Posted tagged ‘natural history’

A Profound Theological Statement

December 30, 2013

In his new book, Rocks Aren’t Clocks, PhD geologist John K. Reed writes:

“Today’s geology assumes the truth of secular naturalism as a matter of course. That emphasizes the need to examine the philosophical and theological issues. For example, people ask if the Bible is a reliable historical source. That’s not a question of science, but it is a question that has profound implications for geology. If we answer in the negative, we have made a profound theological statement; if we answer in the affirmative, then prehistory is precluded and the atheistic geological history that most of us learned in school is false.”

So here is one man who says that we are making a profound theological statement when we ask if the Bible is a reliable historical source.  But then other Christians answer the question in a more agnostic, “I don’t know” fashion.  And still other Christians agree with the atheists, thinking that answering in the affirmative is “embarrassing.”  But, do the agnostic or “embarrassed” believers, as well as the unbelievers realize what a profound theological statement they are making? And do they realize, as Dr. Reed points out, that the earth age question is not primarily a question of science, but of history?

Should any Christian be agnostic or embarrassed about whether the Bible is a reliable historical source? Well, no. Think about the detailed genealogical records in Scripture. Those are in the Bible to remind us of God’s unbroken covenant of grace with mankind throughout history.  Beginning with Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:15, God’s covenant of grace unfolds through history, going from Adam to Noah, to Abraham, to Moses, to David, and finally to Christ.

Also, looking at Scriptures like Romans 1:20, or Matthew 19:4, or Mark 10:6, there is no good reason to interpret those any other way except that mankind was present from Day 6 on.  Personally, I don’t know exactly how old the earth is, but it is reasonable to conclude from Scripture that it is around 6,000 years old, and mankind has been there since the beginning.

If you are a Christian who is currently “agnostic” or “embarrassed” about the earth age question, I encourage you to read Rocks Aren’t Clocks. You will quickly understand that there isn’t a science vs. Scripture battle, but there is most definitely a battle between the worldviews of Christianity and naturalism. The battle is over how to interpret history, not whether Christians are debating the existence of gravity, DNA, etc. If, on the other hand, you are an unbeliever who thinks Christianity is foolishness, then I pray that God will change your heart, because all the evidence in the world won’t save you. Jesus saves.

What does EVOLUTION really mean?

September 30, 2013
This AP Biology laboratory activity works just fine without the controversial word

This AP Biology laboratory activity works just fine without the controversial word “evolution” included. “Population Genetics and Inheritance” would be a better title.

The Evolution of “evolution”

The word “evolution” can mean a lot of things, which in turn leads to a lot of confusion! A brief look at the etymology reveals that “evolution” was originally a Latin word for “an opening of what was rolled up,” as in the growth of a plant from a seed. Charles Darwin actually used the word only once in Origin of Species, as he preferred “descent with modification.”

Today though, “evolution” is not so easily defined. Now, evolution might refer to anything from Darwin’s idea of descent with modification, to the idea that the whole universe is a progression of interrelated phenomena. Or, it may just mean “change,” which is the way I used it to describe how the term “evolved,” or changed over the years. The many faces of the modern definition have obvious scientific, historic, and religious implications. Let’s briefly explore these implications, and see how they may or may not relate to the creationism/evolutionism battle.

Evolution and Science

Evolution does indeed have a scientific component to it. For example, there are creationists who have PhD’s in evolutionary biology and actively work in this field. Some of you are probably thinking “how can a creationist be an evolutionist?!” Well, think about it. Darwin’s idea of “descent with modification” does occur, right? We are not all clones, right?

You look similar, yet also different, from your parents. You are walking proof that limited descent with modification is real. There is some obvious “phenotypic plasticity”, or more simply, built-in flexibility, that, within limits, allows organisms to adapt and change. So, a creationist can be an “evolutionist” in the sense that he/she is conducting research on mechanisms of inheritance. The problem is not that the creationist is being a heretic and rejecting the Genesis account, where God clearly says He created different kinds of organisms. The problem is the many faces of the word “evolution,” and applying the “universal progression” idea of evolution in this instance is improper.

