Thursday, June 25, 2015

UK bans teaching of creationism

The British Humanist Association is gloating over a recent decision by the government of the United Kingdom to ban the teaching of creationism in "all Academies and Free Schools, both those that already exist and those that will open in the future" [Government bans all existing and future Academies and Free Schools from teaching creationism as science].

This is ridiculous. I'm opposed to American politicians who meddle in science teaching and I'm opposed to British politicians who do the same even though I think creationism is bunk. Politicians should not be deciding what kind of science should, and should not, be taught in schools.

It's a matter of principle. It's as wrong as when American state governments banned the teaching of evolution.1

In addition, there are other reasons why this is a bad idea.
  1. Where do you stop? Do there also need to be laws banning the teaching of astrology, climate change denial, homeopathy, and Thatcherism? Do they need laws defining the correct history of how the traitors in the Thirteen Colonies formed an alliance with the French in order to overthrow well-meaning British governments?
  2. Why give creationists the ammunition to claim that they are being persecuted—especially when it's true?
  3. What's wrong with showing that creationism is bad science and refuting it in the classroom? Is that forbidden? Evolution is true, it doesn't need legal protection.
  4. Are the Brits so afraid of creationism that such a law is necessary in order to prevent creationist teachers from sneaking it into the classroom? If so, fix that problem by educating teachers.
  5. Was this a serious enough problem to warrant giving creationism a huge publicity boost?
  6. The government funding agreement notes that creationism "... should not be presented to pupils at the Academy as a scientific theory ..." Why not? I think that some parts of Intelligent Design Creationism really do count as valid scientific hypotheses, albeit bad ones. Why is the government taking a stand on the demarcation problem—especially an incorrect one?


Image Credit: Atheism and Me.

1. I'm not exactly sure who made the decision in the UK. It could be the case that "government" is just a catch phrase for decisions made by a body of science teachers and science experts. Those decisions are just implemented by the "government."

150 comments :

  1. I've been involved in this for years, have helped draft language that found its way into official statements in both England and Scotland (separate countries when it comes to education), and you've got it wrong. What is being stopped is, very specifically, teaching that creationism has scientific merit. Thus a teacher would be in breach of regulations if (s)he told a class that the Grand Canyon was the result of Noah's flood, or that biological complexity required a designer.

    There s nothing here to keep discussion out of the Religious Education classroom when discussing and comparing ideas, and if a student were to raise it in the science classroom a competent teacher would, now as before, discuss why it is not valid science in the same terms as you would commend yourself.

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  2. Larrry says: Are the Brits so afraid of creationism that such a law is necessary in order to prevent creationist teachers from sneaking it into the classroom? If so, fix that problem by educating teachers.

    Uh, what if the teachers of the teachers are creationist? You have just displaced the problem one level up: the government must determine how the teachers are taught, which means banning the teachers of teachers from teaching certain things.

    Who ensures that the teachers of teachers are not idiots? Who mandates that the teachers of teachers inoculate teachers against creationist lies?

    Does the government do that, or do you just cross your fingers and hope that teachers' colleges will be on your side, and teach straight from Talk.Origins?

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    1. Spot on. All the way up to the curriculum-setting committee. That's why we've had such a tough job ih Scotland getting even the most restrictive guidance, and why I and colleagues are preparing materials as alternatives to those currently in circulation, especially for use in the religious education classroom.

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  3. Larry, one thing I never understood was why you demand total freedom (and basically, zero accountability) for teachers who teach stupid things or outright falsehoods. I mean it seems to me that you're saying a teacher can teach "There are no transitional fossils" and "Lucy was a fraud" and "Feathered dinosaurs are frauds" and "There are no beneficial mutations" and they can't be fired for that?

    To invoke argumentum ad absurdem, if teachers taught that the Earth is flat, and that the photos of Earth from space were frauds digitally altered by an international conspiracy-- you're saying that they can't be fired, or disciplined-- they just have the freedom to make shit up?

    And now here's the kicker. You're infamous to the creationists for your dictum that teachers can flunk all students who believe in creationism and/or Intelligent Design, or as you put it, "Flunk the IDiots." (As a result of the "Flunk the IDiots" dictum, the Discovery Institute will never regard Larry as a defender of academic freedom, no matter what.)

    So you seem to believe in absolute, authoritarian power for teachers with zero accountability, versus no academic freedom for students. Teachers can teach factual falsehoods, slander scientists as fraudsters in on the international conspiracy-- hell, teachers can make up whatever shit they want, and never be held accountable; but then you say students can be flunked for believing in creationism, even if they put the right answers on the exam. It seems that is a vast disparity in power, freedom and accountability between teachers and students. I don't know how it goes down in Canada, but an authority figure lording his freedom over others does not go over well in the States.

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    1. @ Diogenes - I agree with you.

      Teachers are supposed be be professionals. If teachers behave unprofessionally, then they are libel to disciplinary action even termination of contract.

      Every publicly funded school curriculum in Canada gives Evolution the accord it deserves explaining why private education and home schooling has such a strong foothold in Canada. In other words, if teachers do not adhere to the curriculum, they are being unprofessional and libel to sanction.

      I was intrigued by a born-again Christian colleague who invited students to visit his classroom during noon hour for some important lessons. I decided to show up and was horrified to discover he was teaching YEC in contradiction to what I was teaching in my Biology classroom.

      I politely explained my concerns to him before bringing the matter up with administration. He was informed that if he persisted, disciplinary action would ensue. Sadly, not all administrators follow such precedent.

      Ironically, it is much easier to do a good job of teaching evolution in Catholic Separate schools than in public schools. ... just saying... Everyone knows that the pope has the final word and the Vatican's final word is that Evolution/Darwinism is a correct rendition of our planet's non-spiritual history. I never needed to pussyfoot around the possibility that I was threatening core beliefs in my classroom as I do now.

      Regarding professional obligations: public school teachers as professionals are professionally obliged to never belittle or disparage, in any way, the core beliefs of their students.

      Of course, as rehashed on frequent occasions, such declared professional neutrality on the part of teachers represents a greater threat to IDiots than the spurious suggestion that science is necessarily atheist. Science as spiritually neutral (NOMA) translates into ignoring alternate explanations to evolution in the science classroom. Wedge and teach-the-controversy strategyms are predicated on science-is-atheism.

      But again we rehash... even as we agree on the important stuff.

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    2. post-script to Diogenes

      I remember one occasion where a principal berated me for refusing to discuss alternatives to Natural Selection/Neutral Theory in the classroom. He was under considerable pressure by some vocal parents.

      My rebuttal was easy - I simply pulled out the provincial curriculum document and suggested he contact the Minister of Education to make the necessary changes. Until then my hands were legally tied.

      My administrator was most displeased. Mind you, this tactic has backfired on me. I discovered that following years, my teaching assignment was prone to change so my approach is now somewhat less direct.

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    3. Tom Mueller, Diogenes said, "You're infamous to the creationists for your dictum that teachers can flunk all students who believe in creationism and/or Intelligent Design, or as you put it, "Flunk the IDiots.""

      Do you think that the educator's responsibility is to make sure that the student richly knows the material being presented, or do you think its fair that the student "believe" the varacity of the information.

      I have debated Moran on UD, his position is simple and painful -- you don't understand neutral theory unless you are convinced that it is a satisfactory explanation. This makes him, in my opinion, a terrible teacher even though he is dead right on the topic of this post.

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    4. @ bFast

      The teacher's job is to facilitate learning of science as defined by the curriculum documents

      The students' job is to learn science as defined by the curriculum documents.

      I tell my students at the outset that I recognize that some present may consider Evolution a contradiction of their core beliefs and I respect that.

      However, respect is a two-way street. All present must also respect that Evolution is not atheist propaganda with a hidden agenda (together with a quick tip of the hat to NOMA).

      So in short, I will never expect everybody to "believe" in evolution but I do expect everybody to understand evolution. That means when I ask a "scientific" question on a text or exam, I expect a "scientific" answer - end of story.

      On this score I agree with Larry. Anything less garners "failure" because "understanding" was not demonstrated.

      I also tell my students the highest compliment I could possibly receive at year's end is a student's demonstration of understanding together with a confirmation that they still don't "believe it". That is what I tell my students.

      Funny thing though... ever since I took this approach; students no longer report that they "disbelieve" in exit surveys any more, like they used to in previous years, when I was younger and my testosterone levels were perhaps higher.

      I understand that some local pastors are livid with unchristian rage at the success of my new approach.

      funny how that works...

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    5. @ bFast

      re:
      I have debated Moran on UD, his position is simple and painful -- you don't understand neutral theory unless you are convinced that it is a satisfactory explanation. This makes him, in my opinion, a terrible teacher even though he is dead right on the topic of this post.

      I believe you are oversimplifying the subtleties and nuances of Larry's thesis. I direct your attention to Larry's exchange with Joe here:

      http://tinyurl.com/qblnj6k

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    6. Diogenes says,

      Larry, one thing I never understood was why you demand total freedom (and basically, zero accountability) for teachers who teach stupid things or outright falsehoods.

      Yes, I know that you've never understood that.

      For the record, once again, I demand academic freedom for university teachers in the sense that if their department authorizes them to teach a course a certain way then they have the freedom to teach it that way. The department can remove them from the course but they can't be fired.

      Do you understand?

      The situation at high school level is different because teachers there should not have the same absolute academic freedom. They have to teach a prescribed curriculum. However, we should give them as much freedom in the classroom as possible within those limits.

      High school and public school teachers should not be teaching that creationism represents the consensus view of scientific experts. If they do that then they should be corrected and disciplined by their colleagues and supervisors. If the system is so broken that you can't rely on teachers to teach science correctly then it's unlikely that government rules and regulations banning creationism are going to fix the problem.

      If you have to start banning certain subjects then that's a sign that there's something very wrong with the society.

      So you seem to believe in absolute, authoritarian power for teachers with zero accountability, versus no academic freedom for students.

      I do not believe in absolute authoritarian power for teachers. They have to be accountable to their school board and to their colleagues.

      Students do not have academic freedom.

      ... but then you say students can be flunked for believing in creationism, even if they put the right answers on the exam.

      That's complicated. If the goal of education is to teach critical thinking and if a student rejects all the scientific evidence of evolution then we have a problem. The student has clearly demonstrated that he/she has not achieved the minimum goals of the education system since rejecting scientific facts out of hand is the opposite of critical thinking.

      Should they pass the course? The answer has to be "no" if you agree that the goal is to teach students how to think. If the goal is just to have students memorize bits of information and spew them back on a test then creationists can do that as long as you avoid asking them whether they actually believe that the information is true.

      And if they lie about what they actually believe then it won't be easy to decide whether they can think critically.

      It seems that is a vast disparity in power, freedom and accountability between teachers and students. I don't know how it goes down in Canada, but an authority figure lording his freedom over others does not go over well in the States.

      I've posted dozens of articles explaining how I strongly support student-centered learning and the idea that teachers and students can work together to learn how to think and reason about complex issues. Part of that process requires that students take some responsibility for their own education rather than just act as sponges in the classroom. Part of that process requires teachers to poke, prod, and challenge students to reevaluate their views on almost everything. If you are going to do that efficiently then you have to give teachers and students a lot of freedom and flexibility in the classroom.

      My view of the correct way of teaching is the exact opposite of the caricature that you are addressing.

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    7. @ Larry

      Out of curiosity, are you maintaining that Theodosius Dobzhansky himself would fail your course if he were your student?

