Tom Wolfe takes on Darwinism and its failure to explain language

Tom Wolfe is among our best contemporary writers.  The founder of the New Journalism, which uses novelistic techniques for the purpose of non-fiction, and a novelist who employs real-world research like a journalist, Wolfe is also an iconoclast of contemporary culture.  (See, for example, his send-up of wealthy leftists in Radical Chic, and his mockery of the trendy art world in The Painted Word.)

Now Wolfe takes on the biggest icon of modern thought, the one thinker who must not be questioned and the one  sacrosanct idea:  Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution by natural selection.

Wolfe’s book, The Kingdom of Speech, is a lively history of Darwin’s theory and its continually demonstrated inability to account for human language.  It also gives us a portrait of Charles Darwin and his nemesis Alfred Russel Wallace, who beat him to the theory of natural selection.  Wolfe also takes on Noam Chomsky, the leading linguist of our day and a leftwing activist, and his nemesis, Dan Everett, a former missionary who disproves his theory on the innateness of language.

Though Wolfe is neither, from what I can tell, a creationist nor an Intelligent Design advocate, he shows how science is made–by human beings, with ambition, politics, and social pressures all playing their part.  The book is informative, funny, and stimulating.  And it is ultimately a tribute to the transcendent Word that underlies all things. [Read more…]

To evacuate, or not to evacuate

Coastal areas in Florida and other Southeastern states evacuated their populations to escape Hurricane Matthew.  But when it hit, it sort of fizzled out.  While the hurricane took over 500 lives (maybe as many as a thousand), particularly in Haiti, it didn’t do that much to the United States.  So now lots of people who were evacuated are angry about having to leave.

Aren’t we supposed to err on the side of caution?  Aren’t we supposed to prepare for the worst and then be glad if it doesn’t happen?  Or was there something about this evacuation that made it especially annoying?  (I’d like to hear from any of you who were affected.)

UPDATE:  The hurricane’s force has abated but now comes the flooding.  North Carolina is especially affected, with more people evacuated as floodwaters are ravaging some counties.  So far 34 Americans have died from the Hurricane, half of them in North Carolina.

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Loving your neighbors in the Louisiana flood

That flooding in Louisiana that killed 13 and damaged 40,000 homes brought out some inspiring examples of neighbors helping each other, churches serving those in need, and out-of-state strangers showing up to help.

As the disaster moves into the clean-up phase, bureaucracy and politics threatens to get in the way.

But we can still help.  One way is to give to LCMS Disaster Response. [Read more…]

The older you get, the happier you are?

A study has found a linear relationship between old age and happiness. That is, the older you get, the happier you are.

Despite the deterioration of the body and the whole array of health and mental problems as people age, happiness increases.  The linear relationship means that people in their 90s are happier than they were in their 80s, and in their 70s than in their 60s, etc.  The biggest miseries are in young adulthood, the supposed prime of life.

I can relate to this.  Consider the stress involved in trying to find someone to marry, in trying to find a job, in raising children, in trying to find success in one’s career.  Older people are on the other side of all that.

But the continual growth in happiness in the post-retirement decades, that’s a mystery, and no doubt a gift.

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New Zealand’s animal kill-off

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A shark that was 512 years old?

It turns out that Greenland sharks routinely live to be 272 years old.  One was caught recently that may have been 512 years old.  That is to say, she would have been born in 1504.

She had been swimming in the northern sea, starting only 12 years after Columbus discovered America.  She would have been 13 years old when Martin Luther posted his theses.  She could have eaten a Pilgrim.

This would make this species of shark the longest-living vertebrate.  Scientists are trying to figure out how these creatures can live so long, hoping to apply their findings to human beings.

UPDATE:  The shark, whose long life was ignominiously ended when it was caught in a fishing net, was female.  So I have changed the earlier pronoun “he” to “she.”  Also, as the linked story says, the scientists determined that the shark was between 272 and 512 years old, probably more likely 400 than the upper limit.  But still, that’s old.

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