Science and creationism

Neil Jones Neil at
Sun Aug 22 18:01:00 EDT 1999

Some people argue that it is off topic to post about evolution here.
I would argue that how we educate our younger generation to be better
biologists ( and  of course this includes Lepidopterists) is very important.
I tire of the discussion and I endevour here to answer the points raised
before we move on to fresh topics.

To me evolution is a fact. It is demonstrably true and has been demonstrated
to be true. It is a fundamentally inherant part of being a good lepidopterist
that one has a good understanding of biology. The principles involved
in evolution are one of the corner stones of biology. Take these away and
the science falls apart. You cannot for example model population dynamics
without taking into account selection pressure, which is one of the ways
by which evolution takes place.

However it is not only the science of biology that is opposed by the 
charlatans of "Creation Science". Geology has to be wrong too because
it goes against the mythical story of Noah's Ark. This story may well
be based on actual happenings and indeed there is a parallel in Sumerian
mythology. It may also have some moral value as a religious story.
However it cannot be literally true since it goes against proven geological
facts. The story also contradicts proven science of biogeography and ecology.
You couldn't get all the animals on an ark and get them to survive. Then 
when they were released they wouldn't be found where they are today etc.etc.etc.

Also for "Creation Science" to be right modern physics would also be wrong.
These false scientists argue that rates of radioactive decay have not always
been constant. This is done to fit in with the time scales presented in their
particular holy book. We have seen another attack on the principles of 
physics when the "Solar Neutrino problem" was cited as an example of 
how modern science was wrong. It is yet another example of these
charlatans peddling ignorance. In fact there are several possible
explanations for the answer to this problem it is just that no one
yet has been able to find a good way of demonstrating a proof yet.
This is just a consequence of the way scientific theories develop.

This brings me onto the "evolution is only a theory" argument that
is often peddled. This is playing on the two meanings of the word in the
English language. It is again preying on the naivities of the ignorant.
Yes, a theory can mean a guess, but this is not what is meant by a scientific
theory. A scientific theory is not a guess but an explanation of how things
work. It may be incomplete , but that is the nature of science.
Gravity is only a theory in the same way. Sir Issac Newton developed the
first Theory of Gravity. It explained how celestial bodies moved and
why we remain stuck to the ground. In time tiny discrepancies were found with
his theory which were resolved by Albert Einstein. Issac Newton wasn't wrong, 
at least not completely so. His theory explains most of the phenomena correctly
it is just that a few hundred years later it was refined further.

We have heard that "Creation Scientists" don't get fair play. It was claimed
that students who supported these ideas were discriminated against. It is
hardly suprising!. Bad students usually are discriminated against. "Creation
Science" has been widely and clearly shown to be in complete contradiction
to proper scientific methodology.  Would a mathematics department favour
someone who argued that Pythogoras' Theorem was wrong? Of course not.

We have also heard a "Creation Science" myth that there is an absence of
intermediate forms in the fossil record. The fossil record is littered with
such forms. It is just another one of the myths that is part of the 
"Creation Science" creed.

We have heard that evolution is also not particularly well proven.
This is not true. There is ample proof. New species have formed
within living memory and plenty of examples are known where species
are in a state where they may split in the future. There is also
a solid mathematical system which describes this. Evolution is a
fundamental property of genetic systems.

This "Creation Science" IS surprisingly perhaps an almost exclusively
American phenomenon. On this side of the pond these "Religious Mentalfundalist"
ideas are  frequentlyseen as eccentric at best, and more often as the 
creed of cranks.

The most worrying thing about this whole thing is what it does to
freedom of speech. Freedom of speech depends, as I have said, on freedom
of thought. The Kansas Board of Education's decision isn't just against
the concept of "Darwinism" it is a blow against the whole of science.
In the modern technological age it is essential that citizens have a proper
understanding of science. The Kansas decision seeks to keep people ignorant.
We have seen statements here about a person being insignificant in comparison
to the deity they worship. It is much healthier for society to have citizens
who question what they are told. This is to me the essence of democracy.

Neil Jones- Neil at
"At some point I had to stand up and be counted. Who speaks for the
butterflies?" Andrew Lees - The quotation on his memorial at Crymlyn Bog
National Nature Reserve

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