Secular Ethos

Episode #4: Creationism in schools

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 Posted on Sunday, April 2nd, 2017

Show notes for episode 4: The rise and fall of secularism. Is secularism bound to failure. With the religious birth rates and accelerated indoctrination, the numbers are favoring the religious. However this is not a death blow to secularism. It does however renew the need for finding allies on the other side. There are the religious that support secularism, or at least the uncoupling of church and state. There are christian groups that have formed to fight for secular government. Atheism must be normalized, and at the same time hold on to potential allies.

The ideas of religion deserves ridicule, but the people deserve respect and humanistic compassion. So where is the line between respect of people and ridicule of their ideas. Is there a case that can be made that their ideas are more worthy of ridicule.

The Knox county schools are re-segregating there school district by authorizing new construction of schools in majority white areas, while not funding any new constructions in areas where the black populations are more than 5 % . This is a human rights issue, and is related to secularism. The meetings for the redistricting efforts are only held in majority white schools. They have even got the attention of the NAACP.

Creationism in public schools: In Tennessee we already have on the books the ability for teachers to teach so called “alternatives”
to scientific theories in public school classrooms. The advocates for this kind of non-sense work off a fundamental or maybe even intentional misunderstanding of science. The bills similar to this use the language that evolution is “just a theory”. The truth is that yes evolution is a theory, but using the language just a theory demeans the importance and significance of the term theory in science. In science, theory is the highest standard to reach. Theory means it is the best explanation for the phenomena observed. All of the evidence leads to the same conclusions, and predictions and experiments all can be repeated and confirmed independently. The fact that when the public hears the words just a theory they do not understand this is a misrepresentation of the scientific process, is disturbing. It highlights the problems that we are all facing in the world. Education is more political and subject to the shifting power structures. In fact education should be made to be just as secular and godless as the U.S constitution.

The wall of separation should have it’s strongest point around education. So that real educators can teach children what science is and how it is conducted. children should be taught that the least biased ways of looking at the world is what is important.

Washington Post Headline : “Law allows creationism to be taught in Tenn. Public schools” April 11, 2012

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/law-allows-creationism-to-be-taught-in-tenn-public-schools/2012/04/11/gIQAAjqxAT_story.html?utm_term=.8b2872b0d1c2

Chattanoogan.com Headline: “ David Fowler: Making John Scopes Proud– Finally– “

Fowler makes the argument that the laws against the teaching of creationism are the scientific community doing the same things as the anti-evolution laws of the past.

http://www.chattanoogan.com/2011/2/21/195128/David-Fowler-Making-John-Scopes-Proud.aspx

This is more of the religious false equivalence. Their standard methodology is to make these type of arguments.

Title 49 Education
Chapter 6 Elementary and Secondary Education
Part 10 Curriculum Generally

Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-6-1030 (2016)

49-6-1030. Teaching scientific subjects in public schools.

(a) The state board of education, public elementary and secondary school governing authorities, directors of schools, school system administrators, and public elementary and secondary school principals and administrators shall endeavor to create an environment within public elementary and secondary schools that encourages students to explore scientific questions, learn about scientific evidence, develop critical thinking skills, and respond appropriately and respectfully to differences of opinion about scientific subjects required to be taught under the standards developed by the state board of education.

(b) The state board of education, public elementary and secondary school governing authorities, directors of schools, school system administrators, and public elementary and secondary school principals and administrators shall endeavor to assist teachers to find effective ways to present the science curriculum taught under the standards developed by the state board of education as it addresses scientific subjects that may cause debate and disputation.

(c) Neither the state board of education, nor any public elementary or secondary school governing authority, director of schools, school system administrators, or any public elementary or secondary school principal or administrators shall prohibit any teacher in a public school system of this state from helping students 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 within the standards developed by the state board of education.

(d) This section only protects the teaching of scientific information, and shall not be construed to promote any religious or nonreligious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs or nonbeliefs, or promote discrimination for or against religion or nonreligion.

More sources for the current rush of new laws being considered to allow creationism in public schools.

https://phys.org/news/2017-03-states-mull-laws-religion-science.html

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/theory

https://ncse.com/library-resource/definitions-fact-theory-law-scientific-work

“ However, there are two senses of theory which are sometimes troublesome. These are the senses which are defined as “a plausible or scientifically acceptable general principle or body of principles offered to explain phenomena” and “an unproven assumption; conjecture.” The second of these is occasionally misapplied in cases where the former is meant, as when a particular scientific theory is derided as “just a theory,” implying that it is no more than speculation or conjecture. One may certainly disagree with scientists regarding their theories, but it is an inaccurate interpretation of language to regard their use of the word as implying a tentative hypothesis; the scientific use of theory is quite different than the speculative use of the word. ”

Theory. (n.d.). Retrieved March 31, 2017, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/theory

Related sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creation_and_evolution_in_public_education_in_the_United_States

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