A Willowbrook Legacy
Things Younger than McCain and the Governing Body

The Emotional Theory of Evolution

There is much evidence that can be cited in support of evolution.

But it doesn’t add up to much. It may imply its conclusion, but it hardly proves it. Its like a huge mound of pennies: substantial in its bulk, but you’re not going to retire off it. To make up for the lack, factual evidence in support of evolution is complemented by a liberal dose of emotion, and the two in tandem account for evolution’s dominant position in popular thinking. Is not emotion, rather than factual evidence, the more influential of the pair?

Science, by it’s very nature, is ill-equipped to reach conclusions regarding our origin. It is too constrained by its own scientific method, the self-imposed modus operendi of scientists:

Observe what happens; based on those observations form a hypothesis as to what may be true; test the hypothesis by further observation and experiments; and watch to see if the predictions based on the theory are fulfilled. If they are, your hypothesis is strengthened. If not, you’d better rethink your hypothesis.

The emphasis is on things that can be observed. And manipulated. And experimented upon. Experiments should be repeatable so that others can verify any conclusions. These requirements lend themselves to physics and chemistry and such, but they don’t suit the search for our origins very well, for that search is a matter of history. History can’t be repeated, it can’t be experimented upon, it can’t be observed. Sure, clues can be examined and probed a bit….some tentative conclusions can be drawn….but science is left without it’s most treasured weapons.

Americans today watch a lot of CSI television shows. The steel-resolved (but attractive) heroes of those stories come armed with microscopes and lasers and test tubes and God knows what else. They solve whatever riddle and always nail the villain. If high tech cops can catch crooks this way, surely, scientists can do the same with our origins, viewers figure. But alas, our origins are infinitely more complex and clues are contradictory.

And if the scientific method cherishes repeatable experiments, it also disdains testimonials and anecdotal evidence. This type of evidence is inherently unreliable, say those champions of the scientific method. Yet what is history if not testimonials and anecdotal evidence? And again, our origin is history.

As to the emotional content of evolution, is it not revealed in this comment of H. S. Lipson? (Physics Bulletin, 1980, Vol 31, p 138, and reproduced in one of the Watchtower publications, which collects such statements) He discusses some dilemma or other regarding origins and concludes: “The only acceptable explanation is creation. I know that this is anathema to physicists, as indeed it is to me, but we must not reject a theory if the experimental evidence supports it.”

He uses a curious word: anathema. Is it a Freudian slip? It’s a word you might not expect a scientist to use. Are not members of that group coolly unemotional, unswayed by feeling, moved only by hard facts? “Anathema,” however, conveys intense emotion. Accursed, detested, and loathed would all do nicely as synonyms.

The primary support for evolution is emotional in nature, not factual. That’s not to say that facts cannot be garnered in support of evolution. They certainly can be. But those facts are not weighty or substantial enough to account for evolution’s rapid ascendancy and its present iron grip on modern-day thinking. Emotion accounts for it. Specifically, the emotion of anathema Lipson spoke of…..anathema towards religion with all its sordid history.

If creation is correct, then it puts religious leaders in the driver’s seat, and they are a smug, abusive, sometimes ignorant bunch. The times they enjoyed most authority is the time history records as the “Dark Ages.” They brought us the Crusades. They brought us the Inquisition. They brought us a virtual ban on reason and discovery. We all know the opposition Copernicus and Galileo encountered when they ventured that the earth was not flat and was not the center of the universe.

Of course, clerical ignorance was not the Bible’s ignorance. The Bible’s statements on earth’s position and shape are up to date:

He is stretching out the north over the empty place,
Hanging the earth upon nothing……He has described a circle upon the face of the waters, to where light ends in darkness…….
Job 26:7,10

No reasonable person wants to cede authority back to these guys. Coming into more modern times they preached unqualified support for World Wars I and II.

Moreover, had they stuck with the Bible’s reasonable explanations regarding deathand suffering, they might have had something with which to counter the present “age of reason.” The Bible explanations may not be scientific, but they certainly make sense. But no! religious leaders long ago jettisoned such appealing teachings for doctrines that are incomprehensible, if not repugnant: doctrines like trinityand hellfire.

The emotional appeal of evolution is that, in one blow, religious leaders lose their authority. The rug is pulled out from under them. No longer are they the Guardians of Ultimate Truth. Instead, they become Guardians of Children’s Stories and Fairy Tales. It couldn’t happen to a more deserving bunch. But alas, so thoroughly have religious leaders identified religion with God that people cannot separate the two, a point of constant frustration, though not necessarily surprise, to Jehovah‘s Witnesses.

So long as evolution maintains its grip in explaining our origins, religious leaders remain relatively toothless….a mere shadow of what they once were. The teaching will remain dominant for that reason. Any supporting facts will be sung to high heaven. Any non-supporting ones will be shunted aside, if not shouted down. Nobody wants to bring on Dark Ages II.

 

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Tom Irregardless and Me               No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Comments

Romulus Crowe

I'm surprised you haven't been hit for this one yet. Any mention of evolution and religion together usually starts a fight.

For myself, I still don't see religion's issue with the subject. Is it all because of human evolution? Other than that, there's no conflict as far as I can see. There's nothing in the Bible that says any animals left Eden with Adam and Eve (except the snake), so presumably the immutable Eden species are still there and we have to deal with the overspill, which adapts.

The big issue is creation, and that's down to whether the universe popped into existence spontaneously or whether someone set it off. We'll probably never find the answer to that.

Unless, of course, it turns out that you've been right all along, in which case there'll be a lot of us saying 'Oops!'.

tom sheepandgoats

I’ll post on the conflict soon & my thoughts on why it is an issue. You've made this point before. I don’t know if I’ve ever addressed it.

In the meantime, you’re holding out an olive branch to me, looking for common ground. And I really do appreciate it. It shows broadmindedness, non-dogmatism on your part. Are you saying that only the Eden couple has to be a direct creation of God? And that all other life could have sprung from evolution? That’s a novel approach, if I read you right, and I guess that……yes, Bible teachings hinge on Adam being a direct creation of God, not necessarily animal life.

Trouble is, it seems odd for reason of consistency. My mind’s eye pictures a frustrated God saying how he wants to bring about a really crowning form of life, but doggonit, using evolution he can’t come up with any better than groundhogs and turnips, so he’ll have to do humans directly. I can’t quite get my head around it.

Romulus Crowe

Well, If God created any of it, then he created all of it. No half measures, I'm not suggesting a sort of 'well, I'll let you have this bit but he didn't make that bit' sort of thing because that'll just make the whole matter worse!

The way I'm thinking is that if a Creator built the earth, he'd know it might change over time. Humans have the intelligence to put on clothes if it gets colder or build air conditioning if it gets hotter.

Animals would have to be designed to adapt by another means. If that means they have to change so much that they start to look different from the originals then so be it.

What I'm wondering is whether any of the animals we see around us are in any way related to the ones in Eden, which weren't booted out - or are they a different set? Was life restricted only to Eden, a small bit of the planet, or was that just a safe haven for Adam and Eve? The rest of the planet could be open to experimentation, things like covering the whole place with giant reptiles for a while. Of course, he'd have to wipe those out before letting Adam loose or he'd just get stepped on.

I probably sound flippant but I'm actually serious about this. I really don't see why science and religion have to have their fingers quite so tight around each others' throats!

Moristotle

So...you think that emotion plays a substantial role in people's assenting to evolution? It seems to me that that's precisely the role it plays in the thinking of folks who reject it. They just don't want it to be true. Emotion.

It is relatively without emotion that the assenters assent, even though they too might wish it not to be so.

tom sheepandgoats

Moristotle:

I think that emotion is involved in everything humans do and that those who claim they or their discipline are free from it are only fooling themselves.

The post is a fresh way of looking at things, a point of view that is never voiced, but should be. I would agree that scientific people in general are less emotional than religious people in general but not necessarily Jehovah's Witnesses. We fall all over the bell curve and, as a people, are not notably emotional.

Moristotle

But Tom, I didn't say that those who accept evolution are without emotion, only that they are "relatively without emotion," with which you admit you agree.

Your quoting one man's opinion about what creation is "to physicists" (anathema, says he) hardly proves anything about physicists. Dr. Lipson's comment is hearsay at best, an anecdote that may add some color to your essay, but provides no pertinent evidence about the emotion of physicists or other scientists.

You might well wish (because evolution poses a little problem for your worldview) that scientists believe in evolution mainly because they've injected into their thinking your "liberal dose of emotion." Does that help you believe that the evidence for evolution is really even less than they say it is?

I'll take your word for it that your way of looking at things is fresh and never voiced until you came along, for I in fact can't remember reading anything like this before.

Good on you, to overrunning cup.

tom sheepandgoats

Moristotle:

A substantial amount of evidence for evolution is akin to simple animal husbandry, which has been known forever, and which no one disputes.

