Anti-Creation Rhetoric Lacks Creativity

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Posted on June 8, 2014 in Astronomy, Bible and Theology, Cosmology, Darwin and Evolution, Dumb Ideas, Education, Intelligent Design, Media, Origin of Life, Philosophy of Science, Politics and Ethics, SETI, Solar System

One would think, after so many decades, the secular scientists would come up with some original arguments for combating their favorite nemesis, the creationists.

The secular scientists (especially the Darwinian evolutionists) never tire of the same talking points against anyone who expresses doubts about evolution (to them, intelligent design is no different from young-earth Biblical creationism, so the term “creationist” lumps many disparate views together).  The basic complaints are: (1) creation (or design) is religion and is at war with science (the old “warfare hypothesis”); (2) the scientific method is the path to truth, enlightenment and progress (i.e., scientism or logical positivism); (3) disbelievers in evolution (or the consensus) are scientifically illiterate.  Skeptics of man-made global warming have been getting the same rap for several years now.

Propping up these old ideas are a few more notions that are sometimes stated, sometimes assumed: (4) to maintain its leadership in the world, America must hold back the inroads of  creationists (or skeptics of the consensus) who are trying to insert religion or pseudoscience into school science classes; (5) science and religion are completely separate human activities that do not overlap; and (6) all sciences are equally valid (e.g., astrophysics, psychology, and SETI); (7) “science” and “scientific consensus” are essentially synonymous.

Cosmos Consensus

Secular scientists prefer airing these talking points without giving their opponents chances to respond.  A good example is an exclusive video interview with Neil deGrasse Tyson (star of the new Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey TV series) on National Geographic that the editors seem to promote as a sermon: “All with the thoughtful charm that has made him a star. Take a listen,” the web page exhorts.  In his charming way, with passionate gestures, Tyson touches on several of the talking points [see commentary below for rebuttal]:

The real problem in society is not whether we’re teaching our kids enough science.  Because— let’s say we started that tomorrow: does that mean everything is OK?  If we teach the 13-year-old better STEM education [science, technology, engineering, mathematics], a better STEM teacher, am I going to wait 40 years for that kid to become president or a member of Congress so that we have a scientifically literate country?  No; I’m not that patient.  For me, the real challenge—the real problem are scientifically illiterate adults.  Adults are in charge.  There are five times as many adults as there are kids in this country.  Adults wield resources.  Adults vote.  Don’t tell me “Fix the kids, and everything will be fine.”  Fix the adults! then the kids will be fine.… [Because of Carl Sagan having popularized science to the public], members of science came to embrace the methods and tools of science and the fruits of its discovery.

If you feel strongly about your religious philosophies, I will have nothing to say about that – unless you want to change the curriculum in a science classroom.  And I would ask you—I won’t fight you, I will ask you—“Why?  There’s no tradition of scientists knocking down the Sunday School door, telling the preacher what to teach.”  That is never— atheists don’t even do that.  There’s no scientist or atheist picketing outside of your church (or synagogue or mosque), saying “That might not necessarily be true!”  There is no such tradition.  So what is the motivation to try to take a religious philosophy and influence what goes on in science?  You can get up enough people to influence school boards. OK.  Again, I’m an educator, so I’m here to tell you the consequences of that.  If you substitute religious philosophy for science [gestures that these are separate realms], there’ll be a generation of people who will not understand what science is.  And they will be [with emphasis] intellectually crippled to contributing to what the centuries have demonstrated to be the most efficient engine of economic growth that has ever been devised.  And that is innovations in science and technology.

Viewers of his Cosmos TV series might recall many instances of Tyson going far afield the “methods and tools of science” to express his own philosophy—especially big-bang-to-man evolution—using cartoons, inaccurate historical episodes and quite unscientific animations.  The 13th and final episode airs tonight (June 8), but the whole series will most certainly be aired and re-aired, and can be watched on the Cosmos On TV website (find some rebuttals on Evolution News & Views).  Many teachers have expressed plans to show the series in science classes.

