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Abstract

This study traces a heuristic inquiry process from the point of view of a science educator, from a secular-humanist background in the northern United States, attempting to better understand and appreciate a major aspect of religious-influenced culture in the southern United States which has a major bearing on science education in the region. The intellectual and emotional viewpoints of selected scientists, science educators, science teachers, and prospective science teachers are examined regarding the relationship between their orthodox Christian religious beliefs and biological evolutionary theory. We view the prospect of teaching evolution to students with such a religious commitment as a prime example of the severe limitations of cognitively-oriented conceptual change theory. We also view conflicts between religion and science regarding evolution as a bona fide example of a multicultural issue in education. These theoretical perspectives are inconsistent with the common tendency among science professionals to view or treat orthodox Christian students in a manner unconscionable with others—to disrespect their intellect or belittle their motivations, to offer judgments based on stereotypes and prejudices, to ignore threats to personal selfesteem, or to deny the de facto connection of some scientific conceptions to the morals, attitudes, and values of individuals with such religious commitments.