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What is science?

Issue: "An evolving debate," May 21, 2005

One of the questions Kansas officials face concerns the definition of science. Darwinists want the state's education standards to describe science as "the human activity of seeking natural explanations for what we observe around us."

A two-part controversy centers on the term "natural explanations." Many scientists say science must interpret everything naturalistically, and any discussion of supernatural reasons for "what we observe around us" belongs in philosophy and religion classes or discussion groups, not in biology classes and scientific laboratories. But that gag rule could force scientists to accept explanations that might not be true, and not allow them even to consider scientific evidence for design in natural phenomena.

"There is, in fact, a controversy over whether the design in nature is only an appearance or is in fact real," said Angus Menuge, a philosophy professor at Concordia University-Wisconsin. If a science teacher allows only "the presentation of evidence that favors the idea that design is an illusion, he is failing to properly inform the student of both sides of a controversial issue."

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Darwinists, the critics said, are in effect trying to encode into the scientific method the religious belief that nature is all that exists. The result is "methodological naturalism" that, when promoted in public schools, has government favoring naturalistic religions over theistic and non-naturalistic religions. The second part of the controversy thus involves religious rights: Is the presentation only of Darwinian belief the type of "establishment of religion" that the First Amendment precludes?

Timothy Lamer
Timothy Lamer

Tim is managing editor of WORLD magazine.

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