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5/03/2008                                                                                       View Comments

Why is evolution so unpopular?

By AL



Hello. I’m Al. I’m an atheist, I actively believe that supernatural gods don’t exist.

In my previous video, “What Science Isn’t”, I detailed the case that the intelligent design movement had motivations that were far more political than scientific.

Creationism never had the anywhere near the level of objective evidence that evolution provided, but creationism still sees popular support in the United States.

Although I’d like to go into the overwhelming evidence that evolution has, in this video I’ll detail my thoughts on why anti-evolutionism is so prevelant in America.

This video doesn’t touch on atheism as much as my previous videos, but I think everyone, atheists included, has a stake in seeing that our education system stays true to scientific principles.

Also, because this video is centered on religion in America, I’ll mostly be talking about Christianity instead of theism in general.

I think I have some good insights into why science comes under assault when it deals with things such as the origin of life.

As usual, I’d like you to think about the things I say, and if you have anything to say back to me, please leave a comment.

(caption: On our humanity)

The heart of my argument on why so many are disinclined to accept evolution is because they think that it reduces our humanity and somehow makes us less special.This idea of human exceptionalism isn’t treated lightly, and many people take it very seriously.

There are lots of things that separate humans from other living organisms:

We discover mathematical principles that describe the behavior of the physical universe.
We wear clothing.
(naked) We create language that can be used to express complicated and abstract ideas.
We worship gods.
We create poetry, art, and video blogs.
We invent incredible things like skyscrapers, airplanes, and spoon-forks, which we call sporks.

Many people feel that since evolution dictates that we descended from apes, in a way this destroys our own humanity.

Here’s a short clip from NPR’s Morning Edition radio show that I feel quickly sums up the feelings of many on the anti-evolution side. On August 4, 2005 Steve Inskeep interviewed former Pennslyvanian Republican senator, Rick Santorum. During this time the Dover Area School Board was in court for promoting creationism in the classroom, and Santorum commented on his thoughts about evolution’s implications:

(Steve Inskeep) “Why do what you see as holes in the theory of evolution, and there are scientists here on the air, that will disagree that the idea that there are really that many holes, but-”
(Rick Santorum) “I just think they’re wrong.”
(Steve Inskeep) “Why does that particular item of the academic curriculum concern you as a United States senator? Why would those holes matter?”
(Rick Santorum) “It has huge consequences for society. It’s where we come from. Does man have a purpose? Is there a purpose for our lives? Or are we just simply, you know, the result of chance? If we are the result of chance, if we’re simply a mistake of nature, then that puts a different moral demand on us. In fact, it doesn’t put a moral demand on us, than if in fact we are a creation of a being that has moral demands.”

I think Santorum’s statements are very typical of the popular misconceptions of evolution. And there are several interesting things he said that I’d like to point out.

But something I want to show first is an interesting thing Santorum didn’t say:

Just because he finds the idea of humanity being descended from previous species to be philosophically uncomfortable, that doesn’t refute the scientific evidence in support of evolution.

This logical fallacy is known as an appeal to consequence, in which one rejects an argument simply because it leads an uncomfortable consequence, regardless of the argument’s actual merit.

But Santorum’s philosophical implications of evolution are also misconceptions. Evolutionary theory and the process of natural selection are completely disinterested in human morality and purpose.

Wow, despite Santorum also being a slang word for the mixture of semen and fecal matter that results from anal sex, I’ve managed to say his name repeatedly without giggling.

(suppressed and strained straight-face)

A similar flawed entanglement of science and philosophy occured in the beginning of the last century with Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity.

Heheh, get it? Einstein? Entanglement? Nevermind.

Relativity is a very unintuitive concept in physics, and most people didn’t quite understand it and applied it irrelevant areas such as human morality. There were many people who opposed Einstein’s relativity because they thought it implied an endorsement of moral relativism.

Not really. All it said was that light travels at a constant speed regardless of any frame of reference, which leads to time dialation, spacial contraction, and other phenomena as an object’s velocity approaches the speed of light. It also dictates that it is impossible for matter to travel faster than the speed of light in a vacuum.

Evolution isn’t quite as complicated, but it’s often misunderstood to imply that the development of humans from apes means humans are conscious-less, soulless animals without intellect or purpose.

Not really. All it describes is the gradual changes to the genes in a population in response to environmental pressures. It also dictates that over time new species arrise from these changes.

