Re: [asa] Anti-Creationist Psychobabble On the Web

From: David Clounch <>
Date: Fri Apr 03 2009 - 18:56:09 EDT

Hi Jon,

I am attempting to take a purely liberal view.

On Fri, Apr 3, 2009 at 3:34 PM, Jon Tandy <> wrote:

> I think a useful comment here might be, MN is not necessarily a subject
> that needs to be taught in school, per se. What needs to be taught in the
> science class is how science is done. Take your two teachers, A and B.
> Teacher A says that science can investigate objective reality in nature
> using naturalistic assumptions, cause and effect, etc. Teacher B says the
> same thing, and declares that this "method" of approaching science is
> sometimes referred to as "methodological naturalism".
> Both are teaching a particular philosophy concerning science and nature.

Philosophy is a tricky subject. Sandra Day O'Conner said (or implied) in
the Newdow case that philosophy is or should be protected. If the rest of
the Court were to adapt that it would mean Newdow would prevail and all
sorts of other beliefs might prevail because the status of philosophy would
be elevated to the same level of protection as other beliefs (such as
religion) currently enjoy. So one must be careful.

> Do you agree it is an appropriate philosophy that belongs in the science
> classroom, in order to make sense of the practice of science, *regardless*
> of whether the term is mentioned? If so, what's the argument?
Science doesn't really address issues of the ultimate and imponderable.

> Maybe it is that if the term (MN) is used, a student might ask questions
> about how a certain religious view might fit with, or differ from, this
> assumption about nature.
I don't think this is appropriate for a science classroom. That discussion
belongs in comparative religion class or perhaps philosophy of science
class. Who has time to address it in a real science class? And who would
be qualified to lead that discussion?
We have a school here in Minnesota that brings in Shamans, for example, to
lecture in science class. I think thats inappropriate because it belongs in
a religion class not a science class. What shamans think of science isn't
relevant (no offense to shamans intended).

> Maybe so, but this could happen with or without use of the phrase. It
> would be a legal question whether the teacher can answer the question in any
> way I personally believe the teacher could legally give a brief answer or
> answers as their opinion or as a variety of opinions, as long as they didn't
> spend any class time on it, to speak of.
Maybe. But the teacher is acting as an agent of the state, and would that
opinion be personal or represent the state's view? Or the board's view?
And if the answer is YEC in nature? Or gives preference for or against
YEC? Aha! We begin to see the problem.
So shouldn't the answer really be "go ask your priest (or rabbi or immam or
shaman, etc)??
Why is that not sufficient? Why is anything else needed?

In fact, I believe I read in Edwards the Court said the state must present
all views on controversial areas, and that the law purported to teach only
one view (creationism) but the law did a really poor job of presenting
creationism or creationism versus non-creationism. One can ask then, what
if the law being struck down had done a really really good job at presenting
creationism versus non-creationism? Would the outcome have then been deemed
to be secular in purpose (because it was only doing a comparison) and come
out differently? I am sure this would not be popular on this list, right?
I think the Court made the right decision because I cannot imagine how a
curriculum could make that comparison accurately.

This is why the constitution and the case law needs to be followed. And
the reasoning of the Court does indeed apply to these situations. Am I
making any sense?

Is your concern that teacher A might tell your children that "nature is all
> there is",
That goes to the ultimate and imponderable and is off limits and outside the
boundaries of science.

> while teacher B might tell them "MN is a way to think of nature in a way
> that is compatible with religion, Christianity, and/or the providence of
> God"?
I would object to a teacher addressing that, and so would a whole bunch of
other folks.
Its not the purvue of public schools to inform anybody what is or is not
compatible with Christianity or any other religion. This actually happened
in my daughters school, and I would very much like to sue.

> Even though you might agree with teacher B's explanation, are you concerned
> that they might get A instead, and you therefore wish to eliminate any
> discussion on the subject whatsoever?
> yes. Its not whether I agree or disagree. Its that the state cannot inform
what is the "correct" or "preferred" aspect of an ultimate and
imponderable issue is allowed.
MN would probably be fine if it was guaranteed to do this in a 100% secular
fashion, and wasn't so entangled with Christian theology. I myself think
its too entangled. Well, lets let the courts mull it over and then we can
see. Maybe they would rule against my views on this.
But how does one erase the Wheaton College entanglement with MN? Awefully
hard to do I suspect.

I hope this helps, Jon.

-Dave C

> Jon Tandy
> *From:* [] *On
> Behalf Of *David Clounch
> *Sent:* Friday, April 03, 2009 12:51 PM
> *To:* D. F. Siemens, Jr.
> *Cc:*;;;
> *Subject:* Re: [asa] Anti-Creationist Psychobabble On the Web
> On Fri, Apr 3, 2009 at 12:22 PM, D. F. Siemens, Jr. <>
> wrote:
> Methodological naturalism is NOT metaphysical. It is the same for
> atheists, deists, theists, panentheists, pantheists, and those who have
> no idea what metaphysical position they embrace.
> Dave,
> One problem I have is I don't know what teacher A does differently by
> teaching MN than teacher B who does not. It makes no difference.
> Until you have a religious student to whom you feel the need to try to
> explain something. BINGO! This trips over the Lemon test (and some other
> things). IMHO. :)
> To those who are completely secular there is nothing to talk about. To
> those who are concerned with religion then MN is needed.
> An analogy (all analogies are flawed of course):
> If I go to the store and buy meat I don't need to know that its
> "methodologically natural" (even though someone may believe it might be).
> But if I go to the store and ask for Kosher meat, then religion comes into
> it. MN is like that.
> Perhaps the question really is whether these ideas are religious enough
> that they have to be excluded.

I often suffer from nostalgia, that fondness for something that never was.
Pleasant memories have a tendency to expand.
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Received on Fri Apr 3 19:25:34 2009

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