Another substantial amount of evidence can just as easily support the creation model. Similarities in life forms, for example....limbs, organs, symmetry, etc. In school this was impressed upon me as a prime evidence of evolution. But lots of manufactured things also share similar attributes. If you find a design that works, you repeat it in other manufactured things, with various modifications.

These two examples significantly cut into "proof" of evolution. What remains is simply not overwhelming enough to convince without a liberal shot of emotion based on those factors in my post.

In the Christian world, I will agree that scientists are less emotional only than only the evalgelicals. All other denominations, us included, I think share about the same emotional makeup as do those who put their trust in science.

Moristotle

Tom, doesn't the argument that life forms were created suffer a fatal blow when some of the whopping mistakes in those forms are entered into the debate? I mean, wouldn't an entity wise and powerful enough to have created the life forms (i.e., "God") have been wise and powerful enough to have avoided the mistakes? Seems to me you've ignored that half of the argument, which, when admitted, raises the score in favor of the evolutionists over the creationists to such an extent that it's hardly any longer a contest.

We might title this little essay of mine "The Emotional Theory of Creation."

tom sheepandgoats

"raises the score?"

sounds like another skirmish for Jim and Don.

Moristotle

Ha, just putting it in terms I knew you'd readily understand. I certainly didn't mean to shift this (rather serious) debate over into the "just for fun" lane.

tom sheepandgoats

Oh, very well!

Give me a "whopping mistake" or two and we'll deal with them as best we can. But remember: you are looking for facts that prove your case, not merely for facts that are consistent with it, and might also be consistent with mine.

Evolution maintains that life arose from disorder and is improving all the time. The Bible maintains that human life began in perfection and is steadily deteriorating....we were originally created to live forever, you'll recall. Each generation is a little worse off than the one before. Be careful that any "mistakes" you have in mind can't be seen in that light, because you know what light I will see it in.

Moristotle

Too bad that my previous comment, which I assume you will post by and by, couldn't have appeared consecutively after the one where I relented and said okay to Jim and Don, for a bit of appropriate levity. (When I relented, your "very well" hadn't been posted yet.)

But now, since you announce up-front your religiously self-serving strategy of reframing to undercut and neutralize whatever rational instances I adduce, I don't see any point in bothering.

Anyway, if we had a common intellectual understanding to operate together on here, I would say, "Go fill in the holes in your learning for your own self; I'm busy enough filling in the holes in mine."

Filling yours in for you would have been onerous enough, but to provide rational examples for you to annihilate with your automatic Adam & Eve brand, faith-based repackaging machine would be intolerable and unendurable.

So, how's the weather up in your parts? We're expecting some thunderstorm activity down here.

Moristotle

Some of the times I've come back here to see whether my last comment has been published yet, I have re-read your "Evolution maintains" paragraph again, and I have become more and more impressed by how fabulous is this (Jehovah's Witnesses?) notion of "what the Bible maintains" about the curious descent of human life (in quite a different sense than that of Charles Darwin). "Each generation is a little worse off than the one before." I truly, honestly am amazed that a group of self-styled unemotional, sober, thinking people came up with and continue to hold such a view!...if I may be permitted to state this opinion on one of their member's own blog, where it surely won't (because it couldn't possibly) be regarded as the plain fact that I think it is.

tom sheepandgoats

Alright, here is that missing comment of yours,submitted June 27 at 9:49 AM:

(If I actually publish it rather than quote it, it will appear before your last two comments, which is obviously out of sequence and nobody will be able to follow what's going on....I almost can't myself)

You said:

"However, if Jim and Don wish to do a play-by-play, I'm sure we'd all enjoy reading it. However serious our debate may be, life goes on and we need to amuse ourselves and temper seriousness with levity from time to time. I value your humanity at least as much as trying to secure the truth about the way things are. We creatures sit like Plato's prisoners with our backs to the light and our faces toward the shadows cast on the wall of our cave. Our one cave, which we're in together for all our difference of apprehension."

Right?

I did not publish it, not for whatever underhanded or self-serving reason you seem to be accusing me of, but because the thread seems to be better without it, since I changed my mind as to how I would respond to your "whopping mistakes" challenge. At first I thought I would end the discussion with my Jim & Don remark, but I subsequently decided to give the answer I did, whcih seemed to make your comment irrelevant. I never dreamed you would object to my not including it....much less object with heat, but since you did.....there, I have explained the circumstances.

