Skip to comments.Churches urged to back evolution
Posted on 02/20/2006 5:33:50 AM PST by ToryHeartland
Churches urged to back evolution By Paul Rincon BBC News science reporter, St Louis
US scientists have called on mainstream religious communities to help them fight policies that undermine the teaching of evolution.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) hit out at the "intelligent design" movement at its annual meeting in Missouri.
Teaching the idea threatens scientific literacy among schoolchildren, it said.
Its proponents argue life on Earth is too complex to have evolved on its own.
As the name suggests, intelligent design is a concept invoking the hand of a designer in nature.
It's time to recognise that science and religion should never be pitted against each other Gilbert Omenn AAAS president
There have been several attempts across the US by anti-evolutionists to get intelligent design taught in school science lessons.
At the meeting in St Louis, the AAAS issued a statement strongly condemning the moves.
"Such veiled attempts to wedge religion - actually just one kind of religion - into science classrooms is a disservice to students, parents, teachers and tax payers," said AAAS president Gilbert Omenn.
"It's time to recognise that science and religion should never be pitted against each other.
"They can and do co-exist in the context of most people's lives. Just not in science classrooms, lest we confuse our children."
'Who's kidding whom?'
Eugenie Scott, director of the National Center for Science Education, which campaigns to keep evolution in public schools, said those in mainstream religious communities needed to "step up to the plate" in order to prevent the issue being viewed as a battle between science and religion.
Some have already heeded the warning.
"The intelligent design movement belittles evolution. It makes God a designer - an engineer," said George Coyne, director of the Vatican Observatory.
"Intelligent design concentrates on a designer who they do not really identify - but who's kidding whom?"
Last year, a federal judge ruled in favour of 11 parents in Dover, Pennsylvania, who argued that Darwinian evolution must be taught as fact.
Dover school administrators had pushed for intelligent design to be inserted into science teaching. But the judge ruled this violated the constitution, which sets out a clear separation between religion and state.
Despite the ruling, more challenges are on the way.
Fourteen US states are considering bills that scientists say would restrict the teaching of evolution.
These include a legislative bill in Missouri which seeks to ensure that only science which can be proven by experiment is taught in schools.
I think if we look at where the empirical scientific evidence leads us, it leads us towards intelligent design Teacher Mark Gihring "The new strategy is to teach intelligent design without calling it intelligent design," biologist Kenneth Miller, of Brown University in Rhode Island, told the BBC News website.
Dr Miller, an expert witness in the Dover School case, added: "The advocates of intelligent design and creationism have tried to repackage their criticisms, saying they want to teach the evidence for evolution and the evidence against evolution."
However, Mark Gihring, a teacher from Missouri sympathetic to intelligent design, told the BBC: "I think if we look at where the empirical scientific evidence leads us, it leads us towards intelligent design.
"[Intelligent design] ultimately takes us back to why we're here and the value of life... if an individual doesn't have a reason for being, they might carry themselves in a way that is ultimately destructive for society."
The decentralised US education system ensures that intelligent design will remain an issue in the classroom regardless of the decision in the Dover case.
"I think as a legal strategy, intelligent design is dead. That does not mean intelligent design as a social movement is dead," said Ms Scott.
"This is an idea that has real legs and it's going to be around for a long time. It will, however, evolve."
Among the most high-profile champions of intelligent design is US President George W Bush, who has said schools should make students aware of the concept.
But Mr Omenn warned that teaching intelligent design will deprive students of a proper education, ultimately harming the US economy.
"At a time when fewer US students are heading into science, baby boomer scientists are retiring in growing numbers and international students are returning home to work, America can ill afford the time and tax-payer dollars debating the facts of evolution," he said. Story from BBC NEWS: http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/sci/tech/4731360.stm
Published: 2006/02/20 10:54:16 GMT
© BBC MMVI
Because that is just what other men have told them.
I think it is clear what the intent of the professor was. The professor wanted no part of a creator in your beliefs of how humans originated. You can say 'wink, wink, he really did not ask them to disavow their beliefs', but it is clear to me what his intentions were. You can disagree, but the BS of people calling me a liar is outrageous.
Aldous Huxley, by the way, spent a large part of his life engaged in the study of mystical religions. He was in no way hostile to religion.
You're welcome, and I would be happy to discuss your disagreements. If it becomes too much, as this thread is already swamped with replies (and will expand, I'm sure), you can switch to Freep-mail.
If you don't like being called a liar, I have a wonderfully effective solution.
The threat was clearly implied, whether you admit it or not. To ask for a student to provide the scientific explaination for the origin of humans is one thing. To ask a student to 'truthfully and forthrightly affirm a scientific answer' is repugnant and bigoted in my book. I see no different than forcing a student to truthfully and forthrightly affirm their worship of satan. It is a religous test, not a scientific one.
And I have a solution for you if you don't like being called a bigot.
On the other hand you have to understand that what you propose is not what this conflict is about. As far as most scientists are concerned you can teach in a theology/philosophy class whatever you want as long as you don't claim it is science.
But this is not what many creationsts are satisfied with. They want to pass off their theological opposition to evolution, geology, astronomy, radiology, etc. as equally valid as mainstream science.
So what in affirming acceptance of evolution denies a creator?
In effect, federal courts repealed the Tenth Amendment in the latter part of the 20th Century. The federal courts, by removing "the people" from the decision making process, fanned the flames of the culture wars and they've been flaming ever since.
Every time a federal court or the SCOTUS makes another extra constitutional decision it fans those flames.
Evolution/ID/Religion is just another battle in those wars. There is no assault on science in America but there is an assault on America's Constitution and that assault comes from secularists who can not win in the court of public opinion so they take their case to the courts. Witness the Dover, Pa. case.
Prior to any holding in Dover the citizens of Dover, Pa. decided that they didn't want ID even mentioned in their school. They demonstrated that at the ballot box by electing new school board members reflecting that view. And yet Judge Jones wrote a "steroid laced opinion" (credit to Torie) that went well beyond what he needed to do. The result? More fuel on the culture war fire because in this constitutional republic of ours the federal court should have no say in any local school matter where the rights of the individual are not being violated. When ostensibly conservative scientists favor such federal intervention in state matters, conservatives like me naturally look askance at that and tension builds.
In closing I'll leave you with this thought. No academies have been burned down in the past 5 years in America but 100's of churches have been burned to the ground. Who did the burning is irrelevant, be they anti religionists, racists or whackjobs, the fact is that the academy is not be assaulted but the Constitution and religion are.
Oh, I see, so for calling you on your untruthful statements, I am a bigot.
You could be right. I admit to being bigoted against liars.
I will explain it to you, if you wish, but why don't we focus first on your particular religion, and mine.
You are British, which means you are probably Church of England even if you don't really believe it or really practice it. The Anglican Church accepts evolution as "the way we probably got here", and so whether you are a religious Anglican or a "baptisms and funerals" Anglican, either way, you don't have a religious dog in the evolution fight.
I am a French Catholic, which means that I belong to a Church that accepts evolution as "the way we probably got here", and so I don't have a particular dog in the evolution fight either.
The reason evolution is not an issue in England or France is that both are Catholic countries (of either the Roman or Anglican form), and traditionalist Catholic faith, either Anglican or Roman, does not have any particular reason to oppose evolution.
America is not a Catholic country, but a Protestant country. (Yes, yes, I know, Anglicanism calls itself "Protestant", but it isn't. It's English Catholic. And the difference is that Anglicanism reposes on tradition, and has an ordained priesthood and bishops to interpret theology. This is Catholicism with an English head. Protestantism, especially American-style Protestantism, is not Catholic, in the sense that it's not hierarchical and doesn't have an autoritative (and authoritarian) clergy with the final decision-taking power. No, most Americans are Protestant, and more are Baptist than anything else. After the Baptists come other evangelical groups. What they all have in common is that they are not Catholic and don't have an authoritative clergy to interpret tradition. Rather, they individually read the Bible, straight, and apply it, straight. There is a tremendous devotion among American Protestants to the Bible as the literal, word-for-word, Word of God. Thus, AMERICAN Protestant religion, which is extremely healthy and extremely vibrant, has a dramatic issue with Darwin and evolution because of the first two books of the Book of Genesis. Genesis opens with the Jewish Creation myth. Now your Anglican "Protestant" Catholicism and my Roman Catholicism both teaches that this is not an anthropology lesson but a sacred poem on creation, teaching that God made the world and that man is prone to sin; the flood is lot a literal world-covering event but an allegory. If you're not a practicing Anglican, you believe that, and if you ARE a practicing Anglican, you believe the same thing. Ditto for Catholics. So, when Catholics or Anglican Catholics say "There is no conflict between science and religion", they really mean it. There isn't any particular TENSION within Catholicism or Anglicanism about evolution - nobody thinks that Genesis is to be taken word-for-word literally in your Church centered at Canterbury, or mine centered at Rome. It doesn't come up. All the way back in the 400's AD St. Augustine himself wrote that Genesis was obviously not to be taken LITERALLY, and since the scientific age, Catholicism on both sides of the Channel doesn't have a problem with Darwinian biology. It's really NOT a religious issue in England, or France, or Italy, or even Ireland. God made the world, and evolution is how he did it. This is what you and I believe, and what the English and French and Irish believe. So, there is no TENSION in the religion of your country and science.
