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Austin Cline

Forum Discussion: If Evolution Were True...

By February 13, 2013

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It's common to hear "objections" to evolution which are expressed in the form of "if evolution were true, then..." followed by some assumption which demonstrates that the speaker really doesn't understand what evolution is. A popular example is for people to ask "if evolution were true, then why are there still monkeys?" Questions like this are almost a litmus test for how well someone understands what they are trying to attack.

A forum member writes about a sign he saw outside a church in Norfolk, Virginia:

And it was hilarious:

"If evolution were true, mothers would have three arms."

No, it's not "women", it's "mothers", as if women who have children suddenly sprout a third arm.

In other circumstances, I'd be inclined to treat a sign like this as a deliberate joke about how difficult the job of motherhood is. In this context, however, it's hard not to see it as a genuine attempt to attack evolution. It also happens to express the popular belief among conservative Christians that women exist primarily to be mothers -- that's why it says "mothers" rather than "women." A female who doesn't become a mother isn't a real women, in some Christians' eyes.

What do you think -- is this a real attempt to attack evolution, or just a joke? Add your thoughts to the comments here or join the ongoing discussion in the forum.

Comments
June 6, 2007 at 3:37 pm
(1) Elaygee says:

Xtian under-education knows no bounds. Most of their refutation of evolution clearly displays their lack of knowledge about its basic fundamentals.

June 8, 2007 at 6:09 pm
(2) Godless Geek says:

Seems almost like an attack that they tried to “cleverly” disguise as a joke, in a plausible deniability sort of way.

June 11, 2007 at 6:16 pm
(3) Ron says:

A few years ago, I was backing my boat into the mississippi river. when I put the brake pedal down, I felt something snap, and then the pedal went down all the way. For a moment,I was in a state of denial! When I remember how I felt at that moment, I wonder how it is that a Christian or a Muslim is able to cope with living his entire life in a state of denial

June 24, 2007 at 12:26 pm
(4) peter codner says:

if evolution were trur and i takee it that its effects are very marginal- there would be madny clear examples of marginl evolution – hell maybe there are

any way doubt of evolution is not a sine qua non of theism

August 5, 2009 at 8:41 pm
(5) Tom says:

There are a minimum of 1.5 million completely distinct plant, animal, insect, and fish species alive today. At best multi-cellular life began about 600 million years ago. Completely ignoring the fact that many times that many species have come and gone in that time, and ignoring the fact that for much of the 600 million years, large multi-cellular life did not exist, a completely new species would have to pop into being approximately every 1400 years. Not just minor variations mind you, completely different. Yet in all of 4000 years of human history, nor in the fossil record, is there a single instance of even a single animal developing a new feature. Without calling me names or attacking me, it seems to me that this would at least cause someone to pause, scratch their head for a moment and say hmmm. Darwanism is a religion with its dogmatists just like all religions so I don’t expect anyone to really do anything but look down upon me for questioning the faith. I suspect the replies will be about how evolution isn’t a continous process, comes in spurts, etc, but that to me is just another dilema. If massive amounts of life suddenly evolves or appears, there must be some global mechanism that triggers evolution to accelerate. If so, what is it? Argue stress and I will ask why the trillions of species that man rendered extinct in their greedy exploitation of earth didn’t evolve. oh you’ll say, man killed them too quickly to evolve. Hmm but I thought evolution happened quickly when life was stressed.

Pointless argument I know. Still, I’m not convinced either way.

August 5, 2009 at 9:31 pm
(6) Austin Cline says:

Yet in all of 4000 years of human history, nor in the fossil record, is there a single instance of even a single animal developing a new feature.

What do you consider a “new feature”?

Without calling me names or attacking me, it seems to me that this would at least cause someone to pause, scratch their head for a moment and say hmmm.

Yes, it makes me pause to question how you define your terms and why you don’t do so up front, considering how critical they are.

Darwanism is a religion

Prove it. Remember to define your key terms.

with its dogmatists just like all religions so I donít expect anyone to really do anything but look down upon me for questioning the faith.

You deserve to be looked down upon to the exact same degree as someone who assert that Plate Tectonics is a religion.

If massive amounts of life suddenly evolves or appears, there must be some global mechanism that triggers evolution to accelerate.

Global? Interesting assertion. Please prove it.

Pointless argument I know.

Largely because you refuse to support your claims or define your terms.

Still, Iím not convinced either way.

That’s because you appear to be ignorant.

October 26, 2011 at 8:10 pm
(7) Laura says:

So typical of an atheist to pick on a believer like that. Every time a believer offers their opinion they just pounce . Everyone is entitled to their opinion and comments so lay off . Just because someone doesn’t believe what you believe doesn’t justify your sarcastic comments and ridicule. Grow up.

October 26, 2011 at 9:42 pm
(8) Austin Cline says:

So typical of an atheist to pick on a believer like that.

So, now asking a believer to support their claims is “picking on” them? How does that work, exactly?

Every time a believer offers their opinion they just pounce .

Yes, “pounce” to ask them to support their assertions. Why are you bothered to much by the prospect of having your claims challenged and being expected to support what you say?

Everyone is entitled to their opinion and comments so lay off .

Everyone is indeed entitled to their opinion – but no one is entitled to express opinions without question or challenge. No one is entitled to be free of critique.

Perhaps that’s your problem here – you feel entitled to things which you aren’t really entitled to. Where might this exaggerated sense of entitlement come from?

Just because someone doesn’t believe what you believe doesn’t justify your sarcastic comments and ridicule. Grow up.

It is precisely because I am grown up that I understand the importance of being able to support my claims. In contrast, those who aren’t grown up yet typically object to being questioned or challenged.

January 15, 2010 at 7:03 am
(9) andre' Max says:

Evolution is a theory. Can’t be proven. Atheism is a religion.’Jehovahs didn’t see anything’.You don’t believe in god, thanks. Now can you please get on with your life and stop preaching! The Atheist right.More religious than Christian right. Why don’t you guys get a church and worship your God.

January 15, 2010 at 4:53 pm
(10) Austin Cline says:

Evolution is a theory.

Like the Germ Theory of Disease

Can’t be proven.

Actually, it’s a proven fact.

Atheism is a religion.

In the same way that not collecting stamps is a hobby.

You don’t believe in god, thanks. Now can you please get on with your life and stop preaching!

No one is “preaching,” but why are you so upset at atheists expressing their opinions?

The Atheist right.More religious than Christian right.

Prove it.

Why don’t you guys get a church and worship your God.

Because we don’t have any gods. We just have reality. Try it some time.

January 26, 2010 at 3:22 pm
(11) MJH, South Africa says:

Nice answers, Austin.

January 26, 2010 at 6:15 pm
(12) Marc says:

@7 – Remind me who came to the atheist blog to make unsubstantiated, ignorant statements? Who’s preaching?

Definitions:

theory: 2. a proposed explanation whose status is still conjectural, in contrast to well-established propositions that are regarded as reporting matters of actual fact.

belief: 2. confidence in the truth or existence of something not immediately susceptible to rigorous proof

Explain to me the difference between your use of theory and your theistic belief again?

October 26, 2011 at 8:18 pm
(13) Laura says:

Proof of evolution ? my a***. You can’t prove something you can’t observe so you can’t prove evolution when you can observe it. In last few thousands of years, what evolution have they observed. Oh, but evolution happens over millions and billions of years… really? So it took that long for man to evolve from apes? If man has been around more than several thousand years as Christians believe, then why is it only in the last few hundred years that we have advanced in medicine and technology etc? Is it that our brains are evolving at a much slower rate?lol. Believe you science textbooks all you want and leave those who do not and who believe in their creator and in living by his set of rules alone (which are good rules by the way, one’s you problably would have trouble adhering to and probably the reason why you refuse to believe because it would be just too hard)

October 26, 2011 at 9:47 pm
(14) Austin Cline says:

Proof of evolution ? my a***. You can’t prove something you can’t observe so you can’t prove evolution when you can observe it.

By that “reasoning,” you can’t prove someone committed murder unless you have a eyewitness. Or prove they committed any crime without an eyewitness. Ergo, you wish to empty the prisons of anyone convicted without witnesses. right?

Anyway, evolution can be observed and has been observed. It’s a fact.

Oh, but evolution happens over millions and billions of years… really?

No, that’s just the time requires for lots of evolution. Less evolution can occur in shorter time periods.

So it took that long for man to evolve from apes? If man has been around more than several thousand years as Christians believe, then why is it only in the last few hundred years that we have advanced in medicine and technology etc?

Is there some reason to expect it to occur sooner?

Believe you science textbooks all you want

So, you reject science entirely? If so, then you should refuse the fruits of science – like modern medicine. And computers.

and leave those who do not and who believe in their creator and in living by his set of rules alone

Why, because you can’t handle it when questioned or challenged?

(which are good rules by the way, one’s you problably would have trouble adhering to

Well, you certainly aren’t adhering to them, are you?

and probably the reason why you refuse to believe because it would be just too hard)

Believing self-contradictory nonsense is always hard for intelligent people.

November 8, 2011 at 11:07 pm
(15) Michael Rudas says:

Actually, evolution HAS been observed, both directly and indirectly.

Direct: A group of planaria (flatworms) was separated from a larger population and raised separately. After a number of generations, the culled population could no longer interbreed with members of the larger population. Just one of many experiments proving evolution.

