ACSI v. Stearns, aka Wendell Bird vs. UC

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It looks like Wendell Bird‘s lawsuit against the University of California is going to trial. This is the lawsuit bought by some private Christian high schools (Association of Christian Schools International et al., or ACSI) against the U.C. (Roman Stearns, special assistant to the U.C. president, et al.), protesting the fact that the U.C. doesn’t give credit for certain courses taught at these private schools. Not all of the classes involved are science classes, but the science classes at issue make use of Bob Jones University textbooks which are full of fake fundamentalist “science.” Private religious high schools have the right to teach whatever silliness they want (although even many private Christian schools teach evolution without problems), but it is rather dubious to assert that a top institution like the U.C. should be forced to drop all of its standards and give credit for classes that teach creationist falsehoods.

NCSE is not involved in this case so I don’t know much more than anyone else about the details of it. The legal issues are rather different than in Kitzmiller v. Dover – here, the creationists are the plaintiffs, and as I understand it, the constitutional issue is not the Establishment Clause but the Free Exercise Clause. ACSI asserts that the U.C.’s standards amount to religious discrimination. However, I do have a rather direct interest in the case myself, since I will be a Ph.D. student at U.C. Berkeley this fall, and will be a teaching assistant in the evolution course. Will the undergraduates that the U.C. admits be prepared, or will they require tedious remedial education to re-do all the biology they were taught incorrectly the first time around?

Through the grapevine, I have heard a few tidbits about the case that will interest people. It looks like the trial will be another battle of the experts:

Plaintiffs (the creationists, represented by famous creationist lawyer Wendell Bird, of Edwards v. Aguillard fame)

* Derek Keenan (of ACSI) – standardized tests * Donald Ericson – various education issues * Paul Vitz – psychologist, History and Government textbooks * Sandra Stotsky – the American Literature anthology * Daniel Guevara – Religion and Ethics Policy * Michael Behe – Biology and Physics textbooks

Defendants:

* Francisco Ayala – UC Irvine, Biology * Donald Kennedy – Stanford, Biology * Gary Nash – UCLA, History * Mark Petracca – UC Irvine, Political Science * John Douglass – UC Berkeley, history of the UC’s a-g requirements * Michael Kirst – Stanford, Education * Samuel Otter – UC Berkeley, English * Robert Sharf – UC Berkeley, Religion

You read that correctly, our buddy Michael J. Behe is going to testify on behalf of the Bob Jones University science textbooks! Here’s the guy’s 72-page expert report. (It is mirrored in the ACSI v. Stearns folder at NCSE’s Evolution Education and Law website – feel free to post elsewhere, it is a largish PDF and we don’t want to crash these sites.)

Let’s have a look at the textbooks Behe is defending:

Life is God’s most marvelous and complex creation. Biology: God’s Living Creation presents life as God created it and now controls it. Historically, biology was the first major area of assault in the American classroom as evolution permeated the schools in the 1920s. Even today, evolutionism poisons biology textbooks and distracts from God’s glory in creation. high school students need to understand God’s living creation from a Biblical perspective, as God created it, and as man has learned of it.

This textbook is unique – different form any other biology text in print today. The study of life is presented in a traditional manner as it was discovered by the great naturalists of the past, a large majority of whom revered the Biblical account of Creation. Unlike other texts, which begin by confusing students with intangible, unseen, and theoretical topics such as biochemistry, subcellular structure, genetics, and philosophy, Biology: God’s Living Creation motivates students to learn by first presenting the living world around them.

[…]

Evolution is presented for what it is – a retreat from science. Students and teachers alike will feel more comfortable when they realize that it is not biology that is in conflict with Scripture, but rather the ungodly philosophy of some biologists.

Since the day that Darwinism invaded the classrooms, God’s glory has been hidden from students. Now there is an opportunity in the Christian classroom to declare that glory with Biology: God’s Living Creation.

