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Alternatives to Evolution?

| 65 Comments

A new poll shows that nearly two thirds of Americans believe that creationism should be taught together with the theory of evolution in public schools. The finding comes just weeks after President Bush voiced support for the teaching of the theory of intelligent design.

What's your view? Should creationism or intelligent design be taught in addition to evolution? How should science teachers handle the issue? What pressures are they facing?

65 Comments

I beleive that, if one is truly concerned about presenting all theories on the orgins of life, the "Design by Unintelligent Hand" theory should not be neglected. There is ample evidence that, if life was created by a "Designer", it was a rush job.

Consider the evidence:

- The dark. One of the big ideas behind Intelligent Design is that there's no way an eye could evolve. My contention? There's no way a Creator who wasn't an imbecile would create eyes that don't work half the time.

- Toes. They're just dangling there, off the end of your feet, with a bunch of fragile little bones. Combine these with #1 above, and you've got a recipe for disaster. You think Jonathan Ive would have designed something as stupid as toes?

- Nonspecific urethritis. I can understand a Creator trying to enforce draconian anti-sex measures by punishing people who break them with oozing pustules and fiery pain when they urinate, because, hey, that's what Creators do. But random urinary tract infections? That's just stupid.

- Gravity's acceleration. Stuff breaks when it falls at 32 ft/sec^2. A little gravity's good--you don't want your coffee to go flying off the desk, after all--but why does it have to be so heavy? And don't even ask what happens when you drop a bowling ball on example #2. You think the Creator hasn't done that a time or two and thought to himself, "My God, I'm a fool"?

- Tiger cubs. They are almost unbearably cute--so cute that if you saw one, you'd want to take it home. But then it grows up and EATS YOU. Good job, C!

- Genetics and natural selection. Anybody who's ever smushed a generation of drosophila melanogaster except the ones born with red eyes and has then seen the next generation born with red eyes understands the principles behind heritable traits and the idea that selecting for those traits makes it more likely the next generation will have them. So we have a Creator who goes to the trouble of making this simple, effective system, and then ignores it completely to create a billion or so species out of thin air. The sharpest tool in the shed? I THINK NOT.

Obviously, this is a theory whose time has come. Please join me in demanding that DUH be taught alongside evolution and intelligent design in our nation's classrooms.

Mr. Patrick J. does make some "interesting" points - very colorful, were they to be displayed in picture form.

However, it is difficult to ascertain his leanings and direction here. He (I think) is trying to compare toes and eyeballs, and is saying that they could not possibly be of the same creator because the former is 'stupid.'

We do not need intelligent design to confuse the issue any more. Didn't that come from the "intelligent designer" of NCLB, which is a worse issue? A non-teacher is deciding what we should impart to public school children, and that's not good, even if he is the president.

Every single thing must change in each of the social institutions for us to be really effective in educating children.

I see this as just another "distrator" that will take our focus, attention, and minds off our real work. Stop pushing Anne Frank, dinosaurs, and too much ESL. Bring back corporal punishment only when needed on rare occasions.

Oh, and by the way, teach 'Creation' and its "evolution."

George Murphy

Creationism and Intelligent Design have no content other than an assumption (a Creator created/designed what we observe). So there's nothing there to teach, in the sense of an explanatory theory that develops from the Creator/Designer assumption, unless you get into a particular religious tradition.

The point of teaching science in public schools is to develop a particular type of approach to what we observe. In this approach, students are asked to develop testable, predictive hypotheses that would explain measured observations. They are asked to study what others have been able to achieve -- or not achieve -- through the use of this approach. And they are asked to imagine what they and others could contribute with this method to the ongoing accumulation of results.

Creationism/Intelligent Design belongs in a Theory of Knowledge course in the public schools. There the merits of different ways of approaching knowledge and reality can be compared.

Teaching the controversy is only worthwhile if the controversy is scientific, and "creationism versus evolution" doesn't qualify. Do history teachers make room in their courses to teach the "controversy" over whether the Holocaust happened? I hope not -- the Holocaust deniers are nutcases, just like the flat-earthers and the creationists. Schools that allow the controversy to be taught will produce children that know a bit more about backwardness and how it plays in the media, but they will have learned proportionally less about whatever topic they _should_ have been hearing about during that lesson period.

Colin Purrington
http://www.swarthmore.edu/NatSci/cpurrin1/

We have so little time in the classroom to prepare students for future challenges. Can we, as professionals, leave religious instruction to parents. I have reached the gag level with the subject and those who perpetuate it. Just ask a college student how many questions on creationism were on their last biology exam.

Absolutely not.

I've looked into ID to see what substance it holds. It seems half a philosophical/theological argument against atheism (non-science, obviously); and half a statement that the subscriber does not think natural processes could account for all the complexity we see.

This second half disturbs me the most, as people have argued for and against God's existence ever since we could conceptualize such things. For one, people tend to reduce the current synthesis of evolutionary theory (natural selection, genetic recombination, and promulgating events such as the development of a shell or endosymbiosis) to mere natural selection. Even darwin knew that wasn't the whole deal! Of course it seems insufficient to account for all we see happenning today.

Another thing I've noticed is this: Although there is a vast difference between saying "I have a criticism of the modern evolutionary theory" and "I don't think it works," people in the creationist segment of society tend to mingle the two together. Many well-written critiques or question-spawning discussions have arisen, and many have been answered. (Included are Michael Behe's "irreducible complexity" question, the way genetic variation increases over time -- instead of decreasing, and how micro- and macro-evolution are really performed by the same processes) However, the mere existence of these questions seems to give people license to say "there is considerable doubt about whether the modern synthesis should be suggested as the best answer." Not so. More well-founded than the theory of universal gravitation (gravity), the modern evolutionary theory is a very reliable explanation for organismal diversity.

On another hand, I understand the fear people have when confronted with an explanation for things that (some say -- i disagree) "might rule out God." Of course, many monotheists (myself included) have no problem thinking that God could have made natural laws and chosen to let them govern the natural world and "do some of the work" for Him. I hold the idea that God created evolutionary processes and they're beautiful while being full of creation and destruction. It's scary for traditional thinkers to come to grips with biological similarity to other primates -- especially if they think that humans are superior in a _biological_ sense.

I can only hope that education will help America come to its senses.

It amazes me that the general public is hostile to evolution, particularly feeling that evolution is godless. What about the Big Bang? Sounds like God started it to me. Without a knowledge of earth science, you have people thinking that the tsunami near Indonesia was punishemnt from God, instead of fault lines in an active planet. Try checking out www.religiousnaturalism.org and see how you can be pro-God and pro-evolution. I think I worship a kinder God than the fundamentalists.

I seldom "re"-respond once I have made my statement, or expressed my opinion. However, after reading these responses, I cannot help but wonder why our children are out of control, directionless, and just plain confused about lif in general.

Mr.__ response is exactly the philosophy that permeates our educational system today. He is supposed to be educated, but he doesn't see that someone bigger than we are had to at least act in the capacity of an architect.

He is also a member of that not-so-silent majority that parades this Holocaust to death. It happened, it's done, it's over, so move on. I have never heard mention made of the millions who were persecuted and killed in Russia under Communist dictatorship. What about concentration camps in Japan, or Viet Nam? A person has the right to believe what he or she wants to, about any event in history. Mr. __ obviously thinks that is not the case.

The children need to learn many other character-building traits that they are ever so lacking in our society, and they are weak in reading and mathematics skills. Harry Potter is no excuse for getting them to read.

In another response, it is the parents' obligation to educate the spiritual aspect of raising the child. Let me say that even the RC and Christian parochial schools are not doing the greatest job of this either - teaching it as a cognitive skill, rather than a way of life. I say we educate the "whole" child.

Most serious problem in the public schools today: It's far too left, when it should be in the middle, and it will never improve in the direction we are headed - we're kidding ourselves. Teach by example: compassion, charity (I have seen many instances of this, however), class, and character. Every subject is important, including the arts. Let's be objective, unbiased, and focused.

Stop creating problems, only to be solved by bogus solutions, which are really not solutions at all.

GM

Thank you Ms. Noyes, and Mr. Meyer. We can have both, as you say.

No, creationism should not be taught in public schools. Remember, Separation of Church and State. Besides, with the new evidence just released about "Humans and chimps almost a match," Charles Darwin's theory of evolution is, as quoted in USA Today (9/1/05), an "elegant confirmation." This puts creationism back where it belongs--in the world of religion, not in the public schools.

Science hinges on the idea that the theories we espouse are testable, potentially falsifiable, predictive, backed up by observations, and open to later revision if new information presents itself.

Using those criteria, evolution and intelligent design don't even fall into the same category.

Evolution has been directly observed (in single-cell organisms, and in fossil records). It makes predictions about chains of descendents that have been borne out by later discoveries - including antibiotic-resistant strains of disease and "missing" ancestor creatures whose remains were later found. It is, in short, a scientific theory - yes, a theory. There's nothing wrong with that label. Even scientific laws are subject to revision - Conservation of Mass was believed to be inviolable, but later shown to be incomplete by Einstein. If new information comes along about evolution, then scientists will modify the theory to fit the facts.

Intelligent design is an idea that I hold with myself - but it is not science. There is no way to test whether or not it is true, and no way we will EVER be able to design an experiment to verify it, short of (perhaps) time travel. Nor can it be used to predict any other natural phenomenon.

There are other, more "scientific" ideas that fall into the same category. String theory is a fascinating concept that fully accounts for all observed behavior of subatomic particles - but there's no way to verify it yet, and no way to check its predictions. And so many physicists correctly point out that it is not even a scientific theory yet - just another guess.

This "debate" has become so widespread because people see evolution as an attack on religion. Darwin was no atheist, though - many scientists are more devout precisely because of the wondrous complexity of the natural phenomena they observe. But they remain scientists, dedicated to finding scientific explanations for these wonders, and these explanations are not exclusive of faith.

In short, let's reserve the science classroom for science.

What about NCLB? Don't we have to get a special certification to teach ID? My license says I'm certified to teach biology. Sorry for the sarcasm, I just can't believe we are still discussing this issue.

I think science teachers need to focus on teaching science. Evolution is science based, intelligent design or any other creation based story is NOT science based, so it has no place in a science classroom. Teach intelligent design in a social science class, but not in a science classroom.

This really intelligent design theory isn't a theory at all. It's a belief. There are no scientific facts to support it. You can neither prove nor disprove the existence of an "intelligent being" that is, by nature, beyond our comprehension.

That this "theory" has nothing to do with science hasn't stopped fundamentalists from trying to insert it into its science curriculum.

"Intelligent design" means Creationism. Teaching a religious belief with no scientific basis to a science class at a public school is rediculous.

That doesn't mean you can't offer a religious class that discusses various creation myths and beliefs. But that course isn't a science class. Different beliefs would need to be discussed, or multiple courses exclusive to specific beliefs would have to be offered. I doubt that enrollment would support separate classes for all of the world's religions.

This movement's sole agenda is to create a Christian fundamentalist theocracy in the US.

I will close with this quote: "It should go without saying that this is not science -- since science attempts to identify a process, not just a lack of one." Dr. David Eller


Actually, there are many Christian scientists who do work taking a historical document (the Bible) and seeing if science can verify any of the accounts detailed therein. See some of the following websites, remembering that it can never hurt to thoroghly investigate the claims of the opposition:

http://www.icr.org/
http://www.creationscience.com/
http://www.answersingenesis.org/
http://www.drdino.com/
http://emporium.turnpike.net/C/cs/

Yes, Christians are starting from an assumption, but they then seek to bolster that assumption with scientific eveidence. Everyone's gotta start somewhere! You can call Christians biased in their view, but I would contend that evolutionists are just as biased towards theirs. So why is it okay for evolutionists to claim to be right, and then to turn around and ridicule Biblical claims?

Besides, evloution is a THEROY, not a FACT. Therefore, I see no problems with teaching other theories, including creationsim and intelligent design alongside of evolution and allowing our kids to decided for themselves. (Becuase you can contend that creationism or inelligent design might not fit the criteria for a "scientific" theory, what if they are true? I doubt God cares for man's approval of His methods as "scientific" or not).

But the bottom line for me is, as an upper elementary/middle school teacher, the best thing I can do is teach my students HOW to think, not WHAT to think. In this day and age, kids need to know how to look at information and judge it, free from ANY basis (include the bias of evolution). They should know there are other options besides evolution out there, even if you don't go into them in great detail.

Although, my own personal bias is that it would take way more faith for me to believe that we evolved from monkies than it does for me to believe God made it all.

I believe that creationism/intelligent design should not be taught side by side with evolution. One is a matter of science and the other a matter of faith and religion (and politics). Much has been written about our education system - that students are not graduating with the skills that they need to obtain high quality employment, the skills that will be needed to maintain our productivity and our economy. Science is an area of concern. We must not wiegh the curriculum down with political and religious content. There may be other places in a school's curriculum to discuss the existence of the theory of creationism. Perhaps in comparative religion courses or history of social movements.

I would like to see the questions asked in this poll. Anyone with any sense knows that polls can be skewed to get the desired information simply by wording questions to prompt answers that support what the poll taker wants to get. Science is not my field, but I believe in evolution: it is proven by several areas of science.
I do not see any conflict between the Biblical 7 days of creation and the scientific explanation of how and at what eon each part of the earth's development/creation happened. They both progress in the same order. Who knows how long "a day" is to God? Since most of the process happened before humans appeared on the earth, we did not experience it.

Every time I hear more about this so called 'debate', I get frustrated with the inability of people to think and evaluate information. The schools have obviously failed at least two-thirds of the population because they cannot tell the difference between science and faith.

Science takes absolutely no position on matters of creation or faith. They fall outside of the realms of science as they cannot be tested, or used to make predictions. Many scientists have no trouble separating their scientific work from their religion.

Faith, on the other hand, does seem to be taking a position on science, a position against it. When the ID supporters could not attack evolution directly, they took a politically craftily approach to their beliefs and created an idea that mimics science but is not science. Now they are successfully sneaking religious beliefs in the back door of the school.

The reward for their success will be millions of ignorant young adults, who mistake faith for fact. The benefit to the ID folks of course, is that when you cannot understand something you will naturally turn to your church of choice, which is the provider of all answers to difficult questions.

If there is a god who designed man, he gave us this remarkable brain so that we could think. ID proponents would prefer that you did not do that, because with independent thought you may arrive at an idea not endorsed by their church.

If this battle is lost, we are taking a giant leap back towards a medieval world view. Just look at where state endorsed religion has taken Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, and Iran. I don’t think any of us would like to live in that type of society.

Teach religion honestly, as faith, at home and in the church. Don't hide it behind a curtain and try to call it science. My grandmother (a devout woman if there ever was one) used to tell me, "You only hide what you are ashamed of." Are you ashamed of your faith ID proponents?

Should Creationism or Intelligent Design be taught in addition to evolution? NO. Creationism and Intelligent Design are both appropriate in a social studies class, a comparative religion class or in a literature class. Neither Creationism nor Intelligent Design theories are appropriate in a science class.

How should science teachers handle the issue? Teachers should explain that Evaluation and Intelligent Design are not comparable and competitive scientific theories. The controversy is due to the use of a religious belief, intelligent design, as a scientific idea. The controversy results not from scientific issues, but from a confusion between science and religion. The controversy can be resolved by explaining what qualifies as a scientific theory, and applying that standard to intelligent design.

The four fundamental standards by which a scientific theory is judge are: 1. a logic standard; 2. an empirical standard; 3. a sociological standard; and 4. a historical standard.

1. A logic standard is composed of four key elements: It must be a) a minimalist and combining concept that assumes nothing unnecessary (“Occam’s Razor”); b) the scientific theory must be internally consistent (i.e. cannot contradict itself); c) must be logically falsifiable (i.e. some example must exist where the theory could be imagined not to be true); d) must overtly state limiting borders that describe whether or not any specific data are or are not important to the confirmation or falsification of the scientific theory.

The reasons why a logic standard is important for scientific theories are the following. First, a theory that is too complicated or deals with observations a little at a time has no useful explanatory value for a scientist. Next, a theory must make understandable patterns of some element of reality and the relationship between the elements. The patterns and relationships must be internally consistent because this is required of all reliable explanation. Of course the explanation must be falsifiable, if not by actual experiment then at least logically. Otherwise tautologies or illogical theories might be accepted as a scientific theory. Finally, there must be limiting borders to determine whether or not any specific observation or experiment should or should not be explainable by the theory. Therefore, if a theory is put forth that has unlimited conditions you cannot falsify it; you cannot correct it. However, what gives science theories their epistemological power are their ability to be corrected, by revealing their faults or limitations.

2. An empirical standard for a scientific theory is composed of four key elements: a) it must be empirically testable itself or produce predictions and/or retrodictions that are testable; b) it must actually make verified predictions and/or retrodictions; c) it must make reproducible results; d) it must produce a standard for the interpretation of data as facts, as artifacts, as anomalies, or as irrelevant. In other words, not all data are valid for testing any particular theory. Some data may be interpreted as factual (that is, they fall within the limiting borders provided by the theory and verify its prediction or retrodictions); some may be artifactual (that is, the result of foreign or accidental influences outside the limiting borders set for the validity of the theory); some may be anomalous (that is, valid within the limiting borders of the theory, but also at odds with predictions or retrodictions made by the theory); and some data are irreproducible and therefore, invalid; and some are irrelevant because they are not addressed by the theory at all.

The reasons why empirical standard is important for scientific theories are the following. First, it is possible to create a theory that is logically falsifiable but experimentally untestable (Einstein’s Theory of Relativity was logically falsifiable but at the time lacked the technology to test the Theory of Relativity empirically. For a period of time his theory could not be verified or falsified and was useless to an experimental scientists, in practice). For a time, Einstein’s Theory was in a scientific purgatory of doubt, but it did limit what may possibly be observed in the universe (limiting border). Scientist knew what to look for, where, how to look for it, under what conditions, or knew whether what one saw was relevant or irrelevant to the theory. A scientific theory that permits everything or anything cannot be verified or falsified by tests or observation.

3. A sociological standard for a scientific theory is composed of four key elements: a) resolve recognized problems, paradoxes, and/or anomalies irresolvable on the basis of preexisting scientific theories; b) pose a new set of scientific problems upon which scientists may work; c) hypothesize a “paradigm” or problem-solving model by which these new problems may be expected to be resolved; d) provide definitions of concepts or operations beneficial to the problem-solving abilities of other scientists.

The reasons why a sociological standard is important for scientific theories are the following. Any explanation that does not resolve any recognized scientific problem cannot be called a scientific theory. Any explanation that does not pose new problems does not allow scientists to learn anything they were unable to learn before. Therefore, a scientific theory must be stated in terms that are operationally useful to the community of scientists who might use the theory. If the theory’s definitions or concepts are not operational useful, then explanation says nothing experimentally verifiable about nature. In other words, the explanation a scientific theory is supposed to provide is not scientific.

4. Finally, a historical standard for a scientific theory is composed of three key elements: a) it must meet or surpass all of the criteria set by previous scientific theories or demonstrate that any abandoned standard are artifactual; b) be able to obtain the epistemological status among scientists obtained by previous theories through their history of testing. In other words, be able to explain ALL of the data gathered under previous relevant theories in terms either of fact or artifact (no anomalies allowed); c) be coherent with all preexisting additional scientific theories that already have established scientific validity.

The reasons why a historical standard is important for scientific theories are the following: It assures that scientific theories are correctable. And, correctability guarantees the increase in explanatory power of scientific theories with time, and supports the consistency and integration of all scientific explanations. Otherwise, a scientist can pick and choose data or evidence that supports their explanation and ignore previously recorded evidence and data that falsify their own ideas. The historical records of each science stand as a monument to the succession of tests any new theory must pass to prove its worth against the accumulated knowledge about nature. The longer a science has existed, the greater the accumulated knowledge in regard to any specific feature of nature. Therefore, the more difficult it becomes to reformulate all of that knowledge into a new and consistent framework.

The above four standards of science have been applied to the theory of evolution, but as far as I know it has not been applied to the theory of intelligent design. Evolution has concluded over the last 150 years that evolution has passed the previous stated scientific standards. How does intelligent design hold up?

Intelligent Design measured on a SCIENTIFIC LOGIC STANDARD: a) Is intelligent design a simple unifying theory? Yes. What could be simpler than an intelligent designer (who is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent)? b) Is intelligent design internally consistent? Well, it depends on who you ask. Intelligent design has been argued by those who believe the Bible is literally true, true but incomplete, allegorical, and mythical. I can only give a scientific answer to those who believe the Bible is mythical, since the first three positions cannot be answered in scientific terms. On a philosophical level, the argument has been disproved on purely logical grounds by a number of eminent philosophers. At least part of the intelligent design explanation is not logically consistent and needs to be revised. c) Is intelligent design logically falsifiable? Can one imagine any observation that could not be explained by an intelligent designer who is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent? No. Thus the argument from an intelligent designer is a scientific tautology. And tautologies cannot be a valid scientific explanation. d) Finally, if there is nothing that an intelligent designer who is omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent can do, makes the explanation unscientific because it has no limiting border.

Intelligent Design measured on a SCIENTIFIC EMPIRICAL STANDARD: a) Intelligent design does not lead to any experimentally testable predictions or retrodictions. b) There is no limit on the data applicable to testing intelligent design. c) Since no data is applicable to testing intelligent design, it has no need to, and does not, provide a standard for evaluating data as fact, artifact, or anomaly since ALL data are irrelevant. Since there is no data that could not be explained by intelligent design, intelligent design fails the scientific empirical standard completely.

Intelligent Design measured on a SCIENTIFIC SOCIOLOGICAL STANDARD: Intelligent design argues that intelligent design resolves recognized scientific problems, at this time, left unanswered by evolutionary theory. a) However not by the use of scientific investigation (Scientific Empirical Standard a, above) and only by rejecting much of the rest of science (see Scientific Historical Standards c, below). b) Intelligent design does not pose a new set of scientific problems upon which scientists may work. c) Intelligent design does not hypothesize a “paradigm” or problem-solving model by which these new problems may be expected to be resolved. d) Intelligent design does not provide definitions of concepts or operations beneficial to the problem-solving abilities of other scientists. In short, intelligent design fails the scientific sociological standard.

Intelligent Design measured on a SCIENTIFIC HISTORICAL STANDARD: a) Intelligent design has not met, or surpassed all of the criteria set by evolution or demonstrated that evolution has any observation that is artifactual. Any study of the history of geology or biology explains how intelligent design has provided inferior explanations to science explanations. Intelligent has had over 2,000 years, more than ample time to prove its utility as a scientific explanation. b) Intelligent design fails to explain all data gathered under previous, relevant theories in terms either of fact or artifact. c) Intelligent design is not coherent with all preexisting additional scientific theories that already have established scientific validity.

In summary, Intelligent Design does not qualify as a scientific theory by the scientific standards. Scientific theories are comprised of 1. contingent or tentative knowledge which is 2. organized to be operationally useful for 3. solving problems concerning particular aspects of nature that 4. exist in the here and now. Scientific explanations may not have recourse to final causes and may only be stated in terms of secondary ones. Because scientific knowledge is contingent, and because the causes invoked can never be final ones, science must promote 5. skeptical consideration of 6. alternative explanations that 7. are evaluated against one another on the basis of empirical and logical tests. Religious beliefs are usually characterized very differently. Religious believes are 1. comprised of absolute knowledge (“Truth”) 2. concerning values and morals that 3. direct universal aspects of human existence and 4. emphasize the supernatural, either in time (e.g afterlife) or in space (e.g. Heaven). Religious explanations are stated in terms of a final cause (i.e., some sort of god). Because religious beliefs are absolute, and because they are based upon supernatural (and thus unobservable) causes, religion promotes. faith in 6. an orthodox doctrine that is 7. established by reliance upon authority (e.g. a holy man, a sacred text, a revelation or President Bush).

What pressures are they facing? Science teachers are facing the same pressures that great minds have always faced from religion. Science teachers should stand their ground and refuse to teach non-scientific theories in a science course. A scientific theory is not determined by a majority vote of the common public. A scientific theory must be evaluated by members of that specific science. For example, we do not decide which medical illness a patient has by asking the common public to vote on it. We allow medical doctors to diagnose the illness.

President Bush time and time again has shown his disdain for science. For example, he first denied global warming (which has raised the Mexican Gulf water). When experts for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) pleaded for more money to reinforce the levies around New Orleans in 2001, he cut funding for the project. He then replaced the head of FEMA. Finally, he placed Michael Brown, a conservative lawyer to head FEMA. Mr. Brown is a person who has absolutely no training in the field of emergency management. Why should anyone be surprised that the levies in New Orleans broke and the rescue effort has been a disaster?

More examples:
1) According to Science, advisory committees are “the primary mechanism for government agencies to harness the wisdom and expertise of the scientific community in shaping the national agenda for both research and regulation.” The Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) requires that federal committees be “fairly balanced in terms of the points of view represented” and provide advice that “will not be inappropriately influenced by the appointing authority or by any special interest.” Yet instead of seeking quality advice from expert appointments, the Bush Administration has:
* appointed people with scant scientific credentials but strong industry ties;
* appointed nonexperts with right-wing ideological agendas;
* stacked advisory committees with numerous pro-industry or ideological appointees;
* opposed the appointment or reappointment of qualified experts, including some of the most respected scientists in their fields, on the basis of political litmus tests.

2) Distortion of Public Information
The public relies on government agencies for scientific information and explanations of complex technical matters. Applying a political filter to scientific communications can confuse the public and ultimately lead to cynicism and disillusionment. Unfortunately, the Bush Administration has:
* distorted Presidential communications to the American people;
* provided incomplete and inaccurate scientific information to Congress;
* altered web sites, deleting information that conflicts with Administration priorities or adding unscientific information that supports such priorities;
* suppressed information from agency reports that conflicts with Administration’s political or ideological agenda or suppressed the report altogether;
* eliminated key information from communications with international organizations including the United Nations.

3) Interference with Scientific Research
Federal funding for research and development totals over $100 billion dollars. The public expects that this research will be conducted independently and objectively. Yet the Bush Administration has:
* obstructed ongoing research by threatening political scrutiny of projects that concern social conservatives;
* obstructed agency research when the results might conflict with the Administration’s agenda;
* undermined outcome assessment, both by creating easy-to-reach performance measures for politically favored programs and by eliminating programs that identify effective initiatives that conflict with the Administration’s ideological agenda;
* blocked publication of research that may upset an affected industry.

4) The Effectiveness of Abstinence-Only Education
President Bush has consistently supported the view that sex education should teach “abstinence only” and not include information on other ways to avoid sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy.[1] White House Spokesperson Ari Fleischer has asserted that “abstinence is more than sound science, it’s a sound practice . . . . [A]bstinence has a proven track record of working.”[2]

In pushing an “abstinence only” agenda, however, the Bush Administration has consistently distorted the scientific evidence about what works in sex education. Administration officials have never acknowledged that abstinence-only programs have not been proven to reduce sexual activity, teen pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease.[3] Instead, HHS has changed performance measures for abstinence-only education to make the programs appear successful, censored information on effective sex education programs, and appointed to a key panel an abstinence-only proponent with dubious credentials.

Performance Measures

Over the past three years, Congress has appropriated over $100 million in grants to organizations that sponsor abstinence-only education. In November 2000, under the Clinton Administration, HHS developed meaningful, scientifically sound outcome measures to assess whether these programs achieved their intended purposes, including the “proportion of program participants who have engaged in sexual intercourse” and the birth rate of female program participants.[4]

In late 2001, however, the Bush Administration dropped these measures and replaced them with a set of standards that does not include any real outcomes. Rather than tracking pregnancy or sexual activity, these measures assess attendance and the attitudes of teens at the end of the education program, including the “proportion of participants who indicate understanding of the social, psychological, and health gains to be realized by abstaining from premarital sexual activity.”[5]

Such standards are not scientifically valid. A 2001 review of scientific evidence concluded that “adolescents’ sexual beliefs, attitudes, and even intentions are . . . weak proxies for actual behaviors.”[6] That is, even if teens pledge to remain abstinent, they may not actually do so. According to a major HHS-funded report, two “hallmarks of good evaluation” in programs designed to reduce teen pregnancy rates are evaluations that “[m]easure behaviors, not just attitudes and beliefs” and “[c]onduct long-term follow-up (of at least one year).”[7] However, the Bush Administration’s standards for measuring the success of abstinence-only programs contain no reports or assessments of actual behavior or health outcomes and do not require any minimum followup period.

The result is that the performance measures appear constructed to produce the appearance that scientific evidence supports abstinence-only programs when, in fact, the best evidence does not.

“Programs That Work”

Until recently, a CDC initiative called “Programs That Work” identified sex education programs that have been found to be effective in scientific studies and provided this information through its web site to interested communities.[8]

In 2002, all five “Programs That Work” provided comprehensive sex education to teenagers, and none were “abstinence-only.”

In the last year, and without scientific justification, CDC has ended this initiative and erased information about these proven sex education programs from its web site.[9]

Appointment to CDC Committee

The Bush Administration appointed a prominent advocate of abstinence-only programs, Dr. Joe McIlhaney, to the Advisory Committee to the CDC’s Director. This committee is charged with providing advice on “policy issues and broad strategies for promoting health and quality of life by preventing and controlling disease, injury and disability.”[10] Dr. McIlhaney was appointed to this prestigious position despite the fact that in 1995 the Texas Commissioner of Health under then–Governor George W. Bush questioned his professional credibility, writing:

[M]any of the items in [Dr. McIlhaney’s] presentation [on sexually transmitted diseases] are misleading and are quoted incompletely . . . . The only data which was reported in the presentation are those which supported his bias on the topics he addressed. Intellectual honesty demands that he present all the data.[11]

As recently as April 2002, Dr. McIlhaney asserted in congressional testimony that “there is precious little evidence” that comprehensive sexual education programs are “successful at all.”[12] This assertion, however, is inaccurate. A 2001 review found that comprehensive sex education programs that both encourage abstinence and provide information on contraception have been shown in scientific studies to delay the onset of sexual activity and can result in greater use of potentially life-saving condoms and other contraceptives.[13]
http://www.house.gov/reform/min/politicsandscience/index.htm

In conclusion, President Bush disdain for science has reduced the quality of life and the death of many in the United States. In history we can observe other great nations that have allowed religion to overtake science. Roman Empire fell because it was taken over by religious fundamentalist. This led to, in their words, “The Age of Faith,” (now a days we call that period of time the Middle-Ages or the Dark Ages). I wonder if the United States is destined to follow suit.

This whole argument is so ridiculous...Intelligent Design is NOT a theory; it is a faith-based belief system, and as such has no place in a science classroom. I think this whole debate is born out of the public's innate fear of "scientists" and the fear of what they don't understand, or want to try to understand. This is a natural reaction, so we have to try harder to educate them. Here are my two-cents' worth of suggestions.

First of all, we are not trying to use science to prove or disprove the existance of God.

Second of all, evolution is a theory and intelligent design is not. A theory is a model, a framework within which to interpret data and evaluate measurements, to make predictions and test the outcomes of experiments. A theory is testable within a range, but no theory can explain EVERYTHING. Not even Superstrings! A good theory is a working model which explains behavior in a particular range of energies. As such, all the theories in physics which have "stood the test of time" (another buzz-phrase) have been shown to be valid all the time in *some* energy regimes: Newton's so-called Laws, Special Relativity, General Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, e.g. For example, we all know that the Newtonian formulation works 100% of the time for predicting the gross motions of planets, cars, rockets, and falling balls, but in the realm of particles in accelerators, or galaxies with large redshifts, it breaks down. But that does not mean it is "wrong."

Intelligent Design is not a theory because it is not testable by experiment, one cannot define an energy regime over which it can explain behaviors and predict outcomes within a statistically valid range. You cannot use it to cure diseases, develop drugs for headaches and cancer, or keep people like Terry Schiavo on life support beyond their natural life spans! If one is going to throw out evolution as a theoretical framework, then one has to throw away all of modern medicine with it. Are they willing to do that?

Evolution has its limitations, and in the future some clever scientists will refine it -just like the theories in physics. But it is good science, and has served many areas of biology and medicine well; the fossil record is only one aspect of evolution, as I understand it (and I'm not a biologist, but a geophysicist by training), but that is the "offensive" portion that the faith-based people are focusing on, and throwing out all the rest. It seems they want to throw out the whole theoretical framework because they can't bear the thought that, somewhere in the distant past, humans and monkeys may have had one common ancestor.


Thanks,
Jatila van der Veen - Davis
UC Santa Barbara

Intelligent Design is NOT a theory; it is a faith-based belief system, and as such has no place in a science classroom. I think this whole debate is born out of the public's innate fear of "scientists" and the fear of what they don't understand, or want to try to understand. This is a natural reaction, so we have to try harder to educate them. Here are my two-cents' worth of suggestions.

First of all, we are not trying to use science to prove or disprove the existance of God.

Second of all, evolution is a theory and intelligent design is not. A theory is a model, a framework within which to interpret data and evaluate measurements, to make predictions and test the outcomes of experiments. A theory is testable within a range, but no theory can explain EVERYTHING. Not even Superstrings! A good theory is a working model which explains behavior in a particular range of energies. As such, all the theories in physics which have "stood the test of time" (another buzz-phrase) have been shown to be valid all the time in *some* energy regimes: Newton's so-called Laws, Special Relativity, General Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, e.g. For example, we all know that the Newtonian formulation works 100% of the time for predicting the gross motions of planets, cars, rockets, and falling balls, but in the realm of particles in accelerators, or galaxies with large redshifts, it breaks down. But that does not mean it is "wrong."

Intelligent Design is not a theory because it is not testable by experiment, one cannot define an energy regime over which it can explain behaviors and predict outcomes within a statistically valid range. You cannot use it to cure diseases, develop drugs for headaches and cancer, or keep people like Terry Schiavo on life support beyond their natural life spans! If one is going to throw out evolution as a theoretical framework, then one has to throw away all of modern medicine with it. Are they willing to do that?

Evolution has its limitations, and in the future some clever scientists will refine it -just like the theories in physics. But it is good science, and has served many areas of biology and medicine well; the fossil record is only one aspect of evolution, as I understand it (and I'm not a biologist, but a geophysicist by training), but that is the "offensive" portion that the faith-based people are focusing on, and throwing out all the rest. It seems they want to throw out the whole theoretical framework because they can't bear the thought that, somewhere in the distant past, humans and monkeys may have had one common ancestor.


Thanks,
Jatila van der Veen - Davis
UC Santa Barbara

Mel - at least you admit a bias.

Christians are starting from an assumption. Everyone's gotta start somewhere- how about evidence and reality? Evolutionists are open to new evidence, whereas Christians just point to the old evidence of the bible. Evolutionists do not claim to be right, just that the evidence points to this theory at this point in time. I would gladly terminate my acceptance of the theory of evolution if another superior theory were to be proposed with evidence, Mel - would you gladly drop your religious belief if another superior religion were to be presented to you.

Evloution is a THEROY, At one time, Sir Isaac Newton's Universal Law of Gravitation was just a theory. Facts are still being gathered to support this theory. Once supporting facts meet a certain criteria, the gravitational theory still had to endure years of scrutiny as scientists tried to disprove it.Yet, all the while, the forces of gravity continued to function, despite being only a "theoretical" idea. It was only after years of analysis and irrefutable evidence that the theory was accepted as fact.

A scientific theory is an educated guess based on specific facts. There is no theory of intelligent design, beyond GOD DID IT - All they have is criticisms of evolution.

You say "I see no problems with teaching other theories, including creationsim and intelligent design alongside of evolution and allowing our kids to decided for themselves.

Maybe we should teach the turtle theory too? "A well-known scientist (some say it was Bertrand Russell) once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the center of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy. At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: "What you have just told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise." The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, "What is the tortoise standing on?" - "You're very clever, young man, very clever," said the old lady. "But it's turtles all the way down!" Stephen Hawking

The best thing you can do is teach your students HOW to think, to look for information and judge it, AND recognize their own biases. You should also teach them that evolution is the theory that all things came from a common ancestor, not monkies!

There are a lot more things to study in science than evolution. I choose to believe in Creation and I think there are many facts to show this. But even if we were not created as we are, why do we want to figure out things it takes millions of years happen. We need to work in today, tommorrow and yesterday will take care of themselves.
(I have seen chimps that probably should have been men and men who definitely should have been chimps, but through all recorded history I can not see a man as anything but a man).

Although many of the participants in this debate don't realize it, this is not about science, or philosophy, or social studies-this is pure politics. The crafty right-wingers are just using this issue to solidify their hold on the fundamentalists. They also see this as another way to attack public schools. The ultimate goal is to destroy the confidence of Americans in our education system to the point that no one will want to support it. This is another way for the rich to avoid paying taxes. They see public education as socialism, and since they will still be able to get private education for their children, a way to maintain their status by stepping on the down-trodden. The churches are partners in this horrible conspiracy, because they foresee a way get to eventually get tax money into the coffers of their parochial schools. This is just another smokescreen issue that these evil, greedy people are using to create a two-class society with them on top.

Why is this an issue in this day and age?

First, there is a basic misunderstanding of what is science and what is not science. Even in this forum, I see references to "it's a THEORY, not a FACT." In science, a theory is the title we give ideas that EXPLAIN A BROAD SERIES OF TESTABLE OBSERVATIONS. The word theory as used in science is not how it is used in everyday language! Theories have been tested. Intelligent design is not scientifically testable. The few ideas they have proposed that are testable have been shown to be wrong. It is my job as a science teacher to introduce my students to scientifically testable ideas and concepts. And yes, when I teach evolution, I approach it as "How would you test this idea? Can you think of a test we could do in class? Can you research other ideas in the literature and see what other scientific results have been found?"

Second, what happened to separation of church and state? I have two children of my own and if I ever come across a science teacher spouting their creationist or intelligent design ideas in the classroom, they WILL be sued. Teachers do NOT have the right to use the science classroom as a platform for non-science. It is my job, as a parent, to provide the religious education for my children. Those who feel they have the right to teach MY child THEIR religiously biased ideas in a public school are definitely going to be facing more opposition than they ever dreamed.

This "debate" is truly ridiculous, for teaching how to believe is not part of a school curriculum. Creationism and Intelligent Design are clearly religion. As Mr. Carli said, it is also politics, but I think it is the desire to form everyone to one way of thinking, the need for power and the need for absolute answers. I am not sure just how the connection works, but both are there. These needs do not represent the Christianity that I know; they arise out of fear, not faith.

Science exists because of some assumptions made by the researchers.
#1 Natural causality.
Everything we test is assumed to be under the control of nature. Anything supernatural, whether you believe it exists or not, is beyond the scope of science and therefore cannot be supported as science.

To start my response I want everyone to know I do believe in evolution of all living things. I also believe that life had a miraculous start. We can use the facts, as we know them, to prove over time that life forms change to survive. We cannot prove how life started. We cannot prove a life form has ever created a new species thru evolution, and we certainly cannot produce life from any combination of compounds that are not from a living object.

In the discussions, we have seen a lot of material presented on science facts/theories verses faith. A lot of the points made are true concerning how we view science and use it to "prove" our theories. We define our variables to allow us to come to conclusions that we say must be fact. We also have read that our president has not appointed people to positions that "meet" the definition of the advisory committee or counsel on which they are placed. Again, this definition is one we have given to it. Is it possible our definition of a scientific advisory committee is wrong?

There has also been a lot of discussion about the separation of church and state. The destruction of Rome was even placed on the "fact" that a Christian belief caused it and the dark ages. However, can anyone prove that God did not destroy Rome for the wickedness of its people, after all they were feeding his followers to the lions and their morals were close to the level of what ours are today in this country.

I strongly believe this issue, like many other aspects of our society, is based on what we think everyone else should consider being right because it is the way "I" want it. Everyone must be given the right to conclude what is right for him/herself. The only way to do this correctly is to have all the information possible on a subject and then throw out what you personally do not think is true.

It will not matter how well we teach our students to read and write, do science experiments, solve math equations, and recite history if we do not teach them to think and use all data to come to conclusions. I personally believe in creationism as the start of life and evolution as the process that makes adaptations for it to live in a world that man is trying to destroy.

I do believe in separation of church and state as I feel that our forefathers meant it. When this country was formed, they left a country that told them what religion they must join. This is far different from allowing all ideas to be placed before a well-educated citizen who can think and make good decisions that are good for them.

Our society has progressed to the point where we cannot do anything with out wondering who is going to sue us. I do not call this freedom. We do not allow good parents to correct their children, yet we expect them to make their children be respectful, studious, and become good parents themselves. We do, as educators, correct our students who need our help and instruction the most by throwing them out of school and complaining about how they act. Maybe all families should throw kids out on the street so they would conform to our ideas of how to educate children.

The issue to me is not that creation and evolution are a perfect science that must meet stringent definitions to be taught. The issue to me is that we do not think our society is smart enough to come to a good conclusion after all facts, ideas, guesses or whatever one might want to call them is allowed and presented, so we must hide part of the possibilities. Withholding information that might allow one to come to a different conclusion is the best way to present subject matter and educate people…RIGHT. I know each one of us loves the fact that we always have all possible information presented to us by our government so we can correctly make good choices every time we go to vote.

We need to educate our students by teaching them how important it is to consider all angles of a subject. This to me means that, yes, both creationism and evolution should be presented and how they work together and/or stand-alone. Give students a chance, and they might just surprise you what they are able to do. Or, we can just teach what we think they need to know in any subject and let the world run-off and leave us.

As a person, I would always describe myself as a devoutly religious individual, who practices her religion as part of my life style, not just on Sunday mornings. As a public school science teacher who has practiced my craft for 29 years, I am totally against the idea that creationism or intelligent design becomes a part of a valid study of biology.
My classroom reflects cultural diversity in the same way that the kingdoms of living things reflect diversity. To insist on teaching a particular view that has its roots religion is not appropriate for all of the students.
As the religious person I am, I have no conflict seeing a hand of God in the organization of the universe. My God got a big kick out of the Big Bang and all of the repercussions that resulted from that event! My God is also great enough to sit back and "watch" the progression of life as it has evolved into the wonderous collection that we know today. However, the nature of science as I teach it to my students does not attempt to superimpose a religious concept into all of the events that have given us life, as we know it now.
True faith does not require the evidence that a scientist is compelled to search for as part of their job. If a religious concept needs to be taught then teach it in a religion class. Then the idea of creationism can be considered without being offensive to the diverse population that makes up not only my classroom but also the rest of the world.

I do not believe that creationism should be taught in a science class along side evolution. In considering a concept such as intelligent design, whose intelligence will be identified? How would this be defined? Within a public school structure, religion should not be taught. If parents do not feel that the religious beliefs they instill in their children at home and church are not enough, then they should send their children to a religious school, not a public school.
Will intelligent design name the designer by the various names used by the diverse religious communities of the world or only by the name of 'God' as is believed by Christians? Will the possibility that Earth is a seeded planet from a more ancient and knowing civilization from another galaxy or star-system also be included? There are many theories of how 'humans' came to be on this planet.
If we leave the scientific domain of evolution, then we need to also explore the many other theories that are available. I do not believe that science teachers have been trained to address these myriad theories in a way that will not further confuse students. As such, leave them to what they have learned and leave intelligent design to the family and/or church.

The idea that American public schools are too far to the left absolutely floors me. If that were true we wouldn't be having this discussion about why we should teach religion as an alternative to science. Creationism is, after all, the darling of the Christian right and is basically propaganda. Just what common practice is "left"? I think the middle ground is one that honors the traditional separation between church and state and sticks to secular educational theories.

I think if I were actually told to teach this nonsense, I would teach ID along with every other creation story that I could find. I would do a big multicultural unit on creation myths, giving students cognitive tools to think why people might have believed one thing or another.

When we were all done with that, I would teach the science.

I like Cindy Wilder's comments the best. It is short, positive and offers a proactive solution. Thank you, Cindy.

As for my own view, no mathematican would make the mistake of looking for the solution to the square root of -1 in the domain of rational numbers.

Similarly, no scientist should make the mistake that the "solution" to this so-called "debate" lies in overcoming the opposition with the valid rational arguments

The heart of the matter lies in the psychology of faith. Once one is convinced that a supernatural entity is guiding his or her own life or once one is convinced that his/her eternal destiny is at stake, any argument, no matter how rational, has little or no power to convince.

The battle is for hearts not minds. When we in the scientific community recognize this important fact of human psychology, then we will then looking for a solution in the correct domain space.

Since we all live in the same democratic society, majority views do hold the most power. That is simply a political reality. So dear friends, search the heart, the irrational domains in the human psyche for solutions to this scientific equivalent of sqrt(-1).

May our intentions to find a way of peace, reconciliation and understanding guide our thoughts as we try to heal a divided nation that is being driven further apart by governmental policies that promote fear and elevate anger by disinformation campaigns.

I imagine that somewhere someone is feeling very smug about this "poll" and how it is affecting the electorate. I can also easily imagine that the quality of your responses may allow allow certain political strategists to take advantage of this division in american beliefs to forge a strategy that divides the american public to ensure victory in the next election.

Do not buy into these "news" stories. Think of them like those students who try to get a rise out of you, just to watch you respond. Remember, the old saying: "United we stand, divided we fall."

Rather than focusing on the distraction of teaching ID or evolution in the schools, I intend to stay focused on healing the nation and the need for leadership that has a vision of compassion that encompasses all members of our society.

So stay positive, follow Cindy's advice and focus your efforts and energies on more important and higher priority issues.

Sincerely,

Gregory

I'm amazed that two-thirds of the American populace supports this type of ideology. It's our job as educators to teach truth, not to cave to current politial pressure. If a school district's voters decide they want to pay to have ID added to a type of philosophy class, then so be it, but this sort of teaching doesn't belong in the science classroom. It has yet to be held up to the rigors of scientific obervation and, as such, has not earned the right to be taught as science. Science does contain a good deal of theories, but these theories have held up under scrutiny. The scientific method is "the process by which scientists, collectively and over time, endeavor to construct an accurate (that is, reliable, consistent and non-arbitrary) representation of the world." To me, the key word is NON-ARBITRARY. Creationism is an arbitrary theory based solely on religious beliefs and unable to hold up under the scrutiny of science.
In the public schools, especially where I live, we are so multi-cultural and multi-religious, it would seem to me to be very marginalizing to teach this type of Christian-based ethos. How narrow-minded!!!
I'm trying very hard to be open minded about this, but inside I am secretly horrified that we are still going around about these types of things. Leonardo da Vinci was persecuted by religious zealots for his scientific principles, regardless of the fact that he was a man of faith. In days gone by, people explained the world around them using tales of the supernatural. Haven't we progressed past this?

Science educators should teach science.

Evolution is a scientific theory, theory defined as "a set of statements or principles devised to explain a group of facts or phenomena, especially one that has been repeatedly tested or is widely accepted and can be used to make predictions about natural phenomena"--American Heritage Dictionary. It is not a hypothesis, not conjecture. It has meaning as empirical knowledge.

Creationism is religous mythology. It has meaning as a metaphor.

Intelligent Design is less than that. It has no substance, proof, or value. It is misinformation.

I teach a unit on mythology before we delve into Beowulf with my English 12 students. We approach "myth" very broadly, as a story that answers life's great mysteries like "Where did we (humans)come from?", "How did the universe begin?", "Where do we go after we die?". We look at eight mythologies, including Judeo/Christian mythology (the Old Testament story through "creationism") and science (the story from the Big Bang through the evolution of man). My students (predominately devout Christians)struggle with the evolution of man story--but they understand the power of this story, and they recognize the growing body of evidence that supports this story. They understand their world is increasingly dominated by science. My students come to me after having studied natural selection and evolution in their biology classes, but their science teachers refuse to touch human evolution. This is obviously a mistake--science is science, and lots of science is disturbing and challenging. Our job as public school teachers is not to teath "the truth"--good heavens, how could we presume to know that? Our job is to teach science (in it's current and constantly changing/growing form), and to teach how we humans have struggled with big questions for thousands of years. Within the world of science, there is no controvery about evolution. It is a theory as well supported as the theory of gravity. Within the world of analytical thinking, all mythologies have commonality and purpose. One's personal faith in a particular story or a combination of stories is not the issue in public school eduction.

I am a practicing Christian and the wife of a minister, but I must confess absolute dismay that, here in this time, we are still engaged in this wrong-headed debate. The job of science is to talk about the physical "why's" -- the proximal causes of physical, chemical and biological natures. The job of religion is to provide a "wherefore" -- that is why any of this all is. I see no conflict between believing in a personal God -- that is, a God who represents ultimate personhood, not one's private property like a personal computer -- and believing that the Big Bang or evolution represent the best scientific explanation of how our creator moved. Genesis is an ancient text, passed down for millenia by word of mouth before it was written down. It bears God's hand in its wisdom and the revelation of God's promise of our personhood. It is NOT a science book. Do these "creationists" or "intelligent design" proponents go to Genesis for cures to cancer? for the way to make penicillin? Of course not. The sooner the stupidity of this non-debate is recognized, the sooner we can concentrate on the real issues facing today's Christian in education and in the world -- how to bring the Kingdom of Grace to a world that is greedy, self-interested, lazy, and suspicious. An old priest friend of mine said it best: "God's got a lot of crummy friends."

I have a suggestion. Don't teach either, because both are faith based. Many of you have stated evolution is a theory. You have also repeatedly referred to creationism (though I prefer intelligent design) as religion. People have discovered certain fossil records and made interpretations as to what they mean. Were you aware there are other, just as valid scientific interpretations, of those same fossil records? Probably not because you have been taught to dismiss intelligent design as religion, so you have not made the effort to actually research alternative theories. I wonder if you really know what you are talking about since you cannot have been exposed to other scientific theories. Look for articles on scientific research from the view of intelligent design in major scientific journals. Are there any? No. Are they out there? Yes. Mel L., in a response above, have provided you with some websites to check out. There are also some books available. Here is a quote from Lincoln Barnett's book entitled The Universe and Dr. Einstein. This book was in its seventh printing in 1955 published by Mentor Books,New York, and was written while Dr. Einstein was professor emiritus at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton. On page 118, we read "Einstein, who has been called an atheist, has no such inhibitions [avoiding the use of the word God]. 'My religion,' he says, 'consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble minds. That deeply emotional conviction of the presence of a superior reasoning power, which is revealed in the incomprehensible universe, forms my idea of God.'" What I see here is a man of tremendous intelligence who still senses, through what he knows of science and the universe, a intelligent being far greater than mankind. How are we so sure there is no truth to intelligent design. What do you really know? Did you even study this in your colleges and universities? I think not. I challenge you to check it out.

Evolution taught in science is based on the Scientific Method using Inquiry. ID has no such format. If The Supreme Being would be examined, or one of His creations be put to the Scientific Method ie. the Intelligent Design, then it could be taught in class right alongside the evolution theories. ID has no scientific basis. It is only a Creationism retread. Both theories should be taught. Evolution in the Science class and ID in Comparative Religion class. I cannot understand how anyone with any knowledge can equate the two. It would be like telling students in Sex Education that the stork brings babies, or babies are found under cabbage leaves. Of cours, that depends on the culture as to which theory is told. Maybe there are other theories out there also.

Several years ago, I took a Bio 101 course in college. The professor covered the Evolution section in a very interesting way. She put a continuum on the board - Creationism on one end and Evolution on the other - and mentioned that people fall within all areas of that continuum and named the other "categories." She told us about all the different beliefs people hold on how the world began and didn't add her own bias.

At the end of the course, I was surprised to realize that I had no idea what she believed in! She was a great example of how we can impart knowledge and let students decide for themselves what to believe in.

I see no harm in allowing kids to understand the scope of opinions/beliefs out there and letting them reflect on their own thoughts/beliefs to see where they best fit. This isn't really a competition. Like so many things in this world, we will all never agree on one thing, but it's best to have a complete understanding of why you do or do not believe in something. The well-informed make better decisions!

I have been asking my students to write papers comparing the theories of evolution, intelligent design and creationism for the last several years. After struggling with parents wanting to pull their children out of class when we covered evolution, I decided to make this option avaialble. We discuss the scientific prinicples versus the faith based "evidence." Even parents that demand creationism be taught in my class, are satisfied with this small assignment which allows the students to compare and contrast the three theories. I do not agree with creationism being taught in Biology class in the public schools however, I think there is room to bring Intelligent Design into the curriculum. The beauty and perfect mechanical design of organic and inorganic mechanisms is beyond the scope of what we can explain with evolutionist and physical theories. Even physicists will share that an Intelligence occured before time began, which was the Big Bang. Before the Big Bang, time did not exist. However, something did and to call that "something" Intelligence may be metaphysical, but so be it.

While I am pleased to see that most respondents want only science taught in science classes, I am disturbed to see that some who state that they teach biology think that it is OK to discuss creationism/intelligent design as an alternative idea to evolution. There can be no equating of the two. The first week of my classes we talk about what science is and is not. Some of the "is nots" include: pseudoscience, non-science (religion/metaphysics), and nonsense. We spend a great deal of time going over this so that everyone is clear about what will and will not be covered in the course. I also introduce them to peer-reviewed articles from major science journals and we discuss ways to determine whether the information they come across is reputable and scientific or not. When biology is introduced this way, there is no reason to ever discuss creationism/intelligent design.

Yes, I agree that creation should be taught. I don't know when it changed but when I was in school, evolution was known as "Darwin's THEORY". And from everything I've learned, it's still a theory. One that even Darwin didn't have much faith in. Our country grew and became strong with the U.S.A.'s "faith in a living God".
For 200 years our students were taught directly from the Bible. We took out the Bible, and now our students have no respect for God or country. I was at a football game where the National Anthem was played, and very few of our kids put their hands over their hearts in respect to our flag. Respect for self, family, God and Country have all gone out with the Bible. Morality, that which keeps us safe and respectful one for another, has gone down the tubes, since Godly principals have failed to rule over our schools.
Certainly, put it back where it belongs!

I believe creationism, intelligent design, should be given equal billing in American schools. Otherwise science is nothing more than a solipsismic whimsy.

Teach "Intelligent Design" as what it is - a great example of pseudoscience. It could provide contrast that would help our students to see the true ellegance of evolutionary theory and processes. It could also be used to clearly distinguish real science from fake science.

i believe that religion has played a vital role in human development but it is not a science. it should be taught from a sociological-historical perspective. religion is based on people's feelings, beliefs and faith in the supernatural not on scientific research and experiments. it's like mixing apples and oranges. the problem is that religion is posed as an alternative to science in order to derail scientific inquiry. it is an attempt to control the minds of people in society so that they will accept a whole host of right wing christian beliefs and political agendas.
it would be healthier to place religion where it belongs in the curriculum and not try to inculcate backward and harmful political agendas in our schools.

What disturbs me the most is that 2/3 or the American public do not understand what constitutes science. And, as a science teacher, I feel we are to blame. So, science teachers out there, how many of you design all of your labs so that they actually test an hypthesis? How many of you discuss what the scientific method is all about beyond the typical "steps?" How many of you teach the difference between science and pseudoscience?

