Sunday, July 07, 2013

5 ways that Fundamentalists are trying to sneak Creationism into schools.

Courtesy of Salon:  

1. Pretending to teach kids “critical thinking” skills: A spate of bills appeared in states this year that purported to help guide public school teachers in helping students apply “critical thinking” to select “controversies.” Not surprisingly, the controversies singled out always included evolution. 

 2. Lumping it in with other controversies: Arizona lawmakers this year deliberated a bill that identified a series of “controversial” subjects and signaled them out for special classroom treatment. These included “biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.” 

Louisiana already has a law on the books permitting public school teachers to use “supplemental” material when discussing certain controversial issues, evolution among them. No one knows for sure what these supplemental materials are, but given that state’s constant efforts to undermine evolution, it’s safe bet On the Origin of Species is not on the list. 

A school board in Springboro, Ohio, is considering a similar ruse, only its list is even longer. Once again, the idea here is to attempt to seize some type of moral high ground as proponents claim they are only trying to teach “both sides.” 

The multiple theories in science are presented every day, but only if there is a discrepancy in determining what the evidence proves, NOT because there is a conflict with a scientist's religious faith. 

3. Calling it academic freedom: Academic freedom is an important concept at colleges and universities. It has not been extended to public secondary schools because those institutions teach impressionable youngsters. Thus, school officials and democratically elected boards have the power to rein in teachers who start acting like preachers or who stray too far from the accepted curriculum. 

A common creationist ruse is to assert that teachers have the right, under academic freedom, to introduce material that undercuts evolution. They do not. Over the years, several public school teachers have made this argument in court. All have failed. 

4. Urging teachers to “go rogue”: Even though there is no academic freedom right to teach creationism, some public school teachers behave as if there is. They simply don’t teach evolution or teach it in such a way as to instill doubts in students’ minds. 

A recent survey of public school high school science teachers in Pennsylvania found 19 percent backing some variant of creationism. One biology teacher in Altoona said he believes Earth is 10,000 years old and that the methods used to date it at 5 billion years are faulty. 

“Sometimes students honestly look me in the eye and ask what do I think?” wrote this teacher in response to a newspaper survey. “I tell them that I personally hold the Bible as the source of truth. I tell them that I don’t think [radiocarbon dating] is as valid as the textbook says it is, noting other scientific problems with the dating method. Kids ask all kinds of personal questions and that’s one I don’t shy away from. It doesn’t in any way disrupt the educational process. I’m entitled to my beliefs as much as the evolutionist is.” 

Yes, he is entitled to his belifs. But he is not entitled to teach them as if they are facts.

And the inability to understand that makes him unfit to be a teacher of science.

5. Calling creationism something else. Back in the 1980s, “creation science” was all the rage among fundamentalists. They seemed to believe that all you had to do was tack the word “science” onto something and presto, it was science. (“Flat Earth Science,” anyone?) 

That stunt failed when the Supreme Court struck down a Louisiana law mandating “balanced treatment” between evolution and creation science in 1987. The term “creationism” became more popular, even though it was the same old thing. When courts failed to fall for it, some advocates began using the term “the theory of abrupt appearance.” 

Still others glommed on to “evidence against evolution.” Again, these name changes failed to fool anyone. It was the same old creationism in a new dress. 

Most recently, “intelligent design” has become all the rage. Sometimes known by the acronym ID, intelligent design tries to cover up some of the more outlandish claims of standard creationism (6,000-year-old Earth, dinosaurs and humans living at the same time, Noah’s Ark was real, etc.) and instead posits that humans and other life forms are so complex that they must have been designed by some intelligent force. If this force just happens to be the Christian god, then so be it.

Long ago certain religious leaders realized that the more educated their flock became the less likely they were to see them show up on Sunday mornings.

To combat that they have created this weird dichotomy between religion and science and have worked to put them on a level playing field, by suggesting that they both rely on a form of faith.

By doing that they literally dragged science down to a level where they felt they could wrestle it into submission. Of course that only works if they have already created a framework whihc brings into doubt the validity of scientific research and its findings. (Of course this only centers around the sciences which fall into question the teaching of the Bible, such as evolution, geology, and paleontology, anthropology, cosmology, well you get the idea.) Nobody cares to challenge the findings of aeronautic science, or medical science, or botany.

And if these fundamentalists cannot force their will onto the public school system, they will push for charter schools (Often with a religious bias), or, better yet, home school where the  reams of their "scientific" literature are competitively priced and aggressively advertised.

Make no mistake, we ARE in a war. A war for the future of our country, and for our children's minds.


  1. Anonymous7:32 AM

    Excellent post. Thank you.

    At prresent, I fear that the far right is totally unaware of the impact of its narrow-minded ignorance that h as the potential to derail America and shift us into a third-world mentality.

