The debate involving Evolution vs Intelligent Design is not a debate worth having. It is not worthy of being called a debate. It is not worth millions in lawyer fees. It is not worthy of a blog entry by a sarcastic undergraduate on summer vacation. It is, however, worth its own slot on Comedy Central. It honestly gets ridiculous sometimes. The two sides aren't even having the same conversation:
Scientist: The Sun is about halfway through its main-sequence evolution, during which nuclear fusion reactions in its core fuse hydrogen into helium. Each second, more than 4 million tons of matter are converted into energy within the Sun's core, producing neutrinos and solar radiation.
IDer: No! The sun feels like sunshine!! ...from Jesus...
It's positively absurd! No one argues over why gravity makes things fall. Newton didn't have to amend Principia Mathematica with "This textbook contains material on gravity. This concept, while appearing to be fact, might be real, might be driven by God, or might be an illusion orchestrated by God to test our faith. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered." Yet, evolution, a law of nature just as tried and true as gravity itself, is challenged by wealthy Republicans and their trailer trash groupies who don't even attempt to understand it?
These people view science as viciously attacking the very foundations of their way of life, come forth to destroy morality, to promote sex, drugs, rock n roll, and research on microtubule binding proteins. Well, I do have the Religious Right to thank for making scientists unwittingly cool, but I assure you that scientists are frequently too busy in their labs to run around sacrificing children, practicing witchcraft, and becoming lesbians (although this statement is not necessarily inclusive of all scientists).
And thus I propose gifts for teachers of evolution in our public schools:
- Body armor. Great for making presentations to creationist school boards, but light enough for daily use in the classroom. Rated for small arms, crossbow, and stones weighing up to 14 pounds.
- Jonathan Weiner's The Beak of the Finch. A great read, even if you think science is just for geeks. Buy a copy for yourself while you're at it, and talk about it loudly at cocktail parties.
- Cell phone stun gun. Uppity students will be 23% less creationy if they know there are consequences for spreading ignorance. "Hey, Jimmy, the Intelligent Designer wants to talk to you!"
- Defending Evolution. Tips on teaching evolution, dealing with wacko parents, and more. This book is endorsed by plenty of people who believe in God, and by God.
- Unprotected sex. If your kid's teacher is single, set him or her up with a VMAT2 wild type and tell them to have lots of kids, and to hurry.
- Noah's Ark play set. Add a bucket of large plastic dinosaurs and it's the perfect gift for the science-inclined kindergarten teacher.
- Subscription to Natural History, which is read by people "likely to influence the opinions of their friends and colleagues." Once the home of the late Stephen J. Gould's column on sports metaphors in biology.
- Darwin's favorite plant: Dionaea muscipula. You can buy these little beasties, native to N. and S. Carolina, at Home Depots nationwide. Big specimens will even eat small frogs.
- Adventure vacation to a Creationist town. Travel to Dover, Cobb County, or Grantsburg. Bring kids, courtesy of the Federal "No Child Left Behind" travel fund.
- A book by Darwin. Perhaps On the Origin of Species, The Descent of Man, or, everyone's controversial favorite, The Formation of Vegetable Moulds through the Action of Worms with Observations of Their Habits.
- An e-card. If your teacher is doing a good job with evolution instruction, tell him or her you care. It's free! Find his or her email address on the school's web site.
~~~~This is just a snippet from the Pennsylvania Science Standards, available here as MS Word or PDF files.
If all 4th graders ended the year with this ability, I don't think there would be any problem teaching evolution in middle school -- children would be fully equipped to identify beliefs that might conflict with scientific facts, and be able to reject such beliefs.
Now the real challenge is getting some "fact versus belief" lesson plans in circulation. Anyone know of any?
Take that, Intelligent Design...
Got Jesus? Isn't it time you got over it?
This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered.
This textbook asserts that gravity exists. Gravity is a theory, not a fact, regarding a force that cannot be directly seen. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered.
This book discusses heliocentrism, the theory that the Earth orbits around a centrally located sun. Students should be encouraged to fully consider the evidence for, and the evidence against, this interesting idea.
This textbook suggests that the Earth is spherical. Because a few delusional wackos still think the Earth is flat, while others insist it is oblate spheroid, teachers are urged to skip over this controversial topic in lesson plans.
This textbook states that the Earth is over 4 billion years old. Because this fact conflicts rather directly with a hugely popular fictional account, both sides of the argument should be taught to impressionable children.
This book promotes the theory of plate tectonics, the gradual movement of the major land masses. Because nobody actually witnessed the land masses moving, teachers should refer to the theory as unprovable.
This textbook used to contain material about general relativity. General relativity is a scientific theory that promotes relativism, plus few scientists fully understand it. The offending section was therefore cut out of the book with a razor blade.
This textbook suggests that the origin of life was a wholly natural event, not a holy magic trick. Because this view makes fundamentalists go off their medication, readers are encouraged to burn this book along with the author.
This book does not contain the word "evolution," the unifying principle in biology and an important component of the National Science Standards and the Scholastic Achievement Test.
This textbook claims that evolution is not fully accepted by scientists because it is just a theory. The author hopes to confuse you into equating scientific theory with cockamamie theory.
This book discusses God. The existence of entities with supernatural powers is controversial, and many believe that myths, especially other people's myths, are entirely fictional. This material should be approached with a sense of humor.
This book mentions Intelligent Design. Scientists first rejected supernatural explanations for life in the 1800s, and still do today — regardless of how these explanations are named.
This book contains an evolution disclaimer sticker mandated by your local school board. For fun, submit an article that analyzes the impact of weakened science instruction on the success of students' college applications.
This book was anonymously donated to your school library to discreetly promote magical, religious alternatives to the theory of evolution. When you are finished with it, please reshelve the book in the fiction section.
This book discusses evolution. President George W. Bush said, "On the issue of evolution, the verdict is still out on how God created the Earth." Therefore, until 2009 this material shood be aproched with an open mind, studeed carefuly, and critcly consid'rd.