Saturday, March 08, 2008

Special Rights for Religious Radicals in OK

You all know the old joke for dealing with Creationists:

What should a teacher say to a student who, every time he comes to a question on a test he cannot answer, writes “God did it.”? Then, when he hands in the test, he expects — even demands — a perfect score and a pat on the head.
Idiot Creationists see unanswered questions, proclaim 'GOD DID IT!' and expect a pat on the head. They are shocked and offended when people laugh at them.

But members of the reality based community know that 'God did it' is a joke answer in the real world.

Well... the real world minus Oklahoma:
The Oklahoma House of Representatives Education Committee has just approved House Bill 2211. The bill is expected to pass the full House, and then to go to the Senate. Its authors describe it as promoting freedom of religion in the public schools. In fact, it does the opposite.
...
The bill requires public schools to guarantee students the right to express their religious viewpoints in a public forum, in class, in homework and in other ways without being penalized. If a student’s religious beliefs were in conflict with scientific theory, and the student chose to express those beliefs rather than explain the theory in response to an exam question, the student’s incorrect response would be deemed satisfactory, according to this bill.

The school would be required to reward the student with a good grade, or be considered in violation of the law. Even simple, factual information such as the age of the earth (4.65 billion years) would be subject to the student’s belief, and if the student answered 6,000 years based on his or her religious belief, the school would have to credit it as correct. Science education becomes absurd under such a situation.
Wow. This bill is genius. One bill, school becomes meaningless. Science, history, math, ethics, psychology, health, art, all obliterated.

*clap*

*clap*

*clap*

Touché, radical Christians, touché.

(H/T to Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education)

62 comments:

V. H. said...

ERV. Right on! However, the saner elements are fighting this bill. So far, press releases against the bill (identical to the one that passed in Texas last year and is now law)have been issued and sent to all media outlets in the Oklahoma, legislators, etc.

Organizations with anti-HB 2211 releases are Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education, Oklahoma Academy of Science, Oklahoma Mainstream Baptists, Tulsa Interfaith Alliance and Oklahoma Science teachers Association.

In addition, we have requested voters to send messages to legislators to oppose the bill, lobbied at the Capitol, etc. There has been a good response and more is expected. But, the bill will come to a floor vote in the House this next week and responses need to be timely.

S_A_Wells said...

Surely a good thing would be to round up a whole bunch of students from as many different backgrounds as possible and line them up with their differing claims? I'm sure that once "God did it" turns out to be only one answer among "Great Mother did it" "Coyote did it" "Vishnu did it" etc. there will be some red faces in the legislature...

Red said...

Xenu did it.

Wait, no. Pray tell, Abbie, who I need to send angry letters to in order to get this shit shot down before the idiots in my classes start getting better grades than I with none of the effort?

wackyvorlon said...

This is a perfect time for a new religion, built on the belief that the universe was created 73 years ago by a rhododendron named Frank.

-- In Frank We Trust

Darek said...

I second wacyvorlon's idea. Perhaps by the time I'm in grad school I'll be able to earn a PhD by making shit up.

Torbjörn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
wackyvorlon said...

A Creative Physics degree, perhaps?

Torbjörn said...

That would be a Philosophy for Dummies degree then. Um, no wait, that is still about facts.

What about Philosophy on Designer theory degree? All empty and meaningless...

Daniel said...

I want to be a high school student in Oklahoma! I'd have great fun. "Odin inspired him" in English. "Sacrifice a black chicken under a full moon to Baron Samedi" in Math. "They weren't real Baal-fearing Assyrians; that's why" in History. "The Flying Spagetti Monster did it" in Science. The list is endless.

Why, nobody would ever have to answer another question again. . . .

Janine said...

Reminds me of an old Subgenius line:"You'll pay to pull the wool over your own eyes."

Rev. BigDumbChimp said...

BLASPHEMY. Your pitiful false god Frank smells the rear-end expulsions of the true and only Cosmic Muffin.

Anonymous said...

Good point. Hope the public
response is big enough to make
these pols shrink back to the
stone they crawled out from under.

Art said...

These bills, being promoted in many states, offer the fundies a swift victory by destroying education altogether.

When any "religious" answer has to be accepted as correct, no student need learn anything.

Imagine an English class, studying "Julius Caesar," by Shakespeare. The class has been assigned to read the play over the weekend.

On Monday the teacher asks a fundamentalist student, "Johnny, why did the Conspirators want to kill Caesar?"

"God told them to."

"Ah, I see. Er, correct, Johnny. Melissa, what was Mark Antony's motivation in speaking to the people right after Caesar's assassination?"

Now, Melissa has not read the assignment. She's not a fundy, and she's also not much a student, either, but she is a quick thinker.

