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This video is a composite of answers to this question by candidates for the Miss USA Crown. The vast majority don't believe in evolution, but most seem to think that both evolution and creationism should be taught in school. The California girl that got the crown is a science nerd! Yeay!! Miss Kentucky (~5:30ish) represents the south painfully well.

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( 24 comments — Leave a comment )
ford_prefect42
Jun. 22nd, 2011 07:26 pm (UTC)
At this point... I think that they ought to stop teaching either. It's a piece of teaching that isn't really *needed* by anyone for any purpose, and is a divisive issue to no actual purpose. Perhaps offer evolutionary biology as an elective. We've got enough major problems that getting distracted by minutia is unhelpful.

For the record, when there's a discrepancy in the "theories" between demonstrable science and religion, it isn't a tough call. I don't "believe" in evolution, I *know* that it takes place.

My big problem is that it is not the role of schools to teach values, to contradict or undermine parents, or to do anything other than to impart knowledge. Part of the problem with our country is that, for too long, the school systems have been corrupted into being indoctrination centers. They should be returned to teaching the "three Rs".
liveonearth
Jun. 22nd, 2011 08:47 pm (UTC)
Interesting perspective. Yes, far as I am concerned evolution is a fact, not a theory. Pretty much all educated people agree, and those educated people who cling to religion find some way to reconcile the two. There is a lag in cultural change--the scientists realize what's going on first, because they're actively looking at it. The educated people listen to the science and make what they can of it. The less educated people are more subject to disinformation campaigns, which is what has our population to polarized.

I disagree with you that it should not be taught, because it is divisive. We can't afford not to fight back with facts against disinformation. Eventually the truth will be known. Education is for those who would like to be educated. Those who would like to remain ignorant need not seek it out.

In high school students have a choice of which science electives they choose, and if they choose biology, ecology, or geology they can't get far without embracing evolution. If they choose physics or astonomy they might be able to avoid evolution. Offering creationism as a science class is ludicrous: there is nothing scientific about it.
ford_prefect42
Jun. 22nd, 2011 09:34 pm (UTC)
I ask, exactly *why* is it necessary to teach origins in biology? Would the teachers not be able to simply ignore the question? Does the mechainsm of creation impact osmotic pressures? Does the lack of a design methodology change bone composition?

I agree that it's absurd to teach religion as science, but it is frequently very possible to avoid the conversation.

Here's the problem with your second paragraph. They *didn't* seek it out, they are mandated to appear in that classroom and have these topics forced upon them. In most areas, biology is not an elective class, it's the standard ninth grade class at my local high school, the only other option is *regents* biology. I would agree with you wholeheartedly if primary and secondary schooling were *optional*, but so long as it's mandatory, there is some obligation on the part of the system to respect (or at least tread lightly near) the beliefs of the parents and the students in the classroom.
vonheston
Jun. 23rd, 2011 12:56 am (UTC)
I ask, exactly *why* is it necessary to teach origins in biology?

Because it is impossible to grasp the concepts of modern biology without a correct understanding of evolution. It's not just about origins of human life, not at all. What you are talking about is rote memorization of fact (osmotic pressure, bone composition, etc) as opposed to scientific reasoning - the latter being the more important skill to take away from a science class, in a practical sense.

Personally, I found it must more offensive that I had calculus forced upon me than evolution. But some liberal know-it-all apparently decided we have to math in order to rightfully claim a high school diploma. The nerve! The Torah clearly states that pi is equal to 3, not 3.14whatever!
ford_prefect42
Jun. 23rd, 2011 01:31 am (UTC)
No, it is not necessary to understand evolution to comprehend the functioning of biological systems. In no way does it make any difference whatsoever to biology how the current organisms came into being in their present state. It is not "rote memorization" to teach the chemistry, anatomy, physiology, celular structure, etcetera *without* teaching evolution. It has no effect on the material outside of the evolution segment itself. Nor would the lack of the evolution segment in biology have substantial impacts on the knowledge gained about the scientific method, as the *rest* of the course still gives an excellent overview of how the systems were discovered and described.

There would be a solid case to be made for teaching evolution as a requirement in say, natural history, because it would not be possible to teach the class without it, but that is genuinely untrue of biology, there is no need for it there. The insistence that it be taught, to *everyone* in the face of a huge controversy, and over the objections of a substantial percentage of the populace seems rather... spiteful? cussed? mean-spirited?

Again, I'd have no problem with it *if* the course were elective or attendance optional. But forcing *every* child, regardless of the wishes of the parents to be taught this particular thing undermines the rights of the parents, infringes on the free exercise of religion, causes friction in the classroom which distracts from the actual *teaching*, and serves no particular purpose.


Actually, I'd be happiest with giving it to the states, yes, we'd probably wind up with a few "dumb" states, but that's fine.
liveonearth
Jun. 23rd, 2011 06:29 am (UTC)
Time to turn on the lights! Everything about anatomy and physiology is the way it is because of evolution. EVERYTHING. Biology and evolution are inseparable, IF you are to go beyond memorization of factoids and come to understand why and how things got that way, what they are doing now, and what they are likely to do and be in the future given the changing environmental pressures on them..... You can teach a biology class without directly addressing evolution, but even if you never once say the word it is staring you in the face. It is unavoidable in the sense that gravity is unavoidable. To avoid gravity you must avoid large masses. To avoid evolution you must avoid life. Biology is the study of life.

Edited at 2011-06-23 06:32 am (UTC)
ford_prefect42
Jun. 23rd, 2011 12:53 pm (UTC)
I think that there is a confusion between how biology is taught *now*, with the complete inseparability of evolution, based at least in part on the desire of the "educated" to rub the noses of the religious in it, and how biology *must* be taught. The thing is here, we're not talking about your medical degree, we're talking about 9th grade biology, a course that exists as a very basic intro course to the concepts underlying biology. Yes, one of those concepts is evolution, and if they are to study biology over geological epochs evolution would be unaviodable. But there isn't a compelling reason to do that in a mandatory course. The course could just as well spend it's time introducing the other concepts such as what osmotic pressures *are*, how bone structures differ between humans and avians, the various systems common to all animals and their functions, etcetera.

Alternatively, making it an elective course would solve the issue.

I should note here that A) I am an athiest, B) I really enjoy evolutionary biology. I am not defending *my* beliefs here, I am defending the right of others to their beliefs.


Here's my main issue, I don't want the school system to be a "re-education camp". I don't want the primary responsibility of raising children transferred to the state. This particular issue, evolution, is a lightning-rod on parents rights, the *right* of parents to teach their children as they see fit, and that is more important than whether 9-th graders get a good complete understanding of biology. Much more. What exactly is *lost* in making the class elective? As compared to the loss that is guaranteed in having parents lose control of the teaching of beliefs to their children?

The ends do not justify the means.
liveonearth
Jun. 23rd, 2011 03:24 pm (UTC)
Are you saying not that not only do we not need to teach evolution, we don't need to teach biology? Really, back the the RRR's and let students sort out the rest? I'm contemplating this idea.

As for an evolution elective, I think it's a great idea. So far as I know evolution has just been one chapter in a standard overview biology text, along with cell biology/histology, population biology/genetics, ecology, a grand overview of animal and plant kingdoms, and so on. Evolution has and should be immersed in, not singled out from biology. Up to now it has been accepted as a part of a standard biology curriculum. Simply part of the language of biology. To remove it now because disinformation and ignorance are rampant in our culture is to downgrade the value of education. Better to cause riots than to allow education to become worthless. People who understand that bird bones are lighter the dog bones but not why are missing out.
ford_prefect42
Jun. 23rd, 2011 04:48 pm (UTC)
Whose children are they? Are they yours? Why do you get to make the decision on what they get taught(over the objections of their parents and themselves)? Do you have to have the arguments with them when you are trying to teach them moral behavior and they keep insisting that because the school says one thing and you say another that your word is meaningless? Do you have to drag them kicking and screaming to community functions because they reject your religion because their school said that humans evolved? What gives you the right to make these decisions not just for your own children, but for mine as well? Whose responsibility is it to raise your children?

You *do* realize that if you surrender to the state the power to teach a specified subject over the objections of the parents, that that *absolutely will* one day be used for something you *don't* agree with? It may be that christians will take the majority of the elected positions, and they will *insist* that all public schools *must* teach creationism to all students. Don't laugh, these things happen, and they always happen based on what has been mandated in the past. Say "it's better to have riots than remain ignorant" now and you open the door for all future people with *any* agenda to push. How sure are you that evolution is worth it?

Yes, I am suggesting that biology could be clipped from the "core curriculum". I am saying that it's better to permit the ignorant to remain ignorant than to trample parents rights, degrade the overall culture, and create yet another division in this country to no particular gain. I am saying that if biology were made an elective course (and taught with evolution as integral) that the problem would be irrelovent.


Now, you also realize that you've contradicted yourself. You said before that evolution is inseparable, but here you said that it is a mere chapter in the course. If it's a mere chapter, then it could easily be dropped from the *core* course (the mandatory one) without significant damage to the knowledge imparted, if it's integral, inseparable part then in order to not teach evolution the only possible way would be to not teach biology. Care to clear up the confusion?


