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Official Blog of The Family Policy Council of West Virginia

Who’s Indoctrinating Who? The Fight for Fair and Balanced Science Education in Texas

with 10 comments

A bitter battle is brewing in the Lone Star state of Texas. Just last week the Texas State Board of Education began hearing testimony for and against its proposed standards for teaching science, according to a story in the Dallas Morning News.

 

The battle is regarding how evolution should be taught. Evolution supporters want language that suggests Darwin’s theory of evolution has weaknesses removed from the teaching curriculum. While opponents of evolution who support Intelligent Design, Creationism, or just fair and balanced science education say that the current guidelines have been working and should be left alone.

 

“College professors, science teachers and pro-evolution groups urged the board to drop a rule that requires the strengths and weaknesses of Darwin’s theory to be taught in science courses, while conservative groups aligned with a sizable bloc of board members said the rule has worked well and hasn’t forced religion into those classes as critics charge…” (Check the Texas Education Agency website for further details).

 

But opponents, such as the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Executive Director for Americans United for the Separation of Church and State (AU) disagree with the current standards that allow teaching “strengths and weaknesses.”

 

“Public school should educate, not indoctrinate. The Religious Right is exploiting Texas public schools to push a narrow viewpoint and in the process is doing a great disservice to its students, not to mention undermining the mandates of our Constitution. Let’s just hope members of the Texas school board recognize the ‘strengths and weaknesses’ language for what it is. If they don’t, they could be inviting public school districts to face some costly litigation.” (Click here for full article.)

 

The above sentiments by Mr. Lynn are, in my opinion, hypocritical, oxy-moronic, and well, perhaps just plain moronic. To say that teaching views other than evolution is a “narrow viewpoint” is just ridiculous. How can it be narrow to include other viable possibilities to the earth’s creation? Is it not extremely narrow to demand that only one view be taught in schools and that all other possibilities be excluded? That seems awfully narrow to me.

 

And don’t get me wrong here. I am not pushing for one side or the other. I am simply making the argument that what seems in the best interest of students is to present them with ALL the arguments and viewpoints and then to allow them to make their own decision. I know, the idea of letting students think for themselves and make up their own minds is scary to some, such as Mr. Lynn. Why does Mr. Lynn and so many others have such a blinding desire to make sure that every student hears only about evolution and then to accept that particular “theory”?

 

Could it be that Mr. Lynn and so many others are afraid that if alternative views are taught that students just might believe one of them and throw Darwin’s theory aside; as so many scientists have already done? (Click Here for a list of scientists who have accepted the Creation account of the Bible). It seems to me that if you believe something is concrete and irrefutable that there is nothing to worry about, and if you believed in said view that was concrete and irrefutable that you would not need to worry about other alternative teachings because after all the facts and evidence is examined your particular view would come out on top.

 

So why does it seem that those who hold to the ‘theory of evolution’ are so voracious in its defense and dead set against the teaching of any other view? The only answer I can conclude is that their ‘theory’ is not quite as stable as they would like and they are afraid of all the holes that other views could possibly poke in it; views such as Intelligent Design or Creationism. (Click here for an article on Intelligent Design, or Here for an article on Creationism.)

 

What I find most interesting is the continued claim that views such as Intelligent Design and Creationism are “unscientific,” and “religious.” Consider for a moment:

 

Any belief regarding the creation and establishment of the world can, in some way, be linked to a religious viewpoint. Certainly Intelligent Design and Creationism can be linked to Christianity and other religious views. But Evolution can be linked to Atheist and Agnostic beliefs, both of which have been established, by their own proponents, as religious views.

 

To claim that one view of the universes origin is scientific and another is not is just plain ludicrous. One of science’s most fundamental principles is that of observation. So who exactly has observed the “evolution” of anything? Just as no one today was present at the creation of the earth. So the conclusion of the matter is that it is not fair to call one science without calling the others science, because, they are, as much as evolution is, just as scientific.

 

When something is called a “theory,” as evolution is, it means that it is an option, one of several. Because, if it was the only possibly explanation it would not be called a theory it would be called a fact. But the only fact here is that scientists cannot call evolution a fact, just a theory. Therefore, it cannot be said that it is concrete, perfect, and the only viable option. It is, like every theory, full of inexplicable questions and holes, far short of being called “scientific.”

