Freshwater the story continues

| 67 Comments

After the attempts by Coach Daubenmire to defend Freshwater have failed miserably, most recently on Geraldo, an “official site” named “ Bible on the Desk” has been created which claims to be the official site for Freshwater. Its most visible attribute is a Donate button and a FoxNews interview.

The interview asks some good questions and I find it fascinating how Freshwater and his lawyer dance around some of the issues. Discussing the various allegations, the interviewer mentions that Freshwater took his trusty bible to school, that he displayed 10 commandments and other religious verses and that he had been teaching creationism in class.

FreshwaterL “I teach evolution. I am a science teacher, I taught in Idaho and taught evolution there.”

Q: Have you been teaching that [intelligent design] ?

Freshwater: “Let me first teach you something. We have three categories evolution, intelligent design, over here we have creation. I teach evolution, I do not teach ID, I do not teach creationism”.

Three categories?.… Interesting and telling distinction.

So did Freshwater teach Intelligent Design?

Let’s compare the statement on Fox News with the following news article:

Pastor Matolyak said the entire ordeal started five years ago when Freshwater raised a question to his students about intelligent design. Freshwater was covering the theory in his classroom, just as he was covering the theory of evolution, when he received complaints about the inclusion of intelligent design in his curriculum. Meetings ensued with the principal, superintendent, and eventually the school board, which shot down his argument that intelligent design, like the theory of evolution, should be taught as a creation theory. Freshwater then agreed to stop teaching the theory and has not done so since.

Source: Tim Waggoner Teacher Fired for Refusing to Remove Bible from Desk, Allegedly Teaching Religion in Class

The investigative report finds that

There is a significant amount of evidence that Mr. Freshwaters’ teachings regarding subjects related to evolution were not consistent with the curriculum of the Mount Vernon City Schools and State standards. Contrary to Mr. Freshwater’s statement, the evidence indicates he has been teaching creationism and intelligent design and has been teaching the unreliability of carbon dating in support of opposition to evolution. He has passed out materials to students for the past several years challenging evolution and then collecting the materials back from the students. He has done so in spite of specific directives not to teach creationism or intelligent design. He has taught students to use the code word “Here” to challenge scientific process that is considered settled by the high school science teachers.

and

Mr. Freshwater gave an extra credit assignment for students to view the movie “Expelled” which does involve intelligent design.

and

Dr. Weston stated that she has had to deal with internal and external complaints about his failure to follow the curriculum for much of her 11 years at Mount Vernon. It has come to her attention many times. She has reported these events to administrators and there have been some attempts to make changes and other instances where they seem to have been disregarded, particularly by one former assistant principal. She said that Mr. Freshwater cannot separate creationism/intelligent design from teaching to the science standards. She stated Mr. Freshwater has a lot of influence with his students that causes her concern.

Former Superintendent Jeff Maley said he had received informal complaints regarding Mr. Freshwaters’ teaching creationism/intelligent design rather than evolution. When he had such circumstances with Mr. Freshwater he would tell him not to teach creationism or intelligent design. He stated he never had complaints concerning any other teacher like the ones concerning Mr. Freshwater. He tried to find another position for Mr. Freshwater, but could not do so because he was only certified in science.

A current student said that Mr. Freshwater would throw out both sides of issues, such as the big bang theory, intelligent design, carbon dating and evolution. When asked, Mr. Freshwater would offer his personal opinion such as I believe there was a boat in a flood. He also taught that you can’t trust radiometric dating.

One student indicated Mr. Freshwater discussed the meaning of Good Friday and Easter during a class when the phases of the moon were discussed and how it affected when Easter occurs. The Middle School Principal and Superintendent questioned Mr. Freshwater and he acknowledged to them, contrary to our interview, that he “might have discussed” the meaning of Easter and Good Friday, including the “Resurrection,” for one or two minutes. The Superintendent advised Mr. Freshwater that was one or two minutes too long.

