Friday, October 30, 2009

What does it matter to you?

I was on a forum I regularly post on recently and a topic came up that got me thinking. The thread was called 'what does it matter?' or something along those lines, and it was asking the question of why does it matter so much to creationists that evolution is false? Unless a creationist answers this question for me I'll still be puzzled, but I can still speculate..

It confuses me because many Christians have already conceded that many of the biblical stories are allegorical or metaphorical, so why not genesis? In fact there is a particular breed of creationists known as old earth creationists, many proponents of the 'Intelligent Design' movement also fall under this category, who believe the Genesis account isn't meant to be taken completely literally, but still reject the fact of common descent.

Their position definitely isn't one supported by evidence, as every single fossil ever uncovered, every strand of DNA, and every living creature support evolution not special creation. Unquestioning faith seems to be the root of this issue, and for some creationists no amount of evidence or reason would ever convince them otherwise. What really irks me about creationism, is that most sophisticated theologians have already accepted the fact of common descent, and have adjusted their theology slightly to accommodate this, but this hasn't trickled down to the rest of the believers.

While I'm on the topic of why does it matter to creationists, I may as well ask myself the same question.
Why does it matter to me that evolution is true?
To put it simply, it doesn't matter to me at all, it's just a matter of fact. It matters as much to me as the fact that the grass is green is. If evolution was proved wrong (This will almost certainly never happen) I would no longer accept it.


  1. Interesting then that you'd spend time blogging about it. If it doesn't matter. I am a creationist, unfortunately having wagged almost all of my year 12 and 13 biology classes and passing in a huge victory for luck, I don't know enough to argue scientifically why evolution can't be right. Hell i would need to spend my life studying it, and I just dont care enough.

    On that basis maybe I shouldn't say that I'm a creationist, instead I'll say that I believe the biblical account of creation and therefore, I suppose, must at least amalgamate evolution into how God did it, until it's proven wrong. Which segues to my point. There might be a whole lot of scientific evidence for Evolution, infinitely more perhaps than that for creation, but it is not yet a matter of fact, there are still unexplainable hindrances that prevent evolution from delivering the final blow to creationism and thus until a time at which these hindrances are explained there is just as much reason to put my faith in the little guy as there is for you to put yours in the big one. A whole pile of evidence interpreted one way can be completely invalidated with the appearance of one new piece of evidence for the opposition. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

    P.S. It matters to me, I just spent 5 minutes writing that response so I can't say it doesn't, but, it matters just because I have not yet mastered the art of faith, whether in myself, in God, in the absence of God, in toast or whatever. I haven't managed to release myself from the necessity of validating or at least defending my claims... yet.

  2. doesn't it matter when they teach it in schools?

  3. My point was that I don't really care on a personal level if evolution is true or not, but I accept it because it happens to be true. I spent a good part of my teenage years reading anti-evolution literature, only to later find out that I had wasted so much time and effort, as many of the arguments I had been reading against evolution were refuted well and truly before I was even born.

    The way you say "until it's proven wrong" makes it sound as if you think it's going to happen. The evidence for evolution is very abundant and if you take the time to examine this evidence you'll see just how overwhelming it really is. On the other hand there is absolutely no evidence for creation. The 'best' pieces of 'evidence' that creationists have are instead a lack of evidence. This lack of evidence shows the difference between a scientist and a creationist.
    When a scientist sees a gap in current knowledge they say "theres something we still need to find out"
    When a creationist sees a gap in current knowledge they say "God must have done it!" And when science eventually discovers the answer to that gap in knowledge the creationist looks rather stupid indeed, and they go looking for another gap.

    ". A whole pile of evidence interpreted one way can be completely invalidated with the appearance of one new piece of evidence for the opposition."

    Yes, for example if we found a fossil of a mammal from the cambrian period, the theory of evolution as we know it would be destroyed. That is what makes it a scientific theory, it is falsifiable, and if the evidence against it really existed it would have been falsified a long time ago because it really is a fragile theory.

