Category Archives: Intelligent Design

Texas Governor: Evolution vs Creationism in Texas Schools

Governor Rick Perry’s position is that he believes in “Intelligent Design” as a matter of faith and intellect. Well, his faith is out of place (did he not swear to protect and defend the US constitution? On a bible?) and his intellect is clearly damaged by exposure to those wide open Texas spaces. Between his ears.

Here’s the story, where you can see the news bit and if you like leave a comment!
(I did.)

Notice the major blunder the reporter in this video makes: Explicitly distinguishing between creationism and intelligent design. Also, of course, the unquestioning assumption that public opinion is the arbiter of what is valid scientifically.

Texas. Jeesh.

Before and after public pressure

Before:

Irish science minister boosts antievolution blarney

The Irish minister of state for science is to appear at a launch party for a self-published antievolutionist book, according to the Irish Times (September 13, 2010). Conor Lenihan, who represents Dublin South West for Fianna Fáil in Dáil Ã?ireann (the lower house of the Irish parliament) and serves as Minister of State for Science, Technology, Innovation, and Natural Resources, is billed as launching John J. May’s The Origin of Specious Nonsense (Dublin: Original Writing, 2010) at a September 15, 2010, event in Dublin.

(source, more)

Continue reading Before and after public pressure

Just so you know … cdesign proponentsists

The blogosphere is structured like a bus of tourists heading into ever new territory being spoken to by a thousand guides with microphones in the front of the vehicle. Woe be it to any guide who points out something that the bus passed several blocks back. But sometimes it is appropriate to re-mention certain things else they fall into obscurity. Well, it’s great if certain things fall into obscurity, but not everything.

While doing a search for something else, I accidentally hit links to this particular issue, which played out quite some time ago. It is a wonderful story. Back in the Dover Trial days creationists had dropped their old label and tried to call themselves “Scientist” who proposed the new theory of life called “Intelligent Design.” In that trial, this actually became a critical issue: Is Intelligent Design a form of creationism or not? Evidence was put forth, and the judge eventually ruled that it was, and thus, since creationism was already considered by the courts to be a particular religious belief, not allowable as science content in public school classrooms.

One of the pieces of evidence was references to creationism in a will known creationist textbook called “Of Pandas and People.” The details are complicated, but suffice it to say that the ID proponents insisted that “creationism” did not have a role in Intelligent Design, as part of the theory, or as part of the community, or as part of the process of writing about it. But Barbara Forrest (author of Creationism’s trojan Horse) proved that there was a link by finding the phrase “cdesign proponentsists” in a version of the book, where someone had systematically gone through the text and replaced the term “cerationists” with the phrase “design proponents” but screwed up in this one place to get “cdesign proponentsists.”

That was actually used as evidence in the trial. One of the best descriptions of this event is by Nick Matzke at The Panda’s Thumb (click here) where he spoofs the creationists by describing “cdesign proponentsists” as a “missing link” between the era of “creationists” and “design proponents.”

So there you have it … an oldie but a goodie. Had you known about this already, I hope this reconstitutes a chuckle for you. If you had not heard of this before, well, you have now! Sometime it’s worth looking out the back of the bus to see what has been run over!

Evolution vs. Creationism: The Book

A life science teacher should not have to know about creationism to teach evolution, other than to the extent that you may cover the history of evolutionary biology, and begin in the days before science took center stage and natural philosophy was dragged off with one of those big vaudeville hooks. But, unfortunately, you do have to know something about it, about how to recognize it, how to argue with it, and about the legal and professional context of managing creationism among your students, your peers, and your bosses. One of the most important resources a life science teacher or an administrator overseeing science teaching, or for that matter a parent with a kid in school, can use is Eugenie Scott’s book, Evolution vs. Creationism: An Introduction Second Edition.
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Your letter to your child’s biology teacher

You have to tell your child’s life science teacher (or, any science teacher for that matter) that your family does not support creationism, does not want to see anyone “teaching the controversy” and that you know that “Intelligent Design” is a form of creationism. I promise you, the creationist parents of your child’s peers, and some of the creationist kids in the classroom, are not keeping their mouths shut. Why should you?

So, pursuant to this, I have composed a template for you to use as an email or letter to send to your child or ward’s life science teacher:
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Parents: Is your child’s teacher a creationist?

It happens. A very large percentage of life science teachers are creationists. In Minnesota, and Minnesota is not that unusual, about half the population or more are creationists, but among life science teachers, that number is reduced by almost one half. In other words, one in three life science teachers are creationists, although most, one would hope, only barely so.

This does not mean that creationism is being taught in the classroom. Some, perhaps many, life science teachers who are creationists know to not teach creationism in the classroom. But I find it difficult to believe that their creationism does not affect their teaching, at the very least by reducing the emphasis they place on the mortar that holds all the bricks of life science together: Evolutionary theory itself.

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What to do about Bible-thumping students in the science classroom

…. Have you ever had this happen: You are minding your own business, teaching your life science course, it’s early in the term. A student, on the way out of the room after class (never at the beginning of class, rarely during class) mentions something about “carbon dating.” This usually happens around the time of year you are doing an overview of the main points of the course, but before you’ve gotten to the “evolution module”…
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The Devil in Dover

When I go to meet the teachers or administrators at my daughter’s school, I whisper these words to each of them:

“I just want you to know that I’m involved in a number of organizations that seek to protect the quality of science education in our public schools. If you ever need any support, if you are ever getting any trouble from parents, administrators, whatever, you can rely on me to help, to put you in touch with whom you should speak, to talk to anyone you’d like me to talk to, or anything else you need.”

This recieves a nod and a side long glance that I try very hard to interpret but rarely can. Then, regardless, I follow up by whispering these words:

“Oh, and if you happen to be of the mind to push a little religion, creationism, whatever, into the classroom …. the I’ll be your worst nightmare. I’ll be the one on the other end of that career ending law suit.”

At this point, the science-supporters usually laugh heartily. The creationists also laugh. But nervously.

You may or may not have a child in school that gives you this wonderful opportunity to embarrass your son or daughter, but you can still call the principal or any of the members of the school board and let them know how you feel, as a citizen, taxpayer, and voter. And, if you like, you can do what I do periodically: Give your school principle or science teacher a gift. Today, I’m recommending a copy of a book that outlines the nightmares of being in a school system that becomes a battle ground for science education vs. creationism.
Continue reading The Devil in Dover