Be patient, Cata. I wasn't finished posting.
My screen stopped working last night and I had to buy a new one this morning.
You have now heard Gish's opinion. You have also heard the opinion of some of the Evolutionists. Now for my opinion:
Although I may not favor mandating teaching both sides, I would opt for teaching both sides if I were teaching a science class. Here are my arguments:▶ Just as it is wrong to mistreat religious skeptical minorities, it is wrong to mistreat Creationist students.
I once knew a Creationist who had an Evolutionist science teacher in high school. She spoke of having to write Evolutionist answers on her exam papers.
I have also had to express opinions contrary to my own opinion on exams. So I can understand her point.
If I were teaching the class, I would ask questions like "What did Spencer believe?" "What did "Kropotkin believe?" "What did Bishop Ussher believe?" I might also ask "What does Gish believe?" That is a far cry from asking whether these individuals were right or wrong.▶ False or dubious statements can become true if expressed as dependent clauses.
It may not be true that the Jews were a menace, but it is true that Hitler said that they were. This is taught in history class everywhere. It may not be true that Communism can liberate the working masses, but it is true that Marx said that it could. This is taught in social studies class everywhere.
And if that is not enough, consider how much fictional content is taught in literature class. Should Romeo and Juliet be thrown out just because they were not real people?
If I were teaching a science class, I would not say that giraffes pass on acquired characteristics to their offspring, but I would say that Lamarck said that they did. I would not say that we should all submit to a eugenics program, but I would say that Galton said that we should.▶ It is important to learn to argue scientifically.
In upper elementary school, I was taught that a ship appears on the harbor masthead first. I was also taught that people on one hemisphere see the stars differently from people on the other hemisphere.
A clearly thinking person might see this as evidence that the earth is round. This is better than teaching that the earth is round because the teacher says so or because the textbook says so.
We cannot teach that the earth is round without considering false or dubious notions. By the same token, we cannot teach that living species have evolved without considering false or dubious notions.▶ If the slope proves slippery, so much the better.
As we have seen, Kenneth Miller (1982a) and Saladin (1988i) are afraid that allowing Creationism in the schools would lead to allowing countless other wacko claims in the schools.
Good! Let's open the floodgates! Zindler (1985) teaches a university course on wacko claims; why not bring it on in the public schools?
There are countless ways that students could learn from the dementia which abounds in our environment. The astrology columns tell us that we are Ares, Cancers, Leos, and Pisces. It would be interesting for the students to run experiments on their classmates to see if they are really as ovine, cancrine, leonine, or piscine as astrologers would have us believe.
Who knows, the students may even perform an experiment which will add to the total body of knowledge. Meet Emily Rosa. In 1998, this 11-year- old fourth grader ran an experiment which invalidated a pseudo-scientific healing art known as Therapeutic Touch. With the help of a few adults (Rosa et al. 1998), this experiment was written up and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. If this sort of research is encouraged in the schools, there is no telling how many more Emily Rosa's we can discover.
You may say, "Why waste all this time on crackpot ideas? Why not just tell the students that they are a silly waste of time?" That would be just as wrong. Until someone tests Therapeutic Touch, we don't know whether it is valid or not. If it is valid, we should take notice of it; if it is not valid, we should not. Emily Rosa hypothesized that it was valid and she hypothesized that it was not. It was only through her experiment that she found out which hypothesis was true.
The line between debunking and skepticism may be thin, but it is very important. We don't know all the independent variables, dependent variables, and correlating variables that there are to know. So any seemingly loony hypothesis could uncover a variable which we don't already know about.
Only a few decades ago, people would have laughed if you suggested describing a person from a hair follicle. And what are well-trained scientists doing in DNA laboratories today? Making hair follicle readings!▶ Classifying human knowledge is difficult and not that important anyway.
No matter how you compartmentalize human knowledge, you are going to find borderline cases. Librarians have a system of classification, but they still might have trouble shelving books on art history, which deal with both art and history, or music education, which deal with both music and education. For an example closer to the point, look how much debate time has been spent over what is religion and what is science.
It is wasteful to throw away anything which does not make a snug fit into one compartment or another. I would rather remove the walls between the compartments. ▶ Teaching Creationism in the public schools is not much different from teaching Creationism in the university.
As previously mentioned, at least three of Gish's critics (Zindler 1985; Saladin 1986; Thwaites 1986) already do exactly what Gish wants them to do--teach Creationism.
The only problem is, they teach it on a university level, whereas Gish wants it taught in the public schools. I do not understand why one of those critics (Saladin 1988g, 1988i) is among those who is fighting the hardest against Creationism in the public schools.
According to Piagetian theory, the highest cognitive level is usually reached at about the age of 11. That is the age at when the child can think in the abstract. So I would draw the line at the upper elementary level, not the university level.▶ We can never be absolutely sure which side is right.
Why won't the paleontologists show us any Cambrian vertebrates? Why do the fossils, the junk DNA, the vestigial organs, and the embryos all give us the same information? Why do life forms have to be content with imperfect organs, such as panda thumbs?
I know only one answer to any of these questions, and that's Evolution. But then again, I don't know everything. Maybe there are other answers. If there are, then students should know about them.▶ The art of discernment is a skill which is sorely neglected in a student's education.
What should you do when a religious pamphleteer approaches you on the street corner? What should you do when a friend tries to sign you up for a multi-level marketing scheme? What should you do when a stranger from another country accesses your e-mail address and promises to put millions of dollars in your bank account? What should you do when a propagandist visits your town, appears at a public debate, and congratulates your local football team?
For most of us, our schooling leaves us unprepared for situations like these. If students are presented with two opposing views and encouraged to weigh both sides, we might be better prepared.
Deceptive people realize that the educational system leaves this gap. Where do religious cults set up their recruitment centers? Right outside university campuses!
Furthermore, it's not just the discouraged and troubled students who prove to be likely recruits. Brilliant students are vulnerable, too. When I was in high school, I knew a brilliant music student who was also an academic honor student. I expected him to become famous in the music field. Instead, he is now working in the administrative office of a notoriously ridiculous religious cult.
I wonder where he would be if he had taken a class under Dr. Zindler.
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Institute for Creation Research. 1985. 1985-1987 Graduate School Catalog
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Miller, K. 1982a. Answers to the standard Creationist arguments. Creation/Evolution
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Rosa, L.; Rosa, E.; Sarner, L.; Barrett, S. 1998. A close look at Therapeutic Touch. Journal of the American Medical Association
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Saladin, K. S. 1986. Educational approaches to creationist politics in Georgia. In Hanson: 104-127.
_____. 1988g. Saladin-Gish debate, May 10, 1988 at Auburn University, Auburn, AL: Question-answer period.http://www.infidels....2/question.html
_____. 1988h. Closing statement for the affirmative.http://www.infidels....2/saladin4.html
_____. 1988i. Closing statement for the negative.http://www.infidels....ish2/gish4.html
Shermer, M. 2002. 25 Creationists' arguments & 25 Evolutionists' answers. http://rock.geosocie.../ev_shermer.htmhttp://www.sullivan-.../25_answers.htm
Thwaites. W. M. 1986. A two-model creation versus evolution course. In Hanson: 92-103.
Zindler, F. 1985. Maculate deception: the 'science' of creationism. American Atheist
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_____. 1990. Is Creationism science? A debate between Duane Gish and Frank Zindler. Aired during the evening of January 11, 1990 on "Night Talk."http://www.infidels....sh-zindler.html