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Oct 09 2013

Spewing Creationist Nonsense Like It’s 1999

With the filing of a lawsuit to prevent the teaching of evolution in Kansas, I feel like we’re flashing back to 1999, when the first creationism battles in that state took place. It even involves the same people, like John Calvert, a Kansas attorney who is absolutely obsessed with stopping the teaching of science in public schools. He went on the Janet Mefferd radio show and gave this tired old argument:

The religious rights that are being promoted here are the religious rights of parents to direct the religious education of their children and a state interferes with that when it seeks to promote an atheistic worldview. The second right is the child’s right, the child has a right not to be indoctrinated by the state to accept a particular religious viewpoint, that right is being taken by the framework. The last right is the taxpayer has a right, you know I pay taxes to Kansas, real estate taxes, a good part of my real estate taxes go to fund Kansas public education and I don’t want the taxes used to promote a nontheistic worldview.

Funny, that’s the same thing geocentrists say. And if teaching anything that might conflict with one’s religious views is unconstitutional, as Calvert claims, then we can’t teach that the earth revolves around the sun either. Or that the earth is a sphere, as there are lots of religious people who believe the earth is flat. We can’t teach basic geology either, since that contradicts with creationist beliefs that the flood is responsible for most of the geologic column. Hell, we can’t even teach that micro-organisms cause disease because that conflicts with the Christian Science church. We can’t teach that blood transfusions are a useful medical technique, since that conflicts with the Jehovah’s Witnesses. In fact, there’s almost nothing that we can teach at all that doesn’t conflict with someone’s religious beliefs.

Actually, forget 1999; we may be flashing back to 1968. That was the year that the Supreme Court already ruled on Calvert’s position, ruling unanimously that a state could not prohibit the teaching of evolution in Epperson v Arkansas. The court was quite clear:

The overriding fact is that Arkansas’ law selects from the body of knowledge a particular segment which it proscribes for the sole reason that it is deemed to conflict with a particular religious doctrine; that is, with a particular interpretation of the Book of Genesis by a particular religious group…

[T]he state has no legitimate interest in protecting any or all religions from views distasteful to them.

And to do so would prevent the teaching of all science in public schools. Which is, of course, Calvert’s real goal.

16 comments

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  1. 1
    eric

    Sigh. Lemon. A secular purpose. Primary secular effect. Look it up, fundies.

  2. 2
    Modusoperandi

    1. Government Schools are all failing and they’re terrible at teaching our kids.
    2. Government Schools are so effective at teaching Darwinisme that they’re undermined our ability to teach our kids what ain’t so.
    1 & 2 are both True simultaneously.

  3. 3
    raven

    religious education of their children and a state interferes with that when it seeks to promote an atheistic worldview.

    1. Calvert is equating science with atheism. This is just wrong. They hve nothing to do with each other.

    2. You can see that he considers children as objects to be brainwashed by his oogedy boogedy toxic version of xianity. This might be legal but it isn’t something I’d do to even a cat or dog. Sometimes it works and they grow up to be internet trolls and sometimes the best and brightest manage to escape.

  4. 4
    raven

    The second right is the child’s right, the child has a right not to be indoctrinated by the state to accept a particular religious viewpoint, …

    1. Science and knowledge do not equal a religious viewpoint or atheism.

    2. There is a common and simple remedy for parents who want to brainwash their kids and keep them ignorant of reality. Xian private schools and/or homeschooling. These are proficient in making sure your kids don’t learn anything. Calvert knows this.

    3. He complains about having to pay taxes for public schools. We could complain just as much that we pay taxes that end up supporting uneducated, unempoyable fundie adults and teenage fundie girls who end up pregnant and go on to a life of lifelong poverty.

    Fundies set their kids up to fail. Then they fail.

    This lawsuit is so cuckoo that it should just be thrown out as frivolous..

  5. 5
    lclane2

    If we’re looking at this in terms of “worldviews” we’re looking at the scientific worldview vs the prescientific worldview. Those who want to promote the prescientific worldview should send their children to private schools.

  6. 6
    Sastra

    raven #3 wrote:

    1. Calvert is equating science with atheism. This is just wrong. They hve nothing to do with each other.

    Well, yes and no. If you follow science all the way down and don’t exempt supernatural claims from its scrutiny, then atheism is similar to evolution: science isn’t “equal” to evolution either. They’re both working theories, conclusions grounded in science’s objective processes.

