Evolution by natural selection is the amazing, vast, but surprisingly simple mechanism that explains the magnificent diversity of life on Earth. That’s why I love it. But through no fault of their own, so many people absorb misinformation about evolution in daily life, in and out of the classroom. I believe that evolution is a phenomenon which is only not accepted when it’s not understood. Even worse, many of us know it to be true, but don’t know enough about it to be able to defend it against someone who’s been wrongly taught about it.
That’s where this post will help. The good news is that most of the misunderstandings about evolution boil down to a handful of different objections which can be easily corrected with the right context. As you apply this advice in the real world, keep in mind that most people don’t choose to be misinformed. If you are polite and gracious in your explanation, it will go a long way.
One of the first things I did when I wanted to educate myself on atheism was read The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. Predictable, I know. I was a sophomore at the super-Christian, super-conservative Grove City College and all that I knew was that my professors hated Dawkins, so he must be doing something right. When I bought my own copy of The God Delusion, (the first book in my collection), I kept it hidden inside the cover of another, unsuspicious, book. I was still a closeted atheist at college, but more so to my Lutheran family at home.
I had bought Don Johanson’s Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind last fall, and my copy is a first edition that I had found at Cleveland’s coolest cat-inhabited bookstore, Loganberry Books. I then realized that not only was there a Lucy exhibit at the nearby Cleveland Museum of Natural History, but that the author of the book, who was also the original founder of the Lucy fossil, had been based out of that museum at the time. We also found out that it was closed for the day and we would have to come back another time.
Recently, I came across a post on my old church’s website that a few months back, they hosted a presentation by a creationist on “The Best Evidence Against Evolution.” You may know that a while ago, I wrote a series for this blog trying to discover the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s official stance on evolution. In the end, it seemed that they decisively hold to young earth creationism, although the church still has no definitive stance on whether evolution is actually true.
As I mentioned in last week’s post, I’ve been wrapping up another book, and this week I finally finished it! I read Kenneth Miller’s Only A Theory: Evolution and the Battle for America’s Soul, which arose from the 2006 court case Selman v. Cobb County School District.
This dispute began innocently, with textbook publisher Prentice Hall and a run-of-the-mill biology textbook. Frustratingly, but not surprisingly, the religious climate in Georgia at the time made teaching honest biology harder than it should be. The Cobb County School District included with every biology textbook a sticker:
Why Evolution is True absolutely blew me away. Barely at all did I have to linger on a sentence or paragraph, waiting for its full complexity was understood. Jerry Coyne laid out the evidence for evolution in an impressively comprehensible way.
Two weeks ago I found these two booklets from the Creation Research Society called Questions for Evolutionists and Questions for Creationists in my church’s mini apologetics library. (Click here and here to follow along in the booklets or read them on your own. This PDF has been shared with the permission of the Creation Research Society.) Read more →