Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Face of Evolution

Today was one of those days that there isn’t much to write home about… but let’s try to find something worth while, shall we? It was a rather long day, and I think I spent more time trying to get Matthew to sleep than the amount of time he actually slept, and one of my main goals was to keep infectious “Scarlet, My Dear, Fever” Natalie away from infectable Matthew, as one case of rashy Scarlet Fever per household is all we’re allowed in this county, unless we want to get quarantined by the Center for Disease Control; I for one, wouldn’t care for all of the plastic tubing they put up in your house, ala “E.T.”

Anyway, of course, Matthew’s asleep, one of his brief times he actually got some shuteye, and I’m doing a round of bottle washing at the sink, while watching “The Backyardigans,” one of my favorite kids’ shows; hey, it’s fun, inventive, entertaining and has a good story. Bottle washing is one of the duties dealt down to all daddies from the High Council of Motherhood as part of reparations for being a helpless male and part guilt because we didn’t pass a football-sized human from any of our orifices (especially the one in the nether regions). I seem to be at the sink with my bottle sponge at least every 18 to 24 hours, (yes, Kara refers to it as “my bottle sponge” and when she bought a new one, she showed it to me and said, “I bought you a new bottle sponge,” as if she was giving me a diamond necklace on our anniversary), but if I time it right, I can stretch it out as long as possible and only wash bottles once a weekend.

Back to the story: Matthew’s asleep, and Natalie, wracked with the old-timey fever of yesteryear, is supposedly nestled in on the couch watching the show too, nursing a cup of apple juice and snuggling with the purple blanket, like Linus. The baby monitor’s on to listen for Matthew and I’m slinging bubbles, thinking that, after I wash these 10 bottles and all of their parts (each bottle has six elements to it, so 60 dips into the scalding water—the hotter the better, of course) I’m going to sit down and take a breather. I had worked until around 2am the night before and had been playing daddy all morning without much of a break. Next thing I know, Natalie’s gone and I’m hearing though the monitor the mobile start to twinkle it’s irritating song, Natalie giggling and the baby stirring awake. I go upstairs to discover Natalie’s in Matthew’s crib, playing with his mobile and edging him to the corner of the crib with her bumpy, rashy legs.

I guess we’ll have to burn those sheets, now. Pity, they match the bumper and crib skirt.

Miraculously, he fell back asleep after I ushered Natalie stage left, and I stood there for a moment; while he was lying there, for the brief moment he stayed asleep (he was up again in about 10 minutes), I stood there by his crib and gazed at his face. So, I should be having those thoughts of warm comfort looking into the sleeping face of my only son, his soft cheeks, his gentle eyebrows and slightly open mouth, breathing quietly… and my heart should be swelling with pride that I helped create such a good looking boy, but oddly enough, the first thought that came into my mind was: “Isn’t evolution great?”

The reason that thought popped into my mind was because I was looking at his nose especially, a tiny feature that we adults take for granted every day… unless you’re Jimmy Durante, and it takes you for granted. Of course, if you’re Jimmy Durante, I got news for you pal, you’re dead. Anyway, who gives the nose much thought? I guess I’m the only one, but have you ever wondered why the nose is shaped like it is? We need to smell things, of course, and it needs to be connected to the mouth for tasting purposes… Do this: Hold an orange under your nose and take a bite of an apple. What do you taste?

Why does it need to protrude from our face like it does (in some cases more than others), and it is really an ugly facial appendage? I mean, who is attracted to someone else based on their nose? Maybe Cleopatra and Mark Anthony… you know, the Greek nose and all. But why does it poke out of our face, the only such protrusion of its kind? If I were to make a from-the-hip guess, the nose is shaped that way to keep the rain out, but then again, our ears do just fine and they are sideways holes…but you’d think the nose would be turned upside down to keep all that mucus in for God’s sake. Of course, what wouldn’t be able to call kids “snot-nosed kids” now would we.

