Houston, the Bullies Have Landed

By Adam Frank | March 18, 2008 11:14 am

Adam FrankOver at Bad Astronomy, Phil Plait has been doing a good job tracking the latest act in the depressingly long disaster flick known as Creationism. While many of the postings I have done here at Reality Base focus on broader views of what humans do in science and what they think of as spiritual endeavor, the ritual burning of science education going on in Texas demands as much illumination as possible.

The details of the situation have been covered in a number of places, but here is the quick overview: The Texas State Board of Education is in the midst of deciding its science education standards. These are the specifications for what should be taught and what students are expected to know in the state of Texas. The board, which has far too many creationists on it, recently included reviews from representatives of the Discovery Institute, a front for the Intelligent Design “movement.” This will ensure another sad attempt to get evolution labeled “just a theory” and present the creationists’ non-science as an “alternative view.”

We have seen all of this before, of course. This case is particularly dangerous because in this review cycle, guidelines and textbook selections are reviewed together. The sad spectacle of a state’s public science education bureaucracy being hijacked by a religious viewpoint is bad enough, but it’s the textbooks that are the real problem. Texas is a big market for textbook publishers. The less scrupulous among them are willing to bend to market forces and downplay those aspects of biology that are considered troublesome (i.e. the foundational theory of evolution).

I have written before about the schizophrenia of the creationists. They are willing to accept the fruits of science that ensure their quality of life and health, but feel free to reject those parts that conflict with their particular interpretation of their particular religion. Perhaps we should demand some consistency and ask that they hand in their cell phones and relinquish the use of antibiotics. The self-imposed blindness is maddening.

These creationists are practicing religious intolerance in a nation founded on the opposite principle. The part of the story that does not get enough press, however, is the damage this does to the scientific and, hence, economic enterprise of our country. Students in countries we are bound to compete against are not being subjected to this pruning of the scientific tree. A 12-year-old interested in biology in India, China, or Germany is not being given half the story because some bullies in the community made it onto a school board.

Worse, by striking at the roots of science education, they threaten the scientific enterprise of the nation—our greatest resource and the engine of our strength. These school board charades are a threat that must be confronted.
In 1955 the federal government stepped into the long battle for racial equality in education, and the desegregation of schools began. That was a good idea. Maybe it’s time for mandatory national standards of science education (which include evolution) to be determined by scientists, and not bullies.

Adam Frank is a professor of astrophysics at the University of Rochester who studies star formation and stellar death using supercomputers. His new book, “The Constant Fire, Beyond the Science vs. Religion Debate,” has just been published. He will be joining Reality Base to post an ongoing discussion of science and religion—you can read his previous posts here, and find more of his thoughts on science and the human prospect at the Constant Fire blog.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Evolution, Science & Religion
MORE ABOUT: Adam frank, creationism

Comments (39)

Links to this Post

  1. You-read-it-here-first department | March 18, 2009
  2. Darwiniana » Can scientists teach evolution objectively? | March 19, 2009
  3. pianos | January 13, 2010
  1. Hear hear! I especially like the suggestion that ignorant misguided bullies not be allowed to set the standards for school books. I fully support federal intervention on this issue. Some people may try to invoke the establisment clause, but it does NOT apply in this issue.

    I wrote a song in 1991 about the controversy that (sadly) is still relevant. I quote some of the lyrics here:
    The only problem is your in-ter-pre-ta-tion. / Evolution is the better ex-pla-na-tion of / overwhelming evidence that evolution is a fact of nature. / You’ll just have to fact the fact: you’re related to a monkey!

    If you like it, the full lyrics, comments and optional free mp3 downloads are at http://www.TheBicyclingGuitarist.net/songs/evolutio.htm Share and enjoy!

  2. Steve F.

    Adam:

    I thought we were going for balance, not for beating up on believers.

    Creationism and intelligent design (ID) are part of the scene, so why not try to understand it? Isn’t that what science is supposed to be all about?

    First of all, lets clear away some myths. Believers don’t have a problem with science in general, just certain topics: stem cells, abortion, and evolution being the hot buttons. This is important to know because the die-hard anti-religion crowd is always trying to smear believers as being anti-science. Its not true.

    Second of all, creationism and ID is a huge deal in the mind of the anti-religion crowd, but probably not even in the top ten even for those Christians who believe in it. Basically, from their point of view, there are a lot of things that are much more important: having a strong family, being honest, being good to your fellow man, being right with Jesus, staying out of debt, try to follow the commandments. You get the general idea.

    When creationism does come into play, it is usually in the guise of somebody going mano-e-mano against secular humanism. Conflict is a nice American and British hobby, and many dedicated Christians enjoy it as much as does Dawkins or Harris. The context, of course, is a school system that, in the view of many Christians denigrates, their beliefs.

    But this doesn’t drill down to the origins of the conflict, where one needs to resurrect some conveniently forgotten history: evolution as a two hundred and some odd years old quasi-religious movement engaging in pitched battle against church and God, and social Darwinism as a murderous creed. Without understanding these two, you cannot understand the origins of the Christian distrust of evolution and Darwinism.

