Posted tagged ‘Mortimer Adler’

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.