Comprehensive coverage

Evolution, creation and the school: how biology should be taught

On December 23, 2014, a review article by Doron Koren on a biology textbook for the XNUMXth grade was published in the "Haaretz" newspaper. The main argument of the author of the article concerned the seemingly gray way of studying the subject in the book, but at the same time he criticized the author of the book's reliance on the theory of evolution

A living fossil - Horseshoe Crab Photo: Amanda, Wikipedia
A living fossil - Horseshoe Crab Photo: Amanda, Wikipedia

On December 23, 2014, it was published in the newspaper "Haaretz" Review article of Doron Koren on a biology textbook for the XNUMXth grade. The main argument of the author of the article concerned the seemingly gray way of studying the subject in the book, but at the same time he criticized the reliance of the author of the book on the theory of evolution.

When you want to attack an established scientific theory it is better to do it with a lot of humility. The theory of evolution is one of the more established scientific theories that exist in the life sciences, and it is based on a huge amount and a huge variety of supplementary evidence that reinforce each other. It receives wide support in the scientific community and is considered the only theory that provides a scientific explanation for the evolution of species on Earth, and in fact it can be regarded as a theory no less powerful than Einstein's theory of relativity and Newton's laws of motion.

Koren wondered, among other things, in his article why the book calls for animal conservation and at the same time presents extinction events as a natural thing.

Extinction events are definitely an integral part of the development of life, but they have a heavy price - the violation of the ecological balance and the creation of a new ecological balance. It can be compared to an earthquake, which can destroy an entire city and make way for a new and better city. the mother Earthquake Is it a natural thing? Yes. Would we want to initiate earthquakes to improve the outline of our cities? no and no.
The author also points out that there are quite a few species that are unknown to man and wonders if it is possible that some of the evolutionary "intermediate stages" belong to animals that are apparently extinct, but actually survived and were simply not found.

This phenomenon definitely exists and is called "living fossils". There is no reason why an ancient animal could not survive without undergoing major changes as its descendants evolve over time into other species. You can see this happening in certain fish, jellyfish and more. It is possible that there are small animals (mainly insects), exotic birds from the thick of the jungle and fish from the bottom of the ocean that have not been found so far and have not been characterized, but alongside them there are quite a few creatures for which fossil records have been collected up to a certain point in history and after which there is no longer any evidence of their existence, so the chances are that they are indeed extinct and that they are not hiding in some hidden corner of the world. One notable example is the Tyrannosaurus rex. If it is not extinct, where is it hiding today?

The vocal tract nerve pathway (in black) of a giraffe. Engineering planning, or patchwork? | Chart: Vladimir V. Medeyko, Wikipedia
The vocal tract nerve pathway (in black) of a giraffe. Engineering planning, or patchwork? | Chart: Vladimir V. Medeyko, Wikipedia

Later Koren begins to enter the time ranges available to evolution in the development of species from the first living creature to man. He starts from the full time scale available to us since the development of the first cell - 3.8 billion years - and divides it into segments of 38 thousand years which he defines as "periods of time for evolutionary change". The result obtained is a hundred thousand changes, and according to him this number is too low to explain the variety of species that exists today.

This claim has several flaws: the first is the puzzling assumption that the rate of change is uniform and that 38 years is the amount of time needed for a single evolutionary change. How do we define evolutionary change? A single mutation? Differentiation into a new species? The appearance of a unique system? It is not clear. In any case, if we look at single-celled organisms it seems that the period of time required for them to pass evolutionary changes Significant is only a few weeks, and we feel this very well in the strains of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics.
In insects, the period of time is longer and ranges from a few months to a few years, and this is well evidenced by the development of resistance to pesticides. One of the most beautiful examples on record is valve development New in the gut of lizards, created as part of an adaptation to a plant-based diet within a period of a few decades.


Another thing that the author ignores is the fact that the development of the different species happened at the same time, there were many species of animals that lived in parallel periods, reproduced at the same time, shared their genetic load and their successful and less successful traits and shared genetic information by mating. Evolution is not an arithmetic column that leads from a single bacterium to a single person, but big tree and branched.

Here Koren concludes his criticism of the theory of evolution and offers a "fair" solution to his claim - to also teach creationism as part of science studies. I was surprised to find that this was all he had against evolution. It is puzzling that he seeks to wave with the help of a weak argument the vast collection of evidence that supports the theory of evolution, and without being confused he defines it as a "shaky theory" and holds that the overwhelming majority of the scientific community may be wrong.

The compromise he offers is nothing less than an educational disaster. In science classes, science should be taught, that is, explanations backed by real scientific evidence. Not speculations, not logical conclusions, but hard evidence - fossils, genetic information, physiological information, ecological phenomena, information obtained from experiments, predictions that have come true, and more. What Korn proposes to teach in science classes is not a theory that can be tested, measured or proven, and the evidence that exists today not only does not support it, but even weakens it.

How will the author explain a phenomenon in which structures in our body look as if they were designed in a very careless way and lacking engineering logic, but in a perfectly reasonable way if it is a gradual process of patching on patching? How will he explain the clear correspondence between the family tree obtained from the fossils and the one obtained from genetic similarity? How will he explain the prediction of finding fossils of "missing vertebrae" based on computational evolutionary models? And how will he explain the huge genetic difference between the individuals within the population? After all, even according to the creationists, all of humanity started from a single pair of people?

This valve was not 40 years ago | Photo: from an article by Anthony Herrel and his colleagues from the journal PNAS (issue 105, 12)
This valve was not 40 years ago | Photo: from an article by Anthony Herrel and his colleagues from the journal PNAS (issue 105, 12)

If so, there may be justice in Koren's pedagogical criticism of the way the content is presented in the books - education experts will judge that. But in order to disprove the theory of evolution he will need much more than the weak arguments he brought.
Learn more about the theory of evolution See a cluster of articles and videos we prepared. You are also welcome to ask (and make it difficult) in the comments below.

Dr. Erez Gerti
Davidson Institute for Science Education
Weitzman Institution of Science

Note to surfers
If you think the explanations are not clear enough or if you have questions related to the topic, you are welcome to write about it in response to this article and we will consider your comments. Suggestions for improvement and constructive criticism are always welcome.
The article is part of the "There is room for doubt" section that deals with failures in the media's engagement with scientific issues. It should not be seen as any expression of a position regarding the subject the original article deals with, but only about the manner in which he engages in science.

to the article on the Davidson Online website



More of the topic in Hayadan:

14 תגובות

  1. The most representative quote from the Haretz article is from the section where he talks about questions for students in the book that leave you without an answer:

    "Well, really how? What to base the answer on? Sail in your imagination, students, any hypothesis will be accepted."

    The quintessential evil for Koren is for the students to use their imaginations and think. I think that says it all.

  2. Is this regular visitor another one who claims that the agenda of education and the search for truth is a leftist agenda, or is it the same one who claimed this nonsense a month ago and who disappeared, and returns under a different name?

  3. Regular visitor
    Calling me a leftist is insulting …… But, maybe tell me what I'm saying that is wrong in your eyes? Or maybe you're just in favor of shutting up those who don't think like you? Try once to attack something someone says, and not the sayer himself. is it so hard

  4. was Created
    "Nissim" is the apprentice of the website editor Avi B. who is generally attention seeking. He is here to spread a leftist agenda. He also imagines that he is MR (who has been a frequent commenter here and one who is truly knowledgeable. As opposed to "miracles").
    You can ignore it.

  5. Eyal
    We know several cases of the development of a new species. Of course - the creationists immediately change their definition of species...

    Avshalom Elitzur
    Don't flatter "Haaretz" too much...

  6. was Created
    Indeed - this is an area that I do research, and I wrote a thesis on the subject. It's interesting that you always attack me on a personal level, and you have nothing to say about the content of anything.

  7. The body knows how to use most of what is available to it. It's just that the partial features provided some advantage, and so in each generation it was updated anew.
    Apart from that, the system is based on the egg-laying system of the creatures from which the mammals were created and by the way they were already created 180 million years ago, and only thanks to the asteroid that wiped out all the dinosaurs did they become the rulers of the earth.

  8. An attempt to disprove the evolution of mammals. Assuming that a mutation that creates a new component appears one in a billion (9^10), and assuming that only 3 components are required to create a new system (pregnancy system for example), then about 28^10 mutations are required to create a new system. Which of course does not agree with the geological time that the evolution of mammals talks about. The only way to solve this is to argue that a complex system can evolve by adding a component or two. But this idea is technically impossible. As a car engine cannot function on the purity of one or two components.

