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Christopher Halliwell

Secondary Education Physics, Mississippi State University

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Should public schools be allowed to teach creation myths in science class?

Should christian political parties be allowed to circumvent the scientific method by using politics to put mythology in science textbooks?


Closing Statement from Christopher Halliwell

This conversation contains strongly differing opinions about public education. However, those who commented in favor of introducing creation myths into science textbooks were always religiously motivated. This is no surprise. Instead of appealing to the validity or truth of their respective creation stories, theses people appealed to "teaching the controversy". My response:

There is no controversy concerning evolution in the scientific community. "Teaching the controversy" of creation stories vs evolution is equivalent to teaching astrology next to astronomy, or alchemy next to chemistry, or magic next to electromagnetism. Without any verifiable claims to test, creation stories are not scientific. Ergo they do not belong in a science textbook.

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    Feb 25 2013: The myth of evolution-creationism should be taken out of the schools.
    Government should neither support nor infringe upon any religion, and currently public schools preach atheism via evolution-creationism and thus support a religion.
    That is not to say evolution is a myth or religion, just that preaching evolution-creationism as the complete story is only a myth.

    For example; it is true that flowers evolved to attract more pollen-feeding-insects, pollen-feeding-insects evolved to better use flowers. But pollen-feeding-insects could have not have survived before flowers, nor could have flowers survived before pollen-feeding-insects.
    And that is just one example of how evolution-creationism takes giant leaps of faith to believe in.
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      Feb 25 2013: Evolution has nothing to do with atheism. Public schools all around the world are teaching evolution because it is a demonstrable fact.

      The myths in question are the creation stories that every culture has invented. Now that you better understand the topic of discussion, perhaps you could make a positive contribution to the conversation.
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        Feb 25 2013: WOW! Try reading a post before replying to it.
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          Feb 25 2013: As a matter of fact, I read your entire post before replying to it. You strayed off-topic by accosting evolution. This thread is not about the validity of any specific scientific theory. The topic of this thread is about your opinion on the political efforts to introduce creation stories into science textbooks.

          If you reply to this message, please remember to stay on topic.

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        Feb 25 2013: And my point was that the myth of creation via evolution is in the science textbooks, and should not be.
        Science textbooks should not have any creation myth in them, including evolution as a source of creation.

        Science textbooks could have a section on common theories of creation and that should include the today’s common religions including Christians, Atheism, Buda, etc.

        You question is based on the premise that public schools currently don’t teach a creation myth and that is based on a premise that creation via evolution is a fact and not a theory. In all questions we need to examine the premises that base the question.
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          Feb 26 2013: Why in science textbooks. Sounds like history. Or the history of science. Or the study of religions.
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          Feb 26 2013: Ah, so you have a deep distrust of science I see. If you cast aside your prejudice, you may just learn something. Evolution is a fact. Your religious indocrination is a lie, and just mere 30 minutes of research would prove it. Take the time to learn, you'll thank me later I promise you.
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      Feb 25 2013: Don is correct,

      This year in my Cog-Sci class, my professor made a point of noting popular creationist and evolutionist, and their arguments for their respective positions and counter-positions.

      I am one to note the 'neoatheist' trend which is rising in this nation, let alone world. This trend, movement or what have you - is an unconscious paradigm (I have no other way to phrase it).

      The 'atheist beliefs' are the foundation for the arguments. The Four Horsemen of New Age Atheism, anyone? All writers and scholars and SCIENTIST who write with these predisposed attitudes towards fundamentalism, and namely (more specifically) Judea-extremism.

      The word 'religion' may get a lot of you atheist uptight, but let me assure you - the way most of you will define religion is not universal, but usually only involves the Abrahamics. Religion is also defined as the relationship with God - atheism is basically saying "I am God" - the difference between the alpha and omega, the creator of reality.... Why call this God? Because this momentary thinking is 'Godly' - the difference between true understanding and falsehoods - the kingdom of heave or hell.

