Essay:Evolution teaches better morals than creationism

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Position: Evolution Teaches Better Morals Than Creationism[edit]

Creationism does not teach better morals, it teaches submission to dictatorship. Evolution can teach that freedom leads to abundance.

The real debate over evolution[edit]

There is no scientific debate on as to whether creationism or evolution is the truth. That debate was over a long, long time ago.

The pseudoscientific veneer used by creationists obscures the real debate over creationism and evolution. That debate is not over scientific truth. That debate is over which narrative provides a better message for our civilization. The debate is over which form of creation is a better myth.

When I say "myth" I don't mean "false belief", I mean narrative, or "meme":

Wikipedia: Bruce Lincoln defines myth as "ideology in narrative form"….They are used to convey religious or idealized experience, to establish behavioral models, and to teach."

In short, arguing that creationism is bad science is like saying that Aesop's fables are unscientific because animals don't talk. That's true, but also beside the point.

So, it is time to ask which creation narrative is a better "ideology in narrative form" for our civilization. Which provides the better behaviour models?

Evolution vs creationism: which is the better paradigm for civilization?[edit]

Which of these two myths sound more useful to our free-market, rights-based democracy? And which of these two creators would you rather people hold sacred?

Myth #1: There is a unelected totalitarian dictator - at best an unelected totalitarian oligarchy, that runs the universe as an arbitrary command economy. The dictatorship makes the trains run on time so to speak, every little detail of the natural world is micromanaged, and even when something horrible happens that's because the ends justify the means. The ends are secret, of course. When this dictator is displeased, he kills, maims and tortures children, pregnant women, and little kittens in the general vicinity of what displeases him (Except Noah.) And you, helpless peon, your job is to love him for it, to fear him, to flatter him, and to beg for mercy.

Myth #2: The universe is a system of simple laws which are always enforced. Within this system, creatures willing to work hard and make wise decisions have survived, prospered, and passed on their successful innovations to their children. With nothing more than hard work and wise decisions, nature - of which we should be proud to call ourselves a part of - has created abundance and glory.

Do I need to tell you which myth is creationism and which is based on evolution?

A mythology based on evolution could support the idea that freedom, the rule of law, and individual responsibility will create marvels. Kludged marvels, or course, but awesome nonetheless. It provides a basis for understanding information-age ideas like crowd-sourcing and intelligent systems. Evolution explains that altruism towards our relatives is natural and good - and that we are all related.

Belief in omnipotent, omnipresent Gods or gods, supports the idea that tyrants and oligarchies, using totalitarian, arbitrary command-economies, are capable of creation. Creationism tells us that these tyrants and oligarchies, and their systems, are not to be resisted, but instead appeased with flattery (worship) and begging (prayer).

Belief in evolution improves morality and civilization[edit]

Before Origin of Species was published in 1859, democracy and human rights were rare. Trade and markets were considered loot to be fought over in a zero-sum fashion, rather than as engines of innovation and creation to be unleashed.

Wikipedia: An analysis by Freedom House shows that there was not a single liberal democracy with universal suffrage in the world in 1900, but that in 2000, 120 of the world's 192 nations, or 62% were such democracies. 4 of the 5 most populous nations are today democracies: India, the USA, Indonesia, and Brazil. Darwin has not sent civilization to hell in a hand-basket. The rest of the developed world teaches evolution, and contrary to the predictions of people behaving like apes, the evolution-teaching nations of the developed world have less divorce, teen pregnancy, abortion, assault, murder, and crime in general. Evolution's message of the creativity of simple systems without totalitarian control works in tandem with the spread of morality, democracy and capitalism.

As for "social Darwinism", that was a collection of pre-existing prejudices disguising their obsolescence behind a shiny new pseudoscientific veneer - just like "Intelligent Design".

Evolution is inclusive and unifying[edit]

On what can we base the mythology of the new global civilization?

I agree with creationists that mythology is the mortar that holds civilizations together. And like it or not as the world aimlessly drifts towards monoculture by default, cultural fault lines collide.

So which paradigm will prevent this emerging global civilization from spawning a reactionary backlash, or becoming a monocultural distopia that deserves one?[1] The current solution, which we have inherited by default, is to fight a "clash of civilizations" between existing mythologies, with the winner crushing others beneath a monoculture. It's not working.

This new world calls for a paradigm that is inclusive and able to handle conflict. Evolution is inclusive because it is universal. It comes from the scientific method, a meritocratic system that does not choose victors based on culture, creed, or color.

The scientific method does not flinch from conflict, it welcomes it, but limits the weaponry to facts and reason. Thus while scientists may have intense debates, the we have yet to see them declare fatwas, crusades, or jihads on one another.

Ahmed Zewail, the winner of the 1999 Nobel Prize in chemistry, writes: 79% of respondents said that what they most admire about the United States is its leadership in science and technology....science embodies the core values of what the American founders called “the rights of man” as set forth in the US Constitution:

Freedom of thought and speech, which are essential to creative advancement in the sciences; and the commitment to equality of opportunity, because scientific achievement is blind to ethnicity, race or cultural background.'' [1]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. For the record, I think monoculture is a bad thing, among its many benefits cultural diversity acts as a "firebreak", stopping or at least slowing the spread of bad ideas, and therefore the destruction that they can do. If the global civilization is a monoculture it might look like Chinese history: amazing progress at some times, and unimaginable horror and destruction at others. Another firebreak for bad ideas is peer review, though damn it makes essay writing a bitch. :)