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The group’s name is innocent-sounding enough. In fact, “The National Center for Science Education” (NCSE) sounds as if the organization is serving the noble purpose of promoting science education. So what’s our concern? The group’s ostensibly positive name (and that it is “for” something) obscures the fact that the very mission of the NCSE is actually a highly negative one: to aggressively counter the creationist and intelligent design movements.1 That has been witnessed time and time again in recent weeks as NCSE staff frequently went to the press to attack AiG's Creation Museum, which eventually opened two Mondays ago.
The NCSE director, Dr. Eugenie Scott, who is based in Berkeley, California, has been on the lecture circuit, giving a stump speech against biblical creation groups and the museum, as well as those aligned with the intelligent design movement. (One of our staff members has heard her give this talk three times in the past year.)
Last month, Dr. Scott spoke to about 150 people in the Reakirt Auditorium of the architecturally rich Cincinnati Museum Center, about a 20-minute drive from AiG’s Creation Museum.
At times during her lecture (entitled "Why Universities and Museums Don't Present Creationism as Science"), Dr. Scott was affable, but with a sometimes sarcastic bite. For example, she took a cheap shot at a creationist who was put in jail for income tax fraud (a few weeks ago he was placed in solitary confinement), and the crowd giggled with glee at the man’s plight.
As it might be expected with AiG’s Creation Museum so close to the site of the lecture, Dr. Scott and some in her audience brought up the museum several times during the Q&A session. Attempting to sound an alarm, she also brought up the threat of new creation museums in Arkansas and Montana, plus ICR’s museum near San Diego.
In her stump speech, she brought up her typical anti-creation/ID points. AiG's rebuttal here will primarily take the form of a short response, and then provide you with links to our web articles that address her claims.
The statement told students that evolution is a theory, not a fact, and informed them that Intelligent Design (ID) is an alternative explanation of the origin of life.
Dr. Scott grossly overstated the prominence of ID teaching in the public schools of Dover, Pennsylvania; in fact, she spent several minutes on this. However, the Dover Area School Board simply had a policy which required ninth-grade students to hear a statement about Intelligent Design at the beginning of their biology lessons on evolution. The statement told students that evolution is a theory, not a fact, and informed them that Intelligent Design (ID) is an alternative explanation of the origin of life. Students were also referred to a book, Of Pandas and People, if they wanted to learn more about ID. That was all, and yet one hearing Scott’s lecture would have thought that the sky had fallen on Dover.
Also, Dr. Scott implied that those who disagree with AiG, in AiG’s supposed estimation, are going to hell, because the museum is allegedly “presenting a particular Christian view and it’s advocating it very, very strongly as well, as making very dogmatic statements that if your religion is different from this, you are going to go to hell.” If she’s implying that we think that only young-earth creationists go to heaven, we’ve answered that numerous times. See Is it Possible to be a Christian and an Evolutionist?
We ask Dr. Scott to document her comment that “they [the creationists] really are trying very hard to prevent their children from learning evolution in the schools. Which is why they work very hard to try to keep evolution out. Or at least if evolution has to be taught teach the evidence against evolution. [...]” We don't know of organized efforts to keep evolution out of schools, and, as a matter of fact, as long as evolution is the prevailing paradigm, we encourage creationists—actually everyone—to know as much about it as possible, thereby fully illuminating its many shortcomings (see Chopping out the “E-word?”). It's a scare tactic of Dr. Scott’s designed to rally the troops.
Dr. Scott declared that creation and ID “violate a key component of science”—and that science is limited to naturalism. Also, that one can’t “put God in a test tube”; and that “God must be put aside.” But who, we ask, has determined to put those kinds of limits on scientific inquiry? Certainly not the scores of creationist scientists throughout history and in the present who continue to provide exciting and excellent research without the need for a prior commitment to naturalism.
To rebut the young earth view, she set up a straw man (“Paluxy Man,” it could be called) to demolish. To counter the belief of creationists who believe that the world is young, as well as, for example, that dinosaurs and humans have lived at the same time, she examined the claim by [just a few creationists] that it is conclusive that dinosaur prints have been discovered alongside human footprints along the Paluxy River in Texas. A broad stroke in attempts to discredit all creationists, particularly in light of our Arguments we think creationists should NOT use, in which we discuss the Paluxy tracks.
Dr. Scott implied that creationists misuse the term theory—as if we believe theory means “guess.” While an occasional ill-informed school board member might say such a thing, that view is not held to by mainstream creationists. This is also covered in “Evolution: Not Even a Theory.”
Her lecture reminded at least two creationists in the hall of the scoffers prophesied to appear in latter times (2 Peter 3), who will deny creation and a flood. Just as sad, her naming of “Christian” schools (Baylor and Texas Christian, etc.) as accepting of evolution is a testimony to the sorry state of the church and its compromise> with the scoffers.
At least Dr. Scott encouraged the audience to do something we did not mind hearing at all: that they should visit the Creation Museum. Quickly adding, though, that: “What I would suggest is that you all go . . . Go take lots of notes and blog the h--- out of the place.”