3/24/2009

THIS JUST IN . . .

Caldwell loses. What a shocker.

I've posted about this before
when they were denied by the Court of Appeals, and now the State Supreme Court essentially allows their complaint to perish from lack of attention.

Casey Luskin, are you paying attention? I've urged you to take me to court when you complained that NCSE and others who acknowledged faith traditions accepting evolution were trammeling on the Establishment Clause. I double-dog dared you. I guess maybe I was right when I claimed back then that you and the rest of the DI's lawyers were empty suits, grandstanding by offering some 'legalese' for the faithful that you knew would never pass muster in the courts. You could've at least saved Larry Caldwell some trouble by giving him some of that free advice you dispensed so liberally in the Dover case. Hello?

Silence.

Ftk, who made a federal case of this line of reasoning, where are you on Caldwell's setback? No comments, even after I invited you or any of your fellow travelers to observe my class and see if you could catch me indocrinating anyone? I even gave out my cell phone, but no one took me up on my offer back then. Curious!

Starwind, who filled up my comments thread with lengthy sermons as to my supposed hypocrisy on this point, nothing to say? I mean, really, this is pretty much a rejection by the courts of the merits of your argument, which claimed that even an allusion to or an acknowledgement of evolution-friendly belief was somehow prejudicial.

I hear crickets.

5 comments:

Starwind said...

Scott;

Your recent post has been brought to my attention, to wit:

Starwind, who filled up my comments thread with lengthy sermons as to my supposed hypocrisy on this point, nothing to say? I mean, really, this is pretty much a rejection by the courts of the merits of your argument, which claimed that even an allusion to or an acknowledgement of evolution-friendly belief was somehow prejudicial.

You have again, as you invariably do, distorted my argument attempting to yet again grind your perpetually dull axe.

1) My argument was that you teach only science, including current science evidence that illustrates the limits of prevailing theory, and avoid all religious content., and I've reiterated my exact same argument in great detail and elaborated that you, personally, are illequipped to honestly inform any student as to the theological implications of macro-evolutionary theory versus micro-evolutionary fact, and that such discussions of religious content are best handled in a forum outside the classroom where time permits and you and the NCSE aren't advocating someone's particular religious views.

2) I never said anyone had a constitutional right to not have their religious beliefs contradicted by some government website. Regardless, the ruling you are crowing about is that the plaintiff didn't establish "injury in fact" and on that basis there was no case for the Supreme Court (or any court) to consider. But not being legally injured by a Darwinism website and Darwinism being compatible with Christian faith are two entirely different issues.

On that latter very real issue, I asked you three times how you, a professed Christian who claims Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior, can simultaneously profess Darwinian evolution of mankind while your professed Lord Jesus taught the creation account that God made Adam and Eve.

For the fourth time then Scott, Jesus [who you agree was divine and thus presumably speaks Truth] said (Mar 10:6) "But from the beginning of creation, God MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE." and yet you dispute the biblical account of creation as reiterated, in part, by Jesus. Jesus also said (Luk 6:46) "Why do you call Me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do [or disbelieve] what I say?". I.e., if you, Scott, believe in Jesus, if He is in fact your "Lord", then you believe (and obey) what He says, whereas if you don't believe what He says, your belief in Him as your Lord is questionable. Understanding a literal creation account is not essential, but belief in what Jesus says is arguably essential.

So, explain to us all how your view of Darwinism is compatible with your being a professed believer in the Lord Jesus who taught creationism. You raised this issue, again, and this isn't a rhetorical question. Darwinists and Christians all over Fresno would like to know where you really stand. Which master do you serve Scott, Darwin or Jesus?

I hear crickets.

I have answered every question addressed to me on your post on this subject. You, on the other hand, went silent to my question.

The crickets you hear, Scott, are those waiting for your explanations, which to date you've evaded.

That you now accuse others of silence in view of your own silence is precisely the hypocrisy in which you so often engage, and pretend to be unaware of, and why I don't comment here anymore.

Dawn said...

Starwind: First: Why can't Scott believe in evolution and his God? The latter is faith based and the former is fact based. They are not based on the same thing.

Second: There is NO such thing as Darwinism. It is not a religion, a belief system, or anything else you inappropriately choose to categorize it as. Your choosing to create an either/or status, as if they are both belief systems, is stupid.

