10. Beyond a shadow of doubt, human DNA and chimpanzee DNA are 98% identical. We diverged from the same common ancestor 5 million years ago. This isn’t idle speculation, it is a fact bound up in deductive logic. We are the modern descendants of ancient apes, just as modern apes are the descendants from that same ancestral tree but on a different branch to humans. Just as the VW Beetle is the ancestor of the Porsche Carrera GT, one does not cease to exist because of the emergence of the other. But where car designs are engineered and refined by man, life is shaped by genetic mutations, which over time, gives rise to entirely new species.
9. The genetic evidence of natural selection is compelling enough proof of evolution without any evidence from fossils whatsoever. If Darwin had never lived, we would still have eventually discovered naturally occurring selection mechanisms in our DNA. If there were no fossils in the fossil record, whatsoever, the evidence of evolution in our genes would still be a fact. Genetics does not require the evidence from the fossil record in any way shape or form. Lateral gene transfer is a major mechanism in prokaryotic genome evolution. Gene theory and palaeontology are two completely separate areas of study that just so happen to support each other. Independently acquired, mutually corroborative evidence is the heart and soul of the theory of evolution. To disprove one, you must disprove the other, yet each set of evidences are intrinsically linked, while being independently ascertained.
8. Evolution does not propose origins of life. Evolution does not seek to answer the question of how the first multicellular organisms appeared. It describes how they evolved once they formed, not how they formed in the first place. Abiogenesis is in no way related to Darwinian evolution. We do not know how the first multicellular life formed, but we know what it was made of and that these elements were abundant on the early Earth, after it formed 4.54 billion years ago*, and that these same elements are present throughout the universe today. The vast timescales involved aren’t easy to comprehend. But admitting you do not understand something, in science, is the only way to find out.
7. “Survival of the fittest” is NOT the guiding principal of individual behaviour. It is the biological mechanism which determines the adaptability of a species over time, NOT individuals within their own lifetime. Evolution happens gradually over hundreds of millions of years. Random mutations in the DNA code do not always produce positive results. Mutations are not always beneficial because evolution is unguided; it has no foresight. Natural selection builds upon mutations that produce adaptations which are beneficial in specific areas, just as it cancels out mutations that are detrimental in others. This explains why 99% of all life that has ever lived on Earth is now extinct.
6. Not a single living organism that has ever been discovered shows any sign, whatsoever, of having evolved by non-Darwinian means. If there were, the scientific method is precisely designed to discover it. There are no known species of any living organism anywhere on Earth that can not be fully described by evolution theory. The only people who assert otherwise are religious fundamentalists who have repeatedly demonstrated they do not understand how Darwinian evolution by means of natural selection actually works. Hence it is illegal in almost every industrialised nation on Earth to teach creationism in the science classroom.
5. Darwinism when applied to free market economics, is a flawed form of capitalism and gives rise to a supreme irony. Free market theory has been shown time and again to favour the rich to the detriment of the poor. Every single European and American government who has applied Darwinism to their economic policy, has been forced, at some point, to apply regulations to the market, so as to counterbalance this unwanted effect. Despite this, in the American system of governance, free market ultra-capitalism remains to be the fundamental ideological difference between predominantly evangelical smaller state conservatives, who favour it, and predominantly non-religious liberal democrats who oppose it. Darwinian economics is synonymous with conservatism, not liberalism.