I am a firm believer in Creation. Much of this has to do with my Christian background, as I am sure many others would claim. But much of it also has to do with my own study and research on the subject. For me Evolution has far too many holes in it. And in fact, in my opinion, it takes much greater faith to believe this particular theory than it does to believe that a great and mighty God created everything through His own spoken word.

 

Call me childish, call me ignorant, call me what you like. I will not try to indoctrinate anyone with my belief. I believe that when stacked against one another that creation will come out on top every time. The facts and evidence simply outweighs that of evolution.

 

But one thing is for sure. To deprive students of the scientific data available to them for any and all theories relating to the origin of the universe is truly a crime. This is, without a doubt the very essence of indoctrination. So Mr. Lynn and his pals at the AU need to stop pointing fingers at people who would like to give students a chance for a fair and balanced science education and let schools do what they were meant to do: teach.

 

The greatest thing any teacher can hope for his students is to teach them all the facts, teach them to think critically, and then allow them to make up their own mind. If a school tells students what to believe and what to say then they have not taught anyone anything. They have simply indoctrinated them and produced masters of rhetoric.

  

Further Food for Thought:

 

Atheist turned Christian Lee Strobel investigates Creationism from a skeptical, journalistic standpoint: Click Here.

 

Articles by one of the world’s foremost apologists William Lane Craig: Click here.

 

Enjoy this post?  Get more like them by subscribing to the Family Voice, the official blog of the Family Policy Council of West Virginia

 

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Written by Nathan Cherry

November 25, 2008 at 2:46 pm

10 Responses

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  1. So, are you open to other interpretations of what makes things fall? Gravity, after all, is only a theory, not a fact.
    The problem that I have with so much of the writing on this subject is a simple one: people who support the idea of evolution don’t ‘believe’ in it. They accept it as the most reasonable explanation about how the world came to be, based on the volumes and volumes and volumes of scientific evidence that support it. You believe that God created the world according to the account in Genesis. Unfortunately, you don’t have any scientific data to support this belief, so you are forced to accept it on faith. That’s why it doesn’t belong in science class. Scientists don’t ‘believe’ things, they collect data that proves or supports or debunks things.
    When someone says they support the teaching of evolution, it isn’t based on any ‘belief’ system at all, agnostic, atheistic or otherwise; it’s simply an acceptance of the preponderance of scientific evidence that supports it. Just like gravity. Lumping evolution into the world’s various creation mythos is as odd as teaching creationism in the science class, the two are apples and oranges, they just don’t equate, and that’s no theory.
    And just for the record, I do wish God had made the world. I ‘believe’ that if he had, it wouldn’t be quite such a mess. For instance, he certainly would have this joggers’ knees and ankles less prone to injury. Then again, I can’t imagine how we could have improved on the eye. I guess a telescopic setting would be neat.
    Respectfully,
    Kevin

    Kevin

    November 26, 2008 at 2:33 pm

  2. Well, evolution has nothing to do with “creation.” The theory is not concerned with how life came to be; rather, it deals with the biological processes that produce changes in organism populations over time.

    You don’t understand evolution or science, it is clear to me.

    “The above sentiments by Mr. Lynn are, in my opinion, hypocritical, oxy-moronic, and well, perhaps just plain moronic. To say that teaching views other than evolution is a “narrow viewpoint” is just ridiculous. How can it be narrow to include other viable possibilities to the earth’s creation? Is it not extremely narrow to demand that only one view be taught in schools and that all other possibilities be excluded? That seems awfully narrow to me.”

    In science, there is only one explanation for the diversity of life: evolution. There are no other scientific explanations, that is why it is a problem to teach intelligent design or creation on the same level as evolution. For one, neither ID nor creation is a scientific hypothesis supported by empirical evidence (since science is only concerned with observable phenomenon, non-observables such as God or an Intelligent Designer are not valid hypotheses). Evolution, on the other hand, has predictive power and underlies practically all of biology. The theory is extremely far reaching and exhibits incredible predictive power.

