No scientist *believes* in any theory, not even
theories like the theory of gravity that have
literally planets' worth of evidence backing them
up. This is because all theories, including
gravity (and, yes, evolution), are incomplete, and
will eventually be overturned by new theories as
more and more evidence becomes available. Using
gravity again as an example, we don't use Isaac
Newton's theory of gravity anymore; we use Albert
Einstein's theory instead, and we're pretty sure
that Einstein's theory is also incomplete, too,
just more complete than Newton's theory. The same
is true of the theory of evolution, and yes, I can
name several things that Charles Darwin was wrong
about and how today's paleontologists and
evolutionary biologists are using new, better
theories of evolution.
Religion, by contrast, doesn't rely on
evidence. Religion takes truths based on faith,
and these truths are not to be questioned. For
this reason, a Creationist believes that the
universe was divinely created as described in
scripture and that there is no amount of evidence
that will sway him or her from this belief (after
all, what if the evidence is fabricated somehow?).
A common misconception among Creationists is that
evolution is a belief system as well, and for some
non-scientists they are correct, but not for
scientists. Scientists believe in the
scientific method, the process of learning through
observation, experimentation, and testing existing
ideas to see where they fail, and then creating
new ideas to account for the new observations. You
don't believe in theories; you test them.
I should point out that the misconception goes
both ways: many academic scientists who are not
religious and don't understand religion mistakenly
assume that all religious people are Creationists.
This is no more true than saying that scientists
believe in evolution. Many, if not most religions,
including most sects of Christianity, do not see
divine creation of the universe and the theory of
evolution as incompatible, as the passages in
scripture that apparently contradict evolution may
actually be metaphorical and be talking about the
relationship between God, humanity, and the rest
of the universe, the nature of good and evil, and
how a person should live his or her life, and have
nothing to do with the actual mechanisms by which
the universe operates such as evolution or
gravity. Science, meanwhile, cannot say anything
about God or morality because it has no way of
measuring either, which is not to say that they
don't exist, only that science cannot answer
questions about them. Religion can.
In short, scientists at UCSB (or anywhere else)
do not hold evolution as something that they
believe in the way that a Creationist believes in
Creation, but the overwhelming majority of UCSB
scientists accept a revised version of the theory
of evolution due to the equally overwhelming body
of evidence in support of such a theory.
I don't know about UCSB scientists, but I know
several scientists at various
institutions/universities who believe that
creation and evolution are not mutually exclusive.
That is, they generally believe in some higher
power that created the universe. The specific
beliefs of these people vary, but the general gist
is that the higher power that created that
universe either created the mechanism for
evolution to take place, or "guides" evolution.
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