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Latest Challenges to the Teaching of Evolution

 
 
farmerman
 
  2  
Reply Tue 16 Sep, 2008 04:50 am
@spendius,
Quote:
Two questions-

1--How many teachers are required to teach evolution?

2- What qualifications do they need to be approved in interviews?


1. silliness spendi. I assume you can answer this question without raising too much of a wake.

2. This isnt a court proceeding so theres no voire dire or "test" for competency. Ive seen Creationists being interviewed by newspapers as representatives of science. Interviewers arent arbiters of competency, they merely want sound bites or quotes for print.
wandeljw
 
  2  
Reply Tue 16 Sep, 2008 08:39 am
UK UPDATE
Quote:
Royal Society to be called to account for creationist view
(Mark Henderson, The Times, September 16, 2008)

Britain's national academy of science is to be asked to explain its views on creationism in classrooms by a senior MP “horrified” at the reported views of its education director.

Professor Michael Reiss, of the Royal Society, suggested that science teachers should treat creationist beliefs “not as a misconception but as a world-view”. His comments have alarmed Phil Willis, the chairman of the Commons Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Committee.

“I am at the Royal Society on Wednesday and I will be raising this very issue,” he told The Times yesterday. “I was horrified to hear these views and I reject them totally. They are a step too far and they fly in the face of what science is about. I think if his [Professor Reiss's] views are as mentioned they may be incompatible with his position.”

Mr Willis's intervention follows uproar among senior Royal Society fellows at the opinions of Professor Reiss, a professor of science education at the Institute of Education in London who is also an ordained Church of England clergyman.

Sir Richard Roberts, who won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1993, is organising a letter from other Nobel laureates calling for his dismissal. The Royal Society hierarchy is standing by Professor Reiss, insisting that he has been misinterpreted.

The furore followed a speech given by Professor Reiss to the British Association for the Advancement of Science on Thursday, in which he said teachers should accept that they are unlikely to change the minds of pupils with creationist beliefs.“I realised that simply banging on about evolution and natural selection didn't lead some pupils to change their minds at all,” he said. “There is much to be said for allowing students to raise any doubts - hardly a revolutionary idea in science teaching - and doing one's best to have a genuine discussion.”

A spokesman for the society said: “Michael's views are the views of the Royal Society. Our position is that if young people put forward a creationist perspective in the classroom, it should be discussed.”
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Sep, 2008 09:46 am
@farmerman,
Quote:
1. silliness spendi. I assume you can answer this question without raising too much of a wake.

2. This isnt a court proceeding so theres no voire dire or "test" for competency. Ive seen Creationists being interviewed by newspapers as representatives of science. Interviewers arent arbiters of competency, they merely want sound bites or quotes for print.


What an ignorant and petulant response.

I thought you would know the first answer and I meant job interviews in the second. I don't care about media. They are sold out lock stock and barrel. I know what they are up to if you don't.

Put me on Ignore ffs.
0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  2  
Reply Wed 17 Sep, 2008 05:24 am
@wandeljw,
Quote:
A spokesman for the society said: “Michael's views are the views of the Royal Society. Our position is that if young people put forward a creationist perspective in the classroom, it should be discussed


This does not seem too unreasonable, besides, if a question were raised by some Creationist student, addressing it with the evidence at hand would go far to shine some light on the Creationists and ID mumbo jumbo.
rosborne979
 
  2  
Reply Wed 17 Sep, 2008 06:49 am
@farmerman,
Quote:
Re: wandeljw (Post 3403577)
Quote:
A spokesman for the society said: “Michael's views are the views of the Royal Society. Our position is that if young people put forward a creationist perspective in the classroom, it should be discussed

This does not seem too unreasonable, besides, if a question were raised by some Creationist student, addressing it with the evidence at hand would go far to shine some light on the Creationists and ID mumbo jumbo.

Would we feel the same if young people put forward an alchemist view of chcmistry in the classroom? Or an astrology view of human behavior or the voodoo theory of zombies?

