The Bias Toward Evolution

by Jeffrey W. Hamilton

An article appeared in the January 14, 2005, edition of the Omaha World-Herald announcing that a judge in Georgia has ordered the removal of a sticker from a school's biology textbooks. The sticker reads: "This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered."

I've puzzled over this statement to find what is objectionable and I just can't find one thing wrong with it. Evolution is properly called the Theory of Evolution. It is not a scientific law; it is unlikely to reach that status. As a theory, it means that many scientist think this is the way the world works and that they have some evidence to back up the claim. However, they can't prove it to be a hard fast rule. Personally, I think the evidence offered is very flimsy, but still it is widely accepted. It is also nice that the sticker encourages students to approach the subject of origins with an open mind. The evidence for or against evolution ought to be weighed carefully. After all, science is about learning and drawing conclusions based on evidences. The sticker also says evolution should be studied carefully. It is a school after all. Isn't this what students are to do in a school?

Ah, but the judge has declared that sticker is an unconstitutional endorsement of religion. Religion! Religion isn't mentioned! That doesn't matter, the judge says, "By denigrating evolution, the school board appears to be endorsing the well-known prevailing alternative theory, creationism or variations thereof, even though the sticker does not specifically reference any alternative theories." Read the sticker again and tell me where the sticker degrades the Theory of Evolution. It doesn't. Nor does it mention alternative theories. Instead, it encourages an open-minded, careful and critical study of evolution.

The judge in this case has committed a classic logical fallacy called the black-or-white fallacy. He assumes there are only two possible explanations of origins: evolution or creationism. Because evolution is being clearly (and correctly) marked as a theory, he assumes this is permitting the discussion of the only other available theory, creationism. The flaw is that creationism is not the only alternative. There is one gaining popularity called "Intelligent Design," but this theory is not based on any particular religion. It just notes that there is orderliness in the universe that cannot be explained by random occurrences. Creationism states that the universe came into being as presented in Genesis 1 of the Bible. It is not a single theory. There are three main branches: literal creationism, the day-age theory, and the gap-theory. But then neither is evolution a single theory. Its followers are divided into two main camps: uniformtarianism (the world has always been changing gradually) and catastrophism (the world changes in major spurts caused by catastrophes).

The reality is that the judge only believes in evolution, though I doubt he realizes there are multiple competing theories of evolution. He is closed-minded in regards to any possible alternative and has incorrectly decided that any alternative must be religious. Hence, he has forced the government's public schools to teach only his beliefs. Instead of promoting religious tolerance, the judge has ordered schools in his district to promote a single category of religious belief: those that accept evolution as a fact.

Why do I call the judge's position a religious belief? Because he cannot prove that evolution is a fact. The scientific community states that evolution is a theory. In this case they are wiser than this deluded judge. The lawsuit that brought this case to the judge's attention does classify evolution as a theory. It also contradicts the judge's conclusion that creationism is the only prevailing alternative theory. The suit claims there are thousands of other scientific theories. The reason the sticker was placed in the books are due to two thousand complaints to the school district that this particular textbook presented evolution as a fact, thereby not allowing the free discussion of any the thousands of alternative theories.

Tell me, who is limiting free speech in the public schools? Religious people or this judge?

"God takes His stand in His own congregation; He judges in the midst of the rulers. How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked?" (Psalms 82:1-2).