Palintology

By Phil Plait | September 30, 2008 2:17 pm

Sarah Palin, who is John McCain’s Vice president pick, is an interesting case. To say the least.

I need not go into details since there is a torrent of them on the web. My concern here is with her knowledge of science… or lack thereof.

She has stated on record that she is for teaching "both sides" of the evolution "controversy". Some people think this is only fair, but that’s baloney. First of all, for the hundredth time, there is no controversy, and there aren’t two sides. Unless you count one side as being right — science — and the other side being wrong — creationism. Also, the "both sides" nonsense has long been used as creationist code for getting it taught in school. Teaching religion in a science classroom is not only unconstitutional, it’s ridiculous. Which creation myth do you teach, and where do you stop? Odin, the Enuma Elish, Marvel Comics? There are thousands. But when she says "Teach both", she means teach evolution, and teach fundamentalist Christian creationism.

So have no doubt at all: she wants creationism taught in school. It’s really just that simple.

And then we have this very disturbing story from the L.A. Times. Philip Munger, a music teacher in Palin’s home town of Wasilla, asked her about her beliefs. Her response is frightening:

Palin told him that “dinosaurs and humans walked the Earth at the same time,” Munger said. When he asked her about prehistoric fossils and tracks dating back millions of years, Palin said “she had seen pictures of human footprints inside the tracks,” recalled Munger.

I don’t think she means Komodo Dragons and birds. No, she’s talking about the Paluxy Tracks, a well-known and long, long debunked piece of "evidence" creationists still use sometimes, despite being utterly wrong. Of course, if creationists stuck with actual facts, they’d have very little to talk about.

Now, to be fair, this is a single source claim, and Munger runs an anti-Palin blog in Alaska. However, we know Palin is a creationist, so this story comes as no surprise, and is not needed to confirm her stance. What’s frightening to me is that we have someone who, if her team is elected, has a pretty decent chance of being President of the United States of America.

People have joked that her foreign policy experience is being able to see Russia from her house, but it seems her science experience comes from thinking humans and dinosaurs happily walked mud flats together. Maybe Alan Grant will be her science advisor.

Comments (214)

  1. Dr Buttocks

    I realise this is unrelated, but I found this at work and can’t email (don’t ask, let’s just say it’s a retarded system). I thought you’d be interested to know that Australia has just named a new chief scientist, and she’s an astronomer.
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/video/2008/09/30/2378442.htm

  2. mk

    I’ll bet she thinks the Moon-Mars idea is pretty swift, though! ;^}

  3. The Stupid, it BURNSSSSSS!!!!!!!!

  4. Pulse

    Hey Phil, long time reader, big fan of the blog.
    Recently I’ve noticed a zeal in your talk about science and creationism and what not. It’s almost like the zealous Christians, except saying religion is wrong and science is write. It’s a tad off putting to say the least. I’ll explain.

    I’m a science person myself, but I’ve got ideas about religion. Whether it be a human creation, a half true fable stretched by imagination, or entirely false, I don’t know. Point is we can allow people to make their own judgment. I’m all about peoples freedom to choose. want to kill yourself, go ahead. want to believe in god, that’s fine. drugs, sure take as many as you want. As long as these people don’t interfere with others, it shouldn’t really matter. If they do affect people then they get reprimanded. If someone wants to kill himself in his own house, he should be allowed to. as long as he doesn’t plan to harm others in the process… same for religion. If someone wants to waste their time with praying and worship and all that, as long as they don’t force me to do it, i don’t care.

    Schools could probably just solve this whole nonsense by offering a religion class.
    Science needs to be taught regardless because it’s full of useful knowledge about everything we do. Religion doesn’t need to be forced on anyone so it could be a voluntary class when you get to high school. wouldn’t that make sense. let them pick whether to take and whether ot believe the class if they do take it.

    Some people just NEED religion to be able to function, far be it for us to tell them what to do.
    Keep up the great blog Phil!

  5. Regardless of ideology, this woman is a very dangerous addition to our political structure. She should be enough to completely tank the McCain campaign, but scarily enough she seems to be enhancing it. I talk to far too many women who are happen to vote for her solely because she has a vagina, but the fact of the matter is her stance on science isn’t as scary as her hatred of women. We are doomed that she’s even a choice, let alone if she gets into office.

  6. Calli Arcale

    Unless you count one side as being right — science — and the other side being wrong — creationism.

    I don’t think this is a good way for us to explain the problem to folks like Palin. For one thing, telling people bluntly that they are wrong just makes them defensive. It’s better to show them. For another thing, they *believe* they are right because of their faith, and you really can’t argue faith away. Not easily. Traditionally, arguing faith away has involved sharp implements. It’s ugly business.

    But most importantly, it perpetuates the false dichotomy promoted by the Discovery Institute. It is not that we are right and they are wrong. It’s that we are teaching science, and they are teaching religion. Apples and oranges.

    We cannot prove them wrong; religion isn’t based on science, it’s based on scripture, and the scripture is pretty unequivocal (if one is a literalist, that is). Argued within a fundamentalist religious framework, it comes down to a controversy between Young Earth Creationists and Intelligent Design proponents. Argued within a scientific framework, there’s not really much controversy at all — just between some of the specific niggly details of evolution and taxonomy and so forth.

    We need to emphasize NOT that the Creationists are wrong (even though from a scientific standpoint they are) but rather we need to emphasize that what they are teaching is religion, and what we are teaching is science. They are not incompatible, any more than teaching American Literature is with either of those subjects. It is not about who is right and who is wrong. It’s about teaching science in science class, and letting religion take care of itself.

  7. serenity

    “People have joked that her foreign policy experience is being able to see Russia from her house …”
    People have joked because not only has SHE said it, the McCain campaign have as well!

  8. Calli, while that is a wonderful sentiment, and would work if these people are reasonable, you are putting attributes on them that that would imply they are rational, sane, and thoughtful. Sadly, none of those adjectives apply to them. They are overzealous crusaders intent on forcing their views as the One True view, and damn the contradicting evidence.

  9. Rob Zuber

    IMHO, if we do not destroy the conservative movement, teaching religion in science classes will become “normal”. It’s what they want. Hordes of “moderate” Republican voters have shown time and again that they don’t care about this stuff and will gladly keep voting for that party, no matter how insane they become.

    The conservative movement itself is a danger to science.

  10. Bryan

    Teaching religion in a science classroom is not only unconstitutional, it’s ridiculous.

    Unconstitutional? Which article or amendment might you be referring to? Note, “separation of church and state” is *not* a phrase from the constitution, but “In God We Trust” on our money and the Pledge of Allegiance have been around for a long time.

    Nobody’s going to prove creationism or evolution as being the ultimate truth any time soon (unless you know a lot more than you let on), so why not explain both belief systems and where they came from? Part of education is understanding what others think, e.g. where Islam came from and how it affects the mindset of the middle-eastern cultures. We don’t have to teach Islam (or Christianity or Buddhism) as being *the* truth in our schools, but pretending they don’t exist seems equally “ridiculous”.

    Also note that the position of believing that God doesn’t exist merely because the universe appears to be billions of years old is downright foolish. Steady-state systems can be created in steady-state, not too hard for such a being, if he does exist. I’m not saying you have to believe that he does, only that your ongoing arguments against his existence are shamelessly spurious.

  11. BILL7718

    All I want is a fiscal conservative for smaller government that isn’t a religious zealot or a crackpot. Is that too much to ask?

  12. Nathan

    While she did make the comment to “teach both sides”, in an interview following those comments, she was asked to clarify what she meant. Her response was to say that she didn’t think it needed to be in the curriculum, just that teachers should be allowed to have the discussion in class of both sides.

    I’m not very happy about some of her views, but this one doesn’t bother me. In fact, if all biology teachers were allowed to have the discussion, they could bring up all the problems with the creationist argument, specifically that it is not science in any way, and that is why it is not taught.

  13. Well said Calli Arcale.

    Rob, while some conservatives and some members of the Republican party may be a danger to science, I’m not aware of any of the conservatives I know being out to destroy science. Haven’t even heard any of them talk about teaching religion in science class. But I’m sure if there’s some secret plan they wouldn’t tell me anyway.

    Sometimes there’s way too much generalization on this blog.

  14. mk

    Calli,

    I believe Dover did just that. The judge saw this was simply a way of sneaking religion into science class and he said no. More directly, the Constitution said no.

    Larian may be right about trying to teach people like Sarah Palin the difference–though I don’t think that is utterly hopeless–but more importantly it’s the courts that matter. At the moment, Democrats are more scientifically inclined, especially when it comes to policy, sooo… vote!

  15. Pulse

    Calli made the same point i wanted to make, just more relevant and understandable. Good comment Calli!

    I have to strongly agree with the part about disproving religion. Being based on “non sense” makes it impossible for us to disprove. People believe it and thats not gonna change any time soon. Despite any evidence we give them to the contrary. Some of my friends are Christians and no matter what argument you give them, as long as they can base their defense in fantasy, they’ll continue to believe.

  16. Bryan,

    At least do a little research. 1864 is the origin of the phrase on our money. As for the pledge, that didn’t appear until 1952. Given the treaty of Tripoli, 1798, article 11; Thomas Jefferson’s words; the words of Article 1; it is quite evident that teaching of religion (exclusive of other religions) is unconstitutional. As Dr Plait said, it would bog down the entire system if we needed to teach everything from Pastafarianism, Hinduism, and the other thousands of religions as “another view”. Those subjects belong in an entirely different class.

    As for explaining both belief systems (or should it be ALL?), there is a basic flaw in that one is a belief, while another is supported by scientific fact. Don’t think that theory means a “guess” or some other uneducated stance. http://wilstar.com/theories.htm That just makes it all the harder to separate the rhetoric from fact.

    As for Dr Plait being a skeptic, I don’t recall any blog of his saying god(s) don’t exist. People may infer that he holds that position, but I don’t think it has been outright stated. And creating a steady state system? Huh? All observations point to nothing of the sort. What criteria are you using and what evidence do you cite for it? Did you mean to create this dynamically changing universe?

    My PERSONAL view on this: Nothing in this universe indicates a god, except those anthropomorphic characteristics we give it. The argument for a god goes something like this:

    – We are here

    – Wow, this universe is quite suited to us

    – Therefore it was made for us

    – something made it, let’s call it god.

    It’s as if a puddle formed in a hole in the ground and was caught off guard that the puddle conformed exactly to the shape of the water. Basically, the entire idea of a god is totally backwards reasoning. ;) Just my 2 cents.

  17. Nick

    It does seem a lot of the readers of this blog have some fear of opposing opinions. If you feel your position is based on solid ground what is wrong with opposing views being voiced, or even taught. I’m not religious in the least and don’t believe in a god, but being raised catholic, being sent to catholic school, and having to go to church every Sunday is what made me realize that it wasn’t for me.

    I am amazed at how often something that doesn’t fall into someone’s definition of scientific is so loudly shouted down here. It’s almost like you’re afraid if someone looks too closely they might find some small fractures forming in your arguments. I’m no fan of Sarah Palin, not by a long shot, but this is a non-issue in the big picture of things and shouldn’t be of any concern unless you’re just looking for something to gripe about.

  18. Santoki

    Oh let’s be fair, Palin wouldn’t be the first creationist in the white house.

    In fact, haven’t we had one for the last eight years?

    Last, Phil, you can’t prove that there weren’t dinosaurs around 4,000 years ago. They’re probably all hiding in Iraq, holed up in a cave with all those WMD’s we couldn’t find.

  19. Drew

    Just a thought about diction…I think that the anti-evolution movement would suffer more if we change language like this:

    Unless you count one side as being right — science — and the other side being wrong — creationism.

    With something like this:
    Unless you count one side as supported by- evidence- and the other side supported by myth and desire- creationism.

    There are alot of people out there who simply do not know much about either science OR creationism/ID. Theses are the swing voters, and we need to be a little more rational with out sentiments than the slobbering elitist fanatics we are made out to be.

    Yes, people like PZ Myers are fun, and even needed, but by and large the majority of voices need to be a little more mature and rational, even friendly. I think Phil in this arena that can be your voice, and I think you better serve the rationalist movement that way…

  20. mk

    Nick…

    This is not meant to be snarky, I swear. But do you know anything about Creationism? Intelligent Design?

    There really is no science there. None. Just like there is no science in astrology. Would you want your science teachers having to teach that “controversy”?

  21. Ken

    IRRELEVANT. That’s what this blather about Creationist views with a politician is. Totally irrelevant.

    The Vice President sits in the Senate, and IF necessary, breaks ties with their vote. The President signs or vetos laws, bill, funding, etc. forwarded by Congress. Neither initiates much of anything that affect the issues discussed in this blog.

    They may use thier influence to persuade, but when it comes to routine matters they vote or sign the final law into being.

    Of course, that’s a bit of an oversimplification…but not much. And its far more accurate than that fervor associated with rejecting Palin due to her Creationist viewpoint — which convey a value & perception that clearly presumes that the President & Vice President have the authority & capability to change matters in goverment to a degree associated with Royalty (or one’s daddy & mommy — which seems to be the Democratic blogger’s primary underlying perception). The offices of the President & Vice President don’t have anything close to that kind of power & authority.

    Which highlights just how ignorant the average citizen is when it comes to even a rudimentary understanding of how the USA’s Executive & Legislative branches of government really work.

    One can find good reasons to reject Palin…but her Creationist viewpoints are totally, completely, utterly irrelevant to the job she’d do if elected.

  22. Molly

    @BILL

    Yes, yes it is.

  23. Molly

    @ Ken

    I agree with you. I am far more concerned that she apparently cannot name one Supreme Court case beyond Roe v. Wade.

    The creationist thing for me just adds another tiny facet to the question of why they ever chose her in the first place.

  24. PP

    Well said Phil.

    Creationism is a nice fairy tale but is nonsense as a theory (whether scientific or not) – there’s no nice way of ‘showing’ that to people who still believe in it 149 years after the publication of “On the Origin of Species”.

  25. Drew

    Bryan, please. What is printed on our currency and a pledge written after the Civil War is hardly relevant to what is taught in schools funded primarily by tax dollars.

    And what the First Ammendment says:

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

    Seems pretty clear. Not only can the government interfere with a law abiding religious practice(or perhaps you would argue the Constitution protects the rights of Mayan High Priests to sacrifice virgins?)But it also protects from establishing a State sponsered religion.

    So yes, teaching a myth as if it is as well supported by evidence as the theory of evolution is, would be in fact promoting a specific religious belief in a public school.

    Of course I am sure you already knew that, right?

  26. Also, if anyone was wondering how ludicrous the “see Alaska from my house” SNL joke was that is getting repeated by the media over and over again. Here’s a very Plait-like explanation: Can Sarah Palin really see Alaska from her house?

  27. I know, a copy paste job, but actually a good read. Highlights what makes people in the US (a minority, but people none the less). It’s just an accepted form of discrimination due to the large number of people who happen to agree with a particular view:

    Myth:
    You have freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.

    Response:
    This claim is common, but it rests on a misunderstanding of what real freedom of religion entails. The most important thing to remember is that freedom of religion, if it is going to apply to everyone, also requires freedom from religion. Why is that? You do not truly have the freedom to practice your religious beliefs if you are also required to adhere to any of the religious beliefs or rules of other religions.

    As an obvious example, could we really say that Jews and Muslims would have freedom of religion if they were required to show same respect to images of Jesus that Christians have? Would Christians and Muslims really have freedom of their religion if they were required to wear yarmulkes? Would Christians and Jews have freedom of religion if they were required to adhere to Muslim dietary restrictions?

    Simply pointing out that people have the freedom to pray however they wish is not enough. Forcing people to accept some particular idea or adhere to behavioral standards from someone else’s religion means that their religious freedom is being infringed upon.

    Freedom from religion does not mean, as some mistakenly seem to claim, being free from seeing religion in society. No one has the right not to see churches, religious expression, and other examples of religious belief in our nation — and those who advocate freedom of religion do not claim otherwise.

    What freedom from religion does mean, however, is the freedom from the rules and dogmas of other people’s religious beliefs so that we can be free to follow the demands of our own conscience, whether they take a religious form or not. Thus, we have both freedom of religion and freedom from religion because they are two sides of the same coin.

    Interestingly, the misunderstandings here can be found in many other myths, misconceptions and misunderstandings as well. Many people don’t realize — or don’t care — that real religious liberty must exist for everyone, not just for themselves. It’s no coincidence that people who object to the principle of “freedom from religion” are adherents of religious groups whose doctrines or standards would be the ones enforced by the state.

    Since they already voluntarily accept these doctrines or standards, they don’t expect to experience any conflicts with state enforcement or endorsement. What we have, then, is a failure of moral imagination: these people are unable to really imagine themselves in the shoes of religious minorities who don’t voluntarily accept these doctrines or standards and, hence, experience an infringement on their religious liberties through state enforcement or endorsement.

    That, or they simply don’t care what religious minorities experience because they think they have the One True Religion.

  28. Drew

    Actually Ken, it is relevant. In this day and age someone whose beliefs are as antiquated and rediculous as Palin’s should be kept far away from any important roles in governement.

    The President and VP are far more influential and powerful than you let on in your post. For one thing, the President nominates or appoints people into very impactful positions. I am sure you know this. I am sure you also know that we the People need to factor in the “backup”, or Side B if you will, should the President somehow become unfit.

    I don’t want anyone who thinks the relationship between Fred and Dino is realistic anywhere near those offices…

  29. mk

    Bryan…

    The words “Fair Trial” do not appear in the constitution either. What should we make of that?

  30. Bryan

    @Drew

    I think we both would agree that you can’t teach religion as if it were supported by empirical evidence. But we *should* explain what other people believe as background for why people do what they do (but not in science class).

    I will emphasize, evolution is a theory, and a very weak one at that, and should not be taught as absolute truth. We should teach our kids what we’ve observed. Biasing their views toward weak theories like this one will prevent them from seeking out new truths that you and I can’t even imagine.

    Our country was founded on religious principles, mostly by folks who wanted to worship as they pleased and not as dictated by their governments. It does *not* say that the government cannot sponsor religious activities, though we both agree it’s not a good idea. Too many (including you) are extrapolating on what’s written.

  31. Grrrr, I have a reply to Bryan about the word theory, but it’s awaiting moderation. Not sure why…

    Anyway, I’d like to hear the convincing argument as to why you cite evolutionary theory as a weak theory? 150+ years of observation and experimentation has vindicated this theory. I guess you mean it’s a weak theory in the same way that gravity is a weak theory? We know, see and predict the effects, but there are small details we don’t have a total understanding of yet?

  32. Ken

    RE Palin, Creationist views, and their irrelevancy:

    What matters relative to any politician is what they do. The courts in many states, when forced to address the issue, have ruled that Creationism/Intel.Design is religion in camoflauge. So far, none of those rulings have come close to the US Supreme Court (& the Judicial Branch is the third part of government that is independent from the other two). The constitution mandates the separation of church & state & the Courts rule on precedent & constitional foundations. The precedents are very clear on this.

    Items like, “in God we trust” on coins/currency, do not advocate any particular body of faith…and one can interpret “god” to be “science” (some evangelicals argue this exactly, for example), but that’s a bit of a digression. Many Christian groups (and probably others) endorse creationism in a variety of conflicting forms, or even outright reject creationism/young-Earth theology-as-fact.

    So, for “Creationism” to become a fixture of some government-endorsed policy position such an act could not occur without violating some other religious belief system & religion — and would immediately cause a lot of strife, etc. of the sort the Constitional prohibition was consciously designed to pre-empt (with the experience of the Puritans & the Catholic/Protestant conflicts in England being among the examples cited as issues to be constitutionally pre-empted).

    A politician’s views on this topic just do not matter.

    And sure, they can make a lot of appointments, some important — but all those are subject to ratification by Congress. That’s a lot of obstacles to overcome & the idea that a politician’s (including the appointees) religious views could be so inconsistent with the public’s AND still get thru the vetting process is remote. If it occurs, the elected representatives are representing the majority, which is what our form of government is supposed to be about.

  33. Hoonser

    You know the ol’ saying. Nobody ever lost an election by underestimating the intelligence of the American people.

  34. TMB

    Phil, how long have you had that headline in waiting? :-)=

  35. becky'sthoughts

    I’m pretty religious, and easygoing, but to teach creationism in a science class makes me crazy. I don’t foist my beliefs on anyone. Teach all the creationism and religion you want just keep it in a philosophy or humanities class. This is one of the stupidest arguments I’ve seen. This is me screaming at the computer screen.

  36. Ty

    “I will emphasize, evolution is a theory, and a very weak one at that, and should not be taught as absolute truth.”

    First, no scientist ever claims to have ‘absolute truth’ about anything. Ever.

    Second, do you know what the word theory means in a science?

    Third, can you please enlighten us on the many weaknesses of evolution as a scientific theory? I’m sure the many biologists who read this blog would love to know.

    Or are you just another person playing the ‘reasonable moderate’ without having a single clue what you’re actually talking about?

  37. Daniel

    what is wrong with the possibility that a God (no, not little green men…a Divinity) used evolution and science to get humans to where we are? the truth might lie in the middle.

  38. PP

    Daniel said: “what is wrong with the possibility that a God (no, not little green men…a Divinity) used evolution and science to get humans to where we are? the truth might lie in the middle.”

    There’s not wrong with it per se, but it is not testable and not scientific – such an idea would not belong in a science class but in a church (or religious education).

  39. Justin Olson

    @Bryan:

    Teaching religion in a science classroom violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. See Tammy Kitzmiller, et al. v. Dover Area School District, et al., Case No. 04cv2688.

    Also, the goal of science is not “ultimate truth.” Evolution is NOT a belief system or a “very weak theory” and is not taught as “absolute truth.” Absolute truth is the claim of dogmas. Scientific theories are not dogmatic… they change based on the available evidence.

    Evolution has been overwhelmingly validated by 150 years of accumulated evidence (the fossil record, comparative morphology, molecular biology, etc.). To believe otherwise is simply ignorant. If evolution is just a “very weak theory” then why do you have endogenous retro-viral insertions at the same exact place in your DNA as a chimpanzee? Why does your human chromosome 2 contain the fused genetic sequences of primate chromosomes 12 and 13?

    The answer is heredity. You have these because your mom and dad had them… and their parents before them… and on and on for thousands of millennia… all the way back to when that primate ancestor was infected by the virus or when those two primate chromosomes fused into one.

    @Daniel:

    There’s nothing wrong with it… except that it is scientifically unverifiable and an unneeded (from the point of view of science) and unnecessary complication. Science can explain how we got to where we are without a Divine interloper.

  40. justcorbly

    Calli:

    I agree that it is better to “show” people. but you are still showing them that they are wrong.

    In any case, people like Palin, just like the anti-vaccine crowd, are simply going to ignore or deny any evidence that runs counter to their beliefs. Few of them have a background that might give them an appreciation of how science works, so they think scientists are messing around in labs making things up. E.g., try to explain what a theory really is.

    Creationists are wrong from every point of view, not just a scientific point of view. We should not coddle them. If their faith cannot hold up against reality, that’s their problem.

    Finally, creationists and Christianists do not want “religion” taught in the public schools. That might mean their kids might Hinduism or Islam or Shintoism or something else they consider satanic. The religion they want in the schools is fundamentalist Christianity.

  41. Daniel

    @Justin & PP
    I now see the error in that thinking…thank you :)

  42. Adrian Lopez

    Palin’s views are far from irrelevant. If she were to replace McCain as president she would have the power to appoint justices to the Supreme Court should, which is a rather frightening possibility should any of the current justices retire during her term(s) in office. That congress must first approve the president’s pick doesn’t change the fact that she’d have the power to significantly shape the long-term future of the Supreme Court. That she believes in creationism and is generally opposed to abortion makes her a dangerous choice for VP in light of her power to appoint future members of the Supreme Court.

    By the way… the notion that “elected representatives are representing the majority” does nothing to ensure that the choices they make on the people’s behalf are any good, and the idea that this “is what our form of government is supposed to be about” does not jive with the fact that sometimes the majority’s wishes are harmful to society (that’s why we have the Bill of Rights to protect us all against our democratic government).

  43. Ken:

    I’d have agreed with you if it weren’t for the drastic changes that the current administration’s world-view has inflicted on a wide range of policies. maybe in theory the president and VP aren’t supposed to have that much power, but somehow they do, and somehow their worldview has now become “the official U.S. worldview”. that’s a bit of hyperbole maybe, but look at the gag-orders to NASA and NOAA, the “exporting” of American democracy at gunpoint, etc.
    I’d rather have a VP with a reality-based worldview than a apocalypse-soon, creationist one. especially with a president as likely to croak as McCain (and I find McCain scary, too )

    And “In God We Trust” is clearly monotheistic favoritism, at least.

  44. Pulse: when religion encroaches on science, then stands on its throat, I will speak up. AAnd I will continue to do so.

    Calli, the point of this post is not to educate people about science, nor to point out the flaws in creationism. There are legions of sites that do that. I am sending out a rallying cry here. The ammunition can be found elsewhere. :-)

    Also, Calli, you can prove religion wrong, when that religion makes testable claims. Creationism makes a passel of them, and they are almost always wr0ng (and when they are right it doesn’t support creationism over an old Universe). I cannot prove God doesn’t exist, any more than anyone can prove God does exist. But I can sure show you that the Universe is older than 6000 years, by a factor of 2 million.

    Ken, you may have forgotten that the primary reason we have a Vice President is to step up if the President becomes incapacitated. McCain may live for another 20 years, but statistically the odds are very much against it. He’d be the oldest incoming President in history. It’s a stressful job, too, and his medical history is in doubt. If elected, she’d be one 72-year-old heartbeat away from running the country.

    Bryan, your comment has so many flaws it’s hard to know where to begin. Religion in the classroom has a very well-known history. Note that in Dover, the case was ruled against the IDists because it was clearly creationism, which cannot be taught in the classroom.

    I never said God doesn’t exist. That is a strawman argument on your part. What I said is that creationism is wrong. That is a fact. Religious arguments aside, that’s a good enough reason not to teach it in the classroom.

  45. michael

    Bryan says
    “Unconstitutional? Which article or amendment might you be referring to? Note, “separation of church and state” is *not* a phrase from the constitution, but “In God We Trust” on our money and the Pledge of Allegiance have been around for a long time.”

    Both of those references to god where added (to our money and pledge respectively) in the 1950s, so while the pledge has been around for quite some time, over 100 years, it did not originally include any references to a deity–and it was written by a Baptist minister. People used to understand what seperation of church and state meant.

  46. Anonymous Coward

    ROAD TRIP!

    http://www.legorobotcomics.com/?id=78

    Sorry if it offended your sensibilities….

  47. Arthur Maruyama

    Of course the “both sides” argument is (another) one of the false dichotomies that the creationists use to bolster their side. There are many creation stories: why shouldn’t they given equal billing along with the Biblical one?

  48. Palin was interviewed by Katie Couric tonight and was specifically asked about evolution and she sounded like a theistic evolutionist, to be honest.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/09/30/eveningnews/main4490618.shtml

    Palin: Oh, I think it should be taught as an accepted principle. And, as you know, I say that also as the daughter of a school teacher, a science teacher, who has really instilled in me a respect for science. It should be taught in our schools. And I won’t deny that I see the hand of God in this beautiful creation that is Earth. But that is not part of the state policy or a local curriculum in a school district. Science should be taught it science class.

    Or how about this in an interview by Sean Hannity:

    http://sensuouscurmudgeon.wordpress.com/2008/09/18/sean-hannity-interviews-sarah-palin-shes-pro-evolution/

    HANNITY: Did you only want to teach creationism in school and not evolution?

    PALIN: No. In fact, growing up in a school teacher’s house with a science teacher as a dad, you know, I have great respect for science being taught in our science classes and evolution to be taught in our science classes.

    By all means criticise her for other things, but I don’t think you can get away with calling her an outright creationist any more.

  49. Todd W.

    Others have already pointed out the Pres. and VP’s power to appoint justices (and not just Supreme Court justices) as a means of shaping public policy and legal interpretation. (On a side note, currently sitting justices appointed by Republicans rather significantly outnumber those appointed by Democrats.) And, yes, they cannot themselves get laws passed without Congress.

    However, they can appoint people to head up quite a large number of Federal agencies that touch on every aspect of life. These heads can publish regulations that can have a significant impact on the law and the shape and feel of our society, without going through Congress, so long as those regulations don’t go outside the bounds of the administrative powers delegated to the agencies.

    The Pres. and VP also shape public policy through their speeches. Do not underestimate the power of words to alter people’s opinions.

  50. Dave, of course she’s a creationist. That’s clear from the evidence.

    Her saying we should teach evolution in the classroom doesn’t negate that. And as I pointed out, with more than one link to citations, she does want creationism taught in the classroom. I can’t make this any more clear.

  51. Oh come on, she has now said specifically that she wants evolution taught in schools, not creationism.

  52. Davidlpf

    Maybe she is one the dreaded things to a republican “a flip-flopper”.

  53. Drew

    @Ken:

    It isn’t so much for me that she could get her religious views forced into law. But they can, and have in the past, caused politicians or appointed officials to make some really bad decisions. Reagan’s Secretary of Interior was quoted saying:
    ‘We don’t have to protect the environment — the Second Coming is at hand.”
    Kind of scarey what kind of things such people can do with little oversight, at least until it is too late.

    Also, Palin belives Iraq is a mission from God, or some such. She may make Foreign policy decisions not only on her vast binocularian experience, but on what God tells her to do.

    Being a creationist, she certainly has some issues dealing with reality, and all her decisions are suspect on that account. In a position of power, she is dangerous, even if she can’t get her education agenda passed.

    @Dave:

    All creationists want evolution taught, they just want their religion taught right along side of it.

  54. Drew

    That Secretary was James Watt….sorry for excluding..

  55. ibugeye

    AH…atheism. The religion of no religion. Or is it just the religion of no Christianity? It has its own set of dogmas and “Bibles” – I mean handbooks. 600 years ago, people were put to death for teaching science. Go to Afghanistan, Iran, or Saudi Arabia and try to preach the doctrine of evolution and see where it takes you today. I find it funny to see Christian conservatives being described as the Anti-Christs of “Science”! If Palin was a Scientologist, would there be such objectives. I do not BELIEVE in Divine Intervention. I do believe in evolution. My wife is a Christian. How can I deny that to her when it supplies answers that science alone can’t give her. Why ARE we here? Haven’t a lot of really intelligent people over the centuries pondered this question. Philosophy proves that I exist so therefore I am, but I cannot prove that anything else is real (even though I observe it and so many other people tell me too!). Adrian Lopez is worried that Palin may one day be allowed to make a Supreme Court nomination if she had to succeed McCain as President. I am a Democrat that worries that if Obama wins, he could nominate Hillary as a Supreme Court justice.

  56. @ Pulse, 4th poster:

    Do you think it would be “fair” if science classes focused on the “controversy” between NASA and the Flat Earth Society? Would you want your tax dollars being spent teaching your child this stuff? Or would you rather have your child’s high school science class spend time teaching actual science?

    Didn’t think so — science classes are for teaching actual science.

  57. Darth Robo

    Santoki:

    >>>”Oh let’s be fair, Palin wouldn’t be the first creationist in the white house.

    In fact, haven’t we had one for the last eight years?”

    Not quite, I’d say. While an idiotic, the current administration has never let the fundies completely take over. They just use them for their votes. Palin on the other hand seems much more accommodating.

    And Dave, she IS a creationsist. She thinks the Flinstones is a documentary. Here’s another link to her views on creationism:

    http://www.livescience.com/culture/080901-sb-palin-creationist.html

    However, I do think her language (in the election run-up) may well have changed. She doesn’t want to come right out and say “evolution is wrong”, so she’s giving it the political “both sides” approach. Problem is, there AREN’T “two” sides. Creationism has nothing – NOTHING to offer. And even IF she’s advocating creationism for a “classroom discussion” although “it doesn’t have to be part of the curriculum”, it’s STILL counter-productive, still against the Fist Amendment (unless ALL other religions are also discussed), still unscientific, still WRONG. Her political views do seem like the stereo-typical right-wing fundie views, and I find it hard to believe that her religious views won’t affect her policy-making decisions.

    And um, Bryan, please stop talking about evolution. This so called “weak theory” is stronger than the theory of gravity. Or instead of gravity, would you prefer to teach ‘Intelligent Falling’?

  58. Speaking of the “Paluxy man-tracks,” the keynote speaker at the Alaska Governor’s Prayer Breakfast in 2006 was none other than Carl Baugh. Did his whole tapdance routine.

    This was before Sarah Palin was governor, and I don’t recall if she was present for the breakfast. Her predecessor had the good sense to leave the room just as Baugh began speaking — probably the most sensible thing Frank Murkowski ever did as governor.

  59. Bryan

    I do appreciate all the thoughtful responses.

    @Larian — I won’t debate Jefferson’s views on religion, but he was certainly on one end of the spectrum. Note, you didn’t read my post, I didn’t say what you think I did. All said, I was only contending with Phil’s curt reference to the issue’s constitutionality, which in reality is far from settled.

    Those downplaying the role of religion in the lives of the Founding Fathers ought re-read the first and second sentences of the Declaration of Independence.

    @Phil — without belief in an intelligent creation, what does your god do? If your oft-stated stand on creationism does not imply a disbelief in god, you have a very unique belief structure! (You make inflammatory statements all the time, I won’t hesitate to make a few too. =)

    To others: you see “endogenous retro-viral insertions at the same exact place in your DNA as a chimpanzee”, and think “Oh, we must have common ancestors.” Probably because you’ve heard it since you were little kids in school. But I see two very similar physical structures, and it makes sense that the building blocks of life for both should be very similar. We build apartment buildings and houses with wood and drywall and nails, why would a creator use different building blocks for no reason?

    I believe for reasons you won’t believe, I’m okay with that. I love this country because everyone can believe what they like. And as an engineer I honor and respect the understanding that science brings. But I’m not always proud of the conclusions drawn by those who look at the world and universe through a soda-straw.

    So let me end with a simple concession: (1) Phil does not know everything. (2) My God lies beyond Phil’s knowledge, easily created everything Phil (and the rest of us) can or ever will experience, and did it for a very good set of reasons, a select few of which I know — and only for those I am most grateful.

    Warmest regards.

  60. Adrian Lopez

    “AH…atheism. The religion of no religion.”

    Atheism is not religious, nor is it even dogmatic, for it is simply a lack of belief in deities. Not believing in God is no more “religious” than not believing in Santa Claus is religious.

    “How can I deny that to her when it supplies answers that science alone can’t give her.”

    Atheists don’t want to force their lack of belief upon your wife, or anybody else. If your wife finds comfort in the “answers” religion provides, that’s really none of our business. To the degree people wish to teach those “answers” as fact through publicly-funded channels, however, it is essential that those answers be grounded in fact rather than in spirit.

  61. Darbo

    Phil,

    Once again, really, sloppy work. She has said, before and after she was governor, that she didn’t think it belonged in the actual curriculum. You’re just plain wrong. You wonder why you take flack when you get political, it’s because you’re sloppy and just repeat talking points. Why don’t you actually put some effort into your political posts?

  62. Jose

    @Dave
    Oh come on, she has now said specifically that she wants evolution taught in schools, not creationism.

    Not quite. In the first quote, all she says is that evolution is part of the current science curriculum, and that science should be taught in science class. She says nothing about whether or not creationism should be taught as well.

    In the second quote all she says is that creationism isn’t the only thing that should be taught in school.

    To my knowledge, she’s never said that creationism should not be taught in school. And if she does believe this, why won’t she just say it?

  63. Darth Robo

    Bryan:

    >>>”Those downplaying the role of religion in the lives of the Founding Fathers ought re-read the first and second sentences of the Declaration of Independence.”

    Uh, the Declaration Of Independence had little to do with the Founding of the Constitution and everything to do with declaring independence from the British. The role of religion personally for the Founding Fathers not withstanding, it’s pretty clear they wanted to make sure that no one religion held sway over Government than any other.

    >>>”@Phil — without belief in an intelligent creation, what does your god do? If your oft-stated stand on creationism does not imply a disbelief in god, you have a very unique belief structure! (You make inflammatory statements all the time, I won’t hesitate to make a few too.”

    Well, not to speak for Phil, but my guess he’s an atheist (Phil, jump in if I’m out of turn here). I on the other hand consider myself agnostic. I doubt our “belief structures” (or rather philosophical outlooks) are unique. Intelligent Design is not only unscientific, but unnecessary for theology. For those who are religious but who accept science, that’s okay too. Problems only arise when one takes religious scripture too literally (to the point where it conflicts with science).

    >>>”To others: you see “endogenous retro-viral insertions at the same exact place in your DNA as a chimpanzee”, and think “Oh, we must have common ancestors.” Probably because you’ve heard it since you were little kids in school. But I see two very similar physical structures, and it makes sense that the building blocks of life for both should be very similar. We build apartment buildings and houses with wood and drywall and nails, why would a creator use different building blocks for no reason?”

    A “creator” could use different building blocks or the same building blocks (or in fact, anything it likes) for ANY reason it wishes. See the problem? It’s called FALSIFIABILITY. There is NO WAY to falsify a potential “god” or “creator”. What is wrong with believing in a god AND accepting evolution? Nothing (as long as one recognises the limits of supernatural explanations within the scientific realm). Unless one places limits on this “creator”. Which to me seems to be a very stupid thing to do. (shrug)

    >>>”So let me end with a simple concession: (1) Phil does not know everything. (2) My God lies beyond Phil’s knowledge, easily created everything Phil (and the rest of us) can or ever will experience, and did it for a very good set of reasons, a select few of which I know — and only for those I am most grateful.”

    So let me end with a simple concession: (1) Bryan does not know everything about biology. (2) Everyone’s God lies beyond EVERYONE’S knowledge, MAY or MAY NOT have easily created everything Phil, Bryan, Darth Robo (and the rest of us) can or ever will experience, and MAY or MAY NOT have did it for a very good set of reasons, a select few of which Bryan thinks he knows. Because quite simply, an unobservable, undetectable and invisible god that no-one has ever seen cannot have a single shred of information assertained about it in any way whatsoever. By ANYONE. That’s a fairly simple concept to grasp. Unless one happens to be a creationist.

    We exist, whether by “creator” or not, I am most grateful.

    Thanks mom and dad.

    :)

  64. I prefer Douglas Adams view of the creation of the universe:

    In the beginning the universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.

    There is a theory which states that if anybody ever discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened.

  65. RL

    @ Dave,

    You’re wasting your time. Phil’s bias is clearly carved in stone. I can’t imagine him accepting such “facts” regarding Obama. Accepting dubious links, sole-sourced biased reports and then ignoring further evidence and statements are not what I would have expected but are clearly the norm on this site now.

  66. Jose

    @ibugeye
    If Palin was a Scientologist, would there be such objectives.

    Yes. In fact the objections would probably be greater.

    My wife is a Christian. How can I deny that to her when it supplies answers that science alone can’t give her. Why ARE we here?

    You don’t have to deny her that. But we’re talking about something science defiantly can answer. We’re not talking about why we are here.

  67. Drew

    @Bryan
    So let me end with a simple concession: (1) Phil does not know everything. (2) My God lies beyond Phil’s knowledge, easily created everything Phil (and the rest of us) can or ever will experience, and did it for a very good set of reasons, a select few of which I know — and only for those I am most grateful.

    That is perfectly fine, and you are well within your rights to believe as you wish. We obviously choose to not believe that, and the specific religious laws you choose to live by should not be forced on others.

    These discussions are here for us to identify politicians who may well be the type to force their beliefs on others. Many religious people would like nothing more than to bring civilization back to the Dark Ages.

    And please bear in mind that your views on evolution are not supported by evidence, but those of the theory you disagree with are. I think most reasonable people would agree, we need to live our lives in the real world. Praying does not cause cancer to go into remission, but chemotherapy can.
    We need to focus on what matters here, since that is where we live, and the only dimensions we can prove.

    Any other beliefs are personal and should remain as such.

    I think I can speak for all of the science leaning people in the world who are fighting religion when I say that we would ALL rather focus on teh natural world as it is, and leave religion to those who are interested.

    We rise up only in the face of evangalism. And it sucks. I wish they would all just shut up and then we could all get along just fine.

  68. SLC

    There seems to be substantial confusion here about truth and proof in science. In science, there is no such thing as absolute truth and there is no such thing as proof. Scientific theories are subject to evidence and falsification, not proof. In this regard, science differs from mathematics in which there are axioms and postulates and theorems that can be proved from them (example: in plane geometry, two triangles are congruent if an angle and the adjoining sides are equal). Thus, one does not “prove” evolution; one only finds evidence supporting it or evidence falsifying it. So far, the falsifiers have utterly failed.

    Re Bryan

    The notion that evolution is a weak theory is absolute crap. The evidence supporting evolution, namely common descent, is overwhelming. In fact, there is probably no scientific theory with as much supporting evidence. For instance, there is far more evidence supporting common descent then supports the General Theory of Relativity. Furthermore, not a single observation has been made that has falsified common descent. In fact, common descent is now so well established that biologists consider it a fact.

    On the other hand, the mechanism driving evolution is still being debated. Although natural selection is generally considered the most important mechanism by the majority of the biological community, there are a few holdouts, such as Prof. Larry Moran who argue that genetic drift is at least equally important. Not being a biologist, I am in no position to render an opinion on that controversy.

  69. Jose

    @RL
    You’re wasting your time. Phil’s bias is clearly carved in stone.

    Once again, all she needs to do is say she’s not a creationist and that she doesn’t support teaching creationism in school. It’s that easy. Instead, all we have are statements supporting teaching both sides, and statements which would look fine sitting next to “I did not have sexual relations with that woman”.

  70. George E Martin

    @ Justin Olson

    “Teaching religion in a science classroom violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. See Tammy Kitzmiller, et al. v. Dover Area School District, et al., Case No. 04cv2688.”

    The Kitzmiller v Dover decision said that the attempt to include Intelligent Design and its tenants in the classroom was introducing creationism in the classroom. The Dover decision was a district court decision and only has force in that district. It will likely be referenced in the future, but it sets no precedent that other courts are obliged to follow.

    However the Supreme Court has ruled on creationism in the classroom in Edwards v. Aguillard (1987). That found the Louisiana “Creationism Act” violated the “Establishment Clause”. That is the pertinent case to cite because it does set precedent. The Intelligent Design movement essentially sprang from that decission.

    George

  71. Calli Arcale

    Also, Calli, you can prove religion wrong, when that religion makes testable claims.

    Well, you can and you can’t. On the one hand, you can refute testable claims made by a religious entity. On the other hand, religion isn’t really the same sort of beast as science. To the majority of born-again fundamentalist Christians it’s all about *believing* in one central thing, everything else be damned. You cannot refute that central thing, not in a way that will matter to those who believe it. Complicating the matter enormously is the fact that many of these extremists believe not only in God but in the Devil as well, and particularly in the notion of the Devil as a wicked creature who lays traps to tempt people away from God. That sort of thinking makes it very hard for them to listen to evidence which seems to contradict their beliefs.

    My point is that it is the Creationists who want us to think that it’s “us versus them”. Well, really they aren’t aiming at us. They’re aiming at the many spiritual people in this country who don’t understand science very well and who may be swayed by fearmongering assertions that science is in opposition to religion. They are creating a controversy where none exists. By saying “Unless you count one side as being right — science — and the other side being wrong — creationism,” your rallying cry plays right into their hands. It makes us appear as the anti-religious folks the Creationists claim we are.

    The point is that Creationism doesn’t belong in science class *period*, not because it is wrong but because it isn’t even science. If you say it doesn’t belong because it’s wrong, then you give them hope — they think all they have to do is to prove it right, and then it will fit! Or, from the more cynical members of the movement, all they have to do is prove to the voting public that some doubt exists, and voila — the manufactured controversy. But it can’t be proven right (scientifically speaking, anyway), and that’s because it isn’t scientific in the first place. And that is the *real* reason why it doesn’t belong in science class.

  72. Bobwick

    Palin is the female Huckabee

  73. Beacon

    I am absolutely disgusted by your terrible misconceptions and incomplete views about Palin.

    As your wrote on 04/29/2007
    “cherry picking”; selectively picking out data that support your argument and ignoring contrary evidence. Why not do a hit piece on Obama. I can think of 20000 things you could write about.

    Via
    http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5gV5jvU52RD3WBflzbmSu5l6zwOqAD92V3VQG0

    As a candidate for governor, Sarah Palin called for teaching creationism alongside evolution in public schools. But after Alaska voters elected her, Palin, now Republican John McCain’s presidential running mate, kept her campaign pledge to not push the idea in the schools.

    As a candidate for governor, Sarah Palin called for teaching creationism alongside evolution in public schools. But after Alaska voters elected her, Palin, now Republican John McCain’s presidential running mate, kept her campaign pledge to not push the idea in the schools.

    Palin’s children attend public schools and Palin has made no push to have creationism taught in them.

    Phil you say you KNOW she is a creationist? Actually that is complete nonsense. You don’t know that! She does not believe that dinosaurs walked with humans.
    Just because extreme left wing bloggers repeat lies does not make them true.

    You are citing a HUGE Obama supporter as evidence of your claims. Talk about cherry picking and doing your research. Give me a break!

    No offense because I love your astronomy posts but you should stick to those more. You obviously have not been paying attention for the last 17 months.

  74. Craig

    Geography and foreign policy lesson – Canada is closer to Palin’s home town than is Russia.

  75. Davidlpf

    Right now I am within a kilometer of Usa-Canada border so therefore I am expert in international affairs.

  76. A poll was released a couple of days ago that said if you Americans were to let us, Australians, vote for you nearly three quarters of all Australians would vote for Obama.

    http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/obama-wins-by-a-landslide–in-australia/2008/09/29/1222650989574.html

    There was a SF story I read years ago where the idea was that the science of demographics and polling had got so precise that the election would come down to one elector/person chosen by a computer. Sorry I can’t remember who wrote it or what the story was called.

  77. I flew over Russia once so that makes me an expert on high level strategic relations with the Russians. I spent time on a Russian ship once. The Russian crew were very friendly – good people. They ate lots of cabbage, sour cream, garlic and smelly fish. They showed us videos of home in Vladivostok. In the videos they went on picnics where they drank lots of vodka got drunk, pulled out guns and started shooting bottles. That makes me an expert in Russian diplomacy, cultural affairs and international arms talks. Not to mention the entertainment industry.
    Spasiba.

  78. I guess the links I provided where she has said she thinks both sides should be taught were totally missed by some commenters. That was before this campaign, certainly. And even if I agree that she pledged not to let that affect her decisions while Governor, has she made similar pledges since? She hasn’t said much of anything.

    I find it funny that many of you are accusing me of being closed minded. I have read up on her positions — what little we know of them — and it’s clear where she’s coming from. If you don’t think she’s a creationist, or at the very very least has serious creationist leanings, then you are fooling yourself.

  79. Phil you’re absolutely correct. In the recent interviews she is very careful in what she says. In typical poli speak it is what she doesn’t say that is important. This is a good example:
    “But that is not part of the state policy or a local curriculum in a school district. Science should be taught it science class.”
    Nothing there about what she believes or doesn’t.She is just stating the current policy. We call that lying by omission. Doubleplusgood doublespeak.

  80. John

    I don’t believe in god but I will say that the copy of the US Constitution I have doesn’t say anything about the seperation of church and state, it just says the state can not create a religion or pick one religion over another and run with it. Super religious people are scary and creepy, but so are super scientist geek types. I for one am voting the Republican ticket because the Democrats have done zippy for us in the past 20 years and if that means somebody who is religious (super or not) as the VP then fine. Remember congress has control over the budget and the Federal Reserve has control over the money. The president doesn’t control either of those. In short when the economy is good or bad its because of the Congress and the Fed. When Science is good or bad its because of the quality of the data.

  81. Daffy

    Pulse, it’s not a matter of picking on religious people. Christian religious extremists want to use their beliefs to change the foundations of our society. It is our duty as Americans to oppose that. If they would keep their religious views in church that would be one thing…but they don’t.

  82. Troy

    Limbaugh should have said, “we have the babe in the woods on our ticket.”

  83. Jose

    @Beacon
    I am absolutely disgusted by your terrible misconceptions and incomplete views about Palin.

    Then why can’t she take 3 seconds and clear up these terrible misconceptions instead of talking around the issue. You should be disgusted with Palin. All she has to do is say “I don’t think creationism should be taught in science class”. If people have terrible misconceptions about her views, she has only herself to blame.

    Why not do a hit piece on Obama.

    That’s an easy one. Because he’s clearly stated that creationism has no place in the classroom.

  84. tacitus

    I agree with Phil. While she has not gone on the record to say if she is or is not a creationist, the circumstantial evidence is strong. First, she has been quoted as saying two things:

    1) That she is a “bible-believing” Christian. This is instantly recognizable as a phrase used by Christians who believe that the Bible is the inerrant word of God, from beginning to end. The vast majority of “bible-believing” Christians are creationists. There is a small minority of inerrantists who will argue that you have to look beyond the plain meaning of the text to bring the Bible into harmony with science, but they are very few, and it is a strand of inerrancy that is far beyond the norms of creationism that is taught at the Assemblies of God congregations she attends.

    2) That she would prefer schools to “teach the controversy”. Again, instantly recognizable as coded language used by creationists of all stripes who want to gain a foothold in the science education of our children. She may have had to back off that stance as governor and now as VP candidate because, after Dover, it is a legally perilous position to take, but as others have already said, she really has equivocated when it comes to repudiating her previous statements. Either way, her retraction is likely driven by political reasons and not personal.

    3) Not really objective evidence, but compelling nonetheless — the fundamentalist religious right is absolutely orgasmic about Sarah Palin. If they thought she believed in evolution or would do everything she could to keep creationism out of the school system, they would disown her in a heartbeat, in the same way they really don’t like McCain.

    4) As I mentioned above, she has belonged to three different fundamentalist (“bible-believing”) churches in her adult life. Their pastors teach inerrancy and the literal truth of the Bible — from Genesis to Revelation and all that entails. What’s more, in digging into what those churches believe, it appears that all of them are members of the “Third Way” movement, which adheres to Dominionist theology. If you don’t know what that means, you should — they essentially believe that a nation (i.e. this nation) should be governed based on the laws and principles laid down in the Old Testament (and I don’t just mean the Ten Commandments). One famous Dominionist declared that he was looking forward to the day when the Bible verse “at the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow” was taken as law.

    Now I don’t believe a President Palin would come close to succeeding in turning this country into a theocracy (she will never have the political chops to do it anyway, even if she want to) but she is most definitely the most extreme religious figure to have a chance at gaining the White House in my lifetime. (I don’t believe that Bush is anywhere near close to taking his religion seriously — he never pushed DOMA much, for instance and was overheard as saying he couldn’t get worked up about the gay marriage issue).

    Anyway, to sum up, I have little doubt that she is personally a creationist, I also have little doubt that if McCain is elected, given his age, she has a good chance of becoming our President (yikes!) before two terms are up (experts put it as high as 1 in 4). While she will likely be unable to overtly foist her fundamentalist religious beliefs or creationism on the country, as we have seen from the Bush administration, there are many covert and subtle ways to move in the same direction — promoting abstinence-based sex education, allowing hospitals and pharmacies “moral exemptions” for medical abortions or emergency birth control (Palin believes the morning after pill is abortion, for example), deliberately suppressing or watering down scientific reports that conflict with your agenda (done by Bush numerous times), installing unqualified party operatives in key propaganda positions (again, Bush did this in the NASA public relations office and the Justice Dept) and so on.

    There are many reasons to object to Palin — that she is a creationist is not at the top of the list. Basically she is proving herself to be woefully out of her depth as a VP nominee. She seems to go into a panic whenever she’s asked a question about the most basic of policy issues and starts babbling, not making any sense at all. Republicans keep harping on about how her experience is the same as Obama’s but even if that was true, that’s not the important issue. It’s an issue of competence and vetting.

    Obama has prevailed through one of the toughest primary seasons in history and beaten the odds-on favorite establishment candidate in Hillary Clinton. He has attended countless debates, unscripted press conferences, in-depth serious policy based interviews on the Sunday morning talk shows and national newspapers, and has been grilled over his religious beliefs, his relationship with his longtime pastor, old colleagues and friends, even his birth certificate, for goodness-sakes! In the past two years, the public has had ample chance to get to know him and his views and to make a decision as to his fitness for office. Judging from the reaction of the undecideds after the first debate, he is making that case.

    Contrast that with Sarah Palin. One month on the national stage, no press conferences, no unscripted questions (well, apart from the Pakistan one where she agreed with Obama by mistake!), and two, just two, meaningful interviews so far. (Hannity puff pieces don’t count). We’re not allowed to ask about her religious beliefs, she’s stonewalling the Troopergate investigation using a horde of lawyers from the campaign, and when she does finally get the chance to answer a few questions, her answers are almost nonsensical babbling full of confused talking points the McCain camp has crammed into her.

    Really, it would be funny if it wasn’t so scary. By picking Palin, McCain decided to put his election victory before his country–something he had sworn repeatedly he would never do.

  85. Deepak

    Dear Phil, you also seem to be moving on the science fanatical path by time and gain making comments that ‘science is the only thing that is right and creationism is wrong’. Its purely the scientists perspective that science is the only truth. Half the world believes in something else. Let people choose what they want to believe. Lets work for science and crack the mysteries of the universe. Don’t think we need to thump our chests for this and ridicule everything else.

  86. Daffy

    Deepak,

    I say yet again (and will keep saying it), the religious extremists want to take over the country. By ignoring them, you help to make that happen.

  87. Deepak, people are allowed to believe in whatever lunacy they like. Unfortunately the problem is they won’t keep that lunacy to themselves. They believe they have the right and the duty to impose that lunacy on the rest of us and in the process restrict honest to goodness scientific investigation and that is wrong.

  88. Nigel Depledge

    Bryan said:

    Unconstitutional? Which article or amendment might you be referring to? Note, “separation of church and state” is *not* a phrase from the constitution, but “In God We Trust” on our money and the Pledge of Allegiance have been around for a long time.

    This is a common canard, Bryan. The separation of church and state, while not expressed in these exact words, is part of the First Amendment. Congress is prohibited from passing any law that favours one religion above any other. State-funded schools may not teach a religious viewpoint because it will favour one religion above all others. Note that some of the more free-thinking students are re-wording the Pledge of Allegiance for themselves.

    Nobody’s going to prove creationism or evolution as being the ultimate truth any time soon (unless you know a lot more than you let on),

    No, but your phrasing is back-to-front. Creationism (in all of its forms except the least extreme types such as theistic evolution) contravenes reality as we have found it, so is quite clearly disproved. OTOH, evolutionary theory is so well-supported by evidence that we can state with certainty that it is at the very least a good approximation of reality.

    so why not explain both belief systems and where they came from?

    Which particular form of creationism would you choose to teach? There are at least 5 or 6 broad types in Christianity alone. And why should anyone waste the time of science teachers by requiring them to teach and then debunk antiscience claptrap?

    Part of education is understanding what others think, e.g. where Islam came from and how it affects the mindset of the middle-eastern cultures. We don’t have to teach Islam (or Christianity or Buddhism) as being *the* truth in our schools, but pretending they don’t exist seems equally “ridiculous”.

    OK, first off, all forms of Creationism require an absence of thought – they demand the person being taught to accept the authority of the teacher without question. Second, some kind of comparative religion class would probably be of benefit, but how would it be taught, who is to decide what should be included, or what should be excluded, and how the hell will you get Islam and Buddhism a fair hearing in the deepest, darkest Bible Belt?

  89. There are two reasons why Palin is on the ticket in the first place:
    1. She is a woman;
    2. she appeals to fundamentalists.
    Therefore, Sarah Palin will never disown creationism during this campaign, regardless of what she believes, because she is needed to bring in the fundamentalist vote. If the McCain/Palin ticket looks too secular, these people will stay home on 4 November.

  90. Deepak, is your last name Chopra?

  91. Darth Robo

    Dear Deepak, you also seem to be taking things too personally by time and gain making comments that ’science is the not the only thing that is right because my beliefs are of value to me’. Well that’s nice. Half the world believes in something else. Well that’s nice. Half the world believes in many something elses. But that does not make any of it “truth”. As has already being explained, science is not about “truth” either. It’s about discovering facts and trying to explain them. People can choose what they want to believe. But you miss the point that is being made, which is that there are those who wish to impose their VERSION of “truth” onto others, those who have power to affect politics in order to do so. This is wrong, and this is what’s being fought here.

    Religion is fine, for those who want to believe it. I have never seen this blog rail against religion for the sake of it, only against poor thinking when influenced by religion.

    And at the risk of anyone being offended, creationism taken literally in any way is dumb. That’s not the same as calling religion dumb.

    So there.

  92. Nigel Depledge

    Deepak said:

    Dear Phil, you also seem to be moving on the science fanatical path by time and gain making comments that ’science is the only thing that is right and creationism is wrong’. Its purely the scientists perspective that science is the only truth. Half the world believes in something else. Let people choose what they want to believe. Lets work for science and crack the mysteries of the universe. Don’t think we need to thump our chests for this and ridicule everything else.

    Wow! What a plastic definition of “truth” you have there. The world must be a terrifying place for you, if what was true yesterday might cease to be true tomorrow.

    Truth is not shaped by opinion. The universe is what it is, and no amount of wishful thinking (aka praying) can change that.

    Science is the best method we have for discovering how the universe works. It is the only such method with a successful track record.

    Creationism is wrong for the simple reason that all of the many forms of creationism (with the possible exception of some versions of theistic evolution) are at variance with reality. Look at YEC. The Earth is old, the Universe older, therefore YEC is wrong. Look at OEC or DAC. The overwhelming preponderance of evidence shows that all life is related, and descended from a common ancestor population. Therefore, OEC is wrong. And so on.

    So, actually, when you complain that Phil is crusading with the “science is right and creationism is wrong” shtick, you are actually complaining that the world does not work the way you want it to. Get over yourself.

  93. um…one thing to keep in mind here is that there can definitely be a difference between one’s personal beliefs, and what actions one takes when in an elected office.

    sarah palin may well be a dyed-in-the-wool creationist, but that does NOT automatically mean that she would push this as an agenda. in fact, her tenure as governor of alaska seems to support that. she may believe that humans walked with dinosaurs and may like to see it taught in the public schools, but that does not mean that acting as governor, or vice president, she would push through those personal beliefs in her policies, or try to subvert the law of the land.

    here in virginia, we have another example of this. our governor (a democrat, and obama ally) is a devout catholic. he is personally opposed to the death penalty, because of his personal religious beliefs. yet, he has not stood in the way of executions in the state of virginia, because he feels that it is his duty to enforce the laws of the state of virginia, even though he could easily subvert those laws, in spirit anyway, by commuting all death sentences.

    now, i have no problem with anyone who wants to withhold their vote from mccain/palin – or from obama/biden for that matter. in my mind, choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil. but i do think it’s unfair to say that just because palin may have kooky beliefs that she will necessarily try to force those kooky beliefs down everyone’s throats, when there is no evidence of that. after all, i believe that obama has made great pains to show that he is a very christian man, why would you think that palin’s beliefs will turn her into some sort of theocrat, but obama’s won’t?

  94. Aodhhan

    Now, to be fair, this is a single source claim, and Munger runs an anti-Palin blog in Alaska

    Then why on earth would you even publish this? Stop pushing the rhetoric. This whole story about Palin wanting to teach this and that has already been answered; even the Democrats have dropped it because they found out it was a false story. The truth: She doesn’t believe creation should be part of the curriculum, but if the topic is brought up in the classroom it shouldn’t be prohibited from discussion. STick with things which are actually part of “THE PUBLICH RECORD”, and not from 3rd party gibberish.

    I expect more from someone who has a PhD and knows the difference between research and looking up the research of others and re-printing the information (which some people wrongly consider research).

    Talk about lack of “objective thinking”.
    If I would convince enough people to print a story saying dark matter is actually dust and tiny fragments from black holes and possibly white dwarfs… would you instantly believe it, print it and call it gospel? OR…would you actually do your own research?

    For someone who is educated, you should know better.

    BTW, I don’t belong to either party. They are both equally stupid on many things, and anyone who makes their decision based on one particular subject is selfish and foolish.

    …and although how “science” is funded by the government affects my paycheck directly, I believe there are items far more important. It isn’t like either candidate is going to drop all funding for science. Don’t you think it would be rather idiotic to have someone who fully supports huge funding for science, yet doesn’t have the knowledge to handle the critical details of running the Executive Branch, military, economic, etc. problems?
    One candidate has never dealt with budgets at all… do you actually think something like science (which is in the middle of the priority ladder) is going to be properly funded by this person? …laughable.

  95. Otheus

    I’m not trying to throw weight behind Palin, but like any good Skeptic, one should check the sources. As Nathan said in his comment, Palin’s comments are a bit exaggerated. From the article you cited:
    “I don’t think there should be a prohibition against debate if it comes up in class. … I’m not going to pretend I know how all this came to be,” she said.
    Which points to two crucial facts: (1) She is *not* “supporting” “teaching” creationism; she is merely against the idea of “banning” such “debate” from the (publicly funded) classroom. (2) She is not pretending to know what she doesn’t know. Isn’t that an improvement on the current administration?

  96. Darth Robo

    >>>”The truth: She doesn’t believe creation should be part of the curriculum, but if the topic is brought up in the classroom it shouldn’t be prohibited from discussion.”

    And the reason it shouldn’t be prohibited is… ?

  97. David D.

    @Darth Robo–
    “And the reason it shouldn’t be prohibited is… ?”

    Exactly what are you going to prohibit kids from talking about? This is NOT the same as teaching both sides, or teaching creationism. If kids start discussing some topic–ID, Iraq war, whatever–are you somehow going to stifle their speech?

    WOW.

    It is disappointing that Phil’s razor-sharp mind turns to mush when it comes to politics. Hey–it’s his blog.

  98. I don’t think that Sarah Palin is worthy of discussion. She’s not ready for prime time. Hell, she’s not even ready for the small time. I find it astonishing that anybody takes her seriously: she can’t name a newspaper or magazine that she reads, she can’t name more than one Supreme Court decision, despite the fact that she was a journalism major and in J-school (at least the reputable ones) you have to learn about the Court decisions that impacted free speech and freedom of the press.

    She seems incurious, cocky, snide, and not at all accomplished or even apt to do a good job. If she were my student, I’d fail her for any number of reasons. Cramming to run for vice president of the U.S. is just as stupid (and short-sighted) as cramming for a big final that yu haven’t studied for in a class you forgot to attend for most of the semester.

    If any of the rest of us ran on such a thin resume as hers, we’d be laughed out of the race. If she were a Democrat, the Republicans would be all over her like a cheap suit. But instead they don’t want us to ask her “hard” questions… cuz then we’d be beating up on her. Well, I’m sorry–but for those of us who have been asking and answering hard questions all our lives (and that includes a wide range of people from all walks of life), that just is silly.

    For what it’s worth, I grew up going to Catholic school, with religion in class every day. It only made me respect the separation of church and state even more than the fundie “thinkers” who feel it is their right and duty to force the rest of us to worship as they do (or else).

  99. yu=you (danged typos)

  100. Aodhhan

    Free speech, critical thinking process, etc… which should be present in all levels of academe.

    I would think a reason would need to be provided if it was prohibited. Religion is a touchy subject, but there is more than one side. Therefore all sides should at least be heard. Just because you hear it doesn’t mean you believe it (at least I hope not). This is for any subject.

    I don’t believe in a diety/God/creator. However, I’m not going to hold it against someone if they do. Nor do I believe they should be silenced. To me it is just another subject with multiple sides and views. As a scientist I encourage all views to be objectively looked at; which is also why I don’t have a problem if my children are exposed to religion. I don’t expect my kids to believe everything I do on all subjects… why should this be different? Witholding any information is censorship. Hard to find the truth when censorship is involved, or only ONE SIDE is presented with selective facts.

  101. Darth Robo

    Sorry, Dave D, I thought we were talking about public school science classes. Kid asks about creationism? Tell ‘em it’s nothing to do with science. If the kid pushes, show ‘em why. Not hard to debunk creationism.

    Now, if they wanna talk about religion or ID in a humanities/social studies/philosophy or comparitive religious studies class, that’s not so bad. As long as the teacher makes sure that it doesn’t turn into some big preach-fest for whatever religion the kid happens to bring up.

    Way to blame Phil for the comments of some of his posters by the way.

  102. Oh, and as for Phil’s concerns about the creationism issues — it’s HIS blog and his opinion. You need to remember that.

    Creationism is a fake offshoot of religion, attempting to masquerade as science. It is an epic fail on that front. It’s hard to reject it without reading up on it, but once you do, if you’re honest with yourself, you pretty quickly see that it has no standing as science, and barely succeeds as wishful thinking and not at all as logic.

    Just because Phil (or anyone who opposes the teaching of such material in science classes) sees it for what it is doesn’t make them closed-minded. That can only happen if they speak against it without examining it. Unless you have some knowledge that Phil (or anyone who speaks against the teaching of this fantasy) hasn’t examined it before rejecting it, then I suggest you think twice about accusing them of closedmindedness. It’s not logical.

  103. Aodhhan

    She seems incurious, cocky, snide, and not at all accomplished or even apt to do a good job. If she were my student, I’d fail her for any number of reasons.–> So you judge based on prejudice instead of merit. Nice… you should be proud of yourself. Maybe you just aren’t intelligent enought to do it any other way.

    If any of the rest of us ran on such a thin resume as hers, we’d be laughed out of the race.–> Senator Obama is still in the race, no experience and he’s the PRESIDENTIAL candidate, not the VP candidate.

    But instead they don’t want us to ask her “hard” questions–=>Actually they want the media to ask the SAME questions they ask the democratic candidates. Anyone can see there is a huge difference in how one side is treated compared to the other.

    she can’t name a newspaper or magazine that she reads—> I would have generalized this question as well. This is a very poor question due to the fact the answer would provide an indirect endorsement; not to mention the fact most politicians have magazines and newspapers sent to them without asking. Or if you’re like me… I have quite a few subscriptions, mostly science related. I can tell you the article and everything about it, but I’ll stumble on exactly which magazine I read it from.

    Well, I’m sorry–but for those of us who have been asking and answering hard questions all our lives (and that includes a wide range of people from all walks of life), that just is silly.—>…asking AND answering a wide range from all walks… what? This makes no sense. Want a mulligan?

    Finally, if you are going to whack Gov. Palin, you should really go after Sen. Biden. He averages 5 gaffs a week. My favorite is asking someone in a wheel chair to stand up.

    Or the Obama campaign itself, getting on Sen. McCain for not doing e-mail on a computer without finding out he physically cannot do it due to his injuries.

    It’s bad when you censor others; but nothing is worse than when you censor yourself due to your own closed mindedness.

  104. Captain Swoop

    David D.
    ‘Exactly what are you going to prohibit kids from talking about?’

    In a science class? how about things that aren’t science?

  105. David D.

    @Darth–
    We were talking about science classes. The issue was should kids be allowed to DISCUSS a controversial topic. I agree that we should let them discuss it AND show them why AND debunk creationism. We should NOT stifle the discussion, as long as it does not turn into the preach-fest that you describe. This is what Palin was talking about, and what Phil and a lot of other commenters completely disregard.

    I was not blaming Phil for poster’s comments; it was a separate comment about Phil, that’s all.

  106. Cheyenne

    OK so she would, if she had the power (which she doesn’t and won’t), she would support teaching both evolution and ID (or Creationism) in a biology class. Um, so what? Don’t we have about 99 other issues that are more important? Iraq, the economy, health care….little things like that?

    She’s a candidate for VP. That has nothing to do with what is taught in biology classes. 8 years of Bush- what’s the data on how many classes switched from just teaching evolution to those teaching both?

    It’s a PZ Myers, “Brights” argument- they openly hate religion and don’t want it to influence any aspect of society. Which is fine, they are bright people, but I think the fear of teaching both sides (Evolution and Creationism) is severely freaking out the bright people just a bit too much.

    By the way, I believe in Evolution b/c I understand science. But I’m not such a hysterical freak that I want to fight Creationists (even in a blog forum).

    I was taught both sides by a pretty smart biology teacher when I was younger. I think he handled it really well. A few months of biology that had 2 whole days explaining what Creationists believed and why (and what their arguments against Evolution were). Then, since we had info from both sides, we could make up our minds on the issue (I chose Evolution, as did 95% of the other kids, only Shinto stuck with Creationism, drat that Shinto!).

    So yes, Creationism is wrong and not science, but it is a belief that a very large percentage of this world holds, so discussing it openly in a classroom is not wrong- it’s just info. Calm the frick down people.

  107. Todd W.

    @Cheyenne

    It sounds like you had a good teacher. Suppose, however, that someone gets a Creationist science teacher, or at least one very sympathetic to the Creationist/ID movement. The slant that they put on the subject is likely going to be very different from what you experienced and give their students a skewed idea of basic principles of how science works.

    How could Gov. Palin have an impact on this? Well, supposing she does become President due to something happening to Sen. McCain, she would have the power to appoint federal judges (as has already been pointed out) who might be sympathetic to “teaching the controversy”. So, rather than a result like what came out of Dover, the teacher in my example above gets to keep on spewing religious belief as if it were valid science. And, with this viewed as a “minor” issue, combined with the fact that a lot of people believe a Creationist version to some degree, it probably will not be a sticking point when it comes to approval by Congress.

    Also consider the Pres./VP ability to direct and govern, without Congressional checks or balances, the Secretary of Education and the DoE. Once the Secretary is in place, the Pres. and VP can influence educational standards across the country. True, they cannot directly dictate what each state must do, but there is potential for very significant impacts on science standards through this department.

    So, though people may downplay the power that the VP or Pres. have, in reality, they can do a great deal of harm just as easily as they can do good.

  108. Beacon

    Tacitus says
    “I agree with Phil. While she has not gone on the record to say if she is or is not a creationist, the circumstantial evidence is strong. First, she has been quoted as saying two things:” He goes on to argue that she has had pastors (supposedly) that might have been creationists! So I COULD say Obama hates America, hates gays and a race baiter because of his associations with 1. rev wright 2. rev james meek 3. pastor donny mcclurkin 4. Father Pfleger
    Your circumstantial evidence is flawed just like mine is.

    I could argue through circumstantial evidence that Obama is a muslim. I could say
    1. his middle name is a hussein
    2. his father was a muslim
    3. he has a half brother is a muslim
    4. he went to a school a muslim school in indonesia(most populous muslim country on earth) from ages 6-10
    etc etc

    WOULD I HAVE A CASE? NO WAY!
    Your argument is just as bad as mine tacitus.

    Again i have to quote phil because he wrote it PERFECTLY

    “cherry picking”; selectively picking out data that support your argument and ignoring contrary evidence.

  109. Todd W.

    One additional note. I don’t think there is a problem with talking about Creationism/ID in class, so long as it is in its proper context. If the topic is brought up in science class, then the teacher should be required to discuss how it is not science. Humanities or social science? Sure, discuss it as a cultural aspect and how it compares to other creation or religion beliefs and mythologies.

    But it should never be taught as if it were actually science, because, well, it’s not.

  110. Jose

    @Aodhhan

    The truth: She doesn’t believe creation should be part of the curriculum, but if the topic is brought up in the classroom it shouldn’t be prohibited from discussion.

    The real truth: She hasn’t said that. She’s made carefully worded statements to avoid actually answering whether or not she supports the teaching of creationism. If she doesn’t think creationism belongs in the classroom, why is she working so hard to avoid saying it?

    And for the record, discussing creationism in the classroom has always and will always be allowed. You just can’t teach it as science.

    @bob the skeptical christian

    sarah palin may well be a dyed-in-the-wool creationist, but that does NOT automatically mean that she would push this as an agenda.

    That’s only part of the issue. If someone lacks the ability to see the problems with creationism in their private life, there’s a good chance that they’ll bring that same lack of ability to decisions they make in their public life. You can’t turn off stupid.

    why would you think that palin’s beliefs will turn her into some sort of theocrat, but obama’s won’t?

    Because Obama hasn’t dodged the issues, and he’s made it clear that creationism has no place in the classroom.

  111. Cheyenne

    I completely agree with you on your last post Todd (I do disagree a bit on your other response but I thought it was pretty thoughtful and on the mark in a couple of ways, I think I sort of agree with you on your ideas but maybe not on the degree of them-I’m not sure that sentence made any sense…).

    But anyway-It’s good teaching that makes the difference. Creationism is not science in any way, it shouldn’t be taught as such, but it needs to be explained in class (although, hopefully, like in my case, very, very briefly).

    How do I know what Creationism even is? Because I was taught it in school. Why should I learn what it is? B/C a huge chunk of people on this little pale blue dot believe in it- so I want to understand what they are thinking. I totally disagree with them, but I appreciate the fact that I was taught both sides.

    Plus, quite frankly, the zealots on both sides of this issue are modern day book burners.

  112. bob the skeptical christian said: “here in virginia, we have another example of this. our governor (a democrat, and obama ally) is a devout catholic. he is personally opposed to the death penalty, because of his personal religious beliefs. yet, he has not stood in the way of executions in the state of virginia, because he feels that it is his duty to enforce the laws of the state of virginia, even though he could easily subvert those laws, in spirit anyway, by commuting all death sentences.”

    Yikes. What gutless piece of work he is then. He rather let people die than fight to change the law? You know, I can understand making little compromises for minor things but this… words fail. This is why many people do not respect politicians. To bring this back around to Sarah though, she obviously thinks politically expediency is more important than principles as much as the Gov of Virginia. She will not acknowledge the fact that she is the worst kind of creationist obviously so that she doesn’t scare off the moderates.

  113. Darth Robo

    David D.

    >>>”We were talking about science classes. The issue was should kids be allowed to DISCUSS a controversial topic. I agree that we should let them discuss it AND show them why AND debunk creationism. We should NOT stifle the discussion, as long as it does not turn into the preach-fest that you describe. This is what Palin was talking about, and what Phil and a lot of other commenters completely disregard.”

    (sigh) The reason why the question is asked to these people in the first place is to see what they agree with. When asked about ID and Creationism, Obama said they were unscientific and shouldn’t be taught. He also accepted evolution. Clear concise answer. Ask Palin, and we get “Oh let the kids discuss both sides.”. This from a woman who thinks dino’s and man walked at the same time, by the way. If this ‘discussion’ in science class was to take place just the once, to show how creationism was unscientific (something which can be done in a few minutes, certainly doesn’t need to take up a whole lesson) then why the heck is this such a contentious issue with the public, that the media feel it necessary to ask this question in particular? You seem to be quite happy at taking her statments at face value, almost literally.

  114. drow

    i can see space from my house! i’m a cosmologist!

  115. David D.

    @Darth
    (bigger sigh) What PROOF do you have (other than hearsay from someone who is vehemently anti-Palin) that she believes that dinos and man walked together?

    I’m glad Obama was specific about his views on evolution/creationism. Too bad he can’t be more specific about his views on Bill Ayers, or Rev. Wright. Talk about taking statements at face value.

  116. Jose

    @Shane
    He rather let people die than fight to change the law?
    He may still be fighting to change the law. He’s just not using his power as King of Virginia to commute people’s sentences to life in prison. In a state like Virginia, doing so might be political suicide.

  117. Marco

    Isn’t Palin’s father a high school science teacher? Wonder what happened. Somebody shuld check into that angle, no?

  118. Todd W.

    @David D

    Well, regarding Rev. Wright, Obama denounced him.

    Regarding Bill Ayers, the Boston Globe had this:

    He asked Obama about his links to Ayers, a former member of the domestic terrorist group the Weather Underground. “Can you explain that relationship to voters and explain to Democrats why it won’t be a problem?” Stephanopoulos asked.

    Obama replied that Ayers was a neighbor and acquaintance. “The notion that . . . me knowing somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was 8 years old, somehow reflects on me and my values doesn’t make much sense,” he said.

  119. Actually, Obama’s web site has a page on the Ayers connection. Click my name for the link.

  120. David D.

    Todd W–
    I think everyone is aware that there is a lot more to the relationship between Ayers and Obama than just the fact that he “engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was 8 years old .” At the very least, they worked closely for many years, and Ayers hosted Obama’s political coming out party. Not just some guy from his neighborhood.

    But you are free to take his statements at face value if you like.

    As far as Wright, see Beacon’s comment above. Obama’s “denunciation” is about 20 years too late.

  121. David D.

    And I think there is a lot more reportage on Ayers and Obama than what happens to be listed on the Obama website.

  122. Jose

    @David D.
    As far as Wright, see Beacon’s comment above. Obama’s “denunciation” is about 20 years too late.

    And Palin’s “denunciation” still hasn’t arrived. If you ask Obama if he’s a Muslim, he’ll say “no”. If you ask Palin if she’s a creationist who thinks creationism should be taught in the classroom, she deflects the question.

  123. @David D

    You said: “Too bad he can’t be more specific about his views on Bill Ayers, or Rev. Wright.”

    I provided some info about his specific comments. You’re moving the goalposts now.

  124. @Jose,
    He may still be fighting to change the law. He’s just not using his power as King of Virginia to commute people’s sentences to life in prison. In a state like Virginia, doing so might be political suicide.

    He is still a douche. If he is fighting to change the law he is giving us a strange example of his beliefs. Allowing the blacks and mentally disabled (that is who they kill isn’t it?) to die to keep his job is reprehensible. So what if he gets voted out, he shows he has principles and the poor buggers on death row are no worse off.

  125. Aodhhan

    Jose,
    No, I am correct in what I stated. Recheck your facts. It is the reason this seemed like a big thing one day, and nothing the next. Plus, there is the laugh test. What is being taught, and the fact the Governor alone doesn’t impact curriculum in Alaska, so it couldn’t be an issue.

  126. David D.

    @Todd—
    You provided some info about his incomplete comments on Ayers. Again, there is evidence of a much closer connection than what is described at Obama’s own website. That’s not moving goalposts.

    As far as Palin’s “creationism,” she has not pushed that agenda from her exectuive position. It is possible to have a PERSONAL belief that does not translate into POLITICAL action.

  127. Daffy

    “As far as Palin’s “creationism,” she has not pushed that agenda from her exectuive position. It is possible to have a PERSONAL belief that does not translate into POLITICAL action.”

    So you have no problem with Obama’s connection to Reverend Wright, right?

    Or are you just another partisan with blinders on?

  128. @Aodhhan

    Regarding teaching Creationism, your said:

    The truth: She doesn’t believe creation should be part of the curriculum, but if the topic is brought up in the classroom it shouldn’t be prohibited from discussion.

    Here’s a quote from an Aug. 30, 2008 Boston Globe article, emphasis mine (click my name for full article):

    Earlier this year, she told the newspaper that schools should not fear teaching creationism alongside evolution. “Teach both. You know, don’t be afraid of information. . . . Healthy debate is so important and it’s so valuable in our schools. I am a proponent of teaching both. And you know, I say this too as a daughter of a science teacher.”

    According to that, she does, or at least did, believe that Creationism should be part of the curriculum.

    Can you provide a quote from her saying that Creationism should not be taught or be part of the curriculum?

  129. Aodhhan

    This is almost funny.
    Fact… the overwhelming majority of American’s believe in “God”; in one form or another. Which means the majority of Americans have some whacked out theory about what science can prove about the age of Earth, universe etc. So bashing it is rediculous.

    Fact… someone like me who doesn’t believe in God would never get elected to office, because it would be assumed I have no values or core standards to live by.

    Theory… most polititions don’t believe in God but say they do for obvious reasons; and by the actions of most this theory shoul be a fact.

    Because of this, you really have NO IDEA what someone believes and what they don’t when it comes to religion so drop the rediculous things about someone being ignorant because they believe the Earth is only 5000 years old.

    If you asked Mr. Obama or Biden the same question, what do you think they will say? I bet they would stumble on the question.
    This is one of those questions which has been unfairly dropped on Ms. Palin, but nobody forces the opposition to answer.

    SO… if you are going to make some statement about what Palin believes and how rediculous it is, ensure the opposition was given the same question and answered it.

    Today Senator Obama added more things to his “Promise” list.
    1- College education for anyone who serves in the military, peace corps, or your country (Bigger government with perks)
    2- Affordable Insurance and Prescription medication
    3- Recruiting the best teachers and raising their salary
    4- Raising the educational standards focusing more on the ARTS and HUMANITIES (as if we focus too much on math and science now)

    This is on top of so many other promises.

    I am still waiting on the only question I have for him…
    ……how is it ALL going to get paid for?

    Nearly 40% of American’s already don’t pay income tax; I guess he’ll have to tax the poor after all. We know he is going to increase capital gains tax; so the next car, boat or nice luxury need you buy is going to cost you more.
    Even so… still not enough to pay for it all.

    So why you are anti-hyped up about Gov. Palin; you might want to get hyped up on taxes. With President Obama… you’ll have to really learn to love them.
    Either way, he doesn’t have to worry about paying taxes, he’ll just hunt down a few more lobbyists to hand him some money.

  130. Daffy said: “So you have no problem with Obama’s connection to Reverend Wright, right?”

    Daffy, you’re equating personal belief with a connection?

  131. Jose

    @Aodhhan
    No, I am correct in what I stated. Recheck your facts. It is the reason this seemed like a big thing one day, and nothing the next. Plus, there is the laugh test. What is being taught, and the fact the Governor alone doesn’t impact curriculum in Alaska, so it couldn’t be an issue.

    These are the two quotes I’m basing what I said on.

    Palin: Oh, I think it should be taught as an accepted principle. And, as you know, I say that also as the daughter of a school teacher, a science teacher, who has really instilled in me a respect for science. It should be taught in our schools. And I won’t deny that I see the hand of God in this beautiful creation that is Earth. But that is not part of the state policy or a local curriculum in a school district. Science should be taught it science class.

    HANNITY: Did you only want to teach creationism in school and not evolution?
    PALIN: No. In fact, growing up in a school teacher’s house with a science teacher as a dad, you know, I have great respect for science being taught in our science classes and evolution to be taught in our science classes.

    Here’s what I said earlier in this thread about them

    In the first quote, all she says is that evolution is part of the current science curriculum, and that science should be taught in science class. She says nothing about whether or not creationism should be taught as well. In the second quote all she says is that creationism isn’t the only thing that should be taught in school.

    Has she made any more statements on this topic I’m not aware of? If you think she’s opposed to teaching creationism in science class based on these alone, you’re a sucker.

  132. tacitus

    Beacon: Obama made a major speech (which he wrote himself), held a major press conference, and has directly answered numerous questions about Wright and his views, and has repudiated them in no uncertain terms. He also resigned from the church.

    Whether or not you choose to believe his repudiations is up to you, but at least he has given one, and there is no doubt as to his position.

    Once Palin does likewise, then we can begin to compare the two. Palin could reject creationism, as has Obama. She could reject the extremist Dominionist teachings of the churches she attends. Obama was put on the spot and confronted his pastor problem head on. Give us one good reason why Palin shouldn’t be expected to do the same thing.

