Dispatches from the Creation Wars

More on UC Lawsuit

Mike Dunford has some follow up information on the UC lawsuit, including a link to the actual complaint filed in court. He offers a few choice excerpts from that complaint along with some analysis. This part is particularly on-point, I think:

“Content discrimination”. What a wonderful phrase. It makes it sound like there is somehow something wrong with evaluating the worth of courses based on the material that is being taught. I wonder what comes after this. The next step doesn’t even need to be from one of these creationist groups. Instead, it could be a homeopath suing a state medical board for a license on the grounds that the state board exams constitute an unfair “content discrimination” favoring conventional medicine over the spiritual doctrines of homeopathy. After that, let’s go ahead and license the bloodletters and spiritual healers.

In researching the situation, I have now received through the kindness of a friend some portions of the science textbook in question, in addition to what is available on the BJU Publishing website. It certainly supports the university’s contention that this course does not meet any reasonable criteria for credit as a science class. To begin with, it redefines science to make the claim that if something happened in the past, it can’t be studied scientifically and one must rely on “faith”. From p. 172:

Explaining the earth’s origin and development by looking at the earth is scientifically impossible. Recall that science is the observation of the physical universe. The origin of the physical universe was not observed by human eyes, nor can men go into a laboratory and create a universe to see how our universe might have originated. The beginning of the world and of life and the past changes in them are actually beyond the scope of science. What a person believes about these things is not the result of scientific facts but of faith. One will naturally interpret scientific data according to his faith.

This is blatantly false and it rules out entire fields of science as being non-scientific, including anthropology, paleontology, archaeology and cosmology. It also explicitly endorses a young earth on page 185 when it says, “Probably more accurate, and acceptable within the Bible’s framework, is that creation was between 8,000 and 10,000 years ago, although some creationists admit that it might be several thousand years older than that.” And it continues on p. 191 to say, “Biblical creationism is accepted by faith. A creationist, however, should not feel that science contradicts his faith in God’s Word. Rather than being disproved by science, the Scriptural concept of a young earth is actually verified by science.”

There is no idea more thoroughly disproven in science than the notion that the earth is only a few thousand years old. It is every bit as absurd and unsupportable as the claim that the earth is flat or at the center of the universe (and incidentally, not a few young earthers also believe those two things). For a reputable university to accept such material and give credit to it as a science class would be as unjustified as giving credit to an astrology class as an astronomy credit.

Comments

  1. #1 cubic rooms
    August 30, 2005

    and geology.

  2. #2 Raging Bee
    August 30, 2005

    The Holocaust-deniers use the same trick: “How can we possibly know what happened before we were born/when we weren’t looking?” I read one article about Holocaust denial that called that line of “reasoning” “mental masturbation.”

  3. #3 Jody
    August 30, 2005

    I can pretty much see California courts throwing this case out with the Courts ruling that the UC system has the right to decide what their educational standards are etc (though as a non-lawyer I’m just guessing here.)

    But what about Kansas?

    Say that in one of the battleground states, where what I like to call the Creeping Doom has popular support, the State Senate puts something into law saying state schools can’t “discriminate” against kids taught through secondary education ID?

    Hypothetically, would something like that be Constitutional? Would it violate McLean on the face of it? Would it have to be adjudicated up the ladder?

    Given how quickly ID adapts, I’m concerned that, a year or two from now, we could see something like this as a tactic.

  4. #4 roger tang
    August 30, 2005

    “it redefines science to make the claim that if something happened in the past, it can’t be studied scientifically and one must rely on “faith”.”

    Hm. Whenever someone says that, I have the irresistable urge to speak up: “Excuse me, Gil Grissom, from Las Vegas…..”

  5. #5 Anonymous
    August 30, 2005

    “Pakistan’s Supreme Court has issued a ruling that will, in effect, bar students from many religious schools (madrassas) from holding public office.

    It has said that unregistered madrassas do not teach a curriculum suitable to prepare students for mainstream life.”
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/4196972.stm

    Now there is an idea!

  6. #6 Raging Bee
    August 30, 2005

    The beginning of the world and of life and the past changes in them are actually beyond the scope of science.

    Okay, so much for criminology and forensic science, and any other line of work that involves finding out what happened in the past using present-day evidence. I guess we can lay off all our detectives, Federal, state, local and private.

  7. #7 spyder
    August 30, 2005

    We cannot underestimate the importance of this type of litigation in the future. University and College registrars are required to validate the quality of the credits that applying students submit to meet the standards for admission to their institutions. Registrars use a variety of resources to make these judgements, among them the accreditation status of high schools and community colleges.

    If these sorts of suits begin to accumulate across the nation particularly in college communities and regions that support the views expressed therein, as well as without the economic resources of the UC system, then the job of discerning what is a quality biology class worthy of credit will become impossible. I can’t remember the exact quote nor who said it but it goes something like “never underestimate the stupidity of human beings.”

