Michael:

 

Thanks for this post and your article.   I do not teach classes in biology.  But your approach seems reasonable; and it does seem to be supported by the one study you cited.   I occasionally broach the subject of evolution in my environmental health science classes, as when I discuss the body’s intricate defenses against airborne particles, which presumably evolved (although some might say were “created”).   The evolution perspective is interesting because some aspects of the physiological defense systems, which probably evolved to deal with infectious agents, may now be counterproductive when dealing with the nonviable particulates found in air pollution in our technological society.  Although I refer to the debate about evolution in passing, I do not belabor it, because I consider the subject peripheral to the course focus.  

 

My overall experience in teaching is that almost anything I can do to get students “involved” in a subject is beneficial, particularly if they are encouraged to come up with logical arguments to justify their position.   And encouraging a debate about evolution seems like it could definitely be productive.  I think one just has to be careful to: 1) continue to uphold the value of scientific thinking and investigation (I think it’s fine for the instructor to “weigh in” on this value) and 2) make sure that the single topic does not “overshadow” (e.g. in time and effort) one’s overall educational objectives.

 

All that being said, I think the conflict between evolution and belief in a supreme being is sometimes artificial.  Why can’t evolution be part of God’s plan?  The problem is that most “creationists” don’t just want people to believe in God; they want people to believe in their God and their particular religious doctrine.

 

In terms of the difference between high school and college students, obviously there can be great differences in “readiness to learn” even between students in the same class.  So I am not sure a big distinction between the two groups is warranted.  My guess is that both educational levels will benefit from this type of discussion.  However, probably a lot will depend on the teacher and how it is handled.

 

Frank

***************************************

Frank S. Rosenthal, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Purdue University School of Health Sciences

550 Stadium Mall Dr.

West Lafayette, IN 47907 USA

tel: 765-494-0812, fax: 765-496-1377,

e-mail: [log in to unmask]

***************************************


From: Science for the People Discussion List [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Michael Balter
Sent: Saturday, February 24, 2007 4:55 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: dealing with creationism and intelligent design

 

Since I am relatively new to this list I don't know what sort of discussions have taken place here about these subjects, but I thought list members might be interested in seeing (or maybe not!) an opinion piece I wrote on this for the International Herald Tribune a few weeks ago. I have gotten a lot of grief for these views from more diehard Darwinians but would be very interested in knowing how a lefty crowd sees these things. I have no preconceptions about that. This article should be freely available at this link, but let me know if you have trouble accessing it as I also posted it on my Web site.

http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/01/31/opinion/edbalter.php

--
www.michaelbalter.com

******************************************
Michael Balter
Contributing Correspondent, Science
[log in to unmask]
******************************************