Friday, June 26, 2009

Knuckle dragging Christians breeding like rabbits

I loved the line from Braveheart when the King of England declares: The problem with Scotland is that there are too many Scots! Edward Longshanks, the King of England, decides that Scotland has just too many Scots. His solution: Breed them out!

I thought of that line from the movie when I read an article in the Associated Press about a visit to the Creation Museum by a group of hostile scientists. This quote from one "scientist", Christine Janis of Brown University (pictured with a koala in her faculty photo), was hilarious and insulting at the same time (emphasis added):

Christine Janis, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Brown University, said most of the arguments addressed at the museum she's heard countless times before. What she found most troubling was the crowd.

More than 750,000 people have visited in two years, and Janis is concerned the Creation Museum's version of human history is the only one they're getting.

"They're out-breeding us, that's for sure," Janis said.

Irony alert! Notice that she is concerned that people are only getting one version of human history. Ummm, that is exactly what happens in public schools and in colleges, people only get one version of human history. Students are fed evolutionary theory as the one and only acceptable theory. You get as balanced a view of human history from the Creation Museum as you do in a secular classroom. The difference is that one is given the patina of "science" and the other dismissed as "religion". What Ms. Janis is really peeved about is that the version they get at the Creation Museum is not her version. How dare people show up at a museum that doesn't meet her approval! Why, don't these people know that in the world of scientific exploration and inquiry there is room for only one horribly flawed theory? Alternate theories must be mocked and squashed, after all the last thing that science needs is a free exchange of ideas. The dogma of evolution is settled fact and you even so much as question it to your peril. Scientists are the open-minded and inquisitive ones, so shut up and believe what we tell you!

Apparently Ms. Janis is concerned that all us ignert young earth types are breeding uncontrollably which is simply not a good thing for "scientists". I guess we are so dumb because we don't mindlessly accept evolutionary dogma that we must not know where babies come from. If you think her glib comment smacks of condescension, you are correct! It is the same sort of mindset that you see from people that refer to parents of large families as "breeders". Her comment was probably intended to be tongue-in-cheek, but it also gives you a glimpse of the way that academics view the rest of the country. These sorts of people are the ones who indoctrinate kids in their classrooms and people like Ms. Janis are precisely why I think it is unwise in the extreme to ship our kids off to secular schools and hope for the best.

To an extent she is right that conservative Christian families tend to have more children than less conservative Christians and atheists. Homeschool families on average have something like double the average family size. So if you depend on people to fund your research and pay for your sabbaticals, you have to be worried about the shrinking population of kids in general and the growing proportion of kids that are raised in Christian homes. Always follow the money! At the rate we are going, perhaps someday people like Ms. Janis who think we are descended from monkeys will be extinct.

(For more on this, check out the blog post here from Answers in Genesis)


Dusty Chris said...

Very funny....especially the word 'ignert' it.

Arthur Sido said...

What is funny about ignert? Isn't that how you spell it?


christine janis said...

Hey, guys, aren't you being a little less than "Christian" in making all these assumptions about me? I just made an observation (about the relative rates of reproduction), that happens to be true! You're the ones who gave it the context.

While I'm certainly an evolutionist, I'm also one of the people who aided Marcus Ross in getting his PhD from URI (and have publicly defended that position). Students in my vertebrate evolution course get to view the creationist vs evolutionist debates on several topics (e.g., the evolution of whales). Of course, I support the evolutionist view, but I encourage students to read the literature seriously and to engage in actual debate (not to just dismiss the creationists as being ignorant). Nobody has to "believe" in evolution to pass my classes, they just have be able to present the arguments.


Arthur Sido said...

Hi Dr. Janis,

Thanks for stopping by!

What is inherently "less than Christian" about making assumptions?

Can someone pass your class if they argue only the creationist position or must they be able to argue the evolutionary position in spite of their personal beliefs?

Christine Janis said...

"What is inherently "less than Christian" about making assumptions?"

Well, I think it's a little uncharitable, at best, to attribute a negative stereotype to somebody you don't know. Someone could read this and get the impression that it was me who'd made the "knuckle-dragging" comment, for example.

"Can someone pass your class if they argue only the creationist position or must they be able to argue the evolutionary position in spite of their personal beliefs?"

The easy answer to this is ---- of course not, I'm teaching a science class. However, I'll take up the challenge a little more seriously.

You know, one thing that interested me about the Creation Museum is that they had a similar approach to the way that I teach myself: there are facts, and then there are the ways that those facts can be interpreted (note that the reporter didn't report that quote!) (Of course we have different interpretations, that goes without saying, but it's the method of inquiry that's important).

So I expect students to be able to separate out these issues (evidence vs inference) in their answers (the questions are in the form of short essays). If someone were to give me the evolutionary interpretation (which they'd have to do first, given that it's a science class), but then use those same facts to argue for a creationist interpretation, then I would judge the answer on how well they used the facts to make the interpretive argument, not on whether I agreed with their interpretation or not.

The issue here is that one doesn't have to agree with someone to have respect for the fact that their views are different. But in a science class, you have to be able to make a good argument (whether evolutionist or creationist --- I don't set easy questions that can be answered by polemics either way!)


Arthur Sido said...

Just to clarify. As a Professor of evolutionary biology, you would accept an answer from a student that rejects the theory of evolution? In other words, without a sample question to work with, an answer that was well reasoned that came to a conclusion outside of evolutionary theory would be an acceptable answer on a test?