Casey in the Christian Science Monitor

There isn’t any news in this article in the Christian Science Monitor, but the article’s mere existence is newsworthy to our readers: Religion doesn’t belong in public schools, but debate over Darwinian evolution does, by Casey Luskin

That’s right, dear reader — the Monitor is carrying an article by Casey Luskin, our favorite creationist and an ace blogger for the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute‘s creationist public relations and lobbying operation, the Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids, a/k/a the cdesign proponentsists).

There’s not much to the article that you haven’t seen dozens of times before, except for the news that Casey is being given a larger audience than that which he usually reaches at the Discoveroid blog. Here are some excerpts, with bold added by us:

Critical inquiry and freedom for credible dissent are vital to good science. Sadly, when it comes to biology textbooks, American high school students are learning that stubborn groupthink can suppress responsible debate.

We can’t go on with this unless we can find something worth excerpting … ah, perhaps this:

Courts have uniformly found that creationism is a religious viewpoint and thus illegal to teach in public school science classes. By branding scientific views they dislike as “religion” or “creationism,” the Darwin lobby scares educators from presenting contrary evidence or posing critical questions – a subtle but effective form of censorship.

Aaaargh!! Sorry, dear reader. If you want to read more of what Casey has to say, then please click over to the Monitor and indulge yourself. For us, the only news here is that Casey has been published in a real newspaper — well, until today they used to be a real newspaper.

In fairness to Casey, however, we’ll mention that he has been recognized for his intellectual achievements. See Casey Luskin Is Named a Curmudgeon Fellow.

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

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11 responses to “Casey in the Christian Science Monitor

  1. No questions ask students to identify evidence that counters evolutionary biology, because no such evidence is presented in the text.

    And no such evidence is presented by Casey. Or any of the other IDiots.

    Really, how dumb does he expect readers to be? He has no evidence, just mumbling about how such evidence should be presented. One problem these people have is that they speak a kind of believers’ cant with each other constantly, always assuring each other that great evidence contrary to evolution exists (at best, there are some unanswered questions that no other meaningful idea happens to explain better–if it explains these at all), and, of course, they never question their claims, assumptions, and misused “evidence.”

    The fact is that there probably would be nothing wrong with comparing ID and evolutionary theory, to show what the difference between real science and pseudoscience is. The trouble with that is the many teachers out there who are creationists, who would be teaching like Casey writes, about how horrible evolution is and how it has many (unenunciated) problems.

    I think they probably want the “weaknesses of evolution” taught now instead of ID because they recognize that ID explains nothing at all, plus all it ever has been is a way of throwing (usually disingenuous) stones at evolutionary theory. Teaching bogus “weaknesses” is ID/creationism to the hilt, while they realize that opening the discussion to the lack of any actual strengths of ID/creationism would not do them any good at all.

    Better to keep on insisting that the “weaknesses of evolution” ought to be taught in order to suggest that substantive weaknesses do exist, when Casey is incapable of bringing forward any meaningful examples of said “weaknesses.” Smearing science is all that Casey has.

  2. I think the strengths and weaknesses idea for science class is, in general, a good one. There should be an intro to the physical sciences class which primarily focuses on critical thinking skills, logic, the scientific method, how to judge evidence, etc. With a thorough grounding in what science is and how it works, then there would be no problem with looking at evolution or any other scientific theory with a critical eye – it would strengthen the student’s knowledge of the subject and why it is that we believe what we believe.

    The problem with the DI is that they do not really want any critical thinking taught with respect to evolution or any other subject. Their real goal is for students not to study evolution (or other science) at all.

  3. What Ed said. When I was a kid I thought science involved a lot of test tubes and bubbling fluids, but it actually comes down to systematic study and critical thinking skills. This sort of comes about through repeated practice.

  4. I think the strengths and weaknesses idea for science class is, in general, a good one.

    I remember my HS chemistry teacher doing exactly that, for example comparing Thompson’s plumb pudding model of the atom with Rutherford’s orbital model.

    Even if you agree that comparing different theories is a worthwhile exercise (and I do), ID creationism is still a foolish example to use because (i) it was never science to begin with, (ii) it is practically custom-designed to send your class off-track into religious discussions, and (iii) there are so many better examples of different theories available. I mean, holy crap, you could spend several weeks discussing Lysenkoism and its effect on soviet agriculture. Why the heck would you want to introduce religious claptrap into your classroom when there are so many real, historically important theory-comparisons you can make?

