Creationist Wisdom #306: Texas Teacher

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the San Antonio Express-News of San Antonio, Texas. The title is Evolution and religious teachings complement each other. We’ll give you a few excerpts, enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary, and some bold font for emphasis.

As we usually do, we’ll omit the writer’s name and city, but beneath the letter-writer’s photo in the newspaper it says that he is “an adjunct professor for Palo Alto College,” a community college in San Antonio. Okay, here we go:

The demographics in America show we are primarily a Christian nation, and the topic of evolution and Darwinism can be a controversial one. So when discussing natural history, the approach an educator uses typically defines the success or failure of the lesson.

An inauspicious beginning. The letter-writer states up front that the religious views of the nation should have some bearing on the teaching of science. Well, in certain countries it may result in a beheading to teach science, so he’s got a point there, but this guy is talking about Texas. Let’s see where his letter goes after that introduction:

This is where I truly believe offering students multiple viewpoints of how we as a species possibly developed will pay off. In other words, let us not forget to give both sides of the argument.

Aaaargh!! Let’s read on:

Why push our views on young adults, when we are trying to teach them to create their own? In terms of Darwinism, I explain that it makes little difference what I believe as an individual or even as an academic. It is clear that there are two sides to the question of where we come from. One is from the biblical text, the story of Adam and Eve; the other, which is subscribed to by many natural historians, is evolution from simple organisms to the 21st century version of you and me. Most of us, unfortunately, believe we have to choose sides in this debate.

Yeah — why choose sides? That might require some thinking. We can’t have any of that. He continues:

We see elements of “survival of the fittest” in almost every creature on this earth; therefore, how can we not point this out as a possible explanation for our behaviors throughout history. Yet to ignore the spiritual side of human history is to lack objectivity both as an individual and as an educator. Once again, as a historian, the evidence is too extensive to ignore, leading us to believe that there is a high probability of our God being real. Not to mention, as a Christian, I strongly believe in him. So the question remains, how do we approach these conflicting views?

Yes, it’s just so confusing. Should the letter-writer teach science, or should he launch into a sermon? What’s a junior college instructor supposed to do? Here’s more:

The answer in my class is that perhaps they do not conflict in the way we have always been taught. Why can we not have both? I do not push this onto my students, but the argument should not be focused on Adam and Eve vs. evolution, because there is substantial evidence for both evolution and spirituality.

Great solution! Just muck it up with a little of both. Moving along:

The two sides complement each other, if we open our mind to their plausibility.

You see, dear reader, your problem is that you won’t open your mind. You should have had a great teacher like today’s letter-writer. And now we come to the end:

Does the combination of spirituality and an acceptance of evolution negate our chosen faith? God made us such complex beings with physical, mental, and emotional lives. Why could he not have also given us the power to evolve?

Now that’s a great teacher! Well, in Texas anyway.

Copyright © 2013. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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17 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #306: Texas Teacher

  1. The demographics in America show we are primarily a Christian nation, …

    Fallacy of composition: nations do not have religious beliefs; each citizen might, but that does not translate into the nation having a religious affiliation. The correct way to state this is to say: “The demographics show that America as a nation is primarily composed of Christians …

  2. He teaches HISTORY and he is not a scientist. History is subjective and biased toward the view of the person composing it. As a Texas History teacher in San Antonio, he must be aware that the history of the Alamo is told differently south of the border. I wonder if he teaches that “controversy” ?
    I also take issue with the creation story , he limits it to TWO , I might remind this HISTORY teacher , that there are MANY different creation stories, say from the Greeks, the Native Americans, and many more yet he lets HIS BIAS lead his thoughts.

    Faith is Faith and Fact is Fact

  3. “It is clear that there are two sides to the question of where we come from. One is from the biblical text, the story of Adam and Eve; the other, which is subscribed to by many natural historians, is evolution …”

    At least the writer is clear in his distinction. Biblical creationism and intelligent design are one and the same. And no, we are not a christian nation, a fallacious argument in itself.

  4. Ceteris Paribus

    The Texas Adjunct says: “let us not forget to give both sides of the argument.”

    Damn straight. Let’s have him teach the kiddies that one side of the argument is based on reason and evidence; the other side is based on magic and tradition. Both paths can lead to personal success.

    The students who come down on the side of reason and evidence will have a reasonable chance of becoming productive and responsible citizens. The ones that come down on the side of magic and tradition will have a reasonable chance of holding a political office.

  5. We’re talking doofus here. Adjunct “professor” at a podunk community college in south San Antonio. We’re talking strip mall “education” and he’s adjunct. Clearly unemployable doofus.

  6. I wonder what course this guy teaches. I hope it’s not teacher ed.

  7. Talking Doofus said: “if we open our mind to their plausibility.”
    Uh, pardon me, sir, but your mind is open and your brains have fallen out.

  8. Funny how these people never, ever, ever, cite Pope John Paul II, who reconciled faith in God, “spirituality” (whatever that is), and even Adam and Eve (as long as they had biological parents), with the “convergence, neither sought nor fabricated” of multiple lines of evidence that makes it impossible to deny evolution without bearing false witness.

    Sure, the probabllity is high that any one of these people just never heard of that, and are not deliberately censoring it. But the probablity of that being the case for even your 306 examples, let alone 1000s more who write these letters, is near zero.

  9. @Frank J: Good quote. It’s a good bet, though, that most members of the creationist cult hold the Pope in even lower regard than they do Darwin.

  10. Nothing I could write about creationism vs. evolution could be as funny as Lewis Black’s remarks on the subject, part of his rant about the Old Testament at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LGrlWOhtj3g

  11. Spoiler alert – On the Lewis Black video around 6:16 -
    “These people are watching The Flintstones as if it were a documentary.”
    One of Black’s better lines, IMHO.

  12. @retiredsciguy:
    And this brings to mind the question of how many of the residents of the USA would be counted as “Christians”.

  13. As Lewis Black points out in his endearing fashion, the Old Testament is the book of the Jews, and the New Testament is the book of the Christians. When Christian clergy interpret the Old Testament (including Genisis), they get it wrong. Black adds, “It’s not their fault …. it’s not their book.”

  14. “Evolution and [Genesis] complement each other.” Hmm… more likely they lead to a muddle, as in this parallel: At one time, most people believed that the sun moved around the earth. Then pioneering astronomers determined that the earth moved around the sun. But, hey, these two ideas could be seen to complement each other .. the sun and the earth move around Each Other! Popular belief and new-fangeld scientific thinking can be reconciled!! (Just don’t attempt to put any satellites into an earth orbit using this muddled thinking).

  15. One rebuttal you don’t hear about this sort of equal time argument is that during the weekend, students are free to pursue Sunday school, as well as other religious classes and services. Parents who object to evolution being taught at schools are allowed to homeschool with very little interference from the goverment.

  16. @Realist1948

    Of course evolution and literal Genesis do not complement each other. In fact literal Genesis does not complement itself, given how it comes in several mutually contradictory versions (Gen I/Gen II, old earth, young earth, etc.). When push comes to shove, most mainstream religions admit that Genesis should be taken only as an allegory. When they do seem to take some parts literally, it’s generally the untestable parts, and “on faith” anyway. But just like network TV, which “officially” endorses flying reindeer, they simply can’t afford to always say “this ain’t how it really happened.” That they still manage an occasional endorsement of evolution, and even disapproval of creationism/ID, in that atmosphere of political correctness is quite significant.

    @Retiredsciguy

    Letter-to-the-editor writers are a fascinating demographic. I would guess that most are embarrassed at how they have been misled, and don’t try again to “educate” anyone outside of their own circle of deniers. But many are far enough into the scam that they would already be what you call “members of the creationist cult.” Which means that they are unlikely to volunteer up front that they hold JP II, Ken Miller, Francis Collins, etc. in lower regard than they hold Darwin, Dawkins, etc. They won’t deny it, but they’re shrewd enough to first pretend that all theists are on their side, then resort to “plan B” only when necessary. Same with trying to peddle creationism/ID as science, and resorting to “evolution is a religion” when someone calls their bluff. If they truly believed that there’s a better explanation than evolution, they wouldn’t be playing those games.

  17. Tom S: “And this brings to mind the question of how many of the residents of the USA would be counted as ‘Christians’.”

    Last count is one, and his name is Ray Martinez. ;-)

    What is interesting is that those who use the C-word approvingly at every opportunity generally make clear from their context that they mean Fundamentalist Christian only. Some may do that just by rote, but surely many do it intentionally, hoping to pull anorher bait-and-switch with the general definition that includes all self-described Christians.