Missouri Lawmaker Introduces Legislation That Would Make Learning about Evolution in Public Schools “Optional”

RickBrattinSubmitted by Elaine Magliaro, Weekend Contributor

(NOTE: Correction and Update Below)

A Missouri lawmaker has proposed legislation that would make learning about evolution in public schools “optional.” State Rep. Rick Brattin (R), the main sponsor of House Bill 291—also known as the “Missouri Standard Science Act”—introduced the bill in January. Brattin told KCTV, a local station, that teaching only evolution in school was “indoctrination.” He continued, “Our schools basically mandate that we teach one side. It is an indoctrination because it is not objective approach.”

The Kansas City Star reported that Brattin said, “…forcing students to study the natural selection theories developed by Charles Darwin a century and a half ago can violate their religious faith. It’s an absolute infringement on people’s beliefs.” Critics of Brattin’s bill say his legislation “would allow religious faith in biblical explanations to crowd out sound science.”

HB 291 would require schools to notify parents if “the theory of evolution by natural selection” was being taught at their child’s school—and give students the opportunity to “opt out of the class.” According to Dana Liebelson of Mother Jones, HB 291 “redefines a few things you thought you already knew about science.”

Liebelson:

For example, a “hypothesis” is redefined as something that reflects a “minority of scientific opinion and is “philosophically unpopular.” A scientific theory is “an inferred explanation…whose components are data, logic and faith-based philosophy.” And “destiny” is not something that $5 fortune tellers believe in; Instead, it’s “the events and processes that define the future of the universe, galaxies, stars, our solar system, earth, plant life, animal life, and the human race.”

Liebelson added that the “Missouri Standard Science Act” also requires that public elementary and secondary schools in the state—as well as introductory science classes at public universities—“give equal textbook space to both evolution and intelligent design.”

From the National Center for Science Education:

HB 291’s text is about 3000 words long, beginning with a declaration that the bill is to be known as the Missouri Standard Science Act, followed by a defectively alphabetized glossary providing idiosyncratic definitions of “analogous naturalistic processes,” “biological evolution,” “biological intelligent design,” “destiny,” “empirical data,” “equal treatment,” “hypothesis,” “origin,” “scientific theory,” “scientific law,” and “standard science.”

Among the substantive provisions of the bill, applying both to Missouri’s public elementary and secondary schools and to introductory science courses in public institutions of higher education in the state: “If scientific theory concerning biological origin is taught in a course of study, biological evolution and biological intelligent design shall be taught. Other scientific theory or theories of origin may be taught.”

For public elementary and secondary schools, HB 291 also provides, “If scientific theory concerning biological origin is taught in a textbook, the textbook shall give equal treatment to biological evolution and biological intelligent design.” After the bill is enacted, new textbooks purchased for the public schools will have to conform to the equal treatment requirement. A committee will develop supplementary material on “intelligent design” for optional interim use.

Eric Meikle, the education director at the National Center for Science Education, said that he couldn’t “imagine” that any mainstream textbook publisher would comply with the bill’s textbook requirement. Meikle said, “The material doesn’t exist.”

Brattin told The Riverfront Times that he was a “science enthusiast” and “a huge science buff.” He added. “This [bill] is about testable data in today’s world.” Meikle disagrees with Brattin. Meikle told Mother Jones, “This bill is very idiosyncratic and strange. And there is simply not scientific evidence for intelligence design.”

And people wonder why some of our students are falling behind international peers in science.

Creation Science 101 by Roy Zimmerman

Correction and Update

It has been called to my attention by Willy Kessler that HB291 was introduced in 2013 and “allowed to die.” Brattin was sponsor of another bill (HB 1472) this year which would require Missouri public schools to notify parents when evolution is being taught and to allow students to opt out of classes.

From the National Center for Science Education (January 17, 2014)

 Antievolution legislation in Missouri

Missouri’s House Bill 1472, introduced in the House of Representatives on January 16, 2013, is the third antiscience bill of the year, following Virginia’s HB 207 and Oklahoma’s SB 1765. If enacted, the bill would require “[a]ny school district or charter school which provides instruction relating to the theory of evolution by natural selection” to have “a policy on parental notification and a mechanism where a parent can choose to remove the student from any part of the district’s or school’s instruction on evolution.” Parents and guardians would receive a notification containing “[t]he basic content of the district’s or school’s evolution instruction to be provided to the student” and “[t]he parent’s right to remove the student from any part of the district’s or school’s evolution instruction.”

NCSE’s deputy director Glenn Branch commented, “House Bill 1472 would eviscerate the teaching of biology in Missouri.” Quoting “The OOPSIE Compromise — A Big Mistake,” which Eugenie C. Scott and he wrote for Evolution: Education and Outreach in 2008, he added, “Evolution inextricably pervades the biological sciences; it therefore pervades, or at any rate ought to pervade, biology education at the K–12 level. There simply is no alternative to learning about it; there is no substitute activity. A teacher who tries to present biology without mentioning evolution is like a director trying to produce Hamlet without casting the prince.” Teachers, schools, and districts would suffer as well, Branch observed. “The value of a high school education in Missouri would be degraded.”

The sponsors of HB 1472 are Rick Brattin (R-District 55) and Andy Koenig (R-District 99). Both have a history of sponsoring antievolution legislation in Missouri. In 2012, Koenig sponsored and Brattin cosponsored House Bill 1276, a “strengths and weaknesses” bill, and Brattin sponsored and Koenig cosponsored House Bill 1227, which would have required equal time for “intelligent design” in public schools, including introductory courses at colleges and universities. In 2013, Koenig sponsored and Brattin cosponsored House Bill 179, a “strengths and weaknesses” bill, and Brattin sponsored and Koenig cosponsored House Bill 291, which would have required equal time for “intelligent design” in public schools, including introductory courses at colleges and universities. All died.

SOURCES

Missouri lawmaker wants to make evolution teaching optional (KCTV)

Unprecedented Attack On Evolution ‘Indoctrination’ Mounted In Missouri (Talking Points Memo)

Anti-Evolution Missouri Bill Requires College Students to Learn About Destiny (Mother Jones)

Rick Brattin, Who Wants Anti-Evolution Lessons In Missouri Schools: “I’m A Science Enthusiast” (Riverfront Times)

Missouri bill would let parents pull kids from evolution classes (Kansas City Star)

Missouri lawmaker introduces bill allowing familes to ‘opt out’ of learning evolution (Daily Kos)

“Intelligent design” bill in Missouri (National Center for Science Education)

House Bill No. 291

Submitted by Elaine Magliaro

The views expressed in this posting are the author’s alone and not those of the blog, the host, or other weekend bloggers. As an open forum, weekend bloggers post independently without pre-approval or review. Content and any displays or art are solely their decision and responsibility.

149 thoughts on “Missouri Lawmaker Introduces Legislation That Would Make Learning about Evolution in Public Schools “Optional”

  1. Stork Theory should be taught in sex-ed. Stop the indoctrination of our adolescents regarding this whole “natural” sex dogma. You know, balance.

  2. Looks like Rick Brattin has been getting some mail order from Colorado. These people do not have much on the Taliban and Islamic fundamentalists. Amazing ignorance in a time of immense and easily attainable knowledge. Shame

  3. An amazing story Elaine. It is disturbing that people just don’t get it. People who try to get creationism into the mainstream public school education process are either ignoring the facts or want the Bible to replace the constitution. They can enroll in a private religious school and get all the creationism nonsense that they want, without violating the Constitution.

  4. Amazing… Just absolutely amazing…. Don’t they have the ability to home school their kids so they won’t be subjected to anything that disagrees with there views of the world….

  5. In my Wisconsin state-licensed standing as a Wisconsin Professional Engineer, whose engineering degrees (B.S. and Ph.D. are in bioengineering), I find that the Wisconsin regulations of my profession require that i work in accord with the Code of Ethics of the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE), of which I happen to be a member.

    For non-engineers (people not formally or informally educated in the ways of engineering as a profession that connects science with practical applications of science?), I have confabulated a simple (or, non-engineering based?) explanation of the NSPE Code of Ethics, with all the “filler fluff” that I observe in the NSPE Code of Ethics extricated from said confabulation:

    The confabulation is, to wit, as I can write it right now: “In my work as a Professional Engineer, I am to 1. hold paramount the public safety. 2. work in, and only in, areas of my professional competence. 3. do (1) and (2) without deception.”

    As my work is in bioengineering and bioengineering is engineering applied to the phenomenon of life, to not be in violation of the NSPE Code of Ethics, I need to be a competent biologist. I herewith stipulate that, in accord with the NSPE Code of Ethics, I am a competent biologist with respect to the state of the creation of the evolution of the creativity of human evolving unriddling and fathoming of biology. I neither stipulate nor claim to live in a future which has yet to exist nor to live in a past which no longer exists save as what can be remembered of its having completed itself before now.

    As I stipulate that, with respect to my bioengineering work, I am a competent biologist, and as I have stated that my license requires that I work without deception, I find I need to state something about my biology-based grasp of “intelligent design.”

    I am reminded of the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) project, one which I deem worth some modicum of effort because the nature of so-called “intelligence” intrigues me.

    For starters, I have sometimes come upon the term, “military intelligence.” As a biologist/bioengineer, I have grave doubts that “military intelligence” can ever actually exist in any actually tangible form whatsoever.

    The SETI thing is more intriguing to me than the phantasm of “military intelligence,” alas…

    Were it up to me to choose where to look for intelligence, I would start here on what I take (mistakenly, i suspect) to be what intelligent design believers may hold to truly be Terra Firma. (Please note that I am fully content to avow that, from the view of intelligent design, Alfred Wegener was an unconscionable heretical apostate.)

    I would start the search for actual intelligence here on Planet Earth because it is conveniently close at hand. If no hint, trace, wisp, iota dissipated vapor of intelligence can be found on Planet Earth, how on earth, or any where else, can people accurately understand what they are looking for extraterrestrially?

    The one principle (not “principal”) problem I have with the view of intelligent design is my never yet having observed that actual intelligence has yet been created.

    Oops?

  6. As unambiguous evidence that I, for one, am not intelligent, consider the following demonstration from my immediately prior comment, to wit”

    “In my Wisconsin state-licensed standing as a Wisconsin Professional Engineer, whose engineering degrees (B.S. and Ph.D. are in bioengineering), ”

    Were I even slightly intelligent, surely I would have used parentheses properly, as in:

    In my Wisconsin state-licensed standing as a Wisconsin Professional Engineer, whose engineering degrees (B.S. and Ph.D.) are in bioengineering,

    I believe that my not being intelligent is thus amply proved.

