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Looks like Cobb County, Georgia, wants to raise a whole generation of idiots.
April 2, 2002 7:06 AM   Subscribe

Looks like Cobb County, Georgia, wants to raise a whole generation of idiots. (By way of The National Center for Science Education) I'm distressed and amazed that this kind of thing still goes on in the most technologically-advanced nation in the world. Can a sane and undeluded adult still think that evolution is a securlar humanist lie? Given the comprehensive and unambiguous evidence that has established evolution as a cast-iron fact, why do school boards and other government entities still lend an ear to this kind of right-wing extremist crap?
posted by mrmanley (130 comments total)

 
I love this woman's reasoning: "I don't want anybody taking care of me in a nursing home some day to think I came from a monkey."

Isn't that what it comes down to for a lot of people? When given the choice between being made in the image of God or being related to monkeys, many people choose the former. I guess they find it more dignified. Looking around the world, though, and seeing how organized religion has chosen to represent God (you know the litany of bloody horrors) its no wonder some of us stick with the tree-swingers.

Anyone care for a banana?
posted by gutenberg at 7:15 AM on April 2, 2002


This kind of thing goes on in Japan? That's certainly the most technologically advanced nation in the world, unless your standard of tech advancement concerns cluster bombs.
This stoopbrowed anti-evolution reaction will take on a new cast in the years to come, as people start grappling with the implications of genetic engineering. Before too many more years go by, a woman will be able to give birth to an actual monkey (or an ape, anyway), and then you'll see a lot of people get really creeped out.
posted by Allen Varney at 7:25 AM on April 2, 2002


There's something wonderfully dotty and anti-establishment about these people who, in this day and age, choose to believe their won fantastic version of creation. That woman's reasoning about whom she wants taking care of her in a nursing home, is really expressing a very deep kind of humanism. She's saying, "To hell with your damned science, what's important to me is people, and how they act toward one another." These creationists have their own counter-culture, more severe and demanding than anything offered up by Adbusters, and other anti-materialist groups. I respect 'em.
posted by Faze at 7:29 AM on April 2, 2002


I think ANY version of reality is bizarre if you think about it long enough. No reason to pick on mine, dear. (i'm right, but that's beside the point.)
posted by bunnyfire at 7:32 AM on April 2, 2002


God really needs to get on the ball, because this whole religion thing is just not working out, and it is reflecting poorly on him or her or them.

Terrorism, mommies drowning their babies in the bathtub, christian funk metal...God why have you forsaken us?
posted by glenwood at 7:36 AM on April 2, 2002


Idiots in Cobb County? Holy cow! You must be kidding! You mean the place that once tried to outlaw being gay, the place that started their own transit system out of fear that the existing Atlanta one would allow 'undesireables' into their hallowed borders, the place that tried to outlaw tittie bars by making it illegal to have booze and naked ladies in the same place (only to make the dreams come true of all the high school boys who were suddenly allowed entrance to the new, all-ages tittie bars), the place that requires gun ownership (at least in Kennesaw) has now done something else stupid? Wow!
posted by spilon at 7:37 AM on April 2, 2002


These creationists have their own counter-culture, more severe and demanding than anything offered up by Adbusters, and other anti-materialist groups.

So did the Taliban.

gutenberg: Pass me the banana please...
posted by talos at 7:38 AM on April 2, 2002


Faze:

These people should be considered an embarassment to our government. How did they manage to get through school and become adults without being taught one of the most fundamental facts there is? They are not "anti-establishment" conterculture heroes; they are dangerously ignorant, and they pass this ignorance on to their children.

Children have a right to be taught the true and correct nature of the universe they live in. Parents who indoctrinate their children with a literalist Biblical view of history are doing horrible damage to their childrens' futures: it is terribly traumatic for a child to find that what he has been told for many years is wrong (or at least badly misinformed). This kind of damage can keep them from ever being able to understand science in any meaningful way, which in turn hurts their chances of being successful adults.
posted by mrmanley at 7:38 AM on April 2, 2002


I find it alarming to assume that one will spend their final days in a nursing home. I mean, that is really worst case scenario, right?
posted by glenwood at 7:39 AM on April 2, 2002


mrmanley: While I'm as upset as you are about this stuff, I do believe we have some creationists among the readers at mefi, and, while Evolution posts often degrade into a flame war, the way you wrote your post seems to seal it.

With that said, few things depress me more than this. The lack of understanding of what a scientific theory is (a best fit for current data, not dogma -- and that gravity is a theory too), the fact that we are still debating something that should have been settled in 1929. On some level, I guess I have the naive belief that there is a progress of reason of some sort going on, events like this remind me there isn't really.

Speaking of 1929, here's something Mencken said on the subject:
The curse of man, and the cause of nearly all his woes, is his stupendous capacity for believing the incredible.
posted by malphigian at 7:41 AM on April 2, 2002


malphigian:

I refuse to coddle Creationists. Nearly all religious faiths have affirmed that evolution is consistent with religious belief (see this list). Rabid anti-evolutionists are not only ignorant of biology; there are often ignorant of the tenets of their own faiths!

I view this as a continuing problem of education -- science teachers, by tiptoeing around the evolution issue, are not getting the message across. School boards, afraid of "making a fuss", are caving in to a small but vocal minority. This is not "respecting the religious views of others". This is a base and shameful abdication of educational responsibility. And the children are the losers.
posted by mrmanley at 7:56 AM on April 2, 2002


I am a creationist, but you all can now get on your knees and thank God that I refuse to argue about it.

If you need a reason, see the post I made further up.

I still love you all tho *big wet smooch on all your noses*
posted by bunnyfire at 8:01 AM on April 2, 2002


I don't see this as a very important issue -- I would consider this school board's sure to be awful sexual education curriculum to be a much bigger problem than their choice of creationism/evolutionary curriculum.

I graduated from high school in 1991 without hearing the word AIDS come out of a teacher's mouth because of reactionary christian groups in my community. I find that to be a much bigger deal than this -- and I'm near-certain that this school district is doing something along those lines if they are also pushing this issue through.
posted by n9 at 8:06 AM on April 2, 2002


Besides, the so-so-sure-ness of both the Creationists and the Darwin-Dawkinites is so offputting. Either view establishes a world that is quite probably too complex for the human intellect to grasp.

If we did "come from monkeys" there is no way to verify evolution as a Law Cast in Iron as we are admittedly limited in our ability to understand and perceive the universe (see Godel, Liebnitz, Hume, Deleuze.)

And, obviously, if there was a creator, prime-mover involved than there is a massive aspect of reality that we do not see and it is totally assumptive to presume that any notion of 'creation' is correct -- even one codified in a religious text (see Berkeley.) Assumptive to the point that it might be immoral -- in Catholicism it is morally questionable to try to codify the nature of the Holy Trinity.

So there is in mystery in both belief structures that to my mind precludes any ability for a believer to say "I am right, this is what happened, this is where we came from."
posted by n9 at 8:13 AM on April 2, 2002


This discussion got me to thinking about an old physical geography book I inherited from my great-grandmother. The book is dated 1889, Exclesior Academy (in Minnesota). The first chapter opens with a woodcut of mountains, streams and deer, along with elaborate lettering that reads: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Though the book "endeavors to discover the causes and results" of "all the animate and inanimate objects that are found on the surface [of the earth]," that single quotation from the Bible is the only mention of creationism. The rest of the text is scientific (with the exception, perhaps, of this gem: "The earth rests on nothing.").

My great-grandmother was a deeply religious woman. She also had a passion for knowledge. I find it interesting that the only two books of hers that I have are the geography book and a journal with scientific drawings in among the entries. What I glean from those pages, filled with her elegant script, is that she expected an education when she went to school. For religion, she had church and home.

Is the teaching of creationism another example of schools overextending their reach? If schools teach Christian creationism, will they also be required to teach the creation stories of other religions and cultures? If so, when does cultural/religious sensitivity become a bulky stumbling block to education?
posted by gutenberg at 8:21 AM on April 2, 2002


n9:

*Sigh*. We didn't "come from monkeys". Modern primates have a common ancestor, from which humans, chimps, bonobos, and gorillas have evolved. Chimps are every bit as much a "modern" species as homo sapiens.
posted by mrmanley at 8:22 AM on April 2, 2002


Yes this is troubling. But is it troubling enough to go vote in those crappy little elections with less than 3 % voter turnout? Those are the election which decide school boards. The entire congregation of the local right-wing church voted, did you?

pass the bananas.
posted by joemaller at 8:25 AM on April 2, 2002


Humans have this need to feel that they are special on this planet. They think they are the one species that has rule and dominion over all. There is no use in being connected to Nature or the planet because we don't need it. We MUST be divinly inspired.

What a bunch of crock. Do you have any more bannanas gutenberg?
posted by MaddCutty at 8:30 AM on April 2, 2002


N9:
So there is in mystery in both belief structures that to my mind precludes any ability for a believer to say "I am right, this is what happened, this is where we came from."

That is precisely what I was saying about scientific theories! Every last one of them, from gravity, to boiling points, to evolution, they are ALL a best fit for current data. Once a scientist takes something as irrefutable dogmatic fact, they have ceased to practice science.

The "so-so right" reaction you are seeing (and a see it too), is an unfortunate reaction to the fruitless effort of trying to debate religion with reason.
posted by malphigian at 8:30 AM on April 2, 2002


If thinking we came from monkeys is upsetting than maybe thinking we came from sponges is more acceptable.
posted by onhazier at 8:31 AM on April 2, 2002


Umm... isn't this the kind of thing private, parochial schools are for? I have a child in a Cobb County public school right now, and he comes home every now and then with a question about God because the teacher brought it up. It's beginning to get disturbing.

The insert in the book explaining that evolution is only a theory doesn't really bother me, as long as the teacher doesn't make a lesson plan out of it. Anything beyond that I consider religious pandering.

And, spilon, don't even get me started on the Cobb transit system. ** shudder **
posted by goto11 at 8:32 AM on April 2, 2002


first, let me state again that the actions of my fellow state citizens in no way reflect the views and attitudes of the entire populace. for years, cobb county has been a bastion of philosophical exception based on art, sexual orientation and race, and i see no end to its reign as atlanta's annoying neighbor to the north.

but there is an answer-begging question at the heart of this matter, and it deserves consideration. how do you effectively and even-handedly present the theoretical origin of our species to our children? furthermore, can it be done without eliminating the boundaries between scientific study and philosophical consideration?

to me, that is the only way it can be done. you present the theory of evolution, its history and many examples of its continuing progress in modern biology. but then you also present the theological premise for creationism, and not only from a christian standpoint. you cover all of the creation myths, because those myths not only provide a basis for belief, but also a portrait of mankind struggling to come to terms with how and why we are here. and then you address the controversy at the heart of it all, the raging debate from scopes to now.

but no, instead we get bogged down in a rhetoric of this is right, that is wrong. or is a holistic approach just too much to attempt?
posted by grabbingsand at 8:42 AM on April 2, 2002


It's weird that people still believe stuff like this, but I'm not sure it's all that dangerous. Anyone truly interested in science will see that "god did it" is not an explanation -if creationists were really interested in science they would be working to understand HOW god did it, what god is made of, how he interacts with the rest of the world, etc etc. But that isn't the point: people who want to have been made by god will believe they were, will simply "know" they were. People interested in science, curious about how things work etc, will look into it further.

I mean, if you took a class that explained how a television set worked, and then at the end, the teacher said, "on the other hand, some people think it's just magic", would that make you question what you'd learned? It's only a useful answer to people who are seriously upset by cathode ray tubes. And if that's the case - well, not everyone has to be a television repairman.

I was wondering though, do creationists accept geologic evolution? Changing rock formations, older and younger mountain ranges, etc? I guess not, as that would introduce ice ages and too long a time span and stuff, but I can't imagine how they could be denied either... anyone?
posted by mdn at 8:46 AM on April 2, 2002


If we did "come from monkeys" there is no way to verify evolution as a Law Cast in Iron as we are admittedly limited in our ability to understand and perceive the universe (see Godel, Liebnitz, Hume, Deleuze.)

First of all, the nice thing about science is that it has no laws cast in iron, at all. It's all based on amassing and organising empirical evidence. Therefore everything in science is always to the best of our knowledge... it's just that in some cases the "best of our knowledge" is pretty sound... If we are so limited in the ability to understand and perceive the universe then flat earthers have a just as valid viewpoint as the rest, because really, empirically speaking, evolution is a theory nearly as well established as the theory of a spherical earth...
Neither Godel, nor Leibnitz can be really seen as supporting the kind of hard relativism you seem to be advocating...In fact only Deleuze, from those you mentioned, can reasonably be seen as offering support for such a position, and I'm willing to bet that he wouldn't be thrilled at the idea of religion setting up school curricula.
posted by talos at 8:46 AM on April 2, 2002


grabbingsand:

The reason that "equal time" provisions are never adopted is because a) they are unconstitutional (they go against the separation of church and state), and b) there are no scientifically credible Creationist theories. "Equal time" arguments are just Christian fudamentalism dressed up in different clothes.

Seriously: do you think the good Christian folk of Cobb County would allow the Hindu philosophy or Taoism to be taught as a valid theory of creation? How about Native American legends, Nordic skaals, or African animist mythologies? All are interesting and of significant value, if for no other reason than historical interest; but they are not science.
posted by mrmanley at 8:47 AM on April 2, 2002


Umm... isn't this the kind of thing private, parochial schools are for?
Ironicaly enough, I went to a private Catholic high school (being in Cobb County, you may have heard of it- St. Pius). There, we were taught about evolution/darwinism in biology class and a fuss was never raised about it and fit in perfectly fine w/ a traditional view of the Bible. I really have no problem with teaching that evolution is a scientific theory- leave it up to the kids to decide for themselves instead of indoctrinating them as so many berate here (though I still think evolution should be taught alongside creationism). Also, if i'm not mistaken, didn't Kansas (or something with a 'K' in it) not allow the testing of Evolution a few years back?
posted by jmd82 at 8:48 AM on April 2, 2002


BTW: Here's a PBS series on evolution due to air in May and June. The website has tons of info, including a panel discussion about religion and evolution (and attempts to reconcile the two).

I gotta go get some more bananas...
posted by gutenberg at 8:51 AM on April 2, 2002


This Cobb Country tribe is entitled to their beliefs, just alike any Native American tribe, Amazon basin tribe, or Tibetian Buddhists. Creationism is their indiginous culture. Why not respect it?
posted by Faze at 8:57 AM on April 2, 2002


We didn't "come from monkeys". Modern primates have a common ancestor, from which humans, chimps, bonobos, and gorillas have evolved.

This seems to me a technicality. If we found one today, the common ancestor would surely seem like a monkey to us, and scientists would so classify it. It's just an extinct monkey.
posted by kindall at 8:58 AM on April 2, 2002


mrmanley: The reason that "equal time" provisions are never adopted is because a) they are unconstitutional

How so? Several state supreme courts, and the SCOTUS, have ruled that "establishment of a religion" can be avoided by having multiple courses of opportunity. If an equal time provision is made which does accurately address Hindu philosophy or Taoism, as well as Judaic myth and Nordic skalls, there is no constitutional problem.

The constitution does not have a "seperation of church and state" -- it has "rules of engagement between the state and the church. That's an important distinction.

Not that it'd matter. As a resident of Cobb County, I can assure you that the same people attending these meetings would be quite upset opening their football games with a Muslim Call to Prayer (hey! It's a prayer! What's the problem, people?) or having an invocation before the <insert extra-curricular civic group name here> meeting that required everone to put their right leg behind their head and reach their energy center.

I want a new bumpersticker for my car, but I haven't found anyone to print it. It will read:

God Said It. I believe it. Can you read it? in Greek. We'll see where that goes....
posted by dwivian at 9:00 AM on April 2, 2002


mrmanley: anima, the tao, skaals.... yes, these are exactly the things to which i am referring. this is not a matter of equal time, but rather a matter of presenting an entire package across connected subjects of science, history and philosophy. you present evolution as a viable theory, complete with existant proof, but keeping in mind that it is a theory. this does not dismiss it as a fairytale, but iron-clad or not, a theory remains a theory and is open to debate. at this point, you depart from science and enter history and philosophy.

without presenting a whole picture, our kids are short-changed in this area. we need to somehow teach that evolution is the predominant and only viable theory, and thus it is a source of controversy because of reasons based in religion and the history of human thought. otherwise, the kids get shafted and condoned into a narrow space of creationism vs. evolution.

much like we are here.
posted by grabbingsand at 9:03 AM on April 2, 2002


kindall:

Wrong.

The term "monkey" has a specific meaning to zoologists, and is generally applied to both Old World monkeys and New World monkeys to denote certain characteristics: they are more gracile than apes, have a smaller brain capacity, etc. Check here for a quick review.

The common ancestor between, say, New World monkeys and humans was probably something pre-monkey, more like a lemur than any modern monkey. As I said before, monkeys are just as "modern" as human beings are; we cannot have evolved from them because they didn't exist yet when "our" branch forked off the evolutionary tree.
posted by mrmanley at 9:04 AM on April 2, 2002


"come from monkeys"...

...

...ahaaaa, now I get it.

More bananas please.
posted by bittennails at 9:06 AM on April 2, 2002


grabbingsand:

You are advocating a humanities course, not a science course. Something along the lines of "World Religions" or some such, and many colleges already offer such courses.
posted by mrmanley at 9:07 AM on April 2, 2002


Not to tread into the controversy, but if I had a time machine, and could dial it 500 years into the future, i wonder what the science classes would be teaching about origins.

I really wouldn't bet on it being exactly what is taught today....

if you get my drift.
posted by bunnyfire at 9:14 AM on April 2, 2002


bunnyfire:

There is no doubt that in 500 years' time, there will be some radical changes in what and how we know things. But consider Newton's explanation of physical laws: Einstein refined them and made them far more accurate, but he did not overturn them.

Darwin's theory of evolution is abundantly well-supported, and has been buttressed by 150 years' worth of scientific inquiry. To be sure, there are still significant questions as to how exactly the process occurs; that it occurs is not even a question anymore.

Theodosius Dobzhansky said it best: "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution."
posted by mrmanley at 9:20 AM on April 2, 2002


Board members said a note will be inserted in each book to caution students that evolution is only a theory.

Last time I looked, it was already called the Theory of Evolution.

Creationism cannot be taught in public classrooms, he said. "It's against the law."

So what's the problem?

...she had collected petitions signed by 2,300 people who are dissatisfied with science texts that espouse "Darwinism, unchallenged."

Challenging widely-held beliefs is a worthy cause. Too bad it has to come from people whose widely-held beliefs have already been disproved as mythology. They just won't give up.
posted by swift at 9:23 AM on April 2, 2002


Isn't Bob Barr the representative from Cobb County? That would explain so much...
posted by solistrato at 9:39 AM on April 2, 2002


i wonder what the science classes would be teaching about origins. I really wouldn't bet on it being exactly what is taught today....

