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The 7 - Current Events & Politics - Kansas BOE rewrites definition of science
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Leroy
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#1 Posted on 8.11.05 1911.45
Reposted on: 8.11.12 1912.11
Kansas BOE rewrites definition of science

I've followed this story loosely for the last few months, and I'm absolutely dismayed.

(edited by Leroy on 8.11.05 1712)
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Roy.
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#2 Posted on 8.11.05 1932.20
Reposted on: 8.11.12 1932.43
Ugh. I've been asked if I'd teach intelligent design, and my main reason for saying no is the basic fact that I'm a science teacher. I try to do as many labs as possible with the kids, and I'm stumped as to how to design and implement a scientific lab activity that would prove the existence of a higher being "guiding" the process.

Kansas seems to be dulling that argument down.

    Originally posted by The article
    In addition, the board rewrote the definition of science, so that it is no longer limited to the search for natural explanations of phenomena.


So now we can say that anything we don't understand fully is because of a higher being? We can just throw up our hands in failure and say that it must be because God said so? Lovely.

Part of me hopes a pissed off teacher starts bringing Allah or some other non-Christian God into the classroom. We'll see how up in arms everybody gets.

Maybe somebody can also answer a question for me. My biology background is somewhat limited. I'm going to teach Physics and general science, which means that I have a basic background in just about everything, but only Physics specifically. I had two intro Bio classes and a Bio lab, so I'm not an expert here. I've also been taught by the same professors in a pretty liberal college. I've never had anybody tell me of major problems with evolution. Yes, I've seen the fossil record gaps (and I've even taught them to my kids) and a few other unexplained things, but I've never heard of major, earth shattering problems with the Theory of Evolution. Is there a large part of the respected scientific community that is pushing for intelligent design? Are there a lot of scientists out there who are pushing intelligent design, or, at the very least, discrediting the Theory of Evolution? I've only seen overzealous laypersons try to tackle this stuff, with embarassing results (see also: Dover, PA).
BigSteve
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#3 Posted on 8.11.05 1957.00
Reposted on: 8.11.12 1957.05
So science is no longer "limited to the search for natural explanations of phenomena"? What exactly is their definition of science these days?

I have no problem with the theory of "inteligent design". Given that I believe in a Christian God and in evolution, I'd say that ID roughly describes my own worldview. I have no problem with a discussion of intelligent design or theories on the universe's origin in school. It's important not to ignore these questions because some might be offended by what amounts to a discussion of religious ideas. However, I certainly do not think that this belongs in science class.

It's really disconcerting that some people are so insecure in their beliefs that they can't accept that their beliefs are really not proven facts.
ekedolphin
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#4 Posted on 8.11.05 2211.30
Reposted on: 8.11.12 2211.50
And on the flip side of it, I'm dismayed that scientists seem to believe that because we can't prove there's a God, God therefore doesn't exist.
Jaguar
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#5 Posted on 8.11.05 2217.00
Reposted on: 8.11.12 2217.00
There's no proof in the existence of insvisible lesbians in my room right now, but I'm lobbying like hell to make sure that we teach our nation's children to take their existence into account when considering the creation of the universe.
Mr. Boffo
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#6 Posted on 8.11.05 2226.51
Reposted on: 8.11.12 2227.43
Frankly, I think this is being blown out of proportion. The Science standards working document as of August 9th is available at http://www.ksde.org/outcomes/scstdworkingdoc892005.pdf (it's the Life Science section on Adobe pages 82- 89).

They give their definition of Science on p 10. It states "Science is a systematic method of continuing investigations that uses observations, hypothesis testing, measurment, experimentation, logical argument and theory building to lead to more adequate explanations of natural phenomena."

Also, from page 3: "Regarding the scientific theory of biological evolution, the curriculm standards call for students to learn about the best evidence for modern evolutionary theory, but to also learn about areas where scienctists are raising scientific criticisms of the theory."

Later, they add "We also emphasize that the Science Curriculm Standards do not include Intelligent Design, the scientific disagreement with the claim of many evolutionary biologists that the apparent design of living systems is an illusion. {there's a double negative in there, so it's kind of hard to read} While the testimony presented at the science hearings included many advocates of Intelligent Design, these standards neither mandate nor prohibit teaching about this scientific agreeement."

Frankly, I wish all students were taught to question the status quo in every area. Newton questioned the status quo with his theory of universal gravity. Later it turned he his theory didn't explain certain things, so it was replaced with Einstein's theory. In this way we improve our theories and learn more about our universe.

EDIT: And eke, if we can't prove God exists, then we might as well cut him out of any of our theories. Occam's Razor and all that.

