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Author Topic:   Help in teaching 11-12 Year olds (RE (Religious Education) in the UK)
JJtheJester
Junior Member (Idle past 2863 days)
Posts: 7
Joined: 10-19-2009


Message 1 of 126 (531741)
10-19-2009 3:32 PM


Greetings,

I am a RE (Religious Education) teacher in the UK, I am covering the issue of origins to my year 7 class (11-12 years old).

I would like to make a list of the *three* strongest arguments from a evolutionist and the same for a creationist as to why each thinks his/her point of view is correct about how life forms came into being and are the variety we see now.

Please note that each of the three points needs to be simple to understand and expressed in just a couple of sentences. I will give further explanation during class time if I think it is needed.

Thank in anticipation for any help you can give, it is appreciated.

JJ

Edited by Adminnemooseus, : Added the "(RE (Religious Education) in the UK)" part to the topic title.


Replies to this message:
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 Message 5 by bluegenes, posted 10-20-2009 2:53 AM JJtheJester has responded
 Message 6 by Blzebub, posted 10-20-2009 3:47 AM JJtheJester has not yet responded
 Message 7 by Parasomnium, posted 10-20-2009 4:23 AM JJtheJester has responded
 Message 8 by Modulous, posted 10-20-2009 4:40 AM JJtheJester has responded
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 Message 20 by Dr Jack, posted 10-20-2009 12:51 PM JJtheJester has responded
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Adminnemooseus
Director
Posts: 3830
Joined: 09-26-2002


Message 2 of 126 (531789)
10-19-2009 11:25 PM


Thread Copied from Proposed New Topics Forum
Thread copied here from the Thread Name Not Available thread in the Proposed New Topics forum.
  
Izanagi
Member (Idle past 2807 days)
Posts: 263
Joined: 09-15-2009


Message 3 of 126 (531793)
10-20-2009 12:06 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by JJtheJester
10-19-2009 3:32 PM


I would like to make a list of the *three* strongest arguments from a evolutionist and the same for a creationist as to why each thinks his/her point of view is correct about how life forms came into being and are the variety we see now.

I'm sure others will be along to say more, but for my part I would like to point out that the Theory of Evolution is not concerned with the origin of life; the Theory of Evolution only concerns itself with life that exists or had existed to explain the differences and similarities we see between species. The part of history that Evolution deals with is everything from now back to the first lifeforms but prior to that, evolution does not deal with because evolution is not a theory about how life came into being.

So you can believe that God or the Universe or the IPU created the first lifeforms and accept that life since then has evolved because, once again, evolution is not a theory about how life got started, but a theory to explain the variations of life that exist and had existed.

Also, why is this being taught in religious education? I don't remember evolution ever being a religion. If it is, then I should start a church and apply for tax-free status! All these years I was paying taxes like a schmuck when I could have started a church of evolution and not pay any taxes at all.

So explain to me, please, how evolution is a religion. If the IRS accepts your rationale, I'll have to thank you one day.

Edited by Izanagi, : No reason given.

Edited by Izanagi, : No reason given.


It's just some things you never get over. That's just the way it is. You go on through... best as you can. - Matthew Scott
----------------------------------------
Marge, just about everything is a sin. (holds up a Bible) Y'ever sat down and read this thing? Technically we're not supposed to go to the bathroom. - Reverend Lovejoy
----------------------------------------
You know, I used to think it was awful that life was so unfair. Then I thought, wouldn't it be much worse if life were fair, and all the terrible things that happen to us come because we actually deserve them? So, now I take great comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the universe. - Marcus Cole
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Phage0070
Inactive Member


Message 4 of 126 (531795)
10-20-2009 12:17 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by JJtheJester
10-19-2009 3:32 PM


The theory of evolution is really made up of two key concepts, decent with modification (1) and the theory of natural selection (2). Now for the simple arguments in its favor:

1) We have observed it happening in the small scale with selective breeding. For instance, some cows are born with the trait of producing more milk than others. We select those cows and breed them rather than those that don't produce as much milk. After a few generations the average amount of milk produced by the cow population has increased. The only difference is that the selection of the cows is not done through natural methods, but it is easy to see how certain traits would make it more or less likely for an organism to reproduce.

2) We have a long fossil record of relatively gradual modification from a common ancestor for all known life. This is more obvious for more closely related animals (human and monkey, horse and cow).

3) The theory of evolution is the core organizing principle behind modern biological theory and study. The fact that they have a biology textbook in front of them and not a Bible is a potent argument in and of itself.


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bluegenes
Member (Idle past 67 days)
Posts: 3119
From: U.K.
Joined: 01-24-2007


Message 5 of 126 (531804)
10-20-2009 2:53 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by JJtheJester
10-19-2009 3:32 PM


JJtheJester writes:

I would like to make a list of the *three* strongest arguments from a evolutionist and the same for a creationist as to why each thinks his/her point of view is correct about how life forms came into being and are the variety we see now.

I'll try to keep the language easy for the age group, but you can translate for them.

1) Whenever we find a proven or well evidenced cause for natural things, it is natural. So "natural causes" is always an infinitely more likely explanation for anything than any proposed alternative.

2) In our experience, chemical reactions make chemical phenomena (things), and life is a chemical phenomenon (thing).

3) The mechanisms (workings?) of the theory of evolution can be observed in action, and the theory of evolution fits the known evidence far too closely to be explained by coincidence (or thousands of coincidences).

Note: You asked for brevity, and for the strongest arguments, so all we can offer is the strongest brief arguments. The strongest arguments for the side with the evidence aren't really brief, because the more evidence listed, the stronger they get.

While you're at it, tell the kids that each of their cells contain scar patterns of ancestral viral attacks on their genes that match those in other simians so well that our descent from a common ancestral species with all monkeys and apes can be considered as much of an historical fact as the fact that the Normans invaded England in 1066.

I'm not exaggerating, but that last one doesn't really fit the way you phrased your request (how life came into being, and the variety).

As you're teaching RE, it's worth mentioning that there is nothing in the idea of the naturalistic origins of life and its variety that would exclude the idea of a god/creator of a universe in which such processes take place. That's another question.

You will be discussing all forms of creationism equally, and without cultural bias, I hope. It wouldn't be a good idea if the kids got the impression that any one of the below had more evidence to support it than the others. All zeros are equal.

http://www.magictails.com/creationlinks.html


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Blzebub 
Suspended Member (Idle past 2831 days)
Posts: 129
Joined: 10-10-2009


Message 6 of 126 (531810)
10-20-2009 3:47 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by JJtheJester
10-19-2009 3:32 PM


Simply show them the course of the recurrent laryngeal nerve in mammals. Pick the giraffe, for an extreme example. This, on its own, rules out any notion whatsoever of an intelligent designer.
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Parasomnium
Member (Idle past 286 days)
Posts: 2191
Joined: 07-15-2003


Message 7 of 126 (531813)
10-20-2009 4:23 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by JJtheJester
10-19-2009 3:32 PM


Do not mix science and religion
Hello JJ, and welcome to the forum.

I'm afraid that, speaking for myself, I have to refuse your request, for the following reasons.

Evolution is a scientific subject, and therefore does not belong in a class called "Religious Education", just as Biblical exegesis does not belong in a science class. In my view, if you want to give them a proper lesson in religious education, you should show your pupils the contrasting views among different religions per se, and stimulate them to think about the fact that such disparate religious views exist at all.

I think that to concentrate on the supposed contrast between one religious viewpoint and a scientific concept is to misinform your students and to reduce your lesson to the oxymoronic level (no offence intended) that the term "Religious Education" suggests in the first place.


"Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science." - Charles Darwin.
This message is a reply to:
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Modulous
Member
Posts: 7508
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005
Member Rating: 1.8


Message 8 of 126 (531815)
10-20-2009 4:40 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by JJtheJester
10-19-2009 3:32 PM


Might I suggest you leave explaining evolution to the biology department? If you want to introduce it into year 7 RE it might be an idea to consult with a biology teacher.

