To engage or not to engage Creationists, that is the question

A few weeks ago I posted this letter written by a group called Christians4Science.  The group is organized out of the Villa Rica Church of Christ in Villa Rica, Georgia and while they claim that their goal is “for children to receive an un-biased science education (good science is by definition un-biased so I’m not even sure what they mean by that),” it would appear that their primary goal is – you guessed it – to get evolution by natural selection out of Georgia’s public school science classrooms and textbooks.

I have children in Georgia’s public schools, so their efforts are relevant to my interests.

Here’s my conundrum. They don’t seem to have very much traction.  In fact, were it not for their efforts to promote their agenda of bombarding the state science standards review board survey (which is now closed to comment by the way) with anti-science propaganda which in turn got their organization picked up by a local news affiliate, I wouldn’t have known about the public comment period and consequently would have not been able to provide my own public input on the survey. Of course my input implored Georgia to continue teaching real science in science class and reminded the board that the state has been making (relatively) excellent progress as evidenced by the recent result on the 2011 National Assessment for Education Progress in science.

So given that they don’t have much traction, yet that they are a group determined to undermine my own children’s education, I’m struggling with whether or not it’s worth engaging the organization in a dialogue. In other words, does the act of debating them (or even writing a blog post about them) give them some measure of unearned legitimacy?

The group has a fairly new Facebook page that I’ve been monitoring over the last couple of days and I’ve noticed that a few pro-science folks have waded in to what I’ll call the “misinformational” muck on that page – I have not…yet.  Just so you know that I’m not throwing ad hom bombs here, the misinformational muck I’m talking about are quite literally things like links to “peer-reviewed creation science journals” that are of course not peer-reviewed, links struggling mightily to debunk Carbon-14 dating, discussions on how dinosaurs, dragons, and humans lived at the same time, discussions on the “reality” of Noah’s Ark, and so forth. 

The page is holding steady at 68 likes which I’m guessing is roughly equal to the size of the congregation at Villa Rica Church of Christ (or at least the size that have Facebook accounts).

But here’s the thing. They are either just making stuff up or propagating someone else’s made up stuff.  And rather than keep their misinformation confined to the walls of their church – they are trying to release it in to the greater population and in particular, insidiously enough, they are trying to infect school children with their very specific and completely unsupported version of how biology, and frankly how science, works.

What they are calling science is actually anti-science, and I have a problem with that. 

For now I’m content to simply point out that a group who believes dragons, dinosaurs, and humans all lived together, has an organized effort to influence our children’s science curriculum and I’ll hope most people have the same reaction that I have – ill concealed laughter.   But it would be a mistake as evidenced by the progress of junk-thought in Tennessee during the 2012 legislative session, to take this group and others like it entirely off the radar.

About Ryan

Ryan is a science advocate, history fan, amateur polemicist, consultant, and soccer player, dreaming of being a writer. His first book project is about critical thinking. He blogs regularly about debt and personal finance at He is available for writing projects on a number of subjects. Contact him at dadindebtblog at gmail dot com.
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One Response to To engage or not to engage Creationists, that is the question

  1. Alan Crawford says:

    SH, just discovered your site and enjoying it. Regarding the teaching of creationism in schools, I am always left wondering “which creation story?”. I have even imagined a system in which we embrace a basic introduction to a broad base of multi-religious creation stories and actually compare them to one another and to actual scientific views. Now, this is certainly not the aim of those “christian” groups that are pushing for the inclusion of creationism/intelligent design, but imagine the power of applied critical thought against the background of consistent scientific findings compared to the symbolic tapestry and variety of creation stories. Perhaps we would actually create a much more intelligent and critical thinking student that is well informed and able to discern facts and the scientific approach from symbolic stories whose meaning and relevance is best understood when a deep understanding of the cultural history is applied.
    I know this is wishful thinking, but I wonder if we were to embrace the challenge of the creationist, but extend it to multiple creation stories as I have suggested, and teach the differences in an approach of critical thinking, if we would actually eliminate these challenges to common sense and science within just a generation or two. Rather than fight their approach, let’s embrace it, extend it, and reveal it for what it really is acedemically. The purpose is not to discredit the stories, it is to reposition them in a trained and intelligent mind to that which they truly deserve, not in the science class, but in the study of literature, culture, history, sociology, psychology, etc. Now, to me, that would be a truly humanistic approach. That is a “win” for everyone involved and an intelligent advancement of our culture and society.
    Thanks for the opportunity to share an idea and keep up the good work.
    Alan Crawford, Va.

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