Creationist Wisdom #257: The Science Teacher

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the Peoria Journal Star of Peoria, Illinois. The title is Evidence overwhelming for creationism. We’ll give you a few excerpts, enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary, and some bold font for emphasis.

As a courtesy to even the most foolish letter-writers, we usually omit mentioning their name and city — but today is an exception. This line appears at the end of the letter: “Jeff Vallosio is a high school science teacher. He lives in Washington.” There is a Washington, Illinois that’s close to Peoria, so we assume that’s where the letter-writer does his teaching. We also found this through Google, which suggests that he’s at Peoria Heights High School.

Wherever he is, now you’re ready for his letter, so here we go:

Contrary to some recent Forum comments – specifically Ronald Steveson’s letter of July 26, “Science contradicts Bible” – I would reply that “Science requires the Bible” in that without a rational, ordered universe there could be no science. One must have a repeatable framework – not a random evolutionary system – in order to carry out scientific studies.

Here’s the earlier letter: Science contradicts Bible. The beginning of today’s reply sounds like the same stuff we wrote about here: Jason Lisle: All Science Is Creation Science, so we won’t repeat ourselves. The letter-writer continues:

The actual evidence opposes naturalistic origin of life and it is only by cherry-picking tidbits and tendrils of reasoning that evolution can be at all contrived. Contrary to conventional wisdom, I believe the evidence is overwhelming in favor of a creator vs. the evolutionary origin of life.

This guy is a science teacher! Let’s go on:

Natural selection operates on existing genetic information and has no ability to produce the new information necessary for an increase in complexity. Therefore, evolutionists use mutations to be the engines of change. But positive mutations that result in increased complexity are not observed. Random mutations yield changes that disrupt or reduce information.

No new information! No positive mutations. Aaaargh!! For a hint of the overwhelming evidence against this teacher, see the TalkOrigins Index to Creationist Claims, where they deal with Evolution cannot cause an increase in information.

Want more? Sure you do. Here it comes:

Biochemistry is astoundingly complex. Like a mousetrap, one part is pretty useless without the others all present and properly attached. Darwin himself admitted that transition fossils would be the death knell of his theory if not found. They have remained very elusive in the 150 years since. The fossil record is a massive example of catastrophic water burial, very definitely not an example of slow and gradual deposition. The mass of evidence leads us to the conclusion that chance, mutations and time produce disorder rather than increased complexity.

Complexity. Like a mousetrap. No transitional fossils! What fossils do exist prove Noah’s Flood! Yes, yes … Aaaargh!!

Okay, okay. We’re back under control. Let’s return to the letter:

Lest anyone think otherwise, there are numerous present-day creationists with solid scientific credentials from public institutions across the country. These include [silly list omitted]. Many past scientists were also creationists, including many who have units of measure named in their honor, e.g. Dalton, Faraday, Joule, Kelvin, Maxwell and Newton. Other famous creation scientists include George Washington Carver, Mendel, Morse and Pasteur.

Isaac Newton — who died 82 years before Darwin was born — was a creationist. Impressive! No doubt, today’s letter-writer feels that he belongs in Newton’s company. But wait — the best is yet to come:

On a positive note, there is a very professionally done and easily understood Creation Museum just a five-hour drive via I-74, immediately south of Cincinnati. You can find it online by Googling “Answers in Genesis.” Another site with lots of documentation is Creation Ministries International. Atheists may want to avoid these sites since they do present Christ as creator, savior, sustainer and the real solution to mankind’s needs. Oops, I am obviously one of those ignorant religionists. Yet I am also a 36-year public high school teacher.

Our advice to the parents of Washington, Illinois (or Peoria, or wherever this guy teaches) is this: Pull your kids out of school as fast as you can. Then get out of town, permanently. Don’t look back. Just go. Listen to your Curmudgeon. Get out now!

Copyright © 2012. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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45 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #257: The Science Teacher

  1. He had me at “One must have a repeatable framework – not a random evolutionary system – in order to carry out scientific studies.” I give up, creationism must be true.

  2. Realist1948

    WRT “The fossil record is a massive example of catastrophic water burial…”
    This “Science Teacher” should consider enrolling in an introductory geology class. He might also consider a trip to the Grand Canyon.

  3. This is where I support one of my old professors in graduate school who believed that if a science teacher did not believe in evolution he/she should have their degree rescinded. This guy needs to be removed from the science classroom. Where’s “expelled” when you need it.

