Wednesday, October 13, 2010

More False Dichotomies

True or False: This is the day that evolved from slime; we will be bitter and
waste our time.

This quippish remark was made recently by a friend of mine. This might become an enduring repeat for me as an example of a false dichotomy in the creation-evolution controversy.

Let me start off by attempting to interpret what this pseudo-aphorism is trying to relay. The reference to slime is apparently an allusion to the unscientific concept of “primordial slime” or the so-called “pre-biotic soup” of amino acids in which life supposedly found its inception. Hence, “slime” is a synecdoche for evolution. As such, “slime” suggests “molecules to man” evolution from the most “simple” to the emergent complexity that we call humanity today.

The references to bitterness and time wasting is apparently then correlated with the theory of evolution. The author is hence positing that acceptance of the theory of evolution leads to bitterness and time wasting. The structure of this pseudo-aphorism is derived from Psalm 118: “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” This restating of Psalm 118 around the theory of evolution makes the suggestion that belief in creation versus acceptance of the theory of evolution results in lack of industry (time wasting) and bitterness. The implicit message of this quip is hence: If one accepts creation (“This is the day that the Lord has made”), then one is motivated not to be bitter or wasteful of time where one who accepts evolution “from slime” one is more likely to be bitter and wasteful of time.

Bitterness and lack of industry (wasting time) do not correlate with acceptance of methodological naturalism and the theory of evolution. Industry, as the opposite of time wasting, correlates with a number of variables including early childhood experiences, education, and a sense of ownership. There is an undeniable correlation between the degree of education one has and the likelihood that one will accept the theory of evolution. There is a similar correlation between education and industry. So, instead of there being a negative correlation between industriousness and accepting the theory of evolution, the correlation is in the reverse: acceptance of evolution correlates with higher levels of industriousness.

Now, as far as bitterness goes, we all know that there are bitter peoples in every political and religious group. For myself, I often feel bitter toward fundamentalist Christians not because of evolution but because of the socially-constructed false realities that they brainwashed me with. And, most of the bitter people I have known in my life have been political conservatives and fundamentalists.

Another dichotomy worth noting is that the theory of evolution is not opposed to the belief that God is the creator. One can accept evolution and believe that God providentially guided or set in place the process of evolution. If one wants to set aside science and methodological naturalism and allow for miracles, one can suppose, as the Old-Earth Creationists do, that God may have even intervened in the process with varying frequency.

The dichotomies of the initially-stated quip are hence shown to be false. If anything, the lack of education among many fundamentalists should be noted. Most of the people on welfare in America, I would venture to guess, reject evolution and accept conservative models of creationism.

So, as an alternative, I might state the following:

This is the moment that is shared, it’s in our hands to make it squared.
Feel free to offer your own alternatives.

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