Texas State Board of Education member Terri Leo, R-Spring, isn’t happy about an op-ed in the Houston Chronicle charging that board creationists (like Ms. Leo) are promoting a “narrow theological debate about the validity of evolution.” State Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, and state Rep. Patrick Rose, D-Dripping Springs, authored the op-ed, in which they warned that the state board must be held accountable for politicizing the education of Texas schoolchildren.
In a counter opinion piece, Ms. Leo claims that no board member is trying to remove evolution from the public school science curriculum. “There is also no Board member who is seeking to implement religious beliefs into public school science curricula,” she writes.
For the past twenty years, students in Texas have been required “to analyze, review, and critique scientific explanations, including hypotheses and theories, as to the strengths and weaknesses using scientific evidence and information.” This standard has been applied to all scientific theories. Pro-Evolution Advocates, however, want evolution to be singled out and taught differently from the other theories. They want evolution to be taught without including the weaknesses of this theory.
The evolutionists want the time-tested standard to be removed from our Texas standards and, hence, from our textbooks and teaching materials. The twenty-year old standard does not state nor imply the teaching of religion, just “scientific explanations and scientific evidence.” If a teacher in our state had used this twenty-year-old standard as a “backdoor vehicle” through which to teach students religion, the ACLU most certainly would have sued by now.
There’s plenty more in the rest of her screed, but we’ll focus right now on the dishonesty in just those two paragraphs above.
Ms. Leo falsely claims that the “strengths and weaknesses” standard has been applied to all scientific theories. In fact, Ms. Leo was one of four creationist board members in 2003 who voted to reject proposed new biology textbooks because they didn’t include phony “weaknesses” of evolution promoted by creationists organizations like the Discovery Institute (and any number of evangelical Christian churches). They didn’t vote to reject any textbooks because they didn’t include “weaknesses” of other scientific theories. Not one. They singled out evolution.
Then when a majority of board members voted last month to keep the “strengths and weaknesses” language out of a new standards draft, creationists on the board offered a series of amendments targeting one theory — evolution. In fact, they succeeded in getting two of those amendments adopted, both challenging a core concept of evolution, common descent.
The only people singling out evolution and wanting it taught differently than other scientific theories are those in the creationist bloc. They claim that the “strengths and weaknesses” language has caused no problems in the past, but their own actions prove that’s a lie. They didn’t have the votes on the board to prevail in their war against evolution in 2003. They hope to have enough votes in 2011, when publishers submit new biology textbooks for adoption. In fact, members of the creationist bloc have already said they will insist that those new textbooks include phony “weaknesses” of evolution. If the textbooks don’t include that nonsence, the creationist bloc will move to reject them regardless of what they hear from real scientists.
Ms. Leo goes on, arguing that creationists are just trying to “broaden horizons and enhance thinking” about “varying scientific viewpoints.”
No. They are trying to twist the public school science curriculum into a vehicle for promoting their own narrow religious beliefs over everyone else’s. That’s what Sen. Ellis and Rep. Rose were rightly criticizing in their op-ed.
The truth is that creationists can’t provide a shred of scientific evidence against evolution. Every argument they have made about alleged “weaknesses” of evolution has been debunked by scientific research. Until that changes, their attacks against evolution have no place in a 21st-century science classroom.
58 thoughts on “And Now Terri Leo Chimes in on Science”
Once again, per the content of the article, I cannot understand how people who claim to follow Jesus Christ can advance a position based on lies and deceit about their true and ultimate intentions. Can someone explain this to me? I am reminded of a statement Jesus made in one of the gospels, which reads as follows:
Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it (John 8:44).
Perhaps Jesus was talking about the father of the fundamentalist position on the Texas Board of Education. What do you think?
Can anyone of these people gave or make a case against evolution without refering to their religious belifes?
No. For the fundies, you have to understand that their whole ball of wax is founded on the premise that Genesis 1 is actual history and science exactly as written and literally translated. With that foundation alone, everything else rises or falls solely on on its complaince with that religious foundation. If any fact whatsoever disagrees with Genesis 1, that fact must be incorrect. It is a simple phrasal set up that any person can easily follow just the way they. Here it is:
Genesis 1 says ______; therefore, your contradictory facts have to be incorrect.
They deny that their own brains, preferences, and choices play any part whatsoever in their reading or understanding of Genesis 1.
Here’s a great blog about denialism:
I love the following excerpt. Can you think of anyone around here who meets this description?
‘Here at denialism blog, we’re very interested in what makes people cranks. Not only how one defines crankish behavior, but literally how people develop unreasonable attitudes about the world in the face of evidence to the contrary. Our definition of a crank, loosely, is a person who has unreasonable ideas about established science or facts that will not relent in defending their own, often laughable, version of the truth. Central to the crank is the “overvalued idea”. That is some idea they’ve incorporated into their world view that they will not relinquish for any reason. Common overvalued ideas that are a source of crankery range from bigotry, antisemitism(holocaust deniers), biblical literalism (creationists – especially YEC’s), egotism (as it relates to the complete unwillingness to ever be proven wrong) or an indiscriminant obsession with possessing “controversial” or iconoclastic ideas. Some people just love believing in things that no one in their right mind does, out of some obscure idea that it makes them seem smart or different.’
Hmm, is there a regular commenter here who could be defined as a crank? I wonder….
Here’s another great excerpt from that site, if the moderator doesn’t mind posting it:
“The thing to remember about logical fallacies is that their violation isn’t proof or disproof of the validity of the opponent’s argument. Your opponent might just be an idiot, but ultimately right. Some people just don’t know how to argue or keep their temper. Logical fallacies are rules of thumb to identify when portions of arguments are poorly constructed or likely irrational. They are dependent on context, and aren’t really rigorous proofs of the validity or invalidity of any argument.
Further, some fallacies, like ad hominem are poorly understood, so when an opponent says you’re wrong because of this this and this therefor you’re an idiot, the poor victim of the ad hominem feels like they can claim victory over the argument. When in reality ad hominem refers to the dismissal of an argument by just insulting the person. Time and time again you see someone exasperated by the crank who won’t turn despite being shown again and again where their error is, and finally just call the guy an idiot. That’s actually not an ad hominem. That might be totally true and highly relevant to the argument at hand. Sometimes people are just too stupid or too ignorant to realize when they’ve been soundly thrashed, and true cranks will stubbornly go on, and on and on…”
Ben makes a good point with regard to ad hominem arguments. Mom told most of us that it was not nice to call someone an idiot. In most cases, she was probably right. However, and this is very important (so pay close attention), the word “idiot” is in the dictionary for a reason. That is because a very few people, here and there, really are idiots. No one wants to waste a whole piece of paper describing them when one succinct word will do the trick.
I don’t understand why so many of you think there are no weaknesses to the theory of evolution. What weaknesses of the theory have been debunked by science? What proof exists in support of macro evolution? Lets discuss this. Also, what is so wrong about teaching our potential young scientists and engineers to examine both strengths and weaknesses of scientific theories?? TFN’s aggressive stance against “strengths and weaknesses” does little, if anything, to promote science and serves to emphasize their fears and lack of confidence in scientific methods and outcomes. I have worked in the field of science for 30 years. In my experience, most significant advances in science and engineering have resulted from smart individuals recognizing existing weaknesses and using creative new insights, information, and knowledge to overcome those weaknesses. That, in fact, is how research gets funded. In one example, Einstein recognized the weaknesses in the theories of Newtonian Mechanics. He extended Newton’s theories with the Special Theory and General Theory of Relativity. To me, science has been about asking questions and seeking answers. It is also about recognizing weaknesses in explanations and theories and seeking even better answers, explanations, and theories. Understandably, some of the answers to some of the questions are incredibly difficult to find. Often, the answers provided are incomplete or inaccurate. And just because the answers come through scientific methods, doesn’t mean they are always accurate. So often, conclusions depend on assumptions — that often are incorrectly applied in the first place.
Jeff, please list some specific weaknesses in the theory of evolution.
If you have some legitimate evidence against the theory, please share. You will win a Nobel Prize. You will become a household name.
On the other hand, if by “weaknesses” you really mean gaps (i.e. things we haven’t figured out yet, but that are by no means evidence against the theory), then yes, there are gaps. There are gaps in every theory. To call them “weaknesses” is dishonest. It’s a ploy that creationists use to create false “controversy.”
Are you by chance a creationist?
I think that probably the main weakness is in the lack of proof! Perhaps Ben, if you have absolute proof of the theory of evolution, you would win the Nobel prize. You would be a household name. I also believe that gaps, especially in subjective theories, as many of those are in the sciences, other than mathematics, are definite weaknesses. That’s why I love mathematics. All the sciences, including physics, chemistry, biology, …, include theories, many of which are accepted without proof, that are fundamentally weak. And theories without proof will eventually present weaknesses and most are eventually disproved rather than proven. I’m not trying to be dishonest Ben. If I presented a mathematical proof with “gaps”, all my colleagues would scream it is invalid and incredibly weak! I’m sorry, but gaps are weaknesses that really need to be filled. If the gaps in the theory of evolution were not there, I think you would have a lot more support. And, most scientists would tend to agree that the theory would be much stronger!
In regards to evolution, I see plenty of evidence of micro evolution. I am an amateur herpetologist and have myself witnessed variations within a particular species that, for example, can be due to geographic isolation of populations within a species over significant time scales. Although, I have never seen absolute proof of macro evolution. Not in the fossil record, not anywhere. Maybe you can give me a single example? Don’t get me wrong, I think it is a valiant quest. I just think it is a question that the scientific community hasn’t adequately answered at this point. I believe we would be foolish if we were to stop seeking proof now. Perhaps we will never have absolute proof. However, I think the quest is still worthwhile.
Meanwhile, I don’t think it is wise for scientists to get bent out of shape over the controversies around strengths and weaknesses. Every good scientist knows that different theories attempting to answer the same question have relative strengths and weaknesses. I believe we should accept the fact that relative strengths and weaknesses persist and that we should strive to strengthen our theories — which would include modifying them if evidence suggests that is what we should do.
“I think that probably the main weakness is in the lack of proof!”
This shows me that you haven’t done much research, or you aren’t sincere. For evidence of evolution, go here:
There are literally thousands of other sources that document the overwhelming evidence of evolution. All you have to do is read them with a logical and rational mind, not a mind that is corrupted by religious dogma. If you feel that evolution threatens your religious beliefs, chances are good you will never accept evolution, regardless of the evidence.
“Although, I have never seen absolute proof of macro evolution.”
Go here to learn more:
Regarding gaps, read this:
There is an excellent series of videos featuring world-renowned scientists. This is the first one:
These videos address all of the concerns you mention above. If you watch them, and do a lot of reading, and still don’t accept evolution, I’ll have to question your sincerity.
You never answered–are you a creationist?
Jeff, here’s a good page for you to read:
I think this quote is especially appropriate:
“… there are many reasons why you might not understand [an explanation of a scientific theory] … Finally, there is this possibility: after I tell you something, you just can’t believe it. You can’t accept it. You don’t like it. A little screen comes down and you don’t listen anymore. I’m going to describe to you how Nature is – and if you don’t like it, that’s going to get in the way of your understanding it. It’s a problem that [scientists] have learned to deal with: They’ve learned to realize that whether they like a theory or they don’t like a theory is not the essential question. Rather, it is whether or not the theory gives predictions that agree with experiment. It is not a question of whether a theory is philosophically delightful, or easy to understand, or perfectly reasonable from the point of view of common sense. [A scientific theory] describes Nature as absurd from the point of view of common sense. And it agrees fully with experiment. So I hope you can accept Nature as She is – absurd. I’m going to have fun telling you about this absurdity, because I find it delightful. Please don’t turn yourself off because you can’t believe Nature is so strange. Just hear me all out, and I hope you’ll be as delighted as I am when we’re through. ”
– Richard P. Feynman (1918-1988),
from the introductory lecture on quantum mechanics reproduced in QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter (Feynman 1985).
I posted some other links, but I think my comment might’ve disappeared into limbo.
The gist was this: There are literally thousands of sources of evidence for evolution. Are you sincere in wanting to learn, or are you a close-minded creationist pretending as if the evidence just isn’t good enough?
This is the first in an outstanding series of videos featuring world-renowned scientists:
You should watch the entire series, just for starters.
I’ve reviewed the documentation at the links you provided up through the gap claims and response. I appreciate your efforts and passion. I’ve read and seen many of these claims presented in defense of evolution. I believe, however, that the “evidence” has been misinterpreted and that misleading and incorrect conclusions have been reached and presented as if they overwhelmingly support evolution. As the author points out in his response, claims about evolution cannot be absolutely proven. (I’m not sure I believe that). And, I believe, claims without proof are fundamentally weak. And they are even weaker when you chain together a sequence of unproved claims in order to make a grander claim in support of a hypothesis. I believe more scientists need to take more mathematics. Unfortunately, most life scientists are not required to take much math, if any, beyond a first-year calculus class. And this leads to the problem I am referring to.
Ben, I’m sorry you question my sincerity, and my religious beliefs. This discussion is not about religion, however. It’s about science. And I am being sincere. I think evolutionists could gain more support if they didn’t work so hard at putting others down in a feeble attempt to make themselves look better. Especially about religious beliefs. For the ones who use those tactics, I feel it demonstrates insincerity, disrespect, and undermines their credibility.
I think it is ironic that the evolutionists talk more about religion in defense of evolution than the creationists do in opposition to it! The creationists, like Ms. Leo, whose article is the main reason behind this blog, advocate investigating both relative strengths and weaknesses of scientific theories. I support this position. And, again, I claim any theory without proof contains weaknesses. It seems that many evolutionists want us to accept evolution without question. And if we don’t, we must be insincere. To not question — to not evaluate strengths and weaknesses — to accept without proof, I believe, is not all too smart.
By the way, I found and read the entire article that Ms. Leo published, and there is not one mention of religion or her religious beliefs. I think TFN is dishonest in pulling 2 paragraphs of her article completely out of context. The article was at least as good and even better written, from a scientific standpoint, than most refereed journal papers I have read. And, not one mention of religious viewpoints as all the TFN bloggers elude to. I invite you, and all the TFN bloggers, to read her article in it’s entirety. I can provide a link if you don’t have one already.
Again Ben, I appreciate all your efforts in presenting data in support of your passionate belief in evolution. I will be sure to watch the videos and I will let you know what I think.
Some of your remarks above are simply laughable. Like this one:
“I think evolutionists could gain more support if they didn’t work so hard at putting others down in a feeble attempt to make themselves look better.”
You really think that, or are you just trying to be condescending? If scientists wanted to “make themselves look better,” wouldn’t they deny evolution, despite what the evidence tells them? After all, you might have noticed that evolution isn’t very popular with a whole lot of Americans. So, sorry, you kind of have it backward. Scientists stick to the evidence, despite the fact that people might hate them for it.