  4. From your excerpts I see a non sequitur from “no ‘evidences’ for evolution” (the usual long-refuted ID sound bites) to YEC links. So the obvious question (that sadly only I will likely ask) is: Does he, somewhere, in the letter or elsewhere, state positive evidence, cherry-picked* or not, for a young Earth? I don’t mean the long-refuted “weaknesses” of radiometric dating either. I mean the thing that no anti-evolution activist in history has dared to even attempt.

    I realize that that’s a trick question, but the point is that, from the excerpts alone, he must know that there’s information out there that undermines his argument, but deliberately chooses to censor it. So it’s virtually certain that he will censor information from students.

    * His use of that phrase indicates that he has learned the art of projection better than some of the most experienced activists.

  5. retiredsciguy

    Jeff Vallosio: “I am also a 36-year public high school teacher.”

    I certainly hope he’s not a Biology or Earth Science teacher. The website linked above says he’s the “Head Coach” at Peoria Heights High School, so my guess would be Health, Biology, General Science, or Earth Science. Another example of “coach first, teacher second” at the high school level.

    Realist1948 suggests he should enroll in an intro geology class. That would be nice, but I’m afraid his brain is totally closed to receiving enlightenment. He would probably just be a pain in the ass to the prof, arguing constantly.

    Curmy, your advice to the parents of students at PHHS is sound.

  6. Realist1948: “This ‘Science Teacher’ should consider enrolling in an introductory geology class. He might also consider a trip to the Grand Canyon.”

    Why? So he can learn how to more effectively misrepresent evolution to more students? Think about it: Most students, even many Fundamentalist ones, won’t buy the YEC nonsense. So if that class makes the teacher realizes how absurd YEC arguments are, he’ll likely just use the “don’t ask, don’t tell what happened when” strategy, and let students infer their own alternative from the “weaknesses” of “Darwinism.” That’ll keep budding YECs, OECs and “pseudoskeptics” (anything but “Darwinism”) all cozy in the big tent.

  7. retiredsciguy

    Frank J, I’m afraid that Jeff Vallosio, the letter writer, is in the 25% of the population that you consider to be unswayable YECs. No amount of evidence will change his petrified mind. It’s the people reading his letter who we need to reach. Perhaps you might write a letter to the Peoria Journal Star asking Vallosio to provide the evidence that supports his assertions.

  8. Retiredsciguy: “I’m afraid that Jeff Vallosio, the letter writer, is in the 25% of the population that you consider to be unswayable YECs.”

    First, I claim that ~25% are unswayable Biblical literalists, at least half of whom are OECs (though probably mostly young life). Second, I have no doubt that Vallosio is in the less than 1% of unswayable anti-evolution activists, meaning that he’s already at least partly aware that he’s peddling nonsense. Which is why I said that a science class will probably only help him peddle evolution-denier more effectively to a larger group.

  9. Oy, messed up the formatting again. :-(

  10. Holding the line in Florida

    As a Public Middle School Science Teacher, I am sick beyond description that the Administration would let “Coach”push such crap in the classroom. Let him go to a good Christian School and pollute the minds of the kids. Wotan knows that they are sprouting like mushrooms since school choice has become the battle cry for the wacko crowd! I reckon he would have to take serious pay cut though, those Christian academies pay so well. Wonder what their last couple of seasons were like? I am sure that the Creator smiles upon his team! By the way retired sciguy I battle ignorance on the Emerald Coast near Panama City and there is a lot of it…..

  11. Some very good comments are showing up after the published letter. Perhaps the “teacher” may live to regret having exposed himself in the newspaper.

  12. I would like to ask how all my teachers, science and otherwise, managed to teach their subjects without using a Bible. With one exception (and she wasn’t a science teacher), none of my teachers brought religion into the classroom. This isn’t because I’m young. I started school in 1951.

  13. Mr. Vallosio is not a science teacher. He is a baby sitter hired by the school district to pretend to be a science teacher. His letter is appalling. And I hope he is not indicative of the level of public education in that disctrict.

  14. Frank J said:

    o the obvious question (that sadly only I will likely ask) is: Does he, somewhere, in the letter or elsewhere, state positive evidence, cherry-picked* or not, for a young Earth?

    Not to burst your ego bubble, but the very first commenter on the linked article did this very thing. He went through each of Vallasio’s so-called points and showed how each one was not positive evidence for creationism.

  15. From the Chicago Sun-Times searchable teacher salary database:
    Jeffrey Vallosio, High School Teacher, Peoria Heights CUSD 325, earning $80,087

    http://www.suntimes.com/news/education/5679128-418/illinois-teacher-and-administrator-salaries.html

  16. That’s 80 grand misappropriated.

  17. Disgraceful. Could this possibly be a prank or hoax – such as a fabricated letter using a stolen identity? I hope so for the sake of his students. It doesn’t sound like any self-respecting science teacher I’ve ever met.

