Course 2: Evolution, Creationism and the Nature of Science

The Twin Dangers of Religious and Scientific Fundamentalism

Throughout the 20th century there has been an ongoing battle for the minds of Americans. This battle, which doesn’t seem to be nearing an end at the dawn of the 21st century, sees the opposition of mostly Christian religious fundamentalism versus modern evolutionary biology. More in general, the problem is the result of complex social and psychological phenomena, ranging from the excesses of scientism to the many forms of anti-intellectualism. This module aims at the following goals:

  • to investigate the roots of the conflict;

  • to enumerate egregious mistakes and logical fallacies being committed by both sides; and

  • to explore how scientists and educators should approach the problem, especially by taking advantage of the most recent findings concerning the neurobiology of learning.

I see four roots of the problem presented by the evolution – creation “controversy.” First, the fact that American society is plagued by a variety of forms of anti-intellectualism. Second, the tendency of some scientists to slide into the ideology of scientism when talking to the public. Third, the poor job we are doing at science education. And fourth, the fact that we haven’t yet taken advantage of novel insights into how the brain works in our teaching and educating.

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