Texas wrapup: Yup. Doomed.

By Phil Plait | March 28, 2009 12:01 pm

So the vote was made, the standards were set, and now the dust is settling. And what do we see?

I see Texas being the laughing stock on a world stage, finally replacing the Kansas fiasco from the 1990s.

First, a brief intro: this last week, after months of discussion, the Texas State Board of Education voted on the science standards, the baseline scientific knowledge students going through school should know. They vary across grade level, of course, and while there are national standards, states set their own. In general, they use experts in both science and education to advise them, and many states simply adopt or adapt the national standards (I have some experience here– for six years I developed educational activities based on NASA science, and did lot of work with educators and the standards).

States should have this right. The problem is, school boards can easily get packed with creationists. And that’s where we get back to Texas.

Ignoring or even outright denouncing the advice of experts, creationists have been trying in any way they can to attack evolution in the standards. The latest gambit has been what’s called a "strengths and weaknesses" clause in the standards, which sounds reasonable on the surface: when learning scientific theories, students should understand both where the theory is firm and where it needs work.

The problem, of course, is that creationists are using this as a wedge to lie about evolution. And yes, I mean lie: they hammer away with old, outdated, and easily-disproven ideas in an attempt to make evolution look weak. But let’s be clear: evolutionary ideas are the very basis of modern biology, and are as solid a fact as gravity is. If you think otherwise, you are wrong. This is not just a theory. It’s fact.

The good news from Texas is that the "strengths and weaknesses" clause did not pass the vote. The sad news is that science and reason did not prevail because they are right and the creationists had a change of heart: it didn’t pass because the vote was a tie, 7-7, and it needed a majority to win. So basically, the creationists lost by forfeit.

After that, the news sinks rapidly. The far-right Republicans on the Board were not finished. They put in language to weaken the Big Bang theory, saying that there are different estimates for the age of the Universe. You can try to be coy and say this is also strictly true, but again that’s a cheat and a lie. The woman who proposed this is obviously a young-Earth creationist, and when she says "different ages", she means 6000 years. This belief in a young Earth, is, simply, dead wrong. We know the Universe is 13.7 billion years old, and the Earth, while younger than that, is still 4.55 or so billion years old itself. This is not some random guess, this is rock-solid (literally) science, confirmed independently from such diverse scientific fields as astronomy, physics, chemistry, anthropology, archaeology… and even the study of how languages change over time shows the humanity is older than 6000 years.

These same people on the Board added language to the standards to weaken teaching about global warming. Don McLeroy, who is a creationist and also the Chairman of the BoE, said that climate change is "hooey". They also attack the science on the complexity of the cell, and the initial genesis of life (called abiogeneisis; life from non-life). These are all standard creationist tactics.

With all this, I’m surprised they didn’t add standards about how the tooth fairy is real, the Alamo siege was won using prayer, and Hitler and Darwin were secretly married in New Hampshire by a crocoduck.

Do I sound unhappy? Yeah, damn straight I am. These creationists are trying to destroy science in Texas. And they’re succeeding. They are imposing their narrow religious and ideological views on reality, and it’s the schoolchildren in the state who will suffer.

And they’re not alone. Think you’re safe from creationist nonsense because you live in Vermont, or Illinois, or Oregon? Think again. Texas is so big and has so many students in it that they have a huge amount of leverage on the textbook industry. This means that the creationists will put their weaselly language into the textbooks, and those will get sold all over the country.

A couple of months ago I took a look at my daughter’s Earth Science book, and it has a decent chapter about evolution in it, hitting all the right notes: descent with modification, common ancestors, the fossil record, and so on. But how long will that last? I wouldn’t be at all surprised if her next textbook says that scientists disagree about evolution (they don’t disagree at all that it happens, just on some details of how it happens), that some people disagree that the Universe is billions of years old, and that the environment is just hunky-dory, so let’s go drill some more, mmmmkay?

It seems incredible that here we are, in the 21st century, and a group of less than a dozen religious zealots has the kind of power to affect millions of children across the country, but there you have it. One problem with a democracy — and it’s a doozy — is that it’s possible to game the system, and give far too much power to people who are far too unqualified for it.

And it’s brought us here.

Now, the good news: it’s not entirely too late. If you live in some other state, find out who is on your school board [Edited to add: go here for that information]. Find out when they hold meetings, and find out when they adopt their standards. And if it’s soon, or even if it’s not for a while yet, make your voice heard. And even better, when elections come up for the board, find out where the candidates stand. Ask them point blank: do you think evolution is true? Do you think creationism is true? How would you vote on science standards for our state?

Don’t be shy. I did this right after moving to Boulder, and found out what was what. Don’t assume someone else will do it for you!

Because if you do, you’ll get a Board of Education like the one in Texas. And as for them, well, you’ve seen this before:

Texas: doomed

For more on this, check the Texas Freedom Network blog, Pharyngula, and Astroengine. Do not rest, do not waiver, and do not assume this problem will go away. That’s just what they want you to do.

The bad guys never give up, and neither should we.

Comments (204)

Links to this Post

  1. Texas wrapup: Yup. Doomed. « Bigmikeh1965’s Weblog | March 28, 2009
  2. Texas science battle fought to a draw : Sweet Yummy Reality | March 28, 2009
  3. Florida Citizens for Science » Blog Archive » And in other news … | March 28, 2009
  4. Day 64: Discovery lands, Texas simmers down and Yucatan’s water heads to the Midwest | anneminard.com | March 28, 2009
  5. Ignorance in Shul « Simple Country Physicist | March 29, 2009
  6. Femmostroppo Reader - March 30, 2009 — Hoyden About Town | March 29, 2009
  7. Laughable « A Man With A Ph.D. | March 29, 2009
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  9. Well, Texas! How do you like your culture war! « Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub | March 30, 2009
  10. Texas Science Mumbo Jumbo | dangerous blog | March 30, 2009
  11. Texas/Evolution Round-Up | The Starnes | March 30, 2009
  12. The United States of Creationism | Spinor Info | March 31, 2009
  13. Universe's age erased from science standards - Bad Astronomy and Universe Today Forum | March 31, 2009
  14. Sophie's Ladder. Christian theology, philosophy, world religions, science. | April 2, 2009
  15. Reforming Education in America - jeffanderson.us|Blog | April 2, 2009
  16. Universe's age erased from science standards - Page 2 - Bad Astronomy and Universe Today Forum | April 23, 2009
  17. Whats wrong with the Texas Board of Education - (TX) - City-Data Forum | May 10, 2009
  18. Whats wrong with the Texas Board of Education - (TX) - Page 2 - City-Data Forum | May 11, 2009
  19. Another Look at Theory and Law | Tangled Up in Blue Guy | July 5, 2009
  20. Blog Anthology Final Selections! | Young Australian Skeptics | February 28, 2010
  1. Brian

    Dear Texas State Board of Education: @$#* %&+$ &%@!

  2. QUASAR

    Ignorance and dogma will one day destroys us all if mankind doesn’t wake up fast out of these bloody dark ages of thought! I thought that this century was supposed to be a new age of enlightment, a golden age of science where we would’ve already shaken off the shackles of religulous dogma. And to think that we have to defend science, you would never have this problem in socialist states, like China because over there they have something called state atheism!

  3. QUASAR

    And I think it should be called the Texas State Board of Indoctrination! And schools shoud be called labor training camps!

    And what sucks the most is that in some parts of the world “schools” are mandatory and they don’t teach evolution in them. In Texas you can homeschool your children!

  4. As a seminarian (a Baptist in the South, nonetheless!), I find this completely disheartening and utterly unbelievable.

    Not only is this a blow to the educational system (not just in Texas) and the advancement of scientific study, it’s also a blow to religion in general and Christianity in the US South specifically.

    There’s a growing population of moderate to progressive folks in the Baptist community that is slowly realizing what these zealots are doing to our religion and our children… hopefully Christians here in the South will have a new ace in the coming generation (and before too much damage is done).

    Sam

  5. Bigfoot

    Phil, I think your call to arms is timely, and I intend to follow your recommendations about leaning more about our local and state school board and its members, especially during election times (in Oregon, we are allowed to pay for statements about candidates in voter’s guides, and I live in a highly secular school district, so I could actually make a real difference).

    Some additional questions I will ask: “Do you understand what scientific method is? Do you understand why it is important to teach only scientific method, and the results of scientific method, as science?”

  6. Absolutely speechless. It looks like the lolcat picture has finally come true.

    Plan B?

  7. Cusp

    I still don’t understand why the US has state school boards and not a single national cirriculum. Why so backward?

  8. It’s like the faint chatter on the airwaves of a few crazy dogmatic hardliners has grown in volume month after month. Unfortunately, they seem to be organized and appear to have a thirst for high-powered positions in state infrastructure. I’m not even going to ask, “How did this happen?” It’s beyond that. When teachers are forced to teach something that is totally wrong, they may be forced to leave science teaching all together. This will only help to bolster creationism as teaching positions will be open for teachers with creationist agendas.

    As you say Phil, the children of Texas are doomed.

    Thanks for the link to Astroengine’s post too, we need to start talking about this more. Thank you for your excellent continuing coverage.

    Cheers, Ian

  9. CR

    Creationists give Christianity a bad name.
    They give humanity a bad name.

    I wish they would go away, exchange their lies in private, bow to their dogmatic adherence to man-made ‘rules’ and stop forcing the rest of the world to accept their views.

  10. Pieter Kok

    California and New York are big states: why not push for a clause in their respective curricula that bans any undue “caution” regarding evolution and cosmology? That should offset the Texans in the battle for the textbooks.

  11. Old Geezer

    I must really question your assertion that, “States should have this right” (to set educational standards). In the days when most folks died within a few miles of where they were born, this might have been true. Today the job market is global. If, as an employer, I must keep a running tally of which states provide which level of education in which fields, it simply complicates the process of hiring. A Dean’s list graduate from Texas might not pass Elementary Biology in Colorado. Where would this person rank in New Hampshire? A national educational standard with a national system of ranking would help me know whether I am hiring a genius or merely the scum that rose to the top of a scuzzy pond.

  12. I think the Big Bang Theory is safe.

    Seriously, these people are utter crazies and it isn’t just me who says that, it’s most of the population. Notwithstanding the standards, anybody who tries to introduce religion into the science classroom can still be fired and any public school that tries to introduce religious ideas into teaching in any way is just asking to be on the losing end of a lawsuit.

  13. This, among many other reasons, is why we are (secular) homeschoolers. Not that we’re opposed to public education, or that we’ve “given up” on influencing school systems; we vote in school board elections and we vote in favor of almost every school bond. We just want to make sure our kids get good educations in the interim, using real books, not textbooks. (Please don’t flame me. You are free to educate your kids however you’d like, and we’d like to be free to do so as well.)

  14. Garfield

    Since there is no scientific evidence for Creationism/Young Earth etc., isn’t any attempt to include those concepts in the science curriculum clearly based on religious beliefs, and doesn’t that then make the issue something that can be argued in the courts? Is there anyone or any organization with standing in Texas capable of filing suit to block the new curriculum guidelines?

    In a related matter, surely in this day of printing from electronic files instead of plates, there’s no need for publishers to foist the “Texas version” of science textbooks on other, smaller states. Is there something people in other states can do to pressure publishers to delete religious arguments against science?

    Yikes.

  15. Phil2

    Keep fighting the good fight, Phil.

  16. In every list of comments about school standards, there will always be a handful of comments from sincere people that say things that mention “theory, not a fact” or “micro evolution but not macro evolution” or “it has real problems, look it up!”, or “even Darwin recanted in later life”. These people offer the strongest argument against the concept of “academic freedom” and “teach the controversy” and “strengths and weaknesses”. Each of these well-meaning people believes the misconceptions told to them by the authority figures in their lives that they trust, but ultimately lied to them. Why would we think that the teachers that hold these beliefs would do a better job teaching our children?

