Monday, March 30, 2009

Who wants academic freedom?


I have always found it ironic that few things in this world demonstrate the basic principle behind evolution better than Creationism. Over the last couple of decades it has managed to survive (thrive even) in an increasingly hostile environment thanks to its ability to adapt via mutation. At first it existed as pure Creationism, later it tried to remain relevant by redefining itself as Creation Science. When that failed it became Intelligent Design and when that faced extinction after the Dover trail, it went through three more rapid transitions as calls to: “Teach both sides”, “Teach the strengths and weaknesses” and “Academic freedom”. While these evolutionary changes may seem quite severe, I would actually have to agree with Creationists that these changes simply constitute “micro-evolution” – the changes were all superficial, at its core it has remained filled with dishonesty and hypocrisy throughout.

This latest mutation of Creationism pretends to be all about honesty and fairness. It tells us that scientists are mean and petty and that they just don’t want to give all ideas equal time. They, the Creationists – sorry, Intelligent Design Proponents – on the other hand are all about academic freedom. They, unlike those mean old evolutionary scientists, don’t simply discard ideas simply because they disagree with it. For instance the moderation policy on the ID website “Uncommon Descent” states:
“that UD, unlike the Darwinists, doesn’t ban or censor ideas… Our role is not to censor ideas but to provide a forum where hard questions can be discussed calmly, fully, and fairly, and we trust that when that happens truth will prevail.”
Of course this turned out to be utter bovine excrement! Recently, one of the regular contributors to the site, ID proponent Dave Scot, dared to go against the official party line that Evolution = Racism by pointing out that some of the most racist groups out there are fiercely pro creationism and anti-evolution. Shortly after posting that, his post was removed and Dave Scot was banned from the site. Of course it's not that easy to make something disappear from the internet, you can view his original post here. The following note to all contributors appeared in its place:
“The moderation policy does not apply to you; you are held to a higher standard. I expect your posts to have at least some tangential relationship to Darwinism, ID, or the metaphysical or moral implications of each. The purpose of this site is not to provide a place for you to jump up and rant on one of your pet peeves. DaveScot will no longer be posting at UD.”
You have to admire such commitment to academic freedom and the open marketplace of ideas, don’t you? Is it really academic freedom they are after? Not in the least. Rather they just want their ideas to be given the same weight as established scientific principles without having to muck about with all that hard work and evidence that said scientific principles had to provide in order to become established in the first place.

At a glance their appeals to teach all different theories to schoolchildren and to explore the strengths and weaknesses of scientific principles seems noble enough. Once again though, that’s not what they actually care about. They don’t want to discuss how little we understand about light and gravity in physics class, they don’t want to give equal time to holocaust deniers and moon landing hoaxers in history class and they certainly don’t want to discuss all the weaknesses of creation science and intelligent design! For that matter, neither would they want to give all religions equal time in the classroom. No, the only strengths and weaknesses they care about teaching to kids are the weaknesses (a.k.a the unanswered questions) of the theory of evolution (they don’t actually want you to know that much about the strengths though) in order to make their own ideas look more plausible. Ultimately, its not all sides they want taught, it’s their side they want taught at the expense of ideas they don’t like (See the wedge document). Its not academic freedom they want, it’s the freedom to put non-scientific ideas on equal footing with established scientific fact. That’s not academic freedom at all, that is pure foolishness!



3 comments:

Plucky said...

I tend to believe that God created the world as described in Genesis chapter 1. But so what . . .

What amazes me about all this is that I really don't care how he did it. Whether a literal 6 days, via the process of evolution or a combination of a logical mathematical projection based on the number 6 combined with evolution or even some way no one has ever considered before; it has zero impact on my faith and my belief in Jesus Christ as God's son and my deliverer.

I think both sides of this argument are equally guilty of a core insecurity that if their side is proven wrong that their entire world view will be rocked to the core and it will somehow imply that the rest of their viewpoints will be made invalid . . .

Just sayin' . . .

digapigmy said...

i don't even know where to start, so i don't think i will.

micgehr said...

I want to thank you for pointing out the obvious contradiction with regards to racism and Creationist groups. I've always found it amusing that the KKK believes in Creation...does that mean God made a mistake when he created Africans? Arabs? Asians? Hispanics? While it's true that most societies in the world are ethnocentric, to then claim that you are a Christian is repulsive and contrary to the teachings of Jesus. I once worked for a priest that didn't want the "dirty Mexicans" at his parish because they "messed up the place and didn't donate money". People are scary. As far as Creation and Evolution, I personally don't see a problem...it's all a miracle designed by God. Why do people get caught up in details? Who cares how it happened? It happened. What we do with our lives is what is important. Why the passionate arguing from both sides? If your faith is solely based on whether or not God created the world in 6 days...then you're a moron...and there isn't any hope for you anyway!