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Creationism in School… the PZ Myers Way

Over at Pharyngula, PZ Myers posted about how creationism should be taught in the classroom. I assumed that he didn’t mean it in the same way that creationists mean it, but his version was even better than I anticipated (Sorry, PZ. I won’t make that mistake again!). Here’s my favorite paragraph from his article.

A lesson plan that includes creationism should plainly show that experiment and observation have irrefutably demonstrated that it is now a splintered pile of cack-minded gobshite, wrecked by a century and a half of discovery, and that its supporters now are reduced to pathetically feeble rationalizations that rely almost entirely on people’s emotional dependence on the legitimacy of their religious beliefs. A science class isn’t the place to rip into airy-fairy religiosity — we have other venues for that — but it should uncompromisingly demolish every attempt to link natural, material events to pious metaphysics. If a student comes out of such a class believing that maybe there is still something to the Genesis explanation of the origins of life, then the instructor has not done her job. Her job was to explain with science how the world works, and if anyone wants to smuggle in the seven days and the magic fruit tree and the talking snake, it should be so the teacher can show the students that that is not how it works.

That’s just golden.

There are some great comments following his article as well. I usually try to read most of them, as they are frequently insightful and/or entertaining. Here’s a great one from Steve Jeffers.

As the British comedian Chris Addison says, teaching creationism in science classes is like teaching Narnia in geography. If you’re learning Spanish, you don’t learn a load of words that aren’t Spanish but sound like they might be.

I just finished reading 40 Days and 40 Nights by Matthew Chapman (a great read, by the way), which is a book about the Dover, PA trial in 2005. At the end of the book, Chapman says that, after attending the trial, he supports teaching Intelligent Design in Biology class… for essentially the same reasons that PZ Myers does.

If science is taught well, it is taught critically. Any critical examination of  Creationism and Intelligent Design will point a scorchingly white hot spotlight on the complete vapidness of their claims. Perhaps that should be the new direction that biology teachers should take. It could end up being a waste of time, but it also might illuminate the path of critical thinking, the scientific method, and rationality for students. Teaching students how to weed out bad science or pseudo-science from real science would do wonders to improve the anti-intellectualism that has thrived in this country for years now.

I don’t know if using Creationism and Intelligent Design as fodder in Biology classes is the way to do that or not, but it’s an interesting idea.

I wonder what Bill Buckingham would think?

(Bill Buckingham was the school board member in Dover who spearheaded the ID curriculum proposal)

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