Friday, 6 February 2009
Happy Birthday Charles Darwin
The comparative data on public acceptance of evolution is not new and should be treated with a degree of scepticism because of the different phraseology used in the questioning process. However, it should not be a surprise that those countries with a strong religious undercurrent in their societies turn out to be more unwilling to accept evolutionary theory. Although I have not seen any statistics, I suspect that the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Brazil and South Africa might have an even lower acceptance percentage than those polled.
So what, religion has been ‘evolving’ for about 150,000 years so it is unlikely to be rationalised into obscurity inside a mere 150 years.
Darwin’s theory challenged not only the accepted scientific theories of the time, but also the very structure of society, its mores and laws. We all need explanations for the world we live in and prefer a stable, secure and understandable structure to an unpredictable dynamic quantum environment where answers are hard to come by. Looking at history, it does seem that strong religious belief declines with education and the free availability of knowledge.
Perhaps the only advantage of having a global population of 6.5 billion is that we have a lot more people to do research and publish new information and theories. Although we may never have all the fossil pieces of human evolutionary development, we have sufficient evidence now to justify the claim that we have anthropoid ancestors. Not to accept this evidence flies in the face of reason.
Incidentally, although I do not have evidence of human transitional species I do have it for the genus Casuarius, which are birds, in the process of speciation.
There is not one shred of scientific evidence which supports the existence of a God, but that is not proof that there is not one – divorced as it may be from our limited perception horizons. Darwin’s theory is just a theory, but what it proposes can be tested and has opened a new way to explain the world about us. This radical departure from established religious teachings will take time to be universally accepted and integrated into our society. There are powerful vested interests throughout the world which wish to continue with a religion-based society and the adherent laws for government and property justification. Just because we have had a few thousand years of religious dominated history is no reason why we should have any more. Future generations will smile at our naivety in holding such beliefs, but we should hope they remember to utilise the positive elements when discarding the theological framework which still causes oppression, suffering and bloodshed.
Charles Darwin would be delighted to see the multitude of scientific discoveries which have been made since his death and the improvement many of them have made to our lives. Without his theory our world would be worse off and that is a tribute for any birthday.