That Dave Silverman fella is soooo intolerant »« Uh, bacon?

Comments

  1. congenital cynic says

    It’s possible to turn this argument back on the fundies. When they spout stuff from the bible that they say is the word of god, just ask “were you there?” If they weren’t how do they know it was not just the ramblings of some dottering old fool?

  2. robro says

    Yes, way to go, but I fear that in far too many schools in this country the brave Biology teacher would be called into the principal’s office and reprimanded for challenging the child’s beliefs.

  3. says

    congenital cynic

    Ah but the good folks at answers in a book of bronze-age mythology have already thought of that. According to them…

    If someone replies by asking the same question back, we say, “No we weren’t there, but we know Someone who was there, …”

    It really is quite sickening.

  4. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    If someone replies by asking the same question back, we say, “No we weren’t there, but we know Someone who was there, …”

    Oh, and is that someone still around to answer some basic questions? Or, if they aren’t who wrote it down at the time it happened????

  5. says

    Nerd

    Apparently this person went to ground, or rather the reverse, some two thousand years ago. Rumours of his impending return remain just that: rumours.

  6. otrame says

    I had a similar experience while presenting at the outreach at our archaeology lab. We frequently had public school, private schools and homeschooled kids in groups. Once, in a public school class that was visiting, I mentioned entirely incidentally about something that evolved, a girl (approximately 10) glared at me and spouted “Evolution! I don’t believe in evolution.”

    Teachers and students froze. Teacher started to speak, but I said, “That is fine. You don’t have to believe in evolution. This is a free country. However, archaeology is a science (okay, it can be argued it’s not, but can we at least say it uses science and get on?) and so we deal with science here. I’m going to talk about what science tells us about the people who lived in the past. I have good reasons for saying the things I say, but if you chose to disbelieve me, I can not stop you. I wouldn’t want to stop you.”

    And that brings up my favorite single encounter in all the years I did that outreach. After I talked about the people who lived in San Antonio in the past, one little girl, about the same age as the one above, from an “at risk*” program, said, “How do you know all that? You weren’t there. You’re not that old.”

    Do you see the difference? She wasn’t parroting what her parents/pastor/conman had taught her. She was just having trouble understanding how anyone could know what I claimed to know.

    She stood there, defiant, looking me in the eye. Her teacher tried to silence her and apologize to me at the same time, so I had time to go to her and crouch down to her level and said, “That is a GREAT question. How do I know that stuff? You should always ask that question. We don’t have time for me to explain all the different ways we figure these things out right now. But you can read about archaeology at the library and the books will explain it in more detail. I’m not just making this stuff up. But you have every right to ask that question, and I hope you keep asking that question.”

    Later the teacher tried again to apologize. I told her the girl had absolutely delighted me and no apology was needed. I remember her with fondness. She’s probably in college now, if she managed to get past all the barriers that surrounded her. I hope she did.

    *My experience of “at risk” kids was that they were smarter as well as less submissive, that the average kid in the poorer schools.

  7. raven says

    If someone replies by asking the same question back, we say, “No we weren’t there, but we know Someone who was there, …”

    Oh really?

    Who. What is his name? Where is he now?

    In point of fact, they don’t know jesus, Paul, Mark, John, Matthew, or Luke at all. They have some of their alleged sayings and writings. It’s no different from saying you know Frodo, Bilbo, and Gandolph or Harry Potter.

  8. says

    It’s no different from saying you know Frodo, Bilbo, and Gandolph or Harry Potter.

    Nah. They’re way better documented.

  9. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Apparently this person went to ground, or rather the reverse, some two thousand years ago. Rumours of his impending return remain just that: rumours.

    About what I figured. The original “being” did not leave a document. It was written down latter by some people “who weren’t there”. Making it hearsay at best, fiction most likely.

  10. dexitroboper says

    My answer to “Were you there?” would be: “I don’t need to have been there.” Just like we can work out the world is made of atoms even though they are too small too see and we can work out the Earth has an iron core without having gone there scientists can work out the history of life without having seen it directly.

