The “theory” of evolution

MP James Lunney should not be the subject of abuse from militant atheists who would force their view of truth on others.

Re: John Harding’s editorial ‘Lunney’s issues’ (The NEWS, April 14).

MP James Lunney has every right to espouse Christianity, to believe in the Book of Genesis account of creation and to reject evolution. He should not be the subject of abuse from militant atheists or any other “-ists” who would force their individual view of fundamental truth on others.

Interestingly, a 2012 study by Angus Reid found that a majority of Canadians (61 per cent) believe in evolution while a minority (22 per cent) believe in a god-designed young earth (less than 10,000 years old) and the creation of human beings in their present form. Meanwhile, the overwhelming majority of scientists (studies typically report 97 per cent or more) accept the theory of evolution.

These numbers might explain why some of Lunney’s constituents expressed objections when he declared that his political positions must be guided by his evangelical world view and a flat rejection of science as it relates to evolution.

In his Tweet announcing his resignation from the Conservative caucus, Lunney confuses the word “theory” with hypothesis. Just as Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity explains why objects fall to the ground (gravity), the Theory of Evolution explains how organisms adapt to changing environments. The use of the word “theory” in no way undermines the overwhelming scientific evidence explaining and proving the evolutionary process. (There are many publications which clearly present this evidence; one example is Why Evolution Is True by Jerry Coyne.)

Lunney also conflates the initiation of life with evolution. These are two entirely different topics. Those who accept evolution generally agree that the creation of life remains the subject of hypotheses including, potentially, deliberate intervention by a creator.

Lunney has received encouragement in these columns from those who enthusiastically support freedom of religion. This poses an interesting question: would this support similarly extend to an MP whose political world view were influenced by fundamentalist Islamic beliefs?

Steve Price-FrancisQualicum Beach