26 August, 2008

Teaching evolution in schools

This is a really interesting article about how one biology teacher is teaching evolution in US schools and the type of difficulties he is encountering whilst doing so.

I especially like the conversation he has with a student about the purpose - and limits - of science:

Teacher (Mr Campbell):“Can anybody think of a question science can’t answer?”

A student: “Is there a God?”

“Good,” said Mr. Campbell, an Anglican who attends church most Sundays. “Can’t test it. Can’t prove it, can’t disprove it. It’s not a question for science.”

Bryce (a student who reads the Bible as literally true) raised his hand.

“But there is scientific proof that there is a God,” he said. “Over in Turkey there’s a piece of wood from Noah’s ark that came out of a glacier.”

Mr. Campbell chose his words carefully.

“If I could prove, tomorrow, that that chunk of wood is not from the ark, is not even 500 years old and not even from the right kind of tree — would that damage your religious faith at all?”

Bryce thought for a moment.

“No,” he said.

The room was unusually quiet.

“Faith is not based on science,” Mr. Campbell said. “And science is not based on faith. I don’t expect you to ‘believe’ the scientific explanation of evolution that we’re going to talk about over the next few weeks.”

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