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WA Lawmakers try to remove "repugnant" Theory of Evolution from schools
January 25, 2002 11:22 AM   Subscribe

WA Lawmakers try to remove "repugnant" Theory of Evolution from schools. Yes, this is the 21st century, and yes - we in Washington State now have two bills, (Senate and House) before our congress that propose "All textbooks and curriculum that teach the theory of evolution shall be removed from the public schools forthwith and replaced with textbooks and curriculum that teach the self-evident truth of creation".

I don't know whether this is a legitimate effort to change the law, or a (hopefully) doomed effort to curry favor with conservative voters. [originally via fark]
posted by kokogiak (46 comments total)

 
Sorry about the odd whitespace (bluespace) in the post.

The legislators in question are from Ephrata, Moses Lake and Vancouver - all small towns far from Seattle, as you may have guessed. The Senator - Hochstatter - was involved in an earlier debacle I posted here: the blocking of an anti-bullying vote, preserving the rights of conservatives to condemn homosexuality.
posted by kokogiak at 11:29 AM on January 25, 2002


Two interesting things I noticed:

"The Declaration of Independence declares the self-evident truth that all men are created.

Well, sort of.

"The Declaration of Independence also declares that our rights are endowed by the Creator, and that governments are instituted among men to secure these God-given rights."

I guess that's one way to read it.
posted by jragon at 11:30 AM on January 25, 2002


"...teach the self-evident truth of creation"


if it is self-evident, then why does it have to be taught?
posted by yesster at 11:36 AM on January 25, 2002


have fish, have barrel, have shotgun, available for freelance work on weekends.
posted by th3ph17 at 12:04 PM on January 25, 2002


"Ignorance and fanaticism are ever busy and need feeding. Always feeding and gloating for more. Today it is the public school teachers; tomorrow the private. The next day the preachers and the lecturers, the magazines, the books, the newspapers. After a while, Your Honor, it is the setting of man against man and creed against creed until with flying banners and beating drums we are marching backward to the glorious ages of the sixteenth century when bigots lighted faggots to burn the men who dared to bring any intelligence and enlightenment and culture to the human mind."
-- Clarence S. Darrow
(1923, *sigh* what progress?)
posted by malphigian at 12:09 PM on January 25, 2002


Note to self: Never hire anyone who was educated by the Washington school system (ditto for Kansas).
posted by Hieronymous Coward at 12:11 PM on January 25, 2002


This is a very interesting proposal. Usually I find myself in the position of defending the right to teach creationism in school - I don't recall ever seeing the opposite. While I do believe in creationism, I strongly disagree with this bill. People should hear about both and make their own decisions. Slightly off topic, there is no reason why we shouldn't teach Christianity along with Judaism, Islam, Atheism, and so forth in schools. (Interesting read: California Pupils Indoctrinated in Islam) School is about learning and teaching people how to think. As a refresher, don't forget that our constitution and amendments don not actually say the words, "separation of church and state". The correct wording is, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion."

If I had been taught one religion and it was pushed on me, I'd agree that my school had abused the constitution. However, if they told me the histories of many different religions and how they've come to be, what the similarities and differences are, why people believe or do not believe in religions, etc... well that would have made me a much more informed individual. Knowing about lots of things gives you the perspective you need when you meet new people, hear stories on the news about foreign countries and allows you to question your own beliefs (religious or otherwise).


Teaching Christianity (in school OR church) doesn't make a student a christian. Likewise, teaching Physics doesn't make a student a physicist.
posted by stormy at 12:35 PM on January 25, 2002


Hey Hieronymous Coward, Don't leave out Oklahoma.
posted by racer271 at 12:39 PM on January 25, 2002


stormy: Some good comments, I don't disagree at all that studies of a wide range of world religions is a fine thing. The snooty-ass private highschool I went to did this quite well. I am extremely skeptical that school districts like these, however, would be able to do it fairly.

