A seminar given to the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Louisville School of Medicine, Dec. 14, 2005 Revised and updated, March 2006 Thomas J. Wheeler, PhD Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTSSome slides (especially concerningintelligent design) are based on slides provided by: • Eugenie C. Scott, National Center for Science Education • Glenn Branch, National Center for Science Education • Chris Thompson, University of Washington • Karen Bartelt, Eureka College Some slides are based on overhead transparencies originally prepared with Frank Lovell.
"More on Creationists and Meteoritic Dust” Creation/Evolution Newsletter 7, No. 4, 14-15 (1987) In: Reviews of Creationist Books (L.R. Hughes, ed.), pp. 97-102. National Center for Science Education, 1992. Reprinted in Appleman, P. (ed.) Darwin (3rd ed.) (Norton Critical Editions), 2000 Reports of the National Center forScience Education 19(5), 17-19 (1999) Creation/Evolution 13(2), 25-35 (1993)
OUTLINE • Introduction – position statements, polls and news • Definitions – evolution, creationism; views of some religious groups • Creationism – young-Earth, old-Earth • The evidence for evolution • Creationist arguments • Creationism and the public schools • Intelligent design –positions, critiques; Dover trial • Conclusions – impact on teachers; political activities • Resources
INTRODUCTION: POSITION STATEMENTS Professional organizations in the biological sciences stand firmly behind teaching of evolution, and against teaching of “intelligent design.”
Letter to President Bush from Judith Bond, ASBMB President, Aug. 4, 2005: “Intelligent design" is not a theory in the scientific sense, nor is it a scientific alternative to the theory of evolution. The theory of evolution has survived rigorous scientific scrutiny ever since it was promulgated in the mid-19th century, and is now recognized as one of mankind's greatest intellectual achievements. By contrast, "intelligent design" is not science since it is based on a belief that is inherently untestable--that is, that some unknown intelligence created life on earth… The overwhelming majority of scientists, including many who are people of faith, strongly support teaching the theory of evolution as how life developed on earth. Injecting untestable explanations for this highly complex phenomenon into science classrooms only confuses the distinction between theology and science, to the detriment of both.
Board resolution on intelligent design, Oct. 2002: Recognizing that the "intelligent design theory" represents a challenge to the quality of science education, the Board of Directors of the AAAS unanimously adopts the following resolution: Whereas, ID proponents claim that contemporary evolutionary theory is incapable of explaining the origin of the diversity of living organisms; Whereas, to date, the ID movement has failed to offer credible scientific evidence to support their claim that ID undermines the current scientifically accepted theory of evolution; Whereas, the ID movement has not proposed a scientific means of testing its claims; Therefore Be It Resolved, that the lack of scientific warrant for so-called "intelligent design theory" makes it improper to include as a part of science education; Therefore Be Further It Resolved, that AAAS urges citizens across the nation to oppose the establishment of policies that would permit the teaching of "intelligent design theory" as a part of the science curricula of the public schools… http://www.aaas.org/news/releases/2002/1106id2.shtml
From “Position Statement: The Teaching of Evolution” (2003) Policy makers and administrators should not mandate policies requiring the teaching of "creation science" or related concepts, such as so-called "intelligent design," "abrupt appearance," and "arguments against evolution." Administrators also should support teachers against pressure to promote nonscientific views or to diminish or eliminate the study of evolution. This position statement reprinted courtesy of the National Science Teacher’s Association, Arlington, VA, http://www.nsta.org/position
Press release, Dec. 22, 2005 http://www.kyacademyofscience.org/news/intelligent-design-12-22-05.html
Polls and News • CBS poll reported Oct. 23, 2005: “51% of Americans say God created humans in their present form.” • Louisville Courier-Journal poll, Feb. 2000: among Kentuckians, biblical creationism was preferred to evolution by 63% to 23%. • October, 1999: Kentucky Education Department substitutes “change over time” for “evolution” in curriculum guidelines.
“STATE OF STATE SCIENCE STANDARDS” • Released by Thomas B. Fordham Institute, Dec. 2005 http://www.edexcellence.net/institute/publication/publication.cfm?id=352 • Concerning Kentucky’s standards: “The gravest lack is the absence of the word ‘evolution.’… We must conclude that the writers tried to get the needed content into the standards and, by omitting that politically fulminating E-word, to suggest to suspicious persons…that it isn't there. For this reason the grade could have been reduced to ‘F,’ but the effort elsewhere, including the actual content of evolutionary biology provided, is strong enough so that we allowed the score-determined grade ‘D’ to stand.”
