70
   

Latest Challenges to the Teaching of Evolution

 
 
Reply Fri 29 Aug, 2008 08:50 am
This thread will follow news stories about attempts to undermine the teaching of evolution.

Quote:
New legal threat to teaching evolution in the US
(Amanda Gefter, New Scientist Magazine, July 9, 2008)

BARBARA FORREST knew the odds were stacked against her. "They had 50 or 60 people in the room," she says. Her opponents included lobbyists, church leaders and a crowd of home-schooled children. "They were wearing stickers, clapping, cheering and standing in the aisles." Those on Forrest's side numbered less than a dozen, including two professors from Louisiana State University, representatives from the Louisiana Association of Educators and campaigners for the continued separation of church and state.

That was on 21 May, when Forrest testified in the Louisiana state legislature on the dangers hidden in the state's proposed Science Education Act. She had spent weeks trying to muster opposition to the bill on the grounds that it would allow teachers and school boards across the state to present non-scientific alternatives to evolution, including ideas related to intelligent design (ID) - the proposition that life is too complicated to have arisen without the help of a supernatural agent.

The act is designed to slip ID in "through the back door", says Forrest, who is a professor of philosophy at Southeastern Louisiana University and an expert in the history of creationism. She adds that the bill's language, which names evolution along with global warming, the origins of life and human cloning as worthy of "open and objective discussion", is an attempt to misrepresent evolution as scientifically controversial.

Forrest's testimony notwithstanding, the bill was passed by the state's legislature - by a majority of 94 to 3 in the House and by unanimous vote in the Senate. On 28 June, Louisiana's Republican governor, Piyush "Bobby" Jindal, signed the bill into law. The development has national implications, not least because Jindal is rumoured to be on Senator John McCain's shortlist as a potential running mate in his bid for the presidency.

Born in 1971 to parents recently arrived from India, Jindal is a convert to Roman Catholicism and a Rhodes scholar - hardly the profile of a typical Bible-belt politician. Yet in a recent national television appearance he voiced approval for the teaching of ID alongside evolution. He also enjoys a close relationship with the Louisiana Family Forum (LFF), a lobbying group for the religious right whose mission statement includes "presenting biblical principles" in "centers of influence". It was the LFF which set the bill in motion earlier this year.

"We believe that to teach young people critical thinking skills you have to give them both sides of an issue," says Gene Mills, executive director of the LFF. When asked whether the new law fits with the organisation's religious agenda, Mills told New Scientist: "Certainly it's an extension of it."

The new legislation is the latest manoeuvre in a long-running war to challenge the validity of Darwinian evolution as an accepted scientific fact in American classrooms. Forrest played a pivotal role in the previous battle. It came to a head at a trial in 2005 when US district judge John E. Jones ruled against the Dover area school board in Pennsylvania, whose members had voted that students in high-school biology classes should be encouraged to explore alternatives to evolution and directed to textbooks on ID.

The Dover trial, during which Forrest presented evidence that ID was old-fashioned creationism by another name (New Scientist, 29 October 2005, p 6), revolved around the question of whether ID was science or religion. Jones determined it was the latter, and ruled in favour of the parents who challenged the Dover board on the basis of the provision for separation of church and state in the US constitution.

The strategy being employed in Louisiana by proponents of ID - including the Seattle-based Discovery Institute - is more subtle and potentially more difficult to challenge. Instead of trying to prove that ID is science, they have sought to bestow on teachers the right to introduce non-scientific alternatives to evolution under the banner of "academic freedom".

"Academic freedom is a great thing," says Josh Rosenau of the National Center for Science Education in Oakland, California. "But if you look at the American Association of University Professors' definition of academic freedom, it refers to the ability to do research and publish." This, he points out, is different to the job high-school teachers are supposed to do. "In high school, you're teaching mainstream science so students can go on to college or medical school, where you need that freedom to explore cutting-edge ideas. To apply 'academic freedom' to high school is a misuse of the term."

"It's very slick," says Forrest. "The religious right has co-opted the terminology of the progressive left... They know that phrase appeals to people."

The new usage began to permeate public consciousness earlier this year with the release of the documentary film Expelled: No intelligence allowed. Starring actor, game-show host and former Nixon speech-writer Ben Stein, the film argues that academic freedom is under attack in the US from atheist "Darwinists". The film's promoters teamed up with the Discovery Institute to set up the Academic Freedom Petition. Their website provides a "model academic freedom statute on evolution" to serve as a template for sympathetic legislators.

So far, representatives from six states have taken up the idea. In Florida, Missouri, South Carolina and Alabama, bills were introduced but failed. An academic freedom bill now in committee in Michigan is expected to stall there.

Louisiana is another story. A hub of creationist activism since the early 1980s, it was Louisiana that enacted the Balanced Treatment Act, which required that creationism be taught alongside evolution in schools. In a landmark 1987 case known as Edwards vs Aguillard, the US Supreme Court ruled the law unconstitutional, effectively closing the door on teaching "creation science" in public schools. ID was invented soon afterwards as a way of proffering creationist concepts without specific reference to God.

In 2006, the year following the Dover ruling, the Ouachita parish school board in northern Louisiana quietly initiated a new tactic, unanimously approving a science curriculum policy that stated: "Teachers shall be permitted to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and weaknesses of existing scientific theories pertinent to the course being taught." The idea that evolution has weaknesses, and is therefore not a solid scientific theory, is a recurring theme in ID-related literature. Not long afterwards, the assistant superintendent of the Ouachita parish school system, Frank Hoffman, was elected to the state House of Representatives and joined the House education committee. "I knew then that something was going to happen," says Forrest.

When Jindal was elected governor last year, the stage was set. The LFF approached Ben Nevers, a state senator, who agreed to introduce the Louisiana Academic Freedom Act on their behalf. "They believe that scientific data related to creationism should be discussed when dealing with Darwin's theory," Nevers told the Hammond Daily Star in April. The bill was later amended and renamed the Louisiana Science Education Act. Its final version includes a statement that the law should not be taken as promoting religion.

That way, those who wish to challenge Darwinian evolution have "plausible deniability" that this is intended to teach something unconstitutional, says Eric Rothschild of the Philadelphia-based law firm Pepper Hamilton, which represented the parents at the Dover trial. "They are better camouflaged now."

Supporters of the new law clearly hope that teachers and administrators who wish to raise alternatives to evolution in science classes will feel protected if they do so. The law expressly permits the use of "supplemental" classroom materials in addition to state-approved textbooks. The LFF is now promoting the use of online "add-ons" that put a creationist spin on the contents of various science texts in use across the state, and the Discovery Institute has recently produced Explore Evolution, a glossy text that offers the standard ID critiques of evolution (see "The evolution of creationist literature"). Unlike its predecessor Of Pandas and People, which fared badly during the Dover trial, it does not use the term "intelligent design".

Because the law allows individual boards and teachers to make additions to the science curriculum without clearance from a state authority, the responsibility will lie with parents to mount a legal challenge to anything that appears to be an infringement of the separation of church and state. "In Dover, there were parents and teachers willing to step forward and say, this is not OK," says Rosenau. "But here we're seeing that people are either fine with it or they don't want to say anything because they don't want to be ostracised in their community."

Even if a trial ensues, a victory by the plaintiffs will only mean that some specific supplementary material is ruled unconstitutional - not the law itself. Separate lawsuits will be needed to address each piece of suspicious supplementary material. "This encourages a lot of local brush fires that you have to deal with individually and that makes it very difficult," says Forrest. "This is done intentionally, to get this down to the local level. It's going to be very difficult to even know what's going on."