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    8. ... followup:

      http://www.scholardarity.com/?page_id=901

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    9. bFast says,

      I have debated Moran on UD, his position is simple and painful -- you don't understand neutral theory unless you are convinced that it is a satisfactory explanation.

      I recall that you asked me questions on UD and that you hurled lots of insults in my direction, but I don't recall anything resembling a "debate."

      I stand by what you said. You cannot claim to understand Neutral Theory unless you agree that it is well supported by evidence and that it explains lots of things that the average Intelligent Design Creationist thinks are big mysteries demanding the intervention of gods.

      These are scientific facts. You have no business criticizing evolution if you don't understand it. If you were taking my course and you reject the evidence of neutral alleles and you reject ransom genetic drift then your fellow students would think you're an IDiot during discussions and you would fail the course. (Your friend, Diogenes, thinks that's being authoritarian.)

      This makes him, in my opinion, a terrible teacher ...

      I'm well aware of your definition of good teachers and terrible teachers. You think that Barry Arrington and Denyse O'Leary are good teachers. So are Casey Luskin and Stephen Meyer. I'm proud to be the opposite kind of teacher.

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    10. Tom Mueller asks,

      Out of curiosity, are you maintaining that Theodosius Dobzhansky himself would fail your course if he were your student?

      Clearly not. It would be silly to expect every student to be perfect. Dobzhansky could probably get a B+. :-)

      What I'm saying is that students who reject evolution—the most extreme form of creationism—have failed to meet the minimum standard of a good education. By "good education" I mean the ability to think rationally and critically about the main issues of the day and to base your views on valid evidence.

      Most schools don't agree that this is the important goal of education. That's why we graduate millions of students who can't think. Many of them go into politics.

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  4. Larry,

    Most bans come from fear. People who fear creationism influenced politicians to ban it because they were probably concerned about their own interests whatever they may be.

    Look back at the times when pacifists were banned and jailed in countries involved in wars. Why? The governments feared people would refuse to go to war if they were persuaded by the teachings of the very few pacifistic religions and organizations.

    I've recently read that religious organizations like the Catholic Church and other Christian churches as well want to influence the governments to pass laws to persecute people who publicly "offend" someone due to his believes. They don't care about that but they want this law to be instituted so that they can prevent people from publically exposing their hypocrisy; such as the clergy abusing children, the church's involvement in money laundering, ownership of horehouses and porn industries.

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    1. I for one fear creationism. Look what Lysenko did to biology in the USSR. Look what happened to biology education in Turkey. The scenario is unlikely in the UK, Canada, and the U.S., but not as unlikely as I would prefer.

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    2. John Harshman,

      Which of the 10 Icons of Evolution described by J. Wells and still taught in many biology classes did the most favor to biology and the education of humanity?
      1. The Miller-Urey experiment that is taught as if the problem of the origins of life has been resolved?
      2. The Mutant flies perhaps?
      3. How about the staged peppered moth evolution?

      Give me one reason why someone studying biology is benefiting from theses outright lies?

      www.iconsofevolution.com/tools/questions.php3

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    3. Oh noez! Nick figured out the plan! This damn creationist are so smart... they must have perfected their tin foil hat design... how come we didn't see this coming? They know so much about design after all! Somebody call the Evo police before this gets out in the open!

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    4. KevNick,

      Wells' book is filled with falsehoods; the lies are his. And you don't know what you're talking about at third hand.

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    5. "Staged peppered moth evolution" is an especially egregious Wellsian lie. Every IDiot screams "The moths were all deaf and pinned to trees for photographs! All the photos are of dead moths!!"

      In fact 1. They weren't all dead, Michael Majerus published photos of live moths on tree trunks *before* Wells published his book. So Wells had no excuse.

      2. Wouldn't matter if every photo had been of a dead moth. The dead ones weren't counted in the statistics. Majerus' observations proved that live moths in the wild do rest on tree trunks much of the time. Wells said the moths don't rest on tree trunks. Bullshit.

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    6. I've blogged on this: https://paulbraterman.wordpress.com/2013/08/20/creationism-as-conspiracy-theory-the-case-of-the-peppered-moth/

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    7. KevNick,

      You should verify your information before commenting.

      1. The Miller-Urey experiment that is taught as if the problem of the origins of life has been resolved?

      It's never been taught as if the problem of the origin of life has been resolved. It's taught as an experiment demonstrating that complex organic molecules, some that we find in living organisms, can form from simpler molecules under conditions other than biological. That complex organic molecules can firm in abiotic conditions wasn't that well known. There's still a long way before getting from complex molecules to life, but that complex organic molecules can form in abiotic conditions shows that initial materials necessary for life can form. That's exactly what I was taught. Nobody ever told me that the Miller-Urey experiment produced life. Nobody ever taught me that the Miller-Urey experiment proved evolution. I was taught that it was a small, but important step, towards deciphering the origin of life. That's it.

      How it benefits students and biology? Easy: it shows that complex molecules can form in abiotic conditions. It advances our understanding of chemistry in nature.

      2. The Mutant flies perhaps?

      What the hell are you going about here? Mutant flies have been helpful on a huge number of ways. Our understanding of our own genetics is based on work performed on flies.

      3. How about the staged peppered moth evolution?

      Somebody else answered. I will just add that it helps students understand the concept of natural selection.

      None of that is lies, and you're too much of an idiot.

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    8. KevNick,

      I visited the bullshit of a web site where you took your bullshit from.

      I read the following "gem":

      MUTANT FRUIT FLIES. Why do textbooks use fruit flies with an extra pair of wings as evidence that DNA mutations can supply raw materials for evolution -- even though the extra wings have no muscles and these disabled mutants cannot survive outside the laboratory?

      I have never seen such mutant flies presented that way. But let us suppose this was the case. Now think: what does the concept of raw materials evoke in your mind? After you have thought about it, tell me if asking for fully functional wings as examples of raw materials is appropriate.

      I leave this one for you to judge. I doubt that you have the honesty, but I'll still leave it to you.

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    9. I've blogged on Urey-Miller too, https://paulbraterman.wordpress.com/2012/11/10/creationism-as-conspiracy-theory-and-the-teaching-of-their-urey-miller-experiment/, as have many others. It is true that too many for too long exaggerted the importance of this work; I once saw a museum display of Urey-miller type aparatus with the legend "Is this the origin of life?". But that hasn't been tre for decades. Moreover, inability to explain the origin of life is no more an objection to evolution, than inability (until the 1950s) to explain the origin of heavy atoms was to atomic theory.

      The Wellses and Kevniks of this world are either (a) knowingly propagating bad arguments, or (b) donning blinkers to hide from themselves just how bad those arguments are. I don't know which is worse.

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    10. OK, he's looking more like a sock puppet as time goes by. He's certainly a troll.

      Delete
    11. Or one of Dembski's students working for extra credit

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    12. Dembski has higher standards in his pod-people. He requires them to blather robotically about his "specified complexity" and "explanatory filter." He also gives them a high word count to get full credit.

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  5. 1. Where do you stop?

    I can only add my voice to the others asking where you would draw the line. If a high school biology teacher - perhaps the one and only teacher who is supposed to introduce evolution to a class in years 8 to 10, teaches all his classes creationism, you would just say, yeah, that's fine?

    No it isn't. In my eyes they are not doing their job. They are directly comparable, not in damage caused but in failure to do what they are paid for, to a doctor prescribing arsenic to treat a headache, to a builder constructing a bridge support from paper mache, to a waiter serving you petrol when you asked for apple juice. This is not about academic freedom but about deserving to draw a salary.

    And yes, I would expect there to be some official teaching plan dealing with topics like history, and if a school decided to teach that the Roman Empire never existed I would hope and expect the government to take a dim view of this.

    2. Why give creationists the ammunition to claim that they are being persecuted—especially when it's true?

    Why give people who believe 2+2=5 ammunition to claim that they are being persecuted by the math establishment?

    3. What's wrong with showing that creationism is bad science and refuting it in the classroom? Is that forbidden? Evolution is true, it doesn't need legal protection.

    Maybe I misunderstand, or maybe you misunderstood the law, but "teaching creationism as true is forbidden" is not the same as "mentioning creationism and explaining why it fails is forbidden". In fact they are opposites.

    4. If so, fix that problem by educating teachers.

    Others have already pointed out that the problem are faith schools whose official policy is the teaching of creationism. How do you solve that with education?

    5. Was this a serious enough problem to warrant giving creationism a huge publicity boost?

    See (3) and (4).

    6. Why not? I think that some parts of Intelligent Design Creationism really do count as valid scientific hypotheses, albeit bad ones. Why is the government taking a stand on the demarcation problem—especially an incorrect one?

    This is one where I agree. The point should be not to present it as the best explanation we have.

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    1. We agree on the need for competent, well-educated, teachers. We disagree on whether governments need to micromanage teachers by listing all the things they are forbidden to teach. We do not want teachers to be nervous about teaching evolution but that's exactly the effect that the regulations will have. The government announces that teachers need to be very cautious about teaching evolution in case they violate the rules. That makes the teaching of evolution much more risky than teaching photosynthesis or the parts of a flower.

      I know what I'd do if I were a teacher who wants to keep their job and knowing that both parents and school inspectors are watching my evolution class very carefully.

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    2. Hi Larry

      I must respectfully disagree with you on this one minor point.

      I DO WANT government micromanagement on the teaching of evolution. Government should specifically dictate that science is to be taught in science classes and non-science is to be avoided.

      I also agree with your earlier contention that rigid adherence to a purely "Nature of Science" approach does not succeed. In other words, the "controversy" should not be taught, but neither should it be ignored.

      That is why I am such a staunch defender of NOMA as defined by Gould.

      I know you disagree - and while I respect (and like Gould tend to agree with) your atheist POV. I merely suggest that teachers (pious believers, adamant atheists alike and agnostics no less) must be ALL be obliged to teach that Evolution is NOT necessarily atheist. This statement must be true given the significant number of non-atheist Evolutionary scientists.

      But yet again, we are rehashing.

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    3. Tom Mueller says,

      I merely suggest that teachers (pious believers, adamant atheists alike and agnostics no less) must be ALL be obliged to teach that Evolution is NOT necessarily atheist. This statement must be true given the significant number of non-atheist Evolutionary scientists.

      But yet again, we are rehashing.


      Indeed we are rehashing.

      The idea that science and religion are compatible just because there are religious scientists has been thoroughly debunked many times.

      We should not teach that science is necessarily atheist but we should teach that there's an obvious conflict between science as a way of knowing and religious claims about the operation of the natural world. As Gould puts it, "... if you believe that an adequately loving God must show his hand by peppering nature with palpable miracles, or that such a God could only allow evolution to work in a manner contrary to facts of the fossil record (as a story of slow and steady linear progression toward Homo sapiens, for example), then a particular, partisan (and minority) view of religion has transgressed into the magisterium of science by dictating conclusions that must remain open to empirical test and potential rejection."

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    4. we should teach that there's an obvious conflict between science as a way of knowing and religious claims about the operation of the natural world

      Should we? Or should we trust kids to figure that out for themselves (if they've been inspired by good teaching, I think they surely will), while dealing forthrightly with any questions that do raise religious claims? In other words, is "This of course completely contradicts accounts of how species were created based on the Bible or invoking the work of a designer or..." necessary in order to do a good thorough job of teaching evolution?

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    5. judmarc says,

      Or should we trust kids to figure that out for themselves (if they've been inspired by good teaching, I think they surely will), ...

      They can figure it out for themselves during class discussions with a little guiding from the teacher who asks the right questions to get students thinking. If left to their own devices, individual students are usually not going to "figure it out for themselves." There's a lot of pedagogical literature on this and the overwhelming consensus is that students won't do any more "figuring" than necessary, especially it it involves questioning their own beliefs and misconceptions.