The problem is when one of those religions (the stricter christians), teach their religion as fact, or, as is the case with Creationism, dress their beliefs based on faith as beliefs based on scientific theory. Teaching creationism (not a theory, a dogmatic belief based on faith) as an equal to evolution (a constantly developing theory based on current data, as all scientific "laws" are), is completely disingenous, and is in fact teaching religion. If you do teach kids "some people believe in creationism...", you better also present the wealth of data that makes it completely preposterous to posit that the world is 6000 years old. You might as well say they have to teach that the world is flat, or rain comes from big floodgates that open in the sky, or that woman was made from Adam's rib.
posted by malphigian at 12:52 PM on January 25, 2002


Taliban, American Style.
posted by holycola at 1:01 PM on January 25, 2002


It never ceases to infuriate me that evolution can't be simply taught without controversy. There are plenty of examples of modern (ie. last hundred years) examples of population changes that have occurred in nature. Evolution is quite simply a fact in the natural world, to say nothing of animal husbandry. The only theory plays into mechanisms. I don't give a rat's ass whether people choose to believe that the earth is 20 minutes old and *GOD* created everything pretty much as is/was, but to deny observable phenomena simply because the only book you can read hasn't been updated in a thousand years is silly.

If the objection is to natural selection as a mechanism for evolution, fine. Don't teach that. But denying that evolution occurs is just assanine. It's self evident that artificial selection happens, people breed cats for certain traits. That is as much evolution as naturally occurring (or perhaps *GOD* induced) changes in the wild. Of course, we could just deny all observable phenomena and teach children that the earth is carried through space on the back of a giant tortoise.
posted by shagoth at 1:05 PM on January 25, 2002


At the same time, some Atheist teachers teach Evolution as and dress up all their beliefs in teaching evolution and darwinism. I see an Atheist teaching evolution no different than a Christian teaching Creationism.
I went to a Catholic high school, and Creationism wasn't even taught there...instead, only evolution that simply taught that humans evolved from another being into what we are now. Whether that be another form of humans (Neatdrathrals (sp?)) or monkeys is up to debate. Personally, there is a middle ground to be found between creationism and evolution. Each theory is based up upon the other (or at least can be used to support the other). Kind of like God created everything (or in school, everything magically appeared one day) and God has a guiding hand on what still happens (something like evolution).
posted by jmd82 at 1:13 PM on January 25, 2002


Likewise, teaching Physics doesn't make a student a physicist.

This is a joke, right? Stormy, I suppose you think physicists are just created by God? I think you meant: "Teaching physics does not make ALL students physicists." The seemingly semantic difference is extraordinarily important in understanding why it is a very bad idea to teach religion in school (in any context). That is: teaching it in school will lead some to believe it is true in just the same way teaching physics, to use your metaphor, will cause some students to become physicists.

That being said, I would embrace educational change that includes the reinforcement of values that may coincide with the moral underpinnings of religion, but, without the dogma, or the reliance upon untestable belief.
posted by plaino at 1:16 PM on January 25, 2002


The phrase "separation of church and state" WAS articulated by one of our founding fathers, though, namely Jefferson in a famous letter to the Danbury Baptists.
posted by Vacaloca at 1:33 PM on January 25, 2002


The phrase "separation of church and state" WAS articulated by one of our founding fathers, though, namely Jefferson in a famous letter to the Danbury Baptists.
posted by Vacaloca at 1:33 PM on January 25, 2002


I certainly don't have a problem with teaching the biblical creation in school as part of social studies (comparative religion) or literature. It's when they insist that biblical creation should be taught in earth science or biology classes that bothers me.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:40 PM on January 25, 2002


Relax guys. I've already emailed my state Reps and Senator (yes, I live in WA) and indeed gotten replies. Allow me to quote one of my Reps (who would likely appreciate it if I didn't name him):

Thanks for sharing your opposition to SB 6500. I don't expect to see much legislative support for this proposal, but will keep your comments in mind if the bill comes before the House for consideration.

Nevertheless, it would be wise for any of you who are from Washington to write your appropriate elected officials. I specifically pointed out the potential economic impact if high tech employers decided to move to a more enlightened state, the fact that students who have never heard of evolution would be at a disadvantage in college (not to mention life should they become scientists), and the difficulty of finding accurate, up-to-date texts that don't mention evolution. Feel free to use your own reasoning.
posted by ilsa at 1:48 PM on January 25, 2002


They're not going to approve the bill. If so, it will be vetoed by Gary Locke. There are nuts in every state government. This is a non-story, in my humble opinion.
posted by Hildago at 1:48 PM on January 25, 2002


Plaino - yes, you're right - I did miss the word "all". I have to disagree that religion should not be taught in school. Again, I'm not saying we should have far-right bible-beaters talking about religion at school. I just think it would be disingenious to not talk about something that's a critical part of nearly every culture in the world. Our opinions aside, the American people want creationism taught in schools (less than 50% of Americans believe in pure evolution).

