Many scientists, and professors in general, are often confused about evolution. They may know a lot of details, but they don’t understand the basics. Many biology professors typically think that evolution from molecule to man is a single process that can be illustrated by dog breeding or finch-beak variations, that fossil evidence confirms the Darwinian process of step-by-step change, that monkeys can type Hamlet if they are aided by a mechanism akin to natural selection, and that science isn’t saying anything about religion when it says that we were created by a purposeless material process.
Many ordinary people are also confused about these subjects but they do tend to grasp one big truth that the professional intellectuals usually seem incapable of seeing and that is that the “scientific fact” of evolution presented to them consists largely of an ideology that goes far beyond the scientific evidence. Polls show that under 10 percent of the American public believes in the official scientific orthodoxy, which is that humans (and other living things) were created by a materialistic evolutionary process in which Gold played no part. If high-schoolers need a good high-school education in how to think about evolution, professors and senior scientists seem to need it just as badly.
Young people in America need to learn that “science” as defined in our culture has a philosophical bias that needs to be exposed. On the one hand, science is empirical. This means that scientists rely on experiments, observations and calculations to develop theories and test them. On the other hand, contemporary science is naturalistic and materialistic in philosophy. What this means is that the National Association of Biology Teachers’s official definition of evolution as an “unsupervised process” is simply true by definition--regardless of the evidence! It is a waste of time to argue about the evidence if one side (public schools and the federal government) has already won the argument by defining the terms.
When good teachers are teaching more advanced problems in mathematics or in other subjects, they love a student who will argue that the textbook answer isn’t correct. The reason isn’t so much that the textbook answer might be wrong but that people learn the truth best if they fully understand the objections to the truth. If I believe in evolution (or anything else) only because “teacher says so,” you could say I don’t really believe in evolution. What I do believe in is obedience to authority, and in letting “teacher” do my thinking for me. A democratic education aims to produce citizens who can think for themselves. I’m sure most science academics would agree emphatically and would say that unquestioning acceptance of the dictates of authority is the opposite of the kind of skeptical thinking science education should try to foster—except, of course, when it comes to evolutionary naturalism.