Wednesday, December 2, 2009

You say you want an evolution, well you know.... Oh wait, you don't?

As my Facebook friends probably know, I'm an awful liberal a-hole who is quite firm in his beliefs on evolution. As one put it, you (meaning me) believe anyone who denies the fact of evolution is an idiot. And I'm resolute in that belief. It pains me that Kentucky has a Creation "Museum", and that many churches, including the most influential church in our community use ignorance and lies to deny evolution.

I'm currently reading The Greatest Show on Earth, in which Richard Dawkins lays out the facts of evolution in a way that makes the case even clearer in my head than it was before I read it.

If you read the slideshow linked above from Bob Russell at Southeast Christian Church, you'll see that Bob disagrees with Evolution because it doesn't agree with his religious text. No matter that it was written centuries ago by people with minimal understanding of science. If Bob stopped there, perhaps I could give him a pass. I'd find it sad though, because I don't think science that disagrees with a literal interpretation of the Bible is an attack on religion.

But then Bob decides he has to sweeten his case with lies, which seems decidedly unholy to me.

Lie #1: Evolution is rejected by many reputable scientists.

I guess this depends on what Bob considers reputable, but any scientist who denies evolution would NOT be considered reputable by his peers, especially one who works in the field. The petitions collected by those who wish to create this false impression have been shown to be of dubious value and the number of signatures on them minimal compared to the scientists who understand and support the facts of evolution. Evolution is supported by good science. Intelligent design and creationism are not.

Lie #2: Scientists admit that evolution lacks evidence of transitional forms.

This crap is a bit of misdirection that proves creationists are ignorant of evolution. First, the fossil record is incomplete not because of some mass conspiracy, but because fossils are formed under very unique circumstances. We don't have every life form that existed because the earth didn't have the good sense to embalm every life form from the beginning of time to preserve it for history. Just as the dead possum on the road disappears over a matter of days, so have billions of lifeforms over the years. Very few get preserved. We have "gaps" because the hundreds or thousands of "transitional" forms from A to B are lost to the ages. But these gaps don't mean we can't peace together the growth over time and solidify the evidence for evolution by observation and what we know about the fossil and geological record over time.

Imagine each life form from the beginning of time had a snapshot taken of it and placed in a photo album that represented the species. As the species makes small changes, a new picture would be added to the photo album. When the species "evolved" into something that was classified as different (which wouldn't be as radical as the chimp to man leap made here), a new album would be started and pictures would be added for that life form. And when a member of that life form changed, another album would be added and so on. Over time, you'd have a set of photo albums that link to each other like a very haphazard family tree. You'd see thousands of photos of creatures that are very similar going in all directions. And as you move from album to album and get further away from the forms you first started looking at, the pictures would change and eventually you'd have another form that looked much different than where you started. In many instances, you could go backward from one animal to another and then back up again in the evolutionary chain and you'd see how a chimp and a human could be linked years prior via a common ancestor. The fact is that evolution is subtle, and that it is based on what survives to reproduce. We don't see a half ape/men, or a crocoduck walking around because it isn't how they evolved. Just because two species are related through evolution doesn't mean that you would find a magical picture within my albums that would mark a clear transition.

Lie #3: Common sense looks at design and realizes there has to be a designer.

Actually, Bob, this is a bit like saying because you see the Virgin Mary in a potato chip, it's a sign from God. We see design because we want to see it. It doesn't prove a creator or a designer. And common sense would say that if something had to be designed or created, then the thing that designed or created it would also need a designer or creator. It's an endless loop, and one that creationists hate to address.

Evolution is common sense. It fits. Just because you don't understand it doesn't mean you can label it nonsense.

Lie #4: Evolution violates the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

Great explanation of this here.

Truth #1: Evolution doesn't explain origins nor eliminates (sic) the need for a creator.

Evolution wasn't meant to explain the origins of life on earth. So using this logic, I guess we can say that Bob Russell doesn't believe in gravity since IT doesn't explain origins. As for the need for a creator.... well, you can't have a creator without the creator being created, can you?

Lie #5: Evolution disregards the spiritual significance of man.

I still don't understand this one, but I keep getting it thrown in my own face. Evolution is a scientific fact. It doesn't keep one from leading any sort of life they want to. If you choose to find life meaningless, that's on you, not evolution.

I have posted this because I think misinformation is a sin, and one of the most evil forces working today. We owe it to ourselves to try to understand the world around us and embrace sound ideas and science, not bury our head in the sands.