GE 70B: Evolution of the Cosmos and Life
LABORATORY/DISCUSSION 1 WORKSHEET
EVOLUTION AND CREATIONISM – Part 1
To assess creationist claims
To use critical thinking in this process
To understand what science is, and what it is not
To craft an effective rebuttal (good training for the writing assignment)
This lab considers:
What Science Is…and Is Not
A number of different definitions of science exist.
of the most widely held is due to Karl Popper, a philosopher of science.
There is a link to one of his essays
below (the first one listed), but the essence of his definition is this: “…the criterion of the scientific status of a
theory is its falsifiability, or refutability, or testability.”
That is, a
theory (as opposed to a
metaphysical or religious theory or idea) is one which makes predictions which can be tested and found either
true or false. It is by such tests that scientific thought progresses, since a new theory will only replace an old one
if the old one is found lacking where the new succeeds. Conversely, if a theory is irrefutable, it is by definition
and not part of science.
This whole course is about evolution; how the universe, earth, and life changed through time.
is so important for our course, and because anti-evolution claims, especially in biology, are so prevalent in the
United States, it is worthwhile examining these claims in more detail.
Evolution by natural selection is a theory
that has become entrenched in biology because it explains the patterns of diversity and form of living organisms
far better than any alternative idea.
This theory has been refined and improved through the years.
We will try
to show you, in the limited time we have to spend on this topic, the logic of evolution, how much evidence there
is for evolution (both small-scale AND large-scale), and how no alternative hypothesis is supported by
Also, much of our modern medical knowledge and ideas about conservation biology are based on
In this discussion, we will examine the notions that some groups feel are alternatives to, or
arguments against, natural selection.
The goal is to understand whether such notions are consistent with the
Even if you already believe in evolution, it is still instructive to think critically about
creationist claims and work on crafting a rebuttal.
We want to make it absolutely clear that a belief in evolution is not inconsistent with belief in God or
Many people believe in both.
In fact, many evolutionary biologists are also religious.
religious leaders believe in evolution (see the quotes below).
In fact, religion does not need to be opposed to
evolution at all.
For example, a perfectly reasonable idea, though outside the realm of science, is that evolution,
as conceived and documented by biologists, is the method God has used to achieve her aims.
If you choose to