Talk:Creation–evolution controversy

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Former good article Creation–evolution controversy was one of the good articles, but it has been removed from the list. There are suggestions below for improving the article to meet the good article criteria. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
Article milestones
Date Process Result
January 22, 2006 Good article nominee Listed
October 4, 2006 Good article reassessment Delisted
November 25, 2006 Peer review Reviewed
Current status: Delisted good article
edit·history·watch·refresh Stock post message.svg To-do list for Creation–evolution controversy:

Here are some tasks awaiting attention:
  • Cleanup : *Arguments relating to the definition, limits and philosophy of science' section.
  • Expand : *'Forums for the controversy' section should go beyond debates, and eventually add an introductory sentence.
    • 'Public policy issues' & 'Issues relating to religion' sections require introductory paragraphs to provide an overview and give structure to their sub-sections.
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Scientific fact or Scientific theory[edit]

Is the reference http://www.nsta.org/evolution/#qanda really highlighting that evolution is a scientific fact? If so, can someone please point it out, I didn't see it. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Nzjony (talkcontribs) 16:07, 27 November 2016 (UTC)

Nzjony, yes, I agree. The Q and A only rejects the expression "evolution is just a theory", but does not go further to stating "evolution is a scientific fact", but says "a fact is an observation that has been repeatedly confirmed" (citing the NAS, but many scientists or philosophers of science might quibble about that, perhaps citing the limits of induction or black swans). They are addressing a common misunderstanding of "theory" and sliding past any disagreements about "fact". How do you think it should be handled here in the lead?  —jmcgnh(talk) (contribs) 19:11, 27 November 2016 (UTC)

Major edit suggestion in RFC[edit]

There is an RFC to do a major edit on this article, proposing that the content of Issues of the Evolution v.s. Creation Debate be merged here. "The question at hand: should this article be merged into Creation-evolution controversy? "

I suggest editors here provide input there.

PLEASE BE SURE TO INCLUDE MERGE OR NOT in whatever input provided.

I personally think it premature to just RFC it and that there should have been discussion here, which is why I am posting it here and said so in my RFC response. (The one starting 'Opposeopposeoppose'). Cheers Markbassett (talk) 06:04, 3 December 2016 (UTC)

p.s. Some I think involved here that I'd like to hear from would be : User:Isambard Kingdom, User:Dominus Vobisdu, User:Epipelagic, Jess, User:Editor2020, and User:Ian.thomson. Markbassett (talk) 06:23, 3 December 2016 (UTC)

Winners and losers[edit]

The intro to this article is written from the point of view that the Creationists are wrong and have lost the debate. I'd rather see a neutral intro.

Let's reframe the controversy as a dispute between two sides with different approaches - which could then be compared and contrasted in an interesting way without drawing any conclusions. Yes, the scientific world almost entirely rejects Creationism. But on the other hand, somewhere between 40% to 85% of American adults reject evolution (it depends on how you define "evolution" in survey questions).

Also, the idea that the Roman Catholic Church supports evolution - or regards it as consistent with Creation - needs to be clarified. Have popes (or cardinals) said (1) that God created every species over the course of millions of years (I call this "gradual appearance"); or (2) that God set everything up, and the various species came into being entirely through natural processes? I'm not aware of whether Francis or the previous pope made this distinction crystal clear. --Uncle Ed (talk) 10:54, 26 March 2017 (UTC)