What about the real Protestant countries in Europe? Anglicanism is Catholicism in everything but name, but the Lutherans aren't Catholic, and the Dutch Calvinists aren't either. So, why isn't there a terrible stress and strain over evolution in Protestant Europe?
You know the reason for that too: Protestant Europe doesn't really believe in the old religion anymore. It's really secular Europe, with some churchy Protestant traditions, mostly tied up with the local monarchy. Thus, Sweden and Holland, Denmark and Norway are all "Protestant" countries, with good Protestant Queens and Kings, but there is about as much real faith in those countries as there was real belief in the old Roman gods among the Romans in the 300s AD. Catholic Europe is in general more devout than Protestant Europe (think Ireland, Poland, Italy, rural Spain and Portugal) and you will acknowledge that there really are countries in Europe where religion is still taken very, very seriously and believed. But the snag is that these are all Catholic countries, and Catholicism accepts Darwin, so there's no religious struggle over evolution coming from any established quarter. The non-catholic Protestant quarter of Europe is the least Christian part of the Continent.
So, the issue just does not come up anywhere. Catholic Europe and Anglican Catholicism accept Darwin. And Northern, Protestant Europe...think Sweden and Amsterdam...doesn't take Christianity a bit seriously anymore.
So, what does that leave Europe?
It leaves Europe with nobody who is reading the Bible LITERALLY and taking it LITERALLY.
But MOST Americans are religious, and MOST of THEM are hard-core Bible Protestants. Which means that their religion IS in conflict with Darwin.
Now, America is a democracy. Public policy in everything reflects the democratic will. The public schools are not autonomous organs of state: school boards are composed mostly of parents and are elected. Mayors and legislators who set schooling law are elected. Bible-Protestants take their Bible seriously, very, very seriously, and they believe it very, very literally. So, to them, Darwinism with its randomness is a direct assault on God and God's word. That is so radically alien to your culture in England, or to any Christian culture in Europe, that you're just at a loss in the face of it.
But that's what's happening. This is a conflict as profoundly theological and based on different world views as the struggle between Anglicans and Puritans in the English Civil War and Cromwellian Dictatorship. In England, the Puritans won for a time, but the Anglican Catholics reasserted themselves and tradition, and Biblical purism was defeated. In America, Puritan Biblical purism is the DOMINANT religious strain. Catholics are in the severe minority. And, democratic as America is, the pressure to teach what parents believe is the TRUTH about the origins of the universe is very much a political issue.
You don't have this in England, because England is a Catholic "Protestant" country at best, and an agnostic country in the main. You don't have it in Ireland, which is indisputably still devoutly Christian, because Ireland is Catholic, and Rome theologically accepts evolution. You DO have it in America, because Americans are Puritan Roundheads and Biblical literalists, in the main - and that strain disappeared from English society a couple hundred years ago, through emigration to America.
This gulf in comprehension you stare across is really the IDENTICAL gulf in comprehension that the Anglican bishops stared across at the Cromwellian Roundheads back in your Civil War. It's the same idea and the same tension of authority, for the same reasons. Evolution is merely the latest topic on which the fundamentally different ways of looking at the universe clash.
I hope that helps.
Dr. Dini, himself a Christian, did not require a disavowal of religious beliefs in a Creator; just a scientific answer to the question: "How do you think the human species originated?".
As a biology professor, clearly he was looking for a solid understand of evolution on the part of the student.
There were 38 other professors whose classes Micah Spradling could have attended and from whom he could have requested recommendations.
Amazingly Spradling managed to sign up for a class from the one professor that (for 10 years) publicly required an acceptance of evolution for recommendation.
Like the Scopes trial it was a staged provocation. Micah Spradling never sat in any of Dr. Dini's lectures. Once he made his complaint, he dropped the course and transfered to Lubbock Christian.
The professor left no room for any creator in his answer. You had to "truthfully and forthrightly affirm a scientific answer". If you believe that the origin of humans has an answer that is only scientific, what role could the creator have played? I don't see where the professor left any room for a creator.
The oddest thing about creationism is that to accept it, you can't believe a dog and a cat are more closely related than a dog and a boa constrictor.
If you can't see what the professor was doing, and you agree with his policy, then yes.
That would still mean that humans resulted from the deaths of other lower lofe forms.
The Bible clearly states that DEATH is the result of sin.
Otherwise, death would have existed long before the fall of man.
What's wrong with bias? Everyone is biased. Aren't you?
Hey! it's 44° in Beaumont. My feet are freezing.
So I'm a bigot for saying I agree that students should be able to explain the fundamental theoretical underpinnings of biology in order to get a letter of recommendation from a biology professor.
Why would he use the phrase, "truthfully and forthrightly affirm"???? He could have simply state the student will need to be able to provide a scientific answer. When he uses the phrase, "truthfully and forthrightly affirm" he is going beyond asking for a simple answer. He is asking for an oath.
And the earth is not the center of the universe, and the sun does not revolve around the earth. So what?
If you ask them to "truthfully and forthrightly affirm" the answer, yes it is bigoted. You are asking them to take an oath to the scientific answer, not simply being able to explain it.
BTW, how can you "truthfully and forthrightly affirm" a scientific answer that you yourself call 'theoretical'? Don't you see the contradiction? Anybody who can "truthfully and forthrightly affirm" a scientific theory which is undergoing changes is a liar. Nobody knows the answer, so how can you affirm it?
Which, of course, it is not.
The fact remains, however, that while evolution should cover the gradual changes of a species, it should not try to explain the origins of life.
If science is going to operate under the assumption that only what is provable IS science, it cannot prove that life originated by 'accident'.
Here they form a little cultlike ping group.
What "cult" are Davelonerabger and wallcrawlr members of? They both have ping lists.
You should be aware that there are many many ping lists in the world of FR, and it is a poor argument to suggest ping lists per se are sinister.
You really don't see a problem with a professor who tells students to "truthfully and forthrightly affirm" an answer to a controversial question concerning religious beliefs as fundamental as the origin of humans????
My compliments on a very well written reply and analysis.
Dr. Dini did not ask about 'origin of life'. He asked: "How do you think the human species originated?"
From the article:
The Web page advises students seeking a recommendation to be prepared to answer the question: "How do you think the human species originated?"
"If you cannot truthfully and forthrightly affirm a scientific answer to this question, then you should not seek my recommendation for admittance to further education in the biomedical sciences," Dini writes.(emphasis mine)
Accept and affirm. I think this is the crux of the issue, and I'm going to put a different spin on things.
Do you think it satisfactory to answer the question "How do you think the human species originated," with the affirmation: "...by the tentative theory of evolution"
If that's bigotry, so be it.
Those are his requirements for giving a student a letter of personal reccommendation.
Doesn't he have a right to decide what criteria to us in such personal things?
If he were to say he'd only give personal letters to Dallas Cowboy's fans, wouldn't that be well within his rights?
Are you actually suggesting he should give a personal letter of reccommendation to someone he feels does not understand something he believes is important?
The theory of evolution is not in the least tentative. That is simply a false statement.
Christianity doesn't make sense to me.
From the point of view of the patient, is there a difference? I don't care if he/she is a serial adulterer.
To the extent that they are, the word tentative is redundant, no?
In context, no, it is not
His reworking of the wording is a tacit admission that he was in deep doodoo if the case went to the courts.
What are you saying?
But we're not arguing from the point of view of a patient, are we....
Indeed, yes, a very meaty and thought-provoking piece, many thanks--let me stew on it and get back to you. I think you are spot on about the Church of England--and you have a credible explanation for the gulf of incredulity which divides some aspects of conservatism. Thanks again.
So we all have to believe in the religion of evolution?
Where is the tolerance? Where is the inclusiveness?
The mullahs of Science need to be aware that millions of us will never bring up our children to believe that they are ape-men instead of created by God in His image.
Science giants of the past have been Christians who believed that God created the world. Today's science pygmies are too insecure to have their religious ideas about evolution challenged. Whose fault is that?
C1, C13 and D2 all in one shot.
Evolution is not a religion. Science does not have to be "tolerant" or "inclusive" of unscientific ideas. Scientists are not "mullahs," and they will never force you to teach your childrean anything. Finally, science is not atheism.
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