January 9, 2001
Pennsylvania isn't Kansas or Oklahoma, but our state Board of Education seems to be trying to emulate those states' benighted educational policies by opening the door to teaching of creationism in high school biology classes. Both sides to every issue must be heard, we're told. But science is not democratic, and we don't vote on scientific theories. A good thing too. A National Science Foundation survey finds that 52 percent of American adults believe early humans lived alongside dinosaurs, and 55 percent do not believe that humans evolved from animals.
November 21, 2004 |
In Dover Area High School biology classes, the Creator will get equal billing with Charles Darwin. Make that a creator. The rural, 3,600-student school district, 20 miles south of Harrisburg, is the first in the nation to require the teaching of "intelligent design," a theory that holds that the complexity of the natural world offers overwhelming evidence of a supernatural force at work. Who or what that force is, no one is saying, but some people are wondering whether Dover could become the catalyst for a modern-day Scopes "monkey trial.
March 30, 2009 |
Benjamin Franklin is famous for many things: founding libraries and organizing fire companies, investigating electricity and inventing bifocals, printing newspapers and proclaiming revolution. But evolution? Could Franklin also be the father - or at least the grandfather - of the doctrine of natural selection? Hard to conceive, perhaps, but the evidence is intriguing. From an early age, Franklin was fascinated by patterns of population growth and decline. Puzzles abounded: What determines birth rates?
February 12, 2010 |
I write to recommend two texts on this, Charles Darwin's birthday. The first is Darwin's 150-year-old On the Origin of Species, which is among the classic works of science most accessible to non-scientists. To read the work is to embark on an adventure of forests, islands, and mountaintops - all in the company of a guide with an eye for details that tell riveting stories. Follow him into his back yard, to a six-square-foot clearing where he has been counting the seedlings that emerge; across the globe to New Zealand, where he explains why birds occupy niches occupied elsewhere by mammals; and into the past to study the last ice age and its effect on the dispersal of Alpine fossils.
January 2, 1999 |
Almost 200 years ago, British author Mary Shelley entranced readers with her novel about Frankenstein, the mad scientist who created a living monster in his laboratory. That was fiction. But now, researchers in dozens of labs around the world are struggling to create rudimentary forms of life in test tubes. They are retracing the baby steps of evolution, coaxing atoms to assemble themselves into more and more complex chemical strings and networks. Their hope is to evolve biological structures that will be able to survive, grow and reproduce on their own - without human or divine intervention.
October 25, 1996 |
Humans may have to add 500 million years of ancestors to their family tree. A new study says the major branches of life probably sprang up twice as early as was previously believed. The prevailing theory has been that the ancestors of birds, fish, reptiles, mammals and most plants appeared in one spectacular eruption in the Cambrian era, about 540 million years ago. The new theory uses mutations in genes as a sort of genetic clock, and suggests a more gradual evolution, starting more than a billion years ago. While the idea of a genetic clock is not new, the study has found a way to predict how fast the clock runs.
October 20, 1996 |
Scientists have a reputation for butting up against religious beliefs and explaining away miracles, but few are more outspoken in dismissing the role of God than British zoologist Richard Dawkins. Like an apostle for Charles Darwin, Dawkins, 55, is taking his message about evolution to the people through lectures, television appearances and five books that have propelled him - at least in England - to the popularity of a Carl Sagan. His literary flair, caustic wit, irreverence and out-on-a-limb positions have won him a following.
August 8, 2011
Among the deeper questions looming in science is the degree to which the outcome of evolution is governed by chance. Stephen Jay Gould famously addressed the question in his book Wonderful Life , proposing that if time were wound back 500 million years or so and allowed to run again, evolution would produce a completely different mix of living things - one without us. Penn State evolutionary biologist Blair Hedges says his observations have...
November 25, 2005
RE YOUR editorial "It's about science, by God": Thanks for raising awareness of the debacle that led to throwing out the entire school board in Dover, Pa. As usual, the Daily News makes no bones about where you stand. That is what makes your paper fun to read. But it worries me that people are lining up on both sides, as if the evolution (E) versus intelligent design (ID) issue was a political debate. Hey, I want my kids to learn both sides and be able to make their own decisions!
May 6, 1986 |
The Supreme Court, acting in a case reminiscent of the famous 1925 Scopes "monkey trial," announced yesterday that it would decide next year whether states may require public schools that teach evolution to teach creationism theory as well. The case came from Louisiana, which enacted a law in 1981 requiring the state's public schools to "give balanced treatment to creation-science and to evolution-science. " Supporters of the law say that creation-science, though ardently endorsed by fundamentalist religions, does not openly advocate the biblical account of the genesis of man. Rather, they argue, it teaches that highly developed forms of life appeared suddenly thousands of years ago. The theory of evolution, on the other hand, concludes that the Earth is billions of years old and that elementary life forms began developing slowly millions of years ago. The legal question accepted for a decision by the high court next year is whether the Louisiana law endorses religion and therefore violates the constitutional principle of separation of church and state.