There are a billion different views on everything in the world. I suppose it just depends on what you wish to spend your time talking about.

Has Creationism elevated itself above insanity simply by being the cultural topic of the day?

wandeljw
 
  2  
Reply Wed 17 Sep, 2008 08:23 am
UK UPDATE (Breaking News)
Quote:
Royal Society's Michael Reiss resigns over creationism row
(Lewis Smith and Mark Henderson, The Times, September 17, 2008)

The Royal Society’s embattled director of education resigned last night, days after causing uproar among scientists by appearing to endorse the teaching of creationism.

Michael Reiss, a biologist and ordained Church of England clergyman, agreed to step down from his position with the national academy of science after its officers decided that his comments had damaged its reputation.

His resignation comes after a campaign by senior Royal Society Fellows who were angered by Professor Reiss’s suggestion that science teachers should treat creationist beliefs “not as a misconception but as a world view”.

Sir Richard Roberts, who won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1993, described such views as outrageous, and organised a letter to the society’s president, Lord Rees of Ludlow, demanding that Professor Reiss be sacked. Phil Willis MP, the chairman of the Commons Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Committee, was due to meet Royal Society officers today to demand an explanation of Professor Reiss’s comments.

The Royal Society stood by the scientist initially, insisting that he had not departed from its official policy and that his remarks had been misinterpreted. Many senior figures, however, felt that Professor Reiss had been naive, at best, to make statements that could easily be seen to back teaching creationism as if it were science, and should not have done so while speaking in his Royal Society role.

The society said in a statement: “Some of Professor Michael Reiss’s recent comments, on the issue of creationism in schools, while speaking as the Royal Society’s director of education, were open to misinterpretation. While it was not his intention, this has led to damage to the society’s reputation. As a result, Professor Reiss and the Royal Society have agreed that, in the best interests of the society, he will step down immediately as director of education " a part-time post he held on secondment. He is to return, full-time, to his position as Professor of Science Education at the Institute of Education.”

The resignation has divided scientists and administrators. While some welcomed the move, others felt that Professor Reiss had raised an important point and should have been supported. Lord Winston, Professor of Science and Society at Imperial College, London, who is not a Royal Society Fellow, said: “I fear that the Royal Society may have only diminished itself. This individual was arguing that we should engage with and address public misconceptions about science " something that the Royal Society should applaud.”

Mr Willis said: “It is appropriate for the Royal Society to have dealt with this problem swiftly and effectively, rather than provoking continued debate. I hope the society will now stop burying its head and start taking on creationism.”

The furore came after a speech given by Professor Reiss to the British Association for the Advancement of Science last week, in which he said that teachers should accept that they were unlikely to change the minds of pupils with creationist beliefs.

“My experience after having tried to teach biology for 20 years is if one simply gives the impression that such children are wrong, then they are not likely to learn much about the science,” he said.

“I realised that simply banging on about evolution and natural selection didn’t lead some pupils to change their minds at all. Just because something lacks scientific support doesn’t seem to me a sufficient reason to omit it from the science lesson . . . There is much to be said for allowing students to raise any doubts they have " hardly a revolutionary idea in science teaching " and doing one’s best to have a genuine discussion.”

The Royal Society said that “creationism has no scientific basis and should not be part of the science curriculum. However, if a young person raises creationism in a science class, teachers should be in a position to explain why evolution is a sound scientific theory and why creationism is not, in any way, scientific.”

Chris Higgins, Vice-Chancellor of Durham University, said: “While I have no doubt that Michael Reiss’s comments have been misinterpreted by parts of the media, I think that the fact that he has generously stood down allows the Royal Society to clarify the robust position on this issue. There should be no room for doubt that creationism is completely unsupportable as a theory.”

Professor Reiss was not available for comment.
farmerman
 
  4  
Reply Wed 17 Sep, 2008 09:23 am
@rosborne979,
Quote:
Would we feel the same if young people put forward an alchemist view of chcmistry in the classroom? Or an astrology view of human behavior or the voodoo theory of zombies?