The photo above is from my DIVE Biology curriculum. Lab activities designated “AP” are recommended by the College Board, creators of the AP exams that high schoolers can take to receive college credit for high school work. However, because of the confusion over what “evolution” means, tagging on that word alongside “population genetics” is unnecessary. If, by evolution you mean the “universal progression” idea, then it is laughable if you think this lab activity is going to prove that. The lab is actually just a card-type game that uses multiple forms of the same gene, called alleles, to show the effects of a lethal mutation on a population. It also teaches students about the inheritance mechanism known as genetic drift.  However, if by “evolution” you mean the self-evident truth that limited “descent with modification” occurs, then this lab does a pretty good job of showing how some genetic mechanisms of inheritance work. Because of confusion over the word evolution though, it would be more appropriate for the College Board to title the lab simply “Population Genetics”, or “Population Genetics and Inheritance.”

But what happens when an evolutionary biologist, who is not a creationist, finds out creationists oppose the teaching of “evolution” in schools? Well, they may end up saying pretty crazy things! For example, take evolutionary biologist Dr. Justin Bahl, who in a recent opinion article in the Houston Chronicle, claimed that creationists opposed research on pathogenic viruses!   Obviously, his confusion is over the word “evolution.” Creationists object to the naturalistic “universal progression” idea of evolution. However, I have yet to hear of a creationist who opposed research on how diseases develop resistance! Instead, a creationist who is also a scientist would use every inheritance mechanism currently known in an effort to discover disease cures.

Viruses, bacteria, etc. develop drug resistance. This is self-evident. It is also self-evident that viruses and bacteria almost never show the “universal progression” idea, which would require they create new, functional information, and lots of it. They have never displayed anything more than a limited “descent with modification.”

Rapid evolution” is another growing area of “evolution” research that interests creationists. A Google search of the phrase “rapid evolution” produced 130,000 results! So what is “rapid evolution,” and how is that different from just normal evolution? Well, the difference lies in Darwin’s idea that evolution requires millions of years of “numerous, successive, slight modifications” (Darwin’s own words in Origin of Species). But Darwin’s “gradualism” is really part of the unscientific “universal progression” idea.

Darwin said his theory would “absolutely break down” if it could be demonstrated that a complex organ formed without involving gradualism. Well, that’s exactly what happened in a transplanted population of wall lizards, who developed a “brand new structure”, without any known genetic changes! But, they are still just wall lizards, with no change of kind.

So what is “rapid evolution”? Well, it is exactly what scientists like Dr. Bahl study! “Rapid evolution” is about studying fairly significant changes in populations that occur in just a few generations. It occurs in everything from the viral pathogens Dr. Bahl researches, to plants, to trout and more. To a creationist though, “rapid evolution” is mainly just adaptation, and the more we learn about it, the more it confirms what creationists already knew, that life was designed to adapt! Also, “rapid evolution” is what creationists sometimes refer to as “microevolution.”

Evolution and History

Creationists have no objections to testable, repeatable science. So what is this creationism/evolutionism battle about then? Well, it is a battle over how to interpret history. Scientific research is about conducting experiments and verifying the results with further experimentation. Natural history research is ultimately about interpretation, not verification. It really boils down to storytelling. In fact, a common phrase geologists like to use is “every rock has a story.” Under what conditions was it formed? What is it composed of? When was it formed? Geologists and other naturalists can perform a variety of scientific tests that can then be used to help them write a story about the past. However, any story they come up with, creationist or otherwise, is still an interpretation, not a verification, of the past.

But if history is about interpretation and storytelling, while scientific endeavors are about repeatability and verification, then why is history part of a supposedly scientific course like biology? Well, history does matter, so you cannot completely exclude it. However, when a biology textbook writer inserts the unscientific “universal progression” idea of common descent from single-celled organisms, to the exculsion of ideas related to uncommon descent, then that’s a problem. In a biology textbook, the natural history component should be very minor, and should not dogmatically assert the “universal progression” idea, using descriptions like “animals arose from bacteria,” etc. One focus of any historic component in a biology course should be on using the body of past scientific research to further unlock the mysteries of the various mechanisms of inheritance.

