Tag Archives: discovery institute

The problem with appeasement of creationists is …

..that even when you try diligently to separate the politics of religion vs. creationism and to say again and again that religion can go along its merry way as long as it stays out of the science classroom, people like Casey Luskin will still find the words in your rhetoric to accuse you of attacking religion.

Back in May, Genie Scott appeared with me and Lynn Fellman on Atheist Talk Radio, where we discussed science education. Genie is the director of the National Center for Science Education.

In a recent posting on the Discovery Institute web site, Casey Luskin makes the contrast between the National Center for Science Education’s stance, and thus of Genie Scott’s philosophy (she’s the director of the NCSE) on one hand vs. what she said in this radio interview.

Luskin specifically contrasts Genie’s statement that the NCSE’s goals are “not to promote disbelief” but rather to “help people understand evolution and hopefully accept it.” Hey, folks, that is is indeed what Genie pushes, and what the NCSE promotes, and it is classic middle-ground nice-guy science education. This is as good as it gets from the point of view of “appeasement” because it says let the religion go its own way, as long at it does not go into the classroom (see this: Accommodationists and New Atheists Sail in the Same Boat)

Luskin then contrasts that position with this quote from the same interview:

“Evolution is the scientific explanation that has the most repercussions, shall we say, for people’s worldview and religious perspective. Evolution tells you that humans share kinship with all other creatures. For some, that’s a very liberating and exciting idea, and it makes them feel one with nature and it’s empowering and so forth. For others, it’s threatening. If your view is a human exceptionalism kind of view, that humans are separate from nature and special — especially if they are special to God as in some Christian traditions, then evolution is going to be threatening to you.”

This quote was Genie’s answer to Lynn Fellman‘s question: “[A caller has asked] Why is it always evolution that seems to be under siege?”

Genie’s answer is correctly quoted above but with the last part of the quote bolded to emphasize the “threat” language, and Luskin further emphasizes the part about evolution being threatening:

Did you catch that? She just stated that evolution is “threatening to you” if you believe that humans “are special to God as in some Christian traditions.”

And, I should mention, the title of Luskin’s essay is: Eugenie Scott Claims Evolution Is Threatening to Certain Christian Traditions

OK folks, listen. There is no significant national organization involved in the evolution-creation debate that bends over backwards more to be “nice” to religion than the National Center for Science Education. But here, in Luskin’s critique, we see two important things:

1) It is not good enough. In order for Genie’s philosophy or the position of the NCSE to be considered “ok” by the Discovery Institute, the contrast that Genie talks about in her quote would have to go away. Human exceptionalism would have to be incorporated into the science or the science teaching. Evolution would have to be taught along side creationism in the classroom.

2) Luskin practices out of context interpretation and quote mining here. Strangely, he is providing the fuller context and the quote mined in the same place, so we see Genie’s de facto statement of the relationship between religion and science being converted before our very eyes as “Religious people, Evolution is threatening to you!!!”

It is hard to say that one can win under these circumstances. It is hard to support a be nice to the creationists philosophy under these circumstances. Genie Scott must be some kind of saint.