The Lower Quote, As If You Didn't Know, Is By Richard Dawkins, Son.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Dear Mr. Design Advocate....

A guy named Jim MacDonald just outside Toronto wrote a letter to the editor of the Toronto Star today with the title, Evolution Still an Unproven Scientific Theory. Here is his letter in its complete form:

Jay Ingram seems to be arguing that because science (and scientists) have advanced the theory of evolution based on Charles Darwin's observations and the scientific method, it must therefore be true.

Apparently, Ingram hasn't seen the article on lactic acid which follows his piece. How wonderfully ironic. Even those of us not schooled in science can see that some of the observations regarding errors in understanding lactic acid could (might someday) be applied to our understanding of where life came from. Might we someday see the quote about lactic acid - "It is one of the classic mistakes in the history of science" - applied to the area of evolution?

If science can be as badly wrong about something as relatively simple as lactic acid, one has to wonder if perhaps there might be some as-yet unrevealed flaws in evolutionary theory as well.

Evolutionary theory is just that - a theory. Once a theory is proven to be true, or false, arguments cease. The reality is that there is no proof for evolution, notwithstanding the rigours and discipline of the scientific method. The same can be said for intelligent design.

The truth is that evolutionary theory is based on acceptance of observations made in the absence of sufficient data for proof.

Sounds like faith to me, just like the religious right Ingram condemns as uninformed.

Here is my reply, emailed today to the editor:

Scientists have made many mistakes. Bloodletting was once popular as a treatment, thalidomide should need no refresher paragraph, and the Piltdown Man fiasco all attest to this fact.

What makes these mistakes different from "intelligent" design? The scientific method (not to be confused with "scientists") was used to fix them all. Observation, hypothesis, experimentation, conclusions, and analysis/peer review all contribute to the advancement of our species toward a more complete understanding of who we are as well as where we live and came from.

I would love to see some actual evidence of "intelligent" design. The leading proponents (Michael Behe, Dwayne Gish, and Kent Hovind) have arguments that point out, in honest moments, legitimate questions about our past. Their pet idea, however, leads to the boiled-down conclusion that, "it is all so very very complicated - something must have done it. Something great. God."

Imagine the state of doctors during the Black Plague. Thousands of people dying all around them, people literally lying in the streets. It would have been tempting to think, "wow, this is really hard - I'm not sure if I can figure out what's behind this disease - something much more intelligent than me must be responsible". What would have happened if everyone abandoned reason and logic and just assumed "something great" was behind it all? Imagine if everyone just started praying, sacrificing goats and virgins, dropping to their knees on the rough cobblestones in subjugation to the "higher power". The modern day equivalent would be to stop work on everything difficult and just say "god did it".

It is mind-boggling that someone in this day and age can say something as completely ludricrous as, "(T)he reality is that there is no proof for evolution..." The fossil evidence is mountainous, the viral and bacterial evolutionary developments are undeniable, and the vestigal organs and anatomical structures (ever hear of the plantaris muscle? - useful in chimpanzees for flexing all the toes at once for climbing trees; but in humans it is weak, small and sometimes completely absent) are still hanging around.

If you still cannot see that evolution is a fact, you have your head buried in the sand. Someone should mention to Mr. MacDonald that gravity and the Earth's revolving around the Sun are also "theories" (in the scientific sense of the word), while the Tooth Fairy taking children's incisors and leaving a quarter (or toonie!) under their pillow is a "theory" in the common sense - as he is familiar.

2 Barbaric Yawps:

At 24/5/06 4:59 pm, Anonymous modusoperandi said...

I think if Intelligent Design was true, Dwayne Gish would have a better toupe

At 24/5/06 6:05 pm, Blogger BigHeathenMike said...

True that!


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