San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas
Email Email | Print Print --

March 15th, 2010
Freethought San Marcos: Changing American’s distrust of evolution

Freethought San Marcos: A column
by LAMAR W. HANKINS

Evolution is science, but most Americans don’t understand it. Only 39% of Americans accept the theory of evolution, while nearly all probably accept the theory of gravity. Most Americans don’t seem to understand that calling a scientific concept a theory doesn’t mean that it is unproved. In fact, the proof for evolution is overwhelming. Evolutionary geneticist Jerry Coyne, in his book (just out in paperback) “Why Evolution Is True,” discusses the known facts that help intellectually honest readers understand that the theory of evolution is indeed proven beyond any reasonable doubt.

While I am not a scientist, I have an understanding of science that most so-called cultural/religious conservatives, like those who make up half of the Texas Board of Education, apparently do not have. Science, by its very nature, is a field of study and inquiry based on proofs and falsification of ideas. It is not necessary to require that biology teachers in Texas schools teach about the “strengths and weaknesses” of evolution, as half of the State Board wants them to do. It is the nature of science to engage subjects based on the truth or falsity of a proposition.

Many people doubt evolution’s validity about the origin of humans because it is impossible to watch human evolution in the span of a lifetime, or even 10,000 lifetimes, but there are still ways to see evolution happening in a short span of time. Take the staphylococcus bacterium that causes infections that plague medical facilities. As Coyne explains, in the early 1940s penicillin was a powerhouse at curing staph infections. But now, 95% of staph infections aren’t affected by penicillin. This resistance to penicillin by staph bacteria is an example of the evolution concept known as natural selection. The evolution of the staph microbe allows it to resist the curative effects of penicillin. As Coyne explains, “mutations occurred in individual bacteria that gave them the ability to destroy the drug (penicillin).” As the bacterium reproduced, only those bacteria that were resistant to penicillin survived, making penicillin ineffective in killing the new generation.

Another commonly known adaptation through natural selection is insects that are resistant to DDT and other pesticides. Gardeners and farmers know, also, about other insects that have adapted to other pesticides and pesky plants that have adapted to herbicides. As Coyne points out, “fungi, worms, and algae have evolved resistance to heavy metals that have polluted their environment,” allowing them to survive these manmade poisons.

We are able to see for ourselves, during our lifetimes, examples of species that made evolutionary changes when faced with natural challenges. To do this, we have to find species that have short generation times. The most famous example in scientific circles is the evolution of the beak in a bird found in the Galapagos Islands. The medium ground finch was studied for several decades during and after a severe drought. The finch normally fed on soft seeds, but the drought left mostly hard seeds as food. During just one generation, through natural selection, the beak and body size increased by 10%. Only those finches that had larger beaks naturally were able to get adequate food (from the larger and harder seeds). Those finches without powerful enough beaks to eat the hard seed died out without reproducing. The larger-beaked finches were able to eat and reproduce offspring with similar large beaks. The ones with larger and more powerful beaks were more successful thriving and reproducing, and predominated through natural selection.

A complete explanation of this evolution story is reported in the book by Jonathan Weiner, “The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time.” And a report of 150 cases of observed evolution in a variety of species can be found in “Natural Selection in the Wild“ by biologist John Endler.

Most people, including those who oppose evolution, know about the fossil record. Of course, the fossil record is incomplete, for natural reasons. Only species with certain characteristics can be preserved as fossils. And the conditions must be just right for a species to be preserved in sediment that becomes rock over millions of years.

As Coyne explains, for a fossil to be formed, the dead animal or plant must be in water, sink to the bottom, and be quickly covered by sediment before it decays or is scattered by scavengers. Dead plants and land-dwelling creatures rarely are found on the bottom of water sources like a lake or ocean. Most fossils, then, are marine organisms. To form a fossil, the hard parts of the organism become infiltrated or replaced by dissolved minerals, which becomes compressed into rock by an over-burden of sediment. Soft parts of plants and animals aren’t easily fossilized, so many species don’t become fossils. “[W]orms, jellyfish, bacteria, and fragile creatures like birds are much rarer (as fossils), as are terrestrial species compared to aquatic ones.”

With ten million species now on the earth and an estimated 17 million to 4 billion to have once lived on the earth, we will never find fossils of all species that have ever lived. We have found only 250,000 different fossil species, an inadequate sample for sure, but enough to figure out how the evolution of species proceeded and how major groups split off from one another.

Coyne explains the modern theory of evolution with one long sentence: “Life on earth evolved gradually beginning with one primitive species–perhaps a self-replicating molecule–that lived more than 3.5 billion years ago; it then branched out over time, throwing off many new and diverse species; and the mechanism for most (but not all) of evolutionary change is natural selection.”

In addition to genetic change over time, usually a great deal of time, mutations develop in response to evolutionary pressures. Such change over time is called gradualism. It may take hundreds of thousands of generations, even millions of generations to develop the distinct species we see today. This development occurs through another concept of evolution termed splitting, or speciation. A fourth axiom of evolution is common ancestry, which can be determined through fossil evidence or DNA evidence, which Darwin did not have available over 100 years ago, when he developed his theory.

The fifth part of Darwin’s theory is natural selection, the concept discussed above. Natural selection does not produce the fittest, as is commonly thought, but it produces the fitter–improvements over what came before. And then there are other causes for evolutionary change, such as random changes caused by different families having different numbers of offspring, which has nothing to with the adaptation caused by natural selection. And there are other factors, such as genetic drift, which is a random change in the frequency of genes in an isolated group that is not caused by natural selection.

In 1962, when I began college at a small Methodist-related college, my biology teacher, while offering no apologies for teaching evolution as fact, also suggested that there was no inconsistency between belief in God and evolution. Belief in God is based on faith. Evolution is based on science; that is, it is testable and permits making verifiable predictions. With evolution, it is possible, in Coyne’s words, “to make observations about the real world that either support it or disprove it.” Further, “a good theory makes predictions about what we should find if we look more closely at nature. And if those predictions are met, it gives us more confidence that the theory is true.”

The difference between evolution theory and “intelligent design theory” or “creationism,” as it was originally called, is that evolution is subject to testing and falsification. These faith-based theories are not. No one can test the belief that God created the earth and all of its inhabitants in six days 10,000 years ago. What we know is that the available empirical evidence establishes that organisms have existed on earth for 3.5 billion years.

The first organisms were simple photosynthetic bacteria that were followed two billion years later by more complex organisms. About 600 million years ago, simple multicelled organisms developed (including worms, jellyfish, sponges). Terrestrial plants and tetrapods appeared about 400 million years ago, and then came amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals, insects millions of years later. Humans appeared on the earth about 7 million years ago. All of the evolution evidence supports the view that humans were and are subject to the same evolutionary processes that affect all other species. Yet, 100 years after publication of “The Origin of Species” and 85 years after the Scopes trial, 61% of Americans do not accept evolution.

Coyne recognizes that something else besides intellectual objection is going on with people unable to accept evolution, though they may not disagree with the science involved: “To these folks, evolution raises such profound questions of purpose, morality, and meaning that they just can’t accept it no matter how much evidence they see. It’s not that we evolved from apes that bothers them so much; it’s the emotional consequences of facing that fact.” Such people worry about what evolution means for morality and values, and for their own humanity. Perhaps such concerns can be addressed elsewhere, but they don’t belong in science class.

Because evolution is science, there is no need to require high school biology teachers to teach alternative, non-scientific theories about the origin of species. The very nature of science makes such a requirement superfluous. Coyne’s 250-page paperback covers well the vast proofs for evolution and is written to appeal to a wide audience. Particularly fascinating is Coyne’s evolutionary explanations for many anomalies in the structure of various species, such as the unnecessarily long vagus nerve in mammals and the prostate gland. And his discussion of vestiges and atavisms, while not new, take on more significance when placed in context. One fact of embryology that predates Darwin’s work is that all vertebrates start out looking like fish embryos. It was Darwin who recognized how evolution explained the significance of this similar appearance of vertebrate embryos–all vertebrates (fish, reptiles, birds, amphibians, and mammals) have a common ancestry.

Coyne wrote the book to help people become familiar with the evidence for evolution, to reduce the extraordinary distrust among Americans about the subject. It remains to be seen if he has succeeded, but at the very least, Coyne has produced a very readable primer about evolution, one that should help Americans gain a better understanding of evolution, as well as science in general.

[Coyne will participate in an interdisciplinary panel discussion at Texas State University on Tuesday, March 23, 12:30 p.m., in Room 132 of the Psychology Building. Participants in the panel include Harvey Ginsberg (Psychology), Peter Hutcheson (Philosophy), Kerrie Lewis (Anthropology), and Rebecca Raphael (Philosophy & Religious Studies). On the evening of March 23, Coyne will speak in the Alkek Teaching Theater at 7 pm. Both events are open to the public.]

© Freethought San Marcos, Lamar W. Hankins

Email Email | Print Print

--

71 thoughts on “Freethought San Marcos: Changing American’s distrust of evolution

  1. How did these multi-celled organisms get here ? If the atheistic evolutionists would at least allow the theory that an inteligent designer possible placed all these different species and cells on this planet after creating such a perfect environment for them to exist and evolve, maybe you wouldn’t look like a bunch of atheistic jerks.
    God made the earth in 6 days, however his definiton of time is different than ours. It could have been 6 billion of our days and felt like 6 seconds to him.

  2. Lamar W. Hankins, You wrote a very clear article. Extending beyond Coyne’s argument is the case for science, and faith. Some suggested reading written by Christians, for Christians would be;

    Ayala, Francisco
    2007 “Darwin’s Gift: To Science and Religion” (Washington DC: Joseph Henry Press- National Academies Press). Ayala is a professor of biology, and a former RC Priest.

    Kitcher, Phillip
    2007 “Living With Darwin: Evolution, Design, and the Future of Life” Oxford University Press

    Miller, Keith B. (editor)
    2003 “Perspectives on an Evolving Creation” Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing

    Ken Miller
    2008 “Only a Theory” New York: Viking Press

    Young, Davis A., Ralf F. Stearley
    2008 “The Bible, Rocks and Time: Geological Evidence for the Age of the Earth” Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press

    For examples of why creationism is very poor theology, I recommend;

    Frye, Roland Mushat (editor)
    1983 “Is God a Creationist?: The Religious Case Against Creation-Science” New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, Inc.

    Haught, John F.
    2001 “Responses to 101 Questions on God and Evolution” New York: Paulist Press. (Haught is a Catholic theologian who testified as a plaintiff expert in the Dover, Pa “Intelligent Design” trial.)

    Hyers, Conrad
    1984 “The Meaning of Creation: Genesis and Modern Science” Atlanta: John Knox Press (Conrad Hyers has served as Professor of the History of Religion and Chair of the Department of Religion at both Beloit College and at Gustavus Adolphus College. He is also an ordained Presbyterian minister)

    Walton, John H.
    2009 “The Lost World Of Genesis One: ancient cosmology and the origins” Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press

  3. Rick- That’s great that God has confided in you what his defintion of time is, how it differs from ours, and how he feels about all of this! Keep up the good work!

  4. Hmmm, I tend to lend credence to evolution, I am not Christian, and I am not an atheist.

    Interestingly enough some of the “tales” of my faith tend to have some basis in fact. One example is Homo Neanderthalensis; back in the 70s I knew Neanderthals were at best “first cousins” of Homo Sapiens Sapiens who had at times intermingled with their contemporaries and passed on some of their heritage.

    Years later scientists doing DNA analysis “proved” part of what I already knew, i.e.: Homo Neanderthalensis was not the direct primary ancestor of Modern Humanity. At some point in the future some other analysis on ancient remains will arrive at the novel fact that there was some mingling of a few isolated Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons — a point now disputed by many in the scientific community because they haven’t seen “enough evidence”. This is notwithstanding the fact that skeletal remains have been found, dated to the period of time in question, and are neither Neanderthal nor Cro-Magnon but a curious in-between.

    Interestingly enough, some on the state school board committee for text books who most vehemently push their agenda to “properly edumicate” the children of others would violently protest if some of what I hold to be self-evident were taught as fact or an alternative point of view.

    The problem isn’t evolution as a scientific theory, nor is it intelligent creationism. The problem too many people have with accepting evolution as a viable viewpoint is the need to feel special and to feel apart from and above any other life-forms on the planet. Only then can people “prove” they have a religious mandate to use, abuse, and profit from the world around them.

    The tale of life on this planet is longer and stranger than most care to accept — any other evidence which may challenge their paradigm has to be wrong so for them the simple format is better. It doesn’t matter how much diversity there was before the Pre-Cambrian die off any more than the loss of diversity now has been termed “the death of birth”. What matters is being special and above any other form of life.

    The people picking the text books need to understand that the time is approaching when the majority will not be theirs. How will society (and history) look on them when other voices, other views, and other ideas can change the books children have to learn from?

  5. Folks should understand there’s the observed FACT of evolution which is not the same thing as the THEORY about how evolution works. Many different sciences – not just biology but astronomy and geology and physics and others – have interlocking theories which reinforce each other in support of evolution.

    Folks should also understand that the willfully ignorant and scientifically illiterate supporters of the pseudoscience of intelligent design creationism are doing everything in their power to dumb down and destroy science because it disagrees with and disproves their millennia-old creation mythology. Intelligent design creationism makes no more sense than the “theory” that the sun goes around the earth every day.

  6. To date, 12,000+ educated Christian CLERGY have signed the Butler College Clergy Letter which says:

    “We the undersigned, Christian clergy from many different traditions, believe that the timeless truths of the Bible and the discoveries of modern science may comfortably coexist. We believe that the theory of evolution is a foundational scientific truth, one that has stood up to rigorous scrutiny and upon which much of human knowledge and achievement rests. To reject this truth or to treat it as “one theory among others” is to deliberately embrace scientific ignorance and transmit such ignorance to our children. ”

    Isn’t that nice? Mainstream Christians who don’t feel the need to define themselves by self-imposed ignorance, no anti-science lies, no pseudoscience nonsense from the Institute for Creation Research or the Discovery Institute.

    Just good, intelligent, educated Christian leaders who want our children to be taught the truth.

  7. Lamar starts by saying, “intellectually honest readers understand that the theory of evolution is indeed proven beyond any reasonable doubt.”. Typical for Lamar. If you don’t agree with me, then you are ‘intellectually dishonest’. That’s a load of crap, Lamar. And you know it. Micro-evolution has been observed. Macro-evolution has not. Really big difference, Lamar.

    Einstein said, “Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind.”

    Darwinism stems from dialectical materialism, the philosophy of Marxism. Communism/socialism is a religion that demands blind faith and obedience. Darwinism is an offshoot of that false religion. It, too, demands blind faith, and its disciples persecute anyone who believes differently.

    Our children deserve better than being brainwashed by their schools into believing a false religion is based on fact. They deserve to be told that evolution is nothing more than a theory that has never been proven, and allowed to consider alternatives to that theory.

    Scientists in China have discovered ancient bacteria that cast doubt on Darwin’s theory, and have published papers stating this. One of them, Jian Yuan Chan, said, “In China, we can criticize Darwin, but we cannot criticize the government. In the US you can criticize the government, but you cannot criticize Darwin.”

  8. Cody, to address your points:

    1) We don’t have to observe something to know it happened. We don’t have to observe a girl having sex to determine who the father of her child was. The judge and jury don’t have to observe a crime to convict the criminal. We have evidence that proves it beyond a reasonable doubt, exactly as Lamar said.

