Radio bit on home-schooling, and more angry emails

The kerfuffle about home-schooling and evolution led to an invitation for me to do a brief segment on Overnight America with Jon Grayson.  You can find that segment here.

I continue to get angry emails from home-schooling parents. Many of them are really exercised by my statement that the Apologia and Bob Jones biology home-school units are “promulgating lies to kids.”  I can see how a parent would get upset at the accusation that he/she is lying to their kids, but what I said was that the books are promulgating lies to kids.  And they are—the publishers should know better.  But if the creationism-pushing parents have had an opportunity to know better, by learning something about the evolution they teach (or don’t teach) to their kids, then they too are guilty of promulgating lies.  It’s as simple as that, because evolution is true.

Let me add, though, that I’ve received a (very) few supportive emails from home-school parents.  It need hardly be said that these folks are home-schooling their kids for other than religious reasons.

Here’s an email that came only half an hour ago:

Professor Coyne,

“I feel fairly strongly about this. These books are promulgating lies to kids,” said Jerry Coyne, an ecology and evolution professor at the University of Chicago.

Uh, no they don’t. But you do. It seems to be part of your job description.

The home schooling movement arose because people were sick of outsiders having a dominant role in what parents teach their own children. What the “experts” think is more important than what the parents think.

Maybe in a few years, when a number of smart home-schooled kids graduate (and they are smart!), they can finally have a debate with the public school kids who were taught evolution. As it stands now, a debate is impossible, as all kids are taught one thing (evolution) as an article faith. Yes, an article of FAITH. As your unscientific attitude suggests, questioning the theory is not welcomed.

Please mind your business and don’t worry yourself with public school refugees and what they choose to teach their children.

and another:

Here is a quote I read from you in an article entitled, “Top Homeschool Texts Dismiss Dawin” by the Associated Press. “I feel fairly strongly about this. These books are promulgating lies to kids,” said Jerry Coyne, an ecology and evolution professor at the University of Chicago .

And you also said, “If this is the way kids are home-schooled then they’re being shortchanged, both rationally and in terms of biology,” Coyne said.

I think you’re extremely ignorant of homeschoolers in general. We choose what we choose for our children because it’s our right. You, as a college professor choose what you choose for your students because it’s your right. It’s laughable that you would even state such a hyberole that Christian publishers are “promulgating lies”. They’re CHRISTIAN publishers. What else do you expect them to teach? I am not even going to address the lies and fallacies in evolution, the simplest one being that we came from animals.

I think government run schools are shortchanging children because they are being taught that we are nothing more than animals. That’s a sad state of affairs. It would depress my children to no end if they even thought they were evolved from an animal. And our children probably know a lot more about evolution than the average government run school child does anyway.

Darwinists don’t know everything. And you particularly don’t know much about Darwin either if you are teaching his “theory” as fact.

I feel sorry for you because you have no imagination or wonder in your thought or process. God created us in His image. He has a plan for us and regardless of what you or I think about the Bible and His Word it doesn’t change what He says. That’s the amazingly glorious thing about the Bible. Darwin’s theory has “evolved” over the last few hundred years but God’s Word has been the same since He said, “In the Beginning” 6,000 years ago.

One more:

“I feel fairly strongly about this. These books are promulgating lies to kids,” said Jerry Coyne, an ecology and evolution professor at the University of Chicago.

I am certain you remember the quote stated above.  With all due respect, I find your comment to be insulting and dangerous.  You are a respected member of the scientific community; and for you to indicate that books teaching creation as opposed to evolution is “promulgating lies to kids” implies that you know for certain that evolution is not a theory but a law.  I am sure you know that the THEORY of evolution is not yet proven, and I will boldly state that you will never PROVE the theory.  Your statement can be used by less knowledgeable members of the society (include politicians) as a defense or justification to outlaw creation, religion, and home schooling.  Although I will never be able to PROVE creation to you, I am certain a scientific mind can see intelligent design in our universe and in life itself.  The scientific community cannot have both entropy and evolution; they are mutually exclusive.  By the way, I am sure you know the 2nd LAW of thermodynamics (not 2nd THEORY of thermodynamics).  I am not writing this to convert you to Christianity or even to have you accept creation and reject evolution (nor will anything you can quickly state in an email be able to change my mind to accept evolution).  My purpose is to ask you to keep an open mind about the subject, just because it is contrary to a theory you hold true does not make it a lie.  Realize that making bold statements that are impossible for you to prove can only hurt our society.  You have a responsibility to speak only the KNOWN truth, qualify statements of opinion or theory and to keep your agenda outside of the public realm.  To those that believe creation is the truth, your text books promulgate lies.  I believe it is important to teach both theories and allow the student to determine which they will consider as more plausible.  Educators are to teach what is known and to qualify any statement that is not known but is believed or theorized.

The common thread of many of the emails I’ve received is that evolution is not “proven”:  that it’s not a fact but a theory.  I have tried to instruct one or two of these correspondents in what a scientific theory really is, and in the  idea that the “theory” of evolution is just as much a fact as is the “germ theory” of disease.  But, as you might guess from the threads of the past few days, such instruction is futile.

I weep for the children who are home-schooled in creationist lies instead of science.

210 Comments

  1. ennui
    Posted March 10, 2010 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    I’ve got BINGO.

  2. Martin
    Posted March 10, 2010 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    I find these ‘arguments’ tiresome. They just re-hash the same old empty statements.

    I wonder if somebody could answer this for me – why is it that creationists claim that evolution is not proven (although the evidence for it is overwhelming), while at the same time promulgating a myth for which there is _no_ evidence? Does faith require actually closing ones eyes to the natural world, or is that merely a modern addition to this ancient belief system, which came about before such evidence was known? And while we’re at it, why do creationists limit their arguments to the Christian story? Why not the Iroquois story that the world was created on a turtle’s back? What if home-schooled children were taught that?

    • SmilingAtheist
      Posted March 10, 2010 at 10:55 am | Permalink

      You don’t really need answers to these questions do you? I’m sure you have a clear understanding as to why Christians feel the way they do.

      • Janet Holmes
        Posted March 10, 2010 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

        Yes we do, they love ignorance.

        • Michelle B
          Posted March 11, 2010 at 2:53 am | Permalink

          Yes, their love of ignorance is truly off-putting. I can’t respect anyone, despite the fact that they may be decent people, if they are unable to identify that evolution is true.

    • Paula
      Posted March 14, 2010 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

      Because they hold the Bible as literal. If they accept that evolution is true, then they think it follows that the Bible is wrong and they can’t deal with that. Please keep in mind, though, that not all Christians feel this way. I know of many who accept and teach evolution correctly, accept that the earth is millions of years old, etc.

      • Paula
        Posted March 14, 2010 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

        Whoops, I meant billions of years old. My kid caught that looking over my shoulder.

  3. newenglandbob
    Posted March 10, 2010 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    This is typical of the phenomenon, they are ignorant in extreme and either unaware of it or proud of it. These are the same people who love the ignorance of Sarah Palin.

    I don’t know what can be done about these people who are ignorant, brainwashed and proud of their lemming status.

    • newenglandbob
      Posted March 10, 2010 at 10:08 am | Permalink

      Great interview, by the way, Jerry.

  4. SoreLoser
    Posted March 10, 2010 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    “…to argue with a man who has renounced his reason is like giving medicine to the dead.” [Ingersoll's Works, Vol. 1, p.127]

    From Secular Web’s quote of the minute.

  5. David
    Posted March 10, 2010 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    “I am not even going to address the lies and fallacies in evolution…”

    By all means, please do.

  6. Posted March 10, 2010 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    Promulgating lies? “They’re CHRISTIAN publishers. What else do you expect them to teach?”

    That was my favorite part.

    And my new favorite word is “hyberole.” I can’t wait to learn what it means.

    • Karin
      Posted March 10, 2010 at 9:59 am | Permalink

      Yeah, I laughed out loud at that one. Which is good, because it’s getting harder to find the humour in this kind of ignorance.

    • Posted March 10, 2010 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

      LOL! I’m with Karin. That cracked me up. Of COURSE they’re expected to teach lies! Ha!

    • Posted March 10, 2010 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

      Haha glad to see others caught that as well. Unintentionally true statement of the day!

    • Posted March 11, 2010 at 11:15 am | Permalink

      Say “hyperole” with a Ray Comfort accent. It’s some kind of antipodean slang for ‘really big asshole.’

  7. Jonn Mero
    Posted March 10, 2010 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    I feel sorry for you because you have no imagination or wonder in your thought or process. God created us in His image. He has a plan for us and regardless of what you or I think about the Bible and His Word it doesn’t change what He says. That’s the amazingly glorious thing about the Bible. Darwin’s theory has “evolved” over the last few hundred years but God’s Word has been the same since He said, “In the Beginning” 6,000 years ago.

    *Snort*
    It shows a person so dim that it is almost cute. Mental age 6?

    • Posted March 10, 2010 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

      It shows more imagination and wonder to believe a bronze age creation myth than to explore the universe ever learning more? I must not have the right definitions of those words.

    • Michelle B
      Posted March 11, 2010 at 2:57 am | Permalink

      If this ignorant person could only know how wonderful it is to have as deep as an understanding of nature as it is presently possible, then instead of having pity, they would be envious.

      • latsot
        Posted March 11, 2010 at 3:00 am | Permalink

        Perhaps they *are* envious, which is why they feel the need to ruin it for everyone else.

  8. Andrew N
    Posted March 10, 2010 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    I want to cry.

    • daveau
      Posted March 10, 2010 at 10:34 am | Permalink

      You’re right, of course. But it will have to wait until I finish laughing first.

  9. Posted March 10, 2010 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    Thank you for not falling into the all-too-common trap of lumping secular homeschoolers in with creationist homeschoolers. The way that creationists are abusing their children by using their own perversion of homeschooling to create an environment of ignorance is appalling. It’s more than a little disturbing when in response, fellow atheists miss the target, doing a disservice to their allies and to children trapped in this kind of perpetual ignorance.

  10. Jonn Mero
    Posted March 10, 2010 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    Maybe in a few years, when a number of smart home-schooled kids graduate (and they are smart!), they can finally have a debate with the public school kids who were taught evolution.

    Maybe as in unlikely?
    and
    few years as in eternity??

    • gillt
      Posted March 10, 2010 at 11:54 am | Permalink

      Surely the surly parent doesn’t imagine scientists reconsidering their theories based on the outcome of a children’s debate tournament.

      Maybe they’re saying homeschooling leads to better debaters. But then who cares?

      • Michelle B
        Posted March 11, 2010 at 2:59 am | Permalink

        Only if better debating means the inclusion of tactics like the Gish Gallop.

      • Tom
        Posted March 14, 2010 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

        I was homeschooled, and I’m going into medicine. Luckily, my mother is NOT a fundamentalist Young Earth Creationist.

    • Janet Holmes
      Posted March 10, 2010 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

      Matt Dillahunty of “The Atheist Experience” TV show was home schooled, maybe he could debate evolution, oh wait …

      • articulett
        Posted March 10, 2010 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

        He was home-schooled? I knew he’d been raised very religiously; do you have a link about his schooling.

        See, there’s hope, Jerry. The smart home schooled kids can grow up and learn just how misguided their fundie parents were. Tracy, a cohost on the show also had a very religious (Pentacostal) upbringing and I think she’s a fabulous adult.

        Matt Dillahunty is a great skeptic and very well educated regarding evolution as is his co-host Tracy. Often teens trapped in religious families call the show… so information has a way of leaking to those who need it.

        I don’t think parents will ever be able to control their children’s information sources as readily as they could in the past (unless the kids are Amish maybe.)

  11. Dr. J
    Posted March 10, 2010 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    I only wish scientists had the supremely honed communication skills and the delicate temperament of those religionist. They sure do have a knack in framing the debate.

    /sarcasm

    Seriously, why don’t Nesbit, Mooney, Olsen and the like present stuff like this as the methods of the religious in the “debate”? There is not a more arrogant position that “I know I’m right despite having zero evidence”.

  12. Darlene
    Posted March 10, 2010 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    I agree that these few publishers aren’t teaching science.

    As a homeschooler though, there is very little out there that teaches evolution at all before high school, at least in a way that is more then a mere mention. Even high school texts are dry and boring.

    What should happen is that a high school biology course that doesn’t teach evolution shouldn’t be accepted at any college as a high school credit. That ends that.

    Yes, parents can teach their kids whatever: and trust me on this, I know many public schoolers who dismiss evolution, so don’t think that sending kids to a state school makes a difference.

    But if accedited colleges just don’t accept the class, that changes things. Granted, not all kids are going to college anyway, but at least the schools that use these texts-both private and home-don’t get a false legitimacy by having higher institutes accept their classes.

    • Posted March 10, 2010 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

      The problem with textbooks goes back to the same mindset as the religious homeschoolers. Vocal people don’t like evolution because their pastor told them so and they put tremendous pressure on school boards, schools, teachers, etc to make sure evolution gets addressed as little as possible.

    • Paula
      Posted March 14, 2010 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

      It’s not uncommon for fundy homeschoolers to go to the Christian colleges, where their use of one of these curriculums would not be an issue at all.
      As far as finding books on evolution for the under high school kid, they’re out there. It just takes some searching.

  13. Posted March 10, 2010 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    Hahahahahaha. Hahahahahahaha. Oh, lord.

    • Jeremy
      Posted March 10, 2010 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

      I second that motion.

  14. Posted March 10, 2010 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    What the “experts” think is more important than what the parents think.

    Um, yeah, pretty much. Which is exactly why we won’t be homeschooling my son. For a number of reasons I won’t bother to elaborate on at this point, homeschooling held some appeal to us, especially to my wife, but to me as well (I had a very bad experience in school due to certain personality traits, and if my son inherits them — and even though he’s only 12 months old, all indications are that he’s a chip off the old block — we will have to work really hard to minimize those for him). But I simply do not believe that either one of us alone is capable of giving him a well-balanced education. If the two of us together both had the full-time job of homeschooling him, maybe we could come close… but even then, we’d be limiting his exposure to other viewpoints and other pedagogical paradigms far more than I would be comfortable with, even if that were practical.

    So yes, the e-mailer is quite correct. Few, if any, parents are qualified to give their children a sufficiently well-rounded education. Their own ignorances and biases and restrictive viewpoints will inevitably creep in — and that goes for even the best-educated and open-minded of us…!

    • Posted March 10, 2010 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

      Oh, piffle. You don’t need to give your child a “well-balanced” education in the way public schools, or their so-called experts, would have it taught. The entire method is crap and is a hold-over from the days when schools functioned to train the illiterate to follow the orders of their ‘betters’ while working on the factory floor.

      What I am doing, as a home schooler, is giving my child is a set of tools (math, communication) and an ability to think for herself instead of memorizing trite (soon to be forgotten) facts for a quiz.

      Let’s face it, virtually everything you learn through High School is forgotten tripe or so simplified that it’s pretty much worthless to entirely misleading and/or dysfunctional. For example, Dick Feynman, in one of his books, talks about selecting texts for the California school systems. He specifically recalls one science book where there are these four pictures: a plant, a boy on a bike and two other things. Over the pictures is a question:

      What makes these go?

      The next page the answer is given: Energy makes them go!

      Feynman erupts and books go flying. The answer is so trite and superficial that it is worthless. What SHOULD have happened, in his mind, is a discussion of the energy chain starting at the sun and ending at the boy…

      That’s what he was expecting. That’s what he wanted. That’s not what he got.

      (And, for the record, I had that book. I remember those pictures. I remember reading the answer and thinking “this is stupid, what kind of energy?” Even in fourth grade I knew there were different kinds of energy and that the answer was too simple to be useful.)

      Anyway, I could go on… But, no, I don’t believe in that “broad-based” education. Memorizing superficial, misleading and/or disengeious “facts” to spew on a quiz then to be forgotten has little worth in my estimation.

      I mean, really, so what if “in 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue?” What was the IMPACT of Columbus on Europe and on the Americas? That’s worth knowing. Not some stupid ass fairy tale (much of which is lies) that lionizes Columbus who was far more passenger than explorer…

      • Posted March 11, 2010 at 10:44 am | Permalink

        I’m not going to take point for point, I’m just going to say I agree with some of what you said, but that a) it depends a lot on the quality of the school, even when it comes to public schools; b) even if it ends up being no more than superficial “trite facts” for some subjects, there is still a value in exposing a kid to a wide range of ideas if for no other reason than so he or she can see what they find interesting; and c) I cannot emphasize enough the value of exposure to a large number of different teachers, each with their own approach.

        Many of my teachers in high school were indeed worthless, and your criticisms regarding rote learning well-founded. Some were really inspiring in regards to their subject. I do not feel I could be inspiring on every single subject, but hopefully with a halfway-decent school a kid will encounter at least one inspiring teacher in each subject by the time they are done. Hopefully. Again, it depends a whole lot on the quality of the school.

        I’m also not trying to broadly criticize everyone who does homeschooling — I should have been more clear about that in my original comment. My point was that one of the big challenges with homeschooling is that few, if any parents, can be as qualified as “the experts” in every single subject. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible to provide a good homeschool education — but the e-mailers implication that what the parents think is more important than what “the experts” think is bogus. The inability of most parents to be “an expert” in every subject is one of the disadvantages of homeschooling, not one of the advantages!

  15. Posted March 10, 2010 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    And the second e-mailer shows a similarly hilarious degree of unintentional self-awareness:

    It’s laughable that you would even state such a hyberole that Christian publishers are “promulgating lies”. They’re CHRISTIAN publishers. What else do you expect them to teach?

    Indeed, I would not expect Christian publisher to create a textbook that did not promulgate any lies. Quite observant of you!

  16. daveau
    Posted March 10, 2010 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    I like this one:

    Realize that making bold statements that are impossible for you to prove can only hurt our society. You have a responsibility to speak only the KNOWN truth, qualify statements of opinion or theory and to keep your agenda outside of the public realm.

    The irony, it burns…

    I would add that I have friends who home schooled their children and they are well rounded and rational; attending and graduating from University of Chicago, Oxford, and the School of the Art Institute. Home schooling is not necessarily a bad thing. The level of ignorance of the parents is the issue.

    • articulett
      Posted March 10, 2010 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

      Yes, but the Dunning-Kruger effect explains that the most ignorant parents are too damn ignorant to know they are the most ignorant ones!

      We can laugh… but there are real kids having this “breathtaking inanity” inflicted upon them.

      Perhaps the internet will be their “candle in the darkness”.

    • Janet Holmes
      Posted March 10, 2010 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

      How many people have the skills and the time to give their children a really well rounded education? I have a science degree, my husband has an engineering degree but my eldest son is an artist/designer. I couldn’t have taught him what he wanted to learn with any confidence, but at school he had a fabulous art teacher whom he reveres, who helped him get into the university course he wanted to do. And since they took 25 kids out of about 400 applicants it was no small achievement!
      Also school provides a lot more than book learning. Children need to be socialized. They need to learn how to deal constructively with people and situations that aren’t entirely to their liking.
      I considered homeschooling one of my kids, but since he needed socialising even more than he needed education I didn’t do it. It is possible to supplement your children’s education you know. They can read books other than the ones set by the school and get the benefit of both worlds.

      • Posted March 11, 2010 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

        Thanks Janet. The socialisation issue is the one that concerns me. Yes, of course, the involved parent can direct supplementary reading to enhance a state school education and always has been able to.
        I don’t have a problem with educated parents home schooling and in 2001 a study was conducted that pointed out the average home schooling parent was a mother with a graduate degree.
        I can’t help feeling that something has happened in the intervening years, because creationism and ID have come back into the arena at about the same time atheists started to publish and be heard on the lecture circuit.
        I wouldn’t mind if there were no religious content in the curriculum, but there is and that’s not good. Not in science it’s not.

  17. Posted March 10, 2010 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    I feel sorry for you because you have no imagination or wonder in your thought or process.

    While much of the rest is hilarious, that part is really sad… Don’t they see that it is them who have an underdeveloped sense of imagination and wonder? How boring a universe it would be if it was all just a bunch of empty space created as nothing more than eye candy for a few billion hairless apes, pre-ordained to live and then die in their narrow little perceptions, and the whole game about to be imminently cancelled by some vengeful asshole in a wine-stained robe? And that the whole deal got started and then wrapped up in less than ten measly millenia? And that the whole thing was just some weird dramatic passion play about a creepy paternal blood sacrifice?

    What an unimaginative, boring universe that would be. It’s so terribly sad that these people not only live in that dreary, bland world, but that it’s also the most wondrous world they can even imagine. Depressing…

    • articulett
      Posted March 10, 2010 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

      Agreed. And I think they have to keep trying to convince themselves that it’s our world that is depressing lest they realize “faith” isn’t the wondrous gift their indoctrinators had lead them to belief.

      What is truly sad is that I think these people are afraid that their salvation depends on believing a fairytale… and so they must play endless semantic games to keep the belief alive.

      I wonder why people even have kids if they believe that there’s a chance those kids could suffer forever for not believing the right thing? It seems like a very immoral thing to do.

  18. Question
    Posted March 10, 2010 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    “I have tried to instruct one or two of these correspondents in what a scientific theory really is, and that the “theory” of evolution is just as much a fact as is the “germ theory” of disease.”

    Glad to read that. I was quite worried with the wording in the other post on playing into ignorance by using the wording “not just a theory”.

  19. Question
    Posted March 10, 2010 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    I perhaps should have read that quote closer. The facts that generate “germ theory” are just those facts, the theory explains observed facts.

  20. Question
    Posted March 10, 2010 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    One more than I’m done. This is disconcerting because I know it’s known.

    “scientific theories” and “scientific facts” are different.

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted March 10, 2010 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

      I’m not sure what you are trying to say here, but as most scientific theories evolution is “not just a theory” but a fact.

      First, observable facts can be quantified with uncertainty and tested (be more or better measurement, or in some cases no-go theories) just as theories are.

      Second, theories connects facts by making predictions on interconnected facts (interconnected by theory, but also by the process the theory express). They build on those facts (and others/other theory) and they also predict them. As many predicted facts makes it harder to make mistakes than isolated facts, theories are super-facts.

      Third, the process of evolution exist, it is an observable fact, same as the theory that express it.

      Theories that factually works well enough over a domain but are falsified, say Newton’s theory of gravitation, are no less facts than unfalsified theories, say general relativity. They are lesser theory (less predictive), though.

      So, sure, there is a difference between facts and theories, but it is negligible in principle and much in favor of theory in practice. In physics you demand much less uncertainty of facts than of theory to establish that they aren’t rejected.

  21. SplendidMonkey
    Posted March 10, 2010 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    It’s laughable that you would even state such a hyberole that Christian publishers are “promulgating lies”. They’re CHRISTIAN publishers. What else do you expect them to teach?

    That’s so precious. Freudian slip?

    • Question
      Posted March 10, 2010 at 10:53 am | Permalink

      wow, that is funny as hell.

    • SmilingAtheist
      Posted March 10, 2010 at 11:00 am | Permalink

      That is my favourite.

      • Michelle B
        Posted March 11, 2010 at 3:10 am | Permalink

        They equate Christianity with truth. They have no reason to do this, but that is what they have been indoctrinated to do so. So of course, they are publishing Christian truth which is the only truth. They can’t conceive that this published material is so off the mark that it is not even wrong, even when it is clearly pointed out to them.

        Arrogantly and ignorantly, they are wearing straight jackets of truthiness.

  22. Paramecium Brain
    Posted March 10, 2010 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    Some of us find our way out of the brain washing. I was home schooled for 12 years. I went through both the Bob Jones and Apologia biology books. The only thing they accomplished was to whet my appetite for more biology. I only wish more of my school friends were able to find their way out. But by the time most home schoolers get to college, they’re so brain washed and so close minded that no amount of evidence will convince them.

    If I end up homeschooling my future children they will get a thorough science education…even if I have to use college textbooks to do it.

  23. Insightful Ape
    Posted March 10, 2010 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    Oh the marvel of the second law…
    Priceless.

  24. Posted March 10, 2010 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    Great thing about today’s technological advances (thanks to science by the way, not some invisible dude) is that kids can go to school AND be “home schooled”.

    Whenever they get an assignment or project, they search the internet for relevant information. On the weekends, the curiousness of many leads them to interesting finds.

    The children of educated, smart parents (and by that I mean parents that do not enforce any type of views) will be more prone to weed out crap from the internet. They are taught to question.

    Oh, and BTW. . . “Questioning theory of evolution is not welcome” Are you F-ing kidding me?!?!

    Questioning of anything scientific is welcome, as long as you have proof. And one more thing… we ARE animals. Our Animal Kingdom species is Homo Sapiens Sapiens. The only difference between us and other animals is our ability to reason which many “religious” folk lack.

    • Artikcat
      Posted March 10, 2010 at 11:35 am | Permalink

      Miguel dont know where you going with your comments: “The children of educated, smart parents (and by that I mean parents that do not enforce any type of views)…”. Many well educated, scientists, politicans, the president(s)!! go to church, ergo: they enforce a kind of view on their children. Dont they? Want to emphasize the fact that the correlation between education/faith/no-faith is complicated.Very

      • Posted March 10, 2010 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

        That’s true. I kinda wrote in a hurry; what I meant was that when these children start to question, these parents wont get mad or try to “chastise” them for questioning.

    • Michelle B
      Posted March 11, 2010 at 3:15 am | Permalink

      How scary is it that these ignorant, arrogant people are afraid of being what they are, that is, human animals? I find it difficult to even talk to people who do not understand that they are animals. Seriously, what is wrong with them? Something so obvious as that, and they deny it? They are nuts.

  25. daveau
    Posted March 10, 2010 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    We choose what we choose for our children because it’s our right.

    Deliberately teaching your child to be ignorant is not a right. It is child abuse.

    • Darlene
      Posted March 10, 2010 at 11:23 am | Permalink

      If ignorance is a definition of child abuse, there are many public schools that should also be charged.

      The Supreme Court held up the rights of a parent to raise their child as they see fit. I don’t have to like it, but that doesn’t make it abuse.

      I can raise my child to be a bigot or a piano player or a sports nut–parents everywhere raise their children within their own belief systems. They have the right to do so. I do not want the state taking away kids because they don’t like what the parents are teaching them–that is a dangerous idea.

      Parents can teach their kids anything. Frankly, I homeschool because public school sure wasn’t teaching me kid anything, and even if I do a poor job it will probably be better then my local schools.

      I weep for the kids with illnesses and no health care; drug addicted parents; living in war zones or areas hit by natural disasters.

      If I was going to get all upset at ignorance, I’d have to be just as upset at all the high school drop outs, and the 50% of high school graduates who still need remedial help in math and English.

      I don’t like everyone thinking that homeschoolers are all religious jitters, I’m certainly not one. But I also don’t like the idea that the state has a greater right or ability to raise a child then a parent. And for all the creationist studies, these kids can often read and do math at higher levels then many more traditionally schooled kids ever will.

      These parents are not abusing their kids merely by following their religious studies. If they are beating their kids, if they are starving their kids, if they are withholding appropriate medical care, then cry abuse.

