Kenelm Philip fnkwp at aurora.alaska.edu
Wed Aug 18 22:44:36 EDT 1999

	I would like to bring up a different slant on this vexed issue.
On NPR last Friday, in their 'Science Friday' section, a college student
from Utah called in to say how lost she felt in her biology courses--be-
cause she had never heard anything about evolution in high school. She
simply did not speak the same language as her course-mates, and had trouble
following the subject.

	This is in itself a valid reason to teach evolution in high school
science courses--which is unrelated to the truth or fiction of evolution.
The scientific disciplines of biology and astronomy (and to some extent,
chemistry as well) are founded on evolutionary concepts, and students have
to understand them whether or not they _believe_ them.

	As an example from the other side, imagine studying the choral
works of J. S. Bach while being totally ignorant of Christianity, the
Bible, and the Catholic Mass. You wouldn't have to _believe_ in all
these, but you had better _know_ about them, in some detail!

	We have had passionate defences of the truth of evolution as
opposed to the falsehood of 6000-year-old earth creationism (I would
agree with that myself), and equally passionate defences of everyone's
right to maintain their own belief systems (I would agree with that as
well, but _not_ to people's right to _act_ on those systems in all cases).
These are in some sense beside the point, however. The real issue is that
evolution is the fundamental idea underlying at least two branches of
modern science--and any course purporting to teach those disciplines that
does not lead students to understand evolutionary concepts (whether these
be right or wrong, and whether the students agree with these concepts or
not) is simply short-changing those students.

	"Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he
give him a stone?"

							Ken Philip
fnkwp at uaf.edu

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