    2) What Einstein said has NOTHING to do with evolutionary theory – Einstein accepted the truth of evolution.

    3) Darwin’s theories stem from Darwin’s observations. Whether they come from materialism or not does not in any way affect whether the observations and resulting theory are true. It is a logical fallacy to say evolutionary theory is wrong because it is materialist. The physics that underlies the internet we’re communicating on is “materialist” and it seems to work.

    4) As for your China reference – you seem to be using the spelling of JY Chen that is common on creationist quote sites. So by not having the actual name of the scientist, you don’t realize that his research has found bilateral body forms tens of millions of years BEFORE the Cambrian Explosion. Chen has demonstrated that the Cambrian wasn’t an explosion at all. The “explosion” was just a result of a spotty fossil record. So Chen and the Chinese have quite nicely destroyed the idea that complex creatures suddenly appeared in the Cambrian.

    I’m sure you’re a nice person, Cody, but your post was a complete multi-system failure. I recommend taking a step back and doing what good scientists do – make sure your personal beliefs and biases aren’t clouding your ability to interpret the facts.

  9. Lamar starts off by stating that 39% of Americans believe the theory of evolution and then states that it is proven beyond all reasonable doubt. Really? Are 61% of Americans unreasonable? Who decides what doubt is reasonable? Do only Lamar, his posters and those in the 39% get to determine what doubt is reasonable? It is not a good way to start an argument to paint those who do not accept your position as unreasonable, uninformed or less intelligent than you.

    Maybe there is some middle ground — schools should not be the battle ground for this debate. Just as Lamar doesn’t like the direction the schools have gone on this issue since the 61% started winning elections, the 61% weren’t very excited 20 years ago when the minority determined the curriculum. As long as the public schools remain at the center of the cultural battles, more parents will find other places for their children.

  10. TO Cody:

    In 1831, Darwin began the research that culminated in the publication of “The Origin of Species” in 1859. Manuscripts of portions of his research and ideas had been shared with others in the intervening years. He waited 20 years to publish his ideas publicly, which were formed before Marx’s publication of the “Communist Manifesto” in 1848. I have found no evidence that the naturalist science of Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace (a more or less simultaneous discoverer of natural selection) was influenced by the political and economic ideas of Karl Marx, though there is some evidence that Marx was impressed with Darwin’s research, which he mentioned in a letter to Engels in 1862, and also critical of it. While Stephen Jay Gould has compared Darwinism with Marxism, I don’t think that Gould believes that Darwin’s scientific research was influenced by Marx. If you have some evidence that Marx’s ideas influenced Darwin’s naturalistic observations and research that began on the voyage of the HMS Beagle in 1831, please share it. What Marx’s ideas could possibly have to do with Darwin’s observations about the size of the beaks of the different species of Geospiza (birds) he encountered in the Galapagos Archipeligo, I cannot fathom.

  11. I always liked the arguement: which was on earth first, the chicken or the egg. Thinking about it always leads me to believe something had to put that first chicken here because an egg wouldn’t hatch without the warmth of a chicken to make it grow.
    If you honestly believe one cell split and grew and then it had some offspring that was a different species, well good luck with that. I will continue to believe that the over 2 million different species that have been identified on this planet were created by someone awesome. The first time I see a frog give birth to a cow, I will say I was wrong and you were right.

  12. John McGlothlin asks: “Are 61% of Americans unreasonable?”

    John, people that reject evolution of species and common descent (1) are unreasonable, or (2) are not educated on the subject.

    Religiously-based objection to the age of the Earth is unreasonable. Religiously-based objection to the speed of light and stellar distances is unreasonable. Religiously-based objection to the relative positions of the Sun and Earth are unreasonable. Religiously-based objections to the fundamentals of evolutionary theory are unreasonable.

    Now, it is not surprising that people are uneducated on the subject, given how hard it is to actually TEACH evolutionary theory in this country. We’ve matured to the point where we’re usually allowed to teach geology and astronomy, but American society still has a problem with evolutionary theory.

    Witchcraft never actually existed. But 500 years ago, nearly everyone believed that witches lived nearby and walked the streets.

    Popularity doesn’t make fact.

  13. Rick said: “If you honestly believe one cell split and grew and then it had some offspring that was a different species, well good luck with that.”

    See, this is the problem. Rick has a very WRONG idea of how evolution works, so of COURSE he doesn’t believe it. He was never properly TAUGHT. And now he’s probably so committed to not believing his wrong version of evolution that it would be nearly impossible to teach him the right version.

    This is what happens to our kids when, for ideological reasons, we deny them a fact-based, evidence-based education in science and critical thinking.

  14. Frankly, the only part of this discussion that I find remotely interesting, is how it plays in the schools.

    Personally, I’d like to see us teaching our kids to think. Perhaps teach them proper methods for scientific research, experiments, etc. and let them debate amongst themselves, the merits of evolution. Present both all sides and let them pick them apart.

    Throw in a little philosophy and let them debate the biblical side as well.

    I think it is far more important, to teach them to think for themselves and to solve problems, than it is to simply program them to believe what we believe, without their own foundations for those beliefs.

    An added benefit, is that you tend to find greater tolerance when discussing matters with people who have examined all sides objectively and reached their own conclusions. They have a better understanding of the other sides and are less prone to angry, knee-jerk reactions.

    Of course, I am going out on a limb, assuming that we really place a value on tolerance, or that we want people thinking for themselves.

  15. Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions.
    – Albert Einstein

  16. Hey I am just quoting your wonder boy Darwin, he is your champion not mine, He can’t explain the origin on life, he just has a theory of what happened after life magically arrived on the planet.

    It took the conceptual might of Charles Darwin to imagine a biologically plausible scenario for life’s emergence. In an oft quoted letter, written in 1871, Darwin suggested that life arose in a “warm little pond” where a rich brew of organic chemicals, over eons of time, might have given rise to the first simple organisms. For the next century, Darwin’s agreeable hypothesis, expanded upon by other theorists, dominated thinking on the subject. Researchers decided that the “pond” was really the ocean and began trying to figure out where the building blocks of life could have come from.

    In 1953 University of Chicago graduate student Stanley Miller provided the first widely accepted experimental evidence. In a glass jar he created a comic-strip version of primitive earth. Water for the ocean. Methane, ammonia and hydrogen for the atmosphere. Sparks for lightning and other forms of electrical discharge. One week later he found in his jar a sticky goop of organic chemicals, including large quantities of amino acids, Lego blocks for the proteins that make up cells. Case closed, or nearly so, many scientists believed.

    Now this textbook picture of how life originated, so familiar to college students just a generation ago, is under serious attack. New insights into planetary formation have made it increasingly doubtful that clouds of methane and ammonia ever dominated the atmosphere of primitive earth. And although Miller’s famous experiment produced the components of proteins, more and more researchers believe that a genetic master molecule — probably RNA — arose before proteins did.

    Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,979365-3,00.html#ixzz0iLrRfCpi

  17. “How did these multi-celled organisms get here ? If the atheistic evolutionists would at least allow the theory that an inteligent designer possible placed all these different species and cells on this planet after creating such a perfect environment for them to exist and evolve, maybe you wouldn’t look like a bunch of atheistic jerks.
    God made the earth in 6 days, however his definiton of time is different than ours. It could have been 6 billion of our days and felt like 6 seconds to him.”

    Atheists by definition do not believe in God or any kind of higher power so how could they possibly allow that an inteligent designer exists. Basically if you are Christian you are going to by definition NOT agree with an atheist about the spiritual nature of man. This is were you pretty much have to agree to disagree b/c there is no middle ground.

    There are creation myths in all cultures, What makes you so sure that Christian Creationism is right?

    and I’d love to see the blood test that proves God is male. Hmm or is that based on your faith?

  18. Oh PS RickK, I do understand some evolution exists. I merely disagree with those who think that an intelligent designer of all life is impossible.

