John West on The New Louisiana Creationism Law

| 74 Comments

Discovery [sic] Institute fellow John West has a long article at National Review praising the recently enacted Louisiana creationism law, which is of course disguised as a “protection” for “dissenting” teachers who are being persecuted by The Man. John Derbyshire, also at National Review, has an excellent response to it here, indicating that at least some prominent conservatives are fed up with the pseudoscience. (LGF, too.) According to West, the law simply gives teachers “a modest measure of protection” when they try to “question[]…the ‘consensus’ view on…scientific issues.” Of course, the law is more than that: it is an attempt to cleverly phrase an invitation to religious propagandists to use government-run, taxpayer-supported schools as a forum to teach religion to other people’s children.

To Derbyshire’s excellent analysis, I would add only the following.

Read the rest at Freespace…

74 Comments

Derbeyshire is either confused, or very disingenuous, in labeling Jindal a dupe. Jindal knows exactly what this bill is all about, knows what the DI does for a living, and is making a carefully calculated appeal to what he gambles will be a large enough voting bloc in Louisiana and perhaps the US, to ride much further. I imagine he’s reading the handwriting on the same wall Obama is reading from (in publicly supporting “faith-based initiatives”). These guys are pros, with outstanding political sensitivities. Apparently, you can’t win without the bible bangers.

I like John Derbyshire. Nice to see a sensible, smart conservative.

He wrote the best review of Expelled. He chastised Stein for spitting on the crowning achievement of Western civilization – science.

http://article.nationalreview.com/?[…]=&w=MQ==

hmm. I wonder if Tim happened to note something from the early comments posted on LGF:

#23 Genosaurer 7/09/08 5:40:09 pm reply quote -2

I find it kind of odd that people are willing to ignore scientific orthodoxy when it comes to global warming, then in the next breath cite the consensus of the scientific community as evidence against intelligent design.

yes.

odd.

that’s the conservatives of LGF for you.

do also note that the residents downgraded this response by 2 points.

I keep wondering why Tim keeps referring to LGF as if it had some value in this issue?

Frankly, “fair weather friends” are of little value to the furtherance of good science in the long run.

btw, Flint is correct. Jindal made a calculated move in supporting this ridiculous bill. You MUST start with a decent sized political base if you want to run for higher office, and the neocons have been showing us for decades how easy it is to manipulate fundies into supporting someone for office.

That he chose to do so (heck, even Obama appears to be doing it) should be some indication that we still have a long way to go before politicians will be willing to actually back the truth, instead of just manipulating groups in attempts to garner votes.

It’s been my experience, from directly working with them and their staffs over several different issues and with different non-profits, that politicians up until very recently never considered the issue of creationism/evolution to be exactly a high priority issue wrt to the Nation’s future. Thus, they felt it an easy hotbutton issue to utilize, with little consequence. Some of them are starting to wake up to the damage placating the fundies is causing (even McCain in 2000 tried to raise the alarm, before giving up when he saw where it got him).

Someday, I hope politicos will be a bit braver, or at least smarter, or really, both. Until then, I don’t think we’ve completely exhausted the utilization of the ignorant as a political tool, though I do think (for example with the issue of SCOTUS on global warming and the EPA) that we may have at least hit the peak.

Really, though, and I’ve though this since I was an undergrad, more scientists need to bite the bullet and actually run for office if we want to put a real end to this.

Flint Wrote:

Derbeyshire is either confused, or very disingenuous, in labeling Jindal a dupe.

For years I have been complaining about fellow “evolutionists” who assert that an anti-evolutionist “believes” this or “misunderstands” that without even considering the possibility that they might be feigning belief (that evolution is wrong) and/or ignorance to placate the “masses.”

I would like to think, though sadly I’m probably wrong, that this is often just an exercise to get the reader to read between the lines and think “the writer is bending over backwards to portray the anti-evolutionist as ‘innocent until proven guilty’ but he sure looks ‘in on the scam’ to me.” In the case of Jindal, the biology degree should be a clue.

BTW, can we stop giving the activists and their parrots quotes to mine by calling it a “creationism law.” Sure it promotes creationism, but I have already read one whiner write (I’m paraphrasing): “Anyone can see that there’s no creationism in the law.” Technically that’s correct; the law does not contain specific language of, or mandate teaching of, what most people think of when they hear the word “creationism.”

I’m all for letting the reader think for himself, but when there’s a common misconception involved, we must either confront it bluntly, or admit that we are contributing to it.

Bottom line: Anti-evolution activists can afford to be vague or sloppy. We can’t.

I think it is an oversimplification to say that Obama is trying to placate fundies. I think it is much more that he is speaking to a growing group of Christians who focus a bit more on Jesus actual message then fire and brimstone old testament speeches. This is relevant because the Democrats previous surrender of this voting block has only served to aggravate our current creationism difficulties. These target voters most likely fit into the group that has no serious difficulty with evolution (but also rarely thinks about it), but is susceptible to the teach both sides rhetoric. I would say that far from giving power to fundies Obama’s efforts will make that group vote in a less homogenous way, and limit their influence more.

Frank J said: BTW, can we stop giving the activists and their parrots quotes to mine by calling it a “creationism law.” Sure it promotes creationism, but I have already read one whiner write (I’m paraphrasing): “Anyone can see that there’s no creationism in the law.” Technically that’s correct; the law does not contain specific language of, or mandate teaching of, what most people think of when they hear the word “creationism.”

Riiiight…the Louisiana creationism law says “There’s no creationism here; ignore the little man behind the curtain…” We all know what a paragon of science-supporting virtue the sponsor of the bill was, just as we know that the Dishonesty Institute, which wrote the template for the Louisiana creationism law, has nothing to do with creationism.

Tha actual Louisiana law contains the statement: “This Section shall not be construed to promote any religious doctrine…” Are you sure that’s not just Lying For Jesus™?

I don’t know if I’m splitting hairs here but…Sandefur wrote of West:

.…—but [West] then goes on to write that we should not trust “to scientists the authority to determine the ‘facts’” because facts have implications for society:.…

Can you argue that it is not facts that have implications for society but how people use them. A ‘fact’ or condition within nature exists whether it has been “discovered” or not. Should it be that we doubt instead the trust that people will use the ‘fact’ appropriately?

Derbeyshire is either confused, or very disingenuous, in labeling Jindal a dupe. Jindal knows exactly what this bill is all about

True. This isn’t rocket science and Jindal has a biology degree from Brown U..

Jindal is pandering to the wingnut base which in Louisiana is undoubtedly large. Derbyshire, who is a sharp no nonsense guy, is probably guilty of wishful thinking.

It is all politics, dates back to long before the Roman empire which perfected it, bread and circuses, and is universal among the occupation.

Jindal would be far better off with some positive accomplishments solving some of Louisiana’s many real serious problems. They rank near the bottom in education and social problem metrics and the delta is sinking, the coastline is eroding away, and the oceans are rising.

It is much easier to pass meaningless bills for a roadmap to the 12th century and lawyer full employment.

The law says … A teacher shall teach the material presented in the standard textbook supplied by the school system and thereafter may use supplemental textbooks and other instructional materials…

It’s probably too good to be true, but doesn’t this say they have to finish the textbook first? Has any primary or secondary science class ever FINISHED a textbook before the end of the school year?

.…—but [West] then goes on to write that we should not trust “to scientists the authority to determine the ‘facts’” because facts have implications for society:.…

Oh gee, that is comically stupid. It is scientist’s job to determine what objective reality is. If we are going to vote on what reality is, I want a car with a 300 hwp engine that gets 120 miles per gallon and they might as well refill all the oil fields while they are at it.

You betcha determining the “facts” by arbitrary ideology has implications for society. Ignoring economics, human nature, and science brought down the next to the last great empire, the Soviet Union.

Those who ignore the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them. West might not mind living in the ruins of our civilization while applying Alice in Wonderland principles of, “A fact is what I say it is and no more and no less” but most of us have higher aspirations.

Frank J said: Bottom line: Anti-evolution activists can afford to be vague or sloppy. We can’t.

Anti-evolution activists have to be vague or sloppy. Not only can’t we afford to be vague or sloppy - being precise and careful is our strength, and it’s a major reason for supporting evolutionary biology.

On a different point:

West is quoted as saying:

“If it really is a ‘fact’ that the evolution of life was an unplanned process of chance and necessity (as Neo-Darwinism asserts), then that fact…certainly makes less plausible the idea of a God who intentionally directs the development of life.…”

Once again, the anti-evolutionist resorts to an argument which is not specifically an argument against evolutionary biology, but applies no worse to … well, for example, to reproductive biology. If our genetic makeup is really the result of chance mixture of our parents’ genes plus some undirected mutations operating according to the laws of physics and chemistry, does that make less plausible the idea of a God who intentionally directs the development of our life? Am I supposed to be less concerned about the direction of God in my life (that is, reproductive biology) than I am about God’s direction of the bacterial flagellum (evolution)?

Paul Burnett Wrote:

Tha actual Louisiana law contains the statement: “This Section shall not be construed to promote any religious doctrine…” Are you sure that’s not just Lying For Jesus™?

It’s lying for whomever one wants, Jesus, Muhammad, Rael, etc. And yes, ~99% of the time it will be Jesus. And if this non-Christian may say so, most science literate Christians would say that it’s lies that Jesus would not condone.

My point though is that it does not specifically discuss “creationism” as most nonscientists know it, which is a 6-day, ~6000 year ago abrupt appearance of many “kinds”. Even though it will undoubtedly promote it, along with other mutually contradictory interpretations of Genesis. If we don’t make that clear, the scammers will.

