Monday, November 01, 2004

Oh dear. More anti-religious thinkers making fools of themselves.

The discovery of the 'hobbits' of Indonesia has caused a flurry of rather misplaed excitement among those who still long for science to replace religion. Desmond Morris's rather stupid article for the BBC really shows that he knows nothing about either religion or the history of science. This is a bit depressing coming from someone who writes quite good books about human anthropology but par the course. I'm not even going to bother refute his nonsense about this being a blow for religion for anyone other that young earth creationists. Every big scientific discovery brings out people who think it will bring about the end of religion, and every time religion sails serenely on while the scientific theory is, as often as not, quietly dropped. And that might be the fate of the hobbits.

You see, while they are not very big, these hobbits also have very small brains. As Richard Dawkins explains here, our hobbits have a brain the same size a chimp, relative to their size. Our human brains are two to three times larger and even the extinct homo erectus packed a considerably larger brain than the hobbits. So, unless neuroscience is going to be completely re-written, the hobbits were not very bright, could not talk and the tools the skeleton was found with are the products of ordinary humans who probably hunted the little guys. All of which will be a serious let down for Desmond Morris and company. His article appears to be a product of blind faith rather than a rational examination of the evidence.

Better luck next time, guys.


Anonymous said...

I wonder if there's some sort of shadowy militant atheist organization along the lines of the John Templeton Foundation that will dish out money to anyone who can take a recent scientific discovery and write an article on how it disproves religion? If not, why waste energy doing it for ideas that have no connection with religious thought? Cui bono?

But I suppose controversy, no matter how foolish and contrived, will sell papers and magazines, won't it!


jack perry said...

Speaking of anti-religion: I'm surprised you let Buttiglione's withdrawal from the EU Commission pass without comment, considering that you were the one who alerted me to the whole controversy!

Anonymous said...

Desmond Morris wrote about these little people 'Humans have souls and they do not.' and he writes about Homo sapiens 'They stubbornly continue to insist that we are some kind of special creation.'

Do you agree that Homo sapiens are some kind of special creation that Homo f. were not?

What exactly is remotely objectionable about those statements?

James said...

Anonymous Steve strikes again.

Steve, the quotations you gave from Morris's article are his caricatures of the religious point of view. Your misquote is so gratuitous that it appears dishonest.

Homo F. has the brain capacity of a chimp I therefore assume it is as much an animal as a chimp. The discovery of an extinct chimp, even if called 'homo' by scientists trying to make a splash, is of no philosophical concern to anyone. All it does is give the opportunity to people like Morris to show how little they understand about religion.