Creationist Wisdom — Example 71

WE present to you, dear reader, a letter-to-the-editor titled Why can’t intelligent design be taught, too?, which appears in the Free Lance-Star of Fredericksburg, Virginia.

We’ll copy today’s letter in its entirety, omitting only the writer’s name and city, and add our Curmudgeonly commentary between the paragraphs. The bold font was added for emphasis. Here we go:

I read with interest the editorials and letters on the subject of evolution versus intelligent design. I will state up front that my issue is not which one is correct. I personally believe that there is a God and that He created the universe in general and human beings in particular.

I don’t want to debate with others who disagree with me. I am not interested in changing their opinion or forcing my opinion on them. Please reciprocate.

The letter-writer is wise not to argue about which is correct; and we’ll be pleased to reciprocate with his expressed disinterest in changing our opinion or forcing his opinion on us — provided he will do the same. (Hint: he doesn’t follow his own rule.) Let’s read on:

The issue I am concerned about is this: I don’t want anyone to force their opinion on my children and grandchildren attending schools funded in part by my tax dollars.

That objection is often expressed — But I’m a taxpayer! As taxpayers, we can always find things the state does with our funds of which we disapprove. But merely being taxpayers doesn’t give us the option of selecting the laws we’ll comply with, disregarding others, and using our tax receipts as a justification for imposing our personal beliefs on our fellow citizens.

The states are required by their constitutions to provide public schools (it wasn’t always so — state supported education started around the 1840s), and state action inevitably requires a degree of coercion. There are solutions — homeschooling is one, and a constitutional amendment to dis-establish the schools is another. Otherwise, state schools are going to teach science, and they’re forbidden to promote religion. That’s how it is.

We continue:

Neither your beliefs and theories nor mine can be proved. No matter how many letters are written or arguments offered, they will most likely have little to no impact on changing the beliefs of those on either side of the argument.

We could write a whole essay on that. The letter-writer doesn’t consider that some beliefs can be definitely dis-proved, and such is the case with what we assume is the letter-writer’s belief in Noah’s Ark, but let’s not dwell on that. We agree that we can’t change his mind. Here’s more:

You can accept evolution, intelligent design, or both, and it is irrelevant to the real issue. The contentious issue is that only one of these theories is allowed to be presented, and presented as fact, in our educational systems.

Yes, it’s entirely true that creationism (and ID) aren’t presented, but that’s because they’re religious doctrines. As for astrology, flat-earth, alchemy, and a thousand other non-scientific beliefs, whether or not they’re religious, they’re quite properly left out of science classes because they’re nonsense. Moving along:

As a believer in intelligent design, I ask that it be taught as another widely accepted and reasonable option. I am not asking that evolution be left out of the discussion. I am only asking that intelligent design be given equal time and included as a reasonable option.

The letter-writer is correct, alas, that ID is widely accepted (among the scientifically ignorant), but despite its popularity among the uneducated, it’s not a scientifically reasonable option. Request denied. Here’s another excerpt:

This is not an issue of government-funded teaching of religion.

Oh, but that’s exactly what it is. And now we come to the end:

It is simply teaching the views held by a significant number of residents in this country. That is fact. This is not an attempt to convert anyone. It is simply teaching the reality of the opinions that exist.

[Writer’s name and city can be seen in the original.]

What can we say? That was certainly a polite letter, and its author didn’t make any of the crazy claims that we often see in such letters, like the frequent assertion that there’s no evidence to support evolution. He just wants his own ideas given equal time — never mind that he started out saying he didn’t want to force his views on anyone. He wants the state to do it for him because he’s a taxpayer. What’s wrong with that?

The answer is that not all ideas — even popular ones — belong in science class. When his creationist beliefs gain scientific acceptance, they will be taught in the schools. Until then, if he wants his kids to receive a creationist education he’ll have to settle for homeschooling. Oh, he has yet another option — he could run for election to the school board and from there he can try to get his views accepted as part of the curriculum. It’s the Texas solution.

Copyright © 2009. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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15 responses to “Creationist Wisdom — Example 71

  1. This is what is seriously wrong with this country. People in the anti-intellectual far right wing conservative looney bin have preached and preached against science so much, that people think that science is about *opinions* and not about demonstrable, testable, repeatable, verifiable *facts*. These nutjobs need to be cured of their severe case of craniorectal impaction. The only way I can think to do it is to continue to raise my voice against it.

  2. LRA says: “These nutjobs need to be cured of their severe case of craniorectal impaction.”

    Hey, it’s all relative. Can’t we all get along?

  3. LRA said: ” people think that science is about *opinions* and not about demonstrable, testable, repeatable, verifiable *facts*. ”

    Don’t forget that the average “Joe” does not know what the term “theory” means within a scientific framework. And the cretards take full advantage of that. Grrr…

  4. As of this time, the five responses to the letter are all pro-science. Looks like the people of Fredericksburg are fairly reasonable, and this is another case of the media publishing the letter most likely to provoke a response rather than a letter that best reflects the letters they receive.

    (Disclosure: no, I’m not from Fredericksburg)

  5. Funny how phlogiston, alchemy, and astrology never are the subject of equal time demands.

    @LRA:People in the anti-intellectual far right wing conservative looney bin have preached and preached against science so much, that people think that science is about *opinions* and not about demonstrable, testable, repeatable, verifiable *facts*.