4. The vast majority of evolutionary biologists are practising Christians. Indeed the only group among scientists who profess higher religiosity than biologists are physicists. The official dogma of the Catholic church is that “evolution theory is not incompatible with a belief in the bible”. The only quasi-religious sect which does not accept the facts of evolution, are classified by the International Cultic Studies Association as “cults with authoritarian, exploitative and possibly dangerous systems of ritual practices”. This includes the deliberate obfuscation of facts so as to indoctrinate children and vulnerable or credulous adults. Hence, young-earth creationists, even within Protestant evangelicalism, make up less than 3% of those who otherwise describe themselves as bible believing Christians worldwide. EDIT: Please read comments
3. Darwin was wrong about a great many things. As were many of the people who supported his theory when it was first published. There are examples throughout history of scientists making huge mistakes which have led science down blind alleys of investigation, sometimes for hundreds of years. But the beauty of the scientific method, is that these mistakes always come to light. Darwin did not set his theories in stone, rather he hoped that future generations of naturalists would DISPROVE his many claims. Since then, this is what biologists, palaeontologists, geneticists, chemists, anthropologists and every other discipline in science has sought to achieve. We have yet to find any compelling evidence that might falsify any aspect of natural selection, despite that the scientific method is geared towards doing exactly that.
2. Evolutionary biologists like Richard Dawkins are not the atheist’s Jesus. They are men with opinions of their own. Nothing more, nothing less. Some of their opinions are based upon irrefutable facts and some are not. Atheism and science are not two sides of the same coin, nor do individual scientists who happen to be non-religious speak on behalf of all agnostics, rationalists, free thinkers, humanists or pastafarians worldwide. Science and scientists are two completely different things, just as are what you believe and what you can prove. If you believe in things that you can not prove, that does not constitute a reason for others to do the same.
1. Abandoning reason and fair mindedness does not bring you closer to Jesus. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the light.” By that light many of humanity’s finest thinkers have discovered the mechanisms by which the world works. Darwin himself was a devout Christian. And while it is true he lost his faith because of a series of tragedies in his personal life, he never ceased to believe that God may exist. He did not become agnostic because he established the most important principal in science, nor did he lose his faith because he gained reason. He woke up to the reality of the majestic universe and abandoned childish notions, which seek to divide people between faith and facts. Faith is a virtue, but so is humility. And nothing is more humbling than the glimpse into the grandeur of nature upon which Darwin’s theory casts such brilliant illumination.
“I don’t want to believe, I want to know” – Carl Sagan.
But by far the greatest distortion of evolution that creationists wilfully and repeatedly proffer, is that it formed the basis of Nazi eugenics, which is the most evil form of artificial selection ever devised. The only people who assert a link between the heinous acts of mass genocide, carried out by Hitler and Darwin’s ideas, are those who, despite that Darwin wrote at length about his fears that his theory would be used in this way, repeatedly misrepresent what Darwin actually had to say about this matter, when he pre-emptively spoke out strongly against any attempts to apply his theory to fix the societal issues of his day.
But because creationists only listen to each other, the only time this fact is alluded to, in creationist propaganda, it is in an edited format, taken from Darwin’s original text. In one version, used in a pro-Intelligent Design film by Mark Mathis, “Expelled” and despite that the filmmaker had the full unedited text from Darwin’s “Decent of Man” available to him, the text appears to endorse the subduing of inferior minded people. In another form it appears to suggest Darwin himself believed this was some way forward for his theory in terms of improving the human condition, by breeding mental frailties and physical disabilities out of the human race. These various perversions of what Darwin actually wrote, which are hosted widely on pro-creationist websites such as answersingenesis.org and Ray Comfort’s Way of the Master blog, are the version of Darwin’s original text almost all fundamentalists believe to have been taken, word for word, from Darwin’s work, when in reality he said something quite the opposite.
Here is exactly what Darwin wrote in “Decent of Man”, followed by the text as it appears in the pro-Intelligent Design film, “Expelled”:
With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health. We civilised men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination. We build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment. There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to small-pox. Thus the weak members of civilised societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly anyone is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed
And now the edited version, popular on pro-creationist websites:
With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated. We civilised men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination. We build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed and the sick. Thus the weak members of civilised societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. Hardly anyone is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.
*The original version of this article incorrectly used the age of the universe as the age of the Earth. I pieced this article together from drafts of my soon-to-be realised donation-ware book and inadvertently cut and paste the wrong paragraph. Oops!