Many years ago it was stated categorically that “nothing in science makes sense except in the light of evolution.” This was Theodore Dobzhansky in 1973. This statement, the title of the article itself, represents several important concepts, two of which we address here. First it is not merely about science and evolution as stated on the surface. Rather it is about naturalism, the view that the physical world is all there is and all that matters when it comes to defining who we are and why we are here.
This is also a statement of orthodoxy. In it is the demand that scientific study of the natural world need proceed from one framework, and only from one framework. There is no room for alternative approaches as theistic representations are defined as inapplicable to scientific inquiry.
Since this was written in 1973 there have been many changes in both evolutionary theory and discussions of the mechanism of special creation. We should here note that 25 years before Dobzhansky penned this article Wilbur Smith noted in his apologetic work that we might do well to pass on the 6Ky age of the earth. Since the article there have come many who take similar positions, noting the need for a creator and at the same time dispensing with inadequate scientific theory. So in the light of his times he makes this statement:
Antievolutionists fail to understand how natural selection operates. They fancy that all existing species were generated by supernatural fiat a few thousand years ago, pretty much as we find them today. But what is the sense of having as many as 2 or 3 million species living on earth? If natural selection is the main factor that brings evolution about, any number of species is understandable: natural selection does not work according to a foreordained plan, and species are produced not because they are needed for some purpose but simply because there is an environmental opportunity and genetic wherewithal to make them possible. Was the Creator in a jocular mood when he made Psilopa petrolei for California oil fields and species of Drosophila to live exclusively on some body-parts of certain land crabs on only certain islands in the Caribbean? The organic diversity becomes, however, reasonable and understandable if the Creator has created the living world not by caprice but by evolution propelled by natural selection. It is wrong to hold creation and evolution as mutually exclusive alternatives. I am a creationist and an evolutionist. Evolution is God’s, or Nature’s method of creation. Creation is not an event that happened in 4004 BC; it is a process that began some 10 billion years ago and is still under way.
The problem with this is one of the fundamental issues with the Darwinian models. They cannot provide a suitable explanation as to how “natural selection” might actually accomplish anything. The core issue is a chicken-egg matter: Does selection and survival enhance genetics or do genetics enhance selection and survival? Without going into great detail here, we can leave with the principles that behavior does not create genes and there are not and have not been enough mutations happening to advance any living being to another level. Mutations are harmful; only accumulated, directional feature-related changes can accomplish this.
The attempt to answer these and other questions has taken Darwinism through its three stages, as noted in the previous post, Darwinsim, neo-Darwinsin, and for lack of a better term, directed evolution. The model structure is fluid because of its incapacity to deal with these questions so new models are regularly contrived in an attempt to circumvent these issues.
At this point we have noted one of the inadequacies of Darwinian evolution. There are many more model errors to discuss, but going further is not our goal. We are here to look at Common Core and see what it is about, at least with respect to science standards. The document, HSscienceMCAugust-2013.pdf, may be found at http://education.ohio.gov/Topics/Academic-Content-Standards/Science.
The Biology section sets about to accomplish its goals in this way:
This course investigates the composition, diversity, complexity and interconnectedness of life on Earth. Fundamental concepts of heredity and evolution provide a framework through inquiry-based instruction to explore the living world, the physical environment and the interactions within and between them.
The approach to doing science is to be accomplished by this method:
Science Inquiry and Application
During the years of grades 9 through 12, all students must use the following scientific processes with appropriate laboratory safety techniques to construct their knowledge and understanding in all science content areas:
• Identify questions and concepts that guide scientific investigations;
• Design and conduct scientific investigations;
• Use technology and mathematics to improve investigations and communications;
• Formulate and revise explanations and models using logic and evidence (critical thinking);
• Recognize and analyze explanations and models; and
• Communicate and support a scientific argument.
The definition of evolution employed is:
Modern ideas about evolution provide a natural explanation for the diversity of life on Earth as represented in the fossil record, in the similarities of existing species and in modern molecular evidence. From a long-term perspective, evolution is the descent with modification of different lineages from common ancestors.
This statement expresses some of the desired outcomes
Expectations for Learning: Cognitive Demands
This section provides definitions for Ohio’s science cognitive demands, which are intrinsically related to current understandings and research about how people learn. They provide a structure for teachers and assessment developers to reflect on plans for teaching science, to monitor observable evidence of student learning and to develop summative assessment of student learning of science.
On the positive side one could say that a consistent curriculum provides a clear and consistent learning path to be shared among the various institutions. That is a good goal and few will argue with such a proposition. Others have raised “dumbing down” criticisms of Common Core, and these have value. Also of note was the political propaganda content identified in some of the language instruction. These are real and serious issues. The issue that I raise here is the demand for a certain orthodoxy. When one reads the Biology section it quickly becomes apparent that this is a course in evolutionary theory and not a course in biology. It appears not just that biology makes no sense apart from evolution but also that biology and evolutionary theory have become interchangeable entities.
The theoretical scientific method presented here goes past the traditional scientific method. In the past the method was one of empirical experimentation. This new method includes an understanding of models. Models however come with a certain level of abstraction which might be difficult to communicate at the secondary level.
Model theories are often accompanied by a distinct lack of empirical support. Evolution, for example, is first an explanatory model of history. History is not repeatable and testable. The processes may be replicated, but even that assumes that the process being employed is actually the same as happened in the past, and that it operates under all of the same constraints as it did in times past. The level of assumption employed to teach evolutionary models as though they might be presented as the only inescapable conclusion of “science” is at best ignorant and at worst deceptive.
Our students deserve a more intelligent approach to science.