Truth and Evolution


“As a rule we disbelieve all the facts and theories for which we have no use.” ~ William James

I rarely reply to a comment of a previous post. One reason is that, as 30 years of being a professor has demonstrated, you rarely change people’s minds. And I am just too old to enter into a polemic. But I may have been misunderstood. So to clarify the position of my previous post, I’ll reply to this comment.

In view of the fact that you mention the germ theory of disease, its interesting to note that Ernst Boris Chain the co-winner of the Nobel prize for his work in refining and perfecting penicillin, which has probably saved over 200 million lives, believed in God and thought Darwinism was no more than a fairy tale.

The reader is correct that there are theistic scientists, a self-evident claim that no rational person would deny. In fact this blog and my recent book document that 7% of the members of the national academy of science members are theists. Of course the evidence also meticulously shows that religious belief declines with educational attainment, among other factors. Of course this doesn’t mean that religious belief is false, but it does suggest that religion is not best defended by appealing to frequency of religious belief among scientists, for religious belief among that cohort is considerably less than in virtually any other group. Other arguments are perhaps better suited to a defense of religion.

As for the fact that an individual scientist rejects the near unanimous opinion of other scientists, this is hardly surprising. There are hundreds of thousands of scientists in USA—more than ten million if you count all those employed with science and engineering degrees—so it is easy to find outliers. You can find a few scientists who believe in bigfoot or alien abductions too. That doesn’t change the fact that evolution has the same scientific status as the theory of gravity or the atom, a claim easily verified at the National Academy of Science website or any of hundreds of legitimate scientific websites listed below. (Obviously this consensus is based on the overwhelming evidence from multiple sciences including: physics, chemistry, biochemistry, genetics, molecular biology, cell biology, population biology, ornithology, herpetology, paleontology, geology, zoology, botany, comparative anatomy, population ecology, anthropology and more.) Anyone who tells you they don’t believe in evolution is either lying or scientifically illiterate. There is no other possibility. Remember too that when you get a new flu shot each year or finish your antibiotics, your implicitly accepting evolution—viruses evolve quickly.

Still it is possible that the outliers are correct. Maybe what goes up doesn’t come back down, perhaps the earth is flat or things don’t change over time—perhaps the gods deceive us about all of this to test our faith. But I wouldn’t bet on it! To trust the outliers is simple confirmation bias, finding cases to confirm what one already believes.

Yet I have no illusions that anything I say will change people’s mind. As the post states “people don’t want to know, they want to believe.” Interestingly, credulity itself has evolutionary origins. We are wired to believe what our parents tell us—it helped us survive—hence we often believe in adulthood what we were told when we were young.

For those interested in the truth about the fact of evolution you can visit any of these  websites.

I’m sure you could find many others … if you are really interested in the truth.

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