Monday, January 7, 2013

Evolution is False - Pagan Origins of Evolution

Facepalming chipmunk
Someone decided to list 10 reasons why evolution is false. I thought it'd be fun to go through those (I like lists).

10. Pagan Origins of Evolution: Evolution emerged from pagan mythology, and was promoted among Greek philosophers like Anaximander and Democritus. Diodorus Siculus, a 1st c. BC historian, presented in his “Universal History” one of the beliefs of the ancient Egyptians, which was evolution. Diodorus recorded that the Egyptians believed that life originated in swamps and marshes being impregnated with life and the early beastial life of men living in caves, gathering food, discovering fire, and developing unintelligible sounds into languages.
Oh wow. This is like a Matryoshka doll of wrongness.

Let's address this bit by bit.
Pagan Origins of Evolution:
Let's say, hypothetically, that the author is correct that evolutionary theory had its origins with Paganism - So what? The reason we accept that evolution is true is because it's supported by modern science, and backed up with mountains of evidence. Its origins are irrelevant.

That applies even if it turns out Darwin completely made up his whole "On the Origin of Species" in a drunken rant-scribbling session.

It doesn't matter - modern science has established that it's true by independent verification and review. Irrespective of the origins, and whether it was born from myth or not, it turned out to be correct.

Evolution emerged from pagan mythology
Actually, no. The concept of evolution emerged from observation about how life appeared to be changing over time. During Darwin's time, the biological sciences wing of the scientific community was being busy little bees digging up and cataloging new life forms, trying to establish some standardized taxonomy of life.

With the discovery of fossils, it became readily apparent that the life forms that exist today didn't match those that existing long ago. Many people have many different ideas as to why that was the case.

Darwin's contribution was proposing a naturalistic mechanism - natural selection, to explain how life diversifies over time. He discovered that mechanism through observation and evidence-gathering.

Pagan mythology simply never entered the equation.

If you're interested in learning more about the history of evolutionary theory, consider picking up a copy of "Blueprints - Solving The Mystery Of Evolution" (Maitland A.; Johanson, Donald C. Edey)

 and was promoted among Greek philosophers like Anaximander and Democritus. Diodorus Siculus, a 1st c. BC historian, presented in his “Universal History” one of the beliefs of the ancient Egyptians, which was evolution.
The names/historical references aren't ringing a bell.

Looking at Wikipedia, Diodorus Siculus appears to have been some kind of scholar who kept writings on history. Maybe that's what this author is talking about - who knows?

It's still the same issue I pointed out above - a complete red herring.

Diodorus recorded that the Egyptians believed that life originated in swamps and marshes being impregnated with life and the early beastial life of men living in caves, gathering food, discovering fire, and developing unintelligible sounds into languages.
Oddly, this sounds less like a description of evolution, and more of a description of abiogenesis. I wonder if the author understands the difference between those two theories. There's nothing there about adaption over time, or diversification of species.

So wait... this is the argument? Author points out that something that he's mistaking for evolution seems to match stuff that other cultures have said if you squint your eyes enough?

Does he even want to go down this road? Much of Christianity has Pagan origins too, and the doctrine says humans were created from mud. But mud is distinctly different than swamps!

Oh wait, it's not mythology if it's your religion making absurd unevidenced claims - right?

Reason #10 - dead on arrival. The whole argument is completely irrelevant.

The whole idea of flight can be argued to have origins in mythology as well (eg: dragons, angels, flying chariots, etc). That doesn't mean that modern flight is false. Actually, do you know what else has it's basis in non-Christian origins? The concept of God. Therefore, because God has it's origins in mythology, God is false... right?

I'm not going to make that claim, because I'm too intellectually honest to ignore the fact that the structure of the argument has no epistemological value. It's possible for some people who originated a myth to have correctly guessed something true about reality. Thus, the mere fact that something appears to "originate in myth" has no bearing on its being true or false.

This seems to be an exercise in projection. Christianity has this vulnerability - that it originates long ago in myth, and if it can be established that the Bible and Christian doctrine is in error, that means Christianity is false. The author seems to think that the theory of evolution has a similar vulnerability - except, in reality, it doesn't work that way.

Are all the arguments going to shine with this awe-inspiring rigor of intellectual thought?

Next up - #9 Planetary Habitability of Earth.

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