Which One Is Right? I Know This! Why Don’t You?

I heard this on the radio yesterday morning, but by the time I got home I could not remember what it was I had heard and wanted to blog about.  Well, I figured someone else would mention it to jog my memory.  And someone else did!

Steve Benen at the Washington Monthly posted today with the same thought (but better expressed) as I blogged yesterday.  At the end, he postscripts

Just as an aside, Perry also believes public-school science classes should present students with both science and religion, assuming young people are “smart enough to figure out which one is right.” Here’s a radical idea: maybe Perry should consider a similar approach to sex-ed?

Well, yes, maybe he should consider a similar approach to sex-ed.  That would be refreshing.  But my thought is that Perry assumes young people are smart enough to figure out which one is right despite the fact that he himself is not smart enough to do so.  But of course, he is smart enough.  He “knows” that creationism is right!  So he figures kids are smart enough to always choose creationism?  He figures that some kids will choose creationism and some science and he’s OK with that?

Of course, it is not a matter of choice.  Too bad Perry isn’t smart enough to figure that out.


Not a Matter of Choice

A few days ago a school teacher told me that she tells her students that the state requires her to teach evolution but it was up to them to decide if they believed it or creationism.  I am sure she is not the only teacher to make such a statement.

The problem here is a misunderstanding of what is the goal of science.

Science seeks an understanding of the physical universe we live in.  It seeks to explain how a given event comes to pass.  It seeks an ability to be able to predict what will happen given a particular set of circumstances.

Evolution is the underlying framework for biology. If one studies biology, one is studying evolution.  Evolution as a concept explains biology.  It explains how a given biological event comes to pass. It is capable of predicting future biological events (even if the future event is an as yet undiscovered past event).

Is our present understanding of evolution complete? No, there are still unanswered questions.  Are there details in our present understanding that will turn out to be wrong? Yes, in all likelyhood.  But the overall framework of evolution is quite solid at this point.  It is extremely unlikely that it will someday be shown to not apply.

When one studies evolution one gains an understanding of how the world works.

When one studies creationism, one gains an understanding of how God works (or an understanding of how some long ago (or present day) “prophet” thinks God works.)  There is no predictive power when one invokes the will of God.  Nothing about the physical universe is explained when one invokes the will of God.

The choice the teacher gives the students is wrong. There is no choice between believing in evolution or creationism. Evolution is the way the physical biological world works.  But this does NOT mean that creationism cannot be true.

If God created the world, she created a world in which evolution is the framework biology operates on.  The evidence of past evolution is in our physical universe.  If God created the universe recently, then God put that evidence there.

Creationism is not science, it is religion.  It does not explain the physical universe we live in, it explains something about God.

No “choice” needs to be made.

Would it not be nice if our teachers understood that?