And that’s just what I got from the very first page of text, the Preface, page iii. On pages 2-3, we have a bunch of Bible quotes and rhetoric about being traditionalist, and the authors mean it. Figure 1.1 divides biology neatly into…”Zoology”, “Anatomy and physiology”, and “Botany.” Yep, that covers it!

Chapter 1 is botany, done in the way of old-fashioned Linnean taxonomy plus an ag- and industry-heavy “practical” view of plants. However, it’s not all practical – p. 22 is an extended quote from Modern Science and the Genesis Record by Harry Rimmer, a leading evangelist/creationist from the mid-20th century. Every blade of grass, we learn, “shouts the fact of design” (p. 22, emphasis original). Maybe Behe’s support is not so surprising after all…

Skipping ahead to p. 88, we get to the old creationist “Species versus Kinds” distinction (well, this was actually invented by the Seventh-Day Adventist Frank Lewis Marsh in the 1940s once he and other creationists realized just how hopeless it was to maintain the fixity of species, but whatever). Here students learn:

The Biblical “kind” is usually a broader category than our modern term “species.” [the “usually” is there because for humans, species = kind for Biblical reasons – NJM] For example, it is likely that the gray wolf, the red wolf, the coyote, the dingo, the jackal, and the domestic dog (six different species) all belong to the same Biblical kind, and that they all trace their lineage to a single pair of canines. (Although these animals rarely interbreed in the wild, they can interbreed in captivity and produce fertile offspring.) Likewise, the domestic cat and several species of wild cats may share a common lineage, and we know that dozens of species of sparrows have sprung from the three pairs of sparrows that left the ark. Creationists recognize that the origin of new species within a kind does occur. The origin of new species within a kind, however, is not the same as changing one kind into another.

The “may” and “likely” bits are in there because creationists have found it completely impossible to come up with a rigorous, non-question-begging definition of kind. The creationist “science” of “baraminology” has, if anything, demonstrated that the creationists’ “kinds” are impossible to retrieve from biological data – e.g. an analysis of some asters suggested that they might be one kind – all 20,000 species, from minute herbs to full trees (see Matzke and Gross 2006 for more on “kinds” and their history).

Back to the “traditional” biology on p. 89:

The taxonomic work of Linnaeus was very successful. His basic system is still used today, although there is disagreement among taxonomists as to the number of kingdoms that exist, as Table 5.3 shows.

Table 5.3, by the way, asserts the the five-kingdom model of Plants, Animals, Protists, Fungi, and Monera is the “[s]ystem predominantly used today” (p. 90). If you believe that, I’ve got a covered bridge to sell you. Anyway, the creationist authors don’t much like even the outdated five-kingdom system. They continue:

Some of the disagreement has arisen from the fact that in the mid-1800s, some biologists began to abandon the idea of classifying organisms according to similarity of structure and tried to classify them based on alleged evolutionary kinships instead. Much disagreement has also stemmed from new discoveries about the structure of bacteria and certain other microscopic creatures, which were once assumed to be structurally similar to nonvascular plants but which are now known to be considerably different in structure. However, evne though there is disagreement on the kingdom level, there is much agreement on the other levels of classification. Some biology textbooks place a great deal of emphasis on kingdom classification, but this text does not dwell on the issue and is organized instead according to the basic fields studied by biologists. (emphases original, pp. 89-90)

By “basic fields”, they mean the “you got yur plants, animals, and humans” classification that was established back in chapter 1. Yep, that’s biology for the 21st century U.C. student right there.

Now we’re dealing with conifers. The following gives you a sense of what it’s like to read the book. Various passages contain plodding, repetitive basic descriptions (no organizing theory – theory is bad! Teach facts not theories! Long live naive Baconianism!) but then throw in something really wild just to make sure you are paying attention. For example:

