Wednesday, September 21, 2005

In response to 'No Evolution For Us' over at Corante.

The difficulty with the issue is that hijackers have claimed the facts on the issue in hopes for more religious firing power. On its own, creation science is able to come up with some good questions that can be examined scientifically. And I have never heard one deny natural selection. However, this comes from people who actually study the science of the issue.

The problem with the teaching situation is that it relies largely on presentation of material. Unfortunately, there are many naturalistic science teachers out there who enjoy this opportunity to demonstrate the ignorance of smalltown, simple, religious folk as there are religious (ie creationist) teachers looking to teach kids about the evils of evolution. And I would like to add that I think this relates to the public arena as much as it does the scholastic one. Just as Dawkins loves to meld his science with his worldview when denouncing the dangers of religion (see his article in Prospect magazine), there are religious fanatics who pounce onto small details and statistics that can be hurled at their enemies. In the fray, honest truth-seekers on both sides of the aisle become defensive and hostile. Even well-meaning people get lost in poor language. Differentiating between evolution and evolutionism has never really taken the forefront it needs (similarly to differentiating creation science from creationism).

Biology classes should not merely be presenting evolution or creation science. They should be presenting the evidence as well as the efforts being made to come to the best understanding of that evidence (ie if the evidence is for or against an understanding of the way evolution works, it should be presented as such). But as such, we must stray away from oversimplifications when teaching this to younger kids, for a misunderstanding at this level does nothing but hurt any future possibility. This opportunity has been missed for the last generation. We need to make it real for the next one.

Also, I should mention that every biology text I've seen since entering high school (earlier texts used it in more of a chronological format) have used evolution in the introduction or continuation of the first section. Now that is, of course, must not be construed as a categorical statement...just a comment.

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