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From BioMed Central, a Confusing Discussion of Evolution Education and the “Nature of Science”


Kids have headed back to school. But what will they learn about evolution there?

Some hope that it will be to accept Darwin’s theory. In a post on BioMed Central’s blog network, biology PhD candidate Ryan Dunk discusses his research on acceptance of evolution, recently published in the journal Evolution: Education & Outreach.

He notes:

What we found was very intriguing: more so than any measure of religious belief, the most significant factor that influenced acceptance of evolution in our sample was an understanding of the nature of science. The nature of science is a term used by educators and philosophers of science to denote the aims and processes of science. In particular, the measure we used focused on the methodological naturalism of science (supernatural causes are not the purview of scientific inquiry); the difference between evidence, facts, hypotheses, theories, and laws; and the understanding of science as a social and human endeavor.

This definition is unclear. Does he mean that, when it comes to (let’s say) design in nature, science cannot deduce whether the cause is supernatural or natural? Or that scientists assume that all measurable effects must come from natural sources?

If the former, we agree. In fact, as Evolution News observed the other day, there is “no necessary contradiction” between ID and methodological naturalism. If the latter, however, that is a philosophical position, not a scientific one, and it entails circular reasoning. If science precludes evidence that might point to causes that could be supernatural, then of course it won’t find any.

The better approach is to follow the evidence where it leads. That’s why Discovery Institute advocates freedom for students to learn the scientific controversy over evolution in their public school classrooms. For more information, see our Science Education Policy.

The problem for materialists is that the evidence, objectively considered, is trending strongly against neo-Darwinism. That likely explains why they mostly oppose intitiatives favoring academic freedom for students and teachers.

Oh, and a note for parents. Remember that education is not confined to school. This school year, don’t just send your child off to biology class. Take time to learn more about evolution at home too.

Photo credit: U.S. Air Force, Airman 1st Class Gustavo Castillo.