Saturday, May 21, 2016

New Study Reveals How the Shape of My Nose Arose

The Nose Knows

It is ironic that Charles Lyell, whose seminal, if flawed, work in geology—the barrister is sometimes known as the father of modern geology—positively influenced Charles Darwin’s development of evolutionary theory—the young Darwin read Lyell’s book as he sailed around the world in the H.M.S. Beagle—and who helped to arrange for Darwin’s first formal, if awkward, presentation of his theory—an event precipitated by Wallace’s Ternate letter—was one of the last of the intelligentsia to accept Darwin’s new formulation of Epicureanism, known as evolution.

At one point an exasperated Darwin asked Lyell—it always comes down to metaphysics—if he believed “the shape of my nose was designed?” If Lyell did think so then, Darwin added, “I have nothing more to say.” The infra-dignitatem, or infra-dig for the irreverent, argument, which insisted that it was beneath the dignity of the Creator to stoop so low as to dwell in the details of the world, had been promoted by no less than the father of natural theology John Ray and Platonist Ralph Cudworth, and in Darwin’s day was in full swing. Its influence on the young Darwin was clear in the naturalist’s early notebooks, and here in his appeal to Lyell. One look at one’s nose is all one needs to know about origins. Obviously we evolved. Now, a century and a half later, science finally has its say in the matter.

A new study out of, appropriately enough, England, now reveals the underlying genetic details that influence the shape of our noses. It seems there are four genes that influence the width and length of our olfactory device and, as the press release informs us, “The new information adds to our understanding of how the human face evolved.”

Glad to have that cleared up. Religion drives science, and it matters.


  1. Taint funny. Taint clever.

    Doesn't the Professor have anything better to do?

    1. "Tis true tho ..."

      Well, as we've all learned a long time ago, when it comes to the evolutionary narrative, truth is at best irrelevant and at worst, damned inconvenient.

  2. I am always surprised (despite knowing better) at the faith and hope expressed by atheists in such things as abiogenesis (life arises naturally from non-living matter), multiverse theory (parallel universes arise naturally from quantum foam), and materialism (nothing exists but natural phenomena). The list could go on and on.

    The atheistic worldview is a secular religion based on faith, hope, and speculation...not empirical science. More and more people are beginning to realize this.

  3. Related:

    Sheehan & Nachman, Morphological and population genomic evidence that human faces have evolved to signal individual identity, Nature Communications 2014.