Evolution on CNN
The MSNBC segment may not have materialized, but recently Paula Zahn on CNN did a segment on the same subject. The transcript is available here (scroll to the bottom).
Defending the honor of ignorance and knuckle-dragging was Jason Lisle of Answers in Genesis. And representing puppies and sunshine was Eugenie Scott of The National Center for Science Education.
ZAHN: Jason, let's start with you tonight. If you were to teach creationism in a classroom, what would you teach?
JASON LISLE, ANSWERS IN GENESIS: Well, I would show that the scientific evidence, when you understand it, is consistent with what the Bible has to say about creation.
If I had the -- if I had the legal right to talk about the Bible, I would use that. If I didn't, I would at least show that the evidence is consistent with there being a creator with design.
That's Lisle in sanity mode. No religion here maam, just an honest assessment of the evidence. Yawn.
Next we get a taste of what Lisle has in mind when he talks about evidence:
LISLE: For example, we see created kinds -- we see different kinds of organisms in the world and we see them reproducing after their kinds. We don't see one kind of organism turning into other kind of organism. That's not something that we actually observe in nature. And that's something that evolution -- evolutionists say is required.
Zing! Of course, “kind” is a rather slippery word. It has no scientific meaning outside of creationist fantasy land. But it's certainly true that the production of new species via standard evolutionary mechanisms has been observed in nature. Lisle would dismiss that as microevolution, no doubt. But despite their desperate attempt to draw a distinction between micro and macroevolution, no creationist has ever been able to offer a reason why evolutionary change can only accumulate so far, and no farther.
ZAHN: So Eugenie, how would you explain that?
EUGENIE SCOTT, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL CENTER FOR SCIENCE EDUCATION: Well, hearing a creationist define evolution is a little bit like having Madeline Murray O'Hare define Christianity. You're not really going to get the -- the straight story there.
The way evolution is taught at the university level is the way it should be taught at the high school level. And that's really what we're talking about here. It's not between evolution and science.
I'm sure Scott meant “evolution and God” or “evolution and religion” there. I like her point about asking a creationist to define evolution.
ZAHN: What do you mean by that?
SCOTT: At the university level, which is where I used to teach, we teach evolution, biological evolution, as the inference that living things had common ancestors. And we teach it neutrally. We don't teach it that God did it or God had nothing to do with it. We just present the science.
And that's what should be done at the high school level.
Well said. Zahn now decided it was time to lob a softball at Lisle:
ZAHN: Jason, I want to share with you a result from the latest CBS/“New York Times” poll, which show that 65 percent of those people polled were in favor of teaching both creation and evolution in public school classrooms. Do you appreciate these numbers?
LISLE: I do. I think that a lot of people realize that it would be very smart to teach both creation and evolution if that were possible. Because...
How do you like this poll that shows a majority of the people agree with your position? Ugh. One more example for the file on why no one watches CNN anymore. I mean, they've been reduced to hiring Fox's cast-offs for heaven's sake. But not to worry, things are about to get worse.
ZAHN: So you don't have a problem with both being taught side by side?
LISLE: Not at all. In fact I encourage people to actually teach evolution. But teach it warts and all. Show the problems with it, as well, and then show what the creationist interpretation of the evidence is. Because we feel that the creationist interpretation of the evidence makes a lot more sense when you understand it.
This is Zahn's way of making Lisle appear like the open-minded pluralist. I suspect Zahn, like so many people, knows nothing about the scientific issues involved. But she likes things such as “fairness” and “presenting both sides”.
ZAHN: What about the argument Eugenie made that you can teach it in a more neutral way, and I'll let you expand on that in a moment, Eugenie?
SCOTT: Thank you.
LISLE: Well, there's no neutral ground, is there? I mean, you're ultimately either for what God has said as word or against it. And that's what the real issue is here.
Oops. Lisle just let the mask slip a bit. He let his fundamentalism come out. Either you accept chapter one of Genesis as the literal truth or you might as well be an atheist. He even identifies that as the real issue. So much for this being a debate between rival scientific theories.
SCOTT: No, we're treating this as if there are two alternatives, evolution, and the institute, or the answers in Genesis' version of creation.
