Evolution Debate Is About Ideology
Evolution Debate Is About Ideology
April 05, 2005 - from
If the debate over evolutionary theory were about science, then it would play out in scientific journals, scientific conferences, and the other arenas where nature of science is discussed. The fact that scientists don't debate the fundamental status of evolutionary theory should tell us something.

J. David McDonald writes:
Although the creationist ideologues do much to cloud the issue, let us not forget the matter at hand: what topics should be taught in a science classroom. You, as a citizen, have every right to believe what you want to believe on the matter of human origins. However, this does not imply that your belief should receive equal time in a science class.
The importance of these points cannot be understated, I think. Misunderstandings about them abound in discussions about evolution and creationism.
The world of science is a meritocracy. Ideas must earn their way into science classrooms, and they do so through the accumulation of physical evidence. There is a mountain of such evidence to support evolution. There is not one scintilla of physical evidence to support creationism. If creationists want legitimate representation in the science curriculum, they should do the necessary work of finding evidence to support their arguments and presenting it to the scientific community for examination.
Creationists either don't want to do the hard work of science or they know that such work won't prove successful that's why they want to bypass scientific standards and take their case to the "court of public opinion." They know that they can achieve far more with sound bites and public debates than they can in research labs, experiments, and scientific journals.
One thing that continually surprises me as I read the letters from creationists that have been published in The Eagle is how, with little or no training in the sciences, people feel capable of just sitting down and puzzling it out. No one in their right mind would feel qualified to do brain surgery after having read a pamphlet or two on the topic. And no one would feel confident to hop into the pilot's seat of a jetliner after having just seen one as they step off a domestic flight.

Nevertheless, many people apparently feel fully qualified to hold forth on the intricacies of the science of evolution. It is not elitist to point out that some significant level of training in science is needed to render sound judgments on matters such as evolution.
This is an interesting feature of creationist complaints about evolution and not one that I see emphasized very often. It's not so puzzling, however, once we remember that creationists not only know little about science, but don't much care to learn more about science. Because they don't understand science, they don't realize the truth of what McDonald writes: forming sound judgments about evolution requires training and education in the life sciences. Evolutionary theory isn't brain surgery, but it's still complicated enough to warrant training and education.