Scientific Truth 8/22/22

Science with Richard Bleil

Teaching an earth science course, one of my students asked if I would be including creationism as an alternative to evolution.  “Of course not” was my response.  When asked why not, my answer was simple; creationism does not follow the scientific method.  It’s not a matter of which is right and which is wrong, but faith does not teach critical thinking and questioning. 

Honestly, I’ve never understood why some critics are so aghast that Creationism is not taught in science classes but seem fine that evolution is not taught in churches.  If it’s truly a matter of alternative models, then it’s only fair that alternative beliefs be taught in churches as well. 

Okay, that aside, any competent science teacher should understand that, no, evolution has never been proven.  In fact, no scientific model has been proven, because it is impossible to prove any model true in science.  All we can do is teach some models fail.  There is no such thing as “scientific truth”.  So what do we teach?

Honestly, what we teach in science classes are simply the models that best fit all available evidence and observations.  Evolution best fits the fossil record, as well as the genetic similarities among all species.  That doesn’t make it correct, but it’s currently the most reasonable model we have.  Just like atomic theory fits all experimental evidence of chemistry. 

People who don’t understand science like to use this as proof that models are wrong.  They’ll claim evolution is wrong because it hasn’t been “proven”, and therefore creationism must be true.  Well, no, creationism doesn’t fit the experimental evidence at all, so by the same “litmus test”, creationism must be discounted as well.  Are we ready to do that?

No, I’m not.  I’m not ready to give up my faith in God, but I’m flexible enough to recognize that I don’t know the nature of God well enough to understand how evolution fits into God’s plan.  Maybe God set all of the physical laws into place at the Big Bang such that we are here today, or maybe the hand of God has been guiding our path all along.  I don’t know, and I’m fine not knowing. 

The funny thing about science is that people who don’t understand it can take enough from it to make a pithy meme to convince far too many other people that it’s false.  Recently I’ve read a meme about President Obama buying a piece of beachfront property with the caption “if ocean levels are really rising, why would he do that?”  The point of the meme is clearly that global warming and ocean levels rising must be a lie if the former president is willing to buy such a property.  Of course, what this meme is missing is a matter of timing.  To say ocean levels are rising doesn’t necessarily mean that they will rise so rapidly that Barack and his family won’t have time to enjoy their property.  Additionally, I don’t know anything about this property.  How high above the beach is it?  Is it built on sand, dirt, or rock?  All of this was left out of the meme, and yet far too many people are gullible enough to believe those who say that it’s proof that global warming is just a lie to steal government money on prevention and research.

The irony, of course, is that the nay-sayers are making money as well.  The idea that vaccinations are a myth has given rise to an entire industry of “alternative medicine”, a ninety-three-billion-dollar industry.  While anti-vaxxers are running around condemning big pharma (and rightly so as there is a lot of evidence of price gauging), they’re also spending a lot of money on “alternative” medicines with little or no proof of efficacy beyond anecdotal.  In the meantime, they’re conveniently overlooking the sudden new cases of polio and the fact that a vast majority of people hospitalized with Covid are unvaccinated. 

Maybe I should go the route of Dr. Oz.  I have my doctorate, so I could easily open a line of homeopathic products that at best do nothing for those who buy them (at worse actually cause harm) to make a boatload of money from the gullible.  Then maybe I could run for office, too, if I’m willing to run on the Republican ticket anyway.  But honestly, I just wish people would actually think about the things they’re seeing rather than blindly re-posting.  Soon I will be offering an online chemistry course for free.  I honestly don’t expect to finish it.  I’ll have some friends try to support me, and several with an honest desire to take the course, but eventually I expect them to lose interest or become too busy.  But with luck, maybe I can teach science to a few more people. 

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