Friday, January 8, 2010

Exploding Evolution

“The tide of evolution carries everything before it, thoughts no less than bodies, and persons no less than nations.”
~ George Santayana

Last year marked the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin. Yet according to a May 2009 study by Pew Research...
  • 32% of Americans believe that evolution occurred over time due to natural processes
  • 22% believe evolution occurred "but that it has been guided by a supreme being" and 
  • 31% still "contend that humans and other livings things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time." 
Meanwhile, a 2007 Pew study found that 68% of Americans believe in angels and demons. In other words, more than twice as many people believe in angels as believe in evolution.

Here it is 2010, and a third of the public still thinks that evolution is, well, theoretical. I say it's time for drastic steps.

Here's my thinking. Some aspects of science — the chemistry of blowing things up, how light can be used to start a fire or the forces at work in a car engine, for example — lend themselves to fun demonstrations. Many of today's adults grew up watching Mr. Wizard's simple science experiments with amazement. Today we have an entire science channel, not to mention shows like Naked Science on the National Geographic channel and the wonderful Nova on PBS.

However, I have yet to see a demonstration of evolution that remotely approaches the entertainment value of an average episode of Mythbusters. Evolution is too darn slow. Can someone please find a way to make it blow up?

"I believe that history might be, and ought to be, taught in a new fashion so as to make the meaning of it as a process of evolution intelligible to the young."
~ Thomas Huxley

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