Monday, November 1, 2010

The End Goal Isn't Acceptance of Evolution

First of all, the "accommodationists" that suggest we need to work with the religious who accept evolution fail to realize that the "evolution" they accept is not evolution as it occurs.  (Most fail to accept common ancestry!)

On to the point of this entry.

I've blogged, in the past, about many of the "flock" not knowing what their official church doctrines are - they don't.  Surveys and studies often show that many Catholics do not know that the official stance of the church is acceptance of evolution - and though that is on the topic of this entry, I don't suggest it is the only spot where followers are unaware of official doctrine. 

So we need to get more Catholics to accept the official church doctrine, right?  Wrong. 

Many "accommodationists" will suggest to others that they will have a better chance of convincing others to accept evolution if they can point to other believers who also accept evolution.  Many argue that you can keep your faith and accept evolution - "Look at Francis Collins" or "Take Kenneth Miller for example" or "Even the Catholic church officially recognizes evolution". 

The first point I want to make is that we're appealing to authority - ie. you are to throw out that dogmatic belief because someone in a higher position in the church has done so OR someone seemingly smarter than you says you should/can OR someone closer to "god" says you now should/can.  Not only has it failed to work, it is the wrong approach.  We want people to think, to follow the evidence and to accept things on their own validity - not to simply believe/accept things because others say it is okay to accept them.  If the argument is not valid, it matters not who is making it. 

The second point that needs to be made is that it isn't only the topic of evolution that we need to tackle - people who don't think for themselves and don't demand adequate evidence before accepting a life-affecting (their life or the lives of others) proposition have not moved much further ahead if they simply accept evolution as a scientific fact.  (As an aside, evolution is occuring (fact) and the theory of evolution by means of natural selection is one of the most tested and supported theories in science.)  We need people to consider the evidence and understand what is necessary for a "theory" to be generally accepted - it has to account for all of the evidence, it needs to make predictions and it needs to be falsifiable. 

I'm not going to argue that we should all take the confrontational approach or that people are wrong for trying to partner with believers to keep evolution in the school curriculum (NCSE, etc.).  That is an important temporary measure but the need goes away when we get people to respect science and trust the scientific process.  Sadly, many accommodationists are willing to sacrifice what is "true" to achieve a single (and short-sighted) goal. 

Though I realize different people respond to different methods of criticism or argument, don't sacrifice the truth.  Use a different approach, sure, but keep in mind that we should be arguing against appeals to authority (or arguments from authority) and other methods of coercion.  We're arguing for a skeptical and scientific evaluation of the evidence before accepting a proposition.  Saying "well, Mr. Famous accepts it so you should too" is the wrong direction.  And sacrificing honesty with the goal of getting (keeping) evolution in the science curriculum also does not help achieve the real objective.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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