So I am about to watch a series of videos called Incredible Creatures that Defy Evolution. It is a set of videos created by Dr. Jobe Martin, a dentist and former “Darwinist” turned creationist. I plan on writing up a detailed review of all three videos soon. My son, who loves anything having to do with animals, saw the DVDs laying on the table and thought they looked really interesting. I told him to read the back cover on the one he was holding in his hand and I watched as a look of utter confusion began to wash across his face. A little background: My son understands evolution. He knows what mutations are. He understands that selection is not a random process. His confusion was rooted in two simple questions: How could people honestly believe this and why on earth was I going to watch it? I told him I was still working on the answer to the first question. The second question was easy.
I value the truth, whether you write it with a capital T or not. When I faced the challenges to religious faith over a decade ago I sought the truth. I might have tried to stack the deck on the side of faith because that was what I was trying to salvage but I was prepared to face whatever I found. And believe me, I did stack the deck on the side of faith. I wanted the prior years of my life studying and praying to be worthwhile. I didn’t want to face the possibility that I might have been so incredibly wrong. But I faced it anyway. That is the attitude I still have regarding things I don’t believe. I still give them a chance, sometimes. I pick up tracts in public places. I accept magazines and pamphlets from religious people and read them when I don’t have anything else to do. I actually listen to someone who is trying to change my mind. This doesn’t mean I let them waste too much of my time. I draw lines in the sand. It doesn’t do me any good to hear the same things over and over again. News flash: I’ve read your bible, more times than you have and I actually paid attention. Another news flash: If you throw the second law of thermodynamics into an argument one more time and still can’t answer me when I ask you what the first law is, STFU. The most important part of the lesson I wanted this to teach my son though was that it is important to understand an argument before accepting or rejecting it.
Do I think I will hear a valid rebuttal of any part of evolutionary theory in these videos? Of course not. Do I expect to actually hear anything that I haven’t personally researched and thoroughly debunked already? Not at all. But Jarreg you might say; “That makes you arrogant and closed minded. How can you give an argument a chance if you’re mind is closed off to it?” I’ve heard this particular objection before and every time it is made in the spirit of complete ignorance. Let’s respond with a counter-example. If I give you a small booklet and tell you that it disproves that the earth revolves around the sun how open will your mind be to that possibility before reading it? How you answer tells me more than I need to know. If you honestly think that a simple scientific discovery or some metaphysical proposition or idea, divine revelation, etc. is going to undo hundreds of years of rigorous scientific study and counteract thousands of independent lines of evidence that support the fact that the earth revolves round the sun then come to my house. Bring lots of money. I have many priceless artifacts to sell you. If you consider my position closed minded then your definition of open minded is equivalent to what I would call stupid.
If you think my example isn’t a fitting comparison to the theory of evolution then you are inexcusably ignorant of biology and don’t deserve any response short of an education. The theory of evolution is as factual as the heliocentric theory of the solar system. Depending on how you look at it you could even say evolution has been more thoroughly “proven” by virtue of how many different lines of evidence support it. But here’s the thing, I will still listen to what detractors have to say. I will give someone the chance to convince me. I read plenty of books by Christian apologists and creationists. I have read books by Islamic creationists as well. I’ve also read the works of Michael Behe and others in the intelligent design movement. In all cases I have been disappointed. I expect a more rigorous analysis of evidence from the average high school student than I have ever gotten from any of these sources. That doesn’t mean I’m done though.
In closing I want to say that truth can be an elusive little bastard sometimes. If you come up with a good question it’s possible that you will never know the answer regardless of how hard you try. People might have to work on it for generations, centuries even. That’s no excuse to accept shitty explanations. Intelligent design, creationism, god did it, “tide goes in tide goes out”, these aren’t just shitty explanations. They aren’t explanations at all. I’ll take an honest admission of uncertainty over arrogant, make-believe, pseudo-explanations any day.