Evolution by natural selection is a theory. Unfortunately, too many people read into this as justification for it being false. Charles Darwin’s central concept, they say, is “just” a theory, which is a problem because relativity, continental drift, the earth’s orbit of the sun and even gravity, are by the same token, “just” theories. Considering the massive amounts of observational and experimental support that have accumulated for all of these theories, including evolution, it is difficult to understand why so many people in this country still reject the theory of evolution.
According to a Gallup poll conducted in February 2001, over 45 percent of responding U.S. adults believed that “God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so.” This makes no sense. While there is a significant number of Americans who identify themselves as scriptural literalists, this cannot be the only reason for a statistic as high as this one. The problem, therefore, lies in education.
Many people have not taken a biology course dealing with evolution. Furthermore, creationists are demanding that their view be given equal coverage in public schools as evolution, and they have enough pull to stifle most efforts at teaching evolution already.
Recently, the Cobb County, Ga., school board placed stickers in high school biology textbooks saying, “This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered.” In Dover, Pa., the school board became the first in the nation to require that attention be paid to the “intelligent design” idea, which is genuinely amazing.
Intelligent design basically holds to the idea that the entire evolutionary process is based on some design created by God. The claim is that there is scientific evidence supporting the occurrence of patterns in the evolutionary process that could only have been created by some omniscient presence. The problem with this becomes apparent when analyzing the evidence for intelligent design. Namely, there is no evidence. While there are gaps in the evolutionary process, nothing has been found that suggests God was there nudging it along until there resulted in a species “smart” enough to attribute its creation to Him. If evolution is “just a theory,” then intelligent design should be regarded as “just an idea” or “maybe a theory.” But to deny the most supported theory in modern biology is ridiculous.
This is not to say that evolution and religion cannot coexist. Creation is by no means the central tenet of Christianity, but this belies the point. That is, creation lies in the realm of religion, and evolution is included in biology, and there is no reason for the two to be combined. To that end, there is no reason to teach creation in public schools just as there is no reason to teach evolution in Sunday school. Religion, by its nature, is based on faith, a belief in that which cannot be proven. This idea of an intelligent design contradicts the notion of creation in that it attempts to prove that there is some degree of creation in each step of evolution. If people choose to believe in creation, so be it. Just don’t teach it in public schools.
Charlie Wade, The Daily Athenaeum, West Virginia University