Casey Luskin: the new Wendell Bird?

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I recently read Casey Luskin’s article (“Zeal for Darwin’s House Consumes Them: How Supporters of Evolution Encourage Violations of the Establishment Clause”) in the Liberty University Law Review. Most of it is tendentious as usual, and Tim Sandefur makes an excellent reply (PT: Luskin, laws, and lies).

However, I think it may be important for us to read Luskin’s article, as it looks like it is laying out a new lawsuit strategy for the ID movement, which would be to provoke parents into suing school districts that use a textbook that has some smidgen of (alleged) materialism, (alleged) endorsement of theistic evolution or accommodationism, or critique of ID/creationism somewhere within its hundreds or thousands of pages.

In support of his argument, Luskin pulls out all of the various (alleged) anti-religion, pro-materialism, pro-theistic evolution, etc. passages that the DI guys have dug up in textbooks over the years, and traces some of them to e.g. statements by major popularizers like Dawkins & Gould.

Luskin has a lot of examples, and when he strings them together he gives the impression that students are being drowned in various antireligious or religious indoctrination (many of the statements he cites contradict each other, but oh well). He entirely forgets that a biology class is very unlikely to use more than one textbook, and probably will only use portions of that. Also, some of his “textbooks” aren’t textbooks. (Sociobiology, E.O. Wilson 1975?!? In what sense is this a relevant “textbook”? It’s a famous book that founded an area of study, and might be used as a text in an advanced college course or seminar, but it’s a textbook only in the vaguest sense at best.) Some of them are upper-level college texts, some of them are decades old and out of circulation.

But more importantly, most of the quotes Luskin drags up are, well, quote mines. Once you’ve looked up a few of these passages in textbooks, you realize that many of the quoted statements have alternative, much less nefarious interpretations, compared to the interpretation they provoke in a naively ideological fundamentalist reader like Luskin or other ID promoters. To list some of the options:

* Some statements quoted by Luskin are descriptions of intellectual history, or descriptions of how many people saw e.g. the theory of evolution at a particular time. The passages that Luskin quotes from Futuyma’s textbooks are like this. It is true that many people in Darwin’s day were concerned about implications that arose for naive readers of the Origins – cruelty in nature, adaptation by natural law and random processes rather than by Design, etc. Describing these reactions is not endorsement of them. And the history of public reactions to evolution are a somewhat important thing for students of evolution to learn about. Sometimes, textbooks, which go through a long series of edits, editions, sometimes authors, etc., and where authors are responsible for producing a huge amount of material on a huge number of topics, not all of which they have huge expertise on, might be less than perfect about telling history in a way that is utterly impossible for a creationist to quote-mine and turn into an endorsement of materialism, cosmic hopelessness, or whatnot. Most people, most of the time, are not armoring their writing against creationist misinterpretation.

* Some passages in some textbooks are convicted for merely using words like random, directionless, blind, purposeless, etc. Creationist activists, and Luskin is no exception, just lose all vestige of critical faculties when these sorts of words are used in discussions of evolution. They go crazy and see these words as confirmation of what they already think, which is that evolution is basically a big atheist/materialist conspiracy. What creationist activists totally miss, incredibly and irresponsibly, is that such words do not always have a cosmic, metaphysical implication, and do not always mandate the interpretation that the author is endorsing the view that there is/is not some ultimate purpose behind existence. These words often have an entirely prosaic, non-metaphysical sense – scientifically, various evolutionary processes like mutation or mass extinction can be described as “random”, “blind”, “directionless”, etc., in the very same way that the results of rolling dice, the weather, earthquakes, etc. can be described in this fashion. The word “random”, in particular, is utterly ubiquitous throughout science and statistics, it is almost always merely shorthand for “process with stochastic, probabilistically-governed outcomes”, and its usage in describing evolution implies no particular extra-scientific endorsements by the authors.

Admittedly, some words, like “purposeless”, are more prone to be read or misread as metaphysical statements. I tend to think that, if some word is likely to be misunderstood, and better words can be found, then writers might as well do that. But an occasional failure to be completely perfect in matters of word choice is not evidence of metaphysical indoctrination in textbooks.

