My freshman “Faith, Doubt and Reason” class yesterday took an unexpected turn, as a discussion of Paul Tillich’s treatment of symbols in his Dynamics of Faith raised the issue of whether faith is necessary in the natural sciences, which led some students (the vast majority, at least of those who spoke) to express a “lack of belief in evolution.”
So we discussed how scientists draw conclusions, what a “theory” is in the natural sciences, and the legitimacy of inference and deduction. I used the inferences drawn by linguists about languages having evolved from common ancestors, based on “fossils,” to the inferences drawn from the evidence in biology.
Elsewhere around the blogosphere, others have been touching on matters of evolution and creationism.
Jerry Coyne shared an image of Jewish creationist propaganda (for discussion of real sci-fi go here):
Joel Watts shared a relevant video clip, as well as emphasizing that problems with treating Genesis 1 as historical/factual have been around significantly longer than Darwin’s theory of evolution. Jim West considers annoying atheists to be more important than teaching science accurately.
In trying to make sense of the thinking behind various forms of denialism, note the recent research indicating that people tend to assume that a silent, non-voting majority is on their side.