  7. Someone once told me that Missouri is the buckle on the belt of the “Bible Belt.” Regarding Elaine Magliaro’s article, Missouri Lawmaker Introduces Legislation That Would Make Learning about Evolution in Public Schools “Optional” It does not seem too complicated to me. There is enough room in our great country for Evolution & Creationism, and let the individual decide for them self.

  8. From the National Center for Science Education:

    The year’s antievolution legislation so far
    2/1/14
    http://ncse.com/news/2013/02/years-antievolution-legislation-so-far-0014699

    Excerpt:
    “Four US states are considering new legislation about teaching science in schools, allowing pupils to be taught religious versions of how life on earth developed in what critics say would establish a backdoor way of questioning the theory of evolution,” the Guardian (January 13, 2013) summarizes. The states in question are Colorado (House Bill 13-1089), Missouri (House Bill 179 and House Bill 291), Montana (House Bill 183), and Oklahoma (Senate Bill 758 and House Bill 1674) — to which should be added Arizona (Senate Bill 1213) and Indiana (House Bill 1283), for a grand total of eight bills in six states.

  9. Map: Publicly Funded Schools That Are Allowed to Teach Creationism.
    Thousands of schools in states across the country can use taxpayer money to cast doubt on basic science.
    By Chris Kirk
    1/26/14
    http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2014/01/creationism_in_public_schools_mapped_where_tax_money_supports_alternatives.html

    Excerpt:
    A large, publicly funded charter school system in Texas is teaching creationism to its students, Zack Kopplin recently reported in Slate. Creationist teachers don’t even need to be sneaky about it—the Texas state science education standards, as well as recent laws in Louisiana and Tennessee, permit public school teachers to teach “alternatives” to evolution. Meanwhile, in Florida, Indiana, Ohio, Arizona, Washington, D.C., and elsewhere, taxpayer money is funding creationist private schools through state tuition voucher or scholarship programs. As the map below illustrates, creationism in schools isn’t restricted to schoolhouses in remote villages where the separation of church and state is considered less sacred. If you live in any of these states, there’s a good chance your tax money is helping to convince some hapless students that evolution (the basis of all modern biological science, supported by everything we know about geology, genetics, paleontology, and other fields) is some sort of highly contested scientific hypothesis as credible as “God did it.”

  10. Evolution and Creationism in Schools
    National Academy of Sciences
    http://www.nas.edu/evolution/InSchools.html

    The pressure to downplay evolution or emphasize nonscientific alternatives in public schools compromises science education.

    Despite the lack of scientific evidence for creationist positions, some advocates continue to demand that various forms of creationism be taught together with or in place of evolution in science classes. Many teachers are under considerable pressure from policy makers, school administrators, parents, and students to downplay or eliminate the teaching of evolution. As a result, many U.S. students lack access to information and ideas that are both integral to modern science and essential for making informed, evidence-based decisions about their own lives and our collective future.

    Regardless of the careers that they ultimately select, to succeed in today’s scientifically and technologically sophisticated world, all students need a sound education in science. Many of today’s fast-growing and high-paying jobs require a familiarity with the core concepts, applications, and implications of science. To make informed decisions about public policies, people need to know how scientific evidence supports those policies and whether that evidence was gathered using well-established scientific practice and principles. Learning about evolution is an excellent way to help students understand the nature, processes, and limits of science in addition to concepts about this fundamentally important contribution to scientific knowledge.

    Given the importance of science in all aspects of modern life, the science curriculum should not be undermined with nonscientific material. Teaching creationist ideas in science classes confuses what constitutes science and what does not. It compromises the objectives of public education and the goal of a high-quality science education.

  11. This guy is of the same ilk as the nut cases in Pakistan and Afghanistan who slaughter teenagers for dancing to wester rock and roll. He is, of course no where near as extreme and thank heavens and hells that that sort of extremism is not possible today in the US. It was possible in the 17th Century but not today.

    We should send his kind to Geneva for a sit down with the Taliban.

  12. Why should schools be teaching evolution anyway? Everybody knows that Santa Claus created America in six days and on the seventh day He thought about banging the Tooth Fairy, giving us Christmas. Then the virgin fairy gave birth to Adam, who made a Bunny from some short ribs, giving us Easter. Aren’t we born knowing all this?

    Evolution is just some kind of crazy myth.

  13. I live in Missouri and the truly scary thing is that homeschooling is protected by law but is not monitored and has only the barest of requirements. It offends me greatly and maddens me that idiotic and ignorant legislation like this is foisted on the public schools when it is easy enough already to prevent your child from ever getting real science information. All a parent has to do is say to the school, “Hey, I’m home-schooling science.” That’s it. No one will ever check to see if the Bible is your science text book. Seriously. And people here truly do use their Bibles as history textbooks. I have home-schooled myself at times but that is because I don’t think the academics have been rigorous enough and the schools have low expectations. When I’ve done this, I’ve used real textbooks and even used some nationally accredited courses. By far, though, most of the home schooling families here are of the religious bent and it scares me to think of the ignorant generation they are raising.

    With homeschooling so easy here in Missouri, I can only conclude that this kind of legislation isn’t really about equal time or some kind of imposition on religious beliefs/rights, but rather is a sneaky way to once again try to impose their ignorance on the rest of the kids whose parents feel like maybe science is a good thing to learn. The hypocrisy is outrageous.

  14. Justin,
    You are wrong about there being room in science classes for both evolution and creationism. The latter is a religious teaching, not science. If you want religion, go to your house of religious faith, not a science classroom.

    When my oldest son was in pre-med, the first day of classes his biology professor started off his first lecture by warning the students that evolution was a fact of science, not a belief system that can be argued. He also told the students that if anyone wanted to hang on to creationist claptrap, they were in the wrong class, in the wrong program, in the wrong school, and should withdraw while they could still get a refund on tuition. That particular college is run by the Methodist Church. It is known as a “doctor factory” because they have a tough, science based curriculum. 100% of their pre-med graduates are accepted to medical school.

    As for what you call “anti-creationists,” the rest of the world calls them scientists. Science is based on observable and measurable evidence. It does not try to shoehorn evidence into a preconceived notion of what it ought to mean based on a unmeasurable and unscientific belief system.

  15. Religion offers simplistic answers to complex questions. When scientific methods are used to provide more complex answers, religionists seem to take this as a personal attack. It’s not. It’s just a more accurate explanation of what was previously unknown.

  16. rafflaw–you’re right, that’s why we need vouchers–let the parents place their children where they want them educated.
    Anonomously yours–home schooling is for parents who don’t have to go out and work to pay bills, like the 45% of welfare parents.
    Wayne–Are you saying that only (D) are brilliant. You poor fool.
    FYI–there are some religions who believe in parts of the evolution theory.
    BTW Darwin has been going through a lot of scrutiny lately and scientist are now questioning some of his theories.

  17. I’m neither a disciple of creationism nor evolution. But my own intelligence pokes holes in both sides. For one, why haven’t bacteria been able to evolve to survive in a jar of honey? At the same time, bacteria have defeated every known antibiotic thrown at them.

  18. Mr. Magliaro,
    I don’t know if you’re familiar with how many Roman Catholic scientist contributed to the various sciences. For instance, just to name a few: Gregor Mendal, Nicolas Copernicus, Roger Bacon, and Francisco Grimaldi, were both religious creationist and scientist. Many Jesuit priest’s also contributed to the various sciences in such areas as pendulum clocks, seismology, barometers, telescopes and microscopes. They worked and formed new discoveries in fields of magnetism, optics, and electricity. These men believed in science and in creationism. In conclusion, evolutionary science and religion can work together and should be taught in schools.

  19. Even strong supporters of Bill Nye are saying he got his ass kicked by Ken Ham in the evolution intelligent design debate. I didn’t see it.

  20. DavidM…. He will tell you….all you need to know,…. You’ll never have to buy a book or look anything up…. Justin…. He’s all knowing….

  21. Giovanna De La Paz,
    Of course some of what Darwin thought has been questioned. So have the theories of every great scientific pioneer. Even Newton, once Einstein came along. Stephen Hawking has revised some of his own theories and observations regarding cosmology and dense matter during his own lifetime. You really don’t want to get me started on the effect studies of quantum physics are causing in scientific thought. Scientists rethink a lot of things as new discoveries are made.

    Many of Freud’s observations have been questioned by more recent developments and discoveries in mental health…discoveries that were done by empirical testing. You know, where there are control groups, experimental groups, and statistical analysis of the findings.

    The thing about science that separates it from religious beliefs is that science is continually growing. Evolving, if you will. On the other hand, dogmatic religious believers refuse to adjust their thinking as new discoveries are made. Everything is based on a book written three millennia ago by bronze-age people living in the desert, and that cannot be questioned if one is a fundamentalist True Believer. There are religious groups which don’t even permit discussion or debate about what words or phrases in their religious texts mean. Some go so far as making such discussion a death penalty offense.

  22. Giovanna De La Paz,

    I’m not a “Mr.”

    I was raised Roman Catholic and attended parochial schools from first through twelfth grade. I was told by the Sisters of Notre Dame that the Bible was not a nonfiction book. I was taught about evolution in biology class. One can be religious and still believe in evolution. Creationism is not science; it is religion. It should not be taught as a scientific theory in public schools.

    BTW, let us not forget what the Catholic Church did to Galileo, one of the world’s great scientists.

  23. Mr. Stanley, I parted company with religion decades ago. But to get to that point I had to go through the ‘religion phase” in my life. I respect another individual’s right to freely make their own choices.

  24. JUSTIN L. PETACCIO

    In my 64 years, I’ve yet to meet that human being who has the market cornered on “the truth.”

    *****

    Yet, there are those who would close children’s minds to science.

  25. Every human being has a right to live their life they way they choose, as long as it does not interfere with another human being’s equal right to live their life they way they choose. You can spend your whole life studying philosophy, psychology, sociology, history and whatever other ology you want to study. In the end it all comes down to this: Live and let live.

  26. Ms. Magliaro thank you very much for bring this topic up for discussion. What we have here is a healthy, spirited, constructive discussion and that is always a good thing. As evidenced here, Americans have very strong opinions when it comes to religion.

  27. Justin, Liberals and conservatives, Dems and Republicans have a VERY difficult time not allowing people to choose their own way to live your life. They want to control what you say, what you eat, what you teach, your healthcare, the list goes on. Stick around, you have some like minded people w/ open minds. You know..libertarians.

  28. Spotlight on Rick Brattin
    7/3/13
    http://www.examiner.com/article/spotlight-on-rick-brattin

    Excerpt:
    Rick Brattin is the conservative State Representative serving Missouri’s 55th district. He has the standard Republican claims to want to return “both Missouri and our nation to the ideals we were founded on.” That means, like most Republicans, he has no idea what ideals this country was founded on but is pretty sure that the founding fathers were all baptist evangelicals.

