Re: Christian teacher on NEWSHOUR

Steven Schimmrich (
Tue, 05 May 1998 15:33:58 -0400

At 08:48 AM 5/5/98 EST, Al McCarrick wrote:
> On 4/21 the PBS NEWSHOUR show featured a discussion of the Guide to
> Teaching Evolution.
> It can be found at
> The speakers were
> Donald Kennedy, head of the committee that wrote the guidelines, past
> president of Stanford
> Barbara Schultz, biology teacher (high school) in Seattle area
> Terry Spohn, professor of biology at Liberty University (Fawell)
> Mark Witwer, head of science, DELAWARE COUNTY CHRISTIAN SCHOOL

Thanks for posting the link.

I was personally dismayed at Spohn's opening statement:

> TERRY SPOHN, Liberty University: Well, I view this effort as another attempt by the
> evolutionary community to brainwash the American public at the American taxpayer's
> expense. The point of the matter is that there are two possible explanations for how
> everything got here. One is rooted in naturalistic philosophy, which is the evolution
> view, and the other is that some intelligent designer created what we see about us.
> When Dr. Kennedy suggests that there is evidence from the fossil record for this
> change, that's simply not the case. Dr. Steven Jay Gould, a Harvard evolutionist in
> 1972, said that the fossil record was notable in two characteristics: stasis, which
> argues against change, that is, creatures appear on the fossil record and stay pretty
> much the same as they do when they disappear from the earth, and two: sudden appearance,
> that these creatures appear fully formed without a prior history. This argues for
> special creation, not evolution, and is contrary to those facts concerning the fossil
> record--since we have taxpayers that range from atheists to Zen Buddhists and everything
> in the middle, including Christians and followers of Islam, the only correct thing to
> do, the American thing to do, the democratic thing to do is to offer both of these
> models and let the students decide which one best explains origins.

His statements demonstrate a desire to polarize the issue into God-fearing Creationists vs atheistic scientists (a mischaracterization of the true issues involved as we all know), an ignorance of the fact that in a pluralistic society there are far more than two views on origins (what about Native American creation stories?), and what appears to me
to be a deliberate misrepresentation of Eldridge and Gould's ideas about punctuated

It's people like this who make Christians appear foolish to the scientific community.
I always wonder why practicing scientists who are Christians and who aren't young-earth
creationists are never represented in these public debates. Is there something the ASA
can do to promote such people and viewpoints? These shows almost always present a very
polarized debate without eloquent, scientifically-educated Christians taking a moderate view (accepting the validity of science yet also being strong Christians).

- Steve.

   Steven H. Schimmrich
   Physical Sciences Department (office)
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