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Is it OK to teach evolution in public schools?

Posted Jan 5, '13 at 2:03pm

ihsahn

ihsahn

431 posts

I don't have a problem with it, but it's very hypocritical that some people would freak out if the opposite was taught. Both sides being taught is important.

Science isn't a controversy or a discussion. There aren't "sides".

You see, the whole "teach the controversy" thing is a fallacy that Creationists perpetuate because it gives their doctrine a false equal standing with actual science. When you say that there's "sides", they seem both worthy of consideration and valid, when that's a lie, because creationism isn't scientific or evidence-based.
It's not any more hypocritical to deny creationism in favor of evolution than it is to deny geocentrism in favor of heliocentrism. One side is wrong, one side is science. Wanting two sides in a discussion for the sake of imaginary balance is a fallacy of false compromise.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_to_moderation

The honest truth of it is that evolution is the scientific establishment and "intelligent design" is a repackaging of religion with pseudo-scientific language.

 

Posted Jan 5, '13 at 3:54pm

Fenrisle

Fenrisle

25 posts

HahiHa wrote:
Fenrisle wrote:

Again, the two are not separate. Why is it that one cannot be religious and scientifically oriented as well? "Yet" implies as much, whether referring to religious institutions or individuals .

I didn't say it isn't possible; I know it is, and know people who acknowledge evolution even though they're openly religious. What I'm saying is, this is their own merit, not their belief's. Religion as such does not encourage such a mindset, even if it doesn't contradict it directly and allows such things.

That's another generalization. Are you a theologian/historian and have studied every major religion in the world, as well as all apropos religious works and knowledge? Even if religions don't encourage scientific thought, they usually don't discourage it.
Often it is one's own merit and worldview. However, science says nothing on religion because science is based on facts that we can comprehend and find; whether or not one's faith is "true" so to speak, science doesn't encourage such a mindset. Should scientists then not be religious if they want to follow the scientific method and empirical evidence strictly?

Anyways, few religions have such mythology, at least directly speaking. One can't take the Bible, for instance, seriously at all times, especially not when it comes to legends; it was written by humans who make mistakes, as is accepted by most sects of Christianity as institutions.

I doubt that only few have such mythologies. Besides, I think you underestimate the amount of people who consistently stick to their holy texts in all situations.

That depends on one's definition. Often they are not part of the holy text(s), and if they are quite often denominations, sects, or even individuals choose to accept them as canonical of their own views.
I don't underestimate the amount of such people; I'm not counting them in this argument. Sorry about that -- it is a large group.

Kasic wrote:
Fenrisle wrote:

I know you didn't mean it like that; I just dislike such identifications. My apologies for the rant.

He wasn't really talking about religion itself in that sentence to begin with. He was talking about how teachers are afraid of mentioning the subject at all due to previous legal things.

He said that religion made evolution a hot topic, which in itself isn't quite true, but it also clumps all religions into one with that wording. Again, I know he didn't mean it like that.

Why is it that one cannot be religious and scientifically oriented as well?

They aren't mutually exclusive, but when you believe in something without reason to and assert that as truth over what we have evidence for, that's when it becomes an issue.

How is it an issue? Are you saying that faith is something that doesn't belong in science? Science is by no means atheism or associated with it.
Many scientists have faith in science and in experimenting; in fact, most discoveries are mistakes.

If one believes in a Supreme Being, do you not think they'll put Them above science, regardless of how "scientific" as people they are?

One can't take the Bible, for instance, seriously at all times, especially not when it comes to legends;

That's another problem. Common sense would tell us that those events in the bible were meant to say that they literally happened and were not allegorical. Yes, there are some things that are obviously metaphors, but...the Hebrews escaping from Egypt through the parting of the sea and the drowning of the Pharaoh's troops as they pursued them is too specific for it to be meant as anything other than an actual event.

True, but Biblical events are mainly dependent on interpretation. But if you don't believe in them, others probably do; in fact, why wouldn't most Christians believe in what their holy book states?

