Friday, July 22, 2005

Mankind has evolved since then...

10 points to the geek who figures out where the title of my post came from. This is in response to Christiana's post about a Dean's World post. Whew! The response was getting long, so I decided to post here. Anyway...

Evolution, God, and the education system in one post? And just today I was thinking of posting an essay I wrote in a class called "Relgion and Science: Friends of Foes?" about some of my own views. Though, after this, I may save that for another day. I've already talked briefly about my own beliefs. Here's more.

A lot of the things you learned in school, particularly early on, were exaggerations, oversimplications, and sometimes not even true (think "put a comma at each natural pause" - lies!). This is a consequence of trying to cram a lot of information into a small amount of time, trying not to confuse the students with too much information or too much uncertainty, and not encouraging critical thought in the classroom. All scientific theories are taught as facts in the classroom because it's too complicated to say "This is the theory of gravity. Here is the evidence. Now here is the evidence that gravity might not be the whole story (can't find graviton particle, the need for dark matter and dark energy to explain why we don't see behaviours we expect based on our understanding of gravity, etc.)." Evolution is not as chock full of evidence in its favor as gravity, obviously. But when people say something is "just a theory", they forget (or don't know) that in the scientific community, a theory holds much more weight than what the average person thinks of as a theory. It is something that has been tested and scrutinized. What the average person calls a theory is, in the scientific world, a hypothesis - unproven conjecture.

Part of evolution's problem is that the scientists doing the public cheerleading are poisoning the debate with their own non-scientific beliefs. By saying that evolution disproves God, they shut down true, constructive debate on the issue. Evolution is a scientific theory that must be held up for scrutiny. Scientists who say anyone who would question it is a fool or worse have commited the closest thing to a sin that science will recognize, turning a scientific theory into an article of faith.

My experience on the creationist side is that it is merely an arguement against evolution. And if evolution isn't true, they say, it must be God. The existence of God being a non-falsifiable article of faith, it is not a scientific theory. Evolution is not perfect, but it is the best we have until the scientists willing to question it beat something better out of all the data. Belief in God in conjunction with evolution (or another theory) is fine so long as you recognize that it is faith, not science. The same goes for belief in God's non-existance. Believe all you want that the physical world is all there is and that science is the only path to truth, but recognize that that belief is also an article of faith.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm definitely with you on this one. I have not seen this point of view better put anywhere else.

7/23/2005 1:14 AM  
Blogger Kitsune said...

Title: They very first episode of ST: TNG where Picard is talking with Q (regarding a US soldier from one of the world wars)

7/23/2005 7:36 AM  
Blogger SpakKadi said...

Oooh, even geekier. Not what I was thinking, but right actor. ;)

7/23/2005 9:59 AM  
Blogger Christiana said...

Regarding the scientists who argue that evolution and God are mutually exclusive. Their argument is that, supposedly, the evidence suggests that natural selection has a HUGE random component to it and to suggest that there is any kind of progression is incorrect. Clearly, you can't believe that human evolution is random and still believe that God had anything to do with it. Therefore, according to them, evolution disproves God.

To me, that sounds like a pretty huge leap of faith. How in the world can you SCIENTIFICALLY say something is random and not directed by God? Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

7/23/2005 12:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Picard from the time-travelling Borg movie.

7/25/2005 4:11 PM  
Blogger SpakKadi said...

Hint: The response is, "Yes. Into us."

7/25/2005 5:43 PM  
Blogger Kitsune said...

It's from Alien 4!

7/27/2005 10:19 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I think most people are missing some key points about evolution.

1. It's not a straight line. It can go any direction forwards, backwards, left, and right, up and down (assuming that you think there is a direction to evolution. There may or may not be an improvement with each change, but if it survives and has off springs, then it survives.

2. The quantity of bio mass and the number of creatures on the planet is huge. In one cubic centimeter of water there can be billions of organisms. So even if the odds of something happening are low, it can still happen.

3. There are billions even trillions of generations of creatures. Again even if the odds are very low, it can happen.


7/05/2008 12:05 PM  

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