Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Evolution vs ID in public education

There is an ongoing debate in the real of public education of whether or not ID/ Creationism should be taught in public high schools or not. In general, what do you think about this debate? Is allowing creationism in schools necessarily a bad thing when taught in conjunction with evolution?

This is a list of 16 states that directly or indirectly encourage ID to be taught in schools, Not the geography of the states and comment on why you think the distribution is so.

From here, take several ideas from the creationist side and refute them using either examples from the book but also using the idea that evolution is a science.


  1. Primary High School education is a public government supported academic facility. To meet the standards of a government-supported facility, it must abide by the laws of the Constitution. Originally proposed by John Locke and Thomas Jefferson, the First Amendment sought to make a "wall" between the church and the state--the state being government laws and institutions.
    With this background established, evolution is a scientific theory that predicts, explains, and demonstrates how all the species on Earth came to be. Evolution is verifiable via observation of fast-reproducing microorganisms such as E. coli, or observed through historical fossil evidence and tested dating techniques such as carbon dating. Evolution can predict that there will be certain organisms with positively adaptive traits according to their environments. Evolution can also be falsified--by presenting opposing information, such as the existence of humans int he same time period as dinosaurs, or if species sporadically appear, or if certain organisms don't fit their environments. However, evolution describes how all of these things happen, and still has not been falsified.

    Creationism is a primarily religious belief that each and every species were created by a supernatural deity. As explained earlier in this post, religion and the state do not mix. Proven in 1982 and 1987 in the court cases McLean vs. Arkansas Board of Education and Edwards vs. Aguillard, Creationism had a religious bias towards Christianity as well as violating the constitutional rights granted to the public institutions. Thus, Creationism was no longer a viable education, nor scientific perspective on the origin of species.
    In recent years, the introduction of ID, or Intelligent Design (with an uncanny resemblance with Creationism), seemed to be another obstacle that the scientifically viable and proven, tested, and observed facts of evolution had to face. Intelligent Design, was once again proven to be "unscientific" (due to lack of evidence supporting their claims), holding a religious standpoint, and was declared illegal to be taught along with evolution in public classrooms, as established in the famous Kitzmiller vs. Dover Area School District.

    In this U.S. as the Constitution mandates, the teaching of either Creationism and Intelligent Design in public school as a fact is illegal.

    Opinion-wise, there is not much to say, both Creationist and ID proponents lack evidence for their side, and only seek to attack the opposition, cannot be tested, observed, nor can the "theory" make predictions or explain how, what, or even who made all the species. Clearly, these religiously-funded, religiously-supported, and religiously-biased "theories" have no place in a place of scientific and logical thought.

    Why evolution is True

    Today Date is : Weds. April 14th, 12:33 Am Central Time.

  2. Allowing creationism to be taught in schools is an absolutely horrible idea. Firstly, creationism is absolutely false in the entire belief (1). Other than being created by a divine being, every single part of creationist theory has been dis proven. Secondly, creationism can in no way be tested, because it makes no scientific claims. Since their most fundamental statement, "G-d created us," cannot be tested, this does not even qualify to be a science in school, and that would be the only thing it could qualify for.

    On the other hand, ideas such as intelligent design, they should at least be promoted in school. Intelligent design makes concessions to evolution, while maintaining the idea that natural selection is false (2). This at least, allows for some leeway when discussing the subject. Not to mention, ID makes the attempt to use scientific information, unlike creationism. Since the fundamental statement that "G-d made us" cannot be disputed, then another way must be found to prove ID. Proponents of ID use scientific evidence to dis prove (or at least, attempt to do so) evolution. Therefore, it does attempt to at least imitate a science.

    Theistic evolution is another alternative to Darwinistic evolution. This theory explains that all life was created, but evolution and other natural processes drive life (3). However, this science admits that evolution is entirely true, but manages to add G-d into the mix, so as close as it is to a real science, teaching it would only violate the Seperation of Church and State clause of the constitution.

    As much as I would love for evolution to be taught along side ID, I don't see it being beneficial to the student and the overall learning process. However, I do believe that the school should make an attempt to promote, or at least, open students to the beliefs of ID, so they can research the topic further and make decisions for themselves on what to believe, vs being spoon-fed all the information.

    Many of the states seem to be located in the South/Midwest. I believe that this is because (and I don't mean to generalize), but many farmers and smaller communities exist in these areas. These people are historical more poorly educated than people of the northeast. So really, most of the people there aren't being ignorant, its just a lack of educational knowledge.

