TODAY: Creationism yet to earn intellectual spurs

The HSS president Mark Kwan explains why there is no controversy and debate in the scientific world over whether evolution or creationism is true. Evolution is backed by evidence while creationism has yet to be proven true. Original letter submitted to the press:

Creationism yet to earn intellectual spurs

We refer to the letter “Creationism is still part of the evolution debate” (Sept 28) by Mr Luke Tan.

As concerned observers of scientific literacy and rational discourse in the public sphere, several members of the Humanist Society (Singapore) read with some alarm Mr Tan’s misleading claims about evolution, and creationism as its intellectual challenge in modern biology.

Evolution is the unifying theory of biology, so it was surprising to read Mr Tan’s assertion that Harvard Medical School’s Dr Mark Kirschner, a respected biologist, claimed that evolution only played a minor role in the last 100 years of biology.

As several creationist websites repeated the same assertion, we contacted Dr Kirschner for verification and to alert him of being taken out of context in an organised fashion.

As it turned out, Dr Kirschner’s quote, taken from an October 2005 Boston Globe article written by Peter Dizikes, was a lamentation that evolution has not been a more integral part of biology.

Additionally Dr Kirschner noted that “broadening the inquiry into evolution beyond natural history and population genetics only adds more evidence for evolution and explains more of the mechanistic transitions… We thought of that because the molecular, cellular and developmental insights very much increase our appreciation and confidence in evolution.”

Mr Tan’s letter also rehashes several misconceptions, common among detractors of evolution who believe in creationism.

There is no scientific debate over the validity of evolution, for the wealth of experimental and observational evidence in favour of evolution is astounding; the only objections to evolution are theological.

The theory of evolution accounts for the origins of species, not life, as he implied. To claim evolutionary biologists have been dogmatically rejecting creationism as a viable option is to suggest creationists have been putting forth viable evidence to no avail.

No, there is no international conspiracy, spanning two centuries, to cover these up. There just isn’t any evidence to speak of. The theory of evolution is part of an experimental science: biology. The experimental-historical boundary that he perceived is artificial.

Although inquisitiveness in science is a fine thing, uninformed questions about scientific matters in press forums do the public a great disservice.

Mr Tan stands a much better chance of getting his questions about evolution answered by approaching biologists in our universities. They could also inform him that even if the theory of evolution is overturned—however unlikely that may be—creationism will not become the default explanation for the origin of species.

It has to earn the title of intellectual challenger on its own evidential merits.

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