“Evolution Readiness” and Other Tools for Teaching Evolution in Our Schools
|November 24, 2010||Posted by Clive Hayden under Biology, Culture, Education, Evolution, Intelligent Design, Science|
Education Week has this article expounding on the fruitfulness of campaigns designed to educate our youth in the theory of evolution.
When a federal court in 2005 rejected an attempt by the Dover, Pa., school board to introduce intelligent design as an alternative to evolution to explain the development of life on Earth, it sparked a renaissance in involvement among scientists in K-12 science instruction.
Now, some of those teaching programs, studies, and research centers are starting to bear fruit.
The National Science Foundation, the National Academy of Sciences, and other groups have increased research investment on identifying essential concepts for teaching evolution, including creating the Evolution Education Research Centre, a partnership of Harvard, McGill, and Chapman universities, and launching the first peer-reviewed journal dedicated to the subject, Journal of Evolution: Education and Outreach.
The Evolution Education Research Centre has such programs as the McGill Symposium on Islam and Evolution in which these questions are raised: “How is evolution taught and understood in Islamic societies? How do Muslim students, parents, and teachers understand evolutionary science in relation to their religious beliefs?” The more interesting question, that is not raised, in my mind, is “Why would evolution bring about a religion that is hostile to itself?” Evolution is the root cause of religion in the first place, according to evolutionists, so why bring about something that intends on defeating belief in itself? The real question should be asking why the evolution of human sensibilities and affinities is so schizophrenic, and whence comes the discernment or standard to choose which beliefs should be believed and which shouldn’t, coming from such a schizophrenic source. It’s nonsense, really. When the root of our ability to think is itself explained as a result of evolution, this includes all thoughts and all standards of comparison, and there could be no escape in any special realm of thought, not even thoughts about evolutionary biology. When one product of evolution is found to be wrong (as evolutionists believe with religion), then all products of evolution would also be called into question, that is, all thoughts; and there would remain no higher court to render the judgment, for all judgments would come from the source on trial, and the one on trial cannot also render the judgment or else the verdict is invalid.
“Evolution Readiness” is one such program designed to help teach the kids.
Evolution is a particularly daunting subject to teach and to understand. The evidence for it is indirect and the model rests largely on phenomena that cannot be directly observed, including some that are poorly understood to this day. With our attention focused on fourth graders, we aim to achieve “evolution readiness”–a state of understanding that can prepare a child to learn more in the next phase of a carefully sequenced learning progression.
A full understanding of evolution would require the acquisition of a detailed model of how information is encoded in DNA, interpreted in cells, and manifested in organisms and species.
The “evidence” of large scale evolution is so indirect it cannot be observed and should be believed, and then the indirectness is used as a reason for why there is no observable evidence. Why do biologists get away with arguing in a circle as long as it deals with evolution? A full understanding of evolution would indeed require the acquisition of a detailed model of how information in encoded in DNA, interpreted in cells, and manifested in organisms and species. As the Evolutionary Informatics Lab has shown, that information is not auto-generated by evolutionary tinkering, it has to have an intelligent source, which leads us back to Intelligent Design. It’s good to see this admission that a proper model of evolution ought to take into account real information.
At Elizabeth G. Lyons Elementary School in Randolph, Mass., one of a handful of states where the program is being tested, 4th graders have finished a unit on plant adaptation, in which they watched the changes to a water-sensitive-plant population as the amount of water available was altered. The class is now extending the computer model to include rabbits and will soon add hawks to illustrate a basic food chain, said lead researcher Paul Horwitz, a senior scientist at Concord.
“We thought deeply about how to teach concepts to kids this young,” Mr. Horwitz said. “I didn’t want children to ‘believe’ in science; I wanted them to understand it as an explanation for the natural world.”
Any proposition is, in the end, something believed. All sensations of the five senses are only made intelligible by our powers of inference. The existence of the external world relies on our ability of inference even to discern that there is an external world. And we believe that our inferences are correct. We believe that we’re not solipsists, and that the external world is not the product of our own thought, and that we’re not brains in a vat in which the world as we see it is some illusion. We believe that our minds have some purchase on external reality, that there are such things as inference and logic that have bearing on anything outside of our mind. Science is a tool that is believed in (that it ought to be practiced, that it works on the natural world, and produces accurate descriptions of nature) once there are sufficient grounds of metaphysical beliefs and philosophical presuppositions in place prior to practicing science. And secondly, science is never an explanation of the natural world, it is a set of descriptions. Real explanation answer the “why” question, not just the “how does this behave” question. Why nature should behave in certain ways and not others, and why nature continues to behave in a repeated pattern, why it should exist and behave at all—these are not questions that can be explained by virtue of detailed descriptions. We can see, with a real explanation, why 2+2=4. It really must be so, and we can see that 2+2=17 is a mental impossibility. We cannot see that a bird must lay eggs, as an idea we cannot see why it really must be that way, nor can we see why giving live birth would a mental impossibility, that is, we do not have a real explanation by science of the sort required for why nature behaves as it does. Repetition of nature is not an explanation, for repetition itself requires an explanation.
“But the distinction thus made between scientific and non scientific thoughts will not easily bear the weight we are attempting to put on it. The cycle of scientific thought is from experiment to hypothesis and thence to verification and a new hypothesis. Experiment means sense experiences specially arranged. Verification involves inferences. ‘If X existed, then under conditions Y, we should have the experience Z.’ We then produce the conditions Y and Z appears. We thence infer the existence of X. Now it is clear that the only part of this process which assures us of any reality outside ourselves is precisely the inference ‘If X, then Z’, or conversely, ‘Since Z, therefore X.’ The other parts of the process, namely hypothesis and experiment, cannot by themselves give us any assurance. The hypothesis is, admittedly, a mental construction—something, as they say, ‘inside our own heads’. And the experiment is a state of our own consciousness. It is, say, a dial reading or a color seen if you heat the fluid in the test tube. That is to say, it is a state of visual sensation. The apparatus used in the experiment is believed to exist outside our minds only on the strength of an inference: it is inferred as the cause of our visual sensations. I am not at all suggesting that the inference is a bad one. I am not a subjective idealist and I fully believe that the distinction we make between an experiment in a dream and an experiment in a laboratory is a sound one. I am only pointing out that the material or external world in general is an inferred world and that therefore particular experiments, far from taking us out of the magic circle of inference into some supposed direct contact with reality, are themselves evidential only as part of that great inference.
The physical sciences, then, depend on the validity of logic just as much as metaphysics or mathematics. If popular thought feels ‘science’ to be different from all other kinds of knowledge because science is experimentally verifiable, popular thought is mistaken. Experimental verification is not a new kind of assurance coming in to supply the deficiencies of mere logic. We should therefore abandon the distinction between scientific and non-scientific thought. The proper distinction is between logical and non-logical thought.”
~C. S. Lewis, De Futilitate.
We ought to be teaching children how to think, and then they wouldn’t swallow the absurdity of evolutionary science cooked with a dash of scientism.