The religion of evolution

I’ve heard this claim more times than I can mention, and I think that it’s a feeble attempt to bring the theory of evolution down to the level of the accuser. If they believe in a religion, and they have faith that their god is the divine creator, then by the same standard any opposing theory must also be a belief, require faith, and slot into the category of religion. The first mistake that they usually make is not researching evolution enough to understand it, and fail to recognise that a scientific theory is based on gathered evidence, as opposed to a standard theory which is an idea, or a suggestion to explain an event. The second mistake is thinking that the scientific method requires faith, as it’s deeply rooted in scepticism and doubt, and unlike a religion it’s able to adapt upon discovery of new knowledge, and/or evidence.

I read a dreadful article on AIG where the authors, both claiming to be doctors, suggest that there’s no observable evidence for evolution, but creationism has observable evidence in the Bible, as it’s the word of god. There are many examples of observed evidence for evolution, and nothing except words from the Bible and speculation on divine creation. Young Earth creationists believe that the Earth is approximately 6,000 years old.

“2,000 years from Adam to Abraham, 2,000 years from Abraham to Christ, and 2,000 years from Christ to today.” – Source

Here’s the scientific version.

“By dating the rocks in Earth’s ever-changing crust, as well as the rocks in Earth’s neighbors, such as the moon and visiting meteorites, scientists have calculated that Earth is 4.54 billion years old, with an error range of 50 million years.” – Source

As you can see there’s a tremendously vast difference in the age of the Earth from both parties and it’s actually a four billion five hundred thirty-nine million nine hundred ninety-four thousand difference. So when you accept how creationists blindly believe the words of the Bible over science, then it’s of no surprise that they think that evolution requires faith, so by their logic, must be a religion, but that’s assuming that creationists are able to apply logic in the first place. The way the creationist mind works is obvious, and it’s a fear of uncertainty. The Bible maps the birth of the universe and the start of life as an encyclopaedia, a pseudoscientific one, but all of the answers that they require are there. Whereas science whilst in the search for knowledge, being derived from the Latin word ‘scientia’, literally meaning knowledge, it’s about applying reason and doubt. Both of these processes go back as far as the archaic Greek philosophers, mainly the skeptics.

“Well I am certainly wiser than this man. It is only too likely that neither of us has any knowledge to boast of; but he thinks that he knows something which he does not know, whereas I am quite conscious of my ignorance. At any rate it seems that I am wiser than he is to this small extent, that I do not think that I know what I do not know.” – Socrates

Having the honesty to say ‘I don’t know, as the evidence is insufficient’ is a frightening concept to them, and it’s rare to find a sceptic person of faith, as gods require absolute belief and obedience.

Scientists claim that they think unicellular to multicellular is in principal the same as a ‘ratcheting mechanism’, in that it can only go one way. What this means is a scenario is created where it’s only beneficial to a group, and destructive to anything alone, meaning there is no reversion to the state it was in before. In other words unicellular life banded together as a group and became reliant on each other, so there was no chance of a mutation to turn multicellular life back into unicellular life. In a group state, mathematically there’s more chance of mutation, but a mutation to go forward, and not backwards. This is Microevolution at work when there are small, but significant changes at a molecular and cellular level, caused from selection, genetic drift, gene flow and of course mutation. This is certainly a possibility of how life went from unicellular to multicellular. Biologists have been studying evolution for centuries are there are several key areas, and they include:

Anatomy – which shows that species that are similar in structure ie: humans and chimpanzees. Dogs, whales and humans all have similar bone structures in the forelimbs, which suggests that not only did the whale once walk on land, which will explain why mammals live in the sea, but the development of the related bone structure developed in a common ancestor.

DNA – genetic coding that’s shared throughout species that prove a universal common ancestor. This includes the building blocks of life; amino acids.

Resistance – this is how a species evolves to survive ie: bacteria vs antibiotics, and insects vs pesticides

Fossils – that provide evidence of our long extinct relatives.

