The teaching of garbage as science to your childrengreenspun.com : LUSENET : TB2K spinoff uncensored : One Thread
creationism and politics
Lacking the philosophical rigor and intellectual framework of the great religious thinkers of the past, today's advocates of creation science have campaigned to have their Biblical version of creation taught as science in U.S. public schools. One of their successes was in the state of Arkansas, which passed a law requiring the teaching of creationism in public schools. (Until 1968, it was illegal to teach evolution in Arkansas.) In 1981, however, the law was ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge who declared creationism to be religious in nature (McLean v. Arkansas). A similar Louisiana law was overturned by the United States Supreme Court in 1987 (Edwards v. Aguillard). In 1994, the Tangipahoa Parish school district then passed a law, under the guise of promoting "critical thinking," requiring teachers to read aloud a disclaimer before they taught evolution. This dishonest ruse was thrown out by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in 1999. Another tactic was tried by creationist biology teacher John Peloza in 1994. He sued his school district for forcing him to teach the "religion" of "evolutionism." He lost and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that there is no such religion. Also, it should be noted that in 1990 the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that school districts may forbid the teaching of creationism since it is a form of religious advocacy (Webster v. New Lenox School District). Many religious leaders support this ruling. They recognize that allowing school districts to teach creationism is to favor one group's religious views over the religious views of others.
Creation scientists may have failed in their attempts to have evolution banned from the classroom and to have creationism taught alongside evolution. However, politically active creationists have not given up; they have just changed tactics. Creationists have been encouraged to run for local school boards to try to gain control of the teaching of evolution that way. School boards can determine what texts the schools may and may not use. Creationists who complain to school boards about the teaching of evolution are more likely to be successful in their efforts at censoring science texts if the school board has several creationists.
In Alabama, biology textbooks carry a warning that says that evolution is "a controversial theory some scientists present as a scientific explanation for the origin of living things. . . .No one was present when life first appeared on earth. Therefore, any statement about life's origins should be considered as theory, not fact." In Alabama, I guess, if you wake up to snow on the ground, but no one saw it snowing, then you may only propose a theory as to the origin of the snow. The great state of Alabama apparently is banking on their students being too dumb to recognize language that tries to deceive and manipulate them.
In August of 1999 the Kansas State Board of Education rejected evolution and the Big Bang theory as scientific principles. The 10-member board voted six to four to eliminate these topics from the science curricula. The Kansas Board did not ban the teaching of evolution or of the Big Bang Theory. The Board simply deleted any mention of evolution and the Big Bang theory from the science curriculum and from the materials used to test graduating students. Creationists, such as Board Member Steve Abrams, a former head of the state Republican Party, hailed the decision as a victory in the war against evolutionists. Creationists want children to believe that God made them and every other species individually for a purpose. They do not want children to think that a divine power might be behind the Big Bang or evolution of species because that opens the possibility that God might not exist. These scientific theories, like all scientific theories today, make no reference to God. Creationism maintains that God created everything, a belief which leaves no room for an explanation of the existence and nature of things without reference to God. If a child learns science the child may one day conclude that God is an unnecessary hypothesis. Children must not learn science or they must learn that science is a repository of errors such as evolution and the Big Bang theory.
the war against evolution
At the same time that militant creationists are trying to censor textbooks that treat evolution properly, they complain of censorship against creationist works.* This tactic of fighting fire with fire has led creationist Jerry Bergman to argue that evolution (unlike Genesis, I suppose) teaches that women are inferior to men. The goal of militant creationists today is to debunk evolution wherever possible, not to forward scientific knowledge. (See Revolution Against Evolution.) One of their favorite tactics is to blame all sin and crime on lack of proper Bible study and the teaching of "godless" theories such as evolution and the Big Bang theory. Marc Looy of the group Answers in Genesis says that the Kansas vote was important because
students in public schools are being taught that evolution is a fact, that they're just products of survival of the fittest. . . .It creates a sense of purposelessness and hopelessness, which I think leads to things like pain, murder, and suicide.
