Article on creationism
- Evolution of creationism
Pseudoscience doesn't stand up to natural selection
Daytona Beach News Journal editorial
Monday, November 29, 2004
In a poll released last week, two-thirds of Americans said they wanted to see creationism taught to public-school science pupils alongside evolution. Thirty-seven percent said they wanted to see creationism taught instead of evolution.
So why shouldn't majority rule? That's democracy, right?
Wrong. Science isn't a matter of votes -- or beliefs. It's a system of verifiable facts, an approach that must be preserved and fought for if American pupils are going to get the kind of education they need to complete in an increasingly global techno-economy.
Unfortunately, the debate over evolution and creationism is back, with a spiffy new look and a mass of plausible-sounding talking points, traveling under the seemingly secular name of "intelligent design."
This "theory" doesn't spend much time pondering which intelligence did the designing. Instead, it backwards-engineers its way into a complicated rationale, capitalizing on a few biological oddities to "prove" life could not have evolved by natural selection.
On the strength of this redesigned premise -- what Wired Magazine dubbed "creationism in a lab coat" -- school districts across the country are being bombarded by activists seeking to have their version given equal footing with established evolutionary theory in biology textbooks. School boards in Ohio, Georgia and most recently Dover, Pa., have all succumbed.
There's no problem with letting pupils know that debate exists over the origin of man, along with other animal and plant life. But peddling junk science in the name of "furthering the discussion" won't help their search for knowledge. Instead, pupils should be given a framework for understanding the gaps in evidence and credibility between the two camps.
A lot of the confusion springs from use of the word "theory" itself. Used in science, it signifies a maxim that is believed to be true, but has not been directly observed. Since evolution takes place over millions of years, it would be inaccurate to say that man has directly observed it -- but it is reasonable to say that evolution is thoroughly supported by a vast weight of scientific evidence and research.
That's not to say it's irrefutable. Some day, scientists may find enough evidence to mount a credible challenge to evolutionary theory -- in fact, some of Charles Darwin's original suppositions have been successfully challenged.
But that day has not come. As a theory, intelligent design is not ready to steal, or even share, the spotlight, and it's unfair to burden children with pseudoscience to further an agenda that is more political than academic.
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