Evolution and Religion

Ironically, while confused scientists like Dr. Bahl are making false claims that creationists are “anti-science,” it is actually the evolutionists who are stifling scientific progress! A glaring example is Eugenie Scott, the soon-to-retire director of the evolutionist propaganda mill known as the National Center for Science Education (NCSE). Behaving like a villain of science, Scott recently proclaimed that the 21st Century Science of epigenetics was too hard for high school students  to learn! This is completely false. Epigenetics relates to the set of biological information that directs the genes, switching them on and off at certain times and places. Epigenetics is like the captain that directs the “ship” known as the genome. This is an analogy a 5-year old could understand! Epigenetics is also another mechanism of inheritance that is contributing to our understanding of human health-related topics like those Dr. Bahl studies.

But why would an organization like NCSE, whose purpose is supposedly to defend the teaching of evolution, be opposed to teaching evolution? Once again, it depends on what you mean by “evolution”. The evolution NCSE is defending is the “universal progression”, naturalistic form, and they make this abundantly clear. As dogmatic Darwinists, they presuppose a simple cell filled with one-dimensional (linear) DNA that randomly mutates and magically generates 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! To say a cell is “simple” is as false as saying the infrastructure running New York City is “simple.” Since dogmatic naturalistic beliefs also presuppose gradualism, they often feel a need to suppress new discoveries related to cell complexity.

And yes, naturalism is a religious belief system. As a recent lawsuit filed in a federal court states, naturalism directs one to ask “ultimate religious questions” such as “where do we come from?” Ultimate questions like this are not scientific questions, because we can’t use scientific methods to answer them. There really is no conflict between science and religion. The “battle” is about religious belief systems, like naturalism and Christianity. And it is a battle, not a war, because the war has been won through Christ!

While secular humanists and atheists almost always have naturalism and its related components like evolutionism as core tenets of their religion, many other religious people view God as using evolutionism to bring about life. So, it is not just atheist/humanist folks who incorporate the “universal progression” form of evolution into their religious beliefs. Many theists do as well, which is why it is right to say that it is a violation of the 1st and 14th amendments when a public school uses naturalism in an effort to address origins questions.

Should scientists drop the word “evolution?”

Journalists, who are typically not scientists, are almost always confused about evolution, to the point that some even think Texas has banned the teaching of evolution! Of course, that is as false as Dr. Bahl’s claims that creationists are against the study of diseases. But, because so many are so confused about evolution, mainly because it can mean so many different things, wouldn’t it be better to just stop using the word in scientific circles? Instead of “evolutionary biology”, we could have “hereditary biology.” This wouldn’t change Dr. Bahl’s job a bit, as he would still be studying how pathogens use different mechanisms of inheritance to develop drug resistance. And instead of studying “rapid evolution”, scientists could study “adaptation” instead, as this is mainly what is happening. Environmental conditions change, and organisms adapt.

So yes, scientists should drop the word “evolution,” and put the “universal progress” form of it in a philosophy, history, or religion class. In America, the time is past due to take the religious, “universal progress” form of evolution out of the public school science classroom where legally, it doesn’t belong.

Will TFN Stand Up for Science?

September 12, 2013

TFN range rider dino photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Probably not.  Next Tuesday (Sep. 17, 2013), the Texas State Board of Education will hear public testimony regarding new textbooks for Texas’ state-run schools. Unfortunately for some, promoting quality science materials for all children will take a back seat to TFN-sponsored anti-creationism and global warming hysteria. TFN will lead the charge, with yet another irrational dinosaur history protest scheduled for noon outside the William B. Travis building in Austin, TX.

Anti-creationism hysteria

Many people do not know that a basic principle of the scientific method is repeatability. If you can verify a claim through repeated experimentation, then it is a scientific claim. But think about the “battles”. The creation/evolution battle is not over scientifically verifiable claims, it is a battle over how to interpret unrecorded history. The last time I checked, most thinking people define the study of the past as history, not science! People have different interpretations of the past, but so what? Why do we need to protest that? Can’t we just discuss it? All indications are that TFN and their allies are not interested in standing up for science, they are interested in defending their dogmatic interpretation of history, at all costs. How irrational and misleading!

