I look with some amusement at the “debate” raging in my last post between Reginald and Mike. Mike is an expert at wordplay, and I find him frankly not worth arguing with. He is not nearly as dumb as some YECs (Young Earth Creationists), but his reason is by nature flawed under the incredible weight of the very, very obvious. I won’t bother really to argue with him, as he quibbles over the color of the flowers in the forest, somehow managing to ignore the trees that exist all around him. The evidence for evolution has long been irrefutable, and our understanding of it and the gaps within it seem (to my untrained brain) seem to be increasing and filling exponentially.
I, myself, have just undergone an epiphany of sorts, having finally having it beat into my head that man-caused global warming is very much a reality. I was, for many years, deceived. I put too much trust in people pretending to be scientists and pretending to use the scientific method. I was a big proponent of the “Junk Science” website, and, considering myself reasonably scientifically literate, I actually believed the bullshit they slung there. I guess I am prepared to recognize ignorance, or even deception when one is motivated by faith or by “higher” goals. However, I was unprepared to deal with people who deliberately take good science and distort it, or out-and-out lie about it, for such a base reason. I was naive enough about humanity to believe that no one would put the entire planet at risk for the sake of a few extra dollars in their pocket. They are being deliberately deceptive, and the only motivation I can see for them to be this way is pure greed. If their motivation lies in another direction, I am unable to imagine what it could be. Lying for the sake of religion can be argued as simple ignorance (most of the time). Lying for the sake of greed, particularly on such an important topic as the earth’s climate, goes beyond loathsome.
Back to developments in biology, Ida is a somewhat significant find, but it is exceptional only in its completeness…it is an exquisitely preserved specimen that fills in a gap in the fossil record, but not nearly as critical a gap as my previous entry implied. (see this video link, which puts Ida into the correct perspective far better than I possibly could.) Reginald’s fossil is more interesting from a human family tree perspective.
Even more important with still insignificant media attention was the synthesis of a critical part of DNA in the laboratory using conditions present on early earth. A part of the RNA molecule has been created in a laboratory. That such a complex molecule could be synthesized from “simple” organic chemicals really goes a long way to smashing many creationist arguments to bits. Not that they will ever acknowledge it as such, however. Life from non-life (abiogenesis) has absolutely nothing to do with evolution, but they have been lumped together in the mind of those who don’t understand the science. Without knowledge of the science behind it, evolution does seem to imply the abiogenesis.
The arguments will merely shift to a new gap, of course. We may, with time, be able to create a functioning cyanobacteria within a test-tube, but I personally doubt that we will be able to go beyond that. The earth itself took billions of years to get beyond that step, so my unscientific guess would be that the next step is far more difficult. A cyanobacteria is still a long way away, and also is still a long way away from a living animal. It really doesn’t matter. No amount of evidence can convince one who refuses to be convinced. Nothing is provable beyond unreasonable doubt.
Thus, the battle for the world’s “soul” will rage on. The forces of cultural evolution will continue to shape the battle. Reason will force those with something to lose from truth to battle against it more furiously. In order to survive in a world where truth would destroy them, the fundamentalist will have to deny reality even more vigorously. If this were simply a matter of reason I would have some reason to hope that the YECs would eventually change their mind. However, we are dealing with a mindset that believes that a book written by the hands of men is more to be trusted than reality itself. The more successful the reasonable, the more destructive the unreasonable will have to become in order to maintain their world view. When arguments work less and less, violence, the last resort of the ignorant, is likely to become more prominent. It is only through the blind following of an inflexible philosophy that one man can turn another into a demon. The man without dogma has no reason to fly a plane into a building. A man who refuses to think is easy pray for someone or some thing that has motive to do their thinking for them.
For a while I was feeling guilty with my obsession with religion and creationism, but I’ve come to realize that it really is nothing new. My first book was going to be about religion. My first fiction novel with have strong religious elements (coming at it from a decidedly non-Christian perspective, however.)
So, I post without apologies. This is who I am. Enjoy, if you can. :)