(edited by Mr. Boffo on 8.11.05 2229)
DrDirt
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#7 Posted on 9.11.05 1131.16
Reposted on: 9.11.12 1133.39
Having lived in Kansas since 1991, I will add my two cents. I am Christian of the Methodist persuasion who accepts(you can't believe in a theory) the theory of evolution with the proviso that I know the theory is dynamic as we learn more. I accept that the Universe was created by God. I simply believe (since this is a matter of faith and not science, I believe) evolution was the mechanism God used.

Intelligent design is simply the latest method used by religious fundmentalists to backdoor creation into our schools and subvert the constitution with what is de facto state religion. When they tried this s**t in 1999 they were pitched out and order was restored in 2000. There are 4 of the 6 conservative idealogues up for re-election next year and are already facing stiff opposition from Dem's and from within their own party. Already school district supers are saying that the BOE can go and perform a physically impossible act and they are not going to allow dogma to cripple our childrens understanding of science.

The saddest part in all this is that it clearly demonstrates how poor a job as a society we have done in the area of science education. People are just plain ignorant as to what science is and I blame those of us in the scientific comunity for being lousy communicators and teachers.

All that said, I deeply respect everyone's religious beliefs. However, science isn't a belief but a fact based method of determining the physical world around us. Religion should stay out of science and science should respect religion.

(edited by DrDirt on 9.11.05 1241)
Tenken347
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#8 Posted on 9.11.05 1151.57
Reposted on: 9.11.12 1152.20
In answer to the question of weaknesses in the Theory of Evolution, Roy, you basically already have the weaknesses covered. The theory is based on the fossil evidence, which contains large, currently unexplained holes. As far as theories go, actually, evolution is pretty weak (compare it to the evidence supporting, say, plate techtonics). Still, it is the the best scientific explaination for the diversity of species, and the leading theory among all respected members of the scientific community, and deserves to be treated as such in our schools.
EddieBurkett
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#9 Posted on 9.11.05 1201.02
Reposted on: 9.11.12 1201.21
    Originally posted by Tenken347
    In answer to the question of weaknesses in the Theory of Evolution, Roy, you basically already have the weaknesses covered. The theory is based on the fossil evidence, which contains large, currently unexplained holes. As far as theories go, actually, evolution is pretty weak (compare it to the evidence supporting, say, plate techtonics). Still, it is the the best scientific explaination for the diversity of species, and the leading theory among all respected members of the scientific community, and deserves to be treated as such in our schools.


Pardon me if I'm misunderstanding the conversation, but I thought the evolutionary process was rather concretely understood. Haven't there been studies involving insects and microbes - creatures with lifespans short enough such that one experiment can cover changes across generations - to prove it? Or does the Theory of Evolution apply to more than just a species ability to mutate and how Darwinism leads to certain mutations being favored based on the situation?
wmatistic
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#10 Posted on 9.11.05 1854.00
Reposted on: 9.11.12 1854.19
    Originally posted by EddieBurkett
      Originally posted by Tenken347
      In answer to the question of weaknesses in the Theory of Evolution, Roy, you basically already have the weaknesses covered. The theory is based on the fossil evidence, which contains large, currently unexplained holes. As far as theories go, actually, evolution is pretty weak (compare it to the evidence supporting, say, plate techtonics). Still, it is the the best scientific explaination for the diversity of species, and the leading theory among all respected members of the scientific community, and deserves to be treated as such in our schools.


    Pardon me if I'm misunderstanding the conversation, but I thought the evolutionary process was rather concretely understood. Haven't there been studies involving insects and microbes - creatures with lifespans short enough such that one experiment can cover changes across generations - to prove it? Or does the Theory of Evolution apply to more than just a species ability to mutate and how Darwinism leads to certain mutations being favored based on the situation?


No, you are correct. Evolution itself it not a theory any more at all, which is what makes me so angry about this debate. That most people still pretend it's not a fact. We know evolution happens. We've even seen it occur in our lifetime. The only theory part is how or why it occurs. That's what Darwin went back on, the theory of Natural Selection that was a possible explanation for why.

I can't stress this enough. Evolution is considered a fact of life by the scientific community. Why people still can't seperate this from the theory of how/why is beyond me.
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#11 Posted on 9.11.05 2044.54
Reposted on: 9.11.12 2044.57
I'm sure the Kansas Board of Education is looking forward towards pushing the theory of Intelligent Falling. (theonion.com)



    "Things fall not because they are acted upon by some gravitational force, but because a higher intelligence, 'God' if you will, is pushing them down," said Gabriel Burdett, who holds degrees in education, applied Scripture, and physics from Oral Roberts University.

    Burdett added: "Gravity—which is taught to our children as a law—is founded on great gaps in understanding. The laws predict the mutual force between all bodies of mass, but they cannot explain that force. Isaac Newton himself said, 'I suspect that my theories may all depend upon a force for which philosophers have searched all of nature in vain.' Of course, he is alluding to a higher power."


    ....


    The ECFR, in conjunction with the Christian Coalition and other Christian conservative action groups, is calling for public-school curriculums to give equal time to the Intelligent Falling theory. They insist they are not asking that the theory of gravity be banned from schools, but only that students be offered both sides of the issue "so they can make an informed decision."

    "We just want the best possible education for Kansas' kids," Burdett said.
BigSteve
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#12 Posted on 9.11.05 2137.35
Reposted on: 9.11.12 2138.14
    Originally posted by ekedolphin
    And on the flip side of it, I'm dismayed that scientists seem to believe that because we can't prove there's a God, God therefore doesn't exist.


I agree with that. The problem, as usual, is the extremes on both sides. On one side, people would seem to prefer that anything not currently explained by modern science should be attributed forevermore to the idea that "God did it". On the other side, people want to believe that because science helps us to understand a good deal about the world around us that even those things not currently explainable will, without doubt, be explained someday and that there is no need for some higher being. The bottom line is that dogmatism on either side does not mix well with an science.
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#13 Posted on 9.11.05 2146.51
Reposted on: 9.11.12 2147.20
    Originally posted by BigSteve
      Originally posted by ekedolphin
      And on the flip side of it, I'm dismayed that scientists seem to believe that because we can't prove there's a God, God therefore doesn't exist.


    I agree with that. The problem, as usual, is the extremes on both sides. On one side, people would seem to prefer that anything not currently explained by modern science should be attributed forevermore to the idea that "God did it". On the other side, people want to believe that because science helps us to understand a good deal about the world around us that even those things not currently explainable will, without doubt, be explained someday and that there is no need for some higher being. The bottom line is that dogmatism on either side does not mix well with an science.

My problem with the whole God and science thing is that when you put a Creator into the mix, you are basically setting an end point on knowledge. I don't know if there is a God or Creator or Prime Mover or anything of that ilk. But I don't want the best and brightest minds in the world working on theories that say "we can't explain this" or "we have to leave room here for God". If there is a God, that being will keep on doing its thing regardless of whether we notice or believe or not. But if there isn't, and we stunt our learning in servitude to this being, we are all lessened.

Of course, I find it funny that people are saying evolution is unproven, yet will turn their entire lives over to a collection of stories and thoughts of a nomadic tribe from 2000-4000 years ago, and believe in the divinity of a guy who appears in exactly 2 historic accountings. That they'll die for, but gaps in the fossil record make evolution unacceptable. No offense, just seems a bit odd to think about.
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#14 Posted on 10.11.05 0642.59
Reposted on: 10.11.12 0646.08
    Originally posted by spf
    Of course, I find it funny that people are saying evolution is unproven, yet will turn their entire lives over to a collection of stories and thoughts of a nomadic tribe from 2000-4000 years ago, and believe in the divinity of a guy who appears in exactly 2 historic accountings. That they'll die for, but gaps in the fossil record make evolution unacceptable. No offense, just seems a bit odd to think about.


For some people, it's easier to read one book than ALL the books.
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#15 Posted on 10.11.05 1707.13
Reposted on: 10.11.12 1711.22
In the scientific community evolution is considered as a matter of fact, something that happens.

The divergences, of opinion, are in the mechanisms that lead to evolution or in the ways that evolution happens.

What to do with animal species that reproduce by the means of parthenogenesis? should they even be considered species?

How do they evolve since they are basically clones of one individual?

Do they have more fitness or less fitness that sexual species?

Micro evolution is kind of easy to explain. A population of a species is separated by a physical barrier, in two populations. Over time, they accumulate genetic differences as the result of natural selection, genetic drift, mutations, etc. Given enough time they will become two different populations of two different species. This process is called alopatric speciation, and its one of the easiest process to understand and explain, but there is a lot more of them.

What sciences fails, at this point, is to provide an answer that explains every rule and every exception, and this religion does quite well. I work as researcher, and i believe in God. The difference is that i started questioning things that i didn't understand, and tried to find the answers by myself. I honestly don't think the Bible is meant to be interpreted literally. For me its more of a "best of" of life lessons and basically wisdom that everyone should know.

Concluding, religion and science should be 150 m away from each other at all times:)
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#16 Posted on 10.11.05 2018.42
Reposted on: 10.11.12 2018.43
I was, in fact, refering as evolution as a theoretical mechanism to explain the link between families of species. I don't think anyone is arguing against microevolution (I may be wrong). Macroevolution, or the evolution of one family (i.e., reptiles) into another (i.e., birds) is based on fossil evidence. If any of you have seen it happen, I think there are some scientists who would like to speak to you. The fossil evidence in these cases is pretty sparse in some areas. It does not disprove evolution, it doesn't even really discredit evolution. But it is a weakness and a criticism of the theory.
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#17 Posted on 11.11.05 0856.05
Reposted on: 11.11.12 0856.35
    Originally posted by Tenken347
    I was, in fact, refering as evolution as a theoretical mechanism to explain the link between families of species. I don't think anyone is arguing against microevolution (I may be wrong). Macroevolution, or the evolution of one family (i.e., reptiles) into another (i.e., birds) is based on fossil evidence. If any of you have seen it happen, I think there are some scientists who would like to speak to you.


Thanks. That's the clarification I was looking for.
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#18 Posted on 11.11.05 1035.04
Reposted on: 11.11.12 1035.28
    Originally posted by Tenken347
    I was, in fact, refering as evolution as a theoretical mechanism to explain the link between families of species. I don't think anyone is arguing against microevolution (I may be wrong). Macroevolution, or the evolution of one family (i.e., reptiles) into another (i.e., birds) is based on fossil evidence. If any of you have seen it happen, I think there are some scientists who would like to speak to you. The fossil evidence in these cases is pretty sparse in some areas. It does not disprove evolution, it doesn't even really discredit evolution. But it is a weakness and a criticism of the theory.


Not to disagree, but there is a growing body of DNA evidence that is able to link familes and genera and help confirm macro-evolution patterns. People disputing this often come from two places. Fear and insecurity in their faith (though they don't see it that way) and severe anger that they feel scientists are saying human beings aren't special enough.
tricia
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#19 Posted on 13.11.05 0003.34
Reposted on: 13.11.12 0003.57
As usual, I should mind my own business and keep my damn trap shut... but this is my opinion.

I actually went through the entire Conservative Calvinist private school system all the way from kindergarten to college graduation. (The discussion of the compound negative effects of this will have to wait another time.) So the only thing I was taught in school was Creationism. I can even remember sitting through four hour film in high school where fringe members of the scientific community poked holes in evolution theory. (Yes, the entire school had to sit through this; most of my classmates used this as nap time though.)

College was different; many of the professors were much more liberal than the students they taught. (very, very sad...) In my theology class, the discussion of the books of the Bible were taught by a professor who (I suspect) was more liberal than the students he taught. Here is what I can remember:

The first five books of the Bible were written by Moses. Moses's intent when he wrote the account of the creation of the world was NOT to be used literally (in the scientific sense), but as a counterpoint to emphasize how different the Jehovah of the Israelites was/is from the other gods that the other peoples worshiped. Remember, the Israelites lived in a world where they were almost the only monotheistic worshiping people at the time. The account of the creation was to emphasize the difference between the scatter-minded, corrupt, inconsistent group of gods to the incorruptible, always just, all powerful Jehovah. The mythology of the Sumerians particularly stand out; humans were created as a party joke to be slave labor for the gods. The Israelites were being told that they were being made in the Image of their Jehovah. (Quite a difference, no?) The emphasis was Who Did It, not How Was It Done. Because of this, I am of the opinion that evolution and theistic thought are not incompatible.

For the record, I hate everybody. Yes, that is true; I hate everybody. (Except you fine people on this discussion forum "the-w". Oh, and I do not hate my husband either.) I grew up with the narrow-minded, hypocrite religious types and suffered; I loath and despise the entire lot of them with all the bitterness and rage of the fires of Hell itself. I am not too fond of the scientific types either. I resent their dogmatic arrogance and their assumptions that just because they can't prove it exists, it therefore does not exist. And anybody that dares disagrees with them they assume is a backwards idiot. Evolution does have its flaws; I am still waiting for the explanation about how life started at the very very beginning from the inorganic molecular soup we supposedly all came from. Grr... F'ck You All!!! YES!!! F'CK YOU ALL!!!

[ahem...][calming down][where am I?]

I am starting to think that religion shouldn't be taught in school. I don't think it makes a whit of difference anyway; the children of dedicated religious parents are probably sending their kids to services on the weekends, and they should be responsible enough to pass on their belief systems in private. On the other hand, the schools should try harder to present evolution as a theory, so far the best theory, but still a theory, with all its flaws. And taught to actually think and comprehend it, not just memorize it as a "fact". In general, schools should be encouraging kids to think and solve problems, not regurgitate facts. That is hoping for too much though.

edit: Ok ok... I am not anti-theist. And I am not knocking down Spirituality. And I do believe that God does exist. (Even Jesus!) I just am bothered by some certain people, that is all. Point: Believes in God, Hates People (sometimes).


(edited by tricia on 13.11.05 0103)
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