inafoxhole (inafoxhole) wrote,

anthropology class

I'm taking a physical anthropology class this summer. I suppose it's fortunate it's all online. While there are anthropology majors and evolution minors in the course, it's also a general ed requirement, and thus, there will likely be some uneducated creationists in the class. (so, as an alternate to Week 1 reading, he's letting people read Ray Comfort's atrocity on Darwin that came out recently, and to balance it, a book on replies to "creationist nonsense".) I know my weaknesses, and know listening to that drivel would be very hard in person, but this is an online class. So, it will still be hard, but hopefully easier to walk away from and let the "debate" devolve into ad hominem attacks.

The prof already posted this statement (as sad as it is that it's necessary):

I want to be clear and upfront about something, before it becomes an issue. This is a science class. It counts for a Natural Science GEC course, and so science is what we will be talking about. This will become very important as we talk about evolution and human origins. While there are some specifics within evolutionary theory and theories of human origins that are debated, the Theory of Evolution is not. Evolution is generally accepted within the scientific community. More importantly, statements such as "I don't believe in evolution" are not appropriate here. This is not to demean anyone's beliefs, as I myself am a religious person. The reason this is not appropriate here is because this is a science class, and science has nothing to do with belief. It has to do with evidence. And as things stand right now, the evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of evolution.

For those of you who wish to explore this issue, one of the two options for readings in the first week will be an excerpt from the Special Introduction to the 150th Anniversary Edition of The Origin of Species, in which Ray Comfort, an evangelical minister, points out what he and other creationists and intelligent design proponents see as "falacies" and "problems" within the theory of evolution. This reading will be paired with John Rennie's 15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense, written 7 years earlier. While I apologize for the title, the important part of the article is that it takes the 15 most commonly posed questions or oppositional statements against evolution and explains why they are wrong.

Please keep in mind that I am not attacking anyone's faith. Faith, or belief in a god, supernatural being, or the doctrines of a religion, is by definition, not based on evidence. This way of thinking, or knowing, has no place in a science class because, science is, by definition, based on evidence.

The unfortunate thing about this statement, other than the need to make it in a science class, is that the prof has to defend himself with "I'm religious, too. See, it's okay. You can do both." I know many people do believe in both, as illogical as that seems to me, but one of the things this does is sets up a conflict for the teachers who ARE non-believers. What special defense can they/we use? It makes it look like being religious makes him trustable, and reinforces the stereotype that non-believers are not. The prof's religious beliefs, for or against, have no place in the classroom. He's saying leave religion out of it, but advertising his beliefs in the same breath. Students have to get used to the idea that their prof's beliefs don't matter, not that they do.
Tags: anthropology, belief, creationism, darwin, evolution, john rennie, ray comfort, science, students, teachers

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