Posted tagged ‘anti-science’

Chocolate Chip Cookies, Ham, and Nye

February 15, 2014

Chocolate Chip Cookies

What do chocolate chip cookies have to do with the recent Ken Ham vs. Bill Nye debate? Well, you’ll see shortly! First though, one conversation the debate stirred up among believers and unbelievers alike relates to differences between what Mr. Ham referred to as observational science and historical science. This is an important distinction, which I think becomes clearer if we refer to the two as scientific research and natural history research. Dr. Mortimer Adler described natural history research in the 1960’s. His ideas have been developed further by Dr. John K. Reed and others, and their efforts help us better understand the limitations of scientific research. More importantly, they help us see the real battle is not “science vs. religion” as some falsely claim, but Christianity vs. naturalism. Naturalism is basically the idea that nature is all there is, and there is no God who created everything.

Papers like this one describing natural history research are helpful, but complex. While thinking about an easier way to explain the differences, I realized cooking might serve as a useful explanatory tool. In what follows, I will use chocolate chip cookie recipes as an analogy to help discern between scientific research, natural history research, and futurology claims.

Scientific research: Like a good chocolate chip cookie recipe, scientific research involves developing a testable, repeatable method that others can follow AND produce similar results. A good recipe produces good cookies for everyone who follows the directions.

Example: The cadmium reduction method is a common procedure used to measure the concentration of NO3 (nitrate) in water. Nitrate is an important nutrient, but can be a pollutant when concentrations are high. If I collected a water sample from a river for nitrate analysis, I should be able to send it to any laboratory in the nation and receive similar results.

Natural History Research: This is like the scientific method in reverse. You have the cookie (the result), but you don’t have the recipe (the method). So, you decide to try and use the cookie to figure out what the recipe is. At present, a Google search for “chocolate chip cookie recipe” yields 49,600 results! Which recipe is the one used to make the batch of cookies shown above? How will you know? Well, you probably won’t know for sure, but through chemical analysis run on your cookie, plus other research including reading historical documents like cook books, you can eliminate a lot of the possible recipes.

Example: Historical documents and eyewitness accounts show Novarupta volcano’s lava dome formed in 1912, about 100 years ago. I had a sample age-dated using the Argon-Argon method, and it showed the lava dome was up to 5.5 million years old! Both methods (historical records, Ar-Ar dating) have the same material evidence, but the massive time differences result because extremely different procedures were used to interpret the data. It is also obvious that, for this example anyways, one interpretive framework, or “recipe” (historical records), is clearly better than the other. They’re not equally valid.

Futurology claims: This is like having an untested chocolate chip cookie recipe. You think it will make good cookies, but you’re not sure yet, especially since your recipe is quite a bit different from some other recipes. Some are more skeptical of your recipe than others.

Example: Confusion over what future climate will look like. Will it be warmer, cooler, or the same? The data show warming in the 80’s and early 90’s, but no warming for 17 years and 5 months now. Nevertheless, media and many scientists continue to paint a grim futuristic story involving catastrophic global warming resulting from carbon dioxide emissions linked to human activity.

The debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye was an origins debate. It was not a “Science vs. Bible” debate as some may claim. It was about how the way we view things influences our perception of reality. It was a battle between Christianity and naturalism. So, the next time you hear someone describe Christian and conservative people as “anti-science,” understand that it has nothing to do with scientific things. Christians, as Mr. Ham mentioned during the debate, are not anti-chemistry, anti-physics, anti-technology, etc! That’s irrational, but then so is unbelief, so Christians shouldn’t be surprised when unbelievers say irrational things. God has to change their heart and mind. Only then will they see more clearly.

The “anti-science” mantra is a straw man argument by dogmatic, and often bigoted individuals who want their naturalistic story of the past, present and future told, to the exclusion of other stories. Especially the story found in Scripture. Pray that God will turn the hearts of unbelievers to Him, and that they would trust His story of Creation, Fall, Redemption through Christ alone, and Restoration, which is the greatest story of all! Pray also for Christians who are confused by naturalism, and erroneously seek to find a “middle ground” between Christianity and naturalism in places where it doesn’t exist.

179 Logical Fallacies and the Ham vs. Nye debate

February 2, 2014

A Twitter Battle

And all I did was Tweet “#Design of a biochemical circuit” in response to a paper on design in yeast cells. Okay, so I also included two anti-creationism hysteria groups, TFN and NCSE, in the Tweet, but, even for followers of irrational groups like these, I was a bit surprised at the sheer number of logical fallacies that followed for the next month and a half.

