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Nov 24 2013

Public schools “terrified” of creationism

Writing for the “Communities” section of the Washington Times, one Frank Kacer asks, Why are public schools terrified of examining evolution & creation?

If evolution is true, there’s a simple way for public schools to destroy any student’s belief in creation. Simply test each theory objectively in science classes using the scientific method. Instead, irrational lawsuits, court orders and fears of anything hinting of Christianity have become the weapons of choice to prevent use of objective science.

So, what are public schools really afraid of?

One wonders exactly who Mr Kacer believes the public schools are suing. If he stopped for a moment and remembered that the public schools are the ones being sued for First Amendment violations, he’d know that it’s only the creationists in public schools who are afraid right now. And if they’re not, then the school district is going to get taken to court and ordered to obey the law.

But despite his garbled grasp of the relevant facts, I think he has the germ of a good idea. Creationism has benefited a great deal from its special, protected status as a religious account of origins. I think we should teach the controversy and let public schools teach kids exactly why Genesis is a myth. If Mr Kacer and other creationists really want a head-to-head confrontation over the scientific study of origins, let’s take them up on it.

I know the argument against addressing creationism in the science classroom. There’s not enough time to go over all the material you need to cover to meet the curriculum. Whatever time you spend on creationism is time you could spend teaching, you know, actual science.

But consider this: the true and proper goal of a good science education is not to “cover the material” and get kids to memorize a list of facts they could just look up on Google. The true and proper goal of science education is to teach kids how to think scientifically, and in particular how to distinguish between scientific thinking and superstitious thinking.

Intelligent design creationism is a perfect opportunity to do this. It claims to be science, but it gives no chain of causal reasoning, no measurable or verifiable connection between its hypothesized causes and its claimed effects. It is superstition, pure and simple. It arbitrarily associates real-world phenomena with invisible, magical, supernatural causes, without any means of verifying any connection between the two, or even any rational description of what this connection would consist of if you could look for it.

If a kid graduates from high school, and loses the ability to sketch out a scientifically accurate diagram of the Krebs cycle, that’s not going to have a huge impact on their life unless they choose to specialize in a fairly narrow field of research. If they ever need to know it, it’s trivial to look up. But if they graduate from high school, and cannot tell the difference between scientific fact and superstitious hogwash, they’re ripe to be exploited by just about anyone unscrupulous enough to manipulate them. In a democracy, that’s a disaster. For a relatively few kids who will some day be our great scientists, we need a good, solid science education that will equip them to discover the wonders of science on their own. But the primary, the primary goal of science education, from pre-school through graduation, must be to teach kids what superstition is, and why it is not scientific fact.

 

16 comments

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  1. 1
    colnago80

    This is, of course, the fascist rag Washington Times owned by the Unification Church. Let’s recall that moonie Jonathan Wells claimed he was ordered by the Reverend Moon to fraudulently obtain a PhD in biology at UC Berkeley in order to “destroy evolution”. The Washington Times has about the same credibility as Pravda and Izvestia had in the former Soviet Union.

    1. 1.1
      Fred C. Dobbs

      That is, of course, the racist AIPAC-mouthpiece asshole SLC who wants Iran nuked and the Palestinians mass murdered.

  2. 2
    khms

    One of the more obvious problems with this is that it means some teachers need to teach the opposite of their own beliefs. I expect not only another round of lawsuits, but also quite a bit of sabotage.

    In any case, I suspect courts would see this as a first amendment violation, which is enough reason that it won’t fly. (In fact, isn’t that exactly the result of previous court cases on this?)

  3. 3
    Al Dente

    Most creationists see creationism vs evolution as a zero-sum game. If they manage to poke a hole in evolution then creationism automatically wins. So they spend much time looking for flaws in evolution. One problem with this is that they only acknowledge one form of creationism, based on Genesis. Other creation myths are ignored, even though the evidence for them is just as good as for Genesis.

    At the beginning of time, nothing existed. Only a great yawning abyss was present in the void of nothingness. Out of the abyss, a land of eternal mist, darkness and terrible cold was formed to the North; to all beings, this land was known as Niflheim. In the midst of the Dark Land surged a fountain known as Hvergelmir, from which spread the freezing glacial waters of twelve rivers throughout the void. To the South lay the land of Fire, Muspellsheim; an infernal region of unbearable, unsatiable heat and flames. From there poured rivers of fire whose waters contained a bitter poison which, little by little, gathered and became a solid mass. From the ice flowing from the North, this mass of venom was covered in a thick layer of frost. With the heat blowing from the lands of Fire, the frost began to melt, and the giant Ymir was born from poison and ice. -Snorri Sturluson The Prose Edda

    When Mr. Kacer can show that Niflheim and Muspellsheim didn’t exist but Eden did, then we can let him expound creationism in public schools.

    1. 3.1
      richardelguru

      And Snorri’s myth has the advantage of being a pretty-good description of the actual creation of islands off Iceland!

  4. 4
    Naked Bunny with a Whip

    Simply test each theory objectively in science classes using the scientific method.

    I’m trying to imagine the screaming from creationists if this ever actually happened.

    1. 4.1
      Len

      What they’re trying to get at here is that evolutionists (if I must use that term) can’t demonstrate in a lab that, say, a dog becomes a cat over short / easily measurable time. So we can’t “demonstrate” evolution (according to what a creationist thinks evoluiton and “the scientific method” are).

      Of course, if they understood what they were talking about they wouldn’t suggest this – but they’ve been fed a false view of evolution and the scientific method. Maybe that’s what we should be concentrating on.

  5. 5
    Tony Hoffman

    You’re a genius. Don’t ever stop writing down your thoughts.

  6. 6
    kraut

    “If evolution is true, there’s a simple way for public schools to destroy any student’s belief in creation. Simply test each theory objectively in science classes using the scientific method.”

    Don’t limit yourself, after all Christianity ain’t the only religion/cult/sect in the world and the US.
    There is not one story of creation, there are:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_creation_myths

    So, lets wield Occam’s razor, and estimate the via Bayesian analysis the chances of any of those creation myth being the true one vs. the chances of the only scientific one (albeit with some disagreement as to the finer points) being the correct interpretation of the data….

    One gets even without a proper analysis a whiff of who will be the winner.

  7. 7
    Matt G

    Creationism in schools – affirmative action for bad ideas.

  8. 8
    Valhalla

    Creationists will scream foul and whimper that their ‘faith’ is being dissed if it is exposed to the scientific method.

    The whole point is not to compare and contrast it is to evangelise to the vulnerable and the young.

    Religious claims cannot stand up next to science, they never have…a reason why the ones demanding that science should be taught next to religion as an equal is because they know it cannot stand on its own hind legs.
    Diving behind sciences skirts to give some appearance of gravitas is the best they can hope for.

    Separation of state and religion is fine for balance within society, but to totally suffocate this barmy nonsense of creationism it just has to be ignored like the bone and bead shakers that hang around the fringes of rational society begging for scraps in exchange for visions, predictions, and woe woe thrice woe messages from the underworld…entertainment at best, completely barking at worst.

    They gain kudos in front of their intended audience by pretending that science is running scared, the rational explanation of why Creationism is not included in a curriculum is never mentioned.

    Treat them like the weirdos and wackos they are…as any crackpot cult is treated…laugh at them even ridicule them and the spell will be broken.

    But treat them like the underprivileged poor relation to philosophy as they are being treated, as if they have a point and they will never give up because they think they are winning.

  9. 9
    birger johansson

    Let creationists defend their alternative to evolution in toto.

    American Scientist (or was it Scientific American) had an article that suggested creationists should be called upon to defend the “alternative”young-Earth creationist hypothesis (with lunar craters being caused by the war between Lucifer’s army and the Heavenly Host).

  10. 10
    David Young

    from what I keep seeing on this subject the most important point seems to get missed.

    Why is it that we ALLOW these mental midgets to have a say in ANYTHING that has to do with LIFE ?

    If you actually look at HOW they come up with their questions and arguments, it IS quite apparent that they CAN’T think RATIONALLY !

    every point is just EMOTIONAL, and VERY disturbed emotions at that.

    Why is it that everyone misses the FACT that these people are retarded ?

    And not just that, they are also emotionally disturbed, which is the first step to insanity !

    Why is it that PEOPLE in these conditions ARE allowed to teach CHILDREN anything, let alone there being allowed in the presence of children WITHOUT supervision ?

    The REAL Question is why have we allowed our society to give freedoms and protection to the mentally ill that allow to screw up every day life for those NOT mentally ill ?

    Is this a ‘Misery loves company” attitude, or is it simply the attitude of “Why should normals have a better life” ?

    It really is time for society to accept the failure of treating the mentally ill as EQUALS, and that all it has accomplished is that we NO longer treat mental illness as a problem and the purpose of that is to save money that would be spent on institutionalizing these individuals, and that is the ONLY purpose it serves !

    Mental illness is NOT something that gets better if you treat it like it doesn’t exist, it only gets worse, as can be seen by the current event in our society form loons shooting up places and killing people, to a crew of mental incompetents that were voted into political office in 2010 called the tea party that used prejudice and fear and IGNORANCE to inflame their constituents that are as mentally ill as these so called politicians !

    Religious psychosis is JUST Psychosis, and it needs to be treated as such so our society doesn’t come to an end to placate the mentally ill of our society !

  11. 11
    Konradius

    I may live on another continent, but I do know that neither the nonsense in that rag, nor the piece you have written here have anything to do with the fear and problems in american schools.
    The fear american teachers rightfully have is that the word evolution is a trigger word that causes rapid onset religious outrage in students and parents. The fear that parents and students have is a rigorously indoctrinated lie that makes them think any knowledge of evolution will give them a one way ticket to hell.
    And then there’s the fear of students and parents to not get taught actual science by their creationist teachers, who relatively fearless can teach nonsense until they are caught in nationwide attention*. Anything less and their support structure will shield them from any real disadvantages.
    Sure, a story that makes it past these fears is one won by NCSE, possibly nipped in the bud by letters written by them.
    But I very much doubt this raises actual fear in creationist teachers. They may fear being fired once the letters from the lawyers at NSCE come in, but before that they need to know of the possibility of this happening.
    If anything, (christian) people reading this piece will become aware that teaching creationism is actually against the law and that they might be sued because of that. But I have yet to hear of a story where a student tells of a teacher that wants to teach creationism but teaches evolution out of fear.

    *Luckily nationwide attention is handled very well by NCSE

  12. 12
    Kira

    Schools are no more afraid of creationism than they are of alchemy or astrology.

    1. 12.1
      John Morales

      But schools (in the USA) don’t face well-funded lobby groups and officials devoted to trying to get them to teach alchemy or astrology, do they?

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