Often todays science class is filled with memorizing a bunch of facts. Schools spend months on end surveying the Animal Kingdom, having students memorize Phylum names and even Orders of Insects! Not only does that turn students off to biology, but they learn nothing of the nature of science and what is the difference between a scientific theory and a layman's use of the word theory.

This discussion of evolution vs. creation would disappear if people had a better understanding of what constitutes science, and what does not. We, as science educators, need to develop curriculum that examines this issue across the entire school year. Continue to re-examine the issue. Show how scientists arrived at their conclusions. Show them through example and discussion that science is only able to answer questions using natural laws, not supernatural explanations.

Once we have educated the public, guarenteed we will never have to deal with this debate again.


Three quotations:

Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, then that of blindfolded fear. --Thos. Jefferson, 1743-1826

It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry. --Thos. Paine, 1737-1809

Gods are fragile things; they may be killed by a whiff of science or a dose of common sense.
--Chapman Cohen, 1868 - 1954

I agree with Dr. Hechtel. If you scroll up and read my other post (where I did not mention my PhD) you will see that that is exactly how I teach biology. I would be curious to see if those of us with PhDs in biological sciences approach teaching biology differently from those who do not have one. Perhaps that is part of the reason that creationism in whatever guise is able to maintain a foothold in our schools.

I am ashamed as a science teacher that 2/3 of the public believe that ID should be taught. But then again we (the public--in general) are a bunch of cattle that will do whatever our leaders tell us is correct (be it religous or governmental). People do not want to think, it takes too much effort to educated and actually have to come up with their own opinion about things. The United States is falling into a fundamentalist thought pattern, that is causing the downfall of our nation because people are unwilling to think outside the box and use their brains to come up with their own ideas. We also do not want to look at the evidence and determine what could have possibly caused such an event. People are basically dumb, I use our current head of state as an example!

The only scientific based theory is evolution. It is fraught with flaws and while there exists evidence to support it, a large body of evidence directly contradicts it. Both the positive and negative evidence regarding Darwinism should be presented. Darwinism, NeoDarwinism, or Punctuated Equilibrium or other forms of Darwinism should not be taught with religious zeal nor should they be presented in an oversimplistic, reductionist manner.

I believe both should be taught. Yes, evolution is more widely accepted. HOWEVER, students should be aware of other theories, in order to be well informed. By being exposed to both sides, students can be equipped and know how to debate.

Just as they are exposed to opposting politcal ideas, this too should be shared

We need to lighten up. Most of our students have plenty of smarts and understanding, regardless of their educational level.

Teachers should try to satisfy student interest, irrespective of the strict definitions or boundaries of any subject, such as "science."

When I am asked about "intelligent design" I simply state that many or most folks seem to have at least an open mind on the matter, although it is not considered to be a part of formal or natural "science." It is of course only one of the many questions to which we do not have a clear answer, including some specific questions on various aspects of "evolution" or "life" or "nature"
or "universe", or their respective boundaries or limitations -- if any.

(This may be irrelevant, but I happen to be an engineer who LIKES TO BELIEVE in a superior power and a hereafter, although he knows that he can neither prove nor disprove their existence. I certainly don't ever ask or expect anyone else to share these personal LIKES with me.)

We need to lighten up. Most of our students have plenty of smarts and understanding, regardless of their educational level.

Teachers should try to satisfy student interest, irrespective of the strict definitions or boundaries of any subject, such as "science."

When I am asked about "intelligent design" I simply state that many or most folks seem to have at least an open mind on the matter, although it is not considered to be a part of formal or natural "science." It is of course only one of the many questions to which we do not have a clear answer, including some specific questions on various aspects of "evolution" or "life" or "nature"
or "universe", or their respective boundaries or limitations -- if any.

(This may be irrelevant, but I happen to be an engineer who LIKES TO BELIEVE in a superior power and a hereafter, although he knows that he can neither prove nor disprove their existence. I certainly don't ever ask or expect anyone else to share these personal LIKES with me.)

The most prominent Intelligent Design proponent group, the Discovery Institute in Seattle, accidently released an internal document in which they described a five year plan to replace "materialistic" science with a more God-centered approach. The first step in this effort was to be research and publication in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Unfortunately, ID proponents skipped this step. Instead, they misrepresent evolutionary theory using mined quotes and faulty mathematical models, capitalizing on the lack of scientific knowledge of the public.

Scientific theories are challenged in the arenas of science, not in the secondary school classroom, in university lecture halls or in public opinion polls. If enough research is done, enough evidence is gathered, hypotheses articulated and tested using this new "paradigm" that the scientific community begins to show interest, then and only then should it even be mentioned in a science classroom. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. Science is about hard work, integrity and openness. Evolution as a theory has stood the test of time, and new technologies, fossils and evidence support it. Until ID's proponents accept that in order to be considered science it must adhere to the rules of science, ID should be mentioned only as philosophy, and I suspect that philosphers would expect better development of the idea before it is included in their curriculum.

I agree with Mrs. Keith-Lucas for the fact that for something to be considered science, it must apply to the rules of science. However, the theory of evolution is a direct contradiction to science. Take a look at the First Law of Thermodynamics. It roughly states that energy cannot be created or destroyed. But isn't the theory of the Big Bang saying that nothing came together to compact and then explode to create a gas that eventually formed our entire universe? The second Law of Thermodynamics states that energy is lost between transactions and becomes less useable. Then how was a tiny prokaryotic organism (which uses an incredibly small amount of energy) able to "evolve" into the many celled organisms such as us humans?
Later Mrs. Keith-Lucas said that the theory of evolution has stood new technology including fossils. However, there has been absolutely no transitional fossil ever found to support Darwin's theory. Every fossil found has been in a completed form and not one that could suggest a link between any two groups of species.The completed fossils point to creation instead of evolution. Unless the theory is suggesting that one organism was able to live for the "millions" of years it takes to evolve into another organism, I don't see how fossils could even begin to support evolution.
Intelligen Design is so often dismissed because it confronts Darwin's theory, but it should be studied because of that. Its basic theory is that natural cases (evolution) can not create complexity from nothing. That to me makes a lot more sense to me than the idea of nothing creating something. It has more logic than evolution and should indeed be included in school curriculum.

Scottish teachers on the subject of ceationism and intelligent design are qualified in religious studies and philosophy. We look at both as alternative world views and allow the pupil to choose their own opinion.
This subject should not be taught by people who cannot perform an element of 'epoche', phenomological speak for acknowledging their own bias and withholding it, in order not to pass their bias on to their pupils.
Both , and other underfunded theories, should be taught by suitably qualified teachers.

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I am a former middle-school English teacher who cathartically wrote an autobiographical comedy movie script about my experiences with teaching and testing. Since I have not been able to sell the script as a screenplay, I hereby offer it on the Web for free as a tonic to any bedraggled teacher who needs (a) a laugh, and (b) to realize that he/she is not alone. Please come and read the script at:

http://www.testingthescript.com

And tell a teacher-friend about it!!

You are a complete atheistist jackass. I hope in the last seconds of your life that you, like all other atheists, call out to that "no one" you claim doesn't exist...And I hope you get your answer. Believe me, he has created a special place for you. Bon Voyage!

I have a question for anyone who will answer. If cats can only reproduce with cats, and dogs with dogs, and cows with cows and etc. Why can't monkeys reproduce with humans? I think we all know the answer to that. Cause they are definately not related. Imagine...Uncle King Kong, or dear old Auntie Cheeta. What a family reunion...I'm glad it's not mine.

Medicine for peace certainly has a chance for success, but I think many of the Islamic countries will be more than glad to take our medicine while continuing on their Jihad at the same time. I am skeptical, but hopeful. WBR LeoP

I fully understand and appreciate your conflict. Its a very real issue facing Americans. We all have to deal and find the gray in the middle were most comfortable with. WBR LeoP

I think that evolution is simply a hypothesis and so is Creationism and Intelligent Design - neither of all of this should be thaught in public schools because it has to do with beilef and must go to philosophy class in college.

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