Texas: teetering on the edge of DOOM

By Phil Plait | January 22, 2009 7:00 pm

Today, the Texas Board of Education held a debate on new standards for science in the public school system, and then had a preliminary vote. The Texas Freedom Network blogger was there, and liveblogged the whole thing. The results? Mixed, with some good stuff and some really, really bad stuff.

The Good: The creationists on the board failed to get a "strengths and weaknesses" statement in the standards. This phrase is creationist camouflage to insert doubt into evolution. It’s really just a bald-faced lie: they are trying to let creationist-leaning teachers say things about evolution that aren’t true, and create confusion in the minds of students. This failed to pass, so the phrase most likely won’t be in the standards. That’s a huge victory!

Let me note: one person who spoke out against putting the phrase in was a Republican, Bob Craig (see the 1:23 entry on the TFN blog).

The Bad: At the last moment, dyed-in-the-wool creationist — and head of the BOE — Don McLeroy was able to insert a statement into the standards calling into question common descent, the linchpin of evolution. McLeroy is among the worst of the worst when it comes to creationism; search this blog for quite a bit about his mucking about with science.

The Ugly: This is still not over. There will be another vote tomorrow, the formal one, and a final one in March to set the standards in place.

As long as creationists have some control on the board — and remember, McLeroy is the head of the BOE — then this will never be over. They will continue to totally deny reality and the totality of scientific research, and instead bully their way and their narrow religious views into the textbooks of Texas, and from there all of America.

Put the TFN blog in your feed reader so you can keep up with these shenanigans. Stay informed (the Dallas Morning News has been covering this as well). Because these people will not stop, ever, until…

Texas: doomed

Tip o’ the Ten Gallon Hat to James Herrod for the Dallas Morning News link.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Antiscience, Politics, Religion

Comments (163)

  1. *sigh* I think we need a bigger cat to pounce on these S.O.B.s. They not only need to get themselves DOOMED, but thuroughly squashed!

  2. Davidlpf

    I say we nuke the state then we would not have to worry about it dooming itself. :-)

  3. IVAN3MAN

    Great(!) Just when one felt it was safe to dose off in the armchair for 40 winks, I then go and find that Phil has posted that news above.

    *HAZ STIFF DRINK OF JACK DANIELS*

  4. Sillysighbean

    Is this yet another example of how the Universe is trying to kill us?

  5. Scott

    News story covering this and other recent developments on this topic.

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/2009-01-22-evolution-texas_N.htm

  6. IVAN3MAN

    Larian LeQuella:

    *sigh* I think we need a bigger cat to pounce on these S.O.B.s. They not only need to get themselves DOOMED, but thuroughly squashed!

    Er… I think that the “bigger cat” has already given up:

    Photobucket

  7. I was disheartened to read earlier today, that some 44% of Americans believe that the Earth was created 6-10,000 years ago… :(

    Even worse… not much better in Europe

  8. GaterNate

    Intelligent races may be like stars. Some live in quiet dignity for nearly the duration of spacetime itself, while others rapidly and rabidly consume themselves from the inside out until blowing up and slurping down a black hole. (I know, not entirely accurate. I’m being poetic.)

    I’m guessing we’re closer to the latter.

  9. Don Snow

    I think you folks are over reacting. I live in DFW, and am unhappy with some of the things on the curricula of public schools that my taxes pay for. But, I refuse to believe Texas is doomed because of those uneducational things in the curricula (political correctness about different social events, for the most part).

    I happen to believe that what some scientists call evolution is actually the methodology which explains how the Creator made everything, as described in Genesis. Genesis being allegorical, but the first creation account parallels biological development quite closely. Then, along comes some 19th century biologists, who plagarise God’s creation as evolution and kick God out of His Creation. Ya’ll got nothing to be proued of, and your religious intolerance’s a shame. Shame on you.

    In closing, most ordinary and the majority of poor people are so busy paying bills and putting food on the table, that how scientists think is low on the priority list. I’m sorry to say, but the theory of evolution is one more story of how things came to be. It’s been politicized in and out of academia, especailly Darwinism. There is no constant to evolution and descent of species sounds so woo-woo. With that mixed in, level headed people have difficulty granting credit to an otherwise valid theory. Get real, we elect politicians because science has no tolerance for ordinary people. God forbid science ever runs the world. Science is a tool, and when it’s vaunted to a position of more than a tool it becomes the problem, not the solution.

  10. bassmanpete

    Living in Australia I had to Google DFW to discover that it stands for Dallas Fort Worth. Having read Don Snow’s contribution to this debate I have to agree with you BA, Texas is DOOMED!!

  11. Don Snow

    Thank you, for honoring my freedom of speech and freedom of thought.

    The theory of evolution and $6.00 will get me a coffee and roll at Starbucks. The only way a person can make a living with the theory of evolution, is to teach it. With that in mind, the subsequent conflict of interest leaves the theory open to question. Which is good, because anything in science is open to question. It’s evolutionists resistance to questioning that irratates me.

  12. T_U_T

    The only way a person can make a living with the theory of evolution, is to teach it

    two words : Genetic algorithms

  13. Darth Robo

    Don Snow, how do you equate religious intolerance with teaching good science? Science, including evolution, makes NO COMMENT WHATSOEVER as to the existence of (a) God. The ones who are doing the attacking and politicising of science are religious fundamentalists who deny evolution not because of science, but based on their religious beliefs. Not only is that bad science, but also illegal, as religion is not allowed to be taught in public schools. Science classes are for science, and as such should be taught with the best information possible if we want students to be EDUCATED. Science IS a tool, yes, a rather useful one. But you seem to be quite happy to dumb it down just for the sake of not offending a few religious people. This goes against the point of what people (should) want: their students to be educated. But you prefer to lay the blame on scientists.

    I’m very sorry about your lack of knowledge in regards to evolution, but just because you or others don’t believe it does not make it untrue. Your religious beliefs are very nice and all, but they have nothing to do with science. This isn’t me being intolerant of your religion, it’s just common sense. Many religious people also accept science with no qualms, so from a scientific point of view this shouldn’t be a problem. Unfortunately there are those who DO have a problem, but aren’t interested in science. They never were.

    And while you think this is an “over-reaction”, don’t forget that creationists have attempted the very same thing in Oklahoma and Louisiana just recently. What’s worse in Texas, is that the textbooks are produced there, so if the language is changed in those, the textbooks for the whole country will be like this for the next ten years. And then of course there’s the little fact that these attacks on science are supported by religious organisations like the Discovery Institute.

    Fact: those pushing for the dumbed down language have no scientific basis. Fact: What they are doing is illegal, and should it go to court (like it did in Dover) the schools may pay the price.

  14. Don Snow

    Thank you, [b]T_U_T[/b], for a plain reply. Although my weakness is math, I can sort of understand you reply, and accept it.

    If [b]bassmanpete[/b]‘s reply had not smacked of inferred ad homen towards me, my reply to would not have been as testy.
    ,
    I also liked the style of [b]IVAN3MAN[/b]‘s proferred photograph in his post. smile

    [b]T_U_T[/b], I don’t discount evolution. My main complaint is the disrespect toward relgion. Science has no say about religion, neither for nor against, that’s out of science’s realm. As a matter of fact, both pagan and monotheistic religions were the cradles of both science and education, imho.
    At the risk of, but not desiring to, irratating you, I accept genetic algorithms as part and parcel of God’s creation. I am a believer, who scorns neither evolution nor science. I merely pointed out some issues germain to ordinary people.

  15. Darth Robo

    Don Snow, evolution is questioned every day be people doing actual science, and getting papers published. It is not (or should not) be questioned by kids (or their parents) who object to it on theological grounds. If ANYONE has any evidence that disputes evolution, they could always submit it for scientific peer-review. But for some reason, those with the objections don’t want to do that. They’d rather bypass doing the actual work and just push it straight into schools instead. I wonder why that is?

    Creationist prediction – it’s all part of the evil Darwinist “CONSPIRACY”. Second prediction – creationists will continue to make fools of themselves on this thread, cry about religious “persecution” instead of making actual relevant points, while those who actually know what they’re talking about pick apart their 40 year old “arguments” and tear them to shreds just like what always happens whenever a thread on evolution comes up.

  16. Darth Robo

    Don Snow:

    >>>”I am a believer, who scorns neither evolution nor science. I merely pointed out some issues germain to ordinary people.”

    Of course you are:

    >>>”Then, along comes some 19th century biologists, who plagarise God’s creation as evolution and kick God out of His Creation.”

    >>>”I’m sorry to say, but the theory of evolution is one more story of how things came to be. It’s been politicized in and out of academia, especailly Darwinism. There is no constant to evolution and descent of species sounds so woo-woo. With that mixed in, level headed people have difficulty granting credit to an otherwise valid theory. Get real, we elect politicians because science has no tolerance for ordinary people. God forbid science ever runs the world. Science is a tool, and when it’s vaunted to a position of more than a tool it becomes the problem, not the solution.”

    You just have a short memory.

  17. Darth Robo

    No-one is promoting creationism! Honest!

    >>>”David Bradley just made the remark that he tried to get Ben Stein to come to Austin and speak in front of the SBOE, but they couldn’t afford his fees!”

    http://www.chron.com/commons/readerblogs/evosphere.html?plckController=Blog&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&plckPostId=Blog:f12fd84e-253f-46cf-9408-ee579f9a3a0bPost:cf778c4f-63e5-4d9b-baf5-96fdd7c4ef91

    (ahem)

  18. Don Snow, I think you are confused: Genetic algorithms are not created by God, they are created by computer programmers.

  19. Don Snow

    Darth Robo,

    Some scientists have attacked religion, and some Darwinists do go ballistic at religion. That happens.
    Religion ecompasses all things, to many believers. If you read my 2:43AM post, you could discern my discontent with evolutionists hijacking the way God manages His creation, calling it evolution, and calling believers “woo-woo”.
    I would submit that genelogical algorithms show that the same DNA is used in many different varieties to effect many different species. This, to me, does not indicate descent of species. It’s, on the other hand, evidence that all God’s creatures are made from the same substances.

    Good science has nothing to fear from religion. It’s been my experience to have met some good scientists who also believed in God. It’s the poor scientists who call believers ‘woo-woo’, just like it’s the weak religious who attack evolution.

    I take it, you mean religion is not taught in public schools in the U. S. of A.? But, it is, and I will not state which town let it’s schools put up Christmas trees. Also, I would say that the criminalization of religion in schools serves as primae facea evidence of anti-religous attack.

    If you had read my 2:43AM and subsequent posts, you would not have claimed I am against evolution. There’s nothing wrong with my, nor anyone elses’ ignorance of evolution; there’s other things more pressing to learn: how to make a living; how to interact with other people; how to avoid trouble with the law; etc.

    I think your fear of “dumbing down” and “pulling down” science is unfounded. Both science and evolution compete with other fields of knowledge for funding and intellectual attention. If your theory and scienced is well founded, it will survive and overcome what you call “dumbing down” and “pulling down”.
    Science is not sacred, and has no right to the reverence due a God, found in religion; Darwinism is not the Gospels, and has no right to the faith put into the Gospels. It’s this vaunting of science and Darwinism to a level with the Divine that upsets believers. It’s going too far, and out of place. And, Darth Robo, it’s utterly poor public relations.

    Now, to your second post.
    Sir, your theory and scicnce is open, and must be open, to questioning by the public: our money funds your grants and we have the right and duty to determine who gets our money. Your attitude comes across as arrogant and intolerant of ordinary people, who pay your salary.

    Peer review does not justify criminalizing religion in schools. You can’t, and won’t, legislate away culture and custom: your laws only make things worse for you and others, not better.

    Darwinism is neither evil nor a conspiracy: it is an outdated 19th century brand of biology, which needs to be replaced by 21st century biologists.

    BTW, I’m not a Creationist: there you go, slapping on a label with a knee jerk response to the mention of religion. If you understood Creationism, you’d see that my 2:43AM and subsequent posts contain material that no faithful Creationist would ever write. You’re as ignorant of other parts of life as you say I am of evolution; and you’re as adamant about having other things to learn than cordial interaction with those of a different belief system to yours, as I am calm and unrufrled about being ignorant of the finer points of evolution, because I have had and do have things of more pressing nature to study and learn, than evolution.

    What I want to do, is reach across this gap of communications between self styled evolutionists and self styled believers, to effect an understanding and mutual respect between people of different faith systems. People like you must learn to respect other people’s foibles, religon and politics.

  20. IAmMarauder

    @Don Snow;

    Firstly: which story in Genesis is the more correct one? Allegorical or not, there are major differences between the two which make them quite incompatible in themselves.

    Secondly: I am not sure what you mean by teaching “political correctness about different social events”. Do you mean teaching the different events from the points of view of the various groups, or teaching them from different cultural viewpoints? Both of those are something that should be taught, with no preference or bias put on either (or any) side. Teaching about something like any Civil Rights movement should include the views from the side of both the oppressed and the oppressors. And that doesn’t make it “politically correct” – as long as the lessons are unbiased and factual it just makes it correct.

    Thirdly: The Theory of Evolution may be “one more story of how things came to be”, but it is one story that has plenty of evidence to back it up. It can also be used to predict what sorts of animals have not yet been discovered. This makes it a lot better than the story that “god did it”, or the story where we are “all floating in space on a giant disc being carried on the back of an elephant” (or any other creation story).

    Fourthly: “There is no constant to evolution and descent of species sounds so woo-woo” – this is either ignorance on your part, or a bald-faced lie. There are plenty of constants with evolution, and theories behind descent of species sounds nothing like woo-woo. To begin with when science finds an error in a theory or hypothesis they will (and do) change the idea to fit the new evidence. If something is found to invalidate it – it becomes invalid. This does not happen with woo – when evidence proving their ideas wrong are bought forth they will either try to explain how it doesn’t fit with their theory, or simply stick their fingers in their ears and ignore it (religion is famous for doing this as well).

    Fifthly: You say “science has no tolerance for ordinary people”… Science has not much tolerance in any way, shape or form. Science is not a living entity, thus it cannot have a quality like tolerance. Saying “science has no tolerance for ordinary people” is like saying “hammers have no tolerance for ordinary people”. So, in a roundabout way you are correct, just not in the way you were meaning. However this does lead onto the next point…

    Sixthly: “Science is a tool…”. Well done, one thing we agree on. However;

    Seventhly: “… When it’s vaunted to a position of more than a tool it becomes the problem, not the solution”. Again, this is true of all tools. A hammer is just a hammer, but when you try to use it for something outside its design then it causes more problems than it can fix.

    Eightly: Your freedom of speech and freedom of though were honoured – you have the right to say and think what you want to. Your comments haven’t been changed (that I know of), and you haven’t been censored. However we also have the right to reply to your speech and ideas, with speech and ideas of our own. Unfortunately out ideas oppose yours – does this mean we don’t have the right to say things? I hope that you would honour our right to freedom of speech and ideas as well.

    Ninthly: . People make money of evolution by more than teaching it. It is used in medicine to predict how bacteria will change when treated with a new drug, it is used in biology to gain a better understanding of the working of many animals, and it is used by many other scientists in a variety of ways. To flip your argument around though: Creationists use it to make money also. Ken Ham and the Creationist Museum is not letting people in for free, and the Discovery Institute has plenty of books for sale. “With that in mind, the subsequent conflict of interest leaves the” hypothesis of Creationism and Intelligent Design “open to question” (I am sorry, they are not theories in the scientific sense of the word”.

    Tenthly: “It’s evolutionists resistance to questioning that irratates [sic] me”. We are not resistant to questioning; the problem is that all the arguments that creationists and ID folk have come up with have been soundly rebutted and destroyed. If they came up with some evidence disproving the Theory of Evolution then that would be something. However they have not done so. As for where to find these counter arguments; well google is your friend. As for creationists and ID folk: “It is the resistance to evidence and argument that irritates me”.

    Elevently: This one is out of turn, and applies to the two parts with asterisks above: “Religious intolerance”. I am sorry, but I have this thing where I will show any person, or group, the same tolerance that they show me or other people. Most organised religions show no tolerance of other ideas, opinions or lifestyles so why should I show tolerance to them? I will tolerate individual members of a group – until they do something intolerant to me or others. I believe this is covered in the bible under Matthew 7:120: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you”. If they show intolerance to others, then it must mean that they wish others to show intolerance to them.

    Anyways, this is one big wall of text I don’t expect anyone to read. I just needed to get it off my chest (and it does feel better for doing so).

  21. Don Snow

    Pieter Kok,

    I am not confused. I think genetic algorithms were discovered by computer programs, after God created them. I have learned that mathematics are language, to express that which words poorly fit.

    Sir, I’m not here, to make you believe the way I believe; nor will I accept your attempt to make me think the way you think. I will respect your acceptance of a mathematics that I cannot comprehend; in return, I expect your respect for my belief in a God which you cannot comprehend.

  22. papageno

    Don Snow: “Science is not sacred, and has no right to the reverence due a God, found in religion; Darwinism is not the Gospels, and has no right to the faith put into the Gospels. It’s this vaunting of science and Darwinism to a level with the Divine that upsets believers. It’s going too far, and out of place.

    This is a common misconception among religious people. They think that a scientific theory is accepted on faith, because they accept their own belief on faith.
    They never seem to consider that a scientific theory is accepted because it is the best explanation fitting the body of objective evidence and logical parsimony.

  23. Don Snow

    IamMaruader,

    Imho, the first Genesis creation story I deem as an allegorical history and the second Genesis creation story I deem as an allegorical prophecy.

    IamMarauder, I agree in all respects with your second point. My point, is that’s not how it’s done. My viewpoint sees politcal correctness as a tyranny of thought which precludes criticism of the issues you mentioned. The politcal correctness I see, allows no questioning, and punishes difference of opinions. It happens all the time; and if you look for it, you can see what I’m writing about.

    Thirdly, I will not deny what you say about the theory of evolution. I just doubt some of the claims made for it. For example, exactly which specie was predicted from the evidence?

    Fourthly, to the ordinary man, not to the educated man, descent of species does sound ridiculous and like “woo-woo”. Now, remember, ordinary people go to college or to trade school, to learn to make a better living: meteorology, business admin, economics, physics, journalism, media applications, music, history and other fields all compete with biology; in boiology there are many other subjects of interest than evolution: medical, agricultural, etc. Same goes for trade schools. Now, college grads will accept evolutionary tenets with little arguement, because it’s another field. The rest of us, not so. Have you seen me write, “What you say is not so!”
    No, you haven’t. You’ve seen me write “ridiculous” and “sounds…like “woo-woo”, not that it is. I am not a Creationist. Don’t communicate to me, like I was.
    I happen to think, that the concept of an evolutionary constant is a hangover from Uniformtarianism thought. Like an appendix to biology. I’m entitled to my lay opinion. Your college degree gives you no elitist position, because too many other people have like and different college degrees to yours, for a college education to dispense any elitism. At one time, I thought it would be grand to go to college all my life, and to study everything. I have been disabused of that innocence by college grads whom I don’t want to be like, and by professors wasting my time and money for a class, by diverging to their personal opinions on religion or social goings on, instead of teaching their topic.

    Fifthly: There is no justification for science’s regard for ordinary people. Spare me your “living entity” view of science, which merely clouds the simple fact that science is a tool for human use; and only serves well when used as a tool; and causes more problems than solution when its preached as a substitute deity.

    Sixthly: it is good to agree.

    Seventhly: agreed.

    Eightly: I agree to the spirit of your post. Yes, we are disagreed, but I want no rancor. We can agree to disagree. But, a student in class is vunerable without that freedom. His or her parents should not be intiminated, when they disagree. Let me read on, before I write what comes to mind, here.

    Ninthly: No arguement. I still think that the theory’s power of restriction would be limited to the lab, and not as accurate in the field of predicting an unfound specie.

    Tenthly: I may surprise you, here. Just as I think that science has little say about religion, my church teaches we ought not question science from the Holy Bible. And, I despise ID as a mealy mouthed Creationist. ID is as dangerous to good religion as it is to good science. I deem ID as a thoughtless attempt to justify God in science. My God justifies Himself to me, he doesn’t need human justification.

    Eleventhly: no disagreement. I would like to point out, that some church people walk into the middle of the debate and feel intolerated, because of science’ response to Creationists and IDer’s, who are intolerant of science.
    And, we have the miscommunications I’ve been trying to wade through, with today’s posts.

    I’m glad you did. I read it. And have tried to truthfully respond to it. Actually, my 2:43AM post was more like “getting it off my chest”, too.
    Maybe, from today’s conversation I could win a better consideration for ordinary people. That would be good.

  24. Don Snow, I have a genetic algorithm for a specific maths problem on the hard drive of the very computer I use to write this comment. It was not created by a computer program, or God. It was created by me. In fact, I worked very hard to create it! You can object that God created me, and therefore indirectly created the genetic algorithm. But that would be an implicit denial of free will, and leads us too far astray.

    As for your second paragraph, are you saying that you are not willing to change your mind if presented with persuasive arguments? If so, this is an anti-intellectual attitude that has gone out of fashion last Tuesday.

  25. Don Snow

    papageno,

    Thanks for your response. I see and agree with your point.
    You seem to have missed mine. Not wishing to belabor it, I’ll stand on what I’ve written.

    As it is, I go to work tonight. Usually I don’t post on Friday – Monday, because I work those nights.

    I’m bookmarking this thread, to come back to it next week. Sorry for the delay, just the way I am.

  26. Don Snow

    Pieter Kok,

    I done wrote, that I don’t intend to make you believe the way I believe; nor will I accept your trying to make me think the way you think.

    Your thoughts are appropriate where you are, and my faith is appropriate where I am. All the debate in the world won’t change either clause of the above sentence.

    Going to bed now.

  27. Bonvoy Hodges

    Don Snow bumper stickers now available:
    PoMo: ‘Science is just another way of knowing.’
    populism: ‘Us ordinary folks have got more important
    things to worry about; besides, we pay your salaries.’
    Question begging (in the correct logical sense):
    ‘God created your science & logic & everything,
    so I don’t have to bother with the details.’
    Bill O’Reilly franchise: ‘The War on Xmas is not just
    for Xmas any more!’

  28. T_U_T

    All the debate in the world won’t change either clause of the above sentence

    translated to normal english : “my brain got stuck in an infinite loop”

  29. Darth Robo

    Don Snow

    If God did indeed use evolution (and IF God exists, He DID), there is nothing wrong with calling it evolution. If someone says He did NOT, that that IS “woo-woo” and deserves to be called out, the same way astrology, flat Earth and faith-healing should. Whether YOU think DNA is evidence for common descent or not is irrelevant. You are wrong, plain and simple. What’s more, your judgement is affected by your religious beliefs, plain and simple. What’s more, a simple google search on your name with the word “evolution” revealed that you most likely haven’t (and won’t) take an evolution course. Religion is not science, plain and simple. Yet those who are calling for the dumbing down of evolution do so based on theology, plain and simple.

    >>>”There’s nothing wrong with my, nor anyone elses’ ignorance of evolution; there’s other things more pressing to learn: how to make a living; how to interact with other people; how to avoid trouble with the law; etc.”

    People can still do that and still learn science. If one doesn’t want to learn science, they don’t have to. But they have no right to dumb-down education for everyone else, just because certain aspects of reality offend them. And no, our fears of dumbing-down is NOT unfounded. True, science that has grounding has and will stand the test of time – but that cannot happen if students don’t learn that science in the first place. Correct, science is not sacred, and does not claim to be. But the fact that science does not take religious objections seriously makes people like yourself think of science being treated at a “divine level”. Which is ludicrous. If science was sacred as you say, it would never take new evidence into account. Theories would not change in response. Science would be stagnant. That’s not how it works. Once again you look at science with a religious view, not a scientific one. If creationists would just leave science be, there would be no problem.

    Religion in schools is not criminalised, despite your generic sweeping statement. It is also not on topic here, in THIS event, it is religion attacking science. And as already pointed out, religion is not science. You admit to being ignorant of evolution and STILL you brand it as “19th century biology”, revealing your ignorance even more. If you know nothing of evolution, by what grounds do you have to critique it? And you want “21st century biologists” to take over. How can this happen when science is dumbed down at the school level? Your claims become more ludicrous with each post. If you want respect, you have to earn it. As I’ve already pointed out, many people of faith have no problem reconciling science with their faith. They don’t need to attack science, because they understand that their faith is a philosophical view, not a scientific one. I’ll state again, your religious opinions have no place in a scientific context. At all. Never have, never will. Your beliefs don’t have to be respected. That’s the great thing about freedom of speech. But teaching good science is not the same as disrespecting religion. Unless of course, one has religious objections to certain facts, like say, common descent. Religious people are doing the attacking here, not perfectly normal thinking people like the ones I mentioned, but fundamentalists whose religion is more important than science. So important in fact, they want to push it onto everyone in public school science classes. You have no grounding here, Don. If you want to “bridge the gap of communications” or whatever, go tell these people to leave their religious apologetics out of science class where it doesn’t belong.

  30. Darth Robo

    And Don, if you despise ID as much as you say, then know that the criticisms against evolution you’re supporting are the same as the ones made by the IDers. I’ve already posted a link to that effect, just waiting in moderation at the moment.

  31. papageno

    Don Snow: “Thanks for your response. I see and agree with your point.
    You seem to have missed mine. Not wishing to belabor it, I’ll stand on what I’ve written.

    I have not missed that you are telling biologists what the Theory of Evolution is and does, despite admitting your ignorance of it.

  32. Perhaps students from Texas will need to be given special tests before they can be admitted to college or university.

    Don, your verbiage is not equivalent to a persuasive argument. All it tells us is that you’re stickin’ with your story no matter what the actual facts are. It doesn’t matter to me or my beliefs what yours are — you’re free to have them and I defend your rights to have and hold them. But, when they interfere with a student’s getting a decent science education that includes facts (not religious-based wishful thinking) then they become very much a public issue — and one to be debated in public, as is being done.

  33. IAmMarauder

    Don,

    On the second point – it isn’t political correctness that you are opposing. You are opposed to the authoritativeness that the teacher/s are using (or abusing). In subjects that review “social events”, such as history or social science classes, then I think that students should be allowed to raise claims that may run against what the teacher has raised – on one condition: That they have evidence to back it up. I myself did this when studying modern history, and was pulled up by the teacher to explain my writing in an essay I did. When I showed her the evidence that I had found and how it applied to my position she was apologetic. However I have seen other cases where this did not occur, and the student suffered (with regards to their grades) because of it.

    Regarding my talking to you as though you are a creationist; the reason I have regarded you as such is based primarily on two points:
    * Your belief that God created everything; and
    * Referring to people as “Darwinists”.

    The first does put you in the Creationist camp. Creationists run a broad range from “the bible is true and the earth is 6 thousand years old” through to your “the bible is an allegorical story” argument, however they are united in the idea that “God created everything”.

    The second is an idea only used by Creationists in discussing evolution. I have never heard of people who think that use the term Newtonists when discussing the Theory of Gravity, or Einsteinists for discussing the Theory of Special Relativity.

    This does mean that at the moment I do regard you as something of a Creationist. Maybe not completely on that side of the argument, but there is a heavy leaning that way.

    Regarding the mention of “Science as a living entity”: I think you misread my point. I stated that “Science is not a living entity, thus it cannot have a quality like tolerance”. There was no intention of clouding – science is no more living than the hammer I compared it to.

    Also I have seen no examples of where anyone has elevated science to the level of being a deity or trying to replace any god, and anyone trying to do so has no idea what science is. I have found that the people that are pushing this idea are religious people, who are afraid of it for some reason. From my personal experience with religion I would say there are some who are afraid of it because it causes people to question, which may turn them away from religion. This is exactly what happened to me. The funny part was I wasn’t even questioning the scriptures, god or anything to do with religion… In a nutshell: In a scripture class the nun in charge was teaching us that when it rains, the sky gets slippery and the clouds slip around. Lightning is caused when two clouds collide and cause a spark (like two rocks hitting together), and the thunder is the sound of the collision. When I asked her why my encyclopaedia said something different I got slapped and sent out of class. Needless to say Mum pulled me out of the class and from then on I got to go to the library instead of scripture classes.

    Anyways – back on track :)

    Onto point eight: As I said before, some classes should have room for discussion. However there are a few that aren’t as flexible. Maths is the prime example – it is a fairly stringent subject and if the student is wrong then they are wrong. Science is the same. I believe there can be room to discuss other ideas – however it should not be the main part of the class. The main things that should be taught in science is primarily the methodology of science – that is “how science is done”. Second to that is the teaching of current scientific theories, and how the methodology of science was used with these theories. If there is time then by all means use that spare time to discuss other ideas, but it should not be part of the core learnings. This actually solves on of you issues: It shows the oridnary person how science works (in the sense of how it is carried out). This gives them a better understanding of it all, and also helps in other ways – for example it gives them a defence against scams.

    This method was actually the way we were taught science in primary and secondary school. However my experience may well differ in a few ways: Firstly I was born, raised and still live in Australia. Whether schools are still the same now I have no idea, but when I was a lad that was the way I was taught science. Also religion wasn’t as ingrained in life as it appears to be in the US – most people went through the motions of it but didn’t let it rule their life. If they had something better to do of a Sunday they did it instead of church.

    Something else I should let you know, whilst I attended a University (I was enrolled in a computer studies course) I never got a degree. Hell, half the time I didn’t show up for class. Basically I dropped out of Uni well before they officially kicked me out. As for the things I know now – I have taught myself a lot of things covering a broad range of subjects.

    As for being part of any elite group, I wish I could say I am. But honestly, I am an ordinary, everyday person. I wake up of a morning and go to work so I can afford to pay the bills and put food on my table. If there is any money left over it goes towards paying extra off my mortgage or repairs/improvements around the house. Occasionally I might splash out on myself, but it is becoming a fairly rare thing.

    I don’t believe you need to win any consideration for ordinary people – I am not sure there is any need to do so. Those who are not interested in whether animals evolved or whether “god-did-it” are just not interested either way. The people who are interested seek answers, but are biased by life experiences. If things had of been different when I was younger I could well be on the side of “god-did-it”. However I was bought up to question things, to learn. More importantly though, I was also taught to look at any evidence that I was provided with – and to form a decision based on it. If it turned out that the evidence was sound, and that it showed I was wrong in my way of thinking, I would change my thinking to match the evidence. I refer to this as Critical Thinking, something that is sadly lacking in the world today.

  34. James

    I think everyone is missing the point:
    All of science has its strengths and weaknesses. That’s why it has peer review, which can be brutal at times.

    The real question is: Of all of science, why is this one topic chosen again and again?

    I would challenge the members of the Texas Board of Education to take a polygraph test to prove they don’t have a hidden agenda.

  35. Mike

    Let Texas be what their citizens want it to be. If their citizens want creationism, so be it. They’re not Iraq, and we’re not the Bush administration.

  36. Joe Meils

    Texas has been doomed for quite some time, honestly. Any state that gave us George Bush, and the “He needed killin’” defense really hasn’t been on solid ground for a good while. We really missed our chance during the Alamo. If only someone from the Mexican side had walked up to the doors on that final day, and realized they were out of ammo…

  37. Daffy

    You know what frustrates me? If they would bother to talk to a rabbi (remember, the Bible was written by Jews), these creationist knotheads would learn that the whole creation story is intended as allegory and always was.

  38. Don Snow

    My conscience won’t let me sleep.
    I mispoke my church’s teaching on its authority. I think my church teaches that it may speak on morals and ethics to the military, science, governments and industry and such.

    Read ya’ll’s posts later. Back to bed. See you Tuesday.

  39. UNDERCOVER

    Beeing a high rednecked state, what would you expect?

    Right wingers are huge antiscientists!

  40. TheBlackCat

    @ Don Snow: Most of your points have been addressed, but two need to be mentioned:

    For example, exactly which specie was predicted from the evidence?

    Google “tiktaalik”. This was an animal where scientists were not only able to predict what features it had, but when and where it lived. Using this information they looked for a region that had exposed rocks from that time and place, looked around, and there was the fossil they were expecting with exactly the features they predicted.

    Genesis being allegorical, but the first creation account parallels biological development quite closely.

    No, it doesn’t. Just about everything it could have gotten wrong it did. It is a common myth that Genesis (either of them) is similar to how things actually occurred, but it apparently either came from people who haven’t read Genesis or who don’t know how things actually happened because the two bear almost no similarity.

  41. John Keller

    Don Snow,

    My pastor has stating many times that the Bible is not a science text book. It exists to describe the relationship between God and man. I think what you need to take away from Genesis is that “In the beginning God created the heavens and the Earth”

    Joe Meils,

    Many of us who live in Texas do not consider George Bush a Texan. He wasn’t born here (Conn.), he wasn’t educated here, but in New England (high school, college and graduate school). In fact he wasn’t accepted to the University of Texas Law School, so then he went to Harvard.

  42. Jimmy Ray

    Who says evolution is not a religion itself? Just because God is not at the center, does not make it a religion. Today, it seems like evolution and global warming are the two biggest growing religions out there today. I think anyone knows the best way to stop a argument or turn from facts and science to emotion is start calling names. For example: “I’m very sorry about your lack of knowledge in regards to evolution, but just because you or others don’t believe it does not make it untrue.”

    How well do you know ole Don? Are you using that same reasoning to believe in evolution? Good science can always hold up to questioning. But evolution breaks down the more you dig into it. Can anyone explain irreversible complexity without calling names to short circuit the argument? Using the time tested and proven scientific methodology ? It’s four steps prove your argument. Educate me. I have been digging into this for years and it all comes back to the scientific method. Darwin himself listed methods to disprove his theory and everyone one of them has been met.
    - Fossil record
    - Eyeball
    - Simple cells
    - Pattern of life evolving on fixed continents
    - Finches evolving to Finches

    The Bible on the other hand has proven itself time and time again as a reliable source of information on many fronts.
    - Unlike any book ever wrote the Bible has thousands of prophecies that have been historical fulfilled
    - Not a single archeological discovery has ever proven the Bible incorrect. Matter of fact, the Bible has documented ancient societies that many thought never existing, like Assyria
    - Written over 2000 years ago, there are over 24K manuscripts dating all the way back making the Bible the most preserved work of all time. Compare that to the number two Homers Illad with 640 manuscripts.
    The Bible has proven itself as a trustworthy source of information. As a matter of fact, I strongly disagree with your statements that the Bible does not prove or have any science in it. How about these:
    - Roundness of the earth (Isaiah 40:22)
    - Almost infinite extent of the sidereal universe (Isaiah 55:9)
    - Law of conservation of mass and energy (II Peter 3:7)
    - Hydrologic cycle (Ecclesiastes 1:7)
    - Vast number of stars (Jeremiah 33:22)
    - Law of increasing entropy (Psalm 102:25-27)
    - Paramount importance of blood in life processes (Leviticus 17:11)
    - Atmospheric circulation (Ecclesiastes 1:6)
    - Gravitational field (Job 26:7)

    I have noticed that not a single scientific minded person argues about Planck’s Constant, Avogadro Constant, Kepler Laws, etc… way? because they are proven with the scientific method and to argue it would be just silliness. But not with evolution. Trying to even discuss this gets folks as mad as a Catholic questioning a Muslim about his faith.

    Have the Christians blown it with faith healing, Dark Ages, Dumb rules, etc? It sure didn’t help. But science has not been that accurate on stuff either from alchemy, flat Earth, geocentrism to not converting SAE into metric and slamming a billion dollar probe into Mars. Null argument. Mistakes are made, more science is learned from it. Believing in evolution tosses out the Laws of Thermodynamics as it is taught.

    So please help me out, no need to name call, I am seeking knowledge. I have read Darwin, Dawkins, Francis Collins, Nigel Goldenfeld and Carl Woese and taken undergrad/graduate level classes to try and understand. Creation is hard to comprehend for a science minded person, but I have to go back to the most reliable source and that is the Bible. It is proven true and reliable on many levels. No need for any more didaktikogenic misconception. My ongoing study into these subject has showed me the evolution is no longer a science it is a religion that is not to be questioned, just accepted…that is not how I was taught and understand the great wonders of science.

  43. Todd W.

    @TheBlackCat

    I was just about to mention tiktaalik. Ya beat me to it.

  44. Gary Ansorge

    Don Snow:
    Comprehension of God is an oxymoron,,,ie, a contradiction in terms. It makes as much sense as saying, “Comprehension of chaos,,,”which, since we are highly structured, pattern seeking minds, is ridiculous, for chaos has NO pattern, yet ALL patterns are potentially contained within it. We do not “comprehend” infinity. That would require that WE be infinite, ie, equivalent to God itself(a postulate of some philosophies but I expect not one you would accept). What we CAN comprehend is the IDEA that something may increase without limit.

    Organized religion, like a corporation, exists only to maintain its own existence. It has no real function. It does not produce food or housing or clothes. It is universally derived from the attempt to emulate the Path followed by anyOne we might consider exceptional and “touched by God”. Unfortunately, no two life forms, or for that matter, any two particles, can occupy the same Path thru reality, for as reality unfolds, the Paths change. Organized religion is a study in dogmatic frustration and like any living being, it will fight to preserve itself, off times viciously.(See: Creationism, ID and bald faced liars)

    The only way you or anyone else can ever possibly “know God” is the old, tried and true way: by dying,,,any thing that may be said about God( by anyone who has NOT died) is just whistling past the graveyard.

    ,,,and I stress again,,, science IS knowledge, derived from the scientific method. The method works. It does what it was designed to do, it shows what ideas are false,,,and allows us to move on.

    Gary 7

  45. Nigel Depledge

    Don Snow said:

    I happen to believe that what some scientists call evolution is actually the methodology which explains how the Creator made everything, as described in Genesis. Genesis being allegorical, but the first creation account parallels biological development quite closely.

    While I agree that Genesis is best read as an allegory or metaphor, certain parts of it are just flat-out wrong. I can live with the theistic evolutionary view that evolution is, in essence, God’s toolkit, but creationists like McLeroy don’t espouse this view.

    Then, along comes some 19th century biologists, who plagarise God’s creation as evolution and kick God out of His Creation.

    Or, if you want to take a more rational viewpoint, they mostly saw themselves as working out how God created such biological diversity.

    Ya’ll got nothing to be proued of, and your religious intolerance’s a shame. Shame on you.

    On the contrary. The theory of evolution is one of mankind’s greatest intellectual triumphs.

    Religious intolerance it is not, to object when creationists try to replace good science with lies. Deliberately sowing doubt about evolution is lying, because the “weaknesses” are all founded on logical fallacies (be that straw-man argument, argument from ignorance or argument from personal incredulity).

  46. Nigel Depledge

    Don Snow said:

    In closing, most ordinary and the majority of poor people are so busy paying bills and putting food on the table, that how scientists think is low on the priority list.

    But people will still have opinions, even if those opinions are founded in ignorance.

    I’m sorry to say, but the theory of evolution is one more story of how things came to be.

    No it isn’t just “one more story”. It is the only “story” (I prefer the term “explanation”, actually) that stands up to rigorous detailed scrutiny and comarison with all of the available evidence.

    Whether you recognise it or not, evolutionary theory has earned your respect. It has done this by surviving the scientific process for 150 years.

    It’s been politicized in and out of academia, especailly Darwinism.

    It has been politicised by creationists, i.e. people who have a vested interest in ensuring that kids do not learn thr truth of how Earth’s biosphere came to exist in its present state of breathtaking diversity.

    There is no constant to evolution and descent of species sounds so woo-woo.

    Do you actually have any idea what evolutionary theory actually says?

  47. Nigel Depledge

    Don Snow said:

    The theory of evolution and $6.00 will get me a coffee and roll at Starbucks. The only way a person can make a living with the theory of evolution, is to teach it. With that in mind, the subsequent conflict of interest leaves the theory open to question. Which is good, because anything in science is open to question. It’s evolutionists resistance to questioning that irratates me.

    What the hell does making a living have to do with obtaining a true understanding of how the world works? If scientists were in life just for the money, there wouldn’t be any science. Science is hard work and long hours for a relatively modest remuneration.

    You are regurgitating some standard creationist straw-man about science being open to question. In reality, the cutting edge of science is open to question. In the latter half of the 19th century, evolutionary theory was widely questioned. It withstood the questioning then, and susbequent discoveries have only given it more support. Asking those questions now is a fruitless task, not because of any conspiracy of scientists, but because we already know the answers.

    Even if evolutionary theory is wrong in some way, we know that it is at least a good approximation of reality. This is because if it were not, we would already have found out.

  48. Nigel Depledge

    Don Snow said:

    My main complaint is the disrespect toward relgion.

    OK, Don, I’m listening. What has religion (any religion) done to earn my respect?

  49. Gary Ansorge

    As an addendum:
    For those who think evolutionary theory is too complicated for them to understand, perhaps I can reduce it to its most basic premises,,,

    1) Species are composed of individual entities, which, by random accident, have many (slightly)different versions of related DNA.
    2) As long as their environment is static, the species remains the same.(see: spiny sea urchin: basically unchanged for 650 million years).
    3)The environment changes(again, a random occurrence).
    4) Those individuals who just happen to have the DNA coding that will allow them to survive under these new conditions, will reproduce and pass along those traits to their offspring, thus the species,,,
    5) Adapts and becomes a “new” species.

    It is environmental change that drives evolution, with random DNA alterations in individuals that allows those individuals to survive and reproduce in the new environment,ie, by pure chance, SOME individuals have the right stuff, at the right time, to survive.

    Don: I hope that helps.

    Gary 7

  50. Nigel Depledge

    Don Snow said:

    Some scientists have attacked religion, and some Darwinists do go ballistic at religion. That happens.

    So? I am sure that some atheists who aren’t scientists also attack religion. I am equally sure that many scientists (including some “Darwinists”, whatever one of those is) are deeply religious.

    Whatever. Science and religion have, in principle, pretty much nothing whatever to do with one another.

    On the other hand, in the same way that a preacher has the right to preach on TV about income tax or prostitution or abortion, so any atheist has the right to say whatever they want about religion. If you can’t live with that, then go and move to a country that is already a theocracy.

    In essence, your objection to Phil’s post seems to be founded on your opinion of the people who are defending science from religious attacks, rather than on any rational assessment of the merits of the science itself.

  51. Nigel Depledge

    Don Snow said:

    . . . my discontent with evolutionists hijacking the way God manages His creation, calling it evolution, and calling believers “woo-woo”.

    OK, if you would care to provide a reference where it says this, I’ll go and read it.

    BTW, God does not “manage” his creation – it manages itself. There is no evidence of divine tinkering anywhere on Earth, and there is plenty of evidence against teleology (goal-orientation) in evolution.

  52. Nigel Depledge

    IAmMArauder said:

    Anyways, this is one big wall of text I don’t expect anyone to read. I just needed to get it off my chest (and it does feel better for doing so).

    I read it. A very valid set of arguments.

  53. @Don Snow,

    Its great that you have your religion and all, but the First Amendment prohibits you from teaching your religion in public schools. Even if were allowed, religion is not science, and we’re talking about what will be taught in science classes.

    Not only are the Texas Board of Education members (some of them) trying to force their religion on public school children, they are attempting to dumb-down science as a whole. This is a gross error, and should not be allowed.

    How can children in Texas, and the US, expect to compete in a global economy when their science and math are reduced by ignorance?

    Perhaps if more of the BOE members had a better education, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

    8)

  54. It’s a bunch of BS and a threat to the integrity of science education. I do think “doom” is overplaying the issue, however. Apparently the “strengths and weaknesses” wording simply is what existed in the past, without many teachers bothering to teach the “strengths and weaknesses.”

    We need to defeat it if at all possible, because we don’t want them telling kids lies, because of its effects on other states (perhaps via textbook selection), and because it’s a threat to freedom of religion/irreligion. But doom if this creationist BS remains? I think not.

    McLeroy the dentist continues to use his tremendous scientific expertise to inform the BOE, I see. Why do people like himself aim to be the kind of fool in history that people can only shake their heads at, and wonder how stupidity can continue its reign into the 21st century?

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/6mb592

  55. SLC

    Re Greg in Austin

    Unfortunately, education is a necessary but not sufficient condition. Governor Jindel of Louisiana has a bachelors degree in biology from Brown, Un. but he is still a creationist.

    Re Don Snow

    Devout Catholic Ken Miller, professor if biology at Brown, Un. ia strenuously opposes teaching creationism in public school classrooms. No atheist he.

  56. Todd W.

    @Don Snow

    For what it’s worth, I am an ordinary person, not a scientist by profession, and rather focused on paying the bills, finding food and occasionally having a bit of fun. But what scientists think is also pretty high up in my thoughts. Why? Because what they discover, what they work on, typically has a pretty big impact on my life and on the lives of people around me. What role does evolution play? It factors hugely into medicine and trying to stay ahead of resistant bacteria. It factors into agriculture and breeding of plants and animals that have higher nutritional values or are hardier varieties. It could help identify which newly discovered species of plants or animals may be useful for some application (e.g., production of a medicinal substance), thus narrowing down how long it takes to find new sources. As it is more fully understood, it may play a role in figuring out where humans are headed as a species.

    See, when people study evolution, they don’t simply go on to teach evolution and do nothing else with it. They go on to become doctors, chemists, biologists, agricultural engineers, veterinarians and more.

    Ideas of how evolution works are also playing a role in computers and artificial intelligence. While applicable results from these are still a way off, it’s something that I will potentially affect me, those around me, and those who will come after me.

    So, yeah, I’m an ordinary person that is concerned about what scientists think and do. You can lump me into a minority of “ordinary” people, but when it comes down to it, and people really, really think through the implications, I think you would probably find that most “ordinary” people would also be concerned.

  57. Nigel Depledge

    Don Snow said:

    There’s nothing wrong with my, nor anyone elses’ ignorance of evolution; there’s other things more pressing to learn: how to make a living; how to interact with other people; how to avoid trouble with the law; etc.

    I would qualify this. There is nothing wrong with your ignorance of evolution, provided you respect the informed opinion of the experts.

    Not all opinions are equal. An opinion founded on ignorance has almost no value at all when compared with the informed opinion of an expert. Similarly, the opinion of one expert has very little weight compared with the consensus opinion of the entire scientific community.

    So, if you want to remain ignorant of evolution, that’s fine. But do not then expect to receive any respect from the experts when you try to discuss evolution.

  58. Nigel Depledge

    Don Snow said:

    Science is not sacred, and has no right to the reverence due a God, found in religion;

    Well, I agree that science is not sacred, but there we diverge.

    Science does not receive reverence. Instead, successful scientific theories and explanations receive respect. How do they get this? By earning it. A successful scientific theory has survived the most intense and rigorous scrunity from the most pedantic community of all – scientists. Only theories that still hold together after surviving repeated attempts by scientists to find better alternatives end up receiving this respect.

    Conversely, what has religion done to earn the reverence that it demands?

    Darwinism is not the Gospels, and has no right to the faith put into the Gospels.

    No, Darwinism has something better than faith – evidence.

    It’s this vaunting of science and Darwinism to a level with the Divine that upsets believers. It’s going too far, and out of place.

    Well, the thing is that, as a way of understanding how the universe works, science has succeeded over every other approach. It works. It requires no faith. If you care to educate yourself, you can actually go and study the evidence for evolutionary theory for yourself.

    On the other hand, you will never really know if your god is real or not. You have to take it on faith.

  59. there’s other things more pressing to learn: how to make a living; how to interact with other people; how to avoid trouble with the law; etc.

    Perhaps that’s why things other than evolution are taught in school.

    Yet it’s absurd to act as if to “make a living” does not involve a proper understanding of science for many people. Not all, not even for a majority. But unless you really think that work involving science ought not to be an option for Texan children, you will wish for them to understand science, including a knowledge of biology which is consistent with the rest of science (evolution, which depends upon physics, unlike creationism/ID).

    You might understand yourself, such as how and why you are or are not healthy, and how to become more healthy, if you understood how you originated–in a scientific manner. Even there, I would say that evolution is not the most crucial information, yet it is not unimportant, either, for understanding issues like aging, immunity (including auto-immunity) issues, and why pathogens are as they are and why they change over time.

    Above all, teachers ought not to be deliberately misinforming children about science, thereby closing off both job opportunities and a chance to understand themselves and the rest of life.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/6mb592

  60. Nigel Depledge

    Don Snow said:

    Sir, your theory and scicnce is open, and must be open, to questioning by the public: our money funds your grants and we have the right and duty to determine who gets our money. Your attitude comes across as arrogant and intolerant of ordinary people, who pay your salary.

    OK, show me a member of the public who is willing to understand my field of research, and I’ll concede to your demand.

    Your pie-in-the-sky idea is a fantasy. The majority of people will never take the time or trouble to understand the detail of science. You yourself said that they had many higher priorities to concern themselves with. Therefore, the distribution of public funding for science is done by government-appointed panels of experts.

    Peer review does not justify criminalizing religion in schools.

    No, and no-one claims that it does.

    Religious tolerance requires that no religion is favoured in publicly-funded education over any other. The USA was, after all, founded by many people trying to escape religious persecution in Europe (well, with a heavy sprinkling of people who wanted to be the oppressors, not the oppressed).

    You can’t, and won’t, legislate away culture and custom: your laws only make things worse for you and others, not better.

    Erm … the laws about no religion in public schools are there to protect minority religions. Here’s an example: Maybe you hadn’t heard, but the USA was the first country in the world to give Jews citizenship. Congress may pass no law that favours one religion over others.

    That isn’t science, it’s a founding principle of the USA.

    Darwinism is neither evil nor a conspiracy: it is an outdated 19th century brand of biology, which needs to be replaced by 21st century biologists.

    Well, you are sorely in need of some educating.

    I’ll try to be brief. The “Darwinism” of the 19th century has been replaced or updated several times over. First as neo-Darwinism at the start of the 20th century, then as the “modern synthesis” in the 1930s or 1940s. More recently, molecular biology has, along with several other disciplines, given science so much new data that we have ended up with a thoroughly 21st-century theory that I refer to as modern evolutionary theory (MET for short).

    The term “Darwinism”, even though Richard Dawkins himself uses it quite frequently, is an anachronism. However, it has the advantage of being shorter and snappier than MET.

    BTW, I’m not a Creationist:

    You use many of their arguments and tactics, so what else are we to assume?

    there you go, slapping on a label with a knee jerk response to the mention of religion.

    Don’t be such a hypocrite. You were the one that has been bandying the term “Darwinist” about on this blog.

    If you understood Creationism, you’d see that my 2:43AM and subsequent posts contain material that no faithful Creationist would ever write.

    To which brand of creationism do you refer? YEC? OEC? Day-age creationism? Theistic evolutionist? Take your pick. You have used arguments that I have seen used by self-confessed YECists. You have also made statements that a YECist would not touch with a barge-pole. But that does not mean you are not some other type of creationist.

    If you wish to not be labelled “creationist”, then you had better come up with some original argument.

    You’re as ignorant of other parts of life as you say I am of evolution; and you’re as adamant about having other things to learn than cordial interaction with those of a different belief system to yours, as I am calm and unrufrled about being ignorant of the finer points of evolution, because I have had and do have things of more pressing nature to study and learn, than evolution.

    You admit your ignorance, yet you refuse to respect the hard-earned expertise of the scientific community. What exactly about your interpersonal interaction is exemplary, here?

    What I want to do, is reach across this gap of communications between self styled evolutionists and self styled believers, to effect an understanding and mutual respect between people of different faith systems. People like you must learn to respect other people’s foibles, religon and politics.

    If you really want to reach across the gap, then you had best make some effort to understand both positions.

    The science community (and supporters such as the BA, who is now a science writer) wish schoolchildren everywhere to be taught good science in science classes.

    This wish is under threat by people who wish to dilute the teaching of good science with artificial doubt. Such as the “evolution is only a theory” chestnut. Some of them are motivated by good intentions, but these people are sadly ignorant and misguided. Some of them are doing it as a cynical attempt to manipulate the education system into teaching their own brand of mumbo-jumbo.

    This issue really is that simple.

    If you do not care to become informed about evolution, then you must trust the opinions of the experts. On the other hand, if you have no wish to trust the opinion of a scientist, it behooves you to inform yourself about exactly what evolutionary theory says and why it says it.

  61. Nigel Depledge

    Don Snow said:

    Imho, the first Genesis creation story I deem as an allegorical history and the second Genesis creation story I deem as an allegorical prophecy.

    However, you do not address the inconsistency within the two biblical texts. IOW, you have dodged the issue.

    In such a case, i.e. in the absence of corroborating evidence, there will be as many “right” opinions as there are people to hold them. So your opinion about Genesis is no more valid than mine. All we can say for sure is that the opinion of the literalists is wrong, because there exists a great deal of physical evidence that refutes a literal interpretation of the creation and the flood.

  62. Nigel Depledge

    Don Snow said:

    Thirdly, I will not deny what you say about the theory of evolution. I just doubt some of the claims made for it. For example, exactly which specie was predicted from the evidence?

    That’s easy. There’s a very famous example. Tiktaalik.

  63. Ja Muller

    Jimmy Ray said:
    “As a matter of fact, I strongly disagree with your statements that the Bible does not prove or have any science in it.”

    I have never really read the Bible so I am very impressed with the correct science that you say it contains. Does if say if string theory is correct?

  64. Nigel Depledge

    Don Snow said:

    Fourthly, to the ordinary man, not to the educated man, descent of species does sound ridiculous and like “woo-woo”.

    So you seem to be agreeing that science education in the USA is rubbish.

    Now, remember, ordinary people go to college or to trade school, to learn to make a better living:

    If that is really what you think is the purpose of education, then I pity you.

    Education exists to help people understand the world in which they must live. Not merely to get ahead in society, but to become a fully-engaged and integrated member of what is a highly complex society that must face some highly complex issues.

    Training is what makes people more effective in their chosen trade or profession.

    meteorology, business admin, economics, physics, journalism, media applications, music, history and other fields all compete with biology; in boiology there are many other subjects of interest than evolution: medical, agricultural, etc.

    Yet without evolutionary theory, nothing in biology is connected to anything else. Without MET, none of the rest of it makes much sense, except in the narrowest possible context.

    Medicine and agriculture both require at least some understanding of evolution so that doctors and farmers may avoid the rapid evolution of resistance to antibiotics and pesticides. The medical community is facing a crisis of increasingly common resistance to antibiotics, in part brought about by too-frequent and indiscriminate prescription of these drugs.

  65. Jimmy Ray

    @Ja Muller

    Please do not take my word for it. Re verify what I have stated to see for yourself and correct or agree as needed. As for String Theory, I sure have not found anything. The closest ancient documentation I have seen close to String Theory is the Pythagoras’ Harmonic Relationship. If you find something, I would love to hear it! I am still thinking about Schrödinger’s cat….

  66. Nigel Depledge

    Don Snow said:

    You’ve seen me write “ridiculous” and “sounds…like “woo-woo”, not that it is.

    Which illustrates your ignorance of the science, because evolution is actually very common-sensical (unlike, for instance, quantum mechanics).

    I am not a Creationist. Don’t communicate to me, like I was.

    Maybe you ought to stop being a mouthpiece for creationist propaganda, then.

    I happen to think, that the concept of an evolutionary constant is a hangover from Uniformtarianism thought.

    What?

    There is nothing in MET about an evolutionary constant. Where the hell does that come from? And what do you think it is supposed to mean?

    I’m entitled to my lay opinion.

    Of course you are. Just don’t expect an expert to respect it, because you seem to have no clue what evolution actually is.

    Your college degree gives you no elitist position, because too many other people have like and different college degrees to yours, for a college education to dispense any elitism.

    Well, you’re wrong. While it is true that many colleges in the USA are mere “diploma mills”, issuing degrees with no more value than the paper upon which they are printed, an education in biological sciences from a recognised university does confer a kind of elitism, but in a positive way.

    Because of my education, and my personal experience of doing science, I am able to judge the quality of the arguments and evidence that have been put forth to support evolutionary theory. And, I have to tell you it’s a watertight case. Every possible aspect has been considered, and is supported by evidence from a wide variety of disciplines.

    Judging from your low opinion of a scientific education, I do not expect you to be interested. Nevertheless, evolution is a fact – it occurs. Populations of living organisms change over time. The mechanisms of this change, as described by MET, are all natural processes that have been observed to occur.

    This is what children deserve to be taught. It is as close to proven truth as we are ever going to get.

  67. Nigel Depledge

    Don Snow said:

    I may surprise you, here. Just as I think that science has little say about religion, my church teaches we ought not question science from the Holy Bible. And, I despise ID as a mealy mouthed Creationist. ID is as dangerous to good religion as it is to good science. I deem ID as a thoughtless attempt to justify God in science. My God justifies Himself to me, he doesn’t need human justification.

    Actually, given how critical you were in your previous posts, this does surprise me.

    Nevertheless, you yourself have been repeating arguments that have been crafted by the creationist movement to engender unreasonable doubt in evolutionary theory.

  68. Nigel Depledge

    Don Snow said:

    I would like to point out, that some church people walk into the middle of the debate and feel intolerated, because of science’ response to Creationists and IDer’s, who are intolerant of science.

    Actually, this raises a really important point. There are a great many people who are religious and who accept evolutionary theory (at least insofar as they ever think about such things). But they mostly remain silent when the creationists are preaching their nonsense.

    Perhaps there is a certain amount of intolerance of these people from scientists and atheists. Perhaps, though, it is not entirely undeserved.

    I think it would be wonderful if the religious community were to police itself against bad theology and ill-conceived attacks on other areas of society, in the same way that the science community polices itself against bad science and poor reasoning.

  69. @Jimmy Ray,

    Its great that you have your religion and all, but the First Amendment prohibits you from teaching your religion in public schools. Even if were allowed, religion is not science, and we’re talking about what will be taught in science classes.

    8)

  70. Jimmy Ray

    @Greg

    Where does it say that Greg? The First Amendment seems to say just the opposite:

    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.

    I am talking about science also and not science fiction. Theories should be taught as just that, a theory and not a Law of science. This is not a problem in no other area of science save evolution. Why? I am not advocating teaching religion is schools at all. No way, no how. I am just advocating teaching science and not bad science. Showing where and why folks believe evolution fits a scientific model and where it does not. Right now we are looking at two camps:
    Believe in God: Creationism/ID
    Do not believe in God: Evolution
    Really? have we really honestly boiled it down to that? That is a sad state on both sides for the overall health of science.

  71. @ Don Snow: “Genesis being allegorical”

    Where did you get the secret decoder ring that allows you to say that? Are there other parts that are allegorical too which we need to be made aware of? Leviticus is a good place to comb through I suppose. You admit to being a “layperson”, which I commend you for. However, that means you must activelly persue your own education outside the church to get an understanding of what you are talking about. Even the defenition of the word “theory” may surprise you.

    @ Jimmy Ray, I suggest you also understand what the word theory means in a scientific sense. There is no substantive debate in the scientific community on the theory of evolution. Only that which has been manufactured by the ID crowd. As to the quote of the 1st Amendment, did you just gloss over the “establishment” clause? The ONLY support ID has is from the Abrahamistic crowd. And if you want to pick nits, GRAVITY is only a theory. And what about Quantum Theory? To say that there are no other fields without this “problem” is uneducated at best.

    (Sorry for not having been in this debate, I am on night shift here in Qatar, so I miss a lot with the odd timezones and everything.) :D

  72. TheBlackCat

    @ Jimmy: Teaching religion in science class is considered an establishment of that religious belief as the one supported by the state. Thanks to the 14th amendment you cannot do that.

    Also, you seem to have fallen into the standard creationist trap of mixing up the common use of theory with the scientific use. Evolution is a theory the same way germs causing disease is a theory, the same way matter being made up of atoms is a theory, the same way plate tectonics is a theory. That is, it is an explanation for certain observed phenomena and data that has made testable predictions and these predictions have held up under all circumstances.

    In science a theory is more important than a law and far more important than a fact. A fact is simply an observation, saying what is. A law is a simple mathematical relationship between cause and effect, an description of what happens. Neither, however, says why something happens, neither is an explanation. That is where theories come in. Theories explain some collection of facts and laws. Further, they must predict facts and laws that have not yet been looked at. Evolution did this, for instance it predicted with a great deal of accuracy the properties that the genome would have. It predicted fossils like tiktaalik. It predicted the outcome of both controlled laboratory experiments and field studies. It is very likely the best supported scientific theory ever, the amount of evidence supporting it is absolutely staggering.

    The problem with “Showing where and why folks believe evolution fits a scientific model and where it does not” is that there is no where that evolution does not fit a “scientific model”, the instances where it is supposed to are all lies spread by creationists (and once again you are completely misusing the word “model” here, it also has a very specific meaning in science).

    Right now we are looking at two camps:
    Believe in God: Creationism/ID
    Do not believe in God: Evolution

    The only people claiming that there are only those two camps are the creationists who are trying to set up a false dichotomy, a false war between evolution and religion. Lots of biologists are religious, and the vast majority of religious people in the world have no problem with evolution.

  73. Darth Robo

    Jimmy Ray! Loved your first post! Could you go on TV and say that? Or perhaps even in court? That would be very helpful.
    :)

    All theories are taught as theories. Just like the theory of gravity. Yes, we know it used to be called a “law”. But then that pesky old Einstein came along and it was relegated to “theory” once more. GASP! How could that happen?!? Thing is, in science, ‘theory’ is the best that it gets. A theory is a set of explanation that explains currently observable facts and makes successful predictions. Like the theory of gravity. Or the germ theory of disease. Or (wait for it) evolution.

    Also, nothing in science (even evolution) says there is no God. Plenty of believers also have no problem accepting evolution. Did I say that before? I think I did. In fact I’m pretty sure. So why doesn’t that ever seem to sink in?

    Oh yes, it’s because all the people advocating the “critical thinking towards evolution” language are completely ignoring the facts which have already been pointed out to them (multiple times already) in this very thread. But by all means, keep on making the same “arguments” and the mistakes creationists have been making for decades. You are your own worst enemy.

    And you will never understand why.

  74. Nigel Depledge

    James said:

    I would challenge the members of the Texas Board of Education to take a polygraph test to prove they don’t have a hidden agenda.

    I don’t think this would help. Polygraph tests are not adequately reliable. Scientific studies have demonstrated that it is possible to fool any polygraph test, and they frequently produce both false negatives and false positives.

  75. Nigel Depledge

    Jimmy Ray said:

    Who says evolution is not a religion itself?

    Er, well, the facts, for a start.

    Does evolutionary theory venerate one text or collection of texts? No – a fair portion of what Darwin wrote in the 1850s and 1860s has been shown to be wrong. His core ideas, however, are as persuasive today because of their insight and rationale.

    Does evolutionary theory venerate a single person or groups of persons? No – as mentioned before, Darwin has been shown to be wrong on several points (especially his estimates of geological time using rates of erosion).

    Does evolutionary theory teach a monolithic, unchanging dogma? No – evolutionary theory has undergone at least three major changes since it was first published. This has been mainly to adapt to new information but has also been in the face of new ideas (viz, Eldridge and Gould’s punctuated equilibria hypothesis). Modern evolutionary theory is the outcome of the work of many people.

    Does evolutionary theory demand faith? No – it is supported by a vast array of physical evidence, from comparative anatomy to transitional fossil sequences to protein sequence comparisons.

    And so on.

    Anyone who truly believes that science is like another religion is delusional.

    Just because God is not at the center, does not make it a religion. Today, it seems like evolution and global warming are the two biggest growing religions out there today.

    Not really. You see, they are supported by evidence.

    I think anyone knows the best way to stop a argument or turn from facts and science to emotion is start calling names. For example: “I’m very sorry about your lack of knowledge in regards to evolution, but just because you or others don’t believe it does not make it untrue.”

    Well, there’s no name-calling there. And just because one person may be ignorant of the facts that inevitably lead to the conclusions of evolutionary theory does not make the theory any less convincing.

    How well do you know ole Don?

    Irrelevant. His arguments are full of holes and founded on ignorance. I do not need to know anything about him to assess the merits of his arguments.

    Are you using that same reasoning to believe in evolution?

    Well, yeah. What are you using to question it?

    Good science can always hold up to questioning. But evolution breaks down the more you dig into it.

    This is actually a lie.

    I shall refrain from using the “pants on fire” argument, but it is hard.

    Can anyone explain irreversible complexity without calling names to short circuit the argument?

    Yes. Although, I assume you actually meant irreducible complexity. It is an invented term with no technical meaning. It is only used by creationists who seek to bandy about sciency-sounding terms and sow unreasonable doubt about evolutionary theory. See? No name-calling needed.

    Using the time tested and proven scientific methodology ?

    Not needed. The logical foundation of irreducible complexity is nonsensical, since, by its very definition, it excludes one of the commonest mechanisms of evolutionary change.

    But actually, all of Behe’s examples of irreducible complexity have been shown not to be irreducible. And the mousetrap is not even complex.

    It’s four steps prove your argument. Educate me.

    If you really want to know more, ask some specific questions and I’ll see what I can do.

    However, I cannot educate you, in toto in a blog comment.

    Although, if you wish to question a scientific theory that has been accepted as one of the mainstays of modern science by the scientific community for over 50 years, perhaps the onus is on you to become informed about it first, rather than throw in some random blather and expect a respectful reply.

    I have been digging into this for years and it all comes back to the scientific method.

    Go on then, what sources have you used?

    Darwin himself listed methods to disprove his theory and everyone one of them has been met.

    This is just wrong.

    - Fossil record

    Has confirmed Darwin’s core theory, in spades. Evolution predicts transitional fossils, and Archaeopteryx was discovered just a few years after the first publication of On the Origin of Species.

    - Eyeball

    The first edition of TOOS contains a description of how the vertebrate eyeball could have evolved from simpler precursors, all of which confer an advantage on their owner, and all of which are found in the animal kingdom today.

    - Simple cells

    I have no idea what point you wish to make here.

    Define what you mean by a “simple” cell.

    - Pattern of life evolving on fixed continents

    Was part of the information that led to evolutionary theory in the first place.

    MET explains why Australia’s mammalian fauna is so different from that found elsewhere, yet at the same time retaining many common features.

    - Finches evolving to Finches

    Finch morphology changes in response to environmental conditions.

    Is there a point here?

    The Bible on the other hand has proven itself time and time again as a reliable source of information on many fronts.

    You are talking out of your fundament.

    The bible not only contradicts itself (viz Genesis 1 v Genesis 2), it gets basic biological facts wrong (locusts being described as animals that creep on four feet when they actually have six), not to mention all sorts of other stuff, like the physical impossibility of a global flood (where has all the water gone?).

    - Unlike any book ever wrote the Bible has thousands of prophecies that have been historical fulfilled

    Vague prophecies that demand extensive interpretation.

    - Not a single archeological discovery has ever proven the Bible incorrect.

    Irrelevant, and possibly untrue. Reason and evidence tell us that the Bible cannot be accepted as literal truth.

    For instance, a population of over 6 billion could not arise from a mere 8 individuals in 4000 years.

    Matter of fact, the Bible has documented ancient societies that many thought never existing, like Assyria
    - Written over 2000 years ago, there are over 24K manuscripts dating all the way back making the Bible the most preserved work of all time. Compare that to the number two Homers Illad with 640 manuscripts.
    The Bible has proven itself as a trustworthy source of information. As a matter of fact, I strongly disagree with your statements that the Bible does not prove or have any science in it.

    This is all just nonsense. I don’t believe a word of it.

    How about these:
    - Roundness of the earth (Isaiah 40:22)

    Was already known. Have you ever climbed a high mountain?

    - Almost infinite extent of the sidereal universe (Isaiah 55:9)

    Is that really what this verse is saying??? Or is that post hoc interpretation?

    - Law of conservation of mass and energy (II Peter 3:7)
    - Hydrologic cycle (Ecclesiastes 1:7)
    - Vast number of stars (Jeremiah 33:22)
    - Law of increasing entropy (Psalm 102:25-27)
    - Paramount importance of blood in life processes (Leviticus 17:11)
    - Atmospheric circulation (Ecclesiastes 1:6)
    - Gravitational field (Job 26:7)

    In fact, all of this lot seems to be too vague to count as a scientific anything.

    If you find anything specific, let me know. Otherwise, your arguments are weaker than the fifteenth cup of tea made from the same teabag.

    I have noticed that not a single scientific minded person argues about Planck’s Constant, Avogadro Constant, Kepler Laws, etc… way? because they are proven with the scientific method and to argue it would be just silliness. But not with evolution.

    Just as proven as any other scientific theory, in fact. Scientists do not argue about evolutionary theory.

    And before you cite Mike Behe as a counter-example, please notice that he accepts universal common ancestry and all of the evolutionary mechanisms described in MET. His only contention is that some things are too complex to have evolved by the natural processes. However, his argument from personal incredulity is a logical fallacy that has no evidentiary backing.

    Trying to even discuss this gets folks as mad as a Catholic questioning a Muslim about his faith.

    Well, would you get mad if someone kept insisting to you that, despite all evidence to the contrary, water was dry?

    Have the Christians blown it with faith healing, Dark Ages, Dumb rules, etc? It sure didn’t help. But science has not been that accurate on stuff either from alchemy,

    What makes you think alchemy has anything to do with science?

    flat Earth,

    Again, not science.

    geocentrism

    Again, not science.

    to not converting SAE into metric and slamming a billion dollar probe into Mars.

    A human error, nothing to do with the science of interplanetary travel, which is well understood.

    Null argument. Mistakes are made, more science is learned from it. Believing in evolution tosses out the Laws of Thermodynamics as it is taught.

    Again, this is utter tripe.

    So please help me out, no need to name call, I am seeking knowledge. I have read Darwin,

    Actually, it is obvious to me that you have not. Either that or you really have not understood it.

    Dawkins, Francis Collins, Nigel Goldenfeld and Carl Woese and taken undergrad/graduate level classes to try and understand.

    Have you really? I call foul here.

    Because the persistent theme of your post is one of utter, profound ignorance.

    You appear to be regurgitating a bucketload of … stuff straight from AiG. It was false when they thought it up, it was false when they put it on their web pages, and it is still false.

    Creation is hard to comprehend for a science minded person,

    No, it is easy to comprehend for a science-minded person, but it is plain old wrong. Creation, as described in Genesis, is at odds with the real world.

    but I have to go back to the most reliable source and that is the Bible. It is proven true and reliable on many levels.

    You have not demonstrated this. In fact, if anything, you have demonstrated that the Bible requires a great deal of post-hoc interpretation to get anywhere close to the way reality is.

    No need for any more didaktikogenic misconception. My ongoing study into these subject has showed me the evolution is no longer a science it is a religion that is not to be questioned, just accepted…that is not how I was taught and understand the great wonders of science.

    Again, I call foul. I do not believe that you really have studied the science involved. Instead, it seems that you have credulously absorbed a great many of the creationist lies on this subject.

    So, I say again, what were your sources for this stuff?

  76. Jimmy Ray

    @Darth Robo Cool handle by the way. Certainly, I am not wanting to say that science not evolution is stating there is no God. It just appears by observation that the pro/con folks have divided into those two camps. Francis Collins is a Christian and a believer in evolution. My entire thing is, that it appears the argument is now so polarized due to the publicity of the extreme view points of each, it seems that science is lost and passion has taken its place.

    I agree with you theory is as good as it gets. The problem is, as it is taught, it is taught as absolute fact. I believe that didaktikogenic misconception is a problem for all science.

  77. Lawrence

    Nothing in science can prove or disprove the existence of “God” & nothing in Religion can prove or disprove anything in Science.

    In the end, they are oil & water – they just don’t mix (especially in school).

  78. Darth Robo

    Well, he didn’t get it from AIG. Even they know not to use the thermodynamics argument.

  79. Nigel Depledge

    Jimmy Ray said:

    Where does it say that Greg? The First Amendment seems to say just the opposite:

    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.

    So which part of “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion” makes you think it’s OK to teach one religious viewpoint in federally-funded schools?

    I am talking about science also and not science fiction.

    Actually, me old china, your previous posts seem largely founded in fantasy.

    Theories should be taught as just that, a theory and not a Law of science. This is not a problem in no other area of science save evolution.

    I think you will find, if you care to look, that Atomic Theory is indeed taught as fact, as are the Theory of Gravity, the Germ Theory of disease, and all other scientific theories that have a firm foundation in empirical data that is supported by a logical framework and confirmed predictions.

    Evolution is a fact – populations of biological organisms change over time. The mechanisms through which this occurs, as described in evolutionary theory, have been observed to occur. Predictions made by evolutionary theory have been confirmed over and over again. There are hundreds of transitional fossils. Phylogenetic trees constructed from morphological data concur with a high degree of significance with phylogenetic trees constructed from genetic data. And so on.

    Why? I am not advocating teaching religion is schools at all. No way, no how.

    Apart from claiming that the Bible is a correct source of scientific knowledge, you mean? And spouting out religious-founded “criticisms” of evolutionary theory.

    I am just advocating teaching science and not bad science.

    Based on your preceding posts, you are not qualified to judge the difference.

    Showing where and why folks believe evolution fits a scientific model and where it does not. Right now we are looking at two camps:
    Believe in God: Creationism/ID
    Do not believe in God: Evolution

    This is another creationist straw-man.

    Many people believe in God and accept evolution.

    However, all of the illogical and wrong-headed criticism of evolutionary theory arises from creationists.

    Really? have we really honestly boiled it down to that?

    No.

    That is a sad state on both sides for the overall health of science.

    How can you pretend to be so concerned over science standards when you have yourself claimed the Bible to be scientifically accurate in many instances?

    I strongly suggest you go and learn about the science. Talk Origins is a good starting place.

    However, if you wish to discuss the topic here, I will do my best to answer any specific questions you have.

  80. @Jimmy Ray,

    Educate yourself. Try googling “Establishment Clause.”

    “Theories should be taught as just that, a theory and not a Law of science. This is not a problem in no other area of science save evolution.”

    Again, educate yourself on the difference between a common everyday idea-theory and a scientific theory. Click my name for a link to notjustatheory.com.

    8)

  81. Nigel Depledge

    Jimmy Ray said:

    My entire thing is, that it appears the argument is now so polarized due to the publicity of the extreme view points of each, it seems that science is lost and passion has taken its place.

    Actually, I think, if you care to look, that as many religious scientists as atheist scientists have supported the teaching of good science (including evolution) in schools. And have you heard of the clergy letter project? Go and Google it.

    I agree with you theory is as good as it gets. The problem is, as it is taught, it is taught as absolute fact. I believe that didaktikogenic misconception is a problem for all science.

    I disagree with you. The thing is that the most widely-supported theories in science (evolution, atomic theory, gravity, germ theory, quantum mechanics etc.) have so much support from evidence that we can say something additional about them:

    Even if they are wrong in some way, they are at the very least good approximations of reality.

    We can state this with confidence because if these theories were wrong in any significant way, we would already know this.

  82. Nigel Depledge

    Gary Ansorge said:

    It is environmental change that drives evolution, with random DNA alterations in individuals that allows those individuals to survive and reproduce in the new environment,ie, by pure chance, SOME individuals have the right stuff, at the right time, to survive.

    There is, as you can imagine, quite a lot more to it than this.

    Gary, you describe natural selection very well, but there are other things that are just as important.

    The variation of individuals within a population, for instance, applies to all kinds of traits: strength, speed, thickness of fur, coloration, ability to metabolise specific nutrients etc. etc. all at the same time. So it will be combinations of traits that lead to survival or not in the face of environmental change.

    Some of this variation is random, and some is not. Heritable traits are received from parents according to Mendelian inheritance (more or less). New mutations can modify these traits in subtle ways, but can generally not cause gross anatomical changes. For instance, you will notice that all mammals have a mouth at one end and an anus at the other. Once this body plan had been arrived at as one means of surviving, there was no going back for organisms that had it. We can confidently predict that all mammals that descend from extant species will have a mouth at one end and an anus at the other.

    Creationism, of course, makes no such prediction. Thus, this prediction gives us one more test of evolutionary theory.

    Anyhow, a mechanism of evolutionary change that might be as important as natural selection is genetic drift.

    Imagine a population of organisms that are well-adapted to their environment and are under no strong selection pressures. In the absence of natural selection picking which individuals have the most offspring, there will generally be a random distribution of parental traits in each new generation of offspring. The mean average position of this set of traits is not constrained to remain the same. So, simply by the random increase or decrease of a set of traits in the population, the commonness or rarity of a trait can change. There is no reason that a rare trait will not simply disappear, or come to dominate the gene pool, provided there is no selection for or against that trait.

    This is genetic drift, and it is acknowledged among biologists as being an extremely important mechanism of evolutionary change – in some cases, perhaps more important than natural selection.

    Finally, there is the old claim of the anti-evolution lobby that even with longer legs or stronger shoulders or thicker fur, a population of, say, dogs is still a population of dogs. To answer this question really requires an understanding of the problems around defining what a species is.

    All classification of organisms is a human endeavour, a categorising of things that do not naturally form distinct groups. All individuals within a population vary – no two are identical (except identical twins, and even then there are usually subtle differences)*. So, for two closely-related species, how do we define the edge? A species used to be defined by a “type” specimen held at a museum of natural history, and more recently by a collection of perhaps a dozen such specimens. More recently still, it will be defined genetically. Nevertheless, we will have two populations of organisms, of which most of the individuals resemble the “type” fairly closely, but of which some individuals will resemble the “type” less closely. If the two species are closely-related, then they will resemble one another quite closely anyway, but the type collections will define a set of features that allow one to distinguish between the two (say, the hairs on the legs are coarser in one than the other, or the toenails are broader, or whatever). There will inevitably be a grey area in the middle, where it is very hard to distinguish members of one species from members of the other.

    But, we might say, does not the definition of species include the ability to breed and produce fertile offspring? So, we can distinguish them by cross-breeding experiments. Well, maybe or maybe not. Many closely-related species will be able to interbreed sometimes (this is particularly common in plants, where hybridisation is actually a common mechanism of speciation), so we then need to define a frequency of breeding success with which to draw the line. And, of course, any such distinction will be arbitrary.

    The entire concept of the species is arbitrary.

    So, to some back to the question of speciation (or, to be more accurate, the origination of differences large enough for us to call the organisms different kinds). If you have a population of (say) dogs that has split into two sub-populations (for whatever reason – perhaps some of them decided to follow a herd of one type of prey, while the others decided to follow a different type of prey). The isolation allows the two populations to change with very little contact and hence interbreeding to maintain a single gene pool. So they may change in appearance but still be able to interbreed (in principle), in the manner of domesticated dogs (in principle, all breeds of dog can interbreed, but they show a wide range of morphological variation, so there may be practical considerations that prevent interbreeding).

    Due to the selection pressure of hunting different prey, the morphology of the two populations will diverge, but for a long time they may still be able to interbreed. However, as changes accumulate, the potential for interbreeding success will gradually decrease, because reproductive biology, in the same way as morphology, will be changing, either in response to a selective pressure, or through genetic drift. Eventually, the reproductive success of a cross-breed will decrease to our arbitrary limit, and we would call the two populations separate species. When the two groups were just one population, being able to reproduce successfully with any partner offered the greatest chance of contributing to the next generation. With the two groups isoltaed, there is no mechanism to maintain their ability to interbreed, so their ability to do so will decrease, either through a selective pressure or through genetic drift. Eventually, interbreeding will become impossible. Speciation will have occurred.

    The claim of the “but they’re still dogs” lobby will no longer apply. The “variation within a kind” argument (to use the term quite loosely) – i.e. that variation within a kind is fine but that one kind cannot change into another or become two kinds – is missing a vital piece of the picture. There is no mechanism known that can prevent a series of small variations accumulating into large differences, particularly in the case of isolated populations as in my example.

    Oh dear. I had intended this to be brief, but it turned into a huge wall of text.

    * I acknowledge that this discussion is largely applicable only to multicellular organisms that reproduce sexually, where we can discuss variation in terms of anatomy rather than in terms of metabolism of intracellular signalling or efficiency of gene expression, but it can be applied in all cases with a little more thought.

  83. TheBlackCat

    @ Nigel: Very good overview, but there is one thing I should point out that you probably know but Jimmy probably doesn’t. What you described is not a hypothetical scenario, it has been observed both in nature and in the laboratory. There are a number of recorded speciation events that match the predictions put forward by evolution precisely.

  84. IAmMarauder

    @ Jimmy Ray:

    There are a few points you raise I would like to write about:
    * Not a single archeological [sic] discovery [sic] has ever proven the Bible incorrect.

    Actually, there are a few archaeological discoveries that have proven parts of the bible incorrect. There was a show recently on Nova about it: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/bible/

    I have not seen it, but from discussions about it there were points raised that refute parts of the bible – such as the dates concerning the downfall of cities which in the bible appeared to cover a few years but the evidence showed they fell over hundreds or thousands of years.

    Another archaeological discovery relates to Nazareth itself – it simply didn’t exist at the time of Joseph, and became a town a fair while after the (supposed) birth of Jesus.

    * Matter of fact, the Bible has documented ancient societies that many thought never existing, like Assyria

    The big question I have regarding this is when these societies were found was evidence found that they called themselves Assyria, or was that name given to them because that is what they were known as in the Bible? It would be like finding a large reptilian creature that was discovered to have bat-like wings and could fly – it would be called a dragon because it fits the depiction given it by stories.

    * Written over 2000 years ago, there are over 24K manuscripts dating all the way back making the Bible the most preserved work of all time. Compare that to the number two Homers Illad with 640 manuscripts.

    Just because it is a very old book, with a lot of existing copies, does not make it correct. Are the manuscripts that predate the bible more correct because they are older?

    * The Bible has proven itself as a trustworthy source of information. As a matter of fact, I strongly disagree with your statements that the Bible does not prove or have any science in it.

    While parts of it have been proven to be correct, much more of it has been proven to be incorrect. I will use the analogy of the broken (analogue) watch – it is correct twice a day but one shouldn’t use it to provide an accurate measure of time.

    As for the various bible quotes “proving” that it is scientifically correct – I read them all and most are vague at best.

    Lets take your argument of “Paramount importance of blood in life processes (Leviticus 17:11)”. Levitcus 17:11 reads: “For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.”

    This, to me, reads more about the spilling of blood to atone for a grievance, not as a description of the importance of blood. Even if it did, it would be well know that spilling someones blood would cause death – there were plenty of examples of someone being cut and bleeding to death.

    Also, there are many examples of where it is just plain wrong. You example of the Gravitational field (Job 26:7) is one: “He spreads out the northern skies over empty space; he suspends the earth over nothing.” The planet Earth is not suspended over nothing – it is held in place primarily by the gravitational pull of the Sun. Also, if “He” spread out the northern skies, who is responsible for the southern skies? I know they are there – I live in the Southern Hemisphere and we have a sky here…

  85. Gary, Darth, IAmMarauder, TheBlackCat, and especially Nigel, I am really glad that you were here today. I haven’t the knowledge or skills that you have proven to possess, and am proud to have individuals such as yourself on my side.

    Therefore, I would like to present to each of you the first ever “Knurl Knarlssen Award for Excellence in Science and Critical Thinking”. And there’s A Sky Full of Stars in my name. Relax. You’ve earned it. (Yeah, it’s not really worth anything, but it’s the best I can do.)

    To @TheBlackCat Says:
    January 23rd, 2009 at 12:14 pm : If you have the time, could you do me a really big favor and give me a couple of examples of fact/theory/law that I can think about and use? I know what the differences are, and I know what you meant, but I work in a business field and don’t know any true examples to speak of.

  86. Nigel Depledge

    @ Knurl, thank-you, I am touched.

    @ Black Cat – yes, you are right. I got so caught up in the explication that I omitted to mention that these mechanisms have been observed to occur.

  87. Radwaste

    I object to the presentation of “Intelligent Design” because it is promoted by liars.

    One of these, not mentioned in the Kitzmiller case, is that “the Bible is 2000 years old”. That’s a crock. Not only was it edited by the Council of Nicea because it wasn’t good enough, Protestants didn’t have a voice until after ~1570AD and Martin Luther.

    But Jimmy Ray and similar folk were anticipated by Saint Augustine about 1600 years ago:

    “It not infrequently happens that something about the earth, about the sky, about other elements of this world, about the motion and rotation or even the magnitude and distances of the stars, about definite eclipses of the sun and moon, about the passage of years and seasons, about the nature of animals, of fruits, of stones, and of other such things, may be known with the greatest certainty by reasoning or by experience, even by one who is not a Christian. It is too disgraceful and ruinous, though, and greatly to be avoided, that he [the non-Christian] should hear a Christian speaking so idiotically on these matters, and as if in accord with Christian writings, that he might say that he could scarcely keep from laughing when he saw how totally in error they are. In view of this and in keeping it in mind constantly while dealing with the book of Genesis, I have, insofar as I was able, explained in detail and set forth for consideration the meanings of obscure passages, taking care not to affirm rashly some one meaning to the prejudice of another and perhaps better explanation.” – De Genesi ad literam 1:19–20, Chapt. 19 [AD 408]

  88. Bonvoy Hodges

    Limited number of Jimmy Ray bumper stickers
    still available…never mind.

  89. Gary Ansorge

    Knurl: Tanks! I’m happy to be remembered.

    Nigel: I was trying to follow the old KISS rule. I am quite aware that protein expression can be affected by environmental influences, which feed back to DNA control mechanisms, etc.
    But KISS was paramount in importance in my effort. Perhaps it was TOO KISSY???(the Y stands for YEC).

    I’m beginning to think we’re trying to explain rainbows to people blind from birth or perhaps it’s similar to the old research that showed how a 4 year old could not comprehend how a tall, thin glass could hold the same amount of water as a short, fat glass, but the same child at 5 has no such problem. MAybe scientific methodology really is not comprehensible to some people because of neurological developmental differentials. Which says we’re spinning our wheels, trying to explain rainbows,,,bummer,,,

    GAry 7

  90. ExFundie

    As a science teacher in Texas, this story makes my heart sink. It is obvious that creationists desire to water down the teaching of science so that their religious beliefs can still be taught to children. It is not just evolution either. They look to call into question basic geological understandings as well. It is all just wrong, but of course I don’t tell kids that. I tell them that I am not a religious scholar and cannot speak to questions of a biblical nature. I wish that in turn biblical scholars would do the same for science teachers… Don’t speak to that which you are not qualified to do so. I think it should already be lesson learned when you reflect on what the circumstances around Galileo taught us… ie, the bible cannot be used as grounds to teach science.

  91. Nigel Depledge

    Gary, I think you did a better job of KISS than I.

    On the other hand, there are several aspects of evolutionary theory that are not obvious but are quite straightforward and common-sensical once you have had them explained, and if I sense an opportunity to help anyone (in this case, readers of this blog) to understand in greater depth, I usually leap at it.

    I do not expect to change the minds of Don Snow or Jimmy Ray. They will not change until they wish to.

  92. PeterC

    One problem I always have with this arguement is that the pro-ID / creationists seem to be, with respect, using the word “religion” deceptively.

    By “religion” they mean “Evangelical/Baptist USA-style protestant Christianity”. They most definitely do not mean “religion”. They would be utterly horrified if the “wrong” religion was chosen. It seems somewhat hypocritical to me to demand that “religion” be taught in schools when what you mean is “MY religion”.

    Honestly, those above who are arguing against the teaching of the current best theory for the diversity of life in Biology classes and think that “religious” creation theory should be included, do you really mean that? Honestly, when your child comes home from shool talking about how Allah created the world, or how Zeus ripped the testicles from Chronus, or about the Norse World Tree, or how Xenu dumped aliens into volcanoes then atomic bombed them, or, for that matter, the Hindu, Bhuddist, Native American or Sikh creation stories, will you nod wisely and say “yes, I am glad you are being taught the alternatives to Evolutionary Theory” or will you say “how dare they teach my kids something other than what my pastor says!”?

    In addition, I think you want to think carefully about whether or not you really want what you’re asking for… OK, teach religion in science class. Please. Using proper scientific methodology. Allow science teachers to point out errors in consistency and logic in religious texts. Allow experiments to be done to attempt to prove the power of prayer ["this half of the class prays for the coin to come up heads...." for a thousand flips]. Let science teachers critically analyse and disect evidence for biblical claims, such as resurrection. Allow them to point out other “theories” such as comas, fakery and so on and lead the class in an analysis of what is the most likely apparent reason.

    You might not get the converts you’re looking for – more likely, kids would go home and get into trouble with their parents when they get home and tell them they’ve discovered in school today, in their legally-permitted “The science of religion” classes, that there is no actual direct evidence for the existance of a god.

  93. TheBlackCat

    @ Knurl: Sure, here are some examples:

    Fact: A fact, as I said before, is essentially the same as an observation. “The sky is blue” is a fact. It also happens to be wrong, or rather incomplete. The sky can be red (at dawn or dusk), gray (when it is cloudy), black (at night), yellow (when there is smog), and probably other colors as well. Now this is not technically correct, you could say that an observation becomes a fact after it has held up many times under different situations, so an observation becoming a fact is sort of like a hypothesis becoming a theory (more on that later).

    Nevertheless, facts are not set in stone. Like all aspects of science they are tentative and can be refined or even refuted by later observations. A fact that is relevant to our discussions here is “populations of organisms change over time”. This could be called the “fact of evolution”. It is observed both in the laboratory, in nature right now, and in the fossil record. So saying evolution is not a fact is actually incorrect, evolution is a fact even in the scientific sense because it is a basic observation.

    Facts can also be more specific and quantitative in nature. For instance “the mass of the Earth is 5.9742 × 10^24 kilograms is a fact. It is known to be incomplete, we can always take it to more decimal places, but it is still a fact. The physical constants, such as the mass and electric charge of an electron, the universal gravitational constant, and the spontaneous decay rate of Uranium 235 are all facts.

    They can also be more specific. The result of any experiment, if repeated a few times and always giving a similar result, is a fact. It is not a very general fact, it only applies under a very small range of inputs, but it is still a fact. So for instance in science class where you combined two materials, started a chemical reaction, and measure the temperature over time. That record of temperature over time is a fact.

    So to put it simply, facts are descriptions of what is or what was. They can describe objects, groups of objects, events, just about anything. They can be descriptive or quantitative in their nature. But they never, under any circumstances, say why something is how it is. They are the “who”, “what”, and “where” of science.

    Law: laws are similar to facts in that they are descriptions. They are more quantitative in nature, however. They describe, in simple mathematical relationships, the relationship between cause and effect. Newton’s three laws of motion are laws. For instance f=ma, force equals mass times acceleration. With this, if you know the mass of an object and its acceleration you know the force being applied to it, or you can determine its mass by comparing the force to the acceleration caused by that force. It is also known to be wrong, however. It applies well (that is, within our ability to measure) to medium masses, medium forces, and medium accelerations, but it breaks down when either of those values gets really large or really small. If you get into the large end of some of those values, the formula is actually f=ma/(sqrt(1-v^2/c^2) where v is relative velocity and c is the speed of light. This could also be considered a law, although it only works in inertial reference frames and high values of a or v.

    As for our discussion at hand, although I am not that familiar with population genetics (so someone please correct me if I am wrong), the Hardy–Weinberg principle is essentially a law related to evolution. It is essentially similar to Newton’s first law, stating that once it achieves equilibrium of the frequency of alleles (different versions of the same gene) in a population remains constant unless acted on by one of several outside forces (such as genetic drift, gene inflow/outflow, or non-random mating). It is more quantitative in nature than I actually understand, and is apparently able to determine the allele frequency based on the genotype frequency.

    So to summarize, a law is a simple mathematical relationship between inputs to a system. It is the “how” of science.

    Hypothesis: while facts and laws or descriptions, a hypothesis is an explanation. It explains why a specific subset of all facts and laws are the way they are. It does not aim to explain all facts and laws, although the more facts and laws a theory can explain the better it is. A hypothesis must also make predictions. Since the explanation must cover the underlying principles determining the behavior of a collection of facts and laws, those principles must be generalizable beyond the specific set of situations we have already looked at. The hypothesis must say that, under new situations, if this explanation is right we should see certain specific new facts and laws apply. For instance the theory of special relativity, for instance, predicted that the decay rate of radioactive isotopes should depend on their velocity relative to the observe. This is because as they speed up relative to the observer time for them slows down, and so although the decay rate as the particle sees it is constant decay rate as an observer sees it changes. This prediction turned out to be true.

    This gets us to the transition from hypothesis to theory. The key point about a hypothesis is that it does not only explain facts and laws we have already seen, but also predicts new ones that have not been checked yet. So, the first task after making a hypothesis is to determine these news facts and laws and start testing them. In a given situation, you expect a certain observation to occur. So you either create that situation (this is an experiment) or go out and find it in nature (astronomers are pretty much forced to do this). If the result is what you expected, this adds support for your theory. If it doesn’t, you must either revise or abandon your theory. Make correct predictions hundreds, thousands, maybe even tends of thousands of times and never make incorrect ones and your hypothesis might be considered to have enough support to be considered a theory.

    A theory is merely a hypothesis that has been tested so many times that it can be considered a reliable predictor of other, new situations. Reliable does not mean true. It only means it makes correct predictions. It could be making correct predictions for the wrong reasons (like the phlogiston theory of combustion, which made correct predictions for a while because it was almost the opposite of what really occurred). However, if you make enough observations under a wide enough range of circumstances you can have a high degree of confidence in future predictions. It still only applies to its specific subset of phenomena. For instance, although general relativity is a very good explanation for certain phenomena in physics it is known to be useless for others. Similarly, natural selection is known to break down when we get to very small populations where genetic drift can become a more dominant influence or largely sterile environments (such as new islands or an area after a volcanic eruption) where adaptive radiation starts playing a larger role.

    In a practical sense theories can be considered true for the purposes of later experimentation. You can assume a theory is true when designing an experiment looking at something else. If the theory turns out to be false, you will find experiments refuse to give the results you expect. For an example we have enough confidence in our theories of vibrations of atoms at low temperatures that we can feel confident using atomic clocks to time experiments of other phenomena. If our ideas were wrong the atomic clock would not give the right results and we would find out we have a pattern. Similarly our hypotheses regarding genetics are based on the assumption that the atomic theory of matter is true. If it wasn’t true we would see weird behavior with our genetics. So when something becomes a theory we move from explicitly testing it to implicitly testing as part of another experiment. We use it as an underlying assumption when we are testing new hypotheses. If the underlying assumptions are wrong then nothing would work properly. This is also the point where you can be confident enough to start using the theory in practical applications. For evolution this could be predicting the spread of an infectious disease, growing new crops (our entire modern agricultural system is based on this), or designing new electrical circuits based on genetic algorithms.

    This reminds of two quotes that I think reveal what I am trying to say here:

    May every young scientist remember and not fail to keep his eyes open for the possibility that an irritating failure of his apparatus to give consistent results may once or twice in a lifetime conceal an important discovery
    -Patrick Blackett

    Remember, then, that it [science] is the guide of action; that the truth which it arrives at is not that which we can ideally contemplate without error, but that which we may act upon without fear; and you cannot fail to see that scientific thought is not an accompaniment or condition of human progress, but human progress itself.
    -William Kingdom Clifford

    The more correct predictions a theory makes the more confidence we can have in it. At a certain point a theory has made such a large number of correct predictions in all areas of the phenomena it aims to explain that it can be considered essentially true. It is still open to debate and refutation, but the change that it will ever actually be refuted is negligible. If a fact or law is found that seems to contradict the theory then it is more likely the fact or law is wrong than that the theory is wrong. Evolution reached this point probably in the 1950′s, and the correct predictions it has made have only become better since then.

    By now you hopefully see that a theory is the pinnacle of science. It is easy to come up with a fact, anyone can do it. A law is a bit more difficult, but doesn’t require any special insight. All it requires is measurements. Coming up with a theory, however, is something that not everyone can do. It requires insight. It requires seeing how different and seemingly unrelated facts and laws all fit together in a coherent manner. It requires going beyond just what you can see and elucidating the underlying nature of things.

    There is one more term that needs to be defined, and that is a model. A model, to me, seems to cover two distinct and unrelated class of principles, but I am open to correction or better insights.

    The first type of model is a collection of facts, laws, and theories that form a coherent picture of an entire subset of science. The so-called “standard model” of particle physics is such a model. The description of brain function that we use today could also be considered a model.

    The second type of model is at the opposite end of the spectrum, and in it you sort of take a step backwards from a theory. A law is a relationship between cause and effect that is independent of any theory explaining it. However, in order to test a hypothesis or theory in some cases you need to develop law-like mathematical principles that are able to make predictions about new relationships between cause and effect. This is a model, a testable quantitative relationship between cause and effect that is derived from a theory, rather than from direct observation of nature. The so-called Hodgkin-Huxley model is a specific quantitative prediction of the amount of voltage across a neuron over time given certain input values to the neuron. It is based on a proposed (and later validated) explanation for neural electrical behavior based on the flaw of sodium and potassium ions that was itself a hypothesis based on recorded neural electrical behavior after blocking different ions or ion channels. There was not enough to make a law, but there was enough to make a hypothesis and derive quantitative predictions from that hypothesis.

  94. Nigel Depledge

    Black Cat, thanks for a good overview. I’m sure there must be exceptions somewhere along the way (hey, isn’t that always the way?), but I think you have given a very good primer for how science progresses.

  95. Nigel Depledge

    PeterC said:

    One problem I always have with this arguement is that the pro-ID / creationists seem to be, with respect, using the word “religion” deceptively.

    Oh, yes, I think you hit the nail on the head here.

    I also think there’s even more to it than you go on to describe.

    Evolutionary theory is often accused of being a religion, mainly by people who either have no clue what they’re talking about or are deliberately attempting to muddy the waters so they don’t have to answer any hard questions (e.g. What has ID ever done for us?).

    At the same time (up until December 2005 anyhow), others were claiming that ID was not religion, no siree, it was good science. This argument culimnated in that shuddering heap of irony known as Excreted – whoops, sorry, I meant Expelled – in the trailer for which Ben Stein makes the egregious claim that science leaves no room for god as an explanation of natural phenomena. Yes, there are layers of irony, just like an onion . . .

  96. Knurl

    @TheBlackCat: Thank you very, very much. What you gave me is more than I was hoping for. I appreciate your time and effort.

    I moved from Arizona to Florida last year, and apparently ID was put down here last year. I have no delusions about them not trying again. They do not care that 2/3 of the human race does not believe in the bible, much less that most of Christianity does not share their own particularly limited view. I’m feeling a very strong need to get off my ass and help stop their insanity.

    To that end, I’ve been researching logical fallacies and the “art” of arguing. Having a solid understanding of what science (and pseudoscience) is, how it works (doesn’t work), and why is is the best we have to work with (worst we have to work with) will certainly help enormously. I don’t care at all what anybody wants to believe, but forcing bronze age myths down everyone’s throat is just plain wrong and I’m not willing put up with it. I need to develop the skills to fight back.

  97. Knurl,

    You wouldn’t happen to be in the Panhandle area, would you? I have found that states which conatin a “panhandle” are monumentally DOOMED, and the panhandle are seems to be the most DOOMED of the entire state…

    PeterC, you get the Larian “Nailed it!” award. I will procure a government $800 hammer and send it to you via FedEx with a nifty plaque.

  98. Larian,

    No. I’m in a nice area of West Palm Beach. I’m not in a typical place or doing typical work. I don’t know yet what some people have meant here, but the indication is that “Religion” sort of rules here.

    i can’t comment properly now – just came home from a barbecue that a skeptical friend had. We had a some drinks. It’s Saturday night, and there’s A Sky Full of Stars.

    Please stay cool, my friend.

  99. IVAN3MAN

    @ Larian LeQuella,

    At appears that “panhandle” states are like the vermiform appendix — prone to infection!

  100. LOL @ IVAN3MAN! I love the analogy!

    You found skeptics in Florida? Lucky! :)

  101. Don Snow

    Bonvoy Hodges:

    More Don Snow bumpber stickers:

    Both Darwin and Gore have added a new depth of meaning to the phrase “Political Science”.

    Tons of circumstancial evidence remain circumstancial.

    Evolution has its trillions of data bites and
    Creation has its drillions of data bites.

    We don’t let your evolution bother us,
    please don’t let our prayers bother you.

    God creates; people devise, compose, construct, produce,
    manufacture, compile, assemble, rearrange and copy creation.

    The closest that people come to creating anything is procreation.

  102. Don Snow

    Greetings, all -

    I woke up early today, and decided to log on, come here, and take my medicine for sounding off on your blog.

    Such a dose of “medicine”!

    There’s more here that I can take care of, in two hours. I’ll be back, I hope, Tuesday or Wednesday night. I reckon it’s going to take all night, to respond in any responsible way to all of your posts.

    Just remember, I don’t think I’m going to save or convert any of you, nor that ya’ll will break my faith. What I want is for skeptics to respect ordinary and uneducated people, who believe in God. We’re the salt of the earth.

    I think I said it best, when I wrote words to the effect, “I accept and respect your mathematics which are beyond my comprehension; please respect my faith in a God beyond your comprehension.” I didn’t write for your to accept my faith, like I accept your word about the mathematics.

    One more Don Snow bumper sticker, then I start getting ready for work:

    I choose to let God create me in His image;
    You can choose to be descended from a monkey.

  103. Don,

    I wish others of your belief system would follow your advice. If they would just stay out of science classes, this would be a non-issue. However, they are insistent on bringing ID into the classroom. And I highly encourage you to read PeterC’s post. THAT is really the issue they are putting forth.

  104. Darth Robo

    Don, thanks for letting us all know about your particular religious opinions. Again. You say you want some respect, but yet despite the masses of evidence against your position, not only do you refuse to take it on board, but you refuse to refute it and instead give us the “please be nice to me” routine. Evolution has tons of evidence to back it up, yes. But you prefer to call it “circumstantial evidence”, mainly because you don’t have a better explanation. You mention something about “creation”, claim it has evidence to back it up, yet you don’t present it. Of course, that’s because we both know that the only “evidence” you have is some writings from a 2,000 year old religious tome, and your own incredulity.

    Your prayers don’t “bother me”, as I’ve already pointed out that many many many religious people have no problem accepting evolution. But of course, you prefer to try to put the two at odds, so you can play the victim. I feel I have to point out to you AGAIN, that it is people like yourself who are actively attempting to insert religious apologetics into public schools, where they DO NOT belong. You can play the fundie martyr complex as much as you like, but the simple fact is, that religion is NOT being attacked by simply keeping it out of school science classes.

    If you want to be respected, you can start by doing a few things: 1 – Stop playing the victim. It’s pathetic, and you are not the victim here. 2 – Stop spouting off your religious opinions where they have no place and demanding they be respected. They don’t deserve to be respected just because you say so. People can respect your beliefs just fine as long as you aren’t shoving them in their faces. 3 – Go tell all your fundie friends to stop trying to force religious apologetics into public schools. They are lying for God. They are breaking the law. And they are damaging the education system in the process. Plus, if any of this leads to another court case, the creationists WILL lose (again, just like they always do) and the school may end up paying the bills.

    To end this post, I will imagine myself as a believer for a moment:

    Don, you display much hubris in your final two “bumper-sticker” sentences, by attempting to place limits on the Almighty God, our Lord and Creator. Quite how you determined these ‘limits’ is beyond me. Perhaps God thinks you are more special than everyone else and decided to grant you this exclusive knowledge?

    I prefer to let God create in any manner of His own choosing, (not ours, not mine, nor yours) as nothing is beyond His great power, for He is Lord.

    Looking at the evidence, it would appear that one of the many amazing tools at His disposal… is evolution.

  105. IVAN3MAN

    @ Don Snow: God creates…

    Reproduction_for_Dummies

  106. Nigel Depledge

    Don Snow said:

    Such a dose of “medicine”!

    Yeah, maybe that’s cos you were so full of wrong. Didja thinkm of that?

    There’s more here that I can take care of, in two hours.

    Don, there’s more here than you have shown willing to understand, never mind address rationally.

    I’ll be back, I hope, Tuesday or Wednesday night.

    To be frank, unless you’re prepared to either educate yourself about biology or accept the hard-won expertise of the science community, I hope you don’t come back.

    I reckon it’s going to take all night, to respond in any responsible way to all of your posts.

    Just remember, I don’t think I’m going to save or convert any of you, nor that ya’ll will break my faith. What I want is for skeptics to respect ordinary and uneducated people, who believe in God. We’re the salt of the earth.

    No-one here iss trying to break your faith, Don. The key thing is that reality exists and science has discovered quite a lot about how that works. Wishful thinking won’t change the way reality is.

    Salt of the earth or not, until you accept that an opinion founded in ignorance does not have the same value in science as the opinion of an expert, you won’t get any respect. In science, respect must be earned. You may not realise it, but thousands of scientists have earned your respect when it comes to biological sciences.

    I think I said it best, when I wrote words to the effect, “I accept and respect your mathematics which are beyond my comprehension; please respect my faith in a God beyond your comprehension.” I didn’t write for your to accept my faith, like I accept your word about the mathematics.

    Despite what you may think, none of the above posts diss your faith. All that was being disputed was (a) you were considering your opinion of equal value to those of experts in biological science; (b) you expect others to accept your personal opinion of how the world works but you do not accept or understand that your opinion is irrational (i.e. you believe in something for which there is no evidence); and (c) you seem to have swallowed (and be regurgitating) arguments used by the creationists without accepting or understanding how deeply flawed they are.

    One more Don Snow bumper sticker, then I start getting ready for work:

    I choose to let God create me in His image;
    You can choose to be descended from a monkey.

    Which just goes to show how little you understand what you have attempted to gainsay. There is no choice. Reality is what it is, regardless of what we may think or wish. You are descended from a monkey just as much as I am – and if there is a god, this is the only mechanism through which he could have created people. No other explanation tees with the evidence.

    Speaking of which, if you do wish to continue debating evolution here, I would really appreciate it if you could first take the trouble to become informed about the science.

    First, the evidence for evolution (in a very brief summary):
    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/

    Second, arguments made by creationist literature, and why they are so poor (whether on grounds of logic, grounds of ignorance of science, or grounds of ignoring or distorting evidence):
    http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/
    Please do not use any of these arguments. They have never been convincing.

  107. Don Snow said,

    “I choose to let God create me in His image;
    You can choose to be descended from a monkey.”

    That’s one of the most common errors people make when discussing evolution. Humans did not evolve from today’s monkeys. At one point, millions of years ago, humans and monkeys shared the same ancestors. There’s a clear distinction.

    8)

  108. TheBlackCat

    @ Larian:

    “You found skeptics in Florida? Lucky!”

    You do realize where James Randi lives, right? Although I lived in Florida for over a decade so I can say he is the exception rather than the rule.

    @ Don:

    “Both Darwin and Gore have added a new depth of meaning to the phrase “Political Science”.”

    Any science that has implications for the real world, that is all science, is going to have political implications. I would say that the political implications of the atomic theory of matter, half a century under the threat of impending nuclear war, are not trivial. The difference is that most people didn’t decide to just reject automatic theory because they didn’t like it. You could say this is because dropping the atomic bomb left not doubt, but the fact is at about the same time our entire agricultural system underwent a major overhaul based on evolutionary principles. That caused a massive increase in the amount of crops that could be produced and a massive decrease in the number of people needed to harvest them, leading to a mass exodus from farms to suburbs that resulted in our modern population distribution. It also led to the total collapse of the Soviet agricultural system, which for political reasons did not accept evolution and thus completely missed the green revolution that was sweeping the rest of the world. Countless people starved to death because they could not produce enough crops to feed everyone while the rest of the developed world had a massive food surplus thanks to the study of evolution.

    “Tons of circumstancial evidence remain circumstancial.”

    True, but irrelevant since we are not dealing with circumstantial evidence here, we are dealing with concrete mathematical, chemical, and physical predictions that have turned out to be true. The exact match between the genetic system found in all organisms on Earth and the predictions made by evolution half a century before, to give one of countless examples, is not “circumstantial”.

    “Evolution has its trillions of data bites and
    Creation has its drillions of data bites.”

    The fact that there is no such number as “drillion” actually makes this one ironically accurate, although I do not think that was your intention. Made-up numbers FTL.

    “We don’t let your evolution bother us,
    please don’t let our prayers bother you.”

    Yes, you do. You have said so on numerous occasions. If you weren’t bothered by evolution we would not even be having this discussion. Don’t try to take the moral high ground now, you are the one who came here and told us at length your problems with evolution.

    “I choose to let God create me in His image;
    You can choose to be descended from a monkey.”

    Things are how they are, whether we like it or not. I cannot choose what organisms I descended from any more than I can choose who my parents were. I cannot choose to ignore gravity, I cannot choose to be able to walk through walls, I cannot choose to be able to breathe underwater. This is exactly the problem we are trying to correct. We cannot change the universe just by choosing to believe it is different from how it is. The fact that you think you can choose to live in a different reality than the rest of us shows how you simply don’t get it.

    And we did not evolve from monkeys, we evolved from apes. Actually we ARE apes, whether you like it or not. We have all of the characteristics that define the ape group, and most apes are more closely related to us than they are to other apes. For instance gorillas and chimpanzees are more closely related to us than to orangutans, which are more closely related to us than gibbons.

    We did not evolve from any existing ape, we evolved from a now-extinct species of ape that also gave rise to chimpanzees (and that in turn evolved from a now-extinct ape that also gave rise to gorillas, and so on). That was once considered a “missing link”, but I think they have found a fossil ape that is either the last common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees or at least a very close relative.

    Monkeys are an entirely separate branch of the primate family tree, and although we do share a common ancestor with it that common ancestor was probably neither a monkey nor an ape but something in-between. It was certainly not any modern monkey or ape.

  109. Nigel Depledge

    The Black Cat said:

    Monkeys are an entirely separate branch of the primate family tree, and although we do share a common ancestor with it that common ancestor was probably neither a monkey nor an ape but something in-between. It was certainly not any modern monkey or ape.

    While this is correct, the ancestors of all apes may have been sufficiently monkey-like for us to classify them as a kind of monkey.

  110. TheBlackCat,

    Yes, I know where The Amazing lives. Although he’s down in that dongly bit of Florida, not in that terminally diseased Panhandle area (sort of a joke I have going with IVAN3MAN). And you are right, he’s an exceptional exception. :) Don is pretty normal for the residents of Florida I encounter. ;)

  111. Don Snow

    Well, I’ve spent two hours just reading and taking notes, to reply to all of your posts up to where I put my own “Don Snow bumper stickers”.

    I think I’ll work offline, to answer all of those. I have my limits. I’ve scanned this board’s member’s posts since my bumper stickers. Pretty much put downs, except for a few. So, I’ll shrug off those posts which intention were just to pat me back into the whatever.

    I respect you guys more than you think. I don’t respect public education and think it should be privatized.

  112. Nigel Depledge

    Don Snow said:

    I respect you guys more than you think.

    OK, fair enough. As you can probably tell from some of my preceding posts, this respect is not obvious.

    I don’t respect public education and think it should be privatized.

    There are good and bad ways to do that.

    On the “plus” side, public schools in the UK (yeah, privately-funded schools are called “public” because they will accept any fee-paying member of the public, as opposed to “private” schooling that is on a more select or individual basis, and both are separate from state-funded schooling) are often very good, because they can offer salaries that attract the best teachers and will usually have very good facilities for sports, science labs etc.

    On the negative side, privately-funded schools, especially in the USA, are free to teach any old nonsense (viz one commenter above who mentioned being taught by nuns, presumably in a privately-funded religious school, that thnuder was caused by clouds bumping into each other).

    Whatever way schooling is funded, there must be some kind of standardisation, so that people can assess a person’s qualifications (e.g. in job applications). Although it is far from perfect, the National Curriculum in the UK provides this. So even privately-funded schools must teach what is in the curriculum or their pupils will fail the exams. There is also evidence to suggest that the UK’s National Curriculum has been gradually making the exams easier and easier (consistent year-on-year increases in the number of pupils getting grade C or above cannot be due to a corresponding gradual increase in the quality of pupils or teachers – such increases would give intermittent improvements, with intervening periods of stability, and would show a lot more fluctuation due to statistical noise). Also, anecdotally, as a PhD student demonstrating practical classes to undergraduates, there was a noticeable difference between my own undergraduate peer group and a comparable group 3 or 4 years later.

  113. Don Snow

    I was raised to respect education, among other things. Until the 1960′s, I did respect all levels and sources of education. However, after the doings of college professors and students with drugs, with regard to Vietnam, with regard of disrespecting our government, all that rancor eroded my respect for higher education. Since the 1990′s after listening to parents about what their children had to swallow in public schools, my respect for public education began to wane. During the first decade of this millenium and century, after listening to presentations about and reading articles about things taught and some not learned at almost all levels of education, I have merely a nominal, courtesy respect for public education and firmly consider privatizing public education as a good remedy. More on that later.
    Anyway, I still fully respect education; it’s just some of the places it comes from, which have lost my respect.

    In introduction to my replies to many of you, for 23 1/2 years of the first 26 years of my life, I devoted my self to the study, and in due time, my participation in, the military life. By then, I had learned, from a distance, the horrors of war. My second bias is family, then religion, then music then history, then science.
    That’s the way it goes: God, country and family in the beginning of my life and as above in my 65th year.
    I still love my country: the land, the people, the flora, the fauna and the waters, etc: but, have great concern whether or not a government of the people, FOR THE PEOPLE (which is left out of the motto on President Obama’s web page) and by the people on this planet. Our U.S. of A. is the only place where, so far, that experiment has prospered. Millions of warriors, soldiers, Marines, sailors, airmen and civilians…on both sides…have died to preserve and forward our government of the people, for the people and by the people.
    Our U.S. Constitution as ratified in 1792 and its first Ten Amendments is a cornerstone…too many on both sides have died, been crippled and lost love ones to consider it other than the cornerstone of our way of life; so, imho, it is not and cannot be a “living document”. I will share my private opinion, which many of you may probably scorn: although not necessarily our Declaration of Independence, I do hold the viewpoing that that Constitution and its Bill of Rights were Divinely inspired. So, now you know where I’m coming from. Let us agree to disagree if that fits, but the above is not open to debate: it’s the way I am.

    I want to seriously say and ask ya’ll to read closely the following. Our nation has government establishment, religious establishments, military establishment, legal establishments, educational (including science; I’m sure all of you recognize that no one science may truthfully claim, nor pragmatically claim at least, priority nor superiorority to any other science) establishments, economical establishment, industrial establishment, etc. All of these are necessary and equal to each other in importance, to our way of life. That’s my humble opinion. It irratates me to see any member of any of those and other establishments in our nation, attempt to vaunt themselves over the other establishments ;and their members.

    I don’t mind if any or all of ya’ll read my posts to the other members.

    I want to thank Phil Plait for allowing me to post on his blog. I want to thank each and every one of you for at the very least, a civil reply to my posts. And I deeply appreciate the respect shown to me by ccpetersen, Todd W, and Lillian and a few other members whose names I can’t recall. Sincere apology to those few other members. I’m working off line. I aim to write this, then copy and paste it to the submissal window on the BA blog.

    Now, my first reply was the only one I forgot to write the name of to whom I’m replying. Sorry. You replied to my comments which included the criminalization of religion.
    Darth Robo, was that you?
    Enough of religion attacking science or of science attacking religion and of claims to that effect. I think that some proponents of each defend their respective choice; and that that defense is mistaken for an attack by, by the member(s) of the other respective choice. I also think that simple propagation of either is construed as an attack by some members of the other establishment.
    I still think, your reply notwithstand, that making laws agains ordinary or traditional behavior, including religious, is criminalization of that behavior. I’ve been around, and I’ve seen a lot, and my opinion of this is based on those experiences and readings.
    I don’t criticize evolution; I think I critique descent of species.
    The only thing I called “woo-woo” (to hand one of your favorite words back to you about a quite questionable tenet), is the tenet “descent of species” in Dawin’s original thesis. Whether in your posts nor in other of my readings, I have found no firm evidence supporting that tenet and absolutely no proof. It won’t be the first time that science, or Darwin, was wrong. In my experienced opinion, descent of species, if not “woo-woo”, certainly remains fantasy.
    On my return to college, you deduct correctly. I would take one course a semester. The first is vocal music and the second Astronomy 101.
    I have my choice of which science, Citizen. I also deplore dumbing down. I wonder if some high school drop outs scorn dumbing down, too and go elsewhere.
    As far as people not worshiping Darwin nor science, I think that everybody has a natural desire to worship.
    The relgious direct that natural desire to God. I think that non-believers have that desire, and replace God with another object of worship; such as Darwin, science, some tenet of science; money; politics; law enforcement; education; etc.; and make these other objects of worship sacred to them, because of their own desire to worship. That’s my studied opinion, after decades of observation among many different situations.

    papajeno (can’t read my own writing, aplogize if mispelled):
    I have read a few twentieth century biologists books, which included their views on evolution. My ignorance, then, stands incomplete.

    ccpetersen:
    You’re correct and it works both ways. When educators try to replace religion with science, instead of including both, they are wrong. (see my reply to Greg for my rebuttal to your probable dispute).

    IAmMarauder:
    Well, sir or madam, I accept that I lean toward a Creationist view in your eyes and in fact. Actually, I’m Catholic. My personal opinion is that there are allegorical, literal, historical, prophetic and poetic passages in the Holy Bible; and that it should be read prayerfully, to recognize what’s being read.
    I was taught to question authority by my sophomore year world history teacher; thereafter, I unswervingly questioned him. I was taught to accept authority by my father; so I accepted and now honor his; and I accept the authority of church interpretation of holy scripture (the Catholic church has had its lesson with making pronouncements about science). In science, I investigate how many different authoritive sources say what, about any respective subject. Usually, there’s disagreement among them. So, then, I choose which source to go by. So, although there’s a whole lot I don’t know, I think that I am neither ill- nor un- informed.

    TheBlackCat:
    Thanks, seriously, for verifying the predictive capability of a theory of evolution with the “tektaalik” lesson.
    Genesis’ first creation account looked to parallel biological development, that I’ve read. Let’s agree to disagree. I probably read other authorities than you have.

    John Keller:
    I agree.

    GaryAnsorge:
    I meant comprehension of my faith (in God).
    I agree that science is knowledge. I just think that that knowledge was always there; and imho was discovered first, then verfified by the scientific method. I also think that there’s more knowledge waiting to be discovered.

    Nigel Depledge:
    You come across like a drummer who thinks I’m your drum. I’m neither your drum nor anybody’s victim.
    I don’t think that recognizing the truth of how God effected His creation (theory of evolution) is mankind’s highest intellectual achievement. Neither is the Holy Bible; that was revealed to people by God, His prophets and His son come in the flesh. I think that mankind’s highest intellectual achievement was first, astronomy; then mathematics, then the need for sanitary disposal of human waste and how to do that; and then, the discovery and articulation of what had been in plain sight for millenium and under the noses of and first verbalized by two pagan Greek philosophers 2,600 years ago (and other any other observant and thinking persons’ noses): to wit, the theory of evolution. Now, let’s not argue – you’re entitled to your opinion and I’m entitled to mine. Agree to disagree, OK?
    I shoulda known, you don’t like common terms for different stories. I did not do that to agitate; I did that to put evolution on the ground, off of its pedestal. It reamins a vigorously and thoroughly investigated story, imo.
    Naw, it’s academic politics from which evolution has most suffered. Such in house politicing has kept Darwinism in the limelight and blocked or tried to suffocate twentieth century biologists from their contributing their finding. For example, Stephen Jay Gould in his [U]Ever Since Darwin[/U] asserts that mutation happens more often than taught, in so many words.
    Have I any knowledge of what the theory says? My first grade teacher in 1949, and many media outlets since, said “…people are descended from monkeys.” I have ever since questioned that. And so far, I have found no proof for that statement. I doubt I ever will, because I read in a science magazine (either Nat’l Geogrtaphic or the Smithsonian I forget which) that the evolutionary tree shows a common ancestor from which all primates branch.
    Making a living has every thing to do, with learning a true understanding of how the world works: because it’s us ordinary people at all our respective jobs and callings…that…make…the…civilized…world…work. That’s our first environment. Then, city and town people later learn about the natural world. Country people and hunters learn how the natural world works, with their hands on experience, imho. I forgot to say, I’m a city boy raised by a country mother and a small town father (he USAF for 29yr).
    Nigel, until 1930 in US of A and late nineteenth century in UK, religon has been the cradle and source and nurse of both science and education. You should respect that.
    Sir, on much we disagree. Rather than for you to go on and on and on and me write and write and write, let’s jes agree to disagree? Okedokee? Thank you very much.

    Greg:
    Upon several close readings, focusing on the historical context of its writing, I find that the First Amendment, not Thomas Jefferson, allows anything, including religion, to be taught in a public school. It’s Thomas Jefferson in his writings separate from the US of A Constitution, who declares separation of church and state. And his personal writings are not, that is to say “un”-, Constitutional.
    It is my sad discovery, that government mandated education forces different social experiments on different generations of students. As long as education remains a government mandate upon our children, it looks like it’s been prostituted to serve as government propaganda. That’s why, I think that privatization of public education will free education itself from being pimped like a prostitute, by the government.
    Let me be blunt. A child’s mind is not the property, responsibility, just authority nor concern of any level of government. It is solely God’s and the parents’ concern, responsibility, property, and under solely those two authorities.

    SLC:
    I’m Catholic. Prof. Ken Miller doesn’t have to worry about the Catholic church teaching creationism in public schools. Since he also is Catholic, he has no real say in what other churches do. Also, see my immeadiately prior reply to Greg.

    Todd W:
    We’re more alike than you think, you and I. Although, you may disagree with my post to Greg.
    I depend on science, just like everybody else.
    I have made a few statements, and been labeled “creationist”, “anti-science” and “ignorant”. In truth, I am Catholic, I appreciate science and I am not totally ignorant. I think that the above statements come across to me as knee-jerk reactions, because I question the authority of science ande dare to form my own opinions.

    Larian LaQuella:
    I accept church teaching about Genesis being allegorical. I could, not must, study outside the church to understand enough, to convince you that I understand what I’m saying. I understand that I am saying, “I question anything, and the aurthorites, that are not church..” It’s just that simple.

    OK, to focus again on the OP, creationism taught in public schools. To comment on both science and religion, the world is not doomed when the LHC is fired up, nor when creationism is taught in public schools. I think anxiety about either is much exaggerated. If you’ve read my replies to different members of your blog, you will understand why I think that.
    I wrote earlier, that I can choose between different authorites in science, when they disagree, which one to go by. I write now, I am aware of least two different moralites, from which to choose right and wrong. I get to choose which morality to follow, too. It’s wrong to take the children’s minds and bodies from the parents, since God assigns parents and children to each other by birth. He knows what He’s doing, and I don’t question that. The man I follow says, “Render unto God what is God and unto Caesar what is Caesars”. (Since that man also pulled a gold coin from a fish’s mouth to pay tax to Caesar, shouldn’t churches pay taxes, instead of accepting an exemption?) Anyway, I’ve seen somebody quoted as saying, “…the children are God’s” It’s my considered opinion, that as long as any level of government attempts or succeeds in alienating children from their parents with any type ofr education, then, that level of government has sown or nourished the seeds of strife.

    In closing, my understanding of histotry and myth had taught me that knowledge has been gained and lost, by a sucession of civilizations. Therefore, I conclude that that will happen, to this civilization, also. With that temporary nature of civilization in mind, is why I think the religion I have chosen will endure through the ages. I am closing, without answering further posts to me, because I need time to go to the blogs I ordinaryally frequent.

    Look, everytime I come here, for two weeks afterward, I have a mental hang-over. That’s why I come by so infrequently. I’ll drop in again, some other time. Todd W, thank you because you have probably suceeding in that in which I have failed: to gain some kind of respect for ordinary, even uneducated people.

    May the Almighty bless all of you and all of your loved ones, now and forever.

  114. Todd W.

    @Don Snow

    Just regarding the teaching creationism bit. Would you say that how to build a wooden box should be taught in a basic science or biology class, or should it be taught in a shop/carpentry class? Should color theory be taught in a basic science or biology class, or should it be taught in an art class? These same questions apply to creationism/ID. It is not science, and therefore does not belong in the science classroom, which is what the creationists/IDers are trying to achieve.

    All we are arguing is that moves like those that are occurring in Texas should not be allowed, and the intent, if not the actual verbiage, of those propositions is, in fact, against the law (i.e., in violation of the First Amendment). If creationists want their ideas taught in, say, a humanities course, social science, comparative religions, and so on, then that is fine.

    And, speaking of the First Amendment, Jefferson’s letters, of course, are not part of the law. However, they do provide insight into the intent of the text, which, in matters of law, is just as, if not more, important than the actual text of the law itself. It provides a framework in which to interpret the law.

    As far as government-subsidized education vs. private education, why not allow secular matters (such as science) to be taught by secular institutions and religious matters (such as creation stories) taught by religious institutions?

  115. Cheyenne

    “I choose to let God create me in His image;
    You can choose to be descended from a monkey.”

    At the risk of wading into territory that is very much over my head I do know some religious people who believe in Evolution and have come to the conclusion that God created the soul in his image. Not necessarily the physical body. One way to look at it is all.

  116. TheBlackCat

    Enough of religion attacking science or of science attacking religion and of claims to that effect. I think that some proponents of each defend their respective choice; and that that defense is mistaken for an attack by, by the member(s) of the other respective choice. I also think that simple propagation of either is construed as an attack by some members of the other establishment.

    No, a number of creationist organizations have, as their explicit goal, the destruction of science. This is not a matter of perception, this is not a matter of defense, this is a matter of explicit statements.

    I still think, your reply notwithstand, that making laws agains ordinary or traditional behavior, including religious, is criminalization of that behavior.

    You are contradicting yourself here. I thought you said before that the constitution was not a “living document”. Therefore, anything that violates the constitution, whether it is traditional or not, is unacceptable.

    I don’t criticize evolution; I think I critique descent of species.
    The only thing I called “woo-woo” (to hand one of your favorite words back to you about a quite questionable tenet), is the tenet “descent of species” in Dawin’s original thesis. Whether in your posts nor in other of my readings, I have found no firm evidence supporting that tenet and absolutely no proof. It won’t be the first time that science, or Darwin, was wrong. In my experienced opinion, descent of species, if not “woo-woo”, certainly remains fantasy.

    It would be nice if you told us what “descent of species” is. This is not a term used in biology that I have ever seen. Are you referring to one species changing into another (speciation)? If that is the case then you obviously didn’t read my posts, since I stated that this has been directly observed both in nature and in the laboratory. If you are talking about common descent, then there is mountains of evidence. Besides the fossil record, we also have shared biochemistry, shared genetic code, and shared genes across all species. This was a prediction of evolution, one made 100-150 years before the technology needed to test it was developed. Yet it turned out to be true in exquisite detail.

    On my return to college, you deduct correctly. I would take one course a semester. The first is vocal music and the second Astronomy 101.
    I have my choice of which science, Citizen.

    So not only do you know nothing about evolution, you are going to avoid learning anything about it. I suspect you will continue to hold your views despite this.

    As far as people not worshiping Darwin nor science, I think that everybody has a natural desire to worship.
    The relgious direct that natural desire to God. I think that non-believers have that desire, and replace God with another object of worship; such as Darwin, science, some tenet of science; money; politics; law enforcement; education; etc.; and make these other objects of worship sacred to them, because of their own desire to worship. That’s my studied opinion, after decades of observation among many different situations.

    There is a word for this: “projection”. Someone who has a certain character trait tends to assume everyone else shares this trait. Therefore, wherever they look they see that trait. Many people seem incapable of grasping the idea that not everyone is like them.

    The truth is that science is absolutely nothing like worship. There are no gods, no saints, no churches. Darwin is not worshipped, quite the opposite it universally-known amongst biologists that many of his ideas were wrong. The Origin of Species is not considered a religious text, it is considered an insightful but antiquated and outdated book that most biologists can’t be bothered to read since it really isn’t at all useful.

    You’re correct and it works both ways. When educators try to replace religion with science, instead of including both, they are wrong. (see my reply to Greg for my rebuttal to your probable dispute).

    Where have they done this? I don’t see anyone trying to force biology into sunday school classes or religious sermons.

    In science, I investigate how many different authoritive sources say what, about any respective subject. Usually, there’s disagreement among them. So, then, I choose which source to go by. So, although there’s a whole lot I don’t know, I think that I am neither ill- nor un- informed.

    There is no debate amongst authoritative sources on whether evolution is true. None. If you think otherwise then you are certainly ill or un-informed.

    Genesis’ first creation account looked to parallel biological development, that I’ve read. Let’s agree to disagree. I probably read other authorities than you have.

    No! Absolutely not. This is not a matter of “agree to disagree”. Forget what your “authorities” said, read the book! Let’s break down the sequence of events, okay?

    Reality (including only those events covered in Genesis 1, and not the countless others):
    1. The universe
    2. Light (hundreds of thousands of years later)
    3. The “heavens”
    4. Stars
    5. The sun
    6. Day and night
    7. The moon
    8. Solid land
    9. Water
    10. Oceans
    11. Sea creatures
    12. Land animals
    13. Plants (seed-bearing ones)
    14. Birds
    15. Humans

    Genesis 1 (numbering by the actual order of events)
    9. Water
    2/1. Light/the universe
    6. Day and night
    3/10. “Heavens” and oceans
    8. Solid land
    13. Plants
    5. The sun
    7. The moon
    4. Stars
    11. Sea creatures
    14. Birds
    12. Land animals
    15. Humans

    Now, honestly, do you really think those two order of events are even remotely similar? Even the most basic question, did the Earth form out of water or out of land, the writers had a 50/50 chance and they got it wrong. This is the problem with relying on authority instead of making at least a cursory effort to look at things yourself.

    I did not do that to agitate; I did that to put evolution on the ground, off of its pedestal. It reamins a vigorously and thoroughly investigated story, imo.

    It remains on its rightful pedastal as the most vigorously and thoroughly investigated story ever, more vigorously and thoroughly studied than any other scientific principle in history. You cannot reject evolution as “just a story” without rejecting all science, there is nothing in science that is as well-studied as evolution.

    Naw, it’s academic politics from which evolution has most suffered. Such in house politicing has kept Darwinism in the limelight and blocked or tried to suffocate twentieth century biologists from their contributing their finding.

    “Darwinism” is not in the limelight. Darwin was wrong about many things, everyone in biology knows this. Biology moved on from Darwin 100 years ago, and has continued moving since then. The fact that you are still so hung up on Darwin when modern evolution has progressed so much since then shows you know nothing about evolution, despite your assertions to the contrary. I don’t care what authorities you think you are following, your lack of knowledge is plainly obvious.

    For example, Stephen Jay Gould in his [U]Ever Since Darwin[/U] asserts that mutation happens more often than taught, in so many words.

    Yes, there is debate amongst biologist about the relative importance of different evolutionary mechanisms. Some think mutation is the most important, some think punctuated equilibrium, other genetic drift, others endosymbiosis, some evo-devo, and so on. There is no debate about whether evolution occurs. There is no debate about by what mechanisms it occurs (although new mechanisms do show up occasionally). The debate is on which mechanisms were most important in which situations. This is commonly misconstrued by creationists as being debate about evolution as a whole, but that is just a myth they have been using.

    Have I any knowledge of what the theory says? My first grade teacher in 1949, and many media outlets since, said “…people are descended from monkeys.” I have ever since questioned that. And so far, I have found no proof for that statement. I doubt I ever will, because I read in a science magazine (either Nat’l Geogrtaphic or the Smithsonian I forget which) that the evolutionary tree shows a common ancestor from which all primates branch.

    Yes, there is a common ancestor from which all primates branches. How does this contradict the fact that all monkeys and apes evolved from a now-extinct species of monkey that lived and died tens of millions of years ago? And of course there is no proof, science rejects the notion that there even is such a thing as “proof”. There is a huge amount of evidence, fossil evidence, anatomical evidence, behavioral evidence, developmental evidence, molecular evidence, genetic evidence, geographic evidence, and more.

    Upon several close readings, focusing on the historical context of its writing, I find that the First Amendment, not Thomas Jefferson, allows anything, including religion, to be taught in a public school. It’s Thomas Jefferson in his writings separate from the US of A Constitution, who declares separation of church and state. And his personal writings are not, that is to say “un”-, Constitutional.

    Teaching of a religious viewpoint in public schools is to establish that religious viewpoint as the official one endorsed by the government. You must either teach all religious viewpoints, or none of them. Anything else violates the “establishment” clause of the U.S. constitution. Jefferson is irrelevant to the issue.

    I wrote earlier, that I can choose between different authorites in science, when they disagree, which one to go by.

    This is part of your problem. Individual scientists can, and often are, wrong. Trusting an individual scientist and going by his or her authority alone is inherently unscientific. If you are going to trust authority, that you need to go by is the authority of science as a whole, the authority of the scientific community. You can always find an individual scientist to support any position you want. That is why we really on the collective of authority of all scientists. And in that there is absolutely no grounds for doubt: evolution is true.

  117. Cheyenne

    Has anybody seen the cover of the latest issue of New Scientist? It says this – no joke -

    “Darwin Was Wrong”

    “To mark the bicentenary of Charles Darwin’s birth, New Scientist asked eminent evolutionary biologists to outline the biggest gaps remaining in evolutionary theory”

    This is so cool that they are delving into this and asking the experts about it. Let’s just make sure we don’t let this magazine get into the schools though! Children need to be shielded and coddled – not exposed to grown up questions and making decisions for themselves.

  118. Did you read the actual article? It was a crappy sensationalist title, but in the end it says that Darwin was essentially correct given the knowledge base he had to work with. Oops!

  119. TheBlackCat

    @ Cheyenne: As I said several times, every biologist knows Darwin was wrong, and they have since his book first came out. He had a lot of important insight but he was not infallible. He couldn’t have been, they simply didn’t have the base of knowledge back then that they needed to really understand it. His theory, as he stated it, was fundamentally impossible and this was figured out almost immediately. It wasn’t until the early 1900′s that the problems were ultimately solved, and the theory has continued to change since then.

    No one has a problem with students learning this. I learned it in high school myself. The problem we have is with students being taught lies, like “evolution is wrong”. Darwin is not evolution, he was just the first one to come up with a nearly plausible mechanism by which it could occur.

  120. Cheyenne

    @Larian -

    Yes of course I read it. I thought they did a great job with it. And I agree the title was a bit, well, misleading.

    I’m a little disturbed with how some creationists are going to use it that cover page. You just know they are going to frame that in the Discovery Institute and show it at board meetings to try to discredit Evolution.

    What is the “Oops” bit?

    @TheBlackCat-

    I understand all of that. I learned about all of this in school too. And I don’t think kids should be taught lies. They should be taught the best science out there. What I think and have written about before is that we need to talk about the Creationism vs Evolution debate in schools (briefly, by well trained science teachers). Quite frankly we aren’t doing this and Creationism- in the US- as a movement is growing stronger every day. Evolution is losing (judging by the various polls out there), and that is pretty sad. So I think we need to try a new approach is all I’m saying.

  121. Oops was at the blunder of the title, and I do consider it a huge blunder on the part of the editors trying to manufacture controversy… As you said, now I have to beat back the IDiots who think that the title is the end all be all…

  122. Greg in Austin

    Cheyenne said,

    “Evolution is losing (judging by the various polls out there), and that is pretty sad.”

    What polls? Please cite them.

    Creationism, as a movement, has simply become more devious in regards to public schools in America.

    I’ve asked this before, and I’ll ask it again: Why spend more than 30 seconds discussing Creationism in a science class? It should be one sentence, “Creationism is not science, and there is no point in talking about it in Biology or Chemistry or Physics class.”

    8)

  123. Cheyenne

    Just Google it and you can find about 200 different polls that all say the same thing. Here’s just a few.

    worldweb.usatoday.com/news/politics/2007-06-07-evolution-poll-results_n.htm
    worldweb.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/11/22/opinion/polls/main657083.shtml
    worldweb//people-press.org/commentary/?analysisid=118 – That is a PEW Research one

  124. Cheyenne

    My short list of links to polls is held up in moderation right now. Should appear above this comment soon.

    “Creationism is not science, and there is no point in talking about it in Biology or Chemistry or Physics class.” -

    Sorry but I think it’s more complicated than that. I understand what you are saying. But I think we need a more open approach on this and not be so worried that the teachers are going to make a hash of it. And again, the reason I’m concerned is that kids are being taught one thing by their parents and churches and then another from the teachers. Since a majority believe in it, and it directly effects their understanding of science, I think it’s risen to a level where it can be (quickly) discussed in the classroom.

    I’m not pimping for Creationism. I’m saying let’s explore some options for getting Evolution accepted at a rate like the Scandinavian countries. ‘Cause what we’re doing now ain’t a working.

  125. Nigel Depledge

    Don Snow said:

    . . . with regard to Vietnam, with regard of disrespecting our government, all that rancor eroded my respect for higher education.

    So, this means, presumably, that you consider USA intervention in Vietnam to have been fully justified. Care to explain why?

    Also, do you consider the Nixon administration to have been worthy of respect?

  126. Nigel Depledge

    Don Snow said:

    . . . I do hold the viewpoing that that Constitution and its Bill of Rights were Divinely inspired. So, now you know where I’m coming from.

    Actually, I don’t know where you are coming from. Why do you consider the Constitution and Bill of Rights to be divinely inspired?

  127. Nigel Depledge

    Don Snow said:

    Enough of religion attacking science or of science attacking religion and of claims to that effect. I think that some proponents of each defend their respective choice; and that that defense is mistaken for an attack by, by the member(s) of the other respective choice. I also think that simple propagation of either is construed as an attack by some members of the other establishment.

    Hey, where have you been the last 45 years?

    Ever since the 1960s, religious creationists have been trying to enveigle religiously-founded mumbo-jumbo into science education. They see the intellectual respect that science has earned, and they want that, but they cannot earn it.

    This is a continued and concerted attack, by certain religious organisations (or religiously-motivated if not overtly religious in intent, such as the DI’s CSC) on science education in the USA (and, increasingly, elsewhere). There really is no other way to view it.

  128. Cheyenne

    @Greg -

    And just to add I think my personal experience with learning about Evolution in 6th grade biology might be coloring my thinking a bit too much. I had a fantastic teacher, when it came to learning about evolution he taught it really well (and dang he was a tough grader) but then we took (as I remember) about 2 classes (which I think is a bit much actually) discussing creationism and where there were (back in those days) some of the things that creationists bring up.

    Truly, it made me appreciate the scientific method more. And I think diving into the things that creationists bring up helps to cement ones belief in evolution if it’s done well (lobster eyes or fossils or whatever is in vogue for them now).

    But again, I would have to acknowledge that you need a darn good teacher to do this in the right way. But that’s what I had.

  129. Greg in Austin

    Hey Cheyenne,

    Oh, I thought you meant scientific polls, or at the very least polls among the scientific community. ;)

    Sounds like you had a good biology teacher. I think I did too. I took biology, astronomy, and environmental science in high school, and I don’t recall spending one hour out of 4 years discussing Creationism. I also don’t remember talking about the bible in geometry class (afterall, the bible says pi = 3) nor do I remember using cubits in woodshop class.

    You said, “And again, the reason I’m concerned is that kids are being taught one thing by their parents and churches and then another from the teachers.”

    I agree, and I had the same trouble. But if the root of the problem lies with the parents, why try to solve the problem in school?

    8)

  130. Nigel Depledge

    Don Snow said:

    I don’t criticize evolution; I think I critique descent of species.

    As The Black Cat points out, this is meaningless.

    Evolution is a theory that explains the origin of species, i.e. how new species arise from existing ones. If, by “descent of species” you mean how new species arise, this is the core of evolution.

    The fact of evolution is that species change over time. The theory of evolution explains how and why this occurs.

  131. Nigel Depledge

    Don Snow said:

    The only thing I called “woo-woo” (to hand one of your favorite words back to you about a quite questionable tenet),

    Hey, you were the one that started using the term in this thread.

    is the tenet “descent of species” in Dawin’s original thesis. Whether in your posts nor in other of my readings, I have found no firm evidence supporting that tenet and absolutely no proof. It won’t be the first time that science, or Darwin, was wrong. In my experienced opinion, descent of species, if not “woo-woo”, certainly remains fantasy.

    The formation of new species has been observed.

    This is beyond doubt. So, did you mean that you refuse to believe it has happened because the dozens or hundreds of biologists twho have reported observations of speciation events did not seek you out in person and explain it to you?

    Or did you mean that you dispute some of the mechanisms of evolutionary change? If so, which ones and why? And what makes you think that you have more insight into such things than the hundreds of thousands of biological scientists who have studied them in detail?

    Or were you just spouting off some creationist garbage because you think it makes you sound more knowledgeable than you are?

  132. Nigel Depledge

    Don Snow said:

    I also deplore dumbing down.

    Really?

    Cos, judging from your own words, you have only ever been exposed to the most dumbed-down strawman caricature of evolution, and you have not bothered to educate yourself about the detail before spouting off about it.

    You have quite clearly not bothered to read the links I provided.

  133. Nigel Depledge

    Don Snow said:

    As far as people not worshiping Darwin nor science, I think that everybody has a natural desire to worship.

    Yeah? Well, you think wrong.

    Of course, if you have evidence to support your supposition, I’m quite prepared to listen . . .

  134. Nigel Depledge

    Don Snow said:

    I have read a few twentieth century biologists books, which included their views on evolution. My ignorance, then, stands incomplete.

    If this is true, you have quite obviously not understood them.

    When educators try to replace religion with science, instead of including both, they are wrong.

    Isn’t it wonderful for all of us, then, that your nightmare scenario has never occurred?

    No-one has ever tried to replace religion with science in any educational context.

    Even the most extreme atheists have never sought to “replace” religion with science. They simply question religion in the same way they question everything else: critically, rigorously and honestly. Can you say the same?

    . . . I accept that I lean toward a Creationist view in your eyes and in fact. Actually, I’m Catholic. My personal opinion is that there are allegorical, literal, historical, prophetic and poetic passages in the Holy Bible; and that it should be read prayerfully, to recognize what’s being read.

    Meaning what, exactly? That you agree it cannot be literally correct? But this disagrees with some of your earlier comments, where you said, specifically, that the events in Genesis directly parallel what has really happened.

    So, to what extent do you think the Bible should be used as a guide in understanding how reality is and how it works?

    I was taught to question authority by my sophomore year world history teacher; thereafter, I unswervingly questioned him. I was taught to accept authority by my father; so I accepted and now honor his; and I accept the authority of church interpretation of holy scripture (the Catholic church has had its lesson with making pronouncements about science).

    My word, you are full of contradictions. Do you have any idea how irrational this statement makes you appear?

    If you accept that you must question authority, you must question all authority. Otherwise you do not accept that questioning authority is necessary. Simply questioning the one person who advocated questioning authority is completely missing the point.

    Or is there something qualitatively different about the authority of your father or the authority of the church? If so, please explain what this difference is and why it is so compelling.

    In science, I investigate how many different authoritive sources say what, about any respective subject.

    Again, demonstrating that you do not understand science at all.

    Science does not progress by accepting authority. It progresses by the imperative of evidence. Even where scientists disagree with one another, there will eventually be enough evidence to force a consensus, as was the case with quantum mechanics (Albert Einstein, arguably the highest scientific authority of all time, constantly sought alternatives to QM, but he was wrong).

    Usually, there’s disagreement among them. So, then, I choose which source to go by.

    How? By what criteria do you choose to accept a scientific authority? Since you have confessed to a great deal of ignorance about science, and you have demonstrated far more, how can you possibly judge the quality of a scientific authority-figure?

    Their qualifications? Their publication record? Whether or not they have a Nobel prize? Or is it something more emotional, like you accept an authority if what (s)he asserts is in accord with your preconceptions?

    So, although there’s a whole lot I don’t know, I think that I am neither ill- nor un- informed.

    On the contrary, you are a classic example of a little knowledge being a dangerous thing. You, quite obviously to anyone who does understand it, fail to understand the scientific process. You have failed to understand the nature of scientific conclusions and scientitifc knowledge. You have chosen authority-figures to accept, yet you are in no position to judge the quality of their views (who are they, BTW?).

    Some of what you have stated indicates to me that you are uninformed in the extreme. You also appear to have ignored my sincere attempt to help you rectify this.

    The remainder of what you say indicates to me that you are most definitely ill-informed about science.

    Perhaps it is time you accept that you are not in a position to judge matters of science at all. Unless, of course, you are prepared to become sufficiently informed that you can come to a rational and balanced conclusion.

  135. IAmMarauder

    @ Nigel Depledge:
    On the negative side, privately-funded schools, especially in the USA, are free to teach any old nonsense (viz one commenter above who mentioned being taught by nuns, presumably in a privately-funded religious school, that thnuder was caused by clouds bumping into each other).
    ——

    I was the one with the nun *sigh*.

    In Australia we have public schools (Government run) and private schools (Privately run – usually by religious groups). It used to be a case that the private schools weren’t funded by the government at all, however this seems to have changed recently (mainly as a way to keep schools open and not to overcrowd the public schools).

    When I was at school we used to have one period a week (around an hour I think) put aside for scripture classes. Each religion was allowed to send their own person who would sit there and teach us about our religion – basically they got to preach whatever they wanted to a captive audience. Unfortunately I got the mad nun :/

    There is one other big difference as well with schooling here in Oz – no school gets free reign on what to teach. The various state governments have a set curriculum, and the exams given at the end of Year 10 and Year 12 (the final year of secondary schooling) is a standard exam given to all students – and trust me these exams are not (or were not) a walk in the park. So even though private schools are not primarily funded by the government, they do have to abide by the standards set by them.

    Then again, Australia itself isn’t exactly big on religion. Most people will regard themselves as part of a religion, but most are the just the “Church on Sundays, Easter, Christmas and Weddings” types. Even then quite a few will skip it if their team is playing footy :)

  136. papageno

    What did I say?

    “This is a common misconception among religious people. They think that a scientific theory is accepted on faith, because they accept their own belief on faith.
    They never seem to consider that a scientific theory is accepted because it is the best explanation fitting the body of objective evidence and logical parsimony.”

    Don Snow is just another example of this.

  137. IAmMarauder

    @Don Snow:
    “Well, sir or madam”

    In this context it is sir, however IAM will suffice (or Adam if you prefer).

    ” I accept that I lean toward a Creationist view in your eyes and in fact. Actually, I’m Catholic.”

    Cool, that helps a bit in understanding your viewpoint. Whilst it is subtle, each of the different branches of the religions based on Jesus Christ have their owns views. For example the Catholics tend to be less literal in their interpretation of the bible (something that I think shows in your writings here).

    “My personal opinion is that there are allegorical, literal, historical, prophetic and poetic passages in the Holy Bible; and that it should be read prayerfully, to recognize what’s being read.”

    My only problem with this is how can we tell which part is which? In some printings of “The Neverending Story” they used different coloured ink to separate the “Real World” (that Bastion inhabited) from Fantasia. Unfortunately I haven’t seen a key that allows us to do the same with the bible. As for reading it prayerfully – I am not sure what exactly that means. I did look up the word in a dictionary, but the definitions offered don’t seem to fit that usage of the word.

    “I was taught to question authority by my sophomore year world history teacher; thereafter, I unswervingly questioned him. I was taught to accept authority by my father; so I accepted and now honor his; and I accept the authority of church interpretation of holy scripture (the Catholic church has had its lesson with making pronouncements about science).”

    I was always taught to respect authority, unless it had overstepped its bounds. However I was also taught to question things if I didn’t understand them, or if I was sure they were wrong. If they provided me with the evidence to back up their point, then I was taught to check the evidence and accept it if it was “solid”. If there were holes, then it was open for more debate. It is something that got me into trouble (and still does).

    “In science, I investigate how many different authoritive sources say what, about any respective subject. Usually, there’s disagreement among them. So, then, I choose which source to go by.”

    I haven’t found too much in the way of disagreement with regards to science, however it does happen. Choosing which source to go by depends on the disagreement itself, and the evidence offered. If it is clear cut one way or the other (such as evolution in this case), then it is easy. Evolution has a lot of evidence supporting it, and all of the arguments against it do not stand up against it. The main thing creationism has going against it is a lack of any evidence for any claim, and every time evidence has been promised it has never surfaced.

    However if the source to choose is unclear, then I tend not to pick one particular side. I will accept each side has its strengths and wait to see what science ends up choosing. This is mainly because these people know their subject a lot better than I, so I am not really in a position to make the decision about which one is correct.

    “So, although there’s a whole lot I don’t know, I think that I am neither ill- nor un- informed.”

    Trust me when I say there is a lot that I don’t know – I don’t think anyone can claim to know everything. However I am willing to educate myself as part of a discussion such as this. One example of this was researching the US Declaration of Independence when it was bought up on another blog. It was actually quite interesting, and I learned quite a bit not only about the DoI, but some of the specifics like the “Laws of Nature” mentioned in the opening paragraph, and also the background regarding some of the grievances.

    However if presented with something I am not that knowledgeable in then I consider myself uninformed in that topic. Also if I find out that I am wrong about something (and it has happened) then I will consider myself ill-informed until I am taught, or research, more about it.

    (Slightly Off Topic – how does one use blockquotes here? I was going to test the standard HTML tags, but wasn’t 100% sure (and was afraid I may break something).)

  138. Nigel Depledge

    IAmMarauder said:

    (Slightly Off Topic – how does one use blockquotes here? I was going to test the standard HTML tags, but wasn’t 100% sure (and was afraid I may break something).)

    Put the word “blockquote” between a less-than and a greater-than symbol (and the same for “/blockquote” to close it.

  139. Nigel Depledge

    Don Snow said:

    TheBlackCat:
    Thanks, seriously, for verifying the predictive capability of a theory of evolution with the “tektaalik” lesson.
    Genesis’ first creation account looked to parallel biological development, that I’ve read. Let’s agree to disagree. I probably read other authorities than you have.

    TBC wasn’t the only one to mention Tiktaalik, and Tiktaalik is but one of many hundreds of transitional forms in the fossil record.

    And it is not, and has never been, a question of authorities. The information you have is just wrong (as TBC points out above in some detail).

    What you seem to be missing utterly, Don, is that there is only one reality, and it is what it is regardless of what we might wish. The only process that has demonstrated consistent success in understanding what reality is and how it works is science. So, when science reaches the conclusion that evolution happened, and happened through a variety of mechanisms that are described by a clear and lucid theory, to reject this conclusion is to reject reality. Unless evidence were to come to light illustrating god’s role in evolution, there is no justification for assuming that he played any role.

    This is not a question of choosing which authority to believe, it is a question of taking the time to understand why science concludes what it does. If, as appears to be the case, you do not care to become informed about the evidence and what it means, then you must accept the scientific mainstream consensus opinion, not because of any perceived authority but because you are not qualified to judge the science unless you take the time to understand it.

    Finally, since you seem so attached to your authority figures, I feel compelled to point out that it is easy for anyone to claim expertise where they have none (William Dembski is a prime example). The only way you can judge whether or not someone has earned your respect of their opinion on matters of science is either to become informed yourself or to accept the view of the mainstream science community.

  140. Nigel Depledge

    Don Snow said:

    I agree that science is knowledge. I just think that that knowledge was always there; and imho was discovered first, then verfified by the scientific method. I also think that there’s more knowledge waiting to be discovered.

    I do not think that is actually what Gary meant.

    Science is not knowledge, it is a process of discovery.

    You use the word “knowledge” strangely. Knowledge cannot exist without someone to know it. Facts can, however.

    If you mean that facts always existed and the process of science discoveres them, this is correct. If, however, you are trying to claim that people already knew loads of stuff and science is merely confirming this, then you are wrong again. Science has given us so many billions of new facts, and explanations that connect many facts together. Science gives us something even more precious: understanding.

  141. Nigel Depledge

    Don Snow said:

    Now, let’s not argue – you’re entitled to your opinion and I’m entitled to mine. Agree to disagree, OK?

    No, Don. I will not agree to disagree when you are so wrong about the science. As I pointed out in a previous comment, not all opinions are equal. In science, a lay opinion is worth almost nothing against the opinion of an expert. Similarly, the opinion of one expert is worth almost nothing against the consensus of the entire science community. Finally, all opinions are worthless compared to evidence.

    So, while I agree that you are entitled to have an opinion, you are not in any position to gainsay the consensus of the science community. Or even to criticise them.

    It’s for one simple reason: you actually do not know what you are talking about.

    And I was not trying to victimise you. I was simply pointing out how many of your statements are either outright wrong, illogical or incomplete. This is very obvious to anyone who is familiar with the biological sciences.

  142. Nigel Depledge

    Don Snow said:

    I don’t think that recognizing the truth of how God effected His creation (theory of evolution) is mankind’s highest intellectual achievement.

    There’s no point in debating whether or not it was the highest intellectual achievement, but you phrase it badly.

    God has nothing to do with evolution. If there is a god, then evolution is the only possible mechanism through which he worked.

    You have yet to share any reason why I should accept the existence of a god.

    Neither is the Holy Bible; that was revealed to people by God, His prophets and His son come in the flesh.

    Well, this is what the authors of the Bible claimed, but remember that they were human. The Bible is a human document. there has never been any independent verification of anything it contains.

    . . . and then, the discovery and articulation of what had been in plain sight for millenium and under the noses of and first verbalized by two pagan Greek philosophers 2,600 years ago (and other any other observant and thinking persons’ noses): to wit, the theory of evolution.

    I have no idea where you get this nonsense from. What we now regard as the theory of evolution was never articulated until the mid-19th century.

    It was known then that life had changed dramatically over time (but it was only realised in the 18th century that fossils were the remains of creatures that had lived long ago). Several attempts had been made to explain this (of which the best known is Lamarckian evolution). Until Darwin published The Origin of Species, the concept of natural selection was not known. Since then, several other mechanisms of evolutionary change have been discovered, of which the most important is probably genetic drift.

  143. Nigel Depledge

    Don Snow said:

    It [evolution] reamins a vigorously and thoroughly investigated story, imo.

    But your opinion about science is next to worthless, because you have taken the time neither to become informed nor to understand it.

    Evolution is a fact. Populations of organisms change over time. This has been demonstrated. All life is related. This has been demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt. The mechanisms of change that are described in evolutionary theory have all been observed to occur.

  144. Nigel Depledge

    Don Snow said:

    Naw, it’s academic politics from which evolution has most suffered. Such in house politicing has kept Darwinism in the limelight and blocked or tried to suffocate twentieth century biologists from their contributing their finding. For example, Stephen Jay Gould in his [U]Ever Since Darwin[/U] asserts that mutation happens more often than taught, in so many words.

    Do you have even one shred of evidence to back up this accusation?

    No, you don’t. There is none. Evolutionary theory changed dramatically during the 20th century, not least because of the contributions of Eldredge and Gould.

    I have been taught that mutation rates vary. This is a direct consequence of the chemistry and physics of DNA replication.

    I have also been taught that, aggregated over long time scales, it is reasonable to treat mutation rates as approximately constant.

    The whole point about punctuated equilibrium is that periods of rapid change are interspersed with periods of relative stability. If you read TOOS, you will see that Darwin also recognised that rates of evolutionary change may vary. But rates of mutation are only very loosely linked to rates of evolutionary change. Again, you illustrate your ignorance and lack of understanding.

  145. Nigel Depledge

    Don Snow said:

    Have I any knowledge of what the theory says? My first grade teacher in 1949, and many media outlets since, said “…people are descended from monkeys.”

    What, so that’s it??!!

    Is that really the sum total of your knowledge of evolution?

    No wonder you are so gullible a target for the creationists and their propaganda.

    I have ever since questioned that.

    But quite obviously not in the right places.

    Seriously, follow the links I posted earlier to Talk Origins. All your questions will be answered, should you care to listen.

    And so far, I have found no proof for that statement.

    Well, partly it is a strawman, as TBC has pointed out. However, the common ancestry of all primates has been demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt. If you do not care to read the articles to which I linked, and which contain the answers you seek, then you should stop questioning the science and start questioning the motivation of the creationists whose lies you seem to have swallowed whole.

    I doubt I ever will, because I read in a science magazine that the evolutionary tree shows a common ancestor from which all primates branch.

    What? You saw an evolutionary tree in a science magazine, and so therefore you will continue to question it? How in any universe is that logical?

    You must either question it (but, seriously, go look at Talk Origins because there you will find the answer), or accept that you do not know and are not prepared to find out.

    Since you learned that “people are descended from monkeys”, have you ever read any college-level biology texts?

  146. Darth Robo

    Don Snow

    >>>”I do hold the viewpoing that that Constitution and its Bill of Rights were Divinely inspired. So, now you know where I’m coming from. Let us agree to disagree if that fits, but the above is not open to debate: it’s the way I am.”

    And your opposition to evolution is “Divinely inspired”. It’s the way you are. (shrug)

    But keeping religious apologetics out of science classes does not equal “criminalization of religion”, no matter how much you cry about it. I’ll echo what Nigel Depledge has already said, in that your opinions are on the matter are worthless as you have little knowledge of what it is you are trying to critique. Hence why you (and others like you) resort instead to sympathy-gaining sound-bites like “criminalization of religion” and project your own behaviour onto others. Co-incidentally, this is exactly what the creationists are doing in Texas. They aren’t interested in the science behind evolution, they never were. Neither are you. The whole thing is all about people’s religious opinions. Religion is not science. Never has been, never will be. The core behind opposition to evolution is religious opinion. Therefore it has no scientific basis.

    Not much else to say really, everyone else has already addressed your post more than adequately.

  147. Nigel Depledge

    Don Snow said:

    Making a living has every thing to do, with learning a true understanding of how the world works: because it’s us ordinary people at all our respective jobs and callings…that…make…the…civilized…world…work.

    This is almost nothing to do with how the world works.

    This merely about how human civilisation works, which is, at most, a tiny subset of how the world works.

    What insight does your job provide you about plate tectonics? Quantum mechanics? Pharmacology? Special relativity? Maxwell’s laws of electromagnetism? Or, indeed, anything fundamental at all?

    That’s our first environment. Then, city and town people later learn about the natural world. Country people and hunters learn how the natural world works, with their hands on experience, imho. I forgot to say, I’m a city boy raised by a country mother and a small town father (he USAF for 29yr).

    This is all completely irrelevant. I was responding to a point you raised about scientists being in it for the money (or words to this effect).

  148. Nigel Depledge

    Don Snow said:

    Nigel, until 1930 in US of A and late nineteenth century in UK, religon has been the cradle and source and nurse of both science and education. You should respect that.

    Actually, in the USA the opposite is true.

    Religiously-motivated people have been trying to inhibit scientific development and education for most of the 20th century and all of the 21st century so far. Remember the Scopes “monkey” trial? Scopes was found guilty of teaching evolution in a high school. Go look it up on Wikipedia. There were actual laws in various states within the USA against the teaching of good science.

    In the UK, religion has only supported science insofar as, in the 18th and early 19th centuries, many country pastors were the younger sons of gentry who stood to inherit nothing and had plenty of time on their hands. Some of them used this time to study the natural world. So, the religious institutions of the day gave these people the time to study, but that was all. There has been no more concrete support for science in the UK from religion than that. Before his voyage on the Beagle, Darwin himself was destined for a career as a clergyman.

    Sir, on much we disagree.

    Yes, we do.

    However, there is a fundamental difference between us. I am attaempting to explain why I feel as I do, and why I accept the conclsuions of modern science. You, OTOH, appear to be doing no more than repeating your opinion (with a few sprinklings of personal anecdote) as if the process of repetition validates your point of view.

    Guess what? It doesn’t.

    Unless you are prepared to explain, in detail, why you consider all of the scientists that have worked on biological sciences for the last 150 years to be wrong, you have no argument to make. This is a science and critical-thinking blog. You have expressed opinions that make no sense to me (and, it appears, to the other readers). Perhaps you should either keep them to yourself or be prepared to justify them.

    Rather than for you to go on and on and on and me write and write and write, let’s jes agree to disagree? Okedokee? Thank you very much.

    As I stated above, I will not agree to disagree about the science. I have personally examined and understood several major components of the evidence for universal common descent. You seem to reject this (as far as it is possible to parse meaning from your words). I am convinced that you are wrong, and you have demonstrated that you are ignorant. Your opinion on the science is not a valid one, and I am not prepared to let that lie.

    You must either accept that your ignorance renders you unqualified to judge, or you must take the time to educate yourself.

  149. Nigel Depledge

    Don Snow said:

    Upon several close readings, focusing on the historical context of its writing, I find that the First Amendment, not Thomas Jefferson, allows anything, including religion, to be taught in a public school.

    This is a tired old chestnut that is often trotted out by creationists, mainly because they have no substantive argument to offer.

    You comment is an exercise in question-begging.

    While, in principle, the first amendment might permit the teaching of religion in public schools (a point which I don’t actually accept), the more important question is: which one? Since the first amendment specifically prohibits congress from passing any law that establishes a religion (i.e. favours it above any others), you are left with two options: teach all religions equally (including Jedi, which has been an officially-recognised religion in the UK since the census of 2000), or teach none. The first amendment permits no middle ground.

    Be that as it may, it is only peripherally relevant to the core point of what is happening in Texas: science education is under attack by people who seek to water it down with fabricated equivocation and artificial doubt. The international science community is the only body of people sufficiently qualified to judge, in the long run, what is or is not good science. (I feel compelled to qualify this by pointing out that there are some instances of bad science being so transparently bad that many lay observers are also qualified to judge it as being bad science. “Creation science” and ID are prime examples of such egregious scholarship. But, irrespective of what their adherents may have claimed, they were never seriously intended to be science.) Therefore, any attempt to instil “academic freedom” into high schools (above and beyond the freedoms already ppossessed by teachers) should take its lead from the scientific community as a whole.

    Is additional freedom necessary to teach good science? The simple answer is: No. The full-length answer is: No.

  150. Nigel Depledge

    Don Snow said:

    Let me be blunt. A child’s mind is not the property, responsibility, just authority nor concern of any level of government. It is solely God’s and the parents’ concern, responsibility, property, and under solely those two authorities.

    Now you’re sounding really creepy.

    Ultimately, God has no authority over a person’s mind unless that person chooses to be religious. Certainly, he has no right to authority over a person’s mind.

    In the real world, teachers, schools, school boards and state boards of education do have a responsibility to give the children under their care the best education that they can. This means enabling the students to understand, and thus engage with, all of the issues facing our modern high-tech society. Without a full and accurate education, the students, when they become adults, will not be able to decide for themselves and, rather than being empowered to participate in the political process, will be reduced to being the pawns of power-mongers.

  151. 1st grade in 1949? Anyone else starting to think Don is just a senile old coot? :P At least Darth, Nigel, et al are posting great things for other to read.

    Seriously folks, get outside of your protective circled wagons and take a good hard look at this stuff. The only controversy is that which the hardcore fundamentalists are manufacturing. No one else.

  152. IVAN3MAN

    @ Larian LeQuella,

    I have observed that if a person has not become an agnostic/atheist by the time they are 50 years’ of age, then they probably never will — established personality!

  153. IVAN3MAN

    P.S. As they say, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”!

  154. Nigel Depledge

    Ivan3man said:

    P.S. As they say, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”!

    Really? Do you have any evidence to support this assertion? ;-)

  155. Nigel Depledge

    And there’s more…

    Don Snow said:

    In truth, I am Catholic, I appreciate science and I am not totally ignorant. I think that the above statements come across to me as knee-jerk reactions, because I question the authority of science ande dare to form my own opinions.

    Science does not operate by authority. It operates by conclusions drawn from evidence. As has been pointed out before, an uninformed opinion in science is next to worthless.

    No-one here disputes your right to form your own opinion. I dispute your ability to judge the quality of a scientific argument or proposition.

  156. Nigel Depledge

    Don Snow said:

    I understand that I am saying, “I question anything, and the aurthorites, that are not church..” It’s just that simple.

    Yet you have made no attempt to explain why you consider the authority of the church to be beyond question.

    Why do you treat information derived from religion as different from information derived from any other source?

  157. Hi,

    Two links you might be interesting it:

    Vatican not so doomed ;)
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article5705331.ece

    Darwinism Must Die So Evolution Can Live
    http://news.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/02/10/0450228&from=rss

  158. Nigel Depledge

    Don Snow said:

    OK, to focus again on the OP, creationism taught in public schools. To comment on both science and religion, the world is not doomed when the LHC is fired up, nor when creationism is taught in public schools.

    There are two things wrong with creationism being taught in public schools:

    (1) It is demonstrably wrong, so it is just lying to the students. Claiming it to be science is just a bigger lie. However, claiming creationism to be science undermines everything that kids should be being taught about science, so it handicaps them when they leave school and try to participate in a high-tech society for themselves.

    (2) If you want to teach religion or religious ideas (and creationism really is no more than this) in publicly-funded US schools, the First Amendment demands that you give all religions equal time. No school has the time to do this.

    All this aside, there is simply no comparison between the manufactured and false fears over the LHC and the intellectual crippling of a generation of schoolkids. It would be child abuse.

    I think anxiety about either is much exaggerated.

    See above.

    If you’ve read my replies to different members of your blog, you will understand why I think that.

    Actually, no. You have not made any attempt to explain why you believe what you do, nor why you consider the word of the Bible or the church to be qualitatively different from everything else around you.

    I wrote earlier, that I can choose between different authorites in science, when they disagree, which one to go by.

    And this choice is meaningless.

    You may as well choose which make of car to buy according to what colour it is – the two are equally arbitrary.

    Without comprehension of the relevant information you are not empowered to make such a coice in any meaningful way. Of course you can choose to whom you listen, in the same way that you may choose which car dealer to go to. But science has a final arbiter of truth – the evidence, and the conclusions drawn from it by the international scientific community.

    I write now, I am aware of least two different moralites, from which to choose right and wrong. I get to choose which morality to follow, too. It’s wrong to take the children’s minds and bodies from the parents, since God assigns parents and children to each other by birth.

    Well, first off, you have no evidence to support this assertion.

    Second, do you therefore condone leaving children with abusive parents? Or do you concede that leaving children in an environment where those supposed to nurture them neglect or abuse them is wrong?

    Third, your dichotomy is a false one. There are not two different moralities – there are as many different moralities as there are people to hold opinions about morality. These moralities are judged, not by any single church or book, but by societal consensus (well, such is the case in a democratic society). This consensus is commonly known as the law.

    He knows what He’s doing, and I don’t question that.

    But why not?

    What if he is whimsical and vengeful?

    The man I follow says, “Render unto God what is God and unto Caesar what is Caesars”. (Since that man also pulled a gold coin from a fish’s mouth to pay tax to Caesar, shouldn’t churches pay taxes, instead of accepting an exemption?) Anyway, I’ve seen somebody quoted as saying, “…the children are God’s” It’s my considered opinion, that as long as any level of government attempts or succeeds in alienating children from their parents with any type ofr education, then, that level of government has sown or nourished the seeds of strife.

    But what if the parents are wrong?

    Why should the children of deranged lunatics be prohibited from having a full and accurate education, as would be the case if what you wish were to be true?

    How long did you really “consider” this matter? Surely, parents who routinely and persistently lie to their children are sowing the seeds of strife? After all, didn’t someone else once say “Thou shalt not lie”, or words to that effect?

    In closing, my understanding of histotry and myth had taught me that knowledge has been gained and lost, by a sucession of civilizations.

    Well, this goes to show how limited your understanding is.

    Myth is, by definition, made up. Therefore, any “knowledge” in a myth is either purely incidental or also made up.

    History has shown us that, although some knowledge may be lost (e.g. in the sack of the library of Alexandria) by one civilisation, it is almost inevitably rediscovered by another. To whit: the Renaissance in Europe was mainly fuelled by the rediscovery in arabic documents of much that the ancient Greeks had deduced (plus, also, additions that the arabic scholars had made). This, and the need to know where your cannonballs will land, anyway. Arguably, this led to the beginning of what we now recognise as science.

    Therefore, I conclude that that will happen, to this civilization, also. With that temporary nature of civilization in mind, is why I think the religion I have chosen will endure through the ages.

    Eh?

    This is just insane. If a civilisation falls, much of its knowledge and work falls also. Given that modern civilisation is pretty much global, what makes you think that one specific religion will endure unchanged through any putative collapse?

    And what relevance does any of this have to the OP?

    I am closing, without answering further posts to me, because I need time to go to the blogs I ordinaryally frequent.

    Look, everytime I come here, for two weeks afterward, I have a mental hang-over. That’s why I come by so infrequently. I’ll drop in again, some other time.

    Actually, please don’t.

    You have demonstrated no willingness to learn about that of which you are ignorant.

    You have made assertions with very little attempt to back them up with argumentation or evidence.

    You have made no acknowledgement that people who know more about you on a particular topic are more qualified to judge the rightness or wrongness of statements within that topic.

    Todd W, thank you because you have probably suceeding in that in which I have failed: to gain some kind of respect for ordinary, even uneducated people.

    Don, you will never gain respect for ordinary, uneducated people by claiming that your opinion has value equal to that of an expert in their field of expertise. Quite the opposite, in fact. The only way to gain respect in any highly technical field is to acknowledge your ignorance and then do something about it.

    Going back to the OP, the kids of Texas deserve to be taught good science. All you have done here is to demonstrate how deeply this need runs in the USA.

  159. Nigel Depledge

    Wawrzek said:

    Darwinism Must Die So Evolution Can Live

    I had a quick look at the slashdot article you linked to. It seems to be based around a fairly big misapprehension.

    Biologists do not use the term “Darwinism” in any technical context.

    It is only ever used by science popularisers as a shorthand for evolutionary theory, and by creationists when they wish to create a false dichotomy or a strawman of evolutionary theory.

    All semantics aside, however, the core ideas that Darwin had (natural selection, the principle of divergence, common descent etc.) and the sheer quantity of data he accumulated to test his ideas remain collectively a massive intellectual achievement. While it is true that no-one uses terms like “Einsteinism” or “Newtonism”, this may be because no-one has assembled a concerted and organised attack on the teaching of these ideas in physics.

    Without Einstein, for example, a great deal of physics still makes sense. Without Newton, the same applies, but perhaps to a lesser extent. However, without Darwin – by which I mean his evolutionary theory – nothing at all in biology makes any sense whatever. Without evolutionary theory, biology is just a collection of facts. With it, however, we are empowered to understand the interrelationships between organisms and to make predictions and to identify new areas for research.

    So, while I try not to use the term “Darwinism” at all, I can see that it does serve a purpose, particularly for science popularisers.

    OTOH, its meaning has been subverted by creationists into some kind of cult bogeyman. We can either let them get away with this, or science can take it back. Either way, it is not going to disappear any time soon.

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