Tennessee makes it safe to teach "alternative" science.

NathanialG wrote:

When you teach Intelligent Design that is EXACTLY what you do. You are denouncing the view of everyone who doesn't believe a particular sect of Evangelical Christianity.

Again, I don't disagree with that. As stated before, I believe Religion and Science should be separate in schools.

CheezePavilion wrote:

It's because the people involved have had this discussion over and over. And over.

And over.

It won't wind up being a discussion, it'll wind up being a lecture on things like why it is NOT in any way a bold statement to call Creationism simply wrong. People aren't so much mocking as they are expressing their "not this again" reaction.

It sounds less like you want to have a discussion about science and education, and more like you want to have a discussion about how the theory of evolution makes you feel, personally.

Completely understandable. And like I stated, I did allow the conversation to drift more towards feeling, and less about science, I do apologize.

Tanglebones wrote:

Well ok, then! Now we just need to get the rest of your co-religionists to be as enlightened as you :)

Hah, in a perfect world man, in a perfect world.

Jonman wrote:

So, how about the science teacher told the truth? For instance:

"We have found no evidence that serves to prove nor disprove any involvement by God in the genesis of humanity."

That's it, from a scientific point of view. If it's directly observable and repeatable, it's scientific evidence. Otherwise it's not.

People bring agendas to the table. Science itself doesn't have an agenda outside of collecting facts. That's why I personally find it maddening when people attribute an agenda to science that isn't there (on both sides of an issue).

Rezzy:

That's probably one of the factors why the evangelists are making such headway into the system.

dp

Jonman wrote:

So, how about the science teacher told the truth? For instance:

"We have found no evidence that serves to prove nor disprove any involvement by God in the genesis of humanity."

I think the issue is the audience: a lot of the students are going to hear that and not understand that there *is* evidence that disproves involvement of *their* God in the genesis of humanity. And if we're doing that in science class for evolution, we should be doing that in science class for plate tectonics.

We should also be doing that in history class then too: we should be saying there's no evidence that the world wasn't intelligently designed by God to lead to Barack Obama becoming our President.

LarryC wrote:

That's because people keep trying to say things that contradict the very nature of scientific inquiry.

"Science is a process, not a belief."

is wholly undermined by

"You should just accept the Theory of Evolution as a fact."

It boggles my mind how people can't see those two as inherently contradictory, except if they have strange notions of what the Scientific Method is and what theories are. I take exception to lay people explaining to me what the scientific method is, especially when it's bent all out of recognition. Repeating that to me is just the same as me trying to explain what science is; only I'm an actual experimental and clinical scientist.

If you notice the process here, people are engaging TheConformist on a faith level, which is why he is taking such exception. I engaged him purely on a science level and he was perfectly okay with it.

We know that science is a process, Larry. The Theory of Evolution has survived--and been strengthened by--150 years of that process.

When it comes to basic high school education about science and biology evolution should be essentially be taught as a fact as there's nothing else that comes remotely close to explaining the world around us better than evolution.

Is that approach technically correct? Of course not. But we aren't talking about a group of PhD's discussing the fine points of the scientific method. We're talking about introducing teenagers to the basics of science and biology. That task is made hard enough by the public's idea that a theory just means any wild-assed guess about something instead of what it actually means as part of the scientific process.

And, no, TheConformist was not OK with handling things on a purely scientific level because he stated that he would have issues with a teacher correctly telling his child that man evolved from a common ancestor because that scientific information contradicts his faith.

CheezePavilion:

I think the issue is the audience: a lot of the students are going to hear that and not understand that there *is* evidence that disproves involvement of *their* God in the genesis of humanity.

See here? THIS is the core problem. This is not science. This is religion. This is not a scientific commentary; it's a theological one couched in science gobbledegook. If you want them to stop pushing their beliefs on everyone else, then everyone has to do it.

The default answer science gives when asked the question:

"Did MY God do X?" is

"No comment."

Anything that makes a commentary about God and life and all that - that's religion. That needs to stay away from public schools.

OG_Slinger:

See, your response is also indicative of the problem. It's also pushing a belief agenda, and the fact that you cannot perceive this yourself just compounds the issue. It isn't hard to teach or understand the basis of scientific method and process. Teenagers are well equipped to understand the difference between facts and theories. You will not dispel popular myths about science by making it even more mysterious and inconsistent.

As long as you cannot perceive the agendas you have in what you think are purely scientific discussions, you will not be able to expunge them; but that doesn't mean that other faith groups will not see them and react accordingly.

They are seeing this as a threat to their faith and that is why they are pushing back. If you teach them purely about science, they will not see it as a challenge, because science is not about faith.

