SC state senator blocks the inclusion of 'natural selection' in school science standards

You people are far too complacent this morning, so I thought I'd get your blood going with a blog on the eternal battle between science and religion.

A South Carolina state senator, Mike Fair, is blocking the inclusion of "natural selection" in science standards for state schools. A committee approved the standards but sent the supposedly "controversial" section on evolution back to a subcommittee for "further consideration."

Island Packet (Hilton Head):

A state senator's skepticism about Charles Darwin's evolutionary theory held up the full adoption of South Carolina's K-12 standards for what students learn in science class.

The S.C. Education Oversight Committee -- the state's education research and accountability arm -- approved most of the state's revised science standards at its meeting Monday, sending the standard on evolution back to subcommittee for review. The standards were last updated in 2005.

State Sen. Mike Fair, R-Greenville, objected to the proposed revision of the evolution standard, which asked students to "analyze and interpret data, using the principles of natural selection, to make predictions about the long term biological changes that may occur within two populations of the same species that become geographically isolated from one another."

"There's not but one theory coming from the principles of natural selection," Fair said. "There are more than one (theory of evolution). But the one that is being taught and will continue to be taught is Darwinism."

Phillip Bowers of Pickens, House Speaker Bobby Harrell's appointee on the Oversight Committee, said he shared Fair's desire to revisit the treatment of evolution and asked whether "we're teaching something that is proven to be false."

Bowers asked that the board adopt the standards, sending the evolution standard back to committee.

Both the state Board of Education and the Oversight Committee must approve the standards before they take effect.

The state Board of Education approved the standards at its January meeting, rejecting an effort to include "creation by design" as an alternative theory to evolution.

"What frustrates us are when pieces of (the standards) -- evolution -- are singled out for religious and political reasons," said Rob Dillon, a College of Charleston biology professor and president of South Carolinians for Science Education.

"Mike Fair singles out evolution for special treatment. It is no more scientifically controversial than photosynthesis."

Part of the problem is immediately apparent in the reporting of the story. Modern ideas on evolution have about as much to do with Charles Darwin as atomic theory has to do with Ernest Rutherford. Rutherford mostly got it right about the structure of the atom but over the last 100 years, the world of atomic physics has left him far behind. The same could be said for evolutionary biology and Darwin.

No matter. It is a constant source of amazement to me that there are so many in the United States who reject what most of the rest of the industrialized world takes for granted. Here's a chart showing the rate of acceptance of evolution by 34 western countrires.

The US is next to last:

Is the rest of the western world held in thrall by some evil spell created by  Darwinists? Or are Americans just overly superstituous?

But why not teach both - creationism and Darwinism - and let the kids make up their own mind? Might as well teach the Big Bang and the Steady State Theory on the origins of the universe, despite overwhelming evidence for the BB. There are plenty of discredited theories out there that we could teach alongside their scientific counterparts and let the kids decide if they want to believe in hokum or accepted science. For example, until Einstein came along, everyone believed that Newton had it right about gravity. Shouldn't we let the kids decide if gravity is a force or a product of space-time?

Creationism (and its twin, intelligent design) are fine to believe in if you're religiously inclined. When the belief is personal, you're not imposing your religious views on the rest of us. The overwhelming scientific evidence for evolution, however, can only be suppressed if we ignore what the scientific community - and the vast majority of citizens in other western countries - take for granted.








You people are far too complacent this morning, so I thought I'd get your blood going with a blog on the eternal battle between science and religion.

A South Carolina state senator, Mike Fair, is blocking the inclusion of "natural selection" in science standards for state schools. A committee approved the standards but sent the supposedly "controversial" section on evolution back to a subcommittee for "further consideration."

Island Packet (Hilton Head):

A state senator's skepticism about Charles Darwin's evolutionary theory held up the full adoption of South Carolina's K-12 standards for what students learn in science class.

The S.C. Education Oversight Committee -- the state's education research and accountability arm -- approved most of the state's revised science standards at its meeting Monday, sending the standard on evolution back to subcommittee for review. The standards were last updated in 2005.

State Sen. Mike Fair, R-Greenville, objected to the proposed revision of the evolution standard, which asked students to "analyze and interpret data, using the principles of natural selection, to make predictions about the long term biological changes that may occur within two populations of the same species that become geographically isolated from one another."

"There's not but one theory coming from the principles of natural selection," Fair said. "There are more than one (theory of evolution). But the one that is being taught and will continue to be taught is Darwinism."

Phillip Bowers of Pickens, House Speaker Bobby Harrell's appointee on the Oversight Committee, said he shared Fair's desire to revisit the treatment of evolution and asked whether "we're teaching something that is proven to be false."

Bowers asked that the board adopt the standards, sending the evolution standard back to committee.

Both the state Board of Education and the Oversight Committee must approve the standards before they take effect.

The state Board of Education approved the standards at its January meeting, rejecting an effort to include "creation by design" as an alternative theory to evolution.

"What frustrates us are when pieces of (the standards) -- evolution -- are singled out for religious and political reasons," said Rob Dillon, a College of Charleston biology professor and president of South Carolinians for Science Education.

"Mike Fair singles out evolution for special treatment. It is no more scientifically controversial than photosynthesis."

Part of the problem is immediately apparent in the reporting of the story. Modern ideas on evolution have about as much to do with Charles Darwin as atomic theory has to do with Ernest Rutherford. Rutherford mostly got it right about the structure of the atom but over the last 100 years, the world of atomic physics has left him far behind. The same could be said for evolutionary biology and Darwin.

No matter. It is a constant source of amazement to me that there are so many in the United States who reject what most of the rest of the industrialized world takes for granted. Here's a chart showing the rate of acceptance of evolution by 34 western countrires.

The US is next to last:

Is the rest of the western world held in thrall by some evil spell created by  Darwinists? Or are Americans just overly superstituous?

But why not teach both - creationism and Darwinism - and let the kids make up their own mind? Might as well teach the Big Bang and the Steady State Theory on the origins of the universe, despite overwhelming evidence for the BB. There are plenty of discredited theories out there that we could teach alongside their scientific counterparts and let the kids decide if they want to believe in hokum or accepted science. For example, until Einstein came along, everyone believed that Newton had it right about gravity. Shouldn't we let the kids decide if gravity is a force or a product of space-time?

Creationism (and its twin, intelligent design) are fine to believe in if you're religiously inclined. When the belief is personal, you're not imposing your religious views on the rest of us. The overwhelming scientific evidence for evolution, however, can only be suppressed if we ignore what the scientific community - and the vast majority of citizens in other western countries - take for granted.








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