Darwin simply published his record of research and observations of natural selection. Which means the fittest survive IN THEIR AREA by producing the greatest numbers of surviving generations. It is not that they are more powerful, bigger, stronger, or whatever. It means that they simply are the best adapted to the environment in which they live.

Now, for full disclosure: I don't believe in any god, so you can ignore what I say since I'm not one of your "good Christians". I started out believing (I was a Lutheran and Episcopalian for most of my life), and, through much reading, including several Bible studies, decided that I don't believe in the christian god any more than I believe in Zeus, Thor, Shiva or any other god.

Scott: good luck with all your teaching and upcoming state tests. I am SO thankful my kids are out of the K-12 stage and in college where they are learning. Their science teachers in HS were a lot like you. Great teachers. I have no idea about their religious beliefs because they very appropriately kept them out of the science classroom. (hugs)

Kristine said...

*chirp, chirp* That was me. ;-) I haven't weighed in on this issue, either. Right now I have bigger fish to fry. (I wrote a paper I hope you'd be proud of, and it nearly killed me, eaaugh!)

But it seems that the average ID Joe or Jane cannot see how the bright lights in the movement turn tail at the slightest resistance, leaving ordinary folks like Caulfield holding a bag that they shouldn't even care about holding, because it's not filled with anything.

The President of UVM asks Stein what his upcoming commencement speech is going to be about, and Stein bails. He wasn't "disinvited." Then he says he really didn't want to give the speech anyway. Brave words from Sir Robin - remember this from Expelled? "I'm not going to stop speaking out about this issue [ID]." Well, all I wanted to know was why none of the press releases about Stein's commencement address even mentioned Expelled?

Dembski didn't testify at Dover, because he gets paid for just being testy. So that's a fine mess you got them into by testifying, Behe.

After Dembski's embarrassing statement about Dawkins "changing" the WEASEL program by changing the population and mutation rate parameters he fed into it (and it turns out that Dawkins didn't even change those parameters), and after ID common-Joe Joe G told me that he figured 5-bit characters for his cake recipe that he's measuring the "CSI" of, because case doesn't matter (Joe has "teaspoon" indicated by a single "t" - not indicating case doesn't matter? Isn't there, ahem, a BIG DIFFERENCE between a t of baking soda and a T [tablespoon] of baking soda? Tasty cake there, buddy), I am convinced that even if ID deserved to be in schools, the IDers would not be qualified to teach it. So the "Darwinist conspiracy" would continue, because one EPIC FAIL after another doth not a curriculum make.
*Whistles Laurel and Hardy theme*

Starwind, you asked three times, and the cock has crowed. You should realize your gaffe by now. Bye, now!

Scott Hatfield . . . . said...

I never said anyone had a constitutional right to not have their religious beliefs contradicted by some government website. Regardless, the ruling you are crowing about is that the plaintiff didn't establish "injury in fact" and on that basis there was no case for the Supreme Court (or any court) to consider. But not being legally injured by a Darwinism website and Darwinism being compatible with Christian faith are two entirely different issues.

The latter point is true, but trivial unless one can establish that one is talking about rival belief systems. It should be kept in mind that the term 'Darwinist' has two meanings.

One is that of a gloss, usually favored by Brits, for something along the lines of 'some version of Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection.' That would be the sense that someone like Dawkins has used the word in his books.

The other is the idea, usually pushed by creationists in North America, that 'Darwinism' is a belief system. I see no evidence that the UCMP site is a 'Darwinism' website in this sense, and I am certainly not a Darwinist in that sense, either. I don't 'believe' in evolution, either, because that implies that my acceptance of Darwinian explanations is based on faith, rather than upon evidence.

Starwind, it is not a distortion of your past posts here to describe your criticism of my pedagogy as prejudicial to belief. That was clearly the argument you made. You may not have made it in a court of law, but you clearly sympathize with people like Larry Caldwell, who did make that argument. Sorry if the dulled axe of my previous posts failed to spell that trivial distinction out for my readership.

I certainly agree that as a public school teacher my classroom is not the right place to badger students about the 'the theological implications of macro-evolutionary theory versus micro-evolutionary fact,' and 'that such discussions of religious content are best handled in a forum outside the classroom.' I'll go you one further, Starwind: such discussions would be clear violations of the Establishment Clause...and they don't occur in my class, ever. I won't even discuss such topics outside of class with school-age students, for obvious reasons.

