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Propagating a Plain Untruth

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Written by Basil on 11/19/2004 2:03 AM. Filed under:

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The evolution of life, and the evolutionary origin of mankind, are scientifically established as firmly and completely as any historical event not witnessed by human observers. Any concession to anti-evolutionists, suggesting that there are scientific reasons to doubt the facticity of evolution, would be propagating a plain untruth.
Theodosius Dobzhansky, in a 1972 letter to J. Kunamoto

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7 Responses to “Propagating a Plain Untruth”

  1. Mr. Hibbity Gibbity Says:

    Is this post in regard to the “flurry” over the sticker in the science textbooks?

    While I’m certainly no scientist, I always thought it was the obligation of scientists to base theories and hypotheses on observable facts, whether directly observable or indirectly, as in the case of not observing a specific cause, but taking note of the various effects and then extrapolating from that data the probable cause.

    As such, I’m certainly not saying that evolution couldn’t have occurred or that God didn’t use it in the design process.

    After all, I suppose it’s possible that He simply put everything in order and then caused the “Big Bang”. Still though, it all came about through “intelligent design”.

    Personally, I dispute evolution because the evidence isn’t there. There’s a lot of supposition, but not enough hard evidence. There’s virtually no fossil record supporting the process; human beings have more in common, genetically, with a specific type of pig than we do with apes; Darwin himself was quoted as saying he was certain that more evidence of his theories would be found in the future, yet modern scientists have been quoted as saying that there was more evidence in Darwin’s time in defense of evolution than there is now.

    Regardless, my question is, where’s the proof?

    Again, science is usually based upon observable facts and/or trends that provide insight into the nature of things or why something is the way that it is.

    The theory of evolution provides none of those things. We’ve seen nothing in our lifetime to promote the evolving of one species into another. We’ve seen “adaptation”, yes, but not evolution in the strict definition of the term. Not only that, but you’d think, that in the thousands of years of recordable human history, we’d find at least one reference/description of a particular animal that just doesn’t quite match up with the current description of that animal. Surely, a certain amount of “evolving” has taken place in the last 2,000 years, yes?

    We’ve found no hard evidence of any “missing link”. Even if you consider homo erectus and all the other various “finds” as viable, then what about the rest of the fossile record? Why aren’t we finding transitory fossils for other species?

    I find it laughable when scholars/intellectuals/what-have-you rail against the idea of Creationism and label it as mere fantasy, yet there really is no solid evidence to support the theory of Evolution either.

    Both, in my opinion, take a huge amount of faith to believe in. Evolution is simply a different type of faith, wrapped up in a “religion” of science.

    Again, am I saying that it’s impossible? No. I just don’t see anything in the directly visible world that promotes such an idea.

    All species have a certain amount of adaptability and mutations do occur in nature, but more often than not, the mutations are highly unstable and, often times, result in the death of the mutated creature.

  2. basil Says:

    This post is in response to many things. Mostly, I’m just tired of fundamentalists trotting out the same old lines over and over again. It ends up confusing honest, intelligent people like yourself.

    While I’m certainly no scientist, I always thought it was the obligation of scientists to base theories and hypotheses on observable facts, whether directly observable or indirectly, as in the case of not observing a specific cause, but taking note of the various effects and then extrapolating from that data the probable cause.

    Yes, and that is exactly what scientists do in the case of the various sciences.

    Instead of refuting your arguments point by point — which would be time-consuming and has been done numerous times by better minds than myself — I would point you to a few resources I have found helpful.

    1. The Science department at Asbury. I found all of the scientists there very willing to sit down and discuss science. Being Christians, they were also very willing to sit down and discuss the instersection of faith and science. The key is that one needed to be willing to learn from them and not attack them with “Answers in Genesis” or the Institute for Creation Research.

    The science professors there all accept the dominant theories in their fields. Some of them one might consider “theistic evolutionists” — who believe that evolution is a natural process directed by God — others are “progressive creationists” — each new development was a special act of creation by God. Either way, those beliefs are theological beliefs and not scientific beliefs. On the science, they are with the scientists.

    Except for the veterinarian who helps with the Bio 101 load. He’s the only “scientific creationist.” One might say he’s the token “scientific creationist,” but I’m not sure why you’d want one.

    2. The Galileo Connection: Resolving conflicts between science and the Bible, by Wheaton professor Charles Hummel. It’s main insight, as I remember it, is that science and theology speak different languages. His favorite example is to imagine Mozart, Rembrandt, the Righteous Prophet David, Einstein and Galileo viewing a deeply moving sunset from a majestic mountain setting. Each agrees to meet a year later with something to describe the sunset. Mozart presents “A Little Night Music,” Rembrandt a beautiful painting, the Prophet David a psalm — “The heavens tell of the glory of God. The skies display his marvelous craftsmanship.” — Einstein explains the mathematical properties of the light, and Galileo presents the Copernican theory of the solar system, with the sun at the center and planets orbiting round it. Each one uses language appropriate to his field to describe the same thing. Theological language explicitly invokes God; scientific language invokes only natural causes because that is its particular methodology. It is up to the religious person to integrate science with their own particular religious beliefs. (Or to disregard science altogether.)

