The Wall Street Journal has an article discussing the high scores received by Finnish students in a test measuring science knowledge and intelligence. However, part of the test, which was created by the international Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, may be a measure of nothing more than whether a student believes in evolution. For example, see the sample test question, Question 3, Evolution:
Which one of the following statements best applies to the scientific theory of evolution?
A The theory cannot be believed because it is not possible to see species changing.
B The theory of evolution is possible for animals but cannot be applied to humans.
C Evolution is a scientific theory that is currently based on extensive evidence.
D Evolution is a theory that has been proven to be true by scientific experiments.
According to the answer key, the correct answer is C, the one that pledges allegiance to evolution as a well-supported scientific theory. I think there are problems with all four of those statements. But if one is closest to the truth, it’s probably answer A, because it incorporates the fact that we do not observe Darwinian processes producing new complex biological structures. In the view of many intelligent scientists, there is not “extensive evidence” supporting neo-Darwinism. So the test does not necessarily measure intelligence or knowledge about evolution, but rather only measures whether a student is willing to give the politically correct answer regarding a scientific controversy.
This test’s methodology is reminiscent of the Fordham Report, which basically grades state science standards based upon how dogmatically they teach evolution. The more dogmatically they teach evolution, the higher the grade. If a state allows teachers to challenge evolution, it gets a failing grade. Under such a philosophy of teaching science, evolution education teaches students not how to think, but what to think. Sadly, this trend will only harm science education.
Update: I received an insightful comment from a reader who commented that Answer A cannot be the correct answer because we do see “species changing.” In fact I agree as I wrote earlier, “I think there are problems with all four of those statements.” But while this reader was technically correct that we can see species changing, these are usually small-scale changes that are extremely trivial. Yet when using the term “evolution,” the writers of the test likely meant more than mere small-scale changes. In the minds of the test-writers, “Answer A” is probably wrong because they are trying to rebut a common objection to neo-Darwinian evolution that “We don’t see large-scale evolutionary change happening.” Of course many people would say that is a valid objection to neo-Darwinism, but many Darwinists don’t require such observations to validate their theory. Such an objection can be valid when framed properly (which is what I tried to do), and thus I believe that A is the “least-wrong” of all four answers. But if we just define evolution as “change in species over time,” then perhaps all these answers are fully wrong.