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Today's quote:

Saturday, January 14, 2017

This Wally drew the line somewhere

There have been many theories of evolution; here's mine

 

As a seasoned Bali-traveller, I've crossed the 25-kilometre-wide strait between Bali and Lombok many times, and with it the Wallace Line, first proposed by Alfred Russel Wallace in 1859, to delineate the flora and fauna of Asia (west of the line) from Australasia (east of the line).

This mysterious line separates marsupials from tigers, and honeyeaters and cockatoos from barbets and trogons, and Wallace knew he was onto something. His problem was that the theory of evolution had not yet been discovered and, in any case, would have been heresy when virtually all scientists still accepted the Christian concept of a Creator.

But Wallace thought the unthinkable: Man was not at the centre of world, any more than the Earth was at the centre of the universe. He knew full well the implications of questioning the origin of species. He knew that he was grappling with the whole question of the organic world and its connection with a time past and with Man. He was grappling with basic beliefs, with religion and with ethics.

As I would sit there on the ferry crossing from Bali to Lombok, with the rays of the evening sun glowing at the end of a tropical day and the giant swells of the Indian Ocean squeezing through the narrow strait, I often wondered how many of those beer-swilling BIR BINTANG-clad tourists that cross it every day had even heard of the Wallace Line, let alone realised the influence it had on Darwin's Theory of Evolution.