The investigators found the following material in the second cupboard in the front of the room during a walk through of Mr. Freshwaters’ classroom on May 15, 2008:

· A book titled “Refuting Evolution” · A video tape titled “Lies In The Textbooks, Part A 4 Of 7, 10 Lies Of Evolution” · A book titled “Evolution Of A Creationist” · A book titled “The Real Meaning Of The Zodiac” · A book titled “Icons of Evolution”

An interesting selecting of materials indeed.

When asked about the branding, Freshwater responded:

“I did not John Freshwater did not brand anybody. That is not truth. I did not brand anybody. ‘

Q: “So someone made it up? “

Lawyer: “You have seen a picture that has been purported to be a particular mark, somebody has put the cross designation on that particular mark. John very thoroughly explained not only to the investigators but to anybody who will listen. Hedid not burn, branded or made any kind of religious symbol on anybody. Not himself, not his family and certainly not a student in a public school system. There has not been any medical deduced indicating that that actual mark…

Q: I am just asking, that wasn’t the result of any scientific experiment designed to put a cross so that you could promote your religious beliefs, that’s what I am reading that’s what I am hearing

Lawyer: He did not design to put a cross on that particular arm. He very thoroughly explained that on many different occasions.

Q: Was the cross or the X the result from an experiment you performed on a student.

Lawyer: There was a particular experiment he has been doing for 21 years. And John will speak more precisely to that. But let’s not load the question with an improper premise that he branded a religious symbol upon anybody. He conducted the same scientific experiment that he in addition to several other teachers did in Mt Vernon.

In other words, there was a “science experiment” which involved marking the arms of students which had been performed by Freshwater for 21 years as well as other teachers. The question(s) now remain: Was the mark an “X” or a cross?

In the investigative report the following statement is made

He said that he uses the device about twice a year and has done so for 21 years. At the end of the experiment the kids are excited and ask if they can touch it. He said that he demonstrates it on his own arm by making an “X” and then lets them touch it voluntarily. He said that the incident in question occurred in December 2007. He remembers getting from 3 to 8 volunteers, but couldn’t remember the order or all of the names.

As to the nature of the mark, the report alleges that

The current or former students that were interviewed that had participated in the December 2007 incident or other similar incidents in earlier years described the demonstration in the same manner as had Mr. Freshwater with one exception. They all described the mark Mr. Freshwater put on his arm as a “cross”. One student stated Mr. Freshwater would mark the student with a cross unless the student requested a different type of marking. It was the default mark. The pictures below were provided by the parents.

and the summary of findings

Summary Of Findings

Mr. Freshwater did improperly use an electrostatic device on the student who filed the complaint and other students in his science class in a manner that was not in compliance with the manufacturer’s instructions. While there did not appear to be any intent by Mr. Freshwater to cause injury to any student, he was not using the device for its intended purpose. Contrary to Mr. Freshwater’s statement he simply made an “X” not a “cross,” all of the students described the marking as a “cross” and the pictures provided depict a “cross”.

See also Ohio town split over teacher accused of preaching for a recent Fox News article on “Freshwater”.

67 Comments

Well, now. Seems it’s the religious community, “The Community Council for Free Expression (of what?)” supporting Freshwater’s claims to teaching science. But where’s the Dishonesty Institute in all of this? Hey, try freely expressing yourself by teaching evolution to the Sunday school at the Trinity Assembly of God.

Donations can be made via the PayPal links throughout this website or by sending a check to:

The Community Council for Free Expression c/o Trinity Assembly of God yadda, yadda

Freshwater is a professed Christian so clearly he could not be lying.

The ‘cross’ is obviously a reproduction of the Laminin protein. It’s a shame future students will be denied the pleasure of having one burned into their skin.

DavidK Wrote:

But where’s the Dishonesty Institute in all of this?

Thank you. I kept asking that for a week after the story broke. Someone far better at searching than I found complete silence. I rechecked their main sites recently and still found nothing. Which makes sense. If they criticize him - and they have plenty reason since he undermines their strategy perhaps better than anyone - they alienate their base, but if they defend him, they wasted decades of effort to distance themselves from classic creationism.

Nevertheless, I figure they will eventually say something, neither criticism nor defense of Freshwater, but to spin it as “hysterical” reaction of “Darwinists.”

