Science teaching: Stasis and crickets, and the meaning of life

tjm, here, comments on crickets' 100 million years of stability:

Interesting isn’t it? Evolution can explain any result at all. It explains stasis over 100 million of years and it explains change over 100 million years. As they say, a theory that explains anything, explains nothing. Living fossils should falsify evolution. Unchanged fossils, like this one, that are supposedly ancient, should falsify evolution, but no, it gets twisted into evidence for evolution.

Hmmm. Not sure if that's quite fair.

Stasis, where demonstrated, shows that there is no consistent "force" driving evolution.* Evolution happens where there is pressure for it and it is possible; where there is no pressure, the result is stasis, and where there is pressure but evolution is not possible, the result is extinction.

In this respect, evolution can be contrasted with the rise of warmer molecules in the atmosphere over colder ones. We can explain many things, even about as uncertain a process as the weather, just by knowing that this process will always be observed, anywhere that it is not hindered. Evolution is not like that. It need not happen and usually does not happen.

However, many literary artists whom students will (should) study in school, like playwright George Bernard Shaw, believed in Evolution, a driving force, ever onward and upward, etc. These beliefs can be inspirational, but can also do considerable harm, especially when people conclude (as they do) that they have now found science evidence for their own superiority to their neighbours. Teaching evolution based on the general picture of the evidence would help counter that tendency.

It ought to be obvious to everyone who is not

a member of the Texas Darwin school lobby why we must teach stasis, alongside evolution and extinction, irrespective of whether stasis provides a plank in their evangelism for the Beard Almighty.**

* Of course evolution can be guided, and I think the evidence points to that. But it is guided by a design of which it is the outworking, not pushed along by a force.

Oh, and, should we study the designer? I don't see why, particularly. If I want to teach how a four-stroke engine works, I doubt I'd bring up the biography of the designer. It'll be enough to get students to grasp the basic concepts. Besides, I'll have my hands full dealing with people who think that there is a spirit in the car, a spirit that moves it along, when what there actually is, is an intelligent design by which it can be got to move.

Denyse O'Leary is co-author of The Spiritual Brain.

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