Don’t believe in magic: believe in miracles, dummy!
As many of you know, I’m a staunch supporter of the science of evolution. Although it’s a powerful yet simple idea, for many religious people, it’s simply the most damning and damaging idea ever conceived. Despite the fact even the Papacy has finally and reluctantly agreed it does indeed exist, it doesn’t stop people who have zero idea about how evolution works to deny it.
I’ve read many articles and blogs of these ‘deniers’, but today I had the pleasure of finding a rather eloquent and educated creationist living only a few hours from me here in good old Montreal (she is from the place all Montrealers disdain: Toronto). She’s apparently a journalist, and from her style of writing, I can tell she’s competent. However, it is obvious her field of expertise is not science, as she proclaims natural selection is akin to some form of magic; magic she says she simply refuses to believe in.
Now, people who live in glass houses should not be playing with bricks, and if anyone who claims to believe water can be turned into wine, or the blind healed, or a virgin give birth, then there is obviously an innate part of her that actually CAN believe in magic. Luckily, even this is not needed to trust that evolution is in fact a sound theory.
Her biggest pet peeve is of course the peppered moth. Yes, this old chestnut always comes to bite us in the ass, but it seems men and women looking for proof science is fraudulent can find only a few examples to cherish. The only actual controversy regarding the peppered moth involved pictures that were unfortunately staged. However, the underlying theory, that darker moths had a selective advantage during the Industrial Revolution due mostly to the soot in the air , is still sound. Ironically, as England has cleaned up their emissions, the instances of completely black peppered moths have drastically reduced, showing once again the theory itself is sound.
Of course, that’s simply not enough for some people. They want more. They want the smoking gun, the final proof that will prove beyond a shadow of a doubt evolution is true. But is this really genuine effort on their part, or will they be unsatisfied no matter how many converging lines of evidence they are shown? People who deny evolution seem uninterested in genetics, one of the biggest proofs evolution does indeed happen. Geological records also support evolution, as older species are found in successive layers of the earth’s crust. So gargantuan is this evidence that any reasonably open minded and educated individual can easily make the necessary connection and trust the information they are receiving is genuine.
This is what most creationists seem unable to do. They simply do not trust that the millions of people working to refine the Theory of Evolution are being truthful. They assume a giant fraud is taking place, and every individual who believes this is misguided. However, if they simply put themselves in the shoes of other human beings, they would realize a fraud of this magnitude is impossible. We are skeptical by nature. For so many individuals, each with different beliefs and backgrounds, to come to understand and uncover the mystery of evolution is an indication of the power and logic of the idea. Unlike other ‘belief systems’, science places rigorous focus on evidence rather than faith. Any individual is invited to try and disprove even the soundest theories. There is much to gain from being able to produce a consistent and truer explanation on the diversity of life on the planet. Yet, the evidence continues to support an idea that seems almost too simple to be true: that organisms change due to selective pressures of the environment, and isolated groups changed so drastically over a large period of time that they lost the ability to breed with their organisms that shared a common ancestor.
If this person is sincerely interested in learning more about how evolution works, then there are a number of books I could recommend. However, I am under the impression her conclusions have already been decided. It is this level of close mindedness that reminds me not every human being is interested in the truth, but rather in simple platitudes that give them a sense of purpose. If evolution seems cold and cruel to you, then you are not wrong in your assumption. Nature is indeed these things. But human beings, themselves part of that process, are able to move beyond it. Agriculture, domesticated animals, and antibiotics are all inventions that stem from our ability to manipulate and change the rules of the game. We are a product of the cruel forces of nature, but it does not mean we cannot rise above them.