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High School Biology Teacher Fired

Veering From Evolution

Kris Helphinstine

Fired teacher explains his presentation
By Christopher Stollar / The Bulletin
Published: March 25. 2007 5:00AM PST

On Wednesday, March 14, eight days into a new job teaching biology at Sisters High School, Kris Helphinstine showed a class of freshman and sophomore students pictures of naked corpses, a Nazi swastika and Charles Darwin in a PowerPoint presentation.

“What do these pictures have in common?” the 27-year-old part-time teacher asked the 30 students.

They listened as Helphinstine gave a roughly hourlong presentation, explaining how the Third Reich perverted evolution and eugenics to slaughter Jews and Gypsies in death camps to protect the “superior race.”

Read the rest of the article at the link above.

Watch the KTVZ NewsChannel 21 interview of Kris here. Listen to him say he blacked out all biblical references in the supplementary material he handed out.

Read the supplement with “biblical references” Kris handed out and try to find any biblical or religious references! HT to UD member Janice for locating a copy of the supplement.

Read the response from Answers In Genesis here.

See the powerpoint Eugenics slideshow here or view it as a pdf here if you can’t view ppt slides.

Eugenics Deniers are coming out of the woodwork.

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50 Responses to High School Biology Teacher Fired

  1. It is perhaps an error to infer that eugenics is a necessary implication to Darwinism.

  2. Here’s a link to critical reviews of the science text “Biology: The Dynamics of Life”. According to the original article, this is the textbook Helphinstine was required to use for his biology classes.

    http://www.strengthsandweaknes.....eviews.htm

  3. What is wrong with the presentation? It is 100% historically accurate.

    Apparently “jerry” doesn’t like it. I guess “jerry” is all in favor of repressing truth in order to protect his fragile world view.

  4. jaredl,

    You said, “It is perhaps an error to infer that eugenics is a necessary implication to Darwinism.

    Charles Darwin would not agree with you. His son, Leonard Darwin made the following dedication in his book “The Need for Eugenic Reform”

    “Dedicated to the memory of my father. [Charles Darwin] For if I had not believed that he would have wished me to give such help as I could toward making his life’s work of service to mankind, I should never have been led to write this book. ”

    Charles Darwin’s own writings in Chapter V of Descent of Man and his favorable citations to Francis Galton, founder of the eugenics movement, make it pretty clear where he stood on the issue.

  5. Some people make statements without knowing anything about what they are saying.

    What is my “fragile world view?” Let me know what it is so I too can be enlightened.

    In case you did not read all that this guy did, he distributed creationist literature. I thought the presentation was a little over the top for 10th graders but the literature he distributed would be a cause for immediate firing.

    Why wouldn’t anyone here fire a guy for distributing creationist literature in the classroom? I didn’t get the impression this was a religious school. If it is, then, then the school authorities have a right to approve such things.

  6. jerry,

    I am glad you are aware the presentation was 100% accurate. Nothing in the article says that he distributed religious material.

    If you are so intimidated by opposing view points that would fire a teacher for raising objections to evolution, I think your word view is pretty obvious. I could be wrong but does it really matter?

  7. Based on the article, it seems like the teacher was trying to inject philosophy into science class. Frankly, given the political climate, referencing answersingenesis is kind of asking for trouble.

    On on a somewhat related note, I think trying to undermine a scientific argument by its implications (potential or actual) is not a good idea. If Neo-darwinism is true, its true whether or not eugenics is a consequence. If its false, its false. Personally I’m very much on the pro-ID side, but that’s because it makes more sense to me rationally, not because of any philosophical implications.

  8. Jehu,

    Have you read anything I have posted? If you do so then see what you think my world view is. But I will give you a hint.

    I believe in God and I am anti-Darwinism and I am also anti-YEC. At the moment I think Darwinism is the bigger threat but I believe YEC is equally dogmatic if not more so but not a threat to the morality of the country. But I oppose both and view YEC as an impediment to getting rid of Darwinism because its views on science are seen as ludicrous to most scientists and educators and are driven by ideology just as the Darwinists views are. I see little difference in how each group comes to its understanding of the world. Both are driven by pre-determined conclusions.

    So interpret all that I say in those terms. So when I see a teacher handing out creationist literature in a public school however the material is disguised, I would fire the guy in a nano-second just as I would like to fire teachers who don’t indicate the flaws in Darwinism.

    I never commented on the presentation other than I thought the graphic presentation was a bit much for 10th graders. As dl says Neo-Darwinism should be judged on its merits not how some zealots take it to the extreme.

    By the way I have written much about Neo-Darwinism here so my views are open on that issue.

  9. I wonder if eugenics is a topic on any 10th grade science curriculum anywhere in the nation. I suspect not.

  10. Jerry

    The article clearly states:

    Helphinstine deleted whole passages of the essay and blacked out all religious references in the copy he gave his students because he wanted to focus on Ham’s scientific conclusion.

    He didn’t distribute “creationist literature” as you accused. His sole action in that regard was leaving the internet address of Answers In Genesis in the redacted essay. It’s expected that you give credit to the original source when copying copyrighted content under academic free use so I don’t see how he could have avoided citing the source.

    You’re back on moderation so your comments can be reviewed for accuracy before being posted. In the future I suggest you exercise a little more due diligence before accusing someone.

  11. Ideas have consequences.

    Ideas on human origins have tremendous impact on society and titanic consequences on human life when put into practice. Origins theories always come with moral implications with regards to human life.

    dl says, If “Neo-darwinism is true, its true whether or not eugenics is a consequence.” Indeed.

    However, Any idea that is true does not and cannot contradict any other true idea. One of the basic truths of logic – in every field.

    But if our innate idea of the value of human life is true, then we have a contradiction between 2 ideas.

    Eugenics intrinsically contradicts the value of human life.

    Therefore if Darwinism is true and if eugenics is a logical consequence of Darwinism (it is) then our idea on the value of life is wrong.

    see also – again : Darwin and the value of life

    Thus, under this scheme, any idea on human origins that implies eugenics, however brutally applied, is also not wrong.

    Therefore, if Darwinism is true, human life isn’t worth much more than the lives of lab rats.

    And the standard bio text books imply as much when they say things like, “You are an animal, and share a common heritage with earthworms …” Biology, Visualizing Life, Johnson, Holt Rinehart Winston, 1994, p. 453.

    To answer a possible objection:
    The principle, in logic, that says that one cannot appeal to the consequences of an argument to prove the argument true or false, is only a half-truth.

    Wherever a proposition comes with moral implications, the principle of not appealing to consequences is not valid. Thus any proposition that makes “raping children” for ex., morally right must be necessarily be wrong.

    Why? Because there is a true moral law that says “raping children is wrong” – always – no exceptions.

    Therefore any proposition that implies the opposite contradicts a known, established truth and therefore must be wrong.

    Apply this logic to neo-Darwinism and you will see that it’s moral consequences imply that it contradicts well known, established truths and therefore must be wrong somewhere.

    The only escape paths are:
    1. to say that theistic evolution is true. That somehow God is behind macro-evolution and therefore human life does have real, true value, beyond that of mere primates and beyond biased human assessments.

    2. that morality itself is purely subjective and that raping children is only “relatively” wrong depending on what societies legislators have eaten for breakfast or whatever.

    Those 2 ways have tons of consequential problems themselves – which are out of scope here.

    So, either the standard “no god needed” Darwinism is wrong or our evaluation on the value of living things, including ourselves, is wrong.

    Take yer pick. But remember, when an idea entails serious moral consequences, then appeal to consequence becomes, not only valid, but necessary.

    Therefore materialist Darwinism sucks and carries no validity.

  12. “In the 2003 essay about poodles, Ham argued that poodles are the result of a downward process. They did not just develop from dog genes, but from cursed copies of dog genes.” -article

    I’d like to see the blackened-out copy. If the above is the premise of Ham’s article, it is difficult to understand how one could dissociate the scientific ideas from the religious in this case, and have the essay still remain a coherent argument for a scientific conclusion. The extent that it was blackened out is paramount. If one simply strikes all instances of the words “Darwin” or “evolution” out of a Dawkins essay–even remove entire paragraphs–it nevertheless remains evolutionary literature. It’s difficult to imagine how much would need to be extracted for it to not be. My guess would be that you’d need to blacken out text until it is rendered unintelligible. I would think the same would apply to creationist literature.

  13. dl, “it seems like the teacher was trying to inject philosophy into science class.”

    That’s how I see it as well. Further, he was trying to emply “shock value”. I really question whether such tactics are wise when the audience has not reached the age of majority, where the audience is still legally, well, children.

    dl, “I think trying to undermine a scientific argument by its implications (potential or actual) is not a good idea. If Neo-darwinism is true, its true whether or not eugenics is a consequence. If its false, its false.”

    I wholeheartedly agree!

  14. Exactly! The loathsome implications of Darwinism would make me want to refute it, and once the falsity of the faith is demonstrated logically and empirically then bringing up its devastating implications is important. We tolerate all kinds of myths—urban legends, chupacabras, astrology—but when they have caused as much murder and mayhem as Darwinism then it’s time to speak up.

    And why should an elitist myth be forced on us at taxpayer expense? and myth-deniers be so mercilessly opposed? Maybe because it’s an elitist myth and it takes a child or one outside the power circle to see that “the emperor has no clothes”?

  15. “Therefore if Darwinism is true and if eugenics is a logical consequence of Darwinism (it is) then our idea on the value of life is wrong.” –Borne

    To say that eugenics was/is a logical consequence of Darwinism–in the strong and binding sense that I take Borne to be suggesting that it is–would appear to necessitate deriving an “ought” from an “is.” That is, we *ought* to initiate a human breeding program that would somehow recapitulate or enhance natural selection. This would, in Borne’s logic, appear to be mandated because such a process *is* what we believe to generate populations of superior specimens in nature. The state of the empirical world, in this case, generates our moral mandates.

    Since the enlightenment, scarce few thinkers have considered it rational or proper to extract moral imperatives from the empirical state of the world. This was one of the decisive arguments *against* social darwinist policies and eugenics. Thus to say Darwinism logically compels one towards a moral view where eugenics is required would entail one *conceding* the notion that you can move, logically, from an “is” to an “ought.” And I would think long and hard before I embraced that particular transformation because it has some far-reaching and rather unpleasant implications.

