John Grehan jrg13 at PSU.EDU
Sat Aug 19 22:39:57 CDT 2000

Stuart Poss wrote:

>Creationists will never be able to reduce science to farce, only appeal to
>farce and sophism to confuse the uneducated and those difficient in their
>ability to observe and think critically about their observations.

This point could be a bit tricky if it is being suggested that
evolutionists never resort to "farce" and "sophism". It may also be argued
that there are evolutionists who fail to think "critically" about their
observations (although I agree that what constitutes "critical" thinking
may depend on one's research perspective).

>Regretably, it is as yet impossible to legislate a requirement for
>intelligence or establish it through electoral mandate.

I'm a bit lost on what "intelligence" has to do with the issue. Please clarify.

>The adage that the
>price of freedom requires constant vigilance almost certainly also holds

I'm not sure that the issue is about freedom. Much of science is not so
much about freedom, but the use of institutional power to repress opposing

>at least an electoral majority now seem to be able
>to differentiate between science and religion,

This is something of a surprise to me as I am not sure that there is any
absolute criterion for making such a distinction.

>I am still trying to find a creationist who seems able to fashion a cogent,
>non-evolutionary explanation for why the HOX genes in lancelets that encode
>for the organization of their brain are virtually identical with those of
>humans that encode for the organizaton of our own hindbrain.

I will take a stab at this. I presume the evolutionary explanation is
common ancestry (sorry I have been out of this aspect of genetics for some
time so please correct me if necessary). I would presume a creationist
explanation would be commonality of design (this was the view in Darwin's
time for shared biological organization which was why biogeography became
so critical for Darwin to be able to escape the dichotomy). However much I
might disagree with this creationist view I would not see it as any less
"cogent" than an evolutionary explanation.

The trouble with a challenge of this kind is the danger that any response
may be rejected as not being "cogent" just as creationists can always
reject any intermediate fossil as being truly "intermediate".

Stuart indicates that creationist do, or may, create confusion about
science, but I wonder if they are merely exploit an already existing
confusion because science (and particularly evolution) is not taught all
that well.

By way of contrasting modes of education, I am intrigued by the use of
layperson elections to determine educational content. In New Zealand (at
least in the past) much of the curriculum content of higher secondary
education was oriented by university researchers and school teachers so the
popular vote approach never arose as a problem. I don't know how that
compares to any other country however.

John Grehan

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