      Indeed, all of you Atheist believe religion is irrational. However, with developed studies of cog psych, research in cog psych of religion are able to determine moments where a fundamentalist FEELS 'God' is achieved by those who are profound disbelievers of God. This state of mind (God-feeling) is in all of us. How we all activate is dependent on our belief systems.

      Neoatheism IS a disorganized religion today, it just looks more like a movement. It is not 'bad' per say, but it is bad when those who claim 'atheism' do not realize they are being religious to a degree.

      At the point atheist go to meetings once a week, is the day when we realize religion is not the enemy. Fundamentalism, and namely extremism are the potential enemy...

      Don believes evolution is in 'myth' form, and very much it is, as it is a theory and fact.
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        Feb 26 2013: I'm not a theist. I don't believe in any gods or goddesses. I also don't consider myself a god.
        Just a human, homo sapian, a mammal that breast fed as a children, a primate with an amazing brain and consciousness.

        You might consider being careful not top assume you know what "all of you" anythings believe.
        Maybe follow your own advice. You claim all atheists define religion in regards to the Abrahamic religions. I don't. It's just most the theists we bump into in the West are Christians.

        Why isn't it irrational to believe your subjective cultural or experiential interpretation of a psychological experience is the correct one and all the other contradictory interpretations from similar experiences are wrong?

        Don't we know enough about the brain to know how so called religious experiences are brain activity leveraging different cognitive mechanisms. We you meditate or pray and feel that connection MRI's show the brain at work. Now we can not tell if there is some supernatural connection. but we know there is a natural mechanism at play. Denying the experiences is irrational. Assuming a supernatural dimension or particular religious interpretation of these experiences is also irrational.

        Atheists meeting up doesn't make it a religion. Are there atheist groups yes. Humans are social and meet for all sorts of reasons. I suggest sports fans are more religious than most atheists.

        I agree Buddhism and perhaps Confucionism have fulfilled a religious role in many societies with out gods. I would consider them a type or religion or something close to it.

        Not having a theist belief is a long way from being a religion even if some gather together. Are political parties religions? Are Justin Beiber fans part of a religion?

        No argument that there are some group dynamics at play with some atheists. But you need more than group dynamics to call something a religion.

        How do you define religion in a way that having no theist beliefs is a religion?
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          Feb 26 2013: All your statements are indicative of your atheism beliefs.

          You may not want to say your 'God' but you want me to prove things to you? And not in generalities? Because what I am saying conflicts with what you belief, that cause problems, no? Why? Because a feeling of discomfort... I would go as far to assume that discomfort can be comparable to a Christian when someone says "God is bullshit"... You think/thought you have a grasp even on your own thoughts, but are unaware of how determined your thinking is..

          Atheism has done some harm to developing cultures. While the ideas used to be counter-Judea have backfired. Beliefs, religion, supernatural... These are ideas which are ANCIENT to give no benefit to their usage is ignorant. And many are guilty of saying "I have no beliefs" "religion is evil" "supernatural thoughts are wasteful" - without even entertaining the thought, NOW THAT IS PLAYING GOD - to be so arrogant as to not even think about the contradictory thought.

          I would go as far to say every human being has these feelings of being God. However, for those who believe in a creator/omni-being ... well they can achieve those feelings in more ways than someone who does not. However, all feelings - yet, these feelings do come back to a God-idea.

          Do I seem to at any point be campaigning a specific religion? No. I am dictating that religion is a natural condition to human beings, and as long as there are groups who keep denying such a reality with their belief systems... We are not going to progress as well..

          Indeed, because sport fans talk about God and ethics and knowledge - smart comparison...

          All we know, as of now, in cog studies is we do have this drive to know metaphysical questions... one of those questions is an original creator, it's a natural mechanism to question such ideas of the above. Take my word for it, and if you don't cog psych of religion, have a blast learning something anti-atheism movement.

          Religion is both personal and social
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        Feb 27 2013: You can assume whatever you like about what I think and feel, just don't expect your assumptions are correct. And don't put words in my mouth.

        People who don't have god beliefs are just as diverse as those who do.

        Do you realise you are stereotyping and generalising in the extreme

        I guess we disagree and agree on a lot of things. I'm not sure why you think I feel uncomfortable.

        I have beliefs.
        Did I say religion is evil? Don't put words in my mouth.
        Did I say you were campaigning for a specific religion?
        Did I say God is bullshit? Don't put words in my mouth.

        When you get on a bit further in your cog studies you might take more care in jumping to conclusions, projecting your generalisations onto to people with limited data, to making a diagnosis with no data etc.

        Also, from a debate perspective you have gone ad hominem, rather than deal with my points.

        Buddhist meditation, atheist meditation does not come back to a god idea.

        I agree that religious or supernatural type beliefs seems to reflect our cognitive make up. We seem inclined to assume agency, we hallucinate and jump to intuitive conclusions etc.
        We search for meaning and understanding and build belief systems about how the universe works. Just some are supported by more evidence than others. We worry about dying. And we have language ability to pass on knowledge and culture from one general to the next.

        I'm also all for freedom of religion. Not only do I think people should have this right, it also provides a space for non religious people.

        I also understand how strongly religious belief can become part of a persons identity.

        I'm not sure what your anti atheist stereotype rant has to do with the topic.

        Do you support the separation of church and state?

        Can all the different religious beliefs be correct?

        Is the susceptibility of humans to be religious or have supernatural beliefs proof of gods?

        Is the prevalence of religious beliefs a reason to include creationism in science class?
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          Feb 27 2013: We've argued before, I don't put words, I do assume. Assumptions is all we have - I cannot read your mind and can only gather so much from reading your comments.

          I admit my hostility here is high. Yet, the minority here is creationism, and for this word to even have any value you have to understand there are a great number of minds behind this movement of information.

          Consider saying "no" to the future Buddhist researcher who wants to sell a meditation session procedure + brain 'zap' = in order to alter our minds into transcendence, arguablely, unnaturally.

          Why would you say no to such amazing knowledge....? (Same mindset as the fundamentalist of any religion, but not as good of an example..) However, if anything you respond to said answer becomes projected as hostile in the negation of their absolute ideologies... Dilemmas occur.

          Let me put my thoughts in another way...

          Early Creationism of the American Funda. Christian Movements (working title) - would actually drive the scientific community into a huge theologian 'conflict of conditionals' - but, ultimately - Evolutionism would actually grow stronger as movement of thought within scientific communities. Paradigms in every field of scientific study would be reflective of evolutionary studies - biology majorly of course. Mr. Dawkins would inspire a new generation of irreligious thoughts.

          Now, ignoring most of your questions...

          Controversy can do so much more for objective knowledge, than believing there are absolutes. Understanding both sides of the argument better prepares you to support yours with their knowledge. Creationist make arguments for microevolution all the time. They will not reject facts, just merely alter their interpretation. But life is all about interpretations through perspectives. That's where my mind is at while we continue debating.

          We are talking education. Not epistemology or virtues of scientific exploration. Education comes first, and foremost. In this debate, for me.
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          Feb 27 2013: 1.Of course there are diverse people in general, but the fact is when you label 'atheist' you place yourself into this religious battle of 'science v religion' and get into ridiculous semantic disputes. Religion is as individual as communal. For those who are irreligious under the label 'atheist' are neoatheist or new agey -atheism, agnosticism, theism, and gnosticism are qualities of a religious foundation - God. "Religion is one's personal relationship with God" - You have no relationship with "God"? Some may say "you are missing out." Others, "that's okay God is there anyways." A few, "whatever God is love/Goodness - as long as you are strong with those virtues, you are with God"

          2. God is an ancient idea, not going away, expanding it in school would be devastating for future generation of fundamental Christianity. Christianity of course never going away - but, will evolve and grow with facts and truths which are unchangeable by efforts of research through passionate and dedicated, philosophers and scientist. Expand any thought, it will blow up with more questions.

