"Creationism 'alive and well' in Minnesota biology classes"

I just posted the following comment on this article in MinnPost:

Thanks for covering this. As Randy says, this has been known for decades, but for some reason every time it hits the news (because of a new study that shows the same thing again) everyone seems to have just heard it for the first time.

I promise you: Creationist students (there are many) and/ore creationist parents of students (and no, parents and students are not always on the same page as each other) DO make themselves known the the teachers who are teaching evolution, sometimes quite aggressively. I have yet to hear of a parent (other than me) actively seeking out a biology student and explaining that the parent/child are interesting in an excellent science education, and in fact insisting on it.

Here is a good template for parents to use when meeting the life science teacher.

Parent: "Hi. I'm Mary Joe's parent. I just want you to know that I fully support science education and I recognize that things like creationism, or so-called 'teaching the controversy' are never, ever appropriate in the science classroom."

Teacher: "Oh ... ah ... nice to meet you ..."

Parent: "Also, I want you to know that if you ever have any difficulties in this regard, you should let me know. I'm a member of the National Center for Science Education, a member of the Minnesota Citizens for Science Education, a widely read blogger and an activist in this area. If you ever get any trouble from anyone, including school administrators, call me or send me an email and I will directly support you and find others who will do so as well."

Teacher: "Oh, ... well, ... ah ... "

Parent: "And one other thing. I just want you to know that if you do happen to be one of those biology teachers who does not teach evolution in the classroom, or who actually teaches creationism ... I'll be your worst nightmare."

Teacher: "Oh, .... ah ... um..."

Parent: "And, you should know, my child, who will be in your class, is totally on board with this and will be paying close attention."

... or words to that effect.

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Greg, did you see JoeCap's comment (the only other comment so far)?

He states three ways he thinks Moore's statement("Theyâve had evolution classes, they choose to reject it in favor of religion.â) is wrong:

(1) It implies that there is only one kind of evolution, the neo-Darwinian synthesis based on methodological naturalism (the a priori assumption that nature is all that there is), and (2) that if you don't believe the claims of this theory, the ONLY other choice is religion. I personally believe life evolved in a tree similar to what is taught in evolutionary biology classes, but could not have happened simply via random mutations and natural selection. Not nearly enough information search capability. This is not automatically imply that God or gods did it. Lastly, Mr. Moore implies (3) that those who choose evolution are not religious. I'm not even talking about theistic evolutionists (people who adhere to every inkling that evolutionary biology has to teach, and believe God did it). You're trying to tell me Richard Dawkins is not religious about his worldview? Militant, atheist evolutionary biologists are every bit as religious as a sweating, hollering young Earth creationist preacher from south Alabama.

Besides the fact that his arguments are ridiculous, what the heck does he mean when he says, "Not nearly enough information search capability"? Now it's more than specified information, it's information SEARCH capability. Did he just think it sounded sciency?

Then he recommends a recent ID Foundations article from uncommondissent to find out what ID is all about.

By Lynn Wilhelm (not verified) on 09 Feb 2011 #permalink

...and if you have a problem with that, Guido and Lefty, my two big Italian PhD friends, will help you to your car...

rob - I prefer Guido and Lefty, my two big Italian PhD friends, will give you a scientific demonstration of the fast setting properties of Portland Cement. Viewer participation is mandatory ;)

I'm happy to report that my daughter's 6th grade Life Science syllabus has units on basic genetics, heredity, and then evolution. Her textbook says "Darwin's ideas are often referred to as the theory of evolution. A scientific theory is a well-tested concept that explains a wide range of observations."

My first classroom experience with evolution was teach the controversy style, even though it was twelve years ago. We got fifteen minutes of why evolution is bad and roughly an hours worth of some of the poorest creationist arguments I have ever heard (I have watched some of the way of the master videos, so that is saying something). I had to take a general biology class in college and the word evolution never even came up. I am surprised that the number of creationist teachers is so low.

By Ryan O'Donnell (not verified) on 09 Feb 2011 #permalink

I was surprised at how organized and scientific sounding the creationist's arguments were at The Creation Museum. We had to tour the entire place and visit all the exhibits and their astronomy show was slick and talked about blue giants and how they can't be here and there due to the age astronomers say this blah blah blah is... I couldn't keep up. Then they said carbon dating was completely inaccurate past a few thousand years and something about finding a helium atom in something that was supposedly millions of years old and how that couldn't be. They've learned to use science sounding arguments instead of because "The Bible says so" and for the layman - which I obviously am - I could see how you could be convinced. It should also be noted that I do believe in God.

Sondrah, it's called the "Gish Gallop" ... invented by Duane Gish of Answers in Genesis. If someone you think might have knowledge in an area, especially someone with some authority, rattles off a bunch of things that sound like facts, you have what sounds like a bunch of facts, even if every one of the facts is incorrect and already disproved. It can be very convincing, especially those who want to (or need to) believe what is being said.

And, before I forget, here's a nice apple.

By s. pimpernel (not verified) on 10 Feb 2011 #permalink

Greg: isn't the creationist "science" fair at Har Mar Mall this weekend?

from their site:
"The Annual Home School Science Fair
Will Be Held on February 12 & 13, 2011
Har Mar Mall, Snelling & County Road B
Roseville Minnesota"

ugh! i forgot it's a home school fair. home schooling: sad face.

Greg, you got me worried yesterday. So I e-mailed my daughter's Life Science teacher. I kept my e-mail vague "I see there is an article on MinnPost that says that only 60% of Minnesota high school science teachers teach exclusively scientific evolution. All I can say is 3 cheers for Stacy Bartlett from the Minnesota Math and Science Academy (a charter school). Here is part of her response:

"I do not consider myself qualified to teach anything other than the scientific theory of evolution, and, frankly, I think it would be a crime or at least a disservice to any alternate explanation (especially if it's a religious explanation or suggestion) for me to even attempt to present something other than scientific evolution." and "To be clear, I don't "believe" in evolution. The data is so vast I don't need to rely on faith. Faith serves a different purpose in my personal life. Frankly, I don't "believe" in anything scientific. If I did, we wouldn't be talking about real science by definition."

Hah; looks like Dr. Gary Hurd (another blogger) has stopped by the MinnPost original to shred some of the Cdesign Proponentists claims, as well.

I'll note that while the full Berkman/Plutzer article is behind the paywall for Science, the "supplement" is not - which includes the questionaire, codebook, and nearly-raw dataset. This means anyone who would like to examine the responses for public school teachers in their own state can do so.

"ugh! i forgot it's a home school fair. home schooling: sad face."

*Shrug.* I have an MS in evolutionary bio and I'm going to home school for precisely these reasons; I can't trust science education in U.S.

Renee, I for one hope you do not home school. If the scientifically educated, and alert parents abandon public schools there will be nothing, and nobody to support the good teachers.