A recent poll reported that very few people in the US accept the theory of evolution as a valid explanation for the creation of life on Earth. According to the National Center for Science Education, in a 24-country poll, 41% of the respondents identified themselves as “evolutionists” and 28% as “creationists”, and 31% indicating they don’t know what to believe. In the US, 28% were “evolutionists”, with the “creationist” view held by 40%.
However, in a Gallup poll in 2010, 38% believed that humans developed from less advanced form of life over millions of years, but God guided the process, 16% believed that humans developed from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in the process, and 40% accepted that God created human beings in their present form within the last 10,000 years.
Given these numbers, I found myself part of an online discussion of science and religion this past week. Here are some details.
The National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST) hosts a discussion site and this week, a discussion on the nature of science was started when Prof. Keith Taber from the U.K. announced that a new website to support learning about the Nature of Science was live, and was entitled Faraday Schools. According to Taber, the site is about learning about science and religion.
Taber claims that science education takes a rather narrow view on the issue of science and religion, and in his opinion, this site would avoid such a single narrow view.
Northing could be further from the truth. The Faraday site is intelligent design and creationism wrapped in a well-designed website with videos, animations, images, and text.
Check out the website (http://faradayschools.com/) and see for yourself what they have developed. For one, the images are suggestive—there is the image of the face of Charles Darwin on the body of a monkey. When you study the list of topics, and the “articles” that are referenced, your breath might be taken away.
Taber’s comments on the NARST list stimulated a bit of discussion. And still is going on today.
One science educator (Dr. Norm Thomson, Professor of Science Education at the University of Georgia) had this to say about Prof. Taber’s comments:
Hello Keith, I do have a problem with your statement to Shari (Prof. Shari Britner) that “However, the idea that science excludes God is not part of a consensus view on the nature of science among the scientific community.” Science neither excludes nor includes “God” and that is the nature of science. And that is why scientists do not look for a deity to answer the questions posed in science. And, I think that from my experience with traditional cultures in Africa that to include the “Abrahamic” views of a God is Western arrogance. Why do we constantly refer to “God” in singularity versus plurality? I have not seen the new website to which you are referring but I have never seen a scientific paper that (1) has shown evidence for an external reality, (2) has proposed a means by which to measure it, and (3) I have never read a paper in the journals of Science or Nature that supports a the position that there is a “consensus view” of “scientists” which again is getting confused with “science”. I hold the position that the argument being posed by you is bordering on the approach used by those who support intelligent design. So I hold a narrow view of what science is and that is different than what individual scientists view and that is why there is a consensus of what science is, versus a plurality of views about one or many deities. So, if there is any mention of “God” that other myths of cultures should also be included. Norm Thomson
After reading this comment, I wrote this:
I have spent a good deal of time studying the Faraday website. It is a very well designed creationist/intelligent design curriculum claiming to represent the nature of science. The content of the site is not different than the curriculum materials developed by the creation science advocates of the 1970s, and makes use of the slogans of the intelligent designers.
It is well worth looking at the site what. It’s well done, but my suspicion is that most middle and high school students would see through the scheme and wonder why this “stuff” is being taught in a science course. To be sure there is science in the pages of this website, but is primarily there to set up the real reason for the faraday curriculum—creation science–which a limited Western world view.
Norm replied with this comment:
Well, thank you for the link and now I astounded that there is even a discussion going on with respect to this website and its position. It looks like something that the Discovery Institute would propose. It goes back to the 19th Century for science and the year O for religion. I am now pondering why someone would even bring this site up for some view of science. And, I am disappointed that the position of this site reads as what I would expect from Fundamentalists who put words in the mouths of Darwin, etc. If anything, what we have learned about evolution since he offered his perspective would probably settle once and for all what his position might be and maybe even have persuaded Emma to have a different view.
It seems to me that the Dover decision took care of the US view on this matter most recently and in this country to bring this website into a classroom would be a violation of the First Amendment. And, I am surprised that our British colleagues have a concern about science being “dominated by atheists” whereas we know the impact religion had with respect to other science positions for so many years.
I would hope our astute students would see the deceit being proposed and it now bothers me to have read Keith Taber’s position on this. When I taught in East Africa with the British curriculum there was a clear distinction between science and religious education and as my headmaster who graduated from Cambridge said, there is a reason why the English language has different words for different phenomena.I am not ready to accept a field of “scireligion”.
According to Dr. Taber, the intention of the FaradaySchools.com curriculum “is to develop balanced materials which can be used in schools, including teaching about the relationship between science and religion (currently part of the school curriculum in England), as well as the nature of science (a key part of Secondary school science here.”
If you analyze the Table of Contents for each grade (7-12–http://faradayschools.com/), and look for a balance between topic titles that seem to lean toward science (The Big Bang, Ideas and evidence, the Red Shift VS those that lean toward religion (Dear Darwin, because of you…, God and Miracles, Ways to interpret Genesis, God and Gaps, Galileo and how he understood the Bible, A physicist’s view of Genesis, there is a huge imbalance—toward religion. Further, the religious ideas are rather narrow and are based on Genesis.
You might consider this post a warm-up of what is to come in the 2012 Republican primary for president. Already, we have candidates that would totally support the Faraday website.