//
you're reading...
Politics

IN SB89: teaching creation in public schools (recap)

 

Earlier this year I testified in front of the Indiana state education board in support of Senate Bill 89, a bill originally aimed at allowing science teachers the option of including creation science in the public classroom.  After passing a committee vote, and a senate vote, the bill was shelved in the house due to fears of litigation. 

Although the shelving of the bill is good and bad.  Unfortunatly fears of legal implications crushed an originally well-intentioned legislation.  All the legislation was aiming to do was allow more freedom for those school corporations who wished to teach alternative theories alongside the prominent evolution theory. 

In my opinion the biggest problem with the bill was the original wording, or lack of wording.  The bill did not give answers to who/how/what would be taught.  The church itself is very confused on creation today.  How could we even expect “Christian” teachers to be able to answer all the questions that come from creation science.  Although the area of study is legitimate, it is not worthy of a quick 5-minute blurb.  Those types of teachings would either only raise more questions or reduce creationism to “just another myth”.

Below is a recap of the different stages of that process including my testimony, a debate surrounding my testimony, and the amendment process.

 

____________________________________

POSTED 01/11/2012:

Indiana State Senator Dennis Kruse has introduced state Senate Bill 0089 that would require the teaching of creation science alongside other origin theories in public schools.  As a resident of Indiana, I contacted Senator Kruse to offer my support.  He has asked me to testify before the education board on January 25th.  I have accepted.  I will be presenting a 5-10 minute testimony followed by a possible Q&A time. 

I understand this bill has a tough uphill battle to climb.  My hope rests in the fact that Senator Kruse is the chairman of the education committee, and that the house/senate and governor’s office is all republican controlled.  Even if passed, the bill faces major legal hurdles as the Supreme Court has already determined that the teaching of creation science in public school is unconstitutional.  By Indiana passing this legislation it will send a message to other states that we do not agree.

I have not finalized my message yet, but I do know that it will be on the major differences between observational science (modern, testable, repeatable) and historical science (assumptions about the past).  After I deliver the testimony, I will publish it here, and keep you updated.  Please join me in prayer and support of this bill.

 

POSTED 01/26/2012:

Today I delivered my testimony on the inclusion of creation science in the classroom to the state education committee in Indianapolis.  Here is a transcript of my talk:

 

Today we are talking about creation science.  I hope to show you there is a strict difference between operational science and historical science.

Operational science is the science that puts computers on our desks and men on the moon.  It is what we have to thank for the technological wonders we have today.  Operational science is based on modern observances and experiments.

Historical science is the study of the past based on modern observances.  This type of science attempts to give us answers about the past by using modern day calculations and extrapolating them back through time.  This is how we get the theories of evolution and the big bang.

Operational science observes changes in genetic makeup such as mutations and adaptations.  These changes, otherwise known as natural selection, are proven.  I don’t dispute that.

Historical science then takes those observations within species and attempts to make a case that given enough time these small changes have led to major changes.  That is where creationists feel that these theories defy the scientific method and cannot be tested and repeated.

Evolution requires an old age of the earth.  The majority consensus of scientists is that radioisotope dating confirms an old age.  I want to clarify that radioisotope dating is based on modern decay rates extrapolated back through history to declare a date.  The modern decay rates are operational science.  We can test those, and repeat those here in the present.  The extrapolation is historical science.

All the conditions necessary to stay consistent through all of history for that extrapolation to be reliable can never be verified.  Observational science can be verified, historical science cannot.

Let me give you another example.  The moon has been recorded as receding away from the earth at a rate of 4cm per year.  If we extrapolate that back through time the earth cannot be older than 750 million years old.  That may sounds very old, but it is about 1/6 of the length of time most scientists agree on for the age of the earth, and not enough time for evolution to have worked.

Now, which part of that experiment is operational science and which is historical?  The 4cm withdraw rate is observed, the extrapolation is applying that observation to all of history.  Now, where does the experiment go wrong?  We cannot know all of the variables for all of history.  Perhaps the rate slowed down in the past, or is sped up today.  So, the historical part of the experiment is technically unscientific.  I would argue that the same applies to radiometric dating.  Their decay rates in the present are accurate.  The extrapolation to the past is unverifiable, and therefore unscientific.

A final example:  we are taught that fish evolved into mammals, and yet somehow failed to leave behind a trail of gills transforming into lungs.  What we observe in the fossil record is gills or lungs, nothing in between.  Again, observational verses historical science.  Charles Darwin himself said “if my theory be true, numberless intermediate varieties, linking closely together all the species of the same group, must assuredly have existed…”   and… crickets.

