Darksyde takes on the teaching of creationism in Missouri…let’s see if readers here are clever enough to see the dishonesty in this quote.
[Mike] Riddle had been invited to Potosi High and John A. Evans Middle School by Randy Davis, superintendent of the Potosi-RIII school district, and his board to discuss science with science students. During an hour-long presentation, Riddle … prodded the students to question established scientific principals and theories and encouraged them to think about a career in science.
Questioning scientific principles and theories is a good thing, and it’s also good to encourage students to study more science, so what’s the problem? The problem is that the speaker is a representative from Answers in Genesis, the young earth creationist organization, and he’s using the language differently than scientists do. When we say we should teach good science, we mean that there should be an emphasis on evidence and rational interpretation of the work. When AiG says “good science,” they mean a kind of Christian apologetics that cherry-picks data to arrive at a predetermined conclusion, that the Earth is 6000 years old. He isn’t urging students to do science, he wants them to get out there and corrupt a process that contradicts his theology.
This is the new way of creationism: embrace the trappings and the language, which have favorable associations to most people, and use them to advance ideas contrary to good science. It’s creationism in a lab coat.
A reader from Kansas sent in another slogan, prominently displayed on a billboard:
TEACH DARWIN HONESTLY!
They’ve got a website, too, titled “Teach Darwin honestly“. It’s supported by the Intelligent Design Network, Inc.—so you can guess what they mean by “honestly”: it means peddle the unsupported nonsense of Intelligent Design and cast false doubt on basic biology.
Read the introduction to their organization. Doesn’t it sound just like Mike Riddle?
Evolutionary theory is important to modern science.
But it also impacts non-scientific issues. Any explanation of origins – where we come from – unavoidably impacts religion, ethics, morals and, even politics.
Given this importance, origins should be a subject of public education. However, it is a discussion with impressionable young minds that needs to be conducted without bias. It needs to be taught honestly and objectively, not dogmatically.
It’s a nice example of framing—dishonest framing. In one stroke, they imply that modern biology is dogmatic and dishonest, while piously declaiming that they’re just trying to be objective on a matter of great importance. They claim to be on the side of teaching evolution without a bias, but what they actually want to do is bias teaching to cast doubt where there should be none, and promote pseudoscience that lacks evidentiary support. Their goal is to emphasize a void, rather than any positive results in science, because that void of ignorance is the only place they can find room for their god.
Jack Krebs has already analyzed the Kansas standards proposed by this group; it’s more negativity, a denial of substance in science to favor the deficiencies of their own ideas.
The Kansas standards are remarkably candid about this: ID is merely the disagreement with the core claim of evolutionary theory, and of science in general, that we can seek, and are succeeding at finding, natural explanations for the complexities of life.
The ID argument is what Judge Jones in the Dover decision called a “contrived dualism.” There is no scientific theory of ID or creationism: no proposed mechanism, no testable hypotheses, no research.
However, the ID argument is that if evolution is false, ID must be true. Teaching the so-called weaknesses of evolutionary theory is teaching Intelligent Design, because that is all there is to ID: The only proposed evidence for ID is evidence against evolution.
Reading through their FAQ is a painful experience. The words are carefully crafted to put up a front of such earnest sincerity, yet hidden beneath them all is ignorance, error, and dishonesty. Here are a few examples.
Q: Why is the teaching of origins so controversial?
A: It is scientifically controversial because it is an historical science, and therefore very subjective. It is religiously controversial because it addresses the question: “Where do we come from?” This is a question that some claim is inseparably linked with the question: “Where do we go?”
The fact that the earth is approximately 4.5 billion years old is historical; does that mean it is “very subjective”? Of course not. What we have is whole interlocking sets of evidence from physics, astronomy, and geology that establish the age of the earth. There’s nothing subjective about it. Claiming that because something occurred in the past we can not draw any solid conclusions about it is the absurd kind of ignorance we see from old school creationists like Ken Ham, who think a reasonable rebuttal to physical evidence is to chant, “Were you there?”.
Here’s an example of an outright lie. The IDists set up a minority panel to revise the standards defined by a credible and respectable group of scientists and educators, and rewrote the definition of science. In their FAQ, they now try to claim that their definition is canonical—it is not. In fact, it has a serious problem.
Q: How do the 2001 and 2005 definitions of science differ?
A: The 2005 definition replaces a novel definition of science (not found in other state standards or the national standards) with this traditional definition:
“Science is a systematic method of continuing investigation, that uses observation, hypothesis testing, measurement, experimentation, logical argument and theory building, to lead to more adequate explanations of natural phenomena.” [The definition continues for two more paragraphs that increase, rather than decrease the scientific rigor of this concept.]
You need to see the original standards to catch their sleight of hand. The standards written by competent scientists and educators defined science as “the human activity of seeking natural explanations for what we observe in the world around us. These explanations are based on observations, experiments, and logical arguments that adhere to strict empirical standards and a healthy skeptical perspective.” What’s wrong with that? Why did the minority panel feel compelled to change it?
It wasn’t to increase the scientific rigor. It’s a familiar complaint, one that we can trace right back to that silly old fool, Phillip E. Johnson. The objection is to the phrase “natural explanations”, which they have replaced with “more adequate explanations”. The IDists object to the principle of methodological naturalism, the heart of science, and they want to rip it out to allow supernatural explanations. Ken Miller’s analysis of the revised standards makes this clear: essentially, every change the creationists proposed is in reaction to the scientific assumption of natural explanations. Of course, they can’t come right out and say that they are in favor of more supernatural explanations in biology classes, because that would make their idiocy obvious…so instead they have formulated a fundamentally dishonest strategy of attacking the core principle of good science, all in the name of their version of “good” science.
Science should teach natural explanations of natural phenomena. Save the unnatural explanations of the supernatural for Sunday school.