Asks MSNBC’s Chris Matthews of the GOP’s Mike Pence. The latter dances around it, trying to avoid asserting what science knows to be true, but this raises an interesting problem: does one have to “believe” in evolution? I mean it’s a physical process (the “fact” side) which has a number of explanatory models (the “theory” side). I don’t believe in facts; I deal with them. And I don’t believe in explanations; I am satisfied with them (or not, as the case may be). This is not about belief, which implies that acceptance of the satisfactory nature of evolutionary explanations is somehow equivalent to any other religion, at which point the argument becomes “you have your faith, and I have mine”. A couple of older quotes from my now dated Introduction to Evolution and Philosophy*:
“When we discuss creation/evolution, we are talking about beliefs: i.e. religion. The controversy is not religion versus science, it is religion versus religion, and the science of one religion versus the science of another.” [Ham, K: 1983. The relevance of creation. Casebook II, Ex Nihilo 6(2):2, cited in Selkirk and Burrows 1987:3]
“It is crucial for creationists that they convince their audience that evolution is not scientific, because both sides agree that creationism is not.” [Miller 1982: 4, cited in Selkirk and Burrows 1987: 103]
Science is not about faith. We can rely upon all kinds of ideas and results we have not personally tested, because they have either been tested by others, or because at any moment they can be subjected to testing; this is not faith. Not even in the scholastic sense of fiducia.
* I wrote this as a third year undergraduate. I didn’t suck at it for an undergraduate, but one day it will have a major rewrite.