Global warming hysteria

And think about global warming hysteria. Meteorologists can still barely produce a decent 10-day weather forecast, yet many have been suckered into “believing” long-term climate models that are not easily verifiable. Global warming hysteria is really fueled more by “futurology” than anything scientific. Fortunately, now that the hysteria has been around for a while, we have real observations to compare to speculative models. The verdict is in: the models overwhelmingly predicted higher-than-actual temperatures over the last 30 years.

A disregard for real science

But what about testable repeatable science? What about the study of epigenetics, a field that is revolutionizing all of the biological sciences? If you think of the genome (set of all your DNA) as the “ship”, it doesn’t do anything without a captain. And what is the “captain”? It’s the epigenome, a separate set of information stored in a variety of forms inside cells. Epigenetics has implications for everything from cancer to the effects of diet on human health.

Recently, I reviewed some of the Texas biology textbooks up for adoption. Amazingly, not one of the textbooks I reviewed contained information on epigenetics! In 2011, when I reviewed online materials for Texas schools, I had to go against my entire review team just to get one lousy paragraph on the epigenome into the curriculum!

Why the disregard for teaching 21st Century Science? Well, it doesn’t come from scientists, but from dinosaur history protesters. You see, epigenetics has been proposed as “an outright counterpoint to purely Mendelian inheritance” and as “the study of heritable changes in cellular phenotype, or gene expression that is initiated by factors other than changes in the DNA sequence.” (from The Epigenetic Landsape, an article in the Spring 2012 issue of In Vivo, published by the University of Texas Department of Biological Sciences). For close-minded Darwinists, “change” comes from DNA mutations alone, which is why epigenetics “raises hackles” for the irrational, unscientific horde.

Will 21st Century science be suppressed in Texas textbooks? Time will tell. All scientists would agree that 21st Century biology students should learn about epigenetics. But what about political activists, shouldn’t they agree, too? Yesterday, I called and emailed Texas Freedom Network (TFN), asking them to support teaching epigenetics in Texas textbooks. I have not heard back from them, and am not too optimistic that I will. I think they would rather spend time photoshopping dinosaurs riding horseback than pushing for better math and science education in Texas.

Pray for TFN and their allies, that they would see their folly and turn from it.  Pray that they would repent and promote liberty through Christ alone, the Author of all knowledge, and the #1 Advocate of good education for all children!

Creationism hysteria strikes again!

May 27, 2013

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Creationism hysteria has struck again, and this time the attack is targeted at homeschoolers. A two-hour YouTube video titled “Home School abuse by Creationists“, shows a recorded Google Hangout of several atheists huffing, whining, head-shaking, and hand-waving over the fact that Christians like me believe Scripture gives an accurate account of history. The atheists are particularly in a kerfuffle over Ken Ham, to the point they are organizing a “protest” at the THSC Home School Convention, August 1-3, 2013, in The Woodlands, TX, where Mr. Ham is speaking. They are also considering protesting the CHEA Home School Convention, June 6-8, 2013, in Anaheim, CA, where Mr. Ham is a keynote speaker.

Some of the women in the video homeschool their own children, and they make some good points about problems with government education, and how other atheists shouldn’t chastise them for wanting to give their children a better education than government schools can. Unfortunately, when it comes to understanding science, or its language, mathematics, these atheists seemed woefully unprepared to give their children anything remotely resembling a proper science and math education.

Where Atheists Always Err

Without fail, hysterical anti-creationists muddle the distinction between a scientific thing and a historic thing. Over and over in this 2-hour video, complaints were made about Christian homeschoolers teaching their kids the “scientific claim” that dinosaurs and humans lived at the same time in the past. But this is an interpretation of history, not a testable, repeatable scientific claim! Natural history research is about interpretation of past events, and scientific research is about verifying hypotheses through experiments others can repeat. Scientific research does not need a time machine to verify its conclusions.

At about the 39-minute mark in the video, Shayrah mentioned that this is a “great big war”, and it is “not being handled properly”. Well, that is exactly right! Atheists and Christians alike often foolishly conflate natural history research and scientific research. The creation/evolution battle is a battle over natural history claims, not scientifically testable claims, and the battle is nothing new. It’s an insatiable demand for more evidence, which you will never get enough of. In the film How to Answer the Fool, Sye Ten Bruggencate describes this as an “infinite regress”. So atheist, if you seriously want to advance learning, then don’t waste your time protesting how some Christian homeschoolers interpret history, while simultaneously demanding more and more evidence! Faith is the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:2), so have faith(or not) in the evidence from Scripture and nature regarding the past that we cannot see. Then, get beyond your creationism hysteria and get out there and discover some new disease cures, or design a more efficient automobile motor, etc.

