Creationists dealt a blow in Calif.

I was going to include this with the Sunday Cult Watch since creationism really is a cult (within a cult), fitting the definition leading the Cult Watch post quite well: the adherents of various creationist cults invoke a particular form of worship that involves special creation of humans; animals created as “kinds;” a global flood that exterminated all but two of each “kind;” a planet that is only a few thousand years old; etc. And such religious ideals involve a special sort of attention in the way of being anti-scientific and opposing reason and rational thought when it conflicts with their wacky and superstitious ideals.

So, the cults of creationism (Answers in Genesis, Discovery Institute, et al) were dealt a blow even they can’t ignore in California last week. A federal judge in L.A. ruled that the University of California can “deny course credit to applicants from Christian high schools whose textbooks declare the Bible infallible and reject evolution.” Followers of Christian cults, particularly those cults of creationism, objected to UC’s policy, suggesting that it was a policy of “religious discrimination.”

Among the courses rejected by UC is a history course called Christianity’s Influence on America which utilizes a text that, “instructs that the Bible is the unerring source for analysis of historical events” and evaluates historical figures based on their religious motivations.” Another course, this one in science, uses a text titled, Biology for Christian Schools and, “declares on the first page that if (scientific) conclusions contradict the Word of God, the conclusions are wrong.”

So UC doesn’t find cult school courses that preach inerrant “truth” to be favorable over those that favor free inquiry and evidence? The only thing questionable about that position is that it actually had to go to court. This is no more asinine than if the Flat Earthers forced the same litigation over refusing to give course credit for denying the sphericity of this two-dimensional planet; or UFO nuts demanding that their high school astronomy programs be accepted even though the first chapter of their textbook deals with the Roswell cover up and the Moon-landing hoax.

And what did the creationist nutters have to say about the ruling on their blogs and sites?

AiG can be quoted to say, “Ultimately, this case is representative of the public—and academia’s—continued refusal to acknowledge the role of presuppositions in shaping how we acquire knowledge, including in the scientific sphere.”

The tragic thing is, these nuts are serious. They assume that because they rely on presuppositions (i.e. that their mythology is assumed the literal word of an assumed god) that, therefore, no one else is capable of achieving objective reality. Which is utter bollocks. There is an objective, knowable truth that can be had more easily and quickly by applying the methods (as opposed to apply the methods of superstition). They presuppose that the Earth is only a few thousand years old based on a single source of information developed by stone and iron age goat herders, ignoring all scientific knowledge and evidence to the contrary because it doesn’t fit their preconceived and particular notion of god.

WorldNut Daily, through the dimwitted Johnathan Falwell, said, well… I’m not going to bother quoting that asshole. Suffice to say, he went on and on about how society pretends values diversity unless it’s his particular notion of god and how his superstitious and unfounded beliefs should be valued in the name of diversity, etc. It was all very nauseating to read. don’t believe me, click the link and see. Ugh. Falwell committed logical fallacy after logical fallacy in a very weak attempt to make a point that students are forced to accept an “atheistic” point of view.

Sorry pal. Call it what you will, no one is telling students they can’t believe in whatever deities, fairies, Jedi, or magic frogs they want. The University system is about gaining an education in reality and if they haven’t the proper scores in the proper prep classes, they’re going to have a difficult time of it, putting an undo burden on professors and making it unfair for the students who actually did obtain an education. Classes would have to be dumbed down, extra time spent on teaching the basics, and, perhaps, even spent on explaining the reality-based point of view versus the sub-natural one relied on by creationists nutters.

To be fair, the creationist nutters did make a fair point in a couple of the articles I read on their sites, which was that it cannot be assumed that because a student came from a school that used sub-standard texts that she wouldn’t be educated sufficiently in the sciences. But, if these same nutters actually bothered to RTFA, they might have noticed the the sentence, “students whose courses lack UC approval can remain eligible by scoring well in those subjects on the Scholastic Assessment Test.”
But, then, it isn’t characteristic of creationists to actually study, research and do their homework, so we shouldn’t be too surprised by their false assumptions. Indeed, the very title of Falwell’s article, “Christians Need Not Apply” at WorldNut Daily is fallacious even before the first paragraph. The unfortunate thing is, this sort of propaganda feeds quite well into the less-informed masses who happen to be religious and are being led to believe that if they accept science they’re denying their god.

Creationists Baffled: Why do their “Facts” Get Shot Down in Forums?

If you’ve never visited the Answers in Genesis website, don’t worry. You’ve missed little.

But this little gem caught my eye. Apparently, a creation believer wrote in to their feedback asking a rational question: why is it whenever I repeat one of the “facts” I learn in creationist literature in internet forums do I get my ass handed to me.