In the 1890s the term “social darwinism” appeared in the vernacular. It was term used by people colloquially known as “rich assholes” to justify racism, xenophobia, and widespread poverty. According to social darwinism, the upper class deserved their wealth because of their innate strength in climbing the social and finacial ladder. You could argue that the term didn’t have much to do with evolutionary biology, but at least it provided a convenient excuse to jail union leaders and use child labor.

(with overlay of handlebar mustache and monocole) Ha ha, inferior child, you will work in my coal mine.

“Survival of the fittest” was also misused as justification for eugenics, the philosophy that adovcates improving the human race through institutional intervention. Eugenics become unpopular in the 1930s and 40s when Nazi Germany decided to institute their idea of human improvement on a mass scale.

(wince)

All of this associates a lot of negative baggage with evolution, and while it has much to do with philosophy, politics, and sociology, it has nothing to do with biological science.

(caption: A supposition.)

I’m going to go out on a limb and make a supposition:

“There would be no popular controversy about the science of evolution and natural selection, if they did not imply that humans descended from apes.”

I think many people find discomfort with the idea that our ancestors of millions of years ago were primates, or single-cell microorganisms billions of years ago. And I think many theists are used to believing that their religion holds a monopoly as a source of moral behavior and values.

I disagree.

I don’t think we have a moral mandate because God said so. I think we have a moral mandate because our actions, nevertheless what we think, make a difference. We affect the people around us in material and emotional terms, and our actions set an example for others to follow.

We have a moral mandate to take responsibility because we are in the rare position among life forms on earth to think, reflect, and take consideration of consequence.
I think to fail to excogitate on our actions with our unique mental capabilities is tragic.
And we see the problems that arise out of this failure, both in problems of hurt emotions and damaged relationships, and in problems of brutal violence and conflict.

Our ancestory from millions of years ago doesn’t limit our intellectual capability to find solutions to these problems today.
It doesn’t impede our moral imperative to heal ourselves.
And, unlike what Rick Santorum says, it doesn’t remove purpose from our lives.

But many people don’t see it that way. And then evolution becomes an attack not only on our divine creation, but also one on our humanity.

And I think this is the reason there’s so much popular opposition to evolution.

I hope you consider the things I’ve had to say, and if you have anything to say to me, please leave a comment. A transcript of this video is available on my website at coffeeghost.net.

Take care, and thanks for watching.

24 comments:

Jason said...

Great post Al. There are a lot of reasons why a lot of people might not like evolution. Have you seen Ben Stein's new documentary on intelligent design called Expelled? I posted about it here. A response to Stein's documentary on Intelligent Design

resonate11 said...

Excellent points, Al. I agree with you.

C. David Parsons said...

A PARAGON OF SCIENTIFIC ACHIEVEMENT!

The Quest for Right, a series of 7 textbooks created for the public schools, represents the ultimate marriage between an in-depth knowledge of biblical phenomena and natural and physical sciences. The several volumes have accomplished that which, heretofore, was deemed impossible: to level the playing field between those who desire a return to physical science in the classroom and those who embrace the theory of evolution. The Quest for Right turns the tide by providing an authoritative and enlightening scientific explanation of natural phenomena which will ultimately dethrone the unprofitable Darwinian view.

The text begins simply enough, tracing the history of Darwin from an impressionable youth influenced by atheists and agnostics on every hand to a full-fledged agnostic in his own right. The matter may be summed up by the inclusion of Darwin’s sentiment regarding the Creator. In a bitter denial of Christianity, Darwin complained that he "could hardly see how anyone ought to wish Christianity to be true; for if so, the plain language of the text seems to show that the men who do not believe, and this would include my Father, Brother and almost all my best friends, will be everlastingly punished. And this is a damnable doctrine." Darwin charged his original belief in God to the "constant inculcation" (instruction or indoctrination) in a belief in God" during his childhood, which was as difficult to cast down as "for a monkey to throw off its instinctive fear and hatred of a snake…. Darwin purposed in his heart that he would no longer retain God in his knowledge. And the scientific illiterate upstart sought to entrap the innocents in the classroom in his web of deceit.

Once past the history of the Darwinist movement, the architecture of the quantum atom is explored in great detail. This is breathtakingly new!