The actual Louisiana law contains the statement: “This Section shall not be construed to promote any religious doctrine…” Are you sure that’s not just Lying For Jesus™?

The test will come when a school board approves using cdesign proponentsist materials in the classroom.

I’m waiting to see if the law protects teachers who use something like talkorigins to teach the controversy.

Let me first note that I like this post format of Timothy Sandefur.

John Derbyshire said:

a gang of sleazy confidence tricksters

LOL! And both articles contains some excellent analysis, what I can see. West is baring it for the nth time, for all to see. An easy feat as the man is all ass.

raven said:

Jindal is pandering to the wingnut base which in Louisiana is undoubtedly large. Derbyshire, who is a sharp no nonsense guy, is probably guilty of wishful thinking.

There’s that of course.

Moreover, Derbyshire is probably guilty of purposefully ignorant wishful thinking. He should know the governor’s background.

Not to belabor the obvious, but the whole idea of a conservative politics is wishful thinking in a changing world.

Dear raven,

In virtually every instance I’d agree with you, but I think you’ve erred in your assessment of Derbyshire:

raven said:

Derbeyshire is either confused, or very disingenuous, in labeling Jindal a dupe. Jindal knows exactly what this bill is all about

True. This isn’t rocket science and Jindal has a biology degree from Brown U..

Jindal is pandering to the wingnut base which in Louisiana is undoubtedly large. Derbyshire, who is a sharp no nonsense guy, is probably guilty of wishful thinking.

Derbyshire - whom you’ll recall wrote that brilliant, devastating rebuke of Ben Stein and of “Expelled” at National Review weeks ago - is absolutely right in his assessment of Jindal as a potential vice presidential candidate (MEMO TO JOHN McCAIN: Pick someone who is quite sharp and has had ample experience in administration; in other words, Condi Rice, since she was Stanford’s Provost before joining Dubya’s team.).

Finally, last but not least, there are quite a few conservatives, including biologist Paul R. Gross (co-author of “Creationism’s Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design”) who recognize the dangers posed by the Discovery Institute. He’s not the only one, if we include such notable writers like Charles Krauthammer and George Will too (On a personal note, I have noted elsewhere here at Panda’s Thumb that I am a conservative.).

Regards,

John

Frank J said:

For years I have been complaining

Whiner. :-P

Frank J said:

about fellow “evolutionists” who assert that an anti-evolutionist “believes” this or “misunderstands” that without even considering the possibility that they might be feigning belief (that evolution is wrong) and/or ignorance to placate the “masses.”

I would like to think, though sadly I’m probably wrong, that this is often just an exercise to get the reader to read between the lines and think “the writer is bending over backwards to portray the anti-evolutionist as ‘innocent until proven guilty’ but he sure looks ‘in on the scam’ to me.” In the case of Jindal, the biology degree should be a clue.

“We appreciate your concern. It is noted, and stupid.”

Because we are all individuals with our own approaches, and because it is harmful. For example, many scientists like to be precise when analyzing claims on science or even scientific claims, for obvious reasons. Assuming positions without strong evidence is harmful to the facts.

And such analysis will show up as a token “exercise” from a political perspective, with plenty of references to how someone “misunderstands” science.

It seems obvious to me that we will never get everyone aboard on such a program. It goes against basic behavioral patterns, science methods and social strategies.

But I don’t mean that a political analysis should follow such a naive template. You are exactly correct here.

Let me though point out that there is more layers of unintended misdirection here. You yourself recently said:

Frank J said:

Actually classic creationism is sort of like astrology in that it makes its own testable claims, and that those claims fail the tests. But “don’t ask, don’t tell” ID is much further from real science, and the “replacement scam” (misrepresent evolution under the pretense of “critical analysis” but don’t dare mention any alternatives that themselves can be critically analyzed) completes the journey to “as far from science as you can get.”

In a political analysis ID isn’t “further from real science”, they are exactly as anti-science crackpot as other creationists. What you are referring to here is probably their surface layer of pseudoscience.

If you point out that it is obvious that your science and political analysis is meant to be separate, I will agree. But the problem is that they don’t look separate, at least at a hasty glance. And wasn’t that part of your point?

Students need to know about the current scientific consensus on a given issue, but they also need to be able to evaluate critically the evidence on which that consensus rests. They need to learn about competing interpretations of the evidence offered by scientists, as well as anomalies that aren’t well explained by existing theories.

I find this to be well stated and a true need in education. When anyone, whether it be scientist or religious zealot, prefers to prevent students access to competing interpretations of the evidence offered by scientists, as well as anomalies that aren’t well explained by existing theories, most people understand that something is going on other than the desire to teach science. Obviously there are some topics that do not belong in a classroom, however, those presented by scientist who are willing to present ALL scientific data and then allow discussion of all interpretations do not come under the category of subjects that should be taboo.

