How can we help people who irrationally reject the theory of evolution?

Based on this article, it seems that how a person feels is a powerfully good indicator of whether that person accepts or does not accept the theory of evolution, regardless of knowledge level or religious beliefs. According to the New York Times last year (not very recent news, but bear with me), high school biology teachers preach creationism or avoid the “controversy” in their classrooms, even though such practice is illegal and detrimental to the students’ science education. How can we help these people, who seem to go against reason and reject the theory of evolution using questionable data, understand the theory of evolution? Perhaps, if we change people’s intuitive sense, then they can more readily accept the theory of evolution, and if there seems to be evidence that does not support the theory, then try to find a way to scientifically explain why the phenomenon does not fit with the theory?

So, I guess “Shovel to the back of the head” isn’t the answer you were looking for. :slight_smile:

And here I was gonna go with “a bullet”.

Fuck helping them. Let’s concern ourselves with helping their students, and fire them. They can trust God to help them find work in some other profession.

Fire them for incompetence. Their religious lunacy is not a valid objection to them doing their jobs properly.

I think you have not read the article. According to the article, it is noted that there are contradictory sources that say that religious beliefs influence the acceptance of the theory of evolution: some agree and others disagree. So, you cannot blame religion. Instead, I think we as a society must understand how these people’s minds work. Apparently, some people reject the theory not because they identify with a religion, but because they question its own credibility and validity, even though the theory has been supported by many works over and over again. These people who reject the theory are certainly not using rationality, but rather emotion. So, perhaps we need to change our method of guiding them in the right direction? :dubious:

Yes I can, since there’s no scientific dispute at all any more as to whether or not it exists.

I think “poorly” sums it up.

How can you convert people to your point of view, people have been trying since society has begun. How about just loving our fellow members of the human family for who they are and stop trying to convert people to who we are.

I got the impression that the “them” the OP wants to help is not specifically biology teachers, but anyone whose intuitive sense makes it hard for them to accept the theory of evolution.

And I like you you immediately jumped to religion and assumed that anyone who didn’t believe in evolution was a religious looney, even though the article says

and even though the OP mentioned that this was regardless of religious beliefs.

Ironic that the OP was essentially asking how we can help people get over their knee-jerk, gut-feeling reactions against something, and the first responses were knee-jerk reactions.

Keep telling them to wash their hands and to always take ALL of their antibiotics. Don’t mention why.

Of course, the title only says “people” and the article is about teachers, which is more complicated.

We can’t. They don’t want to be helped. Just engaging with them perpetuates their agenda.

I was gonna say, if you explain 'em about drug-resistent germs, you might help them to see evolution in action.

Although, personally, I find “microevolution” a lot more intuitive and easy to swallow on a “gut level” than “macroevolution.”

Maybe an analogy to language, and how the different languages of the world evolved, would help.

Doesn’t matter. The opposition to evolution is based in religion and would not exist without it.

Or tell them not to because taking antibiotics and washing your hands is an acknowledgment of evolution. Then let evolution take its course with them.

OK, not really. But it’s tempting.

I don’t know, but if you figure out a way, then also pass it on to the following groups:

9/11 Truthers
Obama Birthers
Climate Change Deniers
Flat Earth Society Members
Anti-Vaccine Advocates

They all adhere to wacky beliefs that are antithetical to all available evidence, and in the case of people who are anti-vaccinations, they are actually causing harm to themselves and society.

The theory of evolution is not religious. Rather, it is based on a series of observations – observations that one can actually see and test in a introductory biology laboratory class.

While the difference between microevolution and macroevolution is very blurred and fluid, there is a difference. Microevolution is about the change of alleles in a population over time leads to the change in a characteristic of the population over time. Descent with modification. Macroevolution is about extrapolating this idea to greater lengths of time. The greater lengths of time are millions and billions of years, and since it is known that humans have a limited comprehension on big numbers, I conjecture it is understandable why some people reject the theory intuitively contrary to evidence. Confirmation bias may also play a role.

I don’t think using specific wording would help, because the English vocabulary is quite limited, and one can easily find a way to “disprove” the theory using the weakness of the language rather than on solid, contradicting scientific evidence, if there is any.

No, there isn’t. Those aren’t scientific terms, they are religious ones.

My (difficult to impliment) answer: find a new word to describe a scientific theory. To most people, the word theory implies it’s unproven.

When I was a kid, my parents bought me childrens’ science books. Evolution was thoroughly covered in them. My parents were slightly religious (they sort of believed it but didn’t go to, or take us to, church), but they still bought me these books.

Do these not exist anymore? This his how I learned this stuff. In 1st - 5th grade. It was never presented as theory, either by the book or by my parents.

I should also add they got me “Bible Stories for Children” during this time but it scared the crap out of me and my parent’s couldn’t really explain those parts.

“Evolution” is too much of a buzzword. Call it something else, or just teach the facts and never use the word.

Back to reality, I think most people auto-reject evolution because they think it makes life meaningless. The emphasis should be on the fact that evolution and religion are two completely unrelated subjects. People generally no longer believe that a round Earth or a heliocentric solar system run contrary to religion. Why should evolution?

You’ve got to find some way of appealing to their emotions; only in a way that will sway their beliefs towards accepting evolution. Appealing to the rational, logical, fact-based senses in those who reject evolution are futile efforts. So you must make them want to believe. As to how to do this; I have no clue.

DON’T tell them that they are morons.

DON’T tell them that they are morons for believing in God and the Bible. (You can secretly think it if you like, but have some self control! If you are really smarter than they are, you ought to be able to manage it.)

Explain to them that many religious Christians accept evolution, and that a belief in the literal truth of everything the Old Testament has never been a mainstream part of the Christian tradition, and how St Augustine, considered the greatest of the Church Fathers, warned Christians about how dangerous it would be to the faith, how foolish it would make Christianity appear, if they tried to set any interpretation of the Bible the against truths known through science and reason.

Ask them if a loving God would design and create a species only to let (or cause) it to go extinct. (Even the craziest fundamentalists, these days, believe that there used to be dinosaurs around and that they are all dead now.)

Explain that evolutionary theory does not have anything to say about how life (or the universe) began, and that they can (many Christians do) think of evolution as being gently guided (although not micro-managed by God. If necessary, explain the basics of the theory itself.

Do things this way, and there is a reasonable chance you will get a person who accepts evolution and who, if they are a teacher, will teach it to their students. Leave them for a few years to stew over the strains inherent in theistic evolutionism, and you may even end up with an atheist (if that is something that you think matters).

It is not guaranteed to work, but it has a chance, and it is more or less how evolutionism managed to catch on in the first place. Darwin, Huxley, and the other promoters of evolutionary theory had the sense not to antagonize their audience.

What is guaranteed not to work, but to produce an ever more adamant, closed minded fundamentalist who will fight toot and nail against proper science education, is to tell them that they are a moron, and that science shows that their God (to whom they are most certainly deeply, emotionally attached) does not exist.