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Christopher Halliwell

Secondary Education Physics, Mississippi State University

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Should we "teach the controversy"?

By "teach the controversy", I mean the Christian attempt to bypass the scientific method in order to teach religion in science class.

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    May 19 2012: If we were to "teach the controversy" in science class, we would have to actually teach the controversy, meaning showing students why creationism is nonsense, I am sure that creationists would not like this. But if it ever comes to making this a "law," then I sure will make it clear what the controversy is about, and use the creationist propaganda to teach about fallacies, how science is distinguished from myths (such as creationism be it Christian or otherwise). If they insist they might get a few surprises.
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    May 21 2012: Why must there be a dominanace of one over the other? What advantage would there be in having a worldview dominated entirely by either science - or religion, without the capacity to be able to intuit both in the education system?

    Science and religion are both psychological imperatives. Neither is about to just vanish anytime soon - and they should not be at war with each other.

    It's like the conscious trying to suppress the unconscious, or the left brain hemisphere trying to dominate the right. It is an astonishing waste of energy.

    Creationism was a way of understanding the world through mythology, symbolism and metaphor, in the absence of cetainty and science. The need for us to 'understand' remains undiminished. We still possess that same part of our mind which enabled such symbolic understanding to take place. It is the first port of call in our journey of understanding - and science, we hope, is the destination.

    I think creationism should be taught, but strictly in the history class - not in any class that purports to support current knowledge. Otherwise it then becomes a perpetuation of an immovable belief system that can be used for political ends and social engineering.
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      May 21 2012: Allan, very well said. Besides we don't want this debate to go on too long. It will generate way too many Ted points for Christopher. LOL
  • May 18 2012: Christopher,
    Brian is right to ask you to clarify what it is you desire to know. Are you looking for support either way?

    As long as scientists are unable to answer all questions, there will be an open door for those who believe Origin is from spiritual resources. Even so, there will be people of faith who believe in a non-material origin, a divine Person, and an Original mind planning Cosmos activity. The intersection is where scientists attempt to explain origin and where religious people believe in spiritual details. The controversy, in my humble opinion, is born of desire to impose one's beliefs on others, whether science or religion.

    When science classes attempt to impose purely material explanations on others, then sparks fly! When religion attempts to impose beliefs on others, more sparks fly. It seems right to say for all, neither of the two poles is in possession of all truth, which should leave ample room for other possibilities!

    What of the possibility we benefit from revelation? Would we be foolish to slam the door on possible superior knowledge sources?

    Let's be gentle to one another and speak as equals regardless of our views. No human being can explain all things, can we?

    Should we teach the controversy-----well, yes and no. Don't force anything on anyone!

    Peace,
    MK
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    May 25 2012: KIds are clever and informed. I think we should mention the controversey and share a perspective of it.
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    May 24 2012: Hey Gabo, hope u r great! lets teach our children not to observe either e christian view or the darwinian view, but to investigate the evidence themselves!

    its fashionable these days to have an archaic view of christianity. is this objective thinking, or you're simply going into your anti-christian mode of arguing? "horoscope style..?"

    i appreciate your sincerity though.

    ok, let me defend a few ideas. the two major verses on creation Gen 1:1 & John 1:1 when calculated numerically produce the result of the 2 math constants pi & e respectively. pi is correct to four decimal places, & with this talk of the constants changing, we r in for a rude awakening! i recomend u read the works of the russian mathematician Dr Ivan Panin who was able to demonstrate scientifically that the bible could not have originated in the mind of man. "the inspiration of the scriptures scientifically demonstrated." you'll find it free online! read it if you're not scared of being proven wrong!

    Hebrews 11:3 "...the things which are seen were not made of the things which do appear." information is immaterial. & biblical propositions r objective!

    its also interesting to note that the bible records history before it happened! cf Daniel 7-12! approx 500yrs before the fact! in fact, the scripture was translated into greek septuagint 300yrs before the actual events, thats an objective reference point for u.

    i could site many. but please read dr panin then we can talk sense.

