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Re: Interesting news item today

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  • bdlqvcc
    To paraphrase (I think it was) Frank, an anthro class is not a theology class; it is about science. Granted. But then, a student who says I m a Christian. I
    Message 1 of 24 , Feb 9, 2007
      To paraphrase (I think it was) Frank, an anthro class is not a
      theology class; it is about science. Granted.

      But then, a student who says "I'm a Christian. I can't believe in
      the science of evolution. I have to believe in the Biblical
      account," is either not accepting the fundamental premise that
      you/we have set in such a class--"we do science here"--or hasn't
      really thought about it yet and all its implications (such as "why
      am I in this class then, if I don't accept its basic foundation?")

      Mike, then, makes another point: "being a christian in general, does
      not require them not to believe in evolution." The
      objective "social fact" is that there are people all over the place
      who consider themeselves "good Christians," who also understand and
      accept the science of evolution. You could, of course, point this
      out to such a student who otherwise makes the matter of fact
      statement "I'm a Christian. I can't believe in evolution..." At
      least initially this may do no more for such a student than to
      confirm that there are lots of "lost Christians" out there!

      But then, as a cultural anthropologist, I often think of it this
      way: My task in such a class is to invite people into what for many
      might be a foreign "culture" (scientific anthropology). They are
      going to be invited and asked to explore, observe, and learn to
      understand this foreign culture, not to necessarily give up their
      own culture, but to be able, at least, to return to that culture
      with a better understanding of this one (the discipline of
      anthropology). It is what anthropology itself is about, and I have
      often thought about how my classes should model the discipline's
      approach.

      When we get in to this discussion it always makes me think of
      an "over the cubicle walls" discussion between two mentors of mine
      in grad school; one was a fairly liberal, Irish, Catholic priest and
      the other was Hindu. Both taught "theology." One day after about
      10 minutes of Santosh talking about some aspect of comparative
      religion and social justice, Fr. Paul commented over the
      wall, "Well, Toshi, for someone who believes none of this is real,
      you have an awful lot to say about it!" They both let out a roar of
      laughter (as did those of us in surrounding cubicles) and their rich
      theological discussion continued. He still spoke from his religious
      perspective, but with all the critical and scholarly acumen he was
      so well known for, and she from her equally respected background as
      a Hindu scholar.

      At the intro level it is sometimes difficult to imagine students
      somehow reaching this eventual level of skill, ability,
      understanding, and mutual respect (and many may not). But for me it
      is at least an important model that I keep in mind when I try to
      imagine what I am attempting to share (and why) with students.

      Brian


      --- In SACC-L@yahoogroups.com, anthropmor@... wrote:
      >
      >
      > In a message dated 2/8/2007 10:26:29 P.M. Central Standard Time,
      > frankL@... writes:
      >
      > As she put it, "I'm a Christian so I have to believe they're
      > fakes". After 33 years of listening to nonsense like this, I'm
      finding it
      > increasingly difficult to maintain
      >
      >
      > I know this situation well- when the fossils are attacked, I ask
      them to
      > explain living forms.
      >
      > My favorite tactic, however, is to ask them if they have seen
      an electron.
      > Then I explain that this class is just like physics- I don't
      care if they
      > believe in electrons in their hearts - here is the info we have
      amassed, and
      > that is what the class is about.
      > Also, being a christian in general, does not require them not
      to believe
      > in evolution.
      > Mike Pavlik
      >
      >
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      >
    • Tbbyrnehom@aol.com
      Hello SACCERS, I invite you to look at a nice web site for an application of technology and education for Anthropology. _http://www.bradshawfoundation.com/_
      Message 2 of 24 , Feb 9, 2007
        Hello SACCERS, I invite you to look at a nice web site for an application
        of technology and education for Anthropology.
        _http://www.bradshawfoundation.com/_ (http://www.bradshawfoundation.com/) clik on Journey of Mankind,
        from Oppenheimer's book on DNA showing the migration patterns around the world
        with a nice timeline.
        We have come a long way from the old overhead projector. And regarding
        teaching evolution to Biblical fundamentalist....I asked students if they can
        know something without believing it to be "TRUE". They always said yes. I told
        them I was teaching evolution as information and not testing them on what
        ever they believed. Bill Byrne, Happily retired.


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Deborah Shepherd
        My sympathies. I ve been there. Believers can have their beliefs, but by being belligerent in her argument, she was being disrespectful of you and the
        Message 3 of 24 , Feb 9, 2007
          My sympathies. I've been there. "Believers" can have their beliefs, but by being belligerent in her argument, she was being disrespectful of you and the class--which is a point you shouldn't forget. I'll let any student have their say just once and to the point, if that makes them feel better. I try to focus on:
          1. No one is required to take my class.
          2. I teach science, not religion.
          3. If her statement has to begin, "I believe," then it isn't science.
          4. The other students have registered for (and paid for) a class in anthropology, so it is time to talk about anthropology.
          5. All students in the class need to respect that your job (for which you are paid) is to teach them anthropology.

          I have found that if I am firm, the other students, if they say anything, express relief (privately) that I finished that particularly discussion quickly. But there are always the worst-case scenarios.

          Maybe your next lecture could start immediately with a review of scientific method: data, observations, and testable hypotheses. Or maybe you've done that already! Or you could have them all write an impromptu essay about why they are in the class and what they hope to learn. You may find the results encouraging, or amusing, if nothing else.

          I keep telling myself, if I make just one of the "I'm religious" students think twice about evolution vs. their biblical certainties, then I've had success.

          Deborah

          >>> frankL@... 2/8/2007 10:15 PM >>>


          ----- Original Message -----
          From: "Deborah Shepherd" <deborah.shepherd@...>
          To: <blynch@...>; <SACC-L@yahoogroups.com>
          Sent: Wednesday, February 07, 2007 2:17 PM
          Subject: Re: [SACC-L] Interesting news item today

          > Could it be that many evangelicals the world wide would be happier if
          > we just said that modern humans are "ascended" from apes rather than
          > descended? Sometimes I wonder how much of the objection is truly
          > theological and how much is pure basic insult to their self-esteem. I
          > also wonder if many of them have thought hard about the difference.
          >
          >
          Perhaps it's the grimness of a cold February, or maybe I've just been at
          this for too long, but I wonder if anyone would like to share some thoughts
          on how to deal with the topic of evolution in introductory courses. For
          example, how do we deal with a student (actually more than just one today
          but one woman in particular) who insisted (very belligerently) that fossils
          are fakes. As she put it, "I'm a Christian so I have to believe they're
          fakes". After 33 years of listening to nonsense like this, I'm finding it
          increasingly difficult to maintain the proper academic demeanor. Of course,
          the rest of the class was looking up at me waiting to see how I'd handle the
          situation (it's the first week of the semester so they're still checking me
          out). I'm sure that those of you who teach in other parts of the country
          also are faced with this type of thing on a regular basis.
          After several minutes of politely listening to this particular student, and
          trying my best to remain reasonably calm in my answers to her, I finally
          abruptly ended the
          discussion, with the suggestion that it was obvious that nothing I could
          possibly say would ever have any effect on her.
          Anyone have any thoughts about ways to deal with all of this in a better way
          than I think I did tonight?

          Frank Lagana
          Dept of Social Sciences
          Queensborough Community College





          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Deborah Shepherd
          That s a great idea! Deborah J. Shepherd, Ph.D. Anthropology and Sociology Anoka-Ramsey Community College Coon Rapids Campus email:
          Message 4 of 24 , Feb 9, 2007
            That's a great idea!

            Deborah J. Shepherd, Ph.D.
            Anthropology and Sociology
            Anoka-Ramsey Community College
            Coon Rapids Campus
            email: deborah.shepherd@...
            http://webs.anokaramsey.edu/shepherd/
            new phone number: 763-433-1195

            >>> mlewine@... 2/9/2007 5:54 AM >>>

            I think that we have a unique opportunity to engage clergy as well as students in 'science education' with the Race Project moving around the country for the next several years. For example, most of my students with 'creationist' issues mystifying their ability to think in my courses are African-American and Latino with trust in ignorant clergy. When the Race Project comes to Cleveland, I am planning to invite groups of these clergy to view and discuss the exhibit information on the human genome and its significance as an 'anti-racist' educational source. This should begin to change their perspective on science and evolution. This is only one example of techniques we can discuss at our meeting for dealing with the problem that most of us face in teaching human origins.
            ----- Original Message -----
            From: Katrina Worley
            To: SACC-L@yahoogroups.com
            Sent: Friday, February 09, 2007 12:35 AM
            Subject: Re: [SACC-L] Interesting news item today

            On Feb 8, 2007, at 8:15 PM, frank lagana wrote:

            > Perhaps it's the grimness of a cold February, or maybe I've just
            > been at
            > this for too long, but I wonder if anyone would like to share some
            > thoughts
            > on how to deal with the topic of evolution in introductory courses.
            > For
            > example, how do we deal with a student (actually more than just one
            > today
            > but one woman in particular) who insisted (very belligerently) that
            > fossils
            > are fakes. As she put it, "I'm a Christian so I have to believe
            > they're
            > fakes". After 33 years of listening to nonsense like this, I'm
            > finding it
            > increasingly difficult to maintain the proper academic demeanor. Of
            > course,
            > the rest of the class was looking up at me waiting to see how I'd
            > handle the
            > situation (it's the first week of the semester so they're still
            > checking me
            > out). I'm sure that those of you who teach in other parts of the
            > country
            > also are faced with this type of thing on a regular basis.
            > After several minutes of politely listening to this particular
            > student, and
            > trying my best to remain reasonably calm in my answers to her, I
            > finally
            > abruptly ended the
            > discussion, with the suggestion that it was obvious that nothing I
            > could
            > possibly say would ever have any effect on her.
            > Anyone have any thoughts about ways to deal with all of this in a
            > better way
            > than I think I did tonight?

            I've had similar situations in my classes. I teach Intro to Physical
            and the associated lab class in central California. We have a large
            population of conservative Christians in our area. My way of
            handling situations like this is to head it off at the pass. On the
            first day of class while we're going over the syllabus I remind the
            students that they signed up for the class after having read the
            course description. They did so knowing that the course dealt with
            human evolution. I then inform the student that I don't care what
            they believe (and I don't- it's not my concern). In order to pass my
            course, however, they do have to understand what *science* has to say
            about evolution. In the same way that I don't care what they
            believe, I don't want to know what their minister, pastor or priest
            says about evolution. This is not a course on "religious views of
            evolution". This is a science class. They have to understand the
            science in order to pass the course. What they believe is their
            issue. I think this approach alleviates their fear that I'm trying to
            convert them. I'm telling them up front that I don't care if they
            retain their beliefs, while letting them know in advance that they
            may not use those beliefs to disrupt my classroom.

            Several years ago I had one student who began every response to every
            question with the phrase "according to scientists...", or "scientists
            think..." At the end of the semester, however, we were talking
            during the open lab session before the final. I had out the range of
            hominids, and a chimp and a modern human skull as comparisons (a
            student asked about whether A. afarensis was all that different from
            a chimp). Someone lined the hominids up chronologically and then
            bracketed them with the chimp and modern human. My creationist
            student looked at the sequence and said... "the Bible tells us that
            God used a rib from Adam to make Eve. Maybe God used an animal like
            a chimp to make us." Not perfect, but at least she was open to the
            idea.

            Katrina

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          • Deborah Shepherd
            Lloyd, For those of us who don t have SACC notes going back that far, do you have a Word or other digital copy that you can send us privately by request (or
            Message 5 of 24 , Feb 9, 2007
              Lloyd,
              For those of us who don't have SACC notes going back that far, do you have a Word or other digital copy that you can send us privately by request (or however you want to do it)? Or if Len doesn't mind, this might be a great article to publish on our web site.

              Deborah

              >>> lloyd.miller@... 2/9/2007 9:33 AM >>>

              Regarding Frank's student who said, "I'm a Christian so I have to
              believe they're fakes," it might be helpful to show students that the
              majority of mainstream Christian denominations do not reject science
              and evolution. In his article on Intelligent Design (SACC Notes,
              Vol. 11, No. 2, spring 2005), Len Lieberman gives examples and
              provides some sources for this. I also mention it briefly in my
              primer on evolution and ID (SACC Notes, Vol. 12, No. 2, spring 2006).
              Lloyd

              On Feb 9, 2007, at 9:06 AM, Philip Stein wrote:

              > We have relatively few problems in this area. I think it is in
              > large part because we've renamed the course "Human Biological
              > Evolution." So students know exactly what the course is about,
              > rather than signing up for Physical Anthropolgy (What the hell is
              > that!) and then discovering on the first day that it's a course in
              > human evolution. (We know that students do not read the catalog;
              > they select courses based on course title or from a laundry list of
              > courses that satisfy a particular gen ed requirement. Luckily, our
              > field begins with an A!)
              >
              > I do teach Intelligent Design, both the controvery and the concept.
              > Of course, like all ideas, I critique the concept and, I must
              > confess, ID doesn't come out looking all that well. I emphasize
              > that the problem is that ID is simply not science. But I respect
              > their belief systems, at least publically. I just make it clear
              > that since our course fulfills a natural science gen ed
              > requirement, we must deal with science. The nature of the
              > supernatural is appropriate for our Anthropology of Religion,
              > Magic, and Witchcraft course.
              >
              > Phil
              >
              > anthropmor@... wrote:
              >
              > In a message dated 2/8/2007 11:42:13 P.M. Central Standard Time,
              > worleyk@... writes:
              >
              > They did so knowing that the course dealt with
              > human evolution. I then inform the student that I don't care what
              > they believe (and I don't- it's not my concern). In order to pass my
              > course, however, they do have to understand what *science* has to say
              > about evolution. In the same way that I don't care what they
              > believe, I don't want to know what their minister, pastor or priest
              > says about evolution
              >
              > Wow- great way to beat me to the punch!
              > Nicely written!
              > Mike Pavlik
              >
              > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              >
              > Be sure to check out the SACC web page at www.anthro.cc (NOTE THE
              > NEW ADDRESS!!) for meeting materials, newsletters, etc.
              > Yahoo! Groups Links
              >
              > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              >
              >
              >

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            • Lloyd Miller
              Yes, Deborah, I have it on a Word document. I ll send it to you separately and to anyone else who writes for it (and hasn t maintained their SACC Notes issues
              Message 6 of 24 , Feb 11, 2007
                Yes, Deborah, I have it on a Word document. I'll send it to you
                separately and to anyone else who writes for it (and hasn't
                maintained their SACC Notes issues in gold-embossed, leather-bound
                volumes.).
                Lloyd



                On Feb 9, 2007, at 1:59 PM, Deborah Shepherd wrote:

                > Lloyd,
                > For those of us who don't have SACC notes going back that far, do
                > you have a Word or other digital copy that you can send us
                > privately by request (or however you want to do it)? Or if Len
                > doesn't mind, this might be a great article to publish on our web
                > site.
                >
                > Deborah
                >
                > >>> lloyd.miller@... 2/9/2007 9:33 AM >>>
                >
                > Regarding Frank's student who said, "I'm a Christian so I have to
                > believe they're fakes," it might be helpful to show students that the
                > majority of mainstream Christian denominations do not reject science
                > and evolution. In his article on Intelligent Design (SACC Notes,
                > Vol. 11, No. 2, spring 2005), Len Lieberman gives examples and
                > provides some sources for this. I also mention it briefly in my
                > primer on evolution and ID (SACC Notes, Vol. 12, No. 2, spring 2006).
                > Lloyd



                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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