False equality

I’m off to the west coast (of Michigan) for a few days, and if I don’t blog, I shall die…or something. So I have a few posts from my old blog to share with you.

As my child approaches school age, I worry about school board battles a little bit more. I hate politics, but I can see myself forced to get involved at some point. And I find myself wondering, what is it about some Evangelical Christians? Why is their faith so weak? Is God testing them? I ask this because of their constant griping about “equal time” for Creationism in public schools. Given that science classes are supposed to teach science and not religion, it’s pretty much a no-brainer; and after the smack-down they received in Dover, you’d think maybe, just maybe, they would have learned their lesson. But these soldiers for Christ carry on, betraying their ultimate lack of faith in the Bible and their God.

Lack of faith? But they’re fighting so hard for their faith! Whatever could you mean?

Faith, which is the belief in the supernatural despite lack of evidence, is, in the terms of some theologies, a gift from God. It is the belief in things not seen. It’s essentially a test—believe in Me despite my refusal to prove my existence, and you will be rewarded. Anyone can believe in a God who walks the Earth. It takes a special kind of believer to follow a God who never shows up.

Most of the truly faithful go about their lives with their belief, understanding that God is not likely to confirm their faith until they die. And that’s just fine with them, because it doesn’t change most of the events of the day. The sun rises, the sun sets. The car starts. The snow falls. These things happen for the faithful and heathen alike.

But the ID’ers out there seem to lack a strong faith in their God. They feel that scientists, teachers, and governments must give them a stamp of legitimacy. Their faith is so weak that a high school biology teacher can shake its very foundations.

Want to prove your faith in God? Then live among those who don’t believe, and let that reinforce your ideas. Move to Israel, to Iran, to Saudi Arabia for a year and let your faith be tested. But stop saying that your faith deserves equal time along side science in classrooms. The idea is insulting to those of us who don’t share your beliefs, and should be insulting to you, as it implies that you need your God to have the approval of secular authorities.

I bring this up because of a concern that, admittedly, is a variation on a slippery slope argument. If you can insert Creationism into a science classroom in the name of “equal time”, then you could also put homeopathy and other cult beliefs into medical schools for the same reason. This, despite lack of any scientific evidence.

The attack on science isn’t limited to the overtly religious, but as I’ve said before, many of these altmed beliefs are essentially religion, in that they require faith over reason.

So teach your kids whatever you want. Just don’t teach it to mine.


  1. I have a creationist museum less than two miles from my house. “Genesis Expo”, frankly it sounds like a nightclub which is probably why I never noticed it before.

    The last major incursion of creationism into UK state schools occurred with a mass mailing of materials from an (I think) unconnected group. The government contacted all schools and told them to ignore the materials.

    That’s great, but there are still a bunch of faith schools and private schools out there teaching creationism in science lessons, only creationism in some cases.

  2. On behalf of the other high school science teachers out there, I say to all like-minded people – even though you hate politics (and who doesn’t, really?), please, please get involved with this at your local school board level. Offer your support to the science teachers. Tell them you think it is extremely important that they teach evolution. Ask if there’s anything you can do to help. Write letters to your school board expressing your hope that teachers continue to teach only valid scientific beliefs. It is so helpful.
    We are on the front lines – constantly getting slammed by a percentage of parents for teaching evolution while continuing to teach it because we know it’s right. If we’re lucky, our administrators understand science and back us. If we’re not, they ask us to brush things under the table and not teach to the state and national standards, or ask us to excuse certain kids from the classroom every time we use the word “evolution”. Hearing about parents and citizens who support us is worth its weight in gold. Honestly, it’s what gives me the strength to continue fighting, to keep answering the parents who interrupt my open house presentation to ask, “But what could you possibly teach about evolution? There is no evidence to support it. None. And there never will be.” (Actually happened – 2 years ago.)

  3. and after the smack-down they received in Dover,

    “Smack-down”? From a lousy biased judge who showed extreme prejudice against ID and the Dover defendants — regardless of whether or not ID is a religious concept — by saying in a Dickinson College commencement speech that his Dover decision was based on his cockamamie notion that the Founders based the establishment clause upon a belief that organized religions are not “true” religions? Who copied the opinion’s ~6000-word ID-as-science section nearly verbatim from the plaintiffs’ opening post-trial brief while ignoring the defendants’ opening post-trial brief and the plaintiffs’ and defendants’ answering post-trial briefs?