Vacaloca - your link didn't work for me. KirkJobSluder - that's an excellent point.

posted by stormy at 1:54 PM on January 25, 2002


Don't get me wrong, I HATE this bill, for a variety of reasons. I'm only glad that it won't come to anything. But if we're going to claim, by implication, the support of the fouding fathers for our current conception of church and state, let's get our history strait.

Valcalocoa: The phrase "separation of church and state" WAS articulated by one of our founding fathers, though, namely Jefferson in a famous letter to the Danbury Baptists.

Very true. But, for a balanced view, lets look at what ELSE the founding fathers said.

"The highest glory of the American Revolution was this; it connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.” -- John Quincy Adams

"The most effectual means of securing the continuance of our civil and religious liberties is, always to remember with reverence and gratitude the source from which they flow." -- John Jay to Committee of the Corporation of the City of New York, June 29, 1826.

(John Jay also wondered "whether our religion permits Christians to vote for infidel rulers" and concluded that was a question which deserved more consideration.)

And my personal favorite...

"Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports. in vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and Citizens. The mere Politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked, where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instrument of investigation in Courts of Justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. [emphasis mine] Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in the exclusion of religious principle.

It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who, that is a sincere friend to it, can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?
"

- George Washington, Farewell Address, September 17, 1796.

I'm thinking that, were George Washington alive today, he's be called the next "American Taliban leader" too.

I've written substantially more on the subject of religion in early America here.
posted by gd779 at 2:03 PM on January 25, 2002


stormy... this is why you, as a general rule, can't trust the general population to make their own decisions based on "what is popular".

For example, in 1850, in the south, slavery was a popular thing. Brought to a vote by the people then, they would say, "yes, keep slavery." Does that then make it correct?

Fast forward a couple of decades, and women wanting to vote. Same situation.

The population many times needs a swift kick in the ass to get moving.
posted by benjh at 2:11 PM on January 25, 2002


But would Christian fundamentalists and/or evangelicals approve of the religious beliefs of, say, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, or Benjamin Franklin? For that matter, how many of the FF would approve of, oh, Jerry Falwell? Mid- to late-eighteenth-century Christianity, deist, "rational," or otherwise, doesn't necessarily coincide with the beliefs of the Moral Majority-style right.
posted by thomas j wise at 2:25 PM on January 25, 2002


But would Christian fundamentalists and/or evangelicals approve of the religious beliefs of, say, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, or Benjamin Franklin?

First of all, we're talking about how the ff's conceived of the relationship between "church and state", not religion in general. The particular nature of our ff's religious beliefs isn't strictly relevant.

Second, you chose your three ff's carefully. Those three aren't at all representitive. For example, according to Dr. Bradford of the University of Dallas, almost all of the delegates to the Constitutional Convention were Christian: Based on the signed declarations of faith commonly required for church membership, 28 delegates were Episcopalians, 8 were Presbyterians, 7 were Congregationalists, 2 were Lutherans, 2 Dutch Reformed, 2 Methodist, 2 Roman Catholic, and 3 were deist. One religious preference (James McClung) is unknown to historians.
posted by gd779 at 2:36 PM on January 25, 2002


The snooty-ass private highschool I went to did this quite well. I am extremely skeptical that school districts like these, however, would be able to do it fairly.

Exactly - my private high school required one course in the bible, and one elective in religion. At first I was prepared to fight the bible requirement, but the class turned out to be an excellent analysis of a piece of influential literature & mythology of the West in general. The strict believers were the ones made uncomfortable (more here). However, it is difficult for some to view the bible from an academic viewpoint when they have strong emotional connections to it, and therefore could be dangerous to attempt to teach it in a secular manner.

I'm thinking that, were George Washington alive today, he's be called the next "American Taliban leader" too.

oh please. His words are far less reliant on religion than stuff Dubya says, and no one's claiming he's american taliban. The first Bush even said atheists shouldn't be considered citizens, remember?

"Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in the exclusion of religious principle."

He's basically saying we should be careful of letting the riff-raff know it's all fake 'cause then they won't follow the rules. Which unfortunately may not be so far from the truth... I dunno. Washington in that quote was just saying it was useful - not that it was necessarily true.

All of the quotes you chose are far more tempered than our modern politicians with regard to religious belief. They also respect reason, and their gratitude to the indistinct creator (not Jesus Christ Almighty, etc) is commonly for attributes like patience, thoughtfulness, rationality, and civility. They do not go on about being 'saved' & having a 'personal relationship w. god' etc.
posted by mdn at 2:45 PM on January 25, 2002


And that was almost 100 years before Darwin...
posted by mdn at 2:47 PM on January 25, 2002


"At the same time, some Atheist teachers teach Evolution as and dress up all their beliefs in teaching evolution and darwinism. I see an Atheist teaching evolution no different than a Christian teaching Creationism."
jmd82

The only problem with this, is that evolution is an actual science, while creationism is a belief. Rather like saying, "I see an Atheist teaching math no different than a Christian teaching Creationism." In real life, these are totally different subjects. One is religious, the other is scientific.
posted by stoneegg21 at 3:01 PM on January 25, 2002


less than 50% of Americans believe in pure evolution

And yet evolution continues unabated despite so many people not believing in it. The critical difference between testable concepts (like evolution) and beliefs is that they describe things that exist even if you don't believe in them. The concept of evolution can be used to make accurate predictions even if you don't believe in it. Religion on the other hand will never be a good predictive model outside the subjective world of the mind of the believer.
posted by plaino at 3:04 PM on January 25, 2002


And another thing, the pragmatic foundations of the religious tradition lie in politics. Jared Diamond discusses in his book the origin of religion in mystical institutions created by political leaders of ancient cultures as a way to 'indepently' confirm their right to govern. This practice arose in many cultures and has effectively served to keep the masses suitably impressed (or should I say repressed) ever since.
posted by plaino at 3:13 PM on January 25, 2002


> The concept of evolution can be used to make accurate
> predictions even if you don't believe in it.

Scientific method roolz, d00d. You know of a testable prediction, deduced from the theory of evolution, that is really diagnostic? By which I mean that if the prediction proves false the theory falls, or needs major revision? Tell! I especially want to look at the methods section.
posted by jfuller at 3:21 PM on January 25, 2002


my high school physiology/physics/chemistry/biology teacher is a devout Southern Baptist who teaches Sunday school at her church. she also taught evolution as part of her biology and physiology classes. she had no problem with it. she didn't consider evolution and creationism as an Either/Or type of thing.
posted by tolkhan at 4:28 PM on January 25, 2002


The only problem with this, is that evolution is an actual science, while creationism is a belief. I think evolution is a theory, while creationism is a belief. They both require a leap of faith to be embraced wholeheartedly.
posted by Mack Twain at 5:02 PM on January 25, 2002


I could never stand to be in a religion with people who impose their beliefs on you, and call it the truth.
posted by d8uv at 5:23 PM on January 25, 2002


jfuller asks:
You know of a testable prediction, deduced from the theory of evolution, that is really diagnostic? By which I mean that if the prediction proves false the theory falls, or needs major revision?


He is referencing, of course, Karl Popper's idea of falsifiability. In the 1940s Popper, a philosopher of science, estabilished a set of criteria to distinguish science from pseudoscience. Among these is falsifiability: a true scientific theory can be proven false by observation or experiment. Since Popper's time, opponants of Darwin's theory have often used the arguement "evolution isn't falsifiable!".


Let's forget for a moment two things: 1) The falsifiability critereon is no longer widely accepted by philosophers of science as a necessary characteristic of science (more here.) 2) No falsifiable alternatives to evolution by natural selection exist.


Now that we've forgotten those things, let's ask ourselves: is "evolution" falsifiable? First, we must realize that this is a shitty question, since the "theory of evolution" is a poorly defined term. What jfuller more likely means is something along the lines of the theory described by this statement: New species come into being via natural selection among individuals possessing distinct traits. Novel traits emerge via random mutation.


So is this statement falsifiable--i.e., is there some possible observation or experiment which would prove it untrue? Certainly, the spontaneous emergence of many individuals of a new species genetically unrelated to any existing species would be such an observation. As a sketch for an experiment, consider the following: Compare the genomes of two species which have appeared in the fossil record at distinct, but well known, time points. If the number of mutations, splicings, chromosomal recombination events, etc. observed in this geological time is inconsitent with what we would expect from physics and biochemistry, then there's something seriously wrong with molecular evolution theory.
posted by mr_roboto at 5:55 PM on January 25, 2002


I've asked a few "creation-believers" this: Couldn't God have created the Earth by way of evolution?

The people with firm beliefs in nothing less than "pure creationism" simply dismissed me as saying that it was "god's word". The other's, more receptive to reasonable thinking, found it an interesting thought.

(Oh, and yes... I did look up, can't find God's Word... tried searching by author, nothing specific to God.)
posted by benjh at 6:31 PM on January 25, 2002


At the same time, some Atheist teachers teach Evolution as and dress up all their beliefs in teaching evolution and darwinism. I see an Atheist teaching evolution no different than a Christian teaching Creationism.

Except of course for the fact that Creationism is wrong, so wrong that seriously teaching it these days in science should be treated just as fraudulent as phlogston, aether, the hollow earth and Orgone. Perhaps a better analogy would be to say that an Atheist teaching evolution is no different from a fundamentalist christian teaching that Pi=3.00

In addition, it is interesting that so much energy is spent on Evolution rather than the big picture that the Earth is far older than a literal interpretation of the Bible allows. More independent lines of evidence support evolution alone than the existence of Io around Jupiter. The evidence that the universe is much older than the estimates suggested by the bible comes from all the major disciplines of science except perhaps for economics, sociology and psychology. Creationists currently have no argument other than to plug their ears and shout that they are not listening. They are burried literally under kilotones of evidence for evolution, and the entire universe seems to shout out that it is unbelievably old.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:51 PM on January 25, 2002


I don't care if you want to believe in this or that or something else, I just don't accept that something MUST NOT be taught because on some piece of paper there is written that God created men.

What's that, the Bible ? Not even the Bible holds every bit of truth, unless you believe it does. And anybody should be allowed to believe whatever he/she likes or thinks.

Different points of view don't need to be encouraged, but they must be defended otherwise someday some new Hitler/Stalin will tell us that there is ONLY ONE point of view, no matter if it's right or wrong.
posted by elpapacito at 7:52 PM on January 25, 2002


Couldn't God have created the Earth by way of evolution?

Though this is a very popular viewpoint, it always irks me as it doesn't make any sense at all. The whole point of evolution is it's "trial & error" style - the mutations that are useful, survive; those that preclude reproduction, necessarily die off. So it's like saying, couldn't god have created life through randomness? ookay... so then... where would god come in...?
posted by mdn at 8:08 PM on January 25, 2002


I think evolution is a theory, while creationism is a belief. They both require a leap of faith to be embraced wholeheartedly.

This is an old creationist argument that makes use of a misunderstanding in terminology. "Theory" in this respect does not equal "wild-ass guess." Evolution is a well-proven fact. It is the very foundation of modern biological sciences. It requires no more of a leap of faith than the theory of gravity. If you stop believing in gravity, you don't start floating around.
posted by AstroGuy at 10:11 PM on January 25, 2002


This is an old creationist argument that makes use of a misunderstanding in terminology. "Theory" in this respect does not equal "wild-ass guess."

Any philosopher will tell you that there is no fact when it comes to science. There's always the possible that evolution can be proven wrong (as much as it seems reasonable) and therefor it remains only a theory.

Now, any creationist who tries using semantics to attack evolution is making a weak argument at best.
posted by drezdn at 11:18 PM on January 25, 2002


Any philosopher will tell you that there is no fact when it comes to science. There's always the possible that evolution can be proven wrong (as much as it seems reasonable) and therefor it remains only a theory.

Who's using semantics now? "Only a theory" is a phrase that creationists use all the time. The status of "theory" in science is the highest one can attain. (The term "law" used to be used, but is no longer favored). Evolution is observable and proven by overwhelming evidence. That is as good as science can do. Now, if you want to talk about natural selection as a means by which evolution occurs, that's different. That's more of a "theory" in the popular sense of the term. But it does not negate the fact of evolution.

Newton's "Laws" of gravity describe a physical property of the universe. Let go of an object (here on Earth, for example) and it always falls down. It never goes up--this is an undisputed fact. His idea of a force which is the means by which this occurs is no longer favored, being supplanted by Eintein's theory of General Relativity because GR better explains the phenomena witnessed. Likewise, evolution is an undisputed fact in science. The methods by which it is effected--artificial selection, natural selection, etc.--are subjects of study and may be supplanted by new theories in the future. That's the way science works. To say that evolution doesn't exist or is "just a theory" is analogous to saying that gravity is just a theory. It isn't, and semantics don't change that.
posted by AstroGuy at 6:51 AM on January 26, 2002


Given the subject matter, I thought that these words by Thomas Jefferson might be of interest.

Indeed I think that every Christian sect gives a great handle to Atheism by their general dogma that, without a revelation, there would not be sufficient proof of the being of a god... I hold (without appeal to revelation) that when we take a view of the Universe, in its parts general or particular, it is impossible for the human mind not to perceive and feel a conviction of design, consummate skill, and indefinite power in every atom of its composition... it is impossible, I say, for the human mind not to believe that there is, in all this, design, cause and effect, up to an ultimate cause, a fabricator of all things from matter and motion, their preserver and regulator while permitted to exist in their present forms, and their regenerator into new and other forms. We see, too, evident proofs of the necessity of a superintending power to maintain the Universe in its course and order. Stars, well known, have disappeared, new ones have come into view, comets, in their incalculable courses, may run foul of suns and planets and require renovation under other laws; certain races of animals are become extinct; and, were there no restoring power, all existences might extinguish successively, one by one, until all should be reduced to a shapeless chaos. So irresistible are these evidences of an intelligent and powerful Agent that, of the infinite numbers of men who have existed thro' all time, they have believed, in the proportion of a million at least to Unit, in the hypothesis of an eternal pre-existence of a creator, rather than in that of self-existent Universe. Surely this unanimous sentiment renders this more probable than that of the few in the other hypothesis.

-- Thomas Jefferson, Letter to John Adams, April 11, 1823
posted by gd779 at 8:39 PM on January 26, 2002


Thomas Jefferson also believed the continents would be governed by some form of symmetry, therefore a wide open river waterway should lead from the West Coast of the United States deep into the Great Plains analogous to the Mississippi, the Hudson, and the McKenzie. In fact the purpose of the Lewis and Clark expedition was to find this great waterway that would prove a viable strategic and commercial alternative to the Northwest passage.

Certainly Jefferson was at the cutting edge by proposing an intelligent design theory of the universe. Is that really an argument for rolling our understanding of the universe back to the early 1800s?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:44 PM on January 26, 2002


I've heard the arguments for evolution, and the arguments for creation. I choose creation. I'm rational, open-minded, and free to choose what makes the most sense. Are you open-minded enough to accept that?

I don't think that everything we attribute to evolution is wrong. There is truth to many parts of it. Nor do I believe in throwing out all of science to believe in Creation. That would be foolish. I have seen, however, plenty of scientific evidence that shakes the foundations of evolution, and points towards a creator.

Is it that frightening to think that the people behind the WA proposal might be rational, open-minded, have seen the evidence, aren't in it for themselves, and don't care to control anybody?
posted by matt324 at 12:13 PM on January 27, 2002


Bertrand Russell
I wish to propose for the reader's favourable consideration a doctrine which may, I fear, appear wildly paradoxical and subversive. The doctrine in question is this: that it is undesirable to believe a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true.
On the Value of Scepticism
posted by th3ph17 at 10:31 AM on January 28, 2002


Is it that frightening to think that the people behind the WA proposal might be rational, open-minded, have seen the evidence, aren't in it for themselves, and don't care to control anybody?

the thing is, the religion itself finds it necessary to "control" people - you must believe in the creation stuff in order to be a true christian in order not to burn in hell - etc. Don't know if you go that far, but some people do, and it follows from the internal logic of the religion - you must be "saved" from something by jesus, therefore hell exists; you must deserve hell for some reason, therefore adam's transgression is necessary, as only a mad god would punish people for traits that came into being through random chemical mutations he somehow oversaw.

So, if you believe all that to be fact, of course your focus would be on convincing others of it's truth, lest they spend all of eternity in unending, unbearable pain.
posted by mdn at 12:37 PM on January 28, 2002


Here are a few conclusions I've reached on this issue:

1) I believe many in this forum have lambasted this proposal because a) it's too heavy handed. b) It promotes teaching a conclusion, rather than letting students draw a conclusion from the evidence.

2) There is genuine evidence contradicting evolution that is generally silenced. And those promoting that evidence are the ones evolutionists trust least.

3) Many believing in evolution have been taught it in a biased one-sided manner. The education system hasn't trusted them enough to present to them all the evidence.

Given that, here's what we should do about it:
1) Those supporting evolution, should take an open-minded look at the scientific evidence contradicting evolution.

2) Don't assume Christians are irrational and backwards thinking. Many are open-minded people who have come to what they believe by a rational analysis of the facts they've been presented.

3) Christians should, in turn, not force their conclusion on others. Christ certainly didn't do that! He simply provided teaching that made sense to rational people.
posted by matt324 at 9:57 AM on February 8, 2002


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