The lead currently correctly conveys that evolution by natural selection is an empirical scientific fact, and that creationism is regarded as pseudoscientific. That seems to be a fair summary. The extent to which there is a "controversy" should be decided by reliable sources. We don't base encyclopedia articles on widely held opinions of adults with among the worst scientific educations in the world. Sławomir Biały (talk) 11:38, 26 March 2017 (UTC)
@Uncle Ed, I think you may not understand the perspective of this article. The controversy is about the pseudoscientific attack of creationism on evolution and science more broadly. As Stawomir Bialy point out, it is irrelevant what most Americans or people in the world believe. Many Americans and people around the world believe in ghosts [1]. Following the logic of what people believe, Ghost would have to be rewritten to neutrally convey the uncertainty of their existense based on common belief about the existence of ghosts. Finally, the article does not state that the Catholic Church support evolution. The detailed discussion of this issue is in Catholic Church and evolution.--I am One of Many (talk) 16:04, 26 March 2017 (UTC)
Good idea about rewriting the Ghost article neutrally. There is a single-sentence paragraph at the end of that article's intro, which says, "Ghosts exist as a concept only; despite centuries of investigation, there is no credible scientific evidence that any location is inhabited by spirits of the dead." But there is no section about the scientific consensus. So either (a) that sentence should be removed from the lede; or, better, we should add a section summarizing attempts (and, of course, the total abysmal failure) to find any evidence for ghosts real existence. I'll make that suggestion there, too.
But more importantly, if you think the article should focus on "the pseudoscientific attack of creationism on evolution and science" rather than simply describing what the two sides regard as true - and why - then maybe I should take a closer look at it. Based on my knowledge of the controversy, there is a lot more to it than the "wrong side" slamming "the noble practioners of the scientific method". For example, there are those who simply assert their beliefs without reference to science at all. Likewise, there are those who have adopted methodological naturalism and sidestep creationist dogma entirely. --Uncle Ed (talk) 20:02, 26 March 2017 (UTC)
Which are the two sides you feel should be given equal treatment? Young Earth Creationists and evolutionary biologists? Young Earth Creationists and paleontologists? Young Earth Creationists and geologists? Old Earth Creationists and one of the above categories? Some other kind of creationist and some other kind of something? The NSF statement says that there is no conflict with "many religious denominations". The controversy now seems mostly the political one of trying to get creationism taught in schools. There seems very little remaining "controversy" that can be attributed to reliable sources. But you seem to want to cherry pick the most extreme creationist view as "the other side" that is not being fairly presented. Sławomir Biały (talk) 22:11, 26 March 2017 (UTC)
I think the line "The Catholic Church now recognizes the existence of evolution" is unsupported. I would like it changed to "The Catholic Church now allows for the possibility of evolution." Would this be acceptable? Mathmannix (talk) 12:18, 5 June 2017 (UTC)

I do not recall saying that there are two sides that ought to be given equal treatment. I think rather that the article should adhere to NPOV policy about undue weight, which among other things says, "Currently unaccepted theories should not be legitimized through comparison to accepted academic scholarship." There are also some excellent paragraphs there about WP:PROPORTION and WP:BALANCE. If you agree with these policies, then we can work together. Fair enough? --Uncle Ed (talk) 00:21, 27 March 2017 (UTC)

I'm still confused exactly what it is you're proposing. The lead at the moment seems to be quite WP:NPOV neutral to me, and it isn't clear at all what you want to fix. Also, you have referred twice to "two sides". I infer that one of these sides is the Young Earth creationists. But this is an extreme position; most religious denominations now accept evolution occurs in some form, as noted by the article. So, isolating an extreme view for special treatment does not seem much in the spirit of maintaining a neutral point of view. Sławomir Biały (talk) 00:39, 27 March 2017 (UTC)
None of that says that pseudoscience claims get stated as though they are reality, anywhere in WP and please see WP:GEVAL which is the most relevant part of NPOV to this article. We follow what reliable sources say. If you can do that, of course you are welcome. Jytdog (talk) 00:40, 27 March 2017 (UTC)

Thank you both for continuing to engage me in dialogue. I do not consider YEC "one of the two sides", and I agree it is an extreme viewpoint. In fact, it is the idea which is in the most severe conflict with modern science.

A lot of YEC's do in fact reject science, especially in terms of its attempt to discover human origins. YEC quite clearly begins with a number of premises:

  1. God created the universe, including the earth
  2. God created every form of life on earth, particularly the first one-celled organisms
  3. There has been no macroevolution since God's initial creation of life on earth (if for no other reason than 10,000 years is too short ;-)

Science, on the other hand, does not embrace any of these premises, all of which are grounded in Christian religious faith (particularly in America, which is the main arena for creation-evolution debate.)

That being said, the two most prominent sides are (A) Creationism, which includes YEC along with Old Earth Creationism; and (B) the opposite view that the universe and life came about through natural processes. We need to ensure that readers understand that Evolution does not directly oppose all of creationism. First, the religious doctrine that God created the universe, including the earth, is not addressed at all by Evolution. Second, evolution - strictly speaking - does not address the issue of how the first living thing came into being.

So what we have here is a "scope problem". Are we going to describe all aspects of Creationism's dispute with science - including Big Bang and abiogenesis? Or just the disagreement on how new species come into being?

