Blow by blow: part 1


As a follow-up to my earlier post about two schools in New Zealand that teach creationism and reject evolution I have decided to do a section-by-section critique of the statement published on Ponatahi Christian School’s website. The reason why I am doing this is twofold: (1) I am appalled that teachers paid by the government (i.e. my tax money) can teach this in New Zealand and (2) because their statement about creation/evolution contains several inaccuracies and internal contradictions. The fact that it contains inaccuracies that border on deceit is in my mind a serious concern for the “[t]hou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor” commandment, but that is really a side in issue and doesn’t concern me. Many of the inaccuracies have been discussed thoroughly by several people, most notably Richard Dawkins in The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution and Jerry Coyne in Why Evolution Is True. I have read the former and found it compelling and well written in a way that can be understood easily by the lay person. If read with an open mind, I would say that you would be hard pressed to not accept the theory (said: fact) of evolution. Unfortunately it is the ‘open-mind’ part that appears to be missing from the statement published by Ponatahi Christian School. Their view, as stated by them, is first and foremost the word of god. Thus, if evidence contradicts the word of god, it must be wrong. The introduction to their statement about creation/evolution testifies to this:

It is important that children and adults are clear that there is one universal truth. There can only be one truthful explanation for origins which means that all other explanations are wrong. Truth is truth. Biblical truth, scientific truth, mathematical truth, and historical truth are in harmony. Truth can never contradict truth. We do not have to be afraid of history or science if rightly understood. True science is our friend, it is the manifestation of God’s wisdom. Design demands a Designer. Creation demands a Creator, and it is not feasible that a Creator would not communicate to us who He is. We are privileged to have the great Creator’s communication to us in our homes and school: The Holy Word of God; the Bible. In this we can learn about the Creator, our relationship to the Creator, and how that relationship can be enhanced. We can also learn things which science is too limited to teach us.
Note: head nod to PZ Myers for comic sans quoting.

The claim that there is one universal truth is an odd one. Logically there is no way to explain a single universal truth. Of course they mean is that god is universal truth, but applied to the universe in a general sense is a logical fallacy; everybody knows the only universal truth is 47. Joking aside, this claim is the justification to reject anything that contradicts the bible. Therefore, we know from the get go that there is no critical thinking applied to the creation/evolution statement. The motivation is anti-science because they start with a ‘fact’ and try to prove it. Here is where there is a contradiction: “it is not feasible that a Creator would not communicate to us who He is.” Absolutely, yet there are no recorded moments in time where it can be said, without a shadow of a doubt, god did that, or that IS god. They provide no evidence of god yet use god as a reason to reject evidence. The ridiculousness is glaringly obvious.


 That “[t]here can only be one truthful explanation for origins which means that all other explanations are wrong” is correct. And indeed truth is truth. Scientific truth, mathematical truth, and historical truth are in harmony. Biblical ‘truth’ is the odd one out.  The bible contains several instances that are absolutely not in harmony with science and/or historical truth. Coming back from the dead, turning water into wine, walking on water, the global flood and the six day creation are inconsistent with scientific observations of geology, biology and physics. This is not harmonious. Indeed, history also contradicts the bible. The book of Matthew recounts the Massacre of the Innocents whereby Herod ordered the slaughter of young males after hearing of the forthcoming birth of Jesus. However, it turns out that the only place this event was ‘recorded’ is the book of Matthew. Matthew was not present at the time of Jesus’ birth and so he did not observe this event. It was not recorded in any contemporary texts suggesting that Matthew was mistaken. While these are only a few examples they demonstrate a point: the lack of harmony.

Overall the introduction holds science in contempt: the closing remark that science is limited with the qualifier ‘too’ which tantalizingly alludes to weakness or inferiority. This suggestion of limitation is expanded in sections two and three but I will save comment on that for another time. All in all not a great start from Ponatahi but it might get better.If you have any thoughts, comments or criticisms of my critique post them below and I will respond accordingly.

7 comments:

Pico said...

Good article. It seems like a typical creationist failure to use logic. I reminds me of this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EaYNxHthu1I&feature=related&t=52

The guy accepts both the premise and accepts that the argument is sound but then rejects the conclusion! A serious wtf moment.

Paul said...

Comic sans, PZ would be proud. Although that's probably the font they use in the original...

Jarrod said...

@Paul: I admit, I stole the idea but it was irresistible. Note added.

Jarrod said...

@Pico: that video made me cringe.

alison said...

Very nice :-) I've written a bit about this school's curriculum myself (http://sci.ac.nz/bioblog) - I simply can't understand how they can claim to be using the NZ science curriculum ('just' minus evolution!) when the overarching strand of said curriculum is the nature of science, & Ponatahi is simply Doing It Wrong...

alison said...

drat! http:// sci.waikato.ac.nz/bioblog ! (how could I get my own URL wrong?)

Jarrod said...

Hi Allison. I actually came across it the school via your blog. I noticed you have subsequently done a follow up with "what about archaeopteryx?" - one of my favourite creationist examples of demonstrating that they do not understand evolutionary theory. It s treated like a silver bullet.

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