Thursday, September 4, 2008

Darwin's Dangerous Idea - too much for Texas

Laurie Barker James has written an article for Fort Worth Weekly entitled "Devolution In Education".
She outlines the attempts made by various religious and political groups to have Creationism and Intelligent Design taught in the Texas Public School System. Here's an excerpt:

The process of chipping away at the theory of evolution in Texas science curriculum actually began with Texas Proclamation 95 in the mid-1990s. Signed by then-Gov. George Bush, the proclamation requires basic biology textbooks to “formulate, discuss, critique, and review hypotheses, theories, laws, and principles, and their strengths and weaknesses.”
Opponents of the theory of evolution, who are variously called creationists, Young Earth believers, or anti-Neo-Darwinists, have laid the groundwork both nationally and in Texas over the past decade to turn the relatively simple task of curriculum development into a fight over the basic theory of how humans came to be. Whatever you call them, this group of mostly fundamentalist Christians believes in biblical inerrancy. In recent years, many of them have lined up behind the concept of “intelligent design,” which attempts to use scientific terminology to promote the idea that, as it says in Genesis, the world was created in six days. If the Bible is correct, the proponents say, the Earth is very young — less than 7,000 years old.

This, of course, is nuts.
Do a little research on the speed of light. Then figure out how far we are from some of the most remote stars. Figure out how long it has taken the light from those stars to reach our telescopes. You'll get a number that's greater than 7,000.
I remember watching some guys put in a new irrigation well on our farm in Mississippi. The routine they used was to drill down, then bring the auger back up, then drill a little deeper, and bring the auger back up. On the return trip from one of the deepest plunges, the auger came back with a chunk of a tree in it. Even within the flood plain of the Mississippi River, trees couldn't be buried under that much silt in just 7,000 years.
Look at the current height of The Rocky Mountains. Look at how much they are growing each year. (Not much, but they grow). Divide the height by the growth rate. Big number.
The Bible, in this case, isn't a document that should be seen as "right" or "wrong". The word "Truth" instead of the word "Fact" is more appropriate. Here's some more Laurie James:

The argument at the root of the issue is biblical inerrancy, a doctrine as old as the Christian church itself. Nicholas Copernicus and Galileo Galilei, early scientists and Christians, challenged the Catholic Church’s doctrine on the Earth as the center of the universe.
We can now demonstrate that the Earth moves around the sun, not vice versa. Back before the Protestant Reformation, however, even scientific evidence drew a penalty when it came into conflict with accepted interpretation of what the Judeo-Christian Bible (which had been translated from Hebrew to Aramaic to Greek and then Latin at that point) said. Perhaps it’s fittingly ironic that Charles Darwin, who proposed the theory of evolution in the mid-1800s, was first a ministry student before a voyage aboard the Beagle changed the course of his future. Now people of diverse faiths — clergy as well as laypeople — accept the theory of evolution and want to see it taught in schools.

Well, yeah, they do. But they're not very vocal about it.
Part of our problem is the lack of a hierarchy in many of our Protestant denominations. (You may have noticed that the Catholics are strangely silent on the evolution issue. They learned some things from the Galileo incident. If a priest were to start railing against Darwin, I think everyone higher up the food chain would tell him to shut up.) Anyone in the U.S.A. who cares to do so can start a church, and this isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's a very libertarian thing. But they can also claim to speak for God, and in defense of God. There's no one around to provide any historical context.
Why does God need defending? Who is attacking God?
The Godless Evolutionists, and they make a perfect enemy for fund-raising appeals.
God used to get credit for putting us at the center of creation, aiming the lightning, causing the earthquakes, and making us out of mud. Science has been explaining more and more of these phenomena.
But the Creationists don't understand the difference between Religion and Science, between Truth and Fact.
Elsewhere in the article, an acquaintance of mine tries to explain things:

Ralph Mecklenburger, the rabbi at Fort Worth’s Beth-El Congregation, has been paying attention to the debate about Texas’ science curriculum. As an expert in the Torah, or Old Testament, upon which the proponents of intelligent design base their theories, the rabbi is concerned with misinterpretation.
“Has evolution been demonstrated experimentally? Yes, many times,” he wrote in an e-mail. “Intelligent design, on the other hand, may be true, but until someone comes up with a way to test it, it will not be science.”
Many scientists echo Mecklenburger’s statement that, despite challenges, the theory of evolution has held up for more than a century. Those scientists and many teachers believe that intelligent design proponents ignore the proofs and use outdated information to hammer away at accepted science. Historically, Jews found the Bible to be “full of memorable ways to teach values, but we know it is not science,” Mecklenburger said. “We deny that science and religion conflict, but that is because we recognize that the Bible is about religion, not about science.”
Well said. (Rabbi Mecklenburger once came to Broadway Baptist Church and put together a combination Seder/Communion service. It was the first time in my life that I understood the context for what Jesus was trying to say. But I digress....)

