home
RSS
My Take: The case for including ethics, religion in science class
Science teachers must make their subject relevant to students' lives by tackling religion and ethics, argues Arri Eisen.
December 15th, 2011
10:48 AM ET

My Take: The case for including ethics, religion in science class

Editor's note: Arri Eisen, PhD., is professor of pedagogy at Emory University’s Center for Ethics, Department of Biology, and Graduate Institute of the Liberal Arts.

By Arri Eisen, Special to CNN

A referendum that would have restricted in vitro fertilization in Mississippi, disagreements on the causes of global warming, the question of how to allot health care resources for desperate cases at the beginning or end of life.

Many of today's headlines and hyper-polarized political debates happen at the borders of science and society, especially where science meets ethics and religion.

At the same time, in at what first appears to be in an unrelated domain, President Barack Obama and others call for more and better science education in America to compete in innovation with rising giants India and China. This at a time when American science literacy appears to be decreasing, and even students who like science drop like flies from that pursuit once they hit college and its huge introductory lecture courses.

Is it possible that rethinking the ethical calculus of how we teach science could enhance the pool of future scientists and enrich the quality of conversation around controversial issues?

What’s the connection? Well, from kindergarten on we often teach science as a body of information not relevant to anything going on in the world. This is a cell and these are its parts; memorize them and their functions. This is the human body and these are the different systems of which it is composed.

Such facts are important, but without a meaningful context (cell functions gone awry can cause cancer; all the body systems talk to each other, so depression can affect your cardiovascular system) such information has little real substance and is poorly retained.

This approach violates the first rule of good teaching: Integrate the information into your students’ lives and worldviews, including those based in religion or ethical systems, and translate it into something they can connect with and use. Science has an especially rich and often fraught role to play in society; if we don’t at least acknowledge this we imply it is unimportant.

Not surprisingly, studies show that when teachers do integrate science knowledge into students' lives, the students learn the science better.

But rather than incentivize teaching innovation that would allow science educators to discuss religion and ethics –- for example, creationism in light of evolution and vice versa, or the scientific and ethical implications of stem cells and in vitro fertilization – many teachers are afraid to even mention these issues, despite their importance, for fear of losing their jobs.

The classic example is the public school biology teacher without tenure who, understandably, finds it much easier to skip any discussion of evolution because of its potential controversial nature. This would be OK except for the small detail that evolution is the fundamental, underlying principle of all biology.

I teach biology at a private university. When I ask students in my cell biology course, “How many of you believe in evolution?” almost all of them raise their hands. When I ask them, “How many of you think something in addition to evolution accounts for humans being on earth as we now exist?” almost all of them raise their hands.

Two inconsistent thoughts coexist without an attempt to reconcile or integrate them. It is this kind of dissonance of fundamental beliefs and science that good education should address and help explore, and certainly not ignore. Only when science educators can proactively engage all societal elephants in the room and illustrate science's relatively limited power will two vitally important things happen:

First, as they are forming their beliefs — whatever they may be — students will be aware of the nature of science and its relation to complex ethical and religious issues. That means they’ll better appreciate different types of evidence and will be more likely to argue from and about that evidence rather than from emotion. Second, more students initially interested in science will continue to pursue it through college because they will better see its value and importance to the big issues and will learn science better.

How to accomplish this? How to break the vicious circle? One way is to frame the benefits differently — economic competition and innovation, national security, improved learning, or more substantial political debate — for different constituencies. For example, perhaps a politically conservative, religious audience might appreciate the importance of good science education through the lens of its importance to the economy or national security.

Another break in the circle is to help teachers learn how to teach science in context more effectively. I often find that simply acknowledging the ethical or religious issue relaxes students; a few others  have explored approaches for better integration of these issues.

In my cell biology course, we investigate the biology and chemistry of a cell surface receptor that helps induce good feelings in us when it binds to a chemical compound found in incense; this may help explain why so many different cultures and religions have independently evolved the use of incense in their ceremonies and rituals.

We discuss the detailed cellular and molecular biology of the research in the context of ritual; the students report this opens a door that’s usually closed between those two sides of their minds. Religious students, who say they often feel their beliefs are ignored or belittled on campus, find this discussion especially welcome and thought-provoking.

