July 9, 2006

"Teach our religious anti-evolution arguments" (aka, "Teach the controversy")

If creationists are anything, they are masters of rhetorical games, manipulating words to mean all sorts of things other than what they actually mean. The dictionary even has a word for this: newspeak.

newspeak (noun)
Deliberately ambiguous and contradictory language used to mislead and manipulate the public.

(From Newspeak, a language invented by George Orwell in the novel 1984.)

(American Heritage Dictionary, 4th Edition)

As each of their tactics to legislate their creationist beliefs into public school science classes gets shot down in court for violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment (i.e., they get caught trying to shove their religious beliefs down kid's throats), they just morph their rhetoric into some new tactic (while also deceitfully pretending they didn't really mean the previous tactics; no, of course not, as they quietly retract their previous material from circulation and as their web pages that advocated the previous tactics mysteriously disappear from the internet and they try to warp the history of what they said and did before into nonexistence; more of an Orwellian 1984 approach than you thought, huh?).

The latest tactic from the Discovery Institute, which is now being echoed by creationists across the various creationist subcultures, is that teachers should "teach the controversy" - which itself just another deceitful false premise from the creationists. In fact, when teaching about evolution - or various other areas of science - teachers do teach about various scientific controversies and arguments (though, granted, at the high school level they certainly don't go into all of them or into a lot of detail about any of them; for example, how many kids even take physics in high school?). What is bogus about this new creationist tactic is that creationists are not referring to teaching about actual scientific controversies and arguments, even while they pretend that that is what they're referring to. What they're really referring to is that they want their long-discredited religious-based anti-evolution arguments taught.

And so the creationist rhetorical games continue, even while the ink on Judge Jones' decision in the trial against the creationists on the Dover, Pennsylvania school board has barely had time to dry. So in the months ahead we shall watch the creationists moan about "democracy" and "fair play" even while they themselves ignore the factual and logical fallacies of their arguments, ignore genuine scientific research, ignore the fact that they've had their day in court (in fact, they've had a number of them), and ignore the fact that the First Amendment is a fundamental part of our democracy.