I watched a video of Richard Dawkins conducting an interview with creationist Wendy Wright, a lady who kept on going around in circles saying “show me the evidence for evolution” and what evidence Dawkins produced (visit any museum for starters – you could tell he was getting just a little bit irritated) she merely reiterated, “show me the evidence.” All this while never ceasing to smile and when one shows perfect teeth non-stop throughout a lengthy interview it betokens something not quite right, that is a mind-set that nothing but nothing is going to change. Her beliefs are so firmly fixed no matter how much evidence she was presented with it went right over her head. For her the world came into existence through a “loving creator” (her words) and that thank you very much is that, no more to be said. Well all right, big bang or no big bang, no one truthfully knows how it all started, that is if it ever had a start. It certainly didn’t start with a “loving creator” putting it all together in six days just six thousand years ago, and how highly intelligent and highly educated people can honestly believe it is simply beyond me. The question could also be who or what created the creator? And, if there is a creator, show me the evidence.
I might at a push consider the possibility of a creator but not in a million years could I consider him/her/it to be a loving one. Consider history, consider the state of the world, consider the wars, the tortures, consider the abusers and the abused, children, women, animals, consider the bullies and the tyrants, the evil that man, made in god’s image, is capable of. Would a loving creator have designed a creation that involves so much pain? Anyway, if Ms Wright is using the Bible as her textbook she obviously hasn’t read it properly or has skipped all those gory bits about god ordering the killing of men, women, children and animals, let alone drowning his creation but for a select few – another creation myth and, if it is not a myth, how could he, the omnipotent one, have made such a mistake in the first place, knowing that down the line one day that is exactly what he would do? How could he, when he came to earth to sort us all out and rumours of his expected birth started to circulate, allow Herod to slay the innocents? That’s quite a price for a loving creator to pay. Yes, our wonderful world is full of ‘all things bright and beautiful’ but it is also full of horrors that make me think the designer was having a very bad hair day.
But, apart from Wendy Wright’s belief, two stories I read recently brought to mind the vagaries of nature.
The koala is under threat – from what? Well, would you believe Chlamydia? It had never occurred to me before reading this that, as well as sinful human beings, innocent animals doing what comes naturally could suffer from sexually transmitted diseases. Chlamydia affects male and female koalas, and even the little ones called joeys that spend the first six or so months in their mother's pouch pick it up suckling. It causes blindness and infertility in koalas - and can be fatal. Some other animals are also infected with the disease but it is usually at low levels. It affects koalas more seriously and experts don't know why that is.
But on to the twins Abby and Brittany Hensel. They are conjoined twins determined to live a normal, active life. They have been to university, they travel, have jobs. But how easy is it for two people to inhabit one body? And judging from the photographs that is what they are; one body with two heads. There is a pair of conjoined twins in India who are now fifteen years old but they at least have separate bodies, being joined at the head. Their parents have always refused consent for an operation as they feel it would be too dangerous. That also applies to the Hensel girls. Had they been born in ancient Greece they would have been taken up the mountain and left to die. Two bodies, sharing some organs, and two heads, but one body and two heads? Could life be made more difficult? But like most 23-year-olds Abby and Brittany love spending time with friends, going on holiday, driving, playing sport such as volleyball and living life to the full.
With two sets of lungs, two hearts, two stomachs, one liver, one large intestine and one reproductive system, they have learned from a young age to co-ordinate their body, with Abby controlling the right hand side and Brittany the left. They have had to learn to reach compromises on everything from what food they eat to their social life and even the clothes they wear. Can one go to sleep while the other says awake?
Despite having a normal family and social life, studying and working like any other young women, they naturally do face additional problems. For example, they have to put up with speculation about their private life - something they prefer not to discuss. Travelling to a new country with friends on holiday is also not as straightforward for conjoined twins. They have two passports, but one ticket as they only take up one seat on the aeroplane. However they also have to be on their guard and more aware of entering crowded or confined spaces because members of the public will often try to take unwelcome photographs.
Conjoined twins are very rare - it is thought one in every 200,000 births - and around 40-60% of these births are delivered stillborn. Female siblings tend to have a better survival rate than male siblings.
With possibly fewer than 12 adult pairs of conjoined twins across the world today, Abby and Brittany are defying the odds. But looking at their happy smiling faces in their photographs one can’t help wondering at the amazing resilience of human beings and so much, Ms Wright, for your loving creator.