          3. Again, Never meant to put words, I was generalizing - but your arguments for "science" are indicative from all of the above... your background of knowledge foundational for learning... Your thought paradigm... We have argued before, it has taken a lot of dialogue for you to open up as more than an atheist - although you keep labeling thoughts as such. Even indirectly. "Science" this "science" that - these are attitudes of this movement.

          4. Again, semantics...

          Indeed, 'peak experience' 'enlightenment' 'satori' - these ideas/conditions are not necessary of "God" in any sense or even usage of the phrase. You're right, absolutely, but at the same EXACT time. More people will understand the idea of 'satori', in the West, with ideas of God attached. Religious Knowledge - Epistemology.

          5. We are God my brother. You and I. Without us, there is no beginning nor end. All powerful with imagination
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          Feb 27 2013: 6. Church and state will never separate - "Church" being the symbol of religion - religion will always effect decisions. Making my original point with founding fathers important! I understand you are not American, but America inspires this world, it is a commodity - era-based philosophy is usually European-N. American in general. Central figures for all first world nation... A lot of people today are "religious naturalist" like, ancient Greek philosophers, Pagan, polytheism - naturalism. These inspiring thoughts of nature being the means of understand reality, through natural philosophy (science)... That becomes their religion. Religion is a part of the human patterned natures.

          7. I never attack person or character. I attacked your thoughts. Ignorance does not reflect personality - only knowledge/intelligence. The word ignorance has terrible taboo - but, the idea one receives from another as having something more of 'knowledge' seems personal at times. Not my intention. My intention was to insight such an open response and multiplicity, I think I got that.

          We should exchange more info Obey! You have always been the Aristotle to my Socratic thinking.

          8. Yes... To be a fair society, to be ubermen, to be better than who we ARE - we must always allow majority to rule. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few... What keeps the majority distracted from ruling is minority thinking. Although NEEDED and REQUIRED for a society to be virtuous, minority should work with the majority... And attacking core beliefs, seems to be an issue with transferring data between humans.

          9. It is not a question of creationism, itself. It is a question of education. To deny information which can be relative to other, better information... Never a bad thing.

          10. Fear... May be why people do not want creationism taught in science. Without evolutionism, there would be no creationism and vice versa. It is all giant conflicts of science... More conflicts like that are good.
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        Feb 28 2013: Thanks for the comprehensive comments.

        We actually agree in some aspects, but are perhaps talking about slightly different things.

        I agree religious beliefs and other values will inform humans who govern us. For me secular government is about government not forcing these views on the people.

        So forcing atheists and politheists to say one nation under god crosses the line.

        Using government land or resources for just one religion crosses the line.

        You can't stop people voting with their conscience, but using government resources to support or favour religion crosses a line we can protect.

        Suggest the best democracies to live in protect minority rights.

        Didn't Aristotle get in trouble for not honouring the gods. And anger Alexander for criticising his claims of divinity. Happy to be associated with him.

        Now I understand some of your comments. They are based on previous discussions. I may have slightly softened my approach and outlook.

        One thing that stood out for is using controversy as a enough of a reason to teach something in science class. We may just have to agree to disagree on this issue.

        If science found good evidence we were designed, I'd accept that. Although I'd probably assume aliens most likely unless we found evidence of a creator god. But the most popular definitions these days seem to be for something outside time and space, immaterial etc whatever that means. To me its a bit like describing something that you can not detect because it doesn't actually exist. What is the spirit realm. What reliable information do we have that it exists as more than a concept. Oops off topic. Don't answer.

        Also, seems fair to assume the burden of proof is on the theist, not the non believer.
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        Feb 28 2013: You demonstrate your prejudice yet again. There is no such thing as a set of "atheistic beliefs", since the only thing all atheists have in common is a lack of belief in any deity. We do not have any tenents or rules or requirements. Buddhists are atheists. Infants are atheists. Most Japanese people are atheists. Merely being unconvinced of the existence of a diety makes you an atheist.

        I hope you take the time to learn about the people you ignorantly condemn.

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