‘Critical Thinking’ or Creationism in Tennessee Classrooms?

Supporters of new education legislation say it promotes objective discussion, but who’s really behind it?

State Rep. Bill Dunn wants you to know he is not a glassy-eyed, knuckle-dragging cretin.

Dunn says that since he introduced HB 368 in the House in early February, he’s gotten a lot of hate mail, attacking both him and the legislation.

“This is just about using objective scientific facts,” says Dunn. It’s a phrase he repeats over and over again during a 20-minute phone conversation. Scientific. Objective. Facts.

Dunn sounds genuinely disconcerted that his legislation has created a firestorm of controversy—he just wants to ensure this generation’s students learn critical thinking skills, he says.

And on the face of it, the text of HB 368 seems innocuous enough. It reads, in part: “The state board of education … school system administrators, and public elementary and secondary school principals and administrators shall endeavor to create an environment … that encourages students to explore scientific questions, learn about scientific evidence, develop critical thinking skills, and respond appropriately and respectfully to differences of opinion about controversial issues.”

So why, exactly, are science teachers across the state and the American Civil Liberties Union lambasting the legislation (and Dunn)? It comes down to the bill’s definition of those “controversial issues”: “some scientific subjects, including, but not limited to, biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.”

Well, actually it just comes down to evolution.

“No one doubts the value of critical thinking, but this legislation is not aimed at developing students’ critical thinking skills,” says Hedy Weinberg, the head of the Tennessee chapter of the ACLU. “The bottom line is this kind of legislation emboldens teachers who want to bring their own beliefs into the classroom.”

Their own creationist beliefs, Weinberg means. HB 368 would also prohibit schools from doing anything about any teacher who, say, wanted to present intelligent design as an alternative to evolution, although it also states it “only protects the teaching of scientific information and shall not be construed to promote any religious or non-religious doctrine.”

Dunn says the bill does not change state curriculum at all, it just protects teachers, which is why the legislation’s unofficial title is the Teacher Protection Academic Freedom Act. The bill is not, he insists over and over again, about evolution or creationism or intelligent design or the teaching of such. It is about teaching, well, those objective scientific facts again.

But Dunn did not write the legislation himself. It was handed to him, he says, by his friend David Fowler, the former state senator from Chattanooga who gave up his seat in 2006—a seat now held by Sen. Bo Watson, who happens to be sponsoring the same legislation in the senate. Since leaving office, Fowler has been the president of the nonprofit Family Action Council of Tennessee, or FACT, which describes itself on its website as “a grassroots network of concerned citizens” and says its mission is “to promote and defend a culture that values the traditional family, for the sake of the common good.”

But FACT didn’t exactly spring from the ground up. The organization is actually one of 36 “Family Policy Councils” across the country that are “fully associated” with CitizenLink, the 501(c)(4) lobbying arm of the nonprofit conservative Christian megalith Focus on the Family. The CitizenLink website states, “Each Family Policy Council conducts policy analysis, promotes responsible and informed citizenship, facilitates strategic leadership involvement, and influences public opinion.”

FACT, it should be noted, has its own 501(c)(4) lobbying arm as well; it spent $267,258 on lobbying activities from 2006 to 2009, the last fiscal year for which tax data is available. In its 2010 annual report, it states, “FACT was formed in June 2006 by ministry partners of Focus on the Family who saw the need for a statewide organization devoted to identifying, educating, and mobilizing Tennesseans and churches to respond to growing concerns about a wide array of policies at the state and local level negatively impacting the family and religious liberty.” The document also notes that the organization restricts hiring to Christians.

The same annual report mentions that FACT is actively involved in promoting Focus on the Family’s The Truth Project, which is described as a “DVD-based small group curriculum comprised of 13 one-hour lessons … Each lesson discusses in great detail the relevance and importance of living the Christian worldview in daily life.” FACT says it has trained over 300 people to lead Truth Project groups since 2009.

But The Truth Project isn’t just Bible study. The fifth lesson, “Science: What is True?” has the following description: “Darwinian theory transforms science from the honest investigation of nature into a vehicle for propagating a godless philosophy … A careful examination of molecular biology and the fossil record demonstrates that evolution is not a ‘proven fact.’”

And Lesson Nine, “The State: Whose Law?”, details: “Of all the social spheres, the state … has the greatest potential to go awry if it oversteps its authority. The civil magistrate must always remember his place under the sovereignty of God.”

FACT does not actively promote creationism on its website, and Fowler did not return repeated phone calls for comment. But in a Feb. 21 letter to the online news website the Chattanoogan, he wrote that “it is also appropriate that students understand that intelligent design is a theory that many scientists are beginning to consider and hold because of the weaknesses in the scientific evidence supporting evolution.”

In fact, the main text of HB 368 is a revised version of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture “Academic Freedom Act” model legislation. The same text was the basis for bills that failed earlier this year in the Kentucky, Missouri, Oklahoma, and New Mexico Legislatures. (A bill requiring schools to teach “a thorough presentation and critical analysis of the scientific theory of evolution” is still moving through the Florida Legislature, and the Texas House is considering a bill prohibiting discrimination against faculty researching intelligent design.)

The Center is a well-funded think-tank based in Seattle that promotes intelligent design and what it calls “neo-Darwinism.” The Institute purports to have no religious or political agenda, yet it has board members like Howard Ahmanson, whom the Washington Post says “once said his goal is ‘the total integration of biblical law into our lives.’” It also actively promotes what the Center’s website calls “free speech on evolution;” one page on the site states, “Groups like the ACLU are increasingly trying to use the federal courts to impose a gag order on honest discussions about evolution, and we must work aggressively to counter their efforts.”

When reached by phone, Casey Luskin, a senior policy analyst with the Center, confirms he assisted Fowler with the legislation.

“This is about science. It’s not about religion. And for people who don’t believe it, go read the bill,” Luskin says. Like Dunn, he sounds personally affronted that anyone would think the bill is about allowing teachers to discuss intelligent design in the classroom. “There is a widespread pattern of discrimination when teachers try to teach the science of evolution in an objective way,” Luskin says.

But Becky Ashe, the president of the Tennessee Science Teachers Association and the executive director of curriculum and instruction for Knox County Schools, says there is no discrimination. She says in her decade in the central office, no teacher has been disciplined for mentioning alternative beliefs to evolution in the classroom, and that teachers are instructed to make sure students feel like their beliefs are valued if they bring it up.

“We don’t want to make children feel like they’re being disobedient to their parents or start questioning their faiths,” Ashe says. “What we do expect is that you have to pass a test based on the facts that others are presenting as the best explanative out there.”

Ashe says the state’s science curriculum, as rewritten in the past few years, teaches critical thinking and is in line with national standards, so if the legislation really is just about critical thinking, it’s completely unnecessary.

HB 368 is scheduled for a full vote in the House this Thursday, April 7, and is widely expected to pass. The Senate Education Committee postponed a vote on the bill last week until April 20.

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Comments » 45

Dr_Gary_Hurd writes:

This is an excellent review of the current effort to subvert science education, and reintroduce religious dogma into public schools.

This year has seen legislation based on the same Discovery Institute template introduced in eleven states. For additional news, see The National Center for Science Education website;

http://ncse.com/node

leebowman writes:

Thanks for this objective overview of the current HB 368, and its origin, that of an original draft from David Fowler of FACT, a family values group. Details of FACT’s alliance with Focus and the Family, and other 501(c)(4) groups are somewhat relative to motives of the bill, but not to whether or not it has merit. But regardless of who spelled out its provisions, and that group’s religious underpinnings, the language of the Bill is what is relevant to its value or non-value within academia.

I think from you commentary, you and I would agree that there is nothing in the Bill that would allow religious teachings, and that its “innocuous” wording merely reinforces what should already be in place. You then raise the question of why the forceful opposition to the Bill. As you summarized, it boils down to the inclusion of the words ‘evolution’ and ‘critical thinking’, which ironically don’t go together. This in-and-of-itself is a clear indicator of the sanctity of evolutionary theory, and of its preclusion from debate.

Similar wording exists in other bills, including draftings originating from the Discovery Institute, but that merely resonates with one of their prime goals which is not to push religion, but to aid in allowing academic freedom (pardon the phrase) to subsist. Regardless of how some regard their overall goals (the dated Wedge document), their current goals appear to be secular in nature. To my mind, religious board members like Ahmanson do not cloud the picture at all, as DI’s work encompasses much more, including opposing unwarranted restrictive actions by politically oriented suppression groups. The actual question of whether NCSE is helping or hurting science remains an open question, and no more ‘settled’ than the causative tenets proposed by evolutionary theory.

Becky Ash’s comments that there are no ‘disciplinary’ problems with the current program, and that legislation like this merely echoes what is already understood and in place might be so, but subsequent to the Kitzmiller assault, things have heated up, and academic freedom is plainly under assault in some areas. This Bill is merely intended to insure that that freedom continues.

leebowman writes:

One clarification:

I have no problem with part one of the Kitzmiller v Dover decision, since religious motives were plainly established, as well as a lack of secular intent on the school board's part (that prong is somewhat debatable).

It was part two of the decision that is totally without merit, and for that matter, in plain violation of jurisprudence authority. Courts can plainly rule on actions taken in violation of Constitutional authority, but not on what constitutes valid science.

Dr_Gary_Hurd writes:

The consideration of whether ID is merely religious, or might also be scientific was demanded by both case law, and the original filings of the Dover parents, and school board. The reasoning is very clearly presented by Judge Jones in Section E of the Court Decision, "Application of the Endorsement Test to the ID Policy." Had ID creationism been a valid scientific proposal, it could be taught regardless of the apparent support it, and its advocates, give to sectarian Judeo-Christian-Islamic creationism. So, the issue was unavoidable.

leebowman writes:

“The consideration of whether ID is merely religious, or might also be scientific was demanded by both case law, and the original filings of the Dover parents, and school board. ”

The Dover parents were in opposition to a school board’s actions, not in judgment of a scientific concept. Ruling on the religious nature of a particular incident, and with reference to similarly related historical activities resulted in a proper ruling. But here is where the Court went awry.

First, ID is NOT creationism. Do not conflate the two. ID does not equal IDC.

Secondly, no one is proposing ‘teaching ID’, as though it were a discipline.

Thirdly, as incorrectly mentioned in section ‘E’, ID principals are NOT in opposition to the teaching of evolutionary theory.

In addition, your (and Judge Jones) reference to “ID Policy” is fallacious. ID is the study of teleological inferences within biology, nothing more. In section ‘E’, reference is made to the school board’s ‘newsletter’ detailing “ID Policy in Detail”. Since when does a panel who admitted not even being familiar with ID as a concept, be allowed to set ‘ID Policy’, which is in fact a non-sequitur? Furthermore, the Court made reference to what it referred to as the “intelligent design movement (“IDM”)”In this context, it is portrayed as a political movement, again in contrast to what ID constitutes.

Then Judge Jones goes into a convoluted discourse regarding “opposition to the teaching of evolution, and its historical origins”, which again has NOTHING to do with ID as a scientific concept, nor was that ever a goal of ID principals such as the Discovery Institute. Furthermore, his case citations (McLean v Arkansas and Tennessee v Scopes) and references to “Fundamentalism’s attacks” on evolution might only be relevant if in fact a conspiratorial effort by “IDM” was the case. IT WAS NOT, nor does IDM exist as a ‘movement’. It is perhaps no wonder then that he adjudicated as he did in part two, since he was led down a path of deception regarding ID proper.

As stated elsewhere, harm has been done to science by first tagging a scientific hypothesis with a convoluted association with a purportedly subversive political ‘movement’ (“IDM”), and then in essence, getting a jurist to rule on intelligent design as “religion in a lab coat” and as pseudoscience. I would seriously consider having the second part of the ruling reviewed by the Supreme Court for its jurisprudential merit.

RickK writes:

Intelligent Design *IS* creationism, Lee.

First, the dispassionate definition:

From wikipedia: "Creationism is the religious belief that humanity, life, the Earth, and the universe are the creation of a supernatural being."

Now, let's ignore the ID arguments about the fine tuning of the universe and focus on biology. ID says there are biological features that could not have evolved through natural, unguided means. Therefore an intelligence designed them. If that intelligence is not a supernatural being, then either that intelligence evolved naturally or it was designed by a supernatural being. At some point you get to the supernatural being, and you get to creationism.

Period.

Now for the definition of Intelligent Design IN PRACTICE.

In practice however, ID is an advertising campaign and a tool for fundamentalist Christians who see it as a wedge with which to drive Genesis back into science classes and public policy.

Actions speak louder than words, and the actions of the ID "researchers" are not the actions of scientists seeking actual truth. They do not attempt to convince their scientific peers with weight of evidence. They treat criticism as an attack, as a shunning, rather than as part of the gauntlet that any new scientific idea must run. The ID proponents appeal directly to the public with scientific-sounding books like "Signature in the Cell", using math and terminology that the vast majority of the general public is not equipped to critique.

And they use lawyers and press releases. The Discovery Institute in Seattle is promoting intelligent design with a media machine that is churning out several press releases every week. Using funding from Young Earth Creationists, the lawyers and politicos who head the Discovery Institute keep the ID "manufactroversy" in business.

If there are any actual honest ID "scientists", people actually trying to study something scientifically and trying to devise actual falsifiable tests, they are lost in sea of bamboozle and mis-direction that is the heart and soul of the "Intelligent Design" lobby.

The pseudo-scientific advertising machine of the Discovery Institute most closely resembles the ad campaigns by Big Tobacco in the late 60s. But where Big Tobacco were (by their own admission) marketing doubt in the science that showed smoking causes cancer, the Discovery Institute (by its own admission) markets doubt in the materialist science of evolution.

These are not the ACTIONS of people of science. They are the actions of people of politics and religious ideology.

So, ID both creationism and a political lobbying strategy of the far right.

Lee, whatever you and your Discovery Institute may say or believe, neither qualifies it as fit for our children's science classes.

RickK writes:

As for the Kitzmiller v Dover trial, the shining lights of ID had their say in court. They had the chance to educate Judge Jones and the public. Dr. Michael Behe, who wrote that his discovery of "irreducible complexity" places him among the ranks of scientists like Newton, Lavoisier and Darwin, had his chance to illustrate the greatness of his discovery to the Judge.

He failed. His arguments failed, and his evidence failed.

The only thing that made the Kitzmiller trial unfair to Intelligent Design was that the trial took place in an evidence-based court.

Now, you may want the freedom, Lee, to teach topics in science class that fail every time they're subjected to an evidence test. But that is not in the best interest of our children.

-----

If you REALLY wanted to teach critical thinking, you wouldn't cherry pick a few topics that YOU think are controversial (but which scientists don't). One does not teach critical thinking by picking a few pet topics and criticizing them.

A real critical thinking course would teach children how to evaluate evidence, would teach basic statistics, and would teach them how to recognize and counter common logical fallacies. A real critical thinking course would not use lobbying materials from the Discovery Institute. It would use books like:

"Don't Believe Everything You Think"
"Predictably Irrational"
"How We Know What Isn't So"
"The Demon-Haunted World"

And, a real critical thinking course would look at a wide range of topics: the existence of the supernatural, ghosts, John Edward's communing with the dead, media bias, evolution, global warming, MOND, dark matter, the historicity of Gilgamesh, Alexander, Moses, whatever. A huge range of topics are available to which children can really apply their newly improved critical thinking skills.

Methinks the same people promoting critical thinking as applied to evolution might just balk at promoting a course like I just described. Anyone who supports this bill, but doesn't support the course outlined above should question their motives.

leebowman writes:

--“In practice however, ID is an advertising campaign and a tool for fundamentalist Christians who see it as a wedge with which to drive Genesis back into science classes and public policy.”

You’re way off base, Rick. Those who favor a literal Genesis, generally oppose the ID concept. But yes, some (the Dover school board) did employ it as a ‘tool’. But are you serious regarding the Book of Genesis being taught in a science class? The straw man you just set up doesn’t need knocking over. It will fall of its own weight.

--“And they use lawyers and press releases. The Discovery Institute in Seattle is promoting intelligent design with a media machine that is churning out several press releases every week. Using funding from Young Earth Creationists, the lawyers and politicos who head the Discovery Institute keep the ID "manufactroversy" in business.“

Who has more lawyers, DI or NCSE, who also ropes in the ACLU’s aggressive legal team? And regarding press releases, NCSE probably puts out more than DI. Moreover, they have NAS, AAAS and others towing their line as well. But you’re helping to make my point, that this whole fiasco has become a legal brouhaha, and science has become the ‘fall guy.’

--“If there are any actual honest ID "scientists", people actually trying to study something scientifically and trying to devise actual falsifiable tests, they are lost in sea of bamboozle and mis-direction that is the heart and soul of the "Intelligent Design" lobby.“

I think you have it backwards. If anything, DI is a seagull on a beach of stone throwers. And the ID “scientists” your refer to do not exist in the lab world, industry or academia since they are not allowed in. Government funding, academic tenure, and the ability to publish in scientific journals are non-existent. So in essence, these reasons are the grounds for bills like this to be put in place. To ease the legal and political burdens that those under fire have had to endure. The academics and scientists that have tried to shout down this bill and others are only acting as Lemmings, themselves held in tight restraint within the same restrictive system.

No, those in the market place at present will not lift a finger in their own and others’ defense. It’s called ‘why rock the boat.’ But I predict that upcoming scientists and engineers will, given the life rafts that they possess, which I’ll term 'guts and fortitude'. I myself attended Western Michigan University in the sixties, and dropped out due to disagreements over evolutionary theory and other hard established doctrine (+ too many parking tickets). Is it hard to imagine that there may be others in coincident situations? Enrollments today are down, and many working profs today are leery of having to teach various evolutionary subjects, frankly, due to the risks involved.

We need to remove the political shackles that are not in place. Let’s start with this legislation.

leebowman writes:

correction:
" ... political shackles that ARE in place ... "

Sorry for the rant, but academic freedom is my passion ...

Dr_Gary_Hurd writes:

Intelligent Design Creationism has no basis in fact. The principle advocates have always had to admit this.

Michael Behe:

"In my estimation, although possible in a broadly permissive sense, it is not plausible that the original intelligent agent is a natural entity. … Thus, in my judgment it is implausible that the designer is a natural entity." “Reply to My Critics” Biology and Philosophy 16: 685–709, 2001.

William Dembski;

"Indeed, intelligent design is just the Logos theology of John’s Gospel restated in the idiom of information theory." (“Signs of Intelligence,” 1999, Touchstone magazine, ref. to John 1:1).

"My thesis is that all disciplines find their completion in Christ and cannot be properly understood apart from Christ." (1999 'Intelligent Design', p 206)

Phillip Johnson;

"This [the intelligent design movement] isn't really, and never has been, a debate about science, it's about religion and philosophy." World Magazine, 30 November 1996
"The Intelligent Design movement starts with the recognition that 'In the beginning was the Word,' and 'In the beginning God created.' Establishing that point isn't enough, but it is absolutely essential to the rest of the gospel message." Foreword to Creation, Evolution, & Modern Science (2000)

"Our strategy has been to change the subject a bit so that we can get the issue of intelligent design, which really means the reality of God, before the academic world and into the schools." American Family Radio (10 January 2003)

And, what would these creationst's teach as "intelligent design?"

Nothing- they have nothing. Again in their own words;

Phil Johnson;

"I also don't think that there is really a theory of intelligent design at the present time to propose as a comparable alternative to the Darwinian theory, which is, whatever errors it might contain, a fully worked out scheme. There is no intelligent design theory that's comparable. Working out a positive theory is the job of the scientific people that we have affiliated with the movement. Some of them are quite convinced that it's doable, but that's for them to prove...No product is ready for competition in the educational world." Berkley Science Review (Spring 2006).

Paul Nelson;

"Easily the biggest challenge facing the ID community is to develop a full-fledged theory of biological design. We don't have such a theory now, and that's a real problem. Without a theory it's very hard to know where to direct your research focus. Right now we've got a bag of powerful intuitions, and a handful of notions such as "irreducible complexity" and "specified complexity" - but as yet no general theory of biological design." 2004, "Touchstone Magazine" interview.

They got nothin'

Dr_Gary_Hurd writes:

My personal favorite part of the Dover trial was Mike Behe's cross-examination by Eric Rothschild on day 12 of the Dover trial. Behe had repeatedly claimed (like most ID creationists) that their "theory" was modeled, or implemented by archaeologists. Behe was forced to admit that there was no such similarity, and he lamely insisted that "it works in science fiction movies." This was noted by Judge Jones who realized that "science fiction" was not "science," and neither was ID creationism.

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/dover...

RickK writes:

Lee said: "You’re way off base, Rick. Those who favor a literal Genesis, generally oppose the ID concept."

LOL!!

Right. Maybe the average Louisiana Baptist parishioner wouldn't support your supposedly secular ID. But the people who are keeping the ID "manufactroversy" alive would stop all ID support if they could achieve their real goals - Christianity in schools.

The Discovery Institute is far and away the leading advocacy group for Intelligent Design.

The Discovery Institute has clearly stated its mission in "The Wedge Strategy", the document written by Phillip Johnson and Stephen Meyer. They said "design theory" was one of the tools they'd promote:

"* To defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural and political legacies.
* To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God."

Sure Lee - that doesn't sound much like a Christian religious agenda, does it?

Let's talk about who FUNDS Intelligent Design advocacy. Science boosters (sarcasm) like: Howard F. Ahmanson, Jr. - radical Christian Reconstructionist and major contributor to anti-evolution legislation, anti-evolution school board policy, and to Intelligent Design advocacy. Or The Mclellan Foundation, promoting the infallibility of scripture.

Former members of the Discovery Institute say that its mission is Christian conservatism.

Intelligent Design is kept alive by people who want to erode naturalism in science to make room for the Christian God.

Discovery Institute fellow William Dembski says it quite well: "The job of apologetics is to clear the ground, to clear obstacles that prevent people from coming to the knowledge of Christ. And if there's anything that I think has blocked the growth of Christ [and] the free reign of the Spirit and people accepting the Scripture and Jesus Christ, it is the Darwinian naturalistic view.... It's important that we understand the world. God has created it; Jesus is incarnate in the world."

In practice, Lee, Intelligent Design is just another branch of Christian apologetics.

As for your statement: "Government funding, academic tenure, and the ability to publish in scientific journals are non-existent."

I must LOL again, even louder.

Lee, how much money is available for someone who can ACTUALLY convincingly prove the hand of a designer in nature? Think about it.

If ID had anything, it would get funding. Stop playing the victim when you know very well that actual scientists capable of proving the supernatural would have access to some of the largest funding sources in the world.

ID fails for lack of SCIENCE. ID fails for lack of EVIDENCE. ID fails in SPITE of the billions available from Christians who would dearly love to prove God exists.

ID only succeeds as religious apologetics and as a political rallying point for stealth religiously-motivated legislation like we're discussing here.

leebowman writes:

- - “As for the Kitzmiller v Dover trial, the shining lights of ID had their say in court. They had the chance to educate Judge Jones and the public. Dr. Michael Behe, who wrote that his discovery of "irreducible complexity" places him among the ranks of scientists like Newton, Lavoisier and Darwin, had his chance to illustrate the greatness of his discovery to the Judge.”

First, he claimed no exclusivity in the work. He ranked the ‘cumulative effort’ as significant. Citation, emphasis mine:

- - “The result of these CUMULATIVE EFFORTS to investigate the cell - to investigate life at the molecular level, is a loud, piercing cry of "design!" The result is so unambiguous and so significant that it must be ranked as one of the greatest achievements in the history of science. The discovery rivals those of Newton and Einstein, Lavoisier and Schroedinger, Pasteur and Darwin …

… the magnitude of the victory, gained at such great cost through SUSTAINED EFFORTS over the course of DECADES … (PG 232,233)

And moreover, do you expect one man to defend a scientific concept, when faced with a legal barrage of that caliber?

• Leading the witness, with questions like “Under that same definition astrology is a scientific theory under your definition, correct?” When he conceded that it was an archaic theory, and not one to consider today, he was later extensively quote-mined, leaving off his disclaimer and thereby degrading his alleged perusal of science.

• Theatrics by piling a stack of books on the table in front of him, which caused him to have to peer around it, making unsubstantiated claims for their content, and garnering chuckles from the gallery.

• And frankly, grilling him intensively on a variety of historic and current scientific issues.

You claim that - - “He failed. His arguments failed, and his evidence failed.“

Gee, I can’t wait to see Lawrence Krause defend the Big Bang Theory in a Court of Law

Truly, is that the way science is assessed? I’ve heard that the US is lawyer crazy, and in a way, this proves it.

leebowman writes:

@ Dr_Gary_Hurd, 7:52

- - “Intelligent Design Creationism has no basis in fact. The principle advocates have always had to admit this.”

Ref: Behe, Dembski, Johnson, and Nelson citations.

Those citations which have been circulated ad nauseum around the Internet are based on personal beliefs, not on ID research, and thus have no relevance in this debate.

Religious views do not predicate ID research, although in light of the evidence, they may well follow. You know of course where Dembski was speaking when he made the ‘Logos … of John’s gospel restated.” At a religious gathering.

And yes, as stated by Nelson and Johnson (1996), ID is not yet a developed theory, but nobody claims that it is (or was in 1996). It is actually an adjunct or alternative hypothesis for RM – NS. And as such, it fits the evidence.

By the way, there are few today, less the ID slammers, the tout the IDC conflation. You kind of gave yourself away ... ;~)

leebowman writes:

Dr_Gary_Hurd, 8:01

And after that may hours of intensive questioning you, me or Lawrence Krause likely wouldn’t have done any better. But the ‘science fiction’ remark was for humor, rather than an endorsement. Nobody questioned Rothschild’s remark of “I didn't take your deposition in the 1500s, correct?” So I guess except for Behe, humor is allowed.

By the way, a good characterization of Judge Jones was in the Nova flick. He spent quite a lot of his time smiling, but he often had that puzzled look as he perused the in flowing data. At the end of the day, he would have flunked a ten minute quiz.

I’ll repeat it for those that may have missed it:

You don’t base the veracity of a yet unexplored field of study by grilling a working scientist, and then later quote mine his words on the Internet, and then bring up and laugh at an apparent miscue (above), or cite humor as fact.

That trial made fame, fortune and big bucks for many, not to mention honorary degrees and a ranking in the 100 Most Influential People [Time Mag 2006], and multiple paid speaking engagements for Judge Jones. But for the rank and file, the working engineers and scientists, and the populous in general, no, science took a step backward.

firstmagnitude writes:

I emailed State Rep. Bill Dunn two days ago asking why Tennessee is always ranked in the bottom 10 in education compared to the rest of the nation? I also asked him how this piece of legislation (HB 368 ) was going to help Tennessee Education become higher ranked. So far, I am still waiting for a response.

Andromeda writes:

I don't understand why evolution is such an offensive subject to those that believe in creationism. Why not look at it as, "evolution was God's first draft at making humans before Adam and Eve". Creationists have no problem thinking of evolution as a "theory" anyway. (I’m not sure how dinosaurs fit into Creationist’s views either way.) With all of the inconsistencies related to God and the Bible, what's one more?

No matter how you sugar coat it, "intelligent design" is a Creationist theory, which denotes a belief in a God as the master designer of the world and its people, and God is religion. Religion does not belong in the public school system because of the diversity of people's beliefs. That's what church is for. It's too volatile for debate or rational discussion, intellectually or otherwise among people with differing ideas. History has proven this over and over. Religion, or Faith, also has no merit in public schools as a scholarly debate because it has no basis in fact. Faith is not the same as fact. That's why it's called "faith".

Why is Church, or Church groups, not enough of a forum to debate whether evolution diminishes an individual’s belief in religion without having to manipulate political legislation to insinuate a religious view into the school system no matter how benign the bill appears? If a person is secure in their own belief, I see no reason to be so defensive, let alone push that belief onto someone else. Why does it bother Creationists whether or not other people have the same beliefs?

I don't think there is another subject that creates the same feelings of hostility as the subject of religion. It's the only place where diversity is not accepted. I've seen intolerance in almost every religious denomination including among Atheists.

Instead of debating the merits of evolution vs. creationism, maybe religious leaders should work on tolerance, and leave politicians to work on social issues that affect everyone such as the economy.

Personally, I am secure enough in what I believe to not really care if someone believes something different. I don’t feel the need to explain my views to others, or to insist to someone else that their views are wrong. So why should Creationists be critical, dismissive, or defensive when it comes to evolution just because it doesn’t fit neatly into their views? If you’re a person of Faith, it really shouldn’t matter.

HumanApe writes:

"ID is NOT creationism."

leebowman, what's the point of being a pathological liar when everyone knows you're lying? I know you Christians are morally corrupt but why this constant lying about your own childish fantasies?

Magical Intelligent Design Creationism is identical to Magical Bible Creationism. The only difference is the theocrats who are trying to destroy science education to accommodate their dead Jeebus like to use code words like "design" when they really mean "supernatural magic".

You're not fooling anyone, leebowman. Calling magic by another name doesn't make it any less idiotic.

Grow up or shut up.

http://darwinkilledgod.blogspot.com/

HumanApe writes:

Andromeda wrote: Why not look at it as, "evolution was God's first draft at making humans before Adam and Eve".

You are saying "Why not pollute biology with childish idiotic religious fantasies."

That's a disgusting idea. Also you are insulting Christians. You are saying they're too stupid to accept a basic scientific fact without sticking magic into it.

Sucking up to religious insanity is immoral. Christians need to understand they can't pollute biology or any other branch of science with their fantasies without being ridiculed.

The choice is science or magic. If you choose magic or if you choose both magic and science then you're insane.

http://darwinkilledgod.blogspot.com/

gestault writes:

Critical thinking is such a great tool... Spread the wealth on that exercise if you plan to use it though...say, for comparative religions classes? My guess is that the exercise would stop short on the last religion they get tested on...

wataugariver writes:

Perhaps this "critical thinking 'bout creation" bill by Rep. Bill "Circular Reasoning" Dunn will actually end up being good secular legislation - imagine a classroom discussion wherein during a lecture to students gathered in a science class is the following "critical thinking" discussion about the fallacy of circular reasoning ("...an argument that uses its conclusion as one of its premises is most often called "begging the question" or circular reasoning"):

"But is there a God?"

"Yes."

"How do you know?"

"Because the Bible says so."

"How do you know the Bible is correct?"

"Because it was inspired by God."

In this fallacy, the premise, the Bible’s statement that God exists, derives its authority from the attempted conclusion, the existence of the God who allegedly wrote the Bible."

Thus, the entire biblical account of creation is grounded on the fallacy of circular reasoning.

George Carlin ~ The American Dream
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acLW1v...

Andromeda writes:

HumanApe wrote: You are saying "Why not pollute biology with childish idiotic religious fantasies."

Not at all. I'm taking an "agree to disagree" stance for the sake of rampant intolerance. I don't want someone else force feeding me or my children religion, but on the same note, I don't feel it's necessary to force my views on other people.

HumanApe also wrote: Also you are insulting Christians. You are saying they're too stupid to accept a basic scientific fact without sticking magic into it.

You are the one insulting Christians. I never said anyone was stupid for what they believe. Hitting people with all the science in the world is not going to change what they feel is right for them. Religion is not something you can rationalize, and to use wording such as, "childish idiotic religious fantasies" is not going to open a practical discussion.

You make my point for me, I don't think there is another subject that creates the same feelings of hostility as the subject of religion. Your post is very hostile. Why do you feel the need to call people who believe in God insane? It's not my job or yours to change or challenge religious people, and you will never make an effective argument if you insult people. Religion is too deep rooted, and people hold firm to their beliefs.

I wrote: Personally, I am secure enough in what I believe to not really care if someone believes something different. I don’t feel the need to explain my views to others, or to insist to someone else that their views are wrong. Perhaps you didn't read my entire post.

For many, religion is an important part of their lives and has been for generations. People who believe in God outnumber people that don't by too wide a margin. Who are we to insist that what they have believed their entire lives is wrong? People are entitled to their own opinions, and to draw their own conclusions. Why does it bother you if someone believes something differnt? Why do you feel the need to take something that someone else feels so strongly about and ridicule them for it?

Dr_Gary_Hurd writes:

Lee Bowman claims that, “academic freedom is my passion.” I don’t know whether to laugh, or snarl. Come to think on it, snarl is more appropriate. Mr. Bowman is an advocate for teaching creationism in schools. He is also a sloppy thinker, and reader. (Alternately, he misrepresents other posts on purpose). For example, he dismissed the clear assertions of religious intent from all the major ID creationism leaders, say that they were out dated. For example, he claimed falsely that Phillip Johnson, and Paul Nelson admitted that there is no ID theory in 1996. This was (as I cited) in 2006 by Johnson, and 2004 by Nelson. Were these statements even older, no ID creationists have ever retracted their clear assertions of religious doctrinaire goals, and motivations for ID creationism.

Bowman then lies about Behe’s testimony in the Dover trial, asserting falsely that Behe was attempting humor. Here is the transcript;

Dover, Behe Cross Examination, Afternoon Day 12;

(Rothschild) Q. So if the strength of an inference depends on the similarities, this is a pretty weak inference, isn't it, Dr. Behe?

(Behe) A. No, I disagree completely. Again if something showed strong marks of design, and even if a human designer could not have made it, then we nonetheless would think that something else had made it. Lots of science fiction movies are based on scenarios like that, and again the, I think the similarities between what we find in designed objects in our everyday world and the complex molecular machinery of the cell have actually a lot more in common than do explosions we see on earth such as cannon balls and so forth and the explosion of an entire universe, and that induction seems to have been fairly successful in trying to explain some features of the world. So I think it's not at all uncalled for to make a similar induction in this case.

Q. Science fiction movies are not science, are they, Professor Behe?

A. That's correct, they are not. But they certainly try to base themselves on what their audience would consider plausible within the genre, so they can offer useful illustrations at some points, for some points.

Obviously, Behe is floundering in his self contradictions, and searching for an “way out.”

Dr_Gary_Hurd writes:

And, in direct contradiction to Lee Bowman's false claims regarding astrology which Behe defended as a “science,” here is a relevant portion of that testimony:

Q (Rothschild) And using your definition, intelligent design is a
16 scientific theory, correct?
17 A (Behe) Yes.
18 Q Under that same definition astrology is a
19 scientific theory under your definition, correct?
20 A Under my definition, a scientific theory is a
21 proposed explanation which focuses or points to physical,
22 observable data and logical inferences. There are many
23 things throughout the history of science which we now think
24 to be incorrect which nonetheless would fit that -- which
25 would fit that definition. Yes, astrology is in fact one,
1 and so is the ether theory of the propagation of light, and
2 many other -- many other theories as well.

