Ex Pope says “Selfish Gene” by Richard Dawkins is science fiction

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Pope Emeritus, that is Ex Pope Benedict has written a reply to Professor Piergiorgio Odifreddi. What follows is a google translated passage:

4. Science fiction exists, moreover, in the context of many sciences. What She exposes the theories about the beginning and the end of the world in Heisenberg, Schrödinger etc.., The designerei as science fiction in the best sense: they are visions and anticipations, to arrive at a true knowledge, but are, in fact, only imaginations with we try to get closer to reality. There is, moreover, science fiction in a big way just even within the theory of evolution. The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins is a classic example of science fiction. The great Jacques Monod wrote the sentences that he has inserted in his work certainly just as science fiction. I quote: “The emergence of tetrapod vertebrates … draws its origin from the fact that a primitive fish” chose “to go and explore the land, on which, however, was unable to move except jumping clumsily and thus creating, as a result of a modification of behavior, the selective pressure due to which would have developed the sturdy limbs of tetrapods. Among the descendants of this bold explorer, Magellan of this evolution, some can run at a speed of 70 miles per hour … ” (Quoted according to the Italian edition of The Chance and Necessity, Milan, 2001, p. 117 ff.).

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The Origin of Tetrapods

The link just above goes into more detail:

The connection between the pelvis and hindlimbs in early tetrapods is a prime example of exaptation. We call this fused connection the sacrum. It is extremely useful for terrestrial organisms because it allows them to use their hindlimbs efficiently for locomotion on land. Since the aquatic ancestors of fishes and tetrapods had no such connection, one might guess that this feature first evolved serving the function of enabling terrestrial locomotion. However, the earliest form of this connection (as seen in Acanthostega) evolved while these tetrapod precursors were still living in the water. Based on current evidence, Acanthostega appears to have been fully aquatic, so this connection likely evolved to function in something other than terrestrial locomotion. Only later, as tetrapod ancestors moved onto land, was this trait co-opted for terrestrial support — and as it was, additional vertebrae were fused in the same way, providing further support.

As the limbs and their connections to the rest of the skeleton evolved, limb bones took on distinct roles and many bones were lost. The humerus and the femur were already connected to two outer bones (the radius and ulna in the forelimb, the tibia and fibula in the hindlimb). This is something that evolved about 30 million years before vertebrates came onto land. However, muscular connections between these bones began to change on the road to land and allowed the limbs to be used for terrestrial locomotion. The ankle was originally composed of many small bones arranged in two rows, but gradually many of these small bones were lost. The first animals to get close to walking on land had eight digits on each limb. Over time, some of these digits were lost, leading to animals with seven digits, then six, and then five, which is the common condition now seen in living tetrapods.

Richard talks about our descent from a common ancestor in the video talking about his book “The Magic of Reality”:

Those that take comfort in religion should not casually brush off what science has to say. Then why should evolution be any different for Benedict, when sexual orientation, and contraceptives are rejected by a theology that reads more like a Stephen King novel.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

Follow @JPSargeant78

My Huffington Post Blog

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1 Comment

Filed under Religion, Richard Dawkins, Science, Science Fiction

One response to “Ex Pope says “Selfish Gene” by Richard Dawkins is science fiction

  1. K P Spong

    Joe Ratzinger favourite book has a talking donkey in it. (Numb 22:21-35) Does he really have room to talk?

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