Thursday, September 25, 2014

Who needs books when we already have a dictionary?

In a recent online discussion, which began with a post about Darwin Day, and soon turned into an argument about evolution, one opponent wrote the following:

"The theory of evolution, if it were removed from the consideration of science wholly, would not register a blip if it weren't for its role as a guiding materialist philosophy for atheists and agnostics in academia."
He wrote rather more, but this was the bit I thought worthy of response. Which I did...
By this line of reasoning, because we understand electricity and magnetism then we have no need of Maxwell's Equations showing us that electricity and magnetism are same thing. We could easily do away with a lot of that complicated stuff in physics textbooks, because there is no need for it. By this line of reasoning, because we have dictionaries to tell us the meaning of words, then we may as well discard all of our books, because the ordering of those words can't tell us anything we don't already know. Stupid books! [/sarc]
Evolution is a theory that ties together everything we know from biological and medical science. Like the electromagnetic force describes what we once thought of as different forces, evolution explains why we see so much similarity among life, and guides our studies of of how life works. In the same way that books are more than just collections of random words, evolution is a meaningful collection of knowledge and the connections within it. Nothing in biology, or in medicine, make sense except in light of evolution.
As for the bit about guiding philosophy, Methodological Naturalism is not atheism. 
There were no further replies on the thread, so the person I was responding to either never saw it, or was so awed by my witty reply that they gave up in despair. I'm gonna go with the latter, and make a blog post out of it.

Here is a link to the original discussion on G+. Not that anyone needs to see it, this is for my own future reference.