    “When something is called a “theory,” as evolution is, it means that it is an option, one of several. Because, if it was the only possibly explanation it would not be called a theory it would be called a fact. But the only fact here is that scientists cannot call evolution a fact, just a theory. Therefore, it cannot be said that it is concrete, perfect, and the only viable option. It is, like every theory, full of inexplicable questions and holes, far short of being called ‘scientific.'”

    You are equivocating the definition of theory as used in common language with scientific theory. For a hypothesis to be considered a ‘theory’ in science, it must meet a number of strict standards. A scientific theory must be a ‘testable model capable of predicting future occurrences or observations and capable of being tested through experiment or otherwise verified through empirical observation.’ Darwin did not set out to prove an idea he came up with over night; he spent years studying animal and plant life, observing the mechanisms that effectively change organism populations. His observations subsequently led him to his theory of natural selection, which is today only part of the theory of evolution (though the most important part). Many principles of evolutionary theory have been proven: micro-evolution is a scientific law. Scientists have tested the theory thousands of times, yielding results that meet predictions, thus providing greater support for the theory. It is the theory that governs biology, and is directly responsible for providing the insights necessary to produce antibiotics, pesticides and anti-bacteria, and much more. It is also important in determining the stability of species, allowing us to predict the possibility of extinctions (believe it or not, it is literally impossible for two members of a sexual species to generate large populations, thus Noah’s Ark and Adam and Eve could not have actually happened).

    Though evolutionary theory has anomalies, like any and all scientific theories do, it is also the simplest and most accurate explanation for biological processes that exists. Despite the tendency for religious people to demand immediate explanations for things, it takes time for science to provide explanations for holes in its theories. Popular belief in a theory does not replace another theory. For a new theory to replace an existing theory it must not only explain anomalies in the current theory, but also encapsulate the findings and experiments that validated the current theory. Einstein’s relativity did just this when it became the dominant theory of physics over Newtonian physics. ID and Creation do not answer any the anomalies in evolutionary theory, and neither can account for the phenomena already explained via evolutionary theory.

    “For me Evolution has far too many holes in it. And in fact, in my opinion, it takes much greater faith to believe this particular theory than it does to believe that a great and mighty God created everything through His own spoken word.”

    Again, you have obviously never studied the theory of evolution. What holes are you talking about? Why does it take more faith to believe in experienced and observed natural phenomena than that which has no scientific, experiential, or experimental justification (i.e. Great and Might God). Have you ever observed something being created from nothing? Where did God come from? Do you not think that it is a bit far-fetched to assume that everything, all the complicated and complex systems of the universe, came about simply through the word of a human-like being?

    pricegutshall

    November 26, 2008 at 3:01 pm

  3. Boy, you just don’t get it do you? Please read, and I’ll try and explain.
    First of all, evolution, or any scientific theory, is not “just one of the options”. Take gravity for instance. Is the ‘theory” of gravity just one of the options? No. how science works is scientists look at all the evidence, they study, do experiments, and in OBSERVABLE testable nature, in looking at the real world, they come up with the best fit explanation. Then they test it to see if they are right. Then they have others do the test to see if they are right! (there is no “test” for creationism, other than making up crap for which has no basis, and you just HOPE you are right. There is no basis at all for this.) When newer facts come to light (for example, proton and electron were the smallest particles, now they are not – because new experiments have found the boson, muons, you name it.) SO, your argument that ‘those evolutionists’ are just trying to push an arbitrary thought out there is ridiculous. To answer your statement, YES, they have SEEN in person evolution – there was a great article about moths evolving in the lab. There are LOTS of visible evidence for evolution. Now, there is NOT evidence for us having just been “plopped down here” by some god. If there was, we would be experimenting with it in science labs. You need to catch up on your physics facts. Matter cannot just be added. NEVER never in a lab in hundreds of years of experiments have the experiment changed and things just “appeared” or were acted on by some unknown force that eventually science could not figure out. For example, magnetism or electricity. You can’t just say “oh, some intelligent being made it happen”, so we stop looking. NO! We try and look for an answer! That is called science. That is also how we now understand those “mysterious” things called electricity and magnetism, and now it is not so mysterious. One more thing that is VERY VERY important. No other options are taught in biology class, a science class, because there are NO OTHER scientific facts pointing to other things. Yes, ID and creationism IS NOT SCIENCE, therefore it does not belong in a science class. If it is science, then you must do experiments and prove it. That has been done with evolution, is has been proven, over and over again. You just must be reading the wrong books! Or you are not taking any science classes. How do you think they study viruses and get our flu vaccine? The bird flu will only migrate to us if it EVOLVES and mutates, and becomes something that we can pass to each other. The biologists understand this, and don’t bother with your petty comments because they are busy doing something real, and are not bogged down by fairy tales.
    Oh – theory vs. fact. You don’t understand science – “Theory” is the explanation of the collection of facts! You need facts first to create the theory. Theory IS facts, you are wrong.
    See http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/id/judge.html for the judges comments on why ID is not science – he says it best. You are showing your ignorance to basic high school physics, the scientific process, and basic intelligence. If you want to go to church on Sunday, fine, but don’t bring it into science class. As one bumper sticker says, “If you don’t pray in my school I won’t think in your church”.

    m

    November 26, 2008 at 4:31 pm

  4. While Pricegutshall and Kevin make some good points, they also reveal an ignorance of what they’re critiquing, committing the very faux pas they accuse “religionists” of.

    It’s disingenuous to claim ID has not answered any of the anomalies in evolutionary theory. And it’s not true that ID has not accounted for the phenomena “already” explained “by” evolutionary theory; it’s actually accounted for a few things evolutionary theory can’t if it maintains a rigid materialist position. This position leads exactly to what fuels the controversy today: “scientists” are not allowed to think outside its own narrowly defined box; materialist, “evolutionary” scientists are forced, instead of exploring other ideas and following the evidence to its ultimate conclusion, to desperately search for “evidence” to support its hypotheses, doing direct violence to the scientific method.

    It is also disingenuous to try to fall back on micro evolution to attempt to support macro evolution. Macro evolution is simple genetic function, something already in place; it does not answer the question of beginnings or origins. Macro evolution cannot produce viable cross-species or cross-families or cross-phyla. It can only functionally survive within its own species/species type. I.e., there are no viable and reproducing crosses between cats and dogs, or chimps and humans, or carrots and rabbits, even with genetic manipulation. Though we’re working on it. Which begs the question of ID: without our human intelligence playing God, these genetic experiments would never happen in nature — there is no natural selection mechanism to produce these kinds of “species inventions.”

    A basic ignorance of the Judeo-Christian understanding of God is demonstrated. In this system, God did not “come from” anywhere; He just always was. That’s the reason He’s “God:” He has no beginning and no end; He has no creator (which would just redundantly beg the question of where did His creator come from); He is the First Cause, the Unmoved Mover. That’s why ID can refer to an ultimate Intelligent Designer. Even though ID has not “named” “God;” it merely has made public science’s dirty little secret: the universe didn’t simply “come into being” all on its own.

    This First Cause, Unmoved Mover, Intelligent Designer is no “human-like being.” Look to some of the Nobel Prize-winning evolutionary scientists for that little silliness — panspermia, whereby life on earth was seeded by alien visitors from outer space. Again, begs the question of where did they come from: who created them?

    The God of the Judeo-Christians is; He always was, is, and always will be. He exists in Himself. The universe, as science has discovered and established through observation in the last century, originated “out of nothing” with a big bang; its CAUSE is the object of much paranoia and conflict among materialist scientists; they can’t account for it. Eloquent and brilliant as Stephen Hawking is, even he admits his theories are implausible shots in the dark with nothing but floating imagination to buoy them up. But at least they’re attempts to circumvent the realities science has established — and their true cause.

    The God of the Judeo-Christians created “because” He wanted to. He hasn’t revealed His reasoning to anyone. He does simply say that He loved his creation, mankind, so much He decided to actually take on the form of a human being (He’s God; He created everything, including human beings, WHY COULDN’T He do this?), walk among His creations as one of them, and allow them to “kill” Him so that He could rescue some of them from their hell-bent stupidity of rejecting Him out of simple ego.

    And that’s what all the fuss is about. That simple, overriding ego of some people makes them desperately search for reasons to reject Him because to accept Him means to give up most of that ego.

    Actually, through scientific advances in the last century, and continuing into this one, we are practically able to “observe” the origin of the universe, that big bang, and in biology, simple DNA and cellular structure and functioning has revealed, thanks to computer technology, the application of information theory to all of life, and the impossibility of such complicated structures ever arising from arbitrary, independent “inventions” of “evolution” to arrive at a complete and functioning, hence living, cell.

