Louisiana: Epically Doomed

By Phil Plait | June 12, 2008 3:30 pm

Well, that’s that. Reality-based Louisianans, it’s time to move out of the state.

The State Senate has approved a bill that will allow the teaching of creationism in the classroom. It’s been sent on to the House, where it is expected to pass. The bill will have to go back to the Senate for approval due to an amendment that was added, but again that’s expected to sail through.

Bobby Jindal, the creationist/exorcist/cancer-curing governor of the state (and potential McCain VP pick), is expected to heartily pass it, since he is in the pocket of at least one far-right religious group.

And that’s basically that. Louisiana will have passed an unconstitutional law to allow teaching fundamentalist religion in the classroom. You may hear all kinds of arguments that this is not the case — we’re sponsoring academic freedom, we’re teaching the controversy, blah blah blah — but those are lies, plain and simple.

Louisiana is screwed.

Of course, this doesn’t mean all hope is lost. We still have heroes like Barbara Forrest living there. Barbara was crucial in Dover, Pennsylvania, in showing that ID is simply creationism with a red rubber nose on it as a disguise. She is part of the Louisiana Coalition for Science which, like so many other groups, have fought courageously against this sort of antiscientific garbage.

Sadly, it’s too late for this bill. It’ll pass, making Louisiana the laughing stock of the world. But it’s not too late to let your voice be heard! If you live in that state, contact the Coalition and tell them you want to help. Barbara, and everyone else who lives in reality, could use it.

Creationists are trying — and succeeding — in kidnapping the minds of other peoples’ children. This type of legislation must be stopped.

You know, I’ve run this image several times on this blog, but it was always in the subjunctive, always a what-if. But now it’s a reality, and it’s up to us to turn this around and bring Louisiana, kicking and screaming, into the 21st century.

Comments (154)

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  1. Josephine

    When reading about fundamentalist actions such as the one you just briefed us about, I can not help but associate to the fundamentalist Muslims that the Christians fear so much. It will just be a matter of time before the [Free] United States of America have become as fundamentalist as its nemesises, if not wonderful people like your mentioned Barbra Forrest manages to bring reason into insanity.

  2. whb03

    Hey! Freedom OF religion, not freedom FROM religion. This country was founded as a CHRISTIAN nation! Time to bring this country back to its Christian roots. Chrisianity is the ONLY religion. When will you people learn? Stop persecuting the Christians.

  3. whb03

    My last message was truncated… That was sarcasm, but seriously, these are really the arguments they use.

  4. justcorbly

    Josephine, in many respects fundamentalist Christians and fundamentalist Islamists are more alike than different. Both are willing to subvert the state to force others to live by their extreme views.

    Why can the rest of us do? Well, tourism is an important business in Louisiana. While I hesitate to urge staying away from New Orleans (just the opposite, in fact) taking our tourist and business dollars elsewhere — and letting them know why — might have an impact.

  5. RE: Persecution of christians (and Christians):

    Matthew 5:11 (King James Version)
    King James Version (KJV)

    Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake

    John 15:20 (King James Version)
    King James Version (KJV)

    Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.

    There’s a warning that being a ‘follower of the Christ’ will be tough…

    J/P=?

  6. I don’t know why that state hasn’t been abandoned already anyway: if the ocean and the hurricanes want to pwn that region, I say we let them. :P

  7. Duane

    The real burden rests on those of us who are religious, but who do not wholeheartedly subscribe to anti-science nonsense like this guy is trying to get taught in a public setting.

    There is a definite place for religious and philosophical thought in our culture, but it is being co-opted by people who want to use it to bring the hammer down on things they don’t understand or want to deal with. It’s time for us to get to work.

  8. BradB

    I hate seeing news like this. I feel that the anti science groups have been gaining momentum. We are just setting ourselves up for failure in the future. I wish that people who feel we shouldn’t be a secular state would go and visit a nation like Saudi Arabia. Science is not evil! If anything ignorance and prejudice led in the name of religion (or led by anything for that matter) are.

  9. It’s weird, and I don’t know how to feel about this. I am a Christian and do believe in Jesus (and still read BA, shocking, I know) but at the same time I don’t believe in a literal creation, I tend to believe that the Genesis story is more of an “artistic” version of the events as the happened, not a literal recounting of the events. First came land, then water, then life in the water, then land animals and then finally humans… sounds a lot like evolution to me.

    I do understand the motives behind the individuals who passed this bill, as the people who would support something like this are a lot of people whom I associate at church with, heck even my parents would think this is a “win” for Christianity. These are not dumb people, nor are they nearly as malicious as some would like to make them out to be. I see that they feel “threatened” by the scientific community and likewise the scientific community feels pity/resentment/anger towards them and has created this Science vs Religion world that we live in where stupid laws like this get passed.

    Ultimately the school is for facts and figures. Leave faith for teaching at home. What the supporters of this bill don’t begin to think about is what happens when a teacher teaching ID says that Allah created the world, or Shiva or some other “god” besides the God of the Bible…

    I guess I am saying I agree with probably most posters and Phil on this subject, this is a bad law and shouldn’t be passed, but what I am saying is that if the scientific community continues to propagate a culture of anger and malice towards the religious community, and they do likewise then we will see MORE of these types of laws passed. Maybe I am naive and stupid, but I would like to see science and religion work hand in hand, science is the tool to explore and explain the work of God, and from that those that have faith in a “higher power” can marvel even more at how awesome God is.

    Even tho I disagree with the faith of an atheist or an Islaamist or whomever that doesn’t mean we can’t create codified laws for us to live together without infringing on one anothers rights.

    I will go back to lurking, so much for my first comment being a benign one… hehe.

  10. Julia

    ZorkFox @ 4:02 pm — I get that that’s supposed to be a joke, but it’s not a very funny one.

  11. If you check the middle school rankings you will find Louisiana at number 45. http://www.swivel.com/data_sets/spreadsheet/1005319

    With this boneheaded law they should easily drop at least one or two more notches down the list.

  12. TK

    There are some renowned scientists that are saying science is beginning to point to Intelligent Design.

    There is nothing wrong in teaching the Theory of Evolution and the Theory of Creationism. Not to do so leads to ignorance about different ideas of how the universe got here. Why must the Theory of Evolution be taught as an absolute? It is a ‘theory’ after all.

    Why are some people so afraid to admit that there is a very large part of our global population that believes in something different than they do? One can teach opposing ideas without denying the student the opportunity to make a personal choice… can’t they?

  13. justcorbly

    John Paradox: Those Biblical quotes date from a time when Roman officials really were out to get Christians who were doing nothing more than practicing their faith. All those warnings do today is foster paranoia.

    I don’t care what people believe, and i expect them to return the courtesy. But I draw the line at behavior. Forcing people to behave in ways that accord with your own religious beliefs is not a matter of religion or faith. it’s just plain evil.

  14. Julia

    TK @ 4:25 pm — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory#Science: “In scientific usage, a theory does not mean an unsubstantiated guess or hunch, as it can in everyday speech. A theory is a logically self-consistent model or framework for describing the behavior of a related set of natural or social phenomena.”

    I’m personally not “afraid to admit” that other people have different ideas about the natural history of the world than I do. That’s not the issue. The point is, it’s not science, and it therefore does not belong in a science class.

  15. Frett

    I live in Mexico, and even when our country is deeply religious and full of superstitious nonsense, we have a very deep sense of separation of church and state. When the archbishop of the catholic church comments on some political issue, the very politicians respond quite fast by saying that the church should stay away from meddling in politics. The founding of every religious institution to date was based on trying to exact control over the people. The rise of democratic nations begun with the clear notion of taking the control from the monarchy and church and giving it to the people.

    We have a very famous political figure here in Mexico, he’s a hero to our people, his name was Benito Juarez, our own Lincoln, who was raised in poverty and through his own merits became president. His highest achievement was separation of church and state and free universal basic education for our children. Our political system may be flawed, but at least is a reflection of our own cultural idiosyncrasies and not from the intervention of imaginary beings in the sky that wish to impose a dogmatic moral law to keep power in the hands of robe wearing pedophiles.

  16. Justcorbly – thats a silly statement to make. We all accept laws that force behavor to some sort of “moral code”, it’s called the social contract.

    I would state the laws that force BELIEFS are wrong, but laws that force behavior is just silly… we have plenty of laws that force behavior and we mostly agree that those are for the good of society.

  17. Dallas

    As a Louisianan, I am extremely disappointed, yet not surprised.

    I started a Science Club at my high school here is Bossier City and most of our meetings were geared to talking about evolution and the origins of the universe. I even included some meetings on skepticism and critical thinking, and we discussed the horrors things like intelligent design would bring to us if they were implemented into our educational system.

    I’m going to Centenary College next year, but I think this has convinced me more than anything to keep going back to my old high school to try to keep my Science Club a live, and hopefully continue to do my osteology/evolution presentations to the biology classes. I’m sure they’ll need them even more now.

  18. BradB

    TK I hate to argue with you. But just because there is a slim minority of scientists who think something does not mean it should be in science. The vast, really really vast majority of evidence says that evolution is on the completely right track. Looking at parts and pieces of data out of context is how people end up thinking that it is feasible to argue against evolution. Further more, a degree does not mean the persons credentials are good. Its not that people in my line of thinking are afraid of other theories. We are afraid of something that is completely wrong according to a mass of accumulated data being “preached” as a theory. Further more what of other ways the earth has been created? I bet while jumping on the creationism bandwagon you would look at people like the Raëlism’s (or whatever you would call the Raëlism followers) like a bunch of nut jobs. The same lack of data that is touted by the creationists could also be used to support them, and likely countless other groups.

  19. Nangleator

    It’s finally time to push through the Flying Spaghetti Monster agenda!

  20. whb03

    @John Paradox -

    I’m a little confused, are you serious or sarcastic? My point (made sarcastically) is that prohibiting ID from being taught in public schools – in nothing less than a SCIENCE classroom – IS NOT PERSECUTION! Nobody has the right to be persecuted for their beliefs – and that goes for Christians AND Athiests. Like it or not.

    So if I read you wrong, I apologize. But if I read you right… Stop whining about being persecuted. Christians can hardly complain about being persecuted under this administration. But forcing ID – that IS persecution.

  21. Julia

    Ryan Smith @ 4:32 — I think justcorbly’s point was that we cannot make laws concerning behavior specifically based on religious belief.

    Big Mac @ 4:37 — Congratulations, you’re at least tied for the most offensive statement I’ve heard today, both by people (presumably) arguing in favor of science. It makes me sad.

  22. I’m with Nangleator. It’s time for somebody down there to demand equal treatment for the Noodly One. And if they don’t get it, sue for religious discrimination.

    Not that this will be necessary; this law will be overturned as soon as it gets in front of a Federal court.

    Sheesh. And I grew up there. How I managed to get a decent science education, I’ll never know.

  23. Duane

    >> science is beginning to point to Intelligent Design. <<

    Can you, or anyone, name A SINGLE HYPOTHESES that has been INDEPENDENTLY VERIFIED that points to **ANYTHING** Intelligent Design has to say about how the Universe came to be?

