Monday, December 19, 2005

Blame the Science Teachers, Not the Science Textbook

Media Matters runs a piece on Pat Robertson claiming that "evolutionists worship atheism... it becomes their religion." This fact, to Robertson, is enough to warrant the removal of evolution from schools because "this an establishment of religion contrary to the First Amendment of the United States constitution." My initial reaction was, well since we're obviously incapable of establishing facts in science, we are all believers, which means we all worship something. This means we really can't teach anything in schools anymore...

Well no need to dwell on Pat Robertson, this isn't about him. If you read on in this piece, you'll see that the ACLU is suing the state of Georgia for its supposed imposition of religion in textbooks:
Robertson was reacting to a ruling by a federal judge that it was unconstitutional for Cobb County, Georgia, to require the placement of stickers in biology textbooks, reading:

This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered.

That decision is currently under review in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. The suit that led to the decision was initiated by a group of parents -- in conjunction with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) -- who argued that the sticker constitutes an endorsement of religion in violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

I'm not sure that I read that right at first... "Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered." what to make of this.... Let's start from the beginning

1. "Evolution is in fact a theory." Any scientist in his or her right mind would say so. Why? Because a scientific theory is testable, observable, and disprovable. If you want to speak in real terms, you cannot disprove a fact. ALL SCIENCE IS BASED ON THEORY.

2. "...regarding the origin of living things." We'll come back to that in a second.

3. "This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered." Last time I checked, every good scientist, knowing that fact is not easily attained in any science, is already ethically inclined to act in this way. When a scientist strays from the pursuit of knowledge for the pursuit of data-fitting and personal opinion, he ceases to be a scientist.

So guess what? I blame the Cobb County School System for not better preparing its science teachers. They wouldn't even have to put this sticker on the outside of a single book, if the teachers were properly presenting what's on the inside. Obviously, fact vs. scientific theory vs. religious belief has not properly been taught to the children of Georgia. Ethics of proper scientific pursuit of knowledge have not been taught to the teachers or students.

I see no religion in that sticker's statement. What I actually see there is cold, hard fact. The real shame is that this obviously isn't coming through in Cobb County Schools.

I've already said what I need to say on the origins of life, so I'll leave it at this:
However, we must divide the disprovable from the unprovable. Most creationists want to include their beliefs in science based on the question of the origin of creation, not a living, breathing theory of how organisms adapt and change form. This argument is just off-base. When it comes to the question of the origin of life, most scientists wish not to include it in any curriculum because of the difficulty it provides to scientists. One pro-evolutionist, commenting on the hearings, spoke on this issue, saying, "It's not in the (school board) standards because the scientific community has not reached a consensus." What the scientific community has come to a broad consensus on is that evolution, whether fully accepting it or not, is the standard by which to judge its competitors. Creation is not even in the scientific ball park.

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