Thursday, September 01, 2005

More evolution crap

This New York Times article, shamelessly mooched from Zhubin's blog, chronicles a poll regarding the increasing appeal of "intelligent design" as an alternative to evolution. 42% of people are strict creationists. That means they think that life has always existed in its current form, presumably since God created the earth in exactly six days.

That's not particularly disturbing, though - it just means that some people put more faith in science than others. The most disturbing sentiment revealed by the poll is the following:

The poll showed 41 percent of respondents wanted parents to have the primary say over how evolution is taught, compared with 28 percent who said teachers and scientists should decide and 21 percent who said school boards should.

So basically, 62% of people believe that someone other than the experts should decide how an academic subject is taught. Teachers and scientists know more about evolution and its discontents than your average parent or school board member. Would you want someone with a degree in chemical engineering telling your school how to teach English? I doubt it. Parents and politicians need to realize that, when it comes to science, scientists probably know what they're talking about.

Furthermore, meddling with a subject in order to give it some sort of moral purpose has already ruined the teaching of history (see anything written by James Loewen). I don't want that to happen to science too. The purpose of teaching science should not be to make people feel good about their worldview - it should be to teach state-of-the-art scientific knowledge. And if science troubles your faith in God... well, it ain't science's fault.


Ben said...

I don't see how History can be taught WITHOUT a moral purpose. Just like with the news, it ain't "history" until we pick out which events to teach and weave them into a coherent chronology where there was none before.

Even "Lies My Teacher Told Me" and "The People's History of the U.S." are history books with moral purpose - the purpose being to highlight the experiences and POV of the oppressed throughout American history.

Science....well science is different.

Funny anecdote. My 8th grade science teacher taught straight-up Creationism (not even ID) alongside Evolution. It got him in trouble with the school board b/c that wasn't the curriculum...even in suburban Alabama. At the time, I considered him a hero. Sort of a reverse Scopes, bucking the system. Bear in mind, I was 12 or 13 years old at the time.

Mike said...

I'm not sure I have a problem with teaching creationism; my main problem would be giving it equal weight. When the topic of evolution is introduced, I think teachers can just say, "There are several theories about how life as we know it came about. Some theories hold that a supernatural being created our planet and life on it. However, most scientists believe that..." and launch right into the Big Bang and Darwin. As I believe Jeff pointed out in an earlier post, science revolves around theory. Better to briefly address the concept than to pretend it doesn't exist, says I.

Then again, that may be the beer talking.