Saturday, January 12, 2008

Should advocates of evolution be immune from cultural pressure?

Ed Brayton at Dispatches from the Culture Wars today complains about the pressure teachers come under not to teach about evolution. Hmmm. I may be mistaken, but isn't this the kind of observation which, if it were made, for example, by Christians about religious persecution in our society, would elicit charges of whining from blogs like Brayton's?

We should say to Brayton what I think should be said to the people who are always complaining about religious persecution in this country: suck it up. If you think that's persecution, then you don't know what persecution is. Go home and turn the TV back on, throw in a DVD, pop open a soda, and stop complaining.

We're so comfortable we don't have a clue what persecution really means.

But, ironically, the Evolution Dogmatists, despite the fact that they control the nation's science curriculum, still want the benefit of looking like martyrs. Look, I know teachers that are in this kind of position and I see the pressures they face--and I respect them for standing up for what they believe in even if I don't agree with them on some things. If there are teachers out there who are under pressure to do what is against their principles, then, hey, stand up for what you believe in. It's good for you.

"I like getting into hot water," Chesterton once said. "It keeps you clean."

There are countless times in life when you're put in a position in which you have to take a stand. Unfortunately, most people have a very low pain threshold when it comes to such things, but it doesn't cost you near as much as you think it will.

You get the distinct impression from comments like Brayton's that somehow he and his very unmerry band should be immune from the common vicissitudes of public debate, and sheltered from the costs to which the rest of us are subject in fighting the culture wars.

Well folks, that's life. Get used to it.

11 comments:

One Brow said...

Hmmm. I may be mistaken, but isn't this the kind of observation which, if it were made, for example, by Christians about religious persecution in our society, would elicit charges of whining from blogs like Brayton's?
Well, when it’s accompanied by complaints of how the treatment is unfair, or this is a Christian country, etc., then it would be like those blogs.

But, ironically, the Evolution Dogmatists, despite the fact that they control the nation's science curriculum, still want the benefit of looking like martyrs.
I didn’t see a claim of martyrdom, either.

There are countless times in life when you're put in a position in which you have to take a stand. Unfortunately, most people have a very low pain threshold when it comes to such things, but it doesn't cost you near as much as you think it will.
Seeing that Brayton held up a different teacher as a model to be followed when dealing with the parents who object to evolutionary science, I would say he agrees with you.

You get the distinct impression from comments like Brayton's that somehow he and his very unmerry band should be immune from the common vicissitudes of public debate, and sheltered from the costs to which the rest of us are subject in fighting the culture wars.
I didn’t. I saw it as a call to other teachers that it is OK to stand up against the pressure, while acknowledging it was still there.

Art said...

Actually, the question is (if we are to keep closer to Ed Brayton's theme) "Should science teachers be immune to harassment by uninformed members of the community?"

An interesting question.

Anonymous said...

isn't this the kind of observation which, if it were made, for example, by Christians about religious persecution in our society, would elicit charges of whining from blogs like Brayton's?
What's an analogous example of religious "persecution"? Do science teachers tell pastors and ministers that they shouldn't mention God in churches?

And why use the words "persecution" and "martyrs"? I couldn't find either at the webpage referenced. An occasional use of hyperbole can add emphasis; its continual use is more suited to preaching to the choir than conveying any point.

jah

Josh Rosenau said...

You've taken this in an odd direction, assuming that the relevant comparison must be to religion, rather than other teachers. Despite very real problems with gravity at quantum scales, physics teachers don't get pressure from parents and administrators to soft-pedal gravity, and math teachers aren't asked to undermine the integrity of the field in which they are expert to kowtow to the philosophical bias Pythagoreans have against irrational numbers.

As others have noted, the word "persecution" here is not Brayton's, nor is it the teacher's. Your assault on the use of that word is thus a straw-man. If I wanted to talk about persecution, I'd be using the example of Chris Comer.

Anonymous said...

Just what are these "culture wars" Mr Cothran refers to? Who are the major participants and for what are they "fighting"?

Is it perhaps Mr Cothran's unstated contention that certain science subjects ought to be not taught because of "cultural pressure" rather than scientific dispute? [Note that Mr Cothran's article entitled "Scientists who doubt Darwinism" is filed under "On Culture" rather than "On Science": http://www.discovery.org/scripts/
viewDB/filesDB-download.php?
command=download&id=660]

Similarly, does Mr Cothran feel that a nation's own war atrocities (Nanking, My Lai, Dresden, etc) ought to be avoided in schools due to "cultural pressure"?

j a h

Anonymous said...

If there are teachers out there who are under pressure to do what is against their principles, then, hey, stand up for what you believe in. It's good for you.
Is it then "good" for biology teachers to refuse to teach evolution because they think it is evil despite the fact they presumably signed contracts to teach science?


j a h

Anonymous said...

"Should advocates of evolution...."

Weird. Are teachers now supposed to be considered 'advocates of gravity' because they teach physics? Or 'advocates of oil changing' because they teach auto mechanics?

This is a great blog site for illustrating how not to think rationally.

Motheral said...

I may be mistaken, but isn't this the kind of observation which, if it were made, for example, by Christians about religious persecution in our society, would elicit charges of whining from blogs like Brayton's?

Not if said "observation" consisted of specific allegations of specific wrongful acts against specific innocent people. Do you have any such specific allegations, preferably supported by evidence from a credible source?

The post in Dispatches that you cited contained LOTS of specific incidents and experiences, all of which you completrely ignore. Since you clearly don't care enough to address those specific incidents, perhaps it is you, not Ed, who should "suck it up...Go home and turn the TV back on, throw in a DVD, pop open a soda, and stop complaining."

Anonymous said...

And Mr. Cothran claims not to be a creationist...

Anonymous said...

Anonymous wrote: "And Mr. Cothran claims not to be a creationist..."

He most likely didn't actually claim that (and would probably argue about meaning of "creationist"). He's pretty good at not stating his position, but merely points out "logical fallacies" some people make. OTOH, if it quacks like a duck, etc.

Maybe he really has reached no conclusion since he did write:
"stand up for what you believe in. It's good for you."

jah

KyCobb said...

Martin,

What is the cost to a preacher thundering from his pulpit that evolution is a false doctrine? What is the potential cost to a science teacher if his administration has warned him not to teach science because the fundies might complain? What is the cost to society when the public school students in whole states don't get a science education because of the theological beliefs of a minority of zealots?