Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Evolution: Mere Theory?

One of the most incredulous analogies I have ever had to read with regards to the purported "myths" of evolution is statistical improbability: According to Christians or Creationists, Evolution seems to hover somewhere between the supernatural and the impossible: It would be the equivalent of a Boeing 747, stripped of all its mechanic and electronic parts and scattered randomly on an airfield, and then invoking a hurricane or maelstrom to jumble up all these parts and assembling a whole Boeing 747 from the resulting storm. According to these religious skeptics, the human body is so intricately "designed", or any living organism for the matter, that life on Earth would have to be dependent on the constructive hands of a Creator.

If anything else, such an analogy is laughable, and indeed highlights the abject ignorance of Christians towards the theory of evolution. While the idea that a visiting weather catastrophe can hardly be expected to conjure up a flying plane of any sort, the idea that evolution requires a simple, random factor to dictate its fate is furthest from the truth, as I shall proceed to illustrate.

Evolution: More than Just "Mere Theory"

If anything else, such an analogy is laughable, and indeed highlights the abject ignorance of Christians towards the theory of evolution.

Quite often, as I read about the profound nonsense uttered from the Creationist camp, the phrase "mere theory" is invoked as a convoluted form of misunderstanding towards Evolution: Evolution is a theory, not a fact, according to Creationists. The very fact that such a statement has been uttered time and time again is testament to either a deliberate distortion of truth, or a deep misunderstanding of "scientific theory".

As a word unto itself, a theory is synonymous with supposition: Mere speculation without the presence of tangible proof. Such an explanation cannot be deemed wrong in the original sense of the word, but again, a scientific theory encompasses more than mere speculation.

As a scientific theory, evolution is supported by tons of physical and empirical evidence: From the fossilized bones of creatures that have long gone the way of the dodo, to the empirical data garnered from carbon dating and DNA sequencing, we now know that life has been steadily growing and diversifying into the various branches we see today: Mammals, birds, plants, reptiles, etc.

The point of contention, according to Creationists, is that there is a general dispute amongst the scientific community (minus one or two oddballs, plus the Kent Hovind, fake-scientist prototypes) that evolution may or may not viable enough to explain the diversity of life. The opposite, however is true: Not only are scientists absolutely sure that Evolution is a scientific theory and a fact, they have by and large acknowledged the fact that evolution is the standard mechanism for all schools of biology: Through the random replication of genes and the process of natural selection, life evolved gradually over billions of years.

Without an adequate grasp on the subject of evolution, a scientist will not be able to explain and decipher general mutations in viruses which can produce new prototype viruses that can sustain an immunity against an outdated drug. Various biological traits in species, such as the approximate sizes of animals, are determined by the environment they live in: The Galapagos tortoises, for example, are far larger and heavier than most tortoises because of the relative comfort afforded by an isolated environment, which is devoid of prey, other than Man himself.

When scientific theory is concerned, scientists do not question the legitimacy of Evolution: Rather, they argue about the finer points, such as the characteristics of prehistoric animals, or the manner in which a T-Rex is supposed to seize its prey.

Climbing Mount Improbable

As Richard Dawkins illustrated in his book, Climbing Mount Improbable, he likens evolution to a mountain: On the very base of the mountain is perhaps the very origins of life: Single-celled bacteria. On the very top is Man. In front of the mountain is a treacherous slope, and almost vertical climb that no one or organism can reach within a single leap. Behind the mountain, however, there exists a single, gentle, slope. The gradient is ever so slight, so that anyone can walk comfortably to the summit without a great leap of faith.

Cue Evolution: From the simplest of organisms, life emerges and takes small, gradual, and incremental steps, hence breaking that very distant and remote improbability into manageable events that branch out from a singular source of life. Evolution, given a incredibly long span of time, is a viable, observable process, albeit not in its entirety.

If anything else, Evolution is more than just mere theory: It has become an established fact, albeit the fact that there are still more facts and probably some niggly gritty problems that still require a lot of work from biologists and other scientists.

As for Creationists who continue to question the legitimacy of Evolution, they might want to start sourcing for any concrete evidence for their biblically-inspired bullshit, Creationism, and its Trojan Horse, Intelligent Design. Either that, or take a long vacation to a natural history museum, instead of some bogus Creationist Museums and some other charlatan-inspired drivel.

"Life results from the non-random survival of randomly varying replicators."

-Richard Dawkins


Writer, Splinters of said...


You write: "As a word unto itself, a theory is synonymous with supposition: Mere speculation without the presence of tangible proof."

My question:

If "Such an explanation cannot be deemed wrong in the original sense of the word" then how is it that the same can be deemed fact?


Larro said...

Beast, looks like you've read or are reading the God Delusion. Dawkins uses the 747 analogy (which I found quite apt).

What I took away from the Mount Improbable analogy is that people of faith face the sheer cliff and attempt to "leap" to the top while bypassing the gradual slope (which defines the REAL creation of life) in order to understand how life came to be.

Splinters, there are no concrete facts as most truly faithful claim to assert by reading their precious scriptures (which many claim to be infallible) as concerned with science. Scientific theory is the essence of the evidential quest for knowledge of the world in which we live. Not muddled, gobbledy-gook fables and myths attested by creationist enthusiasts. When what they hold in their hands is a thousands year old book written by shysters.

handmaiden said...

Good post beast.

Tim, the difference is:
faith starts with belief & looks for evidence to support the starts with evidence & uses it to form a belief. Science is only always the extent of human knowledge. It doesn't claim to be anything else. Did Ford use God to invent the car?

BEAST said...


I think I have explained it sufficiently: A Scientific theory is not just any theory, so you cannot take the basic word at face value. A scientific theory is a fact: It is just that the exact nature and mechanisms pertaining to it still needs fine tuning. And in the case of evolution, there is a lot more we haven't really figured out. Come to think of it, we don't even have the database of every living creature and plant on this planet, let alone animals that have gone extinct for millions or billions of years.

The truth is, when it comes to the theory of gravity, I don't see any Christians crying hue about the non-existence of gravity. The issue here is that evolution clashes with the traditionally held view that God created the world in 7 days, and christians simply do not wish to accept Evolution as fact.


I finished reading the God Delusion twice, and yes, it is an excellent read.


If Gawd did invent a car, I definitely wouldn't buy it....we can't even depend on Gawd to "design" this planet right anyway!


Wolverine111 said...

Beast, exciting post. I stumbled across your site just today and I think I might come back for more.

well, I've had the argument of creationism with one of my best friends in junior college once before. When I knew him, he wasn't religious, at all. 2 years after we parted for our degrees in different schools, I got news from some of my other friends that went with him that he became actively involved in a biblical study group, and one day he surprised me when he IM'd me about his views on creationism.

First off, I'd like to clarify that his major is bio-chemistry, and he knew a lot about genetics and so forth. However, the first things that he told me is that "it is impossible to evolve into complex organisms, because of some indivisibility property of the cells" . he claimed that there's no more "basic" version of the atomic structure of an organism.

of course I was appalled by his views. at the same time it's amazing how religion, used in a wrong way, could distort someone into not believing facts that are at hand. Well, as a friend I've tried to make him see the bigger picture of things, but I can never undo the damage. Never once did I know that you can make someone unlearn the theory of evolution.