History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

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Would someone please teach the Times gang the ‘strengths and weaknesses’ of Darwinism

March 31st, 2009 · No Comments

Evolutionary Semantics, Texas-Style
This is just knee-jerk response here: the routine of debate has gone on so long people just react according to ‘prior viewpoint’, failing to note the significance of this case in Texas.
I fail to see the objection to teaching students to beware of what it is proposed as science.
The alarming thing is that institutions like the Times has noone who can see the problem here.

The Texas Board of Education gave grudging support last week to teaching the mainstream theory of evolution without the most troubling encumbrances sought by religious and social conservatives. But the margins on crucial amendments were disturbingly close, typically a single vote on a 15-member board, and compromise language left ample room for the struggle to continue.
This was not a straightforward battle over whether to include creationism or its close cousin, intelligent design, in the science curriculum. That battle has been lost by Darwin’s opponents in the courts, the schools and most political arenas.

Rather, this was a struggle to insert into the state science standards various phrases and code words that may seem innocuous or meaningless at first glance but could open the door to doubts about evolution. In the most ballyhooed vote, those like us who support the teaching of sound science can claim a narrow victory.

Conservatives tried — but failed — to reinsert a phrase requiring students to study the “strengths and weaknesses” of all scientific theories, including evolution. That language had been in the standards for years, but it was eliminated by experts who prepared the new standards for board approval because it has become a banner for critics of Darwinian evolution who seek to exaggerate supposed weaknesses in the theory.

The conservatives also narrowly lost attempts to have students study the “sufficiency or insufficiency” of natural selection to explain the complexities of the cell, a major issue for proponents of intelligent design. The conservatives also failed to get the word “sufficiency” inserted by itself, presumably because that would imply insufficiency as well. They had to settle for language requiring students to “analyze, evaluate and critique” scientific explanations and examine “all sides” of the scientific evidence.

At the end of a tense, confusing three-day meeting, Darwin’s critics claimed that this and other compromise language amounted to a huge victory that would still allow their critiques into textbooks and classrooms. One can only hope that teachers in Texas will use common sense and teach evolution as scientists understand it.

Tags: Evolution

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