The Evolution Debate

(See here) an AP piece that appears on MSNBC that reports on developments in the evolution debate in the state of Kansas.

First, let me state that as a truckdriver, I was able to sample some aspects of the local Kansas evolution debate while hauling freight through the state. I might not be completely up on all aspects of the creationists' arguments, however I am aware of at least some of the aspects. It is my opinion that the creationist side of the argument is not completely without merit.

I am pretty much a strong evolutionist with some creationist "spice" thrown into the stew of things that I feel help explain the history of the world and mankind in particular. You see, I believe in evolution, however I believe I see fingerprints from the "hand of God" in science's evolutionary explanation of nature.

I find some aspects of the creationist argument pretty absurd. Some (I do not believe it would be accurate to say "all") of "them" (creationists) want to argue that Planet Earth is only a few thousand years old because "the Bible tells them so". However, I would imagine that even within the creationists, there are some "reasonable" people that are willing to examine "scientific" evidence that if God did not want us to believe in evolution, he would not have left all the evidence he did that the earth is quite a bit older then only a few thousand years. If God was trying to fool us with all the evidence, well, he certainly succeeded in fooling me at least. If I am going to be a "dang fool" I see nothing wrong with allowing God to be the one who succeeds in making a fool out of me.

There is no room for God in evolution? Well Albert Einstein did not seem to think his discoveries in physics proved God did not exist. I believe part of his own personal explanation of the "order of the universe" was that "God does not throw dice".

Creationists do offer some valid arguments that question the total validity of the current scientifically backed explanation of our planet. I believe that it would be accurate to describe some of these arguments to actually be "scientific" themselves.

Let me point to an interesting case of scientific evidence that would seem to point to problems with a 100% modern science understanding of Planet Earth's history as explained by what we teach our children in our schools. (See here) a People's Daily piece that reports on evidence of intelligent beings of some sort existing on Planet Earth prior to the time intelligent man is thought to have evolved. Note the piece reports that some think the relics discovered are evidence of extraterrestrial beings having visited Earth. I myself wonder if this is only evidence that "intelligent life", whether it was mankind or some other species, existed prior to when it was thought to have evolved according to current scientific theories. Which is more likely? Little green men or the existence of intelligent life earlier then we thought? Please note that the People's Daily piece is fairly dated having appeared back in 2002, so perhaps a "more reasonable" explanation was arrived at which would explain why these relics have not caused more of a stir.

(See here) an s8int.com piece that reports on another piece of evidence that current theories of evolution do not account for. Here again is evidence that "intelligent life" predates time periods that modern explanations say it came to be. How do we explain a tool fashioned with metal being encased in rock which carbon dating shows to be about a hundred million years old?

Now, I am not going to point to this as being evidence that scientific methods of dating relics is in error (which would be proof that Planet Earth might only be a few thousand years old) I am saying that our current understanding of the evolution of man might be lacking, or that there is evidence that some intelligent species other then man once existed. Since no evidence has yet been uncovered of the "missing link", I myself think that mankind existed long before modern explanations say our species existed. Of course, this is not based on anything scientific, however it might explain the "scientific evidence" (and abscence of it) that does exist.

Perhaps if the modern civilization of our species is knocked back by something like runaway global warming or some other planet wide cataclysmic event, forcing our species to revert to barbarism and continue with only a few survivors scurrying like cockroaches to the remotest and only rarely remaining inhabitable corners of our planet, future scientists will also puzzle over the relics they find of us. How would they explain a microchip encased in limestone for example?

But what should we be teaching our children in school? Evolution or creationism? Well, most of my schooling during my youth happened at parochial schools. I will note that I was taught creationism in religion class and evolution in science class. When as a child I asked for the explanation from my teachers for the discrepancy, it was explained to me that neither explanation ruled out the other.

While evidence is that Planet Earth is older then some creationists would attempt to prove, evidence is that the current scientific explanation alone fails to explain everything.

One day, perhaps somebody smarter (or a little crazier and willing to consider the crazy explanations) then Albert Einstein will come up with a "theory of everything" that can stand up to scientific scrutiny. However, I would not be totally surprised that deep at the core of this explanation, we will find God still reigning supreme on His throne.

Would it really be wrong for our teachers, even in our publicly supported science classes, to acknowledge that there still are limits to what mankind can explain? While we should not be teaching religion in public science classes (which religion's version of creation then would be taught) it is not wrong to admit that as mankind continues to make discoveries, some things now considered highly unlikely are apt to one day be proven as fact.


Blogger Michael said...

Firstly, even if our CURRENT understanding of some evolutionary processes are incorrect, that is not evidence that creationism is right. That is what the creationist try to get away with all the time. Discovering that the Earth is not completely round, for example, is NOT evidence for the flat-Earth hypothesis.

For example, that bit of iron in apparently fossiled wood. If it IS TRUE (which I strongly doubt), that suggest a tool making creature long before we thought possible. It is a stunning archeological discovery. However, it neither suggests that our understanding of human evolution is wrong and nor does it support creationism. The authors are using the "God of the Gaps" argument.

"Wow! Look at this! Isn't it amazing! I can't fathom it with science, therefore God did it."

It is clearly a ridiculous proposition. Lack of understanding is not evidence for creationism or for God any more it is for the fairy at the end of the garden, green pixies or Santa Claus.

Insofar as Albert Einstein, he is the favourite poster boy for the "religious moderates". You, like many others, have systematically misquoted him. Einstein was an atheist and the historical evidence clearly shows that to be true. He uses the term "God" in the poetic sense; i.e., as in "nature" or "laws of the universe".

Einstein also said:
It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.

Another quotation from him:
I don't try to imagine a personal God; it suffices to stand in awe at the structure of the world, insofar as it allows our inadequate senses to appreciate it.


2/22/2007 05:55:00 PM  
Blogger Little David said...

Well, then I guess I just disagree with my dear friend Albert. Evidence is that Albert was at least a tad bit smarter then me - grin - however evidently he did not know "everything" either or he would have produced "The Theory of Everything".

Perhaps the reason Albert, as smart as he was, was unsuccessful was because he did not include God in his explanation? I am not saying his theory would have had to "prove" God exists, but that it would have had to allow for the existance of God.

As for evolution, I am only insisting that it be taught according to that which science teaches it to be. It is a THEORY. Until SCIENCE can prove the THEORY is FACT, it should be pointed out that other theories, however unlikely they are to be true, exist.

Personally, I think you are singing to the choir when you argue your point with me. As I stated, I am a pretty strong evolutionist. However, I am unwilling to point to my belief in my own THEORY as being proven scientific fact. I am willing to acknowledge the holes in the theory I believe in.

2/27/2007 05:57:00 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

I think perhaps you have some misunderstanding of the meaning of "theory" in the scientific sense. It is not a "guess" or a "conjecture" as the term is used in the vernacular.

A "scientific theory" must be backed by verifiable facts and be internally consistent. That species can change over time in response to environmental pressures is not a "guess", it is fact and we can demonstrate it easily experimentally. Evolutionary theory is the keystone foundation of modern biology and it has an overwhelming amount of evidence (i.e., measured fact) behind it.

Debates about evolutionary theory are not about whether it exists or not. Rather, on how it works.

An analogy is the theory of gravity. No one denies that gravity exists. It is easily measurable. Refinement in scientific knowledge is HOW gravity works (e.g., Newton's theory vs general relativity).

With regards to your "point out other theories", I posted this comment in another comment. There is not "two sides" over every story. There is often only one side and a lunatic fringe. Basically, if evolutionary theory is wrong, whatever replaces it MUST EXPLAIN all the phenomena that supports evolutionary theory. That is clearly not "intelligent design". ID is invoke the "God of the Gaps" argument: "evolution doesn't seem to explain phenomenon "X" thus God did it". It is a ludicrous parody of science that has no place in the scientific community.

Let me state it clearly: there is no credible alternative at this time to evolutionary theory.

With regards to Einstein, I have no idea what you are going on about. The "theory of everything" refers to grand unified theory which is the development of a conceptual framework that unites the four known fundamental forces into a single model. No one has been able to do this and it possibly means that our understanding of physics is incomplete (particularly with gravity, especially quantum gravity). Sorry, but god(s) don't seem to have a place here.


2/28/2007 04:02:00 AM  
Blogger Little David said...

Sigh. I am not arguing in favor of Creationism. As I have stated, I am a pretty strong evolutionist. However, since I believe in God, I think I see God's fingerprints all over evolution. I do not have a problem with it if you, when you look, you do not see the fingerprints.

My own OPINION (not a theory) is that the timeline of the evolution of the human species has problems. There seems to be evidence (which I linked to and there are other examples) that either mankind evolved earlier then the present timeline allows for or some other intelligent species, for which there is no evidence, once existed.

However I do not think that even these findings are enough to stop us from teaching evolution in our science classes. Evolution is the best theory our species has, however I still do not think it is wrong to acknowledge that our best understanding still has problems.

2/28/2007 07:06:00 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

I believe that you are too easily swayed by pseudoscience. I have seen absolutely no credible evidence (i.e., not just pictures on the net and people make loud proclamations but detailed, throughtful and rigorous study) that our understanding of human evolution is substantially incorrect.


3/03/2007 04:58:00 AM  
Blogger Little David said...

You are too quick to dismiss any evidence that would prove your preconceived opinion inaccurate. I will point to your "if it is true" statement that you made earlier.

You might dismiss the evidence, however I am going to point to the evidence presented and state the timeline we are teaching our kids about human evolution has a problem with it. If the human timeline is accurate, then an intelligent species other then humans once existed on this earth or "little green men" once visited this planet.

Surely you will admit that our understanding of the history of our planet is incomplete. It is my belief that dismissed evidence such as the submerged city in the Gulf of Mexico point to intelligent humanity predating the time we think it evolved. Perhaps I am wrong, however then there must have been another intelligent species before mankind.

3/15/2007 11:26:00 PM  

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