Sunday, May 16, 2010

Would You Schmucks Leave Darwin Alone

Let me start by saying that I’m not an expert when it comes to Biology or more specifically, Evolutionary Biology. I never had much interest in science until my faith was first put into question. Back in the day, I denied that evolution was true because I bought into what all the creationists and Fundamental Evangelicals had to say. A long lost buddy I recently got back in touch with, through the miracles of modern technology, helped lay down the facts of evolution for me. He helped me to see how there are volumes of research and peer reviewed evidence that consistently point to evolution as much more than just a theory. I came to understand that over 90% of scientists believe in evolution. I discovered that the world is not 10,000 years old but around 4.5 billion years old. The oldest living organisms are around 3.5 billion years old. I came to the conclusion that this is far from some mass conspiracy that these scientists are engaging in. In the last 150 years, there has been no evidence to suggest that evolution is not factual aside from the bald assertions of Creationist propaganda. There is the Intelligent Design movement, under the Discovery Institute’s helm, which makes claims that evolution is false, but fails to follow through with any valid research to back those claims. As a theist, I tried all the usual bogus creationist tactics like explaining that the Cambridge Explosion points to a creator, fossil records fail to point to evolution and no design can exist without a “designer”.

There is a disturbing trend among many Evangelical’s that really hacks me off. They refuse to look at scientific evidence and needlessly drag Darwin’s name through the mud in the process. Even as an admitted layman and newbie to evolution, I am really getting sick of certain segments of Christianity picking on Charles Darwin with a Red Herring. Charles Darwin has zero responsibility for what anyone does as a result of his theory, or how they use his theory to be applied in different areas of study. What Hitler did has no bearing on the truth or the lack of truth in regards to Evolutionary Biology. So please, stop trying to get people to hate evolution because of the fallacious assertion that Hitler exterminated millions of Jews based on Charles Darwin’s Theory.

I recently listened to a ridiculous podcast delivered by Hank Hanegraaff who is the president of the Christian Research Institute. I wonder if they understand what research means. He hosts the Bible Answer Man broadcast throughout the week and had Stephen C. Meyer on as one of the guests. The topic for the day was Darwin’s Dilemma which is a movie appealing to a supernatural causality for creation. Stephen C. Meyer, one of the founders of the Discovery Institute, states during the program that humans would seize to have moral responsibility or free will if evolution was true. Hank Hanegraaff goes on to state that Darwin’s theory is one of the most terrifying ideas in modern history. He blames many of the atrocities like Nazism on Darwin’s theory and believes that we are headed down a very slippery slope if we continue to embrace this “baseless theory”.

Creationists love to point to moral arguments, eugenics, Social Darwinism, and Nazism among other ideals as a way of demeaning Darwinism. None of these topics have anything to do with evolutionary biology. Furthermore, they conveniently leave out all of the atrocities directly connected to Christianity. They fail to point out that Anti-Semitism played a major role in the extermination of Jews under Hitler’s regime. They fail to point out that Hitler pointed to spiritual inspiration and Christian principles as a rationalization for exterminating the Jews. They fail to consider Martin Luther and his hatred for Jews as well. Here is a quote from Martin Luther’s On Jews and their Lies, “I have read and heard many stories about the Jews which agree with this judgment of Christ, namely, how they have poisoned wells, made assassinations, kidnaped children, as related before ... However, it all coincides with the judgment of Christ which declares that they are venomous, bitter, vindictive, tricky serpents, assassins, and children of the devil who sting and work harm stealthily wherever they cannot do it openly ... That is what I had in mind when I said earlier that, next to the devil, a Christian has no more bitter and galling foe than a Jew. There is no other to whom we accord as many benefactions and from whom we suffer as much as we do from these base children of the devil, this brood of vipers”. I fail to see how Hitler, a professing Christian, was less influenced by messages like this than on Darwinian Evolution. Hitler’s biographer, John Toland, wrote that Hitler “carried within him its teaching that the Jew was the killer of God”. Although debatable, there is some pretty significant evidence that Hitler was inspired and influenced by Martin Luther’s writings.

