Darwin and Education Policy
I have no religious problem with evolution. It doesn’t undermine my faith any more than elephants do. I mean, suppose you’d never seen an elephant. People told you about them, but you were skeptical. Then you saw one in the flesh. Why would your first reaction be, “Well, that does it. There is no god.” Space aliens, same way — I’m skeptical about the existence of intelligent extra-terrestrial life (where is everyone?) but if we do someday make contact that won’t make me convert to atheism.
I don’t have a scientific problem with evolution. I can accept natural selection –> differential reproduction –> speciation. Mostly I don’t care. I don’t have any background in biology, and what chemistry I know involves more-or-less rapid combustion.
My interest in evolution is social and political. If the local school board proposed teaching Intelligent Design I’d be concerned, and would at the least watch them very closely. If I had kids in the school system, I’d consider sending them elsewhere, or even moving.
But I would not support the federal or state government requiring schools to teach evolution, or forbidding schools from teaching creationism. It’s up to the voters to decide what they want to have their children taught. A mandatory national curriculum designed by scientists according to the best Ed-Psych research is a greater threat than all the school children in Kansas being taught that Darwin was wrong.
Science teaches us that…
…more study is needed. People don’t trust scientists. After the twentieth century, scientists don’t trust themselves. Why would the rest of us? Trying to re-make society according to scientific principles, they turned Europe and Asia into a slaughter house. Scientists lost my unqualified trust when they started considering the consequences to society of their work.
The big problem with Darwinism is that it’s unconvincing. Reasonably bright non-specialists read an outline of the theory, and some non-trivial fraction of them think Darwin’s as goofy as Freud. Marxism, Phlogiston, Relativity, Quantum Mechanics; Science isn’t a body facts, it’s a way of systematically being wrong about stuff. Science advances by making falsifiable hypotheses, finding them to be wrong, and making better ones.
Since 1944, scientists have had a blank check. Science and math education were tremendously expanded in the fifties and sixties. High tide was reached at some point, and reading became the new priority. In spite of all this, scientists have never been able to convince some fraction of laymen of the validity of evolution solely on its merits. They want the government to give them a monopoly and not allow competing theories to be taught in government schools. It’s significant that other scientific theories don’t require that kind of protection from the marketplace of ideas.