    Now there is a weaker sense in which Darwinism “leads” to eugenics. In this sense, the concepts of Darwinism allows one to conceive and *entertain* the notion of eugenics. I believe it is this weaker sense that applies here. And sense we are not *compelled* by darwinism towards eugenics, there is no *necessary* contradiction between accepting darwinism along with the values Borne spoke of.

    But under this weaker sense of “darwinism leads to eugenics,” the connection between Darwin and eugenics really has no bearing on the truth of falsehood of evolution.

  16. Great Ape: “Since the enlightenment, scarce few thinkers have considered it rational or proper to extract moral imperatives from the empirical state of the world.” I can’t believe you said that! Everywhere you turn it’s there—bioethics, evolutionary psychology, the mandate to celebrate sodomy with special rights—everywhere the supposed “is” of materialism (of rats and bonobos and everything else) is being pushed to remake our world as the materialist thinks it “ought” to be.

    “…the connection between Darwin and eugenics really has no bearing on the truth of falsehood of evolution [I think you mean Darwinism].” Maybe not, but put the other way around, if Darwin was right then we have no basis for ethics.

  17. Personally I don’t think that origins determine the validity of morality. Of course that’s just my personal opinion, but I suspect its an opinion that a lot of people have. If somebody could prove to me today that the Neo-Darwinian view of life is correct, they couldn’t prove to me that eugenics or rape or whatever is morally acceptable. I think ethics and morals transcend the issue, although certainly either side can use the issue as leverage to promote an agenda.

    I also don’t think that showing the worst potential implication of a belief is the way to prove that the belief is wrong. Doing that requires accepting anything good derived from that belief as evidence to support it. People can find good or bad on either side of the issue.

    From what I’ve seen, the scientific evidence supporting ID is overwhelming. It’s going to eventually win on its merits. Criticizing the implications of the other side (I think) makes us look like we can’t back up our claims with facts so we resort to philosophical battles.

  18. SteveB

    I wonder if eugenics is a topic on any 10th grade science curriculum anywhere in the nation. I suspect not.

    You suspect wrong. Lots of them do.

    Interestingly, knowledge of eugenics was a specific standard to be met in the 2005 and 2006 Kansas Science Education Standards (page 103) but was removed in 2007. Since the 2007 standards were approved just last month I presume the 2006 standard is still being taught. I guess the evilutionists who took over the majority of the Kansas BoE this year want to hide the evils of science. No surprise there.

  19. “everywhere you turn it’s there…is being pushed to remake our world as the materialist thinks it “ought” to be.” –Rude

    I’m speaking in terms of how philosophers have considered the issue, not necessarily about political pundits have. If people make such arguments–and I’m certain they do–and base them on “nature” as such, then they are subject to the same is/ought criticism. That’s not to say it automatically refutes them, but it does mean they must take on all the baggage that that sort of reasoning entails.

    “Maybe not, but put the other way around, if Darwin was right then we have no basis for ethics.” –Rude

    Then what would you say to a theistic evolutionist? Or a utilitarian? Or a Roman Catholic, for that matter? There are a number of contemporary moral systems and belief systems that are not inherently opposed to Darwinism.

  20. Frankly, given the political climate, referencing answersingenesis is kind of asking for trouble.

    Let’s say hypothetically he were teaching creationism in a Christian school. Such a presentation would be irresponsible, imho. And I certainly wouldn’t want kids going to the AiG website even in such a context.

    Even though I consider myself friendly to the creationist position, I generally don’t think highly of referring kids to AiG’s website. AiG is not a good role model for creationist children…..

    [www.creationscience.com is a better website]

    The eugenics/genocide argument should be used judiciously. What if, to be fair, I started pointing out the practice of the ancient Israelites who practiced not only eugenics but outright genocide in the land of Caanan? One could argue his presentation was not fair in that he insinuates eugenics/genocide was tied to Darwinism exclusively.

    I gave a presentation at McLean Bible Church on YEC last week. I didn’t use AiG materials, and I didn’t use the Darwinism Nazi connection.

    Even if there is a Darin/Nazi connection (which I believe there is), it’s a double-edged sword for the very reason genocide is abudantly promoted in the Old Testament.

    It may be that Darwinist parents want to have Darwinist untruth fed to their children. They have that right. There is the issue however of the pro-ID parents who want truth given to their children in public schools. There are probably better ways of handling this issue than the he handled it.

  21. 12, great_ape

    You can find the abridged copy of Ham’s article (the one that was handed out in class) here.

    The unabridged article can be found here.

    Your quote about “cursed copies of dog genes” had me going for a while because it could be read as saying that, say, some special curse was put on some special dog or group of dogs. But that’s the sort of thing that can happen when a quote is supplied out of context. Ham is just talking about the Fall and its consequences.

  22. And while I’m here, if you think eugenics is not a topic for teenagers what do you think about the idea that three-year olds should be taught about homosexuality and that there is nothing wrong with same sex relationships?

  23. Scordova,

    At the risk of posting a “me too!” comment …

    I was thinking about the Old Testament events in my previous post. It’s not easy (although not necessarily impossible) to defend that kind of thing. The problem is that those kinds of debates almost always lead to an appeal to emotion. That isn’t necessarily wrong, and it may produce a “win” in the short-term, but the rational arguments are generally better in the long-term.