    A good and just God will punish the transgression of his law! lets not forget the fact that we did not create ourselves. if a creator is responsible, and we do him wrong (by doing what he dis-approves), he has every right to call even the death penalty (we call it justice!). i wont debate homosexuality... the fact that in this age we have not been judged owes its explanation to the fact that he is merciful. good doesnt mean that you're let off when u do wrong... i think you need re re-read your bible after you have suspended your prejudices.

    lets talk!
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      May 25 2012: Hi Raphael,

      I hope you are all right too.

      You started with your left foot, and now you insist on limping on it. You start with the myth that this is about darwinian versus christian views. Well, no, I don't believe in any gods, and yours is but one of them. Then, the very fact that I properly understand evolution, and have no option but to accept that evolution happens and continue to happen is not the reason why I recognize your beliefs as myths. If there was no understanding of evolution, I would still know that the bible and your god are myths. I would still notice that the bible contains different versions of ancient cosmologies. Different moralities. Contradictions. Nonsense.

      For numbers, well, I found that they are far from correct by many orders of magnitude, except that your astrologists concentrate on the number before the 10-exponential. Have you wondered why pi and e are hidden in those passages rather than ones where they would make sense? I also find it quite unconvincing that there is error in the calculations. Isn't this supposed to be an all-knowing god? Once a friend showed me that he could make a program and find such kinds of stuff (pi, e), provided some numerical rules and a big text. So, if you know some programmer, ask her for better ones. I know she will find something. It's all about probabilities (avoid checking texts other than the bible, otherwise you will find that there's plenty of "sacred texts").

      The things not seen, did you check the context? It is about faith, and the "things not seen," obviously, are about the words of this myth (the god) making things. But your astrologers interpreted it to be about atoms. Again, no different to reading the newspaper horoscopes.

      I told you. I have seen and read a lot of this kind of quackery. So, I am far from impressed. What about before continuing with bible citations you check contexts? All you need is to suspend your prejudices to notice that you have bought snake-oil.

      Be well.
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      May 25 2012: Ho, seems like I was right on the mark about Ivan Panin's numeracy:

      http://cs.anu.edu.au/~bdm/dilugim/panin_mark.html

      As you see, obvious manipulation of data to fit this numerical snake-oil about the bible.

      So, you see? If we had to "teach the controversy," I would have plenty to teach, and it would be fun. Students would learn a lot about avoiding pitfalls and recognizing snake-oil sales pitches.

      Be well again.
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    May 24 2012: Christianity makes statements about reality doesnt it? if those statements are considtent with reality objectively, then its claims are credible. information science is found in the bible, quantum physics, even the fact that our universe is finite! the idea that the earth is hinged upon nothing, or the idea that the essence of "being is a nothingness." a jewish rabbi was able to extrapolate a 10 dimensional universe from a reading of Genesis. a four dimensional (directly observable) reality is found in Ephesians... the list could go on... Even the bible itself call the dilligent student to objectively verify its truths!

    The reason, at least as far as i am concerned is that most people comment on christianity without a grounded understanding of it. as an individual, do your homework first, a superficial understanding is not good enough. ummm, not good enough for everyone... i jus think its bad science plain simple! :)
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      May 24 2012: All of that is horoscope-style reading. It is putting meanings into the bible that are not there. Eisegesis. Reading the newspaper horoscopes is as much science as reading the bible for interpreting 10 dimensions and four dimensions. Curious that every claim for science in the bible takes passages out of context, and that if you read the context you would have a very hard time convincing anybody of the science in the cherry-picked one. More interesting that you say that the bible says that the earth hangs on nothing, but you forget that it also says that the earth is firm and on top of foundations. If the bible is such a deep book filled with knowledge, what's the proper interpretation of all those laws commanding to stone people for such things as being homosexual, or not a virgin? Why would some all-powerful and good god hide deep meaning under something that would surely be "misinterpreted" and get so many people stoned to death as it has? Is this god just incompetent?
  • May 21 2012: The Big Bank is a fact?
    The universe (our name for it), is a fact, that we know, but 'how it happened' is not!
    We still don't know and neither does religion.

    What bothers me is that both sides (to me religion vs science) only seem to want to win the entire argument rather than find some way to build a bridge all can use. And for the rest of humanity, I think most would say we need a bridge of some kind and want that bridge, rather than constant fighting.
    At some point each side must be willing to ask themselves, "could we be wrong" and at some point,, both sides must be willing to ask,"could we both be wrong?"

    Most agreed, the earth was flat. It wasn't, isn't.
    Most agreed the sun travels around "us". It didn't. It doesn't.
    Some agree there was a Big Bang. It isn't a fact.
    Some agree there was Creation. It isn't a fact.
    We are. The universe is. We don't know. Those are facts.

    Teach the truth and that can only be what we really know and can prove.
    The big 'G' exists. Test it, even if you don't believe it. Jump off a building and see if the Big G is there for you.
    It will be. You will suffer the Wrath of the Law, not the Wrath of the Lord.

    Nothing/nothingness is not a container. Blackness is.....is the absorption of all light. Everything fades to black.

    For us humans, most of the 'facts of the matter' are not facts at all. They are agreed upon ideas, justifications and involve ulterior motives as well. We don't have any real facts for either side. We have wants, desires, ideas and such that we really want to be facts, but they are not and it seems that is just too scary for the primal terrified human being to digest.

    For so long, we have thought it best to lie rather than rely on the truth to keep it at bay.
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    Josh S

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    May 20 2012: Thank you for clarifying the 'attempt'
    I think i see where you are coming from, as i live and attend school in the northeast I'm unaffected by this, by i can see how it may affect areas in the south especially.
    For the sake of argument and me just not knowing, ill assume that this is happening.
    I don't think we should teach the controversy in public schools for the reasons you mentioned, there really is no scientific method and for the most part, it is all belief. However, private schools i think should be allowed to do as they please on this matter.
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      May 20 2012: I completely agree that private schools should be allowed to teach what they please. However the constitution should prevent these people from bringing religion (any religion) into our public schools under any classification other than elective courses titled "biblical history" or "mythology". NOT in science class.
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        Josh S

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        May 20 2012: On that i do agree, it could be offered as an elective, and yes, it should not be taught as science because that is not what science tells us.
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    May 20 2012: Christopher, I'm catholic and think all Christians should bite the bullet and mesh spirit and biology together. I'll be starting my 61st. year this summer and have decided to spend my 60s putting everything I have learned under one consciousness. Basically put together what I've experience as the truth and apply it to my everyday life. As you get older you'll wonder what all the hullabaloo was about. My mother would always say "Peter, it's been going on for 2,000 years"
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      May 20 2012: I understand the world continues spinning. My main complaint is the unlawful introduction of creation myths (of any religion) being taught as fact in our public schools. I don't mind it in theology class. However, this problem not only spreads misinformation, it also undermines the efforts of teachers to help students distinguish between factual information and non-verifiable claims.
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        May 20 2012: Hi Christopher.

        The Big Bang is an unjustifiable claim. Ditto Dinosaur extinction, Abiogenesis, ditto common ancestor , etc etc. That is what creationists disagree with; the propagation of unjustifiable claims. That is what the court cases are about, as far as I can see from Scotland.

        :-)
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          May 20 2012: Are you saying that scientists proposed the big bang with no justification? Then what do you make of your previous claim that scientists finally "catches up" with the Bible about the universe having a beginning? You can't have it both ways without contradicting yourself.

          Are you also saying that dinosaurs are still alive? That abiogenesis is also proposed with no evidence? That common ancestry is proposed also with no evidence? Really?
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          May 20 2012: You are demonstrably wrong. The Big Bang is a fact. The theory that explains how the big bang happened is up for debate, but all scientists agree that the big bang did happen. The same goes for the dinosaurs and evolution.

          You come across as someone wholly ignorant of science altogether.
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        May 20 2012: Hi Guys

        This is why we should teach the science straightforward & unadulterated by worldviews. Everyone wants to know what is real & what is false. Where is the mileage in believing a lie? I certainly dont plan wasting my time with it.The main problem would be finding teachers willing to shelve sincerely held 'beliefs'. Adults are largely a product of what they were taught in school/uni, it isn't fair to teach stuff as fact when the jury is still out.

