4/17/2008

WHAT SHOULD BE DONE?

There has been much discussion behind the scenes about 'what should be done' regarding the appearance of the YEC Don Patton at my public school site. I am most appreciative of the input and information and I'm sorting through it.

It is important, I think, for all of us to reflect on the above question but recognize that since this is a public space, it is not up to any individual or group to make the determination unilaterally. If appearances like this create (as I believe) potential conflicts between the school's mission and protected speech, the best solution is probably not to repress the speech, but to have policies in place that help the public distinguish between science and non-science, between what the schools actually teach and what others fervently believe as a personal matter.

After all, repression of speech plays into the rhetorical framework of the creationist who believes that they have been prejudicially 'Expelled' from the conversation by some sort of worldwide scientific 'conspiracy.' I personally want to avoid feeding that impression, and so the response that I am recommending is two-pronged:

1) More speech at the event itself from those who work at or who have children attending the school site, respectfully pointing out the incompatibility of YEC views with the state science standards and the potential for mischief posed by having events on public school campuses;

2) Working within the district to provide guidelines for facilities usage that provide more transparency for the public, more accountability on the part of the groups using the facilities, and less vulnerability for the district

Now, I am not attempting to tell other people who are similarly appalled by this event what kinds of questions they should ask! Really, others should feel free to 'fire away!' The First Amendment protects Don Patton's speech, and Sun Garden's speech, and it also protects your speech. If others want to argue with Patton about this or that, I think they should be free to do so. But as a district employee at my own school site, I'm going to focus rather narrowly on questions that are directly tied to the science standards.

23 comments:

WATCHMAN ON THE WALL said...

Psalm 14:1 The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds,
there is none who does good.
It is terribly wrong to force the one sided teaching of evolution as fact in our public schools, especially when I'm sure Scott doesn't really believe that a dumbshit might have possibly evolved from a pile of monkeycrap (eventhough I'd like to believe that might be true).
Personally I feel that Scott is just a troublemaker who wants to supress all views, opinions, and facts that go against his own.

catman said...

I don't suppose there's much that can be done in Fresno. Most of Fresno probably believes implicitly in special creation and wouldn't think of questioning it. Certainly they'll accept the testimony of a creationist whose PhD came from a degree mill, and who supports the Paluxy River "man prints" that even AiG rejects.

I suppose the best thing is to get enough thinking people to show up, prepared and with solid counter arguments for Patton's garbage, and maybe some of the kool-aid drinkers in the audience will be jolted to actually consider that they are being fed junk.

Anonymous said...

Good luck with that.

Scott Hatfield . . . . said...

Personally I feel that Scott is just a troublemaker who wants to supress all views, opinions, and facts that go against his own.

Hmm. On the other hand, it's my personal feeling that you have maligned my character without providing any evidence to support the above claim. Just exactly what branch of Christianity do you claim to represent?

For the record, yours truly is a Methodist. In case you're unaware, the founder of Methodism (John Wesley), when discussing controversies which are not at the heart of the Christian faith, expressed a preference that believers would 'think and let think.' That is to say, that they enjoy a liberty of conscience and allow others to enjoy the same. So, as a Methodist myself, I can't say as I recognize myself in your description.

But perhaps, 'watchman on the wall', you know best. If so, then consider this advice, also from Wesley's pen:

Are you persuaded that you see more clearly than me? It is not unlikely that you may. Then treat me as you would desire to be treated yourself upon a change of circumstances. Point out to me a better way than I have yet known. Show me it is so, by plain proof of Scripture. And if I linger in the path I have accustomed to tread, and am therefore unwilling to leave it, labour with me a little; take me by the hand, and lead me as I am able to bear. But be not displeased if I entreat you not to beat me down in order to quicken my pace: I can go but feebly and slowly at best; then, I should not be able to go at all. May I not request of you, further, not to give me hard names in order to bring me into the right way. Suppose I were ever so much in the wrong, I doubt this would not set me right. Rather, it would make me run so much the farther from you, and so get more and more out of the way.

Anonymous said...

What's Scotty boy's problem? Is afraid that there might actually be a God/creator?

Scott Hatfield . . . . said...

(puzzled)

Why would a Christian be afraid that of God's existence? If you think that all advocates for evolution are non-believers, you're mistaken. I encourage you to read some of the other categories in my blog other than 'creationism' to get better-acquainted with my actual views.

Starwind said...

