Thursday, March 19, 2009

“Sowing Atheism” On Don McLeroy’s SBOE Recommended Reading List

In preparation for next week’s “final showdown” on the teaching of evolution in Texas public schools (honestly, I thought the final showdown took place in 1925 in Tennessee), Texas State Board of Education chairman and avowed young-Earth creationist, Don McLeroy, has a new book that he’d like the 15 members of the Texas school board to take a look at before they render a final vote on the wording that will set in stone for the next ten years how evolution will be taught in Texas public schools.

At issue is the “strengths and weaknesses” doctrine whereby students are asked to make educated judgments on how well, or how poorly a scientific theory, or even a scientific principle is supported by scientific evidence and observation.

A task that would daunt a university graduate student, let alone an 8th grader whose agility in text messaging far outpaces his astuteness in the area of evaluation of scientific theory.

“Strengths and weaknesses” was voted out of the curriculum by a bare majority back in January, when the board last met to discuss this issue.

Nevertheless, McLeroy is bent on educating his flock, and help them see the light, by recommending that they read the book, Sowing Atheism: The National Academy Of Sciences’ Sinister Scheme To Teach Our Children They’re Descended From Reptiles as we see here. And they don’t even have to buy the book. They can download the entire book on .PDF, much to the dismay of which is trying to sell it to make money for its stockholders by hawking the book for $12.95.

I’ve read parts of this book. It was written with the chief intent of refuting the 2008 National Academy of Sciences book Science, Evolution, and Creationism. A book, they say, that has been sent “to every public school principal and every science teacher in America” (I’m still waiting for my copy). Sowing Atheism has lots of inflammatory statements in it. Here are but a few:

“These are farmers of darkness, plowing into the minds of our children, planting their poisonous seeds of elitist atheistic evolution. Their deception is so systematized, so interwoven with bits of truth, that it is difficult for unwary readers to see with immediate clarity the false syllogism which animates the entire content of the NAS book.”

“The Greek word translated as stupid is moron, where we get our word for a mentally dull and sluggish person. In my judgment, only morons—more than 11,500 [Christian pastors] morons in this case—could sign a letter maintaining that the “timeless truths of the Bible” are compatible with the billions of unpredictable aberrations of evo-atheism. What do these apostate morons celebrate at their Sunday services, the lies about humanity’s origins told by Moses, Jesus, and Paul?”

“Indeed, the NAS hierarchy pushes its evo-atheistic religion in the classroom with “ferocity,” and with a zeal that’s hardly matched in Christianity. We can’t properly call them evangelical, however, because that word comes from the Greek eu-angellion, meaning literally, well-message, more commonly, good news. Teaching children or adults that they are descended from reptiles is never good news. We should call evo-atheists mal-angelical, because it accurately describes what they’re doing: spreading hopelessly bad religious news.”

Now here is what I hope. I hope that the 15 members of the Texas school board take Don McLeroy’s suggestion to heart, and read this book from cover to cover. I couldn’t this morning because I am working with an empty stomach. But I want them to read the book and get out of it what I have been able to get from it. That this attempt by McLeroy and others of his ilk is nothing more than a naked assault on science by evangelical Christians. An action that completely supports, in the opposite sense, the whole point of Chapter 7 of the book that McLeroy recommends.

This effort to change how science is taught in Texas, specifically how evolution is taught, is nothing more than an assault on the “Establishment clause” of the 1st Amendment to the US Constitution. An attempt to bring the Christian religion back into the public school system.

And we all have Don McLeroy to thank for pointing this out by recommending this book.


Robert Bowie Johnson, Jr. said...

Please ignore all references to "religion" or "Christianity" or "Creationism."

Scientifically speaking,
The NAS admits it has no "plausible hypothesis" for the origin of life.
The NAS can produce no evidence for the alleged evolution of the sexes.
Out of the 2 million or so species, the NAS cannot pick one, and identify, with evidence, the species from which it allegedly evolved.

Please correct me if I am wrong about these three things. If I am right, there is no evidence for evolution, is there? It is very unscientific to refer to evolution as a "fact" (as the NAS does) when there is no evidence for it.

Meditate upon that, and that alone, please. Nothing else is really relevant in this "scientific" debate.

Hal said...

Mr Johnson, as you asked, I will correct you, because you are wrong about those three things. Not because I think that the National Academy of Sciences has an idea about the origin of life, the evolution of the sexes or whether they can pick one species and identify its antecedent.

I don't.

Frankly I have no idea what the National Academy of Sciences claims it can do. As someone who has dealt with these things in the past, I can tell you that no one there is really concerned with answering those questions.

That, to my knowledge, isn't what they are in the business of doing.

Where you are in error, Mr. Johnson, is in your assumption that any one of those three things has anything to do with the biological principle of evolution.

I agree, that referring to evolution as a "fact" is more political than scientific. It is a reach to label anything other than data or observations as facts.

Evolution is not a fact, it is a biological principle. A biological principle is akin to a law of nature, but since we're talking biology, here, laws in biology were meant to be broken. Hence the term biological principle.

A biological principle attempts to state what happens, not why or how it happens. Evolution is known to have occurred. This is not something anyone but those with a religious bias denies.

How it happens, or why, or how the sexes differentiated are not "what" questions. Hypotheses and theories handle these aspects.

Meditate on just that. Ask yourself what is it in you that denies what is obvious to anyone who has held a fossil in their hand. Anyone who has noticed how things keep on developing in similar ways throughout the geologic record.

And if in answering that question, you arrive at your accepted fact that things have similar features because they had a single creator, then we know what is at the root of your scientific inquiry.

And it isn't science.

Duke said...

Many thanks for the information about the distribution of the book and your critical review.
Like you, I'm concerned about education in Texas and became aware of your site after doing a Google search on "McLeroy + SBOE". I don't know if you were the first site that came up on the search but you were first site I visited. I was prompted to go back to the source, the article you posted and eventually downloaded the book and posted a review on Amazon. When I finish here I'm going to go back to Amazon to see if you posted there also.

I either missed it or missed the significance of it last night but I see today that Johnson, the author of the book, has read your remarks and posted his reaction. I've been dismissive of McLeroy -- I read how his wife made getting religion a condition for getting a little sex -- and was equally dismissive of Johnson at the outset but now that I've slept on it I'm seeing him a little differently. Here's a quote I posted to another religious acquaintance a couple of days ago:
Ghosts are unscientific. They contain no matter and have
no energy and therefore according to the laws of science,
do not exist except in people' minds. Of course,the laws
of science contain no matter and have no energy either
and therefore do not exist except in people's minds,... It's
best to refuse to believe in either ghosts or the laws of
--Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Quoted on page 136, From Archimedes to Hawkings by Pickover

So perhaps he's simply sharing his current state of thinking. As an old American pragmatist I can concede that his thinking may have as much utility for him as mine does for me. The caveat is that I've read Korzybski's Science and Sanity and am inclined to give the nod to science but I know people can live happy lives on the other side of the street.

Hal said...

I see, Duke, that you are also handicapped by a sense of fair play. Being able to see two sides of every issue.

Where I draw the line, however, is in dealing with those who cannot or will not see both sides. For them I show no mercy and am partisan to the bitter end.

However, your point is well-taken and I agree. Those who make it work every day with their beliefs, and are perfectly happy that way are just fine with me. There is no way that I would ever want to convince them of their error if their beliefs make them happy and no harm comes of it. I do take issue with those who go further on and attempt to impose their ideas on others, especially in taxpayer-supported institutions. In those situations and in our multi-cultural society, imposition of personal religious beliefs has no place.