  11. Acolyte of Sagan says

    …but we know someone who was there

    Unless I’m very much mistaken (a situation not altogether rare), even if Christ was for real, he wouldn’t have been witness to ‘Creation’ unless Christ is God, but that’s a Catholic thing and Catholics pretty much accept evolution ‘cos JPII told them to (though they insist God nipped in at some stage with a delivery of soul, ‘cos he told them that too). So if non-Catholic Fundie Christians, the ones who believe Christ was son of, rather than another incarnation of the big G, are saying they know someone who was there at creation, they have to be talking about the father, not the son.

  12. quarky2 says

    Of course you can turn the tables: “Were you there when Jesus raised himself from the dead?”

  13. consciousness razor says

    Unless I’m very much mistaken (a situation not altogether rare), even if Christ was for real, he wouldn’t have been witness to ‘Creation’ unless Christ is God, but that’s a Catholic thing and Catholics

    That’s not “a Catholic thing.” It’s a trinitarian thing. All kinds of Christians believe Jesus is God.

    Okay, not exactly all kinds believe it in exactly that sense: nontrinitarians have a (still incoherent) slightly different view (a bunch of different ones I’ll take no time trying to sort through now). Here’s a short list from wikipedia:

    Modern nontrinitarian Christian groups or denominations include Christadelphians, Christian Scientists, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Dawn Bible Students, Friends General Conference, Iglesia ni Cristo, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Living Church of God, Oneness Pentecostals, Members Church of God International, Unitarian Universalist Christians and the United Church of God.

    Those are not mostly “mainstream” protestants (or Orthodox or others for that matter). A lot of oddballs right there.

    Would they really say “Jesus was there” instead of “God was there”? I don’t know. I bet most would use the word “god,” if you hadn’t prepped them with this garbage. And it doesn’t have to make sense. It’s just what it is, and not making sense is probably a big reason why you never hear them talk about it.

  14. consciousness razor says

    I used the word “mainstream” there and was really thinking “mainline.” But then I thought … wikipedia has all of the answers:

    The term “mainstream Christian” in academic usage is not equivalent to “mainline Protestant” and is often used as an attempt to find non-loaded sociological vocabulary in distinguishing “orthodoxy” and “heresy.”[19] Hence in christological and doctrinal reference “mainstream Christianity” is often equivalent to “Trinitarianism.” In Britain and Australia the term “mainline Protestant” is not used, and “mainstream” does not mean “liberal” Protestant.

    So I guess (depending on your location?) I was accidentally right the first time. But it just goes to show that having tens of thousands of sects, and schisms left and right about every damned thing, is confusing as fuck.

  15. cactuswren says

    If someone replies by asking the same question back, we say, “No we weren’t there, but we know Someone who was there, …”

    “Good — glad to hear it. In fact, I’d be pleased to welcome him to the class tomorrow as a guest lecturer. Have him sign in at the office in the morning.”

  16. marcoli says

    I have not quite run into the situation described here in my biology classes, but I have come close on a couple occasions. My experiences are fortunately too few for me to get used to them, but that is in a way unfortunate as well b/c I am not yet able to deal with these situations is with calmness and a steady heart rate. I can always hear a pin drop when someone basically announces that they are a creationist, and one who is so far off the bend that they basically think the earth was made after dogs were domesticated. I am now supposed to convince them otherwise with a quick sound bite. Well, all I can say is I do my best to soberly answer their question, give them something to think about, and then ask them to see me later if they really want to talk. That rarely happens.

  17. simon says

    i am definitely filing this for later use. i’m an English guy, but i still run into tough questions from students here in the Bible Belt, plus i have a habit of defending our Biology teachers in absentia when the students bring up evolution in class. This is going into my repertoire…

  18. says

    A very cruel way to handle such situations:

    Do you know who your parents are? Were you there?

    Children should never be disabused in such a way, though. Their parents, on the other hand…….

  19. raven says

    Of course you can turn the tables: “Were you there when Jesus raised himself from the dead?”

    You might want to be careful about ridculing kid’s religious beliefs. Even if they bring the subject up and are ridiculing you and your subject matter.

    IIRC, some teachers have gotten in trouble for it. Fundies are vicious.Never, ever turn your back on them.

    Supreme Court Okays Teachers’ Right to Ridicule Student’s …
    godfatherpolitics. com/ …/supreme-court-okays-teachers-right-to-ridicule-…‎

    Mar 3, 2012 – He accused the teacher of promoting hostility to Christians in the classroom … ridicule and harass the religious beliefs of any student and they can do so in …

    According to this source, it might be legal. I certainly wouldn’t try it in a fundie area. They don’t much care about legalities. And just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should do something.

    I’ll try to find more later.

  20. ironflange says

    Poor kid, probably thought he was going to be a hero, just like what happened in that Chick tract.

  21. raven says

    Student Wins Suit After Teacher Says Creationism ‘Superstitious …
    www. foxnews. com/…/student-wins-suit-after-teacher-says-creationism-su…‎

    May 4, 2009 – Student Wins Suit After Teacher Says Creationism ‘Superstitious … history teacher violated the First Amendment when he called creationism …

    Told you to be careful.

    This case contradicts the one I just posted but is older. I don’t see why calling creationism supersitious nonsense is wrong. That is exactly what it is.

    Evidently one court didn’t agree.

    There must be some rules and guidelines somewhere but I haven’t found them yet. They must start with fundies are vicious though but you probably shouldn’t say that in your classroom either.

  22. raven says

    The Supreme Court has agreed with the 9th Judicial Court (Reagan …
    www .city-data.com › … › Politics and Other Controversies‎

    Mar 3, 2012 – Nope, secularists can say anything they want to to Christian kids. … allows teachers to verbally abuse, ridicule and harass the religious beliefs of any student … placed on students expressing their religious views in the classroom. …. You do know that the ACLU even argues against the public school system …

    OK, apparently the original case was overruled by the 9th circuit court and the US Supreme court.

    Do know the law and rules though before getting into religion in a classroom. Even if one of the kids starts it. They are kids and don’t have much on the line. A teacher has a lot more, including their job.

  23. raven says

    More. Know the law. Know the rules. Watch your back!!! Fundies are not nice people.

    OCRegister:
    Published: Feb. 21, 2012 Updated: Aug. 21, 2013 1:17 p.m.

    Supreme Court won’t hear appeal of student’s anti-Christian lawsuit

    High school teacher James Corbett has been exonerated and his four-year case is officially closed.
    Supreme Court won’t hear appeal of student’s anti-Christian lawsuit

    •Analysis: Court evades central question in anti-Christian lawsuit
    •Court: Teacher can’t be sued over anti-Christian remarks
    •Teacher says he may lose appeal in anti-Christian case
    •Student a ‘whiny little boy,’ teacher in anti-Christian case says
    •9th Circuit probes anti-Christian ruling against teacher
    •UCI law dean to represent teacher sued by student
    By SCOTT MARTINDALE / THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

    The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal Tuesday from a former high school student who sued his history teacher, saying he disparaged Christianity in class in violation of the student’s First Amendment rights.

    The high court denied Chad Farnan’s written demand for a review of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision last year that exonerated Capistrano Valley High School teacher James Corbett.

    High school history teacher James Corbett, pictured speaking at a 2010 meeting of the high IQ society Mensa, rocketed into the national spotlight when a federal judge found he violated a student’s First Amendment rights by disparaging Christianity in class. An appeals court subsequently tossed out the lower court’s ruling, and the appellate court ruling became final after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case.

    “It was not at all surprising that the Supreme Court denied review,” said Corbett’s attorney, Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of UC Irvine’s law school and a constitutional scholar. “The 9th Circuit decision was sound … and made it clear he could not be held liable.”

    The Supreme Court’s decision not to hear the Mission Viejo case – in legal terms, denial of Farnan’s petition for a writ of certiorari – puts a final lid on a legal battle that spanned more than four years and raised fundamental questions about the limits of what a public school teacher can say about religion in the classroom.

    Farnan’s attorneys, Jennifer Monk and Robert Tyler of the Murrieta-based Christian legal group Advocates for Faith & Freedom, did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

    NATIONAL HEADLINES

    The Corbett case received a high-profile boost into the national spotlight in 2009, when a federal judge in Santa Ana ruled that Corbett violated his student’s First Amendment rights by referring to creationism as “religious, superstitious nonsense” during a fall 2007 classroom lecture.

    A three-judge 9th Circuit panel in Pasadena reversed the lower court’s decision in August 2011, ruling that Corbett could not have known he might be breaking the law.

    “I think Dr. Corbett’s victory is a really important victory for teachers,” Chemerinksy said Tuesday. “Had Dr. Corbett been held liable, it could have opened the door for other teachers to be held liable. The 9th Circuit said there is no clear law that he violated. That means for any teacher, there is no clearly established law that says he can’t do this.” continues

  24. No One says

    I had a student go through a melt-down after I asked the class to consider the statement “Petroleum is a finite resource”. He ended up storming out of the classroom in a rage. Mind you I didn’t ask for an agreement, but a discussion.

  25. mnb0 says

    I would take the “Where you there” question to the extreme.
    “Where you there when Jesus taught his disciples?”
    “No, but we have eyewitnesses.”
    “Where you there when those eyewitnesses wrote down their stories?”
    Etc.
    Then quickly becomes clear how important it is to ask the right questions, like @10. The right question here is of course “how do you know”?
    As a result there will be a reasonable chance that said pupil will start thinking for his/her own instead of storm out of class. If possible a teacher should avoid a fight for power like this.
    Note: I have been teaching Surinamese kids from 12-16 years myself for 20 years or so, albeit math and physics. My pupils generally are religious but I don’t hide my atheism.

  26. Koshka says

    otrame #10,
    I prefer your approach. I want my children to have teachers with this approach. I can also see it being helpful for the other children not directly involved.

  27. anchor says

    @cactuswren #19:

    If someone replies by asking the same question back, we say, “No we weren’t there, but we know Someone who was there, …”

    “Good — glad to hear it. In fact, I’d be pleased to welcome him to the class tomorrow as a guest lecturer. Have him sign in at the office in the morning.”

    That strikes at the irony at the core. Out of a pretense to a devotion to truth they require direct personal eyewitness testimony on a past event, yet that Certain Someone isn’t even here in the present to corroborate that he exists.

    Its a real knee-slapper how creationists pretend to place such a premium on evidence – as a challenge posed in the form of an impertinent question* – then bomb so spectacularly on being called out on providing a smidgen of it for their own claims.

    When an astronomer obtains a spectrograph through a telescope trained on M 87, the dominant member of the Virgo cluster of galaxies, they are looking directly at evidence that those galaxies emitted the light some 54 million years ago, delivering that information to the astronomer in the present, which indicates that the cluster is centered about 54 million light-years away as the photon flies.

    It may be a long-range observation, but the astronomer very definitely is ‘there’. She’s looking right at it.

    Similarly, when I hold a fossil of a fish I obtained years ago from the Green River formation of Fossil Butte in my hand, I am looking directly at evidence that has survived all that time in the rock (dated by various methods) since that fish was alive during the Eocene (Diplomystus), not very far removed from the time those photons leaped off the stars within M87.

    It may be a long-range observation, but I am, in effect, ‘there’. The evidence – the fish and the rock material that forms the fossil – was most definitely there, and I am looking right at it.

    That’s the neat thing about science. It can identify lines of evidence that link us to distant events in space or time. With science we can see far indeed.

    By comparison, religion is worse than myopia. Its tantamount to near total blindness.

    *Whenever I come across that idiotic challenge I immediately flash on hearing Richard Burton’s voice call out, “WERE YOU OUT THERE???”. It cracks me up every time.

  28. Acolyte of Sagan says

    18.
    consciousness razor
    30 September 2013 at 8:15 pm (UTC -5) Link to this comment

    I used the word “mainstream” there and was really thinking “mainline.”

