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Evidence or faith as our model of origin

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Evidence or faith as our model of origin

Zachary Araki, A&E Editor

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As a quiet kid moving across the country, one of my favorite pastimes was to stand outside or stare absently out the window and imagine the world like I was some detached narrator or an observer scribbling notes rather than an actual participant. In my imaginings, I would frequently come up with alternate universes or make up origins for how something came to be. However, I could always distinguish between my fantasy and reality. My beliefs about reality have always been grounded in evidence. As imagination-driven as I am, when I look at the origin of us, I see evolution, not myths, as our reality.

Because I have had this argument many times, I will clarify: Whether or not you believe in creationism, you should understand that evolution does occur. The basic premise of evolution is simple. Genetic mutations occur randomly. Those harmful to survival will die. Those whose genetic mutations allow for survival advantages thrive and reproduce, passing on their genes. We can see this adaptation around us even without looking back to our origin.

Evolution is merely our most logical observation. We can look at the fossil records and the fact that species from different times are buried in different layers of rock. DNA technology shows us how similar various species are. We can see the empirical evidence and replicate the experiments.

My constant question to creationists is, “What would break your belief in creationism?”

Any valid scientific idea is falsifiable. If you presented me with a species that arose without any ancestor, without a stable genetic connection to any other species to suggest familiarity, basically an isolated species, I would have to reconsider my stance here. If nothing can break this tie, then it is based on faith alone. I would like to believe that dragons and unicorns exist, but without the evidence to support it, I cannot make such a claim.

Whether or not you want to base your model of our origin on faith is up to you. So long as you do not try to have schools teach creationism as fact or an idea on par with gravity, I have no issue with your personal belief. Personally, however, I have no interest in faith. By that, I do not mean religion specifically, but any blind, absolute trust without valid evidence. I want to see the empirical evidence. Correction, I need to see it.

I spent many years in churches. Frankly, I was taught more about creationism than evolution as I grew up. I have heard many creationist arguments. I could run down the list and wave my hands before the gaping flaws in those arguments, but such a strategy is not viable. First of all, my editor might murder me if I made this that long. More importantly, such a strategy would dissuade no one. I am under no illusion that such an argument would change anyone’s mind. Many who are more prolific, intelligent and versed in evolution have already tried. Rather, I feel it would be more productive to explain why faith is not enough for me. After all, that is the crux of it, faith and evidence.

Creationism, to me, is a safety blanket that supports some idealized greater purpose for existence. It is a quick, easy, incorrect answer. In ancient times, religion proposed various origins for life and being. While they did not have the instruments or experimental data to know of evolution, we do.

I could point to traditionalism, the lasting strength of religion and various other factors for creationism still lasting, but in the end, I think it is because we want to believe in a life purpose. Maybe it is easier to think there is a reward for good acts and all of our suffering, a potential haven after death, a reason for why we are here, and all of that stems from this idea of some supreme being that created us all.

I, however, believe that we are simply molecules flying through space striving for stable states and entropy, for survival and nothing more. We can try to make our exceptions, to “fight against the system,” but statistically, in the end, that is how the world spins.

My belief in evolution as the model for our origin is simple. That is what the evidence shows. Unlike with faith, if you showed me evidence for creationism, if you even showed me one damning piece of evidence that legitimately dismantles evolution, I would have to immediately rethink my stance. I would not shatter without this belief, though I would be surprised and skeptical at least for a time. I welcome all valid evidence regardless of whether or not it goes against my beliefs. Please, tell me, where does the evidence lead?

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