Feature Article - July 2008
by Do-While Jones

The Debate Debate

Since we can’t debate the theory of evolution, what should we debate?

Creation vs. evolution debates are becoming rare. Evolutionists won’t debate any more. I was invited to participate in two debates (“The Theory of Evolution is True” and “Radiometric Dating is Accurate”) but neither event took place because the event organizers could not find anyone to take the “pro” position against me. Evolutionists generally say that they won’t dignify criticism with a response because it gives creationism credibility. They are right. Debates give creationism credibility because the creationist always wins.

Protection From the Truth

Evolutionists are doing everything they can to protect American children from the truth. On June 20, 2008, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) sent out this “alert” email.

Continuing AAAS Efforts to Protect Science in America’s Public Schools

AAAS is urging the governor of the US state of Oklahoma to veto a bill that aims to protect the expression of religious viewpoints by students in their schoolwork, but could also undermine the teaching of evolution and other science concepts. A letter from AAAS CEO Alan I. Leshner to Governor Brad Henry suggests "...if a student were to state on an exam that the age of the earth is 6,000 years old, according to his/her religious belief, rather than the 4.5 billion years cited in the textbook, this bill could potentially force his/her teacher to give the student a good grade for an incorrect response. This is no way to teach science." Read more about the letter. 1

AAAS opposed a second action, in the state of Louisiana, where two antievolution bills are pending in the legislature. In the early 1980s, Louisiana’s lawmakers approved a bill requiring equal time for creationism in science classrooms, which was struck down by the US Supreme Court in 1987. Read the AAAS-authored opinion pieces in The Times-Picayune and the Shreveport Times.

Other state legislatures, including Michigan, South Carolina, Florida, Alabama, and Missouri, have proposed similar bills--the latter three died at the end of state legislative sessions. Find out more about AAAS’s continuing efforts at our Evolution on the Front Line web page. 2

Five days later they wrote,

Louisiana "Academic Freedom" Bill Hits Governor's Desk. Last week the Louisiana Senate passed a second version of SB 733, the "academic freedom" bill, which had been slightly altered on its way through the House. The bill implies that certain theories, including evolution, are controversial among scientists, and would allow teachers to introduce supplemental materials including possibly books by pro-intelligent design groups. It now sits on Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal's desk. Scientific groups, including AAAS, have asked for the governor's veto, as has The New York Times. In related news, a teacher in Ohio was fired for not only refusing to stop teaching intelligent design/creationism in the classroom but also burning crosses on students' arms.

There is some question about whether or not that Ohio teacher was fired, or burned crosses on arms, but that’s what AAAS claimed. Then, on July 2 they sent out this alert:

July 2 Anti-Evolution News. As expected, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) last week signed into law an anti-evolution bill-one of a handful of so-called "academic freedom" bills that intelligent design supporters pushed this year in state legislatures. (Four others died as legislative sessions ended, and a fifth, in Michigan, has not shown much progress.) The bill singles out evolution and other theories as controversial and paves the way for teachers to bring supplemental (and potentially nonscientific) materials into the classroom. AAAS had voiced its strong objections to this bill, both to the legislature and to the Governor. In addition, a recent Gallup poll found that 44 percent of Americans believe that "God created humans as is within the last 10,000 years," the foundational belief of Young Earth Creationism. The poll also found that 6o percent of Republicans (versus 38 percent of Democrats) subscribed to the idea of Young Earth. Elsewhere, a Christian group has been mass-mailing intelligent design propaganda to New Zealand schools, and the Education Ministry there said it has no plans to halt the practice since it does not violate the nation’s Education Act.

The American Association for Advancement of Science is more properly called, “The American Association for the Censorship of Science.” They don’t want any discussion or debate about the Theory of Evolution. “Alerts” such as these should not come as any surprise to you if you saw Ben Stein’s movie, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.

What Can We Debate?

Since we can’t debate the merits of the theory of evolution in science class, perhaps it could be a topic for a high school debate class. It might be legal, but it would be terribly unfair. The unfortunate student assigned to the pro-evolution side would be forced to use the dirty tricks that evolutionists generally use (personal attacks and changing the subject) because the scientific facts aren’t on his side. Dirty tricks don’t usually work, so the unfortunate student defending evolution wouldn’t stand much of a chance.

A fair debate proposition would be, “The Theory of Evolution, Intelligent Design, and Creation Science are all equally scientific explanations for the origin and diversity of life on Earth.” I would gladly argue either side of this debate, and my chance of winning the debate would depend entirely upon my rhetorical skills relative to the skills of my opponent.

Con

If assigned to refute the proposition, I would calmly seek to establish the definition of science to be “knowledge obtained through the scientific method.” I would emphasize that the scientific method relies upon careful observation and repeatable experiments. Since the observations and results are independent of human bias, the knowledge obtained in such a manner is reliable. If I could establish that definition of science, then it would be a simple matter to show that neither the Theory of Evolution, nor Intelligent Design, nor Creation Science meet the definition of science, and therefore are not scientific.

This is the side I would prefer to take, because it is the definition of “science” that I grew up with. It is the kind of science we are talking about when we say, “Science is against evolution.”

Pro

But, if assigned to the other side, I would do what evolutionists generally do. I would take a more theatrical approach based on history and current events. I would show pictures of famous scientists of the past (some of whom were theologians), and what they believed. I would talk about the generally accepted “scientific” belief that everything was made of water (proposed by Thales of Miletus around 600 B.C.). Then I would say that Empedocles of Agrigentum (450 B.C.) claimed there were actually four fundamental substances (fire, air, earth, and water). Plato believed the world was created by a godlike “demiurge.” I would show astrological charts from the middle ages, making the point that scientists believed that the sun and the moon weren’t the only heavenly bodies that influenced what happens on Earth. With example after example I would show that historically science has been nothing more than the opinions of men about the substance and operation of the natural world.

Then, with great dramatic effect, I would hold up the issue of Discover, Scientific American, or New Scientst that happened to be on the newsstand that day. The cover story would undoubtedly be about time travel, parallel universes, or some fantastic conclusion about something bizarre implied by string theory or quantum physics. Thus I would prove that science is whatever people think might be true. No experimental proof is necessary. People just have to think it might be true.

If I could establish that definition of science, then it would be a simple matter to show that the Theory of Evolution, Intelligent Design, and Creation Science are all equally valid scientific explanations for the origin and diversity of life on Earth. These three notions of origins are no more far fetched than anything Miletus, Agrigentum, or Plato believed. These three notions of origins lack proof, but no previously accepted scientific explanation for origins needed proof. Why should proof be required now?

Truth Isn’t Involved

The reason why I could argue either side is that truth isn’t involved. By that we mean that there is no “true” definition of science—there is only consensus. The word “science” means whatever we all mutually agree that it means. If the consensus is that “science” means “knowledge obtained by the scientific method,” then that is what it means. If the consensus is that “science” means “someone’s opinion about the substance and operation of the natural world,” then that is what it means.

Evolutionists Can’t Win

Evolutionists would not like to take either side of the argument because no matter who wins, they lose. If the Theory of Evolution isn’t scientific, then it loses credibility. As Professor Lidenbrock said to Axel, “Assez. Quand la science a pronounce, il n’y a plus qu’à se taire.4 (“Enough. When science has spoken, there is nothing left to do but shut up.”) Although Professor Lidenbrock is a fictional character, the sentiment he expresses is not. There are real people who argue that the Theory of Evolution is scientific and therefore cannot be questioned. So, if the Theory of Evolution isn’t scientific, then it can be questioned. Furthermore, if the Theory of Evolution isn’t scientific, then it should not be taught in science classes.

But if “science” is nothing more than opinion, then Evolution, Intelligent Design and Creation Science are equally scientific, and deserve equal time in the science classroom. That is unacceptable to an evolutionist.

It is a case of, “Heads—the creationists win. Tails—the evolutionists lose.” They can’t win that debate.

The debate that evolutionists would like to win is, “The Theory of Evolution is scientific, but Intelligent Design and Creation Science are not.” They can’t win that argument with either of the definitions of science proposed so far. Evolutionists need a third definition of science that fits the Theory of Evolution, but not Intelligent Design and Creation Science. Their problem is that the definition they need is, “Science is an opinion (not necessarily supported by observation or experimentation) that does not involve any supernatural power.” In other words, “Science is atheism.” They don’t really want to say that for two reasons. First, too many (in their opinion) Americans believe in God. Second, it is apparent that it depends on the opinion that atheism is true and theism is incorrect.

So, not only do evolutionists not want to debate the scientific support (or lack thereof) for the theory of evolution, they don’t even dare debate what science really is. That’s why it is so important for the AAAS to go to court or pressure politicians to prevent any real discussion of the Theory of Evolution in American public schools.

Forbidden Discussions

This brings up an interesting question, “Are there any subjects that should not be discussed in public schools?” For example, should the courts decide that politics never be discussed in public schools? Should race never be discussed in public schools? Should global warming never be discussed in public schools? If there is a long list of things that students can’t be told, then there is a lot that students can’t learn. How is education improved by enforcing ignorance about selected topics?

Suppose that only one side of certain topics could be taught in public schools. Suppose that politics could be taught in public schools, but only the Democrat side. Suppose race could be taught in public schools, but only the white supremacy side. Suppose that only one side of the global warming debate could be taught to students. That isn’t “education,” it is “indoctrination.”

Two Questions

The two questions we would like answered are,

  1. “What makes the Theory of Evolution so special that only one side should be presented in American public schools?”
  2. “Who gave the AAAS the authority to decide that no criticism of the Theory of Evolution should be allowed.”

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Footnotes:

1 http://www.aaas.org/news/releases/2008/0515ok_letter.shtml
2 http://www.aaas.org/news/press_room/evolution/
3 http://www.gallup.com/poll/108226/Republicans-Democrats-Differ-Creationism.aspx
4 Jules Verne, 1864, Voyage au centre de la terre, Chapitre XIV. (Pardon our French. )