There are a billion different views on everything in the world. I suppose it just depends on what you wish to spend your time talking about.

Has Creationism elevated itself above insanity simply by being the cultural topic of the day?
Deny it as we would like, the Creationists represent a substantial minority worldview and being able to successfully dismiss their "evidence" should never be avoided unless, by such avoidance, we confer some sort of credibility to it.
I dont see alchemy or astrology being similarly determined to push their noses beneath the science tent.
I dont have any qualms at dealing with sincere but incorrectly based questions by kids whove been taught by Creationist parents and teachers. If nothing else, itd be a way to try to convince the kids that they should consider another career path that allows mythology as its basis of practice. (CArtooning perhaps).


As you see, Ive modified my position a bit from being a strict "Constructionist" to someone who welcomes open debate as long as it leads to a conclusion that is evidence based. Im not sure where I should be wrt to high school curricula because Id have to insist that teachers be fully trained in their science rasther than merely be trained in the "art of teaching" with some elective courses in science. I guess Id lean toward what we do in many universities wherein a teaching certificate is conferred in a BS/MeD combined degree. Herein the candidate earns a BS in a science first, then they get an MEd added on. Its a 5 year (or 4 year with electives only chosen from a core of the sciences)

I stand willing to defend my position. Im not necessarilly "married " to it but its rather compelling to my way of thinking. Ive had several Creationist kids come all the way through high school and then want to become geologists (with a plan to "rearrange" the science to their worldsview. Weve been able to convince most of them of the accuracy of evidence based science. To those we didnt convince, we were able to convince them that a BS in geo is not in their best interests unless they wish to go to Liberty or some other Christian Fundamentalist College for follow on work. Close order, one on one discussions are quite different than posting on a BB . The kids reluctantly see the fraud that underlies Creationist thinking
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Wed 17 Sep, 2008 09:26 am
@wandeljw,
Im saddened that he had to capitulate in this fashion. Further, Im disappointed in the Nobel LAureates who, by being staidly commited to their positions , ahve not done science much good after all. They will merely feed the Creationi9st web sites that Reiss was "unilaterally dismissed " for trying to expose truth.
0 Replies
 
wandeljw
 
  2  
Reply Wed 17 Sep, 2008 09:28 am
@farmerman,
You have some good points, farmerman. However, some people are concerned about science classes being disrupted by creationist propaganda (posing as "questions").
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Wed 17 Sep, 2008 10:51 am
It looks like Professor Lewis Wolpert has been reading A2K. He has announced that "Creationism is based on faith and has nothing to do with science, and it should not be taught in science classes."

In The Sunday Times too. We are trend setters at the cutting edge eh?
0 Replies
 
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Wed 17 Sep, 2008 01:26 pm
@wandeljw,
He made one good point.

Quote:
I dont see alchemy or astrology being similarly determined to push their noses beneath the science tent.


I hope ros picks up on it. I think it was fm's intention.

At least fm seems to have realised that the enemy has more than bows and arrows.
0 Replies
 
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Wed 17 Sep, 2008 02:23 pm
@farmerman,
fm wrote-

Quote:
As you see, Ive modified my position a bit from being a strict "Constructionist" to someone who welcomes open debate as long as it leads to a conclusion that is evidence based.


There is evidence that nothing existed until words were discovered to describe it. The tree falling in the jungle argument. The bee, for example, was fully formed and ready to go when it was discovered to be a bee and not a wasp.

Such a discovery presupposes a being coming to self-consciousness which is a new thing. Can that be imagined as "having evolved". And what can be said to have "existed" before that. Before the idea of existence itself existed.
"In the beginning was the word".

If it can't be imagined to have evolved, the intelligent designer is a candidate for the "story". And the need for a "story" is a function of a being with self-consciousness. The fact that our particular story is a mite fantastical due to the state of things when it was set down in language is really neither here nor there. It's a red herring. It's a bit like telling a kid who is deemed too young to be told his Pa poked his Ma on the canteen table that a stork brought him in a white sling held in its beak.

