August 4, 2000
10:08 AM   Subscribe

John Scopes, the defendant in the famous Scopes Monkey Trial, was born 100 years ago yesterday, but teaching evolution 76 years later is still considered controversial. Are we ever going to stop having to defend evolution?
posted by mathowie (40 comments total)
Until we evolve beyond our need to believe in higher power, I am guessing the answer is, no we will never be able to stop. And when I say we, I actually mean them, because I am so sick of religion keeping mankind small, I could vomit.
That said, I think the otherside of the coin has a deathgrip on society that ony grows stronger. I do not believe anything will ever change, Jesus will continue his slow creep accross the planet like a gigantic game of Risk. Eventually this conversation will be irrelevant because no one will argue in favor of evolution.
posted by thirteen at 10:31 AM on August 4, 2000

I think it goes deeper than that, Matt. I didn't get any real science education is school when I was still in school, and I don't see anything to convince me that has changed. Reading some creationist arguments, the same flawed arguments over and over again, depresses me because anyone with half a knowledge of how science works can see right through the demagoguery and propoganda.

An atheist defends religion: I've got no beef against organized religion, just organized fear-mongering and organized deceit and organized garbage-spewing. That kind of thing can come from any quarter and for any purpose, feeding on the fundamental desire of humans to live in a world of absolutes. This is bad, this is good, approve of this, don't approve of that.

I'm not saying some science education will cure all the ills of this crapped-out debated, but it will help, and will continue to help even when evolution's defenders aren't around that moment.
posted by mrmorgan at 10:44 AM on August 4, 2000

My favorite instance of religion as organized deceit is The Rapture. Supposedly, that's the point at which the true believers in Christ go to heaven. Except that's not what the Bible says. "Only 144,000 people are "saved" and they are all Hebrew men who have not had sex with women" (from the linter notes of The Residents' fascinating album on strange bible tales, Wormwood). Everyone else is screwed.

Also, "The World's Growing Focus on Jerusalem" is apparently TWO signs of the coming apocalypse.
posted by wiremommy at 11:34 AM on August 4, 2000

Hey, I mean it, that sort of thing isn't limited to religion, and I still see nothing in religion that makes it inherently more deceptive than any other way of living.

Criminey, I'll be going to church next.

My point is that religion isn't the problem it's demagoguery, which feeds on ignorance, and the best way to fight it is not with more demagoguery but by fighting the ignorance. Attacking religion isn't going to teach people how science works and why science is a good thing.

Guess I'm of the philosophy of spreading good memes to counter the bad memes. (How's that for some good old meaningless jargon, hmmm?)
posted by mrmorgan at 11:49 AM on August 4, 2000

Are we ever going to stop having to defend evolution?

Until we evolve beyond our need to believe in higher power, I am guessing the answer is, no.

I don't think it's the generic belief in a "higher power" that's the problem. I think that biblical literalists have a problem with the theory of evolution because it requires billions of years, and they can only assume a few thousand.

Besides that, there are also issues about at what point an animal has a soul. Evolution assumes we descended from more primitive beings that couldn't have known or understood the concept of "God." Since it would be impossible to mark a single defining moment at which our ancestors would have become aware of God (if that's the best way to phrase it), it's hard to say that humans are the only animal capable or that they're somehow different from other animals in any case.

This is not to say that the worldview that biblical literalists assume is without contradictions, but maybe they're easier to ignore.

Another issue is that in recent years, the government has been cracking down more and more on teaching religion in schools. A big motivation of the creation "science" movement is this: if creation can somehow be scientifically verified, it can be taught in science classrooms. Essentially, the bible can become a science textbook. It's too bad their "science" involves mostly appealing to the laypersons' common sense with arguments that use incorrect facts and logical fallacies.

And as for why it still remains controversial, despite our better judgement: I think that a lot of Americans hold Christianity in some special place in their minds whether they take it seriously or not. They still base their opinions of right and wrong on what they think the church would say. And if all the Christians are saying evolution is wrong, that it goes against the Bible (and of course, not all Christians say that, but that's the perspective some people might have), then a lot of people who don't bother to look into things very deeply will sympathize more with the church.

At least that's my take.
posted by daveadams at 11:49 AM on August 4, 2000

Seems to me the real problem with this whole issue is neither Christianity nor is it Atheism. It's just outright intolerance on the part of people that happen to be Christians that is the problem. Now, I do consider myself to be a Christian. That being said, I find the idea of interpreting the story of creation as anything other than metaphor completely laughable. But I don't have any problems with Creationism being taught in schools as an "alternative" explanation though. People have a right to hear different sides of an issue. If certain members of the Christian community had the same feelings, I don't think that we would have this problem.
posted by Popstar at 11:59 AM on August 4, 2000

Popstar: if Creationism is taught in schools, that's a tacit endorsement of Christianity over every other religion in the world.