  8. #8 Leni
    August 30, 2005

    Raging Bee wrote:

    Okay, so much for criminology and forensic science…

    LOL. Yup.

    Maybe we’ll even have reationsist defense lawyers one day arguing that very thing.

  9. #9 jcw
    August 30, 2005

    Funny, when I go out to the Calvary Chapel Christian Schools website it turns out they are accredited by the WASC, the same association that accredits University of California campuses. Also, this is not the first graduating class of students from this school. It appears that other graduates from CCCS have gone on to colleges in the UC system and I would be willing to bet were just as successful as their classmates. What changed? Maybe these are new science books, but based on the affidavit the plaintiffs in this case are all capable of going to college and being successful.

  10. #10 Chuck
    August 31, 2005

    “Rather than being disproved by science, the Scriptural concept of a young earth is actually verified by science”

    How is it possible for people to believe such nonsense? How can people be moved to ignore all reason and evidence in such a manner? It is beyond absurd. It is delusional, and potentially dangerous. To be a proselytizg believer and to be unmoved by all sure evidence that contradict a narrow interpretation of your faith is not just to bury your in the sand; it is to commit a crime against reason. It is to share the mindset held by Inquisitionists, cultists of many varieties, and the suicide hijackers of the September 11 atrocities. This is no longer merely a political dispute. I positively despise fundamentalism in all its flavors, and consider fundamentalists my enemy and the enemy of all I cherish about our civilization.

  11. #11 Bill
    August 31, 2005

    I can’t fault the UC system for not accepting myth as science, but it would really be too bad for me had I applied under those rules. I was homeschooled with shitty books (A Beka) with little choice in the matter. Many of my courses would have been scrapped. They didn’t prepare me well because they presented information as received wisdom, making it difficult for me to learn to evaluate and judge information.

    Too bad for the poor kids who suffer from this, but it’s not the UC system’s fault. The fault lies with the American madrassa leaders and the parents who subject their kids to this BS.

  12. #12 raj
    August 31, 2005

    The beginning of the world and of life and the past changes in them are actually beyond the scope of science. What a person believes about these things is not the result of scientific facts but of faith. One will naturally interpret scientific data according to his faith.

    I’m actually floored by this. I truly am. Scientific theories are supported by evidence. Some of the evidence is acquired by conventional experimentation, but more than a bit of the evidence is acquired by observation. The IDists apparently want to ignore observational evidence. In the long run, it doesn’t matter. The scientists will go off (US) shore and conduct their science elsewhere. I’m not exactly sure what the IDists are trying to prove.

    I’ll just quote a British woman that we met on the train from Paris to Munich 20 years ago. She said “the Americans are very keen on themselves.” It was hilarious. She understood that Americans believed that they were running things. I was and still am an American citizen, and since then and now it has become clear to me that Americans are not running things. Although Americans would like to believe that they do.

  13. #13 Ginger Yellow
    August 31, 2005

    ” The IDists apparently want to ignore observational evidence.”

    To a fundie, it’s logical. Evidence is part of the fallen world, and therefore of course it is unreliable. Satan’s always trying to trick us, don’t you know. The Bible is inerrant (somehow it manages not to be part of the fallen world despite being written by humans in human language on parchment or whatever), therefore it is totally reliable. Given the choice of which to believe, well for a fundie it’s not even a choice.

  14. #14 Bradley Watson
    September 8, 2005

    If one were looking for evidence that intelligence was not at work in designing this universe, the
    postings to this site would certainly be prime candidates. Put differently, exactly upon what basis
    does the poster who is certain that simple observation is enough to refute a young earth
    hypothesis ground such an assertion? Such a position would of necessity appear to be founded on
    a distinctly unfounded faith to any disinterested, intelligent, third-party observer.

    Such a third-party observer would ask:

    ?Exactly what rational basis does the writer have for believing observations are trustworthy,
    lacking an intelligent designer of the observation tools, i.e., the eyes, the mind??

    Certainly undirected, random activity can not be relied on as a ground for such assertions, for a
    random act of the universe could, at any instant, change one or more of the observation tools in a
    quite unpredictable, and thus untrustworthy manner, that would instantly destabilize any
    conclusion reached through those tools and could do so in such a manner that the observer, the
    user of the tools, might be totally unaware, unsensing, unobserving of the change. Or, said
    differently, exactly how does one define ?Irony??

    Much better, more profitable to self, to focus one?s attention, capacities on where one is going to
    spend eternity once one?s soul has passed from this reality, clearly, then to trust to random acts of
    non-intelligence to make sense to a rational, intelligent mind; that would be the conclusion of a
    disinterested, intelligent, third-party observer, given that eternity, by definition is a very, very,
    very long span of time, while our existence in this reality is essentially less than a blink of the
    proverbial eye of the Heisenbergian observer.