    Broadly, without going into details, evolution well before Darwin the younger came on the scene was a catch-all quasi-religious, quasi-scientific, quasi-mystical grab-bag of ideas for all kinds of things, a lot of them having to do with the idea that northern Europeans were better than southern Europeans and, of course, everybody else. And then things like craniology where brain size was supposed to be correlated to culture and brainpower – size matters – and therefore men were smarter than women. Darwin the elder was very much into this kind of thinking.

    Social Darwinism, in the form of eugenics, was heavily promoted by Darwin’s son-in-law and endorsed by Darwin himself. Basically, the idea was to breed better humans by incarcerating poor quality human stock – the infirm, mentally deficient, and unfortunately, more southern Europeans again – to prevent them from having children.

    In Germany, at the behest and tireless propaganda of Darwin’s Rottweiler (Ernst Haeckel, one of the most prominent scientists of his day), social Darwinism was firmly established well before World War I. This was to play a major factor in both the Scopes trial and the establishment of creationism: first of all, the Butler Act that Scopes was testing was based in large part on William J. Bryan’s distrust of Social Darwinism, and secondly, William J. Bryan himself personally was involved in the trial, again in large part because of his intense dislike of social Darwinism. Clarence Darrow, the anti-creationist lawyer, bullied Bryan so much that he died five days after winning the trial, leaving an extremely bitter pill of distrust that later blossomed into what we see today.

    I have to ask, why have so many scientists taken these things off their radar screen? Is it because they seem to cast science is such a bad light?

    Anyway, to tie up the story, the Germans implemented a severe regime of eugenics that included incarceration of many of their own people into concentration camps. These then, in a wartime context, evolved degree by degree into industrial slaughter of entire eugenically-suspect populations.

    So, lets get some perspective on creationism and understand where it comes from. And lets stop bullying believers while we are at it.

    Steve F.

  3. @Steve

    In no way do I mean to bully anyone who calls him/herself a believer and hope my writings up to now have spoken to that. There are so many people who consider themselves religious or spiritual or believers who hold thoughful nuanced views that even when we don’t agree I can appreciate their perspective and their motivation. What is going on in Texas gives all those people a bad name and that is what I am addressing here.

    Its when believers take on the mantle of literalists or fundementalists and try to force their ideas on others in a public domain such as science education that I have a problem. The idea of teaching that there is some alternative to evolution that needs to be given equal time is just not true from a purely scientific perspective. Its so much part of the very loud and very public “warfare” mode of debate.

    My real ire here comes from the use of politics and funding from private groups to force one particular religions viewpoint into a aspect of public life where it can do real harm. These people do not speak from the better angels of human nature and make it more difficult for there to be a conversation that goes beyond their harsh voices.

    The social history you bring up is an interesting perspective and should be folded into the discussion. I will look into it.

  4. Charles Schmidt

    Steve F.: You say that it is hot button issues they have a problem with but it is not that it is what does not fit in to the belief system. Stem cell research has been show to cure some diseases so issue with it and others listed like evolution have been shown to be far more supported than the bible can be.

    You say that ID is not that important to most Christensen’s but it seems that those that make decisions about EDUCATION it is and that is a problem. If you want to teach religion in schools do as the Catholic’s have done have your own schools and those that graduate have not a clue about real science and stop messing up the learning of the rest.

    What of the book burnings by the church in the past to hide knowledge or them burning people at the stake. If wee wish to go back in history you will find those that believe in Christ have done far more damage than you put off on to evolution or what some consider off shoots of it.

    If you or anyone else wants to have a religion, go to a place of worship and practice you faith that is fine you do it. But when you or anyone else decides that teaching religious beliefs is school that cannot be supported then that crosses the line of forcing you beliefs on others. ID is a sick joke to dumb down our youth and it is not even worthy of being equated with any religion.

  5. Michael Behe, one of the stars of the intelligent design movment, testified under oath during the Dover trial that intelligent design is NOT a scientific theory. That is why it has no place in a science classroom. I am not opposed to creation stories being taught in public schools, but to teach them as fact or give equal time to them in science classrooms is wrong.

  6. Steve F.

    Adam:

    Thanks for the thoughtful comment.

    Its common to assume that the creationism issue is a simple black and white dichotomy – bad Christians vs. noble scientists – and that there is no reason other than superstition and dogma behind Christian support of creationism and intelligent design. But of course, the issues are much deeper and broader than that, and do not always speak to the ennoblement of science.

    The power of your approach is that you can start to uncover the underlying issues, rather than repeating the usual battle cries. This could be very important.

    My recommendation is to let the usual folks do battle against creationism – some of them are very good at fighting the battles. You don’t need, I think, to prove your bona fides on it.

    The point is not to just keep winning the battles, it is to end the war. And that means understanding and knowledge (and I’m not saying capitulation).

    Think of our campaign to bomb Iraq or Afghanistan into democracy and the love of freedom. The basic idea seems to be that these are people who only can understand democracy and freedom when given a big taste of noble American violence. The same thinking seems to be at play when our scientific big guns are dealing with creationists. Should we be surprised that it remains so strong?

    Warmly,
    Steve F.

  7. Charles Schmidt

    From what you have said so far has not been the ennoblement religion either. No one has said that you or anyone else cannot believe what you wish just keep ID out of schools. As far as our campaigns in combat of seas be a little more knowledgeable about why and what was done some of us have been there, so may be you are less than accurate here as well Steve F..

  8. Steve F.

    Hi Charles:

    The recent lessons of Iraq, now being applied to Afghanistan, are that you work with and gain the trust of the people you are supposed to be protecting, as opposed to shooting them.

    What I am saying, pretty much, is doing the same thing – not bullying or (figuratively) bombing the living daylights out of them) – on the creationist home front as well. Please let me know if you agree or disagree and why.

    Scientists and others want to maintain a sound education in biology and evolution. This is now more important than ever for our economy and for simply understanding things. But there continues to be conflict over evolution and related issues.

    I’m saying that a major reason – not the only reason, mind you – for this conflict is the sheer arrogance and rather incredible ignorance of those ignore the reasons for the conflict – or even refuse to study the reasons – and try to ram their will through, reveling in the resulting contention. Their attitude is that we are the scientists and educated folks and we know best.

    This very patronizing attitude is guaranteed to rile up opposition. But more importantly, and apparently unbeknownst to those possessing it – is the quasi-religious ideology behind it. Many of our intellectuals have bought into an anti-Christian – indeed, an anti-any-religion – theology. Like religious fundamentalists everywhere, they believe themselves objective guardians of the truth and consider those who view things differently as outcasts and heathens – expendable. In short, they are caught up by their own ideological blinders in exactly the same way as those whose views they dismiss. And, of course, its theology they are addressing with their judgments. And to make things worse, its a priestly elite kind of thing. Only if you are a scientist do your views count.

    As long as this situation prevails – and the new atheists seem determined that it will – there will be continuing conflict and continuing ignorance.

    Hope this makes sense.

    Steve F.

  9. Joseph Cassles

    The absolute surest way for creationist to disprove”Darwin’s Theory,” is by homeschooling generations of their children.
    ~Ned~
    Creationists make it sound as though a “theory” is something you dreamt up after being drunk all night.
    ~Isaac Asimov~
    “Evolution has seemingly passed over those that cannot understand it.”
    ~Ned~
    “May we please have a moment of science, for those poor souls that cannot understand evolution as God’s scientific method.”
    ~Ned~
    “Science is no longer frozen; global warming has resumed the thaw.”
    ~Ned~

  10. Great article, Adam. And congrats on scooping all the bigger news outlets with the best headline yet on this Texas tomfoolery!

  11. To Steve F. – I disagree with your contention that scientific arrogance is at the root of the problem. To quote a favorite comic in his response to hecklers, “Hey, I don’t come around and tell you how to do your job at WalMart, do I?”

    Scientists devote their lives and careers to analyzing and advancing the understanding of their fields. You cannot be surprised that many will be annoyed at being asked to debate a topic by people who haven’t bothered to do any research or reading whatsoever and can only repeatedly spout the tired, refuted-and-explained-a-thousand-times claptrap that the Discovery Institute and other creationist organizations post. You and I can see it on every blog and comment thread on evolution and I.D.

    Because they cannot make a logical or legitimate case in the scientific circle, science education community or in the courts, these folks have resorted to scare tactics and misinformation PR campaigns that are only rivaled by the spinmeisters at the cigarette companies. That’s NOT the scientists’ doing. It’s the D.I. and their kind who’ve decided not to play by the rules and to take this down to throwing mud.

    Personally, don’t understand how these supposedly higher-moral people can look at themselves in the mirror. I want to ask them what Jesus would say to their lying in his name?

  12. Steen

    @ Steve. There is a problem with your approach. It works between two parties with some form of respect for each other. The problem is that the creationist/ID crowd has one major M.O. Lie and misrepresent and distort Evolution in order to vilify it. As long as they lie, there simply is no common ground to work on. Willful liars simply are not reliable.

    And your claim about the Sciences simply is incorrect. Creationists/IDers have problem with Evolution. They ALSO have problem with geology, paleontology, astronomy, physics, chemistry, and in fact, I con not think of even ONE scientific field that is not contradicting the claims of that crowd.

    Correct, Christianity itself does not have a war against Science. But most assuredly, the creationist/ID crowd very deliberately and specifically are at war with ALL Science, your denial none withstanding. Fundamentalist literalists/Dominionists cannot combine their view with even one field in Science. They are so void of evidence or even basic comprehension of science that it is laughable.

    Because they don’t care. They don’t care if most or even all of their claims are flat-out lies. They are not debating science, they are just spewing lie after lie to show God how strong their Faith is. There is nothing else on their agenda.