Natural selection – is the change of biological heredity of a population through generations. Considering bacteria mostly has such a short life span, then several generations can happen very fast. Some microbes can live for hundreds of years on a surface, and some, like HIV only last seconds, but most don’t last very long at all.

Convergent evolution studies how significantly distinct species have evolved the same way through evolution. The strikingly similar features of a shark and a dolphin, despite one being a fish and one being a mammal. To look at they are similar, but anatomically they are very different. A shark has gills and cartilage structure, whereas a dolphin has bones and breathes fresh air. Physically they are very similar in that they have evolved for a common goal. To swim fast and efficiently through water.

Divergent Evolution takes us back to unicellular life, and how the diversity of modern life came from it, and how life can develop from a common ancestor.

Real time observation – watching species evolve over time, and a great example of this is the Florida green lizard who over several generations evolved its feet to climb higher up trees to narrower branches to avoid competition.

Vestigiality – this is organisms that have retained redundant body parts. Did you know that snakes have pelvic bones? Creationists will argue that was god’s doing as he punished the serpent in the garden of Eden.

Biographical relations – put the same species of animals in two different environments and over time they will change to suit the habitat. This is what inspired Charles Darwin to study finches at the Galápagos Islands.

“The fact is that evolutionists believe in evolution because they want to. It is their desire at all costs to explain the origin of everything without a Creator. Evolutionism is thus intrinsically an atheistic religion. Some may prefer to call it humanism, and New Age evolutionists may place it in the context of some form of pantheism, but they all amount to the same thing. Whether atheism or humanism (or even pantheism), the purpose is to eliminate a personal God from any active role in the origin of the universe and all its components, including man.” – Source

The above quote is taken from another creationist organisation, and this time it’s the Institute for Creation Research, and as you can see, they are as delusional as Answers in Genesis. This article, however, is extremely bitter and is a direct attack against atheism, in which because we can’t prove there’s no god, then we must have faith, thus making it a religion, and they also claim that evolution isn’t promoted as a science, it’s promoted as a secular religion. So that means that I not only practise the religion of atheism, but I also practise the religion of evolution. How do these people genuinely expect to be taken seriously when they manufacture things to suit their agenda? Because scientists can’t fully explain naturalism, or provide evidence of abiogenesis, does this mean that because we’ve an incomplete picture, then it’s obviously false? And by their standards, believing something that they claim is without evidence is a religion, then surely it’s a two way street and they are being hypocritical?

Apes together strong

As usual when social media gets busy, in this case people are home because of COVID19, the theists crawl out of the woodwork, claim evolution is pseudoscience, and make jokes about atheism and their monkey grandparents. It’s all very hilarious, and I get belly aches from laughing every time I see their memes and videos. It’s all terribly amusing. But on a serious note, why do they doubt that humans and chimpanzees don’t share a common ancestor, and humans are in fact Great Apes (Primates).

If we came from monkeys, then why are there still monkeys?

This question is a classic creationist dilemma, and to answer it we need to establish what exactly they mean by ‘monkeys’. Many people are unaware that apes are not monkeys, and monkeys are not apes. They are a completely different species that potentially share the same ancestor. Monkeys and apes are both primates, but differ in many ways. There are only several species of apes, and these include humans, chimpanzees, gorillas, gibbons, bonobos, or orangutans, as opposed to the multitude of species of monkey. Apes are generally much larger, have larger brains which enables a much higher form of intelligence, they tend to live a lot longer than monkeys, and are adapted to living and swinging in trees, whereas monkeys have a tail that they use for balance as they tend to run along branches more often than swing.

So now we’ve established the difference we can now understand that humans are apes, not monkeys, but apes and monkeys are both primates that share an unknown common ancestor. Through natural selection it’s the species most adaptable to change, so there’s a distinct possibility that the ‘missing link’ was either hunted into extinction, or died out as a species due to strong competition for territory, and/or food.

