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Christopher Halliwell

Secondary Education Physics, Mississippi State University

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Should public schools be allowed to teach creation myths in science class?

Should christian political parties be allowed to circumvent the scientific method by using politics to put mythology in science textbooks?

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Closing Statement from Christopher Halliwell

This conversation contains strongly differing opinions about public education. However, those who commented in favor of introducing creation myths into science textbooks were always religiously motivated. This is no surprise. Instead of appealing to the validity or truth of their respective creation stories, theses people appealed to "teaching the controversy". My response:

There is no controversy concerning evolution in the scientific community. "Teaching the controversy" of creation stories vs evolution is equivalent to teaching astrology next to astronomy, or alchemy next to chemistry, or magic next to electromagnetism. Without any verifiable claims to test, creation stories are not scientific. Ergo they do not belong in a science textbook.

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    Feb 24 2013: Myths and metaphors are an important first stage of a thinking process. I think it helps throw the first rays of light into the dark recesses of yet-to-be-discovered knowledge.

    Once we are able to throw more light into that darkness and things becomes more certain, it can then move from the Mythology class, through the philosophy classes and into the Science class. Education generally should reflect the way we think and neither science or mythology should be dismissed as one without the other - but they do have their correct place.

    The problem arises when we get too entrenched in mythology and unwilling to move on to accept the facts that arise from it.
    • Feb 24 2013: " Myths and metaphors are an important first stage of a thinking process. I think it helps throw the first rays of light into the dark recesses of yet-to-be-discovered knowledge. "

      Why myths and metaphors rather than reason and logic should be first stage of a thinking process?

      "Once we are able to throw more light into that darkness and things becomes more certain"

      Science goal is to throw more light into any "darkness". I see myths to be quite the opposite, creating false views and creating confusion with unreal tales and stories.

      "Education generally should reflect the way we think and neither science or mythology should be dismissed as one without the other - but they do have their correct place."

      So which myths, religious beliefs, mystic, supernatural, psychic beliefs will you teach and can anyone make up their own beliefs? How will you deal with opposite beliefs that contradict science and each other? Wouldn't this lead to a chaos?
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        Feb 24 2013: Because reason and logic follow intuition - in that order. If all thinking was only down to reason and logic, how would we perceive anything lying just outside the reach of empirical knowledge? Reason and logic make decisions based on 'what is' and intuition and metaphor form pathways to 'what could be' - an essential hierarchy, if knowledge is to move forward into pioneering territory.

        Mythology is just metaphor with the volume turned up. It helped the ancients to perceive something in the absence of science to clearly define it.

        As intuition is an evolved function of the human brain, I am personally loath to dismiss it, or indeed any closely related function that helps the intuitive process - like metaphor.

        Sometimes metaphor can be much more powerful in solidifying one's perceptions of 'definition' within chaotic or complex entities. As an example, I am more likely to find the red-giant Betelgeuse in the night sky because I know it is situated in the constellation Orion; I know where to look, because the ancient mythological image of a warrior's belt and sword in the stars, leads me to it.

        If Betelgeuse blows into supernova within my lifetime and I see a bright light coming somewhere from the direction of Orion, I'll know exactly what it is - because ancient mythology has guided my perceptions through to spectacular science and astrophysics.
        • Feb 25 2013: I agree that intuition has its important role. However I don't see it being more important than reason and logic.

          "Mythology is just metaphor with the volume turned up. It helped the ancients to perceive something in the absence of science to clearly define it."

          Yes I agree and I think it is a good subject in the history class but not in the science class?

          "Sometimes metaphor can be much more powerful in solidifying one's perceptions of 'definition' within chaotic or complex entities."

          It's good to use metaphors and I don't think anyone objects in using them. However mythology is not scientific and again it should be kept in history or philosophy classes, not science classes. The purpose of basic education is to allow kids to understand how our society and world works without being drawn into thousand contradicting beliefs of their parents and communities?

          cheers

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