Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Handout (04/14/11)
TITLE: The Critical Thinker
By Gary Mitchem
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Without a word spoken, I could read the question in my daughter’s eyes. “Is this a true statement? And if it isn’t, why would they publish it in a science magazine?”
She needed an intelligent answer, not a religious platitude. If evolution was a fact, then the Bible and everything she had learned as a Christian would be brought into question. Her faith could possibly depend upon my answer.
After considerable thought, it occurred to me that her faith in God and the Bible was not the question. Rather it was the article writer’s faith in evolution. So I asked for a little time to research the subject, then we would look at the facts together.
That evening we sat in front of the computer and went over the results of my study. Our conversation went something like this:
“I want you to look up three words in the dictionary, sweetheart: Indisputable, science and fact.”
She quickly navigated to the dictionary icon on my desktop and began typing the terms in the “search” queue.
“Indisputable means: Beyond dispute or doubt … science is the observation, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of phenomena … and fact is something demonstrated to exist or known to have existed. I guess that means that it’s real.”
“Very good. Now, the person who wrote that article said that evolution is beyond dispute or doubt. Is this true?”
I received a blank stare.
“Well, are there scientists who don’t believe in evolution?”
Again with the stare.
“Let me show you something.”
Turning to the PC, I opened my internet browser and clicked on a saved web page in my ‘favorites’ folder. It was a site that promoted creation science. On the contributors page were the names of a number of registered scientists who wrote articles for the web site.
“These are real scientists who ‘doubt’ evolution and openly ‘dispute’ with other scientists who claim evolution to be anything other that an unproven theory.”
“I thought that evolution and creationism was just a battle between scientists and Christians, not other scientists.”
After looking at several similar web sites that promoted creationism and intelligent design, I asked her again.
“Now, is evolution indisputable, like the article claimed?”
“Apparently not. Some of the scientists from those creation sites went to pretty impressive schools.”
“As for the statement that evolution is a scientific fact, let’s look at that closely. Since evolution has never been observed, nor has any laboratory experiment ever successfully duplicated the process, as a science it is obviously theoretical.”
“Because it is a theory, it can’t be regarded as fact. Remember, a fact is something demonstrated to exist or known to have existed.”
“I see. So, evolution isn’t indisputable, and it isn’t a scientific fact. Then why do people like the guy in the article believe it so strongly?”
“Now you’re thinking! We believe in God, even though we can’t actually prove He exists through empirical means; that is, with our five senses. What’s that called?”
“I suppose you would call it faith.”
“Yep. And that’s just what the theory of evolution is: Faith in a process that has never been seen, that has left no evidence of its existence behind, and that cannot be duplicated in a lab.”
She thought for a few seconds, then said: “Then why do they call it science? It sounds more like a philosophy, or even religion.”
“I have an even better question. If evolution is considered science, they why is creationism or intelligent design called religion and excluded from scientific consideration? They all have the same goal, to explain the origin of the universe and life.”
It looked as if a bell had gone off in her head. There was no question in her eyes; only the satisfied look of someone who had just received an amazing revelation.
“Thanks daddy. That explains everything.”
We live in an age where science, politics, religion, and philosophy have no trouble making their voices heard. Information is abundant, everywhere and conflicting to say the least, not to mention often hostile. Our children need to learn how to become critical thinkers if their faith is to survive.
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