Sunday, April 09, 2006

Creationist bites man

DaveScot continues bashing Pianka, this time throwing away ID arguments about a "privileged planet." It used to be that IDolators argued that the Earth was intelligently designed to be just-so for life to exist on it. But DaveScot is saying that he personally is better than a lizard because he belongs to a species which is seeking other habitable planets. Of course, he's also a member of a group within that species which insists that such a planet does not exist.

Hypocrisy from ID advocates? Dog bites man!

He is right that Pianka tells a story about an interaction with his neighbors. They let their cats and dogs run around the Texas shrubland, eating wild lizards (his study subjects) as well as other species. Someone did a study in Kansas and found that the number of wild birds or wild small mammals declined sharply near a farm that had a cat running loose, and I know lots of biologists who have no sympathy for anyone who lets a predatory pet run free.

So Pianka went to his neighbors and asked them to keep the pets inside or on a leash. They asked what good a lizard was, and he replied by asking, "What good are you?"

This is a fairly profound question, and not one to be dismissed. Yes, humans have done astounding things and maybe we'll one day have to abandon this planet because of the wanton destruction that Pianka was decrying. And lizards won't do that. But lizards aren't causing that wanton destruction, either. Pianka's question is about what gives some person the right to destroy hundreds or thousands of lizards?

Pianka studies lizards, and by studying them in their natural habitat, he learns important lessons about how the world works. His research makes all of our lives better and he couldn't do it without lizards. He could do it without DaveScot.

That isn't an argument against DaveScot's existence, it's an argument against destroying the natural world or DaveScot. It's an argument against needless destruction, against letting domestic cats roam free, and against allowing cities and suburbs from growing arbitrarily. It's an argument for moderation, for balancing our growth against its consequences. It's an argument that a vast majority of Americans sympathize with, 63% of the country worries "a great deal" or "a fair amount" about extinctions, and 81% worry about pollution,

DaveScot's call for us to find a new planet is nice, but I think Pianka's call for us to take care of the planet we have is more moral, principled, practical, and reasonable. DS's narrow-minded view would leave our species and our planet unable to survive.