My wife and I recently watched a documentary titled “The Genius of Charles Darwin”. The ignorance revealed throughout the 3 part series is overwhelming. Not on behalf of the narrator/presenter Richard Dawkins – the former Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University, a position he held from 1995-2008 – but rather on the part of many people he interviewed, most notably in the third segment of the series.
The question he poses is this: why is there even an ounce of disbelief in the theory of evolution? In fact it isn’t even a theory any more due to the amount of irrefutable evidence showing that evolution is a natural function of the known and unknown universe. Energy is always in motion, always changing, but never destroyed. Nevertheless, it isn’t the lack of evidence or prove-able material, quite the contrary; it is the absolute denial of the very things that make up one’s surroundings that absolutely rattles one’s skull.
Consider this: over millions upon millions of years of the Earth’s existence, life, in all its various forms and permutations, has been changing and adapting to its environment. Let’s take a very obvious case of the dinosaurs. Museums and Palaeontology labs around the world are stuffed with the bones of dinosaurs which we can see and touch. I’m sure if you spend enough time out in the plains of Arizona, you’ll find some for yourself. Moving on, amongst these dinosaurs existed herbivores and carnivores – those who ate plants and those who ate other dinosaurs respectively.
It is quite easy to see along the progression of dinosaur bodies over millions of years that as the carnivores became larger and more ferocious, the defensive mechanisms in the herbivores became more pronounced as in the case of the somewhat familiar Triceratops and Stegosaurus. This is just one small example among millions of other evolutionary modifications, and hopefully you get the point.
Now what strikes me as being terribly odd is that organized religion – particularly the many branches of the tree of Christianity (or any other for that matter) – has its own interpretation of the goings-on of the world. Imagine that! And these beliefs about the world and beyond are deduced through a multitude of interpretations of the Bible. How one book can create so many different ‘faiths’ under the umbrella of one religion is in and of itself grounds for refuting a lot of the nonsense that comes out of its talking heads. And by that, I mean the regulars – priests, pastors, bishops, cardinals, deacons, popes.
Yes, I am brushing them all in one broad stroke because while many of them grasp and accept science (probably only parts of it) their quintessential trump card is that “it is god’s will”. So regardless of whatever happens in the world – good or bad – it is written in a book of god. Really? Why is it that a god so omnipresent and omnipotent is so concerned with whether we lied about doing our homework last night? In a universe that is billions of light years wide, god decided to pick on us – especially because god decided not to make other forms of life on other planets in other solar systems in other galaxies? He’s probably been resting or on permanent vacation ever since the 6th day of creation. Sounds very unfair to me. He’ll probably send me to hell – particularly because he loves me and is so merciful. It boggles the mind.
Scientists are labelled as being closed minded. While I can agree that in some ways scientists can be closed minded (Egyptology for example), for the most part I haven’t seen this to be true. Organized religion on the other hand requires closed-mindedness. Even if you give generously.
Stalwarts of science like Richard Dawkins, Carl Sagan = heroes.
See Part 3 of the series here.