"Facts" and Facts

Fri, 8 Dec 1995 10:03:20 CST

I agree entirely with Susan Love Brown's comments on teaching evolution:
what we look for is evidence that students understand it, not that they
"buy" it. For grading purposes, evidence of understanding is
sufficient; from a higher perspective, we hope they will indeed accept
evolution, as part of a general "enlightenment" through higher
education. I go out of my way, in lecturing, to stress that
evolutionary theory does not *deny* God; rather it merely *fails to
require* God; and in this "failure" it is like any other scientific
theory, because scientific theories are not allowed to depend on
supernatural beings or forces. Though I am a bit ambivalent about so
far accommodating students' religious presumptions, I have been pleased
with the results: many students tell me that they came into the course
assuming the Biblical account was literally true, but now reconcile
believing in evolution with their faith. On a related subject: I hope I
was not misunderstood to disapprove of the NCSE and Genie Scott's
indefatigable efforts. Far from it! Indeed, the existence of this
organization seems to me to allow universities a bit of seemly
distance from the "trench warfare" with creationism in the public at
large. Meantime, efforts by individuals such as Greg Laden show that ac
ademics perhaps can enter the trenches effectively if they choose their
battles carefully. --Bob Graber