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Teaching evolution, creationism & intelligent design

News during 2008

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Developments during 2008:

bullet2008-FEB: Ben Stein's documentary "Expelled: No intelligence allowed:" The movie was released in 2008-FEB to movie theatres across North America. It was very well received by religious and social conservatives, and heavily panned by scientists. 1

Michael Shermer wrote a review of Ben Stein's movie: "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed." Shermer wrote:

"Expelled?s exegesis is this: Darwinism leads to atheism, communism, fascism and a repetition of the Holocaust. We are in an ideological war between a scientific, natural worldview that leads to the Gulag Archipelago and Nazi gas chambers and a religious, supernatural worldview that leads to freedom, justice and the American way. Expelling intelligent design from American classrooms and culture will inexorably take us down a path of doom, and the film?s blunt editing intersperses interview snippets from evolutionary biologists with black-and-white clips of, in ascending scale of ominousness, bullies pounding on a 98-pound weakling; Charlton Heston?s character in Planet of the Apes being blasted by a water hose by a gorilla thug; Nikita Khrushchev pounding his fist on a United Nations desk; East Germans captured trying to scale the Berlin Wall; and Nazi crematoria remains and Holocaust victims being bulldozed into mass graves. The formula is unmistakable: Darwinism = death." 2,3

More details about the movie.

bullet2008-FEB-22: FL: Florida schools to teach evolution, but only as a "theory:" The Florida Board of Education approved new science teaching standards that include the term "evolution" for the first time ever. They revised an earlier set of standards set in 1996. A last minute amendment changed the teaching of evolution to: "teaching the scientific theory of evolution." Mary Jane Tappen, executive director of Florida's Office of Math and Science, quickly obtained feedback from the standards writers. They voted 29 to 9 for the original working and against the revision. However, the board overruled the experts by a vote of 4 to 3.

Many supporters of the teaching of evolution objected to the term "theory" because it has two meanings.
bulletIn science it means a rigorously held concept well supported by evidence -- as close to established fact as science gets.
bulletIn general usage it means an unverified idea; a possible suggestion. 4
bullet2008-APR-01: MO: Bill introduced to teach skepticism of evolution: State house bill 2554 was read for the first time on April Fools day, but did not proceed to a vote. It would have required public schools to encourage:

"... students to explore scientific questions, learn about scientific evidence, develop critical thinking skills, and respond appropriately and respectfully to differences of opinion about controversial issues, including such subjects as the teaching of biological and chemical evolution. Such educational authorities in this state shall also endeavor to assist teachers to find more effective ways to present the science curriculum where it addresses scientific controversies. Toward this end, teachers shall be permitted to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of theories of biological and chemical evolution.

The bill does not authorize teaching children skeptical techniques for analyzing Intelligent Design or creationism. It solely attacks evolution.

Heather Wax at Science & Religion Today comments: "Keep in mind that evolution is not a point of controversy or debate in the scientific community." 7

bullet2008-MAY-21: Hearing at the Louisiana state legislature re: ID: Barbara Forrest, a professor of philosophy at Southeastern Louisiana University and an expert in the history of creationism, testified on the proposed Science Education Act. It would permit teachers and school boards to teach non-scientific alternatives to evolution, including  intelligent design (ID)

The act lists evolution, global warming, the origins of life, and human cloning as worthy of "open and objective discussion." She criticized this provision as an attempt to misrepresent evolution as being scientifically controversial.

The bill was later passed by the state's legislature: by 94 to 3 in the House and by unanimous vote in the Senate.

On 28 June, Governor, Piyush "Bobby" Jindal (R), signed the bill into law. 5

References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Ben Stein Expelled: No intelligence allowed." The official web site is at: http://www.expelledthemovie.com/
  2. John Rennie, Michael Shermer & Steve Mirsky, "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed--Scientific American's Take," Scientific American, 2008-APR-09, at: http://www.sciam.com/
  3. Michael Schrmer, "Ben Stein's Expelled Exposed," Scientific American, 2008-JUN, at: http://www.sciam.com/
  4. "Florida Schools Will Teach Evolution, but with 'Theory' Caveat," PBS News Hour, 2008-FEB-22, at: http://www.pbs.org/
  5. Amanda Gefter, "New legal threat to teaching evolution in the US," New Scientist, 2008-JUL-09, at: http://www.newscientist.com/
  6. "An act ... relating to teacher academic freedom to teach scientific evidence regarding evolution," Missouri Legislature, at: http://www.house.mo.gov/
  7. Heather Wax, "Missouri's 'Academic Freedom Act'," Science & Religion Today, 2008-APR-07, at: http://scienceandreligiontoday.blogspot.com/

Site navigation: Home > "Hot"  topics > Evolution/Creation > Teaching > here

Copyright © 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2008-JAN
Latest update: 2009-FEB-20
Author: B.A. Robinson

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