Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Happy Darwin Day 2014

In honor of Darwin Day this year, I wanted to take a little time to encourage those of you who haven't given creationism or evolution much thought to do so.  Picking a side isn't the point.  It's a bit like voting: both sides have a stance on something.  The "winner" of the argument will go on to affect change in your world.  Therefore, getting to know the stances of both sides helps you to make informed decisions about things that will effect you, and aid you in realizing in what context information in the future is being presented.

On A Lack of Substance
If you've never really thought much about the Evolution vs. Creation discussion before, I encourage you to take some time to look into each side in as much depth as you can.  Maybe you're on the fence about which side you agree with.  Maybe you're a Christian or a spiritual person and think that necessarily means you must be a Creationist.

Evolution has nothing do say about any God.  To accept the fact that things change over time doesn't mean you have to not believe in a Supreme Being.  Evolution doesn't talk about how life began, only how life changes.

The biggest arguments against it as an means of explaining life boils down into these fallacies:

#1: God of the Gaps
All throughout human history, there have been things we don't understand.  Even still, there are lots and lots of things we don't yet fully understand, and even more things we have no clue about at all.  The problem is that these gaps in our knowledge are a great fit for God.  Any time we can say, "I don't know" or "I can't explain it", a believer in some kind of deity will answer with their god, even though that explains a mystery with an even bigger mystery.  Where our knowledge ends, religion and god-belief begins.

2: Personal Incredulity
If you've never really thought about evolution before, you might be thinking, "I can't imagine how that works".  This is a common starting point for a lot of Creationists, and indeed before Charles Darwin uncovered the method in 1800's, it was the starting point for all of humanity.  But simply not being able to understand how something works doesn't make the thing nor its explanation any less valid.  That's like saying, "I just can't believe people could build a rocket ship!" is a valid refutation of the 1961 orbit by Yuri Gagarin.

3: Not Enough Time
When it comes down to it, a lot of Creationists today accept evolution -- they realize things change over time.  They just stop before one thing changes into another.  That is, given enough time, an organism can evolve into a separate species.  Yet Creationists claim that no one "kind" of animal changes into another "kind".  The problem they have is simply with time.  Evolution works given enough time, but due to a human's relatively short time to live, this idea makes it harder to put into perspective, because we don't see change occurring fast enough.  And since the hard-core Creationists believe the literal interpretation of the Bible and only allow for 6,000 to 10,000 years, they don't allow for the millions or billions of years such a change needs.

The Parnell Building at the University of Queensland, Australia, houses the world's oldest continually running experiment: a funnel of tar pitch (bitumen) sits inside a glass case at room temperature.  The pitch looks solid (and in fact it can be shattered with  a hammer) but it actually flows at an extremely slow rate.  It takes about a decade for it to drip.  The experiment was set up by a physics professor in 1927, and it as dripped eight times, and is due to drop very soon.  The rate is very slow in our perspective.  The continental drift of Australia is ten times faster than the flow of this stuff.

A Creationist looks at the time it takes for evolution in much the same way as someone who, for example, could have taken the pitch-drop experiment home with them, lived with it, perhaps got a Ph.D in something along the way, and every day looked at it and concluded, "it doesn't drip".

We can't generally see evolution occurring because it takes generations to work.  We do, however, see it occur in bacteria because they go through generations within a matter of hours.  Following the evidence, we see that Earth is millions of years old, 4.5 billion in fact.  Even without the evidence for evolution (fossil record, comparative biology, DNA, etc.), it should be easy to see that small changes over a time on that scale could result in great diversity.

Dig For Yourself
This blog post by no means should convince anyone of anything.  Its purpose is to encourage you to start looking into things for yourself.  Read and watch all that you can on both evolutionarily science and Creationist information.  Ask critical questions of everything you find.  Try to falsify, try to debunk, try to dismantle every argument you hear.

Think for yourself.


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