For years, I’ve heard stories of people who want to teach the “theory” of intelligent design in classrooms alongside of evolution. I put that word in quotes because theories are ideas that are tested and modified over years of study and updated with new discoveries. They’re not ideas that are pulled unchecked from five thousand year old texts to back up beliefs that one already feels to be absolute. But I digress. ..
I figured the pro-ID movement was this small (but loud) group of people that 24-hour news stations used to pad their schedule and Republicans used to rile up their base. I didn’t think anyone had actually tried to write a science textbook that included ID as its core teaching.
Then I discovered this book entitled Matter & Motion in God’s Universe by Delores Shimmin, published by A Beka Book, who claim to be “dedicated to providing quality education from a Christian perspective.” Based on what I read in Shimmin’s book, though, Beka doesn’t seem to equate quality with accuracy.
Now, I’m a chemist, so I only have a passing interest in the whole “creationism vs evolution” debate. Chemists seem to get a free pass from religious zealots. Evolution is biology and the big bang theory comes from physics and astronomy, so while I’ve heard of people who believe the Earth is only a few thousand years old and that Noah’s flood wiped out the dinosaurs, I’ve never heard of anyone that takes the bible so literally that they think we’re made of dust and not atoms. So I could really care less about Shimmin’s take on evolution. My problem stems with her blatantly misinforming impressionable junior high students about what a scientist does and how the scientific method works.
The chapter on evolution is chapter 7, which is strangely titled “Science vs. Evolution.” (I’m pretty sure Science and Evolution are getting along just fine). What follows are actual quotes pulled from the book exactly as they appear (i.e., boldface is her emphasis, not mine).
- Page 286: “Evolution is not a science, because none of its ideas can be observed or tested through experimentation. No one but God was there at the beginning to observe the origin of the universe and of life!
Apparently, all of the fossil data these so-called scientists have accumulated over the past couple of hundred years is completely invalid because they weren’t there when the creatures died. Isotopic dating? Bollocks! Of course, this logic also negates creationism because I’m guessing that whoever wrote the book of Genesis wasn’t there to observe it either.
- Page 286: “One must logically believe in either evolution or direct creation. There is no third choice.”
Actually, I can think of two more just off the top of my head:
1) The Hindus or Buddhists are the ones that are actually right. Seriously, how great would it be to be standing next to Jerry Falwell or Sean Hannity at the gates of Heaven, only to have Ganesh step out to great them? I would laugh my ass off. Assuming, of course, I was reincarnated as a creature with an ass.
2) No one’s got it completely right, yet, but there are bits and pieces of truth in all of them and maybe one day the human race will pull our heads out of our collective butts long enough to reach a new level of spiritual understanding.
- Page 286: “Evolution is more than a philosophy about the origin of the universe and of man. It is really a humanist, man-centered religion that attempts to dethrone the Creator and make man the master of the universe.
Evolution, and science in general, has absolutely nothing to do with disproving a Creator. The underlying principle of science is to figure out how the universe works. If someone wants to learn how a car works and takes it apart to examine all of its gears and switches, are they trying to disprove the existence of Henry Ford? Furthermore,when studying the universe, scientists limit themselves to the physical world because we have no control over things of a spiritual matter. There’s no way to test divine intervention or incorporate it into an experiment because that’s outside of our physical realm. Whether or not someone chooses to believe in realms beyond the physical world is another issue entirely.
That last quote of hers, by the way, pretty much sums up why I stopped going to church and why I no longer feel guilty about it. For the record, I think Jesus was a very cool person whose teachings have relevance in today’s world. Unfortunately, the people who speak most vocally on his behalf are very, very ignorant people who have trouble understanding that they’re doing more harm than good, both for their religion of choice and society at large. On at least two occasions (once in the church that I went to in my youth), I’ve heard a minister tell his congregation that scientists “don’t know everything.” It took a great amount of will power to not stand up and yell, “NO SHIT!” Find me one modern scientist that’s ever made such a claim. And if the day comes when we do learn everything about life, the universe and everything, do you realize how many people will find themselves out of a job? You think it’s bad when GM shuts down an auto plant? Imagine thousands of research institutions and universities the world over shutting down because there’s nothing more to learn.
It’s ignorance at a base level, and it’s bad enough when it’s done during a church service, but in a textbook written for seventh graders? That’s damn-near criminal.
By the way, have you noticed that so far all of these quotes come from a single page? And it only gets better, but I can’t spend any more time on this piece of crap. Maybe later.