Flagging enthusiam in Colorado

August 25, 2006

One wishes this were a Dave Barry column, but of course, it’s not.  It’s a report from Denver’s Channel 7 news, the ABC affiliate.

A middle school teacher in Lakewood, Colorado, has been suspended for hanging flags in the world geography room.  They were the flags of Mexico and China. 

No kidding.  Colorado has a law against “permanent” display of foreign flags.  I write it off to mass Dobson disease.

“Under state law, foreign flags can only be in the classroom because it’s tied to the curriculum. And the principal looked at the curriculum, talked to the teacher, and found that there was really no curriculum coming up in the next few weeks that supported those flags being in the classroom,” said Jeffco Public Schools spokeswoman Lynn Setzer.

But Hamlin said although his curriculum may not speak specifically about those flags, they are used as reference tools for world geography.

“It’s much along the lines of a science teacher who puts up a map of the solar system. They may not spend every day and every lesson talking about Mars, but they want the students to see that and to see the patterns of the planets and the order, and the students will observe that and absorb that learning visually,” Hamlin said.

It’s a silly law, unjustly applied in this case.  Pray for sanity to come back to Colorado.

(Tip o’ the backscrub brush to Flashpoint.)

“Men make angels?” Darwin, more accurately viewed

August 25, 2006

Public broadcasting’s unpopularity among certain members of the conservative punditry may be squarely laid at the foot of public broadcasting’s tendency to smash inaccurate myths and unworthy icons.  While certain pay-for-pray televangelists like to fill their coffers by bashing Darwin, public radio programs look deeper, and find different answers to some questions.

American Public Media’s Speaking of Faith has an archived program on Darwin and his journals, in which one may see a gentle, religious man struggling with the knowledge that nature rarely shows what the pulpit pounders claim. 

For example, here is an excerpt from Darwin’s journals in which he wonders about the power of ecological niches to pull evolutionary advance from “lower species” — if humans ceased to exist, Darwin wonders, would monkeys evolve to fill the niche?  If angels did not exist, would humans evolve?

Darwin as a religious man, a man concerned with morals and a concern for the donwtrodden of societies, is a picture often hidden by those who attack science.  The picture tends to rebut, refute and make silly so many of the claims of the enemies of evolution. 

Here is another excerpt, in which he notes that humans are one species, not separate species as the creationists of his day claimed.  This is exactly contrary to the views argued by the Coral Ridge Ministries’ anti-Darwin diatribe scheduled for this weekend.  The website for Speaking of Faith has several excerpts from Darwin’s diaries and notebooks in which he explicitly ponders issues of faith and evolution, well worth the read and MP3 listen.

The program’s host, Krista Tippett, has several essays (not necessarily on Darwin, but on other religious people who ponder the meaning of science knowledge) which also provide rebuttal to the distorted views of Darwin popularly held.  She writes about Darwin’s journals, for example, “There is much in Darwin’s thought that would ennoble as well as ground a religious view of life and of God.”

That’s a view D. James Kennedy at Coral Ridge Ministries does not admit.  He is much the poorer for the log that blinds him.

Nota bene:  Also see the link to The Darwin Digital Library.  It is a useful source of original documents and solid commentary.

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