LarryC wrote:

CheezePavilion:

I think the issue is the audience: a lot of the students are going to hear that and not understand that there *is* evidence that disproves involvement of *their* God in the genesis of humanity.

See here? THIS is the core problem. This is not science. This is religion. This is not a scientific commentary; it's a theological one couched in science gobbledegook. If you want them to stop pushing their beliefs on everyone else, then everyone has to do it.

Just calling something a 'god' does not mean it is therefore off limits to scientific commentary. To the extent someone believes their god was active in the world in a way that would create empirically observable phenomena, that's science in the sense of natural history.

What *you* are talking about is the core problem: people think just because they tag a belief of theirs as being religious, that means it's automatically off-limits to anything from the magisterium of science. It's not. That's how something like teaching evolution becomes politicized: having to sanitize what we say in a science class in order not to offend religious sensibilities, where simply speaking the truth without an agenda becomes "pushing your beliefs" on someone.

That's also how we wind up with crap like "the Civil War was about states rights" in our history textbooks. When telling the truth becomes an agenda just because it conflicts with the version of facts that another agenda is pushing, well, that's how we've gotten where we are.

LarryC wrote:

As long as you cannot perceive the agendas you have in what you think are purely scientific discussions, you will not be able to expunge them; but that doesn't mean that other faith groups will not see them and react accordingly.

They are seeing this as a threat to their faith and that is why they are pushing back. If you teach them purely about science, they will not see it as a challenge, because science is not about faith.

We've gone over this repeatedly, Larry. You should chalk this up to your lack of understanding about the nature of faith, especially evangelical Christianity, in America.

They will not accept the science because they feel that, at best, it clashes with their belief system and, at worse, somehow negates their faith. When clash happens, science and rationality goes out the door and you get what the Tennessee law pushes: religious beliefs dressed up as science to make scientifically illiterate people feel better.

I would suggest you take the time to read up on organizations like the Discovery Institute and their infamous Wedge Strategy to better understand what science is up against in America. They don't just reject science, they want it replaced with religion.

Total aside - Cheeze, I love the new avatar, especially in light of the conversation in this thread

LarryC wrote:

CheezePavilion:

Anything that talks about a God or gods is in the realm of religion.

and NOT everything that is in the realm of religion is purely a matter of faith. This is where you're going wrong. You're assuming that all religious beliefs are only matters of faith, matters that can only be analyzed in terms of faith. They are not.

CheezePavilion:

Anything that talks about a God or gods is in the realm of religion.

"What if I'm using scientific method to prove or disprove God?"

That still falls under religion, because it is talking about an assumed spiritual entity, heretofore only discussed in religious text. Essentially, you're testing a religious text with the scientific method - still religion.

If you want to talk about how the Creationist God is false and heathen you do that on your own time. State time is meant to teach kids useful things like what theories are and how they're different from facts.

What *you* are talking about is the core problem: people think just because they tag a belief of theirs as being religious, that means it's automatically off-limits to anything from the magisterim of science. It's not. That's how something like teaching evolution becomes politicized: having to sanitize what we say in a science class in order not to offend religious sensibilities, where simply speaking the truth without an agenda becomes "pushing your beliefs" on someone.

Just the way you're phrasing that reveals an agenda - that science is "Truth." It's not. It's science. That's why it's called science and not Truth.

Science does not deal in beliefs. It neither proves nor disproves such things. It should not matter in the least whether or not someone tags a belief as religious. Science doesn't touch it. Nothing that goes on in a science class should be religiously offensive - because it's science, not religion.

Whenever your science is offending the religion of someone else, you have to question whether or not you are unconsciously bundling your own belief systems into it. Always.

The Theory of Evolution is NOT true. It is not fact. It is a scientific theory. Taught as a scientific theory, it will offend no one. Stick to that and you will have an easier time telling Creationists to keep their religion out of your schools as well. Tit for tat. If they do it, you do it, too.

OG_Slinger:

The overwhelming sense I get from their movements is that it is a pushback against what they perceive to be threats to their religious beliefs. If you don't threaten their beliefs, they won't feel the need to attack to defend it.

LarryC wrote:

Taught as a scientific theory, it will offend no one.

This. This is false.

Here is a sample statement of evolution taught as a scientific theory: "There is scientific evidence that supports the theory that humans evolved from apes over a period of millions of years."

This statement deeply offends many people. Look up the Discovery Institute.

And if you can't say something like that, how can you possibly teach the theory of evolution in any meaningful way?

CheezePavilion:

Whether or not an item of religion is a matter of faith is best pursued in a THEOLOGY class, not a science class. Because, you know, science, not religion.

I don't read LarryC's comments as asking for a religious exemption from critical review. I read LarryC as warning us against the dangers of Postivism

We have established the scientific method as a tool for testing the validity of hypotheses. What we have not established is what kinds of hypotheses are scientifically testable. He seems to be warning us against applying the label "Science" to certain beliefs and assuptions that are not the result of scientific testing, e.g., positivism.

CheezePavilion wrote:

What *you* are talking about is the core problem: people think just because they tag a belief of theirs as being religious, that means it's automatically off-limits to anything from the magisterim of science. It's not. That's how something like teaching evolution becomes politicized: having to sanitize what we say in a science class in order not to offend religious sensibilities, where simply speaking the truth without an agenda becomes "pushing your beliefs" on someone.

That's also how we wind up with crap like "the Civil War was about states rights" in our history textbooks. When telling the truth becomes an agenda just because it conflicts with the version of facts that another agenda is pushing, well, that's how we've gotten where we are.

Forgive me for saying, but can't that stance be taken from both sides of the argument? Playing the devils advocate here, but if we don't have to sensor what we say in science class then why not start teaching all sorts of religious stances as science? Also with that outlook it would simply boil down to who is thinks they are "right" and who thinks they are "wrong", example:

"The world was clearly created by the "Big Bang" and then mankind evolved from "X", scientists have refined this theory and it is known to be true and there is no way you can prove God exists to solidify your belief."

"I believe that clearly God created the heavens and earth. Scientists can theorize as much as they want however, they were not there, so they can never successfully reproduce the same effect"

How can one disprove another when we don't even have the possibility to do so?

If

Demyx wrote:

"There is scientific evidence that supports the theory that humans evolved from apes over a period of millions of years."

Better to say humans and apes have a common ancestor. There isn't evidence that the common ancestor of humans and apes is still on earth.

Demyx:

It might be better to phrase that as:

"Most Evolutionary scientists today collate and keep evidence..."

That's just a fact and you can even take a population sampling of Evolutionary scientists if you want to express that as a statistic. It is relevant to teach children how the scientific community looks like today; even Discovery Institute parents can see value in that.

Oso:

Many thanks. That is a good interpretation.

LarryC wrote:

CheezePavilion:

Whether or not an item of religion is a matter of faith is best pursued in a THEOLOGY class, not a science class. Because, you know, science, not religion.

This is where you critically misunderstand the issue: items of religion and items of science are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Not all religious belief is solely a matter of faith.

The Conformist wrote:

"The world was clearly created by the "Big Bang" and then mankind evolved from "X", scientists have refined this theory and it is known to be true and there is no way you can prove God exists to solidify your belief."

This is a straw man. I have never heard a respectable scientist claim that the Big Bang is true for certain and can never be disproved; in fact, the origin of the universe was an important open question in science for a very long time.

"I believe that clearly God created the heavens and earth. Scientists can theorize as much as they want however, they were not there, so they can never successfully reproduce the same effect"

You also don't need to "be there" to gather evidence that something happened or that a theory might be true. For example, most methods of testing the Big Bang involve scientists postulating, "If the Big Bang theory were true, then the universe is likely to behave in certain ways. For example, if the Big Bang theory is true then the universe would likely be expanding to this day, and that's something we could potentially test."

And then they go out and test whether the universe is expanding. It's a lot more complicated than that but I think that's the basic gist of how it happens.

How can one disprove another when we don't even have the possibility to do so?

One of the major differences between a scientific theory and a religious belief is that a religious belief is falsifiable.

For example, a biologist was asked if there was anything that would make him question the theory of evolution. He said, "Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian." In other words, if complicated multi-cellular creatures showed up in a time period in which we believe only single-celled life existed, that would throw the entirety of evolutionary science into question.

However, if you ask a creationist what it would take to make them no longer believe in their version of religious creation, they usually say something along the lines of, "There is nothing that would make me doubt my holy book, as I know it is the true word of God." They're perfectly entitled to think that, but if it's not falsifiable, it's not on the same level as a scientific theory.

Better yet, we should encourage the study of epistemology.

That would give us at least a common language to talk about the fixing of belief.

What we are really arguing about is what does it mean to say something is a justified, true, belief. We are asking questions about how truth-claims can best be evaluation and when a belief is justified. This is the field of epistemology.

I don't think moving this from a science/religion/education argument to an epistemological argument will solve everything, but it at least would give us a common language and allow for more apples-to-apples comparisons.

The Conformist wrote:
CheezePavilion wrote:

What *you* are talking about is the core problem: people think just because they tag a belief of theirs as being religious, that means it's automatically off-limits to anything from the magisterim of science. It's not. That's how something like teaching evolution becomes politicized: having to sanitize what we say in a science class in order not to offend religious sensibilities, where simply speaking the truth without an agenda becomes "pushing your beliefs" on someone.

That's also how we wind up with crap like "the Civil War was about states rights" in our history textbooks. When telling the truth becomes an agenda just because it conflicts with the version of facts that another agenda is pushing, well, that's how we've gotten where we are.

Forgive me for saying, but can't that stance be taken from both sides of the argument? Playing the devils advocate here, but if we don't have to censor what we say in science class then why not start teaching all sorts of religious stances as science?

Because I didn't say we shouldn't have to censor what we say in a science class. I said we shouldn't sanitize what we say based on how offensive it is to someone's religious sensibilities.

CheezePavilion:

This is where you critically misunderstand the issue: items of religion and items of science are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Not all religious belief is solely a matter of faith.

If you can provide a critical elementary school science subject or topic that I cannot mutually exclude as a pure matter of science, I will concede the point.

Oso:

While you're at it, probably best to start training for critical thought at the elementary school level. I fully support your educational idea.

LarryC wrote:

Demyx:

It might be better to phrase that as:

"Most Evolutionary scientists today collate and keep evidence..."

That's just a fact and you can even take a population sampling of Evolutionary scientists if you want to express that as a statistic. It is relevant to teach children how the scientific community looks like today; even Discovery Institute parents can see value in that.

While that is just a fact, I guarantee you that there would still be offense to what you just said.

Furthermore, even if you phrased the evolutionary content of a science class in the least confrontational way possible, there are groups that would still want their religious beliefs taught in science class.

Oso wrote:
Demyx wrote:

"There is scientific evidence that supports the theory that humans evolved from apes over a period of millions of years."

Better to say humans and apes have a common ancestor. There isn't evidence that the common ancestor of humans and apes is still on earth.

I was under the impression that the common ancestor of man and modern ape was still an ape, unless you go back even further to that ancient ape's ancestors. But sure, that's a better and less ambiguous phrasing.

CheezePavilion wrote:

LarryC, I love ya man, but we have been down this road before. It feels like no matter what is explained to you in prior topics, you go right back to saying the same thing once the issue pops up in another topic.

In his defense, many of the regulars here are guilty of that, including myself. It's why Malor and I have the same conversation about race every six months or so.

I am not weighing in on the specifics of this thread, except possibly to say that I have had some blends that are better than some single barrels.

LarryC wrote:

The overwhelming sense I get from their movements is that it is a pushback against what they perceive to be threats to their religious beliefs. If you don't threaten their beliefs, they won't feel the need to attack to defend it.

Again, you really don't have a firm understanding of the nature of faith here and it's ongoing clash with science. It is simply impossible to teach science in a way that will not threaten the beliefs of certain religious believers.

How the hell are you supposed to accurately teach evolution, biology, or geology to someone who thinks that the world is only 5,000 years old without somehow offending their religious beliefs? You can't.

It's because reality clashes with their beliefs and they've made the conscious choice reject said reality. Science isn't attacking religion. It's simply discovering things that conflict with accepted religious dogma.

The only way to not threaten their beliefs is to simply stop all science and that just isn't the direction we should be going in.

LarryC wrote:

Oso:

While you're at it, probably best to start training for critical thought at the elementary school level. I fully support your educational idea.

Actually, there are good (scientific) human development reasons for not doing that. Younger brains are more able to accept Boolean logic (true/false, good/bad) than they are more nuanced reasoning.

It is only in late adolescence that some of our abilities to critically evaluate complex data develop. This explains a lot of why college undergraduates have problems with critical thinking. They have been trained in a facts only context. Questions have a right or a wrong answer. Then, at a certain point of higher education, they are asked to do more complex reasoning and it is very frustrating.

So, while I fully agree that why we believe things is as important as what we choose to believe, I don't think that this kind of curriculum works for younger children. We may be asking them to do things they are not wired to do.

LarryC wrote:

CheezePavilion:

This is where you critically misunderstand the issue: items of religion and items of science are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Not all religious belief is solely a matter of faith.

If you can provide a critical elementary school science subject or topic that I cannot mutually exclude as a pure matter of science, I will concede the point.

Plate tectonics: considering the religious belief known as Young Earth Creationism, you cannot make reference to any geological event occurring more than roughly 6,000 years ago without having to comment on Young Earth Creationism's scientific claims as opposed to faith based ones.

LarryC wrote:

CheezePavilion:

This is where you critically misunderstand the issue: items of religion and items of science are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Not all religious belief is solely a matter of faith.

If you can provide a critical elementary school science subject or topic that I cannot mutually exclude as a pure matter of science, I will concede the point.

The age of the earth. Some religious people claim that it is absolutely 100% guaranteed to be only a few thousand years old. This is false.