Why you should stop believing in evolution

http://theweek.com/article/index/265653/why-you-should-stop-believing-in-evolution

 

The debate over evolution often presents itself between two ardently uncompromising groups: those who believe that evolution is a real biological phenomenon, and those who believe that the world was intelligently designed. The problem that author Keith Blanchard has with this is not the fact that evolution is disputed (he belongs in the former camp). His argument is that proponents of evolution should not treat it as a matter of faith, but as a simple matter of fact.

 

Blanchard explains that it is simply indisputable that evolution is happening. There is too much evidence of this in our lives, especially where evolution is catalyzed by human intervention. For example, we bred dogs out of wolves and continue to breed them to have or not have certain traits. Strawberries found in the wild are not much bigger than raspberries, but we selectively breed our strawberry crops to be as big as possible. People today are even discussing designer babies, as classmate sm4321 touches upon below. And all this rapid evolution is in addition to the slow, generational evolution that happens over years and years, and supposedly is impossible for humans to witness. But as Blanchard lists, geology, biology, anthropology, and numerous other scientific disciplines have already proven evolution.

 

The article lists several “rules” that govern the process of evolution; he admits that while his description is simple, the actual process of evolution involves advantageous traits becoming adopted, and unfavorable traits being discarded. This, according to the author, is why people of faith should not discount evolution, and why evolution and faith are not mutually exclusive points of view. He posits that it is very possible that God, when creating the universe, also created those rules by which evolution happens, and there is simply no way anyone can deny the cold, hard facts of evolution.

 

With that in mind, the issue at hand is an epistemological one. How can we (assuming we support and believe in the theory of evolution) win the debate over evolution? According to Blanchard, people who support the evolutionary view of natural history cannot continue to treat evolution like a matter of faith, and should not see it as incompatible with the various faiths that currently reject evolution. Our belief in evolution comes not only from theories that have been proven by fact, but it also comes from our daily participation in the phenomenon itself. As the author states, anybody who eats a strawberry or enjoys the company of their dog is recognizing the results of evolution, whether they know it or not. So perhaps the better thing to do would be instead of debating evolution itself, to find ways of making it compatible with the views of those who currently reject what is irrefutable.

 

At least in the United States, the debate over evolution is extremely intense, usually involving opposing political views. The current debate is substantively empty, as evolution is fact, which explains its dysfunction and unproductiveness. So is it a worthwhile endeavor to attempt to find a way to reconcile evolution and religion? As scientists discover more and more evidence supporting evolution, what will the debate look like in a generation? Will there even be a debate?

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

52 Responses to Why you should stop believing in evolution

  1. Westcost17, I really enjoyed your blog post. You did an excellent job in summarizing Blanchard’s article.

    Something that I would like to add, is the way the author, Blanchard, structured his article and the content of it. He is able to successfully grasp the reader’s attention by the use of humor. Such as: “At any given meal, you may eat all or part of a dozen extremely distant relatives.” Or evolution, “increased tolerance for Miley Cyrus shenanigans.” He begins by mentioning that we are all related. Metaphorically speaking, we are one out of the billions of branches that have sprung from a very old tree trunk: a common ancestor. Then, Blanchard decides to take us on a ride by describing, in simple and reasonable terms, what evolution is. Following it up with how we interact with evolution, such as dogs, or even “manually hijacking the mechanism of evolution,” by creating or enhancing animals for human consumption, such as the breast of chicken.

    From your comments- Westcoster17, I can assume that you are a believer and according to this article by Blanchard, someone who “understands” evolution. You propose a serious of questions at the end your blog post and the two that I find intriguing are: “what will the debate look like in a generation? Will there even be a debate?” My question to you is, why is that a concern? Does it affect an entire generation that there are people who do not believe in evolution? You also mention that the current debate is “substantively empty.” In order to disprove creationist would a scientist have to discover and prove that the creator, God, never existed?

    • WestCoast17 says:

      Californiarepublic79, I think the point Blanchard (and I) are trying to make is that belief in evolution is like belief in chemistry or geology- it does not really make a difference whether you “believe” it or not because the scientific community has come to a general consensus regarding these fields. So when I said the current debate is “substantively empty”, what I meant was that we should be past the point where we’re debating whether evolution or creationism should be accepted, and we should find ways to accommodate those whose personal values prevent them from accepting evolution.

      • cfc0567owls says:

        When given a choice between two seemingly equal theories, people will almost always choose to believe whichever theory they feel comfortable with. It’s only natural for someone who is taught both evolution and creationism equally to believe creationism. Evolution makes the world seem cruel and unforgiving, while creationism portrays a happy and comforting world. No matter how much someone wants to believe evolution is false, it will always be true. Teaching evolution and creationism equally puts the burden of belief on the student. They are not equal theories and should not be taught as such.

      • WestCoast17 says:

        cfc056owls, then would the most effective way to get people to accept evolution be to reconcile the two?

      • butterjones says:

        I don’t mean to speak for WestCoast17, and if I’m wrong in “putting words in your mouth” by all means, correct me, but I think that an important point WestCoast and Blanchard both made was that evolution and faith are not mutually exclusive. You ask, “In order to disprove creation[ism,] would a scientist have to discover and prove that the creator, God, never existed?” But in Blanchard’s article, he says, “Reconciling is easy: Believe, if you want to, that God set up the rules of evolution among His wonders, along with the laws of physics, and probability, and everything else we can see and measure for ourselves. But don’t deny evolution itself, or gravity, or the roundness of Earth.” This thing about mutual exclusion is something that really annoys me about the debate. When I listened to the Christian tour group argue with Mary at the Smithsonian last Sunday, several of them cited instances of “God’s presence” as arguments against evolution. A lady told a long-winded account of how prayer had saved her husband from his heart attack when they refused medical care, as if that “miracle” proved that God must exist, and therefore, evolution mustn’t. But the two things have very little to do with another. Evolution is irrefutable; not something to be believed, but rather, accepted– as WestCoast and Blanchard have said multiple times. “God” can still exist in a world that evolved– one can choose to believe that “God is just super dope because not only did he fix my husband’s heart attack, but he also orchestrated the wonder that is biological evolution! What a rad guy (or gal)!”

        Now, in response to another question you posed (californiarepublic)– you ask why we should be concerned if people do not “believe” in evolution, if it really “affect[s] an entire generation”. We need to care about the debate because this AFFECTS THE CHILDREN(*said in an overdramatic, hysterical voice*)!! But seriously, the large group of people who are adamantly opposed to the idea of evolution are “protecting” their kids from our heresy (if you will), and that means a large group of kids who are missing a vital piece of their education (at least, from my perspective). It’s a lot harder for people to try to come to terms with reality as adults, as it is very comfy to cuddle up in stubborn belief and never relocate, and thus, the crazy is passed on. I’m not saying this is easily solved– it definitely isn’t. It’s just a reason we should care.

      • WestCoast17 says:

        Butterjones, speaking for myself only, you are correct in your understanding of my words. When people like the lady at the Smithsonian you described connect two disparate phenomena that are mutually exclusive and claim that one is predicated on the other, it is indeed very frustrating.

    • greyelephant1 says:

      Californiarepublic79, I really enjoyed your comment and the questions you posed at the end. I do wonder, if with all of the scientific evidence and research that is emerging (and all of the evidence that has existed), how much can people argue against evolution? I agree with the article that it is hard to not believe in evolution even just a little, whether it is just that we change over time to adapt to the surroundings or our great ancestors are those of the Ape. Whether God created our first ancestor or not is a different story, but the evidence for change over time is overwhelming. In a decade, I can imagine the debate continuing because this is such a heated topic and there will always be rejectors, however how strong will the other argument be in the future?

    • moneytrees3001 says:

      californiarepublic79, you asked “Does it affect an entire generation that there are people who do not believe in evolution?” I would argue that it certainly does. Currently one third of the American population doesn’t understand or accept evolution. Does that not seem unavoidably damaging? It’s often recognized that teaching children creationism is intellectually crippling, but I think just having that many people who have a critical misunderstanding of science is terrible. In an interview he gave, Neil deGrasse Tyson states, “the real problem is scientifically illiterate adults. Adults are in charge, adults vote…don’t tell me fix the kids and the adults will be fine. Fix the adults and the kids will be fine.” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VO969i-qgxE) If we want our country to continue to advance in the sciences (and we are definitely lagging in global innovation rankings), we need to work hard to make people understand evolution. At the end of the day it is their choice what to believe, but right now I see a bad situation, and the opportunity to improve it.

  2. glowcloud says:

    Californiarepublic79: I believe that WestCoast17 (and Keith Blanchard) addressed your question of whether God and evolution are mutually exclusive concepts in the third-to-last paragraph, in which he writes that it “is very possible that God, when creating the universe, also created those rules by which evolution happens”. I find it interesting that attempts are being made to reconcile the two concepts at all. It makes me wonder whether the need to reconcile religious beliefs and the purely scientific and factual theory of evolution is harmful to the overall advancement of said theory. After all, shouldn’t our overall goal be to accept evolution as an indisputable scientific fact? Does the need to appease a specific group of irrational people detract from the overall argument? Will it take longer then for the ultimate goal to be reached?

    • I agree with you Glowcloud in that our goal as a society should be to understand evolution and believe it is true based on scientific findings. My goal with the questions was to get a perspective out of WestCoast17, since (“Believe, if you want to, that God set up the rules of evolution among His wonders, along with the laws of physics, and probability, and everything else we can see and measure for ourselves”) was used by Blanchard in his article, and translated by WestCoast17, which does not give his/her direct opinion regarding the issue.

    • waterbottle19 says:

      I think you raise a very interesting point. However, does the reconciliation between religion and evolution really matter? There is always going to be a fringe group denying that evolution is true. As for the theory itself, it is already remarkably advanced. There is solid evidence in support and its being taught in school. Teaching anything in direct conflict with religious a few hundred years ago would be unheard of. While accepting evolution as an “indisputable fact” is a noble goal, I think it is an unobtainable one. At least in the near future. Changing the views of a population to something different is going be extremely hard. Especially when they have been told the creationist story for millennia.

      • glowcloud says:

        I agree that “changing the views of the population to something different is going to be extremely hard”. So does it make sense to try to do it all in one big leap and phase out religion all together? Or should we continue with small steps and try to keep religion as a part of this discussion for as long as possible? To me, religion exists to answer questions that we can not or at some point could not answer for ourselves (for example, people many many years ago needed to create mythology to explain things like where the sun goes at night and why crops grow). Now that we have breached the point of understanding, do we still have a need to use the religious explanation at all?

      • arcanium82 says:

        Waterbottle, you have a very compelling argument. I agree that there will always be a fringe component that will never accept evolution. (see Young Earth Creationist who believe the Earth is only 6,000 years old) However, I am a little more optimistic than your assessment that the acceptance of evolution is an unobtainable goal. For instance, look at the percentage rates of evolution acceptance in Europe in a study conducted by John D. Miller in 2005 (and was published in the New York Times in 2006).

        http://www.data360.org/dsg.aspx?Data_Set_Group_Id=507

        Countries like Denmark, France, Britain, Belgium, Spain, and Germany have been religious for quite some time but they all come in over 70% (except Germany which is high 60’s). Conversely, America is toward the bottom with only 40% belief in evolution. I do not think that creationism wins out over evolution in America because it has been around longer. I believe it has to do with the fact that overall American society tends to be more conservative. I’m not just talking about politically conservative vs. liberal.

        This American conservatism shows itself in different areas like sexual expression. Compared to European countries, Americans are very shrewd when it comes to sexual matters. It is very much a taboo subject. On the other hand, many European countries are much more at ease with the idea of sex and sexuality.

        Violence is more accepted in America than sex. For instance, I’ve asked some of my friends if they watch Game of Thrones, to which they responded, “No, there was just too much sex that I couldn’t get into it.” The fact that people get brutally murdered in every episode didn’t stop them from watching, but people having sex every once and a while crossed the line.

        Evolution, like sex, has been branded by the American conservative psyche as a taboo subject. Many people who do not agree with evolution won’t even enter into a conversation about it because it makes them uneasy and uncomfortable to talk about. I know this firsthand because I come from a rather religious family so evolution is a topic best avoided during the holidays.

        However, I am optimistic that America will eventually follow the Europe’s lead. Eventually, (and with better education) some of those 60% of American’s who don’t believe in evolution will have to come to terms with the growing mountain of evidence that proves evolution occurred. One day, I think in the near future, evolution will no longer be a taboo subject.

    • WestCoast17 says:

      Glowcloud, I would agree with you that our ultimate goal is to accept evolution as fact. But the opposition here is extremely devoted, and I think that that does not have to be the case. Generations ago, you would have been persecuted for suggesting the Earth is not the center of the universe. But over time, the heliocentric model became accepted by the general public. So while this may not be easy, I think that we do need to find ways of bringing creationists into our camp, hopefully quickly and without causing further conflict.

    • jwmigook says:

      I really like your first question regarding the apparent need for religious beliefs and the concept of evolution to be reconciled. Though my stance on evolution is still hazy, I am leaning towards the view that evolution should be accepted as fact. The problem with that is the fact that there will always be a group of people that won’t be satisfied. I would say that there is no real need to appease any group of people that disagrees with the concept, but that we wouldn’t be certain of what will happen in response to the advancement of the theory. Advancing the theory may be the ultimate goal, but what is actually gained when people don’t accept evolution as fact regardless?

      • I like where this conversation is going. I can assume that we all believe evolution is true, what we are discussing though, is whether science and religion can coexist. At least, that is what I would like people to comment on. For example, we have the courts deciding on series of cases (here are 10: http://ncse.com/taking-action/ten-major-court-cases-evolution-creationism) regarding evolution and religion. Should it be the job of the courts to decide on this issue? or should people have a voice in choosing whether to learn about creationism, evolution, or both in an academic setting?

      • WestCoast17 says:

        Californiarepublic79- I personally think this should not be something for the government to stick its nose into. Ultimately, people should be free to believe what they want, and I personally believe that in the marketplace of ideas, science will always prevail of its own merit.

      • cfc0567owls says:

        The goal isn’t really to educate creationist adults. If they can be convinced, that great, but if not, their beliefs don’t affect others. The main goal is to make sure that children are taught to understand evolution at a young age. Science denial is a huge problem in the USA, but the more pressing matter is insuring that the children of today do not inherit their parents ignorance. An increase in scientific literacy among children is hugely important to the advancement of society.

    • WestCoast17 says:

      Arcanium82- I think you bring up an excellent point when you suggest that Americans may be too socially conservative to readily accept new ideas. The comparisons to European attitudes, especially regarding sex and violence, I think are particularly astute. I share your hope that evolution will one day be viewed no differently than other sciences.

      • butterjones says:

        I, too, really liked Arcanium’s point. I agree with everything they said, and I think that social conservatism is a huge factor in the perpetuation of anti-evolution attitudes. However, I also believe that political conservatism plays a huge role as well. Understand, this isn’t me getting all “let’s-blame-the-right” on you guys. I just think that because of the extreme political polarization in this country, people are overly attached to their politics as their identity, rather than their actual beliefs (and this works both ways– left and right). For example, my best friend’s dad is very attached to his identity as a Republican. That is, he loves to go out with his wife to the country club events put on by the Republicans of —- Club, and drink fancy drinks and talk about how Liberals are ruing the country. He likes his clique. The all agree on everything, and that’s why they’re such great friends! But I know that on his own, he’s less black-and-white. I know that he’s ay-okay with gay marriage, and that he’s a man of science who would never for a second refute evolution (on his own time). But he likes his identity as one of the extreme Republicans of our town, so if either of those issues ever comes up, he holds his tongue (and I’m sure this is true of other issues too, those were just the first two i thought of). Granted, I believe that he would probably vote Republican even if he wasn’t a part of this culture, because those are definitely his fiscal beliefs, but the cultural polarization definitely pushes him to support some beliefs that he wouldn’t ordinarily. The media in this country has made it very difficult to stand on middle ground– you’re either on one team or the other, which makes reconciling issues (like the teaching of evolution) more difficult.

    • pianokid123 says:

      Glowcloud, I share your skepticism of the need to “reconcile religious beliefs,” when developing a scientific theory. Ever since the Age of Enlightenment, (literal) interpretations of the Bible have conflicted with scientific theory, thus hindering scientific advancement. For instance, the Roman Catholic Church denied breakthroughs in astrology and physics and persecuted scientists such as Galilo because they disproved a geocentric view of the universe. Today, we face the same situation where creationalists are denying evolution and trying to purge it from our school systems. The “need” to reconcile religion only weakens theories, as it deludes their prowess with unscientific and inappropriate speculation such as, “What if evolution occured with guidance by a supreme being?”

      • WestCoast17 says:

        I don’t think reconciling religion with science weakens the science. To answer your question with another question, even if evolution were guided by a supreme being, how would that substantively change evolution as we understand it?

      • cfc0567owls says:

        Why couldn’t it have? Evolution and religion are not mutually exclusive. Maybe the beliefs don’t need to be “reconciled” as much as they need to be understood. A proper understanding of evolution does not mean someone cannot believe in God any more. On the contrary, I believe that an understanding of evolution can actually reinforce someones belief in God. Imagine evolution as God’s mechanism with which all life is created, and God’s power seems even more grand.

      • WestCoast17 says:

        Cfc0567owls- that’s a very elegant way of saying what I meant to say (perhaps I wasn’t clear enough). In any case, I totally agree that the two are not mutually exclusive.

  3. waterbottle19 says:

    I agree that the author definitely succeeds in capturing the audience’s attention in his almost sarcastic use of examples such as being related to the “mosquito you just murdered” or your “house plant”. I am convinced that his writing achieves its purpose but for different reasons than you would expect. Looking at other headlines on theweek.com such as “Ferguson, the perils of liberal moralizing”, I think it is a logical conclusion that the website is very biased towards the Republican Party. Some of the most outspoken political critics of evolution have come from the Republican Party, so why is article on this website? By looking at the word use I think we can come to a conclusion. The author blatantly states that you either understand evolution or you don’t. There is no middle ground to him, and he leaves no room for other ideas. While this may be true, this dogmatic approach that reflects the arguments of creationists and does nothing but inflame its audience: a primarily conservative audience. The last sentence is just a twist of the knife.

    • punky1218 says:

      waterbottle19: Another way the Blanchard draws readers in is the title of the article “Why you should stop believing in evolution”. I thought this was very smart because it would draw readers who don’t believe in evolution to read the article. When I first started reading, I thought it would be a creationist trying to convince people to not believe in evolution. In the end, they make a really good point, that it’s not a matter of believing in it, it is a matter of understanding it.

      • waterbottle19 says:

        That is a very good point you raise. I did not think to include the title in my analysis.

      • Pubky1218, i really agree about the title of the article, and that’s what drew me to the blog post as well in part. I like how Blanchard (and wescoast17) use that very striking title to draw readers into a piece of writing that is actually not trying to deter the reader from the principle of evolution, but rather is trying to push the reader to see evolution in a different light. I think that the suggested elimination of evolution as a “belief” could eliminate a lot of the aggressive dispute between science and religion on evolution.

      • pianokid123 says:

        punky218, I also found Blanchard’s rhetorical technique in the choice of his title very effective. It cleverley augmented his point that evolution is true, regardless of whether you believe in it or not. It also gave a stylistic roundness to his essay, as the meaning of his title was only truly deciphered until the end when he states, “You don’t believe in it — you either understand it or you don’t.”

      • cfc0567owls says:

        That title is the only reason I chose to read this blog over the other two

    • WestCoast17 says:

      Waterbottle19, I would disagree with your assertion that The Week is a conservative publication. Editorially speaking I think they are slightly left-leaning, but individual contributors like Keith Blanchard bring their own opinions and perspectives. So I don’t think that Blanchard’s intention is to inflame a conservative audience, but rather propose a new way of thinking of the debate.

  4. punky1218 says:

    californiarepublic79: I think you make some great points. To answer your last question, in order to disprove a creationist would you have to disprove God, I think that disproving God would be impossible. One of the main concepts of religion is that you can never prove or disprove God but it is just something that you have faith in. This is why the clash between science and religion is so difficult, that religion is based on faith and science based on evidence. Blanchard discusses in the article that religion and evolution are not mutually exclusive, that people can (and do) believe in both.

    • collegeblogger19 says:

      punky1218: I think the way you separated religion and evolution was very correct–“religion is based on faith and science based on evidence.” I think that concept is very important to understand. Some (non-religious) people might say that religion was created in order to make sense of the world when science could not. Science is based on evidence, and the more we explore the world in a scientific way, the more evidence is discovered. So is it possible that the more science that is discovered the more religion is discredited?

      • punky1218 says:

        collegeblogger19: I think the more science is discovered, the more it discredits people that take religion and the bible literally. As far as the main concept of God, that there is some force out there that created the universe, I don’t think that science will ever be able to determine whether such an abstract, non-measurable idea is true or not.

      • I dont think that the discovery of more science necessarily would facilitate a discredit of religion, collegeblogger19. I do however think that it could lead to a further development of separation of science and religion. I think that this could be a good step, and could be a possible avenue for less head-butting between the two fields. Peaceful coexistence of the two could be in sight if people realized that being aware of supported scientific claims does not facilitate “believing” in it the same way that people believe in religion.

      • Collegeblogger19 and Punky1218: I completely agree with both of you in that science is based on facts while religion is based on faith. In my opinion, I believe that there is room for both science and religion to coexist. Prof of this can be seen in a comment by student researcher Thomas Morris when commenting on the fact that indeed Noah’s arc could have floated even under the wight of 70,000 animals and creatures. (http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/04/03/researchers-stunning-claim-about-noahs-ark-might-surprise-you/) He states: “You don’t think of the Bible necessarily as a scientifically accurate source of information, so I guess we were quite surprised when we discovered it would work,” said Morris. “We’re not proving that it’s true, but the concept would definitely work.” This is just an example that science could help the faith community in deciphering some of the Bible’s stories.

      • WestCoast17 says:

        I think that because religion is a matter of faith and science is a matter of evidence, the two are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Advancements in science do not have to result in the discrediting of religious beliefs.

      • WestCoast17 says:

        Californiarepublic79- That article is an excellent example of how in some cases, religious devices and scientific findings can dovetail neatly. Can the same be done for evolution? I think we could reasonably hope for such an outcome.

  5. jwmigook says:

    This is definitely a really interesting article. To be honest, I never really thought of evolution this way. I was always aware of the debate regarding evolution and religious faiths, but Keith Blanchard makes some valid points here. I feel that this article speaks to me more in particular because I was raised a Catholic, and I often question topics that involve the clashing of science and religion. I will point out, however, that Blanchard is obviously biased in this article because he is expressing his own views. He includes unique examples and some good humor, but some of his comments can be taken the wrong way. People really do think evolution is a matter of faith, and this really is the driving force behind the debates that still go on today regarding both.

    • I feel like while Blanchard is expressing his own views, his article was an attempt to make evolution seem very fact based and undebatable. In a way he is biased but it wasn’t the most important aspect of the article and I felt it was easy to move past the fact that his opinion is very strong.

    • macnplease says:

      jwmigook, I admire your admission to not having previously thought of evolution in such a way, but I do wonder where you think his bias comes in and more importantly, how it affects the message of the article. Regardless of his potential bias (being someone who understands evolution), his point rings true: creationism and belief in established religion do not have to go hand in hand, as a harmony between religious faith and an understanding of evolution is possible. Could you elaborate?

  6. macnplease says:

    I’d first like to say that the combination of the article and the blog post was thoroughly interesting; the article itself a set of observations and statements concerning the definition of evolution and its compatibility with religion, and the blog post a commentary on the author’s intentions and the bloggers own questions about it. I appreciated the structure of the article, in that Blanchard establishes the background, highlights the problem, addresses its flaws, and concludes with a (rather idealistic) conclusion.

    One of the first thoughts that comes to my mind from reading this is the implications that come from such progress in thought; as the article’s author states, people acknowledge evolution all the time, whether they know it or not. The fact of the matter is, in a world increasingly more exposed and prone to scientific discovery, people are being forced to acknowledge evolution. The Jewish faith, for example, as well as most of the established catholic church, welcome evolutionary theory with open arms. These groups are able to accomplish a dream that Keith Blanchard poses in the article: they are able to incorporate evolution into their own respective sets of beliefs. Punky1218 poses an interesting potential obstacle to this goal for religious groups, that one could never disprove a creationist because one could never disprove God. This seems to be where religious individuals, fearful for the affront to their beliefs, get mixed up. Frankly, I think Blanchard summarizes a solution quite directly: “…there’s no reason for people of faith to reject the mountains of data and the evidence of their own senses. Reconciling is easy: Believe, if you want to, that God set up the rules of evolution among His wonders, along with the laws of physics, and probability, and everything else we can see and measure for ourselves.”

  7. moneytrees3001 says:

    In his article I think Blanchard gets to the very root of the dispute over evolution, which is the inability of humans to grasp scales of space and time outside what is required in their usual lives. He wisely notes “If you had eyes to see the big picture, and could watch life change on a geologic time frame, you’d see constant gradual change, as generations adapt to circumstance.” Interestingly, Dawkins raises a similar idea in his book, “The God Delusion”, where he notes that this inability to grasp larger scales is in itself due to the evolutionary process. A greater understanding of scale was never needed by early humans; it wasn’t a helpful trait, so individuals who were born with it were never naturally selected. This makes humans blind to something called “the Invisible Present”, which are changes that are happening right now, but too slowly to see. Environmental scientists use it to describe changes like global warming and other slow atmospheric shifts. In his gesture to this idea, I think Blanchard provides a possible solution to the problems the original poster raised, regarding the acceptance and understanding of the fact of evolution. As a society we need to make an effort to shift our understanding and magnify our view of time and space. This is unnatural for humans, and won’t be easy, but will surely lead to greater understanding of evolution, climate change, and other pressing issues.

    • WestCoast17 says:

      Seeing evolution on a macro scale would indeed help one understand its processes and mechanisms, and Dawkins’s idea of the “Invisible Present” is certainly true in many cases. But Blanchard also pointed out many instances in which humans breed other species for certain traits (strawberries, etc) to demonstrate that evolution also happens on a much smaller and faster scale. Ultimately, I would probably agree with you that we need to “magnify our view of time and space,” while also remembering the everyday examples of evolution.

  8. cfc0567owls says:

    Great article. Belief in God and acceptance of Evolution are not mutually exclusive, despite what some people may believe. Many religious people, like myself, believe evolution to be the mechanism that God used to create each species. The problem with Americans accepting evolution stems mostly from lack of proper education and understand of evolution more than anything else. As the article states, any one who understands evolution does not believe in its truth, they are certain of it’s truth. In order to end the debate, we need to properly educate people on evolution. It is about time we stop giving creationists equal opportunity to make their points. When people believe that creationism and evolution are on an equal playing field, they will believe whichever they feel comfortable with. Freedom of speech may allow creationists the chance to explain their beliefs level with evolution, but it does not make what they are saying correct.

    • macnplease says:

      In addition, freedom of speech does not give creationists the right to petition for teaching Creationism in schools. Do you think those same religious people would petition for kids in school to learn about the origin story from Greek mythology? Certainly not. Either way, religion is by law not supposed to be taught in public schools. The fact that it continues to be a debate is appaling.

      • WestCoast17 says:

        I think a complicating factor is the fact the public schools are government-funded, which inevitably blurs the line between religion and state. Because things like biology, evolution, and Greek mythology (as macnplease mentioned) can be controversial for religious reasons, it becomes nearly impossible to set policy or curricular standards that do not in some way upset somebody. How do we teach the right material while respecting freedom of speech and separation of church and state? I would argue that doing so is inherently impossible in the paradigm of publicly-funded institutions.

  9. arcanium82 says:

    Blanchard does a good job in his article to point out how humans are affecting the evolution of many plants and animals through the process of selective breeding. For instance, turning the small strawberry found in the wild into the enormous strawberry you find in the supermarket. Although these are examples of evolution, I believe they are poor examples to use if you are trying to convince a non-evolutionist that evolution is true.

    Many people who don’t believe in evolution do believe in some form of micro-evolution. They usually refer to it as “adaptation” instead of “evolution”. Some people have no problem believing that species will adapt to their environment in order to increase survival, but they don’t believe that one species will turn into another. I could see most anti-evolutionist completely dismissing the selective breeding of strawberries because, at the end of the day, its still just a strawberry.

    One aspect of human tinkering with evolution that Blanchard does not touch on is the amount of Genetically Modified Organisms we are creating today. Look at some of the stuff that Monsanto does to its grain and corn in a laboratory. It’s one thing to just selectively breed to allow for stronger genes to flourish. It is something totally different to artificially inject genes into places where they have no business being.

    Humans play God in a way every day by making things that wouldn’t otherwise be able to occur in the natural world. My dog is another example of that. She is a mini-Goldendoodle. Her dad was a mini-poodle and her mom was a standard sized Golden Retriever. In nature, because of the size difference, those two breeds can’t mate. Only through the use of artificial insemination the two breeds are mixed.

    When asked about evolution occurring naturally over millions of years, Creationists deny its existence as an insult to God. But what about all of the unnatural things that humans to do manipulate the environment everyday? Isn’t creating a mutant strain of grain that grows year round in a laboratory kind of slapping God in the face?

    • WestCoast17 says:

      Arcanium82, I think bringing GMOs into the argument is a good idea. I think that Blanchard’s example of the strawberries served only to debunk the idea that evolution is not accepted due to the difficulty in understanding its long-term impact, so mentioning GMOs adds another compelling facet to the short-term aspect of evolutionary mechanisms.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s