Over and over and over, Christians come to this site and express their "informed opinion" that Evolution must be accepted on faith and is therefore equal to a religious belief in Creationism.
Is this true? Is accepting the Theory of Evolution as the best model for understanding the natural progression of life forms akin to religious convictions about Christian Creationism?
Here is a short list of some commonly accepted theories in a variety of disciplines:
- Astronomy: Big Bang Theory
- Biology: Cell theory - Evolution by natural selection
- Chemistry: Atomic theory — Kinetic theory of gases
- Climatology: Theory of Global Climate Change (due to anthropogenic activity)
- Computer science: Algorithmic information theory — Computation theory
- Economics: Decision theory
- Engineering: Circuit theory — Control theory — Signal theory - Systems theory
- Film: Film Theory
- Games: Game theory - Rational choice theory
- Geology: Plate tectonics
- Humanities: Critical theory
- Literature: Literary theory
- Mathematics: Catastrophe theory — Category theory — Chaos theory — Graph theory — Number theory — Probability theory — Set theory
- Music: Music theory
- Philosophy: Proof theory — Speculative reason — Theory of truth — Type theory — Value theory — Virtue theory
- Physics: Acoustic theory — Antenna theory - General relativity — Special relativity — Theory of relativity — Quantum field theory
- Planetary science: Giant impact theory
- Sociology: Critical social theory- Social theory
- Statistics : Extreme value theory
Obviously, most of these theories are accepted by the majority of educated individuals without a lot of emotional discussion, but when it comes to the theories that appear to contradict fundamentalist religious teachings, those theories fall under heavy and aggressive criticism by Christians.
Well, theories are not intended to be revelation knowledge from a deity. Theories are crafted by scrutinizing and observing the natural world and then constructing a model to better understand the processes taking place. Using these theories, humans have been able to considerably enhance life on Earth for a huge portion of the population.
Theories observe the natural world, and attempt to understand how nature works. That's all a theory is. That's all a theory does.
Theories can be replaced by better theories, and this happens fairly regularly as experimentation reveals a deeper comprehension of the hitherto elusive secrets of nature.
Rejecting a theory does not consign a person to everlasting torment, and accepting a theory does not promote a person to everlasting bliss. Theories do not address anything "supernatural," because supernatural things do not exist in nature. If something supernatural existed in nature, then it would be natural. In order to exist in nature, it can't be supernatural. Supernatural is outside of nature. Scientific theories cannot prove or disprove supernatural things, because supernatural things cannot be observed in nature. Again, if it is observable in nature, then it is testable, measurable, natural.
So why is there so much discussion by religious people about the Theory of Evolution? The answer is obvious — the theory appears to contradict the religious belief in a magical "poofing into existence" of life and the natural universe by an unexplainable, untestable, unmeasurable, supernatural entity that doesn't exist in nature.
Magic. Creationism is a nothing more than belief in supernatural magic. Creationism denies natural processes and instead embraces supernatural magic — something that can only be imagined.
Creationism does not attempt to explain the processes in the natural world. Creationism ignores nature, strives to shut down all inquiry into nature, and seeks to undermine established scientific thought. No evidence is posited for Creationism, but so-called holes in the scientific models are picked at, and then those holes are trumpeted as incontrovertible evidence that religious views are solidly supported. The problem I see with this kind of thinking is the assumption of an either/or solution to unanswered questions. If evolution can be discounted as a flawed model for understanding nature, then the 2,000-year-old religious teachings are thought by the religous to, by default, become true. There may indeed be many adjustments needed to our scientific theories, I certainly don't have the education or higher thinking to know otherwise. So, I’m even willing to suggest that our present theories on the origins and development of life may one day be thrown on the scrapheap as science advances. Still, even if that happens, religion won't somehow win the argument, because religion has presented no evidence favorable to its position. Consider this for a moment: When a political figure relegates his or her campaign to merely denigrating his or her opponents, is there anything being said in favor of the critical candidate? Why would I vote for a leader that has nothing positive to say about himself or herself, and the only positive thing that can be said in favor of this candidate is negative statements made about the opponent?
Surely negative campaigning is not the way to support a position, is it?
There is not one real Creation scientist. Creationism performs no experiments. Creationism funds no laboratories. Creationism supports no research centers. There is nothing but armchair philosophizing in Creationism, bolstered by religious, intellectual-sounding banter.
When Copernicus presented his theory that planets revolved around the sun, he was condemned by all of Christendom for contradicting the sure teachings of scripture:
"People gave ear to an upstart astrologer who strove to show that the earth revolves, not the heavens or the firmament, the sun and the moon....This fool wishes to reverse the entire science of astronomy; but sacred scripture tells us [Joshua 10:13]that Joshua commanded the sun to stand still, and not the earth." Martin Luther in one of his "Table Talks" in 1539
"People give ear to an upstart astrologer [Copernicus]who strove to show that the earth revolves, not the heavens or the firmament, the sun and the moon. Whoever wishes to appear clever must devise some new system, which of all systems is of course the very best. This fool wishes to reverse the entire science of astronomy." Martin Luther, Works, Volume 22, c. 1543
“The proposition that the sun is the centre of the world and does not move from its place is absurd and false philosophically and formally heretical, because it is expressly contrary to the Holy Scripture.” The Church sentences Galileo (1633)
"The heavens revolve daily, and, immense as is their fabric, and inconceivable the rapidity of their revolutions, we experience no concussion -- no disturbance in the harmony of their motion. The sun, though varying its course every diurnal revolution, returns annually to the same point. The planets, in all their wandering, maintain their respective positions. How could the earth hang suspended in the air were it not upheld by God's hand? (Job 26:7) By what means could it [the earth] maintain itself unmoved, while the heavens above are in constant rapid motion, did not its Divine Maker fix and establish it? Accordingly the particle, ape, denoting emphasis, is introduced -- YEA, he hath established it." — John Calvin, Commentary on the Book of Psalms, Psalm 93, verse 1, trans., James Anderson (Eerdman's, 1949), Vol. 4, p. 7
"Those who assert that 'the earth moves and turns'...[are] motivated by 'a spirit of bitterness, contradiction, and faultfinding;' possessed by the devil, they aimed 'to pervert the order of nature.'" — John Calvin, sermon no. 8 on 1st Corinthians, 677, cited in John Calvin: A Sixteenth Century Portrait by William J. Bouwsma (Oxford Univ. Press, 1988), A. 72
The present argument over evolution by Christian fundamentalists is clearly history repeating itself.
If Christianity hopes to survive into the future, then instead of kicking against the goads of scientific inquiry, Christianity needs to cast aside stubborn ignorance and embrace real knowledge.
What do you think?