It looks like Michael De Dora is calling me out. The wishy-washy, sloppy-thinking director of the NY CFI, whose main claim to fame lately is a series of blog articles notable only for their fuzziness and willingness to accommodate any nonsense from religious BS artists, is now taking me to task for my post arguing that the Tennessee case of a creationist objecting to a textbook calling creationism “the biblical myth that the universe was created by the Judeo-Christian god in 7 days” was a) an example of a true twit peddling ignorance, and b) that the textbook phrasing was accurate and justifiable.
De Dora disagrees. He thinks it is inappropriate for a biology text to directly address a damaging social trend that is hurting the teaching of science — and that we shouldn’t refer to religious stories as myth. He even has the gall to call what he wants to promote a “science only approach,” and in a remarkably weasely bit of wording, tries to imply that I think that just teaching science would “negatively impact the quality of public school education”. Interesting move. Sometimes, lying about your opponent’s position does work.
But he forgets what we’re fighting against.
Why is it that our biology classes — or even public schools in generally — must reject religious beliefs to educate children? I think we will find that, even if decided that our children would be better off hearing critique of their parents’ religious beliefs, this question is irrelevant, as according to our laws we cannot do such a thing. In turn, the answer seems to be that we should ensure our high school science teachers are instructing students on how to think like a scientist, and imparting to students the body of knowledge scientists have accrued (and that all of our teachers generally are doing similar in their respective fields).
Oh, let us confine our discussion to the nebulous vagueness of “religious beliefs”, that we may continue to pretend that charlatans are not lying to our children. There should be nothing special, nothing privileged about calling a falsehood a “religious belief”. When religious ideas directly contradict the scientific evidence, we must be able to point out that they are wrong…and please note, the textbook in question did not even slam creationist foolishness that hard, but merely pointed out that it is the product of a religious myth.
This isn’t simply about religious freedom. It’s about a loony-tunes popular bogosity that explicitly claims the earth is 6,000 years old and was created in six days, both assertions false, unsupported by any credible evidence, and contradicted resoundingly by the body of evidence discussed in the textbook. Those are “beliefs” that must be rejected by any scientist, by any textbook purporting to describe how science works and what conclusions it reaches — anything less is cowardly intellectual dishonesty.
I am not opposing a “science only approach”. I am saying that a science only approach has a story to tell that must contradict the ridiculous myths our Sunday schools are feeding our children. We don’t need pablum-pushers like De Dora helping the pious frauds further gut our science curricula.
I haven’t even reached the worst part of De Dora’s quisling approach. He has a footnote.
It is important to note that creationism and related ideas like intelligent design do belong to the field of religion, not science; they are theology and philosophy (bad theology and philosophy, but that’s another matter). Hence, science cannot reject them in full — for how does the scientist answer the claim that God made it look like there’s been evolution, and that we are merely natural products, to test our faith? Or that God has been the hand behind the process of evolution? A scientist must here put on the philosopher’s cap to continue.
Great. Creationism? Can’t criticize it in our science classes. Somebody says the universe appeared magically a few thousand years ago, I guess that has to be a valid answer on the test question, “How old is the universe?”. To actually state that it is about 14 billion years old, and make such an answer a necessary part of the student’s grade…why, that is philosophy or theology, and not to be discussed in science class.
And here’s ever-helpful Michael De Dora, reassuring the creationists that “science cannot reject [their ridiculous ideas] in full”. Thanks heaps. Did I mention “cowardly intellectual dishonesty”? Yes, I did. And that’s what De Dora is endorsing.
And a special thanks to CFI. What the hell were they thinking when they gave this milquetoast marshmallow a soapbox? Does CFI stand for the Church of Fatuous Incompetence now?