Virtual Voices

Childish questions

Science

Child: Why do birds fly south in the fall?

Adult: If they stayed here over the winter months, they would die of starvation.

Child: How does a bird know that?

We see you’ve been enjoying the content on our exclusive member website. Ready to get unlimited access to all of WORLD’s member content?
Get your risk-free, 30-Day FREE Trial Membership right now.
(Don’t worry. It only takes a sec—and you don’t have to give us payment information right now.)

Get your risk-free, 30-Day FREE Trial Membership right now.

Adult: Instinct tells it to leave at the approach of winter.

Child: What is instinct?

Adult: It's the voice inside a bird's head that says, "Fly south or die."

Child: So instinct wants the birds to survive?

Adult: Instinct just delivers the message of natural selection.

Child: What is natural selection?

Adult: It's a process in biology that determines which birds will survive.

Child: So natural selection wants to keep the birds alive?

Adult: You're trying to ascribe human feelings to a process. Natural selection merely accomplishes the work of evolution.

Child: What is evolution?

Adult: It's the system through which all creatures develop from a lower state to a higher state.

Child: Then evolution wants the birds to survive?

Adult: Honey, evolution is an impersonal force, guided by the genes.

Child: What is a gene?

Adult: A unit of complex protein molecules that carries information about heredity.

Child: So genes want the birds to survive?

Adult: Genes don't have opinions. They bum a ride with a bird to transport themselves into the next generation.

Child: If nobody cares about the bird, why should it haul genes around? That's a lot of work.

Adult: We have to assume that a bird would rather live than die.

Child: Why would it care?

Adult: That's a childish question.

Child: I'm a child.

John R. Erickson
John R. Erickson

John is the author of the Hank the Cowdog book series. He and his wife, Kris, live on their cattle ranch near Perryton, Texas.

Comments

You must be a WORLD member to post comments.

    Keep Reading

     

    Foxcatcher

    Few things are more uncomfortable than watching a full…

    Advertisement