Now that a Creationist has been nominated for the Vice Presidency, I'm betting that Evolution vs. Creationism will be an increasingly hot topic as we approach election day. In the meantime, enjoy this logo from an upcoming event at Texas CHRISTIAN University, 2008's TCU Family Weekend.....

I think it's now safe to say that Darwin's Dangerous Idea has gone mainstream everywhere but in the Texas Public School system.


Anonymous said...

Intelligent Design, more like Creationism 2.0.

I do like your quote from Ralph Mecklenburger, sums up a very sensible position. Spend some time, read some works from Kennith Miller, Joan Roughgardern, and Francis Collins and you'll realize evolution isn't out to kill religion. Have some intellectual curiosity.

PZ Myers on the other hand...

Excellent reference to Daniel Dennett's book Darwin's Dangerous Idea. ;)

Sew daze said...

I used to part of a group called BSF or Bible Study Fellowship. Even thought they are a hard core group of bible believing Christians, they did explain that the bible and the theory of evolution could work hand in hand. One problem I have with some interpretations of the bible is this, the want to make the bible a literal document. Example: One day equals one 24 hour time span.

I have a small child that attends a private Christian school. He also believes that dinosaurs existed as well. Dinosaurs are not referenced in the bible, but their bones are found all over the world.

Sorry for the ramble. Bottom line for me, the bible does not encompass ALL the events that happened on the earth literally.

Anonymous said...

Great Post.

ID quite simply isn't science. It's just an attempt to say, "We can't figure how it happened so God must have done it". At the moment I have no idea how my wife lost her car keys and so by the same reasoning God clearly, demonstrably has stolen them. I can't even conceive of a supreme being who amuses himself by stealing people's car keys. What's his diary look like:"Create Universe, steal keys from woman in Cheshire".

But it's worse than that even. It's teleological. OK, biologists posit that some snakes have vestigal legs because they evolved from legged creatures. ID says, "Nah, you can't say exactly how* so that means God just made 'em that way for reasons of his own. It's just not an explanation. It's the same as an exasperated mother saying, "Just because!" to an annoying kid.

Two further points: I have checked out a few ID sites and an awful lot of the folks behind them proudly display their resumes. And very impressive there are a hell of a lot of engineers there. Engineers design things.

Second: You might enjoy this:

*An idiotic argument. If all the details of the history of life on Earth were sorted then why do we have biology departments in our universities?

Paul Mitchell said...

Any discussion of Darwinism sends me into fits of murderous rage. I don't have the explanations, but I know that natural selection is not the answer from historical findings.

On the Origin of the Species was published in 1859, and since that time not one piece of evidence to show that a slug evolved into so much as a cricket. If it was my job to prove natural selection, I would have given up over 100 years ago.

Next theory, we have proved this one wrong.

The Whited Sepulchre said...

I know that evolution isn't "out to kill religion", because religions are evolving to accomodate evolution. That's a major reversal from when religions were out to kill evolution.

Fembuttx (AKA She Who Abandons Ship),

Check this out:

Good video. I left a gift on your most recent post, BTW.

Two Dogs From Jackson,
150 years isn't long enough for slugs to evolve into slightly larger slugs. We're talking billions of years here.
However, next time a virus comes around, ask your Doctor if he was treating people for the same virus two years ago.

They evolve.

Paul Mitchell said...

Sorry, I used the word evidence, not observation. There has been not one fossil, cave drawing, footprint or any type of evidence that has shown that Darwin's original idea of natural selection occured. 159 years of scouring the globe has not found anything. Nothing in 159 years, think about that. Plus, natural selection doesn't say that a virus "evolves" into a better virus, it seriously states that a virus evolves into a man. Big difference.

By your same example, the fact that I have to get my hair cut every two weeks is proof of evolution. Darwin's theory of evolution was based on natural selection and it has been proven wrong for 159 years. Most would move on, it is the same idea of a chariot dragging the sun across the sky.

Every single modern drug and treatment for medical conditions, including aspirin, have been discovered, tested, and marketed since Darwin first posited the theory. Drop it, he was wrong.

Even Darwin admitted his idea was flimsy. Mathematically, the chances of his theory actually being true are over a trillion to 1. Next idea please, L. Ron Hubbard's ideas of a spaceship buried deep in the earth are more scientifically sound.

The Whited Sepulchre said...

Er Gou (Pinyin Mandarin for Two Dogs....Hope you're impressed.)

Are you confusing Natural Selection and Evolution? You might want to do a bit o' Googling on the two. Both are now considered iron-clad concepts by most scientists, but Natural Selection has moved up into the category of H2O being "water".

Once again, 159 years isn't very long, in Darwinian terms. Neither is 240 years. But I have a violin in my hall closet that was made in 1767. Almost anyone playing it today has to put a cloth or a lift underneath the chin rest attachment to play it comfortably. Why? Because, on average, we're 1 foot taller than the people the violin was designed for in 1767.

The fact that viruses evolve opens the door for everything else.

I don't follow you on the haircuts or medical treatments.

And no matter what all happens today, do you know what the odds are against it? At least One Trillion to 1.

Paul Mitchell said...

No there is no confusion, Darwin's theory was based on natural selection. That a cricket becomes a bat through evolution. Not that a cricket begins to eat grass instead of other crickets. That is adaptation to environment. Skin gets darker when you stay out in the sun, blah, blah, blah.

I also know that the blind faith in the religion of evolution is not going to be defeated. Just as global climate change hysteria is not going to be slowed. I am a realist. I admit that Darwinism is here to stay, just as "scientists" believed the earth was flat for a long damn time. And fire, earth, water, and air make gold.

By the way, viruses do not evolve, they adapt. Monumental difference. That was where the haircut comment originated. It is still my hair, but it grows over time, not evolution. Get it? Viruses do not become butterflies, which is what evolutionary theory tells you, but again nary a drop of evidence found in 159 years and still people dig and scour.

A simple cursory glance with any scientific knowledge and objectivity shall prove that the odds of finding the "evolving" fossils are even with finding the genus specific fossils, unless the evolution occured in exponential leaps (short time frames), which again is not the concept of natural selection.

It is bad science, much like hysterical global climate change, and a waste of time. Darwinists should drop it and move on. they posited a theory, struggled to prove that theory for minimally 159 years, and failed to advance the theory with evidence. How much longer will this theory remain in the failure column? Concrete walls are hard, but it feels so good when you stop beating your head against it.

Final thought, Darwin failed to explain the eye past the point of "light-sensitive" cells suddenly appearing. Start at that point and five years from now, evolution will be a dead, archaic, misinformed, and unitelligent idea for you.

By the way, I am Catholic and we are taught that the Bible should be taken literally, I do not agree with that premise, so I keep that to myself around other Catholics. If that means anything.

Anonymous said...

Nick M, thanks for the video link.
Seen it before but it deserves circulation.

WS, Two Dogs is a global warming denier.
Just like he's a biology denier.

He just doesn't like science in general.
I handed his ass to him on a different thread.
Check it out.

There is a serious overlap in the people who deny global warming and who deny modern biology.
All that it takes is a rejection of the scientific method.

Two Dogs is living proof.


Here's a couple of my favourite creationism videos.

Two Dogs, how old do you think the Earth is?
You forgot to answer this question the last couple of times I asked you.


Paul Mitchell said...

I am pretty sure that most people that read that thread will have a very different opinion from yours, Cedrick. But, I had forgotten entirely about receiving my ass from you. Your intelligence is certainly superior to mine. I have thoroughly been schooled.

As far as being a global warming "denier" is concerned, thermometers must be "deniers" as well. Only one thing missing in that whole global warming theory bag of evidence and that would be the warming.

Cedrick, continue to think that you are smart by ignoring facts, that is working really well for you. Maybe when you grow up you can become a college professor.

Sorry, Whited, I try to avoid trolls or stalkers like Cedrick. Thanks for the link to my minimum wage post.

Anonymous said...

"Your intelligence is certainly superior to mine. I have thoroughly been schooled."

No argument here.

Here's logic-Two Dogs style...

Whats the problem with Global Warming?

"Only one thing missing in that whole global warming theory bag of evidence and that would be the warming."


So...what's the problem with modern biology?

"There has been not one fossil, cave drawing, footprint or any type of evidence that has shown that Darwin's original idea of natural selection occured."

Double wow.
Two Dogs has it all figured out.
Them there pesky scientists can't fool him, nosirree.

"Sorry, Whited, I try to avoid trolls or stalkers like Cedrick."

Actually, I'm not here because of you. WS and I have already met and chatted before.
If ever he decides to call me a troll...then I'd go.
It's his blog. I try and keep it civil.

You showing up here ,however, is a true gift. Thank you for making my point.

I explained to WS before on another thread here that the global warming deniers and the boiolgy deniers are joined at the hip, scientifically speaking.

The same 'logic' that let's you dismiss modern biology and flush science down the toilet serves you well in dismissing the science of global warming.
Same M.O.

Exhibit A: Two Dogs.

So Two Dogs, how old is the age of the Earth again?
(Just curious)

Paul Mitchell said...

Thanks Cedrick, you might want to check out how I found this place. Check the WS's post on minimum wage.

Maybe WS found that before my stupidity revealed itself to him.

I have yet to debate any modern "science" with you Cedrick, when does that begin? And again, I point out to you that comments back and forth on someone else's blog is the height of rude, and by definition "trolling." I have my e-mail posted on my blog, if you would like to begin your attempts at debating me rather than insulting me. I believe that I could hold my own in a debate on any subject with you, while defusing a bomb or juggling running chainsaws. So far, you have not posed a single issue in any of your comments to me. Well, except for the asinine "How old is the Earth?" Which by the way, Einstein, cannot be deduced with any accuracy beyond a range of 100 billion years, that's close!, but I guess that you know better than that, huh? So, how old does Cedrick determine that the planet is?

Cedrick, the point of my statements are that in order to study anything, you have to follow the facts, and that little point eludes you. You just want to believe something with no proof or upon a hunch and that is fine for some people, but that doesn't solve a single problem in the real world. But, blind faith in what you believe is the nature of flat-earthers. That description fits you well. Try to debate with facts, you might at some point actually win one, just not with me, the divide in our intelligence is too great, I will be dead from old age when you are able. You need to take some time to study and that was how I ended our "debate" at RV's blog. Remember, the one where you handed my ass to me?

Good luck in college, hope that Education/Journalism Degree works out for you!

Again, WS, I apologize for my rudeness.

Anonymous said...

Ah Two Dogs, you never fail to disappoint.

"I have yet to debate any modern "science" with you Cedrick, when does that begin?"

Dunno. When do you want to start?
So far, all you seem to have is "a slug evolved into so much as a cricket" type comments. Not much in the way of science there.

"I have my e-mail posted on my blog, if you would like to begin your attempts at debating me rather than insulting me."

You want to open a debate on your blog and you are inviting me?
What topic?

We could do the age of the Earth first perhaps?

Of course, if you have evidence for Intelligent Design Creationism then the best venue would be to open a new thread at the on their forum section.
No censorship, everything all in the open and you can bring along whatever creationist arguments you want.
Could be fun.
The the best one we ever had was a guy called AF Dave.
(Now HE was very special.)
Trying to reach him was a Herculean effort but people did their level best.

According to you, the age of the Earth "...cannot be deduced with any accuracy beyond a range of 100 billion years, that's close!, but I guess that you know better than that, huh?"

Well, yes. As a matter of fact, I do know better than that.
So do all of them there sciency types. Perhaps you may have heard of one group in particular. They're called the US Geological Survey.
They seem to have a very clear understanding of how old the Earth is.

Actually the history of how science went about figuring the age of the Earth is facinating.
Worth a read.

So tell me Two Dogs...
How old do you think the Earth is?

How about a real answer from you instead of you chickening out all the time?

Paul Mitchell said...

Cedrick, still you persist in showing your rudeness. If you will notice every other commenter's name is BLUE, yours is BLACK. If you click the BLUE name, you can reach me directly, instead of flaunting your ignorance directed towards me on someone else's blog. Learn some manners or least try to fake having some type of civilized behavior. Learn.

Anonymous said...

"If you click the BLUE name, you can reach me directly, instead of flaunting your ignorance directed towards me on someone else's blog."

So you're inviting me?

You won't be accusing me of being a "stalker" or a "troll"?

Hmm. Ok.