When a biologist teaches creationism

By Phil Plait | May 27, 2010 8:00 am

[This post has been updated at the bottom.]

A while back, a young blogger named Jaden wrote about his college biology teacher who used the opportunity of his class to teach creationism and abstinence:

He started off his discussion by saying that there are two ideas (not theories, but ideas) of how life became how it is on Earth. He closed the classroom’s door. Once the door was closed, he glossed over the scientific explanation very quickly (less than 20 seconds), then explained Creationism for about five minutes (5000 year old Earth, no evolution, etc). He then said that accepted scientific thought is the first, and that’s what the school wants him to teach, “…but we all know which one is right.” WHOA! [...] After he finished his Creationism lecture, he opened the classroom door again.

Yegads. That post was from April 23. Now that classes are over and grades finalized, on May 21 Jaden gave details. He did what I would’ve: approached the Dean of Science and told her the biology teacher was a crackpot.

What happened?

[The Dean] acted like I was being unreasonable. She said two things that really sit poorly with me. She told me that he is completely entitled to share his opinions in class. Then, she said eluded to the fact that I’m being intolerant of his beliefs and need to show more respect for him.

Ha!

First, this is not public high school, so the teacher can, if he so pleases, teach that Thor created the Universe by cracking an ostrich egg in two and then dancing around nude on one foot while swinging a lawn mower blade around his head (being careful not to nick his winged helm, of course). He can do that, but should he do that there should be repercussions. Just as there should be if he teaches creationism, a provably wrong idea that goes counter to everything a science class represents.

But clearly the Dean disagrees. Here’s what Jaden learned:

What I took away from this meeting with Dr. Williams was that my school didn’t care about science content in its science classes.

He’s right.

[UPDATE: At this point in the original post, I wrote that the accreditation of this college should be investigated. That was really unfair of me, and I apologize for saying it. I wrote that as a note to myself at first, and didn't mean to leave it in as stated, but somehow that's what happened. It's unfair; any college can get one or two people teaching who sneak in their own brand of nuttiness -- I have stories about this myself -- and calling into question the department and the college itself was unnecessary. I still think the teacher was totally wrong, and the Dean shouldn't have reacted as she did... but then, clearly sometimes reactions are hard to judge before they happen.]

MORE ABOUT: creationism

Comments (155)

  1. IVAN3MAN AT LARGE

    I would like to present this award to that biology teacher:

    Horse's Ass Award

    :cool:

  2. Coscro

    I think you are the one who is little insane here. If he taught the material and the students received the adequate instruction to continue there course of study where is the issue. He obviously had strong convictions he had to state up front. And I love to see a future post with evidence of creationism being ” a provably wrong idea that goes counter to everything a science class represents.” You know I came to your blog originally when the Moon Hoax was the main attraction. I found it very educational. Lately, you’ve nothing more than a running diatribe of your own political/social beliefs. Please stick the science and stop lecturing your readers on what you think about other peoples personal opinions.

  3. Pi-needles

    the teacher can, if he so pleases, teach that Thor created the Universe by cracking an ostrich egg in two and then dancing around nude on one foot while swinging a lawn mower blade around his head (being careful not to nick his winged helm, of course).

    Somehow if they’re going teach replace science with mythology in science class, I’d rather that they did teach that Thor swirling a lawnmower blade standing naked on one leg to crack an ostrich egg to create the cosmos one than the familiar old Sumerian legend from the Bible – I dunno it’s just that bit more entertaining! ;-)

    Yikes. You may want to brush upon your understanding of Norse mythology BA. ;-)

    Seriously though, what a sad and troubling case. Good on ya Jaden & here’s hoping getting it reported globally here means the school in question will be embarrassed and spot-lit into taking action.

    [That lady in The Simpsons voice] Will nobody think of the children! [/That lady in The Simpsons voice]

    How long ago was the Scopes trial?

    Actually how long ago was the Dover ID /Creationism one?

    How far have(‘nt) we really come?

  4. Matt

    I work at a university in the US. Unfortunately the accreditation process is kind of a joke. It’s broadly announced and involved major initiatives across the university to prepare for it.

    They start with a “self study” that is usually thousands of pages of documentation, even for small schools. Accreditors rely on this self study to be honest and use it as a basis for their site site visit which can be anywhere from a week to a couple of months depending on the size and scope of the institution.

    They will audit paperwork, interview employees and teachers and students, attend classes, etc…but they’re extremely, extremely unlikely to find any actual malfeasance of this nature because the faculty know when their classes are being audited by an accreditor, so they won’t spew nonsense that day.

    Maybe a student will rat them out, but they take a very small straw poll of students to interview, so they may or may not interview a student who had a class with a crackpot professor.

    Here’s the really terrible part of the university system in this country: universities are scared to death of their professors.

    It’s true. I see it every day. Faculty have an incredible amount of power. Not as individuals, but as a body. This guy probably has tenure, so the university can’t really touch him for the content of his class, and he’s probably got a dozen professor buddies on university committees that will take greivous offense to any infraction of “academic freedom”. They can be small, petty and vengeful, and will often retaliate to the fullest extent possible.

    Now I’m generalizing here, and I am actually in favor of academic freedom, but there is, in every university I’ve interacted with, a small percentage of the faculty that behave in this way and go on major power trips. And it always seems to be the crackpots that end up in these positions.

  5. Richard Wolford

    Somewhat on-topic, a friend of mine is finishing his doctoral in music at WVU. He had a professor who “taught” music theory, in that he put forward his own theory that was not accepted by anyone else in the field, had no real rhyme or reason to it, and he couldn’t defend any of his conclusions (no methodology at all). So my friend and the other students complained and the department responded by revoking his teaching privileges (he has tenure so can’t be fired), at least on the doctoral level. Not too shabby I guess.

  6. MoonShark

    At the very, very least, this university needs a disclaimer like Lehigh U. makes Michael Behe post.

    BTW, the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District case was decided Dec. 20, 2005. Unfortunately it only applies to public schools in Pennsylvania, but it did set good legal precedent. (Also, I totally recommend the NOVA documentary, Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial for an overview)

  7. Daffy

    I had a similar experience with an astronomy teacher who taught a very unorthodox theory of solar system formation. The years have proven him wrong, but at least what he taught was science based! He wasn’t teaching mythology…a very crucial difference, I think.

    Btw, as a musician, I would be very interested in that variation on musical theory.

  8. Private is private. No investigation warranted or needed. This all changes if there is even a cent of public money, obviously.

    As for comments about science in OK, they probably have the best weather scientists and professors in the country in the state there, as anyone from Tornado Alley knows. So YMMV when it comes to the kind of science and the respect it gets there.

  9. Adam

    There is only one way to deal with a teacher like this, public ridicule and condescension.

  10. MoonShark

    Being private doesn’t make it okay to bait & switch. Students take the class expecting a biology education, and instead they get a crackpot fairy tale with no scientific basis whatsoever? I’d demand my money back.

  11. Pi-needles

    I think the pastafarians need to crash that school and enforce equal time for teaching the Flying Sphaghetti Monster creation theory too! ;-)

    @MoonShark – hell yes! If you label a course as science then you teach science. Or its false advertising if nothing else.

  12. Narvi

    @Adam: “There is only one way to deal with a teacher like this”

    Yes. More cowbell.

  13. Jeffersonian

    The thing is, this happened in science class so it has to stand up to, you know, science. It gave the students a big dis-service and you gotta figure it confused/mis-educated someone in the class when it comes to logic and the scientific method. (Are college kids still stubborn and rebellious? Or will it cause those misled to abandon logic/evidence and start voting republican?). Forget the dean, Jaden. Go to the dept. head. or whatever you have that’s around the dean.

    I stood up to profs like this. “what is your methodology? Where is the scientific proof”? It caused a poor grade once but I was able to defend myself to the dpt. head and got the grade restored by bringing in the documentation (which took all of five minutes in the library across the quad).

  14. Timmy

    If a biology teacher has the “opinion” that creationism is correct, what other interesting opinions does he have about the FIELD THAT HE HAS STUDIED FOR YEARS AND GOT HIS FREAKING PHD IN?!!?

    Sometimes I can’t help but think that parts of the Bible are just fables meant to teach us some sort of moral lesson.

    Don’t tell Texas.

  15. MoonShark

    Actually, this is a public community college. Here is their mission statement, educational philosophy, values, etc. I don’t see room for well-discredited creationism there. I’d call it a big violation of scientific integrity and accountability.

    Also, the college’s Wikipedia page

  16. Joe

    OUTRAGE! A five minute discussion on creationism definitely warrants contacting the national accrediting institution. I don’t know why Jaden hasn’t started contacting alumni donors as well. There’s absolutely no way the teacher could have any value to the University with such beliefs. Certainly no great biologist has ever proselytized outrageous, incorrect beliefs; perhaps we could replace this professor with James Watson or Kary Mullis.

  17. Anonymous

    Well, I can confidently say I understand that, I really do. If you think a Biology teacher sharing his creationism view amazing, try wrapping your mind around a Computer Networking teacher doing that same thing. Being religious is one thing, slipping galaxy creation in network class is just creative (I don’t remember the details, but it happened, that’s the last time I attended her class).

  18. What’s terrible is that he used a bunch of young people to get on his harebrained soapbox in front of. How many community college students are willing to go head-to-head with their professor – who ultimately wields the gradebook and red pen – even if they do oppose their teachings? If I remember college correctly, most students do not want to be singled out in class as a dissenter, even by a fool of a teacher.

    If this guy had been in front of a roomful of his scientific peers, I wonder if he’d have been so vocally confident about “what we all know is right”.

  19. The Other David M.

    I’ve spent years teaching at community colleges, here’s what I think is going on. The professor is most likely an adjunct with no real job security. If the Dean decides that the prof has to go, she can choose to simply not re-hire (OK is not a place where unions thrive, I suspect management will hold all the cards). She can do this in a way with few road bumps (blow off student who comes to see her, then not re-hire) or douse herself in gasoline and hand out matches (actively fire prof for holding beliefs common in local region, setting herself up for a controversy where even though she is right, it will drain sorely needed resources).

    First rule in college politics – there’s far more going on behind the curtain than you think.

  20. Adam English

    Did that teacher have the proper credentials to teach in the first place?

  21. Herman Cummings

    Both sides (especially creationism) should both SHUP UP and learn what the true interpretation of Genesis chapter one is. There is no “creation account” in Genesis, and neither does Genesis advocate creation to be 10,000 years or less. Both “young Earth” and “old Earth” creationism misrepresent the Genesis text. The correct rendition of scripture is the PowerPoint presentation of the “Observations of Moses”.

    The ones at fault are the ones that claim to believe the Bible, but are really hypocrites!! They don’t want to listen to anything that is contrary to their own beliefs. God is not the author of confusion, and His written word is true. Pastors, priests, and rabbis (especially the Sanhedrin in Israel) want to protect their ignorance of scripture, and won’t allow the truth to be given to the people.

    So let me make this clear. The current doctrines of both young and old earth ARE A LIE!! The Big Bang and evolution theories are a lie. I urge all around the world to stop such foolishness and examine the truth of Genesis, which is available to those that will view it.

    Herman Cummings
    Ephraim7@aol.com

  22. Adam said:

    There is only one way to deal with a teacher like this, public ridicule and condescension.

    I would add a sustained bombardment of tarballs, or barring that, a quick dip in the Gulf of Mexico.

  23. Thirteenfingers

    You know, I believe in god, I also believe that evolution happened. This is a very confusing place for me to be, kind of torn in between the two. Science can be proven, faith can’t, but it is still an important part of my life. I believe we should teach both in schools, tell people the actual truth and facts behind each argument, and let them decide what they want to believe. That being said, the whole “young Earth theroy” is ridiculous, and that teacher probably shouldn’t be teaching…

  24. Brian Monson

    He’s a DVM, not a PhD in biology. He seems to also teach at MidAmerica Christian University and their faculty roster shows him with a DVM. http://www.macu.edu/undergraduate/academics/…/catalog_4_directory.pdf

    I did some some adjunct teaching for an Oklahoma community college once and the requirements are a Masters’ degree in anything and 18 hours in the field of the class. So technically he’s overqualified.

  25. Adam English

    Thirteenfingers, the issue with teaching “both sides” is: where do you stop? One student believes very strongly on one religion, another has faith in a different one. Science can be proven, no form of religion can; as you said they are faith-based.

    People are entitled to their opinions and ideas, just not when students like me are paying $700 to $1000 per class and trying to get a higher education.

  26. My question for the professor: “Is this a science class in a university or a sermon in a church?”

  27. The best answer is to change schools. This one is no good. And the more people who change for that particular reason, the more likely that the school will have to modify itself to meet standards.

    I would leave, in a loud way. Make a stink on Blog, protests, open letters and the like. In each one I would invite others to join me in changing to XYZ school.

    This is of course harder to do in a rural area, where the choices of community colleges (or any local college) are very limited.

  28. Thirteenfingers said:

    I believe we should teach both in schools,

    “Faith” is not science. Period. It has no place in a science classroom, science textbook, nor any other part of a science curriculum unless it is the science of anthropology, sociology, or some other study of human behavior.

    I am so in favor of dropping this whole “can’t say anything contrary to someone’s faith” nonsense.

    Besides, it’s not really “both” sides, is it? If you start introducing religious creationism into the mix, you have to include ALL the religious creation myths. But that’s not really what you want, is it? You want YOUR creation myth to be taught. Why not be honest about that, at least?

  29. Vaccination Dalek

    My biology teacher in the 9th grade was too much of a coward to mention more than a basic bit of information about evolution. She was perhaps afraid all the North Carolinian parents would jump down her throat. I had to learn about evolution from books I read myself later, and then in more college. Its sad, because most science classes really don’t cater to young earth creationists, since they are upfront about the age of the earth, plate tectonics, dinosaurs, and what not. Its only that last little bit, that we evolved from other apes, that is so hard for people to accept and not double speak their way through. I’m tired of it.
    Science class cannot cater to the preference of every philosophy! Science class is not about being nice and respectful to every bit of BS from thousands of years ago!

    Inoculate!

  30. MoonShark

    FWIW Jaden’s blog says he is changing schools in 2 semesters, to find somewhere that gives more than lip service to science.

  31. Not Amused

    It definitely makes me want to think twice before hiring a “graduate” from Kansas or Texas anymore – I mean, what good is a technician trained to accept unproven results on the basis of faith or personal bias?

  32. Gary Ansorge

    18. Thirteenfingers

    What part of evidence don’t you understand? What we WANT to believe is mostly fantasy. I WISH I could just flap my arms and fly. Unfortunately, reality requires adherence to consistent laws. So I have to buy a plane ticket,,,

    God is an undefined term, so “believing” in it is the exact same thing as “believing” in noise. People will “believe” whatever they want, which works fine, until you try flying off a mountain,,,remember, gravity always sucks. It never blows. There is no evidence that God made a universe inconsistent with rigorous laws. If you want to believe in a God, learn the laws which govern its universe. Then, if there is a god, you may discern some insight into its mind.

    Remember, the speed of light isn’t a suggestion, it’s a LAW.

    Gary 7

  33. Wow. Didn’t expect to see this on here :)

    A few extra points, for those interested: At the same school and same semester, I had two other biology professors that wouldn’t honor my disability accommodations. He was my third teacher for this class.

    I really don’t want to fight this much, myself. I have autism, first off. It’s not in me to put up any real kind of fight because I couldn’t handle the stress. Also, I can’t risk my grades. I’m about to transfer to a real science school to work on a PhD. I need to keep my 4.0 to make sure that offer still exists.

  34. SleepNeed

    If this is a private university, then there is really nothing that can be done sadly. I attended a private college last year, our “psychology” professor (note: just if it’s not clear, I’m complaining about the professor, not psychology itself) once had us lie down on the quad while she played a drum over our heads to “channel the spirt guides to our innermost selves”, I wish I had a refund for those credit hours that didn’t even transfer to the public university I now attend.

  35. Gary Ansorge

    Woo to the right of us and
    woo-woo to the left.

    How glad I am to be trained
    in the rules of evidence.

    It keeps me centered.

    Gary 7

  36. 25. Not Amused-

    This is a school in Oklahoma. Also, there are good schools in those states. The one I’m moving to attend is in one of them, and it’s considered one of the best in the country for my major.

  37. Thirteenfingers

    Gary- I never said I didn’t trust science, all I said is that I also happen to believe in a higher power. It’s my faith that makes me try to be a better person. I’m not saying that I believe that Adam and Eve fell from the sky and started humanity, but I do think that something had to have started it all. Call it God or Allah or whatever you want. I’m not stating a fact, just a personal opinion. Without my faith, it would be just as easy for me to blow everything off and be wild and party the rest of my life. It kind of gives me something to look forward to, that all the years of trying to be helpful and good to people don’t just end up with me rotting in the ground.

    Remember, new evidence points to the speed of light not being eternally constant. I’ve seen that reported several places, but I honestly can’t remember where. Shouldn’t be hard to find.

  38. Phil, you forgot to mention the name of the school. This happened at Oklahoma City Community College.

    Also, Timmy @ #12, we don’t know if the professor has a PhD or not – Jaden gives the name of the professor, but his name (Mike Talkington) does not appear on the OCCC.edu’s biology department list of full time faculty (http://www.occc.edu/biology/Documents/faculty.htm). If he’s not full time, then he might be an adjunct, which means he might only have an MS degree.

    While trying to figure out what position Professor Talkington holds at OCCC, I found his ratemyprofessors.com profile: http://www.ratemyprofessors.com/ShowRatings.jsp?tid=439198. He gets a 5 out of 5, with a 4.4 for “easiness.” Typical comments include: “the best professor I have ever had. He makes it as easy as possible, not tricks.” and “This guy is awesome! If you are worried about taking a science, take his class!”

    I weep for the state of American education.

  39. Oh dear. Perhaps Oklahoma was a poor state to move to. :p

    I’m planning on eventually going to graduate school for Religious Studies, and possibly in Oklahoma. I would be scared, but one teacher isn’t enough to make me too worried about the rest of them.

    I do think it’s hilarious that the religion program I attended in NC was much more science based than the biology class at OCCC. Haha.

  40. alfaniner

    Don’t students record lectures any more?

  41. MoonShark

    Thirteenfingers wrote:

    Without my faith, it would be just as easy for me to blow everything off and be wild and party the rest of my life.

    I’m sorry you feel that way. But please don’t take that beyond yourself and mistakenly conflate atheism and immorality. Nearly every atheist I know (quite a few of them) is also a humanist, which gives plenty of good, secular reasons not to live in a way that’s destructive to oneself or society (which is what I think you’re implying by “wild”). See The American Humanist Association for more details. One of their mottos is “good without god”. The FAQ is a great place to start.

  42. The level of denialism to accept creationism is just staggering. I honestly feel that it takes such dissonance and willfully imposed ignornace that the person can’t really function in an technologically advanced society… Not only that, but it makes them a hypocrity for enjoying any medicine beyond leeching…

    Don’t forget: http://factsnotfantasy.com/evolution.php (and there are some good sub-menu items to read there too).

  43. Deno S

    29. Thirteenfingers

    “Remember, new evidence points to the speed of light not being eternally constant. I’ve seen that reported several places, but I honestly can’t remember where. Shouldn’t be hard to find.”

    You’re sorely mistaken there. The speed of light, c, is constant, along with what’s called the fine structure constant, alpha. The ramifications of the speed of light or the fine structure constant not being constant favor creationists because it drastically reduces the age of the universe. However, there’s nothing but smoke and wishful thinking behind that idea.

    If physics were wrong in some deep way, our carefully built-up worldview would shatter. Luckily our worldview has held together extremely well. Note that things like our GPS system work because our physics is an accurate description of the world, without any need for God or Allah or even Thor!

    Faith is an ok thing to have, but I resent the implication of your statement that “Without my faith, it would be just as easy for me to blow everything off and be wild and party the rest of my life.” As an atheist and freethinker, I have the same choices that you do in not partying or blowing everything off – and yet, even though I don’t have a scrap of faith, I’ve managed to get myself through college (all 6 years of it) and into grad school (6 more years!). God has nothing to do with my morality, so put that argument away. It’s a sad thing to think that the only reason some people are ‘decent’ or ‘good’ or ‘charitable’ is that they fear the retribution of an invisible Sky Fairy’s private torture chamber.

  44. Steve Pinkham

    Whoa there. 5000 year old earth is provably wrong. Creation in 5 literal days is provably wrong. Evolution seems to be a sufficient and highly plausible way that life has changed over time. All this is different then saying creationism is “a provably wrong idea that goes counter to everything a science class represents.”

    I agree, it sounds like what this teacher did was stupid, wrong, and harmful. However, we need to be careful in overstating the proof of things we can’t really prove. What you say will be used against you in the court of public opinion.

  45. Dr Jeremy Greenwood

    This just goes on and on, and from here in the UK it looks rather peculiar.
    Is it because it is illegal to teach religion in school in the US? Over here we could have a properly conducted debate between the science teacher and the RE teacher. Though I don’t believe a word of it, Creationist theory hangs together and is highly thought provoking.
    I think one of the problems with science is that scientists can act like theocrats and hand us down theories that the man in the street is unable to follow up on and debate. On the other hand there is a priest in every parish and they are normally very happy to enter into theological debate.
    So what I am saying is, that a debate in school as above might be very helpful in promoting science. But of course I don’t think that would be legal in the USA.
    Personally I believe in God and suspect that He created life along the lines that Darwin and co. suggest. I have had many challenging debates with vicars, but have no outlet to scientists other than this sort of blog, and even then fear that I could be very easily labelled a crank.

  46. Larry

    The two central issues in this incident revolve around creationism. Clearly, creationism isn’t science. Clearly, academic freedom is essential to the health of any college. What do we do when these fundamental truths collide?

    First, as a former prof at the University of Kansas who taught History of the Earth (which focused on the processes and evidence for evolution) I have direct experience with teaching evolution in religiously fundamental schools.

    Many of my students struggled with the accepting the (overwhelming) evidence for evolution I presented in class. But, as Steven J Gould wrote in “Rock of Ages” accepting the truth of evolution does not require disbelieve in God, just that evolution and religion exist in two non-overlapping magesteria of thought. Sure, if you are a fundamentalist who thinks that (both, different) accounts of Genesis are correct, there is no hope, but less literalistic people of faith can happily co-exist. So, in this case at least, perhaps there need be no collision of fundamental truths at all.

    But academic freedom is different: like all other “rights” (speech, firearms) even small transgressions explode into people shouting something like “you can take my syllabus from my cold, dead hands.” Academic freedom is certainly abused, mis-used (see any column by Stanley Fish at the NYT: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2006/11/12/one-more-time-for-a-while/ for a starter) but the benefits far outweigh the costs.

    Think, for example, about how you would devise rules limiting academic freedom in way that didn’t make collegiate education worse. My favorite attempt was when the chair of the geology department at the University of Kansas made a motion to limit teaching to “only what was present in a generally accepted textbook.” His motion was immediately rejected by everyone in the room, many of who noted that it was our research that was quoted in those textbooks! His motion didn’t even receive a second.

    Academic freedom will be abused by many, even if they have to close the door to do it. But it is academic freedom, wielded well, that allows us to do the research that exposes the un-scientific ideas of anti-vaxers, flat-earthers and climate-change deniers.

    Next time your prof does something creationist, exercise your own academic freedom and start asking data-based questions. They’ll retreat in no time.

  47. Anon

    Further to #19… this teacher wasn’t teaching creationism to present two possibilities. He was teaching what he knows to be science, and he was teaching *his personal belief*, most likely citing “God”, “Adam & Eve”, “Jesus” and the like. It’s not only unfair to the students who came to class to learn science, but it’s unfair to any student with religious beliefs that differ from his own. Freedom of speech and freedom of religion? Absolutely. But there is a time and place to discuss Creationism. The time is when you have a semester to devote to covering all religious denominational beliefs. The place is in a religion or theology classroom.

  48. Ken

    I have refused, and will continue to refuse, to give any funds to my alma mater Lehigh University as a long as they continue to employ Behe (despite that rather lame ‘Offiical Disclaimer’ that appears to have been written by Behe). I’ve very strongly told any caller from the university each time they call for donations (yes I do feel a little sorry for the student calling). If school starts seeing their funding dry up from alums and others then they may finally get the message.

  49. KC

    “Without my faith, it would be just as easy for me to blow everything off and be wild and party the rest of my life. It kind of gives me something to look forward to, that all the years of trying to be helpful and good to people don’t just end up with me rotting in the ground.”

    So what you are admitting to us is basically that you are an evil person and that your faith is the only thing that keeps you from blowing up and destroying everything around you, including yourself. Kind of like a human fertilizer bomb. Nice.

    I prefer to think of myself as a human being that has choices. I can choose good things or bad things whether or not there is a heaven or hell or a god is irrelevant. I don’t particularly believe an afterlife, so yes eventually I’ll end up as rotting meat. That doesn’t bother me as I know I will be remembered fondly by the friends and people whose lives I have touched. Life is its own reward. No carrots or sticks are required.

  50. Gary Ansorge

    Sociopaths(as in “I don’t care about anyone but me.”) have a short term advantage but that attitude does nothing to contribute to the long term survival of the species. Which is why our biological tendency is toward group fairness. Even chimps understand the concept of fairness and take umbrage when an individual flouts it. W/o that adhesion to group survival, we wouldn’t be here.

    There is no need to imagine a god to enforce “good” behavior. Humans do an adequate job of ensuring that most individuals receive reinforcement toward “good” behavior and punishment for “bad”. It just makes biological sense.

    Gary 7

  51. @ vaccination dalek:

    Its only that last little bit, that we evolved from other apes

    Errr…actually, we didn’t.

    We evolved alongside other apes, and we share a hominid ancestor, but it it is inaccurate to say we evolved from apes.

  52. MoonShark

    @Kuhnigget: Almost. The very first line for “ape” on Wikipedia:

    An ape is any member of the Hominoidea superfamily of primates, including humans. Due to its ambiguous nature, the term ape has been deemphasized in favor of Hominoidea as a means of describing taxonomic relationships.

    So in that view, obviously our ancestors were apes, because they are in our superfamily.

    Leaving the taxonomic view and taking up a cladistic one, not only are we apes, but also everything in our timeline that preceeded us: shrew-like insectivores, fish, simple worms… all the way back to the earliest single-celled microorganisms. At no time was there a “hard cut”, a transitions where you could say “okay, this DNA has instantaneously stopped being australopithecus and started being H. sapiens”.

    To be correct, what you need to say is that we did not evolve from modern apes. They diverged from our common ancestor millions of years ago and have been reproducing successfully in their own lines ever since. Seems like you get this, but forgot that crucial word.

  53. Mike

    I was raised as a Catholic, and I still think of myself as religious. But I am also an engineer and I have a very logical (and open) mind. Gary7 in 26 summarizes my viewpoint. God may not be a being at all, but there is a higher order to the universe that we do not understand. Science is our way of understanding that higher order. My pet peeve is when either side in the discussion is so closed minded that they do not want to listen. To the religious/creationist nuts, I usually say “so you are saying that God is not smart enough to create a billion year old universe or evolution?” That usually gets them to shut up and listen…maybe even think.

  54. @ Moonshark:

    May I stand here a moment and bask in your glow? Ahhhhh…. 8)

  55. Luanne Graham

    @ vaccination dalek:

    “She was perhaps afraid all the North Carolinian parents would jump down her throat”

    I have been a teacher in NC most of my career and I can honestly say that NC has a very progressive curriculum for teaching evolution. It is an overarching theme taught within all of our life science courses (link for HS bio: http://www.dpi.state.nc.us/curriculum/science/scos/2004/23biology). I have never had a parent jump down my throat. I am supported by my curriculum and the NC Dept. of Public Instruction. I calmly invoke my duty to my state mandated curriculum and nicely tell them to put their child in a private school if they don’t want evolution taught to them.

    In general: Why didn’t Jaden question him in class? Why did the prof close the door…perhaps he’s embarrassed himself by his abject ignorance?

    Finally: Oklahoma? That explains everything.

  56. The Panic Man

    Gary @#28 and Mike @#40, you aren’t perfect because you’re “in the center”. Being a mushy, spineless fence-sitter doesn’t make you superior – it makes you a coward.
    In fact, there isn’t even a fence to sit on when it comes to this issue, so why are you even bringing it up? You’re just looking to score Internet Coolness Points by stating the view that’s most popular with the self-righteous.

    Oh, and don’t bother with any butthurt replies to this – I don’t really care. I’m just sick of people looking to be seen as cool by saying they’re “in the center” and “not a partisan” and other meaningless phrases.

    And yes, that applies to everyone.

  57. @ Mike:

    My pet peeve is when either side in the discussion is so closed minded that they do not want to listen

    I’d be curious to know what, in your experience, the non-relgious/creationist nut side don’t listen to.

    My parents made a half-hearted attempt to raise me Catholic, but it never took. I did, and still do, however, enjoy the symbolism of the Mass. And some nifty music and art has been inspired by it all.

    Pretty much silliness beyond that, though.

  58. Kim

    Religion should not be taught in a science class. It isn’t science. My science teachers never told me religion was wrong or told me which one to follow, it was mentioned because it isn’t relevent to science.
    And as others have asked, how would you decide which religion would be taught? There are so many of them.

  59. Matt

    @kuhniget in #38 Almost but not quite. Hominids evolved from apes. We are hominids. We evolved from apes. However, apes continued to evolve alongside hominids. So it is inaccurate to say that we evolved from any modern ape, which should be obvious to anybody that’s never successfully traveled backwards in time.

  60. RMcbride

    I’d personally want my money back. And I’d cite the crackpot policy and administration that allows that junk.

  61. OtherRob

    I don’t understand how someone can believe in God (whatever God you want to believe in) and not want to truly know this universe he has created. The universe is this incredible, beautiful, awesome place and to deny the truth about it is to deny your God.

  62. Erin F.

    I had a biology teacher in high school who did something similiar. Most of the topics we’d cover in class would take about a week to two weeks to discuss, teach, and move through. He was a pretty good bio teacher. Then we got to evolution. He spent about 3 weeks on the topic, mostly focusing on theories that poked holes in evolution. I don’t remember the details any more, but there wasn’t much science involved. Then we moved on to human bio, and he decided to push his abortion views on us. Then cornered me and another student after class one day (after he’d returned grades on the bug collection, which we’d failed), and told us “Most people who fail the bug collection because of not wanting to kill insects are still pro-choice. What are your feelings?”

    This teacher was also the faculty sponsor for the Christian Club. Conflict of interest? Nooooo…..

    Yeah, hated that class. Told my parents afterwards, and my Dad was furious. He wanted to go to the principal to complain, but I was a freshman, and Mom and I didn’t want to make a fuss. I wish today we had.

  63. “First, this is not public high school, so the teacher can, if he so pleases, teach that Thor created the Universe by cracking an ostrich egg in two and then dancing around nude on one foot while swinging a lawn mower blade around his head (being careful not to nick his winged helm, of course). ”

    This is exactly the way I believe it happened, too. Only you left out the part where Thor farts lightning bolts out of his butt to create the first man and woman, Helga and Ole.

  64. Mike O

    Were they tested on the material? If it was an essay I would like to read some of them. The good students will make the most of it.

  65. DJCinSB

    “He closed the classroom’s door.”

    That says it all right there. Didn’t want anyone to see him deceive his students.

  66. Tom

    That school doesn’t deserve a dime more of your tuition or fees..and they need to know why…publicly…. Anytime this happens, the quickest and most effective deterrent is financial. It’s the collection plate that allows them to teach nonsense instead of science… Write the editors of your local paper with your decision as well. The more people know about what’s being taught, the more light that’s shed on that school’s policies. Force them to defend themselves…

  67. Brian Schlosser

    Maybe the lit and comp classes aren’t so good either… the word is “alluded”, not “eluded” :-D that being said, ditto to almost everything above. A professor willfully teaching nonsense in a science class can’t be tolerated. Leave that to us english majors!

  68. Actually, if a nutjob ever demands that creationism be taught in science class, just agree and start reciting the Egyptian version that features the god Atum creating various beings by masturbating them into existence.

  69. MoonShark

    @MichaelL (63): *shock, horror* It is deeply offensive to my fundamentalist Norse Creation-Myth beliefs that you would say Thor deliberately created humans with fart-lightning. The runes are explicit in demonstrating that the gods of the Æsir are incompetent, belligerent jerks, and may Slepnir’s hooves trod upon you if you do not see the error in suggesting otherwise :p

    (on a more serious note, here’s the page for Ask and Embla; i mean, Helga and Ole :D )

  70. @ Matt #59:

    See previous MoonShark reply, and… 8)

  71. Aspasia

    I had an almost identical (maybe worse) experience at my public University this past semester. I took an honors “science” class which was taught by a physicist and the entire premise of the course was why science is not incompatible with religion and how the origin of the universe and of life could only be explained by one thing: an intelligent creator. Our “textbook” was an apologetics book and we were told that we were only being taught about an intelligent designer because that was where ALL of the evidence pointed. We rounded out the semester by discussing how evolution is false and he showed movies like “Expelled” with Ben Stein to support his arguments. He saw himself as the member of an underground movement that was being suppressed by the majority of scientists just because they did not want to admit the only alternative to evolution: an intelligent designer. He strongly advocated for the teaching of intelligent design in schools (shocker) and felt that America’s youth were being corrupted and taught that their lives were meaningless, all because of the teaching of evolution in schools. The course was a terrible assault on my intelligence to say the least.

  72. Herman Cummings

    Those of you that are reading and/or commenting on this article are not paying attention to my earlier comment.

    The creationists which you know or hear of do not understand the Genesis text, and are too stubborn to learn the truth (from the Genesis expert). God was revealing geologic time to Moses, not Creation Week. I advise all who think that they believe Genesis to throw away the junk that they presently believe and teach, and learn the truth of God’s Word.

    Genesis does not say that the universe was created 6,000 years ago. That is foolish misrepresentation of the text. Neither are gap theories, Day/Age, theistic evolution, progressive, framework (or other “old Earth” doctrines which you have heard of) correct. The correct opposing view to evolution, and the correct rendition of Genesis, is the “Observations of Moses”.

    Herman Cummings
    Ephraim7@aol.com

  73. MoonShark

    *peels a banana and tosses one to kuhnigget* — cheers :)

  74. stx

    To be fair while my friend was in Catholic High School the teacher walked in closed the door and then gave the class a lecture on sex education. But then again if you gotta be Catholic you can do much worse than the Jesuits…

  75. For all those asking why I didn’t speak up in class, please read this again: I have autism. I don’t speak out, ever. I handle things differently than others because I don’t have a choice.

  76. I can empathize

    I had a similar but reversed experience this semester in an evolution class at my (public) university. In my instance, the professor railed on religious people (not just religion and not creationism, but religious people) for about the entire first week in place of the usual “misconceptions of evolution” prelude. It included that religious people had a lowered capacity of intelligence than nonreligious people, that if you were a practicing Catholic you were personally guilty of child molestation, and whole host of other smears that eventually led to a huge chunk of the class dropping before any science was ever talked about (I’m not exaggerating – honest!!). Some of my classmates went to the dean, and I suppose the teacher was reprimanded (the dean wasn’t pleased).

    I’m an atheist personally, but I feel about that kind of behavior about like I do the creationism-coddling professor: shut up when you’re in classroom mode and just stick to the damn science. I’m taking evolution class to learn about evolution, not Social Commentary Hour. I don’t learn anything about the field by hearing you rant about bad (or awesome) religious people are.

  77. MoonShark:
    Ah, you must be of a different denomination of Fundie Norse Myth Believers… :)

    My Fundie interpretation is correct, and may Thor “Lightning Fart in your general Direction…” :)

  78. @ Jaden #72:

    Damn vaccines!

    What’s that? Oh, window seat, please!

  79. Anne V

    http://www.ratemyprofessors.com/ShowRatings.jsp?tid=439198&page=1

    It looks like all of the students who rated him so highly are happy because they studied his PowerPoints and got As. None of *those* students are declared science majors. “If you *have* to take biology…”

  80. Art

    I don’t think either of them should be taught, as to avoid 100 people spending company time arguing about things they know nothing about. What does having an opinion on the subject actually accomplish? We are arguing things that are far beyond our control, which literally affect no aspect of our lives. Does believing in evolution or creation make me a better convenient store worker/ditch digger, or even scientist?
    This is a divisive argument, which does little but give us something to beat our chests about.

  81. Every time someone attempts to explain creationist “theories” to me, I just substitute the word “Unicorns” for “God”. It’s a good way to hear exactly how absurd the theories are. It’s also a great way to point out the slippery slope of “teaching both sides.”

    Interestingly enough, due to the fact that scientific principles are testable, you can substitute “Unicorns” for much scientific terminology and it seems to work just fine (a unicorn in motion tends to stay in motion…)

  82. sav

    Something quite similar happened to me years ago when I was in college, except it was in a math class. The TA who was teaching the class was a born-again Christian, and he made that clear to everyone almost every day by wearing his God’s Gym T-shirt. I was able to look past his personal beliefs scrolled on his T-Shirt because he taught math during math class…until the day he didn’t.

    He stopped class and started talking about how abortion was the worst thing in the world, and he said very sexist things that totally alienated every woman in the room. I could see the anger on people’s faces. Then he starts talking about God and how God is the real and only truth that’s out there. Then he says that our assignment is to write a one-page essay about what we think truth is (which is funny since he already told us what he thinks it is). That’s when I got up, told him he was abusing his authority as an instructor, and walked out of the classroom. Many people followed.

    I went to a state university—one that receives public funds. But it doesn’t matter the kind of university you go to. I encourage students to speak up when instructors abuse their power. The overwhelming majority don’t–there are tons of really great professors and instructors out there. But the few who do sure are downers.

    I wound up writing the essay anyway to counter his argument, because I knew it’d piss him off. He asked that I speak to him during his office hours one day. He tried to berate me for my non-theistic viewpoints, but I told him point blank that if he continued to abuse his authority, I’d report him. And that no matter what he said, I would not convert to his way of thinking. And that his worst faux pas was wasting a college student’s time, because no one ever wants to go to class on a gorgeous day at 3 pm on a Friday (when the incident took place) when they could instead be drinking beer with pals and starting their weekends.

    Math class is for math. Science class is for science.

    He never tried to preach during class again. Speaking out and calling people to the carpet works. You have to let people know what you won’t stand for. And all students can do this in a peaceful and matter-of-fact way. Good for Jaden. He did the right thing.

  83. MoonShark

    @Jaden: That’s an awfully good reason. Thanks for the blog posts though! Some of us are more poised to speak out, and every story like this is ammo. Glad to hear you’ll be moving on to somewhere more science-friendly.

    Art (80) said:

    I don’t think either of them should be taught, as to avoid 100 people spending company time arguing about things they know nothing about. What does having an opinion on the subject actually accomplish? We are arguing things that are far beyond our control, which literally affect no aspect of our lives. Does believing in evolution or creation make me a better convenient store worker/ditch digger, or even scientist?
    This is a divisive argument, which does little but give us something to beat our chests about.

    What? Most people taking a college biology course are interested in some aspect of science or medicine. Evolution is the cornerstone of biology; it’s the overarching theory that connects the tiniest biochemistry to the broad field of zoology. You can bet your butt that I’d refuse to see a doctor who didn’t accept it, given that evolution is the whole reason we have antibiotic-resistant bacteria and the continual need to develop and administer novel antiobiotics. Pretty much nothing about living organisms makes sense without evolution. Stop living under a rock.

    Here’s a blog post published today about the evolutionary basis of chronic depression, and why one particular theory about it is bunk. Somewhere between 5% and 20% of the population may be affected; I’d call that important!

  84. Not Amused

    @ Jaden #36

    “This is a school in Oklahoma. Also, there are good schools in those states. The one I’m moving to attend is in one of them, and it’s considered one of the best in the country for my major.”

    I stand corrected. In the future, I will question the quality of “graduates” in three states: KS, TX and OK. There may be great schools in each of them (and great teachers I am sure), but a State Board of Education (or in this case – a like-minded superintendent) that supports a faith-based curriculum for their science class tends to discredit the scientific foundation of their graduates.

  85. Richard Wolford

    Herman, your concern has been noted; Genesis is a fairy tale, move along, nothing to see here.

    God may not be a being at all, but there is a higher order to the universe that we do not understand.

    Care to prove that Mike, or is this just more apologetic nonsense? Oh wait, just answered my question.

  86. JJ

    #80 – Art: “We are arguing things that are far beyond our control, which literally affect no aspect of our lives.”

    When the going gets tough the tough cop out, I guess.

    Einstein didn’t agree with quantum mechanics, it was a divisive argument among physicists and there’s at least an argument that quantum mechanics has no effect on your life. So I guess that should have been labeled taboo and ignored forevermore.

    P.S. Evolution itself affects many aspects of your life and the education of it does as well.

  87. Hey, MoonShark, the best part of that Art post is this line:

    I don’t think either of them should be taught, as to avoid 100 people spending company time arguing about things they know nothing about.

    Emphasis mine. I guess we know how Art spends his time at work.

    Some of us, Art, spend our own damn time. And while we may need occasional corrections ( 8) ), some of also know quite a bit more than nothing about many of the subjects the good doctor BA writes about.

    Now back to that slushie machine!

  88. Daffy

    Herman,

    I really couldn’t care less what the Bible says in Genesis; I don’t care if your interpretation is correct or if the Pope’s is, or if Pat Robertson’s is. Why? It was written thousands of years ago by bronze age mystics who were clueless about the universe we live in. Interesting in an anthropological sense, nothing more.

    There are real, dedicated scientists out there genuinely trying to understand where we came from and how. And you want to debate Genesis. One wonders whether to laugh or cry.

  89. Art

    OK. My statement doesn’t apply to biologists. Maybe, I should have left the “scientist” part off. Sorry to offend anyone.

    My point is: while I’m driving to work, eating lunch, picking up the kids, walking my dog or having a beer, the argument of evolution/creation is irrelevant.

    Of course it affect our lives on a grander scale, and I’m glad we have a better explanation for biodiversity than “amen”.

  90. Jon

    If someone doesn’t like the viewpoint of a teacher, get another teacher. It’s that simple. Go to another class, another school, etc. If enough other students do the same or request to do the same, this should sort itself out. ;)

  91. My point is: while I’m driving to work, eating lunch, picking up the kids, walking my dog or having a beer, the argument of evolution/creation is irrelevant.

    Wrong.

    People who willfully ignore mountains of evidence in order to “believe” something contrary, and who wish to force others to act in similar irrational fashion, are not the sort of people I want, for example, designing the brakes on that car you’re driving to work, or inspecting the meat packing plant where your pastrami was produced, or monitoring the crosswalk where your kids are waiting, or developing the medicine that keeps your dog from dying of heartworm, or washes the hops that go into the beer you’re drinking.

    Rational thinking, and the expectation of rational thinking among our fellow citizens, is a very fundamental aspect of our society.

  92. Mike

    JJ –

    Quantum mechanics has no effect on your life? Really? Do you have a computer with no transistors?

    Quantum mechanics has always made predictions about things that are measurable. Religion does not.

    Thanks for the red herring….

    The other Mike

  93. If there is a God, he created evolution.

  94. MoonShark

    @Art: I can think of ways evolution relates to all of those, but sure, you don’t need to think about it during daily activities. However, the topic at hand is education, and when it comes to using public funds to teach science, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it. This prof is ignoring an entire library’s-worth of published findings in order to spout his thoroughly unsupported and legally discredited religious BS, at everyone’s expense.

    Are you going to complain next that Phil is covering something other than pure astronomy? Just kidding (I hope).

  95. Charon

    @89: “while I’m… the argument of evolution/creation is irrelevant”.

    I understand your point that the details of biology aren’t relevant to your everyday life. But I certainly don’t think this debate is irrelevant. Let me explain: a scientific debate, like whether galaxies formed from monolithic collapse or hierarchical mergers does not affect your life, because the answer isn’t relevant for you, and the debate is just ordinary science. But evolution v. creationism isn’t ordinary science. To take the creationism side, one must deny all science, reject the epistemology and ontology that forms the basis of the modern understand of the world, reject evidence, experiment, and expertise. It’s completely anti-intellectual. This creates a poisonous atmosphere, a society in which any scientific conclusions are open to non-scientific criticism. Is it bad when oil is dumped in the Gulf of Mexico? Hey, oil is natural! Is climate change real? No, we’ll just deny it without evidence. Do vaccines cause autism? We feel that to be true!

    Without science, you’d have no car to drive to work. Without vaccines and modern medicine, some of your kids would be dead by now. It really is relevant to your life.

  96. MoonShark

    @Kim Poor: One of they key points of evolution is that it works through simple, mindless chemical processes. Saying “god designed it” is like saying “red is blue”; total nonsense.

  97. I think I would demand my money back for the course tuition.

    But there’s a reason I haven’t made it to a four-year degree in a decade.

  98. JJ

    #92 – Mike: I think you misunderstand me and the parallels I was trying to draw from #80 Art’s post.

    If pressed I could argue that understanding quantum mechanics has less of an impact on daily human life than understanding evolution (especially life before 1900), but my actual point is that both evolution and quantum mechanics matter, understanding them matters and that the existence of controversy is a miserable excuse to avoid teaching a subject.

    (and that’s an awful run-on sentence, sorry about that)

  99. Art

    @kuhnigget-

    I don’t eat pastrami. ;) Corned beef on the other hand…

    I really don’t care if the guy who designed my brakes thinks farts heal cancer, as long as they halt my vehicle’s momentum, and they are durable and affordable.

    See how I missed the point of what you were saying.

    I’m not saying “evolution isn’t real”, or “creation should be taught at institutes of higher learning.” It’s just that 99% of the time, for 99% of the people the debate is purely academic.

  100. #37 Thirteenfingers:
    Are you honestly trying to tell us that without your “faith”, you would have no morals? Are you really saying that your moral standards are derived only from your so-called “holy” book?
    To put it another way; are you actually saying that you know that it’s wrong to kill, or to steal, or to have sex with another man’s wife behind his back, solely because it says so in your “holy” book, and not because those things are just the normal rules of any civilised society, with or without religion? If the answer is yes, then that makes you a pretty contemptible apology for a human being, and I for one wouldn’t want to be left alone with you!
    I’m an atheist; I don’t believe in any sort of God – but I’ve never harmed another human being, or committed any crime or dishonest act more serious then breaking a speed limit. Not because an ancient book of fairy tales says I shouldn’t, but because the normal code of conduct of all decent and civilised human beings, which predates the Bible and all other religions by millennia, says I shouldn’t.

  101. JJ

    Art, this one’s for you:

    http://xkcd.com/154/

    Sometimes it does matter.

    Art, do you want the person that designs your brakes to test them, gather evidence and evaluate their performance based on the evidence gathered? That’s another way to tie it all together – the scientific method and critical thinking itself is important.

  102. #80, #89 Art:
    You are missing the point completely! As others have said, to deny evolution in favour of creationism is to deny the most fundamental foundations of all of science! And to say that science doesn’t affect you in your everyday life is the most idiotic thing I’ve ever read.
    The fact that you read this blog means you’re using a computer – invented by scientists, and made possible by, as has been pointed out, quantum mechanics!
    And Kuhnigget’s ( #91 ) simple example says it better than anything. Every time you drive your car, you are entrusting your life, and those of others, to the confidence that we understand the laws of science – specifically, to the confidence that when you apply the brakes, your car will slow down and stop in accordance with Newton’s Laws of Motion.

  103. Jacobus van Beverningk

    #2:

    Please stick the science and stop lecturing your readers on what you think about other peoples personal opinions

    Are you even capable of detecting the irony of that statement?

    How about sticking to writing your own blog and stop lecturing bloggers on what they should write in their own freely available blogs?

    (Where have I seen this behavior before: “only stick to what I want to hear, or else I’ll start bitching and moaning .. can’t have anyone have an opinion other than mine”? Ah, I remember now … creationists!)

  104. JJ

    Edit – sorry, double post, thought the spam filter ate my last one.

  105. flip

    I just want to say a big kudos to Jaden for having the guts to speak up in the first place. Autism or not, taking on lecturers is intimidating and you’ve done something most people would avoid doing in your situation. Good for you for sticking up for science!

  106. mateo

    People adopt religious beliefs because they’re emotionally satisfying measures to balm the meaninglessness of existence and death. But we also adopt all sorts of other beliefs for the same reason. We’ve built cultures in order to “explain” ourselves. It was unprofessional for this teacher to do what he did, but the fact that he’s a scientist with contradicting beliefs isn’t in itself damning. People poop out kids, build statues, engage in immortality projects, and the like for the very same reasons. It means everyone is weak. Is there a God? No. Is my strength in admitting the fact any better than one who hides from reality? Not really. It doesn’t really matter, in the end. And that’s okay.

  107. As someone who also goes to college in Oklahoma (at the University of Oklahoma, about 20 minutes from Jaden’s OCCC), I can confirm that this kind of thing isn’t limited to community colleges. I’ve had essays in college-level English classes where I’ve had to “prove” abortion is fundamentally wrong. My introductory geography course failed to mention any significant archipelagos (short of Hawai’i, but that’s Amero-centrism), but you can bet that Mt. Ararat was helpfully pointed out and its significance explained. My calculus teacher a couple of years ago claimed that the abundance of patterns in nature proves the existence of an intelligent creator.

    The point of that block of text is to show that people will teach their beliefs. I don’t know if it’s different outside the Bible Belt — this is the only place I’ve ever gone to college. But griping about individual teachers won’t help when it’s an epidemic of ignorance that’s sweeping our faculty.

    That being said, Jaden, you have incredible courage for sticking up for your beliefs. Don’t let this instance discourage you. Stay strong, fight for what you believe in, and never back down. :)

  108. Brian Too

    @65. DJCinSB,

    What you said! Write it in the sky!

  109. TheBlackCat

    My point is: while I’m driving to work, eating lunch, picking up the kids, walking my dog or having a beer, the argument of evolution/creation is irrelevant.

    That would be great if the public and the government would just get out of the way and let scientists do their thing. But if you have been watching current events *caughclimategatecough* you should know that the many government officials and the public at large think they are more qualified to judge scientific issues than scientists, and are perfectly willing to base decisions, fire people, even launch criminal investigations based on their own misunderstandings of science. Add to that the fact that scientists depend on government funding, and the government will only fund things that the public values (unfortunately science does not have enough of a lobby to get around that), and it becomes essential that the public understand science and understands its value to society.

  110. TheBlackCat

    Those of you that are reading and/or commenting on this article are not paying attention to my earlier comment.

    No, we aren’t, and this paragraph is probably why:

    So let me make this clear. The current doctrines of both young and old earth ARE A LIE!! The Big Bang and evolution theories are a lie. I urge all around the world to stop such foolishness and examine the truth of Genesis, which is available to those that will view it.

    You outright reject two whole branches of science, two of the most well-supported scientific principles ever, based on nothing but your say-so. You call pretty much every biologist from the last 150 years and every physicist and astronomer from the last half century or so a liar. You call the owner of this blog and many of its readers liars. You also seem to claim there is a massive world-wide conspiracy that you have uncovered lasting for several thousand years and involving 3 religions that hate each other and have been slaughtering each other for most of their history.

    And despite these grandiose claims you provide absolutely nothing whatsoever to back up anything you have said. You apparently base this on the plagiarized oral stories of illiterate bronze age cattle-sacrificing sheep herders. You provide absolutely nothing of substance that we could actually address or discuss, no details that we could analyze, and your post is entirely off-topic anyway. You didn’t even seem to be asking for a reply, nor did you mention anything you want to discuss, you just threw out some assertions and then left it at that. If you want to get a reply you should do one or more of the following:

    1) Ask for a reply
    2) Ask a question
    3) Say something of substance
    4) Say something on-topic
    5) Not sound like a crackpot

    5 probably comes across as rude, but I am just being blunt. The way your post was phrased, the sorts of claims you made, the total lack of details, the promise to reveal the truth to the open-minded, accusing large areas of science and large numbers of scientists as being outright lies and liar, and the implications of a world-wide conspiracy lasting a long time and involving the cooperation of numerous factions that have been at war for much of history, are common amongst crackpots but very rare amongst non-crackpots. So when people see such things they tend to dismiss them, rightly or wrongly, as being the work of a crackpot.

    If you don’t want people to draw such a conclusion, it would probably be best to not do the sorts of things crackpots usually do. Demands for attention won’t help (quite the contrary, since many crackpots seem to crave attention). Providing useful details might help, so you should probably start there.

  111. Jess Tauber

    One day religious aliens will invade Earth- then the fat will really fly.

    JT

  112. Dave C

    It sounds like a YouTube video is needed. If a student posted a video of this incident, then maybe the university would be shamed into doing something.

    And if this biology teacher “knows” the correct scientific conclusion is evolution but believes something else instead, then how seriously should we take the rest of his research? Does he consider his scholorly publications merely the necessary bullsh** that brings him a paycheck?

  113. Herman Cummings

    Why is everyone trying to be a clown, instead of seriously absorbing what was being said? God revealed Geologic Time to Moses in 1598 BC. That is about 3,000 years before secular science discovered it. Get your heads out of your rear ends and examine what God gave to Moses. The days were given in “Messianic” order, and not in chronological order. The presentation of “Observations of Moses” proves creationism to be in error, and explains the 600+ million year fossil record, which science claims is evidence for evolution.

    Herman Cummings
    epheraim7@aol.com

  114. Daniel J. Andrews

    Read halfway through the comments. Some excellent posts addressed so I’ll just focus on a minor nitpick with Phil’s post. The title says, When a biologist teaches creationism. It appears this professor is not a biologist (unless I missed something). Just because someone teaches biology at a community college does not a biologist make. It doesn’t even guarantee an understanding of biological processes or principles. It could be just parroting. A biologist would be someone who actually works in the field of biology either doing research or participating in research.

    I know, I’m being pedantic, but I am a biologist so feel a bit bound to respond. :)

    just agree and start reciting the Egyptian version that features the god Atum creating various beings by masturbating them into existence.

    That certainly explains Texas then… ;) Sorry Texans, feel free to snark at us Canucks…bad enough we snicker at your “Texas = Big” memes when we have provinces that are more than 2x larger than your state, and territories even bigger–dang, did I rub that in too? Oops (heh).

  115. TheBlackCat

    @ Herman: Okay, seeing as you obviously have no intention of listening to any of my advice whatsoever, I guess I’ll play. So what is the “Messianic” order, how was it established, and why does the text specifically say “on the first day”, “on the second day”, and so on when those were not really the days?

    And you still need to explain how this disproves evolution, and why we should trust a written collection of oral stories over pretty much everything we know about everything in biology, physics, astronomy, and probably numerous other fields (it is hard to tell since you seem determined to not provide any details whatsoever).

    One thing I should emphasize

    Why is everyone trying to be a clown, instead of seriously absorbing what was being said?

    You have provided no specifics, no evidence, no argument, we don’t event know what you are claiming. All you have said is that creationism and most of modern science are both wrong, and that you know the truth. You don’t say what the truth is, how you came to have it, how you know it is the truth, or why we should believe it. You ignore a request for specifics.

    You just assert that the truth exists and that you have it, and then get offended and start insulting us when we don’t throw away most of modern science on your word alone without even being told what we are supposed to be replacing it with. You don’t think you are being just a little bit unreasonable, that it might not be that outlandish for us to want to at least find out what it is we are supposed to be believing before we start believing it?

  116. @ BlackCat:

    Ordinarily I’d say play along, but in this case I have to suggest you don’t feed the troll.

    Herman is trying to shill his stupid book. He has no interest in science, only his own inflated opinion on “Biblical truth.”

  117. I'd rather be fishin'

    “Sorry Texans, feel free to snark at us Canucks…bad enough we snicker at your “Texas = Big” memes when we have provinces that are more than 2x larger than your state, and territories even bigger–dang, did I rub that in too? Oops (heh).

    Now, now Daniel. Statements like that will ruin the stereotyped Canadian reputation of always being nice and apologizing for everything (especially when we’re right).

    #107 said “My calculus teacher a couple of years ago claimed that the abundance of patterns in nature proves the existence of an intelligent creator.” That’s more frightening than my hydrodynamics course!

  118. lookylou

    I wish I could say this kind of crap is rare, but those of us who are professional educators know that it is all to common. I teach at a college where half the biology department are AGW deniers and at least one biologist apparently doesn’t believe the overwhelming evidence for evolution. One chemist has crazy (and easily refutable) ideas that life violates the 2nd law of thermodynamics……(fortunately, aside from that chemist, most of my dept. is relatively sane). Academia is ruled by politics and far too many people there value POWER over everything else. The late great Robert Parker (who often wrote hilariously about self-serving, incredibly stupid academics) once wrote that he served with some very bad people in Korea but the worst people he ever met were academics. I didn’t serve in Korea (or anywhere else) but I certainly agree with the last part of that statement. To be crude, I’ve met people whom I wouldn’t piss on if they were on fire.

  119. MadScientist

    @Ivan3man: Now if the trophy were half a donkey it would have been the half-ass award. I have only one objection to that horse trophy – why is the tail not raised?

    @coscro #2: Creationism is provably wrong; not only is there no evidence for it, all evidence is against creationism. Nor did the teacher teach evolution as required and instead substituted his brand of superstition. The superstition is not only not part of the requisite learning matter, but it is nothing but lies and inappropriate for any science class.

  120. Pi-needles

    @Ivan3man: LOL! :-)

    @110. TheBlackCat:

    many crackpots seem to crave attention.

    Very minor nitpick but I think that’s true of most humans NOT just crackpots. Its an instinct nearly all of us have to seek social approval and to be noticed by our fellow humans. Exceptions to this are few indeed – & no, I’m not one of them. ;-)

    @ 107. Travis Says:

    As someone who also goes to college in Oklahoma (at the University of Oklahoma, about 20 minutes from Jaden’s OCCC), I can confirm that this kind of thing isn’t limited to community colleges. I’ve had essays in college-level English classes where I’ve had to “prove” abortion is fundamentally wrong.

    Wow. So you were able to do that then and this highly controversial issue has now been resolved once and for all by a bunch of kids and their zealous lecturer in a college English class. :roll:

    Did the lecturer use your arguments or those of others or give them to you and expect them vomited back at him? And *English* class of all places for a discussion of the abortion issue – What The ..? [Tries and fails to work out which book was studied for that to come up or what other relevant connection to English this has.]

    Must’ve been awful for any students holding the oposite pro-choice view or were they allowed to put their case and come to the opposite conclusion? Holding a class debate on this would be one thing & is fair enough but ordering everyone to take a single one-sided anti-choice position is somethin gelse and totally wrong.

    @ 114. Daniel J. Andrews :

    I’ll just focus on a minor nitpick with Phil’s post. The title says, When a biologist teaches creationism. It appears this professor is not a biologist (unless I missed something). Just because someone teaches biology at a community college does not a biologist make. It doesn’t even guarantee an understanding of biological processes or principles. It could be just parroting. A biologist would be someone who actually works in the field of biology either doing research or participating in research.

    Good point – I agree with you on this one. The individual in question here is NOT somebody I’d call a biologist at all.

  121. Gonzo

    kuhnigget Says: I am so in favor of dropping this whole “can’t say anything contrary to someone’s faith” nonsense.

    Besides, it’s not really “both” sides, is it? If you start introducing religious creationism into the mix, you have to include ALL the religious creation myths. But that’s not really what you want, is it? You want YOUR creation myth to be taught. Why not be honest about that, at least?

    THIS.

  122. JMW

    @45 Dr Jeremy Greenwood Says:
    This just goes on and on, and from here in the UK it looks rather peculiar. Is it because it is illegal to teach religion in school in the US?

    Actually, it isn’t. I’m Canadian, and even I know that. One might argue that it should be illegal to teach religion…in a science class. But that’s a debate for another day.

    Though I don’t believe a word of it, Creationist theory hangs together and is highly thought provoking.

    Of course it hangs together – it’s completely reality-free. The creationists can make any kind of argument to support whatever they choose to expound upon.

    I think one of the problems with science is that scientists can act like theocrats and hand us down theories that the man in the street is unable to follow up on and debate.

    But one critical difference between science and religion is that science is reproducible. A scientist could hand down a theory that you or I might not be able to follow up on and debate; but other scientists can – and they can point to observations, experiments and data that anyone can perform and get the same results, if they use the same methods. Then the debate comes about interpreting and organizing the data. The only thing that stops you or I from doing the same is choice (and perhaps, talent at mathematics). This differs from religion, where revelation comes from an authoritative source which must not be questioned. Rewind history’s tape, let it play over again, and I guarantee you Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Sikhism, etc., etc., won’t happen again.

    On the other hand there is a priest in every parish and they are normally very happy to enter into theological debate.

    Fair enough. My understanding is that Church of England is fairly relaxed, and has no theological problem with evolution (I remember Robin Williams characterizing CoE as “Catholic Lite – same rituals, half the guilt”). And there are certainly scientists who consider the great unwashed masses as unworthy of edification and education – check out http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/intersection/2010/05/25/sci-comm-training/. Isaac Asimov often commented about some scientists calling him a “mere popularizer” of science, and observed the same thing happening to Carl Sagan, and it still goes on today. So in terms of accessibility to average people, religion tends to win out. But that doesn’t mean that the ideas of religious fundamentalists deserve scientific respect when they’ve already been scientifically discredited.

    Personally I believe in God and suspect that He created life along the lines that Darwin and co. suggest. I have had many challenging debates with vicars, but have no outlet to scientists other than this sort of blog, and even then fear that I could be very easily labelled a crank.

    I hope you don’t get labelled as a crank. I have no problem with someone like you, who accepts what science has determined so far about how life evolves and chooses to believe that some higher power was acting invisibly behind it all. In my humble opinion, there’s no way to prove or disprove what you believe – so in the end the debate is irrelevant to the subject of science. I do happen to disagree with you on that score; but then I’ll never be able to prove or disprove what I believe either.

  123. Captn Tommy

    I actually think the Thor theory has validity. Though Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy is the better one.

    But! lets look at history and science so far.

    1. Big Bang vs. “let there be light” — equivalent?

    2. microwave background vs. “the earth is the center of the universe” the back ground is 14 billion or so light years in ALL directions from earth — equivalent?

    3. Miocondal (sic) DNA indicates “one mother” vs. Adam and Eve — equivalent?

    I think the arguement looks like a time problem.

    I am a furvent believer in evolution, and a beleiver in God. I also have great fun in observing equivalents as I call them. Texas BoE members belong in the retal orriface class of humans, forcing their beiliefs on the whole citizenry, Maybe a few scientists should try to join the BoE. A person’s beliefs can be stated even in class by a teacher, but should not be taught as anything but belief. Science is facts, we should remember, but even facts have been proven wrong.

    All spelling is my own (engineer 35 yrs), the microwave background distance may be wrong but you get the point.

    enjoy

  124. Robert

    18. J. Major Says:
    May 27th, 2010 at 9:28 am
    What’s terrible is that he used a bunch of young people to get on his harebrained soapbox in front of. How many community college students are willing to go head-to-head with their professor – who ultimately wields the gradebook and red pen – even if they do oppose their teachings? If I remember college correctly, most students do not want to be singled out in class as a dissenter, even by a fool of a teacher.

    If this guy had been in front of a roomful of his scientific peers, I wonder if he’d have been so vocally confident about “what we all know is right”.

    =–=-=-=-=-=

    My daughter did it, to her own detriment.

    Community college Psychology class, a paper was demanded on ESP experiences, dreams, or some such.

    She never played along with multiple class sessions. Actually, I think open disdain was shown.

    Had to retake the class.

    I’m so proud.

    Oh well.

  125. TheBlackCat

    1. Big Bang vs. “let there be light” — equivalent?

    Not even close. First, of course, the biblical creation story does not begin with all the matter crammed into an infinitely or nearly-infinitely small point, it begins with a formless void full of swirling water. Of course “formless” and “molecules” are mutually exclusive, but people living thousands of years ago wouldn’t have known this. An all-knowing God would, however.

    Second, if you know about the CMBR you should know there is no light until hundreds of thousands of years after the big bang, so even your description of events is not equivalent.

    2. microwave background vs. “the earth is the center of the universe” the back ground is 14 billion or so light years in ALL directions from earth — equivalent?

    First, it doesn’t say that Earth is the center of the universe, it says that the sky is is really the “firmament”, some sort of solid structure used to hold up the waters that constitute the universe before solid land was formed, that the rain is little holes opened in the firmament, and the sun, stars, and moon are all little lights placed in the universe. In short, in the Biblical version of events there is no “universe” as we know it, there is the Earth, a solid dome over our heads, and a lot of water. That is it. It could hardly be called a “universe” at all in the sense we understand it.

    Second, the CMBR doesn’t imply that Earth is the center of the universe, it implies that there is no center of the universe at all.

    3. Miocondal (sic) DNA indicates “one mother” vs. Adam and Eve — equivalent?

    First of all, “Mitochondrial Eve” (assuming she even existed) lived hundreds of thousands of years ago, far before the supposed creation of the Earth. Second, it doesn’t indicate “one mother”, it simply means that out of the thousands, maybe even millions of human females living at the time, through chance one happened to be in the maternal line for most if not all human females. She was most definitely NOT the “one mother”, not the only human female living at the time, and not the first human female.

    There was also an x-chromosome “adam”, who similarly would not have been the only man living at the time. The thing is these two individuals lived tens of thousands of years apart.

    I also have great fun in observing equivalents as I call them.

    They aren’t remotely equivalent. Further, the so-called “equivalents” are extremely rare, and people only notice them once the science comes around and only then by twisting the original scripture or the science (or, in your examples, both).

    For instance the order of events in the Genesis creation story are completely and totally wrong, in fact I am surprised any human could possibly make such basic mistakes. For instance trees before sunlight? Even hunters and gathers living during the ice age should have noticed that plants can’t survive without sunlight, not to mention a civilization.

    Even the most basic things are wrong. For the Earth, did the land come first or the water? For us now it is obvious the land came first, the water appeared from volcanic eruptions and comet impacts later. But for people living thousands of years ago on the coast of a large sea, they had a roughly 50/50 chance. Some creation myths had the water appearing first, others the land. Actually you could say they have a 33/33/33 chance, since some myths had the water and land appearing at the same time.

    This is one of the most basic things, something that an omniscient being would have known, yet the biblical creation story got it wrong. There was a 1 in 3 chance and the story supposedly coming straight from the creator of the universe got it wrong! This is not something like predicting atoms that would have convinced later generations that the Bible had to be divinely influenced, it is a little thing that future skeptics could have just dismissed as luck. Yet the Bible still gets it wrong. It is full of little mistakes like that, things that if right would not have changed anyone’s mind because sometimes even people living at the time should have known better, but that the creator of the universe would surely have known better about. That is two examples, there are many more from Genesis alone and many from other parts of the Bible as well.

    (engineer 35 yrs)

    *sigh* Why are they always engineers? I am an engineer too, but this sort of thing really does come disproportionately from engineers.

  126. *sigh* Why are they always engineers?

    Maybe it’s ’cause you all have so much time to spare while steering your little choo-choos around? :P

  127. chimp

    >Teach religion in a science class
    >OMG YOU NEED TO LEAVE HIM ALONE HE WAS TEACHING BOTH SIDES OF THE COIN ETC ETC

    No. Creationism ‘science’ is not science, its debunked nonsense that should be kept in the religious education portion of the curriculum. Biology should involve teaching current accepted scientific consensus, actual science.

    We dont teach kids 1+1 = banana in math class, despite it being an alternate opinion or idea.

  128. JR

    Herman Cummings, Moses had Power Point?

  129. Robert

    55. Luanne Graham Says:
    May 27th, 2010 at 11:04 am
    @ vaccination dalek:

    Finally: Oklahoma? That explains everything.
    -=-=-=-

    Even Texas?

  130. Art

    If you actually read my posts above you’d see that I never refuted evolution. I was trying to make the point that debating with fundamentalists is an exercise in futility. Arguing with cavemen isn’t going to do anything but make you feel better about yourself and worse about society. I never said that product engineering and scientific education shouldn’t be based on the scientific method, but product engineering is a physics problem, not a biological one. So I still don’t care if an engineer believes in evolution. I’m just tired of hearing people debate evolution/religion, because it doesn’t accomplish anything.
    I’m even more tired of people arguing with other posts without actually getting the point of the whole thing. When all you do is skim over the post looking for something to dispute of course you’ll find a word you can attack.
    Maybe we should start teaching people how to think and behave rationally (at the very least the behaving part). Then maybe the message of evolution will spread to the confused masses.

  131. Art, I think most people here would not agree with your sentiments. Debating with fundies may seem futile, but it is absolutely necessary if we are to keep these idiots from destroying our already-challenged public schools.

    Standing by and watching them chip away at science curricula, while doing nothing to stop them, is tantamount to joining their crusade.

    Sorry if that tires you. It is tiresome, but crucial. We may never change their minds, but we just might encourage their young targets to stand up to their bullying and to think for themselves. That, ultimately, is the only way they will be silenced.

  132. Art

    Hey, and what’s wrong with crockpots? How else can I prepare a roast without turning on the oven? ;)

  133. Matt T

    @JR (128):
    Lessee… Moses sods off for a while, then comes back with 10 rules, laid out in a numeric list on two tablets, reads them off to everyone and expects them to listen, take it in, and do something about it (which they promptly fail to do). Yep, sounds like PPT to me!

  134. Art

    @kuhnigget #131

    The key is “think for themselves”. The problem is, most of the people we’re talking about don’t have the capacity, because their minds are clouded with “lost” episodes and nickleback lyrics.

    “Standing by and watching them chip away at science curricula, while doing nothing to stop them, is tantamount to joining their crusade.”

    The process in which our primary schools’ curriculum is set should be reformed, as well. This is one area I could see federal involvement could actually help, in the form of an annual national election, in which the citizens vote on what will be taught nationwide. That’s the only way to keep southern schools in line.

    As for the subject of Dr. Plait’s post, I feel for anyone who has spent money on a class only to have the professor throw the book out the window. Teaching creationism anywhere but at a seminary is egregious.

  135. Holly

    Why bother studying and learning biology and making that your career? Obviously you don’t believe any of it so why go through the trouble? Why not go into religious studies?

    I don’t see any real Biologists getting Creation degrees from Oral Roberts, then spending their time infiltrating children’s Bible study classes.

    But if anyone is being intolerant of beliefs, it’s the teacher himself. If he was going to go down that path, he did not mention Brahma, Atum, Marduk, Coatlique, Con, Elohim, Xenu, and of course the Flying Spaghetti Monster (to name a few). As a Pastafarian myself, I would have been very offended that my precious FSM was left out of this discussion. Were there ANY mention of pirates? At all???

    Since we should tolerate all “ideas”, I propose that the children start going to school on Saturdays and in the summer to fit in the Creation stories of every culture during Biology class that has ever been recorded. They must all get equal time and questions from each “idea” need to appear on any official state-mandated test.

    Tolerance is tolerance, right?

  136. @ Art:

    This is one area I could see federal involvement could actually help, in the form of an annual national election, in which the citizens vote on what will be taught nationwide. That’s the only way to keep southern schools in line.

    That has to be one of the worst ideas I’ve read in a long time, Art.

    Science isn’t determined by popularity, but by evidence. Theories come and go based upon the amount of testable, verifiable, disprovable evidence they can rack up in their support. Evolution has stood the test of time because of huge mountains of such evidence, not because a bunch of people got together and voted on it.

    @ Holly:

    Har-rumph! Flying Spaghetti Monster, indeed! You have misinterpreted the holy noodles, for yea, verily, He is Macaroni Manifest in all its cheesy goodness! Down with the infidel spaghetti twirlers! Crush their cholesterol-loaded meatballs and lay waste to their sauce! I bend my elbow at you in shame and disgust.

  137. @120: The English class in question was set up such that we students would have to write opinion essays about once a week on a variety of topics. We would get an article or essay presenting one side of the coin and we would have to defend the opposite. It just so happened that all of the points we had to defend were conservative Christian talking points… crazy coincidences. :/

  138. Art

    @kuhnigget

    This is more exhausting than trying to teach a triple amputee how to catch two-handed.

    We’re discussing the administration of scientific education, not science itself.

    I didn’t say science should be voted on????

    I was SIMPLY saying that by taking a national vote, we would circumvent the regional bias that oppresses the curriculum in southern states. The BoE officials are ELECTED by district via popular vote. By VOTING nationally, we would have some modicum of control over what youths are taught nationwide, not just in our home states.

    Instead of voting for officials to administer our curriculum, we could vote on the curriculum.

  139. Oh, Art. Sorry. I guess I’m confused by statements such as these:

    I didn’t say science should be voted on????

    Instead of voting for officials to administer our curriculum, we could vote on the curriculum.

    What, exactly, is the curriculum, if not the science?

    But I agree with you on one thing. This is exhausting. I’m off for a nap.

  140. Sebecus

    I am a full-time biology instructor at this school, so I’d like to have the opportunity to save a little face now. The creationist instructor is an adjunct who, if I have anything to do with it (I do), will not be teaching with us much longer. His views and teaching methods are not inline with mainstream biology or our other biology faculty and I’m now ashamed for my school.

    There has been some discussion here about accreditation, which is not a relevant issue here since this instructor is part-time. Our school is the fifth-largest college in the state and supplies qualified people to all of our 4-year Universities. The creationist adjunct instructor was obviously not screened sufficiently prior to hiring. This situation will be remedied. We are in dire need in the US, especially in Oklahoma, of a high level of academic rigor in the sciences. Otherwise it seems we may plummet into a technological and political dark age.

    In defense of our college, Oklahoma City Community College is NOT a creationist stronghold, on the contrary. All of our full-time biology faculty understand the actual age of the Earth and that Creationism (AKA ID) is not science. My own area is paleontology, so this series of blog postings is especially embarrassing to me. Jaden, if you read this, I’m sorry for your educational experience! I wish you had been in my class.

    Julian Hilliard

  141. JarlNjord

    Music has a theory ???

  142. TheBlackCat

    @ Sebecus: That is reassuring to hear. However, if the report is accurate, there are some serious problems with the Dean that you should be concerned with as well. It sounds like the Dean was not opposed to the teacher’s actions, if not outright supportive of them. Now the account by the student might not be accurate, but if it is I don’t think the Dean’s actions (or lack thereof) were the appropriate ones.

  143. Robert

    My sis-in-laws husband is a lay preacher in a fundie church.

    Was heard to say he is considering starting a church in the town down the road because “Those people need to be told what to think.”

    My son and I did good to not laugh out loud at that particular family function.

    Also, for the Genesis guy, Adam, Eve, Cain, Abel. Cain murders Abel,

    I never have figured out where the incest started, can you enlighten me?

  144. Julian Hilliard

    Black Cat et al,

    Jaden never actually spoke to the dean of math and science at our college. He spoke with someone ‘in-charge’ who was trying very hard to keep everyone happy and didn’t yet have all the facts. It is likely that if Jaden had spoken to the Dean, this situation would not have come to the internet’s attention. We plan to improve our screening of adjunct employees and post a declaration of our support of the teaching of evolutionary biology on the web and in-house. This has thus-far been unnecessary (redundant), but appears to be so in the current climate.

  145. …and post a declaration of our support of the teaching of evolutionary biology on the web and in-house. This has thus-far been unnecessary (redundant), but appears to be so in the current climate.

    That’s the most depressing thing I’ve read all week.

  146. Jeremy Greenwood, it is not illegal to teach religion in the U.S. It is perfectly fine to teach religion in seminaries, Sunday Schools, and churches. It is fine to discuss creation myths in history or Comparative Religion class. It is not fine to insert one particular creation myth into science class. The evidence for creation myths does not meet scientific standards, nor are creation myths part of the science curriculum. I think your argument is disingenuous. Do you also recommend polite ‘debates’ between flat-earthers and round-earthers, Aristotoleans and Newtonists, geocentric and heliocentric astronomers?

    If you believe that science is handed down from on high, I suggest that you read a book like “Great Feuds in Science” or look for articles about any of these recent controversies: hot-blooded vs. cold-blooded dinosaurs; birds—descended from dinosaurs or not? Punctuated equilibrium vs. gradual change. Organic material in dinosaur fossils—original dinosaur tissue or contamination? Origin of flight— top-down from gliding or bottom-up from scrambling? Plate tectonics. Causes of mass extinctions. Group selection—valid mechanism? How does it work? Mechanisms of non-Darwinian selection. Going back a little further, genetic material—DNA or albumin? Get the picture? Science is made of guesses, tests, rationalizations, tests, competition, rejiggering the hypotheses, experiments, cliques, ruling memes, upstart ideas, reproducing results, arguments, demonstrations, and shouting matches. But sooner or later, the side with the facts will win. The facts for evolution have been coming in for about three hundred years now, starting with evidence for erosion, mountain-building, and glaciation, which gave us deep time. If you want to postulate a philosophical First Cause, fine. But don’t pout and mutter that those high-and-mighty scientists won’t listen to an argument. Read about Lynn Margulis vs. the establishment on mechanisms of evolution. She changed their minds. Creation myths belong in religion classes.

  147. Creationists are quite arrogant, in a lot of ways, very insulting to their own faith. Even if you do believe that some Supreme Being created the Heavens and the Earth (I don’t), the fact they put a time line on it all is basically like saying you’re in on God’s Plan. How could you possibly know? Why the heck would He tell you? Any real Christian will tell you this is impossible because God is the LORD and you are just you.

    I shall now prove Creationists have no idea what they are talking about and I’m going to use the Bible to do it. The current Creationist estimate for the age of the Universe is I think is around 6000 years, it’s based on the various family histories in the Bible (and other apocryphal works). This number is not actually mentioned anywhere in the Bible, but the Bible does say this:

    “A thousand years in Your sight are but as yesterday when it is past…” (Psalm 90:4) Thus a year to God is 365,250 years to you. Issac ben Samuel of Acre was convinced Hebrew tradition of a 6000 year old universe was also off by a factor of 7. He became convinced of this because of the Shimta (basic reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shmita) and recalculated the various Biblical family histories based on that. One has to admit there are a heck of a lot of references to ’7 years’ in the Bible. “At the end of seven years ye shall let go every man his brother that is a Hebrew, that hath been sold unto thee, and hath served thee six years, thou shalt let him go free from thee…” (Jeremiah 34:13-14) for example.

    6000 x 7 = 42,000 Divine years
    42,000 x 365,000 = 15.33 billion Human years.

    15.33 billion years is actually pretty close to the scientifically estimated age of the Universe. So there you have it. Remember, Creationists, the Bible never lies. You just aren’t reading it right.

  148. @ Cobolhacker:

    the Bible never lies

    Yeah, but my abominable husband and I still enjoy a good bowl of clam chowder. :o

  149. TheBlackCat

    @ cobolhacker: the bible says that a thousand years is a day and a day is a thousand years, so you could just as easily argue that the world is 42 years old. Add the fact that 6,000 years is the low end of the estimate, with the high end being about 10,000, and the world is either 26-16 billion years old or 70-40 days old. Add to the fact that it is fairly arbitrary translating references to years in the bible to Schmita instead (which would throw off a lot of things).

    The number 3 is used a lot in the Bible as well, so you could also argue that the universe is really 6.57 billion years old, or apply any of the above variations on your analysis.

    So using the basic principles of your analysis, we get 4 time ranges, 25.6-15.34 billion years, 10.96-6.57 billion years, 69.95-41.97 days, or 29.97-17.98 days. That covers a pretty wide range of possible ages of the universe. And of course you could claim that any part of the manipulation you did was an ad-hoc rationalization and shouldn’t be included, which adds the additional ranges of 3.65-2.19 billion years, 9.99-5.99 days, 30,000-18,000 years, 70,000-42,000 years, and the traditional 10,000-6000 years. And you could argue that you could include both the 3 and 7 multiplication, which gives 76.8-46.02 billion years, 209.85-125.91 days, or 210,000-126,000 years.

    So in short the age of the universe falls somewhere between about 75 billion years and 6 days by your logic. It is not that surprising that the age of the universe falls somewhere in that range.

    And I should add to that the fact that 15.33 billion is really not that close to the actual time considering the amount of ad-hoc manipulation you have done. It is still off by about 12%, far more than you would expect from the creator of the universe.

    And your analysis is fundamentally flawed, since the biblical genealogies do not cover the whole period of time to the present, they are only used up to the point that they start referencing historical figures mentioned in contemporary historical records, at which point those records take over. So even if you buy the fairly arbitrary “multiply by 7″ thing it would only apply to the first few thousand years, so the number of “divine years” that has passed would be much lower than 42,000.

    To make a long story very short: I don’t buy numerology.

  150. John T.

    I had a chemistry teacher in high school who, if memory serves me correctly, claimed that all atoms/molecules/any and all particles in the universe were created by god. I piped up and said I disagreed (since I didn’t believe in god, and if it matters, still don’t), and that it had nothing to do with science. I was immediately shot down, embarrassed in front of the class, and since I was 16 at the time, didn’t have the courage to challenge his assertions further.

    I read about these sorts of incidents on your blog and elsewhere. Is there anything we, as normal individuals, can do about things like this? I’d like to slap a ruler of that college professor’s head and tell him he’s got a time-out (for about 20 years).

  151. Brian Too

    @Herman Cummings,

    Surely there must be another corner of the Internet better suited to your proclivities?

  152. Ann

    Once again, Oklahoma leads the nation in DumbF***ery.

  153. Loplopol

    You can’t judge an entire states college graduates by what one professor said. Who knows if he even got his degree in Oklahoma?

    Also, you can’t judge the school either. I’m currently taking a gen zoo class at occc with a different professor. And he is one of my best proffessors I’ve had to date. He’s good, but not easy.

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