Dealing with Creationist Teachers

| 42 Comments

A parent recently contacted Colorado Citizens for Science, saying that his fourth grader at a public school had brought home a DVD promoting intelligent-design creationism as an alternative to evolution. CCFS advised the parent to contact the teacher before approaching the administration, and also recommended that he read the relevant resources on the Website of the National Center for Science Education and bone up on Judge Jones’s decision in Kitzmiller.

Additionally, a CCFS Board member described her own, similar experience, as well as forwarded to the parent her correspodence with her child’s teacher. The Board member’s case was not resolved successfully until she approached the school board and, ultimately, threatened to file a lawsuit. CCFS has posted its reply to the parent and also the CCFS Board member’s correspondence with the teacher at this URL.

We do not yet know how the parent’s case will come out.

42 Comments

“The Board member’s case was not resolved successfully until she approached the school board and, ultimately, threatened to file a lawsuit.”

I suspect thats probably the case most of the time. These creationist teachers are devious, not stupid. I’m pretty sure they understand the lay of the land, and can figure out whether they have support from above or not.

A lawsuit should demand the firing of the administrators who turned a deaf ear to this and probably an independent review of the curricula and science departments.

And then the perpatrators must order 10 pizzas from Lenny’s delivery boy and listen to his sermons.

After reading the correspondence that has been posted on the CCFS website, I like the approach taken so far. Give the teacher the benefit of the doubt before making a federal case out of it. Often, the teacher may not be fully aware of what he or she is getting into.

It is possible that the institute in question is the Classical Academy in Colorado Springs (a town whose population is politically a little right of Genghis Kahn) and the teacher is Dave Khaliqi a biology teacher whose motto is “it’s not my job to tell you what to think”. This is not a private school but a public “charter” school presumably fuded by taxpayer money. According to Mr. K. “micro(evolution) includes small adaptations to the environment:macro refers to transformation of one organism into another.” Wow. He may not feel it’s his job to tell students what to think but he clearly thinks its his job to placate the parents who don’t want their kids learnig unbalanced evolution. Dave says evolution is “the theory that over the course of eons, animals evolved into entirely new forms as when apes became human beings.” Double wow. There was a full page fulsome article on this in the Rocky Mountain News 3/1/06 pg 24A. He spouts the whole Disco Institute line and never mentions the inconvenient fact that there has never been an original published article demonstrating the science of ID. This man is a science teacher. The whole thing was more depressing than even the Bronco’s dismal performance in the AFC playoffs.

Wow, was the teacher for the CCFS board member’s daughter ever disingenuous. When Lothlorien calls him on his garbage he blames the student.

Teacher’s Reply. I noticed Bellas demeanor change when I said this and I wondered what she was thinking at the time. What I actually said was a little different from what Bella said.

Yeah, right, it’s all the student’s fault that she exactly understood every bit of the anti-science I was pandering as fact, precisely as I wanted it to be understood. Lothlorien smacked him down every bit as hard as he deserved.

Perhaps, under legal threat, it might be possible to stop creationists from preaching in science class (though getting them to stop breathing might be easier. As Lenny keeps pointing out, they really can’t help themselves), but I don’t think a creationist could teach evolution as scientists understand it. They could read the book out loud to the class, but probably not answer questions. To a creationist, the origin of the universe, origin of life and origin of species were all one single unified event. It makes no sense to distinguish these from one another.

So I wonder what the expected resolution is in a case like this. Especially when the teacher’s boss is a creationist, and his boss’s boss is also a creationist. You aren’t going to deprogram these people, you probably aren’t going to replace them either. Had there been another reply from the teacher in that sequence, I can confidently predict he would have continued to preach. It’s what they do.

Imagine if Matt Young were under legal threat to teach creationism in science class, despite support for science from his school administration and his school board. Would he go ahead and start telling his students that scientists have tossed out science, as instructed? Does a creationist have convictions any less powerful?

So what is the hoped-for result here? To get the teacher to promise to stick to science? Really?

Posted by Flint on March 7, 2006 08:57 AM (e)

.… As Lenny keeps pointing out, they really can’t help themselves), but I don’t think a creationist could teach evolution as scientists understand it. They could read the book out loud to the class, but probably not answer questions. To a creationist, the origin of the universe, origin of life and origin of species were all one single unified event. It makes no sense to distinguish these from one another.