Sorry if my response seems to wander. It is a vast issue, and I don't pretend to have exclusive wisdom about how it should be covered. I hope we can work together. --Uncle Ed (talk) 11:59, 27 March 2017 (UTC)

Thanks, this clarifies things. I think that, if we leave out the capital-C creationists (YECs and maybe also OECs), then there is a range of opinions that is worth covering in the lead and can probably be reliably sourced. I object to framing this into the polarizing language of two "sides" though. Sławomir Biały (talk) 12:55, 27 March 2017 (UTC)
  • I think the only view that is conspicuously absent in the Lead is that of scientists who allow for the possibility of a deity with some involvement in creation at some level (i.e. agnostic and theistic evolution). The lead clearly shows that there are religious authorities accepting evolution and that religion is therefore not inherently opposed to evolution, but we don't make the same inclusion of the fact that scientists and scientific thinkers can, and often do, accept some space for religious belief in the recognition of the impossibility of acquiring all-encompassing knowledge of cosmic origins through science. What is missing is not the polarized framine, but rather the overlaps and middle grounds.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 14:25, 27 March 2017 (UTC)
I like the idea of covering the overlap. For example, not all YEC's reject the totality of science - they believe that planes fly because the air over the wing goes faster and puts less pressure on the wing, which is a scientific idea. I'm not sure what proportion of YEC's support the "scientific creationism" movement.
Then there are the OEC's, who accept certain aspects of evolutionary science, like the fossil record; possibly the bulk of the ID people are OEC's. But ID tries to work entirely within the framework of science (or so they say).
It can be confusing, even for those of us who have studied it, but if we work together we can delineate the overlaps as well as the irreconcilable differences. --Uncle Ed (talk) 15:10, 27 March 2017 (UTC)
The record is clear that intelligent design is "scientific" creationism repackaged to avoid the USSC Edwards v. Aguillard decision. It is inappropriate to adopt a teach the controversy approach to this article. If we present the views of intelligent design and creation "science", they should be clearly presented as pseudoscience, not as if they were compatible with the scientific method. Indeed, they have been resoundingly denounced by the scientific community. Whether creationists believe in flying airplanes is not relevant to the subject of this article. I also do not think that anything that can be settled empirically (e.g., abiogenesis) is an appropriate topic for speculation in the lead, unless God of the gaps is also mentioned. Certain religious beliefs do not refer to empirical facts about the natural world that can be tested (e.g., the concept of sin, forgiveness in Jesus, etc.) But creation, as generally conceived, is not one of those things. So we need to be very careful in delineating the "edges", if we try to do this at all. Most aspects of "creation" are indeed things that science has something to say about. Those aspects that are opposed to evolution (the topic of this article) are indeed fairly settled, and now primarily of historical interest (and political machinations), which is the reason for the focus of the present article. Sławomir Biały (talk) 19:08, 27 March 2017 (UTC)
  • Ed Poor, you are indeed wandering, and it is not good for anybody - not you, and not those replying. Much of what you have mentioned is already discussed in this article (theistic evolution, Catholic views on evolution, the limits of what questions science can answer, etc). If you have concrete suggestions for changing this actual article, please make them. Otherwise please keep in mind that article talk pages are not places for general discussions of the topic. I am going to close this section, and if you have concrete suggestions that are based on reliable sources and the policies and guidelines, please make them in a new section. Jytdog (talk) 19:32, 27 March 2017 (UTC)
  • user:Maunus about this: please identify the specific, concrete proposals to change this article. I see none above. Jytdog (talk) 20:07, 27 March 2017 (UTC)
I concretely propose to add to the lead the fact that scientists often do not see religion or even divine creation as inherently or necessarily opposed to science and evolutionary theory, but simply as lying outside of the purview of what science is investigating. This is a quite significant view that is in between the two poles. I also think the sections on theistic and agnostic evolution should be expanded. IN general I think the lead doesn't do a great job of summarizing the article, or the issue, but is a rather disjoint and incoherent collection of information.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 20:10, 27 March 2017 (UTC)
I heartily concur that the lead doesn't summarize the article well, and it may be better to focus on that instead of specific additions. For example, it would make sense to move the detailed discussion of Catholicism into the body and substitute a description of the spectrum of views between creationism and evolutionism (as discussed in Viewpoints). I don't think there is anything more to say about agnostic evolution. It may be better to group together all the viewpoints (theistic, agnostic and materialistic) that fully support evolution. RockMagnetist(talk) 01:59, 28 March 2017 (UTC)
Yes, I don't see the point of quoting the pope in the lead, for example.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 04:32, 28 March 2017 (UTC)
Jytdog, thanks for your feedback; I'll try to be more concise in the future and more focused on specific change proposals. I was trying to get consensus before making changes, hoping to head off an edit war. Indeed, the section should be closed unless there are concrete suggestions.
With that in mind, I like the idea of Maunus about scientists who don't see a conflict between creationism and science. I agree with RockMagnetist that the lede should summarize the article better; we probably don't need to quote the pope there (or not so extensively). We might just say that Francis doesn't reject evolution completely - while expanding the body section about just what parts of evolution are / aren't consistent with Catholic dogma.
Also, while it may not be a specific suggestion, I would like to find a way to say that much of the controversy has to do with approach - aka, methodology. Creationism, it should be stressed, starts with faith: any conclusions it draws are based on a priori untestable notions. Science, on the other hand, starts with what can be observed and comes up with hypotheses and theories which can be tested. (I'm not so interested, for the purposes of this article, with the aims of the scientific creationism movement or how they morphed into the ID movement. --Uncle Ed (talk) 12:09, 28 March 2017 (UTC)
The idea of Maunus about scientists who don't see a conflict between creationism and science, as expressed above, is about scientists who fully accept evolutionary science, and find no religious problem with that. Specifically, their belief in creation does not conflict with science, and so isn't "creationism" in the common meaning. Suggest you should read Finding Darwin's God, for a start. . . dave souza, talk 13:44, 28 March 2017 (UTC)
Okay, now that Dave has weighed in, I might finally be ready to start making some little edits. I think it takes a lot of discussion beforehand, because there are subtle issues - many of which overlap (or don't ;-) --Uncle Ed (talk) 12:35, 30 March 2017 (UTC)
I am not sure how relevant the people who do not see a conflict are to an article named "Creation–evolution controversy". Maybe only insofar as they don't think there should be one (a controversy, that is), so they should not take much room in it. --Hob Gadling (talk) 14:22, 30 March 2017 (UTC)