        :-)
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          May 20 2012: Science is a process. When new information comes in, we should change our minds. That doesn't mean there are no absolutes. For example, evolution happened (fact) regardless of whether the explanation for how evolution happened (theory) is true.
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          May 21 2012: Pete,

          There is no jury "still out." Scientifically the problem is solved. The evidence is clear cut and unambiguous. Religiously, well, that's entirely your problem. As such, it has no place in a science classroom. Myths don't trump evidence. No matter how much believed, no matter how much creationist quackery backing them up.
        • May 22 2012: I need to quote my favourite atheist Tim Minchin, "Just because ideas are tenacious does not mean they are worthy."
          Check him out on youtube. Great musician and observer of the human predicament...
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      May 20 2012: Hi Peter.
      I'm in my 62nd year. The reason for all the hullabaloo is that it matters to some of us what happens after death.

      :-)
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        May 20 2012: We all meet again and rehash our lives and decide how we are going to attempt to improve on the next jump.
        • May 21 2012: Hi Peter, I was aiming at the other Peter but thanks for your reply! It is tough to say if, objectively, life has served me well, but subjectively I count myself as extremely lucky and privileged (perhaps not on some economic indices...) I contest that i have had many more moments of wonder than the average mortal, simply because I find most of those moments in the natural world rather than the supernatural. Every day out my window I watch Sea Lions and Elephant Seals, Orca passing by, migrating birds, inter-tidal life and it is in these observations that the REAL wonders of the world, and it's 3.8 billion years of biological evolution, are revealed. The interconnectedness, the daily "struggle" for existence, procreation, the perfection (because the whole is perfect just the way it is) and finally death. Almost every day I can watch a fish or bird die to become food for another. Dead gull; happy eagle. No one wonders about the gull's soul. Why does yours or mine matter, in the grand scheme of things? Only in a anthropocentric paradigm do we matter much, and history shows that courtesy in usually reserved for our kin or ethnocentric group.
          Sapphos words are cute but irrelevant. We don't know death is evil; almost certainly that is not the truth. There are no gods except in the minds of some human beings, or the fact that most of the gods ever conceived have faded from modern human acknowledgement suggests that ideas of gods can die.
          So we see the same things, but we interpret them differently. I prefer evidence and observation to spark my intuition. Others prefer more speculative and faith-based avenues. Ironically my father was a minister, but he was objective enough to question his faith and in the end he choose to abandon it, in spite of the hardship of defying all he had been taught and led to believe. He could not promulgate as truth what he came to see as myth.
          Best wishes,
          Mike
      • May 20 2012: Peter, you have revealed the insecurity that allows you to suspend your objectivity and believe in an old book written by male authors who wrote down oral accounts of events that happened before their lifetimes. Why does it matter what happens when you die? You will be dead! What is so scary about death that you need to suspend rationality and believe in a an ill-defined and clearly self-indulgent place like heaven? Muslims have a heaven but theirs at least acknowledges the ridiculousness of the claim by offering virgins and hashish!
        Science isn't always right and we are always changing, modifying or adapting our conclusions based on new evidence. Religion though takes 1st century concepts and laws and tries to foist them into a 21st century worldview. I suggest there is no other set of preposterous claims that you would accept besides Christianity, and I suggest that your upbringing has a lot to do with your beliefs, religious and otherwise.
        Yes you are going to die, and there is no evidence to suggest you will continue on in any other way than some of the stored energy in your cells may be consumed by another animal (if you are lucky). You need to accept that fact! It isn't a bad thing! It is what has allowed life to flourish on this planet! It is only your ego that demands you believe an unsustainable assertion. Existential responsibility is tough and can be a bit isolating but that doesn't mean we have to surrender to a religion; the bureaucratization of spirituality.
        So no, school owes us truth and honesty involving facts, not speculation and manipulative fear-mongering.
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          May 21 2012: SAPPHO (600 BC, Greek Poet)
          We know this much
          Death is an evil;
          We have the gods word for it;
          They too would die if death were a good thing