At about the 36-minute mark, Lilandra proclaimed that “teaching the earth is 6,000 years old is not science”. Correct again! Teaching ANYTHING about earth history is not scientific teaching. It happened in the past, which is why we call it HISTORY. Natural history research certainly involves the use of scientific instruments, but it is ultimately a historic endeavor, not a scientific one.

If atheists like Shayrah, Lilandra, and her husband AronRa are serious about defusing this “great big war”, then they will make a giant intellectual leap forward and start properly discerning between a scientific thing and a historic thing. Battles over earth age and origins will always be with us, because we don’t have time machines to go back and determine exactly how it all went down. Old earth or young earth, common descent or uncommon descent, we all have the same evidence. The differences come when we try to interpret the evidence. A true freethinker (which is usually the Christian, not the atheist) will teach their child about all the evidence about our past, and let them decide which interpretation they think is the best one. And if the child ends up believing God’s story about history, and trusting Christ as their Savior, what does that matter to the free-thinking atheist? If it matters in the slightest, then they are not true free-thinkers, but rather atheists with an agenda.

Why are hysterical a-theists also a-math and a-science?

Another big disappointment in this video was the lack of any real discussion about teaching children real science and its language, mathematics. There was some discussion about scientific illiteracy, but the discussions almost always reverted back to hysteria over how to interpret natural history. For example, at about the 1 hour, 27 minute mark, Shayrah made the illogical connection that if you believe man and dinosaurs lived together, then you can’t advance the study of disease cures! Whatever.

What is logical though is this: if your child has poor math skills, it will be much more difficult to understand 21st Century science, including finding disease cures. Calculus in particular is probably one of the most important tools for students to learn. Understanding calculus opens a student up to take courses in every department on a college campus. Not knowing calculus shuts them out of most science and engineering degrees.

Not surprisingly though, calculus was not mentioned once in this two-hour atheist history rant. To the detriment of society, most atheists are totally focused on the wrong thing. They say they want more scientific literacy, but they go about it by getting hysterical about, of all things, Christian homeschoolers! Actually, if the atheists in this video were more scientifically literate, they probably wouldn’t be so hysterical about Christian homeschoolers’ beliefs about history.

Borrowing from Christianity to make sense of reality

Here is a syllogism:

Second causes have a first cause.

First causes have no cause.

God is THE first cause.

Therefore, God is without cause.

It is logical to conclude that God is without cause. What is illogical though, is to assume that nothing created everything. If, in the above syllogism, you substitute “nothing” for “God”, then the conclusion is that “nothing has no cause”. In other words, not one single thing is without cause. Everything has a cause! Except God.  So, the atheist is left to teach their child the illogical claim that nothing caused all the atoms, the light, the energy, time, etc.  There was no cause for all the trees, fishes, birds, and there was no cause, and therefore no purpose, for the atheist or their children. Of course, no atheist acts like this, so their idea (atheism) doesn’t match their reality.

Since the atheist must believe in a life without cause or purpose, they must borrow from Christianity to do anything, including science. The Christian understands that it is the glory of God to conceal a matter, and the glory of kings to search a matter out (Proverbs 25:2). Created in His image, both male and female (Genesis 1:27), human “kings” are therefore creative, too, and designed with the ability to discover the plan and purpose God put into everything He made.

Scientific investigation is about making observations and discovering the pattern, purpose, and predictability of things. Science is about understanding what “is”, not about interpreting what “was”, and then getting hysterical when others disagree with your interpretation of what “was”. Doing science is about finding out how the world works, which is actually one of the first commands God gave humans in Genesis 1:28. He told us to take dominion, which the wise Christian interprets as being a good steward of what He made. Scientific investigation is founded in biblical Christian thinking about the world, not atheistic thinking.

Homeschooling is for everyone

To the atheist considering protesting either the THSC or CHEA conference, I urge you to not stand outside picketing, but come inside and learn! Come with a truly freethinking attitude, and get along with people you disagree with regarding earth history. But join us in our pursuit to build scientific knowledge, and set your standards for math and science education higher than the government schools do.

To anyone considering homeschooling or currently homeschooling, check out my company’s catalog to learn more, or stop by my booth at either the CA or TX conference. I would be happy to discuss science, math, and natural history with you! My math and science courses are for all homeschoolers, including the tolerant, freethinking atheist!

Whatever you do, don’t come to protest Christian interpretations of earth history. That puts the focus on the wrong thing, and makes you look like a scientifically-illiterate fool. Go after math and science knowledge for you and your children instead, but remember this: you can be incredibly smart, understanding all mysteries and all knowledge, but if you have no love for your fellow man, God considers you as nothing (I Corinthians 13:2). Thanks for reading this!

How to start a homeschool science co-op

February 15, 2013

Here’s a video I made about a typical day at my homeschool co-op science classes. I hope this video will encourage others to start a homeschool co-op in their town. I hope too that it will help skeptics see that Christians are not “anti-science”. And we aren’t against having fun while we do science either!

Is the NCSE good for the world?

November 11, 2011

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

No.

A name like the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) gives  the impression of an organization with a vision for improving science education. If NCSE were good for the world, it would be a clearinghouse of information for helping science educators stay updated on the latest advances in science, which they could pass on to students. It would cover all the sciences, and give helpful tips on science fundamentals such as the scientific method and the limitations of this inductive approach to studying our world. And of course it would focus heavily on mathematics, the language of science, with helpful resources to improve mathematics teaching. It would also have a special mission for helping the worst-performing schools, providing hope and encouragement to educators and students to study and apply science in ways that will help them be more productive for the glory of God and the service of others.

Unfortunately, the NCSE is none of these things. In fact, their mission is simply this: defending the teaching of evolution in public schools. Instead of being our national cheerleaders for advancing real science education, the NCSE instead is only about defending a single, faith-based natural history topic known as evolutionism. They confuse natural history with science, which in turn confuses others into thinking that science can answer all questions about the past. The reality is that natural history is a mixed question, and it requires inputs from other areas, such as historical documents like Scripture. Unlike normal scientific research, whose conclusions can be verified, conclusions made from natural history research cannot be verified. Treating origins topics as history instead of science causes people to realize that we all have the same evidence, the differences come in the interpretations, and some interpretations are definitely better than others. It also helps people realize that the creationism vs. evolutionism battle is not primarily a religion vs. science battle, but a battle of one religious belief vs. another. Many individuals, including those at NCSE, confuse the boundary between real science and natural history research.

So, the NCSE is not about promoting science, but evolutionism. Evolutionism is the faith-based idea that somehow, through a very long series of genetic copying errors, bacteria turned into people. And thanks in part to the NCSE’s dogmatic approach to education, this idea is the only major premise used in most biology curricula on the market today. Fortunately, not everyone believes the unverifiable claims of evolutionists.

The more we learn about cells, the more improbable evolutionism sounds. But the NCSE marches on, blind to the advances in 21st Century science, because real science naturally opposes their mission. And if you still don’t believe that the NCSE would choose evolutionism over testable, repeatable science, please, read on.

From June 13-17, 2011, I was able to participate on a Texas review panel for adopting new high school biology curricula in public schools. This process is designed to allow public participation in the review process, and State Board of Education members are allowed to appoint members of the public to a week-long review process. I was nominated by my State Board Representative, Mrs. Barbara Cargill. Texas adopted new high school biology teaching standards in 2009, and the review panels analyzed and evaluated the  new supplemental science curricula to determine if the standards were being met. We also checked for factual errors, but that’s another story.

One of the new standards approved in 2009 is called TEK 7G (TEKS = Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills), which required students to “analyze and evaluate scientific explanations regarding the complexity of the cell.” I thought publishers would jump on this opportunity to teach high school students about 21st Century research involving cell complexity, but I was sadly disappointed. I was also disappointed with the poor quality of some of the curricula, but a curriculum we reviewed by Holt-McDougal was better than most. Unfortunately, the presentation of TEK 7G was extremely weak, and consisted of an evolutionary explanation called endosymbiosis. Endosymbiosis, the turning of a prokaryote into a eukaryote (cell with a nucleus), has never been tested. It is an idea about cells eating other cells, and instead of becoming dinner, the consumed cells turn into highly specialized and purposeful cell organelles. Kind of like if you ate a hamburger, and, instead of being digested, it turned into a dolphin. Or something like that.

The review panels consisted of teams of 3-4 people, and I actually had to go against my other team members and reject Holt’s weak effort to address TEK 7G. One excuse a team member gave for approving it as-is was that what I had proposed would be “too hard” for students to learn! But a mark of a good educator is finding simple ways to explain complex concepts.

Fortunately, the only way for Holt’s weak attempt at addressing TEK 7G to gain approval was if our review panel voted unanimously in favor of it. So I rejected it, and you can read my reasons and suggestions here. I was pleasantly surprised when Holt accepted many of my suggestions. They could have disputed all of my suggestions, as they did with several factual errors our team presented, but they didn’t.

So now, besides endosymbiosis, students who use the Holt curriculum can also learn about 21st century science concepts like genomes, proteomes, and interactomes. Holt added a beautiful section titled 21st Century Cell Complexity, and presented it simply and clearly. And as I had hoped, they also directed teachers to the National Center for Dynamic Interactome Research, where, if you look, you can find an easy-to-understand laboratory activity that uses cell phones to explain interactomes.

While public school biology curricula have a long way to go, the ones from Texas are definitely better than ever at presenting students with alternatives to evolutionism. After Holt made some, but not all of the changes I had hoped for (I wanted them to include a “tree of life” that had multiple “trunks”), the changes still needed to be approved by the State Board of Education. Thankfully, they were adopted on July 20-21, 2011. Not surprisingly, the NCSE sent someone to promote censorship of the self-evident truth that living organisms were designed. Programs and Policy Director Josh Rosenau testified, and I later had the opportunity to meet him. In our brief but friendly conversation, I asked him what he would do if he had to choose between teaching endosymbiosis or teaching 21st century science on cell complexity. Without hesitation, Josh said he would have to go with the non-scientific idea of endosymbiosis! Oh well, at least Texas public school students will have a choice now on what to believe. Are cells specially created, multi-dimensional super machines and is there evidence to support this, or are they cannibalistic bags of salt? I’ll choose the former, what about you?

And that is just one of many reasons NCSE is not good for the world. Now they have a new documentary out that is the closest thing I have seen to white elitism in a long time. Like, since Hitler. Or Sanger. You have to watch the trailer, and see if you notice a seemingly white elitist message  proclaiming that portly, toothless, dark-skinned people with thick accents are the only ones who would consider teaching about alternatives to evolutionism. Immediately following the non-white man, a white woman explains how people who don’t believe in evolutionism are like people with severe handicaps. It could just be bad filmmaking, but the disrespectful, white-elitist message seems pretty clear to me. But then again I’m not sure if I would expect much different from people who have so much faith in Darwin, who based his ideas on Thomas Malthus’ 1800’s human population myths. And it was Malthus who proposed moving poor people to disease infested swamps so that they would be more likely to die, and this would keep their population in check!

Hopefully, this little blog post will open a few eyes to the censorship, misrepresentation of science, and possible white elitism that are NCSE’s agenda. Pray for their leaders to have a change of heart, and to no longer be deceived by hollow, deceptive and unscientific philosophies about origins that are based on the traditions of men, rather than on Christ(Colossians 2:8). Perhaps someday, instead of their current non-scientific mission, NCSE’s leaders will instead pay more attention to the words of Francis Bacon, founder of the scientific method, who wrote in his book, New Atlantis, of a place

sometimes called Solomon’s House, and sometimes the College of the Six Days’ Works, whereby I am satisfied that our excellent King had learned from the Hebrews that God had created the world and all that therein is within six days: and therefore he instituted that house, for the finding out of the true nature of all things, whereby God might have the more glory in the workmanship of them, and men the more fruit in their use of them, did give it also that second name.

Wow, a National Center for Science Education like that really would be good for the world!

Texas Freedom Network promotes creationism hysteria and bigotry

May 9, 2011

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

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.