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Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Evolutionary Theory I: Why is it so Popular?

Not Without Some Reason
A recent e-mail  ridiculed evolutionary theory and dismissed it with a joke. But we ought to be more serious and  ask why it is believed so widely. We can't see the weaknesses and fatal flaws of evolution until we understand it. In a future blog I will explain what I see as evolution's fatal flaws, but in this blog, I try to understand its wide appeal......

But what is evolution?

Unbeknown to many, evolution is the dominant integrating principle in all university historical science (the science of the past) from physics to biology. At base it says that everything in the cosmos can be explained according to physical principles at work today - without the intervention of God. Given chance and natural law, this universe will gradually develop and appear.

So when you ask, Where does the universe itself come from?, evolutionary theory is the explanation: slight instabilities in the Big Bang led to the natural development of stars and galaxies. Where do planets come from? Clouds of dust around new stars accreted to form planets.Where did life come from? Molecules got together to form the first primitive cell; cells in turn clubbed together to form the first multi-cellular organism and so on and so forth.

Here are some reasons evolutionary theories are so widely held....

Reason #1: The human mind needs an integrating principle
We have amazing minds which refuse to leave any sea of facts uncoordinated. We simply can't collect data  without asking the question, How does A relate to B and C? We do this with people, for example: we take the things they say and do and use this data to work them out, we do this to families, communities and nations. Every subject you study at university, involves some attempt to correlate otherwise disparate facts.

Reason #2: Scientists need an integrating Principle
Scientists are no different. They want to know how this fossil relates to that one, this rock to that one, this star to that one, this galaxy to that one,  and then up the explanatory tree, how this theory relates to that theory. The theories of evolution provide such an integrating principle and this satisfies the human mind of the scientist.

Reason #3: Evolutionary Theory Has Explantory Power
Evolutionary theory appears on the surface to possess explanatory power. Where it draws this power from is another quetsion. I'll work this out further in a future blog, but there is an almost sinister parallel between evolutionary theory and creation theory. I would argue that evolutionary theory draws its explanatory power by being pseudo-correct. I am thinking of biological evolution here which teaches that common features point to a common ancestor. Take one example: the fact that so may animal limbs are based on the pentadactyl (five part) structure (wings, forearms, legs, etc, all have five components, see fig.) points to a distant common source, they say. But there is another explanation: similar features could equally be explained by a common designer. One Mind instead of 'reinventing the wheel' simply tweaks it in a multitude of directions to produce a leg here, a wing there. Amazing ingenuity, remarkable economy. Common Designer is just as sensible an explanation as Common Descent. Perhaps evolutionary theory draws its explanatory power by providing a false explanation of a true phenomenon.

Reason #4: The human soul needs a Creation Myth
Much deeper than all of this, the human soul needs a Creation Myth - I mean by that some Big Story in which it can locate itself and make sense of the cosmos and world. Since we live in a scientific age, it is no surprise that our culture has created a scientific creation myth.

Reason #5: Evolutionary theory is the only option available to an unbelieving mind
Scientists do not generally abandon one theory until a better alternative is available. But in the case of evolution, due to the false constraints some scientists place on science, there is no other theory available, and hence scientists will never give it up. Evolution is accepted simply because there is no other alternative. This mode of thinking in any other field would be regarded as dangerous - that a theory is doggedly pursued and no other alternatives are considered. Why is no other theory possible? Many scientists believe (against the founders of western science) that divine intervention renders a theory nonscientific. And thus the only alternative to evolution is ruled out before it has any chance even to be thought about or tested.

Reason #6: More effort has been expended shoe-horning the data to fit evolution
As a consequence of Reason #5, most of the energy of scientists has been spent attempting to squeeze the data to fit the theory of evolution. If that much energy had been expended on The Alternative, evolution would long be dead and buried.

For these six reasons, evolutionary theories remain the dominant explanation of origins.

The real reason some scientists will not consider The Alternative is that it involves a God. According to Paul we suppress the knowledge of God. According to Jesus people prefer darkness to light, because their deeds are evil. 

And the tragic human outcome of evolutionary theories is sheer and utter hopelessness. We discover a vast discrepancy between the inevitable philosophy of life which flows out of evolutionary theory (that in the end we are the aimless and pointless products of time+chance) and the longings of our hearts, which tell us there must be meaning and significance to life. 

We all long for meaning and significance (X factor reveals that, if nothing more). Where does this longing come from if evolutionary theories are true?

We'll talk again.....

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