Evolution: change that don’t need no “belief”

I’m on an email list where people have been tossing around the notion of Evolution as “change we can believe in.”

I’m reminded of a brochure put out by the National Council of Churches in 2006 on “Science, Religion, and the Teaching of Evolution in Public School Science Classes.” Here’s what it has to say about the nature of science:

What is science?
Science is the study of the material, processes, and forces of the natural world. Science is not about belief; it is about how things work. One cannot “believe” in science or “believe” in evolution. Science is about the exploration of natural causes to explain natural phenomena. Science is empirical, which means that questions of truth are established through experimenting and testing. There are no absolutes in science; all issues are open to retesting and reconsideration.

(emphasis added)

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3 Comments

  1. Sharon Sparlin
    Posted February 5, 2009 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    I’m the one who tossed out the idea of the phrase that would go under a Darwin Tshirt printed in Obama style. “Change we can believe in”. It was meant as a joke – I totally agree that one of scientist’s big problems is that we, ourselves, use the word ‘belief’ when we talk about evolution. How we use English/every day language to describe what we do is powerful stuff – because the every day language is the only thing the majority of people ever hear about science. I’m overjoyed that the Council of Churches made that statement – way to go mainstream religion! Now if they’d just be more vocal about it. And if scientists could come up with an inspiring way of talking about it – just as inspiring as Obama’s phrase, but more accurate. Hmmm… “Change that’s incremental!” Just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

  2. Posted February 5, 2009 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    I suppose “change that punctuates the equilibrium” won’t do it either.

  3. Posted March 6, 2009 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    I always tell people, including students, that believing in evolution is like believing in gravity, because disbelieving in either doesn’t mean that you’ve changed the facts. It just means that while gravity and evolution are facts, you happen not to believe in them.”

    This can be helpful because it gets kids to see the difference between “x occured” and “I believe that x occurred.” One can, for instance, be misinformed about fact x and therefore believe -x, but believing -x doesn’t change the fact of x.


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