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Doe, John
2004-Dec-15, 12:44 AM
The ACLU on the side of science (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6713443/).

Brady Yoon
2004-Dec-15, 01:09 AM
When will Bible thumpers learn?

Maksutov
2004-Dec-15, 04:55 AM
=D> =D> =D> ACLU and AUSCS!

Then there's the poll on that page:


What's your view on evolution theory and education? 44672 responses
Alternatives to evolutionary theory should be given equal weight in science textbooks.
33%
Alternatives should not be mentioned in science textbooks.
50%
Neither response reflects my view.
17%
Not a scientifically valid survey.
Even if not scientifically valid it shows that at least 33% of the folks responding to the poll would love to drag us back into the Dark Ages.

mike alexander
2004-Dec-15, 05:15 AM
Oh, crippety. First I can't go to Texas, then Florida, then Ohio. Now Penn's Woods.

Swift
2004-Dec-15, 03:31 PM
=D> ACLU
And yes, I'm a card carrying member.

Ut
2004-Dec-15, 03:44 PM
Ok... I don't get it. So, they want to teach religion in schools. To make "everybody happy", they try to do it in the most generic way possible -- i.e., Christian dogma, but with "God" replaced with "some higher being". So, why don't they just institute religion classes? Teach science in science classes, and religion in religion classes. Is that really so hard to do?

Nicolas
2004-Dec-15, 03:47 PM
Religion is a separate class in Belgium... I thought it was the same there??

Hamlet
2004-Dec-15, 03:58 PM
Oh, crippety. First I can't go to Texas, then Florida, then Ohio. Now Penn's Woods.

Unfortunate yes, suprising no. There are some churches in PA where I grew up that were burning Harry Potter books a couple of years ago. Before that they were burning rock music albums when that was all the rage.

I hadn't realized that this ID nonsense had already infiltrated the PA school systems. :(

Swift
2004-Dec-15, 04:04 PM
Religion is a separate class in Belgium... I thought it was the same there??
The US constitution requires a separation of church and state. So, for example, there is no official state religion in the US. It also means that the government can not fund the teaching of any particular religion (because doing so would in effect support that particular religion). Government funded public schools usually do not have any classes in religion.

Donnie B.
2004-Dec-15, 04:59 PM
Religion is a separate class in Belgium... I thought it was the same there??
The US constitution requires a separation of church and state. So, for example, there is no official state religion in the US. It also means that the government can not fund the teaching of any particular religion (because doing so would in effect support that particular religion). Government funded public schools usually do not have any classes in religion.
Nitpick: The Bill of Rights (which comprise the first 10 amendments to the Constitution) forbids the establishment of religion -- i.e. the introduction of a state-mandated religion. Over the years, court decisions have interpreted this to mean that there should be a wall of separation between church and state. However, this wall is not entirely opaque. For instance, the U.S. Senate has an official chaplain who offers a (somewhat generic) prayer at the beginning of each session.

The current ID battle is (in my opinion) another attempt to breach the wall by religious folk who feel threatened by schools teaching evolution. Another, I might add, in a long series of such attempts. And as in all the previous cases, it will have to work its way through the courts before it's finally resolved.

The odd thing is, even after the Supreme Court rules on such matters, some parts of the country seem to be able to simply ignore the ruling and continue merrily onward. There was a story a few years ago about a school somewhere in the South (Texas, maybe) that still had prayers in the classroom, long after the courts had ruled that unconstitutional. And so it goes...

[Edited to add:] I should also mention that the courts have ruled that public schools may teach courses in comparative religion and/or the history of religion, as long as no particular religion is given special favor or emphasis.

Sticks
2004-Dec-15, 05:07 PM
But I thought that the Anthropic Cosmological Principal and especially the Weak Anthropic principal, (devised by atheists), indicated that the the universe appeared to be designed for mankind :-?

Would the ACLU ban any mention of this important piece of scientific work?

Ut
2004-Dec-15, 05:34 PM
No, the anthropic principle pretty much says that we observe the universe to be as it is because it is a place conductive to us being here to observe it.

It's:

How convenient of Earth to just happen to have water! A substance that we need in abundance!

vs

How convenient of us to need water to live, when the Earth just happens to have it!

TimH
2004-Dec-15, 05:37 PM
Unfortunate yes, suprising no. There are some churches in PA where I grew up that were burning Harry Potter books a couple of years ago. Before that they were burning rock music albums when that was all the rage.

<emphasis mine>
If someone is opposed to something in a book, isn't burning that book just about the stupidest thing to do? You have to buy the book before you can burn it, so you put money in the author's pocket allowing them to make more of the books you just destroyed.

But trying to think logically is probably a bit tough for anyone so messed up in the head that book burnings sound like a good idea.

Jim
2004-Dec-15, 06:26 PM
Nitpick: The Bill of Rights (which comprise the first 10 amendments to the Constitution) forbids the establishment of religion -- i.e. the introduction of a state-mandated religion. Over the years, court decisions have interpreted this to mean that there should be a wall of separation between church and state. However, this wall is not entirely opaque. For instance, the U.S. Senate has an official chaplain who offers a (somewhat generic) prayer at the beginning of each session.

Nitpick on the nitpick...

Thomas Jefferson first used the phrase "a wall of separation between church and state" when refering to the First Amendment in 1802. The courts have agreed.

James Madison (the architect of the Bill of Rights) while President insisted that employing a Congressional chaplain violated the First Amendment. Congress didn't agree.

mike alexander
2004-Dec-15, 06:39 PM
TimH wrote:


If someone is opposed to something in a book, isn't burning that book just about the stupidest thing to do? You have to buy the book before you can burn it, so you put money in the author's pocket allowing them to make more of the books you just destroyed.

Yes and no. The idea of a book burning is to involve the participants emotionally, to get them 'all hetted up'. It is the action of physical destruction that is important, and cost issues are secondary.

