According to my man Webster, theory is defined as “a proposed explanation whose status is still conjectural and subject to experimentation.” Basically, a theory may be regarded as correct, but it is not given as fact. It has not yet been proven true. So why is it, then, that in collegiate programs, where we are supposed to be receiving the best education possible, theory is presented as fact?
Like many of you, as a freshman I had to take LIFE 102 as an Introduction to Biology course. When we began discussing evolution, what struck me was that this information was never presented as the theory it is. Instead, I was told that this was fact: evolution is the only response we have to the question of where the human species came from.
The problem I had with the system was that I was told that evolution was fact, and yet I didn’t believe in evolution. I came from a private high school, where we were obviously on the whole Intelligent Design bandwagon. All of my science courses at my Lutheran high school were from an evolutionary standpoint, but it was always presented as theory.
Evolution is a theory, just as Intelligent Design is a theory. I cannot prove to you that God exists, but you cannot prove to me that He doesn’t. Hence why these two theories have existed fairly peacefully for years.
So when I came to college, I expected theories to be presented as theories and facts to be presented as facts. It was disheartening to find that this was not the case.
I learned the material, I took the exams, I did fairly well. I passed a course where I did not believe in the curriculum — a first for me. But never, in this course, was there even mention of the fact that other theories exist. Evolution is not the only theory out there, so where is the equal representation?
I am not asking for Intelligent Design to be offered as a course. I am fully aware of the separation of church and state. Being that this is a public university, I expect evolution to be taught.
The change that I would like to see is for professors to admit that they don’t have all the answers. The theory that they are presenting does not house all of the answers to our questions, it is simply the theory that isn’t supposed to step on people’s toes.
So at least make mention of the fact that the theory of evolution is not proven true and is open to experimentation. At least make mention of the fact that there are at least two different tracks one can take in answering the question “where do we come from?”
I don’t have all the answers to that question. But Charles Darwin didn’t either. Since neither of us can prove that God does or does not exist, why don’t we just count our losses and admit that we don’t know?
I’m not saying that God even needs to be mentioned. But spend a little bit of time acknowledging my beliefs, and understand that there are some things about evolution that I may not know. I was taught evolution in my science classes, sure, but I am by no means an expert. Creationism, though, that I know and know well.
Let’s treat these theories equally. Let’s admit that there are things that we don’t know. Let’s make the little private school kid feel included in the conversation.
I believe in God, in a Higher Power, in Intelligent Design. That has nothing to do with perfect science, it has nothing to do with proving theories. It has everything to do with plain and simple faith. And I would like my faith, my practiced theology, my belief system to be acknowledged and regarded as a valid theory. Just as I promise to regard evolution as a valid theory.
Brittany Jordan is a sophomore psychology major. Her column appears every other Tuesday in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To read a response column by columnist Res Stecker, click here.