Comment 477

By Rusty (registered) - website | Posted May 09, 2006 at 12:41:04

I'm not surprised this article has generated some fiesty comments. The arguments - in so far as I am able to follow them - are all over the place. Alas, the only thing I got from it was on overwhelming sense of confusion...

The author states that "deliberate confusion and disinformation have, as ever, taken the driver's seat in a non-debate now dominated by slogan trading". However he then proceeds to cite numerous unsubstantiated (or at best poorly substantiated) claims himself ("Darwinism is essentially a myth" and so on...)

I simply don't 'get' the arguments that are (almost) made here. Something about Darwin's Theory of Evolution being full of holes and Peak Oil theory being similarly full of holes...?

What on earth is the confusion?

Darwin's Theory cites evidence that humans evolved, and continue to evolve, and scientific research continues to support that theory. The idea of absolute proof has never really been disputed. There are very few absolute truths in the world. As intelligent human beings we work with the information we have, and make our best judgements accordingly. The world used to be flat and now it's round. Until some other genius comes along and proves it's oblong, I can only go with what I know (obviously some theories are easier to prove than others...).

As for Intelligent Design - this appears to be based predominantly on, well - books. Most religious folks I know tell me to read something by CS Lewis (I forget the book) and another book called 'The Case for Christ'. Apparently these books cite, for the most part, passages in the bible - and other ancient texts - and argue that they couldn't possibly have been dreamt up and therefore the information in them must be true. I haven't read these books so I don't want to bash religion here. However I question my religious friends frequently on their beliefs. My latest discussion - during which a friend contended that humans do indeed evolve but that Adam and Eve were also real - ended with him saying, 'I don't need absolute evidence - that's why it's called a belief' What the hell does that mean?! Religious folks seem quite content to clasp onto vague concepts about giant arks and talking snakes and refuse the question them too deeply simply because they have chosen to - 'believe'?! That makes no sense to me.

I fail to see the confusion in all this. Evolution, Peak Oil - pick your poison - they are all ideas/theories/scientific notions that outline known facts and theorize on the meaning and broader implications of those known facts. As intelligent human beings we can simply review the evidence, and the accompanying theory, and make our own judgement. As new evidence comes along we can revisit the theory and amend our opinion accordingly. It's just like police work.

Sherlock Homes approach was to review the known facts and build a theory - or several theories - around those facts. When new evidence came to light he revisited his theory until it was proven. It works for me!

It seems to me (and I think RTH writer Ted Mitchell has covered this well in the past) that the challenge we have as humans is to seperate our values and emotions from our assessment of theories. For example, when I talk about evolution with relgious folks it's clear that they are discounting any new evidence - and the theory itself - because it doesn't fit their value system, which is of course, based on their faith. For myself, as a white, British, middle class guy, I have a value system and a pre-programmed emotional response to a given set of theories/ideas or 'facts'. As sure as Tom Robinson in 'To Kill A Mocking bird' was always going to be guilty, sadly so it is that certain sections of society will always see things a certain way. Only when we seperate our emotions our values and our inbred belief systems from our innate common sense and intelligence can we view all these facts and theories with clarity.

Yours,

In Confusion(!)

Ben

(And yes Ryan - I still don't know what Paradigm means...:) )

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