    Recently he made national news with what can only be thought to be a satirical piece of legislation meant to poke fun at the thought of a War on Christmas. More specifically, House Bill 278 “prohibits any state or local governmental entity or public building, place, or setting from banning or restricting the practice, mention, celebration, or discussion of any federal holiday.” This legislation is only thought necessary by people who think FOX is a news organization.

    The fight to “protect Christmas” went to the governor’s desk along with another bill aimed at forbidding governments from enacting policies traceable to Agenda 21, a nonbinding resolution adopted in 1992 by the United Nations that encouraged sustainable development. Since Agenda 21 doesn’t mandate anything, that makes it just as useless.

    In a press release announcing the vetoes Gov. Nixon said:

    “While the problems these bills ostensibly aim to fight are only imaginary, the headaches they could create for local governments would be very real and costly. The new and unnecessary mandates imposed by these bills would have infringed on the rights of local communities and prompted a flood of frivolous litigation.”

  29. Mo. Lawmaker Wants Equal Room for Intelligent Design in Textbooks
    2/12/13
    http://www.ozarksfirst.com/story/mo-lawmaker-wants-equal-room-for-intelligent-design-in-textbooks/d/story/O3M9kVVlgU6MWPQyZs4Ncg

    Excerpt:
    Evolution and intelligent design are two theories of origin. Right now, evolution is taught in science classes, but this bill wants equal treatment of both theories in schools.

    “It’s bad science and that makes it bad education,” says John Heywood, professor of Biology at Missouri State University.

    Heywood says intelligent design doesn’t fit the model of science.

    “It makes testable predictions it has to say something about the world that can actually be checked out,” says Heywood about the model of science.

    This bill would require Missouri elementary and secondary schools and introductory science classes in public universities to give equal textbook space to both evolution and intelligent design, but Heywood says it’s unconstitutional because it goes against the separation of church and state.

    “Basically confusing our students as to what science is.”

  30. I do not agree with lawmakers forcing what is taught or not taught in public schools, but it is really ironic to observe in this thread all the science lovers defend the current orthodox dogma of science without a single reference to scientific proof.

  31. National Science Ed Center on Anti-Evolution Bill: “Last Thing Missouri Teachers Need”
    By Sam Levin
    Feb. 13, 2013
    http://blogs.riverfronttimes.com/dailyrft/2013/02/national_center_science_education_rick_brattin_evolution.php

    Excerpt;
    The Missouri legislature is getting national attention again — and not exactly the good kind. As we reported last week, Representative Rick Brattin, a Republican, is pushing a proposal to mandate that “intelligent design” be taught in all Missouri schools alongside evolution, telling us that he’s a “huge science buff,” who believes different origin theories should get equal treatment. His comments got him some love from Mother Jones magazine, and now the National Center for Science Education is weighing in. Unsurprisingly, they aren’t pleased.

    “This is the last thing Missouri teachers need,” says Eugenie Scott, executive director of NCSE. “Particularly since his definition and understanding of allegedly scientific defintions are simply wrong.”

    House Bill 291, called the Missouri Standard Science Act, as we outlined last week, would mandate that textbooks covering any scientific theory of biological origin devote equal treatment to evolution and intelligent design…

    “There’s plenty of information on evolution,” she says. “The trouble is intelligent design has shown no ability whatsoever to explain nature. So there’s really nothing to present for the intelligent design position as science…. And a careful reading of the intelligent design position would quickly reveal that the message is…evolution doesn’t work.”

    And on top of all these concerns, it also makes little sense to have lawmakers dictate so closely the content of a subject in the classroom. “It goes to such extraordinary detail about all of these specifics that teachers ought to be teaching.”

  32. We have a legislator in East Sedalia who will sponsor an amendment to the bill that will give the option to learn 8th Day Dog Adventist curriculum.

  33. Missouri bill redefines science, gives equal time to intelligent design
    Bill has a long list of brain-melting stipulations.
    by John Timmer
    Feb 12 2013
    http://arstechnica.com/science/2013/02/missouri-bill-redefines-science-gives-equal-time-to-intelligent-design/

    Excerpt:
    Each year, state legislatures play host to a variety of bills that would interfere with science education. Most of these are variations on a boilerplate intended to get supplementary materials into classrooms criticizing evolution and climate change (or to protect teachers who do). They generally don’t mention creationism, but the clear intent is to sneak religious content into the science classrooms, as evidenced by previous bills introduced by the same lawmakers. Most of them die in the legislature (although the opponents of evolution have seen two successes).

    The efforts are common enough that we don’t generally report on them. But every now and then a bill comes along that veers off this script. Late last month, the Missouri House started considering one that deviates in staggering ways. Instead of being quiet about its intent, it redefines science, provides a clearer definition of intelligent design than any of the idea’s advocates ever have, and it mandates equal treatment of the two. In the process, it mangles things so badly that teachers would be prohibited from discussing Mendel’s Laws.

    Although even the Wikipedia entry for scientific theory includes definitions provided by the world’s most prestigious organizations of scientists, the bill’s sponsor Rick Brattin has seen fit to invent his own definition. And it’s a head-scratcher: “‘Scientific theory,’ an inferred explanation of incompletely understood phenomena about the physical universe based on limited knowledge, whose components are data, logic, and faith-based philosophy.” The faith or philosophy involved remain unspecified.

    Brattin also mentions philosophy when he redefines “hypothesis” as “a scientific theory reflecting a minority of scientific opinion which may lack acceptance because it is a new idea, contains faulty logic, lacks supporting data, has significant amounts of conflicting data, or is philosophically unpopular.” The reason for that becomes obvious when he turns to intelligent design, which he defines as a hypothesis. Presumably, he thinks it’s only a hypothesis because it’s philosophically unpopular, since his bill would ensure it ends up in the classrooms.

    Intelligent design (ID) is roughly the concept that life is so complex that it requires a designer, but even its most prominent advocates have often been a bit wary about defining its arguments all that precisely. Not so with Brattin—he lists 11 concepts that are part of ID. Some of these are old-fashioned creationist claims, like the suggestion that mutations lead to “species degradation” and a lack of transitional fossils. But it also has some distinctive twists, like the claim that common features, usually used to infer evolutionary relatedness, are actually a sign of parts re-use by a designer.

  34. Actually HB291 was introduced last year and was allowed to die. Brattin has introduced a new anti-evolution bill that is potentially just as disastrous, HB1472, which would force schools to notify parents if they teach evolution and allow parents to “opt” their children out of the classes.

  35. Why stop at evolution?

    Imagine how advanced our studies of Newtonian physics, Relativistic Mechanics, Wave-Particle duality theory, Quantum Mechanics, Quantum Field Theory (etal) would be if science would only adhere to the rigid dogma of religion.

    How did religion fare in it’s dogmatic adherence to the geocentric model of our solar system?

    Ignorance is truly bliss.

  36. Willy,

    Thanks. Here’s what I just found:

    A second antievolution bill in Missouri
    January 27th, 2014
    http://ncse.com/news/2014/01/second-antievolution-bill-missouri-0015338

    Missouri’s House Bill 1587, introduced and given its first reading in the Missouri House of Representatives on January 23, 2014, is the fourth antiscience bill of the year and the second in the state. As is increasingly common with antiscience legislation, HB 1587 would, if enacted, in effect encourage science teachers with idiosyncratic opinions to teach anything they pleased — proponents of creationism and climate change denial are the usual intended beneficiaries of such bills — and discourage responsible educational authorities from intervening. The bill specifically cites “the theory of biological and hypotheses of chemical evolution” as controversial.

    HB 1587 would require state and local educational authorities to “assist teachers to find more effective ways to present the science curriculum where it addresses scientific controversies and permit teachers “to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of the theory of biological and hypotheses of chemical evolution”; it would prevent such authorities from “prohibit[ing] any teacher in a public school system of this state from helping students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of biological or chemical evolution whenever these subjects are taught.”

    The sponsor of HB 1587 is Andrew Koenig (R-District 99); its cosponsors are Rick Brattin (R-District 55), Donna Lichtenegger (R-District 146), Kurt Bahr (R-District 102), Galen Higdon (R-District 11), Sandy Crawford (R-District 129), and Paul Wieland (R-District 112). Koenig was the sponsor of a string of similar bills: HB 179 in 2013, HB 1276 in 2012, and HB 195 in 2011. All failed. Koenig is also a cosponsor of House Bill 1472 in 2014, a bill that would require equal time for “intelligent design” in Missouri’s public schools, including introductory courses at colleges and universities. He cosponsored the similar HB 291 in 2013 and HB 1227 in 2012; both failed.

  37. Marching inch by inch, foot by foot, step by step, to leap by leap of the cliff of rationality. So will it be like like Prayer in the School day? On Monday the prayer and science lesson will be Judeo Christian,Tuesday-Hindu, Wednesday-Rasatfarian, Thursday-Flying Spaghetti Monster, Friday is Islam day. Who gets to decide which creation story trumps the others? Who gets left out? The Wiccans are hurt and cast a spell, the Santerians are going to kill a chicken and curse the school board. Oh so many choices, I like the Native American creation story best myself.

  38. I don’t want to start World War 3 here, but if you really want to heat up the discussion, let’s move it from the classroom out into the real world. Is there a God? and if there is a God, why do you believe there is a God and if you believe there is no God, then why do you believe there is no God. Just let’s follow Nick Spinelli’s suggestion of let civility rule.

  39. There you have it: the easiest way to recruit future Christian soldiers. One of the most dangerous places where one can find the Evangelical Christian (Dominionists) soldiers is the Air Force. If you have time, google Mike Weinstein’s work on this. He’s sometime difficult to embrace but he surely has found a hornet’s nest, well, a nest of Dominionist hornets.

  40. Bratin’s bill if enacted would assure Missouri students finish high school with the equivalant of a 17th century science education. If Rick chooses to live in a bag it is his right. The good citezens of the state should stop him from consigning their childern to ignorance.

  41. Personanongrata wrote: “How did religion fare in it’s dogmatic adherence to the geocentric model of our solar system? Ignorance is truly bliss.”

    There is a lot of scientific mythology surrounding this event. Many people do not realize that both Copernicus and Galileo were Bible believing Christians who saw no conflict between science and religion. The work of Copernicus written a hundred years before Galileo was dedicated to the Pope and not put on the list of books in need of correction until Galileo’s time. Galileo attempted to prove the Copernican theory with a false understanding of tides that he believed was due to the earth’s movement and not the gravity of the moon as proposed by Kepler. Galileo even referred to Kepler’s theory as relying upon occult properties. Galileo put the burden of proof upon those who disbelieved his theory, to prove it false. Many tried to show how Galileo was wrong about the tides, but he would not see it. Galileo continued to believe that his understanding of the tides was the smoking gun to prove heliocentrism. Ultimately these factors led to the trial, which was not so much a conflict between science and religion, but just the arguments of a religious man who was also a scientist. Galileo was attempting to provide a scientific demonstration that would force a reinterpretation of Scripture that he considered to be divinely inspired. When his demonstration failed, partly because of his reliance upon a false scientific notion of tides, he recanted his position on the matter. Later his theory of tides was shown to be wrong but the heliocentric theory of Copernicus to be correct. And rather than maintain blind obstinence, the church finally accepted that theory and reworked their misunderstanding of Scripture.