So I wonder what the expected resolution is in a case like this. Especially when the teacher’s boss is a creationist, and his boss’s boss is also a creationist. You aren’t going to deprogram these people, you probably aren’t going to replace them either. Had there been another reply from the teacher in that sequence, I can confidently predict he would have continued to preach. It’s what they do.

.….

So what is the hoped-for result here? To get the teacher to promise to stick to science? Really?

When I hear about a creationist teacher like this, I really wonder why they’re teaching science. I refuse to believe someone educated enough to get their certificate (no snide comments about teaching schools here, please) doesn’t know enough about science to know what is and isn’t science. It is really an intent by the teacher (as Flint says), to preach. Personally, I think the hoped-for result is for the teacher to be removed from science teaching.

It is really a competency and ethics issue. If they can’t teach science as the scientific community recognises it FOR WHATEVER REASON, they shouldn’t be in the classroom. I’d say the same thing if the teacher was teaching Shakespeare in a biology class, or if a PE instructor was trying (unsuccessfully) to teach calculus (and yes, I know it’s a stereotype). This teacher is incompetent and should be removed from the classroom.

I had a similar experience when my oldest son was taking 10th grade Biology in the Gahanna (Ohio) public schools. He came home one day and reported that his Biology teacher had started quoting from the Bible during class - clearly presenting a creationist viewpoint to counter the section on Evolution. I immediately called the Assistant Superintendent for Science and expressed my concern. She reflected my concern and promised to look into the matter - which I took to mean that the bureaucracy would chug slowly to some resolution. What happened was that the fololowing day the teacher came up to my son and stammered something about not trying to present creationism, but simply using the Bible to make an analogy (the administration had gotten on his case within hours of my call). The next term the teacher was moved from the science department to the social studies department until the end of his contract - which was not renewed.

Gahanna is a very conservative-leaning community (home of the “creationists.org” web page), but its schools have always had a reputation for quality.

I had a similar experience when my oldest son was taking 10th grade Biology in the Gahanna (Ohio) public schools. He came home one day and reported that his Biology teacher had started quoting from the Bible during class - clearly presenting a creationist viewpoint to counter the section on Evolution. I immediately called the Assistant Superintendent for Science and expressed my concern. She reflected my concern and promised to look into the matter - which I took to mean that the bureaucracy would chug slowly to some resolution. What happened was that the following day the teacher came up to my son and stammered something about not trying to present creationism, but simply using the Bible to make an analogy (the administration had gotten on his case within hours of my call). The next term the teacher was moved from the science department to the social studies department until the end of his contract - which was not renewed.

Gahanna is a very conservative-leaning community (home of the “creationists.org” web page), but its schools have always had a reputation for quality. I suspect that a lot of creationist teaching in the public schools is done “under the radar”, and that many administrations will take approrpriate action when notified of a problem. Parents need to know what goes on in their chidrens’ classrooms.

Wasn’t Ken Ham once a science teacher ? Here’s his views on teaching creationism without mentioning the bible:

“Real observational science is building space shuttles or computers (I always thought this was technology!) and not teaching about origins. When it comes to teaching about molecules to man evolution I would tell them it wasn’t observational science. Once I told the students how to think and not what to think they soon caught on”

This was taken from one of his “Answers with Ken Ham” daily broadcasts which you can listen to on the AIG website (it’s in their media section).

Re: GvlGeologist’s comment

Many school districts are short of science (and math) teachers, so any one who had at least one science course as an undergrad may be placed in the science teachers position as a temporary placement.

It is also true that certification as a science teacher requires minimal knowledge of the sciences. As a graduate assistant, I taught a two-semester class called Physical Science. That was all the science that was required for students to be certified as a science teacher. All the rest was theory and practice of teaching. (This was in Arkansas some years ago.)

This is not to excuse the teacher’s actions, just pointing out what the circumstances may be. Science teachers are generally not required to be well educated in any scientific discipline.

Re: GvlGeologist’s comment

Many school districts are short of science (and math) teachers, so any one who had at least one science course as an undergrad may be placed in the science teachers position as a temporary placement.

It is also true that certification as a science teacher requires minimal knowledge of the sciences. As a graduate assistant, I taught a two-semester class called Physical Science. That was all the science that was required for students to be certified as a science teacher. All the rest was theory and practice of teaching. (This was in Arkansas some years ago.)

