Kansas Rejects Evolution In Science Classes

SMeissne at AOL.COM SMeissne at AOL.COM
Fri Aug 13 08:32:55 EST 1999


In a message dated 99-08-12 18:34:26 EDT, you write:

<< 
 > >``It's deception,'' said Tom Willis, director of the Creation Science
 > >Association for Mid-America, which helped write the new standards. ``You
 > >can't go into the laboratory or the field and make the first fish. When 
you
 > >tell students that science has determined (evolution to be true), you're
 > >deceiving them.''
 > > >>

A few points

First.  There is confusion over what evolution actually means as a biological
theory.  This is only enhanced by the common usage of the term as a synonym
for change [as in, my thinking on that is still evolving...].  So when ever 
possible 
make sure that students can define the biological theory of evolution.  This 
includes the assumptions, and make darn sure they see how the assumptions
may, or may not be testable.

Second.  The "creationist scientists" love to claim that evolution can not be 
valid
since it does not account for the origin of the first.... (in the above case 
it is
fish, but more commonly it is the first life form).  The current thinking is 
for the 
need for "intelligent design" [as in Behe's book, Darwin's Black Box].  Since 
evolution can not account for the origin of the first life form, it must be 
in error,
and so creationism must be a valid alternative by default.  What needs to be
pointed out here is that the theory of evolution assumes that species are 
present
so that speciation can occur.  The theory of evolution says NOTHING about the
origin of life.  To claim that evolution is flawed because it does not account
for the origin of life, would be analogous to saying that because the law of 
gravity
does not account for the influences of a magnetic field then there must be 
something wrong with the law of gravity!  One of the unspoken assumptions
of the theory of evolution is that there is life present already so that 
something
is there to speciate.  This needs to be brought out.

Third.  The agenda of the "creationist scientists" is not just to beat back 
evolution, 
but to limit science and thinking so that their favored version of reveiled 
truth (in the Bible, or some other text) is supported.  Given this, they are 
not likely to go
away any time soon, and they will continue their advocacy on many fronts and 
for many years.  The latest version of creationism, "intelligent-design", is 
one such
recent modification of this thinking.  

Fourth.  IMHO what should be taught is critical thinking and the proper 
evaluation
of hypotheses, setting up of experiments, evaluation of data, etc.  If this 
is done
then I have no fear for the theory of evolution.  But if, these 
"alternatives" are
offered, without critical analysis of their assumptions or evaluation of the 
data in support or against them, then we will have gone one step further 
towards scientific
illiteracy.  I suggest that teachers confronted with pressure to teach 
evolution and these alternatives might consider it as an opportunity to get 
into teaching data evaluation, lay out the cases and let the students decide. 
 After all, even an opponent to the theory of evolution might (and I stress 
the might) make a contribution if they identify an aspect of the theory that 
needs confirmation and goes out and does it in a rigorous fashion.  We have 
to accept and promote informed skepticism and criticism of all biology.  What 
students really need here is not the "facts" about evolution, but a tool kit 
to evaluate data and thinking on a broader range of issues.  [My 2 cents, 
others my disagree...]

Scott T. Meissner

Aure Entuluva!



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