Am I partisan? When I’m forced to be.

By Phil Plait | July 18, 2006 10:29 pm

I have been accused in the comments of various posts here and in some emails of being partisan; in this case, anti-Republican. I can understand why some would think so of me, but it’s a narrow view. The people in power in this government have made it quite clear they want to devastate if not outright destroy science in this country; their record is crystal clear on such topics as environmentalism, stem-cell research, medicine, and of course evolution. And the vast majority of these people in our government are Republicans.

Because I support science (you may read that as "reality" as you see fit), I am against a large portion of the Republican Congress’ and the White House’s stance on these and other issues. Is this partisan? Not necessarily. I do not take these stands because I am anti-Republican, I take them because I am against what’s going on. The Republicans are doing it now, but if Democrats wish to make fools of themselves on the science issues I will take them on with gusto as well (as I have demonstrated).

But then something like this comes along, and it’s harder to defend my stance that I am non-partisan. The South Dakota Republican Party put together their resolutions for 2006, and when they opened their collective traps they issued forth this noisome proclamation:

Resolution 16:

WHEREAS, education on species origin is a vital aspect in the understanding of nature and the purpose of human life; and,

WHEREAS, evolution is a theory that is taught in public schools as fact and at the exclusion of all other theories; and

WHEREAS, the South Dakota Republican Party believes there are other plausible theories, including creationism;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the South Dakota Republican Party supports efforts to expand beyond evolution the knowledge, scope, and debate in public education on the theories of species origin.

You read that right: the South Dakota Republican party is officially endorsing creationism. Ignoring the obvious and profound violation of the Constitution this invokes, let me make something as clear as I can:

Science is not partisan. Science is reality. Evolution is science. Evolution is reality.

I can be even more clear.

Creationism is garbage. It’s wrong, and is not reality. It is not science, and should not be treated as such.

I shake my head in shame that these things even need to be said, let alone spelled out clearly.

Want to accuse me of being partisan? Read that quoted passage again and give it a try. If I were a South Dakota Republican I’d be mighty embarrassed right about now that my party would say something as incredibly stupid as this. Hell, as a human being I’m embarrassed.

If you look at the URL for that proclamation (www.southdakotagop.com/gopfacts/2006resolutions.htm) you’ll see that, ironically, the folder in which that proclamation sits is "gopfacts". Again, it’s hard not to be partisan when a party makes creationism part of its official platform.

This should be a wake-up call not just to South Dakotans, but to all Republicans who watch aghast as their party is ripped apart by antiscience demagogues. You might want to consider getting your party back. The direction it’s going in now is straight toward disaster.

Thanks to The Angry Astronomer for the tip. He has more detail about this fundamental stupidity on his blog.

Comments (97)

  1. Lettuce

    I support science, but in the narrow sense. I believe that “creation science” is a joke and I accept the reality of global warming; and in both cases because people better trained than me, and with more ability to understand these things, have explained them to me (in various ways) and I defer to their judgement.

    But go to bat politically for science?

    You have to be joking.

    I’m a Democrat. As long as scientists are unwilling to explicitlty go to bat for the rest of the reality based community that isn’t absorbed completely by their specialties, I say let them defend what they believe in themselves.

    I’m tired of people acting like it isn’t obvious what’s going on in this country at every level of the political landscape.

  2. Eternal Sceptic

    Sounds like paranoia to me. Let them push creationism. The marketplace of ideas will sort it out. As for global warming, the jury’s still out on that, AFAIK. No definitive “proof” one way or another, just a battle of flawed computer models. I’m old enough to remember the mantra of the “coming ice age” back in the late 60s, early 70s, the disaster d’jour at the time. Remember the population “bomb”? Well, it was a dud. So were predictions of crop failure and impending worldwide famine. The sky isn’t falling.

  3. As a South Dakotan, I just want to appologize for the idiots in my state. Unfortunately, they run everything… but we’re working on getting the nut-jobs out of power.

  4. HvP

    Eternal Sceptic,

    You said, “Sounds like paranoia to me”. But it’s not paranoia if it’s really happening., and the Republican party really is endorsing a religious creation myth as if it were science. Thus, it’s not paranoia, it’s established fact.

    You said, “The marketplace of ideas will sort it out”. Suuuure, and that’s been working so well with so called “alternative medicines” to the point that products which actually contain NO ACTIVE INGREDIENTS are are some of the most popular selling remedies in North America as well as worldwide.

    You said, “As for global warming, the jury’s still out on that.” If the “jury” is the worldwide scientific community then they are most definitely not out. They are very much “in” with the verdict that global warming is real and supported by the evidence.

    You said, “I’m old enough to remember the mantra of the “coming ice age”… Reality check. You remember the sensational press in the popular media, but AT NO TIME was there any scientific consensus regarding such a thing. Link: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=94

    And if you are claiming that population growth, energy supplies, famine and the like are NOT problems worldwide then I’d suggest you pull your head out and realise that although our good Earth will sort itself out without our intervention, it may do so at the expense of a great many otherwise preventable deaths.

  5. It’s hardly exclusive to Republicans. Look at all the hysteria surrounding global warming and then look at what real climatologists have to say about it. Democrats are not above winning votes by hysteria in other ways, too.

    As for stem cell research, I don’t see why it’s bad science to recognize the fact that embryos are destroyed when the stem cells are extracted. This is aside from the fact that all the advances have been made with adult and umbilical cord stem cells while embryonic stem cell research has been largely unsuccessful. This is why the immediate issue of embryonic stem cell research is really who’s paying for it because the private investment just isn’t there. It’s still legal to do the research.

  6. Chip

    The Texas Republican Party has also endorsed a platform that (on page 20 linked below) and in many other areas touching science and human rights, is comparable in oppression to anything favored by Iran or the Taliban.

    http://www.texasgop.org/site/DocServer/2006_Plat_with_TOC_2.pdf?docID=2022

  7. Dukrous

    Actually, while the numbers show Global Warming is happening, we have yet to find any consensus on the cause and duration of the effect. This is perhaps what Eternal Sceptic meant.

    As for South Dakota…well, there’s idiots everywhere. The problem is not being partisan, it’s that it is condescendingly so. Phil, I’m excluding you from that comment (while I occasionally disagree, I can understand you’re here to educate). In my time, I’ve found a great many people who think like me. These are religiously minded, conservative leaning folk who are firmly on the side of science and fact. I’ve found most of these kinds of people are also Catholic (myself included).

    However, about three years ago, I found myself in an argument about evolution over Genesis. This person was growing angrier and angrier at my arguments concerning proof of evolution. Towards the end, this person asked me who I voted for in 2000. Shocked when I mentioned Bush, she was convinced that I was just a complete moron…because, and I can still hear her voice to this day, “Only Baptists know the real truths in this world and we vote for Democrats.”

    I’ve met my share of brain-dead GOP and Democrats along with idiot athiests and believers. Stupidity knows no borders, and we should all admit as such. There is no automatically right or wrong group in any argument. There is only the truth and its supporters.

  8. Sorry for the nit-pick, but how is this a violation of the consitution? In what way does the consitution prohibit religion or non-science to be a party-line?

  9. Pandabear

    this sounds like inquisition times… You don’t agree and you get branded as one of ‘them’… it seems that way every time anyone disagrees with the president that someone always has to call that person non-democratic or anti-patriotic.. celebrities publicly apologizing for being against bombing iraq.. and now we have the inquisitors of the state making sure that their point of view is thought first and foremost.. a country of such opportunities and they willingly pull it back to the dark ages.. it’s a bloody outrage.. wasn’t there something about Moses and Aaron, the idea of Church and State that should remain seperated? This is exactly why..

  10. Michelle Rochon

    This is rather disgusting. Wait. It’s not RATHER disgusting. It’s DISGUSTING, final.

    What is wrong with people’s common sense? Their basic logic? Why do they believe such bogus? What IS going on?!

    Are these guys elected? If they are, throw ‘em out at the next! They are rotten. Rotten rotten rotten. Nothing can salvage delusional people like that, and they should NEVER be in ANY POSITION OF POWER.

  11. Tim

    “The marketplace of ideas will sort it out.”

    It already has done, in the scientific community. The trouble is, if you ignore this when throwing it open to the masses to work out for themselves, you’ll both waste a lot of good work and set the nation back decades.

    Switching to your other topic of global warming, during that time, it will have taken even *more* effect while the masses continue to pollute greedily whilst working it out (in the american ostrich position).

  12. Otter

    The sad truth of the matter is that the politians are only looking at there voting base and are moving to secure it. If 75% of the voters firmly believed that mankind was spawned out of a Warthogs backside they would support it.

    It has little to do with the truth and alot to do with self interest.

  13. Henrik

    When I was an exchange student at a high school in Bagley, Minnesota, I and some other exchange students consistently shook our heads in wonder of how…ignorant…some of the students in physics and chemistry class were. Though I’m sure they were just honestly mistaken about things, it was kind of fascinating to see. We called them, not seriously but as sort of a standing joke, for “Stupid Americans” and said so in class whenever someone said something funny. Our teacher found it quite hilarious, as did all the rest thankfully.
    Reading the above post convinces me though that there are a lot of people in America that are really, really ignorant. For most people where I live, science is taught as science, religion is exercised in churches, mosques or other places. That people in the 21st century can still believe in creatonism is just sad, as is their take on many other issues, such as stem cell research and global warming.
    And it is sad to say that a country that once was the leading authority in science has turned into a conservative, backwards country unwilling to accept solid scientific theories. It can only lead to the rest of the world catching up in many more areas of research and becoming leading authorities themselves. Though it would have been best if America would join the rest too, so that as much effort could be put into various research projects, ensuring results faster than it would otherwise.

  14. Mostly Harmless

    As to Mark Probst question as to why this is a constitutional issue, it is because the SD GOP is trying to take a private religious belief and make it public policy. The first amendment prohibits actions like this. Creationism is nothing but a religious belief meaning any law that pushes for it is a law “Respecting the establishment of religion.”

    As to Eternal Skeptics comment to let the marketplace of ideas sort it out, unfortunately the Discovery Institute has already proven the dangers of letting PR firms influence issues of science. ID and creationism is flashier and easier to promote because there is no substance to it. I think most people could understand evolution, but the science behind it is so complex it doesn’t break down into sound bites. A lie is halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes as the old saying goes.

  15. Blackfoot

    You are right that creationism is not science, but it is not garbage either. Evolution is merely a theory, not a proven law. Science tries to explain the “how” behind things, but it cannot explain the “why”. Imposing any viewpoint on another is just as bad as denying that viewpoint to be heard.

  16. Morgan

    You are right that creationism is not science, but it is not garbage either. Evolution is merely a theory, not a proven law. Science tries to explain the “how” behind things, but it cannot explain the “why”.

    …So that the earth and all the universe was created from nothing 6,000 years ago and all life was created much as it appears today… explains ‘why’ the universe is 13.7 billion years old and life has evolved over billions of years?

  17. Will

    Blackfoot, I have a viewpoint that the earth is rotated by winged polar bears that are tied up to the equatorial pole located in Italy. Would you have this viewpoint given equal time in science classes?

  18. Michelle Rochon

    Evolution is a theory. Yea. But a scientific theory is NOT an hypothesis, Blackfoot.

  19. Berlie

    If I remember correctly, Blackfoot, the “why” is there, too. It’s for the survival of the species. Any trait that gives an advantage means that creature survives longer, which means it gets to mate more, which means that it has more offspring, which means that its traits get passed on to more of the next generation. Then, in turn, those who are born with the same traits live longer than those without. Those that don’t adapt eventually go extinct.

    And when you say “merely a theory”, I don’t believe you understand the concept of scientific theory. A theory is supported by facts, and stands until someone finds something that contradicts it. Intelligent Design does not contradict it, because there are no facts to support it.

  20. Why can’t we leave it to scientists to explain the HOWS, and leave it to theologians to explain the WHYS?

  21. Your Name's Not Bruce?

    I’m curious where the Republicans would jump if it came to a showdown between their friends in Big Energy (who rely on the findings of science, particularly geology to locate their product; if you can’t find it, you can’t sell it) and their friends in Big Religion who would throw out much, if not all of that science? Granted that not all Creationists are Young Earth Creationists, but still, it seems to me that the aims of these two groups would ultimately collide. Strange bedfellows?

  22. Kaptain K

    “Evolution is merely a theory…”

    So is gravity… Why don’t you find the nearest cliff and test it!

  23. SLC

    Well I guess Bob Park is right up there with Barney Frank in making a fool of himself.

  24. Christian Burnham

    There are many who were raised in anti-scientific households and simply don’t know any better and we should have sympathy and even understanding for them. However much we feel superior, it is plainly not obvious to many people that evolution works and creationism doesn’t. That’s why education is necessary- because we’re not born with a set of the latest scientific evidence imprinted into our brains. It also takes time and effort to develop critical thinking.

    Those we should feel contempt for are the politicians and church leaders and pseudo-scientists who knowingly feed off natural ignorance to obtain greater power.

    I don’t know what the answer is, but the BA and his Bad readers are helping in some small way to stand up against these monsters. Now that’s Bad A**!

  25. “WHEREAS, evolution is a theory that is taught in public schools as fact and at the exclusion of all other theories; and

    WHEREAS, the South Dakota Republican Party believes there are other plausible theories, including creationism;”

    1. Scientific theory = fact. Well, as close to facts as science gets. A theory in Science is like a theorem in Mathematics. Theorems are proven by logic based on fundamental hypotheses. Theories proven by facts based on empirical observations, though they allow that there may be a better theory.

    2. There are no other theories. Evolution is the ONLY scientific theory for this phenomenon.

    3. Creationism doesn’t even qualify as a scientific hypothesis, as it isn’t testable, so it can never reach “Theory” status.

    4. Creationism isn’t nearly as plausible as evolution. (If this had to be created, then wouldn’t it require a more complicated creator who him/herself had to be created?)

    Okay, now that I’ve gotten all of that out of the way, the true statements boil down to “Evolution is a theory that is taught in public schools as fact,” which is a good thing – theories should be taught as fact. We don’t want our kids questioning the theory of gravity.

    The thing is, these people don’t really believe what they’re saying. They really just believe that Creationism is right because the Bible says so. Why they feel they have to impose their beliefs on the rest of us, rather than let us come to our own religious conclusions is beyond me.

    As for what part of the constitution it breaks, that would be the First Amendment. Teaching Creationism favors Christianity over other religions (and science), and thus amounts to establishing a de facto state religion.

  26. (got a problem with posting this last time; I apologize if this ends up being a double-post)

    “WHEREAS, evolution is a theory that is taught in public schools as fact and at the exclusion of all other theories; and

    WHEREAS, the South Dakota Republican Party believes there are other plausible theories, including creationism;”

    1. Scientific theory = fact. Well, as close to facts as science gets. A theory in Science is like a theorem in Mathematics. Theorems are proven by logic based on fundamental hypotheses. Theories proven by facts based on empirical observations, though they allow that there may be a better theory.

    2. There are no other theories. Evolution is the ONLY scientific theory for this phenomenon.

    3. Creationism doesn’t even qualify as a scientific hypothesis, as it isn’t testable, so it can never reach “Theory” status.

    4. Creationism isn’t nearly as plausible as evolution. (If this had to be created, then wouldn’t it require a more complicated creator who him/herself had to be created?)

    Okay, now that I’ve gotten all of that out of the way, the true statements boil down to “Evolution is a theory that is taught in public schools as fact,” which is a good thing – theories should be taught as fact. We don’t want our kids questioning the theory of gravity.

    The thing is, these people don’t really believe what they’re saying. They really just believe that Creationism is right because the Bible says so. Why they feel they have to impose their beliefs on the rest of us, rather than let us come to our own religious conclusions is beyond me.

    As for what part of the constitution it breaks, that would be the First Amendment. Teaching Creationism favors Christianity over other religions (and science), and thus amounts to establishing a de facto state religion.

  27. Yup, it’s a double post. Feel free to delete one, almighty god of all that is good in Astronomy.

    Anyways, I forgot to include this link about the whole “theory” thing:

    http://rockstarramblings.blogspot.com/2006/07/doggerel-26-its-only-theory.html

  28. bobtheskepticalchristian

    not to pick nits, but the south dakota republican party proclamation, as wrong as it is, is NOT unconstitutional in any way.

    it states:

    “WHEREAS, the South Dakota Republican Party believes there are other plausible theories, including creationism;”

    creationism is a religious belief. but all this says is that the south dakota republican party believes in creationism. it is NOT unconstitutional for a government official or party to believe anything that they want.

    it then continues:

    “THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the South Dakota Republican Party supports efforts to expand beyond evolution the knowledge, scope, and debate in public education on the theories of species origin.”

    this is the action that the party plank is promoting – that the party supports efforts to the knowledge, scope, and debate in public education to alternative theories. this in and of itself is not unconstitutional.

    now, i fully grant you that when put into practice, this plank will most likely result in unconstitutional behavior (attempting to force the introduction of creationism), but i fail to see anything in this resolution that, in and of itself, is unconstitutional…

  29. Hi there.

    You state that “science is reality”. I wish it was… I would rephrase to “science is an interpretation of reality”. It may get more or less close to reality, but it is still an interpretation based on what we have learnt so far. IN astronomy this is particularly true (let alone cosmology…). We see things and we try to explain them. And maybe we also come up with a reasonable explanation. But this thoes not mean that our “scientific” explanation IS reality.

  30. Don’t confuse ignorance with stupidity. Ignorance is merely lack of knowledge. Stupidity is ignorance coupled with pride.

  31. George

    Creationism, and ID, is not science. But not all creationsim is anti-science. Perhaps most creationsim is pro-science. I support your views, [b]BA[/b], but there should be a better term you could use to single out the anti-science creationists. Generalizations can be troublesome and detremental to a good tirade. :)

  32. Pandabear

    @ George:

    Can you name one, just one way of creationism that doesn’t blatantly contradicts what we know to be scientific fact? I can’t think of any, but feel free to prove me wrong if I say that all currently opted forms of creationism are fundamentally flawed..

  33. Omega Supreme

    I have two main problems with creationists and ID proponents. The first is that they’re not willing to be proven wrong. The mark of any good scientist is that in the face of evidence contrary to what he/she believes, he/she is willing to say “OK, well, that works better than what I’ve got…maybe you’re right and I’m wrong. Let’s figure out which it is.” Creationists won’t do that. They’re right and everyone else is wrong, no questions asked. My second problem is this-I can’t get behind any idea that fills in the holes with “then a miracle happened.” Evolutionists admit there are holes in their theory, they fill in more of them all the time with new finds. ID proponents and creationists don’t admit to holes in their ideas-it’s just “then a divine entity did this.”

  34. Phobos

    George, have you read The Wedge Strategy once used to guide ID proponents?
    http://www.antievolution.org/features/wedge.html

    Excerpts…

    “… we are convinced that in order to defeat materialism, we must cut it off at its source. That source is scientific materialism. This is precisely our strategy. If we view the predominant materialistic science as a giant tree, our strategy is intended to function as a “wedge” that, while relatively small, can split the trunk when applied at its weakest points. …Design theory promises to reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions.

    Governing Goals
    • To defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural and political legacies.
    • To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God.

  35. Lucid

    The problem with politics is that facts, real hard facts, are distorted so often and twisted for their own bias that issues become confused, the waters muddied, and your average American becomes fatigued.

    A recent example: I still run into people who believe that Saddam had something to do with 9/11. At one point that was 70% of the population.

    If they had more money (read: political influence), the Flat Earth Society would be wreaking havoc, right now! :)

  36. George

    Pandabear, other than YEC and modern fundamentalists, what creationist religion blatantly opposes science? Where do you see most of Catholocism (the largest body of Christian creationists) opposing science? Most Baptist I know are not anti-science (these are mostly non-fundamentalist Baptist, however), some Judaism (mostly non-Orthodox), and many other denominations are not anti-science. How many Christian scientists are anti-science?

    The problem is in the term “Creationism”. It suggests all those who would believe in Creation. This is rarely the target intended. A better term, as I stated above, is needed.

    Phobos, I am familiar with the Wedge Strategy. [They should have had a Discretion Stragtegy first. :)] It shows ID’s true colors. Note, however, that I oppose ID as science; so why do you ask?

    Looks like the greater challenge comes from the anti-Phil blog in Moonage site. Is there an internet term for blog wars?

  37. Irishman

    Lettuce said:
    >I’m a Democrat. As long as scientists are unwilling to explicitlty go to bat for the rest of the reality based community that isn’t absorbed completely by their specialties, I say let them defend what they believe in themselves.

    Uh, what are you talking about?

    >I’m tired of people acting like it isn’t obvious what’s going on in this country at every level of the political landscape.

    Maybe if you gave a clue as to what you mean.

    Jon Lester Said:
    >As for stem cell research, I don’t see why it’s bad science to recognize the fact that embryos are destroyed when the stem cells are extracted. This is aside from the fact that all the advances have been made with adult and umbilical cord stem cells while embryonic stem cell research has been largely unsuccessful.

    My understanding is that the best results come from embryonic, not adult, stem cells. Umbilical cord stem cells are something new to me.

    It’s not bad science to acknowledge that embryos are destroyed to obtain their stem cells. It is, however, interpretational as to the meaning of destroying an embryo.

    Blackfoot Said:
    >You are right that creationism is not science, but it is not garbage either. Evolution is merely a theory, not a proven law. Science tries to explain the “how” behind things, but it cannot explain the “why”. Imposing any viewpoint on another is just as bad as denying that viewpoint to be heard.

    I feel this is yet again a situation where the terminology has confused the issue and different points are being made.

    There are two topics being argued. 1) How did life originate, develop, and become diverse? 2) Was God involved? They are separate questions. One is a scientific question (diversity of life), one is not (God’s role). Unfortunately, the term “Creationism” lumps the two questions together, and much of Evolution is seen directed at both questions.

    Creationism is more than a declaration that “God did it”. It is not a statement of responsibility, but of means. “God did it” is not an explanation. Science is about explanations. Evolution is an explanation. It describes how life originated and diversified. Common ancestry and change over time are proven – documented in the fossil record, demonstrated by animal husbandry (breeding) and agriculture, confirmed in laboratory settings and witnessed in the wild, and reinforced by genetics. Creationism’s alternate explanation for the scientific mechanism is independent origins and static life forms. It is inconsistent with all of the above scientific evidence. Scientifically, Creationism is dead.

    The second argument is on God’s role. This is the philosophical argument surrounding the science debate. But importantly, Evolution does not preclude God playing a role. Evolution explains the means. While it can be argued that the means don’t require God, they do not exclude God.

    When speaking of “Creationism”, we are explicitly talking about the Means question, not the philosophical question. Thus, Creationism is wrong.

    George Said:
    >Creationism, and ID, is not science. But not all creationsim is anti-science. Perhaps most creationsim is pro-science. I support your views, [b]BA[/b], but there should be a better term you could use to single out the anti-science creationists.

    How are you using the word “Creationism”? Because by conventional use (as I just explained), it is anti-science.

  38. Henrik

    Creationism is so reek of contradictions and magical things it’s a miracle in it’s own right that someone can even believe in it.
    Could God create a rock so heavy that he himself couldn’t lift it? He’s omnipotent isn’ he? Not that I’m against religion, but it is self-contradictory.

  39. The “Why?” and the “How?” is intertwined, the only way understand the “Why?” is resolve the “How? first”.

    The question: “why are we here?” doesn’t make any sense until you know how we came to be.
    So far there is not one little bit of evidence for an almighty force creating us all, not 6000 years ago, not 13.523532 billion years ago.
    (excepting FSM of course, s/he need no evidence) ;-)

  40. Your Name's Not Bruce?

    Imagine how quickly proponents of teaching (Christian) creationism would cite constitutional concerns if it were the creation story of some other religion being presented in science classes. But of course, they already think that evolution is a religion, or at least that’s the tack they took in their attempts to force “equal time”. Ultimately the hardcore creationists are in it to defend their particular and peculiar approach to Biblical interpretation. They know, however that in today’s world, that Science is the coin of the realm (because clearly science works; just ask survivors of the applied physics experiments carried out over Hiroshima and Nagasaki…) so they have to take over the mint, or learn to counterfeit. They can’t come out and just say that their religious sensibilities are offended because that sort of argument runs afoul of the separation clause (which some Creationists claim is a myth). So they’re trying to blunt the power of science to interfere with their theology pretending to serve the greater good and the interests of science education. In the long run, Creationists and IDers are doomed because they still have to deal with the way the world really works. Wishful thinking and theological special pleading aren’t going to alter reality. In the short term, however they are trying their hardest to usher in a Dim Age, if not a truly Dark one. It’s ironic that their struggle to subvert science education will result in the weakening and dumbing down of the republic they claim to love and serve. (maybe those in the rest of the world who think the US is a rogue state should be egging the Creationists and IDers on ; )) But maybe that’s not so important because the United States is believed by many Creationists to be under God’s special protection, though the writers of the Bible never knew of the existance of most of the rest of the world (let alone the rest of the universe; textbooks on Biblical Geography and Astronomy would be mighty thin…) It’s amusing to see the contortions of interpretation, allegory and symbolism that some fundamentalists will go through to “show” how America appears in Biblical Prophecy, while insisting on a strict “literal” interpretation of the book of Genesis.

  41. Freedo

    A day late and a dollar short, but no problem, it just means no one will read this.

    I am not a creationist. I also do not beleive in evolution. If it comes to the point when we must believe in truth, or the nearest approximation thereto, then I for one am bound for the “showers”.

    The beauty of science is it’s plasticity. One minute we’re within a hairs breath of a “Theory of Everything”, then suddenly, that everything would be a tiny fraction the “unknown everything”.

    Why would someone what to fix the everything in one book or any book.

    I have serious concerns about people who insist on dragging the 20th Century into the 21st. What possible excuse is there for dragging the 15th into it.

  42. HvP

    Bobtheskepticalchristian, consider this:
    “the South Dakota Republican Party believes there are other plausible theories, including creationism; THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the South Dakota Republican Party supports efforts to expand beyond evolution the knowledge, scope, and debate in public education on the theories of species origin.”

    So let me get this straight. The South Dakota Republican Party believes that creationism is a plausible scientific theory for the origin of species on Earth? They also support efforts to expand debate in public education on the theories (plural) of species origin?

    How can you possibly interpret this as anything OTHER than an attempt to include their pet religious “theory” (creationism) in the material for public education? They’ve already chosen to define creationism as a theory for species origin, and they’ve chosen to endorse the expansion of such theories alternative to evolution. Please explain to me what else they could have possibly meant!

  43. Cujo

    You are right, and it is Republicans who should be most alarmed. They can’t let the Democrats take the high ground of reason against superstition.

  44. SLC

    There is a simple reason why Itntelligent Design Creationism is not science. A scientific theory must do three things.

    1. It must provide an explanation for observed phenomena. The explanation provided by ID is that the designer did it. This explains nothing.

    2. It must be predictive. That is, it must be possible to say that if the theory is true, the following consequences will be observed. ID predicts nothing.

    3. It must be falsifiable. This can sometimes be conflated with 2 above in that if a predicted consequence is not observed, the theory has been falsified. Since ID predicts nothing, it cannot be falsifiec.

    An example is the Theory of Relativity (TOR). TOR explains the observations made in the Michaelson-Morley experiment. TOR predicts time dialation which was observed directly in the decay of muons. No experiment has to date been performed in which a prediction of TOR has been found not to occur, hence the theory has not been falsified.

  45. The politicians of South Dakota are also trying to outlaw abortion, no matter the circumstances.

    I am not stating this to ‘open a can of worms’, but even most ‘pro-life’ individuals usually relent when the situation involves rape and/or incest. Not this bunch – not an ounce of compassion to be found there.

    I feel sorry for the students who are stuck in that state. The bright ones who are going to have to struggle against this system. My highschool library had a shelf of astronomy books – a lot of Carl Sagan – and I read every one at least once. What about these kids? If I were a parent stuck in that state, I’d be doing my best to find employment anywhere but there.

    History will judge these fools harshly.

  46. Zart

    Since a few people here dont believe in evolution, I have to ask which part is it that you don’t believe? Here they are:

    A) Genes exist and determine how an organism develops.

    B) Genes get passed on to offspring

    C) An organism that is better suited to produce offspring under certain conditions will tend to produce more offspring under those conditions compared to an organism less suited.

    D) Genes can change.
    (The act of producing offspring often involes a mixing of genes from the parents. Genes can also meet with accidents that change them. Not all of the sperm in a single load are perfect, and some of them can still produce a viable offspring. So there is both organic and accidental changes.)

    These four parts are the cornerstones of the theory of evolution. They are all facts that can be observed over and over. Thats it. There is no magic. No room for opinion.
    Now which of these is it that you don’t believe in?

  47. Freedo, perhaps you’d like to inform us about any shortcomings of evolution. It’s got over a century’s worth of evidence (leading to plenty of refinements that got us modern synthesis), so it’s not a lack of evidence. Evolution continues to change and improve as new data comes in, so it’s not some kind of “20th century” dogma, like you seem to be implying.

  48. Will M.

    I’m still trying to understand why a relatively small group of folks who exist in every body of organized Christian religion think it is their duty to force the rest of us to believe as they do, that belief being a narrowly-restricted world view. I do understand that most religions proselytize; what confuses me is why the organized religions seem to be ceding the means of proselytizing to their fundamentalist brethren. Why don’t we hear more in opposition to this narrowly-held world view from the rest of the believers who don’t hold such a restricted viewpoint? Is the press ignoring the folks who chastise their fundamentalist brethren in these Christian churches? Where is the opposition to these views from legislators in the state houses where these resolutions are proposed? Doesn’t the opposition rate any ink? Surely these blog comments on sites like this and others aren’t the only objections being raised.

  49. ioresult

    Elwood Herring said: “Don’t confuse ignorance with stupidity. Ignorance is merely lack of knowledge. Stupidity is ignorance coupled with pride.”

    Nice one!

  50. George

    Irishman…

    >George, how are you using the word “Creationism”? Because by conventional use (as I just explained), it is anti-science.

    Yes, I understand it is being used as such, but its use, regardless of intent, is critical of all those who favor a religious creation belief. Those who adopt a pro-creation religious viewpoint, could easily consider themselves as being creationists. In my book, they are. Using this definition, many, if not most, creationists are actually pro-science. If they are pro-science, then the pejorative use of Creationism as anti-science is anti-logical. To alienate creationists who support science is detremental to the cause.

    Unfortunately, I don’t have a solution for this. A better term that addresses the anti-science groups – who argue from religious and creationists platforms – is needed. YECism comes close but misses the IDers.

  51. Rocky

    Well, on the other hand, the Republicans have finally come out of the closet. No more “ID smoke and mirrors”, no more “nudge, nudge, wink, wink”, that forcing their “Designer” on us all, who is really theirs version of god. Reality takes a back seat, sky faries are on par with real science, cause they say so. No that they are firmly record, we can take pages from the last century, as ALL of these same bogus reasoning’s for enforced religious piety. Steven J. Gould has written quite eloquently in many of his books on this.
    And, I also fear what has been noted above, this is definitely a American Taliban styled attempted takeover of our society by a fascist minority. They’ll be Very sad time in history for our great nation.

  52. but to all Republicans who watch aghast as their party is ripped apart by antiscience demagogues.

    I used to be a Republican. Of course, it’s easier to be a Republican when you live in Berkeley, because there most of the extreme-nonsensical political silliness comes from the left side of the spectrum. But it will be a long time before I’m willing to consider myself a Republican again. The Republican party has changed it’s core goals, and it’s now the party of homophobia and creationism. That’s so not me that I don’t even know where to begin.

    I’m horrified by the current president. I wish that John McCain (the last presidential Republican candidate I voted for, in the 2000 primaries) hadn’t started to sell out to the ID/Falwell types in a bid for that part of the Republican base, because then there might almost be a real choice in the next election. But Republicans are so blatantly catering to their fundamentallist religious base that I’ve just given up on them.

  53. Paladin70

    Irishman,

    Adult stem cells are currently used to treat over 80 illnesses. Most of these were previously incurable, I believe. Emryonic stem cells are currently used to treat no illnesses, none are even in human trials as of the last year or two.

    The advantage of ESC’s is that they have the potential to become any type of human cell. They do, however, have the downsides of possibly forming cancerous growths, and tissue rejection.

    The use of ASC’s removes the cancer and rejection problems. An individual ASC may not be able to become any cell type yet, but between all the types which can be harvested from the patient, any type may be created.

    Research on ESC’s is not illegal, it is just not economical because it has not produced any medically usable results. ASC research has little problem finding private sector funding because it works.

    All this being said, I approve of ESC research as long as it has potential to help people and as long as it is undertaken as ethically as possible.

  54. SciEngLibertarian

    Oh FFS people. Enough of this Chicken Little attitiude please (re American Taliban).

    1) Is the Democratic party and its supporters really in such a bad shape that it now is giving up on ever winning or even hanging on to another presidential, congresional, govenor or state legislature election?

    2) Considering what the Taliban actually did, these false comparisons do you no credit. Especially in the eyes of the crucial floating voter.

    Now that is out of my system, please make a difference and all of you move to South Dakota and vote the raving lunatics out of office, before we have to repeat our endeavors of 1814 :)

    Evolution is real, creationism/ID is bollocks and it will fade qucker if the debate isn’t polarized by idiotic comparisons.

  55. David Holland

    Pladin70, do you have citations for those 80 illnesses treatable with adult stem cells?

  56. Irishman

    Nando Patat Said:
    >You state that “science is reality”. I wish it was… I would rephrase to “science is an interpretation of reality”… But this thoes not mean that our “scientific” explanation IS reality.

    Yes. Science is about developing explanations in order to understand reality. But those explanations must always be tested against reality. What I think Phil is trying to distinguish is explanations for how the world works and how the world began that are based upon fantasy or mythology – explanations that try to define reality rather than conform to reality. Even Cosmology is ultimately trying to be grounded against results from observations and experiments. It just has serious challenges to obtaining those results.

    George Said:
    >The problem is in the term “Creationism”. It suggests all those who would believe in Creation. This is rarely the target intended. A better term, as I stated above, is needed.

    > Yes, I understand it is being used as such, but its use, regardless of intent, is critical of all those who favor a religious creation belief. Those who adopt a pro-creation religious viewpoint, could easily consider themselves as being creationists. In my book, they are. Using this definition, many, if not most, creationists are actually pro-science. If they are pro-science, then the pejorative use of Creationism as anti-science is anti-logical. To alienate creationists who support science is detremental to the cause.

    > Unfortunately, I don’t have a solution for this. A better term that addresses the anti-science groups – who argue from religious and creationists platforms – is needed. YECism comes close but misses the IDers.

    The problem is using “Creationism” to equate to religious belief. Those two are not synonymous, and using them as such feeds the confusion.

    But I do agree, the term is inherently confusing, and is an unfortunate result. Darwin’s terminology was “Special Creation”, by which he meant that each individual species had a unique origin. Again, separating the science from the philosophy, I would redefine “Creationism” as “Unique Origins” or “Independent Origins” or “Static Species” or some such. This eliminates the religious overtones and puts the science topic on the forefront. Then we can argue science vs science — Independent Origins vs Common Descent with Modification; Static Species vs. Change Over Time. Also eliminate Creationism for use in the philosophical realm, to avoid the confusion that Evolution excludes God. Unfortunately, my crusade hasn’t taken root yet. ;-)

    Freedo Said:
    >I am not a creationist. I also do not beleive in evolution. If it comes to the point when we must believe in truth, or the nearest approximation thereto, then I for one am bound for the “showers”.

    Bronze Dog Said:
    >Freedo, perhaps you’d like to inform us about any shortcomings of evolution. It’s got over a century’s worth of evidence (leading to plenty of refinements that got us modern synthesis), so it’s not a lack of evidence. Evolution continues to change and improve as new data comes in, so it’s not some kind of “20th century” dogma, like you seem to be implying.

    I may be wrong, but I suspect Freedo is harping on the meaning of “believe” rather than contradicting Evolution.

    Freedo, I think the argument is misgiven. Believe is a broad word for “holding an idea to be true”. Belief doesn’t require Faith. Faith is one justification for belief. Evidence is another justification for belief. Both end up with the same result – belief. (One just has a better track record of being verifiable.)

  57. I feel it’s appropriate to quote Steven Colbert here: “Reality has a well-known liberal bias.”

  58. TheBlackCat

    David Holland said:
    “Pladin70, do you have citations for those 80 illnesses treatable with adult stem cells?”

    According to one of my quantitative physiology professors, one who works in tissue engineering, the only adult stem cells actually being used are hemadopoidic ones (making blood cells, I might have misspelled it). Blood cells are extremely easy to work with because blood tissue is a liquid (blood). Working with all the other tissues in the body, which are solid, is far, far more difficult because the cells will kill themselves unless everything is pretty much exactly right, and even then they are very disinclined to do what we want. There are also only a handful of different types of blood cells.

    There are a lot of blood-related diseases, so I assume you could treat 80 diseases just using blood cells (perhaps even only red blood cells). But to use that as evidence in favor of adult stem cells is extremely misleading because it is still only one type of tissue, and an extremely easy to work with type of tissue with only a handful of cell types. Also, many, if not most, blood-related diseases involve problems with only one cell type, and since it is is a liquid you can use stem cells to treat that one type without interfering too much with other cells. This is not the case with solid tissue.

    As it stands, only embryonic stem cells have been shown to be able to turn into any cell in the body, and it seems highly unlikely adult stem cells can (they are already partially differentiated, already partially down a specific path).

    However, the whole debate may be moot if a new technique to extract embryonic stem cells without killing the embryo pans out. It has already been demonstrated in mice (or rats, can’t remember) which at that stage are no different from humans physiologically, and the actualy extraction technique is fairly routine in humans (turning them into embryonic stem cells is the hard part).

  59. BMurray

    Please feel free to be partisan.

  60. Tacitus

    The “80 cures” using adult stem cells is hogwash. At best there has been research into about 65 different treatments usings adult stem cell, of which only nine have been approved by the FDA:

    http://www.stowers-institute.org/WhatsNew/pr2006/PR071406.asp

    Furthermore, these “treatments” are not “cures”. Many of the treatments are being tried as ways to alleviate the side effects of radiation and chemotherapy, not as cures for the underlying condition.

    It is also a distortion of the facts to directly compare the number of treatments using adult stem cells with the lack of current treatments using embryonic stem cells, since work with adult stem cells has been going on for decades (since the 60s & 70s) whereas embryonic stem cells were first successfully experimented upon less than ten years ago. Embryonic stem cell research is in its embryonic stages so to speak (sorry!).

    By all means object to embryonic stem cell research on moral and ethical grounds. That is a person’s right. What the BA is objecting to, (and has been amply illustrated by some of the misleading comments here) is the distortion of the scientific debate by those morally opposed to the science.

    Most scientists believe that embryonic stem cells still offer greater hope for cures than adult stem cells. Whether or not it is too high a price to pay for a cure is up to society, but we should be armed with the facts, not politically biased distortions.

    What will be interesting to see is what opponents will do when they are eventually offered a treatment derived from embryonic stem cells. Somehow I suspect their moral objections will melt away when it’s their life, or the life of their child, that’s on the line.

  61. Tacitus

    The “80 cures” using adult stem cells is hogwash. At best there has been research into about 65 different treatments usings adult stem cell, of which only nine have been approved by the FDA:

    http://www.stowers-institute.org/WhatsNew/pr2006/PR071406.asp

    Furthermore, these “treatments” are not “cures”. Many of the treatments are being tried as ways to alleviate the side effects of radiation and chemotherapy, not as cures for the underlying condition.

    It is also a distortion of the facts to directly compare the number of treatments using adult stem cells with the lack of current treatments using embryonic stem cells, since work with adult stem cells has been going on for decades (since the 60s & 70s) whereas embryonic stem cells were first successfully experimented upon less than ten years ago. Embryonic stem cell research is in its embryonic stages so to speak (sorry!).

    By all means object to embryonic stem cell research on moral and ethical grounds. That is a person’s right. What the BA is objecting to, (and has been amply illustrated by some of the misleading comments here) is the distortion of the scientific debate by those morally opposed to the science.

    Most scientists believe that embryonic stem cells still offer greater hope for cures than adult stem cells. Whether or not it is too high a price to pay for a cure is up to society, but we should be armed with the facts, not politically biased distortions.

    What will be interesting to see is what opponents will do when they are eventually offered a treatment derived from embryonic stem cells. Somehow I suspect their moral objections will melt away when it’s their life, or the life of their child, that’s on the line.

  62. Tacitus

    The “80 cures” using adult stem cells is hogwash. At best there has been research into about 65 different treatments usings adult stem cell, of which only nine have been approved by the FDA:

    (link removed – error messages)

    Furthermore, these “treatments” are not “cures”. Many of the treatments are being tried as ways to alleviate the side effects of radiation and chemotherapy, not as cures for the underlying condition.

    It is also a distortion of the facts to directly compare the number of treatments using adult stem cells with the lack of current treatments using embryonic stem cells, since work with adult stem cells has been going on for decades (since the 60s & 70s) whereas embryonic stem cells were first successfully experimented upon less than ten years ago. Embryonic stem cell research is in its embryonic stages so to speak (sorry!).

    By all means object to embryonic stem cell research on moral and ethical grounds. That is a person’s right. What the BA is objecting to, (and has been amply illustrated by some of the misleading comments here) is the distortion of the scientific debate by those morally opposed to the science.

    Most scientists believe that embryonic stem cells still offer greater hope for cures than adult stem cells. Whether or not it is too high a price to pay for a cure is up to society, but we should be armed with the facts, not politically biased distortions.

    What will be interesting to see is what opponents will do when they are eventually offered a treatment derived from embryonic stem cells. Somehow I suspect their moral objections will melt away when it’s their life, or the life of their child, that’s on the line.

  63. Tacitus

    Link I tried to add to the above message:

    “http://www.stowers-institute.org/WhatsNew/pr2006/PR071406.asp”

    (copy it to your brower address bar)

  64. Tacitus

    Link I tried to add to the above message:

    “www.stowers-institute.org/WhatsNew/pr2006/PR071406.asp”

    (copy it to your brower address bar)

  65. Tacitus

    Link I tried to add to the above message:

    “www.stowers – institute.org/WhatsNew/pr2006/PR071406.asp”

    (copy it to your brower address bar and remove spaces around the dash)

  66. Tacitus

    Link I tried to add to the above message:

    “www stowers-institute org/WhatsNew/pr2006/PR071406.asp”

    (copy it to your brower address bar and replace spaces with dots)

  67. Tacitus

    Yikes – so sorry. The link to the article was causing error messages to be generated in reply. I didn’t stop to check if my post succeeded.

    Apologies – please delete extra messages.

  68. bobtheskepticalchristian

    hvp,

    i never said that it wasn’t what they meant (in regards to the constitutionality of the platform plank). it is most likely exactly what they meant.

    but having that as a position for your party, or as a belief, or as a goal is NOT unconstitutional.

    if that were true, there would be a lot of platform planks from both parties that are likely unconstitutional (including opposing gay marriage (republican) and gun control (democrat)).

    my point is, that a position cannot be unconstitutional. a belief is not unconstitutional. and promoting debate is not unconstitional.

    from the statement, their belief is that creationism is real and true (i’m guessing young earth creationism here – a fairly important distinction (calling all those who believe in a creator “creationists” is probably as big of an entymological error as mixing up ambiogenesis with evolution) – although that is only inferred on my part.) their position is that debate should be promoted and alternatives explored. neither of those things are unconstitutional.

    now, IF a south dakota republican is elected, and IF that s.d. republican agrees with the party platform (not all politicians agree with their party’s platforms), and IF he/she chooses to act on that belief, THEN there will likely be a constitutional issue. my point is simply that the statement was itself characterized as unconstitutional, when it is not.

    as for the embryonic stem cell issue, if the government were to simply stick to what’s in the constitution and get out of the health care business entirely, then it wouldn’t be an issue. but if they were truly serious about embryonic stem cells, instead of turning it into a science vs. morality debate, they would start by making it free to donate umbilical cords, which contain (wait for it…) embryonic stem cells, free of any moral implications. but common sense is something equally lacking on both sides of the political aisle…

  69. Sue Mitchell

    Creationism? Sounds more like cretinism…

    As an ‘outsider,’ I am shocked – and grieved – at seeing how backward a nation, that we once looked up to as the most advanced in the world, has become.

    I attended an Enaglish grammar school (like your high schools, I think?) from 1959 to 1966. Evolution ‘theory’ was taught as tantamount to fact.

    In R.I. (Religious Instruction) lessons, the Bible was considered as a collection of historic documents/myths and legends. It was never taught as completely factual. We also had lessons on Buddhism and Hinduism etc. in our final year.

    I’m inclined to think we got it about right. :-) And that’s about 50 years ago!

    As for Intelligent Design, any ‘designer’ who thinks nerves in teeth are a good idea, has to be a complete barmpot! ::rolls eyes::

  70. TheBlackCat

    bobtheskepticalchristian Says:
    “if the government were to simply stick to what’s in the constitution and get out of the health care business entirely, then it wouldn’t be an issue.”

    US Constitution:
    Article 1, Section. 8. The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect
    Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and
    provide for the common Defence [b]and general Welfare[/b] of the
    United States;
    (emphasis added)

    If providing funding for potentially life-saving medical research does not “provide…for the general Welfare of the United State” I do not know what does. The fact is the US government is the single largest supplier of funding for biomedical research by far, if they were to get “out of the business” then it would be absolutely devestating to our society and our economy. It would basically eliminate our ability to stay competetive in a sicence and technology-driven world economy. It would utterly destroy science in the US.

    bobtheskepticalchristian Says:
    “they would start by making it free to donate umbilical cords, which contain (wait for it…) embryonic stem cells”

    No they absolutely do not. They contain adult stem cells. They may be slightly (but only sligthly) more versatile than most adult stem cells, but are no where near as versatile as embryonic stem cells. Embryonic stem cells only exist in early embryos, they do not exist in cord blood. Cord blood, according to my the tissue engineering researcher I mentioned, only can become blood tissue and blood vessel tissue.

  71. bobtheskepticalchristian

    black cat,

    regarding umbilical cord stem cells, mea culpa. i was obviously misinformed though to say that cord blood can only become blood tissue/blood vessel tissue is a bit of an understatement – one of the few actual therapies in use for stem cells is in therapies for cancer, and umbilical cord stem cells are much more likely to bring success than adult stem cells (they are NOT the same). and i did find this article that suggests that we may be able to get the same type of stem cells as embryonic stem cells from cord blood:

    http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn7864

    but that article is a year old, and i am not fully up-to-date on the most recent changes in biomedical research.

    however, your second point, from article 8 of the constitution – you pulled one of the broadest, most general statements from the constitution to support the taking of tax money from americans to pay for biomedical research? that’s all well and good, except that the dollar that comes from you is worth the same amount as the dollar that comes from the fundamentalist christian down the road, who may believe that it is in the general welfare of the united states to have the ten commandments in every courthouse. who defines what is the “general welfare” – you? see the problem i have is that the government doesn’t do things NEARLY as well as private industry does. you say that if the government pulled out of biomedical research our country would collapse? possibly, if the withdrawl was sudden and without foreknowledge. but i think the government could get out of most areas of funding and we’d see the slack taken up in the private sector. what company wouldn’t want to find a cure for paralysis via stem cells? or find a way to grow a new heart?

    look at it this way. if the government is the source of the money for stem cell research, then all taxpayers have a say in how it is spent. that means that those with ethical concerns (and there are legitimate ethical concerns) have an equal say in how “general welfare” is determined as do those who are not concerned with the ethical considerations. that means that there is debate, framed by politicians, instead of science.

    but all that said, i’m a libertarian nut, so i’d like to see the government get out of a lot of businesses…

  72. eddy

    Phil said”
    > Hell, as a human being I’m embarrassed.

    Even I can feel the embarrassment and I am not from the US. I read about the skeptical movement and listen to PodCasts on this topic. It is making me feel very uneasy.

    Perhaps that it is just a marketing ploy: sacrifice one state that is seen as no more then a pawn and see if it wins enough to make it a bigger issue. Who cares that ten years from now there will be less sketical scientist? The election has a much shorter outcome. There is only one outcome anyway, so any discussion about what might have been is of secondary importance.

    @ Blackfoot: you are mistakenly thinking that reciting the prayer “Evolution is merely a theory, not a proven law” has anything to do with thinking. Religious people already assume that a prayer will change reality, so why not this one.
    A question though: there is a tendency to make reciting prayers more enjoyable by accompanying them with music. Any score developed for this one already? Love to hear it a capella in four voices.

    You should not think in terms of believe. Compare what is going on in science as what happens in a court of law: there is a suspicion, evidence is collected, a case is made and you can then prove beyond reasonable doubt when something is right or wrong.
    “Beyond reasonable doubt” does not mean that everything has to be absolutely 100% crystal clear before a *meaningfull* conclusion can be drawn. Off course will science continue where a court of law would end, because science has a need for those details to make something 100% crystal clear, if not for this case then for one of the many other cases.
    It is this interlinking of the many fields in science that provide a solid base for well thought out ideas like that of Evolution. Cases are made in archeology, molecular biology, astronomy, physics, psychology, sociology and even practical ideas like breeding crops and cattle. There are so many pillars that support the idea of Evolution that pointing out that “there is a remote possibility that one of the pillars might not be as strong as it appears to be” is not a case against Evolution.

    Creationism asks us to remove each and every pillar of our understanding of the world arounds us and wants to replace it with the single notion “God is why!”. I am not exaggerating the magnitude of what is required here. Evolution itself itself isn’t a field. There are no Evolutionists. Creationism, if it wants to be seen as a viable alternative, should start describing what it thinks the new pillars will be because none of the current pillars in place can be used to support it. None! There is just too much interlinking between all of them. Then, for each of those new fields, you need to come up with questions, ways to find answers, ways to verify and falsify those answers. Only then will you begin to be something. A question that current fields can answer is where there contributions have helped mankind as a whole. All the new fields will have to establish this for themselves as well.

    You should compare Creationism versus Evolutionism as a game of soccer. There is the field, the goals, the balls, the referee, a couple of million supporters for the team of Evolution and, let’s not mock you too much, the same amount of supports on the other side. It may just be that they sound as the same amount, because they have louder voices. Now, see the scientist, the players for Evolution. Those in favor of this team sing, chant and are merry. Those in favor of Creationism do the same: sing, chant and be merry. See what is wrong in this picture? Let me spell it out for you.
    There are no players for the team of Creationism!!!!!!!! Show me the players!!!!!

  73. Back to the S.D. republican site…

    Granted, it bugs the heck out of me to see evolution as a “theory” and creationism as a “theory” mentioned in the same breath. Still, it’s an election year after all — am I the only one to see this as an attempt to “rally the base?” When push comes to shove, either party tends to rely on its most ideologically extreme members as ground troops (since they’re the most energetic, will put the most time in).

    Smells like pandering to me…

  74. text guzzler

    Consider this approach:

    Creationists / IDers want to make it mandatory to teach their ideas in schools, on equal terms with Evolution, since they think it’s an equally valid theory.

    OK, what the heck, give them that. But then make it mandatory for them to teach Evolution on equal terms on their Sunday schools. Of course, subject to periodic validation so that they do not distort or dismiss it as ‘untrue’. Just as they would like their ideas treated in public schools.

    How long do you think they would still press for inclusion of ID etc into curricula?

    Just wondering …

  75. Sue Mitchell

    To text guzzler:

    I rather suspect they’d want their bread buttered on both sides… :-(

  76. Some Guy

    I’ve said it before, Creationism is not a science, it is a religious belief, and has no place in public science class. However, it could be useful as a topic in Debate, or in a theological course, and only if other religions, like Buddism, Muslim, Satanism, and Homerism are equally allowed.

    And I think God (if there is one) COULD make a rock so big he (or she) couldn’t lift it. But then he would soon make the rock lighter and move it so he could get to the fridge for a soda.

    As to the Reps or Dems, I’ve never liked either as a whole. Vote for the issue, not the party.

    B-)

  77. Ray Reardon

    People are wonderful creations but as has been demonstrated many times, the adage ” Never underestimate the power of human stupidity ” is all too true. It is sad but that is what will eventually wipe us out. Logic could be our salvation.

  78. Ian Freeman-Wright

    As anyone seen the rubbish being served up on the pay TV history channels of late.
    I watched one the other day .It was about ancient Egypt .supposable about 3,000 BC. Peasants running around piles of corn on the cob solder riding horses of at least 16 hands with swords a meter long. Need I say more I have cancelled my history channel?

  79. Irishman

    Some Guy, often we can’t vote for the issue, only the candidate. So evaluate the candidate on the response to the bulk of the issues, or their standards/guidelines/preferences/demonstrated patters of determining their vote. Then pick the candidate best suited. The Party Platform is one way to get a handle on how the candidates will make those determinations.

    text guzzler, that is a lousy idea. One primary reason is that it is a direct violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution. Just because they want to play that way doesn’t mean we should stoop to their level.

    Regarding that New Scientist article, I have to take issue with the presentation. Read this sentence:

    But the factor that may make the discovery very significant is that umbilical cord blood can be saved, stored and multiplied without any of the ethical dilemmas facing embryonic stem cell use, which are derived from human fetuses.

    That is inaccurate and misleading, regardless of the value or potential of umbilical cord blood. A fetus is a particular state of development. Embryos are a particular state of development. Embryos are not fetuses, and fetuses are not embryos. To state so is as much a misrepresentation as to say they are derived from human corpses.

  80. Jason

    I believe Bill Maher said it best, “You don’t teach both sides of an argument if one side is total crap. Babies come from the womb is not a competing theory with babies coming from the stork.” This is essentially the same as comparing evolution to creationism. One is a logical theory* supported by scientific facts (such as adaptation) while the other is a 1700 year old story written by humans who thought the earth was the center of the universe.

    * In science, when a hypothesis reaches the status of a theory, it is far beyond the layman’s definition of a theory. Some people have the notion that theory means idea or possibility, but in science a theory is generally regarded along the exact same lines as fact. A scientific theory is not a conspiracy theory or some other dismissable claim.

  81. Kevin

    THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the South Dakota Republican Party strongly encourages Congress to enforce the laws of our land to protect our borders against foreign and domestic enemies.

    here is res 10. How do we protect our borders from “domestic” enemies? And who are they? The NY Times? those damm astronomers?

    or maybe they mean domestics, like in maids and cleaning ladies….

  82. hale_bopp

    There was a letter in Science about the stem cell treatments. You need to be a subscriber to download the whole article, but a supplement is available for free online. The supplement is a table of the 65 alleged treatments detailing the status of each (and yes, they list the 9 that are approved and cited previously here).

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/1129987/DC1

    Rob

  83. Yogi

    Exactly where is this reality-based community everyone is talking about? That would be a breath of fresh air. Where do I sign up? Do they have membership dues?

  84. text guzzler

    Sure, Irishman, I ‘m fully aware it’s a lousy idea to give the IDers what they want. Wrote that while in a kind of dark humor vein.

    Thing is, a quick solution is near to impossible, since the problem is social rather than technical. Just take into account that every American feels that their own particular way is better. It’s ingrained in the American psyche even before 19th century (remember the words ‘manifest destiny’? They candidly show the conviction of superiority and a will to impose over others). AND some leaders (religious, political, whatever) want to try to force-feed their particular brand to everyone around. as an extrapolation of that idea to masses of people: If my way is better, I’ll see to it that everyone follows my way. Bigots of the land, unite!

    Which, coming to think about it, is one of the reasons Americans aren’t much liked throughot the world. Why in heavens should we impose our ways on others, no matter what ? Lots of people in other states (or countries or religions, you name it) are perfectly happy with their very own ways! Isn’t it obvious that it’s an intrusion to convince-induce-force others to think like one does? Have we forgotten already Hitler, McCarthy, Jomeini, talibans and their kind?

    Now, compound the feeling of being ‘chosen’ with a saddening decrease in scientific awareness of the general public starting around the 70’s (only need to check out the HUGE business psychics and astrologists do every day, customers including, yes you guessed it, scientifically trained professionals) and the gregarious need of bundling with like minded people. Add an amount of marketing and media hype, and you get an idea of why it’s come to this point, why it’s really difficult to come out of it, how to overcome this chasm and how long we need to work on it.

    My guesstimate would be arond two generations, so we’d better get started. And I feel the best starting point is humility, education, strong scientific education bases, cxommunicating with the public at a rate at least equal to the IDers. So, kudos to BA and all others breaking ground there.

  85. Florida Felon

    What a bunch of closed minded people have accumulated at this site. The fact that you are so worried about the consequences YOU will face if creationism is the true start of life that you want to shelter the growing minds of our country from making their own decision. Obviously I disagree with you in that evolution is the only possible explanation for how we all got here. Regardless what I or you believe, I think it is best that both ideas be explained in our public schools. and the facts behind both should be made available to them. Generations before us only heard of creationism as the explanation for human life, more recently the youth have heard no religous ideology and only general information about evoltions possibilities, yet once adulthood is reached we all have the ability to look at what makes the most sense to them and apply it to there life. Creationism has not and can not be disproved any more than evolution can and has been proven.

  86. Sue Mitchell

    “What a bunch of closed minded people have accumulated at this site. [ … ] Creationism has not and can not be disproved any more than evolution can and has been proven.”
    ……………………………………………………………

    Oh dearie, dearie me! I think someone’s been dozing off at the back of the class. ::sigh:: Wake up, Sunbeam, and pay attention!

    No one here is trying to tell R.I. teachers what they should and should not teach in *their* classes, merely that they shouldn’t try to impose their own agenda on science classes. It’s like the language teachers demanding that Latin should be taught in physics classes. (You could actually make out a better case for doing that, too.)

    The difference between the theory of evolution and the ‘theory’ of creationism is that there is an immense body of *evidence* supportive of evolution and absolutely *nothing* supportive of creationism beyond blind faith.

    There is indeed actual evidence *against* ‘Intelligent’ Design. No designer who thinks it’s a good idea to put nerves in teeth could possibly be described as intelligent. Q.E.D.

  87. Jason

    Calling us closed minded is a laugh. If anything, you’re the one being closed minded. Our side (evolution) has weighed the facts (or lack thereof for ID and Creationism) and come to the obvious conclusion.

    It’s not being narrow minded to teach only that 1+1 = 2, instead of both 1+1=2 (let’s call this one evolution) and 1+1=11 (creationism). 1+1=11 is freaking retarded, and if you teach this in school you definately aren’t being open minded.

    Even the Vatican has claimed that evolution and the bible are compatible, and many in the Vatican support evolution. Yet somehow, the (southern) United States seems to have reached the conclusion that Texas and George Bush are now the highest religous authority, and that the bible is a literal and infoulable tomb. Evolution is facing the exact same thing that Galileo faced when he said that the Earth wasn’t the center of the universe. However, he had science, evidence, reason, and fact on his side, and while the religious right was able to momentarly silence him, his theories ultimately won out. I have little doubt that the same will prove true with evolution.

    I’m not trying to pick on religion, it can be, and has been proven to be, a good thing for many people. However, when people think that metaphorical stories in the bible are true and absolute beyond reason, evidence, and fact, the problem becomes evident.

  88. Triangleman

    [ . . . Obviously I disagree with you in that evolution is the only possible explanation for how we all got here. Regardless what I or you believe, I think it is best that both ideas be explained in our public schools. and the facts behind both should be made available to them. . .]
    What are the ‘both sides’? One is evolution and the other is – that the world was created in the pedals of the lotus held by Brahma? Created by the tender arms of Gaia? That man was created from clay by Allah?

    I don’t know, those other ‘theories’ don’t seem to fit a science class very well.

  89. Irishman

    Florida Felon Said:
    >What a bunch of closed minded people have accumulated at this site.

    We’re closed minded for evaluating the evidence, not going by feelings?

    >The fact that you are so worried about the consequences YOU will face if creationism is the true start of life that you want to shelter the growing minds of our country from making their own decision.

    No, that is inaccurate. We are not worried about consequences we would face if Creationism were true. We are comparing evidence to see if it is true. The evidence fails to support the premise.

    >Creationism has not and can not be disproved any more than evolution can and has been proven.

    You seem to be making the exact same failure I and others have been pointing out. Creationism is not equivalent to Belief in God. Belief in God does not require belief in Creationism. “Creationism” carries a specific meaning. It is not just that God is responsible, it is a declaration of the way life originated, developed, distributed, and continues to interact. Creationism declares that each species (or “kind”, with kind conveniently undefined and left broad) independently arose. Fish are fish and amphibians are amphibians, and oops, now there’s that pesky tiktaalik ( tiktaalik ) that can’t make up it’s mind. Creationism declares there’s no common descent – darn that DNA! Creationism says that life forms are static. They misrepresent what Evolution actually says and how it defines processes in order to ignore or refute the conclusions drawn. But the act of misrepresentation negates their own arguments.

    Evolution is a description of the means and methods of diversification. It is entirely acceptable that Evolution is God’s means and method.

  90. Triangleman said : “What are both sides? One is evolution and the other is – that the world was created in the _pedals_ of the lotus held by Brahama?

    Hmm .. I always thought Lotus made cars not pushbikes! ;-)

    (Not that I can talk when it comes to typos I know – just amusing that’un..)

    Textguzzler your last post is so spot on all I can add is ‘Amen” or rather ‘Hear hear!’

    If only you could in America vote on ideas rather than candidates – you wouldn’t be at war in Iraq for one thing – a majority of Americans disagreed before the invasion was launched. Most of the American people are actually I think alot better (read more liberal, more tolerant, more imaginative,compassionate and open) than their government a few powerful nutcase lobby groups make them appear.

    Finally here’s a few quotes that have some resonance here :

    “Although it is true that not all conservatives are stupid, it is also true that most stupid people are conservative.” – John Stuart Mill

    “One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.”
    – Plato

    “There are no nations! There is only humanity. And if we don’t come to understand that right soon, there will be no nations, because there will be no humanity.”
    – Isaac Asimov, Pages 419-421, ‘ I Asimov : A memoir’ chapter 7 ‘anti-Semitism’, Bantam Books , 1995.

    ” ..the United States is neither omnipotent nor omniscient. We [the USA] are only 6% of the World’s population – we cannot impose our will upon the other 94% of mankind.”
    – John F. Kennedy. (Quoted by Phillip Adams, Page 11, ‘Weekend Australian’ magazine. Dec. 13-14, 2003.)

    &

    “There is one safeguard known generally to the wise, which is an advantage and security to all, but especially to democracies against despots – suspicion.”
    – Demosthenes, Phillipics-2. [Collins Concise Dictionary of Quotations, P.108.]

    Thanks to the BA and others who have the courage, intelligence and democratic instincts to be suspicious of the powers that rule and say so. That’s one of the best aspects of America – freedom of speech, freedom to criticise, freedom to think. Don’t let them take that from you as seems from a distance to be happening now. If only your nation was more like you and less like the Daskotan Republian party and neo-conservative, fundamentalist zealots. If your lot ran the place instead not only would America be far better off but so would the world.

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