10 June, 2009

Unshy Flies Make Me Question Things

I was just watching two flies running around on the floor.  That started a quick series of thoughts, which culminated in totally despairing of both evolution and creationism.

Because, these flies moved around within inches of each other without the usual flight reaction.  Flies survive because any movement near them triggers a jump / fly reaction when they are grounded.  It's how a fly becomes successful instead of dead.  So why didn't another fly moving nearby trigger the response?

"Oh," I'll get told, "the fly recognised that it was just another fly.  After all, that's how they find each other for mating."  And that raises two more interesting but distressing thoughts....

Firstly, saying it's possible for a fly to "recognise" another fly is to say that the flies have a sense of identity.  "Oh! I'm a fly, that's another fly! Relax again!"  An advanced sense of self is not what you expect to find in a cluster of nerves and neurons that would barely cover the point of a blunt pin.

Secondly, there's this mating strategy, indiscriminate humping.  If you don't have a sense of identity, then you rely on a set of other cues to direct your humping.  Pheromones, sounds, colours.  If you accept that flies have a very simple control mechanism (since there's no room to fit much thinking gear in there) then you'd expect that flies woul;d be humping anything around them with the requisite profile and smell.  Yet they don't...

On the other hand, we've been selectively breeding dogs for thousands of generations now, and you'd think one of the things we'd have selected against would have been indiscriminate humping - and yet highly bred lapdogs do this more than flies or wolves.  So natural selection either selects for some unhelpful traits, or else we don't have the theory quite right yet...

And for a "Creator" to be having to listen to several billion flies' prayers every day "buzz buzz buzz!  send us some nice shit today o lord!" because he gave them some kind of advanced intellectual mechanism is also a bit  of a stretch.


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