As I said, I love evolutionary biology, it does make a lot of things make much more sense, but necessary? That's questionable at best.
liveonearth
Jun. 23rd, 2011 06:52 pm (UTC)
You remind me so much of someone I hold dear. There is no need to carry on this discussion any further. You win. =-]
ford_prefect42
Jun. 23rd, 2011 07:52 pm (UTC)
You know another abrasive, paranoid, hyper-logical know-it-all? Cool, I was worried that I might be the only one!

I do like that you can have these discussions and not take offense.
liveonearth
Jun. 24th, 2011 09:50 pm (UTC)
Funny you should describe yourself that way. My sweetie might get offended. =-] It's all cool, my friend. I appreciate that you are willing to take a position and defend it. Far better than all the wishywashiness out there.
vonheston
Jun. 26th, 2011 07:03 am (UTC)
You are incorrect. I suggest reading the introductory chapters to "Biology" by Campbell, the standard 101-102 Biology textbook for a full explanation of why it is incorrect to say that an understanding of evolution is necessary to fully comprehend and benefit from said subjects (in terms of critical thinking skills gained), outside of skills which can be gained via simple memorization. I can't see why else we would need teach these skills to students, after all, outside of the development of such skills. But I take it from your comments that you are a not a huge fan of liberal arts curriculum? Seeing as you seem to think it would be ok to make these courses electives, a position which would only be reached by someone who misunderstanding the rationale behind teaching these courses in the first place. (again, it's about the thinking skills gained) You can't divorce an understanding of any of those things you've listed from evolution without doing away with the most useful aspects of learning said things, from a lay perspective.

Your perspective on the ignorant being allowed to remain ignorant vs. parent's rights is similarly distressing, and I say that as a religious studies/jewish studies student with a degree in social science. You must not be familiar with the outcomes of such a position on 'conservative' communities. (which just so happens to be one of my focuses of study) All I can say is, don't drink the "public school = brainwashing" koolaid so quickly. This is the battle cry of those who would rather their children remain ignorant than run the risk of disobeying family/cultural tradition. Oh boohoo that this might be inconvenient for the parents; since when is the convenience of someone good reason to control the mind of another?

Below you ask whose children these are and what gives us (or the state) to right to make this decision, and I will tell you what gives us this right: they are American citizens, and the government has the duty to protect the civil rights of its citizens. Children are not the property of their parents; you don't own your kids, they are autonomous human beings and they have a right to a quality education. It is child abuse to deny specific children full and meaningful education on par with that or their peers just because they are members of a conservative religious or cultural group. This is a huge problems in the Jewish communities, with the yeshiva system, and as a consequence there are myriad of serious social issues with plague the religious Jewish community, and cost the societies which host them a boatload of money.
ford_prefect42
Jun. 26th, 2011 01:58 pm (UTC)
Whatevs. done with this debate.

Disagree withg absolutely everything you said on moral, ethical, civil rights, and scientific grounds, but don't care to debate this further.
liveonearth
Jun. 27th, 2011 03:29 am (UTC)
Thank you for chiming in! !!!
liveonearth
Jun. 23rd, 2011 06:21 pm (UTC)
I have found calculus to be useless as well. There are a few concepts that keep coming up with some relevance when I try to understand the research, but the actual practice of calculus has not been necessary, so I have forgotten all but the general concepts.
vonheston
Jun. 23rd, 2011 01:00 am (UTC)
I thought Delaware 'got it' for a second, but then the last 60% of her answer confused me as it seemed to have nothing to do with the first 40%. Does she think 'evolution' is a class in its own right or something? Lol. These responses are (almost) all canned/generic.

Why do pageants even exist anymore? They are so 1960s. Do people even still watch them? (outside of people on the internet making fun of the hilariously stupid people who enter them, obviously)
liveonearth
Jun. 23rd, 2011 06:25 am (UTC)
My dad was watching the pageant when I called him on father's day...... I guess somebody watches them. And my dad is the classic science nerd, math geek: he has no excuse save old age...
liveonearth
Jun. 23rd, 2011 07:25 pm (UTC)
what is the purpose of education?
This discussion has me pondering. Why exactly do we as a society want our kids to be educated? What do we want to get out of it? Assuming, in so far as we collectively pay taxes and send our children to school, that we DO want them to be educated. In The Story of B, Daniel Quinn argues that rather than educating children, the purpose of school is keeping kids babysat and off the job market.

It is also reasonable to assert that early education is part of a child's introduction to his broader culture and values. It prepares him to be a citizen with integrity and a work ethic. There is certainly a problem with our melting pot society in that we have a hard time agreeing on the most fundamental values, so young students are taught less and less in order to avoid conflict. This has generated 1-3 generations of students with progressively less that they can agree on.

