Evolution is a fact - 08/15/2004
I recently found your web site arguing for the teaching of creationist explanations of life. I have read many of the arguments about this subject, and from the point of view of a scientist, I find troubling the misunderstanding by proponents of "Creationism" of how science uses language. The most prominent example is the word "Theory", as in "Evolution is only a theory."
The word "theory" in science has profound implications. Not just any idea, explanation, or hypothesis can become a theory, and theories do not happen overnight on thin evidence. Scientists are an ornery and contentious lot, and we do not easily and quickly accept revolutionary ideas, however profound. In spite of how we are taught about evolution, or any other scientific theory for that matter, we rarely get a strong feeling of how an idea, such as the evolution of life, evolves into a full blown theory. Suffice to say, once a scientific "theory" is granted the title "theory" it has shown itself to explicative, applicable, flexible and powerful in answering challenges, and that it can do this over years, decades and longer. Evolution most certainly meets these criteria.
That leads me to another word that the religious and the scientific minded will use differently. In the case of evolution, there are two aspects: truth and theory. The truth is the evidence for the fact that life on earth has existed for 4 billion years, and that it has evolved over that time. That evidence is fossil and other. Truth in science is refutable, and that is what believers in creation attempt to do consistently. That is a perfectly legitimate thing to do in science. For that reason, in science no truth is absolute. In religion, truth is absolute. Here proponents of evolution and creation rarely understand one another. I confess to not understand what creationists call truth, but I will say one thing about creationists arguments.
They never present truth in the sense that they never present positive and well-supported arguments for their ideas.
Besides the overwhelming evidence for the present scientific
understanding of evolution, with natural selection as its driving force, it is creationists misunderstanding of the terms "theory" and "truth" that should disqualify creationism from ever being taught in a science classroom. Apply the scientific method to creationist ideas, and if they then hold water, let them participate in the debate. But in the absence of any understanding (or at least evidence of understanding) of science, and in the absence of evidence of how creationism could be scientific, it has no place in the science classroom.
Dr. Jonathan ********
CONTENDER MINISTRIES RESPONSE:
********. I'm sorry it has taken so long to respond. If educators were to restrict themselves to the use of the word "theory" when teaching evolution, I would certainly be fine with that. I understand that there is a considerable amount of "evidence" for evolution, though a great deal of it is culled from a mass of evidence to the contrary. What I DO object to is the presentation of evolution as "fact." You slipped into this trap yourself in your email when you said, "The truth is the evidence for the fact that life on earth has existed for 4 billion years, and that it has evolved over that time." What you casually stated as a fact is actually far from an established fact. The fossil record poses more problems for the theory of evolution than most people realize, and every field of science from microbiology to physics bears testimony to the problems inherent in the evolutionary theory. I hear all-to-often the contention that no respected scientist really disputes the theory of evolution, but that is patently false. I encourage you to look at this list of 100 scientists who DO dispute evolution, and note that these are not exactly crackpots or amateurs:
I completely agree with you when you said, "Apply the scientific method to creationist ideas, and if they then hold water, let them participate in the debate." Proponents of scientific creationism would LOVE to be able to do this, but have been stonewalled by the educational and legal establishment. Why? Because allowing for the
existence of a supernatural Creator as an option by which to assess the evidence is deemed "religious." I submit that if you tried to include
Case for a Creator by Lee Strobel in classroom curriculum, you'd be shot down. And that book includes interviews with highly credentialed scientists who merely present the scientific evidence for a creator (i.e. intelligent design) without delving into biblical creationism. By discarding evidence that points AWAY from evolution, Darwinists and the establishment participate in a biased science that becomes LESS scientific because of their bias. They start with their assumption that God does not exist or, if He does exist, He had nothing to do with origins, and ignore any evidence that doesn't fit with their pre-conceived bias. Do you think this is intellectually honest? While the ACLU argued in 1925 that teaching only one view of origins is bigotry, they have obviously changed their mind. This too demonstrates the bias and "bigotry" against an entire realm of scientific evidence.
Dr. ********, I hope you take the time and effort to explore the wealth of scientific evidence included in the field of "scientific creationism." I hope you'll understand how unscientific it is for the academic establishment to exclude that evidence simply because it flies against their pre-conceived bias. I hope you'll see how intellectually dishonest it is to not allow all scientific theories on origins to be taught in public schools. And I pray that our Creator will become an integral part of your personal life.
Ben and Jennifer Rast