"God told him to speak to the people," Melissa says.

The teacher sighs. "Correct, Melissa. Now, class, I'm feeling a bit ill, and will be going home now. I don't think I will ever be teaching again."

Gerald said...

Here is what the bill actually says in Article IV.

Students may express their beliefs about religion in homework, artwork, and other written and oral assignments free from discrimination based on the religious content of the submission by the student. Homework and classroom work shall be judged by ordinary academic standards of substance and relevance and against other legitimate pedagogical concerns identified by the school. Students shall not be penalized or rewarded on account of religious content. If the assignment given by a teacher involves writing a poem, the work of a student who submits a poem in the form of a prayer (for example, a psalm) should be judged on the basis of academic standards, including literary quality, and not penalized or rewarded on account of its religious content.

It says that students should be judged by ordinary academic standards, but it also says students can't be penalized for religious content. Basically this bill is just pandering to the religious.

You can find the bill here, just do a search for HB2211.

http://webserver1.lsb.state.ok.us/WebBillStatus/main.html

wackyvorlon said...

Honestly, the text of the bill seems reasonable to me. It's speaking of an artistic context. If for art, for example, the child draws a picture of Frank (Peace Be Unto Him), then that's there business. The child shouldn't be discriminated against for expressing said beliefs.

I think to interpret to say that it gives carte blanche for whatever wonky belief you wish to pursue is a rather extreme interpretation.

-- Christopher Columbus was, after all, a super intelligent hypersquirrel from the planet Klepton. How else could he have known where to find america?

Rev. BigDumbChimp said...

Aside from the obvious issues regarding school work and God Did It type answers, the bill creates an atmosphere where the Student body president (or anyone given the floor) has a captive audience and could use that to spout off on whichever religious nonsense is his choice. All students in the audience are then subjected to this with no recourse. It is pure pandering to the religious right disguised as a religious freedoms bill.

V.H. said...

Wacky: You clearly do not see the intent of this bill or that it has unconstitutional elements. Indeed, groups in Texas (where the identical bill is now law) are preparing for Federal court. The bill is carefully written so that a quick read by those not familiar with the religious right's agenda will likely assume that it is O.K. . Liberty Legal Institute of Plano, Texas, a group of fundamentalist Christian lawyers, drafted the bill and promoted it to legislatures, including Oklahoma’s. It was not written by Oklahoma legislators. It was plagiarized.

Rick Barnes said...

There really is no difficulty in this issue. The religious answer to the age of the Earth may or may not be 6000 years, however, the scientific answer is quite different and for clearly rational reasons. If a child is sitting in a religion classroom, their "6000 years old" may or may not be appropriate, however, in a science classroom it is not and never will be. An answer of "6000 years" is incorrect in a science classroom for scientific reasons, not religious ones. Compelling science classes to accept wrong answers for religious reasons is theocracy which is inconsistent with the goals of creating a well-educated, well-informed, clear thinking citizenry.

Jim Lippard said...

There's a similar bill in the Arizona legislature, HB 2713.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how long it will take before someone of a non-Christian religion decides to exercise their rights under this new law and whether or not they will be challenged. This is clearly intended to protect Christianity based Creationism, but they just opened the door for other religions to use their beliefs as well. What about when someone uses the HaleBopp comet to explain the afterlife, will that be upheld too? I say keep public education faith-neutral, and leave the educational decisions to the parents. If they don't want their child learning "secular" science, they can always send them to a religious school

Anonymous said...

Any teacher worth his or her salt can sidestep the law. Simply begin every test question with, "According to mainstream science, what is...."

Anonymous said...

I think the writer of the article, you, and the commenters are don't actually understand the text of the bill:

"SECTION 4. NEW LAW A new section of law to be codified in the Oklahoma Statutes as Section 27-104 of Title 70, unless there is created a duplication in numbering, reads as follows:
Students may express their beliefs about religion in homework, artwork, and other written and oral assignments free from discrimination based on the religious content of their submissions. Homework and classroom assignments shall be judged by ordinary academic standards of substance and relevance and against other legitimate pedagogical concerns identified by the school district. Students shall not be penalized or rewarded on account of the religious content of their work."

This actually leads to an interesting conundrum. What happens when a student's expression of belief as a factual answer to a question is said to be wrong based on "ordinary academic standards of substance and relevance"

The law gives no clear indication. Although I'm pretty sure 3 + 2 = "I don't know, it's not in the Bible" would not be marked as right.

Geeks Widget said...

I can't believe how we are actually wasting our time with such bills. What about the implication it's going to have on the education system that's failing already.

Sad, really sad.

JOHN CHARLES said...

Here's an idea: phrase the question something like, "How would an evolutionist explain...." Then there's no conflict of interest and nobody can claim that there is one.