MageGrayWolf wrote:
Fenrisle wrote:

I don't like your use of the world "religion" in that sentence; it seems to generalize and make false hypotheses. There might be certain sects of a few religions who tend to disagree with evolution, but nothing is absolute, and certainly nothing is carried over from one religion to another solely because they're religions.

The point being made is that there is pressure being put on teachers not to teach these things. I used the term religion rather than being more specific because I was trying to not sound as if I was singling out any one specifically, as per the request of the OP. "Lets try not point out certain religions."

Sadly, that is true.

I understand that, and as stated earlier, know you did not mean it in that way; however, I have seen much generalization and discrimination meant in such a manner elsewhere, so I ranted unnecessarily. My sincere apologies.
Still, "religion" is not a group.

But it will still be experimental, no?

What do you mean by experimental?

Science is prediction, observation, and result. Nothing is certain.

science is often even more hotly debated and disagreed on than history.

that's it's strong point, it thrives on being contested. But the real question is what is the value of that disagreement? What basis does one disagree with a point in science on? Not all of it's equal.

The question of value is to itself. It might be entirely useless or extremely important and controversial. The invasive properties of HeLa cells, for instance, was disagreed on simply because people didn't like the idea of it; that didn't turn out well.

Evolution is fundamental, but not a direct factor like such forces as gravity and inertia; as such, disbelief in it doesn't really make too big an impact on an individual.

Evolution has a number of direct applications to it, beyond that of even immunization as you later pointed out.

Yes, it does; that doesn't make it directly and fundamentally relevant to the extent of gravity.

That's nonsensical. My religion teaches creation by the deity, but I believe in evolution as nowhere does it say contrary to the existence of other other species or similar; in fact, the scientific method is supported, though not in direct words.

if you're going by the Bible then you are going against what it is claiming happened. Though I do actually have a small axe to grind with theistic evolution. That is that we understand the mechanisms involved with the theistic aspect added you're either having to ignore or deny one or more of those mechanisms or having to add a superfluous mechanism.

I am not Christian, so I am not going by by the Bible. Unless you are referencing in general, which isn't necessarily true.

Please clarify; why do you say as much?

Besides which, many can be devout followers of sects of religions following the ideology you mentioned, as well as highly scientifically minded. I take it you're familiar with such aspects of religion as deism?

That's not deism. Though yes one can hold a religious view and be a scientist. This is because we tend to compartmentalize and when a view that has been compartmentalized in one way conflicts with a view from the other, we tend to go into cognitive dissonance.

I didn't say it was. Deism was an example.

Dissonance? How do these compartmentalized and fundamental beliefs of people conflict?

Why is it that one cannot be religious and scientifically oriented as well?

one can, the problem with mixing the two is that the methodologies are at odds with each other.

Again, how so? Religion is not an application of material fact, and science is not an inward ideology of faith.

Anyways, few religions have such mythology, at least directly speaking.

Yes many religions do have creation stories of the world.

But few are directly in-text; if they are, they are debated on whether or not they are canonical. Regardless, many of a given religion agree or disagree with that mythology, be it sect, familial, individual, or due to other reasons.

One can't take the Bible, for instance, seriously at all times, especially not when it comes to legends; it was written by humans who make mistakes, as is accepted by most sects of Christianity as institutions.

The events in the Bible as it is today are in there because the people who canonized it did take it all seriously.

How can you prove this? Also, they were still human; many Christians today do not agree with some or a lot of the previous canonical text.

 

Posted Jan 5, '13 at 4:43pm

Kasic

Kasic

5,471 posts

That's another generalization.

No, it's not. Religion by nature tells people what to believe. That does not encourage open-mindedness or critical thinking.

How is it an issue? Are you saying that faith is something that doesn't belong in science? Science is by no means atheism or associated with it.
Many scientists have faith in science and in experimenting; in fact, most discoveries are mistakes.

It's an issue when any given set of data is going to be interpreted as a forgone conclusion. Fossils? God made them/they aren't millions of years old despite that all data points at it. Thus our methods must be wrong...that's creationist thinking. They purposefully disregard things just to suit their belief. Now, I'm not saying if you're religious you're going to do this, or that you have to be religious to do that, but religion is -the- major factor against evolution which is why I specifically mentioned it.

