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What Should Teachers Say to Religious Students Who Doubt Evolution?

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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I’m teaching Darwin again this semester, in two separate courses, and I’m confronted with a familiar dilemma: How should I respond to students who reject evolutionary theory on religious grounds?

One course is a freshman survey of the humanities and social sciences, and the other reviews the history of science and technology. I asked both classes to write a paper on the following question: Why do you think Darwin’s theory of evolution still encounters so much opposition today? I encouraged the students to personalize their responses—that is, to discuss how they reconciled their own faith, if any, with evolutionary theory.

While grading the papers, I separated them into three categories. 1. Evolution and faith can be compatible, as long as faith is willing to abandon literal interpretations of scripture. 2. Science trumps faith, period. 3. Faith trumps science. Some of the papers were hard to categorize, because they were noncommittal or simply confusing. But here are the numbers I came up with: Of the 35 students, a majority, 20, said that evolution and religion are or should be compatible. Six students said that science has replaced, or should replace, religious explanations of creation. Nine students rejected evolution because it contradicted their faith.

Below are quotes from members of this third group:

“Many people become doubtful of their religions just because there is something more ‘scientific’ out there. Just because Darwin’s theory is scientific does not automatically mean that its findings are necessarily true.”

“If Darwin’s theory was completely accurate, then after only several generations the world should be vacant of non-perfect people.” (This seems to be a critique of the concept of adaptation.)

“I personally do not believe in the theory of evolution. Nevertheless I am open to changing that belief if presented convincing evidence.”

“Even though I still believe in creationism, I have a better grasp of evolution after gaining a thorough understanding of the observations and scientific materials that support it…Since everyone is entitled to his own beliefs and opinions, there will always be conflict between both views.”

“The reason Darwin encounters so much opposition today is due to proof as well as logic.”

“Evolution has all these different theories and drawbacks, whereas the Bible is simple (parsimonious)… There is a creator. There is a God.”

“I don’t mind believing in evolution, but the only part I refuse to believe in is that man evolved from apes… Regardless of the facts that science presents to the world I will believe that God exists and what is in the Bible is the truth.”

How do I respond to students like this? I point out that some religion-bashing Darwinians exaggerate the power of evolutionary theory. For example, Richard Dawkins was wrong–egregiously wrong–when he claimed in his 1986 bestseller The Blind Watchmaker that life “is a mystery no longer because [Darwin] solved it.”

Even when bolstered by modern genetics, evolutionary theory does not explain why life emerged on Earth more than 3 billion years ago, or whether life was highly probable, even inevitable, or a once in a universe fluke. The theory doesn’t explain why life, after remaining single-celled for more than 2 billion years, suddenly spawned multi-cellular organisms, including one exceedingly strange mammal capable of pondering its own origins.

Some prominent thinkers—from philosopher Karl Popper to complexity theorist Stuart Kauffman–have critiqued Darwinism for purely scientific rather than religious reasons. Some of these critics have suggested that natural selection, as conventionally understood, must be supplemented by other processes, such as “self-organization” of simple chemical and biological systems.

But so far none of these alternatives has gained much traction. As for proponents of intelligent design, some raise reasonable questions about the limits of biology, but their answers—which invoke some sort of divine intervention–are pathetically inadequate. The theory of evolution by natural selection is arguably the single most profound insight into reality that humanity has ever achieved, and it is supported by overwhelming evidence–mountains of evidence!–from the ever-expanding fossil record to DNA analyses of living species.

These are the sorts of things I tell my students. I feel a bit queasy, I admit, challenging their faith, from which some of them derive great comfort. Part of me agrees with one student who wrote: “Each individual is entitled to his or her own religious beliefs… Authority figures teaching America’s youth should not be permitted to say certain things such as any religion being simply ‘wrong’ due to a certain scientific explanation.” On the other hand, if I don’t prod these young people into questioning their most cherished beliefs, I’m not doing my job, am I?

Illustration: Gramercy Books.

 

John Horgan About the Author: Every week, hockey-playing science writer John Horgan takes a puckish, provocative look at breaking science. A teacher at Stevens Institute of Technology, Horgan is the author of four books, including The End of Science (Addison Wesley, 1996) and The End of War (McSweeney's, 2012). Follow on Twitter @Horganism.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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  1. 1. curiouswavefunction 1:58 pm 11/20/2012

    “Many people become doubtful of their religions just because there is something more ‘scientific’ out there. Just because Darwin’s theory is scientific does not automatically mean that its findings are necessarily true.”

    I am curious; would they say the same thing about the theories underlying chemistry and electronics which give rise to practical technologies like computers, microwaves and drugs?

    What’s interesting (and perhaps encouraging…or not) is that several of the responses indicate a rather simple misunderstanding of evolutionary principles (for instance the whole belief about a “march toward perfection”) which could in principle be quickly dispelled by a good course in evolution.

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  2. 2. compassghost 1:59 pm 11/20/2012

    I’m not an educator by any means, but I am a life-long student (now in graduate school.)

    You had your students write papers about their opinions regarding evolution, and separated your papers. From the statements that you’ve compiled, there are quite a few in variation. Some are reasonable, some seem to miss the point about evolution entirely, or contort a facet of evolution incorrectly to disprove it.

    As you’ve had your students write essays and have gone ahead and sorted them, you should select an essay from each category (ask those students for their permission to distribute the essays anonymously, for sure) and have the students go over their contents. Search for essays that bring good defense to not just their own arguments, but those of the opposing side as well.

    For example: “Even though I still believe in creationism, I have a better grasp of evolution after gaining a thorough understanding of the observations and scientific materials that support it…Since everyone is entitled to his own beliefs and opinions, there will always be conflict between both views.”

    This person didn’t just focus on whether or not evolution is compatible with his views, he also acknowledges the benefits of opposite views.

    The students’ opinions are ultimately up to themselves to resolve. Giving them access to peers’ alternative opinions allows them to see views from a different facet besides just a textbook and a (no offense intended at all!) professor on the payroll.

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  3. 3. barry2b 2:38 pm 11/20/2012

    what are you teaching here? if Biology then stay on topic in the class room. We have way more churches than schools, at least everywhere I have been. also it is not a good idea to bring up evolution in church, because there is obviously no compatibility. one distracts the other. Bottom line, If you are paid to teach science then do what you are paid to do. Just instruct the students this is science class, feel free to go to church to learn about religion. No problem:)

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  4. 4. stanleyh 2:52 pm 11/20/2012

    Great story. Here is what came to my mind:
    - Many evolutionary scientists often have contradictory attitudes, bashing intelligent design to better promote their own idea of the “purpose” of evolution. Evolution has to be defended against the superstitions and exaggerations of its promoters, as well as against creationists.
    - Pope John Paul II: “Science can purify religion from error and superstition. Religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes.”. The faithful have the option to convert to Catholicism (or many other options) to keep faith and evolution in harmony.
    - The interesting thing with “literal” interpretations of scripture is that there are so many to choose from.

    I like your conclusion: being entitled to your own beliefs does not imply you should be immune to having those beliefs challenged in class.

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  5. 5. barry2b 2:55 pm 11/20/2012

    what should teachers say to religious students who doubt evolution?
    Well, student, the educational system thinks you should be exposed to what evidence supports. The ultimtet choice is yours, maybe it is a good opportunity to look at the scientific side. do not allow the contraversy in the class room as it is disruptive.

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  6. 6. BrianH 3:24 pm 11/20/2012

    A couple of very egregious errors in this posting.

    First of all, Evolutionary theory has nothing whatsoever to say about the origins of life. That is a concern more of chemistry and many clues and theories are being advanced. Criticizing evolutionary theory for not explaining the origins of life is like criticizing Newton’s theory of gravity for not explaining chemical bonding.

    Second, there is a lot of use of the word “why” in this posting. It may just be poor wording on the part of Mr. Horgan, but science generally answers “how” questions. Asking “why” can imply an intention that may not necessarily be there.

    I am a little perturbed that someone with some very basic misunderstandings of both evolutionary theory and science in general may be teaching this to students.

    If this was part of a humanities course then it would be somewhat forgivable. Studying the societal impact of Darwin in history and today is interesting in its own right, but not strongly connected to the facts of evolution itself.

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  7. 7. M Tucker 3:36 pm 11/20/2012

    When I read Genesis, actually read it as though I will be tested on its content, I discover inconsistencies, contradictions, and multiple explanations of the same event. It is obvious to me it is a compilation of stories that have been handed down by word-of-mouth over multiple generations. It turns out that many of the stories have similarities to stories that have existed in other ancient cultures. When I examine the fossil record, when I study the geologic history of the earth and life on earth, it becomes clear that evolution has occurred. When I study the fossil record for human evolution I discover a very rich and long story that has played out over several million years. Science is constantly refining that story as that is how science works. The difference between the story told by science and that told by Genesis is strikingly obvious: The Bible is simply not a science text. Religion has nothing to add to science and science has very little to add to religion. Some scientists try to attack religion as false but just because they are scientists does not mean they are experts in that field. I ignore their attacks just as I do those of religious fanatics on science. For me religion has never been an obstacle to studying science. I do not find it absolutely necessary to abandon all literal interpretations of the Bible but I will always render unto science the things which belong to science.

    “Why do you think Darwin’s theory of evolution still encounters so much opposition today?” Some religious fundamentalists still believe that if the literal interpretation of some of the stories in the Bible were to be questioned then the whole idea of salvation and the belief in God comes into question. For the most fanatical among them the only solution is to reject reason altogether. And, to buttress that extreme position, they then construct an argument to show that reason is the root of all evil. It is also true that some scientists and authors have tried to construct an argument to show that religion is the root of all evil. So this fundamentally pointless back-and-fourth attacking of each other persists and each side moves farther away from any kind of understanding and complete distrust of the other. Since religion is not a required course of study in modern education, yet science is, it is completely understandable that a great many Americans will find that to be evidence of an evil conspiracy to destroy religion. It bolsters their resolve to reject any science that seems to oppose their religious beliefs. I do not believe that religion should be a required course of study. If you want to study science you need to attend school and if you want to study religion you should attend church. But I do firmly wish that the overt attacks on religion and science would stop.

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  8. 8. theo52 3:44 pm 11/20/2012

    The title of this article contains a deceptive inference. It infers that rejection of Darwinian/Macro evolution is only by religious people for religious reasons – this is not true.
    The evolution battle is often MISrepresented as science against religion – this is baloney!
    The real battle is between good science and Darwinism. When Darwinian/Macro evolution is scrutinised using the scientific method, it crumbles.
    The scientific method demands: observation, measurement, repeatability. Darwinian/Macro evolution has none of these, all it has is circumstantial evidence which is open to interpretation. Ask yourself: What evidence is there that our great …. great grandfather was a self replicating molecule?
    Scientific evidence should be the core issue in scientific controversies like Macro evolution.
    Do a youtube search for “Persuaded by the Evidence” and consider the experience of 6 scientists which where once Evolutionists but became skeptics because of the evidence they saw in their respective fields.
    Mindlessly repeating the mantra that their is “mountains of evidence proving evolution” does not make it so.
    Dr John Sanford (Geneticist and inventor of the GeneGun) said .
    “The bottom line is that the primary axiom [of Darwinian/Macro evolution] is categorically false,
    you can’t create information with misspellings, not even if you use natural selection.”

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  9. 9. Charles Hollahan 3:45 pm 11/20/2012

    Science is a method to discover natural truths and communicate these facts to others while faith is a method which allows some to come to terms with an interpretation of reality.

    Evolution is the best framework which explains observations first and experiments which came later. Science and religion are not actually in conflict but some would have the faithful believe that it is. Faith can not be evaluated scientifically and religion cannot explain the scientific method.

    Intelligent Design has no place in a class which is teaching the scientific method because it isn’t based upon a method of hypothesis and experimentation. Science cannot elucidate religions so I would not expect to hear theories from priest.

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  10. 10. Mark Martino 3:50 pm 11/20/2012

    I’ve worked with so many electrical and software engineers who accept religious explanations of biological diversity over evolutionary theory that I’ve developed my own theory. I read, probably in SA, that the part of the brain that has to do with abstract thinking is part of, or close to, the part of the brain that is involved with religious experiences. It almost seems that the more capacity a person has for abstract thought, the more capacity that person has for religious experiences, or at least being open to them.

    My way of responding to such people is to explain to them that acceptance and belief are two different behaviors. One accepts a scientific theory because of evidence. One believes in a religious concept for many reasons which may or may not include evidence. If there is an all powerful entity, or maybe one that’s just a little more powerful than us, I think that entity expects us to apply science as much as we are able because we’re designed for it. Science and engineering helps a lot while you’re living in a material world.

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  11. 11. LarryW 4:03 pm 11/20/2012

    Why are you teaching Darwin? Evolution and Darwin are two separate subjects. Darwin is not the final answer to evolutionary thought. Teach the science.

    When you teach Darwin, you are appealing to authority rather than science.

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  12. 12. CARLMILLER 4:48 pm 11/20/2012

    I don’t understand why you are including “Creationism” in a (hard) science class at all. Your question should be moved to Sociology or perhaps Psychiatry.

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  13. 13. Zexks 5:13 pm 11/20/2012

    Don’t teach the man, teach the evidence, simple as that. When you bring up a human you include the inevitable faults of all humanity. Teach the evidence as it is presented and how we can to be in possession of that evidence. Don’t teach darwin as a church teaches jesus. Teach evolution as a scientist, with evidence. People can argue over a man till the end of eternity, it’s much harder to argue the sun isn’t in the sky at noon.

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  14. 14. CherryBombSim 5:52 pm 11/20/2012

    For the one who writes “If Darwin’s theory was completely accurate, then after only several generations the world should be vacant of non-perfect people.”, you might ask them what they think a “perfect” person would be like. Then explain that adaptation cannot perform miracles (we will never fly because of physical constraints), nor does it strive for moral perfection (absolute marital fidelity is not adaptive in itself, only so far as it increases reproductive success).

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  15. 15. jayjacobus 6:46 pm 11/20/2012

    There are stages to faith (read Jim Fowler, Emory University). As a person changes his thinking over time, some dilemnas fall away and understanding becomes fluid. I am a student of the Bible, yet my understanding changes and evolves.

    Students are not damaged by controversy. Let them think and change.

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  16. 16. Probabilitywave1 6:47 pm 11/20/2012

    Teachers have a moral duty to shake foundations to question everything , even at the cost of ruffle sensitivities. And Science is not Politics nor the orbit of Jupiter decided by a Local State School council meeting or a student’s feelings. Scientific research is searching for the best answer wherever the Scientific Method is applied.

    You cannot believe in something and know it at the same time; If it is sunny outside, is just sunny whether you believe it or not.
    “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” Hebrews 11:1.
    A belief system based on a frame of reference that is particularly appealing or otherwise learned via the traditions inherent to a specific culture that claims to posses “knowledge” a priori in Scientific matters is just a skewed view at best.
    For Biblical Texts were written from about 2000 BC (AT) to 200 AD (NT) and modern Science started let’s say 2000 AD thus rendering the Biblical Scriptures obsolete as a scientific book of reference,this is not knowledge but rather pretend to know. Plato and others made observation and drew conclusions some right and some wrong but they did not ascertain divine inspiration or infallibility.
    “Many people become doubtful of their religions just because there is something more ‘scientific’ out there. Just because Darwin’s theory is scientific does not automatically mean that its findings are necessarily true.”
    You see Science does not assume it has the “truth” about the world we experience beforehand, Science understands that it must “discover” its knowledge on top of that Scientific Theories must be falsifiable, no theory is infallibly certain, is just as good as what it can predict and explain in the empirical world we live in. Religions in the other hand starts out with their “truths” and applies those to observable phenomena,(not falsifiable) Science starts with observable phenomena and mines out(Scientific Method and others) theories that in turn are tested by observable, measured experience. And even when a theory passes several tests is not proven (To confirm is not the same as to prove) No Scientific theory can be proved with absolute certainty. Yet a Scientific theory was used to detonate an Atomic Bomb; And it worked as predicted by the Theory.
    And there is no Dogma in Science and that applies to the Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection as well.
    Creationism has not led to new discoveries in the fields of Biology, psychology, etc, thus is useless,I think of it as intellectual laziness _God Did it.

