Creationist Wisdom #334: The Factory Worker

Today’s letter-to-the-editor is from the Salina Journal of Salina, Kansas. It’s titled Teach other theories. 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 at the end of the letter the writer indicates that he’s a factory worker. Okay, here we go:

The opinion that evolution should be taught because it is a scientific theory ignores the fact that there is just as much scientific theory to support the ideas of intelligent design, or at least a young Earth.

That’s true — but only for meaningless definitions of the expression “scientific theory.” As the National Academy of Sciences defines the word “theory” in the context of science, it means

[A] well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate facts, laws, inferences, and tested hypotheses.

Further, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has a definition of “theory” here, which says:

A scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world, based on a body of facts that have been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experiment. Such fact-supported theories are not “guesses” but reliable accounts of the real world. The theory of biological evolution is more than “just a theory.” It is as factual an explanation of the universe as the atomic theory of matter or the germ theory of disease.

Now that we know the letter-writer has no idea what he’s talking about, let’s read on to see what else he has for us:

The list of scientists who disagree with those theories that support the big bang and evolution is long and growing. Don’t take my word for it; get online and check it out.

We have checked it out — many times. See Discoveroids’ “Scientific Dissent from Darwinism”. Also, that link we gave to the AAAS says this:

Is there a growing body of scientists who doubt that evolution happened? The consensus among scientists in many fields, and especially those who study the subject, is that contemporary evolutionary theory provides a robust, well-tested explanation for the history of life on earth and for the similarity within the diversity of existing organisms. Very few scientists doubt that evolution happened, although there is lively ongoing inquiry about the details of how it happened. Of the few scientists who criticize contemporary evolutionary theory, most do no research in the field, and so their opinions have little significance for scientists who do.

We continue with today’s letter:

And don’t listen to the pro-evolutionist who wants to stamp as nonsense the evidence given by those scientists who disagree with them. When you start with unproven theories as the basis for refuting other unproven theories, all your proving is that circular reasoning exists.

Lordy, lordy. How many of these letters have we seen that refer to the legendary “evidence against evolution,” only to find that they never have any? All they need is just one Precambrian rabbit. Where is it? Here’s more from the letter:

Any ideas concerning the means to how life around us arrived is based on supposition. The theories that stand on both sides of this argument are conclusions drawn from guesswork.

At the risk of seeming judgmental, we’ll stick our neck out and suggest that evolution involves less supposition and guesswork than does the opposing “theory” of Oogity Boogity. That same link to the AAAS says:

Intelligent design proponents may use the language of science, but they do not use its methodology. They have yet to propose meaningful tests for their claims, there are no reports of current research on these hypotheses at relevant scientific society meetings, and there is no body of research on these hypotheses published in relevant scientific journals. So, intelligent design has not been demonstrated to be a scientific theory.

The letter-writer is having a bad day. We slipped our own comment into the middle of the next excerpt:

I’m not here to promote the teaching of any certain religion in our schools. [No, of course not.] I’m just saying that if you want the science behind evolution taught, then be fair and teach the science that refutes it. The typical knee-jerk reaction that any opposition to the standard of evolution has to be associated with God and the Bible is a boondoggle from the atheist section.

He wants us to be fair? That AAAS link addresses this too. They say:

Doesn’t fairness require that alternatives to contemporary evolutionary theory be taught in the public schools? No. This is not about fairness. Science requires adherence to standards of research conduct and process. Intelligent design has not met those standards and should not be taught in science classrooms. If anything, it is unfair for proponents of a non-scientific claim to try to force their views into science classrooms.

And now we come to the letter’s end:

You can teach the appropriate science without mentioning religion if you want to. The subject will be raised, no doubt, but since no one can prove any of this, the differing opinions should be allowed. We’re not talking about indoctrination, the word here is education. Is a proper education gained by limiting the scope of ideas?

Despite the feelings of the factory worker, which are no doubt sincere, there is no value to “educating” people by teaching them nonsense and pseudo-science. If there were, the public schools should also be teaching the geocentric universe, the flat Earth, alchemy, astrology, etc.

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

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8 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #334: The Factory Worker

  1. Realist1948

    In the words of Thomas Frank, “What’s the Matter with Kansas?”

  2. there is no value to “educating” people by teaching them nonsense and pseudo-science. If there were, the public schools should also be teaching the geocentric universe, the flat Earth, alchemy, astrology, etc.

    There is a significant difference with respect to “intelligent design” (and to a lesser extent, with respect to Young Earth Creationism). The geocentric universe and the flat Earth are well described. In particular, the geocentric universe has a detailed mathematical theory which makes specific predictions.

    Intelligent design, on the other hand, was manufactured so as to remove any substantive content. (To avoid legal problems in the USA, but also because of the obvious failures of Young Earth Creationism, while trying not to alienate the political/social base of support.)

    There is no alternative theory, no account for major features of the world of life which does not include “descent with modification”. There is nothing to teach.

    Let’s not let them get away with leaving the impression that there is such an alternative.

  3. waldteufel

    These pathetic letters to the editors of various small town newspapers are depressing in that they reveal the poor science education of the lay public in the United States. How our Curmudgeon retains his sanity after wading through this garbage day after day amazes me.

  4. waldteufel says: “How our Curmudgeon retains his sanity after wading through this garbage day after day amazes me.”

    You think I’m still sane? BWAHAHAHAHAHA!

  5. SC, everyone should go the link to the letter you provide and have a look at the “More Opinion” links at the end of this letter on that page. I’m impressed this current letter is a response the the editorial written by Ben Wearing, Executive Editor, 5/23/13, titled “Theories is Theories”. Its a reasonably good explanation of scientific theory and why religious doctrine can’t be. Of course it had no impact on today’s letter writer.

  6. David says: “Of course it had no impact on today’s letter writer.”

    Adult creationists are almost all incurable. It’s a waste of time to argue with them.

  7. They only want ONE creation “theory” taught, as if xianity has a monopoly on it. Other religions have creation stories, er, “theories”. In fairness, they all must be taught then.

  8. The factory worker asks: Is a proper education gained by limiting the scope of ideas?

    Um, has he ever read the statements of faith of EVERY major creationist organization, for example, the one we just saw in Australia holding a non-Science Fair for kids? Creationism is ABOUT limiting the scope of ideas.