Maksutov
2004-Dec-16, 07:11 AM
Ok... I don't get it. So, they want to teach religion in schools. To make "everybody happy", they try to do it in the most generic way possible -- i.e., Christian dogma, but with "God" replaced with "some higher being".
"Christian dogma" is the most generic way of teaching religion? Tell that to the Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, etc., etc. I trust that was a joke.


So, why don't they just institute religion classes? Teach science in science classes, and religion in religion classes. Is that really so hard to do?
If you mean a class where religion is studied objectively, then this was being done when I was in high school. The classes were called social studies and world history. We got to study all religions in their historical context. Most of it was pretty bloody.

But for the kind of religion classes you are probably referring to, these are already available. The institutions providing this instruction are called churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, etc.

beskeptical
2004-Dec-17, 05:37 AM
MSNBC had a Pat Buchanan talk round discussing why ID should be allowed in classes alongside evolution. They gave the same tired arguments about evolution just being a theory among multiple theories.

No matter how often it is explained that the theory of evolution is as solid as the theory of gravity, the old argument just keeps resurfacing, "It's only a theory".

Then there was the tired old statement that ID was as legitimate a scientific theory as evolution from chance events. They had a person presenting the science side who was less articulate than he could have been. He did keep referring to the 'scientific process' but never described why such a process differed from the religious process.

We have to articulate, one, why the scientific process is not the equivalent of 'belief'; and, two, why ID needs some evidence to be introduced as a scientific theory. In its current state, ID is a mere hypothesis. While the evidence for random chemical events leading from inorganic to organic is mounting every day.

I think that is the argument we should take rather than just explaining ID is religious, not scientific. Show me the evidence. And don't show me 'improbability' as evidence unless you are willing to look closely at genetic science and advances in the origin of life research first.

Mokele Mbembe
2004-Dec-17, 06:50 AM
I hadn't realized that this ID nonsense had already infiltrated the PA school systems.

Oh yes, when I was a senior (2 years ago) in HS, I was prevented from writing a term paper in English class on evolutionary theory because "it's still very contraversial." Suuuuuuure it is.

archman
2004-Dec-17, 07:18 AM
None of this garbage makes its way into state universities, at least in Texas. Biology departments stop "creative design" at the door, and we instructors go merrily on teaching evolution without batting an eye. What this high school nonsense DOES do is confuse students and retard their ability to learn biology properly.

I am constantly astonished at the amount of political sway non-biologists have over the teaching of biology in public school systems. It's like Richard Hoagland advising you astronomers about how to perform your research. It's simply absurd.

This only bolsters my impression that the average american knows as much about science as a grapefruit.

Waarthog
2004-Dec-17, 07:58 AM
The thing I find amusing about the whole debate is that I went to a Catholic High School and we were taught the creationist myth in Theology (specifically our Old Testament class) while all the science classes stuck firmly to Darwinian Evolution with no mention of the Creation myth (this even in the classes taught by Priests). Now in the interests of full disclosure, we did discuss the fusion of the two and the various aspects as Social science and its affect on history etc, but only in that context. Also, this school was run by the Jesuits, so that might explain things.

Enzp
2004-Dec-17, 08:41 AM
My brother in law, who isn't really all that stupid, doesn't believe in evolution. Has all the standard arguments, but he doesn't approach it from a religious point of view, he thinks in terms like, "Those scientists think they know everything. I hate that."

He asks for transitional species, and if you point them out, he asks for ones between those. it never ends. And then there is the we-never-witnessed-it-so it can't be known argument.

Not to trot the arguments out, but there are plenty of people out there who think that way. My former business partner believes in a new earth. I point out things like carbon dating techniques, and his response is, "How can a machine that hasn't even been around 50 years tell us the earth is millions of years old? Doesn't make sense."

My wife doesn't believe we can translate Egyptian heiroglyphs or the Maya ones. She tells me those scientists are guessing and assuming something because it fits their expectations and they have no idea what the stuff really says.

Bottom line here is many people don't believe we know what we know. It boils down to, "Oh they are just saying that."

ID and other such crap filters into school boards because we wait until it happens. It doesn't happen overnight. We don't pay attention to who is running for the board, and we don't do it ourselves. We don't go down and read the texts until someone on the news reports the ID is now in there. Even well meaning souls often cluck and say "I can't believe they are teaching that stuff." and continue drying the dishes.

The assault on our schools by the American Taliban is every bit as real as the one with bombs by the other guys.

Try this. Any time you come upon an "information" counter or if a waitress or sales clerk asks if you have any questions, smile and ask the young person there, "What is the capital of Nebraska?" Or if that is where you are, pick Ohio or Texas. I'd say Vermont, but that one is too hard. I have been doing that for fifteen years now and exactly ONE person has known the answer without asking someone else. One person told me she wasn't very good at social studies and didn't know the answer. Or try something like, "If you took a 30% pay cut and then got a 30% raise, you'd be back where you started, right?" You will find no one can answer the simplest thing that should have been learned in school.

And we expect them to understand science? Critical thinking skills are absent. THat ignorant teenager working at the mall will be an ignorant parent soon enough, and when someone asks them if it seems only fair that ALL the theories be taught, they will say, "Well, sure." It's just a theory, right? They don't really know that stuff, right?

The only way to win this war on our collective minds is to take to action. Here we are largely preaching to the choir. Talk about the same stuf with your neighbor or your friend. Join the school boards, go to PTA, and yes, contact your congresman.

mid
2004-Dec-17, 10:55 AM
No matter how often it is explained that the theory of evolution is as solid as the theory of gravity, the old argument just keeps resurfacing, "It's only a theory".

As supposed to the guy on Radio 4 this morning that was pointing out how ID barely even qualifies as a hypothesis, let alone a proper theory yet...

captain swoop
2004-Dec-17, 11:16 AM
No matter how often it is explained that the theory of evolution is as solid as the theory of gravity, the old argument just keeps resurfacing, "It's only a theory".

As supposed to the guy on Radio 4 this morning that was pointing out how ID barely even qualifies as a hypothesis, let alone a proper theory yet...

What about the guy who was on after him, the Emeritus (retired) Philosophy Prof who used to be an Atheist but isn't any more saying ID is just as valid as Evo?

