Common Descent is Common Sense

In a way it is quite surprising that common descent (= evolution) was not historically seen as obvious, and is still rejected by a frightening percentage of Americans. Common descent is just common sense. We know that all higher animals are born through a process involving a father and a mother, and that the young resemble the parents in general but may differ in various ways. Our experience does not include any cases of animals being pinged into existence by a creator god. So, like all the other supernatural effects associated with gods, creation would require extraordinary evidence.

Now, there is an irony about the (mis)understanding of evolution. Evolution has not left us very well adapted to understand evolution. Why? Because evolution involves long spans of time, up to seven orders of magnitude longer than our lifespan, and having correct intuitions about such long timespans has not had any evolutionary advantage. Creationists say “we never see one species changing into another”, but they are failing to exercise their imaginations sufficiently to understand the effect of thousands or millions of generations.

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One Response to Common Descent is Common Sense

  1. Nice post, dysangelist.

    “Evolution has not left us very well adapted to understand evolution.” It’s here where philosophical reflection–human beings’ reflection on life; or, conscious awareness of phenomenal experience–comes in. But how, do you think, is that possible? And what would be required of human animals to come to conscious awareness of their common past, their common lot?

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