    Our Country needs Teachers that inspire minds that put our politicians on alert, that as a Country we understand human biology and look concerned at “legitimate rape” claims and other fallacious statements.

    Do respond to all your students with the best Scientific answer available to Mankind, for that is your subject matter, From caterpillar to Butterfly there is no evident loss of ethics but I do sense a lack of Emotional Intelligence in staying a caterpillar or “failure to evolve”.

    El primer deber de un hombre es pensar por sí mismo.–Jose Marti

    Ab imo pectore
    Cm

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  17. 17. blindboy 7:33 pm 11/20/2012

    I have been teaching evolution to high school students for over 30 years and have had very few problems. I think it is essential to be very clear about what you are doing – presenting the theory that dominates biology the way atomic theory dominates chemistry. At the same time you need to explicitly state your respect for religious belief in a genuinely supportive way. This actually makes the students, who might otherwise lapse into a defensive refusal to consider the evidence, more receptive.
    What you absolutely do not want is a debate with the scientific evidence on one side and religious belief on the other. There is simply no point of agreement that can be reached. If students raise the pseudo-science of creationists, try to deal with their concerns out of class time.
    One of the main issues for me has always been the time constraint. You have limited time, the priorities have to be to develop a clear understanding of the process of natural selection and an awareness of the main lines of evidence for evolution. Keep your focus in class but give students with individual concerns a chance to raise them privately.
    Where I teach most students either already accept evolution or are prepared to consider the evidence objectively. This makes it easy to avoid being drawn into creationism or intelligent design during class. I appreciate that this might not be ths case everywhere.

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  18. 18. bobbeecher 7:55 pm 11/20/2012

    Two quotes come to mind in a situation like this:

    The first is by Richard Dawkins which sums up one of the main problems with religion:

    “I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world.”

    As the student said, “Evolution has all these different theories and drawbacks, whereas the Bible is simple…” Some people are lazy enough to take the simple road — even if it is full of untruths.

    The second quote deals with the frustration of faith versus fact. It’s from Carl Sagan:

    “You can’t convince a believer of anything; for their belief is not based on evidence, it’s based on a deep seated need to believe.”

    Unfortunately, people are comfortable with their myths and stories and their church families. Reminding them that humans DID, indeed, evolve from ape-like creatures is akin to throwing cold water on their Snuggie. Cognitive dissonance is a great psychological barrier and it’s quite difficult to break it down from the outside.

    Good luck to you!

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  19. 19. jwpowless 8:38 pm 11/20/2012

    I have taught high school biology for about 16 years now, including a major unit on evolution and natural selection (official State of Michigan content expectations)each year. My students’ problems with that unit usually turn out to be related to earth science and physics, not what they learn in life science.

    If a student does not understand that our best estimate for the age of this planet (and solar system) is 4.6 billion years, then their problem is more basic than biology. If they don’t understand basic atomic theory, then radiometric decay is a much harder sell.

    Therefore, I find it best to ease them into evolutionary concepts by first making sure they have some basics on the inner workings of the atom, the chemical nature of life, etc. We do a unit on the history of life on Earth, along with the basics of Earth science. Few students bristle at those topics unless they have been very well coached by someone who professes creation “science”. And I make sure we have our genetics unit well learned.

    Once we get to evolution I already have them. They say what anyone else does when they first learn what Charles Darwin (and many others) figured out. They think, duh, it’s so obvious. Why didn’t someone figure this out sooner.

    My advice in any science class, then, is NOT to lead with Darwin. Lead with the very ideas that gave Darwin room to think to begin with. Let them learn some physics, chemistry, and Earth science first. Teach them genetics first too. With those concepts under their belts it is almost impossible not to reach the same conclusions about life that Charles Darwin did.

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  20. 20. quizzical 8:52 pm 11/20/2012

    This article is more balanced than many I have seen on this subject. Same goes for most of the comments.

    I was a bit disappointed at the concept of “voting “ or “polling” to see what the students believed. But, then again, when there is no hard evidence for some hypothesis, I suppose that all that is left is voting.

    The reminder that evolution has nothing to do with the origin of life, is simply a desperate effort to backpedal. Why? Because everyone knows that subtle changes do occur in genomes from time to time. But this fact cannot be extrapolated to a “molecules to man” hypothesis which is what Richard Dawkins and others try to do.

    Until someone comes up with an experiment that repeatedly produces a living cell in a sterile test tube full of any sterile chemicals you can name, I prefer to believe that the original coded information found in all genomes was actually written by an intelligent author that the Bible identifies as Jesus Christ.

    The fact that this digital code is written in base 4 math and can be edited by accident or by intelligent investigators, in no way implies to me that it originally bubbled out of an ancient warm mud puddle by dumb luck.

    When any hypothesis needs “traction” a big red flag pops up in my mind. It never really matters how many or how few folks believe any given claim. It is only important that it can be replicated as real science requires. If not, it is simply someone’s unprovable notion. Check out perpetual motion, cold fusion or the alchemist’s efforts to cook up gold from cheaper ingredients.

    That is exactly where Darwin found himself with his “Origin of Species.” He just found the “traction“ that made his notion popular among atheistic folks. Actually, his idea of natural selection (it happens) has some merit, but he knew nothing about origins. He was not even trained as a scientist.

    So . . . WHY do educated folks seem to revere him so much?

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  21. 21. Mythusmage 9:24 pm 11/20/2012

    My suggestion?

    “Science is not here to please you, science is here to inform you.”

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  22. 22. Mythusmage 9:26 pm 11/20/2012

    For Quizzical (#19)

    According to whom is Man an unearthly lifeform, with no connection to our domain of life?

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  23. 23. Mythusmage 9:27 pm 11/20/2012

    Oops, #20, not #19.

    (That’ll teach me.”

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  24. 24. Torbjörn Larsson, OM 9:27 pm 11/20/2012

    I have to agree with the teachers that notes that you simply don’t introduce religion into a science class, and the commenters that notes that it is simply confused to claim that biological evolution describes the process from chemical evolution to biological evolution. I frankly don’t think Dawkins intended to include the evolution from non-life to life when he, correctly, noted that Darwin (and Wallace) solved how life evolves.

    The process from chemical evolution to biological evolution is a concern for astrobiology. And it is much less of a problem since we now know that the universe were originally inhabitable, hence we know that this process happened.

    Today we even know the pathway it took, since recently the thermodynamics of self-replicators were elucidated and it turned out that only RNA is suitable. Which nicely tests the observations of phylogenetics, observing early cells being based on RNA.

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  25. 25. Torbjörn Larsson, OM 9:45 pm 11/20/2012

    @ stanleyh:

    Present your evidence for “many evolutionary scientists”. Very few evolutionary scientists are against evolution by definition. =D

    Of course scientists bash “intelligent design”, it is simply abstracted religion.

    @ quizzical:

    Darwin is revered because he was a meticulous genius elucidating the process of biology, in the same way as Newton elucidated the process of gravity.

    Despite your claim Darwin was a trained scientist, which you can check in any encyclopedia. So was Wallace, which independently of Darwin elucidated the basic mechanisms, if not to the same immense breadth.

    And like we don’t fault Newton, or later Einstein, for predicting how mass came to be in their respective gravity theories, we don’t fault Darwin or Wallace for predicting how life came to be in their respective biology theories. Because in both cases it is irrelevant for the predictions out of the theories, which concerns how mass respectively life behaves.

    Newton and Darwin are seen as groundbreaking geniuses, meticulously and correctly establishing science areas where only haphazard observation, without the ability of correct prediction, was known before.

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  26. 26. timbo555 10:01 pm 11/20/2012

    Science is good at explaining how, but fails miserably at explaining why. I know how gravity works; I don’t know why it works the way it does. This is where faith begins…

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  27. 27. krisnelson 10:15 pm 11/20/2012

    Just to clarify for so many commentators, Professor Horgan is NOT teaching a “hard science” course, nor is he teaching a straight biology course. Instead, “[o]ne course is a freshman survey of the humanities and social sciences, and the other reviews the history of science and technology.”

    In other words, this is, I think, exactly the context in which “teaching the controversy” is likely to be an appropriate choice, depending on the rest of your syllabus. (It’s also a reason to teach Darwin himself and Darwinism, esp. in the history course.)

    I’m not an expert on the historiography of evolution, but you could choose to focus on the historical debates of the late 19th/early 20th century–sometimes giving students a little distance in time can help them approach the ideas in a less biased manner.

    For the humanities class, you could consider discussing/closely looking at something like one of the modern legal cases involving Intelligent Design (like the one from Pennsylvania?)–those bring up lots of good discussion issues, and place them in a larger social context.

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  28. 28. robert schmidt 10:21 pm 11/20/2012

    Here is what you say to your students, if you don’t understand the subject you will fail the exam. Science is a process it is not a popularity contest or a fashion that people can pick and chose what they like. You follow the process you get an answer and that is what you go with. Your students’ problem is not evolution theory. There problem is that they do not understand science, or logic. I would start teaching them that before tackling a subject as complex as evolution. What’s more, it is a interesting exercise to have your students tell you what they FEEL about evolution. But that is not science. Ask them to present their own arguments for or against. Teach them the difference between fallacy and logic, fact and fiction. Give them the opportunity to apply the scientific process to their own beliefs and see where they stand. Don’t give them answers, teach them science.

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  29. 29. germanicevich 10:41 pm 11/20/2012

    Y call it “Law of Evolution” and “Theory of God(s)” and left self-explanation do the rest.

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  30. 30. julianpenrod 1:29 am 11/21/2012

    In the end, actions taken in good faith and absolute well meaning can be seen as such no matter their nature, those who are not well meaning can act like butter wouldn’t melt in their mouth and it can be seen as just a pose. “Science” may seek to portray itself as hospitable by asking how to answer students who express a lack of belief in “evolution”, but, in fact, it only seeks to admitting a lack of faith in the theory! John Horgan asks what teachers should say to religious students who doubt evolution. The answer is, if you know, are absolutely, incontrovertibly sure, that “evolution” is true, you say, “You’re wrong.” Someone who acts honorably, in absolute certainty of the subject, they can say, “You’re wrong”, and come across as interested in the welfare of all. Those whoi don’t know for absolutely, utterly, completely, unquestionably, definitively certain can say, “You’re wrong”, and will come across as bullies and swindlers.
    This may cause this not to be printed, but, if someone asks how to approach such students, it is a tacit admission that they do not have such certainty of the subject that they can come across as legitimate when they say, “You’re wrong”, to those who doubt!
    And a point many fail to address in discussing the dispute between religion and “science” on “evolution”. In fact, it is the major, if not the sole, reason that religion refuses to accept “evolution”.
    That is, the development of the soul. The single real contradiction is that “evolution” talks only of physical, chemical changes. To embrace “evolution” as such, religion would have to accept that the right combining of chemicals will turn soulless matter into matter with a soul. Religion doesn’t really accept that God waited until only a certain form of creature came along to imbue it with soul, since God could do anything, make any creature have an advanced soul, and they see no reason for God to have waited. Too, they do not necessarily take to the idea of all matter having soul and only certain reactive combinations can make it realize it has soul and express it.
    In all their hair trigger viciousness toward religion, “science” devotees never saw this fact.
    For that matter, no religious leader ever made a move to elucidate this situation, so the religious institutions can’t be given a pass, either.

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  31. 31. theo52 1:57 am 11/21/2012

    I am also a teacher and I am concerned that Evolution is ofter taught more dogmatically than some religions.
    - The definition is often confusing and changeable
    - The evidence supporting Evolution is given great weight and emphasis where the problems with Macro evolution is either ignored or minimized.
    THIS IS POOR SCIENCE.
    The ethical thing to do is to apply the scientific method fully and teach ALL the evidence both for and against it.
    This way you ignore religious considerations completely, let the evidence speak for itself.

    In support of my assertion Consider a quotation from New Scientist magazine in an article “Survival of the fittest theory: Darwinism’s limits” 03 February 2010
    “Much of the vast neo-Darwinian literature is distressingly uncritical.
    The possibility that anything is seriously amiss with Darwin’s account of evolution is hardly considered.
    Such dissent as there is often relies on theistic premises which Darwinists rightly say have no place in the evaluation of scientific theories. So onlookers are left with the impression that there is little or nothing about Darwin’s theory to which a scientific naturalist could reasonably object.
    The methodological scepticism that characterises most areas of scientific discourse seems strikingly absent when Darwinism is the topic.”

    Link to this
  32. 32. Lost Martian 5:39 am 11/21/2012

    Why bother?
    Never saw a priest use his sermon to talk about positively about evolution/Darwins
    Why should a science teacher allow this garbage in the classroom?

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  33. 33. kevinhunter 8:21 am 11/21/2012

    … To be clear… kids don’t pick their religion, authorities pick it for them :-) …. maybe religion is something that should only be practiced when you are of age (18)…

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  34. 34. Steve D 9:13 am 11/21/2012

    The policy I came up with was this:

    Nobody died and made me chief of the Thought Police. I don’t have a right to tell you what to believe. But I do have a right to expect that you can describe evolution correctly and give an accurate accounting for why scientists consider it true.

    For those who want a Biblical answer, this: Romans 13:1 “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” When it comes to describing how the Earth works, science, not religion, is the authority established by God.

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  35. 35. DAD 20132 9:55 am 11/21/2012

    I’m not saying it’s (evolution) is not fact but it seems to me if people were confident in evolution it would be the laws of evolution not still a theory.
    Science and religion are not opposed science is just too young to understand. I heard this quote somewhere and I believe it will eventually be a truism

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  36. 36. namikozcan 11:07 am 11/21/2012

    Answer to the Teacher’s question from a different perspective “Quran”

    (Quran is the holy book of Muslims and according to Quran, the definition of Muslims are the believers of God through all of his books including Bible and the Book of Jews.)

    Just a few phrases from Quran :
    - Creation is being expanded.
    - You are created from single living thing.
    - You are created from dry mud, and variable wet slurry.
    - Men is crated from a base material of mud.
    - Men is created from mud than you became a specie called human.
    - Creation of men started from mud.
    - Men is created from a mixture. It transforms. At the end it became a creature which can hear and see.

    and last:
    - It took a long long time to be a able to identify a creature as man.

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  37. 37. M Tucker 1:17 pm 11/21/2012

    Ah, the old law / theory question, only brought up by folks who know nothing about the history of science. Kepler’s laws, Newton’s laws, Boyles law, then the special theory of relativity, the general theory of relativity, quantum theory, and don’t forget the Bohr model of the atom. Do those names mean that the laws are more certain than the theories? Does the name model mean we have no evidence that it is true? Does it mean that Newton’s law of gravity has more foundational evidence than Einstein’s general theory of relativity? Well my first response is to say, “Get thee to a college level physics class.” But if you think that a law is better founded than a theory then you know very little about science, even less than my limited knowledge. I would ask you, does Newton’s law of gravity correctly describe the path that Mercury takes around the sun or does Einstein’s theory of general relativity? If you are truly interested in science you would study science. If you are more interested in just putting up lame comments or suggesting that the science of evolution has a weak foundation then please don’t pretend to have actually studied science.

    As for Dawkins, he should stick to science, he exposes his ignorance every time he criticizes religion.

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  38. 38. vulpes08003 1:58 pm 11/21/2012

    Much to luke-warm to attempt to enlighten those who are brain-washed with their religion. An important point he does not mention is that science requires proof religion needs none. It is a different way to look at the world. One gave rise to the technological societies we have today. The other a blue print for behavior that the adherents follow

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  39. 39. Ilovethisstuff 2:46 pm 11/21/2012

    This is where religion has muddied the waters of scientific learning by inserting itself as some kind legitimate counter argument to Science. If you replace the word “Religion” with something such as “Astrology” or a belief in a flat Earth would we waste even a minute of precious classroom time on a discussion of this sort? The answer is of course we wouldn’t, yet there is as much evidence for the validity of flat Earth theory as there is for the wild claims made by religion. The only reason anyone sees a need is simply numbers. More people believe in religious hogwash thereby making it seem like there is some legitimate debate when there is none.

    If you choose to believe the earth is 6000 years old or that all animals on Earth were taken into an ark then redistributed just as they would be if Evolution were correct, that is your right, just don’t expect rational people who base their beliefs on evidence to waste their time debating it with you. I would no sooner waste classroom time debating someone about religion as I would someone about a magical dragon that lives at the center of the sun as neither offer any evidence that they are indeed true. Religion is dying, the concern I have is how many lives it’s going to try and take with it when it goes.

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  40. 40. Martin Wirth 3:10 pm 11/21/2012

    Whether students are religious or not, consider a simple approach to let the truth reach them. First, there are facts. These are observations, evidence, and data. Secondly, there are priorities. Some of us go all in on religion. Others would rather not be controlled by anyone whether they are convincingly holy or not. Lastly, there are opinions which are always governed by priorities but not necessarily by facts.

    Science is founded on facts. Unless God shows up and lets the good doctor have a look, we can argue for millennia over opinions. Wanting for any sufficient factual basis or even an opinion that could ultimately be tested, such an argument is likely to be neither productive nor amenable to resolution. God is a personal feeling, for some, transcending all material existence. How is anybody supposed to measure that?

    As such, those of us versed in science soon realize that science cannot possibly explain everything because we cannot possibly have all the facts. So, there’s plenty of mystery. The nice thing about a mystery is that we don’t have enough facts to solve it, not yet anyway.

    That’s what makes science worthwhile and fun.

    The Theory of Evolution is more than just a biological law of the physical universe. Evolution is a profound insight into all dynamical systems that reproduce a certain set of results. While those results may be almost incomprehensibly complex, we can observe and measure enough to come to the same conclusion as Darwin. So, the Theory of Evolution continues to be verified in laboratories, the environment, in computed models, and in us every day. Evolution is more than merely descriptive, it’s predictive.

    Evolution is simple to understand. Any entity in a system that enables that entity to reproduce itself will contain more of those entities. It isn’t strictly about fitness. If the system enables unfit entities to reproduce then you will see their numbers grow over time.

    In our experience, biological entities do the most reproducing but this is not necessary. If we develop artificial entities that can reproduce then their existence or non-existence will be predicted by the Theory of Evolution. And it gets better.

    Never allow a student to assume that reproducing entities in a dynamical system operate in isolation from other reproducing entities. All dynamical entities require energy to survive and reproduce. If they themselves cannot acquire this energy directly, then their survival and reproductive capacities are constrained by those of other entities. Now you have an ecosystem where different species of entities co-evolve.

    This knowledge is vital to our continuing survival as one of those species.

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  41. 41. John Michael 3:15 pm 11/21/2012

    I majored in biochemistry in college and I have taught some, but only as a substitute teacher. I certainly do not have your experience as a teacher, but I can relate to your frustration.

    I think as a teacher, you have an absolute DUTY to prod students to question their beliefs! This can be done in a respectful way and more importantly in a fair and balanced way. All you are doing is asking them to think, to question, and to be curious about any given subject matter.

    Personally, I think it is more important that students understand that there are different opinions about a subject, such as evolution, and that they know what there are – as opposed to whether there is any “absolute truth” to anything, despite overwhelming scientific evidence. As the years go by, your students may come to different conclusions (or not), but at a minimum – they will have knowledge about the possibilities out there. No doubt, there are people who have closed their minds off to certain ideas. That, I think, is unfortunate… but it may ultimately bring them some piece of mind or happiness.

    A good example is our current understanding of the universe. Or is it “multi-verses”now? Physicists generally believe there was a “big bang” some 14 + billion years ago and our universe is now expanding at a rate that is accelerating. Now how silly is that? Our universe is expanding? Into what? Non-universe? Clearly we don’t have a very clear understanding of what our universe is or is not. And it’s doubtful that we will ever have any real answers or accepted “truth.”

    So I’d tell your students it’s okay that we don’t have the answers sometimes. And that it is important to question everything. For students that have a strong belief in faith, creationism, God… that’s all okay! BUT, they still need to know what others have discovered and be aware of what science has to offer in terms of answers to some questions.

    The only wrong answer is that someone isn’t entitled to their own opinion. Unless it causes harm or leads to hurting someone else.

    I have a feeling you are already an outstanding teacher and any student that has you is very lucky. Keep prodding!

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  42. 42. truecreation_dot_info 3:30 pm 11/21/2012

    There are numerous resources aimed at explaining biological evolution (and other sciences related to natural history) to a Christian or otherwise religious audience who may have false preconceptions about the sciences or who may not have been previously open to anything other than a strict literal interpretation of Scripture.

    These resources are 100% in line with the current understanding of the theory of evolution, the age of the Earth, and related topics, and are in agreement with the National Academy of Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science regarding these topics:

    BioLogos Foundation (http://biologos.org)
    The American Scientific Affiliation (http://asa3.org)
    TheBibleAndScience (http://bibleandscience.com)
    TrueCreation (http://truecreation.info, my own site)

    However, they all reference passages in the Bible in order to make their point about how to reconcile science and Scripture. My question is, since these organizations or resources even mention the Bible, would a teacher using them in a public school setting be in violation of the Establishment Clause? Or would they be allowed under the Free Exercise Clause?

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  43. 43. judynz 3:46 pm 11/21/2012

    Have you ever considered that god is merely a built in vibration of Harmony. GO(O)D. Then there are opposites to all. In the beginning there was the WORD, Where was the word? There was only INTENT, which vibrated from the body & touched, causing action & reaction. Each of us a the CAUSATION of all about us because we become involved. We are this creator.I see all the arguments as ignorance, splitting hairs. The `free will’ is merely our choice in directing this energy. Within mans growth, evolvement we have created many more choices to confuse ourself & with these many more combinations of emotion which we give strength to.

    It all comes back to how much personal responsibility are we prepared to accept for all in our life & what we create.

    Everything about nature is `SIMPLICITY’ it only becomes complicated when we try to explain. We chase ourself around in circles & only when we let go do we get the answers or solutions. (We created a new vibratory field)& the good happens.
    WHO created man in Gods image? a benevolent figure or did we decide that god is an image of our human form because it makes us feel safer to latch onto, become a dependant instead of the creator we are.

    Read Isaiah,45. (the interpretation of men) I AM THE LORD (Law) there is none beside me etc. Plus many more I>E> Imake the sun shine on the evil as well as the good.
    The LAW does’nt judge only humans do.

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  44. 44. Spin-oza 5:02 pm 11/21/2012

    SIMPLE: IF they wish to learn about the world as it is versus the way some ignorant Late Iron age jewish desert tribes imagined it to be… in other words, learn The True Nature of Reality (to our very best understanding), then they need to… ahem, LISTEN UP!

    THE problem of course is they have been indoctrinated, literally from birth in religious mythos and musings… and now their identies have, like their parents, become invested and entwined in the bogus sky-god/god-man stories… The Tales of the Supernatural.

    STUDENTS must not be coddled on these points:
    1. Evolution is as factual…as real… as ANY scientific principle… General relativity… electromagnetic… QM… whatever, and the proverbial bedrock of all the biological sciences… and fitting into geology, archeology… and others.
    2. Their particular religious belief is just one of myriad relgious constructs conceived by humans through the millennia, when an the underlying structure of Nature was only explanable by folklore, superstition and mythic gods of every description.

    FINALLY, they are indeed lucky to have a “ticket to ride” out of that fog of misunderstanding. It’s The Greatest Show On Earth (tip o’ the hat to Richard Dawkins)… and perhaps the most elegant of all “theories” because it completely explains all life on this planet.
    Adam n’ his rib… garden o’ eden… talkin’ snake… absurd global flood n’ ark o’ Noah… creation in 6 days in an impossible sequence – 6000 year old planet… rainbows magically appearing after all physical laws in play… virgin birth… dead-men walkin’… is laughable by comparison, and has absolutely no explanatory power nor a shred o’ evidence.
    IF someone proposed a biblical hypothesis today for all the fauna and flora we have identified, including microscopic… as well as extinct, they would be institutionalized, pronto!

    NONE of the physical evidence supports any other than an evolutionary conclusion… and with the crisp forensics of genetics, it’s a proverbial slam-dunk.

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  45. 45. Spin-oza 5:34 pm 11/21/2012

    I JUST READ some of the other comments above… some tangential metaphysical musings (judynz)… one spot-on (ilovethisstuff)… one muddled in, um… mud and Exhibit A for murky, magical thinking (namikozcan)… and one utterly sophistical (DAD 20132).

    THIS really isn’t a tough question… it’s not even a question at all. ONE teaches science in the classroom… not gibberish. IF a someone is charged with the responsiblity of ENLIGHTENING students and does not embrace the hard-won knowledge of many, many dedicated men and women of centuries of endeavor, then that person is a fraud.

    Humans persuing “the truth” via the dialog of science and reason have made whatever gains humanity wishes to claim for itself… and religious pontifications had absolutely no role to play.
    We stand on the shoulders of those who dared to think… to try and solve in some way, big or small, the mysteries of life… of the Universe. WE OWE them, not to mention the children in the classrooms, our very best and most enthusiastic portrayal of the Grandeur of Nature… and it’s underlying precepts.

    WE DO KNOW ONE THING: everything… evolves:)

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  46. 46. M Tucker 6:08 pm 11/21/2012

    Should you think that young earth creationism is limited to the young, the uneducated and the unempowered…

    Marco Rubio, University of Florida grad, graduate of University of Miami Law School, US Senator, and 2016 Republican hopeful for President, recent interview in GQ magazine:

    GQ: How old do you think the Earth is?

    Marco Rubio: I’m not a scientist, man. I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that’s a dispute amongst theologians and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States. I think the age of the universe has zero to do with how our economy is going to grow. I’m not a scientist. I don’t think I’m qualified to answer a question like that. At the end of the day, I think there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all. I think parents should be able to teach their kids what their faith says, what science says. Whether the Earth was created in 7 days, or 7 actual eras, I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to answer that. It’s one of the great mysteries.

    Yeah, he’s the product of US higher education. And we wonder why our young students perform poorly on science and math exams…it’s not required to succeed in the US, that’s why!

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  47. 47. bucketofsquid 6:12 pm 11/21/2012

    Having studied several versions of the Bible (yes versions! every major denomination writes their own version), I have found none of them that address gravity. I would be surprised if these same evolution doubters have a religious objection to gravity. None of the 26 major versions of Genesis specify how the world was made or what the structure of atoms is.

    Even more interesting is that the oldest versions radically predate the Hebrew culture and are generally much smaller in scale. Noah’s valley flooded, not the whole world. The garden of Eden was a specific region. Adam (originally Adapa) and Lilith and Eve were the first people and NOT the first humans. Note that many primitive cultures viewed other humans as not being people. Examples include many remote tribes and other primitives such as Romans, The British Empire and Nazis. Civilized people recognize that all humans are people. Cain’s wife was from humans not related to Adam and Eve. People that choose to make up new fantasies to suit their personality have a long history of creating new religions.

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  48. 48. PeterT 6:14 pm 11/21/2012

    It’s very strange that people say they believe the Biblical version of creation.

    Have they ever bothered to READ the Bible?

    Chapter 1 of Genesis makes it very clear that Adam and Eve were created on the sixth day. Chapter 2 says Adam was created on the first day and Eve (to keep her in her place) was created, almost as an afterthough, on the sixth day!

    Inerrant???

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  49. 49. M Tucker 6:20 pm 11/21/2012

    Oh, Rubio is also a member of the Senate Science Committee. But you could be a thumb sucking knuckle dragger and the Senate would put you on the science committee.

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  50. 50. Bill_Crofut 6:48 pm 11/21/2012

    Dr. Horgan,

    Re: “The theory of evolution by natural selection is arguably the single most profound insight into reality that humanity has ever achieved, and it is supported by overwhelming evidence–mountains of evidence!–from the ever-expanding fossil record to DNA analyses of living species.”

    Even the field of biology has its dissenters; for example, natural selection:

    “The view that natural selection, leading to the survival of the fittest, in populations of individuals of varying characteristics and competing amongst themselves, has produced in the course of geological time gradual transformations leading from a simple primitive organism to the highest forms of life, without the intervention of any directive agency or force, is thus the essence of the Darwinian position….That natural selection directs the course of evolution Darwin could not prove by an appeal to facts.”

    [Prof. W. R. Thompson. 1956. Introduction. In: Charles Darwin. Origin of Species. Everyman Library No. 811. London: J. M. Dent and Sons. Reprinted with permission. Evolution Protest Movement. 1967. NEW CHALLENGING ‘INTRODUCTION' TO THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES. Selsey, Sussex: Selsey Press Ltd., pp. 6, 7]

    and the fossil record:

    “The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology….Darwin’s argument still persists as the favored escape of most paleontologists from the embarrassment of a record that seems to show so little of evolution. In exposing its cultural and methodological roots, I wish in no way to impugn the potential validity of gradualism (for all general views have similar roots). I wish only to point out that it was never “seen” in the rocks.
    Paleontologists have paid an exorbitant price for Darwin’s argument. We fancy ourselves as the only true students of life’s history, yet to preserve our favored account of evolution by natural selection we view our data as so bad that we never see the very process we profess to study.”

    [Prof. Stephen Jay Gould. 1977. Evolution's Erratic Pace. NATURAL HISTORY, May, p. 14]

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  51. 51. LouisianaCreoleBlackWoman 7:10 pm 11/21/2012

    “Whenever fundamentalist do their history and theology homework, they will explore the numerous books from which the “Bible” was selected and not just fan through the Concordance. After that, they will learn that the Bible was written for a child. With that perspective they will come to cease and desist installing it into 21st century scientific discoveries as if they have met with betrayal. We have to continue to VOTE for education not incarceration. So much has been deleted from the educational process. We have very few “A” schools in this country now. The Bible is the truth as told to children not the story of the world as told to a 70 year old biologist, geologist, or aeronautical engineer.”
    - Veronica German

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  52. 52. rock johny 10:51 pm 11/21/2012

    Godless Evolutionists high-jacked Darwin’s observations for their own agenda. Even Darwin believed in God…but had trouble with religions – understandable! Why is it so hard for people to understand that the “creator’s” creative works evolved over time. Blind evolution takes blind faith to believe in. Dawkins is sucking on his own Kool-Aid teets.

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  53. 53. my.logical.argument 11:05 pm 11/21/2012

    Article mentioned:
    One student said “Each individual is entitled to his or her own religious beliefs… Authority figures teaching America’s youth should not be permitted to say certain things such as any religion being simply ‘wrong’ due to a certain scientific explanation.”

    I said (as if I were the teacher speaks to the religious student):
    You are entitle to your religious beliefs, but nobody are entitle to his/her own facts. Facts is facts. Science is based on facts. The rational ones.

    Now, let’s see what religion are you talking about. Let’s start from the very beginning.

    How does your God create the world? I only learn about Christianity. So let’s discuss based on what I know.

    Here it is, The facts that is shown according to the bible as to related to the creation of the universe in the book of genesis, is a big mistake. Why? The order are reversed.

    God create the day and night at the 1st day, before the stars at the 5th day. It doesn’t make sense. The day and night comes from the sunshine.

    By the way, that was just one of the many irrational things in the bible.

    So, if something that you define so perfect, but doesn’t make sense in many aspects. I can conclude that your religion is perfectly irrational.

    I can only teach things that scientifically proven. If I cannot present the facts, then I don’t mind to admit that I don’t know. And that I believe that what I do is humble enough VS the people with faith that don’t have facts but arrogantly tell other people that they know everything and worse attacking other people who questions their faith.

    Shall we continue?

