Letters to the Editor

No gaping holes in evolution

In response to Tara Baudoin’s letter (“IndBox: The holes in evolution theory,” July 2) regarding teaching about holes in the theory of evolution, I support this idea but I can’t figure out how that would work. That is not because of a conspiracy, but rather because the gaps she refers to are at the research frontier — more as “unanswered questions” than gaping holes. In fact, the theory has only gotten stronger since Darwin proposed the idea 150 years ago because every new finding, from molecular biology to ecosystems, has only reinforced the theory. The biology curriculum is already jam-packed with all this new knowledge, and there isn’t enough time left to meaningfully address the holes. In spite of this, more class time is spent exploring such fascinating questions than you might think, and the creationism controversy is addressed respectfully in an age-appropriate way in every textbook I’ve seen.

Here are clarifications to common misconceptions:

1. The Law of Thermodynamics indeed states that disorder in a closed system always increases, but without an input of energy. Fortunately, energy enters the biosphere daily in the form of sunlight and has for billions of years, enough time for order to increase.

2. It’s rarely appropriate to mention the Big Bang in the same context as Evolution because they are quite unrelated. The Big Bang is a theory about how galaxies and planets formed, whereas Evolution is a theory about how living things on just one of these planets, Earth, became so diverse.

3. Most biologists do not teach creationist views because it is outside the scope of science to address whose brilliant idea it was to launch natural selection, not because they are atheists.

4. All scientific knowledge is tentative, so what we label a “theory” in science is actually the highest praise we can heap on an idea. The tentative nature of scientific knowledge is the reason that uncovering “laws” has been abandoned and why “prove” and “just a theory” are rarely used by scientists.

5. None of the world’s major religions, including Catholicism, has a theological problem with evolution. Before jumping on the creationism bandwagon, check with the highest doctrinal authority for your denomination. You might find that evolution’s not against your religion either.

Plugging the holes will happen. We just have to keep questioning and researching, just like scientists and lifelong learners do.