High school educators in Wisconsin showed that students who read original texts from Darwin and intelligent-design scholars, and discussing those texts, critically learned evolution better (without rejection of other worldviews) than those taught it in the traditional didactic manner. Teaching potentially controversial science can work if done in an interactive, engaging fashion and in a rich historical and societal context.

Clearly, there are a multitude of reasons for America’s polarized politics and decreasing science literacy and innovation that go beyond just teaching science better. But sometimes a little creative wrestling with and engagement in systems and programs that already exist can make a difference.

Once I offered the opportunity for anyone in the cell biology course to simultaneously take a seminar course focusing on the societal and ethical implications of the biology discussed in the cell course. Half the biology class wanted to enroll in the seminar.

A dozen students — all future scientists and health care workers — wound up in the course, representing seven different religions and traditions, from Christianity to Jainism to Judaism.

Students were amazed so many of their peers took religion seriously, and those students tell me that the conversations and debates we had in the course, together with the seminar, resonate to this day. Many say science is now woven together with ethics and religion in their minds; they can’t think about biology without thinking about its meaning in the greater context.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Arri Eisen.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Culture & Science • Education • Opinion

soundoff (2,297 Responses)
  1. Benjamin Nagurski

    As a science educator, I would be against introducing biology in the context of religion. Context counts, but religion. Already religious factions have influenced the textbooks we use–watering down and introducing religious bias into the discussion. The author forgets, not all people in the USA are christian. So whose religion do we use? Keep religion out of education, after all do we really want to encourage young learners, especially those from the "Bible Belt", to adher to the notion, that some pie in the sky had anything to do with the creation of our universe?

    December 15, 2011 at 8:31 pm |
    • JT

      Thanks for fighting the good fight. Christians don't realize when they are wanting their religion brought into the classroom that it might not be their particular brand that gets voted in. It could even be *gasp* Catholicism. How would they like Johnny coming home with rosary beads and a statue of Mary? Can't they see that this wall between church and state protects them as much as it does everyone else?

      December 15, 2011 at 8:35 pm |
    • George

      It might be pie-in-the-sky to you, but it is absolute truth to the rest of us. God created us as we are. We did not evolve.

      December 15, 2011 at 8:38 pm |
    • Bob

      @George – Which God?

      Ymir? Ra? Shiva? Yahweh? Flying Spaghetti Monster? The great Teapot in the sky?

      December 15, 2011 at 8:43 pm |
    • Adam

      @George It absolutely is not the "Absolute truth" to "the rest of us". Christianity isn't even the largest worldwide religion. Even in America, 20% of the population has woken up to the REAL truth that religion is false, in every sense, and that number grows daily. It will be a great day when we can declare America to be free of the tyrannical hold of religion.

      December 15, 2011 at 8:45 pm |
    • Snow

      Please George, don't count others with you.. they wouldn't be able to deal with the shame..

      December 15, 2011 at 8:48 pm |
    • George

      @Bob

      The only God – Yaweh.

      December 15, 2011 at 8:52 pm |
    • Snow

      No george.. we should hang the picture of Darwin beside the alter in every church.. thats the only way..

      December 15, 2011 at 8:54 pm |
    • George

      Darwin is a sinner, probably burning in hell.

      December 15, 2011 at 8:56 pm |
    • Snow

      no.. he became a food for worms and his bones are now drying under the heat of good lord sun.. bless him for his knowledge

      December 15, 2011 at 8:58 pm |
    • Tallulah

      George-
      I support real religious education. Let's have a curriculum where elementary schools spend 20 minutes a day on religious study, but rotate the religion each day to include all the various flavors of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and other non-Christian religions. Support that or admit you don’t want religious freedom as much as religious domination, which is completely un-American.

      December 15, 2011 at 9:03 pm |
  2. Adam

    Science = Seeking truth and advancement through trial and error
    Religion = Blind faith in fairy tales

    Pretty easy to determine which one should be taught.

    December 15, 2011 at 8:31 pm |
    • WMesser58

      @Adam "Excellent" I like the cut of your jib.

      December 15, 2011 at 8:32 pm |
  3. Anakaraya

    I could deal with this, EXCEPT for the fact that there are over a few thousand religions in the world. How would you teach them all? Ohhh of course, when they mean "religion" they mean "christianity". They forget about Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Shintoism, Santeria, and so much more.

    December 15, 2011 at 8:30 pm |
    • Snow

      haven't u learned anything by now about this?
      Equality of religion means Christianity above all other BS..
      Teach religion in class means, read christian bible and nothing else..

      ask george.. he will explain more..

      December 15, 2011 at 8:37 pm |
  4. Joe from Indy

    Most the people here obviously didn't read the article. Anyway, I'd like to point out that evolution and creation aren't the same subject unless you are one of those young earth weirdos. Which, if that is the case, you are completely ignorant of science in general and essentially consider it a conspiracy. For the other creationists, evolution isn't an alternative view as it doesn't have to do with the beginning of life, but rather what has happened since. So, the first step is to clear up this idiocy concerning evolution vs. creation. It's not an either/or argument unless you simply don't understand what evolution is.

    December 15, 2011 at 8:29 pm |
  5. finn

    This is all a very clever attempt to try and put religion on the same footing in children's minds as science. It's masked manipulation and quite frankly insulting. Religion has zero place in a science classroom. Just as logic and independent thinking have no place in a church.

    Stop polluting CNN with this tripe.

    December 15, 2011 at 8:29 pm |
  6. E=MC2

    As I recall, people use to think of Buck Rogers as fantasy and just an imaginary possibility. Yet today we explore space! I only hope that man does not rely on his own thinking and rational to exclude God from this world. Perhaps, like Buck Rogers, man will one day live in a society like we see so often portrayed in the future in which man kind is paranoid, cold and isolated. A world without Christianity is a world without a foundation or basis for what is right vs. wrong. It will be a world in which scince excludes the need for sympathy or love as they are only ideas, not real.

    December 15, 2011 at 8:28 pm |
    • Argueing with George is like shooting fish in a barrel

      Sympathy, (empathic ability), and compassion evolved, because they promoted the survival of the group. They have nothing to do with religion.

      December 15, 2011 at 8:32 pm |
    • mike from iowa

      A world without Christianity? Who said anything about that. We're talking religion, here. There are hundreds of religions, who are you to presume Christianity is the only religion, or the one that would be taught in classrooms once those floodgates are opened? They'll be teaching your cildren about Muhallah or whomever, will you be happy then.

      Christians are the stupidist and most assumptive people I have ever met. Sheep.

      December 15, 2011 at 8:34 pm |
    • mike from iowa

      It is demonstrated that rats have coompassion, yet they do not have religious beliefs, See, that's science in action right there. Oh now I see why religious people hate science, because it is always proving religion wrong and foolish. haha

      December 15, 2011 at 8:35 pm |
    • mike from iowa

      It is not true that science precludes right & wrong or Love. Just because you think that and say it does not make it true. You don't need a "god" to have right and wrong. Right is define as those actions which produce harmony and conitnuation. Wrong is those things which bring about a demise to life. And love is the human feeling and bonding. Nothing at all to do with any "god".

      December 15, 2011 at 8:38 pm |
    • Nick B

      And yet, Buck Rogers didn't exist.

      December 15, 2011 at 8:43 pm |
    • Observer

      E=MC2,
      "A world without Christianity is a world without a foundation or basis for what is right vs. wrong."

      You sure have a low impression about the level of intelligence of the average Christian. So they aren't bright enough to figure out right from wrong without being told? So they need to operate on bribes (heaven) and threats (hell)?

      December 15, 2011 at 8:43 pm |
    • George

      @E=mc2

      You are right. Without God all morality is relative which is to say, there is no morality.

      December 15, 2011 at 8:54 pm |
    • Snow

      without Darwin's theory, you wouldn't exist to talk about morality.. we should praise him and build temples for his glory! That is the only way..

      December 15, 2011 at 8:59 pm |
  7. Sam

    Religion, morals and ethics do NOT go hand in hand. Ethics belong in science, religion does not. Evolution is science, the Bible is fiction. Although some very good lessons come from the bible. We need to quit trying to save the feelings of religious fanatics and pimp slap them with science. For instance, plenty of people thought that the world is flat. Thankfully they were finally convinced that it's round. It was proven with facts and science. Why can't the same be done with these religious fools towards evolution and global warming? I guess people prefer to be ignorant because they don't have to face reality. Somehow I think it makes them feel good.

    December 15, 2011 at 8:28 pm |
  8. Nick B (Emory Grad Student)

    "intelligent-design scholars"

    That's an oxy-moron.