This is not to excuse the teacher’s actions, just pointing out what the circumstances may be. Science teachers are generally not required to be well educated in any scientific discipline.

In many cases the administrators don’t want anyone to rock the boat. They are often in a position where they take heat from all sides. If they don’t have a solid foundation in the sciences, they won’t see to it that basic standards are met. Their usual response is to placate those who make the most noise, no matter how wrong these noisemakers are.

After I retired from research, I taught for 10 years in a program for gifted and talented students. It was a lot of fun. However, the director of the program had no backbone when these kinds of issues came up. He hired a fundamentalist teacher for the computer science program who was so blatantly stupid that he would denigrate other religions openly in class. He couldn’t teach computers or math, and the students and their parents knew it. Yet the director didn’t have enough guts to fire the idiot when he had the chance. The idiot got tenure and became even worse, both as a teacher and as a proselytizer. He would pad his resume and bribe students with high grades to nominate him as a “significant educator”, which his fundamentalist students would do. The whole scene was nauseating.

Some of the biggest problems in education are the departments of education. Administrator training no longer requires teaching excellence, and the administrators who get cranked out of these departments have no clue about what goes on in the classroom or about the various disciplines that the teachers are attempting to teach.

As bad as some of the teachers are in public education (the good ones can get better jobs elsewhere), the administrators are the ones who ultimately set the tone of the school. If they are stupid, the curriculum will be stupid, despite external standards. It requires an exceptionally strong group of teachers to compensate for a single weak administrator.

Likewise, I believe there is another underlying problem:

This sort of mess makes it undesirable to be a teacher. Often, there is better pay going into other industries, and even worse, more prestige at this point.

It becomes increasingly difficult to convince the best teachers of (insert field here) to teach when they could:

Earn more than 2x + the money in industry. Put up with less stress. Have more of a measurable impact in the short term.

The long term damage of this is immeasurable, but short of the college level, I think we are setting ourselves up to get worse, not better, in education.

In my personal case, I was repeatedly encouraged to become a teacher by all of my advisors after I worked in our tutoring lab, then taught some of the intro courses. I repeatedly declined for the reasons above; my case was hardly unique.

Last year, my daugher who was in the 7th grade in Big Spring, Texas had a science teacher who announced before the entire class that she did not believe in evolution. A history teacher also announced before the entire class that any narrative concerning prehistoric migration across the Bearing Strait was incorrect according to her beliefs.

Welcome to my world.

Your world sounds like fertile grounds for lawsuits.

contact NCSE for advice.

A history teacher also announced before the entire class that any narrative concerning prehistoric migration across the Bearing Strait was incorrect according to her beliefs.

What beliefs did she have that precluded the Bering Strait migration?

Mike Elzinga Wrote:

Some of the biggest problems in education are the departments of education.

I once looked into math/science high school teaching. Despite my degrees and my years of experience at teaching college freshman and in a private high school, I would have been obligated to get certified, which at a minimum would have meant taking about ten mickey mouse courses on “education”, which I refuse to consider even if some program were to pay for the coursework. In addition, I would probably flunk the multiculturism part of any interview. (Yes, they do ask “how would you teach algebra in a multicultural way?”.)

Because of the No Child Left Behind law, my state upped its teacher requirements by forcing certification on private schools even, so I no longer teach there. My state, in response to its teacher shortage, has offered a side channel route to certification, but both the state colleges and the teachers’ unions have threated lawsuits to anyone who pursues that route. So as long as the clowns and morons are in charge, U.S. education is going to continue to go down the tubes.

What beliefs did she have that precluded the Bering Strait migration?

Dyed-in-the-wool fundamentalists don’t just hate evolution, they hate damn near everything! The Bering Strait migration was OVER 6,000 YBP, which means before the beginning of the entire Universe! It also presupposes Ice Ages, which never happened (or maybe just a little one after the Flood).

They don’t like ANYTHING. Astronomy is wrong. Chemistry is wrong (since it doesn’t dispute the possibility of nonliving chemicals giving rise to living systems). Geology is wrong. Physics is wrong. American history is wrong (the founding fathers were all their kind of Christians, and wanted the US to be a “Christian country”). Even linguistics is wrong (all languages were magically created a few thousand YBP at Babel).

