FFoC epilogue

As a Texas resident, this is the sort of email I get.  Apparently, our teachers are supposed to tell students that whenever we haven’t figured something out yet, we should stop our research and assume Goddidit.  And if we don’t yet know how exactly how the first living cells formed, that somehow negates everything we do know to be true about evolution after that.  But worse, they want to mislead our kids into thinking every kind of life appeared all at once, ignoring all the evident stages of progression still absent by then, as well as all the evident predecessors we’ve found in earlier strata.  And they want to teach as fact outright falsehoods easily disproved, as well as pseudoscience already publicly exposed in a court of law.  What sort of sinister saboteurs are on these school boards?  

“Well, I got involved in this while I was specializing in stock fraud;
Enron, WorldCom, those kinds of frauds. 
And what causes those kinds of frauds; investors make reasoned decisions,
but the problem is they’re not given adequate information,
and so their decisions turn out to be horrible. 
And I found a book in 1986 by a chemist, and he says,
"yes, the evidence implies design, but I can't go there;
I simply am not allowed to postulate design because I happen to be a scientist".
And that really bothered me particularly because two years later,
I learned that this rule had a name, "mythological naturalism",
and that it was essentially an unwritten rule; it was one that was 'under the table'."

Far from being “under the table”, method-o-logical naturalism is openly and repeatedly explained in many states’ educational knowledge and skills requirements for every grade from kindergarten on up, and it is further detailed in every college-level course serving as a core requirement for a science degree.  Because this rule has another name too; It’s also known as ‘the scientific method’.  And minutes before Mr. Calvert made this ridiculous comment, I had already explained this to him myself.

“In religion, you can just say,
‘OK, this is what I want to believe, and as a matter of faith, I will believe it.’ 
Faith is a belief that is without reason; It’s independent of evidence,
it’s not dependent on evidence, and science is.  Science has to be verifiable. 
In a scientific discussion, you have to be able to show
there is a way to determine what is or is not correct.”

“The institutions that are charged with bringing to us the information
that we need to make that decision are suppressing not only evidence of design,
but in order to make that suppression effective,
they also have to suppress criticism of evolutionary theory.” 

“Back off, man; I’m a scientist.”

"The suppression of uncomfortable ideas may be common in politics or religion,
but it is not the path to knowledge, and there is no place for it in the endeavor of science.”

Although Mr. Calvert claimed to be a geologist and a converted atheist, he is in fact just another lawyer trying to make an appealing case for creationism by pretending to be something he is obviously not, and by presenting science, evolution, religion, and the rejection of religion all as things they are also obviously not, and with much the same negative effect.     

"Evolutionary theory is not taught comprehensively in public schools;
it’s taught very ambiguously.” 

Unfortunately, that’s the one thing he’s right about.  For example, my son’s high school biology teacher recently told the class that evolution was “just” a theory, and that a scientific theory was nothing more than a guess that has never been proved.  He also said that speciation had never been observed, and that no transitional species had ever been found, and that there was no beneficial mutations either –despite the list of them provided in the classroom’s textbook.  The previous science teacher wasn’t any better; that guy actually taught that cockroaches were classified as vertebrates!  Almost no one in this state understands either evolution or taxonomy.  And this is just one example of our failed school system. 

Here in Texas, many members of our board of education are actually under-educated religious zealots who were positioned specifically to fulfill their agenda to distort instruction on science, history, ecology, and health, and to promote their own political perspective instead.  It’s a gross grass roots system of indoctrination intended to condition students against the lessons they would otherwise accept if they make it to college. 

That’s why Texas schools teach “abstinence only” instead of sex education.  So it’s no surprise that we also have one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy.  Even when the state says to teach evolution, creationist teachers don’t understand it and won’t teach it properly.  So what sort of intellect can we really expect Texas’ high schools to produce?         

“I’m’a prove the evolution’s a buncha bull-crap.”
“How you going to do that?”
“I’m’a fill this up w’ water and put a fish in it. 
But his food’s gonna be up on this rock. 
When the fish gits hungry, he’s gonna have to grow legs and walk up here to eat. 
If he du’nt, that proves there’s no evolution.”
…“Tampon, condom, pacifier, fish!”
“Kinda small, dontcha think?”
“Maybe fer eatin’, but not fer science.”
“The next day, Joy saw somethin’ that undid years o’ Sunday school.”
“Sweet Jesus! The fish grew feet!”
“What does that mean, Mommy?”
“I think it means we don’t gotta go to church no more.”

