Creationist Wisdom #836: The Science Teacher

Today’s second letter-to-the-editor appears in the Grand Island Independent of Grand Island, Nebraska. The letter is titled Is it time for intelligent design?, and the newspaper has a comments feature.

Unless the letter-writer is a politician, preacher, or other public figure, we won’t embarrass or promote him by using his full name — but today we’ve got a high school science teacher. It’s Dave Olson, who teaches at Northwest High School. We wrote about him a few years ago — see Creationism in a Nebraska School Board. He was arguing that he “wants students to learn the evidence both for and against neo-Darwinian evolution.” He gave the school board a PowerPoint presentation with several slides quoting Discoveroid Jonathan Wells.

Now he’s at it again. We’ll give you a few excerpts from Olson’s letter, enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary, and some bold font for emphasis. Here we go!

This year the Nebraska Department of Education revised the science standards for Nebraska schools. What is interesting is the position regarding evolution.

We didn’t write about that because it wasn’t particularly controversial, but our friends at the National Center for Science Education did — see New state science standards in Nebraska. Olson says:

There is some agreement [Hee hee!] in the scientific community with Darwin’s theory. Changes do occur over time, changes are the result of the random genetic distribution of traits, and favorable traits allows the most advantaged organism to survive. It is possible that we all did come from a common ancestor. However it is also possible the similarities among living things could be the result of common design.

[*Begin Drool Mode*] Ooooooooooooh! [*End Drool Mode*] Common design! After that he tells us:

Darwinism has a prior commitment to materialism rather than a neutral assessment of the evidence.

Yes, Darwinists aren’t neutral regarding unevidenced supernatural intervention in the world. Olson continues:

The laws of logic are necessary because science alone cannot explain metaphysical truths (such as, that there are minds that exist other than my own), ethical judgments (you can’t prove Hitler was evil because morality is not subject to the scientific method), and aesthetic judgments (the beautiful and good).

Wow — what an intellect! Let’s read on:

But what if the scientific process, evidence and reasoning lead us to the existence of a creator outside of nature? Do we call it science or religion? [We call it Ooogity Boogity!] The standards fall short in providing a platform for the discussion of other theories.

If the evidence ever leads to such a conclusion, it will be considered. Until then, there’s nothing to talk about. Another excerpt:

One of those theories is intelligent design. However, school boards avoid it because of the decision by Judge John E. Jones III in 2005, Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District.

Indeed. But Olson disagrees with the Kitzmiller decision. He devotes an entire paragraph to regurgitating criticisms we’ve seen before at the Discoveroids’ website. After that ark-load, he ends his letter with this:

The main question at stake is could all of what we see in life originate from blind, undirected chance or could there be an intelligent source?

Another question would be: How would you like it if Olson were the science teacher at your high school?

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17 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #836: The Science Teacher

  1. Michael Fugate

    How can Dave distinguish his idea from common ancestry?
    Compare how an engineer would create different vehicles that move on land, under land, on water, under water and in air. Do they have anything like the similarity of mammals that do those things? or birds?, or reptiles? or arthropods?

  2. it is also possible the similarities among living things could be the result of common design.
    And let me guess: differences between living tings are due to different design?
    But one problem: We know that design is not enough to account for existence. There is noting in a design which says: let this design be produced.

  3. This guy is teaching science in a public school? That’s worrisome!

  4. Michael Fugate

    Notice Dave’s deception:
    “Changes do occur over time, changes are the result of the random genetic distribution of traits, and favorable traits allows the most advantaged organism to survive.”

    This is directed change.

    “The main question at stake is could all of what we see in life originate from blind, undirected chance or could there be an intelligent source?”

    Where is the option above?

  5. “The laws of logic are necessary because science alone cannot explain metaphysical truths (such as, that there are minds that exist other than my own) […]”

    You need logic to look around and observe that other sentient people exist because it is a metaphysical truth? One learn every day, I was thinking that even young children could do that.

  6. Mark Germano

    Although a creationist teaching science at any high school is not ideal, at least Mr. Olson is kind enough to identify himself as one.