I suppose the ID crowd couldn't find a Biologist to agree with them.

captain swoop
2004-Dec-17, 11:17 AM
No matter how often it is explained that the theory of evolution is as solid as the theory of gravity, the old argument just keeps resurfacing, "It's only a theory".

As supposed to the guy on Radio 4 this morning that was pointing out how ID barely even qualifies as a hypothesis, let alone a proper theory yet...

What about the guy who was on after him, the Emeritus (retired) Philosophy Prof who used to be an Atheist but isn't any more saying ID is just as valid as Evo?

I suppose the ID crowd couldn't find a Biologist to agree with them.

Wally
2004-Dec-17, 12:29 PM
No, the anthropic principle pretty much says that we observe the universe to be as it is because it is a place conductive to us being here to observe it.

It's:

How convenient of Earth to just happen to have water! A substance that we need in abundance!

vs

How convenient of us to need water to live, when the Earth just happens to have it!

Hey there UT. I'm not at all familiar with the anthropic principle, but the 2 sides of your comparison strike me as being equal. Wouldn't a better second statement be, "we are here because the Earth has water"???

captain swoop
2004-Dec-17, 02:02 PM
Or there is Douglas Adams puddle.

The water thinks the hole he is in has been made to fit him perfectly.

spell edit

Tobin Dax
2004-Dec-17, 02:48 PM
No matter how often it is explained that the theory of evolution is as solid as the theory of gravity, the old argument just keeps resurfacing, "It's only a theory".

As supposed to the guy on Radio 4 this morning that was pointing out how ID barely even qualifies as a hypothesis, let alone a proper theory yet...

What about the guy who was on after him, the Emeritus (retired) Philosophy Prof who used to be an Atheist but isn't any more saying ID is just as valid as Evo?

I suppose the ID crowd couldn't find a Biologist to agree with them.

Is this the same guy who I saw a news article about recently? If so, his conclusion is not scientific, and, as pointed out, he's not a science prof. Philosophy is a different animal. Finally, this individual's beliefs have nothing to do with anyone else's.

Swift
2004-Dec-17, 03:07 PM
Or there is Dougkas Adams puddle.

The water thinks the hole he is in has been made to fit him perfectly.
=D>
Wow, what a great way of expressing the counter argument. If our biochemistry used liquid ammonia chemistry rather than water, we'd think "great universe, good thing the creator put in all this liquid ammonia".

Donnie B.
2004-Dec-17, 06:43 PM
Or there is Dougkas Adams puddle.

The water thinks the hole he is in has been made to fit him perfectly.
=D>
Wow, what a great way of expressing the counter argument. If our biochemistry used liquid ammonia chemistry rather than water, we'd think "great universe, good thing the creator put in all this liquid ammonia".
Reminds me of a great old cartoon. It's the stereotypical guy-crawling-through-a-burning-desert scene, except the guy is a little green man crawling away from a crashed saucer. The poor creature is clutching at his throat, gasping, "Ammonia! Ammonia!" :lol:

Donnie B.
2004-Dec-17, 06:45 PM
This only bolsters my impression that the average american knows as much about science as a grapefruit.
Actually, I'm sure the average American knows more about grapefruit than about science... :wink:

[I know, I know, that's not how you meant it... but it made me chuckle]

beskeptical
2004-Dec-19, 02:21 AM
No, the anthropic principle pretty much says that we observe the universe to be as it is because it is a place conductive to us being here to observe it.

It's:

How convenient of Earth to just happen to have water! A substance that we need in abundance!

vs

How convenient of us to need water to live, when the Earth just happens to have it!

Hey there UT. I'm not at all familiar with the anthropic principle, but the 2 sides of your comparison strike me as being equal. Wouldn't a better second statement be, "we are here because the Earth has water"???You have both confused me but I'd say we evolved to use water because it was here where we evolved.

Kesh
2004-Dec-19, 03:01 AM
That's the trick. Evolutionary theory says we have these dependencies because this happens to be where & when we came to be.

ID says that there's no way we could be here at all without a creator, because otherwise the circumstances would be different! ... Which ignores that we would probably different if our environment was. 8-[

TrAI
2004-Dec-19, 03:50 AM
What is it whit the answers in such pools, anyway? The possible choices always seem to lack one that fits. "Alternatives to evolutionary theory should be given equal weight in science textbooks." gives the possibility for too wide an interpretation on what is an "alternative theory", while "Alternatives should not be mentioned in science textbooks." is to restrictive, you should mention other hypotheses that have been proposed, if only for the comparison and perhaps the possibility of a discussion on how one is more likely to be correct than the others, but that doesn't mean that they necessarily should have equal space...

I guess I could say "neither fits", it is the most correct, but that feels like saying that both the other alternatives is incorrect, when it is just the way they are worded that makes them poor choices in my opinion.

The bible version is not my idea of a good theory, of course, if you are going to have that, you should at least get all the other myths in there, they are probably all just as good as the version in the bible, and some are probably more entertaining...

Careless
2004-Dec-19, 04:16 AM
Try this. Any time you come upon an "information" counter or if a waitress or sales clerk asks if you have any questions, smile and ask the young person there, "What is the capital of Nebraska?" Or if that is where you are, pick Ohio or Texas. I'd say Vermont, but that one is too hard. I have been doing that for fifteen years now and exactly ONE person has known the answer without asking someone else. One person told me she wasn't very good at social studies and didn't know the answer. Or try something like, "If you took a 30% pay cut and then got a 30% raise, you'd be back where you started, right?" You will find no one can answer the simplest thing that should have been learned in school.

And we expect them to understand science? Critical thinking skills are absent. THat ignorant teenager working at the mall will be an ignorant parent soon enough, and when someone asks them if it seems only fair that ALL the theories be taught, they will say, "Well, sure." It's just a theory, right? They don't really know that stuff, right?

The only way to win this war on our collective minds is to take to action. Here we are largely preaching to the choir. Talk about the same stuf with your neighbor or your friend. Join the school boards, go to PTA, and yes, contact your congresman.
Well, I'd have to argue that things like a basic understanding of evolution and arithmetic are far more important than state capitals. The actions of the state governments of large, powerful states I don't live in hardly affect me most of the time. Their location is much less important than that. The location of north dakota's state government really isn't anythnig that I'll ever need to know or care about unless I decide I want to see all 50 capitals.

mike alexander
2004-Dec-19, 07:00 AM
Well, geez, an 'alternate theory' could be of the Lamarckian stripe, where acquired characteristics can be inherited. You know, giraffes stretch necks, longest ones survive to reproduce.

Or maybe Elephants get long trunks by repeated stretchings by crocodiles on the banks of the great grey-green, greasy, Limpopo River.

And it Happened Just So.

archman
2004-Dec-19, 07:59 AM
"Alternatives to evolutionary theory should be given equal weight in science textbooks." gives the possibility for too wide an interpretation on what is an "alternative theory", while "Alternatives should not be mentioned in science textbooks." is to restrictive, you should mention other hypotheses that have been proposed, if only for the comparison and perhaps the possibility of a discussion on how one is more likely to be correct than the others, but that doesn't mean that they necessarily should have equal space...

You're forgetting that very few biologists subscribe to alternative theories, and those individuals tend to be considered er... on the fringe. Thus alternative theories really have little/no place at all in the textbooks, the only exceptions being historical theories proved incorrect (i.e. Lamarckian evolution, outdated aspects of Darwin's and Mendel's works, early attempts at understanding geological time, etc.). The "trick" is to maintain the scientific method with proof/disproof of theories. Modern evolutionary theory follows the method quite nicely... many of these "alternative theories" do not.

The folks interested in changing the textbooks are NOT biologists, and few are professional scientists. This makes it not only inappropriate for them to be suggesting such changes, it creates a dangerous precedent in the sciences to have other non-experts tampering where they have no right to be (i.e. chemistry, astronomy).

Biologists write biology texts. The scientific method is maintained. It really is that simple.

TrAI
2004-Dec-19, 02:04 PM
Well, geez, an 'alternate theory' could be of the Lamarckian stripe, where acquired characteristics can be inherited. You know, giraffes stretch necks, longest ones survive to reproduce.

Yes, why not. It would have bearing in a discussion of the difference between inherited and non-inherited traits. And the differences between Lamarckism and mutation might be interesting too.

But come to think about it, Lamarckism is a kind of evolution hypothesis, and so would not be banned from the wording of the poll...


Or maybe Elephants get long trunks by repeated stretchings by crocodiles on the banks of the great grey-green, greasy, Limpopo River.

And it Happened Just So.

Hmmm... These stories did give us the label "a just so story", did they not? :P

But that really is not a hypotheses, it is a children's story, but if one does intend to give space to stories, I do not see why it should not get it's place, it is probably just as good as what the bible would have to say on the matter.

Ut
2004-Dec-19, 02:29 PM
The folks interested in changing the textbooks are NOT biologists, and few are professional scientists.

Brilliant! Ok, I'm not a theologist, Christian, or even religious... so I'm going to start writing religious studies texts. Who wants in?

TrAI
2004-Dec-19, 02:30 PM
You're forgetting that very few biologists subscribe to alternative theories, and those individuals tend to be considered er... on the fringe. Thus alternative theories really have little/no place at all in the textbooks, the only exceptions being historical theories proved incorrect (i.e. Lamarckian evolution, outdated aspects of Darwin's and Mendel's works, early attempts at understanding geological time, etc.). The "trick" is to maintain the scientific method with proof/disproof of theories. Modern evolutionary theory follows the method quite nicely... many of these "alternative theories" do not.

Of course, I do not mean that every little hypothesis that someone ever dreamed up would be included, but there would be room for some hypotheses, to help show the environment that the modern view on evolution has evolved in might have some place.


The folks interested in changing the textbooks are NOT biologists, and few are professional scientists. This makes it not only inappropriate for them to be suggesting such changes, it creates a dangerous precedent in the sciences to have other non-experts tampering where they have no right to be (i.e. chemistry, astronomy).

Biologists write biology texts. The scientific method is maintained. It really is that simple.

It does present a bad precedent, yes. Books could do with a higher standard as it is. I mean, you have the problem with people misinterpreting the way physics books show atoms, for instance. It would probably have been a good thing with a discussion on how the quantum mechanical model differ from the earlier models, and why the books still project the atoms like a mini solar system.

beskeptical
2004-Dec-19, 10:34 PM
There is plenty of room for alternate hypotheses and theories in any science field.

The fallacy resurfaces again and again. Just because there is NO EVIDENCE for a particular hypothesis or theory does not mean alternatives are banned in some way.

The Christian Fundamentalists, in this case as it could be other religions in other cases, are threatened by the evidence their Bible is not what they have come to believe it is. The issue is not what science refuses to consider. That is patently untrue. The issue is scientific discoveries challenge the Bible's descriptions of the beginning of the Universe, the beginning of life, the time line of the Universe and solar system, the lack of mentioning the germ theory, the lack of recognizing the rest of the Earth's populations in its historical narrative, and so on and so on.

Should we add the Genesis account to our astronomy classes?

Should we add the Genesis account to our geology classes?

What's the difference between those science fields and biology?

Science does not leave out viable hypotheses. Why should science have a beef with religious texts? It doesn't. Biblical accounts are not discounted by biased scientists nor educators. That is the smoke screen used by Bible literalists to cover up the real fact their beliefs are discounted because of evidence and lack of evidence.

archman
2004-Dec-20, 12:56 AM
There is plenty of room for alternate hypotheses and theories in any science field. Except that the proposed creationist-styled hypotheses and theories are not coming from the biologists, but for the most part non-experts. When we biologists scrutinize these "theories", we inevitably find glaring problems with them.
This is the heart of the problem. They really are not viable alternative theories.


