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How should different or "alternative" theories to evolution be addressed in a science class?

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Presentation on theme: "How should different or "alternative" theories to evolution be addressed in a science class?"— Presentation transcript:

1 How should different or "alternative" theories to evolution be addressed in a science class?

2 Unit questions: What is the difference between the scientific community's and the general public's use of the word "theory"? What is the Theory of Evolution? Are there "alternative" theories to evolution, what are they, and are they valid?

3 “Just a Theory”: Understanding Evolution Tony Odom

4 Overview Scientific Theories vs. “Just a Theory.” Evolution: What it is and what it isn’t. “Alternative” Theories: Are they “scientific”? Implications for educators.

5 “Just a Theory.” Generally, when people use the term “theory,” they equate it with “opinion.” People also tend to assume that all opinions are created equal. Therefore: if “theory” = “opinion,” and “all opinions” = “equal validity” then “all theories” = “equal validity”

6 Scientific Theory A scientific theory doesn’t work that way. From “In science, [a] ‘theory’ … is a logical explanation based on all the available evidence.” Additionally, it “must be capable of predicting further correlations.”

7 How a scientific theory develops: Gather evidence, through experimentation and research. Using scientific laws and logic, develop an explanation to fit the evidence. Predict what will happen or what will be found if the theory is valid. Further research and experimentation will either validate or invalidate your theory.

8 The Theory of Evolution First proposed by Charles Darwin in his book “The Origin of the Species”. Evolution states that the diversity of life on earth was brought about by descent from common ancestry with modification.

9 Evolutionary Mechanisms Evolution works through six mechanisms: – Mutation – Selection – Genetic Drift (descent) – Adaptation – Gene flow (migration) – Speciation

10 Evidentiary Support Fossils DNA Observation Experimentation h/topics.php?topic_id=14 h/topics.php?topic_id=14

11 What Evolution does not attempt to do: Explain the origin of life. Explain the origin of the earth. Explain the origin of the universe.* Have anything to do with the question of whether or not a God exists. * Evolution also has nothing to do with the Big Bang Theory or any other theory dealing with this question.

12 Evolution is not: 100% Random A religious point of view or statement of faith “Survival of the Fittest”

13 Proposed “Alternative” Theories Intelligent Design Creationism

14 Intelligent Design (I.D.) Proposes that life, the universe and everything was brought about through the actions of an “intelligent” entity, force or mechanism. The entity used either natural and discernible methods, or supernatural and mysterious ones.

15 Problems with I.D. as a scientific theory: Part 1 It has to be shown. If one claims that “A” made “B”, then one must show: – Evidence that “A” exists. – Evidence that “A” is capable of creating “B.” – Evidence that “A” could have feasibly created the “B” in question at the time and under similar circumstances that “B” first appeared.

16 Problems with I.D. as a scientific theory: Part 2 I.D. allows for supernatural intervention. Science by definition* cannot allow for supernatural explanations. *science: systematic knowledge of the physical world gained through observation and experimentation

17 Problems with I.D. as a belief There are none. A “belief” is something accepted as true despite the lack of evidentiary support.

18 Creationism Creationism is a belief that a particular God or Gods created life, the universe and everything. A “God” is defined as a being or object believed to have more than natural attributes and powers and to require human worship; specifically : one controlling a particular aspect or part of reality

19 Problems with Creationism as a scientific theory: Gods do not operate within the bounds of natural, observable reality. Gods don’t “play by the rules” of science. They are not observable, measurable or testable. Therefore, establishing the existence of a God or Gods is scientifically impossible.

20 Problems with Creationism as a scientific theory: If the existence of something cannot be scientifically established, then it is impossible to scientifically establish that the God or Gods created anything, much less everything.

21 Problems with creationism as a belief: There are none. Matters of belief and faith require no standard of evidentiary support.

22 Implications for educators Epperson v. Arkansas (1968) invalidated state laws that prohibit the teaching of evolution in science classes. Edwards v. Aguillard (1987) ruled that Creationism cannot be taught in the science classroom as it endorses a particular religious point of view. Creationism began to be repackaged as “Intelligent Design.” Kitzmiller v. Dover (2005) the Federal Court ruled that Intelligent Design was a form of creationism.

23 Implications for Educators Many students may be under the assumption that either they must accept science or their religion as “the truth.” The fact is, many religious believers and organizations both accept the science of evolution and hold true to their faiths.

24 Dr. Robert Bakker Dr. Bakker holds degrees from both Harvard and Yale and is a leading expert on raptor evolution. He is the curator of paleontology at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Bakker is also an ordained Christian minster. He says that to treat the Bible as a common science book robs it of its eternal meaning.

25 The Catholic Church “The sciences of observation describe and measure the multiple manifestations of life with increasing precision and correlate them with the time line. … But the experience of metaphysical knowledge, of self-awareness and self-reflection, of moral conscience, freedom, or again, of aesthetic and religious experience, falls within the competence of philosophical analysis and reflection while theology brings out its ultimate meaning according to the Creator's plans.” – Pope John Paul II, 1996

26 United Methodist Church We recognize science as a legitimate interpretation of God’s natural world. We affirm the validity of the claims of science in describing the natural world and in determining what is scientific. We preclude science from making authoritative claims about theological issues and theology from making authoritative claims about scientific issues. We find that science’s descriptions of cosmological, geological, and biological evolution are not in conflict with theology. -United Methodist Church, 2008

27 Billy Graham “The Bible is not a book of science. The Bible is a book of Redemption, and of course I accept the Creation story. I believe that God did create the universe. I believe that God created man, and whether it came by an evolutionary process and at a certain point He took this person or being and made him a living soul or not, does not change the fact that God did create man.... whichever way God did it makes no difference as to what man is and man's relationship to God.”

28 St. Augustine Even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world … and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn.


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