Texas: careening toward doom

By Phil Plait | July 7, 2009 7:14 am

So Texas had its brief shining moment of light when the state Senate rejected creationist goofball Don McLeroy’s bid to once again head up the Board of Education. McLeroy was the guy who famously said, "Someone has to stand up to experts!" when talking about the science advisors contacted by the BoE to advise them on, y’know, science.

And even in that very post I said that this win was at best temporary, since the same Governor Rick Perry who picked McLeroy in the first place would pick his replacement.

And guess what? I hate being right all the time. It looks like Perry may pick über-far right religious zealot Cynthia Dunbar to replace McLeroy.

Dunbar actively and opens hates the public school system (check that link in the last paragraph for details). Dunbar campaigns to tear down the First Amendment of the Constitution. Dunbar is a ball of crazy even by Texas politics standards.

Right now, she has not yet been nominated by Governor Perry. Given his own leanings, even if he doesn’t tap Dunbar I’m sure he’ll find some other young-Earth creationist to try to teach the children of Texas fantasy instead of science.

To the good folks of the Lone Star State: make your voices heard. Contact Perry’s office and let him know you’d rather have someone grounded in reality in charge of the education of your children. Otherwise — and honestly, I’d love to never have to use this graphic again, but I know I will —

Texas: doomed

Comments (110)

  1. Dan I

    Oh dear Lord what is wrong with people!?

    Forget for a second this woman’s crazy yahoo “The Earth is 6000 years old!!!!” nonsense and let’s focus on this:

    This woman calls public education a “subtly deceptive tool of perversion.” And the governor might put her in charge of…wait for it…public education!?

    Why not put someone who thinks all soldiers are psychopathic serial killers in charge of the Pentagon? I mean come ON!

    [img]http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/upload/2007/02/believer_jerk.jpg[/img]

  2. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    … or, we could rename them the Loony Tzar State and have it over with. I hate to have to watch the pendulum swings. (It’s like watching paint dry.)

    And all because there is no process that can dissipate the momentum of stupidity.

  3. Jeff

    I think the problem goes beyond Texas. Ignorance and creationists are on a rebound and I am skeptical you can stop them. Just take Phil’s other blog about the Arizona state legislator, does she inspire confidence?

    I believe in Locke’s tabula rasa (blank slate) idea of human intellectual development. And since religion is deeply ingrained programming, this initially blank slate in much of humanity (I’m a atheist, admittedly that gives me a certain viewpoint) is no longer blank, but full of the idea of a creator. Trying to dislodge these biblical/other holy book teachings from that huge population is an uphill or impossible battle.

    And whatever is still left of this blank slate, monsterquest, ghost hunters, UFO hunters, coast to coast, etc., will fill with other nonsense. Fortunately for me, when I was in 3rd grade and the nuns offered to order two scholastic book service books per student, I requested : “Search for Planet X” and “The Ice Ages”; and that got me on course to be a professor.

    I’m afraid this idea that our society is advancing is simply an illusion. Yes, certain of us are “advancing” in many ways; but when you look at the bulk of humanity, that is not the case ; and as the human population grows, this backslide will only get more pronounced. Yes, Kent Hovind met his downfall, but only because of tax evasion. He wowed crowds everywhere he went. He knew what he was doing, taking his science knowledge and twisting it around to believable sounding creation “science”. And people fall for it.

  4. Rob

    Ugh — I am so tired of hearing about this garbage. If you want to be religious, fine. But leave my kids out of it. I really try to imagine what it would be like to be such a fool that I could believe that the Earth is 6,000 years old, and I come up blank. YEC is on the same level intellectually as Holocaust denial — in fact there are proportionally MORE Holocaust deniers among historians than Evolution deniers among scientists — should we teach the “controversy” in history class as well? Remind the children that the Holocaust is just a “theory”? Following along the same lines we would need to teach the Sumerian, Egyptian, Greek and Hindu creation stories. We need to have astrology alongside astronomy, alchemy alongside chemistry. Obstetricians would need to be well versed in “stork theory”. All MDs would be forced to study crystal therapy, chiropractic, acupuncture, homeopathy, et al. The point is that all ideas are NOT equal. Either your idea is supported by facts, or it isn’t. If you want to be a fool and ignore the facts, fine. But you have NO right to push your insane ideas on children through our public school system. These people need to be publicly shamed as fools in the same manner that we publicly shame Holocaust deniers and people who think that Elvis is still alive, because they are most certainly fools.

  5. Cindy

    Ok, this is for my cousin Charles who lives in Texas and reads this blog: I hope you call the governor and demand that he nominates somebody who accepts scientific theory and doesn’t have a religious ax to grind.

    I’d call but I won’t do any good since I’m a “liberal god-less heathen from NJ”.

  6. Lawrence

    In the end, it all boils down to these people wanting Christianity (and not just any version, like Catholicism – but their own fundamentalist/Evangelical version) taught in the classrooms & made the “official” religion of this nation.

    Totally ignoring that opening this door requires the teaching of every religion – which they hate.

  7. Frank Ch. Eigler

    “Dunbar actively and opens hates the public school system”

    Not cool, though not THAT far from famous people who send their own kids to private schools while lip-syncing speeches about how great the public school system is.

  8. Maybe it’s time to just let Texas secede from the Union like they’ve been rattling their cage about recently. Good riddance.

  9. Kyle

    How, just how can you appoint someone to the chairman of the Board of Education when they oppose public education. Does that seem to be an insane idea to anyone else. Maybe Perry should be sent for a mental health evaluation. If he doesn’t put her forward maybe he has a shred of sanity left.

  10. though not THAT far from famous people who send their own kids to private schools

    Maybe, but those people send their kids to private schools because they think their offspring will be more intellectually challenged since, let’s face it, the administrators of many public school districts are more worried about passing standardized tests and keeping order than educating and inspiring students, which directly impacts the teachers’ ability to devote enough time in the classroom to exploration and experimentation.

    Dunbar home schooled her kids because she thinks that public schools are evil, perverted institutions and sending kids there is like feeding them to demons.

    http://worldofweirdthings.com/2009/07/06/public-education-in-texas-doomed/

  11. “Maybe Perry should be sent for a mental health evaluation.”

    It will turn up a clinical case of pandering, willful ignorance and loud rhetoric peppered with lots of scary sounding -isms substituting for logic and evidence in argumentation.

  12. txkos

    Thanks for the link to Gov. Perry. I live in Texas and have submitted my anti-creationist Board of Education thoughts. Not everyone that lives in Texas is a loon, by-the-way.

  13. Zyggy

    @Rob

    Obstetricians would need to be well versed in “stork theory”.

    HAHA…I love it….and Dentists in “The Tooth Fairy Theory”, hey this is fun! Well played!

