Sunday, March 12, 2006

Darwin smacked in new U.S. poll, etc

Darwin smacked in new U.S. poll: Whopping 69 percent of Americans want alternate theories in classroom, WorldNetDaily, March 7, 2006 ... A new poll shows 69 percent of Americans believe public school teachers should present both the evidence for and against Darwinian evolution. The Zogby International survey indicated only 21 percent think biology teachers should teach only Darwin's theory of evolution and the scientific evidence that supports it. A majority of Americans from every sub-group were at least twice as likely to prefer this approach to science education, the Zogby study showed. About 88 percent of Americans 18-29 years old were in support, along with 73 percent of Republicans and 74 percent of independent voters. Others who strongly support teaching the strengths and weaknesses of evolutionary theory include African-Americans (69 percent), 35-54 year-olds (70 percent) and Democrats (60 percent). ... [It is noteworthy that the USA secular media seem to have ignored this completely, a Google search on "Zogby" + "evolution" returning only hits in India and at Christian and ID sites. This 69% of all Americans who want "the evidence for and against Darwinian evolution" to be taught in schools is a marked increase on the Zogby poll's ~64% in 2000. Even Democrats (60%) were strongly in favour, so it can hardly be claimed that only the so-called "religious right" want students to be taught the problems of evolution and its main alternatives. But it is the overwhelming (88%) support among 18-29 year olds that must really be a worry for the Darwinists and provide encouragement for the ID movement that inevitably the courts are going to start reflecting the majority view of the USA public on this issue. See also next item.]

Creationism to be taught on GCSE science syllabus: Exam board is accused of confusing pupils by including religion, The Times, March 10, 2006, Tony Halpin, AN EXAMINATIONS board is including references to ...creationism... in a new GCSE science course for schools. The OCR board admitted that a biology course due to be introduced in September encourages schools to consider alternative views to Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. Its new "Gateway to Science" curriculum asks pupils to examine how organisms become fossilised. It then asks teachers to ...explain that the fossil record has been interpreted differently over time (eg creationist interpretation).... OCR, one of the three main exam boards in England, said that the syllabus was intended to make students aware of scientific controversy. But critics accused the board of blurring the line between science and religious education by putting creationism into lessons alongside evolution. A spokeswoman for OCR said: ...Candidates need to understand the social and historical context to scientific ideas both pre and post Darwin. Candidates are asked to discuss why the opponents of Darwinism thought the way they did and how scientific controversies can arise from different ways of interpreting empirical evidence.... John Noel, OCR's science qualifications manager [said] ... "It is simply looking at one particular example of how scientific interpretation changes over time. The history of scientific ideas not only has a legitimate place in science lessons, it is a requirement of the new programme of study." But James Williams, science course leader at Sussex University's school of education, said: "This opens a legitimate gate for the inclusion of creationism or intelligent design in science classes as if they were legitimate theories on a par with evolution fact and theory. I'm happy for religious theories to be considered in religious education, but not in science where consideration could lead to a false verification of their status as being equal to scientific theories." ... [See also BBC, The Guardian and the OCR. If the goal of education is to help students understand issues they will encounter as citizens in the adult world, then this is a step in the right direction. It will also highlight the incongruity of the situation in the USA, supposedly the world's exemplar of free speech, where a series of bizarre interpretations of the US Constitution's First Amendment prohibiting the Federal legislature establishing a State religion, means that USA students are not allowed to find out officially in school what they can find out on the Internet or in the newspapers, that there are in fact "alternative views to Charles Darwin's theory of evolution"!]

Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol).
"Problems of Evolution"

"Still, in so important a matter, it is to be regretted that he [Darwin] did not take the trouble to distinguish between such merely popular notions [of creation] and those which repose upon some more venerable authority. ... Instead of so doing, he seems to adopt the narrowest notions of his opponents, and, far from endeavouring to expand them, appears to wish to endorse them and to lend to them the weight of his authority. It is thus that Mr. Darwin seems to admit and assume, that the idea of `creation' necessitates a belief in an interference with or dispensation of, natural laws, and that `creation' must be accompanied by arbitrary and unorderly phenomena. None but the crudest conceptions are placed by him to the credit of supporters of the dogma of creation, and is constantly asserted that they, to be consistent, must offer `creative fiats' as explanations of physical phenomena, and be guilty of numerous other such absurdities. It is impossible, therefore, to acquit Mr. Darwin of at least a certain carelessness in this matter; and the result is, he has the appearance of opposing ideas which he gives no clear evidence of having ever fully appreciated. He is far from being alone in this, and perhaps merely takes up and reiterates, without much consideration, assertions previously put, forth by others." (Mivart S.J., "On the Genesis of Species," Macmillan & Co: London & New York, Second edition, 1871, p.18)

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