In other words, science is wrong. It doesn’t work, since it so often comes to totally wrong answers–i.e., the scientific method is worthless. Apparently, if one discovers something, he must check with the Bible to see if it’s OK to believe the fact he just discovered! More likely, he will check with his pastor or some other “good Christian” source, since fundamentalists, in my experience, have NOT read the Bible. They have been told what it says by their pastor, and “studied” a few passages, carefully selected to back up the pastor’s personal prejudices (and not to present any embarrassing contradictions). And what they’re likely to be told about proper Christian beliefs is something that’s not in the Bible at all! For instance, I’ve been told about a dozen times recently by our “Christian white girls’ clique” that astronomers are wasting their time looking for extraterrestrial life, since God created life only on the Earth. Repeated requests for where it says anything like that in the Bible elicited no response.

Maybe it’s requisite for an evangelical to believe everything in the Bible is true, but surely it must be a sin to claim that things are in the Bible that aren’t. Surely there is a cozy spot in Hell for one who believes and loudly proclaims that everything in the Bible is true, but who has found it too crushingly boring to actually read!

And that is why religion is wrong.

And that is why religion is wrong.

Would someone please explain why the above statement is more justifiable than “And that is why atheism is wrong” or “And that is why Islam is evil”?

Re Just Bob and extra-terrestrial life: I’m sure I’ve read somewhere, or heard a fundamentalist say that UFO sightings are demonic and satanic in origin.If SETI was ever a success and contact was made with ET I wonder how they would react then ?

But I am always puzzled why fundamentalists even bother about science at all. If the bible has all the answers then surely this makes science redundant.

Would someone please explain why the above statement is more justifiable than “And that is why atheism is wrong” or “And that is why Islam is evil”?

Dyed-in-the-wool fundamentalists don’t just hate evolution, they hate damn near everything! The Bering Strait migration was OVER 6,000 YBP, which means before the beginning of the entire Universe! It also presupposes Ice Ages, which never happened (or maybe just a little one after the Flood).

They don’t like ANYTHING. Astronomy is wrong. Chemistry is wrong (since it doesn’t dispute the possibility of nonliving chemicals giving rise to living systems). Geology is wrong. Physics is wrong. American history is wrong (the founding fathers were all their kind of Christians, and wanted the US to be a “Christian country”). Even linguistics is wrong (all languages were magically created a few thousand YBP at Babel).

In other words, science is wrong. It doesn’t work, since it so often comes to totally wrong answers—i.e., the scientific method is worthless.

If your religion makes no claims, then it is not wrong. I was being over general. Atheism only makes the claim that there is no god, which is wrong depending how you define god. Islam, well, I don’t think you could untangle the politics to find the religion in the middle east. But: http://www.harunyahya.com/articles/[…]izations.php

If SETI was ever a success and contact was made with ET I wonder how they would react then ?

A. Deny it utterly, because (1)scientists are lying (b)intelligent signals are just a misinterpreted natural phenomenon (c)it’s a trick by Satan to lure us away from the Bible (d)it’s a trick by God to test our faith.

B. When it’s no longer possible to deny outright (like, they arrive here), then they’ll forget they ever denied it and declare (1)they’re demons or other agents of Satan (2)they don’t count because they’re not “biblically alive” (so slaughtering or enslaving them would be no crime).

C. Their existence was prophesied in half a dozen Bible verses, so we knew they were coming all along–but they were created only 6,000 YBP.

Y’all are being overly dismissive of the YECs: after all, if–as Carol unceaingly informs us–the “correctly translated” “original” Bible uses the term “day” to stand for “eon,” then 6,000 years times 365 eons adds up to a whole lotta time.

What? The YECs disagree with Carol about what the “original” Bible really means?

I’m shocked, I tell you! Utterly shocked! I’m so shocked that my hair is standing on end. I look like that new crab-thingy (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060307[…]w_crustacean) with the Don King hair-do!

(Hey, but don’t worry Blast, I’m sure they’ll discover any day now that the genes for blond crab-hair were front-loaded into the first replicator by U-No-Hoo, Way Back When (or, maybe NOT all that long ago, after all, sure wish these fundies would stop stepping on each others’ lines)…).

BWE -

“Religion” is wrong because the worst kind of bigoted fanaticism is wrong? Isn’t that a bit like saying that “sports” is wrong because the Roman circuses were wrong?

