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Should creationism be taught in schools?

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Chris OConnor

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Should creationism be taught in schools?

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Should creationism be taught in schools?While surfing on another message board I came across an interesting discussion thread about this subject. The author posed the question and then identified himself as an atheist. His opinion is that teaching creationism, as a competing viewpoint on human origins, might help to expose its sillyness to children. The topic might stimulate discussion and get the kids asking tough questions.Quote:Currently, when a biblically raised student challenges a biology teacher, the best the teacher can do is say that the question raised requires a theological answer and he/she is not permitted to go there.If CID were taught children (hopefully) would question the basic premises. When the teacher brings up the topic of the complexity of the human eye, perhaps one child would ask why an eagle's eye is better than a human's. Or why, if an intelligent designer created human eyes, many human eyes aren't very good to begin with and get worse as time goes on. Perhaps one would raise the question of the malaria virus and the mosquito. Why would a CID create a virus and the mosquito that carries it from victim to victim? Why would a CID create something that kills millions of people, most of them innocent children, every year?I would put the only one constraint on teaching CID: The instructor would not be allowed to answer any question with any variation of "God works in mysterious ways".So what do you guys think? Obviously creationism wouldn't be taught as a science or even a philosophy. Jesus, what would it be then?Chris
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Dissident Heart

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Re: Should creationism be taught in schools?

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Here's something from Rabbi Michael Lerner's book Spirit Matters in a chapter titled, "The Spiritual Transformation of Education".Quote:Let awe and wonder be the first goals of education. Let our teachers be judged on how successful they are at generating students who can respond to the universe, each other, and their own bodies with awe, wonder, and radical amazement at the miracles that are daily with us. I don't mean teaching students about awe and wonder as a new subject matter, memorizing facts and passing objective tests. Rather, I mean we should teach students to actually embody awe and wonder in the ways that approach their own experience of the universe.This approach forces teacher, parent, student, school and surrounding communtiy to address their basic, core fundamental assumptions regarding the purpose and value of education: why study these subjects, to what end, for what purpose and with what goals in mind? I, for one, do not see these questions as finally, totally and completely answered...nor do I remember ever being allowed to critically and actively engage them through my formative education years.Imagine the student considering: what is sacred about this knowledge I am gaining at school; what, if any, is my holy task in applying these tools to my self and the world around me; what is beautiful, good and true about the curriculum my teachers have surrounded and challenged me with?What is good, beautiful, true, sacred and holy about my teachers, my peers, my vocational and professional trajectories of study?Lerner adds, placing this essay within the larger "Emancipatory Spirituality" context of Spirit Matters, Quote:So pedagogy itself must change. It must be directed at engaging the student in asking critical questions and learning to see the possibilities in every given actuality. Even the deepest spiritual truths are of little value if taught as a new catechism. Unless students are awakened to do their own thinking and exploring, much of the rest of what we teach is going to be useless, no matter how wonderful its content. It's not enough to see through the phoniness or moral vacuity of what is-we must also learn how to act in the world to change it. For that reason, students must be given opportunities to become involved in social change activities as part of their education. Reflecting on that activity, learning to think about the strengths and weaknesses of their own actions, can be an important element in preparing students for participation in democratic transformation.Emancipatory Spirituality adds another element into the mix: we want students to be lovingly critical-to bring a spirit of compassion and love to the act of criticism and the practice of social transformation. We need not approach contemporary reality drenched in anger and upset, but rather with a deep knowledge that what has happened so far in history and in the organization of our society can provide us with a springboard for a deep healing and transformation of all that is.This is the direction I think the discussion should go, and it is a way that most students, parents, teachers and communities can sink their teeth into...without tearing each other apart.Hopefully......
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Re: Should creationism be taught in schools?

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So I guess that's a Yes?
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Re: Should creationism be taught in schools?

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Private schools can teach CID in religion class. NOTHING relating to religion or theistic creation should be taught in public school.Mr. P. The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.The pain in hell has two sides. The kind you can touch with your hand; the kind you can feel in your heart...Scorsese's "Mean Streets"I came to kick ass and chew Bubble Gum...and I am all out of Bubble Gum - They Live, Roddy Piper
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Re: Should creationism be taught in schools?

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Mr. P: NOTHING relating to religion or theistic creation should be taught in public school.Teacher: Today, class, we will examine the Civil Rights movement; place it historical context, examine some of the key players, explore their motivations, some of the things they said and did, the immediate impact on society, culture, politics, and the long term implications we are dealing with today. Let's see, where shall we start....Student: What kind of Doctor was Dr. King?Teacher: Well, ahem, I shouldn't really discuss this, but he was a Doctor of Ministry and Theology; a Reverend in the Christian Church denomination known as "Southern Baptist". But, that's really all I can talk about...you know, no religion in Public Schools and all.Student: What are all of these songs they keep singing when they're marching, sitting in, protesting, going to jail?Teacher: Yes, the songs...well, those are called Negro Spirituals. They were traditional performances drawn from the Hebrew Bible and New Testament, Worship Hymnals, daily prayers, largely from the Psalms. But, I can't really discuss with you what they meant, how they impacted the community, or what importance they had in their personal and communal lives. And, I certainly can't discuss if any of you have any connection to them, or have sung them in Church or Synagogue, or have any personal stories to tell of family members who remember how important they were in those days.Student: When I see pictures of these people marching, I see pictures of men with funny white collars, or little round hats on their heads, and I see a lot of signs with Bible verses on them and they are repeating them? What's up?Teacher: Yes, collars and hats and Bible verses. Ahem, the collars belong to men who are Priests, maybe Episcopalian or Roman Catholic; and the little hats are Jewish and are called yarmulkes in Yiddish or Kippahs in Hebrew. And the verses were drawn from voices of hope, justice and promises of a better tomorrow within the many books of the Bible.Student: What does it mean to be Jewish, or Roman Catholic, or Episcopalian? And why were they using the Bible to select words from?Teacher: Well, these are all very interesting questions...but we won't be exploring them today, or any day. This is Public School, and we don't teach religion here.
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Re: Should creationism be taught in schools?

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Perfect example. Thanks Dissident!I did mean as regards creationism as opposed to real science, since that was the topic. Also, I am all for giving the INDIVIDUAL credit, as in the case of Dr. King. He was a great man, and I dare say would have been with or without religion. Great people are among all faiths, or lack thereof.Then there is the fact that religious institutions actually supported slavery...we can teach that as well.Mr. P. The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.The pain in hell has two sides. The kind you can touch with your hand; the kind you can feel in your heart...Scorsese's "Mean Streets"I came to kick ass and chew Bubble Gum...and I am all out of Bubble Gum - They Live, Roddy PiperEdited by: misterpessimistic  at: 8/2/05 1:35 pm
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Re: Should creationism be taught in schools?

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I think science is poorly handled in most schools anyway. It should be presented much as it is handled in the professional field -- with the constant push and pull of debate. If Creationism comes up, I don't see why it shouldn't be dealt with according to the methodology of science. The problem isn't what's being introduced in the classroom, but that children aren't really being taught about the methodology of science. There are of course praiseworthy exceptions, but my experience is that science is being taught as an acculumation of facts bolstered by a sort of abstract authority. Ask kids whether they ought to believe in evolution or Creationism, and you can at least count on a positive answer one way or another -- they know, for the most part, what they ought to believe. Ask them why they ought to believe it, on the other hand, and you're unlikely to have the answer returned to you, that a particular methodology supports those conclusions, oh, and this is the methodology...Most kids don't even know what science is -- I see no real reason that they should be taught science until they know at least that, unless, of course, science is, for most people, merely another form of social indoctrination.
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MA: Most kids don't even know what science is -- I see no real reason that they should be taught science until they know at least that, unless, of course, science is, for most people, merely another form of social indoctrination.I think a very strong and compelling case can be made that social indoctrination is inescapable in any classroom. The selection of subject matter, management of classroom discipline, ways that questions are asked and answers received, organization of time, assessment of content knowledge and skills aptitude, etc...all of these reflect intentional and unintentional social demands and cultural values. There is no "clean slate" classroom.My initial post was directed at challenging students to ask why and for what purpose to learn science and think scientifically. The students are encouraged to find the beauty and meaning of the tasks, projects, and lessons and construct purpose and value for their new found knowledge. So what do I do with knowledge that life arises from x, develops into y, and will probably become z: what does this information mean to my person, family, community, planet; past, present, future; how should I employ it to increase the beauty around me, confront the injustices and miseries of the world, and help me to come to grips with my own shortcomings, tragedies, failures, broken hearts, and successes?
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Re: Should creationism be taught in schools?

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Dissident Heart: I think a very strong and compelling case can be made that social indoctrination is inescapable in any classroom.Unvoidable, fine. But should it be the modus operandi of a an attempt to teach a discipline that claims to arrive at a surer knowledge by the reasoned consideration of competing claims? It seems almost satirical to me that people would oppose allowing students of science the opportunity to consider a competing idea, to forbid, in other words, the opportunity for kids to actually practice science, as they practice mathematics. But then, the debate has never really been about what topics students should address -- it's about what they should be taught to believe, not the opportunity to decide belief for one's self. And it can never be about the practice of science -- which would, of course, ultimately reject the claims of Creationism as either unsubstantiated or unscientific -- until students are taught what it means to do so.So what do I do with knowledge that life arises from x, develops into y, and will probably become z: what does this information mean to my person, family, community, planet; past, present, future; how should I employ it to increase the beauty around me, confront the injustices and miseries of the world, and help me to come to grips with my own shortcomings, tragedies, failures, broken hearts, and successes?Those questions do not seem, to me, to fall into the perview of science. Religion, philosophy, art, literature, perhaps even anthropology and sociology can all ask those questions, and frame their consideration of each in light of the findings of science. But science itself is not equipped to deal with questions of meaning, value (save in a strictly quantitative sense), beauty or justice.
Ken Hemingway

Re: Should creationism be taught in schools?

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People talk about "teaching" Intelligent Design. But what is there to teach? Assume, for the moment that we take as given the "facts of evolution" - i.e. the dating of the fossil record which shows that primitive species existed on Earth some 3.8 billion years ago, while many other species appear at later dates. (ID people tend not to deny this flat out, but they don't seem to want to talk about it much.)So what is the ID claim about a species that appears, say, 100 million years ago. Did the first members of the species not have any parents? Did the IDer somehow sneak them into a niche in an ecosystem? Or did It (the IDer) do it by messing around with the DNA of some embryonic cells so that the offspring turned out to be very different from the parent? He might have done this in several stages, but that seems unlikely because of the claimed problem of irreducible complexity. These first two options end up being pretty much the same - first members of new species magically appear at some point in history, pretty much out of nowhere (except the IDer's Intelligence). Does this still happen? If so, maybe we could catch It doing it? If not, why not?The official Catholic option - that evolution did occur pretty much as Science describes it, but God designed the process - appears to be unacceptable to ID folks, so that is not what they are saying.It seems to me that ID is not saying anything. It is not an alternative explanation of how species are formed. It is just an objection to the Evolutionary theory that says "I don't believe that!" To claim that there must have been a Designer but have no account whatsoever of where and when and how the designing and execution took place, is not to have an alternate theory. It seems to be simply a demand that teachers should offer (frequently) the interjection "But not everybody believes this."I guess there's not much harm in that - it's not like the kids will never have heard it before.
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