Much better would simply to say that scientific methods have arrived at certain conclusions about the natural history of life about how life changes over time. There was an age of fish, 'reptiles', dinosaurs and mammals and after detailed study science has reasonable understanding of how species change over large periods of time.

Then point out that the scientific account (which they will learn in only a tiny tiny amount of detail in biology class) has received resistance from acceptance from some quarters because it conflicts with religious ideas. Then you can talk about religious ideas.

A year 7 RE class doesn't strike me as a particularly suitable venue to hash out scientific evidences vs Creationist apologetics.

If you do want to 'teach the controversy' so to speak you might also consider asking a history teacher and going through the basic history of ideas including the teleology of the ancient Greeks and Romans through to the specific creationist ideas of various religions including Jewish/Christian/Islam/Hindu/whatever faiths you are focussing on in your school. Cover the 18th Century attempts to understand how to square these ideas with the geology and the fossil record and (even) biogeography and eventually Darwin's key idea of descent with modification and natural selection.

But to be honest - I'd probably focus more on comparing and contrasting the differences in world religions about origins with only a mention of the scientific account. I think the format of 'here are the three best arguments for 1 side, and here are three of the best arguments for the other' is unnecessarily adversarial and I personally don't think it's the best method for teaching the issues.

Such a list - if it were to be true would have to have one member in each side that looks like this:

Creationism:
There is no way humans can come into existence through natural processes. It must have been God.

Evolution:
We have a mountain of scientific evidence which confirms that humans can come into existence through natural processes. It doesn't have to have been God, though of course we can never rule such a hypothesis entirely out.

Edited by Modulous, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by JJtheJester, posted 10-19-2009 3:32 PM JJtheJester has responded

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JJtheJester
Junior Member (Idle past 2863 days)
Posts: 7
Joined: 10-19-2009


Message 9 of 126 (531823)
10-20-2009 5:32 AM
Reply to: Message 3 by Izanagi
10-20-2009 12:06 AM


> Also, why is this being taught in religious education? I don't
> remember evolution ever being a religion.

(I Haven't worked out how to show quotes in shaded boxes, bear with me as I muddle my way through)

I wanted to explore the issue of origins. We have covered the creation story and I wanted to show contrasting views- it is normal in schools to show different points of view and let the children think and decide for themselves. Just out of interest, under which subject would you put this type of discussion?


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bluegenes
Member (Idle past 67 days)
Posts: 3119
From: U.K.
Joined: 01-24-2007


Message 10 of 126 (531826)
10-20-2009 5:40 AM
Reply to: Message 9 by JJtheJester
10-20-2009 5:32 AM


JJtheJester writes:

We have covered the creation story.....

The creation story? The creation story???!!!

(See my post and link above )

P.S. Clicking on the "peek" feature at the bottom is an easy way to see how the codes in a particular post are made, and there's a dB codes "help" to the left. Welcome to EvC.


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 Message 9 by JJtheJester, posted 10-20-2009 5:32 AM JJtheJester has not yet responded

JJtheJester
Junior Member (Idle past 2863 days)
Posts: 7
Joined: 10-19-2009


Message 11 of 126 (531831)
10-20-2009 6:23 AM
Reply to: Message 4 by Phage0070
10-20-2009 12:17 AM


Phage0070

Thanks for a straight-forward reply to my request, I will see other replies and make my choice- cheers!


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JJtheJester
Junior Member (Idle past 2863 days)
Posts: 7
Joined: 10-19-2009


Message 12 of 126 (531832)
10-20-2009 6:28 AM
Reply to: Message 5 by bluegenes
10-20-2009 2:53 AM


> bluegenes

thanks to you too, appreciate your response. I am now just waiting for a reply from a creationist ... any out there?