(It was a perfectly fine comment....friendly and all, (a lot more friendly than your subsequent ones) and I thank you for it. But it seemed just extra baggage in view of my change of mind.)

I confess that your vehemence over this confuses me, as well as the heat with which you attack Adam and Eve. What did they ever do to you?

BTW, in case anyone is reading this far into the thread....which would surprise me some, but it's amazing how much time I can while away on the internet (to Mrs Sheepandgoats' dismay) ....maybe there are others like me.....the "Jim and Don" reference is to this post:

http://carriertom.typepad.com/sheep_and_goats/2008/03/round-49-and-th.html

tom sheepandgoats

"I truly, honestly am amazed that a group of self-styled unemotional, sober, thinking people came up with and continue to hold such a view!..."

........................

On the other hand, I didn't just make this up on the fly as a means of countering your arguments. JWs have always held those views. Like any decent debater, you should know my side, even if you don't agree, just as I know yours.

I can't argue your side as persuasively as you, but I can argue it. You, however, have not a clue as to my side, other than you don't like it.

Your remark somewhat smacks of a overly smug prosecutor absolutely confident of a slam-dunk conviction, who discovers, much to his exasperation, that the accused actually has some replies. So he responds with insults.

It's your own fault. If you're going to debate, you should know the arguments of your opponent, or at least not respond with such disrespect when you discover them.

But you have consistently declined to inform yourself on any of the points I might raise.

You must realize such emotionalism displayed in your last two comments significantly undercuts your authority.

Moristotle

Tom, you give as good as you get. And seem to do it so cooly. You are indeed amazing.

I wasn't accusing you of intentionally not publishing that out-of-sequence comment; I just figured you hadn't gotten around to it yet, and I knew that it was possible that another comment or two might have been submitted in the meantime. And you pretty obviously don't have the ability to fudge the timestamps to arrange comments the way they make the most sense. (I don't either on my own blog, other than by copying, deleting, and reposting comments as quotations, sort of how you've done with my comment in question.)

Although you seem to think it is only I who got hot (but I didn't feel hot, and, despite appearances, you imply you didn't either), we might both pretend to cool off by hearing from Jim and Don...?

Jim and Don may need, however, to be describing an event in which we're not playing by the same rules, such as you boxing and me moving letter tiles on a Scrabble board....

tom sheepandgoats

I'll try to coax Jim and Don out of retirement, but I'm not sure if I'll be successful. They both went on to have too many battles of the sort demonstrated in my past post, and they've knocked each other senseless Today they can barely tie their shoes..

We'll both live to fight other skirmishes. I'll bet you wouldn't have gotten that riddle had it been presented to you cold.
http://moristotle.blogspot.com/2008/06/rounding-third.html#links
And I partly was thinking of you......don't you work on campus in a college town?....when I wrote my latest post about Ithaca. Do similar goings on happen in your town?

Moristotle

Good morning, Tom. I was going to pretend to cool off today and not visit your blog, but here I am! Just can't stay away. I hope you are having a good one there. We're having a good one here, except that I heard my wife a little while ago calling (sleepily) from the other bedroom. "Was that regular coffee you made this morning?" "Uh, I think so..." When I went to check I found out that indeed I had used decaf beans. It takes more than to THINK it's regular coffee for the caffeine to work on my wife! But I was wide awake. That HAS to say something about our respective psychologies, don't you think? Or maybe just our physical constitutions?

Anyway, I made some more coffee, with our new French press, making sure I used the MORNING grind. I'm drinking it now. It's good.

I'd like to share a cup with you someday, Tom.

Moristotle

Well, I'm not absolutely sure that I "got" the riddle. In fact, I don't think I got it at all. What I meant by the initial sentence's seeming to make sense as-is was that it was a grammatical sentence, whatever questions of significance it might raise. And what I meant by "non sequitur" was that I concluded finally that your comments didn't have anything at all to do with my post! My first comment back assumed that your initial comment DID contain a relevant significance, but your second comment (your explanation that it was just a riddle game) seemed to indicate that it really didn't.

If it was meant to apply, and you don't mind spelling it out for me....

I thought you might have been thinking of me when you made the remark in your post about descending the snowy hills' not being a job for atheists (hence my question about what you thought would happen to ME if I took on the job), but it hadn't occurred to me that you might have thought of me because I work in a college town. Chapel Hill is indeed a college town, one that locals like to think is among a handful of the very best such. Though I have worked near campus for ten years, my twenty-five years' having a Chapel Hill address is a bit misleading, as we were not in the town limits and we never, for exampled, "walked into town."

