Saturday, March 22, 2008

A Response to a Response

A little while ago I wrote down my thoughts about a new blog called Homeschool Insider. The author of the blog found me out and left a comment and I thouhgt I'd respond in a post since I really had no idea what I was going to write about today anyway!

I'm not going to address everything raised by Brian but I will remark on a couple of things:

However, I think it's rather tactless to single out a blog with a viewpoint that is in opposition to your own, especially a new one, and begin a very negative attack simply because you don't agree with its viewpoint.

As a home schooling Dad myself, I like to think that we are all in this together regardless of what our viewpoints may be on controversial issues. I don't think we do anyone a service by sniping at each other.


I think the fact that I disagree with your viewpoint is exactly the reason I should single it out. Or rather, that viewpoint in the context of your blog. If your views on evolution had appeared on a blog with a different purpose, say, a record of your family's homeschooling, I wouldn't have said anything. That it appeared on a blog that seems meant to offer advice to the general audience of homeschoolers and new homeschoolers in particular is what troubled me. If you're espousing a very particular worldview then you are in fact, not serving the general homeschooling crowd. Secular homeschoolers, homeschoolers of other religions and non-creationist christian homeschoolers will be excluded by your views. That's not a bad thing. We all have the right to speak to a specific audience. But if that's your intent then let the design and title of your blog reflect that. At the moment, it doesn't.

As for sniping at each other, I don't have a big problem with it. I'm not sure we really are, "all in this together," all the time. Some groups in the homeschooling community for instance support the HSLDA which excludes gays and unschoolers. We do harm to each other and maybe the sniping will at least draw attention to how we do harm.

I also resent the use of "Christian Worldview" to describe things that most definitely are not a universal Christian worldview. Creationism is a belief of specific denominations of the Christian church and quite a few of us, most likely most of us in fact, don't subscribe to that belief. I will snipe when I notice that kind of co-opting of terms going on.

A final thought: Why is it that the vast majority of universities, which are supposed to be schools of free thought, won't even allow DEBATE on the scientific merits of evolution? If the evidence is so overwhelmingly in their favor, they should welcome such a discussion.


If you're going to make a claim about the majority of universities then you need to cite a source to support that. I suspect that if what you said is indeed the case then it's likely for the same reason that they don't debate the veracity of Atomic theory. It's so obvious and basic to science that there's no need. However, it might also be for the reason I generally don't debate the issue anymore. Before the debate can even be had there are generally a slew of mistakes and misunderstandings to clear up. Like what a scientific theory actually is. Like the fact that evolution does not explain the origins of life ("a life form creating itself," is the concern of abiogenisis). Like the fact that both evolution and Natural Selection have clear definitions (not reflected in your comment) that need to be adhered to. Only then can the logical and mathematical stuff be gotten to. But it's a long journey just to get to that point.

There is no need to debate anyway. There are many excellent resources out there that present the evidence in a much better way then some Anglican housewife in rural Canada. Talk Origins is the grand daddy with point-by-point refutations of creationist claims. Understanding Evolution has excellent resources for teaching evolution and great explanations of the process of natural selection. I'm sure every local library has a good selection of science texts and popular science books on the matter. The information is all out there.

22 comments:

Heather said...

" If your views on evolution had appeared on a blog with a different purpose, say, a record of your family's homeschooling, I wouldn't have said anything. That it appeared on a blog that seems meant to offer advice to the general audience of homeschoolers and new homeschoolers in particular is what troubled me."

That's exactly what I thought while reading his comment. As far as allowing for debate in universities, I think the general rule is that both sides have a well-thought-out, logical argument. There may be some out there that can argue Creationism in this way, but I've never seen them. Those arguments I've seen are all, as you said, full of misunderstandings and twisted interpretations, and seem to be based solely on what's wrong with evolution, not what's right about Creationism.

Not only are not all homeschoolers the same, I find that rarely any are the same. Just about the only thing that homeschoolers can claim they share is the belief that homeschooling is the best option for their family.

Lynn said...

Dawn,

Your points are not too shabby for some Anglican housewife in rural Canada!

Good idea, taking on the theory issue; it sure can be confusing.

Myself? I have been very impressed with the work of Gabriel Burdett and believe, as he does, that the theory of gravity is flawed. (He's got some theories of his own that he's trying to introduce at the local junior college; but, regretably, he has encountered some resistence.)

Well, gotta run. Some friends and I are off for a rock climbing expedition this afternoon. Wish me luck! :)

homeschooltipoftheday said...

