Evangelicals question evolution. On the surface, there is no problem with this. It is critical thinking, and we ought to promote critical thinking. Our democracy works better when we think critically, and vote after we have thought.
Yet I hear secularists criticizing evangelicals on this account, that evolution is beyond question. It is not beyond question; it’ll never be finally confirmed. It is impossible to finally confirm a theory, as Karl Popper taught us.
Yet there are good questions, and there are bad questions. The old schoolroom wisdom that there are no bad questions is quaint. Not all questioning is worthy of respect, especially when the questioning is no questioning at all.
The evangelical “questioning” of evolution is not an open and objective questioning. It is a rejection of a theory without having understood it. It is counter critical, and is not honest thinking. The word question thus used is an abuse of language , since the word has departed from its understood meaning. The evangelical use of the word means something more like privileged rejection
Before evangelicals are granted the right to assert public policy on scientific issues, they must learn the issues and the method. They may question every step of the way, so long as they can formulate their questions clearly, and the word question is not so fuzzy as to mean nothing at all.
When public figures, such as we see in the GOP debate, claim that they question evolutionary theory, and present themselves as critical thinkers, they deserve all the mocking they get. They present themselves to be monkeys and apes, who know nothing of the art of thinking.
Yet when secularists present themselves so as to say that evangelicals are fools for even questioning evolution, they also use language foolishly. Evolution is always in question, otherwise science would fail and cease to be science. Scientists work to falsify their claims, which is to say they question their propositions. This is the essence of science, to test or question hypotheses, and to try to make them fail. Where is the weak spot?
Yet evolution has stood the test. More than one hundred years of questioning evolution, with the full force of the brightest minds civilization has yet produced, and the stubborn proposition will not fall. We must question evolution, if even to refine the theory. We each benefit from this mode of doubt and questioning. The evangelical use of the word question is inimical to the whole project.
What evangelicals call questioning is a sloppy use of language. Did they learn the theory, and did they learn what question is and what questioning is not, then their questioning would be welcomed. As it stands now, the evangelical questioning of evolution is beyond question absurd, sloppy, and not worthy of respect.
And anyone running for office who thinks thus sloppily does not deserve the honor which is holding office.