MadSci Network: Evolution

Re: Why should I believe in evelution?

Date: Thu May 18 15:22:40 2000
Posted By: Dan Berger, Faculty Chemistry/Science, Bluffton College
Area of science: Evolution
ID: 957829509.Ev

Why should I believe in evolution?

I am doing a science project on evolution and why or why not people should believe in it.


There's a difference between believing and believing in, just as there is a difference between believing and knowing. To believe in evolution is to trust it to solve the world's problems; not too satisfying unless, as some do, you radically redefine "solve" and "problems." Such a faith has been called evolutionism; C.S. Lewis called it "progressive evolution" in his essay "The Funeral of a Great Myth"--and pointed out that it predates Darwin by at least fifty years.

To believe that evolution occurs is something different, and based on evidence. I am not qualified to go through all the evidence because it's not my specialty; you should explore the links given below for more.

There is no question that the Earth and the Universe are very old; that the Universe is older than the Earth; and that there has been a continuous stream of life forms on the Earth for about the last 3.8 billion years. Furthermore, more complex forms of life tend to appear later in this stream than less complex ones, although of course many less complex forms have survived and developed down to the present day. All these things are known.

There are lots of people who deny these facts. To them I must repeat a truth opposed to the spirit of our times: NOT ALL OPINIONS ARE EQUALLY VALID.
The theory of evolution (and I use "theory" in the scientific sense of an explanation for observed facts, not in the popular sense of something which is tentative) explains a good deal of what we know about the history of living things. It is well-supported by the evidence and I don't know of any counter- examples; those who work in the field say that there aren't any, and since that's their area of competence I'm inclined to trust them.

The established facts and the testimony of experts lead to the conclusion that it's reasonable to believe that evolution has occurred and does occur; to believe in it has no more (I'd say quite a lot less) basis than any other religious faith.


Dan Berger
Bluffton College

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