Nothing too terribly exciting. This is for a dry run for a new news show for the Univ's cable network, it seems. So, this particular interview won't see the light of day really. It was however quite clear that these student reporters did not expect this perspective. They thought I would condemn evolution and be supportive of such a legislative measure. Boy. I suggested they might get a more predictable reaction at the Baptist Collegiate Ministry or maybe RUF or Cru or a similar group.
Anyway, I searched the website of the SC State Legislature, and the only thing I can find is S.909, a bill dated June 2005, introduced by Sen. Fair of Greenville that says the following:
A BILL TO AMEND THE CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, BY ADDING SECTION 59-5-160 SO AS TO PROVIDE THAT THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION SHALL IMPLEMENT POLICIES AND A CURRICULUM THAT PROVIDES A QUALITY SCIENCE EDUCATION THAT ADEQUATELY PREPARES STUDENTS TO DISTINGUISH DATA AND TESTABLE THEORIES OF SCIENCE FROM RELIGIOUS OR PHILOSOPHICAL CLAIMS THAT ARE MADE IN THE NAME OF SCIENCE.Well, this is not exactly what I was told was in the bill. As it is worded, actually, I have no problem with the bill, if interpreted strictly (i.e. narrowly). Of course, I don't think that this is the intent of the bill's framers. [The larger problem, is that philosophy as such is hardly taught in the public schools. It seems a little strange to bring in a philosophical discussion when dealing just with biology.] Maybe the reporters were right in interpreting this as an attempt to teach other "theories" of evolution (such as Intelligent Design or even creationism) in the classroom? Then there's this story that appeared in the State in December.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:
SECTION 1. Chapter 5, Title 59 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:
"Section 59-5-160. In the promulgation of policies and regulations regarding kindergarten through twelfth grade education, the State Board of Education shall implement policies and a curriculum that accomplish the General Assembly's desire to provide a quality science education that shall prepare students to distinguish the data and testable theories of science from religious or philosophical claims that are made in the name of science. Where topics are taught that may generate controversy, such as biological evolution, the curriculum should help students to understand the full range of scientific views that exist, why such topics may generate controversy, and how scientific discoveries can profoundly affect society."
SECTION 2. This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor.
Fair said Monday he is merely “trying to get students more engaged” in looking at the origins of life from different perspectives. He said he is not campaigning to put the teaching of “creationism” on par with evolution.All that said, I found the quotes from the professors a little hilarious at first, and way too defensive. "Science is not democracy?" What a bizarre statement! I guess he means that scientific fact is not established by a democratic majority -- a majority of people believing in a flat earth won't change the scientific reality. Ok. Fine. "Science is not negotiated?" Um. I guess not politically negotiated. But negotiated, certainly. That's what peer review and reproducibility of experiments is all about, I thought. Maybe I'm misunderstanding negotiated. Anyway, one can forgive the Clemson prof. He is at that other school, ya know ... :-) Of course I'm sympathetic to the scientific crowd in this case. To a point. Sometimes, I feel, the lady doth protest too much.
Monday’s vote enraged educators from the college and public school ranks in the audience.
“Science is not democracy,” said Jerry Waldvogel, a Clemson University professor.
“Science is not negotiated,” said Doug Florian, a College of Charleston professor.
“Science is based on evidence,” said Joe Pollard, a Furman University professor.
[And just in case the Vatican had not made its position clear enough, outspoken head of the Vatican Observatory, Fr. Coyne, repeated his earlier criticisms of creationism and Intelligent Design, at a talk in Palm Beach, FL, last week. He takes on Cardinal Schönborn's editorial from the NYT again, calling it tragic. I wonder if he's read the Cardinal's clarification that was published in a recent issue of First Things, that makes the very important claim that the use of reason is not confined simply to the scientific method, but also includes that realm of mental activity known as philosophy, whose evidence comes from the simple observation of life and reality around us.]