How well do you know your evolutionary process? Could you tell me the difference between the process of Microevolution and Macroevolution? Despite what it seems most evangelicals think, it’s worth knowing basic knowledge of science, especially when it comes to our theological issues. Our schools should be acting as buildings which hold the arguments for both, from the pros to the cons. Sadly, the bias is there, and science education standards are at an all-time low. And it’s likely because of this that we have events like this fiasco relating to Louisiana Senator Walsworth and his case relating to questioning how evolution is proved:
The problem isn’t that Walsworth was wrong in his choice to question pro-evolution legislation; the problem is a lack of understanding of evolution on a whole. Bad Astronomer writer Phil Plait clarifies the misunderstanding that happened here.
Just to cover two huge points: Evolution on a scale like that takes millions and billions of years, and evolution isn’t a blueprint such that one organism evolves toward some predestined other organism. Humans are not inevitable; we just happen to be one of many million of species along an evolutionary tree, and we’re not the endpoint.
This is a mistake on Walsworth’s part. But it does beg the question: How thorough is the senator’s scientific knowledge?
If my guesses are correct, the senator’s knowledge is fairly shallow. The senator comes from a background of sales and business, not that of biology and chemistry.
The issue exists partly in the larger culture. No one asked for Walsworth to become an expert in scientific matters (even though he was in charge of the laws handling this issue. Plait is correct for judging Walsworth’s lack of education of this topic.
In his book The World is Flat 1.0, journalist Thomas Friedman noted a diminishing amount of students entering into the engineering science field. Why? Because people see little value in the scientific field. Since the end of the Space Age, Americans have slowly lost interest in the scientific, instead focusing on the liberal arts and the humanities (please note I do not want to diminish the value of these areas. We simply see a significant decrease in science education, which must be responded to.)
We then also find that too many of our leaders are less knowledgeable in basic scientific topics (like evolution 101 or physics), and thus will make incorrect decisions about the subject. I’m willing to agree with Plait (who uses the case of Senator Walsworth to condemn the Creationists altogether) that our leaders require more education. But even more so, we require an openness of ideas, which will let the truth (whether it be Theistic Evolution, Old-Earth, or Young-Earth Creationism) to stand on its own two feet.
As Christians, we must not neglect the sciences. There is much value to this realm, for it is a place we we can “think God’s thoughts after him” (to use astronomer Johannes Kepler’s colloquialism).
And it is because of that, that we should be able to choose to follow through and learn from the best. If we, God’s people, have the Truth, then what do we need to fear? We can hear all of the arguments, and still return to what is true, what is good, and what is actually there.
The truth is, it’s never as simple as that. Here’s a case, presented by Time writer Annie Murphy Paul, where evolution is presented in an effective manner which the students are told to analyze the results themselves instead of the lectures. The innovative lecture techniques garnered the teacher a direct award from Science Magazine.
[The Students], Choosing their own set of observations and measurements to make of skull casts of chimpanzees in different stages of development, as well as adult skulls of Homo sapiens, Homo erectus, Australopithecus afarensis and Ardipithecus ramidus, the students reexamine a common misunderstanding of evolution: that humans evolved from chimpanzees. ‘I want students to be engaged in conversation, instead of dogma, about evolution,’ Price says.
I applaud Professor Price for allowing students to learn and test the theories on their own and see the cases for the evidence. Sadly, the evidence itself here was likely still biased, but I wish that one could extend Price’s philosophy could extend to the other teachers, in hopes of actually allowing the evidence to speak on its own.
It is this mindset that the educational environment needs to present. Despite Bill Nye’s claims of “Creationism being dangerous,” there is no more danger in learning to judge claims than there are anywhere else. Man must learn to do this, lest he be led to believe that the debate is far less complex than it actually is.