Or showing artists impressions and video fantasies of the Big Bang or what happens in the atom, assuming there are atoms and not just points of force which cause things to happen we can detect, or what happens when the protons collide at CERN. At these extremes photographic plates might not be as useful as we think they are.

Although someone said that the physicists will all disappear to their villas in Bermuda. When The Bible was codified one supposes that the ones who do disappeared into their palaces.

It looks to have been a successful story. So far at least. The sun may now set outside the British Empire but it never sets inside the Christian Empire.

And the story needs must be saleable. The ones who do made it up and the ones it is done to believe it. A distinction I am very well aware that Americans are loathe to allow because they hate to think of themselves as the ones to whom it is done. Which makes it even easier to do it to them.

The atheists have no empire. They never will have.

Once it is supposed that an intelligent designer created self-consciousness it is a simple matter to suppose It had the power to do anything. And that while a billionth of a second after the Big Bang can be imagined by our puny intelligence a billionth of a second before it cannot because that was outside time itself. And space.

So-as I see it--we are nowhere intellectually. Then the functionality of the story is the only matter of substance and those who tamper with the story enough to undermine its essence are risking subverting that substance. Playing with fire is not too strenuous a phrase in that respect.

You are watching bank robbing by amoral people right before your eyes. Using a pen. And the robbers get to keep the dough even though we know who they all are.

I often used to tell people who were celebrating some big day that it was just another day in the life of Joe Egg. Before the Creation mythology there was nothing else but Joe Eggs. I don't do it now. I realised that me preening my scientific credentials was an insufficient excuse to spoil their fun. To which I now join in.

0 Replies
 
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Wed 17 Sep, 2008 02:31 pm
How would you define a wedding scientifically?

How did lingerie shops evolve?

Unless you can provide answers to simple straighforward questions like that I don't see you as having a leg to stand on.
0 Replies
 
rosborne979
 
  2  
Reply Wed 17 Sep, 2008 03:58 pm
@farmerman,
Quote:
I dont see alchemy or astrology being similarly determined to push their noses beneath the science tent.

I agree. That's what I meant by...
Quote:
Has Creationism elevated itself above insanity simply by being the cultural topic of the day?

Even though Creationism has become the cultural insanity of the moment, I think we need to be very careful about how we respond to it, and where we respond to it.

The realities of human culture and society should not be, and need not be avoided. However, public education, and in particular scientific disciplines need to be able to avoid endless distractions in order to complete the curriculum. Let's look at the non-creationist students in a science class and ask ourselves if it's fair to them to have their class time wasted by non-science discussions.

Creationists have succeeded in creating a cultural issue. But science education needs to reflect the same focus and rigor which goes into the scientific methodology itself, otherwise we are being inconsistent in our application of the methodologies which we claim to trust.

If Creationists succeed in derailing the process of science education by virtue of cultural confusion then we will have done a disservice not only to the people who wish to learn science, but to the nature of science itself.

spendius
 
  1  
Reply Wed 17 Sep, 2008 06:00 pm
@rosborne979,
ros wrote-

Quote:
If Creationists succeed in derailing the process of science education by virtue of cultural confusion then we will have done a disservice not only to the people who wish to learn science, but to the nature of science itself.


They couldn't possibly derail the process of scientific education for anybody of a scientific bent. No chance. You are talking about people pretending to have a scientific bent. Such as your silly self.
0 Replies
 
wandeljw
 
  3  
Reply Thu 18 Sep, 2008 08:42 am
NEW SCHOOL BOARD CONTROVERSY IN NORTH CAROLINA
Quote:
No place for creationism in science class, state says
(By Ana Ribeiro, Wilmington Star-News, September 17, 2008)

Keep creationism out of science class, the state school system says.

