Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Is Evolution Evil?

This is from a debate that I had with a creationist who gave six reasons why evolution is evil.

> The "basic axiom" that the evolutionsts neglected to mention:
> Modern science is about the _verification_ of theories
> using observation and experiment, not conjecture and
> "imaginative reconstruction." The Darwinian philosophy
> that violates the philosophical first premises of
> "science:"
> 1] Darwin's theory of evolution "falsifies" teleology.

Not really. Teleology is about purpose. The purpose of Darwinian evolution is to make populations or organisms more well adapted to the environment over time.

Besides, that is a philosophical as opposed to a scientific criticism.

> 2] Darwin introduced historicity into science. Darwinian
> biology, in contrast to physics and chemistry, is a
> historical science - the Darwinian evolutionist attempts
> to explain events and processes that have long, long
> since taken place.


Geology preceded evolution so evolution hardly "introduced" historicity into science.

Even much of astronomy could be considered to be "historicity". When we look at a star a million light years from Earth, we are seeing what it looked like a million years ago.

> 2] Laws and experiments are inappropriate techniques
> for the explication of historical biological events
> and processes. Instead one constructs a historical
> narrative, consisting of a tentative reconstruction
> of the particular scenario that led to the events
> one is trying to explain. Laws give way to concepts
> in Darwinism. In the physical sciences theories are
> based on laws; for example, the laws of motion led
> to the theory of gravitation. In Darwinian biology,
> theories are based on concepts. These biological
> concepts, and the theories based on them, cannot be
> reduced to the laws and theories of the physical
> sciences. Observation, comparison and classification
> became the methods of evolutionary biology, not
> experimentation.

Nothing in biology is subject to the sorts of "laws" found in the physical sciences.

Even if we know the exact moment that a baby is conceived, it is impossible to calculate the exact
moment of birth.

We cannot calculate precisely how many cigarettes someone must smoke in order to develop lung cancer.

We can, on the other hand, calculate the exact time and location of the next solar eclipse.

If you are criticizing evolution for not developing "laws" then you must disqualify everything else in all of the biological sciences as well.

> 3] Darwin's theory of evolution is impervious to
> Popperian falsification.

Of course not!

Darwinian evolution would be falsified if a mammalian fossil was found in pre-cambrian rocks.

The talkorigins web site list about 100 different things which, if found, would falsify evolution.

> 4] Darwin's theory of common descent deprived man of
> his former unique position.

Just as heliocentrism deprived man of the view that he lived on a unique and "special" planet.

We seem to have adapted...

> 5] Darwin's theory of evolution is a "scientific
> foundation" for ethics.

In a positive or negative way?

Some people feel that showing that all life on Earth share a common ancestor gives us an ethical need to care for other life forms on Earth.

That's a good thing.

Besides, surely you can't contend that somehow falsfies evolution!!!

We could have an asteroid heading towards Earth that will destroy all life. If all of us somehow got together and voteed unanimously that the asteroid is morally evil, will it go away do you think?

> 6] Virtually every component in modern man's belief
> system is affected by Darwinian principles.

Some of them are positively affected.

An acceptance of evolution no longer requires a belief in a cruel God.

Here's something that the Scientist/theologian Francisco Ayala wrote:

Christian theology basically recognizes three types of evil: (1) moral evil, (2) pain and suffering, and (3) physical evil. Moral evil, or sin, is the result of free will. Theologians recognize that in order for humans to enter into a truly personal relationship with God, they must experience some degree of freedom. Without sin, there could not be virtue – it is impossible to do good without the capacity for evil. Likewise, pain and suffering are the result of free will. War and other human wrongdoing (like, say, slavery) happen because people chose to inflict harm on one another. However, there are also good deeds whereby people chose to alleviate human pain and suffering.

But what about droughts, floods, hurricanes, and other physical catastrophes? What about cruelty of nature? What about parasites that live only by destroying their hosts, or the carnivore's hunger for flesh, or the venom of a snake, or biological disease? These things are considered physical evils and were a problem for theologians for a long time because, even allowing for the evil associated with free will, there is an awful lot associated with the creation that does not seem to reflect the image of a perfect creator. Enter science. Since the enlightenment, we have known that the way galaxies form, that planets move, and that weather and storms operate are the result of natural processes that have been built into the structure of the world itself. They are not specifically designed by God for punishing or rewarding mankind. Galileo, Newton, and Einstein, therefore, were instrumental in explaining the real cause of physical evils.

In the same way, Darwin explained that predators, parasites, and disease were a consequence of evolution. They were not a result of deficient or malevolent design because these aspects of organisms were not designed by the creator. ...God, in His mercy, had to severely limit His contact with the creation following the fall because, once we became intertwined with sin, the perfect nature of God would have destroyed us on contact. The violence and heartlessness of nature are the result of God's necessary void that was brought about by our fall, not the result of God Himself. Therefore, I thank Darwin for his gift to science and religion.

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