Florida: jumping off the cliff of reality with Texas

By Phil Plait | March 27, 2009 12:30 pm

[Update: Brandon Haught from the Florida Citizens for Science just sent me a note: this bill introduced in Florida is not new, but was submitted a few weeks ago. The FCS issued a release condemning it and they also have an analysis of it online. According to Brandon, what's is that the Florida Academy of Sciences officially condemned the bill. Sorry for any confusion.]

[Update 2 (March 28, 2009): The bill is as good as dead. Brandon, again, has the details, and some mild ruler-on-knuckles for me and PZ. :) ]

So while we wait to see just how big of fools the Texas State Board of Education wants to make themselves look (the verdict so far: pretty big), it turns out Florida is busily trepanning themselves as well.

No, this is not a repeat from 2008, 2007, 2006, or even 1216, as much as it sounds like the Dark Ages.

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/wp-admin/post.php?action=edit&post=4216

If you’re scratching your head, wondering how on (the 4.55 billion year old) Earth anyone can possibly want to teach creationism in the schools, then I suggest you read the comments on any of my previous few posts on this topic. There you will see people saying things like, "It’s only a theory!" (no, it’s a theory and a fact), and "Science is faith-based too!" (no, it’s not), and "You hate Christians" (no, I don’t, and I don’t even hate creationists, just what they’re doing), and really lots of other blatant lies and ridiculous accusations that are trivially easy to prove wrong… like every creationist claim, come to think of it.

Look, creationists: if you personally want to believe that the Earth is 6000 years old, despite a veritable mountain of evidence against it and nothing at all to support it, then you have that right. But when you want to vote your fantasy into legislation or into the schoolbooks, that’s wrong. And no matter how much you shout and bloviate and spread your manure, you’ll still be wrong. That’s how reality really works.

Comments (84)

  1. Jo:rg

    Does it make me a young Earth cosmologist if I point out that the Earth is not 13.7 billion years old? All these heavy elements need to come from somewhere.

  2. Zach

    Just a bit of a typo Phil, Earth isn’t 13.7Ga.

  3. Pssst! Phil. I know Earth is old. I don’t think it’s that old, though. :P

  4. Lisa_n

    Stephen Wise is an idiot. This guy also proposed salary cuts for “overpaid” teachers- his words- and eliminating health insurance for same. I teach science in FL. I teach evolution. Period. I will be happy to offer the theory of Creationism as long as I can then teach ALL the creation myths. I’m thinking diorama of the Great Turtle who crapped out the world for 30% of their final grade, maybe?

  5. S Protsman

    Whoa, nelly! I don’t like these ‘creationists’ giving the rest of us who believe in a Creator a bad rap. There are many of us who don’t buy into the young-earth teaching. We are scoffed at by the evangelical creationists, no doubt. Don’t lump us all in the same category. My scientific knowledge, while decent, is quite limited, but I see no conflict between it and good science like some — maybe many — do.

    Phil, keep up the good work!

  6. Heh. I fixed the number. That’s what I get for posting in a furious typing fit.

  7. Alan IronAISS

    Let there be light!

  8. bjswift

    Damn, people beat me to it.

  9. That article was prompted by our news release this morning. The bill was filed a while ago. What’s new is that the Florida Academy of Sciences issued a statement against the filed bill.
    We’re on it, Phil. We’re on it!
    http://www.flascience.org/wp

  10. TS

    13.7 billion years old??? Haven’t I told 4.55 billion times not to exaggerate?

  11. TS

    …..my snappy comebacks are somewhat lacking….

  12. Brian Schlosser, Lurker

    Heres a question: why do the YECs think the big, bad scientists are trying to “hide the truth”? Its not like evolutionary biologists are getting rich off of Darwinism. There isn’t some cabal of Atheist Billionaires working to destroy The Faithful by funding scientists.

  13. Matt H

    13.7 billion year old earth? Is someone tired?? Or maybe you brains going la la because you’ve been waiting for the new season of doctor who for too long?? :p

    Also boo Florida. I do hope Floridans will eventually prove Americans actually dont fit the European stereotype of lacking in the grey matter department…

  14. ccpetersen

    Brian Schlosser: they whine because (like tw0-year-olds with poopy diapers) they have learned that they can get more attention by acting aggrieved and screaming about how it’s not faaaiiirrrr and that everyone who disagrees with them hates them and their religion and yadda yadda yadda. It’s pretty classic childish behavior, and attaching it to religious belief and faith is really egregious. They may not want to know this, but a lot of folks in this country (the U.S.) got tired of it when they tried to hijack the constitution with religionist attacks during the Bush years.

    There’s gonna be a backlash against this ignorant stupidity that masquerades behind faith. This country needs forward-looking, reasonable and intelligent people of all faiths and creeds (including us Evil Atheists), not WATBs who can’t win so they stomp their itto feets and threaten to hold their breaths (and mess up the constitution and science education) until they get their way. It doesn’t need to be this way.

  15. TS: I laughed. Which was needed, having read about this bit of idiot legislation.

  16. For a minute there, I thought you meant people were literally trepanning themselves. Wouldn’t be all that surprised, really. All it would take is for someone to claim that it reduces wrinkles or controls your weight.

    Of course, you couldn’t just call it “trepanning” any more than you would call botox “injecting neurotoxins in your face”. Something like “cranial portal therapy” might sell, though.

  17. That guy Wise represents me…I don’t feel very well represented…I wonder when the next election is?

  18. David J

    I should like to second S Protsman… please don’t lump young-earth and old-earth creationists in the same category.

  19. Protsman,

    An inability to see the conflict between good science and having a magical, invisible friend probably indicts one’s grasp of scientific knowledge more than a third party grouping one with creationists, IMO.

    We might excuse members of the reality-based community for failing to distinguish between what appear objectively to be various self-delusions that each believer claims as virtuous faith.

  20. Wes

    I’m continually amazed that the creationists don’t see that a God that can set up a series of laws, principles and processes that bring all this diversity of life and beauty out of nothing is a much more interesting God than one who looks like a super David Copperfield pulling rabbits out of a hat. Especially when the (to date) end product of this process can sit down and try to figure out how it works. As Einstein famously remarked, “Science is the process of understanding the mind of God” and maybe that’s a much more spiritual endeavor than defending 6,000 year old creation myths.

  21. Lisa

    It’s just a matter of time before GA jumps on the bible thumping bandwagon. They’ve already passed legislation to restrict stem cell research. Makes me fell like I made the right decision to home school my kids so they can get a decent science education.

  22. Considering that Florida in general is Sofa King Retarded, this doesn’t surprise me at all…

  23. Brian Schlosser, Lurker Says:
    March 27th, 2009 at 12:44 pm
    Heres a question: why do the YECs think the big, bad scientists are trying to “hide the truth”? Its not like evolutionary biologists are getting rich off of Darwinism. There isn’t some cabal of Atheist Billionaires working to destroy The Faithful by funding scientists.

    ——————————-

    I’m guessing they do it because it’s makes them babe-magnets.

  24. Phil – I don’t know how much time you’ve spent in Florida, but I live here and can tell you there are a LOT of REALLY stupid people in this state.

    I don’t mean like normal dumb. This is like steroid-laced olympian dumb.

    While there are several progressive (higher intelligence) areas, a huge portion of the Florida land mass is occupied by under-educated hicks and rednecks. And I don’t see that changing any time soon.

  25. Matt

    So I wonder, how many people go thru the trouble of earning a degree in science education, just for the sole purpose of teaching anti science in public schools?

    Then again, can anyone with a basic degree in education become a Science teacher?

    I wonder how many went into it with the intent of teaching creationism to students, only to come to see the light in the pursuit of their degree? I’ve often thought that the only people who could honestly be against evolution are those who do not, can not, or refuse to understand it.

  26. IVAN3MAN

    Follow the Lemmings...
    Image credit: SurrealArt.com

  27. GregB

    My scientific knowledge, while decent, is quite limited, but I see no conflict between it and good science

    And if that knowledge were greater then you may see a greater conflict.

    Science, evidence, and rational thought don’t disprove the existance of God. It just disproves everything that’s ever been attributed to God. Science shows how nothing in this universe requires a God to exist. Any argument of the type “Well, Science can’t explain THIS” is a false dichotomy fallacy. That argument provides no positive evidence for God, it just tries to throw doubt on science.

    The more you understand about the universe from a scientific perspective the less need you have for anything supernatural. In that way, yes, science and religion are incompatible.

  28. rob

    i wonder where they get the guests for the Jerry Springer show…

  29. GregB

    Phil – I don’t know how much time you’ve spent in Florida, but I live here and can tell you there are a LOT of REALLY stupid people in this state.

    Clearwater Florida and the Scientology headquarters.

    Further evidence of rampant stupidity.

  30. Matt

    Your heathen articles make jesus cry

    keep up the good work

  31. Phil,

    I don’t have a lot to add to the argument, but I’d like to say thanks for being vocal and clear on this subject. It’s a good and productive use of the spotlight your astronomy blogging has earned you.

    You type things in public that we’re all thinking.

    Yours,
    Cheeseburger Brown

  32. TheBlackCat

    Yeah, that’s Florida for you. We re-elected Jeb, that should tell you all you need to know. Also home of the bizarre Schiavo controversy.

    What I find really interesting is the different reaction between Floridian’s and Texans. In the threads criticizing Texas the Texans come on and say how the state as a whole shouldn’t be criticized because of this, yadda, yadda. When the same thing happens with Florida the Floridians come on and say “yeah, our state is full of idiots”.

  33. DaveC

    Phil – Thanks for inverting the telescope and focusing it on some of the noxious, slimy goo crawling out from under our Florida limestone. Maybe a lot more exposure will embarass some of these cretins although I doubt it.

    Doubting Foo – Wise is term-limited and can’t run again. He’s out of there after the 2010 elections. I’m in his district, too, and my neighbors will probably elect someone of similar viewpoint to replace him. I just hope whoever wins is not as sneaky and devious as Wise has been.

    Matt – All you need to teach high school biology in Florida is a bachelor’s in education with a couple of biology courses and passing a couple of pathetically simple certification exams (one in content and the other in politically correct pedagogy). My New York high school Biology Regents exam was more rigorous than the content test. We have at least one bio teacher at my school who doesn’t understand the significance between prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells or the significance of that distinction to human health and medicine. You can bet she hasn’t a clue about endosymbiosis and certainly lacks the background to reply to hostile questioning from creationist students who parrot the inane talking points they have been taught by their parents and church. And yes, some people ARE going through four year or longer programs to advance the creationist cause. Liberty University (founded by Jerry Falwell) is training lawyers and teachers to take the fundamentalist perspective to the masses. Google “Smithsonian Liberty University” for a recent news story on one of their tactics.

    We have some good science people down here. We produced a fine set of science standards for the state’s public schools last year and some of us are willing to teach good science in spite of the hostility it generates. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who want to undo that effort and force us to teach their form of religion. Creationism is, unfortunately, like the cinema version of Dracula. Every time you think you have driven a stake through its heart it just regenerates and comes back at you again.

    Incidentally, research has shown that a teacher’s willingness to teach evolution is directly related to the amount of college level training they took on the subject. We need to fight not only the political battle but the teacher certification one as well. A high school science teacher ought to have a bachelor’s degree in their content area. Anything else is shortchanging the students.

    Back to grading lab reports.

  34. Cory

    When dealing with the religious folk, I always go with the quote (by someone clever, Mark Twain?) “Never argue with a fool, those watching might not be able to tell the difference.”

  35. Retrogarde

    Creationsts tend to think that eventually everybody will believe in Santaclaus++. Eventually. Wrong. The idea is by itself unthinkable for many, many people. Including those who have other things to do in daily life than to figure out how physics works, how chemistry works, how astronomy works and how biology works. Epic fail. Epic. Most people don’t care to adapt plain weird mindsets. Most people don’t read horoscopes, most people do not hire physics to talk to dead pets, most people don’t skip the odd tile while walking, most people have common sense. As long this common sense is not poisoned with believing in astral bodies, spirits and/or numbers of fortune.

    Now it’s 2009 and some illiterate Rednecks from the middle of nowhere will tell how universal common sense is wrong and we all should sing hymns in order to please a bronze age invisible guy in the sky? Get real. Really, you are becoming more than annoying. You sound like weird sect groupies with a distorted mindset. What’s next. 2+2 could be 5 as well because the invisible skydaddy wouldn’t be almighty if even he has to obey fundamental non-creation able laws of mathematics which render him not-so-powerful? Oh wait, we should all start to read horoscopes. And hire people to talk to dead pets. And skip every fourth tile. Just in case. The ways of the invisible skydaddy cannot be known and he will be everywhere. As long as you believe in it.

    My horoscope says Nuts. So does my dead cat.

  36. xerhino

    This looks like a job for the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Schools must also teach the pirate hypothesis!

  37. Gary Ansorge

    GregB:
    Scientology was initiated by L.Ron Hubbard for one purpose: to take advantage of the benevolent tax laws pursuant to religion. Thus it really is an intelligent idea, though of course, it’s a bunch of crock. But then, what religion isn’t? I think Hubbard had a lot of fun setting up that little political conundrum.

    Most of the religious people I’ve known insist that morality derives from their version of god. I wonder how they can ignore the over lap in moral/ethical rules developed by every human tribe, regardless of their particular woo? One rule that seems to permeate virtually every religion is some version of the Golden Rule. How could that be if there is only one version of a creator?

    Even damned to hell atheists seem to consistently develop such rules. I wonder why???

    I guess I have my own woo: that reason will triumph,,,

    Gary 7

  38. MartinM

    I should like to second S Protsman… please don’t lump young-earth and old-earth creationists in the same category.

    Unless that category happens to be ‘people who reject basic scientific facts for religious reasons,’ of course.

  39. IVAN3MAN

    DaveC:

    Liberty University (founded by Jerry Falwell) is training lawyers and teachers to take the fundamentalist perspective to the masses.

    It appears that vexatious lawyers have been a pain in the ass, in the past, too…

    Luke 11:45-48 Then answered one of the lawyers, and said unto him, Master, thus saying thou reproachest us also.
    And he said, Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! For ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers.
    Woe unto you! For ye build the sepulchres of the prophets, and your fathers killed them.
    Truly ye bear witness that ye allow the deeds of your fathers: for they indeed killed them, and ye build their sepulchres.

  40. RB

    I’d like to try something: First let me describe my self so that everyone knows where I’m coming from. I am a born again, bible believing, creationist, land on the young earth stance, but haven’t wrestled with old earth very much to be honest. Born and raised in Texas, come to know God in So Cal and currently live in So Cal. Ok so know you have plenty of fodder for the names and all. I try and read broadly and understand where people are at on subjects. I came across this blog a little while ago and to be honest this is the first full string I’ve read through. This is exactly why I want to read it to understand the views others have. Here is what I’d like to do: 1. Provide an observation on the blog string and comments, 2. Ask a question and looking for authentic answers and 3. Make a statement on what gets us all worked up on this issue (this will be risky, but I’ll try). To the owner of the blog, if this is not what you are looking for from the readers let me know and I’ll move on with no hard feelings or regrets):

    Observation: Through the blog and comments I hear a lot of passion and drive around the absolute truth of evolution and the absolute falsity of creationism. What I did not get is simple straight forward scientific facts that are the basis. It would be easy for a creationist to read this and make the same claims back on the “beliefs” in evolution. This observation leads me into the question.

    Question: What are the top 5 scientific facts and subsequent proofs that go with those facts to support evolution? Not beliefs or feelings or even comparison to creationist, but scientific facts. To me scientific facts are provable through experimentation or interpretation of data that confirms through multiple disciplines – is that good science?)

    Statement: The “heart” of the issue has nothing to do with the age of the earth. I think both sides “fight” over evolution/creation concerning the age of the earth because both sides think they can prove it, so that keeps it in the modern realm or logic and scientific reasoning. To be honest I don’t think either side can prove without doubt the age of the earth. The real issue comes down to two key things a)the belief or worldview of God and b) the origin of human life, which leads to purpose and value of human life. I appreciate the comments that reference the belief in God (atheist/christian) and tied that to the conversation. Any way that’s my attempt to join this conversation from an inadequate scientific basis, but a great hope in God to make me able to learn and grow. Let me know what you think.

  41. Oh man, the world is 6000 years old? Damn, now how the heck did all those Trilobites I’ve been studying get fossilized so quickly and how did all that sediment accumulate so quickly? Was it the great flood? Wow, did it really create a mile of sediment and push the continenal plate up at the same time? Wow, incredible.

  42. Grand Lunar

    Where can I go to take action against this?

    Though I wasn’t born in the “Sunshine state” (Michigan is my birthplace), I still find it shameful that these people wish to make my home state seem like a bunch of backwards fools (even if they claim otherwise).

    Being home to NASA’s launch facilities, as well as other fine attributes, like the Everglades, being the future birthplace of Charles Tucker III (go ahead, make fun of me for that!), the voice of reason MUST be heard!

  43. Your Name's Not Bruce?

    Okay, if the Christianists are really intent on all this “strengths and weaknesses” stuff, let’s turn it back on them. A few things I’d like to know: if the creationists’ god is so powerful, why did it take six days to create the universe? What evidence do they have that it was in six days and not instantaneously (if they’ve ruled 13 billion years and change).Why not everything in an instant? And even though he took a whole six days, he still got it wrong (see “Fall”, “Flood”). And with that flood thing; why couldn’t that god of theirs target just the evil humans and leave everyone and everything else alone? Kinda puts the whole omnipotent/omniscient/omnibenevolent thing into doubt, doesn’t it? Or do we not get to discuss those strengths and weaknesses…?

  44. TheBlackCat

    @ Your Name’s Not Bruce?: I can tell you what their (non)answer will be: God works in mysterious ways. They’ll also probably also trot out the book of Job or some other scripture telling people not to question things and just accept what they are told.

  45. TheBlackCat

    Darn, I missed a Poe opportunity there.

  46. Sean

    I’m an atheist so I don’t take much stock in creationism as a result, but reality is indeed faith based. You have to assume you’re not hallucinating or whatever else since all you have is one central processor with no ability to network. So science is part of a reality that’s accepted based on a leap of faith.

    -SH.

  47. matteus

    The good news is that this issue is fragmenting the secular, (rational) conservatives (like me, to be immodest) away from the Republican Party. This is good news because if the R’s are completely made up of these theocratic whackjobs, they lose power, and cannot enact more theocratic whackjob policies (as demonstrated by the last two major elections).
    This will end with the Republicans ceasing to exist as a major, non-regional political party. Or it will end with the national Republican leadership deciding that, hey, the majority of our base are non-religious or indifferent about religion and similar social buggaboos, so, let’s quit letting the so-called religious right dictate our platform.
    Strong science, strong national defense (much the same thing in many ways), strong, rational financial policy. This is what I want my political party to stand for, not for irrational, theocratic, dark age superstitious nonsense.

  48. Your Name's Not Bruce?

    RB; science is not out to look for “absolute truth”. Scientific knowledge is not eternal; it is provisional, always open to improvement, correction and replacement. Science is always on the lookout for a better explanation, the best it can find with the tools and theories at hand. New findings can always change the game. Look at what the discovery of radioactivity and subatomic particles did for physics, astronomy, earth science and a host of other disciplines. But you can’t “see” an atom without sophisticated tools and apparatus (which are themselves dependent upon the successful applications of the theories under investigation).

    Be warned: if the phrase “just a theory” appears in any of your responses, readers here will know (or at least strongly suspect) that you have either A) not done your homework or B) arenot arguing in good faith.

    Not all science stems from experiments in test tubes. Not all observations take place in laboratories under controlled conditions. For example, the process of stellar evolution is not something you can observe for one star over the course of its multi-million to multi-billion year span of existence. Similarly, plate tectonics works at a slow pace. Neither of these phenomena can’t be bottled in a beaker or heated over a bunsen burner to see what happens. They are not “repeatable” processes in themselves. In my experience, many creationists disqualify these as “science” because they are not subject to repeatable, experimental proof in the confines of a laboratory. By these criteria, much (most?0 of modern science would similarly be disqualified. But the facts of stellar evolution and plate tectonics are nonetheless supported by large volumes of evidence, observations and confirmed predictions. Stellar evolution and plate tectonics are mature theories that offer a firm framework for further research and investigation. The same goes for evolution. In fact of these three, evolution has, arguably, the longest track record. Can the same be said of young earth creationism? What hypotheses does it offer? How does it better explain the current conditions of the earth, the life upon it and the universe it is in?

    It boils down to evidence. It doesn’t matter what one “believes”; it’s a matter of the best fit to evidence of observed phenomena, successful predictions of as yet unexplained phenomena, the exploitation of fruitful research into logical consequences of the theory, among other things. I’m not a scientist myself but I have a passing familiarity with its methods and results. Perhaps more important than its results, science is a method of examining reality.

    If I might suggest some reading (if you haven’t read these already):

    Carl Sagan: Cosmos; Pale Blue Dot; The Demon Haunted World

    Richard Dawkins: The Blind Watchmaker; Climbing Mount Improbable

    Philip Morrison: The Ring of Truth

    Daniel Dennett Darwin’s Dangerous Idea; Breaking the Spell

  49. You’ve got a link to the WordPress admin section of your site in there for some reason.

  50. Randy A.

    Scientific American recently posted an article (link below) that reports on research into why people believe in creationism. Apparently, humans have evolved an innate desire to “figure it out”. Success brings a pleasurable “aha!”
    People will prefer a falsehood to truth, if the truth is complicated and hard to understand. It seems that humans are lazy thinkers, and will avoid thinking if possible (as a teacher, I can offer an abundance of anecdotal support for this hypothesis!).

    http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=creationism-feels-right-but-that-doesnt-make-it-so

  51. Garfield

    Here’s a question for RB and anyone else who’d care to jump in.

    Why is it Creationists expend their efforts to eliminate the teaching of evolution from the curriculum because it conflicts with the Bible, while expending no effort to eliminate the teaching of modern astronomy because it does the same?

    In numerous places, the Bible states that the Sun moves through the sky, the Sun rises, and the Sun sets. This, of course, describes the illusion of the Sun’s movement, caused by an observer’s position on a rotating Earth. That the Sun moved – not the Earth – was a completely reasonable assumption when those references were written. But careful observation of the movements of the other planets in our solar system raised questions about the relationship of the Sun and Earth to each other, and eventually a new, and more accurate description was determined: The Sun wasn’t moving from east to west, the Earth was rotating as it revolved like all the other planets. I have no statistical evidence, but I’d guess that the vast majority of Creationists accept this description, too, completely ignoring that it explicitly contradicts the Bible.

    So, why is that? I understand that Fundamentalists are driven to support every word of the Bible because, one argument goes, if one word is not right, then all the words can be called into question. So why aren’t Fundamentalists engaged in a war against astronomy? Or, failing an answer to that question, how is it that Creationists can accept that the Bible is wrong in its description of the Sun and Earth, yet not accept – nor even consider the possibility – that it might be wrong in its description of how all the different forms of life arose?

    Just wondering.

  52. zar

    RB: if you’re curious, I recommend finding a copy of Jerry Coyne’s “Why Evolution is True.” And go into it with a truly open mind. Science works by looking at the world and trying to find an explanation as to why things work the way they do. Do the same.

  53. Sir Eccles

    RB, you must of course be able to answer the same question with respect to creationism.

    Question: What are the top 5 scientific facts and subsequent proofs that go with those facts to support creationism? Not beliefs or feelings or even comparison to evolution, but scientific facts.

  54. TheBlackCat

    To add to what Sir Eccles, it must be evidence for creationism. Evidence against evolution does not count, and supposed deficiencies in evolution certainly do not count. Even if you disprove evolution it does not automatically make creationism right.

  55. ccpetersen

    Garfield,

    Just wait. They’ll go after astronomy soon enough. I’ve heard stories of planetarium folk being told by fundie visitors not to mention the “e” word, even if they’re using to to describe stellar evolution. And I read a blog the other day supp0sedly by an astronomer who said that “evolution” was the wrong term to apply to stars… didn’t say why though.

  56. J Earley

    I am lucky enough to be a high school science teacher in Oregon. Science teachers here are required, by a rule issued by the Oregon Department of Education, to teach evolution. We also get to teach real astronomy. If you do not teach these ideas, you could (possibly) get fired. A science teacher who refused to teach evolution would be subject to discipline, as we are required to teach the state standards. Each year, I sit down with the rest of my department, and we go through the standards, and make sure that they are being met.
    Oregon, unlike Florida, has very high standards for its teachers. Course work, a degree, passing the Praxis Exam, all of these are required in one form or another to get a license. I would guess that is is no coincidence that Oregon usually has a very high pass level on students who take the SAT.
    I get attacked by creationist parents every year. I refer them to my Principal, who has to tell them that I am following the rules, and that I am supported by state and federal court decisions. I love doing this, as he is a creationist, and has to support ME, if he wants to keep HIS job!
    Anyway, could someone get around to answering RBs request? I could handle astronomy questions, but the serious biology stuff is outside of my field.
    RB- I can offer these pieces of evidence. If species do not change (evolve) then there should be no mechanism whereby they CAN change. Presumably, a creator would not allow something that does not possess free will to have the capacity to change. Therefore, genes should be self correcting for mutations, and have no natural variation. Obviously, this is NOT the case. Change happens.
    Next, the fossil record. You will not find fossils of modern mammals in Eocene deposits. You will find fossils of extinct mammals. Extinction happens. Creationists, some of them anyway, ask for evidence in the form of transitional fossils. There are many transitional fossils. Turtles, whales and horses all have transitional forms. All of this evidence is of the repeatable form, because you can go out an dig up more if it if you want to.
    Scientific Method:
    Question: Do organisms change over time?
    Hypothesis: Organisms will show variation over long time periods, as shown by changes in skeletal morphology.
    Experiment/Observation: Look for fossil evidence of change
    Results: fossils show change in morphology
    Conclusion: Organisms change
    Repeat as needed……

  57. José

    @ccpetersen
    I’ve heard stories of planetarium folk being told by fundie visitors not to mention the “e” word, even if they’re using to to describe stellar evolution.

    Don’t forget these Ben Stein classics from the Expelled tour.

    “Darwinism doesn’t explain how the planets stay in their orbits.”

    “His followers claim it explains everything including astronomy.”

    “Don’t fire people because they say the planets do stay in their orbits because of something other than Darwinism.”

  58. Darth Robo

    Also RB, why do you (as a Young Earth Creationist, or YEC for short) do you place limits on an all-powerful universe-creating Almighty God based solely on a literal interpretation of ancient superstitious texts written by flawed fallible superstitious human men over two millennia ago? Other than that, is there any reason why one can’t believe in God AND accept scientific facts?

  59. TheBlackCat

    Question: What are the top 5 scientific facts and subsequent proofs that go with those facts to support evolution?

    Fine, I’ll bite:

    1. Direct observation and experimentation of one species changing into another. This includes insects, including fruit fly experiments and the London subway tunnel mosquito that evolved within the last 100 years from surface-dwelling species. It also includes many speciation events in plants. It even includes mice, where the common house mouse introduced to an island 200 years ago has evolved into a new species.

    2. Hox genes. Hox genes are master regulatory genes that are present in most animals. They are what are ultimately responsible for an animal’s body plan, such as how many segments an animal has (even vertebrates like humans are segmented), where body parts like limbs go and what form those body parts take, and a wide variety of other features of organisms. Changes to them can cause massive changes to an organism’s body plan. For instance they can change the antenna of insects into legs, or the fins to legs and feet. They are extremely highly conserved, that is they operate in the same manner in a wide variety of different animals with radically different body plans. Pretty much everything but jellyfish and their relatives and sponges and their relatives use them, and even jellyfish and their relatives use very similar genes for regulating their development.

    3. Homology: the sharing of unnecessary of even detremimental features across a wide variety of organisms, and how organisms are similar in different, completely unrelated ways. For instance the bird wing and the human hand are more similar to each other than the bird wing is to the insect wing, or the human hand is to the insect limbs. Bird wings are more similar to human hands than they are to insect wings, but bird kidneys are more similar to human kidneys than to the insect equivalent to a kidney. This applies at a more basic level. The pattern of development in birds, their skeletal structure, their internal organs, their skin, their DNA, their biochemistry, their oxygen-carring proteins, their metabolism, all are more closely related to those of humans than they are to those of insects. They are more similar to those of humans than they are to those of fish, but they are more similar to those of crocodiles than they are to those of humans. To an overwhelming extent, species that are more similar in one basic way are more similar in all ways.

    This is even true of flaws. For instance almost all mammals can synthesize vitamin C. Humans can’t. Neither can other primates, our closest relatives. What is more, we all have the remnants of the vitamin C gene, and it is broken in the same way in all of them. Other shared flaws in our biology, for instance what are called “retrotransposons”, basically disabled genetic parasites, are more similar in more closely related species than in less closely-related ones.

    By working out the geneology of species using individual examples of these shared features and then comparing them, figuring out where they disagree and where they agree, we can get a measure of confidence in those geneologies. That measure of confidence is many orders of magnitude better than the best estimate of anything in physics.

    4. The ability to predict undiscovered fossils. A great example is tiktaalik, a so-called “fishapod”, basically an animal that was in the process of transitioning from a fish to a four-legged land animal (a tetrapod). By looking at near-tetrapod fish and near-fish tetrapods, and by thinking about the sorts of environments that could lead a fish to evolve the ability to go onto land, scientists came up with a specific set of characteristics a previously undiscovered transitional form would have. They also figured out when it would live, what sort of environment it would inhabit, and where in the planet that environment would exist. Then, using the known movements of the continents, they figured out which area that had exposed rocks from that time period would have been in the right place at that time. So the scientists went there, looked around, and sure enough the exact fossil they predicted was there. It had never before been seen anywhere else in the world. If evolution was not true, than this would not have worked. Knowing when and where two species lived would not tell you anything about where you could find a third species.

    5. Atavism. Atavism refers to an organism that reverts to an earlier evolutionary stage. This is not normally the case, but it does happen from time the time. For instance chickens are occasionally born with teeth, even though no modern bird has teeth. Dolphins and whales are occasionally born with hind limbs, even though normally in dolphins and whales the “hind limb” is reduced to a single pair of tiny hip bones that are not even connected to the hip anymore. Some whales have even been caught with legs and feet. Horses are occasionally born with multiple toes, like their ancestors had. Humans are even occasionally born with tails. This makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint, since the genes responsible for certain traits can just be turned off or slightly modified to cause the observed change, and these changes can occasionally reverse.

    They are usually detrimental or at least neutral to the organism and so don’t last in the population, but occasionally they persist. An example is the group of organisms called Myxozoa. These are extremely simple, generally having only one or a couple of cells, and look and behave like protists (the single-celled ancestors of animals, plants, and fungi). However, they have a unique characteristic called a stenophore that is only found in jellyfish and their relatives. Looking more closely, it became clear that besides their simple nature. everything about these organisms is more similar to jellyfish and their relatives than anything else. The only plausible conclusion is that a relative of jellyfish returned to the single-celled or near single-celled structure of its ancestors..

  60. Lawrence

    The Washington Post article about the Liberty University students going to the Museum of Natural History was very depressing.

  61. Gary Ansorge

    1) thinking is an energetic process
    1a) the human brain uses about 20% of the metabolic productivity of the body
    2) Faith replaces the effort(energy intensiveness) required to think thus:
    3) one would expect thinking to be a less valued process in an environment deficient in high energy nutrients
    4) the two most prevalent world religions have their genesis in an environment noted for its low nutrient availability (ie: Desert environments)
    5) thus religion reduces the energy required to live

    Thinking is hard work and is best practiced in a high nutrition environment. So , eat plenty of veggies, meat and chocolate and keep those brain cells popping,,,

    GAry 7

  62. QUASAR

    No offense intended, but you americans are already screwed up enough!

  63. ccpetersen

    Quasar: laugh at us while you can — that creationist drivel is growing around the world, and not always exported by us colonials.

  64. Gary Ansorge

    Au contraire, Quasar: We have plenty of room to get even more screwed up. We could become a radical fundy christian nation, armed with several thousand nukes.

    How’s THAT for a world wide conundrum?
    That would scare me far more than a radical muslim nation armed only with scud missiles and an oil shut off valve,,,

    There is SOME evidence for intelligence in America(such as this Blog) but as in all human endeavor, nothing is certain.

    GAry 7

  65. Your Name's Not Bruce?

    RB? Are you still here?

  66. Bad Albert

    “RB? Are you still here?”

    No. Right after he asked the question he stuck his head back in the sand.

  67. Alan IronAISS

    o not worth discuss something with logic if religions are illogical.

  68. Alan IronAISS

    Creationism: is a logical thinking into a self- contradiction of logic

  69. Darth Robo

    >>>”Quasar: laugh at us while you can — that creationist drivel is growing around the world, and not always exported by us colonials.”

    Actually, most of the creo material (whether directly or indirectly) is from the US. A bunch of ID “information packs” were sent to many schools across the UK, and these had their origins from the DI in San Francisco. We have our own fundie organisations, such as the laughably labelled: Truth In Science, but they do have the support of the DI. Heck, even Harun Yahya’s book in Turkey had effectively taken all the ID arguments and put it into one volume. The only difference is, he apparently thinks it’s “dishonest” to name it “ID” and so he simply refers to it as “Creationism” instead.

  70. RB

    Hello everyone,

    First off thanks for the many helpful responses. I’ve learned by several of the responses and will follow up. The expanded explanation of scientific research and that it changes was helpful, as well as the list of evidances that I need to study more. I appreciate the info and the passion. To the one commet as a YEC I do believe the Almight God of the Bible and Sciencentific fact can be reconcilled thus my question here. I plan to come back and continue to read and join in where and when I can.

    I will part with one last question: Why does the age of the earth and the beliefs in creationism or evolution really matter to you/us?

  71. TheBlackCat

    Why does the age of the earth and the beliefs in creationism or evolution really matter to you/us?

    A variety of reasons:

    First, we live in a society completely dependent on science and technology. YECs require that we reject everything we know about the universe, and thus reject the very science and technology that underlies our society. If the YECs get their way and convince society to abandon all knowledge that conflicts with their religious views, it would also require abandoning all our modern technology, which would lead to the death of billions. A society of hunter/gatherers can only support a few tens of millions of people, tops.

    That bears repating: for the Earth to be in the age range YECs claim, everything we have learned from science must be wrong. There is not a single branch of science that does not conflict fundamentally with a young Earth. Ancient history does as well. This is not just evolution that we are debating here, it is science versus the total rejection of science.

    I know that we would not actually return to a hunter-gatherer, YECs are hypocrites who reject science but have no problem reaping the benefits of it. But in the modern world a society’s success depends largely on its ability to develop innovative science and technology. If children this country are raised to reject science, and to have no idea whatsoever what it is or how it is done, this country will fall. We will be quickly surpassed by other countries that are busy training excellent scientists and engineers. That is the second reason

    Third, I am a strong supporter of truth and a strong opponent of lies. That is not to say that all creationists are liars, many have just bought into the lies told to them by others. But the ones who come up with the arguments that their followers parrot are documented liars.

    Fourth, I do not think creationists have the right to force their religious beliefs on everyone else. And don’t say evolution is a religion, it is no more a religion than chemistry is. And do not say it is equal to atheism, worldwide the vast majority of religious people accept evolution without any problem.

    Fifth, creationists are dependent on preventing people from having any critical thinking skills, understanding how the world works, and being able to spot and protect themselves from deception. This leaves people vulnerable to manipulation and fraud. We see it all the time, for instance from faith-healers, so called “money purifiers”, snake oil salespersons, and countless others. It would be easy to spot these sorts of scams if people we taught basic critical thinking skills, the very skills that creationists don’t want people to have.

    Finally, a lot of creationist arguments are insults to me and my friends. Ignoring the ones where they say that people who accept evolution are incapable of having morals, more basic arguments like the “second law of thermodynamics” argument requires that everyone in the entire scientific community be nothing more than idiots who can’t understand even the most basic high-school level science concepts. This is ignoring that molecular biology is largely the study of entropy in large organic molecules, meaning many molecular biologists use every day the very principles are supposed to not have even heard of.

  72. Mark Hansen

    RB, it matters because if you want to teach kids that the earth is only a few thousand years old despite the evidence to the contrary, then you are lying. Children don’t deserve to be lied to when learning (Who amongst you would give your child a serpent when he asks for fish?) and when they are lied to, it goes against your own beliefs which makes either your beliefs nonsensical or your actions hypocritical.

  73. Your Name's Not Bruce?

    RB;

    Do you seriously believe that scientists with no prior knowledge of the bible and the book of Genesis would actually come up with evidence that we live in a universe that is as young as you claim? What evidence is there that the universe is 6000 years old? If geologists and paleontologists go out and dig in the ground, what is it that they can find and study that will amount to evidence for a young earth? What can astronomers and cosmologists studying the rest of our soloar system, the Milky way and all the other myriad galaxies find that would count for evidence of a young earth and a young universe? How has this evidence been missed or hidden? Why does science claim that the universe is so old if it is not? Are these scientists stupid or evil? That’s what a serious commitment to young universe creationism entails.

    Even if our current estimates of the age of everything happened to be wrong, that does not mean that a young earth wins by default. Not without evidence. I don’t believe that this is the case, but it is logically possible that everything is actually older than we think or several million years old instead of billions. You still need to offer evidence for your claim, evidence from the real world. The claims of a holy book don’t cut it. Hindu cosmology operates on cycles of billions of years, but that doesn’t make it “right”, just lucky. No evidence, no seat at the table of science.

  74. Reptile keeper

    @ Mark Hansen :

    “Who amongst you would give your child a serpent when he asks for fish?”

    Me. Keeping serpents beats keeping goldfish any day! ;-)

    Reptiles are much cleaner & easier to look after. Plus, NOT all snakes are venomous, y’know & many species of snake (carpet python, f’r instance) make great pets & are quite different & cool. Try it. Go on!

    Snakes & other reptiles have an undeserevedly bad rep but actually pretty neat! :-)

  75. AWOL

    RB? Are you there RB? Did you read any of this RB?

    * crickets *

  76. Mark Hansen

    LOL, reptile keeper, you know what I meant. And I have to agree, snakes are more fascinating than fish. Possibly tastier, too ;)

  77. Your Name's Not Bruce?

    I wonder if RB knows that geologists in the early 19th century had pretty much determined that the earth was quite old, decades before Darwin started jotting ideas down in his “transmutation” notebooks. Flood geology had pretty much been discredited; many of those doing the studying and discrediting of literal interpretation of Genesis as it pertained to the geological and fossil record were Church of England ministers. The idea of extinction and a temporal faunal succession, with changes in the makeup of species populating the earth (that is to say some concept of evolution) were percolating amongs scientists (Lamark, anyone?) In scientific circles, young earth geology has been a dead letter for almost two centuries; it has been discredited and abandoned.

    RB, I have some questions for you. Have any “Flood geologists” done the necessary research to show how their biblically inspired (dictated) “explanation” of the fossil record better fits the observed evidence than modern paleontology, stratigraphy, sedimentology, plate tectonics, geomagnetism, subatomic physics and a host of other scientific disciplines does? Until they do, their views have no place in a science class. RB: shall we also return to a geocentric universe, a flat earth, astrology and other discredited and abandoned bronze age beliefs to replace modern science?

    RB wonders about the passion and vehemence of those of us who speak out against creationism. He might want to look up a relevant term; “quotemining.”

    http://www.anevolvingcreation.net/collapse/index.htm

    If he comes to a true and deep understanding of the implications and illegitimacy of this practice, he might be a little closer to the answer of why we can get impatient, angry and rude.

  78. Your Name's Not Bruce?

    RB? Where’d you go RB?

  79. All of this happened 4.5 billion years or 6,000 years ago….can’t we just get over it?

    But, I will say that I think our educational system should be science based. If a parent wants to teach their child about creationism that occurred 6,000 years ago and has no basis in fact, then that should occur in the home or church, not the school.

  80. Alex Parky

    Allah be praised!

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