  4. Well said KJ.

    In fact that brings us to the point where I do start to care beyond "it makes for more interesting conversation than the weather".

    Since "Creation Science" doesn't follow any of the basic scientific rules it should never be taught in a school science curriculum. Not so much a problem in NZ but in the states... oh boy...

  5. "until it's proven wrong" sorry, I'm an arts student, we get marks for poetic license, unfortunately for a reader from anything but an arts background, inflection in written speech is hard to discern, don't read too far into it.

    To say that evidence would have been found if it existed already is a ridiculous claim, given that new evidence continues to surface 'for' evolution why couldn't new evidence show up 'against' it.

    Admit you care. You do care.

  6. Of the thousands of fossils that have been found, every single one corroborates with what we would expect to find if life had evolved. There is not a single fossil in existence that even tarnishes common descent. That's why I said that if there was evidence against evolution, chances are we would have found some by now. I might do a post on the evidence for evolution because it seems a lot of people don't know just how much evidence there is.

  7. The evolution vs creation argument exists on several levels. The reason that many Christians, Muslims, Jews etc have a problem with evolution is not because the idea is incompatible with their belief systems (as you said KJ, if one takes a position regarding the Bible as a metaphorical or allegorical guide book rather than a literal representation of God's works, it is easy to see that evolution and Christianity are not necessarily mutually incompatible). See for a discussion of the Vatican's position. (Obviously the fact that many of the non mainstream Protestant Apostolic-Evangelist Christian sects which accept the literal word of the Bible refuse to even acknowledge that Catholics are Christians prevents this from being adopted by the entire Christian community!)
    The significant problem, to my mind, is that Darwin's Theory of Evolution is championed by athiests as 'proof' that God does not exist. Of course, to believers of any faith, this cannot be accepted. I personally can see the attractions of evolution, and I have read a lot about it in the past few years as I try to keep up with the debate. It is important to balance your reading - for every Richard Dawkins you must also read an Ian Wishart, for example. Pick up on the points of debate and find out where they differ.
    I must admit my own position has changed somewhat in the past few years, as it became clear that a lot of the 'evidence' presented by so-called Creationists to refute evolution had been misinterpreted or debunked decades earlier. However, the iconoclastic approach of evolutionists is not acceptable to me either, and the more I look into evolution the more I realise that to believe in the sheer chance and randomness of it all is to live in a pretty pathetically sad universe.
    You say there are thousands of fossils out there which vouch for evolution. Certainly there are many which seem to track stages in development in certain species, from one version of a horse to another version etc. To hope for fossils demonstrating the evolution of single celled amoebae into four legged land creatures is perhaps asking too much, but where are the fossils of random mutations gone wrong? Because if the mutations ARE random, then surely for every successful change there must be many more that were not successful. Having a third arm would have come in pretty handy for neolithic man (as indeed it would today), so why might this not also have randomly evolved at some point? Or wings - they would certainly have helped in our 'fight or flight' days.
    The concept of Intelligent Design therefore appeals to me, and many other people who have a much greater faith than I do. This accepts the general principle of evolution but rejects the godlessness of its main adherents.
    Evolution to me is inextricably tied up with the Big Bang, and this is a major reason for why I cannot accept a Godless scientific explanation. The Big Bang happened. First there was nothing, then there was something. Science cannot explain how it happened, or what was there before. Physics states that energy cannot be created out of nothing, but from a state of nothingness this amazing explosion of energy supposedly erupted, creating the entire universe. Essentially, all science can come back to is one simple phrase - "in the beginning, there was darkness ... and then, there was light." I'm pretty sure I've read this somewhere else...

  8. Wow Goddard, you're smart. P.S Ian Wishart would be stoked to be named alongside Richard Dawkins I'm sure. I'ma tell him.

  9. Mr. Goddard ftw! I thought that was you :D
    Thumbnail just a little too teeny to know for sure.

    Epic post.