  14. Rob

    I really think we need to re-evaluate the home schooling system in this country — what educational standards are posed on parents when they home school? There was a clip in the excellent documentary Jesus Camp wherein a mother is blatantly lying to her son in telling him that evolution is stupid. I just fail to see how this child is then allowed to go out into the world and claim to have an education. I would go so far as to say that this should constitute a form of child abuse — but I am a dreamer. What is more likely is that parents will keep telling children about the eternal torture that awaits them for acknowledging facts, scaring them into becoming the next generation of religious bigots, and perpetuating this cycle of religious wars and intellectual dishonesty. *Sigh*

  15. IBY

    Hey, at least look at the good side. It can’t get any loonier, right? right?

  16. Brian Schlosser

    “‘It would certainly cause angst among the same members of the pagan left that rejected Don McLeroy because he was a man of faith,’ said David Bradley, R-Beaumont, one of the seven socially conservative members on the 15-person board.”

    Pagan? I thought we were atheomuslamonazihomosocialists!

  17. tacitus

    Right now, she has not yet been nominated by Governor Perry. Given his own leanings, even if he doesn’t tap Dunbar I’m sure he’ll find some other young-Earth creationist to try to teach the children of Texas fantasy instead of science.

    Perry’s not going to do this because of his “own leanings,” he’s going to do it because he’s facing a tough primary battle against the more moderate and more competent Kay Bailey Hutchinson (it’s all relative) next year. The GOP base in Texas *is* utterly insane (their platform is about the most extreme in the country) and so Perry, ever the political animal first and foremost, is playing directly to that base with thess nominations. It’s his only chance of winner.

    Of course, this means he’s willing to throw the children of Texas under the bus in order to bolster his own re-election chances. Such a cynical ploy is worthy of as much, if not more scorn, that if he truly was an out-an-out fundie creationist. (Perry is very much in the mold of his predecessor in that regard.)

  18. Petrolonfire

    @ 4 Rob

    ‘YEC is on the same level intellectually as Holocaust denial — in fact there are proportionally MORE Holocaust deniers among historians than Evolution deniers among scientists — should we teach the “controversy” in history class as well?

    Just ask ‘neil’! ;-)

    BTW. Is that a Godwin’s law record – nazis /Holocaust coming in at the fourth posts already!? :-O

    @ 12. txkos Says:

    Thanks for the link to Gov. Perry. I live in Texas and have submitted my anti-creationist Board of Education thoughts. Not everyone that lives in Texas is a loon, by-the-way.

    True but a lot of them sure are … ;-)

    @ 15. IBY Says:

    Hey, at least look at the good side. It can’t get any loonier, right? right?

    Famous last words. Just you wait & see … ;-) (Gulp!)

  19. ZERO

    Doomed or saved, doomed or saved. You have to make a decision, buddy! Or rather those funkers who run the Texas State Board of INDOCTRINATION!

  20. Micah

    I live in Texas. I am a Baptist.

    This statement of fact is probably going to make most of you hate me on the spot.

    However, I’m originally from Detroit, my church is aligned with the less-screwy General Baptist Convention instead of the insane Southern Baptist Convention, and I believe in evolution completely, as does almost everybody else in my church. I recognize that the Earth is NOT 6,000 years old. I don’t even see where most people get this idea. It’s sure not in the Bible. Plus, we don’t have public burnings for Harry Potter and The Golden Compass and Led Zeppelin, unlike *ahem* some other churches.

    I hope you hate me less now.

    However, I have to deal with some real screwballs at my school. One fundamentalist creationist Baptist girl actually not only believes that God made the world in seven days and that Charles Darwin was the devil incarnate (as are J.K. Rowling and Barack Obama, according to her), but that the Earth is square! She also believes that the First Amendment has been “misinterpreted”, and that it actually means that Congress shouldn’t just make a nationwide religion, and that teaching Creationism in public schools is fine.

    There are some sane Texan Baptists. It’s just that we’re outnumbered.

  21. Rob Lee

    @Petrolonfire #19 — “BTW. Is that a Godwin’s law record – nazis /Holocaust coming in at the fourth posts already!? :-O

    Haha — Ok, you got me there. In all seriousness, though, the point does stand. I feel that on an academic level, it is a very valid comparison. I try to stray away from the Nazi references, but in this case there really is not a better or more effective comparison.

  22. ZERO

    Did you know that the average creationist IQ is below 50?

  23. Lawrence

    @Micah – I don’t believe there is a single person here that “hates” anyone because of their beliefs. The problem comes in when they try to force their “beliefs” on the rest of us.

    And when someone says – “well don’t you ram your ‘Science’ down my throat either – because I don’t believe in it” that’s all well and good too – just don’t send your kids to public school or give them the tools to actually succeed and recognize why the world is the way that it is.

  24. Gary

    “the 49 states and Texas”

    Mess with Texas!

  25. Then Again

    Once again, the atheist self-appointed elite here mock the idea of democracy and mock all the normal common people who don’t share their “elite” God-hating Science-worshipping views. :roll:

    If the Texan people – or the American majority for that matter – decide they are in favour of democracy and teaching God’s Word then in a democracy it is surely right that they get their way.

    If most people are religious and they are –

    If most people are Christian – and they are –

    Then why on Earth shouldn’t we teach Christianity rather than banning God, Jesus and the Holy Bible from our classrooms?

    Its called democracy people – & if you don’t like it you are free to emigrate.

    China, I believe is atheist, or Cuba or North Korea – atheists you are quite free to emigate there if you want to enjoy unmitigated worship of Godlessness and its “prophet” Richard Dawkins.

    If you aren’t going to emigrate to North Korea or Cuba or China; if you wish to remain American then you need to accept and respect the people’s will – and the will of the American people is in favour of God and, yes, specifically the God of the Bible and the Lord Jesus Christ.

    If you think you are smarter than God you are wrong.

    Atheists & their militant evolutionist sub-set, for all their claims to worship nothing, are in truth actually idol worshippers – and the idol they worship is their own smug reflection. Atheism -like evolutionism is empty of love and meaning and their hatred for Christianity and its proponents clearly demonstates that. As does their desire to adopt the Satanic creed of “Do as thou wilt” (abort away, sodomise away, do all that feels good however abominable in the eyes of the Lord they preach!) and their fear of even looking at God’s Ten Commandments and the case for Intelligent Design.

    If you think you don’t live in a Christian country you are wrong. The majority are Christian.

    If you think that your atheist God-hating evolution-preaching minority NOT the Christian majority should get your godless way all the time you are wrong – and anti-democractic and un-American too.

  26. DGKnipfer

    Okay Zero Says, site your source and show your research.

  27. “I live in Texas. I am a Baptist. This statement of fact is probably going to make most of you hate me on the spot.”

    No, it really won’t.

    Scientific minded people by in large don’t really care about your religion or home state. What we do care about is being able to recognize the facts. If you want to tell us the sky is really green and that the only reason why we don’t agree with you is because our minds have been corrupted by the Devil and we need to let your deity into our hearts, we’re not going to be big fans even if you live in San Francisco and refer to yourself as a pantheist.

