Sunday, October 16, 2005

Monkeying around

Once more for emphasis: Evolution doesn't preclude God. You don't have to choose between them.

Scientific theories are based on empirical evidence and aim to explain how something happens, not why. Evolution holds that modern organisms developed after gradual changes over time in prior forms, but it doesn't say whether God set things up that way.

More importantly for the purpose of determining what is or isn't science, a proposition must be falsifiable to be considered scientific. Evolution is falsifiable if new evidence points to an alternate explanation for organisms' development, but neither creationism nor its cousin, intelligent design, is, because no one could disprove the existence of a higher power. That means evolution belongs in a science classroom, while the latter two are better fits for religion, philosophy, or social studies classes.

So a decade after Alabama's state Board of Education voted to halve the baby by approving high school biology textbooks that include both evolution instruction and disclaimer stickers warning that evolution is "a controversial theory," why are there reports of some teachers being denied tenure if they "insist[] on rigorously teaching evolution theory"?

Why was a science teacher reportedly asked during an employment interview "about her belief in God and if she was a Christian"? Why does the state board plan to approve an unnecessary new textbook disclaimer that says no scientific theories "should be seen as an effort to have [students] question their beliefs or faith"? And why do so many continue to insist, defying the overwhelming weight of the evidence, that the world is only a few thousand years old?

A Samford University professor puts it best in his remarks to The Birmingham News: "If you're going to accept biblical creation, that creation happened also instantly and relatively recently and that the species put here by God have not changed, well, all the physical evidence we have is contrary to that. I'm not saying God is not involved. But it did not happen in six days, in 6,000 years, and to say life has not changed since then is in error."


Blogger RightDemocrat said...

As a evangelical Christian who is moderate to conservative on most social issues, I have to agree with you about the teaching of creationism and intelligent design in the schools. The proponents of creationism do us a disservice, I think, in suggesting that one must choose between a belief in God and the existence of evolutionary change in organisms.

I love the Bible and believe that it contains God inspired guidance for our lives, but it was never intended to be a science textbook. Some of my fellow Christians will disagree with me, but I feel that creationism is more appropriately addressed in social studies courses than in the science classroom. The religious beliefs of those who believe in a literal reading of a six day creation should never be ridiculed, but I think our science teachers have an obligation to present the scientific theories that are held by the vast majority of mainstream scientists. Our nation lags behind many other countries in math and science and we should not allow ourselves to fall further behind.

10:11 PM  

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