We don’t use a letter-writer’s full name unless he’s a politician, preacher, or other public figure, but there’s no problem this time. The author is Kirk Blankenship, Associate Pastor at Meadowview Reformed Presbyterian Church. Excerpts from his letter will be enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. Here we go!
Dear Freethinkers, please know up-front my goal is not to necessarily contend that creationism ought to be taught in the public schools.
BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Right, not necessarily. We don’t know who the “Freethinkers” are to whom his letter is addressed, but it doesn’t matter. So if the rev doesn’t “necessarily” want creationism in the public schools, then what is his goal? He says:
But as “Freethinkers,” would you be opposed to a compare-and-contrast approach that presented the best of both sides of how the interpretation of the evidence can be done?
[*Groan*] Ah yes, both sides — reality and Oogity Boogity! Let’s read on:
When I taught science in the public schools for three years, I was asked to teach my students about Darwinian evolution, which I did. However, I also taught them the many problems and deficits that evolutionary theory must contend with. For instance, Darwin himself anticipated that if certain problems (e.g. lack of transitional forms, sudden geologic appearance of fully developed species, etc.) could not be overcome with a more complete fossil record, that the problems “would be fatal to the theory.”
The rev must have been a great science teacher — he quote-mined Darwin. You can see what Darwin actually said in Origin of Species, Chapter 9. Search on “fatal to the theory.” Darwin was discussing objections to his ideas, and responding to them. Anyway, the rev continues:
Has the fossil record yielded solutions to these impediments to a theory? I’ve not found that it has when reading about the evidence that is out there.
Hey, rev, check out Wikipedia’s ever-growing list of transitional fossils. Here’s more from his letter:
And while he was far from arguing for creationism, even the famous evolutionist Stephen J. Gould wrote in 1980 that, “In any local area, a species does not arise gradually by the steady transformation of its ancestors; it appears all at once and ‘fully formed.'”
Aaaargh!! That one is debunked here in the TalkOrigins Quote Mine Project. Moving along:
Also, when you claim that creationism “fails the scientific method in every endeavor,” aside from this being a tad bit of overstatement, are you not lampooning your own theory (at least in part) in the process? When I was teaching science to sixth-graders, they learned that part of the scientific method is being able to perform a repeatable experiment.
Aaaargh!! No, rev — not everything is repeatable. The Hawaiian island chain is the result of volcanic activity, but no one expects scientists to do it again. And no one is going to repeat the Big Bang. Another excerpt:
Darwinian evolutionists can form a hypothesis. They can certainly gather data. They can analyze that data. They can obviously draw conclusions. But Darwinian evolution can’t perform an experiment, nor is it able to see the theory at work in our tiny slice of history. So does evolution qualify as passing the scientific method in every endeavor? I think not.
The rev has a good point — we can’t re-create the Earth’s biosphere in the lab. Nor can the rev re-create the Six Days of Genesis, but we know what his response would be: That’s different! On with the letter:
Freethinkers, at the risk of being redundant, I am not arguing for creationism.
BWAHAHAHAHAHA! We believe you, rev. Then what are you trying to say? He tells us:
My venture here has been a modest one. And that has been to show that your letter to the editor did far more to convince people that you have come across more like a creationist in that you appear to be a true believer in something, making dogmatic assertions in something with philosophical roots rather than scientific ones.
The rev has more twists than a DNA molecule. Hey, get this:
But that’s not necessarily a problem. As the decidedly non-Christian Daniel Dennett once said, “[T]here is no such thing as philosophy-free science, there is only science whose philosophical baggage is taken on board without examination.”
That’s a tough one to track down. It’s from Dennett’s book Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, but we don’t know the full context. Considering the rev’s other quotes, we assume Dennett wouldn’t agree with him. Here’s the last of his letter. It just sort of dribbles away:
But discussion of philosophical foundations might be better had in another venue.
So there you are. The rev was not only a successful science teacher, he’s also an accomplished philosopher. Quite a guy!
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