    Look, I get that the ways of teaching science as more than just facts is necessary. It does not need to be sprinkled with religion to achieve that. It could potentially be interesting to use ID as an example of something that isn't science (and why it isn't good science), but it should not be introduced as an equal.

    And ethics is important too–no need to invoke religion into that either.

    December 15, 2011 at 8:28 pm |
  9. George

    We need to put religion back in schools where it belongs. That includes the science class. We can remove evolution, an unproven theory, from science class. Ever since we took religion out of school, our country has slide backwards into the moral sewer. Our society has become way too permissive.

    December 15, 2011 at 8:27 pm |
    • mike from iowa

      Hey George, if that's what you want, then move yourself to Iran. Don't try an turn my beautiful secular country into another cesspool of religion. You Christians, Muslims and Jews are all alike, you want to force your crazy beliefs on everyone else because you know you're wrong and you can't stand that others live a life of freedom and control their own destiny.

      December 15, 2011 at 8:29 pm |
    • Nick B (Emory Grad Student)

      You're absolutely right. And physics? Who needs the theory of gravity? God's finger is pushing everyone down onto the Earth.

      December 15, 2011 at 8:29 pm |
    • Snow

      Proof?

      December 15, 2011 at 8:30 pm |
    • John from Virginia

      Anyone asking to have relgion in public school is a schmuck. Period. That's why there are parochial schools. Keep the brain washing where it belongs.

      December 15, 2011 at 8:30 pm |
    • Primewonk

      In science we don't prove things we explain things. In science, theory is as high as it gets. Theories never get proven, or promoted to fact or law. Theories exist to explain sets of facts and laws.

      The theory of evolution is the single most confirmed theory in all of science. The folks who study gravity wish they had 1/10th the evidence for their theory as the folks who study evolution.

      For some strange reason, folks who choose to be ignorant about science always show up on message boards demonstrating that ignorance. I wonder why?

      December 15, 2011 at 8:30 pm |
    • Harvey

      We can also remove Creationism as an unproved theory.

      December 15, 2011 at 8:32 pm |
    • Joe from Indy

      Evolution isn't a theory. You obviously have been listening to your ignorant radio shows and pastor rather than actually learning that evolution is a fact and we have theories that we are trying to explain it with. It's an observed fact.

      December 15, 2011 at 8:33 pm |
    • chris

      i agree. as a science teacher i would love to have religion in my classroom. i can't wait until the day i get to teach my students about allah and have them pray 5 times a day with me

      December 15, 2011 at 8:33 pm |
    • Argueing with George is like shooting fish in a barrel

      George... "has slide" ? Pay attention more in English, instead of day dreaming about your babble.

      December 15, 2011 at 8:35 pm |
    • frisk

      Not proven? Are you serious? Your lack of education is the reason this country is failing not Science class.

      December 15, 2011 at 8:35 pm |
    • Sleebiscuit

      You failed to mention that religion is even less concrete than science. Religion is far from factual and is more of an idea, than a theory. Therefore, your comment is ignorant, blind, and misinformed.

      December 15, 2011 at 8:36 pm |
    • George

      It's called creation science. Educate yourself and read up about it.

      December 15, 2011 at 8:36 pm |
    • Bob

      You have got to be kidding me.

      Let's put in there the ancient Egyptian creation beliefs of Ra/Kehpri/Atum and the Norse creation beliefs of Ymir along with the thousands of other religious belief system which talk about the creation of man.

      Which religion, exactly, should we put back into education? As the Treaty of Tripoli states (signed by John Adams and originally drafted under George Washington): ‎"As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion..."

      December 15, 2011 at 8:38 pm |
    • JT

      @Prime...excellent synopsis. True, we know far more about the theory of evolution than the theory of gravity but notice how gravity is never questioned? The original poster is a perfect example of how religion can stop a thinking mind.

      December 15, 2011 at 8:41 pm |
    • Observer

      George,

      Please tell us about classes that will teach people all about talking serpents, unicorns, and how the laws of physics are optional.

      December 15, 2011 at 8:46 pm |
    • George

      @Bob

      That's the best you've got? A treaty? Countries put anything in treaties in order to be diplomatic.

      What religion? Christianity, of course, with all due deference to our Jewish roots.

