Evolution is NOT A Theory. Period.

I’ll say it again.

Evolution is not a theory.

Evolution is something we know happened. We see it happen in nature even now, with creatures like cichlids in Lake Malawi, who speciate unusually rapidly. We see plenty of evidence for it in the fossil record. Anyone who spends any amount of time looking at the world around them will sense the genius in Darwin’s simple, elegant, and brilliant insight of how the world came to be as it is now.

The claim that Darwinism is in trouble is to claim there is the crisis to cover one’s own ignorance, and to use the claim of a crisis as an excuse not to study science enough to make up one’s own mind.

Nowhere in Christian theology is there a claim that deception, parlor tricks, or other silliness explains the unexplained. If the religious specialists of 33 A.D. were willing to engage in deception, chicanery, and manipulation of people’s ignorance, what makes you think our religious specialists can be trusted more?

A telling sign is that almost all reputable scientists agree that evolution occurred. They may, and often strongly do, disagree on the very specifics of the mechanics of evolution, but they all agree that it happened. That’s why, when people talk about “theory of evolution”, they’re generally misstating the case. There are varying theories about the mechanics of evolution, but pretty much anyone worth anything in science agrees that evolution itself is a fact of history.

Meanwhile, ranging from theory-less reflexive evolution deniers on one hand and all-out creationism on the other, to ID (Intelligent Design) theorists, to the rather Chardinian position of the Catholic Church, within Christianity there are a startling range of positions, from those who claim evolution is an atheist lie to those who claim that evolution shows clear evidence the brilliant mind of The Creator and Its plans for humanity.

What’s that you say? This or that group (whom you happen to disagree with) aren’t really Christians? Or aren’t sensible Christians? May I ask where you draw the line? After all, by the standards of the Thessalonians or the Corinthians or the Romans of Paul’s time, it’s far more likely than not that you’re living a lifestyle that makes it likelier for a camel to get through a needle’s eye than for you get into heaven. To imagine your standard for what makes a Christian is to engage in, yes, that’s right, sinful Pride. To arrogantly decide that one’s own theological and personal predilections actually line up perfectly with reality, and decribe the nature of the universe, in the face of a huge amount of theory to the contrary, is to engage in a shocking amount of what Christians rightly call sinful Pride. It’s really a kind of attempt to master one’s universe and that universe’s Maker, as well.

That’s why it is Prideful to deny evolution… after all, I have never met someone who actually understood Darwinism to a respectable degree who rejected it. I’ve seen it rejected as a badge of faith, but that makes little sense. It makes as much sense a rejecting the existence of squirrels as an act of faith… because, damn it, there are squirrels out there. If you live in Siberia, you may never see a squirrel, of course. But it doesn’t mean they’re not out there. To decide all people who claim to know of where squirrels can be seen are liars, without even listening to them, isn’t an act of faith. It’s just foolishness.

Nature is very slow. We’re all living in Siberia when it comes to evolution, yes, that’s true. Because we think on a very small, human scale. But if you use the intelligence you were born with, the eyes you were (according to your belief system) given for the purposes of seeing the world around you, and the imagination which was your most sacred inborn power, you will find a stunning, complex, intricate world around you, one in which you could probably see far better the reflection of the creator than the world you imagine around you with it’s drab magic tricks and parlor-trick bones in the earth.

But hey, don’t take it from a heathen like me. Here’s Kenneth Miller (a Darwinian scientist and Christian), in his book, Finding Darwin’s God.

Evolution may explain the existence of our most basic biological drives and desires but that does not tell us that it is always proper to act on them…. Those who ask from science a final argument, an ultimate proof, an unassailable position from which the issue of God may be decided will always be disappointed. As a scientist I claim no new proofs, no revolutionary data, no stunning insight into nature that can tip the balance in one direction or another. But I do claim that to a believer, even in the most traditional sense, evolutionary biology is not at all the obstacle we often believe it to be. In many respects evolution is the key to understanding our relationship with God.

Oh, and if you’re like to read the article that got me started, click this.

