Monday, September 22, 2008

Uniqueness

One thing I kind of miss from my smaller undergraduate school is hanging out with non-scientists. Communication majors, theatre majors, art history majors, political science majors…they all have very different ways of seeing and interpreting the world than science majors. I enjoyed talking to them about "deep" topics. While we didn't agree on everything, we could discuss nearly all topics pretty well.

Until it turned to evolution and creationism. I remember one Darwin Day lecture well. Dr. Barbara Forest (a key player in the Dover, PA intelligent design case) came to our school to give a lecture. I was shocked that she was coming to our little school and very excited to hear her lecture. She gave a pretty intense lecture naming people we need to be aware of for promoting intelligent design and trying to get it taught in schools. It was a warning lecture really. Now, I would have liked a different type of lecture, but this was good. When it was done, I was feeling excited and ready to "fight the good fight" so to speak. But afterward, I got to talking to my friends. Among them were a chemistry major, a physics major, two other biology majors, and a philosophy major. The other science majors were infuriated with the talk. They felt insulted and felt like Dr. Forest was "making fun of them for what they believe." She wasn't, but they just went on and on and on and on. I have never been more uncomfortable to present my opinion. Every time I tried to defend the talk, they got more angry about it and more angry at me for agreeing with her. Only the philosophy major agreed with me.

A while later, I was thinking about that and I realized something. I think the main reason people have a problem accepting evolution as scientific fact is what it says about human beings. My friends and I were raised in various degrees of a Christian environment. We were all raised to believe man was above the animals, put here by god (in his own image nonetheless) to rule over the animals and the earth. I think people don't care one bit about evolution as it pertains to why there are thousands of species of beetles or how fish evolved into amphibians. But I think people get very on edge when evolution says that we are nothing more than primates that evolved a thinking brain instead of claws to survive. People don't like thinking that they aren't special or unique. When we are placed in the same realm as lowly animals, people get defensive.

I think that's pretty sad. I don't think that the fact we are "just" animals makes us any less remarkable. No other animals as accomplished what we have accomplished…on the scale we have accomplished it on. Just think about it. For better or worse we have drastically altered the entire planet to better suit us. Chimps don't do that. Dogs don't do that. Fish don't do that. We build buildings and cars and the internet. Our little adaptation of a larger brain made us unique, just like bats are unique because they can fly. We aren't more unique than a bat, just different.

I don't know if that made sense, but I've been thinking a lot recently about why people don't want to accept evolution. To me, this seems to fit.

1 comment:

Stephen said...

Humans are the only animal to break through into the area of self-consciousness. That changed everything.