Study: Evolution Education in U.S. Schools Is in a Sorry State

By Andrew Moseman | January 28, 2011 1:40 pm

Though attempts to teach creationism (or its twin sister, intelligent design) in the classroom have been struck down in court, these anti-science approaches still influence the teaching of evolution in American schools. Barely more than one-quarter of 926 high school science teachers who responded to a survey published in Science this week unabashedly taught evolution in their classrooms.

Michael Berkman and Eric Plutzer of Penn State have been watching this story for years, tracking whether courtroom victories like 2005’s Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District truly freed up teachers to teach evolution without fear. In an early 2008 study, a book, and new results published in Science, the answer is a depressing “no”:

Only 28% of the 926 teachers surveyed, “unabashedly introduce evidence that evolution has occurred and craft lesson plans so that evolution is a theme that unifies disparate topics in biology.” … Most biology teachers belong to the “cautious 60%,” who are “neither strong advocates for evolutionary biology nor explicit endorsers of nonscientific alternatives,” the study says. [USA Today]

It’s not that a wave of creationism is overtaking our biology teachers—just 13 percent of respondents said they advocated that viewpoint. What’s more likely, Berkman and Plutzer say, is a crisis of confidence. Says Berkman:

“The survey left space for [the teachers] to share their experiences. That’s where we picked up a lot of a sense about how they play to the test and tell students they can figure it out for themselves. Our general sense is they lack the knowledge and confidence to go in there and teach evolution, which makes them risk-averse.” [LiveScience]

Indeed, some of the data appears to bear this out. Among the 28 percent of teachers who vehemently teach evolution, 26 percent of that group rated themselves “exceptional” teachers.” But among the “cautious 60 percent,” only 7 percent held their own skills in the same regard. Plutzer, in an interview with Ars Technica, says targeting the cautious group—perhaps by mandating that more biology teachers go through evolution courses themselves—is the best way to improve evolution education overall:

“Their command of the material is not there. They don’t feel confident in explaining things to parents. So, when they are challenged, the best way to avoid a problem is not to push the envelope. They then teach in as uncontroversial a way as possible. If we can improve their confidence, teach them the counter arguments, and update them on the scientific evidence, they will be less timid and be more willing to implement an evolution curriculum enthusiastically.” [Ars Technica]

Otherwise, we may end up mired in the inane swamp of “teaching the controversy.” From the study:

Students should make up their own minds, explained a Pennsylvania teacher, “based on their own beliefs and research. Not on what a textbook or on what a teacher says.” Many of these teachers might have great confidence in their students’ ability to learn by exploration. But does a 15-year-old student really have enough information to reject thousands of peer-reviewed scientific papers? This approach tells students that well-established concepts like common ancestry can be debated in the same way we debate personal opinions.

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Image: iStockphoto

  • Monique

    I happen to believe in a little thing called the Theory of Evolution. See, that’s the problem here. Evolution, like gravity is still a *theory*. There are many, many arguments to be made, and ways to see how evolution has worked and how it has not only changed species (the penguin comes to mind, so does the whale) but also how it has produced new species. The problem is always going to be in the details until we can definitely figure out two things: how single celled organisms became complex organisms and how humans evolved from other primates. Until science can definitely show us that, it will remain a theory based on the way it is taught. Personally, I think that it is generally taught poorly in schools anyway.

    What do most people take away from being taught evolution? The humans evolved from monkeys and that we all evolved from single celled organisms. The fact is that evolution is far more than either of these statements and both are disingenuous since science has proven neither. Maybe, if we taught evolution properly, this issue would cease to exist.

  • A Swede

    I’m so happy I don’t live in the United States.

  • Gil

    @1: the “problem” with any science is in the details; the further one digs, the more questions one learns to ask. “Still a theory” is poorly worded when talking about modern science. Everything is theory, everything is empircally tentative, waiting for more evidence. It is merely that some theories are more provisional than others. Evolution and gravity are strong theories. Some of the theories on, say, prion origination are comparatively shaky.

    The first of your two problems is the interesting one, although I expect slime molds will serve as our best model for how multicellularity began. The latter question, how humans evolved from other primates, is comparitively banal and well described already by molecular and fossil data. All /mammals/ are more or less the same if the scale you’re looking at is single celled vs multicelled.

    If science hasn’t proven your former question beyond a shadow of a doubt, certainly it has the second already. Thusly I have to concur with you that apparently our education on evolution is lacking.

  • Doug

    As somebody going into science education, I look forward to being part of the 26% of teachers who unabashedly introduce evolutionary evidence and discuss with no conciliation toward religion.

  • Lauren

    I’m with Doug. I’m heading back to school to pursue my science education degree and I can’t wait to properly teach evolution. A complete understanding of the theory and the facts behind it can really open student’s eyes to the amazing processes that have shaped humanity. We are doing a disservice to future generations by being afraid to teach this subject. The facts are overwhelmingly on the side of evolution. Teach it!

  • nathan

    Unfortunately, the facts of evolution are rarely the problem. As a high school biology teacher for the last 8 years (who only teaches evolution and feels confident about it), I can tell you that teacher’s understanding and confidence are not even remotely the issue here.

    I have had students and parents who were HOSTILE regarding evolution (and even science in general). They believed that even listening to me talk about evolution was a SIN. No amount of explanation is going to change their beliefs if they believe things like fossils are there to trick people into sinning against god.

    If you really think that all we need to do is improve how the facts are being taught, then you should look into the centuries long debates between various religious groups and the scientists who promote scientific ideas. The battle between atheists and theists is less about facts and more about differences in fundamental underlying beliefs about the world.

    I wish all of you future teachers the best of luck. I know I have helped many to IMPROVE their understanding of science and evolution, but I think I have made almost no impact on those who were already set against it from the beginning. When they are indoctrinated before they even get to school to believe that this stuff is sinful, there is little we as teachers can honestly due to change that. At BEST we might get some wheels to turn.

  • Daryl Pinksen

    Evolution isn’t a theory any more than gravity is a theory. Both are fact. Evolution was observable in the fossil record long before “natural selection” (the theory part) was postulated to explain it. Likewise gravity was observable as fact long before Aristotle, Newton or Einstein postulated their various theories to explain it.

    Theories of gravity will continue to refine the explanation of why gravity occurs, but the fact of gravity itself is inviolable. Likewise with evolution.

  • whoschad

    I was taught nothing except strict evolution in my classroom growing up. Although I agree that it (of course) should be taught, I also consider this problem to be one of the LEAST important problems that plague American education today.

    Reading this article makes it seem like the main culprit is not radical Young Earth Creationism, but rather a radical relativistic mindset that many teachers have bought into. I would bet that most of these teachers themselves don’t buy into creationism, but rather they buy into the belief that you shouldn’t force ANY belief on anyone. This is quite a disastrous view to take on – especially if your job is to teach people things. Why be a teacher if you don’t feel like you should teach people?

  • Lauren

    Nathan, do you have any tips for future teachers dealing with hostile students and parents? I am very familiar with the history of science and religion and the various debates that the different worldviews have unearthed. I am also expecting to come across students who are against learning anything about evolution, but I have yet to come up with any ideas on how to deal with this in a professional manner.

  • nathan

    Yeah, it can be tough when the student won’t even look at you or take notes, etc. Its quite demoralizing.

    Unlike the poster above, I don’t see how understanding is the same as believing. I tell the parents and/or student that they don’t have to believe in it, they just need to understand it. Additionally I will remind them that the state requires this material to be studied. Beyond that I just try to teach it as best I can despite the hostility and hope that some understanding gets through.

    I haven’t found arguing about details or facts to be useful at all. Even if you can disprove everything they say, that doesn’t mean they will buy into what you are saying. It’s just too far ingrained. Logic is not the issue here.

  • Jeff

    @Monique I agree with what you said about how Evolution is poorly taught and that the public often walks away with only a few details in their heads which often results in a poor understanding of the concept. However, I disagree with some of your arguments, mostly centered around a single statement which seemed to be reinforced (at least in how I read your comment) by what followed that statement.

    One of the arguements I often hear is “It’s just a theory”, just like you said that evolution and gravity is still a *theory* (which based on how you wrote your response, implies that you feel a theory doesn’t hold much as much weight). I have a problem with this statement being used as an argument. The general public uses the term “theory” like it is merely an idea or educated guess…much like a scientist would use the term “hypothesis”. Yet evolution and gravity are both more than just an educated guess. So let’s revisit what it means to be a hypothesis and a scientific theory:

    HYPOTHESIS: “This is an educated guess based upon observation. It is a rational explanation of a single event or phenomenon based upon what is observed, but which has not been proved. Most hypotheses can be supported or refuted by experimentation or continued observation. ”

    THEORY: “A theory is what one or more hypotheses become once they have been verified and accepted to be true. A theory is an explanation of a set of related observations or events based upon proven hypotheses and verified multiple times by detached groups of researchers. ”

    Evolution has a rather well established amount of evidence and support. That evidence and support grows every year. So much so that I’ve even heard scientists state that there is more evidence for Evolution than there is for Gravity. Which brings up the next thought. Gravity is not just a theory. Gravity is Scientific Law, or Fact. This is taking a theory and proving it beyond any doubts. The base concept of gravity is sound. Sound enough that it is used to prove other theories and laws. But in some generalized ways, such as how it works or what causes it, gravity is still a theory. This means that it is well established and backed up by evidence, but that there are still some details being worked out. Does this mean that Gravity is any less trustworthy a principle? Absolutely not.

    Some scientists even use the word theory incorrectly, which can make things confusing. But it is important to remember the difference between Scientific Theory and Public Theory. Public Theory is an educated guess, not a concept based on rigerously tested data collection that is repeatedly tested. A Scientific Theory can be taken as “This IS what happens. Now we are working on refining our understanding of how it happens.”

    The evidence has been collected and is growing yearly. The evidence has been analyzed by experts in their fields. The answer is repeatedly been shown and few doubts remain amongst the scientific community. Evolution is not just an idea. It’s not just a hypothesis or educated guess. Evolution is a Scientific Theory. To say it is “just a theory” is a cheap shot based on a lack of understanding of the scientific process.

  • Lauren

    Thanks! Yeah, I can imagine an appeal to logic won’t work with someone who does not have that trait.

  • scribbler

    The problem here isn’t that you need more evidence for evolution but that Y’all haven’t disproven Creation…

    You haven’t even come close…

    The fact that 73% don’t have enough confidence in evolution to teach it with confidence is more likely due to the acceptance of the teachers of questions about the validity of the evolution theory than succumbing to pressures from mindless religious types.

    How sad that arrogance demands that as the first hypothesis rather than admitting that there have arisen valid challenges to a convenient theory.

  • matt

    The problem a lot of these religious zealots have is they get told that evolution isnt happening in the macroscopic world as a defence. What they cant see isnt real.

    Sadly they are wrong as proven recently by scientists re-evolving a snail into the slug with added paladium or similar.

    Snails evolved to slugs and we can reproduce it to show people. How hard is that to see and understand. The problem is that no one has shown these tests to people and it would do better to have seminars that show the experiments on a screen to people.

    We can show people many types of evolution, culture in animals, intelligence in animals but they all say its creationist stuff. What they cant refute is us turning a snail into a perfectly good slug.

    Also its hard to change someone who believes everything was created by someone else all you can do is make it circular so there logic fails.

    -> Someone made everything -> humans can make “everything” ->

    We created ourselves are we gods?…did we create evolution no. Therefore creationism does not create evolution.

    We prove evolution we therefore disprove creationism. Because otherwise youve proved that the creationist created evolution instead and our point is made anyways. And if you prove evolution you can prove creationism isnt needed. So in the end creationism disproves itself..very simple.

    Unfortunately we can only create a few basic organisms from scratch and evolve or change evolution of animals. But its enough to show them they are wrong.

  • JMW

    If you remove “Evolution” from your headline, you’re closer to the mark…and the problem.

  • Tim

    LOL.. how about there is NO evidence for EVOLUTION? It’s ONLY A THEORY!!!!

    The thought that we come from monkeys, fish, or turtles is almost as bad as people saying that George Bush blew up the levies during Katrina, or that Jesus is black. Unfortunately for the bean counting scientists out there who love statistics, there is REAL evidence that Jesus wasn’t black.

  • Tim

    Oh, and perhaps people live in the age of information where THEORIES divorced from facts are just mere curiosities. Some find them facinating and most think “Children, you are never to attend that woman’s class again!”

  • John Burton

    The comments above remind me of my friend who got “Saved/Born Again”. Our debate went on a couple of years; he trying to save me and I trying to appeal to his reason. A couple years later a couple of clowns made up a story that they had climbed Mr Ariat and found the Ark. They traveled the country and were in hot demand by the churches and paid nicely for their first hand description of the Ark. My friend heard they were coming to town and insisted in the strongest terms that I attend the lecture being held at the big Baptist Church, downtown Shreveport which I declined. After a period of time the clowns fessed up that they had never climbed the mountain and had never seen the Ark. When I showed my friend this info which was widely reported to my Born Again friend, to my astonishment, he refused to believe it claiming it was a lie and a hoax sort of like the fossils planted to trick non-believers. The point is like the poster said above, once they have been programmed, they will believe it even if sweet jesus himself came down and said it was all a big joke.

  • Georg

    Evolution Education in U.S. Schools Is in a Sorry State

    Evolution Education only?

  • Scott

    Nicely put Gil and whoschad. I agree that teachers should be more direct and not teach evolution as a belief, however, if you do not challenge your students to probe the veracity of what you teach them, they will not be able to distinguish your teachings from doctrine. The goal is not just to teach them what is true, but to give them some cognitive ability to discern things for themselves and thus combat ignorance. In that way, they will not end up like some of their parents, expressing their anger in all caps on a message board.

    It’s pretty hard to teach skepticism, though, if you don’t have enough of it to figure this situation out for yourself, as appears is the case with the “cautious 60%.” If the teachers were truly skeptical, that number would represent the balance of evidence for and against evolution. Since it does not, it points to those who have apparently not probed the details of what they teach enough to understand what the ample evidence for evolution signifies.

    If you are a teacher and aren’t sure you completely understand why evolution is a stalwart scientific theory, please take some time out of your day to research it some more.

  • Geoffrey Frasz

    The problem is that people like Monique in #1 perpetuate the problem by insisting on speaking about a Theory of Evolution. Evolution and evolutionary processes are a fact (by any definition of “fact” that one wants to give) and Natural Selection and its subsequent modifications is the theory that best explains that fact. It can (as a matter of fact!) explain why multicellular organisms and human being came into being.

  • Geoffrey Frasz

    Nathan is correct too. As long as teachers are going to face the wrath of hostile parents and students then they are going to be cautious. It is going to take courageous administrators, school boards, and state agencies to support the teachers who zealously teach evolution. Plus we need supportive religious leaders to publicly state that it is not a sin to study this subject and support the teachers that do. Without this additional support teachers in the class room will continue to fell beleaguered and, given all the other problems they have in just teaching, feel “why should I give myself one more problem.”

  • Katharine

    1) You can’t ‘disprove’ anything. But the odds that there is any sort of supernatural being are exactly the same as the odds of there being a toaster somewhere on the other side of the Milky Way Galaxy.

    2) Tim, perhaps this thread’s biggest idiot, obviously hasn’t read a biology textbook.

  • scribbler

    There is nothing in science that renders a Transcendent God impossible. The prudent thing to say then is that you are ignorant of any proof that there is one and not that there isn’t one because you believe there isn’t.

    Your assertion that there is no God without proof of that statement is no different than the statement that there is a God without proof…

    Also, even if evolution was proven, it doesn’t prove that God does not exist.

    As a thought experiment, let’s say for a moment that Jesus really did turn water into wine. If you poured the water and then an instant later dipped out wine, you would say that the wine was only a minute or so old. A modern scientific analysis would “prove” you to be a fool…

    The point is that science is our attempt to better understand things we do not understand. To proffer that we are advanced enough in science to proclaim that there is no God is inane. To say you have not seen any credible evidence is the best you can do at this point.

    All else is a flawed.

    If someone suggested that Jesus wielded an advanced technology, you’d line up to believe it. How sad that you cannot conceive of a Being that doesn’t need conventional tools. Y’all want God brought to you in a box. I postulate that He will not fit…

  • John Lerch

    The problem is that unless teachers tell their students that the Creationists have been lying to them and what the students see as plan as day in front of their face is in fact reality, the students will continue to doubt their own senses. It’s the equivalent of letting a major part of the populace tell the students that the moon is made of blue cheese and not quashing that notion.

  • Messier Tidy Upper

    Though attempts to teach creationism (or its twin sister, intelligent design) in the classroom have been struck down in court,

    But ..but ..but .. ID isn’t creationism’s twin sister ..

    It is its Siamese twin! 😉

    Same body, slightly different face.

    Perhaps the best thing to teach kids is critical thinking – how to analyse and deconstruct arguments, how to recognise logical fallacies and so on so that they can think more clearly for themselves?

  • Jason

    I’m tired of people misusing the word theory when applied to scientific principles. A theory in science is a statement that is accepted as true based on evidence and rigorous testing. Evolution was once just a hypothesis, an idea that happens to fit shown evidence without any or little testing. Evolution has been tested and studied and has been bumped up to a full blown scientific theory. Most often people use it as meaning speculation or conjecture. For instance, “I have a theory of what happened at the crime scene.” Scientific theory versus Sherlock Holmes crime theory. This distinction needs to be driven home at every opportunity.

  • Jason

    I’m not aware of any evidence that jesus actually existed other than in books written by men who wanted there to be a jesus and a god for some personal gain. The bible is not proof that god exists. It’s a book written by people that WANTED a god to exist. If there is any evidence that jesus or god is real I am willing to re-evaluate my views but until then I’ll take science.

  • KRAYA2

    What we believe is not as important as how do we know what we believe is the truth.

    My faith is with facts and science!

    Generally, the controversy is caused by a conflict of memes with the less informed / educated often basing their beliefs on faith and not facts. A real tragedy.

    The truth and facts really do set you free.

  • scribbler

    Quote: Perhaps the best thing to teach kids is critical thinking – how to analyze and deconstruct arguments, how to recognize logical fallacies and so on so that they can think more clearly for themselves?

    Unquote: And when they come to the same conclusion that I have and that is that though evolution answers many questions, it most certainly doesn’t answer them all on the one hand and that evolution doesn’t disprove a Transcendent God on the other, what do you do next?

    Certainly the answer to many here is to label those who do not agree idiots and children so as to remain cozy and warm in their unproven beliefs…

    There are basically three types of belief. One you believe things because of the evidence, another you believe when there is no evidence and the last where you believe things in spite of the evidence. To that end, when you ignore evidence that points to glaring inconsistencies concerning evolution, you become no different than the “religious idiots” you so label others who disagree…

    One of the most glaring can be summed up in this: Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Evolutionist claim that the chicken came first from the egg of something that was not quite a chicken…

    I find no science that backs that up…

  • Daniel J. Andrews

    . To that end, when you ignore evidence that points to glaring inconsistencies concerning evolution, you become no different than the “religious idiots” you so label others who disagree…

    But those glaring inconsistencies stem from 1. misunderstanding what evolution is actually about, 2. misrepresenting a science paper and claiming it says something one thing when it does not, 3. completely fabricated facts.

