F Rosa Rubicondior: Evolution News - Creationists Losing It

Saturday 13 June 2020

Evolution News - Creationists Losing It

Good news: US classrooms are warming to evolution, thanks in part to scientist outreach

The Discovery Institute's plan to subvert the US Constitution and teach creationism at public expense in US public schools is failing badly, according to a recent report published in Evolution: Education Outreach. The proportion of science teachers teaching creationism as valid science in US public schools fell from 32% in 2007 to just 18% in 2017.

Astonishingly, in 2007, two years after a federal court ruled in Kitzmiller vs Dover District, that 'Intelligent design', like its predecessor, 'Creation Science' lacked any scientific merit as was nothing more than fundamentalist, Bible literalist religion dressed up to look like science, American public schools were in breach of the 'Establishment Clause' by allowing creationism to be taught in science class. Only just over half of teachers (51%) were teaching evolution unequivocably as factual.

Almost as astonishing is that 18% of teachers are still breaking the law and teaching religious superstition as real science. Clearly, these fundamentalist Christians believe themselves to be above the law and entitled to use public money to mislead children. The disservice these subversive talibangelicals do to both their religion and to science was devastatingly stated by the devout Christian scientist, Francis Collins in "The Language of God":

Thus, by any reasonable standard, Young Earth Creationism has reached a point of intellectual bankruptcy, both in its science and in its theology. Its persistence is thus one of the great puzzles and great tragedies of our time. By attacking the fundamentals of virtually every branch of science, it widens the chasm between the scientific and spiritual worldviews, just at a time where a pathway toward harmony is desperately needed. By sending a message to young people that science is dangerous, and that pursuing science may well mean rejecting religious faith, Young Earth Creationism may be depriving science of some of its most promising future talents.

But it is not science that suffers most here. Young Earth Creationism does even more damage to faith, by demanding that belief in God requires assent to fundamentally flawed claims about the natural world. Young people brought up in homes and churches that insist on Creationism sooner or later encounter the overwhelming scientific evidence in favor of an ancient universe and the relatedness of all living things through the process of evolution and natural selection. What a terrible and unnecessary choice they then face! To adhere to the faith of their childhood, they are required to reject a broad and rigorous body of scientific data, effectively committing intellectual suicide. Presented with no other alternative than Creationism, is it any wonder that many of these young people turn away from faith, concluding that they simply cannot believe in a God who would ask them to reject what science has so compellingly taught us about the natural world?

Francis Collins. The Language of God

Now however, following a concerted effort by scientists, working closely with teachers' groups, scientists have united to advocate for education policies, advise on classroom resources and help rally public opinion.

Much credit is due to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), a set of benchmarks released in 2011 that emphasizes evolution as a core concept. The 44 US states that have adopted these, or standards based on the same framework, have seen the greatest improvements.

Scientists have been crucial to ensuring accurate coverage of evolution in science education standards. In Texas, where a creationist-friendly faction had long held sway over the state board of education, professors wrote opinion pieces, testified to school boards and rallied colleagues. Similar scenarios played out in Arizona, Iowa, New Mexico, South Carolina and elsewhere. Scientists were key partners, often through scientific societies, in developing the NGSS, along with teacher groups, foundations and others.

Scientists also helped to develop evolution resources for teachers. The Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Chevy Chase, Maryland, partnered with the National Association of Biology Teachers and BSCS Science Learning, an educational non-profit centre in Colorado Springs, to help teachers to develop tools and training. Yes, teachers did the bulk of the work, but numerous scientific societies pitched in with advice and advocacy. Classroom visits, fun as they are, reach dozens of students; group action helps millions.

Ann Reid, Good news: US classrooms are warming to evolution, thanks in part to scientist outreach,
582, 315 (2020)

The proportion of educators emphasising the scientific consensus regarding the factuality of evolution and the strength of the Theory of Evolution in explaining it, is now 67%. Despite this progress however, there is still clearly much work to do if one third of teachers are not giving that message to their students.

As Mark Twain said, "To lie is to try to fool someone into believing something you know ain't so!" Why would an educator want to do that to children?

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