    Anything? Anything at all?

    Bueller?

  24. Julia

    Self edit: That probably should be “I think justcorbly’s point was that we *he does not agree with forcing behavior* specifically based on religious belief.” Sorry, I somehow read it as related to making laws specifically, but I don’t want to put words in anyone’s mouth.

  25. James Barsby

    The best place for religion is in a history book.

  26. Randy A.

    The BA wrote “it’s up to us to turn this around and bring Louisiana, kicking and screaming, into the 21st century.”

    I agree, it’s up to us. But I’ll settle for bringing Louisiana into the 20th century — Darwin’s work, “Origin of Species” was published in 1859 and widely accepted by the turn of the century.

    TK wrote, “There is nothing wrong in teaching the Theory of Evolution and the Theory of Creationism.” I agree that all theories should be taught — but the “theory of creationism” does not exist. Creationism is just misguided religious dogma. Anybody who believes in creationism should pull their head out of their [ventral orifice] and join Louisiana in trying to catch up to reality.

  27. justcorbly

    Ryan Smith: You can’t force belief. That’s impossible. But, you can’tforce children to sit in a public school and be forcefed religious dogma. it doesn’t make any difference if the majority of people in Louisiana support this.

    This is a great reason to stay away from Louisiana and to take our business elsewhere.

  28. 125815888g

    LOL, Nangleator!
    “It’s finally time to push through the Flying Spaghetti Monster agenda!”

  29. Justin

    This truly is a sad day for me as a Louisianian. I guess I’m glad that I graduated from high school a few years ago. These are going to be in for quite a shock when they can’t get away with “God did it” in a college biology class. My Biology 101 professor at Louisiana Tech was a very vocal critic of creationism and flat out called it stupid.

  30. Ian

    “Theory of Creationism”

    LOL. Is there any peer reviewed research and data that backs this theory up?

    Theories without data are just ideas. No data? No theory.

    P.S. The bible is not data.

  31. David

    Ever get the feeling you’re banging your head on a wall? The feeling that you are out of step with everyone around you because you see things like this Bill and get angry – and most people don’t?

    Rational people the world over are the minority now as ever.

  32. Hyperbole, anyone?

    The same things were said about Kansas. What happened in Kansas? The state didn’t end. In fact, the people responsible were voted out of office.

    Josephine and justcorbly, please stop comparing fundamentalist Christians and Muslims. Do you really think you can compare the two? Maybe when Christians start flying planes into buildings, publicly hanging homosexuals, stoning women for adultery, killing daughers and sisters because of “honor” and forcing compliance with their laws by the sword, I’ll agree with you.

    I think that video that Phil linked yesterday talked about something like that. Someone brings up fundamentalist Christians, and to argue against them, people bring radical Islamists and fundamentalist Muslims into the discussion to prove that fundamentalist Christians are bad.

    This is a law, for better or for worst, passed according to the laws of the state and the nation. There were no lives threatened. No one was killed.

    Ryan Smith mad a good point.

    I guess I am saying I agree with probably most posters and Phil on this subject, this is a bad law and shouldn’t be passed, but what I am saying is that if the scientific community continues to propagate a culture of anger and malice towards the religious community, and they do likewise then we will see MORE of these types of laws passed.

    In the Brian Dunning video from yesterday, he never once went to the extremes that Phil and some of the commenters here did with regard to the Evolution/ID/Creationist debate. I was expecting him to tackle it head on, but he didn’t even mention it at the end when he was going through the different areas of study in school. He stepped around it ever so lightly, and you knew what he was talking about, but he never argued that the sky is falling like I’m reading here.

  33. Justin

    I would like to say that this is a mostly northern Louisiana phenomenon. I grew up in Gonzales, LA just outside Baton Rouge. When I moved to Ruston, LA I was floored by increase in “bible thumping.” There are literally more churches than gas stations and the BCM “Baptist Collegiate Ministry” is largest organization on campus. I also noticed that the author of this bill is from Monroe. So Big Mac, as you can see, the “coonasses” have little to do with this nonsense.

  34. TK

    Let me first be clear I have ‘not’ revealed whether I believe in Creationism or Evolution. Interesting; the assumptions and defensive tone that has been taken.

    Julia– My point is that ignoring the fact that a large part of the global population believes in Creationsim seems like denial. I don’t see the danger of mentioning it as an opposing belief while teaching evolution.

    BradB, Duane & Ian– The scientist I am speaking of are physicists. Their science does not exclude evolution and they do not call the intelligence behind the design God.

    I don’t believe that teaching Creationsim would be tantamount to a bible study class.

  35. Tom

    I am a Louisianan, and a member of the SBC. I’m not supposed to have an argument in this – BUT – my main argument against this is that it serves no purpose other than the “we are right, you are wrong” attitude that is prevalent today.

    I don’t know what is happening in Louisiana, or in other parts of the country – read some of the news articles on the web, there’s a big amount of “God did it” circulating around. It isn’t the states or school systems that are failing, it’s the retarded adults! These are people who know better, who have been taught evolution as fact, and now, for religious and political gain, want to make it “right”.

    I personally believe in God. I believe also that the universe doesn’t lie to us about its age. How this 6000 years came to be so widely accepted, I don’t know – it was until recently just assumed to be the age Bishop Ussher set using biblically recorded dates. Now, the fanatics – and mainline folks – use it as a fact!

    Ah well, Louisiana – where the push for the legislation is lost in our politicians threatening to give themselves 300% raises or just ignore what the governer sends them….

    Good ole boys. And gals. Teach evolution, please. Teach creation in another class if you must, but it isn’t science. My kids are out of school, and I really feel for those students we now have.

  36. whb03

    @TK

    “There are some renowned scientists that are saying science is beginning to point to Intelligent Design.”

    “My point is that ignoring the fact that a large part of the global population believes in Creationsim seems like denial.”

    No problem. But until evidence – real evidence which cannot be disproven until more evidence comes along – supports ID or Creationism, KEEP IT OUT OF THE SCIENCE CLASSROOM AND ESPECIALLY OUT OF PUBLIC EDUCATION!!!!! Otherwise you are destroying science. Period.

    “I don’t believe that teaching Creationsim would be tantamount to a bible study class.”

    It isn’t tantamount to a science class either.

    Believe what you believe. Don’t force those beliefs into the science classroom. At least not until we have CLEAR evidence of such a notion, not just some “renouned scientists” beginning to point to ID. That simply denies people the education they deserve, the one which teaches the scientific truth as evidenced by unbiased research. Religious doctorine does not belong in the science classroom.

  37. TK

    Science would not exist without the unknown!

  38. Julia

    TK @ 5:46 — Since your question — “Why are some people so afraid to admit that there is a very large part of our global population that believes in something different than they do?” — was not directed solely at either side of the argument, it’s perfectly valid for anyone to respond to it as though they were included in the “some people”. I did notice that you never stated your position on the subject, but your misinterpretation of the term “theory” in regard to evolution is one I’ve seen used by others to argue in favor of teaching creationism.

    I don’t see where anyone’s ignoring that a lot of people believe in creationism. The argument being made is that, no matter how many people believe in it, it does not qualify as science, and therefore has no place in science education. There is no way to teach it from a scientific perspective, because it completely disregards science at every turn.

    As far as simply mentioning that some people believe it, I don’t see the point. There are a lot of subjects on which some people possess completely unsubstantiated beliefs; do we take time to mention all of them? How do we decide which unsubstantiated beliefs deserve class time and which don’t?

    “Mentioning” it is about all you can do: “Some people believe that the earth was created by an intelligent being in six days, is only 6000 years old, that all changes within a species were accomplished within that time frame rather than over millions of years. There is no evidence whatsoever to support this.”

  39. TK

    Julia–

    “Some people believe that the earth was created by an intelligent being in six days, is only 6000 years old, that all changes within a species were accomplished within that time frame rather than over millions of years. There is no evidence whatsoever to support this.”

    Not bad! Maybe that last sentence could say that there are some quantum physicists who are currently searching for more evidence of intelligent design and that is the ‘true nature’ of science.

  40. xav0971

    To Steve: Most Muslims don’t “fly planes into buildings, publicly hang homosexuals, stone women for adultery, kill daughers and sisters because of “honor” and forcing compliance with their laws by the sword.” The extremists are the ones doing this. Bigotry is a big problem in this country and is unacceptable behavior..

  41. Andrew

    Are you serious? How bizarre! America – the land of the free? I don’t think so! LouiseyAnna, its time to exercise your democratic right to vote or not as the case may be.

  42. Stark

    TK -

    Please name one of the “renowned sicentists” who you now reveal to be “quantum physicists” who believe in ID over Evolution.

    I ask because we have a community here which happens to contain it’s fair share of “renowned scientists” – including those who work is in quantum physics. Also, being an armchair physicist (as my full time job won’t allow more), I tend to read as many article and journals as I can get my hands on regarding physics and I have seen exactly zero mention of any quantum physicists (renowned or little known) looking into anything of the sort. I would love to be pointed in the direction of any physicist doing research into this area… although I really have trouble grasping how quantum physics research or theory could lead to an investigation of intelligent agency in the universe.

  43. tamar

    Let’s take bets on how long other southern states will follow suit.

  44. TK

    Stark–

    I am currently going through my notebooks to find the names of the 2 quantum physicists who lectured not on intelligent design, but the discoveries they are making at the quantum level which led to statements of possible intelligent design. Possible.

    Here is a link to some interesting information regarding intelligent design. I am not trying to convince anyone of anything except to be more scientific and keep an open mind.

    http://is.gd/wgD

  45. This is getting off-topic.

    xav0971on, have you heard the term “American Taliban?” It’s thrown around on Reality-Based Community sites. It’s an attempt to compare conservative Christians with the murderous regime of the Taliban. Every time I see someone comparing “fundamentalist” Muslims and Christians, I see that term.

    I didn’t say most Muslims do that. The issue was comparing fundamentalist Muslims (read radical) and Islamists (radicals) to Christians.

    I’ll rephrase.

    Maybe when fundamentalist/radical Christians/Christianists start flying planes into buildings, publicly hanging homosexuals, stoning women for adultery, killing daughers and sisters because of “honor” and forcing compliance with their laws by the sword, I’ll agree with you.

  46. TK

    Stark– Sorry about that link! It’s really hard to find web info on this subject sans religion. Lot’s of scientists but they have religious bias. The physicists who lectured are frequently on documentaries shown on the Discovery and Science channels. I’m still digging, it’s been 3 years since the lecture and I suppose if they’d found the intelligence that designs we all would have heard of it by now.

  47. kkozoriz

    Steve,

    What about the Christian that parked a bomb in front of a building in Oaklahoma city? Or set off a bomb at a lesbian bar in Georgia? Or tied Matthew Sheppard to a fence and beat him nearly to death and left him to die? Christians all. I’m not saying all Christians did those things but the people that did were Christian.

    “The Church says the Earth is flat. But I know that it is round. For I have seen the shadow on the Moon. And I have more faith in a shadow than in the Church.” — Magellan

  48. TK

    Stark– One was Brian Greene

  49. Jack

    Finally! Louisianans are getting the education they deserve. I hope Bobby Jindal passes this and sets a precedent for all the other states to follow. Evolution… HA… what a joke! If we evolved from monkeys… how come there are still monkeys?

  50. Blaidd Drwg

    Steve, Have you been paying attention lately? Listen to the wonderful, Christ-filled words of Rod Parsley, John Hagee, Jerimiah Wright, or Pat Robertson, or read the words of Tom Willis:
    ” Therefore, in a sane society, evolutionists should not be allowed to vote, or influence laws or people in any way! They should, perhaps, make bricks to earn enough to eat…The facts warrent (sic) the violent expulsion of all evolutionists from civilized society…”

    The difference is only a matter of degree, and (so far) legal restraint.

  51. Justin

    Jack,

    That was a joke right?

  52. TK

    kkozoriz– I’m not sure any of those folks claim to fame was being a Christian.

  53. Ryan Smith said:

    what I am saying is that if the scientific community continues to propagate a culture of anger and malice towards the religious community, and they do likewise then we will see MORE of these types of laws passed

    Blame the victim?

    Steve said:

    Maybe when fundamentalist/radical Christians/Christianists start flying planes into buildings, publicly hanging homosexuals, stoning women for adultery, killing daughers and sisters because of “honor” and forcing compliance with their laws by the sword, I’ll agree with you.

    Only extremist fly planes into buildings. The other stuff, however, is only limited by secular laws and lack of opportunity in the west. Do you think the fundies wouldn’t be stonin’ and beheadin’ and hangin’ if we let their book become law?

  54. I grew up in the UK and went to a state run school which included saying prays and singing hymms. But in science class we were taught science which included proving that something was the way it was using scientific principles.
    We also had a religious studies class where we were taught about god and jesus and the bible. They are two different subjects and Creationism/ID is a theory which is largley NOT supported by scientists therefore should not be taught in science class. It is a theory of life that is supported largely by christians and should therefore be taught by those people for those people either at home or in church.
    In fact science teachers out there should see this for what it is and not teach the Goddy, Jesusy Bibley Creation stuff in science class, even if they can.
    I now live in New Zealand where the teachings are similar in many ways to the UK and will be happy that my kids are taught the right subject in the right class.

  55. allen champagne

    Don’t blame me. I voted for Foster Campbell. I tried to warn people that Piyush Jundal was a no good Nixonian hack. But being he has been building a campaign war chest since losing in ’03, and called his opponents “crooks” without one shred of evidence on any illegal activity. I wish he had been elected in ’03 because he would have been voted out due to Katrina backlash.

    But hey, we’re the same state that brought you such demogagues as Huey Long and Jim Garrison and family values adulturers as Bob Livingston and David Vitter. At least we rejected David Duke so it can’t be all that bad here….

  56. whb03

    @TK -

    “Science would not exist without the unknown!”

    The unknown is not science. It’s belief. Don’t teach it a science. Is that so g—–n hard to understand?

    “Not bad! Maybe that last sentence could say that there are some quantum physicists who are currently searching for more evidence of intelligent design and that is the ‘true nature’ of science.”

    “SOME” alleged quantum physisists are SEARCHING for ANY evidenceof ID, but THEY HAVE NOT FOUND IT! That makes it NOT SCIENCE! Don’t teach it as science until it is scientifically validated. Is that so g—–n hard to understand?

    “I am not trying to convince anyone of anything except to be more scientific and keep an open mind.”

    Fine, but keeping an open mind does not make it science unless it can be scientifically validated, and thus should not be taught as science! Is THAT so g—–n hard to understand? I’m repeating myself, but I am having a really hard time equating open minds with teaching completely invalidated nonscientific beliefs as science.

    No wonder the rest of the western world is killing us economically and scientifically!

    Not science ain’t science and shouldn’t be taught as science. Believing it does not make it science. Get it? Or is that not open minded enough?

  57. Bob Magness

    It really scares me that there are people who believe that Creationism should be given any time in a science class at all. The science classroom is for learning science. There is nothing science related in Creationism. The only way we could talk about Creationsim in a science classroom would involve demonstrating how it absolutely does NOT live up to the rigors of scientific evidence. Of course, this would cause religious people to get upset and would complain their beliefs were being denigrated in a public school classroom. So it is just better to keep it out all together. Now, if they want to teach about it in a humanities class like comparative religion, I donâ??t really have a problem with that, assuming it is taught impartially.

    If I hear â??evolution is just a theoryâ?? one more time I think my head will explode. Merely stating that phrase reveals the speakerâ??s ignorance of science and the scientific method. Evolution is a fact. What hasnâ??t been established as fact yet is the precise mechanics of the process. Just like the theory of gravity. We donâ??t yet know exactly how it works, but it is a fact that it exists. Both the theory of evolution and the theory of gravity have â??provenâ?? themselves through the scientific method (yes, I know in scientific circles the word proof is saved for things mostly in the mathematical arena). If evolution were true one could make predictions about what they would find in the fossil record and in genetics, as has been the case time and time again.

    Please give me a testable hypothesis for Creation. Once we can come up with just one testable, falsifiable, hypothesis for Creationism THEN we will have found justification to discuss it in a science classroom. This should not be a difficult task if Creationism has any footing in reality.

    I feel bad for the students of Louisiana. I canâ??t help but think this is going to hinder their chances in getting into high quality colleges.

  58. TK

    Science exists as an attempt to define the unknown. Sometimes it can and sometimes it can’t! Why would we need science if we already knew what everything was, how it all works and where it actually came from. Mon deui

  59. IBY

    This is deeply disturbing, I thought it would never get close to a pass. When I was like 14, I turned from evolution to creationism, and it was pretty easy to be done, and it is a difficult mindset to get over. Fortunately, it only lasted two years, after reading all the evidences for it, and this blog kind of helped :) I hate it when they try to brainwash children with things that are not true, especially when they do not have the necessary tools to get over it, and most of them certainly won’t investigate evolution more closely. I REALLY hope it is stopped.

  60. AC

    @Shane: 8:01pm
    The victims are everyone on both sides.

    The funny thing I find about some scientifically minded people claiming to be the last vestiges of sanity and rationality in this world is their refusal to see their malice and hate as part of the problem adding to the animosity between religion and science. Both sides are to blame, anyone thinking they are innocent is foolish in that respect.

    And lets not act like any hardline/fundamentalist group of ANY kind isn’t capable of atrocities, not just the religious ones. All humans are capable of atrocities and it’s not due to religion. It is the corrupted human mind that does such things and the corrupting factor has no limits on subject.

    Science itself may as well be a religion when its theories/doctrine are used in someone’s agenda to force it upon people.

    “and it’s up to us to turn this around and bring Louisiana, kicking and screaming, into the 21st century.”

    What a rational thought. Forcing what you want upon people. A more proper suggestion would be to make sure a class like the one proposed is an elective and not mandatory. After all schools use tax dollars and some of those tax dollars are paid by people whose kids may want to take something like that as an elective. Who are you to say they should not be allowed to do that as an elective? No wait, only science knows what is best for us and we should not have the free will to take any electives that have any kind of religious attachments.

    All hail the new science fundamentalist message boards at BA. No better than any other hateful religious fundamentalist foundation, christian or muslim or islamic. Don’t get any religious ideas or we will berate you publically for being retarded because we know everything.

    I’m not a random troll that stumbled here. I used to read BA often back in 2003, loved all the moon hoax articles. I showed many people those articles. I knew quite a few people that thought they really were faked (and in case you’re wondering, no they were not religious people, they just LOVED conspiracy theories). Lately all i see is a loathing of anything to do with religious ideas. As if religious people are complete idiots just because of what they believe and they only believe it because they don’t know any better. Fact is I believe because of what ive been through in life, not because it was dogmatically beat into me. Does that make me a moron that needs to be lead around by the nose by science? Well i’m sure you think so. After all: “religion is a crutch for people who can’t think for themselves” -bumper sticker

    I’m sure you all find that one very funny but in fact it’s that kind of sentiment that fuels this fire we’re crowding around wondering why it’s not dying. Personally i’d rather just get along with people, live and let live. I understand the arguement against this proposed class but vicious attacks garner vicious defense. Stop trying to do everyone a favor and instead take it on with tolerance.

    last post, don’t worry i’m not gonna bug you all, i’m gone, peace out…

  61. Two things:

    http://copache.wordpress.com/2008/06/13/do-something-in-louisiana-quick/

    I figure I would detail, yet again, the problem.

    Also, a list of creationist failures that is very tentative and new for you all:

    http://copache.wordpress.com/list-of-creationist-failures/

  62. Pat

    Steve – we get into “no true Christian” – David Koresh was a Christian. Granted, you’ll more than likely claim he wasn’t – but his was a sect of Christianity all the same, much like Wahabism in Saudi Arabia. What Wahabism has over David is that it’s institutionalized, and now is free to lay down morality legislation and put into national law a single Islamic interpretation of correct behavior. Much like the fundamentalist agenda of Ave Maria in Florida. Look it up, and you’ll see why I don’t ever order Dominos. Religious law begets discrimination because it doesn’t have the fundamental protection the Constitution offers.

    That protection? Protection of the minority from the tyranny of the majority. Being “the most” doesn’t mean your reality is greater. It’s what keeps the majority from enacting laws that infringe on civil rights that are guaranteed in the Constitution to all citizens.

    That’s why separation of church and state is essential: we have to be free to question laws, and evaluate laws against basic rights. Most religions, oddly enough, speak of being “chosen” and uplift a select portion of the population, often unfairly.

    Pushing creationism is automatically infringement of that separation, because it provides establishment for one small sect of Christianity only. It is religious because it cannot be disproven, because it eschews evidence or analysis. It is not science, period – so it doesn’t belong in science class.

    Study it another time in comparative mythology under alternate cosmologies, along with the alternate Nyx or Ouranos or whomever.

  63. Pat

    Ah, AC. Nice of you to light a fire and punch out. Religion is fine. It is not, however, science. When somebody attempts to prove their religion, or claim it can be shown empirically like science, it is no longer a faith really.

    It is very telling that people attempt to use the trappings of science to claim scientific veracity. The term “science” itself, as if that confers the magic ingredient to make the thing in question objectively true. Then the idea that publishing in a journal with citations also makes it objectively true. All the while, the central tenet of science is ignored. Repeatable experiment? Not from a premise of miracles. Not even statistics can save revelation theology.

    Science belongs in a science class, because it can show a long train of gathered evidence and observation leading to conclusions, rather than foregone conclusions with clumsy attempts at anecdotal “evidence” tacked on. It’s also often a case of projection with the attempts made to make evolution out as subject to this description. But then, how many who level accusations of “Darwinists” not reading the bible have truly and without prejudice actually read “On the Origin of Species.” It isn’t a 500-word term paper. It’s a hefty book, and it’s all based on reason and evidence, if you’re open to that.

