This week the wonderful Bill Nye participated in a debate with a creationist on whether or not creationism is a viable scientific model of our origins. I am not going to get into the nitty gritty of the debate; the creationist model denies loads of science, so it’s just not worth it. But I thought I would share my own story on the topic.
I was raised in the Midwest U.S. where it is widely accepted that a god created the whole universe about 6,000 years ago (creationism). I never really gave it a second thought, even in my first years of college. Now, keep in mind that I am not claiming to be religious or to not be religious (this really is irrelevant). I am stating that I was not taught about the theory of evolution at all, until I left the Midwest and moved to San Francisco. There, in an astronomy class, I watched an episode of Carl Sagan’s The Cosmos that contained information on the theory of our origins. After the episode was over, I immediately thought “Oh, that is what everyone is arguing about? That just makes sense! It’s science!” It literally took only 8 minutes for Carl Sagan to explain evolution clearly.
I was fairly illiterate in science when I entered college, and I just happened to fall in love with astronomy my first semester. That love led me to move across the country to a city seeping with amazing scientists and scientific research, San Francisco. I felt that I needed to be around more real science in order to catch up to the level that I should have been at in high school. It was there, in SF, that I was taught, very nonchalantly, the theory of evolution. There, in San Francisco, religion does not try to control what science is taught in schools. I cannot help but think if this were the case in the Midwest, would I have had a better understanding of science in high school? Would I have been more prepared for college and a career in the sciences?
Anyway, politics and arguments aside, here is the clip from The Cosmos that I think everyone should watch. It is incredibly informative, and you get to listen to Carl Sagan!
There was one other event that happened to me that sealed the deal of understanding evolution. I was taking a bioanthropology course at Indiana University and in the lab portion of the course I held and studied many skulls in the hominidae family (we are in this group), some of which were millions of years old. I compared skulls of gorillas, humans and our now extinct relatives; it was an absolutely amazing experience. I was able to come to my own conclusion, as a scientist, of evolution while looking at the specimens. I only wish that everyone could have the chance to do this.
Today I went to my archaeology lab (a course I am taking this semester) and noticed a bunch of the same type of skulls along the wall. I couldn’t help but geek out about the australopithecus afarensis skull! I am sure I looked loony to my professor, but I couldn’t help myself.
I don’t look at evolution as a “belief”. You either accept the theory, or you don’t. Scientist, even religious scientists, accept this theory; the evidence is overwhelming! I urge anyone who is questioning evolution, or if you just want to learn more, please do some research. Make sure to stick to credible scientific sources. PBS has a fun website about evolution which is very interactive. If you prefer to read articles and the like, UC Berkeley has some great resources for you!
To celebrate how wonderful science is, and to commemorate Bill Nye as a fantastic science advocate, I am having a sale at The Science Boutique this weekend! All items will be 10% when you enter the code “Evolution”! May I recommend purchasing the Evolution Bracelet – the images are based on Carl Sagan’s explanation of evolution in the video above!