Friday, February 17, 2012

What's Wrong with the Theory of Evolution?

There are two parts of the theory of evolution, which I'll call the Weak Theory and the Strong Theory. There's probably a pretty good case for the Weak Theory. It's the Strong Theory I have a problem with, and today I'm going to tell you why.

The Weak Theory tells us that we're all descended from lower animals. It's not too hard for us to believe we share an ancestor with monkeys. I don't know how good the fossil record really is on this. They used to talk about the quest for the "missing link"...the fossil specimen that would bridge the gap between them and us. I don't know how well that continuum has been filled in over the last hundred or so years, but let's give the theory the benefit of the doubt.

If you buy into the idea that we are related from the monkeys, then you have to allow that it can go back even farther. Were monkeys once tiny like groundhogs, or chipmunks? I suppose maybe they were. And aren't the chipmunks just overgrown rodents? Let's agree that there is a chain of descent.

If we accept that our ancestors were mice, then all the mammals have an equally good claim on that line. Which makes us cousins to lions and tigers, cows and horses, whatever. That's the gist of the Weak Theory. It actually explains a lot of things: we all have similar skeletal structures, we all have two eyes and two ears, fingers and toes, teeth, hearts that pump blood, etc.

But of course it doesn't stop there. The mice from which we are descended were in turn descended from lower forms. Once upon a time all animals were reptiles; the mouse and the frog and the snake are therefore distant cousins; the birds are another branch of the same family; and so on. The frog was once a fish; the fish was once a jellyfish; and the jellyfish was once a festering slime. And so we are told that there is a continuous line of descent, whereby we can trace our own ancestry to that same primordial slime.

This is the Theory of Evolution, and who but an ignorant hillbilly could possibly doubt it? Haven't we all been shown the evidence in the form of the fossil record, which clearly shows the continuous transformation of all these various forms of life from one to another? What, you haven't seen the fossils yourself? No matter; the scientists assure us that the case is well established, and that's good enough for me. Because all that I have described so far is the Weak Theory, and I don't have an issue with that. It's the Strong Theory that bothers me.

What do I mean by the Strong Theory? I'd like you to think about that, because it's a distinction that people seem to gloss over. I've never seen it explicitly discussed in quite the way I'm going to tackle it, and I even wonder if it's obvious where I'm going with this. So I think I'll let you mull it over for a day or so, and then continue where I left off.

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