What I’m getting at, while I was looking at Matthew, I was marveling at the shape of his nose, the shape of all our noses for that matter, and I developed a theory. Our nose jut out from our faces to keep us from killing ourselves. I know, it sounds drastic and perhaps a little dramatic, but it’ll make sense when I explain it. When we were infants, the only thing we wanted was to be fed (and arguably to be loved and held as well, but if we weren’t, it wouldn’t have killed us), as survival was the most important facet of our new lives. Breast feeding is the only way to feed a baby before the advent of history, calendars, modern times and all that jazz, but if you breath out of the mouth and you’re currently suckling with that same mouth, what is left to breath with? Your nose, of course… but wait, if your face is buried in your mother’s breast you could easily suffocate if your nose is flat on your face, none existent or concave. Instead, the baby’s nose pushes a divot into it’s mother’s breast and air flows down two small channels between the sides of its nose and its cheeks. No snorkel needed. How cool is that?

Now, is that the creation of God’s master design or is that evolution? I don’t know, and for fear of random lightning bolts striking out on a crystal clear day like to day, I’ll refrain from making a guess. But notice primates’ noses are not as pokey as humans, and does that makes them a step down on the rung of evolution (of course, with that extra foot thumb they’ve got, they’re catching up fast)?

In a time when Intelligent Design goes against Evolution, it is important to understand fact as opposed to fiction… as people have been struggling with for a couple hundred years now, ever since Darwin came back from the Galapagos on the Beagle to tell us about animals that seemed to have ignored changing with the times or changing rapidly in some places. Remember the Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925? Of course, you don’t, we weren’t born yet, but you’ve heard of it, right? Sure made Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan household names, but it goes without saying, the showdown has been still going on ever since then even, and we never got a final answer except for “don’t teach it in the schools.”

However, what is especially irksome about the whole conflict is that the dividing factions on both ends of the spectrum can’t understand that maybe, just possibly, evolution and creation happened at the same time in two different parts of the world. Think about it, Adam and Eve were kicked out of the Garden of Eden (did they meet Steinbeck when they went East of Eden? Sorry, English major joke.), had two kids, one of which killed the other and was banished, had some more kids and populated the world. Is that possible? Well, it isn’t too likely that the genetic code of six billion people could come from merely two people, and if that’s the case, I think we’d all be mutants by now (then again, maybe genetic mutation from Adam and Eve is evolution… did that blow your mind?). Of course, that’s not saying it didn’t happen, evolution could have happened elsewhere. God’s experiment with the forbidden fruit didn’t work out exactly as planned, but thankfully he had a bunch of monkeys a few mountain ranges over to take over building the population in conjunction with Adam, Eve, the extra kids and their sisters/wives. Is that possible? Maybe, but who knows?

But then there’s the timeframe. The Bible says the earth was created about five thousand years ago, and I’m sure the ancient Egyptians would take issue with that estimation as they were around for thousands of years before that, but the Bible was written by passionate religious people, not scientists… so who do we believe? Let’s ask Lucy, our friendly Australopithicus Afarensis, the woman dug up in the Ethiopian desert in 1974 by Donald Johanson and John Gray. She is estimated to be at least 3.18 million years old (but she doesn’t look a day over 3.17 million years old). Was that before or after Adam and Eve… but wait, what about the dinosaurs? Were they test drafts done by God before he created mankind? Maybe he said, “The dinosaurs aren’t working out… they keep eating the forbidden fruit…they keep eating everything! What did I do with that asteroid? It’s time for change.”

If Einstein was right and time is relative, six billion Earth years is the same as six days to God, just enough time to create everything, add the concept of Carbon 14 dating to screw us up and set us loose in the garden. Again, who do we believe?

I don’t have the answers, folks, just guesses like you, but I look forward to getting a library card in Heaven so I can check out a couple of books to explain it all to me. Who am I kidding? You know me, I’ll go to Barnes and Noble up there and buy them. You borrow books in hell.

In the meantime, I really enjoy watching Matthew sleep, so peaceful, so innocent, so fragile. That reminds me, it was a long day, I think I’ll get some work done for the night and hit the hay myself. Another long day for me tomorrow. I can’t wait until Natalie gets better; she’s not a forgiving patient. “Yes master, apple juice is coming.”

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