Re: [asa] Michael Reiss and Royal Society: Shame on them

From: George Murphy <GMURPHY10@neo.rr.com>
Date: Wed Sep 17 2008 - 12:48:13 EDT

Serious and disgraceful as this affar is, it is only illustrative of a much older, deeper & wider problem. No significant inroads into creationist/anti-evolution culture can be made if religious issues are not addressed both sensitively and critically. The notion that creationism can be defeated simply with science, or by pure reason or "critical thinking," is a serious fallacy, expressed neatly by one person commenting on the Reiss affair on the Dawkins fan club site (http://richarddawkins.net/article,3125,n,n):

"As for his argument, it seems blindingly obvious that dispelling nonsense like creationism should happen in critical thinking classes, and we could start with ejection of religion from assembly and, for that matter, education in general."

This person is blindingly oblivious to the fact that this "critical thinking" approach doesn't work, for the simple reason that "critical thinking," "reason" &c can't do anything unless they have something about which to think. & if someone starts with belief that the Bible provides an error-free historical & scientific account of the history of the universe, all that reason can do is to derive consequences of that view and fit any facts that come to its attention into it. Unless that fundamental assumption is addressed then nothing can be accomplished.

So Reiss was right, the whole worldview has to be examined, & you can't do that in a convincing way simply by decreeing that it's stupid. The problem is though that you have to do more than just take the worldview seriously and then show that it's incompatible with a lot of scientific data. Of course that will work for some students but by no means for all. In order really to get at the roots of the YEC cancer (pardon the mixed metaphor), it's necessary to convince those who have accepted the YEC worldview that there is in fact a better Christian worldview - one centered on the core of the Christian tradition, as expressed by the ecumenical creeds, but able to accept and make theological sense of what science tells us about the history of the earth, life, &c. & the problem is that that simply isn't possible in public schools - at least not without a state church with a good deal more clout that the COE.

Which is all to say that while good & uncompromising science education is essential, the task of theological education must be done by churches &/or para-church organizations. Organizations like ASA should be able to play an important role there. & I'd say more but have to run for some appointments.

Shalom
George
http://home.neo.rr.com/scitheologyglm

----- Original Message -----
From: "Ted Davis" <TDavis@messiah.edu>
To: <asa@lists.calvin.edu>
Sent: Wednesday, September 17, 2008 10:30 AM
Subject: [asa] Michael Reiss and Royal Society: Shame on them

>I was shocked by the way in which Michael Reiss was forced out of his
> position at the Royal Society this week. If you haven't caught up with this
> yet, do a google search for "michael reiss royal society" and you'll see
> what I am referring to.
>
> Michael is an important member of our sister organization, Christians in
> Science, and a highly competent expert in medical ethics and science
> education. His comments about responding seriously to creationists in
> science classes are IMO absolutely on target. The comments from some
> leading scientists in the RS who oppose what he said, it seems to me,
> reflect both ignorance of the origins controversy (with which we here in the
> US have much more experience than our friends across the pond) and arrogance
> about science education itself (on that score we can match the Brits). What
> Michael was calling for, apparently, was some serious talk about how science
> works and what science is, and why creationism fails to qualify as science.
> Why distinguished scientists would not want that to happen in science
> classes is beyond me: shame on them.
>
> I am thinking of writing a pointed letter to the RS about this. I urge
> like-minded ASA members to do likewise.
>
> Ted
>
> To unsubscribe, send a message to majordomo@calvin.edu with
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Received on Wed Sep 17 12:48:42 2008

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