We obtain all of our knowledge from what is presented to us. It is not a choice of what one wishes to believe, but ignorance that pushes someone into a sympathetic worldview. Evolutionism and creationism are far too often the subject of debate, and seem so particularly trivial to even debate scientific fact from menial hopes that hold onto threads of denial. A dangerous amount of people still cling to unreliable doctrines that have been rewritten and reworded for thousands of years and ignore the facts and evidence that contradict these juvenile beliefs due to a conflict of interest.
Abiogenesis is the study of life’s origins arising from inanimate matter, where chemical reactions took place that synthesized organic compounds from inorganic predecessors. This has been tested with the formation of the amino acids necessary for life under primitive earth conditions in the Miller-Urey experiment (a re-analysis of the experiment revealed that 22, rather than five amino acids were created in one of the testing apparatuses). Once life has formed on earth, evolution follows. Evolution is the change from one generation to the next through mutations or transfer of the genes, hypothesizing that all species are descended from a common ancestor. Although these changes can be miniscule, the accumulation over a long period of time reveal palpable differences that branch off from one another to potentially result in the emergence of new species. These differences diminish or maintain themselves through natural selection. Natural selection is where these genetic mutations exhibit their functionality by hindering or abetting to a species survival. If the gene is beneficial, the species will more than likely flourish and the population will eventually be dominated by the gene through successive generations (the primary factor of speciation). Evolution can be seen in transitory fossils, which will be discussed below.
Perhaps my favorite visualization for evolution is the “Hairpin Thought Experiment” presented by Richard Dawkins in his book, “The Greatest Show on Earth.” He tells us to think of a female rabbit and imagine her mother next to her, and then her grandmother, and so on until you have a lineage of rabbits extending back through the multitude of years. As we follow this path of ancestral ascendants, we begin to notice minute changes between the rabbits we are passing compared the modern rabbits we are familiar with (this change is not immediately noticeable and can be compared to watching the hour hand on a clock move). As we scope a mother to her daughter to a century’s antecedent to a millennia’s divergence, the disparities become much more apparent. Eventually down the line, when rabbits are not so rabbity and much more shrew-like, we make a “hairpin turn” and begin to follow another line of progeny from the ancestral pre-rabbit mammal. Eventually, while following a certain path of daughterly descent, we will find our way to the modern leopard.
Creationism, in the opposing spectrum, is a religious belief that everything was created by a supernatural being or beings. Creation myths can vary greatly between the different cultures, histories, and religions. Belief in creationism can be a religious motivation to reject science and complexity by denouncing naturalism and crediting a deity. Since everything just “became” in the beginning, the creation story eliminates the desire for a scientific explanation such as abiogenesis and evolution and even aims to discredit science with vehement religious denial. Creationists claim that radiometric dating generates false results and that there are just far too many gaps in the fossil record to say evolution occurred. It is also argued that evolution is unfalsifiable.
Focusing on Christian creationism, the origins of man and the universe are ascribed to the God as written in the book of Genesis in the Bible, saying that God created the heavens, the earth, all plants and animals, and man within six days. This story has been adhered to and interpreted in two primary ways: Young Earth Creationism and Gap Creationism. The young earth belief takes the Genesis creation the most literal, in that God created all in six, 24-hour days, taking account of the scriptural timeline that determines the age of the earth to be approximately 6,000 years old. Gap creationism is an old earth creationist notion that postulates that the six ‘days’ could have been thousands or millions of years each; in this aspect, it attempts to maintain itself closer to scientific views by accepting the scientific age of the earth while still refuting evolution in that everything was still created at the beginning of these ‘days.’
It seems particularly hypocritical that evolution/abiogenesis deniers reject this science, yet appear to nonchalantly embrace all other sciences that are beneficial to them, such as modern medicine, physics, digital technology, and so forth. Science is never wrong in our world of realism but the scientists and interpreters are subject to error. It is upon a foundation of facts and further science that truer knowledge can be built upon, and errors and misconceptions eventually eliminated. Evolution is accepted by the scientific community as fact, and for the last 150 years that “The Origin of Species” has been out, flaws and gaps have been found, but they have been remedied or are in the process of being remedied. We should not reject an entire theory just because we are missing a few details; it is like throwing out an intricate puzzle just because a few pieces are missing, even though the image assembled is clear.
