Oct 08 2013

Kansas Citizens Sue to Reject Science

There’s some good news and some bad news. The good news is that 7 states have adopted the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), including Kansas. These science standards were developed by The National Research Council, the National Science Teachers Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Achieve, and are a comprehensive and coordinated k-12 science curriculum.

This is an excellent attempt to provide a consistent high standard across the 50 states. The states each adopt their own science standards, with most not doing a great job. This is one area where it is probably not necessary to reinvent the wheel 50 times – science is generally a consensus-building exercise, and at the k-12 level students should be learning basic science that is all well-established. I think it is a great idea to have a consortium of scientific organizations create standards that states can then adopt, without having to duplicate the work themselves.

It is also heartening that Kansas is one of the first seven states to adopt the standards. Frankly, they can use it.

Now for the bad news – a group of Kansas parents have sued the board of education for adopting these standards. Here is the complaint:

The Plaintiffs, consisting of students, parents and Kansas resident taxpayers, and a representative organization, complain that the adoption by the Defendant State Board of Education on June 11, 2013 of Next Generation Science Standards, dated April 2013 (the Standards; http://www.nextgenscience.org/) and the related Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts and Core Ideas, (2012;
(http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=13165#), incorporated therein by reference (the Framework” with the Framework and Standards referred to herein as the “F&S”) will have the effect of causing Kansas public schools to establish and endorse a non-theistic religious worldview (the “Worldview”) in violation of the Establishment, Free Exercise, and Speech Clauses of the First Amendment, and the Equal Protection Clauses of the 14th Amendment.

This is an old gambit on the part of creationists. On the one hand, creationists collectively have been very creative in coming up with new ways to twist logic and reality, to deny the science of evolution, and, when necessary, science in general. This is why deconstructing creationist arguments is an excellent exercise in critical thinking.

On the other hand, creationists then use their arguments over and over again, no matter how many times they have been demolished (even by legal precedent). Of course, if they abandoned rejected arguments, they would have nothing to say.

The notion that science is a religion because it promotes a non-theistic world view is absurd. Worse, this argument has already been picked clean by philosophers. There is no meat left on these bones.

Science does not require non-theism. It does not even require naturalism. Science merely proceeds as if the world is naturalistic, that there is cause and effect and nothing magical that violates cause and effect. This is called methodological naturalism – science is a set of methods that work within a naturalistic framework of cause and effect.

Science is officially agnostic, however, toward any deeper philosophical conclusions about whether or not anything supernatural actual exists. It simply relegates such questions outside the sphere of science.

This does not mean that philosophers cannot rely on empirical evidence and scientific notions to argue for a naturalistic universe. That is my personal belief – the simplest explanation for why we cannot know about anything supernatural, and why science works within the assumption of naturalism, is because naturalism is actually true. But science does not require that belief.

Science only requires that its methods follow the assumption of naturalism. This is not an arbitrary choice. It is an absolute necessity. The methods of science simply do not work without the “as if” naturalistic assumption.

What I have just outlined is also not philosophically controversial. It is long settled. You can’t have supernaturalism in your science.

None of this, however, has stopped creationists from bringing up the argument, over and over again, that science (or evolution, or whatever science they don’t like) is a non-theistic religion. They will try this gambit any chance they get, and it will always be rejected. Religion is a set of beliefs. Science is a set of methods that does not require any specific belief, only a necessary starting point that you don’t have to actually believe in.

I predict the federal district court where the complaint was filed will quickly see through the nonsense and reject the claim.

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119 responses so far

119 Responses to “Kansas Citizens Sue to Reject Science”

  1. John Piereton 08 Oct 2013 at 9:38 am

    Tim Sandefur has a good post at The Panda’s Thumb about why this is likely to fail in the courts:

    http://pandasthumb.org/archives/2013/10/a-right-not-to.html

    Another reason that science is not a religion is that its rules are created by and its methods are engaged in by people of many different beliefs, including theists and non-theists and every other theology/philosophy. Not only is that a damper on the misuse of science to address religious questions, but what religion allows non-believers to participate in formulating its tenets?

  2. oldmanjenkinson 08 Oct 2013 at 9:46 am

    The litmus test is the Kitzmiller vs Dover Area School District. This case will fail the litmus test. It is sad that states/school districts/the courts have to keep revisiting this “dead horse” issue. What a waste of tax payer dollars. Creationists just do not see that they (creationists) cannot separate their beliefs from their “science.” And they (creationists) also want to push their religion on others with this bollocks. That’s why I donate regularly to the NCSE and Americans United.

  3. Steven Novellaon 08 Oct 2013 at 10:10 am

    It’s my understanding (not a lawyer) that when a point is settled law, with clear precedence, a lawyer can file for immediate judgement on that basis. In other words, a judge can throw out the case on the basis that a legal precedent has already answered this question and it does not need to be tried again.

    Any law experts feel free to correct me. Plus, we’ll see what happens in this case.

  4. ConspicuousCarlon 08 Oct 2013 at 1:11 pm

    Well at least they are back to admitting that creationism is religion and not just an opposing scientific point of view.

  5. steve12on 08 Oct 2013 at 1:19 pm

    I’m also not lawyer, but I think if it’s in state court the precedent has to have been set in that state for immediate judgement.

    I’m sure that I’m missing something….

    I would like to see these people put their $ where their yaps are. Live w/o the fruits of science. No medicine, no cars, no smart phones, no meth etc. If science is a religion – don’t practice it.

  6. Steven Novellaon 08 Oct 2013 at 1:47 pm

    This case is brought to a federal district court, not state, so any federal precedent should be good (like Kitzmiller)

  7. BillyJoe7on 08 Oct 2013 at 5:03 pm

    “Science is officially agnostic, however, toward any deeper philosophical conclusions about whether or not anything supernatural actual exists. It simply relegates such questions outside the sphere of science”

    To be clear, only supernatural claims that have no natural consequences are outside the sphere of science. In other words, the deistic god is outside the sphere of science and that’s about it.

  8. Steven Novellaon 08 Oct 2013 at 5:16 pm

    BillJoe7 – correct, but this requires more explanation also. I would add non-falsifiable claims are also outside the realm of science. You could say, God caused evolution to unfold the way it did. That has naturalistic consequences in a way, but is completely non-falsifiable, therefore outside of science. Or – God made the universe 5 minutes ago to appear as if it were 13.4 billion years old.

    The supernatural aspect of any idea cannot be falsified by science, and simply does not work with scientific methods.

  9. svetbekon 08 Oct 2013 at 10:38 pm

    Years ago I worked as a clerk to a federal trial court judge. Ahh, to be the clerk who pens this opinion! Here’s my proposed draft: “The plaintiffs’ counts 1 through 4 boil down to a claim that the teaching of science in public schools violates their constitutional rights. This Court disagrees. As held repeatedly by the US Supreme Court (see __________, __________, and _________), and the Appellate Courts (see _____, _____, and _____), the teaching of science in public schools is consistent with the US Constitution and its various laws. Case is dismissed.” Freedom From Religion Foundation legal staff should offer assistance to the Kansas Board of Education free of charge. Normally you see creationist government officials defending pseudoscience thereby wasting taxpayer money. Here, the government is doing the right thing yet is forced to squander taxpayer money to fight a frivolous lawsuit.

  10. Nitpickingon 09 Oct 2013 at 7:19 am

    Federal precedents only bind courts “below” the ruling court. Kitzmiller was not appealed, so it only binds the district in which it was issued.

    However, it’s so lucid, well-argued, and well-written a decision that it will influence other courts.

  11. evhantheinfidelon 09 Oct 2013 at 12:01 pm

    I live in Kansas and this bums me out. I must say, though, that I live in a small town, and the science education is actually pretty good, even compared to other states. I think a major contributor is the fact that we have good teachers-none of them water down evolution, and all are willing to either answer questions about how we know something or admit when they don’t know. We also learned about theories, models and hypotheses. We’re still kind of stuck in a Popperian way of inductive reasoning, but that’s a lot better than what I’ve heard about from other places in the state. I wonder if it’s because my town is close to Lawrence, a liberal haven and university town. Ah, well, we shall see about this state…

  12. PharmD28on 09 Oct 2013 at 12:25 pm

    “Science is officially agnostic, however, toward any deeper philosophical conclusions”

    I know this is semantics and what not….but when I read this, I thought about how people *could* read into this…

    So there is science, and then there are pursuits that look “deeper”…..

    Perhaps these other speculations about matters that are unfalsifiable are not “deep”….perhaps they are so flimsy and speculative that they are non-sense….

    Could we think of a way of saying this to not given these sorts of speculations the appearance of such greater importance or depth than science?

    Regarding the case of mention…I would think this will very quickly get shot down….or at least I would hope it will.

    “Atheism is a religion like abstinence is a sex position”

  13. The Other John Mcon 09 Oct 2013 at 12:26 pm

    “Atheism is a religion like abstinence is a sex position”

    ha!

    “Atheism is a religion like not playing football is a sport”

  14. sonicon 09 Oct 2013 at 4:12 pm

    It seems the lawsuit is an attempt to take out the religious, faith based claims from the curriculum.

    The relevant precedent includes-
    “Secular humanism is religious for first amendment purposes because it makes statements based on faith-assumptions.”
    (Smith v. Board of School Comm’ers… S.D. Ala. 1987.)

    This is relevant because ‘secular humanism’; is a religion that 1) deny the supernatural, 2) claims life arises via an unguided process… and other faith based proposals.

    I have not seen the Standards, but the complaint makes a fairly compelling case that the Standards do in fact promote faith based answers to what are called ‘religious questions’ in the law.

    From the complaint–
    “The Orthodoxy is an atheistic faith-based doctrine that has been candidly explained by Richard Lewontin, a prominent geneticist and evolutionary biologist, as follows:
    “Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”
    [Richard Lewontin, Billions and Billions of Demons 44 N.Y. REV. OF BOOKS 31 (Jan. 9, 1997) ...] ”

    Now all the comments here seem to agree– science begins with a prior commitment (Dr. N. seems to think this is a requirement). The students should be informed of this. Apparently the standards don’t inform the students of this important fact.

    In other words- the complaint is that these standards are an attempt to teach this religion in the schools.
    I think they have a good point–

    Section VII ‘Prayers For Relief’ lays out the remedies being requested.
    None of them involve not teaching science — rather they involve disclosing the facts regarding certain questions and attempts to remove faith based assertions about origins without labeling them as such and acknowledging other faith based explanations exist.

    Seems like it might make an interesting trial.
    I wonder if it will be heard–

  15. BillyJoe7on 09 Oct 2013 at 4:15 pm

    Steven Novella,

    “You could say, God caused evolution to unfold the way it did…Or – God made the universe 5 minutes ago to appear as if it were 13.4 billion years old”

    Perhaps, instead of “the deistic god”, I should have said “deistic gods” are outside the sphere of science. (;

  16. steve12on 09 Oct 2013 at 4:28 pm

    “This is relevant because ‘secular humanism’; is a religion that 1) deny the supernatural, 2) claims life arises via an unguided process… and other faith based proposals.”

    so long as faith and evidence are tantamount, you’re right.

    Science is not a religion because it makes assumptions or has axioms.

    Questioning the assumption of naturalism is like bring up solopcism. It seems really pithy for about 7 seconds until you realize that the discussion is now over. Science is iteratively applying logic and observation. That becomes impossible w/o naturalism because logic becomes impossible w/o naturalism.

  17. BillyJoe7on 09 Oct 2013 at 5:20 pm

    sonic,

    “This is relevant because ‘secular humanism’; is a religion that 1) deny the supernatural, 2) claims life arises via an unguided process… and other faith based proposals”

    Firstly, where in the science curriculum is “secular humanism” inserted into the course?

    Secondly, secular humanism does not deny the supernatural. Secular humanism is an approach to ethics based on evidence from the natural world about what works and what doesn’t work to improve the human condition. It ignores the supernatural because it has no evidence base. Moreover, the “morals” contained in religious texts is always dogmatic, often contradictory, and mostly serves to degrade the human condition. Some parts of religious texts are worthy of consideration and hence do find their way into secular humanism.

    Thirdly, the evidence is consistent with life arising via unguided processes, but this in no way shapes secular humanism. There is no evidence for the existence of a “supernatural guide” and hence no reason to admit it into an evidence based system of ethics.

    Also, nice quote from Richard Lewontin.
    A pity that Steven Novella’s post has already deconstructed it.
    How about replying to SN yourself, instead of simply providing an unsubstantiated opinion from someone else.

    But I guess we are back on the merry-go-round.

  18. Hosson 09 Oct 2013 at 5:39 pm

    Sonic
    “It seems the lawsuit is an attempt to take out the religious, faith based claims from the curriculum.”

    There are no religious, faith based claims in the curriculum. But if one or a few managed to get through, then an appropriate action should be taken to remove or edit the content.

    “In other words- the complaint is that these standards are an attempt to teach this religion in the schools.
    I think they have a good point–”

    “Section VII ‘Prayers For Relief’ lays out the remedies being requested.
    None of them involve not teaching science — rather they involve disclosing the facts regarding certain questions and attempts to remove faith based assertions about origins without labeling them as such and acknowledging other faith based explanations exist.”

    ‘c. In the alternative to the relief requested under the preceding paragraph b. an injunction prohibiting the implementation of those provisions of the F&S that seek to teach about the origin, nature and development of the cosmos and of life on earth’ – Section VII Prayers For Relief c

    This complaint is an attempt at using the legal system and semantic tricks to force the education system to undermine/stop teaching about the origin, nature and development of the cosmos and of life on earth.

    ‘(g) That an evidence-based teleological alternative competes with the materialistic explanations provided by the Orthodoxy, which is an inference to an intelligent rather than a material cause for a pattern that exhibits (i) purpose or function, (ii) a sequence or arrangement of elements that is not due to physical or chemical necessity, and (iii) where the elements of the pattern necessary to its function are too numerous or complex to be plausibly explained by chance or stochastic processes.’ – Section VII Prayers For Relief c (2) (g)

    See, they also want to teach creationism violating constitutional protections for students.

    What this complaint is attempting to do is disgusting and extremely intellectually dishonest.

  19. locutusbrgon 09 Oct 2013 at 10:51 pm

    You cannot vote on the nature of reality.

  20. Davdoodleson 11 Oct 2013 at 2:37 am

    If they really believe that science is a “religion”, then presumably its trappings are all pagan idols, and must be similarly eschewed.

    Cars, houses, metals, textiles, buildings, farmed animals and plants, computers, medicine, numbers, toothbrushes, hygiene, clean drinking water, fire, and any activity involving sanitation.

    But there’s no hypocrite like a religious hypocrite.
    .

  21. sonicon 11 Oct 2013 at 10:55 am

    steve12-
    To the extent a conclusion depends on an assumption that must not be questioned and can not be proved– that conclusion can be said to be ‘faith based’- correct?

    BillyJoe7-
    ‘secular humanism’ doesn’t have to show up in the curriculum.
    The point is that the courts have ruled that “X is religious for first amendment purposes because it makes statements based on faith-assumptions.”
    So if the book contains statements that are based on faith assumptions– those statements can be seen as religious in nature.
    I don’t know what’s in the books.

    Hoss-
    I haven’t seen the curriculum so I can’t say if there are faith based statements in it or not.
    I agree- if there are, then it would be appropriate to take them out.
    I think the section you quote about the other remedies (basically teaching creationism or whatever) indicates the removal of the faith based material (if there is any) would be the way to go.

    Davdoodles-
    I don’t think anyone has claimed science is a religion.
    They are claiming the book(s) in question contain statements that are religious in that they are based on faith assumptions.
    I think the judge would have to determine which, if any, statements are religious according to the law, and then determine the remedy for the situation.

  22. steve12on 11 Oct 2013 at 11:06 am

    “To the extent a conclusion depends on an assumption that must not be questioned and can not be proved– that conclusion can be said to be ‘faith based’- correct?”

    This means every human endeavor, including mathematics, is faith based, and therefor a religion, because sooner or later everything rests on some axiom! It’s a sufficiently promiscuous definition of religion to render the term completely meaningless.

  23. steve12on 11 Oct 2013 at 11:07 am

    “I haven’t seen the curriculum so I can’t say if there are faith based statements in it or not.”

    What? There ARE faith based statements by your own framing of the issue.

    YOu should stop being semantically coy and engage in a good-faith discussion.

  24. Hosson 11 Oct 2013 at 11:39 am

    “8. The orthodoxy, called methodological naturalism or scientific materialism, holds that explanations of the cause and nature of natural phenomena may only use natural, material or mechanistic causes, and must assume that, supernatural and teleological or design conceptions of nature are invalid (the “Orthodoxy”).
    9. The Orthodoxy is an atheistic faith-based doctrine…” – II. BACKGROUND

    The lawsuit is claiming the basic framework of science is a faith-based doctrine(religious). The lawsuit then goes on to make the argument that any part of science that conflicts with the plaintiffs religion shouldn’t be taught because – hey, science is based on religious assumption and shouldn’t be used to indoctrinate our children….so remove evolution or equate our religious position to that of science.

    “27. Plaintiffs Carl and Mary Angela Reimer, are residents of Meade, Kansas, are
    parents of BR, age 5, HR, age 8, BR, age 9 and NR, age 11, who are enrolled in Kansas public 9
    schools, and are Christian parents who seek to instill in their children a belief that life is a creation made for a purpose, that does not end on death and is not simply a purposeless occurrence that is the product of an unguided evolutionary process.
    28. Plaintiffs BR, HR, BR and NR seek to enforce their rights to not be indoctrinated by Kansas public schools to accept the materialistic/atheistic religious Worldview which the F&S seek to establish, which rights are being asserted herein on their behalf by their father and mother and next friend, Carl and Mary Angela Reimer.” – III. THE PARTIES (All the plaintiffs have similar complaints)

  25. sonicon 11 Oct 2013 at 3:17 pm

    steve12-
    The courts have made many rulings where religion is involved.
    And yes, it does seem that this includes many things not ordinarily thought of as religion as religion. That’s one of the interesting aspects of the complaint- as far as I can tell.

    I haven’t seen the materials- so I’m not sure what the exact materials this is being applied to. I am just looking at the complaint and noticing how it’s been framed for the courts.
    They are complaining about ‘faith based statements’ not ‘science’, although there does seem to be an overlap as far as the courts previous rulings are concerned.

    Hoss-
    Exactly– except I don’t think they want to equate their religion to science.
    Perhaps ‘contrast’– but that’s nit pick.

  26. steve12on 11 Oct 2013 at 3:26 pm

    Sonic

    You said:
    “This is relevant because ‘secular humanism’; is a religion that 1) deny the supernatural, 2) claims life arises via an unguided process… and other faith based proposals.”

    Yes or no: by your definition of religion, isn’t every single aspect of human endeavor a religion?

  27. sonicon 11 Oct 2013 at 4:35 pm

    steve12-
    I was quoting a court ruling about secular humanism.

    There are numerous rulings– I don’t know what they add up to– but this case seems to be testing certain aspects of the previous rulings.
    I don’t know what would happen if the case was actually heard.

    To answer your question– yes and no.

    To clarify- I think religion serves a purpose in a person’s life. Anything that serves that purpose can be seen as that person’s religion. (I believe this is similar to what some of the courts have ruled.)

    But nothing has to be religion. There is nothing inherently religious about the bible, for example, it could be read as a story book if one wanted to.
    Is the story of Christ religious? How about the recounting of an NDE? These things could be seen as religious or not– depends on the person.

    On the other hand– I went to school at Berkeley.
    I can take you to where mathematics is a religion.

    Clear as mud?

  28. BillyJoe7on 11 Oct 2013 at 4:47 pm

    sonic,

    It seems everyone is confused by what you’re trying to say.
    I think you need to be more explicit.
    It might help to answer the following questions:

    Is science faith based?
    Is evolution faith based?
    If so, what exactly is it about science and evolution that is based in faith?

    Because most of us do not see science or evolution as faith based.
    Certainly not in the way that the world’s religions are faith based.
    Science has its underlying assumptions, but the very success of science is evidence that those assumptions are correct. Throughout the whole 400 year history of science its assumptions could have been proven wrong, but it hasn’t happened.
    On the other hand, religion can never be disproven in the eyes of its adherents. Adam and Eve could not have coexisted, yet that has made not a jot of difference to the faith of Christians all over the world.
    That’s a big difference between what you might call the “faith” basis of science and the faith basis of the world’s religions.

    As I say, we don’t call it “faith”, we all it an assumption that has been supported by 400 years of accumulated evidence and that would have been dropped by just one piece of disconfirming evidence. By contrast, the supernatural assumption has experienced 400 years of disconfirming evidence, but it remains the unshakeable basis of most of the world’s religions.

  29. steve12on 11 Oct 2013 at 5:08 pm

    This was a quote from the complaint?

    “This is relevant because ‘secular humanism’; is a religion that 1) deny the supernatural, 2) claims life arises via an unguided process… and other faith based proposals.”

    Moreover, you seemed to be equating the assumptions of religions like Christianity with the assumption of naturalism. Do you think this is the case?

  30. Davdoodleson 12 Oct 2013 at 7:19 am

    “Faith” is a fairly obvious weasel word.

    Religious folk claim to have “faith” that their favored supernatural entity conjured up the world. And, that is their final conclusion on the matter, case closed. In this sense “faith” means an inviolate, fixed, final belief, firmly held despite an absence of evidence, or indeed despite the presence of compelling counter-evidence.

    If (and I mean if) science rests on “faith”, first it is not faith that a supernatural force is/was at work. There is no special pleading involved.

    Second, science asserts only an interlocutory conclusion that some natural explanation accounts for the existence of the universe and the things in it. Religious faith is “final”.

    Third, the scientific position is held because all the available, verifiable, observable evidence points unerringly in that direction. Not because a bunch of old men, clutching an old book incanted, without evidence, that mountains of available evidence are all wrong.

    It is simply not correct to claim that these “faiths” are analogs, simply because the word “faith” is flexible enough to mean “a belief in a state of affairs”.
    .

  31. ccbowerson 12 Oct 2013 at 9:29 am

    “It is simply not correct to claim that these ‘faiths’ are analogs, simply because the word “faith” is flexible enough to mean ‘a belief in a state of affairs.’”