Conifers are among some of the largest trees in the world. The Douglas fir is one of the biggest trees, reaching a height of almost 300 feet.1 It is native to the western United States and Canada,2 where it forms great forests. The giant sequoia [se.kwoi’a]3 in central California is another huge conifer; some of these trees are among the oldest living things on earth. The ages of many of these trees are estimated at between 2,000 and 3,500 years, and the gnarled bristlecone pines of California’s White Mountains4 – some of the oldest living things on earth – were already seedlings when Abram left Ur of the Chaldees to go to the Promised Land. The coast redwood is very similar to the giant sequoia and also grows in California and Oregon.5 These redwood trees are some of the tallest living things on earth – some are nearly 370 feet tall.6 The conifers furnish us with softwood lumber, the chief source of building materials for houses, doors, frames, panels, boxes, posts, planks, and beams.7 (pp. 92-93, formatting original)

[Gratuitous comments below] 1. 329 feet, actually, but whatever. 2. and Mexico, but whatever. 3. Approximate representation of weird pronunciation characters. 4. And elsewhere, but whatever. 5. Yes, the California coast redwood does sneak into southern Oregon, props to the creationists on that one. 6. Actually, 379.1 feet, but…you know. 7. I prefer to read this as “…panels, boxes, posts, planks…and beams!!!”

The oldest living bristlecones are ~4,700 years old, but counting dead trees, we have a continuous record going back 11,000 years, so I guess there was already a pretty good bristlecone forest up in the White Mountains when Abram left Ur.

After gymnosperms we have the other basal seed plants:

In 1994, a grove of unusual conifers was found growing in a rain forest in the deep recesses of Australia’s Wollemi National Park. In the fossil record, these trees (dubbed Wollemi pines) are often found in the same strata as the dinosaurs. Wollemi pines have unusual knobby-textured bark and waxy, fernlike leaves. In size, they are comparable to other pines, the largest living tree discovered so far is about 130 feet tall.

[…]

Fossil remains [of cycads] show that many varieties of cycads once lived which are not found today. As with many other kinds of plants and animals that lived in the past, they were destroyed by a major worldwide catastrophe such as the Flood of Noah’s time. The environment was apparently so changed by this event that most cycads were unable to reestablish themselves and became extinct.

[…]

The gingko is a species of gymnosperm known as a “living fossil,” because it is the only living species in its group. As with the cycads, most gingko species apparently did not survive the post-Flood environment.

By now you get the idea. I just went through part of the plants section and I don’t have the stomach to do everything else, but rest assured that all the other usual creationist stuff is in there – e.g., a page and a half of William Jennings Bryan (pp. 364-365, e.g. “If [common ancestry] were true, we would all be murderers if we swatted a fly or killed a bedbug, for we would be killing our kin, and we would be cannibals whenever we ate any of the mammals.”); “No true ‘missing links’ have ever been found to bridge the gaps between different kinds of organisms” (p. 367), “there is not a single place on the earth where you can go and see the geologic column” (emphasis original, totally bogus of course); “From a Biblical perspective, all of these ‘transitional forms’ can be considered either 100% ape or 100% human” (emphasis original, p. 376, also totally bogus).

This junk may make the Discovery Institute’s Paul Nelson proud, but why should the University of California give admission credit for it, since the Earth is not young, there was no global Flood, and common ancestry is massively supported by dozens of different independently testable lines of evidence? The U.C. might as well give Geography credit for a flat-earth class.

What does Michael Behe, expert biology/physics witness for the creationists, say when reviewing these books? Nothing much except “[I]t is also important to keep in mind that being generally accepted by the scientific community is no guarantee that a concept or purported fact is correct […]” (p. 28).

References

Matzke, N., and Gross, P. (2006). “Analyzing Critical Analysis: The Fallback Antievolutionist Strategy.” Chapter 2 of Not in Our Classrooms: Why Intelligent Design is Wrong for Our Schools. Scott, E., and Branch, G., eds., Beacon Press, pp. 28-56.

Gregory Parker, Keith Graham, Delores Shimmin, George Thompson (1997). Biology: God’s Living Creation (2nd edition; 1st edition 1986). Published by: A Beka Book: A Ministry of Pensacola Christian College, Pensacola, FL., pp. 1-672.

