Evolution is an old debate, and every year, I learn something new about it. I still remember studying this in my Catholic High School, explaining it at nineteen years of age to my girlfriend (later my wife). I can’t imagine how we would have continued if she had believed in the literal interpretation of Genesis a la story of creationism or so-called “intelligent design.” That would have been a show-stopper. Fortunately, I had already read heretical works like Dick Westley’s Redemptive Intimacy (which you can find in the Internet Archive). Before we get into evolution, let’s clarify some terms.

via the incomparable Melanie Trecek-King, Thinking Is Power (see explanation below)

Clarifying Terms and Science

One of the best explanations about science comes from Melanie Trecek-King. In her article, Science: What it is, how it works, and why it matters," she explains the following vocabulary that goes with the diagram she offers (see image above):

These terms are often a source of great confusion for non-scientists, as they can have drastically different meanings in everyday usage. A hypothesis is a testable explanation for a fairly narrow set of phenomena. They’re based on current scientific knowledge and observation, not wild guesses.

A scientific theory is a broad explanation for a wide range of phenomena. When evidence accumulates for multiple related hypotheses, they’re combined into a single, clear, and powerful explanation. Well-supported theories have been rigorously tested and have high predictive power. Examples include the theories of evolution, cells, germs, gravity, and relativity.

A scientific consensus is the collective position of evidence and/or experts (which is based on evidence). Recall that science is a social process: evidence is collected and evaluated as a community. A scientific claim is never accepted as “true” until it has gone through a lengthy process of careful scrutiny by fellow experts. Establishing a consensus can take significant time and evidence, but it’s the most trustworthy knowledge available at any given moment. The more diverse the community, the stronger the consensus, as they’re more likely to find each other’s biases and blind spots.

Improper Use?

Now that I’m sensitized to the difference in hypothesis and theory, I hear their improper use every day. That’s why it makes perfect sense for people to have negative attitudes about “The Theory of Evolution.” For them, the word theory is defined as a guess that isn’t based on current scientific knowledge and lacks evidence. However, the opposite is true…evolution is a scientific theory with evidence that tends towards a high level of certainty with near absolute proof (see diagram above).

You might find this breakdown of these and other scientific terms helpful.

What is the Scientific Consensus?

These days, I use Perplexity Pro to find answers to questions, like this one:

What’s the scientific consensus on Prevagen memory enhancement?

It’s been quite helpful. I also rely on Bartz’s CRITIC and Trecek-King’s FLOATER, two acronyms that can be applied to any news story or scientific study that “changes everything.”

But I digress. Let’s get back on the topic of evolution and changing attitudes.

My Own Thoughts on Evolution

I still remember doing my “own research” for a voluminous high school research paper. I remember scoffing at creationism, intelligent design at the time after reviewing all the evidence for the theory of evolution. However, I did not have as clear an understanding. I imagined that evolution and God might both exist in the same space.

No doubt this was a result of my reading of those scientists who did the science and said something along the lines of, “Science is about evidence, and has no opinion about God and faith.” Who can blame these agnostics and closet atheists given the scary violent antics of fundamentalist Christians on topics like abortion, evolution, etc.?

You know, these two graphs and the studies they link to are quite concerning.

Image Source: National Center for Science Education

Attitudes Towards Evolution, Evolve

I found the following report via the National Center for Science Education to be quite interesting reading:

As the hundredth anniversary of the Scopes “monkey” trial of 1925 approaches, a new study argues that the attitudes of American Gen Xers toward evolution changed toward acceptance and away from uncertainty as they aged, using a longitudinal dataset based on periodic surveys of 5000-odd participants born in the heart of Gen X over a 33-year period, from middle school to middle age.

“Research on attitudes toward science typically uses a single survey or a series of surveys of different participants,” explained lead researcher Jon D. Miller of the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan.

“Using the three-decade record from the Longitudinal Study of American Life enabled our study to investigate how attitudes develop and shift over formative decades in the same individuals.”

“Acceptance of evolution went from a plurality position between 38% and 44% to a majority position between 54% and 57%," commented co-author Glenn Branch, deputy director of the National Center for Science Education. “At the same time, as participants matured, their uncertainty about evolution reduced, from 37% when they were in high school to between 11% and 13% when they were adults.” (Source: Awesome or bogus? The development of Gen X’s attitudes towards evolution, NCSE Monitor)

That’s good news, isn’t it? That a change in attitude is possible. This change, along with the increase of the “nones," must be aggravating for fundamentalist believers. We are all dragged kicking and screaming into an awareness of the truth, our tightly held fantastical beliefs burning up in the sunshine of evidence and scientific consensus.

It’s Not About God, But Humans' False Stories

Our stories of creation, evolution, all fall short of the reality of what happened. The former tries to explain through supernatural means how we came to be without any knowledge or evidence except made-up tales from long ago. The latter tries to analyze existing evidence, gathering everyone’s best research and scientific consensus. Of the two, the scientific consensus is the more reliable.

However, both still fall short of the awesome reality of what actually happened. We weren’t there, we didn’t see it, all we have are the remains of yesterdays long gone. I have no problem, as a believer, tossing out holy books and stories of people who didn’t have a clue about what happened. I do have one about tossing out evidence and scientific consensus.

Neither changes that we must remain loving, kind, and caring for each other. Hmm….


  1. Thou shalt strive to promote the greater good of humanity before all selfish desires.

  2. Thou shalt be curious, for asking questions is the only way to find answers.

  3. Harm to your fellow human is harm to humanity. Therefore, thou shalt not kill, rape, rob, or otherwise victimize anyone.

  4. Thou shall treat all humans as equals, regardless of race, gender, age, creed, identity, orientation, physical ability, or status.

  5. Thou shalt use reason as your guide. Science, knowledge, observation, and rational analysis are the best ways to determine any course of action.

  6. Thou shalt not force your beliefs onto others, nor insist that yours be the only and correct way to live happily.

  7. If thou dost govern, thou shalt govern with reason, not with superstition. Religion should have no place in any government which represents all people and beliefs.

  8. Thou shalt act for the betterment of your fellow humans, and be, whenever possible, altruistic in your deeds.

  9. Thou shalt be good to the Earth and its bounties, for without it, humankind is lost.

  10. Thou shalt impart thy knowledge and wisdom gained in your lifetime to the next generation, so that with each passing century, humanity will grow wiser and more humane. (source)