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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Creationists Fight Dirty, Scientists Don't

Martin at The Atheist Experience has been posting about the Texas State Board of Education hearings on science standards. Several members of the board want to "teach the controversy," which means teaching the creationist lies about evolution in an attempt to discredit it. His latest posting (Crippled dogs and one-trick ponies) is quite interesting.

Martin points out that when creationist board members use the standard lies and misconceptions to make their point about flaws in evolution, the pro-science witnesses should be prepared to hit back just as hard. They lose credibility if they waffle.

This is not a scientific dispute. Creationists don't care about science.


  1. Oh, they do care about science. They want to treat it carefully and keep grubby childrens' hands away from it. They want to put it on a shelf so that no one will touch it. They want it on a pedestal, out of our reach. They want to exalt science, but not practice it. They want to "debate" origins, not study them.

    They want it hidden in a tabernacle, just like their god, far away from examination and only talk about its glory. Rather like my mother's antique pitcher and glasses that we couldn't use for selling lemonade.

    The Creationists love science, they just don't want anyone to touch it.

  2. I wonder if this is a bit of a red herring compared to the real damage being done in schools at the moment.
    About 25% of high school science teachers in the US currently teach creationism or intelligent design within their classes (according to the recent paper by Michael Berkman of Penn State).
    I would suggest that this is where the real problem lies.
    Is a 'teach the controversy' policy a problem for a good teacher? There isn't any controversy, at least not at high school level (I'll keep away from the adaptionist/genetic drift arguments here as these are not the ones likely to be raised by creationists).
    So long as you have good teachers not telling lies or untruths to the class then there isn't really a problem.
    Isn't the best strategy to simply improve the standard of teachers rather than worry unduly about a set of standards that will be simply ignored by 25% of teachers with impunity.
    These are the real standards we should be worried about. If a biology teacher is failing in his or her job by teaching untruths to their class then they should be removed and replaced with a decent teacher.

  3. MartinC - I'd suggest that what we ought to be concerned with is not the good teachers who can turn nearly any situation into a scientific learning experience, nor the 25% of useless idealogues. Rather, we should turn our attention to students, some of whom are likely to receive incomprehensible instruction as a result of a nonsensical "teach the controversy" directive, and others of whom will be good little godbots and will use such a directive to cause worlds of trouble for those who dare to teach real science in science class.

  4. Jud, why can't we do it the other way around? - encourage pro-science pupils to expose the Godbot teachers for what they are, incompetents who shouldn't be in their current job?

  5. Just to make sure there is no dishonesty here in representing the texas standards, it might be good to post the actual wording, at least the controversial part. I haven't seen the wording myself and am curious as to what it actually says. Normally, critical thinking is thought to be a good thing in science.

  6. Kirk Durston says,

    Normally, critical thinking is thought to be a good thing in science.

    Critical thinking is always a good thing in science, and everywhere else as well (including churches).

    Kirk, do you think that the creationist board members are thinking critically? Does that include the board members who declare that the Earth is less than ten thousand years old?

    Why is it that supposedly intelligent people like you never speak out against those people who are lying about science in the name of religion? You do know that they are lying, right?

  7. Creationism and intelligent design belong to religion classes, not science. I cannot understand how creationists seem to succeed to set the premises for the discussion. In science you discuss science, not religion. End of story.

    In Norway religion is supposed to be taught in a neutral manner, not implying God or any God like phenomena exist or manipulating any pupil to believe.

    I think that this principle respect both religious and non-religious people. And- Even with this perspective creationism or intelligent design has nothing to do in the science classes.

  8. Larry wrote, "Why is it that supposedly intelligent people like you never speak out against those people who are lying about science in the name of religion?"

    Well Larry, I must confess that there is so much bogus stuff going on, on both sides of the fence, I feel like I'm wading in it up to my eyeballs. I still wonder what the proposed Texas standards actually say. Before the individuals on this blog can comment intelligently on the wording, we need to know what it actually says ... at least the controversial bits.