Sarah Palin and Evolution

Apparently Sarah Palin, the ex-governor of Alaska, previous vice presidential candidate, and future presidential hopeful doesn’t believe in evolution. She thinks that creationism should be taught along side evolution in science classes. Here’s the thing about creationism for those of you who don’t follow it: it’s faith, not science. The strongest forms 0f creationists believe that evolution is false, basically because it doesn’t fit in with their world view which was indoctrinated into most of them in childhood. The weakest forms accept evolution by pulling the standard “god of the gaps” routine by stating that while god didn’t create us as we are, He create the initial forms of life and guided the process of evolution. How and why? Who knows, god works in sometimes mysterious ways.

Why isn’t creationism/intelligent design (which are the same thing) science? The key attribute here is that creationism isn’t falsifiable. There is no experiment that can be performed, ever, that would falsify creationism. Evolution, on the other hand, has made hundreds and hundreds of predictions that have all been tested and verified. Those with repeatable results that didn’t fit the current theory were used to change the current theory. This is impossible with creationism, hence creationism is not science.

I’ve gotten sidetracked, but thought it was important to at least get any readers who don’t know about the creationism debate the rough brief, which can easily be verified. The point of this post is Sarah Palin’s belief in creationism, not creationism.

It’s quite clear by Palin’s statements that she doesn’t understand the process of evolution. She says that she, “didn’t believe in the theory that human beings — thinking, loving beings — originated from fish that sprouted legs and crawled out of the sea” or from “monkeys who eventually swung down from the trees.” Well Sarah, neither do people who believe in evolution. The large changes are actually the result of millions of years of small incremental changes. This points out the fundamental problem, evolution literacy, and science literacy in general, is too poor in this country.

We need a public education system that does a better job of teaching science, or even more so of teaching critical thinking. A better system of expounding the value of reason and skepticism. That imbues our children with pride in the idea that their minds can be changed with scientific evidence. This is important because the more accurately we base our decisions on reality the more likely those decisions will be fruitful. This is as true at an individual level as it is at a public policy level.

This post is very rant-like, but I get going on these things.

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