Thursday, March 26, 2009

Why fight it?

AUSTIN — The fight over how evolution is taught in Texas public schools is heading for a showdown this week.

I've been hearing about this for some time on the news, and today I looked it up, to find the above in an article by Gary Sharrer of the San Antonio Express-News. I do not intend to dwell on the article at length, but just what are they fighting about? link

Are they teaching evolution in schools now? Teaching evolution to me seems about as ludicrous as teaching abstinence. One cannot be taught how to evolve, and one cannot be taught how to abstain. When I went to school, evolution was definitely not taught, yet I feel my grasp of biology is probably as good an any layman's. My oldest daughter, who started school about twenty-eight years later than I, has told me that she didn't think the subject of evolution came up in her science classes either.

Science is based on the scientific method, which involves observation, and as facts are discovered through observation, they're included in the list of details available. Some of these facts are often later found to be inadequate or faulty, and they are discarded (often reluctantly) when their inadequacy is proven. That's what science is all about, isn't it? Dogma is supporting the infallibility of a set of concepts, whether or not they withstand scrutiny. Although some have described science as dogma, I do not believe that to be so, and there's no place for dogma in public schools.

By definition, the scientific method requires observation and scrutiny. It's reasonable to assume that old, hard won theories are hard to let go, even after they've failed the final test of scrutiny. But that's what science is all about! There are humans involved, and you all know that my "theory" is that every human creates his own universe, including all aspects of life. "The world would be a better place if everyone were like me", can be used to summarize humanity.

So where is this going? Nowhere, really. I only meant to comment on a state school board decision it rescind a twenty-year-old requirement that "strengths and weaknesses" of scientific theory be taught in public schools. It should be understood that scientific theory has strengths and weaknesses, and it's right there in the study of science, by definition. If science actually becomes dogma, it's dead in the water! There's no advancement in scientific theory if all the answers are already "found".

I was reading only last evening, an article of some archaeological digs in our local area of central Texas which aim to dispute the theory of how long man has been on this continent. And if they actually accomplish their goal of disproving an eighty-year-old theory, there's a good chance that they will themselves be questioned and disproved by other scientists in the future.


For some comic relief to all this dull scientific jargon, I'd like to submit this little piece I found which, I think, helps to support my "theory" that "History is a matter of opinion", and any recorded history will include the author's point of view. link


Rie Sheridan Rose said...

You sure it was your eldest daughter? I am pretty sure someone somewhere discussed the theory of evolution in some class, but I don't really remember the details. I have forgotten a lot of my school days...crowded out by other stuff, I guess. ;)

Willie C said...

Well, we could all be a little wrong. You 'stinkly said that you didn't remember studying about evolution in school, but I suppose that, even when you were at SWT, you could have "forgotten" about your grade school education.

I know people with teflon minds who can't even remember what they had for breakfast. (Now, where did I put my mouse?)

I would imagine that mentioning evolution is not the same as "teaching evolution as fact". It would not be scientific to teach it as fact.....;^}