Others -

I think you people are being too soft on these teachers. Yes, too soft. Teachers are paid and trusted by the taxpayers to teach everybody’s children. When they violate that trust in an effort to push their own cult on other peoples’ children, they very seriously violate rights. It’s also critical to remember that they all know that they aren’t allowed to do this, and that they almost certainly officially agreed not to at some point. It’s also critical to remember that many of these people became teachers as a scheme to spread their own cult to uncritical children. It’s profoundly unethical and illegal behavior. I don’t think we should throw up our hands and say it’s inevitable, just because it takes place in a poor rural area.

Please note that they could honestly spread their beliefs by founding or working for private schools with open fundamentalist agendas (I don’t think diplomas issued by such schools should be recognized by universities, but that’s another matter). They want to have their cake and eat it too - the security, pay, and relative (that’s relative) prestige of public school teaching, without giving up on their urge to brainwash children.

BWE -

“Religion” is wrong because the worst kind of bigoted fanaticism is wrong? Isn’t that a bit like saying that “sports” is wrong because the Roman circuses were wrong?

Others -

I think you people are being too soft on these teachers. Yes, too soft. Teachers are paid and trusted by the taxpayers to teach everybody’s children. When they violate that trust in an effort to push their own cult on other peoples’ children, they very seriously violate rights. It’s also critical to remember that they all know that they aren’t allowed to do this, and that they almost certainly officially agreed not to at some point. It’s also critical to remember that many of these people became teachers as a scheme to spread their own cult to uncritical children. It’s profoundly unethical and illegal behavior. I don’t think we should throw up our hands and say it’s inevitable, just because it takes place in a poor rural area.

Please note that they could honestly spread their beliefs by founding or working for private schools with open fundamentalist agendas (I don’t think diplomas issued by such schools should be recognized by universities, but that’s another matter). They want to have their cake and eat it too - the security, pay, and relative (that’s relative) prestige of public school teaching, without giving up on their urge to brainwash children.

Comment #84974 Posted by harold on March 8, 2006 04:01 PM … Teachers are paid and trusted by the taxpayers to teach everybody’s children. When they violate that trust in an effort to push their own cult on other peoples’ children, they very seriously violate rights. It’s also critical to remember that they all know that they aren’t allowed to do this, and that they almost certainly officially agreed not to at some point. It’s also critical to remember that many of these people became teachers as a scheme to spread their own cult to uncritical children. It’s profoundly unethical and illegal behavior. I don’t think we should throw up our hands and say it’s inevitable, just because it takes place in a poor rural area.…

Which is why I said (Comment #84487) that they were incompetent and should be removed from the classroom.

And must we start another religious war? As a non-religious person, not all religious people are evil, nor do they use their religion for evil ends. Some of them are my best friends. :^}

Lastly - I wonder how the fundies would explain a SETI message from a location more than 6000 light years away. It would then have been in transit for more than 6000 years. That message would have had to be created in transit when the univ. was created. What would that indicate? Kind of a paradox, I think.

Um, those YECs, creationists, and scurrilous politicians/”think” tank hanger-ons who have gotten that far in what passes for their “thinking,” also have come up with various crank reasons for disbelieving in the speed of light, Einstein, etc., etc.

They’re not just coming for the evolutionary biologists, they’re coming for everybody. If we afford them enough time and lack of attention. Someone’s comment on PT today about the identity of the real American Taliban was spot on (hint: John Walker Lindh ain’t even in the picture).

That comment was made by Bill Gascoyne on This Thread called The South Carolina Enemies List

…and he couldn’t have been more right…uh left… uh correct.

They’re not just coming for the evolutionary biologists, they’re coming for everybody. If we afford them enough time and lack of attention. Someone’s comment on PT today about the identity of the real American Taliban was spot on (hint: John Walker Lindh ain’t even in the picture).

I’m sure there are at least a few politicians who could be classified this way, but I would guess the large majority are simply using the fundies as a grassroots power base in order to get farther up the chain of command, or stay where they are if they manged to make it to where they wanted to be.

The problem is that the motivations don’t really matter, because it’s the policies that have the impact, not the politicians.

Many of these “users” are too stupid to realize the impact of placating the fundies, or they simply don’t care.

I don’t disagree, Sir Toe, but I was attempting, in my pinheaded way, to target my comments at the “thinking” subset of the wing-nuts.

The ones who actually have “thought” about all this long and hard enough to know better, but who keep pushing their agenda anyway, mendaciously and intentionally.

