Our Fundamentalist Neighbors: A Rebuttal

Guest Post by Jonny Scaramanga

I am very happy to welcome a guest post today by Jonny Scaramanga. Jonny’s blog, Leaving Fundamentalism, is a must-read for everyone interested in issues of conservative Christianity and education. Jonny and I have gone back and forth a little bit about the propriety of attacking creationism. Recently, I contributed a guest post to Leaving Fundamentalism about how to handle our fundamentalist neighbors. The following is Jonny’s rebuttal. What do you think?

Adam and I are bad at choosing neighbours. I too have had a bothersome neighbour. Unlike Adam, though, I found the law quite helpful in dealing with the antisocial Ned Flanders next door.

He let his dog bark all day and night for months, so I informed the city council. They served him with an abatement notice and then fined him £5,000.

He built a hideous extension on his house without permission. For this he faced a choice between removing the extension and paying a maximum fine of £20,000.

When he continually harassed and berated me for not sharing his worldview, he received an Anti-social Behaviour Order. And when he was caught persistently leaving his rubbish on someone else’s property, he went to prison for five years.

It is true that we can’t legislate against being an unpleasant person, but we can and do legislate against behaviour that harms other people.

Adam has argued on my blog that banning the teaching of Creationism would not make sense, in the same way that passing an anti-dick law would not make sense. But the two cases are not equivalent. For one thing, dickish behaviour is already covered by existing legislation, while teaching Creationism in private and home schools is not. For another, we are not talking about the right to be a Creationist. We are talking about the right to impose Creationist views on someone else.

Adam also argues that banning the teaching of Creationism probably wouldn’t stop people doing it. That might be true, but it’s a practical matter. I’m more interested in whether there’s a moral case for banning Creationism in education.

First, we need to get the misleading notion of parents’ rights off the table. Parents are humans, with human rights; children are humans, and they also have human rights. Parental rights are not human rights; they are rights that one human being has to exert control over another. Can you think of another instance where liberal democracies allow a person to act in this way? The only similar examples I know are slavery, imprisonment, and archaic ideas of marriage where ownership of a woman passes from her father to her husband. These do not seem like paradigms to emulate.

Children have rights, but they are not yet capable of exercising those rights wisely. Someone must make decisions on their behalf. Usually, the best-placed people to do this are parents. Generally, a child’s interests and her parents’ are aligned, and parents are best placed to act in the child’s interests. But – apart from a right not to be forcibly separated from her children without good reason – these are not rights. These are responsibilities. Other conceptions of childrens’ rights treat children as though they are the property of the parents.

The right to teach Creationism is not the right to practice religion. It’s the right to indoctrinate someone else. The only relevant question is whether teaching Creationism harms children. The answer seems entirely obvious to me. Teaching Creationism involves telling children blatant falsehoods, which have no practical application, which reduce the likelihood of their integrating with wider society, and which require the corruption of the ability to think logically. I think you’d struggle to argue this could be anything other than harmful.

The only exception I can see is that it is in children’s interests to have a good relationship with their parents. It’s also probably beneficial for children to have good relations with their parents’ community. If rejecting the theory of evolution is a requirement for this, then perhaps teaching Creationism serves the child’s interests.

This would ignore the list of possible harms caused by Creationism. If followed to its logical conclusion, the study of ‘scientific’ Creationism has devastating consequences for the life of the mind. It impacts not only on obvious areas like biology and astronomy, but also on areas as diverse as history, linguistics, and psychology. ‘Survivors’ of Accelerated Christian Education writing for my blog express bitterness at the educational opportunities they were denied. Creationism may have united their families when they were children, but now it has created rifts. Creationist children endured mockery and alienation from their evolution-accepting peers, for no obvious benefit. Now they complain of setbacks in their professional life, because their poor education failed to set them up for a real career.

I suspect Adam, along with the Sensuous Curmudgeon, is right that a petition to ban Creationism in schools is likely to be counter-productive. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t look for effective ways to get rid of it.

About the author: Jonny Scaramanga grew up as a fundamentalist and a student in Accelerated Christian Education. He is now a PhD candidate at the Institute of Education, University of London. He has written about creationism for the Guardian and Times Education Supplement, and discussed it on the BBC and Channel 4 (UK). He blogs about his fundamentalist experiences at Leaving Fundamentalism.

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40 Comments

  1. David Long

     /  July 10, 2013

    “Teaching Creationism involves telling children blatant falsehoods, which have no practical application, which reduce the likelihood of their integrating with wider society, and which require the corruption of the ability to think logically.” Although you get to this later Jonny, there is quite a important world of distinction in the move you make here. As you later concede, such views may keep social bonds strong between parents and children and represent some minimal ‘good’. As if this is a small matter. While not fan of advancing Creationism of any sort, there is a lot more to say about what social projects and philosophical ends we think we’re working towards, and how many people stand as allies workign toward those ends. While it may not be clear in the UK, there are in the US equivalent may communities where Creationism is part-and-parcel of a shared community value, worldview, etc. It’s simply more than the relationship between a parent and child. Being something other, in such communities, can exact the same alienation. It’s not distinctive to this issue. Being Catholic in some neighborhoods in Belfast? Vice-versa?

    Reply
  2. Thanks David. I think establishing the relative costs and benefits here will be quite difficult, because it will vary for each individual. I’ve heard from children raised as Creationists who now feel betrayed by their parents and teachers who misled them, and others who, although they now reject Creationism, express no bitterness about it. Obviously you can’t know at the outset how these variables will play out.

    In some cases, as I argue above, it has in the long term created huge rifts because the children have ended up rejecting creationism, and are now shunned by their communities for this.

    I also think communities which are made up only of creationists are rare. Teaching creationism may make for better relations with some segments of society, but at the cost of alienation from others. In the UK, creationism is mainstream nowhere. Even in the USA, strict Young-Earth Creationism is a minority view in most places.

    And although I think Bill Nye went to far in suggesting Creationists can’t be engineers, I do think there is a cost to society when children are given a poor science education.

    Reply
    • This is one issue Jonny and I have gone back and forth about a little bit. What is the role of the state (or any other external organization) if a family is inflicting harm upon the vulnerable children under its legal control?
      I think we can agree that the state may be justified in intervention in such cases. For example, what if adults are sexually preying upon children? What if they are failing to feed them? Physically abusing them? In such cases, I think the state has a right and a responsibility to intervene. Such things constitute real “harm” to vulnerable children.
      However, is the teaching of creationism “harm?” Jonny tends to think it is; I tend to think it is not. I don’t want to put words in Jonny’s mouth, but he is friendlier to the notion of anti-creationist intervention than I am. I think the bar must be set high for any sort of state intervention in the goings-on among families.

      Reply
  3. In addition, I think it’s worth clarifying one’s thinking on the subject by asking the following questions:

    Is there *any* type of (mis)education that you would consider harmful? Raising children to be racists might be one possible candidate. The education might involve distorting facts to support a racist worldview, such as claiming that evidence from biology points to certain races being inferior. Would that be sufficient to justify state intervention?

    If you think it would, what is it that makes the case of Creationism substantially different?

    What about parents who think (possibly on religious grounds) that children should not have any education at all? This is not so far-fetched. The Amish don’t school their children after the age of 13, and plenty of traditional ideologies have believed that girls should only be taught homemaking skills.

    Reply
    • David Long

       /  July 10, 2013

      One of the helpful ‘outs’ of this kind of difference is to see education slightly differently. For the types of social scientists that I normally align myself with, education in the public domain is formal socialization. As such, we can socialize a young Adam or a young Jonny to be most anything. ‘Mis’ education applies then as a label to those forms we reject, either alone or as a societal value as being worthwhile. My irritating anthropologist hat makes me refrain from judgement, as I’m usually interested (thank you David Hume) in describing what is, not ought. That said, my purpose under my science education researcher hat is documenting the training and professional action of science teachers as to why they choose to omit parts of the orthodoxy of science when such action is grounded in religiously based rationales. For evolution, that’s about the only reason it is in the US. That simply won’t do.

      And Jonny, yes…racism is bad. Along with Monarchies.

      Reply
    • This is where I find myself in hot water with many of my fellow liberals. I do not think the state is justified in taking children away from parents, even if the parents have abhorrent beliefs about race and racism. Unless the parents are training their children to physically attack or intimidate members of other racial groups, it is not the role of the government to intervene.
      Also, as ChazIng notes above, I am sympathetic to claims of creationist families that state-directed evolution education can cause harm. This has been the case too often in American history, with Protestant school leaders in the 19th century dismissing Catholic complaints, or white missionaries dismissing the complaints of Native American children and parents. Many of those religiously minded public educators dismissed the claims of dissident religious families. “Schoolmen” would often say that such claims had no merit: if the “schoolmen” could not see why the King James Bible was offensive to Catholics, for instance, then Catholics had no right to complain about it.
      Though it makes me uncomfortable, I feel the same principle applies here. Creationist families should be able to define the potential religious damage inflict-able by the teaching of evolutionary theory. Non-creationists should not be allowed to dismiss those claims as ridiculous, simply because they themselves see no conflict between evolution and their own faith.
      Some evolution-education scholars insist that to allow dissenting families to practice “knowledge not belief” when it comes to public-school evolution education is a cop out. Michael Berkman and Eric Plutzer, for instance, in their blockbuster study of creationism and education, argue that allowing students to simply demonstrate a knowledge of evolutionary concepts while explicitly denying evolution’s truth claims “seriously undermines the legitimacy of science” (page 134). Maybe.
      But if it does undermine science’s legitimacy–and I’m not convinced that it does–such a tactic is the only ethically defensible approach to evolution education. It is legitimate to insist that all public-school students learn the facts about evolution. But it is also legitimate for dissenting creationist families to claim that forcing students to believe such notions amounts to religious indoctrination. The best compromise, IMHO, is to adopt a policy of “knowledge not belief” about evolution and other religiously controversial ideas.

      Reply
      • I haven’t read Berkman and Plutzer yet, but I think I’m with you on teaching evolutionary concepts without enforcing belief. As you say, you can’t force anyone to believe anything.

        In the case of the creationist schools I’ve seen, gross misrepresentation of science has been a huge problem. If schools were simply required to give a fair exposition of science to all students, a great many creationist arguments would be undermined.

        As for the taking children from racist parents, I haven’t formed a final opinion myself. I certainly wouldn’t suggest taking children away from Creationist parents. Nor would I seek to stop children being taught creationist ideas at the dinner table or in church. So I have some work to do to formulate a logically consistent argument about why it might be OK to teach creationism informally, but not as formal education.

        As for the history, I am woefully under informed on the cases you describe. I’d welcome your suggestions for readings on the subject. I can see the problem, though.

  4. Can Jonny please explain why in his version of a “liberal democracy” that there is no mention of putting the issue of the teaching of creationism to a vote? Jonny speaks of “archaic ideas of marriage” but does not mention that these were legally enshrined in some European countries at that time. Perhaps he would not like to make the connection between legally enshrined oppressive laws in the past and those for evolution in the present. If archaic marriage laws can change, why not the sole promotion of evolution?

    Jonny claims that teaching creationism is “indoctrination” but since creationist organizations want both evolution and creation to be presented, this is not indoctrination as alternatives are offered. Contrast this to Jonny’s idea that only evolution should be taught. Which is closer to indoctrination?

    He states: “We are talking about the right to impose Creationist views on someone else.” but does not explain how this is an “imposition.” Has he sampled all UK students and determined that they are evolutionist so that creationist teaching would be an “imposition”? Or has he assumed that everyone thinks as he does? And what of those creationist and ID students? Are they suffering evolutionary “imposition” as well?

    Reply
    • Alright Chaz, I’m going to take you seriously. I do not anticipate getting into an extended discussion about this though.

      Can Jonny please explain why in his version of a “liberal democracy” that there is no mention of putting the issue of the teaching of creationism to a vote?

      Mostly because Adam mostly blogs about the US context and I blog about the UK. These are representative democracies. Here in the UK, it is unheard of to put a matter like this to a referendum, and I understand that would be the case in the USA as well.
      I’m interested in whether there’s a moral case for banning the teaching of Creationism, and I’ve sketched out what I think is a plausible argument. You’re right that to become law, I’d have to persuade a lot of people of my case.

      Jonny speaks of “archaic ideas of marriage” but does not mention that these were legally enshrined in some European countries at that time. Perhaps he would not like to make the connection between legally enshrined oppressive laws in the past and those for evolution in the present. If archaic marriage laws can change, why not the sole promotion of evolution?

      I don’t see the relevance of this at all. Are you contending that since our ideas about marriage have changed then our ideas about evolution are likely to change too? I’m not sure the two cases are similar, but I accept that our understanding of evolution will grow over time. That’s fine. I think children should be educated about what scientists think, how they reach those conclusions, and what the evidence is.

      Jonny claims that teaching creationism is “indoctrination” but since creationist organizations want both evolution and creation to be presented, this is not indoctrination as alternatives are offered. Contrast this to Jonny’s idea that only evolution should be taught. Which is closer to indoctrination?

      It would simply be misleading to suggest to children that there is any validity to Young Earth Creationist claims whatsoever. I do actually think a discussion of things like the scientific method, methodological naturalism, and what constitutes evidence would be worthwhile discussions for older students to have, but this is closer to philosophy than science. An evaluation of Creationist claims could certainly form the basis of an applied critical thinking course, but it’s not clear why the Christian Creation myth ought to privileged over other ideas.

      I would actually be happy for children to discuss objectively the evidence for Creationism vs. evolution, but there isn’t any good evidence for Creationism. Generally those who advocate this “teach the controversy” position want children to read creationist materials, which are horribly misleading. Given there’s only a limited amount of time in the school calendar, I see little benefit to giving pride of place to critiquing discredited ideas. Especially since asking children to “decide for themselves” implies the absurdity that whatever conclusion they reach is just as valid as that consensus view of thousands of trained scientifics.

      He states: “We are talking about the right to impose Creationist views on someone else.” but does not explain how this is an “imposition.” Has he sampled all UK students and determined that they are evolutionist so that creationist teaching would be an “imposition”? Or has he assumed that everyone thinks as he does? And what of those creationist and ID students? Are they suffering evolutionary “imposition” as well?

      It is an imposition to take a child who has the potential to develop into a rational creature and saddle them with falsehoods and illogic. I do not think this is a complex argument.

      Reply
    • Ideas about evolution have changed and are changing as more data becomes available. My issue is that it is liable to change as such is the nature of both the law and science. The problem is that the evidence is not indicative of macro-evolution but micro-evolution and you are extrapolating beyond the available data. Creationists have been screaming this for a long time but you have not been listening.

      On what scientific basis can you a non-scientist claim to know that YEC claims are not valid? You state that there is no good evidence for creationism. Well what is good evidence? Is the intricate design of DNA not enough? Does intricate design pop into existence as evolutionists believe? Where did that happen? What peer-reviewed journal? What repeatable experiment?

      Where is the evidence that nothing can explode creating 4 dimensions as it explodes? Where is the evidence that mutations can lead to an accumulation of novel information and novel function? Why does nature subscribe to laws?

      Since Dawkins also believes in a form of creationism (the aliens did it!), why not teach that as science as well? Why fool little children that they popped into existence when you can’t show that to be true?

      Reply
      • You said: “You state that there is no good evidence for creationism. Well what is good evidence? Is the intricate design of DNA not enough?”

        No, it is not enough. Even if the impressive complexity of life, and a universe that seems fine-tuned for life to exist, seems overwhelming, it does not lead to young earth creationism. The premise that life and the universe are too complex to exist on their own, and require a designer, is just kicking the can down the road; it cannot explain who designed the designer. Even if we were to discover that life on earth was the work of aliens, we have not answered the question of how the aliens originated. Who designed them?

        If it is theoretically impossible for a universe to come into existence without a prior cause, then the same impossibility applies to that prior cause. An uncaused cause destroys the theoretical objection to the premise of an uncaused universe.

        I believe in Jesus and the Father of whom he speaks. The Father may even have created the universe. However, that would not validate the Genesis creation accounts as historical. In fact, as a believer, I discarded the historicity of the Genesis accounts long before I accepted evolution as the most reasonable explanation for the variety of life on earth as we know it.

      • If it is theoretically impossible for a universe to come into existence without a prior cause, then the same impossibility applies to that prior cause. An uncaused cause destroys the theoretical objection to the premise of an uncaused universe.

        Well it is not practically possible for X to come into existence uncaused thus there must be an initial cause and that initial cause is identified as the uncaused cause or God.

        Evolution of course does not invalidate God, only atheists might argue that.

    • You said: “since creationist organizations want both evolution and creation to be presented, this is not indoctrination as alternatives are offered.”

      This may be their position TODAY, but only because they have lost the war they originally fought. Their original intent was to enforce the ban on teaching evolution in public schools. This is what the 1925 Scopes trial in the US was all about. Only when that effort ultimately failed throughout the US did they want both views taught in public schools. They changed their tactic and developed ‘scientific creationism’ to be used in public schools. The courts said No. They then changed their approach and presented ‘Intelligent Design’ to be taught in public schools and the courts said No.

      At this pint creationists would be happy to share the classroom with evolutionists, but if they really had their way they would REPLACE evolution in the public classroom.

      On the other hand, in private Christian schools that teach creationism I have heard of no interest in presenting evolution along with creationism so that the students can make up their own minds. I call this indoctrination.

      Reply
      • This may be their position TODAY, but only because they have lost the war they originally fought.

        Genetic fallacy or bulverism

        On the other hand, in private Christian schools that teach creationism I have heard of no interest in presenting evolution along with creationism so that the students can make up their own minds. I call this indoctrination.

        And you would be correct to call it such. They should be taught the philosophical foundations of macro-evolution, its limitations and scientific alternatives (to which creationism and ID are to an extent).

  5. He is interested in if creationism harms children but oblivious to the question: does evolution harm children? After all, some creationists claim that it does. Where are the studies which support his views? Jonny then goes on a self-referential spree without a peer-reviewed article, academic book or anything scientific. Strangely, all three of his links to supposed “blatant falsehoods,” “integrating with wider society,” and the “ability to think logically” pertain to ACE material and not creationism broadly defined. To use a marginal subset to smear the set is yet another example of Jonny’s poor reasoning skills as I have taken pains to point out on his own site.

    But since this is a guy who reads that a Muslim terrorist was found hiding out at a Christian crusade and then comes to the “logical” conclusion that this is an example of a ‘Christian terrorist’ (because he needed data for his blog post on the possibility of a Christian Bin Laden) I would say he is not qualified to determine if anything is logical and his own work is proof of that.

    Reply
    • He is interested in if creationism harms children but oblivious to the question: does evolution harm children? After all, some creationists claim that it does. Where are the studies which support his views?

      Well, since the evidence is overwhelming that evolution is occurring, I would suggest that whether it’s ‘harmful’ is beside the point. Evolution is a reality. It may or may not be an undesirable one.

      Anyway, do the Creationists who claim evolution is harmful have studies to support their claims? It seems like the burden of proof would be with them.

      Jonny then goes on a self-referential spree without a peer-reviewed article, academic book or anything scientific. Strangely, all three of his links to supposed “blatant falsehoods,” “integrating with wider society,” and the “ability to think logically” pertain to ACE material and not creationism broadly defined. To use a marginal subset to smear the set is yet another example of Jonny’s poor reasoning skills as I have taken pains to point out on his own site.

      So the claims I’m making:

      Creationism is false. I feel on solid ground with this one. I have mostly discussed ACE on my blog, but you can go with AIG, ICR, Carl Baugh, or whoever floats your mythical boat with two of every creature aboard. The earth is orders of magnitude older than 10,000 years. There isn’t a single Creation account in the Bible but several different ones, so they can’t all be literal, and the Bible doesn’t claim to be the inerrant Word of God. Creationism does not get out of the gate.

      I do not regard the integrating with wider society claim as particularly controversial. Many Creationists also subscribe to separatist theology, although I accept this is only a contingent fact. There are a great many aspects of biology that one can do without accept common descent, but nevertheless we observe Creationist biologists working separately, at separate universities.

      You didn’t actually pick up on one part of my argument which I think is weak: I mentioned that Creationist children can get bullied. I have no doubt that this is true, but I do not think the bullying is justified. If this were the only problem, our efforts would be better spent teaching children not to bully those with other beliefs. Nonetheless fundamentalism, which teaches that it is the only truth, inevitably antagonises those with other worldviews.

      The ability to think logically. At the very least, Creationism requires compartmentalisation so that Creationist claims are not subjected to logical scrutiny, even if the adherent thinks logically in other areas.

      But since this is a guy who reads that a Muslim terrorist was found hiding out at a Christian crusade and then comes to the “logical” conclusion that this is an example of a ‘Christian terrorist’ (because he needed data for his blog post on the possibility of a Christian Bin Laden) I would say he is not qualified to determine if anything is logical and his own work is proof of that

      You do indeed have a long memory. Well, since you brought this error to my attention at the time, and I both apologised and corrected it, I don’t know what more I can say on this subject – except, perhaps, that it is probably unfair to smear my entire reputation on the basis of this one failure.

      Reply
    • Evolution is occurring? What type would that be? Micro-evolution that creationists have no issue with or macro-evolution, which is too slow to be tested but supposedly so overwhelming it must be science? You are changing definitions for your convenience. How scientific!

      Why would the burden of proof be on them? YOU claimed that creationism is harmful yet YOU have not provided any supporting study but anecdotal evidence from former ACE fundies. How do you know that the earth is older than 10,000 years? What experiments have you conducted and where are they published? The bible does not contain multiple accounts but a macro and micro account of the same event. To claim that different accounts discount literalism is linguistic lunacy. One does not need evolution to perform biological research nor does one need creationism.

      People get bullied for many reasons. If someone gets bullied for the truth, why is that problematic? Should I believe lies if it prevents bullying? You need to revise your atheistic ‘hurt’ theology. Truth by necessity is exclusivist to untruth. I am not smearing your reputation on one failure. It is the nature of the failure (looking for confirmatory data) AND that you consistently don’t hold your posts to scientific, theological or philosophical rigour WHILE using some ACE fundy theology to smear ALL fundies.

      Reply
      • Well, when we’re talking about human experience, individual testimony – anecdote, if you like – carries more weight than it would in natural sciences. If students testify that they were harmed by creationism, then perhaps it’s not generalisable, but we can at least say that this one individual was harmed by it. You might choose to be more careful and say this one individual believes she was harmed by it. But since we’re talking about mental impact, that amounts to the same thing.

        Then if you have quite a few people saying it, as we do when you look at all the ex-fundamentalist blogs, websites, Reddit threads, and facebook groups, we can say that there seems to be a body of people who were harmed by creationism.

        That still doesn’t necessarily mean that these people’s experience generalises outside of themselves, but this is the nature of social science. Things are messy and complicated, and we don’t usually deal with reproducible experiments. I’m in the process of a PhD on this subject, and I’ll be able to say more when it’s completed. As it is, I don’t think it’s wild conjecture to say that if someone is raised with a worldview and, as an adult, decides the entire worldview was both false and toxic, they are likely to be quite unhappy about it.

        My point about the bullying was simply that bullying is wrong, and people shouldn’t do it. We agree there, I’m sure. I’m saying that even if creationism is wrong and bad, no creationist deserves to be bullied.

        Alright, no further comment from me on this. I’ve already seen some major typos in my previous comments, a sure sign I’ve been on this computer too long.

      • Now you are back-peddling. Your have made absolute claims:

        Why Fundamentalists Have No Social Skills

        and

        If you claim, as fundamentalists do, that the Bible is 100% consistent, equally and in all parts the Word of God, and intended to be taken literally…..

        and

        Fundamentalism offers no bulwark against this kind of thing happening, because it disables the one weapon we have against it: logical reasoning.

        I have previously warned you about the phrasing of your posts and claims. Thus for you to now admit the limitations of the social sciences is indeed incredible.

  6. Not that he is done, rather he rinses and repeats his assertions. He claims that creationism negatively impacts the mind so that creationists cannot study biology, astronomy, history, linguistics and psychology. He links to himself again (no science quotations of course) and his linked page claims that these are areas that a “Creationist can’t study.” How he knows this is not stated. He then contradicts himself stating:

    Interestingly, the ICCE (ACE qualifications) website claims that a number of students have gone onto study linguistics at university. I’m fascinated to hear how they got on. I’m guessing the cognitive dissonance was strong.

    I’m guessing Jonny’s cognitive dissonance is also strong. Liberty university has creationist students who study biology, history, psychology. Creationists at Cedarville university study biology, physics, history and psychology. And there are many ‘creationist’ bible schools with ancient language scholars. But that doesn’t matter since Jonny can’t be falsified as he will claim cognitive dissonance. Smell the hypocrisy.

    He than gives two links to his blog (again!) and again they pertain to ACE and not creationism. Claiming that creationist teaching “failed to set them up for a real career,” he is clearly conflating ACE fundamentalism with all of fundamentalism and all of creationism. Jonny has thus created a strawman but given the poverty of intelligence on his site, that’s to be expected.

    Reply
    • My argument about which areas a Creationist cannot study is this: If a student acts consistently with Creationist teachings, certain areas are off-limits.

      If you believe the universe cannot be more than 10,000 years old, you cannot consistently study objects older than this. If you do try to reconcile these objects with the Creationist timeline, your work will not be acceptable within mainstream academia.

      If you reject linguists’ theories about the development of language, then your observations will, again, be unacceptable within the academy. Since linguists assume that language has developed over many thousands of years more than Creationists say the Earth has even existed, mainstream linguistics and YEC cannot be reconciled.

      The observations about psychology were based on the writings of authors like Jay E. Adams and Ed Bulkley, conservative Christian authors who allege that psychology is based on evolutionary and atheistic presuppositions and is therefore unsuitable for Christians.

      I would think that the fact that Creationists study these subjects at specifically conservative Christian institutions lends further credence to my argument that Creationism reduces integration with wider society.

      It is true that some ex-ACE students have allegedly gone onto study linguistics at secular universities. I haven’t spoken to them. Maybe they now reject YEC. I can say that their studies are not consistent with a Young Earth Creationist worldview.

      I don’t think your last charge is accurate: I do not conflate ACE with broader fundamentalism. I am sometimes guilty of speaking of fundamentalism as though it is monolithic, which it is not. But as a case study of fundamentalist beliefs, I think ACE is generally representative. It does promote some more extreme Young Earth Creationist ideas which the likes of Answers in Genesis would reject, but these are not common enough to derail my entire argument. You don’t cite any specific ways in which ACE’s views are not representative of wider fundamentalism, so I can’t respond to them.

      Reply
    • You are assuming a priori that there ARE objects older than 10,000 years but have not stated how this will affect the data that they can extract from the rock (excluding its age).

      Linguistics is not a testable science thus it matters not what anyone thinks in that field unless they can actually show it experimentally. Certain aspects of psychology can be un-Christian but that does not mean that a creationist cannot study or be a scholar of the views that they personally don’t agree with. That’s not cognitive dissonance, that’s reality. I can be a scholar of Islam without being a Muslim. There are many creationists who study everything under the sun at secular institutions as well. I know many YECs who attend university and never heard anyone having conflicting issues with their area of study. Also, Liberty and Cedarville degrees are accredited and their graduates integrate with society contra your straw-man.

      I can say that their studies are not consistent with a Young Earth Creationist worldview.

      I can say that your entire site is evidence that you do NOT understand the first thing about fundamentalist theology despite your claims to having been one.

      You don’t cite any specific ways in which ACE’s views are not representative of wider fundamentalism, so I can’t respond to them.

      Fundies are not as concerned about evolution or creation as ACErs (supposedly) are, they do have social skills, they do study and excel at tertiary level science education, they don’t think about becoming Bin Ladens or blowing up abortion clinics and they are integrated into the wider society. They are not bullied for their beliefs since no one is concerned about their beliefs nor do they justify apartheid. Anyway, it is up to YOU to show data on all these claims. After all, since you are no longer a fundie, you are now able to think logically/scientifically.

      Reply
      • You said: “I can say that your entire site is evidence that you do NOT understand the first thing about fundamentalist theology despite your claims to having been one.”

        I am curious about this statement. I was raised a fundamentalist in the 1950s and I was theologically involved with fundamentalist to a considerable degree until about ten years ago. I have been reading Jonny’s blog regularly for six months and have not noticed that his reflections on fundamentalism demonstrated a lack of understanding of fundamentalist theology. True, he does not talk widely of fundamentalist theology since his focus is on ACE education and creationism.

        What specifics have you noticed regarding his great ignorance of fundamentalist theology?

      • See my comments in his post: Jesus Jihad: Could There Be a Christian Bin Laden?

  7. I hope everyone notices that Jonny has not engaged in any hard science evidence for or against his evolutionary worldview.

    He has also committed the following fallacies:
    1. straw-man;
    2. appeal to authority;
    3. argumentum ad populum;
    4. contradiction;
    5. appeal to common practice;
    6. shifting the burden;
    7. equivocation;
    8. appeal to fear;
    9. non sequitur; and
    10. unwarranted extrapolation.

    Reply
  8. It is hard for me to understand how accepting the theory of evolution [which is about the origin of species, not the origin of life] seems to automatically be equated with an “evolutionary worldview” whatever that exactly means; it certainly seems to be used as a pejorative. If ChazIng wants hard science, all he has to do is read the scientific literature which would quickly burn his own straw men of micro-but-not-macro mantra, no new genetic information, etc. Many Christian biblical scholars [e.g. Enns] and many Christian scientists [e.g. Collins] accept evolution and maintain a Christian worldview that places a whole lot more emphasis on Matthew 25 than on Genesis 1 and 2. Chaz et al are strong polemicists, but science is not a debate – it is about conjecture, then hypothesis, then data collection, then developing a theory that is consistent with all of the data and that makes predictions, and then more data collection that either refines, modifies or refutes the theory. Evolution is a robust theory and creationist [including ID] claims remain conjecture with no testable hypothesis and no data. For many of us, the theory of evolution is not a belief system any more than is the theory of gravity.

    Reply
    • biological evolution = origin of species
      chemical/geological evolution = origin of life
      cosmological evolution = origin of matter
      macro-evolution = origin of all constituents of the cosmos (living and non-living)
      worldview = axiomatic method of interpretation

      If ChazIng wants hard science, all he has to do is read the scientific literature which would quickly burn his own straw men of micro-but-not-macro mantra, no new genetic information, etc.

      Which literature would that be Douglas E? And have you evaluated said evidence for yourself or are you parroting the work (and axioms) of others? (argument from authority).

      Enns and Collins are syncretists, there are always syncretists in any group (argumentum ad populum). Creationism predicts design (form), intent (functionality), information degradation and is demonstrable from experiments that show micro-evolution (e.g. Lenski), speciation, beak size oscillations and general loss of information from mutations. Unlike gravity, macro-evolution cannot be tested in a lab. Additionally, evolution is too broad to be tested directly and is thus at best an explanatory hypothesis. Gravity however, is a minor subset of physics which any child can repeatably test with a stopwatch and a ball under different conditions and different times. You are thus comparing apples to rocks (straw-man). So come on now, you need 8 more fallacies to beat Jonny.

      Reply
      • You said: “Unlike gravity, macro-evolution cannot be tested in a lab. Additionally, evolution is too broad to be tested directly and is thus at best an explanatory hypothesis.”

        You are correct; evolution cannot be tested in a lab. Neither can creationism. At best both are explanatory hypotheses in that regard. However, science is not limited to reproducing experimental results. Some things can only be studied by means such as paleontology and genetics. There are probably gaps in our understanding of some details of evolution, as there have been in the past, but the people who discover and correct those gaps are not creationists but evolutionists, so evolutionary theory is self-correcting. I am sure we will have an even clearer understanding of the process as time goes on.

        Young earth creationism has no compelling evidence except Genesis, and the Genesis accounts are not at all clearly historical. I contend that those accounts are something else entirely.

        If creationism and evolution are both at best explanatory hypotheses, evolution is by far the better of the two.

      • Predictable response, and I have no interest in engaging your perspectives because neither you nor I are likely to change our understandings. A few final points – when the word ‘evolution’ is used, it is almost always referring to biological evolution, but I suppose I might be biased since I am a biologist. And since my teaching and research is in the biological sciences, yes, I have read and evaluated the work of those who are highly accomplished in the areas of biological evolution – paying attention to the authorities in the field seems to be a reasonable way of developing an understanding of most any subject. Call Enns and Collins what you will, they are highly accomplished in their respective fields and are trying to address difficult cross-disciplinary questions in the world of science and faith. Lastly, most of us biologists would agree with Mike, Ethan and others that the macro-micro evolution distinction is a canard as is the no new information claim:

        http://scienceblogs.com/mikethemadbiologist/2008/08/29/teaching-macro-and-microevolut/

        http://scienceblogs.com/startswithabang/2010/10/22/natural-selection-and-macroevo/

        Chen, S., E. Zhang, and M. Long. 2010. New genes in Drosophila quickly become essential. Science 330:1682-1685.

        Emerson, J. J., M. Cardoso-Moreira, J. O. Borevitz, and M. Long. 2008. Natural selection shapes genome-wide patterns of copy-number polymorphism in Drosophila melanogaster. Science 320:1629-1631.

        http://home.nctv.com/jackjan/item13.htm

        I am not a fan of banning, but I guess that ignoring is a form of the ban. adios

      • You are correct; evolution cannot be tested in a lab. Neither can creationism. At best both are explanatory hypotheses in that regard.

        I would say that both evolution and creationism are hypotheses and lack experimental rigour. However, the experimental data can be explained by both worldviews. As stated before, Lenski’s experiment can be interpreted as micro-evolutionary changes due to use of prior information in which case it is indicative of creationism.

        but the people who discover and correct those gaps are not creationists but evolutionists, so evolutionary theory is self-correcting.

        Are creationists even allowed to discover and correct the gaps?

        If creationism and evolution are both at best explanatory hypotheses, evolution is by far the better of the two.

        Given what data?

      • Predictable response, …

        As is your tired claim conflating evolution with gravity a la Eugenie Scott.

        Lastly, most of us biologists would agree …

        Argumentum ad populum again

        I am not a fan of banning, but I guess that ignoring is a form of the ban. adios

        Is that your evolutionary version of a hit and run?

        Thanks for the links though, will look at them later.

      • I’m interested to know, given that macro-evolution is simply micro+micro+micro etc, what process or event you propose which would stop such a chain of micro-events, and thus prevent the one becoming the other.

        Given that you appear to concede that the chain of events does exist, I assume that you do have an explanation/theory/hypothesis concerning what stops it.

      • Macro-evolution has not been shown to be micro + micro + micro. It has been postulated that this is the mechanism. I have stated three limitations to such a process (please read previous comments). Also, it is not for me to propose anything (burden of proof) but for those who claim to be scientific to show experimentally how macro-evolution is possible from accumulated mutations/divergence/etc. Your question then should be to Dr. Laats, Jonny the wannabe ACE fundie = Christian terrorist, Douglas E and said cohort.

  9. I have twice typed a response to Chaz with references, and both have disappeared. Suffice it to say that my teaching and research is in the biological sciences and thus I have reviewed much of the relevant literature. As in all disciplines, it is a reasonable practice to pay attention to the work of the authorities in the field, particularly those with considerable accomplishments who are addressing the difficult questions at the interface of science and religion. Also, there is abundant literature describing the mechanisms for adding new genetic information, and there are also detailed discussions of the macro-micro evolution canard. I am not a fan of banning, but do believe in ignoring. adios

    Reply
  1. A case for banning creationism in schools | Leaving Fundamentalism
  2. Recommended Links III | Ethnic Muse

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