A well articulated response to Homeschool Insider's comment. You had it right the first time, blech. As for me, I have one of those weirdly formatted homeschooling tips blogs you mentioned (but it's really more of a place for me to keep my ideas, quiet rants and annoyances from blowing up inside me). A to Z and Jon's are certainly better places for the confused newbie.

Dawn said...

homeschooltipoftheday - I was thinking about it further and realized there was another blogger who has settled in the same niche too who does an excellent job and that's Notes From A Homeschool Mom (she's in my sidebar). I may have been wrong on that matter.

Nance Confer said...

"Evolution is a process that results in heritable changes in a population spread over many generations."

Yep -- that's the version I have pasted up on the wall here. Or pretty close to it. Mine has the key words underlined. You have to actually read what it says to understand it. :)

And, as opposed to what Brian states, it's still happening. All the time. He's just wrong.

Thanks for taking on this thorny issue, Dawn.

It's not only about evolution but, to me, about time we stop letting certain segments of the population bask in the security of having their guy in the White House. He's messed things up royally and it will take a long time to undo all the damage he and his administration have done to the scientific community alone, not to mention the rest of the country.

But it will all get straightened out. In time.

And it will happen faster the sooner there are more people speaking out as you do!

Nance

P.S. Loved the "radical idiots" phrase in the other post's comments -- sounds like getting hit with both barrels! :)

Nance Confer said...

LOL -- and he doesn't think there's any science to back up global warming either! What a maroon.

Nance

COD said...

Where is the blog? The only thing I see is a shallow attempt to collect your email address so he can sell you sell you something later. There is absolutely nothing of value on that website. It's a waste of bits, and time.

molytail said...

cod -

http://homeschoolinsider.com/blog/

(from the other post on this topic)

:-)

Dawn said...

I fixed the link, thanks Molytail! The link I had to the newsletter does belong to the same people though.

Brian said...

So it's OK for you to espouse a certain world-view in your homeschool blog, but not OK fo me to do the same.

You're implying that I should put some kind of a warning label on our blog to indicate it has a Christian/Creationist viewpoint as if it would somehow be toxic for general homeschoolers to read.

Sorry to inform you, but the evolutionary world-view is not the "neutral" or default position of the homeschooling world. There is no such thing as a "neutral" position.

I have just as much right as you to present what I believe to be the truth without wrapping it in some kind of "warning label" to avoid "offending" someone.

Our blog certainly does not deal exclusively with evolution vs. creation debates, but we certainly don't shy away from addressing the issue.

Since when does a blog have to have a name that reflects every topic it deals with? That's ridiculous. Your reasoning is faulty. We deal with ALL kinds of home schooling topics, one of which happens to be evolution.

Many home schoolers we know of have decided to homeschool their children mainly because they want their children to escape the public school emphasis on evolution. Many, if not most of our readers do not agree that evolution is true, so it's a topic we cannot ignore.

It all goes back to what I said earlier--that evolutionists typically are hostile to anyone that challenges the validity of evolutionary theory.

And you conveniently omitted the main point of my previous comment:
"I think it's only fair that evolutionists start offering some real scientific evidence to support their theory if they are so convinced they're correct. If evolution is an entirely natural process, as is claimed, then there should be abundant amounts of observable, testable evidence that can be verified by experimentation".

I challenge you to quit hiding behind the excuse that you don't want to debate the issue because "the information is all out there". If you can't explain for yourself why you believe evolution is true, other than the fact that many claim it is, then you have no right to claim I'm teaching falsely.

Let me offer an example. Let's say we have a population of grasshoppers, and a farmer sprays a pesticide on them. 99.8% of them are killed, and the
.2% that survived did so because they had a recessive trait that allowed them to be resistant to that pesticide.

They then reproduce, and eventually the whole population of grasshoppers is resistant to the pesticide. Did this occur because they "evolved" a new gene? No, it was already present in the population as a recessive gene, but when conditions changed (the pesticide kill-off) it became the dominant trait.

This is Natural Selection. No new function that was not already seen among the insect population was created--it was already present in the gene pool of grasshoppers.

No new form was created, either. We started out with a grasshopper, and we ended up with a grasshopper. This would be considered micro-evolution, the kind of changes we see in the present.

Macro-evolution, on the other hand, is what evolutionists talk about when they claim a natural process is responsible for all the different species we see today.

Evolutionists claim this process happened in the past, supposedly resulting in entirely new forms or functions. In other words, they claim that NEW genetic information was created.