  28. “If the Texan people – or the American majority for that matter – decide they are in favour of democracy and teaching God’s Word then in a democracy it is surely right that they get their way. “

    Facts are not democratic. Reality will not change because you took a vote or decide to throw out hackneyed proselytizing that’s either a mediocre Poe or an even more mediocre attempt at theology.

    “If you aren’t going to emigrate to North Korea or Cuba or China, if you wish toremain American then accept the people’s will – and the will of the people is in favour of God and,yes, specifically the God of the Bible and the Lord Jesus.”

    In other words: shut up and go away unless you’re my religion. Yes, that’s what makes America great. If you say something a particular group of people doesn’t want to hear, they get to send you overseas to places where they think there’s no religion because they were told so by someone with a terrible grasp on world affairs.

    Oh wait, I was thinking of Saudi Arabia… Pardon me.

    You do of course realize that many of those who are staunch proponents of actual science, as in evolution and astronomy, are also Christians, right? Or are they not real Christians because you have the divine power to revoke their belief system based on whether they agree with your ignorant spew?

  29. ZERO

    Greg Fish,

    I don’t think that you know just how barbaric Saudi Arabia and Iran are!

  30. Daffy

    Then Again,

    a) This is NOT a Christian country. The Founding Fathers specifically rejected that very notion. From the Treaty of Tripoli, signed by President John Adams in 1796: “As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion…”

    b) Democracy is NOT only for Christians (although it will be if the evangelicals get their way). Texas may be free to elect morons, but the rest of us are free to point out the fact that they ARE morons.

    c) This is NOT a pure Democracy…again, the Founding Fathers specifically set things up so minority rights would be respected as well. People like you want to do away with those rights and that makes YOU demonstrably un-American.

  31. 22. @Rob Lee Says:

    @Petrolonfire #19 — “BTW. Is that a Godwin’s law record – nazis /Holocaust coming in at the fourth posts already!? :-O

    Haha — Ok, you got me there. In all seriousness, though, the point does stand. I feel that on an academic level, it is a very valid comparison. I try to stray away from the Nazi references, but in this case there really is not a better or more effective comparison.

    I’ve seen this “statistic” used as a comparison several times, but as an historian I have to question whether its factual. Where did it come from? I don’t know of any legitimate, trained historian that seriously questions the reality of the Holocaust. Professional historians, like professional scientists, rely on evidence to draw their conclusions and the evidence in both cases are so overwhelming no rational person would doubt either. I suspect that this statistical comparison was pulled out of someone’s…um… hat.

  32. @Then Again,

    Sorry, but this isn’t a Christian country. This is a democratic republic and there is a clear separation of Church and State. The founding fathers were specifically *against* setting up a theocracy (which is what you describe).

    You declare that this is a Christian nation and thus Christian teachings should be taught in public schools. Which Christian teachings? Catholic teachings (where the Pope has said Evolution is true)? Protestant teachings? Mormon teachings? Or maybe Greek Orthodox? Which version of Christianity is the One True Faith?

    And before you try to brand me as some sort of God-hating athiest, I happen to be Jewish and quite religious at that. I just happen to think that my religion is my own business and shouldn’t be pushed on others. Then again, I guess since I don’t accept Jesus as my messiah, I’m just as “anti-democratic and un-American” as the other non-messianic-non-YEC-Christians here.

    Science class isn’t the place to teach religious beliefs. It’s the place to teach – surprise, surprise – Science. If a public school has a comparative religions or philosophy class, I guess I could see some religious teachings entering there, but it would likely be tempered by teaching other religions and comparing/contrasting them. (e.g. “Write a 4 page essay comparing and contrasting the teachings of Christ with the teachings of Budda.”)

    If you want to teach Christianity in your private, Christian school, be my guest. More power to you. But don’t try to force-feed your religious nonsense to my child in the public school system.

  33. Micah @21, I don’t hate you at all. I don’t hate the majority of religious people.

    Come to that, I don’t think I really hate anyone, though I do despise certain kinds of groupthink.

    But that’s very different from being prejudiced to hate someone for where they come from, and what their belief system is. Atheists and agnostics, in my experience, tend not to work that way. In fact, like a great many religious people, we strive all the time to overcome any knee-jerk emotional reaction and think things through before responding.

    I’ve met some truly wonderful Texans – and some blimmin’ awful ones – in my time, as I’ve met the spectrum of good and bad in many places. If anything, I’m just worried about the folk who live their, that their representatives and governing body seem to hell-bent on ramming foolishness down the necks of the kids in their state. But then, as you say – the sane seem to be outnumbered by the inhabitants of the nut-hatch.

    Then again, that’s also true in a shocking number of places, not just Texas.

  34. Alex

    Can’t we just let them secede and be done with it?

  35. @Micah,

    The only Baptists I have a beef with are the Southern Baptists who think that the only way for them to bring about the End Times is to convert all of the Jews to Christianity by any means necessary. (As a Jew, it doesn’t quite fill me with feelings of friendliness.) Otherwise, I don’t prejudge people by their religion (or lack thereof) so long as they don’t prejudge me based on my religious beliefs.

  36. Daffy

    TechyDad,

    You and I are among the first people who will be rounded up if these evangelicals ever get their way. Never forget that.

    They will happily ruin lives to advance their paranoid agenda. Don’t believe me? Look up the history of the McMartin Pre-school debacle for just one example of what can happen when religious hysterics get their way.

    These people are DANGEROUS, un-American, and subversive of liberty. But they love you.

  37. @MarkHB,

    I’ve met plenty of Athiests who look down at me the instant they find out that I have religious beliefs. Then again, I’ve also met lots of religious folks (of many different religions, even my own) who look down at me the instant they find out that my religious beliefs don’t match 100% with their religious beliefs. Just goes to show that religious prejudice is something that can be present in a person regardless of his specific religious beliefs (or lack thereof).

  38. TechyDad,

    I’ve always been more comfortable with the term “Agnostic” myself. My religious beliefs are summed up neatly with the phrase “Insufficient data for a meaningful answer” – because I have no proof either way. It doesn’t bother me what other people believe, as long as they don’t expect my buy-in.

    This is the problem, though – how many of the US’s schoolbooks are printed in Texas? How far outside that state’s boundaries could their decisions ramify? The Constitution is largely a list of restrictions on the Government messing in the affairs of it’s citizens. That’s a wonderful and beautiful thing, which seems to be shockingly inconvenient to those who only want their version of the truth told.

    This also gets a bit more ticklish when provable facts start getting in the way of religious doctrine. The Young Earth bit is painfully, shockingly wrong. Embarassingly wrong. “Cannot do mathematics” wrong. 2+2=4 regardless of faith or belief. And that’s where it’s all going horribly wrong at the moment, something which quite beggars belief in a technological society.

  39. Jeff

    @Then Again: “If most people are religious and they are –
    If most people are Christian – and they are –
    Then why on Earth shouldn’t we teach Christianity rather than banning God, Jesus and the Holy Bible from our classrooms?
    Its called democracy people – & if you don’t like it you are free to emigrate”

    Then Again, surprisingly, I don’t disagree with this (except the free to emigrate, that is silly).

