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Entry 474, on 2007-02-12 at 14:14:21 (Rating 3, Comments)

I have decided to start a crusade against superstition and mindless religion, and in support of science, especially evolution. The anti-religion, skepticism, and science sections of my web site already get a fair number of hits and my blog also gets a few visitors, so they will be the primary method of attack. By the way, I do appreciate the irony of calling this sort of campaign a crusade!

If you have read my blog in the past you might have already noticed that I don't have a lot of time for creationists and the like, so what has set of this new round of anti-religious fervour? Well, it was a podcast and several recent web sites I have visited. Yes, the Internet is a great vehicle for spreading rationalism, but I'm detecting an increased acceptance for attacking religion in other areas too.

My first project will be to create a web page with responses to common attacks on evolution. I'll post the URL on this blog when its done. Of course, the page will include the feedback mechanism which my web site already has for its more controversial sections, so I'll hopefully get some entertaining responses.

Just as a practice for the great crusade let me try to quickly tackle one issue that the evolution deniers commonly mention. That is: we can't accept evolution because it removes all meaning from our lives. Well, that is fair enough for anyone who has been relying on a religion which claims humans were specifically created by god in his image. If that person then discovers that evolution shows that humans weren't created that way they might feel deprived, but that doesn't mean evolution isn't true. The facts don't change to suit people's emotional requirements (I reject postmodernist philosophies)

People used to derive meaning from believing the Earth was at the center of the Universe, but we found out that wasn't true. Few people would now suggest that the Earth is at the center. We must move on and cope with the truth. Denying the overwhelming evidence for a theory like evolution doesn't make it less true, it just makes the denier look more pathetic. There are other sources of meaning which don't rely on supernaturalism: supporting family and friends, advancing the human race, being creative, etc.

And another thing arising from this. Evolution is a theory, but its also a fact by any reasonable definition. The fact of evolution is that we know that life on Earth today evolved from earlier forms over long periods of time. There is no reasonable doubt this happened. It is supported by many branches of science: the fossil record, genetic analysis, morphology, etc. The theory of evolution explains that these changes occurred through various mechanisms, the most important being natural selection. That is a widely accepted theory although the details are still being refined.

So that's my first, brief attack in the crusade. Please feel free to comment on this with a message of support or dissension, as appropriate.


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