@patrick, let me push back. Without changing the scientific content, would it not be good to allow religious organizations to suggest language that is more neutral? They will be more sensitive to how language interacts with their beliefs. Sometimes simple adjustments to words can reduce conflict, without changing the scientific content. Why not allow for those suggestions?
No, as it should be neutral already and NCSE is self-correcting as seen in the most recent controversy. Having religious organizations to suggest language that is more neutral is usually a facade to insert their religious beliefs, ethics, and values into the textbooks. This is now happening in the area of gender.
Sure. If that is the case, it would be rejected. However, what is the harm in asking for their suggestions? If they gave good suggestions that did not threaten the science, were not proselytizing, and reduced conflict…it would be win-win, right? Of course, scientists should control science education, and have ultimate say. However, it just seems neighborly, wise, and kind to avoid avoidable conflict.
There has already been precedence of this too…no church-state issues provoked, for the record.
If some one is really interested in the exact wording of science textbooks they can work within NCSE to suggest wording changes. Even the textbook publishers accept comments and changes. But blatantly religious oriented or biased comments and suggestions must be ignored. And this includes the more subjective issues of morals, and values.
That is all I was suggesting. That means, also, that thoughtful religious voices can have a say in science education, even if their say is not the final say.
Sure, I am sure that there are many thoughtful Christians in NCSE. It is easy to join NCSE. I am not a member but I participate through Dawkins’ TIES (Teachers Institute for Evolutionary Sciences).
I agree. So then, this was incorrect…
The key distinction is individual members (and guests) working inside NCSE who have an interest in science education vs. outside religious organizations with stated purely religious purposes.
Thoughtful religious voices already have a say in science education, because many science textbook authors (e.g. Ken Miller) are thoughtful theists.
Should the USGS be able to influence the content of sermons?
I don’t think that is a fair comparison because there isn’t reciprocity between private life and public policy. We, as citizens, can voice our opinion on how the government works, but the government shouldn’t be allowed to tell us what we should believe or act within our private lives. There are already safeguards in place to prevent the promotion of religion in publicly funded education and scientific experts who can judge the scientific merit of policies, so we shouldn’t fear the dilution of science by simply engaging religious communities. Science does involve a lot of facts, reason, and logic, but it also involves a lot of humans, and we shouldn’t ignore that human factor.
There is a massive problem with trying to keep religion out of science.
The problem is that it encourages anti-science attitudes in some religious groups. When you complain about creationism or ID being “religion, not science” or “introducing religious presuppositions into science,” it sounds to people who hold these views as if you’re biased and discriminating against them. This will just amplify their distrust in science as a whole, to the point that not only are they teaching that the earth is only six thousand years old and that Noah had dinosaurs on board the Ark, but also that vaccines cause autism, that climate change is a hoax, and that Experts are Considered Harmful. I speak from personal experience here: among my own friends at church there is a very strong correlation between YEC and anti-vax, climate change scepticism, and support for Brexit on the grounds that “this country has had enough of experts.”
In any case, it completely misses the mark. The boundaries that the scientific community needs to be setting on religion need to be nothing more nor less than an insistence on the same standards of honesty, factual accuracy, technical rigour and quality control as everybody else. In fact, anything more or less than that could be argued to be discrimination – as the Grand Canyon authorities discovered when Andrew Snelling sued them for not letting him collect rock samples.
Provided that they’re prepared to play by those rules, religious groups have a lot of value to contribute to scientific discussions. There’s more to science than just facts and data: there are the moral and ethical implications of scientific findings to be considered, and these discussions need to involve people from right across society.
I agree. This is why I like to approach the topic from the other direction. I would ask people how their religious beliefs could be incorporated into the scientific method. This focuses more of the conversation on the scientific method, and hopefully they can discover for themselves how science works.