    It’s a very obvious use of equivocation, i.e. using 2 different meanings of the word in order to create a false equivalence. Well, maybe it’s not so obvious to everyone, since this seems to be a fairly common argument used. Equivocation is an informal logical fallacy that seems convincing when the conclusion is desirable to the person, but seems obviously flawed to those who disagree with that conclusion.

    Here is an even more obvious use of equivocation: A sign says “Fine for parking here.” Because the sign said it was fine, he parked there.

  32. sonicon 12 Oct 2013 at 3:46 pm

    I don’t dislike religion.
    I have no hatred of god.
    The words ‘religion’ and ‘religious’ are not derogatory in anyway when I use them.
    Perhaps this is a source of misunderstanding.

    I would say that ‘a gift from god’ is as good as it gets, for example.

    Perhaps some of this is an accident of my upbringing–

    When I was a teenager I had friends who went to church and friends who didn’t (I didn’t).

    The one’s who went to church– we would play baseball and basketball and talk about what we were studying at school and how pretty some girl was– stuff like that.

    The friends who didn’t go to church were different. They liked to maim other people. They would invite me to a ‘queer bashing’ where they would get some guy on the ground and beat him to death. They would show me how to use various tools to injure or kill. They would tell me how to rob and how to get money from people who didn’t want to give it to me.
    If I mentioned a girl I thought was pretty– they would offer to hold her down while I raped her.

    The church goers would talk to me about the joy of helping others and seeing a smile come to someone’s face.

    The non-church goers would talk to me about the joy of watching someone they had beaten bleed to death in an alleyway as they pleaded and begged for mercy.

    I didn’t go to church and I didn’t go to the ‘queer bashing’ either.
    Somehow I managed to get along with everyone just fine.

    Perhaps this helps explain why if it turns out that I think something is religious, or the a subject can be thought of as a religion– I don’t mean anything bad by it.

    OK?

    steve12-
    The part about secular humanism being a religion is a quote from the supreme court ruling Torcaso v. Watkins I believe. I think I got that from the complaint.
    Perhaps I know it from somewhere else and was reminded of it. I am filled with random bits of information. :-)

    I’m not sure it applies- perhaps other courts have ruled differently– perhaps it is wrong. Perhaps that is part of what the new ruling will get into- I’m not a legal analyst. I’m pretty sure there is a lot of legal wrangling over this issue over time– I believe the courts have viewed the definition of religion rather broadly.

    I wouldn’t equate the assumptions of any two religions with each other or with naturalism (unless the assumptions were the same).

    BillyJoe7-
    I would like to discuss aspects of the questions you asked, but I’m afraid my statements will be extremely offensive.
    I have tried to explain a bit about why I don’t think the word ‘religion’ is derogatory and why it is that I might actually be saying something quite nice about someone when I say he is religious.

    If you can agree that it is possible to use these words in the manner I mean them– I would really like to get further into this.

    So is it OK if I use the word ‘religion’ to mean something that might be good?

  33. ccbowerson 12 Oct 2013 at 4:27 pm

    “They would invite me to a ‘queer bashing’ where they would get some guy on the ground and beat him to death.”

    So in your experience it was the nonreligious people who had a problem with homosexuality? You have done a good job demonstrating that extrapolating from one’s personal experiences with regards to subgroups of people is a dangerous thing. For the same reasons that anectdotes are often meaningless, using your personal experiences with small groups of people to help determine your worldview can lead to serious problems. In your example it was religious versus non religious people, and I hope you haven’t done the same type of extrapolation for people of various skin colors.

  34. Davdoodleson 13 Oct 2013 at 6:19 am

    “Somehow I managed to get along with everyone just fine.”

    Interesting. I’m sure your rapist, serial thrill-killer friends were perfectly nice fellows.
    .

  35. BillyJoe7on 13 Oct 2013 at 7:45 am

    sonic,

    “I would like to discuss aspects of the questions you asked, but I’m afraid my statements will be extremely offensive”

    I have a feeling they’re going to be more wrong than offensive. (;

    “I have tried to explain a bit about why I don’t think the word ‘religion’ is derogatory and why it is that I might actually be saying something quite nice about someone when I say he is religious”

    Oh, you mean like my father’s political friend’s devoutly religious son?
    He was a GP and now a priest and an extremely pleasant fellow. He looked at you when you spoke and listened to what you said, spoke gently and with genuine interest and tried his best to solve your problems (this is second hand. I’ve never had any medical problems myself).
    Except when you mentioned the Labor Party, abortion, or gays…though he did offer support to a priest convicted of molesting young boys in his parish.

    “If you can agree that it is possible to use these words in the manner I mean them– I would really like to get further into this”

    Yes, I’ll put the Labor Party, abortion, gays, and those unfortunate young boys aside for a moment and use my father’s political friend’s devoutly religious son as an example

    “So is it OK if I use the word ‘religion’ to mean something that might be good?”

    Go right ahead.
    Seriously, go ahead…

  36. sonicon 13 Oct 2013 at 10:56 pm

    ccbowers-
    No, in my experience many people have a problem with homosexuality- believers as well as non-believers- men, women, tall, short, white, black… and everything in between- all kinds of people have problems with homosexuals.

    It seems you may have put some information into what I said that wasn’t there.

    I lived in San Francisco for a while– one of my business partner’s was homosexual. Many of our clients where homosexual. Lots of people give homosexuals grief. I’ve seen it.

    Funny story– One of the employees invites me to hear her sing at some club. First time I go– It was kind of hard to find the place– turns out it was in a basement. Once inside I was surprised– there were a lot of people there waiting to here her sing. I didn’t know she had such a following. As I’m looking around I notice I’m the only guy there. And now some of the women are pointing at me– here come a couple bull dykes– they are asking me if I’m lost– they are telling me this isn’t my kind of place …perhaps I need to be escorted out… suddenly my friend comes on stage and she says–
    “He’s with me.”
    All of a sudden I’m in-
    “You know her? Oh. Who are you?” Best buddies– it’s OK I’m male all of a sudden. Whew!

    I don’t want to let my personal experiences color my judgement too much– but from what I’ve seen there is no shortage of beautiful homosexual women. And being the friend of the star of the show isn’t a bad thing, either.

    The singer- she isn’t a homosexual anymore.
    Now he’s a transgender.

    Wait—
    I am trying to explain how it is that I might use the words ‘religious’ and ‘religion’ in a manner that isn’t derogatory and you want to talk about homosexuality?

    Well, I guess I don’t mean anything derogatory when I use that word either.

    You want to talk skin color?
    My skin has quite a few colors. How about yours?

  37. sonicon 14 Oct 2013 at 9:44 am

    BillyJoe7-
    You ask– is science a religion?

    Here is a quote–
    “We take the side of the church in spite of the patent absurdity of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the religious community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment to God.”

    That’s a religious commitment- isn’t it?

    Now see if you can find that in the quote from Lewontin.
    Hint- I just changed a three words– church for science, religious for scientific and God for materialism.

    I would say Lewontin’s attitude about the correctness of his premise is what is generally refered to as a ‘religious commitment’. Wouldn’t you?

    When he uses the word ‘we’– he might be using the ‘royal we’, or he might be referring to the people he has worked with over his career.
    Have you ever looked at what he’s worked on and who he’s worked with?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Lewontin

    I don’t think what he said is true of all scientists, or that it is a requirement to be a scientist.
    I don’t think being a christian is a requirement for being a biblical scholar either.

    But he’s the kind of guy who is going to stick with it, no matter how bleak the current situation looks, he’s going to continue to look to solve the problems in a particular manner. Is there something wrong with that?
    I’m glad people have commitments like that to some things– I’m also glad that not everyone has that commitment to the same things.

    I believe it is the pool of variation that allows for the evolution to occur, correct?

    There is a certain emotional attachment that a person seems to get with the thing he feels solves his problems. In particular there seems to be a certain love for the thing that will ultimately answer everything.

    I’m not sure there is a difference in the love one feels for Christianity and the love one feels for Science. It’s the same love– right?

    I think it is easy to see how science isn’t a religion as well (it’s a sliding scale)–

    Science at the base is experiment and results of experiments. This is not religion.

    From that data, various logical operations are used to analyze and interpret that data. As one uses more and more logic- and leaves the evidence behind– the conclusions one comes to depend more and more on the premises of the logic being used.
    This is not a controversial concept, I don’t think.

    At some point the inferential trail can get long enough that what one concludes depends more on the premise than the data.
    Just look at the various interpretations of quantum mechanics. Which one you find appealing depends utterly on what basic premise you bring to the party. They all work according to the math and the experiments–

    So to me, science becomes more and more like a religion the further one gets from the actual experimental data.

    You say you prefer naturalism because it gets results.
    That’s an excellent reason to like it.

    But someone might ask– “What is the purpose of the universe?”
    When you answer, “There isn’t one,” I can understand the person who asked the question thinking– “For all that success they got the only question that really matters completely wrong.”

    I’m working on a proposal of how to teach evolution without upsetting any religious convictions. Want to shoot it down for me?

  38. ccbowerson 14 Oct 2013 at 10:48 am

    “I’m not sure there is a difference in the love one feels for Christianity and the love one feels for Science. It’s the same love– right?”

    Non sequitur. What someone feels for something should not be imposed on that thing. By doing so in this example you’ve created a false equivalence, which seems to be your favorite fallacy.

    “But someone might ask– ‘What is the purpose of the universe?’
    When you answer, ‘There isn’t one,’ I can understand the person who asked the question thinking– ‘For all that success they got the only question that really matters completely wrong.’”

    Notice that you’ve changed the ‘you’ in the first sentence to a ‘they’ in the second sentence. If the use of ‘you’ in the first sentence is correct, the use of ‘they’ in the second sentence is incorrect. Here is why: Purpose is a human construct, and a given person’s answer to that question is just that- That person’s answer in that moment in time.

    The most complete answer to that question about purpose is that we all create our own purposes, but here are the ones that people identify with the most (then provide examples if necessary). Sure, that may not be satisfying to those who want a black-and-white answer, but the alternatives are fairy tales we tell ourselves, and you have to look elsewhere for that.

  39. steve12on 14 Oct 2013 at 2:54 pm

    Sonic:

    Yes or no: by your definition of religion, isn’t every single aspect of human endeavor a religion?

  40. sonicon 14 Oct 2013 at 4:41 pm

    steve12-
    The question doesn’t really have a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer, unfortunately.

    I would say that it is possible for just about any endeavor to become a religion.
    On the flip side– I’m not sure any endeavor has to be a religion.

    It has to do with the person doing the thing.

    Is eating peyote a religious activity? Maybe, maybe not… depends on the person doing it – right?

    If I pray for something am I doing a scientific act or a religious one?
    What if I’m part of an experiment attempting to determine the effectiveness of the prayer? Might I be doing both?

    Can football be a religion?
    Ever been to Texas?

  41. steve12on 15 Oct 2013 at 12:03 pm

    Sonic:

    Do YOU think science is a religion if it makes a naturalistic assumption. To be clear, I don’t want to know what the lawsuit says. I want you to tell me what YOU think.

  42. sonicon 15 Oct 2013 at 4:35 pm

    steve12-
    I think we are having a problem of definition-

    For me religion is “an interest, a belief, or an activity that is very important to a person or group”; “a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith”
    I get that from Webster’s.

