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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Teaching evolution: A note from The Cranky Professor

Okay, back to our regularly scheduled programming.

(Note: If you are looking for Mark Steyn's testimony on the Ontario Human Rights Commission, go here.)

Philosophy prof Mark Mercer, aka The Cranky Professor, tells me that he published a piece in The Journal, the student newspaper at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax (Vol. 74, Issue 17, February 4, 2009), in which he notes,
What we want from biology class is that pupils gain a sound understanding of evolution by natural and sexual selection. We want them to understand how selective pressures cause traits to spread or fail to spread throughout a population of organisms and how these pressures can give rise to new species. That is, we want that they acquire the ability to encounter the natural world in the ways a contemporary biologist does.

What we ought not to want is that pupils believe that in fact species do evolve by means of natural and sexual selection. We ought to be completely indifferent as to whether they accept the theory as true. All we want, that is, is that they understand the theory and can apply it correctly to biological phenomena.
He compares it to a course in world religions
It is no part of such a class that pupils come to believe the core doctrines of the religions they study, or that they come to hold any religious beliefs at all. The class does what it should when pupils come to understand the various religions they study, and to understand the various psychological, sociological, or anthropological theories of them their teacher presents. To ask them to believe anything is to try to indoctrinate them into, or out of, religion. Likewise, to ask pupils in a biology class to believe anything they are taught is to indoctrinate them into science.
It's an interesting comparison, but I am not sure I buy it. For one thing, science is supposed to be matters of fact, not opinion.

And time and time again, when Darwinian theories are tested, they flunk. As I wrote recently,
The history of life has not been the long, slow "survival of the fittest" transition that classical evolution theory requires. Life got started on Earth the planet cooled. All the basic divisions of animal life took shape rather suddenly in the Cambrian seas, about 550 million years ago. Later, there was, for example, the "Big Bang" of flowers and the Big Bang of birds, where many life forms appear quite suddenly.
Darwinism is not overwhelmingly demonstrated. It is underwhelmingly demonstrated but overwhelmingly believed.

It is overwhelmingly believed (and taught), not because of evidence - the evidence is against it, and that fact has been known for a very long time. Steve Gould called it the "trade secret of paleontology". But Darwinism is the only doctrine of evolution that supports materialist atheism, which is the actual religion of the Western elite today. Most of what is in textbooks now - like the examples above - is indoctrination.

One reason for the intelligent design controversy is that teachers are forbidden to supplement the indoctrination with any evidence against the dogma propounded.

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy

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