  17. Oops, my apologies for attempting to post a picture with NSFW language. Sometimes my passion gets the better of me… If anyone wants to see the picture I attempted to post (which most likely wasn’t approved), just go to my blog, I’ll have it there in a bit.

  18. Annette

    I was going to say thank goodness I live in Canada, but seeing how we have our own creationists in politics I can’t even gloat over that.

    This is a worldwide problem. Our minds are trying to grasp supernatural premises in a world built on technology and an individualistic open mindset. For example, a Muslim friend of mine said that he has seen pictures of his grandma as a teenager wearing little 50`s western style skirts, yet now in the present his sisters are expected to wear extremely modest attire in his country. So we are already seeing in other parts of the world how the primitive religious doctrine can win over modern belief systems. It is the last attempt for the fundamentalists to keep control by fear, and sadly in some areas they are winning.

    We are at a crossroads where the majority of people aren’t being satisfied by religious explanations… so why is it that the few fundies left are still making the decisions? They are promoting their cause using the very systems built up to protect us from such injustice.

  19. Dan I.

    [img]http://monasticmumblings.typepad.com/.a/6a00d83451575d69e200e5546e871f8833-320wi[/img]

  20. IVAN3MAN

    @ Larian LeQuella: “Oops, my apologies for attempting to post a picture with NSFW language. Sometimes my passion gets the better of me…”

    Bad boy! :P

  21. @ Annette:

    so why is it that the few fundies left are still making the decisions? They are promoting their cause using the very systems built up to protect us from such injustice.

    Indeed, they exploit the very freedoms provided by our secular government to promote their anti-secular nonsense. If they get their “christian nation,” will they guarantee the right to “teach the controversy’?

  22. Elmar_M

    Hmm, why dont some people get together and file a class action lawsuit? From what we europeans know, winning even a stupid courtcase in the US is quite easy if you have a good lawyer and enough money (or enough people). Sue the suckers and make it a precedence case. Just an idea.

  23. Adrian Lopez

    While this is certainly a bad thing, there’s still a chance to sue school districts on the basis of individual cases. If they adopt a textbook that contains language that alludes to religious beliefs, then sue to have it removed. If your child’s teacher incorporates religious dogma into her classes, then sue to have it stop. The constitution doesn’t cease to operate due to Texas incorporating language that potentially allows for religious objections to gain a foothold.

  24. murf

    LOL. Did ignorance and dogma bring us the atomic bomb? No. Biological weapons? No. Nerve Gas? Nope. All science.

    Funny how you are all about science but you’re too afraid to defend your theory (fact? Don’t make me laugh. Evolution is unprovable), nope, rather than defend it, anything else must be suppressed. Welcome to Orwell’s world.

    “There are only two possibilities as to how life arose; one is spontaneous generation arising to evolution, the other is a supernatural creative act of God, there is no third possibility. Spontaneous generation that life arose from non-living matter was scientifically disproved 120 years ago by Louis Pasteur and others. That leaves us with only one possible conclusion, that life arose as a creative act of God. I will not accept that philosophically because I do not want to believe in God, therefore I choose to believe in that which I know is scientifically impossible, spontaneous generation arising to evolution.” George Wald, Nobel Prize Winner in Biology.

  25. Maybe Young Earth Creationists just need a simple visual aid to show them the validity of their claims. Here’s a different way to look at the history of the Universe vs the Creationist model:

    http://petros-speaks.blogspot.com/2009/03/young-earth-creationists-vs-reality.html

    I leave out a few things, but you get the idea… :-)

  26. MadScientist

    Of course evolution is wrong, the bible says so!

    Just hope that those people don’t design and build bridges, skyscrapers, etc. – who knows what other nonsense they believe.

    Now it’s up to individuals or small groups of parents to sue schools for teaching religion. Such a pity that families have to waste their money on lawsuits thanks to imbeciles introducing religion into the classrooms.

    I have a novel idea: stop encouraging religion, tax the churches.

  27. So who cares what they want to teach… If evolution is correct, it should be able to stand up to whatever is taught next to it. What is science afraid of? As a historian, think about all of the “white oriented” history that is taught in American public schools… why are we not not up in arms about “black history month” or “african american studies”, which often present a VERY different view of history. You don’t see historians up in arms trying to prove one viewpoint as historical fact. When scientists make such a big deal out of this, it looks like you are afraid of other viewpoints. While we might not agree that creationism is scientific and may find TONS wrong with it, to revert to name calling and fear tactics makes it feel like education is afraid of creationism, which only fuels the fire.

  28. Yeah, that board meeting was quite something: a systematic degutting of specific language referring to some of science’ pillars. Pretty scary; the Creationists have their strategies down. I heard a subtle one in the works: if you get your creepy little change through at just one grade level, you can go back later and change others “to make the language consistent.” Just listening was so educational; I’d never heard anything like it in my life.
    By the way, the Texas ed board meeting audio files can be found here: http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/sboe/audio_archived.html

  29. Charlie Young

    I was going to recommend we build a wall around Texas like they want to do to Mexico, but I’d only be stooping to their level of stupid.

  30. Jay

    Sell Texas back to Mexico and tell them well throw in Chuck Norris and George Bush for free.

  31. Richard Colbert

    I am a non-religious believer in a higher power. I believe that the books of the bible (and most of the gnostic gospels that didn’t make it into the bible where inspired by forces or beings more advance and or more powerful than us. However, I also believe that there is an immense amount of inaccuracy in the bible (as well as all other religious texts) due to multiple translations and a lack of better understanding among those that wrote them or rewrote them.

    With that said let me say I believe that the earth is billions of years old. I believe bi-peds (upright walking humanoids) have been on this planet in one form or another for several million years. I believe that modern (homo-sapien) mankind has been around for at least 15,000 years and probably upwards of 150,000 years. I believe that Evolution is a NATURALLY OCCURRING EVENT. I also believe that sometimes it needs a little help, be it from a “higher power” or some freak accident.

  32. Rodrigo

    Poor Mexico, if they have Texas back it would make their educational standards a lot lower

  33. Charlie

    This issue is nothing new and Texas purposefully influences textbooks in this manner. It doesn’t matter that there are other big states in the US because no other state adopts textbooks in the manner Texas does. They have one book statewide while other states allow each individual local school district to adopt a different book. Volume is what gives Texas the pull it has with the publishers. Creationists from way back understood this as early as the ’60s, Google “Gabler” for more information.

    As for why the US doesn’t have a national science curriculum, it goes back to our system of government. The constitution doesn’t call for a national education system, therefore it fell in the realm of state powers thanks to the 10th amendment. Amending the constitution to fix this while possible would be difficult. The only power the federal government exercises over education currently is through use of federal programs and money.

  34. Jason

    Nice. Now I remember why I stopped coming to this site and reading this magazine. A lot of your “facts” are really nothing better than an educated guess with an awful lot of assumptions. The Scientific Method may have been used to determine these “facts” but that doesn’t make it a fact. Evolution is NOT a proven fact anymore than is anthropogenic global warming…..or are we causing the planet to cool off now? My simian gray matter is all confused.

    I am of the mindset that science CAN answer many questions. But there are many, many more it cannot. The origin of the universe is one of those. I find it laughable that we still cannot accurately predict the weather 100% of the time but claim without a doubt the earth is 13.7 billion years old. So….there’s absolutely no doubt there’s something out there in the unexplored vastness of space that could be an anomaly and maybe the universe is only 150 million years old? You know this for a fact? It has been declared 13.7 billion years old and not a tenth of a billion of a year older. Right. It’s a far less stretch to believe in God than it is to believe scientists are infallible and able to date the universe so accurately.

    Sorry, I just don’t have that much faith in you.

  35. James

    Phil, you don’t need to worry really. The Board might tell us WHAT to teach, but they will never, ever, come out and see what we are really teaching. 8000+ schools in Texas, there is no way that they could ever come out and check us all, all day, every day. Can’t be done. It’s like the folks down here who want to deport 15+ illegal aliens. Can’t be done either. They say there’s an easy way, but they never say how.Because there isn’t. You couldn’t even COUNT that high in your lifetime, much less do a roundup of that many people…But I digress….
    They may say this is what you need to teach, but those of us in the know, in the classroom, know better. And WE are ultimately in charge.

  36. Kaz

    What sickens me about this current vote/situation is that the news is reporting it as a “win” for science when so many other amendments were put into practice. People who don’t have the time or inclination to delve deeper into what actually went on at the meeting on Friday will walk away believing this *is* another Kansas or Delaware, where science won and ID/creationists were put back in their place. Too many other niggling changes were enacted that Texas’ science standards are all the poorer for it and so many textbooks will be affected just the same in areas other than “evolution” directly.

    It would be nice to see some of the stimulus money for education spent on helping a few new textbook companies to start printing better, more scientifically accurate books and competitively priced to supply those states (most of the rest) who don’t feel like supporting the “so goes Texas, so goes the nation” education default standardization due to textbook supplies.

  37. Vigilance is important, but a lot of the overwrought hand-wringing in comments is a bit over the top and reflects some rather insular thinking. The whole world is not slowly being consumed by religious conservatives because of a few anecdotal examples and hot spots of ignorance.

    The word to keep in mind is “zeitgeist”. The pendulum was driven far to the right because of fear and it’s in the process of swinging back in another direction. Instability drives the fear that motivates people to rely on religion to calm them down. Stability drives it back.

    One of the best things you can do is to promote your agenda (knowledge, science, etc.) positively *and* help your communities. People who have confidence that other people will be there to help them don’t have to rely on their God. As long as Americans are selfish and complain about “socialism” and taxes instead of trying to build a culture where people feel secure in their future, they will be fueling religious zealotry.

    You can take the entire Japanese culture as an example. There are incredibly few religious people in Japan and a total embrace of science. There’s also a lot of socialism both in the government and the business world.

  38. Thanny

    Maybe the best thing those of us outside Texas can do is apply pressure to our state legislatures to pass laws mandating minimum science standards (real ones) for textbooks.

    That way, the textbook industry won’t be able to just print to the least common denominator, and might actually start lobbying for change inside Texas to further their own economic interests.

  39. i find it funny that proponents of free scientific inquiry are eager to fight and denounce the creationist agenda in the nation’s schools but are still so eager to support the real culprit behind this crackpottery: the state monopoly in education. these schools should be free to teach anything they want. parents should also be free not to send their kids there. in a free market, where schools can be started and run based on profit opportunities and not leeching off the public doll, the best schools win, the best ideas win. sure, there will still be crackpot schools out there. but when those kids are unable to get jobs later in life because they have no grasp of science and reason, then fewer and fewer people will send their kids there until you have only the real diehard crazies left in those schools. and who really cares about that?

    censorship of ideas, even completely looney ones, is not the way to approach this. a free competition of ideas is the way to approach this. may the strongest idea win, which is quite obviously not creationism.

  40. Tom

    As a Texan I feel ashamed that a bunch of ignorant throwbacks buffoons decided to us back into an age of ignorance. Sorry, America.

  41. Tom

    [Corrected Version]
    As a Texan I feel ashamed that a bunch of ignorant buffoons decided to throw us back into an age of ignorance. Sorry, America.

  42. Elmar_M

    To all those that think that “showing the weaknesses of the theory of evolution” is a good thing (lol), I have a suggestion (lets see how you would stomack that):
    How about it becoming a requirement to show other ideas like evolution in sunday school and in church. You know show the weaknesses of the creationism theory. After all, if it has any merrit, “it should be able to stand up to whatever is taught next to it”. Right?
    I cant even imagine what outrage that idea would cause among you creatists, religious fanatics and intelligent designers.

  43. Bob

    Sad… as a Canadian I’m happy to be far from that kind of nonsense. Yet, I feel sorry for you folks. Looks like the inverse of what should be. Instead of bringing knowledge to those in need, some retarded (the most gentle way to call them) decided it was time to lower the amount of knowledge in your country.

    Good luck, and let’s hope IVAN picture won’t become true (except for the Canadian Environnmental Provinces ;)

  44. Macabro

    Absolutely speechless.

  45. Jeff d

    I was going wait for a better text book for my texas students – but I am still waiting for one to evolve. turns out – evolving a complex item from discordant matter just can’t be done.

    Guess we will have to invent another idea about that.

  46. MrWill

    I can guarantee that in my classroom real science will be taught. I was actually somewhat hoping the strengths and weaknesses language would have made it in to the standards. Imagine the anger from creationist parents when their little Johnny no longer believes in god because he was presented with the weaknesses of his religion when he tried to say “god did it”.

    As to the textbooks issue, I don’t see them existing as a major instructional tool for much longer anyway. In the past five years I’ve only used them minimally in all three of the science courses I’ve taught. They are more a reference for specific information than the guiding force for instruction. If something like creationist theory did appear in a textbook for one of my classes, it probably wouldn’t be used for that lesson.

  47. Valdis Kletnieks

    @murf: “(fact? Don’t make me laugh. Evolution is unprovable),”

    @jason: “Evolution is NOT a proven fact anymore than is anthropogenic global warming…..or are we causing the planet to cool off now? My simian gray matter is all confused.”

    I know the rules for the comments section prohibit advocating bad things, and I try really hard to think kindly of my fellow humans, but some days there’s just too much temptation to wish a nice difficult case of antibiotic-resistant *anything* onto non-believers.

    How did you think the bacteria got antibiotic-resistant? Yep, that’s evolution in action.

  48. @murf, as someone who was probably smarter than me said: EVERY scientific advance has been morally ambiguous.

    Of course, without science, you wouldn’t be posting your half thought out post here, and a host of other things. It’s the HUMANS who use science that put them on the side of reprehensible or good.

  49. John

    As a Texan and a Christian (Catholic), I have to echo Tom’s comments below and I’d like to add that I’m saddened, shamed, and disgusted (and PO’ed) about how much ignorance like this is gaining such a foothold in not only my home state, but in the entire country in general.

    It’s as if many of the things this country has stood for and has made this country so great for so long (science, technology, education, etc) are being thrown away in the name of quasi-religious BS and politics. The stupidity and ignorance that these people are foisting upon the rest of us, despite the best efforts of so many rational and intelligent people to stop it (which seems to be failing – which is just about the saddest part), makes me wonder where our country will be in just a very few years.

    And lest y’all forget – an even sadder part of this is that what the Texas B of E decides doesn’t just affect science texts in Texas, we’re large enough that much of this mandated BS that we require will very likely show up in other state’s texts.

    I would hope that textbook publishers (and school districts/state boards in other states – and hopefully some of the school districts in Texas) will finally show some backbone and refuse to include or accept or teach any of this BS the should-now-be-considered-ignorant Texas B of E is pushing on publishers.

    Sorry for the rambling and probably less than coherent post, this stuff just p***** me off.

  50. matt

    my name is matt,I live in texas. I am a student in texas. I am dissapointed in the state school system for leaving open loopholes in pur state laws that would allow for the possibility of teachings that have no basis whatsoever, that assume things, and basically live and survive off of paranoia, and group peer preassure. Before this i was in a christian boarding school, put their by my parents,against my will. I had teachings of independent fundamental baptist shoved down my throat, every night. forced to read the Bible in the mornings for an hour, i was punished if i didn’t pay attention in church, or if i took my eyes off my bible in reading time. not by parents, but by boarding school staff.This happens in america ladies and gentlemen, though I acknowledge that neither they nor my parents had any actual ill meanings toward me,and i am still trying to forgive them for their…. Fanactical actions against me. The worst part was, after a few months of this intense indoctrination, I started to give in. They, through constant forcing of their beliefs, had begun to overrun what i had known to be truth since i started watching discovery channel since i was 6. I will never allow my kids to go through such an event, and i can just barely imagine what it must be like for people living in religiously run countries. Don’t let this continue people.

  51. OtherRob

    Garfield said:

    In a related matter, surely in this day of printing from electronic files instead of plates, there’s no need for publishers to foist the “Texas version” of science textbooks on other, smaller states.

    Printers still use metal plates to makes the impressions on the paper. What’s different these days is that a lot of them image the plates directly from the “electronic files” instead of burning them from a negative. The negatives are eliminated from the process, not the plates. The vast majority of printing costs is still in the “make ready”, which is why Texas can so greatly influence textbook publishing. It’s much cheaper to print off another, say, 30,000 copies to sell to another state than it is to set up another version of the book.

  52. John

    In the end, creationist will have the last laugh, although it will not be funny for evolutionist. The argument that evolution is sound science will be finally and perfectly debunked. There will be nothing left for evolutionist except a sickening fear as to what is awaiting them. First after death they will find themselves in a very hot place without water and continuously craving it. After the final judgment, all evolutionist will be poured into what is called the lake of fire, which pertains to molten sulphur burning with fire all around. This is what awaits all who have rejected belief in God and His creation and embraced evolution. So try to enjoy your rejection of God while you can. You are going to greatly regret it, however, later.

  53. phuque

    Enough already!!!
    We all know how the universe was created!!

    It was shat out by the great cosmic yak thiry seconds ago with all history included.

    It was shat out by the great cosmic yak thiry seconds ago with all history included.

    It was shat out by the great cosmic yak thiry seconds ago with all history included.

    Welcome to the multiverse.

  54. Texas, O Texas. I mourn for the rational humans who have the misfortune to be stuck in the middle of all that dumbness (on top of the ridiculous accent);

    On a brighter note, creationism is doomed to fail in the long term. You can’t adopt willfull ignorance as a strategy, as you spend so much time looking at ways to explain away a logical truth. Every time new discoveries are made that support the scientific theories, you have to adjust your lies around them.

    And John (march 28th comment) – free yourself from religion. It feels great. The only “lakes of fire” you’ll find are the ones studied by scientists. Why do you disrespect Sulphur? Does it’s atomic weight offend you? Look up the wikipedia entry for sulphur, and under “occcurance”, there is no mention of Hell, or lakes of fire

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sulfur

    Where are you getting this information?

  55. Tim

    A triumph for democracy!
    Because remember, under democracy, those with the biggest gang wins.

    Maybe next year the creationists will win, maybe the science-based curriculum will win. Who knows? It’s only our childrens minds at stake. But that’s OK. Majority rules in our society, regardless of fact or principle, right?

  56. Jatin

    As a foreign national residing currently in US, I am amazed how this fight between creationist and scientists is consuming rational behavior and thought. I am even more amazed that school boards are so prominent in this country. Not to disregard the importance of this country (US), but to proffer a better alternative as it exists in my native country, here is something that anyone and everyone serious in keeping religious nuts out of science can do. Build either a national curriculum (central or federal board) which is free of these agendas, and during academic admissions, accept students based on the board eduction. We have a third alternative – private national (actually multinational) board curricula, which is given the most preference. I have been educated in the school affiliated to the last category. During high school and undergraduate admission, as you would expect, those with central board and private board education are given preference than the state board educated. And frankly, this is not discrimination. If you look at the quality between state board and the private board curricula, it is like comparing a car to a bull-cart.

  57. Garfield

    OtherRob – Thanks for expanding my limited knowledge of printing!

    Still, do the Texas requirements lead to a completely different version of entire science textbook, or to just a different version of a single chapter (or two). I was thinking that on the scale of printing tens of thousands of copies of a textbook, it would be a trivial expense to swap out a chapter on evolution, and replace it with a chapter that conveys the same scientific information, with a few comments about how some people disagree with the concept of evolution and offer the competing possibility that the universe is more readily explained as having been created by the Flying Spaghetti Monster after a night of heavy drinking. That *is* the door the Texas board has opened, isn’t it?

    And to all Creationists out there, I’m still waiting for an answer to my question about why you attack evolution because it contradicts what the Bible says about the origin of life, but you don’t attack astronomy which explicitly contradicts what the Bible says about the Sun moving around the Earth.

  58. phuque

    Funny how the rejection of reason, logic, overwhelming evidence, and undisputed facts is required to believe in God per the rantings of John.

    So, if not the absolute literal truth of the bible, then no God.
    Ergo, if you prove a contridiction of falsehood in the bible, then no God.
    I’d say John’s argument was damned, but he would have to believe/accept logic exists. Which he obviously doesn’t.
    Of course, he’d then insist we read it, believing that this undeniable truth will convert us. When we begin to point out contradictions and fallacies, he would say we were misinterpeting the word. You have to interpet it exactly his way or you are going into a burning lake of fire.
    Any other interpetation is not true Christianity. Etc…etc…etc…etc..
    Religion is like @$$holes. Everbody has one.
    I’m done ranting.

  59. in a free market, where schools can be started and run based on profit opportunities and not leeching off the public doll, the best schools win, the best ideas win.

    Oh I agree. We should make the schools compete commercially. That guarantees the highest-quality education, just as it guarantees the highest quality televisions shows, highest quality literature, and highest quality food.

    It’s a system that’s been shown to work!

  60. phuque

    @Garfield
    Actually, I don’t think the bible says anything about the earth revolving around the sun. That was the old Catholic church.
    Let’s not put words into the Creationist’s mouth.
    They have enough of their own.

  61. phuque

    I had a typing error earlier.
    Change contradiction of falsehood to contradiction OR falsehood.

  62. @John: You make a convincing argument for conversion, for sociopaths.

  63. Rob Sukach

    I am so freakin’ embarrassed to be a Texan right now.

  64. phuque

    Actually, I like John’s God.
    I am the God of love.
    Worship me or burn in hell.
    Forgo reason and fact for I am all the TRUTH you need to know.
    I make your television work.
    I make your Pickup truck move.
    I make your Microwave cook the neighbors cat.
    I make your Gun go Bang.
    Take my TRUTH or FEEL MY WRATH. WHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
    At least, you know where you stand with John’s God.

  65. Phil

    So, if I understand those christians correctly, *if* evolution and an antique Earth was true, *then* their moral standards would fall all over and nothing would stop them to kill their neighbor, steal and f–k whoever they meet… Well, that’s not what I call having solid values…

  66. Mark Hansen

    Thank you, John. I wasn’t sure how loving your god was until now. I can imagine him as a parent watching a child about to get scalded by hot water. He would pick that child up, submerge them completely and then say, “I told you it was hot. Now you know how hot, sit in that boiling water without treatment for a while and think about it.” Oh yes, a loving god indeed.

  67. Sean

    The vote was 8-7 against the clause. Not 7-7.

    And since the big bang theory isn’t COMPLETELY sound since it has the great inflation, it has room for the language. The broad that proposed it might think 6000 years old, but the power of a group of peers prevented her from expressing it. The age of the universe has quite a bit of fluff room depending upon how particles act at such high energy states as at the beginning of the universe. The language is scientificly accurate.

  68. Alexi Tekhasski

    “Don McLeroy, … the Chairman of the BoE, said that climate change is “hooey”.”
    Yep, diversity of human beings knows no limits. Even Creationists can be sometimes correct…

  69. Come to RI and watch the religious wingnuts protest against sex education standards. One of them is Chris Young, he’s a perennial at hearings on marriage equality and I have to admit, it is nice to see him branching out.

    In the latest round he is quoted as saying sex education does nothing to curb sexual activity. I have to give him partial credit. It may not limit sexual activity, but at the very least it will give kids options to protect themselves.

    His other delusional statement was how dare the legislature take god out of procreation. I hate to break to him but his god is an absentee overseer, reproduction has more to do with biochemistry and genetics than anything else.

  70. Daniel

    It’s fine to be outraged about this, but don’t for an instant think outlawing Creationist’s right to support their beliefs will in anyway better our culture.

    If Texas wants to become the creationist state, so be it. That’s the glory of a union of states. If it rots their education system, then people will not hire employees from Texas. Texas will fail and states that didn’t focus their children’s education in the wrong direction will continue to prosper. Eventually Texans will come around.

    Where would science be if it banned all issues that weren’t provable. (not saying creationism will ever be proven-it’s a philosophy not a science). Should opponents of string theory, or dark matter have been allowed to say “This is idiocy. Don’t study, teach or discuss it again!”