At its meeting Tuesday, the Brunswick County school board began discussions on teaching creationism alongside evolution " something all four board members present showed a strong interest in. The talk began after Joel Fanti, a parent and graduate of the school system, told the board that he considered it a problem to teach evolution as a fact and that science teachers should include creationism in the curriculum, as well.

The audience applauded. The school board and staff said they would research whether creationism is allowed in the classroom.

But neither creationism nor the related “intelligent design,” which says life forms are so complex only a higher power could have created them, may be taught as a required course of study, Edd Dunlap, science section chief for the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, said Wednesday. These are considered religious teachings and may not be taught in science class or as fact, although they may be included as part of an elective, such as a course on religion or philosophy, he said.

While evolution is a course of study that must be taught in public schools, based on national standards, creationism is not, Dunlap said. Brunswick, New Hanover and Pender counties all follow the evolution curriculum.

“If you’re teaching something not in the standards, you’re not teaching what students need to be assessed on,” Dunlap said.

The Brunswick County school system offers a Bible as Literature course in high school, but it’s not being taught this year because no students signed up for it, according to administrators.

School board member Jimmy Hobbs expressed outrage on Tuesday about the restriction on Bibles in schools and the teaching of evolution, a concept he deems atheistic, without including creationism.

But things have changed since the notorious Scopes “Monkey Trial” of 1925, when high school biology teacher John Scopes was convicted of illegally teaching evolution in his Tennessee classroom.

Dunlap mentioned the 1987 case Edwards v. Aguillard, when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Louisiana’s mandate that evolution could not be taught unless accompanied by creationism, ruling the state’s act an unconstitutional endorsement of religion. He also recalls the Dover, Pa., case of 2005, when a federal judge forbade that school system from teaching “intelligent design” in the classroom.

That doesn’t mean the long, convoluted national debate on teaching evolution vs. creationism in schools is dying down. Some states still try to insert creationism or “intelligent design” in the science curriculum, and phenomena such as the Flying Spaghetti Monster make headlines.

The Flying Spaghetti Monster, a parody of intelligent design, alighted in 2005, after the Kansas State Board of Education voted to allow alternatives to evolution such as intelligent design to be taught. Physics major Bobby Henderson sent a letter challenging the board, saying that if intelligent design was taught, the schools should also teach about his belief that a Flying Spaghetti Monster created the universe.

The Kansas school board later changed its decision, repealing science guidelines it had put in place questioning evolution.

In a religious state such as North Carolina, teachers must plan carefully, Dunlap said. “They must make sure they’re teaching the standard course of study and not stray from it, and also not impose their beliefs on their students,” Dunlap said.

In New Hanover County, which does not teach creationism, “teachers don’t really focus on what’s in the beginning” of the evolutionary process, said Valita Quattlebaum, the county school system’s spokeswoman. Teachers have alternative assignments for students whose parents have objections about evolution, but students are still assessed on the topic in state tests, she said.

Dunlap said teachers should present evolution to students as a theory substantiated by scientific evidence, but students should not be taught what to believe.

He followed that when he taught earth science in deeply Baptist Wake Forest in the 1980s and ’90s, he said, and he never had a problem.
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Thu 18 Sep, 2008 09:51 am
@wandeljw,
Quote:
"Darwin's theory has no more to do with philosophy than any other hypothesis in natural science"- L Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, 4.1122.

"Food comes first, then morals" - Bertolt Brecht, The Threepenny Opera.


Do these Darwin fanatics just dismiss philosophy and the implications of Darwinianism to epistemology, ethics and morals?

There is nothing to be said about such matters from a scientific point of view. Science is an enclosed system of facts which are not subject to opinions. It is an opinion that there should be schools at all. Or Law. Neither existed in the period on which Darwinians base their conceptions.

0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Thu 18 Sep, 2008 07:25 pm
@wandeljw,
Part of the problem is that the K-12 teachers arent really prepared to teach the subject in a fashion that could stave off the Creationist's arguments. States make teachers artisans whose skillset is the art of teaching, and doesnt usually include an indepth skillset of the science subject they teach.