  7. Our Curious Curmudgeon: “Another question would be: How would you like it if Olson were the science teacher at your high school?”

    The good “Professor” would be a good fit for Santa Fe or Albuquerque:

    October 26, 2017 “In a stunning rewrite of classroom learning measurements, New Mexico’s Public Education Department has deleted required teaching on landmark civil rights events, Roe v. Wade, immunization benefits, the dropping of atomic bombs during World War II and the process for impeaching state officials.

    “The department hoped to welcome less biting news after pulling an about-face Wednesday night on a plan to gut science education standards for New Mexico students.

    “In recent weeks, parents, educators, scientists and activists have attacked the PED’s plan to pull mentions of climate change, evolution and the age of the Earth from the Next Generation Science Standards.

    “With the newly discovered revisions to required learning in history and health, the battle against changes that cut against established learning principles may now become a guerrilla war in the halls of New Mexico schools.”

    Much more at link.

    http://www.sfreporter.com/news/2017/10/26/not-done-yet/

  8. More from sfreporter link above:

    “The department’s published requirements for US history courses have stricken a host of measures, including knowledge of Rosa Parks and Malcolm X, as well as the seminal reproductive rights case, Roe v. Wade. Gone are measurements of students’ knowledge of trusts and trust busting, the role of banks in the Great Depression, and many requirements for knowledge from the Progressive Era.

    “Similar assessments for New Mexico history classes stop measuring understanding of nuclear weapons and the Cold War arms race. They delete required knowledge of the impeachment process in the state, study of the executive branch and its powers and even basic knowledge of how a bill becomes a law.

    “World history requirements no longer include the demise of slavery as a part of the Industrial Revolution. Taiwan’s split from China and Egyptian unrest are also not required learning.

    “In a state with a widely publicized diabetes problem, end-of-course measurements in health classes delete references to nutrition, healthy food choices and alcohol abuse. Knowledge of emotional and physical changes during puberty will no longer be required learning. Nor will students be asked to learn about immunizations.”

  9. Members of the New Mexico Public Education Department apparently don’t want the students to be less ignorant than they are.

  10. In case you were wondering what New Mexico PED Education Secretary-designate Christopher Ruszkowski looked like (it’s an eye-opener), here you go:

    https://www.abqjournal.com/1083181/ped-adopts-next-gen-science-standards-with-6-nm-additions.html

    Anybody recognize the design of his lapel pin?

    Or earring?

  11. @Random,
    I just got through reading “Lies My History Teacher Told Me” and as a result doubt further distortion of history will have much affect:
    “history is the only subject in which things learned in high school are detrimental to the college student.” – James Loewen

  12. And your link makes it seem as though he has abandoned most of his idiocy (unless I misread?).

  13. “and favorable traits allows the most advantaged organism to survive”
    Note Dave’s lack of understanding and/or honesty: this is wrong. In the end no organism survives. Every organism dies sooner or later. This must be:

    “and favorable traits allows the most advantaged organism to produce more offspring than other individuals”.
    This is the mechanism of evolution. It’s the exact opposite of

    “blind, undirected chance”
    Cynic is right – worrisome that Dave is a a teacher.

  14. It is one of the mechanisms of evolution.
    There are other mechanisms.

  15. @Tom B: “And your link makes it seem as though he has abandoned most of his idiocy (unless I misread?).”

    Yes — but insofar as adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards are concerned. Some (including me)worried about the 6 additional “NM-specific” standards because they were not initially disclosed. (I was sure that at least one would be to “teach the controversy.) But they are specified at the last link and seem okay.

    No — insofar as the deletion of critically significant elements of the history, sociology, politics, health, etc curricula are concerned — the subject of the first link.

    AFAIK, that controversy is yet on-going.

  16. Michael Fugate

    The facebook profiles of those supporting Olson have the following favorites: Judicial Watch, Breitbart, PragerU, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, LiveAction.

  17. The main question at stake is could all of what we see in life originate from blind, undirected chance or could there be an intelligent source?

    Could there be? Of course. But Mr. Olson clearly wants his readers (and, of course, his students) to believe that because there could be, there is. And we all know Whom he has in mind.