evolution as doctrine

John Grehan jgrehan at SCIENCEBUFF.ORG
Sat Jan 3 12:35:42 CST 2004

I'm starting 2004 with another tirade about one of my pet peeves about
evolution teaching. In a number of past postings I have commented on the
problematic nature of evolution teaching in the US where the focus of
teaching is to inculcate students to accept a particular doctrine of
beliefs which seem to be more metaphysical than empirical. In this context
it is hard for me to see any difference between evolution and creationism
as both are doctrinally driven. I've pointed this out with the National
Science Foundation, and now I have found a similar approach by the US
National Association of Biology Teachers. The NABT web page includes a post
ion statement on teaching evolution
(http://www.nabt.org/sub/position_statements/evolution.asp) that endorses
22 tenet of science, evolution and biology education. I suppose by endorse,
one must accept these beliefs (tenets) to be allowed to teach evolution.
The emphasis on tenets just re-presents the whole approach to the science
of evolution as a doctrine of beliefs about the nature of reality.

It's bad enough to have evolution presented more as a religion than a
science in contest against religious based creationism, but what of the
tenets themselves? Some are really problematic. For example, one must
belive that natural selection is the primary mechanism for evolutionary
changes. Of course that's what most evolutionists do believe, but the
problem here is that the tenets do not give any indication that its just a
position taken by the dominant school of evolution (the Darwinian school).
This omission gives a deceptive representation of the science, and while
evolutionists are keen to point out duplicity among creationists, its hard
for me not to see the same kind of tactics by Darwinians.

Another problematic statement is the assertion that "recent findings from
the advancing [as if other fields of evolutionary biology are not
advancing] field of molecular genetics, combined with the large body of
evidence from other disciplines, collectively provide indisputable
demonstration of the theory of evolution." This is pure propaganda. What
constitutes 'indisputable demonstration'. That's like calling someone an
idiot if they disagree with you.

I could go on, but the above are illustrate for me why teaching evolution
is so problematic in the US. However, I acknowledge in advance, and as
always, that virtually everyone else on this list is probably happy with
the doctrinal approach to teaching evolution and would agree with all the
tenets since over 99% of all evolutionists [and systematists] are Darwinians.

And just a final note, nothing in the position statement indicated what was
the science of evolution.

John Grehan

Dr. John Grehan
Director of Science and Collections
Buffalo Museum of Science
1020 Humboldt Parkway
Buffalo, New York 14211-1293
Voice 716-896-5200 x372
Fax 716-897-6723
jgrehan at sciencebuff.org

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