    The freedom to stand by your beliefs, and more importantly fail by them, is essential to the progression of humankind.

  71. Part of the problem here is the textbook industry itself. Textbooks are as obsolete as newspapers and print encyclopedias, and it is only this dependence on obsolescence that gives a Texas school board any power over what is taught in Washington.

    It’s long past time that our system of education moved beyond the techniques of the 18th Century as well as beyond its common intellectual debates. There’s a whole Information Age now, and it’d be nice if the school system, from preschools to universities, could finally catch up.

  72. pixieq

    *NOTE* The link to the Oklahoma State Board of Education is incorrect. The correct link is: http://www.sde.state.ok.us/Law/BoardsofEduc/state.html

  73. Sol

    Should Evolution Be Immune From Critical Analysis?
    by David Buckna
    http://www.rae.org/critanl.html

    [snip]

    The following suggested Origins of Life policy, which first appeared in
    the Buckna/Laidlaw article, “Should evolution be immune from critical
    analysis in the science classroom?”
    (http://www.icr.org/index.php?module=articles&action=print&ID=411) is a
    realistic, practical and legal way for local and state school boards to
    achieve a win-win with regard to evolution teaching. Even the ACLU, the
    NCSE, and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State should
    find the policy acceptable:

    “As no theory in science is immune from critical examination and
    evaluation, and recognizing that evolutionary theory is the only approved
    theory of origins that can be taught in the [province/state] science
    curriculum: whenever evolutionary theory is taught, students and teachers
    are encouraged to discuss the scientific information that supports and
    questions evolution and its underlying assumptions, in order to promote
    the development of critical thinking skills. This discussion would include
    only the scientific evidence/information for and against evolutionary
    theory, as it seeks to explain the origin of the universe and the
    diversity of life on our planet.”
    ==========================================================================
    Teaching Evolution – Is There a Better Way?
    by Ian Taylor
    http://www.creationmoments.com/articles/article.php?a=21

  74. ha ha STUPID americans are doomed.

    buy your violins now, on sale fire sale!!

  75. On one hand I’d like to say don’t worry about it. These things have a way of working themselves out. But if I actually adopted that attitude I’d also have to adopt the attitude that it’s alright with me that these Texan kids are collateral damage.

    To the morons who posted here stating that “evolution isn’t proven – it’s just a theory.” Wrong! It is proven.

    What the creationists cling to is the fact that we can’t provide every link to every stage of evolution.

    I think creationists should get flu vaccine from the 50′s since there is no such thing as evolution and therefore the flu hasn’t changed a bit.

  76. David

    http://creation.com/design-in-living-organisms-motors-atp-synthase-journal-of-creation-tj

    Maybe it’s the evolutionists with the closed minds…..

    This could be why the average government school student is not as prepared as their private schooled/home schooled counterparts.

  77. Daniel

    ” John Says: In the end, creationist will have the last laugh, although it will not be funny for evolutionist. The argument that evolution is sound science will be finally and perfectly debunked. There will be nothing left for evolutionist except a sickening fear as to what is awaiting them. First after death they will find themselves in a very hot place without water and continuously craving it. After the final judgment, all evolutionist will be poured into what is called the lake of fire, which pertains to molten sulphur burning with fire all around. This is what awaits all who have rejected belief in God and His creation and embraced evolution. So try to enjoy your rejection of God while you can. You are going to greatly regret it, however, later.”

    If such a thing is true, I’m pretty sure you, for having the vanity of taking pleasure in such a thing, will be able to let us know what it feels like as you’ll be right there with us.

    For those Christians who truly believe God gave us eyes and asked us not to trust them, gave us brains and asked us not to use them, and left us evidence and asked us not to trust it, I pity you. Life is endless opportunity with a with an expiration date, and you are wasting yours in ignorance and spite. Creation theory is a belief system, no better or worse than anyone elses. It belongs with Scientology and Lord of the Rings.

    One of the posters above asked why Science feels threatened by this kind of an idea.

    If Creation theory was science with an accumulation of evidence putting it on the level of the overwhelming amount of information that goes along with evolution, then it would certainly need to be taken seriously, and tested the way all scientific theories are tested.

    The problem is, that isn’t the case at all. Those who propose Creation theory know it has no business calling itself Science, and do everything they can to avoid having it subject to its scrutiny. The irony of which I hope can easily be seen, considering this is the very theory they wish to make science.

    If you want no opposition ask for inclusion in a theology class. Science, you see, isn’t really suited to giving you the responses you are looking for, since it is about questioning untruth and digging for evidence of things. Faith has no place in it.

    *Also, if you believe in God and one of your goals is to stick it to those who don’t and hope they burn in hell, then I think you really need to re-evaluate your religious priorities. It sounds like the message of Jesus was probably lost on you.

  78. qwints

    It would be pretty sad if Texas schools started thinking the battle of the Alamo was [b]won[/b] using prayer given that all of the defenders were killed…

  79. Phil

    JediBear said: “Part of the problem here is the textbook industry itself. Textbooks are as obsolete as newspapers and print encyclopedias, and it is only this dependence on obsolescence that gives a Texas school board any power over what is taught in Washington.”

    Is there an alternative, scientifically rigorous online “textbook” explaining evolution? If not, why not? Quite possibly it’s just too large an undertaking, but if such a tool were available, then teachers could just print relevant handouts as they go. It seems like a great alternative to the preprinted model that Texas apparently dominates, with all the benefits of rapid updates for new discoveries, etc. If money would be needed then a subscription-based model might work. Could be good for homeschoolers too. It needn’t stop at evolution, I suppose most grades use “science” textbooks anyway, but I’m just raising the question.

  80. Grump

    qwints

    It would be pretty sad if Texas schools started thinking the battle of the Alamo was won using prayer given that all of the defenders were killed…

    Isn’t this the same America that for generations taught that Columbus intended to “prove” to the ignorant masses that the Earth was round? And even managed to imply he succeeded, despite at the same time pointing out that he only got half-way around before “discovering” a continent that Asian emigrants had been living on for tens of millennia? Veracity, and even internal consistency, was never high on the list of priorities for American education. And goodness knows what will happen to history lessons once science lessons have been subverted by the fundamentalist and right-wing-politics agendas.

    (Please forgive me if I’m just repeating anti-American propaganda here, it’s getting harder and harder to tell truth from fiction when it comes to American education.)

  81. Leigh Williams

    I’m a Texan who has been closely watching this whole mess unfold. We’ve had the chair of the SBOE, Don McLeroy, reading off a list of “evidence” against evolution, citing books he hasn’t read, that he shamelessly cribbed off a creationist website — complete with citation error.

    We’ve also had Don McLeroy enthusiastically endorsing a book entitled Sowing Atheism: The National Academy Of Sciences’ Sinister Scheme To Teach Our Children They’re Descended From Reptiles by a loon named Robert Johnson. Texas Freedom Network lists a few of this book’s claims: Scientists are “atheists.” Parents who want to teach their children about evolution are “monsters.” Pastors who support sound science are “morons.”

    In his endorsement, Dr. McLeroy identifies himself as the chairman of the Texas State Board of Education. Way to cover the entire state in shame, Don!

    Board member Terri Leo did a radio interview with notorious lying weasel pseudohistorian David Barton, of Wallbuilders fame, in which she finally broke down and admitted her true goal: “They [scientists] don’t want to talk about the science because they lose that argument continually. The science is overwhelmingly against evolution.”

    Board member Cynthia Dunbar published a book, One Nation Under God: How the Left Is Trying to Erase What Made Us Great, in which she tell us, “Public education is tyrannical, unconstitutional and the Satan-following Left’s ‘subtly deceptive tool of perversion.’” Furthermore, parents who surrender their children to government-run schools are “throwing them into the enemy’s flames even as the children of Israel threw their children to Moloch.” (from an article by Lisa Falkenberg of the Houston Chronicle).

    In a piece published on the website Christian Worldview Network, Dunbar also informs us that “I sincerely believe that an Obama Administration would ultimately mean one thing . . . the end of America as we know her.” Interestingly, that column seems to have disappeared from the website.

    We had ‘em beat on the “strengths and weaknesses” clause. But I think they’re taking advice from the Disco ‘Tute, and while the DI can’t do science, they’re great at strategery — and the amendments the creationists snuck in at the last minute may well turn out to be far more damaging than strengths and weaknesses ever were.

    These are the wily crackpots we’re dealing with down here. They’re bugnuts, but they’re large and in charge.

    But this was just one battle. If you want to see the real bloodbath, wait until it’s time to adopt textbooks using these new standards.

    As a Texan, all I can say is, “I’m so very sorry, folks.”

  82. Grump

    Daniel

    Also, if you believe in God and one of your goals is to stick it to those who don’t and hope they burn in hell, then I think you really need to re-evaluate your religious priorities. It sounds like the message of Jesus was probably lost on you.

    You should see how gleefully death-cultists like John read the misanthropic “Left Behind” series of Christianist propaganda pamphlets. (I refuse to call them “books”.)

    They rejoice at the descriptions of non-Christians being tortured, much like more secular sickos thrill at scenes from horror-porn abominations like the Saw or Hostel movies. And all the while the Christianists revel in their sense of self justification: “Look! We were right! And you were wrong! How do you like that, b*****s?”

    I’m sure that the majority of American Christians really don’t have any idea of what type of psychopathic monsters live within their midst else they would have rejected these deviants long ago.

  83. Bjoern

    @murf:
    Actually, it was not science which “brought” us the atomic bomb, biological weapons etc. Science merely made the construction of these things possible. These things were actually brought by humans using the knowledge which science provided. See the difference?
    But you got something right – evolution (the Theory of Evolution) is unprovable – but so is *every* scientific theory! (like, you know, for example Maxwell’s theory of electromagnetism, and the Theory of Quantum Mechanics – both of which are used for making your computer and the internet work…). On the other hand, it is indeed a *fact* that evolution has occured and is still occuring (life on earth has changed with time, and is still changing).
    Your quote by Mr. Wald is a bit suspect… a small hint to you: actually, no Nobel prize for biology exists! A little bit of research shows that Mr. Wald was actually awarded the Nobel prize in medicine… (together with Ragnar Granit und Haldan Keffer Hartline). Anyway, his usage of “spontaneous generation” is also suspect – no biologist today would call the origin of life from non-living matter “spontaneous generation”! (that’s commonly called “abiogenesis” nowadays…). Anyway, Pasteur and others indeed disproved “spontaneous generation” – but in the sense of fully-formed organisms coming suddenly from non-living matter! No one in abiogenesis research today ever suggests something like that!

    @Jason:
    If you stopped reading this site, why did you obviously read this blog post, and even chose to comment on it?
    And, news to you: evolution (in the sense that life on earth has change with time, and is still changing) *is* indeed a proven fact, no matter how often you try to deny that. And anthropogenic global warming is also a fact – and no, we aren’t causing the planet to cool off now. Some cooler years don’t mean that warming has stopped! This simply means that the warming is not steady, but goes up and down (influenced e. g. by phenomena like El Nino and La Nina). Hint: even the last few cooler years are still in the mean hotter than most cool years in earlier times…
    Oh, and no one says that the earth is 13.7 billions years old (well, Phil said this some blog posts ago accidentally, but was quickly corrected ;-) ). The *universe* has that age. And your comparison with predicting the weather makes no sense: the weather is known to be a chaotic system, whereas the universe as a whole is very homogeneous and smooth on large scales (and precisely the large scales are what important for the history and development of the universe as a whole!). So it is quite easy to describe and calculate the development of the universe as a whole, although it is very hard to predict the weather. That may be counter to your “common sense” – but a lot of science is counter to that, if you didn’t notice…
    Your straw man that “It has been declared 13.7 billion years old and not a tenth of a billion of a year older.” is also easily falsified by simply looking up the actual press releases on that number – or even by simply looking at what Phil wrote on that: the age of the universe is given as 13.7 *plus or minus 0.12 billion years*. There you have your “tenth of a billion of a year”! Do you know how ridiculous you made yourself looking here? Did you even bother in the least to look up how this date (and its uncertainty) was actually arrived at, or did you simply chose to mock it because it does not fit into your world view?
    Oh, and no one claims that scientists are “infallible”. Yet another straw man. And no one asks you to have “faith” in scientific results – you are free to look up how these results were arrived at, to look at the actual data, and try to explain it with your hypothesis that “Goddidit”.

  84. Na

    Slightly off topic, but if any Aussies are out there, tonight (29 March), Compass on ABC dedicated the show to ‘atheism’, and had some interview segments with Philip Adams, Shermer from the Sceptics Society, and online they have a commentary of the show itself by Dawkins. It was a quite interesting show, funny how a lot of the comments echoed much of what you can read here.

  85. Adam

    America does not have a future of being the world leader in science, that will be left to other people. I feel bad for any bright texas kids out there who may be disqualified from getting into a good science university because as you said, a dozen or so religious zealots couldn’t keep their beliefs to themselves. Does your kid want to be a scientist? Move them the hell out of texas.

    America: Doomed

  86. Alan French

    Perhaps it is time for Texas to replace their state motto “Friendship.” No brainstorms, but something like “Credulous.”

    Clear skies, Alan

  87. Susan

    Educating in Texas has always been a challenge. Why should that change with this vote. Being a Christian and a science teacher, I have never had issue with teaching Evolution. True Christians know that the secrets of God are just that. What I do have trouble with is politicians telling me what I can and can’t teach. Students of any age deserve an education that is broad. Without that, we create generations of puppets who can’t think for themselves. Step out and let parents and Christian schools teach children religious beliefs.

  88. Hey – I just got a response from the Texas BoE!

    “Deer Sur,

    Thanks for yur intrest in the books or kidzll be usin. We workd reel hard to figur out what the best since standerds were. Did you no that the Universe is bigger than TEXAS? See thats what I mean. Theres all kinds of facts like that we have to consider. Some of the goddamd atheists wanted us to say we came from monkeys but they can teach that in there atheist home schools. If the Universe is as big and as old as they say how come the calendurs only go back thousnds of years? Were gonna fix these things. Frinstans the biolojy book sez there are millyons of speshees. If that was true how could they fit on the Ark? Obveeusly the atheists are too stupid to count up the animals right.”

    It probably would have gone on and on, but they ran out of crayons.

  89. duane

    Please forget about Creationism being taught in school. That does belong in church. However, when a weak and highly flawed theory is used to deride creationism, that’s where the problem pops up. I don’t wish to rehash all the old problems with evolution, simply to state that it does not stand up at all to it’s own scientific standard (pressure/response or subtle changes over time. The messenger RNA/translation/transcription action required to make DNA useful at all (either for replication or protein synthesis requires, if I may use the term, the spontaneous occurrence of a dozen or so machines and enzymes to make this happen. Not a subtle change. We awarded a Pulitzer prize for science to a couple of journalists that documented changes in a Finch’s beak structure from “evolutionary pressure,” but didn’t hang around long enough to note that when the pressure was removed, the original style beaks emerged and were favored) I doubt that anyone denies that the influenza virus mutates regularly and about every seven to ten years becomes something that is different enough that our immune systems won’t recognize it. But no one but an undereducated but faithful evolutionist (or a prize board with increasingly lowering standards) would make the illogical leap that a seasonal variation in finch beaks or a sub-cellular adaption proves evolution across the whole of Creation (yeah, I used the “C” word and capitalized it).

    And none but the undereducated faithful will jump out there and assume that some day science will show how 14 different but completely necessary machines for DNA replication and protein synthesis (with out both types and varieties of machine, DNA by itself is quite useless; ) spontaneously appeared.

    The emperor has no clothes; all theory needs to be defended scientifically, not with the ever weakening evolutionary dogma. I’m very annoyed with people that were told once a very convincing theory in high school and have never examined it farther. I love organic chemistry and microbiology, and maybe one day there will be a patch that brings it all together. But I doubt it–and doubting makes me a much better scientist than those that take it on faith. A good theory finds more support with more experimentation and , not less.

    My apologies for a few misplaced parentheses, but I don’t have time to edit them out before church.

  90. Please write to textbook companies and make it clear that you WILL lobby in your community to avoid any textbooks that bear any kind of creationist-led nonsense. When money talks BS walks.

  91. Daffy

    Most of these people who want us to take the Bible’s creation myth literally have,

    a) Never completely read it themselves. If they had, they would know it is IMPOSSIBLE to take it literally…there are too many contradictions in it. Which is probably why they don’t really read it…that and plain laziness.

    b) Have no understanding whatsoever of where the Old Testament originally came from. If they did, they would know it is not meant to be taken literally. Ask a rabbi.

    It is becoming so aggravating I am finding it harder and harder to even be polite to them. Ignorant is one thing…proudly ignorant is another thing entirely.

  92. Joe Brennan

    Well, one good thing may come of this. The time has come to move away from textbooks anyhow, especially in science and social studies. If the book writers water their science down enough, they may find Texas (and Kansas?) their only markets.

  93. There will be nothing left for evolutionist except a sickening fear as to what is awaiting them. First after death they will find themselves in a very hot place without water and continuously craving it. After the final judgment, all evolutionist will be poured into what is called the lake of fire, which pertains to molten sulphur burning with fire all around. This is what awaits all who have rejected belief in God and His creation and embraced evolution. So try to enjoy your rejection of God while you can. You are going to greatly regret it, however, later.

    John, do you clean your screen and keyboard off after you write this snuff? Type one-handed much?

  94. The BA’s last sentence hit the nail on the head: we need a reduction in cynicism and apathy so people on the side of sanity will actually go out and do something, rather than sitting around complaining.

    The bad guys are depending on you to just throw up your hands and give up because you’re sick of the whole thing.

    That’s how they will win.

  95. Elmar_M

    Yeah, I was kinda wondering why none of the democrats went in and proposed an amendment to the amendments. E.g. I would have put in amendment asking teachers to teach why Creationism/ID is not a science. That would have stopped the whole bill, ggggg.

  96. Daffy

    “There will be nothing left for evolutionist except a sickening fear as to what is awaiting them. First after death they will find themselves in a very hot place without water and continuously craving it. After the final judgment, all evolutionist will be poured into what is called the lake of fire, which pertains to molten sulphur burning with fire all around. This is what awaits all who have rejected belief in God and His creation and embraced evolution. So try to enjoy your rejection of God while you can. You are going to greatly regret it, however, later.”

    But He’s a loving God.

    John, you worship a God who tortures people. Even if your fairy tale were absolutely true I wouldn’t worship such a creature.

  97. Meagan

    As a teacher in Texas, I fear for the knowledge of every child I teach, and am frankly appalled that the people who work in HR in the districts don’t know why no one wants to teach science anymore. No one wants to have to deal with the BS that is spewing from the SBE. I am ashamed to say that I teach in Texas with such wackos making the rules.

  98. For the record, the good guys won in Texas, the final vote was 8-7 against the troglodytes. So I am informed by a Rice University physicist who cites a Houston newspaper. There is still hope, but the battle is never ending and we must maintain eternal vigilance.
    Aharon

  99. Tinaa

    Don’t blame me! I wrote every member of that board. I’m not happy either!

  100. It’s true, though, that there are limits to human knowledge. For example, science has not yet been able to determine whether anti-evolutionists are megalomaniacal cultists, morons, schizophrenics, or just garden-variety psychopaths. Another “theory” is that they are the long-sought “missing link” between non-human primates and the criminally insane.

  101. Garfield

    @phuque:

    “Actually, I don’t think the bible says anything about the earth revolving around the sun. That was the old Catholic church.
    “Let’s not put words into the Creationist’s mouth.
    “They have enough of their own.”

    Actually, that was my point. The Bible doesn’t say anything about the Earth revolving around the Sun, but it does clearly say in numerous places that the Sun moves around the Earth. (And, in fact, in one case actually stops moving. Neat trick.)

    Still waiting for an answer, Creationists…

  102. MartinM

    “There are only two possibilities as to how life arose; one is spontaneous generation arising to evolution, the other is a supernatural creative act of God, there is no third possibility. Spontaneous generation that life arose from non-living matter was scientifically disproved 120 years ago by Louis Pasteur and others. That leaves us with only one possible conclusion, that life arose as a creative act of God. I will not accept that philosophically because I do not want to believe in God, therefore I choose to believe in that which I know is scientifically impossible, spontaneous generation arising to evolution.” George Wald, Nobel Prize Winner in Biology.

    I’m surprised no one else picked up on this. Wald never said any such thing. It’s simply a lie, and a fairly obvious one at that. Unsurprising, given that ignorance and lies are all the creationists have to offer.

  103. duane

    I don’t have time to educate you all. Please stop throwing lies out trying to enforce earlier lies. I can’t say that he said it, only that he published it:

    …The clue for the origin-of-life superstition´s existence in the scientific community is given by George Wald, a former Harvard biochemist and winner of the Nobel Prize. In his “Innovation and Biology” article we find: “There are only two possibilities as to how life arose. One is spontaneous generation arising to evolution; the other is a supernatural creative act of God. There is no third possibility. Spontaneous generation, that life arose from non-living matter, was scientifically disproved 120 years ago by Louis Pasteur and others. That leaves us with the only possible conclusion that life arose as a supernatural creative act of God. I will not accept that philosophically because I do not want to believe in God. Therefore, I choose to believe in that which I know is scientifically impossible; spontaneous generation arising to evolution” (Scientific American, September 1958, as noted on http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/view/94014).

  104. TheBlackCat

    Creationists have been predicting the impending collapse of evolution since before Darwin, and predicting the impending end of the “old Earth” ideas for 200 years. In the meantime, the evidence for evolution gets stronger, more detailed, and more complete every day, and the support for it amongst scientists gets stronger and more complete every day. The supposed fundamental flaws with evolution have been thoroughly discredited for decades, sometimes centuries. Any scientist who has done any research on the creationist movement knows all their arguments and knows why their are totally without merit.

  105. duane

    perhaps if the editors of this magazine would really like a Pulitzer of their own, I can suggest a project they could fund (as long as they let the results speak for themselves). First a little background: Remember our old buddy mitochondrial eve? The female most recent common female ancestor living (depending on who does the regression math) between 14k and 200k years ago?

    Commission a similar study for the rest of the primates (to paraphrase Barny Fife, all God’s primates got mitochondria) Regress a common ancestor to all the represented primates.

    you might even choose to find the SR-y Adam (MRC male ancestor to all the primates)

    Then we’d have a little discovery and a little science to talk about , and get away from the mud slinging. What was the name of this website, again?

  106. Randy T

    While I understand the alarm and drama is necessary to further your agenda, it seems to boil down a question considering that you are stating theories as “facts.”

    Are you certain that a supreme intelligence did not create the underpinnings of evolution? Your “fact” seems to have supreme knowledge that that cannot be true.

    I understand that the response to the question must be filled with alarm, drama, and probably ridicule, but please answer the question. Do you know this to be a fact: that there is no creator?

  107. duane

    Wow. I’m amazed at how fast my posts disappear from this blog. On the chance that I failed to hit after a recent post, I’ll say it one more time: I cannot state that Wald said it, only the he published it:

    The clue for the origin-of-life superstition’s existence in the scientific community is given by George Wald, a former Harvard biochemist and winner of the Nobel Prize. In his “Innovation and Biology” article we find: “There are only two possibilities as to how life arose. One is spontaneous generation arising to evolution; the other is a supernatural creative act of God. There is no third possibility. Spontaneous generation, that life arose from non-living matter, was scientifically disproved 120 years ago by Louis Pasteur and others. That leaves us with the only possible conclusion that life arose as a supernatural creative act of God. I will not accept that philosophically because I do not want to believe in God. Therefore, I choose to believe in that which I know is scientifically impossible; spontaneous generation arising to evolution” (Scientific American, September 1958).