  64. Chip

    A footnote – as science goes so goes art and culture. Though it hasn’t happened yet, my musicians friends in New Orleans, in and near the French Quarter have from time to time faced occasional condemnation for the evils of “Jazz” (i.e. Jazz and Blues music) coming from conservative churches that want to curtail or limit the night clubs as well as the night time street musicians in certain busy areas. Only thing is, the New Orleans music and art scene is world famous and brings in much needed revenue for the city, so the right-wing complaints are squashed. The fundamentalist’s disdain for critical thinking, scientific theory and specifically evolution, all of which they fear as a threat to their control will also deny the State income in the long term by calling into question the qualifications of acceptable, educated students.

    As many people know, creationism and intelligent design are political agendas used as leverage against free thought and critical thinking.

  65. geomaniac

    Thanks for posting this Phil. It needs as wide an audience as possible.

    http://deltasierraclub.blogspot.com/2008/06/not-exactly-scary-environmental-issue.html

    Sometimes Louisiana is a scary place to live. Most of the time…

  66. AC, where you see scientific fundamentalism I see a vigorous defence of rationality and the scientific method. No amount of special pleading will make the religious viewpoint science. Until you have evidence it is just wrong from a scientific standpoint and does not belong in the science class. We have the right, darn it, we have the duty to speak up when rationality is under attack. And it is under attack.

    No one is saying the religious don’t have the right to believe what they want to believe. There is an appropriate forum for that to take place and it is not the science classroom. There are supposedly 300000 churches in the USA (so much for the persecuted minority). Go there and proselytise to your hearts content, shout it from the roof tops or broadcast it on your Christian radio and TV networks but keep out of the classroom.

    Personally I think it’s turtles all the way down, but that ain’t science.

  67. What a dissapointing day for Louisiana and even more so for the people who go to their schools who now have to put up with crap like Creationist dogma being taught in their science classes.

    Heres hoping this bill either never makes it (divine intervention??), or people pursue some legal avenue to prevent it ever being implemented. If only you could sue the numbskulls who implemented the bill, as opposed to the taxpayer funded state institiution.

    I visited the USA a few years ago, and enjoyed my stay. But I am sure glad I live here in New Zealand where nearly 50% of the population refuses to believe in the big dude in the sky with the big stick who’s “bringin’ the rapture!”.

    What a shame.

  68. John Phillips, FCD

    Steve: When people use the term American Taleban, it is not so much that they are being equated with flying planes into buildings or similar, but a comment on the desire and intent of some fundy xians to turn the US into a theocracy. See the wedge document for an example of such intent by those who funded and created the IDiot institute and who are the ones often behind such laws as these. They can’t win on the evidence, as was seen in Dover, so they use their political clout with like minded politicians instead. Allied with this is the fundies desire to control every aspect of others lives, especially that of women and what they can do with their bodies as well as their attitudes to gays and anyone else who doesn’t follow their particular credo. The slipping in of the means to teach creationism as legitimate science is simply one part of this strategy.

    AC: When we talk about bringing them kicking and screaming into the 21st. Century, though the 20th. would be a nice start, we are not talking about forcing them to abandon their beliefs, simply not teach creationism as science. Want to discuss it in comparative religion or social studies or similar, fine no problem. However, in science, no, for it isn’t science as there is no evidence for it and science is about the evidence.

  69. Jon

    “Teach the controversy” is one of the most absolutely annoying catch phrases I’ve ever heard. My only complaint against people that support evolution is that they don’t push that phrase on other subjects sensitive to the creationists. Seriously, let’s push for teaching the controversy in sexual education classes!

  70. AC said: “Lately all i see is a loathing of anything to do with religious ideas.”

    Really? That’s all you see from me? Ignoring all the good science I’ve been posting about, where have I said that all religion is loathesome?

    Answer: nowhere. I have railed against fundamentalism, the literal interpretation of the Bible over observable facts, and mocked — lightly — people who see apparitions of supernatural beings in everyday objects.

    That’s a far cry from your accusation.

    What I do loathe are people trying to force their belief system on other people. And before anyone says it, no, science is not a belief system.

    I am not trying to stop creationists from believing what they want (though if they all woke up one morning and saw reality for what it is I would indeed be very happy). I am trying to stop them from undermining our education system.

    See the difference? One side is trying to uphold the Constitution. The other side is trying to drown it.

  71. Blu-Ray-Ven

    well we could give louisinana back to the french

  72. Yes blu-ray-ven, but the key question is – would they want it now?

  73. Bob Magness

    “well we could give louisinana back to the french”

    They wouldn’t take it.

  74. Scooter

    I’m a Christian and I don’t believe Creationism should be taught in public schools. Science is Science. Faith is Faith. Keep them seperate.

  75. Guinness Stout

    Part of me says that I shouldn’t rush to judge this until I can see what they will actually teach on the subject. That said though, it doesn’t sound like a very wise decision.
    I really can’t comprehend what motivates these kinds of actions. As a former atheist, I can understand a lot of the sentiments being expressed here.
    My break from religion started in the 9th grade when my Biology teacher informed us that she would not be teaching anything from the textbook (or from anywhere else) relating to evolution. Her evangelical religious beliefs forbid her from teaching such things. I went to a rather small public high school and we only had 2 science teachers. I was stuck with her for both of those years. And as if not teaching us evolution science was bad enough, she also thought it was her obligation to routinely expose us to the “flaws” of evolution theory that invalidated its reality. I don’t know…I guess she knew that a lot of us would be going off to college one day and she was giving us the shield we were going to need to protect us from accepting evolution. What she actually did was cripple me in college science because we were expected to know at least the basics of many things and evolution was one of those. That planted a seed of resentment in me that grew. So, that and an evangelical minister’s ludicrous explanation as to why my mother had to die of cancer tore it for me. And even though I never thought it would be possible for me to accept, I returned to Christianity 9 years ago and joined the Catholic Church. I’m very happy today for making that decision. But when I see people pushing for something like Creation in the classroom, I wonder if they understand what possible outcomes their actions will give birth to. I have often wanted to go back and look up my old science teacher (if she’s still around) and let her know that if it was her intention to make little atheists out of us, she did a great job.

  76. Colin

    AC, I’m right there with you, brother. It’s appalling how our children in science classes are being forced to study science. But it doesn’t stop there! I’ve heard rumours that maths students are being threatened with failure if they don’t study maths. And students in language classes are being forced to learn foreign languages – FOREIGN languages – right there in our own classrooms! Can you believe it?

    Forget all this ID/Creationism business. We need to get “Speaking in Tongues” introduced into language classes right away.

  77. man on the moon

    Move out?

    We need to move in! With enough numbers this sort of thing can be reversed. Without numbers (or with numbers ONLY going the other way) it’ll stay and/or decline. :(

    Yes to most of the above–even as a yec (younger days) I HATED hearing about this in science class. Alas, I think I am a minority. I hear from endless parents and even teachers–even from public schools–that I am crazy for not “slipping it in somewhere”. :( Sad face.

    Religion, yes, in science class, no. NO. NO NO NO NO!

    I’m going to go write a letter to the senators from Michigan where I grew up to say NO!

  78. Gonzo

    I fully expect this to be challenged in court, the law is clearly unconsitutional, no matter what the Louisiana state government says. In the meantime, I agree with the poster who said we should take our business to other states.

    Until this idiotic piece of legislation is struck down by the courts I will not buy products from, or visit the state of Louisiana. Funny thing is, I had a trip planned to New Orleans in the fall. I cancelled my reservations today, I will be taking the $1,000 I have saved for the trip to New Hampshire with me in late September, where I can spend it in reality.

  79. TJCS63

    Bible Creation Story, should get a 5 min’s the various Native North & South American Creation should each get 5 min’s. The various different European (i.e. norse, roman/greek…) should each get 5 min’s work your way around the world for a week’s or so worth of class’s. Have a open debate at then. This show’s that there are many myths on how, why, when it all got started. If we also point out when some of these myths were told/written down it would stir the pot even more.

    The put up a big sign, STORY TIME IS OVER, BACK TO THE REAL WORLD. This is how it happen as best we can prove with hard science. We may be missing information on a few chapters, going from start of life to today but we have Logic and FACTS to back it up. Not just “God told some one this is how it is”

  80. Guinness Stout

    I gave a quick look at the posts here to see if anyone had given a link to the actual bill. I didn’t see it so I’ll post the link.

    http://www.legis.state.la.us/billdata/streamdocument.asp?did=482728

    Sorry for the reprint if someone posted this before.

    And after reading it, one still doesn’t really know what the bill could do. And while it does say some things that made me feel at least a bit better, it’s way too vague in its wording. I’m fine with part of it. A science class should be able to bat around different points of view on issues such as global warming, stem-cell research and cloning because those things do in fact exist in the realm of science. The part about “the origins of life” though sounds a too much like “code words” to me.

  81. Darth Robo

    TK

    “Let me first be clear I have ‘not’ revealed whether I believe in Creationism or Evolution. Interesting; the assumptions and defensive tone that has been taken.”

    You didn’t have to. Your ridiculously stupid comment referring to Creationism as a “theory” and stating it deserves equal time with actual science, and THEN start accusing people of being “defensive” shows us all we need to know. You are talking nonsense. Unless you’re a Poe, in which case I apologise.

    >>>”I don’t see the danger of mentioning it as an opposing belief while teaching evolution.

    Science doesn’t deal with beliefs. That’s for religious studies.

    >>>”I don’t believe that teaching Creationsim would be tantamount to a bible study class.”

    Then get an edumacation.

    >>>”Not bad! Maybe that last sentence could say that there are some quantum physicists who are currently searching for more evidence of intelligent design and that is the ‘true nature’ of science.”

    Moo poo.

    >>>”Here is a link to some interesting information regarding intelligent design. I am not trying to convince anyone of anything except to be more scientific and keep an open mind.”

    To be MORE scientific would be to get rid of IDCreationism. The open minds were at court. ID “forgot” to bring their evidence.

    >>>”It’s really hard to find web info on this subject sans religion.”

    Gee, I wonder why? It’s not very hard on sites that deal with science. (shrug)

    >>>”Science exists as an attempt to define the unknown.”

    And it don’t help a dime by saying “Well if we don’t know summat, then GODDIDIT!”

    AC

    >>>”Both sides are to blame, anyone thinking they are innocent is foolish in that respect.”

    Funny, I don’t see other scientists breaking the law trying to get magic taught in class – except for those from the DI. (shrug)

  82. Darth Robo

    Steve

    >>>”Maybe when fundamentalist/radical Christians/Christianists start flying planes into buildings, publicly hanging homosexuals, stoning women for adultery, killing daughers and sisters because of “honor” and forcing compliance with their laws by the sword, I’ll agree with you.”

    It may be a bit early to compare fundie Christians to fundie Muslims at the moment, but that is in the end is what this whole thing is about. As some others have pointed out, there have been examples of violence committed by fundie Christians in the name of their God, and comparing them to Muslim fundamentalists is quite appropriate, in my humble opinion.

    Another interesting fact, that these “academic freedom” laws are based on strategies devised by the Discovery Institute, the creators of the “Wedge Document” that shows their intentions to replace the American Constitution with Christian theocracy. The DI are also funded in no small part by millionaire Christian reconstructionist, Howie Ahmanson, whose views DO include the stoning of gays, blasphemers etc and wants America to be run under Biblical based law. The only reason why thefundies can’t act like their Muslim counterparts is because they don’t yet have the power. But if they manage to indoctrinate the next generation of kids into happy, willing, righteous do-gooders for teh Lord, with absolutely no critical-thinking skills (which is what ID leads to) it may very well be a problem in the future.

    Maybe I’m painting a worst case scenario here, but an acceptance of ID would only lead to more fundamentalism. That is what it was *designed* for.

  83. Blu-Ray-Ven:

    well we could give louisinana back to the french

    Spankermatic

    Yes blu-ray-ven, but the key question is – would they want it now?

    Hey, the eat snails, don’t they? I’m sure they could come up with something to do with Louisiana. :-)

  84. Tom

    Just a note – I haven’t talked to, nor known, a single person who has backed this. Whoever pushed this, it was at a level known only to the legislators.

    This IS Louisiana – I don’t know where the evolution push came from. And NO, we aren’t a bunch of religious morons, either. You guys need to come visit and see how it is around here. It’s pretty much like everywhere else in the country.

  85. I think we need to get some good heads together and come up with FSM “science” topics that would have to be allowed in the classroom in the name of “academic freedom”.

    The State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education [BESE], upon request of a city, parish, or other local public school board, shall allow and assist teachers, principals, and other school administrators to create and foster an environment within public elementary and secondary schools that promotes critical thinking skills, logical analysis, and open and objective discussion of scientific theories being studied including, but not limited to, evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.

    Shouldn’t be too hard to get a FSM text that qualifies.

    You have your religious beliefs, and I have mine. Want to talk and discuss them? Fine. Want to force my kids to be “educated” in your religion, telling them that your beliefs are “science”? Sorry, no.

  86. Hell, why not also offer classes in sorcery and wizardry, using the Harry Potter series as official state sanctioned textbooks?
    Seriously: Is it any wonder that the United States is losing its edge in science?

  87. I really doesn’t matter. I grew up in a religion that believed the earth was 6,000 years old and God created all life in seven days. Eventually, you look around .. and you realize it’s all BS. I mean just look at Mt Everest. First that 30,000 foot mountain was not created in just 6,000 years nor was it ever covered in water by a great flood.

    So, eventually the rational ones realize what the skinny is and the others .. well you can’t cure crazy.

  88. Well, here’s to hoping it’s only a temporary dooming.

    Science in science classrooms, mythology in mythology classrooms.

  89. Cory

    If you can’t believe that the only thing that happens when you die is rot and decompose, then religion is for you. I love it when they quote from a book as some sort of proof. I’m going to start quoting from the Ringworld series as support of my jabber.

    I use this argument all the time -

    If I were to tell you there’s an invisible man living in your garage, you’d insist I was nuts and then go home and pray to an invisible being.

    Religion is and was nothing but a huge cultural scam. I pity those that cling to the silly and superstitious. I think it’s actually a good sign that the religious side is having to struggle so hard to get some magic hoodoo across…losing.

    Cory

  90. Lawrence

    Again, I’m surprised that anyone would want religion taught in public schools, given the horrible state that the US Public School system is in. We can’t properly teach our kids to read, much less saddle those teachers with now having to teach religious dogma at the same time.

    Many evangelicals would be very happy to see the US become a Theocratic State – much like Iran. Everything Christian – all the time…because there is never any mention of tolerance or respecting other belief systems (sounds an awful lot like the Taliban to me).

    And every time some complains that Christians are being discriminated against in this country, I have to laugh. Preventing them from forcing their beliefs on others is not discrimination – its the Constitution Stupid.

    Science is Science – people can believe whatever they like, but prove to me that the world was created in six days. Show me the empirical tests and evidence….see you can’t. Creationism is a belief – and that’s the way it should stay. I wouldn’t want someone telling me what to believe – I should be using my own wits, education, and common sense to be able to build my own understanding of the modern world.

    What I mean to say, is teach the facts – that’s what schools are for. And the fact is, religion, ID, etc are dogmas and have no place in public schools (especially Science class). Go ahead, teach Christianity as part of history class, same as you would any major belief system that has effected history and culture – Islam, Judaism, the Roman & Greek Gods, etc.

    If your religious beliefs are so frail or fragile to be shaken by what others think and do (that have nothing at all to do with you personally) – then maybe you need to believe in something else.

    I have the greatest respect for people of faith – as long as they don’t try to cram their faith down my throat. I happen to believe in common sense….which isn’t so common nowadays.

  91. Nicole

    RRRRRRAAAAAWWWWWRRRRRR

    (that’s my feeling on the subject)

  92. Matt

    More religion! You know, Shakespeare’s phrase “me thinks thou doth protesteth too much” comes to mind.

    You treat this with as much religious zeal as those you complain about BA and it’s ruining this site.

    As for Christians being like fundamentalist muslims, when Christians start exploding IEDs, kidnapping reporters and cutting off their heads, and flying airplanes into buildings, you’ll have a legitimate point.

    But you and I both know that is never going to happen and it’s a straw man arguement to demonize people of faith.

  93. Frances

    OK, I’m born and raised in Louisiana. I went to Catholic school as a child. I then went on to get a B.S. degree in biology from a Louisiana university. I was taught creationism in RELIGON class…not science class. That is because the idea has no scientific or factual credibility. Evolution is called a theory but in reality it is a fact. Organisms evolve to become better fit to their niche on this planet. I’m afraid that anyone who blindly believes that humans and everything else here were created in 7 days and have remained that way for X amount of years have done themselves a disservice. This world is filled with all sorts of knowledge and to literally believe every word of a book written over 2,000 years ago without any deductive reasoning is just silly.

    To each their own….My children will be exposed to all the wonderful knowledge out there. They will not be driven to believe something just because someone told them that everything in this one book is true and literal. I would never do that to my child! There are many beliefs and religions in the world and it is time for people to stop being egocentric and open their eyes……there are many ways to view the same situation! I’m sure no one person or religion has it all figured out. So…GET OFF YOUR HORSES and pray that your children will not become victim to this nonsense. You have the power to teach your children deductive reasoning.

  94. John Steele Gordon

    You should be as scientific about politics as you are about science. But when it comes to politics, you sound like a creationist: I have the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so I needn’t present any evidence of my assertions. Anyone who disagrees with me is a fool or evil by definition.

    (And before you dismiss me out of hand–with typically liberal elitist glee–for disagreeing with you, please note that I believe in evolution 100 percent and am so uninterested in religion that I can’t even be bothered to be an atheist, which is, after all, a form of religion: a belief in something not subject to proof.)

    1) The New York Times is not an agenda-free enterprise. When it comes to conservatives, it is not reliable. Nor is it reliable when it comes to liberals, for exactly the same reason.

    2) The article you link to (twice) does not say that Bobby Jindal is a creationist. It does say that he is “a serious Catholic”, a branch of Christianity that has no problem with evolution. The Catholic Church does not regard the Bible as literally true or the revealed word of God, but as a work that is “uniquely inspired.”

    3) The article quotes Governor Jindal, regarding evolution, only as saying “there’s no scientific theory that explains how you create organic life out of inorganic matter,” and that students should “decide for themselves.” I see no conflict with that statement and a belief in evolution. The origin of life is still a profound mystery. While there are any number of hypotheses, there is still no theory. I expect there won’t be until we can compare life on earth to life on other worlds. Just like the discovery of exoplanets allowed us to understand the origins of our own solar system much better than we did when it was the only one we knew of.

    4) You accuse Jindal of being “in the pocket of at least one far-right religious group.” But the link you give, to the same NYTimes article, says no such thing. It does say, however, that Gov. Jindal has been silent on the bill in question and has not indicated whether he would sign it or not. Scientists are supposed to evaluate evidence and draw conclusions on the basis of it. How about doing so, when you’re discussing politics and when you even link to an article that contains evidence contrary to what you are saying?

    5) You give away the game with your headline: Louisiana is doomed. Just a tad over the top, perhaps? Democracies survive bad laws all the time.

    6) When it comes to astronomy, you are great, because you’re a knowledgeable astronomer, gifted teacher, and good writer. When it comes to politics, you sound like what you say you hate most, an intolerant, clueless, crackpot. Stop diminishing yourself with this crap.

  95. Celtic_Evolution

    @ Matt

    You treat this with as much religious zeal as those you complain about BA and it’s ruining this site.

    Hold on…

    “You treat this with as much religious zeal as those you complain about BA and it’s ruining this site… for me.”

    There… fixed that for you.

  96. Celtic_Evolution

    @ John Steele Gordon

    When it comes to astronomy, you are great, because you’re a knowledgeable astronomer, gifted teacher, and good writer. When it comes to politics, you sound like what you say you hate most, an intolerant, clueless, crackpot.

    Hold on…

    “When it comes to astronomy, you are great, because you’re a knowledgeable astronomer, gifted teacher, and good writer. When it comes to politics, you sound like what you say you hate most, an intolerant, clueless, crackpot… to me.”

    There… fixed that for you.

  97. Robbie

    Yet another reason for school vouchers for parents. In general, removing government as much as possible from schools is highly desirable.

  98. themadlolscientist

    Have any legal authorities weighed in yet on the obvious unconstitutionality of this ridiculous piece of legislation? It’s not worth the toilet paper it’s written on.

  99. Stark

    John Steele Gordon….

    OK, let’s give this a try even though I realize I am most likely wasting my breath. Atheism is NOT a religion. It is a complete lack of religion. There is nothing to believe in! There are no tenents to be followed!

    Atheis is to religion as the vacuum of space is to atmosphere.

    Non-Belief is not equal to Belief.

    Why is this so hard for some folks to grasp?

    TK -
    Thanks for digging up a name for me. I’m somewhat familair with Brian Greens work and am sending him an e-mail asking if he can clarify about any work suggesting a possibility of intelligent agency in the universe. I’ll post if I hear anything back.

    I have to take exception to something you said though – specifically “Science would not exist without the unknown!”. This is not true.! While science regularly reveals the previously unknown there is nothing to say that when all that it is possible to learn has been learned (a likely impossibility due to nature of the universe I realize) that science, as a process, ceases to exist. It would not discover anything new anymore but it would still exist. The vast majority of science done doesn’t actually discover anything new after all – it merely serves to strengthen (or weaken as the case may be) the certainty of things we have already learned! This is why a paleontologist gets excited when they find another bone from a T-rex – even though there are already many complete skeletons known and catalogued – it serves as further evidence to support what we already know. It’s another brick in the foundation of knowledge if you will. In point of fact science doesn’t set out to discover the unknown at any point – it merely attempts to find causes for observed phenomenon – known things explained as it were.

  100. Robbie

    To Stark:

    (From Wiktionary.org.)

    atheist (plural atheists)

    1. A person who does not believe that deities exist; one who lacks belief in gods.
    * 2006, Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, page 51:

    Atheists do not have faith; and reason alone could not propel one to total conviction that anything definitely does not exist.