      @Argueing with George is like shooting fish in a barrel

      The lowest form of argument is to attack someone's English. Everyone makes mistakes, unless you are Jesus Christ.

      December 15, 2011 at 8:46 pm |
    • Snow

      You are wrong george.. we need to bring the science books into church and read the evolution theory along with the drivel pushed by conservative christians.. ever since they took over, the world has been going from bad to worse.. we need to get the voice of science be heard

      December 15, 2011 at 8:52 pm |
  10. Answer

    They tried this already.. it was called "Intelligent Design".

    The people who are in government will never allow this crap to be taught in our science classrooms and we are thankful.

    December 15, 2011 at 8:26 pm |
    • George

      We need to elect conservative Christians who will in fact put religion back in schools.

      December 15, 2011 at 8:30 pm |
    • mike from iowa

      PleasenGeorge, just move to Iran, you'll fit right in and be much happier there.

      December 15, 2011 at 8:41 pm |
    • Answer

      @George

      Your need is your need. Don't classify that "we" to mean everyone – you moron.

      December 15, 2011 at 8:46 pm |
    • Observer

      George,

      Do you believe we should teach about talking serpents and uncorns?

      December 15, 2011 at 8:47 pm |
    • Snow

      George, you are wrong.. we should bring science books into the church..

      December 15, 2011 at 8:50 pm |
    • fred

      Answer
      I understand your need to pull the wool over young people and their ability to make an educated decision. Problem is that it will not work. Stalin proved your glorious godless methods do not work yet you wish to continue and restrict thought. We always need a counter balance so that we do not end up like IRAN. Your idol of a secular world with a secular King is complete nonsense. It has never happened for good reason and never will.
      What a world you dream about, atheist everywhere with deep darkness putting those with any light or wonder of a better tomorrow in bondage to your god Mammon. Yeah, lets see when I am in a nursing home do I want someone with the heart of Jesus or Stalin to change my diapers?

      December 15, 2011 at 8:57 pm |
  11. Scienceisforfacts

    What your all missing here is that there are more than one religion in the world. So what who is gonna decided which religion is taught, which STORIES are taught instead of science that is back up with evidence. Just because there is a book written about something does not make it a possibility of being real. I had my grad Bio class where we discuss this topic and it dumbfounded me that over 50% of my class was torn between BELIEFS and Science. The two will never interact. So now I'm guess we should also teach the churches belief about the earth being the center of the earth and people used to think the earth was flat. Also in biology we should teach about the sea monsters that the sailors used to talk about. Why stop their people believe in aliens also and bigfoot and lochness. They have books and personal storeis about them. Better add them into the lecture to make sure we cover all bases. I mean who cares about the geological record and carbon dating the FSM and his noodly appendages just alter the results. I bet the thousands of other religions out there would like to be recognized also. This article is ridiculous, if you want to believe in ghost stories, go to church. If you want theories based on actual observations and that give us the best picture of why things are go to lecture halls.

    December 15, 2011 at 8:26 pm |
    • Bruno

      I do think you should be putting more efforts into studying the English language to begin with.

      December 15, 2011 at 8:34 pm |
    • Argueing with George is like shooting fish in a barrel

      You went to grad school with THOSE Engish skills ? I guess what they say about the US schools is true.

      December 15, 2011 at 8:38 pm |
  12. WMesser58

    Religion is a myth created by those that want to control the sheep that believe in it. Stop trying to cram it down peoples throats.
    Never have you seen my kind care what you do much less convince you believe my way.

    Stop trying to tell grown-ups what to do and how to behave since the ones that are caught doing what they preach against are the ones being "CAUGHT"!!!!!

    December 15, 2011 at 8:26 pm |
  13. Mark Miller

    I think Scientists and teachers DO need to be a bit more honest about their findings on how the universe and life was formed. I don't feel it is right for the Discovery networks, the History channel, National Geographic, etc. to hide anything from us or lie to us about recent discoveries and unearthings of possibilities about how things were formed. They need to be open and honest with us that they still cannot rule out the Bible and Creationism. Should Creationism already be cut-and-dried proven, teachers and university professors need to lay this on the line. Tell the Truth. Be open and honest with us.

    December 15, 2011 at 8:23 pm |
    • streetsmt

      You know someting the rest of the scientific world doesn't?

      December 15, 2011 at 8:26 pm |
    • lolwut

      Please, what is the scientific community repressing from us?

