Yesterday, a Kansas school board voted to allow criticisms of Darwinian evolution in the public schools. They also changed the working definition of "science" by removing a presupposition of naturalism. As may be expected, the scientific and religious worlds are either inflamed or excited over this decision. Hundreds of journalists and humanists are calling this a "slap in the face of freedom" or "another ruthless attempt to push religious dogma on our innocent children." Others call it a "step toward effective scientific inquiry" or "a victory for science."
I explained in my last post that the scientific method, both in an empirical/industrial setting and in a forensic/historical setting operates in this way: a natural phenomenon or a "piece of the past" is observed/discovered and a conjecture is made as to how it operates or, in the case of historical inquiry, how it got there.
Studies are arranged to test the hypothetical conjecture. These may include controlled experiments with a range of careful variance in an industrial setting and observations of similar natural processes or occurences in the forensic setting. These tests either lend support or detriment to the hypothesis.
I have no argument with teaching Darwinian evolution in Biology class. It is real empirical science. The observation is genetic variance in species and direct speciation. The conjecture is that mutations (observed phenomenon) and natural selection (another observed phenomenon) combine to produce uphill progress in the broad spectrum of life on this planet. Just because the proponents of this scientific theory cannot bring up any tests or observations of natural processes that support it does not make it non-scientific.
But it would be academic folly in the greatest degree to teach Natural History in a Biology class. Biology is the study of natural processes. Period, end of sentence. Natural History is a forensic scientific study of the echoes of our past. Biological observations can be used as the "tests" in conjectures made concerning Earth's history. But since "Natural History" has by its very nature never been observed, it is useless to use it as the "test" in a biological study.
In other words, it is one thing to present Darwinian evolution as a theoretical biological process. It is quite another to assure students that life on earth came about through it.
Since Biology and Natural Science are two different branches of scientific inquiry, it only makes sense that different rules should be applied. If we teach evolution in Biology 1, we should present it as a scientific theory similar to General Relativity or any other theory, with the observations, the theory itself, and all tests that either support it or attack it. Just because science cannot find any supporting experiments or tests does not mean that unsupporting evidence must be suppressed.
We all know the reasons behind this, however. The biological hypothesis of evolution serves as the backbone of the forensic hypothesis of evolution. To question the "natural process" of evolution casts doubt on what the schools teach as fact in Natural History class. To question the historical hypothesis of evolution is to allow evolutionist Richard Lewontin's "Divine Foot in the door."