Parenting Beyond Belief Author and the Creationist Teacher

| 104 Comments

Dale McGowan, author of Parenting Beyond Belief, has encountered a creationism-inclined science teacher in his son’s school and is blogging the progress of his dealing with it. So far there are two posts, Science, Interrupted and Dear Mr. Taylor, Part 1. Some of the commenters on his posts and that on the Friendly Atheist (linked below in the hat tip) are full of bravado and I hope McGowan ignores them. You don’t start with a flame-thrower.

So far McGowan is handling it well, emailing the teacher first (he’s using email to retain a record of the interaction), and asking polite but clear questions. What he has not done, or at least not mentioned he has done, is contact NCSE for advice, counsel, and support. I’ve urged that in a comment on one of his posts and I here urge it publicly: Contact NCSE now, Dale! There’s no need to re-invent a wheel that’s already on the ground and rolling. NCSE exists specifically for this kind of situation.

McGowan’s experience reinforces the fact that stealth creationists are wide-spread in the public schools, busily infecting students with doubt about honest science. As one of the students who testified in the Freshwater hearing said, what he learned from Freshwater is that science can’t be trusted. And it’s public school teachers like Freshwater and McGowan’s “Mr. Taylor” who fan that mistrust.

Update

Dale McGowan has quite properly (and gently) chastised me for implying that he didn’t know about NCSE. See this comment on his post.

Hat tip to The Friendly Atheist.

104 Comments

What faintly raises the hair on the back of my neck about McGowan’s adventures with Mr. Taylor is the sense that this is an opening act of a story very similar to the one whose presumably closing acts are being documented here by RBH relative to the unfortunate (in many senses of the word) Mr. Freshwater.

This can’t end well.

Colorado Citizens for Science has run a case study here. We also advised the parent to contact NCSE. We do not know how the case turned out.

Interesting case study, Matt. I wonder, could the teacher’s contact at the JPL be someone named Coppedge?

Its uncomfortable watching here attempts to attack a teacher who is just telling the truth as they see it. Trying to stop or punish a teacher from this seems as far from America as one can get. Trying to turn teachers into just parrots of some teachers outline for a class undercuts every idea to get the student to think and question any thing in the world where their own insights and reason can be employed. In Canada here we were taught as kids to think. To draw our own conclusions and not just memorize ‘facts’. I’m sure this teacher is within the rules. it demonstrates here that there is a bigger agenda to eradicate even whisps of shadows of doubt or denial of evolutionism. Worthy of the great attempts of empires and movements of yore. I as a creationist say PLEASE continue. I know Americans. Persecution of common beliefs by the state or the use of the state grabs attention where otherwise there is apathy. This is welcome.

Hi Robert, it is sooo comfortable to have your support in out struggle for anarchic education. If a teacher firmly believes in flying saucers, abductions and that the space aliens are responsible for creating life on Earth; why should he not be allowed to teach that?

Americans and Canadians, why don’t you demand, NOW! that all teachers be allowed to teach the truth as they see it?

A science teacher is employed to teach science and not rubbish. Any science teacher who teaches creationism has broken his/her contract and needs discipline and perhaps the sack.

Sincerity of belief’s does not come into it

Robert Byers said: Its uncomfortable watching here attempts to attack a teacher who is just telling the truth as they see it.

Sorry, Booby, but if a teacher attempts to teach scientific illiteracy and willful ignorance, they will rightfully be attacked for it. And they will lose, as they have again and again.

I’m sure this teacher is within the rules.

Nope. Here’s a couple of keywords for you, to remind you of the rules: Freshwater, Dover, Edwards - do you recall the rules discussed in any of those cases?

1.6

Nothing new here. Just the same old drivel. The truth as I see it is that Byers is a broken record playing a worn out song full lo lies. Probably the product of one of those misguided proselytizing teachers.

Robert Byers ironically said:

In Canada here we were taught as kids to think.

Perhaps so. But it’s obvious that that lesson was totally lost on you. Your “thinking” isn’t even on par with that of a ham sandwich. What happened, Byers? Did you miss 3rd grade that day?

In Canada here we were taught as kids to think.

Obviously it’s not working.

Robert Byers said:

Its uncomfortable watching here attempts to attack a teacher who is just telling the truth as they see it.

I was a teacher, employed to teach Maths and Physics. The truth as I saw it was the the French Revolution started in 1789, but I did not teach that because that was not what I was being paid to do. Science teachers are paid to teach science, not “the truth as they see it”. If it is not science then they are short-changing their pupils and defrauding those who pay them.

I’m sure this teacher is within the rules.

Remind me not to pick you as my lawyer if I ever have to go to court.

rossum

A creationist science teacher?

What next?

An illiterate English literature teacher?

A tetraplegic gym instructor?

Robert Byers, as a fellow Canadian I have to say I am ashamed of you.

You and Densye make us look like Arkansas North.

Please stop bothering the nice Americans. Go play hockey now.

Terenzio the Troll said:

A creationist science teacher?

What next?

An illiterate English literature teacher?

A tetraplegic gym instructor?

Well honestly, I would much rather have those than a creationist science teacher. At least the english teacher could tell the students to read a novel, maybe even one they listened to on tape. At least the gym instructor could tell people how to play tennis and coach them go get better. A creationist science teacher would be like an english teacher telling the students that anything written in english was worthless and that they shouldn’t believe a word of it. A creationist science teacher would be like a gym instructor telling his students that poker was the best sport for physical fitness and not to play any of the other corrupted sports. It’s not just the lack of real science that’s the problem. it’s the anti-science and the pseudo science.

If you want to see a good example of your brain on creationism, just look at Byers. That looney Canadian can’t even use capitals and contractions correctly and he wants to determine policy for US education!

So far McGowan is handling it well, emailing the teacher first (he’s using email to retain a record of the interaction)

I strongly agree with doing this - but only on the grounds of decency and courtesy.

It is my habit (highly unusual in US society) to try to let people know directly if I have a problem with them, rather than going over their head or behind their back. Obviously, people who are so out of control that police or some other type of security personnel have to be involved are an exception. In addition, if the problem is serious enough, it has to be reported to the appropriate figure. You go directly to the guy whose music is still audible even when he is wearing headphones. You have to take a different tack with the guy who is stealing, sexually harassing, etc.

Unfortunately, creationist slogans probably do not represent sincere beliefs in the usual sense of the word. They are deliberate “fighting words” - as, in general, are any memorized propaganda slogans. It isn’t a behavior that a direct, polite interaction is likely to change.

This teacher has allied himself with a social and political ideology that uses religious language at times. The cognitive dissonance provoked by this interaction will probably cause him to go immerse himself in evolution denying material, and double down on the denialism.

These creationist teacher types are an incredible drain on society’s resources. They act freely until, perhaps once every few years, the rare parent who is educated, articulate, and courageous enough to do something notices. That may never happen; for example, in Freshwater’s case, if he hadn’t physically burned a student, indeed, if he had even burned a student but made a smiley-face mark instead of a cross mark, he probably would not have been noticed.

So they can spend years creating confusion about and denial of science - just as the US is spinning down economically and losing its leader role in science and technology. And if they are caught, it takes millions of dollars and massive amounts of time to get rid of them.

Robert Byers said:

In Canada here we were taught as kids to think. To draw our own conclusions and not just memorize ‘facts’.

So if a kid’s thinking led him to a conclusion that conflicted with the facts, did you let him stay ignorant?

harold said:

Unfortunately, creationist slogans probably do not represent sincere beliefs in the usual sense of the word. They are deliberate “fighting words” - as, in general, are any memorized propaganda slogans. It isn’t a behavior that a direct, polite interaction is likely to change.

In the earlier days of “scientific” creationism, creationist leaders spent most of their time and effort in concocting ludicrous caricatures of science. The purpose was to taunt members of the scientific community into debates in which creationists could draw publicity, fake the appearance of legitimacy, and make it appear that scientists were hiding embarrassing evidence.

This was a conscious, premeditated process on the part of the creationist leaders. There were plenty of attempts at corrective input from the scientific community at the time. These were simply sneered at and brushed aside by the creationists.

That process continues today at AiG, ICR and the DI. The leaders at these organizations no longer have any excuses for not picking up the appropriate textbooks in basic physics, chemistry, and biology and leaning what the real science is. They choose not to do so. It is a conscious choice; they do it repeatedly in the face of reminders that what they are saying is wrong.

The camp followers of these hucksters feed off the “heroism” they think they see in their leaders; and then they go out and try to emulate them.

At this point, there is little excuse for those of us in the science community for not seeing ID/creationism as a declared sectarian political war on secular society.

I think Dale is doing a fantastic job. Hopefully, a tactful and measured set of approaches will result in a quick resolution to this. But most of all (and most importantly), thank goodness, his son has changed classes. That Conner has switched classes should also be a strong signal to others that there is a problem with ‘Mr. Taylor’s’ teaching.

fnxtr said:

Robert Byers, as a fellow Canadian I have to say I am ashamed of you.

You and Densye make us look like Arkansas North.

Please stop bothering the nice Americans. Go play hockey now.

I recently spent some time with some very cristian teachers and school administrators from North ARkansas, and they were about the most level headed and pro-evolution people you could meet. (and as well as on a number of different topics involving the educational system.)

I asked a community college teacher if she had students who had issues with evolution. She replied “I tell them I teach the curriculum whatever I feel; they are to learn it.”

I suddenly realized she doesn’t agree with evolution. How does anybody get enough biology education to teach in college and still feels that way? I was frankly shocked, but as long as she’s teaching the science properly I guess it’s okay.

My high school biology course began with amoebas and worked up, in order of appearance. Our biology teacher was allowed to discuss evolution (or reproduction above the worm) explicitly but we got the gist of it. One student asked didn’t the order of appearance indicate evolution? and the teacher wouldn’t answer. None of the students, as far as I know, were going to a creationist church. It seems to me a good text book (if any exist nowadays) can teach evolution implicitly.

I totally love Neil Tyson’s response to another similar controversy. Paraphrasing, he said the issue is not the separation of church and state. The real issue is the separation of the scientifically illiterate from the ranks of science teachers.

fnxtr said: Robert Byers, as a fellow Canadian I have to say I am ashamed of you.

Well, on the positive side it does reinforce the apparent truth that the US of A doesn’t have a copyright on nutburgers.

It takes the pressure off a bit.

MrG -

US of A doesn’t have a copyright on nutburgers.

I’m half Canadian and can guarantee that this is true. The US political system is more dominated by nuttiness, but Canada has a solid contingent.

I’m going to go out on a limb and bet that there are some nuts in the UK as well.

harold said: I’m going to go out on a limb and bet that there are some nuts in the UK as well.

“Limb”? One word: “BNP”.

Oh, and let me add: “David Icke”. Who, in his various proclamations such as his assertion the Windsors are descendants of reptilian aliens and that vaccination programs are a scheme to inject people with mind-control chips, is not exceeded by any American conspiracy theorists.

harold said:

MrG -

US of A doesn’t have a copyright on nutburgers.

I’m half Canadian and can guarantee that this is true. The US political system is more dominated by nuttiness, but Canada has a solid contingent.

I’m going to go out on a limb and bet that there are some nuts in the UK as well.

1. Isn’t Alberta sometimes referred to as Alabama North?

2. Malanie Phillips anyone?

Robert Byers said:

Its uncomfortable watching here attempts to attack a teacher who is just telling the truth as they see it.

I don’t care how deluded a teacher is, he has no right to teach fraud in science classes.

Trying to stop or punish a teacher from this seems as far from America as one can get. Trying to turn teachers into just parrots of some teachers outline for a class undercuts every idea to get the student to think and question any thing in the world where their own insights and reason can be employed.

If you go to a Christian church, then you are being totally hypocritical.

In Canada here we were taught as kids to think. To draw our own conclusions and not just memorize ‘facts’. I’m sure this teacher is within the rules. it demonstrates here that there is a bigger agenda to eradicate even whisps of shadows of doubt or denial of evolutionism.

But where are the logical and empirical reasons for those doubts and denials? All I see from Creationists like you are lies and fallacies.

Worthy of the great attempts of empires and movements of yore. I as a creationist say PLEASE continue. I know Americans. Persecution of common beliefs by the state or the use of the state grabs attention where otherwise there is apathy. This is welcome.

People are always free to teach Christian and even Creationist dogma in churches. So your argument is pointless.

harold said:

MrG -

US of A doesn’t have a copyright on nutburgers.

I’m half Canadian and can guarantee that this is true. The US political system is more dominated by nuttiness, but Canada has a solid contingent.

I’m going to go out on a limb and bet that there are some nuts in the UK as well.

Yeah, we have too many YECs trying to stuff up education. Last year I think I sorted a YEC teacher. Truthinscience (aka sciencelies) is beavering away in schoools

Terenzio the Troll said:

A creationist science teacher?

What next?

An illiterate English literature teacher?

A tetraplegic gym instructor?

I’d say a creationist science teacher is closer to a Holocaust denier teaching history or a drug dealer running the D.A.R.E. assemblies. Or maybe a school nurse who’s a serial killer on the side.

Please continue to follow this on “Panda’s Thumb”. At some point this parent is going to need support to carry this thru. School Systems protect their own.

phantomreader42 said: I’d say a creationist science teacher is closer to…a drug dealer running the D.A.R.E. assemblies…

You made me think of Tyrone Biggums giving an anti-drug lecture. Freshwater’s treatment of evolution is pretty similar to the way Biggums teaches about drug use… explicit instructions on what “not” to do.

Anyone for manually doing a three letter weasel program?

I think that is what Commenter 16 did.

Hygaboo Andersen said: All citizens, not just evolutionists, have a right to have a say in how their tax dollars are spent!

I totally agree! That’s exactly the way it goes this side of The Pond, in Trollaland: each and every time arises the need to build a new bridge, for instance, we respectable taxpayer Trolls subject every minute aspect of the project to a thorough process of public examination. We vote how long the bridge should be, how many pillars should support it (if none at all) and so on, down to voting for the right mix of sand, water and bonding chemicals for the concrete… Of course, if there is any new and interesting suggestion from a taxpayer Troll, the work is halted and the new idea gets scrutinized and voted.

You would wonder how well this procedure works, in real life. Unfortunately, I must admit that it has been a veeeery long time since it has been applied, due to Trolls notoriously non being respectable taxpayers…

I’m sympathetic to the blogger’s efforts, but his statement in e-mail to the Creationist that in deciding a person’s identity he would believe a DNA test over many-times-repeated positive ID with his own eyes is a brain-fart. Fact is, if you’re a sighted person of sound mind, looking somebody you know straight in the face (under ordinary, reasonable conditions) is a much more reliable way of identifying them than getting their DNA sent to a lab. If one is going to bring in the remote chance of unexplained hallucinations, which one would pretty much have to do to make the “eyewitness” mistaken in such a case, one would have to reckon with the same possibility when it came to reading the lab results: how do you know you’re seeing THEM straight, if you can’t trust yourself to see Mary and Susan straight?

You can’t bypass the senses, in the end. And you can’t substitute science entirely for the senses which we use to perceive science itself.

It’s unwise to mangle one’s own reality-sense in an attempt to head off Creationist nonsense at the pass. The blogger thinks he scored, but it was an own goal.

Greetings to all.

I am a creationist, and I am a conservative Christian. I am not a YEC Per Se. If YEC be true, then the universe is merely a stage set up by God for His temporary purpose. Just as in a Broadway production of ‘South Pacific, the investors do not plant Palm Tree seeds waiting for the Palm Tree to grow before the Play may begin.

Then again, maybe the universe is like the movie ‘The Matrix’ or as the Hindu’s have long believed, that the universe and all we see is an illusion, but we think it is fact because we know no better than the illusion before us. Then, if so, maybe we just can walk through a locked door or feed 5,000 people with just a few fish and loaves of bread.

I believe in the existence of God, our Creator, thus I am a Creationist. My love of science has lead me to reject natural cause as the mechanism of the existence of life on Earth. The fact that Abiogenesis has been scientifically demonstrated to be impossible, and similarly, natural cause can not rearrange amino acids to build all the proteins required for the great variation life as we know it, I reject outright Evolution by natural causes over time outright. Only intelligence is capable of arranging molecules in the arrangements we observe in life today, for it takes intelligence to impose boundary conditions on the laws of Physics and Chance to provide life as we do observe it on our planet.

Evolution was never based upon clear concise scientific fact, The only reason that Evolution is taught as fact in our school systems today is that ever since Lyell and Darwin, materialists have taken control of public education, hiring only the like minded, and have conspired to impose their materialistic belief system on all others, by taking over the school systems and mass media and teaching their philosophy as fact in schools and to the public at large, and suppressing and removing all opposition via censorship and other Orwellian methods.

In other news, Arthur the Creationist is lying through his teeth when he claims he “loves science”

My love of bagels has lead me to reject bread of all kinds.

The fact that Abiogenesis has been scientifically demonstrated to be possible, and similarly, natural cause can rearrange amino acids to build all the proteins required for the great variation life as we know it, I accept outright Evolution by natural causes over time outright. Not only intelligence is capable of arranging molecules in the arrangements we observe in life today, for it does not take intelligence to impose boundary conditions on the laws of Physics and Chance to provide life as we do observe it on our planet.

Evolution was always based upon clear concise scientific fact, The only reason that Evolution is taught as theory in our school systems today is that ever since Lyell and Darwin, scientists have taken control of public science education, hiring only the able minded, and have not conspired to impose their personal belief systems on any others, by taking over the school systems and mass media and teaching their philosophy as fact in schools and to the public at large, and suppressing and removing all opposition via censorship and other Orwellian methods, since that is what creationists do.

There, all fixed.

A) Believing in the existence of God does not automatically make one a “Creationist.” Believe that God magically poofed the world and universe into existence as according to a literal interpretation of one’s preferred holybook makes on a “Creationist.”

B) If a person had a genuine “love of science,” then that person would be able to tell the difference between science, religious philosophy, and navel-contemplation.

C) If a person had a genuine “love of science,” then that person would not mindlessly repeat lies made by Young Earth Creationists, all of whom hate science.

Plus, if a person has to whine about imaginary conspiracies by evil materialists to explain why Evolution is taught as a science in schools, not only are they lying about “loving science,” but they’re also idiots to boot.

DS said:

My love of bagels has lead me to reject bread of all kinds.

You should be loxed up for that.

Arthur, if you have evidence for your assertion, “Abiogenesis has been scientifically demonstrated to be impossible”, then produce it, please, or cite the reference.

Arthur said:

The fact that Abiogenesis has been scientifically demonstrated to be impossible, and similarly, natural cause can not rearrange amino acids to build all the proteins required for the great variation life as we know it, I reject outright Evolution by natural causes over time outright.

Obviously the person who did this demonstration is famous by now; and has received the Nobel Prize.

I think we would all be very interested in who this person is. And I am sure you can provide a link to his/her peer-reviewed work while explaining it for us.

Stanton said:

DS said:

My love of bagels has lead me to reject bread of all kinds.

You should be loxed up for that.

For that, Stanton, you either deserve a reward, or should be fined.

mrg said:

Stanton said:

DS said:

My love of bagels has lead me to reject bread of all kinds.

You should be loxed up for that.

For that, Stanton, you either deserve a reward, or should be fined.

Or he deserves the whole schmear.

mrg said:

Stanton said:

DS said:

My love of bagels has lead me to reject bread of all kinds.

You should be loxed up for that.

For that, Stanton, you either deserve a reward, or should be fined.

In Japan, they deify people who make especially gruesome puns.

Stanton said:

In Japan, they deify people who make especially gruesome puns.

Very well, you are promoted to be the kami of PT. Who of course is a panda.

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