Conclusions based on ignoring evidence

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Donald E. Casebolt’s latest effort to debunk the theory of evolution was, as always, amusing.

For me, it evoked a vivid image of Don (Quixote) Casebolt wearing dogma blinders to prevent him from being distracted by the temptresses Science and Reason. He sits proudly astride his faithful nag Biblical Inerrancy and wields his William Paley lance as he goes forth fearlessly to battle the windmills of biology, biochemistry, archaeology, paleontology, physics, genetics and geology.

Had Casebolt’s creator endowed me with more artistic skills I would have sent in a depiction rather than having to describe it.

Casebolt quotes Darwin as writing “Why then is not every geological formation and every stratum full of intermediate links?”

What he fails to do is cite any of the massive scientific findings and explanations that answer Darwin’s 19th century question.

The so-called Cambrian Explosion pales in relation to the explosion of scientific knowledge that verifies the theory of evolution, including findings in the Precambrian period. Any one with an iPad, computer or cellphone can access the wealth of knowledge accumulated by scientific techniques unknown to Darwin and his contemporaries.

The theory of evolution is as much a fact as is the theory of gravity. Science will continue to make adjustments as further evidence accumulates but the fact of evolution is established. No amount of wishful thinking is going to change it.

There is a term used to define the Casebolt phenomenon. It is called confirmation bias. The practitioners seek out information that supports their bias and simply ignore the (often overwhelming) evidence that negates it. They repeat ad nauseam the same time-worn and discredited theses they think supports their position.

In Casebolt’s case, it is the 18th century philosopher William Paley’s “Natural Theology,” wherein he developed the metaphor of God as a watchmaker.

All of the massive scientific evidence collected since Paley’s time will never lead Casebolt away from his conviction.

Confirmation bias is difficult for any of us to overcome and most of us don’t even bother. Most religious sects are guilty of supporting this bias because they threaten their believers with everlasting hellfire if they doubt the accuracy of their holy book.

Personally, I can’t imagine a God more evil than one who threatens eternal punishment for anyone who questions the dogmas and tenets of the religion. That’s not a God I would want to believe in.

Thomas H. Reed

Walla Walla

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