They're Here on Sep 15 2008, 11:29 PM, said:
Schools, even public schools, have the authority to teach classes in religion: I took one when I was in grade school. That authority still exists. It is not often implemented because schools want to avoid controversy and parents (who don't know what is actually being taught) are afraid their darlings will learn something about somebody's else's beliefs and start asking questions, a thing that religion goes to extraordinary lengths to curtail. Schools can require religion classes, but most choose not to.
You get the best results when you keep science and religion separate. Scientists are not equipped for discussions of religion and religionists are not equipped for science. Putting the two together is like trying to mix hot water with cold water: the result is luke warm, at best.
Much of what gets presented by creationists as evidence is material that was examined and rejected by the scientific community decades, or even centuries, ago. There is no point in reinventing the wheel, so scientists go on to other things. The creationist community perceives this as "stonewalling" or refusal to consider their pov.
The best way past this problem is to do your homework. Learn what is going on in the areas of evolutionary biology, paleontology and the other applicable sciences. If you find problems, write them up and submit them to peer-reviewed journals. I see articles every month where somebody is critiqueing a technique, pointing out problems with a theory, or offering a solution to a methodology problem.
Anybody who wants to put in the time can write an article and get it published in a scientific journal. You don't need a Ph.D. All you need is sound reasoning. BUT: journals are very prestige-conscious. They want to carry articles that will shake up the field and get people to buy their publications, but they don't want to be known for publishing bad science because that will damage their prestige/sales. It's a fine line, but one that can be surmounted.
Science makes nature the final authority. I can write all the equations for storm damage I can think of, but if they don't fit my data set, I'm going to get raked over the coals. Real data is extremely difficult to forge; there are just too many tests that can detect forgeries. For example: Gregor Mendel. In his famous study of garden peas, he fudged his data to make it support his conclusions. Statistical tests on his original data, tests that didn't exist in his day, detected the cheating and led to re-examination of his genetic theory. He was right, but for the wrong reason. Another example: I will bet that right now, you can't name 30 single digits off the top of your head and have the result pass a test for randomness. This is what keeps scientists honest: someday, even if it's three centuries from now, somebody will go over your data to see if it really says what you claim it does (Galileo's original sunspot observation from 1610 is still the first entry on lists of sunspot observations; some data never dies.).
Science classes, at least at the college level, are very clear that there are areas, especially religion and certain parts of philosophy, where science cannot go because it does not have the tools. The problems seem to occur when religionists and philosophers try to get into science without having the tools to go there (A lot of them don't even realize what they are doing.).
Another problem: grade school and high school science courses are taught by teachers, not scientists. They often don't have the means of understanding the subjects, themselves. They sometimes make claims for science that it can't live up to. Writers of popular science magazines have the same problem. Be careful where you get your information.