    But if you have an answer to my post 3, how does this help society to “advance” . I mean, suppose we did as you have argued we should. Do you know what implications that would have in a generation or so to our medical, technological, etc. society? Or do you believe in medieval scholastism whereby science and religion were basically wedded together? Should we return to that?

    All I can speak to is my personal experience. About 50 years ago, I was in a catholic school. The nuns and priests put the initial ideas into my head and it took a lifetime to see that I felt shackled by those ideas. Science was my liberator, it allowed me to see the universe as it was, not what people were telling me it was. (Which is why today I stick to academics and avoid meetings like the plague because meetings are just people’s ideas….again)

  40. Nija

    I think that some people have a ‘logic fail’ impression when a discussion is on religion and it’s found out the other side is religious. So it’s less a negative impression about you as a whole, just more of your ability to think rationally about your religion. :)

    For better or worse, I do that, which is why I figure some others probably do to. This isn’t just for atheists, I did it when I was a theist too.
    Of course, the opinion/impression changes though conversation/evidence. :)

  41. Nija @41,

    This is the problem, really – sooner or later there’s going to be *ahem* the Politeness Disconnect where you simply have to say “I’m sorry, but if you can’t do the mathematics behind this, you’re not actually qualified to have an opinion on it”. I’ve yet to meet *anyone* who takes that bit of news well.

    This is probably where the “Self-appointed elite” bit comes from as well, because when you’re forced to say that Viewpoint A is worth more than Viewpoint B because A is backed up by repeatable, observable things and B is backed up by apocrypha and undetectable, unproven (and quite possibly unprovable) assertions, people think you’re being all superior and stuff.

  42. MarkHB,

    I don’t think the problem is how many schoolbooks are printed in Texas, but how many students does Texas have. And they have a lot. So if they decide to teach “How Evolution Is Fundamentally Flawed,” that will be what the major textbook manufacturers print out. And since the textbook companies aren’t going to make 50 different versions, my kids in New York will wind up getting anti-evolution, pro-Young-Earth-Creationism textbooks. Even if the teacher doesn’t teach those pages, the kids will read them and question why the teacher is saying one thing and the books say another thing.

    Honestly, I wouldn’t even have a problem with the YEC-ers if they didn’t try to force it on everyone else. Let them go through their lives thinking that the world was created 6,000 years ago. They can even teach that in their own private schools. No skin off my back. But the minute they try to force their religiously-based world-view into my son’s science class, I have a problem with them. Their right to swing their religious beliefs ends at the face of the public schools.

  43. Scott B

    @ Then Again Says: Pretty sure your fishing here, but I’ll bite. Beyond right and wrong arguments, we have a Constitution in place to set limits on our government’s ability to act, even if the people want it to. This is why the same “atheist self-appointed elite” here haven’t taken your guns yet. A Constitutional Republic does not allow the majority to impose its’ absolute will on the minority.

    The relevant part of the 1st amendment states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” The Supreme Court has established that this clause also applies to other branches of the federal and state governments. So, based on current rulings, the state can’t direct schools to teach creationism even if every single person in the state wanted them to. This is why there’s been so much effort to change creationism into something non-religious. I would hope both fundamentalists and us could agree that this is nothing more twisting things around (I’d call it lying) to try to get around the rules. So, either get the SCOTUS to change their views on where the first amendment applies, get a new amendment passed that overrides the first, or agree to have every religions’ creation story taught.

    Also, go look at some unbiased research. Most of our country does not want your religious stories taught in our schools. That’s what church is for if we choose to attend. There’s a difference between people identifying themselves as Christian and people being fundamentalists. Remember that 1st amendment? Christians wrote it. Think about why they did.

  44. Daffy

    Jeff: “T@Then Again: ‘If most people are religious and they are –
    If most people are Christian – and they are –
    Then why on Earth shouldn’t we teach Christianity rather than banning God, Jesus and the Holy Bible from our classrooms?
    Its called democracy people – & if you don’t like it you are free to emigrate’

    Then Again, surprisingly, I don’t disagree with this (except the free to emigrate, that is silly).”

    Then, Jeff, whether you know it or not, you support massively overhauling our system of government and rejecting the ideas of the Founders. You have that right, of course; and I have the right to oppose you at every turn. And I will.

    Trying to be reasonable with these people simply gives them more power to subvert.

  45. Antonio

    I’m a Houston conservative and I am sick of this religious indoctrination into the government. I wrote my governor about this. Thanks, Phil, for bringing this to my attention.

    Now when are those human sacrifices again? :)

  46. Jeff

    @ThenAgain: “If you aren’t going to emigrate to North Korea or Cuba or China; if you wish to remain American then you need to accept and respect the people’s will – and the will of the American people is in favour of God and, yes, specifically the God of the Bible and the Lord Jesus Christ.
    If you think you are smarter than God you are wrong.”

    I don’t agree with your assessment of the demography of the USA. It is true that many are Christian, because Europeans were the first to settle this country (American Indians will vehemently and rightly disagree with this). But there are a large percentage of other faiths and atheists also, bona fide citizens. Suppose a classroom is being taught evolution and creationism in the same textbook, that will make the atheists and some other faiths very uncomfortable.

    I never met him, so I don’t know if I’m smarter than him or not.

  47. JoeSmithCA

    Wow,the earth is only 6000 years old. No wonder the dinosaurs went extinct so fast, all the contents were really zipping around forming, colliding and seperating. I think we need to add in the theory they all died of motion sickness!

    “Run away, here comes India again….Ahhh!”
    [sudden cataclismic crash of rock, spray of water and plesiosaurs getting vaulted on into space]

    Where all those people at Çatal Höyük live before the earth was formed. Did someone forget to tell them the earth didn’t exist yet? For that did they suffer from motion sickness too? Were Trilobytes good to eat? Maybe the villagers at them all then buried them under miles of rock so we wouldn’t know they were the cause of their extinction.

  48. Jeff

    @Daffy: “Then, Jeff, whether you know it or not, you support massively overhauling our system of government and rejecting the ideas of the Founders. You have that right, of course; and I have the right to oppose you at every turn. And I will.
    Trying to be reasonable with these people simply gives them more power to subvert.”

    First of all, you’ll have no problem with me, I agree with you. I wish you luck in your battle with these forces. Read number 3 post and you’ll see I’ve already given up hope, I am weary after 30 years of trying to instill knowledge and going sideways. I think this battle is like the battle exterminators do, they temporarily scatter the bugs from one house, but there are infinite bugs out there that keep swarming in.

    For example, Sarah Palin was a nominee for vice-president. She was spouting off all kind of right-wing zealotry. What if she really was vice president today? Do you think science classes would survive her administration? Would women’s rights? And this wasn’t an election in 1972, this was an election last year.

  49. > If you think you don’t live in a Christian country you are wrong. The majority
    > are Christian.

    The majority are female; do we live in a female country?

    The majority are right-handed; do we live in a right-handed country?

  50. Mike Wagner

    @Don Sakers

    As a lefty I would say we live in a right-handed world. Damn fascists!

    On the plus side, thanks to reason trumping religion I no longer have to worry about being executed for being a lefty. I just have a higher chance of injury by design. Acceptable odds. :)

  51. I am glad i live in florida, i would hate to be in such a red state run by religious zealots… oh, wait… damn

    If they put creationism back into schools, ask them who they are going to say created their god? Since you know, there is no other way for something infallible to be in existence other than to be created by a more intelligent being.

  52. Rob Lee

    @JoeSmithCA–

    Wow,the earth is only 6000 years old. No wonder the dinosaurs went extinct so fast, all the contents were really zipping around forming, colliding and seperating. I think we need to add in the theory they all died of motion sickness!

    “Run away, here comes India again….Ahhh!”
    [sudden cataclismic crash of rock, spray of water and plesiosaurs getting vaulted on into space]

    Where all those people at Çatal Höyük live before the earth was formed. Did someone forget to tell them the earth didn’t exist yet? For that did they suffer from motion sickness too? Were Trilobytes good to eat? Maybe the villagers at them all then buried them under miles of rock so we wouldn’t know they were the cause of their extinction.

    Simply amazing — you, sir, win the Internets for that comment.

  53. Jardmonkey

    Today has been a LOL fest with all kinds of magic sky fairy nuts cropping up in the comments on both Pharyngula and BA. Actually, I guess it isn’t funny as much as scary/sad. God bless America! Wow.. just wow.

    BTW- I’m from Texas and plan on writing Perry, and getting my sons GT science class to do the same. Keep these nuts who want to destroy education away from even a snippet of power.

  54. Mike Wagner

    Darn. Can’t use Çatal Höyük to argue with them because of the Dorak affair. They would instantly seize upon the missing items and use that to proclaim the whole city a fabrication based on Mellart alone.

    It was an interesting read though :)

  55. Daffy

    Jeff,

    I realize we are in agreement. And ordinarily I do try to be reasonable with people even (or especially when) we disagree. But the evangelical Christians are another matter: they want to destroy this country I love; they remind me very much of Yasser Arafat who interpreted every conciliatory gesture from Israel as a sign a weakness to be seized upon and exploited.

    To answer your question: the Bush Administration did indeed eliminate many of our civil rights (in the name of “protecting” us)…and the Obama Administration seems to be dragging its feet at restoring them. So, yes, I think there is a good chance that many of our liberties would have been successfully taken away by Sarah Palin; we no longer (thanks to de-regulation)have a genuinely free press to be our watchdog; blogs are nice, but not nearly as effective.

    I do agree that the fight is becoming quite wearying. If I didn’t have kids, I would say Americans can go ahead and throw away their freedoms: they deserve what they get. But I do have kids, so I do what little (very little) I can. But it is a losing battle.

  56. Andrew Hackard

    @TechyDad (#43): I used to work in educational publishing, and your fears are unfounded. Most publishers are willing to create a national edition as well as state-specific editions for most of the more populous states. I know for a fact that I saw New York-specific editions of books.

    So if we here in Texas take total leave of our collective senses, you in New York have a good chance of getting science texts unsullied by Lone Star madness.

    With any luck, this won’t be an issue. Composing my letter to Governor Perry now.

  57. @Daffy,

    I never forget that. In fact, Judaism is under attack by the evangelicals right now. A few decades ago, they had a conference to figure out why they weren’t successfully converting Jews by telling them that they’d burn in Hell if they didn’t accept Jesus. (Remember, for them it is highly important that all of the Jews accept Jesus or he won’t return. We pesky Jews are holding up the End Times.)

    They came up with a sneakier approach: Jews for Jesus. So now there are “temples” sprouting up everywhere and people dressing up like Orthodox Jews pretending to be Jewish. They prey on Jews who don’t know much about their religion and get them to “convert without converting.” The whole operation is not-so-secretly run by evangelical churches.

    It’s not the conversion that bugs me so much as the sneakiness. If you want to try to get me to convert, be up front about it. Then, when I reject your attempt, leave me alone. But don’t do a whole “wolf in sheep’s clothing” bit to try to lure me in and make me feel at ease with the gradual change-over.

  58. I’ve always been more comfortable with the term “Agnostic” myself … because I have no proof either way.

    Atheism isn’t about proof, it’s about belief, or more specifically, lack of a belief. Do you believe in gods? If not, you’re an atheist, period. It’s really that simple, so why do people wiggle and squirm about it?

  59. Mike Wagner

    @TechyDad
    I stayed with a Jewish family in Toronto back in the 90s, who explained they were “Messianic Jews”. I thought that was interesting, but what really threw me was their church services. They had a combined service down in Buffalo where their congregation joined up with another congregation. I don’t know if there’s a different Jewish term for congregation but it wouldn’t matter… they didn’t know it but they were full on Christians.
    There weren’t any Jewish trappings or ceremony. I never saw any Jewish scriptures. It was a Christian ceremony by a large group of people who would be called Jewish except that by using religion as their cultural definition they no longer were.
    The husband was fine with my atheism, but his wife spent every day trying to “save” me.
    Totally not what I would have expected staying in the home of someone who defined themselves as Jewish.

  60. Mike Wagner

    @Naked Bunny
    “so why do people wiggle and squirm ”

    Because to some people the difference between agnosticism and atheism can be a condescending smile or serious death threats.

  61. @61: While that’s true, it doesn’t explain all the people like MarkHB who don’t seem to know what “atheist” even means. It seems like they are victims of some very successful propaganda campaign.

    Just for the record, I’m not singling Mark out here; he’s just the sample from this thread. I see it all over the place. “I’m an agnostic, not an atheist, because I can’t prove there’s no God.” It’s just frustrating to see so many people misuse those words because it propagates the misunderstanding.

  62. I think you see both sides here on this blog from time to time. There is the open mocking of religion and the blatant attacks on science from those that are very religious.

    What I think both sides miss is that there has to be a middle ground. You will never get 100% of this country to be christian, or 100% to believe in evolution. Both sides need to lay out there arguments clearly without the “because it just is” response.

    Nobody on here thinks they are smarter than God, you can’t think you are smarter than God if you don’t believe he/she exists, and if you do believe you wouldn’t think you are smarter.

  63. Mike Wagner

    Oh, in that context they probably fall into the disinformation campaign that athiest==nihilist.

    “How can you believe in nothing? Don’t you believe in right and wrong? What’s to stop you from raping and killing people? ” blah blah blah.

    I run into that one at least once a year in person, and I’m not even from an overtly religious population. Enter into a theism debate in youtube comments and that one will pop up every single day.

    People are taught to believe that atheists are dangerous sociopaths who eat children. All religions have their boogeymen, so who better to vilify than someone that rejects all religion.

  64. Naked Bunny With a Whip @59

    “Atheism isn’t about proof, it’s about belief, or more specifically, lack of a belief. Do you believe in gods? If not, you’re an atheist, period. It’s really that simple, so why do people wiggle and squirm about it?”

    No no nono no. If you’re an Atheist, you Believe There Is No God. If you’re an Agnostic, you don’t belive in God or No Gods. A simple case of the waveform having not collapsed because it has yet to be observed.

    Tsk. You have to teach them everything these days. Even what “Atheist” means.

  65. OdysseyCoach (Gene)

    Left Handed Texan Atheists Unite !!!

  66. To be blunt, I don’t belive in A God, Many Gods, No Gods, or No God. I don’t believe. It’s very simple. I have no data one way or the other – I do not belive there is a God,or Many Gods. Nor do I believe that there is No God.

    I am Agnostic.

    What is the problem here? Insufficient Data For Meaningful Answer, ergo no proof either way ergo no belief at all.

    The shortest cut of Occam’s razor. Ignore everything irrelevant, deal with the facts.

    I’m not the one who’s squirming.

  67. OdysseyCoach (Gene)

    oh, oops….. Left Handed WELL ARMED Texan Atheists Unite !!!

  68. Justin Olson

    MarkHB… if I may:

    Theism: a belief in a god or gods.
    Atheism: without a belief in a god or gods.
    Gnosticism: a knowledge of god or gods.
    Agnosticism: without a knowledge of god or gods.

    You are an Agnostic Atheist.

  69. TheBlackCat

    No no nono no. If you’re an Atheist, you Believe There Is No God. If you’re an Agnostic, you don’t belive in God or No Gods. A simple case of the waveform having not collapsed because it has yet to be observed.

    Tsk. You have to teach them everything these days. Even what “Atheist” means.

    No, atheism means, literally “without theism”, or without a belief in god or gods. It doesn’t mean you believe God doesn’t exist, it means you lack a belief that he, she, it, or they do exist. Agnosticism means, literally, “without knowing”, as in you don’t know whether God exists or doesn’t. So if you do not have a belief in god, you are atheist. You can be an agnostic atheist, in which case you don’t have a belief in god but you aren’t certain, or you can be a gnostic atheist, in which case you don’t have a belief in god and you are certain (the latter is relatively rare, although I think Douglas Adams fell in this category). You can also be a gnostic theist, in which case you believe in god and are certain, or you can be an agnostic theist, in which case you believe in god but aren’t certain. Unlike gnostic atheists, gnostic theists are extremely common.

    To give an example, we could use string theory. You could be a believer in string theory or not be a believer in string theory and be certain (a gnostic theist or atheist, respectively), but the evidence currently does not support such a position. You could also be an agnostic believer in string theory or not be a believer in string theory but not be certain (an agnostic theist or atheist, respectively). Since the evidence is not conclusive, both positions fit the evidence equally well.

    Where this metaphor breaks down is when it comes to Occam’s razor. We know our understanding of particle physics is incomplete, so there must be something else. This might be string theory, or it might not. But at least it would be something like string theory, an extension of the standard model. This put those who believe string theory and those who don’t on more equal footing.

    When it comes to god, we so far have not found anything that indicates a god would be necessary, no indication that there is anything fundamentally lacking that we would need something like a god to explain. Given that, god becomes an unnecessary assumption, what Occam called an “entity” (or “entia”, which translates more or less to entity). Occam’s razor, more or less literally translated, says we should not multiply entities unnecessarily. Since there is nothing that indicates a god is a necessary entity, then by Occam’s razor the only logical position is agnostic atheism. In other words, Occam’s razor says we should tentatively reject the conclusion that the unnecessary entity exists until sufficient positive evidence for its existence is found. It doesn’t say we should not make a conclusion, quite the opposite it says that the conclusion that requires the fewest unnecessary entities (or unnecessary assumptions) is the better conclusion.

  70. Mark, there is no problem, you can call yourself anything you like ;-)

    But many atheists believe exactly as you do. Even Richard Dawkins, probably the most famous atheist alive today, accepts that he cannot prove there is no God, yet he called himself an atheist.

    In my view, the difference between an atheist and an agnostic is one of confidence. Agnostics tend to be people who still wrestle with the possibility that there might be a god, and that it’s something to be concerned about (once in a while, anyway). They accept it’s quite possible that at some time they may be confronted with evidence that would lead them to believe in God.

    Like you, atheists have usually concluded that based on the almost complete lack of evidence for the claims of the religions they come across, there is no God, and are confident that they are almost certainly never going to be presented with evidence that will lead them to become believers.

    That may sound arrogant, but it’s no different to the conclusions we make about all kinds of stuff in our lives. For example, the head of NASA cannot prove that aliens never lived on Mars, but doesn’t think worry about sending a mission to study the Face on Mars.

    My conversion was a journey of several years from Christianity, through doubts and agnosticism, to finally concluding that I was an atheist. I don’t profess to know how we all came to be here and will admit there is the slightest chance that the Universe was brought into being by some intelligent entity (though it’s more likely to be a superintelligent alien kid doing his science project than an all-seeing, all-knowing deity worthy of worship). But when I look at Christianity, and the other religions I have examined, I firmly believe that the odds of any of them being substantially true are infinitesimal. That is why I am an atheist.

  71. José

    @MarkHB
    What is the problem here? Insufficient Data For Meaningful Answer, ergo no proof either way ergo no belief at all.

    The problem is that you’re saying two different things. You say you don’t believe in god, which makes you an atheist. Then you say that you have no belief at all due to lack of evidence, which is pretty close to agnostic.

    The reason people are irritated by people claiming to be agnostic is that it’s a bit of a cop out. If I ask someone if they believe an invisible purple dragon follows them around constantly giving them the finger, there’s a few ways to answer. If they answer no, they’re sane. If they answer yes, they’re crazy, but that’s OK. It’s not their fault. If they answer with something like, “One can never truly know the answer,” I want to smack them.

  72. 53. Rob Lee Says:

    @JoeSmithCA–

    Simply amazing — you, sir, win the Internets for that comment.

    Will they be ‘emailed’ through the ‘tubes’?

    :)

    J/P=?

  73. José,

    Very well. I specifically Do Not Believe in a god/any god/many gods. I have no proof, and I will be believe in what I cannot prove.

    I am an Atheist Agnostic, quad erat demonstrandum. Quite thoroughly, too.

    I see you point, acknowledge it and own it to be true. I have been persuaded to shuck my simple title of “Agnostic”, and through a weight of evidence not properly pondered beforehand changed my position to that of Atheist Agnostic. I’m sure I’d be panelled as a “flip-flopper” and “a man unsure of his ideals” were I of prominance fit to be noticed, but as I’m not I can simply say “thank you for the correction”.

  74. @Mike Wagner,

    What you experienced was one of those “Evangelical Christians Pretending To Be Jews” groups. I’m sure many of the congregants honestly thought they were practicing Judaism. They likely hadn’t been to a real Jewish temple and such didn’t know that the service was 100% Christian.

    The real Jewish attitude towards conversion is discouragement. We’re not supposed to go around converting people. In fact, we turn people away three times before accepting them for conversion. And even after we’ve accepted them for conversion, they have to go through a process of education of the Jewish laws and customs. The entire process is designed so that the only converts are the ones who actually want to become Jewish and not people who think “it’d be cool to be Jewish for a month or so… then maybe I’ll be Buddist.”

    This isn’t to say that no religious Jew would avoid arguing the existence of God with you, just that they wouldn’t try to “save your soul” by converting you.

  75. Gary Ansorge

    God:
    Definition:
    1) One who raises the dead:
    I have done that. It’s called CPR.
    2) One who heals the sick:
    I’ve done that. By administering antibiotics.
    3) One who creates universes:
    I’ve done that: It’s called writing science fiction.

    See: I am God. Kneel and pray, all you unbelievers,,oh yeah, and please send money(or virgins. Either is acceptable),,,I just got laid off,,,

    I don’t believe in gods or anything that cannot be defined. I DO however, believe in beings smarter than me,(one of those happens to be the author of this blog) but I don’t WORSHIP them.

    Gary 7

  76. bad Jim

    Let’s look at the atheist/agnostic quibble in a descriptive rather than prescriptive sense. The first edition of the American Heritage Dictionary defined atheist as one who believes there is no god. More recent editions define it as one who believes there is no god or does not believe in a god. Usage has changed over time.

    In the Pew survey from 2007, 73% of atheists and 29% of agnostics did not believe in god. Non-believers were almost evenly divided between the two labels, since agnostics are more common. (Oddly enough, 15% of atheists and 40% of agnostics do believe in god.)

  77. Jigsaw Man

    I generally solve the atheist / agnostic debate by leaving out agnostic, and using ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ atheist.

    By my definition, a soft atheist does not believe in god. A hard atheist believes that there is no god. There is a distinction there, but it is a fine one. For some people, it is an important one.

    For me, it is an important one. I don’t believe in god. But I could be wrong. I am unwilling to make the positive statement: “There is no god.” (If nothing else, it is a logical fallacy) I consider such a statement to be an act of faith on par with stating the existence of god. A theist and a (hard) atheist both have exactly the same amount of evidence for their position, and I respect both positions equally. I myself have no evidence that I recognize, and, overall, don’t really care. Niven’s fifth law, as applied to god.

  78. This is really funny. Talk about re-arranging the deckchairs while Titanic sinks.

  79. Jesso

    I called the Gonvernor’s office and left my strong opinion regarding this woman, and expressed exactly how much I DON’T want her in charge of anything.

  80. For me, it is an important one. I don’t believe in god. But I could be wrong. I am unwilling to make the positive statement: “There is no god.” (If nothing else, it is a logical fallacy) I consider such a statement to be an act of faith on par with stating the existence of god.

    That’s fine in the abstract—whether or not *a* god of some kind exists, but would you be willing to say there is no Christian god — i.e. no god with all the attributes ascribed to him by the Christian religion, including sending the unconverted to Hell, etc?

    On the one hand you have a vague uninvolved theistic deity with no testable claims beyond someone had to have created the universe, on the other you have a Bible-load of testable claims, many of which have been solidly refuted (e.g. the creation story).

  81. Daffy

    TechyDad: “It’s not the conversion that bugs me so much as the sneakiness. If you want to try to get me to convert, be up front about it. Then, when I reject your attempt, leave me alone. But don’t do a whole “wolf in sheep’s clothing” bit to try to lure me in and make me feel at ease with the gradual change-over.”

    I agree completely. And, having worked among them many years ago, I can tell you such sneakiness is NOT an aberration, but is actually taught and encouraged. These days it is referred to as “coming in under their radar.”

  82. Wasn’t there a chrisitan sect using nubile young things offering sex to get newbies?

    @TechyDad
    Let them go through their lives thinking that the world was created 6,000 years ago. They can even teach that in their own private schools.
    I’m not sure they can even do that in Australia. I think the christian schools have to follow the state science curricula in the science class. They probably pay lip service and do their own thing though.
    “If Jesus adds 2 Hydrogen atoms to a single Oxygen atom what does he create? No Timmy not wine… in this case it is a molecule of water. Praise Jesus. Next we’re going to learn what the state wants you to know about nasty evilution…”.

  83. zx1

    @José

    to answer that question: no, i don’t believe anything that is both invisible and purple could possibly exist…

  84. Woof

    Scott B –

    Remember that 1st amendment? Christians wrote it. Think about why they did.

    FTW!

  85. Stuart Van Onselen

    @Gary Ansorge Said

    … please send money(or virgins. Either is acceptable),,,I just got laid off,,,

    I was going to make some lame pun on “virgins” and “laid”, but then what you said sunk in. So now all I can say is “Damn, man, I’m sorry to hear that!” :(

  86. José

    Wasn’t there a chrisitan sect using nubile young things offering sex to get newbies?

    There was a Louis Theroux’s Weird Weekends that featured such a group, although the group had discontinued the practice.

  87. @Then Again

    Might I suggest a good book for you to peruse in your free time? It’s called Moral Minority: Our Skeptical Founding Fathers, by Brooke Allen. It is a great read and offers a good glimpse at some prominent individuals that shaped our Constitution, including the 1st Amendment.

  88. @Gary Ansorge
    I’ll echo what Stuart Van Onselen said, it is a pity you’ve been laid off. I’ve just been “laid on” myself. 329 days unemployed but I started work again last week so stay optimistic. It will happen. Good luck with the virgins too.

  89. As a European, I would be tempted to laugh my arse off and applaud while seeing these fundamentalist forces in the US taking more and more steps to throw their country back into the Dark Ages as a kind of a Christian version of Iran (that would be good for our economy, you know?!). But in reality, I am too much concerned with the prospect of the same next happening here in Europe. :-(

  90. Gary Ansorge

    Stuart, Shane, et al, :

    Thanks but,,,

    On the upside, I have more time to blather on the Web,,,also, I Do draw Social Security AND unemployment, so it’s a wash, financially. I expect I will eventually have to do something independent of corporate employment. Maybe I’ll drive a cab,,,or something,,,(but later,,,much,much later).

    In the meantime, I think I’ll just have to go Woo hunting. It’s so much fun to argue them up against a wall and then listen to them wailing “,,,but,but,but,,,I don’t want you to be right,,,:

    I’m riding the Unicorn (re: Rhinoceros) of reason into the sunset, flailing at windmills of irrationality.

    This could be fun,,,

    GAry 7

  91. mk

    Let them secede!

  92. I’m speechless, just speechless. How does somebody who hates public education get a nod to head the school board? It’s, well…crazy

  93. Steve

    @ 84 Woof

    Scott B –

    Remember that 1st amendment? Christians wrote it. Think about why they did.

    FTW!

    I was going to lift out those exact words from Scott B and praise them, but Woof beat me to it :- Anyway, they bear repeating. A very succinct summing up of this whole bunch of nonsense that is the Texas School Board. If only it didn’t have such potentially awful ramifications for the future of our schooled youth, it would be ROTFLMAO funny…

  94. Snoof

    @84

    Schools in Australia, private or public, have to follow their state-determined syllabus or lose accreditation and funding. And yes, “private” schools still receive government funding, which a number of people are unhappy about.

    It’s been a while since I’ve been through the Australian secondary school system, but they’re generally pretty good at keeping religion out of the science classroom, at least in public schools. Possibly this is due to the large number of children of migrants in the school system, especially in some parts of the east coast. Though NSW has a requirement for an our of religious instruction each week, it’s basically voluntary – the “opt out” classes (for whom it was basically a free period) in my school were larger than the various opt ins.

  95. saliro

    I’m a Texan, Episcopalian, liberal Democrat with a gay son whom I support and will defend to the death. We homeschooled our grandson, and as my husband pointed out to another homeschooling family, these on the religious right, “. . .we homeschool not because of what the schools do teach, but because of what they do not.”

    Perry has utterly lost his mind. He needs to be removed from office for several different reasons.

  96. Texan

    First, let me say that I was born and raised in Texas, and I am not very religious. I don’t attend church and don’t identify myself with a major religion, other than not being a jerk to people.

    Yes, Don McLeroy is crazy. However, I find it humorous that Phil and others bag on Texas as being ‘a ball of crazy’, ‘worthless’, etc etc when the fact is regardless of what you think about our conservative views, we are one of the most fiscally profitable states around. If you want to see what liberal policy does to a state, take a look at California and their current, unbelievable use of IOUs.

    My state is helping to carry the sinking ship that is the United States. What’s yours doing?

  97. SirBruce

    While I sympathize with Bad Astronomy’s point and agree that Cynthia Dunbar is a loon, Governor Rick Perry seems to be in a bit of a bind. He board members are elected, and the governor has to nominate one of them to be chairman; he can’t just pick any random person. Unfortunately, it seems like all of the Republican board members are either crazy like Cynthia and Don, or unwilling to serve as chairman. The one moderate Republican is perceived as too pro-union. Obviously none of the Democratic choices are much better in that regard.

    So you’re in a situation of choosing between the lesser of two evils. I realize many people here who are pro-science are also pro-union and other liberal positions, but if you’re a conservative who is pro-science, which do you pick, the creationist who you think supports pro-capitalist ideals or the non-creationist who you think supports pro-marxist ideals?

    Phil, I understand you’re trying to be a scientist and not political, but what happens when those who would be ideal from a scientific perspective are untenable for unrelated political reasons? And to ask the question that begs to be asked, *is* there a Republican TEA board member whom you would find acceptable? And if not, doesn’t your position risk being seen purely through a political lens?

  98. Albert Bakker

    #91 Well yes, even the Dutch have their share of creationists. A roman-catholic minister (Verhoeven) wrote evolution is an “incomplete theory” and therefore ID should be taught in class as well. Upon which to her everlasting shame she actually proposed it in parliament.

    She was enlightened by a real enough scientist. An evangelical professor of molecular biophysics, Cees Dekker, who agrees with many “accomodationists” that there isn’t a conflict between science and religion. Well as long as science is prepared to have faith in creationism, that is.

    Dekker himself no longer believes in ID anymore. He now believes in “theistic evolution” where God puts evolution in motion and then, I suppose somewhat lacking in self-confidence, stays around to watch if it all goes according to plan.

    It is a long road to recovery I suppose, and longer still if you’re smarter than for your own good. If Verhoeven has her brain back online I don’t know, but I have serious doubts it ever was.

  99. #99: I didn’t say Texas was crazy, I said Texas politics is crazy. It’s hardly even a subjective opinion.

  100. TheBlackCat

    @ SirBruce: So in other words you pick someone who outright despises public education, is uneducated, and is completely and totally unqualified to even be on the committee not to mention chair it, but is a member of your party, rather than go with an education expert who is highly trained, highly educated, and highly qualified for the position, but happens to be in an opposing party? That one of the big problems with the republican party right now, they insist on picking people for positions based on their party loyalty and ability to follow party talking points rather than on their qualifications and expertise. If the only qualified people who are willing to participate are on the other party, he shouldn’t pick someone who is absolutely horrible for the position just because she is on the same party. He should try to show at list the tiniest bit of respect for education and put the the good of the state’s children above sectarian politics. I find it disturbing that you consider this way of picking people for positions even remotely appropriate.

    @ Texan: Ah yes, Calfornia. That strongly democratic state, which has a Republican majority in the state House, a Republican majority in the state Senate, and a Republican Governor. Those darn democrats are just ruining the state, right?

  101. Gary Ansorge

    It’s not that politics, either Texan or otherwise, is crazy. It’s that the competition between politicians involves people, some who have their heads screwed on tight and some who misplaced theirs. In states where the predominant, politically inclined are nuts, you get crazy politics. One need not be smart and sane to be wealthy but it’s nearly an imperative to be wealthy to enter politics. Smart people tend to eschew politics because it is perceived to be a hypocritical endeavor, as in saying anything to get elected and performing quite opposite to ones’ stated intentions. It’s really difficult to get elected when one is inherently honest.

    Gary 7

  102. LGT

    The problem here is that everyone from evangelists to atheists effectively believes in natural selection. Everyone knows that if their recent ancestors have a rare and deadly genetically-based disorder, they have something to worry about. Everyone knows that the other guy probably doesn’t have those same treacherous genes. Everyone knows that some people die young, and others don’t, as a result of these genetic inheritances. Everyone, whether Christian, Jew, Muslim, Atheist, etc., knows that genetic selection plays a significant role in shaping their fate.

    When YEC-types dispute evolutionary process, its always based on a revulsion to monkeys, disagreement about the specifics of the Big Bang, some obscure passage of scripture or other arcane thing. It is never because anyone disagrees with the basic truths about natural selection as outlined in the paragraph above. That’s because no one disagrees with such truths. To teach contrary to what is univerally obvious is simply to teach people to be stupid.

    (Well, the YEC-types probably find scientists’ embrace of their simian relatives as disgusting, since anyone who’s been to a zoo knows an ape is not a particularly well-behaved relative. Assuming the earth is more than 6,000 years old, how many generations would we have to go back to find prehistoric human ancestors that were just as distasteful as monkeys?)

  103. Alex

    MSNBC has talked about this twice now, once with Keith Olbermann last night, and now with the Ed Schultz on the Ed Show, who did credit this blog. Unfortunately both times they’ve got it wrong. Olbermann confused U dating with carbon dating, and now Schultz said that the earth is one billion years old.

  104. Mav

    I don’t think Texas has anything to worry about with Dunbar. Isn’t a woman’s place at home with her children obeying her husband? Someone simply needs to remind her or even better, her husband of this.

  105. @LGT

    Assuming the earth is more than 6,000 years old, how many generations would we have to go back to find prehistoric human ancestors that were just as distasteful as monkeys?

    Hmm…none? I’ve met people that make monkeys look like aristocrats.

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