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Science academies around world urge teaching of evolution

By Tas Walker

Students on a class excursion.

Why ban students from hearing both sides of the argument?

26 June 2006

Responding to the ongoing debate about intelligent design, an inter-academy panel representing the world’s national science academies has called on parents and teachers to provide facts about evolution.1 They may be surprised to learn that creationists would agree with this sentiment. Parents and teachers should provide more information about evolution, especially its religious underpinnings as well as its problems and contradictions. It is evolutionists who generally want to keep this information hidden.

Wednesday's (21st June 2006) declaration was signed by 67 national academies of science, including Britain's Royal Society, the Royal Society of Canada and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. (That's the group whose detailed defence of evolution was so devastatingly demolished by CMI scientist Jonathan Sarfati’s Refuting Evolution.)

The declaration said, ‘In various parts of the world, within science courses taught in certain public systems of education, scientific evidence, data and testable theories about the origins and evolution of life on Earth are being concealed, denied or confused with theories not testable by science.’

Yes, molecule-to-man evolution is a confusing hypothesis and ultimately not testable by scientific observation. Its conclusions arise from a 'religious' philosophy. See Evolution & creation, science & religion, facts & bias.

It went on to say, ‘We urge decision-makers, teachers and parents to educate all children about the methods and discoveries of science and to foster an understanding of the science of nature.’ We would point out that that is why children should be taught the problems with evolution and exposed to alternative ways of interpreting the data.

The statement lists ‘evidence-based’ facts which they claim ‘scientific evidence has never contradicted’, including:

  • ‘the Earth formed approximately 4.5 billion years ago.’ Of course, this is not a ‘fact’, but a belief that depends upon philosophical assumptions about the past. See The earth: how old does it look?
  • ‘life appeared on Earth at least 2.5 billion years ago.’ This is not a ‘fact’ either, but an interpretation of the fossil record based on certain ideas about history—ideas that directly or indirectly involve beliefs about the Bible and God.
 Quote: ' evolutionary academics hiding their religious biases under a cloak of science, unwilling to have their views critiqued in the marketplace of ideas. '

The document stated further that physical and chemical forces have changed the planet and continue to do so, and life also continues to evolve. If by ‘evolution’ the statement means variation, mutation and natural selection then creationists would agree. Our world is no longer the way that God created it at the beginning. The genome continues to deteriorate with each generation, for instance. But this is not what the statement implies. However, natural selection will not change a protozoan into a professor, no matter how much time is allowed.

The release demonstrates the increasing concern by evolutionists about the possibility of intelligent design being taught in schools around the world, but particularly the U.S.A. Intelligent design holds that natural selection cannot fully explain the origin of life or its complexity, and that a highly intelligent force must have played a role—a concept that is obvious to most people.

But why would academics try to ban students from hearing both sides of an argument? Why not use the controversy to help students develop a greater understanding of what science is about, and practice their ability to test scientific hypotheses?

The statement said that science focuses on observing the natural world by forming testable and refutable hypotheses. By this definition, intelligent design is scientific because it applies the same principles to living organisms that are routinely used in archaeology, forensic science, and even the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI).

‘Science is open-ended and subject to correction and expansion as new theoretical and empirical understanding emerges.’ Creationist scientists are quite familiar with the way science works and are continually expanding, testing and correcting their theoretical understanding of the world. Both creationists and evolutionists work within paradigms. It is the paradigms that are not open to test in the same way, but rely on axioms (presuppositions, unprovable by definition) and so are ultimately belief systems. See The rules of the game. Students who do not learn the role of axioms in the scientific process are seriously lacking in their education. Axioms are particularly important in origins science.

The statement concluded with ‘Human understanding of value and purpose are beyond the scope of natural science’. But ideas have consequences. If kids are taught that they are just mutated animals then it's not surprising when they behave like animals.

The latest statement by the Interacademy Panel on International Issues represents another round in the culture wars, with the evolutionary academics hiding their religious biases under a cloak of science, unwilling to have their views critiqued in the marketplace of ideas.

Reference
  1. Interacademy Panel on International Issues, IAP Statement on the Teaching of Evolution <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/bsp/hi/pdfs/20_06_06_iap_evolution.pdf>, 21 June 2006.

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