Local Evolution Story

Sometimes I think that anti-science, anti-evolution, pro-religion craziness is just something that goes on at the national level, but as Tip O’Neill once said, “All politics is local”. Same goes for craziness.

Here’s a local story from a teacher at Annville-Cleona High School, located in a little hamlet between Harrisburg and Lancaster PA, approximately 30 miles from Dover, PA, home of the Dover Area School District. Tom Ritter, the science teacher, has offered to debate anyone defending evolution, because as he says:

…no one has been able to demonstrate that life can evolve where none existed before.

This is a science teacher, no less. He claims that he has “no religious motivations” yet later in the article it is quoted that

…one of his criticisms of evolution is that it promotes atheism.

Since when does a fear of the promotion of atheism not constitute religious motivation?

Now, I’m no biologist, but it seems to me that Mr. Ritter does not even have a firm grasp of what evolution is, or what it does. The idea that life evolves where none existed before, is not a part of the evolutionary theory. Evolution posits that life evolves from a previous form of life, by the action of natural forces on populations at the gene level. So what is he talking about? Well, he’s talking about Creation.

“When evolutionists say that a creator cannot exist, they are saying God cannot exist,” Ritter said.

OK, now I get it. Teacher Ritter has no religious motivations. None at all. Check.√

The sad part of this story is embodied in a student comment. He teaches the curriculum required by the school district to his 10th grade biology classes, but

Chrissy Sollenberger, now a senior at the school and a student in Ritter’s physics class, … said he says nothing about evolution in the class.

In all fairness to the teacher, maybe Physics class is not the place to discuss evolution, unless of course you are an effective teacher and you attempt to incorporate all aspects of science into your teaching, especially one so scientifically prevalent as the Theory of Evolution. One can only imagine the enthusiasm he brings to the evolution lesson when he’s actually teaching biology.

But, hey, if you don’t “believe” in the theory, and feel that by teaching it you might just expose the students to god-forsaken atheism, then why would you be enthused about it?

Of course, at that point, you’ve lost the right to call yourself a science teacher.

11 thoughts on “Local Evolution Story

  1. Thank you for the comment, yea, I don’t have very long to write, heh. Sadly, I spend more time writing on my videogame oriented blog than on my political blog. But now that I know someone’s reading, I’ll keep writing.

    Good luck with your blog!

  2. The latest issue of Scientific American has an article positing a molecule (not alive and not RNA or amino acid or protein) that could have been the building block that created the larger molecules that led to life. Which is to say that life evolved from non-life. I haven’t read the article, merely glossed it, but I gather this is the thrust of it.

  3. I think what we really need is evolution taught to adults, because it seems to me that all the major objections come from adults who have no idea what they are talking about. And then they go and pass on their ignorance to children and the cycle begins.

    Also a lot of people I have talked to about evolution have very litte knowledge about evolution, still holding on to ideas like ‘survival of the fittest’, and even less of an idea about ID or creationism. They change their ‘teach both sides’ attitude when I explain that ID could use anything as a creator, such as the FSM or fairies, but is really meant to be the Judeo-Christian god.

    Also it’s interesting to note that pretty much all objections come from people who do not teach biology. Telling, eh?

  4. Yeti
    You’re welcome. You’re doing a nice job on your blog, and it’s only been a few weeks. For everyone else, check out her blog at The Blue Linchpin.
    Ric
    I’ll look for that. I think I saw a graphic somewhere that explained one theory about how certain molecules that were thrown into the air in the primordial froth of the oceans would combine in some way with other molecules. Not sure if that’s the same as you were referring to, but I have confidence that science will be able to figure it out in the end. Saying God created life is not an explanation, it’s an explanation stopper.
    Shannon
    Not sure what your comment actually is, or how it relates to the post. Feel free to elucidate.
    XanderG
    I couldn’t agree more. It’s not our children who are going around giving opinions without anything to back them up, it’s the adults who should know better, but don’t, and in the process do a real disservice to the intellects of their children. Sometimes I think people take the old adage “Ignorance is bliss” too much to heart. Ignorance is another word for stupidity, when it’s willful.

  5. Ric said: The latest issue of Scientific American has an article positing a molecule (not alive and not RNA or amino acid or protein) that could have been the building block that created the larger molecules that led to life. Which is to say that life evolved from non-life.

    I replied: Could have been, might have been, maybe was, etc. Yep, there’s the proof we need.

    Inquisitor says: The idea that life evolves where none existed before, is not a part of the evolutionary theory.

    Apparently Ric might not agree.

  6. Shannon

    Good point, though I doubt Ric was advocating anything, merely pointing out new evidence. If what SA says turns out to be true, it would become a tentative step towards a major addition to the evolutionary theory. However, at the moment, the first life is not a necessary part of the Theory, at least as I understand it.

    Like most science, it will certainly take time to reach a consensus. But it’s encouraging, I’d have to say.

    I need to look that article up. I wonder if it’s online?

  7. Right, I wasn’t advocating, merely pointing out what appeared to be some interesting research. But I do believe it makes more sense that life began from the interactions of such particles than from the incantations and spellcasting of some imaginary being.

  8. I’m thinking this article is what you were referring to, Ric, but I don’t have a subscription to read the whole thing. Maybe I’ll stop by the library on the way home.

  9. I read that article too. I started subscribing to Scientific American several months ago to broaden my knowledge about science.

    I think as we explore our solar system more in the coming decades, we will learn more about how life came about. Evidence has recently come to light that Mars might have been wet at one time and that there could still be more water on the planet than originally thought. It is certainly within the realm of possibility that there is no indigenous life currently on Mars there might be found evidence of past life. Europa, a moon of Jupiter, might have liquid water below its icy exterior.

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