Oklahoma should not dumb down its students by teaching religious concepts as science. Discuss intelligent design in religion or philosophy or contemporary news courses, but do not teach students that scientific methods and experimentation do not matter. They do matter, and they are vitally important to all of us.
I’ve talked about this before (either here or on Okiefunk.com, one of the most thoughtprovoking moderate-progresive Okie blogs out there), but since the same points are still being made I want to address one key point again.
Science in our society is practically worshipped and is given a free ride from moral or social discussion in public schools. Certainly it would be good if “religion or philosophy or contemporary news courses” provided some of this discussion but it just doesn’t happen. Religion and philosophy is sadly not taught in the K-12 public school environment (and is barely taught in college… during my three years at SWOSU I had a grand total of one 2 hour philophy course as part of the general ed curriculum… in which we primarily focused on ancient Greek philosophy and did not have time really for any contemporary philosophical concerns), and Current News events might get occassional mention in the K-12 environment, but not in a critical thinking sense.
The truth is that our children are being given a minimum of 5 years of Science education (from grades 7-12), yet they are not being given the intellectual tools to ask whether science is in fact the best way to understand the world. I personally have found science to be helpful, but only if it is kept in its proper place, because the world is more than just the material (which I should also add is my main criticism of the writings of Karl Marx, despite my agreement with much of his other beliefs).
Science has made our lives easier, it has reduced the danger of disease and it has helped us to understand our lives and how our lives fit into the larger world. At the same time though, unbridled faith in science and technology has made our lives go straight to hell in many ways. Science has taken away the dignity of life, it has stole from us the dignity of dying (without machines hooked up to us); our food supply has been poisoned, the soil is losing its means to support us, and probably worst of all science has been used to create the most horrible of weapons — nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. — and let’s not even consider what TV is doing to us all.
My point is that I’m not convinced that we are better off because of our scientific knowledge and in fact I wonder if more has been lost since we no longer believe in the mystery of life and what was assumed to be proof of the innate sense of the divine in ourselves and in nature.
So I guess all of that is to say that I don’t find much sympathy for the movement to keep intelligent design out of the classroom. Why can’t students talk about all of the ideas behind the origins of life, and why can’t students talk about the social, philosophical and theological impacts of scientific ideas in the classroom? If science wants to stay “pure” and not deal with us ideas (which I personally think is crap… the isolation of the disciplines is part of the problem of modern education), then I think it is critical that we have philosophy classes in the public K-12 and college
educational environments, and not just as electives but as part of the general ed curriculum. Science is simply too powerful (and dangerous of a force) to leave unleashed without any kind of intellectual criticism.