EDITORIAL: A scary 'what if?'

York Dispatch

The views of the American public just might be evolving.

It seems that the younger people are, the more likely they are to say that people have evolved over time, according to the Pew Research Center.

A survey last year showed that adults 18 to 29 were the most likely to believe that humans and other living things have evolved over time, while those 65 and older were least likely to agree to that.

Of course, there is still a long way to go. Even among the youngest adults, only 73 percent think that, while only 54 percent of the oldest citizens believe in evolution.

Just for the record, 98 percent of members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science think that evolution is true. None think that humans have existed in their present form since the beginning of time, a belief shared by 31 percent of the American public, according to Pew.

These figures came up last week during a forum at York College that considered what might have happened if the Kitzmiller v. Dover decision on intelligent design had gone the other way.

It's been almost 10 years since Judge John E. Jones III ruled that Dover schools could not teach intelligent design in biology classes because the concept is religious in nature, not a scientific theory. In that time, ID advocates have largely stopped their push to include the concept in school curricula across the nation.

In theory, if Jones had allowed Dover to continue to include intelligent design in its biology curriculum, the theory could have spread throughout the country.

Kansas was on the verge of striking evolution from the state's education standards, according to Ken Miller, a scientist who spoke at the York College forum and consulted with the Kitzmiller side of the trial. After the decision, Kansans voted in members of the state board of education who are pro-science.

But evolution continues to draw heated debate. Even at the York College forum, several in the audience voiced their skepticism about evolution, and one man, who said he was a former Dover employee, shook a Bible in the air as he spoke.

Maybe it's anti-science feeling, which Miller cited last week — the same thoughts that have created the great divide on climate change and the anti-vaccine movement.

Maybe it's just plain stubbornness, people refusing to accept that something they might have believed their entire lives could not be true, feeling threatened by new ideas or thinking that their culture and identity are being opposed.

But it's 2015, people. If we want to continue to see improvements in technology, health and understanding, we need to step up and look at facts.

We need to evolve.