Eugenie Scott in Athens

Eugenie Scott in Athens
Speaker lectures on evolution, intelligent design controversy on historical and local level at Ohio University

Emily Hubbell / FOR THE POST (Athens, OH) 10/9/2009
The controversy between evolution and intelligent design does not come down to whether a person is religious, but is a matter of sound scientific evidence, said a speaker who was on campus last night as part of Ohio University’s scientific lecture series.

“Evolution is the only scientific game in town,” said Dr. Eugenie C. Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education, a nonprofit organization based in Oakland, Calif., that promotes teaching evolution in public schools.

In her speech, part of the Frontiers in Science lecture series, Scott said that intelligent design and creationism are essentially the same concept, and neither is accepted by scientists.

“What creation science is, is an attack on evolution,” she said. “Proving you are wrong doesn’t make me right. This is exactly the problem.”

Believers in creationism and intelligent design have taken “a great deal of effort to convince the public that there is scientific evidence in this,” Scott said.

Most specifically, they have tried to find dinosaurs and human footprints fossilized together in the Paluxy River in Texas, which would demonstrate that humans and dinosaurs coexisted.

After outlining the history of creationism and evolution, Scott discussed a more localized issue: Ohio’s science education curriculum debate in 2002.

Ohio public schools adopted a standard in 2002 that Scott found dangerous to evolution. The model stated that state schools would teach evolution, but would ask students to “critically analyze evidence for evolution.” Similar standards were adopted by other states soon after.

Scott said that this reflects the view of intelligent design — not a compromise between this and evolution. Ohio dropped this educational standard in 2006.

“The reason why people fight so hard to keep evolution out of the schools is that they believe evolution is the cause for much of the evils in the world,” she said.

Although she is a strong opponent of intelligent design, Scott said she does not see a “dichotomy between science and religion or evolution and religion.”

Many Roman Catholics and evangelistic Christians accept the idea of human evolution, yet still maintain their faith, she said.

“Every human society known has some concept of something beyond physical matter. There is a reason why people seek out these beliefs,” she said. She added that science can meet most human needs, but that “science is not going to meet all the needs that humans have.”

Jeanette Grasselli Brown, a former chair of the Board of Trustees and the Ohio Board of Regents, endowed the Frontiers in Science series along with her husband, Glenn Brown. She said evolution “is a highly relevant topic,” considering the recent Ohio school board decisions on science curriculum.

She added that “Scott’s argument for why we have religion” was a highlight of the lecture.