And, as I've explained previously, I'm not advocating for any one person's particular religious views, and in my judgement neither is the NCSE or the UCMP web site that was the subject of Caldwell's nuisance law suit.

Ask yourself this: can a social science teacher in a public school point out that there are many Muslims who are not terrorists, and who reject terrorism? I think clearly they could. If that teacher was teaching a unit on world religions, wouldn't this provide some important context for students? I think it very well might. Would mentioning these facts then constitute a de facto endorsement of some branches of Islam? I would say not. Just because some Muslims reject terrorism, that does not mean students are encouraged to become Muslims. In the same way, providing context about the diversity of ways different faith traditions respond to evolution does not constitute a de facto endorsement for any particular faith tradition.

2) Sure, if a plaintiff fails to show evidence that they have been injured, it doesn't rule out the possibility that the defendant hasn't injured said plaintiff or others. But thousands of people view the UCMP web site every day. Thousands of taxpayers. Surely, there must be at least one such taxpayer with school-age children who would like to make the same argument, and prevail? I assure you that if there is such a person, that Larry Caldwell will be happy to represent them free of charge. Funny how he hasn't found anyone yet but his spouse to make that claim! You know, maybe it's just me, but I kind of think reasonable people may conclude that Caldwell's failure to show injury to anyone suggests that Caldwell's complaint lacks merit!

3) This is one of those 'questions' which is designed to paint the respondent into a corner. Basically, I'm being asked a 'who do you serve' question, with the implication that if I don't buy your interpretation of Mark's Gospel, then I am not a 'True Christian' (TM) and so any claims I make about believing in God can be discounted. Conversely, if I acknowledge that your understanding is authoritative, then you'll basically say that I'm convicted by my own words. Heads you win, tails I lose.

Well, these are false dichotomies. Even if I allowed that some sort of common-sense literal understanding of Jesus's remarks here is the correct interpretation, it would still have no standing in science. I would still have to teach the state science standards. I would still be living in North America, in a popular culture that doesn't give evolutionary theory a fair shake as science. I would still have to make pedagogical decisions about the best way to address misconceptions about evolution. And, I think I would still end up teaching my class pretty much the same way.

For what it's worth, though, it's obvious that I have a different view of scripture than you do, so if it floats your boat to dress me down on that point, go for it. I'm in no position to tell you what to believe there. All I can say is that your beliefs or mine on how to best interpret Mark's Gospel have no standing either in the courts or with the scientific community.

But since you asked....

Science is the study of the natural world. As a Christian, I believe that God is the Creator of that natural world, a world which at present contains much suffering.
Non-believers often point to the problem of evil as evidence for God's non-existence. The evolutionary process certainly provides plenty of talking points for such folk, but while it is a real problem that believers must grapple with, I do not believe that it is God's will that his creatures suffer needlessly.

I do believe, however, that it is God's will that we should do our part to alleviate suffering. You are no doubt familiar with Jesus's parable of the sheep and the goats? (Matt. 25:31-46). I feel that the best way for me to help alleviate suffering is to promote the public acceptance and understanding of science...not as an alternative to religious belief, but as an effective means of using the gift of reason to make the world a little less sorrowful. Science, while not a belief system, accepts as an axiom the idea that nature is lawful, and this is strongly consonant with Christianity. I do not see any necessary conflict between teaching science and personal faith.

Now, you might at this point try to pin me down about 'Darwinism', but as I've already indicated, I don't view such as a belief system.

Some people do, clearly. Daniel Dennett thinks of 'Darwin's dangerous idea' as a 'universal acid' that will dissolve competing ideas, such as religion. Richard Dawkins obviously explicitly links his acceptance with evolution with that of atheism. I think it would be fair to say that such folk have reified the facts available to them as objects in a belief system.

I don't share this view, and so I don't really feel much force in any attempt to pin me down to defend 'Darwinism' with Christianity. To me, asking whether evolutionary biology is compatible with belief in God is like asking whether plate tectonics is compatible with eating off paper plates. To me, scientific theories are not claims of ultimate 'Truth' that have the same sort of ontological status as professions of faith. The former is held provisionally and subject to change, but the core of the latter (personal conviction) has a very different character.

So, nice try, but no cigar. The problem is not that I don't understand the question, or that I don't answer the question. The problem is that you and I fundamentally differ on the sort of questions that should be asked, or which can even be coherently posed.

You apparently think that some sort of reading of scripture that absolutely affirms the authority of the text as you understand it is a challenge to any scientific finding that seems to contradict it. I, on the other hand, think you are making a category error.
I don't think you're a hypocrite on this point---or, in fact, on any point. I think you've been remarkably consistent, including the way you've described my conduct as hypocritical. You've consistently argued that I'm a hypocrite, and you've consistently implied my views on this topic are part of a belief system called 'Darwinism'. You've consistently used theological arguments and scripture to challenge my beliefs.
I don't see any hypocrisy in that.

But I do see frustration. Your arguments no doubt seem heavy to you, and they carry in your mind the weight of those theological traditions to which you ascribe, as well as the weight of reason. But, weighty as they are, they are like a receding glacier that does little more than polish my surface flaws, without penetrating my inner core. That core includes scripture, and a deep belief in a great God, a God who loves even me, a sinner saved by grace. But it also includes Pierce and Popper, Pascal and Whitehead. You don't ask the right kinds of questions to engage that part of my core, and you don't seem to have much use for the kinds of answers I'm likely to give.

But, thanks nonetheless for gracing me the rare comment. As mentioned, it gives me the opportunity to address my shortcomings. As glaciers go, you polish nicely.

Starwind said...

Scott:

Starwind, it is not a distortion of your past posts here to describe your criticism of my pedagogy as prejudicial to belief. That was clearly the argument you made.

The problem with your "pedagogy" is that you single out Christian creationists for ridicule and indoctrination while holding out one man's Catholicism (Miller's) over another's (Behe's), and while state standards may grant you that latitude, they don't make such pedagogy logical or sincere. The problem with your "pedagogy" is that you pretend it has no problems and is balanced and has a scientific basis. The problem with your "pedagogy" is that you assert it offers compatibilities that you yourself believe, yet you can't bring yourself to actually explain that compatibility.

but you clearly sympathize with people like Larry Caldwell, who did make that argument.

I sympathize with their Christian beliefs, yes, beliefs which are incompaibile with Darwinism, yes, incompatibilities which you don't yet grasp, seemingly. But I do not sympathize with their particular lawsuit. Other suits may actually have merit and standing and Caldwell's suit just makes it more difficult for better arguments to be fairly heard.

And, as I've explained previously, I'm not advocating for any one person's particular religious views, and in my judgement neither is the NCSE

Oh please. We've been over this ad nauseum. Both you and the NCSE advocate (implicitly) for Miller's catholocism over Behe's and explicitly against Ken Ham's creationism and you show a PBS video promulgated by Miller and the NCSE in class to make that point.

Ask yourself this: can a social science teacher in a public school point out that there are many Muslims who are not terrorists, and who reject terrorism? I think clearly they could. If that teacher was teaching a unit on world religions, wouldn't this provide some important context for students? I think it very well might. Would mentioning these facts then constitute a de facto endorsement of some branches of Islam? I would say not.

Then if there is no defacto endorsement of one view over another, why bother drawing the distinction? Are both equally true? Equally false? Equally innocent? Equally guilty? Have all beliefs been honestly presented or have some been left out of the discussion? What purpose does it serve to draw distinctions and then pretend all distinctions are irrelevant. Has the claim been made that a scientific basis exists for those distinctions and that some viewpoints are scientific while others are not?

It is reasonable to honestly and openly discuss the religious component of terrorism, even though not all terrorism has a religous basis. But when an ostensible science class denigrates one single religous view while leaving others out altogether, very clearly that is a (dis)endorsement. Regardless of the presumed merits of singleing out the one religious view, by definition it is an endorsement at least partially of other views. And if that one religious view were in fact internationally outlawed (as is terrorism), you'd have a point. But creationism isn't illegal and tarring all creationist beliefs with NCSE's Ken Ham brush is hardly balanced. It is in fact antagonistic and part of the reason "popular culture doesn't give evolutionary theory a fair shake as science".

Physic's classes don't take such pains to dispute that "in the Beginning God created", so why must evolution? Physics seems willing to let its theories rise or fall on the actual evidence and predictions (failed or fulfilled). Why can't evolution?

Well, these are false dichotomies.

No. The dichomoty is very real. You are confronted with that dichotomy when you evade answering my question. That dichotomy is why you won't answer.

