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Ch. 5 - Eliminating Evolution, Inventing Creation Science 
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Post Ch. 5 - Eliminating Evolution, Inventing Creation Science
Chapter 5 is entitled, Eliminating Evolution, Inventing Creation Science. Please use this thread to discuss it. ::204




Sun Oct 01, 2006 9:47 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 5 - Eliminating Evolution, Inventing Creation Scienc
I found it interesting that the fundamentalist objection to evolution was in part fueled by the association of WWI Germany to both Higher Criticism and evolution/eugenics. Just another one of those cases in which historical circumstances influence that public perception of a given idea. The same goes, to some degree, for the lionization of social Darwinism among American captains of industry. The disenfranchised lower classes certainly couldn't be expected to exhibit whole-hearted enthusiasm for an idea that was evoked by industrialists like Rockefellar and Carnegie to justify their own high economic status in contrast to that of the poor.

In an only vaguely related aside, I found it interesting that the business association of Dayton, Ohio was so instrumental in starting the Scopes trial.

There's a passage on p. 100 that I think emblemizes the way in which perceptions of the creationist/evolution debate are shaped. Scott writes: "Creation Science argues that there are only two views, (Special) Creationism or evolution; thus arguments against evolution are arguments in favor of creationism." I think this hardline view also contributes to the public perception of Creationists as a far more populous and unified group than they really are. It has the tendency to make it seem as though any skepticism about evolution is part of an organized Creationist campaign. Actually (and Scott's rather extensive list of Creation Scientists might mislead on this point), Creation Science supporters are a pretty small group, divided along the fault lines of certain issues, who make a very concerted effort to vocalize their views.

I also find it interesting that there's a kind of intellectual evolution going on within Christian science, where the constraints of the legal system form a kind of environmental pressure, acting much like natural selection. What I mean is, Scott points out near the end of this chapter that Creationist attempts to pass legislation tends to run in cycles that are characterized by changes in legal strategies. Equal representation, Creation Science, the omission of reference to "creation" -- these are subsequent developments, not part of one unified strategy. And the result, it would seem to me, must act both ways. It may change the Creation Science advocates chances of passing legislature, but the effect of changing the way you talk about a subject may also result in changes in the way you think about it. I wonder if Creation Scientists still think of Special Creation the way they did 100, 50, even 10 years ago.




Sun Oct 15, 2006 10:14 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 5 - Eliminating Evolution, Inventing Creation Scienc
It is quite interesting that the political spectrums supporting evolution have reversed in modern society. Scott points out that Bryan, the one arguing against evolution in the Scopes trial, was a LIBERAL, and that part of the reason for denying evolution in those days was for its association with authoritarian evils like eugenics and laissez-faire capitalism. So it is odd to think that back in the day conservatives and those on the far right of the political compass were misrepresenting evolution as "survival of the fittest" as if it somehow justified exploitation, and that nowadays they tend to deny evolution and favor misrepresenting it as a "theory in crisis". I had not realized that evolution had been seen as such a social evil to this extent. Who knew Social Darwinism had made such a stir?

I also had not realized the communist threat had jump-started the teaching of evolution by scaring people into doing good science. This explanation sounds quite plausible, too. It seems to me that people must be desperate and fearful of some lingering enemy across the seas to respect science to such a degree that we'd want to teach evolution! I never thought I'd say this, but now I'll say it: Thank God for Communists! Where would we be without them? Would we be teaching the "talking snake" theory?

As far as the "three prongs" issue goes in determining whether something is unconstitutional, I feel a little uneasy. I understand the purpose of the separation of church and state, but I'm not so sure that should be the main reason it isn't taught. It shouldn't be taught, in my mind, because it is simply not scientific and there is no evidence for it. We don't need to invoke any separation of church and state to make the case against creationism, in other words. One can simply refuse to teach it on pedagogical grounds, and that should be that.




Fri Oct 20, 2006 11:07 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 5 - Eliminating Evolution, Inventing Creation Scienc
Saint Gasoline: I had not realized that evolution had been seen as such a social evil to this extent. Who knew Social Darwinism had made such a stir?

If you're interested in the history of evolution theory's adoption by conservative capitalists, you might check out Richard Hofstadter's "Social Darwinism in American Thought". Hofstadter is a fascinating historian in his own right, and the book is one of the classics in the history of science's effect on popular culture. The more you read about the Creationist/Darwinist controversy, the more you're likely to run into references to that book.

I also had not realized the communist threat had jump-started the teaching of evolution by scaring people into doing good science.

Sputnik is widely cited as the event that deflibulated our educational system. Later, the Asian economic come-back added further impetus, just as the cold war was ceasing to influence us as much.

As far as the "three prongs" issue goes in determining whether something is unconstitutional, I feel a little uneasy. I understand the purpose of the separation of church and state, but I'm not so sure that should be the main reason it isn't taught.

I'm fine with that idea, although, I think we may differ on the big reasons for why Creationism shouldn't be taught in schools. My reason is that our system is founded in large part on not confusing secular institutions with religious institutions. To some degree, I think that distinction is artificial, but its artificiality is no reason to abandon the attempt.

It shouldn't be taught, in my mind, because it is simply not scientific and there is no evidence for it.

The problem with that, I think, is that the pedological grounds are premised in large part on the idea of a secular society. That is to say, that we might not find it so easy to insist on a particular criteria for what does and does not qualify as scientific if we don't assume from square one some hard and fast rule for distinguishing the secular from the religious.




Sat Oct 21, 2006 3:26 pm
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