Biblical accounts are not discounted by biased scientists nor educators. That is the smoke screen used by Bible literalists to cover up the real fact their beliefs are discounted because of evidence and lack of evidence. Well, we'll discount the biblical accounts if they're used inappropriately in lieu of known scientific observations. I have to do it all the time in order to teach students about fossil records and evolutionary processes. It's incredibly frustrating. Here I have dozens of students majoring in biology or zoology, many of whom refuse to even study evolutionary theories, as they run counter to their religions. It's absurd... these are individuals training to be biologists.

These are the same folks that become science teachers in secondary schools and omit or modify certain theories if they conflict with their personal beliefs. There are quite a few of these science teachers in Texas... my undergraduates have admitted it to me, and cited examples. Makes me furious. Imagine if your math teacher refused to teach certain concepts, or your history teacher gave skewed accounts of past events.

This isn't tolerated in universities, and it shouldn't be tolerated in schools. It ISN'T tolerated in schools as far as I know, except in biology classes.

I don't see why religion has to feel so threatened with evolutionary theory that they have to attack it at every turn. Maybe its the mandatory requirements in the U.S. for all children to take biology classes. If it's something like THAT, it would be far more appropriate to lobby for such classes being optional.

Bawheid
2004-Dec-20, 09:29 AM
Historians should start lobbying religious colleges for equal time putting forward their view of the biblical period.

archman
2004-Dec-20, 09:51 AM
Historians should start lobbying religious colleges for equal time putting forward their view of the biblical period.

Better yet, I should be allowed to post comments in the Bible stating that certain remarks in the passages may be "out of date", and suggest revisions and/or "alternative theories". I mean hey, I'm no expert on theology but dangit, my opinions matter!

Bawheid
2004-Dec-20, 10:48 AM
Do these people believe everything in the bible is literal and true? I'm not looking for a fight here, simply a question from someone who lives in a society where virtually no-one reads the bible or goes to church.

Swift
2004-Dec-20, 02:34 PM
Do these people believe everything in the bible is literal and true? I'm not looking for a fight here, simply a question from someone who lives in a society where virtually no-one reads the bible or goes to church.
Yes they do. My sister is a born-again christian and as near as I can tell (we don't discuss this much) she believes it is the literal truth.

Swift
2004-Dec-20, 02:37 PM
<skip.
Should we add the Genesis account to our astronomy classes?

Not only that, we should also teach "alternatives" like the moon landings were faked. History classes should also teach this, as well as alternative history ideas.

I'm not serious, but I think the reasoning (or lack there of) is the same.

Bawheid
2004-Dec-20, 04:25 PM
Do these people believe everything in the bible is literal and true? I'm not looking for a fight here, simply a question from someone who lives in a society where virtually no-one reads the bible or goes to church.
Yes they do. My sister is a born-again christian and as near as I can tell (we don't discuss this much) she believes it is the literal truth.

I find that very odd. No more odd than living in a sectarian society where no-one reads the bible or goes to church, but odd nontheless.

Disinfo Agent
2004-Dec-20, 06:14 PM
The folks interested in changing the textbooks are NOT biologists, and few are professional scientists.
Brilliant! Ok, I'm not a theologist, Christian, or even religious... so I'm going to start writing religious studies texts. Who wants in?
I don't think there's anything wrong with you writing about religion, whatever your professional background and beliefs, and the same goes for science. However, a particular theory in a particular book should not be allowed in public school curricula just because someone wrote it somewhere.

Moose
2004-Dec-20, 06:44 PM
Do these people believe everything in the bible is literal and true? I'm not looking for a fight here, simply a question from someone who lives in a society where virtually no-one reads the bible or goes to church.

Yeah, I can second that. My co-worker claims to believe in the "literal truth" of the bible. He's otherwise* a very smart, sensible guy.

(* Not intended as rock throwing. That was meant in a "ignoring this one issue of disagreement totally" sense.)

Disinfo Agent
2004-Dec-20, 06:53 PM
I am constantly astonished at the amount of political sway non-biologists have over the teaching of biology in public school systems. It's like Richard Hoagland advising you astronomers about how to perform your research. It's simply absurd.

This only bolsters my impression that the average american knows as much about science as a grapefruit.
Hoagland and people like him do have some advantages over scientists, from the point of view of the common man. They speak in simplistic terms and short catchphrases that anyone can grasp. Scientists, on the other hand, talk in a complicated language of their own -- who knows what they're really saying, anyway?...

Alas, this is a serious problem with science: it often takes some previous exposure, and hard work, to even understand what it's telling you, let alone discuss its merits.


He asks for transitional species, and if you point them out, he asks for ones between those. it never ends. And then there is the we-never-witnessed-it-so it can't be known argument.

Not to trot the arguments out, but there are plenty of people out there who think that way. My former business partner believes in a new earth. I point out things like carbon dating techniques, and his response is, "How can a machine that hasn't even been around 50 years tell us the earth is millions of years old? Doesn't make sense."

My wife doesn't believe we can translate Egyptian heiroglyphs or the Maya ones. She tells me those scientists are guessing and assuming something because it fits their expectations and they have no idea what the stuff really says.

Bottom line here is many people don't believe we know what we know. It boils down to, "Oh they are just saying that."
This always reminds me of Winston Churchill's famous saying:

"Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time".

Replace "government" with "knowledge", and "democracy" with "science", and you'll still get a true proposition.

What those people have failed to realise is that all knowledge, all knowledge, is ultimately tentative. Sometimes I think epistemology should be a mandatory subject.

beskeptical
2004-Dec-21, 02:52 AM
Archman, re-read my post. Your response seems to have missed my point.

HerrProfessorDoktor
2004-Dec-21, 05:09 AM
From my memories of public school (This was 10-15 years ago), the scientific method was covered briefly and in a very early grade. Just one lesson among many, easily forgotten. I don't remember many situations if any where we were asked to apply it to prove a hypothesis. The approach was more, "this is the way scientists reason," not that it should be used as a guide for reasoning by the rest of us. And being somewhat of a pessimist, I'm sure there would be a parental uproar if students were uniformly taught logic and reason, as if it were a conspiracy to undermine their belief teachings by turning their kids into "reactionary" skeptics.

Most science lessons in subsequent years consisted of the dissemination of facts. Which is of course important, but rarely was there a case study presented of how those facts were arrived at (besides the usual quick bios on Newton, Mendel, etc.). I think the average kid who forgot that long ago lesson on the scientific method got the impression that science is a big game of trivia, assumptions and a shade of "because I said so." We were told that this is the way it is, not that this is the way it turned out to be after a rigorous process of experiment and replication.

I'm afraid this impression seems to have become conventional wisdom in a lot of cases. Science does become another dogma in their mind, which means that any other "because I said so" becomes equally valid.

All most people see of science is in the news, "Scientists today announced [insert fact here]..." or movies, where most scientists are crazy guys who have hunches which just happen to be right. What happens behind the curtain is a black box to them. I think a lot of them would be surprised to see science in process, to see the ideas flow and to see how questions are welcomed as steps on the path toward truth.

I think we see a bit of that on this board, such as in the current discussion about Dione (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=18397), or in the polite but rigorous examinations of alternative theories. These conversations serve to illustrate scientific discussion in real-time to everyone. The problem is, only a few are tuning in among millions.

I am often told by religious folks that a skeptic and atheist such as myself is missing out by not knowing the comfort and power of faith. But isn't it equally if not more comforting to know that what you believe is backed by countless years of hard work and has run the gauntlet of proof until it earns the title of fact? Isn't that added satisfaction why so many try to prove their faith with things like "creation science?"

Maksutov
2004-Dec-21, 05:53 AM
[edit]I am often told by religious folks that a skeptic and atheist such as myself is missing out by not knowing the comfort and power of faith. But isn't it equally if not more comforting to know that what you believe is backed by countless years of hard work and has run the gauntlet of proof until it earns the title of fact? Isn't that added satisfaction why so many try to prove their faith with things like "creation science?"
Excellent analysis. While raising my son and doing what was necessary to assure that he knew how to do critical thinking on his own, became self-confident and self-sufficient, and always questioned authority (even his father's, the best example of all), I found out that the majority of parents don't want their children to think. Instead they want them to "fit in". Parents influence school agendas through PTOs, peer-pressure, etc. Hence we have the product of this type of training, which tends to be a self-perpetuating cycle of scientific illiteracy, among many other negative things.

My response to that old "comfort and 'power' of faith" saw is that I find absolute comfort in facing reality, and I know that deep inside there is no comfort in self-deception.

HerrProfessorDoktor
2004-Dec-21, 06:49 AM
While raising my son and doing what was necessary to assure that he knew how to do critical thinking on his own, became self-confident and self-sufficient, and always questioned authority (even his father's, the best example of all)...

Oh, but the "I said so" route probably would have been so much easier. :wink:

I think blind faith does introduce a certain level of insecurity. Since the advent of modern science, this faith has been put on the defensive. It now has the burden of proof overshadowing it, so it must use the same processes of reason that science uses to legitimize itself. I think this is a good thing, so long as it's done honestly, and with a full acceptance of the ramifications (i.e. your current belief may not win in the end).

Science and religion are not necessarily incompatible, but like hardware, if you plug one into another's realm either it's going to work on those terms or it's not.

I was raised in a fundamentalist Christian household. But, I also had a ravenous interest in science. In my teenage years I finally read the Bible all the way through, and proceeded to try to reconcile it with the physical reality I knew had to be true. Ironically, it was evolution that started to unravel my faith. At that point I knew the word of the Bible could not be accepted literally. Sorry, but Satan planting the fossil evidence doesn't cut it. After that, I gradually arrived at the point where I didn't need any of it anymore.

That's not to say that path is for everyone, but I didn't feel like I had lost anything. I felt more secure in my beliefs than I ever had. I remember in church we were always in a battle to prove "them" wrong. Now, I welcome being proven wrong. Every time one of my preconceptions is blown away I emerge that much wiser. I don't mind at all changing my beliefs to fit the facts, rather than the other way around.

I think that's what a lot of people don't get about the process, that science is open to the burden of proof. If you think it's wrong, the ball's in your court, and the game is being played fairly.

archman
2004-Dec-21, 07:18 AM
Archman, re-read my post. Your response seems to have missed my point.
I couldn't tell what was satire and what wasn't, and I interpreted at least three different points; that's highly convoluted writing structure. So I just picked out standalone sentences to enhance upon. I wasn't being mean or a weenie.

As for the problems in secondary education, I think it has a lot to do with the recent national upswing in conservative beliefs. I've been hearing the faculty in my department discussing this quite a bit, and it makes sense. Highly conservative president in second consecutive term, and national legislature controlled by predominantly conservative politicos. Not that being "conservative" is inherently bad, but the demographic generally reflects a higher percentage of hardline christians. So the life sciences folks (and maybe other scientists) are feeling the pressure. Studies involving genetic engineering, evolution, and oddly, ecology... these are all getting hammered in the U.S. by thinly concealed (or not concealed at all!) christian-sponsored initiatives.

I surmise these disciplines have been isolated out due to their encroachment on certain religious beliefs.

Hopefully this is just a "phase".

beskeptical
2004-Dec-21, 08:17 AM
Archman, re-read my post. Your response seems to have missed my point.
I couldn't tell what was satire and what wasn't, and I interpreted at least three different points; that's highly convoluted writing structure. So I just picked out standalone sentences to enhance upon. I wasn't being mean or a weenie.

As for the problems in secondary education, I think it has a lot to do with the recent national upswing in conservative beliefs. I've been hearing the faculty in my department discussing this quite a bit, and it makes sense. Highly conservative president in second consecutive term, and national legislature controlled by predominantly conservative politicos. Not that being "conservative" is inherently bad, but the demographic generally reflects a higher percentage of hardline christians. So the life sciences folks (and maybe other scientists) are feeling the pressure. Studies involving genetic engineering, evolution, and oddly, ecology... these are all getting hammered in the U.S. by thinly concealed (or not concealed at all!) christian-sponsored initiatives.

