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Professor Slams Intelligent Design

Intelligent Design Science Education

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#1 DWF

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Posted 12 October 2005 - 09:34 PM

http://news.yahoo.co...fe_evolution_dc

Quote

Pennsylvania (Reuters) - A professor on Wednesday slammed the teaching of intelligent design as a blow to science education as he testified in a lawsuit over whether the theory should be introduced in schools as an alternative to evolution.

Teaching intelligent design is "probably the worst thing I have ever heard of in science education," said Brian Alters, who teaches science education at Harvard University and McGill University in Montreal and was called as an expert witness by parents suing the Dover, Pennsylvania, school district.

The federal court trial over teaching theories of human origins in U.S. schools pits Christian conservatives, who say nature is so complex it must have been the work of a God-like creator, against teachers and scientists who back Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.

The case, seen as a major test of the issue, has echoes of the famed Scopes Monkey trial of 1925 when lawyers squared off in a Tennessee courthouse over the teaching of Darwin's work.

In Dover schools, ninth-grade biology students are given a four-paragraph statement suggesting intelligent design as an alternative to evolution and steering them to a book explaining the theory. The district says the policy does not amount to teaching.

The 11 parents bringing the federal lawsuit say the policy is religiously based and illegal because it violates the U.S. Constitution's separation of church and state.

Alters testified the statement amounted to teaching because it was part of the learning process and that teaching the theory may force students to choose between God and science.

"Evolution does not deny the existence of God," he said. "It's not about God. You can play the game of science and still have your religious beliefs."

This could get interesting.

Edited by DWF, 14 October 2005 - 06:34 PM.

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#2 Nonny

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Posted 12 October 2005 - 09:49 PM

DWF, on Oct 12 2005, 06:34 PM, said:

Alters cited a recent survey by the 50,000-member National Science Teachers Association showing that 31 percent of its members reported being under pressure to teach creationism or other nonscientific beliefs in science classes.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

That many?!!  :eek2:  :eek2:  :eek2:  

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#3 JchaosRS

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Posted 12 October 2005 - 11:53 PM

^Thats scary.
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#4 eloisel

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 12:16 AM

I don't remember "Intelligent Design" being taught in school.  Is there some reason why the teachers can't continue teaching Science at school and "Intelligent Design" be taught by church sponsored Sunday schools?  Or isn't that being taught in Sunday School anymore?

#5 Avalon

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 08:35 AM

DWF, on Oct 12 2005, 10:34 PM, said:

http://news.yahoo.co...fe_evolution_dc

Quote


In Dover schools, ninth-grade biology students are given a four-paragraph statement suggesting intelligent design as an alternative to evolution and steering them to a book explaining the theory. The district says the policy does not amount to teaching.


<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



It's a shame we don't have those 4 paragraphs to read for ourselves.  I'd be very interested in how they're worded.  I don't have a problem with alternate ideas being presented to students as something to think about.  (After all, shouldn't we be teaching students how to think for themselves, how to evaluate an idea for its merits or lack thereof?)  I do think it'd be appropriate to send a note home to the parents before this section is covered, letting them know the contents and allowing their kids to skip it if the parents feel strongly about it.

#6 Spectacles

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 08:55 AM

I'm wondering what there is to teach about Intelligent Design. What the Dover teachers have to do--read those four paragraphs to the class directing them to go read about it in the library--isn't teaching; it's the equivalent of slapping a religious-themed warning label on the subject.

People want to know why public education is turning out uncritical thinkers? Part of it is that teachers are afraid that any idea they introduce to their students will be controversial and result in some foolishness like this. So they play it safe and avoid any topic that might possibly offend or challenge the cherished beliefs of anyone in the community.

Back in...1970, in my high school Advanced Biology class, here's how we dealt with the antipathy towards evolution. We had a great teacher. She was young and smart and we respected her. She taught; we learned; everything was cool. One day, we moved into evolution. One of the boys, Frank, practically stood in the seat of his desk and went on a tirade against evolution. "I KNOW WHO CREATED THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH! MY GOD DID!" Blah blah blah. Now, he was a fairly well-liked, easy-going guy, so this outburst was surprising. This was the South, mind you, so nearly everyone was Baptist or Methodist with a sprinkling of Prebyterians and Church of God people. A few agreed with Fred. Many argued that they saw evolution as not incompatible with Genesis and saw no reason to see it as a threat to their faith. That simmered Fred down and we went on with the study of evolution. What did the teacher say? Not a thing. She literally stepped back, folded her hands behind her back, let Fred have his say, let others respond, and when she saw that we had resolved the issue and the majority was willing to continue, she taught. If I recall correctly, the only thing she said was that if we are going to be critical of a theory, we have to know it first.

