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Darwinism, Design and Public Education

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From the Scopes Trial in 1925 through the action of the Kansas board of education, the teaching of evolution in public schools has been a flashpoint in American education. Although its implications are not yet fully evident, the advent of a modern scientific theory of intelligent design (ID), and a scholarly research community advancing this theory (the ID movement) has re From the Scopes Trial in 1925 through the action of the Kansas board of education, the teaching of evolution in public schools has been a flashpoint in American education. Although its implications are not yet fully evident, the advent of a modern scientific theory of intelligent design (ID), and a scholarly research community advancing this theory (the ID movement) has reenergized and is now redefining the character of this controversy. Darwinism, Design, and Public Education examines ID as a science, a philosophy, and a movement for educational reform. Central to all three aspects of ID is its claim that, if science education is to be other than state-sponsored propaganda, a clear and principled distinction must be drawn between empirical science and the materialist philosophy that drives contemporary Darwinian theories of origin and development. Contents Part I: Should Darwinism Be Presented Critically and Comparatively in the Public Schools: Philosophical, Educational, and Legal Issues Part II: Scientific Critique of Biology Textbooks and Contemporary Evolutionary Theory Part III: The Theory of Intelligent Design: A Scientific Alternative to Neo-Darwinian and/or Chemical Evolutionary Theories Part IV: Critical Responses


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From the Scopes Trial in 1925 through the action of the Kansas board of education, the teaching of evolution in public schools has been a flashpoint in American education. Although its implications are not yet fully evident, the advent of a modern scientific theory of intelligent design (ID), and a scholarly research community advancing this theory (the ID movement) has re From the Scopes Trial in 1925 through the action of the Kansas board of education, the teaching of evolution in public schools has been a flashpoint in American education. Although its implications are not yet fully evident, the advent of a modern scientific theory of intelligent design (ID), and a scholarly research community advancing this theory (the ID movement) has reenergized and is now redefining the character of this controversy. Darwinism, Design, and Public Education examines ID as a science, a philosophy, and a movement for educational reform. Central to all three aspects of ID is its claim that, if science education is to be other than state-sponsored propaganda, a clear and principled distinction must be drawn between empirical science and the materialist philosophy that drives contemporary Darwinian theories of origin and development. Contents Part I: Should Darwinism Be Presented Critically and Comparatively in the Public Schools: Philosophical, Educational, and Legal Issues Part II: Scientific Critique of Biology Textbooks and Contemporary Evolutionary Theory Part III: The Theory of Intelligent Design: A Scientific Alternative to Neo-Darwinian and/or Chemical Evolutionary Theories Part IV: Critical Responses

47 review for Darwinism, Design and Public Education

  1. 5 out of 5

    Craig Werner

    After following up on the questions raised in my original review, which I'm leaving as I wrote it below, I'm knocking a star off the rating and expressing some real reservations. Everything I said about the provocative nature of the book stands, but I'm convinced at this point that the anthology as a whole doesn't live up to the standards of evidence and open debate it sets itself up to defend. It took a while to find it on line, but I finally found a web site which includes the documents from b After following up on the questions raised in my original review, which I'm leaving as I wrote it below, I'm knocking a star off the rating and expressing some real reservations. Everything I said about the provocative nature of the book stands, but I'm convinced at this point that the anthology as a whole doesn't live up to the standards of evidence and open debate it sets itself up to defend. It took a while to find it on line, but I finally found a web site which includes the documents from both sides of the debate: --you can google up as "Evolution and Creation, Cal State Fullerton." Either the ID proponents were unaware of the scientific literature--in which case they're not as intellectually credible as they'd like to be--or they repressed it. And having learned more about where they come from, I'm convinced that the inadequacies of the "Rejoinders" section are to be laid at the feet of the editors rather than the neo-Darwinist community. And having said *that*, I'm equally pissed off at the rhetoric of the anti-ID people who don't appear to see the point in actually answering people who disagree with them. We need a good small book written by someone who's chief agenda *isn't* atheism--that's directed at Richard Dawkins--which presents the current state of evolutionary knowledge in ways that respond to Campbell's anthology. For how we got in this mess, check out Edward Larson's Summer for the Gods. First, I'm very glad I read this anthology of essays circling around the issues identified in the title. It raises questions concerning the processes and rhetoric of science (especially in the public sphere) and contains some provocative and to my mind ultimately insightful suggestions concerning how to approach the "evolution-design" question in the classroom. Note, that I wrote "design" not "creationism." *All* of the writers who advocate "intelligent design" are careful not to conflate it with creationism, leaving the field open for notions of design which aren't christian and possibly not theist. Similarly, none of the ID advocates, as far as I can remember, even mention the Bible. That's not to say they aren't aware of the potential implications of the approach, but they are most definitely *not* arguing for the authority of religion on scientific questions. I emphasize that because many of the writers who respond to the ID argument critically begin by substituting "creationism" for ID. It's a cheap rhetorical shot and it begs every serious question raised by the ID advocates. Irritating to say the least. The structure of the volume is related to the three star rating I'm giving in after having thought about giving it four. The editors are clearly disturbed by the unproductive binary debates that are too common in the public sphere, with problematic results in classrooms. John Angus Campbell is up front about his preference for a "Teaching the conflicts." I'm pedagogically sympathetic to that approach in the first place and after having read the book, I'm convinced it's the right way to handle Darwinism. Anyway, Campbell and Meyer (who is one of the leading ID theorists) divide the book into four sections: 1.Three essays, all of them valuable, discussing the issue of Darwinism in public education. All advocate for inclusion of ID. 2.Six essays critiquing various aspects of the neo-Darwinian synthesis. 3. Five essays arguing for ID as a scientific response to the problems outlined in section 2. 4. A dozen or so briefer rejoinders, mostly from Darwinists either answering or more frequently ignoring the approaches presented in sections 2 and 3. Nothing wrong with the structure, especially since Campbell and Meyer don't pretend to be giving equal time to Darwinism, arguing (cogently in my view) that most readers will already be familiar with the main tenants and evidence. (I would have liked one overview essay from a Darwinist scientist presenting evolution from a sympathetic perspective, but it's not a major problem.) One of the most valuable aspects of the essays is the specificity of the criticisms of neo-Darwinism (which as several writers observe is often based on equivocations between at least six different uses of "evolution"--several non-controversial. The controversial aspects are the use of evolution to assert common ancestry of all life and the explanatory adequacy of natural selection when applied to the origin of life. Underlying the ID theorists rejection of the final meaning, and sometimes of common ancestry, is a rejection of the premise that mechanical naturalism is an adequate philosophical stance for science. The ID theorists present three major criticisms of neo-Darwinism: 1. It can't explain the origin of the "irreducibly complex"structures required by naturalistic "origin of life" models; 2. It works for microevolution, but not macroevolution, especially the emergence of new phyla (as opposed to genera or species). 3. It's not supported by the fossil record, especially the emergence of new phyla in the Cambrian explosion. For the ID theorists, relying heavily on information theory, the best inference from the facts--there's a philosophy of science debate underlying their use of the term and I think it makes sense--is the input of an intelligent designer. What I wanted in the rejoinder section was a set of careful detailed response to the specific criticisms. Didn't get it. Instead, there's a lot of jabber about the rhetoric of the controversy and a fair amount of name-calling. It's not clear to me whether this results from the absence of adequate responses or a really lousy set of choices regarding who wrote the responses. Many of the respondents are rhetoricians, not scientists. I'm an academic humanist, so I'm not rejecting the breed, but dammit, who cares what a rhetoric person has to say in this context if they aren't going to address the positions presented rather than pre-existing cartoons? It was particularly irritating that the first four responses are the worst. Not everyone went down that rabbit hole. John Lynne's essay on pedagogical approaches is terrific. William Provine, Alvin Plantinga and Steve Fuller make real contributions. There's a nifty and very short brief for panspermia--the notion that design came to earth from outer space--by Brig Klyce and Chandra Wickramasingha. Ultimately, however, the serious response I was waiting for never gets off the ground. I'll do some digging and see what I can find in the way of neo-Darwinist response to ID. My propensities are still pretty strongly neo-Darwinian, but it's clear that I need a better version than the one I have. If what Campbell and Meyer wanted to do was encourage deeper thought--as opposed to convince readers that ID is "right"--they definitely succeed.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Joe McFaul

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jessi

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    NASIR

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    Jonathan

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    Jesse

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    Ahem!

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    Emily Wainwright

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    Guru Truth

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    Charles

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    Astro

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    Ben Wetherbee

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    Paul Vittay

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    Claire E Warfel

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    James Swanson

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    Al Price

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    Donal Snap

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    Jonathan Grunert

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    Darrick Dean

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    Joelostin stinnxe

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    Macho

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    Rasheed

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    Joel Yousaf

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    JR Bennett

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    Jessica

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    Celadevra

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    David Bazett-jones

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    Lori

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    Scott

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    Matthew Shelley

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    Ashley Perkins

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    Foxglove Zayuri

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    Caleb

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    Chidi OKORO

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    Bō Jinn

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    Paul Scheeler

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    Melinda

  44. 5 out of 5

    Steve Dustcircle

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    Cole

  46. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Goins

  47. 4 out of 5

    Monica Madaus

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