Most of the politicians are probably just unscrupulous and not “knowingly” mendacious in the way we mean here. But, as you say, if what results is bad policy on critical issues, then it doesn’t matter what was running through what passes through their minds.

STJ,

Though I disagree with the first part of your statement, “I would guess the large majority are simply using the fundies as a grassroots power base in order to get farther up the chain of command”, I certainly concur with the second “it’s the policies that have the impact”.

Whatever their motivations, they are theocrats. If gawd and jeezeus rule on earth, someone has to be his/their spokesman. He who is the voice of gawd and jeezeus gets to be in charge. It’s a power grab any way you look at it.

What beliefs did she have that precluded the Bering Strait migration?

Native American, I would guess.

Most of their creation myths declare that they didn’t migrate here from anywhere else – they were here right from the beginning.

When I hear about a creationist teacher like this, I really wonder why they’re teaching science. I refuse to believe someone educated enough to get their certificate (no snide comments about teaching schools here, please) doesn’t know enough about science to know what is and isn’t science. It is really an intent by the teacher (as Flint says), to preach. Personally, I think the hoped-for result is for the teacher to be removed from science teaching.

It is really a competency and ethics issue. If they can’t teach science as the scientific community recognises it FOR WHATEVER REASON, they shouldn’t be in the classroom. I’d say the same thing if the teacher was teaching Shakespeare in a biology class, or if a PE instructor was trying (unsuccessfully) to teach calculus (and yes, I know it’s a stereotype). This teacher is incompetent and should be removed from the classroom.

Many religious people don’t take the religion seriously enough to stand up against science. They trust science and do a little ‘reinterpretation’ of whatever wrong thing the religion says. But not all religious people do this. Some, like Paul Nelson IIRC, take religion seriously. They believe that their religion gives them real, infallible knowledge about the world. Since science is fallible, it must be wrong in a disagreement between the two. If you ask Paul Nelson what science says about the age of the earth, he says “Science says it’s old, and science is therefore wrong.” So to answer the question of why they’re teaching science, they believe that science is a useful, if inferior method of understanding the world. Useful to answer those questions the bible didn’t specify, like what the refractive index of glass is, perhaps.

In my h.s. biology class the teacher overheard me explaining to a fellow student what natural selection and descent with modification meant. This subject was not covered in the curriculum so I am not sure how the subject came up. But in anycase the teacher interupted me and informed us that this was incorrect and that recent developments in biology showed that Darwin’s theory had been disproven.

I was quite curious after that to learn what theory had replaced these ideas. It was’nt until years later that it occurred to me that this teacher must have been a creationist.

When I hear about a creationist teacher like this, I really wonder why they’re teaching science.

Well, teaching is a tough job with crappy pay and long hours (except during the summer). Schools sometimes have to take whatever they can get, and sometimes what they get is someone with a religious agenda. Not bashing teachers in general, just stating fact.

Also, some states require teachers to be certified in a subject area, but don’t require that they teach only subjects for which they are certified (or to put it another way, allow teachers to teach subjects for which they don’t have subject-level certification).

Dizzy, good teachers shouls be able to competently teach a subject they aren’t degreed in. Seriously. Some can’t but most can. Believe me. My wife is a teacher (middle School) with a Bachelors in Geology and a Masters in Ed. She has taught lots of things and done it well. Some other good teachers I have seen, teaching absolute garbage and not necessarily knowing the material, have taught their students how to think more than degreed individuals. It may not be the same across the country but I think teachers really aren’t the problem…

… It’s the parents :)

Lou FDC said: “Whatever their motivations, they are theocrats. If gawd and jeezeus rule on earth, someone has to be his/their spokesman. He who is the voice of gawd and jeezeus gets to be in charge. It’s a power grab any way you look at it.”

Well, but that’s the function of religion.

The existence of religion has nothing to do with the possible existence of some kind of deity in the universe. Religions would exist whether there was such a being or not. All religions were invented by human beings for human purposes, and the thing they work *best* for is to allow the few to control the many.

I agree with those who suggest that religion is a bad thing. Any institution that promotes “faith-based” decision making is rotton. Believing through faith simply means believing for no better reason than that someone *tells* you to believe. Any institution which sees some kind of virtue in this will never advance the human condition. And of course, promoting the virtues of believing through faith is the ultimate tool for getting people to do what you want them to do.