    I have problems with teachers who like to go overboard and produce evidence of evolution as proof God does not exist.

    I was “TAUGHT” at Southwest Texas State University and had several atheistic professor try to force me into memorize their b.s. theories as to why God does not exist and reproduce them during tests. I refused and dropped the courses. If these “educators” wouldn’t resort to attempted brainwashing maybe I would give them the time of day. But I graduated and said who cares if evolution exist or not. I kept my faith, my 1400 Sat score, and my 80 k a year job.

    Evolution teaching is about as valuable as basket weaving in this survival of the fittest world. Actually I might buy a basket.
    I won’t give you two cents for evolution’s origen of life ideas though.

  19. Rick – first, the origin of the first life is NOT the foundation of evolutionary theory. Evolutionary theory has two main components:

    1) How species form:

    evolution = replication + variation + selection

    We’ve watched this happen. And we have the fossil record to provide glimpses of what happened in the past.

    2) Common descent – that all species originate from a common ancestor.

    DNA proves this. Darwin would have LOVED to understand genetics. But his theories did a pretty good job of predicting that something like DNA would be discovered that drives heredity and variation.

    The origin of the first life was NOT the central theme of “Origin of the Species”. It was a matter of only brief speculation.

    Now, if you REALLY want to talk about the origin of the first life, that is a fascinating discussion. But it’s a big topic, and just as evolutionary theory has advanced since Darwin, so abiogenesis research has advanced since Miller-Urey.

    Wikipedia does a decent job of outlining the current discussions of “abiogenesis” – look it up. I personally think the Lincoln & Joyce experiments are really interesting because they show how evolutionary forces (#1 above) work even in pre-living organic molecules.

    This is fascinating stuff, and should be reviewed with an open mind. If you are a Christian and are worried about what studying this science will do to your faith, then I recommend you approach it as the 12,000 clergy above would tell you to: that you are studying God’s mechanisms. The Bible was written to be understood by people 2000 years ago who had not even a tiny fraction of knowledge of nature that you have available to you. The Bible’s stories suited those people. You have the chance to learn much much more about how things actually work. And you don’t have to abandon your faith to do so.

  20. Rick said: “But I graduated and said who cares if evolution exist or not.”

    Well, you seem to care as you’re actively commenting against evolution.

    But, you can certainly take that approach as well. Choose to remain ignorant of the topic, and just declare “mission accomplished”.

  21. I am not commenting against evolution, I am poking holes in part of its origin of life theories. If you can’t explain how life got here in the first place, you have no right to say that the theory of intelligent design should not be taught along side evolution.

  22. Darwinism is a matter of scientific inquiry.

    Intelligent design is a matter of religious belief.

    One belongs in the science class.

    The other belongs in Sunday School.

    “I kept my faith, my 1400 Sat score, and my 80 k a year job.”

    Surely you can figure out which is which.

  23. So what do you tell the student when he asks where life came from in the beginning ? Do you offer any ideas ? Can all agree: life started either on this planet by a creator,
    in a an alien ship or
    in a “warm little pond” where a rich brew of organic chemicals, over eons of time.

    If you say the first idea, oh your teachin scripture that can’t be allowed, Sunday School only ! Seperation of church and state ! God does not exist blah blah blah.

    If evolutionist did not attack the simple discussion of where life may have come from and could possibly been from something greater than ourselves, there would be a discussion.

    Instead its all evolution, no genetics and no God.

    You can’t have it both ways. If you want to be a well rounded educated person you need to discuss both sides of the arguement and let the student decide if you are full of it or not.

  24. Rick said: “you have no right to say that the theory of intelligent design should not be taught along side evolution.”

    Well, yes I do have a right. I have the right to demand that scientific theories are taught in science class, and that religious hypotheses with no evidence are not.

    “Intelligent Design” (ID) is not a scientific theory. It has none of the characteristics of a scientific theory. Scientific theories include Evolutionary Theory, the Germ Theory of Disease, the Theory of Relativity, Tectonic Plate Theory and Atomic Theory. All of these theories describe mechanisms, have tests and data to support them, have tests that could disprove them if the tests failed (are falsifiable), and they make accurate predictions.

    ID is not observable, is not falsifiable (there are no tests that can either prove or disprove it), it offers no mechanism (other than divine magic), and it makes no predictions.

    So it is not a scientific theory.

    But this isn’t just my opinion, it is the conclusion of conservative, Republican, religious, Bush-appointed Judge John E. Jones III in his opinion of the Kitzmiller v Dover trial. Intelligent Design was proved to be a re-lableling of Christian creationism.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kitzmiller_v._Dover_Area_School_District#Responses

  25. So Darwin’s from GOO to You theory is perfectly acceptable to be taught in science but all others must be censored ?

  26. Rick asked reasonably: “So what do you tell the student when he asks where life came from in the beginning ?”

    I’d say we don’t yet know, and we may never know all the details.

    I’d say some people are uncomfortable with not KNOWING absolutely, so instead of living with the unknown, they make up a religious answer that is consistent with their particular faith.

    But I’d say what we DO know is that there are several interesting lines of research including: the RNA world hypothesis, the deep sea vent theory, iron-sulfur world theory, radioactive beach hypothesis, self-replicating molecules, and the difference between the DNA-first model versus the Metabolism-first models.

    Here is a great summary about what we HAVE learned from Origin of Life research:
    http://pandasthumb.org/archives/2008/07/what-critics-of.html

    All of this is material for some REALLY interesting discussions with those students. And it generates a LOT more discussion than: “God did it”

  27. Reading Wesley Smith: Why the Darwin Debate Matters
    If the intelligent-design side in the evolution debate doesn’t receive the support you might expect from people who should be allies, that may be because they haven’t grasped why the whole thing matters so urgently. I got an email recently from a journalist whom I’d queried on the subject. “All told, I’m on the ID side of the debate,” he wrote, “but it isn’t a pressing interest for me.”
    Anyone who similarly doesn’t quite “get it” should read our friend and colleague Wesley J. Smith’s new and important book on the animal-rights movement, A Rat Is a Pig Is a Dog Is a Boy
    ( http://www.amazon.com/Rat-Pig-Dog-Boy-If you follow conservative journalism, you’ve likely heard about the book from the contentious deliberation it has received in National Review and on NR’s website. This started with a review by speechwriter Matthew Scully, similarly a friend and a gifted polemicist. Scully is the vegetarian and champion of animals who, for the 2008 Republican convention, wrote the best speech ever given by that great white hunter, Governor Palin.
    As a reviewer for Wesley Smith’s book, Matthew Scully was a surprising choice. Scully’s own book, Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy ( http://www.amazon.com/Dominion-Power-Suffering-Animals-Mercy/dp/0312319738/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1268435873&sr=1-1 ), received a wounding review ( http://www.discovery.org/a/1281 ) in The Weekly Standard some years back from none other than Wesley Smith and it comes in for criticism again in Smith’s book. I can’t understand NR’s decision to match these two valued friends of the magazine against each other. Matthew wrote, I am sorry to say, a distorting and unfair review of Wesley’s book, to which NR then let Wesley reply, generating additional discussion on the website but less illumination than the subject deserves.
    So let’s highlight Smith’s contribution to public understanding of why the Darwin debate matters. His recounting of terrorist and other heinous acts by animal-rights extremists (even grave-robbing!), his exploration of the wicked views of “personhood” theorist Peter Singer, author of A Darwinian Left and the manifesto Animal Liberation — these tell us about the leading edge of what you might call the animalist view, equating humans with animals.