    In addition, TheBlackCat Says:
    “The supposed fundamental flaws with evolution have been thoroughly discredited for decades, sometimes centuries. Any scientist who has done any research on the creationist movement knows all their arguments and knows why their are totally without merit.”

    I offer information in recent posts detailing clear difficulties, and this poster dismisses them as my not being read enough to make them? Explain the theory of evolution to me, explain how these enzymes and complex molecular machines function for replication and protein synthesis, and explain how none of them offer any improvement alone, but must have all occurred at once to be of any benefit (not a subtle change but a group of at least 14 coincidences happening at once for any of them to be a heritable advantage) I don’t have time for this, Do your own research or live in your own trusting ignorance, but in doing so do not say it is the doubters of evolution that don’t understand science, the scientific method nor the basics of heritability. It is clearly the faithful followers.

  108. Bjoern

    @Randy T: Try a bit of reading for comprehension. Phil did not deny anywhere the possibility of a “supreme intelligence” which created “the underpinnings of evolution”, or, in other words, a “creator”. Also, please read up a bit on what “theory” and “fact” actually mean in science, and on the difference between “fact of evolution” and “theory of evolution” (hint: both exist, they aren’t the same, but they are very closely connected).

    @duane: I’m not aware of any biologist who claims that “14 different but completely necessary machines for DNA replication and protein synthesis … spontaneously appeared”. Rather, what biologists say is that these “machines” (you are aware that’s a metaphor and should not be taken to literally – aren’t you?) appeared step by step by small variations of previously existing “machines”. What you are trying here is essentially an argument from “irreducible complexity”. When will the opponents of evolution finally comprehend that “irreducible complexity” isn’t a stopping block to evolution?
    Additionally, I’d like to know why you think that *anyone* claims that “a seasonal variation in finch beaks or a sub-cellular adaption proves evolution across the whole of Creation”.
    Your closing sentence “A good theory finds more support with more experimentation and , not less.” is also rather strange. Do you *really* not know what vast amount of experimentation is going on in evolution research these days? Just go to PubMed and do a search for “evolution” there…
    Oh, and finally, I’d like to have a reference supporting your claim that “the original style beaks [of the finches] emerged and were favored”.

  109. Alan French

    @Randy T,

    I could claim that tooth fairies live under rocks. You could never prove me wrong, because you could never look under all the rocks and I could just claim you hadn’t found one yet. Of course, you could show they were either extremely rare and hard to find, or that they probably don’t exist.

    The real question is that can you prove a creator exists? I suspect no one can, and that the belief in God or gods or the FSM are ultimately only based on faith.

    Some of the reasonable and religious people I know are quite content with the Theory of Evolution and the immense age of the Earth. And, yes, they do generally argue that God put set it in motion.

    The problem is when religious zealots try to foist their beliefs off on others as “facts.” The scientific evidence in favor of evolution is quite convincing. And there is simply no way the Earth can be thousands of years old – unless you want to invoke God as a cosmic trickster.

    Clear skies, Alan

  110. TheBlackCat

    And there is simply no way the Earth can be thousands of years old

    Yes it is. It is 4.5 million thousands of years old ;)

  111. Alan French

    @TheBlackCat…

    Yes, indeed. Must be far more careful in my writing!

    Or perhaps 45 million hundreds… Why when my great-great-great granddad was alive, the paint was still drying.

    Clear skies, Alan

  112. Randy T

    @Bjoern: Thank you for your response. Please read the original post for comprehension where evolution is defined as a “fact” by Phil. If there is widely-supported theory, agreeably unproven, that the evolutionary process may have been created, then that theory should be considered by educated people and by educators. I consider both to be theories.

    You see, Bjoern, the problem with teaching only evolutionary theory as fact is that is to use the education system to contradict the values taught by parents. Texans are concerned about using school tax revenues to undermine a value system by teaching a thoery as a fact.

  113. Personally, if I lived in Texas, I’d be forming up a bunch of like-minded individuals to have the ACLU sue to remove the language from the standard. But that’s just me and my freedom-hatin’.

  114. Randy T

    @Alan French: We agree. Theories should not be taught as facts. I, too believe both to be theories and that, in order that the state not undermine the value system taught by parents, both be taught as theories: the same approach being proposed in Texas.

    While I understand it may be emotional for you that a value system other than yours might be considered, this is the same problem the radical Creationists have.

    If there are two theories, evolution and creation, why would you be alarmed at both being considered as theories in the classroom? In Texas the concern is around teaching evolution as fact.

  115. Alan French

    @Randy T,

    What does a scientific theory have to do with your values? When people talk about values I assume they are using this definition: “the social principles, goals, or standards held or accepted by an individual, class, society, etc.” I am not quite sure how a belief in evolution equates to anyone’s values, unless it reflects the value they place on a true understanding of how the world works.

    Clear skies, Alan

  116. MartinM

    Texans are concerned about using school tax revenues to undermine a value system by teaching a thoery as a fact.

    Only the ones incapable of distinguishing between a description of the natural world and a value system.

  117. TheBlackCat

    Thank you for your response. Please read the original post for comprehension where evolution is defined as a “fact” by Phil.

    Evolution is a theory and a fact. The fact of evolution, that species change radically over time and that all existing species share a common ancestor. There is also the theory of evolution, the collection of mechanisms by which species have changed.

    These whole “fact vs. theory” and “law vs. theory” things just shows how little people know about science. In science, a fact is a piece of information. They are not valued very highly since anyone can come up with them. A law is just a fact that includes a mathematical relationship. They are more important than facts. But by far the most important thing in science is a theory, which is an explanation for facts and laws that has been heavily studied and shown to be right in a wide variety of situations. Facts, laws, and theories are all tentative, all open to refutation. But a theory is far less likely to be refuted than a fact or law because it has been shown to be able to consistently predict hundreds, maybe even thousands of previously unknown facts or laws.

    So in short, you criticism of evolution is entirely based on a lack of understanding of the basic terminology. It is a semantics debate. This just shows how science education has failed, people don’t even know what the words they are using mean.

    If there is widely-supported theory, agreeably unproven, that the evolutionary process may have been created, then that theory should be considered by educated people and by educators. I consider both to be theories.

    There is no such theory. A theory has to predict thousands of testable, falsifiable previously unknown facts, and those facts have to be shown to be correct. Evolution has done this, it has done it far more than any other theory ever. Creationism (including intelligent design) has not, it makes very few testable predictions and those it does make have been universally shown to be false.

    You see, Bjoern, the problem with teaching only evolutionary theory as fact is that is to use the education system to contradict the values taught by parents. Texans are concerned about using school tax revenues to undermine a value system by teaching a thoery as a fact.

    Sorry, parents do not have the right to hide reality from other peoples’ children. Should parents who deny that germs cause disease by able to prevent everyone else from learning about the germ theory of disease? Should parents who deny that matter is made up of atoms be able to prevent everyone else from learning about the atomic theory of matter? Should we stop teaching about the Holocaust because some parents are Holocaust deniers. None of these have anywhere near as much evidence backing them up as evolution does. If you want to shield your children from reality, fine take them out of public schools. But parents do not have the right to force other peoples’ children to learn blatant lies, or to deny other peoples’ children the right to learn the truth.

  118. Grump

    Pat Cahalan Says:

    But that’s just me and my freedom-hatin’.

    You may be on to something there. There is nothing a Christianist hates more than “freedom”. “Freedom” means being able to do something that their psychopathic God disapproves of. They’re happy to enjoy the freedoms of modern Western society, but were they to have the run of a country, they’d gleefully roll back any “freedoms” that they don’t approve of.
    Like:

    The freedom to worship (or not) anybody other than their god.
    The freedom to remove an unwanted blastocyst from a teenager’s womb.
    The freedom to love, have sex with, and marry, whomever you want, regardless of gender.
    The freedom to say anything against them or their god.
    …etc

    And yet the clueless among the American electorate worry that the few thousand extremist Muslims in the US would somehow manage to implement Sharia. How about the tens of thousands of Dominionists and the tens of millions of fundamentalists who would probably support them, eh?

  119. TheBlackCat

    While I understand it may be emotional for you that a value system other than yours might be considered, this is the same problem the radical Creationists have.

    This has nothing to do with values, this has to do with science, and only science, being taught in science classrooms. If someone’s value system prevents them from learning about the real world, then they should not be getting an education. But parents do not have the right to force their reality-denying value system on other peoples’ children.

    If there are two theories, evolution and creation, why would you be alarmed at both being considered as theories in the classroom?

    Because one is a scientific theory and fact backed by mountains of evidence, the other is backed by nothing but lies, intentional distortions, and a self-contradictory book written by cattle-sacrificing bronze-age shepherds.

  120. Grump

    And the clueless among Bad Astronomy posters can’t produce proper HTML to save their pathetic little lives. :-( Sorry about the excessive bolding, that was supposed to be a list.

  121. Alan French

    Randy T wrote, in part,

    “If there are two theories, evolution and creation, why would you be alarmed at both being considered as theories in the classroom? In Texas the concern is around teaching evolution as fact.”

    @Randy T,

    Because the Theory of Evolution is widely accepted and there is ample evidence to support it. Creationism is a religious belief based only on faith and with no evidence to support it. Religious beliefs should not be taught in public schools. If there was another scientific theory to explain the diversity of life and how it arose and changed, I’d be all for teaching it. There simply isn’t such a theory.

    The argument that the Theory of Evolution is unproven is simply an excuse to try to teach religious beliefs poorly repackaged and incorrectly disguised as science.

    Clear skies, Alan

  122. IJLK

    Sickle Cell Anemia is a very real, very factual form of evolution. Prevalent in areas of the world where Malaria is or was common for an extended period of time, its a genetic mutation(blood disorder) that makes the human body immune to Malaria by changing the way the red blood cells are shaped.

    Just because you dont see people with tails, doesnt mean that mutation doesnt exist.

  123. Alan French

    I understand the ability to digest cow’s milk is a fairly recent evolutionary change in humans.

    Also note how humans have influenced the evolution of cats, dogs, and various farm animals by selective breeding, changing their appearance and characteristics. In nature, the forces driving evolution are different.

    Clear skies, Alan

  124. IJLK

    And ontop of that Alan; for MANY eastern Asians, because dairy was uncommon in their diet up until the last 30-40 years.. many Asians dont naturally produce the stomach enzyme needed to digest dairy product.

    But hey, Evolution must not exist. We must be making this up, or maybe its not evolution! perhaps its all a craft scientist plot to defame god.

  125. Alan French

    Lactose intolerance is very common. Darn it, we just haven’t been drinking milk long enough! Either that or maybe there are some bugs with intelligent design?

    Clear skies, Alan

    (Indeed, if you start having stomach problems in your older years, the most common explanation is you’ve become lactose intolerant.)

  126. Mark Hansen

    Randy T, you’d better get on to the Texas BoE about the theory of Gravity. That contradicts the Biblical story of Joshua getting an extra 24 hours worth of sunshine to do some righteous slaughtering.
    Remember, it’s only the theory of gravity, not a fact!

  127. OtherRob

    Daniel said:

    For those Christians who truly believe God gave us eyes and asked us not to trust them, gave us brains and asked us not to use them, and left us evidence and asked us not to trust it, I pity you. Life is endless opportunity with a with an expiration date, and you are wasting yours in ignorance and spite.

    I just wanted to say that I thought this was very well said.

  128. Bjoern

    @Randy T: You still don’t get it. Yes, Phil wrote that evolution is a fact. But apparently you missed (or chose to ignore?) that he also provided a link to a page where it is explained what exactly is meant when one says that. Try looking at that page… Also, read the excellent explanation by “TheBlackCat” above.
    You also wrote “If there is widely-supported theory, agreeably unproven, that the evolutionary process may have been created, then that theory should be considered by educated people and by educators.” If there is such a theory depends on what you mean by the word “theory”. Obviously, there is no *scientific* theory which says that (if you don’t understand why I say “obviously” here, try reading up what a scientific theory actually is). And remember, the topic of this thread is *science* education!
    You also wrote: “You see, Bjoern, the problem with teaching only evolutionary theory as fact is that is to use the education system to contradict the values taught by parents.” That’s utter nonsense. Accepting that the theory of evolution is a valid scientific explanation for the development of life on earth has nothing to do with “values”. And please don’t repeat the utter nonsensical claim that one can accept either evolution or Christianity, but not both!
    Oh, and BTW: this isn’t about “both” theories. There is no *scientific* “theory of creation” – hence there is only one theory to consider here, the theory of evolution.

