Pharyngula

All right, who’s in charge of pool predicting the location of the next big creationist trial? The odds on Florida have just gone up: another Board of Education member has said something stupid.

I would support teaching evolution, but with all its warts. I think that some of the facts have been questioned by evolutionists themselves. I would want them taught as theories. That’s important. They could be challenged by others and the kids could then be taught critical thinking and they can make their own choices.

Thank you, Linda Taylor. Warts: name two. Theory: define the term. Answer the following multiple choice question:

Who is best qualified to make informed choices about complex scientific theories?

  1. Scientists with years of training in the subject, and qualified science teachers who understand the fundamentals of the theory.
  2. Creationists who won’t even commit to an estimate of the age of the earth.
  3. Members of the board of education who have absolutely no training in the sciences.
  4. Children who are just being introduced to the topic for the first time, haven’t read any of the primary literature, and who are entirely dependent on the competence of the instructors who have given them an outline of the general story.

So I’m leaning towards a big blow-up in Florida. Now you might think Texas should be in the lead, what with the obvious clown circus in the Chris Comer story, but I suspect that the Texas creationists have grossly overreached and are going to face a serious backlash — Texas biology professors are pissed off and are mobilizing to fight back. Floridans are going for the slow and steady buildup.

Florida parents are also contributing to the problem. Let’s see more Florida parents rising up to protest so I can dial those odds down a notch.

Comments

  1. #1 David Marjanovi?
    December 12, 2007

    I would then be forced to bring up the obligatory Scientology comment, pointing out that they have their own creation myth, and start questioning the IDiots why they are unwilling to permit the Scientology myth in classrooms, as well.
    Of course, that could simply be making the situation worse; Scientologists are not know as the most, er, kind-hearted people out there.

    See? That’s why the Flying Spaghetti Monster was invented revealed Himself. Raamen!

  2. #2 David Marjanovi?
    December 12, 2007

    I would then be forced to bring up the obligatory Scientology comment, pointing out that they have their own creation myth, and start questioning the IDiots why they are unwilling to permit the Scientology myth in classrooms, as well.
    Of course, that could simply be making the situation worse; Scientologists are not know as the most, er, kind-hearted people out there.

    See? That’s why the Flying Spaghetti Monster was invented revealed Himself. Raamen!

  3. #3 Sastra, OM
    December 12, 2007

    PZ’s multiple choice question should be considered in light of another multiple choice question.

    Who is best qualified to make informed choices about the existence of God?

    A. Pointy-headed scientists with years of training in the nature of reality, but no understanding of the deeper, spiritual things.

    B. Rational adults who have studied the world’s religions, read philosophy and theology, and weighed the arguments on both sides before coming to a reasoned decision.

    C. Children who are informed from birth that God exists and loves them, and who have a natural tendency to attribute meaning, purpose, and intentions to anything more complicated than a rock.

    “And a little child shall lead them …”

    God wouldn’t make it all too hard for a child to grasp, now would He?

  4. #4 Brownian, OM
    December 12, 2007

    So we gotta teach the controversy with regards to evolution versus goddiditthrumagic, but the the religios gotta boycott Pullman?

    Oh please, dear Lord, if You truly exist, please, please, please bring the Rapture and save the rest of us from your narcissitic, borderline-psychotic retardsdevoted followers.

  5. #5 Sastra, OM
    December 12, 2007

    Matt Penfold #62 wrote:

    SO it would seem the scientists can tell us rather a lot about the possibility of god existing. It is a pity so many do not listen to them.

    I agree, and well put. But it seems that an uncomfortable number of Christians not only define and throw out option #1 — but think that option #2 (thoughtful and mature analysis) is also fishy. No, the best way to qualify people for the task of deciding if there is a God is to indoctrinate them from birth, and encourage and praise every childish tendency and habit of seeing purpose in everything as “innate wisdom.” Make sure they’re babbling how they know God loves them by the time they can barely talk. They’re capable of being sure of that sort of thing.

    I really do think that one of the reasons behind the surprising displays of hubris on the part of unqualified people who so blithely dismiss scientific expertise is a world-view which thinks the universe has been set up for our comprehension. Everything which is important to know about is readily accessible to the sincere seeker, regardless of their educational background, intelligence, or age, as long as they allow themselves to be guided like a child towards God by instinct.

    I raised my children the way I was raised myself: without religion. I didn’t “teach” atheism either. I told them there were a lot of different views on God, this is what I thought and why, but they should consider everything and come to their own conclusions when they were mature enough to look at the issue carefully.

    And yet, I would not want them sitting in a science class and asked to “choose for themselves” between the consensus of experts and a “theory” which scientists say is bad science, and no theory at all. They’re not qualified for that. You have to really know the field if you’re going to go against it.

    Creationists seem to be doing it the opposite way — in both cases, going with the “hunch” which has the desired conclusion over the cautious method which attempts to be correct. When you go that route, even small children are fit to grapple with difficult questions, and solve them against people with actual expertise. God makes a simple universe, brought down to the level of the simple.

  6. #6 truth machine
    December 12, 2007

    Who is best qualified to make informed choices about the existence of God?

    A. Pointy-headed scientists with years of training in the nature of reality, but no understanding of the deeper, spiritual things.

    B. Rational adults who have studied the world’s religions, read philosophy and theology, and weighed the arguments on both sides before coming to a reasoned decision.

    That’s quite a false dichotomy. Since when do scientists necessarily have no understanding of “the deeper spiritual things” (if there are any — the wording begs the question), aren’t rational adults, haven’t studied the world’s religions, haven’t read philosophy and theology, haven’t weighed “the arguments on both sides”, or haven’t come to reasoned decisions? And since when are any of the characteristics in B, other than rationality, essential to coming a reasoned decision? We don’t require such studying and weighing when it comes to astrology, flat-earthism, Velikovskiism, or a host of other claims. What the heck does studying the world’s religions, which are human institutions, have to do with whether God exists? (A question Dawkins’ critics would do well to answer.) Do we have to study all Sun-worshipping sects before “coming to a reasoned decision” as to whether the Sun is a deity?

    I think that those “with years of training in the nature of reality” are much more likely to have an accurate “understanding of the deeper, spiritual things” than those who live in Sagan’s “demon-haunted world”, and those who live in that world aren’t made any the wiser by studying the religions, philosophy, theology, and arguments of their coinhabitants.

  7. #7 Sastra, OM
    December 12, 2007

    truthmachine #71:

    Since I more or less agree with you, I obviously did a poor job getting across that I was being snarky. I was pretending to present the options as a Creationist would see them:

    The people who are best qualified to decide whether God exists or not are not the scientists (because they’re cold); not mature philosophers (because they think too much.) No, the only qualification you really need to come to make a decision on the truth of theism is to be as a little child, open, trusting, and simple.

    They seem to approach science the same way.

  8. #8 Sastra, OM
    December 12, 2007

    Matt:
    Looks good to me — very well written. My only suggestion might be more paragraph breaks, to make it easier to pick out points at a glance.

    (btw, this post is about a Linda Taylor and it’s addressed to Ms. Callaway. I haven’t been following names all that closely; I assume she’s a major player.)

  9. #9 foxfire
    December 12, 2007

    @Matt regarding #76,

    Beautiful! I agree with Sastra OM’s point about paragraph breaks. I suggest a break in the first paragraph so that “Principles of evolutionary theory ..” forms a new paragraph.

    In a way, I envy you (not just for your eloquent prose) because Oregon is just *so* darn BORING! Here is the take on ID from the Oregon Department of Education: http://www.ode.state.or.us/news/announcements/announcement.aspx?=2588. The last clown that tried to teach IDC (earlier this year) was terminated – beats being lynched by outraged parents. All we have is the newspaper editorial section (when some yahoo does a “Linda”).