Evolution and abiogenesis are falsifiable while creationism is not. With the latter, opposing facts can be tossed away and replaced with the phrase, “God did it.” This leaves little explanation, which is why this pseudoscientific area is dubbed “faith.” Faith is not fact, but merely stern belief and hope in something potentially imaginary. The claims that evolution is unfalsifiable say that any fact can be fitted into the framework, making it impossible to demonstrate falseness. In reality, evolution makes predictions that can be falsified if contradicted by evidence, such as a fossil record showing no change over time, or even observations of organisms being created supernaturally. Darwin himself made the claim: “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.” Evolutionary biologist J.B.S. Haldane was asked what hypothetical evidence could disprove evolution. His response? Precambrian rabbits.
Creationists have another habit of attempting to “prove” their religious dogmas and allegories with science, while denying the conflicting science. The best example is with flood geology, where Kent Hovind says Noah & Co. (including dinosaurs) eluded a -300° F ice meteor that broke up near Earth; the fragments of the meteor became either rings, impact craters, or formed the earth’s poles. This cracked the earth’s crust and caused the flood (all fossils are a result of the flood). Earth’s “vapor canopy” collapsed, tectonic plates shifted, and rapid erosion formed all modern geology. The oceans absorbed CO₂ from earth’s atmosphere, allowing greater amounts of radiation to reach the earth’s surface, causing human lifespans to be shortened in comparison to the 950 year old Noah. Whose ass did this science get pulled out of? How could Noah have survived the freezing temperatures or toxicity of the air caused by the altitude and atmospheric pressure from mountain top-surpassing water levels? How did aquatic life survive the fresh water dilution or plants survive at all? How did earth’s population get to be 6.4 billion after just 4,000 years (when the population should have been at 7 million)? Why are there records of all extinct animals written in human history (or did they just die out immediately after the ark landed)? There are just so many contradictions that all rely on God’s omnipotence to pull humanity through.
Those who deny transitional fossils lack the recognition of the ones that actually exist. There are synapsids and sauropsids, which branch birds and mammals away from lizards, respectively (Pedopenna was a feathered dinosaur and Archaeopteryx was a dinosaur-like bird, while Thrinaxodon was a reptile with whiskers and fur). Moving on to humans coming from apes:
Nakalipithecus -> Ardipithecus -> Austrolopithecus -> Kenyanthropus -> Paranthropus à Homo
Each of these contains several species transitioning each other. The genus Homo contains 13 transitional species. Creationists will argue futilely that they did not “come from monkeys”; others might accept the notion of micro-evolution (change below the speciation level), but not macro.
Another issue creationists argue is that of the human mind, saying that we would be unsympathetic barbarians of science and natural selection so as to not have the capacity to care for those with abnormal genes. What they fail to acknowledge is that by caring for the genetically misfortunate, we are gaining scientific knowledge from the study of such individuals. If we just let them die, we would gain nothing from them. By caring for the ill, not only are we exerting species-preservation, we are become more scientifically and medically advanced. This is how our human lifespan has doubled since the middle ages. The other thing to note is that people with such diseases are typically unfit to reproduce themselves, although carriers of the genes may still exist in the lineage (a much more passive form of natural selection). Morality is not a product of God, but a product of evolution; species would not survive if they had no morals; there would be no community.
We have a will to pride ourselves as being special, and initially, it may seem we aren’t so if we focus purely on the doctrines of scientism. But we are, and it is magnificent; to be a human with a will and a consciousness in a world so evolved is extraordinary and rare. We are unique naturally and do not need the notion of God to have made us great. Creationism fills the gaps of complexity many of us don’t wish to comprehend with the simple and supernatural, giving us false optimism that forces us to submit our lives purely to an imaginary dimension external from the one right before our eyes. Science has these answers and hypotheses of life, the universe, and everything that are explained logically with facts upon evidence. If someone wishes to deny transitional fossils, they are forgetting their own doctrines are transitional. For scripture to be passed along for hundreds to thousands of years with different authors, censorship, translations, and revisions, accuracy cannot be trusted. To ignore this evidence and discredit the realm of science because of errors (a misplaced puzzle piece) is absurd. To try and support scripture with science (while denying other science) is even more absurd. Faith is a dangerous way to look at the world as it leaves no room for human comprehension. Science does not answer the ultimate question of purpose, but spending a lifetime searching for some spiritual purpose or a purpose that occurs after life, is a life that has wasted its potential.