God, Or Some Of His Followers Anyway, V. Evolution
NPR has had some interesting stories about the latest battles.
First this one:
The first public display of a nearly complete human skeleton — expected later this year — will pit scientists against Kenya’s evangelical movement. The evolution/creationism battle has arrived in a country known as the cradle of mankind.
The local story involves our state’s anti-evolution stickers, which helped earn us an “F” on the Fordham Foundation’s State of State Science Standards report:
Similar and more serious faults are to be found in the life science standards. Most distressing, however, is the long statement provided in the preface to this entire document:
The theory of evolution by natural selection, a theory included in this document, states that natural selection provides the basis for the modern scientific explanation for the diversity of living things. Since natural selection has been observed to play a role in influencing small changes in a population, it is assumed, based on the study of artifacts, that it produces large changes, even though this has not been directly observed. Because of its importance and implications, students should understand the nature of evolutionary theories. They should learn to make distinctions among the multiple meanings of evolution, to distinguish between observations and assumptions used to draw conclusions, and to wrestle with the unanswered questions and unresolved problems still faced by evolutionary theory.
Although this is focused on evolution, and it paraphrases the “critiques” of evolutionary biology currently advanced by “intelligent design” creationism, it quite effectively derogates every branch of science. (There are, for example, many basic, “unanswered questions” about the fundamental forces of nature. Do we, for this reason, warn students to be suspicious of, or to “wrestle with,” the “unresolved problems” of physics?) The Alabama preface sows confusion and offers a distorted view of what science is and how it is pursued. The quoted paragraph is preceded by mention of Copernicus, Newton, and Einstein, all physicists or astronomers; it then launches into an attack by misdirection on (evolutionary) biology. The statement is obviously of political, rather than scientific inspiration, and it reinforces the grade of “F.”
Both stories are well worth a listen.
Personally, I have no problems with someone who objects to evolution. I don’t think a faith that ignores reality is much of a faith, but hey, that’s just me. Where I draw the line is attempts by the anti-evolution crowd to insert their religious beliefs into science classes.