New species often appear when an existing species is isolated, or exists in a different location, or climate and they adapt to their surroundings, which usually forms genetic changes over generations. Some species don’t adapt as quickly as interbreeding can happen if they come in contact, but a long time in separate colonies with different surroundings and necessities to survive then eventually they’ll be so different that they can’t be described as the same species any more. This is how evolution works, and Darwin described natural selection as

“I have called this principle, by which each slight variation, if useful, is preserved, by the term of Natural Selection. We shall best understand the probable course of natural selection by taking the case of a country undergoing some slight physical change, for instance, of climate. The proportional numbers of its inhabitants will almost immediately undergo a change, and some species will probably become extinct.” – Charles Darwin

We can look at this from another angle.

If Americans came from Europeans, then why are there still Europeans?

This question is no different than the monkey question. America’s ancestors are European, and the reason Europeans still exist is because they are able to survive in the state they’re in. Monkeys survive in abundance as they’ve got all of the resources they need to keep colonies existing and continuing the bloodline. They have natural predators like chimpanzees, but their numbers are so high that there remains an equilibrium. So there is no need for the monkey to evolve as where they live, for the majority, is the ideal habitat. Take a monkey away from that, place them in a city with no access to wildlife and their natural diet, and over time they’ll have no choice but to adapt to survive.

Why haven’t all other apes turned into humans?

Palaeontologists will say that the modern chimpanzee has been in the same state for over three times as long as homo Sapiens, and the reason they haven’t evolved further is they’ve no need to as they only really have one a few predators, and if they defend themselves in numbers then they do just fine.

Why would chimpanzees evolve into humans anyway?

They would no doubt take on another evolutionary path if they had to adapt to survive, and a new species would become, and its highly unlikely that they’d share the exact same characteristics as humans. There’s a strong chance that many species split away from the missing link, and other species of humans didn’t survive as Homo Sapiens became the dominant species.

Creationists think that evolution is a myth, as we should be able to witness the changes in a species within generations. This does indeed happen, and the native ‘green lizard‘ in Florida is an example of this. Due to invading lizards they’ve had to adapt in a short time to survive and to do this their feet have evolved so they can grip thinner, smoother branches higher up trees.

Evolution isn’t about progression like many people assume. It doesn’t work that way. Evolution occurs when a species reaches a point where if they remain in their current state, then survival isn’t guaranteed. Evolution is about continuing the species and being able to reproduce. That’s it, and if a creature is perfectly happy, living in abundance, perfect dietary needs, and the ability to reproduce, then the creature will remain as it is. Sharks have survived successfully as a species for over 400,000,000 years as their design is perfect, and they have no natural predators, just like crocodiles who survived the extinction of the dinosaurs.

What is the missing link?

The ‘missing link‘ is a pseudoscientific term to describe the lack of fossilised remains to determine what could have been the ancestor of primates. Biologists don’t think the term ‘missing link’ has any credibility and prefer the term ‘common ancestor’. What the missing link implies is a linear basis for evolution, rather than branching out into different species. Many species of early human have been discovered, but I’m certain beyond doubt that the fossil discovery is in its infancy, and there’s much more to discover. The common ancestor is essentially several pieces missing from a jigsaw, in significant places where the full picture can’t be seen. Creationists use this incomplete scientific theory to imply that for something to be created then there must be a creator, but there’s no scientific basis whatsoever that life was manufactured.

What caused humans to evolve?

Humans have been around for about six million years and have been evolving that whole time to suit their surroundings, and perhaps the reason we evolved and other apes not as much is possibly curiosity. Early humans left the canopies off the jungles and decided to explore, and biologists believe that the first advancement was becoming bipedal (walking on two legs). Whilst other apes have the ability to do this, it’s only for a short time as their feet aren’t fit for walking upright for lengthy periods, whereas humans’ feet evolved flat. Along with the curiosity we learnt to build tools and communicate, and eventually develop spoken language, and this is what separates us from other primates.

