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FYI-FTR: The “Creationists” are spreading their tainting of Science textbooks from Texas — or are they?

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A few days ago, UD News posted a comment on a scare mongering story in a British popular science magazine, on how “Creationists” in Texas were allegedly tainting textbooks through the buying power of that state.

By comments 3 and 4 we read:

First, how do they know?

I dunno, why don’t we ask… News at uncommon descent


Hilarious, wd400!

This seems to be a part of a recent wave of comments that target the UD News desk. It pivots on the ASSUMPTION that “Creationists” are tainting textbooks in Texas, and therefore the purchasing power of Texas spreads that taint far and wide.

But is that assumption really warranted?

In response this morning, I therefore noted:

I think we should distinguish (A) the fact that the two largest textbook markets — Texas and California — will naturally have a large influence through financial power, from (B) the grounds (or otherwise) of the claim that Texas’ Creationists will use such power to taint textbook contents.

You seem to assume B to be well-grounded, and then focus on A.

First, do you appreciate how a mirror psychology reading renders that? Given, that we often project to others how we tend to think?

Sobering, in light of say, Lewontin (and Sagan) reporting the views of many of the scientific elites as they see how they should influence the thinking of society:

the problem is to get [the public] to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations [–> notice the dismissive hostility taken for granted as is it were self-evidently true], and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth [[–> NB: this is a knowledge claim about knowledge and its possible sources, i.e. it is a claim in philosophy not science; it is thus self-refuting]. . . .

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 [[–> another major begging of the question . . . ] 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 [[–> i.e. here we see the fallacious, indoctrinated, ideological, closed mind . . . ], for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. [From: “Billions and Billions of Demons,” NYRB, January 9, 1997. If you think this is quoted out of context and distorted — an all too common talking point, kindly cf here in context.]

. . . and say Dawkins on the implications for morality (a further, much deeper concern):

Nature is not cruel, only pitilessly indifferent. This lesson is one of the hardest for humans to learn. We cannot accept that things might be neither good nor evil, neither cruel nor kind, but simply callous: indifferent to all suffering, lacking all purpose [–> CRD, maybe that’s because people of ordinary common good sense recognise that the world is simply not like you have imagined and see such thought as a reductio ad absurdum of materialistic ideologies] . . . .

The true utility function of life, that which is being maximized in the natural world, is DNA survival. But DNA is not floating free; it is locked up in living bodies, and it has to make the most of the levers of power at its disposal. Genetic sequences that find themselves in cheetah bodies maximize their survival by causing those bodies to kill gazelles. Sequences that find themselves in gazelle bodies increase their chance of survival by promoting opposite ends. But the same utility function-the survival of DNA-explains the “purpose” of both the cheetah [–> i.e. predator] and the gazelle [–> i.e. prey] . . . .

In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but pitiless indifference . . . . DNA neither cares nor knows. DNA just is. And we dance to its music. [“God’s Utility Function,” Sci. Am. Aug 1995, pp. 80 – 85.]

In short, a lot of people will find in such views and a priori impositions of materialism dressed up in the lab coat, strong reasons to doubt the soundness of the schemes of thought that have been aggressively pushed into textbooks under the notion that they are science. In fact, they are a priori evolutionary materialist scientism, which arguably distorts both science and ethics, not to mention pushing very questionable worldview claims.

In that context, it is very understandable that what goes into textbooks will be controversial, and is subject to debate and negotiation towards compromises that no one will be fully happy with but which people are willing to live with. So, the sort of scaremongering New Scientist has indulged comes across as known radical ideologues complaining that they are not getting all they demanded while shaking their lab coats and demanding due genuflection. Where, it is increasingly known that too often the cry “Creationists” is little more than projecting a bogeyman stereotype and ill-founded lurid and defamatory conspiracy narratives.

In addition, it just simply is a fact that science is inherently provisional and limited, due to its underlying inductive logic. Where also origins science in particular deals with a remote past that none of us have or could observe as a direct test of our reconstructions. Further — despite all too many brazen assertions and bland assurances to the contrary — the evolutionary materialist narrative of the past is indeed riddled with serious challenges starting with want of observational grounds to warrant claims that blind chance and necessity have demonstrated capacity to originate the FSCO/I (functionally specific complex organisation and/or associated information) required for origin of life and of body plans, compounding into the increasingly known contradictions across molecular trees and with the traditional Darwinist evolutionary tree of life.

So, in that context, something like this declaration by the US National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) Board in 2000 comes across in a very different way from its intent:

The principal product of science is knowledge in the form of naturalistic concepts and the laws and theories related to those concepts . . . .

Although no single universal step-by-step scientific method captures the complexity of doing science, a number of shared values and perspectives characterize a scientific approach to understanding nature. Among these are a demand for naturalistic explanations supported by empirical evidence that are, at least in principle, testable against the natural world. Other shared elements include observations, rational argument, inference, skepticism, peer review and replicability of work . . . .

Science, by definition, is limited to naturalistic methods and explanations and, as such, is precluded from using supernatural elements in the production of scientific knowledge. [[NSTA, Board of Directors, July 2000. Emphases added.]

What this boils down to is an ideologised and question begging imposition of a priori materialism on the very definition of science and its methods — intended to be taught to students in a way that induces them to swallow a lot of ideological baggage.

The contrast with say the more traditional definitions found in high quality dictionaries before this push, is illuminating:

science: a branch of knowledge conducted on objective principles involving the systematized observation of and experiment with phenomena, esp. concerned with the material and functions of the physical universe. [Concise Oxford, 1990 — and yes, they used the “z” Virginia!]

scientific method: principles and procedures for the systematic pursuit of knowledge [”the body of truth, information and principles acquired by mankind”] involving the recognition and formulation of a problem, the collection of data through observation and experiment, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses. [Webster’s 7th Collegiate, 1965]

In that light, the Texas School Board decisions in recent years to teach students on the strengths and limitations of science in general and to apply that to various theories is in fact quite reasonable. Especially in a context where we CAN document a major and sometimes ruthless push to put a priori materialistic scientism and its implicit amorality into the world’s education systems.

So, now, we can see that there is as usual more than one side to the story.

Why not go to the thread, to discuss? END