Monday March 10, 2014
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Is there anybody around here who would call me irreligious?
Is there anyone who doubts my faith?
Is there anyone who doesn't know that I am a scientist?
I have two things to comment on.
One: The meaning of the term "theory" when it is used in a scientific context as in the Theory of Evolution.
Two: Senate Bill 1213.
Let's take them one at a time. What does "theory" mean?
Here is how a hypothesis becomes a theory:
In this context, "theory" no longer means the same thing it means when you and I use it in everyday usage to mean an educated guess or hypothesis; it means an accepted, proven explanation.
Anyone who uses the term "theory" in its non-scientific meaning while discussing a scientific theory like Evolution is not playing by the rules of polite and honest discussion. End of comment.
Now for Senate Bill 1213.
The offending thing about this bill is that it attempts to change the science classroom from a place where accepted science is taught, turning it into a place where unproven hypotheses or non-scientific ideas are discussed, and far worse that it violates the First Amendment rights of students to be free of religious instruction in a state operated schoolroom.
Here is the most offensive part of the bill:
"Teachers shall be allowed to help pupils understand, analyze, critique and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught."
What is wrong with that?
• The task of teachers in K-12 classes is NOT to teach controversy. It is to teach accepted science.
• There is, in the first place, no gain to be had from such discussions because the students lack the knowledge, the training, the education, and the maturity to make decisions on such issues.
• There is, in addition, no time for such discussions. The one thing that is always in short supply in the science classroom is time. Any science teacher will gladly tell you that he or she could not conceivably teach all the material in the textbook, and that an hour wasted talking about unproven hypotheses is an hour better spent on proven fact.
• The wording of this bill permits teachers to go outside their textbooks, and to teach their own private or political beliefs to students, who will then accept them as truth.
• If someone were to believe that SB 1213 allowed him or her to teach creationism in a science classroom, and did so, the State of Arizona would instantly be in violation of the First Amendment, which guarantees each of us the right to be free of exhortation by the government on any religious issue, whether pro or con.
• Teaching creationism in a public school would be teaching a Christian belief in a classroom which must be absolutely neutral where any individual doctrine is concerned. It would deny people of other faiths their right to a free, public, religiously neutral education.
I urge each of you to tell the legislature to leave religion alone. We neither need, nor want, government assistance. We are able to stand alone.
Entirely outside the discussion of SB 1213, let us take up the matter of Creationism. Every American citizen has the guaranteed right to believe whatever he or she believes regarding any issue that touches upon his or her faith. If that belief runs directly contrary to accepted scientific belief, and an American chooses to believe it, so be it. End of comment.
Just so you will know. Where do I stand?
I do not have, nor will I ever have, any doubt that God could create or modify the universe in any way He chooses, nor do I believe that we have to understand how He choses to do it, or that in fact we will ever be entirely able to understand all He has done, or how.
I do, however, believe that God created the laws by which we see this beautiful universe operating, and that we probably will not go far amiss if we believe that much of the time He chooses to work His wonders through those laws, the understanding of which is the goal of science.
I will add that I believe what I believe, taking it on faith. I do not need proof of what I believe. My opinion is that if you have faith you need no proof, and if you need proof you lack faith.
That does not mean that I do not enjoy the occasional bit of proof that rears its head from time to time. It was, for example, fun to discover that a stele (a stone monument) erected by an ancient Egyptian king at his western border to list all the vassal nations of Egypt included the name H-B-R-U, which in the ancient tongue would be pronounced Hebrew.
Tom, Well said !
If we evolved from a gob of mud, fish or apes how come they are still around?
Did God decide which ones to keep in thier original state?
Ever notice what our money has printed on it?
IN GOD WE TRUST
Isn't the money stamped and printed by the U.S. Govt?
This is an argument that can go on forever.
I wish our legislators would realize that when it comes to faith we do not need help.
I might add that where science and religion is concerned the three most religious people I have known in 81 years where all scientists. My brother Charlie, gone now God bless him, a good friend named Bill Tolar back in Texas, and Mister Denny, my physics teacher in high school.
All three of them were physicists. I wonder what that says?
Just one last comment.
I always wonder about people who try to make an end run around the First Amendment right to worship as we choose. They don't seem to realize that if they do it, then other people can--and will!--do it.
I don't know about anyone else, but I don't want some state run school, or some teacher, deciding what my children hear about religion. I'll just take care of that myself, thank you.
I'll cose this out with a little story that is cute as I don't know what, but which also has some disturbing overtones.
Somewhere or other I dug up a 16 foot long, three foot high book shelf for my science classroom at Carson JH in Mesa. I went to book sales around the valley (there's a good "nurses sale" each year, for one thing) and bought suitable books for junior high kids--Nancy Drew and the like. I also stocked it with light books on science and other things, all of them things that I knew parents would just love seeing their children reading. I also included a Bible and a Book of Mormon because Mesa has many LDS.
What were the books for? One problem in any classroom is the fact that you have a mix of kids from the fastest to the slowest. Some people believe that when faster kids finish they should be given "enrichment." As someone who was one of the "fastest" kids in school I knew that we thin of enrichment as punishment for getting done. So I used an entirely different system.
I set my goals a little high, but had a system of rewards for getting classwork done. Some of them were truly enruchment, but they were so much fun the kids loved them. As, for example, free time on microscopes and great things to look at, or a hangman program that I wrote which used science terms as the words they had to find. But I also offered rewards that were just plain fun. One of them was reading. Some of the kids liked to read, some didn't.
One day, just after the beginning of the year, a little LDS 7th grade girl who had gotten done with her work happened upon the Book of Mormon. She brought it up to me and very quietly said, "Oh, Mister Garrett. You can have this in here. It's against the law!"
She really looked worried, but I explained to her that it was okay to have the book there as long as I didn't teach from it and as long as the use of it was entirely voluntary. After that, I noticed that about a quarter of the time when she was done with her work she would have it on her desk.
Cute story, isn't it? Of course, there's more to say, but I'll let that go.
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