That was one of the questions I was going to ask Dr. Don Patton at the much ballyhooed lecture today on "what is creation science" which turned out to be something of a damp squib. And I'm not just saying that because I didn't get to ask it or any of my other questions - there were so many students' hands up that I didn't get my turn, which was great to see! I was promised at the end by one of the mike-wranglers that I would get the first question at tomorrow's lecture - but, meh, I didn't see much today to draw me back for more. I hope some of you students who did ask those great questions chime in here so we can talk about it, because you sure didn't get much of an answer from Patton, did you? I'll try to address some things more specifically in detail soon - am too tired to deal with it right now and I have a field trip early tomorrow morning, so let me just give a quick summary of the lecture for now. Those of you who attended the lecture, and can't wait to get some real answers, go play here and see if you can find all the main arguments on display today. And read why John Wilkins thinks such talks can, on the whole, be good for evolution education... I hope he is right!
Despite all the promise of a dialog on science made to us (in public and private) by the promoters of this event, what we saw was a typical presentation (from what I've read of such talks) with the following not-unexpected ingredients:
- repeated mischaracterizations of science and of evolution
- plenty of arguments-by-analogy
- a great big pile of selectively mined quotes from eminent evolutionary biologists
- arguments from popularity including results from public opinion polls to show how creationism is "winning" despite the efforts of us evilutionists
- lists of "hundreds of scientists" who support creationism (which raised the question I never got the chance to ask, about how many Steves)
- a defense of Patton's academic credentials (which is an irrelevant issue if you ask me, but more on this later; and Scott Hatfield has more on that and on his talk radio appearance during the first half of this lecture)
- when questioned by students, a fine display of slipperiness to smoothly evade probing questions, including rapid re-definition of terms just used, "not-blaming" the poor student because "this is what you've been told", complete refusal to address any alternative creationist hypotheses, yet declaring the unspecified creationism as the winner because Gould at some point somewhere said some argument about evolution was dead, etc., etc...!!
- And, of course, absolutely no actual data on anything other than the polls despite repeated proclamations that we were gathered to examine evidence!!
Like I said - meh! - I have better things to do tomorrow evening, including a choice of two other presentations that should be much more educational: on Earth Day by Dr. Chris Pluhar of our EES Dept., and on the ethics of stem cells and genetics by Dr. Andy Fiala, Director of the Ethics Center here @ CSUF. I don't have the links handy, so I will add them tomorrow sometime - or look out for flyers in the Science building.
And speaking of flyers, there was a miraculous appearance of the Great FSM in the lecture hall, and even a "ramen" was heard from a questioner! Unfortunately, I got there just seconds before the talk started, and the FSM disapparated sometime during the second segment of the lecture (leaving me in agony wondering why I had been left behind!) so I couldn't take a picture. I hope someone else did, and if so I will try obtain a copy for posting here!