We have just celebrated the 199th anniversary of
And of course the “theory” of evolution has now been extensively proven, beyond any reasonable doubt, to be correct. Yes, there are aspects of evolution that are still in contention, partly because they don’t appear to strictly follow one or the other principles of
Yet polls show that at least half of Americans do not “believe” in the theory of evolution, but instead believe in alternative pseudo-scientific theories: first “creationism”, followed more recently by its shabbily disguised offspring, “intelligent design”. Why such widespread disbelief in evolution? Well, it’s partly explained by the 18th century scientist Georg Lichtenberg: “When a book and a head collide and there is a hollow sound, does the hollow sound always emanate from the book?”
But here’s a different way of looking at this question: why don’t the opponents of evolution also oppose progress in physics and cosmology? The answer seems simple: recent advances by physicists and cosmologists in our understanding of the universe generally make no direct statements about the origin of human life. However, there are some very recent, interesting, and pretty far-out cosmological theories, involving multiple universes in infinitely expanding space, that do make statements about all life, including of course human beings. These theories imply that the existence of life in our particular universe could be simply the outcome of a completely random process of universe production. I think it is probably fortunate for the cosmologists that these more recent theories are completely unknown to the general public.
By contrast, it is widely known that the theory of evolution states that we humans were not created in our “perfect” form by a Grand Creator, but that we instead evolved from lower, “baser” organisms. Even worse for the chances of this theory being accepted, it is quite clear that the process of evolution proceeds with no intervention whatsoever from a supernatural force.
This refusal by much of the public to accept evolution could be at least partially corrected by enlightened educational policies. However, schools in many parts of the country- one thinks especially of
The federal government has also failed us, by permitting individual states like
The rejection of evolution by at least half of all Americans is extremely frustrating to biologists and other scientifically literate individuals. Societal disbelief in the established theory of evolution is, to biologists, as ridiculous and insulting as rejection by the public of basic, proven concepts in physics, such as the laws of gravity and relativity, would be to physicists.
I very much hope that societal evolution will ultimately render the pseudo-theories of creationism and intelligent design, like the dinosaurs, extinct.