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


Thomas DiLorenzo's Rebel Yelling
I have written a great deal in the past few years about the odd phenomenon of Catholic Neo-Confederatism.  Let's add one more name to......
By Frank Cocozzelli (1 comment)
Censorship Challenge: Texas Pastor Seeks Restrictions On `Dangerous' Library Books
Back in the 1990s, some Religious Right activists in Virginia got the bright idea to begin attacking America's public libraries. The idea was to......
By Rob Boston (0 comments)
Suspended St. Louis County Officer Dan Page Made Rounds on Rightwing Radio Shows
St. Louis Police Officer Dan Page drew national attention when he shoved CNN's Don Lemon during a broadcast of the protests in Ferguson, and......
By Rachel Tabachnick (1 comment)
Cop Who Shoved CNN Host Don Lemon Lassoed in Another Conspiracy Rodeo
Rachel Tabachnick broke an important story this evening showing that the rant by Officer Dan Page that got him suspended from the St.Louis County......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Exile Excitement: Some Fundamentalists Seek Escape From Decadent Society
OK, now we've done it. Those of us who advocate things like separation of church and state, secular government, LGBT rights and self-determination when......
By Rob Boston (2 comments)
Controversy Over White Nationalist GOP Candidate Still White Hot
The 2004 Constitution Party candidate for president Michael Peroutka's current race for County Council in Maryland -- as a Republican -- it is still......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Race, Republicans and the Religious Right
The Republicans have a race problem, and by this I don't just mean that racial minorities don't much vote for them, particularly in the......
By Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Rev. William Barber on Religious/Political Inclusiveness
A few weeks ago, I posted about the extraordinary oration of Rev. William Barber at Netroots Nation. (A transcript of the speech is now......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Short Takes
Salon.com  Columnist Thomas Frank considers how snark can cut more than one way. What does it mean when being "on the left" is defined......
By Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
David Brat as a "Libertarian Catholic" is an Oxymoron
David Brat, the Tea Party Young Turk who recently shocked the GOP establishment with his primary win over Majority Leader Eric Cantor, is reportedly,......
By Frank Cocozzelli (2 comments)
Kountze Cheerleaders Take on the Courts
The entire town of Kountze, Texas is in a frenzy with business banners, suv window paintings and legal action supporting their local cheerleaders. The......
By wilkyjr (2 comments)
A Talk to Action Anthology on Neo-Confederacy, Nullification and Secession (Updated)
A number of posts over the past year have addressed the growing Neo-Confederate movement, the advocacy of nullification of federal laws, and even the......
By Frederick Clarkson (5 comments)
Good Incentives Gone Awry: Kentucky Officials Are Adamant About Propping Up The 'Ark Park'
I've lived in the Washington, D.C., suburbs since 1986, so when it comes to museums, I am spoiled. Just a short subway ride away......
By Rob Boston (2 comments)
White Hot Controversy for a White Nationalist GOP Candidate
The controversy over Michael Peroutka's theocratic, white nationalist candidacy for county council, in Anne Arundel County, Maryland -- has gotten white hot after he......
By Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)
Not Just Whistling 'Dixie': Peroutka Stands Up for Southern Secession - UPDATED x2!
Cross-posted from The Huffington Post. Michael Peroutka, the Republican candidate for Anne Arundel County Council, stood up for secession and the white nationalist League......
By jhutson (1 comment)

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 (2 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 (3 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 (2 comments)
Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Yes, that's right. We have totally lost our religious freedom in Mississippi and it must be restored by our legislators. ......
COinMS (1 comment)
Bill Gothard accused of harassing women and failing to report child abuse
Surprised no one's mentioned this, but one of the longest-standing leaders of the religious right is in a world of trouble.  Bill Gothard has been active in the fundie movement for over half......
Christian Dem in NC (1 comment)
Eugene Delgaudio may lose his day job as Virginia county supervisor
Surprised no one's noticed this, but one of the nation's most virulent homophobes is in a fight to keep his day job.  Eugene Delgaudio is best known as the head of Public Advocate......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)
Starkville Becomes First City in Mississippi to Pass Resolution Recognizing LGBT Residents
This caught me by surprise. I guess times are a changin in Dixieland. ------------------------------------- Cross posted from the HRC blog. Starkville Becomes First City in Mississippi to Pass Resolution Recognizing LGBT Residents January 21,......
COinMS (0 comments)
Robert Knight: Running against evolution could potentially be a winner for the GOP
In one of the starkest instances yet of how far gone the religious right is, one of its leading activists thinks that he's found another potential wedge issue that could drive more people into......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
First Catholic official convicted in child sex abuse scandal has conviction overturned
Last year, Monsignor William Lynn, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's secretary for clergy, was convicted of reassigning a priest whom he knew had molested a young boy to a parish that had a school attached......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)
Quotes From Sarah Palin 'War on Christmas" Book v. Quotes From 1920s Anti-Jewish Propaganda
The point of this comparison is not to cast Sarah Palin as a Nazi. Rather, my intent is to underline uncomfortable similarities between contemporary "war on Christmas" talking points propagated by elements of the......
Bruce Wilson (0 comments)
Francis sets up commission on how to deal with pedophile priests
Late yesterday Pope Francis announced--apparently after some prodding--that he will set up a panel to advise him on how to deal with child abuse by priests. The announcement was a forthright acknowledgment by the......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)
John Hagee: Jews will make deal with Antichrist before End Times
When John Hagee opens his mouth, you expect to hear lunacy.  An appearance earlier this month on TBN was no different.  On Friday, People for the American Way stumbled on a special prophecy-focused edition......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)
Doug Phillips Resigns From Vision Forum over "Inappropriate Relationship"
Doug Phillips resigned as president of Vision Forum earlier this week, citing an "inappropriate relationship."   Phillips posted an announcement on the Vision Forum website, stating, There has been serious sin in my life......
Rachel Tabachnick (2 comments)
A Wiccan Witch In Salem
Since it's only two weeks from Halloween, I made my usual foray into Christian Right Country to find out what their plans are for this Halloween. I don't know where to be sad or......
irishwitch (0 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.