My underlying assumption is that early education is to build language and reasoning skills. Math is reasoning. Language is every subject, because you can't talk about anything without it. Science is about reasoning also, as the conclusions chase after the evidence. But at some point, when the abilities of reasoning and communication are well developed, the pursuit turns to knowledge. Building a network of understanding using information plugged into a reasoning mind.

Is there some aspect of education I am forgetting? Do you think there is a very different purpose?
ford_prefect42
Jun. 26th, 2011 02:15 pm (UTC)
Re: what is the purpose of education?
I view the role of the schools as to provide support to parents in raising children to be educated society members.

This means that the role of the schools is *subservient* to that of the parents. The debate goes both ways BTW, I have met many parents that have been instructed *not* to teach their children to read or write, or to teach them science at home because then the child will be bored in class. Can you imagine that? The school actually instructing parents *not* to teach their children?

It also means that the curriculum will need to be flexible to avoid the situation becoming adversarial (such as the evolution debate). More classes should be elective, and fewer mandatory. More differentiation of classes should be offered (advanced standard and remedial), different degree types should be offered in more cases (trade, standard and college track). Much of the current curriculum really *is* simple brainwashing, and should be dropped (this'll allow most of the things I listed to be done without needing to spend more than we already do).

Further, It should not be mandatory. nor should it be federal. Education is *not* a "right". It's something that really ought to be offered to everyone if at all possible, but there is no reason to institute it at the federal level, nor is there any reason to cram disruptive students into a classroom where they can see to it that *no one* gets an education. For many, public education is their only way out of a bad situation, for others, it's nothing more than a safe hunting ground for criminal activity.
liveonearth
Jun. 27th, 2011 03:26 am (UTC)
Re: what is the purpose of education?
I can totally imagine schools wanting the kids to come in with plenty to learn. Nothing worse than sitting through classes on shit you already know... Though kids can get bumped forward when their skills exceed their classmates.

"Rights" are certainly a touchy issue. I personally believe that we only have "rights" when we decide as a society that we are going to allow each other to have. For example, I don't see that we have any inherent right to life, liberty, or the pursuit of happiness. Rather, we agree that we value these things and want everyone in our nation to share in them. In this way we could decide that we want everyone to share in some kind of education, or retirement plan, or healthcare, etc. A "right" is not inherent, it is a social contract.
ford_prefect42
Jun. 27th, 2011 04:07 am (UTC)
Re: what is the purpose of education?
For myself, I am a big believer in "negative" rights, meaning that your "right" to life means that it's not okay to murder you, your "right" to liberty meaning that no one can imprison you without due process. Where I have a *huge* problem is in saying that anyone has a "right" to anything that must be created by another person. "Positive" rights seem to lead rather directly to slavery. To say that a person has a "right" to food is to say that the farmers are enslaved. To say that a person has a "right" to medical care is to enslave the doctors. A "right" to education enslaves the teachers. Now, it *can* be done differently, by enslaving uninvolved parties to pay the doctors to provide the meidcal care, or whatever, but it still comes back to the same thing, whenever something is provided as a "right", it is taken by force from another.

Now, a just society will probably try pretty hard to provide, as a kindhearted service, medical care, education, and food, but for every person that avails themselves of those services, the overall society is due thanks, not condemnation for the instances of failing to deliver them.

The school that instructs parents to *not* teach their children is a failure. Completely and utterly.
ford_prefect42
Jun. 26th, 2011 02:38 pm (UTC)
I'd also like to address for a few seconds why the other side of the evolution debate is willing to go to such lengths on this one. We'll note that no one much argues about teaching the big bang, or calculus, or the nonevolutionary aspects of biology, or astronomy, or pretty much any other science.

It's because evolution is the *one* thing that destroys their entire belief system. It means that humans are *not in any way* special, it means that you really are no different than your cat. That there are no moralities that matter, no heaven, no hell, no judgement, when you die, you don't go to a "better place", you rot in the ground.

To many people... That's intolerable, they will not, cannot, accept it and continue living their lives. The notion that their dead loved ones are simply *gone*, that all of their lives have merit solely based on what they leave behind (which for almost everyone is nothing). That when their child asks "what happens when we die", you have to answer "nothing, ever again".


Now, all that is an "appeal to consequence" and the evolutionary position has the virtue of being *correct*, but it is perhaps not necessary to think ill of those that go the other way with it.
liveonearth
Jun. 27th, 2011 03:20 am (UTC)
Good point. For the true believer, evolution is anathema.
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