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Friday, September 23, 2005

American biology teachers insist on atheism?

An American lawyer who is active in intelligent design issues has written me to say that the National Association of Biology Teachers, far from foreswearing atheism, has in fact merely moved some of its former upfront atheistic tenets to the supporting material under its current grand (and relatively innocuous-sounding) statement.

From the May 2004 version:

NABT endorses the following tenets of science, evolution, and biology education. Teachers should take these tenets into account when teaching evolution.
Essential Concepts of Biological Evolution

- The diversity of life on earth is the outcome of biological evolution - an unpredictable and natural process of descent with modification that is affected by natural selection, mutation, genetic drift, migration and other natural biological and geological forces.
Okay, well, wait a minute ... unless we know for sure that there is no meaning or purpose in the universe, how can we possibly know that biological evolution is unpredictable and (purely) natural?

A number of well-respected scientists who, incidentally, do not align with the intelligent design theorists, would dispute the view that evolution is unpredictable, notably Michael Denton and Simon Conway Morris.

Also, if one claims that biological evolution is unpredictable, it may also be untestable and unfalsifiable. That's too bad. I had hoped it would be more than nice graphics. I especially hoped that because I have just finished tickng off playwright Paul Rudnick on account of the fact that I thought his treatment of the subject is shallow. But if it's not science after all, maybe shallow wins.

(Note: Before you waste a lot of time denouncing my remarks in the Comments box, please note the title of this blog: I am not a creationist, as the term is normally understood. I think, from observing the current controversy, that the dogma of Darwinian evolution without design or purpose is primarily designed to serve materialist philosophy, and does not have nearly enough evidence to stand on its own. That said, I do not dispute the current dating of the age of the universe or of Earth—or the idea, in principle, of common ancestry. Whether our origins really happened that way, is, of course, another matter, and it is disquieting to learn that evolution is supposed to be "unpredictable." )

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