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

From: George Cooper <georgecooper@sbcglobal.net>
Date: Wed Mar 25 2009 - 12:35:13 EDT

The basic assumptions one makes to do science are not "scientifically
established" since they deal not with science but about science.
Yes, those first assumptions are essential in doing science. Yet how many
religiously-based assumptions have led to a mainstream scientific theory, at
least in recent decades? Other than the one for ocean currents, I can not
think of one off-hand. So, are these assumptions really "about science"?
I'm not saying they should be completely disallowed -- actually I have a few
of my own, surprisingly -- but they should be treated as subjective views
until they can demonstrate objective testability, which is science.

I think there would be a much better understanding of what science is and
what it is not if we addressed some of these underlying questions.
Yes, I assume we all agree that what science truly is is very important and
should be taught in the classroom. [It appears I will be teaching this this
year (why do feel like I'm stuttering? :-) ) in our Sunday School class.]
Many subjective and religious views can easily serve as what science is not,
yet they can also serve to demonstrate their contribution to the
philosophical undergirding of science itself. Certainly, teleological
mindesets of the 17th century were very instrumental in scientific ideas,
some helpful and some not. For instance, had Galileo adopted Kepler's
ellipses, he would have added much plausibility to his, now modified,
Copernican model, but orbits were suppose to be perfectly ordained circles,
as per Aristotle, Ptolemy, and Copernicus.

"Coope"

Moorad

-----Original Message-----
From: asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu [mailto:asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu] On
Behalf Of George Cooper
Sent: Wednesday, March 25, 2009 10:47 AM
To: asa@calvin.edu
Subject: RE: [asa] The fight in Texas over evolution training in schools

Hi Moorad,

Fair point. I don't object to science teachers having some latitude to
introduce subjective views, philosophical or religious -- this seems to be
the direction taken in Louisiana -- but any mandate upon science teachers to
teach views that are not scientifically established is not appropriate,
which was the case in Dover, apparently.

"Coope"

-----Original Message-----
From: asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu [mailto:asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu] On
Behalf Of Alexanian, Moorad
Sent: Wednesday, March 25, 2009 9:08 AM
To: George Cooper; asa@calvin.edu
Subject: RE: [asa] The fight in Texas over evolution training in schools

There is an implicit assumption one always make that unadulterated science
is what is being taught in science classes. As many of us know, that is not
necessarily the case. Newton was very clear that he constructed a model of
the solar system that is not the solar system. There are philosophical
assumptions one can make while teaching science that goes beyond science and
ventures into all sorts of philosophical/theological arenas. This is what
must be made clear, viz. the underlying assumptions being made in the
scientific description of aspects of Nature. Surely, someone who says that
evolution explains everything is going beyond science.

Moorad

-----Original Message-----
From: asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu [mailto:asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu] On
Behalf Of George Cooper
Sent: Wednesday, March 25, 2009 9:13 AM
To: asa@calvin.edu
Subject: RE: [asa] The fight in Texas over evolution training in schools

Hi Randy,

My 2 cents...

The weaknesses within any scientific theory is tied to objective evidence.
It is clear where Newton falls short in his models relative to Einstein's,
and these differences are found in an objective manner. Religion has
limited or no ability to get in the ring with science as it offers little or
no objective evidence. Indeed, it offers no counter scientific theory to
evolution, only an untestable and subjective one. This does not invalidate
the religious one, of course, but it should move it into a non-science
classroom.

"Coope"

-----Original Message-----
From: asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu [mailto:asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu] On
Behalf Of Randy Isaac
Sent: Wednesday, March 25, 2009 5:36 AM
To: asa@calvin.edu
Subject: Re: [asa] The fight in Texas over evolution training in schools

Bill, indeed limitations of scientific theories can and should be taught in
science classes. On the surface, the issue of teaching strengths and
weaknesses of anything is pretty obvious. Of course it should be. But what
is seldom mentioned or discussed is "who is the arbiter of what strengths
and what weaknesses are taught?" Whose views of weaknesses should be taught?

Anyone's? Everyone's? The teacher's? It seems to me that in a science class,

all strengths and weaknesses being debated in the technical peer-reviewed
literature should be taught. Strengths and weaknesses outside that body of
literature may be interesting and worthy of discussion in some settings but
not to be taught as science until it gets addressed in the literature.

Randy

Bill 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.
>

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Received on Wed Mar 25 12:35:49 2009

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