Creationist Wisdom #114: Homeschooling Mom

THIS one, dear reader, appears in a newspaper as a guest column; therefore we’ll give you the author’s name — Christine Hawthorne. She is described as: “a registered nurse, home school mom, and wife of Alan Hawthorne, a missionary to Indonesia. She resides in Hamilton when not overseas doing missionary work.” With qualifications like that, you’re in for a treat.

Cristine’s column is titled Easier to believe in God than to believe evolution , and it appears in the Hamilton Journal-News of Hamilton, Ohio. We’ll give you some excerpts, adding some bold for emphasis and our Curmudgeonly commentary between the paragraphs. Here we go:

How could he [prior letter-writer or columnist] have actually stated that evolution had been proved? Wouldn’t that mean that the theory of evolution would now be called the Law of Evolution?

Aaaargh!! Let’s read on:

I would love to see evidence of evolution of species (aka macroevolution) in action without the aid of computer-generated images. I have heard that some microevolution has been proved, but a small molecular mutation which results in very little change and no change of species just isn’t what most people think of when they hear that evolution has been proved.

Micro yes, macro no. Aaaargh!! We continue:

Unfortunately, no fossilized transitional life forms have ever been made available for inspection.

Aaaargh!! Here’s more:

The Second Law of Thermodynamics, universally accepted by the scientific community, states that every system tends to become disordered …

Aaaargh!! Stay with us, it gets better:

I was taught that the evolutionists’ view is that all the matter in the universe was compressed into a space the size of a period on a page, and that this spinning mass then later exploded and formed all the celestial bodies including our own solar system.

What I don’t understand is why the Conservation of Circular Momentum was not in effect during that Big Bang. If the Big Bang were true, all the planets and moons in our solar system would be spinning in the same direction. However, they are not.

We haven’t seen that precise argument before. We ask you, gentle reader, to ponder what is meant by saying that the pre-Big Bang singularity was spinning. We understand that rotation is absolute, not relative. But still, in what sense could it be said that the singularity spins? Perhaps the Designer had access to Foucault’s pendulum? This would be the ultimate test of Mach’s principle.

Moving along:

I do indeed acknowledge the existence of gravity … I still need to be shown the same proof of evolution that he and other scientists claim to have seen. Seeing is believing, unless the believing is based on faith.

Aaaargh!! Another excerpt:

Since Darwin spent many years trying to refute the Bible, he could not be called a Christian — except as some kind of pseudo-Christian at best. By definition, a Christian must be a Bible believer.

Aaaargh!! It isn’t over yet:

[I]f the theory of evolution has no concrete proof, then it is based on belief or faith, and is therefore a religion. Evolution is a religion apart from Christianity, and in direct competition with Christianity for believers.

[…]

We can believe the creation story by faith or we can believe in billions of years and zillions of beneficial mutations causing multitudes of species and complexity within the species that is beyond our comprehension. I personally believe that it takes less faith to believe in God.

Aaaargh!!

Cristine’s column then dribbles to an end with some scripture quotations. All in all, reading this one has been quite an experience.

Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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38 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #114: Homeschooling Mom

  1. Dear creationists,

    Physics does not disprove biology.

    Love,

    JF

  2. James F says: “Physics does not disprove biology.”

    Give it up! You can’t keep fooling everyone forever.

  3. “Circular Momentum”?

    And I always thought it was Wildly Elliptical….

    😉

  4. What I don’t understand is why the Conservation of Circular Momentum was not in effect during that Big Bang

    Aaaargh! 🙂

    Were this actually a valid point, the counter-argument would be (leaving out the appropriate “Jane, you…” preamble): conservation of angular momentum was in effect. Planets, stars, galaxies, etc.. can change their spin direction the same way your car tire can change its spin direction: by the application of outside force.

  5. Wow, this is the best one you’ve found in a while. So much is so wrong. The “circular momentum” thing is a new one, but my understanding is that everything was compressed and unified, including the four forces and space/time. So conservation of momentum may really not be applicable (no real space to move in, without time to judge it, and without force to move it). At least this is what I’ve heard and keep in mind theoretical physics is not my strong point. Besides, when did believing the Bible make more sense than evolution. If it were, then there wouldn’t be 30,000 or so different denominations of Christians.

  6. Wow. This is why homeschooling parents should be held to the same standards as public school teachers. If you can’t pass a certification test demonstrating your understanding of a subject, you don’t get to teach it. To anyone. Not even your own kid.

  7. Albanaeon says: “Wow, this is the best one you’ve found in a while.”

    It gets increasingly difficult to find one that has any novelty to it. I fear that before long the collection will be complete.

  8. LRA says: “This is why homeschooling parents should be held to the same standards as public school teachers.”

    I donno. I do believe in freedom. In cases like this it’s virtually child abuse, but most kids can recover. The irony is that the dumber the victim is, the more he’ll appreciate his parents when he grows up.

  9. Yeah, I guess having one of the oldest playbooks in existence really limits your options. Don’t worry though. I have faith in the incredible creativity of stupidity to give you gold nuggets of insanity for a while yet.

  10. My favorite fundie quote on thermodynamics:

    “One of the most basic laws in the universe is the Second Law of Thermodynamics. This states that as time goes by, entropy in an environment will increase. Evolution argues differently against a law that is accepted EVERYWHERE BY EVERYONE. Evolution says that we started out simple, and over time became more complex. That just isn’t possible: UNLESS there is a giant outside source of energy supplying the Earth with huge amounts of energy. If there were such a source, scientists would certainly know about it. ”

    http://rationalwiki.com/wiki/Talk:Fundies_Say_the_Darndest_Things

  11. Yes, LRA we hope that one day fundies will look up and see the (sun)light…

  12. Yeah, I have trouble understanding what the “home-schooling” tie-in is. If my teachers (in a very highly rated school system at the time) had to pass an exam on proficiency in the subject matter, I’d be surprised. Most of them had no real knowledge of anything beyond fashionable pedagogical theories. I doubt that the situation has improved in the subsequent decades.

    My wife home-schooled her kids through high school level, and they have a better grasp of math and science than any of the kids I taught at University, products of our fine public school system. No PC, no “self-esteem” programs, just science, math, literature, history, art, and music.

    And yes, they understand evolution by natural selection.

    The woman in this feature is a doof, and she home-schools. She may also be left-handed, brunette, and drive a VW. So freakin’ what?

  13. @ SY

    “If my teachers (in a very highly rated school system at the time) had to pass an exam on proficiency in the subject matter, I’d be surprised”

    They do. It’s called certification. I know because I’m a teacher with certifications in special education, psychology, and English. In addition to my master’s degree in molecular biology and neuroscience from Columbia (I could easily certify in biology if I felt the need to).

    And what did you teach at University? Math or science?

  14. Gabriel Hanna

    This is why homeschooling parents should be held to the same standards as public school teachers. If you can’t pass a certification test demonstrating your understanding of a subject, you don’t get to teach it.

    They do. It’s called certification. I know because I’m a teacher with certifications in special education, psychology, and English.

    I don’t think these are required for elementary school, where kids get their earliest and most crucial misunderstandings; I know most of my teachers in junior high didn’t know evolution any better than this woman does. Though they probably wouldn’t have said “circular momentum”, but they WOULD and DID tell me that to say “My mother bought a cake for my sisters and me” is wrong.

    “Circular momentum” is a really wrong thing to say. Even objects traveling in a straight line have angular momentum relative to SOME observer, and their angular momentu is still conserved.

  15. Gabriel Hanna

    Anyway, I taught honors physics at WSU and those kids didn’t know much of anything about math or science, including evolution. (honors students did more homework with less complaining–if they actually know more more math and science than their peers I am horrified.)

    And when I taught extraterrestrial biology, I heard the same misunderstandings about evolution from college seniors (largely non-science majors) that you would from the homeschooled. Lots of “it’s just a theory” and “where the missing link”.

    The public schools taught me very little, but they did keep me from learning anything while they taught the slower kids. Usually I read books under my desk.

  16. Gabriel–

    My experience was very different. I was in a gifted program and most of my teachers had master’s degrees. I did well enough in public school to earn a full scholarship to Texas A&M and then did a master’s at Columbia. I am a hard worker, to be sure, but my teachers were great as well.

  17. retiredsciguy

    As a retired public school jr.-high science teacher, I’m truly sorry for the poor educational experiences of SY and Gabriel. I wish you could have been in my class.

    In Ohio, at least, all public school teachers must be certified, although that’s no guarantee the teacher is going to be a good science teacher, but that’s another story.

    SY didn’t see what home-schooling had to do with anything. Well, many creationist parents choose to home-school just so that their children will not be exposed to any ideas, such as evolution, that may be contrary to their religious beliefs. Judging by her writings above, it seems that Christine Hawthorne might fit that category.

    With regard to evolution, she writes, “I personally believe that it takes less faith to believe in God.” One thing for sure — it certainly takes less thought.

  18. “And what did you teach at University? Math or science?”

    Both. Pre-calculus and calculus, intro chemistry, physical chemistry. I don’t think one student in ten could write a grammatical English sentence nor do long division. Perhaps a third could add simple fractions.

    “Well, many creationist parents choose to home-school just so that their children will not be exposed to any ideas, such as evolution, that may be contrary to their religious beliefs. Judging by her writings above, it seems that Christine Hawthorne might fit that category.”

    So what? Many parents send their kids to religious schools so that they won’t be perverted by exposure to people like me. Are you claiming that most, or even a plurality, of home schoolers are Creationists? If so, could you point me to a reliable cite?

  19. “I did well enough in public school to earn a full scholarship to Texas A&M”

    Orange is a much nicer color than maroon.

  20. “Conservation of Circular Momentum”

    I . . . can’t . . . breathe . . . for . . . laughing. Another idiot who doesn’t know the first thing about physics yet drags out the weary ol’ SLoT.

    You ignorant SLoT. It’s “Angular,” not “Circular.”

  21. “Orange is a much nicer color than maroon.”

    LOL! I have a degree from there as well– in philosophy and English.

    “Pre-calculus and calculus, intro chemistry, physical chemistry. I don’t think one student in ten could write a grammatical English sentence nor do long division. Perhaps a third could add simple fractions.”

    How can a student possibly do pre-cal or calculus without being able to add fractions ( a pre-algebra, 5th grade skill???) I have worked as a private tutor for about 7 years in all maths up to calculus and *all* of my students could add fractions.

    You may be right about writing, though. Plenty of students are poor writers.

  22. retiredsciguy

    There’s an interesting tie-in between this post concerning a column appearing in the Hamilton Journal-News of Hamilton, Ohio, and the previous post about the pending creationism bill in the Kentucky legislature.

    Hamilton, Ohio had a huge influx of blue-collar workers from Kentucky during the mid-twentieth century seeking jobs at the GM Fisher Body Plant. Hamilton has long been known for its “Kentucky values”.

  23. Cheryl Shepherd-Adams says:

    You ignorant SLoT. It’s “Angular,” not “Circular.”

    Iceberg, Goldberg … what’s the difference?

  24. “How can a student possibly do pre-cal or calculus without being able to add fractions ( a pre-algebra, 5th grade skill???) ”

    Badly. I spent the majority of my time teaching remedial math.

  25. WTF?

    “If my teachers (in a very highly rated school system at the time) had to pass an exam on proficiency in the subject matter, I’d be surprised.”

    Please don’t tell me SY is another one of those “those who can’t, teach” idiots.

    *****************
    Not all homeschoolers are religiously motivated; that number ran about 33% in 1999. That being said, see “Homeschool Science Fair”.

  26. retiredsciguy

    SY writes, “Are you claiming that most, or even a plurality, of home schoolers are Creationists? If so, could you point me to a reliable cite?”

    I have no idea what the actual percentage is of creationist home-schoolers, and I doubt if anyone else does, either. However, it would certainly be a valid survey subject, but I don’t have the time nor the inclination to search the web for the info.

    The opinion I stated regarding many creationist parents choosing to home-school their children is based on the observation that many fundamentalist churches have well-organized home-schooling co-ops for sharing ideas, materials, etc. IMHO, it’s not too much of a stretch to guess that many of those parents object to having their children exposed to such subversive ideas as evolution, geological history, cosmology, etc.

  27. Cheryl, I may indeed be an idiot, but I’m an idiot who, in 55 years on this planet, has not seen a correlation between the ability to teach and actual employment as a teacher, nor (on the elementary and secondary level) a correlation between teaching a subject and knowing anything about it that goes beyond the lesson plan.

    Thanks for the stat; I didn’t think that most home-schoolers were creationists based on my exposure to that community (admittedly a limited sample set). Most parents I know who chose this path did so precisely because they believed that their local school system did a poor job. Their kids tended to be well ahead of their age cohort.

  28. SC, I counted 7 “Arrrgh!”s in that post. Your throat is probably a little sore. I recommend some solitude, so grab your beverage of choice, pop a squat in your comfy chair, kick your feet up, and vege in front of the TV.

    You know you’re on a long slog here, so you need to pace yourself.

  29. If you want to witness the horror that is Fundie homeschooling, check out “Jesus Camp”:

    http://www.apple.com/trailers/magnolia/jesuscamp/

  30. The article states, “Evolution is a religion apart from Christianity, and in direct competition with Christianity for believers.”

    Tell that to Kenneth Miller… or the pope … or any of the various Christian groups the NCSE lists as supporters of science eduction (http://ncse.com/media/voices/religion)

  31. Here, the homeschooling horror starts at about 5 minutes:

    *shudders*

  32. Gary says: “You know you’re on a long slog here, so you need to pace yourself.”

    Your concern is most gratifying. But I’ve found my natural rhythm. So far, so good.

  33. @— Christine Hawthorne,

    From your comment, I can guess that you are competent in thermodynamics. Please explain in detail how evolution is contradicted by thermodynamics. Please be sure to carefully present the axioms that you will use and whether it will be an entropy or an energy presentation. From that start, please use any partial differential calculus that is appropriate.
    My degree is in physical chemistry, and I can understand the line of reasoning from thermodynamics and statistical mechanics standpoints. I’ll be sure to peer review your article, and I’ll publicly describe errors in math or logic; I will point out woo when I find it.
    As you can see, I am in the other camp, but if the math and logic are there, I will have to admit its correctness. This should be fun for both of us; let’s go.

  34. These idiots whose science education seems to have ended somewhere between astrology and alchemy must be challenged whenever they throw out red herrings such as thermodynamics of which they seem to be completely ignorant. One of the subjects that Christine Hawthorne seems to be just as uninformed about as physics, is statistics. One of us who is at home with that part of evolution should prepare a little test for her and her ilk to have her trip over.

  35. My experience was very different. I was in a gifted program and most of my teachers had master’s degrees.

    I had some good teachers in high school, and in junior high I got to take science and math with the high school kids. My school district was rural and isolated and did not have a gifted program, but once I got into seventh grade they did for me what they could.

    When I was a kid we moved a lot and I think I attended 8 elementary schools, all over the country. Two had gifted programs, one was a magnet school, but the others mostly left me to sit in the corner.

    Lots of places don’t have gifted programs and in some circles they are elitist and unfair–we’ve all heard about Berkeley cutting their after-school science labs:

    http://www.eastbayexpress.com/ebx/berkeley-high-may-cut-out-science-labs/Content?oid=1536705

    but it’s not just at Berkeley:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/7062305/Gifted-and-talented-pupils-need-support-say-pupils-of-academy-for-gifted-children.html

    Of course there are good teachers out there doing their best, but we seem to have developed a system of government education which tends to lowest common denominator.

  36. Plumberbob, thanks for sharing the YouTube video, “What Every Creationist Must Deny”. It should be required viewing by every Podunkville newspaper editor before they publish another creationist “letter to the editor”.

  37. Actually, the angular momentum argument is not new. It’s one of Kent Hovind’s arguments. What happened is that Hovind took two completely separate topics from a very old textbook. One of these happened to be about the big bang and that was where the “smaller than a period on a page” quote came from when describing the singularity. The part about spinning was from a part about stellar formation. In Hovind’s seminars, he failed completely to even hide this. While people with functioning brains noticed that one line was about the pre-big-bang singularity and one was talking about the formation of stars from a stellar nebula, Hovind’s audience would pretty much swallow it completely.

    Given that the formation of the universe is inclusive of the formation of space itself, there wouldn’t have been a space in which the singularity could have been spinning in the first place. Even if you could argue that such was true, conservation of angular momentum doesn’t say that every local subsystem should have the same direction of rotation — it simply says that the total sum of angular momentum is fixed. The fact that Hovind and his ilk are either completely unaware of or expressly hide this reality pretty much renders this argument pretty nonsensical.

  38. Thanks pkchari. I thought it sounded like two separate arguments, though I was thinking it was the accretion disks of blackholes that he was referring to, since one singularity would probably be the same to him as another. If he’s mixing in stellar formation with the big bang singularity… Well, he’s brought a hockey stick to a water polo game.