May 22, 2008 | David F. Coppedge

Creepy!  Creationism in School

Is there some reason that two reports described creationism as something that is “creeping” into schools?

  1. USA:  In Live Science, senior editor Robin Lloyd described creationism as “creeping” into U.S. classrooms.  “One in eight U.S. high school biology teachers presents creationism or intelligent design in a positive light in the classroom, a new survey shows, despite a federal court’s recent ban against it.”  The basis of her report was a paper in PLoS Biology by Berkman, Pacheco, and Plutzer.1  The paper said 38% of the public would prefer that creationism be taught instead of evolution.  A survey of 939 teachers showed that between 12% and 16% are creationists, and only 23% feel strongly that evolution is a central unifying theme for biology.
        The federal ban that Lloyd referred to was the decision by John E. Jones in Dover, Pennsylvania – a ruling that had no bearing on any school outside that county.  She referred vaguely to “many other legal victories at the state and local level for the teaching of evolution.”  One should recall that calling a decision a “victory” depends on one’s point of view.  Science Daily and PhysOrg also alleged that creationism violates the Establishment Clause, but did not describe creationism as “creeping” into schools.  Actually, the US Supreme Court, while forbidding “equal time” laws, allows teachers “considerable leeway” in how the subject of origins is presented – a point Berkman admitted in his paper.
        Did Lloyd provide evidence that creationism is “creeping” into schools, as opposed to declining or maintaining a presence that has always been there?  She quoted Berkman saying “The status of evolution in the biology and life sciences curriculum remains highly problematic and threatened,” but otherwise there was no indication of a conspiracy to sneak creationism into schools – which is what the phrase “creationism creeps into U.S. classrooms” suggests.
        Lloyd used additional language to portray creationism as something sinister and threatening.  Whereas creationists believe life was created by God, “Scientists, on the other hand, agree that humans evolved from a common primate ancestor in a process that stretches back tens of millions of years,” she proclaimed.  “The theory of evolution on which this is based is one of the most well-supported theories in science.”  Other statements stressed the “victory for evolution” theme or the “all experts agree” theme: “This issue [the teaching of evolution] is particularly interesting in that context because the public opinion on it is in many ways so far away from where the experts are,” Berkman told Live Science.  He also told the reporter, “Victory in the courts and state standards will not ensure that evolution is included in high school science classes.”
        As usual, Live Science included icons at the bottom for its featurettes that mock creation beliefs: “Top ten creation myths” and “Top 10 missing links.”
  2. Et tu, Turkey?  “Creationism is creeping into the universities to the alarm of researchers supporting Ataturk’s vision of a secular state,” Nigel Williams wrote in Current Biology this week.2  His article has the bellicose title, “Secular Turkey’s evolution battle.”  Later he said, “Ankara is now the centre of a battle against the rise of creationism in Turkey.”
        Williams also did not provide evidence that creationism is “creeping” in under the wire.  He admitted that an Islamic version of creationism has been taught in Turkish high schools since 1985.  That’s 23 years – hardly a creepy new threat, though creationist leanings seem more prevalent among younger teachers.  If anything is creeping in now, it is American evolutionists like Douglas Futuyma and Jerry Coyne who came to lecture against creationism in Ankara.
        Like the Live Science article, the editorial in Current Biology stressed the warfare metaphor: “Ankara is now the centre of a battle against the rise of creationism in Turkey.”  There was a reference to Adnan Oktar (a.k.a. Hahrun Yahya), whose thick and lavishly illustrated Atlas of Creation was sent to teachers and researchers.  This person and his group, which also supports an elaborate multi-language website (see HarunYahya.com) has no connection to American creationists, who oppose the Islamic slant and many aspects of the beliefs presented.  American creationists also lack the kind of funding that supported this one organization’s effort, which most likely came from rich Muslim supporters, perhaps Saudis.3  American evolutionists, by contrast, are amply funded by the American government.  All creationist organizations in the West and Australia are privately funded and get no such government subsidies.
        Williams not only lumped Islamic and Christian creationism into the same pot, he linked it to the highly-charged word “fundamentalism” and described evolution as “secular” in the vision of Ataturk.  This begs the question whether Darwinism is devoid of religious implications, and whether scientific evidence for intelligent design could be presented with the same secular criteria as evolution.  The last word: “Although creationists are spending incredible amounts of funds of unknown origin in their campaign against evolution, we believe that science will win in the end.”

1.  Michael B. Berkman, Julianna Sandell Pacheco, Eric Plutzer, “Evolution and Creationism in America’s Classrooms: A National Portrait,” Public Library of Science: Biology, Vol. 6, No. 5, May 20, 2008, e124, doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0060124.
2.  Nigel Williams, “Feature: Secular Turkey’s evolution battle,” Current Biology, Vol 18, R398-R399, 20 May 2008.
3.  Science magazine reported on May 23 in its “Newsmakers” section that Adnan Oktar, an “influential Islamic creationist,” was sentenced by an Istanbul court to 3 years in prison “for starting a criminal organization and profiting from it.”  This organization, however, is unrelated to his Foundation for Scientific Research (BAV) that published the Atlas of Creation.  “BAV is not directly linked to the activities that landed Oktar in trouble, and creationism had nothing to do with the charges,” the news item stated.  Even so, members of BAV feel Oktar is being persecuted for his views – and Science quoted a physicist who feels that is “not entirely implausible” given the political pressures on Turkey’s justice system. 

The wording in these articles was rigged to color creationism in fundamentalist, religious, superstitious, insidious, sneaky, dark tones and evolution in secular, scientific, victorious, brave strokes, as the stalwart soldiers of Scientific Truth battle this “threat.”  Statistics were carefully selected to support the portrayal of creationism as a creepy minority view.  Lloyd and Berkman used the figure 38% for those wanting creationism taught instead of evolution – a minority, but substantial enough to appear threatening indeed.  When people are asked if they want both views taught, the number can be as high as 65-85% or more.  As few as 10-20% want DODO (Darwin-only, Darwin-only), yet that minority view is imposed by dictatorial courts and lawsuit-threatening organizations like the ACLU and Americans United for Separation of Church and State (a.k.a. secularists determined to overthrow the First Amendment free-exercise clause), funded by radical leftist liberals.
    Boy, could we have fun setting the record straight on what is really going on by the Darwinist minority imposing their religious view (atheism) onto the public, fighting Academic Freedom bills, shutting down debate, and issuing shrill, heated propaganda with no understanding of the issues involved, and precious little attempt to honestly articulate distinctions or weigh evidence.  Take a little tour through the Chain Links on Evolution and Education for plenty of supporting material.  A look at the history of the Darwin revolution, too, would be very illuminating about creepiness.  CEH does not endorse Yahya’s Atlas of Creation but would like to point out that even that was privately funded and offered as a free gift to teachers and academics.  Was anything stopping Dr. Hatecreationism from simply depositing it in the trash can?  It’s not like the organization was invading libraries and burning copies of Origin of Species or something.  The Darwinists, by contrast, get government funding to build pro-evolution websites taking positions on religion, and can send every teacher in the country their propaganda, like the NAS booklet Science, Evolution and Creationism.  How do they indoctrinate?  With bad science in textbooks (Haeckel’s embryos and other hoaxes, see 07/25/2003), with one-sided museum extravaganzas (04/30/2008) and with ridicule and intimidation by arrogant teachers and threats from the courts.  When someone doesn’t tow the party line, as shown in Expelled, the Darwinists ruin careers, lambaste, marginalize, deny degrees and tenure, and act in other creepy ways.
    Creationism is not creeping like some insidious spider or snake under the door, seeking opportunity to multiply and strike.  Belief in creation was the dominant view for centuries till a creeping secularism usurped the scientific institutions and shut off debate (the hallmark of science).  Today’s creationist ladies and gentlemen, well-dressed and educated, knock patiently on the door of public opinion, seeking an opportunity to talk rationally about the evidence once again.  This may seem creepy to inbred liberals unaccustomed to such things, but creepiness is in the eye of the beholder.  Does a creation scientist with a PhD in geology or biochemistry appear creepy?  To whom does a Doctor of Divinity with expertise in archaeology and history appear creepy?  Does a book written by PhD scientists and philosophers of science and a science curriculum writer like Explore Evolution appear creepy to a Darwin-indoctrinated high school biology teacher?  Undoubtedly conservatives appear creepy to liberals.  Why, under certain circumstances, sheep might even appear creepy to wolves.  (Especially those sheep with the big horns.)
    Teachers, would you like to really freak out the Darwinists?  Teach ALL the facts about Darwinism.  Spend lots of time on the subject.  Teach both the strengths and weaknesses about Darwinism.  You don’t even have to mention creation, God, or anything even remotely religious.  Just say something like, “Today, class we are going to talk about evolution.  Many scientists believe that humans came from bacteria.  They have lots of evidence for this.  Here, for instance, are some finch beaks that got longer and shorter as the weather changed.  Here are some moths that scientists glued to tree trunks.  Here is a display of embryos – whoops, I’m sorry, that turned out to be a hoax.  Here is the fossil record, where all the major phyla burst onto the scene without any apparent ancestors.  And here is the inside of a cell, with thousands of molecular machines and a coded language, which they say came from lucky mud.  Any questions?”  To Darwin Party enforcers, the giggles among the students would sound really, really creepy.

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