      December 15, 2011 at 8:26 pm |
    • Timmay

      Science is honest, brutally honest. I don't think it would be very scientific to prohibit new data or information from surfacing, that sounds more like the role of religion.

      December 15, 2011 at 8:29 pm |
    • ashrakay

      Yes, the whole scientific community is keeping a secret from you. We of the science community know exactly what this is and the many ways it would improve/destroy your life. However, as we do not deem you fit to be privy to such information, we have decided to keep it to ourselves. Wish you were here! (but not really)

      December 15, 2011 at 8:30 pm |
    • working all the time

      I am a science professor, no one is hiding anything. Science is evidence based, that is the point. If something new were to be discovered that refuted previous findings, chances are the scientist would want to publish this information because it is a major finding. There is no league of professors or scientists out there. They are just working normal people that are far more educated than you happen to be. Inform yourself through a little investigation and you may find that there is nothing being concealed from anyone.

      December 15, 2011 at 8:35 pm |
    • ashrakay

      @working all the time, Shhhhhh! You're ruining it for the rest of us.

      December 15, 2011 at 8:36 pm |
  14. skarphace

    The difference between science and theology can be summed up in a little word: faith.

    The presence of faith removes the necessity of proof when testing a theory. The lack of faith requires that a theory survives rigorous testing and challenges before it is accepted as viable. When faith is introduced, no such testing or challenges are required: you merely jump from theory to conclusion.

    December 15, 2011 at 8:20 pm |
    • Fred

      Actually the jump is in the other direction. You formulate a hypothesis, run an experiment and make a conclusion. If the hypothesis stands up to rigorous testing, it is not rejected, and it can become a theory. However, it is never proven.

      December 15, 2011 at 8:30 pm |
    • Alex

      bravo! u said it all.

      December 15, 2011 at 8:32 pm |
  15. Snow

    You want religion to be taught in school? put an optional course that deals explicitly with religion.. It has no place in a science classroom. Why impose on those who do not care for it?

    Besides, science attempts to understand the unknown by following a simple sequence of steps:
    – hypothesis
    – theoretical proof
    – experimental or observable proof
    – then it is accepted as a certainty. Till then, it is a "theory".. for eg., Theory of Relativity

    Religion stops at step1.. and some cases, arguably, at step2.. since it takes a leap of faith from 1 to 4.. What is the comparison

    December 15, 2011 at 8:20 pm |
    • George

      Utterly incorrect.

      December 15, 2011 at 8:23 pm |
    • Nick

      Completely true!

      December 15, 2011 at 8:27 pm |
    • Snow

      George!! I missed you already.. I was wondering where you went in the middle of discussion..

      care to elaborate what you find incorrect? see us mortals need logical links from one thought to the other (can't really make those divine leaps you are so proficient in).. could you please explain a bit more?

      December 15, 2011 at 8:28 pm |
    • WMesser58

      @Snow they do have such a place it's called "CHURCH" go brainwash your kids there.

      December 15, 2011 at 8:28 pm |
    • skarphace

      George: explain yourself. You can't just say "totally incorrect" without backing up your claim.

      In fact, all you have to do is explain why they call it a "leap of faith" and you will have proven yourself wrong. The "leap" part implies that having faith in something has nothing to do with proof. Therefore, it runs contrary to science.

      December 15, 2011 at 8:28 pm |
    • Snow

      @Wmesser.. I am totally with you man.. but watching all the theists bang their heads and running up their blood pressure, I thought of offering an olive branch..

      but.. on second thoughts, keep religion out of school altogether.. or they can start their own schools in churches and see how many want to attend..

      December 15, 2011 at 8:33 pm |
    • George

      Open your eyes and read it again, and you will know why it is wrong.

      December 15, 2011 at 8:33 pm |
    • Fred

      Actually George is correct, but I am sure for the wrong reasons. No theory ever "advances" to the point of certainty. A theory is merely a hypothesis that has not been disproved over a long time frame. This is far from being a certainty. However, it is the best explanation we have to date for a certain observation. More importantly, it makes predictions that can be tested. For a long time biologist believed that DNA made RNA which made proteins. That was until the retrovirus was discovered which had RNA that made DNA that made RNA that made a protein.

      December 15, 2011 at 8:36 pm |
    • Snow

      @Fred... agree.. maybe certainty is a wrong word to use.. I should say "most probable reason".