    3. Any writing about the subject — such as a basic encyclopedia entry — that is not skewed toward trying to force science into a religious mold. The truth of the matter is that evolution forms the fundamental starting point for nearly every science. Biology particularly would nearly fall apart without the various theories and models explaining the evolutionary development. But so would astronomy, geology, and any other science which has to do with origins.

    My point with all of this is: You can decide, on religious grounds, not to believe in the scientific account of our origins. But, since you are not a scientist, and certainly not an über-scientist, you have to discard science altogether — because the various theories to explain evolution are systemic and foundational. If you take out the evolution bit, the rest falls apart.

  3. Mr. Hibbity Gibbity Says:

    If “the rest falls apart”, then how did scientists achieve their results in the years, decades, centuries and millenia before the theory of evolution?

    Granted, I realize that just because it wasn’t theory, doesn’t mean that it wasn’t . . . “around”. Just a question, I mean because some laws and theories are still viable today, yet they were formed long before the theory of evolution.

    Also, I agree with you on most points and as I said, God may very well have used evolution as a means to an end, but even so, I would still contend that He created everything with a specific purpose and design to achieve that “end result”.

    As for your reference to “The Galileo Connection” – I’m afraid that once again we’ll have to agree to disagree. It seems to suggest that art, science and religion are mutually exclusive, but I don’t believe that’s the case. Perhaps I’m stretching it a bit, but what about the artisans for the temple? Also, I just heard a story on NPR about a gentleman that used his background in electronics, specifically electrodes/diodes, to create music based upon the rhythm of a heart.

    I had a similar discussion once with someone regarding truth and beauty. Their view was that truth is ultimately superior to beauty. My view was that ultimate beauty resulted in absolute truth and vice versa.

  4. Victoria Says:

    Basil, the theories to explain evolution are systemic and foundational to the sciences, but this is because they were arrived at by the SAME METHOD that all other systemic and foundational theories were (laws of thermodynamics, gravitational theory, cell theory, theory of relativity, quantum theory). If you say well, evolution isn’t a fact, then you are saying you distrust the methodology of science. And then you have to say that gravity might not work either. 😉 AND you have to wonder why we have vaccines, gene therapy, nuclear power plants, most drugs, and a superabundance of food.

    But as specialized and complex as science has become in the two centuries or so since it really began as a codified, organized human endeavor, understanding the methodology is VERY VERY HARD. I think a lot of non-scientists who say that there is not much observable evidence for evolution, might not understand what evolutionary biologists consider as observable evidence. (No offense, Mr HG, it’s purely a matter of expertise in an extremely specialized field. I personally have no idea what an evolutionary biologist is looking for either, except the general statement “relationships.”) And I have not actually run across scientists who say that there is little observable evidence for evolution.

    I once had a student tell me that he couldn’t believe evolution because the bible said something different, and if the bible said something that wasn’t true, then God lied, and that simply could not be. If Genesis wasn’t true, how could he trust the rest of the bible? This is tough to answer as a scientist AND an orthodox Christian. The immediate reaction is a snort…which isn’t very helpful.

  5. basil Says:

    Mr HG: First of all, you misunderstand the example of the various people describing a sunset: The artist, the mathematician, the composer, the scientist have differing but mutually complementary ways to describe the world. (I think Hummel may have included a poet, too — Shakespeare, perhaps?) Take a poetic description of a Rose. Put it side by side with a scientific description. They both describe the rose accurately, but their methodologies differ.

    Also, science has advanced much since the eighteenth century, when evolution was first presented as an explanation for certain features of geology and the fossil record. Although what survives from the eighteenth century — when Darwin publish Origin of Species — can be counted as very certain, it can be counted as certain for exactly the same reason that evolution can be counted as certain, as Victoria said.

    Your alternative — such as it is — is to discard the scientific method altogether. Which brings us to Victoria’s other point — technology is a very strong argument for the truth of science.

    As to the question of it conflicting with Scripture — I’m going to get to that.

  6. Victoria Says:

    Wait! I am not saying that science is the ONLY truth! Technology does not prove the “truth” of science, it only demonstrates that the scientific method is a useful method for describing the physical world, and we can put our descriptions to work for us.

    The scientific method, unfortunately, cannot tell us what we SHOULD do…it only tells us what we CAN do.

  7. basil Says:

    Victoria, I would never believe in science as the only truth. I’m too much of a poet and appreciator of beauty to accept such a dry world! (You are, too, I know.)