Re: Full disclosure (was Grand Canyon Tears America Apart )

From: John W Burgeson <>
Date: Thu Jan 22 2004 - 12:08:07 EST

George wrote: "I think where we do differ is primarily on pragmatic
questions - i.e., on what's
going to be the most effecive way to deal with what we both perceive as a

Yes. But George, I have a specific, if yet not fleshed out, proposal to
solve the problem. You say it will not work, and you may be right. But
you, yourself, offer no counter proposal.

The boat is leaking. I say to you and the other sailors -- "Bail."
You sit back and say "They won't listen."
And the boat continues to settle, for you understand that you and I
together can't do enough to stop it.

While bailing, I say to you "OK, George. What is YOUR plan?"

" But I also think that you have more faith than I in the ability of
rational open discussion to get people to see the light."

Probably so. But the point is moot. Even if I did not, at least there is
value in making the attempt.

" Perhaps that can eb traced to different views about the extent of
original sin!"

I'll take that as a throwaway line. I don't think so.

"We probably differ on whether or not "discussion" is the best approach.
If that
means that we're to start from zero & present both YEC claims &
mainstream scientific
views as equal discussion partners then it seems to me that we are in
effect trying to
go back to 1800. It would mean having to retrace the history - & while
that may be a
worthwhile approach in some cases, I don't know if it's the best way to
teach science
for young people."

Again you set up a strawman to demolish my argument, which does not, not
in the least, suggest that.

 "You had said earlier, "The gov't ought not take a stand for or against
particular position, no matter how solid the science behind it." I had
understood that
to have the implications I argued against above. If that isn't what you
meant then we
have no argument on this point."

George, try reading what I write and avoiding inferences. You so often
catch what I do not throw! <G>
"I can't see why in principle there is a problem with professional
making statements about issues which involve their professional expertise
- as long as
such statements are fairly representative of the organization's

"In principle, of course, it is the reification argument.

"Of course such statements may be wrong or go too far. E.g., I have
protested against the APS's
statement on evolution because it not only says that evolution should be
taught but goes
on to assert that science & religion have nothing at all to do with one
another. "

Assuming you are a member of the APS, they spoke for you, whether or not
you like it. Of course, the APS is not a "person." It is a peculiar
concept that an organization, or a corporation, can be reified into a
"person-like entity." Yet it is also clear that organizations and
corporations must speak as "persons" on occasions. Such statements should
be made very carefully, and done in a POSITIVE way. Thus, if the ASA
wished to counter that YEC book in a bookstore, a better book would be a
good answer. A "get that offending book out of there or we will make you
look foolish" would not be a good answer (no matter how bad the book
might be).
"My only problem with strengthening my statement, as you suggest, is that
discussion can open the door for YECs to claim that their views are being
or ridiculed, that they should be able to speak for themselves, &c. The
question is whether that would give them more public leverage than just
ignoring them."

A reasonable objection, and you may be right. What I perceive you saying
is that an implementation of the FRACTURE principles to the YEC problem
will result in the YECs winning at a faster rate than they are now.

I think you are wrong, but I concede that until we try it we will not
know. Maybe my bailing (see story above) is making the boat leak faster.
Again, I don't think so.

So, George, we are sinking. There seems to be general agreement about
this -- at least I don't recall anyone arguing otherwise here. I have
offered "Plan B." You reject it -- I await "Plan C." Plan A is not
"At the very least, it means that the task now is to explain to people
why YEC got marginalized by the scientific community to begin with."

That is a useful task, but frankly, I see it as neither necessary or
sufficient. Just useful within the overall discussions for some (not
most) people, who could care less about obscure bits of history.

Why it is REJECTED (not marginalized) by modern science today is
necessary (it may not be sufficient).
"OK - but what arguments? How many of them. Many of their arguments are
just spurious claims that there is no evidence for an old earth or
evolution. "

I don't have all the answers here. Good question. On the AIG web site
there is a set of arguments, written I think by Safarti, about two dozen.

I life precept I learned very early was that if you knew eight things
about a subject very very well, you could hold your own in most
situations. At one time I applied this to TV servicing. I had learned
that when a TV failed (this was 1956) it was almost always a tube, and
that 80% (or more) of the time it was one of just eight standard tubes.
That's all I needed to fix most problems (although I did not stay in the
business very long for other reasons).

I'll bet there are not more than a dozen "real" YEC arguments. And I'll
bet that most people can handle almost all of them.

"Furthermore, it's going to be hard to present the YEC case without
bringing in religious arguments."

ICR has done so quite successfully for years. I don't think we OUGHT to
bring in religious arguments, except to acknowledge them as being in

 "E.g., the claim that many of the features we observe are due to a
univeral flood makes no sense without some initial reason for thinking
that there was
such a flood - which means introducing the Bible & then having to talk
about how to read
& interpret it. "

In some venues, this might be useful. But that's all.

 "Even if YECs claim that a flood is simply an induction from the data
with no reference to the Bible, enough students will probably be aware of
the biblical
story (& some will be sure that it's straight history) that you're not
really going to
be able to deal with these claims without discussing religion."

If ICR can do it, anyone can.

"& I am not a proponent of strict exclusion of all religious topics from
public classroom. But here I think a can of worms is going to be opened
that in many
cases will work against the goal of refuting YEC."

I think you are focusing on classroom education. That is only a part of
the discussion arenas I envisage. Perhaps not even the most important
one. Certainly not one we can change overnight.

"I am not saying that free discussion & exchange of ideas should be
and am not advocating govt censorship. (But this doesn't mean that the
govt is required
to subsidize or assist in the promotion of all views.) I'm just not sure
that such free
discussion is always going to have the positive effects that the liberal
tradition expects."

I understand your pessimism. I hope you are very very wrong. In any
event, I intend to live my life as if you are (on this point -- not on
most points).

" As I said above, this may have to do with differing views about
original sin."

Again, no. To the extent I understand your view, I do not have an issue
with it.

The best thing to hit the internet in years - Juno SpeedBand!
Surf the web up to FIVE TIMES FASTER!
Only $14.95/ month - visit to sign up today!
Received on Thu Jan 22 12:10:59 2004

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Thu Jan 22 2004 - 12:11:16 EST