Why Evolution Works (and Creationism Fails)

Why Evolution Works (and Creationism Fails)

Why Evolution Works (and Creationism Fails)

Why Evolution Works (and Creationism Fails)

Synopsis

Why Evolution Works (and Creationism Fails) is an impassioned argument in favor of science--primarily the theory of evolution--and against creationism. Why impassioned? Should not scientists be dispassionate in their work? "Perhaps," write the authors, "but it is impossible to remain neutral when our most successful scientific theories are under attack, for religious and other reasons, by laypeople and even some scientists who willfully distort scientific findings and use them for their own purposes."

Focusing on what other books omit, how science works and how pseudoscience works, Matt Young and Paul K. Strode demonstrate the futility of "scientific" creationism. They debunk the notion of intelligent design and other arguments that show evolution could not have produced life in its present form.

Concluding with a frank discussion of science and religion, Why Evolution Works (and Creationism Fails) argues that science by no means excludes religion, though it ought tocast doubt on certain religious claims that are contrary to known scientific fact.

Excerpt

Some time ago after a public lecture I gave, I had the pleasure of a long and fascinating conversation with several young men who were obviously very intelligent, educated, conservative Christians. They had good questions and they listened to what responses I could offer them, and in return, they were able to ponder some of my own questions for them and provide good answers.

They asked me why, if evolution was governed by random processes, it was not completely incompatible with the idea that there was a purpose and meaning to life, one that could be directed by a divine Creator. This is a good question, but it also begs the question that evolution is in fact governed by random processes. It isn’t. Natural selection, the great insight of Darwin and Wallace, is anything but random, which is also true of sexual selection, Darwin’s other great evolutionary process. In fact, I don’t know of any really important processes in evolution that are random (random drift is one, but we don’t know how important it is; neutral evolution isn’t important to evolution until something happens to it, which is usually selective). When we talk about “random mutations,” we’re not talking about causes or effects of mutations (anything can’t happen), but about the distribution of predictable effects of mutations in populations (we can know risk factors, causes, and statistical incidences, but we can’t predict in advance which individuals will be affected). For scientists, “random” is just a term that describes the statistical distribution of some known effect in a sample.

So, if evolution is not random, does it still deny a purpose or meaning to life? These really aren’t questions for science, at least in the sense of ethics, aesthetics, or morals. The purpose of life is to make more life: to survive and reproduce. This is not a conscious purpose of any organisms except humans, as far as we know, but without surviving and reproducing, a species becomes extinct. Then, does life have a direction? The only direction in science is time, and we know from our studies of the evolution of life that species have evolved through time by changing and adapting to whatever the physical environment and other organisms throw at them. This history—or macrohistory, if you will—is certainly a direction, a chronicle of events and changes through time from which we derive ideas about patterns and processes. And beyond this, science does not go.

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