I fail to see how scrambling existing DNA information creates new biochemical pathways.  Seeing that by definition natural selection can only select from existing information, how do you turn a pool of slime into a human being?  And how did sex originate?  Non-intelligent processes cannot predict the future coordination of male and female organs.  And why do we have living fossils?  Creatures that have remain unchanged for “millions of years”.  Why would some creatures be evolving and not others?

So what are the conclusions we can draw from this?  Do we throw out all of historical science?  No, not at all.  But we need to be fair.  We need to acknowledge that no theory of the world’s origins can ever be proven.  We need to recognize that assumptions about the past will always remain just that – assumptions.  We need to recognize that both sides of the debate have the same evidence (same rocks/same bones), different conclusions.  It is not the evidence in question, it is the conclusions.

If I tried to reconstruct today the events of the Civil War, but only studied the rocks and bones left behind, I think all of us would agree that I would get the story wrong.  It would appear right based on that evidence alone, but just because the logic works does not make it fact.  I think everyone would agree that to teach that to our children without offering the other side of the story would be deceitful. Science itself is just the search for knowledge.  What can it hurt to offer more options for that knowledge?

Observational science is the science of what we can see – that needs to be taught.  And since historical science cannot be proven, our schools are being irresponsible in not educating its student on the various historical perspectives that exist.  Thank you.

____________________

The committee approved the bill at an 8-2 vote.  It will now proceed to the amendment phase where certain parts will be reworded to work better.  From the discussion I can presume that it may be rewritten to better suit history or world religion classes rather than science classes.  This is both a small victory and a subtle defeat at the same time.  Although school children will have access to the creation story, it may not be in science classrooms where they are taught that evolution is the only accepted theory for our origins.  We’ll keep an eye on the legislation, and keep you updated! 

 

POSTED 01/27/2012:

Read the full critical response of my testimony here:
http://www.reddit.com/r/politics/comments/oxnpm/my_brother_recently_went_to_indianapolis_to/

Here is my rebuttal:
items in italics are quotes from the critical response…

__________

     You’ve admitted to me that you don’t consider creationism a science.

Yes I have.  But you fail to recognize that I don’t consider evolution a science either.  Both theories are based on unverifiable assumptions about the past.  If we going to include one, lets include both.

 

Science is the explanations we have for natural phenomena based purely on facts, and no speculation. Creationism doesn’t fit that in any way.

In my presentation I used the FACT of the moon receding away from the earth at 4cm per year.  My conclusion based on that fact is that the earth cannot be billions of years old.  How is that not science?

 

There is nothing special about creationism that would make it any more valid than any other religion’s creation myths

Actually creationism gives a theory that the geologic column and fossil record are the result of a worldwide flood.  No other creation stories allow for a fully plausible explanation of the evidence left behind.

Teaching creationism as a fact, whether in a science or history class, is illegal

Teaching any theory in science as fact should be illegal.  It may be legal to state that evolution appears to make a more logical and better case for the evidence.  Teaching creation does not endorse a religion any more than teaching the history of the slave trade endorses slavery.  It’s like Fox News says – we report, you decide.

 

The only place it can be taught is in a cultural study class. It would not be teaching any of these things as fact

Perhaps you can answer your own question here.  How come it can be taught here not as fact but not in a science class?

 

99%+ of the scientists out there perfectly accept the methodology as reliable. YOU must provide evidence which suggests they are not. You have not, and you cannot.

We’ve been down this whole debate several times.  No need to go in depth here again.  My argument is not in the evidence, it is in the interpretations. 

 

You make the point that extrapolation can not be verifiable. This is true to a degree, but unfortunately, not to the degree which you hope. It depends on the circumstances. Some things extrapolated create a large range of error, and others result in a very small range. We can calculate these.

You nailed it!  “It depends on the circumstances”.  Creationists believe in a 6-day creation period vs. billions of years.  Creationists believe in a year-long catastrophic deluge of the earth vs. millions of years of burial in the fossil record.  I agree with you that it depends on the circumstances.

 

The moon example again? I don’t understand why you continue to use this when it has been proven to you that it’s a horrible example.

You seem to miss that I acknowledged in my presentation that there were problems with the moon example.  I used those problems to make my point that extrapolation fails.

