Thursday, November 24, 2005

Creationists cannot teach Biology

P Z Myers is a lecturer in biology at University of Minnesota, Morris he runs a popular website: and has been fighting his way to the head of the militant fundamentalist wing of the Extreme Orthodox Darwinist denomination. He has recently committed himself passionately to the battle for Darwinist orthodoxy in every public school.

Some quotes:

Our only problem is that we aren’t martial enough, or vigorous enough, or loud enough, or angry enough. The only appropriate responses should involve some form of righteous fury, much butt-kicking, and the public firing and humiliation of some teachers, many schoolboard members, and vast numbers of sleazy far-right politicians.

Don't tell me to be dispassionate or less unreasonable about it all because 65% of the American population think creationism should be taught alongside evolution, or that Americans are just responding to common notions of "fairness". That just tells me that we scientists have not been expressing our outrage enough. And yes, we should be outraged that the president of our country panders to theocrats, faith-healers, and snake-oil artists; sitting back and quietly explaining that Bush may be a decent man who is mistaken, while the preachers are stridently condemning all us evilutionists to hell, is a (deleted word) ineffective tactic that has gotten us to this point.
I say, (deleted word) the polite words and careful rhetoric. It's time for scientists to break out the steel-toed boots and brass knuckles, and get out there and hammer on the lunatics and idiots. If you don't care enough for the truth to fight for it, then get out of the way.

For your information, I mentioned that there is a creationist teacher in my local high school. I have not “gone after” that person, because they do not inject that fallacious belief into instruction. If they were teaching that nonsense, then I would be furious, and yes, they would be pushing their incompetence off onto impressionable kids.

He seems to be advocating an orthodoxy test for all public school biology teachers. P Z Myers the developmental biologist is evolving into P C Myers the high school orthodoxy inquisitor. His key definition of scientific competence is a clear rejection of any kind of creationism... I believe in evolution....only evolution...exclusively...fully... with all my heart.... yes evolution is the only creative force in the biological realm... I promise and commit myself never to even as much as think that there may be intelligence involved in the origin of biological complexity.

In other words all biology teachers must behave as if they are atheists in the biology classroom. They must speak like atheists, behave like atheists and think like atheists. Human beings as intelligent designers are fine I assume. The possibility of extraterrestrial intelligent life is fine I suppose but the supreme test of biological pedagogical competence is an absolute rejection of any teleological(here for a purpose) thinking in biology.

I was a biology teacher. I was recognised by many colleagues at all levels as competent. I would however have refused to swear PC Myers oath of allegiance to evolution.

If I was asked whether I thought that the cell was explained by random collision of molecules and atoms in some kind of primitive soup I would have said that I personally think that no primitive soup would ever produce a cell on its own.

If I was asked whether I thought that chance bundling together and modification of other proteins could produce an elegant motor... I would have said and do still say ....nonsence!

If I was asked whether I thought the complexity of developmental pathways to produce complex mulicellular organ systems functioning together in an integrated body plan displaying real beauty developed as a result of random mutation and unguided DNA change I would have said ....No! I think such a theory is mistaken.

I assume that if PC Myers had been my teacher training supervisor he would have recommended that I be rejected for scientific incompetence!

I hope that most parents will be able discern which side of the argument sports the more incompetent observers!

I am happy to back a voucher system of education.... let the darwinists build their own curriculum from scratch. If needs be let them have their own land and their own legal system and form of government. Lets see which sort of education really works. Don't expect me to turn up in a hurry with my voucher to the PC Myers seminary of orthodox Darwinism however!


Anonymous Shawn said...

I enjoyed your blog. I think that we should teach the controversy. Let the kids know both sides, let them think for themselves on which view is correct. This is how "critical thinking" should be approached. If they knew both sides we would find quickly that this country would have a paradine shift toward intelligent design.

5:30 am  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

People like PZ Myers say that there is no scientific controversy to teach...they are determined that any dissent from strict Darwinism must be defined as outside of science. According to their thinking being a scientist requires rejection of objective evidence for design in the universe as one of the basic non-negotiable articles of the scientific creed. For them religious faith cannot rest on objective evidence. They are determined to build a rationality independent of basic personality and intelligence ie coming from nothing by chance or as a random permutation of eternal matter.

8:37 am  
Anonymous Andy Groves said...

People like PZ Myers say that there is no scientific controversy to teach...they are determined that any dissent from strict Darwinism must be defined as outside of science.

What is "strict Darwinism"? Was Stephen Jay Gould a "strict Darwinist"? How about Lynn Margulis? Or George Gaylord Simpson? Or Theodosius Dobzhansky?

I think if you actually read the Pharyngula blog in any detail, you would find that its author is happy for controversies to be taught in biology classes - so long as there is scientific evidence for them. Pointing out the questions that are currently unanswered by any scientific theory is not in itself evidence for an alternative theory.

What PZ Myers is saying - correctly in my opinion - is that creationsism is not science and should not be taught in science classes. By all means teach it in comparative religion classes, or philosophy classes, or history of science classes. But do not pass it off as science.

As it stands, intelligent design is even less use as a scientific theory than good old-fashioned young earth creationism. At least YEC makes predictions about, say, the age of the Earth. In its current form, ID theory makes no claims as to the identity, powers or limitations on the Designer(s), and as a result, any data of any sort could be congruent with a sufficiently inscrutable Designer. As such, it is unfalsifiable.

12:28 am  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...


Thank you for your comment. I will endeavour to respond to your points in the main blog...begining with "strict Darwinists"

1:34 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Pointing out the questions that are currently unanswered by any scientific theory is not in itself evidence for an alternative theory."

This is incorrect.

When two theories are mutually exhaustive and eclusive, then pointing out the problems in one does provide evidence for the other.

We have two views on the table here. One (undirected evolution--UE) says that there was no intelligence involved in evolution. The other (ID) says that intellifgence was involved at least somewhere.

UE and ID are mutually exclusive and exhaustive.

Therefore difficulties in UE will provide support for ID --- however much Darwinists insist that these are nothing more than "currently unanswered" questions.

Pointing out difficulties in uE is therefore a perfectly legitimate argumentative strategy for IDists to take.

2:23 am  
Anonymous Shawn said...

There is a controversy...or what is all the fuss about? I do see your point in saying about scientist in general. They are taught to exlude any explaination that is not natural.
I do agree that IDers have a lagitamate stradegy. It is science by the way. Andy, you should really check out some of the science they actually do. Like knockout find irreducable complexity.

6:52 am  

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