I’ve been posting on several discussion forums for a couple of years now, some of them have to do with atheism and non-belief, some are just regular hobby related forums (basketball, PC gaming, etc.). Every once in a while some believer will come barging in to the threads and start preaching their religion. As many of you would already know, any mention of atheism leads believers to talk about the Theory of Evolution.
One of my pet peeves is how Creationists claim that Evolution is not scientific; that it is somehow “evil” and that it goes against Christian teachings. In fact, they go about spreading lies and misinformation about it to such a degree that most people don’t understand what evolution really is anymore. It’s a sad fact that less than half of Americans accept the fact of Evolution. Interestingly, according to this survey, a little over 60% of Pinoys accept evolution as fact. Perhaps it’s because Catholicism does not deny it. However, this may change soon as many American missionaries are more aggressively bringing their Fundamentalist brand of Christianity to our shores.
Here are some of the most common misconceptions being spread about Evolution:
Myth #1: Evolution teaches us that our ancestors were chimps! If you believe in Evolution, you believe your great great grandparents were chimps!
Answer: Wrong. We evolved from the same distant ancestor as chimps, not chimps directly. And in the broadest sense, we are related to chimps (We share more than 95% of our DNA with them). Monkeys are “cousins” of the Human species. But does that mean that WE are chimps ourselves? Of course not. We are human, our parents and grandparents are human, and so on and so forth for thousands of years back.
Myth #2: Evolution is EVIL-ution! Evolution preaches “survival of the fittest”, therefore it’s every man for himself!
Answer: Wrong. Evolution is a scientific theory. It explains how living things adapt to their environment. It does not make claims about morality, nor does it tell us what we should do with our lives. It explains how things are, not what it should be. Claiming that Evolution is wrong because it “teaches us to kill or be killed” is akin to saying that Gravity is wrong because it causes people to get hurt or killed from falling.
Myth #3: Evolution is “just a theory”.
Answer: In scientific terms, a “Theory” is not the same as the layman’s meaning of theory. What this myth is trying to say is that Evolution is just a” Hypothesis”. A Hypothesis is akin to an educated guess. For a Hypothesis to be promoted to a Scientific Theory, it must pass stringent scientific scrutiny, and must be well supported by evidence. Evolution has a mountainload of evidence supporting it, from across several scientific fields (Geology, Biology, Chemistry, Paleontology, etc). All it takes to destroy the Theory of Evolution is one single solid piece of evidence that goes against it. In the more than 150 years since Charles Darwin first published his book “Origin of Species”, none have come up.
Myth #4: Students are entitled to learn Creation as an alternative theory to Evolution. We must teach the controversy!
Answer: The first thing we must address here is that there is NO controversy (at least in the scientific world). Some scientists may disagree on some details, but there is no denying that Evolution is overwhelmingly accepted by the scientific community. 99.9% of scientists accept it as fact. Besides, if that is the stance they want to take, then we should teach other creation myths from other religions too. I’m willing to bet these Christian Fundamentalists will NOT allow that.
Secondly, Creation does NOT belong in the Science Class, simply because it is NOT science. Creationists are free to teach Creation in Religion Class where it belongs. It is an oft repeated lie that prayer is banned in public schools in the U.S. Students can pray all they want. What’s not allowed is school-sponsored prayer.
Myth #5: Evolution cannot explain how life began, therefore God must have done it!
Answer: Firstly, Evolution does not deal with how life began. That’s like blaming the washing machine for not keeping the lawn trimmed. Secondly, scientists already have a rough idea of how Abiogenesis occurred (nothing final and concrete, admittedly). Thirdly, just because we don’t know yet, doesn’t mean we will never know. And lastly, just because we don’t know how, doesn’t mean God did it. It only means we don’t know yet.
Myth #6: You cannot prove to me that God did not create us. Show me the proof!
Answer: It is almost impossible to prove a negative. As an exercise, please prove to me that fairies/Santa Claus/invisible magic dragons do not exist. You can’t, can you? Also, the burden of proof rests upon the claimant. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. Creationists are the ones making the extraordinary claim, therefore, they must be the ones to provide solid proof. So far they have shown ZERO evidence.
Myth #7: Evolution is the Atheist’s Religion!
Firstly, atheists HAVE NO RELIGION, that’s why we’re called atheists.
Secondly, just because you accept the fact of evolution doesn’t mean you’re an atheist. Plenty of believers have no trouble reconciling their beliefs with the fact of Evolution. Take Kenneth Miller and Francis Collins as examples of devoutly religious people who accept evolution. Evolution does NOT invalidate belief in a god in general. It only refutes the literal interpretation of Genesis in the Bible (or of any creation story of any religion).