Florida: Palm Beach Post Article on Evolution and Intelligent Design

This Palm Beach Post article has some bits where I was able to put an oar in the water.

A misconception created by those on the opposite ends of the evolution argument is that a belief in God and an acceptance of evolution are mutually exclusive, said Wesley Elsberry, a marine biologist and Michigan State University researcher studying the evolution of intelligent behavior. Evolution only explains how species have changed over time, not where they initially came from.

“Both sides aren’t satisfied with the idea that there are a substantial number of Christians who can also accept evolution,” said Elsberry, a Lakeland native who also is a consultant for Florida Citizens for Science, a group of parents and educators who support evolution and has members on the committee that drafted the standards.

Intelligent design has not gone through the rigorous testing and scientific criticism to warrant time in science classrooms, he said.

“This is not something that is accountable,” Elsberry said. “Our students, in their limited time in a science class, they need to receive the information that has received scrutiny through the scientific process.”

Either I wasn’t clear or something got garbled. Evolutionary science does discuss where species come from; there’s quite a lot of research on speciation processes. However, there is a distinction to be made concerning abiogenesis, which concerns how life arose.

Beyond quibbles about accuracy of phone interviews, though, the article demonstrates that Florida does have quite a challenge ahead in not only adopting better science standards, but also in implementing them in the science curricula. It’s pretty frightening that so many people in positions of authority over public schools evince such firm opposition to teaching evolutionary science, and such credulous acceptance of “intelligent design” creationism.

Wesley R. Elsberry

Falconer. Interdisciplinary researcher: biology and computer science. Data scientist in real estate and econometrics. Blogger. Speaker. Photographer. Husband. Christian. Activist.

4 thoughts on “Florida: Palm Beach Post Article on Evolution and Intelligent Design

  • 2007/12/31 at 12:50 pm

    Can we at least keep comments topical? This thread is about Florida. I was briefly confused by a comment that was directed at Texas, until I checked the post that the comment was supposedly directed at, and essentially the comment was a longish non sequitur.

  • 2007/12/31 at 2:22 pm

    “Both sides aren’t satisfied with the idea that there are a substantial number of Christians who can also accept evolution,” said Elsberry,


    Not sure what you mean by this Wes. It seems to me evident that there are many Christians on both sides of this (cultural, not scientific) debate.

  • 2007/12/31 at 3:20 pm

    Well, it made sense to me because in my conversation with the reporter, the “sides” were specified as essentially the evangelical antievolutionists and the evangelical atheists. Both of those groups think the conflict model is peachy, the antievolutionists because they think more people will choose religion of their sort if told they can only have one of religion or science, and the evangelical atheists because they think more people will choose science instead of religion. Without that background, it is a bit confusing.

  • 2008/01/01 at 6:17 am

    Ah yes, I see it now. Yeah, that similarity has struck me as well. Both the most radical elements on the opposing side would frame (sorry to have to use that word) the issue as science or religion, as opposed to science and religion, both sides confident that if the choice was forced, their side would win. For myself, I simply cannot see how the evangelical atheist side could be correct in this. People aren’t going to give up their faith because of a science they don’t understand and have little wish to understand. You see very few citzens at school board meetings arging for that position. What you see are citizens arguing that evolution erodes faith, or that evolution is compatible with faith.

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