Sunday, April 04, 2010


Theocratic "Freedom"

It's Blog Against Theocracy weekend and here is a good example. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, imagines himself an expert on science. He reveals himself to be utterly ignorant of it and poor at philosophy, sociology and government too. In a piece entitled "'Both Wrong and Dangerous' - Scientists Have Worldviews, Too" at the Christian Post, he complains about an article by Charles C. Haynes, senior scholar at the First Amendment Center:

Haynes cites an article in The New York Times in which Leslie Kaufman reported: "Critics of the teaching of evolution in the nation's classrooms are gaining ground in some states by linking the issue to global warming, arguing that dissenting views on both scientific subjects should be taught in public schools."

Haynes then responds: "At first blush, who can possibly object? After all, intellectual freedom should be the cornerstone of a good education in a democratic society. Of course students should be taught to be critical thinkers. Of course they should be exposed to legitimate scientific questions and debates in science classes."

He then asks: "But are these bills really about academic freedom - or are they driven by politics and religion?"

He answers his own question when he proceeds to argue that scientists alone can determine the scientific debate. "Genuine academic freedom means exposing students to how scientists determine what is and isn't controversial in science - and then helping students understand how the scientific method is used to resolve unanswered questions about any and all scientific theories," Haynes insists. "Scientists and science educators should decide what our kids need to learn about science, not legislators or religious advocacy groups."

According to Mohler, Haynes is saying:

[S]cientists alone can tell us what is and is not controversial or debatable. The call to "teach all sides" can only be passed to the scientists, who can tell us what the sides are. If there are credible scientific alternatives, these must be "peer-reviewed in science journals before being presented as science in public schools." The public schools, he insists, should not be a battleground for ideological warfare.

Haynes is exactly correct. Scientists are the only group who can authoritatively determine what is really controversial in science. Who else? People who don't understand the science?

... Like so many others, he seems to assume that the world of science is a sanitized and self-regulating world of pristine knowledge. ...

Alternative theories or arguments must be "peer-reviewed in science journals?" Tell that to the scientists who have questioned the supposed consensus on climate change, whose access to peer-reviewed journals has been, we now know, blocked by supposedly "neutral" peer reviewers. ...

When it comes to evolutionary science, the same issues present themselves - and have since the dawn of the controversy. Once again, there is no non-ideological science, and there is no shortage of political implications. ...

This is classic denialism ... the "vindication of all kooks" whenever there is the slightest whiff of doubt about the integrity of individual scientists, no matter how unjustified. But what Mohler does not recognize is that the scientific community is not monolithic in its "worldviews." There are conservatives, theists and every other "political" description among scientists who accept the consensus that anthropogenic climate change and evolution are our best explanations of the facts of the world. Against that, Mohler can only offer the logical fallacy of argumentum ad populum:

What drives so many policy makers and observers to distraction is the fact that Americans in general - and American parents in particular - just do not accept evolution as an adequate account of the cosmos. And, as time has shown, Americans are highly resistant to being told that they must accept what the scientific establishment insists is the only legitimate worldview.
When those who are ignorant of the real issues involved in science use political means to determine how science is taught in our public schools, they are not only doing the children a disservice, they are on the road to a theocracy.



you little liars do nothing but antagonize…

and you try to eliminate all the dreams and hopes of humanity…

but you LOST…


Einstein puts the final nail in the coffin of atheism…



atheists deny their own life element…


I think I stepped in something when I came on to the site...
In an alternate universe:

Haynes then responds: "At first blush, who can possibly object? After all, religious freedom should be the cornerstone of a good education in a theocratic society. Of course students should be taught to be critical believers. Of course they should be exposed to legitimate religious questions and debates in Sunday School classes."

But who decides what questions are legitimate? If it is religious beliefs in Sunday School classes you would not expect people outside the faith to decide.

Back in our universe, if it is scientific debate in science classes you should not expect people outside science to decide.
It's reasonable that a subject based on empiricism doesn't give non-empirical ideas equal weight. A good teacher would address such ideas if a student brought them up, but otherwise, it's mostly a waste of time. As I wrote on another BAT post, if these people lived in a Muslim nation, they wouldn't be clamoring for theocracy, and they're not asking for equal time in school to teach, say, ancient Japanese creation myths. The theocrats are a narcissistic bunch, who tend to divide everyone into Us and Them, and don't seek freedom (which they already have) – they seek power over others. No one's interrupting their church services to tell them their religion is all wrong.
Holy Smoke that lambpower dude is really out there.
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