Digital Cameras, Evolution, and the Big Bang

The same science and scientists that are behind your jet engines and digital cameras, the same people who have figured out how to create nuclear bombs and set them off over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the scientists whose advances have extended the average human life by over 50 years, who have designed solar panels, learned to conduct successful brain surgeries, and created flat panel 1080 dpi HD televisions are the same experts in biology and physics that have scrutinized, evaluated, and tweaked — have done the calculations and tested the evidence for — the theories of evolution and the big bang, and they have concluded, near-univerisally that those theories are correct…  

And yet roughly half of the US population (it varies by survey and by the particular question asked) either “do not agree” or “do not believe” in evolution or the big-bang.

How can this be so? How can they so easily dismiss the conclusions of science — and then, after dismissing it, how can they get on planes or have heart surgery? 

How could the science behind so many technological advances be so right — be able to predict E=MC2 and then prove it by killing hundreds of thousands of people — but be so completely off-base on the most fundamental principles of the cosmos and of biology? How can we sit back comfortably on a roller coaster, or speed down the highway with our families in the car, or take little pills for our blood pressure if we think scientists could be so utterly and completely wrong about the very theories they are the most sure about? Futher what does it even mean to “not believe” or to “disagree” with evolution or the big bang. Mostly, from what I can tell it simply means, “God did it.” 

When priests predict calamity or failure, success or prosperity based on how much we have displeased or pleased the gods or God, they are right about as often as chance would predict (most, though, only make their “predictions” in retrospect — “this happened because God was angered!” they thunder after some or other natural or man-made disaster)… but science, now there is some fortune-telling you can get behind. When Darwin predicted (based on his theory of evolution) that one day we would discover a mechanism in biology for transferring traits over generations — and then 100 years later when we discovered DNA — we properly hailed Darwin as a genius (again). He proved to be a better “seer” than any gypsy or pope. This trend has been repeated many times and may be repeated again over the course of the next year as the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) spins up and starts recreating big-bang-like collisions looking for particles (most importantly the Higgs Boson) that physicists have theorized but have never seen…

Furthermore, It is important to keep in mind what science means when using the word theory.  A theory, in scientific lingo, does not indicate a purely hypothetical or untested thought. It is a collection of ideas that is subject to the same unflinching scientific method used to split an atom, wire a TV set, or find and isolate a gene. After evaluation, some theories are disregarded, mostly because they are wrong, and some are accepted. Just as the “theory of gravity” or “microbiological theory of disease” no longer undergo serious doubt, neither, in the scientific community, do the the big-bang or evolution, it simply, for scientists is not a matter of faith…


9 Responses

  1. I belive Sam Harris summarize it perfectly in his “The End of Faith”. Easy computation will tell us it’s a practial impossibility to have all entertained “beliefs” logicaly cohere (just past 1500 independent logical statements we pass the milion limit for theoretical combinations). Thus the problem is not that people do not agree.

    Problem only arise when people immunize themself from arguments and rational inquiry. Religion have been given toleration because faith have the status of a virtue, when in fact any such ideas for which there are no evidence, or even logicaly coherece for that matter, should be rediculed to the same extent a theory of hollow unicorns would be given.

    About scintific predictions, I’d just like to add that there’s nothing magical about it. We must also count those theories that didn’t make it, or had to be considerably revised. But in the end we are only left with the working theories and that makes it look cooler. None the less these kind of predictions sure are “etheticaly pleasing”.

  2. here is the sticky wicket….knowledge is power. if you know how something works, you have power over it. if you don’t, you are powerless and that leads to fear. how you deal with fear is how you will deal with powerlessness. ignorance is the great sedative. now, we all agree we can’t worry about every little thing that we don’t know about that can kill, hurt, or make our days suckie, and there are way too many things we don’t know vs. what we do know…example the video link i was just sent about out of date tires loosing their tred while you drive, so you better check that expiration date on your tire or it could be ‘bye, bye, Johnny’….that all being said, everyone has the ability to relate to mortality just as much as everyone can relate to faulty tires….it all depends on how you let it effect your daily life.

  3. Yes, but remember Roger, any technology sufficiently sophisticated is indistinguishable from magic…

    and Jesse, are you saying that not believing in evolution and bb theory helps to allay those fears?

  4. nope….you asked ‘why?’ and i answered. this is the reason, everyone can relate to mortality so everyone feels they have a right to an opinion.

  5. The truly remarkable thing is the division found in the reasoning most belivers use. The doktor says you need an operation, and you’ll ask em to explain why. The priest say there is a life after death and you’ll happily accept it.

    This strangeness of the suspension of common sense is remarkable, but while newton’s laws of gravity is easily accepted, the theory of evolution (which is even simpler in it’s basic outline) is drowned by unverified religious hypothesises.

    No matter the differanciation between theories of similar complexity, isn’t the lesson of that phrase that there is no magic? I the phrase capture what I try to say in a way so I rest my case.

  6. want to buy: comment edit functionality!

  7. magic, no…illusion, yes. illusion is a well calculated series of events that can be explained, magic cannot be. i submit my examples of magic: art, fiction, and love.

  8. wait… what? art, fiction, and love cannot be explained?

  9. they all have different impacts on each individual person, so they cannot be boiled down to an explaination. when i write ‘fiction’, i mean creation through fictional stories or characters.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: