Hi there. We aren’t scientists and won’t try to convince you that the Theory of Evolution, like the Theory of Gravity and the Big Bang Theory (not the TV show) is a fundamental building block of human knowledge. Einstein’s remarkable observations about General Relativity are, by the way, are also just theories. And We’re not going to try to convince you that the Earth is round because, in fact, it might be more oval than round. But we just reviewed the recent Pew Charitable Trust poll that reveals 33% of Americans don’t believe in evolution. That same poll showed that 43 percent of Republicans and 67 percent of Democrats say humans have evolved over time, compared with 54 percent and 64 percent respectively four years ago. We feel compelled to address those new 9% of Republicans who, within the last four years, lost faith with science. It goes something like this:
Come back! Please don’t leave us sentient beings for the dark side of skepticism. We refuse to believe that you subscribe to the thought that humans were created in our current form while all other forms on carbon-based life on this planet evolve. I refuse to believe that if you travel to the Galapagos Islands or Madagascar or Australia you’ll come away thinking that some superior being created special birds and animals just for these isolated islands because they were special. We refuse to subscribe to the notion that you are, somehow, less evolved than those who have accepted an almost inarguable observation about reality. Instead, we believe that you have gotten bitter, skeptical and no longer trust science or those media which accurately portray scientific findings.
We are in your corner. Science is tough and frustrating. It requires a lot of patience and it is scary. We are scared when scientists remind us that we only know about 5% of the matter that populates our universe; that the other 95% is “dark matter” and “dark energy” about which we haven’t a clue. And it is confusing; even National Geographic is sometimes confusing. Hey, my brother is a physicist; we know first-hand about the irritating side of science. He’s repeatedly dismissed my thinking because we don’t have sufficient proofs — how in the heck do you prove that someone is irritating, anyhow?
We are convinced that your rejection of evolution is symptomatic of your loss of trust — although we can’t prove that. You don’t trust scientists who are constantly questioning convention wisdom. You don’t trust media, which increasingly, seems to thrive on conflict and controversy. And your skepticism is leading you to begin trusting rhetoricians who seem so sure about their various orthodoxies that you have begun to grace them with your dwindling faith. Come back!
In about 100 years, our descendants will look back upon us and marvel at the current skepticism about evolution the way we look back and wonder how our parents could have thought that smoking was healthy for them or our grandparents thought that slavery was ethically justifiable, or how our great-grandparents believed that stoning people for being witches was just. They will shake their collective heads and marvel at how we could so delude ourselves. We ask you not to adopt points of view that will diminish us in the eyes of our children and their children; our legacy is all we really have and undue skepticism about empirical science tarnishes that legacy.
Take that first step back and acknowledge that that humans probably were not exempt from that process by which all of Earth’s other species evolved over the past millions of years. Banish from your mind any image of your ancestors fleeing from or confronting T-Rex and its reptilian predecessors. Embrace the notion that if there were a Garden of Eden, it didn’t have triceratops trouncing that wondrous Garden’s ferns and apple trees. Come back to trusting that there really are some things that we can know. You’ll feel better. Your children will respect you. Like everything else, truth evolves.