Teaching the controversy

We often hear that evolution has no bases in fact, and is just as disputed within the scientific community as intelligent design. Christians (and possibly other religions) claim that “evolution is just a theory, and therefore we should teach the controversy that is ongoing within the scientific community as we speak”. First of all I should not even have to explain what a theory is within the scientific community. These fundamentalists seem to mistake a theory for meaning a hypothesis. A hypothesis is an educated guess, based on observation. Usually, a hypothesis can be supported or refuted through experimentation or more observation. A theory summarizes a hypothesis or group of hypotheses that have been supported with repeated testing. A theory is valid as long as there is no evidence to dispute it. So far no evidence has been found that would contradict the theory of evolution. All it would take is for a single fossil to be found in a place where it shouldn’t naturally be (finding fossils in museums don’t count), or finding out that there is something out of place in the evolutionary tree (like the dispute about why humans have 46 chromosomes while the other great apes have 48, although mind that an evolutionary explanation has already been found for this). Intelligent design doesn’t even qualify as a hypothesis, because observing the Bible is not considered observation. We have lots of things that are “only theories”. The theory of relativity, the germ theory, the atomic theory, the theory of gravitation. Go ahead and lick your toilet seat and jump out a window, since germs and gravity are only theories.

About the “controversy” itself, there is no such thing. Christians use the argument “there are a lot of scientists who reject the theory of evolution”. So? It doesn’t matter how many scientists are scientifically illiterate, truth is not a democracy. Evolution is true whether or not some scientists understand it or not. We have a famous example of Christians trying to show how unimportant theory of evolution is, like when Discovery Institute started the project “Dissent from Darwin” in 2001. Over 841 scientists have signed this list at the moment (January 17th, 2013), which states that evolution is not a valid theory and should thus be disregarded as real science. In response, “Project Steve” was started by the National Center for Science Education. This is a list of scientists named “Steve” who support the theory of evolution. As of last Friday (January 11th, 2013), 1237 scientists with the given name “Steve” has signed this list. Evolution is not a controversial subject in the communities where people know how it actually works. Therefore we are not obliged to teach a controversy that is not a controversy. If we have to teach creationism in the classrooms, we should teach ALL creation myths, not only the biblical one. Maybe we also should teach other alternate views on subjects that are well-established truths. Like alchemy during chemistry class, astrology during astronomy class, and the stork theory as an alternative to biological reproduction.

Moving on to something not directly related. Today something interesting happened in Cranford, Florida. Bibles were distributed to schools by World Changers of Florida, and put on tables near the student lunchrooms. American Atheists responded by saying that they want to distribute books by Madalyn Murray O’Hair in the schools. I am against pushing believes of any sort on kids, whether theistic on atheistic. But I get what American Atheists president David Silverman is trying to do. While probably himself not being one for forcing atheism down anyone’s troath, he tries to show that by allowing Bibles, which are not part of school literature but distributed by an outside organization, the school has to allow other organizations, be it atheist, Muslim, Mormon, or any other group, to distribute their literature. If they don’t allow it they are practicing favoritism, and discriminating against other groups. It’s all or nothing. Either you allow all literature or none. You should allow all literature, since that’s what “teaching the controversy” is all about, am I not right?

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One thought on “Teaching the controversy

  1. Of course it’s stupid to promote one idea over another. But how about letting these kids read the Bible? Nothing is a more sure-fire way to atheism than reading that messed up book 😉

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