In my last blog on the MySpace version, I had the following comment:
"None of this can ever be proven. So what must you have in your theorys? FAITH. You really have no evidence of transitonal fossils, Have not found the missing link between human and ape....."
My rebuttal was scathing, and rightfully so. First, Science does not deal in proof. Never has, never will. Science is about explaining observations, coming up with a provisional explanation which explains the data. As to this person's assertion that there are no transitional fossils, that's baloney. Go to any museum of natural history and you will see (literally) tons of them. There are many lineages which have demonstrated the progression to new forms. The development of the horse, dinosaurs to birds, the whale from land to sea mammal, and many others have been clearly delineated. Indeed, Evolutionary Theory predicted that such intermediary forms existed and where they would be found in the fossil record. This is the ultimate test of any theory and in this the Theory of Natural Selection has been astoundingly successful. The human evolutionary lineage is also remarkably fleshed out, despite this person's belief. It is very difficult to find such fossils, though we have and continue to add to our knowledge when a new fossil is found.
This commentor also ignores (or is perhaps unaware of) the fact that while the fossil record is of great interest in the verification of Evolution, it is not all that important. Darwin did not have fossils to work from when he wrote his great opus, the 'Origin of Species'. He was using comparative morphology. Just as important has been the development of molecular genetic techniques to look at and even time branching in the phylogenetic tree. Using the molecular clock, for instance, molecular genetics has shown that champanzees and man have a common ancestry which split some six million years ago. All of this data fits together elegantly. When you have different techniques from completely different areas fitting together like that you know you have a very robust theory.
Could the Theory of Natural Selection be wrong? Yep. What is the likelihood of it being wrong? About the same as a tornado going through a junkyard and spontaneously assembling a 747. ToE is correct far beyond any doubt, let alone reasonable doubt. Any protestations by those that take the a literal interpretation of the Bible are simply the weak, desperate cries of those drowning in a sea of the untruths they seem incapable of divesting themselves of.
But I did say one thing in response that was incorrect: that there is no faith in Science. As Sam Harris has pointed out, there is faith at some level in Science. But this kind of faith can not be equated with religious faith. Let's take a look at a couple of examples to illustrate this point. Let's say that I want something from a department store and I need it by this evening, but I have no time to go out and get it. So, I ask a reliable friend to take some of my hard earned cash and buy it for me. I certainly would not ask a complete stranger to do this, so why do I ask my friend? Simple. This friend has a track record of doing similar things for me. This is faith. I have faith that my friend will accomplish the task that he/she has agreed to do.
Now, let's take a look at the second example. Let's say the manual for my SVT Focus says that my car can fly. Truly fly long distances, not just when going over hilly terrain. But it also says that it will only do this when there is no one in the car, and no one is looking. Any reasonable person would be skeptical about this, wouldn't they? But if you take a literal interpretation of the manual, you would say that it does. Why? Because it says so right in the manual, of course! The correctly skeptical person would require evidence that the manual is correct, but a literal interpretationist does not. Is this literal interpretation faith? Absolutely not. It is BLIND FAITH, a completely different animal. It is belief without substance, and is therefore totally unreliable. Can blind faith ever be correct? Sure it can. By accident. But look at the number of faiths in the world today, which falls in the thousands. Let's say that one is correct. Even if you are a believer you have only a small chance of being right. Those odds drop vastly farther when dead religions are included in the calculation.
There is a vast difference in the type of faith that is in Science from that which Believers hold. In fact, we have confidence in Theories (note the use of 'T' here) because they explain observations, make testable predictions, and are falsifiable. Faith is more about the methodologies used in Science, not in the actual theories themselves. Blind faith can be correct only by accident, and is NEVER right.