Okay. I’m paraphrasing a bit. But the question is basically saying just that. The person writing in to AiG was specifically concerned with the creationist claim that mutations are not beneficial and do not add information to an organism. The person was also upset that his/her son wrote a paper for school, which was criticized by the son’s geology teacher as “full of inaccuracies.” And the answer provided by this creationist nut site is very telling. Their response was to say the following:

1) people interpret evidence based on presuppositions
2) historical sciences cannot be tested or shown to be repeatable
3) the sciences that give us MRIs, planes, and vaccines are “here and now” sciences
4) historical sciences are laden with “presuppositions” but not “here and now” sciences
5) natural selection provides no new information
6) thus, evolution, is not supported by science

Here’s my comments to these points:

1) The first point is interesting. AiG concedes that bias and preconceived conclusions cloud rational thought and the ability to evaluate evidence. The difference between creationists and those that embrace science over superstition is that they’re open to being swayed by evidence. Creationists are concerned only with that evidence that supports their conclusions. After all, the Bible says its true, and the Bible is right because it’s God’s word, which we know because the Bible says it’s so. Therefore, any evidence obtained through observation and testable hypotheses must be mis-interpreted by mere mortals who call themselves scientists. Indeed, the superstitious will simply toss out such evidence, dismissing it out of hand. And this isn’t a trait found only among creationists. Superstitious people the world over exhibit the same type of behavior whether they be the Fulani of West Africa or the pitcher of a major league baseball team.

2) And this brings us to the second point that evolution cannot be tested or repeatable. In fact, it’s no unimportant fact that AiG specifically mentiones “historical science” as being without any testable or repeatable properties. This, by default, would include their own “creation science,” which is, by their definition, “historical.” Creationists consistently use this fallacy but I think its due to ignorance more than deceit. They simply have a low grasp of how science works and have already separated so-called “historical sciences” from the rest of science.

Geologists, archaeologists, paleontologists, biologists, chemists, geneticists and so on all work with scientific principles and methods and they are each sciences that explore evolution. The most obvious historical science among them is, perhaps, archaeology and it is replete with testable and repeatable science. If not, much of what we know about ancient cultures would be non-existant. Luckily, there are more questions than answers in every science (otherwise science would be boring), but no scientist is sure he has all the answers. The superstitious, however, begin their day with a belief that they already have an answer and if science comes along and challenges that belief then it obviously must be wrong. Testing evolution happens all the time and a simple example is the prediction that reptile arms when seriated in the fossil record shows a steady progression from arm-like to wing-like. Which is what we see. Moreover, the prediction can be made that we will not find wings where they shouldn’t be (potential falsification) such as on oysters or horses. Nor would you see arms where they shouldn’t be, such as a bird with both wings and arms. And these predictions (tests) are reproducible time and again (repeatable).

3) While there are some different methods utilized by different sciences (archaeology might employ different methods of science than astronomy), in general, they are all performing science -that is to say, they all value rational observation of the natural world and do not entertain superstitious and supernatural explanations. So the MRIs, planes and vaccines that creationists are so fond of were developed by the same sort of science used in biology, geology, chemistry, and astronomy. Indeed, some of the exact same principles are involved.

4) Therefore, “historical sciences” are no more subject to “presuppositions” than any other science if the scientist is willing to accept evidence, test hypotheses, and accept that falsification is possible. The “presuppositions” (a.k.a. preconceived conclusions) exist nearly exclusively with the superstitious who aren’t willing to re-evaluate their beliefs in the face of evidence. Mountains upon mountains of it.

5) This completely unfounded and unscientific claim has been busted time and again. So much that there simply isn’t reason to do more than provide a few links:
Apolipoprotein AI Mutations and Information
The Nylon Bug
Are Mutations Harmful?

6) Evolution is almost entirely comprised of science. To say otherwise is to reveal ignorance, a failed education, deceit, or a fear of learning the truth.

Polls are Fun!

Especially when they suffer the Pharyngula effect:

PZ MYers likes to post links to the various unscientific polls that query the popularity of Evolution vs Creation. The latest, from a local television station somewhere (probably in the American south -I really couldn’t be arsed to sort it out), asks, “a school board member in SAD 59 wants the topic of evolutio0n dropped from high school science curriculums. Do you agree?” If we dismiss the equivical meaning of whether or not a school board member is that ignorant, nearly 1500 people voted “no” to the intended meaning of whether they agree with evolution being dropped.

Now, true enough, the poll was very likely hammered by one or more of PZ’s minions (I’m only hating because my minion count is “2”) hitting the “Refresh” button in their browser, but it leaves one to wonder: why don’t the Creationist nutters do the same?

They’re either honest (WWJD?) and have too much integrity, they’re not technically savvy enough to figure out their browser’s refresh button, they don’t have a Creationist blog popular enough to get the word out, or there just aren’t enough Creationists available to cast a vote.

Did I miss any options? I’m sure any creationist that happens upon this post would immediately jump on the first option, but he/she really shouldn’t bother since others (i.e. Expelled, Dr. Dino, Dembski, et al) have already disproved that hypothesis in spades.

h/t: A Poll in Need of a Kick in the Pants [Pharyngula]