I have written a few posts about evolution in the past, usually defending the theory, but attempting to convince creationists what evolution is about is really a pointless exercise due to their unwillingness – or inability – to look at or understand the facts presented to them. So, I thought that starting from the beginning and trying to convince some of them first what evolution ISN’T – might be worthwhile. We can only try anyway…
I have taken an excerpt from the excellent writing on the Ebon Musings site, in particular the evolution pages section that presents the argument well. If you have the time, I suggest you read the entire evolution section as it is excellent.
“Some creationists have claimed that evolution is a religion, but this claim too is false. Evolution is well supported by evidence, and all its basic mechanisms can be observed to operate today; unlike religion, it does not require faith. In addition, no one claims evolution is an inerrant doctrine – like all branches of science, it is being constantly tested and refined, and it could be falsified and rejected if the right evidence turned up. No one prays to evolution. Also like all sciences, evolution is theologically neutral. It says nothing, one way or the other, about the existence of God or the supernatural; it does not require divine intervention, but nor does it forbid it. Atheists can accept evolution without believing there is anything more, while theists can accept evolution and believe that their god controls it. Any god can be given credit for using evolution as the method of creation, and indeed, theists of all denominations accept it.
One of the most common misrepresentations of evolution is to extend it beyond its boundaries, claiming it says more than it actually does. The theory of evolution says nothing about the origin of the universe, the origin of the earth or even the origin of life. Evolution concerns itself only with the subsequent development of life once it already existed. The manner in which life first came into being is irrelevant to evolutionary theory, though it is covered in a related field, abiogenesis. (If God had miraculously created the first living cell in the primordial soup, evolution could have taken over normally from there.) The origin of the universe and other cosmological bodies is not biology at all; it is sometimes referred to as stellar evolution, but it is an unrelated branch of science and has nothing to do with the theory first proposed by Charles Darwin.
In addition to not being a religion, evolution is also not, nor does it pretend to be, a moral guide. Creationists sometimes charge that “if we’re descended from animals, we should act like animals,” but this is an example of a classic logical blunder – the naturalistic or “is implies ought” fallacy. Just because things are some way does not mean that they should be that way, or that it is right that they be that way. It is true that, in nature, there is much pain, suffering and death, even things that seem needlessly cruel. Natural selection can be a harsh and uncaring process, if we insist on subjecting an unintelligent force of nature to a human value judgment. But this does not mean it is right to be cruel and uncaring, just as the theory of gravity does not mean we should push people off tall buildings, or the germ theory of disease does not mean we should not treat sick people. Like all sciences, evolution is descriptive and not prescriptive. It is merely a statement of the way things are, not a statement of the way they should be. And for what it is worth, for every example of cruelty in nature, there is at least one counterexample of love, kindness, or cooperation. Many animals are monogamous, care for their offspring and defend them with their lives. Symbiosis, or reciprocal generosity, has proven to be a very effective survival strategy. Some of our closest relatives among the apes even care for and feed the wounded, sick or crippled among their numbers, displaying an almost human compassion. This is not meant to alleviate the cruelties and violences nature often also displays – it is merely meant to illustrate the uselessness of trying to derive moral rules from scientific theories.”
Fantastic. I can’t do better to explain this. Let’s see what comments we get.