Doubts over evolution block funding by Canadian agency – Study to measure ‘popularization of Intelligent Design’ refused funds.

June 12, 2006

A Canadian federal agency has denied funding to a science-education researcher partly because of its doubts about the theory of evolution.

Brian Alters, director of the Evolution Education Research Centre at McGill University in Montreal, had proposed a study of the effects of the popularization of intelligent design — the idea that an intelligent creator shaped life — on Canadian students, teachers, parents, administrators and policy-makers.At a public lecture on 29 March, Alters revealed excerpts from the rejection letter he received from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). The letter stated that, among its reasons for rejection, the committee felt there was inadequate “justification for the assumption in the proposal that the theory of evolution, and not intelligent-design theory, was correct.”
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As Canadians, we often get snarky about the ongoing culture wars south of the border. It seems however, that we are not immune. It’s been mentioned elsewhere, but a great deal of this trouble stems from creationists exploiting the common misunderstanding of the word “theory”.

In science, concepts develop along a reasonably straightforward path, although not necessarily in a regular manner.
First, a scientist will make an observation. The first stabs at explaining the observation are a hypothesis . The hypothesis must be evaluated. This means that it must be tested against other similar observations.

If the hypothesis does a good job of explaining the observations, then over time it will become a theory. In rarer cases the theory will become so universal that it will become a law.

No one doubts that relativity or quantum mechanics are true, but they are still referred to as theories.
Laypeople need to understand that a scientific theory is a well developped, well tested concept, and is accepted as fact by the scientific community.


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