Aside from all of Freshwater’s assorted unconstitutional religious activities in the classroom - concentrate on the branding: Why is a teacher who brands anything on a student not tarred and feathered - and “Expelled”?

And why has he not been charged with physical assault on a minor? Where are the police in all this?

How can this lunatic be allowed to be a teacher, or even come into contact with children?

As usual, the lies are mutually contradictory.

Which is it? Is he being wrongly persecuted because he “should” be allowed to teach ID, and “rightly” did so? Or because he has no intention of teaching ID, and has been falsely accused of doing so?

Is he being persecuted for branding students with the Holy Sign of the Cross? Or did he merely brand them with an “X” as an “experiment”? Or did he not brand them at all, in which case they must have branded themselves and then lied about it?

It can’t be all of this at once, can it?

I guess he started out with the idea of defiant “Sure I preach the Holy Gospel as science, you got a problem with that?” defense. Then he understandably lost his nerve, dumped the “coach”, and is now squealing “Holy Gospel? Me? Why I teach only evolution and I never brand anyone!”

This is the most thorough of all the Freshwater blogs/articles I have read. Good Job!

Here’s the unambiguous tip off…

There was a particular experiment he has been doing for 21 years.

I’ve never heard freshwater, his lawyers or his apologists complete this sentence.

If this were legitimate in any way, this sentence would always have read “This was a particular experiment to demonstrate _________ .”

For any real scientist, this is simply the core of any experiment - what does it show?

As in… “This experiment demonstrates what happens when a base and an acid react.”

“This experiment shows how blood typing works. “

“This experiment measures the period of pendulums”

This “experiment” was about branding little Christians.

The fact that he can’t complete a sentence used millions of times a day in legitimate classrooms all over the world speaks volumes.

This guy is going down, and fast. Changing his story like this is only going to make matters worse. There’s too much evidence and too many newspaper stories from the past, describing the opposite of what he is currently saying today.

Seriously, the school board has copies of hand outs he gave to students that ask the question “Is there an I.D. involved.”, and hand outs from “All about God ministries” I can’t imagine lying to the media is going to get him browny points with anyone. I have to say though, -10 points to fox news for letting him tell such ridiculous lies.

http://www.electrotechnicproduct.co[…]requency.asp

Accessories for the device he used show no candidates for an ‘x’ tip, which implies to me that either he had to use the ‘T’ tip twice to make the mark, or created his own tip. That a large amount of effort would be spent on intentionally creating a meaningless ‘x’ symbol seems highly implausible.

I almost feel bad making this comment. The guy is so pathetic I’m almost starting to feel sorry for him.

Also, my comment could be mistaken as mockery of someone’s religion. It isn’t, it’s just a comical observation on Freshwater’s behavior.

But anyway - he’s got the worst of both worlds now. Screwed with both the worldly authorities AND his God.

He can’t get his job back by lying and denying his past actions here; the evidence is too strong.

But of course, by recanting and denying his efforts to spread The Word, merely to keep a lousy teacher job, he has denied the very faith that he claimed to be promoting.

So now, the school board has to fire him for doing it.

And God must cast him into the Lake of Fire, for denying doing it. He could have simply stated that he still held his Christian beliefs, but now understood that Christianity did not need to deny science, and that it was deeply misguided to brand the crosses or proselytize in public schools. Obviously, the physical abuse, although apparently mild, exiges strong action, but he might have negotiated a departure with some kind of severance package if he had been both honest and contrite. I can’t see someone with any history of inappropriate physical contact with students retaining any kind of professional license under any circumstances, but honest, dignified remorse would have done wonders.

Instead, at first he disdained contrition, and then he panicked and abandoned honesty.

Paul Burnett IMO- hits the nail on the head. Even if Mr. Freshwater’s actions were religiously motivated … it shouldn’t have anything to do with the case.

“I shot that guy in the head because he looked at me funny.”

“Well, he shouldn’t have looked at you funny.It’s most definitely his fault then. I don’t know why everyone is picking on you.”

It’s illegal to shoot people AND it’s illegal to brand people. Who gives a crap what the motivation is.

