An Exam to Examine Evolution
What Students Wrote In Their Final Exams For An Evolution Class At A Major U.S. University
July 24, 2006
After a university class devoted several weeks to offering a pro and con view of life’s origins according to the evolutionary perspective (i.e., presenting the problems with molecules-to-man evolution as well as the arguments for it, yet not teaching creation or intelligent design), its professor asked the students to assess the class in their final examination papers. As AiG reviewed the comments made by the students (graciously supplied by the professor, but retaining his students’ anonymity), we found them to be quite revealing and even hopeful—it may prompt other instructors at secular universities to follow this class’s model.1
Note that after some of the comments listed below, we have provided links to AiG web articles that go deeper into the topics mentioned by the students.
- “I have learned to think critically after learning the information from this course. Current evolutionary theory has many holes which are essentially covered up by blanket theories which ignore empirical evidence. This is not to discredit science in any way, but I believe that the theory of evolution must evolve to stay alive.” [For an article that looks at the ever-changing theory of evolution, see The Wrong Way Round!]
- “I would have to say that the argument against evolution is far more convincing to me at this point. I came into this class taking Darwin’s theory for fact, as that is what has been taught for years. I think the argument against evolution needs to gain more attention and needs to start being taught alongside the theory for evolution so that the public can choose for itself instead of taking sides due to sheer ignorance.”
- “I believe the case against evolution is more convincing. Before this class my outlook was the complete opposite, and it’s interesting to see how quickly my views have changed after 10 weeks and 2 books.”
- “I used to believe in evolution and I still believe it a little bit on a loose basis, but I do not believe evolution as a fact any more.”
- “I think that the case against evolution is stronger. In studying Anthropology it came as a shock to me to suddenly be between arguments for either side. In realizing that the case for evolution is only lacking proof as of right now, I am now a ‘hopeful evolutionist’—hoping that perhaps within my lifetime more light will be shed on the possibility of proving the existence of evolution.” [For an AiG article on physical anthropology and the so-called apemen, see Is There Really Evidence that Man Descended from the Apes?Is there really evidence that man descended from the apes?]
- “The case against evolution … is a strong one, and one I find hard to ignore.”
- “I feel there is more evidence against evolution. I do not believe in God either. The case against evolution has much more evidence that makes more sense.”
- “I believe the case against evolution is stronger. It makes you a little freaked out when you realize how many people still believe evolution is not a theory but a fact. The evidence was well presented against evolution.”
- “… Though scientists pledge to seek the truth, one must wonder whether personal interests, biases, and motivations play a role in the field. Science works best when it is disproving and questioning itself. Science is seeking truth after all.” [For an article on how scientists, including creationists, bring their biases to their study of origins, see Bias and Faith.]
- “I don’t believe in God, but the arguments brought up that I have argued to my friends now have us all in disarray.”
- “I think that the worst parts of evolutionary theory are horse evolution, whale evolution, and apes to man. I think the most annoying part of it is the drawings that they come up with, because they are only theories yet people use them as factual evidence.” [For an article on whale fossils, which are often cited by evolutionists as proof of their theory, see Another Whale of a Tale: Creationists Without a “Whimper”?]
- “Leaving this class I view science in a completely new light, more of a religion that people believe to be true. At the same time you proved evolution to be false and it gives me a new inspiration to find out what is really true.” [Read the article at Evolution as Religion for an examination of evolution as a religion.]
- “What is startling is that with all the theories that have been proven false for evolution are still put in the textbooks because they are the only links to evolution. Yet in the textbooks they don’t say that they have been shown to be incorrect evidence.” [For a fascinating article that shows how modern science textbooks still use outdated and discredited evidences for evolution, read Evolution Under (or Wool Over?) Our Eyes.]
- “I believed in evolution but now I really don’t [know] how any of the theories are true. There are so many gaps in the fossil record. It takes too much time and too many mutations for a new species to evolve. There are many abrupt appearances of species. These appearances do not have any type of good explanation.” [Read Chapter 7: Are Mutations Part of the “Engine” of Evolution? for a web article on mutations and whether they are a legitimate mechanism for molecules-to-man evolution.]
- “Accepting evolution from a common ancestor with natural selection or anything else as the mechanism seems closer to myth than truth.”
- “… I think textbooks should present both the case for and against evolution and let people decide for themselves.”
- “Evolution cannot convincingly explain the lack of gradualism displayed in fossils, or the sudden dramatic appearance of fully formed organisms in the Cambrian period. It is time to find a new theory but everyone is still clinging to Darwin.”
AiG finds it encouraging that there are creationist professors in secular higher-education settings willing to present evolution “warts and all,” and yet are scrupulously fair when they present the case for evolution. When evolution is examined critically, students will often see for themselves that this belief system fails to explain the world around us.
While presenting students with a non-evolutionary view of origins (creation or intelligent design) in such schools can be problematic because of potential problems with the administration, at least students in this particular class were allowed to use their critical thinking skills and evaluate the naturalistic side of the debate over origins. Now, if they use these skills to a higher degree, many of them will realize that there is so much design in nature that it points to a Creator and away from naturalistic processes.
In case you might be wondering whether this professor’s creation bias affected his ability to teach evolution objectively, note this survey below and question #3.
|Has this class affected your thinking on evolution?
|Has this class changed your view of evolution?
|Do you think both sides of the debate were presented fairly?
|Believe evolution is a fact
|Believe all plants and animals have evolved from a common ancestor
|Believe humans evolved from non-living matter
|Believe there is a scientific case against evolution
|Believe in a personal God and Creator
|Believe in God
|Characterize the evolution/creation debate as:
|science vs. religion
|science vs. belief
|belief vs. belief
|religion vs. religion
|science vs. science
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- We wish to protect the anonymity of the professor. Even though this creationist Ph.D. has tenure at this public university and thus possesses a greater amount of academic freedom than what might be typically seen with a non-tenured professor, his dean has the power to cancel future such classes. Therefore, the less the public knows about this origins’ class the better.