Tag Archives: Creationism

Ohio Science Teacher Accused of Teaching Creationism In Hearing Today

Despite overwhelming evidence of a First Amendment violation, Mt. Vernon middle school was not allowed to simply terminate John Freshwater in 2008. The school has spent months and hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees, money that should have rightfully gone to educating students, in order to justify the termination to an independent committee.

Yet despite knowing exactly what he is taking from students and the school district, Mr. Freshwater has dragged out this hearing to a ridiculous length; 14 months and counting. He has lied multiple times during testimony. He has attempted to manipulate and misdirect. It is unconscionable and beyond the comprehension of this atheist how anyone could still call themselves a Christian while behaving in the manner this man has behaved.

Creationism and ID have caused nothing but confusion and detracted heavily from actual science. The insecurity felt by fundamentalists when confronted with scientific research in no way places a burden upon scientists to falsify data to satisfy religious dogmatic teachings.

John Freshwater has not demonstrated a single reason why he should continue to be trusted with the education of Ohio’s children and several as to why he should not. Sadly, instead of taking those children into consideration and simply accepting the termination, he seems intent on causing as much damage as possible.

Scientists Visit Creationist Museum

The University of Cincinnati hosted the North American Paleontological Convention last week. In what appears to be a planned field trip, approximately 70 paleontologists, paleozoologists and geologists toured the Creationist Museum in Petersburg Kentucky. Apparently they were unimpressed, and who can blame them?

Many of the paleontologists thought the museum misrepresented and ridiculed them and their work and unfairly blamed them for the ills of society.

“I think they should rename the museum — not the Creation Museum, but the Confusion Museum,” said Lisa E. Park, a professor of paleontology at the University of Akron.

“Unfortunately, they do it knowingly,” Dr. Park said. “I was dismayed. As a Christian, I was dismayed.”

Sorry abuot that Dr. Park. I can only imagine what it’s like to have one’s life’s work completely taken out of context and abused and mangled in the way hers has been. But even sadder, I think, are those who visit the museum with the expectation and belief that what is being represented is not a point of view, but verifiable scientific fact. That it’s passed on to children as fact is even worse.

Terry Mortenson, a lecturer and researcher for Answers in Genesis, the ministry that built and runs the Creation Museum, said he did not expect the visit to change many minds. “I’m sure for the most part they’ll be of a different view from what’s presented here,” Dr. Mortenson said. “We’ll just give the freedom to see what they want to see.”

Dr. Mortenson and others at the museum say they look at the same rocks and fossils as the visiting scientists, but because of different starting assumptions they arrive at different answers. For example, they say the biblical flood set off huge turmoil inside the Earth that broke apart the continents and pushed them to their current locations, not that the continents have moved over a few billion years.

“Everyone has presuppositions what they will consider, what questions they will ask,” said Dr. Mortenson, who holds a doctorate in the history of geology from Coventry University in England. “The very first two rooms of our museum talk about this issue of starting points and assumptions. We will very strongly contest an evolutionist position that they are letting facts speak for themselves.”

I love it when religious people disagree with the fundamental conclusions of a scientific discipline but then try to use select parts of those conclusions to support their positions. It’s one thing* to reject science in favor of religion. It’s quite another to completely misrepresent science in order to force it to conform with your world view. The above statement is more than merely uninformed opinion, it’s intentional deceit. This man and the people working at the museum are intentionally deceiving the public in order to make their beliefs seem as though they actually have some bearing in scientific fact.

I’m more than a little amused that people who become so bellicose about science ‘making a mockery of religion’ are completely sanguine with the science fiction that is Creationism. It’s as if they thought to themselves that because science (in their opinions) belittles their beliefs, they now have the right to criticize science. Which seems somewhat arrogant and ignorant all at the same time.