Lawyer: There was a particular experiment he has been doing for 21 years. And John will speak more precisely to that. But let’s not load the question with an improper premise that he branded a religious symbol upon anybody. He conducted the same scientific experiment that he in addition to several other teachers did in Mt Vernon.

In other words, there was a “science experiment” which involved marking the arms of students which had been performed by Freshwater for 21 years as well as other teachers. The question(s) now remain: Was the mark an “X” or a cross?

All I can say is that if these types of actions were widespread within a school in NI the school itself would be reported to the authorities (initially Social Services, possible criminal prosecutions pending). Whether the mark is interpreted as a cross or an X is completely irrelevant.

Now that Freshwater is claiming other teachers have participated in this so called experiment over the last 21 years does this mean there will be more sackings/investigations ?

Larry Boy said: Accessories for the device he used show no candidates for an ‘x’ tip, which implies to me that either he had to use the ‘T’ tip twice to make the mark, or created his own tip. That a large amount of effort would be spent on intentionally creating a meaningless ‘x’ symbol seems highly implausible.

You have missed the point, (so to speak). The device is pictured at http://www.electrotechnicproduct.com/pinhole.html . He used the device like a Magic Marker to draw two intersecting lines with sparks on the students’ arms - see, for instance, http://abcnews.go.com/TheLaw/story?id=5214063 for what is obviously NOT an ‘x’.

Sorry to be thick, but what does this mean:

He has taught students to use the code word “Here” to challenge scientific process that is considered settled by the high school science teachers.

When and how exactly is “here” used? Maybe someone could use puppets or something…

And this implies that the alleged branding was voluntary:

He remembers getting from 3 to 8 volunteers, but couldn’t remember the order or all of the names.

Is this being challanged? Or is the point that minors can’t consent to anything?

Of course Fox let him talk. According to them there is battle between conservatives (bible thumpers) and “secular progressives” (godless atheists).

GuyeFaux said: And this implies that the alleged branding was voluntary:

He remembers getting from 3 to 8 volunteers, but couldn’t remember the order or all of the names.

Is this being challanged? Or is the point that minors can’t consent to anything?

While I am not a lawyer, I am quite certain that minors cannot legally consent to physical abuse or mutilation. There may even be case law on this.

(But then there was a national government several decades ago that tattooed numbers on minors, probably without their consent. And their military wore belts with their national symbol and the motto “Gott Mit Uns (“God (Is) With Us”) on the belt buckles (example at http://perdidatemporal.blogspot.com[…]reyente.html ).)

Look, we all may remember the van der Graaf generator which generates high voltages and makes ones hair stand up straight. The device used by freshwater is normally used to detect leaks and when the electrode moves over a leak or imperfection a white spark can be observed. When used on arms it seems to generally generate a minor discoloration which tends to go away quickly.

However, as it is not recommended for such usage, it may cause side effects on some people.

So let’s not exaggerate the issues here.

Paul Burnett said:

Aside from all of Freshwater’s assorted unconstitutional religious activities in the classroom - concentrate on the branding: Why is a teacher who brands anything on a student not tarred and feathered - and “Expelled”?

And why has he not been charged with physical assault on a minor? Where are the police in all this?

How can this lunatic be allowed to be a teacher, or even come into contact with children?

“When used on arms it seems to generally generate a minor discoloration which tends to go away quickly.”

so let’s just ignore all that photographic evidence to the contrary. “who are you going to believe: me, or your own eyes?”

PvM Wrote:

The device used by freshwater is normally used to detect leaks and when the electrode moves over a leak or imperfection a white spark can be observed. When used on arms it seems to generally generate a minor discoloration which tends to go away quickly.

I used to have one of these in my lab. They aren’t particularly dangerous. They are essentially a Tesla coil that ionizes the air with a high frequency, high voltage corona discharge. They just sting a little.

However, I think Freshwater’s use of it wasn’t to do a 21-year “experiment”. What would be the point of such an “experiment”?

Stacy S.

Paul Burnett IMO- hits the nail on the head. Even if Mr. Freshwater’s actions were religiously motivated … it shouldn’t have anything to do with the case.

“I shot that guy in the head because he looked at me funny.”

“Well, he shouldn’t have looked at you funny.It’s most definitely his fault then. I don’t know why everyone is picking on you.”

It’s illegal to shoot people AND it’s illegal to brand people. Who gives a crap what the motivation is.

True, but if you shot the guy in the head and robbed him, it does make a difference. First of all, it means that there are two crimes to consider, which may make a difference. Second of all, it goes to any question of whether you can claim accident or self-defense.

It should always be illegal for teachers to “brand” students with any pattern for any reason, duh, but the illegal presentation of secular dogma as science makes a a difference as well.

First of all, the presence of one illegal act does not negate the existence of another.

And second of all, if he’s known to use taxpayer-funded class time to shill for his personal religion (thus reducing time available for actual science), it makes it more likely that he was branding crosses, and less likely that he was performing a non-religious “experiment”.

What would be the point of such an “experiment”?

I’ll bet he did present the activity as an asinine “experiment”, while secretly manipulating a cross pattern, and then claim that the appearance of a cross pattern was a “miraculous coincidence”.

Fake “miracle” to scare the kids into fundamentalist youth group. That’s my bet.

Maybe Freshwater wasn’t conducting an “experiment” but rather performing a “demonstration” and the lawyer made a poor choice of words? He sounds like a poor dumb f**k. I imagine most of his students held him in contempt. I come from a pretty biblical part of Ohio myself, and outside of our Christian Day School, my fellow teens loathed the god botherers.

harold Wrote:

As usual, the lies are mutually contradictory.

Excellent! Here are a few more examples for those who aren’t convinced.

This guy is just not very bright. Given the evidence presented, he is just a bald-faced liar. Stunning, actually. Surely he can read. Surely he knows what the students have said. There is just no way that the media could have manipulated or distorted the record that much. Heck, the Fox News anchor seemed to be trying to be sympathetic. But then again, an awful lot of these fundies have been taught to have a persecution complex, so maybe he thinks it is justifiable in some sick and twisted way.

mplavcan said:

This guy is just not very bright. Given the evidence presented, he is just a bald-faced liar. Stunning, actually. Surely he can read. Surely he knows what the students have said. There is just no way that the media could have manipulated or distorted the record that much. Heck, the Fox News anchor seemed to be trying to be sympathetic. But then again, an awful lot of these fundies have been taught to have a persecution complex, so maybe he thinks it is justifiable in some sick and twisted way.

I know a few of these characters; and breathtaking inanity barely captures their minds and behaviors. One of them “teaches” computer science, and the students and parents are beside themselves with exasperation and frustration, yet nothing is ever done about him.

I saw him at an invited talk on recent research on brain development (an excellent talk). In the question-and-answer period after the talk, this idiot raised his hand and asks if men were supposed to be considered sexier if they were balding from the front or from the back.

The speaker tried awkwardly to be diplomatic and the moderator finally moved the discussion along. But at the end of the Q&A part, just as the moderator moved to the podium to close the session, the idiot spoke up in a complaining manner saying, “You didn’t answer my question.”

Any time anyone tries to “talk technical” with him, his face goes blank and he changes the subject to something fluffy, often segueing into some religious talk.

He sounds like a poor dumb f**k

Yeah, he does, doesn’t he? I almost feel sorry for the guy. His lawyer isn’t too swift either. “Deny everything” is good advice if you can deny everything. When you can’t, though, it’s terrible advice.

Although he faces no consequences other than unemployment, he is a very rare example of an ID advocate paying something for the fraudulent nonsense they engage in.

The weasely crafty ones just get away with it over and over again, and the only people who pay are the American taxpayers. Dembski is doing well. Not even being charged with trespassing by Baylor - which in my view makes Baylor a rather irresponsible neighbor; nuisance crimes should be pursued by the first victim to spare the rest of the community a repeat performance. Who knows which college he’ll sneak into next? Behe is a tenured professor in a pleasant college town. The “fellows” of the DI are collecting nice salaries in pleasant Seattle and generally enjoying themselves. Cordova may be dumb enough to actually be living as a grad student in Baltimore (*locale of “The Wire”, but that’s not relevant here*), although no doubt he has some money pipeline to the DI. At any rate, he slips into a sweet program that plenty of legitimate, hard-working scholars were probably turned away from.