    They most assuredly are at war with Science. ALL Science. That you don’t see that is a concern to me.

    And, by the way, trying to blame the science for people’s use of it (social Darwinism and whatnot that you mentioned, would be the equivalent of blaming God for the Spanish Inquisition, genocide of indigenous people, and the murderous behaviors of Serbs and Tutsi. I reject your attempt at making that pairing.

  13. PeterS

    Looking in from the outside I find this whole debate bemusing.

    On the one hand I am dismayed by the perverse interpretation of science but on the other hand I am impressed that there is such a bedrock of spiritual awareness. That is a good thing despite the perverse ends that some people direct it towards.

    Rather than counting cannon shells being fired in the battle I think we should be asking the question Why? What is really going on? Is something more fundamental happening? What insights can we gain?
    Simple condemnation is a satisfying release of emotion but it is questionable whether there is a useful outcome.

    To support Steve’s point see Sean’s post http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/2009/03/04/ex/ where he and a legion of posters ridicule the attempt of some people to find meaning and purity in their lives. We might find their behaviour quaint, even misguided but why should a prominent scientist use a widely read science forum to abuse their beliefs in such a nasty way? What issue of science did this raise? Did it provide useful insights or was it merely an outlet for distasteful emotions? That was Snarky-ism taken to ugly excess. Doesn’t this kind of behaviour perhaps provide a clue to some of the underlying causes? I am sure it is more complicated than that but it might be a good starting point.

    Quite frankly, I am saddened that Adam has chosen to enter the battle rather than understand it.

  14. Mike Gottschalk

    As a neophyte blogger, I’ve had a great first experience in our dialogue over these posts. I pointedly use dialogue here because as a rule, the posts and commenting have felt like communion with and communicating for understanding. The rants have been minor exceptions.

    The understanding that we’ve been seeking has a note to it that I like: I don’t think any of us are looking for some kind of United Nations styled ‘Kum- by-ya'; we’ve been engaged together in seeking the True and Real, each from their own disciplines. I can’t help but imagine, that the True and Real, somehow gets invigorated when people seek it more for understanding than confirming dogmas: such invigoration can only stem from vigorous dialogue.

    I’m impressed with what transpired through this post. Adam enlists the word, bully; I find this enlistment thoughtful; it communicates something important for me to understand: he is experiencing the behavior of a Christian movement that lacks civility in form and tempermant- an issue that stands apart from the scientific issues. As an aspiring follower of christ, who hopes to shape Christian thinking, I get valuable insight from this post and all of your ensuing commenting.

    As a thinker, I’m engaged in the project of better understanding the life of Human being as much as any practicing scientist. Toward this end, I experiment with concepts and language with the hopes of helping us move into our ‘fragile future’ (I got this phrase from you Peter- nice.) with success. I’m not looking to have my ideas scratched behind the ears: I need to engage in a dialogue that is both thoughtful and vigorous. I think this post and commenting has exemplified such dialogue.

  15. Mike Gottschalk

    Some words have the nature of carbon fiber: they’re so light in weight but carry huge loads; ‘infinity’ comes to mind. Others on the other hand are leaden: Religion. I came into this dialogue, ready to use this word to contain the distortions in Christian thinking- in other words, our understanding of biblical texts would change if we removed the ‘religion goggles’ and things like creationist bullying could subside. After listening to every body over the past months, I’m wondering if there is a better use of the word religion by performing some alchemy on it.

    This thinking stems from a poet friend of mine as well as some of the thoughts from Steen. As my friend and I were talking about the poetic, I hunted for distinctions between religious and poetic thinking. This is one that I found: While each discipline points us to the infinite and seeks to transcend the mundane, religion also carries with it an engineering component. I have always felt the religious question to be, ‘ now that we recognize the infinite, how do we incarnate it into the mundane?’

    Changing the word religion from something leaden to something capable, will entail removing from its sense, the justification of dogmatic being. It would have to connote a place where the question is prized equally to the answer, the aesthetic is prized equally to the utilitarian, the Infinite is prized equally to the Finite. If we let the word religion name one of our categories of seeing into the True and Real as we do with the word science, then we could develop a methodology proper to religious questions.

    I would add to the transformation of the category that we call religion, a change in its focus: I think its focus should be on creating, not on morality. Morality is easy: it only requires the work of pointing one’s finger and originating a life from rules. Creating, and creating well, is an entirely different lifestyle: the truly creative (or, ‘truly religious’?) originate themselves from the wholeness that pulsates through out- a wholeness though not tangible, is certainly palpable. Such a lifestyle engenders a nakedness that moralists are uncomfortable with.

    Anyway, just some thoughts for the broader context.

  16. Charles Schmidt

    Steve F.: Your statement of the reason “that we are scientist and we know best” could also be looked at from the other side saying that we are spiritual and we know gods will and we know best. No one has said that you cannot pray quietly when you want nor practice your religion as you wish or anything else since that is your freedom to do so but when religious convictions or beliefs are forced in to public schools then the rights of those that do not accept as true what ID presents then their freedom is infringed. If you want to have ID taught do it at home or have a religious school that does so but not in public schools. The problem is also that ID overlooks what does not fit with their narrative of the history of the world and will not address those issues.