    Big business interests such as Koch Industries may feel that it can benefit from this slide into darkness by having a less educated work force that will have to be content with lower wages as more educated nations take over as the innovators and champions of human rights.

  2. Not much has changed since The State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes in 1925. Looks like the Christian right wants to take us back to "them good ole' days".

  3. hedgewytch8:09 AM

    My son is about to lose a playmate because the child is being raised as a fundamentalist. They were playing yesterday and got into an argument because of dinosaurs, which my kid is fanatical about. At 9 he can tell you all the types of dinosaurs and which time period they are from, how they evolved from species to species and how long ago they lived. The other kid was getting upset with my kid because my kid wasn't allowing the "but dinosaurs, mammals and people were all created and lived at the same time." I feel so sorry for these kids. They are going to be at such a disadvantage in their lives because of the falsehoods and lack of critical thinking skills they've been instilled with.

  4. Don’t eat from the Tree of Knowledge (Genesis).

    Many of us have experienced outside forces, that are pretty common, but they have no denomination. The willful slide back into religious ignorance astonishes me. I understand the clergy wanting that, but what’s wrong with the laity?

    1. Oh, and if there’s a problem, make sure you blame the womenfolk.

      Maybe a religious scholar (I’m not one) can write What’s Wrong with the Laity? It might take off like What’s Wrong with Kansas. I won’t mind.

  5. Anonymous8:39 AM

    The Republicans want to be the party of "stupid." If people are smart, go to college, read and think critically, they might not believe the junk that the Republicans are saying. If they replace science with creationism, then kids who are fed that stuff will get a lower score of their SAT exams and they won't get into college. In Kansas, the state school board replaced science with creationism, and they soon found out that their kids could not get into colleges, would not become doctors, dentists, veterinarians, nurses, pharmacists or anything else that requires a BS in college. It took a few years for the people to realize that they were making their kids the lowest people on the totem pole, and at the next election, the creationists on the school board were replaced. They want to keep their kids at a disadvantage so they will remain stupid and vote Republican.

    1. Anonymous9:36 AM

      Any of my republican friends have long left their party, it is now taken over by religious zealots trying to turn the USA into a theocracy.
      And I welcome any republican posters to debate this issue with me. Where is your party going?

      Little Rabbit

    2. Anonymous11:19 AM

      But even industry is having an issue - industry that hires technologists constantly complain about the "lack of critical thinking" skills possessed by the BS degree grads. that is what religiosity and creationism does - every question is answered with "God says" and every obvious scientific vs. religion discrepancy causes a brain shutdown. That becomes a habit that carries into the work world for them.

  6. Sally in MI8:58 AM

    I also think that the current war on women is going to be pinned on Eve. You know, because she tempted Adam and he gave in. (Which flies totally in the face of their God knows all, directs all stuff!) It explains perfectly why rape is the woman's problem, why ANY embryo is sacred (because it took sperm!) and why women are again being treated as far less than equal. All the right needed was Barack Obama to be elected, and they had the perfect recipe for this takeover...fear and hatred of blacks in general, and fear of anyone not professing THEIR hypocritical Christianity. We must continue to fight this nonsense before we are indeed, a third world nation...or gone.

  7. CJWhite9:30 AM

    I love that picture of Jesus cuddling the baby dinosaur! The only thing better would be a T-Rex cuddling a baby Jesus. I'd pay money for that picture!

  8. Anonymous9:34 AM

    I always love how "creationists disreguard science until they need viagra or blood pressure or heart meds. Shouldnt they dis believe science then too.

  9. Anonymous10:23 AM

    In the vein of belief versus certainty.

  10. Anonymous11:15 AM

    Or better yet, de-fund public schools and give parents vouchers to use in the private school of their "choice" where the only schools available are religion based. (See Indiana aka "idiotville.")

  11. Anonymous11:22 AM

    Note to Gryphen, about religious zealots taking over our government. Check out the book, "Christian Nation" at Amazon and read the reviews and descriptions. The premise of the novel (it's fiction, Sarah, stop calling the lawyers) is what would happen if the 2008 election had gone to McCain and he died in office. While Palin is seen as a buffoon, she is surrounded by people from the religious community who take over the government. Sarah's fans think that the book is just there to poke fun at her. People on the other side see it as a warning and a point of discussion.

  12. Anonymous11:47 AM

    It's crap like this that is one of the main reasons that we homeschool. (Believe it or not there are some of us who are secular!) We have a VERY science-minded child, and the "curriculum" we follow only discusses religion in terms of world history. The Salon article is partly right - efforts by the bone headed religious right ARE damaging our standing as a world science leader, but I would argue that due to efforts like these, that standing has already been damaged, badly.

    1. Anonymous2:14 PM

      Another secular homeschooler. I agree that the schools are falling down on teaching science, especially evolution. Many school district are so afraid of the far right they skip the topic altogether.


