Thursday, April 08, 2004


I’m amazed that people still speak of the “theory of evolution” as if the word “theory” somehow undermines the reality of the thousands of natural process, easily observable, which the term, evolution, encompasses. In the first place, a theory is “a plausible or scientifically acceptable general principle offered to explain observed facts”. In the second place, those who still close their minds to the “theory” of evolution are often devout believers in an even less realistic explanation for human existence. Instead of processes humans can see and test, theists posit the naive “hypothesis” that an unseen superbeing created the whole shebang we call life. An “hypothesis” is only an “assumption made in order to test its logical or empirical consequences”. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary) Thus, an “hypothesis” is without proof while a “theory” is well on the way to scientific acceptability.

In theists, then, who deny the facts of evolution, we witness the absurd example of people who believe a hypothesis but not a theory. This, sorry to say, does not speak very highly of their scientific credentials, for if they will believe an hypothesis above a theory, either their scientific acuity or their motives must be brought into question. In order to be logically consistent, they must at least deny there is a superbeing until some quantifiable evidence is put forth for it. If they doubt both the superbeing and evolution, then we can at least believe in the veracity of their motives. However, if theists continue to believe a personal hypothesis above an observable theory, then we must question their motives. Any intellectually honest theist must eventually become, at least, agnostic.

Another untenable hypothesis of the theistic group is the idea of “intelligent design”. First, may I suggest Richard Dawkins’ The Blind Watchmaker as a brilliant book for the layman’s understanding of how natural selection works to bring about what seems like design? Beyond that book, let me point out how easily “intelligent design” falls apart. All we need do is look at the fossil record, at the observable, quantifiable and undeniable rise and death of zillions of species of the past and at the species currently arising and dying out, to refute design. For an intelligent designer, which is all powerful, why so much hit and miss, why so much carnage and waste in the creation? Why is this intelligent designer’s touch chaotic, random and continuing? If an interior designer came into our home when we first bought it and continued to this day to stay here and to tear apart the living room and kitchen, never finishing, we’d not long call him an “intelligent designer”. We’d say goodbye and good riddance. So, we must ask, if not by design, why does life keep fiddling with life? I’ll tell you why: it’s because we’re not witnessing the plan of a master craftsman but the random and chance operations of a natural selection whose processes perfectly explain the life of earth as we humans can observe it today.

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