At Evolution News & Views (January 12, 2012), David Klinghoffer noted yesterday that a “Washington Post Columnist Endorses Teaching the Evolution Controversy.” In “Santorum’s good but hated education idea” (01/12/2012), Jay Mathews wasn’t kidding; he offers,
I think Darwin was right, but boring.
[Mathews has kindly written us to say that he plans a followup column next week. Stay tuned. – UD News]
Well, Jay, many of Darwin’s modern day defenders sure fixed that. Their ideas are too stupid to be wrong but every TV hair model excitedly fronts the stuff: How natural selection explains why men cheat (or don’t), why some people vote conservative or believe in God, and why it’s normal for women to kill their young children. (Like Andrea Yates was a normal woman, see?)
It was hard for me to become interested in classroom explanations of natural selection when I was a student. Introducing a contrary theory like intelligent design and having students discuss its differences from Darwinism would enliven the class. It would also teach the scientific method. Did Darwin follow the rules of objective scientific inquiry? Does intelligent design?
Okay, the critical question now becomes: Can Mathews, or teachers who agree with him, deal with the fact that Darwin sometimes did not use the scientific method (witness his fudging on the Cambrian explosion of all current phyla of life forms*). Or that ID types often do use the scientific method, to cast doubt on Darwinists who don’t use it.
Do Mathews or the teachers really want to deal with this in front of a class?
Advocates of intelligent design at the Seattle-based Discovery Institute have influenced Santorum. They accept many Darwinist concepts, such as the notion that humans and apes evolved from a common ancestor. They see a weakness in Darwinian theory because of the lack of much evidence of natural precursors to the animal body types that emerged in the Cambrian period 500 million years ago. How did we get from random chemicals to creatures with eyes and spines? They say that gap in knowledge leaves open the possibility of intervention by an outside force.
Many scientists and teachers think the intelligent design folks are only pretending to have an allegiance to science. They seemed sincere to me. Some have doctorates in science. Even if they are fakes, their reliance on the fossil record rather the first book of the Bible qualifies them for a science class debate.
Good points re Discovery. Another way of looking at it, Jay: Take Discovery out of the picture. You still have the Cambrian explosion and a bunch of doctrinaire hacks and lobbyists trying to explain it all away. What was achieved that you care about?
Some of us would recommend letting creative teachers and good students take the lead in these areas. We are unenthusiastic about court judgements, laws, curriculum funding formulas, or rubrics that seek to either compel or constrain thought. The post-Darwinian era is too new for that; it will bust any mold right now.
* Endemic among Darwinists today. Any time you hear someone say “the Cambrian explosion was overblown,” or “We have an explanation that removes the anomaly,”or “science will fill in the gaps,” you are hearing basic fudging. The skinny: The Cambrian explosion just wasn’t a part of Darwin’s program, period. Whatever the Cambrian is, it is something else. Darwin knew it. People shouldn’t be taught otherwise.
See also: Yes, science should rethink the definition of life
When science writers can’t cope with honesty among scientists …
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