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Biology can reasonably be taught without evolution (Talk.Origins)

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Response Article
This article (Biology can reasonably be taught without evolution (Talk.Origins)) is a response to a rebuttal of a creationist claim published by Talk.Origins Archive under the title Index to Creationist Claims.


Claim CA042:

Evolution does not need to be taught in science classes. The important parts of biology, such as how organisms function, how they are classified, and how they interact with one another, do not depend on evolution.

Source: No source given.


CreationWiki response:

(Talk.Origins quotes in blue)

Biology without evolution is natural history, not biology.

One wonders what the author means by this, as 'natural history' would refer to the 'history' of nature, i.e., evolution!

There is a great deal of important information in natural history that should be taught, but evolution is the unifying idea that ties it all together, allowing one not only to know the facts but to understand them and to know where the facts come from. Teaching biology without evolution would be like teaching chemistry without the periodic table of the elements.

Biology is simply the study of living organisms. It has very little philosophical baggage, aims to be based on observational evidence, and doesn't have to include much history. The theory of evolution and common descent is a naturalistic theory that all living biological creatures descended from a common ancestor. It is not biology, but a philosophical view one can have about biology.

Biology was done before the theory of evolution took hold of society by those who didn't accept the theory, and continues to be done by scientists who reject the theory of biological evolution. The fact that there are biologists understanding biology while not accepting the main tenets of biological evolution is evidence that you don't need evolution to make sense of the natural world.

This point just shows an overglorification of Darwin's theory which takes it as a fact rather than a belief. In fact, Dobzhansky position on this theory, his maxim that "evolution is the light to which all facts must come", and Talk Origins' statement about it being a "unifying idea that ties it all together" show that evolution is more of a philosophically naturalistic worldview. By advocating it as fact shows that it has lost its unfalsifiability status for these people and is no longer science, but more akin to a religious dogma.

The writer of this Talk Origins point shows his arrogance by making it seem as if evolution shows where the facts come from, when actually it is only a naturalistic version of where facts come from, based not on direct observation, but faith-based inferences about an unknowable past.

The comparison between biology, chemistry, evolution and the periodic table is unjust. The periodic table of chemistry is based on scientific experimentation and direct observation within human experience. Tests can be done now that can show the composition of the elements and their placement in an ordered table. Whereas the theory of biological evolution is based on an untestable faith point, naturalism, used to interpreted circumstantial evidence about a past which is beyond direct observation. The theory of evolution cannot be observed, but only inferred from that philosophical assumption or religious faith. The theory has many fundamental problems, lacks convincing mechanisms, and can never be properly verified because the vast majority of supposed events all happened in the unobserved and unobservable past.

To simplify that: the facts the periodic table holds are directly observable and testable; the theory of evolution is fundamentally unobservable and only has predictions that are testable but relies more on philosophically based inference than actual testing.


To quote an anonymous writer to TalkOrigins.org (June 15, 2003 feedback): Evolution matters because science matters, and too many people (including some presidents) are willing to believe that science is something you can pick and choose from, with "good" science being anything that supports your own views and "bad" science being anything that doesn't. Physicists are great guys because they say nothing to offend us, biologists are mad scientists leading us down the path to perdition with their genetic meddling, evolutionists are self-delusional fools, and anyone studying environmental science is a left-wing tree-hugging extremist whose sole goal is to destroy the American economy and lead us to one-world government. If scientists in a given discipline argue about any conclusion, whoever says what you want to hear is the right one. Too many people can't accept that although scientists are not perfect, and do make mistakes (sometimes whoppers), science isn't something you can pick through like a buffet, accepting only what is to your "taste" and designating the rest inedible. If people feel free to reject the science of evolution, they feel free to reject any science on no better grounds. Whether my students accept evolution may have little direct effect on my future. Whether they understand biology, ecology, environmental geology (water is a big issue in my community), and other subjects and can make informed decisions regarding scientific issues does matter. If they feel free to reject evolution as part of a "buffet" approach to science, their other choices will be no better informed.

The strong assumption that comes through in this passage is this:

"Evolution is science, and if you don't accept evolution you will be less informed since the rest of science will be pick and choose."

He also seems to be implying that whereas evolutionists are just plain honest and just go for whatever the "truth" has to offer, those who reject it are just finding what they like and picking it, and rejecting what they don't like. Both of these reasonings are inaccurate, dishonest, and just plain insulting.

Evolution is no more scientific than creation science. In both you make observations in the present, look at observations others have made, and then based on your own framework and foundational assumptions, and by testing the falsifiable parts of each model, you come to conclusions. This person's review of "the science of evolution" would seem to need assistance in determining the power of assumptions and philosophies amongst scientists and their endeavours.

Also, a significant amount of people reject evolution, not because they are rejecting science, but they see the holes in it and its religious and philosophical backbone and implications, and their own framework, most likely non-naturalistic in philosophy, is suitable enough to handle the observations and evidences in the world. They are rejecting evolution because they have been informed and they are making an informed choice to reject it.

Also, the way of science should not be to hold theories as fact. They are meant to be held as tentative, doubtful, not as all-explaining, all-encompassing fact. That is a religion, not a science. You can choose to know about evolution, but you don't have to accept it as absolute truth, which science cannot show anyway, especially when it comes to the distant eons evolution talks about. A fact is supposed to be an actual occurrence. But we don't know scientifically what actually happened in the distant past that no human has experienced. So evolution is, at best, a hypothesis, a guess, or at a stretch, that some people believe has enough evidence for it. But that doesn't make it "the actual events" which are beyond human knowledge. If there's one thing that is constant in science and in human life, it is change and the fact we don't know it all. It just takes one unknown factor to trip up a "scientific fact" for it to be disproved, and we have no idea about unknown factors in the past.

To conclude, I'll give two points:

1) because we don't know and we don't have all the evidence, it is a dangerous folly to hold onto a mighty extrapolation and overstretching of the facts, such as the theory of evolution, and call it fact. You have a choice. You don't have to be forced into holding it as true when it speaks of things beyond our observation. Science is supposed to be tentative and not dogmatic. This is one reason to be suspicious of the dogmatic nature of those who push the theory of evolution. Biology can be understood without the theory of evolution.

2) An informative quote from Jonathan Wells:

"Why did the 1995 standards have to be changed at all? The Committee’s proposal was a product of recent nationwide efforts by people who believe that Darwinian evolution is indispensable to biological science. A rallying cry for these efforts is Theodosius Dobzhansky’s famous maxim, “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.” But Dobzhansky was mistaken. There are entire areas of biology that have no need for evolutionary theory, and there is evidence that the most sweeping claims of Darwinism are wrong. More importantly, there can be no such thing as an indispensable theory in science. A true scientist would say that nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evidence." Jonathan Wells on the Kansas Origins Issue

The evidence doesn't unambiguously point to the theory of evolution, which is why there is dispute. Since it doesn't, it is unwise to put your eggs scientifically in one basket. You need other reasons, other than science, to make something factual in your life.


Resources:

  1. Is Evolution a "Fact" of Science?
  2. What is Science?
  3. Jonathan Wells on the Kansas Origins Issue
  4. Can creationists be scientists?


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