[Plant-education] <no subject>

Jensen, Douglas Doug.Jensen at Converse.edu
Wed Nov 9 17:04:32 EST 2005

I doubt anyone can convince someone else of the validity of evolutionary
theory.  However, you can explain to them why it is science, while
astrology et al. are not.  You can also point out that there is little
evidence to support intelligent design, but huge amounts of evidence to
support evolution.  Most of the arguments that "support" intelligent
design are actually arguments about weaknesses in evolutionary theory.
In some cases the weaknesses are real, while in other cases they are

One tricky tactic that I brought out this year was to ask students
whether they thought it was a good idea to accept a scientific idea for
which we cannot provide a good mechanism.  They said no.  Then I pointed
out that we have no good mechanism for gravity, but a good one for
evolution.  Also, my introductory biology classes had an assignment to
search the net and find whatever arguments they could that would support
intelligent design.  They did the same thing for evolution, and brought
them to class.  We then discussed the differences between the evidences
and arguments.  The discussion class period landed on the day that
Admissions sent about 10 perspective students and their parents to
visit.  I am considering a similar assignment with my junior/senior
evolution class in the spring.

A few years ago, I would not consider discussions of intelligent design
in the classroom, but my mind has changed.  I believe it is very
important that we discuss why it is not science.  In some disagreements,
it is best to shut up when confronted with an idiotic argument that
should not be given scientific credence.  In this case, I believe it is
important to speak out.  


Douglas P. Jensen
Assistant Professor and Chair of Biology
Converse College
Spartanburg, South Carolina, 29302
douglas.jensen at converse.edu

-----Original Message-----
From: plant-ed-bounces at oat.bio.indiana.edu
[mailto:plant-ed-bounces at oat.bio.indiana.edu] On Behalf Of Sandra
Sent: Wednesday, November 09, 2005 10:11 AM
To: William E Williams
Cc: David Alan Walker; plant ed
Subject: Re: [Plant-education] <no subject>

i don't want to teach astrology or intelligent design, but i'm glad to 
hear effective explanations of why not, since i'm called on to explain 
this regularly to my nonmajor biology students. i haven't checked out 
that programme yet, but i will. i need more than righteous indignation 
to convince students of the validity of evolutionary theory.


William E Williams wrote:

> I was unable to access the interview with Sue Gamble, but egad, you  
> have to be kidding! "Intelligent design" is just old-fashioned  
> creationism in secular clothing -- why in the world would anyone on  
> this list advocate teaching it alongside evolution? It'd be sort of  
> like teaching astrology alongside astronomy (as part of the history
> astronomy it would be quite reasonable, of course, as would  mention
> say, William Paley or Bishop Wilberforce as part of the  history of 
> evolution).
> -W2
> On Nov 8, 2005, at 3:46 PM, David Alan Walker wrote:
>> Having heard Sue Gamble (of the Kansas State Board of Education)  
>> explain, so eloquently, why "Intelligent Design" ought not to be  
>> taught alongside Evolution, I feel impelled to ask Plant Ed  
>> contributors how they feel about this matter? If you missed it, you  
>> can 'Listen Again' to her on  the BBC  'Today Programme'.
>>  Simply go to
>> http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/progs/listenagain.shtml#t,
>>  select 'Today' and 'Listen'. Then, by moving a marker along a bar  
>> until it reads 2:47:23 (hours minutes and seconds into the
>> you will find that she started to speak round then.
>> Best regards
>> David
>> From David Walker, FRS., Emeritus Professor of Photosynthesis,  
>> University of Sheffield, UK.
>> http://www.oxygraphics.co.uk/
>> _______________________________________________
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> William E. Williams <mailto:WEWilliams at smcm.edu>
> Professor of Biology
> Saint Mary's College of Maryland
> 18952 E Fisher Rd, Saint Marys City, MD 20686
> (240)895-4365
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