The majority of fossilised remains of early humans have been found in the continent of Africa where Paleoanthropologists have estimated that they began to move to Asia over 1.5 million years ago, and gradually spread around the world living in tribes, and the first real civilisations have only existed since approximately 10,000 years ago, when the society formed in Mesopotamia, which was located in the region of Iraq, Syria, Kuwait and Turkey and is affectionately known as the ‘cradle of civilisation’. This is where the first recorded agriculture occurred in the form of farmland, and the first of the cities, Uruk, was built just over 5,000 years ago. Uruk was where the first written languages were developed, and laws were created, time and calendars were devised and public records kept. So as a civilised society we’re aren’t that far away from the days when we were hunter gatherers who literally lived day by day trying to survive as a species.

So how do we know for sure that we are apes?

I can’t just say we are as the evidence is there, as I’d be no better than a creationist who makes a claim but has no basis of fact to back it up. We are ‘Hominidae‘ which is one of four genera, and we share this group with bonobo and chimpanzee. Due to our almost identical genetic makeup, some animal rights associations believe that non-human, Great Apes are people, have a strong sentient consciousness, and are worthy of the same rights as humans, and are potentially susceptible to human viruses like COVID-19. Not only do we have extremely similar genetics, but our bone structure and muscle groups are almost identical. We share almost 99% of DNA with both the Great Ape chimpanzee, and the Lesser Ape bonobo. Humans like our Ape relatives have strong social groups, slow growth and few offspring, as opposed to other mammals that have litters. They also rely on vision and hearing rather than sense of smell and pheromones, and scientists are confident that alongside humans, Great Apes are the only mammals who are able to see a full spectrum of colour.

Don’t we share more than 60% of DNA with bananas?

This argument I’ve encountered many, many times from theists, and whilst it’s true, they have no idea why it’s true, and I’ve read people say that if we’re 99% chimpanzee, then we are 60% banana, but this isn’t as simple as claiming we are 2/3 similar in genetics to a favourite fruit of Ray Comfort. A genome is an instruction manual that every living thing has, and it informs the DNA of how to create protein, which is essentially life. This determines, size, colour, and helps create enzymes and hormones. Due the fact that all life on Earth had the same last universal common ancestor‘ (LUCA), the single cell organism, everything that came after shares a similar instruction manual to control cells. So we are as much 2/3 banana as we are a rat, or a turnip.

How did ‪Abiogenesis occur?‬

This isn’t an easy subject to cover as trying to convince someone that life originated from non-life is like getting blood from a stone, but scientists have theories, and one thing they have to agree on is life began at a quantum level. We can agree that biology is a form of chemistry at heart, and chemistry is the study and understanding of atomic electrons, and quantum mechanics is the study of particles at a subatomic level, and how they interact. Biology studies how highly complex molecules self organise in a perfect way. Some scientists study thermodynamics, which is the transfer of heat and energy, and how processes naturally occur when energy enters their environment.

What is entropy?

Entropy is uncertainty, and is energy that’s in a non-equilibrium state. When something is in an equilibrium it’s in order with its surroundings. Take something as being room temperature. A liquid as an example has reached a state of equilibrium with its surroundings. But this isn’t how life works, it needs heat from the sun, or food for energy, so it can grow. Everyone has heard of the ‘MillerUrey‘ experiment that attempted to recreate the conditions of early Earth. They decided that if they placed the gases that they believed that were present on Earth at the time they believed life began, in an enclosed environment, and applied energy, they could potentially create the basis of life (abiogenesis), and over time amino acids were created, which are essential building blocks for life. These experiments are considered by many as pseudoscience as no one could possibly know what’s Earth’s early conditions were like, but after Miller’s death, scientists discovered that in vials in his laboratory there were more than the amino acids that he originally claimed he’d found. And more than what is actually needed for life. There’s more about this in my article The tree of life, which goes into quite extensive detail of how life could have arisen. I’m quite confident of one thing, and that no God was responsible.