    The best defense to Calvert’s claim that evolution is a “religious viewpoint” is that a lot of religious people are perfectly capable of compartmentalizing their religious beliefs from their beliefs in other facts. That’s actually the entire point of using “faith.” It signals “this is an area which is off limits to general critical inquiry.” If you can mentally work out a faith-building scenario based on evolution — or your group/tribe/religious leaders can come up with one — then evolution — while not a specifically religious viewpoint itself — becomes part of your religious viewpoint. It’s fun! It’s easy!

    It’s your only option.

    The problem with this demarcation issue is that atheism is philosophically derived from reality checks. Reality checks include science. Calvert is undermining his own religion by making the mistake of thinking not only that it’s true, but that it’s perfectly reasonable and meets rigorous standards of analysis.

    C’mon. Why do you think everyone makes such a big song and dance about religion being all about faith. That’s your clue that what follows is gonna be weak. Compartmentalize like they all do.

  7. 7
    Chiroptera

    The second right is the child’s right, the child has a right not to be indoctrinated by the state to accept a particular religious viewpoint, that right is being taken by the framework.

    Children do, however, have the right to have basic facts presented to them as well as the obvious logical inferences based on those facts, and therefore the state has a duty to present those facts and logical inferences to the children.

    Now, the child does have the right to believe or not believe those facts, and the child has the right to modify or abandon his or her religious tenets base on his or her conclusions. If the parents don’t like the conclusions the child reaches, well, that’s not the fault of the state.

  8. 8
    Sastra

    Creationists are fools enough to eschew all the fuzzy faith options and allow their religion to make testable claims. Fools — but there’s a kind of honesty and sincerity there I admire. They don’t follow through on it, of course, playing by their own rules as soon as the debate gets going. But at least they start out by claiming something clear enough to be right or wrong … and then they put it out there in public.

    Yesssss. Do that. In the long run that’s going to bite you back, hard.

  9. 9
    dogmeat

    My religion says that “42 is the answer to life, the universe, and everything.” Therefore, teaching that any answer other than 42 is correct is an assault on my religious liberties. Teaching of a non-42-ist spelling is wrong, teaching that the American Revolution didn’t begin in 42 is wrong, teaching that 2*8 is equal to anything but 42 is wrong. How long did World War Two last? 42. What is the atomic weight of Boron? 42. How much wood can a wood chuck, chuck, if a wood chuck could chuck wood? 42.

    Anything else is blasphemy!!!!

  10. 10
    Modusoperandi

    Dr X “Yes. And I think that at least part of what’s driving the political side of this is that cursive is a signifier for the way things were in the idealized past. So I’d expect the demise of cursive to be more troubling to conservatives.”
    Lies! Only liberals used cursive writing. Even way back in the 1950s, the Founding Fathers printed, poorly, in jiffy marker on signs. Then the King of Britain struck back with the Shot Heard ‘Round the World, when he dumped the Tea Partiers into Boston harbor.

    Also, Conservatives are only against getting rid of cursive because they’re against everything. Especially if it’s for reasons!

  11. 11
    Modusoperandi

    Wups. Ignore that.

  12. 12
    jnorris

    The second right is the child’s right, the child has a right not to be indoctrinated by the state to accept a particular religious viewpoint …

    No, the public school teachers don’t give a rapture’s ass if Mr Calvert’s good little Christian children believe evolution or not. The educators want those children to understand evolution and be able to explain it and pass the end-of-grade tests in May. There are no penalties for not believing. There are penalties for not understanding.

    So Mr Calvert, you can have your religious beliefs and an understanding of how science works and the basic theories of science at the same time and your gods will not smit you.

  13. 13
    zero6ix

    It must be incredibly difficult to reinforce all that home grown indoctrination if all it takes to completely eradicate it is an hour every other day in a science class. I mean, that two, almost three, whole hours spent talking about reality, working against the nigh constant barrage of ghost stories and just-so tales. I guess it’s true then: it’s the little things that get you.

  14. 14
    colnago80

    The bible says that pi = 3. I demand that equal time in math courses be given to that notion.

  15. 15
    petrefax

    I love debating flat-earthers. Go to the weird part of YouTube and comment. Granted, most of those people are probably schizophrenic, and it’s probably uncool to play with them. But it’s kind of fascinating.

  16. 16
    exdrone

    I was worried that his legal complaint would focus on the fact that we strap students into restraints for evolution classes and prop their eyelids open with matchsticks, but he just seems to be worried about content, so that’s a relief.

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