THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 440, October 21, 2007
"A crowbar works wonders."
Special to The Libertarian Enterprise
This morning I got a message from a religious friend of mine, a column by Hal Lindsey about the manifold shortcomings, in his view, of science.
Lindsey, you'll recall, is a creature of faith (which Mark Twain defined as "believing what you know damned well isn't so") who tried to get the whole world milling around like ants over a Y2K disaster that never happened. I've never seen any acknowledgement of error on his part, or an apology of any kind, but then I don't read him very much.
If at all.
This particular piece of Lindsey's attempted to forge a link between the phenomenon of evolution by natural selection and the phony science behind the non-phenomenon of global warming. In this version of my reply to my friend, I have changed his name to protect his dignity.
Dear Sam (I began),
Hal Lindsey is a dishonest dealer. I didn't read all of the piece that you sent me yet (although I promise I will), because I have a lot of work to finish this morning. I stopped at the man's first sentence, because it's a lie and Lindsey has been around long enough to know it.
He knows that, in science, the word "theory" doesn't mean anything unproven, the way it does in ordinary language. It means a body of information that has been demonstrated to be valid. Science uses the word "hypothesis" for unproven ideas. I repeat, Hal Lindsey is an Old Guy like me, and has been around long enough to know this perfectly well.
Evolution is not an hypothesis, but an established scientific factor group of factswhether anybody wants to believe it or not. Every day, in every way, over the past 200 years, new evidence has been found to support it. The universe isn't democratic. It doesn't care what you want to believe. It doesn't matter if 50% of all the Brits (or anybody else) cited in that poll, or 75%, or 95% childishly reject facts that offend their tender sensibilities, facts remain facts.
Facts of objective reality.
I could give you a hundred examples off the top of my head, but consider just one thing that proves the case. It seems silly to ask, but do you believe in DNA? Do you think it's real? Its existence and its central importance to all life, on this planet, anyway, are all but beyond questioning. So is the fact that, each time it replicates, thanks to many different factors (radiation, chemical mutagens like coffee and tobacco, etc.), it can become altered in many different ways.
Most of those ways will produce new organisms that will never be born or will die very soon without reproducing themselves. A great many changes won't make any difference at all. But a tiny percentage of those changes will result in an organism that is more successful than its predecessors and have a greater chance of reproducing. Over the course of three billion years, that process has taken "us" from amoebas, through dinosaurs and early mammals, to the naked apes we are.
It is quite infantile to insist on believing otherwise. Frankly, evolution is a journey of which I'm far prouder, and find vastly more magnificent, than the shabby. superficial "let there bes" of the Old Testament.
But then that's me.
If you accept the reality of DNA, however, then you can't reject the phenomenon of evolution by natural selection. If your religion is that important to you, you can comfort yourself that you have used the brain that God gave you to figure out at least one of the ways He does things. And there are those who believe that this is our first duty to God.
Evolution is real, my friend, and as serious as bricks.
Hal Lindsey is a flim-flam man.