    2. A person who believes that no deities exist; one who denies the existence of all gods.

    I don’t think those definitions fit your definition of an atheist. Maybe you meant agnostic.

    agnostic (plural agnostics)

    1. A person who holds to a form of agnosticism, especially uncertainty of the existence of a deity.

    With those definitions, it is religious to say there is no God, which is an unprovable statement (despite what the esteemed Richard Dawkins says), which makes it faith or religion.

  101. Robbie

    Well, I think I misread what Dawkins said so I take that part back. The rest is good though.

  102. Ronn Blankenship

    When it comes to Bishop Ussher’s chronology, I’ve always wondered about his fixing the time of creation at 9:00 A.M. Is that 0900 UT, 9: A.M. Vatican Time, or 9:00 A.M. EST (Eden Standard Time)?

  103. John Steele Gordon

    Stark writes: “OK, let’s give this a try even though I realize I am most likely wasting my breath. Atheism is NOT a religion. It is a complete lack of religion. There is nothing to believe in! There are no tenents to be followed! Atheis[m] is to religion as the vacuum of space is to atmosphere. Non-Belief is not equal to Belief. Why is this so hard for some folks to grasp?”

    Perhaps because it’s not true?

    Despite your typically liberal-elitist snobbery about wasting your breath, let me see if I can make the simple clear even to someone as evidently rigid as Stark.

    Atheism (from the Greek, meaning, translating freely, “the doctrine of no god”) is defined as “A disbelief in the existence of deity; the doctrine that there is no diety.”

    A doctrine is something held to be true. Since the existence, or non-existence of a god, is something beyond the reach of science, it must, ipso facto be a religious doctrine. Atheism is thus a religion with a single belief–there is no god. It is a proposition not subject to testing and therefore, again ipso facto, unscientific.

    Agnosticism (from the Greek for “not known”), is “a belief in the unknowability of any ultimate reality, such as the existence of a deity.”

    Anyone with a decent respect for science must be agnostic when it comes to the existence or non-existence of a god.

    I’m an agnostic. Stark would seem to be one of those semi-educated intolerant jerks so characteristic of liberalism in its latter-day decadent phase.

  104. Robbie

    John Steele Gordon repeated what I said, but said it in a much better way. Thank you.

    Time to look up “ipso facto.”

  105. Celtic_Evolution

    @ John Steele Gordon

    A doctrine is something held to be true. Since the existence, or non-existence of a god, is something beyond the reach of science, it must, ipso facto be a religious doctrine. Atheism is thus a religion with a single belief–there is no god. It is a proposition not subject to testing and therefore, again ipso facto, unscientific.

    That might be to most convoluded, insipid piece of circular logic I’ve ever read. So let’s break it down, shall we?

    “A doctrine is something held to be true”

    Well… not really… actually, a doctrine is something taught, according to Merriam-Webster, since we’re so fond of quoting dictionary definitions. It is also defined as: “a principle or position or the body of principles in a branch of knowledge or system of belief”. So, even though you’re statement there is just flat WRONG… it’s the only thing approaching an accurate statement in that entire rant.

    “Since the existence, or non-existence of a god, is something beyond the reach of science, it must, ipso facto be a religious doctrine.”

    How on earth did you make the leap from the first statement to this one? That is simply a ridiculous assertion. The world of Tolkien, and thousands of other pieces of fictional literature is “beyond the reach of science”, ergo according to you it must be religious doctrine? That’s just goofy.

    “Atheism is thus a religion with a single belief–there is no god.”

    Well, since you based this statement off of an earlier erroneous claim, we can dismiss this one as well. Just cause you say it, don’t make it so. And again… read your own definition for cripes sakes! Atheis is a disbelief in the existence of deity. And again, since we like to quote dictionaries… let me define disbelief for you: “lack of belief; mental rejection of something as untrue”. So, how can LACK of belief be belief? >8(

    “It is a proposition not subject to testing and therefore, again ipso facto, unscientific.”

    Again, this is YOUR invention. Athiesm is NOT a proposition of ANYTHING. It is a refusal to accept a proposition of magical intervention. You can twist it and swirl it and stamp it with a letter “R” if you want, it won’t make you any more right.

  106. Robbie

    Celtic_Evolution you are way off, as usual.

    Celtic_Evolution: “Atheis[sic] is a disbelief in the existence of deity.”

    A disbelief in the existence of deity would then be a belief in the non-existence of deity no?

    There’s some logical term for this, but I can’t remember what it is. Basically, the principle is this: If you say something is true (or untrue), then the opposite must be untrue (or true).

    Just to repeat myself: If you don’t believe there is a God, then you believe there is not God. See?

    John Steele Gordon is quite right about agnosticism.

  107. Celtic_Evolution

    Oh… one other thing…

    “Anyone with a decent respect for science must be agnostic when it comes to the existence or non-existence of a god.”

    Nonsense! One has nothing to do with the other. Respect for science has zero to do with the existence of a god. A decent scientist, even a religious one, will be totally indifferent where a god is concerned, when it comes to science, or the scientific method. There are outstanding scientists who are religious. There are outstanding scientists who are atheist. There are outstanding scientists who are agnostic. What makes them outstanding is that they do not let their beliefs (or lack of) get entangled with their approach to science.

  108. Celtic_Evolution

    “Celtic_Evolution you are way off, as usual.”

    Typical ad-hom… pretty expected. Get some new material, would you please?

    “A disbelief in the existence of deity would then be a belief in the non-existence of deity no?”

    Circular logic, Robbie. I gave a second definition for “disbelief” that didn’t use the term “belief” at all. Twist it all you want. It’s still circular logic on your part.

    “John Steele Gordon is quite right about agnosticism.”

    Hold on…

    I think John Steele Gordon is quite right about agnosticism.”

    There… fixed that for you. These edits aren’t gonna be free forever, ya know.

  109. Irishman

    Guinness Stout said:
    > I gave a quick look at the posts here to see if anyone had given a link to the actual bill. I didnâ??t see it so Iâ??ll post the link.
    > And after reading it, one still doesnâ??t really know what the bill could do.

    I looked at the bill. It does seem very benign. No, it sounds constructive. Who wouldn’t advocate

    The State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education… allow[ing] and
    assist[ing] teachers, principals, and other school administrators to create and foster
    an environment within public elementary and secondary schools that promotes
    critical thinking skills, logical analysis, and open and objective discussion of
    scientific theories being studied….

    Who wouldn’t want

    Such assistance shall include support and guidance for teachers
    regarding effective ways to help students understand, analyze, critique, and
    objectively review scientific theories being studied….

    That sounds exactly like the thing that science advocates and critical thinkers should want. Here is where it gets sneaky:

    C. A teacher shall teach the material presented in the standard textbook
    supplied by the school system and thereafter may use supplemental textbooks
    and other instructional materials to help students understand, analyze, critique,
    and review scientific theories in an objective manner, as permitted by the city,
    parish, or other local public school board.

    Supplemental textbooks and other instructional materials… what does that mean? What is the quality of that material? How is it vetted? Is a Jack Chick tract considered “instructional materials”? How about Of Pandas and People?

    Of course, there is nothing now preventing teachers from bringing in supplemental material, as long as that material supports the approved teaching curricula. I mean, just the other day was advocating a video by Brian Dunning, Here Be Dragons.
    http://www.badastronomy.com/bablog/2008/06/11/here-be-dragons/

    Another thing to consider is what 4 items are specifically listed: evolution, origins of life, global warming, and human cloning. What do all four of those have in common? Huge social agendas being fought through the guise of science. Why didn’t they throw in abortion while they were at it?

    Then there’s this bit:

    D. This Section shall not be construed to promote any religious doctrine,
    promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs, or
    promote discrimination for or against religion or nonreligion.

    That sounds like an evenhanded response to concerns that people would bring religion into the science class. If this bill passes, I would hope this clause can be used judiciously to counter negative effects of the other sections.

    John Steele Gordon said:
    > [I] am so uninterested in religion that I canâ??t even be bothered to be an atheist, which is, after all, a form of religion: a belief in something not subject to proof.

    You are incorrect. I suggest you educate yourself with some light reading.

    http://atheism.about.com/od/aboutagnosticism/a/atheism.htm

  110. Cory

    Celtic – great stuff!

  111. Robbie

    Celtic_Evolution, what John Steele Gordon meant (as far as I can tell) is that a scientist is a logical thinker and understands that notion of God is not in the realm of science and cannot be falsified. The scientist therefore realizes that to say there is no God is stupid.

    Celtic_Evolution: “Typical ad-hom… pretty expected. Get some new material, would you please?”

    Actually, that’s not an ad-hominem attack at all. I said you are wrong and that is usual for you. If you’re wrong, it’s not an ad-hominem attack to say that you are.

    You’ve got to get your logical fallacies in order man. You don’t know what an ad-hominem attack is, nor an appeal to authority.

    I think you got circular reasoning wrong too. You just misunderstand the definition and don’t consider what it means. And I’m sorry, but I don’t see the definition of disbelief you mentioned. Please refresh me.

  112. Irishman

    Crappy code error.

    Then there’s this bit:

    D. This Section shall not be construed to promote any religious doctrine,
    promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs, or
    promote discrimination for or against religion or nonreligion.

    That sounds like an evenhanded response to concerns that people would bring religion into the science class. If this bill passes, I would hope this clause can be used judiciously to counter negative effects of the other sections.

    Meanwhile, part of the discussion has run ahead of my posted link.

    Once again, we are seeing a sematics discussion hobble rational discourse.

    John Steele Gordon, you are falling for a false dichotomy. Many atheists are also agnostics.

    Atheism is a lack of acceptance of the existance of a deity. In other words, there’s not enough proof to justify belief in said deity.

    Agnosticism is a statement about knowledge, correct. It is a measure of sureness. If the proposition is fundamentally unknowable, then the person is left with a choice. Do you operate as if the deity may exist without proof, or do you operate as if the deity does not exist without proof. An atheist chooses the latter.

    My question for you is how to you operate? Do you sometimes pray to a random deity on the possibility is it real, since you can’t know? Do you believe on even days and ignore it on odd days? It’s a pragmatic question, what is your approach to life on the topic? Do you operate as if deities exist or not? If not, you’re also an atheist.

  113. Celtic_Evolution

    Wow… don’t even know where to begin with that, and I’m really not interested in a mud-slinging fest with you. I’ll not argue your point about my use of “circular logic”… I’m not intending it as the “Begging the question” or “circular reasoning” fallacy to which you are attributing it (see… I do in fact know my logical fallacies)… and there’s probably a better, more accurate way of describing what I’m getting at… but since you’re being such a pompous jerk about it, I’ll not bother. I’m pretty sure you know what I’m getting at.

    So, I’ll answer this question: “And I’m sorry, but I don’t see the definition of disbelief you mentioned. Please refresh me.”

    http://www.badastronomy.com/bablog/2008/06/12/louisiana-epically-doomed/#comment-182397

    It was in that post… but since you clearly don’t read the whole post, just pick and choose what to attack (that’s not an ad-hominem attack since it’s clearly true, right?) I’ll repeat it: “mental rejection of something as untrue”.

    Now… I’m done with you.

  114. Robbie

    My apologies. I did read the post a couple times, but missed that or it didn’t stick. Everyone makes mistakes, let’s not get hostile now.

    If I picked and chose what to attack, then you would be totally right and it wouldn’t be an ad-hominem attack. I, of course, claim that I simply erred.

    With that cleared up, maybe we can get back on some sort of subject.

    Let’s take your definition: “lack of belief; mental rejection of something as untrue.” If you reject something as untrue do you not then accept the opposite as true? “I mentally reject the existence of God as untrue.” “I accept the nonexistence of God as true.” Are those not the same logical statement?

    To me, they clearly are, and this is the point. If you say there is no God, which is an unfalsifiable statement, then you have a belief, faith, religion.

  115. Stark

    John Steele Gordon

    Well, I see civility is not one of your capabilities while ad hominem seems to be your strong point. Ascribing me to being an “elitist snob” and “rigid” and, my favorite part “Stark would seem to be one of those semi-educated intolerant jerks so characteristic of liberalism in its latter-day decadent phase.” when you know absolutely nothing about me… nice work there. If you did read back through this blog you would find that when I do post I usually go out of my way to explain topics to folks and try engage them in earnest conversation – you on the other hand get offended and act like an ass. But hey, I guess that’s just my semi-educated elitist snobbery shining through.

    Perhaps you should read the BA’s posting rules, they are quite simple: Don’t be a jerk.

    It’s already been pointed out that disbelief does not, no matter how you might like it to, equal belief. Since you seem fond of dictionary definitions – Disbelief: mental rejection of something as untrue.

    Your own quoted definition: “Atheism (from the Greek, meaning, translating freely, “the doctrine of no god”) is defined as “A disbelief in the existence of deity; the doctrine that there is no deity.” ” makes it clear that atheism is not a belief (and therefore certainly not a religious belief).

    Now, if the only valid scientific conclusion to come to regarding god is that we don’t know then I guess that’s the only valid scientific for anything we cannot prove the non-existence of. So, in this category we have ghosts, the Loch Ness monster, bigfoot, honest politician, Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, Leprechauns…. so, should we then be agnostic about all of these items as well? Do you see what you are missing here? You cannot prove a negative assumption. It’s a logical impossibility.

    It is however the accepted method in science to ascribe truth to something that has been reliably demonstrated over and over and over again. To this end there have been many attempts at experiments to prove the existence of a god. Failures, every last one of them. There have been experiments to see if the effects of a god can be seen (prayer studies are a great example) and they have come back uniformly negative. Every experiment ever conducted to prove the existence of a god in way shape or form has failed. In science we call this falsifying a hypothesis – the hypothesis in this case being “If there is a god the effects of said god will be visible in some way shape or form.” You may disagree with the hypothesis but a god that cannot be noticed, for all practical and logical purposes, does not exist.

    You can choose to be agnostic about god, I couldn’t care less – but don’t try to sell me on the idea that agnosticism is the scientifically correct conclusion. Agnosticism ignores the data – data which says, rather unequivocally, that god does not exist.

    Should the data change, which I’ll concede it may, I’ll revisit my stance. It should be noted though that after well over a 100 years of applying the scientific method to the question of god’s existence that not one scientist has ever produced any supportive results that withstood even the slightest bit of review.

  116. truth

    “The Truth is that truth is 127 billion years old!
    the truth is that the earth was where god made the first robot
    the truth is that before god ever made another sole or begotten or made god made robots ,……THE TRUTH !
    the planetary system is supposeably a mix of megnetics and cyntrifical force, truth is that system is weak !….with out robots back then the planets would have smashed together!
    I remember my nightmares about it !
    well the bottom line is that its a mix of both devine chemical nature and creation setting the stops and goes when ,where ,what does what and a little ‘devine natural universal laws’ …..why things happen without influnce and then to be an influence !
    part of the whole contrivercey is that everyone does not understand that God allready has set the minimums and maximums to life and the universe and no NO NO the earth and or anyone just can not and will not be able to just stand up and make it all thier own !
    too bad ! ohwell for the curupt who wish to enslave all or any
    I say this ” HAHAAHAHAAhahaha you’ll never get me! HAHahaahahah”

    i.e. The rare blogist him self YHWH

  117. Ronn Blankenship

    The Truth is that “*truth*” needs a spell-checker.

  118. Lawrence

    It bothers me that the two sides of this arguement are:

    1) The Bible

    2) Hundreds of years of scientific research – visual observations, experiments, geology, physics, etc – with more and more improved technology which exposes more for the scientists to work with – which means improved theories and explanations for natural phenomenon.

    So, truly – which one of those makes sense to you?

    I’m not bashing religion – just people who cram their religion down my throat, to the detriment of my country, my children, and our future.

  119. allen champagne

    The Lord works in mysterious ways! Gov. Bobby Jindal along with half the state legislature just may be finished.

    http://www.nola.com/news/index.ssf/2008/06/house_approves_scaled_back_pay.html

    The stae legislature have voted themselves a 200%+ payraise and “Mr. Ethics” said he will not veto. So much for the “new day” he promised us.

  120. Ronn Blankenship

    Lawrence wrote:

    — begin quote —

    It bothers me that the two sides of this arguement are:

    1) The Bible

    2) Hundreds of years of scientific research – visual observations, experiments, geology, physics, etc – with more and more improved technology which exposes more for the scientists to work with – which means improved theories and explanations for natural phenomenon.

    So, truly – which one of those makes sense to you?

    I’m not bashing religion – just people who cram their religion down my throat, to the detriment of my country, my children, and our future.

    —- end quote —-

    There are millions of people in the US (and no doubt more worldwide) who allow their thought processes and subsequently their actions to be informed by both sources. Unfortunately in public the extremists tend to outshout them.

  121. Robbie

    Stark: “Agnosticism ignores the data – data which says, rather unequivocally, that god does not exist.”

    You apparently do not understand that whether there is a God cannot be proved or disproved.

  122. Jon Mitchell

    As a student of the Louisiana School System, this hurts me.

  123. Darth Robo

    John Steele Gordon

    >>>”A doctrine is something held to be true. Since the existence, or non-existence of a god, is something beyond the reach of science, it must, ipso facto be a religious doctrine. Atheism is thus a religion with a single belief–there is no god. It is a proposition not subject to testing and therefore, again ipso facto, unscientific.”

    I’ll shut this 9 inch thick steel door in the BELIEF that it will hold against the rampaging rhino outside that wants to maul me to death. Is this belief in the door’s integrity a religious belief? As a (hopefully) sane person, do I worship it if it holds? Should I meet every Thursday in reverence to the great Steel Door (Amen) and sing songs to praise it?

    Whether the literal translation of ‘atheism’ translates to a lack of beliefs in gods or a firm belief of their lack of existence seems to me to be arguing over semantics. Even IF it is the latter definition, does this make atheism a religion? If so, what are the “doctrines” of atheism? What rituals do they perform? Who or what do they worship?

    Nah, the idea that atheism is a religion is plain old ridiculous. At best it may be a philosophical point of view, but nothing more than that. In the end, there’s nothing to stop them from believing in fairies, leprechauns, UFO’s or the Lochness monster. Few people would describe those beliefs as ‘religious’, either, although I think the argument could be made that die hard UFO conspiracy theorists share more in common with creationists than either may like to admit.

    So in response to John Steele Gordon’s first post, I’d like to ask that if there is supposedly no contradiction between the acceptance of evolution and the goals the the Bill (which Jindal is supporting) then why is it that the “academic freedom” BS bill singles out evolution as a particularly controversial science which students should be “free to question” and not any other theory? Especially since evolution is not controversial in the scientific community, and the people who think otherwise have their opinions based in theology? Why is it the bill is based on proposed bills written by the DI, the ID think tank which is mucho funded by radical Christian loony’s like Howie Ahmanson?

    And to top it all off, why the heck was atheism mentioned on a thread about evolution, when evolution as far as scientists and most others who know what they’re talking about are aware, has sweet naff all to do with atheism?

  124. Robbie

    Darth Robo: “I’ll shut this 9 inch thick steel door in the BELIEF that it will hold against the rampaging rhino outside that wants to maul me to death. Is this belief in the door’s integrity a religious belief?”

    That is not comparable.

    Darth Robo: “Whether the literal translation of ‘atheism’ translates to a lack of beliefs in gods or a firm belief of their lack of existence seems to me to be arguing over semantics. Even IF it is the latter definition, does this make atheism a religion? If so, what are the “doctrines” of atheism? What rituals do they perform? Who or what do they worship?”

    It is necessarily both of the things you said in that first sentence. And it is arguing over semantics, but it is also a discussion about logic and science.

    Yes, belief in the nonexistence of God is a religious because that is an article of faith. And John Steele Gordon wrote this above: “Atheism is thus a religion with a single belief–there is no god.”

  125. Darth Robo

    Robbie:

    >>>”That is not comparable.”

    Then explain. The only other option that I can see is that the very notion of either “God” or “No God” mean that everyone on the planet is forced to consider themselves religious, whether they like it or not.

    >>>”It is necessarily both of the things you said in that first sentence.”

    Many atheists would disagree. It depends on how strong their ideas are about the existence of a god or gods. They vary from “weak atheists” who are pretty agnostic about the existence of gods, all the way to “strong atheists” who are quite adamant in their opinion that no god or gods exist. If you want to paint atheism as a “belief”, then going after “strong atheists” would be your best bet. Although by the same logic, NOT believing in the existence of the Invisible Pink Unicorn is also a religious belief. And as many atheists will tell you: “If NOT believing in a god is a religious belief, then NOT collecting stamps is a hobby.”

    You can prove this wrong by telling us what the “doctrines” of atheism are.

    And again, I ask, what does the teaching of evolution have to do with atheism? Other than the fact that those with theological objections to it say so?

  126. Robbie

    Darth Robo: “Although by the same logic, NOT believing in the existence of the Invisible Pink Unicorn is also a religious belief.”

    I can accept that.

  127. Robbie, nice quote mine. You left off the last part of Darth Robo’s quote

    And as many atheists will tell you: “If NOT believing in a god is a religious belief, then NOT collecting stamps is a hobby.”

    What a few of you are doing is semantic nonsense. Using the same “logic” the religious always use. Make an assertion, ie. Atheism is a religion, and then somersault through all sorts of semantic gymnastics to make a definition fit the assertion.

    BTW, punch “define:religion” into Google and see what you get. Here’s the first couple for you:
    # a strong belief in a supernatural power or powers that control human destiny
    # an institution to express belief in a divine power

    Haven’t found a definition that describes a lack of belief as religion yet.

  128. Robbie

    Shane, the difference is that not believing in God requires something, ie – a disbelief in God. Not collecting stamps requires nothing, while collecting them does. Key distinction.

  129. Change collecting to believing and you have “Not believing in stamps requires nothing, while believing in them does.”*

    Now change the stamps to gods and you have “Not believing in gods requires nothing, while believing in them does.”

