Re: Santorum Amendment

From: george murphy (
Date: Tue Jun 19 2001 - 17:42:28 EDT

  • Next message: "Re: Santorum Amendment"

    Dick Fischer wrote:

    > Here is Amendment 799 on Bill S1, on June 13th.
    > links to the debate and the vote (YEAs 91; NAYs 8; Not Voting 1).
    > Sen. Santorum's introduction of the amendment was as follows:
    > Mr. SANTORUM. Mr. President, I rise to talk about my amendment which
    > will be voted on in roughly 40 minutes. This is an amendment that is a
    > sense of the Senate. It is a sense of the Senate that deals with the
    > subject of intellectual freedom with respect to the teaching of
    > science in the classroom, in primary and secondary education. It is a
    > sense of the Senate that does not try to dictate curriculum to
    > anybody; quite the contrary, it says there should be freedom to
    > discuss and air good scientific debate within the classroom. In fact,
    > students will do better and will learn more if there is this
    > intellectual freedom to discuss.
    > I will read this sense of the Senate. It is simply two
    > sentences--frankly, two rather innocuous sentences--that hopefully
    > this Senate will embrace:
    > ``It is the sense of the Senate that--
    > ``(1) good science education should prepare students to distinguish
    > the data or testable theories of science from philosophical or
    > religious claims that are made in the name of science; and
    > ``(2) where biological evolution is taught, the curriculum should help
    > students to understand why this subject generates so much continuing
    > controversy, and should prepare the students to be informed
    > participants in public discussions regarding the subject.
    > It simply says there are disagreements in scientific theories out
    > there that are continually tested. Our knowledge of science is not
    > absolute, obviously. We continue to test theories. Over the centuries,
    > there were theories that were once assumed to be true and have been
    > proven, through further revelation of scientific investigation and
    > testing, to be not true.
    > One of the things I thought was important in putting this forward was
    > to make sure the Senate of this country, obviously one of the
    > greatest, if not the greatest, deliberative bodies on the face of the
    > Earth, was on record saying we are for this kind of intellectual
    > freedom; we are for this kind of discussion going on; it will enhance
    > the quality of science education for our students.
    > I will read three points made by one of the advocates of this thought,
    > a man named David DeWolf as to the advantages of teaching this
    > controversy that exists. He says:
    > Several benefits will accrue from a more open discussion of biological
    > origins in the science classroom. First, this approach will do a
    > better job of teaching the issue itself, both because it presents more
    > accurate information about the state of scientific thinking and
    > evidence, and because it presents the subject in a more lively and
    > less dogmatic way. Second, this approach gives students greater
    > appreciation for how science is actually practiced. Science
    > necessarily involves the interpretation of data; yet scientists often
    > disagree about how to interpret their data. By presenting this
    > scientific controversy realistically, students will learn how to
    > evaluate competing interpretations in light of evidence--a skill they
    > will need as citizens, whether they choose careers in science or other
    > fields. Third, this approach will model for students how to address
    > differences of opinion through reasoned discussion within the context
    > of a pluralistic society.
    > I think there are many benefits to this discussion that we hope to
    > encourage in science classrooms across this country. I frankly don't
    > see any down side to this discussion--that we are standing here as the
    > Senate in favor of intellectual freedom and open and fair discussion
    > of using science--not philosophy and religion within the context,
    > within the context of science but science--as the basis for this
    > determination.
    > I will reserve the remainder of my time. I have a couple of other
    > speakers I anticipate will come down and talk about this amendment,
    > and I want to leave adequate time. I yield the floor.
    > Sen. Kennedy responded:
    > Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, first of all, on the Santorum amendment, I
    > hope all of our colleagues will vote in support of it. It talks about
    > using good science to consider the teaching of biological evolution. I
    > think the way the Senator described it, as well as the language
    > itself, is completely consistent with what represents the central
    > values of this body. We want children to be able to speak and examine
    > various scientific theories on the basis of all of the information
    > that is available to them so they can talk about different concepts
    > and do it intelligently with the best information that is before them.
    > I think the Senator has expressed his views in support of the
    > amendment and the reasons for it. I think they make eminently good
    > sense. I intend to support that proposal.
    > ---- END -------
    > Dick Fischer - The Origins Solution -
    > "The answer we should have known about 150 years ago."

            This is unfortunate & it's too bad that Ted Kennedy was either
    taken in or just being politic. Point (1) of the resolution is fine.
    It's also quite appropriate to to discuss genuine scientific
    controversies about scientific topics. But -
            a. The basic idea of biological evolution - i.e., descent with
    modification - is not "controversial" in the biological community as a
    whole. It arouses religious, political, & social controversy but that's
    not the same thing.
            b. Even if one grants that it is scientifically controversial,
    why single it out? There are other controversial theories.
            I suspect that this is simply a stalking horse for introduction
    of supposedly scientific alternatives to evolution - "creation science"
    under one name or another.



    George L. Murphy
    "The Science-Theology Dialogue"

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