    I think it is clear that ‘science’ is a religion for some based on that definition.
    I use this broad definition because it seems to fit the situation.

    Tell me what you mean by religion, and I’ll tell you to what extent science is one.

  43. steve12on 15 Oct 2013 at 4:46 pm

    “Religion” requires irrational and dogmatic faith or belief in something. so science is by no stretch a religion.

  44. Hosson 15 Oct 2013 at 5:33 pm

    Science is not a religion, but the interest, belief, or practicing of science by an individual or group, which sees it as important, could be classified as a religion.

    The a major problem in theist/creationism apologetics using the equivocation fallacy to say that science is basically the same as their theistic religion/belief, which is what is happening in the lawsuit.

  45. BillyJoe7on 15 Oct 2013 at 11:52 pm

    Ii had a long reply ready last night but, when I submitted it, a message came up that said “you must be logged on to comment” and my comment disappeared!
    Whereupon I went to bed.

    Anyway…

    “Tell me what you mean by religion, and I’ll tell you to what extent science is one”

    I asked if science is faith-based, so we need a definition of faith, not religion.
    Faith is a belief not based on evidence or even contrary to the evidence.
    By that definition, science is not faith based.

  46. sonicon 16 Oct 2013 at 10:13 am

    steve12-
    Sounds like what Lewontin describes scientists having towards materialism.

    Hoss-
    I don’t think anyone is saying that his belief is basically the same as science.
    Better than science, perhaps different, but not the same. That’s why they want to teach each– they aren’t the same.
    And note the beliefs they are talking about– things like ultimate cause and what happens after one dies.
    Not exactly experimentally testable problems given our current knowledge.

    BillyJoe7-
    Here’s one from Max Planck-
    “Anybody who has been seriously engaged in scientific work of any kind realizes that over the entrance to the gates of the temple of science are written the words: Ye must have faith. It is a quality which the scientist cannot dispense with.”

    I don’t think he knew Lewontin. Apparently the ‘we’ in the quote above isn’t the ‘royal we’. That’s good to clear up.
    I think Lewontin describes faith in action rather beautifully.
    Of course he is describing scientists in action–

    Science is not faith based. But the existence of ‘dark matter’ is.
    See, ‘dark matter’ is a good hypothesis, but the belief it exists is part of a faith.

    Don’t you think?

  47. steve12on 16 Oct 2013 at 11:27 am

    Sonic:

    What? What do you think again? I warned that I could be a prick, so…..

    I think you’d be better off just making simple, statements declaring what you think and why. Per the usual, your rhetorical dance has confused me.

    If you think that science is just another epistemological system because of naturalism, say it and defend it w/o this “clear as mud?” nonsense.

  48. Hosson 16 Oct 2013 at 11:42 am

    Sonic

    What do you think should be the outcome of the lawsuit?

    I’m curious what you think about teaching certain tenants of the theistic philosophy/ideology accepted by the majority in a science class – as a reminder, this is a lawsuit about science standards. I could understand the philosophy of science being taught in a science class but not a theistic interpretation of science, which is arrived at through non-scientific means. At most, I could see the history of science delving into the effect religion has had on science(huge potential for abuse), but that is the extent I would be willing to allow this “stuff” into the science classroom, unless there is another acceptable application that doesn’t undermine science or infringes on individual rights that I’m currently unaware of.

  49. sonicon 16 Oct 2013 at 4:46 pm

    steve12-
    I think it is possible to teach science without the parents complaining it is having “the effect of causing Kansas public schools to establish and endorse a non-theistic religious worldview (the “Worldview”) in violation of the Establishment, Free Exercise, and Speech Clauses of the First Amendment, and the Equal Protection Clauses of the 14th Amendment.”

    And I think it is possible to teach it in such a way that it does ‘establish and endorse a non-theistic religious worldview…’

    Hoss-
    For me the ideal outcome would be for the parents and the educators to get together and with complete understanding and respect for each other work out what and how to teach the kids so that everyone can be happy.
    I think this is possible to the extent that everyone involved can understand and respect each other.

    I doubt that will be the outcome.

    What I see is a complete lack of understanding and calls for ‘no respect’.
    What will probably happen is the name calling will escalate- the ‘haters’ against the ‘creationists’ or some such hogwash.
    And the insanity that seems to come anytime one puts humans into an ‘us against them’ type situation will continue.

    I have ideas about how to teach any subject without offending someone’s religious beliefs– I have to do it on a regular basis.

    Perhaps we could discuss those.

  50. BillyJoe7on 16 Oct 2013 at 4:58 pm

    sonic,

    I don’t care what Lewontin or Planck said.
    They could be as wrong as your are, they could be right but misunderstood by you, or they could be taken out of context.
    More importantly, they are not here to explain and defend their opinion.
    So, please, as I’ve asked you on so many occasions, drop the links and quotes and explain and defend your own position.

    “Science is not faith based. But the existence of ‘dark matter’ is.
    See, ‘dark matter’ is a good hypothesis, but the belief it exists is part of a faith”

    Sorry to bring up an embarrassing subject for you, but your understanding about dark matter is about as accurate as your understanding of relativity.

  51. steve12on 16 Oct 2013 at 5:13 pm

    I can’t tell if tell if you’re Fing with me or not Sonic. If so, OK.

    If not, I don’t understand why you refuse to directly answer a question. It’s just weird, and usually makes me lose interest, TBH….

  52. Hosson 16 Oct 2013 at 5:52 pm

    “I have ideas about how to teach any subject without offending someone’s religious beliefs– I have to do it on a regular basis.”

    Really?
    How the f*** do you teach evolution without offending people who find evolution to be offensive?

    A loaded question – yes, but a very reasonable scenario.

    From everything you’ve written, I don’t think you understand the motivation behind this lawsuit at all or the potential ramifications if COPE is successful(it’d be even worse if somehow the lawsuit managed to get to the SCOTUS and COPE wins).

  53. Hosson 16 Oct 2013 at 6:52 pm

    “For me the ideal outcome would be for the parents and the educators to get together and with complete understanding and respect for each other work out what and how to teach the kids so that everyone can be happy.
    I think this is possible to the extent that everyone involved can understand and respect each other.”

    And should this approach be taken with creationism and intelligent design lawsuits?

    Personally, I don’t think science should conform to what a community dictates science should be.

  54. steve12on 16 Oct 2013 at 7:21 pm

    “Personally, I don’t think science should conform to what a community dictates science should be.”

    YES. There’s this mistaken notion that science is an egalitarian enterprise, and we should all have a say. What nonsense. I should have no more say interpreting data from the LHC than one of these ignorant parents should have say interpreting the theory of evolution.

  55. Hosson 16 Oct 2013 at 10:05 pm

    Evolution has finally been proven wrong?!

    “Sperm is a lie. It does not exist. You were told about sperm to make you believe in the great evolutionary myth. If evolution were true, we’d be able to fly just like planes. And that’s a fact.”
    Epsilon Cult Member – GTA V

  56. sonicon 17 Oct 2013 at 8:50 am

    Davdoodles-
    I agree with your analysis of 12 Oct that begins- “Faith” is a fairly obvious weasel word.

    The faiths aren’t the same.
    The emotional attachments and all the behaviors that go with that sort of attachment are.

    “When you are in love you want to tell the world,” could be an evangelical christian or Carl Sagan. Or both.

    Anyway, I agree- it is silly to equate the faiths- they are not the same.
    I really never intended to say that a belief in thor is the same as the belief in trees or the belief in magic or the belief in god or the belief in materialism.
    They are all different beliefs.

    The major similarity is in how they affect the behaviors of the person holding them.

    You seem to have a very specific religion in mind with your examples. What you describe doesn’t sound like anything I’ve ever been involved in or heard of– what is it?

    ccbowers-
    Let me apologize. You seem to be misunderstanding what I’m saying quite a bit lately. It seems we have had better luck at other times.
    I’m trying to be as clear as I can– perhaps things will turn around soon.

  57. Bruceon 17 Oct 2013 at 9:10 am

    Sonic:

    ““When you are in love you want to tell the world,” could be an evangelical christian or Carl Sagan. Or both. ”

    What?

    Seriously?

    What are you trying to say here? Is there a point to this?

    You are becoming increasingly incoherent in your arguments and I think your penchant for “just asking questions guys” is becoming more annoying than anything else.

    Science is not a religion. You are equating faith in religion with a percentage certainty in science. Science is measured in scales of what we know, religion is measured in scales of what we believe. One is testable, the other is not.

  58. sonicon 17 Oct 2013 at 12:54 pm

    BillyJoe7-
    You seem to get upset when I give actual examples of what I’m talking about.
    But I don’t know of any better way to make the point that some people treat science as a religion and have the same feelings for it that a religious person has toward his faith.
    It’s only as true as the examples.
    “When you are in love, you want to tell the world,” is a sentiment shared by many religious converts– isn’t it?

    I’m not saying science is a religion. I’m saying some individuals treat it that way and have the same emotional attachments.

    And of course science can be taught as religion. Perhaps that is what is happening in Kansas– I’m not sure.

    steve12-
    I have attempted to give the best answer I can to your questions.
    You keep demanding a ‘yes or no’ to questions that don’t have that kind of answer.

    Have you stopped beating your wife– yes or no?

    Perhaps your expectation that the answer be in a certain form is hindering the understanding of the actual answer.

    Hoss-
    I’m afraid the teaching of science conforms to community standards now.

    That’s why we don’t teach five year olds how to poison the water supply of a city.
    And there are laws against 7 year olds running experiments on the effects of heroin on the nervous system. Why?
    Oh, and we don’t do a lot of sexual experiments on children under the age of 8.
    There are classrooms filled with them– such a wonderful opportunity to see what would happen if…

    It’s just community standards– anti-science pricks.

    Sorry for the sarcasm. :-)

    I haven’t seen the standards being questioned- so I don’t know exactly what the parents are complaining about.
    Perhaps it would be best to try a demonstration.
    If you will give me a specific thing- I can give you a method of teaching it that i think would be acceptable to all.
    Now– there’s the challenge.

    Evolution is actually a number of subjects– perhaps if we limit to one aspect, we can see how this might or might not work. Is there a specific you want to try?

    Bruce-
    If religion isn’t testable, then how could any one know if one is wrong or not?
    I agree- science is not religion.
    That’s why I sure it doesn’t have to be taught as one.
    And that is the complaint– it is being taught as one.
    Surely you think that is possible.

  59. Hosson 17 Oct 2013 at 1:32 pm

    Sonic

    “I’m afraid the teaching of science conforms to community standards now.
    That’s why we don’t teach five year olds how to poison the water supply of a city.
    And there are laws against 7 year olds running experiments on the effects of heroin on the nervous system. Why?
    Oh, and we don’t do a lot of sexual experiments on children under the age of 8.
    There are classrooms filled with them– such a wonderful opportunity to see what would happen if…
    It’s just community standards– anti-science pricks.”

    You’re wrong, and the examples you provided do not prove your point.

    Explain Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, Edwards v. Aguillard, McLean v. Arkansas, Hendren v. Campbell, Daniel v. Waters, and Epperson v. Arkansas, if “the teaching of science conforms to community standards now.”
    This backs up my previous statement: “Personally, I don’t think science should conform to what a community dictates science should be.” Why – because it can be used to teach non-science in a science classroom, which has a high potential of being extremely unethical.