Studying our world without admitting the possiblity of a Creator would be somewhat like an ant studying an acorn but being unwilling to admit the possiblity that an Oak tree exist. No one is asking students to worship the Creator, simply to allow the discussion of this as a possiblity. Certainly this is not establishing a religion. Many different religions already exist and students are free to choose one of these or to choose no religion at all. Discussing the possible existence of a Creator is simply this, a discussion.

Observer said:

Studying our world without admitting the possiblity of a Creator would be somewhat like an ant studying an acorn but being unwilling to admit the possiblity that an Oak tree exist. No one is asking students to worship the Creator, simply to allow the discussion of this as a possiblity. Certainly this is not establishing a religion. Many different religions already exist and students are free to choose one of these or to choose no religion at all. Discussing the possible existence of a Creator is simply this, a discussion.

Crappy analogy. An acorn is a baby oak tree. This is proven fact as we can observe the parent oak tree. There is no proof that humans are baby gods as no parent god has ever been observed, 300k year old works of fiction notwithstanding.

There are already ample venues for the discussion of a creator. They are called “churches”. How about if we obey the law and confine the discussion of religion to places such as those as opposed to publicly funded school science classes.

TomS said:

Anti-evolution activists have to be vague or sloppy.

It’s called “dumbing down” the argument: since we can’t win on smarts, we just drag down the bar until we can squeak over it.

On Derby, calling the DI an exercise in “shifty, low cunning.” Gotta love him. Yeah, he leans way right sometimes, defending the lockup of the Nisei during WWII and saying that if we had a war with China we’d need to do pretty much the same again … but then adding as a reference to his Chinese wife and (really cute) half-Chinese kids that they’d have to lock him up, too: “The Derbyshires travel as a family.”

I may not agree with everything he says but he’s hard to dislike.

White Rabbit (Greg Goebel) http://www.vectorsite.net/gblog.html

Observer said:

Studying our world without admitting the possiblity of a Creator would be somewhat like an ant studying an acorn but being unwilling to admit the possiblity that an Oak tree exist. No one is asking students to worship the Creator, simply to allow the discussion of this as a possiblity. Certainly this is not establishing a religion. Many different religions already exist and students are free to choose one of these or to choose no religion at all. Discussing the possible existence of a Creator is simply this, a discussion.

Your first analogy is deeply flawed. There is hard observable evidence of a relationship between an acorn and an oak tree. There is no hard observable evidence for the existence of a creator.

Second, there is no scientific purpose for discussing the possibility of a creator in science class. The only scientific distinction between “God did it” and “I don’t know” is that “God did it” brings further investigation to a screeching halt.

Third, discussing the possibility of a universal creator for whom there is no evidence can lead only to the discussion of religion. The constitution says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,” not a specific religion. Trying to hide behind the pretense that one is not choosing among available religions makes no difference, it still violates the establishment clause. This is the same as trying to draw a distinction between freedom of religion and freedom from religion. It doesn’t work.

Observer said:

I find this to be well stated and a true need in education. When anyone, whether it be scientist or religious zealot, prefers to prevent students access to competing interpretations of the evidence offered by scientists, as well as anomalies that aren’t well explained by existing theories, most people understand that something is going on other than the desire to teach science. Obviously there are some topics that do not belong in a classroom, however, those presented by scientist who are willing to present ALL scientific data and then allow discussion of all interpretations do not come under the category of subjects that should be taboo.

This has been mentioned many times but, where is a primary or secondary science teacher supposed to find time for obscure alternate theories? There is hardly enough time in the year to cover the basics. And how is a student who hasn’t learned the basics supposed to judge alternatives? They don’t even have the vocabulary to talk about the subject yet.

Observer said: Studying our world without admitting the possiblity of a Creator would be somewhat like an ant studying an acorn but being unwilling to admit the possiblity that an Oak tree exist. No one is asking students to worship the Creator, simply to allow the discussion of this as a possiblity. Certainly this is not establishing a religion. Many different religions already exist and students are free to choose one of these or to choose no religion at all. Discussing the possible existence of a Creator is simply this, a discussion.

This is totally disingenuous. Teachers teach things. They don’t just offer up options. If a teacher says (incorrectly) that there is physical evidence for a creator then that teacher is teaching the existence of God. And the primary or secondary student does not have the tools to evaluate the “evidence” the teacher presents. The whole premise of early teaching of ID is to get it in BEFORE the students have the critical thinking skills to evaluate it for what it really is: creationism dressed up in a white lab coat. It not only doesn’t belong is science class, it is illegal to teach in public schools.

I find this to be well stated and a true need in education. When anyone, whether it be scientist or religious zealot, prefers to prevent students access to competing interpretations of the evidence offered by scientists, as well as anomalies that aren’t well explained by existing theories, most people understand that something is going on other than the desire to teach science.

I’ll treat this as a sincere statement, and respond accordingly.

There is no field of science where debate, confusion, and ambiguity do not exist at the cutting edge of current research. Indeed, that’s WHY such research is being done and always will be done. However, there’s a difference between the most advanced scientific research, and pedagogy aimed at 14-year-olds with no background in the discipline at all.

And pedagogically, it’s well known that presenting such children with the most advanced scientific materials, FAR FAR beyond their ability to understand even if they had the basic context of what science is and how it works, would teach them nothing and probably confuse them completely.

And this means that your well-intended observation is, in practice, exactly wrong. Children MUST learn to walk, then to run, then to compete at Olympic levels. The desire to teach science to these children DOES IN FACT mean NOT dumping them into the Olympic trials without even any concept of what the competition is supposed to be doing. It means presenting the basics, in a simple way, covering material well grounded and beyond any scientific dispute for at least the last century or so.

If the child is really interested, and pursues biology in more depth, the material you refer to is the meat and potatoes of graduate school. Not 9th grade!

Observer Wrote:

… however, those presented by scientist who are willing to present ALL scientific data and then allow discussion of all interpretations do not come under the category of subjects that should be taboo.

One should never make the mistake of believing that people who pass off pseudo-science as “presenting ALL scientific data” are themselves working scientists in any sense of the word. ID/Creationism is not science, does not do science, has never done any science, and will never do any science. It is and always has been a sectarian political movement and nothing else.

Any cursory look at their concepts and jargon will reveal that the pretentious pseudo-science mumbo-jumbo manufactured by the IDiots has no traction in the real world and will never go anywhere in the laboratory. Its purpose is to confuse and to entice rubes into believing that sectarian dogma has a place in the science classroom.

chuck said:

They don’t just offer up options. If a teacher says (incorrectly) that there is physical evidence for a creator then that teacher is teaching the existence of God.

And on the other side of the same coin, no secondary school teacher with a lick of sense is going to say “science shows there is no God.” Tar. Feathers. Rail. Etc.

The supernatural is out of the domain of the sciences. If someone says: “This can only be accounted for by a miracle.”

Scientist answers: “What do you mean by a ‘miracle’?”

“An event that is forever inexplicable by science.”

“So … what is it, then, that you want us to say about it?”

White Rabbit (Greg Goebel) http://www.vectorsite.net/gblog.html

Chuck, Bill, Wolfhound, you guys aren’t seeing the beauty of Observer’s request. First, O. quotes (West?) on the need for students to be able to critically analyze evidence. Then O. asks for a discussion of God in the classroom.

Put’em together. :)

iml8 said:

And on the other side of the same coin, no secondary school teacher with a lick of sense is going to say “science shows there is no God.”

I would think not. God, as a subject, does not belong in science class.

And anyway, science doesn’t show there is no God. What could possibly exist as evidence of “no God?”

Torbjörn Larsson Wrote:

In a political analysis ID isn’t “further from real science”, they are exactly as anti-science crackpot as other creationists. What you are referring to here is probably their surface layer of pseudoscience.

Never said that I too don’t need to be clearer. I’ll try to rely less on the context and state more explicitly whether I mean the political/religious ideology and the pseudoscience it displays on its surface as a pretense at science.

Whenever an anti-evolutionist either makes a testable “what” or “when” claim, or seems to be taking pains to avoid one, IMO the best thing to do is get them to say more - not about evolution or their designer’s identity, but about what they propose instead. Sure, it still won’t impress most audiences, but it puts the ball in their court.

TomS Wrote:

Once again, the anti-evolutionist resorts to an argument which is not specifically an argument against evolutionary biology, but applies no worse to … well, for example, to reproductive biology,

In recent months I asked asked a question to two regulars (one here, and one at Talk.origins) who are classic creationists, IOW willing to state their origins model instead of hiding behind “don’t ask, don’t tell.” The question was whether conception was a design actuation event. One of them evaded the question, even though he answers most others. The other, to my astonishment, said “yes” without hesitation.

Sure, he could have been thinking as theistic evolutionists and classic creationists do, that all biology is design actuation. But that admission undermines ID’s (the pseudoscience) careful attempt to keep design actuation events both vaguely defined yet comfortably out of reach (e.g. the first flagellum) from where they can be easily tested.

I keep wondering why Tim keeps referring to LGF as if it had some value in this issue?

Frankly, “fair weather friends” are of little value to the furtherance of good science in the long run.

Exactly.

The real reason Sandefur refers only to LGF and National Review type things is obviously that he is personally a conservative, and these venues are his chosen reading material on a daily basis. As is his perfect right.

However, when comments are allowed :-), this does allow the discussion of an important point. How tied to science denial, of one sort or another, are conservatives in the US today? I submit that there seems to be a real problem. Sandefur clearly wishes to illustrate that some conservatives are just as accepting of scientific reality as anyone else, and he is obviously correct in this. Yet even the sources he uses to illustrate this point cause me concern. Such conservatives seem to be increasingly rare.

I discuss politics here exactly and only when they are relevant to science related issues; primarily, attempts to teach narrow sectarian mythology as “science” to students of all religious backgrounds in public schools at taxpayer expense, secondarily, denial, misuse or misrepresentation of science at the level of public policy in general.

My personal objections to conservative political ideas are not really relevant here, beyond these issues. I will briefly state that my global objections to conservative politics are both subjective (I don’t like what I think such policies do) and quasi-scientific (I think the circumstantial evidence strongly suggests that such policies don’t do what conservatives claim to think they will do). Now I’ll leave it at that and return to RELEVANT political discussion.

A friend of mine uses the term “anything for a flat tax” to describe those who sacrifice other principles because of they believe that they will benefit personally from conservative economic policies. I am NOT “anything for progressive tax”, though. Any party that has a major faction determined to deny scientific reality loses my support.

At this point, the “conservative movement”, and the Republican party that more or less represents it, seems to be so laden with science denial on a variety of issues that an actual individual who fully accepts scientific reality is hard to find. As Icthyc points out, the subset who are willing to stand up to ID still seem to wallow in climate change denial.

I tried to find Derbyshire’s views on climate change, but could not find anything clear - indicating that he does not stand up very strongly to the deniers.

At this point, Timothy Sandefur has quoted from LGF enough that I’d like to ask him his own opinion on human contribution to climate change. Do you agree that human activity is contributing to climate change, TS?

How many US conservatives will actually stand up, not only to ID, but also to climate change denial, HIV denial, Hubble defunding, stem cell research repression, etc?

No replies claiming “liberals are bad too”, please. That’s not a logical answer for one thing, and it’s not factually true, for another.

I have a personal hypothesis as to why there is science denial on that side of the spectrum, and it is relevant to note it here. To some degree, an experiment has been done. Canada, Australia, the UK, Ireland, Western Europe, and Japan have enacted roughly the economic and social policies that are referred to as “liberal” in the US, in varying proportions, and they have mainly surprassed the US in terms of public health, public education, leisure time, and now, per capita GDP, the last thing the US had left, over the last thirty years. Apparently, Reaganomics, Ayn Rand social attitudes, and hyper-militarism don’t work, at least not to achieve what most people would describe as “desirable” ends. Maybe being involved in a movement that must constantly deny that its own ideas have failed simply prepares the mind to deny scientific reality.

I’m honestly starting to wonder this. How many conservatives are left who will respect all of current science consensus?

Studying our world without admitting the possiblity of a Creator would be somewhat like an ant studying an acorn but being unwilling to admit the possiblity that an Oak tree exist

If you’re intelligent enough to turn on a computer, you’re intelligent enough to see that this makes no sense whatsoever.

An oak tree is not supernatural. It is a fact of physical reality that acorns come from oak trees, and no magic is required for the process.

I suppose the salient point here is that if someone denies that acorns come from oak trees, and vice versa, observations and experiments can easily show that they are wrong.

Why would anyone bother to make such a silly argument?

At least I am hearing a little more rational discussion (Flint at 10:57 the exception) on this than usual. Perhaps some of you are correct that the ant and acorn isn’t a great analogy, although, for those who believe that man is made in the image of God, it isn’t too far afield.

I did notice that there was no mention of:

Students need to know about the current scientific consensus on a given issue, but they also need to be able to evaluate critically the evidence on which that consensus rests. They need to learn about competing interpretations of the evidence offered by scientists, as well as anomalies that aren’t well explained by existing theories.

Please give this some thought and try to get past your prejudices. Everyone usually benefits from rational discussion, but resorting to insults and unfounded accusations usually are indicative of a weak argument.

A good science teacher, or any good teacher, will not allow time to be given to any discussion of an idea that is not productive. Most classroom time will be spent on skills, such as; learning vocabulary, reading for understanding, understanding and using the scientific method of discovery, interpreting data, drawing conclusions from data, etc. To think that every teacher is going to turn their classroom into a church service if the possibility of Intelligent Design is mentioned or even creation, is not realistic and under estimates truly good teachers. Certainly you do not expect a teacher to conduct a class on atheism if the teacher believes and teaches that mankind is a product of natural selection and life originated from inanimate matter! To limit a teacher’s scope by not allowing students to learn about competing interpretations of the evidence offered by scientists, as well as anomalies that aren’t well explained by existing theories should be something that every intelligent, educated person speaks against.

Parents are responsible people who care for their children.

While most parents do not want students taught a religion or doctrine in school (and that should not be taught in science class), on the other hand, most parents are NOT opposed to the mention of God or a Creator as a possible originator of life. Even if the teacher teaches evolution exclusively, there may be students who question the origin of matter.

I (and many others) find the motives of those who spend millions of dollars and countless hours producing propaganda to stop any mention of Intelligence questionable.

“…—but [West] then goes on to write that we should not trust “to scientists the authority to determine the ‘facts’” because facts have implications for society:”

Damn, the answer is self-evident! For every “fact” that’s presented by (real) scientists, a public vote shall be taken to determine 1) its validity and 2) its acceptability by the general population, and in particular the Dishonesty Institute. Surely this provision will satisfy them, and in that way we’ll always have a consensus, no arguments, about what should/should not be taught. We might also cut open some sheep & examine their entrails if there’s a tie vote. What a great world we would live in then, unbridled progress, except in those areas we’re forbidden to ask questions.

chuck said:

Or, physics, chemistry, astronomy, etc, etc

Is it a coincidence that it [Evolution] is the only subject that christian fundamentalists object to. Or is it an intelligent design ;)

Quibble - many YECers also object to the hypothesis that radiactive decay is a first order kinetic reaction, i.e. -dN/dt = lambda*N, because of what it implies about the age of the earth. So they do object to physics and chemistry, since radioactive decay is taught as part of both.

And though it would be incredibly easy to propose an alternative equation, write it up, and test it - you could almost do it with Ray Comfort’s infamous banana and a geiger counter - none of them have done so. That pretty much describes the whole ID movement in a nutshell, doesn’t it?

Observer whines…

To think that every teacher is going to turn their classroom into a church service if the possibility of Intelligent Design is mentioned or even creation, is not realistic and under estimates truly good teachers.

Or to overestimate truly bad teachers. After all, it’s not like the next thread over talks about a teacher fired for teaching religion in biology class for 11 years and burning crosses into students’ arms …

Er… oh. It does? um… Nevermind.

Eric said:

many YECers also object to the hypothesis that radiactive decay…

I dream of one day meeting an honest creationist.

One who says “Look, I know how the universe appears, but I believe it is only 6,000 years old and was put in place as is because I have faith the bible is literally true.”

At least we could agree on the facts as they appear.

Instead do they have to make all this obviously untrue stuff up and/or depend on rhetorical debating tricks to argue about the nature of physical reality?

chuck said:

I dream of one day meeting an honest creationist.

One who says “Look, I know how the universe appears, but I believe it is only 6,000 years old and was put in place as is because I have faith the bible is literally true.”

I’ve met and heard of a few, but, they give me the impression that they don’t place much stock in learning for learning’s sake.

I dream of one day meeting an honest creationist.

One who says “Look, I know how the universe appears, but I believe it is only 6,000 years old and was put in place as is because I have faith the bible is literally true.”

Many YECs do exactly that. Morris did, Ham does. They say the earth is 6,000 years old. And was created looking 13.7 billion years old.

This is unfalsifiable. It is also a fallacy known as Last Thursdayism. If the universe can be created at any arbitrary time looking any arbitrary age, it could have been created yesterday. And end next thursday.

Makes their god look like a bored grade school kid with too much time on his hands. If they didn’t try to sneak this nonsense into our kid’s science classes no one would care.

I dream of one day meeting an honest creationist.

One who says “Look, I know how the universe appears, but I believe it is only 6,000 years old and was put in place as is because I have faith the bible is literally true.”

THis is Mark Hausam in a nutshell. Some of us spotted right away that he was using the word “evidence” in a new and creative way, others argued with him for weeks. Pointless, really.

chuck Wrote:

I dream of one day meeting an honest creationist.

One who says “Look, I know how the universe appears, but I believe it is only 6,000 years old and was put in place as is because I have faith the bible is literally true.”

I knew one. After a few months of respectful debates whereby he defended a young Earth, he eventually conceded that the evidence would probably not support it, but he took it on faith anyway. I can’t take credit for changing him from a YEC to an “Omphalos” position because he had more such debates with his biologist son.

AIUI, “true” YECs will argue that the Earth really does “look” young, meaning that the evidence supports that. Whereas Omphalos creationists argue for the mere appearance of age. But keep in mind that these are all rank and file creationists who usually seem to honestly believe what they say, and have not given much thought beyond the feel-good sound bites. The scammers, however, seem to be a different story, and the “don’t ask, don’t tell” IDers different still (in the direction of dishonesty of course).

As an Earth Science teacher the reason I personally am not interested in presenting “alternative theories” in my classroom that might invoke a “creator,” “designer,” or just a good old fashioned deity, is because to do so I would feel at least some obligation to point out that there really is no scientific evidence pointing towards such a being. For 8 years now whenever a student has asked where god fits into the story of the evolution of life on this planet or the formation of the Solar System I tell them to ask their parents or pastors. Similarly, when asked about my own personal religious beliefs I tell them it is not relevant and that the evidence should guide a good scientist.

The cdesign proponentists are asking science teachers to trample on the religious views of our students. I understand that for many people raised in a religious tradition it can be rather tramatic making that realization that there is no god controlling the Universe and that fate of all life. I do just fine teaching accepted scientific theories and methods without treading into this territory, but if we are going to inject “god” into science class and tell everyone that they now have the freedom to go off script and present religion as science, then I (any good teacher) would sort of be obligated to present actual sceince curricula from the point of view that there is no creator, there is no need of a creator, and there is no evidence of a creator’s existance.

For the sake of my students I really do not want to be put in this position.

What bugs me about guys like Derbyshire is that they call themselves conservatives yet fail to advocate and practice conservationism. Practicing conservation is conservatism in action and yet they find every excuse for avoiding it. As to the argument that what they’re against is government action - well, it’s sheer cynicism. They know damn well that all they’d end up conserving are a few historical curiosities rather than important eco-systems. End of rant.

Erasmus D said:

I do just fine teaching accepted scientific theories and methods without treading into this territory, but if we are going to inject “god” into science class and tell everyone that they now have the freedom to go off script and present religion as science, then I (any good teacher) would sort of be obligated to present actual science curricula from the point of view that there is no creator, there is no need of a creator, and there is no evidence of a creator’s existance.

To prosletyze about one’s religious agenda to a captive audience in an inappropriate setting, such as students in a science classroom, is, by the very definition, the antithesis of “freedom.”

Stanton, I couldn’t agree more. Obviously the ID crowd doesn’t understand this point. The sad thing is, to present ID in a science classroom from a truly objective pov could really do some serious damage to a child’s faith. The argument I hear most often is that the ToE promotes atheism. I don’t think this is the case, as I have taught this theory to many children and never once used it to try and disprove the existence of a creator. The ToE is essentially neutral on the issue. But consider where the ID proponents are asking us to take this issue. Teachers are now being asked (or at least being given the green light) to present “scientific” evidence of a “designer.” There is none. In fact all of the evidence seems point away from a designer. I did not become a science teacher because I wanted to make them question their faiths, but as the line between actual science curricula and ID propaganda begins to blur I’m not sure real science teachers will have much of a choice.

Indeed, once Christians hear not only how scientifically vacuous Intelligent Design really is but also how science manages to fill in the gaps which were temporarily created by ID to hide its deity(ies), the impact on religious faith may be much more devastating than ToE could ever be. And to those who understand science, they will just shake their heads at the foolishness of these poor misled souls.

Erasmus D said:

Stanton, I couldn’t agree more. Obviously the ID crowd doesn’t understand this point. The sad thing is, to present ID in a science classroom from a truly objective pov could really do some serious damage to a child’s faith. The argument I hear most often is that the ToE promotes atheism. I don’t think this is the case, as I have taught this theory to many children and never once used it to try and disprove the existence of a creator. The ToE is essentially neutral on the issue. But consider where the ID proponents are asking us to take this issue. Teachers are now being asked (or at least being given the green light) to present “scientific” evidence of a “designer.” There is none. In fact all of the evidence seems point away from a designer. I did not become a science teacher because I wanted to make them question their faiths, but as the line between actual science curricula and ID propaganda begins to blur I’m not sure real science teachers will have much of a choice.

Observer wrote

I find this to be well stated and a true need in education. When anyone, whether it be scientist or religious zealot, prefers to prevent students access to competing interpretations of the evidence offered by scientists, as well as anomalies that aren’t well explained by existing theories, most people understand that something is going on other than the desire to teach science. Obviously there are some topics that do not belong in a classroom, however, those presented by scientist who are willing to present ALL scientific data and then allow discussion of all interpretations do not come under the category of subjects that should be taboo.

(Bolding added, caps in the original)

Futuyma’s introductory text on evolution is 543 pages, and it doesn’t present ALL the evidence. How many 15 year-olds have the background to even be able to understand, say nothing of interpret and discuss, the biochemical evidence? Zero. I teach upper-class biology students, and they don’t get ALL the evidence: the school year doesn’t run for three decades. Observer can recommend teaching ALL the evidence only if he is abysmally ignorant of just how much evidence there is.

Observer further wrote

To limit a teacher’s scope by not allowing students to learn about competing interpretations of the evidence offered by scientists, as well as anomalies that aren’t well explained by existing theories should be something that every intelligent, educated person speaks against.

Thing is, we know just what “anomalies” Observer wants: Jonnie Wells’s crap science. Recall that 16% of science teachers in the U.S. are creationists. Care to guess what they’ll teach? You don’t have to guess: Look up the main PT page one post:

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.

Observer wrote

While most parents do not want students taught a religion or doctrine in school (and that should not be taught in science class), on the other hand, most parents are NOT opposed to the mention of God or a Creator as a possible originator of life. Even if the teacher teaches evolution exclusively, there may be students who question the origin of matter.

I am opposed to it. There are no small violations of the First Amendment. And students who question the origin of matter in biology class are in the wrong pew.

Observer wrote

I (and many others) find the motives of those who spend millions of dollars and countless hours producing propaganda to stop any mention of Intelligence questionable.

And I find the motives of those who want to sneak sectarian religious notions into science classes in the guise of inclusiveness in violation of the Constitution to be abominable.

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This page contains a single entry by Timothy Sandefur published on July 10, 2008 7:41 PM.

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