      December 15, 2011 at 8:40 pm |
    • Argueing with George is like shooting fish in a barrel

      George, tell us what is wrong with it. Oh we get it......you can't.

      December 15, 2011 at 8:41 pm |
    • piper

      See George, that is the difference between you and Snow (whom I am assuming is an atheist man/woman of science). When a person with science background find mistake in what they say, they agree and correct it.. thats the nature of science where each generation revises and revisits to better their theory..

      Unlike Christians who hold a 2000 year old book as an absolute truth that should never be questioned.. even if it has illogical unreasonable things..

      December 15, 2011 at 8:43 pm |
    • Clayton

      Religion does not use hypothesis or theory. It uses assertions and illusions without any supporting facts. Testing or questioning is forbidden to most because this leads to nullification and contradiction. That's why religion is not and will never be a science.
      It is more in line with philosophy, but doesn't meet those standards either as religion avoids the use of reason or logic and does not weigh ideas according to anything but individual guesses that do not stand up to even the mildest of philosophical scrutiny.
      .
      Religion is pure BS and delusion. Not science of any sort, nor a proper philosophy. It is a form of insanity and schizophrenia.
      Keep your schizophrenia out of the curriculum of our schools. We don't need more crazy idiots running around.

      December 15, 2011 at 8:52 pm |
  16. RL Beardsley

    Making this concept reciprocal, let's also include science and critical thinking into mass. Let's also include critical logic into the tent revivals I grew up with. What could be more democratic?

    It is easy to believe that this society has lost its common sense when we find ourselves inferring that scientists are somehow inherently unethical by training. It is more than depressing. I need a drink – which most religions frown upon, but which relies on biochemistry to create the alcohol and distilling to purify it, the latter being a gift from Arab science. Wait! Which religion? Do we need Islam informing our science, or Judaism, or Buddhism, or just Christianity? Aren't scientists Unitarians by default?

    December 15, 2011 at 8:20 pm |
  17. mike from iowa

    If you want religion in science class, move to Iran, or Iraq, or Pakistan, or Syria..... Stop trying to turn this free country into another horrible place to live with no freedom, because that is what religion leads to if you don't actively keep it in check. The believers ubceasingly seek to force their beliefs on everyone else.

    December 15, 2011 at 8:19 pm |
    • Ryan

      my thoughts exactly. the christian right wing in this country hates "those crazy towel heads" but left to their own devices they'd create a country just as oppressive and tyrannical as saudi arabia (just beheaded a woman in the year 2011 for "sorcery"), iran, etc.

      December 15, 2011 at 8:31 pm |
  18. Rob in Pasadena

    Religion and ethics are completely and totally subjective. Which god or goddess are you even talking about? Why provide another forum to listen to people debate and squabble about fairy tales. It's bad enough we have to listen to their pathetic attempts to influence politics, media and social policy.

    How quickly people forget the only real miracle in our world is that science has survived the tyranny of foolish myths and ignorance to with every new discovery disprove the very thing that tried to suppress it. Why would anyone want to return to the days when blind faith tainted every aspect of people's lives. It's called scientific progress for a reason. We do not need faith anymore. Stand in awe of our universe, that's enough to keep you busy. Stop trying to reduce this vast and complex wonder down to some anthropomorphic deity you can snuggle up with.

    December 15, 2011 at 8:19 pm |
  19. Ancient Curse

    I'll take issue with a specific part of the article:

    "...from kindergarten on we often teach science as a body of information not relevant to anything going on in the world. This is a cell and these are its parts; memorize them and their functions. This is the human body and these are the different systems of which it is composed. Such facts are important, but without a meaningful context, such information has little real substance and is poorly retained."

    Therein lies the problem. The "meaningful context" that the author is looking for disregards religious belief. The facts are put into context as "these cells do this, and therefore you live." Can you think of a more meaningful context? Not unless you bring religious beliefs into the argument. And, sorry, there's not much room for religion in science. It undermines the very nature of curiosity.

    December 15, 2011 at 8:18 pm |
  20. mike from iowa

    The Church has been trying to stop progress and Science for mileenia, and it will never stop. But more and more people are abandoning religion because of it's track record of death, corruption, abuse and foolishness.

    December 15, 2011 at 8:17 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44
Advertisement
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.