    Winner. :-)

    You’d have us believe that everything is a religion including, by extension, not collecting stamps. My argument above is a little facetious but it is no sillier than the whole atheism is just another religion argument.

    *Yeah, I know. You can raise a very convincing argument that stamps actually exist. You can’t for gods.

  130. Robbie

    Shane: “*Yeah, I know. You can raise a very convincing argument that stamps actually exist. You can’t for gods.”

    Uh. Yeah. So what’s your point in your post?

  131. The point was in the body of the post before the line you quoted.
    The second point is that I’m not as funny as thought I was when postscript is taken out of context.
    The third point is that you appear to believe atheism is religion and I don’t.

  132. Darth Robo

    Robbie

    >>>”Shane, the difference is that not believing in God requires something, ie – a disbelief in God. Not collecting stamps requires nothing, while collecting them does. Key distinction.”

    So you agree then, that NOT collecting stamps is a hobby?

    You also believe that probably nearly everyone in the world is a part of the religion of NOT believing in the existence of the Invisible Pink Unicorn? Apart from those who believe in her, of course.

    BEHOLD, ladies and gentlemen, Creo-Fundie “LOGIC”.

    Incredible.

  133. Robbie

    Darth Robo, didn’t I disagree that not collecting stamps is a hobby in the very bit you quoted?

    The Invisible Pink Unicorn and its existence lies outside the realm of science. To believe or disbelieve in it would require religious faith then.

    And I have no clue what a Creo-Fundie is.

  134. Irishman

    I think the real disagreement is over what it means to believe if something exists, how many positions are available.

    1. Some people see it as yes/no. Either I believe it exists, or I do not.

    2. Some people see it as yes/undecided/no. Undecided is a neutral state between believing yes and believing no. If I don’t know one way or the other, then the neutral undecided is different than the faith position of believing yes without evidence or believing no without evidence.

    I think that Robbie and John Steele Gordon hold the second position. I think that most of us others hold the first position.

    I can either believe in something or not believe in it. The undecided position is part of the don’t believe in it. It might be “don’t believe in it yet“, it might be “can’t call it impossible”, but it is still not “I believe in it”. Ergo, it is disbelief.

    I also think there’s another element to Robbie’s thinking inherent to that position. I think you are equating belief with faith.

    I don’t accept that equality. Believe is the word for “think to be true”. The basis for that belief is not specified. It can be evidence, or it can be faith. Many people use the word belief as synonymous for faith and then use know for evidence-based conclusions, but that distinction is fairly recent and arose specifically to avoid the semantic confusion we are discussing. To summarize, a belief can either be evidence-based or faith-based.

    In position 2, a decided position is a faith statement because it cannot be with evidence, since the evidence cannot be conclusive either way. (Important point is that is cannot, as in beyond human capability, as opposed to merely is not, as in the evidence we have collected so far is incomplete and inconclusive.) For me to state I do not believe God exists, that is equivalent to saying I believe God does not exist, and since that is a positive statement, a conclusion, it must be by faith. But by position 1, the faith position is to believe in existence. Not believing is simply an empty state. It is the state opposite of believing true.

    The real problem is that I don’t know of a way to get agreement on which position is “true”.

  135. Robbie

    Very good. I enjoyed reading that.

    Irishman: “But by position 1, the faith position is to believe in existence. Not believing is simply an empty state. It is the state opposite of believing true.”

    My answer to this problem is a question, which is just great. If there cannot be evidence why have an opinion at all?

    This is just dealing with the matter of a God not a specific religion. Maybe that’s where people get confused.

    This may confuse the matter, but if you were to ask an agnostic if he believed in God he would probably say “I don’t know if there’s a God or not.” That doesn’t specifically answer the question as I see it though. The answer to the question is no. If you then ask the counter question, “Do you disbelieve in God?” his answer would have to be no as well.

  136. Darth Robo

    Robbie

    >>>”Darth Robo, didn’t I disagree that not collecting stamps is a hobby in the very bit you quoted?

    The Invisible Pink Unicorn and its existence lies outside the realm of science. To believe or disbelieve in it would require religious faith then.”

    So NOT collecting stamps is NOT a hobby, but NOT believing in the Invisible Pink Unicorn IS a religous belief. But not only that, by the same standards you hold to atheism, it is a religion itself.

    Got it.

  137. Robbie

    No you don’t.

  138. Irishman

    Robbie said:
    > Irishman: “But by position 1, the faith position is to believe in existence. Not believing is simply an empty state. It is the state opposite of believing true.”

    > My answer to this problem is a question, which is just great. If there cannot be evidence why have an opinion at all?

    >This may confuse the matter, but if you were to ask an agnostic if he believed in God he would probably say “I don’t know if there’s a God or not.” That doesn’t specifically answer the question as I see it though. The answer to the question is no. If you then ask the counter question, “Do you disbelieve in God?” his answer would have to be no as well.

    Again, it is the fundamental understanding. To believe in the existence of something is an active step. You have to do something to believe. To not believe is passive, the default state. If you don’t believe it exists, then you believe it does not exist. There is no middle position. The switch is either on or off. The bit is either a 1 or a 0. The coin cannot land on it’s edge. You call it having an opinion, I call it not believing. The opposite, the only other position, from believing is not believing.

  139. Robbie

    No disagreement with what you just said at all. As I said, the agnostic does not believe, but he will not say “There is no God.” as an atheist would. And that is the problem I’ve had with what some people said in this thread.

    I think we’re just agreeing with each other now though it might not appear that way. And Darth Robo doesn’t get it. :P

  140. Darth Robo

    Uh, I’m agnostic. I’m also a member of the religion of the Disbelief of the Invisible Pink Unicorn. Apparently. Along with many others, I’m sure. Even if they belong to another religion. Amen. Should I say Amen? Can religious people belong to two religions at once? I suppose, if they kinda make up their own faith. We also disagree over whether atheism is a religion or not. I think no. You think yes. Am I wrong?

    >>>”And Darth Robo doesn’t get it.”

    Feel free to explain.

  141. Robbie

    I’ve been trying to explain it the whole thread!

  142. Darth Robo, I think Robbies argument is similar to the christian argument that the bible is true because it says so in the bible. The argument is circular and without logic. A baseless assertion. No amount of argument based on evidence, definitions or logic will get through but hopefully someone else reading this might see the inherent dumbness in believing that atheism is a religion.

    Personally I think I will call myself an A-unicornist now. Oh, and icanhascheezburger rocks.
    :-)

  143. Robbie

    Shane, you are way off, and your statement is based on no facts or opinions as they have been presented by either side so far. Yours and Darth Robo’s opinions are further discredited by actually thinking “lolcats” are funny. You probably say “teh suck” on the Internet.

  144. LOLcats not funny? Now I know you’re deluded. :-)
    Haven’t had cause to say “teh suck” yet. Oh well.
    I have used smilies on the internet and once I called it the intertoobs. Does that count? :-)

  145. Darth Robo

    Don’t worry. Robbie probably doesn’t like Monty Python either.

    I guess he’s more of a Chick Tract fan. Yick!
    :(

  146. Irishman

    shane said:
    > Darth Robo, I think Robbies argument is similar to the christian argument that the bible is true because it says so in the bible. The argument is circular and without logic.

    No. I think I understand Robbie’s position, and will attempt to explain.

    It goes back to what I said about the foundational position. To Robbie, there is a three state position – disbelief, unknowable, belief. The fundamental position is that any knowledge about God’s existence is unprovable – logically, perceivably, inherently unprovable. It is not just that the evidence is incomplete, it is that we can never collect evidence to answer the question.

    Given that state, to make any statement as to a conclusion (yes or no) cannot be based upon evidence. And what do we call answers not based upon evidence? Faith. Ergo, what Robbie is saying is that to call yourself an Atheist is to state that God does not exist (or to state you don’t believe God does exist, which is logically equivalent). But that answer cannot be based upon evidence, so it is faith-based every bit as much as the faith-based answer that God does exist.

    Ergo, it is a religious position – a position taken from faith rather than from evidence.

    Does that make it a religion? Depends on how you define the word. If you take the word to mean any faith-based belief about the nature of the afterlife, deities, etc, then yes, by definition, atheism is a religion. Of course, that abuses the word “religion” and is contingent upon the assertion that to not believe in something is fundamentally different that to remain undecided to believe in something.

    If it makes it any easier to grasp, Robbie, don’t call it a religion, call it a “faith-based opinion”. It more accurately represents what you’re trying to say.

  147. Irishman

    I was going to say this earlier but apparently didn’t.

    I think here is the distinction. To many self-professed atheists there is no distinction between being a weak/negative atheist and being an agnostic. Both positions state that there is not enough evidence to conclude that God exists, ergo there is no justification for positive belief. They see the scale as the 2 position scale – belief, or not belief.

    Most self-professed agnostics see the scale as 3 position – belief, unknowable, disbelief. That unknowable is inherent to the nature of God’s existence, not just a matter of digging deeper or taking more time or evolving mental abilities or whatever. As I said, they think any conclusion is not evidence-based, so it is faith-based. Thus, they don’t like the term “atheist” because they focus on “cannot know” rather than “do not believe”.

  148. Darth Robo

    Yeah, I’ve heard the same rhetoric from many creationists a million times. Creationists have often used this idea to argue against ‘secular’ scientific teaching, in the vain hope that showing science without God in there somewhere is somehow promoting a religious belief, and as we all know, it’s against the rules to promote one religion over another. This of course, is a ludicrous idea, and I’m pretty sure it’s been used in creationist court cases of years past, which is why they tried a much different approach at Dover.

    Although I do understand the point Robbie’s trying to make, that a firm belief that there’s no God is (arguably) a faith-based opinion. Which is why I mentioned that to him before, that going after “strong” atheists would be his best bet. He’s already shown by his logic that if atheism=religion then disbelieving the Invisible Pink Unicorn is a religion, and he said he was happy with that. Now I don’t really believe* he thinks that the latter is true, but you never know. Poe’s law and all that.
    :)

    *Have I just invented a new religion?

  149. fireweasel

    Regarding the suggestion that we take our tourist dollars elsewhere: in my field, a major national scientific conference is held in New Orleans at least once every four or five years.

    Perhaps all national scientific and medical societies should consider omitting Louisiana from the round of conference locations? And informing the government why, of course.

  150. Ken

    BA, everybody:

    We’re not talking Intelligent Design here.

    We’re talking “Intelligent Design (nudge nudge wink wink know what I mean know what I mean)”.

    I understand the basic idea of Intelligent Design. It’s an updating of an old Christian philosophical tradition: “Natural Theology” — the idea that God was orderly and Lawful and uncovering the laws behind Nature would be “thinking God’s thoughts after Him”. Learn about the creation, learn about its Creator. Not so much science as a philosophical foundation for science which was prominent from the 17th through 19th Centuries.

    But when Young Earth Creationists (under the name “Creation Scientists”) were defeated in the courts, they re-attacked under the banner of Intelligent Design (nudge nudge wink wink know what I mean know what I mean).

    And so an old and respectable theological/philosophical tradition became nothing more than a fresh coat of camouflage paint for Young Earth Creationism.

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