  129. How could this possibly happen?

    Aren’t there enough intellectual biggots on the net and in our education system to rightfully proclaim science as the end all be all, the judge and jury, the true enlightenment?

    Doesn’t everyone understand that just given enough energy and time inanimate, non-living things leap into existence and get ever more complex without any intervention at all.

    When an archaeologist discovers rudimentary drawings on an ancient cave wall he obviously concludes that the drawings were created by something intelligent. Obviously.

    But when scientist study the smallest living cell and discover some of the most intricate and complex designs ever seen they conclude… nothing created this, it just happened by chance.

    Hmm…
    Maybe those Texans are onto something…

  130. Renee

    You said “But let’s be clear: evolutionary ideas are the very basis of modern biology, and are as solid a fact as gravity is.”

    Sorry, Phil, I have to take issue with you on this one. It’s pretty clear from the problems we currently have reconciling our ideas about general relativity, quantum theory, and gravity that we really have a rather poor understanding of gravity and, I think, probably some fundamental misunderstanding of it that needs to be cleared up. Evolutionary theory is much better understood than gravity!!!

  131. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    Darn! And I thought Texas was rather nice when I visited.

    You have my sympathies.

    such diverse scientific fields as astronomy, physics, chemistry, anthropology, archaeology… and even the study of how languages change over time shows the humanity is older than 6000 years.

    Incidentally, I read an article in the local news today about US paleoanthropologist Sandra Olsen’s work on the root of horse use. Apparently she has tracked use back to the Botai people of Kazakhstan ~ 5.7 ky ago. She claims the tamed horse was the reason people around these areas changed life style to have large cities. They based a whole economy on horses, milk, meat, transport, in the absence of other animal stock or farming.

    And it may well be an older usage, she is trying to track down the initial botai locale putatively around Ukraine.

    I wish these science deniers listened to the legends of those 6000 year old horse herders instead of 2-3000 year old sheep herders. They could be less wrong about one thing, at least.

    @ BA:

    Term definition nitpick: it is “abiogenesis”.

  132. Grump

    @Chris: Sarcasm does not compensate for ignorance.

  133. @Grump: Neither does intellectualism

  134. Julian

    “But when scientist study the smallest living cell and discover some of the most intricate and complex designs ever seen they conclude… nothing created this, it just happened by chance.”

    I suggest you read the Accidental Mind by David Linden if you think the human body is some remarkable perfect machine.

  135. Grump

    @Chris: Learn a bit about the subject you reject, before you reject it, and you won’t look quite so foolish.

  136. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    @ Randy T:

    I consider both to be theories.

    What is important is that scientists consider that one is a scientific theory (and a fact), while they consider that the other isn’t. For one, there are no observations of creations, nor any theory predicting such observations by way of positing a mechanism of creation.

    No layman can change such a fact simply by claiming that it is wrong. Only science itself can change it by way of research. But there isn’t anyone doing supportable and publishable creationist research, which should tell you that you are up the creek with no paddle.

    the problem with teaching only evolutionary theory as fact is that is to use the education system to contradict the values taught by parents.

    What you are saying is in effect that despite the fact that braindead people won’t live again, you want to teach children that “murder is good” if some parents in fact support such values. After all, that braindead people won’t live again is just a predictive theory among other scientific theories explaining observational facts.

    Instead, if a fact contradicts any values, that is a severe problem for such values, isn’t it? Facts tested beyond reasonable doubt, as processes tested by way of scientific theories are, can’t reasonably be expected to change. It may posited that it is of moral value to change such values rather than to state claims which are known to be wrong by objective science. (As you do in your comments, btw.)

    Also, evolutionary theory support the use of moral behavior by way of objectively explaining the evolutionary basis for much of it. It can do so by comparison between animals like us, because we know traits such as behaviors can be acquired or influenced by evolution. For example, most social animals tend to behave like “murder is bad”, and there are evolutionary hypotheses predicting why this is.

    [But also "infanticide can be good", see males killing competitors children. That is why biology can only support the general use, never the particular behavior. The later is even a known fallacy of its own, "the natural fallacy".]

    Evolution can’t contradict behaviors such as following basic moral values. Or religious behavior for that matter – other apes besides ourselves also display ritual behavior, and such overactive traits as our capability to detect patterns and agencies is posited as explaining much of creationist’s mindbogglingly unreflective and so infantile behavior of “seeing specious design” in lawful natural processes. Biology is instead observant of all these behaviors because behaviors are biological traits which are within its area of objective scientific study.

  137. IJLK

    @Chris

    “But when scientist study the smallest living cell and discover some of the most intricate and complex designs ever seen they conclude… nothing created this, it just happened by chance.”

    prokaryote + prokaryote = eukaryote?

  138. @Grump Typical internet argument… Attack the author’s writing style (sarcasm) and tell them they don’t know what their talking about without discussing one point about the topic at hand. Amazing how effective it is for ANY topic and ANY position.

    Check out Duane’s comments.. He is dead on.

  139. Jay

    Ha ha ha the bloody fool’s they jsut don’t get it now do they:!

  140. Julian

    “Attack the author’s writing style (sarcasm) and tell them they don’t know what their talking about without discussing one point about the topic at hand. Amazing how effective it is for ANY topic and ANY position.”

    Funny, I haven’t seen you raise a single counter to any part of evolutionary theory. Since you haven’t said anything substantive why should you be taken seriously? You shouldn’t. You should be mocked and ridiculed until you start putting out. Maybe that will discourage you from opening your mouth when you are ignorant of the subject being discussed.

  141. Grump

    Hey, Chris, what argument did you present, that I’m supposed to counter? All you have is sarcasm (still) so why shouldn’t I point out that you’re all style-over-substance? If Duane’s arguments are so solid, and you have nothing to addd to them, why bother writing at all? Do you actually have any thoughts of your own, that weren’t put their by your pastor/priest/bible-study leader? (And for the love of Pete, don’t tell me that your beliefs are not just religious indoctrination. They have nothing to do with reality.)

    Agh, screw this. Every time I get sucked into an argument on BABlog, I lose my temper and shorten my own life fighting with stubborn, willfully ignorant people, and achieve nothing other than bring closer the day I die from a stroke. Anonymous fools on the Internet are not worth this. I’m leaving BABlog for a few weeks to recover my equilibrium.

    Sorry, Doc Plait, for being a jerk. I retract nothing I have said, but I apologise for the way I put it.

  142. Julian: And your point?

    Come on boys.. pile on. You guys are so good at it.

  143. Alan French

    duane wrote, in part…

    “We awarded a Pulitzer prize for science to a couple of journalists that documented changes in a Finch’s beak structure from “evolutionary pressure,” but didn’t hang around long enough to note that when the pressure was removed, the original style beaks emerged and were favored)”

    @duane,

    I have no idea what a Pulitzer prize in writing has to do with evidence for the Theory of Evolution.

    Are you familiar with Darwin’s original work and observations of the variation in finches beak depending on habitat, and are you saying that the ground finches, cactus finches, and warbler finches suddenly reverted to the same beak structure?

    Clear skies, Alan

  144. Alan French

    Cichlids are a stunning example of evolution…
    http://nature.umesci.maine.edu/peter/petercichlid.html

    Clear skies, Alan

  145. BenjaminBE

    The idea of god(s) is one of the longest surviving rumors; it has changed with time and culture, and stays alive by being passed on like a chain letter. If you don’t protect the ideas within and spread it to others, bad things will happen to you and your loved ones.

  146. unquiet_mind

    And God Created Darwin
    http://www.uscatholic.org/church/2009/01/and-god-created-darwin
    A recent article/interview in U.S. Catholic with a professor from Boston College (a fairly prestigious–as well as Jesuit–university.

    I sincerely suggest all interested in this topic (but, yes, Christian-identified creationists especially) to read it.

    Quite curious to hear comments/opinions–
    um

    ps–
    A search for “evolution” on the site results in a number of other interesting pieces as well…

  147. Julian

    “And your point?”

    That you’re an idiot. Now if you’ve got anything in the way of evidence please give it.

  148. Idhavetoagree

    “That you’re an idiot. Now if you’ve got anything in the way of evidence please give it.”

    I’d have to agree.

  149. Badger3k

    Well, the good news is that Cynthia Dunbar (the the home school loon who called Obama a terrorist and hates public education) has several challengers this time, and so far indications look like she should be gone (the negative publicity will hopefuly work against her). But then again, this is a state that fell for the bigots talk of a “homo-invasion” and voted for discrimination, and the state where I, an atheist, am barred by the state constitution from running for public office.

    There are others up for reelection, so maybe we can help turn this around and kick the lunatics out of office. Now, if only we can keep Chuck Norris from being elected President of Texas….

  150. Darth Robo

    Did someone say “theory of creationism”?!? What “theory” is that?

    :-O

    And will I get an answer this time?

  151. Alan French

    Badger3k wrote, in part…

    “But then again, this is a state that fell for the bigots talk of a “homo-invasion” and voted for discrimination, and the state where I, an atheist, am barred by the state constitution from running for public office.”

    @Badger3k,

    Where is that in the Texas constitution? I didn’t find it – but I could certainly have missed it.

    Clear skies, Alan

  152. Alan French

    @Badger3k,

    I see, the language is in Article 1, Section 4. Although the language is still there, the Supreme Court has ruled against such discrimination.

    http://www.religioustolerance.org/texas1.htm

    Clear skies, Alan

  153. @Alan French: RE: TX Constitution

    Sec. 4. RELIGIOUS TESTS. No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office, or public trust, in this State; nor shall any one be excluded from holding office on account of his religious sentiments, provided he acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being.
    (emphasis added)
    Source: http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/SOTWDocs/CN/htm/CN.1.htm

    J/P=?

  154. Mark Hansen

    Excuse me Chris “I’ll be sarcastic but take you to task for pointing out that I haven’t actually said anything”, where may I examine this theory of Creation? How can it be tested? What predictions does it make?

  155. Alan French

    ROTFL! I just visited the web site for the Creation Museum. Their tour starts by going back 6,000 years to the dawn of creation. The next stop is an exhibit of dinosaurs and fossilized dinosaur eggs. It seems a real exhibition oxymoron.

    Arguing that there was a creator is one thing, but believing the Earth is 6,000 years old is absolutely absurd.

    Clear skies, Alan

  156. Darth Robo

    There are around six or so states if I recall, which have a belief in (a) god as a requirement for holding office.

  157. Alan French

    Yes, but the Supreme Court has ruled such requirements are unconstitutional. Neither state nor federal government can require any type of religious test for public office. Although the language remains, it is unenforceable. The opinions of the voters are another matter entirely.

    Clear skies, Alan

  158. Flying sardines

    Darth Robo Says:

    There are around six or so states if I recall, which have a belief in (a) god as a requirement for holding office.

    Would believing a goddess be okay too? ;-)

    I believe in Aphrodite / Venus / Ishtar.

    Well I’d like to anyway! ;-)

  159. Flying sardines

    @ QUASAR :
    Ignorance and dogma will one day destroys us all if mankind doesn’t wake up fast out of these bloody dark ages of thought! I thought that this century was supposed to be a new age of enlightment, a golden age of science where we would’ve already shaken off the shackles of religulous dogma.

    Religulous? Is that spelling a deliberate mix of ‘religious’ & ‘credulous’ or just a typo? Either way I like it! ;-)

    And to think that we have to defend science, you would never have this problem in socialist states, like China because over there they have something called state atheism!