    Professor Singer, bioethicist at Princeton University, assesses the worth of an individual living creature by cognitive measures — rationality and self-consciousness. Merely being human confers no special right to life on a creature. In Singer’s hands this idea become a license for murder: A chimpanzee, dog, or pig…will have a higher degree of self-awareness and a greater capacity for meaningful relations with others than a severely retarded infant or someone in a state of senility. So, if we base the right to life on these characteristics, we must grant these animals a right to life as good as, or better than, such retarded or senile human beings.By Singer’s calculation, a healthy adult pig has a stronger claim on our protection than a newborn human infant or a human adult suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Killing a human “non-person” would be no weightier an act than snuffing out a mackerel. Practically speaking, if killing a hemophiliac infant could be shown to benefit a healthy infant, measuring the comparative prospect of each for a “happy” future, then Singer would approve murdering the baby with hemophilia. He would have us employ human non-persons in medical experiments before we use healthy animals.

    Obviously, these are monstrous views, sustainable by an otherwise decent person only in the kind of privileged academic setting where scholars live and think in isolation from reality. Unfortunately, it’s precisely the philosophical foundations of decency that are undermined by the Darwinian perspective. If taken deeply to heart, Darwinism erases the distinction, the right of protection, that a human being earns simply by being human. After all, there’s nothing special about belonging to our species over any other. All the species are part of a continuum of life bubbling up from history without guidance, purpose or meaning.
    The respect in which such ideas are held in prestige society can’t help but have a morally corrosive effect that trickles down and outward to the rest of the culture. When they are honest with themselves, Darwinists admit this. In his book, Smith quotes Richard Dawkins, who entertains a fond daydream in which scientists find a living human/chimp hybrid, able to breed with both species and thus finally proving that human beings are just another kind of animal: We need only discover a single survivor, say a relict Australopithecus in the Budongo Forest, and our precious system of norms and ethics could come crashing about our ears. The boundaries with which we segregate our world would be shot to pieces.Smith is at his very best as he spells out the ethical implications of blurring the human-animal distinction. Not all living things can be valued as equally precious and deserving of life. There has to be some kind of a scale on which creatures and their claims to protection are measured. If being human confers no merit, what does?

    Say we discard the Biblical idea that the human countenance bears a divine stamp, the image of God. Then the standards advanced by Peter Singer seem entirely plausible. Moral value, writes Smith, would accordingly be based on the “capacities of each individual.” Such a “standard would obliterate universal human rights.” Smith cites Mortimer J. Adler, who explained what could all too easily follow from a society’s decision to cast off human exceptionalism: Why, then, should not groups of superior men be able to justify their enslavement, exploitation, or even genocide of inferior human groups, on factual and moral grounds akin to those that we now rely on to justify our treatment of the animals we harness as beasts of burden, that we butcher for food and clothing, or that we destroy as disease-bearing pests or as dangerous predators?If humans are not exceptional by virtue of being human — perhaps the ultimate take-home message of Darwinism — then the door is open not only to indecency but far worse.

  28. “So what do you tell the student when he/she asks where life came from in the beginning?”

    In science class we share scientific evidence that tells us the planet Earth was formed 4.6 billion years ago. Nearly all branches of natural science have contributed to the understanding of the main events of the Earth’s past. Part of that scientific evidence/thinking is contained in Darwin’s theory of evolution.

    In Sunday School we are told whatever that particular religion professes to believe (not proven and no theory—just belief defined by someone within the past two thousand years or so.)

    So don’t expect a 1400 SAT score or be hired to an $80K job based on your Sunday School teachings.

  29. Rick asked “What kind of job can I get putting “I believe in Evolution ” on my resume ?”

    So that’s it? If it doesn’t contribute to the bottom line, it’s not worth knowing?

    That’s so sad.

  30. I am only trying to question those who’s bottom line it does affect.
    It doesn’t matter to me one way or the other. I believe God put us here to manage the animal population as we saw fit,live our lives and be happy.

    Some people think we are all animals and shouldn’t be bound by these beliefs, morals or ethical dilimas and should not put ourselves in a special category. Should we explore that path?

  31. The people to whom the debate over Intelligent Design versus Creationism versus Evolution are the people who don’t want their children’s minds affected by teaching one religions views over another.

    I have no objection to one Native American belief system that the world was once all water and the continent was formed on the back of a gigantic turtle. I have no objection to another Native American belief system which espoused that “The People” fled a land of darkness by entering into a cavern and emerging into this world. I have no objection to a belief system which holds that the dead can be resurrected.

    I do object to one religion trying to push its belief system into children’s minds without the consent of the particular parents involved.

    If the people picking the text books who are pushing their ideology include the same from other cultural perspectives, fine. If those same people are not being inclusive, which they are not, this is a different matter.

    The very fact that a relative few are incurring so much rancor via their efforts should be a clue that they are only making the problems of this country worse. Indeed, will their efforts end with trying to control the minds and loyalties of other people’s children? How long will it be before those of faiths other than Christian once again find themselves without the slight protections afforded them by law only since 1958?

  32. RickK. You seem very informed, but I’d like to address something you said: “people that reject evolution of species and common descent (1) are unreasonable, or (2) are not educated on the subject.” Sorry RickK, but that comment has no place in the marketplace of ideas and will likely turn people off to your otherwise reasonable comments.

    As I tell my students (yes I am a biology professor at the University of Texas), debate the issue, but don’t attack someone’s intelligence or reasoning when they don’t agree with you.

    I’m not saying I agree with these, but here are some quotes from those EDUCATED on the subject.

    “Nine-tenths of the talk of evolutionists is sheer nonsense, not founded on observation and wholly unsupported by facts. This museum is full of proofs of the utter falsity of their views. In all this great museum, there is not a particle of evidence of the transmutation of species.” (Dr. Etheridge, Paleontologist of the British Museum)

    “I reject evolution because I deem it obsolete; because the knowledge, hard won since 1830, of anatomy, histology, cytology, and embryology, cannot be made to accord with its basic idea. The foundationless, fantastic edifice of the evolution doctrine would long ago have met with its long- deserved fate were it not that the love of fairy tales is so deep-rooted in the hearts of man.” (Dr. Albert Fleischmann, University of Erlangen)

    “The more one studies paleontology, the more certain one becomes that evolution is based on faith alone; exactly the same sort of faith which is necessary to have when one encounters the great mysteries of religion… The only alternative is the doctrine of special creation, which may be true, but is irrational.” (Dr. L.T. More)

    “I have come to the conclusion that Darwinism is not a testable scientific theory, but a metaphysical research programme… (Dr. Karl Popper, German-born philosopher of science, called by Nobel Prize-winner Peter Medawar, “incomparably the greatest philosopher of science who has ever lived.”)

    “The fact of evolution is the backbone of biology, and biology is thus in the peculiar position of being a science founded on an unproved theory — is it then a science or faith? Belief in the theory of evolution is thus exactly parallel to belief in special creation…” (Dr. L. Harrison Matthews, in the introduction to the 1971 edition of Darwin’s “Origin of Species”)

    “What is so frustrating for our present purpose is that it seems almost impossible to give any numerical value to the probability of what seems a rather unlikely sequence of events… An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle… (Dr. Francis Crick, Nobel Prize-winner, codiscoverer of DNA)

    “Once we see, however, that the probability of life originating at random is so utterly minuscule as to make it absurd, it becomes sensible to think that the favorable properties of physics, on which life depends, are in every respect DELIBERATE… It is therefore, almost inevitable that our own measure of intelligence must reflect higher intelligences.. even to the limit of God.” (Sir Fred Hoyle, British mathematician and astronomer, and Chandra Wickramasinghe, co-authors of “Evolution from Space,” after acknowledging that they had been atheists all their lives)

    “The fossil record with its abrupt transitions offers no support for gradual change…” (Dr. Stephen Jay Gould, famous Harvard Professor of Paleontology)

    “The fundamental reason why a lot of paleontologists don’t care much for gradualism is because the fossil record doesn’t show gradual change and every paleontologist has know that ever since Cuvier. If you want to get around that you have to invoke the imperfection of the fossil record. Every paleontologist knows that most species, most species, don’t change. That’s bothersome if you are trained to believe that evolution ought to be gradual. In fact it virtually precludes your studying the very process you went into the school to study. Again, because you don’t see it, that brings terrible distress.” (Dr. Stephen Jay Gould)

    “To postulate that the development and survival of the fittest is entirely a consequence of chance mutations seems to me a hypothesis based on no evidence and irreconcilable with the facts. These classical evolutionary theories are a gross over-simplification of an immensely complex and intricate mass of facts, and it amazes me that they are swallowed so uncritically and readily, and for such a long time, by so many scientists without murmur of protest.” (Sir Ernest Chain, Nobel Prize winner)

    “Evolution is a theory universally accepted, not because it can be proved to be true, but because the only alternative, ‘special creation,’ is clearly impossible.” (D.M.S. Watson, Professor of Zoology, London University)

  33. “It is mere rubbish thinking at present of the origin of life; one might as well think of the origin of matter.”