    So teach your kids whatever you want. Just don’t teach it to mine.

    Why should scientific and pseudoscientific criticisms of evolution be taught by people who have no expertise in biology, e.g., parents, pastors, and non-science public school teachers? What does a parent with a 6th grade education know about bacterial flagella, the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, the co-evolution of obligate mutualism, etc.?

  4. minimalist

    Why should scientific and pseudoscientific criticisms of evolution be taught by people who have no expertise in biology

    Well, that never stopped ID’ers before, now did it?

    Come to think of it, what does BEHE know of the bacterial flagella? Not. A. Thing.

  5. Well, the denialist blog has finally attracted whackjob Larry Fafarman to the comment section. I suggest that the Hoofnagels follow the lead of Ed Brayton and delete his comments. He provides nothing but stupidity to any thread.

    What is most amusing are his rants against Judge Jones. Not only is Mr. Fafarman a moron, he is a god damn liar and smear artist, in the tradition of Lee Atwater and Karl Rove. By the way Mr. Fafarman, how goes your campaign to get Mr. Brayton kicked off of Scienceblogs? It appears not well.

  6. I taught biology at a Christian private school for 3 years before leaving to teach at a secular school. There were plenty of people at the school who were not anti-evolution. But, the families that did object to my teaching evolution to their children would not agree with your definition of faith (despite it being the correct definition).

    They don’t see faith as a belief in something despite no evidence for it. They look at their lives and find what they would call “evidence” for their beliefs in the events that led them to their spouse, to having their children, getting that promotion at work, etc. They consider all of those events as evidence that God is watching out for them and caring for them. And when bad things happen, that’s just more evidence that we live in an imperfect world and thus, it supports their belief of a fallen world.

    They are unable to recognize the difference between evidence that comes from experimentation and logic and the “evidence” that comes from emotions. So, I doubt that using this argument (though it sounds brilliant to me) would work with them.

  7. This touches on a topic I’ve been working on for a while: the history of Christian fundamentalism and creationism. My premise is that fundamentalism arose in the aftermath of the Civil War, and has always been based on anxiety over changing race relations.

    I’ve been having trouble getting started because it is a lengthy topic, but this post gave me a starting point. If I may point you to my (recently relaunched) blog, I think you might get something about of my post.

  8. Incidentally, I don’t know if Dr. PalMD is aware of it but Mr. Fafarman is a Holocaust denier, in addition to his other stupidities.

  9. As your child approaches school age, you got bigger problems. Try trade the gems and bring them home to share problems. Ain’t school fun? The other battles like school boards can be fought later.

  10. Calli Arcale

    I’m a fervent Christian and an ardent supporter of critical thinking. When I first read this post, I thought AMEN!!!!

    But then I started to think a bit more. Though my church is pretty liberal, I do know a few holy-roller types, and even a few young-earth Creationists. It is tempting to think that their anti-scientific attitudes are a sign of weak faith. But they don’t close their minds to science out of fear. They close their minds because they are convinced it’s wrong. They don’t accept that there is evidence for our position, in large part because they refuse to really learn our position. After all, what point is there in learning a position you *know* to be wrong? There is also widespread failure to teach critical thinking, and that’s another major factor, of course.

    Thing is, I think they’re very strong in their faith, but misguided in some very crucial ways. It’s patently obvious how misguided they are from a scientific standpoint, but I am of the opinion that they are misguided from a religious standpoint as well. They are believing in a limited God (a God who can be kept out of school merely by the school not permitting prayer over the PA system), a God who is more human than divine (judgmental, in other words), and an ultimate truth which nobody would accept if given an alternative.

    The main problem is that they believe very profoundly that they are right, and that we will all be hurt if we don’t believe the same way they do. They have enormous faith in this proposition. So much faith that, paradoxically, they don’t trust Jesus to save them unless they live a flawless life. Yet “I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.”

    In my opinion, their problem is not that they have insufficient faith. It’s that their faith is in the wrong thing. They have put their faith not in Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins, but rather in the premise that they can save themselves through good works. There’s a poetic irony in that, since their “good works” often end up harming a lot of people. I strongly suspect the same basic logic applies to Islamic extremists.

  11. Mike spear

    @ Calli Arcale: “I’m a fervent Christian and an ardent supporter of critical thinking.”

    …The irony is killing me

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