In PA, we have really strict programs on skillset enhancement for subjects like PE , art, drama,and "Shop" or Drivers Ed. Science, History, math , are often taught be the same unprepared and overwhelmed teacher.
When we were fightingthe science program standards for HS bio, chem, physics, and ES, back in2001 and 2002, abunch of the advisors held on to a "legislative list" wherein we were requesting that the legislators take up education requirements for the sciences and math . (we didnt take on History).
We lost miserably, getting the legislators attention and commitment was like carrying a bucket of cats.
0 Replies
 
wandeljw
 
  1  
Reply Fri 19 Sep, 2008 08:51 am
VATICAN UPDATE
Quote:
Vatican evolution congress to exclude creationism, intelligent design
(By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, September 16, 2008)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Speakers invited to attend a Vatican-sponsored congress on the evolution debate will not include proponents of creationism and intelligent design, organizers said.

The Pontifical Council for Culture, Rome's Pontifical Gregorian University and the University of Notre Dame in Indiana are organizing an international conference in Rome March 3-7 as one of a series of events marking the 150th anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin's "The Origin of Species."

Jesuit Father Marc Leclerc, a philosophy professor at the Gregorian, told Catholic News Service Sept. 16 that organizers "wanted to create a conference that was strictly scientific" and that discussed rational philosophy and theology along with the latest scientific discoveries.

He said arguments "that cannot be critically defined as being science, or philosophy or theology did not seem feasible to include in a dialogue at this level and, therefore, for this reason we did not think to invite" supporters of creationism and intelligent design.

Father Leclerc was one of several organizers speaking at a Sept. 16 Vatican press conference about the congress, part of the culture council's "Science, Technology and the Ontological Quest," or STOQ project.

Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, said the other extreme of the evolution debate -- proponents of an overly scientific conception of evolution and natural selection -- also were not invited.

He reiterated that evolutionary theory "is not incompatible with the teachings of the Catholic Church or the Bible's message."

Gennaro Auletta, professor of philosophy at the Gregorian and head of the STOQ project, said organizers hope the encounter will help theologians and philosophers be "a bit more humble and learn to listen a bit more" to what science is unveiling about humanity and the world.

Auletta said Popes Pius XII, John Paul II and Benedict XVI have expressed "a fundamental interest" in the theory of biological evolution. However, the pontiffs' hopes that Catholics would gain greater understanding of the issues has not yet materialized, he said.

Phillip Sloan, a professor at Notre Dame, told the press conference the evolution debate, "especially in the United States, has been taking place without a strong Catholic presence ... and the discourse has suffered accordingly."

While there has been Catholic commentary on the compatibility of faith and evolutionary theories, there is no definitive written source to which people can refer to learn the church's position, he said.

Sloan said he hoped the March conference and other initiatives planned by Notre Dame and the Vatican would foster the development of "informed Catholic thought" on the subject.
0 Replies
 
coluber2001
 
  4  
Reply Fri 19 Sep, 2008 12:55 pm
It seems that Gungasnaka and other literalists live under the Dark Age credo: knowledge comes from belief, i.e., "if it doesn't say so in the Bible, then it's not true. This credo began being reversed in 1085 when Europeans overran Muslim Spain and rediscovered ancient Greek knowledge that the Muslims had preserved. This eventually led to the Renaissance and the reversed credo: belief comes from knowledge.

If we accept intelligent design and creationism as science, then it is 2000 year old science, and, at best, a useless vestige of ancient science. Those who deny the fact of evolution might also insist on teaching that the Earth is surrounded by 7 crystalline spheres, the sun orbits the Earth, and the Earth is the center of the universe. Galileo contradicted this view in 1633 and was condemmed by the Church and forced to recant. The Church apologized for this in 1992.

Perhaps, it will talk Gungasnake and other literalists another 200 years to come around, but I don't think America can survive another 200 years led by anachronistic thinkers like Bush and Palin.
 

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