Thursday, December 30, 2004

Science Teaching & Methodology and Christian Fundamentalist Right

Darwinists top the censorship food chain

In the article Darwinists top the censorship food chain by Phyllis Schlafly on 27th Dec 2004, we read an article about the current attempt to install ID in US Secondary Science Classes by various school boards through out the country. To an outsider like me, it all sounds a bit "Through the Looking Glass" for a great Science Nation like the United States going through such nonsense. I can't imagine an Australian Secondary School going through such an exercise, although what happens in science class in the new Christian Schools I don't know.

She implies that, buy opposing a non scientific theory in the classroom like "Intelligent Design" anyone that does this are "The worst censors are those who prohibit classroom criticism of the theory of evolution."

Now, the opposition to this particular assertion being taught is in Science, not any other subject, and the opponents do in fact say it belongs in religion class, as such a subject would.

The students of Science must learn the first principles of science methodology. One of those principles is "in order for a theory to be scientific, it must be testable, or more correctly, it must be disprovable. In other words, there must be certain points in a theory that it resides on that if disproven, will disprove the theory. ID does not have any points in it's principle inference that can be disproved, or even proven. It is basically an opinion on complex biological systems that are difficult to follow or establish causality. It is an opinion that belongs in Religion, even if God is not directly mentioned. It certainly a good try, but doesn't make the grade. Science teachers and parents in these school districts have enlisted the help of The ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) which is leftist according to Schlafly, from her other battles on civil liberties issues. Personally I can't see what is Leftist in standing up for clear standards in science education.

Then she says quite dramatically:

The Darwinists have propped up their classroom dominance by the persistent use of frauds and flacks. The fraudulent pro-evolution embryo drawings of Ernst Haeckel littered schoolbooks for 100 years, and it took specific action by the Texas Board of Education to keep them out of current textbooks even after the New York Times exposed Haeckel's deception.

This is related with a incorrect theory by Ernst Haeckel, being "Ontology Recapitulates Phylogeny". This idea did gain some currency, however it could not be proven, and his claims for vestiginous gills in human embryo's turned out to be something entirely different to most biologists. Then, some years ago, it was reported he falsified his data. Now that is a sin in science, so that basic theory of his has been discarded. It hasn't had an effect on the edifice that is Darwin's Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection, and the modern synthesis has taken the blow in it's stride. Why is it such an issue with modern creationists.

I did a google search for "Ernst Haeckle" and all I got was a flood of Creationist sites claiming it showed how corrupt Evolution is as a theory (serves me right :-[ ), and it does no such thing. There are plenty other explanations for development of the species, which are provable and have not been falsified, The main ones concern genetics, which Haeckle and his fellow German Evolutionists had only speculation about. It is a pity, that in their efforts to debunk the theory of evolution, they fail to understand how it is constructed.

Then she says:

Many textbooks feature pictures of giraffes stretching their necks to feed high off of trees, but genetics and observed feeding habits disprove that as a basis for evolution of their long necks. Moreover, the striking beauty of the colored pattern on the giraffes illustrates that design, not merely usefulness, is what animates our world.

It seems that the inadequate development of science textbooks in Secondary Schools is responsible for the teaching of false science, and of course it is, any evolutionary biologist would have come to the same thing, that it is false, but their so their coloured pattern illustrates design. Again, she doesn't understand evolution of species, and of course, the same process "Natural Selection" that produced the long neck, also produced their pattern. To top it off, wasn't an intermediate form of Giraffe discovered, with a shorter neck?

What are these text books, I'm beginning to wander how old they are, or how old the articles are in the books. I understand textbooks run to their own market and are often made to a price. One discovers this when one goes to Uni, and discovers the exponential growth in the price of textbooks.

Again we read:

Continued censorship of criticism invites additional fraud, so evolution has suffered more embarrassments than any other scientific theory. The Piltdown man was a lie taught to schoolchildren for decades, even featured in the John Scopes Monkey Trial textbook, and only five years ago a dinosaur-bird fossil hoax was presented as true on the glossy pages of National Geographic.

Criticism of school boards attempting to place a religious idea into the science curriculum is not censorship, it's responsible parenting, and how would that encourage fraud, isn't presenting ID as a verified scientific theory a fraud? Then we go on about Piltdown man, that fraud is ancient history, and it's exposure was by scientists, and the evidence surrounding the evolution of homo sapien is even more persuasive today than it was a century ago (which it appears these creationist live), so the collapse of Piltdown as evidence hasn't even dented the established theory.

If Darwinists want to teach that whales, which are mammals, evolved from black bears swimming with their mouths open, we should surely be entitled to criticize that. Yet school libraries have refused to accept books critical of evolution, even when written by college professors.

Darwinists do not teach that, Darwin did, however, he was wrong, but it seemed reasonable at the time. That was a straw man argument that any self respecting reader would understand, but will creationists?

We need to understand that William Dembski is a college professor and his ID theory needs work to be considered a scientifically testable thesis. Being a college professor means nothing when the science is bad, and could be considered an appeal to authority, and therefore irrational. I don't know the details of what Schlafly is talking about but it does sound familiar.

Later on, we are assaulted with:

There is a strong correlation between belief in natural selection and liberal views on government control, pornography, prayer in schools, abortion, gun control, economic freedom, and even animal rights. For the most part, the schools in the blue states carried in the 2004 presidential election by U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., are strongly pro-evolution, while the red states carried by President George W. Bush allow debate and dissent.

I rest my case, what utter rot. What next, you have to demonstrate allegiance to creationism to be a member of the Republican Party? That I am in favour of Pornography and abortion because I accept The Evolution Synthesis or Darwinism. At least Schlafly is should get on well with the current President as she did with Reagan.

I would argue debate on this subject is large and well covered so how is it that she says it is not?

Clifford M Dubery Frankston, Victoria, Australia

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