Yes, Chapel Hill often has demonstrations of one sort or another, especially during the past few years. I avoid them studiously, feeling perhaps as you do that my participation won't make an iota of difference and also simply very much disliking such assemblies. I'm of an age where it's easy to say no and where others don't hassle me about it.

tom sheepandgoats

Oh my.

Are you sure it's a good idea for us to meet for coffee sometime? We sure do misunderstand each other a lot.

Confusion regarding the riddle comments on your blog is completely my fault. Sorry. I couldn't think right then of just what to say, but I wanted to say something, so your discussion of "home" brought that riddle to mind. It seems too far afield from your post for you to know what in the world I was talking about, and when I explain it, will you not say "so.....why did you put that stupid comment on my blog?" But you know how bloggers are with comments.

Think baseball (which you also briefly mentioned in your post....and thus triggered my riddle) The man is the batter. The path is the first base line. The masked men are the catcher and the umpire. It can take people quite a while to solve the riddle, as they ask endless questions to clarify people, roles, circumstances.....the answer to each can only be yes or no. I haven't sprung the riddle on anyone in many years....why did I put it on your blog? The psychological "free association" perhaps?

And .....more misunderstanding......when you first used the term "French press" as a verb, and I'd not heard the phrase before, I imagined it was a dig at the effete French...for what reason I knew not....substituting your expression for "bench press."

Now you see how my mind works, if it really can be said to work at all. Are you sure any coffeehouse (especially one with a French press) would let us both in together?

Atheists descending the hills is not really a reference to you, though I guess our frequent discussions have served to plant atheists in many an otherwise irrelevant context. It's really just a play on that old saw about "no atheists in the foxhole." (BTW, is there any truth in that expression?) There was a humorous plaque in an Ithaca bookstore, written many years ago, describing in a nutshell life in the hilly town: descending such and such hill when you notice the brakes on your VW bus are fading.....mental note to take it to the shop.....a mile later the brakes are absolutely gone and you're careening here and there...desperately hoping to avoid mothers with baby carriages and so forth. It's all part of the Ithaca culture.

The peace sign actually had nothing to do with either college. That's the unique thing about Ithaca. The colleges and the natural beauty of the area have sprouted an intensely liberal atmosphere which has taken on a life of its own. The peace sign was the brainchild of a high school sophomore.....a cool project for a kid, really. But it says something about the town that the population enthusiastically climbs on board to enact the sign.

BTW, in the courtyard where the cajun band was playing was a retired fellow....I took him for a widowed professor (a very conspicuous wedding ring), who danced each song, each time with a different, much younger partner. He'd ask one after another to dance....never until right before the song....and they'd never say no. He seems to glide through every number with eyes half-closed...an expert dancer. Most of his partners were also very good, but a few of them were horses on the dance floor. It did not affect his composure in the slightest. He guided them along, and the only way you knew the women couldn't dance was that the footsteps didn't coincide, but the old fellow wasn't nonplussed in the least.

My wife remarked that many widowers continue to wear their wedding ring, but I joked to her "Oh, no....that's his wife right over there on the sidelines with steam coming from her ears."

NateDredge

You might like this documentary: http://www.expelledthemovie.com/
I liked it, though critically it has been savaged.

tom sheepandgoats

I likely will see it one of these days. You have written a review of it, I see.

Usually "critically savaged" means something to me....I hate to blow my time on films that turn out to be dogs. But in this case, one must take into account the theme of the film and the mindset of those doing the savaging.

It's probably a well done film.

Moristotle

Tom, I just realized that I missed (as in didn't even see) the first five paragraphs of your June 30, 8:21 a.m. comment (starting with "Oh my").

The baseball riddle is pretty clever. I like it. I'm sorry I wasn't bright enough to figure it out (or hadn't heard it before and remembered it--although now I seem to have a faint glimmer in my noggin that maybe I HAD heard it...but forgotten).

Ha, who knows whether or not it's "a good idea" for us to have coffee together? I've felt inclined to do a number of things in my life that maybe weren't good ideas. I wonder, though, whether your questioning it reveals that you yourself are not at all sure you'd like to take me up on an offer of coffee? I'm hard enough to take via the Internet, in person I might just be intolerable? I'm amused by the thought that you might be that apprehensive.

I don't think I could be nearly so gruff with you in person as I sometimes manage to be through blogging.

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