But every now and then there’s a blue collar dope who believes the talking points, and ends up getting hit by a truck, albeit, usually a small truck. There was that auto body shop clown who got on the school board and ended up getting run out of Dover on a rail. The one the prize is named after. And now there’s this doofus. Guys, if you’re feeling the pinch, Dembski and Behe and Wells are doing okay. Why don’t you ask them for a little Designarian charity? Bwahahahahahaha!

harold said:

It should always be illegal for teachers to “brand” students with any pattern for any reason, duh, but the illegal presentation of secular dogma as science makes a a difference as well.

Granted, but the hurt and loss of trust caused a minor is the major outrage. The creationist crackpot side of this pale in comparison.

But yes, let’s not forget that he is the IDiot who got caught.

PvM said:

When used on arms it seems to generally generate a minor discoloration which tends to go away quickly.

However, as it is not recommended for such usage, it may cause side effects on some people.

That is not that the student seem to have experienced:

Freshwater, according to an independent report, used an electrostatic device to mark a cross on the arm of one of his students, causing pain to the student the night of the incident and leaving a mark that lasted for approximately three weeks.

Pain and a three week healing period means that the branding was rather deep.

I also note that Freshwater failed as a teacher when he showed the students improper use of labeled equipment:

The above device is the BD-10A High Frequency Generator. It is used in science classrooms to ionize contained gases to make them an identifiable color (a really fun lab in normal situations). The tip of this device can put out up to 50,000 volts. There is a warning on the product that says “Never touch or come in contact with the high voltage output of this device”. Which would seem like obvious advice.

Mr. Freshwater, however, decided to apply the device to the skin of several of his eighth grade students. He asked for classroom volunteers who wanted to see how the device worked. Without warning the children that it was going to be used on them and be painful, he pressed it to their skin and left a painful welt behind.

The guy wasn’t using it in corona discharge mode, he was using it as a high voltage high frequency branding equipment.

This makes me curious: obviously these devices are powerful enough to drive chemical reactions. Which might explain the burn - it was chemical. Is it considered safe practice to pour chemicals that cause blistering onto students?

A book titled “The Real Meaning Of The Zodiac”

This made me curious too. An Amazon book review says:

The book contained a lot of interesting information on the early Zodiacs and how they relate to the Christian Gospel.

Science or religion? You judge.

harold said:

Stacy S.

Paul Burnett IMO- hits the nail on the head. Even if Mr. Freshwater’s actions were religiously motivated … it shouldn’t have anything to do with the case.

“I shot that guy in the head because he looked at me funny.”

“Well, he shouldn’t have looked at you funny.It’s most definitely his fault then. I don’t know why everyone is picking on you.”

It’s illegal to shoot people AND it’s illegal to brand people. Who gives a crap what the motivation is.

True, but if you shot the guy in the head and robbed him, it does make a difference. First of all, it means that there are two crimes to consider, which may make a difference. Second of all, it goes to any question of whether you can claim accident or self-defense.

It should always be illegal for teachers to “brand” students with any pattern for any reason, duh, but the illegal presentation of secular dogma as science makes a a difference as well.

First of all, the presence of one illegal act does not negate the existence of another.

And second of all, if he’s known to use taxpayer-funded class time to shill for his personal religion (thus reducing time available for actual science), it makes it more likely that he was branding crosses, and less likely that he was performing a non-religious “experiment”.

You’re right of course. All I was saying is that he should go to jail - no matter what.

Torbjörn Larsson Wrote:

Pain and a three week healing period means that the branding was rather deep.

The guy wasn’t using it in corona discharge mode, he was using it as a high voltage high frequency branding equipment.

As I mentioned before, I had one of these. I don’t know if the later versions have a way to change the high frequency; that is part of what helps produce the high voltage in the secondary of the transformer. And the high frequency usually keeps the current from penetrating very deep.

