Saturday, October 03, 2009

New Book by Lee Meadows Said to Bridge the Gap Peacefully

Lee Meadows of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, has written a book that he says will help in the evolution controversy. The story, in Medical News, notes:
In his book, The Missing Link: An Inquiry Approach for Teaching All Students About Evolution, Meadows, a Christian and science educator, writes: "For too long evolution has been denied its place in science curriculum. School policies driven by misunderstanding and fear regularly displace widely recognized principles of science. But without understanding evolution, students - no matter what their religious beliefs - will never achieve the level of scientific literacy they need to make sense of even everyday practicalities such as how human viruses work."
Sadly, this is lost on most people. His tactic is very simple:
"Children have to understand evolution," he says, "but they don't have to believe it, and that is the key distinction that I have laid out in the book. So if a child asks if God made the whale, it's really an opportunity to talk about natural and supernatural explanations. You are not saying that one is better than the other, only that science is limited to natural explanations."
Unfortunately, I think that he has underestimated the level of hostility that your average creationist has for evolution, not to mention the Discovery Institute, which is doing its best to foster the eradication of the teaching of evolution everywhere. Still, it sounds like a good book to read.

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  1. "Children have to understand evolution," he says, "but they don't have to believe it."

    Sorry, but what is this supposed to mean?

    If they need to understand evolution enough to "make sense of even everyday practicalities such as how human viruses work" then you have to at least believe it is true. Or is the argument that God created with an appearance of evolution, just like he created with an appearance that the universe is 14 GY old? To me this is saying to believe one thing in the lab and another thing at church. And this is not a characteristic of a truth seeker, and is not honoring to the Creator.

    Granted I have not read the book, but by your description, Meadow's position sounds dangerously lukewarm. For example, how can one explanation not be "better than the other" when one works and the other doesn't? I believe, this is a recipe for philosophical schizophrenia—an inherently unstable position that will satisfy few, particularly children.

    Thanks again for your masterful news digests. Your's is my favorite blog.

  2. Thank you, Kent. Those are kind words. This notion of "checking your brain in at the door" seems to be ignorance of the highest order. If one's faith cannot handle the explorations and explanations of the world around them, then it is no faith at all. I would never tell one of my students that they don't have to accept something that I teach if they don't want to. That is like telling an English class, "I am going to teach you about verbs, but you don't have to use them if you don't want to."

  3. Just stumbled across the discussion here. I'm honored that you're talking about my work.

    Feel free to find out more about what I'm trying to do at my blog: Use the "UNBelieving evolution" label to focus on the pertinent posts.

  4. Happy to do it, Lee. I put up another post about your blog. I hope I accurately described it.

  5. You did well, and I appreciate it. Thanks for your blog. I look forward very much to tapping into it.