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The first article in a two part series discussing what happened at the 172nd meeting of the AAAS last month.
Part 1 | Part 2
What I heard and saw last month at the 172nd national meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in St. Louis is of great importance to all who are concerned about biblical Christianity and the future of public education in America. Christians be warned! Evolutionists—in the name of so-called “science”—have challenged us to nothing less than a battle for men’s souls.
The AAAS is the world’s largest general scientific society, and its annual meeting (this year it was February 16-20) comprises well over a hundred different seminars and symposia, covering every imaginable field of science and pseudoscience, from “Stem Cell Research” to “Astrobiology” (the “study” of life forms around distant stars!).
A major theme this year was the growing battle between creationism and evolutionism in America’s public schools. In several different symposia with titles like “Anti-Evolutionism in America” and “Science under Attack,” dozens of speakers raised a strident and angry denunciation of Christian “fundamentalists” who, they claim, seek the end of all science!
In one session, titled “Constitutional Principles and Legal Strategies in the Creation and Evolution Debates” (sponsored by the American Bar Association), lawyers crowed over their victories against “intelligent design (ID)” and “creationism” in recent court battles with school districts in Dover, Pennsylvania, and Cobb County, Georgia. Apparently the AAAS is counting on lawyers to continue to keep our public schools a “God-free” zone.
Raymond Eve from the University of Texas at Arlington reported on how a belief in creation and a young earth correlates with many politically “incorrect” views such as opposition to homosexual behavior. Eve evoked disdainful laughter from the audience when he mentioned such matters as the “fundamentalists’” belief in God, angels, the devil, prophecy and the return of Christ. Eve’s biggest concern in future court battles, however, is not the “fundamentalists,” but what he calls “ratchet evolutionists.” These are people who accept evolutionism but reject “strict naturalism.” Presumably, even a belief in evolutionism is not enough if it is not accompanied by an unquestioning belief in a philosophy of crass materialism.
Jay Wexler from Boston University declared that teaching intelligent design is unconstitutional because it’s “religion,” though he conceded that the Supreme Court has yet to define religion. Still, Wexler felt that we could “defuse” the creation/evolution controversy if America’s public schools were to “teach about religion.” What he has in mind, of course, is that all religions would be granted equal coverage and taught as mythology. While Wexler applauded the decision of Federal Judge Jones in the Dover case that intelligent design is “breathtaking inanity” and “not science,” he was leery of judges deciding what is science and what is not, lest it “come back to haunt us.”
Steven Gey of Florida State University exhibited anger and sarcasm against ID and creationism as he spoke on “Field Strategies: What Proponents of Evolution Need to Know.” Gey insisted that we don’t even have to decide what is and is not science when it comes to ID, since “everyone agrees that whatever science is, this ain’t it.” Gey warned that one of the strategies the ID proponents are now trying in the courts is to ask that high school teachers be permitted to critically evaluate the evidence for evolution, but he insisted that teachers below the university level “have no academic freedom” to do this, and angrily declared: “You do not have the academic right to be incompetent.”
Gey said that the decision of Judge Jones against teaching ID in Dover was “great because it scares … the school boards.” He said that school districts can’t afford to go to court over teaching ID because when they lose, they have to pay for all the legal expenses, and quipped that “lawyers make $500 an hour” and “eat at expensive restaurants.”
Like Wexler, Gey also proposed that teachers should be taught how to “teach about religion” in our public schools in the hope of preventing a conflict between religion and evolutionism. His solution is that we teach how religion itself evolved and ask our students questions such as: “Why are you a Baptist?”
The program description for a symposium titled “Science Under Attack” reported with alarm that “Recent data indicates a growth in public support for biblical explanations and a growing reliance on prayer and religious explanation.” Several speakers in this symposium implied that this will have to stop if there is to be any hope for science and, indeed, the future of America.
The lead-off speaker in this symposium was Eugenie Scott, head of the anti-creationist organization pretentiously called the “National Center for Science Education” (NCSE) and the darling of evolutionary dogmatists everywhere. Scott lamented that education policy and curriculum is decentralized in over 17,000 school districts in the United States, and proposed that the science curriculum be centralized. No doubt her NCSE stands ready to set the science guidelines for such a national curriculum.
Scott lashed out against the suggestion of the ID movement to “teach the controversy” regarding evolutionism, insisting that there is no controversy among those (she feels are) entitled to an opinion. She regards all scientific criticism of evolutionary dogma in the classroom to be “religious” because “if you denigrate evolution, then God did it” so you are really “sneaking creationism into the curriculum.” Although most evolutionists have, in the past, argued that evidence against evolution does not imply evidence for creation, incredibly Scott asked, “What other designer other than God could have made all this complexity?” Those in the ID movement who ingenuously deny that they have God in mind as the designer could learn something from Scott—what other designer, after all, is there that could have made the heavens and the earth and all its inhabitants? We can be certain it wasn’t the mindless and purposeless process of random evolution that Scott imagines.
Jon Miller of Northwestern University spoke on what he called “The Erosion of Public Acceptance of Modern Science in the United States.” Having convinced himself that the public support for science in America has been waning over the last several years, Miller puzzled over the incongruous fact that for the last 60 years, America has been a leader in science and that Americans, in fact, generously support science and eagerly adopt new technology. He conceded that the reservations that Americans have regarding “science” are largely confined to evolutionism and embryonic stem cell research. Still, he said, it was shocking that only about 13% of Americans are convinced that evolution is true and lamented that no other country in the world rejects evolutionism to the degree that Americans do. Miller concluded that “fundamentalism” is behind this rejection of “modern science” (i.e., evolutionism). He defined “fundamentalism” as the belief that the Bible is the Word of God and that there is a personal God who hears the prayers of individuals.
Shirley Malcom, head of AAAS Education and Resources, believes that Americans are willing to accept science until it involves a “clash of values” or has “politically unacceptable implications.” Along with others, she proposed that we must reach the young children because early education in science (i.e., evolutionism) is essential for “adult literacy.” Roger Bybee, Executive Director of the Biological Science Curriculum Study (BSCS), which, over the past 40 years, has developed evolution-laced biology textbooks, agreed, suggesting that “school programs should introduce concepts fundamental to evolution beginning in elementary grades.”
Gerald Wheeler, Secretary and Executive Director of the National Science Teachers Association and a strong advocate for evolutionism, admitted that “every time I support evolution I get hate mail.” Wheeler declared that “teachers lack knowledge of evolution” and that colleges are “doing a dreadful job of teaching science [i.e., evolutionism] to teachers.” Despite the heavy indoctrination in evolutionism that most students get in the course of their education, many conference participants blamed teachers (and those involved in teacher training) for the failure of Americans to believe in evolutionism. Wheeler says that the two messages he tries to get across to his creationist critics are: (1) “evolution is necessary for America to remain competitive” in the world, and (2) “it is not fair to teach students about nonscientific ideas.”
In part 2 (tomorrow): An evolutionist speaks better of creationists than ID advocates, a church leader calls a literal belief in Scripture “a plague” … and more.