University of Minnesota
School of Physics & Astronomy

History of Science and Technology/Minnesota Center for Philosophy of Science Colloquium

Friday, April 24th 2009
Speaker: Jon Marks, Department of Anthropology, University of North Carolina-Charlotte
Subject: Evolution and Relativism
Refreshments served in Room 216 Physics at 3:15 p.m.

In The Grammar of Science (1892), Karl Pearson explained the application of Darwinian evolutionary principles to the human species: "a capable and stalwart race of white men should replace a dark-skinned tribe which can neither utilize its land for the full benefit of mankind, nor contribute its quota to the common stock of human knowledge," and later clarified, "there is cause for human satisfaction in the replacement of the aborigines throughout America and Australia by white races of far higher civilization." This is problematic because if the choice is between genocide or creationism, the correct choice is obviously creationism. It is also problematic because if Pearson was misrepresenting Darwinism (and where were you when he laid the foundations of quantitative biology? – Job 38:4) then it undermines the credibility of other generations of scientists who also claim to speak authoritatively about evolution. Accepting that creationists seek to undermine science education in America, I will discuss the failure of biology to deal adequately with them. I will suggest that an anthropological, relativistic approach may have some value in identifying and solving some of the problems raised by the persistence of creationism.

Sponsored by the Minnesota Center for Philosophy of Science

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