I my previous post, I began critiquing an article by Chris Mooney titled 7 reasons you don’t believe in evolution. Mr. Mooney claims that there are 7 scientific reasons why 4 in 10 Americans still do not believe in Darwin’s theory. You can find my response to his first 4 points here. Now, lets take a look at his remaining 3 reasons why you don’t believe in evolution.
5. Inability to Comprehend Vast Time Scales.
Mooney claims that the time requirements for Neo-Darwinism to take place are too great for us to comprehend because we have never experienced them before. I thought this quote from the article was telling “The only way you can appreciate the process of evolution is in an abstract way,” says Norenzayan. “Over millions of years, small changes accumulate, but it’s not intuitive. There’s nothing in our brain that says that’s true. We have to override our incredulity.”
Again, we are being asked to ignore what our brains tell us is true. At this point I have a question for the scientists and author. Why do they not override what THEIR brains are telling them is true? If brains are as untrustworthy as they claim, how are they so confident in them? If we should all do exactly the opposite of what we perceive as logical, then shouldn’t they should immediately switch their view to one of theism?
6. Group Morality and Tribalism.
Mooney claims that social pressure and fear of losing authority are also obstacles to believing in evolution. Says Mooney “When we see resistance to its teaching, after all, it is usually because a religious community fears that this body of science will undermine a belief system—in the US, usually fundamentalist Christianity—deemed to serve as the foundation for shared values and understanding. In other words, evolution is resisted because it is perceived as a threat to the group.
This statement is ripe for criticism. Didn’t the author himself wrote the article because he perceived at threat to his way of thinking? It’s his “group” is being challenged.
7. Fear and the Need for Certainty
In a last ditched effort, we are told that fear and uncertainty lead us towards God and away from evolution. We just don’t like the unknown, and it makes us uneasy. One study quoted in the article draws the following conclusion. “Other research suggests that making people think about death increases their religiosity and also decreases evolution acceptance.”
This objection suffers from what is known as a genetic fallacy. In other words, if I can tell you where your belief comes from, then it isn’t true. But that really doesn’t make any sense. I may believe that the Denver Broncos won their game last week because I wore my Broncos jersey. The fact that I’m wrong about my jesrey doesn’t change the fact that they won the game. It may be true that death or the unknown causes us to believe a certain way. But that doesn’t mean it’s a false belief. Isn’t it just as plausible to believe that the reason we are drawn towards a creator is our ingrained need for that creator?
We’re Just Born That Way
Mooney ends his article with the following statement. “In any event, the evidence is clear that both our cognitive architecture, and also our emotional dispositions, make it difficult or unnatural for many people to accept evolution. “Natural selection is like quantum physics…we might intellectually grasp it, with considerable effort, but it will never feel right to us,” writes the Yale psychologist Paul Bloom. Often, people express surprise that in an age so suffused with science, science causes so much angst and resistance. Perhaps more surprising would be if it didn’t.”
As you can probably tell, I don’t think the author has made a good case that we should override our natural tendencies and accept evolution. In fact, the very things he identifies in article work in favor of creationism and against evolution. He seems to admit this at every turn.
Mooney’s argument is that there are all these things that keep you from believing in evolution. Therefore you should ignore all of them because your brain is unreliable and feeding you a load of rubbish. There are certain things we must accept to reason through problems. One of those things is that our mind is giving us an accurate picture of the world. If we can’t trust what our mind is telling us, how can we expect any of our thoughts to be coherent or our conclusions to be sound? And that applies to scientists as well as theists.
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