Ultimately, if a number of suits are successfully tried, a group like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) could take the law itself to court, citing various cases in which it was used to bring religious material into the classroom. Representatives from the ACLU and from Americans United for Separation of Church and State have already told Louisiana state officials that lawsuits will follow if the law is used for religious ends.

In the meantime, Forrest is working to inform teachers about the supplementary materials being made available. "The pressing need for the coming school year is to get the word out for what teachers need to be on alert for," she says.

As to a future Dover-style trial, this time on Forrest's home turf, "I'll be right there," she says, though it's not a prospect she relishes. "I'd like to think I won't have to do this for the rest of my life. Because believe me, I don't do it for fun. It's a duty."
  • Topic Stats
  • Top Replies
  • Link to this Topic
Type: Discussion • Score: 70 • Views: 537,184 • Replies: 13,729

 
neologist
 
  4  
Reply Fri 29 Aug, 2008 10:40 am
@wandeljw,
Don't get me wrong. I think creation studies belong in a non science curriculum.

But one might be tempted to opine that evolutionary theory should be quite able to defend itself in a science classroom.
wandeljw
 
  1  
Reply Fri 29 Aug, 2008 10:48 am
@neologist,
Hi Neologist!

In my opinion, evolution teaching is being hurt by what's going on OUTSIDE the classroom.
kuvasz
 
  2  
Reply Fri 29 Aug, 2008 10:50 am
@wandeljw,
this is the killer quote because it explains so much about the mentality of the truly ignorant
Quote:
We believe that to teach young people critical thinking skills you have to give them both sides of an issue," says Gene Mills, executive director of the LFF


it does not dawn on them that scientific studies, those using logic, rational, and evidence have concluded that the "other" side is incorrect.

the rest of the world stands back and looks at the US and shakes their collective heads as they teach their own children about real science and train themselves for the 21st century.
kuvasz
 
  1  
Reply Fri 29 Aug, 2008 10:59 am
@neologist,
Quote:
Don't get me wrong. I think creation studies belong in a non science curriculum.

But one might be tempted to opine that evolutionary theory should be quite able to defend itself in a science classroom


with that stance viz., being able to discuss in a high school class of 15 year olds that is virtually illiterate about the fundamentals of chemistry, biology, genetics, and statistics, you expect children to understand how evolution is supported?

god help us that algebra was not banned by the bible or kids would refuse to take tests about why Y = MX + B
Below viewing threshold (view)
Below viewing threshold (view)
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Fri 29 Aug, 2008 10:51 pm
@wandeljw,
Quote:
This thread will follow news stories about attempts to undermine the teaching of evolution.

You going for a new record thread Wand? Smile

0 Replies
 
Finn dAbuzz
 
  3  
Reply Sat 30 Aug, 2008 12:23 am
@kuvasz,
You (kuvasz) argue beyond the point of reason.

Evolution should be taught as a fundamental truth, but I would think that you, of all people, would be uncomfortable with an institution that doesn't permit people (especially young students) to question so-called fundamental truths.

neologists point is quite valid.

Whether you or I like it, there are challenges to the theory of evolution. Whether or not we agree that they are feeble challenges is immaterial. Obviously the proponents of Creationism or even Intelligent Design are not a small fringe of extremists. That this subject is debated repeatedly in this forum and in other venues across the nation is proof of this contention.

The theory of evolution can and should speak for itself. We don't need Knights of The Order of The Beagle to enforce its acceptence as fact.

Science teachers should teach evolution for what it is: our absolutely best estimate of the way things work. They should not be compelled to teach competing minority opinions unless those opinion have scientifc foundation.
Creationism does not. Intelligent Design, with which I disagree, may.

This does not mean however that we should treat anyone who disagrees with what you or I contend is an ignorant rube and has no right to question orthodoxy.