    Alas, it is not only the right wing. Left wing academics in the humanities and soft sciences don’t believe in “testable, repeatable, verifiable” facts.

    In the academia, human evolution mysteriously ended 10,000 years ago, and minds have no limitations placed on them by the bodies they inhabit (see Summers, Larry).

  6. Don’t take my word for it, take Dawkins’:

    http://richarddawkins.net/articleComments,824,Postmodernism-Disrobed,Richard-Dawkins-Nature,page6

    The feminist ‘philosopher’ Luce Irigaray is another who is given whole chapter treatment by Sokal and Bricmont. In a passage reminiscent of a notorious feminist description of Newton’s Principia (a ‘rape manual’) Irigaray argues that E=mc2 is a ‘sexed equation’. Why? Because ‘it privileges the speed of light over other speeds that are vitally necessary to us’ (my emphasis of what I am rapidly coming to learn is an in-word). Just as typical of the school of thought under examination is Irigaray’s thesis on fluid mechanics. Fluids, you see, have been unfairly neglected. ‘Masculine physics’ privileges rigid, solid things. Her American expositor Katherine Hayles made the mistake of re-expressing Irigaray’s thoughts in (comparatively) clear language. For once, we get a reasonably unobstructed look at the emperor and, yes, he has no clothes:

    The privileging of solid over fluid mechanics, and indeed the inability of science to deal with turbulent flow at all, she attributes to the association of fluidity with femininity. Whereas men have sex organs that protrude and become rigid, women have openings that leak menstrual blood and vaginal fluids. . . From this perspective it is no wonder that science has not been able to arrive at a successful model for turbulence. The problem of turbulent flow cannot be solved because the conceptions of fluids (and of women) have been formulated so as necessarily to leave unarticulated remainders.

    You don’t have to be a physicist to smell out the daffy absurdity of this kind of argument (the tone of it has become all too familiar), but it helps to have Sokal and Bricmont on hand to tell us the real reason why turbulent flow is a hard problem (the Navier-Stokes equations are difficult to solve).

  7. Gabriel Hanna quotes: “Whereas men have sex organs that protrude and become rigid, women have openings that leak menstrual blood and vaginal fluids. . .”

    This is worthy of further study.

  8. @The Curmudgeon:

    It most certainly is! John Ruskin annulled his marriage over it:

    When she met Millais five years later, Effie was still a virgin, as Ruskin had persistently put off consummating the marriage. His reasons are unclear, but they involved disgust with some aspect of her body. As Effie later wrote to her father,

    “He alleged various reasons, hatred to children, religious motives, a desire to preserve my beauty, and, finally this last year he told me his true reason… that he had imagined women were quite different to what he saw I was, and that the reason he did not make me his Wife was because he was disgusted with my person the first evening 10th April.”

    Ruskin confirmed this in his statement to his lawyer during the annulment proceedings.

    “It may be thought strange that I could abstain from a woman who to most people was so attractive. But though her face was beautiful, her person was not formed to excite passion. On the contrary, there were certain circumstances in her person which completely checked it.”

    The most prevalent theory is that he didn’t know women have pubic hair; he was an art critic and apparently all he knew of nude women came from classical statuary and such.

  9. Oh, where to begin…

    The writer had better copy the DI, whose current position is to not teach ID, but only the phony “critical analysis” (aka misrepresentation) of evolution.

    The next obvious question is to ask the writer when and how he thinks that God created the universe and “human beings in particular.” If he thinks such questions are unimportant, then I would say, “Fine, then let the students learn the Ken Miller / Francis Collins version of ‘Goddidit’.” Which is of course evolution – the only version that actually has evidence supporting it.

  10. The Free Lance-Star of Fredericksburg has banned me, probably because I offended some censorship-loving Christian retard who works there.

    I would have liked to have translated the title of the article to “Why can’t MAGIC be taught, too?”. Then I would have explained why the person who wrote the article is an uneducated moron.

  11. “Hey, it’s all relative.”

    You’re teasing me, right?

    And the whole feminist thing about hard versus soft mechanics is totally stupid. I wouldn’t consider myself a post-modernist nor an absolutists by any means, and I understand some of the criticisms about social construction of scientific questions (like the problems of using white men to represent black men, white women, and black women in medical research), but in physics???? Nope, that’s just stupid.

  12. @LRA:

    Of course you’re right. All I’m trying to say is that while the creationists are the ones who vote for school boards and make the most noise, threats to science come from within the academy by intellectuals.

    They are the ones training the next generation of intellectuals, after all.

  13. Yes, extreme left wing post-modernism is aggravating! Gah!

  14. Well, they have a potency far beyond the smallness of their numbers, that’s for sure.

    They are not, so far, lobbying school boards, so at least science has that going for it.

  15. I think the considerate thing to do is for teachers to state that people have different beliefs about various possible creators and that they don’t mean to negate the possibility of those creators’ existence, but that evolution has enough evidence behind it that it is effectively a scientific fact, not a theory. Teachers might mention that many educated religious people have found ways to reconcile their belief systems with these scientific truths and that if the students want to explore methods like that, they should discuss it outside of school, with parents or spiritual advisers or whomever. That little speech would take about 1 minute out of the science curriculum for the entire year and might make it a lot easier for religious students to accept the truth of the lesson. It also isn’t forcing religion on the other students, just recognizing that it exists and is important to many people, which is something that all kids should know by that point anyway.