I don’t care about evolution!

Oh, I care about science. I find it fascinating for its own sake, and I also recognize the amazing contributions that scientific knowledge can make toward improving our quality of life. Biology, including the theory of evolution, is no exception.

But if you want to convince me to give up atheism and believe in your religion, don’t waste your breath trying to argue against evolution. It’s not even because you’re wrong — although I think you are. Mountains of evidence in favor of evolution have been accumulated, and the scientific consensus is clear. You’re not going to convince me by claiming that there aren’t any transitional fossils, or that the eye is too complex to have evolved. You’re always welcome to try to defend positions I think are mistaken, though. I’m normally interested in the perspectives of people who have reached different conclusions than I have.

On the topic of theism versus atheism, though, the real point is that evolution doesn’t matter. You might as well have come up to me and said, “So you’re an atheist, eh? Well, have you considered… blueberry pie?” It’s just completely irrelevant. Even if you somehow succeeded in showing that the theory of evolution is totally, utterly wrong in every aspect, you wouldn’t come close to providing a smidgen of evidence for the existence of some supernatural being. It’s not as though there are only two alternatives, evolution and belief in god/s. There are any number of other naturalistic hypotheses we could make. And in my experience, people arguing against evolution are rarely arguing for simple deism; they typically jump from “the bacterial flagellum is irreducibly complex!” to “Jesus is the son of God and he died for our sins, according to all the particular dogmatic stipulations of my sub-denomination of Christianity and the specific translation of the Bible that I prefer.” It’s a breathtakingly blatant non sequitur.

My atheism does not depend on my belief that the theory of evolution is true. If you want to convince me that your god exists, it’s not enough to argue against random concepts I happen to believe. You have to offer some positive argumentation that actually supports your side.

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4 Comments

  1. Not sure if you’ve seen this comic before, but you probably should!

    http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=1817#comic

  2. Good find! I heart SMBC but I had forgotten about that one. So true…

  3. Good point, though it’s sad that anyone could make the argument that there’s an either-or decision there. The logic is just not there, but I’ve heard it argued too.

  4. Personally, I find that argument (evolution) the most damaging one ever raised on the atheist vs theism discussion. Ignoring any theological interpretation of evolution, the thing is that it is and always was a theory, a scientific theory. We now know much more on genetics, micro-biology, etc than Darwin ever dreamt about. There are good arguments against it (not on the whole, at least for now, but surely on the details about its processes) and we should be glad! It only means that science is not stagnant. However, when biologists and general scientists (well, any folk scientifically cultivated for that matter) actually try to rebut such a flawed and obviously irrelevant argument, somehow the side effect is that biology/science itself starts to sounds a little too much dogmatic. Of course, that’s not true, as the number of peer-reviewed papers published annually shows – but that’s not what the general public sees or reads… I kind of miss the time when we searched topics on evolution and actually found on-topic, current research and not absurd discussions (I’m talking here about internet, books, newspapers, etc). Overall I think that it’s really prejudicial for the scientific community to actually reply to such arguments instead of just ignoring them; after all, we seldom see astrophysicists even trying to discuss with astrologists!

    P.S.: Loved your blog (just stumbled on it) ;)

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