But you know, his version of creation, which is everything was created all at one time in six days, 10,000 years ago, is not what Catholics believe. It's not what Episcopalians believe, and it's certainly not what Hopi believe or what Navajo believes. So you can't say teach both, because there's more than two alternatives.
Now my view, the view that the National Center for Science Education takes, is that we should know more about a lot of creationisms, plural. But it has no place in science class. I think comparative religion is a wonderful study, and we should be more theologically literate than we are. But keep it out of science class, because it is not scientifically demonstrable.
Well said, again.
ZAHN: So Jason, would you support the idea of moving that into a religion class?
LISLE: I have no problem with creation, evolution being taught in a religion class, as well. But it would be nice if the scientific aspects of the creation models, just the idea that there is an intelligent creator, would be brought up in a science classroom.
There's scientific evidence supporting that position. I mean, is the evolution model so weak that its adherents feel the need to suppress any alternatives?
After the brief slip of the previous quote, he's got the mask adjusted and he's back to the talking points. The picture of scientists on different sides of an issue presenting their cases for adjudication to a group of high school students is too amusing to contemplate. Needless to say, the creationists are left out of science classes because they haven't the faintest idea what they are talking about.
SCOTT: I don't think it's a matter of...
ZAHN: Eugenie, there's a lot of, you know, strong words that are used when it comes to this debate that creationism is actually being censored out of the curriculum.
SCOTT: Of course. It's being censored out of the science curriculum, because, contrary to the claims that have just been made, there are no scientific data supporting it.
Look, the fact of the matter is that science is not a fair process. I mean, it's not a democratic system. The creationists have the same right that I have to make their position to the scientific community and convince them that there is evidence supporting the idea that everything was created all at one time. The problem is, there are no data. They haven't made the case. But what they want to do is make an end-run around the scientific community and go directly to the school district, as opposed to the normal process of having these ideas filter down from the scientific community.
You know, the thing is, scientists and teachers aren't trying to get creationism into this -- into the curriculum. It's the politicians. And what this has done is politicize science education in a very negative fashion.
Small bone to pick with Scott here. The phrase “haven't made the case” is too weak. It's what you say to a prosecuter when you think the suspect probably is guilty but the evidence isn't quite strong enough to convict. The real problem is that every scientific assertion the creationists make is demonstrably false.
I like the rest of this quote. I suspect, however, that it came off as elitist to the handful of people watching this segment. How dare professional biologists tell me which theories have merit and which don't! Who do they think they are? Who needs book learning when you've got horse sense?
ZAHN: Well, Jason's a scientist. He's trying to get it into the curriculum.
LISLE: Yes, and you know, real science, real science thrives on competing models.
Sorry, having a PhD doesn't make you a scientist. But thank you once again, Ms. Zahn, for helping out the creationist.
SCOTT: That's right.
LISLE: A real scientist...
SCOTT: Make your argument to the scientific community.
LISLE: A real scientist would not squelch the evidence.
SCOTT: Don't make it to a -- don't make it to a high school teacher.
LISLE: But see, I find it interesting that evolutionists would try to use political pressure to suppress certain ideas. For example Russ Humphries, he's a Ph.D. nuclear physicist, and he has a model of how magnetic fields work. It's based on their being created 6,000 years ago. And he's able to actually predict the magnetic fields of the planets Uranus and Neptune based on creation.
And yet, most students will never hear about that, because we're not allowed.
More taunting from Lisle. Good job by Scott to stay on message. If this were a real scientific dispute it wouldn't be hashed out in high school science classes.
As for Mr. Humphries, this is just another worthless talking point. I'm not familiar with Humphries' model, but I suspect if I look into the matter I'll find it doesn't hold water. You can count on one hand the number of CNN viewers who have ever heard of Humphries, but I'll bet a lot of them were impressed by how scientific Lisle sounded.
SCOTT: And there's -- and there's a very good reason for that.
ZAHN: All right, Eugenie, you get the last word tonight in the debate. The very good reason for that is what, Eugenie?
SCOTT: The very good reason for that is that he has to fool around with some constants that completely violate the laws of physics, which is why these arguments are not made in the scientific literature. They're made -- they're made politically at the local school board. And that's not the place for them.
Another good response from Scott.
That was the end of the segment.