Re: [asa] The fight in Texas over evolution training in schools

From: George Murphy <>
Date: Wed Mar 25 2009 - 10:32:49 EDT

Philosophy of science can be quite helpful but it's best introduced after
people know some science. & actually engaging in some real scientific work
should be a prerequisite for being a philosopher of science. I feel the
same way about philosophers of science who haven't done that as I do about
literary critics who've never written anything.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Bill Powers" <>
To: "William Hamilton" <>
Cc: "Alexanian, Moorad" <>; "John Burgeson (ASA member)"
<>; "asa" <>
Sent: Wednesday, March 25, 2009 10:06 AM
Subject: Re: [asa] The fight in Texas over evolution training in schools

I would agree with you. But you ought to keep in mind that science is
simply not taught that way at any level. The only place you get an
inkling of how science works is when you do graduate level work.
In other words, you will not find it in any level of class work, unless
you happened to take a philosophy of science class.

I have often wondered how the teachers of science (at any level) would
react if the philosophy of science was introduced into the coursework. I
suspect they would react in ways not too dissimilar to attempts to
introducing such a critical view of evolution.

The Whig version of science is that the derivatives of science are true
from top to bottom. It adopts a realist view of science, a view held by
no philosophers of science I can think of. In fact, it is difficult to
find almost any period when philosophers of science held such a view,
although it is not uncommon amongst scientist's practitioners. Most of
such people are too busy doing what Kuhn calls "normal" science to think
much about it.

bill powers
White, SD

  On Tue, 24 Mar 2009,
William Hamilton wrote:

> Although I accept some form of evolution -- with the caveat that
> everything that happens happens according to God's sovereignty -- I
> think it's a pity that the limitations of scientific theories cannot
> be discussed in science classes. Students need to learn to critically
> evaluate experiments and historical analysis to determine whether the
> theory drawn from them holds water.
> On Mon, Mar 23, 2009 at 4:13 PM, Alexanian, Moorad <>
> wrote:
>> What should be required of any science curriculum especially when dealing
>> with evolutionary theory is for teachers to specify very clearly, what
>> basic assumptions are being made. This issue does not usually arise in
>> the experimental sciences since it is clear from the outset what
>> experiments one is dealing with and what mathematical models one is using
>> to summarize the data, which may suggest some possible theoretical
>> models. Every experimental science has a very delimited and well-defined
>> area of applicability whereas evolutionary theory is boundless in its
>> attempts to explain almost everything. That is to say, physicists,
>> chemists, experimental biologists, etc. play in very limited sandboxes
>> whereas evolutionary biologistsí sandbox is of unlimited extent.
>> Moorad
>> ________________________________________
>> From: [] On Behalf
>> Of John Burgeson (ASA member) []
>> Sent: Monday, March 23, 2009 4:44 PM
>> To: asa
>> Subject: [asa] The fight in Texas over evolution training in schools
>> I rec'd the following email today - it speaks for itself. Move over
>> Kansas -- Texas wants the booby prize!
>> Burgy
>> -------
>> From: Houston Area Pastor Council
>> Date: March 20, 2009
>> Open Letter to Texas State Board of Education and members of the Texas
>> Legislature:
>> We are writing you on behalf of clergy from every corner of Texas
>> regarding the proposed changes to TEKS that would directly, or by
>> effect, eliminate the requirement of teaching both the scientific
>> strengths and weaknesses of Darwin's theory of evolution in public
>> schools. Some Clergy and organizations have testified, making public
>> declarations supporting the changes and declaring their support for
>> Darwin's theory as sound science - insinuating that they speak for the
>> religious community.
>> Let us assure you emphatically, they do not. Their rejection of open
>> scientific debate, years of tested policy and the basics tenets of
>> their own faith define them as enemies of academic, scientific and,
>> yes, even religious truth. We state our case as follows:
>> 1. There are myriad documented, irrefutable and undeniable scientific
>> weaknesses to Darwinian evolution as a theory. You have heard factual
>> testimony and are aware of those weaknesses.[1]
>> 2. This policy change is being driven by radical, pro-Darwinian
>> apologists[2] who are religiously committed to the teaching of that
>> theory as indisputable fact in spite of the extensive and rapidly
>> growing body of evidence which disproves it and scientists who reject
>> it.
>> 3. A vote to remove the requirement to teach both sides of Darwin's
>> theory, which would be a vote against Darwin's own personal commitment
>> to discussing both the pros and cons of his theory, is a vote for
>> censorship and against students' access to legitimate science.
>> 4. The SBOE should be committed to protecting educational excellence
>> in Texas school curriculum and not bowing to the political pressure of
>> liberal special interest groups driven by dogma instead of science or
>> academics.
>> On behalf of more than eighty percent of Texas clergy, parents and
>> other citizens who clearly wish for strengths and weaknesses of
>> Darwin's theory of evolution to be taught, we ask the SBOE to vote
>> only for language that explicitly requires full disclosure on both
>> sides of that theory be taught to Texas students. We also ask the
>> Texas Legislature to retain the existing independence of the SBOE and
>> let the members duly elected by the people make decisions as well as
>> be accountable for them.
>> Sincerely,
>> Dave Welch, Executive Director
>> [1] See
>> [2] Texas Freedom Network petition demanding that standards "do not
>> undermine instruction on evolution"
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> --
> William E (Bill) Hamilton Jr., Ph.D.
> Member American Scientific Affiliation
> Austin, TX
> 248 821 8156
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Received on Wed Mar 25 10:33:15 2009

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