texas, still hell bent on undermining education

January 15, 2010

Seems that no amount of attention, including a million watt spotlight on the nonsense that emanates from the mouths of the Texas School Board’s creationist faction, is going to be enough to stop the state’s officials from dragging their education programs back into the 1800s from a scientific standpoint, and turn their humanities curricula into their personal opinions of history, complete with the kind of right wing propaganda we’d expect to hear from Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck rather than a qualified history teacher. And now, since California, the second largest textbook market in the nation and a balance to Texan’s far right lean, is broke and can’t afford its educational shopping spree, the likes of Barbara Cargill and Don McLeroy have more power than ever to harm our educational system with their misguided ideological attacks on science and fact-based pedagogy…

Think I’m a little tough on well meaning folks who are just following the advice of scientists and experts to ask questions and are just demanding rigor from the materials students across the state will be learning? Then you should take a look at a little story featuring our crazed dentist, Don McLeroy, that gives a little peek into a zealot’s head, where books are read not for education but ideological confirmation and become the target of a temper tantrum when they don’t soothe his itch to see his views praised as the absolute truth…

With childlike glee, McLeroy flipped through the pages and explained what he saw as the gaping holes in [evolution]. “I don’t care what the educational political lobby and their allies on the left say,” he declared at one point. “Evolution is hooey.” This bled into a rant about American history.

“The secular humanists may argue that we are a secular nation,” McLeroy said, jabbing his finger in the air for emphasis. “But we are a Christian nation founded on Christian principles. The way I evaluate history textbooks is first I see how they cover Christianity and Israel. Then I see how they treat Ronald Reagan. He needs to get credit for saving the world from communism and for the good economy over the last twenty years because he lowered taxes.”

Just note how there isn’t a single complex thought entertained in his narrow little worldview of black and white, right and wrong. He evaluates textbooks not on whether they have scientific merit and have been vetted by the appropriate experts in the field, but on how they agree with him. Even on something as basic as history, nearly all of the finer nuances of the last thirty years seem to have never materialized in his empty little head. Sinister implications of the MAD doctrine, the internal power struggles at the Politburo, Soviet social dynamics, the use of communism as a bait and switch for 70 years of tyranny and Gorbachev’s massive failures with Glasnost, Perestroika and his naiveté in dealing with his colleagues, Reagan and Bush Sr., would never make it to a top notch history class if this buffoon has his way. The complex tales of the Cold War and how it shaped the world we know today would be reduced to “praise Reagan and tax cuts,” and left at that.

And when it comes to evolution, McLeroy reminds me of an excited kid who thinks he made some sort of a big discovery and wants to shout it from the rooftops so everyone praises how smart he is. Listening to him try to explain evolution must be like listening to your grandparents try to explain the inner workings of Vista or Linux with the kind of zeal that can only come with the blissful ignorance of beginners who have no idea of just how much they have left to learn. In fact, that’s one of the biggest things separating the experts from the beginners in almost any discipline. Experts know they always have an immense amount of information to cover to keep up with the rest of their field and crank out high quality product to stay relevant while beginners are absolutely sure that the only difference between them and the experts is a paper with a seal of a university on it and they couldn’t be more wrong. When the reviews end and the conversation is stripped away of layman’s terms, they quickly find that they either need to check their ego at the door or give up on trying to play expert.

Although, there is a third choice for the non-expert trying to dip into the realm of scientists and engineers. Play politician and use populism and personal power to play arbiter. That’s the choice made by Texan creationists. Grossly ill-informed, with a hatred of people who devote their lives to learning and doing complicated things in the name of knowledge and technological advancement, they adhere to their rigid, anti-intellectual ideology to vote in a single, unshakable block against progress, against knowledge and against fact. Because really, the only thing they have is their political power and they’re thrilled to use it, intoxicated with the notion that instead of listening and learning, they get to say no and hurl their contempt at real experts when their dubious agenda is questioned. And these are the people who are going to play a very significant role in what your children will be learning in school. How do you feel about America’s chances of leading the world in R&D over the next ten years or so? Because from where I sit, the odds aren’t looking all that great…

[ illustration by Dennis Zilber, story tip by reader Damian D. ]

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  • http://www.dad2059.wordpress.com dad2059

    It seems Mr. McLeroy is just perpetuating the stereotype that Texans are right-wing extremists.

    Obviously he doesn’t care about that.

  • Anonymous

    It seems that, once again, only “opened minded” peoples opinions count. Even if glaring proofs of creation were evident, people are extremists to believe them. Even if glaring gapes in the chain of evolution were exposed, people should still believe in it because it is the political correct thing to do. How long did man believe the earth was flat? When people first started theorizing it was not, were they extremists? Did you know there are factual manuscripts dated, scientifically, from BC that stated the earth was round? ooh…they are from the Bible…they must not have been accurate since an extremist would only believe something from the Bible. Adaptation is proven, anyone who thinks that all evolutiionary lineages are proven factually are in err, and extremists.

  • Greg Fish

    Even if glaring proofs of creation were evident, people are extremists to believe them.

    Name one other than the ignorance of how a certain species came to be the way it is today. Creationists all over the world have tried and came up empty because for their purposes, not knowing is proof enough and so they don’t bother to collect any, using fallacies or distortions of scientific facts without providing any research of their own.

    How long did man believe the earth was flat?

    Depended on the level of education. It’s a bit of a modern myth that people believed the Earth was flat until the early 1500s and those with good schooling, a rarity in the days we’re talking about, knew that the planet was spherical.

    Did you know there are factual manuscripts dated, scientifically, from BC that stated the earth was round?

    Yes. The ancient Greeks even estimated the circumference of the Earth to within just a few thousand miles. Sadly, they didn’t figure out heliocentrism…

    ooh…they are from the Bible…they must not have been accurate since an extremist would only believe something from the Bible.

    The Bible also mentions that the world is flat. Just like all massive anthologies that mix history, religion and punditry in the ancient world, it’s a pretty contradictory book which says one thing in a certain verse and the exact opposite a few pages later.

    anyone who thinks that all evolutiionary lineages are proven factually are in err

    And because you’ve stated that categorically, you’ve proven your point, right? So, just curious here, but where’s your evidence for this claim? Are you even going to pretend to try and give us an example or is this just obligatory growling?

  • DamianD

    “How long did man believe the earth was flat? When people first started theorizing it was not, were they extremists?”

    Are you really using a scientifically supported claim that was repressed by the church as a reason why a religious world view (that a supernatural being named God created all that exists) is a valid scientific theory?

    Explain to us how anything about creationism or intelligent design is scientific. Explain how it can be tested, which is a requirement for it to be considered a scientific hypothesis. Explain how pointing to a supernatural being, rather than natural phenomena, is a scientific approach to explaining how the universe works and should be taught in science classrooms.

    There’s a reason the supreme court has ruled against creationism and intelligent design every single time this has gone to the courts. Neither are science and neither belong in any kind of science classroom. And no amount of complaining about it or circular logic can change that. Evolution is a tested and retested and retested scientific theory… not hypothesis, theory. In a scientific arena a theory is as close to proven fact as it gets. Gravity is a theory… are you going to tell us that it’s not proven because it’s still called a theory?

  • Ken wELSH

    This article is filled with lies, distortions, and scientific falsehoods. It is a good example of how dangerous it is to have evolution taught as fact in our schools. and not allow any criticism or open-inded debate about it.

    Creationists don’t have to prove their point or play by someone else’s rules on what is scientific. They are not the ones who are dominating the science textbooks with science fiction. It is up to the evolutionists to prove their point, and they have failed miserably. A good example in the article above: name calling and sarcasm and very little science.

    Evolution fails right at the start. Life has not been observed comining from inorganic material. Furthermore, life tends to disorder and breaking down, not constantly building up in thousands of different species into more complex forms.

    Randon mutations have never been shown to evolve a species into a higher and more complex form of life. This is not observed today, and claims that it has been proven in the fossil record is based on the good imagination and bias of scientists who are dedicated to a naturalistic explanation of things. The probability of bad or adverse mutations is so high that out fossil record should be filled with such examples, and some should be seen today. Don’t bother with that millions of years explanation for a cover story either either. Your dating is based on several asssumptions, and if any of the assumptions are not true, your theory collapses in a pile of bones.

    Evolution CANNOT SURVIVE debate and scrutiny in the public arena. They don’t want people THINKING about it and its many flawed claims; they just want FAITH in what the evolutionists say and acceptance of its claims. It is really a type of religion in itself!

    If you had truth on your side, you would welcome debate and open thinking on the matter. In addition, you show a lack of respect for those who have different conclusions about life. The claim that education is threatened by those who have a creationist point of view is absolutely stupid. Not long ago in the past many scientists were creationists, and did just fine, as did the rest of the world, thank you.

    I have done much reading on both sides of the question and have heard several good debates on the subject (back in the time when evolutionists were not afraid to debate). Your evolutionary theory is full of holes.

  • DamianD

    “Evolution fails right at the start. Life has not been observed comining from inorganic material. Furthermore, life tends to disorder and breaking down, not constantly building up in thousands of different species into more complex forms.”

    Evolution doesn’t explain how life started, it explains how life has changed. The fact that we have yet to prove how life began has no bearing on the theory of evolution, as it doesn’t even try to explain that. What you’re talking about is abiogenesis, the study of how life could have arisen from inorganic material. And while there is anything but consensus on the matter, the Miller-Urey experiment is an example of interesting progress being made on the subject. But again, this is not evolution and has very little to do with evolution, which deals with how life has changed, not how it started.

    “Randon mutations have never been shown to evolve a species into a higher and more complex form of life.”

    This is simply untrue. Look at the evolution of canines, which we’ve witness over several generations as wolves were domesticated and selectively bred into the various phenotypically distinct types of dogs we keep as pets today. Or even look at the separation of wolves into wolves and coyotes, which is a fine example of the early stages of speciation, the process of two or more populations of a species evolving differently due to different environmental pressures and/or mutations in their sub groups. Of course, as they’ve migrated back across the North American continent, they’ve started to interbreed again, which has led to larger pack animals with more aggression. You could make the argument that they’ve evolved into more efficient hunters because of a period of speciation, and thus evolved into something better.

    Same can be said for caribou and reindeer, which look very different but are still technically the same species. They were separated when the land bridge between Asia and Alaska flooded again and have been evolving on separate continents for tens of thousands of years. We can actually see the differences in them just by looking at them. It’s evolution in progress.

    Of course, what your claim really lacks is the second factor in evolution, selective pressure. Mutation on its own doesn’t do much, and you’re right… most are harmful to the species. In fact, many mutations are lethal or even prevent birth in the first place. But when the rare mutation that doesn’t kill an organism does occur, it still requires an environmental pressure that selects those organisms with the mutation over those that lack it for the mutation to become beneficial and create a reproductive advantage. Otherwise, it’s a random mutation that dies off with the organism that had it and never impacts the species as a whole.

    “The probability of bad or adverse mutations is so high that out fossil record should be filled with such examples, and some should be seen today. Don’t bother with that millions of years explanation for a cover story either either.”

    Again, yes, harmful mutations are far more common. But most kill the organism before it has a chance to reproduce and pass such a mutation on to its offspring. So no, there wouldn’t be a fossil record of negative mutations, per se. What we do have is examples of organisms that have gone extinct because they didn’t adapt to changing environmental conditions or because the advantages they had in the old environment may have become disadvantages in the new one. Again I point to selective pressures, which are dynamic, not static. As the environment changes, the conditions under which some species once thrived may disappear. And what was once a lush environment for one species may become a nurturing environment for another.

    Take Sickle Cell disease, for example. It’s a terrible, often fatal disease. It’s quite obviously a negative mutation within humans, right? Well, not so fast. Sickle Cell Anemia requires an individual to be homozygous (both parental chromosomes contain the mutation, not just one) for the disease to fully present itself. A person who is heterozygous (only one chromosome contains the mutation) will have very minor symptoms and can live a normal life. But they will also have strong resistences to Mylaria, a blood born disease that has at times decimated populations in tropical regions. Guess where Sickle Cell Anemia is most prevalent? Yep, tropical regions. There is selective pressure that favors having a heterozygous mutation for Sickle Cell disease. This is a recent example of evolution in our own species.

    Of course, it takes thousands or more of little mutations like this, along with a reproductive isolating event of some kind for speciation to take place, but the point is, we can see evolution happening in higher life forms all the time. And the “millions of years” argument isn’t a cop out. It’s a fact that evolution takes generations at a minimum and far longer in most cases to be readily noticeable. We can see it happening in organisms that breed much faster, like pathogens which evolve constantly in response to selective pressures… especially antibiotics. Changes have also been witnessed in more complex organisms, like the finches of the Galapagos Islands. They have slight reproductively isolating conditions as different variations of the bird exist and breed on different islands where conditions are slightly different. Scientists have measured differences in the sizes of beaks as a response to the changing environment.

    And while I keep using the word “response” in my argument, I don’t mean to imply a conscious effort to adapt, or intervention by some supreme being. I simply mean that a selective pressure arises, a mutation that has occurred in the species becomes an advantage and that mutation is passed on since those with the mutation are more likely to survive and thus more likely to reproduce.

    “Evolution CANNOT SURVIVE debate and scrutiny in the public arena. They don’t want people THINKING about it and its many flawed claims; they just want FAITH in what the evolutionists say and acceptance of its claims. It is really a type of religion in itself!”

    It survives scrutiny just fine, especially when someone who is actually educated about it specifically is asked about it. And scientists are just fine with people thinking about it and questioning it. It’s how we learn, actually.

    “If you had truth on your side, you would welcome debate and open thinking on the matter. In addition, you show a lack of respect for those who have different conclusions about life.”

    Actually, we do welcome debate. There is plenty of debate about evolution within the scientific community and especially so when it comes to the evolution of human beings. There are two prevailing ideas about how long ago homo sapiens actually emerged and debate about which idea is better supported can be very intense. Check out the Anthropological Association of America meetings some time. You’ll see plenty of questioning of ideas, methods and conclusions… but all of it is done in a scientific way, meaning using actual evidence to find natural explanations for the phenomena being witnessed.

    Point is, while we know evolution is the way in which life changes, we are less certain about exactly how it led from point A to point Z. The question isn’t whether we evolved from a common ancestor with other great apes. The fossil record is quite clear on that. Take a biological anthropology course some time if you’re curious about why we continue to point to it. There is no missing link, there are no enormous gaps in the record. There is a slow and steady path of evolution over millions of years. And despite your attempt to paint a different picture, we have many methods for accurately dating these fossils. Carbon dating, radiometric dating, examining strata in the earth to name a few… The question is why did we evolve from that common ancestor? And that is where the difference between science and religion comes in.

    “The claim that education is threatened by those who have a creationist point of view is absolutely stupid. Not long ago in the past many scientists were creationists, and did just fine, as did the rest of the world, thank you.”

    So we should repress the growth of our understanding of how the world works simply because everyone was getting by just fine? Had we not pushed our understanding, we’d never have developed antibiotics, which have greatly increased the life expectancy of our species. Sure, we were getting by just fine without them, but now we live far longer and more productive lives. Our qualify of life is greatly enhanced because we weren’t content with “just fine.”

    And yes, plenty of scientists were creationists… long long ago. But what you fail to point out is that very few are today because of the fact that we know so much more about the world and how it works today. Again, I point to the difference between religion and science. Science answers how… religion picks up with “why?”

    You say that creationism threatening education is absurd. But it’s not. It’s quite a danger to our continued growth in understanding the how of the world around us. If our children are not taught what science is by being forced to entertain non scientific world views in their science classrooms, how can they continue to grow our understanding of the world when they become the scientists studying it? I’ll repeat my point from my last post. How is creationism scientific? Without looking for natural explanations for the phenomena we see around us, we’re not talking about science any more? The very definition of science demands natural answers, not supernatural.

    Creationism requires a belief in the supernatural, and thus cannot be tested through science. So while I have no objection to teaching it in a philosophy course or a social studies course when discussing prevalent world views, I am staunchly against it even being mentioned in a science classroom. We need to teach our children science in a science classroom, not religion.

  • http://www.scilogue.com Jeff

    I went to public school in rural Texas. It was the WORST setback of my entire life. I have spent the majority of my adult life recuperating from being punished for demanding knowledge and freedom.

  • Greg Fish

    Creationists don’t have to prove their point or play by someone else’s rules on what is scientific.

    Oh isn’t that convenient? They just get to say whatever the want and we’re supposed to take it as truth without a shred of evidence or logic, and if we question them, we’re just lying and distorting things. How do you like that? Creationists get to create a big double standard that favors their beliefs. How open-minded and objective…

    They are not the ones who are dominating the science textbooks with science fiction.

    No, they just dominate religious books with the story of a magical deity who created everything in one fell swoop and if you question that idea, you go to Hell and demand that everyone obeys their whims or risks God’s wrath…

    Good example in the article above: name calling and sarcasm and very little science.

    You, my good sir, wouldn’t know science if it bit you on the nose and held on for dear life. Your approach to how creationists get to define science according to their whim make that abundantly clear. However, if you took a moment to look at the topic list on the top of the sidebar, you’d notice about a hundred posts on evolution and they have plenty of science to go around when creationists criticize something concrete. How scientific is calling a huge theory “a bunch of hooey” and what am I supposed to do to argue with that imbecilic blanket condemnation?

    Life has not been observed comining from inorganic material.

    Evolution is the change of life. If you don’t know the difference between chemistry and biology when it comes to the evolutionary theory, it’s very hard to take the ridicule you parrot from creationist blogs and books seriously.

    Randon mutations have never been shown to evolve a species into a higher and more complex form of life. This is not observed today, and claims that it has been proven in the fossil record is based on the good imagination and bias of scientists

    The idea of “higher forms of life” is a colloquial notion and when you declare that any evidence to prove you wrong is just in people’s imagination, well it’s awfully hard for us to call your critique as open-minded as you presented it in your introduction. As I said before, you wouldn’t know science if it kicked you in the shins.

    The probability of bad or adverse mutations is so high that out fossil record should be filled with such examples, and some should be seen today.

    And they are. Have you ever watched Discovery Health and all the bizarre mutations and genetic conditions they show? Have you ever seen some of the popular science stories about animals showing strange mutations which seem to be echoes of their evolutionary ancestry, or just plain weird? Let me guess. You haven’t. You were way too busy being in denial for your religious validation.

    Your dating is based on several assumptions, and if any of the assumptions are not true, your theory collapses in a pile of bones.

    And yet no one has proved those assumptions wrong. In fact, most of those who do can’t even get the dating methods correctly. As for creationists, do I even have to say that their entire worldview is built on an assumption that involved a magical being in white tunics crafting the world to his liking and if their assumption is false, then their entire universe collapses into nothing? We can show a fossil. Can you show a fossil of a god or actual proof that the word was created?

    Evolution CANNOT SURVIVE debate and scrutiny in the public arena.

    But it has for the last 150 years. Typing historical falsehoods in all caps doesn’t turn your fantasy into reality. It just makes you look ignorant and angry.

    they just want FAITH in what the evolutionists say and acceptance of its claims. It is really a type of religion in itself!

    Ok, admit it, you’re just copy-pasting this junk from an incoherent rant you found on a creationist blog. Scientists have evidence, You just said flat out that you will refuse to consider it, refuse to see it and refuse to provide any of your own. For you to then try and accuse the very discipline who you fervently admit to ignoring outright of being a religion in itself is a ridiculous exercise in hypocrisy.

    If you had truth on your side, you would welcome debate and open thinking on the matter.

    Oh of course. I wouldn’t try to shout from the rooftops how I don’t have to provide any evidence of my own, dismiss centuries of research as being in the “imagination and bias” of the other side and lie about basic historical facts. You know, like you did as you were perusing an open-minded debate…

    you show a lack of respect for those who have different conclusions about life.

    Yes, I’m so mean and disrespectful to those who want everyone to share their views, regardless of whether their targets are willing or not, then cry persecution when they don’t get their way, slandering everyone who dares question their platitudes…

    Not long ago in the past many scientists were creationists, and did just fine, as did the rest of the world, thank you.

    Yeah, but you see, science advances. To hold it back with forced ignorance will put you behind the curve. Today, science has the evolutionary theory and you ignore the implications it carries for medicine, agriculture and other applications at your peril.

    I have done much reading on both sides of the question…

    Excuse me while I don’t believe you after considering your outburst here.

    and heard several good debates on the subject (back in the time when evolutionists were not afraid to debate).

    Yeah, I’m going to call foul again. The debate has been going on for 150 years and the only original thing creationists have contributed to the discussion was adding a few pseudoscientific words to their wailing. After a while, debating with a brick wall gets tiresome, especially when that brick wall has a vested interest in denialism.

    Your evolutionary theory is full of holes.

    Says the objective scholar who merely had to demand that he wouldn’t be held to any form of scientific standard and the right to dismiss any and all evidence at his whim to make that statement, ironically while calling for an honest, open-minded debate. I just wonder, do you consider fighting someone you tied up and hit on the head with a tire iron right before the fight fair? Because looking at your attitude in this comment, I have a feeling that the answer would be yes.

  • D.W.

    Science states that for anything to be created, five things must be present:

    Time – Force – Action – Space and Matter These are facts.

    Genesis 1:1 states all five of these factors as God spoke into existence all the creation

    Time = Beginning, Force = God, Action = Created, Space = Heavens (plural) and Matter = earth

    Who first named the earth, earth?
    Who first gave names to the animals? The Bible gives Adam credit.
    Who named man, man? Woman, woman?
    Who named darkness, night?

    Friend, as you are screaming out to God from hell for relief, think of how many people you will have called into having your same fate. Better to have lived trusting in God’s care and wisdom than to have no hope of any life after you die. You death bed is no place to begin living a life of God’s choosing. The Bible and it’s miracles are creditable enough to show God’s creative abilities. May God bless. D.W.

  • D.W.

    I taught High School Biology for sixteen years and never had a problem with students, parents or faculty members about teaching the theories of evolution and comparing them to the Bible. I spent one day reviewing evolutionary theories then one day discussing the days of Biblical creation and comparing them to the sequence of evolutionary eras discussed in the biology text.

    Ironically, we learned the eras of evolutionary time and the of Biblical creation events in the Bible occured in the same sequence. The Bible, geology, and biology really agree with each other. What an accident! I spent a third day pointing out scientific facts that occured in the Bible long before they were discovered by mankind. The kids liked the lessons, both evolution and creation were discussed and kids were allowed to make up their own minds about how the earth came to be.

    Since you have an atheist’s heart, please don’t continue to damage the minds of young people with unproven theories. Give the kids credit for their ability to make up their own minds based on all the facts, not just your rants and negative name calling of individuals who do not think as you do.

    Just because God raised your two front feet off the ground does not make you smart enough to belittle others who believe God gave mankind the ability to put one foot in front of the other as a means of living on His earth.

  • Greg Fish

    … we learned the eras of evolutionary time and the of Biblical creation events in the Bible occured in the same sequence. The Bible, geology, and biology really agree with each other.

    Really? So you massaged science to validate your religion in front of your students? And you realy didn’t have any problems doing that in a religious community? Oh, you don’t say… And by the way, thanks for being a perfect front and center example of how science should not be taught in school because you think God told you to do it. In my future posts about self-serving theists forcing kids to study their fantasies instead of fact, you’re going to be Exhibit A.

    Biblical creation is not compatible with modern science. It requires that water exists before the actual creation of the universe, that stars are created after the Sun (which is a star by the way), and that fish and land animals are created at the same time, an assertion which disagrees with the evidence we have of fish coming first. To put it as plainly as I can, you made it up to justify your religious beliefs in class in violation of the Establishment Clause and got away with it because you preached the religion of the community in class.

    I spent a third day pointing out scientific facts that occured in the Bible long before they were discovered by mankind.

    And considering that every single example of this method of proselytizing I’ve heard and seen so far relies on massaging Biblical quotes to say something they don’t, I’m going to call foul on this as well.

    Since you have an atheist’s heart, please don’t continue to damage the minds of young people with unproven theories.

    Right, because the sky man who creates the world out of nothing is such a solid and well proven theory that you can hold it alongside two centuries worth of research and peer review of fossil evidence? The blatant hypocrisy is downright amazing.

    Give the kids credit for their ability to make up their own minds based on all the facts

    By which you mean distortions you use to justify your religion in class because that’s exactly what you did.

    not just your rants and negative name calling of individuals who don’t think as you do.

    I’m not going to pat shameless proselytizers on the back. You haven’t done anything to be proud of and I’m not going to be civil about lying in the classroom so you could hold on to your personal fantasies of the world. Why I’m supposed to be civil as you spout off ignorance and self-serving pseudoscience is beyond me.

    You whine about how I’m belittling believers but tell me not to “damage the minds of children,” spout fallacies and say I’m not smart enough to ridicule what you say or do. Once again, the hypocrisy is blatant and glaring. Oh and did you forget you damned me to hell in your first comment? I’d advise you to get off your high horse before you start telling others to do the same.

  • DamianD

    “Since you have an atheist’s heart, please don’t continue to damage the minds of young people with unproven theories. Give the kids credit for their ability to make up their own minds based on all the facts, not just your rants and negative name calling of individuals who do not think as you do.”

    First of all, evolution is as proven as anything else in science. It’s as tested and accepted as gravity. Are you going to argue that gravity is unproven and shouldn’t be taught in science classrooms without an alternative idea from the bible to compare and contrast it to?

    Second, you say we need to give children the facts. A fact is something we know to be true. The only way to prove an idea as a fact is to test it and retest it until we can be as certain as is possible that our idea is actually factual. Because this requires testing, we cannot do anything to prove the belief that God created all as anything more than a belief/idea. Unless you have a way to test for the existence of God, and then also test for evidence that God actually did create all.

    Third, faith, by definition is belief in something despite a lack of evidence. Faith in God, and in turn anything God has supposedly done, inherently lacks evidence and cannot be claimed as scientific or logical fact. Therefore, assuming your insistence on using facts in our classrooms, there is no logical argument you can make that creationism belongs in any science class.

    Quoting scripture, by the way, is invoking faith, not fact. If you believe the Bible is the word of God (ignoring the role of man for a moment, a fallible and biased creature in its writing), you are using faith to back that belief up… not facts, as there is no physical evidence that the Bible is the word of God, who cannot be proven scientifically to exist.

    Damn me to hell if you like, it doesn’t change the fact that your argument is based on faith and is unprovable by any means available to us.

  • idiot

    How could there be a heaven where you have to eternally sit and know that some of your best friends and loved ones are suffering eternally in hell separate from you? I’d rather suffer with my loved ones than blissfully masturbate in the prison of heaven.

  • D.W.

    Consider that the Bible is a collection of 40 different writers over a period of 1600 years. These writers all have one theme that is focused on the birth of Jesus and the era of Christianity which is to last until the end of earthly time.

    The Book of Job was written about 2000 – 1800 B.C. and points out the earth is hung on nothing.
    Job 26:7

    Moses stated that in the beginning all the seas were in one place and the land was together in one place. This is before Continental Drift began. Genesis 1:9-10

    Solomon stated all water flows to the sea, yet the seas are not full. This was before the Water Cycle was understoond by meterologist. Ecclesiastes 1:7 Solomon was never able to see an evening weather report so how did he know about the water cycle.

    All people are of the same blood. Human blood is different from the blood of all other creatures on the earth. Leviticus 17:11, Deuteronomy 12:23, Acts 17:26 There are different blood types but human blood is distinguished from all non-human blood. It has only been 200 years since medicine has understood that a person’s life is in his blood. Blood letting was practiced on George Washington, Instead of giving him life, medical people were bleeding out his life.

    Mountains and valleys were seen under the ocean’s surface by Job many years before the aqua lung was discovered. Jonah 2:6 Written about 785 – 760 B.C.

    Egyptian spears and chairots with gold plated spokeks have been photographed at the bottom of the Dead Sea where Moses and the Israelites escaped to get away from the Egyptians. Exodus 14:21-28

    What is the secret of the snow? Job 38:22 The secret of the snow is as it falls through the atmosphere, the snow absorbs nitrogen in the air and when the snow melts the farmers get a free fertilizer application on the ground. Farmers today pay big bucks to have nitrogen put on their crops.

    All creatures reproduce after their own kind. Genesis 1:21-25 Moses did not know about chromosome numbers but thanks to Watson and Crick we know today that animals of different species cannot reproduce with each other because the chromosome numbers must be the same for conception to occur. Each “kind “of animal group had its own number of chromosomes.

    Oceanography was developed when a man was reading Psalms 8:8 and read words saying “the paths of the sea.” He said, “If the Bible says there are paths in the sea, then I will find them.” He became the father of oceanography because of a Biblical statement he proved to be true.

    Wind currents were written about by Solomon in Ecclesiastes 1:6. He got it right. How did he know about wind currents when he had never been to the poles or understood the concept of hot air rising and cooler air falling downward. Information written about 935 B.C.

    Just understanding the anatomy of the human body and how it works is enough to convert anyone with an open mind. To understand mitosis and meiosis should be enough for any person to see the wisdom of God’s ability to create and maintain itself. How could all this technical activity just happen by accident? Human eyes see in color and have pupils that adjust to light and darkness. If you were creating a man, would you have put that feature on him?

    I could go on and on, but as a wrap, what has God created after making the woman from Adam’s rib? You will have to admit she is still a prime rib. Nothing new since Eve has been created upon the earth. Yes, Cocker Spaniels were not created by God but developed as a result of selective breeding from earlier dogs. Yet, even today all canines develop after their own kind, because they continue to have the same number of chromosomes.

    Friend, I did not commit you to hell but that is the place creationist believe people go who do not want to associate with God. How can you feel you are being committed to hell by me when you insist is does not exist? You believe all life will be like our Cocker Spaniel who was run over by a car several years ago, decomposed and that’s it. If God can make all the things on this earth, me included, then He can make an everlasting heaven. If He can make an eye, He can make a heaven. You nor I can do neither but I do have a hope of a future, do you want yours to end here on earth. If you want, I will be glad to point out scripture that will help you discover God’s plan. DW.

  • DamianD

    The passages from the Bible you quote can all certainly be interpreted as indicating an understanding of science far beyond the time they were written, but they can all be attributed to phenomena that were observable at the time as well. I won’t go into each and every one, as this would be an enormous response, but I’ll use one or two to illustrate my point.

    “All creatures reproduce after their own kind. Genesis 1:21-25 Moses did not know about chromosome numbers but thanks to Watson and Crick we know today that animals of different species cannot reproduce with each other because the chromosome numbers must be the same for conception to occur. Each “kind “of animal group had its own number of chromosomes.”

    It’s not difficult to observe the fact that animals do not produce offspring with a different species. You don’t need to understand genetics to know that a cat and a dog can’t mate and produce viable offspring. It never happens, therefore it is logical to guess that it can’t happen. No where does the bible talk about chromosomes, so I don’t see why you feel the need to attribute that level of understanding to that particular quote.

    “Wind currents were written about by Solomon in Ecclesiastes 1:6. He got it right. How did he know about wind currents when he had never been to the poles or understood the concept of hot air rising and cooler air falling downward. Information written about 935 B.C.”

    Understanding weather patterns doesn’t take much beyond observation over long periods of time. Typically, storms move through an area in the same direction. There is variation, but weather patterns, especially the way storm clouds move, tends to be predictable. Here in southern New England, most storms move from the Southwest toward to Northeast. I’ve only been alive for 31 years and I don’t need a degree in meteorology to know that. Wind currents being discussed in the Bible could simply be someone noticing a pattern of how the weather behaved over a period of time and drawing some potential conclusions (forming a hypothesis) from those observations.

    That’s the first step in the scientific method, interestingly enough.

    There are a lot of passages in the Bible that can be interpreted in various ways, but again… citing them is not pointing to facts. It’s pointing to your interpretation of words that were written centuries ago, or more, which is based on your biases and beliefs. There is nothing factual about anything you wrote in your previous post. And that’s not a slight against you, it’s simply pointing out that everything you wrote is interpretive and requires a belief in God to make sense.

    Circular logic doesn’t prove anything.

    “I could go on and on, but as a wrap, what has God created after making the woman from Adam’s rib? You will have to admit she is still a prime rib. Nothing new since Eve has been created upon the earth. ”

    Nothing new has been created? Plenty of pathogens have been created since human beings first emerged. So that statement is simply not true. There are diseases that exist today that there is no evidence of centuries ago. Some of them were created in labs by human beings.

    Also, are you a Bible literalist? Do you actually believe that Adam and Eve were the first human beings on Earth, or do you see that story as a metaphor? There is zero archeological evidence that human beings suddenly appeared on the planet one day, fully evolved and ready to go. On the other hand, there are volumes and volumes of published work proving that human beings evolved.

    Even the Catholic Church accepts that evolution is proven. The Vatican’s official stance is that God created evolution and allowed it to bring us about eventually. That’s still misguided in my opinion, as evolution is not a process with a goal, it’s simply responsive to the environment around it. But the point is, even the head of the Catholic Church realizes and accepts that at best, the Bible is symbolic, not literal. The world is not 6,000 years old. This has been proven beyond any doubt.

    Even if God did exist, the Bible would be nothing more than a guide written in a way that people without an in depth scientific understanding of the world around them could grasp and in turn pass on to those around them. Telling the prophets that the universe was roughly 14 billion years old at a time when the idea of “one billion” was incomprehensible to the average person (if not everyone) would have been pointless. Telling a more simple story makes more sense, since people are more likely to understand it and share it.

    And keep in mind that the Bible contradicts itself quite often. There are two genesis stories, for example. They give different accounts of the order in which things happened. Which one is true and if one isn’t true, how can we be sure other things in the Bible aren’t true as well?

    There were also hundreds of gospels at one point. One man, Irenaeus of Lyons, decided that only four of them were truly gospels. Why did he get to decide what was Christianity and what wasn’t? How can you be so sure that his decision was divine will rather than a play for power? The evolution of the Bible is filled with examples like this and if at any point in the countless adjustments, translations and editing someone was acting of their own selfish will rather than God’s then the Bible you read today can’t be considered purely God’s word. Not with any real certainty, at least.

    “Yes, Cocker Spaniels were not created by God but developed as a result of selective breeding from earlier dogs. Yet, even today all canines develop after their own kind, because they continue to have the same number of chromosomes.”

    Canines are an example of evolution at work… although, it’s an artificial example as the selective pressures applied were through controlled breeding, rather than environmental changes that favored specific traits. By selecting specific traits, man was able to take wolves and turn them into the hundreds of breeds of dogs we see today. From tiny yipping dogs to enormous dogs the size of small bears, all of that was shaped by an artificial form of evolution, and serves as a modern day example of how that process can work.

    “Just understanding the anatomy of the human body and how it works is enough to convert anyone with an open mind. To understand mitosis and meiosis should be enough for any person to see the wisdom of God’s ability to create and maintain itself. How could all this technical activity just happen by accident?”

    You say you taught high school biology, but I have to wonder what it was that you actually taught when you went over evolution as you clearly don’t grasp the concept fully. I don’t mean to insult you, but your question at the end of that paragraph suggests you don’t know how evolution actually works, as it’s not simply an accident. It’s anything but an accident.

    I’ve already explained this, but I’ll do so again. Evolution has two main components. One is mutation, which is random. Most mutations are harmful or lethal, but those few that aren’t will exist in an organism or multiple organisms if the trait is passed on to several generations. The second component of evolution is natural selection. Natural selection occurs when a specific trait that an organism has suddenly becomes an advantage because of some environmental change.

    Maybe it’s a pathogen that’s wiping out the population, but five or ten percent of the organisms in that population have a high resistance to it or an immunity. Maybe it’s shorter, harder beaks that are better for cracking seeds when the area warms up and the previous food supply runs out. Maybe it’s having eyes that face more to the front than the sides, providing a little bit of depth perception which allows an organism to better judge when a predator is approaching them. Whatever the advantage is, it helps that organism to reproduce since it helps them to survive longer than those without it.

    That process is not an accident, it’s a series selective events allowing specific traits to thrive, which more often than not improve an organism’s ability to survive and reproduce. Over billions of years, this eventually resulted in human beings walking the Earth. It’s a long and complicated path back to the beginning, but that path is fairly clear.

    “Human eyes see in color and have pupils that adjust to light and darkness. If you were creating a man, would you have put that feature on him?”

    This is another statement you’ve made that made me wonder about your biology classroom. Do you mind if I ask what your qualifications for teaching high school biology are? The human eye is extremely complex, yes, but it’s not hard to see the development of that organ, even if we just look at organisms alive today. There are simple aquatic organisms that simply have a bundle of nerves clustered that can detect shifts in light, but nothing more. There are organisms that have the ability to make out shapes, but nothing more. Some can make them out with more clarity, some in color, some with depth perception. The way the eye has developed can be traced through organisms from that tiny cluster of nerves to the organ that human beings enjoy using.

    I had a professor when I was in college who used a brief story to make a point about evolution that responds to the idea that human beings are too complex to have evolved, and I think it pretty relevant here. He said: If a student walked into his class on a Friday and told him that they were leaving school because they were going to win Powerball the next night and would be dropping out of school to move to some tropical island, he’d laugh it off and assume the student would be in class on Monday. What are the odds of that actually happening? According to Powerball’s website, the odds of winning the jackpot are 1 in 195,249,054. So the odds of someone actually predicting they were going to win that jackpot on the eve of the night they actually won it would probably be exponentially higher. So high, in fact, I’m not sure how to even represent it in a number we could truly grasp.

    So if Monday came along and that student wasn’t in class because they had actually been right, he wouldn’t sit there and tell himself it didn’t happen because the odds of it happening were so high against it. The fact of the matter would be that it did happen, despite the odds.

    Human beings evolving was not an accident, but neither was it guided by a divine hand. The odds against us being here today arguing about this in a virtual forum were extremely high. Again, probably so high that we can really grasp the true weight of the number. But we are here, and we can clearly see how evolution led us to be here.

    Denying it because of the complexity of the human body or the odds against it evolving isn’t based on anything tangible. It’s based on starting with the belief in God, which brings us full circle back to circular logic.

    “Friend, I did not commit you to hell but that is the place creationist believe people go who do not want to associate with God. ”

    Whether you did so maliciously or not, you did condemn me to Hell for not believing as you do. Your belief system says that if I don’t follow what you follow, I will go to hell. And you made it a point to tell us that we will be screaming to God from Hell for mercy because we think differently than you. So you may have done so politely, but you did condemn us to Hell. And the only reason for it is that we don’t accept your opinion on how the world came to be as fact.

    So tell me, which of us has the closed mind, again? I’m open to entertaining actual evidence to back up Creationism. Something tangible that can be tested and retested. Something that can be examined in the scientific community through the scientific method. But no one has ever produced any such evidence that has stood up to any kind of scrutiny in that arena. I’m as open minded as they come, but I’m also a skeptic by nature. So bring me any claim you want to make, but bring it with actual evidence.

    “You nor I can do neither but I do have a hope of a future, do you want yours to end here on earth. If you want, I will be glad to point out scripture that will help you discover God’s plan.”

    Do I want my existence to end here on Earth? No, I don’t. But I can’t do anything about that. At best, I could lie to myself about a belief in God, which wouldn’t change anything after I die. Even if I’m wrong, I’d still be going to Hell because I would never truly believe in God. Of course, I don’t believe that Heaven or Hell exist and that when I die I will simply return to the Earth and rot. And you know what? There’s something both calming and motivating about that. I accept that one day I will cease to exist, so I live my life in a way that I can both truly enjoy and find meaningful as well as in a way that I hope will leave some kind of mark on the world around me.

    I’m not content to simply wait out this existence hoping for a better one to greet me at the end of a long white tunnel.

    And you don’t need to point me to any specific part of the Bible. I’m quite familiar with it, actually. I grew up a Catholic, went to Catholic school for 11 years, sang in a choir for 4 and was an alter boy at two different Catholic churches for 5. I’ve spent quite a bit of time researching the history of Christianity and several other religions (I find them fascinating socially) over the years and have a pretty strong grasp on many of them.

    I’m probably better versed in the supposed word of God than many practicing Christians, and I’d wager I know more about how that book (or any of the dozens of current variations of it) came to be than most of them.

    My decision to be an atheist is very much an informed one.

  • E.C.

    One real quick question, is not both religion and science a matter of “faith”? The way I see it neither one can explain how life came to be, “big bang” or “creationism”.

  • DamianD

    Not having every answer to every question does not make science a matter of faith. Science is a proven method of expanding our knowledge of the universe and how it works. Pretty much everything we enjoy today is a result of the fact that science works. The computer you used to connect to the internet and post that question… a result of science working. The car you drive to work? Science. The medicine you take when you get a cold or an infection? Science. The house or building you live in that’s nice and warm during the winter or cool in the summer? Science.

    The scientific method has brought us an incredibly in depth understanding of the way things work and allowed us to manipulate our environment in unbelievable ways. That isn’t a matter of faith, it’s a matter of knowledge. Nothing about faith can be proven, by it’s very nature.

    Also, the big bang and evolution are two completely different ideas. Evolution doesn’t try to tell us how life began, it simply tells us how life changes. Not knowing specifically how life started does not preclude us from knowing the way in which it evolved, and continues to evolve today.

  • http://www.fark.com Franklin

    D.W., if the Bible is so scientifically advanced, then explain to me why it tells me that bats are birds, that rabbits chew cud, that there is a firmament on top of the Earth, which the Bible says is disc-shaped?

    The Bible, or at least the Old Testament, was written by bronze-age shepherds, farmers and goat herders. I have trouble believing they knew more about the Earth and its processes than people who study those things for a living.

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  • Greg Fish

    @D.W. Oh how I love the Gish gallop. It’s so easy to flood someone with quotes and references to Biblical verses which require so much research and write-up, most will just not bother, knowing that another deluge will come at them. It doesn’t have to be accurate or even make sense, as long as there’s lost of material to throw around. Of course the problem here is that random snippets of Biblical passages are elevated to the status of their own, self-contained message, which is at odds with how all the letters and books composing it were written to be read.

    Am I going to try and explain the mistakes you made in equating them to real events and scientific discoveries? Of course I will, but since this is going to be an argument made again and again, I’m going to do it in a fully fledged post to give my readers a peek into what a real creationist science class is like. Again, thanks for being a good example of how we’re lowering the educational bar to appease religious zealots.

    Just understanding the anatomy of the human body and how it works is enough to convert anyone with an open mind.

    No, it’s enough to convert anyone who desperately wants to believe in something and will use just about anything that looks complicated to him as evidence. I could argue with the same kind of logic that the shape of the intestines in the human body was a signature of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and a sign that it was he who created us. I have no proof for this, but I will imply that unless you believe me, you’re just being an arrogant, close-minded jerk who’s going to go to Pasta Hell for his heresy.

    To understand mitosis and meiosis should be enough for any person to see the wisdom of God’s ability to create and maintain itself.

    Just like sunsets, vinegar and baking soda volcanoes and the asteroid that killed off the dinosaurs, possibly along with the Deccan Traps. What you’re telling me is that in your mind a saying “you can see the glory of God in [blank]” is a convincing argument with little regard for what the blank actually is. You’re not showing me evidence. You are just trying to justify your faith for personal validation. Well guess what? You could have all the faith you want in whatever deity makes you happy. All I ask is that instead of beating kids over the head with it out of your need to be a prophet to the masses, you actually let the make up their own minds just like you say I should do. After all, if the argument for God is so persuasive, just the peer-reviewed facts should be more then enough to convince them…

    Friend, I did not commit you to hell but that is the place creationist believe people go who do not want to associate with God. How can you feel you are being committed to hell by me when you insist is does not exist?

    Don’t call me friend. Self-righteous proselytizers who say that I’ll be calling for God in Hell after realizing how wise they are are anything but my friends. And in case you’re not getting it through your head, it’s not your reference to Hell that got me going, it’s your obnoxious holier-then-thou attitude with which you parade ignorance as a viable alternative to knowledge.

    Oh and just one little question. In the entire post, never did I once call the existence of any deity into question. So how do you know what I believe or don’t believe other than from the stereotypical evangelizing spiel to which you automatically reverted? What I believe is irrelevant because all that matters in this discussion are the facts of which you seem to have no real command.

    One real quick question, is not both religion and science a matter of “faith”?

    @E.C. If you’re a post-modernist New Ageist, sure. If you’re not then no because you don’t believe in science. You use it to form your opinions. Do you believe that planes and cars exist? No. You can see them for yourself. Do you believe that you have little wings growing out of your shoulder blades? Maybe. But can you see them? No. And that’s the difference between science and belief. You use science to figure out what you don’t know and belief to justify what you want to be true.

  • D.W.

    It is obvious your ignorance of science is superceded by your ignorance of the Bible. However, I have gleened from your comments that I need to be more fervent in my efforts to make positive all students understand the evidences supporting the existance of God and His creation. Your comments will spur me onward to that goal.

    You remind me of a poem by Elizabet Barrett Browning as she describes believers and non-believers.

    Earth’s crammed with Heaven
    And every common bush afire with God,
    But only he who sees takes off his shoes.
    The rest sit around it and pluck blackberries.

    You have been taught by someone to think of today only, while others have trust in today and a heavenly tomorrow. What damage is done by giving God credit for creating the earth and making sure all things work together for the benefit of all. Animals inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide while plants use the exhaled carbon dioxide to make oxygen for the animals to stay alive on the earth. Is this a small creative matter or and accident of nature? Would you have had enough wisdom to create that symbiotic relationship? The more one understands nature the more one can appreciate God’s creative wisdom. If you were a super Christian all your life then died and discovered there was no God, would your end be any different than what you presently believe? Christians have a belief in a future while non-christians give believers a tough time for just thinking there is a heaven after living on the earth. What is wrong with believing in a future after death? Does it hurt anything or anyone? Why do atheist go out of their way to attack Christians? Seems only Christianity gets bashed, not the cultural religions from around the world.

    By the way, my life consist of staying married to one wife and raising children in a church situation where they learn morals and things to abstain from and values to intergrate into their lives. We have been blessed greatly for just trying to live by God’s teachings. I have no regrets and look forward to an endless heaven. Fortunately I believe in God and His promises, but if He did not exist I have been far better off to have lived by the teachings in the Bible. But we have more and a future. D.W.

  • DamianD

    “Animals inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide while plants use the exhaled carbon dioxide to make oxygen for the animals to stay alive on the earth. Is this a small creative matter or and accident of nature?”

    There’s that word again… accident. I’m reminded of a quote from the movie The Princess Bride.

    “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

    Nothing about evolution is an accident. It’s quite the opposite as traits are selected for in response to specific changes in the environment. It makes perfect sense that life forms whose respiratory waste is the exact gas needed for the each other to breath would develop on the same planet. I’m not a geologist, so I don’t have more than a guess the exact order in which things developed here on Earth as life was emerging, but if life that expelled carbon dioxide existed first, that creates a selective pressure that would favor life which uses carbon dioxide in respiration. The same would be true if that was reversed. The existence of one favors the other, so of course they would evolve together.

    “What damage is done by giving God credit for creating the earth and making sure all things work together for the benefit of all.”

    No damage is done by bringing your children to church or even discussing these ideas in a religion or even social studies course. The damage is done when people like you present your beliefs as science in a classroom. You take precious time away from students that could be used to actually learn science and you fill their heads with confusing contradictions rather than allowing them to learn how the world has been proven to work.

    If you want an example of how that can lead to serious negative impacts, take a look at the fallout of the Butler Act, which forbid the teaching of any theory that denied the story of divine creation as taught in the Bible. In the 1920′s and early 1930′s many states passed similar laws (after the Scopes Trial the ACLU couldn’t convince other teachers to go against the law so they could fight it in court) and it wasn’t until 1958 that the National Education Defense Act was passed, ensuring that science text books would be written by scientists. It wasn’t until 1965 that the Butler Act was challenged again and in that time our educational system fell well behind the Soviet Union and we were beaten in the space race.

    It was that victory by the Soviets that inspired our leaders to finally step in and make sure that religion wouldn’t be taught as science any longer, and it took years to recover from the damage that was done.

    While you’re not advocating banning the teaching of evolution, you are diluting your classroom with religious preaching, and it has no place there. Our children aren’t being educated the way they should and it’s no wonder our school systems are lagging behind other countries. There was a news story in 2005 about this from cbsnews.com and it hasn’t improved.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/09/13/national/main838207.shtml

    Religious world views have no place in a science classroom, and it does cause harm to force them in there. No one is telling you that you can’t teach your children about God at home or in church. We’re telling you that there is nothing scientific about the belief that an all powerful being made everything in existence with nothing but his will. And to tell children otherwise is to do them a disservice, as they will leave school with confusion about how the world works, at best.

    “Why do atheist go out of their way to attack Christians? Seems only Christianity gets bashed, not the cultural religions from around the world.”

    We don’t go out of our way. You step right in front of us. None of the other religions are pushing to get their world views taught as science. If they were, we’d be just as opposed to it. Christians are the solitary cause of this debate. You’re not being picked on, you’re picking the fight and refusing to accept anything but your own narrow opinions can’t win it for you.

    There isn’t a single movement in congress or any government affiliated organization to prevent you from believing in whatever you want believe. No one is repressing your right to believe in God if you choose. So don’t act like you’re being hunted down and prosecuted. You’re going out of your way to force your world view on others and apparently you don’t like the backlash.

    I pulled my punches up until now, hoping to have an honest discourse with you. But you’re not interested in that. So I’ll tell you exactly what I think of you. You are a cancer in our school system. And if your approach to “teaching” spreads, it’s going to rot us from the inside.

  • Greg Fish

    It is obvious your ignorance of science is superceded by your ignorance of the Bible.

    @D.W. That comment was hilarious considering that you haven’t even tried to make scientific statements with any meaning behind them and hurled out Biblical quotes that don’t even say what you claim they do, or lack the meaning you put into them So your lack of knowledge and inability to cite the Bible in a way that would support your claims is a sign of my ignorance? I think you were really trying to say “I know you are but what am I?” but wanted to seem like you know what you’re talking about when it’s obvious that you don’t.

    I have gleened [sic] from your comments that I need to be more fervent in my efforts to make positive all students understand the evidences supporting the existance [sic] of God and His creation.

    So that’s how you’re going to teach science? When shown to be a self-appointed and pious theologian instead of a good science teacher, you’re just going to shout louder and overstep your bounds even more? Like I said, you’re not dispelling any ideas of creationist science teachers out there, or creationists in general for that matter.

    Seriously, spare me the high and mighty monologue about how inspired you are by your faith. You’re so inspired by it you’re going to ram it down people’s throats and in your quest to do so, any time someone points out that you’re wrong on demonstrable and factually demonstrated matters, you simply jam your finger further down your ear canal and scream louder not to hear anyone but the voices in your head. No matter how much you dispute it, you’ve denied your students a decent education solely for the sake of arrogant self-validation and to appease your messianic complex.

  • Loeck

    One question is not evolution an accident? I mean wasn’t it just happenstance that a monkey got shorter hair and it had a better chance at survival and that line continued. Wasn’t it just as possible that the monkey would get eaten before it could pass those genes on since the shorter hair had no advantage against predators? I’m not saying that there was a god in all this but you cant say that it wasn’t an accident, can you?

  • DamianD

    Saying evolution was an accident demonstrates a lack of understanding of what evolution is. Is there randomness involved? Certainly. Is the process random? No, absolutely not. There is chance in anything that happens in life, so that is not inherent to evolution and does not make it happenstance or an accident.

    One thing to keep in mind is that if only one member of a species has a mutation, and natural selection kicks in at that moment before that member of the species has passed that trait on, it’s almost assuredly too late for it to do any good. Mutations end up being passed on in a benign form for several generations before they’re in a position to help a species survive an environmental change that would make the new trait any kind of real advantage. That selective pressure is a vital part of the process, which I’ll go over again one more time.

    Evolution has two components and requires some specific things for it to happen. First, a random mutation must occur that isn’t overly harmful or lethal for the organism. Then an environmental change of some kind must occur that makes that mutation an advantage for those organisms that have it. Those that do have the mutation will be better suited to survive and will have more success in reproducing, passing that trait on to more generations, strengthening the species. This is how a species can grow over time.

    In order for new species to arise, however, a reproductive isolating mechanism is required; a physical separation of two groups of a species over a long period like a valley flooding or a river cutting an island in half. This allows the populations to evolve differently without interbreeding which can, in time, lead to two populations that grow differently for so long they can no longer breed and produce fertile offspring.

    Also, this may seem like a nit pick, but it’s really not… Humans didn’t evolve from monkeys, they evolved from a common ancestor we share with apes. Monkey’s have tails, apes do not, for starters. There are also size differences and social differences as well as a greater genetic separation.

    To the best of our knowledge at some point there was a branching off from that ancestor which gave rise to several species of ape, including chimpanzees, orangutans, bonobos and gorillas. This part we are as certain as we can possibly be about. What we are less certain about is exactly when certain traits developed in the evolution of human beings. But at some point, perhaps as much as 7 million years ago when Sahelanthropus tchadensis arose, which is the first real deviation from the great apes that we’ve found so far. It’s still up for debate exactly where in the tree of human ancestors this fossil belongs, though.

    About 3.2 million years ago, based on fossil evidence found in Java (look up “Lucy Fossil” if you want more information), we’re pretty sure that one of our ancestors which was far more ape-like than human, developed a mutation that led to the first bipedal locomotion (as a primary mode of movement) in a primate. It wasn’t until some time later that larger brains developed, and there are some interesting hypotheses about how that occurred. Personally, I subscribe to the idea that being upright allowed our ancestors to spot carcases from a greater distance, which increased the amount of protein in the diet… a likely requirement for the evolution of the brain into what we enjoy today.

    There is also an interesting line of research I read about a while back that human beings lack a specific enzyme that restricts brain size in other higher primates like the apes which may have been the mutation necessary for us to evolve into the critically thinking species we are today. But I’m getting a bit off point here.

    There is nothing accidental about evolution, and one member of a species being eaten by something during the process of natural selection shouldn’t derail the changes that a species may be undergoing, since in order for it to have a chance of surviving in the first place, that mutation must already exist in a certain portion of the population.

  • Loeck

    “since in order for it to have a chance of surviving in the first place, that mutation must already exist in a certain portion of the population.”
    @DamianD So your saying that for a NEW mutation to have a overall effect that it has to already be present in a portion of the population?

  • DamianD

    Yes, but only at the time when a selective pressure arises that turns that benign mutation into some kind of advantage. Mutations are the random part of evolution. There are plenty of mutations present in our species right now that don’t do anything in particular… or at least, nothing all that important. But they can become vital if our environment changes in a way that makes those mutations important.

    Mutations happen all the time. Most mutations are lethal to an organism before it ever has a chance to develop… and especially before they can procreate and pass them on. But some aren’t lethal or even all that harmful. They’ll exist, at first in the organism that it originated in, and then potentially in that organisms’s offspring. As generations pass, that mutation will be passed on to more and more offspring and the percentage of individuals in the population with that mutation will grow a bit. It takes generations and generations for this to happen, though.

    In most cases, mutations like that never become relevant. But sometimes an environmental change will happen that suddenly turns the previously useless mutation into an advantage of some kind. That advantage allows the organisms that have the mutation to survive better than those that don’t have it. And because they are more likely to survive the environmental change and actually procreate, the trait becomes more prevalent in the remaining population.

    Of course, the exception to this would be fast reproducing organisms like viruses. They don’t need a mutation like that to be present in more than a tiny sample of their population because they reproduce so fast they can still recover from a catastrophic decimation of their population. It’s one of the reasons viruses can be so difficult to beat and why they are constantly evolving beyond the drugs we use to fight them.

    But generally, at least with a significantly high selective pressure, like one that is killing large chunks of a population, if a mutation isn’t present within at certain amount of the population when that pressure arises, it’s probably too late for that new trait to make much of a difference. In the post above I was referring to the more hostile selective pressures which threaten a species with extinction, and probably should have been more clear.

    Hope that clears it up a bit.

  • RaggMopp

    Woof! DamianD, I knew about gfish’s marvelleous eclectcism, but you are either a biological scientist or a new rival for gfish’s title. I have nothing to add to your comments. Please take a bow.

    You probably already said this somewhere, in which case you may consider it a duly awed echo: Religion is all about faith. Science is the antithesis of faith, and it shows everyday within the scientific community. Somebody publishes, and a hundred departments of that discipline jump on it with both feet. Anybody who can blow this PhD from MIT right out of the water will soon be a tenured professor himself. One of the most persistent myths of the creationists is that the scientific community is just like the church heirarchy, conspiring to protect their cherished views. Yet quite the opposite is true. Take for instance Albert Einstein; he ruined a perfectly good gravitational theory that had stood for about 300 years, and immediately became the most famous and respected scientist on earth.

    Interesting anecdote, and it probably bears on the Darwinian Synthesis too: Story goes that early in the Apollo program NASA simply lacked the computing power to solve for spacecraft position in the nearly instantaneous timeframe required for the mission using Einsteinian equations. They found that at the miniscule velocities involved (as compared to the speed of light anyway) that the difference of position between that of the full Einsteinian solution and of a Newtonian solution was measured in centimeters. So they went with Newton until they got bigger computers. So Newton wasn’t really wrong, he just didn’t have as much data as Einstein. Darwin gets the credit because his was such a stunning leap, but no modern biologist thinks he had it ALL figured out.

  • DamianD

    @RaggMopp: I just completed my BA in anthropology, so it’s one of the few subjects Greg talks about here that I have something intelligent to say about. :) I haven’t decided if I’m going to pursue an PhD or not, but I have a little time to sort that out.

  • RaggMopp

    @DamianD: Jesus Kid, you owe it to your species! Please, please, please pursue your academic potential. Hell, if I had two nickels to rub together, I’d offer to help you myself; and my kids are still trying to pay off their student loans.

  • DamianD

    @RaggMopp: If I can find a way to keep the cost down to something I could have a prayer of paying off in my lifetime, that’s the plan. But even if I don’t, I won’t stop defending science. I may not be a PhD at this point, but I am a scientist.

  • RaggMopp

    Ooh, ooh! On the subject of a round earth. It was known in ancient Greece that the world was round about the time the Jews got out of Babylon. 600 BCE +/-. Erathosenes measured the diameter of the earth in 270 BCE, and only missed it by a few hundred miles. The church most dammed assuredly suppressed this.
    Copernicus published his theory on his deathbed, he didn’t want to burn. Between him and Galileo’s indescretion in 1620, there was another Italian guy who was burned at the stake for endorsing Copernicus’s blasphemy. The church really, really didn’t want to hear that the earth goes round the sun. Galileo was the most famous scientist in the world, at the time, and an Itailian, he’d invented the telescope for Christ”s sake, and the church really didn’t want to fry him too, that might look bad, so he was denounced for heresy and remitted to house arrest for life for his endorsement of Copernicus. Good thing the Catholic Church was defanged by Darwin’s time. Or at least in England.

  • DamianD

    It’s too bad they weren’t defanged around 391 when Alexandria was ransacked and one of the greatest repositories of knowledge that has ever existed was destroyed.

  • RaggMopp

    @DamianD: When I registered as a freshman at The University of Texas in 1958, my tuition was $25.00. I have no earthly idea what’s motivating the powers that be, but my guess would be elitism, yeah Republican Party plutocracy.
    On the other hand, why would you care if you die owing somebody a million dollars? Look around, nobody else does. As long as you can meet the payments and put them off forever, go for it.
    Good luck. You’ve got all God’s gonna give you.

  • DamianD

    Rampant fiscal irresponsibility is no excuse for choosing to also make poor financial decisions. :) I’m meeting with the Chairman of the anthropology department at the school I just graduated from to discuss some options in a few days. I’m looking into grants, financial aid and even possibly working at whatever school I could end up at to cut into the costs.

    I also need to take the GRE’s, so I may not even start grad school until a year from this fall at the earliest. I have time to sort it all out.

    I appreciate the encouragement, though.

  • D.W.

    Looks as if the Bible is getting a rap based on the Catholic Church’s decision to destroy people who disagree with Rome. The Bible and its interpretation does not belong only to the Catholic church…it belongs to all mankind. Do not disregard historical material recorded in the Bible just because you disagree with some church’s interpretation of its contents. The Bible does record centuries of historical facts, but one has to understand the Bible’s purpose. That purpose is to predict the coming of Jesus to earth, record his birth, death and resurrection and tell His story to future generations. No where in the Bible is any person condemmed for discovering and stating a scientific fact or expressing one’s view on a scientific subject. When religious institutions take it upon themselves to tell someone how to think about scientific facts it is overstepping the boundaries of the Bible. There are too many religious nuts that use churches to make themselves a living at the expense of making many people turn their backs on the Bible’s intentions for mankind. Jesus did not come to the earth to make sick people well. If he had, there would be no illnesses or diseases on earth. These pseudochristians cause a lot of people to be turned off to the Bible’s message about Jesus’ life on earth and I do not blame them.

    I fear too many scientist have had bad religious experiences somewhere in their lives and totally retaliate against everything the Bible records as a way getting even with parents, a church organization or society. The Bible is full in information about how to enjoy life on earth and get along with our fellow men and women.

  • DamianD

    @D.W. So now you’re not only claiming your beliefs are above scientific reproach, but you’re putting your beliefs above entire religious bodies? And don’t think that Christian denominations outside of the Catholic church are innocent. Plenty of people have been killed in the name of the Bible without any connection to Catholics.

    If anything, modern day Catholics are far better to deal with than many non-Catholic Christians, since they accept that the Bible is simply symbolic and not the literal word of God. They also accept that only science should be taught in classrooms, and that creationism is absolute bunk.

    But apparently you’re a greater authority on the Bible than the Vatican, so perhaps I shouldn’t question your word.

  • Intriguedbyexistence

    G fish, Suppose that tomorrow you were somehow privileged to discover that all we experience and call reality is in fact a grand illusion held together by an entity whose “intelligence” holds it all together in a seamless, perfect sphere of “existence”. I am curious… If that entity told you he had the means to preserve your very essence after your body died, complete with all your memories and wisdom gained…if that entity told you it would place you in a state of eternal depravity or maybe only simply delete your cognizance when your body died if you did not acknowledge it as your creator, what would your response to it be? What if it guaranteed that if you did accept it’s existence you would be given a new understanding and way of existing beyond what modern humans now understand? I am curious if you would rather figure out a way to get around that whole part about being denied further understanding after a physical-earthly death by attempting to develop a way to never die. I wonder what effect such a disclosure would have regarding the posture you might take toward such an entity? Pretend the only theoretical qualities for this entity are that it is more intelligent than you and can indefinitely preserve or permanently delete your essence at it’s choosing.

  • DamianD

    @intriguedbyexistence: What you’re describing is a tangible experience by which we would gain empirical evidence about this theoretical creator. And while the experience may be a one shot deal that wouldn’t be something you could retest, it would be the first actual evidence any of us would be faced with regarding an all powerful creator.

    So, in your hypothetical scenario, I would imagine many scientists would come out of it with a slightly altered sense of certainty about their world view, but since it wouldn’t be a scenario that could be tested and retested, I doubt many of us would suddenly decide that creationism should be taught in science classrooms. After all, the possibility that the experience was simply an hallucination or a sign we are losing our minds would have to be considered a probable explanation and thus we could not fully trust the experience to be real.

    It’s an interesting thought experiment, but it doesn’t change the hang up most of us have with creationism. It’s not something that can be tested, and thus is not scientific in the slightest.

    Now, if an all powerful creator made itself known to the world by coming to our world in tangible form and allowed for testing and retesting of its abilities, that might change things a bit. But until that happens, I (and I imagine many others) will continue to insist that creationists provide us some kind of testable evidence to back up their claims.

  • Greg Fish

    @Intrigued. What you seem to be doing here is trying to set up a rendition of Pascal’s Wager. In the last year and a half I saw this trick so many times, I’ve lost count. The big problem with your thought experiment here is that you didn’t show how it could be plausible and the world we’re discussing doesn’t have any connection to world which we inhabit. That renders the discussion moot.

    Now, if I found some sort of real, tangible evidence for a deity, say a 4 billion year old notebook detailing the basics of evolutionary processes on Earth and their near exact schedule, or found that all intelligent living things in the galaxy are extremely similar to us in body structure and appearance and all have these ancient design manuals that pre-date their worlds, I’d be convinced there’s some sort of a creator out there.

    And I would have far more respect for creationists and theists who actually spent their time looking for some of these concrete artifacts rather than stop their proof of God at the smiles of children or the love they feel in their heart when they look at a doughnut, or just outright demand that we believe them even though mortal are forbidden from evaluating their assertions by the very things they’re not allowed to prove or disprove.

  • RaggMopp

    @D.W.: Presuming you haven’t read my response to you under “saving kids from hell, one science class at a time,” I may here be somewhat repetitiouis. I hate that, but moving right along: If it weren’t for the Catholic Church, you’d never have heard of Christianity. It preserved the faith almost singlehandedly for a thousand years.

    Power corrupts, ultimate power corrupts untimately. That means that someone who has the power of life and death (ultimate power) will use it. Cardinal Richelieu responded, when asked “How shall we know whom to kill” (speaking about the protestant Huguenots of France), “Kill them all, God will know his own.” The Catholic Church definitely got out of control, but don’t think it was a result of evil monks; it was a result of enough power to kill with impunity. There are plenty of denominations in the USA today who would be glad to follow suit if they thought they could get away with it.

    There is almost no “historical material” recorded in the bible of the Jews, and your contention that the old testament is a lead-in for Jesus is nonsense. That’s a hangover from Catholic interpretation. And your assertion that the bible may be interpreted by anyone is a protestant contention bordering on pure fantasy. Have you read any literary, somethimes called higher, biblical criticism? Do you read ancient Hebrew? Has it ocurred to you that the gospels of the canon are not only a pitiful attempt to capture old testament prophesy for their own purposes, but contradict each other hillariously. Jesus was born to the house of David? How? Jesus was sired by an angel, so the lineage of his step-father Joseph is of no consequence whatsoever. Yet two attempt to trace Josephs lineage back to David, and they don’t agree. Please man, don’t get historical on me.

    How to get along with your fellow man, maybe. How to get along with your fellow woman? According to the bible: Keep ‘em barefoot and pregnant and make sure they don’t shoot off their mouthes in public places. Certainly keep them quiet in church. I like the idea, but don’t let this get back to my American wife, she’s a deacon of our church and a soloist in the choir, and she would not be amused.

    I will give you your due: When I was nine my grandmother, a good Texas Baptist, dragged me and my cousins to a tent revival meeting delivered by a fire and brimstone preacher. I got up in the middle of his sermon and marched out. I said, “If that’s who God is, f*** Him! I will not kiss the ass of some powermad Middle Eastern despot if it costs me my immortal soul.” When the meeting was over they found me sitting under a tree. Having not been struck dead, I still needed a ride home. However, later I had a couple truly evangelical experiences with God, and tried and tried to believe. I finally came to an accomodation: You leave me alone and I’ll leave you alone.

    But we’re now talking about science classes in biology, not faith, hope or charity. Teaching the bible in your biology class is surely as reprehensible as teaching the bible in algebra class, probably worse, ’cause you have these little brains opened up like saucers, and they are very unlikely to challenge you, regardless of what they think. You’re not teaching them to think for themselves, you’re inculcating, indoctrinating, prostylytizing, evangalizing on John Q’s dime, and to me that’s that’s tantamount to child abuse.

  • Ed B

    DW: “Genesis 1:1 states all five of these factors as God spoke into existence all the creation…”

    Whoa, stop right there.

    You telling me you can read Hebrew?

  • Bud

    Is there a God? Yes. My proof. I can not make a tree.
    There is something greater than myself.

    BUT, for us as simple men, to try to explain how, or why, or when or anything else about God by scripture, CAN NOT BE DONE.

    Scripture was written by men who understood as men. If God wrote the Scriptures himself, we could not understand it, because WE CAN NOT UNDERSTAND THE MIND OF GOD.

    The Bible is written for us to comprehend in our limited human mind. Not to be taken literally. Word for Word.

    For us to argue Creationism or Evolution is futile. Neither can be truly proved. I lean toward Evolution being the way God Created us.

    For Christians to demand we believe that God created everything in 7 twenty-four hour periods doesn’t agree with the new testament scripture that says “a day to God is like a thousand years to us.”

    Give it up. For such intelligent minds like yourselves to waste your talents arguing is worthless.

    GOD CREATED THE WORLD BY EVOLUTION.

  • http://www.tomdegan.blogspot.com Tom Degan

    Just what is it about those naughty Liberals? Why do they always slant American history for their own selfish purposes? Or do they? Could it possibly be that history naturally ends up being viewed from the progressive angle? After all – what is history? It is the story of human progress! “Progressive” and “Progress”. (You see where I’m going with this, don’t you?) Conservative causes may look fine and dandy when viewed through a contemporary prism. But they always – without exception – look foolish, even totalitarian, when viewed through the objective lens of 20/20 historical hindsight. If you don’t believe me, look up every Conservative cause in American history – starting with slavery!

    Think about it: Who championed the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security? It was the Liberals. Who was it that fought vehemently to destroy those programs? It was the Conservatives. In 1919 Woodrow Wilson literally fought to the death to include America in the League of Nations. It was the right wing fringe of American politics (Republican and Democrat) that destroyed any chance of the League succeeding. Had it come into being, it is very possible the carnage of the second world war might have been avoided. Thanks to the Conservatives we’ll never know.

    And lets not forget those damned, bleeding heart abolitionists. Although the complexities of America’s sociology have changed much since the nineteenth century, by the standards of today they were Liberals all. The south went to war against the United States government for no other reason than to conserve the “peculiar institution” of slavery. These aren’t mere political opinions on my part. These are inarguable historical facts, boys and girls. A group of dimwitted ideologues should not be allowed to represent propaganda as fact under the guise of “public education” merely to serve their own weird political agenda. The Nazis tried that seventy years ago. It didn’t work then. It’s not going to work now.

    http://www.tomdegan.blogspot.com

    Tom Degan
    Goshen, NY

  • http://www.HandwritingThatWorks.com Kate Gladstone

    Re: “None of the other religions are pushing to get their world views taught as science.” At least one other religion is doing exactly that:

    http://www.google.com/search?q=orthodox+jews+taught+as+science

  • malia

    just wondering how the big bang actually happened?