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"Faith is not a good reason to believe in any one thing. It's a bad reason to believe in everything. Faith is not synonymous with any one idea; it is synonymous with any strongly held idea, true or not. But one thing faith is not synonymous with is a logically justified idea."

April 22, 2010

The Origins of Evolutionary Criticism

Since its introduction into the public view, evolutionary science has come under harsh criticism from many fronts. Originally, this was perfectly acceptable. All new theories and scientific disciplines come under fire. Not because they are naturally untrue, but because they must pass a trial by intellectual fire in order to be accepted. The first objections to evolution were based on three fronts...

The lack of overwhelming physical evidence, the lack of proper understanding of the explanation, and opposing religious orthodox ideals. The first objection is to be expected since evidence doesn't just fall into your lap. You have to go out and find it. The second is one that within the scientific community will eventually dissolve itself away, and then through proper science education, will dissolve itself within the public sector as well. The third front of objection will always exist for as long as orthodox religion exists.

For as long as there have been thinking men with new ideas, there have been simple men who are certain of their silly ideas. As long as the simple men are allowed to have power, the thinking man is in danger. Conservatism means to restrict new ideas. Liberalism means to allow them. Though not all new ideas are true or beneficial, liberalism is the only way a society can grow and prosper.

Orthodox religion thrives on conservatism the same way a cactus thrives in the desert. In a place void of progress, something flourishes. The current modern criticism to evolution still comes from religion in the form of the "Intelligent Design" movement. Intelligent Design (ID) is nothing more than religious "Creationism" wearing a mask of science. It pretends to be scientific while utilizing no scientific methodology. It begins with a preconceived conclusion that there is a God and that he played a part in the formation of the universe, the origin of life and the functioning of life on Earth. Then it seeks to find any evidence to support this concept, regardless of logical fallacies and unreasonable assumptions.

Real science does not begin with a conclusion. It begins with an effect that can be easily observed that requires an explanation. The only reason scientists create a hypothesis is because it allows them to narrow down their field of search by applying knowledge gained in past experiments. It does not search for any evidence that seems to support the theory, it searches for any evidence, whether it supports or disputes the hypothesis. Even evidence that refutes the hypothesis is useful and can bring a scientist closer to a real answer.

ID supporters do not spend much time explaining their evidence in favor of ID, but spend time trying to show evidence or reasoning against evolution. As though proving evolution were false automatically proves that ID/Creationism must be true. This false dichotomy stems from a mental barrier set up by religion that makes people assume that without a logical explanation they are perfectly justified in making something up. The argument from ignorance; one of the most common logical fallacies of any unintelligent concept.

The rare arguments in favor of ID do not come with their own physical evidence or experiments. They exist only in the faulty reasoning and desperate rationalization of the ID supporter. They take evidence found by evolutionary scientists and attempt to reinterpret the findings of proper science. They make appeals to the beauty of an organism as proof that it must have been imagined and created by a higher being. They shine a spot light on organisms that seem to only be able to exist as they currently are, stating that it must have been created "as is" or it would not have survived. This reasoning completely disregards any understanding of evolution. It's much like arguing that a fish cannot swim without a fin, therefore it must have always had fins or it would not have survived to now. I do not have fins, and I can swim. I have survived till now. If an organism was subject to environmental pressures that suggested a fin would be preferable, then the addition of a fin could lessen the organism's burden. The organism's local species would then develop a fin long before the need for a fin became mandatory for survival.

An actual scientific criticism of evolutionary science would explain why evolution does not properly explain observations in nature. However, the common criticisms of evolution are not based on actual science. The origin of evolutionary criticism is based on the fact that evolution is an explanation that doesn't include a God. Evolution does not say God doesn't exist, it has nothing to say about religion. But the religious are upset that their old explanation which was based on God, is being replaced by a better explanation that does not require a God. It does not disprove God, but simply does not depend on one. So theists say it must be wrong, it must go.

To those theists who disagree with evolutionary science, unlike your fragile sense of self, not everything in the world needs to depend on a belief in God in order to function. Some things (I'd argue everything) works just fine without a God's interaction, and that is an observable fact. Your God does not control every atom. Evolution, like most of the universe and most independent people, is self sustainable. Your preconceived conclusions mean nothing in the face of observable facts, proper logic and proven methodology.

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