And a moment later,

Q But you are clear, under your definition, the
7 definition that sweeps in intelligent design, astrology is
8 also a scientific theory, correct?
9 A Yes, that’s correct. And let me explain under my
10 definition of the word "theory," it is -- a sense of the
11 word "theory" does not include the theory being true, it
12 means a proposition based on physical evidence to explain
13 some facts by logical inferences. There have been many
14 theories throughout the history of science which looked good
15 at the time which further progress has shown to be
16 incorrect. Nonetheless, we can t go back and say that
17 because they were incorrect they were not theories.

leebowman writes:

@ 4:40, Dr_Gary_Hurd wrote:

“Lee Bowman claims that, “academic freedom is my passion.” I don’t know whether to laugh, or snarl. Come to think on it, snarl is more appropriate. Mr. Bowman is an advocate for teaching creationism in schools.“

Care to provide a citation? I’ll send you $100.00 for every quotation by me that states that I favor “teaching creationism in schools” (or anywhere). And if you can supply none, ever heard the term libel?

“He is also a sloppy thinker, and reader. (Alternately, he misrepresents other posts on purpose). For example, he dismissed the clear assertions of religious intent from all the major ID creationism leaders, say that they were out dated. For example, he claimed falsely that Phillip Johnson, and Paul Nelson admitted that there is no ID theory in 1996. “

I had written: “And yes, as stated by Nelson and Johnson (1996), ID is not yet a developed theory.”

Typing off the cuff and by memory, I meant to type: “And yes, as stated by Nelson and Johnson AS EARLY AS 1996, ID is not yet a developed theory.” I was referring to the ‘Mere Creation Conference’, DI’s first, where I had read that they both alluded to ID not being ‘not yet developed’.

In short, I was only summarizing the ID state of affairs, and not referring to the little copy and pastes that you had cited, which I only referenced in passing as being widely cited. Reread the comment at 9:44 to realize that it was only a summation.

But that’s OK, feel free to harp on whatever trivialities you can find to try and make your sophomoric points.

leebowman writes:

@ 4:46, Dr_Gary_Hurd stated:

“in direct contradiction to Lee Bowman's false claims regarding astrology which Behe defended as a “science,” here is a relevant portion of that testimony”

Exactly what ‘false claims’ are you referring to? I had stated [April 6, 9:12] that Rothschild.

• Led the witness

• That Behe stated that it fit the
‘definition’ of theory, but that it was
‘dated’ and ‘false’.

• And that Behe was extensively ‘quote mined’ to make it look like he accepted astrology as a ‘valid’ theory, i.e. one that is true.

This raises a question. Are you implying that Behe ‘accepts’ astrology as viable? All you did was copy and paste some testimony, w/o further comments. But your obvious implication is that yes, Behe accepts astrology as ‘valid science.’ In my next comment, let’s analyze the testimony. Emphasis mine, to highlight the essentials.

leebowman writes:

Q - Under that same definition ASTROLOGY IS A SCIENTIFIC THEORY, under your definition, correct?

A - Under my definition, a scientific theory is a PROPOSED explanation which focuses or points to physical, observable data and logical inferences. There are many things throughout the history of science which we now THINK TO BE INCORRECT which nonetheless would fit that definition. Yes, ASTROLOGY IS IN FACT ONE, and SO IS THE ETHER THEORY of the propagation of light, AND MANY OTHER THEORIES as well.

Here, Behe clearly states that it was a ‘dated’ theory, we now know to be ‘incorrect’.

Q - The ether theory of light has been DISCARDED, correct?

A - THAT IS CORRECT.

Q - But you are clear, under your definition, the definition that sweeps in intelligent design, [that] ASTROLOGY IS ALSO A SCIENTIRIC THEORY, CORRECT?

A - Yes, that's correct. And LET ME EXPLAIN, under my definition of the word "theory," it is -- a sense of the word "theory" DOES NOT INCLUDE THE THEORY BEING TRUE, it means a proposition based on physical evidence to explain some facts by logical inferences. There have been many theories throughout the history of science WHICH LOOKED GOOD AT THE TIME WHICH FURTHER PROGRESS HAS SHOWN TO BE INCORRECT. Nonetheless, WE CAN’T GO BACK AND SAY THAT BECAUSE THEY WERE INCORRECT, THEY WERE NOT THEORIES. So many many things that we now realized to be incorrect, INCORRECT theories, are NONETHELESS theories.

The preceding paragraph that should clear up any misunderstanding of Behe’s take on astrology.

• The term ‘theory’ is a proposition based on physical evidence [which of course is the data available at that time, and subject to interpretation, which may later be revised]

• Classifying something a ‘theory’ does not make it true.

• Many theories “looked good at the time”, but were later shown to be incorrect.

• We can’t go back and say that ‘because’ they are now known to be incorrect, that they were not theories [Agreed. Not all theories are ‘correct’, but nonetheless fit the definition of theory.]

So please enlighten me about my “false claims about astrology"!?

• I made no false claims

• Behe defined it as a scientific theory (compared to other dated theories), but CLEARLY STATED that it was a dated (archaic), and false (discarded) theory.

So what was your point? If it was that Behe considers astrology as currently ‘valid’ science, then you have joined the ranks of QML’s, (quote-mining liars), who’s aim is to discredit a working scientist unjustly. And yes, quote mining is a blatant form of lying.

RickK writes:

Ancient peoples saw the rhythm of the tides and attributed it to an intelligent designer. When a tsunami came, they thought the designer was angry.

Aristotle saw the movement of the stars and planets and was certain it was the work of an intelligent designer. He worked out an elaborate system of moving spheres to describe it.

Newton realized that gravity, not the hand of God accounted for the motion of the planets, but he was CERTAIN that only an intelligent designer could have set it in motion.

People in the 1500s were certain that the plagues and diseases were the work of an intelligent designer.

Schizophrenic behavior was seen as possession by an intelligent agent - a demon or whatever cultural equivalent fit the person.

Epilepsy was seen as possession by a divine intelligence.

The placement of the Earth's land masses was thought to be the direct work of an intelligent designer. And earthquakes and volcanoes signaled the designer's displeasure.

Every discovery ever made by humanity turned out to be... NOT magic, NOT the work of a tinkering "designer".

Now Lee Bowman believes, in spite of this unbroken record of failure, that ID researchers have found the Intelligent Designer in the spinning flagellum that drives bacteria through water.

The poor Intelligent Designer - once He moved the stars, and now he diddles with the hair on a germ's bum.

But thanks to people like Lee Bowman, Intelligent Design is still hanging on... by a thread.

RickK writes:

Oh, and Lee - I'm sure you're right. I'm sure Michael Behe had no intention whatsoever to compare himself to Newton or Darwin in the minds of the reader.

Yep, I'm sure you're right.

