The big problem with evolution

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As evolution became widely accepted in the 1870s, caricatures of Charles Darwin with an ape or monkey body symbolised evolution/Wikipedia
As evolution became widely accepted in the 1870s, caricatures of Charles Darwin with an ape or monkey body symbolised evolution/Wikipedia

Evolution has a problem, and I think it’s a big problem.  If I expose this problem, think of the acclaim I’ll get. Move over, Einstein. Meyer's law will be bigger than E=mc2.  My mug will be pasted all over the blogs, websites and news shows. I'll have honors and awards at conventions and ceremonies. I’ll have halls named after me at colleges and universities. With all the royalties, speaking fees, and grants I'll receive, I'll be set for life. My kids will be rock stars and celebrities, spending their time on reality TV like the Kardashians.  

Oops!  Maybe I went too far. 

But that exposes the big problem with evolution. Darwin first published his theory in November of 1859. That was over 150 years ago. Evolution has been studied, critiqued, attacked, picked apart and lambasted more than any other theory in the history of the world. And yet it still stands strong. This isn’t because of some sinister scientific conspiracy. Scientists might collaborate, but don’t let that fool you. It’s a competitive sport. Every young scientist wants to make a name for herself. They all want to make the big breakthrough, grab the big headlines, and be the big rock stars. No, the most obvious reason no one has proved Darwin wrong after more than a 150 years is because he was right. If it were even remotely possible to show that evolutionary theory was wrong, someone would have done it by now.  The big problem with evolution is that it’s the truth. 

Yes, I’ve heard all about the Kent Hams, the Ken Hovinds, and the other opposition groups. But these people are entertainers. They are not scientists and what they do cannot be called science. They have not formed hypothesis, performed controlled experiments, published their results in a valid scientific journal, and allowed for corroboration by their peers.  Nobody intimately involved with the scientific process takes them seriously. 

But there’s an even bigger problem. It’s a problem of the truth itself. Sooner or later, truth has a way of being found out. Those who find themselves on the wrong side of that truth have a tendency of disappearing from history. And unfortunately it’s even worse than that. The fallout from theologians contesting evolutionary theory has been a dramatic rise of atheism among young people. I really believe religious institutions are responsible, not the culture.  The culture accepts evolution; places of worship are in denial. If religions insist on denying evolution to those who sit in the pews, eventually there will be nobody left in the pews, young or old. Religion will lose an entire generation or more. That is the big problem with evolution.

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30 comments

  1. wow…that last few paragraphs were…well, um, I…ugh. I’m not sure i’ve read someone say something so bold in a while. In fact, if this doesn’t get some kind of response on a level worhty of debate…my hope in this Spokanefav thing is going to be shattered. Brice you got some kahonas, i’ll give you that. I so disagree with you…in all the emotive wail of Luke Skywalker, I too say “NOOOOOOoooooooooooo” (http://youtu.be/h6sj89xgnl4). You are Darth Vader.

  2. I meant, ‘Bruce’…

  3. Zach Oxford-Romeike

    Definitely a refreshing read. I was ready to come in here for a debate when I saw the title of the piece, but you summed it up rather well: if there WAS an issue with evolution, as so many claim, it would be all through-out the media and the person to find it would be getting critically acclaimed. Don’t even get me started on the people who claim that “evolution is just a theory and hasn’t been proven one way or the other”…

  4. Thanks Bruce! It is critically important that we as people of faith are supporters of all things that encompass truth, wisdom, and the way things really are in the universe. Otherwise, what is the point?

  5. Hanane Neff-Loutf

    That image is so deceptive, I absolutely believe in PROVEN evolution which shows the power of God. But to say we humans are from apes that’s one of the biggest lies of our time, and actually you have to take a leap of faith to believe in it… yeah it works both ways.

    Bruce, what truth you’re talking about here?

  6. Hanane I shouldn’t answer for Bruce but the fossil record clearly shows the record of evolution from the ancestors of humans to modern humans today. You have to willfully ignore a lot of real, tangible evidence in order to believe otherwise. The fossil record of today is a lot more thorough than it was in Darwin’s time, or even a few decades ago.

  7. Clearly Sam…REALLY!?!? ARGHHHHHHHHH!!!! You got to be kidding me man? ;/ Oh man, I am hanging my head in bewilderment. Now I will only buy you a light beer, when we get together and a probably a banana.

  8. Haha, and a banana? OK, that was hilarious.

  9. Hanane Neff-Loutf

    Sam, maybe you shouldn’t answer for Bruce. No offense 🙂

  10. Bruce, what gives, where you hiding…grenade thrower? What you got a real job or something?

  11. I’m sorry, all. I’m rendered stunned and speechless.

  12. FYI: Bruce is at a conference today but he knows about the conversation and says he’ll logon when he can

  13. Thank you everyone for your comments. I apologize for my late response, but I’ve been at an electrical conference all day and into the evening. I consider it a great honor to be compared with Darth Vader!!!!

    I don’t intend to offend anyone, but I’m sincerely troubled by the opposition to evolution. I mean no disrespect in any way, so I hope you’ll see this as a challenge for further consideration:

    As people of religion, I think we all consider humility an important virtue to be pursued. I would think humility before God, whether Christian, Muslim, Mormon, or any other theology would be of paramount importance. Much of the opposition to evolution, as I have observed, has been theologians, engineers, carpenters, and so many other occupations voicing their disbelief that God would create humanity in such and such a manner. But are you an evolutionary scientist? Do you have the college training and the many years of experience it takes to be an expert in the field of evolution?

    Please allow me to take this thought a step further. Who are you to tell God how or how not to create the human race? If evolutionary scientists tell us that the facts point to God creating life from flobberworms from the planet beetlejuice, who are you to tell God He cannot create life in this way?

    Do you point to a holy book such as the Bible for your opposition? Are you so very certain you have the interpretation of that book right? I can only speak from the Christian tradition, but I know from the writings of Christian greats such as Origen, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, and Anselm, that they were not so certain of such an interpretation. Do you claim to be greater than they? I don’t believe Muhammad made such a claim (although I don’t know the Koran very well). Are you greater than Muhammad?

    My appeal is that as people of religion, we allow the scientists to do their work. Do it one better, embrace the findings of the scientific community, and thank them for helping us to better interpret our holy books. And if for some reason Darwin’s theory needs to be corrected at some point in the future, accept this also with humility. The opposition only pushes people away from God. As people of religion, aren’t we more about winning lives to God than being right?

    I apologize that I will once again be at an electrical conference tomorrow, probably late into the evening. But I appreciate everyone’s discussion and contribution, and I will continue to participate as my work schedule allows.

  14. Hanane Neff-Loutf

    Hi Bruce,

    What I was expecting to read is a confirmation that I am related to Lucy, what you claim to be the truth.

    I don’t know about the bible but the Quran is very clear about the creation of Man, God describes exactly how Adam was made. Now like I’ve always said there is nothing in Islam that makes me deny a scientific fact… But for now why should I give up what God says for some speculations? you see, I am closer to the truth than you are because I have faith on something that is NOT proven wrong, but you seem to have faith in something that is proven wrong.

    Although many people paint all religions with the same brush, I invite you to take a look at the Quran, I am sure you will not need interpretations specially on scientific matters…

    Please take a look at this article:

    “…Darwin’s claim that human beings evolved from a common ancestor; the great apes, in an evolutionary chain which extends back to life in the primordial soup, is incompatible with the Quranic account of Man’s origin. The Qur’an is catagorical about the common ancestor of humanity being the Prophet Adam, peace be upon him. When your Lord said to the angels, informs the Qur’an, “I am creating a human being from clay. So when I have fashioned him and breathed into him of My spirit, then fall down before him prostrate.” The angels fell down prostrate, all of them. Except Satan; he was proud and became one of the disbelievers. He said: “O Iblis! What prevents you from prostrating before that which I created with My two hands? Are you too proud, or think you too exalted of yourself?” He said: “I am better than him, You created me of fire while him you created of clay. What the above goes to show is that the creation of the first human being is special, unique and different than all other life forms; even if there are physical and biological similarities with other terrestrial life. For God not only fashioned him, but did so with His two hands, and breathed into him of His spirit. Those learned in Quranic exegesis explain the spirit (ruh) to mean – not that ‘a part of God’ was breathed into Adam – but to: “An incorporeal, life-giving substance coursing through man, which God ascribes to Himself as a mark of honour and distinction.”Which is to say that Adam, the first human being (as well as all his descendents), is a sacred, exalted and noble creation. To claim man evolved from a non-human species contradicts the truth told to us in the Qur’an about Adam’s special creation, and is therefore disbelief.
    I suppose a summary of Islam’s stance towards the theory of evolution can be distilled in the following points: (i) God alone causes all that is to be or to not be. The flora and fauna of the world is His work alone, without associate. (ii) Causes and effects are both created by God and have no autonomy from Him. To believe causes have efficacy in and of themselves is shirk – ascribing ‘associates’ to God. Causal autonomy is what is generally understood by terms like ‘natural selection’ and ‘random mutation’.(iii) To believe that man evolved out of lower life forms is disbelief, regardless of whether the process is ascribed to God or to ‘natural selection’. This denies what the Qur’an tells us of Adam’s special creation. If, as the fossil records show, fairly-intelligent tool-using bipeds existed in Earth’s past history, they are not the ancestors of humanity nor the predecessors of Adam. Facts about human-like fossils are one thing, theories and speculation about their links to human beings are another thing altogether.”

    http://www.jawziyyah.com/2009/11/evolution-prayer-mats-telescopes-2/#comment-104

    Thanks.

  15. Isn’t there a line between spiritual faith and willful ignorance? What is the point in believing in something when all the facts contradict it? And don’t we as humans have a responsibility to do our diligence and find out what really is true, rather than rely on dogmas? If someone tells you to believe something that everyone else says is false (and can present a growing body of real evidence to back up the claim), how do you know whether or not you should believe it?

  16. Hanane Neff-Loutf

    If you are talking to me, I don’t believe in anything that contradicts ONE fact let alone many! I don’t know about you?

    Can you do me a favor and search what Islam has to say about science in general and evolution in particular… You know Islam challenges people to go and look for the signs of the creation, understand life and the universe… there is nothing as blind faith in Islam, everything has to be logical and rational, seeking knowledge is a mandate for every muslim. Nothing in Islam contradict science at all.

    Here is a homework for you,

    http://www.sunnahonline.com/ilm/quran/qms.pdf

    And again there is nothing as blind faith for us, we believe in that which makes sense. Humans evolved from apes just doesn’t make sense.

  17. Hanane-

    How can you be sure about yours or anyone else’s interpretation of what the Quran says? The account you wrote above could mean one thing to one reader, and something totally different to another. Science is very careful about claims. There is a scientific method that is followed, which details hypothesis, controlled experiment, publication of the results in a respectable journal, and then long years of corroboration/further experimentation by a peer group. A scientist does not even criticize another scientist’s results except through this method. What is the carefully controlled method by which truth claims are made from the Quran? This doesn’t have anything to do with whether the Quran is right or wrong. No one is saying the account in the Quran or the Bible is wrong, the question is with proper interpretation.

    One of my favorite philosophers and theologians, Augustine, said that interpretation (of the Bible) should always be held provisionally. If at some point natural philosophy (science didn’t exist at his time) shows the interpretation to be wrong, then it should be corrected.

    Scientists correct their understanding of the world with every passing experiment. Why is it so difficult for theologians to correct their interpretation of the holy books they study when results from another discipline show them to be wrong?

  18. Hanane Neff-Loutf

    Ok, again, specially when it comes to the creation of Adam, the Quran doesn’t need interpretation, God explains how He created the first human, from dust to mud to shaping him in a BEAUTIFUL form, to breathing life into him, to giving him knowledge of all things. God is vey clear about granting humans an INTELLECT, a MIND since Adam and in many places the Quran call humans by children of Adam.

    So this will solve the issue of interpretation.

  19. Every written and every spoken word requires interpretation. For everything that is said, there is always at least three meanings: there is the message the speaker meant herself, there is the message each listener heard, and there is a third message that only God knows. You or I can never be sure of what is meant by what is said or written.

  20. Sam- you bring up a great point about the line between faith and facts. i agree that when facts point to our faith being in error, we should be diligent to correct that error. I think Augustine said the same thing when he said faith should be informed by natural philosophy.

  21. Hanane Neff-Loutf

    Bruce, what is to be interpreted in the creation of Adam from the Quran point of view?

    Why are we shifting from the very problem we have with your post? ” The big problem with evolution is that it’s the truth. ”

    A good scientist would never claim such thing.

    Are you asking people of faith (in my case, muslims) to correct their belief based on unproven information, speculation?