  13. Anonymous11:52 AM

    I attended a "Christian" school that used A Beka textbooks (which, frankly, should not be allowed to market themselves as textbooks because they're full of insane right-wing Christian revisionism on every subject). Their "refutation" of evolution was, I now realize, shallow and oversimplistic--it made "evolutionists" out to be irrational ideologues who made leaps of faith far greater than that needed to believe in a creator god.

    That said, since I graduated from high school and have tried to learn about evolution, I have encountered only condescension and arrogance from "evolutionists" (for lack of a better term). Whenever I have asked questions about the science that supports evolution, I have been treated like an idiot, as if I'm beneath contempt because I don't already know it.

    Please understand that for me to accept evolution without researching the science and evidence that prove it would be as absurd as for you to suddenly decide creationism is true. My education provided only the most basic overview of evolution, and every science class I took focused on debunking it. I know intelligent and educated people, including engineers, who believe intelligent design and have done mathematical calculations that they claim prove it.

    I don't think most of you realize how thorough and seemingly logical the indoctrination is. I'm starting from square one in my attempts to educate myself. Unfortunately, I've encountered only scorn and vitriol from people who don't understand how I can even question whether evolution is true.

    Look, if I have concluded that what I was taught my whole life might not be true, I'm not going to accept an alternate explanation without doing due diligence. I'm not going to take evolution "on faith" because other people say science proves it; I want to read and evaluate the science for myself.

    We were taught that when evolution apologists don't know the answers to questions or can't disprove creationist claims, they just attack and mock. My experience has certainly not disproven that--any questions I've asked, including the simple request for book recommendations to help me understand evolution, have been met with scorn and vitriol.

    You can mock people for their religious beliefs. But please have some compassion for those of us who were raised with those beliefs and are now struggling to figure things out for ourselves.

    1. Anonymous1:45 PM

      Start here:


    2. Anonymous2:44 PM

      Your local library is always a good source for info on most things. Check out a few books :) That way you can read at your leisure.

      Little Rabbit

    3. Anonymous3:12 PM

      Here are some more youtube videos:

      Also, watch A Flock of Dodo. It is available on Netflix. This movie looks at the whole debate.

      I am sorry that other are not answering your questions. If you look to the right of the youtube video, you can watch related vidoes to see all points of view. Good luck.


  14. Anita Winecooler7:13 PM

    I suppose the argument that non believers in evolution would force a bride to transplant one of her ribs in her husband, you know, as restitution for being created by a mans rib?

    The part about the teacher saying kids ask her personal matters and she feels compelled to tout what the bible says and call carbon dating "Flawed" is bullshit.

    I guess I'm lucky, my kids went to fantastic public schools with real educators and weren't exposed to creationism/intelligent design/whatever as anything but a hoax. Their Science and Math teachers encouraged critical thinking, especially to female students to the point that both my daughters chose fields of study in Science for their college careers.

  15. Anonymous7:46 PM

    I find it somewhat disingenuous that your post, while purporting to seek a scientific understanding of evolution, manages to mention all the creationist "claims" against evolution at the same time.

    It is hard to believe that you cannot easily find a plethora of authentic scientific information about evolution from the numerous sites on the Internet (including academic and semi-academic ones) or from the science section of any library or bookstore.

    So disregarding for the moment the possibility that you might be a creationist troll, try the following books for starters:

    "Only a Theory" - Kenneth R Miller (a Catholic, incidentally)
    "Finding Darwin's God" - Kenneth R Miller
    "The Greatest Show on Earth" - Richard Dawkins
    "Why Evolution is True" - Jerry Coyne

    Google for scientific sites covering evolution. It's not too hard to verify their credentials.

    Evolution is established mainstream science, so you shouldn't have too much difficulty in accepting its validity for yourself, if seeking scientific truth is really your goal.

    1. Anonymous9:12 PM

      Above comment @7:46 PM is a response to Anonymous @11:52 AM. Thanks.

  16. Anonymous9:16 PM

    'Between plants and animals there is sponge, and, between animals and humans there is monkey.'

    - İbrahim Hakkı, scholar of Islam, Erzurum (Ottoman Empire), 18th century

    This 'Young Earth creationism' idea is another reason why many Muslim scholars take issue with the Christian Bible.

  17. Anonymous10:27 AM

    I beg to differ about people not challenging medical science. As a physician I daily have to deal with people who stop their meds because of something they heard from a friend, relative, Internet, the TV, etc. None is scientifically valid, but they lack the critical thinking skills to get beyond their fears. I can point out that the medication I prescribe is less likely to have side effects than their chance of getting in an accident driving home from my office, but they still think they're sure to get side effects. I know that you can play games with statistics, and the drug companies do play them, but they can't get around their prejudices. It's the same mentality that keeps people playing the Lottery ... the chances of winning is less than being struck by lightening, but somebody won, so I got a good chance!


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