If we value skepticism and intellectual debate, even the subjects we hold dear must be opened to debate. If they are sound, they will prevail.

wandeljw
 
  1  
Reply Sat 30 Aug, 2008 07:35 am
Quote:
McCain's VP Wants Creationism Taught in School
(By Brandon Keim, Wired Science News, August 29, 2008)

Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin wants creationism taught in science classes.

In a 2006 gubernatorial debate, the soon-to-be governor of Alaska said of evolution and creation education, "Teach both. You know, don't be afraid of education. Healthy debate is so important, and it's so valuable in our schools. I am a proponent of teaching both."

Asked by the Anchorage Daily News whether she believed in evolution, Palin declined to answer, but said that "I don't think there should be a prohibition against debate if it comes up in class."

"I'm not going to pretend I know how all this came to be," she said.

The battle between evolution and creationism -- specifically, Christian creationism -- in U.S. classrooms dates back to the 1925 Scopes trial, when a Tennessee court banned the teaching of evolution. Since then, state and federal courts have repeatedly rejected so-called creation science in public schools, calling it religion rather than science.

The latest courtroom defeat came in the 2005 Kitzmiller v. Dover case, when the superficially religion-neutral theory of intelligent design was classified as religious creationism. The Supreme Court ruled in 1987 that teaching creationism violated the separation of church and state.

Nevertheless, pro-creationism education initiatives driven by Christian conservatives have flourished, and defenders of evolution -- and, more broadly, scientific integrity -- worry that Palin's pick will give momentum to this church-over-state push.

"It's unfortunate McCain would pick someone who shares those particular anti-science views, but it's not a surprise," said Barbara Forrest, a Southeastern Lousiana University philosophy professor and prominent critic of creationist science. "She's a choice that pleases the religious right. And the religious right has been the chief force against teaching evolution."

In February, Florida's Board of Education narrowly defeated a bill calling for evolution to be balanced by "alternatives." The language is widely regarded as a euphemism for creationism engineered by the pro-intelligent design Discovery Institute, whose "wedge strategy" calls for the gradual dilution of classroom evolution and its eventual replacement by "a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions."

Armed with courtroom-friendly language, Texas is currently considering creationism-friendly revisions to its own curriculum. In June, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal passed the Louisiana Science Education Act, encouraging schools to provide alternative critiques of global warming, human cloning and evolution. Similar initiatives were defeated in South Carolina, Florida, Alabama, Missouri and Michigan.

Palin's statements track with the official Alaska Republican Party platform, which support creation science and intelligent design by name, and says that "evidence disputing the theory should also be presented."

According to Fordham Institute science education expert Lawrence Lerner, Palin's nomination is less worrisome in terms of education than the broad relationship of science and government.

"In the direct sense, vice presidents don't have much to do with what goes on in classrooms. But a person who's a creationist doesn't understand science and technology at all," said Lerner. "It doesn't bode well for science, and doesn't bode well for interaction between science and government."

President Bush has been publicly skeptical of evolution, while Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama has professed support. "I think it's a mistake to try to cloud the teachings of science with theories that frankly don't hold up to scientific inquiry," he said in April.

John McCain's campaign did not respond in time for publication.

When asked about Palin potentially being a step removed from the White House, Forrest responded, "We'd have a creationist as President. But that's not new -- we've already got one."
0 Replies
 
squinney
 
  2  
Reply Sat 30 Aug, 2008 07:53 am
I find it interesting that those pushing for creationism or ID to be taught in public schools, homeschool their own children.

If creationism or ID were to be taught, would they send their kids to public school or continue to homeschool? The numerous homeschoolers I have known would continue to homeschool where they have control over what the kids learn.

Christian schools are available for those that want their children to learn creationism or ID. As long as that is what their kids are learning, what's their concern about making everyone elses kids learn the same thing?
Brandon9000
 
  2  
Reply Sat 30 Aug, 2008 08:13 am
@neologist,
neologist wrote:

Don't get me wrong. I think creation studies belong in a non science curriculum.

