The Fallacy in Teaching Macroevolution as Scientific Theory

2220 words 9 pages
The Fallacy in Teaching Macroevolution as Scientific Theory

March 21, 2011

A seemingly endless debate continues over the legitimacy of teaching evolutionary theory in classrooms, particularly in communities where religion plays a prominent role in community life. Some church leaders, teachers and school board members argue that alternate explanations provided by creationists or proponents of intelligent design should be taught alongside those of evolutionary theorists in science classrooms. People who are proponents of evolutionary theory are quick to offer a retort, usually suggesting that evolution is a proven fact; while denouncing the two aforementioned opposing views as belief systems which cannot be subjected to
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Furthermore, the survey reports that “about 70% of students who completed the voluntary survey identified evolution as an established scientific fact supported by overwhelming scientific evidence” (Gregory & Ellis, 2009, p. 794) rather than a theory or (as in the case of macroevolution), a hypothesis. It seems reasonable to conclude that this type of widespread, unequivocal acceptance of evolution results in the reluctance and, more often, the outright rejection of accepting alternative viewpoints to enter the arena of hypothetical debate. Supporters of creationism and intelligent design often make headlines by advocating for teaching alternate hypotheses alongside evolution. Their mantra is “teach the controversy.” Such an approach seems more rational and relevant today than the all-or-nothing approach debated in the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial. For over 150 years, most biological scientist accepted evolution (to include macroevolution) as valid scientific theory. Darwin first constructed the concept of a “tree of life” wherein all species were derived from one solitary life form called the Last Universal Common Ancestor, or LUCA (Lawton, 2009). Biological science was predominantly occupied with filling in the branches of Darwin’s tree using the fundamental mechanisms of macroevolution: genetic mutation, natural selection and speciation (Ayala, 1982). Biological scientists eagerly awaited