    However, I can’t say I’m in agreemnet with you here. China the so-called “Peoples Republic” is a nasty totalitarian dictatorship that murders its political opponents and crushes freedom of thought and expression. I remeber seeing the Tianamin square massacre of 1989 and I knmow what they’re doing in Tibet – which is genocide.

    State atheism? Maybe that’s a good idea if done European style (thinking Holland, Denmark, France here) but NOT when its imposed repressively from the barrel of a gun. Aside from the ethical issues, such repression just doesn’t work – Russia in its old ‘Soviet Union’ incarnation was state atheist too – and is now back to being very religious.

    Using brute force as in China / Russia tends to make people nod their heads and obey while really hating you. As soon as your power to impose force ends a counter reaction begins where what you imposed is overthorwn and its opposite often embraced. You can’t force people to accept rational thought, you can only show them & encourage them to think critically for themselves.

    @ IVAN3MAN :

    Speaking of Russia; how come *it* gets to control the entire Middle East by 2050 according to that cartoon? & where did New Zealand go?

  160. Flying sardines

    Although, I suppose, there’s still hypothetically the even less likely option that its actually somewhere in the Middle East that’s controlling Russia by 2050! :-O

  161. Scott

    To be fair on the climate change stuff, there’s some awfully bad science going on with that area of study. Data and methods hidden and skewed. They take steps that make it next to impossible for outside people to confirm and base work off of their research. Also to date, none of the past estimates for warming have panned out. Doesn’t mean the whole thing is “hooey” (what a great word), but I wouldn’t put climate change in the same league of certainty as the big bang or the age of Earth.

  162. Peter B

    Chris said: “Aren’t there enough intellectual biggots on the net and in our education system to rightfully proclaim science as the end all be all, the judge and jury, the true enlightenment?”

    Which people literally say science is the “end all be all”? Yes, science is about the best way we have of explaining the world and the universe. But I doubt there are many people around who live the entirety of their lives within the sphere of science. Stephen Jay Gould, for example, was mad about baseball as well as biology. I won’t hold his love of baseball against him, but it’s clear evidence that even leading scientists have interests outside science.

    “Doesn’t everyone understand that just given enough energy and time inanimate, non-living things leap into existence and get ever more complex without any intervention at all.”

    You obviously don’t agree with this sentiment, but I’d be curious to know why you don’t. With regard to the appearance of life, scientists still aren’t sure how it happened, though research is still continuing. The point is that we can find fossils of living things in incredibly old Earth rocks. As for increasing complexity, so many creationists accept the idea of a pair of “dog-kind” animals on Noah’s Ark being the ancestors of all dogs, foxes, wolves and other canids that it’s obvious they accept some form of evolution. Now think about it – all this diversity of life supposedly arose in the 4500-odd years since the Great Flood; imagine the complexity and diversity of life which could arise if you had tens or hundreds of millions of years to play with.

    “When an archaeologist discovers rudimentary drawings on an ancient cave wall he obviously concludes that the drawings were created by something intelligent. Obviously.”

    Yes.

    “But when scientist study the smallest living cell and discover some of the most intricate and complex designs ever seen they conclude… nothing created this, it just happened by chance.”

    Whoa! The smallest living cells alive today have had the benefit of 3+ billion years of selective pressure. I think you’ll find the first life forms found on Earth were nowhere near as complex as most cells are today.

  163. There are around six or so states if I recall, which have a belief in (a) god as a requirement for holding office..

  164. joeyjojo

    @Brian Utterback:

    Case in point, murf’s completely innacurate George Wald “quote”.

  165. Alan French

    The Supreme Court ruled religious tests for public office were unconstitutional way back in 1961. See Torcaso v. Watkins.

    Clear skies, Alan

  166. I read half way through this thing until I read the statement if you dont believe this you are wrong. Bottom line is 1. Science has made its share of mistakes over the years so “if you dont believe this” you might be right; however if you believe this you might be right as well.

    Look God does exist. I dont know that God is for sure what is being taught in church or not but I do know God, whatever God is, does exist. Did he create earth, I believe he did. Did he create earth 6000 years ago, hell no. Earth is older than 6000 years ago, I believe science as adequately proven that. Anyone who isn’t willing to look at that is closing their eyes, in my opinion but again thats arguable. My question, you, not even being a supreme being, would you just create something and turn it loose or would you create something to evolve as needed to adapt to the environment that it is in as your creation moves along. I think the latter and as proof that this is how things probably work I submit the virus writers of software. These guys design their software to adapt, and change, and procreated as it moves around the internet. These things wee created bu an entity and they were created to evolve as needed. Being much smarter than us, do you really think God would do any less. People God created the heavens and the earth, and the animals and humans; and he created them to evolve.
    CREATIONISM AND EVOLUTION GO TOGETHER!

  167. mbalmer

    MURF – More Lying for Jesus TM. The “quote” you give for George Wald is extremely badly quote mined. He never wrote it. The only place it appears is on shady Creationist sites. Presumably you just read it and accept it. Massive intellectual dishonesty, both from you and from them. But that’s what we’ve come to expect from your ilk.

    This link will take you to what Wald actually wrote.

    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/quotes/mine/part1-4.html#quote57

    Not that I expect that you’ll read it, or use the fact that you now know to stop you spouting your rubbish in future.

  168. TheBlackCat

    Also to date, none of the past estimates for warming have panned out.

    Yes, unfortunately the warming has exceeded those estimates (although it is still within the margin of error).

  169. Alan French

    Oddly, as a birdwatcher since the early 1960s, it seems I have been witnessing the effects of global warming for decades. The range of many birds has expanded northward in this time – including Cardinals, Tufted Titmice, Northern Mockingbirds, and, more recently, Red-Bellied Woodpeckers and Carolina Wrens.

    I first saw a Red-bellied Woodpecker in my yard in 1993. Then again in 1996. One visited my feeder for a few weeks in 1998. Not long after they became common enough that I stopped noting their visits. Now I hear several any time I am outside. My first Carolina Wren appeared a few days ago, although they have been reasonably common at lower elevations for a while now.

    There is ample anecdotal evidence backing the warming trend.

    Clear skies, Alan

  170. MKR

    A quick glance at Georgia’s department of education website (doe.k12.ga.us; do a site search on google for religion) tells me we’re quite safe. The closest we’ve come to doom is getting a religion elective at one of the schools here in Barrow County (where there was some uproar over a certain document in the capital building), but the schools are otherwise fairly progressive.

    Of course, you can also get a full college education for a minimum effort on the HOPE scholarship and grant (funded by the lottery) here, so it doesn’t shock me that we have a decent education system. Certainly better than the one I endured a couple counties over in grade school. Georgia is pretty big too (roughly 1/3 Texas’ population), so maybe we can balance it out. :)

  171. Erwin

    The arguments of creationist against evolution are an interesting study in logical fallacies. My hypothesis is that tu quoque and ad hominem top the list.

  172. OtherRob

    MKR, don’t get too complacent about Georgia’s education system. It was only a couple of years ago, IIRC, that Cobb County placed stickers on the cover of biology textbooks that said that evolution “was only a theory”…

  173. MKR

    If they had contested it I might think they were pro-creationism. They haven’t contested it (as far as I know), so I think their claim that they didn’t know is sincere.

    The fact that they didn’t know the distinction between realtheory and faketheory is disturbing, but having unqualified people in high-level positions is horrifyingly common, even in organizations that do an overall good job.

  174. OtherRob

    I’m pretty sure the reason the Cobb school board didn’t contest the court order (from the Federal District Court, I believe) was that they didn’t want to spend the money on it. Not that they were convinced of the error of their ways. :-(

  175. Daniel J. Andrews

    @ Allan French…you might have seen or heard about this already. There have been some recent large-scale studies looking at how bird migration has altered and how it can be attributed to cllimate change.

    http://www.naturecanada.ca/climate_change_birds.asp

    There are some links at the bottom. I have a pdf version of one of the big reports but I can’t tell you where I got it from now…perhaps one of the links on the page.

  176. Alan French

    @Daniel J. Andrews,

    Yes, I had read some of news about the studies. Interesting to think the birds were likely “aware” of changes before they were much on our mind.

    I just read that they are asking the public to help with a large study of banded snails in Europe. “Scientists believe the research could show how the creatures have evolved in the past 40 years to reflect changes in temperature and their predators.”

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7971200.stm

    Thanks for the link – it won’t hurt to refresh my poor memory! (Never does.)

    Clear skies, Alan

  177. Hi,

    I work for Environmental Defense Fund and we’ve done some work on this issue over the past few days.

    Check out our blog (http://blogs.edf.org/texasenergyexchange) for more information on it. We have two new posts up about it.

    Lance Armstrong tweeted about it and linked to our Op-Ed! You can see the op-ed here: http://tinyurl.com/cqmndy

  178. Martin Watts

    Has anyone yet come up with the distinction between textbooks and texasbooks?

  179. Matt

    The writer of this article should be fired. To say that “whoever disagrees is wrong” is the most pathetic journalism I’ve seen in awhile, regardless of what position one holds. Unbelievable. By the way, I’ve never seen so many people “appalled” toward teaching the citizens of the United States of America critical thinking skills. If evolution is so unequivocally a fact, how come so many high level (non-christians) PhD’s and scientists of all stripes site its unending problems due to observed scientific fact. Hear that? The word is “OBSERVED”. Unlike evolution.

  180. Just another idiotic Texan

    Wow…and I was just about to point-out all the great things we have in Texas, but I guess I’ll have to go hide and wait to evolve and reach “enlightenment” as the god-like….oops, that didn’t come out right, did it?….I mean the “intellectually evolved” folks who are reaching out the poor, doomed, micro-cephalic Texans by our “appalling” lack of faith…oh darn, another verbal faux pas…appalling lack on conformity to those who worship…damn! I did it again….to those who have experienced evolution and are preaching…eek…seeking to save…ouch…us from out inability to perceive infinity and grasp reality, especially those 7 other dimensions.

    Texans are so stupid we can’t even compose a simple yet cogent paradigm for our own existence without invoking a First Cause.

    Well, I guess I”ll get back on my tractor and find some road kill for dinner and then watch HeeHaw reruns til the Jack Daniel’s kicks-in. I hope I don’t fall asleep with a cigarette in my mouth again. Maw had to call the far-deepartmeeant las time.

    BTW – Matt, I really appreciate your stand on teaching critical thinking skills. That is surely one of the MOST important lessons our children should learn. They should also learn
    to engage in a civil discourse and debate regarding an issue rather than gathering together in one place to see who can create the biggest playground insult against someone “different,” even “handicapped” or “special.”

    For those who really want to get the word (oops!) out, please find someone who knows the subject matter you are trying to disprove. try http://www.reasons.org. They will be most happy to engage you in scientific and logical debate.

    Otherwise, go outside and play and leave the debate to the scholars, or to the children who are being taught, in Texas, to use critical thinking skills, rather than goose-stepping along with either side in this “conflict of ignorance.”

    BTW – I’ll take my chances with God, as did Blaise Pascal. If he exists, I’ll meet Him one day. And if he doesn’t, I won’t. Nothing will have mattered in the long run. If there is no God, there is no reason for you to argue against one, because, ultimately, it just doesn’t matter. Nothing does.

    But if Pascal was right…I’ll be thinking about you, and wishing you were there.

    Peace,
    from an old guy…uh, and a teacher….I guess I should’ve mentioned that.

  181. sfgwe

    When does THEORY become fact and who makes that decision? Evolution is a THEORY!!!
    Did Darwin before his death say that he renounced his own THEORY?

  182. Toothygrin

    C’mon, sfgwe. Each of those statements has been completely and soundly trashed for years and years.

    “Theory” is the highest form of scientific knowledge, having passed rigor of the highest magnitude in the form of peer review, reproduction, prediction, etc. You are speaking of Sherlock Holmes-ian “theory”, which implies speculation and _definitely_ does _not_ mean the same thing.

    Please stop spewing the rhetoric your preachers and creationist sites have been throwing at you. They aren’t even remotely resembling fact.

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