Some of the other creationist books at issue are:

William S. Pinkston, Jr. (1999). Biology for Christian Schools (2nd edition, 1st edition 1991). Bob Jones University Press, Greenville, SC, pp. 1-694.

Rosemary A. Lasell and Paul Wilt (1998). Physics for Christian Schools. (listed as “copyright 1987, 1998”, but no indication that this is a 2nd edition). Bob Jones University Press, Greenville, SC, pp. 1-614.

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It’s been a few days since this was front and center, triggered by the presentation of an expert report by Dr. Michael Behe, but I wanted to write a few notes about the issue of admissions at UC and homeschooling. There’s an article ACSI v... Read More

91 Comments

I thought Behe defended ID. Doesn’t he see the problem in defending an out-of-the-closet Literal Creationist text?

And that’s just scary. Considering how these guys view the word “theoretical”, that they call “biochemistry, subcellular structure, and genetics” theoretical…I just don’t have any words.

“Conifers furnish us with soft lumber”- oh, so *that’s* why they’re there! To be exploited by the lumber industry! I thought it was ‘cause God delighted in creating them, or maybe even that they fufill a specialized niche in the ecosystem. No, it’s because the religious right that supports these beliefs also has to remember not to cheat on it’s friend, big business.

Long live cannibalism.

OT http://sonic.net/bristlecone/Martyr.html

Late in the year of 1964 a young geographer, Donald R. Currey, a student at this university [University of North Carolina], who was working toward his doctorate, was in the Southwest searching for evidence of Ice Age glaciers. The Wheeler Peak glacier and related phenomena attracted him. When this student and his associate came upon the bristlecones at the timberline, they began to take core samples from several trees, discovering one to be over 4,000 years old! Needless to say they were excited, and at some point, their only coring tool broke. The end of the field season was nearing. They asked for and I still can’t believe it!were granted permission by the U.S. Forest Service to cut the tree down. It was “Prometheus”. After cutting the trunk at a convenient level, which happened to be more than eight feet above the original base, 4,844 rings were counted. This student had just killed the oldest living thing on earth! Eventually, dendrochronologist Don Graybill determined the tree to be 4,862 years of age.

OT but I just received my Wollemi pine to plant in the garden. It sure is a weird looking pine, very cool.

Michael

After what Behe endured during the Kitzmiller v. Dover fiasco, I can only imagine how much the plaintiffs agreed to pony up in order for him to take another beating like that. Will he be charging per hour or per new a**hole?

The last page of the expert report says Behe is getting $20,000 for his participation…

The last page of the expert report says Behe is getting $20,000 for his participation…

(From the last page – emphasis added)

The compensation to be paid for the study and deposition testimony, excluding trial testimony, is $20,000.

It looks like Behe *did* learn something from his Kitzmiller beating. :) :)

I’ve been teaching using the Miller and Levine “dragonfly” book over the past several months, and my estimation of the book has risen considerably. In the little things, it is accurate, accurate, accurate, and that makes things just a heck of a lot easier.

I’ve also looked at the Bob Jones books, and found them botanically challenged. In the little details, the ones where Mies van der Rohe said God lives (sorry, P.Z.), the Miller and Levine book holds up.

I hope the defendants will get into some of those issues. For example, in the ecology sections, going over the nitrogen cycle, good biology texts get into some detail, such as the fact that legumes are a key part of the cycle, with their arrangement with bacteria that convert atmospheric nitrogen to plant-usable nitrogen. So a kids asks about the reality of such application in the field: Can legumes really be all that effective, worldwide, considering that legumes examples offered are only a few plants, like peas, clover, and alfalfa? A dive into a decent botanical text reveals that legumes have 600 genera and more than 13,000 species, including acacia, cassia, loco weed, honey locust, etc., etc. Smart alec kid then asks about the probability that such diversity could evolve, and we look at the Hawaiian silver sword “alliance.” Trees, peas and loco weed? Why not?

Now, I’m not sure exactly how the Bob Jones text treats the nitrogen cycle, but I’ll bet it can’t explain speciation that makes 13,000 different legumes over the face of the Earth, especially not with a flood thrown in in the past 200,000 years (and the book doesn’t allow for such timespans). In short, Miller and Levine take Mark Twain’s advice about not lying, so then not having to remember all the lies in order to try to spin a nearly-straight story later. Pick any aspect of biology and chase down the reality of it, especially in diversity and number of species. The Bob Jones books become cartoonish, misleading masquerades of a biology book. I took the nitrogen cycle, which is reasonably fossil free. The phosphorus cycle involves rocks and fossil sources, not to mention guano. Is there any possible explanation for the phosphates on Nauru that could be offered by a Bob Jones text? (http://www.un.int/nauru/economic_paradise.html) And if a kid comes in with a reference showing a few hundred different species of elephants are known from antiquity, how does the Bob Jones book suggest a teacher answer within the ethical standards of Christians?

It’s possible to deliver a high school course without much detail, which might fuzz up enough of the problems of creationism so that kids could pass most state-mandated science tests, and not do so badly on the SAT that it would make them look like total fools. But I can’t figure out how such a course could be delivered ethically. I’d like to see a year’s set of lesson plans for the Bob Jones book.

After Pennsylvania, Nick, is there not a real possibility that the defendants are paying Behe to be the witness for the plaintiffs?

Excuse my ignorance, but what is the classification system that is predominantly used today? (Plants, Animals, .…. ?)

Nick Matzke Wrote:

Table 5.3, by the way, asserts the the five-kingdom model of Plants, Animals, Protists, Fungi, and Monera is the “[s]ystem predominantly used today” (p. 90). If you believe that, I’ve got a covered bridge to sell you.

Forgive my ignorance, but what is the preferred classification system today?

Lenny Flank has a very good essay on “biblical kinds”:

http://www.geocities.com/CapeCanave[…]37/kinds.htm

From Lenny’s essay:

This definition–a created “kind” consists of organisms which interbreed and produce fertile young–seems to be the most commonly cited among creationists

The definition we have seen of a created “kind” is, moreover, unworkable in its own terms. A horse and a donkey are universally held by creationists to be one “kind”, but a horse and a donkey cannot produce fertile offspring. They can breed and produce young, but this progeny, a mule, is completely sterile and cannot reproduce after its “kind”. By the logic of their definition, the creationists would seem to be forced to conclude that horses and donkeys are separate “kinds”. But, since horses and donkeys are so obviously related by evolutionary descent, the creationists cannot have this either, since it would establish “evolution between kinds”, which is precisely what they are trying to avoid. (Remember that the creationists accept the existence of evolutionary descent as a mechanism for producing “variation within a kind”.)

Hence, some creationists have now dropped the requirement of “interfertility”, and have asserted that any organisms that can breed with each other and produce offspring, whether fertile or not, constitute a “kind”:

“Creationists have long felt a need for a classification that would include in one consistent category all organisms that interbreed under any conditions.” (David Menton, “Species, Speciation and the Genesis Kind”, Missouri Association for Creation, October 1994)

This definition, however, also produces problems. In the northeastern United States, for example, are found two species of tree frogs, Hyla versicolor and Hyla chrysoscelis. The two are absolutely identical in appearence, and the only way to distinguish them in the field is by their slightly differing mating calls. One of these species is a “polyploid” of the other, that is, it developed from the other species when a chromosomal abnormality left some individuals with twice the normal number of chromosomes. (Polyploidy is a very common means of plants to produce new species–in fact, most domesticated food plants like wheat and rye are polyploids–but is comparitively rare among animals.) There is no doubt that the two frogs share an ancestor/descendent relationship, and that one evolved from the other through polyploidy.

For the creationists to consider these two virtually identical frogs as being of different “kinds” would be absurd on the face of it, since they are so alike they can be distinguished only in the lab, and they obviously share evolutionary descent. So naturally, the creationists would like to lump these two species together as “variations” within one “created kind”. But there is a problem for the creationists–the two Hyla species do not, and, because of their chromosomal differences, cannot, interbreed. Not only do they not produce any fertile offspring–they are incapable of producing any offspring at all.