  34. Ph.D. M., I think you have nailed it, as have some of those you quoted. Many of the most vocal representatives on each side seem bound and determined to do exactly what they accuse the other side of doing, which is to insist that everyone accept their views, despite the shortcomings of those views.

    Rather than teach us how to think, they want to tell us what to think.

  35. PhD M.

    Thank you for warning me against turning people off by my statements.

    But then you do something that I find very troubling.

    You quote Gould as if his statement was an argument against evolution. Evolutionary theory hasn’t been based on “gradualism” for decades.

    You quote comments against the natural origin of life – which is NOT a fundamental principal of evolutionary theory.

    You are applying a creationist ploy of setting up strawmen – false views on evolution – and then refuting them. But you’re not offering any evidence against: evolution of species through reproduction, variation and selection. Nor are you offering any quotes or evidence against common descent. You’re only refuting gradualism and abiogenesis – two things that are not part of modern evolutionary theory.

    Oh, there are two quotes against evolution – by Etheridge and Fleischmann. Those are dealt with here:
    http://members.cox.net/ardipithecus/evol/lies/lie029.html

    So you’re using false sources and strawman arguments.

    I don’t consider that sort of argument to be particularly honest, and is CERTAINLY not how children should be taught.

    We know beyond a reasonable doubt that natural reproduction, natural variation and natural selection lead drive natural speciation. We know beyond a reasonable doubt that most if not all species on Earth stem from a common ancestor, and that no exception has yet been found.

    If stating these facts offends somebody’s belief, so be it. Many people FIRMLY BELIEVE that we never landed on the Moon in 1969. While those people have a right to believe what they want, they are objectively wrong.

    That species evolved from common ancestor(s) and continue to evolve are things proved beyond a reasonable doubt. Sure, we could be living in the Matrix. Sure, God could have created it all to LOOK like evolution happens. But are these really REASONABLE alternatives?

    If that’s offensive, I’m sorry. But science should be based on facts, and the facts say evolution – beyond a reasonable doubt.

    Using the Bible (or the Bhagavad Gita, or the writings of L. Ron Hubbard) as evidence to refute the facts of evolution is simply not reasonable.

  36. Ted Marchut, you may be convinced by quotes taken out of context, presented in a way meant to give a different meaning than the authors meant.

    You may be convinced by arguments launched against a false representation of evolution.

    You may be convinced by quotes dredged up by people who have no credibility and may never have existed.

    But I think the science education standards for our children should be based on a higher standard of evidence than what apparently convinced you.

    If you want kids to learn how to think, stop telling them that ideology and faith can trump facts and evidence.

    Recommended books for teaching people how to REALLY use their brains:

    “Predictably Irrational” – Dan Ariely
    “Don’t Believe Everything You Think” – Thomas Kida
    “How We Know What Isn’t So” – Thomas Gilovich
    “The Demon-Haunted World” – Carl Sagan

    Anyone who is truly committed to critical thinking will find each of these very valuable.

  37. RickK, you have misunderstood what I said and seem to have attributed positions to me, which I have not asserted.

    I did not really expect either side to get my point. Thanks for not disappointing me.

  38. Ph.D. M. is obviously lying. It really is very simple. All of their “quotes” are examples of the well known pratice of “quote mining.” These are all refuted by consulting the “Quote Mine Project” maintained by the TalkOrigins web site.

    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/quotes/mine/project.html

    For example, pseudo “M” quoted Albert Fleischmann. He was (1862 – 1942), a reputable but relatively obscure German zoologist who taught for decades at the University of Erlangen in Bavaria. In 1901 he published a scientific critique of organic evolution, Die Descendenztheorie, in which he rejected not only Darwinism but all theories of common organic descent. (See Robert Numbers “The Creationists: The Evolution of Scientific Creationism,” (New York: Knoph, 1992, p. 51 – 52) for more).

    What all Christians should ask is “What sort of impression of Christian faith does lying make in the minds of others?” This is not a new problem:

    “In discussing questions of this kind two rules are to be observed, as Augustine teaches. The first is, to hold to the truth of Scripture without wavering. The second is that since Holy Scripture can be explained in a multiplicity of senses, one should adhere to a particular explanation only in such measure as to be ready to abandon it if it be proved with certainty to be false, lest Holy Scripture be exposed to the ridicule of unbelievers, and obstacles be placed to their believing.” – Thomas Aquinas, c.a. 1225 – 1274, Summa Theologica, Prima Pars, Q68. Art 1. (1273).

  39. Ted, you chimed in to agree with someone who used stock standard creationist quote mining (what Gould called “willful misquotation”).

    If you weren’t agreeing with his misused quotes, then I misunderstood your post.

    But I think there is a difference – a real difference – between the two sides of the argument.

    On one side we have scientists whose professional reputations are ruined if they’re found to be lying about their evidence. Sure, they’re human. But the culture of the scientific community tolerates mistakes but abhors a lie.

    On the other side we have massive Discovery Institute ad campaigns that lie. We have the Wedge Strategy – a treatise on lying. We have the Dover trial where even the conservative, religious, Bush-appointed judge was horrified that the “Intelligent Design” crowd was lying – and was caught lies repeatedly. The whole premise of ID was that it was not Christian “creation science” – it was completely different. But google the phrase “cdesign proponentsists”.

    Ken Ham, Kent Hovind (now in JAIL), Jonathan Wells, Phillip E. Johnson, Stephen Meyer, Paul Nelson and everyone funded by Howard Ahmanson Jr. – Do you think ANY of those people lose status in their peer group when they’re caught lying in the fight against evolution??

    Why are the rules different, Ted? Why is lying to support creationism acceptable?

    Ted, call me crazy, but when one side of a debate abhors lying and one side accepts lying, I think there is a difference.

    You may think they’re equal and we should all get along. If so, then you’ve been bamboozled by the “teach the controversy” ad campaign.

    But I don’t want people who are comfortable with lying to be setting my children’s educational standards.

  40. Please re-read my first post. I’m done commenting on the issue. It really doesn’t register very high on my list.

  41. These fake “quotes” are like potato chips. Pseudo M quoted “Dr. Etheridge, Paleontologist of the British Museum.” Etheridge, Robert was an Assistant Keeper of Geology in the British Museum from 1881 to 1891.

    Oh, that is so current!

    Liars are never to be trusted.

    (Fishermen discussing fishing never lie, we are merely partisipating in an ancient art called “Talking about the Big One That Got Away, and You Should Have Been Here Last Week”).

  42. “What kind of job can I get putting “I believe in Evolution ” on my resume?”

    It’s not what you believe that gets you a SAT score of 1400 which goes a long way in getting you the training (and hopefully the education) that gets you an $80K job. Employers care not what your personal beliefs are, and by law cannot discriminate against you for whatever your personal beliefs are, but they do require you to be trained (and hopefully educated) to be productive in your job.

    If you are hired to be a science teacher you are expected to teach science, not personal religious beliefs. Your religious beliefs are in the domain of your Sunday School.

