Why Evolution is the Most Contested Theory OR A Tip on Teaching Science

By: Taylor Webb Religion is often said to be relied upon for the “why” whereas science can be trusted only with the “how.” This is true, but for a reason different than most people assume. First of all, the assumption is that somehow “why” is a more profound or important question, which is often not the case. Second, the answers that many religions and cults give to the “why” questions are assumed to be more satisfactory because they explore the question more instead of saying “there is no „why,‟ it just happens.” The mistake is thinking that talking about or considering a question more leads automatically to a more reliable answer, and that a more reliable answer is more correct. The problem with “why” is that it is ambiguous, and it secretly hides two questions. The first question, the one that comes to the mind of the scientist and draws him in is “what is the reason…?” This is firmly within the realm of science and is a perfectly reasonable question to ask. The problem is that “why” is also secretly asking “what is the purpose…?” This question is not really answerable in science, it is not a question of empirical facts or reasoning. What ends up happening is that a scientist gets himself dug into a hole by answering ”why” and gets cornered when the circumstances subtly change the quest from reason to purpose. An example: Why does the Earth rotate around the Sun? The scientist will explain the rotation of the planets, gravity, centrifugal force, maybe even some Einstein or quantum theory, but he will never answer (nor be able to answer) “what is the purpose of astronomical momentum?” So by asking “why” the Earth rotates around the Sun one is really setting science up for failure. Best to avoid “why” all together, and here‟s another reason to do so: “Why” totally screws up evolutionary theory. Imagine you are learning about evolution, you are a young mind just beginning to be moulded. When asking “why” you are not so stubbornly on science‟s side to ignore purpose in favour of reason, and this is disastrous for your understanding of evolution. “Why don‟t humans have hair like other apes?” “Because the ability to sweat allowed them to travel faster and farther in the hot savannah.” Good reason, terrible purpose.

You see, according evolutionary theory the reason all the hairy humans died was that they couldn‟t sweat as well. But now, according to the high school student who was told about this by his teacher, the purpose the apes had for somehow getting rid of their hair intentionally was to sweat better, which they somehow knew would give them an advantage on the savannah that they had not yet decided to move onto. What does that even mean? How does that make any sense? Isn‟t evolution stupid?! Don‟t worry, this is easily resolved. All we have to do is encourage teaching what the reason is for phenomena, and avoid using the tricky doubleedged sword of “why.” Then I‟m sure in no time generation after generation will think science and/or evolution is stupid for entirely different and less preventable reasons.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful