Religion vs. Reality in Missouri

By Phil Plait | August 31, 2009 7:00 am

Via Orac comes this tale of religious kneejerking that shows just how big a problem it is in America.

Evolution of brass t-shirt

I urge you to read the whole thing, but the basic story is a band made t-shirts with the theme "Brass Evolutions" using the famous cartoon sequence of a monkey changing into a man. It’s a cute idea, and no big deal, right?

Right?

Not so right. Some parents complained about the shirts because they depicted — gasp!– evolution (never mind that it’s a cartoony version that’s really not even terribly accurate). Assistant Superintendent Brad Pollitt decided to make the students turn in their shirts so as to not offend any parents’ sensibilities.

The sheer dumbosity of this already has my head reeling. You might think at first that this isn’t a huge deal: it’s just another example of narrow-minded thinking we’ve seen so much of from creationists.

But in fact it’s a lot worse than that. From the original article:

Pollitt said the district is required by law to remain neutral where religion is concerned.

I’m afraid that is simply not true. Like, really really not true.

First, by taking away the shirts, he was not being religion neutral. He was kowtowing to a specific religion. That action immediately contradicted his words.

Second, think about what that sentence means. If being religion-neutral means not offending any religion, then nothing at all could ever be taught at school. Certainly not science, which clashes in almost every conceivable way with Fundamentalist creationist doctrine. You can’t teach anything past 6000 years ago under Pollitt’s reasoning. No astronomy, no biology, no history (Sumerians were around long before 4000 BC). Some interpretations of Islamic law state that music is forbidden. Does traife food touch kosher food in the cafeteria (or is it served on the same plates)? Does anyone wanna go through Leviticus and see what rules from there the school breaks?

If we are to believe Pollitt, then they’ll have to ban the Pledge of Allegiance because Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t worship idols. That’ll go over well, I’m sure.

This whole idea of "religion neutrality" is a crock, and clearly is being used to the advantage of one narrowly-defined religious viewpoint. There’s a difference between being neutral — which Pollitt clearly was not being — and not promoting one religion over another.

Being religion-neutral in the sense Pollitt means is conceptually impossible. You cannot appease every religion, because many common modern religions contradict each other. However, we can be religion-neutral by actually refraining from making any decisions based on religion. That’s what that First Amendment is all about.

So what we have here is yet another shot in the battle over religious freedom (both of and from) in this country. I suspect the band leader could pursue a First Amendment case here.

But if he chooses to pursue it, he may have an uphill climb… it depends on how many people there hold the same view as band parent Sherry Melby, one of the people offended by the very concept of evolution:

“I was disappointed with the image on the shirt.” Melby said. “I don’t think evolution should be associated with our school.”

Yes, because teaching the very fundamentals of biology in a school?

Heaven forbid.

[Update: Steve Novella has a funny and pointed take on all this.]

Comments (174)

  1. mariana

    Re: remaining neutral where religion is concerned. Doesn’t that statement imply that evolution (or even science perhaps) is also a religion, a matter of belief, rather than many facts encompassed by a theory or model? Annoying to say the least.

  2. Chad

    Maybe the marching band was an all-gospel marching band…

    In which case the shirts would have been much more well received.

    /sic

  3. “I don’t think evolution should be associated with our school.”

    That’s okay I don’t think evolution wants to be associated with your school either.

  4. Roberto Ruth

    That’s it! I’m moving to Canada.

  5. Obviously the shirt needs another figure at the end, holding its trumpet straight out like *real* marching trumpeteers do.
    /snarky nitpicking

  6. Becker

    Unfortunate.

    I work in a different Missouri school, just outside of St. Louis, where a Judeo-Christian ethos pervades almost everything that happens here. The head principal is constantly using religious rhetoric when addressing students & staff (he’s so “blessed” to work here, pray for so-and-so’s sick father, etc.). During a recent address to the graduating seniors, one soon-to-retire teacher even went so far as to explicitly encourage having a relationship w/ god, claiming that, unless one did so, one was “sitting in the rigid folding chairs of disappionting conformity.”

    Irony, anyone?

    Often overlooked in these sorts of instances is the effect on young folks developing an athiestic, agnostic, or just plain skeptical worldview. I know for a fact, because I hear it directly from students, that they feel these exclusions to be insulting, even a bit painful. Subtly conveyed, every day, is the reminder that they do not belong. Were the roles reversed, would the religious faction silently suffer such moments? If I got up to address the student body and “preached” atheism, is there any doubt that I would be handed my walking papers (and a prayer for my everlasting soul, of course)?

    You’re right, PP. Just ask any one of those kids: Pandering to the majority is NOT neutral. It’s not just an affront to science; it’s a civil rights violation.

  7. Seriously, one can only hope that natural selection does away with people “thinking” this way… now, wouldn’t that be ironic :D

  8. “Pollitt said the district is required by law to remain neutral where religion is concerned.”

    In Pollitt’s mind, he’s being religion neutral. He just lacks the education (ironic, a high level school admin lags in basic education) to know that evolution is a scientific body of work based on observable and falsifiable evidence rather than “atheist gospel” as many creationists are convinced it is.

  9. Becker

    Eugenics? Those are the folks with the _different_ sort of cross . . .

  10. Brown

    “Pollitt said the district is required by law to remain neutral where religion is concerned.” I agree with the sentiment on its face: governmental entities on all levels SHOULD be neutral (or preferably, MUST be neutral) on matters of religion. Religion is not government’s business.

    Where Pollitt goes off base is by suggesting that these shirts are, in any way, related to religion. From the story: “‘If the shirts had said “Brass Resurrections” and had a picture of Jesus on the cross, we would have done the same thing,’ he [Pollitt] said.” The graphic in question was not even remotely similar to religious imagery such as Jesus on the cross.

  11. Pote

    Unrelated Post:

    I saw you at Arkansas Governor’s School a few years ago and thought of you when I ran across this article: http://www.theonion.com/content/news/conspiracy_theorist_convinces_neil?utm_source=a-section

    Enjoy!

  12. Matt

    An excellent argument with which I agree wholeheartedly. Every time I see something like this it makes me wish there were some organization I could donate money to. I could give something to the ACLU, but I want my money to go to fighting this SPECIFIC injustice.

    I hope someone fights back and starts a legal fund to take this to court. This kind of nonsense needs to be beaten to death in a courtroom so that it sets a precedent and prevents it from happening again.

  13. Melissa

    What really kills me is that so many people think that evolution is just a “theory” in the wrong sense of the word and not the correct connotation of the word “Scientific Theory”. Sadly our education system is so broken & the fundamentalist are home school raising people who will think scientists are crazy and liars. That is a shame!

  14. Mblack

    The problem here is that you’re trying to apply logic to an argument put forward by completely unintelligent people.

  15. Charles J. Slavis, Jr.

    Fortunately any religion that fails to evolve will become extinct. Just wait.

  16. Nathanial Burton-Bradford

    Phil,
    you forgot to mention a very VERY important point, right at the start of your piece.
    Evolution is a SCIENTIFIC endeavor – supported by FACTS….

  17. Zucchi

    I’d like to see the Asst. Superintendent’s reaction if a conservative Muslim parent demanded that all the female students keep their heads modestly covered.

  18. Makes a change for a Pro Christian Creator God stance to be heard AMEN shame Evolution cant be proved ! http://bit.ly/tHHeg

  19. Charles J. Slavis, Jr.

    People hate change, but that doesn’t stop it from happening. It is what God does.

  20. re Charles J. Slavis, Jr. Says: Wot ? wait another 2000 years you mean !

  21. Charles J. Slavis, Jr.

    On the God comment, my guess is as good as yours.

  22. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    Pollitt said the district is required by law to remain neutral where religion is concerned.

    As Greg Mayer points out at Why Evolution Is True, Smithsonian already fought off a creationist attack which resulted in the following ruling:

    they successfully fought off a creationist legal attack in 1980, eliciting from the DC Circuit Court of Appeals the memorable ruling that the balance between freedom of religion and learning

    …was long ago struck in favor of diffusion of knowledge based on responsible scientific foundations, and against special constitutional protection of religious believers from the competition generated by such knowledge diffusion.

    I.e. there is no constitutional support for protecting religion from science findings, and the juridical system favor education of science before protecting the religious having the vapors.

  23. Patrick

    @mariana

    I’m pretty sure that’s a primary rhetorical intent of the phrasing.

    @Charles Slavis

    Sure Religions that don’t change will pass away, but don’t think that Fundamentalist Christianity isn’t changing. A religion adapting doesn’t mean adapting to be more in line with science I’m afraid.

  24. Charles J. Slavis, Jr.

    I came from everything eternally changing. That might be what I call God. Perhaps one day I will find out the Truth.

  25. Aline

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

    People often remember the “establishment clause” and gloss over the “free exercise” clause.

    It is wrong to say that the school must be religion neutral, in fact it has to be religion tolerant. If the Bible study group wants to meet after school and the school provides room for other clubs to meet, then it must provide room for the bible group. It cannot discriminate based on the religious content of the club.

    But I can’t get my head around the concept that science is a religion. So I guess it’s really the “freedom of speech” clause that’s applicable here. If the reason that it is being banned is because some people interpret it as a criticism of religion of some sort, like creationism, then the ban is based on content and would not be legal. If the school is concerned about appearing to endorse the content of the shirts it could issue a disclaimer.

    My problem with the explanation/excuse of the school is that it is disengenuous. It’s hiding behind the First Amendment while stripping it of meaning.

  26. I’d agree that this is another case of – as the author placed it – knee-jerk reactionary behavior to something that has been ingrained and misrepresented from the beginning. Evolution != equate to a religion, nor does it necessarily conflict with one. I’m a Christian and personally believe that it is arrogant to limit God’s ability to create to a “*poof* There it is!” mentality. Symbolism, hyperbole, simplified explanation? I find it interesting that Genesis is always taken literally when so much of what is taught in the Bible is intended for application and interpretation going forward.

    I’d like to encourage you to withhold your judgment on all Christians based on the actions of those with the small town mentality. I can guarantee you that there are Christian band members in the Sedalia band that are boggling at this situation. I think you will find going forward that there are a new generation of Christians who are much more loving and respectful of people with different opinions and ideas, even ones that go against our belief system.

  27. Since when is evolution a religion… Oh, that’s right, the Creationists/ID-ers like to call people who accept the Theory of Evolution “Darwinists” to make it sound all religion-y. Then it’s just a matter of one religion versus another religion. Except this “religion” has a mountain of scientific evidence backing it and the other has “God done did it.”

    Being “religion neutral” is a laudable goal. I can’t tell you how many times I felt excluded in school because I was Jewish and not Christian. Even at a young age when we were instructed to make Christmas ornaments in class. When I said I didn’t celebrate Christmas, the teacher told me mine could be a “holiday ornament.” (I was too young to realize there was no such thing and did the assignment. My mother hung it on her mirror.) So I’m very sympathetic to being religion neutral, but this is the exact opposite. This is taking someone’s religious-based objections as the sole justification for modifying something, costing the school over a thousand dollars in the process.

    Oh, and good point on the cafeteria food, Phil. I’ll have to complain to my school district and demand that they turn 100% Kosher to appease my religious beliefs! ;-) (Just kidding. I myself am kosher in the home, but wouldn’t force my religious beliefs on anyone else.)

  28. then they’ll have to ban the Pledge of Allegiance because Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t worship idols

    Minor point: JW’s refuse to say the Pledge because they feel it violates Jesus’ dictum to “be no part of this world” to promise allegiance to any government (or, indeed, to participate in politics). They don’t salute the flag because they don’t worship idols, and they consider any national flag to be an idol.

  29. Digital Ruse

    “The EGE Says:
    Obviously the shirt needs another figure at the end, holding its trumpet straight out like *real* marching trumpeteers do.
    /snarky nitpicking”

    Actually, all brass horn angles (with the exception of Sousaphones) are supposed to be five degrees above parallel. ;)
    /snarky nitpicking

    -DR

  30. Although I’m not religious, nor do I agree with Pollitt’s sentiment here, I just want to play the other side of the fence for a second.

    If you are a creationist, wouldn’t you see a t-shirt depicting evolution as going against your personal moral fiber and religion and hence anti-religious? It might be considered to be as offensive as a t-shirt depicting Jesus doing something amoral.

  31. Charles J. Slavis, Jr.

    At this point both science and religion are both looking for the Truth. Science seems to be looking harder and with more objectivity. Religion uses faith to avoid looking too closely at God. I fail to understand their fear of God. I think God loves us. Change puts us here and change takes us. A volcano is only God’s wrath if it’s dumping on me.

  32. Dennis

    The statement from Melby gets even worse. She’s not just a band parent, she’s also a teacher in the district according to the article.

  33. @Aline,

    I would interpret being “religious neutral” as making decisions regardless of the religious content of the group in question. So if a bible study group wants to meet after school, that’s fine. You would base the decision as if there was no difference between the bible study after-school group and the astronomy after-school group. (In this case, at least, a science-religion difference wouldn’t matter since it is outside of the classroom.) In addition, you wouldn’t base your decision on what *kind* of bible study group it was. You couldn’t approve a Christian one but deny a Jewish one or a Buddist one. (I know Buddists wouldn’t have a “Bible” study group, but you know what I mean.)

    What this principal was doing, however, wasn’t being religion neutral. The fact that he was basing his decision on a religious objection made it very much a religious *BIASED* decision. Now, if he thought that the T-Shirts, for some reason, were lewd (say, had the man’s brass instrument been “suggestively placed”), this would be a non-story.

  34. Elmar_M

    I would make sure me and simillarily minded parents appear to the very next parent teacher day wearing exactly that shirt.
    I would also point out any teachers, students wearing crosses or headscarfs, or stars of david as offensive ;)

  35. Charles J. Slavis, Jr.

    I think dodging the incoming goes with existence. You can’t have one without the other. If nothing changed we would all be neat statues.

  36. Michael

    Well, here is the horrible collision where political correctness meets a sublime, entrenched ignorance. If band members found the shirts personnally offensive, then they simply don’t wear them. Here is America’s new tolerance of intolerance. Very, very sad.

    Mblack–your comment is equally kneejerk, and is the crux of the unfortunate elitist view of the more priviledged in our society. Some of these folks may well be smarter than you—they are wrong, but they may be smarter.

  37. @David,

    I am religious (Jewish), don’t agree with the decision, but will play the “pro-shirt” side of the fence.

    Even if I were a creationist parent, my religious objections shouldn’t be the basis for banning the shirt. I happen to be Kosher in my home. (I’m not kosher outside my house because it would be a huge burden where I live, however I tend to eat vegetarian out to reduce kosher issues.) If I thought that my son’s being “forced” into eating non-kosher food in his cafeteria was “going against my personal moral fiber and religion and hence anti-religious”, would that mean I could force the cafeteria to turn kosher? Perhaps the school district should pay to split the kitchens into meat and dairy ones, pay for kosher supervision, only buy/serve kosher meals, etc. Sure, it would cost a lot of money and your school taxes would go up, but at least my religious sensibilities wouldn’t be offended.

    Of course, I would never do that. My religious beliefs should end with me (and my family). When my child goes to school, he’s going to learn things that might run counter to my religious beliefs. How I address that at home is my business, but it isn’t the school’s business to make sure that every aspect of “school life” agrees 100% with every aspect of everyone’s “home life.”

  38. Nomen Publicus

    I presume the school also bans the wearing of crosses, stars of david, turbans etc?

    It’s interesting that they were sufficiently aware of the graphic to take the action that they did. I wonder what would happen if the t-shirts contained a verse from the Koran in Arabic script.

  39. People are certainly allowed to “be offended” by the shirts because they think they are ugly or that their theme is stupid, etc., etc. People are NOT allowed, however, to “be offended” by FACTS.

    And evolution is a FACT, not a belief.

    These kinds of stories really piss me off. You’ve got stupid on one side and spineless on the other.

  40. Mike O'Connell

    Ugh… my state makes me sick sometimes. This is downright absurd. Even my friends’ hardcore-fundamentalist parents wouldn’t have freaked out about this. They would have just sighed and muttered something under their breath about it.

  41. Evil Eye

    The shirt is wrong to start with anyway.

    We didn’t come from Monkeys. They are our cousins, not ancestors.

  42. Charles J. Slavis, Jr.

    Equality doesn’t mean making everybody happy but politicians are trying to play that losing game. Equality just means equal opportunity.

  43. John

    In the interest of neutrality I wonder if the band members are also instructed to remove crosses and other religious symbols

  44. ChadS

    Has anyone seen the poll at the newspaper’s website? The poll shows that 97% believe the critics and school district are over reacting, while only 3% believe the response is appropriate. It seems that it’s only community members objecting to this not band parents. Most likely these “community” members look at the band as only the half-time entertainment at a football game and the soundtrack for a parade. Little do they know how much work those kids put into practice and drill instruction for every football game and if they compete how much work goes into that. Those kids shouldn’t have to turn in those shirts and if the locals don’t like it they don’t have to go to their performances anyhow … which they most likely weren’t going to in the first place.

  45. Re: removing crosses, headscarves, etc.

    That would only be an applicable analogy if the crosses, headscarves, etc. were paid for by the school, like the shirts were.

    That aside, the shirts weren’t even religious, as others have already pointed out.

  46. Jan

    “The problem here is that you’re trying to apply logic to an argument put forward by completely unintelligent people.”

    Not exactly, what I think you want to say is “The problem is that you’re trying to apply logic to someone’s beliefs, which they cling to in a very emotional and illogical way.”

    It’s not that these people are unintelligent (they might be, but being able to run a school does require a certain amount of higher brain functions) but more that they cling to their beliefs and start to reason from there. I think it’s important to keep a distinction between intelligence and religious zeal. I’ve talked to rather “dumb” people who make excellent skeptics, who keep an open mind to any and all reason, while not being fooled easily by supernatural mumbo-jumbo and easy explanations. On the other hand I’ve also seen near-geniuses believing in spirits from the otherworld granting them supernatural abilities.

    It’s not what you have, it’s how you use it.

    Sorry for ranting, I just thought it was something that needed to be pointed out.

  47. Danno

    I believe I heard a similar quote here and bears repeating now (source?).

    “You cannot argue logically with creationists; otherwise, there would be no creationists.”

  48. Sticks

    According to some of the comments on the newspaper site, some are saying that those who designed the shirts should be made to foot the bill. Given how much of a hot potato Evolution is in the US, the design should have gone up the line for approval. If they had done, then the design could have been rejected at an earlier stage and that would have saved the school a lot of money and opprobrium. The way you do things across the pond I am half expecting the band leaders who did the design to face disciplinary action.

    I don’t think this would happen in the UK

  49. Mike Molnar

    You omitted a very important (and sad) fact.

    Band parent Sherry Melby, **who is a teacher in the district**, stands behind Pollitt’s decision. Melby said she associated the image on the T-shirt with Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.

    “I was disappointed with the image on the shirt.” Melby said. “I don’t think evolution should be associated with our school.”

    Words fail.

  50. Cecil

    There is a world-class drum corps, The Cadets, that had a shirt design very similar to this a few years ago (they even used the same image from Wikipedia as a base – it’s too bad I can’t find a picture of it). I’m a big fan of them and of course thought it was a quite clever design, even if it, as typically read, implies “improvement” through evolution. But I was waiting for someone to comment on it or complain… I guess it finally happened, then.

  51. tacitus

    You’re right it wouldn’t happen in the UK — if one of the very few members of the religious right there had protested the design, they would have been met with the classic “you’ve got to be kidding” look from just about everybody.

    The irony is, of course, that a large majority of public (non-private) schools in Britain are directly affiliated with their local church, hold regular worship services (or used to anyway), and celebrate Christmas (including Nativity plays) and even Easter. All five of my nephews and nieces went to Church of England primary schools because that was the only public option where they lived. But believe me, there is nothing better at turning kids away from religion than state-sponsored religion in schools.

    The American religious right wants nothing less than to re-establish Christianity in the nation’s public school system, yet they are profoundly and willfully oblivious to the fact that all across the world, in nations where Christianity is an established part of the state, their religion is practically on life–support. Church attendance in the UK is now well below 10%.

  52. Jdhuey

    Dear Parents and Students;

    As of tomorrow, all Science, History, and Social Studies classes have been canceled – permanently. As part of our ongoing review our curriculum we have determined that these classes discuss reality and as such will be offensive to some religion somewhere. We continue to review class materials in our other classes ensuring that we remain neutral to any religion, so all content that might be in violation of some religion’s tradition and, as such, offensive to the believers will be suppressed.

    Thank you,

    Superintendent of Schools.

  53. Dan I.

    It REALLY irks me the way these yahoos interpret the “neutrality doctrine” to mean “Can’t teach anything that goes against a religion.

    That isn’t what it means. It means (in a very broad sense) that a government agency (like a school) can neither “advance nor inhibit” a particular religious viewpoint over another OR religion over non-religion.

    In fact, the idea that we have to teach Creationism/ID which is a specific set of CHRISTIAN beliefs is such a blatant violation of the neutrality doctrine that it makes my head spin when people use the neutrality doctrine to justify it.

  54. IVAN3MAN

    Sticks:

    I don’t think this would happen in the UK.

    tacitus:

    You’re right it wouldn’t happen in the UK…

    Err… don’t bet on it: Church school bans Lennon classic.

  55. Iason Ouabache

    I can’t wait for one of those shirts to end up on eBay.

  56. John Powell

    As Brad Pitt aptly put, these folks are trashing the very rights that protects their religion.

  57. Lars

    What if the T-shirst had a moon landing motive, and it was the Krishnas who protested?

  58. Ray C.

    @54 et al.: Bear in mind that to said yahoos, “religion” means Christianity and nothing else, and “Christianity” is strictly the Fundie sort.

  59. pdquick

    Also, if schools were going to avoid offending believers in Leviticus, they would have to ban football, which requires touching the flesh of dead pigs (or, at least, change the material in footballs). Also, kids would have to be sent home to change if they mixed fabrics.

  60. @Lars,

    I read through to the Krishna’s “why the moon landing was a hoax page.” Quite funny in some spots. ( http://krishna.org/man-on-the-moon-a-colossal-hoax-that-cost-billions-of-dollars/ if you want to read it.) I particularly liked this quote:

    “since the moon has a particular standard of life and atmosphere, if one wants to travel there he has to adapt his material body to the conditions of that planet.

    Even on the earth planet these restrictions hold true. For example, a human being cannot possibly live in the water nor can a fish live on land.”

    No, a human can’t live under the water… unless he happens to be wearing a scuba suit or diving suit. And a human can’t possibly be alive on the moon unless he’s wearing a space suit. Now, if NASA’s photos of Armstrong and company had them wearing a T-Shirt, shorts and sneakers, I could see where you could use this argument to claim it was a hoax.

  61. @Iason Ouabache,

    If a few of the shirts were “leaked” to eBay and the auction money “anonymously donated” to the school, the school could easily cover the costs of replacing the shirts.

  62. gss_000

    Ah, the smorgasbord form of fundamentalism: I’ll take a little of this law, and that law, but forget that one… :)

    Never had this problem growing up in the Mass., luckily. Although from having discussions with a parent who was a school administrator, I can say that the First Amendment argument for the T’s might not work that well. It just gives you the right to speak out against the government, not to say anything you want anywhere. When it comes to schools, there have been rulings in the past against T-shirts on the basis that they create a distracting learning environment. Now, those were on a whole other scale (dealing with “lewd” shirts) than this, which seems so innocuous it’s just dumb.

    I feel like some places are heading back to the Footloose Universe.

  63. mike burkhart

    If this school distric wants to be “Religously Netural” they must also require students to fast and eat fish on fridays during lent as my church requires and they must allow that belef that make fundameentlists ( and prodastis) mad the Assumpion of the virgin Mary. My point is this is an example of the religious right wanting only ther belefs and no one elses tought in our schools I as a Christan ( Catholic) disagree with this and I would have allowed it because eveloution dosen’t scare me or cause me any problems with my faith . By the way they better not put any thing about the big bang on ther t shirts fundamnentlists hate that theory to P.S. Catholic laws are for Catholics only I would not force them on non Catholics

  64. Cragg

    Perhaps those who say the T shirt is wrong are correct. In a current TED talk, Elaine Morgan makes a strong case for humans as descendants of an aquatic species, but if it’s an ape like ancestor, or an aquatic ape-like ancestor, it certainly makes more sense than “poof” we’re here on the whim of a magical being.

    But let’s assume the magical being exists. Who made us? Is it the Jewish version, or the Christian version. Or perhaps the Muslims are correct, or maybe the Hindus. Or if you are polytheistic, spin the wheel and take your pick.

    I only pity those people who cannot open their eyes to science, but it’s not their fault. It is the fault of their parents, grandparents and those before them who continue the myths by indoctrinating their children from the moment they can understand words. And, the indoctrination goes on today in order to keep those in power continually selling hope in exchange for dollars in order to keep them in that position of power.

    Some thinking group of parents should buy, or remake, distribute and wear the tee-shirts to every school event.

  65. Cragg (#65) The aquatic ape idea is — haha — all wet. It’s really really wrong; see SGU for more.

  66. tacitus

    @55:Ivan

    Oh come on Ivan, there’s a big difference between pupils wearing an evolution-themed tee-shirt that had nothing to do with religion in any way and teaching pupils to sing an song that is overtly anti-religious–”Imagine there’s no Heaven, it’s easy if you try.”

    I fully agree with the sentiment of that song, and would agree that if kids can be (and are) taught hymns at school, they should be allowed to learn “Imagine” too. But even in a near-majority non-believing country like the UK, I am not surprised that there are limits to what you can do when it comes to offending people’s religious sensibilities.

  67. Molly

    @TechyDad #38

    What a beautiful and succinct comment. Thank you.

  68. Adrian Lopez

    “If we are to believe Pollitt, then they’ll have to ban the Pledge of Allegiance because Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t worship idols. That’ll go over well, I’m sure.”

    We should probably ban the Pledge of Allegiance just the same. For one thing, it speaks of “one nation under God”, which is enough for me to raise an objection but isn’t really the worst part. The worst part is the idea that kids should have to pledge allegiance to the flag of the nation that is their home. As far as I’m concerned, citizens should never have to prove themselves worthy — even symbolically — to live in the country in which they were born.

  69. IVAN3MAN

    tacitus:

    But even in a near-majority non-believing country like the UK, I am not surprised that there are limits to what you can do when it comes to offending people’s religious sensibilities.

    Even so, that did not stop the BBC from broadcasting Jerry Springer: The Opera, back in January 2005, despite protests from the organization Christian Voice — which is why I deliberately chose to watch the musical ( :mrgreen: ), even though I generally don’t like musicals!

  70. Whenever I hear someone say that government must be neutral with respect to government (usually a government official saying it) I wonder:
    What would happen if you were being sworn in as a witness in court and they said
    “Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you God?”

    and you said “No”

  71. Charles J. Slavis, Jr.

    You mean my grandmother was wrong when she said that Jesus was a white, blue eyed Catholic from Lithuania?

  72. Charles J. Slavis, Jr.

    Ok! He came from the middle east, but could speak Lithuanian.

  73. Charles J. Slavis, Jr.

    She didn’t even realize that Jesus was Jewish.

  74. Charles J. Slavis, Jr.

    My father was an alter boy…….See! More change from God. Evolution IS!

  75. Damon

    Where’d Charles go? This thread isn’t the same without Gramps voicing his obligatory murky pro-religious BS every 10 seconds while real men and women settle the issue empirically.

  76. Charles J. Slavis, Jr.

    That was an intelligent comment idiot.

  77. Charles J. Slavis, Jr.

    Phil, Can’t apes swim?

  78. Charles J. Slavis, Jr.

    I have yet to hear Damon refute any of my murky pro-religious BS because he has no logical arguments to refute my opinions or statements.

  79. Roen

    “The thing is, science has been steadily wearing away the very high, Christian values this great country has been built upon. We must protect our heritage, our children and our freedom that God gave us with every fiber of our bei… ” CRACKTHUD! Chachink.

  80. Charles J. Slavis, Jr.

    A long time ago I realized that you can’t argue with the Truth.

  81. Charles J. Slavis, Jr.

    When religion ignores the truth of scientific facts and argues that logic hinders beliefs, then the beliefs are false. But on the other hand, science has no explanation of the beginning or why our consciousness occurs in one body or another. Either everything eternally evolves resulting in you and I , or it only happens once and we are all very lucky. No BS here just logic.

  82. Charles J. Slavis, Jr.

    I believe that everything is God. My opinion only. No proof. It is just my guess. And, my guess is as good as yours.

  83. Charles J. Slavis, Jr.

    Now Damon, What is the opinion of a real man?

  84. Charles J. Slavis, Jr.

    I thought as much. You’re dismissed.

  85. @IVAN3MAN

    Heh, I went to a Catholic school and during one mass we used Lennon’s Imagine and Joplin’s Mercedes Benz as “hymns”.

    Oh, and Jerry Springer The Opera isn’t, to be pedantic, a musical. It is a full on Opera. Fat lady with horned helmet and everything. I saw it at the Sydney Opera House earlier this year and it was fabulous.

    @Charles
    A long time ago I realized that you can’t argue with the Truth.
    Ah, so that is why you spout the religious nonsense you do.

  86. whb03

    Please don’t feed the charles.

    And may I suggest, as some of you fine folks from Texas have similarly claimed, we ain’t all like dat dem dar biblebelters here in shamemestate MO…

    *hangs head in shame*

    Hey – at least the majority of the comments were on the side of science (does science even have a side? I thought reality really didn’t care much about “sides”?)… Really, only 3 or 4 of the commenters were fundamentalist Sedalians, and at least 1 of those were confused students whom the rational folk tried to set right. Even most Sedalians were shameful of the entire episode (for the right reasons). So no, MO isn’t quite hopeless. But still, I must obligingly hang my head all the same and say “sorry ’bout that folks, now on with the regularly scheduled programming”.

  87. Keith

    Ever notice how those who believe in creationism look and act the least evolved? They say, “I believe God created me in one day.” To which I say, “Looks like He rushed the job.”

    (Bill Hicks FTW)

  88. I’ve been thinking lately that for a lot of the anti-evolution crowd, it truly is a matter of “religion v. reality,” or perhaps more accurately “distaste v. reality.”

    What I mean is that they don’t necessarily buy the made-up “science” of the IDers and such any more than the rest of us. It’s not even that they honestly think human evolution didn’t happen–they just don’t like the idea. They don’t like to think about their ancestors being neantherals, let alone apes. I don’t personally understand what some find so offensive and/or scary about the concept, but they do.

    E.g.,
    “I was disappointed with the image on the shirt.” Melby said. “I don’t think evolution should be associated with our school.”

    Note that she doesn’t say ‘I don’t think our students should be representing the school advocating a scientifically unproven “theory,”‘ or some nonsense. No, she just doesn’t like the idea of being “associated” with “evolution.”

    It’s like the ‘anti-vaxxers are anti-vax’ post the other day. They don’t really care about the science one way or the other–they’re just anti-evolution.

    I don’t know how well I’m explaining myself. It makes sense ‘in my head,’ but I’m struggling to express it clearly.

    Anyhow, just a theory hypothesis…

  89. I'd rather be fishin'

    Don’t feed the charles. Engaging in a battle of wits with unarmed opponents is not good for the stress level.

    “I was disappointed with the image on the shirt.” Melby said. “I don’t think evolution should be associated with our school.”

    Yeah, confusing kids with facts and teaching them to think is a sure recipe for problems in later years. What democracy needs educated thinking voters?

    TechyDad could steer his children’s school to be kosher if he tells The Powers That Be (TPTB) that the diet is healthy and approved by all sorts of specialists and experts. Judging from the level of science knowledge TPTB have in that school, Leviticus would be considered overqualified.

    Roberto Ruth (#4) wants to move to Canada. Just a word to the wise: Google Bill 44 in Alberta first. We ain’t as far gone as the US, but you know the old saying ‘if you’re in second place you have to try harder’.

  90. 88. Keith Says:

    Ever notice how those who believe in creationism look and act the least evolved? They say, “I believe God created me in one day.” To which I say, “Looks like He rushed the job.”

    (Bill Hicks FTW)

    Maybe that’s why they often need to be ‘born again’.

    (Like my comment about Assemblies Of God… ‘I thought there was no assembly required’)

    J/P=?

  91. Roen

    89. unquiet Says:
    “They don’t like to think about their ancestors being neantherals, let alone apes. ”

    Last I heard homosapien did not evolve from neanderthal. Neanderthal was a separate branch entirely.

  92. Brian

    As a fundamentalist, I love to see people argue religious points out of ignorance. Just one for-instance: “Who made us? Is it the Jewish version, or the Christian version.” If the author of that statement knew anything about the religions he is criticizing, he would know that they are one and the same!

    My father taught me that if your arguments don’t have merit, attack the speaker. Politicians tell you that straw men are much easier to argue with than actual positions. Read back through the responses here: you find a multititude of straw men, and many attacks on the speakers.

    If you want to argue for evolution, debate it on its merits. If you want to attack those who oppose you, you only debase yourself and your position.

  93. Brian (#93): That would be a cute argument, except the case was made and proved for evolution long ago. The only reason there’s any debate at all anymore is because fundamentalists lie about, distort, or ignore the evidence.

  94. Roen

    93. @Brian:

    “To distort or misrepresent an argument one is trying to refute is called the straw man fallacy” From Skeptic’s Dictionary, Critical Thinking mini-lesson 9, straw man fallacy.

    I have not noticed any straw men here, the positions being argued against are not made up by us but presented by the fundamentalists themselves. What I believe you are referring to is the ad hominem.

    “The ad hominem fallacy occurs when one asserts that somebody’s claim is wrong because of something about the person making the claim.” Also from the Skeptic’s Dictionary.

  95. Charles J. Slavis, Jr.

    Shane, My nonsense is every bit as valid as yours.

  96. Charles J. Slavis, Jr.

    Please state what religious nonsense you are talking about.

  97. Charles J. Slavis, Jr.

    I poke more fun at religion than I spout. I believe in God because science is inadequate at explaining my existence in this body and unable to show how everything started. Can’t I guess along with the rest of you who haven’t got a clue?

  98. Charles J. Slavis, Jr.

    Multi-verses, singularities, strings. What is your guess?

  99. Charles J. Slavis, Jr.

    David Copperfield?

  100. @I’d rather be fishin’,

    Take it from someone who knows, being kosher is expensive. The next time you’re in the supermarket, look at the kosher frozen foods section. (That’s your best chance to find kosher meat.) Here, we’ll buy kosher chicken for $6 per pound frozen and that’s cheap compared to the fresh option. It’s gotten to the point where we’re virtually vegetarian. We’ll have chicken or turkey from time to time, but mostly it’s pasta, veggies, fish, etc. For a public school to go kosher would require major financial investment. (That doesn’t even get into special requirements for Passover.)

    If my son eating kosher food all the time was that important to me, I’d either send him to a Jewish private school or, at the very least, I would send him in every day with a kosher lunch/snack for him to eat. I wouldn’t make my religious dietary restrictions a problem for other people.

  101. Charles J. Slavis, Jr.

    I like the multi-verse because it increases my odds of happening and possibly repeating if it evolves forever. How do you think you got here?

  102. Svaals

    I was hoping to see this story on the blog today. I actually heard about this from my room-mate, who recently graduated from Smith Cotton High. Sedalia, MO is very much “small-town, Midwest America”, and unfortunately, has more than its share of religious fundamentalism.

  103. Brian

    Thanks for clarification Roen, you are absolutely correct. The majority of negative comments (versus arguments) are ad hominem rather than straw men.

  104. Charles J. Slavis, Jr.

    Perhaps science people aren’t allowed to state what they think until they have enough information to be sure that they haven’t made a mistake. So many questions. So few answers.

  105. One thing about ad hominem arguments:

    If I say that a creationist’s views about evolution are wrong, and that said creationist is a poopy face, that’s NOT an ad hominem argument. If I say (or imply) that a creationist’s views about evolution are wrong BECAUSE he or she is a poopy face, THAT’S an ad hominem argument.

    It’s not necessarily happening here, but boy does it come up a lot in various forums and various blogs–as soon as a cross word is muttered, someone leaps up with “ad hominem!” But just because arguments get a bit heated doesn’t mean the ad hominems are flying.

  106. Now that Brian has his arguments clearly defined, perhaps he could present one for the creationist point of view? Helpful suggestion: start with your evidence.

    What’s that….?

  107. alfaniner

    Instead of selling band candy, the kids should sell those t-shirts on eBay. They’d make a fortune!

  108. Sticks

    To those saying they would like to buy the shirts off of ebay – it ain’t gonna happen, it would be political suicide not to have them all incinerated. Evolution has also become a matter of politcs as well as religion from what we see over here across the pond.

    As for Evolution not being a religion, I am reminded of that notorious article in the May 1980 edition of Physics Bulletin by H S Lipson who branded evolution as a “Scientific Religion”

    With comments like that, not coming from taditional creationist communities, one can also see how they can use that to have evolution shunted into the realm of religion.

  109. Darth Robo

    >>>”As a fundamentalist, I love to see people argue religious points out of ignorance. Just one for-instance: “Who made us? Is it the Jewish version, or the Christian version.” If the author of that statement knew anything about the religions he is criticizing, he would know that they are one and the same!”

    Is this all you got? Who CARES what your religious opinions are. Do they have anything to do with reality? Do they have anything to do with the *fact* that Pollit out of order here?

    Cue “evolutionist elitists”, fundie ego pride, martyr complex.

    (That last sentence may have been ad-hom)

  110. Sticks

    For some reason my posts are going into moderation??

    I tried to post this
    +++++++++++++
    To those saying they would like to buy the shirts off of ebay – it ain’t gonna happen, it would be political suicide not to have them all incinerated. Evolution has also become a matter of politcs as well as religion from what we see over here across the pond.

    As for Evolution not being a religion, I am reminded of that notorious article in the May 1980 edition of Physics Bulletin by H S Lipson who branded evolution as a “Scientific Religion”

    With comments like that, not coming from taditional creationist communities, one can also see how they can use that to have evolution shunted into the realm of religion.
    +++++++++
    Mind you I did have a different email address which I did not notice

  111. Roen

    104. @Brian:
    You’re welcome. For the record I did not see vary many ad hominems either. They were primarily commenting on the article comments. I believe I also shot a fictitious fundi, which may qualify as an ad hominem, but it felt so good.

  112. toasterhead

    88. Keith Says:
    August 31st, 2009 at 6:50 pm

    Ever notice how those who believe in creationism look and act the least evolved?

    That’s because they are. Religion is an ancient genetic inheritance passed down from our hunter-gatherer ancestors as they transitioned to a more agrarian and less egalitarian society. It would appear that some people prefer to remain slaves to their genes.

  113. Roen

    105. Charles J. Slavis, Jr.:

    You misunderstand how it works. When we science types test an idea or a theory we do require evidence before drawing conclusions, that’s science. What is going on here is that the fundamentalists, and their ideas, are not testable. So in conversation with you we all understand that we will get no place and nothing of value will come of it, except… those creepy lurkers out there. They are the ones we hope will think freely rather than accept on word a prepackaged religious explanation of nature. So it is for them that we argue with you, because it would really suck that the illogical get the last word.

    You see we have evidence that the US educational system is suffering from the arrogance of fundamentalism. It is not evil that evolution be taught in schools, because that is supposed to be an option in a country calling itself free. That is the freedom you Americans tout, and it is a freedom that is slowly being eroded away. The result is that more and more better educated people from other countries are being sought out by your companies and educational institutions.

    There is evidence that science has brought much good to people; better health, better security, better lifestyle. The TV you watch, the cellphone you talk on while driving, the automatic door that slides open for you at the grocery store are all products of science… not religion. Do try to keep all this in perspective. It is not just science types against religious types… it’s about your country falling to pieces at the roots because of religious blindness.

  114. Roen

    112. @toasterhead:
    “That’s because they are. Religion is an ancient genetic inheritance passed down from our hunter-gatherer ancestors as they transitioned to a more agrarian and less egalitarian society. It would appear that some people prefer to remain slaves to their genes”

    I do hope this was meant in jest… otherwise I’d have to ask you to cite the studies that show this to be true. ;)

    Hey, just trying to play fair.

  115. 114. Roen Says:
    September 1st, 2009 at 6:46 am

    I do hope this was meant in jest… otherwise I’d have to ask you to cite the studies that show this to be true.
    Hey, just trying to play fair.

    _____________

    I was just recently reading about it in Nicholas Wade’s Before the Dawn, which cites Roy Rappaport’s “The Sacred in Human Evolution,” Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics (1971), Joyce Marcus & Kent Flannery’s “The Coevolution of Ritual and Society: New C-14 Dates from Ancient Mexico”, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2004), Richard Sosis’ “Why Aren’t We All Hutterites,” Human Nature (2003), and Edward O. Wilson’s On Human Nature.

    And I don’t have specific citations, but there was recently an NPR series on the human genetic predisposition to belief.

  116. Nigel Depledge

    Sticks (49) said:

    According to some of the comments on the newspaper site, some are saying that those who designed the shirts should be made to foot the bill. Given how much of a hot potato Evolution is in the US, the design should have gone up the line for approval. If they had done, then the design could have been rejected at an earlier stage and that would have saved the school a lot of money and opprobrium.

    Seems to me like you’ve missed the point somewhat.

    There is nothing wrong with the design. Whatever the process, the design is not (read: should not be in a rational world) objectionable.

    Anyone offended by the fact of evolution on religious grounds needs to choose a better religion. One that can accommodate humanity’s ever-improving understanding of reality.

  117. Nigel Depledge

    Tacitus (67) said:

    Oh come on Ivan, there’s a big difference between pupils wearing an evolution-themed tee-shirt that had nothing to do with religion in any way and teaching pupils to sing an song that is overtly anti-religious–”Imagine there’s no Heaven, it’s easy if you try.”

    What’s anti-religious about a thought experiment?

  118. Nigel Depledge

    Brian (93) said:

    As a fundamentalist, I love to see people argue religious points out of ignorance. Just one for-instance: “Who made us? Is it the Jewish version, or the Christian version.” If the author of that statement knew anything about the religions he is criticizing, he would know that they are one and the same!

    This is a strawman, Brian. I have never seen that argument advanced as a counter to religious fundamentalism.

    OTOH, arguments in this vein that I have seen do include: Judaeo-Christian tradition or Hindu? These religions have completely different accounts of the creation of the world. They are mutually exclusive, i.e. it is impossible for both to be right. So, when the religious fundies demand that religion should be taught in place of biology, it is perfectly legitimate to ask which religion.

  119. This is my high school. I am so ashamed. I went there from 95-99, and just celebrated our 10 year high school reunion 2 weeks ago.

  120. Melissa

    Wow, I have only scanned the comments here and I am appalled on all sides. I am a Christian that loves science. I don’t even know of any Christians that say science is a religion or wrong. If you really research you will find that evolution and creation go hand in hand and neither one have been proven or disproven. It seems to me that most of the people here study only one side and try to say they are enlightened.
    Most Christians, and other religios people have lived secular lives and find it does not work for them. Many secular people have lived religious lives and feel that it does not work for them.
    What I find is that for a secular society that is always screaming about tolerance and coexist – they are very intolerant.
    However, I think the band t-shirts were very harmless and that thy should have been left alone. As a previous high school band member I can truly relate to the evolution of the brass section and find it humerous. In other words – people of all beliefs/non-beliefs – get over yourselves! Why do you think that you are going to change somones views on a blog? Go do some community volunteer work and make a real difference. I’m outta’here.

  121. John

    Quite a curfuffle.

    Dr. Kiki sent a letter to suggest that the school defray the cost by selling the shirts to those who might wear them proudly. Others have suggested that they end up on eBay.

    I think it would be a hoot if they ended up raising more money by selling the shirts that the normal bake sale.

  122. Sticks

    @John

    Not going to happen

    I remember back in the days of Dungeons and Dragons being told of someone who had all the books being converted, and he was persuaded, some say by God, others by the church elders to burn the entire lot.

    I expect those shirts will be incinerated, no matter what the cost, to do otherwise would be seen to violate the school’s neutrality policy on religion, as by selling them they will be seen to endorse evolution, which they see as a religion.

  123. Daffy

    Telling these knotheads that you would also have to be neutral on other religious viewpoints misses the point. They WANT a Christian dictatorship in the country…to them all other religions are satanic deceptions and MUST be eliminated. They don’t want fairness, they want CONTROL over what YOU say and think.

  124. Waiting for Brian’s scientific evidence in favor of Christian creationism…..

    Waiting…

    Waiting…

  125. Melissa

    kuhnigget – go to http://www.mwcreation.net.museums.html to check out all the creation science museums. Yes – I said creation science! There are many museums that focus on creation internationally. Christians are not afraid of science like some would like you to believe. We embrace it. Also for those that say evolution is fact, you need to research. No scientist has ever claimed it proven and much of the older evidence was proven to be false, misdirected or even fabricated, such as the pig skulls. Are you truly as educated as you are trying to present yourselves? I don’t know half of the evidence out there that proclaims either way fact, but I do know that condeming a persons belief is not nice anywhere.

  126. Joe Meils

    I think I know where I can buy some cool t-shirts, cheap! I wonder if they have any in 3XL?

  127. Lawrence

    126. Melissa – I do appreciate your sentiment that people should tolerate each other’s beliefs, but to think that “Creationism” has anything to do with “Science” is completely off-base. There is no way to test the idea of “Creation – God – etc,” it exists solely as the belief structure of organized Religion.

    As far as Evolution – there are now mountains of evidence that show the progression of species on this planet, that change has occurred, is occuring, and will continue to occur in the future. Transitional fossils exist, we know approximately what our ancestors looked like, where they came from, and how they evolved into what we know as ourselves today.

    Science is a process of continuing to learn more, taking new technology and new ideas and applying them to the old norms. Over time, we find out that our original ideas about something were wrong or our understand was not so complete, so the theories change and will continue to change over time.

    Unfortunately, Religions don’t change – they don’t really adapt to new ideas (in fact, they usually fight tooth and nail against anything that endangers their own doctrine), and are frightened by those same ideas. Religions are based around beliefs, that require no proof, because the people “BELIEVE” they are true.

    In Science, you have an idea that something might be true, but you have to have the means to test to make sure, then those tests need to be recreated and re-tested by your peers, only then is a new idea accepted.

    So, stop trying to mix the two – Science does not attack or endanger Religion. Just because Evolution is true, does that mean Christians all need to stop going to Church or that they think their children will all suddenly become mass murderers?

    A long time ago, people believed Volcanic eruptions were the results of the forges of Vulcan – and now we understand that isn’t the case – if people still worshipped old Greek Religions, would that mean we wouldn’t teach Volcano Science in class?

    If you want to go ahead & doubt all the Science out there, please stop using your computer, phone, car, electricity, and just about everything else that makes your life go – because all of it came from the steady progression of Scientific knowledge.

    I’ll stay out of your church, if you stay out of my classroom.

  128. Matt Penfold

    there are now mountains of evidence that show the progression of species….

    Quite literally mountains of evidence.

  129. Melissa

    Lawrence – I do not doubt science. I embrace it. There are many areas of science that support the theory of creation as well as the theory of evolution. Christians do not doubt evolution. There is allot of evidence, as you say, that evolution continues to this day. All of the Christian based universites and colleges teach science – including the theory of evolution. I don’t know where people get this attitufe.
    I find it extremely amusing being told that the two do not mix by someone that refuses to expand their education. You are very narrow minded, ha-ha!
    Christians do evolve in their thinking. If you happen to know one, ask them why we do not burn witches, torture people to accept Christ, or why we allow divirce in the church. We do understand that times change and we have a better comprehension of the love of God and his mercy. I am starting to realize why Christians are not responding to these allegations. No one wants to hear the truth about what we believe. They really prefer the lies and generalizations. Oh, and I will not stay out of your classroom, I am not the one you fear, and I will not fear science, and you are invited to come to my church and learn the truth about what we believe anytime.

  130. NGC3314

    I knew there was something unrealistic about that shirt. It’s supposed to depict brass players evolving – and yet they haven’t gotten beyond using valves? Please. Slides rule. And they even let you play in tune in untempered ensembles.

  131. 130. Melissa Says:
    September 1st, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    Lawrence – I do not doubt science. I embrace it. There are many areas of science that support the theory of creation as well as the theory of evolution. Christians do not doubt evolution. There is allot of evidence, as you say, that evolution continues to this day. All of the Christian based universites and colleges teach science – including the theory of evolution. I don’t know where people get this attitufe.

    If you’re able to reconcile your belief with the fact of evolution by natural selection, great. But you’re in the minority. Only 26% of Americans believe in evolution, according to a Pew poll from this February. The majority believe in young-Earth creationism or some form of theistic evolution, if they have any opinion at all. This is no accident. There is a very well-funded evangelical propaganda machine that has been working for decades on their Wedge Strategy – to drive doubt into the public consciousness about the science of evolution.

    And to address an issue you brought up earlier – tolerance isn’t necessarily a good thing. It’s a nice idea, sure, but there must be limits to what beliefs we as a society will tolerate. Should we tolerate polygamist pedophile sects, suicide comet cults, and snake charmers in the name of “freedom of religion?” How about radical Wahhabists or Hindutvas or Kahanists or Puritans? It’s not healthy for a society to be too tolerant of the intolerant.

  132. Greg in Austin

    @Melissa,

    “Also, for those that say evolution is fact, you need to research. No scientist has ever claimed it proven and much of the older evidence was proven to be false, misdirected or even fabricated, such as the pig skulls.”

    I would be interested to know where you got your Biology degree. Because really, if you have ever taken any college level science class and still want to make these claims, you should ask for your money back.

    Secondly, Creation Science, despite the word “Science” in the title, is NOT actual science. It doesn’t even follow the basic scientific method. In 1982 and in 1987, the Supreme Court ruled that Creation Science is not Science.
    Look up McLean v. Arkansas, and Edwards v. Aguillard.

    Creation Science is actually a religion whose basic principle is based on lies and deception.

    No offense, but I think you need to do more, “research,” and NOT from reading links from your CS websites.

    8)

  133. Daffy

    Melissa,

    The ONLY reason Christians have stopped burning “witches,” is because it was made illegal by the State. Something that is VERY important for the rest of us to remember.

    At least Buddhist monks who wanted to make a statement had the decency to set THEMSELVES on fire, rather than helpless victims.

  134. Melissa said,

    “There are many areas of science that support the theory of creation as well as the theory of evolution.”

    Please look up “not just a theory” online, or click my name for the link. You fell victim to one of the classic blunders! The most famous is never get involved in a land war in Asia, but only slightly less well-known is this: A scientific theory is the best scientific explanation for all of the observable facts. Theories that explain gravity, electromagnetism and evolution are the most well-proven and well-tested theories in science. Whereas Creationism has ZERO evidence to support it. It cannot be tested, and it cannot make predictions. It is based strictly on faith, and is not even in the same category as a scientific theory.

    Please, take some time to read some non-creationist propaganda.

    8)

  135. Melissa

    Greg – thanks for the info. Finally an intelligent comment.

  136. 126. Melissa Says:
    September 1st, 2009 at 11:01 am

    kuhnigget – go to blah blah blah museums.html to check out all the creation science museums. Yes – I said creation science! There are many museums that focus on creation internationally.
    ____________

    True. There’s also a Coca-Cola museum in Atlanta. This doesn’t negate the existence of Pepsi.

  137. RickK

    Are the shirts for sale?

    Since some people in the community are saying that the creators of the shirts should “foot the bill” for making them, can the creators take the shirts back and sell them to us for a healthy profit???

    Put the money toward a community lecture series on freedom of speech, the scientific method, and the difference between fact and faith. Or perhaps a community screening of the entire AronRa video series “The Foundational Falsehoods of Creationism”.

  138. @ Melissa:

    I do know that condeming a persons (sic) belief is not nice anywhere.

    Oh, really? So if I believe you are a sinner, based upon my beliefs, and that you should be stoned to death, that is okay? Really? Or that the earth rests on the back of a giant turtle and that fact should be taught in science classes?

    Oh, wait…it’s just your beliefs that have to be respected. Right.

    There are many areas of science that support the theory of creation as well as the theory of evolution.

    Name one. And please reference something other than a “creation science” museum or website, as that might help your case just a teensy bit.

    I find it extremely amusing being told that the two do not mix by someone that refuses to expand their education. You are very narrow minded, ha-ha!

    And I love being judged by someone who does not know one lick about me or my education. And guess what, toots? My “expanded education” came from a couple of top-notch universities, not some sham creationist “institute.”

    Now, where was that evidence for the fundy version of creationism again?

  139. Lawrence

    @Melissa – again, this is what you “BELIEVE.” Science deals with facts – if you put your religion dogma up against reality, the law of physics, etc, you will lose every time.

    I am probably one of the most tolerant and easy-going people you will have the pleasure of meeting, but I have real problems when people try to force their own religious beliefs on myself or my family. I would prefer that we keep religion out of schools (unless it is part of a history class), and leave science alone.

  140. Melissa

    Apparently I am outclassed here by degrees and people that cannot understand sarcasm (kuhnigget) – the narrow minded was a refence to people always calling Christians narrow minded. I have never attended a creationist institure, pushed my beliefs on anyones family or judged anyone – have a great life!

  141. Thus exits yet another creationist nit who cannot provide evidence for her claims.

    Oh! Ha! It was just sarcasm! Ha!

  142. “If you really research you will find that evolution and creation go hand in hand and neither one have been proven or disproven.”

    And if you really, REALLY research, you will find that statement to be absolutely wrong. Evolution has been “proven” by miles and miles of evidence. Creationism . . . nope. Miles and miles-long lines of believers don’t make up evidence.

    So, you’re half right. It’s true that Creationism has not been “proven” or “disproven,” whatever those words might mean in this context. But evolution is, to the extent that something can be, “proven.”

  143. Lawrence

    It all comes down to this – we don’t go into their Churches & tell them what they can and cannot teach or preach within those walls. Why do they feel the need to go into the classrooms and halls of government & try to tell the rest of us what we should believe in?

    There is a huge difference between what people believe, and what is real. In the classroom, we should be teaching what is real, the facts, the Science, and not trying to push Religion. It amazes me that these same people that have such distrust of government (on pretty much every level) would be comfortable with a bureaucrat deciding what aspects of their religion should be taught.

  144. Carney

    I accept and believe in the Modern Synthesis and disbelieve creationism. If I were on a school board or state legislature or textbook committee I would vote for policies that teach science in science class and not creationism.

    However, some quick points about the Constitution. Contrary to popular belief (especially among those who accept the reality of evolution), the First Amendment does NOT require that government decisions not be influenced by religious tenets or values, let alone require a strict secularism in all government actions.

    The authors and ratifiers of the First Amendment were motivated primarily by sentiment in the states which feared that an established federal church would supersede their already-established state churches. That’s right – the 1st was enacted to PROTECT established churches at the state level, such as the Congregationalist Church in MA. That’s why it explicitly only applies to Congress, not the states. For decades after ratification, states had established churches without a peep on constitutional grounds (as opposed to policy grounds) from the courts or those who wrote and ratified the first (and thus knew what it meant)

    Claims that the 1st was imposed on the states by the 14th amendment (called “incorporation”) lack any evidence from the authors and ratifiers of the 14th amendment that that is what they intended, and indeed for decades after ratification no one dreamed up such an interpretation. Since (outside of modern poetry or whatnot) the purpose of writing something down is to convey a thought from the author’s mind to the reader’s, the reader is obliged when reading something to try to determine what the author meant, NOT whatever happens to suit the reader’s personally preferred political outcomes.

    The men of the time had a very specific and narrow understanding of what it meant to be an established church. It was and is to be the formally and openly acknowledged and designated official denomination of a government and of the area it governs, such as the Church of England in England, the Lutheran Church in Sweden, the Reformed Church in the Netherlands, the Orthodox Church in Russia, the Catholic Church in Bavaria, etc. Usually the specific denomination is the only one allowed to perform government ceremonies, especially the installation of a new head of state (and thus has a check on the government by providing it with perceived legitimacy). Often high government officials must be of the denomination (to this day the British Monarch must be Anglican) and denomination officials even legislate (the “Lords Spiritual”, that is, bishops, in the House of Lords).

    All that is a far cry from having government policies reflect religious values. Most of the Founding Fathers and the men who fought for liberty and independence had religiously based reasons for doing so. And indeed, from day one, even at the federal level, men in the Founding Era and just afterwards constantly invoked and cited religious motivations for their policy decisions. What’s more, they had chaplains, official prayers, proclamations of prayer and fasting, religious holidays, etc., with no perceived need for a figleaf sneaking them in under the guise that they had become effectively secularized and stripped of religious significance through long custom. Are you going to claim that you know better what the First Amendment means and says than the men who wrote and ratified and enacted it?

    As tempting as it is, do not succumb to the siren song telling you that your personally preferred policies are constitutionally mandatory and that policies you find repellent and harmful are constitutionally forbidden. The facts are otherwise.

    Again, contrary to popular belief, the Constitution is NOT a guarantee of wise, fair, effective, rational policies, and just because something maybe foolish, unfair, ineffective, and irrational does NOT make it unconstitutional, even if it comes from a religious motivation. Especially at the state and/or local level.

  145. 140. Melissa Says:
    September 1st, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    I have never … judged anyone!
    ____________

    Not counting three sentences ago when you said “aparently I am outclassed here by degrees and people that cannot understand sarcasm (kuhnigget).” I guess that judgement didn’t count, right?

  146. @ Carney:

    Your argument is the standard “original intent” line, which is far from universally accepted.

    Unless we have written documentation of their thoughts, we have no way of knowing for sure what anyone’s intent was when they drafted the Constitution. Therefore, we have only the words in the document itself, which, throughout our history, have been interpreted and reinterpreted according to the needs of the times.

    Be that as it may, thanks for the intelligent comment. Unless…it wasn’t “sarcasm,” was it? :)

  147. Carney

    kuhnigget, there’s plenty of “written documentation of their thoughts”, such as the debates over the ratification of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, the Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers, their correspondence, and more. No honest historian can pretend that the Founding Fathers meant to impose a zealously strict, ACLU style secularism on the federal government, let alone the states.

    (Again, I emphasize that whether that would be a good idea is an entirely separate debate.)

    I also submit that trying to determine the original intent of a law is the only intellectually honest way of reading it, and the only way for a free people to engage in self-government rather than have its considered and enacted policy choices “interpreted” away later by unelected others. If a statute needs to change later, the people and their elected representatives can and should change its text. If the meaning of the Constitution needs to change with the times, a legitimate mechanism to do that exists: the amendment process. The right to vote of women and 18 year olds wasn’t dreamed up by twisting the equal protection clause to mean something other than what the original authors meant, even though by the time in question that’s what society took equal protection to mean. Instead, proponents actually did it the right way, did the hard work of persuading their fellow citizens and passing the amendments.

    But I think in our increasingly fast paced society we have lost the attention spans and persistence necessary to do that, and prefer illegitimate shortcuts.

  148. 145. Carney Says:
    September 1st, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    However, some quick points about the Constitution. Contrary to popular belief (especially among those who accept the reality of evolution), the First Amendment does NOT require that government decisions not be influenced by religious tenets or values, let alone require a strict secularism in all government actions.
    ____________

    Nobody is arguing that it does. A government composed of people with individual beliefs – religious or not – will inevitably make decisions that are influenced by those beliefs. Including the framers of the Constitution, who came to Philadelphia with their own individual beliefs.

    And while we can’t presume to know their intent when they wrote the document, we can occasionally peek at it when we read their other written works, such as Thomas Jefferson’s 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptist Association:

    Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man & his god, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state. Congress thus inhibited from acts respecting religion, and the Executive authorised only to execute their acts, I have refrained from presenting even occasional performances of devotion presented indeed legally where an Executive is the legal head of a national church, but subject here, as religious exercises only to the voluntary regulations and discipline of each respective sect. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.

    It is this correspondence from which we derive the concept of “separation of church and state.” As I interpret it, this doctrine doesn’t mean that church and state must pretend the other doesn’t exist, or should never have anything to do with each other. It is a caution against the two becoming too close, as they were in England at the time. When church and state march in lockstep, each using each other’s power to further their own agendas, it is a recipe for corruption.

  149. 148. Carney Says:
    September 1st, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    No honest historian can pretend that the Founding Fathers meant to impose a zealously strict, ACLU style secularism on the federal government, let alone the states.
    ___________

    What, exactly, is a “zealously strict, ACLU-style secularism?” The ACLU has on many occasions argued FOR individual religious rights, including the religious rights of Christians.

    If your argument is that the Founding Fathers did not intend for the United States to be an areligious state devoid of all recognition of matters of faith, then you are correct, and I heartily congratulate you on your defeat of your own straw man.

    If, on the other hand, your argument is that the Founding Fathers did not intend for the United States to be secular in the multi-religious sense, and instead intended it to be a Christian nation, I point you to the Treaty of Tripoli:

    As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

  150. @ Carney:

    No honest historian can pretend that the Founding Fathers meant to impose a zealously strict, ACLU style secularism on the federal government, let alone the states.

    I would disagree with that. As toasterhead has very quickly dug up, there are ample examples of the exact mindset of the founding fathers, the vast majority of whom were deists and not keen on any organized religion. That’s why Jefferson used the phrase, “their creator” when writing the Declaration of Independence. He didn’t say God, or god, or Yahweh, or anything else. Creator could be Nature, or mother and father.

    That being said, it’s also true that the founders of the u.s. were incredibly tolerant of others’ expression of religious faith, which gave rise to the various prayers, chaplains, etc. that you mention. But note, these are not mandated by law, but rather tradition.

    The same cannot be said for what the creationists are trying to do. They want the law to install their religion into the schools. That is hardly in keeping with the founding father’s original intent.

  151. “There are many areas of science that support the theory of creation as well as the theory of evolut…” CRACKTHUD! Chachink.

    It is not only annoying, annoying I can handle… I may even be able to handle stupid… but this is blatant. They seem to believe that if they blur the boundaries enough the governments will strike science from curriculum altogether. Then eventually you’ll have one nation under ignorance.

    @toasterhead:
    Thanks for the references! ;)

  152. Summary of responses:
    118. Nigel Depledge Says:

    What’s anti-religious about a thought experiment?

    Two things:
    thought
    experiment (oe noe, evel athiist skientists!)

    124. Daffy Says:

    Telling these knotheads that you would also have to be neutral on other religious viewpoints misses the point.

    a favorite cartoon: members(dot)cox(dot)net/johnparadox/horsey.jpg

    126. Melissa Says:

    Yes – I said creation science! There are many museums that focus on creation internationally.

    Just don’t try it in Pensacola, FL [Kent Hovind]
    www(dot)ethiopianreview(dot).com/articles/21477

    130. Melissa Says:
    why we allow divirce in the church

    WHICH church… Roman Catholicism still requires ‘annulment’ ( a friend of mine spend a lot of time getting his first marriage ‘annuled’)

    J/P=?

  153. Dale Downs

    I grew up in this area. Brad Pollitt was even the principal of my school in Smithton for a short time when I went there. These people live in a creationist bubble. Smithton blacked out evolution from their textbooks. I went to college in the real world. I feel like 13 years of education (k-12) all at Smithton were completely wasted. I hope for a better America one day. We need to educate our children.

  154. I’ve seen portrayals of the entire troupe turned around, with upright man transforming self into slime-emerging beast. Evolution of the traditional school system, I think it was supposed to represent.

  155. Is it possible that the protesters used the “religion card” to guarantee the recall of these shirts because they thought that the “hideously ugly t-shirt design card” wouldn’t be taken seriously?

  156. 156. Christopher:
    We do not have evidence of that. We do have clear evidence that it was religiously motivated.

  157. Darth Robo

    >>>”I expect those shirts will be incinerated, no matter what the cost, to do otherwise would be seen to violate the school’s neutrality policy on religion, as by selling them they will be seen to endorse evolution, which they see as a religion.”

    YEAH, stay neutral, and BURN those T-shirts!!!

    :p

  158. Buzz Parsec

    IVAN3MAN,

    I haven’t read all the comments yet…

    I was raised Catholic, though I haven’t been to church in years, except for a few weddings, funerals and a couple of Christmases and Easters… but when I was still a Catholic back in the early 1970′s, one sunday the priest in his sermon quoted all or almost all of “Imagine” quite approvingly. He didn’t think the world would be better without religion, but that it was important to think about these things, and that the Church should be able to justify itself in the face of Lennon’s objections, and not just ignore them, especially since they were based on truly christian priniciples of respect for other people, life, love and peace. I was quite surprised by the sermon, did think about them, and I guess that’s why I’m not religious anymore :-)

    Something I haven’t seen much mention of is why people cling to silly notions such as creationism. I don’t think in most cases it has anything to do with deep-seated religious revelation and such, but rather it is for the social comfort provided by belonging to a group. In the US at least, where many people feel socially isolated (after all, most of our ancestors came here to get away from their old social structure, so now they’re alone…) churches, especially small rural churches, provide a group for them to belong to. I wish they’d join bowling leagues or something…

  159. 159. @Buzz Parsec:
    The USA and Canada have been around for long enough that this same comfort and feeling of belonging is just as available here as overseas. Many generations have come and gone. I feel I belong exactly where I am, and I have no feeling of being lonely with or without a God figure. I do not think that belonging is as much the desire as it is control. However, it is nice to see that you are trying to see something more than the rest of us. I have to admit that I have tried to understand something positive in the mindset it takes to desire the destruction of all that is not christian, but I have met mostly failure in that endeavor.

    Burning t-shirts just because it has some scientific symbolism on them ranks right up there with book burning, and I say we all fight back by making more t-shirts with the same symbols in memory of the tragedy that has become the American education system. What are they going to do? Sue us all for copyright infringement? They can’t as they have disowned the same symbols. To make a case they would have to embrace it.

  160. @ Buzz Parsec & Roen:

    I think you both are correct, but also missing a bit.

    Based solely on my own anecdotal experience (so, appropriate caveats), I think one reason why the fundies cling to their beliefs is that it’s simply so much easier to do so.

    Like it or not, this country has a very schizophrenic attitude toward science and technology. On the one hand, we love our toys and our TVs and our big ol’ weapons and such, but on the other hand a lot of people have a huge mistrust of “eggheads” or pretty much anyone who exhibits a proficiency at brainy activities. There’s a reason all those science nerd stereotypes exist…they are propagated over and over again in high schools all across the U.S.

    If you’re americans, do the following thought experiment: Imagine all the former students you recall who thought math and chemistry and biology was too hard or irrelevant. Place them on one end of a balance scale. Now try to remember all the students who really loved science classes, excelled at them, thought they were the best thing in school. Place them on the other end of the scale. I’m willing to bet that scale tilts way, way toward the non-science students.

    Fundies represent the very extreme versions of those students on the lower end of the scale. To them, science isn’t just hard, it’s pointless. They can get the same answers as those nerds doing their experiments and making observations simply by opening a single book and plopping their fingers down on a line of text. There’s no ambiguity, not need for independent thought or hard work, no need to step outside the boundaries of the safe and secure. In their minds, they get to the same place with no effort whatsoever.

    The question that puzzles me the most, however, is why they are so adamant on pushing their crap on everyone else. Why aren’t they content to keep it to themselves? Are they embarrassed because science seems so productive and successful? Are they threatened because old traditions are exposed as incorrect? Or, what I think might be closest to the truth, do they simply need to get everyone else down to their level in order to preserve their status as know-it-alls, people who have the answers, answers that are just as good as the ones that nasty ol’ science provides?

  161. @kuhnigget:
    There are as many aspects to this drama as there are people. We take pride in science and they take pride in their religion. We trust science because it does answer our questions so effectively. They trust their religion because it is safe and cozy. No one will ever know all the reasons, not even them.

    Maybe it is fear of the loss of that comfy place where God resides, in this respect I can agree with you. Maybe they’re scared to death of the prospect of no afterlife. Some of us were able to cast off that yolk, for others it is not so easy. I can understand their fear, I used to feel it. I can understand their need, I used to need it also. I just do not understand why they feel we have to be forced back into those same chains that they cannot get free of… that they do not want to be free of.

    I wish they could feel as I do. No fear. The wonder of nature, of the universe simply as it is, is liberating without the need for something outside of it. But I would not force that upon them if they do not wish it. I only wish everyone was given the choice.

  162. @ Roen:

    But I would not force that upon them if they do not wish it.

    Yup. And that’s all I ask of them.

  163. Nigel Depledge

    Sticks (109) said:

    To those saying they would like to buy the shirts off of ebay – it ain’t gonna happen, it would be political suicide not to have them all incinerated. Evolution has also become a matter of politcs as well as religion from what we see over here across the pond.

    Erm, I think you meant “politics as well as science“, since evolution simply isn’t a matter of religion.

    As for Evolution not being a religion, I am reminded of that notorious article in the May 1980 edition of Physics Bulletin by H S Lipson who branded evolution as a “Scientific Religion”

    Presumably HS Lipson was a physicist. If so, that hardly makes him / her an authority on biology.

    With comments like that, not coming from taditional creationist communities, one can also see how they can use that to have evolution shunted into the realm of religion.

    Although, to be fair, if the only record of a scientist calling evolution a religion comes from as far back as 1980, there are far bigger fish to fry.

  164. Nigel Depledge

    Melissa (121) said:

    Wow, I have only scanned the comments here and I am appalled on all sides. I am a Christian that loves science. I don’t even know of any Christians that say science is a religion or wrong. If you really research you will find that evolution and creation go hand in hand and neither one have been proven or disproven. It seems to me that most of the people here study only one side and try to say they are enlightened.

    Where have you been living for the last 10 years?

    Google “Kitzmiller v Dover” and see how hand-in-hand evolution and creation go.

    You make one claim that I take issue with: that neither evolution nor creation have been proven or disproven.

    Of course, it depends on your definition of terms, but if you use the usual definitions, you are wrong.

    Evolution is a fact. Populations of biological entities change over time. THe mechanisms by which this change occurs are still open to some debate, but all informed parties agree that Natural Selection is probably the most important mechanism for evolutionary change. There are several others (e.g. hybridisation, genetic drift).

    Creation, OTOH, has been disproven (assuming that by this word you mean that all organisms were created separately). Common descent has been proven beyond reasonable doubt. All modern life forms arose from one or a very few distant ancestors (the “root” of the “tree of life” is obscured by promiscuous horizontal gene transfer among the earliest organisms).

    I must admit that most of what I know about creationism comes from 2 sources: distant memories from Sunday school, and reading around the creationist attacks on evolutionary science. However, the arguments that creationists use against evolution are all very very poor (and that’s being generous, because many of them simply make stuff up).

    Most Christians, and other religios people have lived secular lives and find it does not work for them. Many secular people have lived religious lives and feel that it does not work for them.
    What I find is that for a secular society that is always screaming about tolerance and coexist – they are very intolerant.

    OK, so tell me – how many times has a biology professor come into your church and started telling everyone they’ve got it all wrong?

    Scientists are extremely tolerant of religion. What they do not tolerate is the attacks of intolerant Christian fundamentalists on good science. Evolutionary theory is arguably the most significant scientific discovery of all time.

    It is the (mostly) Christian fundamentalists who are trying to re-write biology textbooks to exclude evolution. And you and your moderate religious cohorts are standing by and letting them do it. I have yet to see or read about a creationist being taken to task by moderate religious people, except where those people also happen to be scientists.

    Why are there no moderate religious people laughing and pointing at the parents who demanded the band not wear their T-shirts?

    However, I think the band t-shirts were very harmless

    Just as an aside, here: “harmless” is an all-or-nothing term. You don’t have degrees of harmlessness. What can you possibly mean by “very” harmless?

    and that thy should have been left alone.

    Agreed.

    As a previous high school band member I can truly relate to the evolution of the brass section and find it humerous. In other words – people of all beliefs/non-beliefs – get over yourselves! Why do you think that you are going to change somones views on a blog?

    You’d be surprised how often this question comes up.

    It’s simply to equip uninformed bystanders with the arguments needed to refute any anti-science that they might happen upon in their everyday lives.

    Go do some community volunteer work and make a real difference.

    What do you mean, “real” difference?

    Do you think protecting the education of children in public schools is not a worthy goal?

  165. 164. @Nigel Depledge:
    “Presumably HS Lipson was a physicist. If so, that hardly makes him / her an authority on biology.”

    Does this mean that because I am not an authority on astronomy I cannot take part in Citizen Sky? One does not need to be an authority to have a good idea or to advance science.

    “Although, to be fair, if the only record of a scientist calling evolution a religion comes from as far back as 1980, there are far bigger fish to fry.”

    Once we accept one part of science included as a religion, then that would set a legal precedent. It would not be long after that science would be removed entirely from the schools. This has become the big fish.

  166. @ Roen & Nigel Depledge:

    Roen reiterated: Once we accept one part of science included as a religion, then that would set a legal precedent. It would not be long after that science would be removed entirely from the schools. This has become the big fish.

    Indeed. This is the key issue. And the fundies have precedent for the efficacy of their tactics.

    Note the neocon success at propagating lies, simply by repeating them loudly and often. It is a tactic they have used over and over again. They used it to undermine the Clinton presidency, to spread the “truth” that democrats are soft on defense, that Iraq was involved in the 9/11 attacks, and now that government sponsored health care (apart from their cherished medicare, of course) is somehow a policy of the Nazis.

    Give them one credit — the fundies learned their lesson. They cannot win by challenging the evidence, so they will try to redefine the very nature of science, thus doing an end run around the legal arguments and opening the door for “fair and balanced” creationist education.

  167. lcdlover

    Religion is mental illness. At best, religious thoughts and beliefs are a defect in thinking (irrationality). Further along the spectrum are repetitive, obsessive religious ideation, culminating in many cases in full-blown psychosis, or even violent religion-related mania (think Islamic terrorists). There is a difference between ignorance – not knowing the facts – and denial – due to “faith”, which is a sickness. Normal people deep-down don’t believe all that crap despite their protestations. Those that do suffer from delusions. Sorry but that’s it. Why would someone come to an astronomy or physics web-site and deny evolution, or put it in a namby-pamby way equal to creationism? To confront the heathen non-believers and give herself a pat on the back? To me such a person isn’t brave, she’s terribly sick. It makes me angry that there are whole communities in America that deny rationality, foisting their disease on their children.

    Anyway great blog and good discussion.

  168. @Phil:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/04/us/04school.html

    We’re losing another battle. *Sigh* I personally would like to know what the problem is with staying in school myself, but whatever.

  169. Darth Robo

    Education is an evil socialist political agenda!!!

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