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Topic: New evolution spat in U.S. schools goes to court  (Read 15997 times)

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Offline Donaldson Tan

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New evolution spat in U.S. schools goes to court
« on: September 23, 2005, 07:26:01 PM »
 By Jon Hurdle

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - A new battle over teaching about man's origins in U.S. schools goes to court for the first time next week, pitting Christian conservatives against educators and scientists in a trial viewed as the biggest test of the issue since the late 1980s.

Eleven parents of students at a Pennsylvania high school are suing over the school district's decision to include "intelligent design" -- an alternative to evolution that involves a God-like creator -- in the curriculum of ninth-grade biology classes.

The parents and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) say the policy of the Dover Area School District in south-central Pennsylvania violates the constitutional separation of church and state, which forbids teaching religion in public schools.

They also argue that intelligent design is unscientific and has no place in a science curriculum.

Intelligent design holds that nature is so complex it must have been the work of an God-like creator rather than the result of natural selection, as argued by Charles Darwin in his 1859 Theory of Evolution.

The school board says there are "gaps" in evolution, which it emphasizes is a theory rather than established fact, and that students have a right to consider other views on the origins of life. In their camp is President George W. Bush, who has said schools should teach evolution and intelligent design.

The Dover schools board says it does not teach intelligent design but simply makes students aware of its existence as an alternative to evolution. It denies intelligent design is "religion in disguise" and says it is a scientific theory.

The board is being represented by The Thomas More Law Center, a Michigan-based nonprofit which says it uses litigation to promote "the religious freedom of Christians and time-honored family values."

The center did not return phone calls seeking comment.

The trial begins on Monday in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and is expected to last about five weeks.

Dr. John West of the Discovery Institute, which sponsors research on intelligent design, said the case displayed the ACLU's "Orwellian" effort to stifle scientific discourse and objected to the issue being decided in court.

"It's a disturbing prospect that the outcome of this lawsuit could be that the court will try to tell scientists what is legitimate scientific inquiry and what is not," West said. "That is a flagrant assault on free speech."

Opponents including the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Association of Biology Teachers say intelligent design is an attempt by the Christian right to teach creationism -- the belief that God created the world -- into public schools under the guise of a theory that does not explicitly mention God. The Supreme Court banned the teaching of creationism in public schools in a 1987 ruling.

"Intelligent design is ultimately a science stopper," said Dr. Eugenie Scott of the National Council for Science Education, a pro-evolution group backing the Dover parents.

"It's a political and religious movement that's trying to insinuate itself into the public schools," she said.

But the American public appears to back the school district.

At least 31 states are taking steps to teach alternatives to evolution. A CBS poll last November found 65 percent of Americans favor teaching creationism as well as evolution while 37 percent want creationism taught instead of evolution.

Fifty-five percent of Americans believe God created humans in their present form, the poll found.

Earlier this month a top Roman Catholic cardinal critical of evolution branded scientific opponents of intelligent design intolerant and said there need not be a conflict between Darwin's and Christian views of life's origins.

Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, a top Church doctrinal expert and close associate of Pope Benedict, said Darwin's theory did not clash with a belief in God so long as scientists did not assert that pure chance accounted for everything from "the Big Bang to Beethoven's Ninth Symphony."
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Offline Donaldson Tan

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Re:New evolution spat in U.S. schools goes to court
« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2005, 07:43:59 PM »
Fifty-five percent of Americans believe God created humans in their present form, the poll found.

This is the fundemental difference between Science & Religion. Religion requires its followers to believe in it. Science seeks evidence to convince its followers.

The Supreme Court banned the teaching of creationism in public schools in a 1987 ruling.

Yes. There must be a seperation between Religon & State. Should there be a seperation between Science & State? Science builds on evidence, just as our justice system. Religion works if you believe in it. Science works by giving its followers the choice to believe in the evidence found, based on observations and hypothesis. Whether its followers believe in the evidence, science still works.

"It's a disturbing prospect that the outcome of this lawsuit could be that the court will try to tell scientists what is legitimate scientific inquiry and what is not," West said. "That is a flagrant assault on free speech."

legitimate inquiry? yes. scientific? as long the methods used in measuring the validity of intelligent design is scientific.. this, however, is controversial, because the most frequent methods use in evaulating intelligent design is mathematically flawed.

The Dover schools board says it does not teach intelligent design but simply makes students aware of its existence as an alternative to evolution. It denies intelligent design is "religion in disguise" and says it is a scientific theory.

scientific theory? hypothesis would be a better term to describe it.
« Last Edit: September 23, 2005, 07:46:10 PM by geodome »
"Say you're in a [chemical] plant and there's a snake on the floor. What are you going to do? Call a consultant? Get a meeting together to talk about which color is the snake? Employees should do one thing: walk over there and you step on the friggin� snake." - Jean-Pierre Garnier, CEO of Glaxosmithkline, June 2006

Karakth

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Re:New evolution spat in U.S. schools goes to court
« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2005, 02:38:33 PM »
You know, I used to laugh at this sort of thing, but then I read the chapter on Evolution in our biology book (Biological Sciences 1 & 2). It lists many theories, such as spontaneous generation and intelligent design, as well as natural selection. It then goes on to say that the current evidence points towards natural selection as the most plausible theory.

I think that is the right approach. Acknowledge that there are other hypothesis other than natural selection, but keep it just that: hypothesis. If someone were to come along and scientifically prove that Intelligent Design (or indeed spontaneous generation) is the case then the scientific community should accept it.

As long as the theories are treated as just that; theories, then there are no problems. You then go into the full details of natural selection.

P.S. Intelligent Design does not refer specifically to Christian creationalism. Just to the possibility that a supreme being designed nature.

Edit: Added the name of the book.
« Last Edit: September 25, 2005, 02:39:41 PM by Karakth »

Offline Borek

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Re:New evolution spat in U.S. schools goes to court
« Reply #3 on: September 25, 2005, 05:07:35 PM »
I think that is the right approach. Acknowledge that there are other hypothesis other than natural selection, but keep it just that: hypothesis.

The problem is, in every other science theory with such amount of evidence as Darwins theory have will be the established theory. In this case it is not, and it is not only for ideological reasons.

Other hypothesis are just a trials to prove God created everything. There are two things that always makes me wonder about the inteligence of people thinking this way.

First, church and its supporters have a history of claims that have to be removed once the scientific research proved they were wrong. It doesn't help followers - they are making exactly the same mistake of holding their positions at every price, only to be later forced to retreat once evidence mounts. 2000 years of history didn't teach them anything.

Second, the main question is not the partial question about the evolution, but the question about origin of everything. If we assume that the life and the man were created by God, it doesn't answer that question - it only pushes the answer way back, to the origin of God - who or what created him? That leads either to the series of gods creating gods, or to the conclusion that we are not allowed to ask that question. Both are unacceptable.

I did some evolution simulations (see bitozoa and bitozoa 2) years ago. I have a friend (with PhD in computer science), who believes very strong in God. We were discussing my simulations, and he said something like "creationism is a way of lazy ones" - if we don't understand how something happened, we have to research it untill we will understand.
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Offline Mitch

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Re:New evolution spat in U.S. schools goes to court
« Reply #4 on: September 25, 2005, 10:56:28 PM »
Quote
I think that is the right approach. Acknowledge that there are other hypothesis other than natural selection, but keep it just that: hypothesis.

A hypothesis needs to be tested. By even acknowledging intelligent design it raises the bar of the theory to that of Darwins. In fact it did such a good job, that you even think it is a seperate almost equal hypothesis which is in itself problematic.
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Re:New evolution spat in U.S. schools goes to court
« Reply #5 on: September 27, 2005, 04:35:18 PM »
No. I currently fully accept the Natural Selection theory (with some exceptions...I don't think sheer luck is given enough importance in it, but then that can be factored out). Also, Intelligent Design to me is not on the same level as Natural Selection. It is on the same level as, say, Spontaneous Generation or the highly unsatisfying cosmozoan theory.

Now, I am not a believer in creationalism. Moreover, the Church does not teach creationalism. It has been forced to retreat, sure, but so have other scientific theories. The current teachings of the Catholic Church, if I recall correctly, fully embrace evolution but claim that a higher being (God) intended for evolution to occur.

My personal beliefs are that evolution does exist (although we have slowed it down for ourselves greatly due to technology which ensures the survival of the weak - Not a bad thing) but everything (i.e. all matter, energy) always was and always will be. As for the question where life began, I will be honest and say I do not know. I assume there was a leap somewhere between complex organic molecules to simple organisms, but until that link is discovered my opinion on the matter will remain null.

