Teach the controversy. Yes, I’m talking about evolution.
If I were to make a list of some of the most controversial topics in the United States, evolution would be toward the top. While I very clearly don’t have time to address all the objections to evolution, I want to address what I believe to be the most popular.
Evolution is just a theory. As soon as I hear this objection, I tend to fear where the conversation is heading. This idea shows that the person doesn’t understand how scientists use the term “theory.”
Theory, in everyday language, means a guess or opinion. This isn’t how it works in science. A theory in science is a very well-confirmed explanation. If we really had reason to doubt scientific theories because they were just theories, then we should be worried about floating into space; after all, gravity is also “just a theory.”
“If humans evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?” I once heard a very clever response to this question. This question is similar to asking, “If Americans came from the English, then why are there still English?” Humans came from monkeys in the same sense that Americans came from the English; we share our ancestors. Both groups split in the past from a common ancestor.
“Many scientists still doubt evolution.” This isn’t true. While there are scientists who openly object to or doubt evolution, there are far from many.
The truth is the overwhelming majority of all scientists accept evolution. In 2001, the Discovery institute launched a petition for scientists who openly express doubts about evolution; they have over 700 signatures. In response, the National Center for Science Education created a petition in 2003 for scientists who do accept evolution. It has more than 1,800 signatures.
“There are no transitional fossils.” This is often claimed to show that species don’t actually evolve because there are no “in-between” species.
In truth, we do have transitional fossils. A famous one is Archaeopteryx. Archaeopteryx has features of both reptiles and of modern birds.
However, this isn’t what people are thinking of when they object in this way. What they want to see is a half-crocodile, half-duck. Well, this isn’t how evolution works, and thinking that it does is a huge misunderstanding of evolution.
“The human eye is too complex to have evolved.” The above is an example of irreducible complexity. Another common example of this is the flagella of bacterium.
Regardless of these, the claim is still fallacious. To begin with, we do, in fact, understand how things like the eye evolved. There are even examples of these in nature. We can see varying degrees in complexity of organs for sensing light alive today.
In addition, the human eye isn’t even the best model out there. Many birds have better eyesight than humans, even seeing more colors. The octopus eye lacks the blind spot found in ours. In comparison to some other animals, the human eye is less complex.
“Evolution violates the second law of thermo dynamics.” While not a complete definition, the law esentially says that over time, entropy, disorder, in a closed system will increase. The reason some people claim this is an objection to evolution is by claiming the complexity of life today could not have evolved because it would violate this law. However, the earth is not a closed system, so energy is constantly added by our sun.
Whilet there are plenty of other objections to talk about, there simply isn’t enough time to discuss them all. The truth is that evolution is a well-developed, well-tested, and useful scientific theory. As the famous scientist Theodosius Dobzhansky said, “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.”