Friday, December 21, 2007

C-J bloggers debate evolution

The Forum section in Sunday's C-J included four bloggers weighing in on "Should public school teach evolution in science classes?" The bloggers digressed from the primary question to discuss a range of related topics. I'll deal with two of the blog entries here...

First, from John Schenkenfelder: "We're beyond fairy tales"...

Given the choice, I prefer the image of my ancestors descending from the lush gardens of Eden, a naked couple and talking snakes. Science, however, confirms that hairy chimps are my cousins.

Science "confirms" that, huh? I must have missed the news bulletin...

Thanks to Darwin and others, we're beyond the realm of fairytale explanations about the creation of life.

Not really. Some people find more compelling a variety of "just so" stories about a Creator God who uses evolutionary processes to some extent. Others prefer "just so" stories without a Creator God which rely on evolutionary processes to produce the full range of diversity we see today. Both engage in a lot of hand-waving. I suppose one is more fairy-tale-ish, but as a comprehensive explanation for the development of life, the other is only a story with a scientific flavoring.

Evolutionary skeptics and creationist leaders, for example, are finally willing to adopt a figurative reading of the first chapter of
Genesis, or to allow that the six days of creation were not necessarily 24-hour days.

Actually, that reading of Genesis (and the other relevant passages in the Bible) has been around a long time-- longer than the science seems to point in that direction.

It's important that students understand the conflicting scientific and philosophical differences. In doing so, young people will realize the importance of rejecting conventional wisdom. They'll learn to challenge non-scientifically validated information and to question any authority that fills their minds with misinformation, i.e., garbage.

I'm not sure whether he's talking about evolution (as a comprehensive explanation), young-earth creationism, or both. In any case, I agree with his general principle!

And then from Siddique Malik, "Teach kids, don't brainwash them"...

It would be illogical not to teach evolution in public schools. The theory of evolution is an important body of knowledge based on scientific and logical inferences. If a public school is not going to dispense knowledge to knowledge-seekers, what would be the purpose of having it?

There are a lot of reasons why we have government schools (with tremendous monopoly power), but that's a tangent for another day. What else do schools do besides dispense knowledge? Quite a bit, but that is one of their primary tasks.

The much-touted concept of "intelligent design" is just a religious belief. It lacks empirical and logical underpinnings. Therefore, it would be unintelligent to consider it as an "alternative" to the theory of evolution and admit it to schools. In a modern society, religion should be taught at home and/or a place of worship, not at a public school.

Mr. Malik repeats the conventional "wisdom" about ID-- highly ironic given his rants against propaganda and in favor of knowledge.

I would even say that "intelligent design" should be legally banned from all private schools, and there should be a law against allowing underage children into the Creation Museum of Petersburg, Ky., or any other house of propaganda.

Hello fascism!

Would you be indifferent if a private school teaches kids that blood is not pumped by the heart but by little angels who reside in your body? If the answer is no, then why would you allow dissemination of other bogus concepts at a private school? If you would not allow minors into a bar because they could take wrong lessons, why would you allow them into the Creation Museum or any place full of wrong lessons? We should educate kids with facts, not brainwash them with absurdities.

Would you be indifferent if a school taught someone how to make really bad logical arguments-- so they could foist them on us through a newspaper? Shouldn't there be a law against such things? ;-)


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