Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Straight Talk in Ithaca

Kudos to the Museum of the Earth in Ithaca, New York, which minces no words when explaining evolution's scientific status to its visitors:

Is evolution 'just a theory'? A "theory" in science is a structure of related ideas that explains one or more natural phenomena and is supported by observations from the natural world; it is not something less than a "fact." Theories actually occupy the highest, not the lowest, rank among scientific ideas. ... Evolution is a "theory" in the same way that the idea that matter is made of atoms is a theory.

Is it true that there is lots of evidence against evolution? No. Essentially all available data and observations from the natural world support the hypothesis of evolution. No serious biologist or geologist today doubts whether evolution occurred.

Is evolution against religion? No. ... Science deals only with material reality; religion deals with the spiritual, the moral and the ethical.

These quotes, which appeared in today's New York Times, come from a pamphlet the museum has produced to help train docents and staff members to deal with increasingly strident creationist challenges.

Do Times news reporters read their paper's Science section? I hope so. If they would only remember these straightforward answers the next time they have to write an article dealing with Intelligent Design, we might be spared a mountain of drivel. To start with, Jodi Wilgoren's notion that, in contrast to an open-minded general public, mainstream scientists are dogmatists who "shun [Intelligent Design] as heresy".)