Thursday, January 22, 2009

Teaching science in Texas (updated)

Apparently, the Texas Board of Education is considering teaching the strengths and weaknesses of the scientific theory in their public schools. Now, as you know, I am a big fan of thoughtful dialogue, but public school isn't the proper forum for such a discussion - especially since it is on the public dime and a foil for religious ideology. Teach science - not social debates, however well-intended - in science class.

I guess, since the Dover case, this is the new line of attack.

Update: The Baptist Joint Committee, a leading organization on the separation of church and state, just reported that the proposed changes were narrowly defeated, 8-7. Sweet.

15 comments:

Darren Staley said...

I think we should revisit the whole gravity thing. If Darwin was wrong, maybe Newton was too. That theory of relativity has been bothering me as well. What if e actually equals mc cubed? Wouldn't that be a kick in the head?

Kent H said...

Here I go again,
The fact is Drew, anytime the subject of origins is discussed in a classroom, we have moved away from rigidly-defined science into the realm of faith or metaphysics.
True science must be "repeatable." We cannot go backwards to the beginning ("God created," big bang, "aliens did it") and observe, therefore, the discussion crosses the threshold into faith (religion). The religion of Darwinian evolution, with its many accoutrement, has been taught for decades as "science" and today many of the world's most renowned scientists are backing away from it.
An acknowledgement in the Texas case would only say that the discussion of such far-reaching issues cannot be done with the rock-ribbed assurance of repeatable science and without an element of faith or worldview as the most recent evidence is observed. It has weaknesses. That is a scientific fact.

Kent H said...

Hey Darren,
To throw something at you. It's kinda funny, but the law of gravity is being hotly debated in scientific circles. Instead of earth's mass pulling us toward the center of our planet, they say now that space is being compressed above us and pushing us toward the earth's surface. Now that just may be a kick in the head.
And, oh yeh, relativity - just a "theory."

Drew said...

Kent, you got a cite for that? Would love to read that. It's kinda the-sun-doesn't-revolve-around-the-earth revolutionary.

Darren Staley said...

Sigh...just read

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/evolution-research.html

every scientific issue on evolution fully explained. It's not faith, it's not a theory in the way you are using the word theory. It's science and only science can refute science.

Faith can not nor should not. Faith is for church and home. Science is for classrooms and work (unless you work at a church or in your home).

Darren Staley said...

I left out the "theory" of plate tectonics. I guess we should stop teaching that as well and go back to blaming the Roman fire god for volcanic eruptions.

Kent H said...

Sigh, Darren you read,

www.icr.com or www.answersingenesis.com

for refutations by equally qualified PhD level scientists. We can both find our circles. Good for us.

By the way, I'm sure glad I have you to tell me where to keep my faith. Home and church - who knew.

Darren Staley said...

Kent,

It is not up to me to tell you where to keep your faith. The Constitution does that well enough, as does the Bible:

Matthew 6:5-6:

"And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly."

I love the debate, though, Kent. You match me snark for snark.

Anonymous said...

There is no legitimate scientific controversy on evolution. Evolution is a fact, and it explains how life moved from simple beginnings to the incredible diversity and complexity we see today. Scientists can observe evolution not only through the fossil record, but in laboratory experiments and in monitoring animal populations (such as fruit flies, which breed quickly, have short generations, and are prone to mutations.) There is no other scientific theory that can explain the diversity and complexity of life. Evolution is not a religion. Why? 1. Because there is objective proof. 2. Because the theory is always being updated and expanded based on new evidence. When Kent says that the theory has weaknesses, I would agree. It had a lot more weaknesses before scientists started looking at the evidence. Weaknesses, or unknown areas, are an advantage for science, they give oppportunities to figure them out. 3. Because we know exactly what would disprove it (fossil rabbits in the Pre-Cambrian, for instance). To not believe in evolution, you need to really want it to be untrue, and work from there. Schools should not teach a controversy that doesn't exist because it makes some people feel better. Alright, I'm done, sorry about the rant.

Matt F.

Kent H said...

Morning,
Darren, I agree that our prayer and personal spiritual life are not for the observation of the world. But you are going to have to take a second look at Jesus, John the Baptist, and most of the apostles' lives to see where they put their faith. In the market plact. They were persecuted and killed because they WOULDN'T keep their preaching to themselves.
In fact, the apostles were instructed to stop preaching their views in Jerusalem and they declared "we ought to obey God rather than man" (Acts 5:29) In fact, they "turned Jerusalem upside down" with their teaching (Acts 17:6). In fact, the consitituion would not appreciate a section of our population being told tyrannized into silence. At least Madison, Henry, Washington, and Jefferson would not. They had seen tyranny and many of the founders were quite overt about their faith or lack thereof.
I appreciate the effort, but the fact is, the biblical worldview is the one that answers the most questions. Too bad, so many of its adherents have followed your advice and kept the answers at home. So a couple of generations go by, dissenting opinions are forgotten, and lies get told so often they are passed off as fact.
Which brings me to Anonymous. All due respect, evolution has never been proven to anything approaching a fact. Most scientists in the field are so anti-God and pro-evolution their "facts" get published as evidence only to be disproven within months. Piltdown man, Neanderthal man, Peking man, all discredited as "missing links" and yet they still appear in college textbooks. Variations within species can be observed but mutations nearly always shorten or end life and are negative. Variation from one species to another has never been observed. The fossil record does nothing of the sort you propose (i.e. provide evidence that evolution is fact). Pre-cambrian rabbits are not the only disproving evidence. How about men walking with dinosaurs. Go to the footprint fields of Texas and check that out. The fact is people on every side of every issue put forth the evidence that best suits their own worldview. Atheistic evolution IS a religion in the sense that it is a worldview (a prism) through which facts are interpreted.

A Faithful Reader said...

How small a God do we have that has to use a magic wand to create rather than using the natural building blocks already existing in creation at the time. A God who created everything, and knows everything, would not cut corners on creation. Despite those that sit at the great divide between Science and Faith, the God who creates through evolution is more realistic than one who is Merlin-like or Hawking-like.

"All things are possible with God," (Mark 14:36) and that is a belief system worth looking into further.

Matt F. said...

Evolution explains how things came to be. Biblical accounts assert how things came to be. One is supported by an overwhelming mass of evidence that the majority of scientists (those anti-God pro-evolution bastards) understand. The other is supported by a book. Again, this is not a scientific controversy. You have to really, really, want to believe that dinosaurs walked with humans to accept it. There is one case that has been debunked by all serious people, and then there is the rest of the fossil record.

Kent, I understand your desire for the biblical worldview "to be the one that answers the most questions." It probably does. But any manner of worldviews could be thought of that answer all the questions and don't provide a speck of evidence for those answers. I can't in a blog post (or in a long book) lay down all of the evidence for evolution, except to say again that it is a fact. There have been books upon books and studies upon studies laying down the evidence for evolution. Were they all correct? No, of course they weren't. Science continually attempts to find and correct flaws in its evidence and thinking. Has anything approaching a better explanation for how life developed been posited? No, because there isn't one. The vast majority of evidence points towards evolution. It makes both rational and empirical sense. Again, there is no controversy unless you really want there to be one.

Kent H said...

Oh Matt,
So many declarative statements and NO evidence.
The fact is, as has been pointed out on this blog before, at one time the preponderance of "scientific" evidence showed that the earth was flat and the sun revolved around the earth. Eventually, science caught up with Scripture ("circle of the earth" - Isa 40:22, etc.).
The scelacanth (?) a fish in the Mediterranean sea was basically a reference fossil for strata of earth over 10 million yrs. old until fishermen caught one alive. Uh oh, gotta change our "facts." That was equivalent to finding a living dinosaur. I doubt if it change one mind.
Every fact can be interpreted through one of two grids. Either God created it all or everything was born out of nothing in simplicity and "evolved" and mutated into complexity (impossible according to the 2nd law of thermodynamics).
We have one source of information from the only person present at the origin.
You "choose" the latter explanation because you too have a preference. Evidence is being presented daily that rebuffs evolution. Scientists are scrambling for an alternative to God despite the "factness" of their theory. They won't believe in God because they don't want Him - not because the evidence refutes Him. You prefer a world without God. That's fine. But you better be right.

Darren Staley said...

Kent,

You claim that a majority of scientists, as well the posters in this thread, many of who are highly educated, are biased by their preconceived notions. Could it be that your position is biased?

I am not anti-God. Maybe God caused evolution for all I know. But that is something that science can never test or prove. That's up to faith.

Here is the statement that really irks me: "We have one source of information from the only person present at the origin."

So the people that wrote the Bible were there at the point of origin? Also, if the weather channel tells me that it is snowing in Chicago and I am not there to build a snowman, does that mean I should question whether or not it actually is snowing there?

If you want to believe in literal creation that's fine. Just don't try to push that on my kid in science class, which my tax dollars pay for.

And before you tell me that your tax dollars pay for public schools as well, you have an option: home schooling or private schooling.

Kent H said...

Darren,
You have the same options for education of your children. You can home school. You can privately school The fact is, most of what you said is right.
I too have a presupposition. That is, that if God wanted us to know something, He would tell us. He did, by direct revelation to those who wrote the Bible - yes. And if that presupposition is correct, then I have a direct eye-witness testimony to the origins of creation by the only person present at the time (irksome or not).
Also, you are right when you say we can't prove what is the origin of life, earth, etc. That is why BOTH POSITIONS (creation/evolution) are equally faith-based presuppositions (religion). Which, if you were listening, was exactly my point. The problem is, the secularists, of which you are obviously one, are perfectly happy funding religion in the classroom with public money as long as it is their position.
All due respect, highly educated or not, that is just an inconsistent position.