More Phony Arguments from Anti-Science Fanatics

The folks over at the Discovery Institute, an anti-evolution pressure group based in Seattle, appear to have little problem with irony (even if they do have problems with the truth).

Robert Crowther, DI’s director of communications, has written a letter to the editor at the San Antonio Express-News, offering his disingenous critique of a pro-evolution op-ed column the newspaper published last week. Eric Lane, president of the San Antonio chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, penned the op-ed, “Science classes are for science only.” Lane focused on the debate at the Texas State Board of Education over teaching evolution in public school science classrooms:

The intelligent design folks will say (this debate is) only about “weaknesses” of evolutionary theory, “freedom of speech” and “academic freedom.” Don’t fall for it. The debate has nothing to do with science. It has everything to do with religious fundamentalists trying to force non-science into the public science classroom.

Crowther begins his rebuttal with this:

Not surprisingly, Lane apparently didn’t bother to do a shred of research. Instead, he was quite satisfied to let his imagination come up with all sorts of ridiculous things.

Oh, do tell.

Crowther and the Discovery Institute should know something about not bothering “to do a shred of research.” After all, there isn’t a shred of scientific evidence to support the DI’s pet “intelligent design”/creationism alternative to evolution. Nor is there any real science behind the DI’s “weaknesses of evolution” argument. Mainstream scientists have repeatedly debunked the phony “weaknesses” promoted by Crowther and other anti-science fanatics. Moreover, representatives of the 21st Century Science Coalition — an organization of Texas scientists — have pointed out that there are thousands of research articles in peer-reviewed journals — over decades — about the evidence supporting evolution. 

Crowther then offers this howler:

The SBOE is not considering religious, non-scientific beliefs, nor creationism, and certainly not intelligent design for inclusion in science classes.

Please. The fundamentalist religious beliefs of the state board’s creationists are the true motivation behind their opposition to teaching the real science of evolution. This was made clear in a New York Times piece in June of last year. The newspaper quotes board Chairman Don McLeroy, R-College Station, as saying he saw the debate as being between “two systems of science”:

“You’ve got a creationist system and a naturalist system.”

McLeroy has also called for redefining science to include supernatural explanations for phenomena. In a church lecture he gave in July 2005, McLeroy characterized this way the debate over evolution when the board considered new biology textbooks in 2003:

(T)here were only the four really conservative, orthodox Christians on the board were the only ones who were willing to stand up to the textbooks and say that they don’t present the weaknesses of evolution.

And Barbara Forrest, a Louisiana professor who has thoroughly researched the “intelligent design” movement, has shown how undermining evolution is a key part of the creationists’ strategy for promoting their religious beliefs in public schools. (You can find a wealth of Forrest’s research — there’s that problematic word again for the DI folks — by clicking here.)

As Lane wrote, don’t fall for the disingenous arguments from the creationists on the state board and at the Discovery Institute. They’re simply blowing smoke. The national crusade — with its focus now on Texas — to undermine science education is all about promoting the fundamentalist religious beliefs of some over everybody else’s.

12 thoughts on “More Phony Arguments from Anti-Science Fanatics

  1. Mr. Crowther has a lot of nerve accusing anyone of making bogus assertions, which is the key function of his colleagues at the Discovery Institute. For example, he refers to “controversial scientific theories like neo-Darwinian evolution.” It’s 2009. Evolution is not a controversial scientific theory.

    I also find it interesting that Mr. Crowther identifies himself as a libertarian agnostic. Taking him at his word, this puts him into the very small tribe of objectivists who feel that nothing can truly be known, so all points of view are valid – a philosophy that it antithetical to the evidence-based thinking of science. Not surprisingly, Mr. Crowther is not a scientist; he has a BA in journalism, he’s a PR man.

  2. More Phony Arguments from Anti-Science Fanatics

    Which set of Anti-Science fanatics are you talking about?… the ones from the DI, or your own dishonest selves, which is even worse since you’re the ones who falsely claim to be on the side of science.

  3. First, whether Eric Lane is correct or not in asserting that the DI has theocratic impulses is a red herring. It has no bearing on whether creationism/ID should be taught in schools. It is worrying as a political prospect, and certainly calls in to question the motivation for the movement, but as to the scientific validity of ID/creationism it has no logical import.

    Second, all of this talk of including both “strengths and weaknesses” is disingenuous. The very use of the phrase suggests that currently both strengths and weaknesses aren’t taught, that students are presented only the favorable portions of evolutionary theory and questions are discouraged. This is patently untrue. Any discussion of evolutionary theory always points out things like gaps in fossil records (and why they’re there) and other areas in which the data is yet to suggest a conclusion. If these weren’t taught, there would be no students seeking to research in these areas post-graduation.

