Thursday, February 12, 2009

Argument XVII - Equivalent sides? (Part II)

I take serious exception to the characterizations of this article: "Good News: Most Want Both Sides of Evolution Debate Taught"

Now before getting into my other objections, here is the quote that just plain pissed me off:

"Many Darwinists are trying to paint supporters of academic freedom as some kind of crazy, fringe element," said Candi Cushman, education analyst at Focus on the Family Action. "The truth is, the majority of parents want their kids to examine all the scientific evidence, to engage in critical thinking and to have classrooms that are academically challenging — not controlled by political correctness.”
I have never, ever painted such a picture of a supporter of academic freedom! I am a supporter of academic freedom! I am an avid supporter of academic freedom! I am also a teacher and I use the concept and the reality of academic freedom on a weekly basis.

In addition, let me be clear . . . I have NEVER seen one article, web post, book, or anything other form of communication from a supporter of Biology, Evolution, and Science say anything negative about a supporter of academic freedom! And if you have been reading my blog and the links to various places from my blog you know I have been doing my best to remain informed and involved in this whole discussion. This characterization is base libel.

Now I do understand West, of the Discovery Institute, and his confusion on the topic. I even agree with some of what Candi Cushman said, I agree that the majority of parents want their kids to examine all the scientific evidence, to engage in critical thinking and to have classrooms that are academically challenging.

The problem I have is what does supporting Intelligent Design have to do with academic freedom? The bills being introduced in some states use the term 'academic freedom', yet do not address the issue of academic freedom. The Wedge Document, the guiding document of West and the Discovery Institute, does not address the issue of academic freedom, in fact if you read their strategy the very LAST THING in the world they want in academic freedom. The author, Phillip E. Johnson's own words betray them:"
  • "Our strategy has been to change the subject a bit so that we can get the issue of intelligent design, which really means the reality of God, before the academic world and into the schools."
  • "This isn't really, and never has been a debate about science. Its about religion and philosophy."
How can anyone who wishes to bring in a patently religious and metaphysical set of ideas, ideas with no scientific validity, into the science classroom be an exercise in academic freedom? Would it be academic freedom to teach Astrology in Astronomy class? No, of course not! Yet that is the precise argument that West and Cushman are trying to sell!

I haven't seen the poll, just the simple fact it was commissioned by the Discovery institute makes it suspect, I mean they aren't exactly unbiased are they? However if it is like some of their previous polls I can pretty much imagine the questions asked. I mean if someone called me up and asked me "Do you want schools to examine all the scientific evidence, to engage in critical thinking and to have classrooms that are academically challenging?" I would answer yes. It sounds like a perfectly reasonable question, but it does mean I support Intelligent Design in the scinece classroom in any way. It's like when someone says "Darwin is false, 68% of Americans believe in God!" What does believing in God have to do with Darwin? Intelligent Design, in fact Creationism is whatever dress you wish to dress it up in, has nothing to do with science and supporting it in the science classroom is actually anti-academic freedom!

I also disagree with Cushman using one of the DI's favorite terms, "Darwinist". Just what exactly is a Darwinist anyway? It's a pejorative term. It's an insulting phrase designed to label people who support and understand Evolution. Her use of such a term tells me she is not much more just a mouthpiece for the Discovery Institute than someone with a honest opinion on academic freedom. Why don't we call aerodynamic engineering "Wrightism" and pilots and even airplane passengers should be "Wrightists". We don't because aerodynamics is an engineering science! It's not based on faith, but on the evidence. That's why Biology is not "Biologism" and Evolution isn't "Evolutionism", they are not philosophies, like Creationism, but sciences based on evidence, testability, and predictability. Labeling anyone as a Darwininst is a misnomer, and one that reveals Cushman's bias!

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