5 thoughts on “Evolution is NOT A Theory. Period.

  1. i do love the smell of rationality in the morning ;-)

    the writer of the piece in the ‘boiled potater’ bases their argument on glaring generalisations about what Darwin’s theory actually does and does not claim. Truth be told I read it over fifteen years ago and so my understanding may be a little foggy, but that her claim-

    “The whole point of natural selection is that it denies that acquired characteristics can be inherited. According to modern Darwinism, new species are created by a purposeless, random process of genetic mutation.”

    is almost facetious in it’s disregrd for the Darwins thoughts. At no point, as far as i recall, does Darwinism state that the inheritability of species specific traits is not a factor in evolution. what it does claim is that changes even on a small scale in the milieu a species inherits and inhabits can negate the efficacy of previous adaptations, thereby in the best case returning a species to a previous unadapted niche or at worst placing the species in an extinction cycle. given, as you say, the time frames evolution works over many species will be placed within extinction cycles.

    another thing darwinism doesn’t state is the ‘random process genetic mutation’. darwin’s understanding of genetics was non-existent considering that genetics as a science (as opposed to animal breeding tool) did not exist. what darwinism does posit is that species specific adaptations can result as a successful adaptation to an environment over short periods of time – giving a resultant “where the hell did that come from” picture of random evolution. recent ideas with regard to aptation take care of where question (why is another kettle of bananas).
    the developement of speech in hominids has been linked to aptation; with regard to the voice box present in species at a time when current thinking believes that symbolic thinking and the concept of a future events were not present in the hominid stock. came in handy when we needed it ;-)

    darwin was well aware of the paucity of evidence in the fossil record for certain periods and events but found it and the study of embryonic developement an important evidenciary base fop his theories. his studies of various species (Origin of the Species is 20 volumes in total) are the real backbone of darwinism and carry a massive evidenciary weight.

    the use of ‘new species are created by a purposeless, random process’ is particularly asinine. who ever said their had to be purpose or that randomness shouldn’t feature in evolution. new species are not created, that’s the bloody point, they evolve. if you’re looking for a defence against purposeless and random then look no further than evolution, irony of ironies is that the sheer magnitude of the developement of life on the planet is a testament to purpose.
    life will out, choice is not an option for any species (i would even risk stating that this is so even for homo sapiens) when it comes to continuing evolution.

  2. Hi, I stumbled upon your site due to blogsnob jumping. I must say, I’m really interested in this post.

    However, one thing I’d like to point out: Evolution is a theory. It is a theory because nothing in science can be proven, only supported. Similarly, gravity is (only) a theory. The problem is that laymen don’t understand what “theory” means. Usually, when I point out that gravity is a theory, it drives home the “no this isn’t a theory like what you come up with to get your teacher off your case in english class but something with some research behind it” point.

    Also, it was Wallace, not Darwin, who first came up with survival and reproduction of the fittest. The only problem is that Wallace was too scared of what his colleagues would think of him posting something that flew so obviously in the face of common thought (ID) at the time. So instead he wrote up his work, with an instruction to submit it for publication upon his death. He died at the same time that Darwin submitted his manuscript. It is actually considered the Darwin-Wallace theory of evolution.

    Other than that, I completely agree with what you’ve said. And I’m a scientist to boot.

  3. Thanks, TheINfamousJ. You’re right that science is all about theories, but the problem is exactly what you state: that laypersons don’t know what theory means. I think that out here in the world of laypersons (for I am one myself) it’s gotten so bad that we need to find some way of differentiating between scientific theory and personal opinion.

    By the way, as an English major I can say we also have theories of the kind you scientists mean, in the English classroom: serious suggestions that rely upon a lot of research and intuition built upon years of checking out others’ theories for ourselves… but they’re always more tentative because testing out a theory is difficult in the humanities. Not impossible, I’d say, but difficult. Would you say the testability flaw is bad enough to be fatal to the humanities’ right to use the word “theory”? I’m just curious. I’ll try email you and see.

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