Quote
The problem is, in every other science theory with such amount of evidence as Darwins theory have will be the established theory. In this case it is not, and it is not only for ideological reasons.

This is due to the very nature of the problem. We are talking about a single event that happened at a time when we could not observe it. This is the same argument as the tree falling in a forest when no-one is around to hear it...Will it make a noise? Other scientific theories can be dis/proven by observation, but this is a delicate matter. Logical reasoning and deduction from current evidence points towards biochemical evolution as being the most likely source of life in this Universe. Until that theory is forced to retreat, it will be the one held highest in my esteem.

Offline Borek

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Re:New evolution spat in U.S. schools goes to court
« Reply #6 on: October 16, 2005, 06:10:22 AM »
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Re:New evolution spat in U.S. schools goes to court
« Reply #7 on: October 19, 2005, 01:42:44 AM »
I stand in the middle confused.

Although the matter of evolution v. creation will never get solved, I will state my opinion.  In my Anthropology class I learned very interesting things.  First was most of the people that were provening evolution, were creationist, or at least believed in the creator, till they died.  They didn't wan't to prove evolution right, so they denied evidence to themselves, or made put it in terms were God was included (if you need me to mention names I will dig up my notes).  My Prof. say's that was his main study in graduate school, and I find him to be very knowledgable, and credable.  

Evidence is there and I do believe it.  However, until scientist can explain the experiences that I have gone through (that I won't mention cause most of you will not believe me because you don't know my credability), the experiences I have seen happen to certain individuals (Pastor's especially), thing's that don't seem to happen for a coincidence; like my friends aunt who could have been killed by the machine she operates at work, malfunctioned and acid splashed all over the area, she happened to be at her mother's funeral, thousand's of miles away.  Until scientist can tell me, besides I imagine these things, or my subconcious mind is doing it.  If a very good explanation can be given to me, I will claim there is no God to the world!!!

The evidence is there for evoultion, I accept it, but the evidence (for me) for a God is also there.  As my Anthoropology Prof. says, "is there anywhere in the Bible that says if you believe in evolution you go to hell!!! NO!!!  it says a lot of things, but not that."  Were do I stand, in the middle.  I can not prove science wrong, and I can not prove there is no God.  

Classic    

Offline Borek

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Re:New evolution spat in U.S. schools goes to court
« Reply #9 on: December 01, 2005, 03:37:40 AM »
good one
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Offline Borek

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Re:New evolution spat in U.S. schools goes to court
« Reply #10 on: December 01, 2005, 04:13:39 AM »
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Offline Donaldson Tan

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Re:New evolution spat in U.S. schools goes to court
« Reply #11 on: December 01, 2005, 04:15:28 PM »
Borek: LOL. That's a rather amusing explaination why the world was created in 6 days.

Classic: I like how you ended your post - "I cannot prove science wrong; I cannot prove there is no God". Like you, I believe there is a God.

With regards to Borek's post, I would like to say that God is the most logical reason to explain how everything started, but the literal interpretation from the Book of Genesis (the bible) cannot be entirely valid. Perhaps, if we were to assume that it's right, then we might end up at this conjecture: what is a day to God? Is one God-day equivalent to one Man-day? I doubt so. I rather interpret that the biblical creation process occured through 6 stages. The length of each stage cannot be quantified because God only created Man at the end of the 6th stage.
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Offline Borek

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Re:New evolution spat in U.S. schools goes to court
« Reply #12 on: December 01, 2005, 04:20:34 PM »
With regards to Borek's post, I would like to say that God is the most logical reason to explain how everything started

Please reread my post. Assuming God did it means only that you push the question of the origin back in time. There is no logic involved, just the faith. Logic is science, faith is not.

As for

Quote
I cannot prove there is no God

you don't have to. If anything needs to be proven it is God existence. That's Ockham razor - don't create beings when they are not needed to explain facts. Or you can assume it doesn't need to be proven, faith is enough. But then again - faith is not science.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2005, 04:25:21 PM by Borek »
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Re:New evolution spat in U.S. schools goes to court
« Reply #13 on: December 02, 2005, 08:31:08 PM »
I would contest that, as scientists, we put a lot of faith in our fundamental postulates.

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