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  • #16
    ala, post #3 answers all your questions in post #11.


    Originally posted by ala
    For the record, I believe that the present theory of evolution is the most plausible explanation for Homo sapiens.

    I don't know if "believe" is the right word but that is what scientists in the field are thinking too.

    Not all Christian based religions believe that intelligent design means no evolution. Many don’t believe in the 6000 year old Earth.

    I think most people know that.

    I believe the process of evolution is continuing as we speak and will continue to change us, perhaps better us, in the future. We may in time evolve into something unrecognizable by those of our present form. That does not mean that God isn’t the ultimate designer of this process nor does it mean that he doesn’t, even now, have a hand in guiding that process.

    That doesn't mean that Raël, Scientology or any kind of supposition is not true either. Science is progressing with evidence not with what we believe in or wish for.

    I wonder how wrong it is for teachers to teach other explanations for why we are here. After all, there are many works of literature that give alternate explanations for why we are here and where we are going. Some of them (really good ones) include a deity. Should we ban those works?

    You know very well that no one here wants any works to be banned. Science and nothing else should be taught in "science class". Do you think that raeliens teachers should be allowed to present their beliefs as an alternative to their students in science class? The day the intelligent design crowd, if ever, comes out with a real body of scientific work then maybe it will be something to discuss in science class. Until then ... no.

    Wise said that he thinks that most teachers probably aren’t qualified to teach these other explanations. Funny, but I don’t think he had problem with the qualifications of teachers when they were teaching from the perspective sanctioned by scientists and academics. You know Wise…the perspective YOU believe in.

    What kind of an argument is that? The decision as to what should be included as material to be taught in science class has been taken by people that are qualified to make that choice no matter who is teaching it.

    If the debate doesn’t belong in schools, where does it belong? Children must be taught critical thinking and abstract concepts at some point. They also must be taught to do this thinking independently. Don’t we agree? So I would say that this important debate is not only desirable at some point in schools; it is necessary. I just don’t believe that waving off this debate as irrelevant is in the best interest of our future selves.

    I don't see how teaching real science prevents children to develop critical thinking or to learn how to think independently. I was not taught ID in school (were you?) and I think I can think critically and independently.
    Pharmacist, C4-5 injury but functional C6 (no triceps/flexors)

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    • #17
      grade school years

      debating evolution in an under funded system.
      darwin, religion, physics.
      who really developed their opinion on this based on what they were taught in grade school? it is almost laughable that the argument exists. people are smarter than this debate notes. feeding children a right or wrong mindset is the misstep. admitting that the best you have as an adult is still conjecture is a true gift to the youth. all ideas are welcome as long as an open mind is in place. railroading people into any train of thought confounds progress.
      Last edited by Darren; 06-28-2008, 11:57 PM.

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      • #18
        Originally posted by ala
        You have earned a reputation for yourself here as a thoughtful, reverential man, perhaps a well earned reputation; and yet, you just dismiss a colleague’s opinion as irrelevant? That doesn’t sound very open-mined or respectful.

        Maybe we arrogant religious have more in common with you than you care to admit.
        ala,

        I am not dismissing a colleague's argument as being irrelevant, nor have I ever claimed that religious are "arrogant". I was saying that my colleague is wrong even though he is a great neurosurgeon, to make the point that debate is difficult even amongst well-educated academics. I am concerned that the "debate" will not be adequately presented by a biology teacher.

        Let's take another example that has not yet been brought up but is looming on the horizon. During the past two years, we have had significant stem cell debate at Rutgers, where we brought some of the most outspoken and eloquent defenders of the stem cell issue to talk about the ethics of stem cell research.

        The debate was great for our college students but I would suggest that it would not be an easy subject of a biology teacher to present to 10th grade students. My daughter is a biology teacher. I went down to her school in Philadelphia last month to teach her students. They are great students but I am not sure that they were ready for a debate on evolution or stem cell ethics.

        Wise.

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        • #19
          the problem is, it seems to me, to many ppl evolution simply means monkeys/apes to human, ignoring all the relatively clear cases of evolution in other life forms to adapt.

          teachers who ignore the latter, to me, clearly are biased by religion and humans. my son and i have discussed this many times in museums. i will not tell him what i think of human evolution, but it is clear to me evolution has and does occur in other species. he will have to make up his own mind regarding humans.

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          • #20
            Originally posted by ala
            For the record, I believe that the present theory of evolution is the most plausible explanation for Homo sapiens. Not all Christian based religions believe that intelligent design means no evolution. Many don’t believe in the 6000 year old Earth.

            I believe the process of evolution is continuing as we speak and will continue to change us, perhaps better us, in the future. We may in time evolve into something unrecognizable by those of our present form. That does not mean that God isn’t the ultimate designer of this process nor does it mean that he doesn’t, even now, have a hand in guiding that process.

            I wonder how wrong it is for teachers to teach other explanations for why we are here. After all, there are many works of literature that give alternate explanations for why we are here and where we are going. Some of them (really good ones) include a deity. Should we ban those works?

            Wise said that he thinks that most teachers probably aren’t qualified to teach these other explanations. Funny, but I don’t think he had problem with the qualifications of teachers when they were teaching from the perspective sanctioned by scientists and academics. You know Wise…the perspective YOU believe in.

            If the debate doesn’t belong in schools, where does it belong? Children must be taught critical thinking and abstract concepts at some point. They also must be taught to do this thinking independently. Don’t we agree? So I would say that this important debate is not only desirable at some point in schools; it is necessary. I just don’t believe that waving off this debate as irrelevant is in the best interest of our future selves.
            Ala, I am a strong proponent of exposing children to the cutting edge of science. As my children know, probably to their embarassment, I use to go to their schools and talk to their biology teachers about presenting primary source science material rather than the reader's digest version of science.

            If the goal is to teach the cutting edge of evolution research, teachers should be trained to do this properly. I doubt that most teachers are adequately trained to do so, in the same way that I am not sure that they are adequately trained to debate the difference between embryonic and adult stem cells, whether life begins with fertilization, whether the big bang theory is correct, and so on.

            The Big Bang Theory opposes the Biblical version of creation, probably in ways that are much more fundamental and glaring than evolution. It hasn't attracted much attention because most religious people have not had enough science to understand it. Three new theories are being proposed that may well replace the Big Bang Theory. I am not sure that high school physics teachers have the knowledge base to present the debate of this topic adequately to their students.

            At the present, I am not aware of any proposal by scientists to refute the existence of evolution. Contrary to claims by the Discovery Institute and anti-evolution groups, evolution is not a theory. Evolution is a phenomenon that has been observed and is strongly supported by a great deal of evidence. Living organisms evolved over a long period.

            There have of course been many theories of evolution, i.e. why evolution occurs. The creationist theory of evolution was one of the first and it is wrong. Particularly the young earth theory of evolution has been factually and scientifically disproven. Another theory of evolution was proposed by Erasmus Darwin, Charles Darwin's grandfather. Erasmus believed in acquired inheritance, i.e. if you cut the tail of a dog enough times, you will eventually have a dog without a tail. He was wrong. However, he proposed an idea that influenced his grandson, that most organisms strive to be fit for their environment (Source).

            Lamarck likewise proposed one of the earliest theories of evolution based on the concept of "inheritance of acquired characters" (Source) but Lamarck's theory was disproven although some data now suggest that individual cells can and do acquire traits that are passed onto progeny cells.

            Charles Darwin proposed one of the first theories of evolution, i.e. survival of the fittest, based on genetics. Although this theory only partly explains evolution, the strength of Darwin's theory is based on his understanding of genetics which had just been described, that traits are genetically passed on and that survival of the fittest to procreate resulted in the passage of the genes of the individual.

            Many scientists believe that there is a divine presence that guides evolution. Charles Darwin thought so. Louis Agassiz, for example, is considered to be the founding father of "natural history" at Harvard and strongly opposed Darwinism because it did not give enough credit to a divine influence (Source).

            The latest form of creationist theory, called Intelligent Design, proposes that current forms of species exist today as they were created by some intelligent designer, that they did not evolve. This is factually wrong. It is possible that there may be a version of an intelligent design theory that makes scientific sense but, to my knowledge, such a theory has not yet been proposed.

            There is of course much work going on concerning the mechanisms of creation. For example, much evidence supports the existence of punctuated equilibrium, cooperative evolution, and behavioral evolution that have greatly expanded our thinking concerning factors that influence evolution. These are legitimate areas of debate and there is nothing to stop teachers from presenting these, if they and their students have time.

            Finally, I disagree with you that science teachers should be discussing deities in biology classes. This belongs in religion or humanities classes. It is not science and should not be taught as such.

            Wise.
            Last edited by Wise Young; 06-29-2008, 04:40 AM.

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            • #21
              If we post a topic and articles concerning the big bang theory (cosmological evolution) or pathogenic bacterial development of resistance to specific antibiotics there will rarely be much in the way of resistance of the basic concepts or claims. The human-centered (what's left of it, anyway) model of the universe, solar-system, etc. is not perceived as being threatened by these arguments. But if you post a topic about the validity of 'real science' evolution as opposed to 'creationism science' where human evolution is concerned, you get a thread like this one.

              I don't know if it's a sad commentary on scientific and critical thinking in the United States - but it certainly feels that way.
              "The world will not perish for want of wonders but for want of wonder."
              J.B.S.Haldane

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              • #22
                wise, it has always been my understanding charles darwin proposed his theory of evolution partly because of the death of his young daughter and thence his disbelief in god. thoughts on this?

                Then in 1851 his treasured daughter Annie fell ill, reawakening his fears that his illness might be hereditary. After a long series of crises, she died and Darwin’s faith in Christianity dwindled away.[80]

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                • #23
                  the scary thought for me is that there may be all these christian colleges cranking out "science" teachers who are more interested in not upsetting their communities than opening and challenging minds. one more barrier for america's scientific progress...the bad christian science teacher

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by cass
                    wise, it has always been my understanding charles darwin proposed his theory of evolution partly because of the death of his young daughter and thence his disbelief in god. thoughts on this?

                    Then in 1851 his treasured daughter Annie fell ill, reawakening his fears that his illness might be hereditary. After a long series of crises, she died and Darwin’s faith in Christianity dwindled away.[80]
                    Are you trying to say that Darwin's presented his theory as an act of rebellion against god or that loosing faith gave him the ok to present what he thought was true but was refrained to express because of religion?

                    In any case, motives are irrelevant as long as evidence is there to prove what happened.
                    Pharmacist, C4-5 injury but functional C6 (no triceps/flexors)

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by JGNI
                      Are you trying to say that Darwin's presented his theory as an act of rebellion against god or that loosing faith gave him the ok to present what he thought was true but was refrained to express because of religion?

                      In any case, motives are irrelevant as long as evidence is there to prove what happened.
                      Cass and JGNI,

                      Darwin did not say that his losing faith is the reason why he adopted his theory emphasizing survival of the fittest. In fact, he says exactly the opposite, that it was the evidence that he observed that led him to propose the theory in the origin of species.

                      Charles Darwin broke with his grandfather, Lamarck, and the Church of England in his emphasis on genetic propagation of traits (as opposed to acquired inheritance and creationism). The conservative religious position in those days, as it is today, is that there is no evolution, that God created the species as they are today.

                      The young earth literal creationist interpretation of the Bible has been disproven. This does not mean the Bible itself has been disproven. There are many ways to interpret the Bible. The intelligent design theory that was proposed by the Discovery Institute and those of that ilk has likewise been refuted many times.

                      Intelligent Design keeps trying to shift its position as each of its premises has been shown to be wrong and not evidentially based. For example, the initial argument was that existing organisms are too complex to have evolved. This was disproven. The second premise was that the fossil record is missing much evidence of intermediate forms. This was also debunked. The third premise is that there is a difference between "macro" and "micro" evolution, i.e. evolution can produce small changes but not big changes. This has been disproven.

                      I cannot imagine people wanting to teach Creationism and Intelligent Design as disproven theories in science class. In any scientific debate between creationism, intelligent design, and the evolutionary theories, both creationism and intelligent design would come out at the bottom. Most scientists would simply prefer not to teach these as scientific theories and one does not want science classes to become debates of non-scientific theories.

                      Please understand that Darwin's theory of the "survival of the fittest" is not the only or even the main criterion for evolution. As Lynn Margulis pointed out in her book "Symbiosis as a Source of Evolutionary Innovation" (Source). There is growing evidence that hereditary symbiosis, supplemented by the gradual accumulation of heritable mutation, results in the origin of new species and morphological novelty.

                      Creationism and Intelligent Design denies that evolution occurred. Creationism stipulates that all animals, birds, plants, organisms are exactly the same today as when God created them. Intelligent Design agrees that "micro-evolution" can occur but denies the possibility of significant "macro-evolution". Both are simply not supported by available evidence.

                      Wise.
                      Last edited by Wise Young; 06-30-2008, 04:57 PM.

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                      • #26
                        I just came across this interesting Wiki article on Creationist Arguments
                        http://skepticwiki.org/index.php/Creationist_Arguments

                        Although still in progress, it is the best and probably the most complete compendium of creationist arguments, ranging from Intelligent Design to how evolution violates the second law of thermodynamics. It is worthwhile reading for it exposes probably every false logic and argument ever conceived. Although each of the many hundreds of arguments have been debunked many times over, they crop up again and again.

                        Some of the arguments are truly ridiculous. It might be a good idea if all biology teachers were required to read something like this before they present a debate on evolution. Let me just mention three of the worst arguments, because they illustrate the ignorance of the arguer.
                        • Genetics. Some creationists argue that genetics prove that God created and that mutations cannot possibly produce evolutionary changes. This is such a strange argument because anybody who has taken time to study genetics and evolution would immediately say that genetics is evolution and evolution is genetics. The strongest evidence for evolution comes from genetics (Source).
                        • No new species. Many creationists, out of ignorance, claim that there have been no new species identified since Darwin. In fact, speciation has been observed and reported many times (Source). By the way, one example suffices to disprove the claim.
                        • There are no intermediate forms. This claim is wrong. Many intermediate forms have been identified. However, creationists keep coming up with examples of a particular specimen and say that the absence of an intermediate morphology for that species proves their point, ignoring the many examples of intermediate forms that have been discovered (Source).

                        In the final analysis, the battleground of evolution vs. creationism is littered with debunked creationist arguments. Like an old mage tricks, they are refurbished and burnished to be replayed, over and over again.

                        Wise.

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                        • #27
                          Wise,

                          Do you know talkorigins.org?

                          http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/list.html#CC200
                          Pharmacist, C4-5 injury but functional C6 (no triceps/flexors)

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                          • #28
                            Originally posted by JGNI
                            Wise,

                            Do you know talkorigins.org?

                            http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/list.html#CC200
                            Wow, great site. Wise.

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                            • #29
                              Sea anemone researcher sits on 'supreme court' of species identification (7/1/2008)

                              Here is a great argument against the "no new species" claim of the creationists:

                              http://www.wildbiology.com/research/...tification.asp
                              Sea anemone researcher sits on 'supreme court' of species identification (7/1/2008)
                              Tags:
                              new species

                              Every day, hordes of spanking new species are found and furnished with scientific names. Almost 17,000 species of animals and plants new to science were described last year. With this abundance of natural novelty, somebody must sort out the new critters, ensuring that discoveries stick to the established system of classifications.

                              This is the sometimes-contentious work of Daphne Fautin, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Kansas. Since 2006, Fautin has been a commissioner for the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature, the world's top body overseeing the naming of species. She said that policing the scientific names of living things occasionally could be a thorny task.

                              "Ideally, there's one name for one species of animal," said Fautin. "But inevitably it turns out there are problems with this."

                              For example, Fautin said two researchers in different parts of the world sometimes name the same species differently, unaware of the other's discovery. In such a case, which name does the committee recognize?

                              "You should use the older name," Fautin said. "If it weren't for that, then somebody could come along and name all the animals in the world again - and get credit for them all. So, we have to give credit to the first person who was there. But sometimes it turns out that the oldest name is actually a name that is used for a different animal. And we want to have a unique name for each animal."

                              Sheer numbers complicate this effort: Since Carolus Linnaeus devised the modern system for plant and animal names 250 years ago, about 1.8 million species have been described. Most new finds go unheralded except within scientific circles.

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