    When you chase down an “inconsistency” you will find it will fall into one of those three categories almost every single time, yet YEC will not retract their claim but will cling to it even after it has been debunked a few hundred times. That sounds like your third type of evidence–where you believe things in spite of the evidence.

    btw, your chicken or egg question shows that you fall into category 1, and you really don’t have any idea what you’re talking about.

    Jason, the evidence that Jesus existed is fairly solid, as much as most other historical figures from a few thousand years back (despite claims to the contrary in that really selective evidence based book that makes Chariots of the Gods? look like a scholarly work). Now whether or not he was God, or actually claimed to be God, is a different matter. :)

  • cgauthier

    I’m so happy I don’t live in the United States.

    How’s the secularist utopia you got there, A Swede? I’m so happy for you, in the most hatefully envious way.

    I’m heading back to school to pursue my science education degree and I can’t wait to properly teach evolution.

    Good luck Lauren, but if you’re talking public schools you have your work cut out for you. Christian parents are devoted to the destruction of enlightened society and school administrators are cowards.

    Christianity* has to be** the biggest obstacle to human progress ever invented.

    *As popularly practiced
    **And has to have been for one, and almost another, millennium.

  • cgauthier

    Jason, the evidence that Jesus existed is fairly solid, as much as most other historical figures from a few thousand years back (despite claims to the contrary in that really selective evidence based book that makes Chariots of the Gods? look like a scholarly work). Now whether or not he was God, or actually claimed to be God, is a different matter. :)

    Daniel, the evidence that some wandering kook named Jesus existing is one thing, but the the life story given to him in the gospels is certainly a fiction. A plagiarisation from older messiah mythology and paganism, shoehorned into fitting the discription of prophetic Hebrew mythology.

  • ScienceLover

    Wahoo! Regardless of what one believes, the current evidence offered for evolution in public schools is often outdated or discredited. The less emphasis the better. The truth is that people are tired of being lied to and aren’t as dumb as the “scientific” elite think. The scientific elite will continue to loose followers due to their ivory tower mindset. Rather than answer real questions, their tendency is to laugh off the “plebeians” concerns and/or mindlessly repeat the scientific method as if they have been studying some self help guru. “We’re on the side of science, we’re on the side of science, we’re on the side of science.” Sorry, but me saying that I’m a hotel doesn’t necessarily make it true! I love to read Discover’s articles, and am amazed that instead of the neatly packaged view as presented in the public schools to stifle discussion, the actual scientists that make up the scientific community have a hard time agreeing on the basics of cosmic/biological evolution. In fact, I have seen more evidence against evolution than for evolution in its pages (i.e. article on the age of Saturn’s rings). The evolutionary interpretation of the so-called missing links is a joke, see, “Bones of Contention” by Marvin L. Lubenow. Anyways, keep an open mind and don’t assume that the current scientific community has the edge on truth. It has been grossly wrong in the past.

  • C. Heller

    it’s sad to see some people still living in the dark ages. hostility is never the proper answer to a scientific theory, or hypothesis. much better to try to prove or disprove the theory using the best scientific method and evidence you can muster. quite frankly, evolution and religion are hardly mutually exclusive. if God created all things, which of us is to say he didn’t start out with single cell organisms and work his way up to dinosaurs and finally humans? every time I go to church the pastor says God works in mysterious ways. so, enjoy the mystery and learn what we can through science. who knows, maybe one day science will prove the existance of a higher (more advanced) being. will that be God? maybe :)

  • s

    Nathan the Teacher – fight the good fight buddy. you are correct…teachers are afraid of the hostility they will face from those living in darkness. Teachers are people too, and not everyone likes having drama and conflict in their lives.