Science will still be using evolution theory because it correctly predicts the outcome of experiments designed to test it. Repeating those experiments 150 yrs from now will give the same results. For example: Why do you suppose penicillin is a nearly worthless antibiotic today but was an indispensable one 30yrs ago?
There is an answer to this question and if you understand it and believe it to be true, then you are a believer in evolution. If you think humans are exempt from this process then you are pretty seriously deficient in basic critical thinking skills. I think the issue of denying evolution in schools centers on the need to suppress critical thinking skills in children in order to shovel creation down their throats. Doing this poisons all of their thought processes and sends them forth into the world suspecting the difficult-to-explain things in life are just "the works of god" and merit no further critical analysis. A person operating at this level may be naturally intelligent but will be functionally retarded.
posted by plaino at 9:47 AM on April 2, 2002 [1 favorite]


Not to tread into the controversy, but if I had a time machine, and could dial it 500 years into the future, i wonder what the science classes would be teaching about origins.

I really wouldn't bet on it being exactly what is taught today....

if you get my drift.


So the alternative is to teach a theory of origins that was already in trouble 2,000 years ago? If you go back in time you run into the same problems. It is not as if this debate sprang full-fledged from the forehead of Darwin during the last century. The wonderful thing about a casual grounding in philosophy is that you realize that there are very few arguments new under the sun.

But fortunately, while the debate in some ways is similar it always seems to move forward. We no longer argue about the heliocentric solar system (a theory that is supported by fewer independent lines of evidence than evolution) and I suspect that 500 years from now the debate will center on whether black holes really have no hair.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:53 AM on April 2, 2002


My only point, dear ones, is perhaps the scientific ground you stand on is not as rock solid as you like to think it is.

*runs from thread merrily, stirring stick in hand*
posted by bunnyfire at 10:05 AM on April 2, 2002


mrmanley:

You are advocating a humanities course, not a science course. Something along the lines of "World Religions" or some such, and many colleges already offer such courses.

yes. many colleges do. but does that mean we deliver the theoretical science to high schoolers and make them wait until college to understand why people are picketing their teacher?
posted by grabbingsand at 10:12 AM on April 2, 2002


"It is unconstitutional to teach only evolution," she said. "The school board must allow the teaching of both theories of origin."

there's only two? I thought there was one theory, and one dodgy parable that was part of an elaborate system to quell a beguiled people's fear of dying? if there are any other proper theories, I'd love to hear them (and see a little science to back it up, too).

but to answer mrmanely's question, "why do school boards and other government entities still lend an ear to this kind of right-wing extremist crap?"

I think ANY version of reality is bizarre if you think about it long enough. No reason to pick on mine, dear. (i'm right, but that's beside the point.)
posted by mcsweetie at 10:13 AM on April 2, 2002


uh, whoever said that Godel and WG Leibniz do not support hard relativism might need to do some digging. Godel's Incompleteness Theorem contends that there can be no codification of a complete and consistent formal system and is the most radically relativistic thing that I can think of. Liebnitz's Monadal Ontology expresses an abstract, consciousness-based substrate as the basis of existence rather than a physical/atomic basis. These, plus Deleuze's (actually less relative ontology, IMO) are good examples of thinking pointing toward a more open-ended expansive POV on reality and the world. The point is that no one is *right* about anything, and getting all huffy about how Evolution ought to be taught exclusively because it is *right* and a *fact* rubs me as so much groupthink.



BTW, don't confuse me with a creationist or an evolutionist. I personally believe that there is a lot more to the universe than what we have found so far and that closing minds and building mental fences is not the way to new knowledge fundementalist religion or science's radical faith in empiricism are both way too dogmatic for me to buy into. If I had to say what I believed I'd have to point to David Bohm's _Wholeness and the Implicate Order_ and Deleuze&Guitarri's _A Thousand Plateaus_ as being "right in there."
posted by n9 at 10:17 AM on April 2, 2002


grabbingsand:

I fat-fingered my post to you; I meant to say many colleges and high schools. Even in Cheyenne, Wyoming (where I grew up) there was such a course in High School. While I had my gripes with it (it centered far too much on the Christian faith, and too much on the Protestant branch of that faith), it was still valuable.

I have no problem with presenting "human cultural diversity" studies as part of secondary (and even primary) curricula. It's a shame that more schools don't offer such programs. But we shouldn't try to wedge this stuff into science classes. Creationism isn't science, and no amount of wanting or wishing will make it so.
posted by mrmanley at 10:21 AM on April 2, 2002


My only point, dear ones, is perhaps the scientific ground you stand on is not as rock solid as you like to think it is.

*runs from thread merrily, stirring stick in hand*


Certainly, but the wonderful thing about science is that it is permissable to say, "I don't know." It is permissable to say, "this is the best theory we can do with our current understanding." It is permissable to say, "you can doubt, you can challenge, you can work to build better theories."

That is where the real debate is. It is not about whether evolution should be taught as a theory or whether it should not be taught. At its base the issue is about blind faith vs. inquiry.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:22 AM on April 2, 2002


No, bunnyfire, science is not rock solid- it's the best physical explanation for what makes up the world, but what is solid is that public schools teach secular material so that children of all faiths (or lack thereof) are not forced into being indoctrinated into a faith not their own. That goes for little heathen children like mine not being taught fundamentals of Christian faith, as well as Christian children not being taught the fundamentals of say, the Buddhist dharma path. Separation of church and state protects both the church and the state.
posted by headspace at 10:25 AM on April 2, 2002


what spilon said. and what sjc said!

if Cobb County would just secede from the union, so many problems would be solved.
posted by Sapphireblue at 10:27 AM on April 2, 2002


perhaps the scientific ground you stand on is not as rock solid as you like to think it is

Scientific theories change as the available data warrants. The process is "rock solid", but the theories never presume to be iron clad, they're just the best fit using the available information. Science constantly tries to get as close to "absolute truth" as possible, based on evidence. Creationism may well have been the best explanation at one time, but the overwhelming amount of current data which implies that this is not the way history happened is likely why most religions have chosen to officially state that acceptance of evolution has little to do with faith in God (in the same way that many Christian religions no longer view most of the Bible as an historical record of actual events).
posted by biscotti at 10:34 AM on April 2, 2002


n9:

The point is that no one is *right* about anything...

That is nothing but relativistic horseshit of the purest ray serene.

Tell you what: go into the middle of a busy intersection, and tell the oncoming truck that you don't believe in it. Then come back and tell me what the non-existant truck did.
posted by mrmanley at 10:35 AM on April 2, 2002


Bunnyfire,

Perhaps you should actually discuss what you believe, instead of posting these vague allusions to creationism. Saying that you believe someone's idea to be wrong is fine, but you need to back up your argument with logical reasoning, otherwise you'll come off as ignorant of the topic.

If you're a creationist, and you don't believe in the scientific explanation of evolution, then tell us why. Don't post some insipid one line quip about how "science isn't so rock-solid" or whatever. That adds nothing to the discussion, and just makes you seem like flamebait.

-SJ
posted by SweetJesus at 10:43 AM on April 2, 2002


n9... leaving Leibnitz out for the moment let's focus on Godel (damn umlauts where are they?):
Godel's Incompleteness Theorem contends that there can be no codification of a complete and consistent formal system and is the most radically relativistic thing that I can think of. A complete formal system is not what we are talking about here... To begin with Godel did not show that no proposition can be deemed true or false within a formal system, which would be consistent with a hard relativist position, just that there exist proper propositions that cannot be proven true or false within the system. Of course if one is willing to use fuzzy logic then everything turns out consistent and nice- you are just left with truth values that are not just "true" (1) and "false"(0) but can take values from 0 to 1.
Secondly I don't think anyone claims that physical reality is a formal system in the mathematical sense- physical science is based both on mathematical formalism and methodology and empirical observations which make it immune (as far as we can tell) to Godel's incompleteness argument.
Thirdly this isn't even physics we're talking about, it's biology which is based on simple observations- no math involved.
I'd get into Bohm's Quantum mechanics (firmly realist in its interpretation of the theory) and how Implicate order is (among other things) really a diatribe against the subjectivist Copenhagen interpretation of QM, but since I've overused my soapbox, I'll just point out that Bohm was a Physicist all his life and really I doubt if one can be a practicing (and succesful) scientist while being a strong relativist.
posted by talos at 10:54 AM on April 2, 2002


I think these pushes to get creationism taught in school generally come from people with bleak lives who feel that school itself is just an obstacle to starting work at the local factory. And all these debates seem to presume that what teachers have to say to students about the meaning of life, is something that the students are eager to hear.

My first biology class, which was I guess when I was about 12 or 13, was to me, like all my other classes, an annoying obstacle to reading science fiction, playing Atari, and masturbating. I felt the same way about my religious education, which was separate from school, but was still another tedious academic exercise.

I'm not saying I didn't absorb anything that was taught to me in either case. But to me, and I don't think this was exactly a unique experience, most of the information I was given in school was important only in the sense that I had to memorize it until the next test. The stuff that was interesting, I read more about on my own.

I went to school with quite a diverse group of people, including some very religious Christians. They didn't balk when our biology textbook refered to evolution as "the cornerstone to understanding the operation of all life" or some such thing. That's because, IMO, these zealots, and their parents for that matter, lived, like me, in a world that did not revolve around convincing others, and themselves, that their faith was valid. Those kids, who were raised with the understanding that Jesus is the son of God, and had access to Divine Wisdom, were also raised with the idea that Not Everything Your Teacher Tells You Is Fucking Gospel.
posted by bingo at 11:16 AM on April 2, 2002


Well, I'm not trying to be flame bait. I am simply debating one teeny tiny point without being dragged into the Totallity of It All. (SIGH).

I guess what I am personally tired of (and what some of the other posters have already addressed) is evolution being presented as the Gospel Truth while Creationism is being dismissed totally out of hand.

Without even bringing religious faith into it at all, I would like to see a little humility in the scientific community. Some of the things I have read on the topic of evolution I personally find hard to swallow. I would find them hard to swallow even if I were not a creationist.

On the other hand, some of my fellow Christians have not exactly made me proud either, if I can say it. My husband refused to let me bring creationist literature into the house when I was homeschooling because so much of it was so poorly written. Bear in mind he is also a creationist, but he has a brain and uses it, expecting the rest of us in the family to do likewise. I believe God created us, frankly I wasn't there when he did it. I don't believe He created mankind as a result of evolution. I do believe in microevolution , not macroevolution. I believe in a literal Adam and Eve. As far as the rest of it, not worth arguing over how He did it . He has the power to do it-and the power to undo it, if He wants.

And I believe in the sovereign right of parents to control the indoctrination of their offspring. That sword swings a lot of directions...raising children is a heavy responsibility.
But I can tell you that when your kids believe that they are created and have a destiny, it definitely affects how they see themselves- and it is reflected in their behavior. Go and ponder that under the fig tree for awhile. (I have three teenagers, so I have some empirical evidence for that statement.)
posted by bunnyfire at 11:33 AM on April 2, 2002


mrmanley --

The fact that you are ignorant to the issues of the history and philosophy of science is your issue, not mine. You talk just like an Objectivist I once knew... you're not John Ophler by any chance, are you?

No matter what you know there are a trillion things you don't. Your statement re: the truck is actually the same old Positivist bullshit in the purest form. No one would argue that you would be hit by a truck on a street, but that doesn't establish the validity of anyone's theories as to the origin of life, the universe and everything. Pushing a scientific/matierialist ideology with your kind of talk as a basis is not far off from what this school board is doing... it is just dogmatic bullying.

talos --

No, what Godel asserted is that the complete and consistent formal system itself cannot exist. And that is what I am saying: Science has no monopoly on the truth. Empirical science is totally at the mercy of the accuracy of our senses. I argue that our senses are limited and it is foolish to assume that we get the whole picture. Our highly codified ideology resembles a wannabe complete formal system in that it allows conversations like the one we are having with various propositions being evaluated and truth conditions tested. You are correct that the Incompleteness Theorem does not disallow truths inside of a formal system -- it simply states that no codified system is complete. Here we are arguing the validity of a theory of our origin within our system of discourse and I call foul because some of us (not all) are dogmatically asserting the truth of evolution to the exclusion of other theories and I say "this is an awful lot like calling our system of discourse complete, which would be wrong." That is why I mentioned Godel. And if you cannot establish the truth condition of the system itself (i.e. Mathematics is incomplete as a formal system) you cannot assert the absolute truth of any truth established within the system. And that *is* a massively relativistic concept in that no absolute truth conditions can be evaluated.

Biology is chemistry which is physics which is mostly math, which is a formal system that is incomplete.

Bohm's concepts are realist, but they postulate a much more complex reality than any currently held notion (except maybe some Easter faiths.) His concept of the Implicate makes information a principle part of physics, he even speculated that it might be the ultimate substrate. Bohm was also much more than a physicist and if you doubt how relativistic his ideas were you oughtta read his books. BTW: the Copenhagen was not subjective, really. That was the problem... Bohr said that the indeterminacy _was_ the reality in that there wasn't any deeper, hidden structure. That is concrete compared to Bohm's retort: The notion of hidden variables. Bohm called bullshit on Bohr's limiting the science by planting a flag and calling the Copenhagen the end all, just like Dawkins is doing to those interested in Punctuated Equilibrium and Morphogenisis right now. Bohm differentiated between the limits of what we know and the limits of the universe and Bohr et al had him thrown out of the country for it, more or less.

So if physics is much more complex than our currently held notions, so is Chemistry and Biology. We just don't know enough to start closing our minds to radical breakthroughs in the sciences.

If you are really against teaching creationism because it is an antiquated dogma, make sure there is some education going on regarding the dogmatic nature of modern science as well so that maybe some of our kids grow up make their own breakthroughs.
posted by n9 at 11:40 AM on April 2, 2002


bunnyfire:

I believe God created us, frankly I wasn't there when he did it.

You weren't there when your parents made you (by definition!). Yet there is a definite biological proof that your parents "made" you -- it's in your DNA. I can prove, scientifically and without recourse to a Prime Mover, that you are the product of your parents union. Using the same scientific process, I can prove that everyone who is now alive is related to a single common ancestor (called "mitochondrial Eve").


I do believe in microevolution , not macroevolution.

That's a false separation. Micro- and Macro-evolution are the same thing, just on different timescales. If you believe in one, then by definition you believe in the other.

And I believe in the sovereign right of parents to control the indoctrination of their offspring.

Almost everyone else -- including the government, civil rights groups, and the UN -- disagrees with you. Some Christian Scientists believe that their children should die rather than undergo medical treatment for common illnesses; it's pretty clear to most civilized people that this constitutes child abuse and should not be allowed. How then can we allow parents to mentally abuse their children by inculcating them in a a worldview that is patently, provably, and demonstrably false?

You do your children no favors by lying to them about the physical world and their own places in it. You only make it more difficult for them, as adults, to make their way in a world that will depend on their knowledge of these very subjects.
posted by mrmanley at 11:52 AM on April 2, 2002 [1 favorite]


when your kids believe that they are created and have a destiny, it definitely affects how they see themselves- and it is reflected in their behavior.

Well, my parents "created" me, not god or whoever, and the only reflection in the behaviour of kids who believe in divine creation is the inability to look at the scientific world as real. This undermines all aspects of science for kids, if evolution is a lie, then how can they believe any other scientific "facts."

I have never met your kids, so cannot comment on the empirical evidence you hint at, but if they discount certain aspects of scientific theory, what are they feelings about other aspects of science, gravity for example?
posted by bittennails at 11:53 AM on April 2, 2002


The argument is better reflected in the light bunnyfire stated:

"parents should have the right to control the indoctrination of their offspring".

As such, if they want creationism to be taught, they can go to a privately funded school that teaches it.

As it is, public school is funded through public funds, it should correspond to separation of church and state. Simply because parents in a community want their children to learn creationism, they should be able to impose their views on others, no matter how in the minority the others may be. If they are so in the majority, they should petition to change the rules so that they don't fund the schools they aren't using, since the are instead sending their children to private school.

I mean, the church/state separartion is pretty cut and dry. Want to teach outside of the rules, pay for it yourself.
posted by rich at 11:53 AM on April 2, 2002


I'm late to the party, as usual.

why do school boards and other government entities still lend an ear to this kind of right-wing extremist crap? - mrmanley

Because it's a free country. Because you're free have your children in a different school. If there are no other schools, shame on you for not moving, or researching the area before you moved into it. Because you're free to look the other way while other people live differently than yourself. Because homogeneity dulls the spirit, breeds boredom and doesn't allow for change. Because, ultimately, Creationists might be right (not that I believe that, of course).

Pass me a banana, please.
posted by ashbury at 11:57 AM on April 2, 2002


n9:

you're not John Ophler by any chance, are you?

Nope. Monty Manley is my name.

No one would argue that you would be hit by a truck on a street, but that doesn't establish the validity of anyone's theories as to the origin of life, the universe and everything.

No, but it does establish that reality has objective avatars. A truck has a physical reality; if it hits you, you feel it, regardless of your metaphysical views re the existence of trucks.

You, like other relativists, want to have everything by negating everything. Nothing is right or wrong, nothing is true or false, it's just what you feel. It's nothing but a load of New Age crap, which is itself just repackaged mystical Old World crap. At least the religionists, whatever their failings, have a point of view -- the relativists can't even come up with that!

Evolutionary theory is as rigorous and empirical a science as physics or mathematics. It is testable and falsifiable, and has withstood the slings and arrows of decades of people trying to pull it down. By any reasonable benchmark, it is true. To deny that is either religious delusion or pure contrariness.

I do not argue for a doctrinaire adherence to "classical Darwinism" (if there is such a thing), but to deny that evolution took place at all is just madness.
posted by mrmanley at 12:01 PM on April 2, 2002


Bunnyfire,

You may as well send your kids out for a lobotomy. You are screwing with their heads in a way they won't be able to undo later when they are free to think for themselves. If you are afraid of evolution don't teach it to them (they'll eventually run across it somewhere else) but don't fuck their heads with lies, either. Jeez I feel sorry for your kids.
posted by plaino at 12:02 PM on April 2, 2002 [1 favorite]


plaino, you have no right to talk to bunnyfire that way. Cool it.
posted by ashbury at 12:08 PM on April 2, 2002


Well, I'm not trying to be flame bait. I am simply debating one teeny tiny point without being dragged into the Totallity of It All. (SIGH).

if you weren't trying to be flamebait, then what was this line all about:

*runs from thread merrily, stirring stick in hand*

and if your beliefs are so much more sound than science, why be reluctant to defend them?
posted by mcsweetie at 12:10 PM on April 2, 2002


I do have the right. Read the constitution. If more people did maybe fewer people would be out there fucking up their kids.
posted by plaino at 12:12 PM on April 2, 2002 [1 favorite]


Well, my son is hoping to break the law of gravity in an Air Force Jet after graduating from the Air Force Academy....he's a high school junior, and his goal is to be accepted in said academy. Right now he's tracking for it.
Splendid grades, splendid discipline, splendid character, etc. He got taught evolution, but thinks it's a crock. So far managed to make A's in honors biology and honors chemistry, . I think he's made a total of one b so far his whole high school career, and that in an English course. All the rest A's. The teachers all think he walks on water.

I have two girls too, but that's probably enough bragging. I doubt Matt wants anybody puking on the website.
posted by bunnyfire at 12:14 PM on April 2, 2002


Sure you have the right. You also have the right to sound like a jack-ass. Don't stop now.
posted by ashbury at 12:14 PM on April 2, 2002


You ignored my point, bunnyfire, how do they reconcile to accepting science in some instances, and rejecting it in other instances? Or do they?
posted by bittennails at 12:21 PM on April 2, 2002


Agreed, plaino. It isn't your place to talk about anyone's kids here. It just isn't cool. If you want to discuss the issue go ahead, but please lay off on that tip. I don't want you talking about my kid just because we disagree on something.
posted by adampsyche at 12:26 PM on April 2, 2002


bunnyfire:

He got taught evolution, but thinks it's a crock.

Because he thinks so, or because you told him to think so?

That's the problem right there. You are guaranteeing him problems later on, especially if he goes to a scholastically-challenging place like the Air Force academy. From what you say it's obvious that he's a smart kid, but his prospects will be badly dimmed if he shows up in college-level biology class proclaiming that dinosaurs and men were contemporary, or that the geological column was the result of Noah's world flood.

It might not hurt his grades -- if he can just throw back what the teacher dishes out -- but it will hurt his credibility, and that's a pearl without price, especially in the military.
posted by mrmanley at 12:26 PM on April 2, 2002


You are screwing with their heads in a way they won't be able to undo later when they are free to think for themselves.

That's absolutely ridiculous. As soon as a kid hits 10-12, they start thinking for themselves. It's called adolescence. It's called growing up. And "Screwing with their heads" is called parenting. Parents teach morals, ethics, life for as long as their kids listen. That's their JOB. You'd rather have teachers and the state parent the children? Cuz I sure wouldn't.

Read the constitution. If more people did maybe fewer people would be out there fucking up their kids.

Oh do shut up...you think that reading a piece of paper will make you a better parent?
posted by BlueTrain at 12:28 PM on April 2, 2002


mrmanley -- well gee-whiz, thanks for letting me know all about how I feel and what I think. Don't be such a twerp. You are obviously arguing with someone else so I'll leave you two to discuss how Christianity was the established truth for more than a few decades and you've decided it to be false while pushing for your version of reality to be right because it is generally accepted. My only complaint is that you are actually as dogmatic as bunnyfire and the creationists and you just don't see it. Try to think outside of your ideology once in a while. If the universe were as simple as your views of it there would be no science at all today.
posted by n9 at 12:28 PM on April 2, 2002


how do they reconcile to accepting science in some instances, and rejecting it in other instances?

the same as we all do with every piece of oncoming information. as human beings, we have the freewill and the wherewithal to filter information. just because a theory is scientific, it doesn't make it sacred and impervious to scrutiny. the very word allows it.

"\The"o*ry\, n.; pl. Theories. [F. th['e]orie, L. theoria] 1. A doctrine, or scheme of things, which terminates in speculation or contemplation, without a view to practice; hypothesis; speculation."
posted by grabbingsand at 12:35 PM on April 2, 2002


n9:

Let me guess: when you were asked for your religious affiliation in the census, you answered "Jedi". The Force is all around us! *Feel* the force!. What's your midichlorian count?
posted by mrmanley at 12:35 PM on April 2, 2002


I guess what I am personally tired of (and what some of the other posters have already addressed) is evolution being presented as the Gospel Truth while Creationism is being dismissed totally out of hand.

Naturally, it is not the case that creationism is dismissed out of hand. Young Earth creationism is dismissed because just about every branch of science with the possible exception of psychology and economics has discovered evidence that is incompatible with the young Earth creationism theory. Biology has one billion-year-old fossil record, geology has an even older record of rocks and minerals, astronomy is perhaps the biggest killer of young Earth creationism through the realization that the elements that create our planet required several generations of birth and death of stars. It is interesting that the primary focus is on debating evolution while practically all of our scientific knowledge to date points to the fact that the universe is both unimaginably big and unimaginably old.

Now then, granted we need to teach critical thinking in regards to science (although those who want to control the indoctrination of their offspring abhor critical thinking much more than evolution) but that is a separate issue. Evolution is better supported than the heliocentric solar system, so do we reject the heliocentric solar system?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:39 PM on April 2, 2002


That's absolutely ridiculous. As soon as a kid hits 10-12, they start thinking for themselves. It's called adolescence.

I'll have to disagree there. how many objective and self-actualized 12 year olds have you met?
posted by mcsweetie at 12:40 PM on April 2, 2002


grabbingsand:

Read this statement by Kenneth Miller in response to the disclaimer put into many biology textbooks. Pay particular attention to the section entitled, Therefore, any statement about life's origins should be considered as theory, not fact.

The scientific usage of theory differs from your definition. Gravitation is a theory; it is also a fact. Electromagnetism is a theory; it is also a fact. The what of evolution is a fact. The how is the theory that covers the fact.

posted by mrmanley at 12:41 PM on April 2, 2002


It might not hurt his grades -- if he can just throw back what the teacher dishes out -- but it will hurt his credibility, and that's a pearl without price, especially in the military.


Well, we live in a military town, and I can tell you that the real pearl of great price is the ability to regurgitate crap on command without letting it affect you.

A little off topic...my church has quite a few West Point graduates come thru...you would be surprised how many of our finest military know the Lord.
posted by bunnyfire at 12:41 PM on April 2, 2002


how many objective and self-actualized 12 year olds have you met?

heh, how many objective and self-actualized adults have you met? My point is that parents and their ideas don't determine a child's thinking. They strongly influence their thinking, but only an individual determines their thinking.
posted by BlueTrain at 12:44 PM on April 2, 2002


grabbingsand: the arguments for and against scientific theory, its scrutiny or sacredness have nothing to do with my question/query. This thread has ample arguments for both.

Again, to clarify, if you undermine the validity of some scientific theories to your kids, specially for basic assumed scientific facts like this (evolution), how can you avoid undermining other scientific facts (assumed by the sciences) to those kids.
posted by bittennails at 12:50 PM on April 2, 2002


Without even bringing religious faith into it at all, I would like to see a little humility in the scientific community. Some of the things I have read on the topic of evolution I personally find hard to swallow. I would find them hard to swallow even if I were not a creationist.

Such as what? This statement proves nothing, and merely serves as the shaky platform on which you pile the rest of your argument. You need evidence, evidence, evidence(!) to back up your claims. What about evolution is hard to swallow?

And how can you NOT bring religious faith into a discussion about creationism? Creationism, by definition, is the idea that all life on this planet was created by an all powerful sentient force. This is an idea that held by mostly by those of the Christian faith. Thus faith is an instrumental part of the discussion. I mean, when was the last time you heard an atheist talking how he or she believed in creationist theory. Probably never, because it would be a contradiction in terms.

I guess what I am personally tired of (and what some of the other posters have already addressed) is evolution being presented as the Gospel Truth while Creationism is being dismissed totally out of hand.

Well, this is because the theory of evolution, while perhaps not completely correct in every aspect, has over 150 years of hard scientific evidence to back it up. You can't say the same about creationism. Faith and science are two very different things. You can believe that god created you in his image, but aside from non-definitive sources such as the bible and other scriptures, you have no hard evidence to back this claim up.

Science, on the other hand, does have this evidence. Just think of all the things we know now, that we didn't know 100 years ago. We know about DNA, chromosomes, genetics, etc. We have a nearly complete map of the human genome, which shows us exactly how we fit together, and what does what. That's scientific evidence. It's very hard to dispute with religious theory.

Years ago people thought lightning was caused by an angry god. We now know that it's caused by the de-ionization of high and low pressure air molecules. We have evidence to back this claim up. I think what I'm trying to say is where is the empirical evidence (real, hard evidence) for creationism?

I do believe in microevolution , not macroevolution. I believe in a literal Adam and Eve. As far as the rest of it, not worth arguing over how He did it . He has the power to do it-and the power to undo it, if He wants.

How can you believe in one kind of evolution, but not another? That's like saying you believe in rain, but not snow. They're both types of precipitation, just like micro and macro are both types of evolution.

And of course it's worth arguing over how he(she, it... whatever) did it. If we didn't question the teachings that were passed down to us, there would be no progress. Have you never questioned any of the lessons that you've been taught, Bunnyfire, religious or otherwise? A good amount of dissent towards authority is healthy.

But I can tell you that when your kids believe that they are created and have a destiny, it definitely affects how they see themselves- and it is reflected in their behavior. Go and ponder that under the fig tree for awhile. (I have three teenagers, so I have some empirical evidence for that statement.)

Perhaps you would have some real empirical evidence if you taught your kids from both sides of the issue. How can they make an informed decision if you only present one side of the story? It's like doing a taste test with only one choice. Which sample do you think is going to taste the best? The worst?

It's ridiculous to think that you're doing your kids a service by imbuing them with your baseless dogma. And that's what it is Bunnyfire, it's dogma. They can't hide behind you or the bible forever, and when they reach the real world they will be confronted by people with differing opinions. If they lack the knowledge of these opposing viewpoints, then how can they be expected to make a cognitive point against them?

I'm speaking from experience here, Bunnyfire. I took three years of theology in high school and college, and I've been an atheist ever since.
posted by SweetJesus at 12:50 PM on April 2, 2002


mrmanley: Gravitation is a theory; it is also a fact.

Er, no it isn't. Gravitation is an attempt to explain a phenomenon of attraction between bodies. The theory of gravity is a descriptive that provides one such explaination. There is currently research in progress that is attempting to find exceptions in that theory. There are other explainations (such as, "The Earth Sucks") with lesser or greater credibility. Just because there is a concensus doesn't make it fact (for years we had concensus that the earth was the center of the solar system, with extensive mathematical modeling to support retrograde motion! Still didn't make it a fact).

If the attractive force can be eliminated, or reduced, or reversed, we'd have a major scientific breakthrough. Not only in propulsion, but in an understanding of gravity, what it is, and how it works. If it works consistently at all. Hard to say, on a local scale.

That some attractive force seems to exist is an observation that we collectively call a fact, because we haven't observed exceptions to it yet. So, to connect to the current topic --

Evolution is of such a large scale that it is difficult to call it a fact. The Theory of Evolution provides a descriptive to match observed conditions, also having their own theories. It is a comfortable fiction, because we do not now have a complete picture of reality. In time it may be enshrined, or overthrown. However..... Teaching it as a fact is to deny that it is a theory. Telling people that call it a theory that they are abusing their children is irresponsible and wrong (not that you did, but others have). It is always appropriate to question theories, and evidence behind them, because without such questions we have moved into religion.

Yes, strict belief that evolution is the way things happened is dogma, not fact, and is no different than religious dogma.

Exactly how important it is, in this world, to believe in evolution or creationism or "turtles, turtles, turtles, all the way down"? Not at all, in the long run. I don't intend to exist long enough, in this mode, to care about it. It's a philosophical argument, no matter how you twist it. The origins of man could have been just before I woke up this morning, and my memories, and your existance, could be some elaborate ruse by the Thetans to convince me of a past. I have no proof it isn't, but I'll do my best to continue on from here and make what I believe to be positive changes on reality. Even if the universe ceases to exist right after tea. Which, for, me, is right now.
posted by dwivian at 1:08 PM on April 2, 2002


As such, if they want creationism to be taught, they can go to a privately funded school that teaches it.
The irony of it all is most private schools teach evolution w/o a qualm from the parents (or kids)
If the attractive force can be eliminated, or reduced, or reversed
I always thought that was Dark Matter (the stuff Einstien came up w/ but thought was a crock). But, even if dark matter opposes gravity, and combine the two values (kind of like solving an equation), you can still have gravity hold true in every situation. If you can find me an example where the laws of gravity using the formulas we have dosn't hold true, i'de be glad to know.
posted by jmd82 at 1:16 PM on April 2, 2002


dwivian:

Nonsense.

I can authoritatively refute the flat-earthers by a variety of methods, but the most singularly-compelling one is to simply show them a photo of the earth taken from space (clearly a sphere), and then tell these folks how they can measure the circumference of the earth themselves to verify that what they are looking at is correct.

The same scientific principles are at work in evolution, and there are so many different but complimentary lines of inquiry -- geology, genetics, chemistry, zoology, psychology, astronomy, cosmology, physics -- that confirm evolution that it is as much a fact as the roundness (actually, the ovoidness) of the earth.

You try to refute "dogma" by providing platitudes (you and n9 would get along great, I bet). You can't refute a fact by presenting a baseless assertion; that's what creationists have been trying to do for 150 years.

Science is not obligated to be "fair" or "nice". It is not a thing. It is a process. It requires both rigor and intellectual honesty on the part of the scientist, two traits that many people (apparently) lack entirely.
posted by mrmanley at 1:26 PM on April 2, 2002 [1 favorite]


Why are some of you so crazed about what other people choose to think about a scientific theory with little to no pratical relevence to how we live our lives? You guys are like the truth police or something.

I recently heard an evolutionary biologist on NPR arguing that symbiosis, not genetic mutation, is the key to understanding evolution. Which would be kind of cool, if you think about it. The organisms that get ahead are the organisms that learn to cooperate with each other. I'd vote for that to be taught in school. Think of all the pedegogical opportunities.
posted by boltman at 1:32 PM on April 2, 2002


Flat earth theory was defendable until the means existed to actually present concrete, complete evidence that the earth was round. By cirumnavigating the globe, the support was created, but it could not actually prove the earth was round, since it was more of an experiment of confirmation.

Viewing the earth from space, and using the technologies available today to actually map, inch for inch, the earth.. well, now that's complete evidence.

In the same way, evolution like many scientific theories, still lack that final 'slam dunk' that gives all the evidence to go from point A to point B. Until then, everyone and their mother can feel correct in what they believe - it's just that there exists more evidence for some opinons than others.

On a totally unlikely scenario, it is completely possible that God created Adam and Eve, and all the neo-humans like cromagnan, neaderthal, etc.. were just red herrings God created, mistakes, or what have you.

Now, sure, that's pretty unlikely, but no one here can actually hand me evidence to disprove that. Because Point A to Point B has not been filled.

Now, teaching children that evolution is wrong and creationism is right may be a dis-service to the child for many reasons, but as part of an overall moral education in the 'how to treat other people,' religious beliefs in themselves are pretty useful and good.

(and before you start - yes, zealots and crazy people, corrupt churches, child abusers and everything else come out of religous beliefs, but crazy people and murders come from sci-fi fans and athiests and anarchists, too)

I like the symbiosis idea, coupled with karma (of which I have been accumulating way too much of the bad kind lately). It's a cool concept along with mutation and species self-selection all rolled together for a more complete answer. (since good karma would give you good energy, which should make you more apt to be able to adapt in light of change, etc, etc..)

As for dogma. Dogma is dogma when you sling it around in an attempt to force epople to your views and shut out any other possibility. Stay open.
posted by rich at 1:46 PM on April 2, 2002


I just wanted to point something out...

dwivian almost said it - and said it about gravity - but just missed....gravity is a fact of life. You can't avoid it. It's there. If it's not a fact, I challenge anyone to float away.

Gravitational theory on the other hand...may or may not explain why. Same with evolution.

Evolution does occur. The theory of evolution attempts explain why the things that we have observed occur. Those occurances - ie., change over time, have taken place. We have seen it take place on a small scale. And we have observed what we believe to be the results of it on a larger scale.

Evolution is a fact. Whether or not evolutionary theory acurately describes the origins of mankind is another question.
posted by jaded at 1:52 PM on April 2, 2002


manley --



I defy you to assert any fact absolutely and definitively.



All assertions of out and out truths are at root assumptions. Day to day life requires us to roll with your assumptions, but that doesn't alter the reality. If I was in the same room with you I would go to task on the flat earth argument and I would win, simply because science does not produce truths, and is only marginally capable at establishing what is false. I wouldn't be able to prove the earth flat but I would be able to bring reasonable doubt against anything that you could put forward to prove that it is round. I'm glad to say I learned that in 7th grade science from Mr. Rhoads, a much more rigorous and honest person than you, and also a keen skeptic.



You must be a skeptic to be a scientist -- and you seem to have some kind of problem with skepticism. You must realize that science is a belief system, based on certain things taken on faith, such as trust that photographs do not lie, that our senses are complete, that there are no hidden structures, etc. Lots of assumptions.



Does it really make you feel "right" to mock those with different beliefs? Your bullying and strawmanning are poor excuses for actual dialog. You are making the most noise and nearly the least sense in this thread. "There is a lot more in heaven and earth..."
posted by n9 at 2:01 PM on April 2, 2002


rich:

Eratosthenes figured out that the earth was round long before anyone even thought of going into space (before they even know what space was). And yet the proof is as conclusive now as it was then. The roundness of the earth didn't become a fact after we were able to see it -- it's been round all along.

It's the same with evolution: it's been a fact all along. It's just that we're filling in our knowledge of evolution. We still are missing some of the details, but we've got the broad strokes down very well indeed.
posted by mrmanley at 2:01 PM on April 2, 2002


n9:

Here ya go: the number 2, added to itself, will equal the number 4. (Note that I refer to numbers, not numerals, so I don't rely on any particular notation.) This is absolutely, definitely true and factual. Now: provide me an example where it isn't true, and give a testable reason why not.
posted by mrmanley at 2:14 PM on April 2, 2002


Some confusion has arisen about the term "fact" A statement of fact is: "The sky is blue" Another statement of fact is also "The sky is red" Of course we all know the sky is blue so the first statement of fact is true and the second is false. The nature of "facts" is that they come with a true/false property that must be evaluated (you programmers out there should be able to appreciate this). A fact that is false is still a fact. To say something is "fact" is to say very little, really.
posted by plaino at 2:41 PM on April 2, 2002


A fact that is false is still a fact. To say something is "fact" is to say very little, really.

I hate, HATE dictionary definitions. They're rather annoying and take a discussion from possibly intelligent straight into semantics. That said:

Main Entry: fact
4 a : something that has actual existence b : an actual occurrence
5 : a piece of information presented as having objective reality
- in fact : in truth
courtesy Webster

Which begs me to ask the question, plaino, what the heck are you talking about?

posted by BlueTrain at 2:57 PM on April 2, 2002


Lets not turn this in to an argument about semantics, plaino. I think that the commonly used definition of a fact is a peice of information who's validility cannot be argued. You used the example "the sky is blue". If someone said the "sky is red", that not a fact -- that's an opinion.

Facts are universal truths, not subjective statements with a true/false properity attatched to them.
posted by SweetJesus at 3:00 PM on April 2, 2002


SweetJesus:

By all means and for the sanity of us all, please, yes, let's not turn this into a semantic argument. More than one philosopher has disappeared up his own asshole doing that.

When I say "fact", understand that I mean "scientific fact", rather than some Platonically-ideal fact that cannot have any real analog. Reality is messy, and Nature is endlessly subtle: if history has shown scientists anything, it is that we must always be very cautious when using the word "fact". That is why I use the word "fact" advisedly, and with full knowledge of what it means to scientists and philosophers of science.

Evolution is a scientific fact. Does this mean that it is immutable and unchangeable? Of course not. There are still many gaps and holes in evolutionary theory which need filling in, and there are even many conceptual difficulties yet to overcome. But none of this changes the overwhelming evidence that evolution happened (and is continuing to happen regardless of how we think or feel about it).
posted by mrmanley at 3:44 PM on April 2, 2002


m- You've established nothing except that you are ill informed regarding the history of science. It took Whitehead and Russel more than 150 pages of logical notation to establish that 1+1=2, and Godel's main motivation for penning the Incompleteness theorem was to prove thier assumptions wrong, which he did. If you were in charge of reality maybe you could get it all nailed down, but right now the only way you can contend that what you are talking about is True is to be ignorant, something that you seem to have quite a knack for.

You assume your view of reality is true -- and thus it is a fact beyond dispute that all your observations are spot on, bona-fide truth. This is because you are blind to anything outside your ideology. It's funny that you make reference to numeracy divorced from notation -- do you know that Einstein doubted the existence of such a thing? Why is this important? Because you are making a point of how our children should be educated without exposure to christian dogma but with exposure to your own dogma with no good reason. Your motivations and methodology for defending your views read just like a stereotypical evangelist's defense of their faith and insistence that it is the one true Truth.
posted by n9 at 3:45 PM on April 2, 2002


and another thing, mrmanley -- you've racked up 18 (~20%) of the posts on your own thread. bad manners.
posted by n9 at 3:51 PM on April 2, 2002


I stand by my usage (I work in a scientific field and it is a common usage there).

My point was to draw a distinction between "Darwinism" as fact and "Darwinism" as conjecture, or theory, or law, or supposition, or any number of other terms which encompass conceptual ideas rather than facts. Calling it "fact" implies that its "true/false" property can be assigned unequivocally and thus leads to the kind of endless arguing that this topic evokes. Evolution is an idea which has arisen from a need to understand a very large collection of facts.

Because it is an idea it is nebulous and dynamic and, itself, can evolve over time. In that sense, it eludes absolute evaluation as true or false and, instead, can only be evaluated in how it is applied to a specific situation.
posted by plaino at 3:55 PM on April 2, 2002


n9:

Since science, logic, and rhetoric seem to be beyond your capacity....[BRONX CHEER]THHHPBPBPBTT[/BRONX CHEER]!

And besides, n9 is right -- it's bad form to monopolize the thread. My apologies to all.
posted by mrmanley at 3:55 PM on April 2, 2002


Because you are making a point of how our children should be educated without exposure to christian dogma but with exposure to your own dogma with no good reason.

This is not so. It's not teaching 'christian dogma' or 'your own dogma' , it's how teaching the question, (where do we come from? or how did we get here?) should be taught in a public school.

Creationism the way you view it, adam/eve, or god , is a christian/catholic concept. As an non-christian/catholic and non-religious person why should I accept your teaching or rather version, be taught to my child, if he is a part of the public school system.

I enjoyed the way she says: "It is unconstitutional to teach only evolution," she said. "The school board must allow the teaching of both theories of origin."

thinking aloud: Are there any more (theories) in any other religions?
posted by bittennails at 4:07 PM on April 2, 2002


Since science, logic, and rhetoric seem to be beyond your capacity.

Well at least there's good company out here in crazy-crazy land.
posted by n9 at 4:23 PM on April 2, 2002


while we are at it....can any of you DISPROVE the existence of spirit?

we live in a material world but many cultures all over the world acknowlege a spiritual realm....unfortunately that is a realm that cannot be accessed by a laboratory AT PRESENT... what I am getting at is just because scientists at present lack the tools to analyse and experiment -or even access this realm -can you still logically say it does not exist? At the most all you could plead is ignorance.
posted by bunnyfire at 4:36 PM on April 2, 2002


Lets not turn this in to an argument about semantics, plaino
As far as i've seen in my studies of philosophy is it is lot of semantics. Case in point is the study of Free Will. Many of the philosopher's arguements came down to what they considered the definition of "freedom" Intetrestingly enough, only one i know of (Stace) actually made the argument for compatibalism using the every-day usage of a word method, yet most scholars don't agree w/ his argument in part for that very reason (after studying him, i must agree that his method does not work).
posted by jmd82 at 4:41 PM on April 2, 2002


bittennails - Creationism the way you view it, adam/eve, or god , is a christian/catholic concept. As an non-christian/catholic and non-religious person why should I accept your teaching or rather version, be taught to my child, if he is a part of the public school system.

Evolution is just as much a concept as creationism. (admittedly, just a wee bit more logical at the moment). As a christian/chatolic and religious person why should I accept your teaching or rather version, be taught to my child, if he is a part of the public school system?

The idea that atheists have a monopoly on truth just because they are not "blinded" by religion is crock. You'll have just as much luck disproving the existence of god as a religious fanatic will proving it.

Evolutionists that sneer at christians for creationism are just as intolerant as christians that sneer at evolutionists. It's all about belief.

You can't prove a negative.
posted by Apoch at 4:57 PM on April 2, 2002


Well thats my point, since evolution steers clear of the multiple religious overtones that can be argued endlessly, isn't it the best option to answer the questions like (where do we etc...earlier comment in this thread)

Public schools in the US are rarely if ever going to consist of followers of christianity/catholicism only.
posted by bittennails at 5:07 PM on April 2, 2002


You can't prove a negative.

You mean: "You can't prove all negatives" There are some that have been proven, ie. that an angle cannot be trisected exactly using only compass and straightedge. The proof os Fermat's last theorem is, at its heart, the proof of a negative.

The reason teaching scientific explanation of human origin is better than teaching creationism, is that creationism is exclusive. Its truth requires the exclusion of evidence to its contrary (which abounds) whereas a scientific explanation must account for evidence to its contrary. Thus it is necessarily inclusive and is why the evolution concept is expansive and dynamic and difficult to nail down in a simple description.
posted by plaino at 5:14 PM on April 2, 2002


You, like other relativists, want to have everything by negating everything. Nothing is right or wrong, nothing is true or false, it's just what you feel. It's nothing but a load of New Age crap, which is itself just repackaged mystical Old World crap. At least the religionists, whatever their failings, have a point of view -- the relativists can't even come up with that!

Hear, hear, Mr. Manley!

One of the bigger challenges facing our society right now is a lack of limits. Anything is allowable, because nothing is absolutely wrong: "it all depends on circumstance."

The ultimate destination for that line of thought is pretty damn cruel: it makes for limitless irresponsibility.

We're already a good way there. You can murder someone legally and consequence-free: just get right fuckin' ripped at the bar, and hop in your car. Plead that the bartender was responsible, that you weren't yourself, that you didn't have control. Voila! Murder, legitimized -- "it all depends on circumstance."
posted by five fresh fish at 5:35 PM on April 2, 2002


can any of you DISPROVE the existence of spirit?

No, thus the Intelligent Design arguement which concedes to evolution the observable (evidence of evolution) while maintaining its faith in the unobservable (the Designer) (leading to the usual arguement about the onus of proof, etc.) But IA is thus very different from Creationism, at least if I understand them correctly.

At the most all you could plead is ignorance.

I do so all the time.
posted by homunculus at 6:14 PM on April 2, 2002


my son is hoping to break the law of gravity in an Air Force Jet

Do the Air Force know about this? Does he intend to publish?
posted by normy at 7:01 PM on April 2, 2002


ican any of you DISPROVE the existence of spirit?

I will be happy to do so; however, you must first prove to me that there are no microscopic unicorns in my sock drawer. (Remember, they are shy and they run away from a microscope, so even if you're sure you looked at the entire drawer you can't be sure they weren't just hiding.)
posted by kindall at 8:10 PM on April 2, 2002


Here ya go: the number 2, added to itself, will equal the number 4. (Note that I refer to numbers, not numerals, so I don't rely on any particular notation.) This is absolutely, definitely true and factual. Now: provide me an example where it isn't true, and give a testable reason why not.

As "number" is used to indicate a quantity, it cannot be independent of the unit. So, here is a simple response:

2 (infinity) plus 2 (infinity) is not 4 (infinity), but merely (infinity). Transfinite math has rules that do not allow simple scalar manipulation.

I have selected a testable unit that fails your fact. I had to work at it, mind you, without getting into fuzzy positioning of absolute unit numbers, because that is beyond the scope of any reasonable argument (and, in fact, is quite annoying mathematically, with the use of sub-finite numbers).

I have several friendly mathematicians that love the arguments that state that math has any facts in it. One explained to me, in great detail, how such facts can fail by merely adjusting some of the rules of the closure of sets under addition, subtraction, etc. We cannot take those rules for granted, if changing them produces a coherent mathematical system (ie: non-euclidean geometry).
posted by dwivian at 8:47 PM on April 2, 2002


I don't want you talking about my kid just because we disagree on something.

In which case, you won't trot out your kid as evidence in support of your argument, will you? Unlike bf, who did exactly that and can get out of the kitchen any time she decides she doesn't like the heat.
posted by sennoma at 9:10 PM on April 2, 2002


The sky sometimes is blue. Sometimes it is black with white dots, at other times red, at other times grey. In urban areas it's often orange. It very much depends on the time of day and the meteorological conditions. It's a very interesting example of "self-evident fact" in that way. If you ask someone what colour the sky is, you would expect them to say "blue". If they say any of the other colours mentioned you might think them strange, and certainly a child that claimed that the sky was red would be repremanded by their teacher. Empirical data (observation of the sky) be damned. The Sky Is Blue.



I don't think any theory should be reified because it's "true", rather it has to be useful or interesting. Natural Selection is at least extremely useful. Creationism is neither of these things, certainly not useful.



Don't forget that it is a scientist's job and ambition to find better theories. No scientist would mind Natural Selection (or Newtonian physics or anything else) being disproven as long as they can get their name on the paper that publishes the better theory.
posted by Grangousier at 11:07 PM on April 2, 2002


bunnyfire: it's possible to believe in spirit and evolution at the same time. I certainly do.
posted by bingo at 12:04 AM on April 3, 2002


n9: Coming back late (different timezones you see): While I can't get into a full discussion on the philosophy of science (I will be fired) let me point out that Newtonian Gravity despite being conceptually (that is on the interpretational level) flawed has a very accurate phenomenology (it describes gravity quantitatively to an excellent degree of precision- within a certain parameter range). This means that Newtonian Gravity has a well defined domain of applicability that will not be annuled by any developments in theory and it will continue to give breathtakingly accurate predictions about most everyday applications of gravity. One can say similar things about Evolution- despite any possible future alterations in the theory the idea of deep time and of species begetting species is unlikely to change.
On the Godel issue: Godel stated that there cannot be any complete and consistent formal systems more complex than arithmetic. I still fail to see how physical science can be seen as a formal system since the (maybe limited but nevertheless practically insurmountable) evidence of our senses provides a potentially infinite set of external "axioms" which contradict the idea of a Godelian formal system (the proofs apply AFAIK to a formal system with a finite set of axioms). Anyway physics is not math and your statement that "Biology is chemistry which is physics which is mostly math, which is a formal system that is incomplete" is so reductionist that all but the most mechanistically minded scientists would disagree with it.
About Bohm: His concept of the Implicate makes information a principle part of physics, he even speculated that it might be the ultimate substrate. Information has been a principle part of physics since Bolzman (late 1800s). Interestingly the holographic principle in certain versions of quantum gravity posits that information is the ultimate substrate... As for the Copenhagen interpretation I disagree- it is the ultimate subjectivist interpretation in physics (almost solipsist) in that it posits that there is no reality outside of the observer at all- a particle is invoked into existence by the act of measurement by a conscious observer etc. Also Bohr could not have Bohm kicked out of the US because a. Bohr was Danish b. He was working in Copenhagen and c. AFAIK he was no cold warrior.
Our discussion is of course tangential to the issue which is that science should be taught at schools based on the current scientific consensus -as scientific fact so to speak- and not based on tentative theoretical alternatives or -certainly- personal religious beliefs. Otherwise you are not teaching science. If that is not the case I would demand that my personal theory of gravitation (in which wily Worls scintilate the ur-ether of the spaciotemporal foreplay zone in order to create cosmic togetherness) be taught as physics everywhere.
I guess I will be fired after all...
posted by talos at 1:20 AM on April 3, 2002


"It is very disgraceful and mischievous, and of all things to be carefully avoided, that a Christian ... should be heard ... talking such nonsense that the unbeliever can hardly restrain himself from laughing."

-- Saint Augustine in "De Genese ad litteram"

The problem with teaching creation as though it were science is that it is a special exception to humour literalist Christians. No other religion in no other subject gets this kind of special treatment. By all means teach creation - just be honest and teach it as a particular variety of Christian's dogma, not as science.

It's kind of funny to see this from outside America - only where Christian fundementalism is strong can this kind of lunacy get off the ground. (Not that we don't have our own kinds of lunacy here in Foreign Parts, of course).
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:59 AM on April 3, 2002


> "I don't want anybody taking care of me in a nursing
> home some day to think I came from a monkey."

No need to wait; she's giving me that very impression now, though I'm not sure she has come all that far.
posted by pracowity at 2:11 AM on April 3, 2002


Thank you Talos and IAJS for refocusing this discussion where it belongs: not on Epistemology 101 or even on the content of modern biology, but on politics. That's what this is: a pressure group who wants to coerce school boards into teaching its highly nonstandard view of things.

Sadly, IAJS, this kind of garbage has arisen in several states, including OH, KS, OK, WA, and now GA. Probably others, too. It's a rear-guard action: creationism has largely been kicked out of schools, so now the effort is to sneak in "alternative viewpoints" in the name of fairness and completeness, and a watered-down creationism called "Intelligent Design."

I'm betting it fails, but much damage is already done: US students stink at science and math.

Zero tolerance for dumbing down a kid.

Hmph. It's late.
posted by Hieronymous Coward at 2:57 AM on April 3, 2002


Flat earth theory was defendable until the means existed to actually present concrete, complete evidence that the earth was round. By cirumnavigating the globe, the support was created, but it could not actually prove the earth was round, since it was more of an experiment of confirmation.

Viewing the earth from space, and using the technologies available today to actually map, inch for inch, the earth.. well, now that's complete evidence.


Actually, this is one of the biggest historical myths that keep getting thrown about. The concrete complete evidence that the earth was round goes back 3000 years to Greek geometry which showed that the earth must be a sphere in order to explain differences in shadow length recorded on the same day in different locations. In fact, Christopher Columbus was not considered a fool for claiming that the earth was round, by that time enough Greek geometry had been imported into Europe from the Arab world that everybody with an education not only knew the earth was round, but also knew the circumference which Christopher Columbus underestimated by a huge value.

In the same way, evolution like many scientific theories, still lack that final 'slam dunk' that gives all the evidence to go from point A to point B. Until then, everyone and their mother can feel correct in what they believe - it's just that there exists more evidence for some opinons than others.

Certainly, the question is how much evidence is required in order to say with a reasonable degree of certainty that a theory is confirmed. One of the problems with how evolution is taught is much more focus is placed on the relatively scarce vertebrates rather than the ubiquitous invertebrates. For example, I am sitting in a building that is built from several tons of invertebrate fossils that when examined microscopically, give a pretty clear and compelling view from point a to point B. Expanding to the macro scale, looking at fossils over the total course of life on earth gives a pretty compelling view from point a to point to B. looking at the evolution of HIV over the last quarter decade of the epidemic gives a pretty compelling view from point a to point B. in fact, we have more independent lines of evidence supporting evolution, we have more raw data about evolution, and we know more about evolution then we do about our solar system. If any theory needs to be challenged, it is our understanding of the solar system based on a scattered handful of samples, probes, and telescope observations rather than the kilotons of evidence for evolution.

The problem with teaching creation as though it were science is that it is a special exception to humour literalist Christians. No other religion in no other subject gets this kind of special treatment. By all means teach creation - just be honest and teach it as a particular variety of Christian's dogma, not as science.

Good idea. Have you ever noticed that in spite of the fact that the Bible is very clear on the fact that pi=3, (a ludicrous error even for the time the bible was penned, you would think that the Hebrews would have learned something while in Egypt and Babylon) no one seriously calls for a rejection of geometry in schools.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:20 AM on April 3, 2002


I want the Hindu creation myth to be taught as science in the schools. It's the best creation myth of all, with a randy god chasing after some dame who keeps changing form. She's a fish, he's a fish, they fuck and fish are created; she becomes a dog, he becomes a dog, they fuck, and dogs are created; she becomes a horse, he becomes a horse... and on and on.

That's a seriously kick-ass creation myth. Waaaaay better than a couple of naive virgins prancing about some garden.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:38 AM on April 3, 2002


you only say that because fish are involved, FFF.....
posted by dwivian at 9:23 AM on April 3, 2002


you would be surprised how many of our finest military know the Lord

"Knowing the Lord" and belief in Creationism aren't mutually inclusive. Since an extremely high percentage of Americans believe in God, one would expect the military to have a comparable (or higher) percentage of believers (what with the reported absence of atheists in foxholes and all). A more meaningful figure would be how many of your finest military (and Americans in general) believe in Creationism.
posted by biscotti at 9:53 AM on April 3, 2002


So I'll ask them.
posted by bunnyfire at 10:04 AM on April 3, 2002


How about this: we are a product of evolution, but that's the way God made it.
posted by adampsyche at 10:29 AM on April 3, 2002


dwivian: in the very water you drink, too!
posted by five fresh fish at 10:46 AM on April 3, 2002


For the record, bunnyfire, I wasn't intending to be facetious or nasty, and I hope it didn't come across that way.
posted by biscotti at 11:01 AM on April 3, 2002


Cobb County is also planning on removing math from its curriculum, due to fears that the students would be confronted with the number zero and thereby implicitly be asked to believe in Nothing.

IMHO, discounting evolution (or championing "creation science" in its stead) is to place explicit limits on God's power to shape the universe. If you KNOW that God created the whole shebang, then delimiting the ways that that may have been brought about is simply to misunderstand what "omnipotence" means. It is another way of presuming to speak for God. It's typical fat suburban Xian arrogance. Which leads me to Bitter's First Maxim: "Anyone who claims to be speaking for God is wrong."

Besides, as we all know, it's turtles all the way down.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:28 PM on April 3, 2002


Sometimes I think this should be required reading before entering into any "discussion" with BF. :)
posted by terrapin at 12:55 PM on April 3, 2002


This argument draws out the "junior philosopher's club" in the very same way the OJ trial brought out the "amateur lawyer's club".

Another link - both philosophy and law, when debated by neophytes, are thread-killers of the first order. And crushingly boring, too!
posted by websavvy at 1:03 PM on April 3, 2002


Another link - both philosophy and law, when debated by neophytes, are thread-killers of the first order. And crushingly boring, too!

Indeed. How dare we think and debate these things without a license! It's almost as if we don't understand our natural place in the order of things. If we have not already studied something extensively, it is presumptuous in the extreme to exhibit any interest in it whatsoever. Thank you for showing us the error of our ways.
posted by kindall at 3:01 PM on April 3, 2002


Mr. Kindall may not like what I have to say, but I really like his cat.
posted by websavvy at 5:29 PM on April 3, 2002


Oh, sure, flatter my cat! You won't get out of this quite so easily. ;)
posted by kindall at 10:06 PM on April 3, 2002


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