3) This is one of those 'questions' which is designed to paint the respondent into a corner. Basically, I'm being asked a 'who do you serve' question, with the implication that if I don't buy your interpretation of Mark's Gospel, then I am not a 'True Christian' (TM) and so any claims I make about believing in God can be discounted. Conversely, if I acknowledge that your understanding is authoritative, then you'll basically say that I'm convicted by my own words. Heads you win, tails I lose.

Not quite. The question was designed to force you to seriously examine the "compatiblility" you claim exists between believing in Darwinian evolution (and I generally use the term in the Brit 'gloss' sense) and believing in Jesus Christ, while simultaneoulsy disputing 'Creationism'. The dichotomies are very real (as your heads/tails analogy recognizes) but seemingly not seriously examined by you.

If Jesus had said ""But from the beginning, random variation and natural selection evolved THEM MALE AND FEMALE.", the dichotomy would indeed be false or trivial.

But Jesus didn't say that, did He. And you claim to believe in Jesus and you further claim that other Christians ("Creationists") in your classroom ought to take some comfort in Miller's Catholicism (but not Behe's?).

Now take that discomfort you feel at being 'put on the spot' with my question and transfer it to your students or to the Caldwell's and perhaps you begin to comprehend the very real issue. If one really believes what their Lord Jesus said, then one really can't believe what Darwin said. There really is no compatibility, certainly not in the common sense literal meaning of their respective words.

While that is no difficulty for the false professor, agnostic, or atheist, it is a very real dichotomy for anyone who really believes in Jesus and what the bible says. And it ought to give pause to anyone who offers assurances of Darwinism being compatible with Christianity.

Even if I allowed that some sort of common-sense literal understanding of Jesus's remarks here is the correct interpretation, it would still have no standing in science. I would still have to teach the state science standards. I would still be living in North America, in a popular culture that doesn't give evolutionary theory a fair shake as science.

Go back and re-read what Jesus actually did say and what He did not say (as I contrasted them for you) and ask yourself what other literal common-sense understanding could Jesus have possibly meant and where is that vaunted "compatibility" you assert with Darwinism? How is the Christian student in your classroom to derive any comfort from such empty reassurances?

And no, I don't exepct or ask that Jesus' words be taught as science. I never have, you know it, and our exchanges could be more to the point without you erecting such strawmen.

But as has been previously noted, the state science standards don't require you to show the PBS video or to denigrate creationists. Jesus, by His own words, is a creationist, and you claim Him, a creationist, as your Lord, so take care whom you tar with NCSE's creationist brush.

Perhaps if the genuine science (including the pro & con of Behe's findings, for example) of evolution were taught as physics, engineering or math is taught, it would get a fair shake. But the shrill dogma that passes for macro-evolution evidence and theory deserves the disbelief it receives.

For what it's worth, though, it's obvious that I have a different view of scripture than you do, so if it floats your boat to dress me down on that point, go for it.

We don't really know what your view is, do we. That is why I asked. You've been dressed down not for what you view is, but rather for hiding your view while simultaneously asserting your view is compatible with what Jesus said. You don't get to both hide your view and assert it in the same breath.


If you really have an explanation of how Darwin and Jesus could both mean the same thing, then I'd like to hear it (and I'll charitably note you've yet to address it head-on) and I imagine so would many others, and so I asked; if not to get your explanation then at least to force you to re-examine your proffered reassurance of compatibilty and how glib it sounds to anyone who takes seriously what our Lord Jesus told us.

To me, asking whether evolutionary biology is compatible with belief in God is like asking whether plate tectonics is compatible with eating off paper plates.

Don't reword or dull my question to provide cover for your reluctance. I asked my question very precisely, very specificlly, four times now.

The problem is not that I don't understand the question, or that I don't answer the question.

Actually that is precisely the problem - you don't answer the question. That is why you reword it, or pretend it is a false dichotomy that doesn't merit an answer, or that I ask don't the right kind of question to 'encourage your core'.

I am, however, asking the question every creationist seriously considers, the question you claimed has a compatible answer.

If you can't bring yourself to explain your alleged compatibility between Jesus' creationism and Darwin's evolution, how can you possibly expect anyone else to follow your advice or believe you? The next time you assure a student or churchgoer that Darwinism is compatible with their Christian faith, what are they to think of your empty answer, heretofore?