Skip to comments.Faith and science: UAB professor's book helps teachers present evolution without offense
Posted on 11/28/2009 10:53:49 AM PST by Bodleian_Girl
Faith and science: UAB professor's book helps teachers present evolution without offense
UAB education professor Lee Meadows grew up in love with science, but his conservative Southern Baptist upbringing left him somewhat conflicted.
Meadows has written "Missing Link," a textbook on how to teach evolution without offending religious beliefs. "It's a book for teachers to help them deal with the issue of evolution with middle and high school students," he said.
Meadows said he knows the student's perspective from experience.
"Biology is my favorite subject," he said. "But evolution scared me off as a student. I was afraid of evolution from the first I heard of it. I don't know that I've reconciled it, but I've realized science has its own set of rules."
Meadows, now a member of a conservative Presbyterian Church in America congregation, remains an evangelical. But he's forged a way to study evolution on the terms of science without compromising faith.
"My faith is still important to me," he said.
Now he looks at the issue through the eyes of a teacher.
The key for Meadows, a former high school science teacher, has been "teaching by inquiry," a method he said encourages students to study the fossil record, tracing animals back through time and understanding scientific explanations of changes and apparent adaptations.
"Teaching by inquiry is hands-on science on speed," Meadows said. "It's giving them the evidence, then seeing how scientists interpret the evidence. Inquiry always says start with the evidence."
Meadows offers one cardinal rule for teachers: "Never challenge a kid's religious beliefs," he said. "I want teachers to say, 'What you believe the Bible says is really important.'"
Students should learn science on its own terms, not as a competing explanation to religion, Meadows said. "Science limits itself to natural evidence."
It's not necessary to mock anyone's beliefs to teach evolution, Meadows said.
"Science teachers in public schools have two legal duties: they have to teach science, but they also have to care for the kids, as if they were parents for that hour," Meadows said.
Public school science teachers are bound to teach the theory of evolution and the evidence that leads scientists to embrace it, he said.
"Their duty is to teach evolution," Meadows said. "In a public school, they are barred from teaching creationism, which courts have ruled is inherently religious."
Charles Darwin's theory of evolution was explained in his book "On the Origin of Species," published in 1859. Because of the 150th anniversary of the book's publication and the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth in 1809, there have been many commemorations of Darwin and his life and theories this year.
*There has also been backlash by those opposed to Darwin's theories. Filmmakers Jon and Andy Erwin, [sons of Senator Hank Erwin] of Birmingham-based Erwin Brothers Motion Pictures premiered their anti-evolution documentary, "The Mysterious Islands," on Tuesday at the Alabama Theater. They did their filming in the Galapagos Islands, reviewing Darwin's conclusions and siding with another member of Darwin's ship, Captain Robert Fitzroy of the HMS Beagle, who disputed many of Darwin's conclusions.
Meadows said that while many may object to Darwinian theories on theological grounds, it's important that students be given a solid science education.
In his book for teachers, he recommends lesson plans that go to source material on fossils.
Meadows recommends studying the work of J.G.M. "Hans" Thewissen, professor of anatomy at the Northeastern Ohio Universities, who has documented the evolution of whales. He directs teachers to the Web site www.neoucom.edu/DEPTS/ANAT/whaleorigins.htm.
"There is piles and piles of evidence for evolution, and scientists can explain that," Meadows said. "What the kids believe at the end of the day -- that's their choice."
In regards to the premier of the movie "The Mysterious Islands" (which was attended by over 1300 people on a Tuesday night in downtown Birmingham, which in and of itself is very newsworthy,) The Birmingham News did not cover this event. Nor did any other local media, except one blog writer.
I find that strange especially in light of the fact that it was produced and filmed by local filmmakers Jon & Andy Erwin. Also, The Birmingham News has long been very proactive in promoting indy films, and especially the Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival. It seems strange for them to go completely dark on this film premier.
More than a few state dignitaries were there, including longtime conservative activist and now senator, Hank Erwin, Alabama Tourism Director Lee Sentell, and one of my personal heroes, Alabama Supreme Court Justice Tom Parker.
A good question to start asking is how much so-called “settled science” of the past, even the distant past, was contrived by grifters and charlatans like Gore and his buddies at the CRU, Penn St. etc? I’m gonna stop believing ALL of it for the time being, pending some clarification and the defrocking of the scamsters.
So you no long believe in physics, astronomy, biology, geology, chemistry...?
To me it is just plain silly to think that all of this came about by chance. The probability of that is beyond impossible.
Incidentally, nobody has ever shown that one species can change into another species. That is scientifically observable evidence of something.
Science needs to get its house in order. Global warming is not likely the first flim flam sold as “settled science.” I’d love to say I know the other flim flams—but not knowing which or what, I’ll reserve judgment on all of it.
I take God on faith. With everything else, I verify.
I’ll take science over faith any day, but to each their own.
Who says they're mutually exclusive?
Who says they're mutually exclusive?
Conflicted Evolutionist Ping... in my neck of the woods, no less.
I was speaking in regards to the examination of the universe; when you're trying to figure out stellar nucleosynthesis (just as a for instance), there's simply no place for faith. The scientific method is the only model that produces reliable results.
“To me it is just plain silly to think that all of this came about by chance”
Randomness if used for statistical purposes but very few belief in chance as an actual force in the universe.
“Incidentally, nobody has ever shown that one species can change into another species.”
It happens so slowly that by the time it happens again with large organisms our civilization will likely cease to exist. Human science hasn’t existed long enough to record previous population changes of that magnitude.
Howdy! I clicked on your link since you said this was in your neck of the woods. Tell me about your book.
Also, is that covered bridge in Blount County?
Science is an activity of the mind, which is immaterial and unprovable. Science’s must basic assumption — that the mind exists and that its perceptions and reasoning are trustworthy — is a leap of faith. So right off the bat science has got big problems if it wants to diss faith.
I've been asking that for ages and no one every answers.
This looks like one that won't turn into a burning man o' war, the deck slippery with blood.Meadows has written "Missing Link," a textbook on how to teach evolution without offending religious beliefs. "It's a book for teachers to help them deal with the issue of evolution with middle and high school students," he said... "Biology is my favorite subject," he said. "But evolution scared me off as a student. I was afraid of evolution from the first I heard of it. I don't know that I've reconciled it, but I've realized science has its own set of rules." ...he's forged a way to study evolution on the terms of science without compromising faith... "Never challenge a kid's religious beliefs," he said. "I want teachers to say, 'What you believe the Bible says is really important.'" ...It's not necessary to mock anyone's beliefs to teach evolution, Meadows said.To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list.
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· The Archaeology Channel · Excerpt, or Link only? · cgk's list of ping lists ·
The Missing Link:
An Inquiry Approach
for Teaching All Students
author page on Amazon
whoops, and the author’s weblog: