Author Topic: How to Slam Dunk Creationists on Evolution  (Read 10 times)

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How to Slam Dunk Creationists on Evolution
« on: August 06, 2017, 11:22:11 AM »
Paul Braterman
RealClearScience
August 3, 2017

Quote
The 2001 discovery of the seven million-year-old Sahelanthropus, the first known upright ape-like creatures, was yet more proof of humanity’s place among the great apes. And yet Mike Pence, then a representative and now US vice president, argues for the opposite conclusion.

For him, our ideas about our ancestors have changed, proving once more that evolution was a theory, and therefore we should be free to teach other theories alongside evolution in our classrooms.

How to respond? The usual answer is that we should teach students the meaning of the word “theory” as used in science – that is, a hypothesis (or idea) that has stood up to repeated testing. Pence’s argument will then be exposed to be what philosophers call an equivocation – an argument that only seems to make sense because the same word is being used in two different senses.

Just words

Evolution, Pence argues, is a theory, theories are uncertain, therefore evolution is uncertain. But evolution is a theory only in the scientific sense of the word. And in the words of the National Academy of Sciences, “The formal scientific definition of theory is quite different from the everyday meaning of the word. It refers to a comprehensive explanation of some aspect of nature that is supported by a vast body of evidence.” Attaching this label to evolution is an indicator of strength, not weakness.

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