Creationists' new angle--it's in the name of academic freedom
Christian Dem in NC printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 04:59:43 PM EST

(cross-posted at dKos)

Looks like the creationist crowd is trying a new tack to try and get a toe in the evolution debate. Apparently shutting out discussion of creation amounts to a denial of academic freedom.

Today (February 12) is Darwin Day, proclaimed by its celebrants as "an international celebration of science and humanity." The observance, according to the event's website, "expresses gratitude for the enormous benefits that scientific knowledge, acquired through human curiosity and ingenuity, has contributed to the advancement of humanity."

The same day, a counter-celebration -- Academic Freedom Day -- is being observed, encouraging students across the U.S. to defend their right to debate the evidence for and against Darwin's theory of evolution. John West, a senior fellow with the Discovery Institute, explains that the idea for Academic Freedom Day came from evolutionary critics who believe the pros and cons of evolution should be discussed in public school classrooms.


The Discovery Institute is the same outfit that helped touch off the Dover controversy--and had its head handed to it in that case when the judge all but said it was trying to get creation through the back door.

 

Admittedly, it's a clever ruse--all we want is equal time. The problem is that it's been proven time and again that "creation science" is not science, but simply putting a scientific gloss on "Well, God made it that way." It's not stifling debate. We're simply saying, "You want to make your argument? Fine. Just don't call it science."

Also, their ultimate goal is not merely "a place at the table," but to push out evolution entirely. The Discovery Institute all but admits this in the first paragraphs of its manifesto, the Wedge Document.

The proposition that human beings are created in the image of God is one of the bedrock principles on which Western civilization was built. Its influence can be detected in most, if not all, of the West's greatest achievements, including representative democracy, human rights, free enterprise, and progress in the arts and sciences.

Yet a little over a century ago, this cardinal idea came under wholesale attack by intellectuals drawing on the discoveries of modern science. Debunking the traditional conceptions of both God and man, thinkers such as Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, and Sigmund Freud portrayed humans not as moral and spiritual beings, but as animals or machines who inhabited a universe ruled by purely impersonal forces and whose behavior and very thoughts were dictated by the unbending forces of biology, chemistry, and environment. This materialistic conception of reality eventually infected virtually every area of our culture, from politics and economics to literature and art.


So no matter what the evidence for evolution, it's invalid because it's rooted in materialism. Believe it or not, this is actually a common argument from the anti-evolution crowd. For instance, one anti-evolution site lists the number-one reason for why evolution is invalid is that it promotes atheism. Nope, it's not the usual arguments that it's bad science. It's because it turns people away from God.

So when you hear the religious right complain about academic freedom being stifled, just remember--it's another dog whistle. Fortunately, as a reality-based charismatic/pentecostal Christian, I can hear the pitch.



Display:
  1. a student's right to demand and receive class time to discuss items not related to the course objectives and format, or a student's right to receive credit for assignments when the student does not fulfill the assignment but substitutes some other topic outside the limits of the assignment. An assignment of "Discuss scientific predictions made on the basis of the theory of evolution, and proven to be accurate" or "Describe what Darwin actually said" does not mean that the student can get an A for maundering on about how only God can design a flagellum.
  2. a teacher's right to offer any course on any topic, regardless of the teacher's area of expertise, the needs of the department, and financial viability of the course. Physicists do not get to have salary support and classroom space to teach biology courses based on intelligent design.
  3. a university's obligation to offer courses providing affirmation of all possible viewpoints, whether fact-based or not. The university is under no obligation to provide a course teaching Holocaust denial as fact.
  4. a faculty member's unilateral right to refuse to teach a validly registered student on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, etc. instead of lack of prerequisite courses or specific skills, or a credible threat made by the prospective student to the faculty member or other students in the class (in other words, faculty can refuse a stalker). The student is the customer of the university, and the faculty member is the employee of the university, expected to provide contracted services to eligible students.

Academic freedom IS
  1. the right of faculty and students to present your minority, but still fact-based and peer-reviewable methodologically sound, interpretation regarding subject X, in addition to presenting the consensus fact-based interpretation. Faculty member can't hand the students opinions pulled out of faculty member's own ass (can't be unprofessional), and students can't do the same to faculty (not fulfilling assignment).
  2. the (slightly limited)* right to express your own opinion in print etc outside the confines of the course objectives, on your own dime. If a biochemistry professor wants to express admiration for Ayn Rand or Marx on a private blog, who cares, as long as that prof. isn't stating that the article represents official university policy? Or maybe the famous biochemistry professor has decided on no particular evidence that a common molecule cures all disease, and advocates its use in a non-scholarly, non-peer-reviewed book aimed at the public - but doesn't teach this as received fact in a medical school biochemistry class (Linus Pauling and vitamin C). Who cares?

*The limits are controversial, and relate to prejudice against the academic capacity of an entire gender, race, religion, ethnicity. This implies, but does not conclusively prove, an unwillingness to teach and an unwillingness to be fair when evaluating the performance of a university's student-customer belonging to the disparaged group. If proven, this unwillingness would be a breach of contract with the university. An example: a (male) maths teacher at an all-women college frequently states that women are too stupid to understand maths, and to prove his point gives graduate level course content instead of the contracted introductory level undergraduate course, and flunks everyone. (Mount Holyoke College, 1972-3, non-tenured faculty contract terminated early for breach of contract - I was a freshman student in one of his intro courses).

by NancyP on Sat Feb 14, 2009 at 01:31:52 AM EST

As long as they can fool the public into using their views of 'fairness' and 'freedom to express' to pervert their meaning for the Creationist's own purposes against the general public they will not stop. They know that the majority of people in this country are illiterates when it comes not just to basic science but even in the areas of cognition but analytics and deconstruction of ideas too are lacking among those enthralled with monster trucks and football games. Anywhere that the electorate are woefully lacking in knowledge and having an underdeveloped sense of separating the garbage from the jewels when it comes to ideas and notions. But when you have a mystical view of reality it becomes harder as it slides from the physical to the metaphysical. Much like in ancient times. Where the "Enlightenment" is a dirty word to them.

by Nightgaunt on Mon Mar 23, 2009 at 02:50:07 PM EST


WWW Talk To Action


The President's Faith: A Matter Of Choice, Not Compulsion
Today President Barack Obama, who is the world's worst Muslim - he drinks alcohol and eats bacon - will do something many Muslims do......
By Rob Boston (0 comments)
Voting For Jesus?: Candidates Seek To Outdo One Another With Religiosity
The Iowa caucuses are today, and, despite what you may have heard, Jesus Christ is not appearing on the ballot.Several of his close friends......
By Rob Boston (1 comment)
Conventional Wisdom Watch: Getting it Wrong about the Religious Right
It is a case of the more things change the more things stay the same. I wrote a short post in 2008 about how......
By Frederick Clarkson (4 comments)
Club Fight: Tenn. Residents Complain About High School's Gay-Straight Alliance
At public schools around the country, students, mostly high schoolers, are forming Gay-Straight Alliance clubs. Fundamentalist Christians often freak out over the existence of......
By Rob Boston (0 comments)
Zionism and Eschatology
The church I attend just had a member place a display at the back of a Sunday morning Bible class.  The display called for......
By wilkyjr (2 comments)
Save The Day: Celebrating Real Religious Freedom
Saturday is Religious Freedom Day. While it's not one of our most well-known or popular holidays, Religious Freedom Day shouldn't be overlooked. Our country......
By Rob Boston (0 comments)
Warning of Theocratic Zones of Control
This week, I published a report -- months in the making --  titled, When Exemption is the Rule: The Religious Freedom Strategy of the......
By Frederick Clarkson (5 comments)
Moore Grandstanding: Ala. Chief Justice Tries Again To Block Marriage Equality
Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore last week tried, once again, to block marriage equality in that state.There is no case pending before......
By Rob Boston (0 comments)
Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone and Maureen Mullarkey Share the 2015 Coughlin Award!
Yes, folks it's that time of the year again. It's time for the presentation of the annual Coughlin Award. As it is every......
By Frank Cocozzelli (3 comments)
All Quiet on the War on Christmas Front
It is time for my annual response to the preposterous-but-malevolent claims broadcast on Fox News and elsewhere that there is a War on Christmas.......
By Frederick Clarkson (3 comments)
Christian Right: Inviting Cruz or Trump to Tea?
With Republican candidate Ben Carson dropping like a stone in a pool of confusion, who gets invited to the tea party? Tea Party activists......
By Chip Berlet (2 comments)
A Plethora Of Pulpit Politicking Problems?: Far-Right Pastors Prepare For Electoral Bids
The state of Tennessee used to have a law that banned members of the clergy from running for public office. The U.S. Supreme Court......
By Rob Boston (3 comments)
Trump: An Apocalyptic Messenger for the Christian Right
We stand in the overflow crowd of some 300 in the small town of Tyngsborough near the New Hampshire border. Several thousand people are......
By Chip Berlet (3 comments)
Trump's Demagoguery Threatens Democracy Itself
Now is the time for blunt talk. Donald Trump is a dangerous demagogue generating "scripted violence." Trumpism threatens not just the First Amendment but......
By Chip Berlet (3 comments)
Irony Implosion: Pat Robertson Opposes Politics Masquerading As Religion
TV preacher Pat Robertson and I go way back. In 1996, I wrote a book about him, and I've followed his career since.I long......
By Rob Boston (1 comment)

Evidence violence is more common than believed
Think I've been making things up about experiencing Christian Terrorism or exaggerating, or that it was an isolated incident?  I suggest you read this article (linked below in body), which is about our great......
ArchaeoBob (3 comments)
Central Florida Sheriff Preached Sermon in Uniform
If anyone has been following the craziness in Polk County Florida, they know that some really strange and troubling things have happened here.  We've had multiple separation of church and state lawsuits going at......
ArchaeoBob (1 comment)
Demon Mammon?
An anthropologist from outer space might be forgiven for concluding that the god of this world is Mammon. (Or, rather, The Market, as depicted by John McMurtry in his book The Cancer Stage of......
daerie (0 comments)
Anti-Sharia Fever in Texas: This is How It Starts
The mayor of a mid-size Texan city has emerged in recent months as the newest face of Islamophobia. Aligning herself with extremists hostile to Islam, Mayor Beth Van Duyne of Irving, Texas has helped......
JSanford (2 comments)
Evangelicals Seduced By Ayn Rand Worship Crypto-Satanism, Suggest Scholars
[update: also see my closely related stories, "Crypto-Cultists" and "Cranks": The Video Paul Ryan Hoped Would Go Away, and The Paul Ryan/Ayn Rand/Satanism Connection Made Simple] "I give people Ayn Rand with trappings" -......
Bruce Wilson (10 comments)
Ted Cruz Anointed By Pastor Who Says Jesus Opposed Minimum Wage, and Constitution Based on the Bible
In the video below, from a July 19-20th, 2013 pastor's rally at a Marriott Hotel in Des Moines, Iowa, Tea Party potentate Ted Cruz is blessed by religious right leader David Barton, who claims......
Bruce Wilson (1 comment)
Galt and God: Ayn Randians and Christian Rightists Expand Ties
Ayn Rand's followers find themselves sharing a lot of common ground with the Christian Right these days. The Tea Party, with its stress on righteous liberty and a robust form of capitalism, has been......
JSanford (4 comments)
Witchhunts in Africa and the U.S.A.
Nigerian human rights activist Leo Igwe has recently written at least two blog posts about how some African Pentecostal churches are sending missionaries to Europe and the U.S.A. in an attempt to "re-evangelize the......
Diane Vera (2 comments)
Charles Taze Russell and John Hagee
No doubt exists that Texas mega-church Pastor John Hagee would be loathe to be associated with the theology of Pastor C.T. Russell (wrongly credited with founding the Jehovah's Witnesses) but their theological orbits, while......
COinMS (0 comments)
A death among the common people ... imagination.
Or maybe my title would better fit as “Laws, Books, where to find, and the people who trust them.”What a society we've become!The wise ones tell us over and over how the more things......
Arthur Ruger (1 comment)
Deconstructing the Dominionists, Part VI
This is part 6 of a series by guest front pager Mahanoy, originally dated November 15, 2007 which I had to delete and repost for technical reasons. It is referred to in this post,......
Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)
Republican infighting in Mississippi
After a bruising GOP runoff election for U.S. Senator, current MS Senator Thad Cochran has retained his position and will face Travis Childers (Democrat) in the next senate election. The MS GOP is fractured......
COinMS (3 comments)
America's Most Convenient Bank® refuses to serve Christians
Representatives of a well known faith-based charitable organization were refused a New Jersey bank’s notarization service by an atheist employee. After inquiring about the nature of the non-profit organization and the documents requiring......
Jody Lane (4 comments)
John Benefiel takes credit for GOP takeover of Oklahoma
Many of you know that Oklahoma has turned an unrecognizable shade of red in recent years.  Yesterday, one of the leading members of the New Apostolic Reformation all but declared that he was responsible......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
John Benefiel thinks America is under curse because Egyptians dedicated North America to Baal
You may remember that Rick Perry put together his "Response" prayer rallies with the help of a slew of NAR figures.  One of them was John Benefiel, an Oklahoma City-based "apostle."  He heads up......
Christian Dem in NC (6 comments)

More Diaries...




All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments, posts, stories, and all other content are owned by the authors. Everything else 2005 Talk to Action, LLC.