Friday, October 14, 2011

Evolution vs. Creationism

Welcome all, to our second point-counterpoint debate here on The Public Unintellectuals. As soon as Caowinhim and I can work out our professional differences, we hope to make these debates a weekly thing. Actually, if we did somehow resolve our deeply rooted disagreements, the debates would probably cease to exist at all. Huh.

Make of that what you will guys, but I just hope you enjoy reading this week's installment, which Caowin has generously allowed me to lead-off: Evolution versus Creationism.

-&-

Y. S. Rice's Point

I'm certain that many of you can empathise with me; if not because of any actual similarity between yourselves and me, then at least because I'm far more agreeable than the other local alternative (Caowin). That's why it is with great sorrow that I am probably going to alienate a portion of my potential fanbase. Sorry, to those religious few out there who support my crusade against my colleague's rape-tastic writing tendencies, but I am a strong believer in evolution. For the less religious of you out there, and even for some of the plenty religious of you, that's a fine thing for me to say... But I know that for some of you, this may be somewhat controversial. Therefore I am going to tread lightly as possible, and be very delicate with this matter.

About this delicate.
No, seriously. As I have previously stated, I am genuinely a theist: an agnostic theist with Jewish cultural leanings, to be precise. However, there are few things that annoy me more than people who believe anything blindly and unquestioningly. That's one of the reasons that I love my birth-faith, in fact - Judaism is all about asking "Why?" over and over again until you get to the basic premise that "God did it, somehow" when the question can't be answered any more.

"Hang on! Isn't that what creationism is?"

No. There is a logical alternative to "God did it, somehow" with regards to life on this planet. And, better yet, there is a logical alternative to "God did it, somehow" when it comes to how life got exactly the way it was today: e-v-o-l-u-t-i-o-n. The problem that most organised religions have with this matter is that God is usually said to have created us in his image, and God is very rarely pictured as a primate.

It has been known to happen though.
The biggest problem with this problem is that such people almost universally misunderstand what evolution is actually saying. I've read Darwin, and further writing on the subject too, and nowhere does it say that humans 'descended from apes/monkeys'. Seriously - not once. What does it say? That we are related to apes. Biiiiig distinction there. According to the theory of evolution, we share a common proto-human-ape ancestor, and are not actually descended from the apes themselves... They are a completely separate branch of our humanoid tree. That also shoots down the common 'If we're descended from monkeys/apes, why are monkeys/apes still around' manoeuvre - one that I like to call the 'I don't understand a damn thing I'm talking about' manoeuvre. What's more... What's wrong with God being a monkey? Or even an amoeba? According to most faiths, he's meant to be unfathomable, which means that he can't be completely human-like. Heck, a lot of religions play with the idea that if you actually saw God's visage, you would die or be driven mad - which makes him sound a lot more like Cthulhu-shaped than person-shaped, in my humble opinion.

Could this be your God?
Religion says maybe.
Now that we've set the facts straight, let's dive straight into the next big issue regarding the theory of evolution: namely that it is the theory of evolution. Alright guys, listen up. Do you want to know some other things that are called theories? How about that wacky atomic theory? Or the even more ludicrous valence bond theory? Those two theories are the only scientific reason that we have paper to print Bibles on. Oh, but it's not just chemistry that has 'theories' that are generally regarded as pure fact: do any of you disbelieve plate tectonics? If you do, then congrats! Earthquakes are a lie to you.

The fact of the matter is that you can't just say "I have a theory guys! What if humans are actually made of chocolate, and we have gumdrop brains?" and call it a theory. There is a cold, scientific, tried and true method to these things. The actual definition of a theory, according to Google definitions is:
A supposition or a system of ideas intended to explain something, esp. one based on general principles independent of the thing to be.
Yes, that is saying that you need to have scientific basis for a theory that is independent the issue itself - in other words, you need to have some sort of basis and/or precedent before you can make a theory. The only difference between a theory and a law is that a law has been irrefutably proven, while a theory is still in the testing phase of the scientific method. Yes, many theories have been disproved, but that doesn't mean that this one isn't completely and totally true. It's just more difficult to prove than the fact that things fall (which also used to be a theory). I mean, come on! Evolution is something that happens over millions of years, and is so slight that you can't even tell if it's going on or not! It must be impossible to prove, right?

Wrong.

