Archive for January, 2010

I don’t have to believe in evolution

January 18th, 2010

It seems someone on Facebook has set up a group called “We can find 1,000,000 people who DO believe [sic] in Evolution before June”.

The group was set up in response to a group called “we [sic] can find 1,000,000 people who don’t believe [sic] in Evolution befor [sic] June”.  What happens in June if they do not get a million members? Will they give up being creationists?

I considered joining the former group, because that genetic material changes  (evolves) from one generation to the next is a scientific fact. However, I wanted to give some thought to it (as a rational person should do) before adding my name to those of a group of strangers before I really know what they are about.

Roughly 30% of Facebook users live within the USA (ref. 1). According to Gallup polls, in 2008, 44% of those polled in the USA believed that God created humans in their present form (about the same percentage as in 1982).

I know you cannot get an accurate result from simply performing arithmetic with statistics, but for my purposes, I do not need a very accurate result.

The population of the USA is about 300 million, which means roughly (very roughly) 132 million Americans are creationists.

Facebook claims to have over 350 million active users, but that is probably just propaganda, so let’s be conservative and say 200 million active users. That means there are roughly 60 million active Facebook users in the USA.

I would be very surprised if the 132 million American creationists and the 60 million American Facebookers did not overlap to the tune of several million. According to my crude calculations, it should be somewhere in the region of 26 million. Let’s be conservative again and say it is only a quarter of that, roughly 6 million.

I think, therefore, the creationists on Facebook are being highly unambitious with the title of their group.

But why are they bothering in the first place? Probably for the same reason that human beings have always tried to gather like-minded people about them: safety in numbers when they feel threatened or weak.

That’s the one thing both groups have in common. Someone posted on the creationist group’s page that the creation (excuse the pun) of the evolutionary group’s page was because:

“they feel threatened by our group so lets show them we CAN CRUSH THEM!”

Such fervour!

The creationists are right, of course. Well, they are right about someone on Facebook feeling threatened. But, of course, fear and insecurity are why the creationist group was set up in the first place. The fear that ‘there just aren’t enough people out there who think the way I do’.

The evolutionary group was set up in haste, as a knee-jerk reaction to the creationist group. How do I know? Because of the title. Nobody “believes” in evolution. Evolution is not a god, or a fairy, or a troll who lives in the woods.

That changes in genetic material (evolution) take place is a fact proven by scientific studies.

Natural selection, on the other hand, as an explanation of that fact, is a theory. However, it happens to be a very plausible theory with compelling evidence.

Still, you cannot “believe” in a scientific theory. You cannot even believe in a scientific fact. Gravity is neither more nor less because of anyone’s beliefs.

The founder of the evolutionary group acknowledged this mistake with the following statement:

“Apologies for the name of the group, it has been pointed out numerous times that ‘believe’ is really the wrong word word when talking about a scientific theory…
I didn’t really think about it at the time of creating, I just copied and pasted the opposing group’s name, and there’s no way of changing it now. If you feel that strongly then you are free to create another group with a more appropriate title, but please don’t complain about it on this group wall as there is nothing more I can do about it, other than apologise.”

However, that does not change the fact that the group was set up as a knee-jerk reaction.

So what is the point of a Facebook group that shows support for  evolution?

One could argue that creationism should be battled on every front because it promotes ignorance and blind faith in the face of knowledge and evidence. Certainly, that is a noble cause. In that case, however, the group should have had a simpler name and the purpose of the group should have been to provide links to reliable resources where people can inform themselves about evolution.

I do not think there would be much benefit in debate within such a group because nodding heads do not seek out truth. Even if there were contention, it would hardly be constructive. It would consist merely of discord, poor grammar and even worse spelling.

In any case, I think there is about as much value in debating creationism as there is in debating whether Athena was born out of Zeus’s head.

So I decided it would be more constructive to write this blog post than to join “We can find 1,000,000 people who DO believe in Evolution before June”.

I will not be joining this evolutionary group because I do not subscribe to knee-jerk reactions and because I believe that gathering together in numbers for its own sake is futile (unless you are being stalked by lions).

A challenge

January 15th, 2010

There’s a thing doing the rounds on Facebook at the moment where people use a photo of themselves when they were much younger.

When you have only known someone from a certain point in their life, it is amazing and charming to see them when they were younger. It is so easy to slip into treating a forty, fifty, sixty year old as if they were always that age. But they were not. They were once idealistic, had a first kiss, had a first love and listened to music their parents hated. They once threw sticks at chestnut trees, jumped into puddles and played with frog spawn.

Someone once said that it’s important to keep in touch with friends from our teens and twenties so that we will always have someone who still remembers us at that age. Imagine what it must be like for an old person who has no friends from their youth. Imagine what it must be like to be surrounded by people who only see you as old.

So the challenge is this: whenever you meet a person you consider “old”, try to imagine them young, jumping into puddles and having their first kiss. Deep down, that is who they really are.

Our bodies will grow old but we do not have to.

Dear God…

January 12th, 2010

You must really love irony!

I somehow get the feeling that the underlying energy in the universe is irony. Did You know that in 2008 (in a clear reference to the Book of Leviticus 18:22) the Northern Ireland Minister for Bringing Down the Peace Process Because She Was Horny claimed that homosexuality was an abomination? Of course You did. You’re omniscient.

But isn’t Leviticus the same book that forbids adultery? Oh, wait! It’s only wrong for a man to lie carnally with his neighbour’s wife. There doesn’t seem to be anything stopping the wife from lying with whomever she fancies. In any case, I’m not sure they actually were neighbours.

What would constitute a neighbour in this case? Same street? Same post code?

Hang on! I’ve just spotted that You addressed Leviticus only to the children of Israel!

So Iris is in the clear!

And so are all non-Jewish gay men (by the way, You forgot to mention comfortable shoes in Leviticus).

What are friends for?

January 11th, 2010

When a friend appears to be doing something inappropriate, it behoves one to give the friend the benefit of the doubt and just assume there is a reasonable explanation.

Assume it so much, that one does not even ask for the explanation.

Closed minded?

January 10th, 2010

A friend recently sent me a link to an article on “out of body experience” (OBE), in which the author describes as close minded those who do not accept OBE as the only possible explanation for certain phenomena.

Before reading my thoughts below, have a look at the article here: The Pam Reynolds Near-death Experience

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Musing #46

January 9th, 2010

Thinking something different to me should be encouraged, not criminalised.

Musing #45

January 4th, 2010

In the Kingdom of the Faithful, the blindest man is king and the one-eyed man is a heretic.