Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Helena Update Interesting editorial from the Helena Independent Record. This is a follow-up to the book banning controversy I reported on in my February 26, entry. Here's the money quote:

This strategy hinges on the use of the word "theory." Like many words, its meaning varies depending on usage and context. For example, we might say that we have a theory about why a person committed a crime. The meaning of the word in this context is that the theory is an idea or set of ideas which are not proven or even provable. On the other hand the word "theory" in the scientific context means a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world; an organized system of accepted knowledge that applies in a variety of circumstances to explain a specific set of phenomena. Probability theory and Einstein's theory of relativity, are examples of the word being used in this way. Evolution theory fits in the second category. It is not simply conjecture about how certain events have occurred. It is supported by facts and a documented record. Yet those who want to see the biblical creation story taught as science play on the term "theory of evolution." They insist that evolution is nothing more than speculation.

As a community we must be very cautious about bending science to fit some people's religious perspectives. Religion belongs in our classrooms; it should be taught in philosophy, history, and a host of other disciplines. But it should not be used to undermine the science curriculum.

Amen to that.


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