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Creationists blame evolution for poor US science showing

Writing in a guest column for dnj.com, a certain Ned Myers blames Charles Darwin for Americans’ poor scientific literacy.

…American public school students place 23rd in scientific literacy when compared to 34 other developed nations.

A strong case can be made that one reason for this poor showing is that we teach evolution as science. Webster’s dictionary defines science as, “Knowledge covering general truths or the operation of general laws, especially as obtained and tested through scientific method.” Macro evolution, whereby one species evolves into another, falls short of this definition. Evolution cannot be considered a general truth because it cannot be experimentally tested or proven by using scientific methods.

Hmm, chicken and egg problem here: is Myers’s scientific illiteracy due to his study of evolution, or are his conclusions about evolution due to his scientific illiteracy? He blames scientific illiteracy on the fact that evolution is taught as science, but then leaps straight from there into a laundry-list recital of standard creationist talking points about why evolution must be false. Not only does he fail to show any connection between evolution and the illiteracy level, he fails to even try.

I mean, suppose it were true, suppose evolutionists like Richard Dawkins were scientifically illiterate, and only “scientists” like Jonathan Wells (cited in the article) were scientifically literate. Myers is “up” on all the creationist literature. He’s done his homework. He ought to be scientifically literate by now. So shouldn’t he realize that his claim (evolution causes scientific illiteracy) needs to be supported by valid studies? Shouldn’t he be conducting (or at least citing) studies that compare students of creationism with students of evolution (plus a neutral control group of, say, physics students) to see which population scored higher on scientific literacy tests?

Myers, it seems, is living in a glass house. But more than that, he shoots down his own argument without knowing it.

Make no mistake the argument isn’t about natural selection or descent with modification. These processes are scientifically observable within individual species. The argument is whether these mechanisms brought about the vast diversity of plant and animal life, including humans, from a single living ancestor. Many think not.

Scientifically-literate people know that the same observations which allow us to confirm descent with modification within a species are also the kind of observation that allow us to confirm descent with modification from ancestor species. “Macro” evolution is not biologically different from “micro” evolution (except in a specialized technical sense of the term), it’s just descent with modification over a larger number of generations. There was a time when creationists would not admit that even micro evolution was true, but I guess they’ve given up on trying to deny those facts.

Nor will they be able to deny evolution between the species for much longer, since their own dogma claims that Noah’s ark contained only a representative number of “kinds,” from which all modern species are descended. In other words, different canine species—wolf, dog, dingo, jackal, etc—are all descended from a “dog-kind” ancestral pair. That’s descent with variation between species, just like Darwin said.

If creationists were scientifically literate even within their own arbitrarily-selected dogma, they would realize that the principles of Darwinism describe actual real-world processes that even a Global Flood can’t wash away. It is pointless and misleading, therefore, to try and blame Darwinism for scientific illiteracy. As Ned Myers demonstrates, that particular chicken has a creationist roost to call home.