June 04, 2008

Don McElroy and the Universe-Making Baby Hypothesis: the Creationist Alternative to Science

Today's New York Times carries an article by Laura Beil that's fairly unremarkable in most ways to those of use who follow the fundamentalist war against science education in America. Opponents of Evolution Adopting New Strategy goes over relatively familiar ground, discussing how Creationists have historically shifted strategies in their effort to remove evolutionary biology, that bugaboo that threatens their insecure faith-based worldview, from schools. It discusses the latest such strategy, the "strengths and weaknesses" gambit and points out the difference between religion and science and the profound ignorance that Creationists seek to perpetuate about how science works by way of this strategy.

However, the article also contains some choice quotes from Don McElroy, DDS, the Creationist chair of Texas' state board of education who would appear to have given up breathing oxygen in favor of sucking continuously from the nitrous tanks in his office.

Don McElroy's alternative to scienceDr. McLeroy, the board chairman, sees the debate as being between "two systems of science."

"You've got a creationist system and a naturalist system," he said.

Dr. McLeroy believes that Earth's appearance is a recent geologic event — thousands of years old, not 4.5 billion. "I believe a lot of incredible things," he said, "The most incredible thing I believe is the Christmas story. That little baby born in the manger was the god that created the universe."
Everybody has the right to believe in whatever cockamamie stories they want to. Hey, this is America, land of the free and home of the bizarre. However, people who elevate their favorite mythology over reason, logic and centuries of scientific progress have no business in positions wherein they have an impact on the education of our students and thereby do generational damage to the country. I would question the sanity of anyone who believes that a baby poofed the universe into existence. When that person is the chair of a state, or even local, board of education, and makes statements of belief like this, they invite public scrutiny. A public that doesn't find such a belief dangerously out of touch with reality is one that is already in big trouble when it comes to the education of its children.

Beil's article continues:
But Dr. McLeroy says his rejection of evolution — "I just don't think it's true or it's ever happened" — is not based on religious grounds. Courts have clearly ruled that teachings of faith are not allowed in a science classroom, but when he considers the case for evolution, Dr. McLeroy said, "it's just not there."

"My personal religious beliefs are going to make no difference in how well our students are going to learn science," he said.
McElroy thinks there's no evidence for evolution but leaps at the opportunity to advance his notion that a baby from Israel made the planet and everything that lives on it?

Of course, we have here another instance of lying for DA LAWD, because just like everyone else who tries to handwave away evolutionary biology by claiming that there's no evidence for it does so based precisely on their religious belief. That may take two forms — it may be that they know that there is evidence but choose to pretend that it doesn't exist, or their religious bias precludes their ever looking for the evidence in the first place (why search for the answers to questions that you believe you already have, after all?) Either way, people like McElroy are not fit to make decisions about science education, since they're unwilling to consider the possibility that science may discover things that empirically contravene their faith. They can keep having that faith, of course. McElroy has every right to attend the church of his choice, to pass out leaflets in the parking lot of a big box store, or to travel the world as an itinerant preacher of "planet-making baby" hypotheses. For him to say that his position isn't based on his faith, though, tells us a lot about his character, and his unwillingness to accept scientific understanding of the world makes him unfit to have an input into science education for others. If he rejected the scientific knowledge that bacteria caused tooth decay, he'd be unfit to be a dentist as well.

Oh, and one more little gem from the article, which isn't attributed to McElroy:
The word itself is open to broad interpretation. If the teaching of weaknesses is mandated, a textbook might be forced to say that evolution has an "inability to explain the Cambrian Explosion," according to the group Texans for Better Science Education, which questions evolution.
That's a tiring old saw, isn't it? I don't know how many times this has been answered, but the term "explosion" in Cambrian Explosion doesn't mean what Creationists like to portray it meaning. It's not like a literal explosion, just a period during which there was rapid diversification. It was at least 20 million years long, which is only an "explosion" in terms of the rate at which we're used to seeing diversity arise... but it's hardly instantaneous. Evolutionary theory predicts that when environmental niches are available, selection will favor the survival of organisms capable of exploiting those niches. The Cambrian Explosion took place at a period during which there were a huge number of such niches available, so diversifying selection appears inflated relative to what we see later, when most niches were filled and new diversity could only become established in a few cases as previous species occupying those niches became extinct. Before the start of the Cambrian Explosion, there weren't a bunch of species already clogging up the works, so diversification happened faster.

Evil clones of Blanche DuBois always rely on the gullibility of strangersI know that's not nearly as glamorous-sounding as the idea that one day there was a loud bang and there were suddenly Wiwaxia and trilobites splashed liberally about the bottom of the seas. Still, it makes a good deal of sense when looked at in this way rather than making up stories about it as has been done by certain pinheaded Texans. They have to do that, of course, to make it look like they know what they're talking about when they bring up the "weaknesses" they have to invent to support their agenda. They're like evil clones of Blanche DuBois; they've always relied on the gullibility of strangers.

Sphere: Related Content