Friday, June 15, 2007

South Carolina questions the theory of evolution

Transcript of today's show:

New teaching standards in South Carolina public high schools encourage science teachers to criticize evolution theory. Opponents of this policy argue that this throws the door wide open to inclusion—and perhaps emphasis—on creationism and intelligent design in science classes. Proponents insist that questioning Darwin theory will improve the students’ education by expanding their viewpoints of the origin of life. source: American Institute of Biological Sciences

Listen to the 1-minute broadcast of this story [mp3]

Sound Off: Science & Faith. Our point/counterpoint regulars Shelley (the voice of science) and Peter (the voice of faith), comment on the story.

The Voice of Science: Shelley Greene, Ph.D., comments:
It is the duty of education and educators to present students with a wide variety of viewpoints, especially those students with young and developing minds. This would include introducing students to alternatives to evolution theory. Yes, let them learn about and discuss creation theory and intelligent design. However, such discussions belong in a philosophy or religion class, NOT science. Unless a theory is empirically accepted by the scientific community as science, it does not belong in a science class. It especially should not be offered in a science class as a scientific theory, different from but equal to actual scientific theory.

The Brits have given this very issue some careful thought, and have chosen a wise solution. They allow open debate of creation theory, atheism, intelligent design, and Darwin. These debates are held in high school religion classes – banned altogether from science courses. Here, in American, this debate is stirring, like it or not. It will rage in our schools, in our churches, at home, in shopping mall parking lots, whether 'supervised' or not. In the schools, administrators and teachers can provide healthy containers for this debate, in any number of contexts: debate class, religion class, government, philosophy, sociology, ….. But please, keep this debate out of the science class. It will confuse the developing minds of our children.

The Voice of Faith: Peter Williamson, M.Div., comments:
The scientist or teacher who oppose an open criticism of evolution theory not only betray their integrity, they are dancing to the Double Standard two-step. It is a matter of integrity (or lack thereof) to abide (or not) by one's professional code. In the science community, that code is based on open-minded investigation and hypothetical inquiry. One is willing not just to question anything and everything, but to be questioned, with a willingness to be proven wrong and let the light of truth prevail.

It is a tremendous act of double standard when one chooses to selectively ignore or reject their own ethical code. The bottom line: scientists are afraid of truths they cannot explain. They relegate such truths to ignorance, immature thinking, religious blather, or the gibberish of foolish idealists. Secular scientists have claimed for themselves a holy ground of atheistic, materialist predetermination. They have drawn a neat and tidy circle around a realm of what is possible. They carefully guard its perimeter, lest any stray and questionable ideas enter and taint the purity of science.

They fear the loss of their science as they determine it to be. They fear it so much that they have turned their back on the very founding principles of scientific inquiry. It is an act of grave double standard and an unconscionable disservice to our children, who deserve to explore and discover the truth for themselves.