While a part of a different and not fully understood genetic phenomenon, the rapid differentiation of different breeds of dogs bears an impossibly attractive similarity to evolution. We aren't even sure how on Earth humans thought to domesticate freakin' wolves, but it started at most 32,000 years ago, and was definitely going on 9,000 years. Yeah, that's not quite millions of years, but that's far too long for any one human to observe changes in the species as a whole, right? Right! Except that new breeds are being created every year, and even the 14 scientifically most ancient dog breeds don't really date past antiquity. God didn't create them that way.

Yes, you're incredibly adorable.
No, God didn't make you. Yes, cry. Cry.
What more can I say, really? Those of you out there who didn't believe me before probably don't believe me now, and those of you who did almost surely still do. There really isn't anything.... Except some closing facts:
  • Darwin believed very much in God (ask Google, Wikipedia, his biographies, et al), and had in fact studied to be a priest for the Church of England.
    • Any source saying otherwise is hilariously misinformed - nobody has ever told me that Darwin recanted evolution on his deathbed, as the article claims his supporters claimed he did, and after a a couple of minutes of research... I can confirm that he didn't. Duh.
  • He also didn't invent either the idea of evolution (that was Pierre-Louis Moreau de Maupertuis) nor 'survival of the fittest' (and that was Herbert Spencer - trivia show QI backs this up).
  • The Theory of Evolution was not controversial at the time. Again, QI supports this, as well as a little bit of biographical knowledge. The Church of England had just about nothing to say about the theory at the time, and Darwin pissed off Britain so very, very much that... They put him on their ten pound note.
Not many currencies feature the Antichrist on their money.
Some of you were probably expecting me to bash the Bible or something; alas, I will not lower myself to that level. I believe that the Bible, while not a factual book on any level, holds a lot of good answers. Some of the best people I know are honest Christians/Jews/Muslims, and, put simply: whoever did write the Bible must have done something right for it to have existed for about 3000-4000 years. Very few books pre-date it, and I wouldn't doubt that there were even fewer that you could name. So shut up, you feckin' Bible haters. The Bible's a good book (some might say, The Good Book), but it might not be the best scientific textbook. Don't be from Alabama - do consider evolution a strong maybe.

-&-

Caowin's Counterpoint

I have a lot of problems with the Bible. First of all, it’s really long. I mean, it’s not quite as long as the Rig Vedas, the Hindu religious canon that is like thousands of Bibles, but it’s longer than, say, an Oscar Wilde aphorism. I mean, how come Gods needs pages upon pages to explain his point, while Oscar Wilde can get loads of meaning into cute little sayings like “Beauty is the wonder of wonders. It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances.”

With that in mind, I do appreciate some things about the Bible. For example, it really simplifies things when it comes to understanding the universe. Now, you might think "Yair just gave a great, simple explanation of evolution." But look at it this way: he spelled maneuver as "manoeuvre." How simple could this guy be?

I mean, look it up. The evolution of the brain, bird, and even the friggin eye are really hard to understand. I mean, click those links. They use loads of big words. HUGE ones. I mean, don't they know I just had to put up with Yair using "manoeuvre" like some kind of homo?

Second, we have to consider the sources of the information. Creationism, as most people know, was first discovered by Jesus, when he was doing a middle-school science experiment called "Did my Daddy create all the creatures of the earth?" Jesus was a really cool guy too - who wouldn't want to hang out with a guy that could turn water into wine?

And who's pushing evolution? Y. S. Rice and Charles Darwin. What do those bastards have in common? They're both from England. Yeah, that's right. Those people with bad teeth and pompous accents and that fat old Queen lady are the same ones saying we're descended from monkeys. Clearly they are projecting their insecurities about their apelike tendencies onto the entire human race, the same way someone with a tiny penis will insist that five and a half inches is average.

But on a more pragmatic note, if we start questioning the Bible's scientific ideas, does that mean we have to question its moral ideas too? I mean, in 2 Kings 2:23-25, God kills 42 children for calling a guy bald. Deuteronomy 21:10-14 tells us how to rape and humiliate the women of a country you beat in war. The point of the entire New Testament is that God would only forgive the world for all the evil stuff they do if they brutally murdered his son. If we question the Bible, we might realize how ridiculous it is!

And so, for these reasons, we must reject the lie that is evolution. Not only because it's hard to understand and obnoxiously English, but because questioning the Bible is bad. So go out there and make the right choice.

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