Evolution Opponents Duck Into the Punch

Evolution Opponents Duck Into the Punch February 15, 2008

The more we see from those who are crusading against the new proposed science standards in Florida, the more obvious it is that those new standards are necessary to improve the state of science education in that state. Those who are campaigning against those standards have consistently displayed precisely the kind of rank ignorance of science that make those new standards crucial. A commenter left this transcript of what one man said during the public comment time on the new standards recently:

Now I have in my hand an orange. I was about to eat this orange yesterday, but before I did I sat down and read about this evolution stuff. I learned that this orange is actually my first cousin. I didn’t want to eat the orange no more. So now I’m going to give it to you people on the committee, and you can eat it if you want. But if you do decide to eat it, it shows that you don’t believe in this evolution either. And we shouldn’t be teaching our kids something no one believes.

Stunningly stupid. But the leaders of organizations opposed to the new standards have done no better. Look at this quote found in a Worldnutdaily article, which demonstrates the latest absurd creationist meme. They’re now comparing mainstream scientific consensus to the flat earth society.

Pastor Neal Ganzel Jr., of Ormond Beach, Fla., wasn’t so restrained in his criticism of the emphasis the new standards place on evolutionary theory.

He called Darwinian science the “reigning” theory of the day but said the committee members “arrogantly assume that this one theory is the final and only model for the explanation of the existence and variety of species…”

“People have made this kind of mistake before,” he said. “May I remind us all that Alchemy was once the ruling theory of science? Newton and Galileo gave us one authoritative understanding of time, then came Einstein and relativity. The human family has been embarrassed many times by versions of the Flat Earth Society,” he said.

Uh, no. Alchemy was never the “ruling theory in science.” Alchemy was never a theory at all. And it has to be pointed out once again that these arguments are all examples of special pleading. Every single scientific theory that are mentioned in the science standards are taught in exactly the same way. They all represent the “reigning theories of the day.” Yet only evolution is complained about. Why? Not because the evidence is any weaker for evolution but because evolution is the one that conflicts with their religious views.

And it gets worse:

John Stemberger, chief of the Florida Family Policy Council, told WND the “Neaderthals” are fighting hard to prevent the introduction of information into public schools that would contradict their belief in evolution.

“It’s apparent that evolution has become almost like one of the prongs of the Apostles’ Creed for the secular humanists. They guard it as if they were guarding a doctrinal truth,” he said. “They’re not open to discussion and debate and examination of evidence.”

The statement triggering the protests would be mandated for all schools, teachers and students in Florida if the state board adopts the standards in a vote scheduled Feb. 19. It says, “Evolution is the fundamental concept underlying all of biology and is supported by multiple forms of scientific evidence.”

That, Stemberger said, leaves those open to scientific debate “in the position that Galileo was in, when he was trying to establish an order of the day and come against the Flat Earth Society.”

For crying out loud, Galileo didn’t have a damn thing to do with the flat earth society, which did not exist at the time. Stemberger is confusing belief in a flat earth with belief in geocentricity, which are not the same thing. Again, he demonstrates perfectly the need for better science teaching in Florida public schools.

As for this ridiculous framing of the argument as Christians vs “secular humanists”, this is pure balderdash. Every single scientific theory mentioned in those standards is atheistic in precisely the same manner; that is, every single scientist working on those theories adheres to methodological naturalism. That is every bit as true of the theory of gravity as it is the theory of evolution.

Why, then, is Stemberger not disparaging gravitational theory as “one of the prongs of the Apostles’ Creed for the secular humanists”? Why isn’t he complaining that the standards don’t allow equal time for those who doubt gravity (and they do exist)? Again, it’s because evolution conflicts with his religious beliefs. And that is the only reason. They will never apply their reasoning consistently because they know it will make them look absurd.

Here’s maybe the dumbest public comment, left on a newspaper forum by Bob W and quoted by the Worldnutdaily:

“Evolution has never qualified as anything more than a theory. The theory caters to secular thought and the presupposition that man is the highest order of all beings. But the problem is that none of what the theory promotes has ever been observed, much less proved. No transitional forms, no new species and no new anything. … Evolution is such a mass of mumbo (sixty billon years ago) jumbo (the mountain turned upside down), that most folks taught this stuff still have no idea of what it is. They have to replay their Jurassic Park DVD to refresh their memory. Think of the markets that feed off this nonsense and folk’s pocketbooks. Well, gotta go. Two Yugos just wrecked outside my window and I want to see the new Caddies that resulted – that’s evolution.”

Ladies and gentlemen, I rest my case. These ridiculous and ignorant statements are proof, beyond all rational doubt, of the need for better science education in Florida. The more those who are crusading against the new standards continue to make stupid claims like these, the more they duck into the punch and prove their opponents correct.

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