Accept science on faith?
Re: "'Evaluate' called code for creationism -- Evolution backers, opponents testify on science curriculum," Wednesday Metro & State story.
It seems the science community is concerned that allowing students to critically examine various theories of how the world came to be might open the door to conclusions other than pure science. It appears they're telling students to accept simply on faith that what is being presented is absolute fact.
But aren't students supposed to be taught critical thinking as a part of their education? Are scientists worried about them learning that skill? Won't that make them better scientists, should they choose to go into that field? If they are asking students to take completely on faith that what they teach us is absolutely true, how is that different than a worldview that Christianity, or any other worldview, might teach?
It doesn't appear, at least from this discussion, that they're much different.
Ralph Reddick, Celina
Debate requires knowledge
One cannot simply dismiss sincere belief. It is fundamental to human nature and from it springs knowledge, which raises us up. But the latter takes work, study and honest evaluation.
The creationists' continual diminution of science would be more annoyance than deceitful if it were not for the fact that insisting on a belief that denies fact is a glorification of and justification for ignorance.
The creationist camp wants to ensure that evolution be evaluated by students, their teachers and themselves. Debated, yes. But evaluated? They who could not explain how a refrigerator cools milk or why the sky is often red rather than blue at sunset or what it is that keeps an airplane in flight or, for a more immediate application, why traces of radioactive carbon can date objects, are to be presumed to know what is in God's mind and how the world really works?
If debate is what they wish, that requires knowledge and the ability to convey it, not rote repetition of authority.
Robert M. Lebovitz, North Dallas
Story missed point of hearing
I sat directly behind your reporter, Eva-Marie Ayala, as she covered this event. She heard 26 individuals testify. Only two of them focused on the long-discredited argument that the issue is creationism vs. evolution. How in the world could that be your headline?
SMU's Dr. Ron Wetherington presented well-balanced opening remarks. Neither creationism nor denial of evolution was mentioned.
The ultimate issue was the appropriateness of the term evaluate in several of the biology curriculum standards, but this was not debated in the context of evolution denial. The fundamental issue was pedagogical. How should current evolutionary understanding be appropriately presented to ninth-grade biology students? Those on my side argued against overstating the plausibility of any of the various postulated explanations currently on offer for a material origin and further diversification of life.
It boiled down in the end that a solution satisfactory to most would replace evaluate with some softer expression with quite similar implications. That would still allow biology teachers to make clear to students that there remains a great deal to be learned about evolution.
Ide Trotter, Duncanville
Re: "Evolution lesson -- Robert J. Marks: Texas should let kids use critical analysis to explore whether Darwin got it right," Tuesday Viewpoints.
This column takes neo-Darwinians to task for their inability to come up with a mathematical model for Darwin's The Origin of Species. Tucked away in the prologue to the work is Darwin's thesis for his entire work, namely that critters have the ability to adapt. What kind of God would not equip critters with the ability to adapt in a world that is constantly changing? Darwin was simply observing that adaptability in action.
John D. Zeigler, Denton
No doubt about evolution
Professor Marks may not be able to model the creation of life on a computer, but life still exists. The professors at Baylor may not have created artificial intelligence, but natural intelligence continues to exist. The mathematical modeling of biological evolution has progressed immensely from the time of Darwin and accurately predicts how traits will change over time.
Scientists may continue to argue about the details of evolution and continue to increase our understanding of the process of evolution -- that's our job. We do know, however, without a doubt, that the diversity of life developed, and continues to develop, through unguided evolution. We have consistently observed this process and have consistently been able to mathematically predict how evolution occurs in the real world.
Deborah Fripp, Carrollton
It's natural selection
At the peril of being labeled a neo-Darwinian, let me first assert that this essay is further proof that as long as people will pay for garbage, someone will produce it.
What Darwin spoke of was not evolution. He posited natural selection. Mathematical formulas do not apply when the subject is survival of the fittest. The only numerical imperative involved is millions, and that's a difficult concept for many of us. Time's a cruel concept: So much of it passed before we got here, and so much will pass once we're gone.
Please look at Darwin's finches. Being biological entities rather than computers doing simulations, if they did not have the necessary type of beak to get food in the area they inhabited, they died. They did not reproduce. They did not pass those traits on. This is why the same birds in different parts of the world have different beaks. Natural selection.
Cliff Stephens, East Dallas