    Can anyone imagine the IRS hiring someone who fervently believes the income tax is illegal and morally wrong? How about a judge who doesn’t believe in the law, or a government regulator who doesn’t believe in regulation? (See where that got us on Wall Street.)

    You can see where your question is going even though its a non sequitur.

    In the USA everyone is free to hold their personal beliefs and to speak of them freely in public, but no one has a right to impose their personal beliefs in the public domain.

    If you believe in creationism or intelligent design, that’s just fine. I don’t, and I don’t want our public schools to incorporate anyone’s personal religious beliefs in the curricula.

    Religious freedom doesn’t include imposing your beliefs on others. Attempting to validate personal beliefs by imposing them on others through our public schools works against the very foundation of our personal freedoms.

  43. Just one more.

    I have changed my mind about the testability and logical status of the theory of natural selection; and I am glad to have an opportunity to make a recantation. Karl Popper, 1978, “Natural selection and the emergence of mind,” Dialectica 32: 339-355.

    Got to read the more recent works, pseudo M.

  44. Ted Marchut says: “Rather than teach us how to think, they want to tell us what to think.”

    And, Ted just earlier cheered on anti-science liar Pseudo M, “I think you have nailed it, as have some of those you quoted.”

    Mr. Marchut, If you showed the basics of “how to think” you would have avoid confirmation bias, and have made a minute or two search to expose the lies you so warmly embraced. If you cannot think, then there is the problem of how to tell you what to think. The far-right propaganda machine has been far better at this for what I think is a curious reason. Liberals are deeply committed to tolerance of dissenting points of view. The far-right respects nothing but their objectives.

    Advantage to the far-right.

  45. Honestly, this is pointless. I agreed with ” debate the issue, but don’t attack someone’s intelligence or reasoning when they don’t agree with you,” as well as the sentiment behind some of the quotes, comparing the mindset of one side to that of the other.

    I hardly “warmly embraced” the opposition to evolution. If you really embraced dissenting points of view, you would not so readily misinterpret my words. The problem is, you seem incapable of accepting that there may be more than two views, which is the problem with the right and the left, pretty much across the board.

    Still, you are certainly welcome to make assumptions about what I believe and to then criticize those beliefs. You are even welcome to make personal attacks. It won’t make you right, on either count and it won’t cause me to lose any sleep. If it keeps you entertained and makes you feel good about yourself, have at it.

    Frankly, I expected the first attack to come from the other side. I should know better than to assume, I guess.

  46. Ted, you said: ” The problem is, you seem incapable of accepting that there may be more than two views”

    Nonsense. There are many Christians that have no problem with the facts of evolution. I cited 12,000 Christian clergy above that seem quite able to keep their faith without lying.

    But what is not acceptable is willful deception, which is what the guy you were agreeing with was doing.

    You didn’t check references, you got burned, and you’re annoyed at us for painting you with the same brush we used for the guy you supported. That happens. If you respond by walking away, well, that happens too.

    Tell me, though – why CAN’T we “attack someone’s reasoning” in a debate? And when we point out the logical fallacies and falsehoods in somebody’s argument, why should we “embrace their dissenting point of view”? Do you embrace alternate points of view about the reality of the 1969 lunar landing, just because a large number of people believe it was a hoax?

    I said one side in the evolution / anti-evolution debate tolerates lies and one doesn’t. Was there anything incorrect in what I said? If so, I’d like to know so I can learn and improve my perspective. But if I wasn’t wrong, then why should I treat both sides of the debate with equal respect?

  47. Mr. Marchut, The opinions you have promoted are easily demonstrated to be false. Your lack of personal integrity is demonstrated by your attempts to evade what you have written. You cheered on anti-science liar Pseudo M, “I think you have nailed it, as have some of those you quoted.”

    The quotes you promoted are lies. An honest man would have acknowledged this, and regretted having been wrong.

    You attempt to deny and obscure your support for lies. That demotes you to the same status as all liars. “Lower than a snakes belly in a ditch.”

  48. I’m not on either side and never claimed to be on either side. There were no references to check, as I was merely agreeing with an opinion about the nature of the argument.

    So, I am walking away, as you suggested and as I intended earlier. I certainly have no desire to try to convince a complete stranger that s/he is still misunderstanding my point. Often times, people deliberately “misunderstand,” because it suits their purpose to do so. Other times, they just don’t get it.

    Whatever the case, I’ve said all that I am going to say. No more bait for me. I’m full.

  49. It is comical that you keep omitting the part of my statement, whic clearly communicates what I was “cheering.”

    “Many of the most vocal representatives on each side seem bound and determined to do exactly what they accuse the other side of doing, which is to insist that everyone accept their views, despite the shortcomings of those views.”

    Good night.

  50. I will say that it is funny, that you keep omitting the part of my original statement, which clearly explains what I was “cheering” (not to mention my original post, which clearly stated my thoughts on this issue).

    ” Many of the most vocal representatives on each side seem bound and determined to do exactly what they accuse the other side of doing, which is to insist that everyone accept their views, despite the shortcomings of those views. ”

    Pot, meet kettle.

    Good night.

  51. Sorry for the double-post. I’ve never seen these go to a second page before. Now I know it is time to call it a night.

    I hope you all get it sorted out. It certainly does seem to be causing you considerable distress.

    As for me, I’d just like to see our students graduating, going on to college and getting good jobs.

  52. Ted repeated: ” Many of the most vocal representatives on each side seem bound and determined to do exactly what they accuse the other side of doing, which is to insist that everyone accept their views, despite the shortcomings of those views. ”

    Yes, Ted, we saw that. Rest assured, we’re not ignoring what you wrote.

    So when I say I think scientific education should be evidence-based, and when I say I think lying is bad, I’m definitely promoting my views aggressively.

    If that means I can’t open a mutually beneficial “dialog” with people who publish and promote lies, well, so be it.

    But I think the educating our children and improving the understanding of science are important issues – issues worth taking a stand on.

    Unlike you, I’m not satisfied with throwing stones at both sides while perched atop the fence. *shrugs* Everybody is different.

  53. I didn’t know we were talking about high school.
    I was responding to Texas State inviting :
    Jerry A. Coyne, professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago, will present an evening talk and book signing at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 23, at the Alkek Library Teaching Theatre on the campus of Texas State University.

    And I am sorry but the teachers at SWT way back in 2000 were pushing the whole deal and not just the selected parts you agree with RickK on evolution and specifically stating it was proof God did not exist.

    I never mentioned Christianity, I mentioned that there is a largly held belief that we are not here by accident, that there was and intelligent and dileberate attempt to have life on this planet. That DNA itself is a blueprint, a map design and constructed by a scientific mind. If it was so easy to reproduce life from nothing we would have done it on the moon like Star Trek II.

    I am against censorship and saw a lot of it on the campus mainly because the prof had the grade book. Those of us who spoke up got talked crap too and had lower grades. I am not saying all of them were this messed up but several were.

  54. RickK, I believe that the education of our children is a critical issue and I am far from “on the fence.” I just hold a different view than either of the groups at the forefront of the debate.

    To me, having an authority figure, be it a member of the clergy, a professor, a scientist, or some politician, tell me what to “know” is very dangerous and is not the best way to create a society of thinkers and problem solvers.

    It is far better to teach people how to build their own knowledge base, which is why I advocated teaching scientific methods and allowing the students to use those methods to dissect various theories and it is why I advocated moving the creationism/God debate into a philosophy classroom.

    I would even go so far as to say that there is room for some overlap, just as we covered some philosophy in my geometry class, when we were learning proofs.

    What I believe about evolution, or intelligent design, or creationism, or God, or anything else in this discussion, is immaterial, which is why I have not stated my beliefs. My interest is not in creating a population of people who agree with me. It is in creating a population of people who think for themselves and can defend their positions beyond citing examples of other people who agree with them.

