3. Evolution and creation. Trust and faith

It often happens to hear people of faith, talking about science in an attempt to convert it into a confession, the reason being obvious: if science becomes faith, a rationalist is then not one, since he “believes.” This is what happens, for example, whenever Evolutionism is mentioned. Creationists, there are not many weapons left and, not being able to ban Darwin’s books and not being able to burn at the stake the various Dawkins, Attenborough, etc., they cling tooth and nail to this transmutation of Evolutionism into confession.

The fake spread by creationists or, as they like to call themselves today in a vain attempt to renew themselves, anti-Darwinists are, “Darwin’s evolution is just a theory and since, it is not provable, some people are forced to believe it.” This “rhetorical game” is based on scientific illiteracy and denial of reality. Darwin’s theories have been extensively validated and corrected on a genetic and biogeographical basis. To claim otherwise means only two things: either you are very misinformed or you are shamelessly lying.

THE DEFORMATION OF THE SIGNIFICANCE OF SCIENTIFIC THEORY is one of the historical workhorses of the creationist movement, which, being a lifelong stranger to scientific debate, must base its activities on rhetorical ploys.

Many mistaking the scientific concept of “theory” for what is usually meant in ordinary language, believe that any imaginative representation that a mind is capable of conceiving can be theorized in the sciences. Nothing could be more untrue, because in the sciences the concept of “theory” is very different from what is meant in common parlance: a scientific theory means an explanation of natural phenomena supported by empirical and experimental evidence that governs a set of laws concerning facts, deductions and logical inferences, it is also a theory of gravitation for example, but it is a fact that people use the door to leave the house and not the windows, so expresses the National Academy of Sciences: scientific theory is “a well-reasoned explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate tested facts, laws, inferences, and hypotheses.” So a “Scientific Theory” will never become law because they express concepts of a different nature. When it comes to Relativity Theory or Quantum Theory, scientists are not expressing any reservations about them. On the contrary, relativity theory as well as quantum theory are much more precise than the laws of classical mechanics.

But this is where the rhetorical game creeps in: how many of us can say we have a clear understanding of the mechanics of genetics, phylogeny, cladistics? Even reading many books of scientific non-fiction, many concepts, seem to be expressed in “Aramaic,” therefore, dialoguing about Evolutionism with a creationist one is at some point forced to admit that yes, one does take some things at face value without having fully understood them. Which would make a person, a “person of faith.” IN REALITY ONE IS NOT A “PERSON OF FAITH,” BUT ONE IS A “PERSON OF TRUST,” one does not have faith in science, but one has faith in science, the difference however subtle, is abysmal. It is true that one accepts certain scientific paradigms, certain matrices of thought, but one does so because one relies on cross-checking and of the constant re-discussion of data that from the outside seems dogmatic.

The Science is based on observation and reasoning. The scientific method, or experimental method, is the typical way in which science proceeds to achieve objective, reliable, verifiable and sharable knowledge of reality, it works, it is kept alive and active, so WE HAVE NO FAITH BUT TRUST in a mechanism that has been proven countless times to work, without the need for revelations, popes or prayers. Every time we turn on a PC or make a phone call, every time we benefit from a drug or intellectually enjoy the discovery of a new fossil, we benefit from an open system, capable of self-correction and evolution. A system that challenges itself every time it is used. Because, just to say, satellites are not up in the air because of faith. They are there because hundreds of years of mathematical calculations are proving to be experimentally correct. Because, just to say again, if a paleontologist digs in a given spot and finds what he expected to find, it doesn’t happen because of his heartfelt prayers or the magical power of astrology, but by virtue of hundreds of years of studying geology. In conclusion, trust is “earthly” and is related to things that are at our level of existence; it is based on facts, events and observations.

This, as well as other confusions, are taken advantage of by so-called pseudosciences (reveries about modifications of the human genetic code by aliens, hybridizations of humans and reptiles, raelism, terraplatism, etc.). Pseudosciences by leveraging these confusions and a poor scientific and epistemological culture have a good game in trying to present their reveries as alternative theories to scientific ones. Nothing could be more false and wrong; these are not theories, as they would have us believe, because they are devoid of any evidence of those rational and experimental characters that are proper to scientific research. They are actually fanciful conjectures much like religious and theological dogmas, from where they derive, probably, the reason for their success, among a large but scientifically uninformed public.

To say that “evolution is just a theory” is, in fact, as dishonest as it is unfortunately, effective in the right context. The trick is to intentionally confuse the meaning of theory in ordinary language, with the meaning of theory in science. Evolution is a theory in the sense that it is not only the best explanation for scientists’ observations, but also allows for predictions that can be, and are, continuously tested. Evolution is also a fact, that is, the change of living things over time, beyond the specific ways in which it occurs, is proven beyond doubt.

In short: we trust science, even with its errors, because it works, and we trust it to the point of accepting certain theories even without fully grasping them. Precisely because if they are wrong sooner or later, as has always been the case, someone will dismiss or correct them, and anyone with a positivist mindset will welcome the corrections or dismissal with a certain complacency, since science has truth as its object and not self-assertion through an unchanging, revealed mythical system. To have faith means to believe without evidence and it is easier than to have faith, for faith is an absolute act, it implies a dogmatic part to which the believer surrenders with conviction and immediacy, and above all, faith does not disappoint or betray expectations.