Indirect: In an African lake, a sandbar formed. Fish on each side of the sandbar were clearly from the same stock, yet had evolved over time to be different.

All modern biology is based on the fact of evolution; virtually none of it makes sense any other way.

January 26, 2010 at 7:51 pm
(16) Robin says:

Tom wrote: “At best multi-cellular life began about 600 million years ago. Completely ignoring the fact that many times that many species have come and gone in that time, and ignoring the fact that for much of the 600 million years, large multi-cellular life did not exist, a completely new species would have to pop into being approximately every 1400 years.”

Did Tom get the number 1400 by dividing 1.5 into 600? I get 400 from that. If Tom means what I think he means, evolution goes chugging along down one and only on train track and full conversion has to happen every 400 years. I don’t think that’s how it works, Tom. Everything is evolving simultaneously: plants, monkeys, bacteria, etc. So, worldwide, one new species every 400 years? That sounds prety slow to me.

Also, 1 million species today might be 1 million + 2,500 different species 1 million years from now, or perhaps 3 million different species if some particular pressure is brought to bear, or perhaps only 10 if we succeed in ruining the planet as we are now doing.

January 30, 2010 at 7:22 pm
(17) Bob Giles says:

andre’ Max (7). “Evolution is a theory. Can’t be proven.”

Like the theory of Plate Tectonics.

Can’t be proven.

Its validity seems to have been demonstrated on Tuesday 1/12/2010 in Haiti. Pent-up seismic energy was released, when the eastward moving Caribbean plate slipped against the North American plate about 16 miles east of Port-au-Prince.

January 30, 2010 at 7:35 pm
(18) Bob Giles says:

Sorry; I accidentally clicked Say It before I Edited. I should have said 16 kilometers, not miles; it is about 10 miles.

January 31, 2010 at 9:15 am
(19) AtheistGeophysicistBob says:

I was rather busy doing several e-mails last night; in haste, I entered my name instead of AGB.

May 6, 2010 at 4:30 pm
(20) Jackie says:

This statement makes no freaking sense! If God were true then why didn’t he give mothers a third arm? You could make the same argument for both sides!

November 8, 2011 at 2:06 pm
(21) CraigD says:

If “God” is true, why would we even need medicine and technology? We’d all be getting by on miracles, right?

It’s too bad that those who claim belief in God and miracles don’t put their money where their mouths are and rely solely on faith in God and miracles whenever they find themselves sick, in ill-health, beset by some disease, etc., instead of falling back on science to be “cured” or having their ailments lessened. We’d end up with a lot fewer claiming belief in God and miracles, because without the intervention of science and medicine there would be a whole lot more who’d be dead.

Next time you get sick, don’t run to the doctor’s office or to a hospital, but run to a church! It’s one thing to preach faith in God, but apparently it’s a whole other thing to actually practice it. So typical.

November 9, 2011 at 6:20 am
(22) Hank says:

If the religious hypocrites REALLY believed, they wouldn’t be seeking a “cure” when in ill health, stricken by cancer or suffering from heart disease. That would be the happiest moment in their lives because it means they’re going to meet God that much sooner. However, their true LACK of faith in their religion and God comes shining through when they spend their life savings on chemotherapy or get that triple bypass. What’s wrong kids….not so sure after all, are you?

November 10, 2011 at 1:35 pm
(23) RyanW says:

Best sign of that lack of faith you are talking about:

How often do people pray for cancer to go into remission? Or a heart condition to go away? Or someone with a spinal injury to walk again? Fairly often, I’d wager.

How often do people pray for missing limbs to regrow? Much less often, I’m guessing.

Wouldn’t one be as easy as the other to an omnipotent and loving deity? So why no prayers for what the evil-utionary scientists tell you is impossible?

November 9, 2011 at 2:40 pm
(24) James says:

@Tom: I don’t believe you understand natural selection, adaptation and evolution. There is no such thing as “Darwinism”. The term “Darwinism” is a social construct. In other words, Christians who are totally immersed in their own culture-centric worldview cannot possibly “think outside of the box”. Therefore, these Christians assign Christian-like properties to non-Christian entities. Just as humans assign anthropomorphic properties to their dog, for example. To coin a term such as “Darwinism” and believe that atheists have some sort of belief system is utterly absurd.

February 19, 2013 at 11:58 am
(25) Gerald Vanderhoff says:

“If evolution were true, mothers would have three arms.”

God clearly didn’t and doesn’t give any parents three arms, therefore the Judeo-Christian-Islamic deity is not worth worshiping. QED.

February 20, 2013 at 9:10 pm
(26) David says:

” If you could reason with religious people,
there would be no religious people.”
House

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