    Many ideas of creationism, have been completely dis proven, but since you ask specifically for that, I will address it. Firstly, creationists believe that the world is only 6,000 years old. Radioactive dating has proven the world to be 4.6 billion years old (Coyne, P. 24). Secondly, creationists believe that the continents are static. However, continental drift, which states that the continents are constantly moving in a certain direction at a certain speed (4). Indeed, this is also a true statement, and a super continent named Pangaea existed 290 million years ago, and it contained all the continental land mass on Earth (5). This is a "triple whammy" because not only does this prove that the Earth is well over 6000 years old, but also that the Earth's continents weren't created exactly where they are now, and it explains different species of organisms, such as Glossopteris (trees) can be found in such different areas of the world (Coyne, P. 99).

    2: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intelligent_design

  3. As a whole, I think this debate is a healthy and good one because if we put American education in the context of history, religious education dominated the national curriculum until changes were implemented only about a century ago, yet this was the time of the publication of The Origin of Species (Tindall). Given that its publication wouldn’t be appreciated until many years later and much more evidence was culminated, it was only recently implemented as part of high school curriculums. Thus, it wouldn’t be fair to say this debate isn’t a good one because even though evolution is proven to be true, the question that it begs is whether or not it’s fair to displace other forms of curriculum completely. Tony, I like your approach of asking if the teaching of both evolution and creationism in conjunction was bad, but at the same time I find it not the best approach. In terms of its benefits, because as a Q and A session in a debate on evolution and creationism pointed out, “Rights do not exist in nature. Rights are a concept constructed by humans to protect certain freedoms” (Shermer). This was in response to evolutionists who are absolutely against creationist teachings in schools that they make unconstitutionality arguments, which aren’t valid in the first place. So in terms of how subjective it is too teach both, it seems logical to accept both in the curriculum of public schools. However, the first problem comes up when you allow for creationist teachings to be emphasized. The same debate continued, stating “As soon as supernatural causation is allowed in the creation of even one species, they could all be created this way, and the assumption of natural laws in nature is voided and science becomes meaningless” (Shermer). The prime concern with teaching creationist ideas at an equal level to that of evolution undermines each of the others’ purpose and the points they try to get across. Personally, I believe that it would be effective discuss the creationist thought process but not actually teach creationism. This is already done with topics like drugs, alcohol, and the like in Health classes. While these items are highly discouraged in use, they are still taught about to make students overall more aware citizens. Similarly, it would be effective to teach evolution and the ideas of those who refute them, but not actually advocating creationism as a legitimate class.

  4. Your second question made me chuckle because the first person who would probably support creationist teachings in schools, but not the geography of the states would be Sarah Palin because she would seem to have come from such a school. But jokes set aside; I would think this distribution comes along with what the overall goal of each institution is in getting their thoughts across. I looked through the list of schools that you included as a part of one of your links and I noticed an interesting trend: many of the schools aren’t against evolution; they just don’t support it fully. I think the issues are, from this evidence, deeply rooted in the goals that were aforementioned. For instance, many high schools may worry that their students will not fully understand this concept or may not want them exposed to such material because their own upbringing considered it bad. In terms of your question, this distribution could correlate to the upbringing that its members had; if a small public high school in a state that generally is pro-creationist thought, then why would it have any reason to teach its students geography given that it’s not even considering the theory of evolution. Besides that, I don’t think there really is a true correlation between those two trends but just a coincidence.
    One claim made by the pro-creationist side is that there is “evidence for a young earth and for the biblical flood. It has pointed to the absence from the fossil record of intermediate forms between known species” (idebate.org). Coyne explicitly denies this claim in the second chapter of Why Evolution is True when he says given the difficulties associated with finding fossils—not just transitional fossils—only a fraction of a percent of life history has been uncovered (Coyne). It would be ridiculous to claim that an area that may not even be of interest to evolutionary biologists may lack fossils, which is a ridiculous assumption to make. Also, Coyne pointed out that in order to make fossils, most animals must be in a watery and sedentary region. If creationist “theory” proposes that there are no fossils which would support that theory, there wrong because by having water, especially in a desert where sand could pack down a dead animal, creating a fossil. In addition, for the sake of a false hypothesis, if we look at the story of Noah’s Ark, only 2 of each animal was saved. Given that, there must have been a lot of animals that perished during the flood. With that being said, and how I reiterated Coyne’s description of fossil production, it’s clear that creationist theory is contradicting itself and hypocritical.

    Why Evolution is True