The Truth of Evolution

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

A reader recently commented that there are theistic scientists who reject biological evolution, and this is why the reader also rejects the truth of evolution. 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 a few outliers. You could probably find a (very) few scientists who believe in Bigfoot or alien abductions too. But none of this changes the fact that evolution has the same scientific status as the theory of gravity or atomic theory, a claim easily verified at the National Academy of Science website or any of the hundreds of legitimate scientific websites listed below.

The consensus of belief in biological evolution 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. Remember that when you get a flu shot each year or finish your antibiotics, you’re implicitly accepting evolution—viruses and bacteria 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. Searching for and finding a rare outlier 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 minds. I learned long ago that 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.

Yet at the same time, I sometimes wonder what difference it all makes. I know that biological evolution is true beyond any reasonable doubt and those who don’t know this are mistaken. But so what? Does it really do me any good to know this? Perhaps others are happier with their false beliefs and maybe that is more important than being right. I just don’t know.

But for those interested in the truth about the fact of evolution you can visit any of these links.

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

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10 thoughts on “The Truth of Evolution

  1. I am a scientist and Christian mystic. In my new book called ‘Response Theology-Agape Love Powered by Holy Spirit,’ I used evolution to dispel some of the scientifically untenable ideas of orthodox Christianity. For example, we know that evolution has given the capacity for humans with free will to procreate. God does not create anyone, biological parents do. Evolution has also given us a ‘mean streak’ that we must overcome through a spiritual renewal that emphasizes agape love for one another. This is unconditional, sacrificial, selfless, and in-action love for those in need of peace, food, and safe shelter. As Michael Dowd entitled his book ‘Thank God for Evolution,’ we must also be thankful for evolution. In my book I predict our next step in evolution. See if you agree with that ‘prophesy.’

  2. I may have heretofore commented on evolution and what I, as a nominally literate non-scientist thinker, think about it. If not here, then on another blog. I won’t beat the horse. instead, I will adopt the sub specie view, from Nagel and others, via Jamesian pragmatism. And Rorty. The argument, from theism, is not useful to science. And, the vice is versa. Therefore, their best course, IMHO, is to do as Gould tried to advise and stay out of each other’s way. That, however, is not acceptable to theism. It would abrogate the responsibility (perceived) to keep God-fearing humans on the straight-and-narrow.
    This will continue, seems to me, as long as there is heaven in the sky and earth on the ground.

  3. I take a more easygoing view of science deniers. While I ferociously challenge them when they attempt to spread their deceitful ideas, I am happy to leave them to stew in their own errors. I believe that happiness is best achieved by identifying as closely as possible with reality. It’s similar to the notion of “Make me one with Everything”. Reality is Truth and Beauty and all that other good stuff. After decades of study, I can finally see that everything really is interconnected, and it all fits together beautifully.

    Those who distance themselves from Reality by subordinating it to their egotistical preferences confine themselves to a small and wretched world.

  4. A person who chooses his/her beliefs based on the belief of anyone else is not being scientific. One of the basic tools of unreason is doing science in reverse. Choosing what to believe, then find the evidence to support that belief. You’re right, there is no reasoning with such people. But in the end, their individual beliefs, even if they mirror that of millions of others, matter little to the truth. For nature, as Richard Feynman said, “cannot be fooled.

  5. you’re right about nature not being fooled. those viruses evolve no matter what people think.

  6. This reveals your wisdom Chris. And it makes me feel a bit better about the pursuit of knowledge.

  7. Skeptics of macro-evolution will not only argue that gods are deceiving us to test our faith, also:

    “it’s a trick by the Devil to deceive us into worshipping he himself—the Counterfeit God.”

  8. In the beginning, approx. 14 billion years ago, we believe the Universe was created, by whom or what is still debated. Our earth is approx. only 4.5 billion years old, while we Homo Sapiens evolved only some 200-300K years ago. That’s only about 3/4 seconds of time on the geologic time scale. Hardly enough time to smooth out our animal inheritance. Given this scale of time, it seems extreme to believe a God waited billions of years to instill a soul into man so late. At least my church is now comfortable with theistic evolution, except with a soul. The evolutionary biologist, Richard Dawkings thinks it was “a way to smuggleGod in by the back door.” I’ve come to the belief, and beliefs as noted, are strongly held, that there is energy/spirit in all things and it has been like this from the beginning. Anyone familiar with quantum physics or mechanics is familiar with entangled atoms. I suspect there will be discovered in the future proof that this old Universe vibrates with energy, and thus connects us all to the forces directing our evolution. I hope we can remain in harmony with this force/spirit.

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