Chapter 21Culture, Religion and Evolution Figure CO: Water drops © silver-john/ShutterStock, Inc.
Overview • The theory of evolution impacted on a very specific aspect of human culture — systems of religious belief • Darwin’s wife, Emma, and many of her contemporaries perceived challenges to the concept of their Deity • The conflict between science and religion continues today
Overview • Evolution by Natural Selection should be viewed in the context of a wider scientific, political and economic revolution • Opposition to the facts and mechanisms of evolution from religious fundamentalists has been called Creationism, Creation Science and Intelligent Design • Opposition to the conclusions of science has been a minority position throughout the 20th century
Bases of Religious Belief • Religion is an attempt to deal with aspects of human experience that can neither be controlled nor understood • Concepts of God(s), the soul, the relation of man to the God(s), and the explanations of the origin of the universe, the earth, life and man are generally intermingled in religious thought and traditions • Religious developments in different cultures provides clues to the evolution of religion itself; an aspect of human sociobiology
RELIGION AS A WAY OF KNOWING What is the nature of the universe? What can I know about the universe? How do I conduct myself in the universe?
SCIENCE AS A WAY OF KNOWING • The Universe Is Understandable. • The Universe Is a Vast Single System In Which the Basic Rules Are Everywhere the Same. • Scientific Ideas Are Subject To Change. • Scientific Knowledge Is Durable. • Science Cannot Provide Complete Answers to All Questions. Scientific ideas are developed by particular ways of observing, thinking, experimenting, and validating. Observations/Data ➔ Hypotheses ➔ Hypothesis Testing ➔ Models ➔ Laws ➔ Theories
The Choice: Religion or Science? Are the phenomena of the material world to be understood and explained by supernatural or natural causes? Figure 01: Swarm of desert locust © FAO/Giampiero Diana
Science and Religion • In Western European and other technologically advanced cultures, nonliving phenomena generally have been considered more amenable to scientific analyses than matters that touch on life itself, and on human life in particular • However, the physical sciences also met opposition from organized religion
The Question of Design • The first significant cracks in the theological armor of continued divine intervention in nature arose through the discoveries by Copernicus, Galileo and Kepler of natural laws regulating the motion of the solar system
The Heliocentric Universe The early European astronomers whose data and calculations eventually overthrew the Geocentric Universe faced serious opposition, suppression and condemnation from the Catholic Church Copernicus 1473-1543 Tycho Brahe 1546-1601 Galileo 1564-1642
Planetary Motion Kepler’sthree Laws of Planetary Motion were not accepted immediately by his contemporaries, including Galileo and Descartes Figure 02A: Portrait of Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) Figure 02B: Historical illustration of Kepler's planetary system model © Photos.com Courtesy of National Library of Medicine
Isaac Newton (1642-1727) • In the next generation, religious opposition to astronomy declined • Newton discovered the Law of Universal Gravitation • Proved Kepler’s three Laws of Planetary Motion • Calculated the an Earth-sized sphere would require 50,000 years to cool to its present temperature • As a pious Christian, Newton felt obliged to reject his own calculations Heliocentric Universe? Yea. Ancient Earth? Nay.
Ancient Earth Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon (1707-1788) Sir Charles Lyell (1797-1875) • Buffon calculated that the age of the earth was 75,000 years, basing his figures on the cooling rate of iron • The Sorbonne (Paris Faculty of Theology) forced him to issue a retraction Lyell initially thought the age of the earth was of hundreds of thousands of years, eventually of millions of years
Science and Culture Our Hall textbook reminds us that Chinese science and technology paralleled and many times preceded the discoveries in the West We could find similarities in the Arabic and Indian cultures Figure B02: Chinese magnetic compass Figure B01: Fireworks over palaces in China © sgame/ShutterStock, Inc. © iBird/ShutterStock, Inc. Table T01: Inventions and discoveries in China
Carl von Linné = Carolus Linnaeus (1707—1778) • Swedish biologist established binominal nomenclature system for naming organisms” (genus + species) • Linnaeus was a Biblical creationist who initially abided by and promoted the view that species do not change “God created, Linnaeus organized”
William Paley (1743-1805) Paley’s Natural Theology; or, Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity (1802) was a major influence on the young Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin and Society • Darwin’s theory of evolution had a profound impact virtually all spheres of human society and culture • Darwin’s world view overturned a variety of religious, cultural and scientific concepts • All life is interconnected by descent from common ancestors • Species change through time • Man is an integral part of the natural world • Etc.
Darwinism and Religion • The stressful relationship between evolution and religion stemmed as much from the recognition that evolutionary concepts were not impregnable as from vulnerability of religion • Darwin was painfully aware of this and pointed out at least two discoveries that could refute his theory: • an inversion of the evolutionary sequence such as evidence of humans in the Paleozoic or Mesozoic Eras • finding the same species in two separated geographical locations when their presence was not caused by migration between these areas • Neither these, nor other lines of evidence to refute evolution have been discovered!
