If you’re [un]fortunate enough to keep in touch with a lot of people, one of those acquaintances may ask what you think of Kent Hovind.
Einstein wrote that:
Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler
Hovind wants to poke fun at the theory of evolution. That’s fine. Remember, it’s a Theory. The fact is that there are many many things that we don’t know. Humanity has learned much about the world in only a few thousands years of written history. The most advanced societies on earth today will most likely be primitive and barbaric as viewed from another 10,000 years in the future. We’ll appear little different from the cave man.
Each of Hovind’s soundbite analogies is flawed, to pick one of the most glaring, he uses the Newtonian physics example of children spinning on a ride to explain the spinning of galaxies and universes, but these two ideas are simply not related. If you read Einstein’s Relativity: The Special and the General Theory (written for general audiences not conversant in the math of theoretical physics) Einstein’s observations are completely unexpected, but many have been proven true in the lab. Very large quantities and very small quantities (such as micro-processors) work counter to newtonian physics that are more readily observed at human scale.
The term “evolution” was invented when Darwin wrote on the origin of species, which I haven’t yet read, and therefore can’t really comment on. When the scientific community says “evolution” they are not talking about “cosmic evolution”, “chemical evolution”, “stelar and planetary evolution” (same as Hovind’s cosmic evolution, no?), organic evolution and macro-evolution. They are talking about application of the scientific method to the origin question (origin of the universe, origin of the earth, origin of the species). We could very well all be part of some system bigger than the universe, just as a few hundred years ago any system larger than the solar system was beyond our comprehension, and in only the last two centuries have we come to understand how the milky way galaxy exists as only a small part of a large collection of galaxies.
If somebody believes with religious fervor in the theory of evolution, then they don’t understand the point of the theory. Our goal is simply to use the scientific method (research, hypothesis, experimentation, analysis) to better understand origin. We will probably not arrive at certainty because the real world, just like real life, are not so simple. To quote Sagan, it’s better to light a candle then to curse the darkness.
Sagan also observed:
“I find many adults are put off when young children pose scientific questions. Why is the Moon round? the children ask. Why is grass green? What is a dream? How deep can you dig a hole? When is the world’s birthday? Why do we have toes? Too many teachers and parents answer with irritation or ridicule, or quickly move on to something else: ‘What did you expect the Moon to be, square?’ Children soon recognize that somehow this kind of question annoys the grown-ups. A few more experiences like it, and another child has been lost to science. Why adults should pretend to omniscience before 6-year-olds, I can’t for the life of me understand. What’s wrong with admitting that we don’t know something? Is our self-esteem so fragile?”
The bottom line is that we don’t fully understand. There is so much that we don’t know yet. Some things that we may never know. But the fact that we don’t know yet doesn’t mean that we should trust any story to be true, for any reason. Be it the Quran, the Book of Mormon, the Torah (translated as hebrew bible or old testament) or some translation of the Christian New Testament, Buddhist texts, Hindu texts, or the smaller religious groups ostracized as cults yet are not better or worse, simply not as successful in conversion, yet. Bottom line, Associate with the people that you like. Sing the songs that make you happy. Believe in the system that gives you peace and success. But be careful of any claim to knowledge or truth that refuses to be scrutinized. Buddha himself wrote:
Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.
Or as Steve Jobs said:
Stay hungry, Stay Curious
Tim Krieder, in We Learn Nothing wrote:
We tend to make up these stories in the same circumstances in which people come up with conspiracy theories: ignorance and powerlessness. And they share the same flawed premise as most conspiracy theories: that the world is way more well planned and organized than it really is. They ascribe a malevolent intentionality to what is more likely simple ineptitude or neglect.
You have real opportunities in front of you. Nolan Bushnell, the founder of Atari and one time boss of Steve Jobs said:
The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something. It’s as simple as that. A lot of people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today. The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer.