Creationist Wisdom #298: Short and Sweet

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the Appeal-Democrat of Marysville, California. It’s titled Public schools ought to be able to teach about Creation. 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. Okay, here we go:

In most schools, teachers are only allowed to teach about evolution. They are no longer allowed to teach about Creation. This recently happened for New Orleans Parish Public Schools in December. The approved policy states: “… nor shall any science textbook be approved which presents creationism or intelligent design as science or scientific theories.”

Right. We wrote about that here: Creationism Banned in New Orleans Schools. It was the one dim light of sanity in an otherwise hopelessly creationist state, and it seems to have upset today’s letter-writer. Her letter continues:

Taking creationism completely out of schools goes against the children’s rights.

What rights? Do children have a right to be misinformed? If so, why not teach them astrology in the public schools? Flat-Earth too. Yes — spherical Earth violates the children’s rights! Let’s read on:

Instead of making them learn only evolutionism, students should be exposed to various ideas, including intelligent design as well as evolution.

You knew that was coming. And did you notice her use of “evolutionism”? It’s not as popular as “Darwinism” but creationists seem to like it. The letter continues:

Children need to know how to use critical thinking. If they don’t figure out how to make decisions now, how can we expect them to make intelligent and important decisions in the future?

Is today’s letter an example of critical thinking? If so, whatever educational experiences the letter-writer had should be ruthlessly extirpated from all schools. Here’s the last of it:

Some schools have classes that teach about various religions, but most public or charter schools do not present creationism. I believe that creationism should be allowed in schools. Instead of forcing the kids to learn only evolutionism, introduce them to both sides and let them decide.

Ah yes, let the children decide. That’s the way to teach science! Well, dear reader, this letter wasn’t the most memorable in our series, but as our title says, it was short and sweet.

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

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22 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #298: Short and Sweet

  1. retiredsciguy

    Teach the kiddies creationism? Isn’t that what Sunday School is for? Or in the home, along with Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy.

    Curmy says, “…why not teach them astrology in the Public Schools?”
    My guess is that 60% of the public doesn’t know the difference between “astronomy” and “astrology”, and I’d bet that the letter writer falls in that 60%.

  2. Evolutionism is not a word! Good night.

  3. Has anyone ever asked these folks what range of topics they believe children should be allowed to decide on?

  4. Alternatives to evolution? Only if we can give fair time to all of them.

  5. @TA – thanks for the link. Brin is the type of person we like to entice to participate in the Conference on World Affairs in Boulder.

    About the letter writers point, which we hear almost endlessly – I am almost convinced that we should teach YEC and ID in biology classes. I teach a science and religion class and it usually only takes me a lecture or two to completely demolish those ‘alternate theories’ since most students are indeed capable of looking at the cosmological, geological, biological….. data and conclude that the best scientific understanding is in the framework of the TOE. They realize that they have to rethink their biblical hermeneutic or accept that the god of Genesis is a trickster.

  6. Douglas Swatzendruber may be right, but we still shouldn’t be teaching religious ideas in publicly funded science classes (at least not at the primary and secondary levels).

    I took a great class in college on religion and science (actually taught by a Catholic Priest). Great class. I was even handed a little book called “Refuting Evolution” by one of the YECs in the class with me. I don’t know that she ever changed her mind, but at least she was exposed to the concept that maybe her Bible School upbringing didn’t share all the science in the world with her.

  7. TJW – I know that such things likely won’t happen in public schools because of the ‘publicly funded’ arguments, but I still be think that the earlier the debunking, the better. I am not saying ‘teach the controversy’ but rather am saying use the science to expose the fallacies.

  8. I’d love to add a religion and science course to public primary and/or secondary education where you could do something like that. unfortunately we are spending more time in most school districts figuring out how to fund sports for everyone than expanding our science curriculum. then people will argue that their little version of things will need to be included in the class. next thing you know just like with creationism and it’s bastard cousin ID we’re spending all of our time debunking every individual version of non-science and never have time to teach the science.

  9. TJW says: “I’d love to add a religion and science course to public primary and/or secondary education”

    That shouldn’t be necessary to even mention religion if the science is taught from a historical perspective. All sciences are relatively new, and they got started when things were observed and thought about for the first time. But like all scientific ideas, the early stuff was controversial at first — think of James Hutton and geology — but the evidence gradually persuaded an increasingly large number of people. I think all that needs to be done is to teach: “Here’s why scientists first started to think this way, and over the years the evidence just keeps piling up.” Each new concept needs an historical introduction.

  10. doodlebugger

    This letter writer is clearly highly edumacated.

  11. doodlebugger

    Reunite Gondwanaland Curmie!!

  12. Retired Prof

    Grum says, “Evolutionism is not a word!”

    Erin McKean, a lexicographer who explains her profession to ordinary folk, says that if a form was spoken or written by a native English speaker in an English sentence, it’s a word. That’s not enough to justify including it in a dictionary, though. It has to have been used often enough by enough people to provide enough context for defining it and also enough of a chance some reader or listener will encounter it and want to look it up.

    As for “evolutionism,” it fills the bill. It has been used long enough to make it into some standard dictionaries. It derives by regular English morphological rules parallel to those that gave us “evolutionist,” which was first recorded in the 1860s, about as soon as controversy arose over Darwin’s theories.

    I’m not fond of the word either, because it reminds me of people I disagree with. But there it is, a well-structured and thoroughly documented word.

  13. Retired Prof says, of evolutionism: “But there it is, a well-structured and thoroughly documented word.”

    And that would make me an anti-evolutionismist.

  14. Great word, anti-evolutionismist! I can’t wait to see if it catches on.

  15. Then there’s “Curmudgeonism” and “pro-Curmudgeonismist”.

  16. “Alternatives to evolution”? One thing that we know is that “Intelligent Design” does not propose an “alternative to evolution”, because it does not have enough substance to it, not telling us anything about “what happened, when or where”, nor about “why this, rather than something else”.

    You can see a brief discussion about what might be covered here:
    “Introduction to the Evolution literature” by Gert Korthof

  17. Dear letter-writer,
    We thank you for your letter supporting ID creationsm in schools. Your honesty is most sincerely appreciated. Please keep making such public statements.
    ACLU and pro-science folks

  18. Critical Thinking?

    The Republican party opposes critical thinking in kids– at least the GOP in Texas, anyway– because critical thinking undermines parental authority.

    Texas GOP: “We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.
    [Why Battling Creationism Matters: Learning to Question. Michael Zimmerman. Huffington Post. 8/20/2012.]

    Sure, we’d never want education to challenge student’s fixed beliefs. If kids think diseases are caused by cooties, or demons, why should some punk biology teacher challenge their fixed beliefs?

  19. @Diogenes: We should also mention the fixed beliefs of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy. We wouldn’t want the children to become disillusioned.

  20. Jim Thomerson

    I suppose we should not put dangerous items, poisons, for example, out of children’s reach. Surely they have the right to find out for themselves that certain things are not good to eat, but rather poison.

  21. retiredsciguy: “Teach the kiddies creationism? Isn’t that what Sunday School is for? Or in the home, along with Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy.”

    True, but not the answer needed. What screams to be said – and sadly I don’t even bother checking any more that someone might have beaten me to it – is: “If you don’t like that “creationism” is not taught, then go complain to the DI. They don’t want “creationism” – your brand, that is, be it old- or young-earth – taugh. And that’s because they don’t want students to learn where the real weaknesses are.”

    Another thing I don’t like about the “Teach it in Sunday School” response is that it mixes up legal and moral issues, which makes the Discoveroids very happy. Certainly it’s legal to teach creationism in SS. But at least as immoral, if the “creationism” includes spreading lies about evolution, as opposed to teaching Genesis in a way that many (most?) students interpret as an allegory.

  22. @Frank J — I agree. I was just making the point that creationism and other religious dogma must be kept out of public schools, and any other school receiving public money.

    Yes, it is unethical for anyone to knowingly spread untruth, such as implying that evolution must be false because it cannot explain the process by which life began.