Just a theory

Here‘s a perfect example of what I was referencing in my previous note, lest anyone believe I am tilting against imaginary windmills.

Anyone who uses the argument of “how do you reconcile the increase in order and complexity described by evolution with the second law of thermodynamics” understands neither concept. It’s a potentially interesting question for a beginning student to ask when first learning about either idea, but to pose it as a “challenge” to evolution supporters as if it were somehow an unanswered mystery that casts doubt on the theory is either chutzpah of the highest order, or a demonstration of a lack of intellectual curiosity that is simply staggering.

But here is an “authority” figure setting up his followers to look like fools by making them think that these are intelligent questions to ask, and not simple questions that can be answered in practically any introductory text in biology, cosmology and physics.  He wants students to ask these questions in class, not because he wants them to learn the real answers, but because he believes scientists and teachers cannot answer them.  Does he know the truth? Or (the more charitable explanation) is he just plain ignorant and/or unable to crack open a book? And with either answer, do you trust his authority on any other field of inquiry given his attitude towards this one? And is the command to “Insist on evidence not just explanation” at the beginning of the list not an example of incredible irony?

The appropriate response to that command is to ask for the standard of evidence he uses to demand acceptance of the story of Moses and the burning bush, and to say that we are, in all likelihood, able to meet that standard and far, far more.

I wish I could say that these are the outliers, the exceptions, the lunatic fringe: but according to Gallup polls, only 39% of people in the US accept that “humans being, as we know them, developed from earlier species of animals”. A question that 99.99% of experts in biology and related fields accept as well-established fact, like scientists who depend on the truth of evolution to work on vaccines that keep the other 61% alive and healthy.

But it’s “just a theory”. Like “germs”, or “gravity”.

If you choose “willful ignorance” as your standard of inquiry, at least have the decency to keep it to yourself, instead of smearing it around the people who look to you for answers. And when a person with this “authority” gives you his opinion on contraception, abortion, same-sex marriage, evolution, healthcare, what should or should not be included in standard textbooks in public schools, how we should interpret the Constitution and on what principles we should base our laws, feel free to look them in the eye and gracefully thank them for their opinions; but don’t feel any obligation to be anything other than completely skeptical about their claims of knowledge.


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