I surmise these disciplines have been isolated out due to their encroachment on certain religious beliefs.

Hopefully this is just a "phase".I posted no satire. :-?

What I said was the claim that science excludes hypotheses that support religious interpretations was, in essence, denial. Science includes all hypotheses for which there is evidence or potential evidence of support.

Persons wishing to see their 'religion supporting version' of science included in education, in science circles, in research are in denial that their version is being excluded for lack of evidence. Instead, they prefer to ignore the lack of evidence and imagine science is excluding their version for other reasons.

It is the denial that needs to be addressed. You can explain the lack of evidence, you can show examples of what science does with other hypotheses, you can present evidence supporting evolution or whatever else you are dealing with. But what you get are the same discussions, as if you had to start over explaining your position every time you finished.

In other words, we aren't just dealing with a problem that can be solved by presenting the facts, by presenting knowledge, by demonstrating. We have to address the denial.

I don't disagree with anything you posted. Of course it is the threat to one's beliefs we are dealing with. I totally agree. But it isn't a knowledge deficit in many cases. It is that knowledge is being denied.

beskeptical
2004-Dec-21, 08:25 AM
There is plenty of room for alternate hypotheses and theories in any science field. Except that the proposed creationist-styled hypotheses and theories are not coming from the biologists, but for the most part non-experts. When we biologists scrutinize these "theories", we inevitably find glaring problems with them.
This is the heart of the problem. They really are not viable alternative theories.I have no desire to see pseudo science 'accepted'. What I am saying that you are missing is hypotheses and theories lacking credible evidence is what is being excluded. Those with certain religious beliefs would instead believe valid science is being excluded.



Biblical accounts are not discounted by biased scientists nor educators. That is the smoke screen used by Bible literalists to cover up the real fact their beliefs are discounted because of evidence and lack of evidence. Well, we'll discount the biblical accounts if they're used inappropriately in lieu of known scientific observations. ......Re-read my sentence here. Biblical accounts are not discounted because of scientific bias, they are discounted because of lack of evidence.

Disinfo Agent
2004-Dec-21, 11:32 AM
As for the problems in secondary education, I think it has a lot to do with the recent national upswing in conservative beliefs. I've been hearing the faculty in my department discussing this quite a bit, and it makes sense. Highly conservative president in second consecutive term, and national legislature controlled by predominantly conservative politicos.
But all these pressures on schools started long before the current president and his cabinet came to power, didn't they?


So the life sciences folks (and maybe other scientists) are feeling the pressure. Studies involving genetic engineering, evolution, and oddly, ecology... these are all getting hammered in the U.S. by thinly concealed (or not concealed at all!) christian-sponsored initiatives.
That conservative politicians hammer ecology is hardly surprising.

Ut
2004-Dec-21, 02:55 PM
Yeah, I'm not sure sure the fight against ecology is a religious thing. More of a big business thing. If you can smother the cries from ecologists who are saying you're killing the planet, you can just keep on doing what you're doing -- killing the planet.

Makgraf
2004-Dec-21, 05:40 PM
As for the problems in secondary education, I think it has a lot to do with the recent national upswing in conservative beliefs. I've been hearing the faculty in my department discussing this quite a bit, and it makes sense. Highly conservative president in second consecutive term, and national legislature controlled by predominantly conservative politicos.
But all these pressures on schools started long before the current president and his cabinet came to power, didn't they?.
Yeah the guy defending creationism in the infamous Scopes Monkey Trials was William Jennings Bryan, a Democrat. Incidentally, one of the reasons he objected to the textbook is that it used evolution to justify capitalism.

Disinfo Agent
2004-Dec-21, 05:48 PM
I was thinking of the second half of the 20th century, though. Speaking of which (http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/scopes/confspeech.html)...

archman
2004-Dec-21, 10:44 PM
Yeah, I'm not sure sure the fight against ecology is a religious thing. More of a big business thing. If you can smother the cries from ecologists who are saying you're killing the planet, you can just keep on doing what you're doing -- killing the planet.
Big business is always a problem, but so are many of the organized religions. In the minds of the more hardline sects, the Earth will take care of itself, or their particular god will. Biological resources are not viewed as being finite. Complex and/or chaotic community interactions are all part of a "master plan", and the continued study and interpretation of ecosystems is non-productive...

It's rather odd thinking, but it does happen. Being an ecologist in a highly religious region of the U.S., I can vouch for it... I've straight-out asked many a person their view on this, and gotten this sort of response. Some of these people are even students of mine... in biology.

archman
2004-Dec-21, 10:53 PM
As for the problems in secondary education, I think it has a lot to do with the recent national upswing in conservative beliefs. I've been hearing the faculty in my department discussing this quite a bit, and it makes sense. Highly conservative president in second consecutive term, and national legislature controlled by predominantly conservative politicos.
But all these pressures on schools started long before the current president and his cabinet came to power, didn't they?

There's been a marked upswing in media attention over the last year or two, above and beyond the "normal" background amount. The political climate is ripe, and people and organizations are taking advantage of the times to push their agendas. Its a pretty marked change down at my university in particular.

Disinfo Agent
2004-Dec-22, 11:45 AM
In the minds of the more hardline sects, the Earth will take care of itself, or their particular god will. Biological resources are not viewed as being finite. Complex and/or chaotic community interactions are all part of a "master plan", and the continued study and interpretation of ecosystems is non-productive...

It's rather odd thinking, but it does happen. Being an ecologist in a highly religious region of the U.S., I can vouch for it... I've straight-out asked many a person their view on this, and gotten this sort of response. Some of these people are even students of mine... in biology.
That is odd! What brings people with such convictions to a field like Biology?

Fram
2004-Dec-22, 12:24 PM
In the minds of the more hardline sects, the Earth will take care of itself, ...

That's one thing I have to agree with. It won't take care of us though #-o

Ut
2004-Dec-22, 02:09 PM
In the minds of the more hardline sects, the Earth will take care of itself, or their particular god will. Biological resources are not viewed as being finite. Complex and/or chaotic community interactions are all part of a "master plan", and the continued study and interpretation of ecosystems is non-productive...

It's rather odd thinking, but it does happen. Being an ecologist in a highly religious region of the U.S., I can vouch for it... I've straight-out asked many a person their view on this, and gotten this sort of response. Some of these people are even students of mine... in biology.
That is odd! What brings people with such convictions to a field like Biology?

Perhaps a desire to know God's creations? Or to perhaps show that their beliefs trump the studies that have come before them? Those are two reasons I can think of that would possess a religous zealot to persue such a field. Know thy God, or know thine enemy, ya know?

Swift
2004-Dec-22, 02:25 PM
In the minds of the more hardline sects, the Earth will take care of itself, or their particular god will. Biological resources are not viewed as being finite. Complex and/or chaotic community interactions are all part of a "master plan", and the continued study and interpretation of ecosystems is non-productive...

It's rather odd thinking, but it does happen. Being an ecologist in a highly religious region of the U.S., I can vouch for it... I've straight-out asked many a person their view on this, and gotten this sort of response. Some of these people are even students of mine... in biology.
That is odd! What brings people with such convictions to a field like Biology?

Perhaps a desire to know God's creations? Or to perhaps show that their beliefs trump the studies that have come before them? Those are two reasons I can think of that would possess a religous zealot to persue such a field. Know thy God, or know thine enemy, ya know?
I have met some strongly religous people who shared the views mentioned by archman, sort of "god gave us this Earth to do whatever we please" added with its all going to end soon (Rapture, Armageddon) so why preserve it. The most famous person like that, IMHO, was James Watts, Reagan's first Secretary of the Interior.

But I have also met some religous people with just the opposite view. When I was active in the Sierra Club, one of my fellow local activists was a strongly Catholic woman who was very active in the church on environmental issues (and the Catholic church supported this work). They were of the opinion that god had made us the stewards and "shepards" of this Earth and it was our duty to protect his creation.

I guess it comes down to how you interpret "God gave man dominion over all creation" (or how you want to use it to justify your opinion).

Ut
2004-Dec-22, 03:11 PM
I thought it was "God gave us the Earth to do whatever we please... except touch that darn apple tree." Are these people conveniently ignoring their own doctrine? Or am I conveniently forgetting that "Jesus saves"?

There is truth in that stance, though. We can do whatever we like to the Earth. There's little to stop humanity, aside from the elements. But actions have consequences, and I'm at a loss as to why people would decide that their actions are inconsequential. To the best of my knowledge, there is no seriously considered religious text anywhere that says if you abuse the world, it will treat you well.

teddyv
2004-Dec-22, 05:04 PM
But I have also met some religous people with just the opposite view. When I was active in the Sierra Club, one of my fellow local activists was a strongly Catholic woman who was very active in the church on environmental issues (and the Catholic church supported this work). They were of the opinion that god had made us the stewards and "shepards" of this Earth and it was our duty to protect his creation.

I guess it comes down to how you interpret "God gave man dominion over all creation" (or how you want to use it to justify your opinion).

The approach of stewardship of the earth is what I have always been taught.

archman
2004-Dec-23, 12:38 AM
In the minds of the more hardline sects, the Earth will take care of itself, or their particular god will. Biological resources are not viewed as being finite. Complex and/or chaotic community interactions are all part of a "master plan", and the continued study and interpretation of ecosystems is non-productive...

It's rather odd thinking, but it does happen. Being an ecologist in a highly religious region of the U.S., I can vouch for it... I've straight-out asked many a person their view on this, and gotten this sort of response. Some of these people are even students of mine... in biology.
That is odd! What brings people with such convictions to a field like Biology?

A lot of them go into the medical/veterinary/agricultural sub-disciplines, which generally don't have to deal with concepts like evolution. Fair enough.

ZaphodBeeblebrox
2004-Dec-23, 01:00 AM
In the minds of the more hardline sects, the Earth will take care of itself, or their particular god will. Biological resources are not viewed as being finite. Complex and/or chaotic community interactions are all part of a "master plan", and the continued study and interpretation of ecosystems is non-productive...

It's rather odd thinking, but it does happen. Being an ecologist in a highly religious region of the U.S., I can vouch for it... I've straight-out asked many a person their view on this, and gotten this sort of response. Some of these people are even students of mine... in biology.
That is odd! What brings people with such convictions to a field like Biology?

A lot of them go into the medical/veterinary/agricultural sub-disciplines, which generally don't have to deal with concepts like evolution. Fair enough.

Not sure I like the Idea, of a Doctor who Doesn't Believe in Evolution ....

Wouldn't Want him Touching me, Anyway ...

beskeptical
2004-Dec-23, 09:17 AM
....I have met some strongly religous people who shared the views mentioned by archman, sort of "god gave us this Earth to do whatever we please" added with its all going to end soon (Rapture, Armageddon) so why preserve it. The most famous person like that, IMHO, was James Watts, Reagan's first Secretary of the Interior......From what I heard Jerry Falwell say, he doesn't believe 'man' is capable of ruining 'God's' creation. So he worries not about trashing the place.

Maksutov
2004-Dec-23, 09:31 AM
....I have met some strongly religous people who shared the views mentioned by archman, sort of "god gave us this Earth to do whatever we please" added with its all going to end soon (Rapture, Armageddon) so why preserve it. The most famous person like that, IMHO, was James Watts, Reagan's first Secretary of the Interior......From what I heard Jerry Falwell say, he doesn't believe 'man' is capable of ruining 'God's' creation. So he worries not about trashing the place.
Good point.

Try driving through the southeast U.S. north of Florida using the local roads. This region is almost 100% populated by xian fundamentalists. Check out the trash on the sides of the highways. They consider the outdoors their personal garbage dumps. But since every week they hear that the outdoors and the rest of the world will be destroyed by some sky creature very soon, they have no motivation to care for the environment.

BTW, this isn't based on conjecture. The trash is real, and based on conversations with many of these people, so is their attitude.