How to show the value of evolution and the absurdity of the blasphemous alternatives

Evolution is under attack — continuously. Despite the overwhelming experimental support for it, and despite the absurdities of the blasphemous creationism and intelligent design theories, it has been impossible to even make a dent in the problem. Perhaps we in the scientific community are encouraging, not demolishing, our opponents.
It is our responsibility to teach what evolution is and why it, and only it, is a scientific theory — and more important what science is, how it works, and why. Yet we are teaching exactly the opposite.
When an action is taken that we do not like we immediately run to court (which happens in too many other fields) and the court rules that evolution is the official religion of the educational system and only that must be taught. The lesson then is quite clear. Scientific theories are what the courts say they are. If you want your views to be accepted, and more be the official ones, change the courts.
Another approach is to vote out offending school boards. Scientific theories are determined by who has the most votes. This makes it clear to supporters of other views that what they have to do is get out their votes.
An important argument is that students must learn evolution to get into college. Thus correct theories are decided by those who have the power to do so. It is clear what people who hold other views should do, and they are doing it successfully as not only the last election has shown. It is not surprising that they are using their power at the local level to force out evolution. That is exactly what we have been teaching them to do.
This is what the public has been learning about science — might makes right — because that is what we are teaching. Science is what those in power decide it is. There is no attempt to explain how the correctness of theories is determined and why some theories are correct, others cannot be. We are failing in our responsibilities (not only with regard to evolution), but worse are being misleading. We are teaching, but teaching just the opposite of the truth.
But evolution is just a theory — that is a guess. That view is quite reasonable since we never show that it has strong support, strong experimental backing, strong explanatory power.
There are reasons for the way our community is behaving. Part is incompetence, but unnecessary incompetence. People do not even try to think about the problem, just react. And most (almost all) scientists, including biologists, do not know why evolution makes sense and the evidence for it, nor why other theories are nonsense. Hence they are completely unable to teach it, especially in informal settings (like political ones). So they haven’t.
A major obstacle is that we do not want to teach. We only want to be recognized as superior to others. We are the experts and you must listen to us. Egos of scientists are very harmful. Of course those pushing other views want to be recognized as superior because they are more moral, believing in God (although showing contempt for It). This is a battle, not about science, but of self-images. And we are losing. We would win if we forgot about our egos and try to deal with the problems.
And insistence that we are the experts can backfire. “My minister is an expert in the Bible and according to him the Bible says … . Why should I believe your expert and not my expert?”
It is essential to be clear about our aims. It is not to convert these people; that is almost impossible as there are deep underlying psychological reasons. It is only to prevent them from interfering with schools, education, public policy. They can go home and do whatever they wish and just stop causing problems.
Our whole approach is defensive. But the best defense is a good offense. Challenge them, force them to admit that what they are pushing is nonsense.
Here an approach is outlined. It is discussed in much greater depth elsewhere [Mirman (OAIU)].
It is important to understand first what the issue is. It is not science, but self-images and group identity. Ours and theirs. “Those who believe in God are good people, those who do not are bad” (the opposite of what reality shows). “Those who believe in evolution do not believe in God thus are bad people. But I am opposed to evolution showing that I believe in God and am a good person.” Actually those who believe in the blasphemous creation and ID theories are angry at God because It did not create the universe the way they think It should have. They think that they are better than God, they show contempt for God, they regard the words of humans as superior to those of God as shown in Its work, the natural world — thus are deeply evil. They push these blasphemous theories in order to flaunt their anger at God, their contempt for God. This must be stressed again and again.
What is the proper criterion for scientific theories [Mirman (2001a), sec.~I.4.c, p.~17]? It is not that they are true because we cannot know truth (nor does this word have meaning in this context) rather that they are useful. And truth changes as science advances. A theory can be total nonsense but not only useful but mandatory. Classical physics is inherently contradictory, impossible, nonsense, and quantum mechanics necessary [Mirman (1995b)], but our civilization could not exist if it is not used. It is total nonsense but indispensable. If they admit that evolution is useful (and it is extremely so) but that the blasphemous theories are totally useless they can regard as truth whatever they want. But schools should not teach useless nonsense. And if they claim their theories are useful they must show how.
We should not ask students to believe in evolution. Belief is a religious word. Schools should ask not what students believe, but what they know. They should know what evolution is, how it works, why it is valuable, how that is determined, and why no other theory is. They can believe anything they want. If they want to believe the earth is flat they can believe the earth is flat. They should know the evidence that it is (roughly) spherical. They can believe in ghosts if they want. Schools should not have courses in ghosts.
Thus force them into ridiculous positions where they have to admit they do not know what they are saying. How did the creator create? Did it draw pictures? Blueprints perhaps? Did it write a computer program? And so on. Which part of its brain developed the design? The prefrontal cortex? Does the designer’s brain have neurons? Do they have myelin sheaths?
Also intelligence is not a single talent but a set (which those trying to develop artificial intelligence do not understand). Does an “intelligent designer” have the same set of abilities that we do or a completely different set? Does it have musical intelligence, artistic, social, emotional, mathematical intelligence? How do we know? And if we do not know how can we say that the designer is intelligent — to what talents does this word apply?
And how did it interact with matter to make it conform to its designs? Does it have hands? Did it blow on matter? Else how?
If they cannot answer they have to admit that their words are meaningless — hot air. To give sense to what they claim they must regard the designer as a human being, perhaps a superior one but a human nevertheless, clearly blasphemous. These are discussed in depth elsewhere [Mirman (OAIU)].
Those who believe that the biological world is too complicated to have arisen by randomness but must have been designed (saying thereby that they are too incompetent to even try to understand it, which we do not disagree with) should explain how it was designed and how saying that helps us in any way. Where does it lead to? Of course if what they mean is that they cannot try to understand so do not want to, we would agree that is helpful to them. It gives them an excuse to go away.
The road to understanding is long and difficult. Those who are trying are making progress. Those who give up accomplish nothing. But the road is more than difficult. The views are fascinating, the adventure of studying nature is the greatest possible. We can only feel sorry for those who feel they are unable to take this journey with us, who feel too incompetent to experience the joys of discovery. They have given up hope of ever sharing the delights of the adventure, of the knowledge and of gaining understanding. Fortunately most of us are capable of sharing these enchantments.
What we must do, what we have an obligation to do, is show why evolution is useful, has explanatory power. Then ask them to do the same with their theories. Evolution can be tested experimentally. Are they testing their theories? Or perhaps they are not because they cannot, their theories lack content and the inability to test them, to do research using them and on them, shows that. We must present the challenge and show that evolution, and science, can meet it. Can other views do so?
Here are a few examples that can be used to compare theories. More are given elsewhere [Mirman (OAIU)]. These illustrate what can and should be done but are presented only for that purpose. For reasons of space evolutionary explanations are not provided, only references where these can be found. Biologists can add hundreds more. What would be useful is a database (perhaps on a web site) with hundreds of these to which teachers, and others, can refer. If anyone pushes other views we can ask them to answer the questions, provide the explanations. Seeing a list of hundreds that need answers is likely to quite discourage them. Or they can just admit that they are not capable of even trying, although many, many scientists are, and with success.
These examples involve technicalities, which is deliberate. If we ask how flight developed (and questions might be built on this) it is easier to confuse with meaningless verbiage. For these it is much harder.
It is important to not only give answers to these questions but to also explain how these answers result from the theory being tested. It is often easy to think of answers and use them to justify a theory when actually they are in no way related to that theory. Carefully relating predictions and explanations to a theory is essential for evaluating its correctness.
1. Explain why fossil evidence shows [Dawkins (1997), p.~91] that the jaw bones in the reptiles that led to mammals (therapsids [Thain and Hickman (2000), p.~391]) gradually became our ear bones (those in the middle ear, the ossicles).
2. Why do pinnipeds have hints of claws in their paddles [Wyss (1989)]? What predictions can be made from this? What evidence is there for suggested explanations?
3. Why do finches in Alabama and Montana differ in the order of the sexes of the eggs they lay [Badyaev, Hill, Beck, Dervan, Duckworth, McGraw, Nolan and Whittingham (2002); Pennisi (2002)]? Why do mothers have the ability to control the sex of each of their eggs?
4. Explain the relationship of male sex choice, {\it Wolbachia bacteria} and insect speciation [Hurst and Randerson (2002)].
5. What determines the range of differences between proteins in the yeast {\it Saccharomyces cerevisiae} and the nematode worm {\it Caenorhabditis elegans} [Fraser {\it et al.} (2002)]?
6. How are the structures and behaviors of figs and fig wasps related? Why? Discuss in depth how to study this [Dawkins (1997), p.~308] so providing a synopsis of (part of) the scientific method. Why is that used? Why is it relevant for studies such as this? How does it give firm evidence and better evidence then other ways of study if there are such? In what ways is it related to underlying views of nature and how does it support, or refute, them?
If supporters of the blasphemous ID and creation theories cannot provide answers then they must admit that their theories, no matter how emotionally satisfying, are not scientific, have no content, are totally worthless. Let us force them to do that.


