First I appologize if I did give you the impression that I thought you were "dishonest" (despite me pointing out explicitly that I wasn't
) Here, (again, I might say), there is a great number of gradations between the extremes . Being
"speaking the truth about something which one understands perfectly and of which one is perfectly informed, even though it has an undesirable impact on one's worldview"
one the one hand, and
"lying on purpose about something which one understands perfectly and of which one is perfectly informed"
on the other hand.
I would certainly (based on what I think to know about you thus far) not situate you in the latter group.
Let's start here:
Please don't tell me I don't understand evolution when I assume that the theory suggests that our most distant ancestor is some one celled animal. And that by gradual reproduction over long long periods of time transmutations caused a human being to come out.
Let's say in my ignorance that I suggest that an amoeba is the ancestor of you and I. Maybe technically I misrepresent the lattest research. But I don't think I am far off. Through sexual (or asexual) repoduction over many many fuzzy millennia of gradual transmutation, natural selection did its work to cause these descendents to arrive at their present form as Homo Sapien. Do you still say "You just don't understand evolution?"
I will certainly agree that this is a much better representation already than "a primate giving birth to a human being". So the first question is: why then do you still spontaneously decide to use the inadequate characterization (not to say downright misrepresentation) at times? Strawmen usually show up for a reason.
I should also add though, that even someone who characterizes evolution/common descent like you just did, could still misunderstand the essence. One should also always keep in mind that the mechanism is not thought to be teleological and/or progressive. I.e. "further evolved" is not thought to be synonymous to "higher animal". (I noticed you used the term 'less than human' at some point) And if we rewind time and let things start all over again, we would never get Homo Sapiens again. Maybe not even intelligent beings, or (even more) maybe not even the same biochemical basis.
I mention this because part of some people's "disbelief" is caused by this idea that it would require such staggering innumerable amount of precise coincidences to exactly produce Homo Sapiens, while this is not much different from the "incredible coincidence" someone feels when winning a lottery. It's only an "a posteriori" coincidence or improbability (?)
If you want to talk about feelings, I "feel" that to ask me to believe that the present state of all the living things was arrived at gradually by evolutionary transition, is too much to ask me to believe given a process like natural selection.
I "feel" like you are asking a great deal of me. I feel like you are asking me to excercise faith in something of a miracle. This process as far as I have been able to see is "goaless" and random.
But honestly... Surely it's not just completely a matter of "believing"?? There happens to be lots of evidence that makes it entirely possible.
Let us assume for a minute that you have nothing at stake (no biasses, no history). Next you start wondering about the diversity of life (and possibly how it all came about). Still next, you are confronted with the findings in (molecular) genetics, biogeography, geology, morphology... What do you think would be the best coherent, elegant and useful explanation for all this evidence? It doesn't even have to be 100% perfect right from the word go. But in what direction would you look?
If you would not favour somekind of evolutionary scenario, what would it be then, instead? (I'll admit rightaway that I have no idea of your position in detail)
I don't think that the evidence is unsurmountable. And I don't think that separating the non-human mother and the human child with millions of years of "fuzzy" little transitions helps that much. There are such tremendous differences between humans and even the closest other life that it is still asking a lot to believe.
Would you characterize something like 2.5% as a 'tremendous difference'? I would also advice to not put the millions to billions of years aside as irrelevant or insignificant. A true understanding of the kind of timeframes involved would greatly help to lessen some of your skepticism.
For all the people who have been telling me that I just don't understand either purposely or otherwise, I am still waiting for this moment of shock that the idea of macro evolution is not all that hard to accept afterall.
Nobody will ever be able to let you experience your definition of "macro evolution" with your own eyes and Live!. I suppose you also totally reject any star formation theories and 'Big Bang'-like scenarios on that basis.
Then, about the "fuzzy electromagnetic spectrum" analogy that I used.
First of all, the analogy was targeted (because most useful only) at one issue in particular: the gradual but ultimately significant change of one population(species) over time (for example as a result of changing environment). Resulting in us, in retrospect, making distinction between two (or multiple) "serial species" (prior and later). Thus, think of it as one seperate piece of branch of the evolutionary tree, that has no sub-branches or forks (or disregard them for this particular analogy). In that particular situation, setting the exact seperations between different sequential species is entirely a matter of agreement. How much genetic and morphological change needs to accumulate before we start to talk about a "new species"? Since they don't co-exist in time, you can not for example execute a mating experiment.
Which also means that we're looking at a 'temporal' analogy here. The branch moves horizontally
through design space but the vertical
axis is time. The different colors and gradations could be thought of as corresponding with different genetic make-ups at different TIMES, and not with for example different coexistent species at one particular moment in time. (although near
a fork/sub-branch it could also apply).
The "fuzzyness" we're talking about does in no way compromise taxonomy. Its only implication in that context is perhaps that the exact temporal location of subbranching and forks in evolutionary branches is somewhat blurred. But once the branches have diverted sufficiently, it is both clear that they should be considered seperate AND that they have a common ancestor in their past.
The reason that we don't routinely experience this "fuzzyness" between existent species at a particular moment in time, is that natural selection is most severe between creatures who occupy the same ecological niche in the same area. So if a species has somehow split off only very recently, but nevertheless gets in competition with a very closely related species again (like when a geographical seperation disappears), the least successfully adapted will quickly just be outcompeted and disappear. (or alternatively move to another niche instead, which speeds up the growing differences) So because of this, the branches of the evolutionary tree tend to have a lot of 'air' between them.
It concerns me a little bit also that some educated people may "choose" to declassify me and my children as human beings. If you want to teach children that to date we really can't pinpoint what is a human, that has some social implications that I think should concern us.
As pointed out above, I was not considering "fuzzyness" in that context.
However, let us look at your argument here.
First of all, it is an "Appeal to Consequences of a Belief". According to your interpretation, accepting evolution would support racist thinking, so therefore you deny it. However, your feelings towards what the consequences could be, have no influence on it being true
Fortunately, there's no need to look at it this way, for a multitude of reasons:
1) as a social species, we collectively create our own morals. If some Natural Principle seems to dictate a moral that we collectively reject, then we are completely free to disregard whatever it seems to imply. We don't have to deny facts for this. Just stop assigning moral consequences to those facts. After all, the only way they could have moral consequences, is when we ASSIGN them.
I'm concerned about an education of kids which makes the line between humans and nonhumans ambiguous to the point that it is completely up to one's choice to bestow identity on people to be one of them or not.
First of all, If the evolutionary paradigm tells anything relevant here (in this hypothetical context), it is that such a line does not exist. And if you think about genetics, consider that there is much more genetic diversity WITHIN racial groups than BETWEEN racial groups. No support for your nightmare scenario there!
Suppose some have scientific reasons to believe that the fuzzy line has not been crossed by some people yet?
So if we zoom in close enough on some people walking around we might well see that some humans are not really humans yet? Or have we all crossed the ambiguous line between non-human and human somewhere in the past?
A "line" is by definition not fuzzy. Any "line" of this sorts that is drawn is the responsibility of the party that draws it. So are the consequences assigned to being on this or the other side of the defined "line". Let's say there would somehow be scientific agreement about where we put the fine line that needs to be crossed to become "human". Evolutionary thinking would then certainly NOT support the statement that on the one side we have "a 100% human", and on the other side we would have "totally non-humans". It would be like: the huge majority of non-humans is 99% human, a minority of them down to 98% human. And the group of so-called "non-fully-humans" would be roughly half of all creatures that we were trying to classify, lol. So any honest, objective "value" that would be assigned according to this classification, would have almost no impact compared to the existing background of social differences.