There are many wonderful, very religious people out there. There have been many wonderful things accomplished by these people. But those things were accomplished by *good people*, not via the religious nature of the organization that brought those people together.

And of course, few of us can possibly be unaware of the vast number of atrocities which have been promoted by and in the names of various religions.

IMO, there’s nothing that could more materially improve the human condition than the eradication of all religions.

Lynn

All religions were invented by human beings for human purposes, and the thing they work *best* for is to allow the few to control the many.

Hmmmm. It doesn’t appear as though Zen Buddhism has done very well at controlling anybody . … .

But then, I’ve always thought that ECONOMICS is the best way for the few to control the many. Just take a look at the distribution of wealth in, say, Guatemala or Saudi Arabia. Or the US.

;)

IMO, there’s nothing that could more materially improve the human condition than the eradication of all religions.

I’m curious —- how would this have helped, say, to overthrow the undemocratic regimes in the former Soviet Union? Or China? How would “eradicating” religions there (how do you plan on doing that, anyway, lining them all up and shooting them?) help improve the condition of the humans there?

Just curious.

But not all religious people do this. Some, like Paul Nelson IIRC, take religion seriously. They believe that their religion gives them real, infallible knowledge about the world. Since science is fallible, it must be wrong in a disagreement between the two.

Some religious people take their religion very seriously, especially those parts about telling the facts straight, telling the truth, studying God’s creation, and the importance of helping neighbors, feeding them, helping the poor out of poverty, and healing the sick and diseased.

And consequently they stand up for evolution and all other science. They stand up for modern medicine with all its evolution-inspired insights, they stand up for modern agriculture (while railing against abuses of the land, air and water). They stand up for science research, asking “I wonder where it will lead?” instead of railing against how it might conflict with a crabbed interpretation of scripture.

There is no scripture, in any faith, that asks followers to go bellow at school boards against the teaching of science.

Who really takes religion seriously?

William L. Kincade said:

Last year, my daughter who was in the 7th grade in Big Spring, Texas had a science teacher who announced before the entire class that she did not believe in evolution. A history teacher also announced before the entire class that any narrative concerning prehistoric migration across the Bearing Strait was incorrect according to her beliefs.

Welcome to my world.

My fifth grade teacher opened the science unit on evolution by saying he was not sure if he believed it, but it was in the book, the district’s curriculum writers insisted it was good, and the state wanted us to learn it, so we had to pass the test to get credit for that unit. I think he followed the suggested lesson plans exactly. In any case, I got it then, and it has ever since been a mystery to me why such clear science should be so difficult for the DI 500 to figure out. I was shocked to get to college and have kids in Bio 101 complain about it, and astounded when I got to Washington, D.C., and saw the stacks of letters to legislators and government agencies complaining against evolution.

I hope the teachers in Big Spring at least follow the Texas TEKS, which require that students understand evolution, first:

19 TAC Section 112.43(b)(1):

In Biology, students conduct field and laboratory investigations, use scientific methods during investigations, and make informed decisions using critical-thinking and scientific problem-solving. Students in Biology study a variety of topics that include: structures and functions of cells and viruses; growth and development of organisms; cells, tissues, and organs; nucleic acids and genetics; biological evolution; taxonomy; metabolism and energy transfers in living organisms; living systems; homeostasis; ecosystems; and plants and the environment.

And 19 TAC Section 112.43(b)(7):

Science concepts. The student knows the theory of biological evolution. The student is expected to:

(A) identify evidence of change in species using fossils, DNA sequences, anatomical similarities, physiological similarities, and embryology; and

(B) illustrate the results of natural selection in speciation, diversity, phylogeny, adaptation, behavior, and extinction.

There is more: http://www.tea.state.tx.us/rules/ta[…]/ch112c.html

Texas 7th Grade history is Texas history – and there is no requirement there that kids learn about human migration to the Americas in the standards (check the standards here: http://www.tea.state.tx.us/rules/ta[…]/ch113b.html). The texts may cover it, as preparation for high school geography and world history. I’m curious what course that statement was made in, and in what context. The issues are covered in more detail in 9th grade world geography.

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This page contains a single entry by Matt Young published on March 6, 2006 7:10 PM.

Writeup on Eric Rothschild in the Pennsylvania Gazette was the previous entry in this blog.

Applications of Evolution - More on the gall wasp is the next entry in this blog.

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