We know, as certainly as we know anything in science, that [evolution] is the process that has generated life on our own planet.
Now, I would be thunderstruck if the theory of evolution turned out to be fundamentally wrong, but not nearly so thunderstruck as if arithmetic turned out to be inconsistent. In fact, I can think of quite a few things I’m more sure about than evolution. For example:
1. The consistency of arithmetic. (This amounts to saying that a single arithmetic problem can’t have two different correct answers.)
2. The existence of conscious beings other than myself.
3. The fact that the North won the American Civil War. (That is, historians are not universally mistaken about this. I am not interested in quibbling about what constitutes a “win”; I mean to assert that the North won in the everyday sense of the word, as reported in all the history texts.)
4. The consistency of higher mathematics. (The math geeks in the audience can take this to mean the consistency of Zermelo-Frankel set theory.)
5. The special theory of relativity. (The science geeks in the audience can take this to mean that the laws of physics are locally Lorentz invariant.)
6.The efficiency of the price system. (The econ geeks in the audience can interpret this as the truth and appropriate applicability of the first and second fundamental theorems of welfare economics.)
And then somewhere down the list—though still way above anything I significantly doubt—we have:
7. The theory of evolution. (That is, all—or nearly all—living things evolved from simpler things, largely through some process involving reproduction, mutation and selection.)
I’m not at all sure I’m right about this ordering, and I’d probably have chosen a different ordering five minutes ago or five minutes from now.
What would your ordering be?