A newspaper article turned up today concerning the schools in the Treasure Coast getting ready to incorporate evolution into the classroom lessons. There really isn’t much newsy to the story, but the online reader comment flamewars are certainly entertaining. This story will also likely spark a series of letters to the editor, so be on the lookout for them. You may even want to throw in your own two cents if you are living in that area. One thing you can set the record straight on is this tidbit:
The controversy is creationism as opposed to evolution, said Fran Adams, Indian River County assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.
“It’s pretty clear-cut in the textbooks,” Adams said. “(Evolution) is presented as one of many theories, but they don’t get into the other theories.”
I think Adams is on the right track concerning the fact that some folks with literal belief in a religion’s creation story have problems with the science of evolution. But then Adams trips over the word theory, thus confusing the issue a bit. I wonder how the textbooks he is referring to actually phrase the bit about “other theories.” Fact: there are no other scientific theories competing with evolution. None. There are other beliefs and ideas, based in religion, but no other theories. This site gives a good, easy-to-understand explanation concerning the confusion over the word theory (or the intentional misuse of the word).
Scientific theories are explanations that are based on lines of evidence, enable valid predictions, and have been tested in many ways. In contrast, there is also a popular definition of theory — a “guess” or “hunch.” These conflicting definitions often cause unnecessary confusion about evolution.
Definition: in science, a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world.
There is another concern that is a serious and valid one that only gets a brief mention in the article:
But wording in a new education law passed last spring requires the Board of Education to adopt new academic standards by 2011. The Florida Department of Education won’t say if this means revisiting the debate on teaching evolution.
Here is my past post on this subject that goes into much more depth.