Teach one, teach ’em all

A column in the Tallahassee Democrat addresses the issue of whether a person can accept evolution and have religious faith. I know that conversation has taken place on this blog’s comments, with folks taking all sides. Some feel that science trumps religion. Others think religion trumps science. And still others think that neither trumps the other. Is this a conflict that can even be resolved?

A recent Harris poll cited by the Times shows that more people ascribe to Callaway’s theology than to Darwin’s theory. But the numbers, suspect as they may be, suggest that many people believe in both.

That includes myself and many thoughtful people I’ve admired over the years. I spent two years at the Lexington Theological Seminary, and virtually everyone there accepted as fact that life began long before the biblical time frame would indicate. That didn’t dissuade them from believing God caused life to happen. These men and women were passionate in their faith, accepting of empirical fact and eager to make the world better.

To the best of my knowledge, none of them aspired to be science teachers.

Instead, they believed that educators schooled in the fields of biology, chemistry and physics should be teaching our science classes, while their own skills and training would rightly serve humanity when expressed from the pulpits of churches and in the missionary fields around the world.

For the sake of our children’s education and our nation’s ability to remain a world leader, this separation must be maintained.

By demanding that our science classes include the Judeo-Christian story of creation, and its thinly veiled surrogate known as “intelligent design,” we open the door to theories fomented by religions and cultures that our fundamentalist brethren would find more disturbing than Darwin.

Would parents in the Bible belt object to the teaching of the Hindu creation theory, which involves at least three deities? What about the teachings of Buddhist monks, dating back thousands of years before the birth of Christ? Where do we draw the line?

Yes, where do we draw the line? At noodley appendages? Because it looks like the Flying Spaghetti Monster has appeared to the good people on the Polk County school board. Ramen!

The Flying Spaghetti Monster, or FSM, is a satirical group that pokes fun at intelligent design. It first emerged in 2005 during the debate in Kansas over whether the belief should be taught in science classes.

The group has sent dozens of e-mails to Polk County School Board members demanding that the idea of a Flying Spaghetti Monster creating the world receive classroom equal time with other views. The e-mail campaign began after four of seven board members said in November that they supported teaching intelligent design in addition to evolution.

Most School Board members declined comment, or did not return phone messages when asked about e-mails or telephone calls from supporters or detractors of the proposed science standards.

Board member Frank O’Reilly, who supports the new science standards, said he received about 50 e-mails from FSM supporters. “It’s a lot,” O’Reilly said. “Most of them are from the spaghetti monster.”

Evolution research, you know … real science, as it concerns us humans made the news. Here’s an article as it appears in the Lakeland Ledger (from a Los Angeles Times writer). Some scientists are examining evidence that seems to indicate that we hairless apes are still evolving.

The pace of human evolution has been increasing at a stunning rate since our ancestors began spreading through Europe, Asia and Africa 40,000 years ago, quickening to 100 times historic levels after agriculture became widespread, according to a study being published today.

By examining more than 3 million variants of DNA in 269 people, researchers identified about 1,800 genes that have been widely adopted in relatively recent times because they offer some evolutionary benefit.

A column in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune comments on the situation with the state Department of Education employee sending an e-mail out concerning evolution. The writer says the woman should not be fired, which I agree with, and that she should not have even been reprimanded, which I disagree with. But, on the other hand, he’s glad it came to light. We need to know who the opposition is.

Carraway is a program manager for the Education Department’s Office of Instructional Materials. She thinks Baptist beliefs about the origins of human and other life are scientific and deserve to share the science classroom.

I think that promotes scientific fraud, and is an attempt not to teach science but to undermine it. So we couldn’t disagree more on this, and I hope Carraway doesn’t have, and will never have, much influence on the state’s choice of educational materials.

And to wrap up this news roundup is an article about our science standards situation on Wired, along with a very slanted story in the Christian Post.

About Brandon Haught

Communications Director for Florida Citizens for Science.
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