    If I dislike the answer that I get from math should I develop my own that gives me than answer that I want even though it is wrong at some points and not address those problems? To think that I should do so would not be reasonable any more than ID is reasonable when looked at closely having things spring into existence. The freedom of religion is a personal freedom, education is public and to take a personal freedom and force it on the public takes away freedom from others.

    The right to keep an bear arms is a freedom does that mean that everyone should be forced to own and carry a gun? No, I don’t do think so nor should that right be taken away from those that chose to do so. When any view, belief or conviction that is held personally is force on others then we have a problem and science is tested and retested where ID can not be tested at all and that makes it a belief not scince.

  17. Steve F.

    Hi Sammy and Steen:

    Sammy, you wrote that “I disagree with your contention that scientific arrogance is at the root of the problem.”

    I didn’t say that and don’t think that it is true. But, I do believe that “unscientific” arrogance and “unscientific” ignorance on the part of scientists is a major reason why the problem is continuing and not being resolved.

    Look. With knowledge and scientific training comes responsibility, and that includes the responsibility to understand and to educate. An antagonistic, shoot-first and ask-questions-later approach to creationism and ID – the usual approach these days – is exactly the opposite of what should be happening.

    What should be happening is research, education, dialogue, investigation, and the creation of understanding.

    You said: “You cannot be surprised that many will be annoyed at being asked to debate a topic by people who haven’t bothered to do any research or reading whatsoever and can only repeatedly spout the tired, refuted-and-explained-a-thousand-times claptrap that the Discovery Institute and other creationist organizations post.”

    That applies as much too scientists as it does to creationists. Think about it. What you seem to be saying is that scientists actually being engaged with the issues and trying to understand it is asking too much. My perception is that anybody who thinks this way is definitely rejecting their calling as a scientist and an educator.

    Steen, you wrote that “There is a problem with your approach. It works between two parties with some form of respect for each other.”

    I agree. But, this is a sword that cuts both ways. Creationists, Discovery Institute propagandists and scientists both need to have respect, or at least an urge to learn.

    You wrote that ” the creationist/ID crowd has one major M.O. Lie and misrepresent and distort Evolution in order to vilify it.” If this is your idea of respect or an appropriate attitude, I definitely part company with you.

    A big part of what is going on, I think, is the inappropriate mixing of religious interpretation and science – and it is being done on both sides.

    Scientists look at intelligent design – or creationism – and see an illogical and sadly laughable attempt to impose a religious interpretation on evolution. Many religionists – in my mind, those not very discriminating – look at evolution and see a sinister attempt to pass off a highly dangerous anti-religious theology as a scientific theory.

    A lot of issues are packed into these two statement. Some can be readily extracted:

    For example, the number of scientists who have made mind-numbingly nonsensical statements to the effect that evolution rules out belief in God is so large as to approach the astronomical. But, of course, evolution as a science – as opposed to evolution as a religion – does no such thing and it is foolish, irrational, and irresponsible to say so.

    But, with so many nonsensical statements on evolution by seemingly responsible scientists, statements that believers can readily see to be ideological and theological in nature, should we be surprised that many conclude that evolution is not a science but a religion in disguise?

    So there is a huge space of misunderstanding and ignorance. I hold that scientists have an equal responsibility as do religionists to filling that space with understanding and knowledge.

    Are you persuaded?

    Steve F.

  18. Charles Schmidt

    Well it seems that there are those in Texas that do have some reason in the matter please read this article in the Dallas News.

    http://trailblazersblog.dallasnews.com/archives/2009/03/state-board-of-education-targe.html

  19. amphiox

    It will probably take a biological version of Sputnik, a clear and unequivocal demonstration of superiority in a given field by a competitor/rival of America, with obvious and large implications on economic competitiveness or national security, to change the complacent attitude most Americans have about this subject right now.

    If history is any guide, though, America will, after a brief moment of collective shock, quickly make up any lost ground. (Or so we hope to think)

  20. The political use of religion for draconian policy is nothing new and has tainted religion for over a thousand years. Science too has been misused by political operatives, the atomic bomb, chemical agriculture etc.. What I haven’t heard is any mention of the root of this debate dating back to the Greeks. Yeah that’s right, let’s go get them Greeks! (Just kidding) However, there was a time when the Greek philosophers divided into two schools of thought. One school held that all nature including humans was alive and self-creative, ever making order from disorder. The other held that the ‘real’ world could only be known through pure reason, not through direct experience, and was God’s geometric creation, permanently mechanical and perfect behind our illusion of its disorder. We’ve heard of Pythagoras, Parmenides and Plato, the founding fathers of the mechanical worldview but not so much of Thales, Anaximander and Heraclitus, the organic philosophers who saw all the cosmos as alive. What if Galileo had used his microscope to find supporting evidence of Anaximander’s theory of biological evolution here on the living earth instead of using his telescope to find evidence for Aristarchus’s celestial mechanics? It is all coming full circle now as scientists re-discover the living universe and perhaps soon we will actually get beyond the debate. Note that the very worldview that posits a mechanical universe is also the one responsible for the notion of a creator outside, a supernatural being, rather than that of Anaximander’s, who some call the first real scientist. With the issues facing us today we should be keen on resolving this dispute by leaving behind our adolescent notions of a competitive, dog-eat-dog world and accepting our responsibility to cooperate in creating a healthy peaceful world for our future generations. It is a cosmic joke that has had the children at each others throats for too long.

  21. Steen

    @ Steve. The creationist and ID arguments HAVE been explored and evaluated and found to not be scientifically accurate. Now, there is nothing wrong with that; these discussions clearly have underscored that there are numerous types of knowledge aside from scientific knowledge.

    The issue is not that creationism/ID is “wrong.” It is that scientifically, it is incorrect. That’s where the bullying comes in, when the CreIDers insist that their otherwise knowledge MUST be scientific knowledge and be taught as such. Then, suddenly, this knowledge must be explored through the application of the Scientific Method. And that has been done. And it was found to not have the scientific evidence in support of the claims. In Science, that means that the discussion is over and done with. No evidence = hypothesis is rejected, end of discussion. Science is about the data, and the creIDers don’t have the scientific data.

    Then what happened! The creIDers broke the rules. They insist that the evaluated data IS right, just because they say so, and therefore, the creID claims and hypotheses must be science on par with science. Obviously, the scientific community objects to this, as it is a flagrant violation of the Scientific Method. THAT is why this vociferous crowd is seen as dishonest and lying; the claims that already have been discarded as not having evidence supporting it is continuously brought up again by the creIDers, almost is if wishful thinking is the equivalent to scientific evidence, as if merely insistence and popularity is enough for something to be scientifically evident. Continuing to violate the rules of the Scientific Method and yet insisting that what is being purveyed is science, yes that will really fast get those pushing the claims to be branded as dishonest, as liars and worse.

    There is no “shoot-first and ask-questions-later” attack going on. The questions were asked long ago, and the creIDers were unable to provide the needed data. It is the continued pushing of already discarded material that generates the shooting back, it is the creIDers who, within the realms of the Scientific Method are being starkly dishonest.

    THAT is why talk.origin can compile a list of about 600 creationist/ID claims that already are shown false. creID are seen as trying to force already falsified claims rather than looking at new evidence, essentially continuing to “lie” by insisting that the rejected hypotheses are valid.

    Within the Scientific Method, there simply is no other choice in how to treat such repeated claims.

    You say that “”What should be happening is research, education, dialogue, investigation, and the creation of understanding. “” That was tried through the Scientific Method. After all, that is the purpose of the Scientific method. What we are waiting for is the creIDers to either do that research and generate evidence for their claims or drop the argument that their belief or hypothesis is somehow scientific. So far, creIDers have refused to do so, instead trying to “win” by forcing their agenda. Hence the depiction of them as bullies.

    As for “respect,” you claim this: “”But, this is a sword that cuts both ways. Creationists, Discovery Institute propagandists and scientists both need to have respect, or at least an urge to learn.””

    The problem is that the creationist/ID argument already have been learned and evaluated. And found to have no supporting scientific data or research. While Evolution does. So the choice from a scientific standard is clear, Evolution stays, creationism/ID is rejected as having no evidence. The learning already happened. It was learned that the creIDers claims were baseless, at least as far as scientific evidence goes.

    Now, creationism/ID may have a foundation and relevance somewhere else, but not within science, not anymore. So the disrespect is on behalf of the creIDers who continue to claim scientific validity of what has been scientifically rejected. THAT is dishonesty. To call a spade a spade is not disrespectful; if you want to “part company” over this, that is your choice, but I very much stand by my characterization of creationists essentially as a pack of liars. I have stood by this for more than 20 years, and in all the many interactions I have had on blogs and discussion boards, I have not had any reason to change my opinion about this. As I mentioned elsewhere, I have only 3 times in these decades run into creationists that showed themselves scientifically honest. And as I also described, all three eventually transitioned into accepting Evolution, all admitting it was a painful change. Not because of evidence, but because of the cognitive dissonance between what they could observe and what they believed.

    And I do have a concern with another of your claims, namely that: “”For example, the number of scientists who have made mind-numbingly nonsensical statements to the effect that evolution rules out belief in God is so large as to approach the astronomical.””

    I have yet to see more than a handful do this. What you WILL hear is that there is no evidence in the real of science that God exists or not. That ties in with science being limited in its scope to the point of not being able to explore the supernatural. That’s very different than claiming God doesn’t exist, or that science somehow rules out a BELIEF in God, a part of your claim that seemed even more egregious. So to accept that claim of yours, I would need to see evidence.

