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 Texas ongoing discussion of evolution in the education syste

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PostSubject: Texas ongoing discussion of evolution in the education syste   Sat Jan 24, 2009 5:10 pm

In Texas, a Line in the Curriculum Revives Evolution Debate

AUSTIN, Tex. — The latest round in a long-running battle over how evolution should be taught in Texas schools began in earnest Wednesday as the State Board of Education heard impassioned testimony from scientists and social conservatives on revising the science curriculum.

The debate here has far-reaching consequences; Texas is one of the nation’s biggest buyers of textbooks, and publishers are reluctant to produce different versions of the same material.

Many biologists and teachers said they feared that the board would force textbook publishers to include what skeptics see as weaknesses in Darwin’s theory to sow doubt about science and support the Biblical version of creation.

“These weaknesses that they bring forward are decades old, and they have been refuted many, many times over,” Kevin Fisher, a past president of the Science Teachers Association of Texas, said after testifying. “It’s an attempt to bring false weaknesses into the classroom in an attempt to get students to reject evolution.”

In the past, the conservatives on the education board have lacked the votes to change textbooks. This year, both sides say, the final vote, in March, is likely to be close.

Even as federal courts have banned the teaching of creationism and intelligent design in biology courses, social conservatives have gained 7 of 15 seats on the Texas board in recent years, and they enjoy the strong support of Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican.

The chairman of the board, Dr. Don McLeroy, a dentist, pushed in 2003 for a more skeptical version of evolution to be presented in the state’s textbooks, but could not get a majority to vote with him. Dr. McLeroy has said he does not believe in Darwin’s theory and thinks that Earth’s appearance is a recent geologic event, thousands of years old, not 4.5 billion as scientists contend.

On the surface, the debate centers on a passage in the state’s curriculum that requires students to critique all scientific theories, exploring “the strengths and weaknesses” of each. Texas has stuck to that same standard for 20 years, having originally passed it to please religious conservatives. In practice, teachers rarely pay attention to it.

This year, however, a panel of teachers assigned to revise the curriculum proposed dropping those words, urging students instead to “analyze and evaluate scientific explanations using empirical evidence.”

Scientists and advocates for religious freedom say the battle over the curriculum is the tip of a spear. Social conservatives, the critics argue, have tried to use the “strengths and weaknesses” standard to justify exposing students to religious objections in the guise of scientific discourse.

“The phrase ‘strengths and weaknesses’ has been spread nationally as a slogan to bring creationism in through the back door,” said Eugenie C. Scott of the National Center for Science in Education, a California group that opposes watering down evolution in biology classes.

Already, legislators in six states — Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri and South Carolina — have considered legislation requiring classrooms to be open to “views about the scientific strengths and weaknesses of Darwinian theory,” according to a petition from the Discovery Institute, the Seattle-based strategic center of the intelligent-design movement.

Stephen C. Meyer, an expert on the history of science and a director at the Discovery Institute, denied that the group advocated a Biblical version of creation. Rather, Mr. Meyer said, it is fighting for academic freedom and against what it sees as a fanatical loyalty to Darwin among biologists, akin to a secular religion.

Testifying before the board, he asserted, for instance, that evolution had trouble explaining the Cambrian Explosion, a period of rapid diversification that evidence suggests began about 550 million years ago and gave rise to most groups of complex organisms and animal forms.

Of the Texas curriculum standards, Mr. Meyer said, “This kind of language is really important for protecting teachers who want to address this subject with integrity in the sense of allowing students to hear about dissenting opinions.”

But several biologists who appeared in the hearing room said the objections raised by Mr. Meyer and some board members were baseless. The majority of evidence collected over the last 150 years supports Darwin, and few dissenting opinions have survived a review by scientists.

“Every single thing they are representing as a weakness is a misrepresentation of science,” said David M. Hillis, a professor of biology at the University of Texas. “These are science skeptics. These are people with religious and political agendas.”

Many of the dozens of people who crowded into the hearing room, however, seemed unimpressed with the body of scientific evidence supporting evolution.

“Textbooks today treat it as more than a theory, even though its evidence has been found to be stained with half-truths, deception and hoaxes,” said Paul Berry Lively, 42, a mechanical engineer from Houston who brought along his teenage son. “Darwinian evolution is not a proven fact.”

Other conservative parents told board members that their children had been intimidated and ridiculed by biology teachers when they questioned evolution. Some asserted that they knew biology teachers who were afraid to bring up theories about holes in Darwin’s theory.

Business leaders, meanwhile, said Texas would have trouble attracting highly educated workers and their families if the state’s science programs were seen as a laughingstock among biologists.

“The political games we are playing right now are going to burn us all,” said Eric Hennenhoefer, who owns Obsidian Software.


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PostSubject: Re: Texas ongoing discussion of evolution in the education syste   Sat Jan 24, 2009 5:13 pm

How many times does the Supreme Court have to say you have to teach evolution in biology and can't teach intelligent design or something to that effect?

By the nature of science, evolution is not, nor will it ever be, a "fact". The fact that it is a theory basically means it is a fact.
The United States National Academy of Sciences has this to say about theories:
Some scientific explanations are so well established that no new evidence is likely to alter them. The explanation becomes a scientific theory. In everyday language a theory means a hunch or speculation. Not so in science. In science, the word theory refers to a comprehensive explanation of an important feature of nature supported by facts gathered over time.

To further my point, take cell theory. This theory proposes that living things are made of cells. Now who in their right mind wouldn't agree with that?


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PostSubject: Re: Texas ongoing discussion of evolution in the education syste   Sat Jan 24, 2009 6:38 pm

There is a big difference, cell theory can be proven, but to say we came from single cell organisms and poof you have the complex human body, that never has been proven, and never will be. So far, every time science tries to prove the Bible wrong, they end up proving it as fact!

When they had the Darwin debate, it was to have BOTH EVOLUTION AND CREATION taught side by side, not Evolution instead of Creation!

It takes more "faith" to believe in evolution than in an intelligent creator!

Quote :
By the nature of science, evolution is not, nor will it ever be, a "fact".

Then it is flawed.


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PostSubject: Re: Texas ongoing discussion of evolution in the education syste   Sat Jan 24, 2009 7:35 pm

GoGetEmTigers wrote:
There is a big difference, cell theory can be proven

No it can't. If someone ever discovers anything alive that is not composed of cells cell theory is therefore wrong. As it is impossible to analyze everything that has ever lived, currently lives, and ever will live, cell theory can never be "proven".

GoGetEmTigers wrote:

, but to say we came from single cell organisms and poof you have the complex human body,
That is not what evolution attempts to say. Evolution by its very nature is a slow process. Nothing "poof" and then happens with evolution.

If evolution is wrong without question, please explain why bacteria can evolve (somehow?) develop resistance to antibiotics over future generations. Explain allopatric speciation. In other words, a group of some species is capable of mating and producing offspring. For some reason they are geographically isolated into two groups (call them group A and B). Thy mate within their groups. After enough time has passed the members of group A are unable to produce offspring with group B. Allopatric speciation is not just some crazy idea some people came up with since it sounded good - it has been demonstrated with species that have short lifespans/reproduce quickly.

GoGetEmTigers wrote:

that never has been proven, and never will be.
Correct. Science, by its very nature, will never prove anything beyond all certainty.

GoGetEmTigers wrote:

So far, every time science tries to prove the Bible wrong, they end up proving it as fact!
Such as what? Where is Noah's Ark? Where is the ark of the covenant?

Speaking of Noah's Ark, if one interprets the Bible literally, Noah's Ark was only around 100,000 square feet (about half the size of the Titanic). If evolution is impossible, there were far more species of animals back in Noah's time than there are today. How could you possibly fit two of every animal on such an ark?

GoGetEmTigers wrote:

When they had the Darwin debate, it was to have BOTH EVOLUTION AND CREATION taught side by side, not Evolution instead of Creation!
I'm not necessarily arguing against creationism, just the teaching of creationism and/or intelligent design in science classes. These beliefs do not meet the criteria of science and should therefore have no more place in a science class than reincarnation has in a Sunday school class.