“the problem is they’re not given adequate information,
and so their decisions turn out to be horrible.”

“So you’re saying that that the scientific community basically is suppressing evidence
that would not agree with what they’re talking about?”

“No, I’m I’m saying institutions of science at the high level use mythological naturalism….” 

“Top men”.

“And recently in Kansas, just in February, those institutions lobbied
for the school board to actually insert scientific materialism,
-mythological naturalism- into the science standards,
and then removed from the science standards an extraordinary amount
of very relevant information about evolution. 
And it didn’t have anything to do with Intelligent Design,
but information that’s relevant to our understanding about evolution was removed
because we have this irrefutable commitment that we can only explain by virtue of material causes.”

…as opposed to immaterial causes, i.e. magic.  That’s what he’s pleading for!  But whenever there is a real phenomenon which hasn’t yet been adequately understood, that doesn’t mean that it never can be, nor that we should just give up and blame mystical forces whenever we don’t know what the real answer is. 

Otherwise, everything Calvert just said is a lie.  There was no “high level” scientific conspiracy, and institutions of science neither removed any information from the science standards nor “inserted” any either.  Rather creationists on the Kansas’ Board of Education tried to remove methodological naturalism –which had always been the primary principle upon which all science is based.  That’s what empirical means!  Every scientist must rely on methodological naturalism or it wouldn’t be science.  Creationists even acknowledged this fact in the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial when Intelligent Design proponents confessed their accidentally-leaked intention to redefine science such that unsupported conjecture could be asserted as factual irrespective of evidence, analysis, or experimentation.  Eliminating every element of practical methodology would not only disable and destroy everything science is or does, but Michael Behe testified that his expanded definition would even permit astrology to be taught as science.   

“Pisces, it’s a good time to pull the plug on that machine that’s
been keeping your daughter alive for the past six months. 
If you’re a Taurus, see your florist.
And if you’re a Gemini like me, well you can expect the unexpected.
I’m Joyce Wilson, your astrologgg-----”

“All those scientists; they’re all alike. 
They say they’re working for us,
b’what they really want is to rule the world!”

Not only did the Dover trial prove creationists’ continuing agenda to neuter science from within and drag it back to a medieval level, but it also revealed that there was never any evidence of intelligent design.  Nor could there be because the supernatural is -by definition- immaterial, not part of our reality.  Consequently there’s no way to determine what’s wrong with our assumptions about it or even whether any of them were ever right on any point.  Every religion might be right about different things, or all of that might have been imagined out of nothing since it can neither be evidenced nor indicated by anything in any way.  It can’t pass any test, yet it can’t be falsified either.  That’s why matters of faith can never be matters of science.          

What Calvert declared to be “very relevant information about evolution” was actually a list of erroneous allegations originally contrived by Jonathan Wells, and already addressed and refuted with the other “foundational falsehoods of creationism”.  Every year of the last decade or so, the school boards of every state have been accosted or dominated by ignorant radical evangelicals trying to undermine our children’s education.  The latest wave in the creationist’s strategy to promote theocracy through scientific illiteracy is the plea that we “teach the controversy”, and per their request, that’s what I’m doing right now. 

Those who demand that we teach both the “strengths and weaknesses” of evolution won’t admit what any of its strengths even are, (if they ever knew) but they do know that each of the alleged weaknesses they’re pleading for are either irrelevant ravings or misinformation, misunderstood and misrepresented. But they don’t care, and they’ll never correct it, because they want to deceive our kids into believing there’s some scientific dispute of evolution when they know no such dissention exists.  They don’t want to teach more about any science.  They want to distort it all into an absurd parody that no one could seriously consider.  They certainly don’t want you to understand creationism either, albeit for all the opposite reasons.  Then they expect you obediently swallow it whole without any questions.

“And finally, new rule:
You don’t have to teach both sides of a debate
if one side is a load of crap.”

When we’re talking about public education, then we’re talking about teaching other people’s kids and trusting someone else to teach our kids.  So in the interest of academic honesty and even simple human morality, those lessons shouldn’t be distorted by religious opinion; because what should matter most is not whatever we personally might rather believe but only what we can verify really is true.  And we know evolution is real. We’ve proven that it happens, and we know how it works, and there’s value in understanding that.  So teach what the theories actually are and what their evidence is, and keep the lessons true.  Leave debates of details to the experts in the field, not mere pupils who can’t know enough yet to judge either side of anything.  Let’s definitely not let impressionable children be mislead by ignorant deceivers who can neither qualify in science, nor compete against it, and who seek to subvert it instead.