[Fighting truth is a losing battle. Don't you ever get tired? ]

leebowman writes:

Hmmmm,

How about a new TV series by that name?

"Hanging By a Thread"

I kind of like it. But ... who'll we get to play the flagellum part?!

RickK writes:

As for Behe's testimony, Lee, you missed the point - if we widened the definition of "scientific theory" to encompass Intelligent Design it would also encompass astrology.

But neither is a theory. Neither made it past hypothesis.

Evolution is a scientific theory, like relativity and plate tectonics, because it has evidence, observability, a mechanism, falsifiability, and can make accurate predictions.

Behe's definition of scientific theory is conveniently broad so as to elevate his hypothesis.

Now, I cannot wait for a teacher to spend a week teaching children EVERY "hypothesis" that is an alternative to evolution.

TEACHER: "Class, today we'll discuss the midichlorian hypothesis. Tomorrow, we'll discuss Rael. After we're finished with White Hole cosmology and the Bumba vomit hypothesis, if we still have time, we'll discuss Intelligent Design."

Oh, and Lee - you never described the null hypothesis of "Intelligent Design". What would an undesigned life form look like, and how would it differ from what we see today? Of course, Behe neglects the null hypothesis as well.

leebowman writes:

No Rick, Astrology is no longer an issue, having been relegated to the circular file. But if you INSIST on using that straw man, don’t forget to add in flat earthism and geocentricism to the mix.

Theories vary in complexity, that's why some are termed 'developed theory' 1.2 mil hits, or even 'highly developed theory', 142,000 hits. I view hypotheses as components of theories, but depending on the particular theory being rated, that can vary. But as Casey Luskin notes (link coming), ID fits the requirements of ‘theory’, but in a developmental stage. I regard it as an alternate (or adjunct) hypothesis to evolutionary processes, as I’m hearing more and more ID proponents profess.

If verified as a component, and if NS – RM is further verified as operative in upward progressions, then rather than ID being a ‘separate theory’, or one out to shoot down NDE, it merely becomes a ‘modification’ of the existing NDE, and does no harm to its furtherance and usefulness. What 'does' do harm is what follows.

As I see it, all this ranting about ID being as an isolated and unfalsifiable concept, purportedly in stanch opposition to NDE as currently stated, and coupled with the scattered (but sparse) disagreements with NDE in toto, it then appears to be an enemy of science, and something out to destroy science. Fed by the plethora of hysterics and pointless rhetoric, it’s no wonder.

Passing legislation like this Bill is one small step for man, but one giant leap for science. You can quote me …

And regarding ‘null hypotheses’, go to Casey’s blog, and feel free to join their debate.
http://www.evolutionnews.org/2011/03/...

leebowman writes:

Correction:

"One small step for academia, one giant leap for science."

Cheers

leebowman writes:

Breaking News:

House Bill HB368 Passes the House, 70 - 28

http://news.sciencemag.org/scienceins...

Dr_Gary_Hurd writes:

Lee Bowman,

Your heroes are exposed and all you can do is squeal, and deny.

I personally look forward to a second "Dover." If Tennessee has a few million dollars to waste on a losing trial- so much the better. The next time I hope that Dembski, and the rest of the discotutes, will not be able to weasel out of testifying like they did at Dover. It is about time Dembski earns the $20,000 he took in fees from Dover.

jdayer writes:

This is hilarious. If you read the editorializing that went on during the original argument over teaching the theory of evolution and compare it to the current controversy the arguments are near verbatim and reversed. Idiots will always refuse to teach alternate and controversial ideas to students and they will always use the same excuse, "it will confuse them".
Some idiot declared a 5,000 year old burial site the burial of a homosexual because the burial ritual differed from normal practices. There was no "Rosetta Stone" allowing the archeologist any evidence of homosexuality, the only evidence was a variance in burial customs. A hundred years ago the site would probably have been thought to be a "shaman", "medicine man" or "witch doctor" of some kind.
Uneducated people always allow popular culture to interfere with their interpretation of facts and the process of critical thinking. Today the evolution of man, which is still only a theory, is taught as a fact. The interpretation of archeological and anthropological evidence is biased based on variations in popular culture. In my opinion the average person with an undergraduate degree cannot tell the difference between a fact, "John Doe ran 100 yards in 6 seconds", and an opinion, "John Doe ran fast". How many undergrads think Gravity is a fact? How many insisting we maintain the status quo in the instruction of evolutionary theory will work to challenge a popular belief the way Darwin or Galileo or Einstein did?

RickK writes:

Lee Bowman and jdayer,

What is going on here is a religiously-backed advocacy group bypassing the scientific process and going right for our children. Lee, you're a big supporter of this approach. And your position is made all the more clear when you repeatedly use Casey Luskin, a lawyer with no background whatsoever in biology or evolution, as your "go-to" source for information.

This is no different than the "smoking is good for you" campaign that Big Tobacco ran in the 60s - subverting science in the eyes of the public (in this case, CHILDREN) to promote a special interest agenda.

Remove fundamentalist Christian creationist support, and "Intelligent Design" vanishes like a puff of cigarette smoke in a hurricane.

Bills like this allow religiously-minded teachers to say "we know how most things evolved, but we don't yet know how a few things could have evolved, so it could have been a 'Designer'". Without one definitive piece of evidence EVER that the supernatural exists, now it can enter the science classroom unchecked by the burden of proof.

As a parent, it is difficult for me to express how thoroughly I condemn the "go for the children" approach of you and the Discovery Institute, Lee.

RickK writes:

jdayer said: "Today the evolution of man, which is still only a theory, is taught as a fact."

Oh my gosh - the "only a theory" cliche again?!?

Plate tectonics is only a theory, not a fact - just ask the Japanese.

E=MC^2 is only a theory - again, go ask any older residents of Hiroshima if it is a fact or not.

jdayer - playing around with the word "theory" accomplishes nothing but to place you at the less educated end of the creationist spectrum.

It is a fact that current species evolved from earlier species, through the natural mechanisms of reproduction, variation and selection over time. It is a fact that most (probably all) life on Earth shares common ancestry. These are proved beyond any reasonable doubt by confirming evidence found in: shared & divergent morphology, co-evolved relationships, convergent evolution, observed speciation, Lenski experiments, shared DNA, inherited ERV markers, molecular biology, vestigial traits, atavisms, genetic mutation, embryology, the fossil record, paleontology, archaeology, transitional species predictions, radiometric dating, dendrochronology, thermoluminescence dating, ice core dating, biostratiography, archaeogenetics, biogeography, plate tectonics, geology, chemistry, and physics. Any competing "theory" must explain all these BETTER than the current equation of replication+variation+selection+time.

Only someone blinded by special interests can ignore all that evidence, then point to the spinning hair on a bacteria's butt and say "THERE! There's proof of divine intervention!"

OMG - It would be so laughably funny if it weren't that these special interests are influencing public school education.

And as someone who works in a very international profession, I can tell you that other countries ARE laughing at us for this, just as many other states are laughing at Tennessee.

