AIG Research Paper Winner
Creationist wackos and creators of the giant creationism museum in Kentucky, Answers in Genesis, recently announced the winners of their creationism essay contest.
Homeschooler (of course!) Karin Hutson of Missouri (there’s a freakin’ surprise!) won the contest. The prize was a $50,000 scholarship to Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University.
Zeno at Halfway There has a good overview article. He sums up the winning entries:
While it’s not fair to expect teenagers to write purely original essays, all of the winning papers suffer from the suffocating effects of their reliance on recycled creationist propaganda. Time and again the writers make demonstrably untrue statements (and they probably don’t know any better). In this, of course, they simply mirror their elders.
I thought I would examine the grand prize-winning essay. I debated whether to do this, because I didn’t want to be seen as beating up on a high schooler. I decided to go ahead because:
- It’s actually a fairly sober essay and therefore doesn’t lend itself to my usual snide comments (read: It won’t be funny. Jump to the next article if you want funny.)
- It’s worth seeing what the creationists are teaching their kids. What is the content and curriculum that they would like to impose on the public schools, if they ever get their way?
- How good is it, from a writing perspective? In other words, how good is their home-schooling?
To answer that last question, it’s fairly well written, from a purely technical perspective. Its main flaw is that it’s saturated with the logical fallacies that all creationists are prone to. So let’s examine Karin Hutson’s winning essay:
Evolution of Ethics: How the Biology Class Undermines Morality 101
Can Darwinian evolution adequately account for and uphold human morality? This paper concludes it cannot. Within a naturalistic worldview that denies absolute truth, morality has no standards. Ethics then disintegrates into fickle opinions and conflicting preferences. Hence, evolution supports amorality, not morality!
Morality has no absolute standards, because societies change over time; they evolve, in a manner of speaking. The hope is that over time, we become more enlightened about what is moral.
It is not evolution that supports amorality. If anything, it creates morality. Altruism, which is one of the underpinnings of morality, has been proven to exist in some animal species. Furthermore, a society without morals does not long survive.
Instead, I would argue, that it is the misguided notion of “absolute truth” that creates amorality. This causes the believers of that particular “absolute truth” (and the world is full of many contradictory “absolute truths”) to blindly and rabidly adhere to a doctrine that is woefully out of date and grossly immoral by most objective standards. If you doubt this, just read the Letter to Dr. Laura.
When Evolution is Taught
In this section, she just parrots back the standard creationist lie that evolution didn’t happen. This is where she fulfills the essay contest’s requirement that she use the fundie-written “science” textbook Evolution Exposed as a source. The other book she cites in this section is the Bible! Oh yeah! There’s a reputable source! It’s a good thing she got accepted to Liberty University. With scholarship like this, she wouldn’t be accepted by a real school.
Because of those conflicting presuppositions, creationists and evolutionists interpret their observations differently. Creationists examine fossils and point back thousands of years to the worldwide flood explained in the Bible, while evolutionists look at the same fossils and point back millions of years.
That’s the problem with presuppositions. Creationists blindly accept the Bible, so they are forced to jump through a series of massively-convoluted hoops just to reach their foregone conclusion. Scientists follow the straight line of the data to whatever conclusion that data leads.
If creation offers just as valid answers for life’s origin as Darwin,…
But it doesn’t. Where does she get such a crazy idea?
…which Evolution Exposed reveals,…
Oh. Well that’s her problem!
…why is it banned from public schools?
I’ll tell you why:
- Creationism has no evidence to support it.
- It’s religion.
[T]wenty-first century school officials unfairly regulate evolution to the classroom as science and creation to the church as religion.
I think the word she wants here is “relegate”, not “regulate”. Home schooling. Woohoo!
…Morality is Undermined
She opens this section by quoting Ken Ham, founder of Answers in Genesis. Oh yeah! Suck up to the judge!
In this section she claims that evolution creates moral relativism, which then creates violence and vice. If one society says it is OK to crash airplanes into skyscrapers, then another society can’t tell them that it’s wrong.
She’s wrong here. There are certain behaviors that can be agreed upon as bad by members within a society. You do have disagreements between societies. Her 9/11 example demonstrates this. Radical Islam hasn’t evolved to the same level of moral sophistication as the West. They’re still living in the moral Dark Ages. You don’t say “That’s OK! Their morality works for them, so we’ll let them kill us!” (For a good article on moral relativism and how it isn’t necessarily the default position of non-theists, see this article at Biblioblography.)
Response of Evolutionists
[N]aturalists either unabashedly glory in their liberation from absolute morality, trusting innate human goodness, or they stoically accept the pointlessness of existence.
I guess when mommy home-schooled Hutson, she didn’t cover the either-or fallacy. I don’t completely fit into either camp, and I don’t know anyone who does.
The Nihilist Approach
Nihilism, futile existence, is living life according to evolutionary philosophy.
Evidently, most evolutionists are not nihilists. According to evolutionary tenets, however, all should be.
No. She’s making the leap from “The data do not suggest a creator” to “Therefore, we should all just kill ourselves.” That’s ridiculous.
While evolution doesn’t directly cause sin,…
How nice of her to admit that!
…its naturalism presents a good excuse because it denies that morality is universal, that sin is sin, that a Judge will requite!
Maybe it’s a good thing that fundies have their moral code already created for them. They’re obviously incapable of the complex thought required to develop one on their own.
Hence, studies show moral decline among those who accept evolution.
Actually, the “studies” she refers to is something published by the Institute for Creation Research. I’m sure its scholarship is on the same level as Hutson’s essay.
The Creation Answer
This section is all about how wonderful God is and that people who believe in him blindly follow whatever is in the Bible. Somehow this is portrayed as a good thing.
Concluding with the Beginning
In order to share Christ with secular America, one must first confront the blinding worldview of evolution. This indoctrination begins in the classroom.
And that really sticks in the craw of fundies. In the “good old days”, they used to read the Bible in public schools. The only indoctrination in the schools that fundies want is their indoctrination.
[S]ome time may pass before creation science is allowed back in the public school system….
Remember, creationism is religion, so just swap those words in that sentence, and you’ll see the real fundie agenda:
[S]ome time may pass before religion is allowed back in the public school system….
So that’s the end of her essay. I see why she won, and I have to admit that it’s a masterful piece of writing. She artfully managed to cite a variety of creationist propaganda pieces, numerous Bible passages, and she also sucked up to the judge! Throughout the essay, she told the fundies exactly what they want to hear.
But what have we learned about Karin Hutson? We’ve learned that she managed to write a 3000-word essay about the ethics and morality of “evolutionists” without one whit of understanding of their ethics and morality.