I’ve spent my snow day perusing evolution resources. It’s a favorite past time.
When I plan evolution lessons, I always feel like my hands are tied. I have full rein to teach all about evolution and natural selection; in fact, I am required to by our state standards. What I can’t do is directly address the fallacies made by people who would discredit evolution.
In the battle to increase American scientific literacy, I feel at a distinct disadvantage. Kids can leave my classroom and be exposed to all sorts of very specific attacks on the ideas of evolutionary biology. In my room, I cannot tell them that X idea is wrong. I don’t have the luxury of being able to say, bluntly: “A creator/designer is an unnecessary hypothesis.” I can try to demonstrate it—I do try to demonstrate it—I try to build up evidence for them, but it is really difficult to coherently present evidence against an argument when you can’t articulate the argument you’re trying to knock down.
Parents, the media, ministers, friends, etc, all of these people can tell my students that evolution is wrong. That their biology teacher is wrong. That there isn’t enough evidence. That there’s no evidence. That we’re just guessing. Kids can (and should, of course) demand more evidence from me. Kids can tell me I’m wrong, they can tell me flat-out that the science is wrong, they can write on their exams that they don’t trust a word I say, and I have no real recourse, except to keep guiding them through the libraries of evidence we do have. If they choose to walk blindfolded, I can’t stop them.
And I don’t have the same right to skepticism; when a student writes, “I don’t actually think any of this is true because I believe the Bible,” I cannot reply with, “And where’s your objective evidence? Where are your quantitative studies? What is your testable hypothesis, and what experimentally obtained data supports the hypothesis? How has your hypothesis increased scientific understanding of the natural world? How reliably does your framework predict natural phenomena?”