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Teaching of evolution, creation science & intelligent design

A sampling of news during 2009

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Developments during 2009:

bullet 2009-JAN-13: MS: A bill to require disclaimer in text books: Rep. Gary Chism (R) in the Mississippi House of Representatives would require a deceptive disclaimer to be placed inside the front cover of every public school textbook that discusses evolution. It would say:

"The word “theory” has many meanings, including: systematically organized knowledge; abstract reasoning; a speculative idea or plan; or a systematic statement of principles. Scientific theories are based on both observations of the natural world and assumptions about the natural world. They are always subject to change in view of new and confirmed observations."

"This textbook discusses evolution, a controversial theory some scientists present as a scientific explanation for the origin of living things. No one was present when life first appeared on earth. Therefore, any statement about life’s origins should be considered a theory."

"Evolution refers to the unproven belief that random, undirected forces produced living things. There are many topics with unanswered questions about the origin of life which are not mentioned in your textbook, including: the sudden appearance of the major groups of animals in the fossil record (known as the Cambrian Explosion); the lack of new major groups of other living things appearing in the fossil record; the lack of transitional forms of major groups of plants and animals in the fossil record; and the complete and complex set of instructions for building a living body possessed by all living things."

"Study hard and keep an open mind." 6

bullet2009-FEB-19: MO Another attempt to pass an "academic freedom" bill: House Bill #656 1 has been introduced to the Misourri General Assembly. Like a similar bill in 2008, it encourages teachers to teah skepticism of evolution. However, this bill has a section attached that claims that it does not:

"... promote philosophical naturalism or biblical theology, promote natural cause or intelligent cause, promote undirected change or purposeful design, promote atheistic or theistic belief, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs or ideas, or promote discrimination for or against religion or nonreligion." 2

bullet2009-MAY-29: TX: Chairperson of the State Board of Education not reappointed: Don McLeroy, a dentist and a young earth creationist, has been rejected for reappointment as head of the State Board of Education. The senate vote was strictly on a party basis with all 19 Republicans voting for and all 11 Democrats voting against reappointment.

McLeroy had tried to weaken the discussion of evolution in the state's schools. Most recently, he promoted an amendment that would require students to: "describe the sufficiency or insufficiency of common ancestry to explain the sudden appearance, stasis and sequential nature of groups in the fossil record." He will remain a board member. Governor Rick Perry will now nominate a new chairperson. 3
 
bullet2009-NOV: USA: Living Waters Ministry to donate special version of "Origin of Species" to students: Living Waters will give 170,000 copies of Charles Darwin's book "Origin of Species" to students at 100 universities during November. It will contain a 50 page introduction that attempts to discredit the theory of evolution and the concept of the survival of the fittest. Living Waters' president, Ray Comfort, said:

"People are afraid, especially atheistic evolutionists, that their agenda is going to be exposed. Atheism is not intellectual. It's absolute foolishness to believe that nothing created everything."

Comfort appears to misunderstand the theory of evolution. It starts with a single living cell and attempts to explain how all of the species evolved from that cell. It has nothing to say whether God exists or whether God created the first cell, the Earth, the solar system or the universe. Evolution is quite compatible with either Theism or Atheism. 4
 

bullet2009-NOV-10: Vatican: Conference on extra-terrestrial life concludes: A five-day astrobiology conference was held at the Vatican. Rev. Jose Gabriel Funes, an astronomer and director of the Vatican Observatory, said: "The questions of life's origins and of whether life exists elsewhere in the universe are very suitable and deserve serious consideration." Chris Impey, an astronomy professor at the University of Arizona, said: "Both science and religion posit life as a special outcome of a vast and mostly inhospitable universe. There is a rich middle ground for dialogue between the practitioners of astrobiology and those who seek to understand the meaning of our existence in a biological universe. ... If biology is not unique to the Earth, or life elsewhere differs bio-chemically from our version, or we ever make contact with an intelligent species in the vastness of space, the implications for our self-image will be profound."

The Catholic Church has come a long way in the past four centuries. In 1600, Giordano Bruno was convicted of heresy and burned alive for speculating that other worlds could be inhabited and for holding other radical ideas. 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. "An act ... relating to teacher academic freedom to teach scientific evidence regarding evolution," Missouri Legislature, 2009, at: http://www.house.mo.gov/
  2. "Misouri's 'Acadmeic Freedom Act'," Science & Religion Today, 2009-FEB-18, at: http://scienceandreligiontoday.blogspot.com/
  3. "Bye Bye, Don McLeroy," Science & Religion Today mailing, 2009-MAY-29.
  4. "Origin of Species Gets a Facelift for 150th Anniversary," CitizenLink, Focus on the Family Action, 2009-OCT-27, at: http://www.citizenlink.org/
  5. Ariel David, "Vatican looks to heavens for signs of alien life," The Oakland Tribune, 2009-NOV-10. at: http://www.insidebayarea.com/
  6. "Mississippi's 'Textbook Disclaimer' Act," Science and Religion today, 2009-JAN-13, at: http://www.scienceandreligiontoday.com/

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

Copyright © 2009 & 2010 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2009-FEB-20
Latest update: 2010-FEB-09
Author: B.A. Robinson

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