NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2010/12/17
(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)
Dear Friends of NCSE, A philosophy journal devotes a special issue to the creationism/evolution controversy. Creationism appears to be at the center of a new employment discrimination lawsuit. And selected content from RNCSE 30:4 is now available on NCSE's website, as is a free preview of Lee Meadows's The Missing Link.
"EVOLUTION AND ITS RIVALS" "Evolution and its rivals" -- a special issue of the philosophy journal Synthese focused on the creationism/evolution controversy -- was just published. Coedited by Glenn Branch, NCSE's deputy director, and James H. Fetzer, professor emeritus of philosophy at the University of Minnesota, Duluth, the issue (volume 178, number 2) contains Glenn Branch's introduction; Robert T. Pennock's "Can't philosophers tell the difference between science and religion?: Demarcation revisited"; John S. Wilkins's "Are creationists rational?"; Kelly C. Smith's "Foiling the Black Knight"; Wesley Elsberry and Jeffrey Shallit's "Information theory, evolutionary computation, and Dembski’s 'complex specified information'"; Bruce H. Weber's "Design and its discontents"; Sahotra Sarkar's "The science question in intelligent design"; Niall Shanks and Keith Green's "Intelligent design in theological perspective"; Barbara Forrest's "The non-epistemology of intelligent design: Its implications for public policy"; and James H. Fetzer's "Evolution and atheism: Has Griffin reconciled science and religion?" Fortuitously, as part of a special promotion on the part of the journal's publisher, access to Synthese is free until December 31, 2010. For the table of contents, visit: http://www.springerlink.com/content/0039-7857/178/2/ CREATIONISM AT ISSUE IN EMPLOYMENT DISPUTE? "No one denies that astronomer Martin Gaskell was the leading candidate for the founding director of a new observatory at the University of Kentucky in 2007 -- until his writings on evolution came to light," reports the Louisville Courier-Journal (December 10, 2010). "Gaskell had given lectures to campus religious groups around the country in which he said that while he has no problem reconciling the Bible with the theory of evolution, he believes the theory has major flaws. And he recommended students read ... critics [of evolution] in the intelligent-design movement." As a result, Gaskell was not appointed to the position, and subsequently filed suit against the university in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky on July 10, 2009, alleging that he was not appointed "because of his religious beliefs and his expression of these beliefs" in violation of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1991. According to the Courier-Journal, the university "acknowledged that concerns over Gaskell's views on evolution played a role in the decision to chose another candidate. But it argued that this was a valid scientific concern" -- particularly with regard to the prospect that Gaskell's views on evolution would interfere with his ability to serve effectively as director of the observatory -- "and that there were other factors, including a poor review from a previous supervisor and UK faculty views that he was a poor listener." On November 23, 2010, the court denied the defendant's and the plaintiff's separate requests for summary judgment, noting, "The parties greatly debate exactly what Gaskell personally believes regarding the theory of evolution and the Bible." A jury trial is expected to commence in Lexington, Kentucky, on February 8, 2011. Documents from the case, C. Martin Gaskell v. University of Kentucky, are available on NCSE's website. For the story in the Louisville Courier-Journal, visit: http://www.courier-journal.com/article/20101210/NEWS01/312110011/Job+candidate+sues+UK++claiming+religion+cost+him+the+post For NCSE's collection of documents from the case, visit: http://ncse.com/creationism/legal/c-martin-gaskell-v-university-kentucky CATCHING UP WITH RNCSE Selected content from volume 30, number 4, of Reports of the National Center for Science Education is now available on NCSE's website. Featured is Phil Senter's "Vestigial Structures Exist Even Within the Creationist Paradigm" as well as the text of two talks delivered by NCSE's Eugenie C. Scott at the University of Missouri, Columbia. Plus reviews of Peter Wellnhofer's Archaeopteryx, Martin Brasier's Darwin's Lost World, and Andrew Parker's The Genesis Enigma. If you like what you see, why not subscribe to RNCSE today? The upcoming issue (volume 30, number 6) features NCSE's Glenn Branch's description of the latest "intelligent design" journal, Michael D. Barton's account of his investigation of a misused quote from a supporter of evolution, and -- from his regular "People & Places" column -- Randy Moore's report from the creationist Glendive Dinosaur & Fossil Museum. Plus there's the usual batch of news, reviews, and commentary. Don't miss out -- subscribe (or renew) today! For the selected content from RNCSE 30:4, visit: http://ncse.com/rncse/30/4 For subscription information, visit: http://ncse.com/membership A GLIMPSE OF THE MISSING LINK NCSE is pleased to offer a free preview of Lee Meadows's The Missing Link: An Inquiry Approach for Teaching All Students About Evolution (Heinemann, 2009). The excerpt, from a chapter entitled "Deepening Students' Understanding and Addressing Objections," offers ideas about how K-12 teachers can create lessons to address student misconceptions about various aspects of evolution. Meadows urges, "Again and again, say to the students, 'I'm not asking you to accept some specific aspect of evolution, but I do want you to understand the evidence for evolution and how scientists explain the evidence.' By blatantly stating your expectation about understanding, but not necessarily accepting, you're reiterating to your students that you affirm their beliefs, but you're also helping them build the scientific understanding that they'll need for life in public society. Constantly reminding students of your approach is especially critical as you focus on the objections that many of them raise." Recommending the book, NCSE's executive director Eugenie C. Scott wrote, "Especially for those teachers who are apprehensive about teaching evolution, Meadows provides not only encouragement, but a clear how-to that will guide them and their more experienced colleagues towards teaching with integrity the 'controversial subject' of evolution." For the excerpt from The Missing Link (PDF), visit: http://ncse.com/files/pub/evolution/Excerpt--MissingLink.pdf For information about the book, visit: http://www.heinemann.com/products/E01749.aspx Thanks for reading! And don't forget to visit NCSE's website -- http://ncse.com -- where you can always find the latest news on evolution education and threats to it. -- With best wishes for the holiday season, Glenn Branch Deputy Director National Center for Science Education, Inc. 420 40th Street, Suite 2 Oakland, CA 94609-2509 510-601-7203 x310 fax: 510-601-7204 800-290-6006 firstname.lastname@example.org http://ncse.com Subscribe to NCSE's free weekly e-newsletter: http://groups.google.com/group/ncse-news NCSE is on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter: http://www.facebook.com/evolution.ncse http://www.youtube.com/NatCen4ScienceEd http://twitter.com/ncse NCSE's work is supported by its members. Join today! http://ncse.com/membership