Here at at this post, A CHRISTIAN VIEW OF GOVERNMENT, we experienced an interesting debate. I would like to say it was fun, but that would not be entirely true. We had some hard feelings.
Why the hard feelings? What is it in our nature that makes us insist that others share our beliefs? Frankly, even though I too share this trait I do not really understand it. So long as everyone is willing to live and let live, it is a stupid and needless expectation. But perhaps that is the problem. Rarely are we willing to leave each other, our neighbors, in peace. Our neighbor:
- Has a dog that barks.
- Smokes cigarettes.
- Has property I need.
- “Needs” to buy what I want to sell.
- Hunts Bambi.
- Won’t pay for my abortion and contraceptives.
- Painted his house the wrong colors.
- Home schools his children.
- Parties and uses up all the parking spaces.
- Wants to build a quarry in wrong place.
- …..and so forth.
Anyway, when I remarked that I am not a Creationist, that started a debate with a long string of comments.
- Russ White, who has a great blog, served as an advocate for Creationism.
- My brother Tony (an airline pilot and a lawyer), provided a defense for the The Theory of Evolution.
- I defended the middle ground. I don’t think either theory proven. Both in practice, serve as religious beliefs.
None of us, Russ, Tony, and myself, claim to be experts of the subjects of Creationism and The Theory of Evolution. Like most people we only know something about both theories. Because we want understand to why we exist, we too take an interest in knowing how we were created.
Selling A Belief
Since it is better done elsewhere, I will not try to explain either Creationism and The Theory of Evolution here. What I intend to do in this post is point out how the dispute over the two theories threatens our Liberty. Let’s begin by considering how each theory is sold.
Selling The Theory of Evolution
Here are a couple of websites. Both websites affirm The Theory of Evolution by suggesting that the preponderance of evidence supports the theory.
- Universities apparently have a stake in The Theory of Evolution. At least, UC Berkeley hosts Understanding Evolution. This page, What is the evidence for evolution?, addresses the issue of proof, but this webpage does not provide a straightforward proof. From a hodgepodge of links, we are suppose to conclude what most scientists apparently believe, that complex life evolved from peculiar molecules in a primordial soup.
- PBS, of course, has an Evolution Library. Like UC Berkeley‘s Understanding Evolution webpage, PBS‘ Evidence for Evolution webpage also contains a hodgepodge of links.
What is the real “proof” for The Theory of Evolution? For decades the public school system has taught The Theory of Evolution to our nation’s children. That instruction most effectively instills the belief that The Theory of Evolution is incontrovertible science. Few science teachers know enough science to understand why, based upon the scientific method, they have every right not to consider the theory proven. And the text books? Well, if the publishers want to sell their books, don’t they have to write what the politicians who pay for them want to see?
Russ White recommended a couple of the websites that promote Creationism. Those are the first two of the three. The last site is one I have heard advertised on the radio.
- The Creation Research Society (CRS) exists to conduct and publish research devoted to scientific special creation. In its Statement of Belief, clearly cites the Bible as its primary source and motivation for creation research. CRS says this about itself.
The Creation Research Society (CRS), a scientific society with worldwide membership, is recognized internationally for its firm commitment to scientific special creation. The CRS was founded in 1963 by a group of ten like-minded scientists who had corresponded with each other for a number of years. A major impetus for this effort was a problem that each one had experienced. They had been unable to publish in established journals scientific information favorable to the creation viewpoint. Believing that there were probably other scientists with similar experiences, these men saw the need for a journal in which such information could be published. (from here)
Apparently, CRS wants to create a preponderance of evidence that supports Creation. If imitation is flattery, the CRS is definitely flattering the methods of the advocates for The Theory of Evolution.
- The Science Against Evolution Official Home Page takes a different approach. That website provides articles design to debunk The Theory of Evolution. Here is the statement on their banner page.
Since 1996, it has been Science Against Evolution’s objective to make the general public aware that the theory of evolution is not consistent with physical evidence and is no longer a respectable theory describing the origin and diversity of life.
- The Genesis Veracity Foundation takes yet a third approach, something of a compromise between what the first two Creationist websites do. What that foundation does is try to show that based upon what we know the account recorded in Genesis (as traditionally understood) is plausible.
The Affect Of The Creationism/Evolution Debate On Public Policy
Because we insist upon government funding for schools, universities and scientific research, we have created an awkward dilemma. As laymen we must referee highly technical debates on subjects we know little about. So what do we do? On our behalf, we let judges and elected officials decide what is and is not science (i.e, religion). In practice, that means other layman (usually lawyers) with little or no scientific training must decide what is and is not science.
So what conclusion have our appointed experts, our judges and elected officials, reached? Presumably, because it starts with the assumption that the Bible is true, Creationism is religion, not science. By their own admission, Creationists presume an Intelligent Design and look for the evidence of a Creator. However, advocates for The Theory of Evolution essentially do the same sort of thing. Because they believe that the preponderance of evidence “proves” The Theory of Evolution, the advocates of that theory do not take other possibilities seriously.
Why isn’t a preponderance of evidence sufficient for proof? Consider the definition of a statistical term.
a statistical relation between two or more variables such that systematic changes in the value of one variable are accompanied by systematic changes in the other
Statistical correlation alone does not prove a cause – effect relationship (see Statistical Correlation Does Not Always Prove Cause). Although the preponderance of evidence may correlate with The Theory of Evolution, another theory may also correlate just as well with the same evidence. Unfortunately, because government funds the research we have strong inhibitions against considering any other alternative. Those that run the political/funding structure presume that The Theory of Evolution is proven science, and evolution advocates review research proposals with that presumption. That means there is a high probably that any evidence that might debunk The Theory of Evolution will simply be discarded or ignored. Effectively, the advocates regard no other competing theory as “science”.
The Problem of Identifying An Expert
How do we know when someone is an expert, a master of their profession? Don’t we examine the results of their work? When we go to a dentist, don’t we want make sure that dentist is certified by his peers? Of course we do. But why is their recommendation useful? Is it because dentists generally do good work? Not entirely. In fact, we have competing societies such as the American Dental Association (ADA) and the National Dental Association (NDA) that exist to foster the cause of oral health (here and here are lists of such organizations). More important, as lists on ADA and NDA show, we have numerous educational institutions that compete to certify dentists. That competition ensures certified dentists are competent. That competition also ensures that we all don’t have to be dentists to pick a good dentist. All we have to do is make certain our dentist is certified and that his customers are satisfied with his work.
What happens when government involves itself? When government takes over, government almost always eliminates competition, putting us all in an awkward situation. Here is an everyday example. How do we pick which school our children attend? We don’t. As voters, we can vote to replace our school board member, but that is the extent of our choice. Instead of a having a choice, government officials tell us which schools our children must attend. We cannot search for a school where the teachers are certified and the parents are happy with the work the teachers do. We are either stuck with one choice, or we have to relocate our residence.
To make the public school system work properly for our children, as a community we must become educational experts. Because of the government monopoly, we cannot judge educational experts by the quality of their work. Because we now run the schools, we must understand how “the expert” does his work.
How does The Theory of Evolution relate to this problem? The Theory of Evolution is one small portion of the curriculum. Because it touches upon a religious belief — how we came to be — The Theory of Evolution seems particularly controversial. In reality, however, we argue over every aspect of the school curriculum, including the methods we use to teach the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic. In a competitive environment, parents would just look for schools with good reputations staffed by teachers whose values they share. In a monopoly environment, to make sure the experts do what they are suppose to do, we have to become experts, and that’s just not possible.