Creationist Wisdom #346: Ball State Alumna

The background on the creationism controversy at Indiana’s Ball State University can be read here: Battle of Ball State: Baboonery Abounds. We won’t bother repeating that material, but it’s essential to know what’s happening there in order to appreciate today’s letter-to-the-editor.

We found today’s letter in the Star Press of Muncie, Indiana. It’s titled: Scientific study and theories.

We thought that we might be hearing from yet another creationist faculty member, but no — not this time. We had to Google around to learn something about the author. If we found the right person, she’s a retired “Writing and Editing Professional” — but there is a Ball State connection. That’s where she graduated — with a degree in elementary education.

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. Get ready, dear reader, here we go:

Science is the study of examining and proving theories.

Aaaargh!! When the letter starts off with a two-pronged definition of science, and both prongs are wrong, we know we’re in for a rough ride. Hang on, it’ll get worse:

How everything came to be cannot be proven. Evolution and creation are both theories. One is no more valid than the other. If we choose not to discuss one because some people believe in the other, then we are only looking at half the possibilities.

Aaaargh!! How many children had this woman as their teacher, and then went on in life to be flaming ignoramuses? It’s best not to think about that. Let’s read on:

Philosophical inquiries are the basis of discovery.

Huh? That sounds as if it ought to be a meaningful sentence, but the more we think about it, the less we like it. What can we discover with a philosophical inquiry about the Prime Mover, or the nature of the soul, or a zillion other philosophical issues that have gone nowhere for 25 centuries? The principal area of philosophy that makes sense is natural philosophy, and that’s now called science. We continue:

Professor Eric Hedin taught an elective course with honors students. Are these students supposed to graduate and go into the world without knowledge of differing theories?

It’s difficult to imagine anything more absurd than spending time and paying money for an education that teaches intelligent design. Here’s more:

These two scientific theories — evolution and creation by intelligent design — belong in an advanced science class. How can one not examine existence theories when science is the study of relationships within existence? If you eliminate one, then you must also eliminate the other. Now that sounds like omitting education.

Aaaargh!! There’s more to this brilliant letter, but we’re stopping here. It seems that there’s something horrible in Indiana’s drinking water, but it’s probably too late for a mass evacuation. The damage is done.

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

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12 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #346: Ball State Alumna

  1. Argh! Re “Philosophical inquiries are the basis of discovery.” Philosophy has been around for thousands of years and has not yet answered a single question definitively, not one. (I know I am a philosophy minor.) If you think it has, define for me the phrase “is good.” Nobody has been able to do this yet, so I don’t expect you will be able to (unless you answer, maybe, Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream).

    Do newspapers get so few letters to the editor that they have to publish such drivel?

  2. Richard Olson

    For a few years now I have paid careful attention to the use of the word theory in pop culture; news media (science programming & reporting of legal affairs re creationism/id); op-ed and other ‘informed’ commentary; and in ordinary social discourse with family, friends, co-employees, etc.

    The wonder to me is not that people like this retired educator letter writer are woefully ignorant about evolution. Nor is it surprising to me that so very many others who share her same misapprehensions about reality comprise such a huge proportion of our population, and fill policy-making positions from school board members up to president of the country, or constitute the voting majority for same.

    On the contrary, I’m pleasantly surprised every time a member of the lay public — like myself — is aware of the distinction between claims (be they superstitious explanatory relics, wild-assed guesses, thoughtful speculation, or other), hypotheses yet to be falsified, and theory. And I’m convinced there would likely be a great deal less confusion within the lay body politic if consistency of term usage was the norm instead of the infrequent exception.

    Our society experiences a high degree of failure in teaching and comprehension of evolution because of both prior accepted beliefs insufficiently challenged, and confusion of word meaning, even as we sow the seeds of future miscomprehension due to introduced error from egregious abuse of ‘theory’. The priority issue in life science education ought not be who is wrong. The question(s) ought to be: why does a nonsense, myth-origin, unfalsifiable notion written during the Iron Age (most likely derived from pre-historic beliefs) error persistent? and what changes are necessary to correct this in order to focus education solely on reality?

  3. Vulcanthunder

    And I thought the only stupid people were in Louisiana! (and Kansas and Texas and Alabama – all places I’ve lived and full of creationists)

  4. “Evolution and creation are both theories. One is no more valid than the other.”

    Another pseudoskeptic. That’s probably the most valuable word I have learned in the last 10 years. It was defined as someone who claims to have “no dog in the fight,” but then roots against one “dog” while merely ignoring the other. Some pseudoskeptics truly misunderstand the definition of “theory,” but others willingly pull a bait-and-switch for “the cause.” In either case, simply tell them that students are free to learn the “theory” that has not earned the right to be taught during the ~99+ of their waking hours that are not spent in biology class.

  5. How many years did this person poison the minds of children? Egad!

  6. Richard Olson “And I’m convinced there would likely be a great deal less confusion within the lay body politic if consistency of term usage was the norm instead of the infrequent exception.

    Absolutely. One of my biggest frustrations is how our side allows the ID peddlers to bait-and-switch definitions of “creationism.” ID peddlers shrewdly know that the public defines it as “honest belief in a literal Genesis,” while we critics define it (by context) as “any pseudoscience that promotes unreasonable doubt of evolution.” ID is the latter, but not the former. So when we react to their claim that ID is not creationism with “ID is too creationism” we are giving them exactly what they want.

  7. Frank J says:

    So when we react to their claim that ID is not creationism with “ID is too creationism” we are giving them exactly what they want.

    I’m a secret fellow of the Discovery Institute, giving them exactly what they want.

  8. Philosophy,metaphysics,and even the Ontological arguments make for fascinating discussions,testing our ability to reason,and remind us that anything is possible. I think it is fair to say without this kind of thinking science wouldn’t continually expand our understanding of reality. Here is the big distinction:Science grounds us by reigning philosophy in with the reminders that anything is possible,doesn’t mean we should believe everything is possible,and following evidence has shown huge probabilities against even those things which are impossible to disprove.
    Bigger problem to resolve,is that moderate believers don’t individually support what YEC,OEC,ID,and the Various universities set up propose. We all know how they diverge in which parts are literal,or not,and how old earth is etc. Collectively they support the whole,because it is perfectly fine now to subjectively pick and choose which nonsense makes sense to you,regardless of your pastor,church,denomination,etc. Better to just say yes to it all,sort the fluff for yourself later,than risk damnation if you’re wrong.

  9. Logic is a branch of philosophy, and science can’t really function without logic. So from that standpoint, I think we have to give philosophy a little credit for advancing the state of mankind. But I do agree that philosophy really isn’t the foundation for discovery anymore.

    The letter writer’s ignorance isn’t nearly as annoying to me as her fallacious logic. Because even if creation is just as valid a philosophical theory as evolution (granting her wrong use of “theory”), it still shouldn’t be taught in a SCIENCE class.

  10. As this creationism business unfolds at Ball State, it looks more and more like a degree mill for third-rate minds.

  11. Waldteufel, (great name, btw) I think we should wait to see if the rational side gets through the editorial process here. And Ken, “reigning in” as an idiom makes no sense. You mean ‘reining in,’ I suspect.

  12. There is an excellent letter in today’s Lafayette, Ind. Journal & Courier titled “Running Down Evolution Without Fact, Without Reason”.

    Here’s the link:
    http://www.jconline.com/article/20130814/OPINION03/308140003/Guest-column-Running-down-evolution-without-fact-without-reason

    It appears the Hoosier water hasn’t affected everyone yet; there’s still some sanity here. (And no, I’m not the author of the letter.)