Without evidence of benefit, an intervention should not be presumed to be beneficial or safe.

- Rogue Medic

Do Creationists have any clue about science? Part I

Our standards for education and science are repeatedly criticized, and occasionally modified, by those who do not have much of an understanding of education and have even less understanding of science.

For example –

“I would hope that creationism is presented as a theory in the classroom, in a science classroom, alongside evolution,” Sen. David Givens, R-Greensburg, said Tuesday in an interview.[1]

Why would Creationism be presented in a science classroom?

Creationism is a theory

an idea that you believe is true although you have no proof.[2]

That general definition of theory appears to be the sense that Sen. Givens intends, but it has nothing to do with the way the word theory is used by scientists.

Creationism is not a scientific theory.

When theory is used as a science term, it has a much more specific meaning.

Terms Used in Describing the Nature of Science*

Fact: In science, an observation that has been repeatedly confirmed and for all practical purposes is accepted as “true.” Truth in science, however, is never final, and what is accepted as a fact today may be modified or even discarded tomorrow.

Hypothesis: A tentative statement about the natural world leading to deductions that can be tested. If the deductions are verified, it becomes more probable that the hypothesis is correct. If the deductions are incorrect, the original hypothesis can be abandoned or modified. Hypotheses can be used to build more complex inferences and explanations.

Law: A descriptive generalization about how some aspect of the natural world behaves under stated circumstances.

Theory: In science, a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate facts, laws, inferences, and tested hypotheses.
The contention that evolution should be taught as a “theory, not as a fact” confuses the common use of these words with the scientific use. In science, theories do not turn into facts through the accumulation of evidence. Rather, theories are the end points of science. They are understandings that develop from extensive observation, experimentation, and creative reflection. They incorporate a large body of scientific facts, laws, tested hypotheses, and logical inferences. In this sense, evolution is one of the strongest and most useful scientific theories we have.

* Adapted from Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science by the National Academy of Sciences (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1998).[3]

Does Sen. Givens not understand the scientific meaning, or is he just lying in order to promote his agenda, or is it a bit of both, or is there some other explanation for Sen. Givens’ ignorant statement?

That definition of scientific theory is pretty clear, even if it is not short.

A scientific theory is the part of science that has withstood repeated attempts to discredit it. Science is about attempting to find problems with hypotheses, not about making excuses for failed ideas.

“I think we are very committed to being able to take Kentucky students and put them on a report card beside students across the nation,” Givens said. “We’re simply saying to the ACT people we don’t want what is a theory to be taught as a fact in such a way it may damage students’ ability to do critical thinking.”[1]

Sen. Givens appears to be claiming that critical thinking is the equivalent of saying I don’t like it – as long as he agrees with the criticism.

Givens said he was satisfied with the response by ACT officials and state Education Commissioner Terry Holliday that evolution was being taught as a theory.[1]

Another committee member, Rep. Ben Waide, seems to be trying to make Sen. givens look almost smart by coming up with even more ignorant statements.

“The theory of evolution is a theory, and essentially the theory of evolution is not science — Darwin made it up,” Waide said. “My objection is they should ensure whatever scientific material is being put forth as a standard should at least stand up to scientific method. Under the most rudimentary, basic scientific examination, the theory of evolution has never stood up to scientific scrutiny.”[1]

Rep. Waide appears to be beyond help, at least beyond reality. Ignorance is bliss, until that ignorance leads to harm.

The saddest part of this is that these two legislators probably represent a lot of people who think the same way.

This is not science.

This is fraud.


Image credit.

Science is a particular way of knowing about the world. In science, explanations are limited to those based on observations and experiments that can be substantiated by other scientists. Explanations that cannot be based on empirical evidence are not a part of science.[4]

The various creation myths are not a part of science and should not be taught as science. To present these myths as science is a lie.

Correction (5/16/2019) – Many of the links in the table below are no longer to creation myth sites. Wikipedia has a page listing just over 100 creation myths. I am not going to repeat them here. Wikipedia is good at keeping links, and other information, up to date.

List of creation myths at Wikipedia.

That Over one hundred is a lot of material to cover in class devoted to Creationism, but none of it belongs in a science class without scientific evidence. Where is the evidence?

Science does not stop examining something just because we know a lot about it. Science is about continually questioning and learning more.

The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) strongly supports the position that evolution is a major unifying concept in science and should be included in the K–12 science education frameworks and curricula. Furthermore, if evolution is not taught, students will not achieve the level of scientific literacy they need. This position is consistent with that of the National Academies, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and many other scientific and educational organizations.

NSTA also recognizes that evolution has not been emphasized in science curricula in a manner commensurate to its importance because of official policies, intimidation of science teachers, the general public’s misunderstanding of evolutionary theory, and a century of controversy. In addition, teachers are being pressured to introduce creationism, “creation science,” and other nonscientific views, which are intended to weaken or eliminate the teaching of evolution.[6]

Evoltion is not an easy subject to understand, but pretending that we can just declare anything we want to be science, based on a lack of understanding,or a lack of acceptance, does not make understanding evolution any easier.

This just makes it harder for American high school graduates to compete for jobs in science, especially any science related to biology. Are we trying to outsource science jobs to other countries?

Medicine is a field of science, not a field of mythology, except for the alternative medicine quacks.
Do Creationists have any clue about science? Part I

Do Creationists have any clue about science? Part II

Do Creationists have any clue about science? Part III

Shooting the messenger isn’t going to change the science – Do Creationists have any clue about science? Part IV

Do Creationists have any clue about science? Part V

Do Creationists have any clue about science? Part VI

Do Creationists have any clue about science? Part VII

The Age of the Earth – Do Creationists have any clue about science? Part VIII

Footnotes:

[1] Kentucky’s GOP lawmakers question standards for teaching evolution in schools
Linda B. Blackford
The Lexington Herald-Leader
Posted on Wed, Aug. 15, 2012 06:27 AM
Article

[2] theory
Macmillan Dictionary
Definition 3
Definition

[3] Introduction
Science and Creationism: A View from the National Academy of Sciences
Second Edition (1999)
National Academy of Sciences (NAS)
Page 2
On line version of book

[4] Introduction
Science and Creationism: A View from the National Academy of Sciences
Second Edition (1999)
National Academy of Sciences (NAS)
Page 1
On line version of book

[5] Creation Myths
Magic Tails
Web page – This is also a dead link.

A good link is from Wikipedia:

List of creation myths at Wikipedia

[6] The Teaching of Evolution
National Science Teachers Association
NSTA Official Positions
Introduction
Position statement

.

Comments

  1. Maybe you should read some of the science books and journals that support creation, before you make these insulting remarks. You might be surprised to find out how many scientists support creationism.

    • Gwalter.

      Maybe you should read some of the science books and journals that support creation, before you make these insulting remarks.

      That is one of the differences between science and everything else.

      Real scientists do not consider criticism to be insulting.

      Criticism is an essential part of science.

      You might be surprised to find out how many scientists support creationism.

      There is no valid scientific evidence for Creationism.

      Even Dr. Michael Behe, the best scientist the Creationists could come up with for the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District trial, admitted this.

      Intelligent Design is the legal loophole that was being used to misrepresent Creationism as science.

      Question – But you are clear, under your definition, the definition that sweeps in intelligent design, astrology is also a scientific theory, correct?

      Behe – Yes, that is correct.

      Dr. Behe may give different answers when he is not sworn in, but throughout the trial his answers were essentially the same.

      Creationism is as valid a science as astrology, or any other pseudoscience.

      If you have valid science supporting any of the Creation myths, please provide it.

      .

  2. Amen.

  3. The interesting thing, Rogue, is that within many of these creation myths lies the very science you speak of. One of many examples would be the Kumulipo (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kumulipo) which is the Hawaiian creation myth. It traces the exact evolutionary track that we recognize today!

    I still say it goes both ways. We have a lot of science in our myths and we’ve STILL got a hell of a lot of myth in our science!

    • firetender,

      The interesting thing, Rogue, is that within many of these creation myths lies the very science you speak of. One of many examples would be the Kumulipo (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kumulipo) which is the Hawaiian creation myth. It traces the exact evolutionary track that we recognize today!

      There are similarities, but I suspect that the term exact is much more than an exaggeration.

      I still say it goes both ways. We have a lot of science in our myths and we’ve STILL got a hell of a lot of myth in our science!

      Mythology is only badly done science or the absence of science.

      Well done science is not mythology.

      Mythology is the belief in things not supported by valid evidence. That is the opposite of science.

      .

Trackbacks

  1. […] Apparently, Mr. Cooper has no understanding of science or the difference between the definition of scientific theory and the common use of theory, that has nothing to do with science. I explained this in Part I. […]

  2. […] many of the dozens of Creation myths i listed in Part I should be covered in a class that is supposed to be teaching science, not […]