Monday, March 7, 2016

Who in the World let Ken Ham Teach?

A while back I addressed a comment comparing creationism to child abuse.  The post was "Is Creationism a form of Child Abuse?"  At the time I disagreed that Creationism is a form of child abuse.  I did say that it fails to adequately prepare children for future education and potentially affect their career options.  While that might be unfair to the children, it's not abuse.

Apparently little kennie ham, of AiG, Creation 'Museum', and Ark Park infamy was speaking to a group of about 1000 elementary school kids in Alabama.  First question, were these kids public or private school kids?  To me it does make a difference.  If they are private school kids, then they are hearing nothing more than a much more strait-jacketed version of the typical religious creationism myths that they have heard before.  If they are public school kids, then letting him preach to them might actually be illegal, not that something like the law would stop kennie.  He's a charter member of the 'Liars for Jesus' club.  He only uses the law to get something he wants.  His own post says he 'taught' the kids, so this wasn't a presentation of a viewpoint, but a class of sorts.  So, if these were public school kids, then he did exactly what the Dover Trial discussed about sowing confusion rather than education.  While I still wouldn't call it child abuse, I bet it felt that way to some of the kids.

Second question, who was the person who let kennie ham in front of school students?  Even if they were private school kids, is a close-minded homophobic biblical revisionist someone you want to talk to children? 

What I do disagree with is little kennie's characterization of evolution.  Here is a quote from kennie's Facebook post:
"Intellectual Child Abuse: when kids are taught they're just animals in the evolutionary process."
Before dealing with his child abuse comment, I wanted to look at the rest of it.  Is this what evolution teaches?  Of course not!  But then kennie never will present evolution from an honest perspective.  He prefers a straw-man that he can attack much more easily that actual science.  Does science teach us that human are animals?  Yes it does.

But two things stand out for me from kennie's comment.  Does science in any way teach us that being animals is in some way a negative thing?   No it does not!  When biology talks about animals, the focus is on things being mammals, how the body functions, and where those functions came from (evolved).  Science stresses the relationship with other animals as a fact.  But little kennie doesn't like those facts.  When he says 'animals' he is talking about animal-istic behavior. He wants us to equate being animals to 'acting' like animals in all the worst possible images that come to mind.

That's a large part of my issue.  The clue for me was his use of the word 'just'.  That's the second point that bothered me.  When do you often hear the word 'just', usually when someone is placing some sort of limit, right?  It's also often used in a very negative connotation.  Ever hear someone say 'just a woman'?  How about 'just a child'?  I once heard a yuppie refer to someone as 'just a janitor', not realizing the janitor was also the president of the school employees local union and six months later was sitting across from him at a bargaining table.  I was pretty sure the yuppie saw him in a different light at that point.  But do you see what I mean.  When you hear it phrased like this, someone is putting limits on it and framing it in such a way to try and make you accept these artificial limits.

So what are the limits on being an animal anyway?  What exactly does 'just an animal' mean? Since humans are animals, animals can be pretty damn productive, can't they.  We build amazing edifices, fly across the sky faster than sound, gone to the Moon . . . the list is endless.  And each and every one of them was accomplished by one of more 'just animals'.  Little kennie's idea of limits seems to be pretty ridiculous, but then aren't all of kennie's ideas?

This past weekend I watched the final episode of MythBusters.  It's one of the few shows on TV I have on my DVR.  Aside from the fact I am going to miss it, over the weekend the Science Channel was playing many of the older episodes and watched Adam and Jamie accelerate a ping pong ball to 1100 miles per hour, 1.4 times the speed of sound!  I saw them prove how many of the common expressions we hear are in fact not true, like a car getting hot enough inside set off ammunition or explode cans of spray paint.  Along they way they also demonstrated how foolish things like crystals and pyramids are as power sources.  During the 14 year journey they also built some pretty incredible stuff.  Not to shabby for being a couple of 'just animals'!

The last thing about little kennie's Facebook post was how he characterized evolution as "Intellectual Child Abuse".  Teaching children the truth about the world around them is not child abuse.  It prepares them for higher levels of education and it prepares for jobs on the forefront of technology.  Who knows, one of those kids in kennie's audience might grow up to cure cancer or be the first human on Mars.  However, to do so that child will have to shake off the shackles of kennie's 'teachings'.  Cancer isn't going to be cured by belief in ham's revised version of the Bible.  It's going to be cured by science and a great deal of hard work by many people!  Many of whom will be theists of one tradition or another, after all, being a theist doesn't stop you from thinking.  Many of the greatest scientific achievements throughout history were accomplished by theists.  But if you look, at no point in any of those achievements is reference to some action by one deity or another.

I doubt any new scientific achievements will be done by any one of kennie's 'Hamians'.  Those folks are all too busy denying science, potentially the very science that may one day save their lives!  Being a theist doesn't mean you don't think, but being one of ham's sort means you pretty much refuse to think.  After all, since reality doesn't align with those narrow religious beliefs, do you think those folks change their beliefs?  No, their history says they will deny the science.  Not a very good way to achieve scientific breakthroughs.

You think I kid?  Listen to kennie some day, visit his little pseudo-museum, or hear one of his pet creation 'scientists' tell you about how the speed of light isn't real or the Earth is only 6,000 years old.  Do you think one of the folks who buy into that foolishness will be on the forefront of scientific knowledge in the future?  They certainly weren't in the past, were they?  If we could ask Nicolaus Copernicus, Giordano Bruno or Galileo Galilei, they might offer interesting opinions on the ability of Evangelical believers to actually formulate real science, especially when any of it appears to conflict with their religious beliefs.

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