Let’s be honest here. If you read this, you are probably an ignorant amateur when evolution is concerned. I know, that I am. Biology was never my favored subject in school and I didn’t invest years to study it, which makes me ignorant about the field. And, if you ask me, this is one of the main problem with the whole atheist <-> creationists debates about evolution: Two amateurs try to convince each other. Which leads us to some important points, if you ask me.
First of all, if you are an ignorant amateur: Admit it! Reading some webpages or even a book does not stop you from being an ignorant amateur. It’s almost worse, as it can make you an ignorant amateur who feels that he isn’t one. But trust me, it takes a lot of learning to stop being an ignorant amateur. The more you learn about a field, the better the chances that you come to the conclusion that you really know almost nothing about it. But before that, it’s very easy to believe that you really know a lot about that field, even if you don’t really have a clue.
One problem with being ignorant is, that it’s hard to evaluate, how good an argument is. For example, imagine, that you really have no clue about math. You can get by, you know how to add, subtract, etc. but you simply don’t need much more in your life. And then someone shows you a piece of paper like this and explains you in very complicated words, that this is the proof that pi (you know, the circle-thingy number) is not 3.14… but 3.15…
So, what you do do? I mean, the paper looks impressing, lot’s of mathematical symbols, obviously this guy knows what he’s talking about, doesn’t he? But, as you may have guessed, it’s total gibberish. The formula does not at all prove what he claims it does and his words make absolutely zero sense. He’s using mathematical words, but not in a way that makes any sense. But you cannot know that, unless you invested months and years to study mathematics, so that you are able to understand the formula for yourself. You have to trust someone. Either him or the millions of mathematicians who claim that pi is indeed still 3.14…
The illusion of choice is a dangerous thing. To make an informed choice, you have to be competent in that topic first. If someone told you, that YOU should make your own, informed choice if pi is 3.14… or 3.15…, then it’s almost inevitable some crank who wants you to believe that pi is 3.15… Any real mathematician will tell you, that pi is indeed 3.14… and deciding to believe otherwise only makes you a fool, but doesn’t change that fact. You will not hear „Make your own, informed choice“ from any mathematician who knows that you don’t have a real clue about math. This person knows, that you cannot make an „informed choice“, but the illusion, that you can, will work in his favor. He will sound reasonable, while the mathematician who simply states facts will sound arrogant to you.
But, as long as we are ignorant (which we are, most of the time – the universe isn’t a simple place), we have to trust somebody. And who can we trust? Creationists often want you to believe that there is no evidence for evolution. But for this to work, they must assume, that thousands and thousands of scientists in many different countries, jobs, etc. are in some sort of conspiracy to spread an idea without any evidence. And in one thing, they are right: Every scientist is just a human being. It’s totally possible for a scientist to cling to an idea that has been shown to be nonsense. It can be hard, to let go. But while you cannot trust on every scientist to be a perfect human being, you can trust on one thing: The wish of almost every scientist to prove his colleagues wrong. If a scientist could show that there is a major flaw with evolution, then he might incur the wrath of other scientists, but his name would become immortal.
But think twice: Who has the competence to find such a flaw in a scientific theory? Don’t forget that a scientific theory is not „just a theory“. Do you really think some amateur will find flaw that all scientists overlooked? It’s possible – it’s just not likely. If someone ever proves evolution wrong (unlikely, but ok), it will be a scientist and not some guy who doesn’t even have a clue what evolution is actually about.
If someone told you, that gravity was „just a theory“ and showed you some great diagrams and explained, that gravity isn’t what it’s supposed to be, sounding very scientific when telling you that… Would you jump from a cliff? Or would you stop and listen to the thousands of scientists who tell you, not to jump, because you will die? Yes, you would probably listen to the real experts.
And that’s it with evolution. I may not agree with everything Dawkins says, but this is very true…
Evolution is almost universally accepted among those who understand it, almost universally rejected by those who don’t.
Most creationists who argue against evolution don’t even understand it. Otherwise, strange questions like „If we evolved from apes, why are there still apes?“ wouldn’t happen.
You can either listen to the people who spent years and decades to study biology – or you can listen to someone who’s expertise is to believe that the bible is meant to be taken literally. But if you base your view on what other amateurs say about evolution, you are as foolish as the guy who ignores his mechanics advice and tries to repair his car himself, without having any knowledge how to do so, based on „helpful“ advise by other people who also don’t have a clue. Listen to the experts, people. You don’t ignore your mechanics advice when it’s about your car. Why do you believe ignoring the expert when it’s about science is better?