Creationist Wisdom #508: Preacher & Teacher

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in The Dispatch of Lexington, North Carolina. The letter is titled Writers are dogmatic. There’s a comments section at the end.

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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13 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #508: Preacher & Teacher

  1. not everything is repeatable, and you give examples which are from the distant past, which probably wouldn’t carry any weight. I’d think that it would be better to give examples which are not repeatable for other reasons: The center of the Earth. The supernova SN 1987A. The eradication of smallpox.

  2. Mike Elzinga

    So, he taught sixth graders in public school for three years. He was asked to teach evolution, but then he throws in creationism.

    I wonder if that is the reason he was in the public schools for only three years.

  3. I’d put it another way: he was asked to teach science, but threw in creationism. He might as well have added astrology and geocentrism while he was at it. (Except that astrologers are among those whom the Bible commands us to hunt down and kill along with “witches.”)

  4. Orchardist156

    He reminds me of a far right anti immigration speaker saying “I’m not racist, but…”

  5. This dude is blind, deaf, and silly (polite for stupid) as his points have been written about by so many that to not know about them means he is blind, deaf, or stupid or all 3!!!!
    I really wish these xtians could come up with better more original arguments, they are getting really boring.

  6. Charles Deetz ;)

    What a dullard, every play right out of the “Creationism for Dummies” playbook.

    I’m waiting for SC to post some advanced Creationist chatter about the latest news of recent revision of the ‘tree of birds’.

  7. Unfortunately, there are way too many like this guy put in the position to teach science in middle schools. In Ohio, where I taught, and I suppose in most other states as well, middle school teachers can teach any subject as long as they have K – 8 certification. That’s why most Jr. Highs are now Middle Schools — greater administrative flexibility. A science teacher in a Jr. High (in Ohio, anyway) needed to have Secondary Science certification. Not an iron-clad guarantee that they’d be a good teacher, but at least they would know something about science.

    For most students, Middle School — Jr. High is their last exposure to earth sciences, and for some, the last exposure to science altogether. It’s a shame that in so many Middle School classrooms, “science” class is where the students do little more than make posters touting the benefits of recycling.

    Don’t get me started.

  8. Writers are dogmatic – please read: preachers aren’t.
    That’s the best title for Creation Wisdom ever.

    “they learned that part of the scientific method is being able to perform a repeatable experiment.”
    Ah, this is one of my favourite creacrap arguments. See, the rev’s mother giving birth to the rev is not a repeatable experiment. So the statement that the rev was born from his mother is not scientific. The rev just has entitled me to maintain he was found in a cauliflower.
    Of course the god creating the whole thing is not repeatable either, so creationism according to the rev himself still fails the scientific method.
    Wow, even Ol’ Hambo gets this better. Relatively speaking.

  9. @mnbo
    Many of the arguments against evolution are at least as sound as arguments against reproduction. (In fact, many were used in the 18th century in favor of preformationism.)
    What the creationists are working with is what Bacon thought what science was, and that has long been superseded by philosophers of science. (It wouldn’t work, for example, to decide against geocentrism.)

  10. Quoting Dennett
    The quote is from “Dangerous Idea”, page 21. D. is saying how Darwin’s idea has philosophical as well as scientific importance.
    Given that this letter doesn’t do anything with the quote, one can’t call it quote mining.

  11. Holding the Line in Florida

    @retiredsciguy. I know that is they way it is in many of the schools down here in FL. At least in our school I tend to have some influence as to what is being taught. Fortunately for our kids, 7th Grade is where Evilution and Plate Tectonics and Earth History are taught and I give them the full consideration they deserve. I talk Evolution and Scientfic Theories all year long to make it clear that this the way all reality based people should think. I will never forget the day that Nobel Prize Winner Sir Harry Kroto spoke to the assembled science teachers from the Panhandle (part of the Florida Arc) about the importance of teaching real science using videos of G. Bush, Trent Lott and other top guvmint leaders of the time pushing ID and creationism to illustrate the result of not doing it. At least 2/3 of the teachers walked out in the middle of the presentation. I was thrilled beyond belief just to hear the man, let alone actually talk with him. He was so gracious to discuss these things with a mere 7th Grade Science teacher. One teacher came up and told him he was essentially an evil man and shouldn’t have been talking this way. He asked her how the Grand Canyon was formed, and she proudly proclaimed Noah’s Flood. Sir Harry replied, “and you teach science!” We looked at each other and laughed! A treasured moment in my life!

  12. Holding the Line in Florida: Sir Harry Kroto has always been outspoken whenever something crazy is going on in Florida. He’s a very good man.

  13. Better get ready SC. Andrew Koenig has dusted off his annual creationism bill again.