Understanding evolution

I can’t help myself – Conservapedia is my favorite site when I need a good laugh.  It’s like the proverbial car wreck you can’t look away from.  A link to a Vox Day post about evolution comes from the front page of “The Trustworthy Encyclopedia.”

I’m not sure if Vox Day is being deliberately obtuse or if they have a mental block similar to my own before I learned more about evolution.

The post gleefully quotes from Pharyngula as PZ Myers explains that evolution can’t really be called Darwinism any longer because

We aren’t using Darwin’s model anymore; he had no accurate notion of how inheritance worked, for instance — genes and alleles, the stuff of most modern theory, are not present anywhere in his works.

That makes perfect sense to me, but not to Vox Day.  Vox apparently thinks it’s the beginning of the end for evolution.

Today Darwin, tomorrow “natural selection”, and, sooner or later, the entire concept of one species coming into existence from another less evolved species through mutation and environmental pressures will be cast into the incinerator of scientific history.  It is merely a matter of time.

Vox operates with a typical Christian viewpoint, one that I held before I became more knowledgeable about evolution and science in general.  Christianity in particular operates under an ‘all or nothing’ set of rules when it comes to interpreting the Bible.  If one part of the Bible is disproved, then it can’t possibly be divinely inspired and the rest can be called into question.

Science does not work that way.  Science takes the bits that work and runs with them, building as more research is done.  Does that mean that scientists are perfect or get it right the first time?  Of course not – but that is a completely foreign concept to people like Vox Day.  They have to continue believing that the authors of the Bible got it right the first time and that is good for all time while I am willing to accept that science frequently doesn’t get it right the first time and is in a constant state of flux.

When I was a Christian my particular mental block went something like this: I couldn’t wrap my head around evolution because I thought that meant offspring would be genetically different than the parents.  That would make it impossible for that new life to mate because there would only be one.  What I didn’t understand was that populations evolve, not individuals.

I’m not certain where I heard this explanation, but it clarified things for me:  a given generation in a particular evolutionary chain would be able to successfully mate with the preceding and proceeding generations, but the members at the beginning of the chain wouldn’t be able to mate with those at the end of the chain.

So I’m willing to give Vox Day a little slack because I was once in the same boat and maybe one day the light bulb will light up for them as it did for me.


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