Intelligent Design: The Clincher

A butterfly explodes the theory.

Jack Woodall
Nov 30, 2006

At first sight, nothing could seem less intelligent than the design of a flying insect. From an egg laid in or on a food supply, it hatches into a slow-moving eating machine that keeps outgrowing its skin, so that it has to molt every few days. At the moment of molting, it is extremely vulnerable to predators and parasites. Then, inexplicably, it stops moving and grows a hard shell, inside which it completely redesigns its body from square one, to emerge into a thing with wings that launches itself into hundreds of cubic miles of atmosphere in search of a mate, and a food plant, with nothing to guide it but a few stray molecules - pheromones and plant odors - blowing in the wind.

The fact is, however, that this is a very efficient system for spreading the genes of that species around the landscape, and for locating food...