    Third, it is possible to reject both creationism and reductive materialism/ontological naturalism and accept evolution. In fact, we might say that philosophically, both o-naturalism and creationism suffer from the same general philosophical error: they treat the objects of natural science as dingen-an-sich, rather than as empirical appearances.

  4. What is “dingen-an-sich”?

    There are many ways to obfuscate but so many lead to Texas Republican Party Platform stated desire to eliminate the myth of separation of church and state: Texas is a de facto theocracy and will be a de jure theocracy as will Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas and much of the deep south.

    ID, Creation Science and “weaknesses of evolution” are tools and devices that are intuitive with ill-taught, non-critical thinking people whereas evolution in counter-intuitive, therefore frightening to many Americans, many of the same Americans who voted to have Sarah Palin in the White House: in 2012 and/or 2016, Jeb Bush & Sarah Palin will ride into the Republican national convention on Sarah’s pet dinosaur.

    Bernard Kaye, Frisco, Texas

  5. island,

    I see that you creationists will stop at nothing to impose your religious beliefs on others. As the creationist that you are, your anti-science anti-american views are not appreciated here. Go hide your head in a hole.

  6. the severe weaknesses of evolutionary theory aren’t “taught” in public schools at all, they are accepted as dogma, just as in the universities where evolution is ASSUMED to be true in the first place and any expose of its hoax is immediately mobbed by rubbish claims of “religion” or “anti-science” and what not

    for example, most evolutionists can’t see that their arguments rest on the outdated notion of Lamarckianism, the idea that activities done during life, will somehow “transmute” into the genes in order to produce offspring that are better at doing that activity. So according to this, if I keep stretching my neck everyday, and my kids keep stretching their necks, and so on, I will soon have future generations of children with giraffe-like necks in a million years, this is of course ridiculous since stretching my neck doesn’t change the genes that are involved in making a human neck.

    evolutionists then resort to natural selection to explain things, however natural selection only propagates EXISTING traits in the species, it doesn’t bring about NEW TRAITS. For example, a deer with bigger antelopes might survive better and produce more, but it’s STILL A DEER, just with bigger antelopes. The deer is not a cow, or an elephant, it’s still a deer. Natural selection only propagates existing traits in the species that help survival and reproduction, but it doesn’t create “new” traits that never existed in the species, such as wings.

    evolutionists then use mutations to make up for natural selection’s flaws. But most mutations are deleterious or neutral, usually deforming the organism or spontaneously aborting it, or rendering it sterile, hardly “advantageous” for survival and reproduction. The few mutations that do confer “advantages” don’t actually make “new” traits such as a pair of wings on a lizard, they work within the confines of the organism. So sickle cell anemia, which may protect against malaria, isn’t creating a new species, they’re still humans with human blood. Not only that but anemia has potentially lethal dangers as well.

    most evolutionists are still outdated Lamarckians in denial

  7. What I would like to know is how come the creationists are certain that their God created the world, when there are billions of others who have other religious beliefs? If you allow for creationism to be taught alongside evolutionary theory, then you must also teach all the other creation myths. Now that would make for a very long lesson – and perhaps might lead to more toleration and acceptance of other belief systems. I read that some children have actually cried in classes when the teacher announced that he or she would teach evolution. What a sad affair. Evolution is a a set of theories and provides the best bet explanation for the origins of life. I say set, because Darwinian theory unlike creationist myths, has undergone vast changes in line with new information – that is why it is a scientific theory – and if opponents can come up with scientific data which improves or disproves the explanatory force of the theory, then they are welcome to do so – that freedom is of course not granted to opponents of creationist myths! That is probably one of the more worrying aspects of this debate – the question of freedom. On the one hand the intelligent design people will argue to have creationism taught alongside evolution, but on the other hand they will not allow criticism of their myths or belief systems – while they spend millions of dollars
    attacking an outdated version of evolutionary theory. That is obviously unfair. You will have the Scopes Trial all over again, where science teachers will face dismissal because their lessons contradicted the creation mysths – and yet what of the other side – why can’t the religious teachers also be fired? If we remove the issue of evolution, we see that the proponents of intelligent design are really undemocratic and intolerant. They will not allow others to have a chance to express their views or criticize them. Such a standpoint is: un-American, un-Christian, and simply unjustifiable.