Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Utter Silliness of the "Evolution Is Just a Theory" Argument

It's pretty well known that Rick Santorum is an ardent supporter of teaching creationism in schools. The argument that creationists like Santorum often use is that evolution is just a theory. And since it is just a theory, it's clearly utterly and completely fallible, and alternate theories like intelligent design are just as reasonable and should clearly be presented side by side.

In reality, of course, this is a massive misunderstanding of how science works. Let's review with the very basics of science: there are events or facts that occur. Then science attempts to explain why those things occur. That is called a theory.

If I pick up an apple and drop it on the ground, what fact just happened? The fact that happened is that I picked up an apple and dropped it on the ground. Gravity is the theory that explains why the apple to fell to the ground. Just because gravity is a theory, should we teach some faith based theory, something like angels constantly blow on the Earth to hold everything down to it?

Or should we stop distinctively teaching germ theory because it is just a theory, and also teach in our public schools that people may get sick because the humors have turned against them? The "it's just a theory" argument that creationists use to try to discredit evolution is utter silliness. And for the funniest moment in the history of laying the smack down on creationists, check number 7 on this Cracked.com list.


  1. I have an idea: Allow creationism to be taught, but only if every religion's creation story can also be taught. This includes all of the ancient religions too. Everything from Native Americans to Hindus to ancient Egyptians. They all have a story about how life began. All of them would have to be taught in the same class, as they are different theories on the same subject. I don't believe this would actually be productive, but it would he fun.

  2. I don't have a problem with that, as long as it's not a science class.

  3. Why not roll some dice to pick two or three to teach in science class at the beginning of a "history of science" section to learn when, how, and why empiricism and reason superseded primitive superstition.

  4. I've always thought that Creationism/Intelligent Design should be taught in middle and high schools. But its proponents would object to the way I think it should be taught.

    If I were designing a general science and/or life sciences curriculum for 6-12th graders, I'd include CID in units concentrating on both the history and structure of science.

    There are few better examples of why such result-driven research is not science, not part of the legitimate debate, and why They have had to cheat to get even one mention of their non-science in the peer reviewed scientific literature.

  5. Gravity is described in most books as a law/force. A better comparison would be atomic theory, maybe there aren't all those little ball things. Fire, air, earth and water anyone?

  6. If evolution is "just a theory" and shouldn't be taught, then religions are "just belief systems" and shouldn't be taught or used to make law.