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I am a former middle and high school science teacher pursuing a doctorate in Science Ed. at George Mason University, with a concentration in cognitive science and the evolution of cognition and learning. Postings on this blog represent my own views, not those of my employer or school. All writing displayed on this page is original work unless otherwise noted, and thus copyrighted.

16 March 2009

Shooting Fish in a Barrel

Just a note, this is a repost from my myspace blog, so it isn't the most current thing on Earth. feel free to sharpen your teeth on their arguments (or my responses, if you wish).

Evolution indoctrination at OU
by The Tulsa Beacon

Reposted from: http://www.tulsabeacon.com/?p=1358

What is the difference between education and indoctrination?
Education involves allowing people to see evidence and indoctrination involves beating them about the head with an idea that most likely lacks that evidence. Which have you received?

The line between conveying information with an open mind and a mindset that parallels religion is being crossed this year at The University of Oklahoma with a 12-month celebration of the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin. While devoting huge resources to a campaign to “prove” that evolution is not a theory, the scientific brain trust at OU will virtually ignore parallel theories of the origin of man - including Creation Science and Intelligent Design.

Let the fallacies begin. 1) “Evolution” is definitely a theory: an explanation of natural events that fits all the evidence and holds predictive power. It is not a theory in the pop culture sense of the word, wherein a theory is someone’s unsupported crackpot idea.
2) Creationism and ID aren’t parallel theories of anything, they are bald assertions that everything was caused by a supernatural entity. They lack explanatory power and, more importantly, evidence. The writings of misogynistic, Bronze Age goat herders aren’t sufficient evidence of anything, and that lies at the root of ID.

OU will trot out Oxford professor Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, to try to convince students and the public that there is no God and science has all the answers.

Good for OU! Dawkins is a wonderful speaker, who also happens to be one of the world’s premier experts on evolutionary biology. The fact that he’s an atheist has no bearing on the topic other than the fact that you’re completely biased against atheists. Science doesn’t have or claim to have all the answers, but it is a better way to get the answers than consulting a book written before people had discovered medicine.

Darwin became infamous 150 years ago when he wrote The Origin of Species. He speculated that all life evolved from lower forms and that men were derived from the apes. His unproven theories were all that the humanist movement needed to attack the Bible and any belief system that hints at the existence of a supreme being.

The word you’re looking for is famous, not infamous, other than that your historical statement isn’t too bad. Theories are by their very nature unproven, just tested a great deal. Parts of Natural Selection have been shown to be complete bunk, and discarded, yet the whole works better than anything else we have. The reasonable assertion that your Supreme Being has as much corroborating evidence for his existence as an invisible pink unicorn, and that the Bible is clearly full of self-contradictory piffle, made plenty of case for humanists to attack them in the first place. Ever heard of Thomas Jefferson or Thomas Paine? How about Voltaire? I rest my case.

OU has a website devoted to this worship of Darwin and evolution. It’s clear from the content of that website that organizers believe that evolution is a fact and that if other theories are mentioned; they will be discounted or ridiculed.

Projecting much? No one is worshipping Darwin, or evolution. You worship... we happen to be celebrating the anniversary of a man’s birth. You know, kind of like Christmas without all the praying? No, I can see that's not going to be a good analogy for you.

Do things change? Certainly, But species don’t evolve into other species. Dogs don’t turn into cats. Monkeys don’t turn into men.

Species do evolve into other species, there’s an entire fossil record of that happening. On the other hand, Dogs don’t turn into cats, and monkeys don’t turn into men, you’re right. Unfortunately you’re also caricaturing the entire process. Perhaps you’re not intelligent enough to grasp that, but I suspect you’re just being intellectually dishonest. Lying for Jesus, indeed.

In fact, even secular scientists are doubting [sic] the viability of evolution concerning the origin of life. The laws of thermodynamics and common sense tell us that things don’t get better - they deteriorate.

Really, Which ones? The members of the Discovery Institute not only aren’t secular, but most of them aren’t scientists. The laws of common sense tell us all kinds of things that also happen no to be true, so those are right out. The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics states that in a closed system things run from more organized states into less organized states with a subsequent loss of energy. Not only are organisms not closed systems, but neither is the Earth. The incoming solar energy over the period of a year balances the entropic differences in all of biological evolution, ever. (Mathematical and Computer ModellingVolume 19, Issues 6-8, March-April 1994, Pages 25-48 , for starters).

The biggest case against Darwin’s evolution is the fossil record. There are no viable transition fossils when there should be millions if you buy into his theory.

What do you consider to be a viable transition fossil? A half monkey-half frog isn’t going to exist, but I can trace the ancestry of modern whales back to something that looks like a hoofed wolf. This is one of a great number of examples.

Where is the missing link? There isn’t one in the fossil record.

