The media-instigated battle between faith and science is a red herring to the real issue of academic freedom. When debating evolution education, it is important to remember Charles Darwin's own words:
"A fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question."
Polk County educators should teach Darwinian evolution, but they should teach it well. We must allow critical analysis of the theory to be presented to students.
Contrary to what media-allied Big Science may have society believe, there is a growing debate among scientists regarding the claims of Darwinian evolution. While it is true that the majority of scientists do accept Darwinian evolution, one must never forget the lessons of history: Consensus is the antithesis to good science.
Science is determined by collecting and observing data and following the evidence wherever it may lead rather than keeping faith in a group-think mentality of scientists. Yet scientists who have simply expressed doubts about Darwinian evolution have been denied tenure or funding and endured character assassination.
These instances are indicative of what Big Science has become - a government subsidized ideological cartel bent on eliminating competition.J
The Darwinist supported proposal for Florida Science Benchmark SC.912.N.2.4 states: "The learner will recognize that the strength or usefulness of a scientific claim is established through scientific argumentation, which depends on the use of critical and logical thinking, and the active consideration of alternative scientific explanations to explain all the data presented."
How can we expect students to critically analyze Darwinian evolution if they are only showed the evidence for it? Good education dictates teaching both the strengths and weaknesses of Darwinian evolution.
The Darwinists may be fine with settling for second-rate dogmatic science education, but Florida is not. Teaching a debated theory as factual dogma not to be questioned is disingenuous to students. It stifles inquiry. On the other hand, if students are presented with the scientific evidence for and against Darwinian evolution, there will be a renewed interest in science.
The contrast is clear: Dogma is boring; debate intrigues young minds. And for the record, the weaknesses of Darwinian evolution can be taught without mentioning alternative theories.
Finally, it is encouraging to realize that the legal precedent for protecting academic freedom is strong. From 2001's bipartisan No Child Left Behind Act Conference Report to U.S. Supreme Court opinions, the law has consistently promoted critical analysis of Darwinian evolution. Furthermore, a 2006 Zogby poll showed that 69 percent of Americans believe teachers should teach both the scientific evidence for and against Darwinian evolution.
With a clear mandate from the people and in the spirit of good science, the Florida Coalition for Academic Freedom has presented a resolution protecting academic freedom to teach both the strengths and weaknesses of Darwinian evolution to the Polk County School Board. In less than one week, more than 800 Polk residents signed a petition supporting this proposal. The movement includes biology teachers, medical doctors and community leaders. Jews, Christians, Muslims, deists and even agnostics are uniting for the cause of freedom and scientific inquiry.
Citizens interested in learning more about this movement can visit www.FloridaCAF.org. The site contains 10 scientific weaknesses of Darwinian evolution not being presented to students.
David Gornoski is Lakeland resident.