Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Evolution and Consensus among Scientists

Here’s a fact: a very large percentage – arguably something approaching 99% - of professional scientists strongly support evolution.

Of course that doesn’t prove that evolution is a fact.  After all, science isn’t done by counting heads and history tells us that the scientific consensus can be wrong.  But it does, by itself, falsify some of the more frequent claims made by creationists.

For one thing, creationists say things like, “Evolution is a violation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics”.  But that sort of thing is utterly impossible to reconcile with such strong support of evolution by scientists.
Scientists really understand thermodynamics.   They really, really do.  Some of the scientific supporters of evolution actually teach thermodynamics at the collegiate level.  So how could scientists possibly so strongly support evolution if, in fact, it violated one or more of these fundamental scientific principles?  Wouldn’t they necessarily notice?  Making such a claim isn’t even rational.

Similarly, I’ve seen creationists say, ”There is NO evidence supporting evolution.” But how can that be true if so many scientists support evolution?

Scientists work in a profession that depends on evidence.  You wouldn’t get 50% - much less 90+% - support in the scientific community if there was no evidence.  I’m sure that it reassuring for one creationist to tell that to another, but it isn’t a rational argument.

There are other claims made by creationists that are similarly falsified by the mere fact of the strong consensus of scientists supporting evolution.

Possibly the most significant fact creationists have to deal with in the face of this strong scientific consensus is the fact that it guarantees that creationism will NEVER gain that consensus.  That’s because, that while the scientific consensus changes on things, it never goes backward.  The views of individual scientists will change and even go backwards.  But the views of the majority of scientists never go backwards.

Consider gravity.  The first “scientific” ideas about gravity came from Aristotle.  The Aristotelian explanation of gravity is that all bodies move toward their natural place.  Then, centuries later, Newton proposed that masses attract each other and even provided the mathematics to support it.  That became the strong scientific consensus.  Then Einstein proposed that mass actually curves space and slightly altered the math.  

That’s the current consensus.

It’s possible now that string theory will alter the scientific consensus regarding gravity yet again.

But if the consensus of the scientific community changes, it will NEVER go backwards.  In terms of gravity it’s possible that it will move onto something like string theory, but it will NEVER return to Newton’s ideas and certainly not to Aristotle’s.

History tells us that is always the case.  Once the scientific consensus changes, it never goes backwards.
Centuries ago the scientific consensus was Biblical creationism.  It has now changed to favor evolution.  It is conceivable that it will move onto something else.

But it will NEVER go back to favor Biblical creationism. 

No comments:

Post a Comment