More Reaction to Rio Rancho "Science" Policy

Today, the Faculty Senate of the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology issued a statement strongly condemning Rio Rancho’s new “science” policy, which has been discussed previously on the Thumb here and here.

Also, an excellent letter opposing the policy appeared in the Rio Rancho Observer.

Here is the text of the NMIMT statement:

The members of the Faculty Senate of the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology strongly disapprove of the newly passed policy by the Rio Rancho school board. In particular, the statement that

discussions about issues that are of interest to both science and individual religious and philosophical beliefs will acknowledge that reasonable people may disagree about the meaning and interpretation of data

implies that religious and philosophical beliefs are an appropriate basis for challenging the validity of a scientific theory. Alternatives to generally accepted scientific theories must be based on data and reasonable inference therefrom, and must have greater explanatory power over a greater range of phenomena than the accepted theory. Encouraging the presentation in public school science classes of notions which violate these criteria is not good pedagogic practice.

While it is true that reasonable people may disagree about the interpretation of scientific data, only scientific reasoning has a place in science classes.

Religious and philosophical interpretations belong somewhere else.

Submitted by Drs. Tanja Pietrass, David Raymond, and David B. Johnson on behalf of the NMIMT Faculty Senate.

And here follows Beth Herschman’s excellent letter.

Science program derailed by hogwash


What a shock. We just returned from a three-week vacation, only to learn that the award-winning science program in the Rio Rancho school system has been decapitated by a bunch of religious hogwash.

Why would any self-respecting school board want to crush one of the best science programs in the state? This school brings home 1/3 of the regional science fair prizes and 1/10 of the state’s science fair prizes. This school’s science program is a star in the overall excellence of the Rio Rancho public school system. This is not the first time these religious nuts (all from one church) on the school board have decimated a rigorous intellectual program. They also managed to squelch a first rate course in comparative religions a few years ago, which included Christianity - just not their exclusive brand. For them, there is no religion and no science except their radically skewed vision of Christianity. They have even limited a yoga class to the strictly physical aspects without any inclusion of the philosophy of yoga, which includes mind and body discipline, so fearful are they of other philosophies.

Intelligent Design (formerly Creationism) is strictly a religious philosophy of the Evangelical Christian sect. These same people believe that only the Bible has any merit and their God is so small that he fits neatly into that little box -The Bible. No other books, produced over thousands of years of man’s struggle to unravel the mysteries of the Universe, have any relevance to them-it’s as if their God ceased to exist after the Bible was written. The deceit in this view is that they are perfectly willing to utilize all the knowledge that science has brought to them in the form of technology to ease their lives. Cars, central heating, telephones, copy machines and advances in medicine are as much a part of their lives as the rest of ours. Most other Christians, myself included, do not believe that science is incompatible with Christianity. The rest of us Christians have a much larger God, one who “created man in his own image” - with curiosity and intelligence, and our God expects us to use our brains for the benefit of mankind and this planet he put us on, not bury our brains in one book, only. To deny thousands of years of man’s intellectual pursuit of the truth of the universe - and all the scientific wonders mankind has discovered, tested, published, and retested - is to be unfaithful to God.

Beth Herschman

Rio Rancho