    Regarding the cyclic valves - as long as the researchers are not able to answer how many mutations are required for the above change, it cannot be claimed that this is a change that the creationists deny. It also turns out that related species also have these valves. It is certainly possible that this is the activation of a feature that already existed in the lizard's genetic pool, and as a result of a mutation it began to function. Blind fish are known to have regained sight due to the exact same effect.

    In conclusion, if evolution is scientific, one and only one inconsistent finding should be refuted. That's how science works. So what would disprove the theory?

  9. Regarding the difference between humans and the new valve created in lizards, they dismiss it as merely "microevolution", and continue to claim that an animal from one species has never been observed changing into another species (a monkey becoming a human, a terrestrial animal becoming a leviathan, a fish becoming a reptile, a dinosaur which turns into a bird and so on).

  10. Avshalom Elitzur
    The problem is more serious. All the quacks build some theory using concepts they understand nothing about. The use of concepts comes to give their words some kind of scientific title, so to speak. I'm more than convinced they haven't read any science books at a popular level. Did any of them happen to be a book or an article by Carl Sagan or Asimov and there are enough excellent popular science books that have been translated into Hebrew. As for Amnon Yitzhak, he gives the impression that he knows how to put on a show. He is essentially a salesman who knows how to sell his goods with a high level of manipulation. You should ask him what his education is. There are people who studied and became educated on their own, such as the late Zvi Yanai. Where is he and where is Zvi Yanai? Autodidacts are often pioneers. What is Amnon Yitzhak's intellectual contribution? In a word, zero

  11. And who is this Mr. Nisim, who starts every discussion as if he were an expert in every field? Is your honor an expert in the theory of evolution? If not, his honor will please and turn the stage to those who really understand the subject. At least their criticism comes from a place of understanding, and not from a place of hollow image.

  12. Dr. Gerty's scholarly response does an excellent service to Doron Koren. He takes his arguments seriously, gathers quotations, links and calculations and in short debates him as a scientist with a scientist.

    One zero to beam.

    Because the scandal in Korn's article is not in his foolish arguments nor in his heart-wrenching ignorance, nor in Korn himself, who is naturally interested in promoting his messages, but in a newspaper at the level of "Haaretz" that gave him a platform. A man disproves a scientific theory? Bravo, but the appropriate forum for this is a scientific journal in the same field, where you can see what he knows (if at all) and how much he understands (as above), submit his arguments to peer review and then decide whether a new revolution has indeed broken out. Of course, it is possible that such an article will already be rejected by the editor, whose job it is to immediately filter out quackers who do not even know how to formulate an argument in a form that can be submitted for criticism. Koren knows this and that is why he does not turn to a magazine but happily immerses himself in the talkback discussion at the bottom of his article, where it becomes clear that even in this form of discourse he falls short of the level of most of those debating with him. According to Ibn-Ezra: "He sought to climb the ladder of wisdom in his shame, and his baldness was revealed on him."

    Dr. Gerty comes - smart, patient and kind - and answers him first-first and last-last, and in short: he answers as foolishly as his folly. And I have no choice but to follow him and propose Koren for the position of chief scientist in the Ministry of Education, because his other comment on the destruction of species makes him a worthy successor to another great scientist who was removed from the same position by the Darwinist mafia.

  13. I went and read Doron Koren's article. To save the readers of the science the waste of time of the article, here is a quote:

    "In short, since this whole evolutionary thing that the pamphlet swears by is so speculative and shaky, both in its logic and in the evidence found for it, it is recommended that the authors of the pamphlet, and especially the biology professor, choose one of two options: or not enter into evolutionary interpretations at all and let the students study science Nature to itself. Or that alongside the Darwinist view, they will present, in the name of intellectual honesty, the so-called "creationist" view, according to which the world was not created by itself but was created and arranged by a higher power. Let's call him God, he doesn't have to be Dos."

    Mr. Koren of course does not provide sources for his claims against evolution - because no one has any idea what he is talking about, and his "claims" have no basis.

    I wonder if Mr. Koren thinks that the Bible should be taught with the same intellectual integrity, and say that there is no evidentiary basis for the Torah.

    And finally, another gem of the preacher Koren:

    "It might be worth mentioning on this occasion that, in the eyes of many people and many poets, the beauty of nature is in itself proof of the divinity of the world and the destruction of the theory of accidental formation."

Leave a Reply

Email will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismat to prevent spam messages. Click here to learn how your response data is processed.