    @number 7 – thank you for posting! i couldnt believe my eyes when someone said gravity was a theory! I dropped my coffee cup in suprise. I guess it only “theoretically” fell to the floor!

  • Paul

    Gravity is still a theory, but it is also a law. Scientific theories never become laws. The theory is much more robust, the law of gravity is just a basic general statement of fact. Evolution is both a scientific theory and a fact. As we can see it happening there have been plenty of experiments that have shown evolution to be true. Really if they added some laws of evolution maybe the general public would be more willing to accept it. As in general they aren’t educated well enough to understand the difference in how people use theory in an every day word and what a scientific theory is. People would have a harder time saying that they don’t believe in the laws of evolution.

  • sherry

    reading through the posts sounds like more like a prochoice conference rather then the scientific comments I would expect from a true “scientist”
    First off, many “Christians” have no problem, and in fact will acknowledge that evolution is fact. The disagreement is not on evolution as a whole, however, where life began. Science has no proof on how life began in the beginning. Science has faith in theory and hypothesis just as a Christians have faith in their own beliefs.
    I feel that everyone would benefit more fully if teachers did not try to force their personal ideas on where/ how that spark of life began. Rather, don’t you think it is more beneficial to discuss what happened AFTER that spark of life rather then wasting time and energy whining and complaining about a spark you can’t prove?

  • Gil


    I’m not sure why the comments here would surprise you. True scientists are people, too, and tend to get grumpy when people who don’t know what they’re talking about talk as though their opinion is of the same weight as an expert (like #34’s whining about ivory towers). Engineers can get even grumpier than scientists! In any case, there isn’t an expectation of civility like a priest might have, just the level of civility from any other random person. We’ll say hello to the greeter at Walmart without feeling obligated to take his opinions on science education seriously.

    Where life began, abiogenesis, isn’t normally dealt with a whole lot in high school biology curricula. We’re talking about evolution here, which is after ‘the spark of life’ occured. But, no, theories and hyptheses do not require faith. That’s the whole point of the empirical method, and to equate it with faith is to do a disservice to both ideas. One tests science with joy, testing one’s faith is supposed to be rather dour and involves a great deal more navel gazing. The results tend to be less practical as well.

  • Monique

    @ Jeff (#11). Based on your response, I feel I must refine my own original posting. Thank you. Firstly, I happen, as I mentioned before to believe in both gravity and evolution. For me, that evolution is a theory does not stop me from believing it. All that term means to me is that elements of evolution have not specifically been fully dealt with.

    @Geoffrey (#21). Perhaps you might want to say that a little differently. Evolution is still considered a scientific theory, not a scientific law. That I use the proper term for it is not a problem at all.

    In closing, the point to my post, which seems to have gotten lost, is that the way evolution is taught in schools is a key reason why it is not as accepted as it should be. Were it taught properly, I believe that there would be far fewer people who would argue against it.

  • ScienceLover

    I question the validity of evolution’s classification as a theory. I would love to see the “empirical” evidence used to support a hypothesis dealing with events that occurred on the scale of millions to billions of years ago, and also someone actually seriously try to discount alternative theories which take the same “evidence” into account.

    Every scientist, rather than being neutral and objective, is biased to some degree. Somebody like Louis Leakey does not randomly pick a spot on the globe, start digging a hole and see what turns up. He believed that there was a missing link based off his a priori adoption of the evolutionary model, and went out to prove what he “knew” to be true.

    “in July of 1959, paleontologist Louis Leakey found a bit of a skull bone and teeth in Nairobi, Kenya. He said, “We knelt together to examine this treasure… and cried with sheer joy. For years people had been telling us that we’d better stop looking, but I felt deep down that it had to be there. You must be patient about these things.”

    Stop giving us the impression that you are white gods in lab coats, you are biased human beings and must be able to be subjected to cross examination. Of course, it’s convenient to predefine anybody who holds a different theory as therefore not a scientist. Opposition stifled.