Bible issues in the 1925 Court case against a teacher who spoke about Evolution in School[edit]

Hallo!: as published recently in Science and SciAm, the main issue in a teacher brought to Court around 1925 may have been that in his lessons that cited evolution, he showed to the students images of a man amidst animals, and that it implicitly supported the concept that man's nature is same as animal's nature. The Genesis text, 'YahWeh made Adam from clay', can be read as: 'clay' meaning something inert, without the life of spirit, already present in nature, as, for example, an anthropoid, which, by individual action and special Spirit blow from the Almighty, became the first man; that it shouldn't be interpreted literally has backing in the Creation history in the Bible, that presents grass, trees, and other plants being created before land animals; we know today that Dinosaurs existed before grass, so, no literal reading of text applies.

The first saint Paul letter to Corinthians, 15, 39, indicates with no doubt that flesh of man differs from that of animals, and here the conflict leading to a Court session may be.

Some Catholic church priests, as Jesuits, had no doubt that man came from an anthropoid already existent, and that evolution played a role there; as evolution is a rule settled by the Creator, so are its consequences, an special individual action in creating man is described in the Old Testament, the theologians' doubt was rather about: 'Unigenism', or: 'Polygenism', man appearing from a single couple, Adam and Eve, or in several different places at different times. The modern Populations' genetics provided evidence that an Adam and an Eve, defined by their Y Chromosome and mitocondrial DNA, from which all modern Homo sapiens are descendants, existed somewhere near the Rift Valley in Africa, around 250'000 years ago. The Creationism-Evolutionism conflict may yield opportunities to exert the intellectual sport of: 'Word fighting', or to subdue those alien to some thought systems, but actually have not much content. Or does it?. Thanks, regards, + Salut--Caula (talk) 18:10, 27 May 2017 (UTC)

It is unclear if you are suggesting a particular change to the article. This talk page is for discussing improvements to the article, not a general forum for discussion of the topic (WP:NOTFORUM). Thanks, — PaleoNeonate — 18:14, 27 May 2017 (UTC)