    Just to be clear, I never said a community should not have appropriate influence on the school system. (gotta love clearing things up with a double negative)

  60. steve12on 17 Oct 2013 at 2:08 pm

    Sonic:

    1. You’re purposefully confusing ethical considerations and scientific validity. When we were talking about the community’s role we clearly meant the latter, not the former.

    2. I never asked you a complex Q. I simply wanted you to tell us whether YOU think science is just another epist system, like religion, becasue of it’s assumptions, and why.

    Answering “sometimes” with no clear distinction of when/why it is and is not, along with bunch of questions and quotes, is not an answer. It’s The Dance that you perform in lieu of answering the question directly.

    (for the initiated in a certain subculture, this is the Benji Vortex)

  61. BillyJoe7on 17 Oct 2013 at 4:56 pm

    sonic,

    As I’ve said before, it takes a lot to upset me.

    My reaction to your posts is usually a combination of confusion and amusement. You are particularly inept in defending your view. In fact, as in this thread, it seems beyond you even to simply state your view. I suppose that is understandable because, when we do finally work what your view is, it is, almost without exception, wrong.

    Anyway…

    Perhaps you can show us how to teach evolution without upsetting any religious folk.
    My opinion is that it cannot be done.
    My guess is that what you mean by “teaching evolution” will be about as unscientific as all your other views on science based topics.

    Prove me wrong.

  62. sonicon 18 Oct 2013 at 1:03 am

    Hoss-
    Point taken.
    And I don’t think a community should dictate what the science is either.

    The aspect of the complaint that makes sense to me is the complaint that they are teaching religion and calling it science. I don’t know what is in the materials– it might be the complaint is baseless– but
    I think we can agree that is a bad idea to teach religion and call it science.

    steve12-
    I didn’t purposely confuse anything. It isn’t true that the community has nothing to say about what goes on in a science class. It is also true that the community shouldn’t have anything to say about the science. They are different considerations.

    I think I understand what you are asking for —
    I don’t think religion or science exist as Platonic forms.
    They are activities of humans.
    They are not the same activity, they are not equal.

    This next statement is a generality and there are numerous counter examples–

    One overlap between science and religion is that an individual will often look to one or the other of them for answers to the big questions about existence- metaphysical questions that aren’t truely answerable.

    Now if you want, I can list the myriad ways that the two are different.
    But you all ready know them. And so do I.

    So no, I don’t think science is just another epist system like religion.

  63. sonicon 18 Oct 2013 at 1:06 am

    BillyJoe7-
    Thank you for accepting the challenge–
    It must get tiring being so wonderful. :-)

    Now you might have to help with the details and stuff- I’m no expert—

    Evolution is a very large topic that consists of many parts.
    I suggest limiting the topic to ‘natural selection’ for a beginning, OK?

    To teach ‘natural selection’ one tells the students the basic observation-
    Some mice have more babies than other mice- (whatever creature)
    From there you can get into ‘heritable traits’ and ‘selection pressures’ and ‘selective advantage’- whatever- you tell me what I’m missing you want in. I’m not an expert.

    Next you could give examples in nature that demonstrate the principle- (you pick) you could discuss ‘artificial selection’ as a means of demonstrating some of its powers- given two cats we can get all sorts of cats by selective breeding. (my pick).

    You can say that this is one aspect of how life forms change over time or evolve.
    That’s natural selection.

    I’m no expert- you’ll have to tell me what I’m missing. But so far I think I can get the parents to agree it’s OK to say those things.

    This could be interesting.

  64. BillyJoe7on 18 Oct 2013 at 7:40 am

    Why limit yourself?

    How about the following…

    The fossil record.
    Speciation.
    Carbon dating.
    Common ancestry.
    Common descent.
    Random mutation
    Population genetics.

    Do you think that all those with a religious world view will accept the teaching of the scientific consensus on these topics to all school students?

  65. SteveAon 18 Oct 2013 at 7:44 am

    Bruce: You are becoming increasingly incoherent in your arguments and I think your penchant for “just asking questions guys” is becoming more annoying than anything else.

    Sonic’s ‘it’s just little ol’ me, a listening and a learning’ shtick got tired a long time ago as far as I’m concerned.

    He’s a proselytizing Intelligent Design troll.

  66. BillyJoe7on 18 Oct 2013 at 4:17 pm

    Steve,

    “He’s a proselytizing Intelligent Design troll”

    Actually, I think he’s just an accommodationist. Not only regarding religious views, but any view at all, be it religious, alternative or fringe. I think this is a problem for anyone who gets into the controversial aspects before having a good grasp of the fundamentals of any subject. When you are exposed to alternative and fringe views before you understand the consensus view of experts in any area of study, you tend to give equal time to those alternative and fringe views. He thinks giving equal time has made him into a good sceptic but, in reality, it has just distorted his view of pretty well any subject he chooses to comment on in this blog.

    Bruce.

    I think the most annoying aspect of these discussions is that they never go anywhere. I’ve labelled it the sonic “merry-go-round”. For example, this discussion has been going on now for ten days and we’re no further along than on day one. Round and round the merry-go-round. It takes an inordinate amount of time to pin him down on anything and an inordinate amount of time to get him to back up his opinion on anything. And all along as you’re trying to work put what he’s trying to say, he ignores most of what you say and misunderstands the rest.

  67. steve12on 18 Oct 2013 at 4:32 pm

    “It isn’t true that the community has nothing to say about what goes on in a science class.”

    It’s understood that we mean content, and the community should not get to say what is o is not science in the classroom. Your example of literally experimenting ON the children was disingenuous at best.

    “So no, I don’t think science is just another epist system like religion.”

    Asked and answered. Very nice.

  68. sonicon 18 Oct 2013 at 5:23 pm

    BillyJoe7
    I’m not sure my thing about natural selection was OK with you. I could be more complete if needed.
    I don’t see the point of continuing the exercise if it has all ready failed.
    The natural selection bit was OK?

    I don’t think it is possible to get everyone to agree to what is taught. I think it is possible to get agreement on how it is taught. Just as the teachers need to respect and understand the parents, the parents have to respect and understand the teachers.

    Perhaps carbon dating would be a good subject to try.
    What do you think?

    I hope this has gone somewhere- surely you understand what i mean about the similarities between science and religion differently than when we started? (I’m hoping)

    steve12
    When I was in school we did experiments in science class.
    They wouldn’t take my suggestions then either. :-)
    (Sometimes I might say things for a bit of humor or shock value– allowing that type of experiment has a bit of both in it– disingenuous seems a bit much though).

    SteveA
    It seems you made a decision that was in error.
    Sorry to give you a false impression.

  69. BillyJoe7on 19 Oct 2013 at 7:16 am

    sonic,

    “Perhaps carbon dating would be a good subject to try”

    Excellent suggestion.

    Pass it across your local YEC.
    that should be fun.
    Radiocarbon dating takes life on Earth back ten times as far as they think the whole universe has existed.
    I would like to hear your compromise suggestion.
    …remember to get the approval of your favourite YEC first.

  70. sonicon 19 Oct 2013 at 11:41 am

    BillyJoe7-
    I left out ‘variation’ from the list on natural selection– wake up. (Did you like the ‘some mice have more babies than other mice?’)

    It’s important to say– the parents have to respect and understand the teachers position. It is different here than in other places, probably.
    If a school takes money from the federal government, then the federal rules apply to that school. You can have a school without many of the rules if you fund it yourself. So the parents have to understand the teacher has an obligation to his employer (which includes the governments– not just them).

    The teacher isn’t supposed to teach religion. He is not supposed to teach against any religion either. He is not to tell the student his religion is right, or wrong. This means the teacher has to give the information in the most metaphysically ambivalent manner possible.

    This is a difficult task and the parents have to understand the teacher can only do the best he can.
    If they want more control over the kids education there are private schools or homeschooling.

    Anyway-
    Carbon dating is a subject that needs quite a few prereqs.: atoms, isotopes, radioactivity, premises and extrapolation, half-life,…
    I’m assuming a certain amount of this– if I assume too much, or if I have left out something important- let me know.

    If you have radioactivity and a means of measuring decay for a short term, then one can extrapolate long term rate of decay (half-life)- assuming a constant rate of decay over time.
    Given a particular object’s state of decay, one can get an age- assuming the object was in a pure form at inception.
    One can do ‘find the age’ mathematical problems and give examples from items that have been dated.

    It is possible a student would object if an item dated older than his religion says the universe is old — is @6000 for a YEC? Whatever-

    Student- “This rock can’t be that old- the universe isn’t that old.”
    Teacher- “Which premise are you questioning? If our premises are correct- constant rate of decay and pure form at inception- this is the correct answer- right?”
    Student- “Yes, but I’m not so sure the object was in pure form at inception.”
    T-”Oh, well that would have an impact on the calculation, all right. If you knew the age of the object, then you could get it’s state at inception given it’s current state and a constant rate of decay.”
    S- “Yes, it would depend on that assumption as well.”
    T-”For the science class, we make those two assumptions- constant rate of decay and pure form at inception. There are reasons the scientists have those as the premises– we will get into more of that as we study. So I’m going to ask you to do the calculations using those assumptions– this is a science class. You can say that using the assumptions, the answer is…”
    S- “OK, but I don’t have to believe the object is really that old?”
    T- “You don’t have to believe anything. You have to understand the concepts and show you can apply them.”

    What do you think? Do you think a teacher could actually have a conversation with a student like that?

  71. BillyJoe7on 20 Oct 2013 at 7:46 am

    You’ve simply tricked a naive student into thinkng he can have science and keep his religion too.
    What happens when he tells his slightly less naive parents and they front up at your doorstep?
    How do you explain to them why you’re telling their child that the universe is 13.7 billion years old in direct contradiction to what the religion they have indoctrinated into their child says?

    Most countries have no trouble teaching science.
    Neither does the USA, except when it comes to evolution and cosmology.
    A vocal minority is causing all the trouble.
    And there’s no evidence that trying to accommodate their religious views achieves anything.

  72. mrbryanon 20 Oct 2013 at 10:32 am

    It has been stated that:

    The relevant precedent includes- “Secular humanism is religious for first amendment purposes because it makes statements based on faith-assumptions.”
    (Smith v. Board of School Comm’ers… S.D. Ala. 1987.)

    Actually, this “precedent” makes exactly the opposite point of the one intended, because the quote come from a District Court ruling which was overturned by the Circuit Court ruling in the same case (827 F.2d 684 (11th Cir. 1987)).

    The actual result of the Smith case was to allow the so-called Secular Humanism to be taught in the Alabama schools.

  73. ccbowerson 20 Oct 2013 at 11:52 am

    “How do you explain to them why you’re telling their child that the universe is 13.7 billion years old in direct contradiction to what the religion they have indoctrinated into their child says?”

    I’m not a teacher, but I can think of only one answer. The age of the universe is a scientific question, and the teaching of consensus science is pretty straight forward. If they are teaching their children that the earth is a different age, then that is an issue between the parents and their children, since the science is pretty clear. (I probably would not say this last statement to the parents in this fashion, since it would probably cause more trouble that it’s worth).

    “Neither does the USA, except when it comes to evolution and cosmology.”