    I really have to hope Florida rationality perseveres and your odds for the next trial take a dive – we in Oregon welcome progressive industry and it would be delightful to see big bucks pouring in from Texas to investigate a wave alternative energy source when that state goes goddidit: http://eecs.oregonstate.edu/wesrf/

  10. #10 Matt
    December 12, 2007

    BTW, I have to say that this is my first foray into “activism” and it feels good. After reading “Kingdom Coming” and reading this site, Dawkins’ site, and others like them, I feel moved to get off my ass and do something. I can no longer sit by while these morons quietly take over the country and ruin everything. Thanks to all of you who have set the example.

  11. #11 Paul
    December 19, 2007

    You’re right, I am making things up.

    In actual fact, of course, whilst there are still some who think that way (see Amazon reviews as evidence) a significant number of people who had appreciated Dawkins’ work hitherto stepped off the bus with “The God Delusion”. (“Did you read the ‘God Delusion’? Pile of shite, wasn’t it? And I love RD.” Plus all those “I’m an atheist but …” people that Dawkins is so angry with in the preface to the paperback edition.) TGD is evidence of the vacuousness of the reasoning coming from philosophical materialists. If you want me to take you seriously when you say that you ought to be deciding what to teach people, then I want to see you acknowledge the fact that Richard Dawkins has messed up in speaking about things he knows little about and hasn’t bothered to adequately research. Until then, as far as I’m concerned, you barely have sufficient ability to critically engage to be considered eligible for voting.

  12. #12 MAJeff
    December 19, 2007

    belief in a god is no more or less rational than lack of belief in one.

    BZZZZT.

  13. #13 Paul
    December 21, 2007

    *Sigh* You have obviously learnt nothing in philosophical terms from Kant onwards. I am not a postmodernist – postmodernism isn’t even able to support itself. BUT the reason postmodernism came along was because it became apparent that modernism didn’t really work either. Had modernism provided a satisfactory metanarrative, do you really think that all those university philosophy departments would have been able to find anything to do for the last 150 years? (Yes, I’m sure you consider them to be a waste of time – that’s a pretty typical reaction from somebody who is ignorant and can’t be bothered to learn.) And yet you continue to behave as though the modernist metanarrative is the only game in town.

    Jake, I am not saying that all beliefs (which is what I assume you mean, rather than facts) are equally valid. What I am saying is that if you want your view to be taken seriously, you’ll have to do better in analysing alternatives than, “You’re stupid! You believe in angels! We say this – so we are right. So what we say should be taken seriously and what you say should be ignored.” To which the obvious question is: why? And the answer, ultimately, will come back to your presuppositions, which are not shared by other people. There is nothing inherently more right about the naturalist metanarrative – because all metanarratives are fundamentally faith positions, with other observations being interpreted in the light of them, rather than supporting or not supporting them.

    For example, you possibly believe that a quantum fluctuation brought about the existence of space, time and energy. I don’t believe that this is reasonable – the scope of “something out of nothing” that we see in the universe is seriously limited, and such an event represents a major scientific discontinuity, which invalidates science as a suitable tool for analysing it. You interpret your observation (of the effects of the big bang) in accordance with your naturalistic presupposition – that it can’t require external agency. But you can hardly say that the big bang supports a naturalistic perspective – it is simply a phenomenon that you are treating as a natural event. I interpret it in accordance with my presuppositions – that what we observe requires creation. Now, you say there is no evidence of a God – but in actual fact, that is because for all phenomena that suggest a requirement for external agency, you choose to believe instead in a naturalistic explanation. Your interpretation of the phenomena isn’t “more right” – it’s just one that happens to fit with your presuppositions. Unless you can make a convincing case that the presuppositions are inconsistent – AND THERE ARE MUCH BETTER QUALIFIED PEOPLE THAN YOU – OR DAWKINS! – WHO HAVE BEEN TRYING TO DO THIS FOR 200 YEARS! – then you have no grounds for saying that my belief in external agency – or the belief of 75% of the US population in angels – is wrong.

The site is currently under maintenance and will be back shortly. New comments have been disabled during this time, please check back soon.