My original Tweet was back in October, 2013. The first to respond was one of the paper’s co-authors, Volkan Sevim, who Tweeted “This is not the kind of #Design you have in mind.” So, right at the start, the “Twitter battle” began with the ambiguity logical fallacy.  Something expected of politicians, not scientists, Volkan pretended that design in a biochemical circuit could mean something other than “to devise for a specific function or end.”

After Volkan’s tweet, atheists and secular humanists picked up on the thread. People with Twitter handles like “Debunking Stupidity,” “Logical Lass,” “God Free World,” etc., started to engage. And not with weapons of logic, but with a maelstrom of logical fallacies. The following is a ranking of the types of logical fallacies used. And 179 is a conservative estimate of the actual number of logical errors released from ASH’s quiver (ASH = Atheist Secular Humanist):

  1. Ambiguity (67). Equating science with history, rather than clearly distinguishing scientific research from natural history research.
  2. Strawman (59). Primarily “Creationists are against science,” and/or “science deniers.”
  3. Ad hominem (25). Cursing, but also threats of murder, including mass murder of Christians.
  4. Genetic (12). Even though someone has a PhD in science, their research “doesn’t count” if they are a biblical creationist.
  5. Appeal to authority (6). Several appeals to “scientific consensus,” even though that’s not how science is done.
  6. Circular reasoning (2).
  7. Law of non-contradiction (2).
  8. Bandwagon (1).
  9. Black or white (1).
  10. Tu quoque (1).
  11. Moving the goalposts (1). One commenter said that if the earth is young, why haven’t we found dinosaur DNA? When I showed him we have, he conveniently “moved the goalposts.”
  12. Loaded question (1).
  13. False cause (1).

I really shouldn’t have been surprised by atheists and humanists attempting to “prove” themselves using foolish statements, because that is exactly what Scripture says will happen in Psalm 14:1, Romans 1:18-26, I Corinthians 2:14, and many other places.

The Ham vs. Nye Origins Debate

So what does this have to do with the upcoming origins debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye?  Well, my recent “Twitter battle” provides a glimpse into how Bill Nye, a secular humanist, will debate. Many media outlets have reported on the debate already, and Mr. Nye has portrayed himself as the debate’s “reasonable man.” But rather than using reason, Mr. Nye will attempt to “prove” his version of history with a gusher of logical fallacies. He will try to claim that Christians are against science, confusing scientific research with natural history research. He will fail (or be willfully ignorant of) to see the obvious fact that everyone has access to the same scientific data, so this can’t possibly be a debate about science vs. anti-science. It is a debate about origins, which means it is a debate about how to interpret history. Nye thinks he is battling against anti-science zealots. What I hope Mr. Ham makes crystal clear for viewers though, is the fact that Mr. Nye is debating a straw man, not Mr. Ham.

Pray that God will use this debate to turn the hearts of unbelievers like Bill Nye to Jesus Christ. It is easier to argue using logical fallacies when hiding behind a Twitter handle, YouTube video, etc., but much more difficult to do in a live debate.  Pray also for Christians who are confused by naturalism, or who attempt to unwisely mingle Christianity with naturalism, committing the “middle ground” fallacy.

Eugenie Scott, Villain of Science Education?

September 26, 2013
Rather than promote good science in Texas textbooks, the so-called Texas Freedom Network throws dinosaur costume parties instead. While they party on, an entire generation of Texas students will be left in the dark regarding 21st Century Science.

Rather than promote good science in Texas textbooks, the so-called Texas Freedom Network throws dinosaur costume parties instead. While they party on, an entire generation of Texas students will be left in the dark regarding 21st Century Science.

The Anti-Science League of America

Pretending to be the new superheroes of science, the National Center for Science misEducation (NCSE) and their “Science League of America” are really the superheros of anti-science, and Eugenie Scott is their leader. Working together with the so-called Texas Freedom Network, they disguise themselves in dinosaur costumes while doing virtually nothing to promote science or its language, mathematics. In an amazing display of anti-science heroism, Dr. Scott recently blogged that the scientific concept called epigenetics “isn’t a topic for beginning biology learners.” But that’s not true!

Epigenetics is easy for children to learn!

A 5 year-old can understand that a ship needs a captain, and that is a great way to understand the interplay between genetics (the ship) and epigenetics (the captain). The genome is your DNA, which each cell has an identical copy of. The epigenome is the set of biological information that directs the DNA, causing it to turn on and off at different times and locations. Even Volume VII of Jonathan Park, a creation adventure audio series for children, talks about epigenetics! Only villains of science education would make the ridiculous claims Dr. Scott makes.

Right now, Texas is deciding on content for new biology textbooks. This content will influence the next generation of students not just in Texas, but all over America. During public testimony last week (Sep. 17), I encouraged the board to make sure the subject of epigenetics is properly presented in the new textbooks.  Unfortunately, the science education villains were out in force. NCSE’s Josh Rosenau was in attendance, and echoed the same false claims of Eugenie Scott, that epigenetics was “too hard.”

Epigenetics most certainly is part of the TEKS

Another false claim of Eugenie Scott’s is that epigenetics is not part of Texas standards for biology, called TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills). Actually, any place genetics is discussed, epigenetics really needs discussion as well. Not only that, several TEKS specifically mention “gene expression”. What does Dr. Scott think causes genes to be expressed? Well, it’s the information in the epigenome!

Epigenetics is the reason why humans can start as one fertilized egg cell that develops into over 200 different cell types! And all these cell types have identical DNA, yet radically different epigenomes. It is the reason why recent speculations that most of our DNA is “junk” were so entirely wrong, as the ENCODE project has revealed. Epigenetics is also another mechanism of inheritance, and is the reason why the health of parents can effect their offspring, even if no genetic mutations occur.  It can also cause big heritable differences in physical traits, with no change to the DNA. As I outlined in my testimony, TEKS 4-7, and specifically 6D, 7F and 7G, are all basically saying epigenetics is mandatory content for a 21st Century high school biology textbook.

In superhero stories, the villains always lose

These days, it is actually quite easy to spot science education villains, because, like Eugenie Scott, they make their anti-science agenda so obvious. As dogmatic Darwinists, they, like Darwin, insist on a simple cell filled with one-dimensional (linear) DNA that randomly mutates to somehow generate new information. But 21st Century science reveals that the cell is anything but simple, and DNA actually works in 3-dimensions (4 if you include time), not one!

Unlike Charles Darwin, the science villains express no doubts about their version of history, dogmatically asserting Darwinism, even at the expense of giving an entire generation of students an intellectual handicap.

Is there any good news in this? Of course! For creationists like myself, real science and “creation science” are the same thing. By God’s grace, and in spite of the science villains, we will teach students about 21st Century Science, including epigenetics. And if you’ve seen any recent superhero movies, like The Avengers, Man of Steel, or Iron Man 3, you know the evolutionists are always portrayed as the villains. And what always happens to the villains? Eventually, they lose. But since we know they will lose, it’s all the more reason to apply some salt now and expose their foolish thinking, while at the same time being prepared to extend grace and mercy (Colossians 4:5-6).

Texas Law Bans the Mention of Evolution in Textbooks

September 18, 2013

It’s a typo, and a funny one at that! But wait, some are saying this might not be such a bad idea : “Imagine. What if all theories about changes in life forms over time advanced in textbooks had to go by content-based names like genetic drift, horizontal gene transfer, symbiosis, and natural selection? The explanations would have to make way more sense, thus be open to evidence-based objections in given cases.”

Now, I don’t know of anyone who disagrees descendents differ somewhat from their ancestors. Change happens, and if you want to call that “evolution”, fine (I prefer “adaptation”, or “change”) but why not be more specific, as the article linked above describes?

Why not just focus on the various mechanisms of inheritance, without reference to evolution? Think about it. The “banning evolution” story by WFAA news in Dallas was published last night, and broadcast over the evening news, and nobody caught the typo! They have since discovered the blunder, and the text was edited and video taken down this morning. But how does a major news station in a major United States city miss something so obvious?

Graduating ideologues, not scholars

The problem is that people are confused, really confused, about the whole creation/evolution battle. And this confusion is evidence of a complete breakdown in not just higher education, but all education. As this fantastic Wall Street Journal article states, at today’s academic institutions, “Whatever your stance regarding the “culture wars” and the politics of higher education, it is undeniable that a great many graduating students have little idea of what genuine intellectual exploration involves. Too often, learning to think is replaced by ideological scorekeeping, and the use of adjectives replaces the use of arguments.”  

Yesterday (Sep. 17, 2013), the Texas State Board of Education heard public testimony regarding new textbooks up for adoption. Review panels are selected by board members to supposedly check for factual errors and ensure that the books are meeting state standards. Because one or two reviewers suggested teaching “creation science”, the anti-creationists went ballistic. Armed with plenty of adjectives, the ideologically driven Texas Freedom Network staged a protest. Similar to the dinosaur history protest in front of a recent Texas homeschool convention, they even brought some of the same adjective-filled signs!

For several hours, the board heard from over 50 testifiers, the majority of which parroted the same thing: keep creationism out of textbooks. From concerned parents to Univ. of Texas professors to the ACLU, over and over the board heard ideological comments laced with adjectives. If you wanted proof of the claims made in the WSJ article mentioned earlier, this was the place to be. It was a sea of anti-intellectualism, complete with people running around in dinosaur costumes!

Standing up for Science

But a few of us did show up to encourage intellectual exploration and encourage the board to approve textbooks that give students the best 21st Century Science education they could get. In my public testimony, which you can download here, I encouraged board members to reject textbooks unless they revised them to include the subject of epigenetics. I gave them all a copy of the Mysterious Epigenome, signed by the author. I also gave them a course map for the next biology standards revision. My course map included 4 big ideas, and was based off a course map for the University of Texas’ introductory biology course. I added an idea on “mechanisms of inheritance”, that does not mention evolution, but instead focuses on testable, repeatable science surrounding the various mechanisms for inheriting biological information. 

In a 21st Century biology course, you might as well not even teach it if you aren’t going to include a discussion of epigenetics. But what is epigenetics? Well, just think of your DNA (which each cell has an identical copy of) as the “ship”. A ship stays in port unless it has a captain to direct it. The “captain” is the epigenome, a set of information that switches the DNA on and off at different times and locations. Think about this, how did you go from a single cell to a human body with over 200 different cell types, all with the same DNA? The answer? Epigenetics! Or how did scientists recently produce hundreds of different varieties of plants in just a few years, all with the same DNA? Epigenetics!

Biologists with an ideological torch to wave are “nervous” about epigenetics, because it causes changes without a change in DNA, the “sacred cow” of evolutionism. Real scientists however, find it absurd to be “nervous” about epigenetics, and are pushing us farther and farther into this amazing field. In my own courses, my students are learning about epigenetics, as well as other 21st Century biology topics. My products are primarily for home-educated students, but private and public schools are certainly welcome to use them. But what will happen to public school students who are given a textbook filled with 19th and 20th Century biology concepts, many of which are just untested speculation? How far behind will these students be when they get to college and career?

Sitting Down for Science

The answer? Compared to my students and those in other countries that focus on science instead of ideology, American public school students will be way behind. And one of the main reasons they will be behind is anti-creationist ideologues who oppose anything a creationist mentions, even if it has to do with getting 21st Century Science into textbooks. Prior to TFN’s dinosaur costume party, I met up with Ron Wetherington, an anti-creationist activist and anthropology professor at SMU. Being a natural history researcher, I did not expect him to know much about epigenetics, but I asked him what he thought about getting it into textbooks. He didn’t think it was a good idea. When I tried to keep the discussion going, he was not able to give a reasonable answer and politely excused himself from the conversation.

Next, University of Texas molecular biologist Dr. Arturo De Lozanne spoke during the protest, proclaiming students deserve the best science education based on the latest research. Afterwards, I spoke with him about getting the latest research, which would include epigenetics, into textbooks. I told him I was a creationist, which immediately stoked the anti-intellectual fires in this otherwise intelligent man. Amazingly, Dr. Lozanne was not in favor of teaching something as fundamental as epigenetics to high school students! But minutes before he said he was for teaching the latest research. This irrational response could only be because, to agree with me would mean that he agreed with a creationist, which would be politically incorrect and an ideological blunder.

Dr. Lozanne was holding a sign that said “Kids deserve a future”, so I asked him if he thought ALL kids deserve a future, include unborn children. He said that wasn’t relevant to the discussion. To an ideologue, it’s irrelevant, but to a moral, scientifically minded person, it is 100% relevant. You see, science has confirmed life begins at conception, so if you are against protecting a human, just because they are developing inside rather than outside their mother, then you are anti-science. I was able to show Dr. Lozanne that his lack of desire to care for all kids was anti-science, at which point he was not able to give me a reasonable answer and made up a reason to excuse himself from the discussion.

I also talked to anti-creationist Zack Kopplin, who, like Dr. Lozanne, is a nice person. Zack is a history major from Rice University, which does seem appropriate considering the creation/evolution battle is primarily about interpreting history. Anyways, I tried to get his thoughts on teaching the fundamentals of epigenetics. I told him I was teaching it to my students, and that our company has higher standards for math and science than any state in the nation. Even so, he was not in favor of including epigenetics in the Texas textbooks. He was also unable to give me a reasonable answer and made up a reason to excuse himself.

