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Evolutionism
November 25, 2004 5:39 AM   Subscribe

37 percent of Americans want the teaching of 'evolutionism' replaced outright. (Yeah, I know it's hackneyed but 37%??)
posted by jonvaughan (155 comments total)

 
It's interesting how the article says "only 37%". That's still a very large number, especially for a scientifically developed country. I was raised Catholic, and no one in my family, my school, or my former church ever lead me to believe that evolution was wrong. I don't see why this is such a threat to some people; the scientific version and the Christian version complement each other very nicely.
posted by fossil_human at 5:52 AM on November 25, 2004


I can see people having their doubts about evolution...not that I do, but I can understand the viewpoint. What I cannot understand is how, in this day and age, someone could go through life thinking the Earth is only 7000 years old, etc., God created the world in seven days, etc. It is my hope that one day they will be looked upon as Flat Earth Society members are today.
posted by The Card Cheat at 5:54 AM on November 25, 2004


Add your own disclaimer stickers to textbooks!

Examples:
This sticker covers a pre-existing sticker designed to subtly undermine the teaching of evolution in your class. To see the full text of the original sticker, examine the books of children of school board members, who mandated the stickering.
and
This book does not contain the word evolution, the unifying principle in biology and an important component of the National Science Standards and the Scholastic Achievement Test. For an overview of what your class is missing, go to: http://evolution.berkeley.edu/
Can't recall the original source of the url, but I plan to be embarrassed if it was mefi.
posted by jperkins at 5:59 AM on November 25, 2004


What competing theory leads you to understand the viewpoint that evolutionary theory is questionable, TCC?
posted by nthdegx at 6:00 AM on November 25, 2004


It is my hope that one day they will be looked upon as Flat Earth Society members are today.

Wow, I'm finally an early adopter.
posted by jperkins at 6:05 AM on November 25, 2004


jperkins: it was metafilter.
posted by simonw at 6:08 AM on November 25, 2004


Everything is in place... now I can try to implement my idea of Faith Based Math in my local school system!
In Faith Based Math, 2+2=5 (assuming that the value of 2=2)... as long as you believe!
Bwuhahahahahahaaa...
posted by grimcity at 6:10 AM on November 25, 2004


simonw: ok, I wasn't embarrased but I did roll my eyes at myself for not taking the rudimentary precaution of searching the FPPs - I'd have sworn that it was a comment inside a thread though. Fair as long as I promise to search before linking?
posted by jperkins at 6:13 AM on November 25, 2004


No competing theory, nthdegx. I stress that I do fully believe in evolution theory, it's just that I've read enough about things like holes in the fossil record and whatnot to see how someone could come to the conclusion that evolutionary theory is incorrect, or at least incomplete.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:26 AM on November 25, 2004


It is my hope that one day they will be looked upon as Flat Earth Society members are today.

Wow, I'm finally an early adopter.


Me too. I have a feeling this discussion will be a bit one sided though, with all the peeps at mefi. We need a fundemental christian user here to represent the "other side".

This poll was conducted among a nationwide random sample of 885 adults interviewed by telephone November 18-21, 2004.
I don't remember much of the statistics theory, but is 885 interviews enough to get a valid overview of the American population?
posted by Grums at 6:31 AM on November 25, 2004


Yes - it is;)

Due to what i remember from my statistic class, this is actually a pretty reliable research. Even do it might be some errors, since for example just registered voters are asked...

Can the respondents really be so naive...Scary! I know religion is a lot stronger i USA than - say Norway, but anyway...this seems insane.
posted by Groomz at 6:32 AM on November 25, 2004


Gaps in data are very different to holes in theories.
posted by nthdegx at 6:33 AM on November 25, 2004


gallup poll (via memefirst): Only about a third of Americans believe that Charles Darwin's theory of evolution is a scientific theory that has been well supported by the evidence, while just as many say that it is just one of many theories and has not been supported by the evidence. The rest say they don't know enough to say. Forty-five percent of Americans also believe that God created human beings pretty much in their present form about 10,000 years ago. A third of Americans are biblical literalists who believe that the Bible is the actual word of God and is to be taken literally, word for word.

Plus: Stickers Put in Evolution Text Are the Subject of a Federal Trial.

Plus: The State Board of Education approved new health textbooks Friday after the publishers gave in to last-minute pressure from some board members to define marriage as a "lifelong union" between a man and woman (instead of "union between two persons").
posted by acrobat at 6:40 AM on November 25, 2004


Also, perhaps the grand temporal scale that evolution works on can be difficult for people to grasp. The concept of a million years is incredibly abstract to people with 70-80 year lifespans. When you don't consider the sheer size of the earth and the length of time involved, the mechanics of evolution can make a 'monkey to human' transition seem implausible.

Clearly, a lot of people don't have this difficulty, but it might go a ways to explaining why people are more willing to accept "God did it" then a rational scientific explanation.
posted by Adam_S at 6:43 AM on November 25, 2004


grums: depends on their methodology , it could be BUT regardless of how accurate the employed method actually is , it is always wrong to state "xy% of some population does" just because one or one million methods leads to this conclusion. To be sure one should interview all of 85% of population at the same time (or in a lapse of time too short for anybody to change opinion) ...so at best it may be a good reasonable approximation.
posted by elpapacito at 6:48 AM on November 25, 2004


Dawkins' Selfish Gene really should be required high school reading. At least the first chapter. He does an excellent job of explaining, very quickly, not only why evolution is the case, but why it must be the case.

The implications of self-replication of any sort are startling, and not immediately comprehensible; look how long it took until evolution was theorized.
posted by mek at 6:48 AM on November 25, 2004


Appendix to my previous post: Someone is tightening the rope (and they seem to be well organised). How long until we see a HPOTUS (High Priest Of The United States) in the White House?
posted by acrobat at 6:49 AM on November 25, 2004


I see this as another symptom of the "I don't want to think about anything that might question my worldview, because that might mean I'm wrong" mentality. To paraphrase Molly Ivins, most of these folks are so narrow minded, they can see through a keyhole with both eyes.

The use of the word "theory" when referring to evolution confuses the uneducated. They probably are mistaking the concept better known as the hypothesis to those who made it through grade school science class without sleeping.

I suggest those who would pit their faith against a scientific theory practice first on the theory of gravity, preferably by stepping out a third story window.
posted by Enron Hubbard at 6:49 AM on November 25, 2004


This is the kind of poll that gives me the heebie-jeebies, but I try to console myself with the fact that many scientific facts have no practical importance to most people, as Sherlock Holmes argued. 99% of the world can't distinguish Slovakia from Slovenia from Slavonia, and that's OK.

Also, I would really like to know exactly how the poll was taken and how the questions were phrased. The poll seems to indicate that at least 2% of Americans both favor teaching creationism and evolution (65%) and creationism instead of evolution (37%).

Finally, I think I may try to bring up the subject of evolution with strangers more often. Could be educative.
posted by Turtle at 6:55 AM on November 25, 2004


If God controls everything, then why should we bother with science at all? Wouldn't something be so, simply because God wants it to be? We can't explain disease - it is God's will to take someone's life. We can't explain weather - God controls that.

American Christians do not seem to want to prohibit the teaching of all science. I wonder why they are so intent on prohibiting the teaching of evolution.
posted by flarbuse at 7:07 AM on November 25, 2004


I suggest those who would pit their faith against a scientific theory practice first on the theory of gravity, preferably by stepping out a third story window.

I know you're just kidding, but this is a confused use of theory, which leads to the kind of misunderstanding you're talking about. A "theory" is neither well-founded nor unfounded, as such. A theory is different from a fact in that it explains how something works. Gravity is a fact in its pulling you to the street when you step out that window. but as Hume suggested, as a fact, we cannot be sure it will happen the next time. There's no explanation. Theories are explanations, some good ones and some not good ones - but what makes them theories is that they attempt to show how something works. The current theory of gravity is that matter curves space-time and so draws other matter toward it. Yes, a scientific theory is validated by undergoing various attempts at falsification, by making predictions which would validate the specific theory but not competing explanations for the same phenomena, etc, but the gravity analogy is misleading.

Likewise, the theory of evolution is an attempt to explain how intelligent life came to be from non-intelligent life. "guided evolution" is just a misunderstanding, as that would be intelligent life coming to be from even-more-intelligent-life, which really needs no explanation, so we would have no need for a theory of evolution. It's actually quite bizarre how that "middle ground" theory gets adopted so often, when it's pretty much incomprehensible on its own. It's just that it's hard to deny evolution given the evidence, but people don't want to deny a personal god, so they make this compromise without really examining the evidence and understanding their own stance.
posted by mdn at 7:09 AM on November 25, 2004


Slavonia? Isn't that the one right next to Stankonia?

Wait, it's not?
posted by emelenjr at 7:26 AM on November 25, 2004


It is important to remember at all times that America has long has a strong religious perspective, going back to the huge variety of minor outbursts , esp. in New England, and that American remains second only to India in religious fervor. Europe, drifting away from much of this, increasingly does not understand our strong religious-driven sense of morality, often honored in speech and writing but ignored when convenient.

Oddly, though, if science is viewed with suspicion and distrust, the technology it produces tops retail sales yar after year around the holidays.

The sad part is that religious people are so sure they have the truth that they want to punish or deny perspectives that they do not accept...
posted by Postroad at 7:39 AM on November 25, 2004


Gaps in data are very different to holes in theories.

That's true, of course, but it sounds like it discredits the theory of evolution. That's likely all it will take to swing a few schoolboard members towards your camp.

That's the fundamental problem. The general public, and often those who sit on the school board, really don't understand the theory of evolution. I've heard/read the sentiment "How can I be descended from gorillas if there are still gorillas living in Africa?" Of course evolutionary theory does not claim we are descended from gorillas, but most people think that's what it says...
posted by crank at 7:40 AM on November 25, 2004


I see this as another symptom of the "I don't want to think about anything that might question my worldview, because that might mean I'm wrong" mentality.

There are good reasons to have that mentality, though. When you believe that if you don't continue to have faith that you're going to spend eternity in hell and have an entirely hopeless life, then it makes sense to avoid things that have a reputation of destroying that faith. It looks stupid from the outside, but it makes a hell of a lot of sense from the inside, and it's a strong but subconscious process. Skeptical Inquirer's Why Bad Beliefs Don't Die sums it up pretty nicely. As a former evangelical Christian, I know I did my best not to learn about evolution because I was already afraid of losing my faith and didn't want to tempt the fates. It's a survival instinct, and it drives the people who want to protect their kids from being taught evolution.

It's fucked up, sure, but it makes sense.
posted by heatherann at 7:46 AM on November 25, 2004


I get into this with some fundamentalist Mac users on a computer board from time to time. This one always causes the crickets to chirp:

"Please put forth a plausible mechanism, detailing what we know about depositional rates and plate tectonics that would put limestone at the peak of Mount Everest in just under 7000 years."

I have killed several young earth/old earth threads DEAD with that in the last couple of years. Of course, Young Earth Theory and Creationism aren't identical ideas, but they do go hand in hand. The young-earthers are an interesting lot, though. A quick google search yielded This Gem. The semantical contortions there cause my mind to boggle.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:47 AM on November 25, 2004


American Christians do not seem to want to prohibit the teaching of all science. I wonder why they are so intent on prohibiting the teaching of evolution.

Because it makes them look stupid. If somebody has been raised with an unflinching belief in God and they stumble upon the facts they might question their belief. Fear of evolution is driven by the fear of choice. While so many people try to move forward by learning and growing, the anti-evolution wing of the church (who I have no problem calling the nutjobs) wants to move forward by stifling free thought and promoting ignorance.
posted by HifiToaster at 7:51 AM on November 25, 2004


Big deal. 51% of Americans think that, well, you know.
posted by TimeFactor at 7:58 AM on November 25, 2004


Do these classes forget to teach the Scientific Method along with Intelligent Blind?

Magic is not science, no matter how many people believe in it.
posted by orange clock at 8:02 AM on November 25, 2004


It is important to remember at all times that America has long has a strong religious perspective

So you're suggesting that if one is religious than one must necessarily choose to embrace ignorance and deny the nature of reality?

Okay, I buy that.

Nature is not cruel, only pitilessly indifferent. —Richard Dawkins
posted by rushmc at 8:05 AM on November 25, 2004


Forty-five percent of Americans also believe that God created human beings pretty much in their present form about 10,000 years ago.

I remind myself of this fact every time I have to be out around other people. In fact, I find myself these days always wanting to ask everyone I come into contact with where they stand on that, because I think it would give me a good insight into where they stand on a great many things ... and it would let me know who to avoid.

I grew up around archaeologists, and so I just took it for granted that the world was ancient ... much more than 10,000 years old. I knew that some people thought God created us as the Bible said, but I didn't realize they thought it had happened so recently until a friend in college gave me a book to read "for my own good". It was a diatribe on how fossils had been placed in the earth by Satan to fool us. I only made it through the first few chapters of the book before returning it and asking whether she believed that. When she said she did, because it was the "truth", and that if I didn't wise up, I'd find myself in hell ... for owning and studying fossils (and thinking evolution might be an answer to how we came to be). The friendship ended right on the spot, which ended up being a good thing, seeing as a week later I discovered that this fanatical Christian was having an affair with my fiance ... a fact that still makes me giggle. I guess I'll be seeing her in hell!
posted by Orb at 8:07 AM on November 25, 2004


Frequently Asked Questions About Evolution from PBS.
posted by orange clock at 8:08 AM on November 25, 2004


It was a diatribe on how fossils had been placed in the earth by Satan to fool us.

I would still be laughing if I hadn't started crying.
posted by orange clock at 8:10 AM on November 25, 2004


People, evolution is a fact. It can be demonstrated in the laboratory using bacteria, fruit flies, or other quickly reproducing species. Darwin came up with the theory of natural selection, which explains how evolution might occur. Don't let the creationists re-frame the argument!
posted by Daddio at 8:14 AM on November 25, 2004


It is so hard for me to believe that I am part of only a small percentage of Americans (15%) that believe God had no hand in the evolution of man. I cannot ascribe my feelings of discontentedness to cultural isolationism-- after all I live in the Bible belt. Rather, I am guessing it is because I attended public school in California during the very liberal 70's and there was not a whisper of creationism during my science classes.

It will be interesting to check these statistics again in 20 years. It will be 20 more years of scientific breakthroughs vs. 20 years of public schools teaching misleading garbage.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:16 AM on November 25, 2004


Its not just ignorance thats the problem, but defensiveness on a huge scale, many fundies seem to teach that the bible is this completely infallible book and things like evolution and evidence of discrepancies in the bible and its history are attacks on their entire faith.

Maybe its wishful thinking, but I can just hope that more come to the conclusion over the next hundred years or so that its not a fucking science or history book.
posted by yeahyeahyeahwhoo at 8:16 AM on November 25, 2004



Big deal. 51% of Americans think that, well, you know


No! No! No! 51 % of those who voted think that!!!! Don't give him anymore credit than he is due.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:21 AM on November 25, 2004


The Earth is 7000 years old? Where in the bible does it say that? Even impliedly?
posted by ParisParamus at 8:27 AM on November 25, 2004


The following timeline by Theodore Pederson appeared in The Christian News, March 26, 2001, page 18.

How old is the earth?
If we go back 500 years, we come to the time of Martin Luther (born in 1483), and Columbus, who “sailed the ocean blue in 1492.”

If we go back 1000 years, we come to the time of Leif Ericson, Christian explorer, who preached Christ to pagans. (World Book, 1983, vol.6, page 270.)

If we go back 2000 years, we come to the birth of Jesus Christ. Our calendar is dated from His birth.

If we go back 3000 years, we come to the time of David and Solomon; they ruled Israel about 1000 BC.

If we go back 4000 years, we come to the time of Abraham (2000 BC), ancestor of Arabs and Jews.

If we go back 5000 years, we come to the time of Enoch, who “walked with God 300 years … and God took him [into Heaven].”

If we go back 6000 years, we come to the time of Creation, and Adam and Eve (4004 BC). Luke, evangelist and historian, records Adam as the first man (Luke 3:38).

The earth is about 6000 years old. Let God's people rejoice in Him who made them! (Psalm 149:2)

posted by orange clock at 8:32 AM on November 25, 2004


ParisParamus: it doesn't explicitly state that at all. That's the funny part. It takes a lot of interpretation by theologians in order to achieve the numbers. They add up all the generations, all the begats, all the stated ages of the participants (I.E. Methuselah living to --what-- 850 years old??) up tot he birth of Mary's kid, which is apparently available to us from good Roman record-keeping, then they tack on those ~2000 years. It's all a great leap of faith in the historical accuracy of a 3-4000 year-old legend.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:36 AM on November 25, 2004


I'm kind of encouraged by the poll. I would have thought that a lot more people would want the teaching of creationism to replace evolution. The problem with this, though, is not whether or not creationism is true. The problem is that even if it is true it's not science! The whole point of a science class is to teach kids accepted scientific theories and practices. Creationism has no place in a science class.

If God controls everything, then why should we bother with science at all? Wouldn't something be so, simply because God wants it to be?

Yeah, but if God is perfect and He created a perfect universe, wouldn't He have created a universe where He doesn't have to constantly intervene and fix things? So it seems to me that even if God did create the universe, it would still be important to understand the rules of the world He created.

But fundies would probably tell me I'm going to Hell for saying that.
posted by magodesky at 8:36 AM on November 25, 2004


In 1650, Archbishop James Ussher claimed that the earth was created on the evening preceding October 23, 4004 B.C.. Ussher arrived at that conclusion by examining the lifespans of Biblical figures (as noted by Devils Rancher above), and his work is still occasionally cited by "Young Earth" creationists.
posted by the_bone at 8:40 AM on November 25, 2004


oh yeah, when i talked to my italian friend about it, he got angry in broken english saying:
"do these shit people go to a priest or hospital when they get hurt?"
posted by yeahyeahyeahwhoo at 8:41 AM on November 25, 2004


Its not just ignorance thats the problem, but defensiveness on a huge scale, many fundies seem to teach that the bible is this completely infallible book and things like evolution and evidence of discrepancies in the bible and its history are attacks on their entire faith.

They don't just seem to teach that, they teach exactly that. The Bible is inerrant, if the facts don't seem to fit it, then we obviously have the facts wrong. Or, as Bob Jones University puts it, "the Christian teacher of science must be thoroughly grounded in the Word of God. Moreover, he must have firmly implanted in his mind a biblical framework of truth which serves as the touchstone for his decision making. True science will fit that framework; anything that fails to fit the biblical framework must be rejected as erroneous." (see also, Statement of Faith on page 3 of any application to work at Focus on the Family.)
posted by heatherann at 8:58 AM on November 25, 2004


For the other side, here's The Institute for Creation Research (and their graduate school).
posted by the_bone at 9:07 AM on November 25, 2004


I dont understand this debate. Why dont we just let them teach creationism along with evolution? Theres overwhelming evidence for evolution, so why are we trying to stop them teaching creationism.. isnt it better to have the kids exposed to both ideas and let them figure out which is the better argument. Of course BANNING evolution teaching from schools would be silly and regressive.. but why not let them teach their kids their theory if they want to? So long as they're teaching evolution also, why not let the schools decide?

People, evolution is a fact

devils advocate: inheritance of physical traits from parents is a fact. Evolutionary theory of human origins are a theory because nobody was there to make observations when we evolved (or were created whatever). The ID peoples argument is that change happens on a micro level, (fruit fly colours etc) and that "macro" evolution (lizard to mammal etc.) is an erroneus extrapolation of this

Magic is not science, no matter how many people believe in it.

Magic and science are actually quite similar in intent they just use different methodologies.
posted by tranceformer at 9:08 AM on November 25, 2004


I demand to know why, if 1/3 of Americans believe the Bible is word for word literally true, then why oh WHY aren't there more stonings everyday? Or does the media just not cover these events?

If you're gonna take it literally folks, you gotta take the whole book literally.
posted by raedyn at 9:25 AM on November 25, 2004


More devil's advocate, what tranceformer said. Also,

I see this as another symptom of the "I don't want to think about anything that might question my worldview, because that might mean I'm wrong" mentality. To paraphrase Molly Ivins, most of these folks are so narrow minded, they can see through a keyhole with both eyes.

Which, judging by this entire thread, is equally applicable to those on the side of evolution. Not to mention

Its not just ignorance thats the problem, but defensiveness on a huge scale, many
biologists seem to teach that the canon of their theories is this completely infallible book and things like creationism and evidence of discrepancies in the fossil record and its history are attacks on their entire faith.

Hasn't anyone else noticed that "science" is the "religion" of the day?

Just saying.
posted by Hal Mumkin at 9:31 AM on November 25, 2004


"Magic and science are actually quite similar in intent they just use different methodologies"

Indeed. This is why the first working airplane was designed and built by Nostradamus, space flight was pioneered by Alastair Crowley and why NASA keep a large staff of neo-Platonists and druids on their payroll.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 9:34 AM on November 25, 2004


why oh WHY aren't there more stonings everyday?

There are plenty of stonings everyday. (NSFW if you're in an especially uptight workplace)
posted by the_bone at 9:34 AM on November 25, 2004


look how long it took until evolution was theorized.

Evolutionary theory in some form has been around since at least the time that Lucretius (95-55 bce) praised it in his epic poem which, among other things, pays tribute to some of the scientific philosophers. And he also painted it as many do today in the light of a struggle between ignorant religious rubes and sophisticated, educated scientists. From his De rerum natura:

For I shall tell you of the highest law
of heaven and god, and show you basic substance,
whence nature creates all things and gives them growth,
and whither again dissolves them at their death.
"Matter," I call it, and "creative bodies,"
and "seeds of things" -- such terms I'll often use
in my discourse, and sometimes call the same
"prime bodies" for with them everything begins.
When human life lay foul before men's eyes,
crushed to the dust beneath religions weight
(from the high realm of heaven she showed her face
in hideous grimace of terror to mortal men)
a man of Greece first dared to raise the eye
of mortal against her, first stood ground against her.
Not all god's glory, his lightning, heaven's rumble
and rage, could stop him; rather they rasped his heart
to keener courage, and made him a pioneer
eager to burst the bolts on nature's door.
His quick and cunning intellect win him paths
to freedom beyond the world's far-flaming walls;
in mind and thought he marched the boundless Whole
and then, victorious, taught us what can be and
and what cannot; yes, and what law defines
the power of things, what firm-set boundary stone.
And now religion in turn beneath our feet
is trampled; the victory makes us match for heaven.

Note: his reference to god are poetic use of the word to make a point. Lucretius believed mankind had no need of the gods to explain how mankind came into existence. I believe his reference to a Greek points to Epicurus (though possibly Leucippus or Democritus).
posted by iwearredsocks at 9:36 AM on November 25, 2004


Hasn't anyone else noticed that "science" is the "religion" of the day?

There is the small point that science makes testable predictions about the world.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 9:37 AM on November 25, 2004


The ignorant need to exist to work for the smarter. And America will end up working for the smarter, other countries.
posted by rough ashlar at 9:40 AM on November 25, 2004


I once had a girlfriend whom we'll call S. One day, S and I broke up (she with me, I with her, it was an unpleasant day). Three weeks later S called me and, after 20 minutes of fairly harmless chatter, threw in, "Oh, by the way, I now believe the Bible is 100% literally true."

"Ok," I said, "..."

"I'm serious," she muttered. "I was talking to M," a friend of hers who was a member of one of those rock-n-roll youth churches, "and she convinced me."

I found out later that M had joined the church after she'd been broken up with.

I suppose there are a handful of creationists out there who really, sincerely believe the theory and can point to some reason for the belief. And, by "creationists", I mean the 7000-year crowd, not people who believe that, waaaayyyy back, God set all this in motion. Heck, even I believe that. But 7 days? What does "day" mean when there's no earth to measure it? An arbitrary time chosen by an arbitrary God? What about planets around other suns? What, really, does a "day" mean when there's no mass or energy at all?

Anyway, too many of these people want the world to be simple. Simple and cozy, with no complications, a world of Occam's Electric Razor, carving the simplest explanation out of reality, whether it's there or not.

I dunno, I'm a person of strong faith, but I'm fed up with these people who deny the majesty of human intellect's ability to figure things out, an ability given, at some level, by God.

*growl*
posted by socratic at 9:43 AM on November 25, 2004


If God controls everything, then why should we bother with science at all? Wouldn't something be so, simply because God wants it to be? We can't explain disease - it is God's will to take someone's life.

Lots of 'em will now say prayer cures rabies, thanks to the last two paragraphs of an article in
today's New York Times
. Some will even wonder if bats somehow qualify as "serpents".
posted by davy at 9:45 AM on November 25, 2004


Depending on how old you are, fossil_human, the "Catholic" part may be the key there as to why you were never taught contrary to evolution... I believe the official Church position since ~1950 or so has been that there isn't anything intrinsically wrong with evolution so long as it is accepted that the human soul is created by God. I'm sure there's more to it than that, but that's the gist of it that I understand, at any rate. Acceptance or rejection amongst Protestant denominations varies widely, naturally.
posted by Kosh at 9:46 AM on November 25, 2004


One of my anthropology professors used to celebrate "Earth's Birthday" on October 23 each year, based in part on the Ussher-Lightfoot calendar, and brought champagne to his morning classes on that day as 9am was supposedly the hour for the creation of mankind. He used it as a way to spark discussion on the evolution/creationism debate. I always thought it was clever, as the absurdity of it made everyone take notice, not to mention that it set the creationist side of the debate up as being kind of silly.

Also, what Daddio said. Let’s remember that its’ not the “theory of evolution”, it’s the “theory of natural selection”, whereas evolution is an observable fact.
posted by gemmy at 9:47 AM on November 25, 2004


If you're gonna take it literally folks, you gotta take the whole book literally.

The claim made against them is that they take the book literally. But I think the average evangelical. . .

- takes the literal parts of the Bible literally
(both for historical narrative, "on the 3rd day the women found the tomb empty" and for applicable commands, "do not announce your giving with fanfare")

- takes the poetical parts of the bible poetically
(Psalms may claim one can hide in the shadow of God's wings, but they don't literally think God is a chicken)

- takes the historical parts of the bible historically
(Moses' outstretched arms resulted in the sun standing still for an afternoon, so it did and science will one day grow up and discover the mechanics of that miracle)

- takes the hyperbolic parts of the bible as intended
(Though a few lost souls have literally blinded themselves in an attempt to avoid the thought process of lust, most understand the point that was being made)

The list can go on, but I think most of them accept Genesis as an accurate description of an historical event, rather than an analogy. That seems horrible to some, but the power for each person to interpret the Bible for himself speaks to belief in the individual.
posted by iwearredsocks at 9:48 AM on November 25, 2004


Thanks for the Skeptical Inquirer link, heatherann. It's a nice piece and I hadn't read it in a long time.
posted by homunculus at 9:49 AM on November 25, 2004


CRAP. I stupidly left out a ".com" and then forgot to check the link first. The article is HERE. And the NYT requires registration, by the way.
posted by davy at 9:51 AM on November 25, 2004




Jeez... Between the time I signed up and am posting this you people sure commented a lot, so forgive me if this question was brought up in the intervening time, but...

They said 37% are for replacing evolution with creationism, and "about two-thirds" want to teach both together. Is it me, or is one option missing: Keeping evolution, and leaving creationism out? Was this a loaded quiz, or is it really possible that there is no-one who actually wants that? Because I know that's what I think it should be. I call bogus on this survey, not only for the small sample size, but also due to the phraseology.
posted by symbioid at 9:57 AM on November 25, 2004


I read an Guardian article recently by Philip Pullman on fundamentalism. He basically argued, quite convincingly, that fundamentalism is a modern phenomena and is actually a reaction or result of rise of science and rationalism.

The thinking goes: the rise of science and rationalism promoted a literalist, logical view of the universe. Fundamentalism, rather than a revivial of religious thinking, is actually a literalist re-reading of religious thinking. Whereas before religion was largely a matter of faith (or mythos as Pullman calls it), now theists feel they must "prove" their religion is true so as to fit in with this new framework. This explains how the rise of fundamentalism has risen in parallel to the dominance of rationalism, among other things.
posted by axon at 9:57 AM on November 25, 2004


thatwhichfalls: I believe that you are referring to "technology". Technology is the result of science.

From dictionary.com

sci·ence n. The observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of phenomena.

Where you might be getting confused is assuming that magic and science investigate the same phenomena. They dont. The method of investigation is actually quite similar, but the focus of investigation is different.
posted by tranceformer at 9:59 AM on November 25, 2004


Magic and science are actually quite similar in intent they just use different methodologies.

The methodology is everything. The scientific method is designed to allow for debate and to improve as more knowledge is gained; the religious method is designed to stifle debate and prevent more knowledge being gained.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 9:59 AM on November 25, 2004


Armitage: Fair enough but I'm not talking about christianity
posted by tranceformer at 10:09 AM on November 25, 2004


One of my anthropology professors used to celebrate "Earth's Birthday" on October 23 each year

I have the same birthday as the Earth! And Pele!
posted by krunk at 10:11 AM on November 25, 2004


"Magic and science are actually quite similar in intent they just use different methodologies"

Um,yeah. And elephants and rabbits are quite similar animals, they're just different sizes.

True scientists ask to be disproven. The process is more important than the ego, and knowledge is the goal. If new information expands or contracts the questions and the framework, then that's okay; all is as it should be.

Bad science, just like dogmatic religion, can lead to bad conclusions. But if I have to choose between " this is not what we expected, let's regroup and reinvestigate" and " we don't care what the data show, we all know Satan put these rocks here", I gotta go with the former.

Ignorance is unfortunate, but willful ignorance is shameful.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 10:12 AM on November 25, 2004


There is a theory (pardon the expression) that scientific notions gain acceptance not by changing people's minds, but because the generation that believed the old notions died. Now I'm off to post a grilled cheese sandwich on eBay.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:20 AM on November 25, 2004


"The friendship ended right on the spot, which ended up being a good thing, seeing as a week later I discovered that this fanatical Christian was having an affair with my fiance ... a fact that still makes me giggle. I guess I'll be seeing her in hell!"

Orb,

Dude... nevermind. Wish I could send ya a beer through mefi over that alone.
posted by pabanks46 at 10:21 AM on November 25, 2004


15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense
posted by tetsuo at 10:23 AM on November 25, 2004


Armitage: While I'm a fan of keeping creationism way the hell out of my science classes, you're not going to garner any support by saying that the religious method is to stifle debate. That's the evangelical/fundamentalist method - but not all religion is like that by a long shot. Take, for example, the Jewish Talmud - the book of laws. Within the actual text of the talmud is the original writings, followed by a layer of commentary, followed by another layer of commentary on that commentary. The idea is that the laws necessitate interpretation within the complexity of actual human life. Go to a GOOD Yeshiva, and you'll see debate over the meaning and implications on the Talmud is more than thriving.

The methodology is different, but the differences in methodology promote fundamentally different areas of research. Religion is researching within an ethical/moral framework, which I hope science stays far, far away from. I find scientists encroachments into morality to be almost as offensive as creationism in my biology textbooks (and often leads to attempts to justify eugenics and other nasties). I, for one, believe in progress in the moral sphere the the same way we have progress in the scientific sphere. The difference between my beliefs and that of fundamentalists (and bad scientists, for that matter), is that I don't think any of them will EVER reach the truth. We'll just assymptote closer and closer.
posted by TheRoach at 10:25 AM on November 25, 2004


Very interesting post, TheRoach; do you have a link to any further reading re: the Talmud and debate/interpretation you mentioned?
posted by pabanks46 at 10:33 AM on November 25, 2004


What, you mean you want me to back up my assertions? Well, this isn't the greatest link, but this page has a sample page from the Talmud. The central section is the original text, and you can see the first layer of commentary surrounding it, and the other notes on the outside. Clicking on various parts will give you a bit of an explanation.
posted by TheRoach at 10:41 AM on November 25, 2004


The theory of evolution consists of two statements:
1) Things change
2) Things that are more likely to stick around are more likely to stick around

This is not something that's doubtable.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 10:49 AM on November 25, 2004


Krunk, ss Pele the mother of the earth or just another volcano goddess?
posted by Dick Paris at 10:55 AM on November 25, 2004


ss = is
posted by Dick Paris at 10:57 AM on November 25, 2004


Would you science dudes please back off?
My sandwich is up to $12,750.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:57 AM on November 25, 2004


I was surprised at how many people think creationism and evolutionism should be taught side by side. I'm presuming they're talking about public schools. When I took evolution in school (not that long ago, I'm a university undergrad now) in Canada, which is different but not that different, when we started that section of the class, my science teacher said something like "If you have other beliefs that's fine, no one's asking you to change them, evolution is a theory, but you need to understand it even if you don't believe it." Just once. It showed respect, but didn't PREACH CHRISTIANITY IN PUBLIC SCHOOL, which I don't care what you believe, is not cool.

On preview: Pele's a soccer player, yes?
posted by SoftRain at 11:00 AM on November 25, 2004


It showed respect, but didn't PREACH CHRISTIANITY IN PUBLIC SCHOOL, which I don't care what you believe, is not cool.

I just figured it out, you know what the answer is?:lets agree with the fundamentalists that we need to consider other ideas of human origin. Then lets teach ALL OF THEM. Hindu creation myths, Zulu creation myths, Zoroastrian creation myths, you name it. If you start talking about teaching competing religions in public schools along with christianity, i bet you could really dampen the enthusiasm.
posted by tranceformer at 11:08 AM on November 25, 2004


The theory of evolution consists of two statements:
1) Things change
2) Things that are more likely to stick around are more likely to stick around
This is not something that's doubtable.


Agreed by hopefully everyone. If you're talking on an intra-species level.
But bird becoming dinosaur (for instance) is highly "doubtable". Shared characteristics do not a transition make.

Ps. I like SoftRain's science teacher already . . .
posted by iwearredsocks at 11:11 AM on November 25, 2004


I dont understand this debate. Why dont we just let them teach creationism along with evolution?

Evolution is a scientific hypothesis which makes testable predictions based on known fossil records. Creationism and intelligent design offer no testable predictions. Thus they don't meet the litmus test of what constitutes a scientific theory. And since they aren't science, they shouldn't be taught in science class.
posted by baphomet at 11:11 AM on November 25, 2004


It should be noted that at the time Darwin penned his version of evolution (there were others but his turned out to be the best model) most mainstream Christians didn't take either the 7 days, or the young earth hypothesis seriously.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:14 AM on November 25, 2004


Its not just ignorance thats the problem, but defensiveness on a huge scale, many biologists seem to teach that the canon of their theories is this completely infallible book and things like creationism and evidence of discrepancies in the fossil record and its history are attacks on their entire faith.

Oh, I see what you did. You replaced creationists with biologists and so forth, thereby showing those of us who have a scientific background how foolishly concrete and unyielding our positions are.

The only problem is that biologists DO NOT TEACH THAT THEIR THEORIES ARE COMPLETELY INFALLIBLE. No biologist is walking around saying, "hey guys, we're done now. We have all the answers so I gave all of my grant money back, because everything we know is right and there is nothing left to discover."

Hal, if you can't tell the difference between the scientific method and the creationist method of "just making shit up," I pity you.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:18 AM on November 25, 2004


>> Hasn't anyone else noticed that "science" is the "religion" of the day?

> There is the small point that science makes testable predictions about the world.

And that religion is about supernatural events (like the birth of God), supernatural distortions of natural events (making the sun stand still, e.g.), and/or supernatural causes for natural events (such as God making an eclipse to bolster a preacher's authority).
posted by davy at 11:25 AM on November 25, 2004


Optimus Chyme - The fact that, within the realm of science there are heavily-debated and incompatible ideas on any given theory is not so obvious to outsiders like myself.

I bet the perception is:
Science is a monolith speaking with one voice of overweening confidence, "I hold the answers to truth and progress."
posted by iwearredsocks at 11:29 AM on November 25, 2004


Why dont we just let them teach creationism along with evolution?

Because it's a made up fairy tale, and has no place in a science class. I mean, if you want to go ahead and teach all the other creation myths from all the other religions along with it, sure, give that a shot - but you're going to look awfully silly when the kids see that your little story has more in common with the Enumia Elish than with anything that has a basis in reality.

Hasn't anyone else noticed that "science" is the "religion" of the day?

On preview, damn, I'm late.

Gosh, no, I'd never heard that before. That's very, very clever of you. Oh, except for the fact that science is a time-tested process by which we uncover the way the universe actually works, and religion is one of countless arbitrary belief systems. But thanks for playing, anyway.
posted by majcher at 11:40 AM on November 25, 2004


So long as they're teaching evolution also, why not let the schools decide?

Man, I can't believe nobody else attacked this.

School time is not infinite (it just feels that way). There is only so much time teachers have to actually educate their students. If you try to teach both, students will lack an appreciation for either. That's my diplomatic answer.

Here's my not-so-diplomatic one. Creationism is a joke. It's crap, it's inconsistent with virtually everything else we know about the world and the universe, and doesn't deserve any consideration whatsoever. It has no redeeming educational value. None. Even considering giving it equal time with evolution in schools is an asinine suggestion. Creationism is on par with the Time Cube guy, that's how idiotic it is. School is a place where knowledge is supposed to be taught, so creationism has no place in education.

Hasn't anyone else noticed that "science" is the "religion" of the day?

No, nobody has, because it ain't true. Science is NOT infallible. Science is not irrefutable. Science has put forth a whole host of bizarre (from a modern perspective) ideas on the how and why of the world. Caloric, phlogiston, the Earth-centered universe, the four-element theory (five if you're Chinese)... and when it's been wrong*, it's corrected itself. Science is not a product of creation; it's a product of evolution.

*I'd better explain that a bit further. Science is always "wrong", in that it's impossible for us to know the exact truth about the universe. We start with a guess. It doesn't have to be a good guess; it just needs to satisfy us. When the explanation doesn't satisfy us any longer, we try to understand why it's no longer satisfactory, and come up with a better reason that addresses those problems. Eventually that explanation becomes unsatisfactory, and the search begins again. But now we have the experience of two failed explanations to guide us, so our third explanation is even better. This process continues, constantly correcting itself when it detects a problem.

Unfortunately, science has advanced beyond the capability of the average person to grasp it without a fair amount of study. How hard was it for the Babylonians to remember all the elements? (Hint: they believed there were only three). How many students today have the periodic table of elements memorized? Heck, I think I could remember maybe two dozen of them. Protons, neutrons, and electrons most people can handle, but muons? charmed quarks? The eyes glaze. That's the danger in teaching something that's just plain wrong in school. There's already too much to know now; filling up a kid's head with crap about creation is a big fat waste of time.

(on preview, I see a few of these points have been addressed by others, but hell... I wasted my time writing all this crap, you can waste your time scrolling past it)
posted by GhostintheMachine at 11:42 AM on November 25, 2004


Evolution Ate My Balls.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 11:45 AM on November 25, 2004


Creationism is a joke. It's crap, it's inconsistent with virtually everything else we know about the world and the universe, and doesn't deserve any consideration whatsoever.

For what it's worth, you seem to share the minority opinion. So many find it consistent with their knowledge and experience of the universe, and think it deserves serious consideration.

Of course they're wrong and the minority opinion is right. {and the minority shout, "It's fact, not our opinion!"}
posted by iwearredsocks at 11:48 AM on November 25, 2004


Lots of 'em will now say prayer cures rabies, thanks to the last two paragraphs of an article in
today's New York Times . Some will even wonder if bats somehow qualify as "serpents".


Davy, I had the same thought. What makes me angrier, is that they ignore their own culpability. Basically a whole congregation watches a girl get bitten by a rabid bat in the light of day. They are convinced that "sick bats don;t fly" and they sit back until the poor girl gets rabbies. How could anybody be hurt by some positive thinking? Assholes.

Sounds like a metaphor for the country. A rapid animal could never become president...
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 11:54 AM on November 25, 2004


I bet the perception is: Science is a monolith speaking with one voice of overweening confidence, "I hold the answers to truth and progress."

These people need to attend a conference sometime. If, at any given meeting, there aren't at least one major disagreement, a couple of good hissy-fits and serving snarky backbiting with dinner, then the conference has been a complete waste of time.
posted by bonehead at 12:33 PM on November 25, 2004


>>Creationism is a joke. It's crap, it's inconsistent with virtually everything else we know about the world and the universe, and doesn't deserve any consideration whatsoever.

> For what it's worth, you seem to share the minority opinion.


"Minority opinion" my ass. If most Americans really placed much credence in "Creation Science" it would already be taught in the public schools instead of Evolution.

>So many find it consistent with their knowledge and experience of the universe, and think it deserves serious consideration.

So, many people also buy penis enlargement pills. So what?
posted by davy at 12:46 PM on November 25, 2004


Maybe this is a good thing to figure out.

If 47% of KERRY supporters believe humans were created in present form, I'm wondering if our schools are only teaching evolution in a style of "this is what the theory says" as opposed to "this is the overwhelming evidence of the phenomenon in every day life". I don't recall being taught anything but the simple way in high school and biology wasn't required for me in college.

I wonder if teaching creationism in school would even end up being a bad thing if it was side by side with a full explanation of evolution. They would not be able to teach creationism with any religious connotation and without that shame-based element, the argument for creationism would be ludicrously flaccid in comparison, even with the best argued case for it.

I can remember when I was younger being uncomfortable with the idea of evolution because I found it existentially depressing in addition to the feeling I'd go to hell for believing it. I got over that by thinking about it until the abundance of evidence bothered me more and eventually it wasn't a crisis anymore. I think that's what the psychologist Kohlberg means when he talks about moral education being about getting people to consider morals more than teaching them anything in particular.... they'll get it right on their own and be much better at figuring new things out on their own.

Prompting kids to experience that cognitive dissonance might be exactly what they need. I mean ya notice how many on both sides believe both theories should be taught (not just creationism)? I think that suggests people know on some level that evolution's not wrong so much as they don't want to deal with the possibility in their life.
posted by RemusLupin at 1:01 PM on November 25, 2004


So many find it consistent with their knowledge and experience of the universe, and think it deserves serious consideration.

Yes, but I was kind of hoping that education would make my kids smarter than those people.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 1:35 PM on November 25, 2004


"I am not a geologist or any other kind of scientist, but I do have a problem with arguments that fossils and other such evidence only make it appear as if the earth is millions of years old. I have a problem with the notion that God would deceive us about the age of things by "planting" fossils and other evidence to fool us about the age of Creation. More importantly, the Bible does not try to tell us how old the Earth is. One cannot derive an age for the earth by adding up years in the genealogies in Genesis, for the very good reason that those genealogies are partial and piecemeal. They are not exhaustive or complete. We must always keep in mind that the Bible is not intended to be a scientific textbook. It was written for people who lived long before the rise of modern science."

-- Evangelical, conservative New Testament scholar Ben Witherington
posted by matteo at 1:38 PM on November 25, 2004


The ignorant need to exist to work for the smarter. And America will end up working for the smarter, other countries.

This will be an interesting experiment if it happens: Americans stop teaching evolution to their children, and their children grow up to fall behind everyone else in the world in the scientific fields in which evolutionary theory touches upon -- therefore demonstrating "survival of the fittest."

There is some beauty in that.
posted by moonbiter at 1:42 PM on November 25, 2004


They would not be able to teach creationism with any religious connotation

Then they would not be able to teach Creationism. How can you explain Creationism without mentioning a Creator?

Prompting kids to experience that cognitive dissonance might be exactly what they need.

Don't young people get enough of that already?

I mean ya notice how many on both sides believe both theories should be taught (not just creationism)? I think that suggests people know on some level that evolution's not wrong

I take that as a sneaky sop they throw the unbelievers, because they know there's no way they're strong enough to replace Evolution yet. But give "Creation Science" credence by letting it in the schools at all and more students will be persuaded that it's "true" -- and then grow up to want to replace "that heathen doctrine" with it. (This is going on all over already, just not so much in public schools.)

so much as they don't want to deal with the possibility in their life.

Please explain what you mean by that?

By the way, a question for non-USans: is this "Creation Science" thing half as big over there? Is there any serious movement to teach it in secular schools?
posted by davy at 1:43 PM on November 25, 2004


"Minority opinion" my ass. If most Americans really placed much credence in "Creation Science" it would already be taught in the public schools instead of Evolution.

What RemusLupin said in his first paragraph.

So, many people also buy penis enlargement pills. So what?

My point is that the other half (or more) isn't objectively or subjectively overwhelmed by what the first half calls evidence. The first half finds this baffling and assumes those who "believe" creationism are uninformed idiots.

Maybe there's something else going on here. Like a conflict of worldviews. That is worth discussing; understanding the others' POV could create bridges between people, maybe even change some minds.

{the ghost of Polyanna invaded my body and wrote that last sentence!}
posted by iwearredsocks at 1:44 PM on November 25, 2004


They are talking this exact topic over in the diaries at Redstate. How could a Tacitus-spinoff be populated by so many people actually arguing that you cannot disprove the "young-Earth" theory?
posted by pabanks46 at 1:46 PM on November 25, 2004


"the theory of evolution is an attempt to explain how intelligent life came to be from non-intelligent life."

Mdm, ah, no it isn't. It's a hell of a lot more than that. The fact that everyone always focuses on the intelligence, man/monkey part of evolution is playing into the creationists' hands. Their religion demands that there is some kind of strict separation between humans and animals. They need animals to have been created on one "day", and humans on another. This is the reason they try to frame the debate around the "ascent of man", when most actual, real, live evolutionary biologists spend their time researching much more interesting things. Please tell me you don't actually believe evolution is the study of how intelligent life came from non-intelligent life.

Davy: as a non-USasian, an Australian in fact, I can confirm that our fundamentalists are just as rabidly anti-evolution. Fortunately, fundamentalist Christians make up about 1% of our population, and most people laugh at them behind their backs. I attended a Christian highschool and was taught evolution in biology class, and the "symbolism" of Genesis 1 in religion class.
posted by Jimbob at 2:21 PM on November 25, 2004


Maybe there's something else going on here. Like a conflict of worldviews. That is worth discussing; understanding the others' POV could create bridges between people, maybe even change some minds.

If millions of adults still seriously believe the world is a few thousand years old, creating bridges simply doesn't have a good enough return on investment. Perhaps it's time to face up to the reality of this culture war, and work on marginalizing them to where they can do the least damage.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 2:27 PM on November 25, 2004


Creationist arguments are usually framed incorrectly, based on an incorrect and flawed understanding of what evolution is, what "science" is, as well as deliberately twisting the facts. (i.e. claiming that transitional fossils don't exist- they do. tons of them.) Strictly stated, evolution is defined as a change in allele frequency over time. That's all. Tetsuo's link above "15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense" is excellent. I first read it in a Biological Anthropology class- it was in the textbook. One cannot equate creationism with science. Science is a method to explain why things happen; creationism is an a priori belief based on a book, and a terribly mistranslated one, at that. Apples and Oranges. The best thing to do, imho, is to ostracize and marginalize Creationists and their crackpot theories. It's not a debate worth having.
posted by exlotuseater at 2:42 PM on November 25, 2004


or what Armitage Shanks said. sorry, I'm a n00b (but Long-Time Lurker)and haven't gotten used to "preview" yet.
posted by exlotuseater at 2:44 PM on November 25, 2004


Remember this?

The court also gave a nod to what defense attorneys had called the "sleeping embryo" theory: Under some interpretations of Shariah, an embryo can be in gestation for up to five years, meaning that Ms. Lawal's baby could have been fathered by her former husband.

When Muslims try to use their scripture to explain a concept, incorrectly, that could not have been known at the time of writing, it is ridiculed. Somehow when American-Christians do the same (creationism in this case), similar criticisms come off as "God-hating," etc.
posted by pabanks46 at 2:52 PM on November 25, 2004


Just a couple of points: The first that fundamentalism is best thought of as a political movement, not a religious one. This fight for control over the school curriculum is part of that.

The other is that debates over the veracity of creationism (i.e. none) vs. the theory of natural selection (i.e. the best we have) are irrelevant. Religious ideas should not be taught as fact in the publically funded school system, period. I thought y'all had this thing called separation of church and state, a concept intrinsic to the founding of the country, and dear to the hearts of those who framed the Constitution. Creation myths-- whether Christian, Muslim, Animistic-- should not be taught in the public school system as an alternative to scientific method. In our part of the world, there's a creation myth to do with Raven finding the first men in a clamshell. It's poetic and beautiful and profound in its realm-- its cultural importance-- but nobody's going to be teaching it in Biology 101. The same should apply to the Garden of Eden.

(apologies if there are spelling errors; Firefox crashes whenever I try to load spellcheck)
posted by jokeefe at 2:53 PM on November 25, 2004


Funny how the creationist argument has "evolved" from "that's what the Good Book says" to pseudo-scientific drivel like intelligent design.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 2:57 PM on November 25, 2004


My point is that the other half (or more) isn't objectively or subjectively overwhelmed by what the first half calls evidence.

I don't think I've ever met anyone who, after taking in the volumes of evidence and support for evolution, found a few holes and decided, "screw it! some ghost made everything."
posted by mcsweetie at 3:00 PM on November 25, 2004


By the way, a question for non-USans: is this "Creation Science" thing half as big over there? Is there any serious movement to teach it in secular schools?

Davy: I went to "public" (we call them "State") schools in the UK and the only place Biblical creationism was taught was in RE (Religious Education). So yes, our minds are kinda boggled by these statistics and stickers we keep hearing about..
posted by Drexen at 3:34 PM on November 25, 2004


The first half finds this baffling and assumes those who "believe" creationism are uninformed idiots.

The people who aren't uninformed (that is, those who actually study this stuff for a living) believe in evolution, not creationism. It's not snobbery that make people believe in evolution, it's evidence.

The universe is not a democracy. Truth is not decided by popular vote.
posted by jpoulos at 3:36 PM on November 25, 2004


Actually, I also went to a school that was founded as a chantry and clerical college and still enforced a (brief) daily Church of England service.. but there was no hint of evolutionism in the science classrooms there, either.
posted by Drexen at 3:45 PM on November 25, 2004


Scientists know that they do not know everything.

Believers often erroneously equate their beliefs with knowledge, and attribute the gaps in their knowledge systems to some things being unknowable.

Both approaches leave holes in their dialectic defenses, but for far different reasons.

Creationism can use this similarity to equate itself with science as a form of belief system, and nothing will ever change that.

Or do I just think that because I was fed evolution at an evil public school?

Naaah.
posted by geologic time includes now at 4:06 PM on November 25, 2004


I tought it especially important to note that there were 111 comments listed when I clicked on this thread. I wonder if that means something.
posted by Kleptophoria! at 4:08 PM on November 25, 2004


That's one for the oldies. I'm not simply being a moron.
posted by Kleptophoria! at 4:12 PM on November 25, 2004


School time is not infinite (it just feels that way). There is only so much time teachers have to actually educate their students. If you try to teach both, students will lack an appreciation for either. That's my diplomatic answer.

Fine. But in the schools where creationism would be taught many of the kids would already believe in it. Their parents would be telling them not to believe what they hear in school. Some of them would be not coming to class at all as apparently happens in some places and is not challenged. Isnt it better to have all the kids in class discussing one versus the other rather than have half the class sulking in the back or skipping school?

Here's my not-so-diplomatic one. Creationism is a joke. It's crap, it's inconsistent with virtually everything else we know about the world and the universe

Yes, I agree that its inconsistent with everything we know about the world in terms of science but 37 percent of americans disagree. Who are we to tell them what they can teach their kids. Seriously. If the roles were reversed and people who believed in creationism were in charge of the schools, would we want an environment where the popular ideas were discussed based on their relative merits, or one where the dominant idea was mandated by the federal government?

These people really believe that the creationism is an accurate description of the world. And as ridiculous as it seems to us, imagine if you and your friends all believed in evolution, but the schools taught your kids the christian creation myths as fact. What if, furthermore, all your friends, and most of the teachers at school and administrators believed in evolution also, but the federal government forbade you from teaching it and required you teach that as fact. Wouldnt you want both to be discussed so your kids could come to their own conclusions? How pissed off would you be at the dominant elite that forbade teaching evolution in schools? Furthermore, say their was a president who promised to correct this situation, would you be inclined to overlook other faults he might have if he promised to try to correct the situation? Might you ignore warnings about this president from the same elite who mandated what you could or couldn't teach your kid?
posted by tranceformer at 4:25 PM on November 25, 2004


And that religion is about supernatural events...supernatural distortions of natural events...and/or supernatural causes for natural events

In other words, it's much ado about precisely nothing.

The universe is not a democracy. Truth is not decided by popular vote.

Indeed.

Faith: not *wanting* to know what is true. —Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche
posted by rushmc at 4:37 PM on November 25, 2004


It should be noted that at the time Darwin penned his version of evolution (there were others but his turned out to be the best model) most mainstream Christians didn't take either the 7 days, or the young earth hypothesis seriously.

And most muslims originally did not wear veils. British Empire era newspapers found a few muslims wearing them and attacked the veils s barbaric. When the muslims found out what the british imperialists thought of the veils they started wearing them a lot more. It became something that they could do to show their defiance.
posted by tranceformer at 4:39 PM on November 25, 2004


Isnt it better to have all the kids in class discussing one versus the other rather than have half the class sulking in the back or skipping school?

Creationists aren't interested in a debate on the merits. Every point from the fossil record to carbon dating will be systematically undermined with pseudo-scentific jibberish, and it's totally unfair to expect the children of sane parents to suffer because of it. At some point, you have to cut your losses, and accept that some kids will be, errr, "left behind". It's just another example of Darwinism at work.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 4:59 PM on November 25, 2004


Serious Christian theologians have never really bought into the "Old Testament as literal truth" business. Augustine dismissed the Hebrew scriptures as metaphor and allegory long before this whole school debate popped up.

People who believe in the Bible literally word for word scare the shit out of me. There's so much stuff in the Old Testament that should not be taken literally at all.

Fuck Creationism, honestly. Teach that in a class on world religions, not on biology. It isn't biology. It's something else entirely. Some people are just ridiculous, so let's not pander to their every silly whim.

ON PREVIEW: What countless other Mefites already said.
posted by Kleptophoria! at 5:17 PM on November 25, 2004


but the power for each person to interpret the Bible for himself speaks to belief in the individual.
posted by iwearredsocks at 9:48 AM PST on November 25


This is undoubtedly true. Believas interpret, most probably don't want to stone their children for being disobedient, etc.

But the problem is when these nice people want to control government, when there insipid beliefs want political power.

Then, the question is who is the mother fucker who says what and what not to believe in the mother fucking Good Book?

When you impose your "interpreted" beliefs onto others, there must be a standard. There is no standard.

It's magic, and Christians are the ones with the spells.

Fuck you, and get out of my life.
posted by orange clock at 5:20 PM on November 25, 2004


By the way, a question for non-USans: is this "Creation Science" thing half as big over there? Is there any serious movement to teach it in secular schools?

creation as science no, christian beliefs yes - along with many other beliefs in high school world religion classes, not in science classes. i have school age relatives in bc, alberta, ontario, and quebec and none of them are being taught about religion in science class - not even the one that's going to private catholic school.

but if americans want to put themselves behind and risk their children's futures by teaching fairy stories instead of scientific method that's their prerogative. sadly the rest of the world will go on just fine without them.
posted by t r a c y at 5:37 PM on November 25, 2004


They can really believe any damn thing they want. What they can not be allowed to do is make the science curriculum a religious curriculum. Intelligent Design is not science. That fact can not be argued against.

As for the stress we cause the religionists by not currying to their whims: so what? You can't satisfy all the people all the time. So we do what is right: teach science in science class, english in english class, and religion in religion class. The latter is probably held on Sunday, rather than the public school.

If any of you live in a district in which religionists are trying to inappropriately force creationism or I.D. into the science curriculum, I suggest two things:
  • demand the inclusion of the Hindu creation myth, which is righteous.
  • demand the inclusion of comparitive religious studies in the curriculum, where the wholly non-scientific, religionist theories of creation and intelligent design can be examined in an appropriate context.

    And I think I need to reiterate, because this fact seems to be getting lost by some folk: intelligent design is not science.

  • posted by five fresh fish at 5:40 PM on November 25, 2004


    What Optimus Chyme said.

    I don't think that anyone in Biology is under the illusion that evolution is infalible. In fact, contemporary evolution bears is not really the same as Darwin's evolution. Darwin left some major pointed gaps in his theory such as the absence of a quantitative model, and only a rough hypothesis that some mechanism of inheritance will be discovered at a later date. The same thing happened with our theory of gravity with a few major breakthroughs since Newton first figured out that the moon and falling apples were powered by the same force.

    Of course, one problem is that Biology is taught in K-12 schools as a series of facts rather than a discipline of inquiry. Students are pounded on more vocab in biology than most first-year foreign language students. Good teachers handle evolution on the curriculum by describing the evidence that makes evolution the unifying theory of Biology. However, too many students just get "humans evolved from other primates."

    The broad theory of natural selection is not debated in biology, for the same reason that gravity is not debated much in astronomy. Natural selection transforms biology from a disjointed collection of facts, aka "natural history", to a consistent discipline capable of making and testing hypotheses about organisms. Some of the reasons why natural selection works:

    1: Its predictions have been supported with populations ranging from clusters of infectious disease, to the global distribution of life on Earth.

    2: It does not make exceptions. It explains bacterial and human populations equally well.

    3: It is consistent with a wide variety of ways of looking at the evidence from molecular genetic "clocks" to cladistics, to measured changes in gene frequency in case studies.

    4: It has quantitative rigor. While high school physics will teach Newton's law of gravitation, high school biology does not teach quantitative genetics which can model how fast a gene with a slight reproductive advantage can spread throughout a population.

    Any competing framework to evolution needs to be "backwards compatible" with thousands of studies that have found results supporting natural selection and descent with modification as the driving force behind genetic diversity. (*) Einstein only performed his coup over Newtonian gravitation because relativity collapses to Newtonian gravity at low speeds and gravitational fields. So in effect, all of the research in astronomy from Tycho through Kepler, Gauss, Poincare and Hubble end up supporting relativity. Intelligent Design can't do that. Creationism certainly can't do that.

    (*) On a tangent, one of my frustration with Pinker's polemics against Behaviorism is that behaviorism works, not perfectly, but with a large enough number of cases that it can't be dismissed entirely.
    posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:47 PM on November 25, 2004


    I'm all for teaching creationism.

    In religious class.

    Lets keep the science class for teaching Science.
    posted by jamesmd at 5:59 PM on November 25, 2004


    Having worked with a well-educated and somewhat travelled person who believed fully and completely in the doctrine of spontaneous generation (maggots and flys and so on arise spontaneously from rotting meat), I'm not surprised by what people believe about the natural world.

    My question though, is how long you can expect a society to survive that demonstrates such a fundamental disagreement with observed reality? How can you make informed public policy decisions about stem-cell research, release of GM organisms or any number of other science-related issues, if you've decided to deny a basic concept of modern biology? (Or the scientific method, for that matter.) This kind of thing keeps me awake at nights.
    posted by sneebler at 6:06 PM on November 25, 2004


    Some good points have already been made as to why it's a bad idea to teach creation "science" along with evolution in biology class: because it's not biology, and it's not science. Teaching both in the same class is problematic because you're teaching something that isn't biology in biology class. But more fundamentally, you're teaching something that isn't science in a science class. So the students in this class are going to get confused as to what science is and what it isn't. You're going to end up with a segment of the population who can't possibly make informed decisions on things that science relates to if they don't understand what science is and how it works. Teaching creation "science" along with evolution in biology class will increase the size of that segment of the population. When someone says something like "science is the religion of the day," they show that they haven't got a clue as to what science actually is. One of the reasons for having public education is to decrease the number of people who have fundamental misunderstandings like this, not to increase them.
    posted by Kaigiron at 6:28 PM on November 25, 2004


    Every year around August/September, I take up believing wholly and passionately in spontaneous generation. It's the only way I can explain the freaking explosion of fruit flies that occurs within minutes each time a piece of fruit enters the house.

    how long you can expect a society to survive that demonstrates such a fundamental disagreement with observed reality?

    I figure it's a couple generations at best. The USA can coast on its reputation for a while, but eventually the forces of evolution are going to notice that the society is lagging behind the rest of the world and put an end to it.
    posted by five fresh fish at 6:33 PM on November 25, 2004


    I guess what really scares me is that, at its heart, the creationism side of this argument as presented by spearhead groups of the movement is really a political argument in the guise of a religious argument.

    I'm not saying that the typical middle-America God-fearing creationism believer has any covert agenda, but I do believe that their leaders do. This is just one prong of an attack on our secular model of government.

    There is a growing and increasingly politically-aware group that really believes our system is "Godless" and in need of a good smiting. And they want to be the ones to swing God's hammer. Every year, they get more adept at operating the levers of our political system.

    We,as a country, are presently expending great deals of money and lives eradicating theocracies (with the religious right's blessing,of course, because they're Muslim theocracies), while ignoring a slow but steady march towards one here.

    Don't get me wrong - religion can be a wonderful thing. But history has shown almost without exception that commingling religion and government is a bad thing. We ignore the trend at our own peril.
    posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:55 PM on November 25, 2004


    And most muslims originally did not wear veils. British Empire era newspapers found a few muslims wearing them and attacked the veils s barbaric. When the muslims found out what the british imperialists thought of the veils they started wearing them a lot more. It became something that they could do to show their defiance.

    Source please? That sounds "legendary". As in Snopes, or maybe "how the muslims got their veils".
    posted by davy at 7:35 PM on November 25, 2004


    We,as a country, are presently expending great deals of money and lives eradicating theocracies (with the religious right's blessing,of course, because they're Muslim theocracies), while ignoring a slow but steady march towards one here.

    WORD.

    Don't get me wrong - religion can be a wonderful thing.

    Like when? It took my middle school teachers a while to learn that being able to pronounce "Pesach" and "Hanukah" didn't mean I was "entitled" to skip school on Jewish holidays, but when I started bringing up Catholic holidays too they got suspicious. (My family followed neither faith, and by then I actually followed none.) But somehow I don't think that's what you mean by "religion can be a wonderful thing".
    posted by davy at 7:55 PM on November 25, 2004


    Who are we to tell them what they can teach their kids.

    But tranceformer, as several other posters have said, parents are free to have their kids taught religious doctrine in a religious setting -- Sunday school. For that matter they can teach their kids any damn thing they want on their own time at their own expense.
    posted by davy at 8:01 PM on November 25, 2004


    Source
    posted by tranceformer at 8:08 PM on November 25, 2004


    By the way, a question for non-USans: is this "Creation Science" thing half as big over there? Is there any serious movement to teach it in secular schools?

    No. I think for most people outside of the US, even seeing this issue vehemently argued against by intelligent people seems bizarre (how often does this come up on Mefi!?!?).

    It is sort of like walking into a graduate level physics class and seeing a bunch of people red-faced, yelling, with spittle coming out of the side of the mouth arguing against flat earth theory.
    posted by stp123 at 8:19 PM on November 25, 2004


    Tranceformer's source:
    The Battle for God by KAREN ARMSTRONG.

    Interesting that the public library's six copies of this are either checked out or already on hold. Maybe later.

    I get the gist from the Amazon blurb, they're "resisting modernity". Uh-huh. Look what good it did 'em.
    posted by davy at 8:20 PM on November 25, 2004


    Given Xians insistence on Equal Time, I don't see how they could object to teaching kids Trotskyism in Social Studies class. It's an alternative explanation for how society works that's at least as "scientific" as Intelligent Design, one that many people take seriously, so it too should be on the curriculum alongside what they're being taught now. Trotskyism also has the advantage of fifty years' worth of scholarly classics, like the great historian CLR James' _The Black Jacobins_, already available at Amazon.com. There's also the advantage that, despite the fervor of some of its adherents, Trotskyism does not technically qualify as religion.
    posted by davy at 8:57 PM on November 25, 2004


    Yeah, like stp123 said, this sort of thing really confuses the fuck out of me. It boggles the mind that anybody takes this debate seriously. What a quiant country my Canada is. A Jehovah's Witness once made me cry by explaining Creationism to me. It was the look on her face as she explained it, as if it was common knowledge.

    I cried I was laughing so hard, I mean. I wasn't really sad or anything.
    posted by Kleptophoria! at 8:58 PM on November 25, 2004


    Who are we to tell them what they can teach their kids.

    Rational, thinking people, that's who. I simply do not want my tax dollars fostering ignorance of reality. My taxes pay for people to be educated, not indoctrinated.


    These people really believe that the creationism is an accurate description of the world. And as ridiculous as it seems to us, imagine if you and your friends all believed in evolution, but the schools taught your kids the christian creation myths as fact.

    But we don't 'believe' in evolution. Evolution is, as has been noted above, what is known as a 'fact.' Evolution (again, as noted above) follows scientific principles: investigation, investigation, and more investigation. Creationism does not. It says 'this is how everything is. So there.'


    Oh, and as a Canadian, the only time I ever heard this Creationist bullshit was in religions class-- where we compared creation myths from Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, Pagan (etc) traditions.
    posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:11 PM on November 25, 2004


    FFF: If any of you live in a district in which religionists are trying to inappropriately force creationism or I.D. into the science curriculum, I suggest two things:
    # demand the inclusion of the Hindu creation myth, which is righteous.


    Indeed. I also earlier suggested the local Haida creation myth, which is lovely. Added to that could be the Tale of Gilgamesh, the Mayan/Aztec religious cosmologies, and from Australia, the intellectual framework of the songlines.

    Every year around August/September, I take up believing wholly and passionately in spontaneous generation. It's the only way I can explain the freaking explosion of fruit flies that occurs within minutes each time a piece of fruit enters the house.

    Easily explained: the eggs are already on the fruit when you buy it, and washing doesn't take them off. Therefore, they hatch once you get the fruit home. Ta da!
    posted by jokeefe at 9:20 PM on November 25, 2004


    but jokeefe, it happens within minutes of entering the house. It's downright freaky.

    The particular Hindu creation myth I like basically has one god try to rape another god, who changes form to fool him, but the first god then changes and rinse and repeat. Horse to cow to deer to etc. And thus was every living thing created.

    Hey, it's a great sex story. Be great for a science curriculum.
    posted by five fresh fish at 9:56 PM on November 25, 2004


    I want to say that as a Canadian, I'm astounded such a thing could happen...

    ...but I have a niggling suspicion that ultrareligious Abbotsford/Surrey districts may have tried to pull a wiggy stunt like that...

    ...and I'm not sure they were bitchslapped for it. Sigh. Guess I better google for it.
    posted by five fresh fish at 9:58 PM on November 25, 2004


    Looks like I'm actually remembering One Dad Two Dads Brown Dads Blue Dads, in which a school district tried to have a book banned and was served back its ass on a platter by the Supreme Court of Canada using strong language:
    On December 21, 2002 the Supreme Court presented its ruling that the ban on books about gay and lesbian parents has no place in a public school system that claims to promote diversity and tolerance. Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin wrote in the 7-2 ruling that "parental views, however important, cannot override the imperative placed upon the British Columbia public schools to mirror diversity of the community and teach tolerance and understanding of difference." Throughout the 35-page ruling, the Chief Justice repeatedly stressed the importance for a secular school board to avoid caving in to pressure from religious parents to the point of excluding the values of other members of the community.
    The provincial court had been just as damning with its judgement:
    Saunders ruled in favour of the petitioners. She stated that the Board was influenced by religious belief and thus acted against sections 76(1) and (2) of the School Act; "76 (1)-All schools must be conducted in strictly secular and non-sectarian principles; 76 (2)-The highest morality must be inculcated, but no religious dogma or creed is to be taught in a school or Provincial school."
    So, yes, it is rather astounding that this is happening. It would take balls to try to introduce religion to the public schools after that ruling. Even the Surrey schoolboard ended up having to make compromises to the point of having to pick two alternative titles featuring same-sex parents.

    I don't think creationism presents much public school viability after that ruling.

    In looking that up, I found this, which scares me: They're trying to grow the balls to try it.
    posted by five fresh fish at 10:20 PM on November 25, 2004


    I am a lifelong resident of Cobb County GA (home of the original anti-evolution stickers). I somehow failed to get infected with the magical mindset prevalent in my state, and my nation today. Americans seem to think that wanting something bad enough makes it so. It doesn't matter one whit what the people want or think, no poll is ever going to change what is. New evidence could, in theory, invalidate the theory of evolution by means of natural selection of populations but no poll or politician could.

    why is this such a hard concept for so many people?
    posted by Megafly at 7:37 AM on November 26, 2004


    On Wednesday, the girl who sits in the cubicle next to me at work told me that she doesn’t think she should have to be taught evolution in school. Strangely, she is studying to be a forensic scientist. She likes CSI, you see. We were talking about the separation of church and state—me being all for it, and she and another woman being very much against it. From their perspective, Christians really are under attack by a powerful minority of atheists and other hateful people who don’t want Christians to be allowed to worship as they choose. I pointed out that since Christianity is not yet the official state religion here, other creation stories would have to be given equal time. With a sincere tone of disgust and outrage, our budding “scientist” told me that she had to learn “the Native American creation story” in high school—evidence, as far as she’s concerned, of an extreme bias against Christianity. In Biology class? No. As it turns out, in a LITERATURE class. She seemed wholly unable to grasp how that’s something entirely different, that it was being taught as literature, not fact. This entire conversation just made me incredibly angry and sad. And it made me think that maybe I really don’t want to live in this country any more, that it’s hopeless.
    posted by apis mellifera at 7:47 AM on November 26, 2004


    "It doesn't matter one whit what the people want or think, no poll is ever going to change what is."
    or more to the point what absolutely is not or cannot be. Belief is the sanctuary of those who can't think it through.
    posted by Cancergiggles at 7:53 AM on November 26, 2004


    We,as a country, are presently expending great deals of money and lives eradicating theocracies ...while ignoring a slow but steady march towards one here.

    I trust you don't think that the one is unrelated to the other...
    posted by rushmc at 8:47 AM on November 26, 2004


    Not to derail, but is this at all similar to certain minorities in the country where I live (France) who object to the teaching of the Holocaust in class - by either denying it, ridiculing it or just not accepting its validity...? The problem isn't equal time here. You really want people to learn about it, because it's "important" somehow. I think we want people to learn evolution as well and learn its lessons, namely that we live in a technologically-oriented society that has moved past the religious dogma of earlier ages. Science doesn't have all the answers, but we do want people to adhere to a scientific consensus rather than religious one in our day. Anyway, I thought money was the new religion (and that's what's killing all of us.
    posted by faux ami at 8:54 AM on November 26, 2004


    Regarding davy's comments on my post:

    Then they would not be able to teach Creationism. How can you explain Creationism without mentioning a Creator?

    That's my point. You can't present a single religious argument in our schools, thank god ;-) it's not allowed, to prevent a theocracy. You could only say people A believe this, people B believe this, etc then present the mountain of evidence for the the existence of the phenomena of evolution. And I'm assuming an intellectually honest presentation of all sides. I think the evidence of evolution is so rock solid that the only thing that would stop someone from accepting it would be the cognitive dissonance of having to questioning the interpretation of the religion they were taught in childhood. Speaking from the experience of someone who grew up with some fundamentalists, that's the only way to make the transition from misguided conservative beliefs to something that fits with reality.... if we want our children and neighbors in this country to wake up then I think this is what we have to do. No?

    "so much as they don't want to deal with the possibility in their life" - yeah, sorry, that was confusing... What I meant was it seems strange that dispite an apparent majority of people thinking evolution is wrong, an overwhelming majority don't want it eliminated from schools. I wonder how much of that apparent indecision is from people realizing there's something to evolution (and so not wanting to get rid of it) but not continuing on to question the way their religion was taught to them (and still refusing to abandon creationism).

    Maybe we shouldn't fight those stickers either - nothing would make kids more keen on reading something than if they thought their parents didn't want them to. I say we only allow photos of Darwin photoshoped in between two naked people. =0.
    posted by RemusLupin at 9:18 AM on November 26, 2004


    With a sincere tone of disgust and outrage, our budding “scientist” told me that she had to learn “the Native American creation story” in high school—evidence, as far as she’s concerned, of an extreme bias against Christianity.

    That's the great thing about American Christians; they manage to act like a beleaguered minority and a bullying majority at the same time. True experts in cognitive dissonance.
    posted by Armitage Shanks at 10:31 AM on November 26, 2004


    the cognitive dissonance of having to questioning the interpretation of the religion they were taught in childhood

    Also known as "growing up."
    posted by rushmc at 6:38 PM on November 26, 2004


    I dont understand this debate. Why dont we just let them teach creationism along with evolution?

    I concur. You really don't understand this debate.

    This 37% proves that evolution also works in the reverse order. Man, that's a lot of stupid people! Haven't they ever had a science class? Oh, wait, never mind.
    posted by nofundy at 8:50 PM on November 26, 2004


    Next up: predictive power of Maxwell's equations to be determined by poll of the American public.
    posted by Zurishaddai at 8:11 AM on November 27, 2004


    I dont understand this debate. Why dont we just let them teach creationism along with evolution?

    I concur. You really don't understand this debate.


    Yeah, well why dont you explain it to me? specifically the part about how federal government mandating what local schools can or cant teach their students will benefit anyone at all.

    I went to a small high school in the deep south, and I was friends with people who were creationists. We were taught evolution in school, and most people in the school believed in some sort of evolution. But a few kids believed that humans were created in their present form thousands of years ago. We never discussed the benefits of creationism versus natural selection in class, we were just taught evolutionary theory. What I saw was that all the kids who had been raised to believe in creationism rejected evolution a priori. They would make jokes about it in class, and at lunch. Learning evolution in class did not change their opinions, it just made them feel alienated from the school.

    When I'd hear them making jokes about evolution I'd ask them for what their reasons were and we'd discuss them, they didnt get angry, they just told me what they believed, and I told them what i believed and we talked about it. I didnt change their opinions either, but I heard their side and they heard mine, and neither of us got angry. And these were smart kids - their belief system just precluded them from accepting evolution. I would have found it interesting to discuss their beliefs with a whole class but i never got to do that.

    A lot of people on this list reject teaching creationism in schools based on what seem to be ideological grounds. What I'm saying is forget ideology and look at what the actual result of what you advocate is likely to be. Imagine a school filled with creationist kids, creationist teachers, creationist parents, do you really think that a creationist teacher telling people about darwin through gritted teeth is going to change peoples minds? No. The kids are going to believe what they want to believe and what they've been raised to believe. Kids are going to believe what they learned at home and from their peer group in the vast majority of cases.

    The effect of banning creationism is not really going to change peoples minds, its just going to dig them in deeper and deeper against precisely the kind of people who tend to post on metafilter. And in 2008 when it comes time to vote again who do you think they're going to listen to, the latte drinking people who insist they teach their kids something they find morally repugnant, or the people who want to let their local schools decide what they teach. However obvious you find the flaws in creationism to be there in no denying that it is an extremely popular meme. Prventing local schools from teaching the kids a meme near and dear to their hearts is only going to intensify the us and them, red state/blue dynamic, and give them another reason to hate liberals.

    Right now in this country, liberals need to pick their battles. And also, I'm of the opinion that this evolution in schools thing is a smokescreen, just like gay marriage, and all the other "moral issues" to distract attention from the serious issues like the deficit, iraq, the housing bubble, staggering corruption (trillions of dollars in missing government money), the possiblity of a draft, accelerating global warming, the precarious position of the dollar, peak oil, etc. etc. By wasting time and energy on issues like this the left is cutting itself off at the knees by wasting time trying to save people who dont want to be saved. My 2c.
    posted by tranceformer at 9:33 AM on November 27, 2004


    As someone who has been physically threatened during a college biology lab on evolution that I was teaching at a Methodist college (by a minister in training no less) I simply have no more patience for this argument. Faith is faith and science is science. You can exist in both spheres without any compromise IMO. The more about science I learn, the more I believe in God.

    I don't understand the instinct that wants to create fantastical theories to somehow validate faith in relation to science.

    Bottom line, we are creating a generation of ignorant and confused children.
    posted by UseyurBrain at 9:08 PM on November 27, 2004


    And once we get the creationism thing sorted out, we can get started on the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which is apparently almost as hard to believe as evolution.
    posted by sneebler at 11:10 AM on November 28, 2004


    My taxes pay for people to be educated, not indoctrinated.

    What exactly is the difference?
    posted by davy at 1:14 AM on December 3, 2004


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