February 13, 2006

Speeding Toward Stupidity

What should children be taught about evolution?

“Boys and girls,” Ham said. If a teacher so much as mentions evolution, or the Big Bang, or an era when dinosaurs ruled the Earth, “you put your hand up and you say, ‘Excuse me, were you there?’ Can you remember that?”

The children roared their assent. […]

“Who’s the only one who’s always been there?” Ham asked.

“God!” the boys and girls shouted.

Why walk to hell when you can run?

Beware people who have an easy answer for everything, especially if those answers sound like a bad science fiction novel:

Ham encourages people to further their research with the dozens of books and DVDs sold by his ministry. They give answers to every question a critic might ask: How did Noah fit dinosaurs on the ark? He took babies. Why didn’t a tyrannosaur eat Eve? All creatures were vegetarians until Adam’s sin brought death into the world. How can we have modern breeds of dog like the poodle if God finished his work 6,000 years ago? He created a dog “kind” — a master blueprint — and let evolution take over from there.

I have argued with friends that this new dark age of reason is not going to win. And I was pretty confident, especially with recent the court rulings.

But I’m a little less sure of it after more reading.

[Update: Whoops. Forgot to include the link to the source, an LA Times article]

Posted by James at February 13, 2006 7:31 PM
Create Social Bookmark Links

That first quote is a good argument against history or anything that happened yesterday in another part of the world. I wasn't there so it can't be true.

I'm moving to Europe.

Posted by: Mike L. at February 14, 2006 12:17 PM

I hear Australia is nice.

Perhaps it's time to start saving for that island nation.

Posted by: briwei at February 14, 2006 12:36 PM

Hey, this just means that conservatives will be locked out of all the good biotech jobs in the next few decades.

Posted by: DG at February 14, 2006 12:49 PM

This Rassir-frassir is from Australia, which just shows to go ya that idiots can be found anywhere. But we knew that, people. And you can probably shout just about anything, smart-aleck style, at second graders and get a very enthusiastic response, because it's better than listening to a dull lecture or using their actual brains, which can be painful the first few times out.

Teachers just need to turn around the questions with questions --
Brat: "Were you actually there?"
Teacher: "No, so how should we figure out what happened?"
Brat: "ASK GOD!"
Teacher: "Okay, let's try that." (Look around.) "Where's God, Brat, so we can ask Him?"
Brat: "Look in the bible."
Teacher: "The bible was written by people. Suppose we look at all sources written by people..."

Or maybe, "Why are the bible's answers different from the evidence we see in the earth?" I doubt a second-grader has the ability to reason the omphalos argument, but if he does, I'd say, "did God put the fossils in the earth for us to ignore them?" Or I'd argue the usefulness of the information we achieve through scientific methods...

...Or whatever... there are so many ways it can go. But at this point I'd hope that the less smart-alecky cogs would start turning in the classroom, and the Brat would be discredited in front of his peers. If not, the kids are hopeless anyway.

I'm very pleased with K's fifth-grade texts, which present, for example, three different answers to a question (such as how did the first humans end up in the Americas), and discusses the people who are proponents of each theory. It teaches the children to look at the source and look at the evidence. But it doesn't say which one to believe, it just teaches them to question. Questioning, of course, is good. Shouting smart-alecky responses by rote, bad.

Posted by: Maggie at February 14, 2006 3:03 PM

Oh, or maybe I should say... questioning... priceless. For shouting smart-alecky responses by rote, you need your Visa card. 'Cuz this guy ain't free. And maybe I'd ask the kid why that is.

Posted by: Maggie at February 14, 2006 3:04 PM

Excellent point.

Posted by: James at February 14, 2006 4:29 PM

Copyright © 1999-2007 James P. Burke. All Rights Reserved