Re: Legislative Alert: Michigan Creationism Bill

From: Todd S. Greene (
Date: Tue Mar 13 2001 - 12:40:40 EST

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    [I have copied this to the list, because I want my comments to be
    public. But the note I am responding to was sent to me privately,
    in response to my posting of the pending creationism bill in the
    Michigan state legislature, so while I have copied the note below
    to put my response in context, I have removed the author's name.]

    Hi, [...].

    Thank you for your note. I appreciate your position as a theistic
    evolutionist. (Check out my website.)

    I sincerely have absolutely no problems with teaching religious
    beliefs about creation in the public schools in, say, a history, or
    social studies, or religions survey class. I have no problems with
    religiously-affiliated private schools teaching (erroneously) in
    their science classes that young earth creationism is scientific, as
    many do.

    The problem here is that some people who are motivated by their
    religious beliefs are working to have their religious beliefs taught
    in science classes in public schools under the rubric of "science"
    when, in fact, the beliefs are religious and not scientific.

    Additionally, I do have very serious concerns about people who believe
    that the universe, the earth, and human beings have not been in
    existence for more than about 6,000 years -- all ideas that have been
    manifestly falsified by empirical observation -- trying to have such
    false beliefs taught in science classes. These are religious beliefs.
    If people wish to adhere to such beliefs regardless of their empirical
    falsification they have every right to do so. They do not, however,
    have the right to misrepresent their beliefs as being the same as or
    on a par with scientific examination of the real world itself.

    Moreover, as someone who understands the distinction between religious
    beliefs and scientific examination, and who understands the falsified
    nature of young earth creationism with respect to objective features
    of the real world that we have learned about, I too have every right
    to act politically, as young earth creationists are doing, to oppose
    their efforts to legislatively "water down" science education in
    science areas that they happen to dislike. And I am doing so.

    Finally, there are three senses of "the theory of evolution," and two
    of them are quite proven. The first is the historical sense, in the
    general fact of the change in organic forms through time as seen
    (spottily) through the fossil record. This is considered factual (by
    everyone, even all other creationists, except YECs). The second is the
    biological change sense, which YECs typically refer to as
    "micro-evolution" (in order to portray a distinction with what they
    call "macro-evolution"). This is considered factual, even by YECs.
    The third sense is that there is nothing other than the second sense
    is needed to explain the first sense. Just as one example, a gap in
    the fossil record is genuinely a gap in the fossil record, and thus a
    gap in information, and not evidence of a "supernatural intervention."
    (Of course, YECs also use evolution in a fourth sense to very
    generally refer to anything and everything non-YEC, whether in
    astronomy, geology, physics, or any other pieces of science that they
    do not like. But I won't get into that here.) Will this creationism
    bill acknowledge such factual items, such that the universe is
    objectively observed to have been around for at least several billion
    years, and that the antiquity of the earth (and fossils) is
    objectively observed by such evidences as the Manicouagan Crater which
    obviously cannot be a merely 6,000 year old geological feature, and
    that such transitional forms as *Homo erectus* (or *Homo ergaster*)
    have been around for almost 2 million years? I don't think so. The
    attempt of the bill, like other creationism legislation, is simply to
    obfuscate these matters.

    When creationists choose to enter their ideas into a political arena
    and try to masquerade them as something other than what they are, then
    they certainly deserve the critical scrutiny that they will get.

    Sincerely, and regards,
    Todd S. Greene

    ###### From: [...], 3/13/01 10:26 AM ######
    Subject: Re: Legislative Alert: Michigan Creationism Bill

    Hi Todd,

    I have a Ph.D in petroleum geochemistry and lean towards a theistic
    evolution view on the origin of life. Yet -

    What is so wrong about including a statement that the theory of evolution
    is not proven? Yes there is good evidence in favour of it, but why do you
    guys make such a big issue of not allowing part of the population to
    include such a minor statement which takes their world view into account?
    Is the US a democratic country?


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