Texas State Board of Education member Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, is crowing about the state’s new science standards in her April edition of The Cargill Connection (an e-mail newsletter). Ms. Cargill is thrilled that the standards require that students learn “all sides” of scientific evidence regarding evolution. She and other creationists on the board have made it clear they will use that standard to pressure publishers to include phony, long-discredited arguments against evolution in new science textbooks up for adoption in Texas in 2011.
Then Ms. Cargill notes a series of her amendments to the standards that the board approved:
I labored for months seeking input from science educators and experts before offering over twenty amendments for the elementary TEKS. All of these passed! Our young students will study the planets (they had been omitted), experiment with simple machines like pulleys, and make predictions using weather maps.
What?!? Those evil, liberal, education-establishment heathens! Why, they were even trying to HIDE THE EXISTENCE OF THE SOLAR SYSTEM’S PLANETS FROM OUR KIDS!
Good grief. Did Ms. Cargill honestly think students wouldn’t be learning about the planets in their science classrooms? Really? Yes, we can almost hear the publishers: “Teaching about the planets is just sooo boring. You’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. A lot of them are just gassy blobs anyway. What else is there to say? So we figured science teachers wouldn’t notice or particularly care if we left them out of the textbooks.”
Thankfully, Ms. Cargill rode to the rescue. Of course, she also succeeded in eliminating from the standards the scientific consensus that the universe is nearly 14 billion years old. So kids will learn about the planets but better not ask how old they are.
42 thoughts on “Liberals Are Hiding the Planets from Kids!”
To clarify: the solar system is about 4.6 billion years old. I doubt you meant for “14 billions years old” to be correlated with “how old [the planets] are,” but I read it that way.
Ms. Cargill will be happy to know that the planets in our solar system were all created about 7000 years after the first Native Americans boated down the Pacific Coast of North American and began spreading inland. This both raises and answers one of the great questions of our times: “Which came first, the planet or the boat”? Thanks to Ms. Cargill, we now know for certain that the boat was created before the planets. Texas science comes to the rescue of all mankind.
And yes. You are right. Because there would have been no Planet Earth when the boat was created, the Native American boat was really the first space ship. That means that Native Americans were the first human beings in space, fully 12,000 years earlier than Yuri Gagarin. Wow!!!!
This is where Texas science is headed folks. Hold on to your hats. This is going to be one wild ride!!!
Ironically, it is apparent from Barbara Cargill’s bio that she has one of the strongest scientific backgrounds of all the members of the SBOE —
Also, Cargill introduced or seconded many of the proposed amendments of the new Texas science standards —
Also, Cynthia Dunbar, probably the biggest fundy on the SBOE, also has a strong background in science, particularly biological science. She obtained her undergraduate degree in biology and psychology from the University of Missouri, Kansas City, and she currently teaches anatomy & physiology to high school juniors and seniors —
All of this sort of blows a big hole in Darwinists’ theory that doubting evolution is the result of ignorance.
“All of this sort of blows a big hole in Darwinists’ theory that doubting evolution is the result of ignorance.”
In those cases it appears to be willful ignorance, not just garden-variety ignorance.
“All of this sort of blows a big hole in Darwinists’ theory that doubting evolution is the result of ignorance.”
It actually shows that political motives can trump science, truth, and reality when the conditions allow it. Thus the necessity of ridding SBOE of liars, frauds, and charlatans.
But you already knew that.
And she went to Baylor.
Charles summed it up well when he said that fundies won’t accept anything that is at odds with Genesis. They’ll fight it until the bitter end, just as Larry is doing.
Mr. Fafarman mindlessly repeats the so-called scientific qualifications of Ms. Dunbar, including the unsubstantiated claim in her bio that she “teaches high school juniors and seniors”. Where does she do this? In her living room? She neither practices nor understands science.
Good Grief! Not all creationists are ignorant — although Dunbar seems to be ignorant of much of reality. Some of them just do not accept what science reveals and go to great rhetorical lengths to contort the facts to fit their peculiar beliefs. There is a retired engineer in California that seems to fit this description.
Creationists believe that “liberal” thinkers are shoving global warming on the world as a “Democratic” plot and trying to keep God out of schools to push heretical thinking on unsuspecting Texas students. While the rest of the world moves ahead in science, we move backwards. How tragic that their machine gun approach to the teaching of science will knock holes in substantiated, well-tested knowledge. They do not realize that their strident beliefs will hasten the slow demise of the power of our once great country. I suppose most of them are eagerly awaiting “the endtimes,” when folks like me will be left behind.
How sad for them when the only thing that happens is our coastlines are flooded, our bread-basket is a desert, and their children and grandchildren are living a nightmare. If ever we needed good science, it is now.
Rather than “blowing a hole in the ‘Darwinists’ theory’ that doubting evolution is the result of ignorance”, from these bios and the public behavior of these two individuals the most rational conclusion one might draw would be that commitment to conservative Republicanism carries with it the potential to corrupt a scientific background.
Texas is sssooooo.. provincial. Let’s return to the times of knights in shining armor, crusades and ignorance. Perhaps the Bushes could be the first royal family of Texas, too. Yeah. Let’s go medieval! Texas can become a (bigger) black hole, a cesspool, of ignorance. Then the rest of us can live happily, but elsewhere.
Yeah, “liberals are hiding the planets from kids.” An interesting allegation to make, especially when one considers it was the Church that denied Gallileo’s “theories.” How ironic.
I’m not impressed with Ms. Dunbar’s alleged biology degree. Her degree only says that she completed the curriculum requirements. Her degree does not state that she abandoned her fundamentalist preferred beliefs nor even had the courage to question them.
Yeah, I used to sort of accept the Bible until I engaged critical thinking and started to question this God of the Bible who commanded his people Thou shalt not murder – then commanded his people to murder. Ms. Dunbar evidently has never exercised her brain in any such way. If she has, she has not been honest enough to admit it.
I know several people with B.A.’s who can’t spell or distinguish a complete sentence from a phase or run-on sentence. I knew one grad who didn’t even know where the sun comes up nor could he identify the call of a crow. He thought it was a hawk.
On several occasions, I have mentioned to you nice folks that extreme right wing Christian Neo-Fundamentalism is a relatively new animal that has only been on the scene for about 30 years—and that it is in many ways unlike the Christian fundamentalism that our grandparents knew. Because we are talking about global warming, let me give you a specific example of just one of the whacko “Right Doctrines” that a number of these people are pushing. This doctrine is called (and it takes a lot of spiritual arrogance if you ask me) is called:
“FORCING THE HAND OF GOD”
You can check out the book at the URL below if you like. The comment that I would like to make is this. Many of these people WANT global warning. They WANY rivers filled with hazardous waste. They WANT a world that goes to Hades in a handbasket—and they are WORKING TO ACHIEVE JUST THAT. Why? They believe that if they can make human existence as miserable as possible and nearly destroy the entire Earth, God will look down on it all with alarm and make Jesus come back earlier—a lot earlier. It is a religious doctrine that actually purports that God can be blackmailed into doing what a group of very fallible men and women want. They actually believe that they can “force the hand of God” into the action that they desire. Never mind how unloving it is. Never mind how many people get killed. Never mind how many people starve. Never mind how many people are freezing. Never mind how may people are up to the nose in flood water. Never mind that 99 out of every 100 people have cancer. Never mind anything. It’s all for a good cause. And that put the rubber stamp of Jesus on it. Here is the URL:
A couple of things. I don’t see Dunbar as ignorant but as willfully ignorant. I see ignorance as a state in which a person lacks knowledge and is unaware of something (ie. I am ignorant about Quantum Mechanics). A willfully ignorant person is aware of the facts and truth, but dismisses it because it doesn’t fit his/her worldview.
Secondly, all creationists are willfully ignorant. A creationist is someone who believes that the world is less than 10,000 years old. They are ignoring all the science and years of evolution that says otherwise.
Ms. Barbara’s (Cargill) science acumen really shows through at her WOW Science Camp critters page. This is the stuff she calls science. Please note the frog and rabbit entries. Don’t even try to say this misinformation is just age appropriate cutesyness. http://www.wowsciencecamp.com/pg_critters.cfm
Ms. Dunbar has already declared herself an enemy of public education (and I think science in general).
Ken Mercer’s biology degree from UT Austin makes me think he spent all his time on 6th Street, and had someone else show up for his classes given his remarks about “dog-cat” or “cat-rat” chimeras, excuse me, transition fossils.
As for the rest, is there such a thing as a Creationist lobotomy? Or devine dementia?
I know there are plenty of conservative, mainstream Christian, Republicans that respect science and the Constitution here in Texas. I have met many of them, and I convinced a number of them to vote for the Democratic candidate for SBOE that was running against David Bradley (the silent Creationist this time around, he must have been told to lay low because of all the bad publicity he got during the campaign). One was even a candidate for judge and another the candidate for sheriff. The real Republicans need to stand up to the Biblical Literalist Zealots (BLZ’s), take back their party, and save public education. Otherwise, these BLZ bubbas will turn the USA into a third world country.
Or maybe a 1st Century country. All stripes of fundamentalists want to transport the present to another time in the past that is viewed as ideal. Fundamentalist Christians want to be 1st Century Christians:
“Oh, if we could only go back to the time of Jesus and the Apostle Paul and be like them and walk in their shoes just as they did.”
Sorry Folks. You were called to be a Christian in THIS century. That is why you are here and NOT walking in their shoes—and besides—you forget about the lions in the arena and the human body torches on Nero’s palace. You don’t really want to go back there, and you should count it as a blessing that you are not. If your only Christian persecution today is being forced to sit on the patio while Uncle Ferd dares to drink a beer in your presence—you got it pretty easy.
Islamic fundamentalists long for the heady days of the 8th century when Sharia Law was in full force, every third person’s hand was dripping blood from a lopped off hand, women were “under my thumb” as Mick Jagger says, and no one had to lose sleep over Jack Daniels and Victoria’s Secret. It was also a time when no one had to say: “Shiite dog!!!” or “Sunni dog!!!” It must have been great. Glad I was not there.
“All of this sort of blows a big hole in Darwinists’ theory that doubting evolution is the result of ignorance.”
LF is right. The statement is incomplete. Here is the correct version:
Doubting evolution is the result of ignorance and stupidity.
This really isn’t a debate about ignorance, it’s a debate about presuppositions based on your personal philosophy of life.
I see the evidence of human history from the presupposition that there is a God. You see the evidence with the presupposition there is no God (or an uninvolved God). When you see evidence of mass extinction in the fossil record and evidence of aquatic fossils on the mountain tops around the world, and oral traditions about a world-wide flood from isolated people groups around the world, and geological evidence of a world-wide catastrophic event, you are willing to entertain almost any explanation except a world-wide flood (volcano, meteor, etc.) because in your mind a world wide flood is just not possible. When I see that same evidence, I see evidence of a world-wide flood. It seems quite obvious to me.
So, can you see how, from a creationist’s point of view, you appear to be willfully ignorant in the same fashion? The evidence is the same for both sides. We we choose to fit the evidence together differently.
I see a well designed creation that requires an intelligent creator. I see extreme complexity in living things and ecosystems that we can’t even begin to recreate with all our technology. To me that isn’t evidence for a mindless process without a plan. On the other hand you see millions of years of chaos pruned by blind natural selection and that makes sense to you because, in your mind, there is no other viable alternative.
I have way too many questions about evolution that your answers don’t satisfy for me, and I have answers that you will not accept. All because of our existential beliefs. Neither position can be proven absolutely.
So, how do we teach our children with this divide among us? I say teach the children what the evidence is and how it can be interpreted from different philosophical perspectives. Send materials home with them and let the parents guide them and let them decide wihin their family which perspective they wish to adopt. The schools are not in the business of molding the beliefs of the children about God or the lack thereof.
“When you see evidence of mass extinction in the fossil record and evidence of aquatic fossils on the mountain tops around the world, and oral traditions about a world-wide flood from isolated people groups around the world, and geological evidence of a world-wide catastrophic event, you are willing to entertain almost any explanation except a world-wide flood (volcano, meteor, etc.) because in your mind a world wide flood is just not possible. When I see that same evidence, I see evidence of a world-wide flood. It seems quite obvious to me.”
This is an entirely false dichotomy. It has NOTHING to do with “philosophical differences” in any way. It has to do with verifiable, testable, and falsifiable scientific evidence.
In fact, the scientific evidence shows NO evidence of a world-wide flood in any way whatsoever as you claim. Neither is there any evidence of any processes to explain the geologic processes your belief requires, much less the paleontological processes that would have to take place to be consistent with a world-wide flood.
You are simply making a fallacious argument from ignorance that is NOT informed by any scientific evidence whatsoever but only by your personal beliefs.
Unfortunately, your claims and beliefs reflect a lack of critical thinking skills that is common for those unwilling to think skeptically, but who choose to accept a narrative that has no scientific basis whatsoever.
Jeff007: You’re confusing science with opinion.
When forming an opinion, you examine all the information you have, perhaps collect more information if you’re so inclined, you think about arguments pro and con, measure your sense of what feels right and what feels wrong, and then make a decision about what you believe. This is an honorable and rational exercise that we all have to do all the time.
When doing science, you first form an opinion, making sure that you can imagine evidence that would refute your opinion, and then devise an experiment (or make a prediction about future findings) that will confirm or refute your opinion according to the outcome of the experiment. You make sure others are able to perform your experiment as well to keep you from accidentally deceiving yourself. You do the experiment, and then accept the outcome as evidence for or against your opinion. When enough people test the opinion in enough different ways and keep coming to the same conclusion, the opinion becomes scientifically confirmed.
Creationists are engaged exclusively in the business of making opinions. The Discovery Institute issues opinion after opinion on evolution. Meanwhile, the vast majority of evolutionary biologists are busy testing opinions.
(Don’t say evolution isn’t testable by experiment. An experiment is just a predicted outcome of some investigation. Evolutionary scientists are endlessly hypothesizing what they should and should not see in genetics, in the fossil record, in biogeographical distributions, etc. Scientists are constantly reworking hypotheses of theirs that have been demonstrated wrong. The details of our understanding of evolution have been refined significantly as a result.)
You’re entitled to your opinion. Just be aware that your opinion is not scientific and does not belong in science class.
Jeff said: “This really isn’t a debate about ignorance, it’s a debate about presuppositions based on your personal philosophy of life.”
That is not quite true Jeff. If we had only atheist evolutionists who go in with the presupposition that there is no God and only Christian nonevolutionists who go in with the supposition that there is a God, it might pan out. However, it leaves out evolutionist people like me who go in with the supposition that there IS a God. It also leaves out nonevolutionists who have the presupposition that there IS NO God.
Jeff said: “I see the evidence of human history from the presupposition that there is a God. You see the evidence with the presupposition there is no God (or an uninvolved God). When you see evidence of mass extinction in the fossil record and evidence of aquatic fossils on the mountain tops around the world, and oral traditions about a world-wide flood from isolated people groups around the world, and geological evidence of a world-wide catastrophic event, you are willing to entertain almost any explanation except a world-wide flood (volcano, meteor, etc.) because in your mind a world wide flood is just not possible. When I see that same evidence, I see evidence of a world-wide flood. It seems quite obvious to me.”
Well, I have the presupposition that there is a God. I look at those same circumstances and see something different because I have degrees in anthropology/archaeology and most of an undergraduate degree in geology—although I do not claim to be a wide-field expert in either. When I see brachiopod shells on mountain tops, I know that a process called mountain orogeny lifted the sedimentary strata up high from a once much lower level. This is how mountains form. There is no real mystery about this. Geologists know how mountains form. As an anthropologist, I know how legends form in the minds of primitive peoples. The belief systems in primitive societies are created by people who are driven to understand the world around them and their place in it. Critical to doing that is the ability to explain the things you see in the world in a way that makes sense to you. The only problem is that primitive peoples have very low levels of reliable information on which to base their conclusions. So, if you have 15 different cultures around the world and all of those cultures live in areas with sedimentary rocks that contain brachiopods (which look like clam shells), they are going to come up with some way to explain their presence. Because there is no water there now, they assume that they must have been put there by a lot of water—the flood ideas arises—the message stated at one end of the church pew gets passed down the pew (from generation to generation) and when it gets to the other end of the pew it is a completely different message from the one that started out ( a full blown myth about a great flood). As one of the other posters has mentioned above, there is no credible geological evidence for a worldwide “Noah Flood.” A flood like that would have obvious and distinctive geological earmarks that would show up all over the world—and align with each other coherently both physically and in geological time. It would be an easily spotted fingerprint—one of the simple things in science—not one of the hard or debatable ones.
Jeff said: “So, can you see how, from a creationist’s point of view, you appear to be willfully ignorant in the same fashion? The evidence is the same for both sides. We we choose to fit the evidence together differently.”
That is not true Jeff. The scientists have the hard scientific facts, and the creationists have whatever “made up” facts are necessary to maintain a literal interpretation of Genesis 1. My favorite one is, “We know for certain that Genesis 1 is literally true and cannot possibly be otherwise than the way we understand it; therefore, the speed of light must have slowed down from a much higher speed.” That is not science Jeff. That is making up “false facts” to preserve an ideological position.
Jeff said: “I see a well designed creation that requires an intelligent creator. I see extreme complexity in living things and ecosystems that we can’t even begin to recreate with all our technology. To me that isn’t evidence for a mindless process without a plan. On the other hand you see millions of years of chaos pruned by blind natural selection and that makes sense to you because, in your mind, there is no other viable alternative.”
Because of my God supposition (or faith if you wish), I see God’s hand at work in it too. But that is not really the question for Christians. The real question for us is “HOW was it created?” At MIT they are studying how to make intelligent machines—not just machines that you can make for a specific purpose–but machines that can learn, change, and adapt to new circumstances and situations—smart machines. DNA is an information carrying bit of matter. One set of information will give you a cow and another set of information will give you a rabbit. How do you know that God did not “program” the creation that we see around us the way you program a computer—but He also built into the creative system program a mechanism to allow for change and adaptation. The way I look at it, especially with evolution, is that the creation is a forever continuing process like God himself. The Bible says that he rested on the 7th day. It doesn’t say that he stopped.
Jeff said: “I have way too many questions about evolution that your answers don’t satisfy for me, and I have answers that you will not accept. All because of our existential beliefs. Neither position can be proven absolutely.”
If you mean that no one can travel back in time to witness past events first hand—no. However, past processes leave telltale evidence. As I told you once before, I may not be able to travel back in time to see people actually living on an archaeological site, but I can analyze the pottery, chipped stone, and other materials that I dig from that site to very clearly tell me a lot about what the ancient people were doing on that site. This is not magic stuff Jeff. This is easy stuff.
Jeff said: “So, how do we teach our children with this divide among us? I say teach the children what the evidence is and how it can be interpreted from different philosophical perspectives. Send materials home with them and let the parents guide them and let them decide wihin their family which perspective they wish to adopt. The schools are not in the business of molding the beliefs of the children about God or the lack thereof.”
The problem is that the scientists have the real facts, and the creationists have the “fake” facts that were devised solely to preserve one narrow interpretation of holy scripture. “The speed of light must have slowed down.” If we were to teach our children anything other than the real facts, we would be lying to our children. All truth is God’s truth—including the evolutionary facts, the geological facts, the archaeological facts, etc. This is not a matter of opinion. The evolutionists have most of their facts right. The creationist have most of their “fake” facts wrong. If the modern science is all wrong and the creation stiall has scientific underpinnings of some sort, then there must be a coherent alternative body of science that better explains it. No one on the creationist side has ever been able to come up and present with even the tiniest coherent shreds of that alternative body of science.
But all of that is not what worries me about you Jeff. Your relationship with God is what worries me. As a Christian (y’all others git for a minute—this is talk among family now) Christian fundamentalism has a ticking time bomb within it, and that time bomb is set on “automatic self-destruct.” Many of the people, like you, who grew up in this belief system and have never known anything else but its tenets are usually not aware that this time bomb is there—and they are not aware of the ticking sound it makes. I have seen this bomb explode and have observed first hand the awful aftermath that ensues when it does. The results are heart-wrenching, and intelligent/reasonable Christian fundamentalists like you are especially susceptible to tripping off an explosion.
“Scientists are constantly reworking hypotheses of theirs that have been demonstrated wrong. The details of our understanding of evolution have been refined significantly as a result” ~Joe Lapp
Really? You’re admitting that science has been wrong in the past and that it’s always changing, but today, you’re absolutely sure it’s right. Not very convincing.
“Evolutionary scientists are endlessly hypothesizing what they should and should not see in genetics” ~ Joe Lapp
The key word in this quote is “endlessly”.
“An experiment is just a predicted outcome of some investigation”~ Joe Lapp
Great! Let’s do an experiment right now. My theory is that God made all living creatures, fully formed, in a supernatural act. If that’s so, then I predict that the fossil record would show an abrupt appearance of life. Ok, now lets see if my prediction is right by looking at the fossil record. Here are some people who have already done the research:
“Each species of mammal-like reptile that has been found appears suddenly in the fossil record and is not preceded by the species that is directly ancestral to it. It disappears some time later, equally abruptly, without leaving a directly descended species although we usually find that it has been replaced by some new, related species.” (Kemp, Tom, “The Reptiles that Became Mammals,” New Scientist, Vol. 92, 1982, p.583.)
“At the core of punctuated equilibria lies an empirical observation: once evolved, species tend to remain remarkably stable, recognizable entities for millions of years. The observation is by no means new, nearly every paleontologist who reviewed Darwin’s Origin of Species pointed to his evasion of this salient feature of the fossil record. But stasis was conveniently dropped as a feature of life’s history to he reckoned with in evolutionary biology.” (Eldredge, Niles, Time Frames: The Rethinking of Darwinian Evolution and the Theory of Punctuated Equilibria, 1985, p.188.)
“It is, indeed, a very curious state of affairs, I think, that paleontologists have been insisting that their record is consistent with slow, steady, gradual evolution where I think that privately, they’ve known for over a hundred years that such is not the case. …It’s the only reason why they can correlate rocks with their fossils, for instance. …They’ve ignored the question completely.” (Eldredge, Niles, “Did Darwin Get It Wrong?” Nova (November 1, 1981), 22 p. 6.)
“The record certainly did not reveal gradual transformations of structure in the course of time. On the contrary, it showed that species generally remained constant throughout their history and were replaced quite suddenly by significantly different forms. New types or classes seemed to appear fully formed, with no sign of an evolutionary trend by which they could have emerged from an earlier type.” (Bowler, Evolution: The History of an Idea, 1984, p. 187.)
“No wonder paleontologists shied away from evolution for so long. It seems never to happen. Assiduous collecting up cliff faces yields zigzags, minor oscillations, and the very occasional slight accumulation of changeover millions of years, at a rate too slow to really account for all the prodigious change that has occurred in evolutionary history. When we do see the introduction of evolutionary novelty, it usually shows up with a bang, and often with no firm evidence that the organisms did not evolve elsewhere! Evolution cannot forever be going on someplace else. Yet that’s how the fossil record has struck many a forlorn paleontologist looking to learn something about evolution.” (Eldredge, Niles, Reinventing Darwin: The Great Evolutionary Debate, 1996, p.95.)
Well will you look at that. Just as I predicted. Now that creation is officially scientific according to you’re definition I’m sure you won’t mind if it’s taught in science class.
Quote mining is dishonest.
I can understand where the Jeffoo came from, but I don’t get the 7.
This quote mining reminds me of an old joke about the guy that was thrown into prison for the first time. He was marched to the chow hall for the first time, and noticed the oddity of other inmates standing up every once in a while and shouting out a number to which everyone in the chow hall burst out laughing. Perplexed, the new inmate turned to the guy next to him and asked what was so funny. The inmate replied that there was just one joke book in the library, everyone had read it so many times they had memorized all the jokes, and now, instead of telling the whole joke, everyone just called out the number for everyone to get a laugh. Well the new guy wanted to try to fit in right away so he stood up and called out a number, but nobody laughed. He turned to the old inmate and asked what he did wrong. To which, the old inmate replied that some people can tell a joke and some can’t.
The point is; these quote mines have been used so often that the Quote Mine Project over at TO has numbered them. From now on, Jeffoo, you can just type in the numbers and the rest of will know from where you are coming. No need to do all that typing, or as I suspect, cutting and pasting.
Ben: If I have misrepresented the authors’ intent please enlighten me. I’d be glad to retract any quote which does so.
Rocket: It’s a funny joke, however appeal to ridicule is not an argument.
Jeff, I have a suspicion that you are as dishonest as the other creationists that have trolled here, but just on the chance you’re not, all you have to do is look here for the evidence of quote mining:
And here’s an excerpt that addresses one of the exact quotes you pasted above:
[If evolution is true, species should gradually appear in the fossil record with millions of transitional forms]
“No wonder paleontologists shied away from evolution for so long. It never seems to happen. Assiduous collecting up cliff faces yields zigzags, minor oscillations, and the very occasional slight accumulation of change — over millions of years, at a rate too slow to account for all the prodigious change that has occurred in evolutionary history. When we do see the introduction of evolutionary novelty it usually shows up with a bang, and often with no firm evidence that the fossils did not evolve elsewhere! Evolution cannot forever be going on somewhere else. Yet that’s how the fossil record has struck many a forlorn paleontologist looking to learn something about evolution.” – Niles Eldredge, Reinventing Darwin: The Great Debate at the High Table of Evolutionary Theory (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1995), p. 95
Representative quote miners: Understand The Times: Evolutionary Leap Frog, Coalition of Christians for Biblical Creation: Two Models of Origins, and Genesis Park: Abrupt Appearance in the Fossil Record
This quote mine was made popular in creationist circles, I suspect, by Phillip Johnson in his Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1997, at pp. 60-61). A related bit of quote mining by Johnson has already been addressed in “Another Dishonest Creationist Quote”.
In a section of Chapter 4 of Defeating Darwinism with the subcaption “Critical Thinking in Evolutionary Biology”, Johnson introduces the quote with the following:
I am not as impressed by such examples [“the venerable bird/reptile Archaeopteryx, the “whale with feet” called Ambulocetus, the therapsids that supposedly link reptiles to mammals, and especially the hominids or apemen, like the famous Lucy”] as Darwinists think I should be, because I know that the fossil record overall is extremely disappointing to Darwinian expectations. … What is even more interesting is that the evidence for Darwinian macroevolutionary transformations is most conspicuously absent just where the fossil evidence is most plentiful — among marine invertebrates. (These animals are plentiful as fossils because they are so frequently covered in sediment upon death, whereas land animals are exposed to scavengers and to the elements.) If the theory were true, and if the correct explanation for the difficulty in finding ancestors were the incompleteness of the fossil record, then the evidence for macroevolutionary transitions would be most plentiful where the record is most complete.
Here is how Niles Eldredge, one of the world’s leading experts on invertebrate fossils, describes the actual situation . . . (p. 60)
By now it hardly needs to be said that Eldredge was discussing Punctuated Equilibria in the quote. The quote appears in a chapter entitled “Evolution in Real Time”, subheaded “Punctuated Equilibria and the Eternal Species Wrangle”, that begins:
No idea has excited more interest, sparked more debate, been more widely cited, and been more profoundly misunderstood in the post-1959 annals of evolutionary biology than the notion of “punctuated equilibria” that I published with Stephen Jay Gould in 1972.
As to the quote itself, after discussing the “gappiness” of the fossil record that has long been the traditional explanation for the appearance of stasis (but is no less real for that), Eldredge continues:
I simply thought that the time had come to take the fossil record — the patterns of stability and change — a bit more literally than had traditionally been the case. George Simpson had begun the process when he insisted that gaps do not explain away the abrupt appearances of large-scale taxa — meaning, large-scale events of evolutionary change. Simpson was perfectly content to blame the absence of examples of gradual change within and between species on gaps in the record, but found (to his everlasting credit) that the argument could not be stretched to encompass large-scale evolutionary change, such as the derivation of whales or bats from terrestrial mammalian precursors.
I simply extended Simpson’s argument to the level of the species. … The persistent pattern of nonchange within samples, coupled with the abrupt appearance of new species — organisms marked with anatomical innovations — had to be telling us something about the way the evolutionary process works. After all, stasis was telling us that the old Darwinian picture couldn’t really be entirely right.
But I needed something more than pattern. I needed to explain why evolution leaves an entirely different sort of pattern in the rock record than Darwin and his long string of successors, including many paleontologists — had supposed. And I found a very ready source of explanation staring me right in the face. I found it in Dobzhansky’s and Mayr’s work on species and the nature of the speciation process, specifically the derivation of descendant species from ancestral species through geographic isolation. Thus developed the combination of pattern and process that Steve Gould and I called “punctuated equilibria” . . . Speciation, the fragmentation of an ancestral species into two or more descendants, is a component of the evolutionary process. It takes speciation, it seems, to break the stranglehold of stasis, providing the context for lasting evolutionary change. Punctuated equilibria is simply the notion of speciation applied as the explanation for evolutionary change interrupting vastly longer periods of monotonous stasis. It should have been noncontroversial. It wasn’t. (pp. 96-97)
And yet, there is not a single mention of Punctuated Equilibria in the section of Defeating Darwinism containing the Eldredge quote. Could it be that Johnson himself is not aware of Punctuated Equilibria or what Eldredge was talking about? Hardly. Johnson himself gave a pretty good explanation of the concept at least four years earlier in Darwin on Trial (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2d ed., 1993):
[S]peciation (the formation of new species) occurs rapidly , and in small groups which are isolated on the periphery of the geological area occupied by the ancestral species. Selective pressures might be particularly intense in an area where members of the species are just barely able to survive, and favorable variations could spread relatively quickly through a small, isolated population. By this means a new species might arise in the peripheral area without leaving fossil evidence. Because fossils are mostly derived from large, central populations, a new species would appear suddenly in the fossil record following its migration into the central area of the ancestral range.
 Terms like “rapidly” in this connection refer to geological time, and readers should bear in mind that 100,000 years is a brief period to a geologist. … (p. 52)
So why did Johnson skip an explanation of what Eldredge was discussing when using the quote in Defeating Darwinism? Perhaps the explanation lies in Johnson’s own description of his aims in this book:
[T]here was one book I needed to write very soon. I had taken on the scientific evidence for Darwinian evolution in Darwin on Trial in 1991, and I had gone into the philosophical, moral and educational consequences of Darwinism in Reason in the Balance in 1995. Both books were successful and helped to open up a renewed public debate about whether Darwinism is really true. Both went into considerable detail about scientific and intellectual subjects, however, and a lot of readers who needed to know the basic message found them heavy going.
There was clearly a need for a short book aimed at a different audience, one not quite so familiar with university-level subjects. In particular, I wanted to write for late teens — high-school juniors and seniors and beginning college undergraduates, along with the parents and teachers of such young people.
These young people need to take advantage of the wonderful educational opportunities our society offers, but they also need to protect themselves against the indoctrination in naturalism that so often accompanies education. Textbooks and other educational materials today take evolutionary naturalism for granted, and thus assume the wrong answer to the most important question we face: Is there a God who created us and cares about what we do? Young people need to be prepared for the indoctrination, and for that they need to know some things that the public schools aren’t allowed to teach them. That’s the main job of this book, and everybody I’ve talked to seems to agree that it’s a job that needs to be done. (Defeating Darwinism, p. 9-10)
In other words, Johnson is giving a “stripped down” account of his case (or should we say “counter-indoctrination”?) for those too unsophisticated, in his opinion, to understand the scientific evidence. To be fair, as Terry Pratchett has famously quipped, all education is organized lying to children. The necessity for gearing education to the level of understanding of the student regularly requires that subjects be “dumbed down”.
Still, the question remains: what level is appropriate for Johnson’s target audience? Eldredge says of the concept:
Punctuated equilibria itself is a remarkably simple idea. It is a melding, in essence, of the pattern of stasis with the recognition that most evolutionary change seems bound up with the origin of new species — the process of speciation. (Reinventing Darwin, p. 94)
If high school juniors and seniors cannot understand the explanation that Johnson himself gives (and leaving aside the issue of the contempt this displays for his intended audience) why, then, does he even drag Eldredge’s quote into it? Is the quote or, more correctly, the idea behind it, any more understandable when separated from its context? There would seem to be no excuse for using the quote, except to lend an air of scientific respectability to Johnson’s assertions about the fossil record. As such, it cannot be considered “fair comment”. Good education simplifies without needless distortion.
Johnson is, of course, free to dispute the validity of Punctuated Equilibria as an explanation of the fossil record and it support of evolutionary theory. But to use this quote out of that context merely distorts what Eldredge was saying in a way that is exacerbated, not excused, by the supposed lack of understanding of the reader he is aiming to influence. The situation becomes even worse when it is propagated by other creationists who do not even have the scrap of justification provided by Johnson’s “warning label”.
– John (catshark) Pieret
“The record certainly did not reveal gradual transformations of structure in the course of time. On the contrary, it showed that species generally remained constant throughout their history and were replaced quite suddenly by significantly different forms. New types or classes seemed to appear fully formed, with no sign of an evolutionary trend by which they could have emerged from an earlier type.” (Bowler, Evolution: The History of an Idea, 1984, p. 187)
I only have the second edition, and this is on page 200f. But note what Bowler then says:
“Darwin devoted a chapter of the Origin to explaining the “imperfection of the fossil record,” arguing that the fossils we discover represent only a tiny fraction of the species that actually have lived. Many species, and many whole episodes in evolution, will have left no fossils at all, because they occurred in areas where conditions were not suitable for fossilization. Apparently sudden leaps in the development of life are thus illusions created by gaps in the evidence available to us. Future discoveries may help to fill in some of the gaps, but we can never hope to build up a complete outline of the history of life.”
– John Wilkins
Regarding Quote 3.13:
The fact that Eldridge is speaking of punctuated equilibria is irrelevant to my purpose for quoting him. This quotation of Eldridge clearly states that he observes abrupt appearances in the fossil record. I am not inferring that Mr. Eldridge is professing a belief in creationism. He is not. His theory to explain his observation is Punctuated Equilibria. My theory to explain his observation is that it fulfills my prediction about the fossil record which is consistent with Creation.
Regarding Quote 24:
Again. I am not quoting Peter Bowler to insinuate that he believes in creationism — he doesn’t. But he did observe the abrupt appearance of new species. Yes, he has a different explanation of the observation than I do. He says it’s because we only have bits and pieces of the whole history. I say it’s evidence consistent with a supernatural act of creation.
Quote mining infers that I have quoted someone out of context in order to skew the author’s original meaning. I have not. I fully admit that these are evolutionists stating their observations about the evidence and how THEY see it fitting into the theory of evolution. I am simply pointing out that their observations of the fossil record are exactly what I predicted they would be in my scientific experiment testing the theory of creationism.
I could have made the same point without the quotes, it just would have taken me a lot longer to gather the evidence myself. Why do that when I have the testimony of experts who testify to the sudden appearance of fully formed creatures in the fossil record? We agree on the evidence. We disagree on the interpretation of the evidence.
You are continuing to be dishonest. Eldredge offers what appears to be a problem for the theory of evolution, then he provides an explanation for the problem. You’re intentionally omitting the explanation. Same with the Bowler quote. Surely you can understand how that is wrong.
Please, be the one creationist I’ve encountered who won’t resort to slimy tactics.
Say hello to ScienceMinded for me.
Oh, I see what you are trying to say, Ben.
Your response indicates you think I’m quoting “what appears to be a problem for the theory of evolution.” I’m not. I did not say it was a problem for the theory of evolution. If I had, I would agree with you.
I don’t know ScienceMinded or what he believes. Associating me with him is not an argument.
Jeffoo proposes a Creationist scenario, then quotes respected scientists using only the words that support his scenario, and then only admits that the scientists’ full text mean something totally opposite after he is caught in the quote mine. Ridiculous! Ridicule for such low morals is only a beginning.
Rocket: I can see that listening and comprehending is not your strong suit. You’re focusing on irrelevant details and missing the point all together. My point doesn’t even need the quotes in order to be valid but you’re not interested in my point, you’re just interested in being argumentative, drumming up ridicule, and unfounded accusations. Goodbye Rocket Mike. Go back to the planet you flew in from.
Lying for Jesus™ is truly an odd phenomenon. Some psychologist should do a study.
I just want to correct one (yet another) of Fafarman’s ankle-deep platitudes:
“Also, Cynthia Dunbar… teaches anatomy & physiology to high school juniors and seniors”
Yes. These are her children, and she teaches them by handing them creationist home-school materials. She also claims to have experience in curriculum development. Which she conveniently forgets to mention is on a whiteboard in her kitchen, next to the laundry list and church bulletin.
In other words, she is a liar.
Great! Let’s do an experiment right now. My theory is that God made Jeffoo7, fully formed, in a supernatural act. If that’s so, then I predict that the fossil record would show some coherence. Ok, now lets see if my prediction is right by looking at the fossil record of Jeffoo7. There are some people who have already done some research; however, that configuration makes no sense. It seems as if the characters might be disarticulated and somewhat out of place. Maybe the character that looks like the numeral seven needs to be rotated to fit better with the others. Let the 7 rotate to L. Now this fits with the observations and we have – JEFFOOL!
Hey Rocket Mike, here’s something entertaining:
If you Google “creationist quote mining,” you find a bunch of quote mining by creationists.
If you Google “atheist quote mining,” you find a bunch of quote mining by…creationists.
Tom Says (April 25, 2009 at 9:00 am) —
–I just want to correct one (yet another) of Fafarman’s ankle-deep platitudes:
“Also, Cynthia Dunbar… teaches anatomy & physiology to high school juniors and seniors”–
Several of the fundies on the SBOE have strong backgrounds in science, but most of the Darwinists on the SBOE have no scientific background at all.
Hi Ben. I hope you have been doing well. You said: “Lying for Jesus™ is truly an odd phenomenon. Some psychologist should do a study.”
I agree. That is a very good idea. Even as an anthropologist, I am at a little bit of a loss to explain such weird behavior. I suppose one might formulate some hypotheses and test them.
It occurs to me that it might be good to actually start hypothesis formulation a few steps ahead of what you said. For example, although you may very well be right, I wonder whether they are really lying for Jesus. It occurs to me that they may be lying for themselves. They may be lying out of overwhelming personal fear. They may be lying to preserve a particular “subcultural” way of reading and understanding the Bible. There is also the matter of brain wiring and absolutist need. It appears that some people cannot feel psychological comfortable in their own skin unless they have a absolutist system to cling to—-someone to say that X will ALWAYS be right and reliable no matter what. Therefore, if you ALWAYS do Y, you will always be safe with X. It is my understanding that some people could simply not exist without it, and it may very well be genetic (in my humble opinion). If that is the case, then I am happy to let them be the way they need to be. However, I am not willing to allow them to seize control of the government and force everyone else to behave as if they had the same genetic makeup. That would be like forcing all the people with black and red hair to be blondes. They must never be allowed to do that.
Hi Charles. You make some interesting points. I think there are different types of creationist liars and different types of lies. Sometimes the creationists seem to honestly believe their own lies, other times they are lying, and obviously knowing it, in an effort to promote their agenda. A good example is the Dover trial. It’s all very strange.
Yes. Very strange.