AlbuquerqueJournal, Thursday, September 4, 2003
As the dust settles on the "controversy" over the state science standards, we should reflect on what they mean for New Mexican students.
One newspaper headline proclaimed "Evolution Science Staying in Public Schools"as if this were ever in question. Evolution is the mainstream scientific consensus view for life on earth. To preserve the integrity of science, mainstream scientific theories, such as evolution, should be taught. However, scientific theories must be presented as science, not ideology; this is the real victory for students.
The subject of origins brings up fundamental questions: who we are, what we are, the origin and meaning of life, how the entire universe came into being. These subjects unavoidably have ideological and metaphysical implications, and are especially contentious when taught in the public schools.
We believe, however, that there is common ground to be found among all in protecting the integrity of science. No student should feel that he or she is being taught a religion or ideology in the name of science. The only way to preserve the integrity of science is to teach the facts that support the currently dominant paradigm as well as those that challenge it.
There must be an opportunity to analyze the data critically from an open philosophical view. This is an area where it is necessary to present the evidence and the arguments for and against, and let the students decide for themselves what to believe.
A great strength of the new standards is that they explicitly recognize these issues, and require their presentation and discussion. Intelligent Design members were involved in the process of formulating the new state science standards from the outset.
Our goal from the beginning has been to keep all ideology and dogma out. With this in mind, we felt that the original draft had shortcomings in the area of biological origins. We brought these to the attention of those working on the standards at the state Department of Education.
Because of their cooperation, strong leadership and willingness to listen to diverse viewpoints, enormous improvements were made. The final draft is a huge step toward teaching science as objectively as possible.
Evolution will be taught as the mainstream consensus view that it is, but these standards also will allow healthy discussion and critical examination of its claims. These standards will serve all of New Mexico's children well.
We are proud to have been part of this effort and proud of the fact that New Mexicowill now have among the best science standards in the nation.
This is a great victory for excellence in science education, for the integrity of science and for objectivity in the teaching of biological origins. Most important, this is a great victory for all New Mexico students, regardless of their faith or background.
Rebecca Keller holds a doctorate in chemistry. Michael Kent holds a doctorate in chemical engineering.
File Date: 11.24.03