    And there was I thinking ‘mainlining’ was common vernacular for taking drugs (usually class A) intravenously, thereby filling the system with shite that makes the user suffer strange, ethereal experiences, talk utter garbage, show signs of diminished intelligence and loss of personal resposi…….oh, just like religion.

  29. Acolyte of Sagan says

    Koshka
    1 October 2013 at 4:29 am (UTC -5) Link to this comment

    otrame #10,
    I prefer your approach. I want my children to have teachers with this approach. I can also see it being helpful for the other children not directly involved.

    Seconded. In fact, this is pretty much what I taught my own kids, and am now telling my grandchildren, namely “If you’re told (or read, etc) something that you don’t understand, or doesn’t seem to make sense, or disagrees with what you think is right, never be afraid to ask for clarification, irrespective of who”s doing the telling”.

  30. voidhawk says

    My response us usually ‘yes I was.in the sense that every single particle if my body was around then. I also breathed in the ash at Pompeii, saw the flash of the first atom bomb and felt the birth pangs of a million mothers. If you’re happy with the simplistic just-so story taught to you, that’s your choice, I’m more interested in finding out what these particles have’experienced’

  31. says

    I’m afraid I have to identify with the kid in this example. I never did what my teachers ordered me to do, so I can’t side with the teacher exerting his authority over this kid (althought the rational part of it, pushing the kid’s faux skepticism to its limit, was good).

  32. woggler says

    Matthew – asking questions should of course be encouraged. However, let the questions be sensible and intelligent. “Were you there?” is meaningless because nobody can provide a meaningful answer. It’s not even intended to provoke a meaningful response.. And the teacher had every right to assert his authority in this case.

  33. Ichthyic says

    I’m afraid I have to identify with the kid in this example. I never did what my teachers ordered me to do,

    you know, in a classroom where a teacher is nearly desperate to cover all the material in the short time allotted, sometimes being a contrarian for its own sake is rather selfish. Not just to the teacher, but to all your fellow students as well.

    nobody gives a shit about your personal opinions in a classroom. you, and everyone else, are there to LEARN.

    this is especially so in primary and secondary education, where you as a student are still just scratching the surface of current human knowledge.

    there’s a REASON teachers tell kids to sit down and shut up in class.

    anti authoritarianism is fine, but not for its own sake.

    Kid was wrong, and so are you.

  34. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I never did what my teachers ordered me to do, so I can’t side with the teacher exerting his authority over this kid (althought the rational part of it, pushing the kid’s faux skepticism to its limit, was good).

    You disrupt class for twenty or thirty other people to feed your own ego? Get over yourself.

  35. drxym says

    I would think a reasonable riposte to “were you there?” is “no but we’ve found plenty of animals that were” and the go into a discourse about fossil bones and footprints.

  36. woodsong says

    I don’t work with kids, and haven’t been asked this question, but I have thought about how I would handle it if one of the Fundies in my family ever asked me.

    “If you came home and found a hole in the front window, and broken glass and a baseball on the floor inside, do you really have to have been there to know what happened?”

    Hopefully that would get a kid to think!

  37. Tony! The Immorally Inferior Queer Shoop! says

    Ibis3 @38:
    I am not certain there was ample time to open the kids eyes. There was a class to teach.
    I do wonder if the teacher is hoping that over the course of the schoolyear, the kid will open his eyes.

  38. Acolyte of Sagan says

    Ibis3, according to the teacher, the kid should already have covered that. And far from writing the kid off, the teacher offered to explain it on a one-to-one after class to avoid disrupting the whole class to explain what the silly little sod should already have read.
    From linked article (highlights mine)

    [......]Biology Teacher: “Well, Mr. [Name], [..........] Biology, and all sciences, are based on observation and deduction.” *he holds up a copy of the textbook* “What you read here is what we have observed and what we can deduce based on the evidence. And if you actually had read it, maybe you would know that. You are in your junior year of high school, and you should not have to have this explained to you. I do not have the time to stand here and explain this to you. So if you have any further objections I suggest you come and see me after class ends.”