Faith does and does not belong in science. At our most base principles, yes, there is faith that what occurred in a specific instance can be repeated under the same circumstances. Beyond that, faith is unnecessary.

I'm aware that science is not atheism, although it's pretty close in that it doesn't "believe" in a god since one has not been proven to exist.

You're right and wrong with that most discoveries are mistakes from experimenting. The discoveries come while testing a hypothesis (which isn't the same as faith at all) and finding they are either right or wrong or that something completely unexpected happens.

If one believes in a Supreme Being, do you not think they'll put Them above science, regardless of how "scientific" as people they are?

And that's exactly the problem. They put something which is not proven and which we have no evidence for above logical reasoning and experimental process.

But if you don't believe in them, others probably do; in fact, why wouldn't most Christians believe in what their holy book states?

They do and they don't. I can tell you from experience that most Christians haven't even read the Bible fully. So for a large part, they don't even know what their holy book says aside from what gets taught at church (which are usually the same verses/books and only parts of them). Then it comes down to individual interpretation and following of said parts.

No one Christian believes the same thing in my experience.

Still, "religion" is not a group.

I would argue that it is. Religion is defined as having multiple aspects to it. People identify as religious and follow said traditions/teachings. Thus when you speak of religion, you also speak of what people have proclaimed to follow. While it's true that religions are different, in many ways they are similar.

Science is prediction, observation, and result. Nothing is certain.

We make the assumption that things are certain if you know the process behind them. To do otherwise is basically throwing your hands up in the air and expecting bananas to shape shift on whim.

Yes, it is prediction, observation and result, but we can repeat said results.

that doesn't make it directly and fundamentally relevant to the extent of gravity.

The point of the gravity comparison is that it's another theory. We actually know less about gravity than we do about how evolution works anyways.

Please clarify; why do you say as much?

The Bible directly claims that God made everything as is. Taking a theistic evolution stance as a Christian is basically saying that the creation story is a metaphor and the inserting an unnecessary component to evolution (God) as the cause or screw with what evolution claims in parts to fit everything just poofing into existence.

Dissonance? How do these compartmentalized and fundamental beliefs of people conflict?

Well, in the case of evolution from a creationist standpoint.

Evolution states that organisms came from a common ancestor.
Creationism states that everything was made as is.

Obviously, if you're going to accept evolution and believe in creationism, you have to compromise one of the two or delude yourself into thinking they don't conflict.

Again, how so? Religion is not an application of material fact, and science is not an inward ideology of faith.

As stated earlier, religion by nature conflicts with the scientific process (Religion makes a claim, it is accepted) (Science makes a claim, you have to prove it).

But few are directly in-text; if they are, they are debated on whether or not they are canonical. Regardless, many of a given religion agree or disagree with that mythology, be it sect, familial, individual, or due to other reasons.

The ones who don't follow the literal interpretation of the creation story aren't creationists then and aren't arguing against the validity of evolution from a groundless standpoint.

How can you prove this?

Various statements and proclamations make it pretty obvious that people were expected to believe the Bible as the whole truth and that the events inside actually took place and were not metaphors.

many Christians today do not agree with some or a lot of the previous canonical text.

There are many more types of Christians today, yes. 1000 years ago not so much. Sure, people probably had their own interpretation of the Bible (if they could read it) but most just accepted what they were told as fact because no one was contesting it.

 

Posted Jan 5, '13 at 4:49pm

Kasic

Kasic

5,471 posts

I'll just highlight the problem with religion and science in this one example.

Scientist A proposes that a certain type of fish is related to another type of fish. He then examines genetic material between the two and isolates a series of retroviruses which are present in one fish are present in the other. From this he concludes that at some point the other species of fish separated from the ancestor and then began to acquire different retroviruses. This is one part of his proof.

Scientist B argues that the fish is not related to the other because they are "distinctly different" and that retroviruses do not prove evolution occurred. He gives no alternate explanation as to why both types of fish would share the same retroviruses or have similar features. He states that macro-evolution has not been proven but does not offer any other reason to oppose Scientist A's hypothesis.