    So please, do not give us this BS that Palin’s situation is just like Obama’s. Obama has been through two years of vetting in front of the public, while Palin’s been around for a month during which she’s been shielded from all questions of the nature Obama has answered time and again.

    You may not like Obama — that’s your choice — but stop excusing Palin’s sparse and evasive answers as if they’re equivalent to the grillings Obama has endured (and rightly so, by the way). The difference is night and day.

  133. David D.

    Todd W.

    Palin clarified this statement a day later, but nobody here seems to be aware of it. See the comments on discussion above.
    @ Daffy–I am as partisan as they come. A lot of hay being made here about Palin’s personal beliefs. Not much about Obama’s personal views as they relate to Wright’s preaching (I wonder if Obama hates gays?).

    Tell you what–when you give Palin a pass about her views on creationism, then we can give Obama a pass on Ayers and Wright.

  134. Aodhhan

    Todd,
    That was her PERSONAL view almost TWO YEARS ago (which you failed to mention btw). PROFESSIONALLY she stated it should not be forced into the curriculum, but it shouldn’t be prohibited if it comes up in discussion.

    This doesn’t contradict my statement; nor does it show contradictory views in what she said both times. Basically it shows her in a good light. Displaying she doesn’t force her personal views into politics.

    Thank you for helping me display this.

  135. Aodhhan

    JOSE,

    You don’t get it.
    There are two questions and two answers. There is the personal question, and there is a professional question. Like most spin-masters, you are only showing one side, and not seeing both sides for what they actually are.

    …and really, if this is something you are hanging onto in order to hate Gov. Palin, you should really hate Sen. Obama for his views with Rev. Wright. Yeah, there was/is no influence there, eh? After 20 years, and he conviniently gives up his teachings just before running for President? Get real… hater.

  136. Jose

    @Aodhhan
    If you asked Mr. Obama or Biden the same question, what do you think they will say? I bet they would stumble on the question.
    This is one of those questions which has been unfairly dropped on Ms. Palin, but nobody forces the opposition to answer.

    Now you’re just making things up. Obama has addressed this. You don’t need to force him to answer because he talks about the issue openly. Palin avoids the issue and skirts around it when cornered.

    And don’t change the subject to taxes.

  137. Cheyenne

    I really can’t wait for this election to be over with…..

    Maybe the discourse will improve a little bit.

  138. Todd W.

    @Aodhhan

    My comment was not addressing what she will or will not do professionally. It was in response to your statement that the truth is that she does not believe creationism should be part of the science curriculum. Also, my quote is from August of this year, not two years ago. The paper stated that that comment was from earlier this year, not two years ago. The paper may be wrong, but it’s what I have to go on.

    If you have a quotation to link to where she states, unequivocally, that creationism should not be taught (as opposed to discussed, two different things, now) in the science classroom, please share it with us.

    So, yes, my citation does contradict the statement you made and which I cited above.

  139. Aodhhan said: “Nearly 40% of American’s already don’t pay income tax; I guess he’ll have to tax the poor after all”
    If this is true, the 40% figure and a quick google says it possibly is, then many of those 40% aren’t poor. They’re earning on or about the average wage. This says to me that Americans are under taxed if anything.

    Aodhhan said: “We know he is going to increase capital gains tax; so the next car, boat or nice luxury need you buy is going to cost you more.”
    No it won’t. If you sell something big, property for example, you will be taxed on the capital gain. What you’re talking about is a luxury tax. We just had an increase in the luxury tax imposed on cars in Oz. Anything over about $75k, with some exemptions, is hit for the luxury tax and increases the price by about 7%.

  140. Jose

    @Aodhhan

    You don’t get it.

    Nope. You don’t get it. If it’s only her personal belief, why does she dodge the question? It’s an easy one to answer. Once again, all she has to do is say “I don’t think creationism should be taught in the classroom”. Why is that so hard for her? Obama can do it.

    And stop trying to changing the subject.

  141. Cheyenne, don’t count on it.

  142. honestly, i still don’t see why her personal beliefs matter as a question of possible policy. she may believe that creationism and science should both be taught. that doesn’t mean that she would try to push that policy through – the automatic assumption that she would is unfair.

    the question could be turned around – if an atheist were elected president, do you think that he/she would immediately try to eliminate religion in this country? try to limit the rights of christians? try to eradicate mentions of god? i would not assume that, and would chastise any christian who tried to make that claim.

    also, bear in mind that it is much easier for obama to come out against creationism/id – why? because the people who SUPPORT creationism/id are not going to vote for him! he loses nothing politically by being firm on that issue. other issues that ARE important to the more extreme base of HIS party he skirts around. ALL politicians do this.

    there are plenty of reasons to not want palin elected. and if you said “i don’t want to vote for her because she holds creationist views”, or even “i don’t want to vote for her because she believes in god”, then absolutely cast your vote elsewhere. but to use a few quotes mined from interviews to monger fear that palin will be forcing bibles into every science classroom is disingenuous, at best.

  143. Daniel

    Just wanna correct you here Phil, “People have joked that her foreign policy is that she can see Russia from her house”…

    Yeah y’see.

    No one joked. That is her and her party’s actual stance on it. They endorse it. Look it up. They believe it constitutes legit foreign policy experience.

  144. tacitus

    Another evasive answer on creationism published today by CBS:

    COURIC: Should creationism be allowed to be taught anywhere in public schools?

    Gov. PALIN: Don’t have a problem at all with kids debating all sides of theories, all sides of ideas that they ever–kids do it today, whether it’s on paper in a curriculum or not. Curriculums also are best left to the local school districts, instead of big brother, federal government, telling a district what they can and can’t teach.

    Whatever this is, it is not a rejection of teaching creationism in schools. And we get the same creationist coded language — “all sides of theories” (i.e. “both sides”) again!

    Really? We should debate “all sides” of astronomy theory? Faked moon landings, the Face on Mars, the Big Bang never happened? A 6,000 year-old Universe? Astrology?

  145. Deepak

    Is Science the only ultimate truth? Why can’t astronomy and astrology co exist? What can’t big bang and creationsim co exist? Why do we discard that two things seemingly different cannot exists together? Yes, the universe got created the way scientist have figured it out. What’s wrong if god has added a little bit of destiny to our lives? Lets have the best of both worlds.

  146. Todd W.

    @Deepak

    We’re talking about what should be taught in a science classroom, not what should be taught at all or even what should or shouldn’t be believed.

    Astronomy – science
    Astrology – not science
    Big Bang – science
    Creationism – not science

    The ones that are science should be taught in a science class. The ones that are not science should not be taught in a science class, except as examples of what is not science. They can be taught in humanities or philosophy, but not in science.

    As far as personal beliefs go, outside the classroom, that’s totally a personal decision. So, your comment really doesn’t bear on the discussion at hand.

  147. tacitus

    Well, lots of things, like astrology and creationism, that are pure bunk exist, Deepak. But surely you don’t advocate teaching them in school do you?

  148. Cheyenne

    @ Tacitus-
    Yes, we should debate all sides. It’s very entertaining to me to see Phil smack down the moon hoax crowd by using clear science and facts. Same with the 6000 year old universe and Astrology. He’s debating people who are wrong.

    We’re all talking about this topic right now, and we know what the arguments are about- the only way we can do this is because we learned it from somewhere! So school kids shouldn’t be taught what Creationism is (again, just briefly- what it states, what its tenants are, etc) even though a majority of people around the world believe in it?

    I get the “slippery slope” argument to a point. But Creationism (again, wrong! Fail!) has certainly passed the threshold in terms making the cut as a brief lecture or two in the classroom.

    And about Todd’s comment that it should be taught in humanities or philosophy- most kids don’t take those classes at the early grade school level, and the topics of Evolution and Creationism are two theories that directly contradict each other. So it seems to me it would make sense to teach them in the same class.

    Yikes I sound like a Creationist here. Look, there is nothing wrong with providing people an abundance of information, Evolution is correct, and it’s science – so that should get 99.9% of the time in a science classroom. But there is nothing wrong with teaching a theory, briefly, that a majority of people in this country subscribe to.

    Give everybody the info they need and let them decide for themselves (and then duke it out with their friends if they want to). It’s important to understand why people think the way they do and have the beliefs they have. I think Communism and Nazism are pretty sick, but I wanted to learn about them because they were influential forces for a long time.

    I really don’t get the fear of learning about a topic provided it’s taught in an appropriate way (not saying you have fear, but the people on the far sides of both ends clearly do).

  149. Calli Arcale

    I’m not sure I like Palin’s emphasis on local school districts having ultimate control — and I expect the Republican Party won’t either since it flies in the face of No Child Left Behind. On the one hand, I don’t like NCLB — great idea, poor execution which expects a statistical impossibility by 2014 — but on the other hand, I do think there need to be common standards. Experience has shown that if local school districts get to make it all up as they go along, many schools will fall seriously behind others, which kinda defeats the point of public education (allowing the masses an equal opportunity to get a decent education and better themselves). Obviously there needs to be a balance, but Palin seemed to be espousing a laissez-faire approach that leaves me uneasy. If nothing else, there needs to be accountability for federal funding.

    Getting back to the science/not science thing, Todd’s dead on in his response to Deepak. Others said it too, and it’s correct. Astrology is not science. Creationism is not science. They have no place in science class. That does not mean they need be surpressed, nor is it evidence of vast conspiracy to brainwash everybody into some weird atheistic philosophy where people worship ivory tower academics. It just means they’re off-topic in science class. Really, I think the Creationists and seriously need to get a grip and realize that they are not being oppressed just because science teachers want to teach science in science class.

    Of course, the next step for them will probably be to push for some kind of “science opt-out”. Many schools already allow parents to opt their children out of sex ed that goes beyond “our changing bodies” and “good boys and girls don’t have sex”. It’d be a shame for them to start opting kids out of science class. OTOH, many of them already do; there are private schools that will indulge one’s religious sensibilities, and of course homeschooling is the ultimate option for a parent who wants to extensively customize their child’s education. (I have nothing against homeschooling per se; just pointing out it is an option often exercised by people wishing to avoid scientific thinking out of a misguided belief that it’s evil.)

  150. Deepak

    Dear Todd/Tacitus, its hard to understand as to why there is so much angst against teaching creationism in school. People have been taught (if not school but at home, society gathering, temples etc.) all through their lives that Astrology is complete science and that God has created the universe and that every move of ours is already pre-determined by God. But that hasn’t turned people against science or driven them into caves.

    Astrology is taught as a full time degree course. And there are tons of people who take and clear it. And all of them are as normal as anybody and have a keen interest in what the science is saying too. Subjects at school has nothing to do with what one finally end up believing in.

    The best of the doctors will assure the relatives of the patients to trust in god and that the operation will be a great success. The best of the scientist would say that its due to gods grace that they were able to send the rockets to the moon.

  151. Greg in Austin

    @Cheyenne,

    “But there is nothing wrong with teaching a theory, briefly, that a majority of people in this country subscribe to.”

    With all due respect, that is exactly what the pro-science advocates are trying to educate people about. Religious beliefs are not the same as science, and should not be taught in a science classroom. Just like we don’t teach about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, or a flat-earth in 7th grade science classes, neither should we teach about the book of Genesis.

    @Deepak,

    “Astrology is taught as a full time degree course. And there are tons of people who take and clear it.”

    Name one university that teaches Astrology as a science degree? I mean a Bachelor’s or Master’s of Science? Name one.

  152. Greg in Austin

    Oops, pressed ‘submit’ too soon…

    “The best of the doctors will assure the relatives of the patients to trust in god and that the operation will be a great success. The best of the scientist would say that its due to gods grace that they were able to send the rockets to the moon.”

    Baloney. I would say by the skills, talents, and educations of the thousands of hard working humans (engineers, mechanics, mathematicians, physicists, etc.) that we were able to to send rockets and humans to the moon, and bring all of them back safely.

    And if my doctor said my operation was in God’s hands, I’d ask for another doctor. One that I could trust to have the skills and education to perform the operation, and could use his own hands.

    8)

  153. Mrs.Schaarschmidt

    For me, science education boils down to this: my children need to learn two things in science class. 1) Fundamentals about the physical world (specific to the science class they are taking) and 2) the scientific method.

    Learning the scientific method teaches us how to evaluate information. It teaches us how to go from a vague guess as to how things might work to a hypothesis, to testing and vetting, to a theory. It teaches about predictions and verifications.

    The reason this is important – even to someone who goes on to a career that has nothing to do with science – is that it teaches us how to tell real information from fantasy. Our kids are growing up in a world where they can go to their computer and pull up websites that all look equally valid no matter what information (legitimate or garbage) is presented.

    Learning how to evaluate information logically is the only thing that will keep us (and our children) from accepting just any junk that is put in front of us. Remember – this information informs us about everything from our “personal beliefs” to medical decisions, financial decisions, and how to raise our children. This is NOT something to be taken lightly.

    Science education needs to be about science. Not about letting kids “choose what to believe”.

  154. Todd W.
  155. Mrs.Schaarschmidt

    Todd:

    Forgive my ignorance. What’s a Poe?

  156. Todd W.

    @Mrs.Schaarschmidt

    Sorry, not directed at you, but referring to Deepak’s comments. I may be using it wrong, but if I understand right, it’s when someone posts a parody of a fundamentalist or similar argument, but that it is so convincingly like something that someone from that camp might say, that, lacking any indication that it is parody, it is taken as being real, rather than parody.

  157. Mrs.Schaarschmidt

    Todd:

    I’ve seen that phrase around and not known what to make of it. Thanks for the info.

  158. tacitus

    Cheyenne — “in schools” is the important qualifier. I have no problems with kids debating anything in their own time, but I don’t want schools giving over time in science class to allow children to debate whether or not creationism is science. It is simply a waste of valuable teaching time which is scarce enough for the sciences these days, and only lends credence claims that creationism somehow merits inclusion into the debate in the first place. No astronomy teacher would allow astrology such a privilege, and nor should creationism. You cannot seriously suggest that things like “evidence” of fossils being laid down in a global flood 4,500 years ago should be open to debate in science class?

    Perhaps if the debate is restricted to why creationism is *not* science that would be okay, but that is patently not what Palin means when she wants “all sides” to be debated.

  159. tacitus

    Yeah, methinks Deepak is just having some fun at our expense. Either that or he’s ended up in the wrong place entirely.

  160. Todd W.

    @Mrs.Schaarschmidt

    Google “Poe’s Law” for more info on it.

  161. Daffy

    Shane,

    I am pointing out the extent to which partisans will go to excuse things in their candidate that they condemn in the opposition. Thank you for proving my point.

  162. Purvin

    You have to keep in mind that Deepak is probably from India, where the lines between religion and science blur closer together than it does in the US.

  163. kuhnigget

    @ Greg in Austin –

    Several years back, here in Los Angeles, a team of doctors completed a risky but ultimately successful operation that separated two conjoined twins, keeping both of them alive. It was a big story in all the local media, including the notoriously bad local television news programs.

    A representative from one of those TV news programs was at the press conference at which the lead surgeon, a very tired man, gave an overview of the procedure. After he finished, the surgeon took questions. The “journalist” blurted out, in all sincerity, “Was this a miracle?!

    The doctor didn’t bat an eye, but with a very obvious look of pity, stated simply words to the affect of, “No, it was a team of very smart, well-trained, highly-skilled doctors doing their jobs.”

    It was one of those rare moments in which I actually had hope for humanity.

  164. kuhnigget

    Oh, I forgot to add: later that night on the local news broadcast, the “journalist” introduced the story with a headline touting the “miraculous” event at the hospital.

    Sighhh.

  165. Cheyenne

    Tacitus- Um, I didn’t “suggest” the flood thing that you are thinking of.

    Do you know what Creationism means? What their objections to Evolution are (and again, they are completely wrong, so please don’t brand me as a Creationist)?

    If you do, you must have learned it somewhere. I learned it in my 6th grade biology class over 2 quick 45 minute classes. If you want to debate somebody you have to know where they are coming from and what they are talking about.

    I think this is very important b/c there are legions of school kids who are being taught Creationism in their homes and churches and then not talking about it in biology class. It leaves them conflicted- or in many cases turned off. We say it isn’t science b/c it clearly isn’t, but let’s face it, the majority of this country believes in it, so I think it’s pretty important that people are educated about it from a qualified teacher in the right way.

    And I really don’t know what Palin means exactly and nor could I care. The VP has as much to do with developing the science curriculum in a local school as the local Wal-Mart manager does.

  166. Greg in Austin

    @Cheyenne,

    If you learned about Creationism in your Biology class, that was a hour and a half that could have been spent teaching you real science. Your Biology teacher should have said, “Creationism is religion, not science, and we won’t discuss it here.” That would have taken about 30 seconds.

    The Creationism we are talking about here is the Christian belief that the earth and the universe were literally created in 6 days, and that by counting up all the years of the Old Testament, the earth is found to be 6,000 years old. The great flood is one of many stories of the Bible creationists try to use to (incorrectly) explain geological evidence such as fossils.

    No matter how you/we learn of creationism, it is strictly a religious belief, and cannot be taught in a public school’s science class. The fact that parents are teaching their children these beliefs at home and at church is indeed part of the problem, but that is another matter. Parents have the right to teach their children whatever mystical fantasies they wish, but they cannot teach them to MY children, using MY tax dollars.

    8)

  167. Jose

    @bob the skeptical christian

    honestly, i still don’t see why her personal beliefs matter as a question of possible policy. she may believe that creationism and science should both be taught. that doesn’t mean that she would try to push that policy through – the automatic assumption that she would is unfair.

    I don’t think that people are making the automatic assumption. They’re coming to that conclusion based on what’s she said, and the way she’s sidestepped answering the question. That’s not unfair.

    the question could be turned around – if an atheist were elected president, do you think that he/she would immediately try to eliminate religion in this country? try to limit the rights of christians? try to eradicate mentions of god? i would not assume that, and would chastise any christian who tried to make that claim.

    Your premise is a bit off. Imagine if I was running for president and someone asked me if I planned to try and eliminate religion from this country. But instead of saying “no”, I said something like “I understand that Religion has a long history in our country and that many of it’s greatest citizens, like the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., were religious”.

    Are you telling me that wouldn’t raise a red flag? That’s the type of response Palin has given.

    also, bear in mind that it is much easier for obama to come out against creationism/id – why? because the people who SUPPORT creationism/id are not going to vote for him! he loses nothing politically by being firm on that issue.

    Well, you could say that creationists are going to vote for Palin anyway, so why doesn’t she just come out and say what she believes? She might gain some votes from moderate republicans. I’m not trying to say this would happen. My point is that you use this type of logic to support whatever side of the argument you’re on.

    other issues that ARE important to the more extreme base of HIS party he skirts around. ALL politicians do this.

    For example?

    there are plenty of reasons to not want palin elected. and if you said “i don’t want to vote for her because she holds creationist views”, or even “i don’t want to vote for her because she believes in god”, then absolutely cast your vote elsewhere. but to use a few quotes mined from interviews to monger fear that palin will be forcing bibles into every science classroom is disingenuous, at best.

    It’s her own fault, and she could easily put a stop to it. And it’s not quote mining. We’re talking about the only public statements she’s made in the issue, several of which were raised by Palin supporters to prove that that she is against teaching creationist in science class. If there are some we’re missing, by all means point them out. She’s the one that keeps making the Slick Willie statements, and it’s not disingenuous of us to point that out.

  168. Darth Robo

    >>>”I think this is very important b/c there are legions of school kids who are being taught Creationism in their homes and churches and then not talking about it in biology class. It leaves them conflicted- or in many cases turned off. We say it isn’t science b/c it clearly isn’t, but let’s face it, the majority of this country believes in it, so I think it’s pretty important that people are educated about it from a qualified teacher in the right way.”

    Cheyenne, I seriously doubt that the majority of the country believes in it. Just because people are religious, does not automatically make them creationists.

    Kids may be taught creationism in their homes and churches, that’s the right of the parents. But the reason they won’t learn about it in biology class is because it’s not biology. They aren’t gonna learn about it in maths classes because it’s not maths. Some kids may be conflicted, but if the parents are devoutly religious, there is very little that can be done in that area. The best that teachers can do is teach the best they can whatever subject they are there to teach. One COULD spend an entire lesson on creationism, debunk it, show why it isn’t science and turn it into a valuable lesson in learning what the scientific method is and how it works. But to the kids who are home-schooled in fundamentalist creationism, they will STILL feel conflicted. There is no way to avoid that. Hopefully, if the teacher has done their job well and the student is smart enough, they can still (if they choose) hold their religious beliefs and recognise that not all scripture may be intended to be taken literally, and accept science for what it is: the best tool we have to help figure out the world we live in.

  169. Justin Olson

    @Bryan who said:

    To others: you see “endogenous retro-viral insertions at the same exact place in your DNA as a chimpanzee”, and think “Oh, we must have common ancestors.” Probably because you’ve heard it since you were little kids in school. But I see two very similar physical structures, and it makes sense that the building blocks of life for both should be very similar. We build apartment buildings and houses with wood and drywall and nails, why would a creator use different building blocks for no reason?

    “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. ”
    -Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride

    Didn’t you think to look up “Endogenous retrovirus” on Wikipedia or Google it? Anyway, this is going to have to read very condescending by necessity, so here goes:


    1. There are these things called retroviruses (HIV is one example).
    2. These retroviruses can infect humans (and other mammals).
    3. Retroviruses can infect germ cells (the cells that make eggs and sperm).
    4. Retroviruses can turn their RNA into DNA and thereby enter the host’s genome.
    5. This happens at a completely random spot in the host’s DNA.
    6. These changes in the DNA are passed on to the next generation via sexual recombination.
    7. To find these ERVs in two separate species at the same spot in the genome is direct evidence of common ancestry.

    So you see, these ERV matches cannot rationally be attributed to design. To do so would be to argue that the designer intentionally infected each of these organisms and miraculously directed the viruses to insert their DNA at the same exact location in the genome so that when humans developed the ability to check for these similarities, they would be deceived into thinking that common ancestry was the answer. What would be the point of this?

    Would this be a god worthy of your worship? A deceptive designer? An impish trickster god?

    The fact of the matter is that there are several kinds of ERVs (around 40 in three seperate classes that can infect humans and other primates), and they can insert themselves at completely random locations. Humans and chimps have thousands of such ERVs in common — the same type of ERV at the same exact location in the genome.

    Evolution makes a testable prediction — that species who share a common ancestor should share a specific pattern of genetic alterations in the same part of the genome. Evolution passes the test once again. Knowledge is fun!

  170. Todd W.

    @Cheyenne

    How do you feel about this: the topic of creationism or intelligent design should not be part of the science curriculum and the science teacher should not bring it up. However, if a student broaches the subject, the science teacher can discuss why creationism is not science and why it will not be covered in the class, without going into great detail about all the various ways creationism, as a proposed scientific approach, is wrong.

    I agree that a good teacher can handle the topic well and provide valuable lessons using it to show how it’s not scientific and how its claims can be and have been tested. However, when it comes elementary/middle/high school education, I am not confident that there are enough good teachers out there. Furthermore, I relly don’t trust school boards to handle the issue responsibly insofar as including it in the science curriculum. Just take a look at Dover, PA and Kansas for two examples of how it can go wrong.

  171. Robin T

    Phil,
    Nice post title, it made me laugh. Cheers.

  172. James

    I wouldn’t be surprised if she does believe this, but I would need a better source. This is some guy who obviously doesn’t like her (neither do I) saying they had the conversation years ago. A direct quote would be sufficient, but no one will ask the question because questioning faith is so taboo.

  173. Aodhhan

    Jose,
    Obviously she hasn’t dodged the question since she’s answered it.
    Obama can do what? You just make that statement to make the statement? …really though, don’t bother answering. Since you haven’t come up with anything other than untrue rhetoric.

    It’s obvious you are ‘pinned’ into your one sided thoughts, and I know you can’t change the mind of someone who only sees in front of smoke. I bet you enjoy magic shows.

  174. Greg in Austin

    @Aodhhan,

    When did Palin say she did NOT support teaching Creationism, or “teaching the controversy” in schools?

    Obama has said clearly that he believes in, and supports teaching evolution only, not creationism, in schools.
    McCain has said that he believes in evolution and God, but that only evolution should be taught in schools.
    Palin has said very clearly that evolution IS taught in schools, but she has been completely unclear as to what HER OPINION of the matter is.
    I do not know what Biden’s stand is on this.

    8)

  175. Ken

    Palin came from a community in which a form of faith that includes Creationism was significant factor in the population–her constituents.

    Naturally she’s espoused that view for the votes (and the early records on that position come from her political [not theological] presentations made to church groups in the church). Pandering, and pretty blatant pandering if you’ve seen those videos.

    Now having made that position, she’s kinda stuck with it; changing her position would be “flip-flopping” which would be bad for votes (for her/her party). And some of her remarks suggest she’s trying to backpeddle on this particular point.

    How much she CARES about the subject is probably directly associated with a given constituency more than anything else, but is an indicator regarding how much she would be an advocate. The evidence suggests she doesn’t much care about this.

    And what she’ll DO relative to that subject is what counts. Based on her record thus far having sat in a positon of executive power for some years (something Obama cannot match) where she have executive control & did a number of things is that this was NOT a factor and had ZERO influence on ANY policy or other decision she made or endorsed that affected any of her constituents.

    As the saying goes, the “proof of the pudding is in the eating and not in the marketing.” The only thing clear is that she’s clearly a politician, and a pretty good one at that. What she has said in the past is exactly what one would expect a politician to say in those circumstances. What her faith really is, or if it is at all, is anybody’s guess.

    The number of decisions she could influence or impose (as either Vice President or President), for the vast majority of actions requires a Congressionally-submitted law for her to sign. Which is to say her biggest “threat” would be veto-power — which Congress can overrule. If they can’t overrule a veto, then HER views were not the issue at all (i.e. were IRRELEVENT).

    Someone above pointed out some whacko end-of-times remark by a Reagan appointee that supported anti-environmental land-raping (I’m paraphrasing the other remark & guessing it applied to James Watt, Reagan’s Secretary of the Interior, a religious eccentric if ever there was). Today, environmental regulations in the US are orders of magnitude more stringent than under Reagan. Which illustrates how little a president’s power to appoint really ultimately matters under a representative government with hundreds of elected hired help in Congress, not to mention independent States & the judiciary at the State & Federal levels. The US Government & economy (and government budget) is so big & ponderous with so many government offices (bureaucracies) that making any substantive changes in four or eight years, let alone making them stick, is very very difficult by design as it was assumed that some nut or megalomaniac would get to a position of power. Those “checks & balances” make the most powerful position in the Land, the office of the President (and/or V.President), in reality a lot less powerful than its advertised & perceived to be.

    And, back to the subject, as Palin correctly pointed out, Creationism being or not being taught in schools is NOT DETERMINED BY THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH OF THE US GOVERNMENT. Its a local matter.

  176. RQ

    This is a woman who wanted Alaska to secede from the United States; who believes that the “end of days” is coming soon, and might even think that the sooner they arrive, the better, so why not hasten them? who believes that humans and dinosaurs co-existed; who doesn’t believe in “choice,” but assures us that her own preggers daughter “chose” to have her baby; who claims, despite copious proof, that she didn’t want the Bridge to Nowhere,” even though she did, and who never reminds anyone that when she did read the writing on the wall, kept the money anyway. This is one dangerous dumbass. With McCain hiding his medical records (what’s there we shouldn’t see, John?) she could end up President of the United States, this woman who has already lobbed threats at Iran and Russia.

    BTW, I’ve been to Wasilla…you can NOT see Russia from there. It can be seen from Little Diomede Island, the western-most isle in the Aleutian archipelago, but even though it’s Alaska, she’s never been there.

  177. Joran

    Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post has an article up on Palin’s childhood in Alaska. It’s really fascinating stuff, especially with her father and her mother. Her father is a science teacher; particularly a biology teacher.

    He would stop his children on a footpath and point to fossils etched in rocks. “How old do you think those are?” he would ask.

    Her mother on the other hand was a very devout Christian. So, Sarah Palin was definitely exposed to both sides of the argument.

  178. Deepak

    Dear Purvin, you got it right. Being from India, the difference between religion and science blurs out. We think that god has given us the ability to study science and understand the mysteries of the universe. Hope we would not be trashed as creationist for believing that.

  179. @Deepak,

    What we are talking about here is religion suppressing science in public schools. Our Constitution prohibits the government from forcing any one religion on the people, hence the discussion.

    8)

  180. Greg in Austin

    Also Deepak, you didn’t answer my question earlier regarding Astrology as a degree program. Surely you’re not confusing Astrology with Astronomy?

    8)

  181. King Anub

    Religion is a joke. Research illuminati, nibiru, Federal Reserve. Research for yourself dont let other people tell you what to believe. Revolution is coming in 2012!!!

  182. Jose

    @Aodhhan

    I like you’re strategy!

    Step 1 – Lie,
    Step 2 – Play Dumb
    Step 3 – Insult.

    Here’s the lie – “Obviously she hasn’t dodged the question since she’s answered it.” – No she hasn’t. As I and others have detailed several times above, she’s made carefully worded statements to avoid answering. Just because someone speaks after they’ve been asked a question does not mean they’ve answered it.

    Here’s playing dumb – “Obama can do what? You just make that statement to make the statement?” – Obama has clearly stated his position on the teaching of creationism in the classroom, when he’s been asked.

    Here’s the insult – ”It’s obvious you are ‘pinned’ into your one sided thoughts, and I know you can’t change the mind of someone who only sees in front of smoke. I bet you enjoy magic shows.” – Does anyone know how to type a rim shot? If there was ever a place for one, that was it! Don’t tell anyone, but I just peed my pants.

    I do have to commend you for not trying to change the subject for once. I know that was difficult for you.

  183. PP said wa-aay back on September 30th, 2008 at 4:54 pm :

    “Daniel said: “what is wrong with the possibility that a God (no, not little green men…a Divinity) used evolution and science to get humans to where we are? the truth might lie in the middle.”

    There’s not wrong with it per se, but it is not testable and not scientific – such an idea would not belong in a science class but in a church (or religious education).

    Sounds like the Monolith’s work in Arthur C. Clarke’s ‘Space Odyssey 2001′ & sequels to me. ;-)

  184. (Continuing from above]

    That is good fiction & a good movie adaption by Kubrick too.

    In reality? Well we don’t know but Ockham’s razor suggests without extraordinary evidence otherwise we go with the simpler option ie. evolution wasn’t directed by Monoliths / gods unless we dig up some serious indications they did exist and interfere with our development.

    Of course the difference is that while we could be test the monoliths theory by, say, searching for monoliths at :

    1) Tycho Crater (was there any anomaly there btw? Think itwas Tycho TMA-1 right?)

    2) Japethus / Iapetus (Older spelling used in the book – same Saturnian moon where the novel’s stargate was placed.)

    &

    3) The African Rift Valley – oddly theleast likely monolith tobe found given the odds of erosian, burial, destruction genreallyarefar greateron ourt mkore dynamic planet than the, largely, unchaganing off-Erath locales.)

    But finding evidnece of something supernatural, invisible and reluctant to show itself, deliberately moving in “mysterious ways” and rejecting testable appearances (to test us? To winnow out faithful from faithless, from sheer non-existence?) like “God” is quite alot harder if not utterly impossible to do scientifically.

    I think we should offer Creationists a deal : For every hour they want totalk Creationism /ID inscienceclass ascientist or atheist should be given an equal amountof time tolecture on science /evlution /atheism in their Church or synagogue or whatever … Wonder if they’d take that deal on the same “teach both sides” principle … ;-)

  185. Paul

    There is not millions of years of evidence that intelligence is a “successful” evolutionary trait either.

    And one should never underestimate the capability of stupid people in large groups. Citing history, in nearly every major violent social upheaval, the rich and the intelligent are ususally the first to get whacked.

    Politicians are trying to win a popularity contest, if ignorant belief is popular, guess what will happen. Sadly our leaders are not selected baased on a test of their knowledge. And, just as regretably, many of the people who vote left their reasoning skills with their elementary school teachers.

  186. In the remote chance that anyone, esp. Shane is still reading this and still curious about this question :

    shane said ages and ages ago and far up thread on September 30th, 2008 at 10:16 pm :

    “… [Snip!] … There was a SF story I read years ago where the idea was that the science of demographics and polling had got so precise that the election would come down to one elector/person chosen by a computer. Sorry I can’t remember who wrote it or what the story was called.”

    May be wrong but I feel pretty sure that would be a short story by Isaac Asimov called ‘Franchise’ which was first written in 1954 and has been published a number of times since in several different anthologies incl. ‘The Best Science Fiction of Isaac Asimov’ (Grafton Books, 1988 – with ‘Franchise’ running from page 123 to 138 in my copy.)

    The hero of the story – selected by the recurring character of the super AI computer ‘Multivac’ is Norman Muller (a “normal” bloke who mulls it over! Wordplay I think deliberate. ;-) ) and his family.

    Strangely, or aptly, or just co-incidentally or quite cleverly; the Election date Asimov selects for this story was – & I quote from page 133 – Tuesday November 4th 2008!

    Now I’m an Aussie not an ‘American’ of the “United States of” variety (or Yanks as we playfully call you! ;-) ) so I’m not sure but that must be awfully close to the actual correct date yes? ;-)

    Ah, if only there was a Multivac … Or better yet Asimov’s alternative ‘Council of Science” (‘Lucky Starr’ series) running things! Hmm .. ;-)

  187. Rev. I.P. Freeley

    Luke 10:21 — In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.

  188. StevoR, I thought it might have been a more recent story and writer than Asimov but you’re probably right. It does sound Asmovian the way you describe it. BTW, Asimov would get the day right. Those Yanks do have their elections on a predictable schedule. I love golden age Clarke and Asimov by the way.

    Rev: “and hast revealed them unto babes”
    Why do Paris and Elle et al deserve special revelation?

  189. StevoR, forgot to say thanks. How ignorant of me. So, thanks.

  190. Al

    This is what’s in a scientific magazine? Slanted attacks on harmless simpletons who believe something we don’t? As a scientist, I’m aware we the people of the science community are compelled to be OBJECTIVE, and look at results. Not “right or wrong” issues. Not get emotions or personal views confused with issues.

    I’ve always been under the impression that Science and Religion BOTH come from the exact same source: our BRAINS. Since there are limitless connections made within each of those nut-like neural configurations, there are limitless conclusions to be drawn. The ones that do the best explaining of environmental phenomena, according to each brain, are the connections that stick around.

    So we see by this, Science and Religion are actually one in the same: what we have here are two sometimes conflicting faiths. Both do their part in explaining worldly phenomena. Both do their part in describing what we as humans, as individuals, as society, should do. What we should be concerned about, as Scientists, forever and anon, is RESULTS. And the CAUSE of said results. Isn’t that what started Copernicus and Galileo on their journeys? Shouldn’t we be so speculative?

  191. Al

    By the way, I think Deepak is right: India HAS let BOTH Science and God explain the world. For example, the exact science which is Yoga (yes, Yoga) does a lot of explaining how the human body works, and how its lifespan can be lengthened and its existence enjoyed. I think there is a lot to be said for a faith and practice (Yoga) that, for millenia, has provided evidence, RESULTS, that are cohesive with its claims: Yoga extends life.

    Just something to think about. Life-long yogis live to be 80-90, and some for longer. Life-long scientists? Well, our national average chemical-dependent scientific life-expectancy is what? 73? Yogis have us beat by 20 years.

    There’s a result to think about.

  192. Darth Robo

    >>>”Slanted attacks on harmless simpletons who believe something we don’t?”

    Al, you call deliberately using political pressure to dumb down science education in public schools in favour of religious apologetics, and thereby violating the First Amendment, harmless?

    Just checkin’…

  193. Rev. I. P. Freeley

    1 Corinthians 14:34-36
    Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.

  194. I really hope that this article is actually an editorial.. becaus the reprtes opinons and beliefs are not supposed to be reported.. the FACTS of the article are.

    the fact is that you hae NO proof either way.. other than what you have been told (and have accepted as truth) by those you believe to be right.

    Not only that.. but from what i see your also tryignto create “spin” on the political occurrences in the united states of america.

    that is not good reporting.

    It is not up to you, as a reporter, to question the validity of the facts or information you are presenting..
    and so..
    this is indeed one of the worst articles i have ever had the mispleasure of wasting my time on.

    Be advised that this is the last article from your magazine i will ever read.. you have lost a customer, and have made ME lose faith (thats right i said faith) in what i THOUGHT was a somewhat reliable magazine.

  195. Delta

    I think the best interpretation of what should be taught in a science class I’ve seen out there is posted on http://www.venganza.org/. I won’t ruin it for anybody, but it addresses a lot of the points brought forth in this thread.
    For the record, I enjoy my religion (I won’t say which one), but lean more to the evolution side. To me, religion, whatever denomination you practice, is more of a community, a method to help guide you through a decision making process and acts as a moral compass that so many people are lacking these days. When the brainwashed cultists come knocking on my door, I simply tell them that I’d prefer someone belong to any religion that makes them behave a little bit better than the all or nothing system that they suggest is correct.

  196. Jose

    @Al
    This is what’s in a scientific magazine? Slanted attacks on harmless simpletons who believe something we don’t?

    They’re not harmless. They’re not simpletons (how condescending of you). And the post is about whether or not non-science should be taught science class.

    As a scientist, I’m aware we the people of the science community are compelled to be OBJECTIVE, and look at results. Not “right or wrong” issues.

    Sometimes those results tell us something. Say I do an experiment where I pour salt on snails to find out what happens. My results show that they turn to goo. If someone else insists that when you pour salt on snails they grow to man sized and start talking, then I’m right, and they’re wrong.

    I’ve always been under the impression that Science and Religion BOTH come from the exact same source: our BRAINS

    Using this line of reasoning, you could argue that any two things are exactly the same. Heavy Metal and Classical Music are the same. Satanists and Bible thumpers are the same. Spinach and the crusades are the same. Just because we know about things because we think of them with our brains does not make them the same.

    Since there are limitless connections made within each of those nut-like neural configurations, there are limitless conclusions to be drawn.

    That might be true, but there are a limited number of reasonable, evidence based conclusions that we can draw. Creationism is not among them.

  197. Al

    @jose

    Interesting choice, heavy metal and classical…. According to a recent scientific study, people with musical favorites of Heavy Metal and Classical actually DID test similarly on a number of personal attribute questions: they enjoy a sense of the grandiose in life and entertainment…. It was big news a few weeks ago – I think early September.

    And you’re right. Any two things ARE the same. It is our perception of those things which cause us to discriminate, either eliminating them from our consciousness involving our next steps, or acting on their incoming information. Our subconscious delivers our root impressions of said information (which is, of course, set up by previous conscious decisions…). Our current conscious decisions either keep them “in frame” or not. We consciously process, what, UP TO 1 to 2 percent of our environment at any one moment (which science says the smallest fraction of “time” is 10^-37 of a second)? That which we don’t process is as dross, filler, not important, and we count it all as equal: that which does NOT impact us. Our consciousness moves forward on the small amount which does affect us. Therefore seemingly different things have the same result MOST of the time: no impact on us.

    And anyways, Heavy Metal and Classical music are the same: they both use a series of cacophanous rhythms, discord, harmony, melody, etc. which give some pleasure, some not. They are interpreted by most as music, what differs is merely PERSONAL taste. Where does that come from? Each. Individual. Brain.

    I am right, too. :0)

    Subjectivity is precisely what we are describing. Relativity. Einstein… ever hear of him? or his successors, all who study and devote their time in Quantum Physics? CERN? ring any bells? Or flutes, si vu preferez? “whatever floats your boat….”

    And why do you think I was talking about closed minded people in power as creationists? (which, I take it, you mean “literal 6 day Genesis history” people) There are quite the same number, if not more now, closed-minded evolutionists in power, too. Neither power camp are harmless. Both act on the demise of the other.

    But then, you seem to devote a lot of passion on this website…. a lot of good this does anyone, huh?

  198. Greg in Austin

    Al said,

    “I’ve always been under the impression that Science and Religion BOTH come from the exact same source: our BRAINS.”

    Your impression is wrong. Science is a method by which we explain reality, in a way that can be tested and verified. The end result is that thru science, we discover that reality exists whether you (or your brain) are there to see it or not.

    Religion is not the same.

    8)

  199. Greg in Austin

    John said,

    “It is not up to you, as a reporter, to question the validity of the facts or information you are presenting..”

    To whom are you speaking? This is a blog, and Phil is not a reporter.

    8)

  200. nogolfer

    Hollywood should do a remake of the movie “Idiocracy”. She’d be perfect. Repeat after me, Sarah: “Brawndo’s got electrolytes….”

  201. Jose

    @Al
    I am right, too. :0)

    I fully understand your argument. I just think it’s an impractical, overly simplistic, philosophical argument that makes anything anyone might ever think or say meaningless.

    Subjectivity is precisely what we are describing. Relativity. Einstein… ever hear of him? or his successors, all who study and devote their time in Quantum Physics? CERN? ring any bells? Or flutes, si vu preferez? “whatever floats your boat….”

    And I’m saying that some things you’re saying are subjective aren’t. There are absolute truths in the world that that have nothing to do with how people might interpret things. If I decide to stop eating because I don’t think it’s necessary, I’m not right. I’m just an idiot who’s going to starve to death.

    And why do you think I was talking about closed minded people in power as creationists?
    I don’t know. Could it be because you began by scolding people who are speaking out against teaching creationism in science class? Nah.

    There are quite the same number, if not more now, closed-minded evolutionists in power, too. Neither power camp are harmless. Both act on the demise of the other.

    On one hand, we have a group that believes what they do because they read it in the bible. If evidence contradicts what the bible says, they ignore or twist that evidence. They’ll never actually change their views though. On the other hand we have a group that believes what they do because if a logical interpretation of evidence, and who are willing to change that belief if that’s where the evidence leads them. Now, how exactly are evolutionists close minded? And as a reminder, you’re the one that used the offensive “harmless simpletons” phrase.

    But then, you seem to devote a lot of passion on this website…. a lot of good this does anyone, huh?
    Oh, please don’t turn to silly insults. I’ve tried so hard to keep from asking how a simpleton could understand what science is better than a real life “scientist”, but I may not be able to hold back anymore. See what you made me do? I didn’t want to put the word “scientist” in quotes, but you drove me to it.

  202. Darth Robo

    >>>”And why do you think I was talking about closed minded people in power as creationists? (which, I take it, you mean “literal 6 day Genesis history” people) There are quite the same number, if not more now, closed-minded evolutionists in power, too. Neither power camp are harmless. Both act on the demise of the other.”

    Dumbest thing I’ve ever read.

    (Well, today anyway – it ain’t over yet)

  203. Nigel Depledge

    OK, so I seem to be late to the party again, but what the hey…

    Al said:

    By the way, I think Deepak is right: India HAS let BOTH Science and God explain the world. For example, the exact science which is Yoga (yes, Yoga) does a lot of explaining how the human body works, and how its lifespan can be lengthened and its existence enjoyed. I think there is a lot to be said for a faith and practice (Yoga) that, for millenia, has provided evidence, RESULTS, that are cohesive with its claims: Yoga extends life.

    Just something to think about. Life-long yogis live to be 80-90, and some for longer. Life-long scientists? Well, our national average chemical-dependent scientific life-expectancy is what? 73? Yogis have us beat by 20 years.

    There’s a result to think about.

    Yes. Let’s think about this.

    First, IF yoga (note the lowercase initial there, Al, because “yoga” is not a proper noun, just an ordinary noun) is a science, then yogis are scientists. So your contrast between yogis and scientists as distinct is illogical.

    Second, there are no peer-reviewed journals about yoga, are there? It is true that yoga may feature in peer-reviewed journals about sports science, but that hardly qualifies yoga as a science in its own right. By what criteria do you classify yoga as a science? What are its principle methodologies? Where are the results published? And does it really expand huamn understanding of how stuff works?

    Third, the vast majority of people that have attended yoga classes experience a fitness class, not a systematic method of investigation (which is what would classify it as science to actual scientists).

    Fourth, from whence come your data about lifespans? Are these figures reliable? Do the figures indicate a true difference between yogis and scientists, or are there confounding factors for which you have not accounted?

    Fifth, the plural of “anecdote” is not “data”. No amount of anecdotal reporting can support a scientific conclusion. All it can do is spark a scientific investigation. Your “millenia” of “results” are irrelevant from a scientific viewpoint.

    Thus, your assertions are demonstrated to be no more than that – assertions. Your argument is illogical, your “data” appear to be unfounded, and your conclusion appears to be made up on the spot.

    In short, you are wrong. Even if your conclusion is right, you have no idea whether this is really true or not, and the method you used to get there not only fails to convince, it does the opposite. Your illogical argument drives reasoning people to disagree with you.

  204. Deb

    This has been a fascinating discourse. A large number of the responses focus on the role of president in selecting judges and signing laws, but otherwise suggest that it is a fairly powerless office. Four words: “No Child Left Behind”. That was Bush’s brainchild. We went to the moon because JFK set that goal for us.

    The executive branch concentrates 1/3 of our system of checks and balances in the hands of essentially one person, although that person obviously relies on assistance from many great minds, some of whom must be confirmed (one check/balance). The executive branch sets the priorities for government, submits bills to the houses of congress for their consideration, and works in many ways behind the scenes to build consensus for their legislative agenda. In the past 8 years, the executive branch has claimed and/or been granted powers heretofore unseen. More germaine to this conversation, the VP has been the most powerful VP in the history of our nation, and Gov. Palin (at the debate) fully supported the “flexibility” of the Constitution on that point.

    It matters very much that she would be a heartbeat away from the presidency, but it matters more that as VP she plans to take a very active role in reforming Washington and the nation.

  205. Let’s all hope the right person makes it into office this election.

  206. Ron H.

    Wow, I dont even know where to start. I heard this EXACT same argument from one of my co-workers and I could barely get my jaw off the ground when he told me that are “science” was not accurate in the least and he believed that dinosaurs and man walked the earth together 6’000 years ago. I wish I had read this article before that. I am a VERY religous person, however I feel the same way about religeon as I do about abortion. I would never (personally) abort a chile of mine, however I realize that my belief system is not everyone elses and that people should have the right to choose. I feel the exact same way about religeon. Any person should have the right to believe in anything they want, however, that person should not have the right to preach it to everyone else as fact. Religeon is based solely upon faith, and faith is belief in something you can not prove nor disprove, however science is always willing to look back on itself and say, “Hey, I think we got this part wrong…” Religeon very seldomly has that same ability. Because if you admit that something isn’t right in there dogma, then that means that they might not make it to whatever afterlife their belief system allows. I digress, nothing is wrong with freedom of belief and religeon, but flat out it has not place in school or anything funded by the state. PERIOD!!

  207. Mike K

    It looks like a couple people here are fanboys of science. How easily they forget that not too long ago, in terms of human history, it was “scientific fact” that the world was flat. It was also “scientific fact” that we lived in a geocentric solar system. Just because your “scientific fact” doesn’t match up perfectly with my view of religion doesn’t automatically mean I’m wrong and you’re right. You can find so many conflicting scientific studies that it isn’t even funny anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I like science, advanced technology especially is wonderful, but I’m not going to just throw away my religion at the drop of a hat because someone claims there is a scientific fact disproving it.
    On a side note, rather than debating about teaching ‘both’ sides of evolution, maybe the time would be better spent practicing our spelling and grammer so we don’t weaken our arguements by looking like 1st graders.

  208. Greg in Austin

    @Mike K,

    The great thing about science, is that the conclusions are based on evidence. When new evidence is found, the conclusions may change or they may remain the same. You are confusing this with belief.

    Humans “believed” the earth was flat, but the scientific process determined that it is not.
    Humans “believed” the earth was the center of the universe, but science proved that it is not.

    Your comments show that you are steadfast in your religion. If you choose to believe in something despite the evidence to the contrary, that is your right. But it is not scientific, and has no place in a science classroom.

    8)

    p.s. The correct spelling is “grammar.”

  209. K9 is always right

    shane Said ages ago (well back on October 5th, 2008 at 5:46 am tobe precise)

    “StevoR, I thought it might have been a more recent story and writer than Asimov but you’re probably right. It does sound Asmovian the way you describe it. BTW, Asimov would get the day right. Those Yanks do have their elections on a predictable schedule. I love golden age Clarke and Asimov by the way.

    Rev: “and hast revealed them unto babes”
    Why do Paris and Elle et al deserve special revelation?
    &
    shane Says:
    October 5th, 2008 at 5:50 am
    StevoR, forgot to say thanks. How ignorant of me. So, thanks.”

    No worries! ;-)

    I grew up on Asimov, Niven and Clarke – plus Stapledon, Wyndham, Brunner, Orson Scott Card etc .. Yes, I love my SF! Tragic ain’t it? ;-)

    (But hey, I’m happy. :-) )

  210. StevoR

    K9 is always right Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    October 16th, 2008 at 6:03 am
    shane Said ages ago (well back on October 5th, 2008 at 5:46 am tobe precise)

    “StevoR, I thought it might have been a more recent story and writer than Asimov but you’re probably right. It does sound Asmovian the way you describe it. BTW, Asimov would get the day right. Those Yanks do have their elections on a predictable schedule. I love golden age Clarke and Asimov by the way.

    Rev: “and hast revealed them unto babes”
    Why do Paris and Elle et al deserve special revelation?
    &
    shane Says:
    October 5th, 2008 at 5:50 am
    StevoR, forgot to say thanks. How ignorant of me. So, thanks.”

    No worries!

    I grew up on Asimov, Niven and Clarke – plus Stapledon, Wyndham, Brunner, Orson Scott Card etc .. Yes, I love my SF! Tragic ain’t it? ;-)

    (But hey, I’m happy. :-) )

    —–

    Damn hope this doesn’t go through twicxe -forgot tochange the moinker .. *Sigh*

  211. ghostskull

    i think that anyone who believes that scientology is a religion is a moron and if you dont believe in what is said in the bible then your a moron and deserve to burn…

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