      • Insightful Ape
        Posted March 10, 2010 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

        Those who tell their children the world is 6000 years old are consciously deceptive or wilfully ignorant.
        Doing so on religious grounds is no excuse.

        • articulett
          Posted March 10, 2010 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

          To me, creationist parents are as abusive as white supremacist parents… they are inculcating trusting minds with a very intractable sort of ignorance.

          Sure parents can raise their kids to be racists, bigots, liars, Scientologists, fundamentalist Muslims, etc.

          But it doesn’t make it good or right. Society shouldn’t look away– they should freely discuss this, mock, educate, and do whatever they can to affect change.

          Why wouldn’t a non-fundamentalist home schooler be as concerned as we are about the poor education exemplified by Jerry’s fundie corresponants? You wouldn’t want someone to do that to your kid after all. You don’t want your kid to grow up sounding like those quoted above, would you?

          • Michelle B
            Posted March 11, 2010 at 3:25 am | Permalink

            As far as I am concerned, these ignorant, arrogant people are just like a crippled parent breaking the legs of her child so the child can be like her. Breaking a child’s mind, keeping it shackled to superstitions, at a period when evidential knowledge is crucial for our survival as a species, is abusive not only to the individual child but to us all.

            • Notagod
              Posted March 11, 2010 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

              Yes, it is the damage that the christian does to the mind that is so devastating to the individual and to society.

      • Posted March 10, 2010 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

        The old supreme court said x, qed argument. The supreme court was also ok with segregation.

        Abuse does not have to be physical, it can be emotional as well. Why not intellectual?

        And if you are going to weigh the best homeschooled kids against the worst public schooled kids, of course your set looks great.

        • Darlene
          Posted March 10, 2010 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

          I’m not weighing one against the other, I am pointing out that if ignorance is abuse then public schools should be held accountable.

          Parents have the right to raise their children as they see fit. The state can only intervene when the life of the child is at risk, usually in serious abuse or neglect or abadonment or medical treatments.

          To suggest that teaching my child something outside the mainstream is abuse is crazy. Parents can teach their kids religious or social or political views, and always have and always will. It is dangerous territory to imply that doing so is abuse: abuse leads to state intervention, and if thoughts are a crime no parent is safe.

          I don’t have to agree with what is being taught, I don’t have to like it, but I must respect the right of parents to teach their children unpopular or wrongheaded or stupid things.

          This is also not just a homeschooling issue. Even in public schools kids barely learn about evolution, and the ones from a religious background will ignore that for the lessons learned in church.

          Being ignorant of science, willful or otherwise, is not a crime. And freedom means freedom for everyone.

          I homeschool because my kid is getting a much better education at home. He read Darwin in seventh grade, and will be reading WEIT in ninth. I can homeschool, and give him an excellent education, because the rights of the parent supercede the rights of the state. For me to have that freedom, I have to allow others the same.

          • articulett
            Posted March 10, 2010 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

            No one is denying that your kid is getting a better education at home. However, this is an opinion of yours and you must realize that the respondents Jerry hold the same opinion about their own childrens’ education.

            The “weeping” is not for children like yours. It’s for the offspring of the corresponants whose excerpts we read. There is no need to get defensive. You aren’t shoving creationist pap in your child’s brain, and I’m sure you’d be appropriately bothered if any kid you cared about was having it done to them.

            • Darlene
              Posted March 10, 2010 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

              I know plenty of public schooled kids who think the world was created 6000 years ago.

              You know what, they live in clean homes with loving parents. They get medical care and puppies and sleepovers with friends and healthy meals.

              They aren’t beaten or starved or neglected. I don’t have to like what they think about every single thing, and they don’t have to like what I teach, but in order to live in free country people have to be free to do stuff I don’t like.

              Homeschooling succeeds because there is a fundamental right of parents to direct their kids education. When people start trying to take away the rights of a select group of people to do so freely, it impacts all of us.

              I am defensive because homeschooling needs to be defended. If everything I teach is regulated by the state there is no difference between home and public school. I wouldn’t have been free to teach my kid evolution in 7th grade because the standards say that year is for geology and he won’t pass the test if I don’t teach to it.

              Does it bother me that kids aren’t learning properly? Yes, it does. But I am also concerned about the kids who aren’t even able to read at a high school level who manage to graduate. They don’t have the option of doing their own research. I’m concerned about the dropouts who fall through the cracks and don’t learn anything.

              Education is more then one science class. Yes, it bothers me, but there are worse things.

            • Michelle B
              Posted March 11, 2010 at 3:37 am | Permalink

              Your points are well taken. However, I am more of the mind that ridiculing these ignorant, arrogant people is essential, along with ensuring that the final exams that home schooled children take show a basic grasp of science, while not outlawing homeschooling.

              All parents essentially ‘home school’ their kids, either partially (help with homework, field trips) or fully. I tend to support a mix.

          • blue
            Posted March 10, 2010 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

            well put; to ensure free speech in our society, we must sometimes defend odious speech.

      • latsot
        Posted March 11, 2010 at 2:02 am | Permalink

        daveau didn’t say that ignorance was child abuse, he(?) said that *teaching your child to be ignorant* is child abuse and I wholeheartedly agree. Teaching a child that critical thinking is wrong can handicap them for life. It can rob them of opportunity. It can make them susceptible to being exploited at the whim of perceived authority figures. And it can shape them into mediocre, guilt-ridden supplicants to a capricious, evil and above all non-existent maniac. I fail to see how this could be considered anything but child abuse.

        • latsot
          Posted March 11, 2010 at 2:06 am | Permalink

          I should point out that I’m not, of course, accusing Darlene in particular or homeschoolers in general of doing any of these things: I’m saying that if parents do these things, I consider it child abuse in just the same way I consider physical or sexual assaunt on children child abuse.

          Perhaps I should have made that clearer.

    • daveau
      Posted March 11, 2010 at 9:35 am | Permalink

      Insightful Ape, Lorax & Articulett (yes, he) have admirably ascertained and expounded upon the very nub of my gist. There is nothing wrong with home schooling, per se (see #16), but it damages both the child and society when the child remains ignorant of the most basic facts about our world and is ultimately unable to distinguish fantasy from reality. By all means we should have amateur teachers who don’t know the meaning of the word education making all the decisions on what is best for their children. Maybe we should give amateur doctors, pilots & engineers equal weight with those who have a lifetime of education training & experience. Here’s your MD, buddy, go for it. But you can only practice medicine on your own children.

      • daveau
        Posted March 11, 2010 at 9:37 am | Permalink

        Oh, and Latsot. Right to the point. (Sorry, I got confused following all that.)

  26. Chris Slaby
    Posted March 10, 2010 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    What never ceases to amaze me is the ease with which so many of these people admit their own (often willful) ignorance. This issue of the word “theory” is perhaps one of the most common complaints, and perhaps also one of the easiest to deal with. It’s both a basic lesson in socio-linguistics and biology. These people do not understand the difference between words used in everyday speech and words used in specific fields. Do they not realize that this is how language works, that you can have one word and that it can function and mean two different things in two different situations (one part of everyday speech and the other a specific linguistic setting). I invite linguists to join in with biologists, atheists, and other rationalists in clarifying this point.

    That these people decry the promulgation of evolution as fact even though it has the word theory in the title is clear proof that not only do they not realize that a scientific theory is different from a theory in everyday speech, but also that they don’t realize the irony of saying something so scientifically illiterate.

    Professor Coyne’s point rings clear here with phrases like theory of relativity and germ theory of disease. These are scientific theories, observable and testable realities. And by better understanding these things, we make the world a better place, in a very tangible way. Medical science is perhaps the easiest example, but that does not diminish it’s importance.

    Next time anti-science religious parents want their kids to get healthy, to have their bones mended, to rid them of cancer, will they turn to modern biological theories or biblical “facts?”

    • Michelle B
      Posted March 11, 2010 at 3:41 am | Permalink

      That is the point they never get, that they can’t cherry pick science, that when they do so, they are invalidating what science is. They can’t ignore blinding evidence just because it conflicts with their faith. And when they do that, their hypocrisy reaches critical mass: they do not deserve the wonderful things that science has given them. They are free-loaders, sabotaging the very entreprise that has extended their lives.

  27. Rowan Morrigan
    Posted March 10, 2010 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    To the letter writer who feels so strongly about all this: I think we should have the debate NOW with the current home-schooled graduates up against grads from the public schools. Let the kids decide. Make it public. Make it a broadcast event, like a Dancing with the Stars (judges *and* home viewers get to vote). Throw down the gauntlet, make it a public event, and have at it.

    • David Ratnasabapathy
      Posted March 10, 2010 at 11:43 am | Permalink

      Wouldn’t the public schools’ kids lose? You can’t win a debate against a liar.

      • articulett
        Posted March 10, 2010 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

        The truth isn’t really open for debate anyhow.

      • Rowan Morrigan
        Posted March 11, 2010 at 11:29 am | Permalink

        Of course you can win a debate against a liar. More to the point: Letting the kids fight it out publicly would exposed those home-schooled rascals to alternative positions. That’s the real benefit, regardless of “who wins” or not.

        • David Ratnasabapathy
          Posted March 13, 2010 at 11:04 am | Permalink

          How can you win? “Win” here means convince an ignorant religious audience you’re right. Unless both debaters are honestly committed to discovering truth, no, you cannot win.

          Put it another way: can you find an honest argument for Creationism? No. Yet Creationism enjoys wide public support. And this despite the free availability of Darwin’s Origin, Biology textbooks and hundreds of websites, starting with USENET’s talk.origins

    • Bertok
      Posted March 11, 2010 at 12:52 am | Permalink

      While I understand the appeal of having a debate on a contentious subject, I don’t think we should be debating scientific ideas. Let lawyers debate. No good science (education) can be done in a debate format.

      If it were the case that a formal debate could resolve two competing scientific ideas, we would have been doing so in the scientific community for a long time. I mean, this is why we have the scientific method in the first place, isn’t it?

      Debate is a trap that creationist rhetoricians desperately want us to spring. It gives them perceived legitimacy while allowing them to perform debate tricks like the “Gish Gallop,” from which few opponents can successfully recover in a limited amount of time.

      This is the whole reason that Dawkins refuses to debate creationists. Let’s not play into their hands anymore.

    • llewelly
      Posted March 11, 2010 at 7:31 am | Permalink

      When telling a lie, you can always make it simple enough for the audience to understand easily, and shape it to appeal to the biases of the audience.
      When telling the truth, you are stuck with whatever complexity it actually has. If you haven’t the time to include all the relevabnt complexity, you must make hard choices about what simplifications to make. If the audience doesn’t have the background or mental acuity to understand it – you are again forced to make hard choices about what to simplify, what to leave out, and how much of your audience to risk leaving confused.
      Furthermore, if it doesn’t appeal to the biases of your audience, well, you do the best you can with how you say it, but if you spin it, you abandon the truth.
      Reality, unlike lies, cannot be re-made to conform to the needs of a particular debate. This is why debate favors the dishonest.

  28. SteveC
    Posted March 10, 2010 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    “As it stands now, a debate is impossible, as all kids are taught one thing (evolution) as an article faith. Yes, an article of FAITH. As your unscientific attitude suggests, questioning the theory is not welcomed.”

    Yeah!!! FAITH is a *terrible* way to arrive at a conclusion! Anybody who uses faith must be an idiot!

    Seriously, anybody who uses faith is being an idiot, and concluding that evolution is true does not require the use of any faith.

    • Jeremy
      Posted March 10, 2010 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

      Steve, I’m also perennially surprised by that argument. You often hear of creationists sneering that acceptance of evolution is nothing more than blind faith in action. This is obviously nonsense even taken at face value, but aren’t they supposed to be “pro” faith??

      • articulett
        Posted March 10, 2010 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

        They are pro “their” faith– all conflicting faiths are bad.

        Calling science a faith is a way of dismissing science the way they dismiss other faiths so that they don’t have to realize that science is the only proven method for finding out anything verifiably true. One supernatural believer’s faith has no more evidence in it’s favor than another.

      • Michelle B
        Posted March 11, 2010 at 3:44 am | Permalink

        But, but, but, their faith is the true one! They have nothing against faith, after all it is their life blood, it is the false faiths that turn them off.

  29. Reinard
    Posted March 10, 2010 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    Maybe in a few years, when a number of smart home-schooled kids graduate (and they are smart!), they can finally have a debate with the public school kids who were taught evolution.

    What’s more likely to happen is that the smarter homeschooled kids who go on to study biology in college will find that their parents have given them a very inadequate education.

    • articulett
      Posted March 10, 2010 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

      Yes, I know such people myself. They tend to make excellent skeptics and teachers.

      They know the mind game of religion from the inside… and they know how to think their way out.

  30. Jonn Mero
    Posted March 10, 2010 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    What home-schoolers seem to ignore is the social aspect of kids going to school and mix with other kids from all sorts of different background, and learning LIFE-SKILLS, like that all kids are not nice, that if you annoy the strongest boy in the class you’ll get thumped, and so on.
    Take all that away from a kid, and you’ll never get a well-rounded person.
    Maybe the reason why so many xians are such boorish jerks?

    • Paramecium Brain
      Posted March 10, 2010 at 11:54 am | Permalink

      This is honestly a huge misconception about home schooling. While, yes, some parents severely shelter their children from anything and everything, the majority of home schooled children have just as developed social skills as publicly schooled children.

      A home schooled child doesn’t just interact with his or her siblings. Most home school groups have co-ops where group classes can be taught. I know my group had a track team, choir, yearly plays, four dances a year… The only area that my homeschooling education lacked in (and it lacked severely) was science.

      • gillt
        Posted March 10, 2010 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

        John Mero: “What home-schoolers seem to ignore is the social aspect of kids going to school”

        PB: “This is honestly a huge misconception about home schooling.”

        Beyond anecdotes, what’s the research say about it?

        • Posted March 10, 2010 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

          Here is a compilation of available research on homeschooling: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1317439

          As for the “benefits” of getting “thumped” by someone bigger and stronger, I believe there’s ample evidence that it is not beneficial to children. Thus the many “anti-bullying” programs.

          Given that humans evolved in family/tribal groups and homeschooling is substantially closer to that than institutional school is, I think it would be more interesting to look at whether or not school impedes children’s social development.

          • Posted March 10, 2010 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

            Given that humans evolved in family/tribal groups and homeschooling is substantially closer to that than institutional school is, I think it would be more interesting to look at whether or not school impedes children’s social development.

            They also died by 30 if not significantly sooner, so let’s not get too romantic for our lost tribal group existence.

            • Posted March 10, 2010 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

              True, but what does that have to do with 5 year olds learning social skills?

            • TheBlackCat
              Posted March 10, 2010 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

              Nothing at all, which is I think was Lorax’s point.

          • Draken
            Posted March 10, 2010 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

            I wouldn’t want to promote bullying as a beneficial component of a child’s upbringing, but what do you think they’re going to experience in later life if they want a career any notch higher than host at Burger King? I doubt you’ll learn social tenability from singing in the choir alone.

            • Posted March 10, 2010 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

              What a stupid thing to say. Your child needs to be bullied so he/she will grow up to stay in his/her perpetual victim role…

              Damn, that’s just stupid beyond belief.

            • Draken
              Posted March 11, 2010 at 8:06 am | Permalink

              @Moses: No, you forgot to read my starting disclaimer, and maybe I should have elaborated a bit.

              When I started primary school at age 6, I was the smallest, thinnest, glasses-wearing kid in the class, and not terribly quick in teamsports either. And I was the brightest learner, so all conditions were there to trigger adversary genes in some other children.

              It never came to fullblown mobbing, but sure there were some ugly bastards coming close. And I learned, with some help from observant teachers and parents, how to deal with it.

              How are you going to learn that if, during childhood, you’ve never been confronted with children who do not think you’re the completely loveable, innocent fellow you’d like to think you are?

          • gillt
            Posted March 10, 2010 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

            Ellen: “I think it would be more interesting to look at whether or not school impedes children’s social development.’

            Feel free to frame the question to align with your bias, but I’m asking if there’s any research to justify your view.

            • Darlene
              Posted March 10, 2010 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

              http://www.nheri.org/Research-Facts-on-Homeschooling.html

              From the link: ·          The home-educated are doing well, typically above average, on measures of social, emotional, and psychological development. Research measures include peer interaction, self-concept, leadership skills, family cohesion, participation in community service, and self-esteem.”

              If you can find any research saying otherwise, I’d love to see it.

            • gillt
              Posted March 10, 2010 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

              The link is the website of the National Homeschool Education Institute. It sounds like a federal research institute (e.g., NIH, NHGRI, NICHD, etc.) but it’s a non-profit, an advocacy group.

              Admittedly, I don’t know much about it, but it doesn’t appear to be a neutral source of information on home schooling.

            • Darlene
              Posted March 10, 2010 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

              I would love to see any other research.

            • gillt
              Posted March 11, 2010 at 7:45 am | Permalink

              I haven’t found much. Visit the wiki site and look under criticisms to homeschooling.

              The lack of relevant data is makes it difficult to form an opinion either way.

            • articulett
              Posted March 11, 2010 at 8:25 am | Permalink

              I agree that it’s hard to find eviden since the majority of fundy schooled kids don’t go on to “worldly” higher institutions of education– yet they “need” the statistics of the smart home-schooled kids who do so that they don’t look completey ignorant in comparison.

              However, most homeschooled kids don’t take any standardized tests beyond what is required, and no state seems to require any testing beyond 10th grade.

              Moreover, in my experience, most home-schooled kids actually have a mixture of public and private education.

              Parents who have children interested in a college are probably more likely to equip such children with a decent education (or send them to Bob Jones University or some other dumbed down school where they can learn the fine skills of bullshitting their way through life.)

              Clearly you CAN get a decent home-school education, but those who are educated using the books that inspired this post are clearly not. An injustice is being done to those children.

    • Posted March 10, 2010 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

      The bottom-line is most homeschoolers interact over a broad-based peer/social grouping, instead of a narrow-based one. Because my child interacts with children in all stages of development, not a narrow-aged peer group, the broad exposure to different ages actually helps her mature faster than her age-segregated peers.

      In short, when she starts acting like an angsty 13-year-old, her 16-year-old peers correct that behavior. In turn, when an 9-year-old is lording it over a 6-year-old, she corrects him…

      And so social skills and values are passed down (and sometimes up) the social hierarchy.

      Whereas in the age-segregated groups… There is much less vertical interaction and behavior modification. Which tends to retard emotional growth, not foster it…

      • gillt
        Posted March 10, 2010 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

        So in other words, you don’t know of any research that supports or refutes your anecdote?

      • Chayanov
        Posted March 10, 2010 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

        Aside from your 13-year-old hanging out with 16-year-olds, just how do they “correct” her behavior? If they mock her or make fun of her, well, then they’re bullying her. Or are you really going to claim that these teens are engaging in rational and meaningful discourse about emotional growth?

      • MadScientist
        Posted March 10, 2010 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

        This sounds to me to be a lot like the “learning by osmosis” nonsense (which is unfortunately believed by some people in the world of education). I’m with gilt – where is the evidence to support your assertions?

        • Darlene
          Posted March 10, 2010 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

          http://www.nheri.org/Research-Facts-on-Homeschooling.html

          From the link: ·          The home-educated are doing well, typically above average, on measures of social, emotional, and psychological development. Research measures include peer interaction, self-concept, leadership skills, family cohesion, participation in community service, and self-esteem.”

          If you can find any research saying otherwise, I’d love to see it.

  31. Posted March 10, 2010 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    Interesting: just two days ago Leonard Pitts (the columnist) spoke about the role of “facts” in society and noted that we are now at a point in which people think that a “fact” is merely what one chooses to believe. :)

    Groan….
    But again, take heart. Many people eventually outgrow their upbringing.

  32. Occam
    Posted March 10, 2010 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    I wonder how many of these dim, angry souls would live up to their logic and the courage of their convictions if the lives of their children were in peril: how many of them would prefer faith healing to scientific medicine?
    In Nazi Germany, Deutsche Physik, Deutsche Mathematik, Deutsche Chemie ultimately failed because they came to be seen as ineffective.
    In the USSR, Lysenkoism had to be dropped when the disasters it inflicted upon Soviet agriculture were no longer bearable.
    But those ideologies were child’s play, compared to religion. And they were the tools of dictatorships whose grip on power depended on stark, immediate, practical contingencies.
    What hardships, what sufferings would persuade religious zealots to give up their rape of innocent minds?

    I view home-schooling on religious terms, such as illustrated by the above email excerpts, as nothing less than the intellectual equivalent of incest. Also, I fear, as the moral equivalent, at least in the long term, judging from the few cases I’ve known.

  33. rfguy
    Posted March 10, 2010 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    Wow. Such arrogant ignorance (in the emails).

    I have a friend who was home-schooled, though not for religious reasons. He fully accepts evolution and thinks creationists are kooks. If I had children, though, I wouldn’t home-school them despite the fact that they might get a first-rate scientific education, as I think that home-schooling can deprive the child of a sort of social education.

    -mark.

    • Posted March 10, 2010 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

      No. Sorry. Not even slightly unless you completely suck as a home-schooling parent.

      • rfguy
        Posted March 10, 2010 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

        “unless you completely suck as a home-schooling parent.”

        Well, that’s always possible…in fact, I think it may be quite likely.

        -mark.

  34. Michael Heath
    Posted March 10, 2010 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    I guess these critics are in no way ready for me. I argue that denying an adequate education to any student regarding scientific methodology and evolution is an insidious form of child abuse. Abuse that can compromise many/most? of these students’ life choices by effectively narrowing their educative and career opportunities.

  35. Posted March 10, 2010 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    “We choose what we choose for our children because it’s our right.”

    Oh to be a fly on the wall at the job interviews “No, Dad dint’t teach me X,Y Z, because he didn’t understand it to teach it”

  36. Zoea
    Posted March 10, 2010 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    I live in Louisiana. I’ve had enough of this. South Dakota here I come.

  37. Posted March 10, 2010 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    Thank you so much for recognizing there are secular homeschoolers that believe in Evolution and teach it to their students.

    My parents who graduated from PUBLIC SCHOOLS and believe in Creationism. From talking to them I have gathered that what they were taught concerning evolution was shoddy at best.

    They are outraged that not only do I believe in Evolution I taught it to my children. And no I didn’t learn about Evolution in the Public Schools, I learned from reading on my own. My youngest son did try to explain Evolution to my Mother, but it’s hard to get knowledge inside a closed mind.

    Anyway the main reason I choose to homeschool was to insure my children learned about Evolution we actually read works by Charles Darwin, including the Origin of Species. Thanks for not lumping all homeschoolers together.

  38. A Thinking Man
    Posted March 10, 2010 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    Besides the overtly religious overtones attached to most instances of home schooling, the big argument by thinkers that is not being tackled is that there is nothing preventing parents from teaching their children whatever they want outside of school hours, whether at home, in a church or synagogue, under an oak tree in a private glade, or wherever else they want to perform their favourite rituals.

    The other benefit to actually getting up and going to school is the interaction with other children, which leads to a better understanding of societal behaviours and interaction.

    Public (and good private) schools teach what is generally known as scientific and general knowledge that is deemed important for success in the modern society. Churches et al teach what people think they need to hear so their heads don’t explode when something horrible happens in their life.

    Finally, in response to another opinion I heard from a home-schooling parent, keeping children at home to protect them from the supposed “evils of the world” only harms them in the end.

  39. Your Name's Not Bruce?
    Posted March 10, 2010 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    How many of these proudly ignorant people would be as quick to make such confidently sweeping statements about other subjects like astronomy, chemistry or particle physics? Of course with the interdisciplinary nature of much of science they are, by denying evolution, also denying those parts of astronomy, chemistry and particle physics which offer support for evolution.

    Simply appalling.

  40. raven
    Posted March 10, 2010 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    Xian Kook:

    “It’s laughable that you would even state such a hyberole that Christian publishers are “promulgating lies”. They’re CHRISTIAN publishers. What else do you expect them to teach?”

    There is a common error here. Most Xians worldwide don’t have a problem with evolution. Creationism is the domain of mostly US fundies.

    The publishers of creationist lies aren’t Christian publishers, they are fundie Xian liar publishers.

    The so called moderate and Catholic Xians shouldn’t let these clowns get away with claiming to be the only xians when they are a minority of them.

    • Michelle B
      Posted March 11, 2010 at 3:50 am | Permalink

      Yup.

      • Michelle B
        Posted March 11, 2010 at 3:51 am | Permalink

        But of course, they would describe themselves as ‘true Christians.’

  41. raven
    Posted March 10, 2010 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    Some of these kids are going to grow up and learn that their parents are ignorant and lied to them. It happens a lot.

    There is an assumption that if you lie to and brainwash your kids that it works forever. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t.

    One poster once said that his father explained to him when he was 8 that dinosaurs and humans used to live together. The kid’s reaction was something like, “It was then that I realized dad didn’t know anything about science.”

  42. Posted March 10, 2010 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    One of the reasons I moved to Germany is that homeschooling is illegal here. The idea is that there are certain basic shared values in a country and children miss these if they don’t go to school. Of course, the really determined can circumvent even this; recently, a German family was given political asylum in Tennessee!

  43. Posted March 10, 2010 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    Following on from my last comment, let me note that the number of religious fundamentalists (of whatever religion) is quite low in Europe. Even most organised religions officially accept evolution. (Personally, I think that the “God said it, I believe it, that settles it” approach is less hypocritical, though of course wrong. From a practical point of view, however, harmless hypocrites are less dangerous than True Believers.)

    • MadScientist
      Posted March 10, 2010 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

      Those “harmless hypocrites” encourage the “true believers” by supporting their demented views of the world. After all, except for the “kill everyone who does not agree” bit, the “true believers” are exactly like the “harmless hypocrites”.

      • Milton C.
        Posted March 10, 2010 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

        While evolution-accepting believers share many irrational beliefs with creationists and support THOSE beliefs, they very much do not support their views on creationism. Either that, or the many angry anticreationism believers I know are very good at lying.

        If our battle is crushing religion, lets broadbrush, by all means. If it’s increasing a public acceptance of evolution, let’s not “nom nom nom” our way to groupthink irrelevancy by claiming evolution-accepting believers “support” the beliefs of creationists. Attack their philosophy if you’d like, but don’t intentionally misrepresent their position.

  44. Posted March 10, 2010 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    God did not SAY “In The Beginning.” You can’t get three words into your own mythology without misreading it?

  45. theshortearedowl
    Posted March 10, 2010 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    Conversation with an otherwise intelligent, educated school friend in Europe (remembered gist):

    Friend: “I’m a Catholic”
    Me: “So you think contraception is wrong?”
    Friend: “No”
    Me: “Abortion?”
    Friend: “Not necessarily”
    Me: “And the Pope is infallible?”
    Friend: “Well…. No.”
    Me: “So why are you a Catholic?”
    Friend: “Just am”

    It may not make sense, but at least it’s sensible.

    • Draken
      Posted March 10, 2010 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

      The south of the Netherlands, where I was born, is also one of those ‘liberated catholic’ enclaves. I grew up in the seventies and eighties amongst people who had mostly left the official Church altogether (except for Christmas night, baptisms and burials, in short when there’s booze on the horizon). Many would still have called themselves ‘catholic’, though, even if they were using contraceptives and doing everything Rome forbid. Sense of belonging maybe?

      • ritebrother
        Posted March 10, 2010 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

        “Cultural catholicism” is pretty common among my peers who grew up in white ethnic communities in Philadelphia. Whether they be Italian, Croatian, Ukranian, Irish, whatever, the Catholicism is such a part of their family ethnic identity that it’s maintained for that reason, but without any real theological or dogmatic commitment.

  46. Posted March 10, 2010 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    The saddest part about all this is watching people turn their child’s privilege into a liability. Not everyone is financially independent enough to home-school, and those least likely to have that freedom are most likely to live near terrible schools. To have the OPPORTUNITY to home-school, and then to squander it filling your kid’s head with nonsense, is one of the worst things you can do that isn’t explicitly illegal.

  47. USNA Ancient
    Posted March 10, 2010 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again … these “parents” who buy into the B.S. of creationism in whatever form and deny evolution are child abusers plain and simple, as well as being ignorant, knuckle-dragging miscreants ! It must in part be genetic … stupid is as stupid does !

    • newenglandbob
      Posted March 10, 2010 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

      I seriously doubt they drag their knuckles (at least when when not watching NASCAR with beer in hand)

  48. rustywheeler
    Posted March 10, 2010 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    Read the post, wanted to cry. Read the comments, feel better now.

  49. Occam
    Posted March 10, 2010 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    “hyberole” update:
    Google shows 907 “hyberole” hits as of the minute of this posting, including the ones here.

  50. MadScientist
    Posted March 10, 2010 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    So parents believe that their children are mere possessions over which they can exert some rights? Now I understand why the UN created the “declaration of rights of the child”. Children are mere pets to be treated however the owner wishes – because everyone knows that kids will never want to go out into the world and live their own life. They must be trained to be at least as ignorant and bitter as their parents.

    • Eric MacDonald
      Posted March 10, 2010 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

      Yes, this is what concerns me so much. Why is thought that children have no rights where education is concerned? We know that children are sometimes abused physically by their parents, that they are abused sexually, and often emotionally. Why should it not be recognised that children can also be abused intellectually? Homeschooled children should have standards that must be met, curricula that must be followed, and, failing that, they should be required to attend school. It is simply wrong to permit children to grow up without the benefits of a sound education, and wrong to suppose that they should be entirely captive to their parents’ beliefs and prejudices.

    • tomh
      Posted March 10, 2010 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

      So parents believe that their children are mere possessions over which they can exert some rights? Now I understand why the UN created the “declaration of rights of the child”.

      In the United States children are indeed treated as possessions of the parents, but only if the parents’ wishes are connected to religion. In most states parents are exempt, to varying degrees, from abuse statutes, up to and including refusing medical treatment for children, as long as it is for religious reasons, even if it results in the death of the child. Religious opposition is the main reason that the US is one of two countries who have not ratified the UN declaration of rights of the child. Somalia is the other.

    • daveau
      Posted March 11, 2010 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

      I wouldn’t treat pets like that, either.

  51. Carl
    Posted March 10, 2010 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    I feel sorry for the children being indoctrinated into creationism instead of a good education, there should be a law for this stupidity.

  52. norwegianshooter
    Posted March 10, 2010 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    Dr. Wile responds to Jerry:You might note that in the AP article, Dr. Jerry Coyne used his fervent faith in evolution to predict that my books “may steer students away from careers in biology or the study of the history of the earth.” Instead, the myriads of success stories clearly show that my books do exactly the opposite. [ed. note - no they don't] Thus, while this is not a failed prediction of the theory of evolution itself, it is a failed prediction made by an evolutionist, based on his evolutionary faith. Not only does evolution produce lots of failed predictions, it seems that evolutionists do as well. Of course, that’s not surprising. If you base your view on unscientific ideas, you will come to unscientific conclusions!”

  53. raven
    Posted March 10, 2010 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    Dr. Wile:

    “Instead, the myriads of success stories clearly show that my books do exactly the opposite.”

    Acceptance of evolution runs around 99% of scientists in relevant fields in the USA. It is higher in Europe.

    Those myriads of bible spouting creatist biologists and geologists seem to exist only in Dr. Wiles imagination. Got any references for that claim besides “god told me through the voices in my head?”

    And oh yeah, fundie xians are lower in socioeconomic status than the general population. Looks like they intend to stay there but it is OK. Someone has to mow my lawn and wash the car.

  54. hugh7
    Posted March 10, 2010 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    “The scientific community cannot have both entropy and evolution; they are mutually exclusive. By the way, I am sure you know the 2nd LAW of thermodynamics (not 2nd THEORY of thermodynamics).”

    Sigh. Yes, we know the Second Law of Thermodynamics, probably better than this person.

    If the Second Law of Thermodynamics made evolution impossible (or as this person puts it if you “cannot have both entropy and evolution; they are mutually exclusive”) then it also makes LIFE impossible “you cannot have both entropy and life; they are mutually exclusive”. Evolution is just life in the long view.

    As (was it? JBS Haldane said, “But madam, you did it yourself, and it only took you nine months.”

    • Posted March 10, 2010 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

      I would point out this “freedom” people are so enamored with (parents doing what they want regarding a childs education) presents a problem. BTW I don’t know the answer to this problem, but its worth thinking about and not just sweeping under the rug. Basically, the argument is that parents get to fuck up their kids in any way possible (short of leaving permanent scars or easily observed bruises). The rights of the parents outweigh the rights of the child. This makes some superficial sense as parents are the guardians. However, what do the parents lose if that right is infringed upon? What do the children lose if that right is NOT infringed upon?

      • Darlene
        Posted March 10, 2010 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

        The only way to “correct” a situation is to remove the child from the parents. Are you a foster parent? Are you willing to take in every kid who lives with fundamentalist parents? States barely have budgets to deal with real physical abuse and neglect as it is, and plenty of kids end up beaten to death or starved or chained in a basement because social services are usually overwhelmed andunderfunded and burnt out.

        So, the child loses his home and his family. The family loses their child.

        In in abusive or neglectful situations there is always effort put into maintaining relationships between a child and his or her family. Even a screwed up parent is loved by a child. To take that away requires substantial proof of harm.

        There is almost no other way to enforce a child’s right. Yes, occasionally courts will intervene in medical issues, if brought to their attention, but the only way to really enforce even that, ultimately, is to have the state step in as the guardian. And that is a situation where there is immediate physical danger.

        It is wonderfully idealistic to think that all children should be brought up with perfect parents, but it isn’t necessary. Good enough parents are just that: good enough. Kids are very resiliant, and so many teens rebel against their parents that it is considered normal, so why do we think kids will always be just like their parents? Some will, some won’t. Some will grow up in scientific homes and find religion later and disavow evolution.

        When the rights of the parent to raise their child is infringed upon, it destroys a family and a home. Yes, there are times when it is necessary for the safety and well-being of the child. But it should only be done when necessary for the life of the child.

        That the state has a right to interfere with ideas, not actions, opens a whole slew of cans, filled with yucky worms. How do you even do it? Anyone who buys a BJU text gets a visit from social services? So buying books is a crime?

        I’ll tell you what would happen. Parents would teach their kids whatever was on the test, and they would hide their true teachings. And nothing would change, it would just be underground.

        • Craig
          Posted March 10, 2010 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

          I’m not sure that the only way to “correct” the situation is to remove the child from the parents.

          Imagine, if you will, an institution that is open five days a week, staffed by professionals with a diversity of interests, training and experience, and whose mission is to provide a common level of education and socialization for all children, regardless of the stupidity of the parents.

          Now imagine that said institution (let’s provisionally call it a “public school”) is required by law to provide the same services to all children, and that all children (with some very specific exceptions) are required to attend for, oh, around thirteen years.

          So, this marvelous institution would provide a mechanism for any child to escape from the more odious parts of their upbringing if they so choose, while still leaving the basic structure of the family intact. I suspect that we’d even find that the majority of children trained this way retain most of their parent’s core beliefs, but just maybe have a little bit of perspective that would allow them to understand that other people might just have other beliefs.

          Wow, too bad no such place exists.

          • Darlene
            Posted March 11, 2010 at 8:37 am | Permalink

            And what about parents who don’t want a public school education for their kids?

            The only way to enforce such a requirement is to, ultimately, remove children from their homes. That is what happens in Germany, which is why a homeschool family was granted asylum in the US.

            Another thing: public schools fail huge swathes of children. Gifted kids are often ignored and bored and few schools have programs for them. Many gifted kids get pulled to either private or home schools because they don’t fit.

            Special needs kids are often a bad fit, especially in older grades when the interventions stop and the abusive behavior of other kids begins. These parents would also not have a choice.

            And…most states currently do have testing requirements in maths and reading. So I am unsure what else you want? Critical thinking? Is that even taught in public schools? I somehow doubt the general population even sit in a logic class, so to suggest public school is a fix is disingenuous at best.

            This “marvelous institution” has a national dropout rate of almost 33%, and of the graduates about 50% require remedial classes before starting college or seeking a job.

            There aren’t easy answers, and mandatory attendance at a public school is certainly not one.

            As soon as a parent gets fed up with their student being groped in gym class or ignored in math class or suspended for saying no to drugs or hugging a grieving friend and wants to remove their kid, the law steps in.

            Either the parent has the right to control their kid’s education or not. If they do, they can home or private school. If they don’t, and public school isn’t working for their kid, what is their choice? To defy the law, and they only way for the state to enforce that law, ultimately, is to remove the kids.

            • Posted March 11, 2010 at 9:39 am | Permalink

              Either the parent has the right to control their kid’s education or not.

              Well that’s a question isn’t it. Based on your two posts, I don’t think you are actually in thinking about this question in more than a superficial level.

              If they do, they can home or private school. If they don’t, and public school isn’t working for their kid, what is their choice? To defy the law, and they only way for the state to enforce that law, ultimately, is to remove the kids.

              Ah, the false dichotomy. There are only two possibilities, the one you favor and armageddon. That’s one of the problems with glossing over questions superficially. Was the suggestion made to make homeschooling illegal, because your response seems to suggest it was. What about having an national or state examination in order to graduate from high school, middle school, and grade school? All students have to take it to move on regardless of where the education is taking place.

              You raise some real concerns about public education. Of course you don’t do the same about homeschooling. Why is that?

              My concern is that large swaths of homeschooled children are not getting an education about the real world. You argue about parental rights, what about a child’s right to not have to be ignorant? I would argue that parents have the responsibility and duty to attempt to educate their children. By your logic parents seem to have the right to raise their children as complete illiterates. (Yes, I know that illiteracy is a problem across the US and in the public schools, but no one is suggesting that the state has the right to raise illiterate children. Also we can fire the leaders that fail our children, parents are difficult to fire.) Since you argue that parents have the right to ignore basic biology, physics, and geology, what about reading and writing? math? do parents even have to teach their children how to speak?

            • Darlene
              Posted March 11, 2010 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

              So we have a national test to move on, like the SATs or ACTs?

              Most parents who homeschool do a pretty good job. They might be weak in science, or math, or it might be superficial in literature, but not every kid needs or wants a rigorous prep school.

              And so what if we have an exam to pass, so everyone studies to the test, what does that prove?

              I raise concerns for public schools because I think it is bogus to complain about the poor homeschoolers who can read and write and do math, albeit with a poor understanding of science, when the touted alternative is doing so badly.

              There may be some badly taught homeschoolers, and private schoolers, and public schoolers. And there will be plenty more who have an adequate education. And there will be some who are exceptional students and who excell in academics and do well when they can follow their passions and interests, regardless of the school.

              Yes, we can fire a horrible teacher. After she ruins hundreds of kids. If she doesn’t have tenure, or isn’t in a union. Show me, please, all the illiterate homeschoolers. Not having a solid grounding in science is not the same as being illiterate.

              For a parent to not teach a child to speak would require such neglect that speaking would be the least of the issues. Children are sponges, and if they can learn things without a classroom.

              As an FYI, my state requires yearly testing in reading and math, only. Is that not enough? You seem to think homeschoolers have no oversight at all, and that isn’t true. While it varies from state to state, most do have some oversight, but reading and math are most important.

              To conclude, unless homeschoolers are doing significantly worse then public or private schools, there really is nothing to complain about.

            • Posted March 12, 2010 at 6:30 am | Permalink

              I notice that you throw around a lot of most and more terms. Can you back the up with any data (and Im not saying you cant)?

              You also spend a lot of time missing the point of my argument, which may have to do with the defensive blinders you have on regarding homeschooling.

              Finally, I can complain if I want to despite your false equivalency statements. The Homeschooling Creation Science Fair is a problem and I can and should complain about it. Throwing out the “well this is also a problem so we dont have to deal with this” card is ridiculous.

        • articulett
          Posted March 11, 2010 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

          Well, if the home schooled kids grow up to reason like Darlene and some of the other homeschooling parents posting here, I’d say there is something to complain about.

          How many home-schooled kids go beyond their parents in education? My parents had very little college, and all three of their children have advanced degrees. I am thankful for the public education I received as well the public education my own child received.

  55. Posted March 10, 2010 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

    It’s quite intriguing to me watching a supposedly intellectual dialogue degrade into comments like “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again … these “parents” who buy into the B.S. of creationism in whatever form and deny evolution are child abusers plain and simple, as well as being ignorant, knuckle-dragging miscreants ! It must in part be genetic … stupid is as stupid does !”

    Nothing quite smacks of a lack of solid argument as name-calling. Whether you are pro or con in any dialogue, such feeble attempts at degradation simply make one question the solidness of the intellectual foundation of the speaker.

    Having followed this thread (essentially accidentally) for the first time, I had hoped for some degree of rational discourse.

    For instance, questions such as there being no a-priori evidence that led to Einstein’s “assumption” about the speed of light, Bohr’s “assumption” about stable orbits, or Planck’s “assumption” that wonderfully quantified energy are disturbingly absent.

    I would posit that such musings by paradigm-shattering men represent FAITH at the ultimate level. Yet we don’t decry the results of those assumptions. Nor do we argue vigorously against them without having a GENUINE knowledge of the subtleties of their arguments.

    I’m also somewhat surprised at the lack of discussion about irreducible complexity or even intelligent design. Of course that lack likely arises from the same aggressive defensiveness held to by many evolutionists. Or perhaps the confidence of cliche-driven evolutionists isn’t adequate to present logical counter-arguments?

    Speaking as a teacher of both physics and chemistry (forty-six years in public school, private school and university) I’m also somewhat perplexed by the glaring lack of any “mechanism” explaining the transition from one species to another, even at the mono-cellular level. Maybe I’ve just not Googled the right places, and if any of you could direct me to such explanations, I would savor the opportunity to read those explanations.

    Even a theory as abstract yet functional as quantum theory proposes actual mechanisms in transitioning from one state to another. I often wonder why highly evangelistic evolutionists don’t attempt the same.

    I agree with some of the posts here that there are many in the creationist community who are as guilty of name-calling and “other-view” ignorance as some of the verbally violent evolutionists and atheists who post here.

    Oh, and speaking of the home schooling syndrome that seemed to have started all this… when I observe the continuing decline of critical thinking in students today and their mind-numbing dependence on EEDs (Electronic Enjoyment Devices) I have to commend those who undertake the daunting task of doing the home school thing.

    In fact, in my university teaching, several of my students have come from the home school ranks. I have yet to find one who isn’t intelligent, knowledgeable, curious, unafraid of debate… even fully socialized.

    Anyway, as my octogenarian Uncle Gord used to say, “Fight the fight, keep the faith.”

    And might I add, whichever side you are on. Listen, debate at a high level, and never be afraid to go where logic leads.

    • Posted March 11, 2010 at 5:24 am | Permalink

      Here is an idea: find one breakthrough that was either predicted or achieved by intelligent design. Or: find one research university or one non-sectarian university that teaches or researches it. As far as “irreducible complexity”: search for the Dover trial testimony or click on Professor Coyne’s article “The Great Mutator”.

    • latsot
      Posted March 11, 2010 at 5:32 am | Permalink

      “Nothing quite smacks of a lack of solid argument as name-calling.”

      Deliberately stunting a child’s intellectual development is a form of abuse every bit as serious as sexual or violent abuse. This is not name-calling, but a statement of fact. If someone doesn’t understand evolution or denies that it is a fact, they are ignorant. Another statement of fact.

      “For instance, questions such as there being no a-priori evidence that led to Einstein’s “assumption” about the speed of light, Bohr’s “assumption” about stable orbits, or Planck’s “assumption” that wonderfully quantified energy are disturbingly absent.

      I would posit that such musings by paradigm-shattering men represent FAITH at the ultimate level. ”

      What they in fact had were hypotheses, which were then tested and found to be correct. That’s where the evidence comes in. You might insist that they had faith that their hypotheses would eventually come to be supported by evidence, but this is an entirely different thing to blind faith in a bronze age book. For one thing, if the evidence failed to materialise or contrary evidence was discovered, they would have abandoned or modified their hypotheses. By contrast, the religious cling to their beliefs despite the continued total lack of evidence and god’s relentless retreat into ever smaller gaps.

      You do understand the difference, don’t you? If Einstein, say, had been proven wrong and yet continued to cling to his hypotheses, then I would call it a position of faith in the same way that religious belief is.

      “I’m also somewhat surprised at the lack of discussion about irreducible complexity or even intelligent design. Of course that lack likely arises from the same aggressive defensiveness held to by many evolutionists. Or perhaps the confidence of cliche-driven evolutionists isn’t adequate to present logical counter-arguments?”

      IC/ID has been discussed on this site many times. Nobody here is a stranger to its tedious non-arguments. You might not have noticed, but this thread is about homeschooling and it’s generally polite to stay on topic, which is one reason it hasn’t been discussed here. Have a look around the site and you’ll see plenty of arguments against ID from Jerry and others. Or better still, read his book.

      “Speaking as a teacher of both physics and chemistry (forty-six years in public school, private school and university) I’m also somewhat perplexed by the glaring lack of any “mechanism” explaining the transition from one species to another, even at the mono-cellular level. ”

      What kind of ‘mechanism’ do you expect to see? There is nothing particularly special about the ‘transition’ and no particular special moment when one species becomes another. Perhaps you could clarify what information you’re looking for so people can attempt to provide it.

      “Even a theory as abstract yet functional as quantum theory proposes actual mechanisms in transitioning from one state to another. I often wonder why highly evangelistic evolutionists don’t attempt the same.”

      Because quantum states are not the same things as species. Change in species is gradual and it’s only after the fact that we humans decide that a group of organisms should be called a new species. I’m still not sure you mean by ‘mechanism’, but I’m fairly certain that nobody has found such a mechanism because there isn’t one – or any need for one.

      “In fact, in my university teaching, several of my students have come from the home school ranks. I have yet to find one who isn’t intelligent, knowledgeable, curious, unafraid of debate… even fully socialized.”

      One would hope that everyone in a university was intelligent, knowledgeable etc… Perhaps your sample is not very representative of homeschoolers in general. Personally, I’ve no idea.

      “Anyway, as my octogenarian Uncle Gord used to say, “Fight the fight, keep the faith.””

      Ah, the typical religious sign-off. A smug implication that our belief in evolution is based on faith. You’ll be offering to pray for us next.

    • Necandum
      Posted March 11, 2010 at 5:37 am | Permalink

      1) Re the name calling. I beleive that in every debate there comes a time when one side is found to be so ridiculous and devoid of susbstance that ridicule is the only remaining response. I further beleive that point was reached in the evolution vs creation debate quite a long time ago. It is also ironic you question the intelligence of your opposition only on the basis of the name calling, rather than chanllenging any of the ideas.

      2) A mechanism for species to species change? I think that you are imagining a species to be some kind of ‘unit’ that over time changes into another ‘unit’. This is incorrect. Species do not ‘exist’ as such. They are but labels applied by humans to describe a group of animals which are more or less similar. Thus, one species does not ‘turn into’ another species any more than a mother ‘turn into’ her child. There is but a continum, sometimes broken by real gaps, sometimes by purely imaginary ones.

      3)Logic lead to many places, but God isn’t one of them, unless the premise is quite flawed indeed.

      4) Generalising anecdotes aren’t much good. Though I agree with you about the EEDs…except BF2142. That right there is quality.

      Further information about evolution:
      Talk Origins Archive

    • TheBlackCat
      Posted March 11, 2010 at 10:34 am | Permalink

      Nothing quite smacks of a lack of solid argument as name-calling. Whether you are pro or con in any dialogue, such feeble attempts at degradation simply make one question the solidness of the intellectual foundation of the speaker.

      No, there is one thing that is far more indicative of a lack of a solid argument: focusing on tone rather than content. Lots of people have provided lots of reasons for this conclusion, lots of arguments against creationist, and lots of answers to creationist questions (answers that have been ignored by those creationists). Yet rather than addressing any of their points, you focus on how mean they are. The most common reason we see for this tactic is when someone has no answer for their points, and wants to distract people from that. If you don’t want people here to conclude that about you, then perhaps you should address what they say, rather than how they say it.

      For instance, questions such as there being no a-priori evidence that led to Einstein’s “assumption” about the speed of light, Bohr’s “assumption” about stable orbits, or Planck’s “assumption” that wonderfully quantified energy are disturbingly absent.

      They provided testable hypotheses along with specific predictions of what sort of phenomena you would expect to see if they were right, and then people went out and looked for that phenomena. No one accepted these ideas just on their say-so, people accepted their ideas because they were vindicated by the evidence. And they were perfectly willing to change their ideas when the evidence indicated they were wrong. Einstein was against quantum mechanics, but ultimately accepted it on the weight of the evidence.

      That is the difference between science and faith: there are way to actually go out and test whether a scientific hypothesis is right or not.

      I am extremely disappointed that a science teacher like you doesn’t even know the basics of the scientific method. It is very disturbing.

      Speaking as a teacher of both physics and chemistry (forty-six years in public school, private school and university) I’m also somewhat perplexed by the glaring lack of any “mechanism” explaining the transition from one species to another, even at the mono-cellular level. Maybe I’ve just not Googled the right places, and if any of you could direct me to such explanations, I would savor the opportunity to read those explanations.

      What is the problem with “a large number of small changes over a large period of time” or “genetic changes and/or behavioral and/or geographic isolation that prevents interbreeding”? This seem like fairly straight-forward explanations for me.

      What are the mechanisms used in special creation, “poof”? You really consider that on par with quantum mechanics?

      Even a theory as abstract yet functional as quantum theory proposes actual mechanisms in transitioning from one state to another.

      Which is exactly why it is science not faith, despite your claims above.

      I often wonder why highly evangelistic evolutionists don’t attempt the same.

      We did, about a century ago, as I explained above.

      In fact, in my university teaching, several of my students have come from the home school ranks. I have yet to find one who isn’t intelligent, knowledgeable, curious, unafraid of debate… even fully socialized.

      That is a biased sample. By definition you were only looking at the ones who were knowledgeable enough, curious enough, intelligent enough, and social enough to desire and get admitted to university.

    • daveau
      Posted March 11, 2010 at 11:18 am | Permalink

      JohnH-

      Speaking as a teacher of both physics and chemistry (forty-six years in public school, private school and university) I’m also somewhat perplexed by the glaring lack of any “mechanism” explaining the transition from one species to another, even at the mono-cellular level. Maybe I’ve just not Googled the right places, and if any of you could direct me to such explanations, I would savor the opportunity to read those explanations.

      If you are looking for an understanding of how the process of evolution by natural selection works, I highly recommend “The Origin of Species” by Charles Darwin. It is simple and straight-forward enough to be understood by any High School student.

      In order to encompass what additional understanding have gained in the intervening 150 years or so, I also recommend “Why Evolution is True”, by Jerry Coyne.

      If you still have difficulty grasping the “mechanism” after reading those books, then I feel sorry for both you and your former students.

  56. KP
    Posted March 11, 2010 at 12:12 am | Permalink

    “The common thread of many of the emails I’ve received…”

    …is also really TIRED creationist canards. The last one went for the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics… ZZZZZZZZZ.

  57. mark
    Posted March 11, 2010 at 12:41 am | Permalink

    as painful as it is to read the responses, you only have to realise that every time the creation vs evolution occurs in the courts systems evolution always wins due to evidence.

    If they keep taking it to the courts and defeating it there the scientists can slowly erode the ignorance.

    • Posted March 11, 2010 at 11:57 am | Permalink

      Everytime? Maybe you should revisit the Scopes trial. It seems unwise to depend on the courts. Judges are people and capable of rendering verdicts that are wrong, biased, etc.

  58. Antonio Manetti
    Posted March 11, 2010 at 2:22 am | Permalink

    I listened to the Overnight America segment. My only criticism is that Professor Coyne seems to assume that all parents who have religious motivations necessarily want to debunk Darwinism.

    I don’t see a basis for believing that the two motivations must go hand-in-hand.

    • Flea
      Posted March 11, 2010 at 4:22 am | Permalink

      My advice: listen to that segment AGAIN and pay attention to what Coyne really says.

  59. Posted March 11, 2010 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    Poe’s Law at work again.

    Advertisement:

    Are you having trouble with Poe’s Law? Then contact the Thomas Moore Law Center for useless advice. As seen at the Dover trial.

  60. Posted March 11, 2010 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    JohnH asks “I’m also somewhat surprised at the lack of discussion about irreducible complexity or even intelligent design.”

    Why? They are not scientific positions. See Dover trial.

    Unless, of course, you can tell us what the scientific theory of Intelligent Design is and how it can be tested with the scientific method.

    Perhaps you would also like to explain at the same time why the Discovery Instutute has said that Intelligent Design is not even a hypothesis let alone a theory.

    Perhaps you would also like to explain what the Wedge document is.

    While you are at it, why did the advocates of Intelligent Design lose the Dover trial (and, indeed, run away from the trial)?

    • articulett
      Posted March 11, 2010 at 8:16 am | Permalink

      *giggles remembering the stack of books piled in front of Behe*

      (Oh those silly Cdesign proponentists!)

      JohnH, you can still learn something just so long as you don’t imagine that you know more than those who might teach you!

  61. Darlene
    Posted March 11, 2010 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    For all the “teaching creationism is abuse” folks out there:

    go volunteer at a community center or women’s shelter or be a guardian ad litem or talk to a few social workers. There is real abuse happening, and watering it down to cover anything you don’t like isn’t really a help.

    I know many creationists. Many have excellent critical thinking skills about 98% of everything in their lives. Most that I personally know are professionals, several own their businesses, these are not stupid people.

    They function perfectly well, and even become scientists and teachers and senators and presidents. It is hard to consider it abusive when our last president said he believed it. Obviously it doesn’t have a negative impact on future careers. And being honest, most people aren’t all that capable of critical thinking or deep understanding of science.

    I know people who believe in evolution and have no idea what it actually is. Is that better? They are just parroting a different textbook, but neither is meaningful in their lives.

    Yes, it can be ridiculed. But abuse

    Abuse? Maybe in a perfect world this could be the most aweful thing one could do to a child, but we are not in a perfect world and there are far, far worse situations for a child to live.

    • latsot
      Posted March 11, 2010 at 9:15 am | Permalink

      Of course there are worse things that can be done to a child. I don’t imagine anyone would argue otherwise. But that doesn’t mean that hampering a child’s intellectual development is not also abuse.

      Many people indeed get over this kind of treatment and it’s not always debilitating in the long run. Again, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t abuse.

      I think the stumbling block here is that you have quite a specific idea of how the term “child abuse” should be defined. Personally, I’m going for the less formal and specific “abuse of children”. I would consider anything done to deliberately harm a child, plus some kinds of neglect, as abuse of that child.

    • raven
      Posted March 11, 2010 at 9:29 am | Permalink

      Darlene Making Stuff Up.
      “There is real abuse happening, and watering it down to cover anything you don’t like isn’t really a help.”

      I’m not going to say that fundie Xian creationist parents are all child abusing monsters. But on average the statistics say that child sexual abuse and child abuse are higher in fundie homes. The facts, you know, those things you have never heard of. Fundies also have higher rates of teen age pregnancy and abortion and any other social problem you care to name.

      One of the more charming customs of fundies is human child sacrifice. Yes, here in the 21st century, some xian sects still sacrifice their children to their god by withholding medical treatment. The numbers aren’t well known because of reporting problems but it is between 10 and 100 per year.

      Darlene speaking of lack of critical skills:
      “It is hard to consider it abusive when our last president said he believed it. Obviously it doesn’t have a negative impact on future careers. And being honest, most people aren’t all that capable of critical thinking or deep understanding of science.”

      Fallacy of argument from authority. And calling GW Bush an authority on anything except how to wreck a country is astoundingly dumb. Bush is regarded by most historians as the worst president ever.

      Fundies on average are lower in socioeconomic status than the general population. Being uneducated in a Hi Tech civilization is a disadvantage. And the average person can learn critical skills and something about science. Neither are that hard. It wouldn’t take much for the 26% of the fundie xians who believe the sun orbits the earth to look up a diagram of the solar system.

      It wouldn’t take much for you to learn the difference between fact and unproven and wrong assertion and find out what a search engine called google is for.

      • Darlene
        Posted March 11, 2010 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

        Show me where fundies have higher rates of abuse. I would love to see that study.

        And not everyone can have a high tech job. There aren’t enough to go around. You know who is doing well right now? Plumbers. Because when your toilet backs up a computer doesn’t fix it.

        You are right that Bush sucked. Enough to get reelected. He was successful in his field. Obviously all this high tech science education is not required for the position.

        And it is not an arguement from authority, please take a
        logic class before you start flinging around such terms. And argument from authority is if I said such-and-such is true and right because this authority figure said so.

        What I said was that Bush is an example of not needing to understand evolution to get a job as the leader of the powerful country in the free world. That is a fact. You can’t say that, tomorrow, it will hinder someone’s ability to get a job when we have powerful people all over the place with the same belief system.

        Withholding medical care is extreme even for fundies, and is mostly found among Christian scientists and JWs and serious offshoots. Check your “facts”.

        Facts. That word you are using, I do not think it means what you think it means…

        • raven
          Posted March 11, 2010 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

          Darlene
          “I think fighting it by insulting parents and telling them they are abusing heir kids is a real good way to send them underground.”

          They are already underground. That is one of the points of fundie xian homeschooling, keeping the kids away from 21st century civilization and the real world.

          “google capture:

          “Book: ‘Red’ State Children at Much Greater Risk Than Youths in …The political dividing lines used in the book are “red” states (those that voted … Texas also ranks #1 in both child abuse deaths and the percentage of …”

          Red states which are the fundie xian strongholds are higher in all social problems, child abuse, teen age pregnancy, abortion, STDS, you name, they have it. The theocratic state of Texas run by religious extremists is also first in child abuse deaths.

          Darlene lying:
          Withholding medical care is extreme even for fundies, and is mostly found among Christian scientists and JWs and serious offshoots. Check your “facts”.”

          I didn’t say they all sacrificed their children to their god. The numbers I gave per year are 10 to 100 sacrificed kids in the USA. It is still pathetic that that any human children are killed that way. But faith healing and anti-vax fundies are rather common, most have sense enough when things go down hill to take their kids to a real doctor. There are millions of fundie kids that don’t end up dead. Another pathetic strawmen of yours.

          Darlene seems to think if one fundie kid survives to adulthood and gets a job, that everything is OK. What is really important is the average, median or typical outcome. For every exPresident Bush, there is a Cho Seung or Jeffrey Dahmer, both raised in fundie xian households.

          Darlene doesn’t do facts and thinks it is OK to be ignorant and not know anything or be curious enough to use a search engine. As a homeschool teacher, guess what her kids would end up knowing? Very little.

          Oh well. Like I said, someone has to mow my lawn and flip burgers.

          • articulett
            Posted March 11, 2010 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

            Yep.


            But there is an upside to homeschooling. If every anti-science, book-burning parent pulled his or her kids out of public schools, the rest of us wouldn’t need to deal with them anymore. Texas’ unrestrictive standards allow homeschooling parents to teach their children that Earth is 6,000 years old, and people used to live to be 950 years old. Their kids can learn about abstinence-only education, the myth of climate change and how the founding fathers actually intended America to be a theocracy. They wouldn’t even need to worry about President Obama’s plan to ban Christmas.

            With this hindrance removed, public school educators would be free to teach empirical science, comprehensive sex education and a secular version of American history.

            http://www.dailytexanonline.com/opinion/homeschooling-for-all-1.1815576

        • articulett
          Posted March 11, 2010 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

          There is evidence that within the U.S. strong disparities in religious belief versus acceptance of evolution are correlated with similarly varying rates of societal dysfunction, the strongly theistic, anti-evolution south and mid-west having markedly worse homicide, mortality, STD, youth pregnancy, marital and related problems than the northeast where societal conditions, secularization, and acceptance of evolution approach European norms.

          http://moses.creighton.edu/JRS/2005/2005-11.html

        • tomh
          Posted March 12, 2010 at 11:33 am | Permalink

          Darlene wrote:
          Withholding medical care is extreme even for fundies, and is mostly found among Christian scientists and JWs and serious offshoots.

          Nonsense, there are plenty of faith healing churches other than the ones you mention. Look up the Followers of Christ Church, for instance. Their church cemetary has hundreds of children who have died over the last 30 years because anointing with olive oil and prayer didn’t work for sick children, including many babies. Until 1999, when the law was changed, Oregon was prohibited from prosecuting these parents for manslaughter even. In a just completed trial, for the first time ever, two members of this church were convicted of criminally negligent homicide for allowing their 16 year old son to die of a urinary tract infection because they prayed over him rather than have him treated with antibiotics.

          The estimate above of 10-100 deaths as a result of faith healing is very low. The actual numbers are probably at least 10 times that though accurate figures are difficult to find since it’s not exactly something churches advertise.

          Of course, we all know that these churches are not True Christians.

    • daveau
      Posted March 11, 2010 at 11:35 am | Permalink

      Way to make those straw men, Darlene. I was going for “an unjust or wrongful practice”, and not necessarily something that would meet the current legal definition of child abuse. However, just because you can’t be arrested for it doesn’t make it right.

      • Darlene
        Posted March 11, 2010 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

        If you were going for “unjust practice” then say so.

        Child abuse has some pretty specific definitions, and you can be arrested for it.

        There are plenty of other things that may not be “right”, but it isn’t always abuse.

        Say what you mean. Using a highly emotive word to make your point isn’t acceptable, and I think it weakens your point, at least for me.

        Child abuse is specific, both in law and in accepted understanding. You may want to expand the definition to cover what you don’t like, but that doesn’t mean it is right to do so.

        • articulett
          Posted March 11, 2010 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

          I think it’s abusive to tell kids there’s a hell they will go to if they don’t believe the right thing.

          It’s an abusive thing to do to children– therefore, it’s child abuse. Maybe not by the legal definition, but my standards of morality they are.

          I think YOU’RE the one who is having a little bit of a problem distinguishing fact from opinion despite your imagined expertise and scolding of others here. Perhaps you ought to let someone else teach that subject to your children. You wouldn’t want them to be the Dunning-Kruger example you are revealing yourself to be.

        • latsot
          Posted March 12, 2010 at 12:08 am | Permalink

          Darlene:

          “Child abuse is specific, both in law and in accepted understanding.”

          It might surprise you to learn that there are other countries in the world, with different legal systems; different definitions of legal terms; and different accepted understandings of common terms. For example, I’ve noticed in the past that Americans often seem to equate the term “child abuse” very strongly with the outcome of children being taken into care. Among British people, the understanding and attitude seems slightly different.

          Insisting on one narrow definition based on one interpretation of one (or any) legal system is unhelpful at best. Relying on some perceived “accepted understanding” is ignorant when there is demonstrably no such understanding.

          What else can “child abuse” be but the abuse of children? This is in no way *expanding* the definition of child abuse: insisting on a specific legal definition is *restricting* it and you seem to be the one trying to define your way out of trouble, not anyone else.

          The issue isn’t whether a child should be considered abused according to any legal definition, but whether the child *suffers*.

          Causing needless suffering is a form of abuse. It’s an abuse of trust, an abuse of responsibility and abuse of the child.

          If you want to call it something else then by all means go for it, but don’t tell other people what terms they should use.

      • blue
        Posted March 11, 2010 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

        …and she never said it was right! She just called you (and others) on your cavalier use of the word ‘abuse’, that’s not a straw man. It’s up there with calling someone a ‘Nazi’ solely because they don’t agree with you. You are diluting the word’s meaning with your hyberole.

        • articulett
          Posted March 11, 2010 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

          Indeed. Stop all this hyberole at once!

    • Chayanov
      Posted March 11, 2010 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

      There’s lots of different kinds of abuse. Why would you minimize or justify one particular type? “These people may be doing something bad, but if you look over there you’ll see people doing something worse” isn’t an argument. Why can’t we try to eliminate all kinds of abuse? Are we supposed to prioritize which kinds are worse and tackle them one at a time? “Sorry you’re being abused and all, but we’re not currently working to stop that kind of abuse.”

      There are plenty of people out there who physically or emotionally abuse their spouses and children who are also professionals or own their own businesses. They function quite well, except when being abusive. So what’s your point? People who are well-adjusted 98% of the time should get some kind of pass for the bad things they do, because they don’t make a career out of it?

  62. Posted March 11, 2010 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    Darlene says of creationists “They function perfectly well, and even become scientists and teachers and senators and presidents.”

    Where? The fundamentalists have been claiming for years that “many” scientists reject evolutionary theory. Yet when it comes to the crunch, all they can manage is a bogus list of about 700 worldwide, the majority of which are scientists in areas where evolutionary theory and the old age of the earth are irrelevent.

    In the whole of the UK, my organisation, the BCSE, has only been able to identify one practising scientist in the key areas of geology and evolutionary biology who is a creationist and his intellectual credentials are not exactly high. He’s an assistant manager at a roadstone quarry.

    Nearly all the alledged “creation scientists” have irrelevent qualifications. Typically they are engineers masquerading as scientists or chemists or medical scientists.

    • Darlene
      Posted March 11, 2010 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

      Where? You said it yourself: “about 700 worldwide, the majority of which are scientists in areas where evolutionary theory and the old age of the earth are irrelevent”

      Scientists. And engineers. And presidents.

      So they do apparently function very well, and are employable.

      Look, I’m saying I agree with it, but I think calling it abuse is also going to an extreme. I don’t like lots of things other parents do, that doesn’t mean I think every other kid is being abused.

      I think fighting it by insulting parents and telling them they are abusing heir kids is a real good way to send them underground.

      As I said in my very first post on this thread: if all colleges and universitys refused to accept a BJU or ACE science as a high school credit there would be a reason for parents-and textbook companies-to provide other material.

      Addresses the situation directly and simply.

      If the kid isn’t going to college and doesn’t plan on a career in the sciences, it probably wouldn’t have mattered anyway.

      • latsot
        Posted March 11, 2010 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

        “If the kid isn’t going to college and doesn’t plan on a career in the sciences, it probably wouldn’t have mattered anyway.”

        I’m not quite sure what you mean by this, but it seems a callous statement. We don’t teach our kids only so they can go to university and get jobs. We want them to understand the world and take joy from that understanding. Teaching a child to have an impoverished view of the universe is an abuse of trust and a failure of responsibility.

        Besides, how would we know whether a child is going to college or plans a career in the sciences unless we teach it enough to make those decisions?

  63. Aaron
    Posted March 11, 2010 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    I teach these homeschool kids. I got involved in some programs and I teach music to them. They are indeed smart, the parents are well-intentioned mostly, and the whole thing is a mixed bag. There are many aspects of home-schooling and even of the supportive positive environment of their religious institutions that are worthy of praise.

    But you are completely right about the awfulness of the creationist and other religious nonsense these kids learn. It stresses me out particularly because I know and care about these kids. I’m not in a position to do much about it and it makes more sense for me to have a positive influence and encourage, at least through music, some critical thinking. It is very awkward though, because I am in the closet. Students and parents don’t know that I actually am a scientifically-minded person who rejects their supernatural nonsense.

    The kids are unfortunate victims of these lies, but at the same time they are being taught well in some regards and are benefiting from some positive elements of homeschooling.

    • Posted March 11, 2010 at 11:41 am | Permalink

      I teach a lot of kids who are public schooled but being raised by evangelical Christians. (I teach writing.) They, like the homeschoolers you teach, are wonderful kids that I care about, but their thinking on certain subjects just shuts down because of the religious views they have been taught.

      One example is a 13 year old girl WHO GOES TO PUBLIC SCHOOL who, when I used the word “evolution” (I was talking about stellar evolution, not even biological evolution), she flinched and then raised her hand and asked, “Are there people in the world who actually *believe* in evolution?”

