A Victory for Science

That sound you hear is the collective heads of the anti-science lobby exploding. That other sound you hear is their two-year effort to undermine science education in Texas going down the drain.

As we told you late last month, the State Board of Education approved instructional materials in science that could be used in Texas public schools for the better part of the next decade. In all, the board approved materials from nine publishers. But in the case of one of those publishers, Holt McDougal, it did so on the condition that it make changes of so-called “errors” that were based on the objections of a well-known creationist who reviewed the materials.

Holt, of course, tried to hold the line in support of sound science and argued against tainting its product with creationist arguments attacking evolutionary science, and so did TFN, the National Center for Science Education and other mainstream scientists. As a compromise, the board agreed to let Holt work with Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott on any needed changes.

Well, those changes are now in (click here to download a PDF) and so are the reviews. TFN, NCSE and other scientists have reviewed the changes and have found them to be in line with established, fact-based science.

Here’s the head-exploding part for the creationists. Not only does the final version of Holt not include creationist arguments against evolution, but they also include language explicitly affirming Darwin’s theories.

With Holt’s materials finalized, we can now say with certainty that all of the materials approved from the nine publishers are in line with fact-based science and free of creationist attacks seeking to undermine science.

We wonder how the anti-science forces will try to spin this one.

Here’s what TFN President Kathy Miller had to say with respect to Holt’s final product:

The release of Holt McDougal’s finalized materials puts an end to a campaign to undermine science education in Texas that began with the board’s adoption of flawed science curriculum standards two years ago. There is now no doubt that this is an unequivocal victory for sound science. But more importantly, it is a victory for Texas school children who are now assured that their science instruction will be free of political agendas and will instead be solely focused on fact-based science that will prepare them for college and a 21st-century economy.

71 thoughts on “A Victory for Science

  1. Thanks to all at TFN, NCSE, and other participating parties for ensuring that Texas kids won’t be at a disadvantage when competing with students of other states on college campuses and the business world.Yours is a remarkable achievement!

  2. Those of us who live in states other than Texas are relieved that the Texas School Board has lost its attempt to foist faux science on schools throughout the country by the overwhelming influence Texas has on the choice of which texts are adopted. Thank you TFN for the good fight!!

  3. Thank you, TFN, but I suspect that the creationists backed off in order to help Rick Perry look beter politically.

  4. Congratulations all around. But, don’t believe for a minute that this is ‘final’. They’ll be back.

  5. Congratulations. A welcome step but certainly not the end for creationists in Texas. In my view, Texas is really screwed up between its love of the belligerent NRA and the flood of very ignorant creationist agendas. I’m afraid they will not stop until they can begin their version of the Inquisitions.

  6. Oh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! When will they ever learn? But we who follow the inerrant Book of Genesis in the Authorized King James Version of the Bible—the only true Bible given to mankind by God—know the Earth is only about 5000 years old, that all creation was brought forth from nothing into all its fullness in an instant. The last two so created were the first two humans set in a garden. In the middle of the garden was a great true that bore special fruit that had the power to impart knowledge of good versus evil. When Eve did eat of the fruit and Adam too—then and only then—did death first come into the world. No animal, plant, or human ever died until after that event. This is history. This is science. This is factual truth.

    Oh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And let me tell you my dear friends. If I ever discover that this Bible is not history, is not science, and is not factual truth in even the tiniest detail, then all is lost. I shall know then that God has lied to me, and I must walk away from God forever.

  7. But seriously folks. I was trying to think of an appropriate way to celebrate this complete victory for sensible and truthful science teaching in Texas. It occurred to me that music might be the best way, so here goes in three parts:

    1) A Moment of Celebration (an evil even greater even than evolution):


    2) An Apt Requiem for the Conservative Extremists on the Texas SBOE:


    3) The Bible is not simple. It is complex, deep, difficult, and hard to understand. Jesus invites us to take a complicated journey of diligence to encounter him, including enduring self-righteous people who want to bludgeon him and you with a pipe wrench. Along the way to find him, he instead finds us and becomes real—just like in the video:


  8. This is good news…for now. These groups have a funny way of reorganizing and bringing the crazy back in an attack on something else.

  9. To creationist posting:

    1) How long is a day to God? Is it merely our 24 hours? is it a billion years? If on the 7th day God rested, what has God been doing since?

    2) Actually, according to St. Augustine, who calculated the age of the earth based off of how long each person lived in the Bible and their descendants, it would be closer to 6000 years.

    3) If there were first Adam and Eve, they had 2 sons Cane and Able, and Cane killed Able… Then where did Cane’s wife come from?

    4) If nothing died prior to Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit, then how do we have fossils dating back millions of years? Especially since according to you the Earth is only 5000 years old.
    — Also, If Adam and Eve ate flesh (and lets assume they did), did they kill the animal before hand, or did they just cut a chunk out of it, and the animal healed right away?

    5) By the way, since more than likely Genesis through Leviticus is more than likely an allegory. Everything from Saul up to The Letters from Paul are the most historic parts of the bible, since there is “Scientific Evidence” that supports these people actually existed, and events actually occurred.

    6) Science is not an evil. Men and how they justify the use of science and technology are evil. Science is a way to gain further understanding in our surroundings. If you believe in the Bible so much, why are you using technology at all? Since this web page and the computer you are using came from science, by your own definition, you are a “hypocrite”. Many scientists believe in the prescience of a God, and through science they seek a further understanding of God. Please take your narrow view-point and peddle it on more uneducated hypocrites.

    Thank you Texas for standing up to better educate our children. Though one suggestion to all states would be this: Create a class for the broad Studies of religion in schools. This way our children will have more understanding, compassion, and respect for others and their beliefs.

    Lets leave science in the science class room, and lets create a class so religions can remain separate.

  10. Hooray for fact-based science! But perhaps a little less celebration, when it comes to Darwinism. It may, to this point, seem like the best science we have; but it certainly isn’t bedrock “truth”. There are still plenty of gaps and holes in the various lines of genus, and some connections that are either suspect, or shaky at best. Then there’s math. More than one advanced mathemetician has set about calculating the number of mutations that might be required to advance a simple, single-celled organism, into a wholly evolved complex organism; and how much time that might take in historical perspective. The numbers, for Darwinism, aren’t good. Based on the currently estimated age of the Earth, there just hasn’t been enough “time” available, to allow for the number of genetic mutations required to produce even simple organisms, let alone complex mammals. This doesn’t confirm creationist theories; but it certainly indicates that Darwin, may not have the final say regarding evolution.

  11. Surquhart – There’s teh differnece between science and religion – science welcomes review and changes in a never ending attmept to obtain “truth”, whereas religion suppresses such efforts and chooses instead to follow dogma. I will not dispute your claims regarding mathematicians, but recent studies have shown that a single gene mutation can start a cascade of physical changes rendering the new organism significantly different than the old one in just a few generations. This means that the phenomenal number of mutations you speak of may not be neccessary, rendering that math obsolete. The more we learn about living organisms, the more the Theory of Evolution is supported by factual evidence.

  12. Let’s consider some things shall we.

    Originally the Bible purported the earth was flat, that the stars in the heavens were fixed and immovable, that these stars were eternal, the plants in the Americas had never been “named” so did Adam and Eve just get lazy, or did people just get forgetful. There is the whole fossil evidence but this has been disputed by creationists, so it’s easier to question them on whether our position in the galaxy on an outlying fringe means that we’re not as loved as some of the inner solar systems? Did god design the Oort cloud and if so why would he design a structure that randomly inserts a potentially devastating comet into the trajectory of his perfect creation of the earth. If evolution is not real, then what is MRSA, or that matter any other bacteria and virus that has become antibiotic resistant. Since creationists have a fixed past block usually, you can’t go earlier than 6000 years, I ask them whether Horus was the son of god, and the devil convinced mankind that he was pagan or Jesus was the son of god since they both have the same story of their life and most of the same titles. I also like to ask them the question of ok, so you don’t believein anything older than 6000 years, then how much longer does the universe last, in other words according to basic understanding of nuclear science that states that the particles that make up the universe have a basic decay rate that is established and known to be consistent, when will the matter dominated portion of the universe no longer exist, speaking to that, say god took 7 days to make the earth, when did he make the universe, when did he make the sun, and all the other planets, did these objects take longer than 7 days to make or shorter and if shorter than why, some are bigger than the earth, if god was able to make the sun in one day than why would it take him so long to make the earth the earth is only like 0.3% the mass of the sun. Finally my last big question for them is always the same, you say that the devil sometimes tricks us, and that god works in mysterious ways, is it possible that god allowed the devil to give you the books of genesis, and claim it was god to see if he could trick you into ignorance and easily dismissing difficult concepts because you wish to deny god his greatest gift to you, your ability to reason.

  13. It feels good that reason is winning battles such as these. Why should we subject our children to Bronze Age superstitions? The weirdos that believe there is a bearded man in the sky and red guy, I don’t know – in the center of the Earth(?) should not have a say in what our children learn, they should be committed. Don’t even get me started on the Rethuglican weirdos that are trying to infiltrate the White House and toss this country into a theocracy.

  14. The SBOE has taken a big turn towards sanity. It’s not just the victory, but HOW we got there. On the last day of the meeting, the six creationists only needed 7 votes to uphold a hasty decision, made the day before, to gut the Holt text. THEY COULDN’T GET THE 7TH VOTE, so they backed down, voting unanimously for a “compromise” that was actually a total win for science. In other words, then entire rest of the the SBOE was united against their ant-science agenda.

    This could change in the 2012 election, of course. All 15 seats are up for election. Most districts are drawn to be safely Republican, meaning that the real action will be in the GOP primary. We need to help Bob Craig, Pat Hardy, Tom Ratliff, George Clayton and Marsha Farney fend off any right-wing primary challenges. (Are they all running for reelection?) Then, in the general election, we need to unseat Charlie Garza.

  15. I for one hope the creationists will be back. The church of secular science (and their current theories presented as absolute fact) needs to take a step back and allow other theories to be presented. That way children can actually learn to have an open mind like the closed minded science community purports to have. If you review the “absolute facts” of science over the years, you will find that many were later disproved. Science was begun in an attempt to better understand God, yet the church of secular science won’t even speculate on the possibility of his existence any more, and then has the Gaul to call religious people dogmatic – what incredible arrogance.

  16. It’s good to finally see the matter settled. Not only settled, but reinforced somewhat by the publisher’s response. They should be sent letters of support on the subject. There won’t be much major news coverage or parades, but I think that the people who worked to make it turn out this way deserve good applause.

    I live in Florida and have a hunch that since they can’t bother Texas for awhile, they’ll want to focus on us more than they have been. You can read about it here: http://www.flascience.org/

  17. Wow jack that brain cell of yours must be hurting after that post. I have reviewed the facts, and over the years science beats religion in the fact department 10 fold. See in science there is no faith, there is only: “does it work like that or not”? If not why and how much can we learn from the mistakes we made to come up with the correct answer. Science was not “begun” as a way to explain God. The first “science” most likely involved how to kill animals for food more effectively, how to kill each other in warfare more effectively, how to make clothes, find water, navigate, cartography, tell time, etc. Religion, however, was invented to explain things science could not at the time. Science was here before Christianity and will be here long after.

  18. “The church of secular science”

    Jack, there is no such thing. If you have evidence that falsifies the theory of evolution, present it to one of the leading, peer-reviewed science journals. You don’t, so you can’t.

    It doesn’t matter if any one particular scientist is close-minded. Science overcomes dogma and always has. Facts and evidence rule.

    Hoping that creationists return is no different than wishing the board would be filled with flat earthers or Holocaust deniers. Live in ignorance if you want, Jack, but don’t expect everyone to follow you off that cliff.

  19. Jack:
    ” If you review the “absolute facts” of science over the years, you will find that many were later disproved.”

    Yes, that is part of the process of science. Make observation, hypothesize, test your theory. If the theory doesn’t work, find out why from the results of your experiment. Repeat, and either reject your own theory (or have your peers, on testing, reject it) or watch as it comes closer to explaining whatever it is you’re trying to understand. Sometimes it takes longer for the correct information to come to light (such as disproving the lack of an “Ether” in space for light to propagate through,) or for vindication of your theory (such as the bending of light by the Sun’s gravity did for general relativity.)

    Compare to religion, where the answer to everything is… “Faith. God did it” and dogma.

    Science, by having change as part of its nature, is not closed minded. INDIVIDUALS may be, yes, but Science is not. If it were, there would be such things as burnings, threats and excommunications for proposing alternate explanations… y’know, what religion does.

  20. Uh-h-h-h-h-h??? I thought this battle was all about good science in Texas classrooms. Why is everyone on a religion-bashing binge? It would seem to me that the “this is all about religion” mantra is the operative denial mechanism in the creationist corner. Are you guys now telling me that this was all about religion for you (or the absence of one) and not about good science and good science teaching?

  21. Charles, you are correct sir. I believe people were just responding to Jack the troll……


  22. Jack,
    science is the discipline of understanding the world around us and ourselves as well, it allows us to question things and have doubts about our own beliefs, allowing us to question the answers we’re given and search for better explanations. Scientists who refute such discipline and cling to a dogma holding it to be sacrosanct over all other theories often face real problems in the scientific community which demands research to back up claims and evidence to prove different theories.

    The biblical wisdom was complete by about 700 CE, and yet you had modern science truly begin in earnest by about 1700 CE, the ideology that somehow religion can have a scientific basis is laudable at best. Even considering such philosophers who sought the truth, one need look no further than Hypatia, to find an example of the church’s rather dim view of scientific knowledge. You may claim that the church has moved on and come to embrace scientific study and reasoning, however staunch advocates of creationism simply cannot make this claim due to their ready dismissal of historical evidence.

