#202…SCIENCE, RELIGION, etc.: “Do you believe in evolution?”

 

“Do you believe in evolution?”

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(Careful now…How you answer this  loaded question

could cost you your job,

or damage your reputation…)

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Here’s how we’d answer it…

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For more use the DOOR.

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[MORE]

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[Let’s create a dialogue.]

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    “Do you believe in evolution?” someone asks. “And if so, is it a fact like our textbooks say?”

    “What do you mean by ‘evolution’?” we reply.

    Silence–except for whispering. Pausing appropriately for a answer according to the latest ‘wait-time research,’ I notice someone in the second row has clicked on a recording device.

    “You know, ‘man into apes,’ Darwinism, the Big Bang Theory, the Earth is a pale blue dot continually changing in the middle of nowhere–that sort of thing. The godless stuff we’re being taught in our school,” offers the spokesman next to the recorder.

   “I see,” we reply. [Notice the “I” evolving out of the “we.”]  “One of the things we [note the evolving backwards] continually see that’s so frustrating is that people use the word ‘evolution’ to mean so many things. And scientists are often the worst offenders in using bait-and-switch techniques packing and unpacking the various meanings people have defined as evolution.

    “First, let us offer a definition of our own that expresses what you’re probably most concerned about.”

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[We’ll return to our dialogue after presenting our definition…]

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EVOLUTION – Processes and mechanisms of change, which began at the beginning of time billions of years ago, that (1) transformed original simple inorganic particles of matter and energy into new forms of inorganic matter and energy; (2) transformed inorganic matter into living matter; and (3) transformed simple living matter  into more and more complex life up to and including those reading these words–with all changes unpredictable or unplanned natural accidents and, among living things, the occurrence of accidental and unplanned biochemical genetic mutations, along with the desire of life to remain alive and propagateThe possibility of any outside “mind,” “planner,” “design” or “designer,” or “sustainer” is unnecessary, unneeded, or irrelevant to account for, understand, and reasonably explain the universe and all that’s in it.    [ADS]

Provisos & Clarifications:

(1)  Isn’t this “extreme” evolution? Perhaps, but many believe exactly this way (maybe prefering slightly different wording).  Some might just prefer to call this “naturalistic evolution,” or change without “God,” or any “outside” or supernatural force playing any part of understanding the Universe.

(2)  If a person insists upon saying, “Evolution is fact,” a follow-up question–to clear the air–should be, “Do you consider all parts of the above to be facts? Why or why not?”

(3)  This definition, which may disturb some, includes cosmic evolution along with biologic (or Darwinian) evolution as well as connection between the two. This, however, is the way “one-word evolution” is often seen, even to scientists.

(4)  This definition, as stated, does not include any type of what is often called “theistic evolution” which many religious people would like to include, often confused about what this might mean. Theistic evolution is another subject for another time.

(5)  Secular biology textbooks and “review committees” usually accept and reflect what is said in this definition, though they may say it  differently.

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[Back to our dialogue…]

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    “Okay, then, I’ll take your definition,” S (someone) continues. “Do you believe in the fact of evolution?”

    “No, not according to this definition?”

    “Why?”

    “Fair question,” we reply. “We’ll give a ‘qualified yes’ to parts of this (1) because the evidence about what happened at the Big Bang about 13.8 billion years ago is getting stronger every day. But there’s no evidence for where the first matter and energy came from, or what caused the BB “cannon” to fire in all directions in the first place, or why “regular rules,” or “laws,” allow us to systematically observe, measure, and explain what follows after the beginning. But after the cosmic Bang, once we’re on the cosmic train we can describe and enjoy the ride. We can speculate about what’s missing here, but no convincing evidence to make us dogmatic. So, “No, we do not consider “(1)” a fact.

    “Well, what about ‘(2),’ ” S asks.

    “No, we cannot accept this scientifically. Let’s say that somehow it could be possible, but as things stand now, we do not have a great enough faith in what we’ve learned scientifically to accept ‘(2)’ as a fact. The things that would have to happen for inorganic matter to become  life on Earth–any kind of life–by ways described in our definition has never been proven or demonstrated. Even the recent Cosmos TV series admits that how life ‘evolved,’ remains a mystery.

    “And ‘(3)’?” asks S. “No,” we answer. “Hardly a fact. Given the presence of simple cellular life and following its changes up to eukaryotic cells, tissues, organs, organ systems, and creatures up to the one typing these words is perhaps the biggest battlefield of all, one beyond Darwin (enter the “Neo-Darwinists”). Books have been written about how this could have happened in several ways. My opinions here will appear little more than bald summaries. The appearance of advanced life, and humans in particular, is fascinating but very complex–including the preponderance in some cases of “left-handed molecules.” Add to this the Cambrian Explosion, a geologic period where many very different simple marine organisms suddenly appeared on Earth (as shown in the fossil record) at about the same time, an issue that even Darwin recognized and troubled him. Also many transitional forms which an evolutionist would desire are missing. Then there’s the controversial notion of “irreducible complexity” by Michael Behe, who has examined the internal machinery of microorganisms is, finding it so detailed and delicate that, he maintains, couldn’t be ‘self-assembled’ by a random series of ‘accidents.’

    “The complexities of living matter and the great differences between certain living creatures without evidence of traditional creatures between them certainly allows for ‘theory,’ but certainly not the dogma of ‘fact.’

    “Well, it seems now that you are just throwing stuff out there with much explanation,” says S.

    “Yep, our dozen seconds is up,” we reply. “Next time–or soon–we’ll look at somebody much smarter who’s waded through the confusion of talking about evolution with everyone having a different idea of what it means. He’s made a pretty clear case for 6 ways ‘evolution’ has been used in scientific research, science textbooks, and popular science reading.

    “Let science push ahead with all diligence. But let it be honest…and allow room for serious questions.”

Author: John Knapp