Anonymous said...

My personal belief is that I am God... Therefore can I just say whatever I want and its right just because I say it is?

Would really like to see them tell me I cannot truly believe I am God.

Anonymous said...

"Science education becomes absurd under such a situation."

I think that is the point. With Religion we not longer need science. Science is a sin.

Of course I am kidding.

Rational thought and repeatable testable evidence along with good sound judgment should be the basis of everyone actions.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure this bill won't work this way, but -- Oklahoma is home to the second-largest Native American population in the US and 39 tribes -- wouldn't it be nice if Oklahoman teachers started respecting Native students' traditional religious beliefs in writing, class discussion, and art in public schools??

James said...

This makes me so sad...but just know that not everyone here is crazy enough to support something like that, just most of oklahomans.

I'm proud to be an oklahoma atheist who won't stand for this sort of thing.

wru said...

This post is overly provocative. A test question can easily be phrased to test knowledge of theories students don't agree with. For instance, "Which of the following is true about the theory of evolution?..." Why should it be the place of public education to teach students that either theory is the correct one when it's such a hot issue? What is it that the poster wants?--Each student to sign a sworn statement that evolution is a valid theory and creationism is a load of crap? What would that even accomplish? Simply teaching and testing students on the theories ought to be enough.

wru said...

Rational thought and repeatable testable evidence along with good sound judgment should be the basis of everyone actions.

This poster might want to ask himself, on what basis this test for scientific proof is valid.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i3mc_yBW7ao

Anonymous said...

I hearby declare the foundation of the Church of THHGTTG. The answer to everything is "42". Examination complete, 100% grade please.

Anonymous said...

It's actually a lot simpler than that. I would not resist the religious movement at all.

When people answered according to their belief system and demanded a perfect score they should get one every time. As a teacher I would rigorously follow the law and allow any answer so given. The students who give, or try to give, correct answers would test statistically worse than students answering according to their belief system, but that doesn't actually matter.

The religious students should be allowed to pass school with flying colors. At some point though I suspect the actual lack of knowledge would start to bite them rather hard. As a teacher I would seek legal protection against pupils and/or parents who come after me because their child on leaving school is as dumb as a door post. I would also tell each class at the start of the year what the law is and why I do what I do and give them the opportunity to either give a sensible answer or try to guess what god would do.

In the end it is a self-defeating system. My lower-scoring students would actually know something and be able to apply that in the real world and get a meaningful job whereas the religious students would have passed with great grades but without any useful knowledge.
What do you think happens to muslim students who spent 6 years studying the Qu'ran and nothing but the Qu'ran, to the detriment of everything else? What use is that in the real world where the idea is to get a job and put food on the table?

I'd tell my students that what the law allows is manifestly stupid and why that is, and then give them the choice as to how they approach their studies. If they decide to throw away their education that's no skin off my nose [actually, in the grand scheme of things it would be, but not in a direct sense].

The economy is going to implode soon and this is what legislators are doing. Is anyone at all surprised at how awful the state of the world is with this kind of leadership?

Anonymous said...

All a teacher has to do is phrase the question properly to force a proper answer. Example: Just preface each question with, "According to Evolutionary theory only..." If the student even mentions anything outside of the specific information being asked, the answer can legitimately be marked incorrect. Period.

covidiu said...

Well, the answer is always 42 according to my religious belifs. I should be able to pass any exam.

Anonymous said...

@wru: I'm afraid you may have fallen for the "teach the controversy" deceit that Creationists advocate as part of their "wedge" strategy. We shouldn't teach "the theories" because there is only one theory that is consistent with the physical evidence from many different fields and that is accepted by 99.8% of scientists (and 100% of the ones without a religious agenda). Outside of Creationists trying to slide their religion into public schools, the topic is not "hot", there is no "controversy" to teach. As a Christian myself, I am deeply ashamed by the lies Creationists and IDers tell while claiming to speak in Jesus' name. "Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord,' and not do what I tell you?" -- Luke 6:46

Anonymous said...

@john charles: I'd be with you if the phrasing was "How do scientists who have objectively evaluated the evidence and discarded demonstrably wrong theories explain..."

Mike O'Risal said...

Why not just phrase all the questions beginning with, "How would a sane person, as opposed to backwards religious literalists who want to destroy academic and intellectual progress in favor of a narrow, moribund theocracy of ideas and spend all their free time burning witches and stoning homosexuals and generally overthrowing the basis of civilization, respond to the following questions?"

Just preface every exam and every assignment with that brief paragraph and everything will be fine. For bonus points, students could be encouraged to nail copies of all exams to the doors of fundamentalist churches.

Anonymous said...

This really comes down to tolerance. Christians want the same acceptance of their beliefs that everyone else has regardless of belief, orientation or race. I think the point they're trying to make is, "We just want our beliefs respected regardless of whether you agree or the evidence is against us."

I see some of the comments on here are saying that things like this will kill education. Our public education system is broke anyway! We have scientists and researches that can't even agree on what the function of the gall bladder is! Let's face it, we live in a world where facts and figures are constantly changing. - Dj

Anonymous said...

one bill to rule them all...and in the stupidity blind them

dave said...

Reading the extracts from the bill posted as comments, and exercising my religious right to not bother with deeper research, the interesting scenario is a student making an oral presentation, whether poetry or prose, of arguments for atheism. No marks off for the subject matter, no repercussions regardless of the teacher's religious views.....

The Pampered Pauper said...

Well, at the very least, it will make it much easier for people who actually learn something in school to get ahead in the world.

Imagine trying to do your job in the real world by throwing God at the problem! If only it were so easy.

Faith is a fine thing - but insisting that faith is a replacement for an education and knowledge is a ticket to fairly.

Anonymous said...

The problem isn't letting a religious person answer per their beliefs, the problem is that these schools (and most of you) teach and believe Evolution and Big Bang (etc.) to be fact. Well, they aren't fact. They are theory. I would agree that this bill is retarded only if the school teaches these topics as theory. If a person doesn't believe in evolution, then don't force them to answer in accordance with your belief. It's no different than you saying a Christian shouldn't enforce their ways and beliefs on a nonbeliever. You are forcing a student (whatever religion) to lie and say evolution is true when they believe it's not. Should they compromise their faith just to get a question correct on a test?

Anonymous said...

No they don't, and no they aren't and fuck you...all knowing wisest one...shit.

A.J. said...

Science is for FACTS. If you want TRUTH, the philosophy class is right down the hall...

Spicey Meatballs said...

"Special Rights...is that like "Special Ed?"

You're all wrong. It was the Flying Spaghetti Monster that in his noodley goodness created the universe and he did it on Wednesday because Wednesday is Prince Spaghetti Day. :o)

Anonymous said...

You know, if you boneheads didn't keep insisting on allowing government to run the school system, things like this wouldn't happen AT ALL. So you liberals have yourselves to thank.

Anonymous said...

how can science say something like evolution is fact when it can't even prove it as fact? That's completely ridiculous and arrogant for someone to say it's fact. Science and it's THEORIES change all the time. New things are uncovered that push one theory in a different direction - how is Science based on fact then?

And whoever said "No they don't, and no they aren't and fuck you...all knowing wisest one...shit." How mature. People who get that angry over something like this seem like they're a bit insecure about their position.

I dare any of you, right now, to prove to me or tell me where to find proof that such a thing as evolution really happened. Now I'm not saying it didn't....because I wasn't there (until now) and all I have to go on is what I see. Shit was a lot different billions of years ago.

Evolution requires FAITH - yeah - that's right----FAITH!!!!!!!

Damian said...

how can science say something like evolution is fact when it can't even prove it as fact?

Look here and here. There are lots and lots more examples, if you weren't so intellectually lazy.

New things are uncovered that push one theory in a different direction - how is Science based on fact then?

This is true, of course, but you are confusing two completely different things. For instance, it is a fact that biological life has changed a great deal over 3.5 billion years, and that a certain fossil is found in a particular strata. The set of mechanisms that describe all of those individual facts is brought under the umbrella of the MET (modern evolutionary theory).

People who get that angry over something like this seem like they're a bit insecure about their position.

Indeed, while I wouldn't recommend anger in any circumstance, some people do tend to react badly to those who attempt to fill the heads of young children with misinformation and downright falsehoods. I tend to understand anger in that circumstance, to be honest.

I dare any of you, right now, to prove to me or tell me where to find proof that such a thing as evolution really happened.

I may be a little late as you demanded it, "right now, dogammit", but I have given you one example. There is so much information out there that it really is the height of intellectual laziness for you to ask suck questions. Be that as it may, start here. The evidence is all over the internet, and there are resources in the side bar of this very blog. I have my doubts that you will bother to look at them, to be honest.

Evolution requires FAITH - yeah - that's right----FAITH!!!!!!!

You keep telling yourself (and us, please!) that, and we will keep laughing.

Anonymous said...

Damien, you're a funny guy. Do you believe everything you read on the internet? Of course you don't. You're obviously an intelligent human being - well, seemingly. There are a lot of smart people who put shit on the net. And a lot of it makes sense, especially to "intellectually lazy" people, such as myself.

That's not the point. The point is that you're human, I'm human, our scientists are human. And our understanding goes only so far. It can only go as far as we see. We cannot understand beyond what we see. We can merely speculate. There are too many holes in the THEORY / HYPOTHESIS of evolution. In no way, no amount of internet blah-blah, can you or anyone else prove it as fact. It is "ACCEPTED" as fact because more scientists accept than don't. That means there are some who don't - duh. You're telling me that my existence lies on the majority vote? F that! It's like saying your government is doing a fab'lous job simply because the majority rules and therefore must be right.

Don't tell me I'm intellectually lazy. You assume as such simply because I'm one who doesn't follow the norm and believe that evolution is true. I'd rather accept that there is so much I cannot know about creation. I'd rather use that to go on my own journey to find the truth rather than listen to a bunch of stuff-shirts throw their weight around because they have a microscope.

Go ahead. Be a follower. I'm okay with that, as long as you're okay with that.

g'day

Iron Soul said...

Wow, I must be sheltered from this insanity here in the northwest. To think I was worked up about Washington's higher education bill that sounded similar. Ours died in committee.

Lo said...

I can't get over the fact that the majority religion in this country claims to be persecuted so much.

"Christians want the same acceptance of their beliefs that everyone else has" (posted by anonymous)

You want the government to pass LAWS that legally REQUIRE me to accept your beliefs? For reals? Have you read the first amendment lately?

I am an atheist. Not an agnostic, not a lapsed Catholic, but an ex-Catholic flat-out atheist. That puts me in the least accepted group that I know of in the US. Polls have shown that Americans would rather vote for a Jew, Mormon, homosexual, or convicted felon for President than an atheist.

I am a perfectly nice, friendly, tolerant atheist with a much more strict set of morals than the average person. While I disagree with the tenets of all religions, I respect the beliefs of all those who believe in god and recognize that those beliefs can be a positive thing, although that's not true in all cases.

I don't need the government to legislate acceptance of my atheism, as that's not the government's job. People will accept my beliefs or not, and that's just life.

If I can make it through the day without crying about how persecuted I am, so can Christians. Grow up and deal with it.

Finally, I don't think for a second that it's true that Christians want the same acceptance for their beliefs that "everyone else has." You want the same acceptance I get? The same acceptance that Mormons get? Muslims?

No, you don't. You already get more acceptance, and you're asking for more, so the truth is that Christians want to be treated as special and above all other religions in America. You are already treated as better than everyone by at least one branch of the government.

I never believed, despite hearing many such allegations, that anyone wants separate classes in the US based on religion, where Christians are best and everyone else is inferior. But it's getting hard to see it any other way.

Anonymous said...

The bottom line is that nothing in biology makes sense without Evolution.
So many converging lines of evidence from so many diverse fields of science all point to the same inescapable conclusion. Biology, Genetics, Geology, Information theory, Thermodynamics and on and on. All of these sciences make specific predictions that have to be true for Evolution to be real. When each of these hundreds if not thousands of separate predictions have been tested they have all vindicated the idea that organisms evolve into new species over time. When people claim that Evolution is nonsense they often do not realize that if they are correct then all these other sciences would also have to be nonsense.

Torbjörn said...

@ Anonymous:

the problem is that these schools (and most of you) teach and believe Evolution and Big Bang (etc.) to be fact. Well, they aren't fact. They are theory.

They are accepted science, not beliefs. This is something you can check with your nations science council or similar function.

And you can't separate a scientific theory from the facts that it predicts - a theory owns its facts. You are trying to confuse this concept with the colloquial meaning of theory, a much different concept.

Someone made a rough estimate that evolution theory is supported by 10 million facts that it has predicted since its conception. The process itself is an easily observable fact, and its many mechanisms makes for many and sophisticated observations.

Big bang theory is both younger and simpler, but even so scientists have last week released the WMAP 5 year data that for the third time confirms the cosmological concordance model. The uncertainty is now so low that its big bang model is verified beyond reasonable doubt (according to rough but generic measures physicists use) - and it was generally accepted by the concerned scientists long ago.

What is really interesting with the latest data is that it has started to constrain models of inflation. That means that the confirmation of big bang theory isn't the end, but the continuation of a fruitful theory. Exactly as it was for evolution theory then that happened long ago.

Do you believe everything you read on the internet?

I take it you missed the references in the provided links. Those articles were written by scientists, you dolt!

You are giving good confirmation why science education needs to aim at higher quality, not lower as these bills wants to have it.

Don't tell me I'm intellectually lazy.

Sorry, I meant dolt and intellectually lazy (as you didn't read the science material).

Damian said...

Do you believe everything you read on the internet? [...] There are a lot of smart people who put shit on the net.

This is actually a half decent point. How do we know what to accept, and what to ignore? There are no easy answers, and that is why we find it so annoying that people are masquerading as experts and spreading misinformation.

What you need to look for are references from the scientists that have carried out the work, and also, check out the background of said scientists to see if they have the credentials to be trusted. You should find several sources that you trust, and then cross-reference between those sources. You can also gain access to the primary literature (peer reviewed).

The bottom line is that it isn't easy. It takes effort and commitment, but that doesn't mean that you are entitled to question things if you can't be bothered to do the work. That is disrespectful.

There is much nonsense of the internet, of course, but we should recognize that we live in a terrific age. Highly detailed information is available to all of us, and we can all become knowledgeable in almost any area that we wish to take an interest in. That can't be a bad thing.

The point is that you're human, I'm human, our scientists are human. And our understanding goes only so far. It can only go as far as we see [...] There are too many holes in the THEORY / HYPOTHESIS of evolution. [...] It is "ACCEPTED" as fact because more scientists accept than don't. [...} You're telling me that my existence lies on the majority vote?

I was a human the last time that I checked, yes. I don't mean to be rude, but I have no idea about yourself. I will accept your word for it though, as, if you were a really intelligent dog, say, I would still expect that you couldn't resist but to ask for a chewy stick in the end. Dog's are like that. ;-)

Now, do you realize what you seem to be suggesting here? That, because we are human, and our abilities are obviously limited, it is perfectly acceptable to ignore the very best method that we have found to explore reality? Will you take that attitude if you are ever lying in a hospital bed needing life saving medical care? Those Doctors are only human, right? The techniques that they have developed are a consequence of our limited ability, right? You wouldn't want to trust that, would you? Of course you would!

Do me a favor, please. Take a look around you. Think about all of the aspects of your life that are intrinsically linked to science. Now tell me that you could live the same life without all of that technology and medical expertize?

There are of course many areas of evolutionary theory that we don't yet understand. But we understand a great deal. It's a pretty big task. Something like 98% of all life that has ever existed is extinct. There are millions of different species on earth today, and many, many more that are now part of the history of life on earth. It is totally unrealistic to expect that we can explain everything, while the other side are fairly happy with saying, "God-did-it", don't you think?

What we do know is enough to be absolutely convinced that we are on the right path. There is no other explanation, anyway, and certainly not one that can be taken seriously. And it is important to mention that those who do argue against evolution usually either don't understand it very well, or have a religious motivation to do so. There is so much evidence that shows that this is usually the reason that people oppose what is the overwhelming consensus.

Unless you are prepared to put the work in to understand the current science, what choice do you have? If you are recommending extreme skepticism about everything that you haven't bothered to even attempt to understand, as you seem to be, good luck with that. Quite how you will manage to live - not daring to get in to a car, or to walk across a bridge, or even to cook food, I have no idea. Let me know how you get on, will you?

I'd rather accept that there is so much I cannot know about creation. I'd rather use that to go on my own journey to find the truth rather than listen to a bunch of stuff-shirts throw their weight around because they have a microscope.

And that's fine - as long as you don't actively oppose the teaching of the scientific consensus in schools. I must say that, from what you have said, thus far, you don't seem to be very far along your journey, which is why I presumed that you couldn't be bothered to find out. I apologize. You are free to do as you wish, of course, and nobody has said that you aren't. Just don't think that you can argue against something without having a pretty good idea about what it is that you are talking about, that's all. That is the height of arrogance, and it is totally disrespectful to those who have dedicated their lives to understanding the world around us, to the benefit of us all.

Good luck with your journey, and watch out for those gapping holes on either side of each bridge.

Anonymous said...

You (damian) certainly bring up good and fascinating points in your argument, but you assume incorrectly. I do my homework. I don't spend as much time as, say, you, on it but I certainly have done my share.

So are you assuming that one who reads up on all this and does their homework they'd be freed from ignorance and be converted to this Science you follow? That's what it sounds like to me. Sounds also like a religion. *please correct me if I'm wrong. But that's what I'm gathering from your words...that if someone reads what you read they'd believe what you believe.

I don't care who spent how much time doing what and what their credentials are. I can read up on people who have just as much study, if not more, and have the same background in Science who believe that evolution is not correct, or is still just a theory without proof.

I appreciate the work scientists and doctors do. And I appreciate that I can go to a hospital and get help. But I also know that there are plenty of flaws in the medical system that leads to death or life-changing mistakes. It's part of the human condition. Just like it's part of the human condition that, oh no!, you may be wrong.

torbjorn said: "Someone made a rough estimate that evolution theory is supported by 10 million facts that it has predicted since its conception."

Unless I missed something, "...10 million facts that is has PREDICTED..." is an oxymoron. How can you predict facts? A prediction is not fact, it is a prediction. That statement makes no sense. That statement, unless I'm reading it wrong, proves my THEORY that evolution cannot be proven. It can merely be predicted.

Someone correct me if I'm wrong, and I know that's possible. It'd be nice if certain other people would accept that they may be wrong. Pride is a killer.

Oldfart said...

I think you have misinterpreted this law. It does NOT say that any answer will be acceptable. It just says that, should a person use religious references in a written or speech assignment, they should not be penalized. I.E. "What did you do last summer?". I went to a Bible Camp and we did .....

That is the first part of this law and it is meant to protect those students for whom religion is a large part of their life. There have been cases where students have been penalized for writing about religion in assignments or in speeches.

The rest of the law is meant to give religious organizations the same status as secular organizations. This is the more problematic part of this law. Since public schools are funded by public money and not by religious money, the separation of the church and state here is of the utmost importance. There is no reason for a student going to a secular institution with other students of a variety of faiths to give "talks" on his/her own religion. None at all.

Then there is the insidious nature of this law. Given the slimy nature of Fundies and the lack of respect they have for anyone's rights but their own, there is no doubt that Fundie churches and pastors will urge their brainwashed child subjects to test this law to the limit by pushing religion in public schools as hard as they can.

Somehow, I just don't think the Fundies understand the huge difference between a Physics Club, an Astronomy Club, a Biology club, a Speech club and a religion.

As for those of you who posted that science-based evidence is a "faith" just like religions, go jump off a cliff and use your faith to float down. The rest of us will record how long you take to fall and whether or not your fall rate is commensurate with science-based expectations derived by many measurements over many years and by many tested theories of gravity. The same science that developed and tested theoris of Evolution and which continues to refine and test theories of how gravity and evolution work. Gravity is a fact. Evolution is a fact. The theory of Gravity and the theory of Evolution attempt to explain the facts. That is NOT a belief-system.

Damian said...

So are you assuming that one who reads up on all this and does their homework they'd be freed from ignorance and be converted to this Science you follow? That's what it sounds like to me. Sounds also like a religion. *please correct me if I'm wrong. But that's what I'm gathering from your words...that if someone reads what you read they'd believe what you believe.

Not at all! However, I would expect a person that has done their homework to, perhaps, point to some of the areas that they disagree with, and explain that disagreement. It would obviously have to include all of the known facts (which is often not the case with those who do argue against evolution), and it would be nice if they could provide an alternative that also explains all of the known facts. Unless they can explain the facts better than the current theory can, they are not likely to gain much traction. I know that it isn't fair, but you can't just make stuff up because it doesn't fit in with a 2000 year old book! Them's the brakes, I'm afraid.

As I have said, I don't really care what people believe, up to and including the point that it affects public policy. Then it is necessary that people do not misrepresent the other side, and that they don't lie about what is known. Unfortunately, pretty much all of the opposition to MET, thus far, has included misrepresentation and obfuscation. I make no judgment about whether it is deliberate, or not, but that is the experience that many of us have had.

As far as Evolution being a religion is concerned, that sounds like a case of projection, to be honest. It bares no relation to any of the definitions of religion, and you are simply making the meaning obsolete by taking that tack. In other words, it is far more harmful to the word, itself, and what we would currently think of as religions, than it is to biology. That is, of course, your choice.

I don't care who spent how much time doing what and what their credentials are. I can read up on people who have just as much study, if not more, and have the same background in Science who believe that evolution is not correct, or is still just a theory without proof.

In my opinion, you should care about the credentials of the people that you are arguing against. And there really are things that can be called facts, you know? Everything simply isn't a matter of opinion, and I am fairly convinced that you wouldn't like a world where it was, either. Perhaps in a court of law, say, or again, in a hospital?

If someone is going to deny that the holocaust ever happened, then they are going to have to provide some pretty powerful evidence for it, and they are going to have to find a way to explain all of the known and recorded facts, from that time. It is not simply a matter of opinion.

There are indeed people with credentials that do not accept evolution, but very few of them are experts in the relevant fields. Most are experts in other areas, which makes them as useful as you or I at arguing against a field that we are not knowledgeable in.

And in any case, science is about evidence and argument. You may not believe me, but scientists don't generally want to waste their time when they could be figuring stuff out about the world. Anyone who overturned a theory as well supported as MET would win a Nobel prize and instant world fame, as well as countless riches. If scientists generally thought that there was any merit to opposing ideas, they certainly wouldn't show any loyalty to MET. It has happened before, and it will no doubt happen again, but it will always be based on evidence and sound logical construction.

It might be important for me to point out a few things here:

Science is committed to methodological naturalism. The reason for this is that it provides a structure to the scientific method, which means that anyone, anywhere can get involved in science, and follow a similar set of rules - hypothesize, predict, test, repeat. If everyone was just doing their own thing, nobody could attempt to repeat the experiment to see if the results are valid. Not good!

The reason that there is a bias against supernatural explanations is because it is impossible to test something that is not part of the natural world. As an example, let's say that we decided that you were a result of the hand of God. How could we actually know that? There is literally no method for us to test for that, so it could just as likely be the hand of anything. And even if we did decide that was the case, what use is it? Science has to be useful. It has to enable us to formulate new predictions, that lead to new research. Nobody would be funded if results were not useful in expanding our knowledge. That, in a nutshell, is why supernatural explanations are off the table, and why they are best left for philosophy or theology classes.

How can you predict facts? A prediction is not fact, it is a prediction. [...] Someone correct me if I'm wrong, and I know that's possible.

You're wrong, sorry! One of the ways that we can filter out good explanations from bad, is to make predictions.

For example, if theory (X) is correct, then I would expect to find, fact (Y). Then you have to come up with an experiment that will hopefully reveal (Y). If you do indeed find (Y), then you know that you are on the right path. This happens many, many times before you can even be slightly confident that your theory is robust.

What you are trying to do is falsify your own theory, believe it or not. Science never proves anything, it can only falsify. The reason for that is that it is possible - no matter how small the odds are - that the sun will not rise tomorrow. It is only when a theory has passed a huge number of potential falsifications that we can be reasonably confident that something is inching closer to reality. Science, by its very nature, is tentative.

An evolutionary example:

A team of scientists wanted to find a transitional fossil between fish and early tetrapods (amphibians). For evolution to be true, it was predicted that there should be a fossil that had both, features of the fish found at that time, and of the tetrapods that are found slightly later in the fossil record. Our understanding of common descent suggests that tetrapods must have evolved from lobe-finned fish, roughly 375 million years ago.

As they knew when tetrapods began to appear in the fossil record, they were able to predict where in the rock formation they were most likely to find such a transitional form. This is because we are able to age both fossils and rock, and certain layers of rock, all around the world, concur with each other.

So, they found an area where a particular age of rock was exposed and could be investigated (Ellesmere Island, in northern Canada). After quite some time, whaddaya know, they found Tiktaalik.

That is what is known as making a successful prediction, and it is a fact that the fossil was found in the place that it was. They have gone on to find several of these little beauties, as well!

That, my friend, is called science. If it doesn't inspire you, I don't know what will.

Torbjörn said...

How can you predict facts? A prediction is not fact, it is a prediction.

You read to much into this, it means a prediction of the facts.

That statement, unless I'm reading it wrong, proves my THEORY that evolution cannot be proven.

No science can be proven. Proofs can be made in formal theories, but science relies on observations and facts.

Science can be tested, and incorrect (such as YEC) or empty ideas (such as ID) can be rejected. This is much more powerful than predictions, because predictions is also a characteristic of formal theories. Testing is learning (narrowing of possibilities) by doing, and can be further augmented by using parsimony and other science methods.

It'd be nice if certain other people would accept that they may be wrong.

Science is revisable, because it is learning of knowledge, observations can be wrong or theories need revision. However when theories grows large by way of their predicted facts it is the new details that are in question, not the basics.

A theory substituting for MET wholesale needs to predict those 10 million tests. That is difficult. A theory extending MET needs to add only the predictions of the extension. That is a much more viable proposition, and is in fact done routinely.

As for example Tiktaalik, as Damien reminds us. It added a new set of passed tests to the validation. (And new knowledge of course.)

Anonymous said...

You know, if you boneheads didn't keep insisting on allowing government to run the school system, things like this wouldn't happen AT ALL. So you liberals have yourselves to thank.

Utter market-worshipping bullshit. Here in Britain, schools are currently being thrown open to privatisation after being under government jurisdiction for as long as anyone can remember. And what's the first consequence of this? A load of wacky religious/right-wing multimillionaires are opening their own schools where they can teach children what they like, unhindered by all that tricky "facts and evidence" stuff the government used to ensure schools had to deal with.

So the result of taking British schools out of government hands is that Creationism is being taught openly in our public schools for the first time in living memory. Which is the sort of thing you say wouldn't happen AT ALL.

Doc said...

I wonder how many replies to this post have actually been made by licensed (or formerly-licensed-no-longer-educators?

ttechidna said...

Man, I really wish people would grow a brain and stop being lazy shits.

Not only does it happen with Creationism vs science... it happens with the morons who refuse to protest injustices because it doesn't affect them.

Welcome to America.

Anonymous said...

Somewhere in San Francisco, I believe, there is this so-called 'Church of Satan'. I wonder if there may be something similar in Oklahoma or in Texas. Perhaps, even the Wiccan religion may have believers there as well. It'll surely be interesting to see how this is gonna play out if such a bill is going to be passed into law.

- AsiaWest