We can point fingers both ways when it comes to the evil influences Darwin or Christianity may have on society. But, Darwinian Evolution doesn’t make the moral claims that Christianity does. It’s not a theory espousing certain moralistic views of how to live. It’s a theory explaining how we evolved and how the other animals around us evolved into the species we see today. Morality is something humanity learns and perfects through time. I believe that each human has to decide what is morally acceptable in their own eyes and what attributes positively influence society. If they fail to make a reasonable judgment, the justice system will generally catch up with them or they will end up dead. There are certainly empathetic traits that are passed on generation to generation, for these traits help carry on a species which benefit from the possibility of reproduction and survivability of offspring. Stephen C. Meyer and friends assert that we are all just machines that are incapable of making choices for ourselves. We would all surely act like wild animals that couldn’t control our primitive cravings if it wasn’t for god’s providential existence. I can happily testify that he is simply wrong in the matter. Of course, there are many people within civilized and uncivilized parts of the world who act like wild beasts regardless of god’s presence or lack thereof. But, this is generally a part of their culture, genetic disposition and/or chemical wiring. If anyone acts like a savage beast, it would have to be the god of the Old Testament. This point really needs no further explaining. A cursory examination of the OT with an “outsiders”, unbiased view would lead most anyone to the same conclusion.

Meyer also claims that the Cambridge Explosion was a rather sudden occurrence which points to a serious dilemma for those supporting Darwinian Evolution. On the contrary, the Cambridge Explosion was not a “sudden” process at all. It took a period of 5-10 million years and some estimate that it took as long as 80 million years to unfold, so it’s more aptly called the “Cambridge slow fuse”. Coincidentally, there were transitional fossils discovered in the Cambridge Explosion and ancestral species discovered before the Cambridge Explosion like different kinds of sponges. The Lobopods, found within the Cambridge Explosion, are a transition between arthropods and worms. They were basically worms with legs.

They also made the worn out, fallacious assertion that there are no transitional fossils showing the in-between stages of a species. Despite how understandably difficult it is for fossil’s to form, we actually have been fortunate to find many significant fossils which are beautiful intermediates between different species. Tiktaalik is a transition between fish and tetrapods. Archaeopteryx is a transition between dinosaur and bird. Homo Erectus is one of our own ancestors. We have nearly two dozen fossils which display the various intermediates between ourselves and a common ancestor.

Natural selection better accounts for what appears to be design than a supernatural deity for whom there is no evidence to speak of. Species continue to differentiate themselves through a process called speciation. Some species, like the cockroach and crocodile, have remained virtually the same for millions of years. Evolution is not based on some random chance as many Creationists espouse but through natural and artificial selection. In the case of natural selection, non-beneficial genes of a species are weeded out when they fail to prolong the longevity of the given species in the particular environment in which they live. Thus, a new species emergences and the process repeats itself. In the case of artificial selection for example, scientists can manipulate the environment and feeding habits of fruit flies, and end up with two separate species of fruit flies which can no longer breed. Fruit flies are used because their life cycles are so short, and scientists can see evolutionary processes at work in a relatively small period.

When all is said and done, I just wish some of these buttholes would stop demeaning Darwin and the FACTS of evolution from a biological standpoint. You do not succeed in devaluing evolution just because it doesn’t speak to issues of morality and your book does, albeit quite inadequately I might add. You do not succeed by discrediting a large body of scientific evidence without supplying any peer reviewed research of your own. You can't win with an argument from ignorance. And, you can't go from a hypothesis to a fact without putting in the work. Where is the evidence Creationists? Charles Darwin was one of the most brilliant biologists to ever walk the face of the earth, and he deserves better than to be made out as some hideous monster. When it comes to genocide, nobody covers that vehement act better than the god of the OT and groups who have used the same philosophy throughout the ages.

No comments:

Post a Comment