Engineering Science and Evolution


Exterior of the Answers in Genesis Creation Museum (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

SCIENCE comes in three types: engineering, natural, and social.

The ‘theory of evolution’ is a postulate of the natural sciences of:

  • biology (biological evolution);
  • chemistry (chemical evolution);
  • geology (geological evolution); and
  • physics (cosmological evolution).

Young-Age Creationists (YACs) question the mechanism of biological and geological evolution (macro-evolution and uniformitarianism respectively) and the plausibility of chemical and cosmological evolution (abiogenesis and the ‘big bang’ respectively). YACs do not have any issues with engineering (why would they?) and sometimes question certain assumptions or conclusions dealing with evolution’s role in the social sciences (evolutionary psychology).

Engineering has almost nothing to do with any form of biological evolution. On a rare occasion, civil/geomatic/petroleum engineering may assume uniformitarianism but no form of engineering explicitly requires any facet of evolution, especially biological evolution [all life evolves through random, purposeless, accumulative mutations conditioned through selective environmental pressures and with absolutely no intelligent agency].

From their website, the Creation Museum in Kentucky focuses mainly on biological and cosmological evolution. Thus one would expect that a science teacher publishing a critique (of the museum) in Scientific American would take issue with their interpretation of biological and cosmological evolution.

Here’s the author Jacob Tanenbaum (2013):

The danger is that 40 percent of the American electorate seems to have forgotten what science is. Considering that our nation put a man on the moon and invented the airplane and the Internet, this development is extraordinary. Yet when much of the electorate faces the complex scientific questions of our day, they do not reject science wholesale, they cherry-pick it. Few if any of them live without the benefits of fossil fuels and electricity. Most are happy to fly in airplanes, take hot showers, heat their homes, drive their cars, watch their televisions and text their friends. They reject science only if it conflicts with their beliefs or asks them to change their way of life.

When Americans selectively reject science, it handicaps us, as a nation, in a knowledge-based global economy. We need to be open when scientific discoveries tell us our actions have consequences, raise doubts about our future and ask us to change. So I’ll keep teaching science, not belief. Because if students do not understand how science works, we can destroy our country’s future or even threaten our existence on this old Earth.

But wait …

  1. man on the moon = engineering
  2. invented the airplane and the Internet = engineering squared
  3. benefits of fossil fuels and electricity = engineering squared
  4. fly in airplanes = engineering
  5. take hot showers = engineering
  6. heat their homes = engineering
  7. drive their cars = engineering
  8. watch their televisions = engineering
  9. text their friends = engineering

I guess I must be missing something. Speaking of Tanenbaum, Mitchell (2013) states:

Yet he, like Bill Nye and so many others, is confusing modern experimental science with historical origins science.

The Score: Scientific American and Tanenbaum: zero. The Creation Museum and Answers in Genesis: eleven.


Mitchell, Elizabeth. 2012. News to Note, January 5, 2013. Answers in Genesis. [accessed: 2013-01-07]. (Scroll down to point #5).

Tanenbaum, Jacob. 2013. A Science Teacher Draws the Line at Creation. Scientific American (online). [accessed: 2013-01-07].


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