And this one:
“The creationists, like Ms. Leo, whose article is the main reason behind this blog, advocate investigating both relative strengths and weaknesses of scientific theories.”
Yes, good ol’ open-minded Terri Leo. No religious agenda at all. Would she equally advocate investigating both relative strengths and weaknesses of the Bible and the Koran in Sunday school?
And the best one:
“…to accept without proof, I believe, is not all too smart.”
You’ve got to be kidding me. The irony makes me giggle.
Despite your assertions, the evidence for evolution is massive and overwhelming. You can dismiss it offhand if you like, but the Feynman quote above was referring to people just like you. You don’t like it, so you won’t accept it.
Your point about Terri Leo’s rant is meaningless, by the way. Why would Terri Leo need to refer to religion in her attempt to discredit evolution? I could spend hours and hours pointing out weaknesses in the bible without ever mentioning that I’m an atheist. But isn’t it a little bit weird that all the SBOE members who deny evolution are also religious? Ever wonder why that is? Think maybe their religious views infect their thinking a little bit? End of sarcasm.
Jeff, I know it’s scary to think that your god didn’t create us in his image out of mud, and that the origin of modern-day humans is quite different that the dogma you learned from your bible, but you have no evidence for your beliefs, and there is a mountain of evidence for evolution. It’s a mountain you can’t move with faith, despite what your bible tells you.
I’m hoping you will someday unshackle yourself from Bronze Age mythology and dogma. As it stands now, creationists are harming Texas school children. Fortunately, organizations like TFN are going to change that.
If the moderator doesn’t mind, I’m going to post some additional relevant information from Talk Origins:
Students should be taught all sides of a controversial issue. Evolution should not be taught without teaching the controversy that surrounds it.
Meyer, Stephen C., Teach the controversy on origins. Cincinnati Enquirer, 30 March, 2002. http://www.arn.org/docs/meyer/sm_teachthecontroversy.htm
On the fundamental issues of the theory of evolution, such as the facts of common descent and natural selection, there is no scientific controversy. The “teach the controversy” campaign is an attempt to get pseudoscience taught in classrooms. Lessons about the sociological issues of the evolution-creation controversy may be appropriate in history or other nonscience classes.
If the object is to keep bad science from the classroom, the same standards should be applied to the counterarguments from creationists, which are all bad science.
There are controversies over details of evolutionary theory, such as the relative contributions of sympatric versus allopatric speciation. These controversies require a great deal of background in biology even to understand what they are about. They should not be taught to beginning students. They should be taught to graduate-level students in biology, and they are.
Evolution is almost certainly the most hated scientific theory in history. Many people think it threatens morals, civilization, and their very souls, and virtually nobody wants it to be true. Starting from the first day that Origin of Species was published, it has faced constant challenges from some of the most powerful politicians and religious leaders, not to mention incessant disapproval and attacks from the general public. The only thing evolution has going for it is the evidence. If that evidence were not extremely strong, evolution would have been torn to irreparable shreds decades ago.
Like all theories, evolution is subject to scientific attack, too. Achieving a major revision of established theory is something that many scientists dream of. Plus, many scientists feel the same emotional opposition to it that so many non-scientists do. If a credible alternative to evolution appeared, biologists would race to publish it. Indeed, scientists have made some significant revisions of details to the theory of evolution, but there has been no such race to overthrow the basic theory.
The theory of evolution is stronger than ever, accepted around the world without a hint of informed scientific challenge to the basic theory. The controversy surrounding evolution has made it one of the most scrutinized theories of all time, and evolution has withstood that scrutiny with flying colors.
Should teaching the controversy be expanded to include so-called alternatives to evolution? There are many mutually contradictory creationist positions, with disagreement on such fundamental issues as how old the universe is and which religion’s book best describes the creator. Since the basis for creationism is its emotional religious appeal, and since such attraction varies between cultures and individuals, creationism will always be hopelessly controversial. Surely any lesson on the controversy should include the whole controversy.
NCSE, 2002, Analysis of the Discovery Institute’s bibliography, http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/articles/3878_analysis_of_the_discovery_inst_4_5_2002.asp
Scott, E. C. and G. Branch, 2003. Evolution: what’s wrong with ‘teaching the controversy’. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 18(10): 499-502.
Brauer, Matthew J., Barbara Forrest and Steven G. Gey. 2005. Is it science yet?: Intelligent design creationism and the Constitution. Washington University Law Quaterly 83(1): 1-149. http://law.wustl.edu/WULQ/83-1/p%201%20Brauer%20Forrest%20Gey%20book%20pages.pdf
Many scientists reject evolution and support creationism.
Morris, Henry. 1980. The ICR scientists. Impact 86 (Aug.). http://www.icr.org/index.php?module=articles&action=view&ID=163
Of the scientists and engineers in the United States, only about 5% are creationists, according to a 1991 Gallup poll (Robinson 1995, Witham 1997). However, this number includes those working in fields not related to life origins (such as computer scientists, mechanical engineers, etc.). Taking into account only those working in the relevant fields of earth and life sciences, there are about 480,000 scientists, but only about 700 believe in “creation-science” or consider it a valid theory (Robinson 1995). This means that less than 0.15 percent of relevant scientists believe in creationism. And that is just in the United States, which has more creationists than any other industrialized country. In other countries, the number of relevant scientists who accept creationism drops to less than one tenth of 1 percent.
Additionally, many scientific organizations believe the evidence so strongly that they have issued public statements to that effect (NCSE n.d.). The National Academy of Sciences, one of the most prestigious science organizations, devotes a Web site to the topic (NAS 1999). A panel of seventy-two Nobel Laureates, seventeen state academies of science, and seven other scientific organizations created an amicus curiae brief which they submitted to the Supreme Court (Edwards v. Aguillard 1986). This report clarified what makes science different from religion and why creationism is not science.
One needs to examine not how many scientists and professors believe something, but what their conviction is based upon. Most of those who reject evolution do so because of personal religious conviction, not because of evidence. The evidence supports evolution. And the evidence, not personal authority, is what objective conclusions should be based on.
Often, claims that scientists reject evolution or support creationism are exaggerated or fraudulent. Many scientists doubt some aspects of evolution, especially recent hypotheses about it. All good scientists are skeptical about evolution (and everything else) and open to the possibility, however remote, that serious challenges to it may appear. Creationists frequently seize such expressions of healthy skepticism to imply that evolution is highly questionable. They fail to understand that the fact that evolution has withstood many years of such questioning really means it is about as certain as facts can get.
NAS. 1999. Science and creationism. http://www.nap.edu/html/creationism/
NCSE. 2003. Project Steve, http://www.ncseweb.org/article.asp?category=18
Schafersman, Steven. 2003. Texas Citizens for Science responds to latest Discovery Institute challenge. http://www.texscience.org/files/discovery-signers.htm
Edwards v. Aguillard. 1986. U.S. Supreme Court amicus curiae brief of 72 Nobel laureates (and others). (Case 482 U.S. 578, 1987) http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/edwards-v-aguillard/amicus1.html
NAS. 1999. (see above)
NCSE. n.d., Voices for evolution. http://www.ncseweb.org/article.asp?category=2
Robinson, B. A. 1995. Public beliefs about evolution and creation. http://www.religioustolerance.org/ev_publi.htm
Witham, Larry. 1997. Many scientists see God’s hand in evolution. Reports of the National Center for Science Education 17(6): 33. http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/rncse_content/vol17/5319_many_scientists_see_god39s__12_30_1899.asp
Many mainstream scientists point out serious problems with evolution, including problems with some of its most important points.
Discovery Institute, 2001. A scientific dissent from Darwinism. http://www.discovery.org/articleFiles/PDFs/100ScientistsAd.pdf
There are no known serious problems with the theory of evolution. Claims that there are fall into two (overlapping) categories:
Some supposed problems are questions about details about the mechanisms of evolution. There are, and always will be, unanswered details in every field of science, and evolution is no exception. Creationists take controversies about details out of context to falsely imply controversy about evolution as a whole.
Some supposed problems are misunderstandings, ignorance, or fraudulent claims about what the science says.
NCSE, 2002. Analysis of the Discovery Institute’s bibliography. http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/articles/3878_analysis_of_the_discovery_inst_4_5_2002.asp
Tamzek, Nic, 2002. Icon of obfuscation: Jonathan Wells’ book Icons of Evolution and why most of what it teaches about evolution is wrong. http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/wells/iconob.html
Ben and Jeff,
Why do we want to teach creationism or evolution in our public schools? Why don’t we spend more time teaching our children of the future mathematics, economics, etc., fundamentals that will enable them to be productive citizens for this great country. As for your statement Ben – creationists are harming Texas school children – I beg to differ. Liberalism is the direct advocate for the harming and decline in not only moral values but also common sense. TFN is being irresponsible for our childrens upbringing by bringing irrelevance to our classrooms at the expense of taxpayers money.
No Ben, I am not a religeous zealot – just a normal guy with an above average IQ with an even higher concern for our young men and women that will one day be a direct reflection of our Texas school system. Taxpayers who are funding these public school projects should be outraged.
Dan, do you think students should study biology? Care to have any competent doctors when you get old? Evolution is the underlying foundation of all biology. It has nothing more to do with liberalism than gravity does, or the speed of light. One commenter summed it up well on Talk Origins:
Evolution matters because science matters, and too many people (including some presidents) are willing to believe that science is something you can pick and choose from, with “good” science being anything that supports your own views and “bad” science being anything that doesn’t. Physicists are great guys because they say nothing to offend us, biologists are mad scientists leading us down the path to perdition with their genetic meddling, evolutionists are self-delusional fools, and anyone studying environmental science is a left-wing tree-hugging extremist whose sole goal is to destroy the American economy and lead us to one-world government. If scientists in a given discipline argue about any conclusion, whoever says what you want to hear is the right one. Too many people can’t accept that although scientists are not perfect, and do make mistakes (sometimes whoppers), science isn’t something you can pick through like a buffet, accepting only what is to your “taste” and designating the rest inedible. If people feel free to reject the science of evolution, they feel free to reject any science on no better grounds. Whether my students accept evolution may have little direct effect on my future. Whether they understand biology, ecology, environmental geology (water is a big issue in my community), and other subjects and can make informed decisions regarding scientific issues does matter. If they feel free to reject evolution as part of a “buffet” approach to science, their other choices will be no better informed.
Here’s a great article on why we should teach evolution:
Here’s the most relevant excerpt:
In short, biological evolution accounts for three of the most fundamental features of the world around us: the similarities among living things, the diversity of life, and many features of the physical world we inhabit. Explanations of these phenomena in terms of evolution draw on results from physics, chemistry, geology, many areas of biology, and other sciences. Thus, evolution is the central organizing principle that biologists use to understand the world. To teach biology without explaining evolution deprives students of a powerful concept that brings great order and coherence to our understanding of life.
The teaching of evolution also has great practical value for students. Directly or indirectly, evolutionary biology has made many contributions to society. Evolution explains why many human pathogens have been developing resistance to formerly effective drugs and suggests ways of confronting this increasingly serious problem (this issue is discussed in greater detail in Chapter 2). Evolutionary biology has also contributed to many important agricultural advances by explaining the relationships among wild and domesticated plants and animals and their natural enemies. An understanding of evolution has been essential in finding and using natural resources, such as fossil fuels, and it will be indispensable as human societies strive to establish sustainable relationships with the natural environment.
Such examples can be multiplied many times. Evolutionary research is one of the most active fields of biology today, and discoveries with important practical applications occur on a regular basis.
Hi Dan and Ben,
I do not advocate that we mandate teaching creationism or evolution in the classroom. However, I don’t see it as a problem if we do, either. I do believe we should mandate teaching science in the classroom. I believe we should encourage students to question everything, and to teach them the tools and methods that will help them find answers. To me, this is what science is all about. I also believe we should advocate the evaluation of the relative strengths and weaknesses of competing theories. Students should also be taught to understand that theories without proof are fundamentally weak. I believe a strong foundation in mathematics will help scientists to make better conclusions. Ben’s position (correct me if I’m wrong) is to accept evolution theories without question even though the evidence and conclusions currently available are admittedly without proof. Ben seems to believe that anyone who does not accept all facets of evolutionary theory are either creationists, nut cases, ignorant, or insincere. I simply disagree with Ben’s view.
Jeff, thanks. I agree with you and your concerns about Ben – he’s obviously on a mission to instill in our childrens minds everything and anything that will try and steer them away from any form of religion. I have nothing against people of faith. If prayer is needed in someones life that prevents him or her from shooting or stabbing me, a family member, or friend, I say – pray on my friend – pray on!
March 6, 2009 at 2:18 pm
Dan, do you think students should study biology? Care to have any competent doctors when you get old? Evolution is the underlying foundation of all biology. It has nothing more to do with liberalism than gravity does, or the speed of light. One commenter summed it up well on Talk Origins:
Biology is very interesting as is science and should be taught along with economics, mathematics, economics, chemistry, etc to ensure that our students will one day be productive citizens of society. If teaching evolution will make better doctors then all logic must be directed at the teachings of evolution in college curriculums to students that are pursuing careers in the medical field as well as scientists. Why do you feel that you need to impose this issue on high school students? Evolution and creationism shall be given as options to college students to decide – not school children that don’t have a choice! I also like how you proclaimed this issue has nothing to do with Liberalism! Ha now that was funny – whats the name of this website and organization – nice slam on Bush too, by the way! I think people such as you and your ilk need to go back to whatever “blue” state you migrated here from and leave Texas and its young minds alone!
Please don’t be a hypocrite – you’re obviously an atheist which is also considered to be your religion, or non-religion. I’m considered neither but heres a great suggestion to you, if we allow the idea of evolution to be taught then we also need to bring back school prayer! Come on man, lets compromise here! No? Thats what I thought!
Retired US Navy
“Ben’s position (correct me if I’m wrong) is to accept evolution theories without question even though the evidence and conclusions currently available are admittedly without proof.”
Admittedly? By who? Pseudoscientists?
There is so much evidence in favor of evolution, you couldn’t read it all in your lifetime. By the time you got through with the current enormous stack of evidence, when you were old and gray, there’d be another mountain of evidence waiting for you.
All creationist claims against evolution have been refuted many times over. But you keep slinging mud and repeating the same worn-out claims because evolution threatens your concept of “god.” Dishonest and shameful on your part. Probably not all your fault, because your parents (or close friends) are likely responsible for your religious views.
Scientists question evolution continually, in many ways, but it holds up, and it has held up for a century and a half. Sorry. I know it bothers you, but you should just get past it. Use reason, not emotion.
“Ben seems to believe that anyone who does not accept all facets of evolutionary theory are either creationists, nut cases, ignorant, or insincere.”
Delete “all facets of” and, yes, that’s about right.
Jeff, most of the time, where you use the word “proof,” you should be using the word “evidence” instead. Do you understand why? If you truly have an interest in science, you should know the answer.
“Please don’t be a hypocrite – you’re obviously an atheist which is also considered to be your religion, or non-religion. I’m considered neither but heres a great suggestion to you, if we allow the idea of evolution to be taught then we also need to bring back school prayer! Come on man, lets compromise here! No? Thats what I thought!”
Atheism is a religion in the same way bald is a hair color.
There should be no compromise when it comes to zealots who mount religion-driven nonsensical attacks on the theory of evolution.
“…he’s obviously on a mission to instill in our childrens minds everything and anything that will try and steer them away from any form of religion.”
You’re free to teach your children whatever you want, but don’t ask for your mythology to be taught in school, or to be used to attack sound scientific theory.
Wow, I missed this one:
“I think people such as you and your ilk need to go back to whatever “blue” state you migrated here from and leave Texas and its young minds alone!”
That’s so ridiculous, it sounds like satire. But, apparently, you were serious. So I’ll respond: Sorry, I was born and raised here. If it makes you feel any better, I drive a truck, hunt deer (with a rifle and a bow), and chew tobacco. Does any of that make my opinion more or less relevant? Texans with an attitude like yours are an embarrassment to our state.
Why did you feel the need to mention you were in the navy? I appreciate your service, but that doesn’t make your comments on this issue any more relevant.
Are you a Christian? I’m guessing you are. Plenty of Christians agree with me on this issue. I’m sure it’s easy for you to dismiss me by thinking, “Well, Ben is an atheist, so his opinion doesn’t matter.” But what about the Christians? Are they wrong? Misguided? Do they commit blasphemy by accepting the theory of evolution? Are they trying to steer kids away from religion? Please share your wisdom on this.
Hi Ben and Dan, Actually Ben, it was your source (pro evolutionists) that admitted the theory of evolution was unproved:
CA202 Response: “Nothing in the real world can be proved with absolute certainty. However, high degrees of certainty can be reached. In the case of evolution, we have huge amounts of data from diverse fields.
Lets look more closely at this response. First, I disagree with the first sentence. Second, high degrees of certainty and huge amounts of data/evidence do not, in any way, imply proof. Sometimes evidence does lead to good conclusions and high degrees of certainty. Sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it is very misleading and poorly interpreted. I think this happens to be the case for macro evolution theories. I make money all the time because people believe they have the answer, when they in fact are mistaken. It helps to think outside the box Ben.
I’m sorry Ben, but it is you, not me, who is making assertions in regards to religion, creationism, etc. I’m sorry if you think I’m mud slinging. I’m not trying to do that. I think it would be best if you focus on the science. I believe the mudslinging and derogatory statements of many evolutionists deeply undermines their credibility.
In regards to Steven Schafersman, I believe he is a huge discredit to evolutionary theory. He is a prime example of the so-called pro evolutionists I am referring to that are doing more to undermine the theory of evolution than they are to advocate it.
And Ben, most of the time, where you use the word “evidence,” I think you should be thinking more about the word “proof” instead. It could be helpful to learn the power in that and better understand the weaknesses of relying on unproved data/evidence. Ben, don’t get me wrong, I admire your passion, but try removing the blinders, and maybe on your own, thoroughly evaluate even one of the claims — and not by reading the stuff you find on the Internet. Maybe we could do some real science. I would be glad to participate.
Sorry, I didn’t mean to mention my service – i sign many documents that way. Honestly – I put that in there on purpose – I figured I get a brainwashing reply from you since some people think our military is nothing but changing the way we think.
Ridiculous to mention the fact that so many people are migrating to this great state as well with an agenda to change the way “most” Texans were raised? Pay attention to license plates in your area. I was raised a catholic but I haven’t been in a church in over 35 years and like I said previously – I hold nothing against people of faith. Unlike liberals who proclaim to be “open minded” and “tolerant” of everything with the exception of people with faith. Why is that? I guess I’m a liberal when it comes to open mindedness except when there is no need of evolution or creationism in our public school system! Leave it to colleges as an option for college students to attend and make up their own mind with a decision to attend either one, or both – don’t force this upon our children!
I too drive a truck but only hunt deer with a rifle. I smoke cigarettes like a chimney and drink more Jack Daniels than I’d like to admit. I pay attention to what is happening with young kids in todays society and it scares the you-know-what out of me. For years I was involved with Big Brothers/Big Sisters – I had to quit because I wanted to tear apart a few parents that didn’t care what their child was doing, who they were hanging out with, and most had no respect for anyone, including the parents. Children today need something in their lives; be it role models, parents or guardians that CARE, something other than what is being taught either from the television, internet, or just by peer pressure. I care deeply about these kid’s and what their future holds. Some parents do think that religion is the answer – I don’t hold that against them – its their children and they’re ultimitely responsible for their upbringing. Same holds true with atheists – if they want to raise their children with that belief – great! Niether side is right or wrong – just teach them respect for everyone, good work ethics, and right from wrong. Something our public school system has been negligent on for many years. KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid – thats my belief system and I think I turned out alright. With the exceptions, of course, of Marlboro’s and Jack Daniels!!!!
Jeff, you’re using the old creationist trick—acting as if you’re the reasonable one who wants to promote science. Pretty transparent. Doesn’t your god require you to be honest?
You really are ignorant about science, aren’t you? The theory of evolution is considered unproven to the extent that scientists NEVER consider ANY theory to be “proven.” What they do is weigh the evidence in favor of a theory, and the evidence in favor of evolution is massive. If that scares you, ask your god what to do. Maybe he can help you accept reality.
Hey look! Here’s a page that was written just for Jeff:
Here’s what that page says:
Has Evolution Been Proven?
No, it has not been.
Many creationists would be content to end this essay there, but in reality, the situation is not so simple. To argue against the theory of evolution by saying that it “hasn’t been proven” is to demonstrate a severe misunderstanding of the nature of science, which this essay will endeavor to correct.
It is true that the theory of evolution has not been proven – if, by that term, one means established beyond any further possibility of doubt or refutation. On the other hand, neither has atomic theory, the theory of relativity, quantum theory, or indeed any other theory in science. The reason for this is that science does not deal in absolute proof, only in the balance of the evidence.
To see why this is and must be true, imagine that we are scientists seeking to explain some feature of the natural world. Based on the evidence available to us, we can construct a hypothesis – an educated guess – which we offer as that explanation. If more evidence turns up that supports our hypothesis, if our hypothesis is testable and falsifiable, and if our hypothesis can be used to make predictions which turn out to be correct – if all these things are true, then our hypothesis graduates to the status of a theory and, in time, becomes accepted scientific wisdom.
But how do we really know the original hypothesis is true? What if it completely misses the mark, but gives the right answers just by coincidence? Or what if it is just an approximation, giving generally correct answers while failing to capture the true reality of what is going on? How can we ever be sure that these things are not the case?
The answer is, of course, that we cannot know this. This is why no scientific theory, including evolution, is ever considered to be proven. The more evidence that accumulates to support a theory, the more our confidence in it grows. Eventually, a point may be reached where the quantity of evidence supporting the theory is so vast, so overwhelming, that further attempts to deny or question it would be futile and unfounded. This is the case with the theory of evolution, as it is the case with the other theories, such as the atomic theory of matter or the theory of plate tectonics, that form the pillars of modern science. But this is not absolute proof. Not even the best-supported, most thoroughly verified theories of science are put on a pedestal and considered infallible, since at any time, some shocking new piece of evidence might turn up that completely contradicts accepted knowledge. We have no way of knowing that this will not happen in the future.
This is not to imply that the theory of evolution is in any way tentative or uncertain. On the contrary, it is extremely robust, backed by over a hundred years of research, experiment and observation. In all that time, not a single piece of evidence that seriously contradicts any part of it has ever turned up. Within the scientific community, evolution is not at all controversial and is no longer questioned; it is considered to be a fact, as simple and indisputable as gravity. While it can never be absolutely proven, it has come as close to attaining this status as it is possible for any scientific theory to be. To attack evolution by labeling it an “unproven theory” misses the point entirely. There is a saying in some scientific circles: “Proof is for mathematics and alcohol.”
Dan, it looks like you and I agree on some things, but not about teaching evolution in high school. We’ll just have to agree to disagree. Thanks for sharing your input. I appreciate the fact that you don’t use deceptive tactics in speaking your mind.
This is a funny (and painfully accurate) essay:
March 7, 2009 at 7:53 pm
“Ben’s position (correct me if I’m wrong) is to accept evolution theories without question even though the evidence and conclusions currently available are admittedly without proof.”
Admittedly? By who? Pseudoscientists?
There is so much evidence in favor of evolution, you couldn’t read it all in your lifetime. By the time you got through with the current enormous stack of evidence, when you were old and gray, there’d be another mountain of evidence waiting for you.
Just another one of my points. If I cant learn all of the science (that you proclaim to be out there) in my lifetime, how in the hell are we going to teach high school students in only 3 or 4 years? 3 or 4 years nonetheless with teachers that don’t know shat from shinola!! These teachers that will be teaching, or reading the instructions from this curriculum can’t even teach our children how to spell, add, subtract, divide, converse, multiply, etc. And you want these morons to try and teach our children evolution and creationism AND biology and science, math, chemisty, et al??? Come on, Ben. You have too much faith in most teachers, obviously!
no military experience, no common sense, no morals,
I’m just a loser
Sorry Ben, I disagree with you and the writers you reference. Many of the statements are simply untrue and most are very inaccurate. I’m not attempting to use any ploy and, don’t worry, there is no conspiracy plot against evolutionists. I’m sorry that you are so threatened by religion and Christians. Maybe you should have a little more faith — both in yourself and the theory you promote! It’s pretty obvious you have very little.
Dan, nobody is expecting our high-school students to become professional biologists. I disagree about our teachers.
Jeff, typical creationist response. Throw more mud when you can’t refute the facts. That’s really easy to do, by the way. Like this:
“Sorry Jeff, I disagree with you and the bible you hold dear. All of the statements are simply untrue and most are very inaccurate. I’m not attempting to use any ploy and, don’t worry, there is no conspiracy plot against Christians. I’m sorry that you are so threatened by the real world. Maybe you should use a little more logic — both in your daily life and and the way you view science! It’s pretty obvious you don’t have a rational mind.”
You are a classic denialist. You follow all the debate tactics on this page:
I should revise one sentence above:
Dan, nobody is expecting our high-school students to become professional biologists–while they are still in high school.
Theories aren’t generally “proven”. They can be confirmed, and there is a lot of evidence confirming evolution. Or they can be disproven, but that is unlikely in a theory with as much evidence for it, and each time we conduct a test or measurment which could disprove evolution we end up confirming it again. I notice you mention the lack of observation of macro-evolution as a weakness. Some things do take to long to be observed within just a few centuries, but we do have circumstantial confirmation of macro-evolution. We have observed naturally occurring changes and rates of changes in genomes, and from these we have been able to calibrate a genetic distances and a genetic “clock” between species that is consistent with evidence from the geological record.
Do you have any scientific theories in mind which you consider examples of theories which have been “proven”? I’m not recalling any that can be characterized that way off hand, but don’t pretend to have reviewed them all.
You ignored my previous challenge. So, I challenge you again. Let’s do some real science and get over the ranting and raving and mud slinging. Or, can you not walk the talk? We can report the results of our research here on the TFN blog, and better yet, in refereed scientific journals. Dan, you are also welcome to participate. Following is one possibility:
I’ve been interested in setting up a meteor tracking network to reconstruct the 3D trajectories of meteors visible in the Earth’s atmosphere. The goal is to accurately establish the trajectories of meteors, determine their composition, possibly their origin, to learn more about the origin of the Universe, and to deduce and map out the composition of the mesosphere and thermosphere based on the spectral signatures of burning meteors. My goal is to be able to reconstruct trajectories to within an eighth of a mile at any point along the actual trajectory. I am also interested in predicting if a meteor has the potential to reach Earth based on these observations. Another goal is to collect meteorites we have tracked and to conduct material assays, and examine them for evidence of extraterrestrial life. Some meteorites are worth $2000 a gram! We will use relatively low-cost CCTV-type cameras and lenses. The video signal will be digitized and captured on a computer where it will be processed to automatically detect and track meteors. Data from multiple tracking stations will be shared, via the Internet, to reconstruct the 3D trajectories. I can help to get you started collecting data. I would also be interested in helping to set up tracking stations at schools across the country (probably middle school- and high school-aged kids would be most appropriate). I think it would be a great way to increase interest in science and engineering in our young kids. There are probably an endless number of experiments that could be conducted to help answer questions such as 1) How fast are meteors moving through the atmosphere? 2) What is the variation in speeds? 3) How long do they burn? 4) How bright do they burn? 5) What are they composed of? 6) Which direction do they come from? 7) Can we estimate their mass? 8) Can we predict if they will reach Earth? 9) Is there a taxonomy of meteors?, 10) Can we measure and map out the composition of the mesosphere and thermosphere?, 11) Is there anything to be learned about the origin of the Universe? 12) Do all meteors fly on straight-line trajectories or can the trajectories curve dramatically or spiral?, 13) Can meteors provide proof of extraterrestrial life?, 14) Are meteoroids uniformly distributed throughout the Universe?, 15) How fast do meteors decelerate after they enter the atmosphere?, 16) Can the deceleration profile be used to determine and map out the density of the atmosphere? These are just a few of the questions we could seek answers to. Maybe you have some questions your interested in investigating?
I appreciate your feedback. I agree with most all your remarks about theories. I don’t like the word confirmation, however. And, I don’t think evidence confirms a theory. I also know that statements made with respect to a theory can be proven or disproved. If a statement can be proved, then it is referred to as a theorem. In mathematics, a theorem is a proven statement based on previously established statements such as axioms. It would be helpful to the evolutionist’s cause if they would generate a body of theorems in support of their theory.
Jeff, thanks, but that challenge doesn’t interest me at all. I hope you know more about meteors than you do about evolution.
You never answered—are you a creationist? Do you believe the “theory” of intelligent design? If you do, I have a challenge I’d like to throw your way. Much more fun than the one you describe.
OK Ben, what do you propose? Jeff
Oh Ben, FYI, I know very little about meteors or the answers to the questions I posed. I’m more interested in the scientific discovery at this point. And, I’m interested in finding out more about meteors. I’m interested in developing measurement capabilities, wrt 3D measurement of meteor trajectories, that exceeds what is currently available and is readily usable by budding young scientists. That’s all, Jeff
Here is what I do know about meteors.
The great majority of meteors we observe in the atmosphere are believed to be between 50 – 75 miles above the surface of the earth. At an altitude of 75 miles, the atmosphere is just dense enough that they start to burn. At 50 miles up, most have already burned out. This means, ideal camera separations are between 100 miles and 150 miles apart. Closer cameras are better for the rare ones that come closer than 50 miles. The average speed of meteors is roughly 50 miles per second. Meteors are broken into two general categories: shower and sporadics. The shower meteors all appear to originate from the same point in the sky, like the Geminid
Again, you didn’t answer the question. Are you a creationist? By “creationist” I mean someone who interprets the bible literally, or at least Genesis.
Is there some reason you don’t want to answer that question? Why do you keep ducking it?
My challenge will be meaningless to a person who isn’t a creationist (or a proponent of intelligent design, which is, let’s face it, the same thing).
Sorry, I accidentally pressed submit comment!
The shower meteors all appear to originate from the same point in the sky, like the Geminid meteors. That point is referred to as the radiant. The sporadics don’t come from any particular point in the sky. Most of the big fireballs observed are sporadics. And of all the meteors, there are 3 basic compositions. The vast majority are ice balls — debris shed from comets that are in orbit around the sun. Most of the shower-type meteors are ice balls. The next most common is metal based such as nickel or iron. The least common, supposedly, are the stony meteors. They might be more common than people think though. Since they blend in so well with stones on earth, they are much more difficult to find. There is a lot of controversy surrounding theories of the origins of meteors and there is also a lot of valuable knowledge that can still be learned. I know a little bit more. I do think it is an intriguing area to study. After all, meteors are shooting stars!
For an atheist, you sure like to talk about religion. How about we talk more about science. I didn’t join this blog to talk about religion. So what is your proposal?
You made me smile. I knew you’d chicken out.
Actually, it’s creationists who like to “talk about science,” in the form of slinging mud at evolution. They definitely DON’T want to talk about creationism because it’s such an easy “theory” for a person with a rational mind to destroy. That wasn’t the point I was trying to make with my proposal, but since you appear ashamed of being a creationist, I’m afraid my proposal won’t do either of us any good.
See, what creationists try to do is boost their dogma by attacking evolution—because they somehow think that will make creationism appear stronger. Strange, isn’t it? Most creationists are obsessed with evolution, probably out of insecurity. You appear to be one of those.
If you really want to talk science, why don’t you visit a science blog? I recommend http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/
I sent Africangenesis over there and he’s a regular now. Can’t keep him off of there. He hated it at first, because some people over there don’t respond well to irrational claims. But if you truly want to talk about science, there are very few places on the Internet that are as well-populated with legitimate scientists who are ready to talk. I’m not a scientist, so I enjoy reading, learning, and commenting there occasionally.
Are you really as sincere and open-minded as you claim? Go to that site and show me that you are. That’s my new challenge. Of course, if you’re a creationist and you simply spout recycled tripe, you’ll be treated accordingly.
By the way, don’t creationists claim that creationism IS science? They’re always offering up nonsense that they claim is scientific. Then they get destroyed by real scientists.
By the way, Jeff, you might want to reread the blog entry at the top of the page. It’s all about creationists and their lame attempts to discredit the theory of evolution. So, yes, my asking you if you’re a creationist is right on topic. I find it amusing that I’m much more willing to claim my atheism than you are to claim your creationism. Of course, I can’t say I blame you.
You are arguing with a fence tree—quite likely some stooge affiliated with The Discovery Institute. I would just stop because it is an exercise in futility. Jeff knows that, and he is just leading you on until you burst a major blood vessel. Because neither one of you is a biologist with the proper backgrounds at the Ph. D level, some of the missiles hurled on both sides are most likely some variant of “hot air, ” and this argument could continue forever—like playing solitaire with a deck of 51 cards.
I do think that Ben’s arguments were better all around, but that is just my opinion. I am not a biologist either. I would offer you a piece of advice Ben. It is unwise to argue with a creationist because it really is like arguing with a tree. Facts, no matter how earnestly and honestly obtained, mean little to them. The only thing that really matters to Jeff is the following: “My understanding Genesis 1 says X; therefore, your contradictory fact Y must be wrong.” There is no way you or anyone else on this planet can fight against someone like Jeff—not because he is right—but because any stubborn person can simply dig their feet on a position and stick with whatever they believe NO MATTER WHAT. If someone like Jeff earnestly believes that 2 + 2 = 5; then neither you nor anyone else will ever convince him that 2 +2 = 4. It is a human impossibility. Jeff knows that, and he suckered you pretty good. No offense intended because I like you Ben. The Texas Freedom Network, other organizations like it, and groups of concerned scientists (many of whom are Christians) do not waste their time on people like Jeff because they know he is a lost cause. We are interested in reaching the millions upon millions of sincere, honest, and reasonable people in Texas and elsewhere (both Christians and nonChristians) who are not lost causes like Jeff—people who are really open-minded and would like to decide for themselves where they stand. Jeff wanted you to waste your energy on him. In fact, he set you up to drain you dry. That is the nature of his deceitful game. If he can suck all of the energy and fight out of you, none will be left for the people we really need to reach. Refocus.
Jeff: I have only five words and a comma for you because your deceitful ways are utterly transparent: “Get thee behind me, Satan.” (Matthew 16:23).
You are confusing deduction with induction. Science involves inferences from evidence, not deductions from axioms. With deductions from axioms you learn provably true things about the implications of the axions. With inferences from evidence you don’t get provable truth, but you have the compensating advantage that your results are about reality not just about the implications of axioms. You won’t find scientific theories that are “proven”. Due to past experiences, I don’t like the word “confirmation” either, but that isn’t particularly relevant to how scientific theories and the confirmation process works.
Charles, you are right, of course. It’s just so darn hard to let deception and dishonesty stand when someone like Jeff stops by and unloads so many lies. But that’s the wisest move, to just let him blather. The reasonable and logical people will know that’s what his type does. Plus, at least I got a good laugh that he wouldn’t even admit to being a creationist. I’ve encountered a lot of them, but he’s the first to be quite that cowardly. Wise counsel, Charles. Thanks.
AfricanGenesis, Dan, Charles, and Ben,
It looks like I wore out my welcome. Well, Charles at least has a sense of humor! But sorry Charles, I’m not being deceitful. Those are just my beliefs. I’m sorry they offend you so. It makes me feel that you guys are actually the ones being close minded. I’m not trying to mislead anyone. You can believe as you like, even though I believe your beliefs are full of holes — full of weaknesses. And don’t worry Ben, I’m not trying to suck the life out of you as Charles contends. I just like talking about science and, even better, doing science. I thought from the main title of this blog that I would be talking to people with a passion for science. Obviously, I was wrong — with possibly the exceptions of Dan and AfricanGenesis. And sorry Ben, you are the only one on this blog spouting recycled tripe! Well have at it, there is more and more being loaded on the Internet every day!! I think that is what will suck the life out of you. I hope you find happiness in what you are doing.
I’m sorry I couldn’t get any takers on doing some real scientific discovery. I think it could have been fun and a great opportunity to really learn about and better understand each of our viewpoints. It’s unfortunate you mistrust me so. Ben, I will check out the site you recommended.
Notice the sucubus waxing reasonable in an attempt to regain equilibrium so he can engage you again and get the last pint of your blood for the vampires at The Discovery Institute. Ben is a good fighter. I just hope the people who really need to hear him will do so. He may not be a Christian, but he sure does know that the Religious Right in Texas is what we southerner’s call “…up to no good.”
Charles, yeah, it’s pretty pathetic.
Here’s the net takeaway:
1. He said he only wanted to talk about science.
2. He did NOT want to talk about creationism.
3. Ergo, creationism isn’t science.
Funny to see a creationist inadvertently admit that.
I’m sure he’ll come back with another “Oh, you’ve got me all wrong” type of message, but that’s always good for a laugh.
Charles, I wish that all Christians were as logical, rational, reasonable, and level-headed about evolution as you are.
A great excerpt from a current post at Pharyngula:
A lesson plan that includes creationism should plainly show that experiment and observation have irrefutably demonstrated that it is now a splintered pile of cack-minded gobshite, wrecked by a century and a half of discovery, and that its supporters now are reduced to pathetically feeble rationalizations that rely almost entirely on people’s emotional dependence on the legitimacy of their religious beliefs. A science class isn’t the place to rip into airy-fairy religiosity — we have other venues for that — but it should uncompromisingly demolish every attempt to link natural, material events to pious metaphysics. If a student comes out of such a class believing that maybe there is still something to the Genesis explanation of the origins of life, then the instructor has not done her job. Her job was to explain with science how the world works, and if anyone wants to smuggle in the seven days and the magic fruit tree and the talking snake, it should be so the teacher can show the students that that is not how it works.
I’m willing to grant creationism an hour or two in the classroom, as long as its role is to be an easy victim, to demonstrate how science can be used to eviscerate bad ideas (I also know from experience that most students find that extremely entertaining, as well as informative). From what I’ve seen of most of the creationist curricula advanced by these quacks, that isn’t what they want. To which we have to say, then it isn’t science.
Actually, I have a few quietly held crackpot ideas of my own about how the world and eberything in it could be just 5000 years old. They require that God be defined as a supernatural trickster. In addition, they resort to propositions that involve: 1) actuality of the Holideck in Star Trek and 2) invoking the movie “The Matrix” concept.
Basically, this world of “mental consciousness” that each of us perceives around us (and our seeming part in it) are Holideck or Matrix illusions. For example, that computer screen in front of your face right now is an illusion. It is not real. It is not there. Instead, its seeming presence is part of an elaborate and highly technological movie, computer program, or matrix-type illusion that exists far beyond our technological capabilities—so far that we could scarcely understand it. The program (which has the ability to mutate and self-create to a certain extent within itself—evolution) began running about 5000 Earth years ago, and the movie or computer program began with the Genesis 1 SCENES—sort of an overture to a grand opera. The geological record, the scientific relationships in the natural world, and so forth are just fictional stage dressing like the rest of the story. Their consistency was designed to fool and mislead certain large numbers of human characters in the grand play.
Although the world around us is just an illusion, as I have described, we humans are actually real and stored away in some place that is beyond our perception—perhaps a factory of some sort. In fact, our physical form may be very different from how we perceive of ourselves. Each of us may be in reality a basketball-sized sphere of pure energy on a conveyor belt going into some strange QA/QC testing area at a factory. The owner of the mysterious factory (called God by us) has a testing criterion for each sphere. For whatever reason, no value judgements here, the most important thing to this God guy is whether any given energy sphere can perceive his existence in spite of the 3-dimensional movie or computer program illusion that he has created around each person. In a Biblical sense, he wants to identify those energy spheres that can perceive his hidden existence and be able to accept without question a really weird and illusory creation story that he has told them in the movie or program—and accept both on pure faith alone rather than a resort to apparent facts that at least seem like firm, scientific, factual knowledge—but really are not. The test will be failed by those energy spheres who believe that they have observed factual knowledge indicating 15 billion years of geological time and the law of superposition. These spheres are operating by sight rather than the required faith—and the sight is fooling them into believing that this God guy cannot exist because of the internal consistency in the natural surroundings illusion. These knowledge spheres will fail the test and be taken to the trash heap out in back of the factory. The faith-based energy spheres will be saved and carried on to some higher purpose in the factory because they have perceived this God guy’s presence in spite of the 3-dimensional illusions and have held to his weird sounding Genesis 1 story on faith alone. Of course, even the Genesis 1 portion of the movie or computer program was an illusion too—as were the scientific relationships in the imaginary natural world. However, the salvation goes to those energy spheres who can perceive the existence of God by faith alone in spite of the “facts” and hold on to the Genesis 1 illusion as fact no matter what. Why this God guy would do something like this is utter mystery, and the true nature of the usefulness of the saved spheres is also a mystery. However, the movie or computer program that is our world—that is our universe—has really only been running for 5000 Earth years. It is literally 5000 years old.
Now. That is just one way of looking at it. Many such stories are no doubt possible.
Then there is also this conversation possible future:
God: “Glad to see you Fred. You made it to the streets of gold.
Fred: Wow!!! I did—but I need to ask you about something.
God: What is that?
Fred: “Well, was Genesis 1 actual history and science like we all believed?
God: “No. Not at all.”
Fred: “Well, then why did you tell it to us without indicating that it was fiction. We all thought it was real. You wanted us to believe everything in the Bible. Right?”
God: “Yes, that was the point. It was a test of faith alone and the capacity to hold on to it no matter what.”
Fred: “Well, I almost hate having to ask. All that evolution stuff? Was that real?
God: “Yes, most of it was—although the scientists missed a few details because humans are fallible—but most of the evolution story was true and correct as they figured it out.”
Fred: “Then why…”
God: “I wanted you to believe in Genesis 1 solely because I told you to do it. Faith is the most important thing to me. Even though Genesis 1 was fiction and evolution was true, the most important thing is the fact that you did what I told you to do even in the face of clear factual information to the contrary. You obeyed me. That and the faith are all that is important to me. Whether the stories were factually true or not is irrelevant.”
However, despite the two above possibilities, Charles is still inclined to think that faith is important anyway, evolution is true, and Genesis 1 is a parable from the GREATEST TELLER OF PARABLES. If the fundies and scientists were to ever quit shredding each other with straight razors over who is correct, and just immerse themselves in the parable story-line, symbols, and implications, we might see a way towards some peace and real truth.
Charles, thanks for the thoughtful posts. Interesting theory. You’re right, many such stories are no doubt possible. Another example is the Satan-wrote-the-bible theory I formulated in a previous thread. There is, of course, no way to prove I’m wrong. That’s why it’s especially irritating when creationists say, “You can’t prove god doesn’t exist.” Most of them, however, don’t bring up religion, but instead simply attack evolution, as we saw above.
Another theory I like to throw at creationists happens to be the converse of your theory. Here it is: God (specifically Yahweh, not some other god) does in fact exist. The thing he values more than anything else is the ability to use reason and think logically. So he specifically wrote Genesis to weed out the people who don’t think logically. Anyone who interprets Genesis literally is doomed. Atheists, on the other hand—well, God thinks we’re supercool. For some reason, creationists don’t like this theory.
I’m not in total agreement with this woman, but in this case I would have to say your viewpoints thread the needle to the point of unreasonableness. There is nothing beneficial to be gained by opposing the publication of any textbook that is to be used in the classroom of any Texas public school. Biology is biology and it does not change. It has nothing whatsover to do with one’s on personal beliefs or that of a child. The role and reason for schools existence is to educate period. Nothing more and nothing less. The classroom should not be the pulpit for any religion, special interest group, conservationist, evolutionist or what have you. The core values that children should know and learn is a parents responsibility and should not be taught or expected to be taught in the domain of a classroom or by a teacher. Quit with all the finger pointing and condemnation and focus on teaching children what they need to know in or to succeed in todays world!
Good post Andy!