Incidentally, Tyson told Nature that the whole show was scripted.  He had to learn to deliver the words like an actor does, but was following a predetermined script, not extemporaneously speaking, although he most likely agreed with everything in the script.  The influence of Carl Sagan’s wife Ann Druyan was most likely ever-present.

Consensus Census

After describing results of a recent poll that (shockingly!) found that “4 in 10 Americans Believe God Created Earth 10,000 Years Ago,” Live Science writer Tia Ghose let her personal bias show through:

Knowledge key

Most of the people who believed in evolution also said they were knowledgeable about the theory, whereas those who said they were not too familiar with the theory also were less likely to believe in it.

Americans’ belief in creationism is at odds with scientific consensus. Almost all scientists who study human origins believe that we evolved from other life-forms over millions of years. In fact, humans, or individuals in the genus Homo, are said to have emerged on Earth some 2.5 million years ago.

Ghose creates a dichotomy in her readers’ minds that knowledgeable people believe evolution, but ignorant people don’t.  She failed to mention the many PhD creationists who dispute the neo-Darwinism and evolutionary time, calling on their specialities in many fields: geology, astronomy, history, philosophy and much more.

Concerned Consensus

On June 5, Live Science published an Op-Ed piece by Seth Shulman of the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), entitled, “Top 5 Signs It’s Time to Stand Up for Science.”  He’s pumped, because “On too many occasions, politics and vested interests have trumped the solid scientific evidence people need to help make decisions at the state and federal level.”  He saved his biggest hit for last:

5. Kentucky bankrolls creationism

Last, but surely not least, is the recent decision by the Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority to grant more than $40 million in tax incentives for a planned $172 million expansion of the Bible-based Creation Museum that will feature a full-size replica of Noah’s ark and further the notion that dinosaurs and people roamed the earth simultaneously.

Even aside from the issue of the separation of church and state, the move by the Kentucky government is a jaw-dropping affront to evolutionary science which has overwhelming evidence to show that the Creation Museum is off in its proposed depiction of when dinosaurs roamed by more than 60 million years.

As former New York Democratic Sen. Daniel Moynihan famously put it years ago, people are entitled to their own opinions, but they’re not entitled to their own facts. Want your representatives to make better decisions? Let them hear from you by standing up for science.

Shulman fails to notice that the tax incentives will more than be covered by increased tax revenues for the privately-funded project, so the state is not “bankrolling” AIG’s project; it is treating this private organization the same way it would treat any other.  The First Amendment cannot deny the free exercise of religion, so it cannot deny AIG treatment available to other organizations.  If his issue of “separation of church and state” were accurate, no churches or their rescue missions, soup kitchens or other religious ministries would qualify as non-profit religious organizations.  The whole point of AIG’s project is to present scientific evidence; why is it so “jaw-dropping” to allow people to hear alternatives to the consensus, when no one is forced to visit the museum?  Students at public schools only get to hear evidence supporting Darwinism.

In summary, an observer might feel himself in a flashback, listening to tirades against creationism from Huxley, Tyndall or Darrow, given the similarity in talking points.  Perhaps that stasis could be adduced by creationists as a falsification of intellectual evolution.

As is our custom (contrary to the practice of our opponents), we always let evolutionists give their best shot before analyzing their evidence and arguments.  Go ahead; if you think our quotes are selective, you have the links—read the whole articles.  Watch the whole Cosmos TV series.  Be our guest.  We feel like Darwin on this matter of discernment: “A fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question.”  (Keep in mind we might agree on some things they say.)  So have at it.  Then come back and look for our commentary.  Do a little investigation by yourself first, though: consult our Baloney Detector alongside their material, and ask: any propaganda?  any big lies?  any half-truths?  glittering generalities?  straw men?  sidestepping?  fear-mongering?  loaded words?  Here’s our analysis of Tyson’s quotation.

The real problem in society is not whether we’re teaching our kids enough science. Because— let’s say we started that tomorrow: does that mean everything is OK? If we teach the 13-year-old better STEM education [science, technology, engineering, mathematics], a better STEM teacher, am I going to wait 40 years for that kid to become president or a member of Congress so that we have a scientifically literate country? [Association Fallacy; because Tyson presented evolution as science throughout Cosmos, he is associating Darwinism with scientific literacy.] No; I’m not that patient. For me, the real challenge—the real problem are scientifically illiterate adults. Adults are in charge. There are five times as many adults as there are kids in this country. Adults wield resources. Adults vote. Don’t tell me “Fix the kids, and everything will be fine.” Fix the adults! [Tyson ridicules his opponents as people who need fixing, and assumes that conforming to the consensus on global warming and evolution will “fix” them, even if they have sound evidence for their views.]  then the kids will be fine.… [Because of Carl Sagan having popularized science to the public], members of science came to embrace the methods and tools of science and the fruits of its discovery. [Tyson forgets that each science has its own methods and tools, some more valid than others.  He also forgets that scientific discoveries are often overturned later, sometimes decades later.]

If you feel strongly about your religious philosophies [Tyson fails to recognize the philosophical and religious underpinnings of science], I will have nothing to say about that – unless you want to change the curriculum in a science classroom [Presents the false dichotomy of religion vs science, and the warfare hypothesis; knocks down a straw man]. And I would ask you—I won’t fight you, I will ask you—“Why? There’s no tradition of scientists knocking down the Sunday School door, telling the preacher what to teach.” [This is the either-or fallacy again.  Tyson presents people with “religious philosophies” as separate from scientists, forgetting that most early scientists—and many today—are highly religious, and find their justification for their science in their religion.]  That is never— atheists don’t even do that.  There’s no scientist or atheist picketing outside of your church (or synagogue or mosque), saying “That might not necessarily be true!”  There is no such tradition.  [Sad fact is, some do.  The NCSE has created Sunday School material for churches to try to ease their acceptance of Darwinian evolution.  Some atheists picket churches.  Some attack specific Christian beliefs on billboards.  So this is a half truth or perhaps even a big lie.]  So what is the motivation to try to take a religious philosophy and influence what goes on in science?  [But Darwinism is a religious philosophy, as is the atheism Tyson espouses.  Those conservatives who take action at school board meetings are not trying to get religion taught in science class; they are trying to decrease the rampant religious indoctrination of Darwinism from science, and promote what science should be all about: testable science, not indoctrination.  It shouldn’t matter what the religious beliefs are of a person who advocates for accurate science in textbooks and curricula; what should matter is the evidence that bad science is being presented.  Tyson ought to join them in getting Haeckel’s embryos out of textbooks, for instance.]  You can get up enough people to influence school boards. OK. Again, I’m an educator, so I’m here to tell you the consequences of that.  If you substitute religious philosophy for science [more of the either-or fallacy], there’ll be a generation of people who will not understand what science is [massive glittering generality]. And they will be intellectually crippled [more ridicule: calling anyone who disagrees with Darwinism an intellectual cripple] to contributing to what the centuries have demonstrated to be the most efficient engine of economic growth that has ever been devised [half truth: true for Faraday and Maxwell (both Christians), but not for Darwin, who delayed progress in some major discoveries (e.g., vestigial organs, junk DNA, simplistic just-so stories)].  And that is innovations in science and technology.  [In addition to more false dichotomy, Tyson uses fear-mongering, glittering generalities and association.  Teaching evolution honestly (the goal of the Discovery Institute and other advocates of academic freedom) has nothing to do with innovations in science and technology.  Look at the biomimetics revolution for a design-based science that is on the cutting edge of innovation.]

Our readers may find additional propaganda tactics, logical fallacies and smokescreens in this and other anti-creationist rhetoric quoted above.

 

 

2 Comments

Michael June 8, 2014

I actually agree with Tyson when he says “If you substitute religious philosophy for science, there’ll be a generation of people who will not understand what science is.”

The proof of this statement is the sheer number of people who believe that hydrogen to human evolution is scientific. Tyson himself appears to believe many things that do not meet the criteria of “scientific”.

Editor June 8, 2014

Exactly. Tyson is blind to the religious aspects of science, and to the evidential aspects of theism. His principles of questioning authority, being wary of fooling oneself and following the evidence wherever it leads comport very well with Biblical admonitions. Where are the Darwinians willing to question the consensus? Those who try get persecuted by the religious priests of materialism.

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