Thursday, September 4, 2014

Evolutionary Theory

Evolutionary theory is kind of obviously logically correct on the whole. While parts of it are disputed or a bit hazy sounding, it is often presented as ironclad when we know it will probably change a bit by future discoveries. I think of how many times the ideas about early primitive humans have changed in my lifetime. Or I think of how I was taught and believed the brontosaurus existed even though they were known since 1903 to have been a mistaken assemblage of bones. I think it was laziness that kept that myth going. Dinosaurs only recently have been studied in an extremely taxonomic way. There is also the theory that birds come from dinosaurs, a late blooming hypothesis. I actually feel I must provide this link to be believed about brontosaurs if you react like I did when I was told:

So, we can guess that any delivery of possible information as fact may be just a bit hopeful. Evolutionary theory, which I honestly believe in completely "on the whole," is often presented in a fact telling way. That is, specific parts of the theory that are weak in  evidence but fill holes are presented with a confident factual ambiance, when they actually matter very little as the preponderance of evidence is overwhelming in favor of the general theory. The theory is one of the greatest far reaching yet purely logical ideas ever imagined.

I have guessed that the reason theory is presented with a factual aura  has to do with evolution's competition with weirdly awful and completely unbelievable Biblical creationist theory.  While more scientific theories may turn out to have slight flaws over time, there is little doubt some of the "facts" assembled to support "creationism" are really reverse engineered to prove an assemblage of texts, from an ancient time written before science was an idea, to be excruciatingly literally correct scientifically and factual rather than metaphorical. And then really strange things happen-- like people living to be hundreds of years old and every animal on the planet, including dinosaurs, must be fit on a boat... well, perhaps, it is time to believe in a touch of factual nonsense.

Religion is hurt when believers must throw their scientific brains out the window. Further, adding a scientific underpinning (from some kind of "scientist" that seems suitable to be hired by a tobacco company to explain how smoking is good for everyone) really is searching only for a niche audience in the overall Christian or religious community. In gaining that niche it fights a battle that loses the war for recruitment of people from a more general pool.

So while we have an evolutionary theory which will most likely have a wrong bone here and there in it's assembled skeleton (as evidenced by other changing evolving theories in science), the tendency is to present the theory in a way that competes with trash logic. It is a lowest common denominator approach in the attempt to sound as confident as possible. Just like the creationists, many believe that the complete truth in every respect is knowable and, worse, already known.

This is not scientific.

This video presents the evolutionary theory accurate to the pieces we know and the pieces we intelligently guess at to fill in holes. It correctly omits pieces we need not include (the origin of life.) But I feel that slight twinge of regret that we cannot present the parts in which we have less confidence as more theoretical in nature. We do not need to compete with trash science so we should not feel the need to extinguish all doubt of every detail. Doubt is an important part of science.