Tuesday, June 21, 2011

How to watch my Dad's brain melt

A little late for a Father's Day post - but I saw this one, and couldn't help but think of my Dad. See, he's a Biology professor, and is fond of something something to the effect of: "Darwin is always in the room." That is, evolution isn't just some isolated theory - it's a pillar on which all science is built.

(Oy, I hope I'm not putting words in my Dad's mouth - that would be bad.)

Anyway, if he has the courage to watch this video I expect his brain would melt. The video consists of Miss USA 2011 candidates answering the question: should evolution be taught in school.

Holy. Smokes.

The overwhelming consensus opinion is that evolution should be taught along side creationism to allow students to make their own informed decision.

Even I, with my relatively limited knowledge of science, no that this approach is flawed. Why? Here's a few reasons that come to mind:

  • Creationism/Intelligent Design (ID) isn't science. Science is predicated on the ability to run experiments to show results. ID involves an intelligent creator who can't be tested for.
  • Science class isn't giving students some information and allowing them to make their own decisions. You don't show them a picture of Jupiter and say, hey, we think this ball of gas 2.5 times the mass of all other planets in the solar system. Believe it if you want, or not.
  • Evolution doesn't explain how the world came to be, nor does it imply there isn't a G-d. In fact, thinking of evolution as a tool with which G-d works is perfectly legitimate.
  • Evolution isn't just about humans and apes. As Darwin showed, evolution is all around us.

Still, it must mean something that you can produce such a video. Looks like my Dad and other professors have their work cut out for them.

Update: After a little reflection, it seems to me that the contestants in the video were effectively answering another question than the one posed. Most of them appeared to be answering something along the lines of: "in science class, should the teacher be allowed to teach that G-d doesn't exist?" When viewed in that context, many of the responses make sense - sure, teach the evidence, and let students decide this very personal decision.

But, as I stated above, evolution doesn't determine your stance on G-d. Implying that teaching evolution is code for teaching that religion isn't of value is just plain wrong.

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