But one might be tempted to opine that evolutionary theory should be quite able to defend itself in a science classroom.

A good reason to teach voodoo in physics class.
0 Replies
 
rosborne979
 
  3  
Reply Sat 30 Aug, 2008 08:13 am
Quote:
A good reason to teach voodoo in physics class.

And Alchemy in chemistry class.
0 Replies
 
kuvasz
 
  1  
Reply Sat 30 Aug, 2008 09:06 am
@Finn dAbuzz,
FINN SAID
Quote:
You (kuvasz) argue beyond the point of reason.

Evolution should be taught as a fundamental truth, but I would think that you, of all people, would be uncomfortable with an institution that doesn't permit people (especially young students) to question so-called fundamental truths.


Discussions as to particular details of national selection ARE done constantly, but they are done so within the halls of higher academia by people who already have shown proficiency in such subjects. You might also demand that 14 year olds question Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle without knowing the calculus. But that ignores the reality that requires a set of information and proficiency of sophisticated knowledge to understand the nature of the subject. You might as well argue that all grammatic rules be questioned by those who don't even know the alphabet let alone words in a particular language.

To show that the world is not 6000 years old demands one to understand geology and chemistry; to understand natural selection one is demanded to understand gene theory and statistics.

I know of no group that questions the principles of geometry, trigonometry, nor algebra, and the reason is that none of those diametrically oppose those tenets of religions based upon Bronze Age scientific knowledge. It is only when science undermines religious teaching that science is questioned and usually by people who have a fiduciary interest in maintaining control over others by the religion.

I point out that in the 20th century the only instance when science bended to social pressure and threw logic and rationalism to the wind, it set back science for a generation in that nation and helped destroy that nation's social structure as a result of its policies (see Lysenkoism in the USSR ).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lysenkoism

FINN SAID
Quote:
This does not mean however that we should treat anyone who disagrees with what you or I contend is an ignorant rube and has no right to question orthodoxy.


You might note that I live in a country that allows me to call a moron a moron, as well as ask such moron to whom I responded to stand and deliver the data upon which he based his attack on evolution. That he failed to do so proves my description of him.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  2  
Reply Sat 30 Aug, 2008 09:12 am
@squinney,
I demand the right to teach evolution during church services!


I demand that every preacher have a sceptic getting equal time in the pulpit!


I demand that an evolution-mobile follow the Pope-mobile on its every outing!
wandeljw
 
  2  
Reply Mon 1 Sep, 2008 03:23 pm
Greg Laden, an anthropology professor at the University of Minnesota, has this advice for science teachers when the topic is evolution:
Quote:
The student is talking about C14 dating and how it "has problems." But you are a life science teacher and can't think of a single point in your class that you really touch on C14. Dating in the evolution section does not involve C14. This is for later time periods, more in the area of archaeology, and you know nothing about it. So you brush off the question but are left with an uneasy feeling.

Next class, probably just after class, the same student, again at a moment that gives you zero warning and usually no time to think of how to respond, mentions something about the Laws of Thermodynamics. This question you find more interesting and possibly even useful as the starting point of a "teachable moment..." The nature of life itself includes the fact that life works upstream against entropy. That one utterly mind-blowing aspect of life is really all you need to define life itself. If that was the only thing you used to define life, you would have very few non-life entities or events accidentally included. If you can truly understand ... I mean really, really truly at a detailed level understand .... how the heck life works against the gradient of entropy, then you will understand a LOT (like, at the MA level, at least) of what is going on. To get a believable and reasonable level of understanding of this, you must get more than just basic cell function ... it is not good enough to just say "The mitochondria are the tiny little powerhouses of the cell" because you have not explained how that works. You need to know about ATP and stuff. Really, you even need to know why cells use ATP as energy but none of the other obvious forms of energy that they could use ... the phylogenetic effect at a very basic level indeed.

...And so on....

