Debating Evolution in Israel
The United States is not the only place where creationists attempt to redesign the science curriculum in textbooks. Israel’s chief scientist in Israel’s ministry of education, Gavriel Avital, “sparked a furor” by questioning the reliability of evolution and global warming, leading to calls for his dismissal, according to Haaretz (Feb. 21, 2010).
Avital asserts, “If textbooks state explicitly that human beings’ origins are to be found with monkeys, I would want students to pursue and grapple with other opinions. There are many people who don’t believe the evolutionary account is correct,” he was quoted as saying. “There are those for whom evolution is a religion and are unwilling to hear about anything else. Part of my responsibility, in light of my position with the Education Ministry, is to examine textbooks and curricula.”
Of course all thus sounds quite familiar to those of us who are debating the merits and demerits of the Intelligent Design theories in this country. Frankly, I personally see nothing wrong with raising the issues that science confronts today. For those who argue that Intelligent Design is bogus science, wouldn’t it be interesting for students to at least participate in a scientific debate and understand why it is bogus science? If science is to be relevant to students, then it should take on the issues that confront its accepted wisdom.
I wonder: how many students really understand why the geocentric view of the solar system is scientifically incorrect? Physicists have long argued whether light functions more like a wave or like a particle? The history of science is fascinating. Why shouldn’t students see how scientific views of universe evolves?
Now, with respect to the Anthropic Principle, this is a theory in modern physics that does have very interesting theological and philosophical implications. Why should this theory be banned from discussion? Are we so insecure in our beliefs that we are afraid to entertain the great questions that have puzzled many of the world’s greatest philosophers, scientists, and thinkers since the time of Aristotle? What ever happened to the love of learning?
In Israel, as with the United States, religious communities have an invested interest in controlling the curriculum; they desire to introduce religion any way they can.
Now, as some teachers have informed me, there is only so much time to teach a science course to a class. This is probably true with states like New York, where there are Regents exams. Maybe a course in the Philosophy of Science might be an area where discussions of this sort can be generated.
Questions on Global Warming
With respect to the global warming issue is also an important issue to debate in the classrooms as well. Al Gore has made a very good living acting as the apostle for global warming prognostications. Hackers recently broke into the data-bank of the University of East Anglia’s Hadley Climatic Research Centre downloaded 1079 e-mails and 72 documents of various types and published them to an anonymous FTP server. These files appear to contain highly sensitive information that, if genuine, could prove extremely embarrassing to the authors of the e-mails involved. Those authors include some of the most celebrated names among proponents of the theory of anthropogenic global warming (AGW). …
It seems that the emails show how scientists manipulated data to bolster their argument that global warming is genuine and is being caused by human actions.
One paper reported:
* Call for public inquiry into global warming ‘manipulation’
* 2008 was the year man-made global warming was disproved
* Kofi Annan: 300,000 people die every year from climate change. Really?
The Environmental Infallibility of Al Gore
Politics and science do not belong in the classroom either; it is as offensive to me as religion and science–especially when educators use agendas to close off discussion. Al Gore still refuses to submit his work to peer-reviewed studies.
Of course, not too many global-warming advocates raise the possibility that the sun may have more to do with global warming than we realize. The sun is by far the single most powerful driving force on our climate, and the fact is we do not understand how it affects us. NASA says that the Martian South Pole’s ice cap has been shrinking for three summers … Even the planet Jupiter appears to be warming up as well.
When Al Gore says that the sun is not to blame for recent global warming: mankind and fossil fuels are–we must believe him. Right. Maybe greedy corporations are not just destroying the environment on this planet, but they are also affecting other planets as well, right, Mr. Gore? So Al Gore must be correct when he said, “The scientific data is in. There is no more debate”–at least not for him.
Oh well …
Kudos go to Yochanan Lavie for his latest composition:
Apologies to the Monkees:
Here we come, crawling
Down the street.
We get the angriest looks from
Ev’ry rabbi we meet.
Hey, hey, we’re the Monkeys
And people say we monkey around.
But we’re too busy evolving
To put anybody down.
We go wherever we need to,
do what we’re adapted to do
We don’t have time to get restless,
To fight fundamentalist Jews.
We’re just tryin’ to be fittest,
Come and watch us make tools all day,
We’re your closest relations,
In the animal kingdom, oy vey!
Any time, Or anywhere,
Just look at your apposable thumbs
Darwin is in the air