Next up was Aron Ra, the self-proclaimed “YouTube Atheist”. Unfortunately, Aron is so intolerant of those who disagree with him that he would not even shake my hand. I tried to ask him  multiple times what he thought about including epigenetics in Texas biology texts, but he kept diverting the discussion to natural history, claiming that he could prove, without a time machine, common descent. When I kept pressing him to talk about scientific things instead of historic things, he was not able to give me a reasonable answer and conveniently excused himself.

During public testimony, I was able to talk to a couple of ideologues, including Josh Rosenau of the so-called National Center for Science Education. Josh was “tweeting” about every person who came up to testify, and I “tweeted” back appropriate responses on several occasions. Before he went up to testify, I spoke with him, joked about our “Twitter battle”, and then asked him what he thought about my testimony and including epigenetics. A friendly young man, Josh’s response was just more of the same, claiming that epigenetics was “too hard” for high school students to learn. This is an incredibly lame excuse, because, as I mentioned earlier, you can refer to the epigenome as the “captain” and the genome (DNA) as the “ship”. A 5-year old could understand that! Josh knows I’m a creationist, and I encouraged him that he doesn’t have to oppose everything creationists say.

Last up was Kathy Miller, President of the Texas Freedom Network. I also encouraged her to think harder about all of this. Kathy is not a scientist, and stated that on matters of science, she consults with her experts, nodding at Josh Rosenau of NCSE (who is actually not a scientist or a science teacher). I told her that I am a scientist, and a science teacher, and I could probably help her if she wanted a different opinion. To her credit, she did accept my gift of a copy of Mysterious Epigenome, and I encouraged her to let her children read it. I also told her she didn’t have to agree with everything in the book, but I assured her there would be many things she would agree with.

So what did I learn from these exchanges? Well, there are a lot of nice people out there who reject science and reason to support their ideology. And that is a huge part of the problem, if not THE problem with the whole creation/evolution battle in America. Some people, mostly liberals, have become so blinded by their “ideaological scorekeeping”, that they think it is impossible to agree with “them” about ANYTHING. Instead of a desire to engage in “genuine intellectual exploration”, we have otherwise intelligent people engaged in rampant anti-intellectualism, denying the very science they claim to be standing up for.

Solving the problem of rampant anti-intellectualism

What can we do to release the irrational and anti-intellectual stranglehold on America? First, pray, because it is God who changes hearts, and it is God who is Author of all knowledge and reason. Second, engage others. Be salt and light. Expose their foolishness while showing genuine care for them and for others. MAKE THEM THINK. For unbelievers, it is important to realize that by rejecting God, they reject reason (Psalm 14:1), so you can’t expect to have a rational conversation with them. Don’t let that frustrate you, and don’t push too hard to “prove God” or “win” the argument. God doesn’t need us to prove that He exists, everybody knows it already (Romans 1:20). And third? Well, if you have children, homeschool them!

Will Texas textbooks include fundamental topics that give students a 21st Century Science education, or will homeschoolers continue leading the way in American science and math education? Time will tell. Final textbook approval is in November.

wfaa mistake, bans evolution

Free thinkers to protest the freedom to think?

July 13, 2013

Really? People who tout themselves as “freethoughts” activists are going to protest free thinking? Where? When? Why? How? What should I do?

Where: Outside the Texas Homeschool Coalition’s annual homeschool convention in The Woodlands.

When: August 2 & 3, 2013. The protesters (atheists) are planning an orientation meeting Thursday, Aug. 1 from 8-9 p.m at the Bayland Community Center.

Why: The freethoughts activists are protesting the freedom of Americans to trust God’s word as true in every aspect, including historically true. For some reason, they are particularly concerned about dinosaurs. They are upset with how Christians like myself interpret dinosaur history!And historical interpretation is what they are protesting, not testable, repeatable science.

The fossil record shows many things lived at the same time as extinct dinosaurs, including extant (meaning still alive) starfish and coelacanths. Apparently, the so-called freethoughts activists say we’re lying about the human-dino coexistence thing because we have yet to uncover a fossil of a human riding a dinosaur while holding a coelacanth that ate a starfish. Unless this fossil grouping is found, then atheists will claim the Bible is a book of lies and Christians who believe it are liars. Therefore, since freethoughts activists apparently never lie, and possess a perfect understanding of history, we can trust them over God’s word! And if we don’t buy into their belief that freethoughts activists are the source of historical truth instead of God, they will make laws to suppress our skepticism. Of course, I’m joking here, but are the atheists? Unfortunately, I don’t think so.

How: So how did all this come about? Well, it started when some Houston-area atheists realized that Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis would be a keynote speaker at the THSC Convention. Because Mr. Ham trusts the authority of Scripture, he trusts the Bible’s account of history over other versions that attempt to insert evolution and millions of years to the story. Mr. Ham blogged about the atheists intolerance to Christianity, as well as their unprofessional debate challenge.

What should I do?: First, pray! Then, do! Pray that if the protest actually happens at all, that it will be peaceful. Pray that all Christians (including you!) will make an effort to show the love of Christ to the atheist protestors, and engage them in thoughtful discussion. And bring your friends who may be considering homeschooling, too!

Pray for opportunities to kindly show atheists the folly in their reasoning about so many things. Using reason, the law of non-contradiction (a law of logic created for us by God) states that you cannot be “A” and “not-A” at the same time. You cannot promote yourself as a “freethoughts activist” or a “skeptic” while at the same time protesting someone else’s right to think freely and be skeptical about the way you think yourself. You can’t be “pro-freethoughts” AND “anti-freethoughts”, “for skepticism” AND “against skepticism”, “pro-science” AND “anti-science”. Only an unreasonable fool would think they could.

Pray for opportunities to show atheists that their protest is not about scientific things, but about historic things. Christians are not anti-science. In fact, click here and watch how to start a Christian homeschool science co-op. Or click here to learn more about my company and our goal to encourage homeschoolers to finish calculus in high school, and add a few science and math CLEP and AP exams to the transcript along the way. Our goal is to raise the standard in math and science education, not lower it to government school levels or worse.

Pray for ways to show the atheists that they cannot be pro-science and anti-science at the same time. Science confirms human life begins at conception. Therefore, in order to protect all human life, we need to protect all babies in the womb, from the moment of conception onward. Anything less is murder. To defend the right to murder a baby in the womb is anti-science and just plain wrong.

Also, in the 21st century, high school and college biology textbooks are becoming bloated monsters. Something has to go to make room for teaching 21st Century advances in biology, including epigenetics and bioinformatics. Many chapters have way too many pages devoted to speculative historical claims about origins, dogmatically asserting only one interpretation (evolutionism). A pro-science person would want to reduce or remove the history to make room for 21st Century science. An anti-science person would reject the 21st Century science in favor of page after page about origins. Ask the atheist which they would choose to include in an already oversized biology textbook, new science or history? If they would rather keep the history, then they are anti-science, which contradicts their claims of being pro-science.

A great analogy I read recently said “To use science to promote atheism is like using a man’s child to prove he does not exist.” Only a fool would say Christians are anti-science. One of God’s first commands to Christians in Genesis 1:26-28 was to think scientifically. Do we have different interpretations of history than atheists? For the most part, yes. But even Christians don’t all have identical interpretations of history, and neither do non-Christians for that matter. Natural history research is not the same thing as scientific research, and not discerning these two is what generates most of the anti-creationism hysteria.  Francis Bacon, the founder of the scientific method and a young-earth creationist, warned us to be careful about muddling the two. The way we each interpret history is something to discuss, not protest. 

Finally, pray for repentence! God changes hearts, and He can change the heart of the most hardened anti-Christian activist. Remember what He did with Paul, a man who was wise in his own eyes until God opened his eyes and allowed him to see the true Source of everything, including reason. Simple logic reveals you cannot claim to be a freethinker, while at the same time protest the rights of thousands of Christian parents to freely consider the best educational options for each of their children. Pray that God will use the THSC convention to remove the blinders from many.

Texas Freedom Network promotes creationism hysteria and bigotry

May 9, 2011

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The Texas Freedom Network (TFN) is a curious group. On the one hand, they print articles claiming that some groups and individuals are promoting anti-Muslim “Sharia hysteria“. TFN considers such people “bigots”, people who are utterly intolerant of beliefs and opinions that are different from theirs. On the other hand, TFN is a big promoter of “creationism hysteria”, and they are quite intolerant, or bigoted, towards creationists, who might also happen to be Muslims! TFN frequently paints creationists as “anti-science“. In a recent press release, TFN, along with the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), “warned” Texans about some creationist materials that could possibly be used in Texas’ public schools. Here is a quote from the press release:

Science in Texas public schools would take a shocking leap backward if the State Board of Education approves newly proposed instructional materials that promote creationism and reject established, mainstream science on evolution, spokespeople for the Texas Freedom Network (TFN) and the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) said today. In addition, public schools using those creationism-based materials could face expensive legal challenges even as they struggle with massive budget cuts at state and local levels.

“Two years ago State Board of Education members thumbed their noses at the science community and approved new curriculum standards that opened the door to creationism and junk science,” said TFN President Kathy Miller. “Now they are getting exactly what they wanted — the chance to make Texas the poster child for the creationist movement. The state board would be aiding and abetting wholesale academic fraud and dumbing down the education of millions of Texas kids if it doesn’t reject these materials.”

If you are on TFN’s bandwagon of promoting “creationist hysteria”, I want you to please STOP for a minute and THINK about this. The concerns TFN and NCSE have are about this proposed curriculum’s treatment of origins. And origins research is not real science, but is speculation about natural history. The American philosopher Mortimer Adler made this distinction a long time ago, but some choose to ignore it. The only thing that will “dumb down” science education in Texas is if groups like TFN and NCSE continue to overemphasize questions about origins while neglecting the importance of teaching real science and math. The NCSE exists for the sole purpose of defending the teaching of evolutionism, not science. Their purpose is not to defend the teaching of science, or its language, mathematics. And by the way, Texas is one of many states that suffers from a longstanding shortage of math and science teachers. According to University of Texas researchers:

“The number of non-certified teachers covering math and science can rise to as much as 50 percent for some classes of students,” said Dr. Michael P. Marder, a physics professor who co-directs the UTeach initiative in Natural Sciences. “And in computer sciences, nearly 75 percent of the teachers are not appropriately certified.”  

A biblical, Christian worldview does not promote the dumbing down of science, it promotes the advancement of it. There is no conflict between a person’s faith in God’s word and their ability to understand the 1st Law of Thermodynamics, supercritical fluids, proteomes, etc. A proper reading and application of Scripture actually promotes science. Groups like NCSE and TFN promote bigotry and creationist hysteria when they say people with creationist beliefs are “anti-science,” and that a curriculum that dares to make the connection that things that look like they were designed might indeed have a Designer could “dumb down” Texas science education. The idea of intelligent causes is taught in the curriculum created by International Databases, LLC. As this International Business Times article describes, the curriculum uses a “null hypothesis” that intelligence was behind the origin of life. In other words, the null hypothesis is that things that look designed were in fact, designed. The alternative hypothesis is that things that look designed were in fact, not designed! Now honestly, how reasonable is that? Well, it is not reasonable at all, and the null-hypothesis is about as close as you can get to a self-evident truth.

Something else to consider about the supplementary curriculum proposed by International Databases is that when they talk about “intelligence,” they are not necessarily talking about the God of the Bible, but as author Stephen Sample says in the International Business Times article, the intelligence could be aliens. And some biology textbooks have already included chapters about aliens.

Later on in the press release, TFN and NCSE state:

Mainstream scientists have repeatedly shown that those arguments [about intelligent design] lack scientific merit. Moreover, in 2005 a federal judge in Pennsylvania ruled in Kitzmiller v. Dover that teaching intelligent design in public schools unconstitutionally promotes creationism.

Actually, what mainstream scientists have shown us is that there are limits to genetic change. An honest evolutionist will tell you that evolution theory cannot predict future results, which makes it the most un-scientific theory currently in existence. I cannot think of any other theories that claim to be scientific but have zero ability to predict future trends.

Regarding the TFN press release statement on Kitzmiller v. Dover, this is correct. The trial concluded that teaching creationism is unconstitutional. The trial did not show that evolution was scientific and creation/intelligent design was not. The PBS program NOVA made a documentary of the trial titled Judgement Day: Intelligent Design on Trial. Although the documentary was biased towards evolutionism, they did a fairly good job of showing both sides, acting out the trial using direct quotes from individuals involved. Watch the documentary, and at about 1:17 to 1:22, you can see how the scientific case for evolution did not win out over intelligent design, so the plaintiffs switched to the “religious argument”.

So, the Dover v. Kitzmiller case declares creationism is unconstitutional, and a violation of the First Amendment, where the American government is to “make no law respecting the establishment of religion.” But what is creationism? Ultimately, it is an idea used to explain origins. But wait, that’s what evolution is as well! Evolution is an idea used by some to explain how God brought about life. People who believe this are called theistic evolutionists. Others who simply “believe” evolution explains life’s origins are also being religious, because there is no way to prove evolution, so to believe it and promote it at the exclusion of other ideas about origins is a faith-based, but bigoted, way to think.

So, while TFN and NCSE promote creationism hysteria and warn about impending lawsuits, what might well happen is that they will be on the losing end of any legal battles they initiate. Dover v. Kitzmiller could be overturned. Proclaiming that people who believe God created are “anti-science” is unreasonable. Saying evolutionary explanations about origins are “scientific” is also unreasonable, because answering questions about origins is outside the limits of science. The Texas Freedom Network and NCSE are not about the advancement of science and math education, but they are about promoting creationism hysteria. Whether you are a creationist or not, please think carefully about the fact that what these two groups promote will actually damage science education instead of advance it. When groups like TFN and NCSE tell someone they are being “anti-science” because they believe that a thing that looks designed might in fact, have a designer, they are discouraging students from diving deeper into math and science. I wonder what would happen to Texas’ math and science teacher shortage if groups like TFN and NCSE actually encouraged people who believe in a Designer instead of discouraging them by labeling them “anti-science”? Since polls consistently reveal that most people believe in an Intelligent Designer, I would say TFN’s and NCSE’s current mantra discourages a lot of rational people from pursuing math and science careers.

Evolutionists Target Texas Creationists

February 23, 2011

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A recent article by the Texas Freedom Network (TFN) expressed concern that creationists are targeting Texas science classes. The concern is over the review teams being appointed for the upcoming Texas High School Supplemental Science Materials Review, currently scheduled for June, 2011. The article included me as one of several “anti-science activists”, and even quotes some of my blog entries:

excerpt from a recent article by the Texas Freedom Network

While I appreciate the free advertising, I personally don’t think anyone who signed up to be on the science review team should be labeled “anti-science.” And if the article’s author is going to claim that a man with a PhD in Chemical Engineering from Princeton(Dr. Ide Trotter) is “anti-science”, I’m going to have a hard time believing anything else he or his organization has to say. I hope you will, too.

What I do believe though is all of us are at least a little confused about what is and isn’t science. Science is about studying things we can observe and verify. Natural history, which includes the theory of evolution, is not real science. Mortimer Adler, the famous American philosopher, described natural history as a “mixed question”, relying on inputs from other fields like history and philosophy. I would agree.

If you read some of the comments beneath the Texas Freedom Network article, there is a rather sour response by Charles, who claims that the first teacher who tries to teach “the tenets of dominion theology” in a public school is going to “end up wishing they had never been founded or born.” Wow, really?! Charles is planning on torturing Texas public school teachers, and the Texas Freedom Network supports this? Well??? As of 5/20/2011 TFN has not removed Charles’ oppressive comments. Doing something to a public school teacher that would make them wish they had never been born is about the most anti-freedom action a person or group could take against another human. Remember what I said earlier about not believing what they say? I hope that is also true for the public school teacher-torture-talk of Texas Freedom Network and its supporters.

If for some reason you agree with Charles and his oppressive views, would you please take just a minute and explore with me the “tenets of dominion theology“? We’ll start with Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626), considered by most scholars as the founder of the modern scientific method. He was also a staunch supporter of the tenets of dominion theology. So what are the tenets of dominion theology? Well, the number one tenet is Christian charity. And what is Christian charity? It is service to fellow man. Love, in other words.

To summarize, “dominion theology” is about understanding God’s creation so well that we can use it to make life better for everyone and everything. Apparently, Charles is opposed to this, and he’s ready to torture any teacher who, in essence, tries to teach applied science. But why would anyone be against THAT? Why would anyone be against love? Well, let’s give Charles the benefit of the doubt and assume he is really not anti-science or anti-love, but instead is just a bit grumpy, and ignorant about what dominion theology is. Instead of picking on Charles the teacher-torturer, let’s look at someone else who we know was opposed to Christian charity. The man I am thinking about is Thomas Malthus, who in 1798 published a book called An Essay on the Principles of Population. Instead of finding innovative and creative ways to help others, Malthus thought we should send poor people to live in disease infested swamps, where they would have a better chance of getting sick and dying.  Malthus also had some ideas about population growth that were not based on any real scientific data. In other words, he made up his data. And guess who took Malthus’ ideas and made them a cornerstone of their theory? None other than Charles Darwin, who on p. 4-5 of Origin of Species said that his idea was based on “the doctrine of Malthus, applied to the whole animal and vegetable kingdom.”

Was the idea of evolution based on ideas that oppose improving life on Earth via scientific discovery? It sure looks that way.

So, are most people anti-science? No.

Is there an inseparable bond between science and Christianity? Yes, which means efforts made to separate the two are ultimately anti-science.

Is everyone, myself included, to some degree or another confused about the limits of science? Yes. And this June, hopefully all reviewers, regardless of what their faith-based beliefs about origins are, will be able to work together with humility and wisdom to give Texas public school students the best science education possible.