What they don’t seem to realize is that science isn’t around specifically to disprove god or religion or anything of the sort. All science does…is explain our physical universe. Believe it or not my ignorant little theists, it is not necessary to even look at god in order to  do that. I do not need to invoke some unseen unknown inscrutable thing in order to know what conditions need to exist in order for lightning to occur. That isn’t a slight, no matter how badly you want to take it as one. It’s just that science sees that the simplest explanation is usually the best and most accurate. You need to get over yourselves. In short: science just ain’t that into you.

*Okay, yes, one very stupid thing.

Texas Rejects God in the Science Classroom

I am still being surprised by my adopted state. I have had to reject my preconceived notions about Texas and recognize that, while some stereotypes do apply, when it comes to politics and sociological views, it’s as diverse as my home state of California.

Today Texas stepped firmly into the 21st century and embraced science without religion. Although it isn’t final, the fifteen member board voted to remove the “strengths and weaknesses” clause in the state’s science curriculum as it applies to evolution. The clause has previously been used to open the door to the “alternative theory” of Intelligent Design.

The article states:

The new science curriculum standards will take effect beginning with the 2010-2011 school year and last about 10 years.

[snip]

Instead of allowing teachers to teach the “strengths and weaknesses” of evolutionary theory, the proposed science curriculum standards would encourage students to apply critical thinking, scientific reasoning and problem solving “to analyze and evaluate scientific explanations using empirical evidence, logical reasoning and experimental and observational testing.”

In other words, YES, question evolutionary theory. YES, look for gaps in reasoning and facts. But use facts to get there. The original wording of the “strengths and weaknesses clause” reads as follows:

(1) good science education should prepare students to distinguish the data or testable theories of science from philosophical or religious claims that are made in the name of science; and

(2) where biological evolution is taught, the curriculum should help students to understand why this subject generates so much continuing controversy, and should prepare the students to be informed participants in public discussions regarding the subject.


Never mind that were science simply taught as science, there would BE no controversy, or that religion and philosophy have no place in a science classroom, or even that the US Senator who originally proposed the clause was a huge proponent of intelligent design and felt religion should be re-instituted into public schools. Just go ahead and teach the kids that not everyone “believes in” evolution because we need them to know God’s there, too. No. If you want your kids to know that God’s there, too, YOU teach them that. Let the science teachers teach science. It isn’t their job to remind them that they need to feel guilty for learning there’s more to the universe than was covered in the Bible/Torah/Qu’ran.

So I think it is an astounding and wonderful and courageous move by the Texas Board of Education that in the face of knee jerk reactionaries and politicians who are too afraid of not getting re-elected and the near omnipresent church (you can’t go three blocks without seeing a church in Texas), they agreed to let the kids learn how to apply logic and reason in their studies. Of course there are those who disagree:

Ken Mercer, R-San Antonio, who voted to keep “strengths and weaknesses,” said he wouldn’t rubber stamp recommendations from the experts.

“This is a battle of academic freedom. This is a battle over freedom of speech,” Mercer said. “It’s an issue of freedom of religion.”

No, Mr. Mercer. It is not an issue of freedom of religion, because there IS no religion in our classrooms. It is an issue of teaching science in the classroom without fear of religion being inserted. It is an issue of teaching our children to be competitive in a global market. Because we owe them that. We owe our country that. The US is falling behind in scientific development, and the blame can be laid squarely on the shoulders of those superstitious uber religious fundamentalists who have been allowed to push their agenda in our schools and our government. No more.

Today I can honestly state that I am proud of my adopted state; happy to be a Texan.

Dinosaurs Helped Build the Pyramids.

At least….they did according to Vince Fenech, director of Mosta Academy* in Malta. Mr. Fenech is responsible for the education of young minds, aged 4 to 18; something that should cause any parent with a shred of awareness and common sense to cringe and thank the First Amendment that, at least for right now, this nonsense is not being taught in American public schools.

My question (and perhaps I’m being nitpicky in asking) is how the hell do people like this become educators?! No, really. I know teachers are in demand, but how hard up does one have to be to graduate and license a fundamentalist nutjob who is so far out of touch with scientifically proven data, they are actually misinforming who knows how many children to the point that those kids will find it difficult to function in normal society? I mean….what thoughts go through the heads of parents who enroll their children in places like this? “Gee, if I enroll my kids here, they probably won’t ever be able to get accepted to an accredited college, but that’s okay! The world needs janitors, too.”

Harsh? Possibly. But if we have a responsibility to our children at all, it isn’t to keep force feeding them fairy stories til they’re 18 so that they’ll be totally unprepared when they are faced with real challenges. We do our kids no favors by shielding them from reality. If anything, we are doing damage by “protecting” them. The world will teach lessons we fail to instill, and society will be far less kind and nurturing in the process.

There are times when it really seems to me that the resurgence of groups like the Flat Earth Society and the oh-so-charming Fred Phelps & his Westboro Baptist Church (note the web address; can’t you just FEEL Jesus’ love?) signal a serious regression in the education of our kids. There exists such a back lash against fact and science…and for the life of me I can’t begin to understand why. Why are we so intent on keeping our children ignorant? Why is it necessary to ensure that our legacy to them is more superstition and fear? Can we really be so arrogant that we presume that doing so is in their best interest? That learning will in some way harm them?

The only other alternative I can come up with is that some people actively attempt to keep their kids from knowing more than they do; which is so vain and stupid that it boggles my mind to try to wrap itself around the idea. Every generation will learn more than the generation before it. That’s the way life works; it keeps our species moving forward. To attempt to stop that is to encourage our species to devolve.

With all our advances in science, we are past the primitive point where we can accept that the loud noises in the sky are the gods throwing down thunderbolts. The advent of the Hubble telescope, the beautiful images it has sent back and this scale model of our solar system & nearest stars that’s been circling the web for a year or so have shown us just how huge our universe truly is an how unlikely it is that some benevolent all knowing being is “watching over us.”

I do not pretend to have all the answers. Nor do I believe science has provided them all. Yet. It may be that we may someday find all the information we’re looking for. But I do know that if we insist on keeping science and learning from our children, it will only serve to delay that someday. We owe it to them as parents to encourage them to learn.

*I have no idea why this story is only now making the rounds; it’s just bizarre and outrageous enough that it should have been all over the place last year.

Why We (Atheists) Owe Theists and Creationists a Thank You

So the darling man and I were watching a documentary last night about trilobites and the development of the eye.

One of the evolutionary biologists being interviewed (whose name I naturally cannot recall) mentioned that, were it not for the development of the eye, the Cambrian Explosion probably would not have been nearly as huge. I hmmm’d at this.

The documentary went on to explain that humans and other land animals share DNA with many sea cretures. I mumbled (I was tired, it was quite late) “Isn’t it interesting that even with all that shared DNA, theists still scream the house down if we suggest that we all came from a common ancestor, and it ain’t Adam?” and the SO answered “Yeah….y’know, it’s amazing how much we’ve learned thanks to the church.” I lifted my head off his shoulder and looked at him in a “you have turned green and a third eye is growing in your forehead” kind of way.

“No, really,” he went on. “Religion keeps finding these gaps and moving the goal posts and demanding further explanations, and science just says ‘okay, fine’ and goes out and finds the reasons. If it weren’t for the fact that I wish they’d just shut the hell up about what science can’t prove, I’d almost be grateful.”

Huh. I hadn’t thought about that before, to be quite honest. There is no question in my mind that we would still try to find the answers to life’s mysteries. That our inherent curiosity would push us to explore as much of our world and ourselves as possible.  But I do wonder if we’d attack it with quite the same insistence. And we don’t even have to find which questions to answer, because they do it for us! And the beauty of it is…. we end up finding the answers to questions we didn’t even THINK to ask! How cool is that?

So theists & creationists… thanks. No, really. Keep asking those questions. I get frustrated and annoyed, but …you help push the process along, you really do. I very much doubt we’ll convince many of you that you’re wrong (that’s another post entirely), but your continuing contributions to the scientific community have been, if involuntary, extraordinarily helpful.