Tag Archives: Church and State
Casey Luskin insists the Discovery Institute is a secular think tank. And he says it with a straight face.
What is it about the spreading of pseudo-science that makes reasonable people cringe and gag? One characteristic is surely the introduction of religious / political thinking into discussions of fact. The natural world simply is. If it upsets our human sensibilities, too freaking bad for us. When a bull shark bites a potential food item (a human leg, perhaps), it is being neither good nor evil; it’s simply hungry and inquisitive. It’s nothing personal. Thus, describing the natural world is best accomplished through observations of what is, not through contemplation of how things should be. Blaming Darwinism for the Holocaust, communism, capitalism, rock ‘n roll music, abortion, racism, moral relativism, and the general decay of Western society is irrelevant to the scientific question of whether or not evolution by natural selection is a valid explanation for observed evolutionary change on planet Earth. What is and what ought to be are two distinct questions.
But throw a rock at the Discovery Institute and you’re more likely to hit a lobbyist or a lawyer than an actual scientist. For example, Casey Luskin, an attorney with the DI, blogs to his fellow intelligent designers about the “it’s just a theory” argument.
Darwinists love to bash Darwin-skeptics who call evolution “just a theory, not a fact.” The truth is that I rarely, if ever, hear people who are closely involved with the ID movement using this line to oppose evolution. The “evolution is just a theory, not a fact” phrase tends to come from the vox populi—intelligent people who studied this issue in their biology class or perhaps have read books like Darwin’s Black Box, Icons of Evolution, or Darwin on Trial, but otherwise don’t follow the issue very closely.
But most creationists do use the argument, endlessly. They also use the “intelligent designer” and “irreducible complexity” arguments. The fact is that intelligent design creationists are a small minority. Polls indicate that most American creationists are of the Old Earth variety. And I think the Discovery Institute knows this full well. Isn’t it really all about talking points, ones the DI can easily disseminate, and ones the general public can easily digest and regurgitate, regardless of the scientific facts?
Casey Luskins also lists his scientific qualifications:
Having taken over a dozen courses covering evolutionary biology at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, I’m a scientific skeptic of neo-Darwinism.
Fine, be a skeptic, Luskin. But are you as skeptical about intelligent design? Have you taken a dozen courses covering intelligent design at the undergraduate and graduate level? No, because intelligent design isn’t a science, and it can be pretty well summed up in a single 15 minute lecture. ID is a vague conclusion, not an explanation. The only thing propping it up is a propaganda machine. And all the whining in the world about “morals”, “culture”, and “academic freedom” isn’t going to polish the ID turd. The Discovery Institute calls itself the “Center for Science and Culture”. But it really should choose one or the other, “science” or “culture”, not both. Let “ought” and “is” be distinct; life works so much better when our desires don’t cloud our judgment of reality.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal signed into law a bill that would essentially allow the injection of religion into public schools, particularly the science classroom. If a teacher finds evolution objectionable he or she is free to water it down with a shot of creationism, whether it be the fire and brim stone variety of Young Earth Creationism (YEC) or the more modern argument of Intelligent Design (ID). Come to think of it, teachers could offer any number of alternative arguments. Who’s to stop them now? How about a little Scientology for the students? Space aliens populated the Earth…L. Ron Hubbard said so.
This bill is unfortunate for Louisiana since its students have a history of being ranked near the bottom in math and science skills. The New York Times reported on a 1991 Federal Math Survey:
States in the South and notably poor states did worst, with Louisiana earning the lowest average and Washington, D.C., scoring even lower.
Governor Jindal reported in a speech from March 31, 2008:
Unfortunately, we still rank among the worst in the country when it comes to students’ reading and math scores… flexible funding of $20 million can be used by school districts to recruit teachers in subjects where we consistently lag behind, such as math and science.
So Governor Jindal isn’t doing Louisiana’s students any favors with this bill. Violating the separating of church and state is bad enough, but wasting valuable classroom time with pseudo-scientific garbage is shameful. Clearly, the politicians of Louisiana would rather use public education as a political chew toy than take it seriously. The only ones benefiting from this bill are ultra-religious rabid dogs.
For a more in depth report of Bobby Jindal’s pathetic views go here. He actually said:
I don’t think students learn by us withholding information from them. Some want only to teach intelligent design, some only want to teach evolution. I think both views are wrong, as a parent.
Is creationism withheld from students? Isn’t it everywhere in society? Children are exposed to religious views at home, at church, and though the media. The only exposure most ever will get to real science is in the science classroom. And now that’s being eroded.