Evolution does not state that God had nothing to do with it. Genesis does not give the definition of a day. Is it not possible that the term "day", as used in Genesis, actually refers to millions of years? Pope Pious XII said that there isn't necessarily a conflict between evolution and creationism. Pope John Paul II went as far as to call evolution "more than a hypothesis" The Roman Catholic Church's official stance is that science is more qualified than they are to judge things such as the age of the earth and the authenticity of the fossil record. The current pope went as far as to say:
Quote :
While there is little consensus among scientists about how the origin of this first microscopic life is to be explained, there is general agreement among them that the first organism dwelt on this planet about 3.5 - 4 billion years ago. Since it has been demonstrated that all living organisms on earth are genetically related, it is virtually certain that all living organisms have descended from this first organism.

The Rabbinical Council of America (an Orthodox Jewish organization) states that "evolutionary theory, properly understood, is not incompatible with belief in a Divine Creator, nor with the first 2 chapters of Genesis."

GoGetEmTigers wrote:

It takes more "faith" to believe in evolution than in an intelligent creator!
You don't believe in evolution any more than you believe water is composed of two hydrogen molecules and one oxygen molecule. It's scientific fact (or as close as you can get to fact). You believe in something faith-based because by definition you can never prove anything that has to do with faith. If I decide I want to believe that the calculator sitting on my desk created earth and all life and then converted itself to a calculator that only dates itself to be a few years old, you cannot prove that wrong.

GoGetEmTigers wrote:

catbox_9 wrote:
By the nature of science, evolution is not, nor will it ever be, a "fact".

Then it is flawed.

Then science is flawed. I should therefore ignore anything science says to be true since it can never be "fact". I might as well jump off a tall building because gravity is nothing more than a theory. If I do not die after jumping off the building and instead stay floating above the ground, the theory of gravity is wrong. If I fall to my death that adds evidence in support of gravity but proves nothing - the next person to try it might not fall.

----------------------------------

Critics are quick to dismiss evolution as garbage, but what are some of the reasons? Science has well over a century's worth of data and observation supporting evolution's case. People who are anti-evolution often argue it is inconsistent with the Bible, but this isn't necessarily true. So what are some more problems? The original article says there are flaws but doesn't mention any other than the Cambrian Explosion. While the Cambrian Explosion puzzled Darwin, there are plenty of logical explanations for this event.


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PostSubject: Re: Texas ongoing discussion of evolution in the education syste   Sat Jan 24, 2009 7:44 pm

I'm no Bible expert and won't pretend to be, but this can surely be "proven" wrong:

"The light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold. Isaiah 30:26"

The moon only reflects the light of the and does not produce its own light. The sun can never shine seven times brighter without killing ever living thing on earth.

You also have the flat earth society which actually bases its belief in the earth being flat on the Bible:
1 Chronicles 16:30: “He has fixed the earth firm, immovable.”
Psalm 93:1: “Thou hast fixed the earth immovable and firm ...”
Psalm 96:10: “He has fixed the earth firm, immovable ...”
Psalm 104:5: “Thou didst fix the earth on its foundation so that it never can be shaken.”
Isaiah 45:18: “...who made the earth and fashioned it, and himself fixed it fast...”

Clearly the earth is neither fixed nor flat.


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PostSubject: Re: Texas ongoing discussion of evolution in the education syste   Sat Jan 24, 2009 7:51 pm

Of course my point here isn't to bash religion, I have no problem with religion and won't say one religion is better than another or that no religion is better or worse than religion. It is my belief that none of the major religions are any more likely to be accurate than any other so I believe it is possible that one religion is completely correct. Conversely it is possible that none of them are even close. Since I see no way to prove any religion is superior to another, I think it is best for me to let others decide for themselves and see if they can't convince me while they're at it.

My original point is to express my outrage that Texas is trying to change what they teach in science class. I respect that some people think evolution isn't the least bit accurate, but the Supreme Court has ruled over and over that it is acceptable science and must be taught. While I do not think evolution explains everything perfectly, I do not see any reason to discard it and feel the problems, which are mostly minor, can be addressed through science. Just as religious people are able to use religion to explain any "holes" or "inconsistencies" in their beliefs, I feel science can do the same with evolution and its other theories.


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