Evolution Theory

Im in 10th grade and the other day we went into evolution. My teacher also told us that there is more than one theory but its against the law for her to teach other ones, she can only teach Darwins Theory. Why cant she teach the other theorys? arnt we supose to learn at school and not just get one view on things?:confused: :smack:


For evolution, there is only one theory, which is the theory of common decent with modifications, based on Darwin’s original theory.

The other one, acquired charateristics first proposed by Lemarck, is now deemed refuted.

Your teacher lied. There are no other theories. A scientific theory is an explanation for observed facts. Those who do not accept evolution because it contradicts their religious beliefs do not rely on facts – they suppose that certain things are true, and try to explain how the facts can possibly be true; they will even reject the facts, rather than their beliefs. This is not science, and it does not produce theories. It’s religion, and it produces more religion.

Possibly the 'other theory" your teacher was talking about is so-calle Creation Science, which really isn’t science at all. It’s based on the Bible’s assertion that God created all the plants and animals, literally from nothing. I don’t know if it’s actually illegal to teach this in any state, but given the possibility that teaching sucha thing may viloate separation of church and state, it’s possible.

Well, I think there are at least two theories of evolution: punctuated equilibrium and gradualism, with the former being a relatively recent refinement.

But somehow I don’t think that’s what your teacher meant. . . .

I can tell you how it is in Physics. Since Biology is a science, it’s probably pretty similar. Very often, there’s one really good (if not perfect) theory, and lots of really bad ones. You can usually tell the difference because the good ones show up in scientific journals and textbooks, and the bad ones show up exclusively in tabloid magazines, paid advertisements, self-published books, websites which do not end in .edu, and scientists’ mailboxes. If you’re polite you call the practitioners of the latter “misguided amateurs with a whimsical sense of imagination”. If not, you call them “crackpots”.

I didn’t know there was a law against teaching “crackpot” theories, but if so, it’s probably for the better. It would save a lot of students’ time.

Not quite. Or, should I say, not at all. PuncEq is not in opposition to gradualism per se, it is a theory about how speciation occurs. Darwin advocated speciation through the slow transformation of a lineage by natural selection, with the splitting of lineages serving only to increase diversity. PuncEq instead theorizes that speciation occurs as a direct result of splitting a lineage, and that lineages will then proceed along Darwin’s “gradual changes” path. Often, such changes will be very slight, and occur very slowly, lending the appearance of stasis in the fossil record, punctuated by brief periods of large-scale change. PuncEq still incorporates gradual change in its explanation.

As for there being “only one theory” in general, evolutionary theory as a whole is composed of multiple theories, each taking precedence in certain situations. Natural selection is not, and was never advertised to be, even by Darwin, the only game in town. It is simply the most statistically prevalent mechanism.

As for the “other theories” of the OP, it is most likely as Q.E.D. stated. It is not against the law to teach Lamarckism or other failed theories. Even so, as noted, Creation Science is not an “alternate theory” to evolution, it is religious proselytizing.

See also two other good threads discussing evolution here and here.

I didn’t think it was AGAINST THE LAW to teach other ideas. It may be unscientific, weird or just plain wrong but against the law seems a bit of a stretch. I suspect this aspect is someones misunderstanding of your school or state policies.

Of course I could be wrong, if someone wants to correct me and provide a citation that teaching other ideas is against the law, be my guest.

I think this may be a bit of a reach – sort of like arguing that since essentially all major religions have prohibitions against murder, anti-murder laws violate separation of church and state.

Anyone teaching Creationism in a biology class is teaching religion, not science. That would be a violation of the law.

To teach evolution as theorized by Lamarck or Lysenko would be irresponsible, since both of those atempts at an explanation have been disproven, but it would not be against the law.

To teach evolution with a spin of Intelligent Design, would be irresponsible–since the science is wrong–but it is not necessarily against the law, as ID pretends that the intelligent agent does not have to be God. (Of course, when pushed into a corner, 99.999% of all ID supporters turn out to be Creationists, but the language (inadequately) supporting Intelligent Design does not currently include the direct appeal to a divine creator.)

Well there are a few examples of Lamarckian inheritance. IIRC resistance to a particular class of herbicide in some plants, tooth patterns on some barnacles, and some DNA methylation patterns provide examples of the inheritance of aquired traits. Still, that’s not enough to make it worth teaching in high school.

Which law?

I’m no believer in Creationism, but I’m skeptical of the extent to whixh law requires that it not be mentioned in school.

I have a feeling the teacher was talking about creationism, which, as has been pointed out, is not a theory by the scientific definition. If your really curious, though, why not just ask her. Find a private moment after class and ask what she meant. I don’t think it would be illegal for to tell you the name of the theory as long as she doesn’t present it as fact.

You better provide a cite, buddy. AFAIK, there is no such thing as Lamarckian inheritance, and if you’re going to claim otherwise, you need to back up those claims.

It’s called the first amendment, specifically the establishment clause. A public school, acting under the auspices of the state, cannot endorse one religious view over another. Since creationism is theistic in nature, and is specifically derived from the Genesis story of creation, it would be illegal to present it as fact. Creationism is a faith based view, not a scientific one.

The Genesis story is not the only creation myth, btw, there are hundreds of others. If we allowed a presentation of the Genesis story we would also have to present Hindu, American Indian, Hmong, African tribal myths and any number of others to really be fair.

The U.S. constitution.

(I have been presuming a public school, which is a government agent. Private schools may teach whatever silliness they choose, of course.)

And if a public school mentions laws against murder, which are almost certainly related to religious tenets (and thus “theistic in nature”), are they equally “illegal?”

But, more to the point, what law is a teacher charged with if he/she mentions Creationism? The first amendment is not a law, but an amendment to the US Constitution, which purports to control what the US Government and State governments can do, and not the actions of individuals. When was the last time an individual was chared with a violation of the first amendment?

(I find myself in a strange position here, seeming to defend Creationism, in which I do not believe. I think what I’m really defending is the right to express certain beliefs.)

And in your view the US Constitution is a “law,” governing the actions of individuals?