  5. Benjamin Franklin

    Phil Skell, a professor of chemistry, who Luskin mentions prominently in his op-ed also said:

    “the main purpose” of anyone teaching evolutionary biology in our schools is the “indoctrination of students to a worldview of materialism and atheism”

    And let us not forget the immortal words of Phillip Johnson, “Father” of the ID movement, who admits;

    “Our strategy has been to change the subject a bit so that we can get the issue of intelligent design, which really means the reality of God, before the academic world and into the schools.”

    Why do you suppose Luskin failed to include that in his yarn?

  6. Casey is nothing more or less than a fool on a fool’s errand.

    The Christian Science Monitor used to be a good and respectable news source for international news. But, like many mainstream news outlets, their journalism has crashed, their reporters have become lazy and credulous, and they are only a small step above the supermarket tabloids that keep us informed about the love lives of interstellar aliens and celebrities.

  7. Glen Davidson: “Really, how dumb does he expect readers to be? ”

    They don’t have to be dumb at all. Just susceptible to uncritical acceptance of misleading sound bites that claim “weakness,” conspiracy or both in science. Even intelligent people with above average science literacy lack the time or interest to check how bogus those claims are.

  8. Questions to consider

    There are two contenders for the history of the universe and life on earth: some form of naturalism (evolution) or supernatural creation. Are there really any alternatives to some form of naturalistic evolution in science if science is restricted to naturalism?

    For 150 years, people have been asking for the alternative to scientific evolution. There has never been offered an alternative, whether naturalistic or not, whether scientific or not. There is no other “contender” which describes what happened, or attempts to give an explanation for the variety of life on earth.

  9. @TomS

    As you know, the irony that very few nonscientists (and too few scientists) fully grasp is:

    1. The ones actually looking for potential alternatives, and who have the most to gain by finding one, keep coming up empty.

    2. The ones who keep pretending that they have alternatives refuse to actually look for one, keep retreating from the testable details of what they pretend to have, and increasingly resort to paranoid whining about being “expelled.”

    3. Anyone with half a brain and half a conscience can see that #2 are only expelling themselves. Unfortunately they can only see that if they pay attention, and very few have the time or interest to do so. I vividly remember being one of that majority, and came close to being scammed.

  10. “Religion doesn’t belong in public schools, but debate over Darwinian evolution does”

    Exactly @ssbackwards, as usual.

    “Debate” over “Darwinian” evolution does not belong in the science classes of public schools since there is no such scientific debate. Students should learn the actual science, not have every crackpot given a free platform to launch nonsensical attacks on science from. At best, the “debate” between evolution and creationism might be appropriate for a debate club or some other similar, merely rhetorical, exercise. It isn’t appropriate for a science class.

    On the other hand, religion can have a place in public schools. Kids really should be learning about religion – about all religions, and about lack of religious belief as well. The problem is that the only one teaching religion nowadays, for the most part, are Sunday schools and other sectarian teaching establishments. People would tend to be a lot less militant about their religion, if they actually knew something about religion in the broadest sense, instead of being spoon-fed highly selective and narrow viewpoints by their various religious establishments.

  11. Lurker: “’Debate’ over ‘Darwinian’ evolution does not belong in the science classes of public schools since there is no such scientific debate.”

    Actually, there is plenty of debate. It wouldn’t be science without it. But what anti-evolution activists want students to learn is not what scientists are still debating. The misrepresentations that anti-evolution activists want taught have been refuted long ago. Many scientists would love to debate them too but the evidence simply doesn’t let them. I personally object more to the fact that those activists censor by omission those refutations, than to the fact that they want to teach those misrepresentstions, which students can all learn (and many have learned) on their own time and their parents’ dime.

    While scientists continue to debate over details that seem unimportant to most nonscientists (e.g. the sequence of the chimp/human/gorilla divergence), anti-evolution activists mostlly refuse to debate each other, even though thsy disagree on conclusions as fundamental as whether chimps, humans and gorillas share common ancestors. Luskin is aware that the DI person who is least secretive about what he thinks “happened when” (Michael Behe) has conceded many times that these species shared common ancestors that lived millions of years ago. But they play “don’t ask, don’t tell” because they want students whose parents have told them that the Earth itself is only 1000s of years old to join their “big tent” cult.

    BTW, I’m almost as annoyed with our side for not doing more to correct the public misconception that something other than evidence prevents scientists from debating the fundamental conclusions (e.g common descent).