Re: textbooks

Allan Harvey (
Fri, 05 Dec 1997 08:52:58 -0700

Robert L. Miller wrote:

> Perhaps accountants, barbers and plumbers do
>> not know enough to make informed decisions about textbooks, but they
>> do know that they send their children off to school, and after being
>> processed by the university they get them back as agnostics or
>> atheists, and they don't like it, and science gets a large share of
>> the blame. How do you suggest we fix that?

We could start by teaching them (both the children and the plumbers) that
science does not diminish God. Unfortunately, too many in the church
today buy into the Sagan/Johnson scoring system where a scientific
explanation of something is interpreted to mean the absence of God. The
weakening of faith that can then happen is not the fault of the science,
but rather of the false dichotomy that says "God did it" and "Science can
explain it" are mutually exclusive options.

We *should* oppose those occasions when science texts promulgate this
false dichotomy (a few examples have been posted recently). But to toss
out the science [or to add inserts to textbooks suggesting the science is
a conspiratorial lie] because of these abuses is to throw out the baby
with the bathwater. If we (parents, churches) give our children a sound
grounding to begin with rather than these silly false dichotomies
("creation vs. evolution" being the most widespread), then they should be
able to recognize the Sagan/Johnson fallacy if they encounter it in their
science courses and emerge unshaken in their faith that "God did it",
even after learning a little more about how.

| Dr. Allan H. Harvey | |
| Physical and Chemical Properties Division | Phone: (303)497-3555 |
| National Institute of Standards & Technology | Fax: (303)497-5224 |
| 325 Broadway, Boulder, CO 80303 | |
| "Don't blame the government for what I say, or vice versa." |