Evolution


Thomas Lepeltier just emailed me, letting me know that his new book is out: Vive le créationnisme!: Point de vue d’un évolutionniste. Based on my limited French, it looks interesting.

UPDATE: Someone kindly emailed me a translation of the page I linked to above:

Creationism gets people scared. We accuse it of all wrongs. It threatens both science and democratic society. Hence the regular calls to combat it in the name of rationality and secularism. Isn’t it time to once and for all get done with this anachronistic religious doctrine that’s being spread under scientific pretences?

Not quite, affirms Thomas Lepeltier. In this iconoclastic text, where he discusses the possible scientificity of creationism, he advances [an argument] that those who want the disappearance of creationism under the pretext that [creationism] wouldn’t be a scientific theory, but rather only a religious doctrine, promote, without realising it, a society where all dissent from all dominant scientific theories will have disappeared.

If that’s what the opponents of creationism want, the spirit of criticism which they pretend to be defending is under risk. Under the domain of reflection – like in politics, if we are democratic – shouldn’t it always be necessary to congratulate ourselves over the existence of contradictors, even when we consider them to be wrong? In short, in light of the simplistic turn of the contemporary debates on creationism, this is a work of urgent pertinence.

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I’ve seen this statistic cited various places, as evidence that most all Americans reject the standard Darwinian theory of evolution (but that things are improving):

In 2008 14% of people polled by Gallup agreed that “man evolved over millions of years”, up from 9% in 1982.

The problem with this statistic is that, if I were asked about the claim “man evolved over millions of years”, I would (after wondering what exactly they meant) be inclined to say that claim is false. Homo sapiens has only been around for a few hundred thousand years; it hasn’t been evolving for millions of years. I wonder how many people polled by Gallup are thinking along my lines when they disagree with the statement?