Badyaev, Alexander V., Geoffrey E. Hill, Michelle L. Beck, Anne M. Dervan, Ren\'{e}e A. Duckworth, Kevin J. McGraw, Paul M. Nolan, Linda A. Whittingham (2002), Sex-based hatching order and adaptive population divergence in a passerine bird {\em Science} {\bf 295,} \#5553, 11 Jan., p.~316-318.
Dawkins, Richard (1997), Climbing Mount Improbable (New York, W. W. Norton and Co. Inc.).
Fraser, Hunter B., Aaron E. Hirsh, Lars M. Steinmetz, Curt Scharfe, Marcus W. Feldman (2002), Evolutionary Rate in the Protein Interaction Network, {\em Science} {\bf 296,} \#5568, 26 Apr., p.~750-752.
Hurst, Laurence D. and James P. Randerson (2002), Parasitic Sex Puppeteers, {\em Scientific American} {\bf 286,} \#4, April, p.~56-61.
Mirman, R. (1995b), Group Theoretical Foundations of Quantum Mechanics (Commack, NY: Nova Science Publishers, Inc.; to be republished by
Mirman, R. (2001a), Quantum Mechanics, Quantum Field Theory: geometry, language, logic (Huntington, NY: Nova Science Publishers, Inc.; republished by
Mirman, R. (OAIU), Our Almost Impossible Universe: Why the laws of nature make the existence of humans extraordinarily unlikely
(see book list)
Pennisi, Elizabeth (2002), Finches adapt rapidly to new homes, {\em Science} {\bf 295,} \#5553, 11 Jan., p.~249-250.
Thain, M. and M. Hickman (2000), The Penguin Dictionary of Biolgy (London: Penguin Books Ltd.).
Wyss, Andr\'{e} R. (1989), Thicker than water: The ancestral ties between seals, sea lions, and walruses, {\em The Sciences} {\bf 29, } \#4, July/August, p.~34-37.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

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

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ 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 )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: