Thursday, August 25, 2011

Why Kirby pushes evolution

Paula Kirby writes in the Wash. Post:
In the real world, facts are stubborn beasts. ... Evolution is a simple fact. We can choose to remain ignorant of it, we can stick our fingers in our ears and refuse to think about it, we can even rail against it and shout and scream that it is not allowed to be true. But facts are facts, and will not go away just because we don't like them.
If it is such a simple fact, then she ought to be able to state what it is in the column. She does not. Definitions of evolution vary widely. Sometimes it is defined as change in the history of the universe.
In everyday English, 'theory' can mean something vague, a hunch, a guess. In scientific English, it is almost as far from that meaning as it's possible to get: in science, a theory is the best explanation for a set of facts. It carries real weight: in science, nothing can be called a 'theory' until it is very well established indeed. Science has its own term for what, in a non-scientific context, the rest of us might call a 'theory': the scientific term for a suggestion, a best guess, something that seems plausible but has not yet been shown to be reliably true, is 'hypothesis'. You will never, ever hear a scientist talk about 'the hypothesis of evolution', for the simple reason that evolution is long past that stage.
This is nonsense. Scientists use the word "theory" in the ordinary dictionary meaning. Theories like string theory are not established at all, except as an academic subject for study.

You do not hear about 'the hypothesis of evolution' because evolution has many hypotheses. Some of them are firmly established, and some not.
... to attempt to co-opt evolution as part of a divine plan simply does not work, and suggests a highly superficial understanding of the subject. ...

Evolution poses a further threat to Christianity, though, a threat that goes to the very heart of Christian teaching. ...

Christianity is like a big, chunky sweater. It may feel cozy, it may keep you warm, but just let one stitch be dropped and the whole thing unravels before your very eyes. Evolution is that stitch. Evolution destroys the loving creator on which the whole of Christianity depends.
Now we get to the real reason she is so eager to teach evolution exclusively in the schools. She believes that it will destroy Christianity.

I also have a related criticism of an opinion article by Richard Dawkins in the same newspaper.

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