Cynthia's Interests

The world as it unfolds - told from an African American woman's perspective...

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Evolution & Creationism

I'm posting this article because it sheds some light on the debate about teaching Intelligent Design in public schools. The emphasis of the article is to explain some of the misconceptions that people have about creationism and evolution. If you walk away with anything, a fundamental requirement of scientific inquiry is that any theory must be testable and there is always the possibility that the said theory can be disproved and then must be replaced with the new scientific evidence. The theory of evolution has already been proven a fact. There is ample scientific evidence to show that evolution, which was a theory in someone's mind, has been proven indeed to be a fact. The only thing that evolution suggests is change. All things change or evolve over time. The only thing that is constant is change.

Proponents of creationism, on the other hand, have already concluded that creationism is absolute - it is a fact, which suggests that it is not a theory. This is religion. Religion in general, doesn't allow for any type of scientific inquiry. Therefore, the theory can't be tested to determine if it is true or false. Creation is true because God said it was and because science can't explain everything in life because things are too complicated, therefore something else must be behind the design of everything (God).

Teaching creationism (or absolutism) as science in public schools may promote a sense of apathy in a discipline that once prided itself on training individuals to question everything...

One of the fundamental reasons for the ongoing conflict between the religious and scientific communities involves differences in terminology and word usage. Having heard many lay people scoff “evolution is only a theory” or refer to “the theory of Intelligent Design,” it seems prudent to discuss differences in usage and understanding, as Creationists are misusing the understanding of this and other scientific terms by the average individual to further their own aims.

In science, the word "theory" is not used in the manner understood by most people, i.e. I have a theory that if I do X, Y will result or perhaps my theory is that man was created by divine intervention. They equate the word with “conjecture,” “supposition,” or at worst “guess.” However, phrases such as these fall under the heading of "hypothesis" or “hunch” for the purpose of scientific enquiry. In a scientific context, the word theory is reserved for ideas that have been repeatedly tested experimentally under very rigorous conditions and confirmed to behave as expected. Quantum electrodynamics, heliocentrism, and plate tectonics are other examples of scientific theory; they are areas that have been independently studied and repeatedly verified over decades or centuries using increasing amounts of hard data.


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