          Mike, is this your morning mantra?
          Life experience has not served you well. In my life there have been plenty of moments of wonder that have allowed me to see more than what the eye lends us to see. About a year ago, I read Michael Newton's, Journey of Souls. It tied allot of loose ends and now I relax about the little things. It's not out of gods, mystery or mumbo-jumbo. It out of my own life experience. Yes, we are spirit on this planet for the human experience. In scientific terms, our souls probably are part of the String Theory.
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    Josh S

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    May 20 2012: I'm in high school at the moment, and i don't understand the basis of this question. No teacher has ever attempted to 'teach the controversy' in my entire schooling career. They lay out the facts of the matter, and simply follow the curriculum, which is approved by the Board of Education.

    Where has religion been taught in science class? If you do have examples, they are the .01% of the issue, what 'attempt to bypass the scientific method' are you referring too?

    In response to your earlier comment, who is anyone to exactly interpret information. Facts and studies and data are solid, they can't be argued with. But the scientific interpretation can be. This can be seen in arguments between fellow scientists, as well as between science and religion.

    But again, what 'attempt' are you referring too?
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      May 20 2012: The "attempt" is religious folks trying to use politics to get their creation story taught in science class. Instead of having their assertions tested and approved by peers (like the scientific method demands), they are using political means.


      Not all places in the U.S. are effected. Texas is the most vulnerable and the religious people have succeeded in the past. This is a very real danger to our constitution and the separation of church and state.
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        May 20 2012: Let me assert that the people trying to get this taught in class are not religious folks. They are political folks. The school system is a politicised battleground andyhe kids are the spils of war. The attempt to insert creationism is little more than a tactic to mobilise the religous support of the conservative movement, so please do not think this is reflective of all Christians.

        Remember, the same same sources that are trying to promote creationism and subvert evolution are now the same folks who spend man millions of dollars creating scientific foundations to disprove climate change.

        Iunderstand that many of us don't want somebody else's religion mixed with the purity of our murky science, but we've got know who we're up against, and it's not the religious, it's the oneswho use the religious for advancement of power.
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          May 20 2012: These people are political folks AND fundamentalist religious folks. They are definitely not mutually exclusive by any means!

          I understand it is not reflective of all christians, however the "normal" christians are "enablers" because they vote to pass these silly laws presented by crazy people. Understand how serious this is now?
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    May 19 2012: I think we should teach science in science class. Students should be allowed to do the experiments & follow the evidence free from the worldview of their teachers. If some of them happen upon proof or disproof of god/s, then so be it, but that is not the object of the exercise. We want our students to go out & make a difference in the world; not defend the worldview of their grandfathers. Empirical science is not controversial, it is the interpretation of the data that causes the problem. That shouldn't be a problem if the students are free to make their own interpretation.

    :-)
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      May 19 2012: Schooling not only presents data, but also presents the scientific interpretation of that data. If we allow every student to come to their own conclusion, then they won't learn the required material. Science is just as much about CORRECTLY interpreting results as it is about correctly gathering data.
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        May 24 2012: We present the evidence and how the evidence is interpreted and why. But I leave a few things out for the students to try and figure out (to make sure that they understand). They learn why and how the interpretation follows from the evidence. We don't just teach the scientific interpretation, but how it is achieved.
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    May 19 2012: This could fit well into the philosophy classes of secundary schools (if there are any such classes in the curriculum of US schools).

    Could also be a topic to be briefly dealt with in history classes ("why, after centuries of using the scientific method, do some religions still have a hard time with that method?"). You could sketch the history of creationism, revisionist movements, etc...
  • May 18 2012: Come up with a clear title that expresses the nature of your thread.

    Even after opening up your thread I'm not 100% sure what your asking.

    Are you asking should we teach about creationalists trying to modify our education system ?
    -OR-
    Are you asking weather or not we should teach creationalisim in schools alongside science?

    I think your asking the second one and the answer is no, not in a science class. It might be appropriate in certain humanities classes.
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      May 19 2012: My title is extremely clear. Perhaps you need to read it again.
      • May 20 2012: No not really, "should we teach the controversy" is incredibly unclear and could refer to anything considered controversial. The fact that you can't realize that speaks for itself.