    I’m not attacking or defending either the OT events or eugenics or any of the other activities that are (however tentatively) justified by a particular belief. The point is that in debates like Neo-Darwinism vs. ID, facts are more relevant.

  24. janice, thanks for the links.

    “Ham is just talking about the Fall and its consequences.” –Janice

    I suspected so as well, and this is precisely why I thought it would be difficult to remove the religious aspect of his thesis without rendering it nonsensical. Reading the actual abridged article, however, it wasn’t as theological as I had imagined it to be. In my opinion it’s still problematic for other reasons and of little educational value. The grafting on of a few concept questions at the end of the text did nothing to redeem it.

  25. Sal

    The ancient Israelites weren’t active in the 20th century United States. There are many millions of people in the U.S. who are still alive and can remember the eugenics movement while it was still popular science. Many eugenics inspired laws such as forced sterilization of mental patients and prohibition against miscegenation were upheld by the USSC until as late as 1967. Something that still resides in living memory is a lot more relevant than things which happened centuries or millenia in the past.

  26. great ape

    The scientific value of the supplement is matter of opinion. There sure aren’t religious references in it other than the phrase “cursed copies of dog genes” and that’s pretty tenuous. From the list of genetic disorders it sure appears they are cursed and as far as the article elaborates one might reasonably presume poodle breeders did the cursing. Why don’t you be so kind as to elaborate on just what’s so bad about it instead of unqualified pooh-poohing. Be specific if you please by providing quotes from it and why it’s wrong or not scientific.

  27. DaveScot,

    I agree Darwinism is the cause of many truly bad things including eugenics and genocide in the 20th century which you describe. I certainly don’t approve of Darwinism getting the free pass it does in public schools. And I can understand your feelings on the matter.

    But even as a creationist, I personally don’t think I’d want Kris Helphinstine or his style of doing business on my team. There are possibly wiser avenues of handling the situation he was in. I say that as someone who has actively defended ID and creation science and someone who would welcome teaching the controversy in public schools.

    In Virginia where Darwinists run much of the public curriculum, tens if not hundreds of of thousands of creationists kids in public schools are getting pro-ID and creationist materials in a perfecly legal manner.

    Paul Gross gives his home state of Virginia an “A” in science education [including Darwinism], yet by-and-large, Virginia has many creationists. But there are lots of perfectly legal avenues which won’t get teachers fired, nor raise the ire of Darwinist parents.

    Here in Virginia, some students are legally getting access to Unlocking the Mystery of Life and Privileged Planet and all the pro-ID and/or creationist material they want. It’s legal and off the radar screen of Darwinist parents.

  28. Great Ape: “Then what would you say to a theistic evolutionist? Or a utilitarian? Or a Roman Catholic, for that matter? There are a number of contemporary moral systems and belief systems that are not inherently opposed to Darwinism.” Sincere folks all, no doubt, but in my opinion utterly deluded. A theistic-Darwinist? Oxymoron if there ever was one.

    As for Ken Ham—I’m ignorant of him—if he’s a YEC then I’m not into that.

    As for Israel and genocide—count me with Dave Scott: “The ancient Israelites weren’t active in the 20th century United States.” Is Scripture merely a fable (as the minimalists maximally insist)? Or is the Torah a fabricated justification for a politicized post-exilic priesthood (as the documentarians would have it)? Well, to the believer it was God who issued the sentence on seven nations of Canaan: Get out of my land or face extinction! This has always been a hard one for Judeo-Christians and, as far as I know, no historic instance of genocide has ever been inspired by the Torah—which is more than we can say for Darwin.

    But if true—if God actually gave the command at this very time of year some three and a half millennia ago—and this is not the garbled excuse of some ancient warring tribe—then this is a far cry from the Darwin inspired genocides of the 20th century.

  29. Sal

    Try sticking to what Helphinstine actually taught in class. He taught no creationism. If teaching science that was written by a creationist is verboten then we better start throwing out all the biology texts written by Ken Miller as he’s card carrying Catholic theistic evolutionist. In fact the school board is really lucky they didn’t mention Ken Ham because they’d be guilty of religious discrimination if that was a given factor in their action. They can legally prohibit materials that talk about biblical creation but they can’t prohibit creation-free material just because it was written by a well known creationist.

  30. DaveScot,

    For me the issue was not whether what he taught was legal, but whether his business decision was wise and whether he’s helping the cause he is trying to defend.

    I don’t view the Darwinists in control of our schools as my friends. They are the enemy of truth as far as I’m concerned.

    I don’t view the way Darwinists do business in the public schools as ethical nor legal. In fact much of what they do is illegal. But who are we going to appeal to for justice? The federal judiciary?

    But some methods of dealing with the enemy are more effective than others.

    I take issue with creationists hurting the cause I cherish. I put Helpheinstine in almost the same league as the bonehead creationists in Dover Pennsylvania. I give him an “F” in public relations and politcal savvy and ability to wage warfare without imperilling the work of his comrades.

    There may be a full blown legal route which can succeed if it can get politcal backing. See: Did Judge Jones actually open the door to teaching ID in public schools?

    Sal

  31. So what you’re saying, Sal, is that we should be “wise as serpents and harmless as doves”?

  32. Sal

    Are you saying Helphinstine is a YEC and if so do you have any evidence to support it? The article I linked to has this to say:

    Helphinstine refused to answer questions about his own worldview, whether he is a Christian or what he specifically thinks about creationism and evolution.

  33. “Why don’t you be so kind as to elaborate on just what’s so bad about it instead of unqualified pooh-poohing. Be specific if you please by providing quotes from it and why it’s wrong or not scientific.” –ds

    I will attempt to qualify my pooh-poohing a bit. I take issue with several of Ham’s points. I wasn’t going to be specific so as to avoid stumbling over well-worn territory, but if you insist, here are a few of my issues and why they bother me in the context of a biology class at this level. I stick to the abridged text, as this is what the students actually were presented as far as I understand:

    1. “[Some scientists] point out, though, that even if new species of organisms result from natural
    selection, no new genetic information is involved—”

    While it is true that there certainly exists more than one scientist that has made this claim, this opinion is very far removed from the mainstream position in the natural sciences that its presentation in a science class (at that level) is not appropriate and not consistent with normal educational practices. At this level students are learning the basics. Even if some of it is dogma to ultimately be overturned, one must first understand the dogma before it can be effectively questioned.

    2. “As each succeeding generation of creatures (including man) was produced, copying mistakes and mutations affected the genes. [Now] there is quite a genetic load (collection of such mistakes) in
    the genomes of lal the animals and humans on this earth.”

    Note particularly the statement “[Now] there is quite a genetic load…”
    Yes, I agree that mutations affect the gene pool. Yes they can reduce fitness. But the clear implication here is that there is deterioration from some pristine original template. There is no scientific evidence to indicate there ever was such a pristine canonical template. Even at the time of the human-chimp split, for example, at the presumed inception of humans, genomes were still riddled with genetic flaws (relative to best fitness). For example, the ApoE4 allele, which significantly increases Alzheimers risk, is the ancestral chimp allele. This is what we brought from the table when we parted ways with our furry cousins; the protective variants only show up among humans more recently. Teaching the notion of a pristine template for a biological “kind” is again far removed from scientific consensus and not appropriate at this grade level.

    3.”[Many people] use natural selection/speciation
    as a major part of the supposed evidence for [the
    General Theory of Evolution].”

    The above just makes no sense. Natural selection and speciation *are* evolution, they are not used as “evidence [for the General Theory of Evolution.”

    4. “However, as we’ve
    shown so many times, such changes have nothing to
    do with this sort of evolution.”

    I’m going to assume that “such changes” refer to the type of degenerative mutations associated with generating the various doggy-forms. That’s a generous reading b/c what’s literally there makes as little logical sense as #3 above. Anyway, the mainstream scientific position is that such changes *do* have everything to do with the types of changes that produce new species. That’s it’s a matter of degree and not kind. And “we’ve shown many times…” is misleading. This sounds like empirical proof or evidence of the claim has been provided and accepted. Who are “we” and just how has it been shown? How are these students supposed to interpret these statements? Are they supposed to “learn them” and take them at face value, accepting that such proof has been demonstrated? Are they reading the work of a scientist referring to known scientific experiments?

    Anyhow, I’d have to question the educational skills of anyone who hacked up a piece of writing that much and expected anyone to learn anything worthwhile from it.

  34. Are you saying Helphinstine is a YEC and if so do you have any evidence to support it?

    I presumed he was, and I must concede that the only evidence I have is circumstantial, not a direct. You are correct in pointing out my oversight.

    I still do not think he’s help the ID nor the creationist cause.

    If your issue was the unethical and possibly illegal behavior of the Darwinists in control of the public schools, then you have no argument from me…..

    Sal

  35. great ape

    Probably needless to say I disagree with your problem points.

    1. “[Some scientists] point out, though, that even if new species of organisms result from natural
    selection, no new genetic information is involved—”

    This is a true statement. It only takes one scientist to be right. Science isn’t about “mainstream” (consensus). Science isn’t a democratic process and the fact of the matter is no one knows if new genetic information is required or not in a general case for speciation. I suggest reading geneticist Guiseppe Sermonti’s Why Is a Fly Not a Horse.

    2. “As each succeeding generation of creatures (including man) was produced, copying mistakes and mutations affected the genes. [Now] there is quite a genetic load (collection of such mistakes) in the genomes of lal the animals and humans on this earth.”

    This is also quite true. 99.9% of all species with obligatory sexual reproduction are extinct and they spawned no successor species. The accumulation of deleterious mutations is as good a reason as any why virtually all of them die off. Let’s be clear you are inferring a pristine template from this. The implication is made by the facts. The author didn’t make up the facts. I don’t blame you for making the inferral as the facts certainly do raise a difficult question for Darwinian dogmatism to answer. What makes virtually all species go extinct after an average of 10 million years?

    3.”[Many people] use natural selection/speciation as a major part of the supposed evidence for [the General Theory of Evolution].”

    The above just makes no sense. Natural selection and speciation *are* evolution, they are not used as “evidence [for the General Theory of Evolution.”

    Evolution in general is descent with modification. Natural selection and speciation are mechanisms. Biological speciation is a mechanism that separates populations so that divergence can continue without possibility of remixing. No one has observed either of them producing any major phylogenetic change. It’s all inferral and extrapolation that these are actually the mechanisms responsible for turning bacteria into bonobos.

