Video: Evolution Explained


(system) #1

I ran across this video on a conservative blog, Little Green Footballs. It's really good and provides some helpful graphical illustration and clearly presented evidence for understanding evolution. It smartly dismisses the popular, lazy canard that it takes just as much faith or chance to believe in a six-day creation as it does to take creation through evolution seriously.

There is a slight reference to the fundamentalist banana argument. Here's one example in this video that's been pretty popular thanks its crystal clear logic and research methodology. On the topic, Clifford Goldstein once wrote: "How did the banana--which I assume that homo this and homo that and homo the other liked to eat, just as we homo sapiens do--evolve (italics in the original)?"

Down in Texas, Christopher Hitchens reflects on the history of the debate:

. . .this battle can be seen as the last stand of the Protestant evangelicals with whom I was mingling and debating. It's been a rather dismal time for them lately. In the last election they barely had a candidate after Mike Huckabee dropped out and, some would say, not much of one before that. Many Republicans now see them as more of a liability than an asset. As a proportion of the population they are shrinking, and in ethical terms they find themselves more and more in the wilderness of what some of them morosely called, in conversation with me, a "post-Christian society." Perhaps more than any one thing, the resounding courtroom defeat that they suffered in December 2005 in the conservative district of Dover, Pa., where the "intelligent design" plaintiffs were all but accused of fraud by a Republican judge, has placed them on the defensive.

. . .

The last times that evangelical Protestantism won cultural/ political victories—by banning the sale of alcohol, prohibiting the teaching of evolution and restricting immigration from Catholic countries—the triumphs all turned out to be Pyrrhic. There are some successes that are simply not survivable. If by any combination of luck and coincidence any religious coalition ever did succeed in criminalizing abortion, say, or mandating school prayer, it would swiftly become the victim of a backlash that would make it rue the day. This will apply with redoubled force to any initiative that asks the United States to trade its hard-won scientific preeminence against its private and unofficial pieties. This country is so constituted that no one group, and certainly no one confessional group, is able to dictate its own standards to the others. There are days when I almost wish the fundamentalists could get their own way, just so that they would find out what would happen to them.

Perhaps dimly aware that they don't want a total victory, either, McLeroy and his allies now say that they ask for evolution to be taught only with all its "strengths and weaknesses." But in this, they are surely being somewhat disingenuous. When their faction was strong enough to demand an outright ban on the teaching of what they call "Darwinism," they had such a ban written into law in several states. Since the defeat and discredit of that policy, they have passed through several stages of what I am going to have to call evolution. First, they tried to get "secular humanism" classified as a "religion," so that it would meet the First Amendment's disqualification for being taught with taxpayers' money. (That bright idea was Pat Robertson's.) Then they came up with the formulation of "creation science," picking up on anomalies and gaps in evolution and on differences between scientific Darwinists like Richard Dawkins and Stephen Jay Gould. Next came the ingratiating plea for "equal time"—what could be more American than that?—and now we have the rebranded new coinage of "intelligent design" and the fresh complaint that its brave advocates are, so goes the title of a recent self-pitying documentary, simply "expelled" from the discourse.

It's not just that the overwhelming majority of scientists are now convinced that evolution is inscribed in the fossil record and in the lineaments of molecular biology. It is more that evolutionists will say in advance which evidence, if found, would refute them and force them to reconsider. ("Rabbit fossils in the pre-Cambrian layer" was, I seem to remember, the response of Prof. J.B.S. Haldane.) Try asking an "intelligent design" advocate to stipulate upfront what would constitute refutation of his world view and you will easily see the difference between the scientific method and the pseudoscientific one.

While many serious Adventist scientists have stayed away from these political fads and kept the faith, it's interesting to watch various opinion leaders and lay apologists move through this neological column over time. With some of them it sometimes just feels like a reverse popularity contest: no one wants to appear too ahead of the general conventional wisdom, no matter the evidence.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/1559