The same tired errors creationist rhetoric is filled with
- A response I just submitted to the editors of The OBSERVER...
- Todd Greene
In response to:
Creationism vs. evolution
by Vicky Westling
(The OBSERVER, 6/8/2011)
In "Creationism vs. Evolution" (The OBSERVER, 6/8/11) Vicki Westling writes, "I recently saw a young man being praised for his determination and conviction and winning a battle to have any mention of creationism removed from his high school science curriculum. I wanted to cry."
In public school science classes, we're supposed to be teaching science, not religion. Additionally, there is the legal fact that in this country it is unconstitutional for people to use public schools or other government institutions to promote their religious beliefs. So the young man, Zachary Kopplin in Louisiana, is doing exactly the right thing.
Westling also writes, "It has been a while since I took high school or college science, but my memory is not totally gone. I believe that to prove a scientific fact one must be able to repeat, observe and measure the process and results. That being said, one would be hard pressed to prove either creationism (intelligent design) or evolution. Since more questions are left unanswered than answered, one could more readily accept intelligent design over evolution. Especially when they or someone they love is in pain, suffering or dying. I don't think too many emergency room patients and their families are looking to Darwin's theory for consolation when they see and/or feel life slipping away."
The fact of the matter is that - quite literally - hundreds of scientific research articles about various aspects of evolution, in biology and paleontology, are published each and every year in professional science journals (and this has been like this for decades). Evolution happens to be one of the most well substantiated scientific concepts in history.
Meanwhile, intelligent design creationism has no scientific substantiation of any kind, and intelligent design proponents are notorious for pretending intelligent design is "science" while never actually producing any real scientific research in the professional science literature to support their beliefs. Thus, "Since more questions are left unanswered than answered, one could more readily accept intelligent design over evolution" represents an assertion based on ignoring the existence of the relevant scientific research itself.
Additionally, as intelligent design proponents demonstrate all the time, we already know for a fact that intelligent design creationism is driven by religious belief and the motivation of religious belief, rather than by genuinely scientific concerns. Note, for example, the results of the Kitzmiller trial in Pennsylvania in 2005, in which the religious nature of intelligent design creationism was thoroughly documented.
Vicki Westing, the writer of this opinion piece, openly acknowledges her religious beliefs in advocating intelligent design (and attacking evolutionary science), and declares that such belief is the reason for ignoring discussion of the actual science: "...while evolutionists go about making their arguments...they will never win me over. In my mind there is a God. I believe as John stated in the Bible, John 1:1 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.'" But religious belief is not science. It's also wrong to portray this issue as between those who believe in God and those who don't in the first place, because in fact most Christians don't see a necessary conflict between religious belief and evolutionary science.
Finally, why in the world would emergency room patients and their families look to a scientific theory for consolation? Science is not about consolation but about the empirical investigation and analysis of the real world. Scientific results and discoveries are "brute facts" about the world, concerning which our personal feelings are completely irrelevant. Nothing precludes people from using religious belief for consolation, for those who need it. The problem has to do with incorrectly pretending that religion is science.
We realize that many people find certain scientific discoveries to be too uncomfortable for them to countenance because of their personal beliefs (religious or otherwise), and that's okay, since we value freedom of conscience, allowing people to believe what they wish to believe. But when you choose to discuss ideas in the specific context of scientific concerns and scientific results, then you actually have to deal with real science rather than ignoring science and just pretending.
Religion is religion. Science is science. They are not the same thing.