    Personally, I don’t think that we “know” much of anything. IMO, we only believe different things, with varying degrees of certainty. I prefer that certainty to be determined by more than what someone else told us was so.

  55. “If it was so easy to reproduce life from nothing we would have done it on the moon like Star Trek II. ”

    Oh really? So anything in nature that Man hasn’t reproduced must be the creation of the divine?

    Well, we can stop all that research into controlling fusion, curing cancer, etc. That will save some money in the budget, and we can put all those PhDs to work doing something else.

    Come on Rick, you can do better. Every natural phenomena that humanity has explained has turned out to have a non-magical explanation. Given this 100% failure rate for divine causation in nature, it is reasonable to look for natural origins for life as well.

    But again, that doesn’t change the truth of common descent and species evolution. Chemistry still works even though it doesn’t explain where the elements came from. Physics still works even though it doesn’t explain where the atoms came from. Evolution still works even if it doesn’t explain where life came from.

    I’m sorry your professor was pushing his atheism, but that has NOTHING to do with the facts of evolution.

  56. I am saying it’s impossible to state “all” of evolution theory is a fact, if we can reproduce life from nothing except lighting, mud, amino acids and such, then reproduce the experiment on the moon and show me a monkey.

  57. To Rick:

    You wrote: “I am saying it’s impossible to state “all” of evolution theory is a fact, if we can reproduce life from nothing except lighting, mud, amino acids and such, then reproduce the experiment on the moon and show me a monkey.”

    If you think the Theory of Evolution suggests that this can be done, you really need to read Coyne’s book. If you understood just the concept of natural selection, you would understand that this is not how evolution works. Even if all the factors present on earth were present on the moon (and they are not), it would take millions or billions of years to see how the experiment worked out. This is not a good way to test the Theory of Evolution, but Coyne provides many good ways it can be and has been tested.

  58. You are very welcome Winchester. I should probably do honor to the Cherokee in my ancestry (and the Shoshone in my lady’s) by revisiting Native American lore from the various tribal clans.

    I find it interesting that one argument for disavowing evolution is a religious work which has parts incorporated from other, older cultures.

    As a compromise, incorporating the tales of creation from cultures native to this continent as well as those which came later would be acceptable to many. Unfortunately those pushing an evangelical Christian agenda will not compromise.

    The saddest part is that Texas is starting to gain a reputation for ignorance due to the efforts of the same people on the state board of education to rewrite history. One example, denying that there were Tejanos helping to defend the Alamo, or fighting on the side of Texicans at other battles is a good way to alienate a lot of people. Another is to basically consign Thomas Jefferson to having had a minor role in the efforts to bring the United States into being.

    Having read some of the comments made by the people on the text book committee I am forced to conclude their opinion is that nobody except them is entitled to an opinion on what their children need to learn and there is no validity in a religious background which does not fall within parameters of their choice. Their approach to revision is simply to trivialize if not denigrate other faiths and pave the way for “saving souls”.

    Science is about things observed directly or indirectly, where knowledge is proved, disproved, or modified due to repeatable data. It is no more scientific to espouse the existence of the Easter bunny than it is to state the lights in the night sky are the souls of our ancestors watching over us. Though the great kraken has been linked to the giant squid, there may be other creatures which fit such a title better.

    History is about recording what has been so that people can understand why the world is where it is now, and if they’re smart infer a bit of where the world will be tomorrow. History may be modified as more FACTS come to life but when modified to fit a religious / political agenda it devolves into nothing more than propaganda.

    Mathematics is akin to language, as much art as science, a combination which often requires things to be taken “on faith” until enough background knowledge leads to better understanding. Then again, having equation A and equation C with the link in the middle as “equation B: and then a miracle occurs” didn’t help me much in college.

    Personally, when I have more kids, these will be home schooled.

  59. I was once asked if I would teach “creationism.” This was in the 1980s when I taught at the Medical College of Georgia. I replied that I could teach an entire 3 unit course on creation myths, and that I was familiar with at least a dozen.

    The question was withdrawn.

  60. What is it you want to accomplish by collecting data and proving that we all came from a common ancestor ?
    I am under a biased notion that this is all about removing religion from our society. Is there is a loftier goal ?
    After you have proven this, then what would you like to see happen in society ?

  61. Denying that there were Tejanos helping to defend the Alamo ? That isn’t accurate, they simply aren’t going to name the 9 that died at the Alamo, personally I think they should list all the men that died there. They will never be able to delete Juan Seguin from history, we are only 20 minutes away from his town. Born and raised there so trust me we all know how important he was to winning independence, and that is spoken from a 100 % gringo.

  62. The point in collecting data, in any field of science is to understand. As for removing religion from society, the answer is no.

    And the goal of the history text book revision is remove any mention of Tejanos helping in the fight for Texas Independence.

    Why is this set of revisions important to people. The reason is religion does not belong in the schools unless you are willing for all religions to be taught. Religion does not belong as the central point of government unless all religions have a say. Establishing a state religion and not protecting those who don’t belong is the road to civil war and the destruction of a society.

    I doubt many Christians want their children taught about Buddha any more than they want their children taught about Allah, Brother Coyote, or the Great Balance.

    Simply put the Christians who view the schools as a place to teach Christianity would be in an uproar if my faith or others were taught to their children in any way. Why can’t people whose faith supposedly teaches them about humility, tolerance, and the brotherhood of man afford others the courtesy and respect they demand from others? The gleeful smug ‘we got our way’ attitude is reprehensible in people who are supposed to be looking out for the best interests of all students.

    The days when a Native American child should be ashamed of their heritage, because the poor innocent European invaders were attacked by savages for no reason belong in the past. The days when schools should teach about filthy shanty Irish stealing jobs and livelihood from proper English settlers belongs in the past. The days when children of non-Christian faiths should be taught they are children of devil worshipers belongs in the past.

    The schools need to be places to learn rather than places to brainwash and indoctrinate the young. If parents want religious education for their young, let them go to the temple, synagogue, church, or other place of worship they choose.

    Science, history, and mathematics are not and should not be relegated to the status of religion classes. If they are, then the country you live in is on the road to disaster, and the ascendancy of Asia is guaranteed.

  63. Sidhartha was a cool book, I was forced to read it my senior year and it is all about the original Buddha reaching enlightenment. I personally think 9-12 grades should be like college and you should be able to choose courses and theology classes should be taught if there is a demand.

  64. Rick, I took World Religions in college. Padre Rogers (the instructor) and I both enjoyed the dialogue because I had already spent a lot of personal time learning. A few students abhorred the class because it didn’t fit their Protestant preconceptions.

    I agree there should be voluntary or elective courses in high school on theology, just as I believe there should be courses on Eastern, Western, and Native American philosophies. Throw in Cultural Anthropology, Paleontology, Archaeology, and as many others as can fit the budget.

    Science, History, Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics, and other courses have their places as well.

    The bottom line is, religion belongs in a class about religion. If the school is secular (supported by the public) then it must be either inclusive of all religions (in a class geared toward religion) or exclusive of all religions.

    If the school is private or parochial then the public does not support it and it can teach as much of what the patrons want as long as the students can learn the other basic skills.

    Any children I am blessed to have this time around will be home schooled and have to get through my old text on World Religions. The Iliad, The Odyssey, Blackstone, and as many others as I am able to still find will be required as well. I can’t deny my unborn offspring access to much of what helped me learn to think and view matters from other people’s perspectives as well as my own. I owe it to those unborn.

    The children of Texas (current and future) deserve better than they are getting from the Board of Education for the State of Texas. The children deserve an education rather than an indoctrination.

  65. John Stewart (The Daily Show) destroyed our Board of special Eds last night.
    It was both hilarious and sad.

  66. Those who take themselves most seriously to the point of insanity are doomed to become the most ridiculed.

  67. If you’re not smart enough to see the fallacy of creationism or intelligent design then I am happy you are a part of an organized religion.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

:)