History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

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Darwinian wishful thinking

March 28th, 2008 · No Comments

Are evolutionists only wishful thinkers?
Charles Darwin’s 1859 treatise, The Origin of Species by means of natural selection, is arguably the most controversial topic among educators, scientists, theologians, philosophers and those who study religion.
Strong views still rage on both sides of the argument.
In science, a theory is a rigorously tested statement of general principles that explains observable and recorded aspects of the world. A scientific theory therefore describes a higher level of understanding that ties facts together. It stands until proven wrong – it is never proven correct.
The Darwinian theory of evolution has withstood the test of time and thousands of scientific experiments. Nothing has disproved it since Darwin first proposed it more than 150 years ago. Indeed many scientific advances, in a range of scientific disciplines including physics, geology, chemistry and molecular biology, have supported, refined and expanded evolutionary theory far beyond anything Darwin could have imagined.
The debate continues on whether or not evolution should be taught in all school science classes. As far as I am concerned the answer is absolutely yes. What is there to lose? Closing the door on rational thought is one of the worse things that can happen in any school no matter what the denomination. Evolution is currently on the curriculum for biology classes taught in most of our Newfoundland schools, with the exception of some, which are denominational.
Theory not fact
In Florida the department of Education held its final public hearing on proposed new science standards that, among other things would restore the teaching of evolution in biology class. They took a vote and it passed. There is a proviso though, the documents must state “the theory” of evolution and it is to be pointed out at the very beginning evolution is just a theory and not a fact.
I strongly disagree with that.
Back in my day in our Roman Catholic school, all the discussion was only focused on “intelligent design” (God), a belief I was brought up with that a higher power must have been involved in creating the universe.
A balance
It seems to me that the recent Florida ruling is a weak attempt at balance – asking questions no matter which side of the fence one is on. Living in the Bible belt of the U.S., although I disagree, I understand their stance. Obviously it is extremely difficult for religious fundamentalists to let go completely, open their minds and challenge even their own beliefs about God and creation.
Religious schools make up a greater portion of the Florida school system. Anti-evolution proponents call the Florida ruling a step forward while evolutionists say the recent decision is a good example of cowardice.
In Canada the same can hold true for Alberta.
Both sentiments hold true for all thinkers. They are a living example of how difficult this subject is to talk about, write about and teach.
Hand in hand
Some say Darwinism and creation can work hand in hand. Many think even if Darwin is proven correct and not just a scientific theory, they suggest the idea of a super intelligence (God) playing the pivotal role in it makes sense. These thinkers ask simple but poignant questions, like who lit the spark that provided energy for the big bang to occur? And, the perpetual question for scientists is which came first the chick or the egg? “God to me,” one person said, “is everything that has good orderly direction whether plant, animal or human.”
A letter to the editor recently was headed Theory lacks facts. The writer asks why Darwinism is presented as an untouchable scientific fact?
He insists we must ask is Darwinism proven? The answer is no he says. He contends that Darwinism, creationism and intelligent design are beliefs about the unrepeatable past; and says none of them are directly tested.
Darwinists dismiss these arguments as unscientific, ignoring the fact that Darwinism is also based on faith – faith in unprovable presuppositions like the material world is all there is. Many observable phenomena are inconsistent with Darwinist theory, the writer of the letter to the editor said.
Further educated views
Despite contrary claims, many highly educated scientists like Philip Skell of the National Academy of Sciences reject Darwinism.
Dr. Skell wrote that the Darwinian evolution does not provide a fruitful solution in experimental biology. He contends the claim it is the cornerstone of modern experimental biology will always be met with quiet scepticism from a growing number of scientists.
Renowned scientist disagrees
On the other hand, Sir Harold Kroto, professor of Chemistry at Florida State University, says the Darwinian theory is as fundamental to biology as Mendelee’s (the properties of atoms) Periodic Table Theory is to the chemical sciences.
He points out evolution explained perfectly Darwin’s exhaustively meticulous, carefully documented, painstakingly detailed and accurately recorded observations. He writes not only were Darwin’s original observations explained, but also every pertinent observation made since has fitted perfectly. The professor said, for the last 150 years, supporting evidence has flooded in from every branch of the sciences: paleontology, anthropology, physics, chemistry, biology, medicine and geology. There are millions of pieces of the jigsaw puzzle and they all fit perfectly he claims.
Creation or evolution?
So the Darwinian evolution debate will no doubt go on. From my viewpoint I am keeping an open mind and support the study of both sides. I am leaning towards evolution for now, but I am also going to say – for now I believe in a created evolution?
Is this a cop out?
What do you think?

Bill Westcott writes from his winter home in Florida.

Tags: Evolution

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