Speaking up for evolution

Several months ago, Miss USA pageant contestants were asked if evolution should be taught in schools.  I hope their responses weren’t genuine- and instead chosen in a misguided attempt avoid offending the judges- because the theory of evolution is not a matter of opinion.

Evolution is a sound, well supported, evidence-based scientific theory.  It should be taught in school as legitimately as the the theory of gravity.  While people are constantly ‘reminding’ the public that evolution is THEORY, as though that negates the science that supports it, we should remember that gravity is also a theory. Would it make any sense to teach children in schools ‘both sides of the story’ that gravity is a theory some people believe in, but others reject?

Don’t think so.  Just because a phenomenon is a scientific theory doesn’t make it baseless or open for wild interpretation.

Parents and religious organizations are welcome to teach ‘the other side of the story’ on evolution.  However, public schools have no business designing curricula on religious teachings.  If that were acceptable, we’d still be teaching students ‘both sides of the story’ on the nature of our universe (whether it’s geocentric as the Catholic Church claimed or heliocentric as Galileo proved).

When this montage of misguided beauty queens hit YouTube months ago, David Wescott voiced the frustration felt by many in the scientific community (and all educated citizens who support the separation of church and state) on his blog:

Let’s get something clear from the get-go here.  Evolution is real.  It’s sound science and it must be taught in public schools.  Myriad advances in health and science derive directly from evolutionary biology.  It’s not a secular alternative to the Bible.  You don’t “believe” in evolution any more than you “believe” in gravity.  If you’re reading this and you’re a person of a particular faith and you’re offended by this, I’m sorry – but you’re wrong. The sound science of evolution isn’t encroaching on your faith, your faith is encroaching on sound, provable, evidence-based science and when you try to take evolution out of classrooms you’re only making things worse.– David Wescott, “Beauty pageant contestants vs. science advocates: this isn’t helpful

So he and others made the effort to reach out to scientists to mount a response to the Miss USA contestants.  The result is a montage of scientists talking about what evolution is, why it is important and why it should be taught in schools.  I am one of those scientists.

You can watch my response in its entirety here:

The response is making the rounds on the internet, and hopefully making an impact on every person who wants public education to actually educate.  The video even made it to Jezebel:  Female Scientists Patiently Explain That, Yes Evolution is Real.

I think a large part of why teaching evolution is considered debatable right now is because religious groups are being very vocal about spreading their opinions and religious views.  What would happen if citizens (religious and not) who believed in the separation of church and state and accepted the verity of 150 years of active scientific research (Darwin’s Origin of Species was published in 1859) spoke up in favor of science-based curricula for science eduction?

If those citizens spoke up, I don’t think there would be much of a debate.

I will do my part to ensure that my daughter’s religious education is left to me, and not to her public school.  I will also do my part to ensure that all kids in public schools get the fact-based education they deserve, free from the influence of any religion.

If you agree- be sure to speak up in favor of science education.  Here are some tips to help.


Filed under Scientist

4 responses to “Speaking up for evolution

  1. “Theory” creates a world of confusion for those not used to using it in a scientific context. When speaking of the arts, for example, theory might refer to something that is not measurable. In science, however, theory serves as an explanation for a specific phenomenon and is accompanied by evidence (generated through the scientific method).

    Evolution, which can be simply defined as change in genes over time, is an actual observable phenomenon (read FACT). The theory comes into play when discussing how evolution happens – ie natural selection, punctuated equilibrium, and so forth. This is why I believe we need to stop using “theory” when it comes to evolution, the phenomenon. It is just creating too much confusion and in so many ways!

    Perhaps we should start referring to scientific theories we know to be true as “laws.” I mean, gravity is real (Newton’s Law of gravity), and so is evolution.

  2. Pingback: Let’s talk about evolution- still, again. | mommacommaphd

  3. ray984954

    I’m afraid you got it backwards and I know it is an oversight and editing error, you really do not mean it. In parentheses: (whether it’s heliocentric as the Catholic Church claimed or geocentric as Galileo proved).
    It is, of course, heliocentric and the Catholic Church thought the earth was the center, or Geocentric, it was actually Heliocentric that Galileo proved.
    There is a book out called Merchants of Doubt and it shows how the non-issue becomes a controversy by design, not by the showing of the facts of the issue. As in tobacco causing lung cancer, there is no reason to doubt that except that the tobacco companies CEOs said in a Congressional hearing in the ’60s that they did not believe smoking caused cancer, every one of them denied it. So, issues like Creationism vs Evolution, anti vaccinations vs autism, AGW vs the AGW deniers. The point of these conservative thinktanks is to blur the truth and create a controversy where there is none. And while we as a society have been distracted as a group over marriage , gay rights, abortion, unions, feminism, and all that the corporate world has taken over our Democracy. The Tea Party complains about gov’t in their face but say nothing about the overwhelming corporate tentacles into every human activity. They decide what we buy, how much it costs, who builds it, who gets employed, how mcuh they pay their workers, and then with a SCOTUS more corporate friendly than ever we are in trouble, and that is why we need women speaking out on things like Evolution and what kids get taught. Do we allow religion to teach us how to believe or do we get public education to teach us how to think, evaluate the facts and educate ourselves as adults about technology that is based on science. Becoming scientifically literate about science issues is important.Thank you for the counter to the Miss America beauties nonsense.

    • Amen. These manufactured controversies drive me mad! There is no genuine scientific debate over evolution, global climate change, vaccine safety, etc. However the news media must have a talking head to represent ‘both sides of the story’ even when it’s a one-sided, fact. This means the general public perceives a debate where there is a clear consensus.

      And thank you for catching my mistake!! I’ll change it. I wonder how many people read it and missed the switch or just didn’t let me know!

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