 

Living fossils are allowed by evolution. For example, if humans eventually evolved into some other form of life, lets call it human+, all humans wouldn’t suddenly cease to exist.

That’s not what Darwin said:  “…evidence of their former existence could be found ONLY amongst fossil remains.”  The question I asked is why would some species be evolving and not others.

 

Teaching science is not just about what can be proven, though you are incorrect in saying evolution cannot be proven. It can and has.

You use the words “proven” and “fact” incorrectly.  At the committee meeting yesterday, NO ONE, including the science professor from Purdue University described evolution as fact. No professional I’ve ever heard speak on the topic would. In fact the professor agreed that it is not fact and he does not use the word “proven” ever

 

“we’ve never seen a young child jump straight into an adult” of course you haven’t, it doesn’t work that way. It slowly changes over time until it is eventually different enough to call it a different species than you used to call it.

For future reference, you might want to rethink using a human evolving into a human as your example.  I understand the idea.  I don’t dispute it because I don’t understand it.  The logic makes sense, but that doesn’t mean the evidence aligns.


Look at the flu. Every single year it evolves rapidly. That’s why they need to engineer a brand new vaccine every year

Ah yes, the flu example.  I believe I’ve talked with you about this before.  The flu virus adapts.  Creationists believe in adaptation.  What the flu virus does not do is change into a fish or a bird or a monkey.  Natural selection and adaptation are proven mechanisms.  I don’t dispute that.

 

The depth the fossils are found further confirms.

Depth of the fossils confirm it only if you believe the fossils were buried over long periods of time.  There is no proof that it took long periods of time to bury it, and some modern day proof that geologic strata can be created relatively quickly.  Which verifies the theory that the geologic column was created quickly in Noah’s flood.

 

with humans and chimpanzees, there is a 96% DNA match

Close matching DNA does not prove a common ancestor any more than it proves a common designer.

 

If there would be no physical progression, it would just be randomness. However there is.

The fossils found in the geologic column from bottom to top actually represent perfectly what we would expect to see if waters enveloped creatures across the world in the days of the flood.  We would see smaller marine fossils first up through larger mammal fossils towards the top layers.

____________

I don’t normally post my debates here on this blog, but I do regularly debate on these issues on the social site: reddit.com.  I can be found under www.reddit.com/user/tmgproductions and now more recently –  www.reddit.com/user/tmgproductions1

I posted this here as an example as to how the other side will respond.  But just because they have a response does not make that the gospel.  The debate will go back and forth.  It will eventually come down to worldview theories and issues of authority.

________________________

To continue following the the debate click here.

 

POSTED 01/30/2012:

 

UPDATE:
     The bill passed the Senate with a vote of 28-22.  They only adopted Amendment 1 listed below…


 

The amendment process has begun for SB0089, the teaching of creation science in Indiana public schools.  I testified before the education committee in favor of this bill.  It passed committee at a vote of 8-2.  Here are the amendments to date:  (I will update this page if more come available)

  ___________

Amendment 1 – include all creation theories from all religions    (Simpson)

Amendment 2 – how do we do the curriculum, guideline for ISTEP, evaluation    (Simpson)

Amendment 3 –  teacher training   (Simpson)

Amendment 4 – must be taught by a science teacher   (Simpson)

Amendment 5 – must be guided by natural law, tested empirically, conclusions tentative, capable of
                                being proven true or false by experiment    (Simpson)

Amendment 6 –  Amendment 5 does not apply to creation science   (Skinner)

Amendment 7 –  creation of a study of religion class by 2013   (Kenley)

Amendment 8 –  move effective date from July 2012 to July 2013   (Kruse)

 __________

Although there are a couple items in here that got my attention, it was Amendment 5 that is a real problem.  I emailed Senator Simpson the following:

I noticed that you added Amendment 5 to SB89, the teaching of creation science bill.  I wonder if your wording might be a bit ambiguous.  In section 4 you state that the conclusions must be kept tentative, yet in section 5 you state that the conclusions must be proven true or false by experiment.  I am wondering how you can keep both of these in the amendment.

I testified in front of the education committee in favor of the bill.  In my testimony I explained how no theory of the world’s origins can ever be proven, and in fact a science educator from Purdue confirmed that scientists do not use the terminology “proven” or “fact”.  Are you aware that under your verbiage evolution itself would have to be thrown out since it is not provable true or false by experiment?

Advertisements

About Tim

http://www.gracewithsalt.com

Discussion

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: