Saturday, November 8, 2014

Common Creationist Complaint: Why is a fundamentally religious idea taught in science classes?

Common Complaint: Why is a fundamentally religious idea, a dogmatic belief system that fails to explain the evidence, taught in science classes? Karl Popper, famous philosopher of science, said “Darwinism is not a testable scientific theory, but a metaphysical [religious] research programme ….” Michael Ruse, evolutionist science philosopher admitted, “Evolution is a religion. This was true of evolution in the beginning, and it is true of evolution still today.” If “you can’t teach religion in science classes”, why is evolution taught? [1]

Logical Fallacies:
  • Straw man fallacy: Claiming that evolution is a fundamentally religious idea and thus dismissing it as something that should be taught in a science classroom.
  • Complex question fallacy: The initial question is a complex question that includes as an assumption that evolution is a fundamentally religious idea. This is completely unfounded, but presenting it this way automatically presents that as a "fact" for those who are unaware.

Answer: The simple answer to this question is that it's taught because evolution isn't religion. Evolution explains how the diversity of life on earth has come to be and is supported by genetics, anatomy, biogeography, chemistry, physics, and the fossil record. You can accept evolution without rejecting your religious beliefs because evolution is a scientific concept. It doesn't need supernatural explanations; it doesn't follow established doctrine; it doesn't subscribe to dogma; it doesn't require faith; it says nothing about morality or life after death. Claiming that it’s a religion is just – absurd. It fails every single qualification to be a religion.

As for the quotes used in this argument:

1) Popper later retracted his statement about the testability of natural selection: "I have changed my mind about the testability and logical status of the theory of natural selection; and I am glad to have an opportunity to make a recantation.” 

2) The quote from Ruse has been taken out of context in order to manipulate the reader. It originally came from an article in the National Post called, “How Evolution Became a Religion.” Near the end of the article, it says: "There is no need to make a religion of evolution. On its own merits, evolution as science is just that -- good, tough, forward-looking science which should be taught as a matter of course to all children, regardless of creed. But, let us be tolerant. If people want to make a religion of evolution, that is their business." He also goes on and says, "The important point is that we should recognize when people are going beyond the strict science, moving into moral and social claims, thinking of their theory as an all-embracing world picture." – As in, remember that there is a difference between science and philosophy based on science. One is not synonymous with the other. In Science Magazine, Ruse also says, “Today's professional evolutionism is no more a secular religion than is industrial chemistry.” 

So while some people "make a religion" out of evolution, that doesn't mean that evolution is a religious concept. Some people "make a religion" out of football, or hunting, or following the teachings of Ayn Rand or Thomas Hobbes. That doesn't mean that those things are, inherently, religious. And the reason is should be taught in a science classroom is because it is science. The idea that the earth was created by an intelligent designer, however, is not. 

[1] 15 Questions for Evolutionists. Evolution: the naturalistic origin of life and its diversity (The General Theory of Evolution, as defined by the prominent past evolutionist Kerkut; see introduction to Origin of life.) by Don Batten

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