Gallup Poll results (1982, 1993, 2004) show that Americans’ views on creationism and evolution have not changed in this period • 44 to 47% agreed with the statement that humans were created in their present form within the last 10,000 years • 35 to 38% agreed with evolution guided by God • 9 to 13% agreed with evolution without God
“Creationism Proponents Already in Classrooms” • A story in the Baltimore Sun by Arthur Hirsch (Nov. 27, 2005) documented sympathy for creationism and intelligent design among high school teachers. • Randy Moore (University of Minnesota): “There’s a consistent, a significant number of biology teachers in public schools who are creationists.” • More than 2/3 of Kentucky teachers support teaching creationism along with evolution. • In 5 states, nearly 20% of teachers do not accept evolution.
President Bush comments on intelligent design • According to a story in The Washington Post, by Peter Baker and Peter Slevin (Aug., 2005), President Bush told reporters “that he believes that intelligent design should be taught alongside evolution as competing theories.” • “Both sides ought to be properly taught…so that people can understand what the debate is about,” he said. But according to presidential science advisor John Marburger: “evolution is the cornerstone of modern biology…intelligent design is not a scientific concept”
EVOLUTION vs.EVOLUTION THEORY • Evolution, the diversification of life from earlier forms (common descent) is something that has happened beyond any reasonable doubt. • Evolution theory is the set of explanations (mutations, natural selection, geographic isolation, etc.) for how this diversity has come about. It is well-established, but fine points are debated.
EVOLUTION IS NOTANTI-RELIGIOUS View of some religious groups
Some religious groups that have taken positions defending the teaching of evolution and/or attacking inclusion of creationism or intelligent design (from NCSE web site): American Jewish Congress Central Conference Of American Rabbis General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) The General Convention Of The Episcopal Church Roman Catholic Church
Today, almost half a century after the publication of the Encyclical, fresh knowledge has led to the recognition that evolution is more than a hypothesis. It is indeed remarkable that this theory has been progressively accepted by researchers, following a series of discoveries in various fields of knowledge. The convergence, neither sought nor fabricated, of the results of work that was conducted independently is in itself a significant argument in favour of this theory. Pope John Paul II Message to Pontifical Academy of Sciences (1996)
Intelligent design rejected byleading Vatican astronomer According to an Associated Press story (Nov. 18, 2005), Rev. George Coyne, director of the Vatican Observatory, said that “’intelligent design’ isn’t science and doesn’t belong in science classrooms.”
Francis Collins, director of the Human Genome Project, and an evangelical Christian, said: “From my perspective as a scientist working on the genome, the evidence in favor of evolution is overwhelming.” www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/2003/PSCF9-03Collins.pdf
Creationists (and intelligent design advocates) attack evolution for its “materialism” or “naturalism.” This attack is inappropriate. Science relies on methodological materialism: when doing science, only naturalistic explanations are considered. There is also philosophical materialism: rejection of the existence of the supernatural. But evolution (like other areas of science) takes no position for or against the supernatural.
CREATIONISM • Young-Earth • Old-Earth
Young-Earth Creationism • A leading organization promoting young-Earth creationism has been the Institute for Creation Research in California. http://www.icr.org/ • Henry Morris, former president of the ICR, wrote the creationist textbook, Scientific Creationism.
Young-Earth Creationism • More recently, Answers in Genesis, based in northern Kentucky, has become prominent in the young-Earth creationist movement. http://www.answersingenesis.org/ • This group is led by Ken Ham. • Answers in Genesis is currently building a Creation Museum, scheduled to open in 2007.
“SCIENTIFIC” CREATIONISM MODEL • Sudden creation of universe, Earth, and living things a few thousand years ago. • Changes only with major “kinds” of life (microevolution); no evolution from one “kind” to another (macroevolution). • Humans are a distinct “kind,” unrelated to any other animal. • A worldwide flood created most of Earth’s geological strata and fossils. These points are not based on scientific evidence, but on religious faith in the literal truth of Genesis.
The major claims of young-earth creationism have been disproved • The Earth and universe are billions of years old, not a few thousand years old. Evidence comes from geological features, radiodating of rocks, and distant astronomical objects. • There has not been a worldwide flood that created most of the fossil record. It cannot explain the order of the fossil record, and many features could not have formed under flood conditions or in only a few years. • All forms of life did not appear suddenly at about the same time. They appeared at many different times over billions of years. • Humans are not a distinct “kind” of life. We are closely related to apes.
Old-Earth Creationism One leading old-Earth creationist is Dr. Hugh Ross, of the Reasons To Believe ministry http://www.reasons.org/
OLD-EARTH CREATIONISM • Accepts the scientific evidence that Earth and universe are billions of years old. • Rejects the idea of common descent. • However, if common descent is not true, there must have been thousands of creation events spread over billions of years in a pattern that looks like evolution.