If appearances like this create (as I believe) potential conflicts between the school's mission and protected speech, the best solution is probably not to repress the speech, but to have policies in place that help the public distinguish between science and non-science, between what the schools actually teach and what others fervently believe as a personal matter.

After all, repression of speech plays into the rhetorical framework of the creationist who believes that they have been prejudicially 'Expelled' from the conversation by some sort of worldwide scientific 'conspiracy.' I personally want to avoid feeding that impression, and so the response that I am recommending is two-pronged:


You opened that door when you show movies in class that depict YEC's "struggling" with science, and using Ken Hamm as the poster boy of what evolution education is trying to overcome.

And you have the hypocrisy to complain when some other YEC wants equal time and suggest additional policies are needed to stack the deck further in your favor.

Policies that help the public distinguish between non science and science.

Would that be the non-science of neo-darwinism appealing to an untestible, unquantifiable, multiverse so random mutations and natural selection have a sufficient statistical chance in some imaginary universe to achieve what is statistically impossible in the present universe?

Would that be the non-science of neo-darwinism's inumerable "just so" stories?

Would that be the non-science of claiming macro-evolution is a fact and substituting micro-evolution as evidence?

Is that the non-science you want the public to understand is actually being taught simply because some scientists ferverently believe it as a personal matter?

Believe as a personal matter because they don't have the scientific evidence, do they, and their fervor is no different than any preachers, is it.

OTOH, we could prolly get used-car saleman to promote your new policies for you.

Paul C said...

I find it fascinating that so many of the little trolls just can't get their heads around the idea that not all Christians are creationists. It seems a fairly obvious and simple fact to me.

All it really demonstrates is the limits of their experience, I suppose; the world is a big blank canvas, but the only thing they know how to paint is themselves.

Good luck at the events, Scott. Support their right to free speech, and take maximum advantage of your own right to exactly the same. Perhaps you could ask them if you could come to their churches to give lectures on evolution.

Anonymous said...

If you claim to be a Christian, then I'm sure that you believe in God? If you believe in God, do you believe he had a hand in the existance of this earth and all living things, or that things just came to be without his help?

It seems astronomically impossible to me that everything just happened without a master planner/designer. Whether God made things instantly, or created everything through evolution like a construction crew building a high rise building in stages, everything was still created by God.

Scott Hatfield . . . . said...

Starwind:

Don't be absurd. In my state, 'science' is defined by things like the California State Science Standards, my district-approved textbook, and other resources that have passed muster with the scientific community.

'Non-science' is many things, but one of them is religion, and in the public schools you can't use the bully pulpit of the classroom to promote anyone's sectarian religious views. And I don't.

And, for the other readers who are wondering what in the Sam Hill this Starwind is referring to, he's complaining about the fact that some of the materials I use (from PBS and the National Center for Science Education) have the gall to point out that not all Christians are young earth creationists. Shocking! Believe it or not, the mere acknowledgement of that fact in passing puts some of these folk into a lather---precisely because it undercuts the false argument that they would like to make in the pews, that you can't be a Christian and accept evolution. Well, boo hoo and call me names for daring to provide a little context for my students. And they accuse me of suppressing information? Please!

Scott Hatfield . . . . said...

If you claim to be a Christian, then I'm sure that you believe in God? If you believe in God, do you believe he had a hand in the existance of this earth and all living things, or that things just came to be without his help?

Since I am a public school teacher, and since some of my students are likely to reading this blog in lieu of the impending (and controversial) event at my site, I don't want to belabor my theological convictions at any length. This could be seen as proselytizing students.

But, in short, I am a Christian. And I do believe that the God we worship made the universe. If you leaf through posts marked 'Behind the Curtain', you will find some more detailed posts regarding my personal beliefs and interests where faith is concerned. But I want to stress that these are personal and that this blog is a personal forum, and none of these sentiments would ever make it into my classroom. That would be, in my judgement, not only illegal (violating the Establishment Clause) but unethical.

Starwind said...

Scott Hatfield:

Starwind is ... complaining about the fact that some of the materials I use (from PBS and the National Center for Science Education) have the gall to point out that not all Christians are young earth creationists.

No, Starwind is complaining that Scott Hatfield has the gall use PBS NCSE science materials that are critical of young earth creationists and then Hatfield complains when young earth creationists are critical of his science.

It's your tone deaf hypocrisy Scott.

in the public schools you can't use the bully pulpit of the classroom to promote anyone's sectarian religious views. And I don't.

No, you just use your classroom as a bully pulpit to demote young earth creationsism and promote Miller's theistic evolution. That's why you make the point of him being Catholic; to wrap your advocacy in his religion while wrapping the dimunition of young earth creationists in Ken Hamm's religion.

It's your tone deaf hypocrisy Scott.

'Non-science' is many things, but one of them is religion,

And how is unprovable religion any different than unprovable neo-darwinism? Why are ferverent unproven beliefs of scientists any different than ferverent unproven beliefs of religiuonists?

When does factual evidence enter in to your definition of "non-science".

But I'll take your attempt to deflect away from neo-darwinism's evidentiary failures as agreement that among the many things included in 'Non-science' are the neo-darwinist appeals to non-science; unprovable, untestable theories, just so stories, and bait-and-switch arguments on evolution, and the lack of factual evidence for everything claimed.

Did I mention your tone deaf hypocrisy?

catman said...

It's hard for me to understand Starwind's repetitive insistence of a lack of evidence for evolution, when the evidence is available for anyone with eyes and a mind that can think. It seems he has the typical creationist approach: tell a like often and loud enough and someone will believe it.

Then there's his micro/macro trope. The question is speciation, and there is a surfeit of examples if Starwind would just take a look at it.

There is none so blind as he who will not see.

Starwind said...

catman:

Then there's his micro/macro trope. The question is speciation, and there is a surfeit of examples if Starwind would just take a look at it.

No, the question isn't merely speciation. I (and most OEC/YEC) accept speciation.

There is a surfeit of "just so" stories that presume a-priori macro-evolution, but don't rise the level of scientific evidence that actually demonstrates most/all different body plans gradually evolving into other body plans, provably driven by random mutation and natural selection, over the time frame available, and why it isn't continuing today.

That such scientific evidence of macro-evolution as per neo-darwinism will ultimately yet be found is merely the ferverently held personal beliefs of some scientists. Yet the evidience being found is that life was far more complex, originally, genotypically than the pheonotypes (and natural selection) would indicate. Some organisms speciated far faster than RM/NS would account. Junk DNA isn't as junky as was once pontificated. And random mutation doesn't create additional information or complexity, it destroys it.

There is little (except some forms of speciation) from OOL and cellular nanomachines, to the precambrian explosion of a multitude of body plans with genotypes far more complex than their phenotypes can be naturally selected, and the lack of gradualism, to the static state of today's species that neodarwinism consistently (with scientific evidence) actually explains other than with a surfeit of "just so" stories.

But you are welcome to ferverently, personally believe otherwise. Just don't presume to call your personal beliefs in evidence yet to be found or unprovable theories, as "science".

catman said...

Starwind: There is a surfeit of "just so" stories that presume a-priori macro-evolution, but don't rise the level of scientific evidence that actually demonstrates most/all different body plans gradually evolving into other body plans, provably driven by random mutation and natural selection, over the time frame available, and why it isn't continuing today.
I'm not sure what to make of this scrambled sentence, but I take it to mean you don't think the evidence supports such ideas as simple animals with notocords producing descendants with backbones and eventually cartilaginous then bony skeletons, jaws, fins, forelimbs and hind limbs. The fossil record is pretty clear. And who says modifications aren't continuing today? What makes you think that we are not all intermediate forms?

That such scientific evidence of macro-evolution as per neo-darwinism will ultimately yet be found is merely the ferverently held personal beliefs of some scientists. Yet the evidience being found is that life was far more complex, originally, genotypically than the pheonotypes (and natural selection) would indicate.

Really? No one has found the "original" forms of life. The closest we have come is fossil evidence of nearly-4-billion-year-old cyanobacteria, and that's about 3.5 billion years before the Cambrian explosion which began about 500 MYA. And it's not as if there was nothing going on between those early cyanobacteria and the Cambrian forms. That great multitude of forms did not appear overnight. That "explosion" took over 50 million years. That's plenty of time for mutation and selection to do its work.

But you are welcome to ferverently, personally believe otherwise. Just don't presume to call your personal beliefs in evidence yet to be found or unprovable theories, as "science".

My personal beliefs, "ferverent" or otherwise, have nothing to do with it. I do not "believe" in evolution. I have no "faith" in evolutionary theory. Belief and faith are for things for which there is no evidence, and despite your desperate claims, the evidence for evolution - from all branches of biology, from paleontology, from anthropology, and from other sciences - is overwhelming.

As to unproved theories, you merely display your ignorance. Theories are rarely proved, but they are supported by evidence, and often conclusive evidence. Proof is for mathematicians and logicians.

Scott Hatfield . . . . said...

I’m afraid that where ‘tone deafness’ is concerned I must disagree. I can distinguish between things which are ‘in tune’ with mainstream science, and those which are ‘out of tune.’ Science may not be a popularity contest, but the fact that some views are mainstream and others are outliers is easily established. Look at the state science standards. Look at the contents of Miller and Levine’s text, possible the most-used biology text in the world. Look at the position papers of the AAAS or the NAS on teaching evolution.

So, with that in mind, this is for Starwind:

1) It’s not my problem if you hold views that are ‘out of tune’ with the mainstream. That’s your problem. It’s not my job to give instructional time to views that are ‘out of tune’ with the mainstream and which specifically contradict the state standards. In fact, it not only isn’t my job, it’s potentially illegal and could affect my job. It’s unreasonable for anyone to imply that I shouldn’t teach the state standards, or that I should give ‘equal time’ to views which contradict those standards.

2) It’s not my problem if you are ‘tone deaf’ to the difference between acknowledgment and advocacy. That’s your problem. The PBS video series which in passing acknowledges a diversity of religious views where evolution is concerned provides helpful contextual information, and I plan on continue using it for that reason. The video does not, however, constitute advocacy for any of the views shown in my judgement, nor do I employ it or anything else in the classroom as a platform for privileging my personal views where religion is concerned. Again, that would be illegal and could cause me to lose my job.

Now, we’ve been down this road before, so I don’t suffer any illusions that I’m going to make any headway with Starwind. I’m only repeating the above so that the casual reader of my blog will understand that I not only reject his characterization of me, but to make sure that they know that I understand the legal issues, and that I specifically deny that any erosion of the First Amendment takes place in my classroom.. I ask anyone who is reading this blog to understand that Starwind has never seen me teach, has no experience in this field and does not appear to be cognizant of the dynamics of teaching in general—or to the fact that his ‘tone-deaf’ rhetoric could be taken to infer that I’m trashing the Constitution. I’m sorry, Starwind, but I just can’t have somebody popping into my blog and doing that. Please find another target for your spleen. My job is difficult enough as it is.

Starwind said...

Scott Hatfield:

I’m afraid that where ‘tone deafness’ is concerned I must disagree.outcome of an uncorrected course laid in years ago.

"tone-deaf" was a term you applied to yourself. You used it in the sense of your not understanding how others think.

It’s not my job to give instructional time to views that are ‘out of tune’ with the mainstream and which specifically contradict the state standards. In fact, it not only isn’t my job, it’s potentially illegal and could affect my job. It’s unreasonable for anyone to imply that I shouldn’t teach the state standards, or that I should give ‘equal time’ to views which contradict those standards.

I never said you should teach views that were out of tune or contradict state standards. Rather I've always advocated that you teach only science, including current science evidence that illustrates the limits of prevailing theory, and avoid all religious content. Is your argument that avoiding all religious content would violate state standards? And the "equal time" wasn't being asked of you, but was being asked of your school facility, in the evening, in an auditorium setting (not even your classroom) to host a church sponsored creationist lecture. But even that request for "equal time" to oppose darwinist science views, was too much for your fine tuned sensibilities, wasn't it.

Here are your very words Scott: I use the episode from the PBS series 'Evolution' entitled 'What About God?' to make that point. It is especially telling to show students that one of the authors of their text (Ken Miller) is an observant Catholic.

You find it "especially telling to show students Ken Miller is an observant Catholic" Your own words Scott. Not mine. Yours. Is it your argument that state standards require you to "show students the author of their text is an observant Catholic"?

The PBS video series which in passing acknowledges a diversity of religious views where evolution is concerned provides helpful contextual information, and I plan on continue using it for that reason. The video does not, however, constitute advocacy for any of the views shown in my judgement, nor do I employ it or anything else in the classroom as a platform for privileging my personal views where religion is concerned. Again, that would be illegal and could cause me to lose my job.

"in passing acknowledges a diversity of religious views"? Please, Scott. Here is the PBS outline for the segment Evolution Show 7 What About God? wherein Chapter 2. Biblical Literalism (6:38) covers:
"Biblical literalism and the war against evolution
Ken Ham, a well-known proponent of Biblical literalism"

And here is the PBS marketing memo The Evolution Controversy, Use It or Lose It: Evolution Project/WGBH Boston. talking points for "the top anticipated controversial questions":
"Why isn't the Intelligent Design perspective included in Program 7, "What About God?" You just include Ken Ham, a young earth Creationist who does not represent the current scientific thinking about the accuracy of Darwin's theory. In this film we're not trying to cover the landscape of different religious belief systems. Rather, we are looking at how belief and scientific inquiry can be in conflict through the lens of the students' personal struggles." (p7)

So no, Scott they do not 'in passing' or in any other way 'acknowledge a diversity of religious views', do they. They in fact prep their broadcasters and teachers for why they focus on Ken Ham's views and creationist and biblical literalist views, don't they.

So you in fact show a movie that is endorsed by Ken Miller, the author of your text as well, whose Catholicism you find (and I quote you exactly again) "especially telling to show students", a movie that is deliberately targeted at Ken Ham and creationist views, and does not "cover the landscape of different religious belief systems", but those details have to be dragged out of you, don't they.

Is it your argument that state standards require you to show that PBS movie, targeted at Ken Ham and creationsists, while conversely showing students the author of their text is an observant catholic. Is that what state standards require in your class room, Scott?

And should a creationist dare to critcize your science, you shrilly cry for more polcies to "help the public distinguish between science and non-science, between what the schools actually teach and what others fervently believe as a personal matter."

There again is your hypocrisy, Scott. You get to target and criticize creationsists but they don't get to target your science. You get to show students one of their authors is an observant catholic because you find it especially telling, but you are "deeply offended by the suggestion that I am pushing or privileging any religious belief in my classroom". And you don't see any hypocrisy or being "tone deaf".

I’m only repeating the above so that the casual reader of my blog will understand that I not only reject his characterization of me, but to make sure that they know that I understand the legal issues, and that I specifically deny that any erosion of the First Amendment takes place in my classroom..

I never said you were violating standards, or denying first amendment rights or trashing the constitution. That is your, rather shrill, strawman argument. I only advocated that within state standards you could and should avoid discussing religion all together and stick to just science.

And yes, we've been over this before. So often in fact it is difficult to imagine how you could honestly see accusations I never made of you trampling rights and standards, while you overlook accusations I actually did make, frequently, of your being:

A hypocrit for your criticising the making of "Expelled" the same way PBS made "What About God?"

A hypocrit for simultaneously arguing Again, I don't discredit anyone's [religious] views, nor do we DISCUSS them. We don't have time to discuss the views, nor is it the right forum, and it's potentially illegal to go there.

I use the episode from the PBS series 'Evolution' entitled 'What About God?' to make that point. It is especially telling to show students that one of the authors of their text (Ken Miller) is an observant Catholic.


A hypocrit for supporting Richard Colling who lost his job over ideological differences but not Robert Marks.

I never said you were trampling the constitution or state teaching standards. I said you were hypocritically criticising others by double standards you refuse to apply to yourself.

As for seeing you teach, no I haven't. I've only seen the hypocrisy in what you post. I assume when you say It is especially telling to show students that one of the authors of their text (Ken Miller) is an observant Catholic. that took place in your class and that you were being factual. And then there is the agenda of the PBS movie you admittedly use in your class.

Does anyone actually need to see you in class doing what you repeat for us on your blog to see the hypocrisy? Not violating standards, but being hypocritical.

My job is difficult enough as it is.

You could do less. You could drop the PBS movie, the references to Ken Miller's catholicism, and just stick to the science. Wouldn't that be easier? It'd certainly be less hypocritical.

Scott Hatfield . . . . said...

Again, I'm going to request that you not post this misleading nonsense. Showing that Miller is an observant Catholic and remarking that the reaction of students to this revelation is 'telling' does not amount to telling students to become Catholic, much less making any Catholic teaching explicit.

It just means that in my experience the use of this film is an effective pedagogical strategy, in that it shows students that not all evolutionary biologists are enemies of religion, including the author of their own textbook. Which is true! Why are you so keen to deny students access to this simple truth? Are you afraid that if I share this fact, that some of them might actually be more receptive to reading the text and considering evolution on its merits, all of which helps me do a better job of actually teaching the state standards? Shock and horror!

Further, trying to twist the PBS media guide to make it look as if there aren't more than a couple of viewpoints presented in the video doesn't make it so.