So this business of forcing teachers to read a four paragraph disclaimer of evolution/invitation to study Intelligent Design is, to me, an unnecessary intrusion into the classroom, and it presumes that teachers have no idea how to approach the topic with sensitivity. Some don't; that's true. But those are the teachers that need to be weeded out. The answer is not to hand teachers scripts.

Edited by Spectacles, 13 October 2005 - 08:56 AM.

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#7 Rhiannonjk

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 09:09 AM

Specs - my situation was not unlike yours, except there was no student willing to speak out.  The teacher finished telling us the basic theory of evolution, then said "I am not allowed to bring up any religious aspects of this, but if any of you would like to bring up ways that this might conflict with theories you have heard before, I encourage you to discuss them now."
Nobody said anything - but now I wonder what some of her other classes may have been like where there were people who spoke up.

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#8 Lin731

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 10:55 AM

Quote

It's a shame we don't have those 4 paragraphs to read for ourselves. I'd be very interested in how they're worded. I don't have a problem with alternate ideas being presented to students as something to think about. (After all, shouldn't we be teaching students how to think for themselves, how to evaluate an idea for its merits or lack thereof?) I do think it'd be appropriate to send a note home to the parents before this section is covered, letting them know the contents and allowing their kids to skip it if the parents feel strongly about it.


Should we teach the "flat Earth" theory too? This is the problem with ID being taught or considered as an alternate theory...It has no factual basis to support it. It's not even a theory in mainstream science, it's not been peer reviewed...It's just not science. If ID wants to be considered real science, considered as a real alternative to established science, it must prove it's case and to this point ID has done nothing toward that end. If these ID scientists truly beleive in ID, they need to do the hard work of making a real case for it. They have to have the conviction (and more importantly the evidence) to present their case to the scientific community to be studied...ID hasn't done that and until they do, their concept is no more credible than "Flat Earth" or "The-Moon-Is-Made-Of-Cheese" theories. Unsupported theory has no place being taught in the classroom.
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#9 Godeskian

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 11:01 AM

I asume that all the ID proponents also support other non-christian creation and existence to be taught as alternatives?

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#10 Jid

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 11:15 AM

Godeskian, on Oct 13 2005, 10:01 AM, said:

I asume that all the ID proponents also support other non-christian creation and existence to be taught as alternatives?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Like, perchance, FSMism Gode? ;)

Edited by Jid, 13 October 2005 - 11:15 AM.

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#11 Themis

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 11:17 AM

Godeskian, on Oct 13 2005, 04:01 PM, said:

I asume that all the ID proponents also support other non-christian creation and existence to be taught as alternatives?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Dream on!!  To these people it's the Christian way or the highway.  Christianity against those foolish scientists.  Most were probably never taught any non-Christian alternatives.

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#12 emsparks

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 12:01 PM

I have a question and it is not as flippant as it may appear at first.

Is God an emergent property of the universe as a whole, or is the universe as a whole an emergent property of God.
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#13 sierraleone

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 12:06 PM

^ you you mean from the intelligent design perspective, or is that a question you're fielding to anyone?
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#14 Themis

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 12:18 PM

Or is he/she/it nonexistant?

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#15 enTranced

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 12:56 PM

Jid, on Oct 13 2005, 04:15 PM, said:

Godeskian, on Oct 13 2005, 10:01 AM, said:

I asume that all the ID proponents also support other non-christian creation and existence to be taught as alternatives?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Like, perchance, FSMism Gode? ;)

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


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#16 emsparks

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 01:09 PM

sierraleone, on Oct 13 2005, 01:06 PM, said:

^ you you mean from the intelligent design perspective, or is that a question you're fielding to anyone?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


anyone...
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#17 Palisades

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 02:16 PM

Intelligent design doesn't fly. For starters, people have the worse than useless appendix. It does nothing -- unless it gets infected and kills you.
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#18 Rhiannonjk

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 02:19 PM

Solar Wind, on Oct 13 2005, 03:16 PM, said:

Intelligent design doesn't fly. For starters, people have the worse than useless appendix. It does nothing -- unless it gets infected and kills you.

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Perhaps that was a plan.  I'm sure bolts of lightning get boring after some point...

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#19 Palisades

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 02:24 PM

^ Not to mention hurricanes that drown people to death and leave cute puppies stranded and starving.
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#20 Godeskian

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 02:49 PM

The problem is that ID is being suggested as an alternative for evolution

Unfortunately ID is a doctrine (not a theory, as it is not testable by any means and makes no predictions) that concerns itself with origin of the univers and species creation, two topics that evolution is completely silent about.

Unfortunately, proponents of ID like to smush the fields of biology, astrophysics and abiogenesis into one lump and call it evolution.

For clarity, evolution is only concerned with heritable changes to the species. ID is totally, utterly and completely silent on this topic.

Edited by Godeskian, 13 October 2005 - 02:49 PM.

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