Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Counter views

Seeing as how I've ranted repetitively about how Creationism and Intelligent Design have no place in Biology, I thought I would do an interesting little twist on the whole argument today. Let's examine evolution's plausibility through a creationist's lens, and vice versa.

Evidence of evolution, as viewed by a Creationist: well, this is pretty easy. Creationists believe the world was created by God, and therefore any evidence that supports evolution was placed there by God. Why God would litter the Earth with billions of pieces of evidence that point to another theory, I'm not sure. Maybe it is a test of faith, a way to throw others off His trail so that one must prove they truly believe in God over logic. Which makes sense, when you don't think about it.

Evidence of creationism, as viewed by a biologist: well, there really isn't any evidence of creationism, per se, other than people's belief in it. However, looking at the belief structure, and religion in general, through a Darwinian perspective, it makes sense. Just about every society on earth has some sort of religious beliefs in a higher power or powers that control their lives, and that serving these powers helps them out in some way, usually in some form of afterlife. When viewed on a societal scale, really, what is religion? It is sort of a moral layaway: if you believe in these religions, which all have rules that generally help society function (don't steal, murder, or philander), then good things will come to you both in this life and the next. This is a very powerful device in keeping a society ordered and functioning, and extremely helpful in keeping groups of people together with a common purpose.

Now, if in the days of sticks and stones, there were some tribes that didn't believe in religion or any system of beliefs, when times got tough (drought, famine, battle of the network stars, etc) they would likely have much more infighting for the limited resources, with the stronger taking from the weak and the tribe likely fracturing. These fractures weaken the group as a whole, even if it only leaves the tougher members, which ultimately makes them less able to compete with other groups for resources. Contrast this with a group that has a loose set of laws, be they religious or otherwise, and they are more likely to preserve the health of the group because the threshold for violence and destructive behavior is much tougher to reach; therefore, these groups are more likely to stay intact in tough times as well as crowd out the smaller, less pious groups from resources. This leads to the large group being able to sustain more offspring, get even larger, and crowd out even more groups.

So, as we see, it makes sense that a group would develop and propagate a predisposition to accepting religion and moral laws, especially as the frontal lobes (and logical reasoning) continued to develop. As humans became more and more self-aware, the prospect of only having one life and no reward after makes the prospect of accepting a lower echelon position in the pack a bitter pill that most wouldn't want to swallow. However, with a predisposition to religion and religious experiences, suddenly the people lower on the totem pole have a reason to not only accept a subservient role but to embrace it, as it helps the group survive and also expand. Sort of a natural "the good of the many outweigh the good of the few" mechanism.

So what does this mean? Well, I guess it means it makes sense that people want to believe in creationism, if only because they are prewired to; really, it is a biological thing that they do, and it is very hard to let go of because it is what our societal mechanism is based on. Then again, biologically, we (or at least men) are also prewired to want to screw everything that moves, but we keep those feelings in check because we have developed our frontal lobes. So is it too much to ask that the creationists use their frontal lobes to look at evolution critically, much in the same way they use it to neuter their libidos?


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