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JJtheJester
Junior Member (Idle past 2863 days)
Posts: 7
Joined: 10-19-2009


Message 13 of 126 (531834)
10-20-2009 6:48 AM
Reply to: Message 7 by Parasomnium
10-20-2009 4:23 AM


Re: Do not mix science and religion
> Parasomnium
> Evolution is a scientific subject, and therefore does not belong in a class called "Religious Education",
> just as Biblical exegesis does not belong in a science class. In my view, if you want to give them a
> proper lesson in religious education, you should show your pupils the contrasting views among different
> religions per se, and stimulate them to think about the fact that such disparate religious views exist at all.

Thanks for telling me how to do my job!
We *do* cover creation from different viewpoints actually. This issue has been raised by the pupils themselves, which is the reason for my request. I don't feel that I have sufficient knowledge of both points of view to give a fair summary of either side.

> Parasomnium
> I think that to concentrate on the supposed contrast between one religious viewpoint and a
> scientific concept is to misinform your students and to reduce your lesson to the oxymoronic level
>(no offence intended) that the term "Religious Education" suggests in the first place.

On the contrary, RE is the perfect subject in which to cover this debate, I guess that you would have an issue if these issues were covered in a science lesson. We also look at issues such as abortion and when does life begin ... this is a scientific question which has a bearing on what people believe to be right. Please let me know *which* subject this topic be covered in?

To push this issue out of lessons because it 'reduces to the oxymononic level' and therefore not teach it is to pander to censorship. After all, "Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge" (isn't that part of your quote?)

By the way, no offence taken. :-)


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JJtheJester
Junior Member (Idle past 2863 days)
Posts: 7
Joined: 10-19-2009


Message 14 of 126 (531835)
10-20-2009 7:04 AM
Reply to: Message 8 by Modulous
10-20-2009 4:40 AM


modulous writes:

But to be honest - I'd probably focus more on comparing and contrasting the differences in world religions about origins with only a mention of the scientific account. I think the format of 'here are the three best arguments for 1 side, and here are three of the best arguments for the other' is unnecessarily adversarial and I personally don't think it's the best method for teaching the issues.

Hey, I'm getting the hang of this forum, now I can properly box and shade quotes ... thanks for the advice bluegenes

Modulous, adversarial techniques are a very good way of looking at issues- I have used it for class discussions and it is certainly a better way of teaching than telling children what to think. If the arguments are strong, they will hold up to scrutiny. I am surprised by the negative feedback I have had to get pupils to look at all sides of a debate before coming to their own conclusion. We have used the same technique from the frivolous to the serious, e.g. do fairies exist? Is the building we are sat in safe? Do humans cause global warming? Do ghosts exist? Using this type of technique forces us to look at the evidence, and not just simply take what someone else tells us.


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Larni
Member
Posts: 3951
From: Liverpool
Joined: 09-16-2005


Message 15 of 126 (531836)
10-20-2009 7:08 AM
Reply to: Message 12 by JJtheJester
10-20-2009 6:28 AM


I think what some posters are trying to say is that you are starting from what appears to be the premise that you are asking an either/or question:

"Are naturalistic causes sufficient to explain the origins of life on the planet or is there a supernatural entitiy involved?"

As has been mentioned ToE does not get involved with Abiogenesis any more than balistics is involved with smelting the ore to make the metal to make a gun.

So you could rephrase your question:

"Is Algorithmic information theory a more accurate account of Abiogenesis than a supernatural creation event?"

To which one would have to reply that it is not; the reason being that neither have any objective evidence to indicate their efficacy for explaning the creation event.

This is why you must understand that ToE should not be used in relation to Abiogenesis any more than algorithmic information theory should be.

You also need to make clear exactly which creation story you are talking about; there are very many and it is difficult to establish which one you are referring to (I assume you mean one of the Abrahamic religions because of you location but you take my point).

As it stands you are doing your students a disservice because you are assuming that one or other is correct when in this case neither theories can be shown to have any efficacy as explanations for Abiogenesis.


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