Once again, the creationists must either admit the existence of evolution between “kinds”, or they must change their definition of what constitutes a “kind”. Thus, we are finally led to:

“If two organisms breed, even though it is infrequent, they are of the same kind; if they don’t breed but are clearly of the same morphological type, they are of the same kind, by the logic of the axiom which states two things equal to the same thing are equal to each other.” (Wysong, cited in Kitcher, 1982, p. 152)

Some excellent points there, and it shows how absurd the whole concept of “kinds* actually is.

but the science classes at issue make use of Bob Jones University textbooks which are full of fake fundamentalist “science.”

The first minister of the new NI executive received his Honorary doctorate from there. As far as I know he’s a YEC as his church actively promotes it. Fortunately for us, Sinn Fein holds the Education portfolio so hopefully we won’t encounter any problems !

Do they have a clause where payment for testimony is dependent on the testimony? I can see paying for the deposition, but what is Behe’s testimony going to be worth when it all falls apart in the cross examination?

The plaintiffs may dance around the bogus parts of the textbooks, but they can’t expect the defense to do that.

I do not think that Behe will make it to the witness stand. They would be stupid to put someone up that knows how bogus the science materials are. Can the defense make Behe testify as a hostile witness once he gives his deposition? If it is put into the court record they have to have their chance to rebut.

Just think what the fact that Behe doesn’t deny that biological evolution happened and that he can testify to that fact and how this topic is distorted in the books. Does anyone think that Behe can give them a pass without perjuring himself on their YEC claims? What will he do, plead the fifth? Can he refuse to answer certain questions because it would make getting easy money like this harder to come by if he becomes a negative asset?

Remember when the creationists brought in Wichramasinge (spelling?) for the Arkansas trial and he ended up calling the YEC junk that they wanted to teach claptrap. They brought him in because he had some strange notions about evolution, but they got the whole package that included his weirdo notions that insects were more intelligent than humans, but they were just keeping it a secret. These rubes are going to get the whole package with Behe and the Dover testimony should have told them what to expect.

Incompetence or desperation?

I am not sure whether this reflects the stupidity or cruelty of evolutionists. I know they would relish limiting the employment prospects of young Christians by denying them admission, but they also deny themselves opportunity to convert young Christians to Darwinian debauchery by failing to admit them. Yet, there is a third possibility. They fear the presence of a single Christian armed with the truth of Jesus can take down the entire Darwinian establishment and its Satanic lies, just like Elijah on Mt. Carmel. He could convert so many of his fellow students that the evolutionist faculty could not expel them all, but would have to come to terms with the challenge Christianity poses to their fetid faith.

Pumpkinhead - I am curious. As you write your little hate-filled rants, do you really believe you are doing God’s work? How do you reconcile it with commands like ‘Love your enemy’?

In your last post you referred to Darwinian debauchery. I think I must have missed out on this. What is it exactly?

BTW the ID leadership are trying to keep it quiet that religion is central to their claims. People like you are not helping their cause.

Pumpkinhead said “…blah, blah, blah, fetid faith”. Fetid faith? I fear not futile flatulence from a fool.

Pumpkinhead. Just for you, this is an intelligent rebuttal to your (unintentionally) funny post.

BWA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!

You’re not serious, are you? You’re just having a laugh with us. Right?

Pumpkinhead - I am curious. As you write your little hate-filled rants, do you really believe you are doing God’s work? How do you reconcile it with commands like ‘Love your enemy’?

That command refers only to a man’s personal enemies. The enemies of God deserve no love or mercy. Read John Calvin’s exegesis on this passage for clarity.

In your last post you referred to Darwinian debauchery. I think I must have missed out on this. What is it exactly?,

Well, here is one example. Here is another. There are many more.

BTW the ID leadership are trying to keep it quiet that religion is central to their claims. People like you are not helping their cause.

I serve not the ID Leadership, but only my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

I invoke Russell’s Law on Pumpkinhead.