The religion of scientism

This is a relatively newcomer in the fallacious arguments that theists are presenting, and it needs addressing. Science is derived from the Latin word ‘scientia‘ which means ‘knowledge‘, and is the systematic study of the natural world through observation, research, experimentation and scepticism applied by using the ‘scientific method‘, which is the only objective way to study the three main branches of science; ‘physics, chemistry, biology‘, and is briefly described in the below quote.

• Characterisations (observations, definitions, and measurements of the subject of inquiry)

• Hypotheses (theoretical, hypothetical explanations of observations and measurements of the subject)

• Predictions (inductive and deductive reasoning from the hypothesis or theory)

• Experiments (tests of all of the above) – Source

Once a scientific study is concluded, it’s then put forward, often in an article to be scrutinised by a ‘peer review’ to judge whether it’s credible enough in evidence to be published as a scientific theory. Often scientific theories are confused with standard theories, and it’s a common mistake by people who don’t understand the process of how a scientific theory comes about.

A ‘theory‘ is a basic idea of how to explain things that are often based on assumptions. ie: ‘In theory practise makes perfection‘. This has no basis of truth and is just simple guesswork as there’s no way of determining that practising something can make you better so as to teach the point of perfection.

A ‘scientific theory‘ is extremely different in the way that it’s based on fact as opposed to assumption. Take the theory of evolution as an example. It’s a fact that evolution is the basis of life and Darwin coined the phrase ‘natural selection‘ where he suggested that it’s not the strongest, or the fittest that will survive, it’s the species that’s most adaptable to change, and the evidence of this is in abundance. In opposition to evolution is ‘Intelligent Design‘ and that’s got no scientific basis and relies purely on speculation and assumption, so that’s a basic theory.

The notion from many modern theists that science is somehow a religion and faith based really grinds my gears. It’s nothing more than obtuse ignorance and there’s no excuse for it considering how readily available factual information can be obtained in this digital age. A religion is adoration for a deity/God or complete faith and trust in something that involves devotion. Science is the pursuit of information and facts through strict scepticism, and the necessity to find the truth, by using reason, logic and critical thinking.

How could science and religion ever be compatible?

I know that many of the world’s most notorious scientists had some form of religious faith and I’ve heard the argument from theists that a large number of the Nobel peace prize (Nobels fredspris) laureates had religious backgrounds, but what they fail to understand is that they kept their faith and religious beliefs separate. The title ‘father of the scientific method‘ is commonly credited to ‘Sir Francis Bacon‘, who in the seventeenth century rose up the ranks for his brilliant, yet sceptical scientific mind. Whilst being a dedicated scientist, he was a devout Anglican, but he believed that the philosophy of science and the natural world must be studied without bias and of an inductive approach, but all answers eventually lead to the existence of God. Having the ability to keep his faith and his scientific approach separate made him very unique at the time.

“A little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion.” – Sir Francis Bacon

Sir Issac Newton‘, who was also alive during the seventeenth century was a key component in the scientific revolution, was also born into an Anglican family. He devised the theories of the three laws of motion;

• Every object in a state of uniform motion will remain in that state of motion unless an external force acts on it.

• Force equals mass times acceleration

• For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Despite being a devout Anglican like Bacon, some scholars claim he had a keen interest in alchemy, and because of this he was described as a heretic in his later years. He believed in the idea of a monotheistic God as the creator but he rejected many other concepts and doctrines of orthodox Christianity which were expected at the time. Men like Bacon and Newton have my admiration as they were both highly intelligent scientists, who despite having religious views that I don’t share, made massively influential contributions to science, and not only did they keep their religious views and science separate, they never made a claim that scientism is a religion.