Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Oh No! Are We Heading Back Towards the Scopes Trial? | janresseger

Oh No! Are We Heading Back Towards the Scopes Trial? | janresseger:

Oh No! Are We Heading Back Towards the Scopes Trial?

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Science is about empirically proven realities in the natural world and religion is about belief.  Stephen Jay Gould, the historian of science and evolutionary biology called religion and science separate categories of learning—“nonoverlapping magisteria.” We don’t question the scientifically documented theories about the spherical shape of the earth, for example, or the existence of gravity. But lots of people want to question evolution, even though scientific data have proven its truth, because it seems to conflict with the Biblical stories of creation.
A short, 2006, resource from the National Council of Churches explains how many believers in Protestant denominations respond to this controversy, including this statement from Archbishop Desmond Tutu about the Biblical stories of creation: “Those first chapters are much more like poetry than prose, replete with religious and not scientific truths, conveying profound truths about us, about God, and about the universe we inhabit.”
Many people worry that with the administration of Donald Trump, we are headed back into the pitched battle about the substitution of religion for science in our public schools—a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the Constitution, which protects against the government’s “establishment” of religion. Valerie Strauss describes these concerns as characterized by Glenn Branch, a deputy director of the National Center for Science Education, who “said he is concerned that President Trump’s denial/questioning of man-made climate change and Vice President Pence’s denial of the theory of evolution could encourage state legislators to push through new anti-science legislation.”
Strauss describes a bill recently passed by the South Dakota state senate which includes the following language: “No teacher may be prohibited from helping students understand, analyze, critique, or review in an objective scientific manner the strengths and weaknesses of scientific information presented in courses being taught which are aligned with the content standards established….”
To interpret this abstract language, Strauss turns to a public school science teacher from Sioux Falls, who believes, “that the bill says that teachers can essentially teach what they want in science class as long as they do it in a certain way: ‘(L)et’s say I believe in eugenics. (S.B. 55) says that I couldn’t be prohibited, I couldn’t be stopped from teaching that, as long as I did it in Oh No! Are We Heading Back Towards the Scopes Trial? | janresseger:
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