OK

Looks like the creationist crowd is trying a new tack to try and get a toe in the evolution debate.  Apparently shutting out discussion of creation amounts to a denial of academic freedom.

Today (February 12) is Darwin Day, proclaimed by its celebrants as "an international celebration of science and humanity." The observance, according to the event's website, "expresses gratitude for the enormous benefits that scientific knowledge, acquired through human curiosity and ingenuity, has contributed to the advancement of humanity."

The same day, a counter-celebration -- Academic Freedom Day -- is being observed, encouraging students across the U.S. to defend their right to debate the evidence for and against Darwin's theory of evolution. John West, a senior fellow with the Discovery Institute, explains that the idea for Academic Freedom Day came from evolutionary critics who believe the pros and cons of evolution should be discussed in public school classrooms.

The Discovery Institute is the same outfit that helped touch off the Dover controversy--and had its head handed to it in that case when the judge all but said it was trying to get creation through the back door.

Admittedly, it's a clever ruse--all we want is equal time.  The problem is that it's been proven time and again that "creation science" is not science, but simply putting a scientific gloss on "Well, God made it that way."  It's not stifling debate. We're simply saying, "You want to make your argument?  Fine.  Just don't call it science."

Also, their ultimate goal is not merely "a place at the table," but to push out evolution entirely.  The Discovery Institute all but admits this in the first paragraphs of its manifesto, the Wedge Document.

The proposition that human beings are created in the image of God is one of the bedrock principles on which Western civilization was built. Its influence can be detected in most, if not all, of the West's greatest achievements, including representative democracy, human rights, free enterprise, and progress in the arts and sciences.

Yet a little over a century ago, this cardinal idea came under wholesale attack by intellectuals drawing on the discoveries of modern science. Debunking the traditional conceptions of both God and man, thinkers such as Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, and Sigmund Freud portrayed humans not as moral and spiritual beings, but as animals or machines who inhabited a universe ruled by purely impersonal forces and whose behavior and very thoughts were dictated by the unbending forces of biology, chemistry, and environment. This materialistic conception of reality eventually infected virtually every area of our culture, from politics and economics to literature and art.

So no matter what the evidence for evolution, it's invalid because it's rooted in materialism.  Believe it or not, this is actually a common argument from the anti-evolution crowd.  For instance, one anti-evolution site lists the number-one reason for why evolution is invalid is that it promotes atheism.  Nope, it's not the usual arguments that it's bad science.  It's because it turns people away from God.

So when you hear the religious right complain about academic freedom being stifled, just remember--it's another dog whistle.  Fortunately, as a reality-based charismatic/pentecostal Christian, I can hear the pitch.

(cross-posted at The Christian Dem Home Journal and Talk2Action)

Originally posted to Christian Dem in NC on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 01:57 PM PST.

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