The atom has been compared to a miniature sun-earth system with one or more electrons darting about everywhere at once weaving an electronic shell around the nucleus. In order for this to occur, “Bohr calculated that the electron must move at a speed of no less than seven million billion rotations per second.” Ummmm, "numerous electrons darting about, dodging one another at breakneck speeds would necessarily require the supernatural. The Quest for Right will prove to your complete satisfaction that the electron is directly adhered to the perimeter of the nucleus. “How could it have been otherwise?” The exciting text is remarkably easy to follow even for a lay person. Read a review:

"I am amazed at the breadth of the investigation - scientific history, biblical studies, geology, biology, geography, astronomy, chemistry, paleontology, and so forth - and find the style of writing to be quite lucid and aimed clearly at a general, lay audience." ― Mark Roberts, former Editor of Biblical Reference Books, Thomas Nelson Publishers.

The book is a virtual smorgasbord of good things to taste: a few of the entertaining subjects include: the earth was created from a watery nebula, the mechanism of gravity which was used to form the earth, the failed photoelectric effect, theory of antimatter, quantum creation (big bang theory), disappearing color, magical application of mathematics to explain certain rudimentary principles, Rayleigh scattering (sunsets), electricity, lightning, electrolyte, the browning of fruit, the mystery of fire, and the role of oxygen in the ignition of hydrocarbons. Then, there’s the desserts which are far too numerous to mention in this limited space; for example, the origin and dimise of the great dinosaurs. Moreover, you will marvel at the comprehensive law of fixed choice.

This is not your parent’s science book filled with distortions of the truth, called “quantum mysticism.” The comprehensive investigation--like none other you will read--quickly escapes into realism by underscoring the numerous experiments and errors responsible for the debasement of scientific theories based on whim. Teachers and students will rejoice in the simplicity of earthly phenomena when entertained by the new discipline.

The Quest for Right is not only an academic resource designed for the public schools, but also contains a wealth of information on pertinent subjects that seminarians, and Christians in general, need to know to be effective: geology, biology, geography, astronomy, chemistry, paleontology, and in-depth Biblical studies. The nuggets from the pages of Biblical history alone will give seminarians literally hundreds of fresh ideas for sermons and teachings. The ministry resources contained in The Quest for Right serve as invaluable aids that will enrich graduates beyond their highest expectations.

Visit the official website for additional information: http://questforright.com

Astreja said...

You spelled 'Parody of Scientific Achievement' wrong, Mr. Parsons.

Pull The Other One! said...

Sorry Mr. Parsons, we've already seen through The Quest for Shite.

Try peddling the book somewhere else, if you aren't just taking the piss!

AtheistToothFairy said...

C. David Parsons said...
A PARAGON OF SCIENTIFIC ACHIEVEMENT!

Wow, that takes a lot of gall to post that woo-woo trash on THIS site.

Don't worry Mr. Parsons, I'm sure you'll find enough suckers to buy your book elsewhere.

ATF (Who thinks xtians must have an unlimited quantity of straws, because they keep grabbing at them, and yet never run out)

Dave8 said...

Wow, Parsons... I wasn't aware that the "supernatural" could be so well explained, using "natural" evidence.

Seven whole books of "natural" information, and knowledge... even the "interpretation" of the electron... it's like reading palms.

In the end... the books have zero credible evidence that can be tested, to support anything "supernatural".

And, no, saying something is "supernatural" because that is a "word" you just think is appropriate, does not make it so.

Something "supernatural" is beyond "natural" interpretation... and Parsons... since you are a "natural" being, all of your interpretation, knowledge, and research is "natural" as well.

The "naturally" produced book is not evidence for anything; except the ignorance and/or deception of a publisher/writer.

Ironic, Parsons, that you are preying like a predator on the ignorance of the poor, and actually employing a "survival of the fittest" tactic... as those who are not mentally fit, will not be able to pick out the disparities in this work, that "never" once lead to a supernatural fact.

A fool and their money are soon departed, right Parsons - it would seem that such a "grand" truth, in just "seven" books, would be free to everyone if it held divine supernatural Truth.

If it is so "grand", why don't you get the "seven" books, published online, and copyright protected, so people can "really" see what deception looks like.

talos42 said...

"The atom has been compared to a miniature sun-earth system with one or more electrons darting about everywhere at once weaving an electronic shell around the nucleus. In order for this to occur, “Bohr calculated that the electron must move at a speed of no less than seven million billion rotations per second.” Ummmm, "numerous electrons darting about, dodging one another at breakneck speeds would necessarily require the supernatural."


Mr. Parsons,

If you really understood why your concept of an atom is wrong, you'd shit a brick.


Al,

If I were still arguing with idiots, I'd send them this video.

Pull The Other One! said...

Mr. Parsons, did you ever watch Sesame St. as a child?

If you did, then perhaps you might like the following game, which I hope will actually teach you something.

OK, here goes: All you have to do is look at the following four business activities, and work out which one is not quite like the others.

And here they are:

a) attempting to sell candy to young children.
b) attempting to sell cold drinks and ice-cream on a very hot day.
c) attempting to sell very strong but very cheap wine to homeless alcoholics.
d) attempting to sell creationist literature to ex-christians.

Take your time!

"One of these things is not like the others,
Three of these things are kinda the same..."

THE ACE said...

What a shocker! A former publisher
of Biblical information gives a great review to "The Quest for Right." Who woulda thunk it?

Okay Parsons, put this book before a reviewer who doesn't specialize in Biblical propaganda and see what happens.

And how the hell does the speed of
a rotating electron prove the
existance of a supernatural power?
All it proves is that it rotates
at a very high speed. I hope some
people who know about physics will
log in and give us the truth.

Sigh..Christians will never stop trying to force their pseudo-intellectual vomit on the classroom.

Ayyyypostate said...

Al,

interesting video. looks like your comments section got hijacked by the good parson, though. I'll try to re-focus it a little.

Evolution is unpopular because it is incompatible with theological creation myths. Theology is critical in holding religious communities together (ingroup vs. outgroup), and religion is very popular because it works really well for a lot things that are important to people (comfort, community, morality, the answer to the big "why?", providing meaning, etc.) Implicitly (and explicitly) they understand that evolution threatens the foundation to all this and that scares the hell out of them (pardon the pun). Once you tickle an emotional reaction, especially fear, logic jumps out the window. People stop considering information logically and dispassionately and instead make up their minds first and then retroactively manufacture justifications for what they already believe.

Evolution has been spiking our gene pool with emotionality and superstition in much heavier doses than logic for a long time (when's the last time you got laid because you impressed someone with how well logical you were?) and so "reason" faces an uphill, and unnatural, battle.

Fortunately, those are the only battles worth fighting.

xrayman said...

That Al guy rocks !!!!! Check out his youtube video page. This young fellow is just a wealth of great information.

What the hell is this Parsons guy trying to sell? It makes as much sense as one of us trying to pawn a collection porn on a Christian site. Well actually I think a lot more Christians would buy porn than exChristians would buy his bullshit.

Dave8 said...

Al,
I enjoyed your presentation, and I agree that there are surely some religious prima-phobes that just can't come to terms with their ancestry, because they believe their "past", dictates who they are "today". Religion, in many cases suggests one can not "change" their "nature" - original sin, etc.

It is that thinking that forces the more religious to refrain from accepting their evolutionary ancestry.

In short, if Christian logic, suggests that a person can't "transform" or "change" their sinful nature, due to ancestry; then they likely conclude that the same logic applies to their biological origins.

The logic, leads a Christian to conclude that they are "animals", or "primates" still, today, because... we can't "change" or "transform" - it's not possible. To accept that humans have the ability to "transform" or "change", threatens the entire logical foundations of "salvation", and doctrinal/orthodox Christianity itself.

Again, thanks for the presentation; enjoyed it.

oh really? said...

Why is evolution so unpopular?

Well, the fact that it is still an uproven theory, depending on a 'God of the gaps' hypothesis for a beginning (abiogenesis) might have something to do with it.

AtheistToothFairy said...

To: "oh really?"

Before any of us waste our time answering your comment, let us know two things.

1. That you're not just a Hit&Run xtian poster and will reply back if we answer you.

2. What type of education you have in the Theory of Evolution; outside of what your preacher has brainwashed you with on the subject.


ATF (Who doesn't feel like wasting time on this subject for this xtian, if it will only fall onto deaf ears)

Wayne said...

To Mr "Oh Really" (or is it O'Reilly - doesn't matter I guss, still just a brain washed goose-stepper)...

What most of you jewsus followers fail to realize when this whole debate comes up is that most of your kind seems to be using the word THEORY in the wrong context. You try to cheapen or dismiss the work of biologists, geologists, botanists, and every other natural scientist by shrugging it off as "just a theory", as if you're wondering which of the football team knocked up the prom queen.

There are literally THOUSANDS of TESTED and RE-TESTED facts that support evolution. Volumes that fill scientific libraries are full of the data.