If you include Christianity's Genesis in the curriculum because "people have a right to hear different sides of an issue", you must also include the stories of Islam, Shinto, Buddhism, Taoism, Wicca, Hindu...
posted by wiremommy at 12:07 PM on August 4, 2000

"because I am so sick of religion keeping mankind small"

perhaps, you're just afraid of facing an argument against something you believe in.

i encourage you to check this out :
Darwinism & Evolution

posted by alethe at 12:26 PM on August 4, 2000

Oh, man. Looking at that site just makes my stomach churn. You'd need four years of biology class to deal with all the misinformation there.

Popstar, do you honestly believe that creationism is a valid alternative scientific explanation?

If it's not that, it should be in a religion class. The only alternatives to evolution that should be taught in a science class are scientific ones.

No flame here; I'm interested in what you really think, and what your evidence is.
posted by mrmorgan at 12:30 PM on August 4, 2000

wiremommy: exactly. Which is why we should just teach science and the findings of science, and at home, parents can show their children whatever "alternative" explanation they want.
posted by mathowie at 12:31 PM on August 4, 2000

Macro evolution does have some major holes in it. See "M. Remo's Forviden Archeology
for further background.

I'm with Z. Sitchin on this one
posted by matucana at 12:46 PM on August 4, 2000

There's no place in the science curriculum for Creationism (or the essentially meaningless "Creation Science") because, like mrmorgan and mathowie say, it isn't really science.

So yeah, we're going to have to defend evolution for as long as people refuse to think critically and rationally.
posted by dcehr at 1:10 PM on August 4, 2000

I turn the question back on you, matucana: what's the scientific evidence for creationism?

Matt, I think I understand your frustration in starting this thread. The same old rehashed arguments, the same old deliberate misunderstanding and mischaracterizations of evolution, when will the attempts to put biblical literalism in the science class end?

I don't know. The only answer I can think of is more, and much better, science education in this country.
posted by mrmorgan at 1:29 PM on August 4, 2000

alethe, I've already found a lie in the page you pointed to (estimated time to deception: .75 minutes).

"Students first learn that 'evolution is a fact'"-- no, they don't. It's called THE THEORY of Evolution.
posted by wiremommy at 1:33 PM on August 4, 2000

"The only alternatives to evolution that should be taught in a science class are scientific ones."

what is the scientific evidence for evolution (not matter of opinion or coincidence)?

posted by alethe at 1:35 PM on August 4, 2000

It's sort of sad that as a society we strive to keep differing perspectives out of the classroom. I think the kids might actually do better to get exposure to many explanations and go home to ask questions of their parents. I suppose we would end up with one year evolution being the explanation of favor with the kids, followed by creationism and even a smattering legends taught by indigenous peoples. The kids would learn how to research their own answers, instead of blindly learning by repetitious worksheet.

The only thing evil about including differing opinions and explanations is when it is done with a tone of final and complete authority. Ultimately people should decide for themselves what sorts of stories best explain why they are here and how they are going to live their lives.
posted by Sqwerty at 2:15 PM on August 4, 2000

Alethe, here we encounter one of the many reasons science is objective, and religion is not.

In order to explain to you the scientific evidence for evolution, we would have to go through a huge compendium of information and theory, and at many points during the explanation we would have to say "However, the theory of evolution thus far does not explain this particular fact, and more investigation must be done into this fact before we can draw a conclusion."

While the religious evidence is a 2,000+ year old book which is true because God wrote it (well, men wrote it, and it's been translated a lot since then, but God dictated it anyway), and if there are inconsistencies (like the famous Scopes argument that "if a day is the time it takes for the earth to revolve around the sun, and God created the sun on the third day, then how did he measure the first two 'days'?"), then it's because God works in mysterious ways.

Science does not purport to have the absolute final answer on the genesis of the universe; science has theories which accommodate the facts that we now have available to us.

The burden of proof here is on religion, because Creationism claims to have the absolutely correct truth about how the universe began. Science makes no such claim.
posted by wiremommy at 2:19 PM on August 4, 2000

Spontaneous generation was a widely held belief for some time. And as support for it died down, I bet there were folks saying "hey teach people that rotting meat suddenly grows maggots as well as teach them about the process of decomposition, microbial growth, insects, and their birth cycle."

So I'm saying, look we have some science that explains quite a bit (but not all, the rest is up to you), but then we also have a bunch of stories that try to do the same, but with a leg firmly in the past.

How someone can look at the grand canyon today and say it's ten thousand years old and was formed in two weeks goes against not just science but logic and knowledge. I hold evolution in the same regard - you can watch it happen right in front of your eyes, in short periods of time (fruit flies, microbial resistance to antibiotics, environmental adaptation).

If we were to teach every culture/religion's take on evolution, a biology class would be nothing *but* evolution. Teach science in a science class, teach religious stories at home, how hard is that?
posted by mathowie at 3:04 PM on August 4, 2000

Teach science in a science class, teach religious stories at home, how hard is that?

Not difficult at all. The thing is, that's not the goal of those who would have "equal time" for Creation teachings in science classes... it instead is simply the first step in foisting their religous beliefs on children other than their own.
posted by dcehr at 3:28 PM on August 4, 2000

“Teach science in a science class, teach religious stories at home, how hard is that?”

It’s not difficult to do that. But it is blind to the effect of cultural differences and how they influence people’s perspectives. I didn’t propose months of comparative religions being taught in the classroom. I simply noted that I’ve gained as much from creationism and Tlingkit tribal legends as I have from evolution as an answer for where I come from and how this world continues to grow and change. I don’t happen to believe in creationism, but I do believe in the value of metaphor as a way of dealing with what I do not directly experience myself. Stories and fable are not inherently bad, it’s the politics associated with a few of them that forces us to narrow our public conversation instead of expanding it.
posted by Sqwerty at 4:13 PM on August 4, 2000

to wiremommy:
a huge compendium of information and theory

how so can you dismiss theological research (information and theory) when it is just as broad and objective?
--"objective" relating to all its denotations : having existence or reality, uninfluenced by emotions, based on observable phenomena...
( and also having a unique revealed understanding )

can you really say that science is objective (without personal prejudices ) when other theories and voices are quelled, not because they can be dismissed on evidences, but because it is easier to do so?

and at many points during the explanation we would have to say "However, the theory of evolution thus far does not explain this particular fact, and more investigation must be done into this fact before we can draw a conclusion."

does this not suggest that the theory might be flawed rather than floundering? what would be wrong, unscientific, about considering alternatives that might better explain the phenomena? true because God wrote it (well, men wrote it, and it's been translated a lot since then, but God dictated it anyway)

what do you mean by true? the Bible says to "examine everything carefully" ( 1 Thess. 5:21 ). the Bible has been tested and is being tested everyday by theologians, archaeologists, unbelievers, etc. the curious thing is -- it remains true. there are no contradictions or mistakes that survive a critical examination of the text(s).
it is a matter of faith for you whether or not you seek the good.

as for translation : "Each year we find more and more copies of the original manuscripts, from earlier and earlier dates. We even have manuscript fragments that date to the time of the apostles' deaths--LONG before we got into the 'translation business'!" ( vide 5 )

then how did he measure the first two 'days'?")

you assume that the only way to measure "day" is by the time the earth revolves around the sun. ( vide day )

"science has theories which accommodate the facts that we now have available to us"

accommodate what facts? a theory is based on assumptions and opinions on the most basic observable phenomena. science cannot reconcile that basic observation with a broad theory.

The burden of proof here is on religion, because Creationism claims to have the absolutely correct truth about how the universe began. Science makes no such claim.

the burden of proof is on both sides; and while "science" may not make a claim to truth, the scientists who champion certain theories do.
posted by alethe at 5:10 PM on August 4, 2000

Gee, and I picked cell phones to try to highlight something about the American psyche. This debate could only occur in a nation founded by pilgrims. It died out in every other western country less than 40 years after Darwin's book was published. Sqwerty is arguing for comparitive study of traditions and creation myths of other cultures. I think this is a great idea, it would be helpful for people to learn to challenge their absolutist and fundamentalist view points though the study and comparison of the histories and traditions of the peoples of the world. In the process, hopefully, they may be equipt with enough mental tools to be able to handle difficult concepts like the practice of scientific enquiry and the theory of evolution.

posted by lagado at 5:53 PM on August 4, 2000

Alethe, you still seem to misunderstand what the word "theory" means. "Scientists who champion certain theories" cannot make claims to absolute truth because BY ITS VERY NATURE a theory cannot be absolute.

Definition of theory, courtesy "Systematically organized knowledge applicable in a relatively wide variety of circumstances, especially a system of assumptions, accepted principles, and rules of procedure devised to analyze, predict, or otherwise explain the nature or behavior of a specified set of phenomena."

A scientist can claim "My theory explains everything perfectly! It must be correct!" but he cannot claim absolute truth because there is always the possibility that new information will contradict his theory. No reputable scientist will make a claim to absolute truth.

The proofs on behalf of the Bible cited in the links you provide are telling. Here's an example (paraphrasing question 4): the Bible proves its veracity because early books of the Bible accurately predict events that occur later in the Bible. If you don't see a problem with this kind of "evidence", then you're just not paying attention.

And while we're at it, if the Bible is 100% reliable, how do you explain the Apocrypha? (The page I cited above to which Alethe linked gives us the out-and-out lie that "There are many passages in the Bible that are difficult to understand, easy to be offended at, or an embarrassment to the early church leaders. But these passages were NOT altered, omitted, or diluted!" ...except that actually, a lot of chapters were deleted from the Bible, among them Judith, Susanna, Wisdom of Solomon, and Wisdom of Jesus Son of Sirach. You can find some of the texts here.)

I could bash on your 'arguments' some more, but why bother? Alethe, your statements are so vague as to be meaningless. "The Bible has been tested and is being tested everyday by theologians, archaeologists, unbelievers, etc. the curious thing is -- it remains true. there are no contradictions or mistakes that survive a critical examination of the text(s)"... What can you possibly mean, "it remains true"? True in what sense? That everything in the Bible is a literal fact? (Except for the Apocrypha-- whoops!)

I've read Biblical scholarship claiming that the story of Jesus' resurrection was written several years after the crucifixion, and that the text describing the resurrection borrows heavily from earlier stories about Egyptian, Sumerian, and Babylonian deities. In other words, these scholars contend that the resurrection did not occur. You say the Bible is tested every day and remains true, yet these scholars would obviously disagree with you.

I suspect what you mean is, it's true to you and will remain so, no matter what I or anyone else says. That's fine. But when you ask us to "prove" evolutionary theory to you and you don't even understand what a theory is, you can't expect us to take your 'arguments' on behalf of Creationism seriously.
posted by wiremommy at 6:27 PM on August 4, 2000

I have a great deal of sympathy for christians. I think there are a lot of irritating atheists in the world. I am especially irritated by meanspirited lawsuits launched every christmas against mangers and driedles on public property. I understand some christians are devoted and think they have all the answers. I do not think they do. How much longer do we as a race have to be beholden to a guy who has been dead for 2000 years. 2001a.d? 2500a.d? 3000a.d? He's not coming back. Let us go. Continue worshiping if you want, raise your children as you wish, but don't insist that I comply, and don't make my children learn things that slow them down.
The basic tenants of christianity are some of the weakest, life diminishing, anti-individual things I have ever heard. Why should we have to be meek. Why should we be threatened with hell. Life is less precious if you think there is something waiting for you afterwords. I expect nothing after my life is over, I am not afraid of anything, and everyday is beautiful. The only love I have for any of you comes from my much greater love for myself. I think we are all that way, and so many of are taught it is better to love others, before we even know ourselves. I do not know how the world and the universe were formed, it does not matter. To expect to know such answers when we have been around such a short time is unreasonable. There is no need to search for answers if you think you already have them. Without this curse, we might be able to undertake multi- generational projects, colonize other planets, glorify ourselves and the future. Are we really gonna take Jesus to other planets with us? Does the bible even make any provision for us leaving the planet? Would your god destroy a universe we know to be vast without us have seen even the tinest bit of it in person? It makes no sense.
posted by thirteen at 7:25 PM on August 4, 2000

"I've read Biblical scholarship claiming that the story of jesus' resurrection was written several years after the crucifixion, and that the text describing the resurrection borrows heavily from earlier stories about Egyptian, Sumerian, and Babylonian deities. "
The crucifixion, if it happened at all historically certainly was instrumental in getting christianity accepted by pagans already used to sacrificing their god every year. I'd say it was a great marketing ploy but one we are still living with.
This is a topic probably more suitable for the easter holiday but as you mentioned the festival of Easter is linked to the earlier practise of lamenting the annual death and resurrection of the god of ferility. Its obvious subtext is the agricultural cycle, renewal and reproduction, rebirth, even rabbits and eggs etc.
Easter is named after the ancient Babylonian goddess Ishtar and her lamenting of the death and eventual resurrection of her husband Tammuz. (aka Baal and Astarte (Ashtoreth), Attis and Cybele, and Adonis and Aphrodite) There is also a strong resonance with the Egyptian myth of the annual rebirth of Osiris.
Tammuz incidentally is the name given to the 4th month in the Hebrew calendar and another name for Lent.
posted by lagado at 7:50 PM on August 4, 2000

What I find most amusing about this whole situation is that the most dogmatic, evangelistic Christians that oppose evolutionary theory often don't even know why evolution poses such a threat to their belief system. The outrage surrounding it originally actually does make sense:

Christian: someone who believes that Jesus was the Christ/messiah/savior

To be a "savior" requires something to be saved from: the "original sin"

The original sin requires Adam and Eve.

Evolution pretty clearly opposes the existence of Adam and Eve, thereby theoretically disproving the divinity of Christ.
posted by kidsplateusa at 11:28 PM on August 4, 2000

I grew up in the Deep South, and I guess I just saw too many of those closed-minded, big-mouthed "Hellfire and Brimstone" pulpit-pounders as a kid. They ruined the entire concept of Christianity for me personally... (If those are God's "Choosen People"... the ones I'd have to share Heaven with for my entire "Eternal Life", I'll pass! I've known badgers that were better neighbors!)

All that aside, teaching the Christian idea of Creation in science class is just silly. Teach it in a Theology class, teach it in Sunday School, teach it in a Western Philosophy class... Right in the middle of Biology 101 is *not* the place for Bible study.

Equal time, you say? Okay... but you'd better be ready to give that 'equal time' to the other faiths you share this world with. All the good, God-fearing Christians may think they can leave us all to the devil when their Rapture comes along (After all, we aren't the Choosen People, so we'll be demon-bait once they're all whisked away-) but until then they have to put up with our company... Even in Science class.

posted by Brightfires at 12:05 AM on August 5, 2000

Are we ever going to stop having to defend evolution?

While it has been 140 years since Charles Darwin's Origin of the Species was first published, Christianity has been around for nearly two milleniums. Certainly nobody can expect a theory of science nor a faith to not have to stop defending itself. Standing up against ridiculing and name-calling in such situations with an open mind only makes the theory or faith stronger.

Also, it should be noted that evolution and Christianity do not have any inherent contradictions. While I am not a member of the Roman Catholic Church, I would like to mention that Pope John Paul II declared his acceptance of evolution a few years ago. It is only individuals who have disagreements with evolution or Christianity that stir up the commotion with these discussions.

Personally, I am commited to Jesus Christ, not evolution nor Christianity, but the God Himself. I have a faith and a relationship with Him. As far as evolution goes, I stand in the opinion that the theory should continue to be taught in schools to better understand ourselves and others, and the world around us. The theory has become a critical part of modern biological studies, and should not be ignored.
posted by crog at 12:14 AM on August 5, 2000

"In the process, hopefully, they may be equipt with enough mental tools to be able to handle difficult concepts like the practice of scientific enquiry and the theory of evolution."

I think you are right lagado. The majority of people in any culture would return to the primary explanation that works for people who share that perspective. I can see where the theory of evolution looks as much like a myth as any of the stories used by other cultures to explain how they came to be. It happens to be the one that I prefer and makes the most sense for me. Since I wasn't actually there for the moment that all the dinosuars turned into petroleum products, I accepted the story at face value, much the same way a fundamentalist might believe what they hear taught on CBN.

If you really think about the explanations of how we came to exist, they are pretty much fleeting moments in most people's education. The more important aspect is how we process the information taught, and how it influences our stewardship of our own individual time on earth. If creationism helps someone to be a better neighbor and landowner, I don't see the value in insisting they accept the scientific party line.
posted by Sqwerty at 12:18 AM on August 5, 2000

hmmm, not exactly what I meant, but let it pass.
posted by lagado at 12:31 AM on August 5, 2000

How to recognize Satan
"Hello, I am God"

Christians kill in the name of their Satan.
Only Christians live and go to heaven,
everyone else dies and goes to hell.
This is Christians love, so get down on your knees
before Jesus, son of Satan or else!
This is pro-life? pro-education? pro-love.
With friends like these, you don't need any enemys.

There is no getting along, no tolerance,
Satan said it and that's the final solution.
No math, no reason, no need to explore...
It sickens me As christians ride in the automobile,
watch the TV and fly in the air-o-plane, of which,
their amish true believers do not.
Christians believe that a man who has been dead for 2000 years is gonna rise up and take over the world.
And you, non-Christian, every man woman and child non-Chirstian, will die and go to hell in eternal damnation. Your salvation? To Worship Jesus Satan.
I agree with you christian, you haven't evolved.
For the rest of us, the evolution of theory is maintained in the imagination of ourselves manifest in a worldview of wonder and exploration.
I don't worship gravity, nor Newton.
I don't worship AC, nor Nikola Tesla.
I don't worship no theory, nor no theorem.
If tomorrow brings new insight and new information,
i will embrace it.

You weren't born wearing clothes.
You weren't born doing the internet.
Where did these things come from?

Evolution describes the process. The working theories may dominate the discussion. Certain scientist may find favor. As well as certain worldviews. But none of science dares claim that a God concept ordained it. Otherwise how could man fly. How could man exceed the speed of sound.

My christian brothers and sisters, turn away from your satan and step into the real world. You are eternal, not because satan promises you everlasting life in exchange for your soul and your will to power. You are eternal because there is nothing outside of Life. How could it be otherwise? Death is merely an illusion, because your satan blinds you from your multi-dimensional self. You choose satan to avoid responsibility for your own life and the choices you make. Even though you are unhappy with the state of the world, you hide your love away under the cloak of satanic, dogmatic rituals of self denial. Yours will be a long and winding road indeed. One that you must travel. I weep for you, for the pain you cause to yourself and others is not necessary. Give up Satan and it's false promises. You already have the things satan claims to provide for you if you but only give up your soul, your will to power and the imagination of yourself. You are already whole. For satan can't make 2+2=4, it already equals four.
Sorry for the math. I know you want faith and magic and illusion. But you can embrace wonderment instead. For 2+2=4 is ever the more beautiful, for truth is always more beautiful than a lie. The evolution of theory provides for growth. Satan provides only worship of itself. Oh satan, you are so wonderful in all your glory, look at me, your sheep. The evolution of theory asks us to join in the process, not of worship of false idols, but seek our true nature. Why waste time worshipping false idols and satanic dogma.

Evolve or go extinct
posted by meme at 4:13 AM on August 5, 2000

I agree with Brightfires.

Let's teach creationism in world history class where we also learn about other abhorrant ideas like slavery and the Holocaust. Context is everything.

posted by plaindude at 5:48 AM on August 5, 2000

Of course what I answered with is not specifically what you wrote lagado, because it is my reaction to your opinion.

There is incredible value to be found in learning both the practice of scientific enquiry and the theory of evolution. But at the same time it doesn't make evolution to only answer that provokes an inquisitive and responsible life. The reason to teach evolution is because it encourages respect for the planet and those who live here, not because it is one and only literal truth anymore than the story of Adam and Eve is. Evolution happens to be the one that makes the most consistent sense for me, but it doesn't shove out the value of metaphors found in other explanations.

That old fake Bruno Bettelheim pointed out the flaw in deifying science. He said something to the effect that many people who doubt or disbelieve in god create the same organizational structures within their belief in science, that religious people flock to churches to experience. People want answers and are prone to accepting them from any organization that reflects their world view while rejecting those that dismay them.

Science is not absolute, it is a form of inquiry that allows us to comprehend where we live and hopefully how to do it in a sensitive and responsible fashion. I don't see the value in vilifying alternative paths to that same goal.

I'd comment on the rigid flaws of our educational system, but that is a whole other tangent.
posted by Sqwerty at 10:05 AM on August 5, 2000

Sqwerty's arguments highlight the fundamental divisiveness of this issue, as does this whole thread.

What do the creationists want? An "alternative explanation." Explanation is such a loaded word. Do you mean just an alternative scientific explanation? Yes. Do you mean an alternative non-scientfic explanation? Yes. Huh?

I'm sorry, but the real answer is still very simple and very hard. Work harder in the schools to teach science better. Explain what science is and is not. Science is not anything its critics think it is. If schools leave children with the false impression that science is Absolute Truth, that's not the fault of science it is the fault of schools.

As I think Sqwerty's post makes clear, the deeper issue is not creation vs. evolution, it's religion vs. science. It's replacing science classes with courses reflecting the values of any group powerful enought to push their agenda.

Fundamentally, Sqwerty, the reason not to teach other types of explanations in science class is the same reason not to teach PE in shop class. Evolution is the currently accepted explanation for the things it explains, and presenting that evidence takes more room than Metafilter will ever hold (hey, Matt, want to dedicate some terabytes to this thread?). Go get a good biology textbook, or talk up a professor and get started. Get ready for some work.

But don't try to obliterate science education in this country under the guise of "fairness."
posted by mrmorgan at 7:01 PM on August 5, 2000

"You appear to have studied the matter superficially, and nevertheless you imagine that you can understand a book [the Torah] which has been the guide of past and present generations, when you for a moment withdraw from you lusts and appetites, and glance over it's contents as if you were reading a historical work or some poetic composition. Collect your thoughts and examine the matter carefully, for it is not to be understood as you at first sight think." --Moses Maimonides "The Guide for the Perplexed"

For those of you choosing to frame this discussion as evolution being or not being "fact", or creation being or not being "fact": I suggest that you withdraw from your suppositions and prejudices for a while and examine the matter carefully. There are underlying philosophical differences that lead to each explanation of the world we see around us. The discussion I see in this thread makes it clear to me that the participants are largely ignorant of those differences and are in any case speaking rashly about things when their words make it clear that they do not understand them.

The real problem with this country is not that one group is defending avolution or another is defending creation; the true problem is that neither has been taught how to *think*!
posted by CalvinTheBold at 7:38 PM on August 5, 2000

Calvin, the underlying philosophical differences aren't betweeen evolution and creationism; they are between science and religion. I've mentioned that. Lost in the stream, that's where I am.

But if the argument is between science and religion, then it is a much more fundamental argument than what to teach in biology class; it would encompass what to teach in any science class. And in fact if you can teach something that's not a science in a science class...then how about some wood shop during PE? Or some pottery in English class?

The Torah, or Genesis, or any creationism, is not science. Period. Evolution is. Period. Evolution is not a "fact" in the sense you mean it, but in the sense that science means it; a "fact" is something you're pretty darn sure about. But you could be wrong. For that matter, gravity could be wrong and it might be magic gremlins instead (accounts for all the observed data is it's a bunch of magic gremlins trying to trick us into believing in gravity...).

There's no doubt that it's a difference in worldviews. So what? Let's not talk about auto mechanics in comparative religion, and not talk about creationism in science class.
posted by mrmorgan at 10:49 PM on August 5, 2000

No one has the right to force another to believe in satan. Just because you worship your satan and your satanic dogma is the ritual practice of the majority of people does not mean it is comparible to science, which is the process of the evolution of theory.

Keep satan out of our schools!!!

What part of "say no to satan" don't you understand?

Creationism is from the christian satan.
Is satan wrong. Never!
So where lys the debate that satanic christians say they wish to engage in?
There is no debating satan. Satan is never wrong! satan claims to be God.
So christians know full well they wish not to debate, they want invited in to where your children are, because there can be no place permitted for your children to hear a debate. How dare we engage in debate. How dare we suggest that christian satanism is debatable, the christian satan is God, don't you know that! How dare you meet in a public place where children can hear an alternative and a readily admitted theory. How dare you suggest theory, when satanic christianity proclaims to have THE TRUTH.

There is no debating satan. Satan believes it is God. Satan demands the right to speak while satanic christians pass laws denying Atheits the right to speak. Satanic christians pass laws jailing people who dare speak evolution of theory alteratives. Satanic christians want to come to your school to deny debate. Would you invite someone to your house that everytime you disagreed with that person they told you to go to hell!! No?
Yet this is exactly what satanic christians tell you, to your face, when you disagree with them, "Go to Hell" they shout. Believe in our satan or go to hell. Believe in creationism or go to hell. Believe in the son of our satan, Jesus, or go to hell. Believe the world is flat or go to hell. Believe that the stars shine in heaven and we can't go there, how dare science call that place "space" and dare to attempt to go up there...go to hell you non-believer!! So honestly and rightly, where is the debate? Let believers in science debate. For all of science is debate. After all, the evolution of theory is just that, the acceptance of change. Do certain scientist resists change, yes. Do certain scientist wish us to believe they have the theory of everything, yes. Evolution is not claiming the power of God. Evolution is the explanation of a process, which itself is subject to the same evolutionary thought process.

Apes evolved from christians

I have evolved beyond belief. There is an alternative to satan's god concept, there is an alternative to satan's god theory. Therefore, if it is possible for life to exsist without satan, then satan's claim to be god falls apart. So you see, there is no debate. Satan's outlandish claim to be God forbids the very debate satanic christians falsely say they wish to engage in is not possible. For they bring to the table the impossible claim that their satan is God. If they want the right to join the debate of theories, then they must be willing to call their God and creationism what it really is, a theory. If they wish to open the debate with the statement that what they are about to present to the debate of theories is a theory, then there can be debate. But if they stand there and present creationism as the word of God, then we being moral people must denie satan a forum in which good people debate theories.
When a satanic christian begins calling their satanic sunday morning rituals theories, we would be required to allow them to the debate of the evolution of theory, which at it's core, is a debate of theories/. But what satanic christian would allow satan their God, to be called a theory?
If christians want to debate, then let them debate Jews and Moslems and/or any of the other 5,000 satans of the world. Scientific debate is for those who want to discuss the evolution of theory. You don't invite someone talented in Math to a spelling bee. You don't ask someone who is a spelling bee champion to a math debate. And you don't invite satan worshippers to a science debate.
No, we don't allow the person who was taken aboard a UFO to our schools to tell us how the high commander created the world. Though anyone is free to believe it, we are not required to teach it to our children in our schools. Is evolution as taught today wrong? See, we can debate this question all day and all night, because we are debating a theory. Science however small you think it to be, is debate. Science no matter how selfish and arrogant it's scientists, is mere debate. And that when scientist said that man could not fly, their theory was proven wrong. But when God said man could not fly, it put the blame on it's satanic followers, and denied saying it. It could not do otherwise, because satan wants to be worshipped as god and God is never wrong.
So if we can only know god through the people who claim to be of God and these people are wrong sometimes, then why is the bible, written by man, proclaimed to be written by god, claimed to be the word of God, when satan admits it's followers are ignorant people who do not understand anything it says? If christians can be wrong, can sometimes misunderstand their satanic god, then why read the bible written by human beings who admittedly at times do not understand their satanic god.
If satanic christians are admitting with creationism that their God is merely a god concept and a mere theory, then let us celebrate this new found reality and allow them to bring their god theory to the debate of theories which is the evolution of theory. So tell me christian, are you ready to admit your god, is merely theory? Then welcome to the day of reason. I rejoice in your new found sense of reality. Welcome to the debate of theories. Bring your theory to the table and we shall debate it. We shall tax it. We shall finally take "In satan we trust" off our money. We shall finally eliminate your eternal damnation of others which you use as fear to the young ones among us. We shall finally expose your "Family Values" as satanic rituals. We shall finally shed light on your blood bath of satanic worship. We shall finally have you admit that your creationism and your satan is merely theory and as a theory, may be utterly and totally Wrong!!!!
The armour of the reptile lys in it's underbelly. And your snake will be exposed when you bring your theory to debate. When the evolution of theory debates the God of theory, you will be seen as the pathedic small minded hypocrite that you are. Welcome to the world of debate. You have finally evolved and proven the point matter of factly. Your children will see you exposed by debate and be ashamed that you have lied to them. For they may be able to excuse you for lying to them about Santa Claus, the easter bunny and your belief in democracy, but your sacraficing your children to satan?
Welcome to the debate, for by joining the debate, by crying because the debate exsists, you expose your satan and your satanic rituals. Now the whole world sees your satanic dogmatic thought process. Science wins because science is the quest for debate. And since you wish to debate, you are admitting science and reducing your so called God, to the reality of reason. Your god is merely theory and therefore is not God at all, but the satanic application of the preversion of science. Christianity is the worship of theory and therefore becomes satanic, crushing debate. So if you wish to debate, to call creationism a theory, we can begin now, and we have already won by your mere action of joining the debate.
We have known all along your satanic ways, as you can not get along with each other, let alone the world. There is a church on every corner and each corner church claims that all the other corner churches are wrong!!! I've been and heard you tell me, the church down on the other corner doesn't teach the bible but we do. You haven't even read the bible. You pick and you choose certain passages, because if you read the whole of the bible, you'd be discussed and ashamed of yourself!! Your theory of god is not God, but a god concept, a mere theory. Again, welcome to the real world of reason. A world where theories and the debate of theories are allowed to take place. We've had a name for it all along, it's called the evolution of theory. Welcome to evolution christian, we've missed you.

say no to satan,

posted by meme at 9:05 PM on August 6, 2000

Um, okay.
posted by mrmorgan at 7:16 AM on August 7, 2000

"The Torah, or Genesis, or any creationism, is not science. Period. Evolution is. Period. "

nobody has stated why evolution is science period and "creationism" isn't science period.

to wiremommy:

"I could bash on your 'arguments' some more, but why bother? Alethe, your statements are so vague as to be meaningless. "

why bother indeed...

"I suspect what you mean is, it's true to you and will remain so, no matter what I or anyone else says."


"But when you ask us to "prove" evolutionary theory to you and you don't even understand what a theory is, you can't expect us to take your 'arguments' on behalf of Creationism seriously."

i was never arguing for creationism...but does it not also fit the defintion for theory :
"a system of assumptions, accepted principles, and rules of procedure"
do not theologians deal with/in these, or do they go about their research in a different manner?

"I've read Biblical scholarship claiming that the story of Jesus' resurrection was written several years after the crucifixion[...].You say the Bible is tested every day and remains true, yet these scholars would obviously disagree with you."

and all scientists agree with evolution? your point is irrelevant - truth remains true whether it is agreed upon or not.

it is obvious that a debate such as this does not / cannot reach any conclusion. the way the arguments have been framed - without the answering of any questions of an opposing position - neither argument can be argued against.
it is what you believe, and as long as it remains so, no progress will be made.
posted by alethe at 11:00 AM on August 7, 2000

I dunno, the fact that evolution is built out of observation and testing? That's science. The fact that creationism demands the existence of a supernatural agent? That's not science.

I agree that these kinds of arguments cannot ever reach conclusion, and it doesn't really matter if they do here on Metafilter. School board elections being another matter altogether.
posted by mrmorgan at 8:36 AM on August 9, 2000

« Older Michael Moore is my hero.   |   Bill Gates and Standards. Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments