The Oberlin Review
<< Front page News May 4, 2007

Evolution and Creationism
Evolution vs. Creationism: Dr. Eugenie Scott explained common misconceptions about evolution.

Oberlin students were treated to a revelation sure to shock scientists and creationists alike this past Tuesday. Dr. Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education, began her lecture with a surprising confession: “I do not believe in evolution&hellip;and none of your professors believe in evolution.”

The talk, titled “The Evolution of Creationism,” focused on the pitfalls of the supposed dichotomy between creationist and evolutionary theory, as well as debunking many common misunderstandings about the nature of evolution itself.

The “confession” above stands as a statement against the tricky terminology that many people use to define evolution. Scott clarified her remark by explaining that evolution is a theory, something much different from a belief. “Beliefs are opinions,” she elucidated, while theories “are inferential explanations based on empirical logic.” 

Not only is the theory of evolution often categorized incorrectly, but there is also a tendency in the United States to misrepresent even the core concepts defining it, Scott continued. It is entirely false to think of evolution as a ladder whereby humans “are somehow the pinnacle of creation.”

“Saying ‘man evolved from monkeys’ is like saying I evolved from my cousin Liz,” she said to illustrate her point.  

The misconceptions of evolution are so great in this country that there are virulent factions fighting against the theory, according to what Scott has seen from personal experience consulting in a 2005 lawsuit that upheld evolution education. While evolution is widely accepted in the vast majority of developed countries, the percentage of United States citizens who accept the theory is almost the lowest among the countries participating in a recent survey.

After demonstrating many misunderstandings of evolution, Scott proceeded to present a detailed history of the fight surrounding the theory. She traced the debate from the famous 1925 Scopes trial through the present in the form of Kitzmiller v. Dover (2005).

After John Scopes, a Tennessee teacher, lost his battle to teach evolution, the term virtually disappeared from textbooks nationwide within five years with no further legal decree.

Scott traced the origin of creation science to the 1961 publication of The Genesis Flood: The Biblical Record and Its Scientific Implications by Henry M. Morris and John C. Whitcomb. The book attempts to explain scientific phenomena with biblical events, namely the receding waters of the flood.

“You have a stark, dichotomous choice” between evolution and creation science as the only religious avenue, explained Scott. She presented a graphic showing evolution as the trunk of a tree with many insidious branches, including one for the “radical feminist movement” and another for abortion. According to such a depiction, if evolution is correct, all religious thought is wrong and therefore the world must descend into vice.

“We have no reason to behave well to one another without God looking over our shoulder,” she said.

This thinking, she contended, is completely erroneous. There exist many alternatives to creationism or intelligent design. As Scott put it, “Creation and evolution is not a dichotomy, it is a continuum.”

As an example, she offered that many of the opponents of “equal-time laws,” proposing to offer creationism a place in the classroom next to evolution, were none other than religious leaders of their community who “want to teach creation their own way.”

In closing, Scott bemoaned the state of science education in the United States: “We need more science literacy in this country, not less.”

She went on to question the current dependence on importing scientists from other countries, hypothesizing that there will soon be a “reverse brain drain,” due to the growing infrastructures across the world.

Creationism is going strong, Scott reported, with a $27 million museum dedicated to the cause on the verge of opening outside of Cincinnati. Without “an integrated approach” to teaching evolution, she feared that it could not win against the enormous monetary support of creation science.


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