarding the mysteries of spicule and skeletal construction in Euplectella, turns to two sources which are nearly a century old! Even though sponge research isn't a hot ticket item, surely we have learned a few more things about them in the last 100 years. When Mr. Kofahl asserts that science has no answers, he is simply wrong and evidently has an odd view of the nature of epistemology. Science is an inductive enterprise; it has partial answers—that is its character. In this respect, mathematics as a deductive enterprise, functions very differently and, in a quirky way, Mr. Kofahl's "theological logic" seems to be more closely related to deductive systems than any sort of empirical scientific investigation.
Humans once thought that mathematics could provide a definite, absolute description of the world and Euclidean geometry became the paradigm for understanding nature. Humans began using this geometry to design buildings, monuments, temples, tombs, and aqueducts. Interestingly this involved some intriguing stretches of the imagination. Ask yourself how often you find triangles, squares, rectangles, and pyramids in nature. In fact, very rarely. What we do find is lots of multiple branching structures, such as those in plants or in river systems, and all sorts of arcs and curves and spheres and domes and spirals. Also, a few straight lines as well as star shapes, as in some of the echinoderms. In the last few centuries ,mathematicians broke the stranglehold of Euclid—Riemann, Lobachevsky, and Minkowski—by tinkering with the 5th postulate and the conditions defining parallel lines. In other words, they invented non-Euclidean geometries. Multi-dimensional geometries and even affine geometry, in which each point has an infinite number of coordinates, were developed as well , creating a quiet, but very significant assault on the orderly Newtonian/Euclidean view of the universe regulated by absolute causal laws which could be described mathematically. Our understanding of the universe began to transform itself into probabilities and relativities—a universe less psychologically comfortable because it was and is manifesting itself to us as increasingly chaotic and uncertain. Mr. Kofahl, and many other creationists and conservative religious people, still want to believe in a Newtonian universe with absolute laws with the proviso, however, that God can violate these "natural" laws and produce miracles. Except for the proviso, Mr. Kofahl and others base their view of nature on:
1) deduction—so that the laws of the universe are as certain as mathematics,
2) special creation—which means that a deity produced each and every kind of thing, including fossils, so that there is no need for evolution, and
3) a literal and uncritical acceptance of the bible—that strange and fascinating hodge-podge of history, folklore, erotic poetry, genealogy, and weird dietary laws, not to mention a lot of threats of drastic consequences, if you misbehave.
So, why is Mr. Kofahl so concerned about and fascinated with the skeleton of the Venus Flowerbasket sponge? Apparently he thinks it is a beautiful mystery and he doesn't think science can explain it, so for him, there's only one other possibility—God created it and all the horrors of nature, such as, pathogenic viruses, typhus, malaria, leprosy, a wide variety of cancers, tuberculosis, Down's syndrome, meningitis, polio, filarial worms that produce elephantiasis, and bovine spongiform encephalopathy are the result of the Devil. Now, perhaps these remarks seem unnecessarily polemical, if not blasphemous, but I get quite exasperated with people who fly into the fanciful realms of faith ostensibly because science cannot offer the proper evidence. In fact, there is no evidence that could satisfy Mr. Kofahl and his ilk, because the starting point for them is the assumption of an omnipotent, omniscient God and a book of revealed truths, so they really aren't interested in any kind of answer and don't want anyone else to be either. This kind of ideology is an excellent example of what the eminent biologist, Richard Dawkins, calls a "virus of the mind." It is infectious, destructive, and virulent.
Let me cite one other brief passage from a creationist essay, which I assume is also written my Mr. Kofahl judging from the examples and the website:
"In concluding this topic, let it be emphasized that the Venus Flowerbasket sponge and the scavenger forams are absolute mysteries to scientists. They have not the slightest hint of how these creatures can exist and function without God. Nor is their origin by evolution either documented or explained." (http://www.parentcompany.com/creation_explanation/cx1f.htm)
In this passage, we have the blatant overgeneralization that science knows nothing about these creatures and the outrageous illogic of claiming that all the marvels of nature defy understanding and so can be explained only in terms of assuming a God—which, of course, is no explanation at all. Furthermore, according to the essay, only the Christian God will do. So, I guess, the Buddhists and Muslims and Hindus and Jews are just out of luck.
I realize that I have been moderately harsh in dealing with the position of orthodox creationists, but such sophistry tries my patience. I have, even less patience for some of the Intelligent Design theorists' views, because I regard them as misleading and intellectually dangerous especially with current attempts to introduce these views into the teaching of biology in American high schools. However, I have already expressed my basic views and concerns regarding Creationism and Intelligent Design in to previous essays on Micscape, so I will not address these issues any further here, but merely provide you the links in case you are interested in pursuing these issues further.
Questions to ask a creationist (Micscape January 2007)
Questions to ask an intelligent design theorist (Micscape February 2007)
Stay tuned for Part 4 next month when I shall be returning to the sponge itself. You may recall that in Part 1, I said I would perform an act of vandalism and throw one of these elegant skeletons down onto a concrete floor. Well, I mustered my destructive instincts and carried out the experiment and in Part 4, I shall give you an account of the results.
All comments to the author Richard Howey are welcomed.
Editor's note: Visit Richard Howey's new website at http://rhowey.googlepages.com/home where he plans to share aspects of his wide interests.
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