Saturday, January 31, 2009

Two different approaches

In light of the upcoming 200th anniversary of Baby Darwin, the press seems to have an increased interest in evolution-based stories. Heck, I'm even getting tired of them. Yet, I did want to point out two articles on seemingly opposite educational approaches to teaching evolution and creationism. In the first, a Springfield College/Benedictine University and the University of Illinois at Springfield designed a class where students can learn and discuss, in objective fashion, all sides of the issue in order for those students to make a more informed personal decision - all viewpoints are apparently treated fairly and evenly. In the other article, a group, Answers in Genesis, is offering two free conferences in order to "help Christians defend their faith against a theory that the ministry sees as running counter to Scripture."

One approach teaches all sides in a deliberately dialogical context, the other, one side against the other. Said again, one approach teaches people to talk together, the other approach teaches people to talk passed those in disagreement. Of course, I'm not opposed to educational conferences, however one-sided, but I think there is infinitely more value to teaching, even-handedly, all sides of issues and allowing for the discussion and interaction of opposing ideas.

9 comments:

Drew said...

Importantly, I do not think the creationism-evolution debate should be taught in public high or middle school science classes and on the public dime.

JCWhite said...

Sounds a bit like modern politics doesn't it?

Darren Staley said...

This may sound out there, but I'm going to say it anyway. Denying evolution is on par with denying the Holocaust.

Both events were largely unseen by historians and scientists, and both have a vocal minority in utter denial.

Non-evolutionary creationism should not be taught nor taken seriously in any academic environment, period.

On some issues, there can be no serious debate, only silliness and ignorance.

Kent H said...

Darren,
You're bloviating again. The Holocaust was a historical event that can be observed and repeatably studied through a multitude of medium. No scientist that knows the definition of the word "science" would make the remarkably disconnected statement you just made. Evolution has NOT been observed - period. Let me post again the short snip from the Dawkins interview for your reading pleasure:

Below is a complete unedited transcript of what professor Dawkins said about this:

BILL MOYERS: Is evolution a theory, not a fact?


RICHARD DAWKINS: Evolution has been observed. It’s just that it hasn’t been observed while it’s happening.


MOYERS: What do you mean It’s been observed?


DAWKINS: The consequences of. It is rather like a detective coming on a murder after the scene. And you… the detective hasn’t actually seen the murder take place, of course. But what you do see is a massive clue. Now, any detective…


MOYERS: Circumstantial evidence.


DAWKINS: Circumstantial evidence, but masses of circumstantial evidence. Huge quantities of circumstantial evidence…………


There you have it – professor Richard Dawkins, the atheists' number one hero, admits that evolution has never been observed and is supported only by circumstantial evidence.

WHAT!?! You observe something but not while it happened? You determined what happened by the results. The result is a big "clue." Look, again I say Evolution is a faith - not science. Both sides of this debate have the same evidence. There are extremely able minds on both sides and yet the debate rages on. The difference is the presupposition of faith. Either God can and does exist and has given us His account of the origins, etc. or you presuppose there can be no God creating ex nihilo (out of nothing) and therefore you have to explain it all some other way. Please stop with the condescending BS.

Darren Staley said...

Kent, I am not condescending to you I am debating you. If my arguments come off as overly authoritative, this may be because my position is shaped by an overwhelming, if not near-unanimous, agreement by the worldwide scientific community.

I'll end this debate (from my end) with a simple Wiki:

The terms "fact" and "theory" can be applied to evolution, just as they are to gravity.[1] Misuse and misunderstanding of how those terms are applied to evolution have been used to construct arguments disputing the validity of evolution.

There have been many theories that attempt to explain the fact of gravity. That is, scientists ask what gravity is, and what causes it. They develop a model to explain gravity, a theory of gravity. Many explanations of gravity that qualify as a Theory of Gravity have been proposed over the centuries: Aristotle's, Galileo's, Newton's, and now Einstein's. Confusion of the terms can arise when we use a single word to describe both the observed facts and the theory that explains it. The word ‘’gravity’’ can be used to refer to the observed facts (i.e., the observed attraction of masses) and the theory used to explain it (gravity is the reason why masses attract each other). Thus, gravity is both a "theory" and a "fact."

In the study of biological species, the facts include fossils and measurements of these fossils. The location of a fossil is an example of a fact (using the scientific meaning of the word fact). In species that rapidly reproduce, for example fruit flies, the process of evolutionary change has been observed in the laboratory.[18] The observation of fruit fly populations changing character is also an example of a fact. So evolution is a fact just as the observations of gravity are a fact.

In biology, there have been many attempts to explain these observations over the years. Lamarckism, Transmutationism and Orthogenesis were all non-Darwinian theories that attempted to explain the observations of species and fossils and other evidence. However, the Theory of Evolution is the explanation for all relevant observations regarding the development of life, based on a model that explains all the available data and observations. Thus, evolution is not only a fact but also a theory, just as gravity is both a fact and a theory.

Kent H said...

Darren, With much trepidation I return to the point. Saying that evolution is the rule of the day doesn't make it so. You speak ex cathedra on the part of a "near-unanimous" portion of scientists. But even if that were true (it isn't), wasn't it you who reminded us that once a "near-unanimous" portion of scientists thought the earth was the center of the universe and that was flat. This is not majority rule we're talking about.
In my earlier post, you read how even Dawkins himself considers his case a purely circumstantial one which means he must begin with a presupposition in order to interpret the available evidence. His presupposition is "God does not exist, therefore, He could not have created the universe."
There are literally millions of facts that will not fit the universalistic, naturalistic, evolutionary model.
Pure complexity and natural law of the universe cannot be explained by evolution.
Morality and kindness make no sense. The evolution of ethics and good vs. evil is nonsensical in a "survival of the fittest" model. And yet morality has been universal at some level throughout human history.
The multitudes of fossils can't even be explained. Fossilization doesn't happen when something dies and lies rotting on the earth. Only quick burial explains that. Noah's flood is a good explanation.
Certain aspects of human and animal physiology (eye ball, consciousness, sexual reproduction) are simply unexplainable by evolution's model. They don't fit without all the parts being present together, therefore, evolution can't be the answer.
The pilonium halos I referenced in an earlier thread disproves ions of earth's cooling. Absolutely disproves it. The earth's foundational rock (granite, etc) were formed instantly.
Evolution from species to species has NEVER been observed. Dawkins said it was observed but not while it happened. All due respect to him, that's not science.
Darwin observed finches reproducing other finches and created the theory of nothing becoming everything, lizards becoming birds, and amoeba becoming man.
Natural law (thermodynamics) PROVES the impossibility of simplicity evolving toward harmony (complexity). Absolutely disproves it.
You used an interactive encylopedia as an authoritative source. I can tell you not even Dawkins would allow that in class. But, OK, the last paragraph was true in nearly everything it said. Evolution is AN EXPLANATION (a grid, a worldview, a matrix) for explaining the results or evidence that we have and can observe. That is my point. One must have his presupposition (faith) in place first. Then he can observe the facts and come to conclusions -until evidence disproves his presupposition.
The creationist's presupoosition is that God Who created it all told us how He did it: Instantly and out of nothing. Show me evidence that disproves this presupposition. I've just given you several that disprove yours.

Kent H said...

P.S. Darren, calling a point of view other than your own "silliness and ignorance" is not debating. It's insulting. Debate brings forth evidence and discusses the merits of each piece. You have yet to do any "debate" at all.

Just a thought.

Darren Staley said...

Kent,

We will never find a common ground here. Yes, I used a wiki in this thread, but I have linked to many scientific articles in other threads.

Here is why we can never agree:

"The creationist's presupoosition is that God Who created it all told us how He did it: Instantly and out of nothing. Show me evidence that disproves this presupposition."

You are asking me to prove or disprove something that can never be proven or disproven. It's called falsification.

Evolution can be falsified, but it, thus far, has not been. Faith can not be falsified, therefore it is silly to bring it to the scientific table.

There is testable evidence of evolution. There is no testable evidence of the existence of God, nor could there be.

And your throwing up the thinkers who once though Earth was flat, etc, only proves my point. Science and technology disproved them. There is NO WAY to disprove the existence of God, nor to prove it. Therefore it is not scientific and is a matter of faith.

You can rebut this as you like, but this will be my last comment on the issue. I do think, however, that you hold the same contempt for my point of view that I have for yours.

So let's move on and be friends.

P.S. I did not mean that you, as a person, are either silly or ignorant. You did not come up with the theory of Creationism no more than I came up with evolution. My comments were meant to be addressed to the issue, not the person.

Kent H said...

Sadly, Darren, the cry of the evolutionists seems to be, "don't bother me with the facts, I have my opinion."
Throughout this thread, I have given you several pieces of hard evidence that disprove or cast serious doubt on the evolutionary model. You've responded to none of them. From the reading I've done, the scientific community won't touch most of them. Some (like Dawkins) know the theory is not built on observable, (disprovable) objective evidence as you say, and still many hold fast.
The issue here is not one of facts vs. facts. It is about autonomy from God. I once heard an interview with a major evolutionary player (I honestly can't remember which one) with National Geographic or someone, and the scientist said, basically, "I know that evolution is impossible, but since I refuse to believe in God, I have to believe evolution."
We all have the same results of the origins of the universe. We cannot track through observable science to the origins. We must both use a matrix to interpret the facts. I use the model that was revealed (as I understand it) from the only One present. You hold to one that came about 150 yrs. ago.
Sorry friend, this discussion is faith vs. faith.

But for me, this isn't about winning an argument. It's more profound than that. There are answers to a lot other questions than science, and that's why my concern for the unbeliever is so strong.