Keeping God out of the Classroom - Creation Science and Constitution
Part 6 of a 7-part series with Dr. Eugenie C. Scott: Creation Science Brings Religion to the Classroom. Dr. Scott discusses attempts by the creationist movement to introduce religion into high school science curricula. She makes the point that because w
Eugenie Scott: It is not illegal to teach bad science in this country; a school can teach that the earth is flat and that the sun goes around it if it wants to, thatâ€™s not unconstitutional. What is unconstitutional is to advocate religion in the public schools; the schools have to be religiously neutral, so the argument that the defense, the creationist side, had to make was that there was a legitimate secular reason for teaching creation science, that yeah maybe there are some religious implications but thatâ€™s not so important, there is a good secular reason for teaching creation science and that is because itâ€™s valid science and the students would benefit from this instruction. So the plaintiffs, the anti-creationists, had to discuss what is science and why creation science didnâ€™t fit it, and thatâ€™s how you started out this question. You know interestingly enough since the 1980â€™s, the philosophers of science have debated strongly what they call the demarcation problem; setting science as a way of knowing aside from other ways of knowing, and in philosophy of science this isnâ€™t considered such a big deal anymore, and part of this discussion was generated from the McLean vs. Arkansas case interestingly enough. But most of the ideas that you find in McLean are still considered valid by practicing scientists; thatâ€™s kind of the way we do it. Even if philosophers of science may split hairs about the validity of falsification for example as a criterion of demarcation, if thereâ€™s no way to prove it wrong most scientists would say â€œthatâ€™s not really a scientific question; I canâ€™t test that statementâ€ and that of course was one of the issues brought up in McLean, because creation science is fundamentally and ultimately and at hear is a religious explanation. Just like the intelligent design people said later, the creation science people were really saying â€œEvolution canâ€™t do the job, evolution canâ€™t explain this stuff (complexity or whatever) therefore God had to of specially created.â€ Well thatâ€™s not an idea that you can test scientifically; God is omnipotent, God is therefore unconstrained. If you canâ€™t put God in a test tube so to speak, if you canâ€™t hold constant some of Godâ€™s actions in order to test whether something occurs in your normal experimental kind of setup, then youâ€™re not really asking a question that can be dealt with through science. Thatâ€™s probably worth talking about a little bit you know, because the nature of science is to test explanations of the natural world, and the way we test explanations about the natural world is we hold constant certain variables. So Iâ€™ve got these two plots of corn and I want to know whether the fertilizer really does result in a bigger crop; in order to convince you that that fertilizer really was responsible for growing more corn on this plot, I have to convince you that I watered these two plots exactly the same, I gave them the same amount of sunlight, I cultivated both of them the same amount (kept the weeds out and kept the pests down and everything) and that the only difference between these two plots is that this one got fertilized. Otherwise youâ€™d come back to me and say â€œCome on Genie, you canâ€™t tell me that this fertilizer is the reason for it, because you didnâ€™t water this other plot, you didnâ€™t control for water, you didnâ€™t hold constant the amount of waterâ€; thatâ€™s what we mean by holding constant. We all kind of know this, we learned this in seventh grade about the experimental method. Well put God into this equation; â€œGod, donâ€™t make the corn grow greater if I fertilize it.â€ How do you constrain God, how do you hold constant Godâ€™s efforts? You canâ€™t. So science doesnâ€™t say thereâ€™s no God, science doesnâ€™t say God doesnâ€™t act, science just says we canâ€™t test God so we just leave him out. A good friend of mine, a philosopher of science Rob Pennock, came up with a great phrase. He said, â€œTo say nothing of God is not to say that God is nothing; we just leave God out of scientific explanations.â€ So getting back to good old McLean vs. Arkansas, when the definition of science was being debated the notion of being able to bring God into scientific explanation was something that the mainstream scientists strictly refused to accept as part of the definition; they restricted scientific explanations to natural explanations only, and that is still the key element for how science is done, at least as recognized by practicing scientists.
creationism, intelligent design, creation science, henry morris, darwinism, evolution, darwin, Genesis, eugenie, scott, dnalc, cshl
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Part 4 of a 7-part series with Dr. Eugenie C. Scott: Science, Religion, and Evolutionary Theory. Dr. Scott discusses the history of creationism/intelligent design, which was revived in the United States in the 1960s. Some conservative Christians believe
Part 1 of a 7-part interview with Eugenie C. Scott: Religion, Science, and Theory. Dr. Scott describes intelligent design as a fundamentally religious explanation that has no scientific basis. She discusses the difference between hypothesis and theory,
Part 5 of a 7-part interview with Dr. Eugenie C. Scott: Creation Science on Trial. Dr. Scott discusses the legal challenge to the Balanced Treatment for Creation-Science and Evolution-Science Act introduced in Arkansas in 1981. Evidence by creation scie
Part 2 of a 7-part series with Dr. Eugenie C. Scott.: Debunking Intelligent Design. Dr. Scott criticizes claims by creationists that flagellated bacteria (flagellum) are an example of irreducible complexity. She concludes that examples of irreducible co
Part 7 of a 7-part series with Dr. Eugenie C. Scott: The Bible, the Flood, and the Grand Canyon. Dr. Scott believes that affirming science and believing in God are compatible. However, claims by creationists that the Grand Canyon was created by a flood
Part 3 of a 7-part series with Dr. Eugenie C. Scott: Intelligent Design, Irreducible Complexity, and the Eye. Dr. Scott criticizes claims by proponents of creation science that the vertebrate eye is too complex a mechanism to have evolved by natural sel
Charles Darwin changed the world with his theory of evolution.
Charles Darwin, around 1859.
Interior of Darwin's study, showing mantelpiece, corner and Darwin's chair on wheels.
11811. Francis Galton and Presidents of International Eugenics Congresses: Major L. Darwin, H. F. Osborn, C.B. Davenport, Eugenical News (vol. 17)
Francis Galton and Presidents of International Eugenics Congresses: Major L. Darwin, H. F. Osborn, C.B. Davenport, Eugenical News (vol. 17)