But those thoughts and other thoughts were only a digression in your own mind, because, you then crawl out of your private thinking place and the inquiring student comes back into focus ... standing there being jostled amid a stream of exiting students, gazing innocently at you, waiting to see what you are going to say about thermodynamics ... and your brain says ... "hey, this is not about thermodynamics and the wonders of the Krebs Cycle. It's about ... it's about .... creationism...."

Oh crap.


Now, the creationist reading this will say, "Aha! The teacher is annoyed at the creationist, and the great Doctor of Evolutionary Biology is disturbed that such difficult questions come from the mouth's of babes ... these simple honest questions that are in fact impossible to answer! The Evilutionists would prefer if these questions were never even asked...."


BZZZZZZZZGGGGKKKKKZZZZZTTTG

That was the "oh please, cut out the crap" buzzer going off. The annoying creationist's voices must now stop ... after a week of feverish delirium I don't need that crap.. This is my head, and your voices need to go somewhere else... ... OK, that's better.


Back to the issue at hand... This student is not an innocent child asking legitimate questions. Child? Yes. Innocent? That needs, in my opinion, to be demonstrated, but from a teacher's perspective, OK, you can assume innocent until proven nefarious. But wait and see what happens. Yesterday it was C14, today it was Thermodynamics. Tomorrow it will be intelligent design at the cellular level, later on it will be missing transitional forms, and so on. The student might or might not tell you ... perhaps as an admission, perhaps as a proud statement ("See, I researched this.") that these questions are mostly coming from the Answers in Genesis web site.

Did this student find the web site through a private initiative, or perhaps by accident? Did a parent point this student to the web site? Did a Sunday school teacher or pastor tell the student about it? All of these things tend to happen, but the latter two are the most common. There is a pretty good chance that this student has been put up to this, but most likely willingly. Little 10th graders can be the strongest crusaders. Jeanne d'Arc was in tenth grade, if I remember correctly. So this is not going to end quietly.

The student will eventually start to bring these issues up during class, not just after class or before class. Most likely the other students in the class will get annoyed and protest to the student directly ... they are, after all, there to learn the biology for their own reasons (like getting a high school diploma or passing a test or whatever) and regardless of their own religious views, they are not interested in this disruption. Even if they did want to get a creationist or religious perspective, they probably don't want to hear it from this kid even outside of the class. Jeanne d'Arc might have been a tenth grader, but most tenth graders, regardless of the level of their zealotry, are not Jeanne d'Arc. Their discourse does not tend to capture the audience and they are unlikely to make a credible case that they have been visited by The Virgin.

Teacher, listen to this: There is a wide range of possible responses to the situation outlined above (or some other similar situation). Only some of them are legal. Only some of them are ethical. There are things you can do that may make perfect sense but that will significantly enhance the probability of your school or district being successfully sued.

Anyone who tells you there is an easy way to handle this is misinformed.

When Pastor Bob arms your student with creationist claims and sends him or her into your classroom, he is creating not just a disruption or an annoyance, but a professionally dangerous situation. Most likely he knows this and is doing this to generate trouble. He is, obviously, using this child as a pawn in a game that he feels he is prepared to play and maybe win. He knows he is getting points with god by doing this (as does the pawn-child) and he cares not one bit about you or your career. He sees disruption of your science class, and thus of the science education of the other students in your class, as a good thing. This may, indeed, be his primary objective other than his own salvation from sin.

While it is true that almost no teachers are prepared through formal training to handle this sort of situation without risking career or the school's legal budget, or losing control of the class, or losing the pawn-child, most teachers can avoid trouble by keeping a few guidelines in mind.

You can't talk about religion in your science classroom. This means you can't have a conversation about creationism in your classroom. You may have to pull the student aside and indicate that this discussion will not happen. The student will object, indicating that "intelligent design" is not creationism. You must very firmly indicate to the student that according to the current, standing law, intelligent design IS creationism, and creationism IS religion, and religion cannot be discussed in any way whatsoever in a science classroom without risk of breaking the law. It may be necessary to indicate to the student that continued attempts to bring this conversation into the classroom have to be seen as a disciplinary problem.

