Texas: really, really doomed

By Phil Plait | August 9, 2007 1:54 pm

When I posted about Don McLeroy, a creationist who the Texas governor just appointed to head the State Board of Education, I knew the situation was serious. Following in the bleak tradition of this current White House of making sure you appoint the absolute worst 180-degree-wrong person for a job, McLeroy seems to be the perfect candidate: he thinks the Universe is 6000 years old, he thinks evolution is wrong, he wants to bring religion into the classroom, he honestly thinks abstinence-only sex education is a good idea. I read his website, too, where he makes all this — and much more — very clear.

On his own this guy would just make me sad. But as the head of the BoE, he is dangerous. He wants to brainwash kids. And his ideas would make someone’s from the Dark Ages appear quaint.

But this transcript of a talk he gave at a church in 2005… well, you have to read this for yourself to understand just what kind of willful ignorance we’re fighting.

Comparing (his version of) Christians to scientists, he says (my emphasis):

G.K. Chesterton, 100 years ago, 1908 basically, uh, made an interesting observation that is really interesting: The Christian is quite free to believe that there’s a considerable amount of settled order and an inevitable development in the universe. But the materialist is not allowed to admit into his spotless machine the slightest speck of spiritualism or miracle. And I think that really describes it exactly, when you want to see, these people can’t stand anything getting into their spotless machine. They can’t tolerate anything. We can tolerate a lot, but they can’t tolerate anything.

This is absolutely, 100% positively wrong. It’s precisely backwards! A scientist looks around, observes phenomena, and then tries to explain them. If these explanations fail, then they are modified or discarded. This means two things: bad ideas go away, and good ideas get better, get closer to explaining reality.

Fundamentalists, creationists, are exactly the opposite: they read the Bible, assume it’s inerrant, and discard every explanation and every observation that disagrees. They can tolerate nothing that disagrees with their preconception of how the Universe ought to behave. That isn’t a good way to learn about the Universe. It’s madness.

He’s right about one thing (even a shotgun eventually gets one piece in the right place): scientists look for natural explanations. But as I like to point out, there is no such thing as the supernatural! Take, for example, ghosts: if they are real, then they are part of the natural order of things. There must be a rational and scientific explanation for them, because if they exist, they are perforce real. So there cannot be anything supernatural: if something exists, it is part of nature.

So of course scientists look for natural explanations for things. That’s the way the Universe works.

I could go on an on; his speech is so full of garbage that they should have called Mike Rowe. But I have to point out this gem he uttered when describing a public discussion over textbook adoption (again, emphasis added by me):

But I want to tell you all the arguments made by all the intelligent design group, all the creationist intelligent design people, I can guarantee the other side heard exactly nothing. They did not hear one single fact, they were not swayed by one argument.

Of that I am quite positive!

Seriously, though, this guy has to go. If you are a Texas resident, I strongly urge you to write Governor Rick Perry, and politely tell him why he needs to yank McLeroy from this position.

And of course:

Texas:

Tip o’ the mortarboard to PZ.

ADVERTISEMENT

Comments (143)

  1. I wrote Rick, so far all I’ve gotten is a form letter back saying thanks for showing concern. Hopefully enough folks will write in too, and get this dissaster turned around…

  2. edz0nk

    @ Don McLeroy:
    Please get raptured asap.

  3. DavidHW

    Partition now. Let the states that believe in science, reason, and democracy form their country, and let the states that believe in superstition, faith, and theocracy have theirs. And if you’re stuck in the latter, we’ll pay for you to re-locate.

    Seriously. I think this is a movement Brights and other Rationals should get behind.

  4. Gadren

    The only way to rectify this situation is to make acceptance of a scientific principle required in order to benefit from the fruits of that principle. For example, Creationists don’t get to use antibiotics that assume that the bacteria has evolved and adapted; PETA members can’t use medicines that have been tested on animals (some PETA members don’t, but the president of the organization does, the hypocrite); flat-earthers don’t get to use the benefits of weather satellites or airplanes.

  5. Texas is the new Kansas, apparently. I got my BS from Rice in Houston, and my PhD from UT in Austin. There are plenty of great educators, professors, and reasoning people in that state. I can only hope these ridiciculously pandering appointments lead to some outrage and change.

  6. It’s not a belief in Biblical inerrancy which is the problem. It’s the uncritical assumption of inerrancy of a specific interpretation. Religious people with sense may stick fast to their scriptures but will have the humility to reevaluate their interpretations when confronted with contrary evidence, whether that evidence comes from other parts of scripture, mathematics, or the physical world. Failure to do so leads to sin and heresy, since errors in behavior and belief will persist instead of being corrected. (Not to mention that people who make this mistake make a mockery of religion.) This isn’t just anti-science we’re talking about; it’s bad religion as well.

    Aaron Solomon Adelman, PhD
    Epidemiologist and theologian

  7. Christian Burnham

    I’m a Houston resident (but not a US citizen).

    Can someone explain the process of how people get appointed to this board? Is it a political appointment- or do citizens of TX get to vote on this?

  8. Christian Burnham

    Ah OK, I should read more closely- the governor appointed him.

  9. Sorry. No, really! Really, really sorry.

    I know you are some 5 hours (or thereabouts) behind the UK but I hadn’t realised the calendar had got so screwed up as well. It’s April 1st in America, right? It’s an April Fool’s Joke. Be honest. No?

    The website did him no favours in keeping in every “um”, “ah”, “let’s see if this works” but it wouldn’t have mattered if they’d tidied up his grammar anyway.

    I’m trying to introduce a new word into language and I think it sums up that entire “speech” – prallocks.

    He was talking prallocks – he defines what it is to be a prallock!

    There were more holes in his argument than in a Swiss cheese. I feel sorry for those for whom he represents. Probably my favourite bit was him quoting Jonathan Edwards (the English long jumper? – otherwise I don’t know who he’s referring to), who said “nothing is what sleeping rocks think of”. What do those rocks who are wide awake fuelled by some really strong coffee think of, I wonder?

    Anyway. It was a really good joke. Good job this guy isn’t for real otherwise we are all up a certain proverbial creek without a proverbial paddle.

  10. Christian Burnham

    From http://dmcleroy.home.att.net/Textbooks/Historical_Reality.htm

    The entire crux of the evolution debate hinges on whether “descent from a common ancestor”, like the heliocentric theory of Copernicus, is accepted as a historical reality, or as only a hypothesis.

    This analysis has argued that it is only a hypothesis, and a shaky one at that.

    Therefore,

    · I urge board members to carefully consider the argument of this analysis and in spite of the overwhelming scientific experts’ opinions, consider what the overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrates, and insist that “common descent” be portrayed as a hypothesis in the textbooks.

    · I also urge the board to reject any book that portrays descent with modification from a common ancestor as a fact.

    · I also appeal to the publishers to incorporate in the texts the many reasons for the distinction.

  11. Christian Burnham

    Let’s Digg this one up mmmkay?

  12. Thanks for posting about this issue again Phil.

    I just wanted to say that Texas isn’t really, really doomed ( or even just, doomed). McLeroy was defeated last time he attempted to get “criticisms of evolution”/ID included in the public curriculum, and even though he has few more fundies this time around, the creationists are still outweighed by the rest of the Board members.
    A few people here at the University of Texas (my univ) are already organizing a bit just in case. If my biology department has to testify against creationism at the textbooks hearings, then we’ll be there.

  13. bigjohn

    My letter to Gov. Perry:

    Please reconsider your appointment of Don McLeroy to head The Texas Board of Education. This is a serious mistake. Texas education in in major trouble already and Don McLeroy will make it much worse. Teaching Texas children the ridiculous ideas held by Mr. McLeroy will handicap them for the remainder of their lives. It will limit their choice of colleges and it will limit their ability to cope in an increasingly complex world. We need to teach our children the facts of life not the unproven dogma of fundamentalist Christianity.

  14. Stark

    “What do those rocks who are wide awake fuelled by some really strong coffee think of, I wonder?”

    Coffee exited from an inappropriate place upon reading that. I’d been getting more and more depressed by this sort of thing.. so thank-you Selina for making me laugh about it!

    Writing letters to Gov. Perry is all good and well… but letters alone are actually quite easy to ignore. They run through the shredder quite readily. Still, do write them… but also e-mail him, fax him, and call him. Get everyone you know to call him – daily – until he changes things. Write up a form e-mail and a form letter that you can give to other folks to simply sign and send (many folks will help but only if it takes minimal effort on their part – apathy is a common human affliction). It seems like a lot of effort, but really, it will take less than 5 minutes of your day to call him and re-send the e-mail you’ve sent already. After all, the squeaky wheel tends to get the grease… so squeak loud and long.

    Here’s everything you’ll need to contact him:

    Citizen’s Opinion Hotline: (800) 252-9600
    [for Texas callers]

    Citizen’s Assistance and Opinion Hotline: (512) 463-1782
    [for Austin, Texas and out-of-state callers]

    Office of the Governor Main Switchboard: (512) 463-2000

    Office of the Governor Fax: (512) 463-1849

    Mailing Address
    Office of the Governor
    P.O. Box 12428
    Austin, Texas 78711-2428

    All of this is publically available information (So make use of it!) which I found here: http://www.governor.state.tx.us/contact

  15. Pleco

    I think Spongebob sums it up nicely from the episode “Texas”:

    Spongebob: What am I?
    Patrick: Stupid?
    Spongebob: No, Texas!
    Patrick: What’s the difference?

  16. This is what happens when we elect a religious extremist, and when Congress allows him to treat separation of church and state as a mere suggestion.

  17. Elf Eye

    Selina Morse, the Jonathan Edwards he was quoting is Jonathan Edwards the younger, son of Jonathan Edwards the elder who was an 18th century American Calvinist preacher whose sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” is often included in literature anthologies. Jonathan Edwards the younger was a theologian and linguist who became president of Union College. He lived from 1745-1801.

    “When we Go About to form an idea of Perfect nothing we must shut Out all these things we must shut out of our minds both space that has something in it and space that has nothing in it we must not allow our selves to think of the least part of space never so small, nor must we suffer our thoughts to take sanctuary in a mathematical point, when we Go to Expell emptiness from Our thoughts we must not think to squeese it out by any thing Close hard and solid but we must think of the same that the sleeping Rocks Dream of and not till then shall we Get a Compleat idea of nothing.”

    Jonathan Edwards, from Of Being

  18. DrFlimmer

    I am happy. I am so happy! For being a European (German exactly) and not having such stupid problems (there are other ones of course 😉 )!
    God, damn it. America is really the country where everything is possible, even madness! April Fools Day? Hopefully! As more as I am reading Phils comments about this specific topic I am getting more and more upset with it – it cannot be possible.

    I am so happy and I feel very sorry for you!

  19. Thanks Elf Eye. I’d not heard of this Jonathan Edwards. The one I was referring to won the gold medal at the 2000(?) olympics triple jump and is a frequent broadcaster on religious television programmes in the UK these days.

    I can fully understand the concern you all have with this issue. In the UK we have recently had the debacle of an inquiry into “cash for peerages” – in which, it was alleged – if you donate a large amount of money to the governing political party of the day, you can be assured of a place in one of our 2 legislative bodies. It seems that, in certain States (and please forgive me if I get this wrong – American politics is very much my weak suit) that if you say the correct things, and uphold a doctrine sanctioned from on high, you will be elevated and can subsequently increase that impetus. The political runaway greenhouse effect!

    I really hope common sense will prevail. History suggests I am forlorn in this hope, because common sense is often the antithesis of politics.

    On the bright side, anyone producing “I told you so” t-shirts will make a fortune.