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  54. 54. Laird Wilcox 2:10 am 11/22/2012

    There are a number of ways to deal with this issue, all of them polite and designed to counter charges of religious harassment. For progressive leftist faculty this may be a bit of a burden, however you can always have your fantasies of what you wish you could have said instead.

    You may wish you could scream at them and call them superstitious fascist reactionaries who obviously hate women and other sacralized victim groups, who are unable and unwilling to reason, have low IQs (except that you don’t believe in IQs any more than you believe in god), and hiss them out of the classroom. Anyone who doesn’t believe in evolution (except for race and gender) is an idiot. This would be in keeping with progressive notions of tolerance. Many of your students would applaud you but, unfortunately, there is another kind of tolerance you need to show in public. There are such things as lawyers.

    Alternatively, you could genuinely respect their views but what makes this difficult to stomach that it puts them on the same level with yourself and other members of the progressive tribe. When your views and the views of other tribal members are so terribly correct how do we tolerate people who disbelieve in our disbelief? They’re denying science, reason and our narcissistic image of people like “us” as they only legitimate agents of wisdom. To have the inner emotional security to accept that another human being may disagree over an idea that defines who you are and still remain human is so very hard.

    Here’s a hint from the witchcraft craze in medieval Europe:

    It is justifiable to burn witches because they are so obviously wrong, their error might spread to others and if enough people accept this error it will challenge the social fabric we have so carefully woven and all of the wonderful ideological structure we have constructed will come tumbling down. There is more at stake here than any person’s abstract rights: rather, it is our vision of a utopian society itself, ever so vulnerable that countervailing views must be suppressed. Never argue with witches, just burn them and do it for all to see what happens to heretics, doubters and skeptics.

    This is actually a common collectivist argument and is a part of progressive campaigns to root out incipient conservatives, reactionaries and fascists (aren’t they really all the same?) on the campus, in the media and elsewhere. Danger comes in many forms. You start by being a believing Christian and God (oops) knows what can happen next.

    For the record, I’m not religious and I think that religions are man-made devices to explain what we don’t understand. On the other hand, I could be wrong. So could you.

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  55. 55. atique 2:18 am 11/22/2012

    It would be more appropriate if you teach the things which are scientifically proven and call it science. Evolution is a process taking place every where in the universe even religious scriptures agree to it (for example Quran says that we created human being in stages and from water was the beginning of creation). As a science researchers I agree that evolution take place at chemical and biological level but the question of evolution of human from Monkeys is not yet a proven science. It wont be fair to call it a science and teach it at school level.
    It is again unfair to say that evolution is not there in the nature. Everything came into being through the process of evolution only and religion and scripture (The Holy Quran) do support it. Quran no where describes that the first human was created. It says the first human was created out of soil and water in stages.
    So actually there is no contradiction between religion and science if you teach only established sciences. Darwins theory (through monkeys) is one of the possible pathway of evolution which is not yet confirmed scientifically. There could be several other possible pathways for the evolution of human being from the first single cell. For each of the species there could be an independent evolution pathway from that first cell.

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  56. 56. atique 2:42 am 11/22/2012

    Religious scriptures are not meant for the details on the laws of physical world. Since these are the words coming from the Creator of this physical world you will see some comments or mentions on these issues. Rather, scriptures are for the social reforms. They should be taken in that context and not to find the laws of gravity in it.

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  57. 57. Lenedwin 3:06 am 11/22/2012

    If you care to read all of ‘Origin of the Species’ you will soon realize that Darwin himself had serious doubts about its validity. I was brought up to think Evolution was proven and that it was the only way life on this planet came about. I’m not religious in the formal definition so I have no agenda there,but having thought long about the subject have come to the conclusion that evolution as a sort of roulette game makes no logical sense what-so-ever. It would take pages to present my argument; however I will say that biologists agree that the number of permutations and combinations required to cause atoms to organize themselves into DNA by shear chance are infinite and just could not have happened. So we are forced to the conclusion that there must be a driving force (lets call it ‘X’ ) that creates order out of chaos and so it must have a preconceived idea of what it wants to do. (Just as Man can create an automobile out of chaos by preconceiving it). It takes thought and effort to do this so if blind chance is not the method then preconceived Intelligent Design must be.
    For instance the eyeball is a miracle of engineering and it’s very hard to imagine what it would look like at some point halfway in its ‘evolution’ (Darwin had trouble with this). No semi-developed eyeball has ever turned up in the fossil record. Hundreds of similar arguments could be made and the biologist couldn’t rebut any of them. Therefore I believe life came about on this planet by a vastly more complicated method than currently assumed. ‘Evolution’ may be a part of it but only a very small part.

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  58. 58. jamsaqi 3:46 am 11/22/2012

    You may read what Dan Dennett has to say about students to be taught facts of all religions side by side with their regular science and mathematics and other subjects because religions are a natural phenomena which have also evolved as part of cultures, as do languages. The important point is that Truth evaluation has been part of our surviving nature since billions of years, and so it is today. Students should be enabled to choose what is true, and reject what is false, through a process of informed choice. There is no doubt that today’s science, having no dearth of truthful propositions, will come out as winner for all students who want to view things in an honest fashion.

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  59. 59. Centaurus-A 4:15 am 11/22/2012

    Spin-oza your handle is just the opposite of that great philosopher and what he believed. You cannot even be in his presence or in the same room with him. You have a very simplistic understanding of evolution that bears no resemblance to its reality. It is not a slam dunk by any stretch. If you have kept up with the work of paleontologists you would know this. The fossil record is very incomplete and lacking in many details. For instance in the field I have collected in, and am more familiar with–the numerous trilobite species that have been found and in some cases used as index fossils– experts in the field cannot come to a consensus even in how the different families and genera are related. The current “bible” that all specialists are waiting for ‘The Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology, Part O v. 2′ is delayed considerably because the organization of the families is now being put together. The fact is, we don’t even have a clear idea how one genera evolved into another. So if we are relying on fossils that are as numerous as trilobites the answer for evolutionary development is unknown, let alone the fossilized remains of many other animals less numerous in the fossil record. We assume that we will work it out and Darwin’s theory is a guiding thesis, but in the details there are many issues yet to be resolved on a fundamental level–not minor issues. His theory is at best an ad hoc working outline, nothing approaching the General Theory of Relativity in Physics or Quantum Mechanics.

    As for the article it is the best I’ve seen on the subject of introducing the subject of Evolution to students. Most students are not atheists but come from a Judeo-Christian background. This is a fact, and it does not at all help or have wishful thinking that this isn’t true. To educate you have to reach out first. And once in the door you can introduce your ideas.

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  60. 60. Achilleus30 7:29 am 11/22/2012

    You wrote:

    “Some of these critics have suggested that natural selection, as conventionally understood, must be supplemented by other processes, such as “self-organization” of simple chemical and biological systems.
    But so far none of these alternatives has gained much traction.”

    Sure that’s true, none of these ideas have gained enough traction in the minds of people who have neither read about these ideas recently, nor care about them, and perhaps, in the minds of those who are incapable of understanding things like thermodynamics, and chemistry.

    Try watching the video detailing the research of Nobel Laureate Jack Szostak, and tell me his ideas don’t have “traction” whatever that means.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6QYDdgP9eg&playnext=1&list=PL1E4ADF9A25E91259&feature=results_video

    Or try reading “RNA evolution and the origins of life” in Nature volume 338 1989 by Gerald F. Joyce. It shows how adenine, and guanine are formed from nothing more than HCN and some activation energy in the form of electricity. It also shows how from nothing more than Glyceraldehyde and electricity, one gets the backbone sugar of DNA, i.e. ribose, as well as glucose, and fructose, and a host of other sugars. Do those sound biologically relevant? Does it mean anything to my readers that these molecules, ubiquitous in life, are formed from some of the simplest chemical reactions one can think of?

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  61. 61. Na g n o s t ic 9:44 am 11/22/2012

    What should teachers say to religious students who doubt evolution? Teachers should say whatever it is they usually say to every student.

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  62. 62. rich.palmer 10:22 am 11/22/2012

    I taught science to high schoolers for 13 years, and I only had a few students that were openly resistant to the idea of evolution. Mostly they wanted to play with their phones. I actually enjoyed having students that were willing to debate the evidence of evolution. It certainly made the discussions more fun in that I had students seriously engaged in a debate that they thought was worth fighting for. I never openly denied creationism, but I gave them a well thought out and comprehensive argument of scientific evidence that supports the evolution of life.

    Fossil evidence, molecular evidence, evidence of through artificial selection, I even had genetically engineered fish in a classroom tank. I may never change the minds of a rabid creationist, but at least I exposed them the argument and did just let them sit in an echo chamber of agreeing voices. The other students in the class had an opportunity to see how and participate in an evidence-based debate. No one is loses in that senario. I will say that this was occurring in a North-East US city, so I was not getting a lot of pressure one-way or the other.

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  63. 63. Spin-oza 11:18 am 11/22/2012

    Hmmm… Centaurus-A seems mired in the details among ubiquitous marine Paleozoic arthropods (Trilobites)… literally missing the forest… the broad grand sweep of evolution that explains all fauna and flora.
    There is nothing about the the Trilobite fossil record… and recall, that would be a study of hundreds of million of years ago… and will lack a bit of…ahem, “precision”… that goes against evolution. In fact these critters were so successful in their habititat (until extinction) that their global distribution (and fossil remains) were critical to piecing together continental drift (tectonics) and dating of strata.
    IF Centaurus-A has a better explanation for how life has “changed” into myriad forms over billions of years, by all means, publish it. Otherwise, as i stated, evolution is The Bedrock of all the biological sciences, and the genetic evidence does indeed make it a Slam-Dunk.
    Among our best scientists… and they are the ones that matter… it’s a proverbial “done deal”. There are NO alternative theories… and certainly not any stemming from religious musings, which is the topic here dopey.
    Now… let’s all go find some Horseshoe Crabs and ask ‘em what they think… LOL. Deus sive Natura, bucko.

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  64. 64. asgspifs 12:50 pm 11/22/2012

    Quite disturbing what some students said. At such a young age, likely a strong reflection of their parents’ beliefs.

    John, I take issue with one thing you said:
    “… evolutionary theory does not explain why life emerged on Earth more than 3 billion years ago, or whether life was highly probable, even inevitable, or a once in a universe fluke. The theory doesn’t explain why life, after remaining single-celled for more than 2 billion years, suddenly spawned multi-cellular organisms, including one exceedingly strange mammal capable of pondering its own origins.”

    This fallacious critique of evolution is a classic straw man mischaracterization of what evolution is. Does it reflect a lack of understanding? Evolutionary theory does not explain why life emerged on Earth for the same reason it doesn’t explain the origin of the universe or of gravity – it’s not SUPPOSED to, nor does it claim to. Evolution is about the origin of species, not life. Evolution starts after life has already begun. There are plenty of other good scientific theories about the chemical origins of life (see abiogensis). Evolution has nothing to say about whether life was probable, improbable, or inevitable – nor does it claim to, or need to.

    We do NOT know that life remained single-celled for >2 billion years. In fact, after the appearance of single-celled life forms about 3.5 billion years ago, there were eukaryotes by about 2 billion years ago, and complex multi-cellular life forms by about 1 billion years ago.

    You also misuse the term “suddenly” as if it means the same thing on a geologic time scale as it does on a human time scale. It doesn’t. You also lump humans among the same multi-cellular life forms that you claim “suddenly” appeared after 2 billion years of stagnation as single-celled life. This is a much better example of something that is egregiously wrong.

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  65. 65. joenn 1:44 pm 11/22/2012

    What do you say to someone like me who found God in the scientific evidence itself? From what I have seen and read it seems that those that say that “There is no evidence for the existence of God in Science!” should revise that statement to “There is no evidence – which I am willing to except – for the existence of God in Science!”
    Scientists and Science professors admit that evolution cannot be proven, but the preponderance of the evidence is what convinces them that evolution is the “Truth”. Chaos theory cannot adequately explain the organized order of the machinery of life. With human engineering, the smaller something is made the more sophisticated the technology needed to make it. A wooden clock can be made with simple hand tools. A digital watch requires greater technological fabrication to make. Nano technology requires still greater fabrication tech. In life processes in the cell there are molecular machines. Machines made of molecules fabricated by other machines made of molecular parts put together and fabricated into a self-regulated very dynamic factory which is the living cell. Then the cell does something even more amazing. Using the complex machinery of molecular machines it makes a copy of itself with all the molecular machines, regulating systems, and all. No modern human technology has been able to recreate from scratch something even close to that.
    This is just a sand grain on a mountain of evidence FOR the existence of God. Scientific evidence is just a part of that mountain. But when you focus on just that part you find that people will reject some scientific evidence not because the science is wrong but simply because it leads to conclusion that there must be a God to account for it. That is intellectually dishonest. The belief in evolution is a religion. It is just as much a religion as belief in God is. It tries to answer the same questions that belief in God does. And it requires just as blind a faith as evolutionist claim that religion requires. (Note: when they describe the evidence for evolution they cannot say the evidence “proves” evolution. All they can say is that the evidence only “suggests” the “possibility” that it “could” lead to that “conclusion”. And yet when it comes to the existence of God, there is no possibility at all. Really? Not even a little? If they aren’t sure of their evidence for evolution – remember their wording – how can they be so sure about there not being a God?
    Yes I believe in Science. I do not reject any parts of it that are “inconvenient”. It is science that led me to God before I looked into the Bible. I can’t understand why people seem to think that there has to be a war of ideology between Science and religion. Science and belief in God complement each other, support each other, enhance each other. There is no conflict between them. The Best scientists in history believed in God, so what’s the problem?

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  66. 66. Lenedwin 2:31 pm 11/22/2012

    Further to my comments of yesterday. The argument that life as we know it has billions of years of development behind it is not strictly true. Over the last several hundred million years there has been at least 5 major catastrophic events that wiped out most living things. The last,65 million years ago, wiped out the dinosaurs and 99% of the rest of life. Then about 12 million years after this the fossil record started to contain modern creatures. Very strange. So as far as we are concerned ‘evolution’ had only about 50 million years to do its stuff. Would that be enough time to produce everything from the worm to the whale by ‘natural selection’? I personally don’t think so.

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  67. 67. bongobimbo 9:43 pm 11/22/2012

    One of you wrote that evolution and religion are entirely incompatible, but I don’t agree. I couldn’t believe in six-day God that did NOT choose evolution as the likeliest way to gradually proliferate new kinds of life, which may be going on in all galaxies of the universe. I also believe that God itself is evolving and learning from our achievements and mistakes.
    I’m drawn to Alfred North Whitehead’s and Charles Hartshorne’s Process Theology, which is also known as Evolutionary Panentheism. So are others who consider life to be complex and wonderful, including many of my own Unitarian Universalist co-religionists who’ve become world-renowned scientists, poets and philosophers.
    If Britannica can be trusted, process theology long ago replaced Deism as the preferred religious paradigm among researchers, theorists and philosophers who prefer having a religious dimension to our lives.

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  68. 68. jafrates 1:31 pm 11/23/2012

    @Lenedwin: “The last,65 million years ago, wiped out the dinosaurs and 99% of the rest of life.”

    You’re incorrect. The K-T extinction event (the mass extinction to which you refer) wiped out most dinosaurs, but the precursors to birds survived as did most sharks, rays, and fish. Turtles, crocodilians, lizards, snakes insects, and amphibians also did well. Most importantly to us, mammals survived the event as they were basically small critters who found shelter easily and didn’t have large dietary requirements.

    Life didn’t start over at that time, which wasn’t even close to the largest mass extinction (that was the P-T extinction). Your ideas about how fast life must have evolved are false.

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  69. 69. Bird/tree/dinosaur/etc. geek 2:30 pm 11/23/2012

    OK. Before I comment on the blatant stupidity of the penrod, Bill_Crofut (my arch-nemesis!), theo52, et cetera, let me just say that I am an agnostic and that I have seen direct evidence that proves outright that creationism is hookum (to use a PT Barnum term).

