Theory - Religion and Politics
are the Problems
(Top Posts - Science - 021805)
from the Skeptical Inquirer
posted: 18 February 2005, 09:17 am ET
in Cobb County, Georgia, are being told
by the school board that scientific material should
be approached "with an open mind, studied carefully,
and critically considered." And this has irritated
some so much that a lawsuit was filed, demanding
that this outrage be stopped.
District Court Judge Clarence Cooper ruled
that the outrage should be stopped. His ruling
demonstrated what the Cobb County School Board
called "unnecessary judicial intrusion into local
control of schools"-judicial activism run amok,
according to full page ads in the local paper.
The school board has voted to appeal the judge's
decision. Local writers of letters to the editor
have made it abundantly clear that the ACLU and
those who support the case are anti-freedom, anti-
science, anti-religion, socialists, and atheist
devils to boot.
science, unlike in common usage, a successful
"theory" is an overarching explanation that
accounts for all known facts, hypotheses, and
is a fact, supported by millions of observations
over at least 150 years that life has evolved on
this planet. This fact of evolution did not have
a scientifically satisfactory overarching explana-
tion-a theory-until Charles Darwin developed his
complex ideas. His explanation rapidly convinced
the scientific minds of his own age and of every
generation since then.
No scientifically supported theory of why life on
this planet evolved rivals basic Darwinian theory.
If there was a legitimate alternative, scientists
would go to great lengths to win prestige by test-
ing and developing the alternative.
theory is not the only part of science
subject to religious dispute and controversy. The
germ theory of disease, while overwhelmingly sup-
ported by scientists--as is evolution theory--is
not accepted by Christian Scientists or by some
other religious groups. The board did not put a
sticker in high school health texts about this,
for good reason.
Tempting as the solution presented by a local letter
writer may seem to some, avoiding all the contro-
versy by not teaching about evolution at all, or
only in elective courses, would seriously cheat
students. Almost everything in modern biology and
much of astronomy, geology, chemistry, and other
scientific disciplines cannot be well understood
except in light of evolutionary theory. Young people
would suffer greatly in colleges and universities,
including in most religious schools, if their edu-
cation was so inadequate. Their understanding of
life itself would be severely hampered.
Science classes and textbooks should be restricted
to scientific inquiry. There is much that evolu-
tionary theory cannot explain, and the compatibil-
ity or conflict of science and religion, while
controversial, cannot be determined by science.