Evolution News and Views (ENV) provides original reporting and analysis about the debate over intelligent design and evolution, including breaking news about scientific research.

Evolution News and Views

Are We Talking about Science, or Scientific Materialism?

"We should teach only science in the science classroom." Of course, who would disagree? The fact of the matter is, what happens in the science classroom -- as several textbooks can attest -- isn't always science, but often philosophy.

Why do so many fail to understand the difference? As Dr. Rebecca Keller, CEO of textbook publisher Gravitas Publications, explains,

The philosophical aspects of science are usually not discussed in elementary or high school grades and for that matter, neither are they taught to scientists. Most people and most scientists are completely unaware that science is any different than the philosophies that are currently masquerading as science.

So it isn't Science that we're talking about, per se, but Scientific materialism, the philosophy that groups like the NCSE want taught in science class.

Scientific materialism is the current philosophy that guides and interprets most of modern science. Most scientists are unaware that they operate from within this interpretative framework and as a result it has become science. But scientific materialism is not science. It is one way to interpret scientific information.

Keller's answer to this problem?

To get unstuck from the rut of dogmatic science, everyone should own their isms. Scientific materialism as an interpretative framework (and not defined as science itself) provides an important contribution to scientific investigation. But so do other perspectives. The controversy stirred by Intelligent Design has stimulated some fascinating research in the area of evolutionary biology, molecular biology, systems biology etc. (along with a lot of pain and suffering for those who dare challenge the dominate Darwinian paradigm).

In the end, it will be better thinking about science and philosophy that will make for better scientists all around.
Helping kids, of either perspective, sort out what is the practice of science from what is an "ism" of science, and giving them the tools to think critically about both science and philosophy liberates authentic inquiry- which is what real science is all about.