    4. “However, as we’ve
    shown so many times, such changes have nothing to
    do with this sort of evolution.”

    The sort of evolution I read as macroevolution and I think it has been amply demonstrated that natural selection, if nothing else, is quite efficient at conserving the status quo by killing those who wander too far off the reservation and this is well demonstrated. Again, I suggest Sermonti for a reference on that.

  36. Sal

    I still do not think he’s help the ID nor the creationist cause.

    I wasn’t aware he was trying to help anyone’s cause. He said he just wanted to encourage kids to think for themselves and consider other points of view (poodle article).

    On the eugenics slideshow it probably helps to understand his master’s in science thesis at Oregon State University was about eugenics.

    And this brings us to the real reason he was fired. He connected Planned Parenthood and Charles Darwin with eugenics. He shat upon some humungous liberal sacred cows. No one wants to admit it. The press (20,000+ Google hits on Kris) is all on about him handing out creationist materials when in fact he did no such thing. His master’s thesis in science at Oregon State was on eugenics, he knows WTF he is talking about when it comes to eugenics, and he connected Planned Parenthood and Margaret Sanger with eugenics. THAT can’t be tolerated. It also can’t be denied.

  37. great_ape: “To say that eugenics was/is a logical consequence of Darwinism–in the strong and binding sense… it is–would appear to necessitate deriving an “ought” from an “is.” That is, we *ought* to initiate … natural selection.”

    The “ought” is not there. It doesn’t need to be.

    If eugenics is a logical consequence of Darwinism that is sufficient, not to bring in an “ought” but to make a “do it” justifiable and non culpable.

    “But under this weaker sense … really has no bearing on the truth of falsehood of evolution.”

    I disagree, and that very point is what I tried to demonstrate. There is automatically, whether we like it or not, a direct link between a theory that affects moral values and the truth of that theory.

    No contradictions between truths can exist. Rule #1 of logic.

    Eugenics contradicts the value of human life. Therefore it is wrong and therefore the base proposition that stemmed eugenics (in this case Darwinism) is also wrong.

    dl: “Personally I don’t think that origins determine the validity of morality. ”
    Not the validity of morality itself, but certain of morals. One side clearly implies that human life has no real fundamental value, and the other implies it does. The moral implications are clear.

    So yes ones “origins of life” view makes a huge difference unless they are blind to the consequences of the belief or they live on borrowed morals – like most atheists/Darwinists.

    “If somebody could prove to me … they couldn’t prove to me … is morally acceptable.”

    1st – It is inherently impossible to prove a non truth to be true.

    It may look proven but a fatal flaw always is lurking in the “proof”.

    Most modern Darwinists don’t think rape or eugenics are acceptable morally. That’s because they don’t think through their theory to it’s inevitable conclusions – some do though.

    “I think ethics and morals transcend the issue,…” Wrong. The issue is a moral one from the start. As soon as you imply low value on life you’ve already made a moral judgment. You ought to read Provine, Dawkins and cie. on this – they’re quite clear that :
    “Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent.” ~ William Provine

    Darwinist books recently published – like Thornhill’s “A Natural History of Rape: Biological Bases of Sexual Coercion” – intrinsically imply that rape is not morally wrong – no matter how much they pretend it isn’t so.

    Anything that implies that a biological basis is the underlying cause of a moral action also necessarily implies that accountability for that action, in that case, is non existent.

    That is a principle of moral Law – always.

    “I also don’t think that showing the worst potential implication of a belief is the way to prove that the belief is wrong.”

    Sure, there are better ways. But we’re talking eugenics so…

    “Doing that requires accepting anything good derived from that belief as evidence to support it. …”

    What good has Darwinism ever done in the world? Not one iota. It is a useless idea for anything good.

    But as history tells us so clearly, it is a very potent idea for tyrants like Hitler, Stalin, Mao etc. who slaughtered millions of people without batting an eye because they believed humans are “mere animals sharing a common heritage…”, with no soul, no ultimate accountability, no afterlife and no more intrinsic value than a smart dog – all based on atheistic Darwinism.

    This is irrefutable – much to Dawkins dismay. Atheistic Darwinists have massacred more people than all of the wars of the past century put together.

    Suggest you look up the numbers HERE

  38. To get back on the main topic – the obsequious a**h**es that fired that teacher ought themselves to be fired.

    High school students are hardly ignorant of brutality, sex and drug abuse. Like as if they don’t have full access to this stuff and far worse on the web every day.

    If they’re old enough to be told about abortion, condoms, sodomy etc. and to play highly violent video games they’re certainly old enough for a history lesson on the connection between Darwinism & eugenics etc.

  39. davescot,

    I only take real issue with one of your points; the rest can be chalked up to less important differences of opinion.

    “It only takes one scientist to be right. Science isn’t about “mainstream” (consensus). Science isn’t a democratic process and the fact of the matter is no one knows if new genetic information is required or not in a general case for speciation.” –ds

    As for the very last part of this statement, I can accept that no one knows for certain if new genetic information is required for speciation. But concerning science and the democratic process, I have to disagree, particularly regarding science education. While I’m think that truth and reality are not in themselves subject to democracy, I contend that many aspects of science and how its conducted are democratic in nature. Funding, review of grants, tenure decisions. These are all premised on the notion that the opinion of several informed persons is more likely to reflect the truth than the opinion fewer. We rely heavily on this principle, particularly when we decide what to teach children as well as when we make policy decisions. I’m sure I could go out and find a number of people who believe that new age crystal theory is sound science and should be taught, but would you want this taught in physics class? Yet who gets to decide what *is* “proper science”? This is one of the places where the democratic tendencies of science and science education comes in. We go with what most university professors in the relevant subjects believe to be the case. The group may well be wrong, but odds are that, in the long run, they will be correct more often than would a single individual or a smaller group of such individuals. This is not a fool-proof system, by any means, but I don’t see much hope of a better one. One of the consequences of this system, however, is that there are only certain levels and venues where intellectual revolution can effectively occur. High school is not one of them.

  40. “If eugenics is a logical consequence of Darwinism that is sufficient, not to bring in an “ought” but to make a “do it” justifiable and non culpable.” –Borne

    “justifiable” and “ought” are closely related concepts. “non culpable” speaks to the presence or absence of an ought for the particular action in question. How does one move from “evolution makes one think of eugenics” to “evolution makes eugenics morally acceptable”?.

    Is what you’re arguing not tantamount to saying, “my biological (or sinful) nature leads (or tempts) me to seek my own self-interests, therefore I am justified or at least “non culpable” in pursuing my self-interest in any situation? Personally, I have problems with this line of reasoning.

  41. but concerning science and the democratic process, I have to disagree, particularly regarding science education . . .

    GA, if our science education was truly “democratic” we wouldn’t be having half these arguments. The reality is our “science education” is determined largely by judges not subject to the will of the people.

  42. borne

    Eugenics contradicts the value of human life.

    This is not true of the milder forms where sterilization is employed rather than killing. It actually cherishes the value of human life and seeks to improve it for future generations. One cannot justifiably say it wouldn’t be an exceedingly good and kind thing if genetic disorders and various human frailties with genetic origins were eliminated from the human condition. How wonderful if everyone could be whole, healthy, fit, and long lived.

    What eugenics does not do is respect the individual liberty of freedom to reproduce. It can respect life but in order to work it cannot respect all individual freedom.

    The science is certainly sound, the goal is desirable, but the means are a problem in a society that places high value on individual freedom. Then there’s one last thorny problem – who decides between the fit and unfit? Discriminating between the fit and unfit would seem to be the mother of all slippery slopes.

  43. great ape

    Funding, review of grants, tenure decisions.

    That isn’t science. It’s politics and economics associated with science.

    Science isn’t done by taking polls to see if a majority agrees with anything in particular. The whole point of science is that the scientific method immunizes it against the intellectual tyranny of a majority. When scientific issues are decided by consensus or courts then science has left the building.

  44. Well, fitness is a measure of the numbers of surviving offspring. So I suggest the eugenicists start a nuclear war, kill off all higher life forms, so all that’s left is the fittest organism of them all – bacteria.

    Makes you wonder why it evolved into anything else by a process (NS) that selects for fitness, not necessarily complexity, at least not the complexity which is unrelated to fitness.

    Do hands make us fitter than bacteria? do feet? what about a brain? wings? eyes? ears? sexual reproduction? nest building? complex instincts? courtship? None of it does.

    In the time it takes me to order flowers for my girlfriend, bacteria would have produced more surviving offspring than all the human beings to ever have existed on this planet.

    They are also the most hardy of living organisms able to withstand almost anything. They truely are the pinnacle of a process driven by natural selection. Eugenicists have got their graphs the wrong way up.

  45. Borne:

    Interesting applications of the old principle, ex falso quot libet [at least that is how I remember it should be spelled . . . ]

    From what is false, anything — but of course, from truth, only truth follows logically. [That is why a notoriously false implication from an assertion is reason enough to abandon it. This is the foundation of mathematical proof by contradiction, i.e. reductio as absurdum.]

    My own observation — here following arguments by both Plantinga and Lewis, inter alia [cf. Reppert's response to attempted rebuttals] — is that evolutionary materialism leads to the logical implication that mind as we experience it is delusional and/or utterly untrustworthy.

    Just note on whether Crick’s thoughts are simply networks of neurones firing off, or Skinner is just another operantly conditioned rat in the maze, or what the impact of Freud’s own potty training was, or what the effects of Marx’s own class conditioning was, to see a big part of the problem. It holds for determinism, and it holds for adding in chance boundary conditions to drive the deterministc process and/or injecting noise along the way to randomise outcomes. Nor will appealing to our perceived observations and experiences as a reality check get us out of the self-referential absurdity trap.

    Further, in several recent threads, we have seen just how deeply inferences from Darwinism to eugenics etc are embedded in the first century of Darwinian thought, starting with Darwin himself. It is noteworthy, that it is after the shock of the Nazi death camps, that a rethinking was undertaken,and the denials we now see were brought out. Sorry, at minimum, the pattern of thought plainly invites such inferences, and these were historically checked by the sort of images this teacher [perhaps unwisely] showed in his classrooms — the similar Stalinist purges and camps and the mass starvation of the Ukrainians, did not have that effect, as it was not covered so frankly. [The ongoing suppression of frank images of what happens with abortions in the US etc, is also telling on this.]

    Nor do I buy the argument that the IS-OUGHT gap on evolutionary materialist premises can be exploited to brush aside the de-moralising implications and impacts of the worldview. If we know that there are certain moral truths, as TRUTHS, and we have a worldview that entails that these truths are not so, then we have a choice between the implications and the known truths. That choice is not so hard to make.

    Further, note that I have spoken to “worldviews.” This is in the context where Lakatos tells us that scientific research programmes embed cores that are worldview driven, surrounded by a belt of theories. Philosophy cannot be excluded from the classroom by labelling one wordview “science” and another “religion.” All that results is the begging of worldview questions, i.e unexamined metaphysics, which is notoriously bad metaphysics.

    Finally, it is obviously true that many movements across the ages for one reason or another have committed acts of genocide or the like. That is significant, and it is worht noting that finaite, fallible, fallen and often ill-willed people are fully capable of abusing ANY ideal to do enormous evil. {BTW on this, a careful reading of the OT will show that, e.g the conquest of Canaan was much more of a displacement of a people notorious for their own attacks on others than a slaughter . . .]

    But, that potential for abuse does not remove the fact that this is a case in point where starting with the founders of a system, we had a line of thinking closely connected to the core ideas in the scientific theory,which then led to policies, laws and genocides that are now generally conceded to be utterly indefensible. The suppression of that is inexcusable,and the pretense that the teacher was introducing extraneous, religious material, is patently an unjustifiable excuse that when a fair history eventually comes to be written, is going to join the long, sad gallery of shame of our generation.

    Let us sit down and have a very long think on that.

    GEM of TKI

  46. What is wrong with this presentation is not so much its content as its context. This clearly does not belong in a biology class anymore then showing pictures of Hiroshima and Nagasaki victims belongs in a physics class. In the later case the connection would actually be much more direct. The problem I do have with the presentation without being privy to class discussion is that the presentation alone leads you to believe that ET is bad because it inspired the Nazis. Is physics bad because it inspired the atomic bomb? Confusing knowledge with the application of knowledge is at best the mark of a poor teacher and at worst the deliberate deception of young minds. If the teacher made it clear that the Nazis were working from a perverted understanding of Darwin then that would be better. The problem with that being that to understand the perversion requires an exploration of the historical and philosophical undercurrents of the time. Are we still in biology class? Eugenics is a topic in the humanities and one cannot understand it even close to adequately simply by saying Darwinism did it.

  47. jmcd

    At the high school level a biology course also includes the history of biology. The Kansas Science Standards (see previous comment) actually require knowledge of the eugenics movement and how it was based on the theory of evolution. Darwin was in fact a racist and the full title of Origins is On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. This is an important bit of the history of biology. I agree the eugenics presentation was shocking but on the other hand I bet the kids paid attention and learned that lesson well due to the shocking nature of it. The pedagogy was successful but the teacher died.

  48. In that case I hope they do have a similar approach to their physics and chemistry instruction. There is nothing wrong with teaching the misuse of scientific knowledge. My exposure to those lessons was in university history and philosophy courses which still seems to be a more appropriate venue, but hey as long as they are balanced there shouldn’t be a big problem. As a parent or a student hoping for good AP scores though I might question the use of time.

  49. Here is an example of how Darwinian evolution can be successfully and legally criticized in public schools today in Virginia:

    But more effective are personal interactions. For example, the Washington post reported here:

    Late last fall, [Caroline] Crocker debated Alan Leshner, head of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The audience was a group of seventh-grade students at Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School in Falls Church. Leshner will not debate opponents of evolution in person, and he will not debate them in a science class, because the science association believes that such events convey a false sense to the public that there really exists a scientific controversy over evolution. As a result, Leshner and Crocker spoke to a debating class on consecutive weeks

    Perfect opportunity to hand out literature, eh? :mrgreen:

    Sal

  50. Hi JMCD:

    While I first met Hiroshima in my HS library, Hiroshima came up in the radiation and applications of nuke physics course I did.

    Some basic history and phil of science is an inevitable and often useful part of introductory level HS science courses. One hopes the history and phil are accurate and fair. (Over in the Caribbean I have thought that the region’s standard intro level Physics course unfairly turns Aristotle into a strawman, duly pummelled.)

    In that context, when we present the hagiographies on Galileo as “science” [there is much more to the story than usually meets the eye] as an icon of the abuse of religion to suppress science, we should equally present on the abuse of science to oppress.

    [And BTW, even the Hiroshima story needs to be viewed in the context of the realistic alternatives, which may well have in most cases been at least as awful. Cf the casualty estimates for a series of Normandy style invasions. Just note that the Purple Hearts manufactured for the intended invasion have served for all subsequent wars of the USA. The dead on the Japanese side credibly would have been in the millions. War, truly, is a foretaste of hell.]

    I don’t like shock tactics, and think a more balanced and contextualised presentation would have been helpful, but this teacher was acting well withing his reasonable academic freedom-based rights as an educator. Unless of course the objective of HS level “Science” is indoctrination and induction into an agenda, rather than equipping people to be scientifically literate citizens. [And "science" here is not properly "applied atheism" either.]

    H’mm, doesn’t that help explain why “teach the controversy” is so . . . ahem, controversial?

    GEM of TKI

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