Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Evolution is a matter of Fact, not Belief!

In a letter to the editor of the Orlando Sentinel, Eric Reinhold said "Evolution is a matter of belief, not fact" I made a few comments on the article and decided to send my own letter to the editor. Not sure it will make it, but here it is for your enjoyment, criticism, or just print it and throw darts at it:

In a letter to the editor from Jan 22 "Evolution a matter of belief, not fact" , Eric J. Reinhold stated "Evolution is not observable, repeatable or refutable, and thus does not qualify as either a scientific fact or theory. " I couldn't disagree more. If you want to see an example of evolution in action take at look at your children, or someone else's. If you have ever once said "Little Eric looks just like his Daddy", you are seeing evolution! It is observable in the world around us, the entire science behind crop improvements and breeding animals for specific characteristics are also evolutionary. If you need repeatable, you need look no further than a good biology text that describes one of the multitude of evolutionary experiments with bacterial, colonies of fruit flies, and other organisms what have much faster generations that we slow-poke humans. Evolution has been other observed and observed repeatedly over the years. It is also quite refutable! Like any scientific theory, it is a snapshot of our knowledge at a given time. As we learn more, the theory changes. The Modern Synthesis Theory of Evolution is considerably different than Darwin's theories. This new knowledge didn't invalidate Darwin's work, but it proved many of the mechanisms that his theories predicted. Darwin had no idea of genetics, but genetics has proven to be one of the mechanisms by which evolution occurs.

To answer your three questions Mr. Reinhold, "What are evolutionists so scared of?", "Why are they so close-minded?", and "Why can't they study creationism?" I put to you that biologists who study evolution are not afraid of Creationism, or its little brother Intelligent Design. When such religious ideas attempt to be passed off as science, scientists became active in preventing a travesty in education! They are not very close-minded, unless you are referring to not willing to share the scientific classroom with unscientific ideas. At that point I want them to close ranks and prepare to repel boarders. If you want Creationism in science class, then why are you also not promoting Astrology in Astronomy class, Alchemy in Chemistry class, and Numerology in Mathematics class? Science dismiss all of these as pseudoscience, as well they should. Now if you think scientists are close-minded about valid scientific ideas, then you need a better science education yourself. Look at the changes in scientific theories over the past 100 years, or look even at the last 20. The rate of change has been remarkable! As we learn new things, the theories change and sometimes are replaced. But they are replaced by new scientific theories, not religious beliefs! As to your last question, the answer is that they can study Creationism, and many do. Many scientists are deeply religious people and have stated that the more they learn, the deeper their faith becomes. The only difference is they do it in a forum better suited for the study of Theology than today's public school science class. Theology doesn't belong in a science class just like biology doesn't belong in a theology class. My Biology teachers never whipped out the Bible to make a point and my parish priests never needed a biology text up there in the pulpit!

The Florida Science standards being voted on next month do not present the Theory of Evolution as a fact. They do present it as an important theory that underlays much of biological science. Evolution has been part of Florida science teachings for years, the word "Evolution" is finally being returned to it's rightful place in the new standards.
Nothing really new here, just trying to make the points and keep the conversation centered on what we teach our children in science class. That to me is the crux of the whole issue. Many people who are commenting against the new Florida science standards haven't actually read the standards. They are just reacting to the word "Evolution." Read them, see what they actually say, and then make your case. Don't try and use the inclusion of the word evolution as a reason to reject the standards. You [Florida] have taught evolution for years, you just avoided using the word.

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