    “I had motive for not wanting the world to have a meaning; consequently assumed that it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption. The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem in pure metaphysics, he is also concerned to prove that there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do, or why his friends should not seize political power and govern in the way that they find most advantageous to themselves. … For myself, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation, sexual and political.” –Aldous Huxley, Ends and Means (London: Chatto & Windus, 1946), pp. 270, 273.”

    The whole ideal that this is a battle of faith vs. science is uneducated. Both sides have philisophical presuppositions before they even begin to look at the facts. These intellectual pre-commitments oftentimes cannot be subjected to scientific scrutiny and hence are religious in nature. The question is, “Who has the right bias?” Of course, most evolutionaists are dedicated to the a priori belief of naturalism, discounting the super-natural, yet, cannot defend foundational elements of their theory (the origin of life, the source of matter, etc.) with purely naturalistic assumptions. The same applies to myself as a creationist, but at least I admit it.

    Maybe the reason that evolutionary scientists are so grumpy is because they can’t answer basic questions, such as why we find polystrata fossils running through millions of years worth of geological layers? I love reading on both sides of this issue, and honestly think that the elitist scientists need their “ivory towers” to keep their theory going. Nobody likes having the comfort of the “known” questioned, but such should be the life of the scientist.

  • scribbler

    I understand evolution to the degree that all through school I averaged 96% on tests and was published in the llth grade…

    Evolution is far from proven is you look at things like fossils that cross layers that are supposed to be thousands of years each and like I said, Y’all think the first chicken came from a lizard/chicken thing…

    There is no evidence of such creatures.

    Like I said, evolution answers many questions but to me, not the most important ones. Evolution also doesn’t disprove a God that is bigger than Space/Time and more Powerful than all the energy/matter in the Universe.

    How sad that you think you do not have to address these things…

    No wonder you can not build confidence amongst your peers…

  • Daffy

    “Evolution also doesn’t disprove a God that is bigger than Space/Time and more Powerful than all the energy/matter in the Universe.”

    Nope, it doesn’t. Neither does it disprove that Grandpa Munster is alive and well and running a taco stand on Venus.

  • Rain Altaireotter

    I’m getting really tired of listening to ignorant people rehash the same b.s. arguments, so lets put a few to rest…

    Evolution is “just a theory”.
    …and the only people who say that are those who don’t understand what a scientific theory is. So, allow me…
    A theory is not a guess. It’s not a shot in the dark. No one is pulling wild ideas from nowhere. A theory is “the best possible explanation for a phenomenon, taking into account all relevant data” THAT is a theory. Evolution is a fact. We know it exists, we know it occurs. How, why & by what mechanisms does it occur, is the unanswered question.

    Evolution can’t disprove God.
    It is simply the explanation how how life evolves ONCE it exists.

    There is no evidence in the fossil record/no transitional species.
    This argument is pure b.s. There are literally millions of pieces of evidence in the form of archeological studies & reports that confirm evolution, plus dozens of transitional species.

    The debate over evolution is almost purely an American phenomenon. The scientific community the world over has accepted evolution as a scientific fact, while here in good ol’ Uh-mur-i-kuh we continue to drag our knuckles in the dirt & shake sticks at the moon.

    Reality doesn’t give a damn what you want to believe. It is what it is, whether you like it or not. It’s pure human arrogance that would suggest otherwise. Therefore, we must alter our beliefs to coincide with the laws of the natural world, instead of insisting that reality bend to accommodate our ignorant, primitive egos.

    Yes, that’s right. Nature is a dictatorship & we all must obey it’s laws. We have no other choice. (I challenge you to try to break the law of gravity. can’t do it.) Which, by the way, yes, gravity is both a theory & a law. The difference being that the LAW of gravity is “matter attracts matter”, while the theory is “WHY does matter attract matter?”

  • ihatrq baier

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