Suppression of alternatives to evolution

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There exists widespread suppression of creation science and intelligent design, ideas which offer alternative explanations of origins than do the various theories of evolution.

Contents

History

Until Charles Darwin popularised[1] the idea of evolution in the middle of the 19th century, most people including the vast majority of scientists were creationists. Over the next 50 to 100 years, however, evolution came to be the ruling paradigm in the biological sciences in particular, and science in general.

In the early 1960s, creationism began a resurgence, followed a few decades later by intelligent design. Once these ideas had started to gain a degree of popularity, however, many people, committed to evolutionary thought, began to oppose these competing views of the history of life. (These people generally consider Intelligent design to be creationism in disguise, although there are significant differences between the two ideas.)

However, this opposition has not been merely academic debate of the merits of the competing ideas, but a concerted effort to suppress creationism and intelligent design. This opposition has included keeping the ideas out of the education system and marginalizing or ridiculing the ideas in the mass media.

It appears from various reports reaching this office, that a trend is developing in the halls of Academe … that Liberalism’s great contribution to American education, namely “Academic Freedom” has become a victim of incest, having been raped by its own sires … . [A] former Louisiana State Senator … said instances [of] … pro-creationism professors and teachers … being dismissed have begun to proliferate in the past ten years … highly-qualified educators denied tenure or otherwise discriminated against simply because they hold views or engage in activities which oppose the tenets of … [evolutionism].[2]

The movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed with Ben Stein released in April 2008 exposes the suppression of alternatives to evolution.

Ideology

The motivation for suppressing views opposed to evolution includes anti-theistic ideologies.

Richard Lewontin:
We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism.

It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.[3]
Atheist professor Jerry Fodor, on attempts to question the theory:
I think there’s the sense that if you think that there’s something wrong with the theory you’re giving aid and comfort to intelligent design people. And people do feel very strongly about whether you want to do that.[4]

Vilification

Anti-creationists have often openly vilified creation and creationists:

  • Isaac Asimov said that all "creationists are stupid, lying people who are not to be trusted in any way." and that all of their "points are equally stupid, except where the creationists are outrightly lying."[5]
  • Richard Dawkins said that anyone rejecting evolution is "ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked—but I’d rather not consider that)"[6]
  • Tom Mason, Director of the Armagh planetarium, links the creationary view to Islamic fundamentalism, the Inquisition, and Jihad, and refers to creationism as "ignorance", "irrationality", and "narrow-minded".[7]

Creationary scientists frequently have their qualifications questioned, blatantly or subtly.

  • On the web-site of the British Centre for Science Education, the article about Creation Ministries International lists CMI's senior staff, but for each scientist listed, puts quote marks around the word "scientist", implying that they are not really scientists.[8] Yet each of the scientists listed holds valid qualifications from reputable secular universities.

Cases of suppression

Recognition affected

Individuals have been denied awards or qualifications, or attempts have been made to have them withdrawn.

David Bolhuis

David Bolhuis, a teacher from Hudsonville, Michigan was told that the Michigan Science Teachers' Association had unanimously selected him as the High School Teacher of the Year. However, the American Civil Liberties Union protested, as Bolhuis had been "teaching about" both creation and evolution. Subsequent media pressure resulted in the decision to not give Bolhuis the award.[9]

Employment affected

In many cases, individuals have been fired, threatened with being fired, demoted, moved, or not employed. This is not even confined to creationists and intelligent design advocates, but even affects evolutionists who don't toe the line in refusing to even consider alternatives.

Lloyd Dale

Lloyd Dale was an award-winning and highly-qualified high school teacher in South Dakota who was fired in 1980 for teaching about both evolution and creation.[10]

Forrest Mims

Forrest Mims III is a science writer who, by 1990, had seen more than 500 of his articles published in 62 newspapers and magazines.

Science magazine Scientific American invited him to submit some articles for their Amateur Scientist column, and the expectation was that these would lead on to a permanent job.

The articles were published in 1990, and the editor described Mims' work as "first rate", but when he discovered that Mims was a creationist, Mims was denied further work with the magazine.[11][12]

Richard Sternberg

For a more detailed treatment, see Smithsonian-Sternberg affair.

Guillermo Gonzalez

Guillermo Gonzalez was denied tenure and promotion to associate professor by Iowa State University, despite apparently easily meeting their criteria. The university's stated criteria for promotion to associate professor says that "For promotion to associate professor, excellence sufficient to lead to a national or international reputation is required and would ordinarily be shown by the publication of approximately fifteen papers of good quality in refereed journals". Gonzalez exceeded this by 350%, with 68 such papers, including papers that had surprisingly high numbers of citations.

But Gonzales co-authored a book in 2004 which revealed his support for intelligent design, and two of his colleagues have admitted that his views on intelligent design were a factor in denying Gonzalez tenure.[13][14]

Robert Gentry

Robert Gentry became the acknowledged expert on radiohalos, and published papers in a number of leading scientific journals, including Science, Nature, and Journal of Geophysical Research. However, when his creationist views became known, his contract with Oak Ridge National Laboratories was cancelled.[15][16]

Roger Paull

Roger Paull was a substitute teacher in Arizona. One assignment saw him showing to his class a video left by the regular teacher. The video disparaged Christianity and glorified naturalism. After the third video, on evolution, he briefly mentioned intelligent design to the class. The next day he was suspended and has not been able to teach since, having been effectively "blackballed". He says that he was viewed "almost the same way a potential pedophile would be". [17]

Michael Reiss

Rev. Professor Michael Reiss, an evolutionist, called for schools to teach students about creationism,[18] and this resulted in him being forced to resign from his part time job as Director of Education at the Royal Society.[19]

Accreditation affected

The ICR Graduate School

For a more detailed treatment, see ICR Graduate School.

The ICR Graduate School had for years been offering graduate degrees in California. Then in 1986 California abruptly changed its rules, and its new Superintendent of Public Instruction, William Honig, determined to stop ICR at any cost. ICR had to sue the State in federal court to get his decisions reversed.

In 2006 ICR decided to move to Texas but then encountered the same difficulties. In April 2008 the Academic Excellence and Research Committee of the Texas Higher-Education Coordinating Board voted unanimously to deny the ICR Graduate School's application for accreditation. The Texas Commissioner of Higher Education said only, "Religious beliefs are not science." ICR might appeal the process administratively, submit a new proposal, or sue the State of Texas for injunctive relief.

Court challenges to education

In 1925 the American Civil Liberties Union challenged a Tennessee law that forbade teaching that man had evolved (it didn't otherwise forbid teaching evolution), in what became known as the Scopes Trial. The ACLU lawyer, Clarence Darrow, argued that it was wrong to only teach one view of origins.[20]

Yet now the ACLU and other supporters of evolution argue that only the evolutionary view of origins should be taught.

Dover County School Board

For a more detailed treatment, see Kitzmiller vs. Dover Area School District.

In 2004, the Dover County School Board in Pennsylvania, U.S.A., approved a curriculum which included that teachers should read to their class a statement pointing out that evolution is an explanation of observations, not a fact, that intelligent design is an alternative explanation, that the book Of Pandas and People is available if students want to know more about Intelligent design, and that the students are to keep an open mind.

But even this was too much for the committed evolutionists, and a court challenge, backed by the American Civil Liberties Union, saw the requirement removed, on the grounds that the proponents of the requirement had religious motives.

Philip Bishop

Associate professor of physiology, Dr. Philip Bishop, was taken to court by his employer, the University of Alabama, to stop him briefly expressing his views favoring intelligent design, on the grounds that they were religious. Yet views opposing religion are routinely expressed in classes with no attempts made to stop them.[21]

Cobb County School District

For a more detailed treatment, see Selman v. Cobb County School District.

Even pointing out that students should apply some critical thinking to evolution is unacceptable to the evolutionists.

In 2002 the Cobb County School District in Georgia, U.S.A., placed stickers in the front of biology textbooks which simply read:

This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered.

Yet even this innocuous statement was challenged in court, with the ultimate result being that the stickers were removed from the textbooks.

Peer review publications

A frequent criticism of creationism and intelligent design is that they fail to pass peer review, and cannot therefore be considered scientific.

Creationists and intelligent design proponents counter that they fail to pass peer review on the grounds of ideology, not scientific merit.

One columnist wrote:
Note the circularity: Critics of ID have long argued that the theory was unscientific because it had not been put forward in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. Now that it has, they argue that it shouldn't have been because it's unscientific.[22]

Chemistry in Australia

The April 2007 issue of Chemistry in Australia included an article titled "creationist’s view of the intelligent design debate", written by John Ashton, chemist and Fellow of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI), publishers of the journal.

The outcry against the article by evolutionists, which included effectively calling Ashton a liar, sweepings dismissals of creationism, but little if anything in the way of actual rebuttal, resulted in the RACI removing mention of the article from their web-site.[23]

Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington

In August 2004[24] the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington published a paper by Stephen Meyer[25] which gave an overview of intelligent design arguments.

The ensuing outcry, including from people who had not even read the paper, resulted in the Biological Society of Washington undertaking to never again publish anything about intelligent design.

There were claims that the paper had bypassed the peer review process, but these were shown to be false.[26] The refusal to ever publish on the topic again was not on the grounds of not passing peer review, but in line with the American Association for the Advancement of Science's position that intelligent design is not science.[27][28]

Science letters to the editor

After failing to get a letter published in the journal Science, Russell Humphreys wrote to the letters editor asking if the journal had a policy of suppressing creationist letters. She replied that "It is true that we are not likely to publish letters supporting creationism". This was despite the journal's policy of publishing letters to include "the presentation of minority or conflicting points of view".[29]

Public information

The Science Show, ABC Australia

In a March 2003 broadcast of The Science Show on Radio National, a radio station of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, presenter Robyn Williams and Eugenie Scott, executive director of the American National Center for Science Education, openly admitted, on the pretence that evolution is true, that creationists do not warrant equal time.

Robyn Williams: And the old question of science having two sides - and this is a journalistic thing where some of us still, especially if you go to television, are supposed to display conflict, you know, one side and the other side as if there is this continuing argument.

Eugenie Scott: Well Robyn, you put your finger exactly on the issue. When there is a controversy, responsible journalists will present both or all sides and give a fair opportunity for all sides to be heard. If you were doing a show on anthrax you would not feel compelled to put a Christian scientist[30] who denied the germ theory of disease on the show to balance the program, because the germ theory of disease in medicine is a done deal, we are not debating whether germs cause disease. Similarly, if you are discussing an issue like what topics should be taught in science education at the pre-college level, which is a continuing controversy in the United States, you don't debate whether to teach evolution, because evolution is state of the art science and it should be taught. You don't debate whether to teach evidence against evolution or some sort of creationism because scientists don't accept these arguments, there is no body of evidence against evolution. And this is what the theory of biological evolution is all about.[31]

Giant's Causeway Visitor Centre

When creationists proposed[32][33] that a new visitor's centre at the Giant's Causeway geological formation in Northern Ireland should include the creationist explanation of its formation[34] alongside the secular view, anti-creationists objected, wanting only their view to be made available to visitors.[35][36]

Attempts to prevent creationists being heard

On numerous occasions, anti-creationists have attempted to prevent creationists being able to promote their point of view by attempting to have their venue bookings cancelled or by heckling the speakers during their talks.

Werner Gitt

In October 2008, protesters attempted to prevent German creationary scientist Dr. Werner Gitt from giving a talk titled Why I as a scientist believe the Bible at Leibniz University. The protests followed unsuccessful attempts to pressure the university administration to cancel the talk. As the talk was about to start, the protesters unfurled banners, one with the German for "Creationists, go to hell!" and another with a foul expression, then started chanting and blowing whistles to prevent the talk from going ahead. Police were called by the organizers, but the two, then five, officers were ignored by the protesters, who were only removed after another 20 police officers arrived, allowing the talk to go ahead an hour late.[37]

See also

Bibliography

Notes

  1. Darwin didn't invent the idea. Similar ideas had been around for a long time, and even Charles Darwin's uncle Erasmus was an evolutionist.
  2. Haney, K., Academic freedom’s double standard, Christian Times, p. 4, 28 June 1985, quoted by Bergman, 1995.
  3. Lewontin, Richard, Billions and billions of demons, The New York Review, p. 31, 9 January 1997, quoted in Amazing admission, Creation 20(3):24, June 1998.
  4. http://www.salon.com/books/feature/2010/02/22/what_darwin_got_wrong_jerry_fodor/
  5. Asimov, L., Is Big Brother watching? The Humanist 44(4):6–10, 1984, quoted by Bergman, 2005
  6. Barnes, 2007
  7. Mason, Tom, Science and Fundamentalism, Earth Science Ireland, issue 3, spring 2008 (available online at [1], then click on "Newletter" link).
  8. Creation Ministries International on the BSCE web-site.
  9. Bergman, 1984, pp.25 & 26.
  10. Bergman, 1986, p.61.
  11. Anon., 1991.
  12. Anon., 1997?
  13. Grigg, 2007
  14. Klinghoffer, 2007
  15. Gentry, 186, p.191
  16. Buckna
  17. Paull, 2007
  18. Simpson and Gray, 2008; Halloway, 2008(b)
  19. Beckford, 2008; Halloway, 2008(b).
  20. Jesus Created Ministries, Home page.
  21. Bergman, 2004
  22. Klinghoffer, 2005
  23. Walker, 2007
  24. Meyer, 2004. The on-line archives of the magazine list it as June 2004 [2], but this is not considered reliable, as the same source lists both of the following two issues as being December 2004.
  25. Meyer, 2004
  26. McVay, 2005
  27. Sternberg; Walker, 2007; Klinghoffer, 1995a
  28. Statement from the Council of the Biological Society of Washington
  29. Gentry, 1986, p.199-194.
  30. This is according to the official transcript. The audio sounded more like this being a reference to Christian Science than Christian scientists. The Christian Science cult, unlike Christian scientists, denies the germ theory of disease.
  31. Williams, 2003
  32. The Causeway Creation Committee, Objectives
  33. Heneghan, Tom, Creationists claim the Giant’s Causeway, Reuters Blogs, 30th November, 2007.
  34. Walker, Tas., A giant cause, Creation 27(2):28–34, March 2005.
  35. Zalasiewicz, Jan, and Bazley, Tony, Giant's Causeway - myth and reality, Geoscientist 18.4, April 2008.
  36. Walker, Tasman, Call to censor public information at the Giant’s Causeway, UK 3rd May, 2008 (Creation Ministries International).
  37. Wieland, 2008
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