Friday, November 10, 2006

loudest voices say the least

Once more, I'm going to start writing a post with no idea exactly where I'm going with this. Chris posted a link to PZ's blog at Science Blogs titled Demand Higher Standards for Homeschooling. What actually follows is his thoughts upon reading a piece about Patrick Henry College. PCH, from what I've read about it, is a college begun in order to cater to a certain segment of the homeschooling population, one of my arch enemies, the fundamentalist. Once more, we as homeschoolers are described in full by a small segment of our population.

What I understand as the meat of the argument is that some homeschoolers teach their children young earth, creationist beliefs instead of the provable truth of science. It's assumed, it seems, that these parents, ever distrustful of all science, must certainly not only not teach it but also have no ability to teach it.

What really struck we were the comments. As Chris mentioned there and at his own blog, something that jumped out at me early on is the similarity between many of the commenters and those fundamentalist they so love to heap scorn on. So many people are so tightly clinging to their own inherent rightness in belief in the one true god be it the judeo christian boogey man or the pure provability of science.

One can neither prove nor disprove that there is a god. One can argue anecdotal evidence and faith, but beyond that, religion is not any in way provable. Science relies solely on proof and must be provable. Science revolves around the evidence we can gather and the variables we can introduce in order to measure outcomes. But often in science, a theory is proven for any number of reasons to be incorrect, and true science has to accept when this happens. Religion has no proof and is in fact based entirely on faith. No amount of faith can make a science experiment produce a desired outcome, and the results of the experiment must be accepted.

According to many of the atheists commenting on Mr. Myers' blog concerning this, teaching children anything that isn't true is actual, real abuse, and one commenter went so far as to compare this to sexual abuse. Another commenter directed us to Auschwitz to show us what happens when kids are taught the religion of their parents. They stand by this not because they are able to prove what they say but because they are right. That's all the proof offered that I can see, because they are right, and because they say so.

The problem here, and it's the same problem in every single anti homeschooling thing I've ever read, is that the people suggesting fixes for what they perceive as wrong with homeschooling generally have no real interest in or knowledge about the subject. All the arguments that arise are answered by homeschoolers, so the argument changes just a little to something we didn't answer, or perhaps it's something we answered, and they've decided they just don't accept our answer. Again, the argument turns into the antagonist proclaiming that what we've said is wrong because they are right and disagree with us. So we as homeschoolers answer the argument only to rebutted again. We are never agreed with, and when we do successfully counter someone, they won't generally admit it, but they will in fact change their argument starting the process all over again.

Especially worrisome was the tone, in many of the comments, that children are little more than wards of the state that people produce to add to the structure of society. People are seen as having few real rights when it comes to raising our children and in fact it's suggested that society has more rights to our children than we do. If we argue against that we are assumed to view our children as property over whom we hold all power. Those so secure in their personal rightness would argue that the state/society, has a right to teach our kids their view of the truth regardless of our wishes as parents. The state, they argue, even has the right to take your children and force them to attend school and be indoctrinated with what they see as the truth.

Reason and thought don't seem to account for much when people argue to be right instead of being willing to rethink their position. This doesn't seem like a very stable place for science to stand. Science needs to be able to move and sway with what is and isn't, to be both provable and disprovable. Being right has no place in science, but learning the truth, working hard to find out what can be proven and rigorously testing, that is science, and it is homeschooling.