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California school district allows criticisms of Darwin’s theory


California School District Adopts Policy Allowing Scientific Criticisms of Evolution

Last night, the Board of Trustees of the Lancaster School District in southern California voted unanimously to adopt a “Science Philosophy” policy permitting teachers to present scientific criticisms of Darwinian evolution. The policy had been supported by the groups Integrity in Academics and Quality Science Education for All.

The new policy states that Darwin’s theory should not be taught as “unalterable fact” and states that “Discussions that question the theory may be appropriate as long as they do not stray from current criteria of scientific fact, hypothesis and theory.” The policy further allows the use of supplemental materials by teachers in teaching about science.

“This is an innovative effort by the Lancaster School District to propel science education out of the nineteenth century and into the twenty-first century, ” said Alex Banning, President of Integrity in Academics, which organized support for the new policy.

Attorney Larry Caldwell, President of Quality Science Education for All, also praised the policy. “It is refreshing to see school officials willing to stand up against Darwinian fundamentalists to give their students a science education rather than a science indoctrination,” he said. “After all, effective science education is all about teaching students to ask meaningful questions and follow the evidence wherever it leads.”

A press release from Integrity in Academics, which includes the full text of the policy, is available here.

Matt Dean wrote: “Replace ‘Darwinist’ with Christian. That’s how the other side feels. “ Your point is well taken, Matt. Let's consider what happened historically: The Scopes trial was fought to allow a minority view (Darwinism) into the classroom, to counter-balance the widely accepted view of the time. No one during that trial expressed (openly, at any rate) the view that Darwinsim should be the only theory allowed. Yet, that event set in motion a chain of events that led to that very outcome. Now, the shoe is on the other foot, with Darwinists representing the scientific majority view (though not that of the general public), who are using every means at their disposal to block access to a competing minority view, that of ID. However, the Darwinist position is even more extreme, since they even consider questioning of their view as constitutional and scientific heresy. I like to think when the pendulum invariably swings back the other way, it will not swing back quite so far. There are, after all, areas of evolutionary science that are not under dispute. Any reasonable person (in short supply -- at least in the judiciary -- though they may be at times) can see there's room for both the pros and cons of evolutionary theory. Our students will be better off hearing about them. Will that eventually lead to ID in the science classroom? That should depend on ID scientists. Either they prove their case or they don't. If they do, then it should be presented alongside the portions of evolutionary theory that still hold water. If not? Well, then "teach the controversy" remains a viable way to present a theory that is less then incontrovertible. sabre
Could someone tell me how being anti Darwin is pro Christian. There is no relation between one and the other. Being anti-Darwin does not necessarily mean you are pro Intelligent Design. And being pro Intelligent Design does not mean you are pro Christian. In fact Intelligent Design undermines Christianity for some. So questioning one is not shoving the other doctrine down anyone's throat. This approach is the way to procede. Intelligent Design may have too much baggage even if it makes great sense. jerry

Matt Dean wrote:

"Replace ‘Darwinist’ with Christian. That’s how the other side feels. "

You do have a point. The other side does feel that it's rights are being over run. I would hope, their freedoms and rights are resepected as well even if I disagree with them. Thank you for your comments. I think you're comments here at Uncommon Descent have been very fair minded.



"I’ll need a precise definition of “species” from you first. -ds"

I'll go for the version you use, "fertile hybrid offspring"

I'd say conclusive evidence is nonexistent and inferential evidence is ambiguous at best using this definition with regard to any natural occurrence of new species in recorded history. I read recently that mules are fertile on very rare occasions and since I was taught this as the model animal for infertile hybrids I must now question the thoroughness of methods used to test the ability of any species ostensibly arising in recorded history to be incapable of producing fertile hybrids when crossed with the nearest ancestor. It's because of such ambiguity that I just don't care to argue about whether closely related animals are variants or new species and ask instead for evidence that RM+NS is capable of creating viable new cell types, tissue types, organs, and body plans. It's nitpickery to argue about whether donkeys and horses are separate species or marginally fertile variants of the same species through RM+NS. The salient question is whether donkeys and horses were produced via RM+NS from single celled organisms in 600 million years. The former case is trivial while the latter case requires the creation of new specialized cell types, tissue types, organs, and body plan. Saying the mechanism responsible for the difference between horses and donkeys is the same mechanism that changed bacteria into horses and donkeys requires extraordinary positive evidence to support it. The only evidence I've seen is negative as in "if not RM+NS then what else could it be?". That's not science. That's a logical fallacy called an argument from ignorance. I like to call it "Darwin of the Gaps". The gap here is basically everything in evolution that took place before recorded history and most of what little evolution has occured during recorded history. -ds Renier
Markus: it worries me that the focus is always on ONE part of science. It frustrates me. "The Privileged Planet" demonstrates the design inference goes well beyond biology. As I lke to say: Considering the alternative to ID is multiple atomic accidents, coupled with multiple chance collisions, coupled with multiple lucky events, all wrapped up in multiple universes, who in their right mind would say that ID isn't scientific? I also agree with DaveScot- "species" is ambiguous at best. Joseph
The only problem is that California is in 9th Circuit Court of Appeals jurisdiction and one can reliably predict they'll rule against the school district. After all, these were the justices that ruled "under God" in the pledge of allegiance was unconstitutional. On the bright side one can just as reliably predict the 9th Circus ruling will be overturned by SCOTUS. DaveScot

"Anyone with any critical thinking ability whatsoever can immediately see RM+NS explaining origin of *all* species is nothing more than speculation."

Well, would you say it explains some species?

I'll need a precise definition of "species" from you first. -ds Renier
Salvador: "I think this school board has the courage and will to fight for first amendment rights." I hope you're right. In fact, after reading a bit more about this case, I think you are right on the money. dougmoran

If some students staunchly believe that the world is flat due to their religious beliefs, should we excuse them from the room during geography lessons as well? If not, where should the line be drawn between which religious beliefs to respect? There are many aspects of science that can conflict with religion; it worries me that the focus is always on ONE part of science.

I tell you what, when some students actually do staunchly believe the world is flat we'll address failure to teach geography. In the meantime, the flat earth argument is nothing but a red herring. Darwinian evolution is where the focus is because the random mutation plus natural selection mechanism's ability to account for all diversity is a just-so story - a narrative of an unrepeatable, unobserved past. Anyone with any critical thinking ability whatsoever can immediately see RM+NS explaining origin of all species is nothing more than speculation. Gravity and a round earth are not just-so stories but things that can observed, measured, and tested precisely and repeatably. Anyone that doesn't understand this either isn't playing with a full deck or is dishonest. -ds Marckus

dougmoran asked: "Can we expect the same here?"

Perhaps not. They made this vote in the face of everything happening elsewhere, and the vote by the trustees was unanimous. I have a feeling they are going to make this a first amendment issue and they are prepared and willing to make a stand for first amendment freedoms, come what may.

My opinion (and not necessarily that of anyonelse at uncommon descent), is that there comes at time to take a stand for basic and reasonable freedoms. I have a sense, some private citizens are fed up with a Darwinist community eager to violate the constitutional freedoms of their children and shove dogma down children's throats.

I welcome the Darwinists showing up in court under intense cross examination and trying to demonstrate theirs is a case of unalterable fact. The vise strategy will squeeze the truth out of them.

I think this school board has the courage and will to fight for first amendment rights.


No doubt the NEA, ACLU, PAW and other ardent darwinite cults will find a friendly judge who wants to get his name in the paper for supporting Big Science Establishment mmadigan
scordova: I agree with you in principle. The logic makes perfect sense. But I doubt the ACLU or NCSE will agree. Recent happenings in Ohio would seem set a precedent of harassment and threats of legal action by the ACLU unless such "questioning Darwinism" policies are revoked. Can we expect the same here? Recall that in the Ohio case there was no mention of ID or Creationism either. This will be a good test case. dougmoran

There were effectively two legal teams who formulated the policy. What's important is the school board apparently has lawyers willing and ready to come to the defense in case a suit is filed. Constitutional lawyers were involved in forming the policy, and it's high time the personal beliefs of students be respected.

This policy does not mandate ID or creationism.

So let me throw this out as a thought. If indeed teaching Darwin's theory as unalterable fact can be viewed as violating the religious rights of students, an ACLU suit should fail.

Protecting children's religious views is not the same as establishing a state religion. If there have been constitutional issues in giving kids the right to not say the pledge of allegiance, then there should easily be constitutional issues with requiring students to accept Darwinism as unalterable fact.

This makes way too much sense to be true. Any bets on when the litigation will start? dougmoran

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