To what missing link are you referring? I’d suggest you actually read the research then. Your ignorance does not constitute a lack of evidence. We have an entire line of hominid evolution that can be examined if you choose to take the time. This entire line of reasoning is about as honest as Behe claiming that there was no work on the evolution of the immune system when in fact he simply hadn’t bothered to read any of what there was.

Evolution science is not really science but a religion. That is why it cannot stand honest scrutiny or tolerate other views. It takes more faith to believe that men came from monkeys or a primal soup struck by lightning than it does to believe that God created the Earth and mankind in seven days.

Oh great point, except that it’s wrong in every aspect. Proponents of evolutionary theory (read: any credible scientist) will examine the evidence available to see if it fits the current models and theories. If it doesn’t, the models and theories are chucked out. You on the other hand, acting purely on faith, would throw the evidence out instead. Besides, you really think that being made out of mud by an invisible man in the sky is plausible? Again, you’re projecting, either because it makes the position easier to attack or because you simply can’t fathom that someone doesn’t think in the same manner as you do.

Both are religious beliefs. Oklahoma students should be exposed to both theories (including Intelligent Design). Instead, the public school system in Oklahoma has bowed to the pressure of secular humanists and insisted that there is only one theory to explain the origin of man - evolution.

OK has bowed to the pressure of reality and decided to teach science, rather than teach religious twaddle. Bravo for them. Religious beliefs should be kept out of the science classroom, period. Therefore if you can establish that evolution is a religion rather than science, it should be removed from class, not supplemented with more religion. Incidentally, does including Creationism in the classroom have to be limited to Christian creation? If you allow it, then we should also teach Muslim creation, Hindu creation, the story of Odin making the world out of his dead father, and the rest.

Incidentally, the origin of life cannot be proven by the scientific method, which requires observation and testing. No one was around when life began and no scientist - no matter how many degrees he or she has - has been able to recreate life in the laboratory.

Firstly, evolutionary theory and abiogenesis are two different things. Secondly, no, scientists aren’t able to produce viable life in a laboratory, but they can make self-replicating proteins, proto-cells, and nucleic acids among other things. Awfully close. However, I suspect that if scientists are ever able to create life in a lab, you’ll gleefully exclaim that it’s because life requires and intelligent creator to come into existence.

Here’s the worst aspect of this story. State tax dollars are going to support the celebration of a mad scientist who infected the world with a new religion that teaches that God cannot exist.

This is such dishonest nonsense that it doesn’t even merit a response. See above for refutations of everything you’ve said here, excepting the attack on Darwin’s character, which is completely irrelevant.

OU has stacked the deck for humanism and against other religions. Creationism and Intelligent Design should get equal time in this huge “celebration” of Charles Darwin.

No, they shouldn’t, the reason being that Charles Darwin didn’t invent either of them. If you’d like to celebrate Creationism, have a Moses day, since (if he was real) he wrote the Pentateuch from whence comes your creation story; Perhaps a William Paley day, in order to celebrate the ever so silly Blind Watchmaker fallacy.

There is a God and that belief is held by the vast majority of Oklahoma taxpayers. Withholding that truth from our students does them a disservice and damages our society.

Now you’ve made a strong assertion which you cannot back. Prove the existence of said God, without the use of your holy book. The vast majority of people believe all sorts of things, that doesn’t make any of them necessarily true. Science, and information in general, is not a democratic process. Your students are exposed to what you consider the truth every Sunday, of their own free will. There is simply no need to insert it into a science classroom, or the celebration of the life of a man who had nothing to do with it.

When we tell our college students that they are nothing more than animals, why do we act surprised when they act like animals?

Ah, the slippery slope argument. You tell them that they are more than animals, and they still act like animals, because they are. I’m assuming you aren’t referring to any of the favorable behaviors of animals that we frequently observe, so it might be better termed that they act like barbarians. Humans are by far the worst behaved of the species on Earth. Since you are most likely referring to drinking, partying, and sexual debauchery, you should consider the alternative. Teens and students who are raised in fundamentalist Christian households, where your “truth” is presumably taught, are far more likely to become pregnant outside marriage or contract STD’s than those raised in secular homes and exposed to a comprehensive sex education programme. What’s more, is that many of the teens who take virginity pledges are more promiscuous orally and anally, usually unprotected, than the teens that do not. This also lends to the spread of STD’s. (Saddlebacking, anyone?) So much for animals, eh?
That, and your premise fails because people are capable of reason and don’t have to behave in any given way simply because they’ve been told something. Just because you’re a brain-washed sheep doesn’t mean everyone is.

The Tulsa Beacon does not appear to have an email address for letters to the editor, but surely they would love to hear your opinion. You can contact them at:
Phone: (918) 523-4425
Fax: (918) 523-4408
The Tulsa Beacon
PO BOX 35099
Tulsa, OK 74153

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