Sometimes the question comes up, 'Why'? Why do we debate the 'theory' of evolution (the ToE) with such passion & intensity, if it is just a cerebral discussion about some scientific theory?
IMO, it is because it is NOT a scientific theory, but a basis for a philosophical outlook. It is the foundation for a World View, & as such carries tremendous importance. It is the core belief of a naturalistic view of the Universe. There are only 2 ways to look at the Universe, relating to origins:
1. Naturalistic.. all life (and complexity) is here from observable natural processes (that we have yet to observe or define).
2. Supernaturalistic.. all life is here from some unseen supernatural process, that we cannot observe, repeat, or define.
That has been the debate for millennia. I would like to point out some facts about this debate:
1. There is NO empirical evidence that compels a conclusion about either 'theory'. We can neither observe or repeat either mechanism of origins... either the natural or supernatural.. they are beyond the realm of science, & are firmly in the area of belief & opinion.
2. A naturalistic view is no more scientific than a supernaturalistic view. Since there is no science that compels EITHER conclusion, and since both are matters of belief, to claim one is 'scientific' while the other is, 'religious', is only a definitional dodge.. there are no facts that make concluding naturalistic processes any more 'settled' by science. It is an attempt to smear the opposing view to define one as 'science' & the other as 'religious'. Both are philosophical beliefs, with no compelling scientific conclusion.
3. ID, creation, alien seeding, or any 'supernatural' explanation cannot be observed, repeated, or even defined, as to the process. The ToE also has some mysterious process that cannot be observed, repeated, or defined, as it claims increasing complexity through gradual, cumulative changes in the genetic structure. A false equivalence is made, conflating 'micro' variability changes in an organism, with the ability to make 'macro' changes in genetic structure. This has NEVER been observed, & the science of genetics is making this concept seem less plausible all the time.
4. The 'data' of the fossil record does not compel either conclusion. The fossils are a partial record of past living things, not an exhaustive one, & the conditions of their fossilization are primarily unknown. Dating methods are highly speculative, rely on circular reasoning & prior assumptions, & are slanted in favor of a naturalistic view, when no such conclusion can be drawn by the mere existence of the data.
Some will dispute these 'facts' as they conflict with their BELIEFS about the ToE. But if this issue is studied without an agenda, i believe a thinking person will see the truth, & realize that the ToE is merely a belief system.. it is not 'settled science'. In fact, there are huge holes in this theory, that no one has been able to fill.
This is not really a new debate. Socrates hypothesized a 'naturalistic' theory of origins over 2k yrs ago, & there were no doubt people before that with that view. For over 2 thousand years, the popular naturalistic view was 'spontaneous generation'. That is the theory that life spontaneously is generated from non life. It was 'settled science' for millennia, until thinkers & methodology from the Age of Reason began to systematically dismantle it with real science. The final death blow to this 'theory' was in Louis Pasteur's experiment/demonstration at the French Academy of Science in 1859. There was now no valid 'theory' of naturalistic origins. The only option, they thought, was some supernatural one, which many found (and find) unacceptable. Ironically, & perhaps coincidentally, in the EXACT same year that spontaneous generation was debunked by scientific methodology, a 'new' theory of naturalist origins was taking root. Charles Darwin published his book, 'The Origin of Species', in Nov. 1859. Within 100 years it had become the de facto, 'settle science,' naturalistic view that spontaneous generation once held. It was a slow morphing, but eventually, the science caught up with the beliefs, & the ToE is the status quo belief for a naturalistic view of the universe. IMO, it was not because the ToE was so compelling, but because they had no alternative, since spontaneous generation had been debunked.
IMO, the distinction between spontaneous generation, & evolution, or 'abiogenesis & biogenesis' as Huxley presented it, is a redefinition. Evolution is merely a repackaged 'theory' of spontaneous generation, with a twist. You can see the 'evolution' of the ideology, which is a fascinating study of the human mind, more than anything.
But i submit to you that the reason for the wide belief & indoctrination for the ToE is NOT from compelling science, but necessity. It is the ONLY valid theory of naturalistic origins out there, & it is defended with religious zeal. The actual science is non existent, for proving gradual, cumulative changes in the genetic structure.. genetic science has not been able to confirm or demonstrate any mechanism or ability in living things to make those kinds of vertical changes in the genetic structure. You cannot add complexity, or chromosomes, or traits, by any visible process. It is a belief, that it happens, but it is not based on science.
And that is the reason, IMO, why the ToE is defended & promoted with such intensity.. it is not merely a scientific theory of origins, but is The Foundational Element in the naturalistic view of the Universe. As such, it cannot be pondered with detached intellectual reflection, but is the Central Tenet of Faith in the naturalistic religious view of the universe.
I believe this perception to be flawed, as there can be other naturalistic views, as history has shown. We may not know them, yet, but that is no reason to dogmatically cling to a fading theory just because our scientific knowledge is incomplete. The truly scientific minded person should be open to possibility, not dogmatically declaring 'truth' when the facts do not compel it. But the emotional investment with evolution blinds the True Believers, & they cannot even question their core beliefs, as they 'feel' it would betray their World View. That is the nature of Man, who is not always rational & scientific, but is driven by ideology, emotion, & a life assembled world view.
I do not expect this philosophical analysis to change anyone's perceptions.. those run too deep, & are a combined product of school indoctrination, reinforcement from human institutions, peer pressures, compatibility with ideology, & prejudice toward alternate views. But i offer this as a plausible explanation for the passion & intensity in this debate.