Let's talk about that angle for a moment. Have you ever had a student who will not stop talking about sex or related anatomy whenever an opportunity arises in class... blurting things out and disrupting class? Think about that scenario for a moment. The student is not special ed or special needs. The student blurts out a profanity and/or sexual or anatomical reference four or five times per class, giggles with his buddies, attempts to recruit those around him into this shenanigans even if you keep moving him, etc. This is a disciplinary issue, and you have ways of addressing it as a teacher.

A student who has been informed that there will be no discussion of creationist claims from AIG (Answers in Genesis) or anywhere else in the classroom, that ID is creationism, etc. but continues to do so is no different. As a teacher, and as a particular teacher in a particular classroom, you can't be told by me or anyone else how to deal with this, but you must deal with it properly. A chat with a dean/assistant principal, councilors, etc. is probably in order.

And if anyone in the admin, your department head or any colleagues tell you to lighten up, that the students can express their religious views in class because of the first amendment, etc. etc., then you are on the next level of difficulties, beyond what we can do here in this one blog post. Seek outside help. Drop me a line. Contact NCSE. Get a lawyer.

I want to end with a very specific idea that I've seen suggested many times among teachers, and it is something that you CAN NOT do. You can't do this. There are books out there, such as and especially Ken Miller's "Finding Darwin's God" that deal with the religion/science interface in the area of evolution. I have seen it suggested that teachers can recommend a book like "Finding Darwin's God" to students or parents. You can not do this. Miller's book is about reconciling religion ... and a particular subset of religion, a particular area of Christianity ... with science. As a science teacher, in the context of a science classroom, if you recommend this book, you would be promoting religion in general, and a specific religion in particular. It may sound like a good idea, and it may seem perfectly sensible and innocent. But you would be violating the Establishment Clause. To my knowledge, this exact scenario has not been tested in the courts, but I don't think you want to be the teacher on the witness stand when it is.

(Personally, I think if you take this tact, you should lose your job.)

The truth is that the legal protections supporting the teaching of real evolutionary biology in the classroom do not arise because real evolutionary biology is ... ah ... real, and creationism is not. The importance and veracity of the science itself is only part of the argument, even though it should be, and I think could be, the only argument. We don't have slack-jawed yokels sneaking onto the school board so that they can force Language Arts teachers to tell the students that "i aint got no George Strait tunes, you gotta brang soma his CD's over, ye'hear?" or to insist that the shop teacher tell the students "you know, these safety devices ... especially the ones on electric saws ... really are a pain in the ass, so the first thing we do every semester is learn how to disable the safety devices" and so on. Those are arguments about quality, and you can make arguments about quality all you want regarding life sciences in the classroom and no one will care even a little. Creationism is not allowed in the classroom because it is religion, not because it is stoopid. Which is a great convenience for you as a life science teacher, but rather shameful, at the broader social and political level, when you think about it.
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Tue 2 Sep, 2008 07:27 am
An interesting tack wandel. I dont see many new arguments , only retreads of previous ones.

In Pa, this year, we have a "sunset proposition" for the entire science curriculum. It appears that, as other states are sinking into a morass of voodoo science, PA is strengthening its science curriculum to be totally consistent with scientific method and be"evidence" based. This will kick out many of the bogus areas of those that wish to inject their beliefs into many areas of high school science (Including the anthropogenics involved with global warming).


There is a big differencebetween teaching Creationim in context with the historical development of scientific thought and teaching it as "truth". The world in which gungasnake lives is one that has no need for systematics in its sciences. Hes happy enough with bogus myths and fairy tales.

Science moves ahead with new findings and discoveries every day. On another thread, I saw that gunga is cherry picking his quotes from what was said in 1974. Lesse, thats just over 30 years ago, which, in the worlds of science, is another era entirely.