But I'm not laughing. I think this bill, its motives and its implications, are deplorable and sad.

PScheffler writes:

in response to RickK:

As for the Kitzmiller v Dover trial, the shining lights of ID had their say in court. They had the chance to educate Judge Jones and the public. Dr. Michael Behe, who wrote that his discovery of "irreducible complexity" places him among the ranks of scientists like Newton, Lavoisier and Darwin, had his chance to illustrate the greatness of his discovery to the Judge.

He failed. His arguments failed, and his evidence failed.

The only thing that made the Kitzmiller trial unfair to Intelligent Design was that the trial took place in an evidence-based court.

Now, you may want the freedom, Lee, to teach topics in science class that fail every time they're subjected to an evidence test. But that is not in the best interest of our children.

-----

If you REALLY wanted to teach critical thinking, you wouldn't cherry pick a few topics that YOU think are controversial (but which scientists don't). One does not teach critical thinking by picking a few pet topics and criticizing them.

A real critical thinking course would teach children how to evaluate evidence, would teach basic statistics, and would teach them how to recognize and counter common logical fallacies. A real critical thinking course would not use lobbying materials from the Discovery Institute. It would use books like:

"Don't Believe Everything You Think"
"Predictably Irrational"
"How We Know What Isn't So"
"The Demon-Haunted World"

And, a real critical thinking course would look at a wide range of topics: the existence of the supernatural, ghosts, John Edward's communing with the dead, media bias, evolution, global warming, MOND, dark matter, the historicity of Gilgamesh, Alexander, Moses, whatever. A huge range of topics are available to which children can really apply their newly improved critical thinking skills.

Methinks the same people promoting critical thinking as applied to evolution might just balk at promoting a course like I just described. Anyone who supports this bill, but doesn't support the course outlined above should question their motives.

I especially like the second half of RickK's April 6, 2011 6:37 p.m. comment about how this law creates (probably not intelligently but by accident) opportunities for teaching critical thinking in many contexts. I think if we encourage critical thinking the students will end up far better educated than if we simply try to give them all the details of what we currently think are the best theories for explaining the physical world.

Dr_Gary_Hurd writes:

in response to jdayer:

This is hilarious. If you read the editorializing that went on during the original argument over teaching the theory of evolution and compare it to the current controversy the arguments are near verbatim and reversed. Idiots will always refuse to teach alternate and controversial ideas to students and they will always use the same excuse, "it will confuse them".
Some idiot declared a 5,000 year old burial site the burial of a homosexual because the burial ritual differed from normal practices. There was no "Rosetta Stone" allowing the archeologist any evidence of homosexuality, the only evidence was a variance in burial customs. A hundred years ago the site would probably have been thought to be a "shaman", "medicine man" or "witch doctor" of some kind.
Uneducated people always allow popular culture to interfere with their interpretation of facts and the process of critical thinking. Today the evolution of man, which is still only a theory, is taught as a fact. The interpretation of archeological and anthropological evidence is biased based on variations in popular culture. In my opinion the average person with an undergraduate degree cannot tell the difference between a fact, "John Doe ran 100 yards in 6 seconds", and an opinion, "John Doe ran fast". How many undergrads think Gravity is a fact? How many insisting we maintain the status quo in the instruction of evolutionary theory will work to challenge a popular belief the way Darwin or Galileo or Einstein did?

@jdayer,

Re: Burial Practices

The burial was an anatomically male individual, and he had been buried in a posture, and with grave goods exclusively associated with females in his culture. What else could you suggest that can account for this that has any reference to the actual data?

Re: Human Evolution

We have conclusive data, both fossil, and genetic which demonstrates the evolutionary path of humans for over the last 8 million years. You can examine this for yourself on-line at;

Institute of Human Origins
http://iho.asu.edu/

or,

Smithsonian Program on Human Origins
http://humanorigins.si.edu/

Dr_Gary_Hurd writes:

@RickK and Pscheffler,

Unfortunately, the promoters of this and similar bills have no intention to teach “critical thinking.” They cynically want creationist dogmas substituted for science.

Michael B. Berkman and Eric Plutzer recently published their research which showed that only 23 percent of American high school science teachers felt competent, and confident teaching evolutionary biology. Sixty percent felt intimidated, and 18% were actively creationists. In conservative school districts, up to 40% of HS science teachers were creationists.

RickK writes:

PScheffler,

I hope you're right. I hope that one teacher in Tennessee is willing to risk getting shunned by their town and actually DOES use this bill to teach critical thinking.

"Class, we're going to talk about alternative, non-scientific explanations for creation and evolution. Since science deals with evidence in the natural world, we're going to talk about the alternatives - namely, the supernatural. Who here can list things they think are "supernatural"?"

"That's right, ghosts, afterlife, gods, demons... all good examples. Now, let's have a serious discussion about the evidence supporting the existence of these things..."

When little Sally comes home that night to explain that the science teacher explained there's no actual evidence of a supernatural God - just a bunch of conflicting stories from different cultures, all pretty much sounding like they were made up by the authors - Sally's parents will throw a fit.

And the teacher can wave this bill in the face of the parents and school board who criticize him for daring to question the existence of god(s) in science class.

And if that teacher gets into the press for fighting the good fight, I promise to personally write a $1000 check to them (which is a pittance compared to what I give to our church).

MattHorns writes:

One of the main differences between societies in Afghanistan and in the western world is that they still largely cling to superstitious ignorance, and we have evolved into a society that largely embraces reason, logic, and science. These fundamentalist blow-hards represent the small segment of western society that continue to cling to superstitious ignorance.

MattHorns writes:

in response to RickK:

PScheffler,

I hope you're right. I hope that one teacher in Tennessee is willing to risk getting shunned by their town and actually DOES use this bill to teach critical thinking.

"Class, we're going to talk about alternative, non-scientific explanations for creation and evolution. Since science deals with evidence in the natural world, we're going to talk about the alternatives - namely, the supernatural. Who here can list things they think are "supernatural"?"

"That's right, ghosts, afterlife, gods, demons... all good examples. Now, let's have a serious discussion about the evidence supporting the existence of these things..."

When little Sally comes home that night to explain that the science teacher explained there's no actual evidence of a supernatural God - just a bunch of conflicting stories from different cultures, all pretty much sounding like they were made up by the authors - Sally's parents will throw a fit.

And the teacher can wave this bill in the face of the parents and school board who criticize him for daring to question the existence of god(s) in science class.

And if that teacher gets into the press for fighting the good fight, I promise to personally write a $1000 check to them (which is a pittance compared to what I give to our church).

What is your major malfunction? Public schools in the U.S. now have students raised in hundreds of different religions, each one valid in the minds of the students. No public school teacher in his or her right mind would ever say anything that would glorify one particular religion and dismiss all the rest. Any public school teacher that tries to cram their particular religion down the throat of a student is committing career suicide and is making a mockery of education.

MattHorns writes:

I have yet to read or hear a rational response from a Creationist/ID advocate to the logical question:

Who or what created your "Creator?"

And so on, and so on, in a circular endless illogical senseless argument by these Dummies

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