Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Darwin: A query from a commenter

A commenter has presented a thought experiment to show the inherent deficiency in our support for Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. I present the abridged version here:

Suppose, in distant future, all living species on earth's surface become extinct...

At this time a alien space shuttle lands on earth surface...

Soon the intelligent aliens who discovered Earth start to study our possessions, trying to piece together the history of their new discovery. They might notice that all of our cookware the pots and pans and plates and bowls and observe that all seemed to be related some how...

Over time, the bowls evolved into plates and coffee cups and stainless-steel frying pans. Eventually, the aliens would create compelling charts showing how the dishes evolved… Some scientists would be bothered by the lack of intermediate dishware species... but they would assume it to exist somewhere undiscovered…

While the above scenario almost sounds to reflect our own scientific thinking, it is not. ‘Almost’ is the key word here. In fact, we can create many thought experiments, for the fun of it, say, we are actually not living beings, that we are just characters in a software program [Matrix], that in reality earth is only 6000 years old while God is fooling us for amusement by planting dinosaur fossils, creating false geological patterns, manipulating radioactive dating, to make us believe that this planet is around 4 billion years old.

There is no end to such thought experiments. Each of them can be constructed in such a way that it is self explanatory. In fact, if you think about it Religion does the same.

Thought experiments can themselves be categorized into plausible and whimsical. Some are created to bring clarity, reason and question some of the assumptions, while some are created to obfuscate, confuse and mesmerize people.

It’s easy to suggest that Man never landed on the Moon, that all the rockets into space did not go to Moon, that the video relayed was in fact from NASA station in Texas, and that the samples can be easily obtained here on earth itself. All that slow motion moving is just camera trick, and so on.

There are lots of people who are ready to believe that Man never landed on the Moon. So how do you prove that Man landed on the Moon?

Aren’t scientists the same as religious priests who ask people to just believe them without giving any proof? Why should we believe a scientist who says he went to Moon and not the religious priest who confesses he met an angel the other night?

Why is scientist more credible that a religious priest? They both look honest and sincere. Isn’t belief in Science same as belief in religion? Isn’t belief in Darwin and his theory same as belief in St. Peters and his gospels?

Aren’t we in awe of Charles Darwin the same way we are in awe of St. Peters? Why should the story of Charles Darwin be more credible compared to story of St. Peters?

The commenter writes:

I just want to point out that a person's admiration of Darwin can make them believe in his theory blindly just like another person's perception of an invisible god.

To answer his questions, I have to go back to defining Science and show how it is different from Religion. Unless we see the difference between the two, there is a very good chance that many educated people will confuse the two.



  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Sujai : That argument the commenter quotes is from the free ebook "God's Debris" by Scott Adams


  3. Arvind:
    Thanks for the link.

    I read the argument. Looks like its more for amusement!! One can construct many such arguments!



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