Friday, June 22, 2012

The Magic Wand of Evolution


The Christian theist is often accused of arguing for the “God of the Gaps” when invoking God as an explanation. It’s important to understand that this is actually a complete misrepresentation of what the theist should be arguing. Theists such as William Lane Craig and Stephen Meyer argue by using a method that scientists and philosophers call “inference to the best explanation,” also known as the method of competing hypothesis. Briefly summarizing, this is when competing explanations are weighted and the one that best explains the relevant data is considered to be the correct one. One of the main reasons I prefer arguing for the best explanation is preciously because I believe it helps eliminate gap-type arguments.  For more on inference to the best explanation, see here.

However, as of late, it seems that in my reading, personal discussions and blogging, I have experienced another gap-type argument that I have dubbed “The Magic Wand of Evolution.”  This is when a challenge is brought before a skeptic or atheist and they simply reply “evolution” or “I believe evolution created….” And POOF! Somehow, in their minds, they have magically provided a satisfying explanation to the problem at hand. How do you explain the existence of objective moral values? Why, evolution of course. How do you explain how we got life from non-life? [1]  Evolution my good man! How do you account for the vast complexity we find in living things? Evolution! Ta-Da! [2] From my recent experiences, it seems that proponents of neo-Darwinian evolution find this to be a fulfilling answer to such difficult questions. It’s just that easy friend.  

In reality, this is no type of explanation at all. This is merely an assertion and an assertion does not equal an argument. It seems that the atheist cries foul whenever the theist defends God as an explanation for a known body of data or problem; however, many of them [not all] are quick to assert "The Magic Wand of Evolution" as an explanation and seem to be under the impression that this somehow provides an adequate, intellectually satisfying answer.

In closing, I believe it’s important for the wizards who wield their wands to understand that in invoking the "The Magic Wand of Evolution" they have explained nothing and until they provide an actual argument for their proposed explanation we theists are under no obligation to take their assertion seriously. 



Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnotes
:
1. I realize that this is the process of abiogenesis; however, this was an explanation offered to me in a conversation with an atheist.  When I asked how he believed we got the first life, he responded by attempting to describe an evolutionary type process.
2. A perfect example of this is in Richard Dawkins’ book, The God Delusion.

7 comments:

Robin Lionheart said...

So, when we refer to a theory overwhelmingly supported by multiple independent lines of scientific evidence, you hear a nonanswer like “God did it.”

Life from non-life is abiogenesis, not evolution. But evolution does explain the vast complexity of life, and the emergence of moral behavior. You might find such explanations satisfying if you learned the science behind them.

Chad said...

Hello Robin,

Thank you for taking the time to comment.

I would like to offer a few thoughts.

"...you hear a nonanswer like “God did it."

You have attacked a straw-man here. As I mentioned in the post, the theist argues for the best explanation.

"Life from non-life is abiogenesis, not evolution."

I agree with you. However, as I mentioned in the post, this post stems from blogging experiences, conversations and personal reading. In a recent conversation I had with an atheist, when I asked about how we got the first life, his solution was an evolutionary process. I will adjust the post accordingly so that this is more clear.

Your comment perfectly illustrates my point. You simply assert that evolution explains the vast complexity of life and the emergence of moral behavior. An assertion does not equal an argument.

"You might find such explanations satisfying if you learned the science behind them."

I would love to hear how you could possibly know that I haven't.

Take care

Chad said...

Btw, my main contention is this post is that simply saying "evolution did it" while offering no justification isn't really an explanation.

This seems obviously true.

Mark said...

Evolution is widely accepted as a fact because the theory makes testable predictions that are always found to be true.

For example, all great apes have 24 pairs of chromosomes, whereas humans have 23. It is inconceivable that a species could suddenly lost a chromosome pair and still survive. So the theory of evolution predicted that one human chromosome pair would be a fusion of two great ape chromosomes, and we should find two centromeres (chromosomoe centers) in one pair.

And when scientists looked, lo and behold, human chromosome 2 had two centromeres, and provided strong evidence for evolution. This is one of thousands of experiments that confirmed evolution.

In contrast, creationism makes no testable predictions (at least none that I'm aware). Heck, they don't even describe a plausible mechanism by which a creator could have created the human race. Did he have microscopic angels pushing protons and electrons into the right position? Or was it more like how Gargamel created the smurfs, I.e. did God enter a bunch of ingredients into a cauldron, and pull a human out?

Chad said...

Hello Mark and thank you for taking the time to comment.

My goal in this post was not to:

1. Argue against Darwinian evolution
2. Argue for "creationism"

As I stated above, my main contention is this post is that simply saying "evolution did it" while offering no justification isn't really an explanation.

Again, this seems obviously true.

Now, although I am not defending any other premise than the one above, I will, however, offer some links that you and other readers may find interesting.

You wrote:

"Evolution is widely accepted as a fact because the theory makes testable predictions that are always found to be true."

You may want to checkout Darwin's Predictions.

You stating some evidence for ape/human common ancestry. Here, as I've stated before on the blog, I simply encourage people to follow the evidence!

Thank you

Brooke said...

Chad your link to Dad won't predictions led me to a vaping site, can you recheck that?

Chad said...

Hello Brooke,

Thank you for making me aware of the broken link! It looks like the site I linked to is no longer up and running.

You can find the original author's site here.

Dr. Cornelius's site is a great place to keep up with the ID/evolution debate!

Godspeed