RE: The naturalist Philosophy

From: Dr. Blake Nelson (
Date: Fri Aug 30 2002 - 17:15:28 EDT

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    Shaun --

    Your points are well taken. I think the point about
    philosophy of science class being open to smuggling in
    hard core atheism is a little overdrawn. No matter
    what subject such an instructor taught, they would use
    it to smuggle in hard core atheism. While I don't
    have a lot of secondary teaching experience, my
    academic experience is that the hard core atheist will
    use any subject to make their case. Therefore, I
    think you are better with the subject than without it,
    if at least the text provides context for the
    disputes. Likewise, if taught by someone else other
    than the science teacher, this would allow some
    poptential for plurality of ideas between the science
    teacher and the person handling philosophy of science.

    As to whether high school students would be able to
    handle it, I don't think the vast majority of college
    students can handle it. Sadly, critical thinking is a
    learned and practiced skill and it is awfully hard to
    teach it. When I teach, even introductory classes in
    subjects -- including science related subjects (one
    can even teach math using a modified Socratic method),
    I always adopt a modified version of the socratic
    method at least part of the time in order to try to
    get students to exercise critical thought faculties.
    It takes a good teacher to do that, and it is a lot
    easier to lecture or show films, or some other passive
    teaching system. So, I think that the more students
    get something that at least pretends to ask them to
    think critically, the better off they are. Some
    students never respond, almost all are completely
    flummoxed to begin with, because they have never been
    asked to think critically, but it is really a great
    thing when the process starts to click with a student.

    Anyway, didn't mean to veer off too much into

    --- Shuan Rose <> wrote:
    > Seeking a middle ground here...
    > Sounds like both of you agree that philosophy, or
    > philosophy of science
    > should be taught in public schools, maybe with
    > evolution as a specific
    > topic. Should this be done? Could high school
    > students be able to understand
    > and appreciate this? I always hear atheists arguing
    > that a Critical Thinking
    > course be introduced at the high school level, with
    > the unstated premise
    > that the critical thinking be done about religion
    > and "supernaturalism". No
    > need for critical thinking about naturalism :-)
    > A philosophy of science class, in the hands of the
    > wrong teacher, could
    > easily become a way to smuggle hard core atheism ,
    > into public schools. In
    > the right teacher's hands, it could lead to an
    > informed discussion of all
    > the views regarding the origin of the universe, from
    > hard core atheism to
    > YECism.
    > My understanding is also that textbooks are back
    > pedaling on the "only
    > naturalistic evolution" approach. Steven Jay Gould
    > tells of a textbook that
    > says "Evolution is one theory that explains the
    > diversity of life. You way
    > wish to consider other theories". He considers that
    > as a disgraceful
    > pandering to the creationist lobby, but at least it
    > opens the door.

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