Do you see the problem with Scientist B's methodology and thinking?

 

Posted Jan 5, '13 at 6:05pm

Xzeno

Xzeno

2,082 posts

No, it's not. Religion by nature tells people what to believe. That does not encourage open-mindedness or critical thinking.

This quote really encapsulates a recurring theme of this thread. On one side, there are people who say stuff like "Well I don't think evolution is real" like it's some subjective issue you get to have an opinion on. Evolution is a fact. Not believing in it is like not believing in electromagnetism. It's really not up for debate AT ALL.

While it's technically true that it is a scientific theory and acknowledges the possibility of it being incorrect, that's a sort of poisonous idea. People act like that's a meaningful possibility of it being incorrect. There isn't. It's a fact. If that damages your worldview, that's on you, not educators.

On the other hand of the debate, though, we have people with no meaningful understanding whatsoever of religion attempting to belittle it conceptually. You know, people who are like "I don't know man, you say religion has value, but the AmazingAtheist told me it was always horrible and I value critical thinking so I'm going with that."

Look, if you think religion is a horrible, unproductive, archaic and meaningless way of thinking, it means you don't understand it. If your critical thinking leads you to think that religion, as a holistic concept, is bad, it's because you have done a poor job of thinking critically. The rejection of religion seen on AG is not an intellectual movement, it's a bunch of young minds clouded by ignorance and delusion.

The level on which these critiques of religion are operating on are really quite quaint. I don't know how else to put it. If you have no understanding of religion, you have no platform from which to meaningfully criticize it.

To all you diehard creationists, you're wrong. Your views don't hold up under the hard light of facts. Evolution is real.

To you diehard atheists, I have no facts or empirical truths that should be brought against you. So long as you continue to worship a twisted and base view of rationality, you are your own worst enemy.

 

Posted Jan 5, '13 at 6:15pm

Kasic

Kasic

5,471 posts

I can't quite tell if you're meaning to imply that my statement was saying that religion is a, "horrible, unproductive, archaic and meaningless way of thinking" but I'll cover my bases just in case...

I never said that religion has no use or merit. I also didn't say that one can't critically think or be open-minded if they are religious. I simply said that by nature of religion, you are told what to believe and are meant to accept that as truth which does no encourage those qualities.

I also doubt that many of those who you're referencing as "diehard atheists" think this way too. We're not having a discussion about the merits of religion, we're talking about evolution and how religion is basically the only reason people don't accept it.

 

Posted Jan 6, '13 at 12:38am

MattBPlaysMinecraft

MattBPlaysMinecraft

10 posts

I'm sorry, to clarify on my post:

In my class in religion a few years ago, a student asked how both the creation stories and scientific theories could be true. (Once again, a long time ago) The teacher responded "Many of the Bible stories, which were once believed to be 100% true, that contradict modern science are mainly symbolic for religious virtues and laws. One should not believe the Bible is 100% accurate in history, science, etc., but should be referred to so one can know what would be a more faithful decision (etc. steal or earn it yourself), as well as general laws for leading a good and happier life."

 

Posted Jan 6, '13 at 1:54am

hojoko

hojoko

556 posts

I simply said that by nature of religion, you are told what to believe and are meant to accept that as truth which does no encourage those qualities.

And yet this statement betrays your ignorance of religion.

Religion, at it's most fundamental level, is about the philosophical hows of life. How do we live a good life? A just life? And, most importantly, Why?. Essentially, religion is subjective, and as such is open to interpretation.

Science, on the other hand, is about the facts of life. Why does heat rise? What is the chemical composition of salt? These questions and their answers are objective (in theory, although the further experimentation might reveal a different answer, but that's not the point). They are also not about that big philosophical Why? because the subsequent philosophical Because is neither objective nor provable.

My point here is that religion and science are, for the most part, not comparable.

By equating religious ideology and mythology to a scientific Theory, you make the false assumption that religious texts are to be accepted as cold, hard fact. But that's not how it works.

