Are faith and belief in evolution necessarily at odds? According to Pope Francis, the answer is no. Indeed, the pope recently reaffirmed the Roman Catholic Church’s view that “evolution in nature is not inconsistent” with church teaching on creation, pushing the debate on human origins back into the news.
Although most U.S. Catholics accept the idea of evolution in some form, a substantial percentage of American adults reject the scientific explanation for the origins of human life, and a number of religious groups in the U.S. maintain that Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution through natural selection is not correct because it conflicts with their views of creation.
Have you ever had a conversation with me about anything supernatural? I can come across as very aggressive and intolerant towards what is described by skeptics as “woo.” Woo is a term used among skeptical writers to describe pseudo-scientific explanations that have certain common characteristics. There are reasons behind why I get so upset. It’s not just because I am being an ass and wish to force my will onto people who don’t think the way I do.
Some examples I give that are not likely to insult the typical person are Nostradamus prophecies and alien abductions. I can make fun of so-called alien abductees without offending many people because the concept is somewhat ludicrous. If a documentary about Nostradamus comes on the History channel I will likely begin yelling at the television within the first few minutes. If you review the facts about Nostradamus you’ll learn that his predictions are very vague and there is no good reason to believe that he could predict the future. I holler because some people want to believe very badly and are so convinced that there is magic or ESP in the world.
One reason I become dismayed about people who believe in woo is that every person alive possesses one organ that is the most powerful computer in the universe – the human brain. Wasting the power of that brain by believing in ghosts, Big Foot or god (ouch) is maddening to me. There is no good reason to believe in these things, but the more one points that out the more it is like the rational person is just trying to ruin the fun of the believer.
It is no secret that I watch more Star Trek than the average person. The Star Trek “universe” is one that promises a near utopian society. Probably the biggest reason I dislike the tendency for people to believe in the irrational is that they are putting obstacles in front of what I see as my rightly deserved future. The future I think we all deserve is one where people don’t fly airplanes into buildings in the name of their preferred imaginary friend. I think you and I are both worthy to live in a world in which people don’t tell others that homosexuals are an abomination because their particular manipulated patchwork of contradictory ancient supernatural legends tells them so.
I know people who say that an airplane that goes missing could have been abducted by UFOs. The primary argument for this is “Why couldn’t it be true.” Well… frankly that’s not the way reason works. Otherwise we would all be in trouble. There is no reason to believe the plane was taken by aliens so, when it comes to trying to determine where it went, we should not begin there. We can eliminate that reason right away until there is evidence to support it.
My rant still sounds more bitter than I hoped it would. Try to think through your beliefs and you might find that they are nonsense. I used to think atheists must be a very sad bunch, but then one day I realized I had become one. Question everything.
P.S. There is no Big Foot. Seriously.