  42. Some debates are flooded with wry, dry humour.

    It is easy for me to observe how various notions of intelligent design have evolved during my lifetime.

    As it is (ridiculously?) simple to demonstrate the ongoing evolution of the notions of intelligent design (through using simple historical and journalistic research tools?), surely intelligent designers are evolving, also?

    If the evolution of intelligent design and the evolution of intelligent designers is blatantly obvious, why do intelligent designers promote the evolution of their designs while denying evolution itself?

    What if actual intelligence has neither yet been created nor yet evolved?

    Whenceforth solves that not the problem?

  43. Speed of light…
    … How does a creationist explain it?

    The stars… BILLIONS of years old.
    We’re just seeing their light.

    Time travels forward… yet the visible light we see was generated eons ago.
    Most certainly more than the 6000-9000 years the creationists hand us.

    Must be another one of those fossil clues God put there to distract nonbelievers form the Truth, that little devil.

  44. I think what is happening is a resurgence of Christian Reconstructionism and it’s various sects, who are very political, very conservative right wing ideologues, who are now seriously trying to do exactly what they feel they have a Divine Imperative to do. They intend to legislate their religious beliefs and mainstream them into our public institutions. It’s getting serious, one attempt after another to undermine the Constitutional principal of separation of church and state.

  45. Max-1 wrote: “Speed of light… How does a creationist explain it? The stars… BILLIONS of years old. We’re just seeing their light.”

    Because schools don’t allow any time for creationism, I guess you never examined the data of Trevor Norman and Barry Setterfield or heard about the concept of curved space (implicated by the work of both Einstein and Hawking) and Riemannian Geometry. If ignorance is bliss, we have to keep all this out of the classroom. We don’t want to confuse those students. :-)

  46. The Trial of Galileo
    by Doug Linder (2002)
    http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/galileo/galileoaccount.html

    Excerpt:
    The Admonition and False Injunction of 1616

    In 1613, just as Galileo published his Letters on the Solar Spots, an openly Copernican writing, the first attack came from a Dominican friar and professor of ecclesiastical history in Florence, Father Lorini. Preaching on All Soul’s Day, Lorini said that Copernican doctrine violated Scripture, which clearly places Earth, and not the Sun at the center of the universe. What, if Copernicus were right, would be the sense of Joshua 10:13 which says “So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven” or Isaiah 40:22 that speaks of “the heavens stretched out as a curtain” above “the circle of the earth”? Pressured later to apologize for his attack, Lorini later said that he “said a couple of words to the effect that the doctrine of Ipernicus [sic], or whatever his name is, was against Holy Scripture.”

    Galileo responded to criticism of his Copernican views in a December 1613 Letter to Castelli. In his letter, Galileo argued that the Scripture–although truth itself–must be understood sometimes in a figurative sense. A reference, for example, to “the hand of God” is not meant to be interpreted as referring to a five-fingered appendage, but rather to His presence in human lives. Given that the Bible should not be interpreted literally in every case, Galileo contended, it is senseless to see it as supporting one view of the physical universe over another. “Who,” Galileo asked, “would dare assert that we know all there is to be known?”

    Galileo hoped that his Letter to Castelli might foster a reconciliation of faith and science, but it only served to increase the heat. His enemies accused him of attacking Scripture and meddling in theological affairs. One among them, Father Lorini, raised the stakes for the battle when, on February 7, 1615, he sent to the Roman Inquisition a modified copy of Galileo’s Letter to Castelli. He attached his own comments to his submission:

    All our Fathers of this devout convent of St. Mark are of opinion that the letter contains many propositions which appear to be suspicious or presumptuous, as when it asserts that the language of Holy Scripture does not mean what it seems to mean; that in discussions about natural phenomena the last and lowest place ought to be given the authority of the sacred text; that its commentators have very often erred in their interpretation; that the Holy Scriptures should not be mixed up with anything except matters of religion….When, I say, I became aware of all of this, I made up my mind to acquaint your Lordship with the state of affairs, that you in your holy zeal for the Faith may, in conjunction with your illustrious colleagues, provide such remedies as may appear advisable….I, who hold that those who call themselves Galileists are orderly men and good Christians all, but a little overwise and conceited in their opinions, declare that I am actuated by nothing in this business but zeal for the sacred cause.
    In fact, Lorini’s letter appears more charitable than he in fact was. He would stop at almost nothing to destroy the “Galileists,” as is shown from his alteration–in certain key places–of the text of Galileo’s Letter to Castelli. For example, where Galileo had written: “There are in Scripture words which, taken in the strict literal meaning, look as if they differed from the truth,” Lorini substituted: “which are false in their literal meaning.” However unscrupulous his methods, Lorini’s denunciation succeeded in setting the machinery of the Catholic Church in motion.

    Lorini had allies, such as Father Tommaso Caccini. Caccini traveled to Rome to appear before the Holy Office and expose, as he saw it, “the errors of Galileo.” Called for examination on March 20, Caccini said that Florence was full of “Galileists” publicly declaring God to be an accident and doubting miracles. Caccini placed full blame for the sorry state of affairs on Galileo. Asked the basis for his report, Caccini credited Lorini and a Father Ximenes. Overall, the condemnation was hardly convincing. Giorgio de Santillana, author of The Crime of Galileo, wrote of Caccini’s testimony: “The whole deposition is such an interminable mass of twists and innuendoes and double talk that a summary does no justice to it.”

    Matteo Caccini, Tommaso’s brother, fumed when he learned of his brother’s denunciation of Galileo. He described his brother as “lighter than a leaf and emptier than a pumpkin.” In an April letter he wrote of his Tommaso’s action: “As to F. T., I am so angry that I could not be more, but I don’t care to discuss it. He opened up with me in private the other day, and he revealed such dreadful plans that I could scarcely control myself. In any event, I wash my hands of him forever and ever.”

    Aware of the move against him, Galileo wrote to a friend, Monsignor Dini, asking that his letters be forwarded to the influential Cardinal Bellarmine, the Church’s chief theologian, and–if it could be arranged–Pope Paul V. Unfortunately for Galileo, the seventy-four-year old Cardinal Bellarmine “was no friend of novelties” (although, unlike some of Galileo’s other detractors, he had at least looked through a telescope and given–in 1611–an audience to Galileo). In his innate conservatism he saw the Copernican universe as threatening to the social order. To Bellarmine and much of the Church’s upper echelon, the science of the matter was beyond their understanding–and in many cases their interest. They cared about administration and preserving the power of the papal superstate more than they did getting astronomical facts right.

    Bellarmine stated his views on the Galileo controversy in an April 12, 1615 letter to Father Foscarini, a highly-respected monk from Naples. He indicated that Galileo could speak about the Copernican model “hypothetically, and not absolutely.” Bellarmine wrote that “to affirm that the Sun, in its very truth, is at the center of the universe…is a very dangerous attitude and one calculated not only to arouse all Scholastic philosophers and theologians but also to injure our faith by contradicting the Scriptures.”

    With “nineteen centuries of organized thought piling up to smother him,” Galileo pleaded–in a powerful summary of thoughts on Scriptural interpretation and the evidence concerning the nature of the universe–his case in his Letter to the Grand Duchess. He asked that his idea not be condemned “without understanding it, without hearing it, without even having seen it.” Galileo’s eloquent Letter was forwarded to Rome where, in the words of one historian, “it sank out of sight as softly as a penny in a snowbank.”

    When depositions in the Galileo matter concluded, the Commissary-General forwarded two propositions of Galileo to eleven theologians (called “Qualifiers”) for their evaluation: (1) The Sun is the center of the world and immovable of local motion, and (2) The Earth is not the center of the world, nor immovable, but moves according to the whole of itself, also with a diurnal motion. Four days later, on February 23, 1616, the Qualifiers unanimously declared both propositions to be “foolish and absurd” and “formally heretical.” Less than two weeks later, Pope Paul V–described by the Florentine ambassador as “so averse to anything intellectual that everyone has to play dense and ignorant to gain his favor”–endorsed the theologian’s conclusions. The Pope, according to the Inquisition file, “directed the Lord Cardinal Bellarmine to summon before him the said Galileo and admonish him to abandon the said opinion; and, in the case of his refusal to obey, the Commissary of the Holy Office is to enjoin him…to abstain altogether from teaching or defending this opinion and even from discussing it.”

  47. There is a lot of scientific mythology surrounding the story of Galileo, and historians of all stripes have spun it many different ways. Many people do not realize that both Copernicus and Galileo were Bible believing Christians who saw no conflict between science and religion. The work of Copernicus written a hundred years before Galileo was dedicated to the Pope and not put on the list of books in need of correction until Galileo’s time. Galileo attempted to prove the Copernican theory with a false understanding of tides that he believed was due to the earth’s movement and not the gravity of the moon as proposed by Kepler. Galileo even referred to Kepler’s theory as relying upon occult properties. Galileo put the burden of proof upon those who disbelieved his theory, to prove it false. Many tried to show how Galileo was wrong about the tides, but he would not see it. Galileo continued to believe that his understanding of the tides was the smoking gun to prove heliocentrism. Being friends with the Pope, he was asked by the Pope to prove his case, but a book he wrote ended up offending the pope in that it named the advocate for his theory a simpleton or fool. Many conjecture that the Pope didn’t want to be viewed as the fool. Ultimately, the ideas came to trial, which was not so much a conflict between science and religion, but just the arguments of an arrogant religious man who was also a scientist. Galileo was attempting to provide a scientific demonstration that would force a reinterpretation of Scripture that he considered to be divinely inspired. When his demonstration failed, partly because of his reliance upon a false scientific notion of tides, he recanted his position on the matter. Later his theory of tides was shown to be wrong but the heliocentric theory of Copernicus came to be accepted as correct. And rather than maintain blind obstinence, the Catholic Church finally accepted that theory and reworked their misunderstanding of Scripture. In the end, truth prevails in both science and religion.

  48. I might also add that Galileo was educated by the Catholic Church and after graduating became employed by the Catholic Church as a professor. The antagonism between Galileo and the church is often mischaracterized.

  49. davidm,

    Did anyone suggest that Copernicus and Galileo weren’t believers of the Catholic faith? Did anyone suggest that these two men thought there needed to be conflict between science and religion? It was religious officials who found Galileo guilty of heresy for his book “Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems.” After he was found guilty, he was confined to his home in Florence where he lived under house arrest for the rest of his life.

  50. Modern History Sourcebook:
    The Crime of Galileo:
    Indictment and Abjuration of 1633
    Fordham University
    http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1630galileo.asp

    Whereas you, Galileo, son of the late Vincenzio Galilei, of Florence, aged seventy years, were denounced in 1615, to this Holy Office, for holding as true a false doctrine taught by many, namely, that the sun is immovable in the center of the world, and that the earth moves, and also with a diurnal motion; also, for having pupils whom you instructed in the same opinions; also, for maintaining a correspondence on the same with some German mathematicians; also for publishing certain letters on the sun-spots, in which you developed the same doctrine as true; also, for answering the objections which were continually produced from the Holy Scriptures, by glozing the said Scriptures according to your own meaning; and whereas thereupon was produced the copy of a writing, in form of a letter professedly written by you to a person formerly your pupil, in which, following the hypothesis of Copernicus, you include several propositions contrary to the true sense and authority of the Holy Scriptures; therefore (this Holy Tribunal being desirous of providing against the disorder and mischief which were thence proceeding and increasing to the detriment of the Holy Faith) by the desire of his Holiness and the Most Emminent Lords, Cardinals of this supreme and universal Inquisition, the two propositions of the stability of the sun, and the motion of the earth, were qualified by the Theological Qualifiers as follows:

    The proposition that the sun is in the center of the world and immovable from its place is absurd, philosophically false, and formally heretical; because it is expressly contrary to Holy Scriptures.
    The proposition that the earth is not the center of the world, nor immovable, but that it moves, and also with a diurnal action, is also absurd, philosophically false, and, theologically considered, at least erroneous in faith.

    Therefore . . . , invoking the most holy name of our Lord Jesus Christ and of His Most Glorious Mother Mary, We pronounce this Our final sentence: We pronounce, judge, and declare, that you, the said Galileo . . . have rendered yourself vehemently suspected by this Holy Office of heresy, that is, of having believed and held the doctrine (which is false and contrary to the Holy and Divine Scriptures) that the sun is the center of the world, and that it does not move from east to west, and that the earth does move, and is not the center of the world; also, that an opinion can be held and supported as probable, after it has been declared and finally decreed contrary to the Holy Scripture, and, consequently, that you have incurred all the censures and penalties enjoined and promulgated in the sacred canons and other general and particular constituents against delinquents of this description. From which it is Our pleasure that you be absolved, provided that with a sincere heart and unfeigned faith, in Our presence, you abjure, curse, and detest, the said error and heresies, and every other error and heresy contrary to the Catholic and Apostolic Church of Rome.

  51. From The Influence of Darwin on Philosophy and Other Essays in Contemporary Thought, by John Dewey (New York: Hold, 1910):

    Old ideas give way slowly; for they are more than abstract logical forms and categories. They are habits, predispositions, deeply ingrained attitudes of aversion and preference. Moreover, the conviction persists — though history shows it to be a hallucination — that all the questions that the human mind has asked are questions that can be answered in terms of the alternatives that the questions themselves present. But in fact intellectual progress usually occurs through sheer abandonment of questions together with both of the alternatives they assume — an abandonment that results from their decreasing vitality and a change of current interests. We do not solve them: we get over them. Old questions are solved by disappearing, evaporating, while new questions corresponding to the changed attitude of endeavor and preference take their place. Doubtless the greatest dissolvent in contemporary thought of old questions, the greatest precipitant of new methods, new intentions, new problems, is the one effected by the scientific revolution that found its climax in the Origin of Species.

    From Before the Dawn: Recovering the Lost History of our Ancestors, by Nicholas Wade (New York: Penguin Books, 2006):

    Like everything else in biology, the human past and present are incomprehensible except in the light of evolution.

    Religion has simply become irrelevant in the modern world. Mankind has moved on from bronze-age dogma about invisible daddy/mommy “dieties” to explore the universe instead of living in fear and ignorance regarding it. The Republican party in the United States, however, still thinks it can cynically foment and exploit religious fear and ignorance by undermining science — especially biological science — in the public schools. No one who wishes for their children and fellow countrymen to enjoy an enlightening education should for one moment entertain any doubts about the reactionary political objectives lurking behind the pious religious platitudes. Lifelong — and currently lapsed — Republican party analyst Kevin Phillips calls this religious political program “a national Disenlightenment.” Not a good thing for the United States, either now or in the future.

  52. I think the Missouri Bills are great. It’ll reduce the competition for admission at the prestigious universities.
    Of course US dominance in science will continue to tank.

  53. Mizzou. Folks, think of the, name. Why did they go from the University of Missouri to Mizzou? They purposely dumbed down the name, the state, the so called university. Why? Dumb. Went in dumb, come out dumb too. Sports are more important than education.

  54. The indoctrination of evolutionism should be voluntary. Parents should have the option to opt out of this nonsense. The students will not be exposed to all the problems with the evolutionism theory and all the contradicting evidence, but instead will be indoctrinated into believing that evolutionism is science. Having the option to opt out of this blatant indoctrination and reckless abandonment of science, logic, and reason.

    I noticed a reference to the Creation vs. evolutionism debate with Ken Ham and Bill Nye. Here’s a good video that illustrates how everything Bill Nye used in the debate was flawed…

  55. Texas Public Schools Are Teaching Creationism
    An investigation into charter schools’ dishonest and unconstitutional science, history, and “values” lessons.
    By Zack Kopplin
    http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2014/01/creationism_in_texas_public_schools_undermining_the_charter_movement.html

    Excerpt:
    When public-school students enrolled in Texas’ largest charter program open their biology workbooks, they will read that the fossil record is “sketchy.” That evolution is “dogma” and an “unproved theory” with no experimental basis. They will be told that leading scientists dispute the mechanisms of evolution and the age of the Earth. These are all lies.

    The more than 17,000 students in the Responsive Education Solutions charter system will learn in their history classes that some residents of the Philippines were “pagans in various levels of civilization.” They’ll read in a history textbook that feminism forced women to turn to the government as a “surrogate husband.”

    Responsive Ed has a secular veneer and is funded by public money, but it has been connected from its inception to the creationist movement and to far-right fundamentalists who seek to undermine the separation of church and state.

    Infiltrating and subverting the charter-school movement has allowed Responsive Ed to carry out its religious agenda—and it is succeeding. Operating more than 65 campuses in Texas, Arkansas, and Indiana, Responsive Ed receives more than $82 million in taxpayer money annually, and it is expanding, with 20 more Texas campuses opening in 2014.

    Charter schools may be run independently, but they are still public schools, and through an open records request, I was able to obtain a set of Responsive Ed’s biology “Knowledge Units,” workbooks that Responsive Ed students must complete to pass biology. These workbooks both overtly and underhandedly discredit evidence-based science and allow creationism into public-school classrooms.

    A favorite creationist claim is that there is “uncertainty” in the fossil record, and Responsive Ed does not disappoint. The workbook cites the “lack of a single source for all the rock layers as an argument against evolution.”

    I asked Ken Miller, a co-author of the Miller-Levine Biology textbook published by Pearson and one of the most widely used science textbooks on the market today, to respond to claims about the fossil record and other inaccuracies in the Responsive Ed curriculum. (It’s worth noting that creationists on the Texas State Board of Education recently tried, and failed, to block the approval of Miller’s textbook because it teaches evolution.)

    “Of course there is no ‘single source’ for all rock layers,” Miller told me over email. “However, the pioneers of the geological sciences observed that the sequence of distinctive rock layers in one place (southern England, for example) could be correlated with identical layers in other places, and eventually merged into a single system of stratigraphy. All of this was established well before Darwin’s work on evolution.”

  56. Showdown Over Science in Texas
    Creationists corrupted state education standards and may push evolution out of textbooks.
    By Zack Kopplin
    9/20/13
    http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2013/09/texas_science_textbooks_creationists_try_to_remove_evolution_from_classrooms.html

    Excerpt:
    The Texas state Board of Education is in the process of adopting new science textbooks that will be used in public schools for the next decade. On Tuesday, the board held its first hearing for public comment on which textbooks should be adopted. Creationists came out in full force and demanded that “biblical truth,” rather than evolution, be presented in the state’s biology textbooks.

    These anti-science activists could compromise the teaching of evolution all across the country. They’ve been working toward this moment for years.

    In 2009, the Texas state Board of Education adopted new science standards. The standards presented to the board had been written by a group of scientists and educators, and the proposal covered evolution fully. More than 50 science organizations endorsed the original standards, but creationists successfully amended them. Now the standards include loopholes that allow evolution to be attacked and creationism to be snuck into public school classrooms.

    The standards call for students to “analyze and evaluate the fossil record and the complexity of the cell.” They also say that students should “analyze, evaluate, and critique” scientific theories and that students should be exposed to “all sides of scientific evidence of those scientific explanations so as to encourage critical thinking.”

    These requirements sound reasonable; we all want students to think critically, analyze, and evaluate. But these standards are designed to bring non-science into the classroom under the cover of analyzing, evaluating, and critiquing evolution.

    This is a longtime creationist strategy. Louisiana, where I was born, has its own creationism law that calls for “critiquing” evolution in order to promote “critical thinking.”

    Gov. Rick Perry helped make it clear that the Texas curriculum standards are meant to allow creationism into the classroom. During the 2012 presidential election, Perry said, “In Texas we teach both creationism and evolution in our public schools.”

  57. Missouri bill to create ‘parental warning’ requirement to teach evolution debated
    By George Chidi
    Saturday, February 15, 2014
    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/02/15/missouri-bill-to-create-parental-warning-requirement-to-teach-evolution-debated/

    Excerpt:
    The bill proposed by Republican State Rep. Rick Brattin had its first public hearing Thursday. Brattin has described teaching only evolution in school as “indoctrination” to local TV.

    The language of the bill makes little provision separating discussion of the specifics of evolutionary biology from any other element of biology upon which evolutionary theory rests, like anthropology, examination of dinosaur fossils, genetic sciences, disease or modern medicine.

    “My fear is that every mention of a fossil, every conversation about the development of organs and vital structures, every single mention about the genetic similarity that we share with other organisms could potentially be systematically whittled out of these student’s education,” wrote Maxton Thoman, a student columnist for the University of Alabama’s Crimson White. “In the end, a lack of an education in this field will put students behind the rest of their class, and the rest of the world for that matter, in a way that they will not be able to recover from – much like leaving out multiplication would severely hinder any further advancement in mathematics.”

    The bill also provides for the right of parents to inspect all “curriculum materials used in the district’s or school’s evolution instruction” before they can be used in class.

    The National Center for Science Education’s deputy director Glenn Branch said in letter online describing the bill that “House Bill 1472 would eviscerate the teaching of biology in Missouri. … Evolution inextricably pervades the biological sciences; it therefore pervades, or at any rate ought to pervade, biology education at the K–12 level. There simply is no alternative to learning about it; there is no substitute activity.” Branch added, “Teachers, schools, and districts would suffer as well. … The value of a high school education in Missouri would be degraded.”

  58. The is a larger issue in Missura and most states regarding the prioritization of sports in the so called state universities. Went in dumb come out dumb too is the goal of the goalees. North Carolina just got embarrassed for a New York minute when one of their staff revealed the illiteracy rate of the athletes at UNC. This is not all South of the Mason Dixon. Take State Penn where they put up with a pedophile rapist as a coach. It was more important to beat Ohio State that to keep the anal entry intact. So, the evolution issue is indicative of the level of so called education in America but it is an appendage.

  59. Is this a surprise when one considers how anti-science some Americans are?

    The Sun Orbits The Earth, According To 1 In 4 Americans: Survey
    Posted: 02/16/2014
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/16/americans-science-survey_n_4798244.html

    If you ask an American if the sun orbits Earth, there’s a 1 in 4 chance he’ll say yes.

    According to a new National Science Foundation study, 74% of Americans believe that Earth revolves around the sun. The other 26% believe that the opposite is true.

    Of course, it’s a fact that the Earth orbits the sun. The modern heliocentric model of the universe was first presented by Nicolaus Copernicus, a 16th century Polish astronomer. The study took place in 2012.

    The survey revealed other distressing facts about science in America. For example, only 48% of Americans believe in evolution.

    As NPR pointed out, European and Asian countries fared much better.

    According to RT, a similar survey is taken every two years. The findings will be formally presented to Congress and President Obama.

  60. I wouldn’t object to a separate, not science course, that included many of the religious views of the creation of the universe or even just of our tiny bit of it. I’ve got a big problem with the religious views being presented as science. I kind of like the way Pat Robertson puts it.

    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/02/05/pat-robertson-implores-creationist-ken-ham-to-shut-up-lets-not-make-a-joke-of-ourselves/

    excerpt:

    “Let’s face it,” Robertson said, “there was a Bishop [Ussher] who added up the dates listed in Genesis and he came up with the world had been around for 6,000 years.”

    “There ain’t no way that’s possible,” he continued. “To say that it all came about in 6,000 years is just nonsense and I think it’s time we come off of that stuff and say this isn’t possible.”

    “Let’s be real, let’s not make a joke of ourselves.”

  61. It seems as if one solution is what I experienced “back in the day.” When I took a science class I went to to the science building.. When I took a foreign language class I went to the Humanities building. When I took Comparative Religion I either went to the Humanity or Social Science building.

    There should be no problem teaching about ALL the various religions in the world along with their respective histories. But religion is not science, never has been and never will be.

    Teach Religion in one class and Science in another.

  62. bettykath wrote: ” I’ve got a big problem with the religious views being presented as science.”

    The problem is that religion does not exclude science, but most scientists exclude religion. If a hypothesis mentions a Creator, it is de facto considered not to be science by the pure scientist.

    The truth is that some creationist work is theological by virtue of the fact that it rests upon interpreting writings considered to be divinely inspired. These rightly belong in religion class. As such, I’m not sure our legal climate would allow that in public school at all. Only private school might benefit by that level of education.

    Other creationist work is scientific by virtue of relying upon empirical data, but it will be called unscientific by pure scientists because the work points toward the idea of a Creator, which is not allowed by definition to be part of a scientific theory or hypothesis. So where and when can it be taught?

    It probably would work to teach creationist models of origins outside the science classroom, but a lot of students are going to be confused about why there is so much math and science being taught outside science class. And then the quandary becomes that if it really is “religious” because it is supportive of religious ideas, then according to many, it should not be allowed in public education at all. So are private schools the only answer to a good well rounded education?

    I think the most reasonable path to a more harmonious society is for public education to stop censoring itself from anything considered religious. Public education should not teach the tenets of a particular religious establishment per se, but just be a little more open to discussing all viewpoints of life, whether categorized as religious or not. Even if it is to criticize and poke holes in the hypothesis. We should be able to discuss our origins without pointing fingers at each other and yelling, “that’s religion, so stop talking because it is illegal to talk about that in science class or publicly funded schools”!

  63. David,
    the creationist “science” as you call it has not been accepted by anywhere near a majority of peer reviewed scientists. It is made up science in an attempt to prove God created the world. That belongs in private religious schools. They can discuss creationism all they want. But not on the public dollar.

  64. rafflaw wrote: “the creationist “science” as you call it has not been accepted by anywhere near a majority of peer reviewed scientists.”

    Yeah, that true. Not surprising since the teaching has been outlawed in public institutions. Most people are grossly ignorant of this field of study as a result.

    We live in the same kind of situation as in Galileo’s time, only in reverse. In his time, the Catholic Church held power, and by edict they erroneously declared his heliocentric viewpoint to be wrong. Today, science dominates the governmental authority structure, and by edict they declare creationist models of origins to be wrong. Yeah, they do that by voting, the same way they decide about the geologic record… by voting. Many think that science really should operate by empirical proof instead of by voting, but voting is how it works in regards to viewpoints about our historical origins.

    If you don’t think there is any science in creationist models, I challenge you to read Robert Gentry’s scientific publications. You might just educate yourself and change your mind.

  65. I am a scientist (retired chemist) and while I don’t have a problem with those expressing belief in a God or Creation by God, I do have issues when they attempt to portray their belief as science.

    In order for a theory to be considered science it has to meet all three of the following criteria:

    Explain the observations in question.
    Make predictions that can be tested and verified.
    Be falsifiable.

    Religions fails on three of these and cannot and never will be considered science. By just calling a belief system scientific does not make it so.

    Although I do not believe in Creationism, I am not telling others that Creationism is wrong, I’m saying that it is not science. Scientists do not vilify religion but when religious beliefs are portrayed as science then we speak out to explain the principles of our chosen profession.

    Theories are never proven rather they are accepted by the scientific community. The Theory of Evolution is one of the most reliable theories in science and is a strong pillar holding up the fine traditions of science.

  66. Science should dominate the teaching of science; religion should not. Religion should dominate the teaching of religion. Teaching some people’s religious beliefs as science should not be part of a public school’s science curriculum. Those beliefs can be taught in a course on religion.

  67. All dogmas are created equal. Therefore under the First Amendment Religion Prong each religion has a right to be taught. But where? Not in a public school.
    Missoura needs to work on desegregating the frats at the Univ of MO Columbia. Mizzou needs to pull out of the SEC and get back with the pack in the Midwest. Kansas is right next door. Mizzou needs to require that first year students know how to read and write when they walk in the door to their first class– whether they play football or not.

  68. davidm2575,

    You are incorrect about young earth models of origins satisfying the scientific standards for acceptance as a theory. One simple reason is the young earth idea cannot be proven wrong, it is not falsifiable. To paraphrase: you say God created the universe; however, there is no way for one to disprove the existence of God therefore your belief system is not falsifiable. You may in fact be correct, but young earth is not part of the scientific discipline. And why is it necessary for you to want your belief to be part of science? Is it because science infers a sense of truth and importance to your belief?

    Examples:
    Astronomy is a science, astrology is not.
    A number of years ago a group of people were congratulating Einstein on his Theory of Relativity when he responded with: “I am only one experiment away from being proven wrong.” .

    ….”science censor any theist interpretations of empirical data.” That would only happen if a theist made the claim that the empirical results were due to an act (s) of God. And I might add that you censor scientific interpretations of religious beliefs—it works both ways.

  69. Just skipped a Deacon’s meeting to hear Ellery Schempp speak. He was the 18 year old plaintiff in Abington School District v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203 (1963), wherein the Supreme Court of the United States declared that required Bible readings in public school were unconstitutional.. It was consolidated with the Murray v. Curlett case involving the required recitation of the Lord’s Prayer in publis school. That would be William Murray, the nephew of and co-petitioner with Madalyn Murray O’hair.

    It was a wonderful evening. Mr. Schempp enjoyed a long and productive career as a professor of physics working on MRI and superconductivity at high temperature. For present purposes I leave you with one of his llesser known efforts, “Gravity is Only a Theory.”

    http://www.philvaz.com/apologetics/p67.htm

  70. Wayne wrote: “You are incorrect about young earth models of origins satisfying the scientific standards for acceptance as a theory. One simple reason is the young earth idea cannot be proven wrong, it is not falsifiable.”

    Of course it is falsifiable. If a young earth model says the earth is only 10,000 years old, and radiometric evidence shows it is 4.5 billion years old, then the young earth model has been falsified. Most modern scientists reject the young earth model because of this test of falsification.

  71. Wayne wrote: “To paraphrase: you say God created the universe; however, there is no way for one to disprove the existence of God therefore your belief system is not falsifiable.”

    This is always the tenet used to claim that creation models are not falsifiable, but it is not an honest one. It is like claiming that a forensic scientist cannot give empirical evidence supporting the idea that someone was murdered because he cannot disprove the existence of the murderer. The forensic scientists has a lot of empirical evidence that he can offer that makes the existence of a murderer close to certain, pointing to evidence such as a gun owned by a particular person, evidence that gun was used to commit the murder, DNA evidence that the person was at the scene of the crime, gun powder residue on the arm of the person accused, etc. This is most of what creation science is about, looking at empirical evidence and using the rational mind to understand it and build a logical understanding of our origin.

  72. Christian Faith Requires Accepting Evolution
    By Jonathan Dudley
    Author, ‘Broken Words: The Abuse of Science and Faith in American Politics’
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jonathan-dudley/christian-faith-requires-_b_876345.html

    Excerpt:
    In the evangelical community, the year 2011 has brought a resurgence of debate over evolution. The current issue of Christianity Today asks if genetic discoveries preclude an historical Adam. While BioLogos, the brainchild of NIH director Francis Collins, is seeking to promote theistic evolution among evangelicals, the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary recently argued that true Christians should believe the Earth is only a few thousand years old.

    As someone raised evangelical, I realize anti-evolutionists believe they are defending the Christian tradition. But as a seminary graduate now training to be a medical scientist, I can say that, in reality, they’ve abandoned it.

    In theory, if not always in practice, past Christian theologians valued science out of the belief that God created the world scientists study. Augustine castigated those who made the Bible teach bad science, John Calvin argued that Genesis reflects a commoner’s view of the physical world, and the Belgic confession likened scripture and nature to two books written by the same author.

    These beliefs encouraged past Christians to accept the best science of their day, and these beliefs persisted even into the evangelical tradition. As Princeton Seminary’s Charles Hodge, widely considered the father of modern evangelical theology, put it in 1859: “Nature is as truly a revelation of God as the Bible; and we only interpret the Word of God by the Word of God when we interpret the Bible by science.”

    In this analysis, Christians must accept sound science, not because they don’t believe God created the world, but precisely because they do.

    Of course, anti-evolutionists claim their rejection of evolution is not a rejection of science. Phillip Johnson, widely considered the leader of the Intelligent Design movement, states that all he’s rejecting is the atheistic lens through which evolutionary scientists view the world. Evolution, he argues, is “based not upon any incontrovertible empirical evidence, but upon a highly philosophical presupposition.”

    And to a certain extent, this line of argument makes sense. Science is not a neutral enterprise. Prior beliefs undoubtedly influence interpretation. If one believes God created vertebrates with a similar design plan, one can acknowledge their structural similarities without believing in common descent. No amount of dating evidence will convince someone the Earth is 4.5 billion years old if that person believes God created the world to look old, with the appearance of age.

    But beyond a certain point, this reasoning breaks down. Because no amount of talk about “worldviews” and “presuppositions” can change a simple fact: creationism has failed to provide an alternative explanation for the vast majority of evidence explained by evolution.

    It has failed to explain why birds still carry genes to make teeth, whales to make legs, and humans to make tails.

    It has failed to explain why the fossil record proposed by modern scientists can be used to make precise and accurate predictions about the location of transition fossils.

    It has failed to explain why the fossil record demonstrates a precise order, with simple organisms in the deepest rocks and more complex ones toward the surface.

    It has failed to explain why today’s animals live in the same geographical area as fossils of similar species.

    It has failed to explain why, if carnivorous dinosaurs lived at the same time as modern animals, we don’t find the fossils of modern animals in the stomachs of fossilized dinosaurs.

    It has failed to explain the broken genes that litter the DNA of humans and apes but are functional in lower vertebrates.

    It has failed to explain how the genetic diversity we observe among humans could have arisen in a few thousand years from two biological ancestors.

  73. This statement tells me that Mr. Dudley has spent more time reading the Bible than digging up fossils. This particular so-called evidence he presents here exists in the schematic drawings of evolutionary textbooks. It is a diagram of the presupposition of what they expect to find, not what they actually find. Every person who has actually done real science in digging up fossils knows this.

  74. I was in the Florida State Museum some years back. I was stupefied by a particular display. It appeared as if they were displaying a cross section of sediment showing fossils through time within that sediment. Having experience in digging up fossils, I was blown away. Where did they find this? Others quietly walked by barely noticing, but I made my children sit down and wait while I closely examined this aberration of geology. After five or ten minutes, I discovered what it was. They had fabricated the whole thing. This was NOT an actual geological cross section. This was the first time that I had seen a museum, which normally displays real artifacts, actually manufacture the geologic column using sediment and fossils and arranging them and presenting them as if that was how they were found in nature. I was a bit outraged and explained to my children that this was grossly misleading, that fossils are not at all found like this display claims they are. This was only a projection of their idealized idea of how they think fossil should be found. In nature, the evidence is very different.

  75. David, did you go to the curator and make a complaint? Did you find out for certain it was an inaccurate recreation before telling your children it was grossly misleading?

    I sometimes marvel at people who think they know better than everyone else and may actually be the most confused of everyone.

  76. davidm,

    ….”If a young earth model says the earth is only 10,000 years old, and radiometric evidence shows it is 4.5 billion years old, then the young earth model has been falsified.”

    No, this is not falsification, unless you disregard a divine creator. What you are describing is a modification of a theory which happens regularly in science. In your example, the basic tenants of Young Earth remain the same….creationism.. Without going into a lot of jargon, today Einstein’s Theory of Relativity is in the process of being modified, due to a phenomenon in quantum mechanics referred to as “quantum entanglement.” It appear that some sort of information may be transmitted at speeds exceeding the speed of light. Now, this is not falsification of the entire theory, but a modification.

    Continuing on the theme of Einstein: his theory of relativity greatly improved upon the Newtonian model of gravity. For precise calculations one uses relativistic calculations and not Newton’s laws of universal gravitation. Einstein improved upon Newton.

    At one time scientists thought that electrons in an atom orbited the nucleus much like planets in our solar system. This theory was abandoned in favor of a quantum mechanical system….this is falsification. At one time there was actually a theory of atomic structure named: “Raisin in the Pudding.” This was also falsified.

    Your example is simply not falsification. Calling it that doesn’t make it so. Your example still uses the underlying idea of creationism to explain the age of earth. Now your example would be falsification if you agreed not only that the earth is 4+ Billion years old but is the product of evolution without the hand of a God involved.

  77. davidm,

    …..”This is always the tenet used to claim that creation models are not falsifiable, but it is not an honest one. It is like claiming that a forensic scientist cannot give empirical evidence supporting the idea that someone was murdered because he cannot disprove the existence of the murderer.”

    This is neither a proper nor accurate analogy. The word Theory in science has a different connotation than it does in everyday life. Applying scientific rules in theory development to a murder case is not applicable. The laws governing society are far different that laws governing the universe. And I suspect you know this.

    …….”This is always the tenet used to claim that creation models are not falsifiable, but it is not an honest one.” The reason this concept of falsification is frequently used is because creationists insist on calling their concept science—or want their ideas taught along scientific studies in school. Teaching creation alongside science implies that it too is science—creationism is not and will never be part of science. Why you might ask? Because science is a discipline with its own set of rules and procedures. One may not like or agree with the rules but one is not free to change them in order to accommodate an idea that doesn’t fit within the framework of science.

    If Young Earth creationists wanted their idea taught as a subject separate from science then you would not find scientists challenging your ideas. However, if you insist on challenging science then a reciprocal challenge will be presented to you.

    If I walked in a chemistry lecture where a professor offered divine intervention as an explanation for an unusual result I would quickly cancel the class. If you walked into a theology lecture and were told that theology didn’t meet the standards of science then you would object.

    I do not believe in creationism; however, I am not saying you are incorrect. I am only stating that your ideas are not science and should not be taught along science. I encourage you to speak about your ideas to as many people as possible so that all of us can have a better understanding of your viewpoint. It is my firm belief that when people are presented with a proper understanding of science and creationism, then the ideas of a God created existence will not be compatible with reality.

    This may shock you: My wife and I attend a Christian church every Sunday. I have even been elected to an official position within the church. If you are curious how I manage the dichotomy of my belief system with a church it is pretty easy to explain: whenever I see or hear the word God I substitute the word Fate. Example: someone will say “Thank God two people were saved from an airplane crash where 100 people were killed.” I say: “Thank Fate for sparing those two….

    I enjoy the fellowship and friendship at Church meetings and quite frankly our particular church is not a fire and brimstone type place. I may not agree with a certain belief system but I do respect it and appreciate the good things a church can accomplish in a community. Our church is simply involved with helping people get through life.

    I keep my secular life separate from my religion and I would encourage others to follow the same principle.

  78. Wayne, I’m having trouble posting, so I’m breaking my posts up smaller to see if they will post that way.

    Are you familiar with the philosopher of science, Karl Popper? Whether you realize it or not, his seminal book, “The Logic of Scientific Discovery,” is where you borrow your aspect of empirical falsifiability as a criterion of what makes a theory scientific. He specifically pointed out that what made astronomy different from astrology was that astrology constantly modified its theories until they ultimately became unfalsifiable. In contrast, the advances in astronomy happened by falsifying a hypothesis, discarding it, and then constructing new ones. He criticized the kind of ad hoc modification of theories that you seem to embrace. All my professors in graduate school (I studied evolutionary biology, earned several biology and zoology degrees and have an undergraduate minor in Chemistry) favored the approach of Popper not to focus on empirical falsification and constructing new theories in light of the evidence.

  79. In regards to Newtonian mechanics, Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity was in no way a modification of it. It was something completely different. It exposed the limitations of classical mechanics to macroscopic objects.

    In regards to Einstein’s Relativity Theory and Bohr’s Quantum Mechanics, this again is not a modification of science over time. These men were contemporaries who forged two incomplete and distinct theories in science. Some people today will look for ways to merge them together no doubt, but we did not have Albert Einstein and Neils Bohr working together modifying their theories together into one correct scientific theory. That is not how science works.

    One of the things pointed out by Popper was that Einstein put his theory at risk by making the prediction that light would be affected by gravity. He proposed that this could be observed during the next solar eclipse when a star would appear to shift in position due to the gravitational effect of the sun. Few believed Einstein was right, but many got out their telescopes to observe whether or not it was true. His prediction was verified and this led to the scientific community paying more attention to his Special Theory of Relativity. If his prediction failed, his Special Theory of Relativity would have been falsified. The same kind of thing happens with honest investigators of models of origins that include the concept of a Creator. If their model predicts a young age for humans, and an empirical clock proves humans were around for a much longer period of time, then that creationist model has been falsified.

  80. Wayne wrote: “This is neither a proper nor accurate analogy. The word Theory in science has a different connotation than it does in everyday life. Applying scientific rules in theory development to a murder case is not applicable. The laws governing society are far different that laws governing the universe. And I suspect you know this.”

    No, I would disagree with this. When a forensic scientist examines a murder scene, he collects empirical data and creates a theory about what happened. During the course of this, he may posit various hypothesis and disprove each one until he arrives at a clear idea of whether a murder took place, and if a murder did take place, then answer the questions of how it took place, when it took place, and maybe even who committed the murder. This is pretty much the same thing in regards to theories of origins. We can’t do standard experiments where we control variables and isolate causes like in many questions of science. Rather, we must apply rational thought to the empirical evidence that we have and draw a conclusion based upon that. I think the analogy very much applies, and I am not convinced otherwise.

  81. davidm,

    …..In regards to Newtonian mechanics, Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity was in no way a modification of it. It was something completely different. It exposed the limitations of classical mechanics to macroscopic objects.”

    Newtonian mechanics is still used today….if one wants to study how far a cannon ball will go given a certain set of initial conditions then Newton will work just fine. But if one wants to put an automobile on the surface of Mars, then relativistic calculations are needed if success is to be achieved.

    It was in the study of the microscopic world, not macroscopic, where Newtonian or classical physics fell apart. Which is why today we have two fundamental theories of our universe: relativistic for the macro scopic world of the very large and quantum mechanics for the very small world of atoms and sub-atomic particles. Both work very well in their respective areas but they cannot be interchanged…there have been and are many brilliant scientists working on a unification theory of these two far different mathematical models. Maybe String Theory might be a unifying method but so far that has not been achieved—as far as I know.

    Yes I am familiar with the Philosopher Popper but have to acknowledge that I have not studied any of his works. So my understanding of his principles is virtually nil. My academic studies have been concentrated in chemistry and there is a large void when it comes to understanding philosophy and its many practitioners. If I could have a do-over in school I would include Philosophy along with accounting and business in my academic curriculum—areas that I have needed in my career but were sadly lacking.

