Field of Science

Can natural sciences be taught without recourse to evolution?

That's the question for a discussion over the American Philosophical Society museum website. I think the answer to the question would have to be no. Now of course that does not mean it's technically impossibly; after all before Darwin natural sciences were taught without recourse to evolution. But evolution ties together all the threads like nothing else, and to teach the natural sciences without it would be to present disparate facts without really connecting them together. It would be like presenting someone with a map of a city without a single road in it.

In fact natural sciences were largely taught to us without recourse to evolution during our high school and college days. Remember those reams of facts about the anatomy of obscure animals that we had to memorize. If it wasn't the hydra it was the mouse. If not the mouse then the paramecium. I can never resent my biology teachers enough for not connecting all these animals and their features through the lens of evolution. What a world of difference it would have made if the beauty of the unity of life would have been made evident by citing the evolutionary relationships between all these exotic creatures.

In fact "Evolution" was nothing more than a set of two clumsy textbook chapters that got many of the details wrong and left countless other facts wanting. Granted, some of the teachers at least had good intentions, but they just didn't get it. Teaching biology without constantly referring to evolution is like asking someone to learn about a world without using language. Would you teach physics without recourse to mathematics? Then you should not teach biology without recourse to evolution, at least not in the twenty first century.

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