Monday, March 21, 2011

Florida Republican Senator Resurrects Creationism Bill

Republican Senator Stephen Wise (FL), unfortunately the chairman of the Senate Education Committee, tried to pass a bill mandating the teaching of creationism in Florida public schools in 2009. His bill failed, but once again Wise is attempting to force religious instruction, disguised as an alternative to evolution, into the classroom. He’s more confident of his chances now:

...Science education advocates are alarmed by a bill before the Legislature that they say could force teachers to challenge evolution at the expense of settled science.

...Wise, R-Jacksonville, thinks his evolution bill may have a better chance this year because there are more conservatives in the Legislature and because he chairs a substantive committee.

"Why would you not teach both theories at the same time?" Wise said, referring to evolution and what he called "nonevolution."

..."Why do we still have apes if we came from them?" Wise, a retired educator, said during the interview with the Tampa radio station [WMNF]. "And those are the kind of questions kids need to ask themselves. You know, 'how did we get here?' And, you know, there's more than one theory on this thing. And the theory is evolution, the other one is intelligent design."

One science advocate responded to Haught’s views on scientific theory and our evolutionary relation to apes:

Brandon Haught of Florida Citizens for Science – an organization that promotes science education in the state and opposes the teaching in public schools of Intelligent Design - said evolution detractors fail to understand that when scientists use the term "theory," they mean something different than when the word is used in general conversation.

"A theory in science is one of the strongest things you can possibly have," Haught said. "In science, a theory is not a guess. It's an established explanation for a set of facts."

Haught called Wise's bill "quite literally, an embarrassment for our state."

"Why drag everybody through this yet again?" asked Haught, who is interning to teach biology at Eustis High School. "It's already been hashed out."

"It's quite clear," Haught said, that Wise has "no background in biology." Man did not descend from apes, Haught said, but the species share common ancestry."


cbiel2004 said...

"Settled science" is a new term to me, and kind of an oxymoron if you think about it. I have had questions about evolution for a long time, beginning with a behind-the-scenes visit to the anthropology department at the Smithsonian Institute. There were plaster casts of peoples' faces, extinct people groups, hanging on walls. In my evolution naivety (I was public schooled) I asked if these were our evolutionary predecessors. It took a long time to realize how biased that question was.

I have now also read Darwin's writings, and if you read them, "be afraid, very afraid"! Darwin believed black people were the evolutionary step from apes to white people-no one taught me this is school, Darwin was a hero. We used to have a Darwin Day in our community sponsored by a college and a museum; I emailed Darwin's writings to the presidents of these institutions, and now we don't have a Darwin Day anymore.

I refer you to the writings and research of Dr. Michael Behey (sp) out of the biology department at Lehigh University. He started out to prove evolution, and couldn't, and talks about the shabby science and sloppy research behind it. His approach is only scientific, not religious. He has written books for us, and also very analytical, scientific books for colleagues.
There is 'intra' species change, but not 'inter' species change and that is what I now believe.

The politics behind the promotion of evolution are so apparent to me now, that I distrust the 'science' of evolution. In the fear of becoming "religious" we have put a stranglehold on learning and question-asking: it's tow-the-party-line or else. I think we deserve better options in a free United States.

Jeff Tone said...

Darwin may personally have had appalling views. He may have also twisted his theory to justify racism. That’s reprehensible, but it does not invalidate his entire theory of evolution.

There are always scientists who disagree with the vast preponderance of their professional peers. That preponderance accepts evolution as a “settled science” not in the sense that there are no more questions, but that it is the most credible theory of the origin of the species.

There is a politics behind creationism: to fend off their perception of Darwin’s attack on religion and to bring religion into public schools. The conclusion that life is so miraculous and ultimately inexplicable that it requires a divine artisan’s intelligent design is not science. In fact, it’s giving up on science: “It’s all so complex that it can’t be explained. It’s ultimately a mystery!” That is the language of religion. Those who hold such beliefs should be respected in terms of their spirituality. Perhaps they should espouse such beliefs in Sunday school.