Pumpkinhead Wrote:

I am not sure whether this reflects the stupidity or cruelty of evolutionists. I know they would relish limiting the employment prospects of young Christians by denying them admission, but they also deny themselves opportunity to convert young Christians to Darwinian debauchery by failing to admit them. Yet, there is a third possibility. They fear the presence of a single Christian armed with the truth of Jesus can take down the entire Darwinian establishment and its Satanic lies, just like Elijah on Mt. Carmel. He could convert so many of his fellow students that the evolutionist faculty could not expel them all, but would have to come to terms with the challenge Christianity poses to their fetid faith.

This has nothing to do with any threat or challenge Christianity poses to science, evolutionary or otherwise.

Many evolutionary scientists are Christians, and to the churches representing most of the world’s Christians there is no conflict between accepting the findings of science in respect of evolution and faith. In fact, the insistence of some creationists that science supports their faith denies the very essence of faith.

If someone wants to believe that the world is 6,000 years old, that’s up to them, but if they claim that this religious conviction is supported by science, they need to present their case in the form of hypotheses which can be tested against the evidence. No creationist has done so or can do so. The evidence shows quite clearly and categorically that the earth is very ancient, that there was no global flood, and that living organisms have evolved over billions of years. Nobody who honestly addresses the evidence can form any other conclusion, and the arguments used by creationists are based on misrepresentation, distortion and outright falsehoods.

This dispute has nothing to do with religion. It is about honesty, and creationists can and have been shown to be systematically dishonest

Nick,

I have read several different news sources about this lawsuit and there are two things I cannot figure out. Can you help me?

1. I have examined the Bob Jones Biology text book for some of the home schoolers in our corner of Michigan and I gave it a grade of C for “crap.” The book treats science as a list of facts to be memorized and does a remarkable job of quashing any interest a young enterprising student might have in science. Secondly, I completely agree with Ed Darrell’s comment that the botany coverage in general is very weak and the ecology section is also poor (althought I am far from an ecologist, being a lab rat). Additionally, its coverage of evolution is very poor and if you add to this the book’s glowing endorsement of creationism and rather biased deprecation of evolution, you get a book whose misery I can extinguish with a well-placed match. Having said that, there are some other secular textbooks out there that are pretty bad too. To the best of your knowlege, does the UC system (of which I am an alum) not accept courses which used some of these other less-than-desirable secular textbooks?

2. If these students are taking college-credit courses and passing standardized tests, does their choice of textbook really matter? One of the best courses I had as an undergraduate at UC Davis was a virology course where we had no textbook but spent all our time reading papers, reviews and abstracts from virology conferences. I learned more in that class than I did in any other class with a textbook. If these students are passing standardized tests, then they could have learned their biology of the back of a cereal box for all we care. Why are they being penalized for their teacher’s lousy textbook choice? Do I have this wrong?

Michael Buratovich

Posted by Pumpkinhead on May 16, 2007 6:43 AM (e) I am not sure whether this reflects the stupidity or cruelty of evolutionists. I know they would relish limiting the employment prospects of young Christians by denying them admission, but they also deny themselves opportunity to convert young Christians to Darwinian debauchery by failing to admit them. Yet, there is a third possibility. They fear the presence of a single Christian armed with the truth of Jesus can take down the entire Darwinian establishment and its Satanic lies, just like Elijah on Mt. Carmel. He could convert so many of his fellow students that the evolutionist faculty could not expel them all, but would have to come to terms with the challenge Christianity poses to their fetid faith.

The defense would like to call Pumpkinhead to the stand..

So, pumpkinhead. What do you say about those who believe in God AND accept evolution?

Michael –

1. I don’t know what textbooks the UC accepts. I gather there is a rather elaborate procedure whereby high schools submit their course descriptions etc. to the UC and then get a reply as to whether or not the course will be accepted as satisfying requirement XYZ for admission to UC. The “standard” biology courses in public schools and probably many private schools use the state science standards and the state-approved textbook lists, I assume these get an automatic pass by the UC.

