in Science

Implicit Acceptance of Evolution as Fact

Hulu recently made Carl Sagan‘s famous PBS documentary series Cosmos available for free viewing online.  If you’ve never seen it, I highly recommend watching it.  It is the best documentary series I’ve ever seen, and for me, it was a complete life changer.  There is a moment in the last episode of the series that completely shattered some cognitive dissonance that had been building up for months: the amount of evidence for evolution, versus my dogmatic rejection of it.  The moment is just a simple statement:  “[we] accepted the products of science, but not it’s methods.”  The intensity I felt in that moment has been rarely replicated.  It perfectly described my actions in a way that was undeniable, but also provided the solution: drop my dogmatic beliefs in favor of evidence based knowledge.

Since that time, I sometimes forget what it’s like for people who reject evolution.  Sometimes, as hard as it is to believe, I forget that anyone actually rejects evolution.  It’s so obvious to me now, that I forge that there are other perspectives out there.  There are probably many causes for this, but there is one that I want to focus on for this post:  Nearly everyone benefitting from modern technology has implicitly accepted evolution.

The theory of evolution was a breakthrough of truly monumental proportions, and today, it’s applications have extended well beyond just academic biology.  For example, it’s used in forensic science to help solve crimes.  How many people accept DNA evidence, but don’t realize that without the theory of evolution, we wouldn’t be able to analyze DNA?  How many people use materials everyday that were designed using principals derived from the theory of evolution?

How many people wouldn’t be alive today if it wasn’t for the theory of evolution?  Modern medicine depends on an understanding of evolution.  If the theory of evolution didn’t accurately reflect reality, modern medicine would not be successful at all.  Instead, we see life expectancy growing at an exponential rate.

Shouldn’t someone who truly believes evolution wrong and even evil, reject all these things? If they’re truly dedicated to their beliefs, they should.  Instead, we see their rational side appear when they need it.  If they’re sick, they ignore the man behind the curtain, and implicitly accept the benefits of evidence-based knowledge.  Next time I’m pulled back down to earth by someone who doesn’t believe in evolution, I just want to ask them this:  then why do you accept it’s products?

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