Josh Rosenau - The Evolution Revolution

April 18, 2011

Host: Karen Stollznow

Our guest this week is Josh Rosenau, the Programs and Policy Director of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), and writer of the blog "Thoughts from Kansas" at ScienceBlogs.

Josh has pursued a doctoral candidate at the University of Kansas, studying the ways ecological competition shapes the ecological niche and geographical ranges of species. In his role at the NCSE, he works with grassroots groups, testifies before school boards, meets with legislators, works with scientists to be more effective communicators and the public to increase science literacy globally.

In this interview with Karen Stollznow, Josh presents the "Three Pillars of Creationism", the beliefs and claims of creationists. He describes their rhetoric and propaganda, and the setbacks they cause for science, from legal cases to creationist theme parks.

Josh also talks about some recent successes for science. The NCSE works tirelessly to battle creationists and improve the public understanding of evolution. But this is an organization that aims to "go out of business", and where the staff members ultimately aim to be out of their jobs.

Links Mentioned in This Episode:

Thoughts from Kansas
National Center for Science Education

Comments from the CFI Forums

If you would like to leave a comment about this episode of Point of Inquiry please visit the related thread on the CFI discussion forums

I really enjoyed this episode, and I think the work Josh Rosenau & the NCSE is very important.  However I question his snobby attitude towards upstate New York.  If the NCSE had been in Buffalo it would be harder for critics to dismis it as a lefty Bay Area organization.

Posted on Apr 21, 2011 at 9:45am by MCDX3 Comment #1

I thought Josh Rosenau was very uncomfortable during the interview; I hope he comes across more relaxed and outgoing in other venues.

Posted on Apr 21, 2011 at 7:42pm by Taylor Comment #2

This has been the best POI in a while. I have one little peeve that kept popping up though. Can we, as a community, no longer speak about “believing in evolution” and instead talk about “understanding evolution”?
As a public school teacher less than an hour from the Missouri creation museum I am often asked by creationist students, “Do you believe in evolution?” These children are being taught in their churches that evolution is a belief, and our use of the same term just confirms the lie. When I get asked the question I tell the students, “It is not a belief. I understand evolution. You can believe in lots of things, but science is something you either understand, or need more education in.”

Posted on Apr 24, 2011 at 6:43am by MathMike Comment #3

that evolution is a belief

It IS a belief, one grounded in evidence.  That the world is round is also belief.  It disturbs me to hear an evolution defender take offense at the word “belief” as if someone is implying it’s a faith-based belief like a religious one.  The defensiveness comes across to me as sounding a bit prim.  Every fact that we know is a belief, some better grounded than others.

Posted on Apr 24, 2011 at 8:34am by Taylor Comment #4

that evolution is a belief

It disturbs me to hear an evolution defender take offense at the word “belief” as if someone is implying it’s a faith-based belief like a religious one.

That is exactly what I fight against here. The creationist argument goes something like this:
Belief requires faith.
Anything that requires faith is religious.
Therefore, evolution is just another wrong religious belief that can be dismissed along with every other wrong religious belief.

Science is not a belief system. It is a system where knowledge, theory and experiment work together to further our understanding of our world. If you learn and understand how these parts work then you don’t need to believe that they work.

Posted on Apr 24, 2011 at 9:58am by MathMike Comment #5

Science is not a belief system.

Sure it is.  You *believe* that empirical evidence is the best way to determine truth.  That’s a belief.  Science has metaphysical foundations that are unprovable, just like every other belief system.

Posted on Apr 24, 2011 at 10:18am by Taylor Comment #6

The word belief is a troublesome one. My friend insists that he is an agnostic,
(though he is an atheist), since he can not know (scientifically prove) that
god is not real. I say to him, well, the pope can’t prove that god is real
either so should he properly describe himself as an agnostic too?

No, because the god question is not a scientific one, it is a belief one - no
one is asking for proof, they are asking whether, given one’s world experience
one thinks god is real? Belief in this case means opinion. No one demands
evidence before accepting an opinion. But the word belief is also used to
indicate how we feel about issues of science… so maybe it’s best that when the topic
is scientific that we avoid the word belief. I don’t know. I just know it
creates all kinds of grief and misunderstanding and that there are
fantastically elaborate discussions about atheism vs. agnosticism vs. theism
that, to me, are all due to confusion over the meaning of the word belief. If
you believe in god, you’re a theist; if you don’t, you’re an atheist; if you’re
unsure, you’re an agnostic. Can any of these three prove their position? No.
It’s just opinion.

Posted on Apr 30, 2011 at 7:21am by Curt Nelson Comment #7

The word belief is a troublesome one.

Yes.  Watch out for equivocation on the word “belief.”  It is a common fallacy.

Posted on Apr 30, 2011 at 9:53am by Pragmatic Naturalist Comment #8