2. The courses the lawsuit is about are not exactly “college credit” classes, they are classes which might or might not fill an admission requirement for a prospective student. The UC requires prospective students to have X number of English, Math, Science, etc. classes in order to be admitted. However this requirement is not absolute, a student missing some of the classes can still be admitted if, based on test scores or other criteria, the admission staff decides their application merits it.

Nick:

Thanks for the post, I’m going to be eagerly following this case and congratulations on embarking on your Ph.D by the way. UC is clearly in the right here, and forcing them to lower their educational standards in order admit these students would be a huge mistake. I’m all for tolerance, but when it comes to issues like higher education the absurdity of reducing standards is patently obvious. I look forward to future updates.

So, wait… the ACSI wants the University of California to grant credit to students for learning information that is demonstrably false?

Why is this even an issue? If I teach a United States history class claiming that the South won the Civil War, should universities be required to acknowledge that as equally valid?

Nick wrote:

“The UC requires prospective students to have X number of English, Math, Science, etc. classes in order to be admitted. However this requirement is not absolute, a student missing some of the classes can still be admitted if, based on test scores or other criteria, the admission staff decides their application merits it.”

Is there any evidence that students from these private schools do worse on the admission tests than students from schools using state-approved science standards? Is there any evidence that they do worse in classes after admission? Is there any evidence that they are less likely to graduate?

It seems to me that the fact that they come from schools that do not use state standards should be sufficient to deny them admission. If the standards are mandatory, that would simply mean that the school should not be recognized or accredited. Students should be aware of this when deciding to attend such schools.

But of course the issue is undoubtedly much more complicated than that. Any evidence that can be presented supporting the view that these students are not adequately prepared should be brought forward. Admission should based on standard requirements that adequately prepare students, not personal or religious beliefs.

This also raises the issue of whether a University education is a right or a privilege. But perhaps that is too far off topic.

OK, here’s something to worry about.

Are UC enlisting the help of any groups experienced with fighting creationism in the courts? Yes, I know they have a fair fraction of the best scientists in the world at UC, but any scientist who’s ever been tempted into debating a creationist knows that you can simply be dazed by the cascade of b.s. they throw at you. Their legal team needs to know the standard creationist gambits, and how those gambits have been most effectively handled in the past.

This case is important for every university in the country, and I hope they’re taking it seriously enough.

pumpkinhead (re Darwinian debauchery) Wrote:

Well, here is one example. Here is another. There are many more.

Sorry, but I searched both of those articles for “Darwin*” and didn’t find a single mention. Are you saying there was no debauchery prior to Darwin? If I thought for more than a nanosecond, I could probably come up with cases of homosexual rape and cannibalism that occurred pre-Darwin.

Punkinhead: having violated that Commandment against bearing false witness, you are now an enemy of the God you claim to worship (but, clearly, not to obey), and by your own logic, you “deserve no love or mercy.”

Unless, of course, you’re too young to understand the error of your ways, which most of your posts strongly imply.

Gerhard Harbison Wrote:

any scientist who’s ever been tempted into debating a creationist knows that you can simply be dazed by the cascade of b.s. they throw at you. Their legal team needs to know the standard creationist gambits, and how those gambits have been most effectively handled in the past.

But does it work that way though, courts are different? The Dover transcripts looked all right, at places it looked like one envision a typical hunt for a specific nugget of fact.

But of course the legal team need to be good enough, and I hear the Dover team happened to be excellent. [Hmm. Does this count as public suck-up to the poster? Or do I get off punishment on the technicality that there is demonstrably a certain correlation with the posts topic? :-o]

Ed Darrell Wrote:

In the little details, the ones where Mies van der Rohe said God lives (sorry, P.Z.),

Cute - and a new variant for me. But of course even atheists knows who is really supposed to be in the details and who is pushed into the gaps. ;-)

[notme]

Ah, but those GRE’s and MCAT’s were designed by evilutionists!!111!!one!!!

[/notme]

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This page contains a single entry by Nick Matzke published on May 16, 2007 12:25 AM.

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