I would also like to thank the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) for voting last week to approve new biology textbooks. Louisiana students need accurate textbooks that teach the theory of evolution, the fundamental unifying principle of biology, and I am grateful BESE didn’t bow to creationist efforts to undermine it.
In his column, Mr. Gatti asked me to answer some “which happened first” type questions–obviously part of his effort to refute the theory of evolution. I sent them off to an eminent scientist, Ken Miller, who authored the Pearson textbook that BESE just approved. Dr. Miller’s answers are available at here.
Mr. Gatti believes his questions poke holes in evolution. He listed paired organs, molecules, and systems which perform a single function in modern organisms and asked, which came first. He seems to think that the existence of such entities undermine the theory of evolution, believing both elements must appear simultaneously. But he is wrong. As Dr. Miller explains, these interlocking systems arise from simpler systems with a smaller number of components, and evolution, driven by natural selection, gradually improves the efficiency of these systems by adding additional components.
The real purpose behind Mr. Gatti’s letter is to claim that evolution is a faith-based belief system, in an attempt to place his creationist beliefs on an equal footing with evolution so that they may be taught in public school science class. Mr. Gatti’s fundamental mistake lies with the fact that evolution is not a belief system. It is science, whose goal is to identify natural explanations for events and processes in the natural world based on what can be observed.
For Louisiana students, Mr. Gatti’s mistake is a costly one. Our future and ability to secure competitive jobs is at stake. As I told BESE officials, when you look up biologist on Monster Jobs, there are well over a thousand jobs to choose from. When you look up “creationism,” “creationist,” or “creation science,” you find, “sorry there are 0 creationist jobs.” Zero jobs.
Louisiana students need to be taught evolution, the science backed by the evidence, to get the jobs that will be available in the global economy. I’m glad BESE agreed.