Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Evolution on Trial

CNN is reporting that the Kansas Board of Education has scheduled six days of courtroom-style hearings to determine what school children should be taught about how life on Earth began. As CNN reports:
Kansas has been grappling with the issue for years, garnering worldwide attention in 1999 when the state school board voted to downplay evolution in science classes.
Subsequent elections altered the membership of the school board and led to renewed backing for evolution instruction in 2001. But elections last year gave religious conservatives a 6-4 majority and the board is now finalizing new science standards, which will guide teachers about how and what to teach students.
The current proposal pushed by conservatives would not eliminate evolution entirely from instruction, nor would it require creationism be taught, but it would encourage teachers to discuss various viewpoints and eliminate core evolution claims as required curriculum.

Is there a centrist position on this? Of course.

Let’s teach our children how to think for themselves. Let’s teach them how to evaluate the evidence (or lack thereof…. detractors of evolution often argue that evolution is an invalid theory because it cannot be verified. I’d argue that both theories lack 100 percent verifiable evidence). And, let’s teach them how to reach conclusions for themselves.


At 3:15 PM, Anonymous William Swann said...

One thing that isn't clear to me is what exactly the second theory is when people refer to "both theories".

Traditional young-earth creationism has been disproved by science. You can't attend geology class (or any number of other disciplines) and believe young-earth creationism. At least not if you believe the science.

More recently, there has been an interest in "intelligent design", but is that a theory of human origins? What do ID folks say about how humans, or animals, or anything else appeared on the earth? I haven't seen a timeline or any kind of specific claims about what occurred and where it occurred.

To some extent, I think we might get confused about a mechanism versus a theory. Natural selection is a mechanism. Creation, or intelligent design, could be a mechanism.

Evolution is a theory of human origins because it shows how the mechanism of natural selection created different life forms. There are dates, times, and places in the theory.

What is the ID theory of human origins? When, where, and how did we appear on the earth, on their view? Does anybody know?

At 10:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is something people might find useful -- eight links to some dramatic evidence for evolution and their homepages:

Whale Evolution/Cetacean Evolution (Atavistic Hind Limbs on Modern Whales)
Edward T Babinski

Smooth Change in the Fossil Record
Don Lindsay Archive

Transitional Fossil Species
Darwinians and Evolution

Observed Instances of Speciation
The Talk.Origins Archive

Some More Observed Speciation Events
(Homepage given above)

Ring Species: Unusual Demonstrations of Speciation
Action Bioscience.Org

The Evolution Evidence Page (homepage for website)

The Fossil Record: Evolution or "Scientific Creation"
GCSSEPM Special Interests

Today, anyone with a connection to the internet who knows how to use Google can find plenty of evidence for macroevolution without much work.

A bit of advice: you are going to find polite people who are curious about whether there is any evidence for macroevolution, or for the evolution of so-called irreducibly complex features of life, etc.. Such people should be taken at face value -- they are hoping that someone in a forum knows a little more than they do about a given topic and will have the information readily available.

As for people who argue that there is no evidence for one or another aspect of evolutionary theory, the most polite interpretation, particularly in the age of the internet -- is that they simply haven't looked. In either case, it is a good idea to have a collection of links to post -- readily available -- which includes a variety of websites. For macroevolution, you might want to start with the list I gave above, order and add to it as you see fit, and remove links when you find better ones.

Then when either kind of post appears, you are ready to provide some pretty impressive information. Oftentimes, when responding to some Young Earth Creationist, Old Earth Creationist, or advocate of one or another form of Intelligent Design Theory, writers will only have the time or space to cover the broad principles, if that. They won't have the time or space to provide a good number of examples of the evidence. But if you have some links handy, you can quickly remedy that.

Incidentally, by all means, not all evolutionists are atheists. A good number are religious, but they do not permit their religious views to interfere with the quest for empirical knowledge. Here is one good example:

"Science and Religion" interview with Kenneth R. Miller

PS. I will try to respond to William Swann momentarily...

At 10:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think William Swann has asked one of the more important questions. Honestly, there isn't any theory of intelligent design, other than, "It is just too darn complex to have occured naturally, and therefore some intelligent designer must of done it," at which point no further investigation is necessary, or for that matter, possible. They count trumped up evidence against evolution (which generally consists of misquoting some evolutionist arguing against some traditional aspect of evolutionary theory -- where the evolutionist then proposes an alternative) as evidence for their own non-theory. Or sometimes, they will trot out a short list of actual cases of scientific fraud, then imply that there is no real evidence for evolution at all.

With the last of these in mind, I wanted to make available the links I provided above. There really is a very large body of evidence available on the web...

At 11:16 PM, Blogger john said...

It would simplify the debate if Darwinists could give up their obsession with natural selection, while maintaining their stand on the fact of evolution. The claims for natural selection have always been the point of contention. Many of the first reviewers of Darwin made this point. It is the consistent problem and the inability of Darwinists to acknowledge this is what drives people up the wall. True, Creationists (though not, apparently, the ID folk) are still unsatified with that, they want to reject even evolution as a fact.
But basically, if Darwinists were more open-minded about the legacy of dispute created by natural selection they could calm the tensions here. But this much they refuse to do. Opponents may be confused but they sense that they have Darwinists back to the wall because of the adamant position.
In fact, the false position of Darwinists is what fuels the opposition.
For another blog devoted to these issues, check out my


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