One day while walking to the life science library I was stopped by a cultist who wanted me to join. Having spoken with cultists before, I was able to explain his problems to him. The cult’s beliefs entailed several obvious contradictions, its leaders had well-documented ulterior motives, and so forth. But the fellow was undeterred. He was certain that his cult held the truth, in spite of the obvious problems.
Later I thought about some of the things he said. They revealed even more problems and I wished I had pointed them out. A few weeks later I saw him again and so I engaged him in conversation. Not only were there the problems I pointed out the first time we had spoken, but now I added several more. But again, the fellow was undeterred.
People have a remarkable capacity to hold bizarre beliefs. Don’t misunderstand me, I am not referring to beliefs that are not provable or don’t adhere to some logical formula. I’m referring to beliefs that are downright false. The cultist I spoke with was sure and it is this unjustified certainty that revealed the problem, not the beliefs themselves. Who knows, maybe his cult did hold the truth, but his reasons provided little confidence. Between his assurance and his facts there was a wide chasm.
It is the same with evolution. Evolution is not about gradual change accumulating to form all the species. This, as well as mutations, punctuated equilibrium, natural selection, common descent, and so forth, are sub hypotheses of evolution. Evolutionists are free to disagree on these sub hypotheses and accept or reject them where they see fit. What evolutionists agree on, indeed insist on, is that evolution is a fact. Somehow, some way, all life and all of biology must have arisen naturalistically. We may not know how but this must be a fact, evolutionists are certain of it.
Evolution’s Lakatosian core is certainty—certainty that all of biology arose on its own. You will see evolutionists disagree about many things, but you won’t see them disagree over this core belief. From Richard Dawkins to Ken Miller, and everywhere in between, evolutionists do not question the fact of evolution.
Evolutionists may wax eloquent on their degree of certainty. Is evolution as certain as heliocentrism or the roundness of the earth? Nay, it is as certain as gravity. Indeed it is more certain than gravity. To doubt it would be perverse.
The evolution genre is loaded with such profundities. Measured assessments of the reality of how the science bears on the theory are nowhere to be found. There literally are no evolution texts that admit to the uncertainty. They will admit to ignorance of the details of how evolution occurred, but not that it occurred.
Like the cultist I spoke with, evolutionists are certain even though the facts do not support such certainty. As with the cultist’s beliefs, evolution may or may not be true. It is difficult to know exactly what happened in the distant past. But it is not difficult to know the current state of our knowledge.
We may not know the truth of a matter, but we do know what we know of the matter. These are two entirely different things, and evolution deals with the latter. Evolution is not merely a collection of disparate, sometimes conflicting sub hypotheses of how life arose. Evolution is the claim that the over arching story is compelling. An indisputable idea that must be accepted by all rational thinkers.
But as with the cultist, the chasm between evolution’s confidence and certainty and reality is immense. The problem here with evolution is not minor. We’re not dealing with a few missing blanks. It is not the difference between a fact and a truth, or however else evolutionists want to describe their certainty.
The problem here is that it is not even close. It is not even controversial that the scientific facts of the matter do not support evolution’s claim of certainty. Any objective analysis of the science, unsullied by evolution’s religious mandates, would conclude not only that evolution is not a scientific fact, but that there are non trivial scientific problems with evolution. Evolution is nowhere close to being a fact.
Perhaps evolution is true, and perhaps we will understand this better in the future. But there simply is no getting around the fact of the matter which is that the current state of our knowledge is in complete disagreement with the insistence of evolutionists that evolution is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, a scientific fact.
Evolution skeptics such as myself are often criticized as undermining and attacking science. It is just the opposite. A key tenet of science is the objective evaluation of data and findings and avoiding the influence of dogma. We are simply calling for science to adhere to this. Those evolutionists who point the finger and accuse evolution skeptics of undermining science are, in fact, themselves undermining science.
It is a hypocrisy that has played out over and over, probably throughout all of history. The king, the priest or the magician manipulates the system and then accuses those who point it out of the very crime of which he is guilty.
And so what is the point of all this? The point is that reasoning with an evolutionist is much like reasoning with that cultist. You can present the facts, you can walk through the logic, you can review the experiments, and you can tally up the findings. It doesn’t matter. It never did matter because, ultimately, evolution never was about the science.
Every discussion I have had with evolutionists always ends up the same. It may be fast or it may take awhile, it may be courteous or it may be rude, and it may be subtle or it may be obvious. But at some point the evolutionist must deny the facts of the matter and blame you.
Of course one hopes that seeds of truth are being sown. I’m not saying people cannot escape their irrationality. But do not expect evolutionists to give up their tightly held beliefs easily. You cannot simply present the facts to an evolutionist and expect them to make a rational conclusion. Upon learning of the science an evolutionist does not then respond “Oh, I see, so evolution is not a fact after all.” Don’t expect a rational discourse.
It doesn’t work that way because evolutionists hold to a web of beliefs and forfeiting their certainty of evolution would conflict with too many other religious beliefs they hold dear.
Religion drives science, and it matters.