Monday, February 15, 2010

Why not give equal time to Creationism?

The topic of why not be open minded and give equal time to creationism cropped up on the KYGeologist discussion list. My answer to this query follows:

The proposition that alternatives to evolution (or science) be given "equal presentation" implies that faith-based mystical ideas have the same explanatory power as rigorously tested evidence-based science.

None of the hypotheses for faith-based creation or intelligent design have any evidence to support them. That circumstance has led proponents to take the strategy of trying to cast doubt (stones if you will) by asking questions endlessly and repeatedly without listening to any of the answers (decidedly not open minded behavior). This has generated a "teach the controversy" mantra that when coupled with an appeal to "keep an open mind" has led to the perception that science and evolution are weak and failing. They are not.

The public has a general idea of fairness that is common to the mass media and the legal system (in particular) in which both sides of an proposition are granted equal time. Science doesn't work that way. It is the hypothesis that is consistent with the most and best available evidence that works and becomes a theory. The debate is done in the field, laboratory, peer reviewed journals, and at professional meetings.

If you have doubts about the evidence for evolution, I suggest you read Behe's book Darwin's Black Box, his popular effort to undermine evolution. Then read Monkey Girl (by Humes) that tells the story of how Behe couldn't defend his own work when cross examined under oath at the Dover trial. Finally, I recommend Jerry Coyne's new book, Why Evolution is True. This book discusses the multiple and powerful lines of evidence that support evolution.

Comment added after original posting:
Note that the textbook at the heart of the Kitzmiller v Dover trial was Of Pandas and People by Davis and Kenyon. Behe agreed to act as an expert witness for the Dover Area School District to defend adoption of the proposed reference text. I have also added some informational links.

1 comment:

  1. Why not give equal time? Because the assumption that both sides of the argument are equally weighted is a flawed one. There's tons of evidence of evolution. What evidence exists for other ideas?

    Calling evolution controversial is misleading as well. There's no controversy among biologists. The only controversy is among those who somehow have arrived at the mistaken belief that understanding evolution must mean you are a heathen who rejects God.

    Are we going to give equal time to alternatives to gravity as well?


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