* In particular, some discussions of evolution being directionless, purposeless, random, etc., are addressing historical controversies in evolutionary biology – e.g. inheritance of acquired characters, orthogenesis, recapitulation, vitalism, and the like. Some of these ideas claimed to discern a “direction” and/or a cause for a particular “direction” in evolution, even though they were (typically) totally “naturalistic” hypothesis about evolution (read Gould 2002, Structure of Evolutionary Theory, for an account of some of these). It is totally legitimate for textbooks to describe these schools of thought and explain how and why they lost academic credibility – e.g. many of them were knocked off during the development of the Modern Synthesis.

* Futhermore, it is well known that students learning about evolution often make incorrect assumptions about how it is supposed to operate – e.g., several studies in education journals have shown that students often have an almost innate preference for a “Lamarkian” view of how adaptation comes about, or a simplistic orthogenetic or ladder-like linear view of evolution, e.g. from simple to complex, from fish to ape to man, or whatever. It is totally and completely legitimate for textbooks to address these common student misconceptions, which are very well known amongst evolution educators. And often language correcting these sorts of things will make statements about evolution being “random”, “without direction”, etc. And I think that, just for the purposes of having high-quality introductory science writing, and having a textbook that is actually readable, it is unfair to expect that every use of such words be accompanied with some elaborate disclaimer to head off quote-miners like Luskin and other naively selective readers.

* That said, *another* common student misconception about evolution is that its description as “random”, “directionless”, and the like, means that if they believe evolution then they have to adopt these words as metaphysical descriptors of reality, give up God, etc. This is an important misconception, one that definitely impedes the responsible secular purpose of learning about evolution, and about learning about what science is and what topics it does and does not address. So it is important for texts to address this misconception and rebut it. Of course, Luskin tendentiously *also* pulls passages out of context that do exactly this! And he portrays those as endorsing theistic evolution or whatnot. The kind of obfuscation Luskin is engaging in here would not impress a judge, should it ever come before one.

* Some passages which Luskin quotes are from interviews included in textbooks. If, in the course of an interview presented in a textbook (interviews of scientists seem to be an increasingly hot thing to put in introductory textbooks these days), Stephen Jay Gould or Francis Collins or someone drops a personal opinion on some metaphysical issue, is that really a constitutional issue? If it is, are textbook writers supposed to censor all the interviews? There could conceivably be some constitutional issues here, I don’t know if all 20 interviews in a textbook were univocal strong endorsements of the stupidity of Christianity or something, but if a textbook has a collection of interviews, it’s going to be a tough argument that quote-mining one of them is good evidence for a constitutional violation.

* Some passages that Luskin quotes are various statements opposing creationism/ID for being false, unfalsifiable, or both (proving that not everyone reads the Kitzmiller decision, which was very clear on stating that ID’s statements about evolution are falsifiable, because evolution is science and is a testable theory, but IDists’ almost nonexistent positive statements about ID are not testable, because, well, they are just vague invocations of the supernatural). Often there is not even a true internal contradiction in these statements. E.g. if a text says “there is no empirical basis for creationism/ID”, that’s not saying ID/creationism is false, it’s saying it is scientifically unsupported, which is true and which is not the same thing as saying it’s false. If a text says ID is wrong about transitional fossils, since such fossils actually exist, the only thing that has happened here is that the author has made the perfectly reasonable assumption that “ID” refers to the collection of ID arguments made by ID proponents. Ideally, people would distinguish between negative arguments against evolution and positive arguments for ID, but really this is pretty inside baseball, and the only place I’ve ever seen it done well is by the Kitzmiller plaintiffs and their experts, who are the ultimate ID wonks.

And as noted by Sandefur, statements about scientific facts are always legitimate secular endeavors, whether or not they offend or contradict some particular religious view or person who has decided that some aspect of reality is “against their religion.”

* Finally, some passages are just authors getting their wires crossed, or poor turns of phrase in early editions of a textbook. Luskin likes to quote e.g. Ken Miller’s first textbook (coauthored with Joe Levine), which had a somewhat confusing historical passage about cultural reactions to evolution, which could be read (by very unsympathetic readers like Luskin) as stating that evolution supported cosmic randomness, etc. But even that first edition passage (a) obviously wasn’t actually an endorsement of this view considering that Ken Miller was a theist then and now, and (b) the end of the passage contained a paragraph pointing out that, of course, it was a fallacy to say that evolution and religion are necessarily opposed.

Anyway, Luskin seems to think that extracting dozens of tiny bits from dozens of huge textbooks, and stringing them together, avoiding all ameliorating context, amounts to an argument. Since no student will ever have more than one textbook, this is extremely unlikely to be a relevant argument in court.

However, Luskin may well succeed in getting some ID-fan parent somewhere to sue based on the school’s use of one of these textbooks. Whether this would get anywhere at all would depend on all the details above and more. If one hypothetically had a highly ideological textbook that takes a Richard-Dawkins-like stance on religion throughout, you might have a problem, but I doubt that any common high school biology textbook does this. Textbook publishers, after all, prefer to sell books, not get them ruled unconstitutional by courts. For what it’s worth, the book that Luskin seems to get the most mileage out of is Strickberger’s Evolution. I haven’t read it and I don’t trust Luskin’s account of it, and it’s a college text anyway, intended for an upper-level biology majors course, so I bet its use in high school is nonexistent. If it crosses the line into metaphysics, then so much the worse for it; but college professors have a number of textbooks to chose from.

In conclusion: I don’t think Luskin has found a winning tactic here, but it could be a headache if this became a new creationist ploy. Perhaps Luskin is gunning to be the new Wendell Bird?

214 Comments

C/IDs can alwaya find crap (or manufacture crap) to suit their purposes. It’s only there to confuse. They cannot function in a court of law and that’s where the only battle that matters is taking place.

Until education effectively teaches students to think and those students gain the courage to stand up against those that indoctrinate them, then that aspect of the battle is lost.

As long as the truth is taught and lies are not, then we will eventually win.

Stephen Jay Gould said the much same thing about his participation in the Arkansas trial:

Debate is an artform. It is about the winning of arguments. It is not about the discovery of truth. There are certain rules and procedures to debate that really have nothing to do with establishing fact — which they are very good at.

Some of those rules are: never say anything positive about your own position because it can be attacked, but chip away at what appear to be the weaknesses in your opponent’s position. They are good at that. I don’t think I could beat the creationists at debate. I can tie them.

But in courtrooms they are terrible, because in courtrooms you cannot give speeches. In a courtrooms you have to answer direct questions about the positive status of your belief. We destroyed them in Arkansas. On the second day of the two week trial we had our victory party.

Putting in a disclaimer or an explanation of what something actually means isn’t going to stop quote miners from picking a small (or even large) section from a text to ‘prove’ the reverse of what was actually said.

I had Richard Lewontin’s review of Carl Sagan’s “A Demon Haunted World” quoted to me twice in the same week:

“Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. The eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck used to say that anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything. To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen”.

What the creationists fail to do is to quote the immediate preceding paragraph:

“With great perception, Sagan sees that there is an impediment to the popular credibility of scientific claims about the world, an impediment that is almost invisible to most scientists. Many of the most fundamental claims of science are against common sense and seem absurd on their face. Do physicists really expect me to accept without serious qualms that the pungent cheese that I had for lunch is really made up of tiny, tasteless, odorless, colorless packets of energy with nothing but empty space between them? Astronomers tell us without apparent embarrassment that they can see stellar events that occurred millions of years ago, whereas we all know that we see things as they happen. When, at the time of the moon landing, a woman in rural Texas was interviewed about the event, she very sensibly refused to believe that the television pictures she had seen had come all the way from the moon, on the grounds that with her antenna she couldn’t even get Dallas. What seems absurd depends on one’s prejudice. Carl Sagan accepts, as I do, the duality of light, which is at the same time wave and particle, but he thinks that the consubstantiality of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost puts the mystery of the Holy Trinity “in deep trouble.” Two’s company, but three’s a crowd”.

Read together, and in the right order, Richard Lewontin is actually revealed to be saying something completely different to what the creationists were implying he was saying.

It seems that Luskin is being taken far more seriously than he deserves. This DI loon is aiming this most recent speel at an ever increasingly marginalised hotch potch of ID supporters. They are their own worst enemies; the ‘big tent’ is only so big, before you turn on your fellow ‘big tenter’. Each attempt to bring a rational argument in defence of their irrational position (basically,Evolution is not a science but an indoctrination process. To what is not made clear, raping babies and drinking virgin’s blood perhaps) may garner support, or even popular support, but it essentially erodes any vestiges of credibility this loon and his side-kicks had, in the legal and scientific world, WHERE IT MATTERS!

I couldn’t comment on the previous thread for some reason. Thers no box. anyways this stuff about Luskin is exciting. This is like the angle I.ve been pushing for several years. i have made the case here too. I wrote to Mr Luskin but he said he didn’t see my angle as the way to go but it seems this stuff is very close. it is the right and excellent point to say that if creationism/religion is taught as false or banned (same thing) then the state is making a opinion on religious doctrines. This is not nuetrality but picking sides. There is no actual law controlling origin teachings in schools but if they are saying there is then the law must work both ways. They invent a law of censorship under neutral principal and then they break their own law. This is tru;y a good sign of the better thinking taking place in these small circles that realize the censorship against the bible is illegal. Of coarse the people can talk about anything they want in schools. Especially important things.

an ever increasingly marginalised hotch potch of ID supporters.

were you trying to predict Byers would immediately prove your point?

if so, well done!

Byers is a YEC, ID is a wagon he can hitch himself to until it no longer is fundamental enough, at which time he will latch on to the next crank idea that supports his biblical idiocy. These people, I maintain, are inherently self destructive. ‘The enemy of my enemy is my friend’ hypothesis that they habitually use doesn’t bare scrutiny very well as history has well shown. After all, the Taliban of today are merely the Mujihadeen of yesterday whom so conveniently killed soviets in the 80’s, and now unfortunately kill godless US soldiers. No, Byers is ill, we all know that, he is suffering from a mass delusion, and talks to invisible ‘friends’ in the sky, and licks the arse of Luskin and co.

According to 1 Kings 7:23-26, pi is equal to three exactly. In Luskin Land, therefore, teaching that pi is 3.14 (or any variation thereof) in public school is a violation of religious freedom.

Ichthyic said:

an ever increasingly marginalised hotch potch of ID supporters.

were you trying to predict Byers would immediately prove your point?

if so, well done!

Byers is a self-absorbed saxophonist attempting to play his own badly composed jazz in the middle of a classical music concert.

Nah. An incompetent and tone-deaf kazoo player with a busted kazoo…

Dave Luckett said:

Nah. An incompetent and tone-deaf kazoo player with a busted kazoo…

Yup; that’s what it sounds like. And coming out of a saxophone no less.

Compositions for broken kazoos and snare drum orchestras; played on an out-of-tune sax.

Robert Byers said:

I couldn’t comment on the previous thread for some reason. Thers no box. anyways this stuff about Luskin is exciting. This is like the angle I.ve been pushing for several years. i have made the case here too. I wrote to Mr Luskin but he said he didn’t see my angle as the way to go but it seems this stuff is very close. it is the right and excellent point to say that if creationism/religion is taught as false or banned (same thing) then the state is making a opinion on religious doctrines. This is not nuetrality but picking sides. There is no actual law controlling origin teachings in schools but if they are saying there is then the law must work both ways. They invent a law of censorship under neutral principal and then they break their own law. This is tru;y a good sign of the better thinking taking place in these small circles that realize the censorship against the bible is illegal. Of coarse the people can talk about anything they want in schools. Especially important things.

How many times must we point out that Creationist fraud and bigotry does not belong in science classes? It’s not censorship to exclude such things, it’s common sense.

Robert Byers said:

this stuff about Luskin is exciting. This is like the angle I.ve been pushing for several years. i have made the case here too. I wrote to Mr Luskin but he said he didn’t see my angle as the way to go but it seems this stuff is very close.

That’s because he stole your idea, sweetie. He lied to you that it wasn’t ‘the way to go’, and then he turned around and stole it! Personally, if I were you, I’d sue the Disco Institute for everything it’s worth. They say that guy Ahmanson has very deep pockets.

Robert Byers said:

Blah blah blah. Toot, parp, prump.

A more suitable analogy would be to have religious education school classes (do you have those in the States? They sound a little unconstitutional for the US, but I had them for two compulsory high school years in Scotland) giving ‘balanced’ time to all supernatural and natural explanations for the origins of life and species; or, to force any religious organization that gets federal tax breaks to give equal preaching time to the scientific understanding of any religious topics preached, e.g., the recent work on the evolution of altruism through punishment and policing must be presented following the parable of the good Samaritan [or insert equivalent baby story here].

And while we’re using musical metaphors, does anyone know what one should do with a troublesome trumpet tree?

OgreMkV Wrote:

[C/IDs] cannot function in a court of law and that’s where the only battle that matters is taking place.

I wish it were true that the court battles were the only ones that matter, but the polls tell a different story. Assuming that anti-evolution activists are not currently getting their way in public school science class - not necessarily a good assumption given that many teachers are pressured into downplaying evolution - their propaganda still sells in the “court or public opinion.” From various sources I estimate that only ~25% of adult Americans (most but not all fundamentalists) are so beyond hope that they would never admit evolution under any circumstances. But another ~25% has doubts of evolution, and another ~25% accepts evolution (or more likely a caricature) but thinks it’s fair to “teach the controversy” in science class.

That other ~50% doesn’t care that it’s against the law. They need to be shown that ID/creationism is at best failed science that only misleads people, and at worst bearing false witness.

Robert Byers Wrote:

I wrote to Mr Luskin but he said he didn’t see my angle as the way to go but it seems this stuff is very close.

OK, just a little feeding.

Actually you have a much better chance at getting your “theory” taught than Luskin. All he wants to do is misrepresent evolution in science class and censor the refutations (which is quite easy, since time simply won’t permit a thorough refutation of a barrage of misleading but catchy sound bites). Plus his approach takes no position on “what happened when,” so it is at best useless as a potential alternate “theory.” So his approach fails on many levels, not just by being what a conservative Christian judge determined to be a religious view.

You, OTOH, can avoid religion altogether by avoiding the common misrepresentations of evolution, and just supporting your YE hypotheses on its own merits. Without referring to Genesis, God, etc., just make clear claims of what “kinds” originated at what times, whether in the water, dust, etc., as adults, embryos, etc. Then examine all the evidence, in context (no cherry picking) and show how it converges on your particular explanation.

I started laughing to myself when it occurred to me that reading these old textbooks is probably what they have the boobs at the Biologic Institute doing as “research” to support intelligent design. Who can you get to read a 10 years old textbook let alone a “textbook” from 1975?

Not only that, but there are plenty of things in these old textbooks that are just flat out wrong. You don’t have to quote mine and deliberatly falsify the meaning of anything. Misrepresentation is the last thing that you should do if you have taken to time to critique these old books. It just undermines the things that you may have actually found. Dishonesty is such a way of life for these guys that they probalby don’t even know when they are lying to themselves.

Dale Husband said:

Robert Byers said:

I couldn’t comment on the previous thread for some reason. Thers no box. anyways this stuff about Luskin is exciting. This is like the angle I.ve been pushing for several years. i have made the case here too. I wrote to Mr Luskin but he said he didn’t see my angle as the way to go but it seems this stuff is very close. it is the right and excellent point to say that if creationism/religion is taught as false or banned (same thing) then the state is making a opinion on religious doctrines. This is not nuetrality but picking sides. There is no actual law controlling origin teachings in schools but if they are saying there is then the law must work both ways. They invent a law of censorship under neutral principal and then they break their own law. This is tru;y a good sign of the better thinking taking place in these small circles that realize the censorship against the bible is illegal. Of coarse the people can talk about anything they want in schools. Especially important things.

How many times must we point out that Creationist fraud and bigotry does not belong in science classes? It’s not censorship to exclude such things, it’s common sense.

Not only that, but teaching creationism is not banned in the public schools. It is legal to teach it in a comparative religion class. You just have to compare it to something and you can’t claim that it is the one true religion and that anyone that doesn’t think so is going to hell. The public schools cannot take that kind of stand on religious issues. The creationists like Byers do not want to do what is legal. They would rather lie about their beliefs and make them out as something that they are not.

It is very simple. You can teach science in the science class. No scientific theory or valid scientific endeavor is banned. The ID/creationist boobs have admitted that they do not have a scientific theory. End of story.

As Luskin is demonstrating all the anti-evolution boobs have is obfuscation and misrepresentation. They aren’t going to generate a scientific theory based on that. They have basically given up on any real science. The ID perps have been running the bait and switch scam on their own creationist supporters for over 7 years. Do you see any of them trying to fix what is broken? I haven’t heard of any efforts to figure out what is wrong so that they can work on fixing the problems.

All you see out of the Discovery Institute is blaming the victims. Everytime a creationist rube that fell for the ID scam pops up and wants to teach the science of intelligent design, they have the bait and switch run on them and all they get is junk like Luskin’s obfuscation scam above. It isn’t the science side that is hitting the rubes up the side of the head and telling them to get with the next scam. It is the guys that perpetrated the ID scam.

The ID scam should be taught in the public school sociology classes as the bogus political scam that it is. It deserves no other place in education at this time and the ID perps know it. You do not run the bait and switch scam on your own creationist support base if you really have what you claim to have. Just look at the switch scam. It doesn’t even mention that intelligent design ever existed. Who is selling this switch scam? The answer is ID perps like Luskin are running the switch scam. What should that tell any competent human being?

Byers wrote:

“it is the right and excellent point to say that if creationism/religion is taught as false or banned (same thing) then the state is making a opinion on religious doctrines.”

Right. Pointing out that something is factually incorrect, in a science class mind you, is exactly the same as banning it! As nutty as this guy is, there is no way that he can actually believe this crap.

All right Robby boy, I have officially made evolution my religion! Nothin yall can does abouts it. Now, you cannot ban it, or even teach that it is wrong, anywheres. Not is schools, not in colleges, not even in churches. Just cause I says sos. Oh and of course since others still says its reallys still science, yall still has ta teaches it in sciences classes as wells.

(Shoot, I inadvertently included some capitals and commas in that screed. Oh well, too much work to go back and muck it up any more now. Just stick in some sentence fragments to give the right level of contempt. Especially important things.)

In any event, Luskin is grasping at straws here. The guy must really be desperate. One way to derail such a misguided strategy is to make sure that the metaphysical language is kept to a minimum in science textbooks. It really isn’t necessary anyway. It is sufficient to describe diffusion as “random motion of molecules” without adding “that must mean that god isn’t necessary in order for diffusion to occur”. You can let the students decide that for themselves.

The next Wendell Bird? Early in my law school days, I read a law review piece (a student note, if memory serves – a risky proposition at my age) by Bird making some nutball argument for the teaching of creation science. He worked on one or two significant cases in this area. I predicted then that he would crash and burn, and I chortled as his life’s work crumbled about him. I’m not a good person, am I?

The Founding Mothers said:

A more suitable analogy would be to have religious education school classes (do you have those in the States? They sound a little unconstitutional for the US, but I had them for two compulsory high school years in Scotland) giving ‘balanced’ time to all supernatural and natural explanations for the origins of life and species;

Actually, that could be pretty funny if it wouldn’t be so depressing. I can imagine the lesson plan now…

Day 15, religions, eastern traditions, non-abrahamic -

  • creation myths: zorasterinism
  • creation myths: bhakti
  • creation myths: sikhism

Day 16, religions, eastern traditions, non-abrahamic (continued…)

Casey said:

On this point, the present author agrees with evolutionists [that] teaching creationism [is promoting a religious viewpoint that violates the establishment clause], but disagrees with them with respect to teaching ID.

Meanwhile, Casey’s supporters have not gotten the memo. Note these candidates for Alachua County (FL) School Board in today’s Gainesville Sun. Pass the popcorn.

http://www.gainesville.com/article/[…]=1&tc=pg

In the beginning, there was a candidate forum at the Oak Hammock retirement community for those running for the Alachua County School Board and the topic of creationism was brought up.

In the end, there were several voters who wanted to know how each candidate felt about public schools teaching creationism - the belief that a supreme being made the universe and world.

“This is of interest to the members of my group,” Susan Bergert, president of the Humanist Society of Gainesville, wrote in an e-mail to The Gainesville Sun.

Eight of the 12 candidates running for the three seats attended the forum on Aug. 1. Two sent representatives in their stead and two did not show up. The Sun contacted the four who were not present. One who sent a representative that night - Jancie Vinson - did not return calls requesting a personal comment.

“When is evolution taught - is it on the FCAT?” Bonnie Burgess jokingly asked Thursday. She is running for the District 1 seat. “To me, it seems only logical to offer creationism. What’s the point of teaching? It’s to teach our children how to think and we should not be prejudiced to any one thought or idea. We should be able to offer all facts and theories.”

“I do believe we should teach creationism as part of a well-balanced education that opens their minds to free-thinking,” April Griffin said.

Felicia Moss agreed. “In a well-balanced education, we need to have those things, as well, and leave it up to the parents to expound on it.”

Jodi Wood, who was not at the forum, said it should be taught alongside evolution. “So long as we are teaching the theory of evolution, we should teach the other theory of creationism, too. Evolution is not a fact, it is a theory.”

That’s a most apt analogy, and one I endorse. But we can stick to classical music. He’s playing a Messiaen or Boulez work, while the rest of the orchestra is playing a Bruckner or Mahler symphony:

Mike Elzinga said:

Ichthyic said:

an ever increasingly marginalised hotch potch of ID supporters.

were you trying to predict Byers would immediately prove your point?

if so, well done!

Byers is a self-absorbed saxophonist attempting to play his own badly composed jazz in the middle of a classical music concert.

John Kwok said:

That’s a most apt analogy, and one I endorse. But we can stick to classical music. He’s playing a Messiaen or Boulez work, while the rest of the orchestra is playing a Bruckner or Mahler symphony:

Mike Elzinga said:

Ichthyic said:

an ever increasingly marginalised hotch potch of ID supporters.

were you trying to predict Byers would immediately prove your point?

if so, well done!

Byers is a self-absorbed saxophonist attempting to play his own badly composed jazz in the middle of a classical music concert.

Bah humbug. Bruckner and Mahler, both second raters.

Does anyone else notice that this “strategy” is a complete surrender?

For years we have been listening to the “ID isn’t religious” weasel words. The plain purpose of ID was to “some day” be taught in public school science classes. It was always 100% would-be court-proofed creationism.

I doubt if this new strategy is offensive, more likely it’s defensive. ID promoted itself so well, in the sense of making itself known, that it is now being used as an example of a wrong approach to science in text books.

So now Luskin has decided to argue that ID is religious and therefore can’t be criticized in public schools. Well, therefore it can’t be taught as science in public schools either, ever. It is axiomatic that if the DI is saying that it can’t be criticized because it is religious, they are also saying that it can’t be taught as science.

Harold: Do you honestly believe that the DI is incapable of effectively admitting that ID is religious out of one side of the mouth … while denying that it is out of the other side of the mouth?

Mind you, it does my head hurt.

John Kwok said:

That’s a most apt analogy, and one I endorse. But we can stick to classical music. He’s playing a Messiaen or Boulez work, while the rest of the orchestra is playing a Bruckner or Mahler symphony:

Mike Elzinga said:

Ichthyic said:

an ever increasingly marginalised hotch potch of ID supporters.

were you trying to predict Byers would immediately prove your point?

if so, well done!

Byers is a self-absorbed saxophonist attempting to play his own badly composed jazz in the middle of a classical music concert.

I’d suggest Harrison Birtwistle who, indeed, has written a piece entitled “Panic” which fits the description exactly, including the use of an alto sax as the solo instrument. Given that he is frequently referred to as “Birdwhistle”, I think I detect evidence of Design here. :)

Rich Blinne quoted a creationist school board candidate: Jodi Wood, who was not at the forum, said it should be taught alongside evolution. “So long as we are teaching the theory of evolution, we should teach the other theory of creationism, too. Evolution is not a fact, it is a theory.”

From the current Futurama thread: “Evolution is merely a theory, like gravity or the shape of the earth.”

I’m going to start using that one.

Paul Burnett said:

Rich Blinne quoted a creationist school board candidate: Jodi Wood, who was not at the forum, said it should be taught alongside evolution. “So long as we are teaching the theory of evolution, we should teach the other theory of creationism, too. Evolution is not a fact, it is a theory.”

From the current Futurama thread: “Evolution is merely a theory, like gravity or the shape of the earth.”

I’m going to start using that one.

And at least the theory of evolution by natural selection is actually a theory: testable, falsifiable and mutable through the collection of evidence.

Creationism/ID doesn’t even make it that far. Reason enough to exclude it from a science classroom.

John Kwok said:

That’s a most apt analogy, and one I endorse. But we can stick to classical music. He’s playing a Messiaen or Boulez work, while the rest of the orchestra is playing a Bruckner or Mahler symphony:

He’s a vuvuzela player trying to perform with a string quartet.

[aside]

pssst … DS … I think eddie is having a bit of fun with us …

[/aside]

SWT said:

Well this discussion certainly took a turn I had not anticipated …

Let’s just say it’s swelled to new dimensions…

SWT said:

[aside]

pssst … DS … I think eddie is having a bit of fun with us …

[/aside]

He’s flirting with aprostacy.

Mike Elzinga said:

SWT said:

[aside]

pssst … DS … I think eddie is having a bit of fun with us …

[/aside]

He’s flirting with aprostacy.

Is she related to Gwen Stacy?

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This page contains a single entry by Nick Matzke published on August 12, 2010 7:27 PM.

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