      On the other hand, the literature says that the class can do a lot of collective "figuring" if they are given the opportunity. Furthermore, the conclusions are more likely to have an impact if they have been arrived at through discussions with their peers. (This is student-centered learning.)

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    6. judmarc asks,

      n other words, is "This of course completely contradicts accounts of how species were created based on the Bible or invoking the work of a designer or..." necessary in order to do a good thorough job of teaching evolution?

      That kind of statement from the teacher doesn't work very well. Here's what you do instead,

      "Do any of you know any other explanations for the history of life? Are they consistent with the idea of evolution?"

      It may be necessary during this discussion to present ideas such as irreducible complexity and ask whether it rules out evolution. Or you could present the scientific case for fine tuning and discuss what that means.

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    7. Hi Larry

      Re:
      We should not teach that science is necessarily atheist but we should teach that there's an obvious conflict between science as a way of knowing and religious claims about the operation of the natural world.

      In an earlier thread you took umbrage along these lines;

      Scott claims naturalism as part of the definition of science. But that's incorrect, for nothing in science prohibits us from considering supernatural explanations. Of course, if you define "supernatural" as "that which cannot be investigated by science," then Scott's claims become tautologically true…

      Interesting! I understand and share your exasperation with disingenuous definition that begs the question.

      According to your definition of science as a “way of knowing” vs. faith as “a way of knowing”; I also would have to agree that certain naïve versions of religious belief are silly and incompatible with science.

      However, your own Weltbild also has issues. As mentioned earlier, I still must disagree with your Positivist version of Verificationsim.

      That all said, there are sophisticated scientific minds who hold nuanced and subtler versions of religious belief despite your claims at debunkery of their poorer cousins.

      ITMT - Gould said it best in his penultimate book

      I do get discouraged when some of my colleagues tout their private atheism (their right, of course, and in many ways my own suspicion as well) as a panacea for human progress against an absurd caricature of "religion" erected as a straw man for rhetorical purposes.

      http://tinyurl.com/ou5gqpw

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    8. Here's what you do instead,

      "Do any of you know any other explanations for the history of life? Are they consistent with the idea of evolution?"

      It may be necessary during this discussion to present ideas such as irreducible complexity and ask whether it rules out evolution. Or you could present the scientific case for fine tuning and discuss what that means.


      That makes sense. I wasn't at all clear that's what you meant by "we should teach that there's an obvious conflict between science as a way of knowing and religious claims about the operation of the natural world."

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    9. By the way:

      "Do any of you know any other explanations for the history of life? Are they consistent with the idea of evolution?"

      It may be necessary during this discussion to present ideas such as irreducible complexity and ask whether it rules out evolution. Or you could present the scientific case for fine tuning and discuss what that means.


      - Is there any of this sort of thing in your biochemistry text? Or is that meant to do a different job?

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    10. Re Larry Moran

      I know what I'd do if I were a teacher who wants to keep their job and knowing that both parents and school inspectors are watching my evolution class very carefully

      Since 1/2 the parents in the US are creationists, they, indeed, watch the class where evolution is taught very carefully indeed and complain very loudly when it is taught. They intimidate teachers and school boards. I guess we are wasting our time trying to convince Prof. Moran that the situation in the US bears little relationship to the situation in Canada and Great Britain where fundamentalist religion is far weaker.

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  6. This is beginning to get strange to me. I'm a believer that's fairly well versed in the Bible and I can't imagine developing a science class from biblical text. That being said, this whole thing seems quite overblown. I've been in classes, been around kids that attend Christian schools and have 5 kids who attended Christian schools. Never have I once heard of "creationism" being taught in schools. I see Zack Kopplin and his team begging for students to turn in teachers who teach creationism, I've yet to see a live example. I'm not saying it doesn't happen but can someone point me to some examples?

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    1. For English examples google Telegraph "creationism still taught". For a bizarre Scottish example (dinosaurs on the Ark and evolution is a pretext for wickedness) google Kirktonholme creationism. And if you don't know what 's happening in Louisiana, you haven't been paying attention.

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    2. Beau has not been following the news. Zack Kopplin found extreme examples of creationism taught in LA public schools by obtaining in-school emails by making a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. The emails are pretty damning.

      Of course, prior to this Zack had documented that taxpayer $ were funding creationism classes through the school voucher system, with taxpayer $ going to Christian voucher schools, already in place in LA and several other US states.

      None of these facts are disputed by creationists.

      Previously, teacher polls conducted by NCSE have shown that 8% of public school teachers teach creationism whole 28% of biology teachers teach evolution.

      Delete
  7. Old England was first where people fought to defend christian belyefs from state censorship and dictation of what is true.
    There they go again attacking Christianity. It never stops.

    What they are banning is creationism(s) as a option in certain conclusion or hypothesis on origin subjects.
    Since the purpose of education is to teach the truth THEN they have decided creation and God/Genesius ARE NOT TRUE.
    if this is not tyranny and historic foolishness especially relative to English civilization then WHAT IS.

    This is immoral and illegal and stupid.
    Where is the Brits instinct to not let the state decide what is true and especially on things they say are about religion.
    Brits demand the truth to be taught and the freedom to disagree and that the state stay out of such great matters of conscience.
    The bad guys strike again. The good guys must rise up once more.
    Its just like when they censored the prayer book that led to the puritans leaving England, and making a better country, and soon a English civil war.
    Whats so damn dangerous about , there, fringe contentions?
    ITS because Christianity is so important and has enemies.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A school has a duty to teach the best-supported science, not "fringe contentions". They are not "dangerous" in themselves, but if they result in my kids not knowing what they need, I will not think my tax dollars are well spent.

      Delete
    2. I'm of an age that I fondly recall watching the Rocky and Bullwinkle show and I must say that Robert Byers semi-regular "contributions" remind me of the segment of the show called "Fractured Fairy Tales".

      I see Robert as a twisted and warped Mr. Peabody and the readers of this blog as the endlessly patient Sherman.

      Delete
    3. I;m not that old and always watched, in Canada, the rocky show.
      You didn't disagree with my points and Mr Peabody was often right. Sherman was wrong.

      Delete
  8. What's wrong with showing that creationism is bad science and refuting it in the classroom? Is that forbidden? Evolution is true, it doesn't need legal protection.

    One possible danger is that the teacher might botch the job completely. And I don't even mean closet creationists who doesn't really believe the science they're supposed to teach -- just teachers who are less than perfectly competent. We can't have a clone of Larry Moran doing it correctly in every classroom, so it's probably better to stick to the curriculum than engage in an amateurish refutation.

    ReplyDelete

  9. Was this a serious enough problem to warrant giving creationism a huge publicity boost?


    This "recent decision" took place over a year ago. It seems to have pretty much killed the debate about teaching creationism in schools. I can't remember seeing it in a newspaper or the BBC web site since. A Google search on "uk creationism ban" didn't throw up anything after June 2014.

    ReplyDelete
  10. But still topical; the Telegraph story is from 2 May 2015, and it was also in May 2015 that the Scottish Government finally brought itself to say in the official record that creationism was not science and should not be taught in science classes; google Herald "creationism banned from science class".

    ReplyDelete
  11. I thought this link was interesting

    http://www.icr.org/article/teachers-can-teach-creation-science-classroom/

    ReplyDelete
  12. more data from slate.com

    http://tinyurl.com/nzcx2g7
    http://tinyurl.com/q75dhm4

    meanwhile from Larry's neck of the woods

    http://www.thestar.com/life/2007/04/02/creationism_debate_continues_to_evolve.html

    ReplyDelete
  13. And this from mine (didn't know you could include links), and then I've said enough here: https://paulbraterman.wordpress.com/2013/09/16/reviewed-young-earth-creationist-books-handed-out-in-scottish-primary-school/

    ReplyDelete
  14. "Do there also need to be laws banning the teaching of astrology, climate change denial, homeopathy, and Thatcherism? "

    Creationism is a legitimate special case - because it IS being taught as science by teachers who are required to teach valid science, and, it undermines the entire scientific method.

    "The government funding agreement notes that creationism "... should not be presented to pupils at the Academy as a scientific theory ..." Why not?"

    Because these are young kids, not college students. Kids that don't know any science yet, and who deserve not to be confused just to accommodate creationists. Creationism is simply not relevant in a science class at this level.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Its a special case of censorship because they, in their mind, are teaching christian doctrines are false.
      Its state control of intellectual conclusions.
      Must be very special because nazi/commie/ everyone else gave this such a bad name back in the day.
      Its a fear of the modern creation movement and a desire to influence kids minds.
      This censorship is evil and illegal. yet maybe the kids will rebel against this other brick in the wall.
      Don't tell them what is right and wrong by censoring the dangerous famous other option.
      I still also say its left wing attacks against God and Genesis ib a nation famous for teaching that when she rose from obscurity to heights only now descending.
      I think it brings attention to what must be very little discussion in england.
      its alse offensive to ID thinkers to say they don't do science. They think they do. do it well, do it better on these matters. YEC also does science or argues no one does on origin issues.
      North america is where its at in intellectual matters these years.
      This would never of happened 20/30 years ago just alone because of a monopoly.
      They will not prevail FOR THE TIMES THEY ARE ACHANGING!

      Delete
    2. @ Robert Byers

      You last post is the epitome of Poe's Law

      Remind me - were you being no less sarcastic than Roger Ebert?
      http://www.rogerebert.com/rogers-journal/creationism-your-questions-answered




      Delete
  15. FYI

    ...this thread has bliped on Uncommondescent.com

    http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/one-year-on-larry-moran-attacks-uk-ban-on-teaching-of-non-naturalistic-theories-of-origins-in-state-funded-science-classes/

    ReplyDelete
  16. It would seem that no matter how many times Prof. Moran is told that fundamentalist religion is far stronger in the United States then it is in Canada and Great Britain, he persists in promoting the idea that creationism should be taught in public high schools and public colleges here for purposes of refutation. This large population of fundamentalist believers translates into a much larger population of creationist biology teachers in the US then in Canada and Great Britain. Allowing those miscreants to teach creationism in public high schools is akin to selling gasoline to a pyromaniac. Public school teachers have no more right to teach creationism, which they will do if the handcuffs are removed, in public schools then they have to deny the atomic theory of matter or the germ/virus theory of disease.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The problem is mostly not that fundamentalism is stronger in the US. The problems are:

      1. All alleged "weaknesses" of evolution as cited by creationists are based on factual falsehoods or redefinitions of the scientific method (e.g. God of the Gaps.) In contrast to other scientific theories, when a teacher teaches the "weaknesses" of evolution, the odds are 99.9% that he/she is teaching factual falsehoods and/or redefining the scientific method. Either one is academic malpractice.

      2. There are no known instances of any creationist teacher teaching the strengths AND weaknesses of evolution, the evidence for evolution AND against it, at any public school in the USA, ever. In contrast to other scientific theories, in every case that we know of when a creationist teacher addressed evolution (and we know of many), the creationists ONLY teach alleged evidences against evolution (e.g. "There are no beneficial mutations") and *never* present evidence for it (e.g. Caroline Crocker, John Freshwater, the guy at Ball State, etc.) And the evidence against it is a uniform string of falsehoods, e.g. "There are no transitional fossils", "No fossils existed before the Cambrian explosion", etc. etc.

      Facts 1 and 2 put the teaching of evolution into a different cultural context than most other theories.

      Delete
    2. @colnago80

      It may come as a bit of a surprise to you but when I talk about teaching I'm not always thinking about how it should be done in some foreign country (USA).

      But if half of what you say is true then you better concentrate on improving teachers in America rather than relying on the courts to protect you from creationists. Recent Supreme Court decisions are very scary. It seems as though you are only one vote away from disaster. That could include a decision allowing creationism to be taught in schools.

      You don't have backup plan if that happens.

      Delete
    3. Re Prof. Moran

      I entirely agree with the suggestion of improving teachers in the USA. Unfortunately, the teaching profession here is not held in the highest repute and is the subject of vicious attacks by the Reichwing (see cretins like Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and former Florida governor and potential next president Jeb Bush who are gung ho for privatization of the public schools). The best and the brightest tend not to go into the teaching profession at the primary and secondary school level.

      As for 1 vote away from disaster, you don't know the half of it. Justice Ginsburg is 81 years old and not in the best of health. I doubt she will make it to 2020. If a Rethuglican is elected in 2016, a distinct possibility, chances are he will get to name her replacement. Creationism in the schools is only one item on the theocratic agenda. Overturning today's court decision on same sex marriage is another high priority item on their agenda. There are others. Many parts of the USA are already starting to resemble Iran (where by the way evolution is taught in the schools).

      You are absolutely correct. I don't have a backup plan in case of another Scalia replacing Ginsburg. At this point, the only plan I have is to help a Democrat get elected in 2016. Hillary Clinton, the likely candidate, carries a lot of baggage but the alternatives in the Rethuglican Party are far worse. Some of the Rethuglican candidates make Stephen Harper look like a flaming liberal. All in all it's a sad situation for your Southern neighbor.

      Delete
    4. While the Supremes are surely capable of anything (my "favorite" is the Rehnquist opinion finding insurance limitations on pregnancy care not to be gender-related), I am relatively sanguine regarding the Court's First Amendment creationism-related jurisprudence. My guess, should any such case ever arise (and I think that's unlikely, as witness the Thomas More Law Center's failure to appeal the Kitzmiller decision - they know the deck is stacked against, and have no wish for a Supreme Court decision putting that in writing), the vote would be 6-3 at the closest, with only Alito, Scalia, and Thomas capable of coming out for creationism as not embodying the idea of a Creator. In fact, I wouldn't put 8-1 out of the realm of possibility (I have no hope of Thomas ever seeing sense on anything).

      Delete
  17. @ Diogenes

    Your observations bear witness to a corollary of Poe's Law

    Nothing is idiot proof to a sufficiently determined IDiot

    Larry's idealism, while laudable, is untenable. Science Curricula must be strictly defined and its teaching must be strictly enforced. Those not prepared to do so, must be obliged to quit the teaching profession.

    I see no other way.

    Sadly, this proffered solution is also politically untenable (cf "Wedge" and "teach-the-controversy" strategyms) unless of course, Gould's NOMA are also strictly adhered to.

    On this matter I think Gould's insights have proven to be uncannily prescient!



    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I continue to be simultaneously bemused by and alarmed at the specious sophistry of uncommondescent mirroring this thread as we speak.

      http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/one-year-on-larry-moran-attacks-uk-ban-on-teaching-of-non-naturalistic-theories-of-origins-in-state-funded-science-classes/


      kairosfocus commented on the Moran/Coyne contradiction of NOMA and assertion that science "hits Abrahamic religions in the solar plexus. "

      kairosfocus I suggest, as fair comment, that this is lab coat clad indoctrination and ideological polarisation controlled by a priori materialism and by failure to address serious worldview issues and alternatives in a fair fashion, rather than a responsibly articulated view.

      In a nutshell, it abuses the prestige of science.



      vjtorley responds

      Hi kairosfocus,

      Thank you for your comments, and thanks also for your highly pertinent quotes on evolutionary epistemology.

      At the end of the day, the take-home message is: the conclusions of a mind that supposedly evolved in order to address practical questions cannot be relied on, when they relate to abstract or theoretical matters.

      Evolutionists might counter that even theoretical hypotheses can still be tested (and falsified) empirically, but that doesn’t address the deeper problem: how do you know you’ve selected the right hypothesis to test in the first place? There are, for all we know, infinitely many hypotheses which might explain whatever it is that you’re trying to explain. How do you select the right one in the first place?

      The reply scientists typically make is that we should select the simplest hypothesis we know of. But while the simplest hypothesis may be the most convenient for us, that doesn’t make it true.

      Your quotes from Coyne are also telling: there certainly is an issue of “lab coat clad indoctrination” which needs to be confronted head-on.


      To paraphrase Wolgang Pauli, both of these IDiots are not even wrong anymore.

      However, the card they are is a strong one that could prove successful in the long term. If the connection between science and atheism is accepted as given by both sides of the non-debate, then we have lost both the non-debate and the battle!

      ... just saying

      Delete
    2. However, the card they are playing is a strong one...

      Delete
    3. If the connection between science and atheism is accepted as given by both sides of the non-debate, then we have lost both the non-debate and the battle!

      In other words, "Let us hope it is not true, but if it is, let us pray that it will not become generally known."

      If it turns out to be true that science and religion are not compatible are we supposed to pretend otherwise for the sake of harmony? Do you want me to lie for Jesus? :-)

      Delete
    4. Lab-coat-clad indoctrination... Dr Gauger, I presume?

      Delete
    5. Still preferred over green screen indoctrination.

      As I have stated many times, a distinguishing feature of right wing propaganda is the unequal use of verbs. We "indoctrinate", "impose our beliefs" and "ram it down their throats." While creationists, by contrast, "share their faith."

      Remember how conservatives reacted to the Vanity Fair cover with Caitlyn Jenner on it? Bryan Fischer and the other conservatives screamed "They're ramming down our throats!" Because the Jenner photo was one among hundreds of magazines at the checkout line. Half of those magazines have scantily clad women on the cover, and conservative Christians walk past them and say nothing. But when the leaders of conservative Christianity see one magazine among hundreds that has a photo of a lady with an implied penis, they start screaming "It's being rammed down my throat!" Any thought of a penis makes them fantasize being orally raped. Hmm. If only there was a word for this condition.

      Delete
    6. Hi Larry

      Re: ”If the connection between science and atheism is accepted as given by both sides of the non-debate, then we have lost both the non-debate and the battle!”

      LM: If it turns out to be true that science and religion are not compatible are we supposed to pretend otherwise for the sake of harmony? Do you want me to lie for Jesus? :-)

      LOL

      No not at all! Stephen Jay Gould said it best: ”“NOMA represents a principled position on moral and intellectual grounds, not a mere diplomatic stance.”

      ITMT, I remind you that your contention that science and religion are indeed incompatible may be a minority opinion held only by diehard Empirical Positivists aka “Reductionists” (but again we rehash).

      It was all already said on this thread – and I tend to agree with Barb & Joe on this score:

      http://sandwalk.blogspot.ca/2014/02/jason-rosenhouse-agrees-that-evolution.html

      I just finished a delightful light read by Stephen Hawking entitled Grand Design and his take on the Anthropic Principle

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthropic_principle

      I was struck by Hawking’s take on “Conway's Game of Life”. Simply put, “Intelligent Design” (i.e prima facie irreducible complexity) can appear to be an emergent property of primitive fundamental rules for a simple system.

      Richard Dawkins welcomed Hawking’s latest with
      "Darwinism kicked God out of biology but physics remained more uncertain. Hawking is now administering the coup de grace."

      http://www.economist.com/blogs/babbage/2010/09/science_and_religion

      I see it differently. Perhaps a modern version of Spinoza’s dual-aspect monism can be resurrected. (I always admired Spinoza). Jung’s double-aspect theory also jumps to mind. (OK, I concede that Jung was flakey)

      All I am saying is that according to your particular epistemology, the conflict between science and religion is necessary.

      I counter that your distinction between superstition and rationalism is a false dichotomy. Don’t take my word for it, just observe that other scientists disagree with you. You need not be “lying for Jesus” to objectively report that other worthy venerable scientific minds (including Gould & Dobzhansky) do not share your positivist pessimism. Frankly I find it peculiar that you deny the pope is infallible while apparently claiming you yourself are.

      Delete
    7. Your logic is sound. The demarcation problem has not been solved and there's still debate among knowledgeable scientists and philosophers concerning whether science and religion are compatible. Thus, as you point out, people like me should inform students that some experts believe that science and religion are separate ways of knowing.

      However, the same is true of people like you when you are standing in front of a classroom. You are obligated to point out that many experts disagree with you and claim that science and religion are incompatible.

      This logic applies to any organization that says science and religion are compatible. That's not a universal opinion that can be presented as a fact.

      Delete
    8. re:
      people like me should inform students that some experts believe that science and religion are separate ways of knowing.

      Oh dear... Beware! You shall become the target of enhanced enmity if you would now deny our common foe their specious subterfuges aka wedge & teach the controversy stratagems.

      re:
      You are obligated to point out that many experts disagree with you and claim that science and religion are incompatible.

      As a matter of fact, I do just that! In class, I also feel obligated to point out that atheists are not necessarily evil and their POV not only deserves respect but perhaps even admiration given any act of kindness or charity on their part is done without expectation of some future celestial pay-off (tip of the hat to JP Sartre)

      As I mentioned earlier - respect is a two-way street; a message my students get loud and clear.

      Once that is out of the way... teaching the science is much easier and resistance to Evolutionary Theory is minimized. My more recent exit surveys speak for themselves. Meanwhile some local pastors are livid with unchristian rage at the success of my less confrontational approach.


      Delete
    9. @Tom

      Hmmmm ... I'm not sure I understand what you are doing. Apparently you teach your students that many prominent scientists and philosophers agree that science and religion are incompatible. Presumably you explain why they hold this view.

      Now you say that "teaching science is much eadier and resistence to Evolutionary Theory is minimized" when you do that. I suppose that's because you place far more emphasis on the compatibilty position and tell students that this is the stance you think is right.

      That's okay but what about teachers like me who have a different opinion? Is it okay for them to emphasize their preference for incompatibility? What if that makes it harder to teach evolution?

      Delete
    10. Hi Larry

      Re:
      Larry Moran
      “I'm not sure I understand what you are doing.

      Both our approaches seem to be remarkably similar.

      I begin with Dobzhansky’s dictum: “Nothing in Biology makes sense except in the light of Evolution!”

      High school teachers do not enjoy the same luxury as University profs (as already explained by Barb Wilson). The major problem that I confront head on is what I consider to be the false dichotomy that either one “believes in the Bible” or one “believes in Evolution” BUT one cannot simultaneously believe in both.

      I tread a fine line here: I tell my students that I am certain many present in my classroom hold that the two are mutually even while I do not. I then tell my students that if they insist on disagreeing with Evolution; that's OK, but the onus still remains that they, at a minimum, must understand and be able to explain Evolutionary Theory as required by the curriculum (as explained above). I have no intention of dictating belief.

      I then provide a quick synopsis of opinion. In brief & broad strokes:

      1 – Creation Science aka Intelligent Design. Both embrace some version of faith in contradiction of the “scientific method” in general and Evolution in particular. There are many versions of “creationism”: the most extreme version is YEC which postulates the Earth is only 6 000 years old according to a literal reading of the Bible.

      2 – Empirical Positivism aka Reductionism. An embrace of the “scientific method” as the sole criterion of “truth” is embraced by some (many?) scientists to the exclusion of any non-empirical “belief” including any notion of the spiritual. Such scientists believe “scientific method” logically leads to atheism. (Emphasis on the word “believe”; it still is all about which version of epistemology is embraced among different alternatives i.e “demarcation”) I would be most remiss, if I ignored this cogent POV worthy of respect.

      3 – Some Point of view between these two logical extremes. Many (some?) scientists in fact embrace some interpretation of Faith as “true” while simultaneously embracing Evolution as “true”. Both represent separate ways of “knowing”. Another cogent POV, worthy of respect.

      Dobzhansky and Gould would be an examples of number 3.

      So to recap:

      Larry Moran

      The demarcation problem has not been solved and there's still debate among knowledgeable scientists and philosophers concerning whether science and religion are compatible. Thus, as you point out, people like me should inform students that some experts believe that science and religion are separate ways of knowing.

      Agreed !

      Larry Moran

      However, the same is true of people like you when you are standing in front of a classroom. You are obligated to point out that many experts disagree with you and claim that science and religion are incompatible

      Agreed! Done and done!

      Tom Mueller

      Once that is out of the way... teaching the science is much easier and resistance to Evolutionary Theory is minimized.

      What I meant to say:

      Once students are presented the three logical alternatives as outlined above, students need no longer perceive Evolutionary Theory as a challenge to their core beliefs: at a minimum, Evolutionary Theory is NOT predicated on atheism. Once that is out of the way, the teaching becomes much easier.

      I think we are converging on a conceptual asymptote. It would appear that both of us embrace different versions of “accommodation”.

      Delete
    11. Final Point:

      Can version #1 also be considered a cogent POV, worthy of respect? Students invariably bring this up.

      According to my logic: yes, but on one condition, everyone understands that the “empirical method” is being explicitly rejected to do so. That’s OK, I have had many a debate with rabbis (smarter than I will ever be) that do just that, and say so in class.

      I think this may be our major point of divergence. In any case, I am professionally obligated to acknowledge and respect this POV and can never be perceived as belittling any student's core beliefs.

      ITMT - my caveat represents the Achilles' heel of Uncommondescent and their ilk. They pretend to be empirical when they are not. My students understand and appreciate this nuance.

      Delete
    12. It saddens me to see that you are misleading your students in order to promote your own personal point of view.

      Your verson #2 does not represent my point of view nor that of Jerry Coyne. it certainly isn't the view of any of the scientists and philosophers I've been referring to. You keep accusing us of being "positivists" as though we all have a metaphysical committment to naturalism. That is a lie.

      As I've said time and time again, we are perfectly willing to explore supernatural explanations and we are perfectly willing to entertain the notion that truth can be found through some other way of knowing.

      So far, nobody has provided any evidence that supernatural beings are acting and nobody has come up with a "truth" that has been discovered using a nonscientific way of knowing. That is not the view that you are presenting to your students when you call us empirical positivists and/or reductionists. You know full well that both those terms are pejorative, especially when used by someone like you who is convinced that the views you are demeaning are wrong.

      When you describe version #3, what are the truths that religion has discovered, according to you? If religion is going to be described as a separate, and successful, way of knowing distinct from science, then surely there must be at least one example of knowledge that religion has discovered. What is is and why is that knowledge not widely accepted like the knowledge gained by the scientific way of knowing?

      Delete
    13. What is it and why is that knowledge not widely accepted like the knowledge gained by the scientific way of knowing?

      I would say it *is* rather widely accepted (different bits by different large groups - in the cases of Christianity and Islam, a billion or more people each), but I wouldn't use such acceptance as proof of anything.

      Perhaps it would help to specify what you mean by "accepted," and who you mean by "widely."

      Delete
    14. Larry

      I understand your argument (and Coyne's) regarding tautologies that beg the question. However, high school is not a venue to broach that subject.

      I actually never use the expression "Positivism" in class. We are talking about high school students fer crying out loud. I need to quickly explain the controversy in simple terms and quickly move on to Biology as quickly as possible. I was merely attempting to explain my rationale to you above.

      Here is what in fact I say to my students without resorting to short-cuts:

      There may be two separate ways of “knowing”: empirical and non-empirical. (Emphasis on the word “may”.)

      1- Some great thinkers embrace religious faith, which by definition represent non-empirical "truths". Some even hold that doing so necessarily contradicts Evolutionary Theory. According to them, it is impossible to believe in the Bible and in Evolution at the same time. I myself have great respect for many such thinkers, eg I hold in high esteem some very intelligent rabbis with whom I have enjoyed many heated debates.

      Given the general high esteem for the success of the scientific method, some intellectually dishonest charlatans would pretend that “Creation Science” (aka ID) is possible. They are frauds.

      2 – Many scientists are in fact atheists who claim that science and religion are incompatible. They see themselves in heroic terms, fighting on the side of rationalism vs. superstition. Many even welcome the suggestion that Evolutionary Theory constitutes an attack on Faith. I myself have great respect for such thinkers, they are honest and sincere and their POV (given their premises) is cogent.

      3 – Some great scientists (Dobzhansky & Gould would be examples) believe that science and religion are separate ways of knowing and that science does not and cannot contradict faith. It is possible to simultaneously be spiritual and scientific. It is possible to believe in both the Bible and in Evolution provided one does not read the Bible literally as a scientific textbook. For example, there is no celestial firmament separating our world from the primordial waters somewhere out in Outer Space as described in Genesis. Neither are there windows in any such firmament that G-d opened to in order to allow Noah’s flood. Astronauts do not need scuba gear. I myself belong to camp #3.

      I then explain that what was described above is actually very much a simplification, perhaps even an over-simplification.

      I continue to explain that the arguments back and forth become very subtle and nuanced, but we have no time, in class, to go into detail. Suffice it to say that many in camps 1 & 2 would be eager to contradict me. If students are interested in pursuing the subject further, I invite them to see me outside of class. When they do so, I then refer them to sites such as this blog, among others. Meanwhile, I urge them to enroll in philosophy courses when they eventually attend university.

      Bottom Line: There exist many great scientists who belong in camp #3. Evolutionary Theory does not have to be an attack on Religious Faith unless one adopts a hard line religious POV or a hard line scientific POV.

      Re:
      LM: When you describe version #3, what are the truths that religion has discovered, according to you? If religion is going to be described as a separate, and successful, way of knowing distinct from science, then surely there must be at least one example of knowledge that religion has discovered. What is is and why is that knowledge not widely accepted like the knowledge gained by the scientific way of knowing?

      I do not have time in Biology class to address these straw-man arguments. My mandate is to teach science and not religion nor epistemology. The fact that my students presume my sympathies lie with option #3 (emphasis on the word “presume”) eliminates yet one more impediment to their giving Evolutionary Theory the full accord it deserves.

      I hope you are no longer "saddened".

      Delete
    15. Tom,

      You're trying to have it both ways. You launch into a big spiel about religion and epistemology, and then when Larry asks a simple and obvious question, you disclaim all interest.

      Your students presume you support option 3 because you explicitly said you support option 3. Now, I find your explanations of all three options seriously wanting, and Larry's question tries to explore one of the problems.

      What is this religious "way of knowing"? How can it tell us what's true? Why do you support it? Another possibly illuminating question: is a magic 8-ball a way of knowing, and is it as valid as the religious way?

      Delete
    16. Hi John

      It would appear that you are in disagreement with Larry & I

      I happen to agree with Larry when he said:

      The demarcation problem has not been solved and there's still debate among knowledgeable scientists and philosophers concerning whether science and religion are compatible

      It appears you disagree.

      Larry then conceded (I tip my hat btw)

      people like me should inform students that some experts believe that science and religion are separate ways of knowing.


      amen!

      As I remember, you do not agree.

      Larry then adds

      You are obligated to point out that many experts disagree with you and claim that science and religion are incompatible.


      Again, amen!

      Now remember the original question was how far a high school teacher can take this in class. At this point, I am already pushing the envelope.

      Re your Now, I find your explanations of all three options seriously wanting,


      Of course! Please read my remarks on simplification and oversimplification wrt to my target audience I.e. High school students.

      Re your What is this religious "way of knowing"? How can it tell us what's true?

      In the context of appropriate instruction in a high school class, your question is irrelevant.

      Re your when Larry asks a simple and obvious question, you disclaim all interest.

      Seriously?! Please refer to

      http://sandwalk.blogspot.com/2015/06/uk-bans-teaching-of-creationism.html?showComment=1435628107103&m=1#c5525006908991270404

      I am intrigued by Larry's interesting tactical retreat:

      Your verson #2 does not represent my point of view nor that of Jerry Coyne. it certainly isn't the view of any of the scientists and philosophers I've been referring to. You keep accusing us of being "positivists" as though we all have a metaphysical committment to naturalism. That is a lie.

      Actually, my latest version of #2 was meticulously cut & pasted from Larry's posts. Of course Larry is a "Positivist". No other label possibly fits his thesis. I welcome correction, on the understanding we are no longer discussing how this topic is to be broached in a high school class.


      Delete
    17. Tom,

      If you aren't going to reply to me, then I would appreciate it if you wouldn't start long posts with "Hi John".

      Delete
    18. @John

      The post you addressed to me had three paragraphs

      My response to you addressed each of your paragraphs, specifically:

      1- having it both ways
      2- seriously wanting
      3- ways of knowing



      Delete
    19. I find your responses nonresponsive. The only answer you give to any of my questions is "that's irrelevant here". You didn't answer my questions, and you didn't answer Larry's questions.

      Any replies to my statements (as opposed to the unanswered questions) were, at best, oblique.

      Perhaps you weren't trying to do that, but if not, you are suffering from a severe communication failure.

      Delete
    20. We are talking about high school students fer crying out loud.

      Hey Tom,

      It's heartening to see how little regard you have for the students in your charge.

      Assuming you actually have any students.

      Based on the (astounding lack of) content of your posts I'm finding it increasingly difficult to believe that any responsible school board would let you anywhere near impressionable children.

      On the (very) small chance that you actually are a teacher I take heart in the fact that these high school students can see through the thin veneer of rationality and perceive the underlying gibbering core of irrationality.

      It's sad to see the utter contempt that you have for children and I think this is typical of the religious mindset where children are seen as chattels who are but vessels to shape into images of yourself.

      Contrast this with teachers like Prof. Moran who strives to give his students the necessary intellectual toolkit to become productive members of society.

      Delete
    21. @Tom

      I am not a Positivist.

      Here's what you should should tell your students.

      1. The scientifuc way of knowing requires evidence, rational thinking, and healthy skepicism.

      2. There may be other ways of discovering truth that do not require any evidence. They may require irrational thinking and/or blind faith or some combination of those three nonscientific criteria.

      3. The scientific way of knowing has been remarkably successful so we are confident that it produces genuine knowledge.

      4. No other way of knowing has produced anything that is generally accepted as genuine knowledge. (Students are encouraged to discuss possible exceptions.)

      5. We tentatively conclude that all genuine knowledge must be evidence-based and involve rational thinking (logic).

      6. All other claims of knowledge conflict with the scientific way of knowing and are not generally accepted as true. This includes most of the world's religions where particular "truths" are only accepted by the faith and traditions of their adherants.

      Delete
    22. Hi Larry

      re
      LM: "I am not a Positivist."

      Of course you are!

      Correct me if I am wrong.

      If I read you correctly, you maintain that only statements verifiable either logically or empirically would be cognitively meaningful; ergo your repeated challenge to me to cite only one example of knowledge that is not empirical.

      I suggest we avoid a puerile shouting match: “yes you are – no I’m not, but what are you?”

      You have the privilege of hobnobbing with some of the greatest philosophers in Canada at the University of Toronto. Next time you are enjoying a beer in the Faculty Lounge, explain your version of Truth (as outlined in your post to me above) and I will bet you the price of lunch (next time I am in Toronto) that your colleague will label you a “Logical Empiricist”.

      OK OK, I admit that may have been unfair. In fact you yourself have conceded on previous occasion that you are not yet in a position to “positively” determine all knowledge is in fact empirical.

      LM: "I don't know if it will eventually be possible to account for mental facts on the basis of physical facts. Right now I have to assume it will be possible because there's no other explanation that makes any sense."

      http://tinyurl.com/plbf2da

      Delete
    23. Hi Larry

      re
      LM: "Here's what you should should tell your students."

      I do not tell my students anything! I do not proselytize and I most certainly will not go out of my way to challenge their core beliefs which would only impede their learning the science.

      As you yourself have already conceded:

      LM The demarcation problem has not been solved and there's still debate among knowledgeable scientists and philosophers concerning whether science and religion are compatible…

      I will save your six points and present them to interested students (outside of class) as an exemplar of the thesis that ”… science and religion are not compatible” to be placed at the end of this continuum.

      http://ncse.com/creationism/general/creationevolution-continuum

      FTR: you may find this link interesting:

      http://ncse.com/news/2015/06/francisco-ayala-receives-gould-award-0016471

      NCSE congratulates Francisco J. Ayala for winning the 2015 Stephen Jay Gould Prize from the Society for the Study of Evolution.

      ITMT, in my science class, I will continue to defer to the National Academy of Science on this sensitive subject:

      http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=11876&page=49

      Delete
    24. Tom, rather than defer to authority, even so authoritative as an authority as the NAS, you might consider thinking for yourself. And you might try to encourage others to think for themselves rather than trying to shut down opposition by arguing from authority.

      Delete
    25. @Tom the nit-picker

      If I read you correctly, you maintain that only statements verifiable either logically or empirically would be cognitively meaningful; ergo your repeated challenge to me to cite only one example of knowledge that is not empirical.

      As usual, you do not read me correctly.

      I'm open to any way of knowing that produces knowledge. The only one that's been proven to work is one that relies on evidence. If someone can show me another way then I'm happy to embrace it.

      I'm a pragmatist. I do not have a metaphysical commitment to positivism although my tentative conclusion is that science is the only way of knowing.

      OK OK, I admit that may have been unfair. In fact you yourself have conceded on previous occasion that you are not yet in a position to “positively” determine all knowledge is in fact empirical.

      Exactly. I am not a positivist.

      I suggest we avoid a puerile shouting match: ...

      Good advice. Why not follow it?

      Delete
    26. Re:
      ”And you might try to encourage others to think for themselves rather than trying to shut down opposition by arguing from authority.

      My job is to facilitate learning and not dictate belief.

      You should be pleased that I do not tell my students what to believe but rather present my students the entire spectrum of options available and then ask them to make up their minds on their own. My opinion is immaterial. I welcome and even encourage opinion that differs from mine.

      ITMT – I will continue to adhere to Larry’s imperatives:

      LM: people like me should inform students that some experts believe that science and religion are separate ways of knowing.

      Together with

      LM: You are obligated to point out that many experts disagree with you and claim that science and religion are incompatible.

      If only all Biology teachers would follow Larry’s suggestions! I presume we agree – or am I again ”appealing to authority” by citing Larry?

      http://tinyurl.com/pse73pr

      Delete
    27. @ Tom the nit-picker

      Last Thursday, Tom said "Here is what in fact I say to my students ..."

      I responded the next day by saying "Here's what you should should tell your students ..."

      This morning Tom said ....

      re: LM: "Here's what you should should tell your students."

      I do not tell my students anything! I do not proselytize ....


      I don't have time to put up with your childishness. Do you really think there's a difference between "say" and "tell" in this context?

      ... and I most certainly will not go out of my way to challenge their core beliefs which would only impede their learning the science.

      As you yourself have already conceded:


      I have "conceded" no such thing. In fact, I've been saying (telling?) for decades that the best way to teach critical thinking is to challenge students' core beliefs. I've even provided evidence in the form of papers from the pedagogical literature that supports this stance.

      Goodbye Tom. I will not respond to any more of your lies about me.

      Delete
    28. @ Larry

      LM: Exactly. I am not a positivist

      I am baffled that you cannot perceive the contradiction in your last post. Your contention that "mental facts" must be "physical facts" even though that has yet to be proven; together with everything else you have said about empirical knowledge; can only mean that you have thrown your hat in with the "Positivist" crowd; Logical Empiricism actually.

      I am also perplexed that we managed to descend into exactly the exchange I was hoping to avoid:

      a puerile shouting match: “yes you are – no I’m not, but what are you?”

      My challenge to you stands:

      Cut and paste this exchange and present it to your colleague. If his philosophy credentials are in order and he confirms that you are NOT a "positivist": lunch is on me - or at your discretion, I will cut and mail you a cheque for dinner for two.

      Until then, I have nothing more to say on the subject.


      Delete
    29. Larry

      we just cross-posted. I intended no offense - please accept my apologies.

      It would appear I remain confused on your two contentions:

      LM: people like me should inform students that some experts believe that science and religion are separate ways of knowing.

      Together with

      LM: You are obligated to point out that many experts disagree with you and claim that science and religion are incompatible.

      I suggest your later more apparently contradictory "hard-line" post on what I "should tell" my students was less accommodating of differing POVs than you lead me to believe.

      My apologies again. I still stand by my wager. You have my email address, if I owe you either the lunch or the cheque.

      best and grateful regards

      Delete
  18. @Larry,

    I think that the problem begins right at the beginning with the definition of "creationism". I have done some reading on the theme and found it nearly impossible to find one flexible definition for creationism. I was surprised to learn that even YEC and OEC differ greatly in their beliefs of creation among themselves.
    I found it interesting though that some "creationists" believe in an "evolution" within KINDS after the flood, either guided or unguided. I'm still waiting for the confirmation from one really good source.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What would count as a really good source? And what problem are you referring to?

      Delete
    2. What would count as a really good source?

      A psychic medium channeling the spirit of Noah.

      Delete
    3. Tell us, QuesDick, how creationists themselves define creationism. Here's a tip: start with "Of Pandas and People", the ID textbook written mostly by fellows of the Discovery Institute. Compare its definition of "creationism" in early drafts with its definition of "intelligent design" in later drafts.

      Also, please consult the expert witness testimony of Dean Kenyon, creationist and fellow of the Discovery Institute, and main author of "Of Pandas and People", that he submitted to the US Supreme Court on 1986. In there, the DI fellow and proponent of creationism defines creationism for us. Compare it to his textbook's later definitions of "creationism" and "intelligent design."

      Delete
    4. I'll help you out, QuesDick. Here is how Dean Kenyon-- author of Of Pandas and People and fellow of the Discovery Institute, defined "creation-science" in his affidavit in the Supreme Court case Edwards v. Aguillard.

      Creation-science means origin through abrupt appearance in complex form, and includes biological creation, biochemical creation (or chemical creation), and cosmic creation. (...) Creation-science does not include as essential parts the concepts of catastrophism, a world-wide flood, a recent inception of the earth or life, from nothingness (ex nihilo), the concept of kinds, or any concepts from Genesis or other religious texts.

      Now compare this to the definition of "Intelligent Design" in later drafts of Of Pandas and People, which Kenyon wrote with Michael Behe and Nancy Pearcey, and the definition of "creationism" in its earlier drafts.

      Delete
    5. Me me... can I answer that question please?!

      Intelligent Design is a deceitful dissimulation, a fraudulent fig leaf that fails to cover up the bedrock of ”Creation Science”.

      "creation science" & "intelligent design" are synonymous!!! As suggestion to the contrary is beyond disingenuous.

      Check out this interesting graph:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intelligent_design#/media/File:Pandas_text_analysis.png

      from Wikipedia:

      Discovery Institute report says that Charles B. Thaxton, editor of Pandas, had picked the phrase up from a NASA scientist, and thought "That's just what I need, it's a good engineering term."[32] In drafts of the book, over one hundred uses of the root word "creation," such as "creationism" and "Creation Science," were changed, almost without exception, to "intelligent design,"[15] while "creationists" was changed to "design proponents" or, in one instance, "cdesign proponentsists" [sic].[14]

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intelligent_design

      "cdesign proponentsists" ???? LOL Dontchya just love Microsoft Word!?

      Bringing up the subject of transitional forms dontchya know...

      (My turn to ellipsis...)

      Delete
  19. Let's face it; if biologist teaching evolution and the origins of life were asked to provide scientific evidence for their teachings just as creationists are asked to do, both sides would end up out of the curriculums.

    Unfortunately, for no particular reason, Darwinist get a break..... why? They don't have to provide scientific evidence, because they created an escape for the lack of scientific evidence; it's called hypothesis. They were allowed to add " scientific" instead of evidence they were supposed provide . This is how the Darwinian circus spins.....Only the Devil knows not only "why" but "how"....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ignorance is such an ugly thing - especially when it is presented as some sort of common sense 'fact.'

      I for one am not so sure that teaching creationism or IDC would be a bad thing - as long as it is taught competently and honestly (which, sadly, it seems a number of American high school teachers will not or cannot do), for to do so would demonstrate clearly that the creationist camp has nothing but nit picking, fallacious "logic", attacks, phony nonsense, analogies presented as evidence, etc.

      Delete
    2. History of science doesn't really need to be taught as good guys vs bad guys. It can be taught as successive approximations to understanding.

      My ninth grade science class was pretty much a generic history of science, covering basics physics, chemistry and cosmology. I would add biology and geology.

      Delete
    3. When ever I read/watch histories of science its common that those who challenged , later prevailing, were treated as bad guys. So why not THOSE accusers are the bad guys? its not just addition of knowledge but real human conflict in deciding who is right. I think of bretz and many.
      In fact a poster here said he faced aggressive rejection, even accused of not doing science, and so on on minor issues. Felsenstein.
      case in point. i see it always in histories with any new innovation. that wins in the end.probably also wromng ideas got the same treatment but indeed were wrong. hostility is not proof you are right.
      Its funny to me to see creationism attacked and banned by law just like so much in science history. Galileo eh. . its a worthy heritage.
      Why so afraid of error in small circles??
      Because they are afraid it touches on christianity which they struggle against still to diminish. Its really all religious bigotry and not defenders of science methodology and conclusions.

      Anyways its impossible for a free people to have dictated to them what is and is not truth.
      Remember what Locke wrote. If the modern english know who that is.

      Delete
    4. Anyways its impossible for a free people to have dictated to them what is and is not truth.

      That's right, you live in a democracy, so you laugh at gravity. Must save plenty on air travel.

      Delete
    5. Anyways its impossible for a free people to have dictated to them what is and is not truth.

      Except, of course, when sitting in the pews.

      Delete
  20. Ellipses again? What is it with creationists and punctuation?

    Of course there's evidence. Nobody says a scientific hypothesis is evidence. But when you test that hypothesis, there's the evidence.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's just Quest forgetting that s/he is using a sock puppet.

      When one have the attention span of a goldfish perhaps it's better not to multitask.

      Delete
    2. I'm not sure that all creationists who don't know how punctuation works can be considered sock puppets of Quest.

      Delete
    3. It's not just the punctuation that identifies Quest. It's also

      1. Repeatedly claiming that we have never presented evidence for evolution after we have done so many times; then creating a new sock puppet and making the same claim over again, pretending it wasn't addressed last time

      2. Changing the subject of every thread to OOL-- "Off to the Origin of Life" as Joe F puts it-- no matter the topic, and pretending like we didn't address it before. We could be talking about poutine, and Pest would say "You Darwinists haven't explained where potatoes come from."

      3. Authority quotes. Just for Quest's favorite authority quote, Doug Axe saying to real scientists, "Please join us [creationists] in doing science", Quest must have created a half-dozen or more sock puppets, each one copying the Doug Axe quote, each time pretending like we didn't debunk it last time when his previous sock puppet copied it in. Quest likes Michael Behe quotes also.

      Delete
    4. Sweating bullets? So you decided to accuse me of having a sock puppet rather than providing the scientific evidence you all have just lying around but decided not to shoot me with it because of what? Give me one reason why you decided not to shut me up? It must have been the overwhelming evidence and you just couldn't decide which one to shut me up with...

      Please do it now!

      I'm waiting................

      .............................................

      And this is the end of the very, very sad story..........

      Darwinists can't provide one piece of evidence; not even 1 that convinced them that life originated by chance..........
      And they want creationism to be banned at schools because they have just as much evidence for the origins of life as creationists do? What makes them privileged? Because they call their outright bullshit scientific bullshit? you can kiss my white ass if this means anything in the real world............

      Delete
    5. ...............................

      Delete
    6. Diogenes. Not convincing. The characteristics you mention are common to nearly all creationists, many of whom are different people.

      Delete
    7. Don't be such a hypocrite KevNick. We have given you answers to many if not most of your rather stupid claims, and you have never acknowledged any of those answers. You haven't shown that you learned something. That means that you ask hoping to get no answers, and if you get answers you won't read them. You really don't care. So why do you insist and pretend that you care if you don't? Can you explain that? ........... (ellipses added in hopes of reaching the creationist ....... I doubt this will work though .........)

      Delete
    8. "Darwinists can't provide one piece of evidence; not even 1 that convinced them that life originated by chance.........."

      'Darwinists' don't say that. That's just a straw man argument you use when you lose on the facts.

      ID/creationism shouldn't be taught as science in schools because it isn't science. It's a fairy tale for which you have zero evidence. Evolution is a fact and a theory that has been empirically tested, and continues to be tested and refined while ID/creationism hasn't added one piece of evidence to support it ever. That's the real world KevNick: evolution remains a vigourous, explanatory theory after many decades while ID/creationism has to lie to and indoctrinate children to keep going.

      Delete
    9. I'd say the most useful single bit of evidence is negative: the absence of any sign of the existence of any such superior intelligence. What, it made life and then went away forever?

      But of course it isn't just the origin of life you're interested in, is it? You also don't think you're related to a chimp, right? Perhaps you would like to consider that question, as the relevant evidence is much more abundant.

      Delete
    10. It's not going to work this time....

      complete with ellipses... hilarious!

      It's not going to work this time, like it did with Quest/Pest/Johnny!!

      I just wish the great god of the universe wouldn't hide himself so well. Events unfold just as they would if there was no god. Is he testing us, KevNick?

      Delete
    11. KevNick/Quest/whatever,

      "science" doesn't deceive children, it has saved most of their lives and educates them about the real world around them. And it never, ever, tells them we have "everything figured out". Stop projecting. That's what religious indoctrination does. It tells children it has the natural and supernatural figured out without providing any evidence for any of it. You could not be more sadly hypocritical.

      But you ask for 1 (one) piece of evidence of evolution. I could simply point you to tens of thousands of publications, textbooks, etc. examining all aspects of evolutionary theory: a rich history of empirical study that dwarfs the "research" of ID/creationists like a supernova dwarfs a drunk frat boy lighting one of his farts. But I digress. One piece of evidence:

      One prediction of evolutionary theory is vestigial structures. As species evolve, certain structures may become less useful, or even useless, and can degenerate through mutation or be co-opted for other uses. The evolution of whales is very well documented in the fossil record, but even putting aside that huge body of evidence, why do whales have greatly reduced pelvic bones and hindlimbs, so tiny and degenerate that you cannot see them from the outside? This is consistent with evolutionary theory which would predict the reduction of these structures with adaptation to an aquatic lifestyle.

      How would ID/creationism better explain these observations?

      Delete
    12. Chris B
      Science does nothing. Its people who figure things out and thats why they get awards. Science doesn't get the award.
      Its a methodology. A verb. Not a noun.
      Anyways.
      I also insist there is no biological scientific evidence for evolution and always ask them for three, just three, top evidences. Or one.
      Some try but most don't and all fail as I see it.

      Case in point is your point.. Although off thread.
      If evolution was true then bodies should be crawling with vestigial bits and pieces . Your whale is a good point. It is one of the tint tiny few creatures with bits showing a previous anatomical lifestyle.Its an exception and not a sample as evolution should predict.
      This TEC sees marine mammals as indeed former land lovers from off the ark.
      Where are the vestigial bits if evolution was true> There should be zillions of examples of ones just in some rump of its former glory?
      If they were everywhere evolutionists would be highlighting them as evidence. So why no highlighting the lack of them.?

      Very few critters have vestigial bits remaining. Very unlikely in all the time, all biology, has been evolving, and so a glaring problem for evolution.
      Very special cases have vestigial bits.
      It should not be to you a good, or any, point for evidence for evolution.
      You persuade yourself on minor details and will miss the bigger equation.

      Delete
    13. Oh, Robert Byers. Google "vestigial organs in humans" and find a long list. We don't look as carefully in other species, but off the top of my head I can think of wings in Kiwis, the palea in the first (sterile) lemma of Panicum (certain grasses), the rachilla in grasses of the genus Podagrostis and some sedges of the genus Carex (e.g. Carex filifolia), vestigial bristles (themselves reduced petals) in some sedges of the genera Schoenoplectus and Eleocharis. Vestigial eyes in blind cave-dwelling fish, insects, and crustaceans. Vestigial legs in some snakes. Vestigial dewclaws on the back legs of some cats and dogs. Vestigial petals in flowers of some species in the family Caryophyllaceae. Vestigial claws on the "thumbs" of coots. Vestigial hind toes on certain birds that don't use them. Vestigial leaf blades on the leaf sheaths of rushes of the genus Juncus subgenus Genuini and on spikerushes in the genus Eleocharis.

      Vestigial organs are not so rare that you can dismiss them. They do provide evidence for evolution of many lineages of animals and plants.

      Delete
    14. And of course any organism is bound to possess numerous important organs which are vestiges of something phylogenetically older, recruited for a novel function -- the way the mammalian middle ear is made of reduced mandibular bones.

      Delete
    15. life must have originated without the need for superior than ours intelligence....

      Because, after all, it is so much more likely that the Universe contained an all-powerful, all-knowing, complex intelligence than that it managed to give rise to a couple of self-replicating molecules here and there.

      Think about every argument you've ever used about the unlikelihood of even a few self-replicating molecules arising and in turn giving rise to viruses and one-celled organisms, then think how much more so those very same arguments apply with regard to how astronomically unlikely anything like a Designer/Creator would be to exist.

      Your very own arguments don't prove the necessity of a Creator, they prove the impossibility of one - that is, if you have sufficient intelligence to understand what you're actually saying.

      Delete
    16. There should be zillions of examples of ones just in some rump of its former glory?

      'Cause whales need foot bones in the middle of their bodies, right?

      Delete
    17. And once and for all KevNick, let this penetrate the cloud of religious dogma that shrouds your mind:

      "Give me one evidence on the origins of life "

      Evolutionary theory addresses the generation of the diversity of life here on planet Earth. The origins of life are a different, but related area of study. While science has made some progress exploring the mystery of the beginning of life, currently science cannot explain exactly how it happened. We don't know (yet?).

      This in no way negates evolutionary theory or invalidates the years of empirical research supporting evolutionary theory. Retreating to the origins trope is just a god of the gaps argument: an areas of human ignorance where you hide your god.

      What does ID/creationism offer instead? 'Uhhhhh.......God did it..." If the ID/creationist explanation of the origins of life is in any way more sophisticated than i have described it here, enlighten me, KevNick. Provide 1 (one) piece of evidence for you alternative 'hypothesis'.

      Delete
    18. And while you're at it, Kev, please tell which entity 'didit' and tell why only this entity could've 'dun it'.

      Delete
    19. One of KevNick's posts was deleted in this thread at some point between Tuesday, June 30, 2015 9:56:00 PM and Wednesday, July 01, 2015 10:51:00 AM. I wonder why.

      Delete
    20. bwilson295
      how do you dismiss my point. i clearly said relative to the diversity in biology, now/fossils and relative to all the evolving that is claimed to have gone on ITS VERY FEW vestigial bits.
      Yes the few include trivial bird details, cave fish, and some others. i don't know about flora but i'm sure its as rare, repeat rare, as creatures.
      In short I say less then 1% of living creatures have vestigial bits. That is JUST at least one.
      In reality all bodies should be crawling with bits of remnants of former body designs not now in use.
      The snake by the way is in Genesis.
      What % do you say that living creatures have at least ONE bit of vestigial remnant??
      how many creatures have two or 300??
      People have none by the way.
      This is a great point for YEC/ID.
      Evolutionism would love if vestigial bits defined anatomy of bodies in biology. They would stress them as they do marine mammals.
      Yet there is a hugh silence. Its not as it should be by light years.
      Anyways lets see your stats. You have mine.

      Delete
    21. "People have none by the way."

      Appendix any one? Coccyx any one?

      Delete
    22. People have none by the way.

      Robert, next time you look in a bathroom mirror you may notice these two things on your chest called "nipples." On a guy. Think about it.

      Delete
    23. Ed/Judmare. i don't want to be blamed for going off thread but anyways.
      These things are not vestigial in showing a previous anatomical life.
      They can work in a life before mankind was affected by the fall etc.
      Wisdom teeth are seen by us as evidence of a non meating origin which only came after the flood. We welcome them unless paining one up.

      Nipples must be from the sexual origin of humans. I mean our sex is not made right at conception. So we all have a bit of each others sexual organs.
      Are you saying they are the remnants of a single sex which we were once?
      Why do you think they are vestigial.?
      What do you think the stats are on vestigial bits relative to biology entities?

      Delete
    24. Robert, don't worry. Nobody blames you for anything, any more than we would blame an ant for following a scent trail.

      Delete
    25. Why do you think they are vestigial?

      They are a small functionless counterpart of larger functional organs. You can't feed anyone with them (but you can get cancer in them). It's the sort of thing a reasonably competent designer would never do. On the other hand, it's exactly the sort of thing evolution tends to produce (male mammals with nipples).

      Delete
    26. @Chris B,

      #1.

      ”And once and for all KevNick, let this penetrate the cloud of religious dogma that shrouds your mind:”

      Since you don’t have even 1 piece of evidence for the origins of life, you are just as religious as ID’s are just in case you weren’t aware of that……

      Here we go with all the excuses for the lack of……

      "Give me one evidence on the origins of life "

      Evolutionary theory addresses the generation of the diversity of life here on planet Earth.

      I’ve never claimed there was not diversity of life on earth. The problems is that I have not seen evolutionary evidence for the diversity of origins of new kind of life evolving from another kind. Just because KINDS change overtime it doesn’t mean they evolve into other kinds and that has been the stumbling block of evolutionary theory………

      Excuse # 1

      “The origins of life are a different, but related area of study.”
      I’d say OOL is fundamental for many reasons. If scientists one day come into conclusion that life requires unique sustaining power (as it appears now) and undetectable by scientific tools, the theory of evolution not requiring any intervention from an undetectable source would be in shambles since it is based on the assumption that life created itself by a fluke and everything else just naturally followed……

      Excuse # 2

      ”While science has made some progress exploring the mystery of the beginning of life, currently science cannot explain exactly how it happened. We don't know (yet?).”

      Exactly??? Don’t make me laugh! Science has no clue because of many, many problems one of which I just mention above.

      Not yet??? This is beyond being laughable. Here is why:

      The only attempts I know about of explaining OOL are; creating an environment for life to create itself or create it in the lab.
      The first failed miserably because such a scenario where several already complex apparatuses, such as proteins, source of energy etc. appeared somewhere in a primordial soup or an ocean at the same time is virtually unlikely and even if so happened, for them to interact leading to replication is mathematically and logically impossible….

      The creation of life in the lab failed even more miserably but let’s assume that scientist are able to create life in the lab. Would that mean that life can create itself or rather that it requires intelligence of a scientist?

      Delete
    27. @Chris B,

      Part #2

      Excuse # 3

      ”This (OOL-mine) in no way negates evolutionary theory or invalidates the years of empirical research supporting evolutionary theory. Retreating to the origins trope is just a god of the gaps argument: an areas of human ignorance where you hide your god.”

      I guess Darwin of the gaps works for you? How about the gaps in the gaps argument? Since you don’t have one piece of evidence for OOL, I’m not going to ask you for empirical one. If ignorance works for you, it’s fine with me. See also my comments above…

      “What does ID/creationism offer instead? 'Uhhhhh.......God did it..." If the ID/creationist explanation of the origins of life is in any way more sophisticated than i have described it here, enlighten me, KevNick. Provide 1 (one) piece of evidence for you alternative 'hypothesis”.

      So, we arrive at where we were at the outset of the argument. You don’t have one piece of evidence and I don’t have one, so my argument “God did it” is just as good as yours “fluke did it”…

      You just substituted one kind of faith with the another because there is no empirical evidence there, right? So you just call it a “scientific faith” so that it doesn’t have creationistic overtones…

      Science has proven that the universe and matter found in it has come the conversion of energy into matter. What did it? Where did the energy come from? And how the energy was creatively directed without an influence of intelligence?

      I hypothesize that for lifeless matter to become alive, some kind energy is required, just like a lifeless robot requires energy to move and function. It is logical and make sense. Then the robot can be programed to make copies of itself. Without the first step, the replication process is impossible. If the robot requires his supply of energy to be creatively directed to preform even the simplest of tasks, how much more so life, even the “simplest” form…..

      In the end, there are several problems with your kind of faith because it is based on a false assumptions.....

      I’m going to use an example:

      Imagine that scientist discover a pile of machinery on Mars. After close examination they realize that the machinery must have been designed but it doesn’t resemble anything they have seen before on earth.

      Should the scientist dismiss the obvious that the machinery was designed just because they can’t find the designer of the machinery? If you say yes, please elaborate why…

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    28. KevNick,

      I know you don't care about answers. But I'll shall try for the sake of satisfying the teacher in me.

      If we had no evidence whatsoever, and no knowledge whatsoever that would lead to our current understanding about the natural origin of life, thinking that life had a natural origin would still be way better than a god of the gaps fallacy (ignorance is just ignorance, ignorance is not evidence for god). You don't see the difference because you think that gods are out there. But you miss an important problem: not only there's no evidence for gods, as far as our history shows, gods have always being imaginary. They have always been irrational ideas that have followed fear, ignorance, anthropomorphisms, lack of understanding, indoctrination. Nature, on the other hand, is right here for us to witness. We don't need to argue that nature exists. So we shouldn't even need to propose that life arose naturally. Accordingly. I don't ask if life arose naturally. I just ask how. No faith required. It's the obvious position. For gods to become valid possibilities, you would have to prove that there's gods.

      Acknowledging evolution doesn't require us to know exactly how life originated. The evidence that you don't see out of your indoctrination won't disappear just because we don't know exactly how life originated. We do have different lines of evidence of taxonomic lineages growing and diversifying into several taxonomic lineages. "Kinds" is a word you idiots use to make excuses against evolution and to shield yourselves from the evidence. It means whatever is convenient when you want to deny something. It will correspond to species when you deny human relationship with chimps, but it will mean "Family," "Order," or even "Domain" when you want to deny a change of kinds in lifeforms that you care less about than humans. But that's just a problem with your indoctrination and irrationality. Not a problem for evolutionary theory.

      since it is based on the assumption that life created itself by a fluke and everything else just naturally followed

      Evolution is not based on such thing. Have you ever read Darwin's book? A textbook on evolution? Evolutionary theory is based on many observations of the history of life on the planet. Not one of those observations includes the origin of life. Observations include the diversity of individuals within a population, the struggle for life, the fact that most offspring doesn't make it to adult life, the observation of natural selection in action, the fossil record, genetics, embryology, anatomy, etc, etc, etc. Not one of those depends on us knowing how life originated.

      Think before making those stupid claims.

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    29. KevNick,

      (continuing)

      The creation of life in the lab failed even more miserably but let’s assume that scientist are able to create life in the lab. Would that mean that life can create itself or rather that it requires intelligence of a scientist?

      And this little thing proves, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that you guys are incredibly stupid and/or dishonest. You don't care about understanding. You just care about figuring out excuses to reject the evidence for things you don't like. Your claim is like saying that supernatural children made volcanoes because human children present small models of how volcanoes work in elementary school science fairs. Yes. You're that much of a ridiculous imbecile.

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    30. It looks like Chris B has a suck puppet...... well .......who can beat that....,.,.?

      Delete
    31. Photosynthesis,

      Why are you answering the specific questions directed to Chris B?
      Are you quest?

      Delete
    32. PhotosS and Chris B have sock puppets but they must belong to a bigger fish.....

      Delete
    33. Re Ed.

      How about the occasional occurrence of humans with tails. Totally unexplainable by creation theories, obviously explainable by common descent of humans, apes, and monkeys from a common ancestor where in humans and apes, the gene for making tails went broken.

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    34. "How about the occasional occurrence of humans with tails. Totally unexplainable by creation theories"

      "God" is punishing them. Remember that it's all magic to them.

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  21. Oh dear! An interesting conversation on how and what to teach, and how to deal with students who can describe evolution science but do not accept it, derailed by a determined troll into yet another sterile attempt to convince the unconvincible about basic realities.

    That's why on my own trivial blog I only allow a creationist two bites at the cherry.

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  22. Thats why it is trivial!! There are no trolls here, whatever they are, but sincere creationists dealing with the thread or sometimes when the conversation strays. Yet it strays because of contending parties and can't be the fault of one party.
    Your accusing one party without evidence for your accusation unless the thread is your evidence in which case its the surely the accussed's evidence also.
    Contribute to the conversation. why is your accusation in reality the only actual derailment in the flow.
    Creationists add to origin discussions because we are the problem in the first place.
    We are the outlaws. Denying us freedom to contend does not persuade us or the public who easily allow both sides in any contention.
    We are not bad people. its unjust and unkind to call us trolls. Its silly. Sure it is as I see it.

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  23. "Creationists add to origin discussions because we are the problem in the first place. We are the outlaws. "

    Ahhh, it's time for the Galileo gambit.

    In reality, taking up the mantle of Galileo requires not just that you are scorned by the establishment but also that you are correct[1] — that is, that the evidence supports your position

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    Replies
    1. Hmmm. Who says. The scorn of the establishment would always find analogy to anyone at the receiving end since they believe they are correct in their contrary view. Its the establishment saying we are incorrect.
      In scorn and acts ID/YEC are in the role of old man Galileo I think.

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  24. I don't see why we need to discuss religious belief at all. The science is what the science is. If students present creationism as an exam answer, they've got the science wrong. If they show they understand the science, but have a problem reconciling scientific fact with their religious beliefs, that's their problem, not mine.

    I never taught about evolution, but I did teach about radiometric dating and the age of the Earth. I said that anyone who wanted to go into it more deeply should read Wiens's excellent discussion, to which I gave a link. This discussion just happens to be called "Radiometric dating - a Christian perspective" and include a discussion of the theological, as well as the pseudo-scientific, objections, but I let them find all that out for themselves. I never got any comeback, and that was in Texas.

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  25. Its about conclusion in nature that cross boundaries between conclusions in beliefs called religion and , for some, science.
    Religion is a word to define conclusions in some subjects.
    If the religious conclusion says we were created by God and not from apes then there is conflict with those saying science proves otherwise.
    Creationism takes on the conclusions that oppose conclusions we know from the bible or awareness of a creator.
    Origin subjects are about conclusions and methodology and not about religion vs science.

    Is your conclusion radfo dating is true but its not true. There must be other options for dating it. No one saw it working as now claimed.
    Your side too quickly stops looking for other options.

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  26. So, I've heard that Chris B, photosynthesis, Diogenes and Piotr each have provided 1 piece of evidence that convinced them that life originated without the need for a superiorly intelligent designer. I knew John Harshamn wouldn't do it because "this is not his area of expertise" but the rest have certainly come through.

    There is a problem though, they (the experts) all responded but forgot to include THE ONE PIECE OF EVIDENCE. NO LINK? HOW FORGETFUL CAN YOU BE? Scientists wouldn't be that naïve and just believed a theory without any, even a shred of evidence would they?
    My suspicion is that the host removed those comments because they would've totally destructed the ID movement and that would have keeled this blog.

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  27. Hi Larry,
    I would like to make one point.
    These two weeks in biology class where pupils are taught about evolution in high school is for most of them the only opportunity in their life that they will here about it. "You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow. This opportunity comes once in a lifetime." If you miss this opportunity by spending half the time talking about Creationism most of these pupils will never in their life here what science has to say about the origin of humans.
    Abbendum:
    The problem is that if you combine teaching facts with teaching of how to think by the way of presenting outdated / false hypothesis pupils end up remembering the wrong hypothesis as the correct ones. I was taught Lamarckism as an example of an incorrect theory in biology class. What happens then is that a lot of adults think that Lamarckism is actually the way evolution works because in their mind the information gets mixed up.

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    1. I'm well aware of the problems with high school teaching. One of the major problems is that evolution is often treated as a separate, stand-alone, topic just like the parts of a flower and Mendelian genetics. This is not how evolution should be taught in a high school biology class.

      One of the other problems is that the entire curriculum concentrates on teaching facts like "the origin of humans." Instead, the main objective should be critical thinking and how science works.

      If most high school students have misconceptions about evolution, and/or distrust science, then the main goal of biology teachers should be to address those misconceptions and steer the students into better ways of thinking. That's more important than learning the difference between Australopithicus and Homo erectus. The students you most need to reach won't believe you anyway.

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    2. I think your answer kinda makes clear where the disagreement lies. You are not that interested in teaching the fact of evolution and the fact of the origin of humans to the pupils.

      I and others here in contrast think that it is very important that these facts are taught. Evolution together with the big bang theory is the core of the scientific world view - the counter world view to the religious one. This is for science the only opportunity in the life of most pupils to present this world view unadulterated.

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    3. If you think that I'm not interested in teaching evolution then you have not been paying attention and I'm not interested in continuing this discussion.

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    4. Evolution together with the big bang theory is the core of the scientific world view -

      Actually no. The scientific "worldview" is about how acquiring knowledge, not about the knowledge itself. The theories of Evolution and the Big Bang are models for a couple of the things we have learned by the scientific methods, but not the core of the worldview itself. So I agree with Larry. It should be much more about critical thinking.

      Accepting the fact of evolution, or understanding that the Big Bang model is the result of putting together some interesting observations, etc., depend on students understanding how science works. I prefer that than teaching those things as if they were some kind of gospel.

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