Editorial: Evolution: Embrace the disruption

I thought this day would never come, but here it is.

I'm about to quote Pat Robertson - and agree with what he said.

Surely, 'tis a sign of the apocalypse.

Following last week's much-anticipated debate about evolution and creationism between Bill Nye, "The Science Guy," and Ken Ham of the Creation Museum, Robertson was critical - of Ham.

Among other tenets, creationism pins the beginning of the Earth (and the rest of the universe, I suppose) at 6,000 years ago. Of this, Robertson said, "There ain't no way that's possible."

He continued: "We have skeletons of dinosaurs that go back 65 million years. To say it all dates back to 6,000 years is just nonsense."

Well, paint me green and call me a dinosaur. I had no idea Mr. Robertson could be so reasonable.

As for me, I both don't understand and do understand this conflict.

The part I don't understand: Ever since the idea of evolution emerged, naysayers have been trying to stomp it down, going so far as insisting that literal interpretations of Genesis be held up as equal evidence against decades of scientific research backing the idea the life forms on this planet have evolved over time.

That's like pitting your favorite team against the current week's rival on your home Madden NFL Football game and expecting the result in the real world to match what happened in your video game matchup. (A friend at one time did this; sadly, it never worked out like it should've for my Cowboys.) One has nothing to do with the other. Genesis is to the fossil record as Donald Trump is to an actual presidential campaign - their paths will never cross.

Nature is fantastic and inspired. Even those who aren't religious, or reject the idea of a divine designer, marvel at the adaptations and processes that drive the natural world. Perhaps the greatest of these adaptations is humankind. We are capable of discovering, documenting and understanding these processes, and sometimes even fixing them when our actions have disrupted the natural order.

Disruption is the part of this conflict I do understand, because Darwin's idea was very disruptive to the world he lived in and its ramifications wreak havoc with how we instinctually perceive ourselves.

Against the age of the Earth and the universe, our human perspectives are miniscule. A hundred years? A thousand years? Mere blips. But those blips are all we have. We see other people, and representations of other humans from our era, and we look the same and occupy the same prime placement as dominators of the planet. Dogs are dogs, and trees are trees, and crops are crops (with our modifications), and despite the rapid technological change that's constantly altering how we interact with the world, it's still very clear who the humans are and who the animals are and who exactly is running things around here.

But when a geologic time scale and evolution are introduced, all bets are off, and that is genuinely scary to a species that can be self-aware of not existing anymore. (See: "The Walking Dead." Or the "Feast" trilogy.)

I think that fear of change, fear of the unknown, is behind the surprising resiliency of creationism. If reason ruled the day, creationism would've been tossed into the dust bin of history by now, right next to the flat Earth theory and the idea that the universe revolves around our planet.

As the Rush lyric says, "Changes aren't permanent, but change is." And if anyone out there claims they can freeze a time in place, that they can stop the movement of the world and keep things just as they are if only you will give them your time, your money, your vote - well, all you've got to do is quote Pat Robertson.

"There ain't no way that's possible."