Re: "Facts" and Facts

Elaine Hills (ehills@SOLEIL.ACOMP.USF.EDU)
Thu, 7 Dec 1995 17:25:08 -0500

Susan and All,

I find it interesting that Susan says she has had student's hide their
beliefs from her. In all of my anthropology courses, in the first day going
over the syllabus, the prof has ALWAYS said that evolution will be
studied in the course and taken as the scientific theory and that all
other beliefs are to be put aside for the course study. That's basically
saying that offense is not to be taken by presenting evolution in such
detail, and if you can't put your other beliefs to the side that maybe
the course isn't for you. I wonder Susan, do you do such a ritual from
the get-go, or is this something that is presented during the course?

Just some thoughts...


On Thu, 7 Dec 1995, Susan Love Brown wrote:

> I find all of this talk about evolution and creationism fascinating.
> Since teaching full time in Florida I have become aware that many
> students find it necessary to "hide" their belief in creationism,
> because they think it is going to interfere with their grades.
> Sometimes students reveal their real positions after discovering that
> they have done well in the course. This always shocks me, because I
> never think of myself as that intimidating.
> In general anthropology (which always begins with the biological), I try to explain the
> difference between science and belief, stressing that because
> something is "scientific" or a "theory" doesn't mean that it is the
> final word. I try to show students how complicated is the process of
> developing theory based on fossil evidence, etc. However, I also make
> the point that as an anthropologist I cannot "privilege" one creation
> story over another. But I make sure to include the Judeo-Christian
> origin story along with samples from other cultures, hoping that
> students will understand that their belief is one out of many. But
> who knows if this is really working? I also make it a point to say
> that students are not required to believe anything I say, but they are
> required to know the course content, which entails knowing what
> evolution is and all of the details about it.
> Fortunately, I have never been asked to debate the topic of evolution.
> In any case, I would leave it to the experts in the biological field.
> But I can't help but support Bob Graber's position that it is
> probably a pointless exercise, unless, of course, you are the only
> speaker in the program.
> Susan Love Brown
> --------------------------------
> Susan Love Brown, Ph.D.
> Department of Anthropology
> Florida Atlantic University
> Boca Raton, Florida 33431-0991
> (407)367-3230; fax (407)367-2744