  20. Bill

    Not is Texas doomed, but most of the school systems in the country. They usually purchase the textbooks that are used in Texas.

  21. Bill

    Not only is Texas doomed, but most of the school systems in the country. They usually purchase the textbooks that are used in Texas.

  22. Amy

    I’ll admit that many Christians don’t really care what science says, but as a Christian and a former science major (though not a scientist by any means), I would like to say that not everyone thinks that way. However, people who assume that science “obviously” shows deep facts should look into history. Scientists who saw “obvious” facts in the past were often mistaken–and a lot of times it wasn’t because they were putting religion first, which is the cop out excuse a lot of anti-Christian historians use. We are all trying to put the pieces together. It is no better for an atheist to scorn a Christian for trying to put the pieces together in a way that is consistent with his core beliefs than it is for a Christian to do the same thing to the athiest. There are going to be some things we don’t agree about, but that doesn’t change the fact that scorn doesn’t help anything.
    I personally don’t believe or disbelieve evolution. I acknowledge that I have to do some studying on my own in order to sort things out, because you will always find slanted information, whether from the Creation Research Institute or from leading scientists in the world. My concern is that you find it so easy to laugh at someone, who finds it really easy to laugh at you. Maybe we should stop laughing and start talking.

  23. I think that both sides have a spotless machine that they are trying to defend (blind faith vs. the scientific method). Science’s spotless machine works a hell of a lot better.

  24. Christian Burnham

    Amy: Christians deserve scorn when they try to insert their ridiculous fairy tale explanations into the education system.

  25. Quiet_Desperation

    >>> I am happy. I am so happy! For being a
    >>> European and not having such stupid problems

    Yeah, yeah… how are those marauding Muslim rape gangs coming along?

    >>> (there are other ones of course 😉 )!

    Oh, well, OK. :)

    Cite:
    http://fjordman.blogspot.com/2005/02/muslim-rape-epidemic-in-sweden-and.html

  26. Chip

    Until the creationist-intelligent design superstition is removed from the curriculum and texts of educational institutions within the State of Texas, I will not hire college graduates in any field from the State of Texas. Neither will my company do any business with any commercial, governmental or private customer located in Texas.

    Unfair? Maybe, but there you are. (I’m just one guy but perhaps we could work this statement up into bigger companies.)

  27. Chip, can you cite something that says creationism/intelligent design is, in fact, part of Texas’s public curriculum?

  28. Amy, evolution is not for you to “believe” or “disbelieve”; it is unlike religious dogma in that it is based on empirical, scientific evidence obtained over many, many years. Evolution is not a belief system, it is for all intents and purposes solid, scientific fact. You may choose to accept it, such as the heliocentric solar system and the spherical earth, or you may choose to stick your head in the sand and believe that we are some sort of creation of some higher power which no one seems to be able to locate. Until the religious folk produce scientific, testable theories coupled with evidence, they will have no place in reality with the rest of us.

    Sorry if I sound bitter, but recently I was informed that I would not be given a position due to my lack of a belief in god. Needless to say, I’ve filed papers with the EEOC and a lawsuit, so my level of tolerance is quite low right now.

  29. Chip

    Chris Harrisonon wrote:

    “Chip, can you cite something that says creationism/intelligent design is, in fact, part of Texas’s public curriculum?”

    ===================

    Chris –
    If it becomes. (Don McLeroy, a creationist was appointed by the Texas governor to be head the Texas State Board of Education.)

  30. Buzz Parsec

    I thought it might be the 3rd Jonathan Edwards, an American folkrocker who had a couple of FM hits in the early 70’s (Shanty, Sunshine, etc.). I saw him once, opening for Jerry Garcia at the Boston Music Hall, about 1980 or so… He put on a great show. According to his web site, he’s playing a preacher in the upcoming movie “Chatham”.

    As to the importance of the Texas BoE, a few states, including Texas, select approved text books at the state level, that all public schools must use. One result of this system is the Texas Schoolbook Depository, a building many conspiracy theorists are familiar with. Another result is that Texas is a huge single buyer market for school books, so many publishers specifically target it. Because of the way the schoolbook market works, if you can sell to Texas, you’ll probably sell to lots of other school systems as well, and if you are locked out of Texas, you’ll probably at the very least have to charge more for your book (due to economies of scale) and thus price yourself out of other markets as well. So Texas has a disproportionate influence on the content of textbooks nationally. (I think California has a similar system, but they don’t purchase centrally, instead just making a list of approved texts that the local school boards can select from. In the past, I think California has used its somewhat lesser power to try to counteract some of Texas’s extremism. Someone from California can surely support or correct me on this.)

    Most states leave school book purchase solely up to the local school boards, so individually they have much less clout.

    All the free market libertarians out there should be lambasting Texas… :-)

  31. Oh Phil,

    Why must you be so mean to Mike Rowe? Even he has to draw the line somewhere.

  32. Any mention of the word doomed cannot be complete without Senor Bender Bending Rodriguez…

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=F8s7dz2qanA
    http://youtube.com/watch?v=bKb7hEpjyjc

  33. Chesterton’s comment was a matter of comparing a non-fundamentalist type of Christianity to atheism.

    In other words, it has no bearing on a controversy between fundamentalist Christianity and scientific theories that have no logical connection with atheism.

  34. Sweet Stephen Colbert, Texas is in trouble.
    Which is a problem for me especially, being a student in the Texas school systems.

  35. bad Jim

    I want to take issue with the Bad Astronomer’s take on the supernatural. Science deals with whatever can be treated practically, and in its infancy it was apt to perform experiments in supernatural as well as natural domains. So far it seems that supernatural phenomena, for all practical purposes, do not exist. Reality has a natural bias.

    There are good theoretical reasons to think that no one could predict the future in non-trivial detail, and so the ability to do so could be considered supernatural and could also be investigated scientifically. Needless to say there is as yet no evidence for it, notwithstanding the popularity of astrologers and psychics.

  36. jrkeller

    DrFlimmer,

    Europe, and Germany in particular, sure has had some wonderful intellectual movements, like Fascism, and the great German inventions of Nazism and Communism.

    Thank God my grandparents left the Germany before the WW I.

  37. jrkeller

    Chip,

    You have obviously never looked at a textbook from Texas. I have, because I have three children in the Texas schools right now. And contrary to all the claims of Texas being doomed and creationism entering the classroom, it hasn’t happened and isn’t happening. I have NEVER seen one word in a book, a hand out or anything else that’s related to any religion or any sort of creator. In sixth grade science last year, one of my son’s science units was on geology. No mention of Earth being 6000 years old, only that the formation of rocks takes millions of years. The only remotely politcal thing that has happened in the past year is that they showed Al Gore’s film in some high school science classes.

  38. -kf

    So let’s see if I get this straight… You believe Don McLeroy must go, not because he lacks qualifications for the job or for personal misconduct, but for his beliefs. Yes, this is entirely objective. You evidently do not care if he can do the job satisfactorily, as you have predetermined that because he believes differently regarding the origins of the universe, he is disqualified for the position he was appointed to.

    Evidently the matter of origins *is* a matter of debate as the amount of criticism of the theory of evolution is growing and the amount of evidence that supposedly proves what no one was alive to see is either being refuted or determined to be inconclusive. With the Creation Museum having opened in Greater Cincinnati, the fear and consternation of those who espouse the dogma of billions of years and macro-evolution is evident. Creationists within the scientific community are becoming more bold in speaking out and the debate is not about to happen, it already has.

    Deal with it.

  39. John Phillips

    Selina: You will be glad to know that Jonathan (the triple jumper that is) is no longer a believer. Then again, maybe you won’t be glad, though I might be being a bit unfair to you there as you came across as someone willing to let others make their own decisions in your other posts even though you are a xtian :)

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/more_sport/athletics/article1991114.ece

  40. Chip

    Thanks jrkeller – though your political sentiments are rather transparent. 😉

  41. bjswift

    Phil, you’re my anti-antiscience hero.

  42. sailor

    jrkelleron “Europe, and Germany in particular, sure has had some wonderful intellectual movements, like Fascism, and the great German inventions of Nazism and Communism.”

    Um, I cannot find anyone defending Nazism, Fascism or Communism here. They are evil and I am sure they would be condemmned by everybody here. So, what’s your point? The fact is that *today* European countries are much more enlightened and tolerant than America in this respect. We all condemn the Germany of 60 years ago which was a dogmatic country bent on world domination but that is not Germany today. That description today fits America much better and that is what is being criticised here: not America but what America is doing *now*. If the American people were to become as tolerant as Europeans then that criticism would disappear.

  43. jrkeller

    Chip,

    And those would be what?

  44. Tom Epps

    Phil Plait: the Anti-dumb!

  45. John,

    Thanks for that. I’d heard a rumour but hadn’t seen the article.

    It’s true that I am a Christian and it’s also true that I studied Astronomy, Astrophysics and Mathematics at University. I can quite happily reconcile these sciences with religion without needing to adhere to some of the (somewhat loopy) ideas often found on these pages regarding the age of the universe – how easily they accept as literal the ideas in a metaphorical text rather than hard evidence gathered by many people of many religions and scientific backgrounds over many years.

    I also believe everyone has the right to make their own decisions – otherwise free will would not be free at all. We would all be mere puppets with our futures mapped out. You wouldn’t judge a train guilty of an offence for going to Boston rather than New York because it is controlled by where the rails are laid. Similarly, if free will does not exist, it would be unjust of a loving God to condemn anyone for following the paths he pre-ordained.

    That being said, I have no qualms with stating what my beliefs are. You can agree or disagree with me. And you may be surprised to find that I agree with many of yours.

    It’s entirely up to the individual.

    I, like many others on this blog, find intolerence in other peoples beliefs hard to tolerate. (I also find it hard to believe that these people are reading the same Bible or praying to the same God as I do.) It has often seemed to me that such people have a very superficial understanding of what they profess to believe and have not actually challenged it by asking the more difficult questions. Looking at many of their replies, it is (not) surprising how many times it all comes down to “It says so in the Bible”.

    Isn’t it ironic how often those who are not experts are totally convinced that the experts are wrong?

  46. Craig

    Are you trying to infer that all scientists are materialists?

  47. John

    Early Xian scripture stated God came to Earth and created from what was here, just as all other ancient text that the bible and torah ripped off.

    The sumerians had it right. We were created as a slave race by aliens who share our image. We were made smart enough to take instruction, but not as smart as our maker. The gods kept that knowledge from us (Tree of life).

    *

  48. Christian Burnham

    Kewl. Dugg up to the front page. Thanks Diggers.

    Seems like half the posts are pointing out my howler in the Digg title- I wrote ‘no-nothing’ instead of ‘know-nothing’. I’m unapologetic. It’s quite easy to make phonetic substitutions by accident when typing in a rush- and there’s no way of editing my mistakes in any case.

  49. Gary Ansorge

    Mysticism is a discipline that teaches that the direct apprehension of the “god effect” is possible but like spearing fish in murky water is difficult and oft times a totally random endeavor. I used to have a poster of an Incan or possibly Myan sitting on a rock, looking up with an expression of ecstasy(possibly religious/spiritual). Carved around the base of the pedestal were images of,,,magic mushrooms. The implication being that this was the source of that beings expression. It is likely no accident that the rise of woo-wooism is a direct expression of a search for that feeling of ecstatic excitement, something sorely lacking in established religions. One should read this as “Religion: that which promises much and delivers little.” Religions appear to be an effort to recapture the experience of one person and spread it to many, an effort doomed to failure, for a dogmatic recapitulation of one persons journey rarely succeeds in replicating that persons experience. Why? Because each of us is unique and our life experience has so many variables that even a (64 bit)quantum computer would be unable to calculate the interaction of all those variables.

    The rational/materialist path to enlightenment may eventually enable us to understand what the mystic directly experiences and we will know if there IS a WHY but I expect that particular journey will take a very long time. Which is way cool! The long path allows us the time to digest this experience, savor its many implications and truly understand it. If there IS an esoteric aspect to reality, we must be able to delineate and define it. Then we can replicate it and deliver on the promises of religion, even to(possibly) recovering the dead and creating new universes compatible with the emergence of sentience.

    ,,,but, that’s just science for you, in which all that is possible will (eventually) happen and be understood. None of that potential can be realized if research is blocked by the cry;”But that’s the prerogative of God,,,”. Especially since no one has any idea what God might really be,,,

    Gary 7

  50. ross

    “If you are a Texas resident, I strongly urge you to write Governor Rick Perry, and politely tell him why he needs to yank McLeroy from this position.”

    Already did after your first post, and I got a letter from his office:

    “Dear Mr. [removed]:

    Thank you for contacting the Office of the Governor regarding your concern with Dr. Don McLeroy’s judgment and qualifications to serve as Chair of the Texas Board of Education.

    Governor Perry appreciates your participation in the appointments process and thanks you for bringing this to our attention.

    Sincerely,
    Dede Keith
    Administration and Constituent Services
    Office of the Governor”

    Obviously an aide responding, but I’m impressed that they actually read the letter and it wasn’t just a completely copy-pasted form letter response (just partially). I don’t know that it’ll make a difference, and I’m not surprised to have gotten a response (I’ve done this sort of thing before), but at least someone read the letter and knew what I was asking for.

  51. On your note about toleration you say he is exactly backwards. Even in saying that, you representing science in this debate, can not tolerate another persons point of view. Please don’t idly throw words around like toleration, you need to take a step back and look at this whole thing move objectively. Before proclaiming Texas is doomed why don’t you think about how other people feel on this subject. Could Texas not seem equally doomed if a man who strongly believes in evolution got appointed to the same position. Never assume you are right as every human being is susceptible to being wrong. My opinion is that all concepts of origin should be presented leaving students with an unbiased education and the ability to think for themselves.

  52. Julian Williams

    Phil,

    I feel for your soul brother; you are now in my daily prayers.

    May God bless you and enlighten you to the world which you can not see.

  53. Seriously, people like McElroy that scare the hell out of me. Hundreds of years of painstaking scientific progress are under threat in this country.

  54. ross

    Sorry for the double-post, but I should add that I used the words “judgment” and “qualifications” when describing his lack of competence to fill the position in my letter. I wish I had saved a copy of my original letter, but since it was sent via a form on his website and not an email, and I forgot to copy-paste it, I lost it. Hence my conclusion that the letter was actually read, or at least skimmed.

  55. TheBlackCat

    I would have to disagree with everyone here. This could very easily by a very, very good thing. After the Dover trial it was obvious that the two-model system the Discovery Institute was pushing was dead. With a trial like that it would never survive a supreme court challenge if it came. So instead of pushing through to the supreme court, they once again revised Pandas to eliminate any mention of Intelligent Design, and proceeded to the “teach the controversy” plan we all new they had waiting (it was even mentioned in the Dover trial).

    Now the DI did not have much going for them in that case, but one of the more serious problems they had was the obvious religious reasons for instituting the DI’s plan at that school district. The school district members were on record plainly stating the religious reasons for what they did. They had no chance of success with that, no matter how hard the DI tried to hide their own religious intentions (and they honestly didn’t try that hard).

    We are seeing the same thing happening here. This guy is supporting the “teach the controversy” model because he knows that all of the previous tactics used (banning evolution, teaching creationism, teaching creation “science”, and teaching Intelligent Design) have been ruled unconstitutional by the supreme court. But he is on record in numerous places stating his explicit religious reasons for his support of “teach the controversy”.

    “Teach the controversy” is particularly insidious because it relies solely on lies and misrepresentation of evolution, it doesn’t mention anything resembling a deity explicitly. All previous version of creationism, including ID, did and thus were unconstitutional on their own merits (although they tried to hide it more and more). But “teach the controversy”, although done for religious reasons and having no scientific merit whatsoever, also lacks much, if any, explicitly religious content, either.

    The lemon test, the rule U.S. courts use for checking Establishment Clause violations, checks three things:

    1. The government’s action must have a legitimate secular purpose;
    2. The government’s action must not have the primary effect of either advancing or inhibiting religion;
    3. The government’s action must not result in an “excessive government entanglement” with religion.

    At least one of those “prongs”, as they are called, must be broken for something to be ruled a breach of the first amendment. Now if someone implements the “tech the controversy” model who does not have obvious religious intentions, then it could be very hard to establish any one of those prongs being violated. However, this guy is quite plainly stating he is violating prongs 2 and 3, and scientists will be able to make a strong case about violating the first as well since “teach the controversy” as the creationists implement it has no scientific merit.

    The fact is we are going to face a court case on the “teach the controversy” model sooner or later. The DI is putting all their efforts behind it. My greatest fear was that the DI was going to find a good person to implement it, someone who has successfully hidden their religious intentions, or had been fooled by the DI into thinking there are none, and we would lose the court case.

    What is more, probably due to their obvious religious intentions, most of the DI gang backed out of the Dover trial, leaving Behe to pretty much fend for himself. If the DI are as cowardly this time as they were then they are unlikely to get beyond perhaps some friend-of-the-court briefs. Behe’s latest book will be torn to shreds in court, as it already has been on the web, and in fact in the book he moved to an even more explicitly religious version of ID. He already suffered terribly at the Dover trial. Demski has mostly stopped hiding his religious goals. Their one tenure-track faculty member lost his tenure case because he didn’t have any funding. DI is in a bad position right now. They may be a bit more eager to get involved this time merely because they are running out of options, but I wouldn’t count on it since they are pretty cowardly.

    Yeah, I agree it would be nice if we didn’t have these problems at all, but we do. We have to make the most of the circumstances we are in. Given that we are going to have to face this issue in court sooner or later, I can’t imagine a better person to implement it. I don’t see any possible way someone could give us a better advantage in court than this guy.

  56. Greg S

    Both science and spirituality require humility to be involved if there is to be any forward movement.

    A recent article –

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/08/09/tech/main3151006.shtml

    indicates that neither has all of the answers. God is too big for the human mind to comprehend and there are many interpretations of the Bible. Faith is belief in things unseen and that which cannot be proven.

    Science will continue to revise theories as evidence appears, but the evidence must be tangible to convert a theory to a fact.

    These two different mindsets will continue to have difficulty in coinciding.

  57. I love that he quotes GKC – a brilliant writer, but possibly the single most wrong human being to have ever lived. We’re talking about a guy who converted *to* Catholicism, presumably because he was worried that he wasn’t already wrong enough.

  58. la Contessa

    I think the commentary the author offers on these comments are taken out of context. The point McLeroy is trying to make is that creationists can incorporate elements of evolution into their views without changing their basic beliefs, but evolution theorists cannot add elements of creation without discrediting themselves. While the point that anything that does exist must be “natural” is a response to the evolution theorists (i.e. if creationists are correct about, say, a deity, that deity is a “natural” occurrence and should be considered a valid piece of evolution theory), it is largely superfluous. I would suggest that the majority of evolution supporters (not everyone who supports evolution is a scientist, by the way) are EQUALLY

  59. I like to engage in a vigorous exchange of ideas with pithy slogans, witty posters, and charming bumper stickers. To wit:

    http://www.worldofdreamers.com/images/evolution.jpg

  60. la Contessa

    I think the commentary the author offers on these comments are taken out of context. The point McLeroy is trying to make is that creationists can incorporate elements of evolution into their views without changing their basic beliefs, but evolution theorists cannot add elements of creation without discrediting themselves. While the point that anything that does exist must be “natural” is a response to the evolution theorists (i.e. if creationists are correct about, say, a deity, that deity is a “natural” occurrence and should be considered a valid piece of evolution theory), it is largely superfluous. I would suggest that the majority of evolution supporters are just as obstinate in refusing to consider seemingly supernatural causes because they cannot be tested by science (even if, as the author states, they are in fact “natural”) as creationists are in refusing to remove those so-called supernatural causes. The author’s frustration with a refusal to identify potentially existing forces as also potentially natural forces is better directed at evolution theorists–perhaps he should also explore why alleged scientists are so quick to adamantly discount possible causes in the absence of evidence either way.

    Regardless of the INTENT, I see no reason why teaching controversies in schools is a bad thing. Who cares what the people who thought up the policy felt, as long as both sides are presented? Why insulate students from critical thinking? It seems silly to deny the existance of a counter-argument on any topic, not just evolution–and it also seems contrary to the mission of schools. It does not educate students to read them statements, call the statements facts, and refuse to tell the students that a lot of people thnk those statements are wrong.

  61. Jason

    You have some good thoughts in your article, but you made this statement:

    “There must be a rational and scientific explanation for them, because if they exist, they are perforce real.”

    Science depends almost 100% on perceivable data to be able to label something as X or Y or real. Now that perception is human perception. Be it using one of the 5 senses or mathematics or even using special instruments. Regardless of that, we are dependent on being able to perceive something to be able to test it. Yet humans cannot even SEE the 3rd dimension. I mean, we can perceive it. Take for example the monitor you are using for your computer. Can you tell me its exact depth? No, you can’t measure depth unless you move to a different side. We can measure up and down and left and right in inches or meters or feet or whatever, but without moving around an object, you cannot measure the depth of it. That’s because we only perceive the 3rd dimension, we cannot “SEE” it. And by my certain knowledge, there are 11 mathematically “provable” dimensions. Those dimensions are real ONLY on paper. We cannot even begin to perceive those types of things. Even when we want to…we have to sort of translate it into 2d or 3d on paper…which really makes it only 2d. Isn’t is safe to say that since humans are so limited in WHAT they are even capable of perceiving, that there might be something beyond their own ability to perceive, even in their own minds?

    Just a thought.

  62. empiric

    “Fundamentalists, creationists, are exactly the opposite: they read the Bible, assume it’s inerrant, and discard every explanation and every observation that disagrees. ”

    Another clear, blatantly false generalization.

    That’s blatantly -false-, as in far removed from the most basic scientific endeavor, as in also far removed from the careful contemplation of the physical-vs-metaphysical domains -most- “creationists” (a formally-invalid-per-Aristotle term, combining disparate premises in one concept, by the way) actually engage in.

    How does anyway take this blog seriously, on the level of philosophy of science or even basic, simple honesty, anyway?

  63. Peter

    For the folks who have trouble acknowledging the science of evolution, please visit http://talkorigins.org, and peruse the many FAQs.

  64. Peptron

    Something I think is funny is that when I was in high school we DID learn about how to have abstinence-sex. That is, practice abstinence and STILL have sex. From what I understand they aren’t really proning abstinence from conception, but abstinence from “any sexual relation”.

    Basically, the premise was that if you don’t want to have a child, the male organ must not go in the female organ. That is all. It is still very possible to have sex, there are myriads of things you can still do.

    From what I understand this is not what they mean by “abstinence only sex”. I think it’s more along the lines of “If you don’t want to grow fat, abstain form eating.”, “If you want to avoid spam in your emails, abstain from using emails.”, “If you don’t want to have a car accident, abstain from riding/having contact with cars.”

  65. not-empiric

    @empiric–

    Creationists fight tooth and nail against the Theory of Evolution — Yes or No.

    The answer: Yes.

    Why? Beats me. They must be finding something in the bible that is inerrant because anyone who *actually* understands the scientific process wouldn’t waste their time with Creationism.

  66. empiric

    “He’s right about one thing (even a shotgun eventually gets one piece in the right place): scientists look for natural explanations. But as I like to point out, there is no such thing as the supernatural! Take, for example, ghosts: if they are real, then they are part of the natural order of things. There must be a rational and scientific explanation for them, because if they exist, they are perforce real. So there cannot be anything supernatural: if something exists, it is part of nature.”

    Congratulations, you know how to equivocate on the term “supernatural”. All you’ve done here is assert you and your hypothetical-debate-opponent-you-parasitically-need-to-be-around that you and he define “natural”, “supernatural”, and “reality” differently. You’ve simply asserted “natural” (by which you mean tautologically equivalent to “reality”) is “reality” and therefore there’s no “supernatural”. Most, however, do not mean “supernatural” as “not conceivably natural”, but as “not being a part of the systematic order as typically perceived”.

    “There must be a rational and scientific explanation for them, because if they exist, they are perforce real.”

    This is extraordinarily weak. There must be such an explanation -presently-, or -in theory-? If you mean the former, that is simply untrue for the majority of domains of science. We know, for instance, that there are empirical behavioral phenomena in psychopharmacology for which we -don’t have- such an explanation on the level of all attributes of the specific, exhaustive biochemical components. It may fully be that a present model would -have to be expanded- to what is not currently in the present domain of perception or understanding, and hence not in what is currently the content of understanding of the “natural” domain. Should that happen, as it has many times in the sciences, we wouldn’t say “oh, we discovered that stuff that we know doesn’t exist exists”, we’d say we -recognized- additional factors a being in the domain of science. This would have -zero- impact on the actual -truth or falsehood- of the concepts that you’re playing categorical semantic games with. Again, you’re equivocating “science” all over the place; apparently it means “what we know now”, “what we will ever know”, and/or “a particular unspecified methodology as applied now or later” according to what fits your rhetorical purposes.

    Sigh.

  67. david

    JRKeller,

    “I have NEVER seen one word in a book, a hand out or anything else that’s related to any religion or any sort of creator”
    “The only remotely politcal thing that has happened in the past year is that they showed Al Gore’s film in some high school science classes.”
    So, since you haven’t seen it, it doesn’t exist? Here are a few links to some religious/political things in Tejas.

    http://www.aclu.org/religion/schools/index.html
    http://www.abpnews.com/1364.article
    http://pewforum.org/news/display.php?NewsID=13651
    http://www.texscience.org/religion/hb3678-commentary.htm
    http://pewforum.org/news/display.php?NewsID=5955

    It may not completely be here yet, but it’s trying it’s darndest.
    Oh and a quick check on Google of “Birth of Communism” gave this as the first entry. How fitting!

  68. This is a test using a dial up rather than my broadband

  69. david

    Sorry,
    Second try!
    “Birth of Communism” first entry in Google. http://www.greaterthings.com/Books/Vision/Temporal/Ch-6_Past_2nd-Gath/Communism_birth.htm
    If that doesn’t work, just look up the first entry.

  70. NICER ways to say someone is stupid: the wheel’s spinning but the hamster’s dead…. body by Fisher, brains by Mattel… This guy and his talk is nonsense! I don’t need to convince anyone about that. Ah, and about his ideas… as bright ideas go, this guy’s right up there with having my gums extracted before a chewing contest.

  71. empiric

    “not-empiric”

    The answer is: absolutely not.

    The -majority- of “creationists” (again, this is a deliberately-deceptive lame term intended to straw-man a bunch of unrelated concepts together) do -not- “fight tooth and nail against evolution”. Evolution -happens-, that few “creationists” deny. What they do deny is the notion that -only- evolution by random mutation happens, ever, and this is a wholly-exhaustive explanation of origins. Often, “evolution” is equivocated to -imply- the latter meaning (in actuality embedding a non-scientific non-sequitur) which is why, to avoid the reactionary response Digg and this site feeds off of, a theist’s first step should be to parse exactly what premises are being discussed by the term “evolution”.

    Even, say, Behe fully agrees with the notion evolution -happens-. It’s the “only evolution happens”, which is the logical fallacy you wish you could infer, but isn’t possible even given the truth of the former statement, that’s the problem.

  72. Stark

    Empiric, I think it is perhaps you who have your defintions askew.

    Supernatural — From Latin : super= exceeds, natural = nature.

    So, exceeding nature is the meaning of the word. In other words, outside the realm of natural occurrence and unexplainable by any natural phenomenon.

    As opposed to “not being a part of the systematic order as typically perceived” which would be more accurately represented by the phrase “extra natural”. Extra : beyond or more than what is usual, or expected.
    Or, if you prefer, you could use paranormal. Para meaning beyond. Still, your definition of supernatural is not the one you’d likely find any dictionary

  73. Robert Mark White

    I am a Texan Born and raised. I am outraged and embarrassed by the governor’s actions. I used the link provided to express my concerns to the Governor. I hope he sees the outrage of Texan’s and reverses himself on this one. One can only hope. Texas has always been an example of the best and brightest of these United States of America, up until now. I can only hang my head in shame as a Texan.

  74. Stark

    Empiric,

    You keep mentioning origin… of what? Species or life? I suspect from your phrasing that you mean life… which evolution makes no claims about whatsoever.

    As for the supposed logical fallacy of only evolution happens… I don’t think you’ll find many scientists willing to say that evolution is the only possible mechanism for speciation. What you WILL find is that they require that any competing or complementary system suggested needs to have strong supporting evidence behind it – just as evolution does. If there was ANY evidence whatsoever, and there isn’t, to support creationist claims you would see much wider respect for the idea. What passes for evidence in creationist ideas is either arguments from authority (the Bible says so!! ) or arguments from, and I’ll be generous here, ignorance. The second is nicely demonstrated by the fallacious concept of irreducible complexity and the oft touted (and even more oft debunked) no transitional fossils argument.

    Also, if you think that evolution postulates that the only mechanism for speciation is random mutation then you need to crack open a book or two on the subject because that is just plain wrong.

  75. Texas Aggie

    Dear Gov. Perry,

    I am a Christian and a lifelong Texan and Aggie like yourself. That being said, quit screwing up my state and my home! Please stop attempting to force your extremist ideas on the young minds of tomorrow. I’m not worried for my own mental well-being, but for the children whose heads will be filled with biased and close-minded arguments, and whose future could suffer as a result. Regardless, there will always be educators in this state who are fighting the good fight. Your tactics will fail, and reason will prevail.

    Sincerely,
    a concerned Texan

  76. Chris

    @not-empiric–
    Why? Beats me. They must be finding something in the bible that is inerrant because anyone who *actually* understands the scientific process wouldn’t waste their time with Creationism.
    —————————-
    Isn’t this whole blog entry about Evolutionists fighting tooth and nail against the teaching of Creatioinism?

    Which would make the statement “They can’t tolerate anything. We can tolerate a lot, but they can’t tolerate anything. ” fairly hypocritical.

    Speaking to anyone strickly a rationalist, it is mathmaticaly impossible to be confident in your knowledge of the world and universe, given the scope of data available.

  77. matt

    Sure, many of your ramblings have a decent point. I think the major problem here is that the government is in charge of education. Privatize all schools, and the debate would be over, Creationists can go to their school, evolutionists to their’s. Publically controlled education will always lead to this “argument” as you won’t be happy with a creationist in charge, and the creationists will not be happy when you are in charge. The solution… let every school decide what they want to.

  78. anthropicOne

    Evolution belongs in a science class. It’s a theory based on scientific methodologies.

    ID (a.k.a. Creationism) belongs in a religion class. There is NO scientific basis for it; it’s premise is based upon scripture, not scientific evidence.

    At the heart of this entire issue is -fear-. I’ll go out on a limb here: Creationists simply cannot accept the possibility that:

    – There is no such thing as a “soul”.
    – That one’s consciousness does not continue after death.
    – That the universe really does not care about “us”
    – That a small mammal has as much right to exist as “we” do (there is nothing, apart from cognition and a biologically more developed brain, that separates us from other animals – accept, perhaps, unbelievable arrogance).
    – That the universe does not owe us any “meaning”; “meaning” is what we bring to our lives, culture, and societies.

    This fear is just too shocking to handle, so fairy tales are spun to explain it all.

    My take as far as education goes: Spin all of the tales you want, just categorize it properly. Keep Creationism out of science because it is NOT science. Period.

  79. not-empiric

    @empiric–

    On the contrary they enjoy breaking evolution up into two realms: macro and micro. They can’t argue micro because we see it happen *constantly*. It’s the cross species evolution that they fight tooth and nail against. Sorry I wasn’t more explicit.

    And if there is any other better explanation for our origins — cough it up, but don’t expect serious consideration unless you are proposing something that can be analyzed with evidence.

    Remember this is about science: parsimonious, simple, verifiable (measurably).

    PS

    Invisible purple bunnies created mankind. Now disprove me. (Hint: You can’t!) …The onus is on those who want to be taken seriously to come out with independently verifiable ideas.

  80. Pfhreak

    “Partition now. Let the states that believe in science, reason, and democracy form their country, and let the states that believe in superstition, faith, and theocracy have theirs. And if you’re stuck in the latter, we’ll pay for you to re-locate.” — DavidHW

    http://www.andreaharner.com/archives/UnitedStatesnewmap.jpg

  81. Noah Vale

    Ahh, the age old debate! Science and religion do cover different parts of existence, but do tend to bump into each other on the edges. The theory of evolution is, technically, a theory. Evolution is obviously real in cases we can observe, flies and birds and so on, we can observe it. Evolution on a larger scale, over millions of years, we obviously cannot directly observe. We can extrapolate a lot and get an good idea of what happened, but everyday we learn a little more and adjust a little bit. It is not a law, like the law of gravity. Gravity is very observable and experiments can be repeated over and over with predictable results. Evolution is VERY complex and VERY long term, and on the large scale you can’t perform reproduceable experiments.
    Just yesterday, I read that Homo erectus and Homo habilis lived at the same time, at least part of the timeframes they were alive overlap. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070808/ap_on_sc/human_evolution;_ylt=AqoiqlTTX_qpSKd8iY7c_K0PLBIF. Previously, it was presumed that Homo erectus evolved from Homo habilis.
    Our knowledge and ideas about evolution are always being refined and adjusted, and there is nothing wrong with that. That is science; it is the ongoing pursuit of knowledge of the physical world. Scientific theories should be questioned: if the theory is valid, questioning strengthens it. Or refines it. Or displays the flaws that need corrected. Or disproves it.
    Science, or more correctly peoples’ misuse of science, has become increasingly dogmatic. Some theories appear to be more belief systems or religions than theories. (There MUST be one grand equation that defines EVERYTHING! Uhh, why? You MUST believe what I say because I say it is scientific fact, or you are stupid, corrupt, or worthless! Uhh, no.)

  82. VisionEngineer

    Along with “bad jim”, I have to take issue with BA’s take on the super-natural. Science is a type of natural philosopy that seeks to understand the world by discovering natural laws that are orderly and repeatable through hypothesis and experimentation. Science has been very successful because it limits itself to that which is provable and testable. Super-natural is that which is beyond the natural. It doesn’t follow natural law. It is impossible to test. Natural law does not have sentience or free will. To put it in the words of one of my teachers, natural law is like sh#!. It happens! BA used the example of ghosts. If ghosts did exist, they simply can choose not to be present for the experiment. There are areas that are beyond the realm of science. Much of religious belief is beyond science. To make a statement “Jesus is the son of God” is not logical or ilogical. It is alogical. It is not anti-science. It is simply non-science (Please resist the tempation of translating that as ‘nonsense’). It is not provable or testable. It is a matter of faith. Some people choose not to believe in anything that is not provable by science. I think that is fine. Some, including myself, have beliefs that they cannot prove but simply believe by faith. I think that is just fine, too. It IS a problem when someone believes in things that are demonstrably false, i.e. a 6000 year old earth.

    Ooops! I may have wandered a little off topic.

    Just for the record, I am a Christian, engineer, and ammateur scientist. I always have some skepticality regarding any scientific theory simply because new data may be available in the future that contradicts the theory. Within that limitation, I accept the current scientific models of the universe including the big bang and evolution. I have no problem reconciling my religious beliefs with science. And this thing with removing evolution from schoolbooks is ignorant to put it mildly.

  83. Chris

    @matt
    I think the major problem here is that the government is in charge of education. Privatize all schools, and the debate would be over, Creationists can go to their school, evolutionists to their’s. Publically controlled education will always lead to this “argument” as you won’t be happy with a creationist in charge, and the creationists will not be happy when you are in charge. The solution… let every school decide what they want to.
    —————————————————-
    But the easiest way to control a society is by educating them… The government needs to control the education process to maintain control.

  84. not-empiric

    Chris,

    You’re certainly enlightened. It’s always a question, though, of most probable explanations.

  85. The Good Astonomer

    What exactly gives YOU the right to say who can go and who can stay? Are you some kind of god? Do you think you are always right? How about this situation? What makes this situation different from others?

    Lets say Mr. Evolutionist new an amazing .5% of all knowledge in the universe. How can he POSSIBLY say that he is right and creationism is wrong? I have an idea for you:

    Let the creationist do his job he has been appointed to. Then if in a few years the education system hasn’t gone into the crapper you should stop mocking them calling them idiots. Who would you want? A person that is REALLY REALLY good at doing his job or someone that sucks? Duh! The good one, so it shouldn’t matter if he is a creationist or not.

    For your information there is NO evidence that the universe is super old, only red shifts which we THINK are accurate. Even in red shift measurements there are debates because if you take the inherent red shift (keeping this basic, not for you but b/c I dont want to write a book here) you get much younger dates. Also there are only ~7500 years worth of super nova events (which are estimated by big band theorists to linger on for around 14.2 Million years). So the point is creationism isn’t just reading out of the bible and accepting it as truth (truly it says “test and approve” the word), but instead are doing A LOT of science to validate their claims. Atheists around the world approve of http://www.icr.org ‘s scientific procedure. The honestly feel that true, and pure science without lies and deception (evolution’s history is full of them too) will show us that the bible is true.

    Ok enough… let us not be dogmatic here but show the true science at hand.

    Its the ones who have the most to lose that have the loudest voices…

  86. jrkeller

    David,

    Don’t put words into my mouth. Just because I said I haven’t seen it, doesn’t mean that I said it doesn’t exist. With a state as big as TX and with as many nutty churches that are here, of course there will be exceptions.

    I read the articles in your links, but these Bible classes are hardly classes pretending to be science class – the point of my argument. What do you expect for an elective class on the Bible? Science?

    Should these classes be offered in the public schools? No. The only way that I can see that the Bible could be taught in a public school is as history or to describe/understand Judism or Christianity or possibly medievel history and art.

    From a link from one of your links, the Ector County class is also being taught in 37 states,

    http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-bible5aug05,1,1087611.story

    yet I see no articles/blogs with other headlines of these states being declared doomed.

    With regard to the link to HB 3678, there are some things in that law that I agree with, but as your link pointed out these are already protected. I suspect that the ACLU can easily get this one declared illegal, because in Article II, it allows the student to make

    “opening announcements and greetings for the school day;”

    which clearly would be wrong. Entire Law here

    http://www.legis.state.tx.us/tlodocs/80R/billtext/html/HB03678F.htm

    Link to origins of Communism,

    http://www.factmonster.com/ce6/history/A0857487.html

  87. Gary Ansorge

    Two items to consider:
    Circular logic is the essence of biblical interpretation and woo-woism as in:
    1) The bible says God exists
    1a) How do you know that is an accurate/truthful statement?
    2) Because the bible is inspired by God.
    2a) How do you know the Bible is inspired by God?
    3) Because God says so.

    Recursive logic must always result in circular logic, ie, running around biting your own tail.

    One argument about the existence of god is this:
    1)either god is a part of the natural order or
    2) god is outside of the natural order(supernatural).

    3) if god is part of the natural order, it can affect the natural order but it must also be detectable within that natural order
    4) if god is outside of the natural order, then it is undetectable and CANNOT affect the natural order

    Like having your cake and eating it too, you cannot have it BOTH ways. You’re either a part of the system or you aren’t. If you aren’t then why are we even having such a discussion?

    Gary 7

  88. CS

    I strongly suggest this reading http://www.notjustatheory.com/ to all the “evolution is just a theory” proponents.

  89. The Good Astonomer

    Evolution/Skeptic logic is typically like this:

    1. We think it happened THIS way.
    2. We’ve conducted thousands of experiments and spent billions of dollars coming up with our theory.
    3. Oops our theory has holes in it. Thats ok, we won’t get rid of the theory we’ll try to make the world conform to the theory.
    4. If you don’t believe our theory is true then you must be wrong.

    If you are supposed to be a skeptic then why are you not skeptical of evolution/big bang? There has never been any evidence that proves it happened that way. In fact mathematics disagrees with evolution to such a staggering degree that it is upsetting to see that one of our nation’s “best and brightest” will ignore mathematical probability all together to follow the current belief system of evolution (I know the big bang theory is heavily mathematically based…its evolution that isn’t).

    It seems to me that you are ignoring honest science (math) when it comes to the origins debate and picking it back up again when you are in your space suit (you do perform experiments in space right?). YOU sir, cannot have it both ways; either you are a skeptic in all things or you are not one at all…simply angry because you think things should be as you see them.

    Anyway, your idea of logic from creationism is slightly off.
    If it is creationism then the correct logic is thus:
    1. God IS the order; not in it or out of it or anything in between.
    2. The only test that can be had of God (who doesn’t perform cheep tricks to get your belief) is faith (truly a word that I suspect few non-christians grasp).

    Ok lets return this to some civil tone. I respect that you are not stupid and that you have learned much of what science has to offer. There seems to be a stumbling block for the world here (1 Corinthians 1:23…interesting how true). My point is that if you had more of a reason for this man not having this job other than “he is a creationist” then I would think that maybe you have a reason. What if he was gay? What if he was really really ugly? Or a transvestite? Or a muslim? Would these change the way you look at the situation? Reiterated, the point is if the guy can do the job then he can do the job. Only when we all stop thinking we can do someone else’s job or that we can aptly say that they are the wrong ones for a job will such hatred stop. What if he were to say you shouldn’t be doing the job you are just because you are a skeptic? How is that different from what you are doing?

  90. Brian

    Richard: In response to your comment (http://www.badastronomy.com/bablog/2007/08/09/texas-really-really-doomed/#comment-127125)…

    I would have to disagree with the implication of your statement, “Evolution is not a belief system, it is for all intents and purposes solid, scientific fact.” Of course “evolution” is something that we know to have happened to some degree over the course of history. The word has a real meaning and referent in the real world (unlike “unicorn”, for example). However, to what degree evolution has contributed to the present state of life on our planet is another question entirely. The answer to that is “we don’t know” — even among those who in no way support the “creationist” worldview! Take a look at this other article that surfaced on Digg today… http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/08/09/tech/main3151006.shtml
    “Evolutionary theory challenged by fossils…” Now this is not saying whether or not evolution has occurred to some degree is being challenged, but the “how”. In other words, we can observe that evolutionary processes have been at work in history, but we don’t know how! I find it rather arrogant to assert empirical, solid, scientific fact on something that we are still trying to understand… on something we can’t fully answer the question of “how”.

    I’d argue that the existence of God or supernatural beings of any kind, and the relationship of those beings to the natural world, is a completely different question than that of the existence and mechanics of evolutionary development. It seems, because of the loaded term “creationist” which represents the world view of some who deny evolution, that the two discussions have become intermingled in a way that is not what I would consider to be productive.

    My $.02. Go ahead and tear me up.

  91. Klaus

    Wow.

    Sitting in Germany, observing this belief crazyness going on the in USA… makes me really glad to be living here (although our politicians are nearly as moronic as yours).

    I keep seeing these religious discussions on the net. I see them primarly on US sites. However, I refuse to join in, as I simply claim them to be below my interest.

    Religion is something you’re allowed to believe in as you wish. Just leave me alone with it, and don’t try to influence other people, especially schools.

  92. Stark

    The Good but apparently has a complete and utter lack of knowledge regarding the scientifc method Astronomer,

    Below you will find the corrected version of events for the scientific method:

    1. We observer something occuring.
    1a. We come up with an educated guess as to why whatever we observed occured – this is a hypothesis.
    1b. We check that hypothesis for accuracy in prediciting the observed behaviour. We do this via further observation and experiment.
    1c. If we find that our initial experiments confirm our idea, after being repeated a number of times, we publish our hypothesis. It is then examined by the world at large and the experiments are conducted by as many people as are willing to do so. If these people all get the same results we move the idea from hypothesis to theory.
    2. We continue to conduct thousands of experiments and (maybe, though not often)spend billions of dollars TESTING our theory.
    3. Oops our theory has holes in it. We must re-examine our theory.
    3a. Since we made it this far – thouands of experiments confirmed the theory after all – we usually find, on close examination, that the theory works in many situations but has areas where it falls flat – we then go back to step 1. The entire theory may end up being cast out (See Aether for an example) or it may be modified to reflect that is incomplete or too simple for certain situations (see Newtonian physics – works fine in normal day to day life, breaks down in other situations).
    3b. NEVER does science allow for you to fudge the data to make the world conform to the theory. The road of science is littered with carcasses of dead theories precisely becasue they did not conform to what we can observe.
    4. If you don’t believe our theory is true then you might be right… but we would request that you provide experimental evidence showing the errors you’ve found. If you are presenting your own hypothesis please be sure to present evidence that supports said theory which we will happily subject to the scientific method. If it holds up under the scrutiny of thousands of scientists it too will become a well respected and accepted theory. If you do niot have or cannot provide evidence to support your hypothesis it will be disregarded – scince is all about the evidence, without evidence you have nothing.

  93. PJE

    This is from BA’s blog above

    “A scientist looks around, observes phenomena, and then tries to explain them. If these explanations fail, then they are modified or discarded. This means two things: bad ideas go away, and good ideas get better, get closer to explaining reality.”

    That seems to contradict your hypothesis:

    “1. We think it happened THIS way.
    2. We’ve conducted thousands of experiments and spent billions of dollars coming up with our theory.
    3. Oops our theory has holes in it. Thats ok, we won’t get rid of the theory we’ll try to make the world conform to the theory.
    4. If you don’t believe our theory is true then you must be wrong.”

    Just thought I’d point it out in case you missed it the first time

    Pete

  94. PJE

    Stark that was very eloquent and exactly what I was trying to say

    Thanks

    Pete

  95. Stark

    Thanks Pete!

    However, I just noticed an error in point 4.

    “If you are presenting your own hypothesis please be sure to present evidence that supports said theory which we will happily subject to the scientific method. ”

    It should read as :

    If you are presenting your own hypothesis please be sure to present evidence that supports said hypothesis which we will happily subject to the scientific method.

    So, even my post is apparently improvable by scientific method (my experiment was reading it again after stepping away for a bit).

  96. The Good Astonomer

    I realize this is what scientists TRY to do. But in the case of evolution that is simply not the case. Evolution has “evolved” into its own religion when the FACT that no quality evidence has ever been found linking Ape to Man yet it still proclaims this as a fact to students in our school.

    Stark:
    The Institute for Creation Research (www.icr.org) has done just as scientists have requested to the evolution community but as you can see nothing has changed. They are too set in their ways. If you want honest Scientific method that is ACTUALLY followed then ICR has done this. Now it may look as if I’m saying ALL of science has misled us but in reality I’m not. What I am saying is Evolution has become a religion just as much a creationism comes out of religion. BUT there is a “stark” difference between these two: The ICR REALLY wants good science. They aren’t there to defend their beliefs as much as they are there to show that science will purport the truth of the Bible (in as much as can be shown by historical and scientific truth; the existence of God and one’s following of Christ are left up to the individual still).

    So stark, it’s not that I don’t know what the scientific method is. Its that these evolutionists that call themselves “scientists” don’t follow their scientific method. If they did then we would hear no more of this ridiculous Ape-Man thing.

  97. Richard Simons

    The argument that children should be presented with critical analysis of current theories is superficially enticing. However, to understand any current disagreement between evolutionary biologists requires a minimum of several post graduate courses in appropriate areas (or the equivalent knowledge). This is far beyond the capabilities of most high school students. The central concepts of the theory of evolution have been unchallenged except in the most trivial ways for well over 100 years.

    It would be much better to present criticism of Intelligent Design Theory (which of course is not actually a theory) or various forms of creationism as this can be done with far more basic knowledge of biology and the other sciences. For example, the claim that mathematical ideas destroy the theory of evolution can be easily refuted with a basic knowledge of Bayes’ theorem and the concepts behind current origin of life theories. The refutation of most other claims made by the proponents of Intelligent Design / Creationism is also within the limits of the level of science that could be expected in a high school class.

  98. Leon

    So let’s see if I get this straight… You believe Don McLeroy must go, not because he lacks qualifications for the job or for personal misconduct, but for his beliefs. Yes, this is entirely objective. You evidently do not care if he can do the job satisfactorily, as you have predetermined that because he believes differently regarding the origins of the universe, he is disqualified for the position he was appointed to.

    He should go not because he thinks differently than we do, but because his stated goals, if implemented, would be unconstitutional and would actively damage the education of the state’s schoolchildren. Would you defend a park ranger who told children it was ok to feed the bears because that helps them survive in the park?

    Evidently the matter of origins *is* a matter of debate as the amount of criticism of the theory of evolution is growing and the amount of evidence that supposedly proves what no one was alive to see is either being refuted or determined to be inconclusive. With the Creation Museum having opened in Greater Cincinnati, the fear and consternation of those who espouse the dogma of billions of years and macro-evolution is evident. Creationists within the scientific community are becoming more bold in speaking out and the debate is not about to happen, it already has.

    lol…you’ve fallen for their propaganda–hook, line, sinker, and copy of Angler’s Monthly.

    Since you’ve missed it, there is no scientific debate about whether evolution is accurate, for the same reason that there’s no debate in physics about whether the Theory of Gravity is accurate: not because it’s some dogma enforced by the Great Conclave, but because it best explains the available evidence. Evolution works–it explains the available evidence and allows you to make accurate predictions. Creationism consistently fails on both counts.

    The “debate” you’re seeing is completely outside the relevant scientific circles. Most of the “scientists” who criticize evolution are doctors and engineers, and almost all the rest are in scientific disciplines outside biology. People in those fields have no better understanding of evolution than anyone else–would you trust a biologist over a chemist about what takes place in a thermite reaction? The number of biologists in relevant specialties who criticize evolution is vanishingly small.

    What you’re seeing is a debate brought into the social and political arena by people who know they can’t win in the scientific arena, which requires solid evidence, and, more importantly, an alternative explanation which better explains the available evidence than the current theory. They don’t have one. This is why you have things like people slipping their agendas into school boards, and glitzy productions like the Creation Museum–they are trying to short-circuit the scientific process by winning over laypeople first. That’s exactly the opposite of how everything works in science, and it’s a powerful signal that something’s wrong with what they’re doing.

  99. Now, you all know I am not one to vent my spleen. But, on the few occasions it has taken place, it has been merited. Such an occasion has just occurred, so be warned all ye within spleen-venting-range.

    I address most of my ire to the Good Astronomer (their title, not mine). Here we have an individual who appears to have an axe to grind, a bee in his (or her) bonnet. Someone who is prepared to list (not quote, mind you) scripture as a salient point.

    The Good Astronomer cites 1 Cor 1:23. For those with whom said astronomer is debating, the text would have been helpful, if only to see that it was being hugely quoted out of context. It’s all about Jesus being a stumbling block to Jews and “foolishness to gentiles” (which is all about the inherent nature of Jesus and says as much about science as Donald Duck says about the Marianas Trench). Alas, so many arguments are won (and lost) on such flimsy quotations and reasoning. (Incidentally, the Good Astronomer might want to consider Mark 10:18 which, for the benefit of those who don’t have the good astronomer’s encyclopaedic recall of Biblical text is rendered as “‘Why do you call me good?’ Jesus answered. ‘No one is good—except God alone.'” Clearly, God is the only astronomer who deserves the title “Good Astronomer” (Dr. Phil, in his own way, got his own title spot on – but I digress.))

    Where I find said good astronomer’s reasoning to fall down, and become offensive is in his/her next few lines:-

    “My point is that if you had more of a reason for this man not having this job other than “he is a creationist” then I would think that maybe you have a reason. What if he was gay? What if he was really really ugly? Or a transvestite? Or a muslim? Would these change the way you look at the situation?”

    I struggle (and I hope the good astronomer will enlighten me) to understand these words. Are these all characteristics that define the dregs in society? Why not ask if he was hetero? An adonis? A born again Christian? Would these change the way we look at the situation?

    The inference from the question is that these are all “bad” traits. If I am wrong (and I really hope I am) then I will apologise for misunderstanding the argument. If I am right (and I really hope I am not), then I will expect an apology in return.

    I await response…

  100. HoustonPhysicist

    There is a chance that Gov. Perry’s appointment is a coincidence–most of his appointments are to the highest bidder.

  101. jrkeller

    HoustonPhysicist,

    I think you hit the nail on the head.

  102. TheBlackCat

    The Good Astonomer, you are totally, flat-out wrong. There is a massive amount of evidence for evolution. In fact, in terms of the amount of evidence supporting it, and the lack of evidence opposing it, evolution is easily the best-supported scientific theory of all time. There is no mathematics rejecting evolution. The probability-based arguments used by ICR and other creationist groups are transparently bogus to anyone with even the most basic grasp of probability and evolution. In fact probability-based calculations, real ones, are used extensively in evolutionary biology. The reason ICR is ignored by the scientific community is because their so-called “evidence” against evolution is all wrong. Most of it was proven wrong decades ago, some centuries ago. None has any merit.

    Bringing up supernova is particularly ironic, considering the Bad Astronomer has dealt with this specific issue. Even if it is true and there are no supernova older than 7500 years (and it isn’t true), it is still evidence against a young universe. This is because supernova form from massive stars, and these stars must be at least a million years old before they can turn into a supernova. That means even if you are right, which you aren’t, then the universe is still over a million years old. This is the type of “evidence” that ICR uses, either it is wrong or it actually contradicts their position (or in this case both).

    And whatever your position is, teaching creationism in science classroom is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court has ruled that repeatedly. Whatever you may think, it simply cannot be done in this country.

  103. DQ

    If this gets any worse, and this idiot starts changing the curriculum to be more creationism-friendly, a good counter might be for schools like MIT, CalTech, maybe all the Ivy League schools to state that they will no longer consider applications from students graduating from Texas (or Kansas, or whatever) public high schools. It would be no different from other minimum competency requirements.

    I bet that would nip this bad word deleted by The Bad Astronomer in the bud right there.

  104. DQ — and everyone else — please stop using bad words; I am tired of deleting them.

  105. Jim

    Hello all,

    Don’t worry. We’ve shipped our jobs to China and our standard of living has been raised by making available all those cheap imports.

    As to science vs theology, you must admit that it is far easier to have the total sum of human knowlege (the *true* knowlege, not the unimportant fiction) contained in one book than to have to deal with physics, calculus, literature (other than the one book), and more. Why deal with a subject like irrational numbers when we know that pi is exactly equal to three? It’s right there in the only true book of knowlege.

    I do have a concern, however, as I see the various factions fighting in Iraq. Nothing like good old-fashioned religion to cause problems. Of course, I see the same thing in the United States with arguements as to whose interpretation is correct. Fortunately, no less than the Holy See himself has declared all of the alleged Christian Churches to be, at least, in various fracture with the only true Christian Church. You know, the one that can trace its’ roots back to St. Peter.

    This whole chain of events started when the evangelical conservatives managed to hang this “family values” flag out for one of the two major parties. They found that they could swing the deep Southern vote to their party and win – despite having lost the popular vote. So a minority controls the country. Dang, am I describing us or Iraq? I forget.

    So, how are your kids doing in school? We’ve only had several teenagers murdered in this city.

    Best regards,
    Jim – Vietnam veteran

  106. Stark

    The Good Astronomer,

    The ICR, by your own description and certainly by theirs, cannot be doing proper scientific method. The problem is outlined by you, right when you say “they are there to show that science will purport the truth of the Bible “. This is not starting from an observation. This is staring from a supposition. The very best you could possibly say about their method is that they are attempting to test the accuracy of a hypothesis… except they aren’t. They are not testing to see IF their hypothesis rings true – they have accepted that their hypothesis IS true and are now looking for evidence to back that conclusion up. In absolutely no way is this a scientific approach.

    They produce evidence that supports their claim while throwing away the vastly larger amount of evidence that does not. This is not how it works. If I do one experiment which shows that the speed of light is 20k/h and 100 other people do that same experiment and get 299, 792,458 m/s then we throw out my data as wrong. Because it IS wrong. When the ICR gets one data point that fits their hypothesis they then throw out the 100 other data points that do not fit.

    Evolution, as The Black Cat has pointed out, is the single most evidence supported theory ever put forth by science. The reason it is so supported is because it is actively occurring in every single species on earth. If you have any training in biology at all then you cannot help but see it happening everywhere you look. The entire biomass of earth is affected by it.

  107. David

    I hate to say this but writing a letter to your representative or governor in this case, does absolutely nothing. If they agree with you, then they write back a form letter indicating they are in agreement, and they’ll see what they can do. If they disagree, they restate the problem, and indicate they are happy you wrote. I’ve written many letters to representatives, and I don’t feel it’s made any kind of impression at all. It’s just sad.

    Especially with someone like Perry who, like Bush, cares nothing for the voters’ opinions. Once they are in office, that’s it, and public opinion means nothing. They are convinced they are correct, so if you disagree, you obviously are wrong.

  108. Bob

    -kf
    i’m curious what qualifications he has that you feel make him the right guy for the job….being a dentist? teaching sunday school? his volunteer work?

  109. jrkeller

    The people of the Texas state board of education are elected. I know other states, like Michigan where I was raised elect their boards too.

  110. Skepterist

    Mind if I throw in my equally worthless opinions?

    Slayer Nine says, “Could Texas not seem equally doomed if a man who strongly believes in evolution got appointed to the same position. ”

    Um… no… It would be a fantastic turn if someone who was appointed to the position of head of State Board of Education did indeed promote science-based education. Let’s all say it together, “Evolution is SCIENCE, not RELIGION!”

    Julian Williams said, “Phil, I feel for your soul brother; you are now in my daily prayers.”

    Of course, if you’ve ever read this blog before, you would know that Phil has stated on many occasions that according to a multitude of scientific studies, prayers don’t work. 😉

    Jason said, “Yet humans cannot even SEE the 3rd dimension. I mean, we can perceive it. Take for example the monitor you are using for your computer. Can you tell me its exact depth? No, you can’t measure depth unless you move to a different side. We can measure up and down and left and right in inches or meters or feet or whatever, but without moving around an object, you cannot measure the depth of it. That’s because we only perceive the 3rd dimension, we cannot “SEE” it.”

    This is wrong. I can see in 3D right now. Put your hand between your face and your monitor. Now, focus on your hand. Now focus on your monitor. Unless you are literally blind, your eyes can easily see 3 dimensions. You have in your eye this thing called a lens, which allows you to focus on near and far-away objects. I can also “see” a fourth dimension, which is Time. For example, I can measure that I spent entirely too much time reading this blog today!

    The Good Astronomer said, “What exactly gives YOU the right to say who can go and who can stay?” … “Let the creationist do his job he has been appointed to. Then if in a few years the education system hasn’t gone into the crapper you should stop mocking them calling them idiots.”

    No. The constitution clearly says that the state will not impose any religion upon the people. By attempting to remove evolution from science in public schools based on a religious belief, he would be imposing his religious beliefs upon the people of Texas. That gives us the right to say this guy should go. We should not wait and see, like you suggest. We should prevent this from happening in the first place.

    Let’s all say it together once more, “Evolution is Science, not Religion!”

  111. Stark

    David,

    One person writing letters has little impact, true. Many people however is a different story. In fact, if a Governor (or any official really) manages to piss off enough of their population and not respond to the peoples anger they can find themsleves out of a job in a hurry – just ask Gray Davis about that.

    Unfortunately it usually takes something like rolling balckouts affecting millions of people in very direct and wallet hitting ways to get that level of response – I doubt you could get anyhting like taht level of anger over the current issue. Sad really, because this issue stands to have a much greater potential impact than California’s energy issues could have ever had… it’ll just take longer to hit.

  112. Irishman

    la Contessa said:
    > I think the commentary the author offers on these comments are taken out of context. The point McLeroy is trying to make is that creationists can incorporate elements of evolution into their views without changing their basic beliefs, but evolution theorists cannot add elements of creation without discrediting themselves.

    Interesting you should say that. From the linked lecture on ID:

    And so no one in our group represents theistic evolution, and the big tent of intelligent design does not include theistic evolutionists. Because intelligent design is opposed to evolution. Theistic evolutionists embrace it.

    By his own words, he refutes his position that Creationists can incorporate elements of evolution.

    > Regardless of the INTENT, I see no reason why teaching controversies in schools is a bad thing. Who cares what the people who thought up the policy felt, as long as both sides are presented?

    Presenting “both sides” is only relevant when both sides have equal merit. Do we present both sides to the flat Earth topic? Both sides to whether Shakespeare was actually the author of MacBeth? Both sides to issue of whether the Moon is made of rock or green cheese? The question becomes more serious when the technical level of understanding required to evaluate the question is much higher than the level of education occurring. It’s like teaching orbital mechanics to first graders. You need to start with 1+1. NO, you can’t debate the answer is 2. You don’t get to vote.

    > Why insulate students from critical thinking? It seems silly to deny the existance of a counter-argument on any topic, not just evolution–and it also seems contrary to the mission of schools.

    Actually, I am aware of some science teachers using the topic to stimulate critical thinking. One innovative high school teacher I met would offer them extra credit for finding questions he could not answer. His classes were full of high schoolers who were prepped from home to challenge Evolution anyway, so at least that got them to engage the topic. But it is difficult to find time to address the complexities and pursue the side topics when the schedule is full trying to present all the required material to meet the state test.

    > It does not educate students to read them statements, call the statements facts, and refuse to tell the students that a lot of people thnk those statements are wrong.

    *cough cough* The Bible *cough cough*

    empiric said:
    > “creationists” (a formally-invalid-per-Aristotle term, combining disparate premises in one concept, by the way)
    > “creationists” (again, this is a deliberately-deceptive lame term intended to straw-man a bunch of unrelated concepts together)

    In this point I completely agree with you. The use of the term “Creationist” is highly misleading and disruptive to constructive discussion. Apparently a large number of people want to make that word equal “theist” or “christian”, labeling any belief that God was involved as “creationism”, and juxtaposing that with Evolution-as-Atheism (if Evolution is involved, then God couldn’t be). Unfortunately, this is the word that exists. I submit that the two topics are 1. Does God Exist? and 2. What is the mechanism of the development and diversity of life? I submit that the answer to either of those questions does not automatically constrain the response to the other question.

    > The -majority- of “creationists” … do -not- “fight tooth and nail against evolution”. Evolution -happens-, that few “creationists” deny. What they do deny is the notion that -only- evolution by random mutation happens, ever, and this is a wholly-exhaustive explanation of origins. Often, “evolution” is equivocated to -imply- the latter meaning (in actuality embedding a non-scientific non-sequitur) which is why, to avoid the reactionary response Digg and this site feeds off of, a theist’s first step should be to parse exactly what premises are being discussed by the term “evolution”.

    Yes, everyone should examine the terminology being used and the actual intent of the words. I think in this we are on the same page, though I think some of your wording will distract others from the intent of this statement, because of the too-simplistic description of evolution given. As far as the intent of “creationists”, I refer you to the McLeroy quote above.

    And I would suggest you apply that to this quote from Phil to which you objected.

    “Fundamentalists, creationists, are exactly the opposite: they read the Bible, assume it’s inerrant, and discard every explanation and every observation that disagrees. ”

    I suggest you are describing a different crowd of “creationists” than Phil.

  113. Irishman

    (stupid coding error: take 2)

    la Contessa said:
    > I think the commentary the author offers on these comments are taken out of context. The point McLeroy is trying to make is that creationists can incorporate elements of evolution into their views without changing their basic beliefs, but evolution theorists cannot add elements of creation without discrediting themselves.

    Interesting you should say that. From the linked lecture on ID:

    And so no one in our group represents theistic evolution, and the big tent of intelligent design does not include theistic evolutionists. Because intelligent design is opposed to evolution. Theistic evolutionists embrace it.

    By his own words, he refutes his position that Creationists can incorporate elements of evolution.

    > Regardless of the INTENT, I see no reason why teaching controversies in schools is a bad thing. Who cares what the people who thought up the policy felt, as long as both sides are presented?

    Presenting “both sides” is only relevant when both sides have equal merit. Do we present both sides to the flat Earth topic? Both sides to whether Shakespeare was actually the author of MacBeth? Both sides to issue of whether the Moon is made of rock or green cheese? The question becomes more serious when the technical level of understanding required to evaluate the question is much higher than the level of education occurring. It’s like teaching orbital mechanics to first graders. You need to start with 1+1. NO, you can’t debate the answer is 2. You don’t get to vote.

    > Why insulate students from critical thinking? It seems silly to deny the existance of a counter-argument on any topic, not just evolution–and it also seems contrary to the mission of schools.

    Actually, I am aware of some science teachers using the topic to stimulate critical thinking. One innovative high school teacher I met would offer them extra credit for finding questions he could not answer. His classes were full of high schoolers who were prepped from home to challenge Evolution anyway, so at least that got them to engage the topic. But it is difficult to find time to address the complexities and pursue the side topics when the schedule is full trying to present all the required material to meet the state test.

    > It does not educate students to read them statements, call the statements facts, and refuse to tell the students that a lot of people thnk those statements are wrong.

    *cough cough* The Bible *cough cough*

    empiric said:
    > “creationists” (a formally-invalid-per-Aristotle term, combining disparate premises in one concept, by the way)
    > “creationists” (again, this is a deliberately-deceptive lame term intended to straw-man a bunch of unrelated concepts together)

    In this point I completely agree with you. The use of the term “Creationist” is highly misleading and disruptive to constructive discussion. Apparently a large number of people want to make that word equal “theist” or “christian”, labeling any belief that God was involved as “creationism”, and juxtaposing that with Evolution-as-Atheism (if Evolution is involved, then God couldn’t be). Unfortunately, this is the word that exists. I submit that the two topics are 1. Does God Exist? and 2. What is the mechanism of the development and diversity of life? I submit that the answer to either of those questions does not automatically constrain the response to the other question.

    > The -majority- of “creationists” … do -not- “fight tooth and nail against evolution”. Evolution -happens-, that few “creationists” deny. What they do deny is the notion that -only- evolution by random mutation happens, ever, and this is a wholly-exhaustive explanation of origins. Often, “evolution” is equivocated to -imply- the latter meaning (in actuality embedding a non-scientific non-sequitur) which is why, to avoid the reactionary response Digg and this site feeds off of, a theist’s first step should be to parse exactly what premises are being discussed by the term “evolution”.

    Yes, everyone should examine the terminology being used and the actual intent of the words. I think in this we are on the same page, though I think some of your wording will distract others from the intent of this statement, because of the too-simplistic description of evolution given. As far as the intent of “creationists”, I refer you to the McLeroy quote above.

    And I would suggest you apply that to this quote from Phil to which you objected.

    “Fundamentalists, creationists, are exactly the opposite: they read the Bible, assume it’s inerrant, and discard every explanation and every observation that disagrees. ”

    I suggest you are describing a different crowd of “creationists” than Phil.

  114. MattFunke

    -kf: You believe Don McLeroy must go, not because he lacks qualifications for the job or for personal misconduct, but for his beliefs.

    Those beliefs, and his willingness to foist them on others, make him unqualified. I might believe that invisible pink elves armed with rocket launchers who like to bring down passenger jets follow me around everywhere I go; shouldn’t that have some impact on whether or not I am allowed to be an air traffic controller?

    -kf: Evidently the matter of origins *is* a matter of debate as the amount of criticism of the theory of evolution is growing

    Evidently, you’re not paying attention. Criticism of whether or not evolution occurs only seems to exist in religious circles. If you read the scientific literature, you’ll only see criticism of the specific form evolution takes. The evidence backing the idea of evolution itself is so voluminous that to doubt it seems as silly as doubting the idea of gravity. (We may not have exactly the right explanation of gravity — in fact, we almost certainly don’t; but to doubt that there is gravity at all is slightly insane.)

    -kf: and the amount of evidence that supposedly proves what no one was alive to see is either being refuted or determined to be inconclusive.

    Again, we don’t have to worry about no one being around to see it then — even though the forensic evidence for it is really, really good. We observe evolution happening now. Conclusively. In the laboratory and in the wild.

    -kf: Creationists within the scientific community are becoming more bold in speaking out and the debate is not about to happen, it already has.

    Thankfully, scientific theory is not determined by debate.

    matt: Privatize all schools, and the debate would be over, Creationists can go to their school, evolutionists to their’s.

    Then, in twenty years, a large number of people sent to the wrong kinds of schools will be so horribly miseducated on the nature of science and critical thought that they will not possess those faculties when it finally comes time to vote because a technological society needs to make its decisions. This is a colossally bad idea.

    The Good Astonomer: What exactly gives YOU the right to say who can go and who can stay?

    Qualifications for the job in question.

    The Good Astronomer: Lets say Mr. Evolutionist new an amazing .5% of all knowledge in the universe. How can he POSSIBLY say that he is right and creationism is wrong?

    There’s a key difference you’re missing here. “Mr. Evolutionist” is willing to point out that all of the best available evidence supports his position so far, but that he could be wrong and that future evidence might force him to change or abandon his position.

    Consider, too, that you need to know a lot less to know that something is wrong that you do to know that something is right. It’s pretty simple to show that young-Earth creationism is wrong.

    What I rail against is the notion that someone can hold a position that is demonstrably incorrect and pass it off to our kids as education in the name of “science”.

    The Good Astronomer: Who would you want? A person that is REALLY REALLY good at doing his job or someone that sucks?

    You’re right. It’s a no-brainer. If an educator insists on putting long-discredited material into a curriculum, he is a bad educator. I do not want him.

    The Good Astronomer: For your information there is NO evidence that the universe is super old, only red shifts which we THINK are accurate.

    Actually, that’s not true. Not by a long shot. There are formations we see on Earth that could not have formed quickly. There are continuous records of long geologic processes. There are radiosotope abundances. There are standard candles in astronomy.

    There’s lots to read on this subject. The stunning thing is when different, independent records that show long ages for the Earth agree, which seems to indicate that we’re on the right track.

    The Good Astonomer:Evolution/Skeptic logic is typically like this:

    1. We think it happened THIS way.
    2. We’ve conducted thousands of experiments and spent billions of dollars coming up with our theory.
    3. Oops our theory has holes in it. Thats ok, we won’t get rid of the theory we’ll try to make the world conform to the theory.
    4. If you don’t believe our theory is true then you must be wrong.

    You’re ignoring certain facts. First, even though the theory of evolution remains intact in its basic form, it has been revised countless times since Darwin. Second, notoriety in science comes from showing just why everything that people have thought up to this point is wrong. The one who found evidence against evolution would find instant fame. There is no scientific fame to be found by simply agreeing with everybody else. Science is about discovering the way the Universe behaves, not just learning about what other people say.

    The Good Astronomer: If you are supposed to be a skeptic then why are you not skeptical of evolution/big bang?

    I am. I recognize that these are really good explanations for what we see, but that evidence may come along at any time to undermine these explanations — whereupon new explanations will have to be devised.

    Until that evidence comes along, I give provisional acceptance to the ones that explain things so far.

    The Good Astronomer: There has never been any evidence that proves it happened that way.

    Again, you’re not paying attention. As far as the Big Bang goes, there’s microwave background radiation for a start. We observe it; that’s a hint that maybe the Big Bang really happened. As far as evolution goes, we’ve watched it happen directly. There’s also the fact that molecular evolution follows the same phylogenetic tree as moprhological evolution — a tree which happens to follow a nested hierarchy of sorting, in spite of all the different ways that it’s possible to sort stuff. Is that just a wild coincidence, or are we on the right track?

    The Good Astronomer: In fact mathematics disagrees with evolution to such a staggering degree that it is upsetting to see that one of our nation’s “best and brightest” will ignore mathematical probability all together to follow the current belief system of evolution (I know the big bang theory is heavily mathematically based…its evolution that isn’t).

    Which math? Show us.

    The Good Astronomer: Reiterated, the point is if the guy can do the job then he can do the job.

    Right. And the fact that he is trying to instill long-discredited ideas into the curricula as “science” shows that he cannot do the job.

    The Good Astonomer: Evolution has “evolved” into its own religion when the FACT that no quality evidence has ever been found linking Ape to Man yet it still proclaims this as a fact to students in our school.

    Try this on: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/homs/

    There are mountains of quality evidence.

    Moreover, evolution is not a religion by several metrics. Evolution merely explains the development of life. It doesn’t even explain the origin of life, never mind its purpose or ethical behavior concerning it. There is no description of the role of humans. There is no supernatural force or being. There is no prescribed social structure. There is no moral structure. There are no rituals. There are no sacraments. No one has ever identified their religion as “evolution”. What kind of a weird religion do you expect evolution to be — especially since it seems to have no adherents?

  115. Darth Robo

    The “Good Astronomer” makes for a lousy biologist. 😀

    ICR? BWA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HAAAAAAA!!!

    These kinda posts are always fundie magnets.

  116. MattFunke

    Darth Robo: The “Good Astronomer” makes for a lousy biologist.

    And a lousy astronomer, since he seems to think (a) that the only evidence for the age of the Universe are redshifts and (b) there is no evidence at all for the Big Bang.

    Of course, this could all lie under the same smoke screen that YECism seems to lay over biology. YECist teachers will actually tell you that no transitional fossils have been found, that “macroevolution” has never been directly observed, or that the geologic column does not exist in its entirety anywhere on Earth. If you can tell those bald-faced lies with a straight face, others involving astronomy are probably easier.

  117. Darth Robo

    And they say their only problem is with evolution…

    :)

  118. TheBlackCat

    And they say their only problem is with evolution…

    And they are quite right…using their definition of evolution. Of course their definition of evolutions is, by their own description, “any scientific fact, law, theory, or hypothesis that conflicts with the universe being created out of nothing by the Judeo-Christian God in its present form less than 10,000 years ago as described in one of the two Genesis creation stories”. So in other words, their definition of evolution corresponds almost perfectly to “modern science”.

  119. MattFunke

    Darth Robo: And they say their only problem is with evolution…

    Such a statement ignores the notion that the goal of all these scientific theories is to present a coherent picture of how the Universe works. If the theory of universal gravitation contradicts Kirchhoff’s Current Law, for example, one of them has to go.

    Evolution is a useful concept because it organizes and explains many disparate phenomena in biology — but even more impressively, it also explains some things about why paleontologists and geologists find what they do. If “creation science” could accurately pin down the location of oil reserves while evolution-based predictions failed miserably, I might be willing to give “creation science” a little more consideration.

  120. Darth Robo

    [quote]And they are quite right…using their definition of evolution. [/quote]

    Problems is, their definition of evolution also includes geology, astrophysics, heck, even atheism.

    [quote]If “creation science” could accurately pin down the location of oil reserves while evolution-based predictions failed miserably, I might be willing to give “creation science” a little more consideration.[/quote]

    Apparently the oil dudes DID try creation geologists once. It um, didn’t work out. :)

  121. MattFunke

    Darth Robo: Problems is, their definition of evolution also includes geology, astrophysics, heck, even atheism.

    Excellent point. It’s kind of bizarre to me to go into a debate with someone who claims he can prove to me that evolution is false only to find that he’s arguing points about theology, the Big Bang, Communism, and Nazi Germany.

    Darth Robo: Apparently the oil dudes DID try creation geologists once. It um, didn’t work out.

    Really? Excellent. You wouldn’t happen to have any more information, would you, so that I can track down more information on this?

  122. Darth Robo

    I’m pretty sure it was mentioned somewhere here…

    http://www.antievolution.org/cgi-bin/ikonboard/ikonboard.cgi?act=SF;f=14

    Sorry I can’t be more specific! :( I just tried looking through all the recent posts I’ve read from this week and now I can’t find it. Can’t remember which flamin’ thread it was on or who said it for the life of me. Unfortunately, unlike some other blogs, AtBC doesn’t have a ‘search poster’s comments’ function – comes in handy sometimes, like now. :(

    I remember it being mentioned cos it made me laugh. I’ll see if I can try and jog someone’s memory over there.

  123. MattFunke

    Darth Robo: Sorry I can’t be more specific!

    That’s okay. I know how hard it can be to trace stuff back. I’ll see if my Google-fu is up to the task of finding some report on it.

    It occurs to me, though, that a geologist can still be fairly good at finding oil even if he is a YECist; all he has to do is look for the right kinds of fossils and geological formations. If you’re willing to ignore how they got to be where they are and why they are the way they are, or why they happen to be found around petroleum, you can find oil decently well without wrapping your head around the science involved.

    In other words, you can do the what without having to consider the how or the why. More’s the pity.

  124. Jeff

    Science is a religion

  125. Darth Robo

    Well Jeff, I guess it MUST be if YOU say so. (shrug)

  126. Dr. Bill Fowler

    I checked out this article because you linked to it claimed that Mr. McLeroy said that science was evil. But all there is here is a quote that G.K. Chesterton said that materialists are intolerant. You have completely misrepresented the situation, I would say even lied about it.

    And you claim to represent science? You most certainly do not. We do not advance science by intentionally lying about and defaming other people, especially not with what is a transparent intent to mislead the public.

    Sincerely,

    Dr. Bill Fowler

  127. Tommy Paine

    I’m totally on your side, as far as this jerk in the true Bush tradition, of being put in a job that he is, as they delight in doing, 100% unqualified for. A anti-science creationist in charge of the Texas Board of Education, indeed.
    BUT – I think if you back off on your claims for the all-inclusiveness of the scientific method, you will gain a lot more supporters. You will not alienate many religious people who do believe that truth can be reached through the scientific method.
    It’s a classic case of we liberals or democrats getting so hung up in what we believe, that we fail to see a golden opportunity to achieve our goal, which is a better cared for, more tolerant world.
    Okay, a creationist doesn’t belong in such a position of power. But why attach a rejection of religion in general to such an important article?

    Here is your quote that I find counterproductive:
    >>But as I like to point out, there is no such thing as the supernatural! Take, for example, ghosts: if they are real, then they are part of the natural order of things. There must be a rational and scientific explanation for them, because if they exist, they are perforce real. So there cannot be anything supernatural: if something exists, it is part of nature.

    So of course scientists look for natural explanations for things. That’s the way the Universe works.<<

    If there is a Supreme Being, He/She might be inexplicable by scientists. But that surely doesn’t mean that this jerk should be the head of the Texas Board of Education…

  128. I am reading in disbelief how patently ridiculous IDers sound. It’s the same old argument, over and over again, about how Science only has “theories”, but the Bible is correct. It’s sad that these people slept through their entire Science curriculum through their entire schooling. Had they even looked up from their bibles once through the process they might have realized that Science is all about repeatability, and observation.

    I guess not everyone can have an IQ over 100…….

  129. The attack on science is really quite stunning. Perhaps it is because science is actually showing us that evolution is more than just a theory, that we’re finding the missing links all the time.

    It is also helping us to make progress with disease and the human condition, some of which are preventable thus the believe in seeing those people suffer. Think AIDS research, or even the availability of drugs to terminate a pregnancy.

    That’s the mindset of those people.

  130. forgive_the_atheist_haters

    you have to admit on reading his website that he makes a pretty compelling counterargument to evolution. Keep in mind that the theory of evolution that covers creation of species is still just a theory, despite many in the scientific community that see the results of crossbreeding of animals and plants and their genetic so called “microevolution” and interpolate this into “macroevolution” or somehow think that humans evolved from monkeys.

    He has a very thought out website and plus being a christian he lacks the hate so often displayed by evolution proponents. Maybe you haters should take a hint here.

  131. G. Bolen

    The words as you wrote, “Take, for example, ghosts: if they are real, then they are part of the natural order of things… So there cannot be anything supernatural: if something exists, it is part of nature.” make it perfectly clear that anything at all that can be said to exist MUST exist in the natural order of things. They MUST be explainable and and at least theoretically verifiable by natural sciences or they cannot be said to exist. Thank you for the simplest and clearest words to explain this simple idea.

  132. blake

    I would just like to point out one error of your argument. It’s not everything coming undone, but I think it’s pretty good.

    “Fundamentalists, creationists, are exactly the opposite: they read the Bible, assume it’s inerrant, and discard every explanation and every observation that disagrees. They can tolerate nothing that disagrees with their preconception of how the Universe ought to behave. That isn’t a good way to learn about the Universe. It’s madness.”

    Atheists have no explanation for why the Bible seems to have a certain degree of scientific accuracy that would be impossible for the times it was written, and as historical accuracy to prove it’s authenticity. Just take a look at some of the Biblical scientific insights and you’ll see what I mean.

    I’ve got one quick example before I go. There’s a verse somewhere in Isaiah that says the sun travels in a circuit in the sky. 3-4 thousand years later we find out that we live in a spiral galaxy, so sun actually does travel in a circuit.

NEW ON DISCOVER
OPEN
CITIZEN SCIENCE
ADVERTISEMENT

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

ADVERTISEMENT

See More

ADVERTISEMENT
Collapse bottom bar
+