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Sunday, September 11, 2005

Teaching atheism at public expense?

A commenter has asked me to provide evidence for the use of Darwinism to teach atheism in the school system at public expense. For that, I need only point to a curious episode in the mid-Nineties involving the
National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT).

for more than two years, from April 1995 to October 1997, the U.S.'s National Associaton of Biology Teachers (NABT) declared that "natural" does mean "without God" in their position statement on evolution, which stated that evolution is an "unsupervised, impersonal" process.

And they fought any change. But finally, as Craig Rusbult reports,

After first refusing to do so, the National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT) has dropped the words "unsupervised" and "impersonal" from its official description of evolution. The group's eight-person board of directors voted unanimously on October 11 to alter the wording of its two-year-old statement in support of teaching evolution — and the board did so just three days after it had voted unanimously not to make the change. Religion scholar Huston Smith and philosopher Alvin Plantinga had urged NABT to make the change, arguing that inclusion of the two words constituted a theological judgment about the nonexistence of God that went beyond the boundaries of empirical science.

Not only Christian scholars such as Smith and Plantinga but the Darwin lobby itself had to get involved to make the biology teachers' organization back down.

So accustomed were they to teaching atheism, one must infer, that it had never occurred to them that they might be challenged on the point. NABTs current statement has dropped all that language and merely insists that intelligent design theory and various types of creationisms are "are outside the realm of science and not part of a valid science curriculum."

So we are back in familiar territory now: The biology teachers know, presumably by faith, that life forms do not show evidence of intelligent design. Hence evidence to the contrary is not really evidence. Therefore, they are justified in refusing to discuss it, even if it's the hottest question of the day ...

I should stress that I think the current statement is a vast improvement. At least we can now focus on whether the NABT attitude to intelligent design is justified, not on trying to explain to them why they MUST NOT teach atheism at public expense.

If you like this blog, check out my book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?. You can read excerpts as well.
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