However, we do NOT see this occurring in the present. If macro-evolution were an entirely natural process, there is no valid reason why it would not be occurring at the present time.

No macro-evolution has ever been observed to have occurred, even under controlled laboratory conditions. Yet evolutionists claim it has happened billions of times in an UNCONTROLLED environment.

So understandably, I believe you're confusing the two types of evolution, like many people do nowadays. I used to make this same mistake myself until I did some independent study on my own.

You don't believe (macro)evolution is true because you can produce some of the "overwhelming" amount of evidence in its favor. You believe it because you WANT to. And that's fine, just don't try to say that because it has been proven, because it certainly hasn't.

So you say you don't have a problem with sniping at each other. How professional...

Please explain how our blog is "doing harm" to others and how sniping at each other will help. I'm confused.

Anyone is entitled to read what we post on our blog. We don't exclude evolutionists, gays, unschoolers, or any other group. They may not agree with what we say, and if so, fine. They don't need to continue reading

I find it puzzling that someone can claim to be a Christian, and yet believe in evolution. Please show me where in the Bible it talks about evolution.

I can cite numerous passages referring to Creation (particularly Genesis 1). Jesus himself spoke of creation, not evolution (Mark 10:6, Matthew 19:4, 6:28-30), and John 1:3 says of Jesus, "All things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made".

I guess Jesus was just poorly informed and didn't know any better...

Your comment that "most likely most of us in fact, don't subscribe to that belief" (creationism) is probably true for your readership, but certainly not for homeschoolers in general.

Homeschoolers are certainly not homogenous in their views, but from my experience are far more in favor of Biblical creation than the average person (who has usually fallen under the influence of the public schools dogma).

If your "Christian Worldview" does not include creationism, I have to wonder what Bible you're reading. So if anyone is "co-opting" the term Christian Worldview it is the evolutionary camp, not creationists.

As for my comment about the universities, please show me just one example of a college where evolutionary theory is not the predominant teaching, and where discussion of its scientific validity is welcomed. Just one (not a private Christian college, but unfortunately, some of those have also fallen for it).

There IS a need for debate. It's not good enough for you to hide behind the "everyone says it's true, so it must be true" mantra about evolution, or to split hairs on a particular definition.

I've already covered the difference between Natural Selection and (Macro)evolution, so I encourage you to do some unbiased research on your own to see if what I say is true.

I like what Heather said: "Not only are not all homeschoolers the same, I find that rarely any are the same. Just about the only thing that homeschoolers can claim they share is the belief that homeschooling is the best option for their family".

How true. Let us both keep that in mind as we choose how we treat home schoolers who may happen to have a different point of view than our own.

We may not agree on controversial issues, but I still think we do the homeschooling community a disservice by sniping at each other. I'd like to think that we all have higher ideals and better manners than the average publicly-schooled families.

Dawn said...

Brian, you've read a lot into my post that I never said, for instance that evolution is a default view or worries about you offending people.

It's simply that you have a blog that looks as if it addresses a very general audience of home schoolers but, in fact, does not. You can choose to make that clear or you can choose not to. But by not making it clear you're inviting more criticisms like mine. It's that simple.

//I find it puzzling that someone can claim to be a Christian, and yet believe in evolution. Please show me where in the Bible it talks about evolution.//

There's a whole world of Christianity out there that is not guided by either an inerrant, literalist view of scripture or a church doctrine of sola scriptura. It would be a good thing for you to investigate that before presuming to ask an Anglican (which I do believe I mentioned) to justify herself by literalist benchmarks.

I hope that when you have a better understanding of the differences in how Christians approach scripture today and throughout history then you'll understand why your claim of a "Christian world view" is so insulting and presumptuous.

//Your comment that "most likely most of us in fact, don't subscribe to that belief" (creationism) is probably true for your readership, but certainly not for home schoolers in general.//

That may well be true. The comment was made about Christians, not home schoolers.

And I will not debate evolution with you Brian. I simply don't have to. If you're curious about how I arrived at my conclusion on evolution then consult the sources I provided or take a stroll through the biology (and religion as per my former comments on the wider world of Christianity) section of your local library. Whether you take that step is entirely your choice.

Good luck on whatever you choose.

Lynn said...

Hi Dawn,

Just wanted to add something to underscore why it's important to be diligent in distinguishing ourselves from Christian Worldview homeschoolers.

As a California homeschooler, I have been receiving email alerts from an inclusive homeschool advocacy organization about ACR 115, an Assembly Resolution that supports homeschooling. This organization is asking that liberal / secular homeschoolers make themselves - and their support of ACR 115 - known to their Assemblymembers as Democrats (the majority) are not likely to approve it, as most of what is heard from homeschoolers is Christian Worldview hysterics, which is all about taking aim at the values of a pluralistic society. ("Keep them the f** away from the microphones, in other words.") The "we're in this together" claim is misleading - and disingenuous, as anyone who's familiar with Worldview doctrine knows.

By the way, I have a colony of the most adorable little fairies living in my garden. At night, when everybody's asleep, they color the grass green. If you don't believe me, I'll need for you to scour the internet for information in support of your viewpoint. I'll sign off now, so you can get started :)

Brian said...

So if we "have a blog that looks as if it addresses a very general audience of home schoolers" then your conclusion is that we are not allowed to address the evolution vs. creation issue. Nonsense! We can address any issue we feel needs to be addressed.

Your logic on this escapes me. If this were true, then by identifying yourself as an "evolutionary" homeschool blog, you would not be able to write about curriculum, for instance.

Once again, you are implying that evolution is the default position, and that anyone who dares to suggest that evolution is not true has to put a "warning" label on it. Bunk.

You also imply that we are somehow deceiving our readers because we don't warn them ahead of time that we may discuss evolution vs. creation. Do you warn your readers ahead of time about every possible subject you might discuss?

And again, there is no "neutral" position on this issue. Either you believe that God created all living things as the Bible declares, or you don't. Whatever your particular world-view may be, it affects all areas of your thinking whether you realize it or not.

We have no choice but to address this issue because of its wide-ranging effects on many areas of life. As I mentioned before, many home schoolers have left the public schools entirely or mainly because of the heavy emphasis on evolution.

We're not about to duck the controversial issues simply because someone with an opposing viewpoint might be offended. We don't write on controversial subjects simply to offend anyone, but we're not about to shirk our responsibility to provide our readers with what we believe to be the truth.

And we certainly don't feel the need to put some kind of disclaimer on our blog to discuss ANY issue related to homeschooling.

We understand that some who hold the evolutionary viewpoint may be offended by what we write, because it's only natural to want to defend long-held beliefs. No one likes being told that what they believe may be wrong.

But that doesn't preclude us from declaring that we firmly and unapologetically believe that creation is the only logical and scientific explanation of origins.

Forgive me for not being familiar with Anglican beliefs, but it sounds like they believe the Bible is NOT inerrant. So when does God start telling us the truth? And how do we know which parts can be trusted and which ones can't?

Are they saying that the hundreds and hundreds of passages that speak of creation are all parables? I can't answer for them, so I won't even try.

It thus appears that some who call themselves Christians would like to pick and choose what they decide to believe from the Bible. This is decidedly NOT our position.

We believe that the ENTIRE Bible is the inspired, infallible word of God, and that God is telling us the whole truth throughout the WHOLE Bible.

Our position is that the Bible can be trusted 100%, but the statements of man cannot always be trusted, because mankind is sinful, myself included.

I know I shouldn't be so naive, but it still shocks me that some "Christians" don't even believe what the Bible says unless it fits their pre-conceived notions. The pronouncements of evolutionists or liberal theologians apparently trump the word of God for these folks.

I can't possibly hope to change anyone's view on the Bible--only God can. Nor can you change my views. So for now, it looks as if we'll just have to agree to disagree on this issue.

Finally, you still hold fast to your belief in evolution, yet can't defend your position with evidence. I already KNOW how you arrived at your conclusion on evolution. I'm quite familiar with all the arguments and rhetoric, as I'm a public school and university grad myself.

What is lacking is real scientifically valid evidence, and it appears I won't be getting any of it from you. Your comment "And I will not debate evolution with you Brian. I simply don't have to" is very telling.

The claim that evolution is settled scientific fact and doesn't need to be discussed is merely a smokescreen for the severe lack of evidence supporting it, and a denial of the large body of evidence indicating evolution is false.

I'm not trying to be difficult, but I only think that it's fair that anyone should provide a solid argument for their position before they claim that our views on creation are false or misleading, and that we need to put a disclaimer or warning on our blog.

If anything, I'm trying to get you and everyone else who reads to THINK about why it is they believe what they believe. If you whole-heartedly believed something that was in reality false, would you want to know about it? This is a not a trifling matter.

By the way, we have begun our own series of posts on this issue, which you can see at http://homeschoolinsider.com/blog/little-known-ways-to-unknowingly-annoy-other-homeschool-blogs/

Moses said...

Brian, your arguments from ignorance are not valid talking points. Do everyone a favor and just go to Talk Origins.

Most of us aren't interested in debating your ignorance in this kind of environment. We've got work to do and children to raise.

Pretty much every single one of the AIG talking points you faithfully regurgitated has been answered multiple times:

http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/list.html

ImPerceptible said...

The arrogance in their latest post post irritates me as much as people assuming all homeschoolers are Christians that believe in creationism. I get tired of explaining to people that I'm not one of those homeschoolers.

Also, they copied parts of your post without citing a reference. I would ask them to either remove the reference or cite you. Thou Shalt not steal! Guess that part of bible doesn't apply.

Ohh yeah, you rock!

Dawn said...

Thank you for letting me know! :D I've written a post and emailed him so hopefully he'll clear this up quickly.

Anonymous said...

I would say that AIG (www.answersingenesis.org) has much more credibility than www.talkorigins.org. Compare these two statements between the websites "How do I know the contents of this archive are reliable?" at http://www.talkorigins.org/origins/welcome.html and then look at AIG http://www.answersingenesis.org/about/soa

Dawn said...

At first blush it seems so, after all, the claims at AIG are certainly more grand:

"The AiG ministry has always relied on the advice, wisdom, and review of the very best international scientists available, including leading geologists, geneticists, astronomers, paleontologists, and theologians."

The problem is, I don't know who those people are. I don't know their reputation or standing in the world of science. I don't know if those people have published on the matters they've consulted on or whether their work has been peer-reviewed. The fact that, "These respected scientists review each other’s work," does not amount to peer review by the scientific community. This could be 5 guys in a discussing their work for all I know. If AIG is going to make these claims then they need to substantiate them.

TalkOrigins' claims are certainly much more modest but easily verifiable. They also make a point of citing peer reviewed sources that truly support their claims. I certainly found footnotes in the answers at AIG but they referenced books like, "P.J. Currie and K. Padian, eds., Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs" and I'm quite sure from what I know of Currie that there's nothing in any of his writing that would hint at any support of creationism. In fact the reference relates to, "diseases like cancer in their (dinosaurs) bones," to support a biblical argument that has nothing at all to do with science. (http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/nab/couldnt-god-have-used-evolution#fnMark_1_9_1) That's simply not a credible use of sources and does not support the argument being made in a scientific matter.

To contrast, take a look at a TalkOrigins article - http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/section1.html#Wilson1992

Sure that could have been written by a plumber between shifts but the fact the claims all cite peer-reviewed sources is what gives the articles real force.

TalkOrigins sums this up in fact:

"As a general rule, you should never rely too heavily on anything you read on the Internet. Read the primary, reviewed literature before making up your mind on any topic. Most of the archive's essays provide references to primary sources to make it easier for you to do this."

That AIG could be preffered to TalkOrigins puzzles me and points to the fact that people simply lack scientific literacy and the means to read and critically examine a proper piece of science writing.

Thanks for the comment! I appreciated it as it was an interesting exercise to compare the two! :)

Lynn said...

//How do I know the contents of this archive are reliable?//

Anonymous: The point is to check out counter-arguments and then make evaluations. You shouldn't be taking anybody's word, uncritically. Rather than being told (by Ken Ham and Co.) what atheists and/or *evolutionists* argue, why not summon the courage to go see for yourself? Hold those arguments up to the light, then decide.

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

Brian asks why colleges and universities don't "allow" debate on creationism v. evolution.

There was actually a time (during the late '70's-80's) where such debates did occur, although not in science classes. But it was quickly seen to be a waste of time because there was no common agreement on the terms of even basic ideas such as what science actually is. As for what happens in science classes--the students are paying to learn what scientists do and what has been learned thus far--and creationism is a religious fishing expedition. It is not science.

Crimson Wife said...

Like you, I get annoyed by certain Christians who try to define "Christianity" as only those who hold a particular set of beliefs. The Nicene Creed doesn't say anything about taking a literal reading of every single word in the Bible.

The Bible is Divinely inspired and true, but some passages may be true in an allegorical sense rather than a literal one. Genesis 1 is one of those passages. There have been great theological debates over the years about what time period is represented by the 6 days of Creation. To fundamentalist Protestants like Brian, it's the equivalent of 144 modern hours. To other Christians, it may be the equivalent of a significantly longer amount of modern time.

God exists outside of the human conception of time; as the prayer goes: "He was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end." Also, 2 Peter 3:8 states that "with the Lord one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day".

Lynn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.