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Wednesday, June 13, 2012



"The sky is falling! Many interest groups and journalists raced to tell that to the public when a modest but important bill became law in Tennessee early in April. The law instructs teachers and administrators to "create an environment within public elementary and secondary schools that encourages students to explore scientific questions, learn about scientific evidence, develop critical thinking skills, and respond appropriately and respectfully to differences of opinion about controversial issues."
What's not to like? The law, similar to one in Louisiana, also protects teachers who help students (I'm quoting from the official legislative summary) "understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught. ..." Oh, here's the problem: Evolution is one of the theories that can now be analyzed and critiqued."

Is that really the issue here? That evolution will be criticized? Certainly, if one gets their news from WORLD magazine and Marvin Olasky, that may appear to be the case; except for a teensy, weensy problem that Marvin fails to address. Which states are we talking? Tennessee and Louisiana, deeply religious states filled with science deniers (also known as "creationists"). So when a bill is passed that goes out of it's way to inform us that the theory of evolution will be subject to criticism, where the uninformed see nothing overtly sinister, the skeptical are already wondering if this law is giving creationists leeway to start undermining science education in that state.

"The American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, the American Institute of Biological Sciences, the National Association of Geoscience Teachers, and many others have gone ape over the inclusion of evolution. They revere critical thinking and the freedom to explore, but not when it might produce irreverence toward their idol."

You know what's funny, Marv? If the high schools of Tenn. are doing their job right, then they're already asking questions over how things like natural selection work. That's what I did these last two semesters at Midland College, and my atheist geology professor never batted an eyelid when I or anyone else asked questions over TOE. The issue is not whether evolution should be somehow held sacred and above question; the issue is how this bill will be used; to further science education, or give biased teachers a means of tainting it in a notoriously religious and anti-science state. And by the way, if evolution is such an "idol", what about creationism? I can't help but notice that your magazine has sometimes contained advertisements for Bob Jones University, the infamous religious diploma mill that was racially segregated right up until 2000, that teaches the discredited lie of YEC, and offers no courses whatsoever in geology, one of the essential earth sciences that coincidentally proved a long time ago that the earth cannot possibly be 6,000 years old. Talk about clinging to idols, namely racism and anti-science dogma...

"Those groups and many journalists brought up Tennessee's 1925 law that made illegal the teaching of evolution in public schools and led to the Scopes "monkey trial." They did not note that most public schools in the four score and seven years since then have gone to the other extreme by forbidding the teaching of anything but evolution."

Since evolution has been proven by paleontology and biology (see Richard Lenski's E. Coli experiment, for example, or the blind Texas salamander), what point is there is teaching unsubstantiated nonsense? Should geography teachers present modern flat-earth conspiracy theories to their class? Should chemistry teachers take time to lecture on alchemy? Should astronomy professors spend time on astrology and geocentrism? Eh? I certainly don't see you pointing out flaws in TOE, or suggesting a viable, alternative mechanism for biological diversity. Why is that?

"In states from Virginia to Washington true believers in evolution have harassed and driven away teachers who dared to teach both sides of the Darwin debate"

That's because teachers who teach discredited, debunked theories in order to promote personal religious views are violating the First Amendment, as well as their duty to teach facts, not fiction. As I have proven on this blog multiple times (namely herehere, here, here, here, here, here, and here), creationism, whether you call it that or intelligent design, is an inherently dishonest, disingenuous anti-intellectual dogma held solely by the woefully ignorant, the abysmally uneducated, and the criminally stupid. After 150 years, evolution via natural selection is held as a fact by over 99.999% of the scientific community. There are hundreds of thousands of peer-approved papers supporting it, and not a single bit of research compromising it. Meanwhile, Cretinists, instead of conducting research in the field and performing experiments like real scientists, attempt to combat the hateful theory of "Darwinism" through propaganda and wasteful court battles. Not of course, that they'll ever admit to the fact that if their cherished belief rested upon even a grain of truth, it would be capable of holding it's own against TOE in peer review.

'If macro-evolution were proven, the true believers would have a case, but more than 800 Ph.D.-bearing scientists have signed a statement expressing skepticism about contemporary evolutionary theory's claims that random mutation and natural selection account for the complexity of life. These scientists say, "Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged."'

Appeal to Authority. In other words, you, sir, are a moron. It's funny how Olasky, the Editor in Chief of WORLD, who has been touted as a great journalist, is committing elementary level logical fallacies and is sloppy enough to fail to provide a source for this 'statement'. Here's a link to the statement. Here's another link to evidence for macro-evolution. It's funny how he lacks the knowledge to actually point out any flaws in the theory himself: instead, he just blithely says that since people with Ph.Ds agree with him, evolution hasn't been proven. Never mind the fact that the veracity of an argument isn't determined by the credentials of the person making it, but by the internal logic and evidence it rests upon. Credentials merely mean that that person is better equipped to understand a specific field of study than someone who does not have them.

'As soon as we abandon our own reason, and are content to rely upon authority, there is no end to our troubles.' --Bertrand Russell

'The 1925 law tried to close off debate, but the think tank that has proposed laws like Tennessee's new one, the Discovery Institute, is working to increase the coverage of evolution in textbooks. It wants evolution, including its unresolved issues, to be fully presented to students: "Evolution should be taught as a scientific theory that is open to critical scrutiny, not as a sacred dogma that can't be questioned.'

So what evidence is there that it was being taught as a "sacred dogma"? Oh that's right; there is none.

'That gets to the heart of the hysteria. The New York Times editorialized in 1925 for "faith, even of a grain of mustard seed, in the evolution of life." The Times said evolution gives us hope for progress: "If man has evolved, it is inconceivable that the process should stop and leave him in his present imperfect state. Specific creation has no such promise for man."'

That sounds accurate to me. According to the mindless fundamentalist interpretation of the bible which virtually all creationists adhere to, man was created flawed, and has no hope of ever bettering himself, except by groveling before the very being who made him/her that way. Of course, this is just a philosophical nicety, and pretty weak as far as arguments for TOE go, but it makes a nice change from the fanaticism that has so marked this country.

"Specific creation, of course, has the ultimate promise: God cares."

Which is why he'll roast you alive for millions and billions and trillions of years to the power of infinity if you fail to worship him and stroke his ego (despite being a perfect being who should then, by definition, have no needs and no wants).

"Sadly, many look desperately for hope elsewhere, anywhere. Last month the New York Times editorial page editor, consistent with his predecessors, criticized critics of evolution who have "learned to manufacture doubt." The Times, of course, daily manufactures doubt regarding God, but thunders, "Thou shalt not doubt" evolution. If other states follow Tennessee's example, we'll have a robust debate instead of more attempts to suppress it"

There is no debate, dumbass. Evolution has been established as a fact for over one hundred years at this point. Just because you're too ignorant to comprehend the depth of research supporting it doesn't mean that it hasn't been proven. Biology, genetics, geology, and paleontology make no sense whatsoever if evolution is not true. Why don't you go to the nearest college and educate yourself?

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