      Another time a boy said something about evolution not being true, and I said something a bit long-winded that asserted that there were mountains and mountains of evidence for evolution of living things. And this 13-year-old *public schooled* boy said, “I don’t believe in evidence.”

      • Aaron
        Posted March 12, 2010 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

        wow. Well, the homeschoolers are weirder though because they don’t even have any perspective. At least from where I see it, some don’t even realize about other views existing. It’s like they’re in the dark ages and they just don’t even know. In reality, the problem is not an issue of being taught evolution or creationism, it is a problem of teaching basic critical thinking. I had a student who had some hearing problem that wasn’t able to be diagnosed and then one day she came in and said it had healed. Then she mentioned that it healed while she was in church, so therefore it was an obvious and undeniable sign of God’s love and etc etc. I said something like, “that isn’t at all a logical conclusion, but I’m glad you’re better. Now let’s move on.” This was a high-school age student.

        If true critical thinking and logical were taught well to these kids, they’d discover the truth about evolution on their own.

  64. Posted March 11, 2010 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    If any homeschoolers out there want some resources for teaching evolution, there is a website (http://www.hsfreethinkers.com/)
    that includes looking at homeschooling materials to see if they are secular or if they promote a particular religion. There is also a set of recommended books at this spot on the website: http://www.hsfreethinkers.com/books/tables

  65. Dr JWS
    Posted March 11, 2010 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    Is this a movement predominantly in America? That such loss of trust in State Education in my view is shameful. Whether fuelled by real concerns towards quality of education in comparison with the rest of the world or the defensiveness of the ignorant fundamentalists to brainwash their children because of their beliefs and keep them “pure”, this is a ridiculous state of affairs.

    I am so glad I wasn’t “home-schooled” because my parents were ignorant of almost everything (both dropped out of school to work) except farming and carpentry. I however was encouraged both by my parents and teachers to explore all knowledge (including comparative religion)and to make up MY own mind. Which is why I became at first an agnostic and later an atheist, but foremost a critically thinking neuroscientist.

    If you take away the right of the children to be presented with all the EVIDENCE (not the mythology or whatever conspiracy you believe) you are basically brain washing them to be prepared for a parochial existence in your tiny world view.
    Please don’t let this happen no matter how many votes seem to be in it. Please allow your children to think, with the best informed evidence about all of the world and not just rote learn passages from your scriptures to reject anything you believe to be wrong. All that does is make robots.

    • Aaron
      Posted March 12, 2010 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

      Not all parents are incompetent. Many of the homeschoolers I teach have dedicated and inspiring parents and they also are enrolled in special programs, where they get to learn from experts like me. There are many good aspects of the program. But, yeah, the real reason they do it (most of them) is specifically in order to brainwash the kids with their religious views. Those rare secular homeschoolers do also have legitimate concerns about the public schools which are worthy of criticism in many ways too…

  66. Posted March 11, 2010 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    Darlene asks “And what about parents who don’t want a public school education for their kids?”

    Answer – send them to a private school.

    • Darlene
      Posted March 11, 2010 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

      There are two private schools near me, both fundamental christian.

      Next option?

  67. Posted March 11, 2010 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    Darlene says “Where? You said it yourself: “about 700 worldwide, the majority of which are scientists in areas where evolutionary theory and the old age of the earth are irrelevent”

    Scientists. And engineers. And presidents.

    So they do apparently function very well, and are employable.”

    I didn’t suggest otherwise. But not as evolutionary biologists or geologists.

    The creationist claim (made repeteadly) is that many scientists dissent from the theory of evolution by natural selection. My evidence is that this claim is bogus. They simply don’t. Even the Instutute for Creation Research can only list about 146 and they are virtually all non-entities.

    All of them dissent for religious rather than scientific reasons.

    The issue that science is not important in education is bizarre. It’s one of the cores of any sound education up until the age of 18. Whether people use it afterwards is irrelevent.

    Most people don’t make heavy use of the subjects they study at school. That’s no argument for limiting education to, say, maths and English.

    I’m staggered about your claim that it doesn’t matter if the Prewsident of the United States doesn’t understand science.

    Heck, it’s a life or death issue if he gets decisions involving science wrong. Whether that be science in defence procurement, medicine or agriculture.

  68. KP
    Posted March 11, 2010 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    And this 13-year-old *public schooled* boy said, “I don’t believe in evidence.”

    What was his name? If I ever commit a crime, I want him on my jury!

  69. Posted March 11, 2010 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

    How can you debate this with these parents when they’re so indoctrinated into their faith they cannot reason whatsoever? Very frightening!

  70. Logan Moss
    Posted March 11, 2010 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

    I fear you are only half correct when you write that the “common thread of the emails I’ve received is that evolution is not “proven”.” For it seems to me that actually, the common thread is the illiteracy of the authors of those emails, or at least the ones you have cited.

  71. Bud
    Posted March 12, 2010 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    Not all Christians agree with these articles. I was educated in a Catholic High School. I was taught about Evolution and believe it to be correct, I was taught that the Earht is almost 5 Bilion years old and I was taught about the Big Band theory. Science and Christianity are not inconsistent. People do need to open their minds.

  72. TD
    Posted March 14, 2010 at 11:50 pm | Permalink

    As alluded to a bit by posts upthread, the core problem is that a tremendous number of people have already decided that their entire worldview, their religion, their grip on reality itself, is under assault by science.

    Any particular thing they say at the moment to rationalize that their views cannot be challenged is just mouth flapping noise. They just parrot whatever they heard last from the “good guys”.

    Simple curiosity could lead people to learn more, to develop critical thinking ability, but human curiosity has been submerged by insecurity and fear. Unfortunately, it is the traditional westernized, and in particular Americanized religious traditions that have lead to a culture of insecurity and fear. The irony is that they believe their faith saves them from insecurity and fear – when it is in fact the very thing causing it. When “god” is always watching you for signs of deviance, when your literal immortal and eternal existence depends on believing the right things, at all times, with absolute conviction and demonstration of that convince to the world – what would YOU do? You’d act like the Christians who have left reason behind.

    But the real danger is that you cannot reason with such people. It is literally impossible. In order for a person’s mind to be changed, they have to change it themselves. A reasonable person will listen to the argument of another, but until they internalize that argument and work it through to their own satisfaction, their beliefs won’t be changed.

    Too many of the religious absolutely refuse to even work through an argument that they’ve been conditioned to see comes from “the enemy”. Only a catastrophic, life-changing experience can shake a person out of such blindness and those experiences are rare.

    Sadly, it shouldn’t shock people that a lot of kids in public schools are already regurgitating anti-intellectual, anti-reason propaganda. Their parents do everything they can to reinforce it at home and surround the kids with other adults who think the same way. The kids are being made afraid of a new set of boogymen.

    There is some hope. Religious mania and defensiveness always crests to a wave and then crashes sharply; this is often because despite the convictions and the claims of a given religion – such as predictions about the end of the world – reality has a bad habit of letting believers down. The current rise of mania in the United States is setting itself up for a terrible crash. People who are older than 40 will likely remain deluded, turning inward and defensive, becoming bitter, old, and hateful (more so than they already are) over the next ten years. Those under 40 will adjust their values out of necessity. But those who are currently teenagers will likely have a lot of anger at their parents; they’re going to wake up one day and feel as if they’ve been cheated and manipulated. (Because they have.)

  73. hugh7
    Posted March 15, 2010 at 12:45 am | Permalink

    I have always found it peculiar that people can imagine you get rewarded or punished after death for what you believe. I can’t imagine turning belief on or off like a tap – to me something has to be convincing or I CAN’T believe it. Yet to even make sense of that kind of doctrine, you HAVE to believe that metadoctrine first, that people can choose what they believe, regardless of the evidence.

    So I guess there’s just some fundamental mindset difference, that encompasses both believing things without evidence and believing in the voluntariness of belief, that people like me are just shut out from. (And so we’re all going to Hell….)

    • articulett
      Posted March 15, 2010 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

      I agree! –And that bugged me even as a kid. How did I know if I believed in god? (Aand how was I to remedy it if I didn’t?) How was I supposed to convince god I believed in him and loved him with the right fervency if he can read my mind and could tell if I was “faking it”. I couldn’t control whom I “loved” and didn’t even know if I could “love” someone who was completely invisible. I couldn’t tell if I was praying to the right invisible guy even– or calling him by the “right” name. (God? Jesus? Heavenly Father? If all gods were the same god, could I pray to Zeus? Who named god, “God”?) I couldn’t make myself love my neighbor much less a trinity I couldn’t make sense of.

      And I thought it was weird… this invisible guy wanted nothing more then for me to “believe in” him? Then why be invisible? Why would Jesus appear for doubting Thomas but not me? Why didn’t my actions count for more than what I believed. Why was a church telling what I should and shouldn’t “believe in”?

      Why weren’t scientists working on this? Wasn’t our collective eternities more important than just about everything else??

      I tried to “believe” by not thinking about it too much (because I was afraid of some dire consequences if I didn’t believe). How was I supposed to think of a god as all-loving when he was the one who was responsible for the “dire consequences” I feared (eternal damnation).

      I think religion is a very cruel thing to inflict on a bright kid. I would never do such a thing to a child.

      • hugh7
        Posted March 15, 2010 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

        It struck men when I first heard Billy Graham in 1958 (on the radio, thank Dog, I didn’t go to hear him) that you can never believe enough for these people. You’re always supposed to worry that your faith is not strong enough and you won’t be counted among the blest.

        • articulett
          Posted March 15, 2010 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

          I couldn’t figure out why my dad would make fun of “holy rollers” and such…

          If life was supposed to be a test for ETERNITY, shouldn’t we run around trying to figure out who was “in the lead”?

          Surely those who embarrassed themselves for Jesus would have to be in the front, I thought… but I couldn’t stomach that. (I lived in fear of getting a “calling” to be a nun!)It caused me much angst that my eternity might depend on me being one of those “holy rollers” that I found so embarrassing. Heck, I found all of religion embarrassing.

          I couldn’t figure out why anyone would go back to church once they didn’t HAVE to go anymore.

      • latsot
        Posted March 16, 2010 at 9:17 am | Permalink

        “I think religion is a very cruel thing to inflict on a bright kid.”

        And on the not-so-bright. My sister is the only one of us kids to have caught religion from our parents. And she got it *bad*. She has gone through the last forty years *terrified* of hell and miserable at her belief that most of the people she loves will end up there even if she herself manages to escape. Which, as a sinner, she doesn’t really expect to do.

        This is an abominably cruel thing to inflict on anybody.

  74. Andy Vargas
    Posted April 1, 2010 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

    By all means, weep. But know that raising passionate, intelligent children who have unfortunately been lied to is a recipe for instant militant atheist once they discover the bullsh*t. Parents who raise their children creationist are going to get creationist children whether the public school or homeschool them, the latter, as tragic as it may be, has the added perk that it sometimes creates the very antithesis of what the parents were trying to raise. As stated above, Matt Dillahunty of ACA is an example, I am another.

  75. Abby
    Posted April 4, 2010 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    Seems to me that all of these Christian parents need to get educated on the subject of evolution before they claim it is a lie. In public school you are taught the ACTUAL definition of evoluton: which is a genetic change over time. Not that man came from monkey, rather they share similar genetics.

    This is proven! Example take the flu virus. Each year this virus mutates at the genetic level and “changes over time”. Another example take a look at how humans have changed over the years. It is easy to see that humans now a days on average are a lot taller than say 200 years ago. Again that is evolution, a change over time!

    Seems to to me people need to get educated on the subject of evolution before dismissing it. THEN it is your right to choose what you believe. At least teach your children the facts, and let them choose what they what they want to believe.

  76. James
    Posted April 9, 2010 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    This is clearly an issue that our society should take steps to resolve. Parental conviction should not be an impediment to children receiving a quality education. One quote from the second writer struck me: “It would depress my children to no end if they even thought they were evolved from an animal.” It calls to mind the purported statement made by the wife of the Canon of Worcester Cathedral from around the time the theory of evolution was first announced (the citation is lost to time): “Descended from the apes? My dear, we will hope it is not true. But if it is, let us pray that it may not become generally known.” This unfortunate sentiment, which aims to undermine the diffusion knowledge for the benefit of vanity, or mistaken pride, was counterproductive then and today. If they wish to do so, as some here have mentioned, parents can instruct their children in whatever theories they wish; but using a false textbook with the appearance of authenticity is a travesty. My wish is for all these children to have an equal chance to learn about the ‘fundamental’ aspects of biology.
    Additionally, terms such as “Darwinist” only serve to further entrench positions that should never exist, and involves fracturing various forms of knowledge into mutually exclusive groups. It implies that evolution cannot be accepted into the broader realm of science because it is too closely associated with its primary discoverer’s philosophies. In the same line of thought, anyone who believes in genetics should be a “Mendellian,” at war with the ‘Einsteinian’ faction as well as Christians. The posturing quickly becomes ridiculous. As a Christian, I feel pained these parents do so while claiming biblical support for their actions. There is no statement in the Bible which affirms ignorance, and especially not to teach it to children at their most impressionable ages.


3 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] Fail Jerry Coyne continues to attract creationist parents and advocates to his blog. The interesting thing is that these people see themselves as either being clever skeptics or being [...]

  2. [...] is what I mean: I’ve talked about the case in which a genetics professor caught heat because he claimed that home-school materials that taught creationism… If you read some of the e-mail messages he posted or read some of the comments, you’ll see [...]

  3. [...] Radio bit on home-schooling, and more angry emails The kerfuffle about home-schooling and evolution led to an invitation for me to do a brief segment on Overnight America [...] [...]

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