Darwin and Religion “The old argument of design in nature, as given by Paley, which formerly seemed to me so conclusive, falls, now that the law of natural selection has been discovered. We can no longer argue that, for instance, the beautiful hinge of a bivalve shell must have been made by an intelligent being, like the hinge of a door by a man” (Autobiography) The death of Darwin's daughter, Annie in 1852 pushed the doubting Darwin away from the idea of a beneficent God The film THE CREATION (2009) is a very good account of Charles and Emma’s struggles with these issues; it is based on Randal Keynes's biography of Darwin titled Annie's Box
The Debate at the British Association meeting, Saturday th June 30, 1860 at the Oxford University Museum Wilberforce’s famous jibe at Huxley (as to whether H. was descended from an ape on his mother's side or his father's side) was probably unplanned, and certainly unwise. Huxley's reply to the effect that he would rather be descended from an ape than a man who misused his great talents to suppress debate—the exact wording is not certain—was widely recounted in pamphlets and a spoof play
Huxley’s Versionof the Event • “If, then, said I, the question is put to me would I rather have a miserable ape for a grandfather, or a man highly endowed by nature and possessed of great means and influence, and yet who employs these faculties and that influence for the mere purpose of introducing ridicule into a grave scientific discussion, I unhesitatingly affirm my preference for the ape.” • From a letter to his friend, Frederick Dyster, a few months later
The Origin of Man? Descended from apes? When the wife of the Bishop of Worcester heard Huxley had announced that man was descended from apes: “Descended from apes! My dear let us hope that it is not true, but if it is, let us pray it will not become generally known.”
Darwin Addressed ID inThe Origin of Species • In the chapter “Difficulties on Theory” is a section on “Organs of Extreme Perfection” • Darwin asked, and answered satisfactorily for his time, the question, posed in modern terms by creationists/ID proponents as “How can natural selection, by sorting random changes in the genome, produce elaborate and integrated traits like the vertebrate eye?”
Various Animals With Different Types of Eyes giant clam flatworm polychaete eye of giant clam squid and fish jumping spider octopus chambered nautilus
Variation in Mollusc Eyes flatworm polychaete nautilus squid and fish
No Designer Genes? • To evolutionary theory, the essential challenge that religion poses has always been, “How from the disorder of random variability can nature achieve the beauty of adaptation without intelligent intervention?” • Darwin’s fundamental contribution was to answer this question by means of a mechanism that no one had thoroughly explored before: natural selection
Scope’s Trial, Dayton, TN - 1925 “Your honor, I feel that I have been convicted of violating an unjust statute. I will continue in the future, as I have in the past, to oppose this law in any way I can. Any other action would be in violation of my ideal of academic freedom — that is, to teach the truth as guaranteed in our constitution, of personal and religious freedom. I think the fine is unjust.” John T. Scopes Figure 03: Scopes trial: William Jennings Bryan for the state; Clarence Darrow for the defense © Smithsonian Institution Archives, SIA2007-0124
Creationism and Intelligent Design • Fundamentalist religious groups reject evolution as an explanation • “God created humankind in its present form almost 10,000 years ago” • 1982 – 44% American respondents agreed • 1999 – 47% • 2004 – 55% • 2012 – 46% "MONKEY BILL" ENACTED IN TENNESSEE: Governor Bill Haslam allowed Tennessee's House Bill 368 to become law without his signature on April 10, 2012, according to the MemphisCommercial Appeal (April 10, 2012). The law encourages teachers to present the "scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses" of topics that arouse "debate and disputation" such as "biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.”
Creationism and Intelligent Design • The level of support for creationism rose from 24% amongst those who seldom or never attended church, to 50% amongst those attending monthly, and 70% amongst those attending weekly • People may attend church regularly for a sense of community, social support and spiritual satisfaction • But it is sad if this turns them against scientific knowledge
Creationism and Intelligent Design • By the end of the 1960s, anti-evolution laws were either repealed or declared unconstitutional • Nevertheless, today only 90 minutes out of each teaching year is devoted to evolution in the average high school in the United States • Some Judeo-Christian groups continue to reject evolutionary explanations for biological events
Knoxville World’s Fair - 1982 • After viewing an exhibit on the early history of Islam and the founding of Mecca by Abraham/Ibrahim of the Old Testament, I inquired of one of the young Saudi Pavillion guides, if Islam also claimed the tradition of Adam and Eve • In response to his “yes,” I then asked how Muslims view the Theory of Evolution • He replied, “You mean that theory that Freud said man evolved from donkeys? No, we don’t believe in that!”
Creationism and Intelligent Design • “Intelligent design” is latter-day creationism • Intelligent design relies on supernatural explanations rather than natural causes -- it is not science • “Teaching controversies” and “teaching strengths and weaknesses of theories” are just the next step in the creationist/ID legal/legislative battle Religious arguments have explanatory power with respect to belief systems, but they are not scientific explanations
Kansas State Board of Education On August 11, 1999, the Kansas State Board of Education voted 6-4 in favor of science education standards that contain no mention of biological macroevolution, the age of the Earth, or the origin and early development of the universe; a newly elected Board reversed this decision in 2001
Complex Structures Are Neither Irreducibly Complex Nor Are Their Components of No Value Until the Complex Structure Evolves • Proponents of Intelligent Design often assert that component parts of a complex structure, where molecule, cell, or tissue, could not be preserved by natural selection while the complex structure has not yet come into being • Wrong! • Let’s look at more examples: the lens proteins of the eye and the Eukaryotic flagellum
Gene Co-option in the Crystallins of Animal Eyes This phylogeny indicates ancestral relationships based on similarities in the families of proteins which make up the clear lens of the vertebrate eye Each crystallin protein can be shown to have been derived from a protein that had a separate function, often a function entirely unrelated to vision
Eukaryotic Flagella Nine doublets plus a central pair of microtubules ↑ Flagellum of eel sperm: no central pair Another example of stages in the complexity of a complicated structure Follow up on the more complicated story of the evolved prokaryotic flagellum at YouTube
Natural Selection Does Not Produce Perfect Organisms • Organisms are limited by historical constraints (descent with modification) • Adaptations are often compromises - structures, processes, behaviors are reworked to adapt to new needs • Not all evolution is adaptive - genetic drift; alleles become fixed in small populations - sexual selection produces features that may reduce survival potential • Selection can only edit variations that exist - these variations may not produce ideal, or even efficient phenotypes - new alleles are not formed by mutation on demand or in anticipation of new selective demands
The Dover, Pennsylvania Case Megan Kitzmiller, Dover Area High School senior and daughter of Tammy Kitzmiller, holds a sign supporting the Dover Citizens Actively Reviewing Educational Strategies (Dover C.A.R.E.S.) to cars pulling into the Dover Township Community Center polling place in Dover, Pa., on election day, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2005 The Dover Area School Board incumbents were defending a board policy adopted in October 2004 requiring ninth-graders to hear about 'intelligent design'before learning about evolution in biology class Eight Dover families, including Tammy Kitzmiller, sued the school district, alleging that the policy violates the constitutional separation of church and state The eight school board members lost their re-election (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
The Dover, Pennsylvania Case Federal Judge John E. Jones III’s decision included: “ID is not science. We find that ID fails on three different levels, any one of which is sufficient to preclude a determination that ID is science. They are: (1) ID violates the centuries-old ground rules of science by invoking and permitting supernatural causation; (2) the argument of irreducible complexity, central to ID, employs the same flawed and illogical contrived dualism that doomed creation science in the 1980s; and (3) ID's negative attacks on evolution have been refuted by the scientific community.” NOVA
The Best Book on ID • Eugenie Scott, a physical anthropologist, runs the National Center for Science Education, which defends the teaching of evolution in high schools • Scott advised the parents fighting the Dover school board • Scott patiently rebuts opponents with logic and evidence without denigrating those opponents • Her book is both a straightforward history of the debate and an anthology of essays written by partisans on each side • Its greatest strength is to explain the scientific method, which many invoke but few describe vividly • Scott also manages to lay out the astronomical, chemical, geological and biological bases of evolutionary theory in unusually plain English
The Next Best Book on ID • Twenty years after its original publication, The Blind Watchmaker, framed with a new introduction by the author, refutes the concept of an intelligent designer • The “watchmaker” belongs to the eighteenth-century theologian William Paley, who argued that just as a watch is too complicated and functional to have sprung into existence by accident, so too must all living things, with their far greater complexity, be purposefully designed • Natural selection—the unconscious, automatic, blind, yet essentially nonrandom process Darwin discovered—is the blind watchmaker in nature
Scientific Creationism/Intelligent Design • Intelligent Design? a special report reprinted from Natural History magazine • ID at American Association for the Advancement of Science • ID at Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal • ID at the Skeptic’s Dictionary • ID at National Center for Science Education • ID at Wikipedia • ID at Kuro5hin Also see Box 21.3, pp. 440-441, for specific examples of evidence refuting common creationist claims
Accommodation bythe Catholic Church • Since the publication of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species in 1859, the attitude of the Catholic Church on the theory of evolution has slowly adjusted • For about 100 years, there was no authoritative pronouncement on th evolution • By 1950, Pope Pius XII agreed to the academic freedom to study the scientific implications of evolution, so long as Catholic dogma is not violated
Accommodation bythe Catholic Church • Today, the Church's unofficial position is an example of theistic evolution, stating that faith and scientific findings regarding human evolution are not in conflict, though humans are regarded as a special creation, and that the existence of God is required to explain both the origin of humans and the spiritual component of human origins • Moreover, the Church teaches that the process of evolution is a planned and purpose driven natural process, actively guided by God • At a 2008 meeting of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences Pope Benedict said, "There is no opposition between faith's understanding of creation and the evidence of the empirical sciences."
Accommodation by Protestant Denominations • The United Methodist Church passed a resolution in 2008 explicitly denying any conflict between “cosmological, geological, and biological evolution” and the church’s beliefs • The United Church of Christ sees evolution as essentially compatible with religion as “a means to see our faith in a new way”