    That humanity has historical archaeology at multiple sites dating back over 10,000 years must call into question any claim that a creationist has, the most recent discovery in this vein is Göbekli Tepe in modern day Turkey. Please don’t change for us, but don’t expect your beliefs to be passable as science.

  23. Bill Maher used the punchline “Stupid is the New Smart” on one of his recent shows. Good to see that once in a while the experts on science also get to have a say on scientific topics.

  24. I for one am not against teaching creationism in the classroom as long as its not young earth creationism, the thought that the earth is only thousands of years old is rediculous. But in all honesty, all I see here is just religion/creationists bashing, what gives?! Also @Anonymous Really, was that at all necessary? Doesn’t the bible teach love over hate or have you not read it?

  25. Of course it was all about good science and good science teaching, Charles.
    But this was just one act in bigger drama; the conflict between secular society and religion
    Or, as one prominent historian said, “the enlargers of life and the punishers and straighteners”.

  26. Young J sees nothing wrong with bringing creationism into the classroom so long as it is not the young earth creationism. I hope this is not meant to mean into the science classroom. Please give me just one testable hypothesis that can be formulated to show the correctness of any event mentioned in the first chapter of Genesis. If we are going to teach the scientific method of thinking and problem solving to students, we do not need to muddy it up with mythology.

  27. Bwahahaha. “Church of secular science”! You know Jack, when people make up entities that don’t exist, it tell me they have lost more than just a screw. It reminds me of Hitler’s “international jewery”.
    As for having an “open mind”, Jack, have you ever speculated that His Noodliness the Flying Spaghetti Monster may actually exist? Why is it that others have to be open to your idea of a god to be open minded, but you never have to be open to others?
    Lastly, the history buff in you amazes me. Science was started as a way to know god? Then why was it that upon arrival of Christianity the ideas of Democritus and Epicurus (the original concept of atoms) were blacklisted and not resurrected until literally thousands of years later?
    Soar loser.

  28. When I referred to the “church of secular science” I was not pointing to an organized religion, it was referring the general dogma which has been adopted by the secular scientific community, a dogma which is held on to with far more fervor than many religious groups hold on to the dogma of their church.

    Spencer, you fail to truly exhibit the openness you claim to desire from believers, and automatically lump me with a small minority of closed minded creationist who reject science with the same passion you reject any other theory besides the one you have adopted. There are intelligent, well educated people who disagree with the popular interpretation of recent findings, including those found in the “10,000 year old” dig sites. Intelligent Design is a viable theory, but can’t even get presented as an opposing theory because of the fear in the scientific community that people will lose faith in current scientific gospel. But in reality, the only way to actually find Truth is to entertain all possibilities and move them up or down on the reliability scale as new evidence is discovered. No matter how dogmatically you claim that there is sufficient evidence to support the theory you have adopted, the fact is that we have 1000 pieces of a billion piece puzzle. Our understanding of life and creation will undoubtedly change dramatically over the next few centuries.

    If you read much about astronomy you will find that the theories are changing constantly in that field as new, more powerful telescopes an remote probes find that what was theorized doesn’t hold up under new evidence. The problem so often with the modern science community is that they adopt an doctrine, and gather evidence only to support that doctrine, discarding anything which does not support it. This is may be fuelled as much by investors and awarding entities who demand verifiable results in order to continue funding as much as the close mindedness of the scientific community; however, while it may be good business it is not good science.

    And there have been some incredibly intelligent scientific minds who believed in God such as Boyle, Faraday, Mendel, Plank, and Albert Einstein who used to say “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”

  29. Jack,

    You’re a denialist. Of course, you won’t agree. Otherwise you wouldn’t be a denialist.

    Here, read up on yourself:


    Here’s an excerpt that describes you to a T:

    “Almost every denialist argument will eventually devolve into a conspiracy. This is because denialist theories that oppose well-established science eventually need to assert deception on the part of their opponents to explain things like why every reputable scientist, journal, and opponent seems to be able to operate from the same page. In the crank mind, it isn’t because their opponents are operating from the same set of facts, it’s that all their opponents are liars (or fools) who are using the same false set of information. But how could it be possible, for instance, for every nearly every scientist in a field be working together to promote a falsehood? People who believe this is possible simply have no practical understanding of how science works as a discipline. For one, scientists don’t just publish articles that reaffirm a consensus opinion. Articles that just rehash what is already known or say “everything is the same” aren’t interesting and don’t get into good journals. Scientific journals are only interested in articles that extend knowledge, or challenge consensus (using data of course). Articles getting published in the big journals like Science or Nature are often revolutionary (and not infrequently wrong), challenge the expectations of scientists or represent some phenomenal experiment or hard work (like the human genome project). The idea that scientists would keep some kind of exceptional secret is absurd, or that, in the instance of evolution deniers, we only believe in evolution because we’ve been infiltrated by a cabal of “materialists” is even more absurd. This is not to say that real conspiracies never occur, but the assertion of a conspiracy in the absence of evidence (or by tying together weakly correlated and nonsensical data) is usually the sign of a crackpot. Belief in the Illuminati, Zionist conspiracies, 9/11 conspiracies, holocaust denial conspiracies, materialist atheist evolution conspiracies, global warming science conspiracies, UFO government conspiracies, pharmaceutical companies suppressing altie-med conspiracies, or what have you, it almost always rests upon some unnatural suspension of disbelief in the conspiracy theorist that is the sign of a truly weak mind. Hence, our graphic to denote the presence of these arguments – the tinfoil hat.”

  30. @Jack: “Intelligent Design is a viable theory…”
    And that’s where you’re wrong. The specific logical fallacy ID falls into is known as “assuming the consequent”. The “theory” is based on faulty reasoning, hence its lack of acceptance.

  31. One Christian to another Jack, the science is good. It’s not a matter of belief in a secular church for the millions of Christians like me who are also scientists. I see no no conflict between sound science like evolution and sound religion. However, I do see one thing that is clearly and unequivocally changing.

    The Christian fundamentalist doctrine of an inerrant Bible and its simplistic, literalistic understanding of the black book is drawing its last few breaths in the American public mind. The war against “Modernism” that caused the creation of this unique American religion in the late 1800s—and that is what it is even in the eyes of American historians—is being lost despite the Herculean efforts of people like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. The failure of the Texas SBOE is one example. Christine O’Donnell storming out of the interview with Piers Morgan tonight is another example. The recent negative nationwide coverage of fundamentalist baptist policies on beating children is another in just recent days.

    The thing you people do not seem to understand is that people are not necessarily rejecting Jesus or the Bible (properly understood). They are rejecting you people, your nutty Christian fundamentalist ideas, and all of the nutty (and quite frankly dangerous) behavior that goes with it—the kind that gets kids beaten to death by their own parents. You people are making a laughingstock of the Christian faith in the public mind in this country and have become living caricatures in some sort of sick Saturday morning cartoon show.

    On Wednesday nights at my church, our youth groups put on short plays about the true nature of the Christian faith. My daughter is in those plays sometimes. The centerpiece in most of those plays is criticism of Christian fundamentalism and how it makes people run away from Jesus—and it does. You and people like you claim that evolution causes people to reject Jesus. It has been my experience that people who reject Jesus are people who would have done it no matter what, and they just use evolution as a convenient social excuse in polite conversation. For every single person that has used evolution as a convenient excuse to reject Jesus, I could probably show you 10 people that have rejected Jesus because of the nutty and insane behavior of Christian fundamentalists like you.

    Lets take a poll right here. If Charles Darwin and his ideas had never occurred in human history, how many people here would reject the gospel of Jesus Christ simply because Christian fundamentalists like Jack behave on the American stage like a bunch of buffoons who believe nutty things and do even nuttier things, like beating their children to death trying to implement the “rod of the Lord.”

    I want to see a show of hands for Jack!!!

  32. @jack

    “It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.” From a letter Einstein wrote in English, dated 24 March 1954.

  33. As a Christian, I find it appalling that the radical fringe Dominionist cult’s heresies are so regularly entertained in public affairs. If I ever feel the need to home-school my kids it will be because some gang of Dominionist creeps have shoehorned their conflations of fringe doctrine with science into the public school curriculum. Genesis ala King James Bible as literature? Sure, it’s culturally relevant. Genesis as natural history? Not so much. Thanks TFN!

  34. Way to go, Texas! Whew! I thought we were all goners there for awhile. Now, if we can keep Perry out of the White House, I’ll sleep a little better.

    I want to interpret the Bible in the best way possible, and that keeps changing. It takes humility, not a “know-it-all” attitude.

    And you know, the best science uses the same humility? Imagine that!

  35. Jack, you are even more idiotic than I thought.
    Your claim that intelligent design is “viable theory” completely misses the scientific meaning of the word theory. General relativity is a theory. Einstein made predictions about paths of light rays that were shown to be accurate in his life time, and continue to be supported by new evidence to this day. Intelligent design hasn’t made a single prediction to this day. In fact many of the features of living organisms, from the blind spot in the eye to the recurrent laryngeal nerve to the aqueduct of Sylvius are better compatible with a drunken designer than an intelligent one. So you didn’t tell me Jack, why won’t you ever be open to the possibility that the FSM may exist? Can we present that as an alternative theory at your church? Or are you too closed-minded for that?
    As for scientists who are theists, of course they exist, just like doctors who are smokers. Einstein, however, was not one of them.
    “The word God means nothing to me more than a product of human weakness”.


  36. More Einstein, since Jack is trying to “own” him: “The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this.”

  37. Much as this bit of news cheers me up labeling it a “Final Victory” is premature. If there is one thing we can depend on it’s human idiocy. I have never encountered a fundamentalist that changed his mind because a sound argument exposed faulty his beliefs. Some people are determined to never learn! The creationists will be back, perhaps with a new name, spewing the same old drivel. You can bank on it.

  38. “How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, ‘This is better than we thought! The universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant?’ Instead they say, ‘No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.’ A religion, old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths.” [Carl Sagan]

  39. I can’t help but believe that using pejoratives to describe the religious right is not helping the position espoused by many of us who have responded in this forum. Such terms will only cause more resistance in these people to what we think of as the truth. We should perhaps start with the premise that one cannot know most things as sure, immutable truths. Science changes with new discoveries and long held theories get modified. What once was thought to be the extent of the Universe was greatly extended with construction of telescopes and later with the space telescope. So we have to admit that science is an unfinished topic; constantly a work in progress. By the same token, however, we who claim to be scientists, must resist the incursions of mythology that will influence the minds of non-scientists to believe that what science has discovered is in some way totally incorrect.

  40. Wen, you bring up a good point. Pejoratives only stiffen egos, and that’s not a pretty sight in scientists and/or believers.

    We must also resist the incursions of skeptics into the area of spirituality. Ben quoted Einstein, “No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this,” speaking of the Bible’s “childishness.” Perhaps Einstein let his own ego get in the way of science when he couldn’t get on board with quantum mechanics. Pretending to know it all (as in every possible biblical interpretation) is a bit over the top, especially for a scientist.

    In my own research, I have discovered a timeline in Genesis compatible with those of science. No more do the Fundamentalists require a young universe to “protect” the Bible. All they do is protect their own interpretation and their egos while ignoring reality (the purview of science). So, perhaps I can make a prediction: Though the age of Homo sapiens keeps getting longer through new discoveries (from ~50ka to ~200ka in my lifetime) anthropologists will not find Homo sapiens bones older than 11Ma, if this new biblical timeline is accurate. Big “if?” Perhaps. (http://www.GenesisCode.Net)

    The big point is that humility is one big key to discovery (not the biased tool called “skepticism”). Perhaps the Fundamentalists do not possess enough humility, even though the founder of Christianity highly recommended it. But I think our best approach is not in divisiveness, but a humble neutrality. By this “neutrality” I don’t mean “do nothing.” One can mete out punishment to a child without anger or blood lust, or even raising a hand. Sometimes a “look” with intention plus quiet, but strong words, can make a child self-aware of their error.

    Perhaps the next mother-with-child who confronts Perry on the campaign trail should ask, “Is your interpretation of the Bible equivalent to that of God?” If he answers, “No,” then one might ask, “Then why are you acting like it is?” Some egos are impenetrable, but this might find his humble side, if it exists.

  41. Regarding civility, I’ve never seen a young-earth creationist give facts and evidence the slightest consideration. Worse than that, most of them aren’t just willfully ignorant, they are liars. Committed, skilled, liars. We see it here regularly, not only in the comments left by creationists, but in the subject matter of TFN’s posts.

    Feel free to be civil to liars if you want, but I don’t see the point. I think it makes more sense to call them liars and point out their lies, every single time. Let anyone who is on the fence see and understand the lies told by young-earth creationists on a daily basis.

    Lots of people have recommended being more civil to these liars—it’s a regular subject of conversation on Pharyngula—but I can’t recall even a single case where civility changed one of these liars’ minds.

  42. Yeah right. “Humility” of course, does not include entertaining the possibility that a book written by middle easterns during the bronze age may be the product of their own imagination and have nothing to do with science in any shape, form or way. And skepticism, which is demanding evidence before accepting a positive claim, is “biased”.
    Dude, your vocab sucks.

  43. In response to bluescat48 – Rick Perry has already responded in his own predictably ignorant way. According to a news post yesterday, Perry described evolution as “a theory that is out there,” And he told a young boy who questioned him that “it’s got some gaps in it….in Texas we teach both creationism and evolution in our public schools. Because I figure…because I figure you’re smart enough to figure out which one is right.” Perry is obviously not smart enough to figure out which one is right. But he is smart enough to know that the Texas School Board has rejected this nonsense and so has the Supreme Court (at least so far), so he is revealed as simply a cynical liar. And he lied to a young person who was simply asking an adult for clarification of something he didn’t understand – absolutely unconscionable. What a disreputable asshole. Of course, he’s a Dominionist so i wouldn’t expect him to behave in a rational way at all. Why would anyone with a smidgen of a brain seriously consider voting for him for President?

  44. Perry’s campaign is a clear nonstarter. He and his advisors have ruined any chance he had by their comments over just the past few days He’s a goner already.

  45. @Jack…….I read all of the posts and do not see one person saying they don’t believe in God. On the other hand, spag. monsters,
    un-dead carpenters, and dude with a pitchfork just aren’t as believable as an all encompassing god that does not know right or wrong, that is infinite, can bee seen everywhere and nowhere and has an infinitely changing definition………

  46. to the science community, i believe in God and the Bible but I also believe and support science.the one question I have for the science community is how did the universe come about what evidence do you have to support the origin of the universe? I have no problem with the age of the universe or earth.If the big bang theory is true, then how did allt he planets line upin such a perfect way as to support life?

  47. Anonymous,

    1) First of all, I resent your apparent premise that the scientific community contains no Christians or people of other religious faiths. It has quite a large number actually, and a great many of us have no problem with evolution or the so-called Big Bang.

    2) You are wasting your time if you want to start an argument with the atheist/agnostic block here. You realize, I hope, that it would be two fence posts arguing with each other—and when the argument is over—both sides would still believe exactly the same thing and still be very nice fence posts. They have heard all of the arguments from your side already, and none have been convincing to them. I know. I know. I know. You are thinking that the Holy Spirit will move especially in you this afternoon, and because of it, you will be the first one to put a crack in their egg shell, and an epiphany will begin, “I see now. There really was a special tree with fruit that contained chemicals that would cause a human brain to suddenly know the difference between good and evil for the first time. I repent of evolution. How could I have been so wrong????!!!! (Music) Praise the Lord, I saw the light!!!”

    3) Your forget something. A large number of atheists/agnostics attended Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical churches with their parents for the first 18 years of their lives. They know the message from churches like yours. You have nothing to tell them about your view of Jesus or the gospel that they do not already know. The message was there every Wednesday night and every Sunday—but their was no love with it—just guilt and rules and fear. The preacher beat them bloody with all three of those things day and night for 18 years. When a chance to escape finally came, they took it and never looked back. I remain convinced that Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical churches are the chief creators of atheists, agnostics, and Buddhists in the United States. All you have to offer these people is another bloody beating around the head with the jaw bone of an ass.

    4) No one here—including the Christians—is interested in how old you think the Earth is or how inerrant you think your Bible is. You BELIEVE Genesis 1 is accurate human history and science. We KNOW that it is not accurate human history or science. I do not expect you to understand that because you are just another fence post on the American landscape—one who is all too willing to accept uncritically whatever drops from your backwoods preacher’s mouth and unwilling to learn any of the real science that proves him to be wrong.

    5) Genesis I is a parable. I know you do not spend much time in the New Testament because it tends to undermine a lot of your most cherished religious prejudices. However, if you will notice, Jesus spends an awful lot of time teaching people with parables. He loves parables. He is the No. 1 parable man in all of human history. “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being” (Hebrews 1). God is like Jesus!!! God the father likes to tell parables too because He is “just like Jesus.” God loves parables!!! The reason Genesis 1 does not match up with the science is because God is telling you a parable to get across numerous bits of nonhistorical and nonscientific information about human nature that He would like for you to consider. Trouble is—you do not want to consider it. You just want to lamely scratch the surface in the most simplistic way possible and move on as quickly as possible to your next round of cherished ignorance.

    6) Yes, I knew that I was wasting my time with you because you are just another committed fence post. I shall waste my time no more, and you can continue to leave your brain at the “OFF” setting.

  48. Oh boy. The planets did not “line up perfectly”. In fact Venus and Mars are both rocky planets and could potentially harbor life but they don’t. There are hundreds of billions of stars in our galaxy alone, and there are more galaxies in the visible universe that there are grains of sand on earth. Is it so shocking that one speck of dust in the endless universe could harbor life, while 99.99999% percent of the universe is uninhabitable?

  49. Insightful Ape, don’t get too carried away. True, there are nearly a trillion stars in our galaxy at last estimate (rivaling M31), but more than the grains of sand on Earth? Doh!

    If there are 500 grains of sand per cubic centimeter, one meter deep and twenty meters wide, then one kilometer of beach will hold ten trillion grains of sand. Of course, grains/cc will depend on which beach you sample. The only estimates I’ve ever heard for count of galaxies in the universe numbered only in the billions.

    And, yes, it would be shocking if the rest of the universe is devoid of life.

  50. Missy Ruth, excellent! Not only is it mythology, but there might just be one lecture’s worth of material for the subject, then off to Zeus, Osiris and others.

    What might make an even more intriguing class would be “The Art of Interpretation.” In the class, students learn humility and restraint in the quest for knowledge. This would apply not only to biblical interpretation, but scientific and artistic.

    After all, no one’s interpretation is equal or superior to that of the Almighty. And some people think they have it all figured out. Like some school board members and one Texas governor.

  51. Charles, your reply to Anonymous was brilliant.

    Your analysis of Genesis is certainly interesting, but could it also be that all “sides” have it wrong? (Including me!)

    What if the “forbidden fruit” was a conceptual matrix, like the Kabbalah’s representation of the Garden’s “Tree of Life?” What kind of conceptual matrix? Perhaps dichotomies, like good-evil, right-wrong, generous-selfish, wisdom-stupidity, compassion-indifference and others? What other way could an immortal, non-physical child of God fall from spiritual grace? The poison of that fruit might be none other than the heart of selfishness and root of all evil, ego (not the psychological term, but the Buddhist sense of self). Adam did not literally, physically die on that day, so he must’ve died spiritually. And could it be that the Garden was not a physical place, but merely another name for Heaven? Could Adam and Eve represent all of the Fallen Angels? Later, Adam represents all of humanity. Gen.5:2 says that “they” were called Adam, and that Adam was both male and female.

    What if the first 5 chapters of Genesis were thematic rather than sequential? And what if Genesis 1 was neither literal nor parable, but an incomplete, verbal description of the template or blueprint of creation all in zero time — the instantaneity of creation. What if God’s “day of rest” was the “perfecting” element in creation giving all that instantaneity its persistence (time)? Then we might well be living in God’s “day of rest” — all 13.7 billion years of it.

    There are many conflicting interpretations of the Bible. Very possibly none of them are entirely right. Like a good scientist who forgoes skepticism and merely uses humble restraint (no bias of doubt, there), the faithful might find new answers, there. There is plenty of hidden wisdom in the Bible. There might just be a timeline in Genesis compatible with all of those of science. And just as Adam was all of humanity, and Methuselah may have been eponymous tribe and its founder (who may have lived only 50 years), the years of the early patriarchs are too short to match reality. And there is a factor there which takes care of it.

    The point of all this is: no one person “knows it all!” Even though some act as if they do.

    For the rowdy believer, simply ask, “Is your interpretation equivalent to that of God?” Naturally, their ego will suffer a few moments of cognitive dissonance. They may even have the presence of mind to answer, “No.” To which you can reply, “Then why do you act as if your interpretation is equal to God’s?”

  52. InsightfulApe, sorry I missed your comment of the 19th.

    You said, “Yeah right. ‘Humility’ of course, does not include entertaining the possibility that a book written by middle easterns during the bronze age may be the product of their own imagination and have nothing to do with science in any shape, form or way.”

    Does not include? Wow. But that’s the real problem, isn’t it — dealing with people who think they already know it all? Did you know that there is a timeline in Genesis compatible with those of science? It took humility to find it. Preconceived notions like yours and Rick Perry’s would only get in the way.

    You also said, “And skepticism, which is demanding evidence before accepting a positive claim, is ‘biased.’
    Dude, your vocab sucks.”

    I appreciate your opinion. My wife thinks I have too big a vocabulary. But let’s get technical and actually look up the word, shall we? I don’t find your definition anywhere in the dictionary. A quick search in online dictionaries gives the following for “skepticism”:

    “incredulity: doubt about the truth of something”

    “an attitude of doubt or a disposition to incredulity either in general or toward a particular object”

    “a doubting or questioning attitude or state of mind; dubiety”

    Now, the last time I checked, “doubt” is a very definite bias. It remains negative against the verity of an idea. And all too often some scientists slide into the entirely subjective realm of skepticism — unsupported dismissiveness (such as your attitude about the Bible), and self-indulgent ridicule (such as the attitude of some North American anthropologists regarding the “Clovis first” dogma). A far better paradigm for science would be that of humility and restraint. These do quite well in not accepting a positive claim without first obtaining empirical evidence, and they do it without the drawback of the bias, doubt.

    So dude, maybe you should brush up on your own vocab. I’m constantly working on mine.