This one is a bit of a classic. It’s from the creation scientists at Answers in Genesis (AIG) — the creationist ministry of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo), the Australian entrepreneur who has become the ayatollah of Appalachia, famed for his creationist ministry, Answers in Genesis (AIG) and for the mind-boggling Creation Museum.
AIG’s headline is Think About It! The author is Dr. Gary Parker, described at the end of the article as “a leading creation scientist and former AiG speaker.” His bio page at AIG says his doctorate is in Education. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:
“Think about it!” What a sane and yet sensational idea. What a rallying point for both creationists and evolutionists. The Scopes trial showed it was foolish to teach only creation; is it any wiser to teach only evolution?
Observe that Gary ignores the question of whether teaching creationism in public schools is legal. He knows it’s not, so he ducks that and asks instead if it’s “wise” to exclude creationism That leaves Gary some wiggle room, which he eagerly exploits:
A detailed doctoral study by Richard Bliss demonstrated that students using a two-model (creation-evolution) approach to origins showed more improvement in inquiry skills than those using the now traditional evolution-only approach. (By the way, the two-model students learned evolution concepts better than those taught evolution only.)
Gary has a footnote for that “detailed doctoral study,” and here it is:
Richard B. Bliss, A Comparison of Two Approaches to the Teaching of Origins of Living Things to High School Biology Students in Racine, Wisconsin. Dissertation, University of Sarasota (ERIC Ed 152568), 1979. See also, R. B. Bliss, “A Comparison of Students Studying the Origin of Life from a Two-Model Approach vs. Those Studying from a Single-Model Approach,” Acts and Facts, Impact No. 60 (June 1978).
Acts and Facts is part of the Institute for Creation Research website. Bliss wrote a few articles on the subject for them, but we can’t find a link to that footnoted article. It’s not important. Neither is that nearly 40 year-old doctoral dissertation. Let’s read on:
Furthermore, a two-model approach cannot be accused of indoctrination; can evolution only? Surely, the only way students can “think about it” is when they have access to all the relevant data and the true academic freedom to explore both models of origin.
Yeah — students should have all that good creationist data. Gary continues:
Even if various pressure groups (ironically operating under the guise of “academic freedom”) succeed in censoring and suppressing all views except evolution, the case for creation will still be studied in science classes. The case for creation will be evident in sets of adaptations working together, such as we see in the woodpecker; in the growth and birth of a baby; and in the fantastic molecular integration within cells, such as the relationship between DNA and protein. Because of the way things have been made, the case for creation will always be present in the subject matter of science itself, especially in lab and field work.
Right! When you start with the unshakable belief that everything was divinely created, then whatever you see will be creationist evidence. Here’s more:
One other special feature of creation is so obvious we often fail to notice it: its beauty. I once took my invertebrate zoology class to hear a lecture on marine life by a scientist who had just returned from a collecting trip to the Philippines. Toward the end of his lecture he described the brightly colored fish he had observed at a depth where all wavelengths of light were absorbed except for some blue. In their natural habitat, the fish could not even see their own bright colors, so what possible survival value could the genetic investment in this color have? Then he challenged the students to pose that question to their biology professors.
Okay, that’s enough. Gary goes on to say the same thing over and over again. Each time he uses different words, but that’s all he has to say. There’s no point in giving you any more excerpts. Instead, let’s think about his argument.
First, it’s a very old argument — it goes all the way back to the time when our ancestors were still living in caves. All religions in human history have some version of the same thing. “I don’t understand this, therefore Oogity Boogity!”
The “modern” version is probably best expressed in William Paley’s watchmaker analogy. It was known to Darwin and to everyone else in his day. It’s still the foundation of the Discoveroids’ intelligent design “theory.” But is it a good argument? No, it’s really quite bad — see David Hume’s rebuttal. We wrote about Paley’s argument and offered our own objections here: Rethinking Paley’s Watchmaker Analogy.
We can certainly approve of teaching students about Paley’s argument, and the reasons why it’s not persuasive. That will help students learn how to think. But it’s inexcusable to blindly rely on Paley’s argument to make a case for creationism.
When two explanations are available, one based on understandable, evidence-based facts, and the other based on incomprehensible events caused by an inherently unknowable entity (the gods, the Discoveroids’ designer, etc.), which explanation should we accept? We discussed this before in Sherlock Holmes and the Mystic.
Let’s wrap this up with one more excerpt from Gary’s article. It’s right at the end:
All you need is an inquiring mind, a sharp eye, and a willing heart. “Think about it!” What’s the more logical inference from our scientific observations of genetics and the fossil evidence: time, chance, and the evolution of matter, or plan, purpose, and irreducible properties of organization pointing to special acts of creation?
That’s the proper question. What’s your answer, dear reader?
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