In fact, the largest amount of air time is not devoted to either Ken Ham or Ken Miller, both of whom are public advocates for their respective positions. Instead, the lion's share of the film follows the very personal struggle of young college students at Wheaton College to come to terms with the idea of evolution. Each of them reacts differently, displaying a diversity of views, and not necessarily those which are friendly to evolution. All are presented with more sympathy and intelligence than your comments deserve from me. Have you even seen the video? If so, why are you misrepresenting its tone and scope?

Starwind said...

Scott Hatfield:

Showing that Miller is an observant Catholic and remarking that the reaction of students to this revelation is 'telling' does not amount to telling students to become Catholic, much less making any Catholic teaching explicit.

We've been over this as well. The criticism is not that you are using evolution to prosletyze for Catholicism, rather the issue is you are cynically using Miller's Catholicism to prosletyze for evolution, and implicitly, not explicitly endorsing Miller's religious views over Ken Ham's or creationsists' or biblical literalists.

in that it shows students that not all evolutionary biologists are enemies of religion, including the author of their own textbook. Which is true! Why are you so keen to deny students access to this simple truth?

I wouldn't deny them access. I'm arguing that your evolution class is a poor and hypocritical source for such access, and that students are better served getting more science and just science from you and getting the theology from their church or family, some place where an indepth discussion of the biblical issues (as well as the problems with neo-darwinian science) can take place, which it rightfully can't in your evolution class.

Are you afraid that if I share this fact, that some of them might actually be more receptive to reading the text and considering evolution on its merits, all of which helps me do a better job of actually teaching the state standards? Shock and horror!

No, I have zero fear of any "facts". You know that. But rather it is the absence of facts or partial facts that I fear.

As I said before, the issue is you share [that not all evolutionary biologists are enemies of religion] poorly and with bias and students won't be considering evolution "on [evolution's] merits" but they end up considering evolution rather on Miller's catholic merits. And if you were really concerned with demonstrating that "not all evolutionary biologists are enemies of religion" you could cite Michael Behe, also an evolutionary biologist and observant Catholic. But we both know you'll never do that because Behe's science demonstrates micro-evolution but disproves macro-evolution, which is a fact you are afraid to share. Your purpose is not to demonstrate evolution is friendly to catholics, but that because some catholics accept evolution then by implication so ought your religious students, as if Miller's catholicism was some kind of 'seal of biblical approval'.

But hypocritically you'll leverage Miller's Catholicism, while ignoring Behe's Catholicism, all to cast biblical literalism (creationism) in a poor light and pave the way to teaching a half truth about evolution. But we know there isn't enough time, nor is your "state" science class the appropriate venue, to explore what might be true about biblical literalism nor will your class ever entertain the evolutionary science that weighs against macro-evolution.

The criticism, again, is that if you can't do justice to biblical literalist viewpoints then don't drag them into your class in the first place, and don't hypocritically castigate creationists for wanting to tell their viewpoint of your science after your science has misrepresented their viewpoints.

It's the bias and hypocrisy, scott. I don't believe for one second at this point that you don't understand that. That you're not going to cover all aspects of the science is regretable, but that you use (by showing the movie) a caricature of creationism as a strawman and Miller's Catholicism to lend credence and authority to your partial coverage of that science is hypocritical. Your standards and classroom are in no jeopardy, you just seek to evade the scrutiny of your hypocrisy, and you keep deflecting away from it.

the lion's share of the film follows the very personal struggle of young college students at Wheaton College to come to terms with the idea of evolution. Each of them reacts differently, displaying a diversity of views, and not necessarily those which are friendly to evolution.

Well, duh! Wheaton's biblical viewpoint (as is that of Lafayette) is literalism (very similar to my own) but biblical literalism is creationism and the movie caricatured creationism with an extremely shallow treatment of Ken Ham's views. The movie set up a shallow view of creationism (and an even more shallow portrayal of Ken Ham's science views) as a strawman, and then spends the rest of the time knocking down that strawman with students "struggling" with a shallow portrayal and defense of biblical literalism. Go figure. And lest they forget, the longest running segment is that of Lafayette wherein the strawman caricature of creation science is repeated.

Is it any wonder Christian students "struggle" when they've been denied the entire truth of what evolutionary science can't yet truthfully say? Were they told of the scientific evidence against neo-darwinian macro-evolution? Here for example is a discussion we previously had on highly conserved introns not being naturally selectable (as neo-Darwinism requires) present in an early sea anemone genotype but not expressed in its phenotype. And I repeat here on your blog part of a discussion we had elsewhere on how neo-darwinism is appealing to an imaginary multiverse to provide enough time and opportunity for random mutation to establish what it probabalistically can't do in our present, actual, universe:
*****
Here are some cogent excerpts from The cosmological model of eternal inflation and the transition from chance to biological evolution in the history of life - Eugene V Koonin, 31 May 2007:
"Conclusion: The plausibility of different models for the origin of life on earth directly depends on the adopted cosmological scenario. In an infinite universe (multiverse), emergence of highly complex systems by chance is inevitable. Therefore, under this cosmology, an entity as complex as a coupled translation-replication system should be considered a viable breakthrough stage for the onset of biological evolution.

The central problem: the emergence of biological evolution, the inherent paradoxes of the origin of replication and translation systems, and the limitations of the RNA world

The origin(s) of replication and translation (hereinafter OORT) is qualitatively different from other problems in evolutionary biology and might be viewed as the hardest problem in all of biology. As soon as sufficiently fast and accurate genome replication emerges, biological evolution takes off.

How such a system could evolve, is a puzzle that defeats conventional evolutionary thinking.

A crucial aspect of the framework developed here is brought about by a disturbing (almost nightmarish) but inevitable question: in the infinitely redundant world of MWO, why is biological evolution, and in particular, Darwinian selection relevant at all? Is it not possible for any, even the highest degree of complexity to emerge by chance? The answer is "yes" but the question misses the point. Under the MWO model, emergence of an infinite number of complex biotas by chance is inevitable but these would be vastly less common than those that evolved by the scenario that includes the switch from chance/anthropic selection to biological evolution. The onset of biological evolution canalizes the historical process by reducing the number of available trajectories to the relatively few robust ones that are compatible with the Darwinian mode of evolution of complex systems (Fig. 3). This leads to a much greater rate of change than achievable by chance such that, as soon as there is an opportunity for biological evolution to take off, anthropic selection is relegated to a secondary role in the history of life.

Conclusion
Despite considerable experimental and theoretical effort, no compelling scenarios currently exist for the origin of replication and translation, the key processes that together comprise the core of biological systems and the apparent pre-requisite of biological evolution. The RNA World concept might offer the best chance for the resolution of this conundrum but so far cannot adequately account for the emergence of an efficient RNA replicase or the translation system.

By contrast, here I propose a direct link between specific models of evolution of the physical and biological universes, with the latter being contingent on the validity of the former (MWO) as illustrated by simple calculations. Importantly, in this context, the validity of MWO is to be understood in a rather generic sense. For the present concept to hold, the only essential assumptions are that the universe is infinite [e.g., any (island) universe under MWO; the multiverse, per se, is not a must] and that the number of macroscopic histories in any finite region of spacetime is finite."

Note the highlighted passage (and others not excerpted) make the implications for *ongoing* impact to Darwinian random mutation and natural selection, beyond just origin(s) of replication and translation (the main focal point of the paper). i.e. the "benefits" of a multiverse don't end with OORT, MWO-Darwinian evolution has greater probabilities than without MWO.
******

So, are the students in the PBS movie struggling with the full truth or are they stuggling with a partial truth?

Might they struggle a lot less if they were shown that macro-evolution is not actually the "fact" disproving biblical literalism it's alleged to be, that the "best theory we have" isn't actually good enough, ya think? And before you launch into the "evolutionary theory is being revised all the time" mantra, the point is the struggling students are not being taught why that theory is always being revised and is about to undergo more revisions all the while they're being taught it is "a fact". But real facts don't get revised, do they.

They'd struggle a lot less if they were told neo-darwinism isn't anyhwere near the "fact" it's purported to be. They'd struggle a lot less with their biblical literalism if instead of telling about Miller's catholicism and Ken Ham's creationsism, that time were spent telling them about neo-darwinism's limitations. Or do you rather they struggle with their faith instead of with your "facts"?

All are presented with more sympathy and intelligence than your comments deserve from me.

Sympathy? The materialist/humanist/darwinist NCSE and PBS presenting struggling Christian students with sympathy? More like crocodile tears. And with intelligence? Of course. No one accused them of being stupid, just biased, knocking down strawmen, and telling half truths, deliberately, with marketing aforethought.

Stan said...

Starwind,
What are you trying to prove here? Charges of hypocrite are subjective and non-productive. You've done it, again and again...and again.