Generally, the men and women who question the teachings of their religion and devote themselves to the interpretation of the texts are held In the highest esteem (On a side note, the study and interpretation generally lead to increased critical thinking abilities. Closed-mindedness, on the other hand, in neither unique to religion or any other personal ideals, and cannot be attributed to it). There are many, many interpretations of the same texts simply because religion is not fact, but simply a lesson to be taken subjectively, if you so choose.

Theoretically...

For these reasons, Creationism, on the whole, is rather silly. Creationism attempts to apply the rules of an objective method of thought to a subjective method of thought, which leads to an incoherent and unbelievable ideology. However, Creationism =\\= religion, and is no reason to stop the teaching of evolution. On the flip side, I believe the study of the philosophy of religion (all religions), is important and shouldn't be excluded from our education.

The problem, of course, is dogmatism. But dogmatism, like closed-mindedness, is not unique to religion, and can be found regardless of personal beliefs or practices.

 

Posted Jan 6, '13 at 2:18am

Kasic

Kasic

5,471 posts

And yet this statement betrays your ignorance of religion.

Religion, at it's most fundamental level, is about the philosophical hows of life. How do we live a good life? A just life? And, most importantly, Why?. Essentially, religion is subjective, and as such is open to interpretation.

That's part of it, but not the whole. Take a look at the definition of religion.

"the service and worship of God or the supernatural (2) : commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance
2
: a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices
: a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith"

Merriam Webster

The holding of specific beliefs is integral for something to be defined as a religion. Without that, it would just be a moral code with no reason to follow it. As religion makes claims and asserts that they are the full and only truth (usually) that makes what I said earlier, "I simply said that by nature of religion, you are told what to believe and are meant to accept that as truth which does no encourage those qualities." a true statement.

They are also not about that big philosophical Why? because the subsequent philosophical Because is neither objective nor provable.

You make it sound like there is a why to begin with.

My point here is that religion and science are, for the most part, not comparable.

But religious belief still conflicts with scientific findings in many, many instances.

Closed-mindedness, on the other hand, in neither unique to religion or any other personal ideals, and cannot be attributed to it).

I agree that closed-mindedness is not attributable to religion, but it is often an attribute of it.

However, Creationism =\\\\= religion

In the same way that Finger =/= Hand. It's a part of the whole.

But dogmatism, like closed-mindedness, is not unique to religion, and can be found regardless of personal beliefs or practices.

Not unique to it, but common within it.

 

Posted Jan 6, '13 at 3:20am

hojoko

hojoko

556 posts

The problem here is that you're entire argument is based on a fallacy. Somehow, you make the jump from religion as the "holding of specific beliefs" to meaning "dogmatically accepting the text of "

I fail to see the connection. As I previously said, subjective interpretation of religious text is often encouraged and respected. Just because one accepts God doesn't necessarily mean they have to take the text literally. Again, your incorrectly applying scientific methodology to religion, by making the assumption that belief in God(s) equals belief in a religious text as fact. Belief in God(s) can just as easily mean belief religious text as God(s) teachings on morality, or allegories for the moral situations we are often faced with (or any number of other things).

But religious belief still conflicts with scientific findings in many, many instances.

Only if you assume that religious text is supposed to be a factual account of history. Like I said, belief doesn't necessarily mean that one accepts religious text as a completely factual account.

To use Creationism as an example, sure, one could claim that because the Torah says God created the Universe in 6 days, it must be true. But that's only if you take the text at face value. If you view the teachings of the Torah as teachings, then God's creation of the Universe is simply the setup to the stories and teachings that follow, just as the story of Adam and Eve isn't necessarily the origin of mankind, but a lesson on honesty, willpower and the value of knowledge.

Thus Creationism isn't always equivalent to religion. One can easily be religious without being a creationist.

I agree that closed-mindedness is not attributable to religion, but it is often an attribute of it.

As it is also an attribute of politics, academia, mass-movements and atheism.

You make it sound like there is a why to begin with.

That depends. Is there an objective, universal Why? that applies to all of us? I highly doubt it. But again, religion is subjective. As soon as an individual can ask Why?, it can exist for the individual (if they so choose), and they can search for an answer through whatever means they choose, religious or otherwise.

Just because it's not necessary doesn't mean it's not important.

 
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