Day By Day

Saturday, May 28, 2005

John Hawks on the Kansas Evolution Controversy

John Hawks, who writes some of the best commentary on things evolutionary, has some good advice for people concerned about the current debate taking place before the Kansas State School Board on the teaching of intelligent design in the classroom. He asks:

Can evolution exist in the classroom in a way that is not antagonistic to faith? Certainly it can, as evidenced by letter signed by thousands of clergy members. But not every kind of faith is compatible with Earth's history as uncovered by science....

It is really a small subset of religious beliefs that conflict with scientific knowledge of the Earth.

But notes:
If you believe that our planet originated within the past 10,000 years, then there is no adequate presentation of evolution that will be consistent with that belief. If you believe that humans were ther result of a special creation, and bear no relationship to other animals, then evolution cannot satisfy your belief. As long as our schools educate children who have been raised under these beliefs, there will be a conflict in the classroom.
These beliefs, which as I noted before [here], are by no means held by all proponents of ID, certainly are a sticking point. But focusing relentlessly on them only exacerbates the situation. Hawks blames ID proponents for creating a hostile climate:
The strategy of ID proponents and other supporters of creationism is to maximize the contradiction; to show that evolution is atheistic and therefore necessarily antagonistic to religion.
I would point out that this is also the strategy of extremist hyper-Darwinist polemicists like Richard Dawkins. This is what happened with regard to the Scopes Trial. Extremists and the popular press, seeking dramatic confrontation, systematically misrepresented positions on both sides of the controversy and ignored broad areas of fundamental agreement among theologians [including fundamentalists] and scientists. Hawkes, unlike the despicable Dawkins, is far too wise to go down that road.
The best strategy for evolutionists is clearly to continue to emphasize the lack of contradiction with most religions, while maximizing the value of understanding the scientific principles underlying the study of the Earth's history.
Well said!

Read his post here.

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