We made this

You know that thing when after you’ve had an argument and walked away from it, you suddenly realise what you should have said in the argument?

The longest interval for that with me was about two years.

During my more experimental student days I went to a debate group about the existence of god. I was young and foolish and wanted the free food, and it wasn’t run by the society whose name I dare not speak lest I summon by their attention (I think it was run by the Islam society).

It was not a very deep level of discussion, but one argument stuck out at me for how bad it was.

Amongst the free food we had were strawberries. A woman at the event cited the perfect strawberry she was holding as a sense of the divine. Look at how great it is: It’s large, attractive, juicy and delicious. How could it not have been made for us? Isn’t its perfection evidence of design?

At the time I was a snobbish “hard” scientist who took pride in how bad he was at biology (young me was a bit of a jerk), which is why it took me so long to realise that she was entirely and completely correct.

The beautiful strawberry she was holding was designed. A higher power crafted it and made the strawberry pleasing to the eye and mouth. Mere unguided evolution could not and would not have produced such a thing.

That higher power? That was us. We worked really hard at it. Thanks for noticing.

I don’t know if you’ve ever encountered a wild strawberry, but it’s a tiny dry berry smaller than my little fingernail. It’s pretty delicious, but it’s neither attractive nor large, and it’s certainly not juicy.

We’ve spent about 700 years taking those wild strawberries and shaping them into the one she was holding.

It doesn’t stop at the strawberry. Almost everything we eat is of our creation, vastly different from any wild ancestor.

The land too, is mostly of our creation. The rolling hills and green pastures we think of as untouched wilderness are mostly the result of a history of cultivation and deforestation.

England, the land which I mostly call home, is generally an extremely benign environment. That’s because we killed everything that threatened us and destroyed the habitat of much of the rest.

We’ve spent most of, depending on how you count and what you consider to be “us”, the last 10 to 100 thousand years shaping the world according to our desires.

Our desires aren’t always very sensible, and we’re often really bad at accommodating them in a way we won’t regret later, but the fact remains that the world we live in is in fact mere thousands of years old, and was intelligently designed.

We worked really hard at it. Thanks for noticing.

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