    I always get concerned about these perceptions. I am concerned about ‘hasty generalizations’ which is inevitable when we hear about pockets of information from the news. I was completely unaware of these issues as a kid, and it is not really a broad issue in the US. It is a regional issue, affecting certain communities and states in the US. They are important ones, no doubt, and they do occasionally have broader implications, but these are the type of issues that will affect the education of some significantly while having minimal or no impact for most.

    The lack of uniformity of content is a problem. There should be some universal standard (of what is taught) for much of education prior to college, but education has historically been something that each state determined, and there is a much resistance to having it be more centralized. The specificity of the standard should be open for debate, but English, math, science, history, etc does not vary depending upon state, so what needs to be learned about them shouldn’t vary much either. Of course that is easy to say, but hard to impliment when the politics of 50 states comes into play.

  74. BillyJoe7on 21 Oct 2013 at 7:20 am

    ccbowers,

    “…If they are teaching their children that the earth is a different age, then that is an issue between the parents and their children…”

    I don’t understand why you would think that is an adequate response.
    To demostrate how inadequate this response is, consider what an adequate response would be to parents who have been influenced by internet anti-vaccination propaganda and who choose not to have their children vaccinated.
    I am dead certain that you would think that saying that this is an issue between the parents and their children is an inadequate response. I am dead certain that you would try to pursuade these parents that the informtion they have is incorrect and what the true facts of vaccination are.
    You would not accommodate parents’ misinformation about vaccination as a result of anti-vaccination propaganda and you should not accommodate their misinformation about the age of the universe as a result of religious indoctrination.

  75. sonicon 21 Oct 2013 at 10:03 am

    mrbryan-
    You are right. Thanks for pointing out the error.

    Here is some detail–
    In Smith v. Board of Commissioners of Mobile County Federal judge William Hand ruled the books promoted secular humanism, which he ruled to be a religion.
    The Eleventh Circuit Court unanimously reversed him, with Judge Frank stating that Hand held a “misconception of the relationship between church and state mandated by the establishment clause,” commenting also that the textbooks did not show “an attitude antagonistic to theistic belief. The message conveyed by these textbooks is one of neutrality: the textbooks neither endorse theistic religion as a system of belief, nor discredit it.”

    So the test from this case is the texts must be neutral- not endorsing or discrediting a theistic system of belief. I think this is a more accurate statement as to what the courts would look at in this case.

    I made a mistake- thanks for pointing it out.

    ccbowers-
    I agree with you. I think this is something the media likes to play up– not really that big an issue. Where I live there are enough different schools the parents have choices.
    When I lived in San Francisco, I would talk to the tourists a lot. Many of them want to see my gun.
    “I don’t carry a gun,” I’d say.
    “But this is the US- doesn’t everyone carry a gun?”
    The people watch the movies and TV shows…

    BillyJoe7-
    No, I forced the kid to acknowledge the consequences of his hypothesis.
    I have a feeling things will get more difficult for him as we go–

    What I say to the parents is that I can only do my best to keep things neutral.
    If they want more control over the curriculum, they can have a school that doesn’t accept money from the government agencies.

    I believe there is plenty of evidence that living in a place that allows for religious freedom is better than living in a place that doesn’t.

  76. BillyJoe7on 21 Oct 2013 at 3:56 pm

    sonic,

    “the texts must be neutral- not endorsing or discrediting a theistic system of belief”

    What this means is that the texts must not overtly state anything to discredit theistic systems of belief.
    That is not to say that the very nature of the material contained within these texts doesn’t discredit them.

    A text that states that the universe is 13.7 billion years old discredits a theistic system of belief that states that the universe is 6000 years old, even if it doesn’t overtly state that the belief that the universe is 6000 years old is false.

    A text that states that our nearest common female ancestor lived 160000 years ago and that our nearest common male ancestor lived 60000 years ago and that there was never less than a few hundred people alive at any time in the past discredits a system of theistic belief based on the existence in the past of an original couple from whom we all descended, even if it doesn’t overtly state that that belief is false.

  77. BillyJoe7on 21 Oct 2013 at 4:24 pm

    sonic and ccbowers,

    There are probably still some Australians who still think all Americans carry guns just as there are probably still some Americans who still think that Australians keep koalas and kangaroos as pets, but neither I nor you think that do we?

    However, can we both agree, and as the courts attest, Americans are more caught up in what’s in text books than any other country in the world. It is a real issue there and a non issue elsewhere.

  78. BillyJoe7on 21 Oct 2013 at 4:43 pm

    sonic,

    “No, I forced the kid to acknowledge the consequences of his hypothesis”

    I would say that you are under the delusion that you have done so.
    The way I see it, you have created enough doubt in his mind about what science can confidently tell us is true so as to enable him to hold onto what his religion tells him.
    The universe is 13.7 years old and there really is not much doubt about that from the point of view of science. Certainly the universe cannot be 6000 years old as his religion tells him.

    “What I say to the parents is that I can only do my best to keep things neutral”

    But, if you tell their children that the universe is 13.7 years old, you are not being neutral.
    You are, in effect, telling their children that the universe is not 6000 years old, even if you are not explicitly saying so.
    It seems to me that being neutral to you is pretending that the science you teach and the religion your students believe in are compatible if only you don’t explicitly point out how incompatible they are.

  79. NNMon 22 Oct 2013 at 9:18 am

    I’m not sure what there is to debate.
    If it’s all wrong… If the universe is 6000 years old…
    Then carbon dating is wrong, our basic understanding of physics is wrong. Nuclear physics is wrong as well. All these Nobel prizes should be stripped from these charlatans that think they invented nuclear power, atomic bombs, etc… Then it’s all a lie!

    I’m going to be very undiplomatic here, but honest, and just call anyone who believes a god created everything 6000 years ago, a hopeless moron. Even the ancient babylonians had a better understanding of the universe than the average american.
    What’s next? The Earth is flat? Lizard people in the governments?

    Go ahead, teach kids how god created everything and controls everything, see where that leads your civilization… Not to Mars, that’s for sure.

  80. steve12on 22 Oct 2013 at 12:07 pm

    “the texts must be neutral- not endorsing or discrediting a theistic system of belief”

    I’m soooo happy I did not continue on with this discussion…..

  81. sonicon 23 Oct 2013 at 8:52 am

    BillyJoe7-
    Science can’t tell us anything. Science can’t be confident. Science has no point of view.
    Category errors.

    One way to avoid the problems you mentioned about teaching certain aspects of science– only make claims that can be experimentally verified.
    With that said- I think it possible to discuss any of the ‘historical’ aspects of science in terms of extrapolation and premise. Of course as the data piles up, the justification for the premise of 6000 or whatever years may become more and more difficult to maintain. If the student decides that the 6000 year old premise is incorrect based on the converging lines of evidence being presented over the course of instruction– that’s his business.

    I think one difference between religious indoctrination and other teaching methods is the extent the student is allowed to draw some conclusions on his own.

    Being neutral about the metaphysical premises means willing to accept anyone as correct for the sake of argument.

    NNM-
    The goal isn’t to teach kids about god, the goal is to try to avoid teaching kids about god.

    It doesn’t matter how the atoms got here, the periodic table is what it is. The details of cell reproduction and metabolism do not in anyway depend on the age of the universe. F=ma doesn’t depend on the age of the earth.
    I’m certain that not everyone who thinks the earth is 6000 years old is a moron. Your observational skills appear to be quite poor.

    Werner von Brahn- rocket scientist– lover of Jesus.
    Your objection about not getting to Mars has no merit.

    steve12-
    The law sucks unless the judge rules in your favor.
    What’s new?

  82. ccbowerson 23 Oct 2013 at 11:10 am

    “Science can’t tell us anything. Science can’t be confident. Science has no point of view.
    Category errors.”

    BJ7 is clearly speaking metaphorically here, and for some reason you choose to interpret him literally. It is a category error only when taken literally, so I must assume you did this intentionally, which is disingenuous.

    When he is referring to what ‘science tells us’ (or can’t), he is obviously speaking about ‘conclusions that can be drawn by the collective activities of trained scientist using scientific methods.’ Perhaps he should pull out a phrase like that everytime to be clear? I think that metaphorical language in this case is precise enough.

    In the case of a 6000 year Earth versus 4.5 billion year Earth (or 13.8 billion year old universe): this is simply a scientific question. There is no leeway for person preference or belief. Stating those ages as true based upon the best evidence (from multiple sources) is probably the best way to communicate this information, although I’m sure a good teacher could explain it in an interesting way.

    It is not appropriate, in this case, to simply that students should draw his or her own conclusions. When discussing clear straightforward concensus science, being vague and wishywashy will imply uncertainty that simply isn’t there. For a topic like this, there is no room for individual’s own conclusions, and asking students to come up with their own conclusions is misleading. I’m not implying that there isn’t room for discussions on this topic or others, or that students should never be taught to come up with their own conclusions, but using this topic for doing that is a poor choice.

  83. Hosson 23 Oct 2013 at 11:21 am

    Sonic

    “One way to avoid the problems you mentioned about teaching certain aspects of science– only make claims that can be experimentally verified.”

    You’re not being neutral(in my opinion,a person should not be neutral when special interest groups are trying to censor the teaching of science). You’re siding with the accommodationalist and creationist to help censor the teaching of science.

    Science taught to k-12 in public schools should teach the scientific consensus and should not stray into philosophy or ideology. If there is a subject within science that contradicts a child’s or child’s parents’ ideology….tough shit…the scientific consensus is not going to conform to personal opinion. As long as the material and the teacher are sticking to strictly the science, there shouldn’t be a way to interfere with the material in a science class.

    On a side note, it seems like you enjoy(probably not the right word) nitpicking what people have to say rather than addressing the content of their comments, which they are not mutually exclusive. I’m kinda curious if you’re still going to nitpick rather than directly address my comment, even though I just pointed out that you’re doing it.

  84. sonicon 23 Oct 2013 at 4:00 pm

    ccbowers-
    Category errors in speech often indicate illogical thinking underneath.
    I believe that is the case here.

    The age of the earth can’t be known from direct observation. It can be calculated using various facts and extrapolations based on certain premises.
    If a student understands how these things are done, then he can question whatever aspect he wants.

    Hoss-
    In order to calculate the age of something, extrapolations based on philosophical considerations are needed.
    The philosophy is unavoidable.
    Do you have any question about that?

    As to ideology-
    http://philosophynow.org/issues/15/Is_Science_an_Ideology
    Perhaps we could discuss that.

    Is this nitpicking?

  85. ccbowerson 23 Oct 2013 at 4:34 pm

    “Category errors in speech often indicate illogical thinking underneath.
    I believe that is the case here.”

    Except that taking metaphorical language literally will usually result in the perception of a category error, and in this case it is the failure of the perceiver who is causing the confusion. Actually, I have in the past objected to people using ‘science’ as if it had agency, because I do believe that it can be problematic and misleading. In this case there is no reasonable confusion to be had.

  86. BillyJoe7on 23 Oct 2013 at 5:02 pm

    sonic,

    I said “science tells us….”
    Everyone reads this is a simple straight forward metaphor.
    Except you.
    You read it as a “category error”!
    Ccbowers very clearly explains your mistake.
    But you insist!
    And then, digging your heels in further, you add that this indicates illogical thinking.

    Sonic, you are losing all credibility.

    The scientific consensus of expert cosmologists is that the Earth is 13.7 billion years old.
    Is that better?
    An inexperienced student who is starting out learning about science is never going to be able to have sufficient knowledge to challenge the consensus view of a worldwide body of expert cosmological opinion based on the evidence accumulated over their working life times by a worldwide body of expert cosmologists.
    Sorry to labour this point, but it never seems to filter through to your brain.
    Do you not understand this point?
    Do you not want to understand it?

    Really, sonic, you are so insistently stupid sometimes.
    And I say this as a friend.

  87. Hosson 23 Oct 2013 at 5:04 pm

    Sonic

    “Is this nitpicking?”

    What you’re doing is avoiding my arguments. Do you really not understand what I’m trying to say? Are you being purposefully obtuse or is that just how you are?

  88. Hosson 23 Oct 2013 at 5:29 pm

    Sonic

    “Science taught to k-12 in public schools should teach the scientific consensus and should not stray into philosophy or ideology.” – Hoss

    That was my attempt to not just single out religion but other ideologies as well….you know the type of ideologies that have no place in a science classroom. But I’ll go ahead and phrase it more specifically because I don’t want to have a discussion on what philosophies and ideologies would be acceptable. I think we can agree that theistic religion is not acceptable, so I’ll start there.

    Science taught to k-12 in public schools should teach the scientific consensus and should not stray into theistic religion. (I would have said “religion” without the “theistic”, but that would lead you to start talking again about how science can be a religion too.)

  89. ccbowerson 23 Oct 2013 at 8:48 pm

    “The scientific consensus of expert cosmologists is that the Earth is 13.7 billion years old.
    Is that better?”

    Let me correct your error before it turns into a several day discussion between you and Sonic. You meant universe, not Earth when referring to 13.7 billion years. (either that or you meant 4.54 billion years for the Earth). Actually the universe figure is more like 13.8 billion, but that IS nitpicking.

  90. BillyJoe7on 23 Oct 2013 at 11:26 pm

    $#!+

  91. sonicon 24 Oct 2013 at 9:46 am

    BillyJoe7-
    I would teach the evidence and the conclusion.
    If the student hadn’t progressed to the point of understanding how the conclusion was arrived at, forcing him to believe it is an act of religious indoctrination.
    I wouldn’t do that.

    Hoss-
    I agree, science shouldn’t get into theistic religion.
    When did I say it should?
    Everything I’m talking about is attempting to avoid getting into theistic or any other religion.
    Try looking at what I’m saying in that light– “Which premise are you questioning?” is the question that gets what I’m talking about out of theism and into logic- right?
    Otherwise I’m getting into theism by denying the possibility.
    Don’t you see that?

    ccbowers-
    Thanks.

  92. BillyJoe7on 24 Oct 2013 at 4:13 pm

    sonic,

    Telling a student that the overwhelming scientific evidence is that the universe is 13.7 million years old is providing that student with information.
    Telling that student that the universe is 6000 years old because the bible says so is indoctrination.

    How you can’t tell the difference is beyond me.

  93. sonicon 25 Oct 2013 at 9:01 am

    Who is telling the student the universe is 6000 years old?
    Not me.

    You are correct- one could say there is scientific evidence the universe is 13.82 billion years old and that would be information.
    You could say that Joe down the street says the universe is 37969 years old and that would be information as well.

    It isn’t about giving the student information- it’s forcing him to believe it (you’ll get an F, or whatever) that is problematic.

    How you can’t tell the difference is beyond me.

  94. Steven Novellaon 25 Oct 2013 at 9:35 am

    It has been well established that the school does not require students to believe anything, just that they demonstrate understanding.

    Students need to know that the scientific consensus is that the universe is 13.7 billion years old, and (more importantly) why that is the scientific consensus – what are the lines of evidence, what are the enduring unknowns and controversies, etc. They do not need to state that they believe it.

    Science class is for teaching science, not the opinions of Joe down the street, or the belief systems of popular religions.

    Teaching students religious beliefs or a fake controversy is teaching bad science and is abusing the science classroom.

    Further, I would be perfectly OK with science teachers telling students directly that science is not about belief and does not require any particular belief. It is about a set of methods, logic and empiricism – the whole methodological naturalism thing.

  95. ccbowerson 25 Oct 2013 at 10:14 am

    Sonic,

    Again, you are using a false equivalence fallacy in your argument.

    Here is why the structure of your statements above is an example of false equivalence:

    You say that- The universe is 13.8 billion years based upon science is information. Joe down the street saying the universe is ‘X’ years old is information. The use of ‘information’ in both statements is being used to imply an equivalency between the two that is unjustified.

    Both statements are not equally correct statements. This is an empiric question, not a matter of preference or taste. You then say that it is not about the information, but “forcing” people to believe it (I object to your use of force, but I will leave that alone for now) . Your argument only makes sense with this false equivalency.

    We are talking about education, and part of education is providing the best information available. I agree that providing facts is not the only part of education, nor is it even the most important part, but it is absolutely necessary. You seem to think that we should not indicate which information is currently the best available, and attempt to ensure that students know some of it. This is not mutually exclusive of other learning (e.g. learning about the processes that result in those conclusions, or learning about how to use information, etc.)

    Is teaching that the Earth is a spheroid a problem from your perspective as well? How about spelling, should be not check to see if students can read or spell for fear that we are forcing a particular preference for certain arrangements of letters? If these are not problematic in the same way, then what is the difference?

  96. ccbowerson 25 Oct 2013 at 10:15 am

    Woops, I guess I hadn’t refreshed in a while. Steve chimed in, with a little overlap

  97. sonicon 25 Oct 2013 at 4:06 pm

    Dr. N.
    Thank-you for the comment.

    I have not suggested anyone be taught any religious belief.
    I have attempted to discuss the possibility of teaching science much as you describe- for the age of the universe, for example: first, how is the age calculated, what evidences are of interest, what logical operations are used and what premises the logical operations rest on.
    This is exactly what I’m talking about.

    I would allow a student to challenge the premises and such if he wanted to and understood what he was talking about– one reason being that I’m not there to say his religion is wrong. That’s the law. The other reason is I don’t have a problem with students who question.

    (I think the current calculation of the age of the universe is 13.8 billion. Please excuse the nitpick.)

    ccbowers-
    I believe you have thoroughly misunderstood nearly everything I’ve said about this.
    I’m sorry my communication skills are so poor.

    I would not teach religion in a science class- and I would not tell a student his religion is wrong.
    Those are the rules of the game.

    I have attempted to explain how I would follow those rules- and my suggestion is almost exactly as Dr. N. suggests in his comment of Oct. 25.

    I will attempt to be more clear in the future.

  98. BillyJoe7on 25 Oct 2013 at 4:46 pm

    sonic,

    “Who is telling the student the universe is 6000 years old?”

    The parents.
    The teachers are providing him with the information that the scientific evidence is that the universe is 13.7 billion years old and his parents are indoctrinating him with the bible myth that the universe is 6000 years old.

    “You are correct- one could say there is scientific evidence the universe is 13.82 billion years old and that would be information.
    You could say that Joe down the street says the universe is 37969 years old and that would be information as well.”

    But the scientific information is correct and the Joe’s information is false.
    The first is information, the second is misinformation.
    How you can’t see the difference is beyond me.

    “It isn’t about giving the student information- it’s forcing him to believe it ”

    I didn’t notice your statement about “forcing” before.
    What a straw man you’ve got there!
    What science teacher worthy of his name is “forcing” a student to believe anything?

    “(you’ll get an F, or whatever) that is problematic.”

    How is this problematic.
    In fact, it is straight forward…
    If the student answers 6000 years to the question about the age of the universe on a science exam paper he will be marked down. If he continues to give the indoctrinated answers of his religion on his science exam paper he will fail.
    No problem at all.

  99. BillyJoe7on 25 Oct 2013 at 5:02 pm

    sonic,

    “I would not teach religion in a science class”

    Nobody has said that you would.
    What we are saying is that you want to compromise the teaching of science in order to avoid upsetting the sensibilities of religiously indoctrinated students.
    That is not possible.
    Religious dogma and religious dogmatism is incompatible with science.

    “and I would not tell a student his religion is wrong”

    If you tell that student that the scientific evidence is that the universe is 13.7 billion years old, then you are contradicting his religious indoctrination that the universe is 6000 years old.
    You just can’t get around that, sonic, no matter how hard you try.
    The only way is to wipe any reference to the age of the universe from the text books and direct the teachers not mention the age of the universe. But it doesn’t stop there. The whole of evolutionary biology would have to be wiped from the text books as well.

    “I will attempt to be more clear in the future.”

    I don’t think anyone has misunderstood you at all, but anyway…

  100. BillyJoe7on 25 Oct 2013 at 5:31 pm

    sonic,

    “I have attempted to discuss the possibility of teaching science much as you describe- for the age of the universe, for example: first, how is the age calculated, what evidences are of interest, what logical operations are used and what premises the logical operations rest on.
    This is exactly what I’m talking about.”

    All the following are acceptable in a science class:

    1) A simple statement that the universe is 13.7 billion years old.
    2) The above, preceded by a statement that this is the consensus of cosmologists based on the evidence.
    3) Both of the above, succeeded by a statement about what this evidence and how it was derived.

    You seem to be rejecting at least (1), if not (1) and (2).
    But they are all reliable bits of scientific information imparted to students in a science class depending on the interest of the students, their level of education, and the class time available to be spent on this topic.

    “I would allow a student to challenge the premises and such if he wanted to and understood what he was talking about”

    The student is in no position to mount a challenge to the scientific consensus.
    He is there to learn and understand that consensus.
    But let’s not beat around the bush. In the context of this discussion, we are talking about a student who attempts to challenge that consensus because it conflicts with his religious dogma. In doing so, he is introducing religion into the science classroom.

  101. sonicon 28 Oct 2013 at 4:26 pm

    BillyJoe7-
    Perhaps the laws are different in Australia and it is OK fro a teacher to attack a child’s religious beliefs in school.
    That’s not how things are here– the rules are that the public schools don’t teach religion, and they don’t teach against religion. Easy to understand, sometimes difficult to impliment.

    In a science class you can always teach what is demonstratable by experiment.
    In order to do ‘historical’ science, we must extrapolate from the evidence. Extrapolation involves premises. Premises can be accepted or rejected.
    The student understands- given a, then b.
    But he might question a, so perhaps not b.

    And this is correct and fine.

    The parents won’t complain too much- we are just doing logical conclusions. I do think over time the need to question these premises might get a bit too much, especially as the evidences mount, and the student might question his premise; but that is up to the student, not the teacher.

    I would not compromise the teaching of science at all, in fact I think this is a much better way to teach– first the logical operations (always correct), then the evidences (good until something else comes along) and finally the conclusions (changeable due to new evidences and/or new premises to the logical chain).

    So, for example, the students would understand how the figure of the age of the universe is calculated– not some figure like 13.7 billion– which BTW, is wrong according to newer information.

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astronomy/2013/03/21/age_of_the_universe_planck_results_show_universe_is_13_82_billion_years.html

    I don’t think it would be legal for you to teach here.

    I believe my discussion of the carbon dating and the natural selection should put your concerns about evolution to rest. Is there another topic you think especially problematic?

  102. BillyJoe7on 28 Oct 2013 at 5:05 pm

    Nice evasive answer.

    Multiple choice science exam paper:

    The age of the universe is
    1) 13.82 billion years
    2) 4.54 billion years
    3) 6000 years
    4) 4004 years

    The student answers (3)
    He is marked down.

    Do you have a problem with that?

    The student complains.
    The parents complain.
    “The Advocate” complains.

    Do you cave in?
    Do you accommodate religion?
    Or do you stick up for science?

  103. steve12on 28 Oct 2013 at 5:10 pm

    I’ll jump in a little….

    “In a science class you can always teach what is demonstratable by experiment.”
    “The parents won’t complain too much- we are just doing logical conclusions.”

    Nope. The assumptions underlying an experiment are a DIRECT attack on my religion.

    In an experiment you attempt to hold everything constant save for the manipulation of the independent variable (IV), you then observe whether said manipulation affects dependent variable (DV).

    This teaches children that WE have the power to control the factors in the experiment – but what about God’s Will? We cannot control for that!

    God may intervene WHENEVER he would like – do you understand? Don’t you DARE teach my kids otherwise. Experiments are meaningless because they cannot control for God’s intervention, which is BY DEFINITION unknowable to those he created in his image. Saying otherwise is hubris before the Lord.

    This renders experiments a SHAM. Saying otherwise is a direct affront to me, my children and my God.

    amen.

  104. ccbowerson 28 Oct 2013 at 8:06 pm

    I check in after a few days, and I see that the discussion is exactly at the same point it was a few days ago. =) Progress is a slow thing I guess.

  105. BillyJoe7on 29 Oct 2013 at 7:30 am

    The trouble with sonic is that he rarely actually addresses all your points. He sort of washes his eyes over all of them and picks out a single point that he can make some sort of wishy washy response to.
    Yep, it’s hard to move things along this way.
    In my last post, I have tried to tie him down by presenting a single point, but I’m not confident that there won’t be some sort of concentration on a detail posted in return.

  106. sonicon 29 Oct 2013 at 12:11 pm

    BillyJoe7-
    False dilemma.
    Don’t ask the question that way.
    I have learned it is OK with me that a person has wild ideas about things.
    I have to live with myself, after all. :-)

    steve12-
    I’m not sure how real your example is, but let’s say the parent wants to say that.
    Agree– The experiments do not attempt to control god’s intervention.

    Because god’s interventions are not addressed, the effect god has on the outcome of any experiment is left to the student.

    It’s true that we attempt to control certain aspects of things while running experiments. But it is important to recognize our control is less than perfect. It is also true that there may always be aspects that can’t be controlled.

    God’s role in that situation is left to the student.
    OK?

    ccbowers-
    doesn’t the construct
    “Do you accommodate religion? Or do you stick up for science?”
    sound like a category error might be underneath the thought process?

  107. ccbowerson 29 Oct 2013 at 1:27 pm

    “sound like a category error might be underneath the thought process?”

    If he were using the argument broadly, you may have a point, but he is referencing a specific claim. In the age of the Earth example, he is talking about the religious beliefs regarding a scientific question. I do think that framing the issue that way (religion versus science) may be unnecessarily problematic in the context of teaching of young students. It’s best to just teach the science, and avoid framing it in an adversarial fashion, but I don’t think anyone is arguing for anything different. What is the disagreement again?

  108. steve12on 29 Oct 2013 at 3:02 pm

    “God’s role in that situation is left to the student.
    OK?”

    NO! It’s not OK!

    The possibility of God’s intervention literally brings science down. It’s not up to the kid or her dopey parents to decide that experiments don’t make sense because God might have intervened, and we can never know the will of God. Why sit for the rest of the class? There is no more science at that point.

    If the kid answers this, F. The kid and her dopey parents can believe whatever they want. But if I’m teaching a methods class and a kid answers this, F. The kid is in my methods class to learn science – not regurgitate her religious convictions.

    You don’t have to ‘believe’, but you do need to know that material. Does this even need to be said?

  109. steve12on 29 Oct 2013 at 3:05 pm

    Somehow I knew you would say this, even though it’s completely irrelavent to the discussion:

    “It’s true that we attempt to control certain aspects of things while running experiments. But it is important to recognize our control is less than perfect. It is also true that there may always be aspects that can’t be controlled.”

    Why is that important for the purposes of our discussion? You can’t control everything perfectly so God can slip in? Ridiculous.

    I wish you would just admit that you’re playing the postmodern epist nonsense card.

  110. BillyJoe7on 29 Oct 2013 at 4:32 pm

    sonic,

    “Don’t ask the question that way”

    I saw this response coming right after I submitted that post, but I thought I’d let it ride to see if you’d clutch at the straw offered.
    No surprises.
    Anyway, try this instead…

    To the nearest approximation the age of the universe is:

    1) 13.82 billion years
    2) 13.82 million years
    3) 4.54 million years
    4) None of the above

    Come on, sonic, are you going to teach the facts as derived by science, or are you going to drag it down to the lowest common denominator by accommodating everyone’s religious sensitivities?

    How are you going to teach evolutionary biology by accommodating everyone’s religious sensibilites?

  111. BillyJoe7on 29 Oct 2013 at 4:54 pm

    steve12,

    “The possibility of God’s intervention literally brings science down”

    I know what you mean, but it’s actually the reverse.

    And that’s the problem for the religious.
    Even if some scientists want to concede that the scientifically derived facts don’t directly contradict religious dogma, the two are AT LEAST incompatible. Either the universe is 13.82 billion years old or it’s 6000 years old. It can’t be both. But, in fact, science CAN directly approach this question. Based on the scientific evidence can the universe be 6000 years old? No it cannot.
    Science literally brings religion down.

    And those with religious sensibilities know this, so the only way is to try to bring science down.
    It seems sonic has been unwittinglyrecruited as a pawn in the Discovery Institutes’ “wedge strategy”.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wedge_strategy

  112. steve12on 29 Oct 2013 at 5:02 pm

    I agree BillyJoe.

    I mean that IF one accepts this nonsense that an unknowable God is always a competitor for the explanation of the IVs influence on the DV, there is no more experimental method, and with a few extrapolations, no science. Don’t bother with the rest of the class!

    Of course, I made up the example to point out the absurdity of what he’s trying to say.

  113. BillyJoe7on 30 Oct 2013 at 6:33 am

    sonic,

    “The experiments do not attempt to control god’s intervention”

    Don’t you mean that the experiments do not attempt to control for the intervention of the gods?
    Well I suppose you’re right, the experiments do not attempt to control for things for which there is no evidence of existence. They also do not attempt to control for ghosts and faeries.

    “Because god’s interventions are not addressed, the effect god has on the outcome of any experiment is left to the student”

    Perhaps the student might also be left to ponder the interventions of ghosts and faeries.

    Absence of evidence when the evidence should be there is evidence of absence.
    The past 400 years of science has reduced the roles of the myriad gods that have littered human history to that of a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat and disappearing in a puff of smoke.

  114. BillyJoe7on 30 Oct 2013 at 6:53 am

    I would rather leave the student with this gift from Richard Feynman:
    http://www.boreme.com/posting.php?id=30985

  115. sonicon 30 Oct 2013 at 12:51 pm

    ccbowers-
    I’m trying to find ways top teach science in a USA school without teaching religion.
    It seems steve12 and BJ7 think it impossible to do so.

    steve12-
    You want to teach the kids what god’s role is?
    I thought we were going to keep god and religion out of the science class.
    Allowing the student to determine god’s role in the situation is what is mandated in the USA today, I believe.

    My thing about less than perfect control-
    1- it is a true statement.
    2- it goes to the parents objection directly.
    3- I’m making it clear- we will not discuss god, we will not discuss the absence of god, we will not discuss what god does, we will not discuss what god doesn’t do.

    Isn’t that what you want?

    BillyJoe7-
    Don’t ask the question that way.
    Ask something like-
    Which of the following evidences would a scientist use to determine the age of the universe…
    Or, Which of the following logical operations are needed to determine the age of the universe scientifically?

    Find out that the student understands the materials– we need understanding, not parrots.

    It seems you think it is not possible to teach a child science without giving the child religious instruction.
    I disagree.

  116. Hosson 30 Oct 2013 at 2:30 pm

    Sonic

    No one is saying science can’t be taught without religion. What people are saying is that science can’t be taught without contradicting someone’s religion.

    The main disagreement I have with your position is that I believe you’re willing to over-accommodate a person’s religious beliefs to the point of compromising the teaching of science. Specifically, the problem does not arise from censoring religion from the science classroom, but from accepting certain nuanced creationist positions designed to conform science content to their religious belief using the government.

  117. steve12on 30 Oct 2013 at 2:31 pm

    “3- I’m making it clear- we will not discuss god, we will not discuss the absence of god, we will not discuss what god does, we will not discuss what god doesn’t do.”

    No, you’re not. The VERY TEACHING of what the experimental method is an affront to me, because it assumes God is not a party to the outcome.

    When you teach my kids that we can now ascribe the change in the DV to IV, that’s BS. How do you know God isn’t responsible for the change in the DV? You don’t. The method is a sham.

    So ya know what? Don’t teach my kids about the experimental method, because the experimental method requires the discounting of God’s Will.

  118. BillyJoe7on 30 Oct 2013 at 4:44 pm

    sonic,

    “Don’t ask the question that way”

    You just don’t want to answer that question do you?
    There is no reason that an science exam paper cannot have a multiple choice section to determine whether the student has baseline knowledge about the evidence based scientific facts. In fact there is every reason to do so – unless you think you can do science without knowing the baseline evidence based facts.

    “Ask something like-
    Which of the following evidences would a scientist use to determine the age of the universe…”

    Unless the student has baseline knowdge about the evidence based scientific facts, he cannot even begin to answer these sort of questions. If he doesn’t know thethe universe is over 13billion years old, if he believes the universe is only 6000 years old, how is he going to answer questions about how the age of the universe is derived?
    But see what you have done? You have constrained what can be on a science exam paper in order to accommodate the student’s religious beliefs.

    “Find out that the student understands the materials– we need understanding, not parrots.”

    How is he going to understand the material if he doesn’t even know what the material is?
    But I find it interesting that you characterise knowing the evidence based scientific facts as parrotting.
    It seems you don’t know the difference between parrotting religious dogma and learning the evidence based scientific facts.

    “It seems you think it is not possible to teach a child science without giving the child religious instruction.
    I disagree”

    So now providing knowledge about the evidence based scientific facts is called religious instruction!!!
    Did you really accuse me of a category error before!

  119. BillyJoe7on 30 Oct 2013 at 5:05 pm

    sonic,

    “I’m trying to find ways top teach science in a USA school without teaching religion.
    It seems steve12 and BJ7 think it impossible to do so”

    Why do feel the need to lie about this?

    You are trying to find ways to teach science without contradicting the religious beliefs of students.
    I am saying that it is impossible to teach science without contradicting the religious beliefs of students.
    I have made my case.
    The universe is 13.82 billion years old not 6000 years old.
    So now you are equating evidence based scientific facts to religious instruction.
    Somehow imparting the evidence based scientific fact that the universe is 13.82 billion years old is exactly the same thing as instructing him with religious dogma that the universe is 6000 years old.

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