THE EVIDENCE FOR EVOLUTION (COMMON DESCENT, MACROEVOLUTION) (Among nearly all experts in the biological sciences, there is no doubt that evolution has occurred.)
SOME CATEGORIES OF EVIDENCE THAT EVOLUTION HAS OCCURRED • The hierarchy of living things – comparative anatomy, DNA sequences, etc. • The fossil record – gradual appearance of living things over billions of years, including intermediate (transitional) forms • Biogeography – the distribution of living and fossil plants and animals • Vestigial features – useless or altered features reflecting evolutionary history. • Embryology – stages of development reflect evolutionary history. • Creationism cannot explain these observations.
Evolutionary Developmental Biology (“Evo-Devo”) “Evo-Devo can trace the modifications of structures through vast periods of evolutionary time – to see how fish fins were modified into limbs in terrestrial vertebrates, how successive rounds of innovation and modification crafted mouthparts, poison claws, swimming and feeding appendages, gills, and wings from a simple tube-like walking leg, and how many kinds of eyes have been constructed beginning with a collection of photosensitive cells.” --Sean B. Carroll, Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo
Evolutionary Developmental Biology (“Evo-Devo”) “…all complex animals…share a common ‘toolkit’ of ‘master’ genes that govern the formation and patterning of their bodies and body parts…The discovery of the ancient genetic toolkit is irrefutable evidence of the descent and modification of animals, including humans, from common ancestors.” Sean Carroll
EXAMPLE – HUMAN EVOLUTION PHYLOGENY: comparative features show that humans are closely related to the great apes, and, among the great apes, most closely related to the chimpanzees. In 2005, the sequence of the chimpanzee genome was reported. “The papers confirm the astonishing molecular similarities between ourselves and chimpanzees. The average protein differs by only two amino acids, and 29% of proteins are identical…The total genetic difference between humans and chimps, in terms of number of bases, sums to about 4% of the genome.” Science 309, 1468-9 (2005)
HUMAN EVOLUTION: FOSSIL RECORD The fossil record documents an abundance of forms that, over millions of years, gradually change from more ape-like to more human-like. See, for example, the chart found in Nature422, 849-857 (24 April 2003). BIOGEOGRAPHY:As Darwin predicted, these fossils are found in Africa, near our closest relatives, the great apes.
HUMAN EVOLUTION - EVIDENCE FROM: • EMBRYOLOGY • The embryo has a notochord, which later disappears • Pharyngeal pouches, similar to gill pouches, develop • Three separate sets of kidneys develop • The eyes form at the side of the head, then shift to the front • A tail develops, then regresses • VESTIGIAL FEATURES • Muscles to move our tails • Appendix
Creationism is notsupported by evidence • For the most part, creationists do not attempt to present positive evidence for creationism. • Mostly they present negative arguments, attacking evolution • The only positive argument is that living things appear to be well-designed. (Discussed later with intelligent design)
Popular creationist arguments have been refuted by experts • No transitional forms • Gaps in the fossil record • Second Law of Thermodynamics • Probability arguments • Humans and dinosaurs living together • Out of sequence geological strata • Dust on the moon • Decline in Earth’s magnetic field • Salt in the ocean • Evolution is in chaos
Scientists have considered the hypotheses proposed by creation science and have rejected them because of a lack of evidence. Furthermore, the claims of creation science do not refer to natural causes and cannot be subject to meaningful tests, so they do not qualify as scientific hypotheses. National Academy of Sciences, 1999
Creationism vs. evolution: a religious and social controversy, not a scientific controversy • There is no significant doubt within the scientific community that evolution has occurred. • Creationists take their case to the general public, not the scientific community • Creationism is promoted largely by religious organizations • Creationist materials are filled with religious arguments and Biblical references.
CREATIONISM ANDTHE PUBLIC SCHOOLS • Arkansas and Louisiana cases • Kansas standards • Georgia stickers • Santorum amendment • Academic freedom (Intelligent design, Dover later)
The First Amendment (1791): …Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercisethereof … • The Lemon Test (1971): • the government’s action must have a secular purpose; • the primary effect of the government’s action must neither promote nor inhibit religion; and • the government’s action must not excessively entangle it with religion
1. Banning evolution Antievolution laws 1919-1927 1968 - Epperson vs Arkansas - invalidated Arkansas statute that prohibited teaching of evolution.
2. Seeking “equal time” “Creation science” 1961-1987
Judge Overton in McLean v. Arkansas (1982): … the evidence is overwhelming that both the purpose and effect of Act 590 is the advancement of religion in the public schools. Ruled that creation “science” is not science.