In 1974 :

a Continental drift was not yet fully proven
b ALL the major intermediate fossils between classes had not yet been discovered
c Advances in MS tech hadnt allowed for the accurate determination of multiples of unstable isotopes
d genomics, the understanding of gene associations, and the relationships of same genes in different phyla was not yetr undertood well
e "form follows function" cladistics wasnt even a tool used by paleobiologists

Yet, even then there was enough data and evidence available to show that there was no theory that competes with natural selection.
wandeljw
 
  2  
Reply Tue 2 Sep, 2008 07:48 am
@farmerman,
Welcome to the thread, farmerman! Smile
0 Replies
 
wandeljw
 
  2  
Reply Tue 2 Sep, 2008 01:48 pm
Quote:
Gov. Tim Pawlenty on Why He Supports Creationism
(by Matthew C. Nisbet, ScienceBlogs.com, September 2, 2008)

The McCain choice of Sarah Palin has made creationism a topic that various GOP spokespeople are now being asked by the press to weigh in on. From the interviews, an emerging talking point appears to be that "it's a local decision." On Sunday, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty was asked by Tom Brokaw about Palin's position and his personal views on the issue. Transcript below:

MR. BROKAW: Okay. In the governor's race, she refused to be specific about her views on Creationism versus evolution. But, as I understand it, she did say that she thought that the two subjects should be taught side-by-side in public schools. Do you think that's a good idea?

GOV. PAWLENTY: I saw her comments on it yesterday, and I thought they were appropriate, which is, you know, let's -- if there are competing theories, and they are credible, her view of it was, according to the comments in the newspaper, allow them all to be presented or allow them both to be presented so students could be exposed to both or more and have a chance to be exposed to the various theories and make up their own minds.

MR. BROKAW: In the vast scientific community, do you think that Creationism has the same weight as evolution, and at a time in American education when we are in a crisis when it comes to science, that there ought to be parallel tracks for Creationism versus evolution in the teaching?

GOV. PAWLENTY: In the scientific community, it seems like intelligent design is dismissed -- not entirely, there are a lot of scientists who would make the case that it is appropriate to be taught and appropriate to be demonstrated, but in terms of the curriculum in the schools in Minnesota, we've taken the approach that that's a local decision. I know Senator Palin -- or Governor Palin -- has said intelligent design is something that she thinks should be taught along with evolution in the schools, and I think that's appropriate. My personal view is that's a local decision --

MR. BROKAW: Given equal weight.

GOV. PAWLENTY: -- of the local school board.

MR. BROKAW: And you would recommend it be given equal weight?

GOV. PAWLENTY: We've said in Minnesota, in my view, this is a local decision. Intelligent design is something that, in my view, is plausible and credible and something that I personally believe in but, more importantly, from an educational and scientific standpoint, it should be decided by local school boards at the local school district level.
rosborne979
 
  2  
Reply Tue 2 Sep, 2008 03:01 pm
@wandeljw,
Quote:
Gov. Tim Pawlenty on Why He Supports Creationism
(by Matthew C. Nisbet, ScienceBlogs.com, September 2, 2008)

GOV. PAWLENTY: We've said in Minnesota, in my view, this is a local decision. Intelligent design is something that, in my view, is plausible and credible and something that I personally believe in but, more importantly, from an educational and scientific standpoint, it should be decided by local school boards at the local school district level.

What IS and ISN'T science should not be determined by political process, it should be (and is) determined by the scientific community itself.

But more importantly, what IS and ISN'T allowed in a public school science class is restricted by the US Constitution. It's a local decision only so long as the decision isn't unconstitutional (which ID has been determined to be).

 

Related Topics

 
  1. Forums
  2. » Latest Challenges to the Teaching of Evolution
Copyright © 2017 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.07 seconds on 12/16/2017 at 10:33:40