Evolution and Science Education

Talk of the Nation – Science Friday had a discussion about current events of school board actions concerning evolution as a topic in science education (link). Recently, the Dover Area School Board decided to include “intelligent design” in the science curriculum of the school system, stating “Students will be made aware of gaps/problems in Darwin’s Theory and of other theories of evolution including, but not limited to, intelligent design. Note: Origins of life will not be taught.” (link) Also, arguments just finished in a trial about the use of stickers on biology textbooks in Cobb County, GA, that say “This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered.” (link) The discussion centered on the politics and social issues that have gone into these actions.

The issue is one I follow closely for several reasons. First, I am a high school biology teacher, and I feel it is an issue about which I need to be informed (thankfully, I work for an independent school that recognizes how evolution is a foundation of modern biology). Second, and more personally, my mother and step-father are very conservative, evangelical Southern Baptists who have tried to help me understand how evolution is wrong and not in keeping with what the Bible says.

After listening to arguments on both sides of the debate on TOTN I reflected on my family situation and revisted feelings that my mother feels I am mistaken, no dead wrong, and that as a scientist I am fundamentally against her core beliefs. Somewhere I know my mother doesn’t ally me with evil forces in the world, but her and her husband’s attitude about this (originally manifest in their gift of the book “The Collapse of Evolution”) make me feel that she will put her faith before her family.

I hope not.

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