Your points are made, your anger boils ever hotter, and your purpose seems thin. If your purpose is to nail someone to a wall, or hang 'em high, you'll not elicit much sympathy for your grating pursuit. If your purpose is to change the world, you are going about it the wrong way. If your purpose is to somehow change Scott, your approach is waaaay off base. Your vitriol is accomplishing nothing but to show off your self-righteousness.

Calm down, take breath, drink a cold one and let's move on.

Scott Hatfield . . . . said...

I've allowed the above comment because the author assures me privately that he did not mean to imply that I was doing anything illegal---he just thinks I'm a hypocrite.

However, I'm just tired of this conversation. I don't privilege any one's views in my class. A student's personal views on evolution have nothing to do with their final grade. I give students who are interested in exploring and defending their personal views the opportunity to do so in one of the topics in an essay assignment. I encourage those who have those views to choose that topic! Many of them have defended some version of YEC and earned an 'A' on that assignment and an 'A' in the course. I fail to understand how these outcomes are consistent with a charge of hypocrisy, and despite his intelligence and industry I just don't think Starwind knows what he's talking about.

I'm not going to dump a valuable pedagogical tool on the grounds that it doesn't portray the version of creationism that Starwind wants to defend. The fact is, most creationists in my experience are not like Starwind. Most of them are like Ken Ham. AIG is the largest creationist outfit in the country. Guys like Hugh Ross are a minority in the churches. If, overnight, Ham's cohorts moved to Starwind's level of sophistication, I'd be thrilled. My job would be a lot easier, because it wouldn't be necessary for students to unlearn as many misconceptions, frankly.

But that's not the way things are, Starwind. If you really want to make helpful suggestions on this topic, send them to me in e-mail.

Thanks..SH

Starwind said...

Scott Hatfield, all;

A final clarification, lest others misconstrue my intent.

At no time have I ever believed that Scott even remotely broached any teaching standards or anyone's rights. I believe he is a good teacher and is well liked by his students. Not one of my statements or posts should be misconstrued so as to imply otherwise, for such was never my intent.

My issue is solely a difference of opinion as to what I perceive as conflicting viewpoints made on this blog about circumstances in a variety of other venues. My issue has *never* been that whatever transpires in Scott's classroom actually violates any standards. My issue has *only* been, in my opinion, that Scott has offered conflicting viewpoints on some course content, but regardless of his viewpoints, all of that course content in fact remained well within standards and policies. I further recognize there are practical constraints placed by textbook content, media, and accreditation requirements, and while I have my opinions as to what extra-curricular material warrants discussion, it is after all Scott's class and his opinion accordingly carries all the weight, as it should. I can argue my opinion, and I have done so, albeit perhaps excessively.

That difference of opinion obviously extends to other viewpoints regarding other non-classrooom events and circumstances as well, but though our disagreement has been pointed and protracted, Scott has *always* been courteous and civil even in the face of my unChristian barbs, and for those I do apologize.

Which brings me to my final point: I would remind my Christian brethren that while our Lord called us to be wise as serpents in our understanding of worldly issues, He also told us to be gentle as doves in how we treat others, and accordingly I would admonish all Christians to forsake vulgar or obscene language and personal attacks, and if your disagreement can't be expressed with civility and accuracy then lay it down until you find the requisite patience.

My own posts have become divisive and uncharitable, and accordingly I think it best I stop altogether.

Best wishes to you Scott and your classes, and thank you, sincerely, for your hospitality.

Scott Hatfield . . . . said...

Starwind makes a gracious exit on this thread. We've tangled before and I don't doubt we'll probably tangle again. We don't see eye-to-eye on this or other matters.

If anyone's reading, though, it would be a mistake to think that I can't distinguish between the person and the ideas they carry, and I have a heckuva lot more respect for an honest sparring partner like Starwind than for the ID types (you know who you are) who never, ever, admit any shortcoming or concession and who always play to their audience rather than seriously engage.

And, again, if anyone is reading: if you are a believer, regardless of whether or not how you feel about evolution, please consider adding me to your list of those in need of prayer. What will happen at my school site in a few days will be a trial for a saint, and I am no saint. Frankly, it's hard to reach out in love when the opposition is hardened, but honest. It is even harder when you know that innocents are being deceived. How can I, a man of unruly passions, hope to strike the right balance in such a situation? I really doubt that I have it in me to do that on my own. Really, before I could hope to deliver any message I should take Starwind's example to heart, and take a long look in the mirror.