  18. Perhaps someone should forward this letter to the school superintendent/principal/etc? I imagine there is nothing they can do as long as he is sticking to the curriculum within the classroom (which is questionable), but perhaps they shouuld know what he is up to outside of the classroom. Maybe they should keep an eye on him…

  19. Charley Horse

    Looks like he is not an athletic coach but a coach for a team
    participating in a National Academic Quiz Tournament.

    http://www.naqt.com/stats/school.jsp?org_id=56490

    If you click on that link and then the schools button on the left,
    it looks to me they have a zero win record. I may be misinterpreting
    that chart. Maybe someone more familiar with NAQT could review.

  20. Charley Horse

    Click the results button…not the schools button
    for the chart for his schools tournaments results.

  21. The Peoria Heights A team is okay. The B team, not so good.

  22. Oh wonderful. Apparently the creationists have decided that the theory of evolution really means that the universe is lawless and chaotic.

    And they’ve got nitwits like this “science teacher” to teach that lie to high schoolers.

    I agree with Biokid. AND the Curmudgeon. Get this guy away from the students, or convince the parents to move to another school district.

  23. Gary: “Not to burst your ego bubble, but the very first commenter on the linked article did this very thing. “

    Actually I am very grateful when someone steals my thunder. That’s reason enough to get me to click on the article. BTW, in my haste to leave the last comment, not only did I mess up the formatting I meant to write “<1%" not "~25%" when referring to the activists. If there's one point above all that I feel obligated to make, but wish everyone else would do for me, is to remind everyone not to confuse the snake oil sellers with the snake oil buyers.

  24. Frank J, I fixed your earlier comment again. The software thought it was some kind of code.

  25. retiredsciguy

    Curmy “Perhaps the “teacher” may live to regret having exposed himself in the newspaper.”

    Interesting choice of words, especially since he’s presumably a football coach.

  26. retiredsciguy

    Ok, I checked Peoria Heights HS website. Jon Adkins is the football coach (2011 record: 0-9), while Jeff Vallosio is listed simply as one of two science teachers, with no information as to what science subjects he teaches. It is apparently a very small school, with just 23 teachers on staff.

    According to Wikipedia, in 2009 Peoria Heights High School did not make Adequate Yearly Progress, with just 42% of students meeting standards on the Prairie State Achievement Examination. The school’s average high school graduation rate between 1999-2009 was 72%.

  27. Holding the line in Florida: “Let him go to a good Christian School and pollute the minds of the kids.”

    That’s another thing that annoys me to no end. Sure we can’t legally stop what anyone teaches on the parents’ dime, but it is every bit as morally wrong to misrepresent evolution in a religious school as in a public school. Maybe even more so if that school preaches “thou shalt not bear false witness.” And make no mistake, misrepresenting evolution and the nature of science, which is what anti-evolution activists do, is not the same thing as teaching Genesis in a religion class, knowing that many students already know not to take it literally.

  28. Neon Noodle, I wish this were a hoax, but I am a retired college science (chemistry, earth science) teacher from the Peoria area who has been dealing with this nonsense since I had the bad fortune to move here over 25 years ago. Vallosio is a real person who has been spouting this nonsense for years. Don’t know about the classroom. This is a bright Red area in a Blue state.

  29. Also on the faculty are geography teacher F. L. Atearth, PE teacher Ima Ohbeas, and English teacher Noah Spellyng-Here.

  30. retiredsciguy

    Frank J: “… it is every bit as morally wrong to misrepresent evolution in a religious school as in a public school.”

    Amen! And to what end? Couldn’t agree more.

  31. retiredsciguy

    KBAR: “This is a bright Red area in a Blue state.”

    As the Curmudgeon so ably demonstrates, evolution is not a Red/Blue issue. Unfortunately, religiosity has become one, however.

  32. Vassolio
    Fuel injected flaming creationist science teacher? They’re asleep at the wheel in Peoria if they’ve got people like this in their science classroom leadership positions.

  33. Twenty-three comments at the paper, none of which support this sociopath. Sad commentary on the school district.

  34. Twenty-three negative comments is huge (in a positive way) for this area. Here are the last two that are a bit off-topic, but give you an idea of what this area is like:
    “The guy is also an anti-gay bigot. He wanted to deny approval to the Washington Community High School Gay-Straight Alliance for the following reasons:
    ‘Our district shouldnt be condoning dangerous behavior. It should be finding ways to change that behavior, Vallosio said, adding, You wouldnt approve a wine-tasting or drug-sampling club because you know those activities are harmful.’
    Yup, he thinks being gay is dangerous behavior. F*cking bigot.
    He currently works at Peoria Heights High School as a science teacher. Please write to ask for his removal:
    Joe Stoner – Principal: stonerj@phcusd325.net
    Eric Heath – Superintendent: heathe@phcusd325.net
    District Address: d325@phcusd325.net
    (Vallosio does live in Washington, and his kids did attend school there, so that’s why he was able to weigh in with that school board).

  35. KBAR: “(Vallosio does live in Washington, and his kids did attend school there, so that’s why he was able to weigh in with that school board).”

    Interesting. In many (most?) cases, when someone is that radical, and that obsessed with “saving” public school science class, their own children are homeschooled or attend private Fundamentalist schools.

  36. “The fossil record is a massive example of catastrophic water burial”

    I guess this nitwit is waiting for Fred Hoyle’s tornado to blow through his penny jar and leave all the coins rearranged in chronological order, oldest coins at the bottom of the jar…

  37. Jim Thomerson

    I am an emeritus biology professor from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. We have a Secondary Education Option as part of our Biology BS program. The evolution course was (is, I hope, I retired in 1997) a requirement in this option, and I taught it a number of times. I spent a couple of lectures about creationism, because I knew our students would encounter creationism thought. I am pretty sure the teacher in question is not a product of our program.

  38. @skmarshall:

    If these people truly believed that the evidence supported a recent global flood that “rearranged” the fossils, they’d be so busy begging OECs and IDers to “see the light,” that they would not have time to whine to us “Darwinists.” Now a few still do devote some effort to “challenging” OECs and IDers, and thus could be excused as being possessed by Morton’s Demon. But the ones who know better than to disturb the big tent are surely peddling what they know ain’t so.

  39. Jim Thomerson: “I spent a couple of lectures about creationism, because I knew our students would encounter creationism thought.”

    $ to donuts that you taught the part of creationism that anti-evolution activists would surely censor. Specifically the real critical analysis.

  40. Jim Thomerson said:

    I am pretty sure the teacher in question is not a product of our program.

    Wouldn’t matter if he had. That amount of stupidity is beyond redemption. And when they’re stupid, well, Ron White said it. I don’t need to repeat it.

  41. @Gary:

    I favor a corollary to Hanlon’s Razor: Never attribute to stupidity or ignorance what can be explained as someone telling what they think is a noble lie.

    I like that because it retains a sense of “innocent until proven guilty,” yet avoids the invariable “egg on your face” when the accused rattles off some rote-memorized scientific facts or jargon that appears to contradict, to nonscientist audiences at least, any accusations of stupidity or ignorance.

  42. I’ve found his email on the Peoria Heights website. He is indeed a science teacher there at the High School.

  43. Michael Raices

    I am a spohmore at Peoria Heights High School where I have some classes where I am placed higher, such as science and english. This year I am taking chemistry with Mr. Vallosio, he is also my advisor/homeroom teacher, and my Schoolastic Bowl/WYSE coach. I know Mr. Vallosio is a christain, contray to my beliefs, but he is a great teacher. He has made so many great students better by the way he teaches, and I belive that cames from his faith. He is very disciplined and effecient. I saw above in the article that the author said to kick him out. To kick out a great man because of his beliefs is something that will not happen and will never happen to anyone any where. To simply shun someone who has sent many a student to collge, many who have younger siblings that i have classes with. Mr. Vallosio just last year lead the varsity Schoolastic Bowl team to 1000 carrer wins. I know his accomplishments come from his faith. I may not agree but I can not show this man more respect than I do. I find it an honor to be a student and quizzer under his lead. I forever will, too. the point I am trying to make is that we should no disrespect somene for their beliefs. Rather respect them for what they do, because teaching in high school is not easy, and their accomplishments. Like this comment, I did this out of respect of Mr. Vallosio.

  44. I hope this letter is a joke meant to make PHHS look bad. If not, Michael, and if you are “placed higher” in English, your whole school is a joke. A sophomore in high school should be able to spell and not write in sentence fragments and run-ons. Someday, when you flunk out of college or a job training program because you can’t write or do basic math, don’t blame society at large – blame your school.

  45. Michael Raices says: “This year I am taking chemistry with Mr. Vallosio”

    It’s possible that he could be a competent chemistry teacher, but I wouldn’t listen to anything he had to say about biology, geology, or astronomy.