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Has the Darwin-Lobbying National Center for Science Education Gone Wobbly on Us?

David Klinghoffer

Bryan College.jpg

A news report on some turbulence at a Christian college in Tennessee contains a startling statement from National Center for Science Education spokesperson Josh Rosenau. The context? Bryan College, named for William Jennings Bryan, wants faculty to sign a statement affirming the historicity of Adam and Eve and denying mankind’s descent from animals.

Now, as a matter of pedagogy, exposing students to varying perspectives is a winning method. On the other hand, a private institution like Bryan with a religious or philosophical mission inevitably draws lines for its teachers. If you want to retain the mission, you can’t at the same time tell faculty that "Anything goes." There are more or less heavy-handed, or more or less congenial, ways of accomplishing this. The details of the dustup at Bryan College aside, it was surprising to hear Mr. Rosenau come out for, of all things, debate and open inquiry!

Quoted at length in the Chattanooga Times Free Press, he says this:

"The position they’re staking out with this new statement is not shared among all evangelicals, all Christians," said Josh Rosenau, programs and policy director at the National Center for Science Education, which advocates teaching of evolution and climate science. "The evangelical position doesn’t have to be an outright rejection of human evolution. There are ways to be a Bible-believing literalist without being at odds with science."

Rosenau said evangelicals are increasingly grappling with issues like evolution, and he said schools like Bryan should be host to debate and inquiry.

"They can try to expand that conversation and see where it goes without leaving that deep commitment to evangelical Christianity," he said. "I think it would be a really helpful conversation to have and it would be a shame if policies like this cut it off."

This is rich at a couple of levels. First of all, Josh, let’s you and I — both of us Jews — refrain from telling members of other faiths what kind of "Bible-believing literalists" they should be. This is just good manners, and also advisable if you don’t want to sound completely ridiculous.

Beyond that, what’s all this about favoring "debate and inquiry"? Since when? Where does Rosenau get off with these precious formulations about "expanding the conversation," a "really helpful conversation," to "see where it goes" since "it would be a shame if policies like this cut it off"!?

What the…? Is spokesperson Rosenau signaling that the NCSE has completely reversed its position in favor of censoring, distorting, and intimidating skeptics on Darwinian evolutionary theory and climate change? That can’t be. Only yesterday the group tarred as "antiscience" an academic-freedom bill under consideration in Oklahoma, which just passed through the state’s House of Representatives.

The bill enjoins public schools from "prohibit[ing] any teacher in a school district in this state from helping students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories pertinent to the course being taught." It expressly protects teaching science, not religion.

For example, say a biology teacher wanted to share with her students for analysis the article from a very mainstream publication, The Scientist, that Casey Luskin wrote about yesterday. It details some of the problems faced by origin-of-life researchers in maintaining the idea that life originated with an "RNA world." The bill would protect the teacher from administrative reprisal. In the perverse, upside-down vocabulary of the NCSE, that makes it "antiscience."

This is the same NCSE that seeks to confuse the public by conflating intelligent design with creationism, while smearing evolution and climate skeptics more generally as being guilty of "denial," cashing in on the way that term unavoidably brings to mind Holocaust denial. No, they are not for advancing any "conversation." They are for shutting it down.

Nothing has changed at the National Center for Science Education. Josh was just trying to make hay from a kind of story that Darwinists savor. For a change, they get to portray Christians as the ones seeking to limit academic freedom. What a pleasure that must be for folks like Josh Rosenau!

In reality, of course, efforts to limit free speech about evolution are overwhelmingly the province of Darwin-only activists. Rosenau’s comments to the Chattanooga Times Free Press are the standard propaganda, the familiar approach of this sleazy organization, the same old hogwash.

I’m on Twitter now. Find me @d_klinghoffer.

Photo: Bryan College campus, beautifulcataya/Flickr.