I woke up fairly early this morning thinking about the whole evolution thing – that was before I went back to sleep and had that really annoying dream, but that’s another story. I haven’t finished reading that Dover court decision yet (it’s not very entertaining reading – Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is much better), but I will at least skim the rest. In my first post on the issue, I accused Gary Trudeau of being clueless, and thought I should explain what I mean.
First, it should be noted that there are many varied definitions of “evolution,” so there’s a good chance that any discussion on the topic (including testimony at the Dover trial) will involve people using the same words, but talking about very different issues. A very basic “scientific” definition is “any change in gene (allele) frequency in a population over time.” Another definition, by Ernst Mayr (considered one of the premier evolutionary biologists) is the “gradual process by which the living world have been developing following the origin of life.” So far, it’s pretty hard to argue with these rather open definitions.
Creationists and non-scientific folk, on the other hand, typically define evolution as the process by which “primordial soup” morphed into contemporary life-forms, including a process by which man and apes evolved from common ancestors.
Then, there are varying interpretations of microevolution and macroevolution. The above “scientific” definitions would tend to encompass both of these, whereas Creationists see totally separate concepts. The typical Creationist would define microevolution as the changes (adaptations) that occur within a species, which most would accept as pretty obvious, such as people being taller on average today than 100 years ago. Macorevolution, on the other hand, means one species morphing into a new, genetically separate species.
It’s impossible to discuss without first agreeing on the definitions. What Trudeau doesn’t understand is that you can accept intra-special evolution (that is, changes to a species over time without becoming a different species) while still holding that God created Adam and Eve as stated in Genesis, and proving one doesn’t disprove the other.
But, no one (especially the evolutionists, I’m guessing) wants to clearly define the terms; it’s harder to keep the myth alive if everyone knows what you are talking about.
If we want to find truth, it would help if people would agree that truth is the real goal. This means accepting the risk that one or both (or all) are possibly – even probably – wrong about some things. Creationists tend to fall back on theological presuppositions, and scientists resort to faulty logic and playing with definitions. It’s a useless debate, at this point, except that the public is as clueless as usual. Most people will just pick whatever they find the easiest (least personally painful) to believe in, although I doubt that most could talk intelligently about their particular belief.
The side that defines the issues usually controls the issues; to this extent, the evolutionists appear to be winning. However, these victories do nothing to advance truth, since truth is not the goal, or even the issue. Rather, the goal – apparently to both sides – is merely control.