    In fact, ID has arisen precisely out of testable scientific evidence. Take Kevin’s example of the eye, for instance.

    It is unscientific to rule out causes simply because they cannot be observed, and invent “causes” that, just as much, cannot ever be observed, such as macro evolution. The reason modern, materialistic science must rule out certain causes is precisely because of their implications to humankind, and finding that unacceptable, instead “science” plays the baby’s game of hiding its eyes, thinking then it cannot be seen, thinking it is protected and safe from everything it cannot see.

    It’s interesting how today almost all fields in science are “converging” on a single piece of evidence: our universe was deliberately created, and our planet, with its life, appears with every advance in scientific observation, to have been specially positioned and conditioned anthrocentrically for us.

    All this from scientific observation, not religious dogma.

    Cathy

    November 26, 2008 at 8:35 pm

  5. […] “Who’s Indoctrinating Who?” Another blog that I am following, “Who’s Indoctrinating Who? The fight for fair and balanced science education in Texas&#8… holds that ID is on the same scientific grounds that evolution theory is. Here is a response to a […]

  6. Cathy, I have replied to your post on my blog. http://bittersweetdistraction.wordpress.com/

    pricegutshall

    November 29, 2008 at 4:57 pm

  7. Cathy,
    respectully, no, no, no.

    When did we the “Big Bang” enter into the conversation?
    The simple idea that you have to go all the way back to the foundations of the Universe to find the big remaining question of our time speaks directly to the strength of the evolutionary theory.

    I will definitely concede your point, I (and I don’t think anyone else) don’t have any idea of the state of the foundational matter that makes up our universe before the Big Bang. But I think that’s missing the point. What you call Science’s dirty little secret is not a scientific question at all, right now it’s a philosophical discussion. Maybe someday it will become a scientific one. What happened before the Big Bang beloves in philosophy or religion classes, not science classes. To suggest that we should accept ID because we don’t know what happened before the Big Bang just doesn’t cut it. To say this points towards the Aristotelian Prime Mover idea just reinforces it as a philosophical idea.

    In so many ways, you sound like an ancient hunter-gatherer, trying to explain the seasons without any knowledge of planetary motion. Confronted with completely inexplicable observations, you fall back on ‘the gods did it.’ I wish it were that simple. And one more thing, I think God is embarassed for us when we invoke his name in explaining the universe… in my world view, when people say things like that, God just shakes his head and says, “man, they’re just not looking hard enough.”

    Finally, the eye and knee are great examples of how evolution has worked and not worked. We have the eyes of carnivores, binocular, focusable and able to see across the color spectrum. Truly awesome, but totally explainable in evolutionary terms. Knees, well I go back to my earlier statements, they need a bit of refinement, maybe someplace somewhere, a child has been born with a crazy genetic mutation: knees like large wading birds. They’ll bend backwards when he/she runs, distribute weight more evenly and not tend to ‘blow out’ when you try to spin towards the basket after coming down with a rebound. Well we can hope right.

    Oh, and please don’t cheapen your thoughtful post by saying all sciences are ‘converging’ on the idea of ID. That’s just not right, and if you (as you asay) are really speaking from observation, you know you’re reaching.

    Kevin

    December 1, 2008 at 7:07 pm

  8. I have to add to my post of yesterday because I went searching for some answers about the state of the universe before the Big Bang… and lo and behold, there’s plenty. Not just speculation but scientific papers started appearing last year about the idea of the ‘Big Bounce’ which when explained well, seems rational and thoughtful and shockingly scientific. See for yourself.

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2007/07/01/what-happened-before-the-big-bang/

    Kevin

    December 2, 2008 at 6:17 pm

  9. […] Who’s Indoctrinating Who? The Fight for Fair and Balanced Science Education in Texas […]

  10. […] The Blog of the Family Policy Council of West Virginia has this post commenting on this: “A bitter battle is brewing in the Lone Star state of Texas. Just last week the Texas State Board of Education began hearing testimony for and against its proposed standards for teaching science, according to a story in the The battle is regarding how evolution should be taught.” […]


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