WHEREAS, science is a systematic method for investigating natural phenomena through experimentation, observation and measurement leading to falsifiable explanations that are open to continuous testing; and ...I think of science as a way of knowing ... everything. It is not limited to "natural phenomena" in the sense that's normally attributed to that phrase. The scientific way of knowing applies rational thinking, evidence, and skepticism to any problem we encounter and this includes history and English literature. Thus, by my definition, "experimentation" isn't a requirement and "measurement" is far too restrictive. I also don't accept "falsifiability" as an important criterion for science.
What the Illinois Federation of Teachers should have said was "There are many different definitions of science. We adopt the following definition, recognizing that many scientists and philosophers disagree."
Right from the start, the teachers have created a situation where they can keep religion out of the science class but not out of art, history, and geography classes.
WHEREAS, science proceeds on the basis of methodological naturalism and assumes observed phenomena of the universe are real, nature is consistent and understandable, and nature is explainable in terms of laws and theories; and ...The teachers should have said the following, "Whereas many philosophers and scientists restrict science to the practice of methodological naturalism while others disagree, we adopt the methodological naturalism position for the purposes of this resolution."
Then they should have gone on to say, "We believe that nature can eventually be fully explained by laws and theories because so far there's no evidence to suggest otherwise."
WHEREAS, a scientific theory is consistent with evidence from multiple and independent sources of evidence, explains many different facts and allows predictions of subsequent discoveries; andEvolution is much more than a theory [Evolution Is a Fact, Evolution Is a Fact and a Theory]. Most of what's taught in public school is not evolutionary theory but evolution fact and the history of life. It's a fact that humans and chimpanzees share a recent common ancestor, for example. It's a fact that natural selection leads to antibiotic resistance in bacteria.
WHEREAS, the theory of evolution satisfies these criteria fully, is the foundation of biological science, is supported by a coherent body of integrated evidence from other disciplines in science and is consistent with theories from other scientific disciplines including anthropology, geology, physics, astronomy and chemistry; and ...
We should not be referring to these fact as "the theory of evolution."
WHEREAS, there have been attempts in some states to include supernaturalism in the science curriculum as an alternative to scientific explanations of nature, particularly as an alternative to evolutionary theory; andI do not agree that supernaturalism is outside the realm of science. Supernatural explanations have been investigated by scientists and have been shown to be false or unnecessary. They are excluded from the classroom because they are bad science, not because they are "not science."
WHEREAS, arguments that invoke supernaturalism are grounded in religious or philosophical considerations outside the realm of science; and ...
Statements like this imply that supernaturalism is a separate way of knowing. A supernatural explanation may even be correct but you can't teach it in science class because we say so. This is a very puzzling situation. What if there really is a God and He guides evolution? How would we be justified in keeping that from our children?
We need to teach critical thinking and this means addressing all claims—including the supernatural—to see if they are right or wrong.
WHEREAS, attempts to subvert the validity or teaching of evolutionary theory are also attacks on all scientific inquiry and, therefore, also attacks on the validity of using reason and experimentation to understand the universe; and ...This is correct. Attacks on evolution are attacks on science. That's why we need to teach children why those attacks are unjustified and wrong. Ignoring them or banning them from the classroom won't demonstrate why they subvert the validity of science.
WHEREAS, legislation that conflates supernaturalism, or limits, or prohibits the teaching of any scientific theory negatively impacts our ability to make informed decisions; andI hope that Illinois teachers are going to make a strong effort to teach evolution and critical thinking in their classrooms in spite of any opposition they may encounter from local schools boards and parents.
WHEREAS, it is the responsibility of the Illinois Federation of Teachers to preserve the integrity of science in the classroom; therefore be it
resolved, that the Illinois Federation of Teachers affirm, through a positional statement on its website, the validity of science as a methodology for understanding the nature of the universe, and affirm the validity and foundational importance of organic evolution to science as a whole and biology, specifically; and be it further
RESOLVED, that the IFT affirm, through a positional statement on its website, that supernaturalism is not a scientific endeavor and, therefore, is inappropriate for inclusion in the science curriculum; and be it further
RESOLVED, that this resolution does not make it the official position of the IFT that there is no God and should not be interpreted as a statement either for or against religion or belief in God; and be it further
RESOLVED, that the IFT call upon its members to assist those engaged in overseeing science education policy to understand the nature of science, the content of contemporary evolutionary theory and the inappropriateness of including non-science subjects (e.g., intelligent design and creationism) in our science curriculum; and be it further
RESOLVED, that the IFT communicate to the local, regional and national public media, to educational authorities and to appropriate legislators its opposition to the inclusion of non-science approaches and subjects (e.g., creationism and intelligent design) into the science education curricula of our public school system; and be it finally
RESOLVED, that the IFT members also promote these concerns and help resolve these issues in their home communities among educators, parents, school boards and students in appropriate public forums.
This is one of 27 resolutions that they passed.
[Hat Tip: Panda's Thumb]