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Monday, May 02, 2005

Inherit the Wind/Summer for the Gods/Scopes Trial Redux

It appears that Kansas will be holding a courtroom style debate on the role of evolution in the state's public education system.


At 5:09 PM, Blogger andrew golis said...

We really haven't come that far since the Scopes monkey trial. From Gallup:
"Only about a third of Americans believe that Charles Darwin's theory of evolution is a scientific theory that has been well supported by the evidence, while just as many say that it is just one of many theories and has not been supported by the evidence. The rest say they don't know enough to say. Forty-five percent of Americans also believe that God created human beings pretty much in their present form about 10,000 years ago. A third of Americans are biblical literalists who believe that the Bible is the actual word of God and is to be taken literally, word for word."
Now, I think it would be a gross exhaggeration to say that evolution is the pure truth, but it's a scientific paradigm (what what Kuhn!) that works on a level that, well, the bible doesn't. So, unless high school biology classes want to engage in on more complicated questions of the nature of scientific knowledge itself, I think probably they should stick to teaching modern scientific consensus. I know that's an unpopular position to take here ;), but call me a risk taker...

At 7:25 PM, Blogger Jamal Sprucewood said...

Risk taker!

At 8:53 PM, Blogger Alicia said...

What I find interesting is that here in Edinburgh, evolution is just accepted as a fact (at least in the archaeology department). No one voices that they should take into consideration the devine creation theory at all because everyone in the archaeology department seems to accept evolution. Same goes with biology. In SD, professors have to say that while they respect the devine creation theory, they will assume Darwins theory for the course. Not so much here.

At 10:29 AM, Blogger C. G. said...

A couple quick points:
- People who reject evolution are a least a little bit hypocritical when they make use of modern medicine and technology that was formulated with evolution as its intellectual basis. This includes antibiotics, almost all pharmaceuticals, and anything having to do with genetics.
- I think people would do well to realize that evolution isn't necessarily incompatible with God running the show (though it is almost certainly incompatible with a literal reading of Genesis). I personally like the image of God as the rule-maker who set up physics and biochemistry and then put the machine into motion. I don't fully understand why this concept hasn't taken root better.

At 12:55 PM, Anonymous katie loncke said...

cg, looking at the cnn article, it appears that your view is actually closer to what the 'anti-evolutionists' are arguing for: "Intelligent Design Network [is] a Kansas organization that argues the Earth was created through intentional design rather than random organism evolution."

In fact, they claim not to be against evolution per se, and not to advocate teaching pure creationism, but to offer the possibility of the kind of guided evolution you favor, and to try to present evidence to support that theory.

Personally, I'm with golis on this one: I think that if they have evidence supporting their ideas, great--that's what scientfic discourse is supposed to be about. And although it's a thin disguise, I appreciate the fact that they are referring to 'intelligence' as the potential guiding force of evolution, rather than god. Even if, in practice, the Midwestern teachers continue to reference the Bible as if it were scientific evidence, keeping 'god' out of the official science curricular requirements is a good thing.

Still, as most people have said, Kansans should acknowledge 'random' evolution's dominance as a scientific paradigm. Even I, a perpetual skeptic of dominant scientific discourse, am not so far removed from reality as to deny the impacts of the theories.

At 3:38 PM, Blogger C. G. said...

I'm familiar with the basic tenants of intelligent design. However, it is pretty much devoid of scientifically valid points; it bases its message in percieved holes in evolutionary theory.

The point I made above is that an existence of God might be possible in a pre-scientific manner, that is, he/she/it made the rules we now percieve as the laws of nature. Intelligent design tends not to take this approach, but rather to argue that there must have been some other, as-of-yet-undetected force that accounts for the origin of the species. I think the idea is rather than solely having the scientifically detected forces in play (genetic development, biochemistry, etc.) during periods of history some supernatural force stepped in to actively change what was happening (i.e. create eyes in fish, cause the development of man, etc.).

Intellectually, I don't think there is much in intelligent design. I think it is product of a union of anti-evolutionary forces in religiion and members of the scientific community who are unsatisfied with gaps in evolutionary theory. Creationist religious folk point to ID as a psuedo-scientific ideology to replace evolution when in reality the science behind ID is pretty much non-existant.

At risk of seeming tacky and quoting myself:

Back in February an ID professor at Lehigh wrote this as a basic primer. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F70713FD355F0C748CDDAB0894DD404482.

On my own blog I wrote this response/critique.


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