That there is no scientific evidence to support these claims is a matter of indifference to those who believe them. When science does not support their beliefs, they attack science as the handmaiden of Satan. I wonder what Mr. Looy has to say about Christian Identity (Buford Furrow Jr.) and the World Church of the Creator (Benjamin Nathanial Smith), or Erich Rudolph, or Operation Rescue (Randal Terry) and other Bible-loving groups that preach hatred and inspire violence and murder. What would he say about Matthew and Tyler Williams who, in the words of their mother, "took out two homos" because that's what God's law [Leviticus 20:13] demands? (Sacramento Bee, "Expert: Racists often use Bible to justify attacks," by Gary Delsohn and Sam Stanton, Sept. 23, 1999.*) These killers have certainly found a purposeful existence, but there is clearly no connection between purposefulness and the end of pain, murder or suicide. Had more people been forced to read Biblical quotations on their schoolroom walls or in their textbooks, for all we know, there would be more, not less pain, murder and violence. The fact is that appeals such Mr. Looy's are little more than desperate claims of people who are pulling out all the stops in their effort to get their interpretation of the Bible accepted as true. It's as if these militant creationists seem to think that they are engaged in a Holy War.
This desperation is evident from the fact that despite numerous corrections by evolutionists, militant creationists still try to get the public to identify evolution with Social Darwinism. This straw man tactic is common and is exemplified in the following letter to the Sacramento Bee. The letter was in response to the article on an expert who claims that racists often use the Bible to justify their hate.
It is Darwinian evolution, not holy Scripture, that justifies racism.... evolution teaches survival of the fittest, including (as Hitler recognized) survival of the fittest "branch" of the human family tree. Genuine evolution has no place for true equality. This same evolutionist thinking underlies the hatred that racist groups display toward homosexuals. They view homosexuals as defective and thus inferior. (Scott Lively 10/3/99)
The view that Darwin's theory of natural selection implies racism or inequality is a claim made by one either ignorant of scientific theories of evolution or by one who knows the truth and thinks a lie spread in the name of religion is a morally justified lie. The fact is that the vast majority of atheists and the vast majority of creationists do not go around hating and killing people. This whole controversy, introduced by the militant creationists, is a red herring and every moment spent debating this issue steals away precious time and energy that could be used in doing serious study of the causes of the violence and hatred that abounds today.
militant creationism evolves
Militant creationists have even created new concepts, which, however useless to scientific evolutionary biology, are useful in the polemical war against evolution. They invented a distinction between macroevolution and micro-evolution to allow them to account for development and changes within species, without requiring them to accept the concept of natural selection. One of their leaders, Doug Sharp, says this of macroevolution:
Macroevolution is the direct attempt to explain the origin of life from molecules to man in purely naturalistic terms. In doing so, it is an affront to Christians because it deliberately tries to get rid of God as the creator of life. The idea that man is a result of millions of happy accidents that mutated their way from slime through the food chain to monkeys should be offensive to every thinking person.*
What should be an affront to many Christians and non-Christian creationists is the insinuation that if one does not adhere to the militant fundamentalist Christian's interpretation of the Bible, one is offending God. Many creationists believe that God is behind the beautiful unfolding of evolution.* There is no contradiction in believing that what appears to be a mechanical, purposeless process from the human perspective, can be teleological and divinely controlled. Dust or slime, what does it matter? Neither is a pretty picture, if one chooses to focus on that aspect of it. It is offensive to thinking persons to suggest that the narrow, bigoted views of a few individuals should be treated as being on par with the great religious minds who have found that science and religion are not natural enemies. It is offensive to thinking persons to suggest that only one's own religious ideas have validity and that because one's own beliefs cannot reconcile Genesis and modern science, anyone else's religion which is able to do so is a false religion.
See related entries on God, pseudoscience and science.
- Mass Media Funk - Kansas and other states try to debunk evolution
- Does Evolution Rule Out God's Existence? John F. Haught, Ph.D. Georgetown University
- National Center for Science Education Scientific Evolution vs. Metaphysical Creationism
- Science and Creationism - the National Academy of Sciences
- Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science - the National Academy of Sciences
- "Thermodynamics, Creationism, and Evolution" by John Patterson
- "Science, Creationism, and the U.S. Supreme Court" by Al Seckel
- "Creationism: the growing threat" by Eugenie C.Scott
- Debating Creationists
- The General Anti-Creationism FAQ
- Edis, Taner, Annotated Bibliography
- "Religion, Science, and Law: Defining the Science in Scientific Creationism" by Dov Wisebrod
- Lippard, Jim, Review of Duane Gish's Creation Scientists Answer Their Critics
- Seven Significant Court Decisions Regarding Evolution/Creation Issue from the National Center for Science Education
- Scientists aim for more effective teaching of evolution
Cramer, J.A., General Evolution and the Second Law of Thermodynamics, in Origins and Shape, D. L. Willis, ed., (American Scientific Affiliation, Elgin, IL, 1978).
Dawkins, Richard. River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life (1995, BasicBooks). $8.00
Dawkins, Richard. Climbing Mount Improbable (1996 Viking Press). $11.96
Ferris, Timothy. The Whole Shebang : A State-Of-The-Universe's Report (Touchstone, 1998). $11.20
Gardner, Martin, Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science (New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1957), ch. 11. $6.36
Gould, Stephen Jay, "Darwin and Paley Meet the Invisible Hand," in Eight Little Piggies (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1993). $10.36
Gould, Stephen Jay, "Evolution as Fact and Theory," in Hen's Teeth and Horse's Toes (New York: W.W. Norton & Company,1983). $11.16
Gould, Stephen Jay, Ever Since Darwin, (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1979).$9.56
Haught, John F. God After Darwin : A Theology of Evolution (Westview Press, 1999). $17.50
Haught, John F. Science and Religion : From Conflict to Conversation (Paulist Press, 1996). $11.96
Pennock, Robert T. Tower of Babel: The Evidence Against the New Creationism (M.I.T. Press, 1999) $35.00
Pilmer, Ian. Telling Lies for God: Reason vs. Creationism (Random House, New South Wales, Australia: 1994).
Schadewald, Robert. "Creationist Pseudoscience," in Science Confronts the Paranormal, edited by Kendrick Frazier. (Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus Books,1986). $19.16
Shermer, Michael. Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time, chs. 9-11, (W H Freeman & Co.: 1997) $16.07
-- anon (firstname.lastname@example.org), July 27, 2000
Hey, Anon, buddy, GET A LIFE!!!! The kids don't give a sh*t either way! If you think you are making a difference, think again.
I bet you and Sagen smoked grass together, didn't cha?
Now, where did I hear that light is now traveling faster than it ever could before? Want to comment, buddy-boy?
You've got just as much dogma as a born-again, stick-up-the-arse, bible thumping, minister!
You are a sanctamonious t*rd, like so many before you. The kids just don't care. Nobody does. Go home.
-- ripper (email@example.com), July 27, 2000.
Ripper Jerk, you are using the product of hundreds of years of Science. Push one key on your keyboard and electrons move and get reinterpreted onto the screen on my PC. When *YOU* type, what I get is "Ripper is an Asshole".
-- anon (firstname.lastname@example.org), July 27, 2000.
Oh and Ripper? FYI, "light" didn't travel faster and faster, something traveled faster than the speed of light (it was reported). Since you don't know the difference, the take home lesson is this: As Einstein showed, the speed of light is *everywhere* constant. I suspect you don't know what that implies either. But it is relative.
-- anon (email@example.com), July 27, 2000.
Here's the deal cpr. You don't understand or don't care that you piss people off. It's not what you say as much as the way you say it. Why this constant in-your-face 'tude? Is that the way you treat your customers?
-- Lars (firstname.lastname@example.org), July 27, 2000.
I have a PhD in Garbage Science from Texas A&M.
-- (email@example.com), July 28, 2000.
Nemesis, thank goodness the great A&M garbage heap building contest didn't collapse on you
. , .
-- greener (firstname.lastname@example.org), July 28, 2000.