Should Evolution Be Taught In Schools?

Sean and I had fun watching this li’l video the other day. It’s fifty-one Miss USA candidates weighing in on whether evolution should be taught in schools.

It’s a good question for categorizing candidates – those who know their minds, and those who don’t. Those who, like politicians, are trying desperately to say something that will offend the smallest number of their compatriots in a deeply divided nation – and those who are willing to just state their opinions, regardless of consequences.

The funny part is that this question is asked at all – and asked in all seriousness.

I love how many of them use the phrase “both sides of the story”. The use of the word story is significant in the first place, but then there’s the concept that in global terms there could possibly be only two sides. I’ll bet some of these girls think they’re being pretty forward-thinking by saying Yes, let’s hear both sides of the story! but they’re just highlighting their ignorance of The World Outside Bible-Thumpin’ Christianity.

[Although… I will admit that those were the only two sides that came up, the time we talked about evolution in my Grade 2 class last year. But those were seven-year-olds – they can be forgiven.]

I also love gems like “creationatism” and “You should be knowledged”. Clearly, as one Miss says, “We’re smarter than ever, these days.”

And Miss Kentucky takes the cake. She believes you can’t have too much knowledge – UNLESS it comes from too many different places. If not everyone is going to agree on it, it’s not a good topic for school. AT ALL. Critical thinking, multiple perspectives = big no-nos.

Sean likes to pick on the use of words like “belief” and “opinion” and “decision”, arguing that deciding not to believe in evolution is like deciding not to believe in gravity. (Some witty person has made the same point on YouTube by taking a few of the Misses and voicing over the word evolution with the word gravity.)

I disagree. Gravity can literally smack you in the face (I’m sure even some Miss USA delegates fell off their bikes as kids); evolution cannot. If only it could.

I would like to hear the commentary A.J. Jacobs (The Year of Living Biblically) would offer on this one. For his book, he visited dozens of people, including Creationist scientists, if you can get your head around that. Now that’s an interesting read.

The real irony here, to my mind, is that people who reject evolution believe in such a less-cool version of God. For me (and I only speak for myself here), evolution is basically the definition of God. I stopped personifying God in my mind long ago; instead, what could be more divine than this amazing planet, rising out of its own murk, generating and transforming itself over billions of years, seething with life and energy, countless species coexisting in unfathomable intricacy and a constant state of self-improvement?

Incredible. WAY cooler than God created Light and Dark, Poof! Guy, girl, snake, la la. Be fruitful – wait! Not THAT kind of fruit! Come on. Evolution kicks Eden’s ass, hands down, in a contest of pure awesomeness. Why shouldn’t that be God’s everlasting legacy?



9 thoughts on “Should Evolution Be Taught In Schools?

  1. Anon says:

    Are we talking teaching evolution as a theory or teaching evolution as a fact (how it is, kids)? – only one gal made that distinction. Or is it a perspective or a belief – or! – a religion?
    (or as one said, “an aspect”.) The girls seem a little confused about that, too. Then there’s “if they want to apply it to their life or not” – hmmmm. “The Biblists’ version???” “Keep their options open???” — is that like hedging your bets?
    The fence sitters are clearly the most uncomfortable – what with a picket up their xxx.
    Oh my goodness, what if God turns out to be an old man in a white beard after all?
    But for me the most compelling questions are:
    How many Brittanys in that group??
    And how’d they all get the same hair and teeth?????

  2. Krista says:

    Amen! (who said that??) Next time someone asks what I believe, I’m sending them to this post – cuz you said it as if you were reading my mind 🙂

  3. Mama says:

    Mine, too! I see God staring me in the face outside in the world that took close to 5 billion years to evolve to this condition – and the exciting part is, we’re not done yet! ESPECIALLY we’re not done with humans. You look at dragonfly fossils, you see they haven’t changed in 320 MILLION years! Whereas the oldest recognizable human fossil remains are only about 4 1/4 million years old, and they’re vastly different from today’s people. We’re a work in (what I hope is) progress. I hope we get better before we make God’s planet too much worse.

  4. berty says:

    I like your evolutionation rant. Way to write eloquentatively. … No, I mean it! Everyone should read this. Also – I’d like to know, what schools teach you how to talk while you have a toothy grin on? Wow. Most of the misses do it like pros!

  5. Barry Waldman says:

    Diana –

    I like your idea about evolution being a cooler version of God. And those pretty-faced girls offer a powerful case that, even after billions of years of creation, humans are still not that evolved.

  6. berty says:

    If good-looking people (who are naturally good-looking!) are more likely to get mates and reproduce, and also get ahead in life and be given good salaries and therefore be able to provide for children, then these girls may actually BE highly evolved. Natural selection would love them, if it all it took was good looks! And if good looks were all it took to get mated up, then good-looking people (who had to get fixed up because they weren’t all that good-looking naturally) would be favoured because they’re smart enough to get their plastic surgery on and their hair straightened … so that they can get mates and sex and salaries, etc. So these girls ARE models! Of, like, evolution!

  7. bd says:

    I agree with Miss New Mexico…that we should continue to enrich our schools with science. The problem is that the educational system has failed these young ladies: none of them knows the difference between a theory (a set of statements describing phenomena, derived through the scientific method, tested and proven by scientists in the field described by the statements) and a hypothesis (a similar set of statements, proposing a description of phenomena but not yet subjected to the same level of testing and proof as the corresponding theory would require). Whether or not this precisely defined distinction is taught, a basic understanding of the scientific method – and thus science itself – necessitates at least an instinctual understanding of the difference between the two. Macroeconomics, evolution, perspective, plate tectonics, aesthetics, geometry…germ theory, number theory, music theory, colour theory, cell theory, social theory, music theory…there is no branch of study (except, perhaps, religion) that is not based on or impacted by theories. If one rejects any individual theory without a legitimate theory to replace it, it constitutes a rejection of a thousand years of scientific method. Also, as a theory must be verifiable, it must also be falsifiable, or disproven, if new evidence or theories emerge. Religious belief can conform to neither of these requirements: neither provable nor disprovable, it is a hypothesis that can never become a theory. In fact, some believe that either verification or falsification of religious belief would disprove it, as God states in ‘his’ argument with Man: “I refuse to prove that I exist, for proof denies faith and without faith I am nothing.” Thanks, Douglas Adams!

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