Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Simplicity vs. Simplistic

One of the fascinating aspects about the theory of evolution is its simplicity – and its argument that complexity in organisms (e.g. humans) was arrived at via simplicity (lower organisms) evolving ever-greater complexity.
This, of course, flies in the face of the mystic “argument” for complexity (alleged gods) creating organisms of much greater simplicity. This simplistic statement reveals not only a knack for denial (or lack of an attempt at understanding) of the facts but also an anthropomorphic fait accompli: “I believe there must be a god, therefore it created all things.” This simplistic belief was perhaps somewhat understandable at the dawn of human rationality, but after 5 centuries of scientific discovery, it’s worse than childish; it’s a fraud. There are mystics who try to rationalize a marriage of the two – god and evolution – but their agonizing rationalizations are, well, agonizing.
I’ve found in my 47 years that there are those who seek simplicity and those who seek the simplistic, those who seek the gorgeous facts of life and those who seek cold comfort from not “having” to think. A better way to put it might be “those who are honest and those who are dishonest.”
The virtue of honesty plays out in this venue, as it does in all others, but the irrationalist’s trenchant doggedness to deny evolution is especially stark, considering the overwhelming amount of evidence that is readily available to anyone who makes even a brief attempt to understand the theory. One thing I’ve noticed about Objectivists is their desire for Occam’s razor: “the simple explanation is usually the best.” Simplicity is usually right. That can’t be confused with the simplistic, the arbitrary.The acknowledgement of the theory of evolution by those of us in honesty’s camp makes for a wonderful camaraderie of the mind. Simplicity makes for a rich, complex life of happiness. Cheers.


Kulero said...

The truth is usually simple, indeed, e.g. E=mc^2, a simple equation that explains a deep scientific truth. But "it's simple" is not an argument. Lest anyone misunderstand, you're not saying here that evolution is true because it's simple. In some ways it isn't, but it is the simplest rational explanation of the known facts, as opposed to the simplistic (mindless) injection of an unprovable god, which explains nothing. (Just restating your point.) But now let's look at why we know evolution is a fact.

Evolution integrates knowledge from multiple scientific disciplines: geology (the earth is very old), radiology (we can determine how old a stratum is), archeology (older strata bear simpler organisms, many species have gone extinct), anthropology (humanity has changed and developed), biology (all life is related, classifiable in a big family tree), microbiology (how the life process works chemically), and genetics (the method by which traits are expressed and propagated). All of these support evolution. Modern genetics, the understanding of DNA, is the final key, because through it we know the exact process by which evolution functions. QED.

David Elmore said...

Yes, QED. Good points. Evolution is the least "convoluted" description of reality.