Evolution – Interesting but Unsturdy

I have been hearing a little murmur about Ben Stein’s new film Expelled (due out in Feb 2008). The movie is quite simply about the problems a few scientists who question evolution are facing at this point in time – from their own colleagues. Basically, if what Ben says is true – I cannot support that type of mentality – it’s too harsh (namely to take away one’s livelihood because he questions you). But this is the claim of the movie.

That has got me thinking about something – can science be connected to ideology? I look at some of the claims of evolution and wonder that at times. Take for example, we all come from nothing – that random chance explosion that created the conditions for life to exist here. Or that, we evolved from ape’s (an animal we put in zoo’s). I think some of this leads us down a path of human meaninglessness.

Stein is claiming, or so it would seem on his site, that the holocaust was aided by the existence of the ideologies of Darwinism. I am not sure (history needs to define this) but I can see some of the rationale. If Hitler thought we were ‘animals’ and could be treated like such – then he might feel justified in wiping some of the species out for the benefit of another more evolved species (ie: survival of the fittest to some extreme). I mean, looking now in retrospect at Hitler’s actions – why did he do what he did to 6 million Jewish people? What reasoning did he use? God? No God? Humans as ‘less than’?

But for me, this is the problem with evolution on some ideological level (I know we can all say it’s not supposed to be used that way). Ideologically I think it opens the mind to possibilities about humanity that can truly de-value it. If I come from nothing – what does that make me in the end of the day? And under who’s authority am I now ‘something’? I am an animal, I am a species, what makes me special? Am I even special? And if I am not special, can I be hunted for food? Can I be caged?

It’s truly problematic (the ideology part) and if the science community thinks it does not matter then they are far too removed from reality altogether. You see the things science can discover and un-earth, well, we humans use that stuff in our societies for both our betterment (ex: medicine) or for the worse (ex: pollution). Humans are governed by ideology in all societies on this planet – whether that’s gov’t, tribal, or religious law systems – nonetheless – they are paradigms of society. Science is filtered through that lense – and enters the ‘ethical realm’ of reality.

Nuclear energy reminds me of a vicious dog we can own. It can be your ‘best friend’ or your ‘worst enemy’ – but what it does need is direction. I see this with science in general once it enters our living reality. Evolution is not exempt from the backlash it can cause by stating categorically ‘humans come from chance’ – since humans have to decipher what the ‘hell’ that means. Now some might find meaning in that and others might find despair in that – but it means something to everyone. Dahmer went on the record to state that he committed his atrocities because he could view humans as animals via evolution – he might be crazy mind you – but that was his way of internalizing this view (sound a little like Hitler?).

I think it is plausible we came from something – I am not a scientist – but I live in the real world. Evolution, whether we like this or not, does create an ideology in some people’s minds and usually it errs on the side of hopelessness…it’s like telling someone ‘we never loved you’ and pretending all will be rosey – it’s that kind of despair for some. Plus I have a tough time believing I came from an ape (or chimp), or the idea of ‘survival of the fittest’, or we came from ‘nothing’…it just all smacks of ‘not real’ compared to human realities I face each day (and have for 32 years).

Basically, if evolution is 100% true as a science (and ideology) then life will lose its meaning at some point and society – instead of getting better – will get worse. This is not a prediction based on nothing – but based on the human experience.

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12 thoughts on “Evolution – Interesting but Unsturdy

  1. Two things:

    ** Take for example, we all come from nothing – that random chance explosion that created the conditions for life to exist here. Or that, we evolved from ape’s (an animal we put in zoo’s). **

    My understanding is that evolution does not deal with something coming from nothing — that is abiogenesis, the origin of life. I believe (not in a faith way, but based on my understanding of how evolution works) evolution does deal with something coming from something, in terms of one form evolving from a prior form. Like certain land forms evolving from sea life forms. Second, it doesn’t say that we evolved from apes, like what we see in zoos. It says that humans and apes have a common ancestor. One branch from that ancestor became humans, the other became apes. We wouldn’t point to a monkey at a zoo and say that’s where we came from. Rather, it would be more like examining both primates and humans to get an idea of what the common ancestor was like. I know this isn’t the thrust of your argument, but I have friends who are familiar with the concept, and this is something they commonly refute.

    I actually don’t have difficulty accepting in a link between humans and apes. There are a lot of similarities between the two, and not just physically. If stripped to a pure survival mode, humans are quite capable of behaving like animals, operating on pure instinct. Apes and such do seem capable of displaying behavior we might find in a human. There was a story a while back of a boy who fell into a Gorilla cage, and a female Gorilla rushed over, protected him, and took him to the door where the zookeppers entered, essentially saving his life. And I think genetically it’s around 97% the same or similar between the two?

    **if evolution is 100% true as a science (and ideology) then life will lose its meaning at some point and society – instead of getting better – will get worse**

    But it sounds like you’re saying if the concept of us coming from absolutely nothing is true, then life will lose it’s meaning. Would you still find that true if we evolved from the common ancestor?. It also sounds like you’re saying this in a purely naturalistic sense. Would you feel the same if evolution had divine guidance behind it? Because I do know there are many Christians who accept both a Creator and evolution.

    **Dahmer went on the record to state that he committed his atrocities because he could view humans as animals via evolution – he might be crazy mind you – but that was his way of internalizing this view (sound a little like Hitler?).**

    To recap: Dahmer felt it was okay to do what he did because humans were nothing more than animals. Correct? If so, that wouldn’t say much about his treatment of animals, either. A lot of people were outraged about that one sports figure who had participated in dog fighting, for they found it cruel. I think many would find it morally wrong to mistreat animals, and so to say that humans were nothing more than animals wouldn’t lead to someone caging up a person like a dog, or mutilating animals.

  2. Our DNA may be 97% identical to another primate, but I hope you will recognise the huge difference in our spiritual and intellectual qualities. I don’t give any credit to the theory of evolution. There are too many holes. Here are two that most can understand without scientific knowledge;

    – I haven’t been shown how it is natural for life forms to advance in complexity.
    – So many things would have to happen in just the right order (many would need to be developed at the the same time) to produce the interdependant cycles of nature.

    Our Bible is not a science book but it does give us some science truths. The flood actually accounts for a lot of the fossil records better than millions of years of slow change. There is plenty of science that proves certain truths of biblical record, yet there is nothing science can point to and say for sure this world is more than 10,000 years old.

  3. Modern day evolution is more ideology than science. That is what Ben Stein’s movie will reveal. Evolution was good science in its day but 150 years of an exponentially growing bank of information has quite frankly kicked its butt.

    1) Ken said I haven’t been shown how it is natural for life forms to advance in complexity. Don’t hold your breath. The Cambrian explosion – note the phylla didn’t evolve slowly over time as predicted – shows great complexity all at once. Now there as always were simpler creatures – not remotely like the simple “gemules” of Darwin -there is no evidence that they “evolved into more complex creatures. This would require an increase in information in the genome. What did Richard dawkins have to say about this? Click here to find out. Warning: do not drink hot coffee while watching his…response. It’s hysterical.

    2) OSS said My understanding is that evolution does not deal with something coming from nothing — that is abiogenesis, the origin of life.
    Actually this is macroevolution, and yes many evolutionists hold to this idea….still. Abiogenesis per Dictionary.com means “the now discredited theory that living organisms can arise spontaneously from inanimate matter; spontaneous generation.” In my public school (late 70s) I was taught that the earth was a primordial soup and the first living cell came from lightning striking it – the Frankencell theory. Note that was the late 19 – 70s.

    3) Ken wrote Our DNA may be 97% identical to another primate, but I hope you will recognise the huge difference in our spiritual and intellectual qualities. That’s actually been debunked – the last tally had it at 85%. An old scientific method called “DNA hybridization” produced these “facts” but now has been discredited as crude and archaic. Any degree of separation in the genome is immense BTW. We still have no idea what the vast majority of the DNA is even for. There is more and more evidence pointing to “front-loaded” DNA – like having a back of tricks from the beginning that will help critters adapt to a changing environment.
    There are two links on my site you should check out and link to regularly; one is ID Weblog with William Dembski under “Blogs I Read” and the other is “Richard Feynman on Real Scientific Method” under “Required Reading”. Between that website and the 1974 classic speech I’ve been helped greatly in understanding where science really is today on the subject of origins.

  4. SocietyVs,

    What books have you read by scientists supporting evolution against creationist claims? Do you know the arguments made for evolution? For example, do you know how long the Cambrian Explosion occurred, and why using the term “all at once” when referring to it is a complete misnomer?

    And why evolution says absolutely nothing about “something from nothing” or “humans came from chance” as well as the problems of using the term “random chance explosion?” (And by-the-way, natural abiogenesis says nothing about “something from nothing” as well. Even Big Bang is not something from nothing. Although if I recall, there are quantum which seem to appear out of nothing which may be “something from nothing” but do your own research on that one.)

    SocietyVs: Plus I have a tough time believing I came from an ape (or chimp), or the idea of ’survival of the fittest’, or we came from ‘nothing’…it just all smacks of ’not real’ compared to human realities I face each day (and have for 32 years).

    *shrug* “Preference” does not mean what the evidence demonstrates. I would “prefer” to think of myself as physically fit. My scales and body fat percentage betray me.

    I don’t normally engage in the evolution debate as I am not remotely qualified to do so. I just wish if we ARE going to talk about it, talk about it as the other side actually presents it.

    Again, what books have you read by scientists supporting evolution against creationist claims?

  5. Ken,

    **Our DNA may be 97% identical to another primate, but I hope you will recognise the huge difference in our spiritual and intellectual qualities**

    Most days, I do. Then I look at some pictures of angry mobs, and wonder, because with some faces, if you replace the angry human with an angry ape, the similarity can be chilling.

    Jim,

    **Actually this is macroevolution, and yes many evolutionists hold to this idea….still. **

    But simply because biologists feel that something has come from nothing does not mean that’s what they used to define evolution. Evolution really simply deals with change, and microevolution is when the change occurs within one species, and macroevolution is more of something that occurs in a bigger format, such as one species splitting into two, or one species changing over time into another. Based on those, that still means that one species comes from another species in some format. Even the word itself doesn’t support “something coming from nothing.” Evolution is about the change of species, dealing with common descent and so forth. The “macro” and “micro” deal define what types of changes biologists are dealing with. It wasn’t mean to deal with the origin, just the changes that occur when life existed. I really haven’t found one biologist who defines macroevolution as the origin of ultimate life, but rather the origin of one particular species.

    I’m not saying that one is divorced from the other. The origin of life would include a study of biology, and anything learned about the origin of life would then impact biologists, geneticists and other scientific fields.

    **Abiogenesis per Dictionary.com means “the now discredited theory that living organisms can arise spontaneously from inanimate matter; spontaneous generation.” **

    The term abiogenesis is still being used, and scientists are still investigating the possiblities. From what I’ve seen, what was disproved was the possiblity that the life that we see today — you, animals and such — could not be produced out of inanimate matter. And part of what they were trying to deal with was something called heterogenesis.

    **the last tally had it at 85%. An old scientific method called “DNA hybridization” produced these “facts” but now has been discredited as crude and archaic. **

    Do you know which method they use now, and how they do the comparison to reach the 85% figure?

  6. Hi Step
    The word evolution is very broad which is why the question in one of the presidential debates “Raise your hand if you believe in evolution” was stupid.
    The link to that article on the 85% is no longer working (from Oct. ’06), but I do remember the point that the DNA whose purpose has been identified was the pool they used. Up to 95% of the DNA’s purpose is unknown and/or dormant – the “junk DNA” – if you add that in as if it was equal, of course we’re going to have a very close match to just about any critter. It’s an area I’d like to study more on.
    I agree that your ape/man comparison is scary. If you look at the mob reaction to the Mohammed Teddy bear fiasco, yes, what is the difference? For another example, take Hugo Chavez…please. 🙂

  7. “evolution does deal with something coming from something, in terms of one form evolving from a prior form” (OSS)

    I actually have very little problem with evolution as a science – I think it has produced a lot of good in society (ex: medical breakthroughs). I refute the ideology that can exist behind the science alone and nothing more. However, I see you say that all things come from something – if we go to the very start of this all – wouldn’t there actually be nothing at some point or does evolution teach existence has always existed?

    “Would you still find that true if we evolved from the common ancestor?” (OSS).

    If it is proven there is a common ancestor – who am I to refute science? I am not sure I would have a problwm with that – but if it is speculated then I am not sure why I need to believe it altogether (it would be normal to have some reservations about it).

    “Would you feel the same if evolution had divine guidance behind it?” (OSS)

    You see that’s the crux of the problem in Expelled – most scientists will not point to guidance behind the evolutionary process (that’s ID) – and some that reject the claims of aspects of evolution have lost their jobs for asking questions and posing arguments. I see it as something undefinable anyways (the very start of life) yet this is not what evolution theory says – and this leads us down the path to the idea we came from ‘nothing’? I believe there was guidance – can I prove it – hell no.

    “and so to say that humans were nothing more than animals wouldn’t lead to someone caging up a person like a dog, or mutilating animals.” (OSS)

    I agree – in general – but then again children are children – not adults – so they don’t process thought like us. If a kid starts to learn life has no meaning (or that’s how they think the data works) – what’s to stop a kid from justifying their behaviors based on the idea we ‘come from nothing’ anyways? If they are already in a hopeless situation in life – this isn’t going to help at all.

  8. “What books have you read by scientists supporting evolution against creationist claims? Do you know the arguments made for evolution?” (Dagoods)

    None. I am not here to debate the scientficness of the evolution – I have no problem with that. Most of my information on the subject comes from documentaries and small readings on the subject. I have heard the argument for evolution as a science and I think it is quite good.

    “And why evolution says absolutely nothing about “something from nothing” or “humans came from chance” as well as the problems of using the term “random chance explosion?”” (Dagoods)

    Explain it to me so I can understand. Also explain it to me like I was a 10 year old – so I could filter the stuff through the paradigm for life I would be creating at that age. We’re both adults here – I will likely understand what you’re saying – but will a 10 year old? This is where I draw lines in the sand – as good as evolution is for a theory – it has flaws as well – namely ideologically. I see it – should I just pretend it isn’t there?

    “I just wish if we ARE going to talk about it, talk about it as the other side actually presents it.” (Dagoods)

    I am not saying I am a scholar in the idea either – I am only going by what scientists have given me to work with so far (and if I have mis-represented the theory – sorry). But from I have heard from their mouth – they also make it sound like life comes from nothing – ie: going to the beginning of this whole thing. They are still trying to prove the existence of life forms transforming from sea to land (so we had to have come from animals at some point). Dagoods – just because I can’t make it sound scientific doesn’t mean I wasn’t listening.

    “what books have you read by scientists supporting evolution against creationist claims?” (Dagoods)

    I haven’t read any but I watched 2 doc’s on the trial in the school zone about evolution and ID – somwhere in Pennsylvania. I heard the argument for evolution in a lot of depth and I have very little problems with evoltuion as a science and ID as not science. I am not here to clamor over that whole thing – to me the real problem is evolution’s ideology and how that makes an impact in society.

    I could be wrong – but I know a lot of good people that like evolution but don’t believe 1/2 of what it says (since it is guesswork in some regards) – and what’s wrong with that? Do we not have the right to question the beginning of life? Can we also not question what it means to come from an animal and not from human origin? I think it would be absurd to not rasie these questions – since they do effect how one might look at the world. That’s the part I see as problematic.

  9. The real question is very simple that I am asking here – does evolution as an ideology (of the which it is not supposed to be) teach some things that are ‘not good’?

    I hear slogans like ‘survival of the fittest’ (an evolution term), our dna is 97% like an ape’s (really – I heard we were like 99% like rats), and the idea we come from an unknown beginning (which is just as bad as nothing).

    Can this all add up to trouble? Or am I just being stupid?

    To be honest the first time I heard ‘survival of the fittest’ I immediatly thought of the streets and the idea ‘kill or be killed’ (I thought they were one in the same – I was uneducated at the time – but that’s what I thought). I never for one second thought I shared any ancestry with an ape or a rat or a tadpole – now evolution can teach that until I pretty much die but it makes no sense to me. Women always have baby humans, we never evolve into someone greater – like with wings (which would be an awesome adaptation – and if we share an ancestry with birds how is not having wings a good adaptation in light of the fact we love to fly), and there is pieces of tangible proof for the theory but not even close enough an amount for me to think itl;s unquestionable, etc.

    I am sorry to any scientist who reads this junk I write – but to be honest – I might be as close as someone will get to what is actually being said and asked in the taverns and locales of any city.

  10. Society,

    **However, I see you say that all things come from something – if we go to the very start of this all – wouldn’t there actually be nothing at some point or does evolution teach existence has always existed? **

    We’re pretty much reaching the limit of my understanding of this. I’ve consulted places like TalkOrigins in the past, and other sights from biologists. But from everything I’ve read, evolution doesn’t address the origin of life, or what started life. It concerns itself with how life has adapted over the centuries, since the beginning of life. I mean, if we take the definition:

    1: one of a set of prescribed movements
    2 a: a process of change in a certain direction : unfolding b: the action or an instance of forming and giving something off : emission c (1): a process of continuous change from a lower, simpler, or worse to a higher, more complex, or better state : growth (2): a process of gradual and relatively peaceful social, political, and economic advance d: something evolved
    3: the process of working out or developing
    4 a: the historical development of a biological group (as a race or species) : phylogeny b: a theory that the various types of animals and plants have their origin in other preexisting types and that the distinguishable differences are due to modifications in successive generations; also : the process described by this theory

    From what I can see, the origin of life is a different branch of science to begin with. Evolution would trace back to the very first source of life, whatever was created at the beginning. But the something that was created from nothing would not contain evolution, because that first source had nothing to evolve from. It just was created. The very word evolution depends on something existing in order for something else to arise from it. It’s a subset of our origins, compared to the “big” origin.

    **but if it is speculated then I am not sure why I need to believe it altogether (it would be normal to have some reservations about it). **

    I think most would say that it’s the best knowledge that they have, given all the evidence. And they would point to proof, at this moment, for common descent, in terms of fossils and genetics and other medical fields. It’s as objective as they can get. They also form theories based on the proof they do have, and when new proof arises, it either confirms or denies the theory. It’s one of the ways in which common descent is falsifiable.

    **If a kid starts to learn life has no meaning (or that’s how they think the data works) – what’s to stop a kid from justifying their behaviors based on the idea we ‘come from nothing’ anyways?**

    Why can’t the child make his/her own meaning? Why must it be dependent upon something else? The complication I see here is that this can also branch over to the concept of hell — if there are no consequences, what is to prevent someone from doing whatever s/he wants, regardless of the impact? There has to be some meaning or threat in order to keep a person in line and obedient.

  11. SocietyVs,

    Broadly we are talking about Cosmology, Abiogenesis and evolution. People often blur these three, and while they may be interrelated, they are not the same

    Cosmology is the study of how the universe began. It is uninterested in what happens to that universe upon its existence—whether such a universe can create or sustain life is another question. And how that life evolves, or whether it can create a traffic signal is equally none of its concern.

    It is here we often hear the phrase “something from nothing” as if the current theories regarding the universe is that it “sprang from nothing.” Probably the most commonly known theory is that of the Big Bang. But even it begins with a singularity at the moment of the Big Bang.

    There are also theories regarding multiverses (more than one universe) or membrane universes that create other universes when they rub. I will let you do the research on your own (and I am not qualified at all in this area)

    Abiogenesis is about life developing from non-life. Everyone believes in abiogenesis, some just hold to supernatural abiogenesis (a god did it) and others hold to natural abiogenesis. Natural causes made it happen. Again, abiogenesis is unconcerned with how the non-life material got there (Cosmology) nor with what happens to that life after it appears (evolution.) It is only concerned with life from non-life.

    (Here the idea “something from nothing” is completely inapplicable, because no one that I know claims “life” came from nothing. There is always some root cause, be it a unique combination of materials or a god.)

    Obviously we have not been able to duplicate this event—life from non-life—in the laboratory. Part of the problem is trying to determine and re-create the correct environment and chemicals in which the event occurred. We may never be able to duplicate it. However, this is an extremely young science, only 50 years old or so, and in the future—who knows?

    Finally there is Evolution which is not concerned with how the universe came into being, nor with how life came into being. It is only concerned with how that life develops once it is here.

    Evolution studies speciation—a group of animals becoming a separate species from its ancestor. (A “species” being defined as the ability to reproduce with others of the same species. An African and an Asian human are both of the same species in that they can mate and have children. A human and an elephant…not possible.)

    What few know is that we ALL believe in speciation. Farmers are constantly creating hybrids in attempts to grow larger tomatoes. We have observed other species (a London mosquito, for example) who have become unable to reproduce with their ancestors, but can reproduce with each other. This is typically called “microevolution” in that it is small changes. “Macroevolution” is speciation over a long period of time on a much larger scale than one type of mosquito to another type. (Note, the most conservative period of time I have seen for the Cambrian Explosion is 5 Million years. That is why I snorted when I read “all at once.” Do you consider 5 million years “all at once”?)

    Evolution has been confirmed by the fossil record that all show the development of species over time. Every single fossil found has confirmed evolution. Every single one. All it would take is one rabbit fossil in the Cambrian Explosion, or a human fossil in the Jurassic period. Every fossil found is one more opportunity to prove Evolution wrong. And every one confirms it.

    More recent studies, specifically genome studies initiated by Dr. Collins have only confirmed evolution. Biology, geology—each one is confirming evolution every day.

    Evolution’s two primary methods of speciation are mutation and natural selection. But within both, there is a limited amount of flexibility. The reason “random” is a bit indistinct, is that a mutation cannot make a four-legged creature become a six-legged creature. While it may effect what the four legs are, or merge two of the legs, growing another two limbs is outside the range of mutation. (Why four-legged dragons with wings are impossible.) While mutations can be unexpected and even “random” if you prefer, there is limitation on them. A dog cannot give birth to a cat.

    The other humorous item is studying quantum physics. If you do (and I strongly recommend it from the interest factor), you will find that quantum (little pieces of light) are not 100% predictable. While we can determine what they probably will do, they can act in ways which are not predictably

    Guess what—at an extremely small level—life is random! Whether there is a god or not, as best we can determine, we cannot predict what quantum will do with 100% accuracy. We have to live with the fact of the randomness of life.

    Enough for tonight….

    Thank you, SocietyVs, for being honest about not reading a single book. You would be surprised how long and how many times I normally have to ask that question before a theist begrudgingly admits never having read one. I appreciated your honesty.

    Evolution has about as much “ideology” as gravity does. They are both theories attempting to explain phenomena we observe. You may want to fly, but that darn theory of gravity’s “ideology” is keeping you from doing so. It is the same with evolution. It is not trying to force some belief—it is merely noting what it observes.

    Oh, and I can’t help but note that many, many, Many theists, even some very brilliant scientific ones, hold to the theory of evolution.

  12. “Many theists, even some very brilliant scientific ones, hold to the theory of evolution” (Dagoods)

    I was never against the theory of evolution – aspects to me are fishy – but I think as a theory it has held up quite well. What is and always will be of concern to me is the ideology that can sprng forth from the theory of evolution – which is not supposed to happen – but humans are humans and try ti find reason in everything.

    I think you did an admirable job of dividing the sciences into quite distinct categories and what they mean and what they are required to do…now that’s deep man…thanks! I think it was very readable and understandable – which I have always noticed in your writings – so it helped me to learn quite a bit more about the sciences.

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