Creationism gives us one source. An ancient book (actually a collection of books) that was written by people who were dumber than a modern elementary school student, compiled by powerful rulers who wanted to keep their power over the ignorant masses, an twisted and reinterpreted to fit the paradigm of the day.

Science strives to move forward, eliminate what is wrong with itself, and become clearer.

Religious dogma wants to stay put - in an air of "mystery", admit it's "divine perfection"...

So, I guess the sun still revolves around the flat earth in your book? It's just a theory....

.:webmaster:. said...

To most Christians, a theory is just a vague and fuzzy sort of fact. A theory is a conceptual framework that "explains" existing facts. For instance, today I saw the Sun rise. This is a fact. This fact is "explained" by the theory that the Earth is round and spins on its axis while orbiting the sun. This theory also explains other facts, such as the seasons and the phases of the moon, and allows me to make predictions about what will happen tomorrow in regards to the planets, etc.

In some ways the words "fact" and "theory" are interchangeable. The organization of the solar system, for instance, is explained by Newton's theory of gravity.

A hypothesis is an untested theory, a hunch or idea that in order to become a theory must be falsifiable and thoroughly tested.

A fact is a simple statement of some observation. "This water on the stove is hot." That is a fact. It requires a theory to explain "why" the water is hot and to predict if and when the water will be hot in the future. Theories explain processes in the natural world.

In religion we do not have hypothesis, theory or fact. All we have in religion is belief based on an emotional response to hearsay.

Spirula said...

WM Dave,

Hope you don't mind, but I quoted you on a thread over on "Florida Citizens for Science" blog (post "I hate to do this but..."). It's a long thread, mainly dealing with the youth minister of a PCA church that was the focus of the post. His comments and claims about evolution and adherents to the theory of evolution are appallingly ignorant and condescending. I thought you gave a nice little summary of issue and just who the other posters were dealing with, so I posted your comment from this thread.

.:webmaster:. said...

Spirula,

You're always welcome to use whatever I put on this site.

sconnor said...

I just keep this on file, then I cut and paste it for the ignorant creationist to read.

Once again your lack of knowledge and your ignorance astounds me. Science is totally based on fact. Go back to school and learn something. Facts are the world's data and scientists conduct empirical research through observation to explain the realities before them. In science "fact" can only mean "confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional consent." Science makes no claim to perpetual truth, only the religious do.
The scientific method, let's review,
1. Make an observation.
2. Make an hypothesis. This is the part you get confused; that all of science is best guesses. A hypothesis is an educated guess used to render a tentative description of what was observed.
3. Make a prediction.
4. Test those predictions with experiments or more observation.
5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until there are no discrepancies between theories and experiment.
6. Construct, formulate, support or cast doubt on a scientific theory.

SCIENTIFIC THEORY, also confuses you with the word theory.

A theory in science is not a guess, speculation, or suggestion, which is the popular definition of the word "theory." A theory, therefore, is built of reliable knowledge--built of scientific FACTS--and its purpose is to explain major natural processes or phenomena. Scientific theories explain nature by unifying many once-unrelated FACTS or corroborated hypotheses; they are the strongest and most truthful explanations of how the universe, nature, and life came to be, how they work, what they are made of, and what will become of them. Since humans are living organisms and are part of the universe, science explains all of these things about ourselves.
These scientific theories--such as the theories of relativity, quantum mechanics, thermodynamics, evolution, genetics, plate tectonics, and big bang cosmology--ARE THE MOST RELIABLE, MOST RIGOROUS, AND MOST COMPREHENSIVE FORM OF KNOWLEDGE that humans possess. Thus, it is important for every EDUCATED person to understand where scientific knowledge comes from, and how to emulate this method of gaining knowledge. Scientific knowledge comes from the practice of scientific thinking--using the scientific method--and this mode of discovering and validating knowledge can be duplicated and achieved by anyone who practices critical thinking. -- Steven Schafersman

--S.

Wayne said...

sconnor - If you don't mind, I'm going to steal that. Great stuff for intellectual ammo!

sconnor said...

It's up for grabs, for all.

--S.

Albert said...

Hello, people of exchristian.net! I didn't realize that a copy of this video was reposted here. I've enjoyed the comments (excluding the obvious spam) and would like to encourage you copying and distributing my other videos.

If you want to see my other videos, writings, and work, my website and blog are at http://coffeeghost.net

Thanks for the feedback!

stronger now said...

Love your videos Albert. Keep 'em coming!