    And therefore, I must reject your next claim: “”But, with so many nonsensical statements on evolution by seemingly responsible scientists, statements that believers can readily see to be ideological and theological in nature, should we be surprised that many conclude that evolution is not a science but a religion in disguise? “””

    As the establishment of such actions as typical has NOT happened yet, you are making an appeal to a belief rather than a fact. Until you show this true, the argument of this driving resentment against science is again looking like a claim, an excuse, a belief based on a falsehood.

    That once again shows me (but I carry the baggage of decades of experience in interacting with creIDers on boards) that the justifications, arguments and claims by creIDers is based on falsehoods and is just justification for the bullying that is the subject of this tread.

    So you say that my point means that we part ways on this. So be it. I don’t see the validity of your argument, and thus not of your conclusion. Therefore, I reject your concern as another example of the bullying, of pushing invalid claims onto science. No, Steve, I am not convinced of your argument yet, it is the same stuff I have seen for decades.

    Nothing wrong with the views of creIDers. But claiming it science, pushing it on science classes etc. that is bullying, that is outright deceit and not acceptable. You likely do not like my stance or my reasoning, but unless you have something that no creIDers has showed in over 20 years, it doesn’t matter to me or to science.

    If it doesn’t fit per the Scientific Method, then it is not science, and pushing it anyway is dishonest and is bullying. That still stands.

  22. Charles Schmidt

    Great post and well said thank you STEEN I did enjoy it!

  23. Mike Gottschalk

    Steen, this might be your best piece yet; and Steve your sense of being is admirable. I hope we let the both of your voices- along with some of Switzer’s thrown in – shape our sensibilities here. Steen, I remember my first experience with “creation science” back in 1979. I delved into a book published by Creation Research Institute that over flowed with evidence backed by a myriad of journal citations. With all the exuberance of a real scientific mind, I scheduled myself a day to search through the primary documents themselves at the Arizona State University Library. I couldn’t find a one: even with the aid of a salt and pepper haired document expert who searched the world for them. I stood before her with my CRI source material feeling rather stupid.

    Steve, I think you make a valid point when you note that any scientist, when they make a statement meant to encompass the nature of reality, leaves the domain of science and enters the one of philosophy- even theology. In this domain, scientists can, if they want to, engage others beyond the scientific method. But here, they can’t expect the rest of us to limit ourselves to the scientific method.

    I think Creationists make a huge mistake trying to get their world view communicated within the science classroom on two accounts. First, as Steen aptly points out, they don’t meet the criteria of scientific method- if they did, it would be part of the that canon. Second, creationists diminish the religious impulse, when they feel it invalidated unless science can validate it; they fail to see that for the scientific method to work, we have to size a thing to fit within our “grasp”; myself- I don’t want to originate my life by something I can devise and hold within my hand. As a religious thinker, I think creationism is problematic religiously and socially when they bully their well intentioned but misguided agenda.

    Meanwhile, as Howard aptly points out, we have a world to re-make which is a task that resides outside of the classroom.

  24. Steen

    Mike, I think that’s a great summary of what has been going on here the last few months. Science is the application of the Scientific Method, but it is not more than that and does not carry evidence as to morality, Faith or validity in non-scientific realms.

    I must say that the last month has been more productive and eye-opening for me than the bloody slugfests that usually occurs on boards and blogs. I certainly have gained new insight into creationist and ID views, and don’t think I will ever view them quite as negatively as in the past [doesn’t mean I won’t rip science”like” claims to shreds ;-) ]. My view of creationist methods and mindsets certainly have not changed, but my decades-long impression of deliberate willfulness is easing up.

    So where does the world go from here? I think that we are reaching a sort of compromise. Creationism/ID is not science, but scientific “truth” is not the only truth out there.

  25. Mike Gottschalk

    Steen, when it comes to, ‘ where do we go from here’, I think that we have to acknowledge the significance of our inner worlds as well as our outer worlds. Especially if you bring in ideas of thermodynamics: If order can only be created by the transformation of energy, it is then our style of ordering that is breaking down our ecosystems. To see our looming problem as an energy problem, misses a huge nuance.

    I would argue, that much of our culture’s ordering of outer lives, arise from a kind of disorder experienced within the inner life. In other words, we often create orders to compensate for disorders that are felt inwardly. As an example, I live in an area where people will build for themselves a 7k sq. ft. house for their family of four; this to me, represents an ordering meant to accomplish more than comfortable and aesthetic living. I would ask here, what kind of theory do we have to see into our forces that have neither mass nor acceleration, yet are the very forces that jeapordize our very existence? Something like morality falls short as a dynamic theory needed here.

    I think when Adam describes the experience of awe-fullness and sacredness, we need to consider this as something more than an event generated by physical processes; I don’t mean this to be a jumping off point into the world of magic, or even into another world devoid of physical processes; but it does seem to me, that the language of levels, dimensions, and domains need to be enlisted.

    For instance, instead of thinking of soul as a thing of sorts, we could think of it as a domain that arises from underlying processes; but as a domain that differs from those processes, they require different approaches- approaches appropriate to their domain. Poetic vision for instance. Seeing this dynamic of soul as a domain, gives it equal footing with other domains such as our digestive systems: food for this domain differs from that needed in the domain of soul, doesn’t it? Of course, because soul is an interconnected process, we could also see soul in terms of dimensions, as dimensions can intersect. In soul, hormones intersect with spirituality.

    I wonder Steen, if by enlisting the concepts of levels dimensions and domains, scientists could be more comfortable in stepping outside the language and thought of mechanism? Not to displace or even downplay, the significance of thinking in terms of mechanics, but to add to it. If we gave the domain of soul, real purchase in our collective life making, (purchasing power?) I wonder what world such an order would give rise to?

  26. amphiox

    Well, if this goes through, I guess we rationalists will just have to start homeschooling our children.

    Maybe it won’t turn out so bad. Our kids will get to university with a massive competitive advantage, shared only by a small minority of their homeschooled peers.

    We’ll probably have to arrange to teach them Chinese, though.

  27. Joseph Cassles

    The teaching of evolution over creationism in science class is not a controversy, it is a non starter. Evolution is science with empirical evidence. Creationism is one theological belief, out of many, supported by no evidence whatsoever. Creationism should only be taught in an elected theology class. Today’s science of evolution is no more “Darwin’s Theory” than modern astronomical science is “Galileo’s Theory,” that the earth revolves around the sun. If scientist had not prevailed, Christians would have us teaching that the earth is flat, that it is the center of the universe, with the rest of the stars and planets orbiting round, and that men used to plow with dinasaurs.

    “The absolute surest way for creationist to disprove “Darwin’s Theory,” grind evolution to a halt and impede the advancement of mankind, is by homeschooling generations of their children.”
    Joe Cassles

    “May we please have a moment of science, for those poor souls that cannot understand evolution as God’s scientific method.”
    Joe Cassles

  28. Steve F.

    Hi Guys:

    Sorry to not have been able to participate more. Work beckoned and I responded. I do hope to have more time to talk to you. Maybe on some more of Adam’s blogs.

    Let me summarize, but I doubt that anyone will read this.

    There is a battle going, and it is not really a battle of religion against science. There never was a battle there – they were always allies. It was always a battle of ignorance versus knowledge with a lot power posturing and positioning going on. Life as usual, as it was in the old days.

    However, there are some warriors – including those who have some very long memories and “remember” slights from centuries ago – still in it for a fight. This included the creationists, IDers, the new Atheists and a heck of lot more scientists than is rational.

    The challenge is to end the battles – to end the war. But, to warriors on both sides, this is unthinkable. Like Balkan hatreds, these battles lend meaning and drama to life, even as they destroy it.

    So, creationists challenge evolution on the battleground of scientific education, an arena where scientists have all the advantages, including the truth. And scientists – ignorant of their own prejudices – gladly engage in battle there.

    You see, the battle is not really between science and religion. It is about theology – does God exist and is the human soul a sacred trust – or are men and women just simply slightly more clever animals – and might makes right. [I simplify :>)]. And the problem is that evolution has been made into a vehicle for one side of this theological battle by its erstwhile scientific supporters.

    Until the scientific community starts to engage in self-policing against its own ideologues and convincingly acknowledges the role that the theologies of many of its outspoken opponents of religion have played in its doctrines, many in the religious communities will continue to strongly distrust evolution. Of course, similar acknowledgments on the part of the fundamentalists would be needed as well.

    Will these acknowledgments happen? Maybe if people start to value love and education over hatred and antagonism.

    Yours,
    Steve F.

  29. Greg. Tingey

    Steve F.

    LIAR – unless you are an ignoirant fool, of course!

    Science & religion MUST be in conflict, because science rests on evidence, and religion rests on belief without any evidence.

    Oh, and don’t tell repeated creationist lies about “social Darwinism” and the Nazis.
    it isn’t true, and we all know it isn’t true……

  30. Your post undeniably was one of the greatest points of my Wednesday. I was initially on Msn searching for something 100 % unrelated when the subject grabbed my focus. I

  31. Hey there , when browsing at your site i notice some type of strange codes all around the article, in case it

  32. Your blog post certainly was 1 of the greatest points of my Wednesday. I had been on Bing browsing for some thing 100 % not related when the name captured my interest. I

  33. Wow, this blog is definately getting bookmarked. Great Info all over the place.

  34. Hello- I have a habit of browsing the web and stumbled upon (no pun intended) this website. Overall, it’s is pretty nice, I, for one, like the graphics. If you get a second can you shoot me an email at bobbymc@live.com and let me know who designed it or where you found it? Thanks in advance!

NEW ON DISCOVER
OPEN
CITIZEN SCIENCE
Collapse bottom bar
+

Login to your Account

X
E-mail address:
Password:
Remember me
Forgot your password?
No problem. Click here to have it e-mailed to you.

Not Registered Yet?

Register now for FREE. Registration only takes a few minutes to complete. Register now »