    Now, quoting Billy (again, my irrational arch-nemesis):
    “”"Dr. Horgan,

    Re: “The theory of evolution by natural selection is arguably the single most profound insight into reality that humanity has ever achieved, and it is supported by overwhelming evidence–mountains of evidence!–from the ever-expanding fossil record to DNA analyses of living species.”
    Even the field of biology has its dissenters; for example, natural selection:
    “The view that natural selection, leading to the survival of the fittest, in populations of individuals of varying characteristics and competing amongst themselves, has produced in the course of geological time gradual transformations leading from a simple primitive organism to the highest forms of life, without the intervention of any directive agency or force, is thus the essence of the Darwinian position….That natural selection directs the course of evolution Darwin could not prove by an appeal to facts.”
    [Prof. W. R. Thompson. 1956. Introduction. In: Charles Darwin. Origin of Species. Everyman Library No. 811. London: J. M. Dent and Sons. Reprinted with permission. Evolution Protest Movement. 1967. NEW CHALLENGING ‘INTRODUCTION' TO THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES. Selsey, Sussex: Selsey Press Ltd., pp. 6, 7]“”"

    That’s called quote mining (using the words of someone who disagrees with you out of context). It is the direct opposite of science.

    “”"and the fossil record:
    “The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology….Darwin’s argument still persists as the favored escape of most paleontologists from the embarrassment of a record that seems to show so little of evolution. In exposing its cultural and methodological roots, I wish in no way to impugn the potential validity of gradualism (for all general views have similar roots). I wish only to point out that it was never “seen” in the rocks.
    Paleontologists have paid an exorbitant price for Darwin’s argument. We fancy ourselves as the only true students of life’s history, yet to preserve our favored account of evolution by natural selection we view our data as so bad that we never see the very process we profess to study.”
    [Prof. Stephen Jay Gould. 1977. Evolution's Erratic Pace. NATURAL HISTORY, May, p. 14]“”"

    Quote mining again. Gould was pointing out the hypothesis (now theory) of punctuated equilibrium (the method by which bats evoled, for example). Also, the fossil record is about ten times as complete now as it was in 1977. Furthermore, you are convincing no one with your baseless fringe views. Nobody (besides you) actually believes that the sun goes around the earth.

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  70. 70. Lenedwin 5:45 pm 11/23/2012

    To jafrates.
    These arr the facts.
    The K-T mass extinction obliterated the dinosaurs , pterosaurs, plesiosaurs, mosasaurs, ammonites, some families of birds and marsupial mammals, over half the plankton groups, many families of teleost (bony) fishes, bivalves, snails, sponges, sea urchins and others.

    This catastrophe eventually led to the Age of Mammals.

    During the K-T extinction, it has been estimated that 80-90% of marine species, about 50% of the marine genera, and about 15% of the marine families went extinct. For land animals, about 85% of the species, about 25% of the families, and about 56% of the genera died out. Larger animals (over about 55 pounds=25 kg) were all wiped out.

    After this came the age of the mammals (present) so it must have only take 65mil years, at most, to ‘Evolve’ most of what we see around us today.

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  71. 71. Bird/tree/dinosaur/etc. geek 8:49 am 11/24/2012

    “”"The K-T mass extinction obliterated the dinosaurs “”"

    You’re forgetting that birds are dinosaurs.

    “”", pterosaurs, plesiosaurs”"”

    Plesiosaurs were already extinct when the KT event happened, and only one genus of Masstrichtian pterosaur is known (suggesting that pterosaurs were dying out).

    “”", mosasaurs, ammonites, some families of birds”"”

    All of the enatornithes and any remaining hesperornithids, along with all non-avian dinosaurs.

    “”" and marsupial mammals, over half the plankton groups, “”"

    Exaggeration.

    “”"many families of teleost (bony) fishes, bivalves, snails, sponges, sea urchins and others.”"”

    Not “many”. One or two for each group. Also, more marsupials and metatherian mammals than you might expect made it through, despite being prevalent in the Northern Hemisphere. C.f. *Necrolestes*, borhyenids, etc..

    “”"This catastrophe eventually led to the Age of Mammals.”"”

    And here is a misconception. The “Age of mammals” was not just mammals filling every niche. Many modern species are nearly identical to or directly descended from Masstrichtian lineages (I recently got the chance to see the first iguanian lizard in US, from the Hell Creek formation).

    “”"During the K-T extinction, it has been estimated that 80-90% of marine species, about 50% of the marine genera, and about 15% of the marine families went extinct. For land animals, about 85% of the species, about 25% of the families, and about 56% of the genera died out. Larger animals (over about 55 pounds=25 kg) were all wiped out.”"”

    Untrue. The first part is exxagerated, and the last sentence is an outright lie. I refer you to the sebecosuchian crocodilians and many species of eusuchian crocs, as well as champsosaurs and several mid-sized fish and sharks.

    “”"After this came the age of the mammals (present)”"”

    As well as the previous 65 million years of weird and wonderful life.

    “”" so it must have only take 65mil years, at most, to ‘Evolve’ most of what we see around us today.”"”

    Most? True. All of the animal SPECIES that we see around us are Miocene or later in origin. Most of the genera are also Miocene or later in origin (here I’m using the late Miocene, ~10 MYA). Most higher-order groups, however, are much older. However, several modern plants are nearly identical to Masstrichtian plants. For example, the dawn redwood genus *Metasequoia* is represented by specimens from the late Cretaceous. Ginkgos and Japanese Umbrella Pines are known from Paleozooic specimens.

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  72. 72. Bird/tree/dinosaur/etc. geek 8:57 am 11/24/2012

    The primary victims of the KT event were large, endothermic animals, and smaller endothermic predators. Also, oceanic predators suffered immensely (especially mosasaurid lizards, which had been looking to fill the top predator niche (and all of the other ocean predator niches) until their extinction at the hands of food-chain collapse.

    Smaller endotherms and land-based ectotherms, especially those in the Southern and Eastern hemispheres (especially Australia) suffered only minor casualties. Why do you think that passeriform birds originated in Australia and New Zealand?

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  73. 73. Bill_Crofut 9:04 am 11/24/2012

    Bird/tree/dinosaur/etc. geek (comment 68),

    Re: “That’s called quote mining (using the words of someone who disagrees with you out of context).”

    As you’ve noted, we’ve been down this road before; your charge is no more valid now than it has been in past postings:

    “Quote mining is the deceitful tactic of taking quotes out of context in order to make them seemingly agree with the quote miner’s viewpoint. [1] It’s a way of lying. This tactic is widely used among Young Earth Creationists in an attempt to discredit evolution.”

    [1] If you’re good, you can also pretend your fellow loonies said nice things rather than nasty things.

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Quote_mining

    By this definition, you are unjustified in accusing me of being a “quote miner.” Why? You are unable to provide a single example of a quote taken out of context in any of my comments. You are unable to provide a single example of a lie in any of my comments. You are unable to provide a single example of a claim on my part that any of those quoted agree(d) with me. It would not serve my purpose to quote those who agree(d) with me.

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  74. 74. Bird/tree/dinosaur/etc. geek 9:13 am 11/24/2012

    @ julianpenrod (comment 30):
    I am not going to rebut you, because it is cruel to make fun of a mentally ill person, even one who likes to rant about how a fictional “new world order” is secretly in control of everything. I will merely advise you to avoid neurologists, who are universally incompetent, and stick with psychiatrists or good psychotherapists (I recommend making the trip to Rutgers; they have an excellent graduate psychology program. The grad students are as good as most professional shrinks). As you appear to have paranoid schizophrenia, I further recommend medication over therapy, as schizoaffective disorders are best handled chemically.

    As usual, I am willing to sell you a Paranoia Deluxe tinfoil hat for three hundred dollars plus tax and s&h.

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  75. 75. Bird/tree/dinosaur/etc. geek 9:15 am 11/24/2012

    @ kevin hunter (comment 33): Excellent point. I bet that more young people would be agnostics or atheists if this country weren’t such a fundamentalist backwater.

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  76. 76. Bird/tree/dinosaur/etc. geek 9:25 am 11/24/2012

    @ MTucker (comment 7):
    “”"When I read Genesis, actually read it as though I will be tested on its content, I discover inconsistencies, contradictions, and multiple explanations of the same event. It is obvious to me it is a compilation of stories that have been handed down by word-of-mouth over multiple generations. It turns out that many of the stories have similarities to stories that have existed in other ancient cultures. “”"

    Having read the bible for a literature course, I feel the same way. Also, the flood story is nearly identical to a Sumerian myth detailed in the epic of Gilgamesh, king of Uruk. Both are based on the oral traditions of people who lived in what is now the floor of the Black Sea during the last Ice Age, only to have their hunting grounds flooded in a matter or years when it refilled.

    “”"When I examine the fossil record, when I study the geologic history of the earth and life on earth, it becomes clear that evolution has occurred. When I study the fossil record for human evolution I discover a very rich and long story that has played out over several million years. Science is constantly refining that story as that is how science works. The difference between the story told by science and that told by Genesis is strikingly obvious: The Bible is simply not a science text. Religion has nothing to add to science and science has very little to add to religion. “”"

    Well…The way I see it, the null hypothesis is that religion is a lie/human construct (because it is untestable), and so religion must be presumed false until it can be unequivocably proven otherwise.

    “”"Some scientists try to attack religion as false but just because they are scientists does not mean they are experts in that field. “”"

    True. Religion cannot be PROVED false, and so must be PRESUMED false, and to try to prove it false is just odd.

    “”"I ignore their attacks just as I do those of religious fanatics on science. For me religion has never been an obstacle to studying science. I do not find it absolutely necessary to abandon all literal interpretations of the Bible but I will always render unto science the things which belong to science.”"”

    “”"“Why do you think Darwin’s theory of evolution still encounters so much opposition today?” Some religious fundamentalists still believe that if the literal interpretation of some of the stories in the Bible were to be questioned then the whole idea of salvation and the belief in God comes into question. For the most fanatical among them the only solution is to reject reason altogether. And, to buttress that extreme position, they then construct an argument to show that reason is the root of all evil. It is also true that some scientists and authors have tried to construct an argument to show that religion is the root of all evil. So this fundamentally pointless back-and-fourth attacking of each other persists and each side moves farther away from any kind of understanding and complete distrust of the other. Since religion is not a required course of study in modern education, yet science is, it is completely understandable that a great many Americans will find that to be evidence of an evil conspiracy to destroy religion. It bolsters their resolve to reject any science that seems to oppose their religious beliefs. I do not believe that religion should be a required course of study. If you want to study science you need to attend school and if you want to study religion you should attend church. But I do firmly wish that the overt attacks on religion and science would stop.”"”

    I’m with you on those last few sentences. Unfortunately, people are stupid. ;)

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  77. 77. zampaz 3:19 pm 11/24/2012

    Teach the facts, starting with definitions:
    Belief: a strongly held opinion.
    Religion: an organized system of beliefs
    Teach the scientific method.
    Teach the origin and history of mythologies and the misunderstanding of nature in this context.
    Reference the “Princess Alice Effect” on the SciAm web site:
    http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/video-of-the-week/2012/09/06/the-princess-alice-effect/
    It is the evolution of our ability to imagine and believe in things which are not there that gives rise to our ability to create. We call this abstract thinking; a bridge is first built in the imagination and then in fact.

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  78. 78. jgrosay 3:25 pm 11/24/2012

    It’s sad having to speak about this, but some of the discussions between evolutionists and creationists I’ve seen were not scientific at all, some people just looked like trying to go over the opponent, this applies especially for evolutionists trying to defeat creationists, and also imposing in a way not far from sub-liminal propaganda some unconnected thoughts, as an identity between mankind an monkeys. Nobody would ever find an evidence for any of the two proposals, evolution is not incompatible with creation, just meaning a direct intervention from God in the process, that can’t be either proved, although an inductive reasoning may support it, and much less discarded, as interventions from outside the system are not detectable to our observation means, be just that they took place in very old times. The underlying question may be the existence of God and his actions on any issue of nature, including mankind’s fate, and sincerely, a discussion that has been brought by one of its parts to put the other in a position of defending its integrity, mental independence, and self-steem, is not a scientific discussion, it’s a psychological war. The whole discussion has no sense at all, both positions are fully reconcilable in view of any biologic, anthropologic or even theologic statements, and day after day, I keep on thinking this is not a discussion, but one part performing an agression, and the other desperately trying to protect their structure of thought and personality. The best for creationists would be finding an adequate wording for their position, an nevermore engaging in a battle from which they can get nothing but harm, the countenders being absolutely irreductible.

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  79. 79. Cashme 4:44 pm 11/24/2012

    Some people want to see life through rose colored glasses. To achieve this need they do things that to the critical mind might seem absurd. One can imagine that all is taken care off by some “big daddy” in the sky. This gives comfort to some who see the real world as imperfect, mean or difficult to cope with. So “Big Daddy” or god or whatever is imagined to be the part of or apart from the world or cosmos with powers that would make santa claus envious. Of course they will tell you that this is for real and any attempt to dissuade them will be met with hostility. How dare anyone break into and ruin their musings, right or wrong. So we have religion to fit that bill. Evolution threatens that pretty picture of all is people-centric. No monkeys sas distant relatives to diminish their egos or imaginings. A bright future after they die. And all who don’t believe that story will be punished severely. Those with a critical mind and willing to use their critical powers without fear of reprisal tend to see what is going on in the world for what it is and accept it as a mature person would be expected to do. Any little bit of information that confirms what the world is really like is what give satisfaction to those of the latter category.

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  80. 80. quizzical 1:29 pm 11/25/2012

    Birdie, You sure are funny! You repeatedly claim to be agnostic but you sure sound like a VERY dedicated evolutionist!
    If you think birds are or were dinosaurs, you must not know much about either of them. Tell us, how did birds ever accidentally arrive at the myriads of specific alterations that make up the huge difference between warm blooded, flying birds and cold blooded, ground bound reptiles?
    How long would it take for all those accidental mutations to accumulate when such mutations are generally selected against?
    The “survival of the fittest” makes all the sense in the world if the fittest could only gain any traction. In reality, most accidental mutations of all types are selected OUT, not IN by the way sexual reproduction works. Take it easy now. Remember, the Watchmaker is BLIND!
    Just a thought: No amount of high-sounding words will ever change the TRUTH of anything.

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  81. 81. Bird/tree/dinosaur/etc. geek 3:17 pm 11/25/2012

    @ quizzical the unscientific buffoon who has not bothered to do even a modicum of research before proclaiming himself an expert in everything:
    “”"You repeatedly claim to be agnostic but you sure sound like a VERY dedicated evolutionist!”"”

    “Belief” in evolution is simply a matter of accepting the overwhelming amount of evidence in its favor. If I were to see incontrovertible evidence against evolutionary theory (for example, a fully modern rabbit skeleton fossilized in previously untouched Precambrian rocks) I would toss it out and start with a new hypothesis.

    “”"If you think birds are or were dinosaurs, you must not know much about either of them. Tell us, how did birds ever accidentally arrive at the myriads of specific alterations that make up the huge difference between warm blooded, flying birds and cold blooded, ground bound reptiles?”"”

    1. Dinosaurs were not ectothermic (except possibly for the larger sauropods). Small dinosaurs, especially theropods, were full endotherms (and we have bone growth rings and similar evidence to support this), and most large theropods and ornithiscians were semi-endothermic, not fully ectothermic and not fully endothermic.
    2. For more information, I suggest the latest bird evolution textbook by Dyke (poss. misspelled; I haven’t checked in a while) and Kaiser. They provide a good summery in their latest book.

    “”"How long would it take for all those accidental mutations to accumulate when such mutations are generally selected against?”"”

    IF such mutations were selected against (which they weren’t–dinosaur bipedal locomotion is greatly eased with the help of wings, even partial wings insufficient for full flight), they never would have accumulated.

    “”"The “survival of the fittest” makes all the sense in the world if the fittest could only gain any traction.”"”

    Reproduction, not survival. And it’s “luckiest, fittest, and smartest”, by the way, usually in that order. To paraphrase an old D&D saying of mine, “It’s fine to have poor balance, use Intelligence as a dump stat, and work on cliffs above molten lava as long as you’re either fireproof or very, very lucky with the dice”. You probably won’t understand that, but to me and several of my old acquaintances, it is extremely funny.

    “”" In reality, most accidental mutations of all types are selected OUT, not IN by the way sexual reproduction works. Take it easy now. Remember, the Watchmaker is BLIND!”"”

    Technically true, but you’re forgetting that the sheer number of random mutations means that (in a decent-sized population) even ones that are disadvantageous will survive.

    “”"Just a thought: No amount of high-sounding words will ever change the TRUTH of anything.”"”

    Which is why I don’t know why you creationists persist. Your bible is a pack of lies, everyone else knows it, and yet you persist!

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  82. 82. BobNSF 11:05 pm 11/25/2012

    If I signed up for a class on evolution, I’d be very disappointed to be discussing fundamentalist Christian mythology.

    And if you are going to go off-topic, why not mix it up? Ask them how they reconcile evolution with Inuit story of Raven and how he created the world?

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  83. 83. joenn 11:59 am 11/26/2012

    @Bird/tree/dinosaur/etc. geek: “Which is why I don’t know why you creationists persist. Your bible is a pack of lies, everyone else knows it, and yet you persist!”

    Have you ever read the bible? Do you know what it really teaches? Most people who dismiss the bible don’t bother to look into it. They don’t realize that the bible does explain creation in a way that is consistent with the scientific evidence. Like they used to say about drugs, “Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it.” Don’t knock the bible and its message until you look at it first and see what it really says. Don’t let other people’s ignorance blind you. See for yourself.

    Why do I “persist”? It is something called the evidence. The fossil record is consistent with what the bible really says. An intelligent creation of life makes more sense than “It just happened somehow. We don’t know how yet but we will eventually.” Add that to all the other evidence apart from science and that evidence convinces me beyond unreasonable doubt that God exists and made us all. That is why I “persist”.

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  84. 84. Albert R. Killackey, Esq. 1:44 pm 11/27/2012

    Science is compatible with religion when the believer believes that advancing knowledge of their God’s creation is the faithful thing to do. Words like religion, faith and belief, or believe, deal with an individual’s loyalty to their God. Religious people sometimes wrongly view evidence contrary to their notions of faith as a test of their faith. Words like science, evolution, and physics deal with a method of advancing knowledge by formulating a question, collecting data about it through observation and experimentation, and testing a hypothetical explanation. Scientist correctly view evidence contrary to their hypothesis as a test of their hypothesis. I have been told by an astronomer that observing the Orion Nebula through the eyepiece of the 200-inch Hale Telescope at the Palomar Observatory inspires thoughts of catching God in the act of creation; a place where stars are formed! I have had that same inspiration when observing the night sky with my 17-inch telescope. Science is the way to know God’s creation; to know God.

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  85. 85. Bill_Crofut 12:24 pm 11/28/2012

    Bird/tree/dinosaur/etc. geek (comment 80),

    Re: “Belief” in evolution is simply a matter of accepting the overwhelming amount of evidence in its favor.

    Belief in evolution is a false, atheistic system of religious dogma:

    “As we know, there is a great divergence of opinion among biologists, not only about the causes of evolution but even about the actual process. This divergence exists because the evidence is unsatisfactory and does not permit any certain conclusion. It is therefore right and proper to draw the attention of the non-scientific public to the disagreements about evolution. But some recent remarks of evolutionists show that they think this unreasonable. This situation, where scientific men rally to the defence of a doctrine they are unable to define scientifically, much less demonstrate with scientific rigour, attempting to maintain its credit with the public by the suppression of criticism and the elimination of difficulties, is abnormal and undesirable in science.”

    [Prof. W. R. Thompson. 1956. Introduction. In: Charles Darwin. Origin of Species. Everyman Library No. 811. London: J. M. Dent and Sons. Reprinted with permission. Evolution Protest Movement. 1967. NEW CHALLENGING ‘INTRODUCTION' TO THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES. Selsey, Sussex: Selsey Press Ltd., p. 17-18]

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  86. 86. quizzical 11:26 am 11/29/2012

    reply to Albert R. Killackey, Esq.

    Very well said! Real Science has NO contradiction with Christianity. It is only the hopeful hypotheses about origins made by those who desperately wish to deal God out of the deck, that I have an issue with.
    I too, love to study astronomy with my 8″ and 16″ handmade telescopes. I have enjoyed this hobby for over 40 years. The Heavens really do declare the Glory of God! It is very satisfying to be able to find specific dim stars and then accurately time (GPS based) their disappearances and reappearances as an invisible asteroid drifts in front of them. This allows accurate determinations of the size and shape of the invisible asteroid when a bunch of folks work the same event. Science is FUN!, Even though you sometimes have to go out in the middle of a cold winter night to do it!
    It certainly gets very tiring trying to help armchair prognosticators understand the exquisite beauty of all of Nature and Life in particular, as the work of an Almighty God, and not just some random occurrence in some ancient mud puddle.
    Life is NOT based upon a mere correct recipe of chemicals and water, but rather, on a correct recipe AND correct INFORMATION that directs the assembly of all of the specific components in specific ways. That IS science, by the way, and NOT religion.

    The notion that this wonderful, specific, replicable Information (RNA and DNA) somehow self-assembled in some warm mud puddle in order to cause any coherent results is, in my mind, absolute insanity.

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  87. 87. quizzical 11:36 am 11/29/2012

    Reply to Bill_Crofut (comment 84)
    Thanks for that interesting quote from Prof. W. R. Thompson!
    It is strange how hard it seems to be to convince some folks that real evolution from molecules to man has no foundation in demonstrable fact what-so-ever. The fact that the genetic code has the ability to change in limited ways, in no way proves that all species flowered out of a single ancestor. The way science has shown us that genetics works, weighs heavily against that idea.
    Oh well! Each to his own, I suppose.

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  88. 88. Joseph C Moore, Cpo USN Ret 5:48 pm 11/29/2012

    Is mankind in evolution or is he devolving, as I perceive it.

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  89. 89. Sunspotter 6:54 pm 11/29/2012

    My brother-in-law taught biology in Tennessee high schools for many years. He knew that a number of his students and/or their parents would object to the teaching of evolution, so he always prefaced the move into that part of the course by telling them that he recognized that some would be uncomfortable with the science. He added that they did not have to believe it, but they did have to understand it in order to pass the course.

    As I was giving a brief talk on the origins of the universe to a group of high-school students, one asked me sort of plaintively, “You mean God didn’t do it?” I told her that no one knows what if anything preceded the Big Bang, and that “Let there be light” is not contradicted by science. I added that I also had to give her the answer Galileo is said to have given his inquisitors when they pressed him on Copernican theory: “The Bible tells us how to go to Heaven, not how the heavens go.” The girl seemed to be OK with all that.

    From my perspective, the problem with faith vs. religion in explaining origins and processes is what Neil Tyson has called “the God of the gaps”: many students will accept most modern scientific knowledge, but when something comes up that science cannot fully explain yet, they drop back to attributing the phenomenon to divine action. Basically this says, “There are some things we don’t understand. Therefore they must be divine (or supernatural).” I have pointed out that if this is true, there is no point in doing science, and that if this had prevailed over the past 500 years, we would still be lighting candles and having animals haul us around instead of turning on electric lights and driving cars.

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  90. 90. quizzical 9:54 pm 11/29/2012

    in reply to Sunspotter
    Your comment on the God of the Gaps is interesting. However, there is a flaw in that argument. Actually, God is the God of EVERYTHING, not only the gaps. Many folks argue as you have, but just because we happen to understand a given concept, in no way removes the need of God.

    You may have heard it said that if there are laws of nature, (which there are, and VERY finely tuned too) that fact strongly implies a lawgiver. Also, the very existence of the marvelous information encoded into the DNA molecule strongly implies an author.

    I simply repeat my oft stated challenge: If origins studies are such impeccable science, please show me one example where a living cell has self-assembled itself in any recipe of sterile chemicals that you can concoct. This is not a “God of the Gaps” issue. It is strictly a scientific issue. No one has ever shown any coherently coded information that has self-assembled by chance.

    I know, some replicating molecules have been found, but they carry no coded information about how to do anything. Any experiment must also be replicable at will by others for the result to be considered real.

    All the dreams about origins have this fatal flaw in that they have never been experimentally shown to work – not even once.

    Some would claim that evolution is not about origins. Those folks are being disingenuous. The theory is that everything has descended from the Big Bang right on up to the present.

    Experiments like the Miller/Urey effort have generated certain interesting substances but never any information on what to do with the stuff.

    Let’s keep science on the up and up and let the science fiction writers write what they will.

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  91. 91. flyfeather 10:02 pm 11/29/2012

    If you take the time and look up at the stars, you will begin to realize that our species knows absolutely nothing about this complexity of sky! So we invent a fantasy of believes that will answer our questions of reality. We are an insignificant species in the scheme of things. Our answers are based on what we experience. In seeking knowledge to our most perplexing questions, with few real answers, we invent.

    The closes we come to reasonable answers to our existence is evolution! However, our imagination has contributed to our progress in material things. So, here we stand searching and inventing.

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  92. 92. Asteroid Miner 12:37 am 11/30/2012

    Why not teach a good course about religion?:
    The best book I have read about religion is “Religion Explained” by Pascal Boyer. Boyer doesn’t go for the insanity model. Instead, Boyer says that religion is caused by the fact that the human brain has sub-processors that act below the level of consciousness. In particular, the human brain has a very powerful sub-computer for dealing with social interactions. It is the “If your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail” problem.

    The human brain evolved to have categories for people, animals, vegetables and minerals. Gods, spirits, witches, ghosts and the like are in a broken category, partly people and partly minerals. Dead people fall into the “people” category but also fall into the “rocks” category.

    Science is a new method of thinking; and guess what: Science actually WORKS! Science was invented only 400 or 500 years ago. Very few people are able to learn to do science, and it takes about 10 years after high school. Science is not easy.

    Most people find religion much easier than science, even if they can do science. So, most people do the easy thing. The problem is that the problems we face right now can only be solved by doing science, yet scientists are a small minority. Is it possible for scientists to rescue civilization in time, or will civilization fall into disaster?

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  93. 93. Asteroid Miner 12:59 am 11/30/2012

    Do an end run around evolution. Teach Probability and Statistics. As a sophomore undergraduate student in Physics, your homework in Probability and Statistics class may include figuring out when the second coming would be required, assuming that the bible was 100% true in the year zero. That is, when would the bible be down to 50% true? The popular and professors’ answer in 1965 was the year 500. The true answer: A friend of mine was born and raised in Budapest, Hungary. As an adult, he came here and stayed. After 25 years, he visited his home town of Budapest. He was unable to communicate with his high school classmates because the Hungarian language had changed so much. The correct answer is less than 25 years.

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  94. 94. Asteroid Miner 1:01 am 11/30/2012

    Teach a course on religion using these books:

    “The Neuropsychological bases of god beliefs” Dr. Michael A. Persinger MD, psychiatrist 1987 “Religious people are just like my temporal lobe patients”

    “The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bi-Cameral Mind” Julian Jaynes Professor, Harvard University 1976 “Religious people are just like schizophrenic patients”

    “The Psychiatric Interview in Clinical Practice” Roger A. MacKinnon, M.D., Robert Michels, M.D. W. B. Saunders Co. 1971 “Religiosity is a common symptom [of] schizophrenic patients”

    “The God delusion” by Richard Dawkins. “Religion is caused by a kind of computer virus that infects the living computer, the human brain.”

    “The Science of Good and Evil” by Michael Shermer, 2004 “Morality and Ethics are now in the jurisdiction of Science and greatly improved thereby.”

    Many books in the new science called “Sociobiology”: Morals and ethics are instinctive and they evolved.

    “God: The Failed Hypothesis” by Victor Stenger. Scientific proof that god does not exist.

    “The God Part of the Brain” by Matthew Alper 1996. “The USA is anomolusly religious because many early founder groups were religiously insane and fleeing prosecution in Europe. Religion is a genetic disorder.”

    “The Accidental Mind” by David J. Linden, 2007 Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. Religion is caused by the extreme klugeyness of the “designed” by evolution brain. In particular, the narrative creation system cannot be turned off. It generates false narratives that are believed by the generating person. This is seen in experiments done in the laboratory. This book has the best explanation of resistance to evolution: “There has also been an assumption that if one accepts the idea that life developed without divine intervention, it necessarily follows that all aspects of religious thought must be rejected. Those who take this line of argument to extremes argue that when religious thought is rejected moral and social codes will degenerate and “the law of the jungle” will be all that is left. It is imagined by religious fundamentalists that those who do not share their particular religious faith are incapable of leading moral lives.” These suppositions are not true many times over. Linden later mentions that the creationists [intelligent design advocates] are exactly 180 degrees wrong rather than just a little wrong. Being exactly wrong, they are unable to unlearn their error. See Sociobiology or Sciobio.

    “Scientists Confront Intelligent Design and Creationism” edited by Petto & Godfrey, 2007. The ID and creationist crowd are trying to do away with science. They see science as a “godless religion.” Science is a process, not a religion.

    “Manufacturing Belief” by Lewis Wolpert http://www.salon.com/books/feature/2007/05/15/lewis_wolpert/

    “The End of Faith” and “Letter to a Christian Nation” by Sam Harris

    “Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon”, by Daniel Dennett Let’s do scientific research on religion and find out what causes it.

    “Origins of the Modern Mind” by Merlin Donald 1991 “So what did you expect from a brain that is based on the Chimpanzee brain?

    “Atheism, A Case Against God” by George Smith

    “God is not Great; how religion poisons everything” by Christopher Hitchens, 2007

    Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist” by Dan Barker

    The Ancestor’s Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution” by Richard Dawkins

    “Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time” by Michael Shermer. The list author says: “This book explains why on earth your friends and family read the horoscopes.”

    “Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects” by Bertrand Russell

    “After Atheism” by Mark Vernon

    “The New Atheists” by Tina Beattie

    “The Greatest Show on Earth” by Richard Dawkins

    “Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism” by Susan Jacoby

    “Sleeping With Extra-Terrestrials: The Rise of Irrationalism and Perils of Piety” by Wendy Kaminer

    “Dogma (Special Edition)” DVD Matt Damon

    “Cosmos” Carl Sagan (7 DVD Set)

    “Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Special Edition)” DVD Connie Booth

    “The God Who Wasn’t There” DVD Brian Flemming

    “Inherit the Wind” DVD Spencer Tracy. The movie of the Scopes Monkey Trial.

    “Complaints and Grievances” DVD George Carlin

    “Contact” DVD Jodie Foster
    The list author says: “Sagan’s story of what is out there.

    “Nonbeliever Nation” by David Niose

    “The Social Conquest of Earth” by Edward O. Wilson
    “The Beginning of Infinity” by David Deutsch
    “The Believing Brain” by Michael Shermer
    “Religion Explained” by Pascal Boyer

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  95. 95. quizzical 7:22 am 11/30/2012

    In reply to Asteroid Miner:

    This thread is not about any religion, but rather, about whether students should believe some of the unproven claims some “scientists” try to make.

    No one has yet come forward with an experiment that can repeatedly demonstrate the origin of life by chance. Therefore, that whole discussion remains outside the realm of science and remains in the realm of science fiction.

    Even though you may not believe the following prophecy written many centuries ago, Truth is Truth, so what can I say?

    “The time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from truth and turn aside to myths.” 2 Timothy 4:3-4

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  96. 96. FOOZLER8 9:29 am 11/30/2012

    The evolution rejectors demand perfect science and perfect data before they will accept Darwin but they take the words of long dead Jews about their faith.

    Double standard. Why unconditionally accept some supposed authority? Just because friends and family do – that’s why.

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  97. 97. Bill_Crofut 10:52 am 11/30/2012

    quizzical (comment 86),

    You’re most welcome.

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  98. 98. Bill_Crofut 12:05 pm 12/1/2012

    FOOZLER8 (comment 95),

    This creationist accepts the words of the Holy Ghost in Scripture because those words are true:

    THE HOLY GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN

    14:6. Jesus saith to him: I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the Father, but by me.

    [Catholic Bible. (c) 2000. Douay Rheims Translation. Murray, KY: A production of Catholic Software]

    My rejection of the dogmatic pronouncements of evolutionists is because those words have all the earmarks of being untrue:

    “There are, however, seven basic assumptions that are often not mentioned during discussions of Evolution. Many evolutionists ignore the first six assumptions and only consider the seventh….The seventh assumption is that within the vertebrates the fish gave rise to the amphibia, the amphibia to the reptiles, and the reptiles to the birds and mammals. Sometimes this is expressed in other words, i.e. that the modern amphibia and reptiles had a common ancestral stock, and so on….The first point that I should like to make is that these seven assumptions by their nature are not capable of experimental verification.”

    [Prof. G. A. Kerkut. 1960. IMPLICATIONS OF EVOLUTION. New York: PERGAMON PRESS, pp. 6, 7; http://archive.org/details/implicationsofev00kerk

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  99. 99. IslandGardener 6:01 am 12/3/2012

    To paraphrase E. M. Forster, it seems to me that some of John Horgan’s students are in a muddle.
    (And indeed so are many of the militant atheists such as Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett!)

    This is a matter for moral philosophy and critical thinking, to help people think more clearly and ethically.

    I wonder if it would help to use the kind of techniques Michael Sandel does in his public philosophy sessions.
    He has led some discussions which were broadcast here in Britain by the BBC and they were superb. See http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01fbj97. He helped people to disentangle their reasons for believing what they say they believe – and he does it in a mild and unjudgmental but still challenging way.

    See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Sandel.

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  100. 100. cccampbell38 2:33 pm 12/5/2012

    The way that I worked with my college students was fairly simple and seemed to satisfy most.

    Human beings are the only animal that asks “why” and that knows in advance that it is going to die. We are also alone in our ability to learn the “secrets” of the universe. Up until the birth of the “scientific method” only a few hundred years ago, we tended to utilize observation, deductive and inductive reasoning in an attempt to answer the “great questions”. This resulted in a huge variety of “truths” which I would refer to as allegories; a way of attempting to define reality by creating a story that contains a deeper, eternal truth.

    Thus, the Biblical account of Adam and Eve was probably not meant to be taken literally by its author. He knew no more about the actual origin of life than we do and he was aware of that. If we choose to believe that he was informed (rather than inspired) by God we must accept this on pure faith alone. There is no way of knowing what actually inspired this author well over 2000 years ago. But he did write a story that contains a profound message about what it means to be a human, the burdens and rewards of being intelligent, and the choices that we make between good and evil. All that is so much more important than the story line itself.

    Indeed, if we look at the accounts in the Gospels of the actual teaching process used by Jesus we will find that he often uses allegories; parables which were not meant to be literal truth but rather stories that reveled a greater, underlying truth.

    Viewed in this light, as a parable, the story of Genesis about the creation of the Earth is remarkably close, in many respects, to the Big Bang Theory and what we do now know, through science, about how all this came to be. Viewed as an allegory with a deeper meaning it is not at all incompatible with science.

    Religion is based on certain unprovable assumptions; that there is some sort of intelligent, supernatural being, that this being is the creator of the universe, and that it directs, or is in some way involved in our lives, and so forth.

    Science is based on certain unprovable assumptions; that what we are able to observe is representative of reality (whatever that may be), and that what we learn through the scientific method is actually valid, given that what we are able to observe with our five or six senses and machines that expand them, is “real” or complete.

    So, lets assume, for those who are “believers” that we are created by God. But why did God give us the intellect and curiosity that we have if He did not mean for us to use it? So could it be that our sacred task is to learn as much about the wonders of His creation as we can. Simply having it explained would take all the wonder and magnificence out of it. We must, and we do work for the knowledge and in doing so we hope someday, perhaps, to come to “know the mind of God”. That would be the highest form of reverence, of awe, of worship that I can imagine.

    So, the Bible become the great teachings of philosophy and morality. Science becomes the great teaching of the wonders of existence. They complement each other perfectly.

    And for non believers? The same applies. Philosophy, morality, and the laws of the universe. It all can fit together and we can all benefit from learning both.

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  101. 101. Bill_Crofut 10:03 am 12/6/2012

    cccampbell38,

    Re: “… the Biblical account of Adam and Eve was probably not meant to be taken literally…”

    That position may be ok for you, but it’s not ok for me who wishes to remain a Traditional Roman Catholic:

    “There are other conjectures, about polygenism (as it is called), which leave the faithful no such freedom of debate. Christians cannot lend their support to a theory which involves the existence, after Adam’s time, of some earthly race of men, truly so called, who were not descended ultimately from him, or else supposes that Adam was the name given to some group of our primordial ancestors. It does not appear how such views can be reconciled with the doctrine of original sin, as this is guaranteed to us by Scripture and tradition and proposed to us by the Church. Original sin is the result of a sin committed, in actual historical fact, by an individual man named Adam, and it is a quality native to all of us, only because it has been handed down by descent from him.”

    [Pope Pius XII. 1950. HUMANI GENERIS: Encyclical Letter on FALSE TRENDS IN MODERN TEACHING promulgated 12th August. In: FALSE TRENDS IN MODERN TEACHING. 1961. London: Catholic Truth Society, section 37]

    Re: “…as a parable, the story of Genesis about the creation of the Earth is remarkably close, in many respects, to the Big Bang Theory…”

    If the information available to me is correct, all of human experience has demonstrated explosions do not generate order. Rather, as in the detonation of explosive devices, the express purpose is to disrupt the existing order. The creation of the universe was accomplished by Divine Fiat:

    THE BOOK OF GENESIS

    1:1. In the beginning God created heaven, and earth.

    THE BOOK OF PSALMS

    32:6. By the word of the Lord the heavens were established; and all the power of them by the spirit of his mouth:

    Re: “Religion is based on certain unprovable assumptions; that there is some sort of intelligent, supernatural being…”

    THE EPISTLE OF ST. PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE ROMANS

    1:20. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made. His eternal power also and divinity: so that they are inexcusable.

    [All Scripture is from: Catholic Bible. (c) 2000. Douay Rheims Translation. Murray, KY: A production of Catholic Software]

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  102. 102. bdawson 4:46 pm 12/28/2012

    I am intrigued by your statement: “I feel a bit queasy, I admit, challenging their faith, from which some of them derive great comfort.”

    What if their interpretation of their own religious faith assumed that women were meant to be subservient, sold to their future husband, and should not be educated beyond the 5th grade. Would you still feel “queasy”?

    Every belief should be open to challenge and debate, whether assumed to be from Darwin, the Pope or a Druid.

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  103. 103. Insectman 1:59 pm 01/5/2013

    “Of the simplest machines, a toothpick has no moving parts. Of the most complex of machines, a protein has the highest of manufacturing requirements. Given every tree on the planet and infinite time, evolution could never make a toothpick. Even incompetent engineers know that.
    “Without totalitarian censorship and persecution, evolution would not last a month.” (Joseph Mastropaolo)

    Evolution is more impossible than the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus, and the Headless Horseman. See http://www.lifescienceprize.org/ for a list of bluffing evolutionists.

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  104. 104. Smoore 1:36 am 01/7/2013

    Perhaps you should start by asking yourself how much a pre-conceived belief in evolution is responsible for the interpretations of data that supposedly confirm evolution? It is cyclical; DNA, fossils, and radioactive elements can’t prove anything. Rather, the scientist starts with an idea (evolution) and then attempts to show how the data can be worked to prove evolution.

    Creationists do this too. They assume the Bible is true and then try to find the best way to fit the data to their beliefs. Both sides do this because that is how humans reason and understand their worlds. Until you understand this, you ought to stay far away from trying to sway your students’ personal beliefs.

    The models and hypotheses that go into evolution have nothing to do with the modern sciences that have produced medicines, computers, and all the other advances that our society enjoys. Those are built upon repeatable experimentation, but the ideas behind evolution can’t be repeated or tested in an experiment because they either happened too far ago in the past or because they happen too slowly or unpredictably to be proven in a laboratory.

    Creationism, on the other hand, has the benefit of an alleged first-hand account. God either inscribed or dictated to Adam the events of creation, and Moses compiled this and other first-hand, historical accounts into the Book of Genesis. If this is true, then creationists have what is lacking from evolutionists: an eyewitness knows what actually happened.

    The real question you should be asking isn’t how to convince your students that their faith shouldn’t supersede “science”, but whether the Bible and the Book of Genesis is true or not. If it is, do you really want to be teaching your students a falsehood?

    The first step is to recognize that “evolution” does not equal “science” because it is merely interpreting past data that is observed thousands/millions/billions of years after the fact. Realizing that all evolutionists carry a personal bias toward evolution and against creationism that dictates their work is much more important than trying to shake the faith of your students who hold to a different—but wholly legitimate—worldview than yours.

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  105. 105. lodi ohio 4:08 pm 01/7/2013

    I was shocked to read that ‘evolution’ advocates now say it has nothing to do with ‘origins’, which was part of the title of Darwin’s famous book! Just because evolution doesn’t answer the question of ‘origins’, you want to pass the buck – I don’t blame you.

    It’s weird to me that so many scientifically-minded people are so willing to sacrifice their minds to the god of evolution, and blind faith in it, without demanding any ‘proof’.Yet you decry ‘religious people’ who believe in the god of Creation for that very thing.

    It’s weird to me that you folks can’t turn your own words you say about ‘religious people’ and their faith, on yourselves and demand of yourselves (who believe in evolution) the same things you demand of ‘religious people’.

    It’s obvious from your writings that most of you ‘believe’ that ‘evolution’ and ‘science’ are the same thing, and that therefore, anyone who doesn’t ‘believe’ in evolution doesn’t ‘believe’ in science. How unintelligent of you,and how non-intellectual.

    I’m here to say that you can be both intelligently scientific-minded AND a Christian – at the same time, without checking your brains at the door of your Church. In fact most all of Science’s greatest scientists WERE Christians, and many of them Bible scholars. If you don’t know this, then it’s you who have much to learn about Science. Not only do Christians not have to check their brain at the door of Science, they don’t have to check your Bible there either. The reason you think this way is because atheistic, materialistic influences have indoctrinated you to believe this way – but it’s not true. You don’t have to buy it. Follow your gut instincts about it – instincts that are innately human because you were created in God’s image and likeness, and He gave you your mind. Your mind is not an organ. It’s not material. It’s not chemical. The fact that you are conscious of your existence and have intrest in this subject attests to your mind being active. But it’s not natural! You can’t touch it or see it. Surgeons can’t find it or remove it! It’s ethereal – it’s spiritual, like God is. Because you were made in God’s image.

    Science would tell you that if it’s not ‘natural’, it’s not true or real. That’s how they dismiss ‘God’ and the Bible from consideration.
    But is your mind real? Are you real? Are you thinking as you read this? or is this not really happening since you can’t touch it?

    Where did your ‘mind’ come from, as different from animals from whom you supposedly ‘descended’? Did you ever wonder? If you’re just an animal, then why are you different? You can talk – they can’t. You can do math – they can’t. You can anticipate the future – they don’t. How could these things just ‘evolve’ from mutations?

    Did you know that mutations are almost all either toxic or detrimental? Did you know that mutations are NEVER increases in DNA, but are ‘losses’ of DNA information, changes to the organism that represent a ‘loss’ of something it formerly had, and can’t regain. How does ‘progression’ of species arise out of mutations? It can’t. Scientifically, this is an absurdity and an impossibility. The discovery of DNA and RNA occurred long after Darwin’s postulates were developed. He didn’t know about it, and he didn’t know about the workings of a simple cell that we know today. None of that was known then, but is now. Evolution should long ago have been forgotten – why hasn’t it been?? Because it became part of an agenda to remove the thought of God from humanity, and it doesn’t matter if it isn’t true, it will have the desired affect if the elitists only persist in getting it ‘accepted’ as ‘truth’

    Evolution is a supposed ‘postulate’, not even a theory, let alone ‘a proven fact’. It’s an idea to be ‘caught’ – and it was. It is not ‘scientific’ because there’s not one ‘scientific’ experiment that anywhere near supports it. In fact, every known scientific law and principle refutes it! Scientifically, evolution is an impossibility -but that has not stopped it from being ‘believed’. Why? Well, that’s interesting.

    The answer to that question, as stated above, ‘science’ doesn’t respond to very well.

    How about this one: If the Bible were ‘true’, and ‘God’ (as defined by the 66 books of the Bible) did in fact create everything in the Universe He designed and planned for His purposes, what would you expect and predict of His design, and how does that picture differ from material Reality? (realizing that included in the Bible are several events that describe a ‘marring’ of that first perfect creation due to man not adhering to God’s clear instruction to him)

    Even in that question, if you doubt God or the truth of the Bible, then your ‘interpretation’ of your current reality is going to be influenced by your ‘belief’ system, and how you view that Reality – just as Science interpretations are influenced by the ‘belief’ systems of those who portend to ‘study’ science, and offer us their opinions of what they see. How you view the world influences those opinions. How you think varies upon what you believe – that’s a scientific reality. No scientist can separate his ‘belief system’ and chosen moral values from his life-work.

    As a student of Science, you cannot know how much belief bias is involved in what a scientist ‘believes’, and you cannot know how objective he has been with his ‘conclusions’ or findings. You don’t know. But there is a clue to this.

    It is this: How much will a scientist venture into understanding the ‘other side’s positions, so as to put his ‘beliefs’ to the test, in order to obtain a better answer? Or,is a scientist willing to ‘give up’ his beliefs if shown to be wrong, or improbable, and favor the opposing view when shown to be the better answer?

    This is an important question because this is what evolutionists demand that Christians do, every day. They see it as their ‘job’ to dislodge Judeo Christian Biblical thinking about origins, and replace it with what they consider ‘right thinking’ about a godless,mindless, chance, ‘natural’ evolution from ‘nothing’ – even though this definition is wholly unscientific on its face, and defies everything we see in Reality!!!

    Yet, in the face of a Reality that refutes Evolution at every turn, evolutionists are resolute in the continued ‘belief’ in evolution that they deem everyone else must also confess in order for the ‘world to turn’! And they will not be satisfied until everyone within their sorry grasp is fully indoctrinated. It’s a lot like the movie 1948 actually!

    If you only think about Reality for 10 seconds, you will realize that if evolution were remotely ‘true’, your world would be vastly different! Instead of searching for the one ‘missing link’ (out of what should be billions of them, by the way) that will ‘prove’ evolution ‘happened’, we would be searching wildly (without result) to find any two things that were remotely alike! if evolution was such a grand phenomenon of all the ‘variety’ we see all around us!

    If ‘evolution’ were really true, and everything had come about purely by chance and ‘time’with no plan or purpose, and no God-mind or intelligence who planned it all, there would be utter chaos in the Universe – there would be no ‘universe’ at all.It would be of the variety of ‘mess’ we saw after the floods, after the tornadoes, and after the fires we experience ‘naturally’,awaiting some intelligence, equipment, directed energy and money to come along and clean it up and rebuild – otherwise, it just sits there in a heap.It doesn’t evolve. That is what ‘Science’teaches us – real life experience doesn’t attest to ‘evolution’ at all! It attests to man’s innovation and creativity and resolve and intelligence – because man is made in God’s image. If man were indeed just a purposeless chance happening out of the muck of premordial pondscum,he could never have achieved what man has achieved, and he would never have worked so hard to try to avoid being responsible and accountable to the God who made him.

    If evolution were true, nothing could be counted on. Nothing could be labeled or sorted – there would be no rhyme or reason, and there would be no two things alike. Imagine, a world of half-formed parts here and there, some just ‘emerging’, others being ‘replaced’; some tuning into one kind of thing, others turning into something else – if there’s no ‘plan’, no ‘purpose’. The world would be your worst nightmare, a goulish freakshow everywhere you look. Science Fiction portrays such scenes. But real Science shows us that this is not the case – that is not the world we have. We don’t live in an ‘evolved’ world. We now have ‘proof’, with new discoveries being made all the time, that many, many species have remained the exact same over supposed ‘billions’ of years of evolution!!! But how can that be, if at the same time we are told that in all that time, humans ‘evolved’ from soup to them? It doesn’t make sense – and it doesn’t make sense because it doesn’t line up with Reality.

    Today, we have science ramming evolution down the throats of people who resist (because it doesn’t make sense) – not by producing the ‘evidence’ they need to connect with their Reality, but by making spectacles of them, and by punishing them with ephithets and slurs and insults (‘maybe they should talk about that in ‘Psychiatry’class, not a science class…), but science today doesn’t deal with the issues that refute evolution’s claims and tenets, but instead science today is merely ‘announcing’ that evolution is ‘accepted fact’, without any intention of illucidating the subject for the’unbeliever’.

    That’s all they would have to do. Don’t just talk about ‘all the proofs’ – provide them. Show them. Tell us. Tell us when and how, exactly, Pasteur’s Law of Abiogenesis (spontaneous generation) was overturned in favor of Evolution? Or show us how science has shown that it’s ‘possible’ when the Laws of Probability refute it.Or, show us or tell us when science discovered that the Laws of Information were overturned that allow for Information to Increase without intelligent input? Or show us how and when the Law of Cause and Effect was stopped to allow for the possibility of an Effect without a greater or equal Cause acting upon it which would attribute some sense of possibility to the premise of Evolution?

    These are scientific Laws that have stood the test of time and experiment – and they all refute evolution from possibility! Yet it persists – but not ‘scientifically’ – only philosophically!

    How do you account for ‘pairing’ and ‘symmetry’ and ‘balance’ and ‘synergy’ and ‘chirality’, without a Plan? And how do you get design without a designer? Or purpose, without plan? How do you get ‘diversity’ without ‘procreation’, and which came first, male or female evolution? These are real questions, and evolution doesn’t care to deal with them- science would rather you didn’t think about such things, but just ‘accept’evolution without question. They call that ‘critical thinking’, and ‘scientific literacy’. But I call it nonsense and stupidity and brain-washing – but it’s working.

    These same individuals mock scientists who are looking into these issues and who are finding answers for today’s questions. They mock their demonstrated pensive results as though they ‘don’t count’, merely because they dare to challenge evolutionary dogma about Reality. Why? Because they’re a threat to their power position. The purpose of ‘evolution’ is to de-throne Religion in the lives of the people, to cause the purposelessness of evolution to evoke hopelessness and despair and eventual suicide and lack of procreation(as it has in many countries today) – and that will ‘decrease the population’ worldwide, and that will ‘save the Planet’ (and will allow the elites to have more space and wealth).

    Science today wants you to think that all the ‘variation’ we see is a result of ‘evolution’. Well, that waters down evolution quite a bit. It calls all the different varieties of Finch, different ‘species’. But by that definition then, all the ‘varieties’ of humans are also different ‘species’, but they say that’s not true. Well then, why is it supposedly true of Finches, or butterflies, or you name it? The truth is that it’s just a gimmick used to get people to ‘accept’ evolution because all the variety is easy for people to see and grasp – but it’s a lie to call that variety ‘evolution’, because nothing has evolved. It’s merely a property of DNA-RNA working the way it’s supposed to. It’s not mutations acting. Disease is a result of mutations acting – decreased information, not getting more complex, as evolution describes and demands. It’s all a hoax.

    If you only knew. And you can. I have found that many Creationist scientists are doing real science that is fascinating, while evolutionists are just relying on past (refuted) topics to try to support their statements of belief. Creationists are currently conducting a lot of real studies pertinent to the Earth’s data in obtaining real results of real import to today’s discussions. A lot of these can be found at AnswersinGenesis.org. Don’t be beguiled and disinformed – don’t let professors squash your minds into their little boxes. Use your mind that you were designed for. Get free.

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  106. 106. Catalyst23@comcast.net 2:50 am 01/20/2013

    I would try and define the difference between faith and science. As far as I can tell, faith is a statement that goes far and above simply stating a belief in the existence of god. Faith is when a mother tells her child, ‘I believe in you’. Faith is when a child says to their father, ‘I love you’. Faith is not merely a statement of existence, but something much, much more. Science, on the other hand, is all about stating what is and what exists, with no higher emotional value attached to it. As a slightly popular meme says, I don’t believe in evolution. I accept that the evidence indicates to a strong degree the veracity of the theory of evolution.

    Making that distinction allows one to proceed with a scientific discussion in the presence of faith in a supernatural existence. A theist may say, ‘I believe in God, I believe it has a purpose in mind for me’ without requiring that they understand everything that the deity has done. They can explore with wild abandon and an endlessly open mind all of creation without a confrontation to their faith. As an example, I would put forth Destin from ‘Smarter Every Day’

    If you don’t know who he is, then I can’t stress enough checking out his youtube channel. He is religious, even including passages from the bible into his videos. But as far as I can tell, he loves reality and god to such a degree that he accepts reality without doubting god. God created everything, but everything is so vast that he will never understand it all, but he delights in trying to understand it all. His passion for reality, for science, is so great that his personal religious beliefs are immaterial to the fact that he loves science. I can’t speak for him, but as far as I can tell, for him, science and religion hold no contradiction whatsoever.

    In my opinion (I will not say ‘in my humble opinion’ because, inmho, saying that you are humble negates one’s humility), faith transcends empirical reality, but does not negate that reality. To answer your question, I would say that you should stress that science is only about stating what is, as evidenced by what we can observe. A particular scientific idea may be wrong, or inaccurate, but we can only know that it is wrong or inaccurate through empirical evidence. Induction is paramount to the scientific endeavor.

    On a side note, I would like to congratulate you on your queasiness. It is only because you have compassion for your students that you would feel any uneasiness with contradicting their faith. So long as you have compassion I feel confident that you will continue to be an excellent teacher.

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  107. 107. Remus4 8:56 pm 01/23/2013

    I am a science instructor at a community college in the south, so it is fair to say that I have experienced first hand some of the opposition you described. I also want to applaud you for tackling the subject of evolution. I have come to realize that many teachers avoid it like the plague and some even teach against evolution. One might say that my methods of teaching this contentious subject have evolved, so I will share with you some things I do to help my students understand the concept. One lesson I did a while back that might be of particular interest to you in your courses is one I called “How we know what we know”. In this lesson, students researched different people who have contributed to science including Aristotle, Newton, Copernicus, Galileo, Darwin and others. All of these men met with opposition to their ideas, mostly on religious grounds, and it took many years for the public to accept their ideas. This highlights that the publics opposition to certain scientific concepts is not rare or unusual, but instead it’s the norm.

    As far as teaching straight up evolution is concerned, you must set the stage by making sure students first understand what a “scientific theory” is versus how we use the word in lay terms. Be sure to stress that a theory is not in and of itself a fact but rather an explanation for all the facts that have been gathered about a particular subject at a particular time. Then you are ready to present the evidence. It is here that you may want to do some research on your own. I noticed that you mention evolution through natural selection which was how Darwin explained evolution. There are other means by which populations evolve. Other necessary components. For instance, evolution is really just a change in allele frequency in a population over time. Therefore, the alleles must either already exist in the population or they come about as random mutations. One example is how the human population was shorter 200 years ago than it is today. That doesn’t mean every human 200 years ago was shorter than every human today, but that for some reason the alleles for taller individuals has been “favored” over the alleles for shorter individuals. The variation already existed within the gene pool. Of course, speciation is a little different. It requires reproductive isolation with one group being split, and then the two evolving independently as they adapt to the pressures of their different environments. Having a thorough understanding of evolution will bolster your confidence in teaching it.

    You must keep in mind though that it is not your job to change their religious beliefs. People are free to believe whatever they want. It is your job encourage students to look at everything critically, to encourage them to at least weigh the facts before making a decision, and give them the tools to do that.

    Overall, my students, even the very religious respect the fact I am willing to give them the facts so they can make informed decisions.

    Good luck in your endeavors!

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  108. 108. mintrose 1:37 am 04/12/2013

    i have a particular dilemma in that i have chosen to become a Biology 6-12 teacher as a career-changer after raising my kids and returning to college. it is a critical shortage area in a subject that i am passionate about, so i am giving it a go. i have been an assistant pre-school teacher for over 24 years in a Jewish orthodox yeshiva, where i felt right at home. fast forward to my degree now and i am hard pressed to think how i am going to present views (on evolution) that i don’t believe in. i love biology and the life sciences, and attribute the magnificance of life and nature to a brilliant Supreme Being, aka G-d. i do not feel that giving credit to a Creator contradicts the main scientific material necessary to teach this course. the only obstacle seems to be how the teaching material is promoted and enforced.

    Biology 6-12 is a remarkable degree and a remarkable subject that students would love to learn in an environment that truly encourages an appreciation of life. the only thing missing is a welcoming attitude from the Departments of Education to teachers of all religious persuasions, allowing them to retain their own ideas of the origin of creation. after all, no one was there to tell it exactly how it happened. it is all speculation to a large degree. we should be able to embrace everyone’s theory, religious and otherwise, regarding creation while still maintaining high educational standards.

    there are enough challenges out there already teaching these grades and keeping these young people in the classrooms. restricting and redefining the beliefs about creation of dedicated and qualified teachers shouldn’t be one of them.

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  109. 109. sfdbasfdbfadsbfdsb 4:11 pm 05/31/2013

    They should say, CONGRATULATIONS, YOU CAN ACTUALLY USE YOUR BRAIN AND SEE THAT EVOLUTION IS FUCKING RIDICULOUS AND ONLY THREE KINDS OF PEOPLE COULD BELIEVE IN IT:
    1) THE IGNORANT (DON’T KNOW THE FACTS),
    2) THE IDIOTS (CAN’T UNDERSTAND THE FACTS), AND
    3) THE FOOLS (SEE THE FACTS BUT REFUSE TO ACCEPT LOGIC).

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  110. 110. Leroy2u 10:30 pm 08/12/2013

    I liked the idea of “The Genesis Code”, where Darwin and God collide, so to speak, both are possible factual, a good read and good movie

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  111. 111. zeplinair 10:08 pm 08/26/2013

    Thanks for quoting Richard Dawkins (and his meaning) out of context and misrepresenting (and exaggerating) the meaning.

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  112. 112. zeplinair 11:25 pm 08/26/2013

    “…I point out that some religion-bashing Darwinians exaggerate the power of evolutionary theory.”

    I am sorry, the power of the theory weaves its implications through EVERY aspect of biology.

    “The theory doesn’t explain why life, after remaining single-celled for more than 2 billion years, suddenly spawned multi-cellular organisms, including one exceedingly strange mammal capable of pondering its own origins”

    Umm…actually, it does… And I would say the growth of complexity followed a geometric curve…that starts out slow…

    “Even when bolstered by modern genetics, evolutionary theory does not explain why life emerged on Earth…”

    As stated by Darwin himself, It was never meant to. It explains the forces that change life after its (or precursor that evolution could act on) appearance.

    But this gap is no consolation to the ‘God of the gaps’. Regardless that the factually correct(and humble)answer is ‘I (we) don’t know’, history shows as science advances shrinking gaps spit God(s)out of the physical story. How life first arose will likely be one of those shrinking gaps.

    If one wants to add a subtle poetic god into the story of life without changing one iota of science-well these types of religious people are not the problem; the problem being arbitrarily rejecting science, which is dangerous for society, people and policy, compromises science education, which compromises our future.

    Asking staunch religious literalists to make peace between science and their particular brand of religion is necessary in science education, but it is often asking them to square a circle. I have seen many blackmailed by damnation, hellfire and family/community relations, unable to have an reasoned discussion. They have to reject science.

    What I would say to such a student is: “Whatever you believe is your business and right. But in this class, per state standards, you will be tested on, and be expected to produce work that shows, accurate and complete understanding of the content of this course, including the parts you don’t agree with, or you will hurt your grade.” (note-this is high school biology)

    I believe in an evolutionary focus for teaching biology in that it gives a natural framework that meaningfully structures and justifies the content. Such a student in my class could not hope to grit their teeth through just a single unit.

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  113. 113. Megadon357 4:56 am 10/25/2013

    For any interested, Dr. John Sailhammer (Southern Baptist Professor of Hebrew and Old Testament) has demonstrated that a literal understanding of Genesis is nowise incompatable with scientific discovery.

    Genesis Unbound. From the back cover:

    “DO I REALLY HAVE TO CHOOSE BETWEEN RELIGION AND SCIENCE? In this ground-breaking work, Old Testament scholar John Sailhamer shines new light on the opening chapters of the Bible, revealing how centuries-old misunderstandings have continued to shape popular biblical interpretation as well as greatly contributing to unnecessary conflicts between the Bible and science. Pointing to answers found in the first two chapters of Genesis, Sailhamer presents a credible, scripturally supported, and much-needed explanation that opens the door to reconciliation of biblical and scientific world views. No matter what your position or background, you will be challenged to test your understanding of the Bible s critical opening sentences and reexamine your beliefs about the creation of the world through Genesis Unbound.”

    http://www.amazon.com/Genesis-Unbound-Maya-Davis-Sailhamer/dp/1935651218/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1382691136&sr=1-1&keywords=genesis+unbound

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  114. 114. debij65 12:42 pm 07/23/2014

    I am glad to have found your article. I am a Christian and I have a very simplistic approach to my beliefs. I believe that some species do evolve but a better word would be that they can “adapt” to changing environments. I do not believe that this proves evolution. I do not believe animals and humans cross over and share any “cousins” that we are seperately “created” by God. I do not believe that species of animals can cross with other species either. Each one was made seperately as a “creation”. I found your article because recently my Son started 8th grade after being homeschooled. When we met the science teacher we were swo impressed with his classroom and he talked about what they would be l;earning and it all sounded so awesome. I am quite aware that a lot of people in the science field believe in evolution/The big bang etc. Before we left I said “Hey lets ask how he teaches evolution vs creation, or how does he teach THAT whole thing” Well I actuall y like that you encouraged your students to explain why they think their beliefs can be proven vs. evolution and what they “think” because isn’t “thinking” part of the main goal here?! Also I was surprised that the teacher we talked to (although quite a young guy) stated “well I teach what can be proven” Period no discussions?! So I pushed further “well my Son despises the theory of evolution” and yes I believe it is a theory (and a very weal one at that. I was surprised that this did not open up a grand discussion of how this will be an interestin g year indeedee then and I am sure there are other students like you and we will have some lively discusions this year then won’t we and oh parents do not worry, evolution will not be SHOVED down your childs throat (I reaslize there is common core and all but he did not even mention that) and I am unconcerned in the least that my Son is going to adopt evolution and turn away from God. But not even to acknowledge my Son’s beliefs and reassure him that there will be opportunity to tell about why you believe “creation” CAN be proven. and yes it can! Do you scientist who believe it can’t not ever see the world through the eyes of the artist and creationist that God is!? You are so busy in your left brain hemispheres that you refuse to be open to even the possibility of it. God says in his word. NO MAN WILL BE WITH AN EXCUSE TO NOT HAVE SEEN ME IN MY CREATION! I believe evolutionist are their own religion. So therefore many hide behind the teacher’s badge and try and shove their “religion” down our throats. and yes you should feel “slightly ill” when you do that to a student who is maybe in the faith but weak and you challenge them (not that Christianity can not withstand and hold it’s own when challenged) because your concious is telling you something. You know deep down inside that (like Darwin) you will suddenly question your beliefs on your death beds (those who have a bit of questions deep down like you do. I pray it will not take you till your death bed to cry out to God and say please show me that you are real (and he will) show me the truth God because I really want to know and not be closed to it! You will have no excuse when you stand before him. It is all there all around us every single day of our lives! An artist (God is the original that all come from) a creator, he is the one who created everything you see in science and think is cool. He is not your equal. He is GOD!

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