Saturday, May 14, 2005

Evolutionists Don't Debate Kansans

The Kansas State Board of Education is debating its science curriculum again. So what does that have to do with students here in Indiana?

At issue, of course, is whether or not to water down the evolution curriculum by including the so-called “theory” of intelligent design. Intelligent design is a euphemism for creationism.

It’s important for Hoosier students because Kansas represents a microcosm of what is happening across the nation to one degree or another. In nearly half the states, 24 of them, creationists are making another push to be included in science classrooms under its newest guise of intelligent design.

In Kansas, a committee of the State Board of Education held hearings on the merits of intelligent design. It heard testimony from several supporters of intelligent design, but no scientists who support evolution bothered to show up. They claimed the hearings were a sham and that the committee had already made up its mind.

All of the four committee members were conservative Christians, as is most of the current membership of the board itself.

Those who support including intelligent design concepts in the science curriculum say that the universe is far too complex to have evolved without help from an intelligent designer. Although some of them support the scientific theory of evolution to a point, they do not believe that humans evolved from simpler creatures.

But mainstream scientists say that intelligent design is nothing more than the same old creationist viewpoint with a different name. And even most creationists admit that creationism is not a true science. It is founded in faith.

That’s fine. Religious beliefs are not supposed to be backed by scientific evidence. That’s the definition of faith, to believe without proof. In a country that holds its freedom of religion dear, everyone has a right to believe in whatever religious dogma they choose.

The problem arises when some of the more conservative members of the religious crowd try to wedge their perspective into the school curriculum by calling it science.

Scientists boycotted the Kansas education debate not because they do not like to debate evolution. Scientists debate evolution, and other scientific theories, continually. There are many debates raging in the scientific community over the finer points of the theory.

But they generally refuse to debate whether or not evolution is the cornerstone theory of biology, cosmology, astronomy, and geophysics. That is a given. It is.

So to the scientific community, there is really nothing to debate. Evolution’s evidence is strong and unwavering. And every new discovery in the fields of genetics and biochemistry add further evidence to the theory.

Additionally, scientists do not debate a theory if there is no way to prove the theory false. In other words, it has to be falsifiable. Since intelligent design cannot be proved false, because to do so would be to disprove the existence of God, which is outside the realm of science, then intelligent design is not falsifiable and, hence, is not a scientific theory at all.

What, on the surface, seems to be a reasonable compromise to the evolution-in-education debate, that intelligent design be included along with evolution in biology textbooks so that students can make an informed choice, actually isn’t reasonable at all when you consider that intelligent design isn’t really science.

Science follows a method. That’s how science is supposed to work and that is what should be taught in science classrooms. There are other means of answering big questions, but those other ways are not science. They may be philosophy or religion, and the answers might be just as profound, but they are still not science.

And so it is with intelligent design. It seems reasonable as an answer to how we got here for those who choose not to believe the scientific answer. But the concept of intelligent design is not science because the answer to the question of how we got here was predetermined, not divined by experiment or by collecting evidence.

And so even in the unlikely event that the theory of evolution is eventually falsified, intelligent design still would not win by default. It would simply be back to the drawing board to find another scientific theory that would work better.

Simply put, if the answer comes before the evidence, it is philosophy or religion, and any study of it in public schools must be relegated to those types of classes. But if the evidence is gathered before the answer is clear, then it is science and it can be included in the science curriculum.


Chris Stewart said...

In response to a friends intense belief in evolution, I found myself wading through mountains of quotations, articles, and sites which have reference to the evolution vs creation debate. Your article, I came across in reviewing the many others available. I have had a very difficult time finding any material scientifically based that supports any of the evolution theory, in fact, I have nearly fifty pages of quotes that directly refute evolution as a valid explanation of our origin all by qualified and highly respected leaders in their individual fields. Many of the comments have been made by famous evolutionists who would prefer to be honest about the evolution theory but unwilling to accept the creation possibility. With science, archaeology, biology and many other disciplines now consistantly supporting creation as a more valid truth, why would you publish an article of opinions, devoid of truth, in fact stating things to be true which are not? We all go through life learning things we did not know before and are therefore faced with change or a stubborn adhearance to those things we want to believe. The bigger question is why would you support ideas that make you meaningless. If creation turns out to be true as true science appears convincingly to support, then God could be a reality and all that goes with God, including things like hell. If that is the case, you have been, and without change will continue to be, an individual who supports blinding the masses to a oblivion of suffering in hell. Apparently you take your position lightly and don't bother with the facts, do you wish to be misleading? A thought to consider. The Bible as I unserstand in my findings has yet to be disproven. Please weigh your ability to write careflully as peoples eternal future could be a stake in theory.

Jerry Wilson said...

Try for a refutation of all the non-scientific blithering of the creationist crowd. And if you're quoting the bible as a means of swaying my opinion, don't bother. I don't put much stock in the bible, since I know how it came to be in its present form. Oh, our modern concept of hell was invented by the early church as a means of scaring people into attending. Know your history.

a said...

I am a Christian and a churchgoer, and have my own beliefs, which I keep to myself as most intelligent people do. I'm also the kind of person that never says a word in debates, but this is the most ridiculous thing I have EVER heard. What is ridiculous is not the theories or beliefs, but the fact that my homestate, Kansas, a state that I am very proud to hail from, is now the laughingstock of the world, because of the ignorance and self-centered nature of a few outspoken individuals. The origin of the universe and evolution are two separate entities; evolution is occurring constantly, right before our eyes, in every facet of biology and life. Any observant human with a lick of appreciation for nature and genetics has at least a working knowledge of why antibiotic resistance develops, etc, etc. Whether or not one decides to study biology and life sciences is one's own choice. If you don't understand something, don't try to debate it. Evolution is only a theory to those who don't understand what's being discussed. The theory comes into play when we discuss where/how/why matter/energy/life originated. The origin of the universe is at this time an unknown; that's the fact, not the theory. That fact makes some people more uncomfortable than others. Some are willing to admit that they may not know or understand something, and realize that the study of such issues is better left up to those who have been studying such issues their whole life (believe what you want, but a Ph.D really does mean that someone knows a thing or two about a subject). There are also those who would prefer not to have to worry about how things work or how things came to be, and lump it all together as a higher being's will, and that's absolutely fine. Everyone is entitled to their own desire to understand. But the obvious problem develops when we take a country that is already lagging in the developed world in the sciences and spend time and money teaching its young people that there is no way something could possibly be so complicated that some being couldn't understand it. The fact that this is even being debated blows me away. My suggestion is to keep the origin of the universe out of school in the first place, if it makes some people so uncomfortable. I guarantee that that would upset far fewer people than having ID taught to our children in public schools. Save creationism for the religious schools and churches, where it belongs.