  22. I’m just going to leave this hand grenade here… 🙂

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6oxTMUTOz0w

  23. Hanane Neff-Loutf

    Hi Sam, so what have you proved from this video? What this has to do with the subject of “humans evolving from apes to be a TRUE FACT”? But thanks for the reminder about the islamic civilization  i am well aware and proud of it.
    Just to let you know, the theory of evolution had been put forward by muslim intellectuals way before darwin, below is my reply to a similar post. See, there is nothing in islam that restricts exploring and searching for truth, Islam and science go hand on hand. 
    When Al-Jahith  addressed the subject of evolution,  muslim scientists were leading the world. Muslims didn’t claim the earth to be flat nor that it’s 6000 years… What your speaker doesn’t tell you is that when muslims left their religion that’s when the symptoms of a decline start to appear, when leaders were focusing on their personal interests, drinking and enjoying belly dancers and music… The real fall happened after colonialism  when western forces imposed and still does a secular education on muslims.
    Again, I am all for any evolution that is proven true, in fact one of God’s names in the Quran is the Evolver. I only have problems when something is said to be TRUTH while it’s NOT. This is my issue with this post.

     “Hanane Neff-Loutf | Feb 1, 2012 | 6:45pm

    What is also sad is the fact that many people paint all religions with the same brush when it comes to this issue of evolution and faith.
    I believe that a true religion cannot and should not contradict a scientific FACT.
    How can a religious scripture survive eternaly when we do not have miracles anymore and when there is a huge emphasis on science? we need to be openminded and use our intelect… Nothing is wrong with accepting that things evolve and that God makes them evolve.

    The evolution theory is now more like the “No God theory”, books written by atheists and billions of Dollars are spent to prove that we are from monkeys. Even if we suppose that it is true, where do monkeys come from? oh from a green thing in water blabla… ok, and where that green thing come from? and why do monkeys still exist?
    There no such thing as spontaneous generation of life, yes there are mutations but there is nothing as random mutations, everything is directed toward something precised which has a purpose.

    Wait a second who said that Dawrin is the first to talk about this? here are some different news:
    – In the Book of Animals, Al-Jahith (or Al Jahiz) (781-869), a Muslim intellectual was the first to speculate on the influence of the environment on species. He said: “Animals engage in a struggle for existence; for resources, to avoid being eaten and to breed. Environmental factors influence organisms to develop new characteristics to ensure survival, thus transforming into new species. Animals that survive to breed can pass on their successful characteristics to offspring.”

    Many other muslim scientists have talked about this, Ibn Khaldun, Ibn Kathir…

    Even Darwin himself calls it the “Mohammedan Theory”.

  24. Hanane- I like what Augustine said about truth, that all truth is God’s truth. You and I don’t have it. But after more than 150 years, evolution is on the right road. It is a very well tested theory with a great deal of evidence in its favor. Those who oppose evolution are going the way of the Flat Earth Society.

  25. Sam- Thanks for the video! I’ve taken one of those video courses from that professor before. Is that Dr. Neil Tyson?

  26. The very same! He is one of my favorite people in the world. Neil deGrasse Tyson for president!

  27. I’ll vote for him!

  28. Hanane Neff-Loutf

    Bruce please note that i am note opposed to exploring evolution I am only against believing in it as an established and well recongnized truth and unfortunately that’s what you claim in your post. It even goes against what you quote from Augustine that the truth is God’s truth.
    Am i wrong?

  29. I would say that after 150 years of evidence, analysis, and critique that evolution has become a well-tested truth.

  30. Bruce,

    You ask “who am I” to do or say this or that. Well, I’m Navazoartorom, elected being of the Zoombazoid Galaxy and I trump your answers with my full house of greater intellect and experience and ability to travel through space in my dreams. Who are you to deny or contradict my truth and interpretations of the universe?

    ….We interrupt this diatribe of looniness to make an observation….

    This is what I think about when sane people use “its your interpretation” answer to every claim about things from soup to stars. Nothing can be true with such a donkey kick of a response to every idea. In the end I guess all of life is one big “yah butt”.

    It’s exhausting.

    In the end most of humanity has shown and oriven themselves to be Monkeys and Monsters more than men. Mankind is noosing themselves with their knowledge. It will be evolutionist-biologist-physicists-secularists that will probably dream up the next big Government funded weapon that will wipe all our Neanderthal butts off this flat…I mean round, earth anyway.

    THAT is why humanity needs saved.

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