But, as I mentioned, it stings a little if it is briefly brought in contact with the skin; enough to alert one to pull it away quickly. This suggests to me that Freshwater held these student’s arm and drew the cross pattern relatively slowly. Now that would be cruel.

I believe that a report of the first attempt at branding a kid here in Norway would have became the #1 news item in all media the very next day.

“A current student said that Mr. Freshwater would throw out both sides of issues, such as the big bang theory”

Both sides? The big bang and steady state theory? How open minded.

GuyeFaux said:

Stanton said:

GuyeFaux said:

Of course in the interest of tolerance he had different codewords for when his teachings contradicted the Bhagavad Vita, The Book of Mormon, the I Ching, The Koran, etc…

Just a quibble, but, the I Ching is not a religious text: it is a philosophical text explaining how the system of the “Trigrams” can be used to interpret the flow, movement and interactions of Yin and Yang throughout the observable universe. No specific mention of any gods.

I see your quibble and raise you a nit-pick: the I Ching presents a theory of how stuff works, and makes testable predictions. Therefore it may be contradicted by modern science.

If you actually read the I Ching, or even read about the I Ching, you would realize that it is about trying to make sense of and detect order in otherwise random events through the use of the trigram and hexagram systems, AND it is meant to be used to compliment scientific and philosophical thinking, not oppose either. I mean, you do realize that the Chinese philosophers came up with the idea of Yin and Yang due to observation, right?

Ginger Yellow said:

“A current student said that Mr. Freshwater would throw out both sides of issues, such as the big bang theory”

Both sides? The big bang and steady state theory? How open minded.

Both contradict the third side of “THE BIBLE SAID SO,” that’s why.

Just a nitpick; isn’t that a somewhat narrow description? Yin and Yang is a dualism, one can discuss if it is a material or religious idea, but it is AFAIU part of Tao. Tao is a supernatural principle outside Yin and Yang of the observable world, so I would for all practical purposes remit its philosophy to theology.

Possibly one could split the difference and describe it as “mystic”, which can be referred to either side. [Personally I usually remit mystics to religion, again for practical purposes, but YMMV.]

Stanton said:

I mean, you do realize that the Chinese philosophers came up with the idea of Yin and Yang due to observation, right?

Yeesss … but that applies to religious Flood, Flat Earth and creationism ‘biology’ (“stability and separation of species”) as well. I don’t think observation refutes that it can be a religious idea. The religious ideas that have survived longest have done so by seemingly concur with naive observation.

The better argument, in my view, is that it was a product of philosophers. But again, for all practical purposes it looks like it is sorted under a supernatural philosophy.

Torbjörn Larsson, OM said: Tao is a supernatural principle outside Yin and Yang of the observable world, so I would for all practical purposes remit its philosophy to theology.

I thought that the tao that can be spoken of is not the eternal and unchanging tao… (Sorry, couldn’t resist)

Almost all systems of Chinese thought speak of the Tao as something immanent in the world, a tendency or pattern of development rather than something acting on things from outside. Depending on the sage who’s speaking about the Way, it can be thought of as very mundane indeed. It can also be used normatively as the way human society should be ordered. Confucius talked about the Tao that way, for example; but he famously didn’t want to have anything to do with gods or spirits.

Jim Harrison said:

Almost all systems of Chinese thought speak of the Tao as something immanent in the world, a tendency or pattern of development rather than something acting on things from outside.

I’ll accept that unreferenced for now, I probably remembered wrong. Your description sounds like emergent properties in a way. It is still mystical, of course. :-/

Two quick references on Tao in Chinese thinking: Benjamin Schwartz, The World of Thought in Ancient China and A. C. Graham, Disputers of the Tao (my personal favorite). Of course it’s pretty hard to make generalizations about a whole civilization; but the consensus seems to be that Chinese thought, even the ideas of Chinese mystics, tend towards the concrete–the Taoist technical term for the world is the Great Clod. One of my philosophy teachers, a Benedictine monk who spent some twenty years in China, told me that it was extraordinarily difficult to translate the word “metaphysics” into Chinese. The idea of transcendence was alien to them.

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This page contains a single entry by PvM published on July 11, 2008 10:25 AM.

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