Questioning evolution


Many see the rejection of evolutionary science as a marker of religiosity or hard-line conservativism. There is a widespread assumption that religious people will find it hard to reconcile evolutionary science, and by extension science as a whole, with their religious beliefs. However, our new research turns some of this thinking on its head.

This article is about a survey that asked whether people believe evolution and if not what their feeling is about science. Not necessarily exciting stuff, but the last paragraph is right on what we’ve been talking about lately.

Even as a lifelong atheist I can see it is entirely disingenuous and unempirical to deny that we are in some ways different from the other species with which we share our planet. And perhaps, fundamentally, it is this continual quest and ability to question our place in the world and the universe that truly makes us human.


3 thoughts on “Questioning evolution

  1. Just to be clear, the first and third paragraphs are from the article. It was the third paragraph that really caught my eye as it’s very apropos to our ongoing discussions.

  2. (Whaaat this fancy template can’t handle double pull quotes? ;-D I was confused by the second quote for a second, maybe you should at least put it in old fashioned quote marks.)

    Karen Armstrong’s books tell a tale of how an earlier generation, early enlightenment, saw christianity hooking up its wagon to science- justified to the extent that a watchmaker god seemed about as good an explanation as anything in a pre-Darwin world. Later as science’s explanation pulled away from all but poetic interpretations of the religious texts, some people – especially in the USA – decided to double down and cast dispersion on the facts rather than the literal connections.

    I guess some people need their book to be literally true. (myself included, as a child, though I had a more tempered view as a young teen before losing my faith) You have to be pretty sophisticated to accept a holy book as have a deep and rich historical meaning and giver of purpose but play loose with literal historical facts – you have to ask where the process ends, where you say “ok, this is the part that’s the bedrock”, and who gets to decide where to make that line? (Not to mention REALLY squinting around that “if Christ is not risen than our faith is in vain” shtick, tied in so deeply with religions promise of eternal life. Pie in the sky when you die!!)

    I don’t know what the numbers actually are (though a surprising number of public figures seem willing to come out in favor of it) but the support I hear for “Flat Earth” is just gobsmacking. I see strong parallels. As sort of smart monkeys evolution hasn’t granted us super deep, instant understanding of the universe the way it is in its mysterious complexity – I mean hell would you even think of atomic theory if it wasn’t explained to you? (well maybe playing with legos as a kid you might… but I digress!) So we have a choice: trust our senses and intuition (heavily influenced by the information we are fed as young children) or trust a system that has done more to reach out and really deeply LOOK, and that has skepticism built in as a feature, with claims that are always verifiable, but sometimes actually very hard to verify for yourself.

  3. As always, lots of stuff to get into. I did a quick look and the number of Americans who believe that the Bible is the literal word of God or take the Bible literally (the wording doesn’t seem to matter) is decreasing. A May 2017 survey put the number at 24%, down from 30% a few years ago. But a much larger percentage, 75%, believe that the Bible is in some way connected to God, although not necessarily to be taken literally. Here’s a Gallup poll from 2014:

    While evolution can explain how humans evolved from apes, and how apes evolved from …, science is still working out how life itself started. There are lots of theories. I’m interested in how DNA and the genetic codes therein came into being. There are theories that it could form from components that can be formed from smaller components and so on. Sure, that’s chemistry and physics. But as a former programmer, the coding is what amazes me. I’m not saying that some superior being started things off, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

    I think you’re spot on when you say that our senses and intuition are heavily influenced by the information we are fed as young children. What surprises me is how few seem to question what they are exposed to.

    It’s been shown that religion and religious training is not necessary to produce moral and ethical adults. In fact, for humans, one could argue that being moral and ethical is a survival trait and beneficial to reproducing and continuing one’s lineage.

    An individual’s senses and intuition are based on that individual’s unique makeup and experiences. Add perceptions to that. So my perception of the world is different from yours. Who’s right? You, me, neither, or both? Science attempts to go beyond perception and get to the objective truth.

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