Re: A teacher's view of Dover decision

From: Michael Roberts <>
Date: Fri Dec 23 2005 - 16:51:02 EST

Those of us who are orthodox Christians and orthodox scientists (If you know
what I mean) are simply piggies in the middle. YECs and often IDers regard
us as "compromisers" even if they avoid using AIG's favourite word, but some
atheist scientists regard us as irrational as YEC.

One only has to consider the damage dome by the continued popularity of the
conflict thesis of science and religion which is etched into the public
consciousness . One could say that YECs and some IDs (egg Cornelius) use the
conflict thesis to justify their position. As does Dawkins.

You will also find that many mainstream and liberal Christians also keep the
conflict thesis . A British example is Paul Badham who wants to present
Modernism as actually facing up to science and seems oblivious that many
early geologists were evangelical or orthodox (or even Both!)

I often feel there is a battle on two fronts.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Austerberry, Charles" <>
To: <>
Sent: Friday, December 23, 2005 2:33 PM
Subject: RE: A teacher's view of Dover decision

> Anne Swaim's points are so important. She expresses very well the
> challenge we face regarding the teaching of evolution. Maintaining our
> integrity, both as science educators and as Christians, requires a
> delicate balance between saying too much versus saying too little,
> between absolutely separating science from religion versus promoting
> only one of the many alternative religious interpretations of scientific
> theories such as evolution.
> Clearly the Dover school board's approach was wrong, in many ways. But
> as Anne notes, it's also wrong for evolution to be taught in a manner
> that disparages religious faith.
> I think most teachers are striking a good balance and respecting their
> students' religious freedom. Probably most school boards are also
> handling the issue pretty well.
> The few exceptions are the ones winding up in court and making the
> headlines, of course.
> My two cents worth are at
> Bill Dembski's are there too at
> Better than both Bill's and my essays is an older essay by Owen
> Gingerich at that the Science and
> Theology News web editor wisely linked to the Dover verdict news pages.
> Thanks, Anne, for providing a teacher's view.
> Chuck Austerberry
> ------------------------------
> Date: Thu, 22 Dec 2005 22:27:27 -0500
> From: Anne Swaim <>
> Subject: A teacher's view of Dover decision
> I just finished reading the full text of the decision in the Dover case.
> I thought to offer observations here just from a teacher's perspective.
> By way of brief introduction, I teach environmental education
> in local school districts for an environmental nonprofit. I also work
> at a small evangelical church in children & youth ministry.
> One of the most distressing aspects of the Dover case, to me,
> was the difficult position of the science teachers.
> I found this brief quote (below) from the Dover teachers particularly
> poignant. This quote was from a memo that the teachers sent when they
> were ordered to read the Intelligent Design statement
> before teaching evolution:
> "...reading the statement violates our responsibilities as professional
> educators as set forth in the Code of Professional Practice
> and Conduct for Educators..."
> [pg 127 in Dover decision]
> This courageous stand by the teachers came after months
> of political pressure from the school board. This pressure included
> an appalling incident in which a hall mural about evolution was
> torn down and burned with the approval of one or more board members.
> But, with my "other hat" as a church youth worker, I also know that
> evolution is not always taught in a "religiously neutral" fashion
> in our local public schools.
> I know of at least one area school district where teaching about
> evolution is accompanied with negative statements
> from teachers about faith traditions.
> This is highly regrettable and quite unnecessary. It is also illegal.
> (Teachers are individuals with individual biases.)
> With our country's current conflicts between faith
> and governance and with America's rich tradition of
> religious pluralism, how should our public school teachers
> talk about subjects, like origins of life, that are interwoven with
> traditions of faith?
> Some say that even "religiously neutral"
> teaching can carry the subtext that faith that irrelevant.
> Judge Jones quoted from a 1985 decision involving
> the Grand Rapids School District [pg 36]:
> "Families entrust public schools with the education of
> their children, but condition their trust on the
> understanding that the classroom will not purposely be
> used to advance religious views that may conflict with
> the private beliefs of the student and his or her family.
> Students in such institutions are impressionable and their
> attendance is involuntary."
> Do our students and teachers need to check
> their spirituality at the public school door?
> I could see these questions brushed against in the Dover
> decision but mostly overlooked. This was not
> the "presenting complaint" but it was the underlying issue.
> The Dover school board members even found
> themselves lying under oath trying to say
> that their stance on ID was NOT a religious issue.
> Of course it was.
> Significantly, Judge Jones included the following
> statement in his decision: [pg 44]
> "... by directing students to their families to learn about
> the "Origins of Life," the [Dover statement on ID]....
> 'reminds school children that they can rightly maintain beliefs
> taught by their parents on the subject of the origin of life,'
> thereby stifling the critical thinking that the class's study of
> evolutionary theory might otherwise prompt, to protect
> a religious view from what the Board considers to be a threat."
> This fear of "secular indoctrination" was
> driving the bully tactics of the Dover school board.
> It doesn't justify them however. As a Christian,
> I'm embarassed by the actions of the Dover school
> board.
> Perhaps those of us who identify as members
> of the Body of Christ, the Church, might join
> in repentent prayer about how poorly this case
> has reflected on the name of Christ.
> ------------------------------
Received on Fri Dec 23 18:04:08 2005

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