Why We (Atheists) Owe Theists and Creationists a Thank You

So the darling man and I were watching a documentary last night about trilobites and the development of the eye.

One of the evolutionary biologists being interviewed (whose name I naturally cannot recall) mentioned that, were it not for the development of the eye, the Cambrian Explosion probably would not have been nearly as huge. I hmmm’d at this.

The documentary went on to explain that humans and other land animals share DNA with many sea cretures. I mumbled (I was tired, it was quite late) “Isn’t it interesting that even with all that shared DNA, theists still scream the house down if we suggest that we all came from a common ancestor, and it ain’t Adam?” and the SO answered “Yeah….y’know, it’s amazing how much we’ve learned thanks to the church.” I lifted my head off his shoulder and looked at him in a “you have turned green and a third eye is growing in your forehead” kind of way.

“No, really,” he went on. “Religion keeps finding these gaps and moving the goal posts and demanding further explanations, and science just says ‘okay, fine’ and goes out and finds the reasons. If it weren’t for the fact that I wish they’d just shut the hell up about what science can’t prove, I’d almost be grateful.”

Huh. I hadn’t thought about that before, to be quite honest. There is no question in my mind that we would still try to find the answers to life’s mysteries. That our inherent curiosity would push us to explore as much of our world and ourselves as possible.  But I do wonder if we’d attack it with quite the same insistence. And we don’t even have to find which questions to answer, because they do it for us! And the beauty of it is…. we end up finding the answers to questions we didn’t even THINK to ask! How cool is that?

So theists & creationists… thanks. No, really. Keep asking those questions. I get frustrated and annoyed, but …you help push the process along, you really do. I very much doubt we’ll convince many of you that you’re wrong (that’s another post entirely), but your continuing contributions to the scientific community have been, if involuntary, extraordinarily helpful.