    I’m of the old school of science where it is common for a scientist “to stand on the shoulders of others” to advance our knowledge and understanding. When the term falsification is used it does not mean forgery or fraud has taken place, it’s just that a particular theory did not work under a different set of circumstances. Apparently Popper has a novel or unusual (to me) understanding of the term falsification than I do. I will make a sincere effort to study his ideas as I always like to learn new things. Unfortunately I am not intellectually capable of debating or critiquing Professor Popper’s.

    Let’s move away from falsification for a moment and concentrate on another requirement of a scientific theory: All scientific theories have to make predictions that can be tested and verified, as you mentioned above in Einstein’s prediction of light being affected by gravity.

    What can you offer as a Young Earth defender to make predictions that can be tested and validated?

  82. ……” This is pretty much the same thing in regards to theories of origins. We can’t do standard experiments where we control variables and isolate causes like in many questions of science. Rather, we must apply rational thought to the empirical evidence that we have and draw a conclusion based upon that. I think the analogy very much applies, and I am not convinced otherwise.

    Yes, when one looks at our expanding universe rational thought of empirical evidence dictates that it started with what is commonly called “the big bang” and not by divine intervention.

    Forensic studies of a murder scene do not make predictions that can be tested and verified….they collect evidence that is presented to a Jury and they make a determination of guilt or innocence beyond a reasonable doubt. It is up to our adversarial method of examination in a court room that leads to a conclusion, not scientific experiments.

    The original idea of a big bang was proposed by an amateur astronomer in Belgium, who just happened to be a Catholic Priest—Georges Lemaitre. At the time scientists rejected this idea because it was thought that we lived in a static universe. It was the work of Edwin Hubble, and others, that demonstrated that galaxies in our universe are not only receding away from us but are accelerating that the concept of the Big Bang was revisited.

    How did the Big Bang start—I tell ya I truly wish I knew. I’m afraid I won’t live long enough to find out. I can say that there are new ideas being explored that based upon quantum mechanics there is no such thing as nothing. “Nothing” never existed….excuse the double negative. So it might be that the big bang was created from something??? There are other researchers that feel we might live in a “multi-verse” where there are more than one Universe(s). One researcher, whose name escapes me, hypothesized that perhaps it was the coming together of two Universe (s), with all that unimaginable mass, that created our big bang and started our Universe on its path.

    In a previous posting of yours you gave me a link to an article for me to read. I will read it and I thank you for expanding my mental universe–I like to keep learning and I have appreciated all of your comments and ideas. I may not always agree but you have been very congenial and friendly.

  83. As to the question of the existence of “God,” perhaps this question can be trivialized. Who has the absolute authority to define the word, “God,” without any possibility of human error? How may the definition of “God” differ from the definition of “The Giver of LIfe? How may the definition of “God” not differ from the definition of “The Giver of LIfe”?

    Until there is a rigorously tested and rigorously not falsified definition of “God” with which everyone agrees, one definition may define, by mistake, “not-God” instead of defining “God.”

    Given my inability to find one single universally-agreed-upon-by-all-humans definition of “God,” I shall allow that “God” may happen to be a word that has yet to be perfectly defined in human terms.

    Suppose people who participate in Turley blog activities are all well-versed in set theory, and especially well-versed in the theories of sets which contain themselves as members. Bertrand Russell’s “Barber Paradox” may be, or may not be, about a set which contains itself as a member. Who shaves the Barber? Might who the Barber is affect who shaves the Barber?

    Consider the set of {all things and non-things} which exist.

    Why does existence exist and why does existence seemingly not exist?

    Consider, hypothetically, that something exists which can stop existence from existing. If, also hypothetically, the something that can stop existence from existing sets about successfully stopping the existence of existence from existing, then, in stopping existence from existing, it will stop itself from existing, thereby stopping itself from stopping existence from existing.

    Therefore, existence cannot not exist? If nothing were to exist, what are the inescapably necessary and sufficient properties of the existence of nothing? After all, surely nothing can accomplish the impossible?

    If nothing can accomplish the impossible, why cannot creation evolve and evolution create?

  84. Wayne wrote: “Let’s move away from falsification for a moment and concentrate on another requirement of a scientific theory: All scientific theories have to make predictions that can be tested and verified, as you mentioned above in Einstein’s prediction of light being affected by gravity. What can you offer as a Young Earth defender to make predictions that can be tested and validated?”

    We can’t talk about predictions without talking about falsification. That is exactly what the requirement of falsification is. When a theory makes a prediction, and that prediction can be tested by empirical means, then that theory is falsifiable. The more risky the prediction, the more scientific the theory is. Einstein’s theory was extremely risky in that his math predicted an outcome that nobody expected, an outcome that could be falsified by empirical observation on a specific date at a specific time.

    I am not a young earth defender anymore than I am a defender of the Catholic church or any other church. I am a creationist, but not a young earth creationist. The reason why I have sometimes appeared to defend the Catholic church on the issue of abortion, or young earth creationists on the issue of creationism, is the same reason that someone becomes the devil’s advocate in a debate. It is simply to be honest with ideas and consider what the evidence really says. It is my hope that we step away from our biases and unspoken assumptions and think about these matters from a fresh perspective.

    In this particular case of young earth creationism, I already mentioned that it satisfies the criterion of falsifiability because of all creationist theories, it puts forward the most risky predictions of all creationist theories. It argues that the earth is not older than 10,000 years. Well, there is a mountain of evidence that appears to falsify this notion, from cosmology and the expanding universe, to radiometric dating of rock strata and fossils. What I have found is that most scientists are so bigoted against the notion of creationism that they either continue to deny that young earth models are falsifiable because they invoke a Creator who is outside the ability of science to prove or disprove, or they finally admit that the model has been falsified, so okay, it is a scientific theory, but a bad one that has been falsified, like Lamarckian evolution or cold fusion. Of course, the next step is to ask why creationism can’t be taught in public schools like Lamarckian evolution is taught? The answer is usually something like, “no, we can’t waste time doing that.” The truth is that there is bigotry in science that leads to censorship.

    Phillip Johnson is a lawyer who could see that even though he knew little about biology and science, he knew the scientists were hiding something. The way they argued their case indicated it, and he became a creationist based upon his legal perception of this. Myself as a scientist in biology has always been amazed at his ability to perceive this.

  85. Wayne wrote: “If Young Earth creationists wanted their idea taught as a subject separate from science then you would not find scientists challenging your ideas. However, if you insist on challenging science then a reciprocal challenge will be presented to you.”

    The problem is that some creationists are scientists like me. I care about the science. When you tell me that my arguments have to be made in church, it is not at all satisfactory because I don’t believe in church or religion. Since when is it proper for science to excommunicate those who do not embrace the popular paradigm?

    Wayne wrote: “If I walked in a chemistry lecture where a professor offered divine intervention as an explanation for an unusual result I would quickly cancel the class. If you walked into a theology lecture and were told that theology didn’t meet the standards of science then you would object.”

    I personally do not have a problem with the overlap. I had a chemistry professor in college that was explaining certain chemistry principles. I think it had to do with the racemization problem and how all amino acids in biological systems are of the L configuration, yet in the lab you get equal stereoisomers of each. So how could abiogenesis occur? It was interesting to me because he made a comment about how this problem was one reason why he was a creationist. I kind of liked his open mind about it. I certainly did not want to march out of chemistry class and resign the course. He explained some empirical observations and then tied it to a broader theory of origins. I was appreciative of that connection. It made me think.

    I am a creationist more like the way that Galileo was a creationist. I don’t see a conflict between believing in a creator and theology or science. I enjoy studying ideas in theology the same way I enjoy studying the physical world through science. From my perspective, bad theology should be discarded in the same way that bad science should be discarded.

  86. Wayne wrote: “Now your example would be falsification if you agreed not only that the earth is 4+ Billion years old but is the product of evolution without the hand of a God involved.”

    Falsification must be done a step at a time. First we disprove the young earth model of creation. Then we disprove other models of creation. When all the models of creation have been falsified, then we will have disproved creationism in total and can rightly conclude that the hand of God was not involved with our origin.

  87. David:

    I have wondered why the notions of science and religious faith have to be so mutually exclusive when they can coexist somewhat.

    To be as succinct as possible I would offer this: God created all things and it is up to science to explain how all things. Both sides can embrace the science but the only difference is that one notion is that the scientific fact or theory is divinely inspired or it is not. Yet, both sides agree on the scientific basis for why.

    The unfortunate problem is that for centuries both sides have perceived the other to be a threat to their positions. Pure science types view religious advocates as wanting to prohibit scientific research and the religious sides believe their faith is being questioned or their culture being brushed aside.

  88. I am breaking up my post into smaller portions because it will not post as a single long response.

    Darren Smith wrote: “The unfortunate problem is that for centuries both sides have perceived the other to be a threat to their positions. Pure science types view religious advocates as wanting to prohibit scientific research and the religious sides believe their faith is being questioned or their culture being brushed aside.”

    I truly see the problem as more one sided than you represent it. The problem began in the 18th century when certain philosophers like David Hume began to reject the idea of innate knowledge or knowledge coming through divine revelation, imparted to the spirit or soul. There was a scientific revolution whereby some scholars rejected any kind of metaphysical knowledge (the empiricist vs rationalist issue) while others acknowledged room for knowledge to come through both sources (empiricism and rational thinking apart from empiricism, as expounded upon by philosophers like Descartes). Science today is monopolized by logical positivists and empiricists who for the most part deny there is any such thing as spirit or soul. Their philosophy of knowledge is that divine revelation is a farce and knowledge only comes through empirical observations.

  89. The problem has been exacerbated by the empiricist philosophy permeating our government. Although technically our government has not purged religion from society, a misinterpretation of our founding documents has given empiricists a stronghold by which to censor any theories that might be supportive of theism. A statement in our founding documents forbidding the favoring of particular religious establishments has morphed into a prohibition against government being allowed to have any connection with religion or theism whatsoever. When public education censors competing concepts, the dissemination of knowledge becomes one sided. Young people today are woefully lacking in education about theist models of origins based in science. Not only have the scientists argued that only empiricist philosophy is the path to knowledge, they have now convinced judges who have outlawed the teaching of any empirical models of origins that might also include the concept of an intelligent designer. The stage has been set to create a prejudice, a strong bigotry, against anything theist. Such is not based upon actual scientific knowledge, but based upon the censorship of competing ideas.

    Regardless of my statements like this, I cringe when seeing efforts like this one by State legislator Rick Brattin because it is obvious when he speaks that he knows nothing about science. While I appreciate his efforts to stop censorship in public education, he ends up hurting that cause by looking foolish in attempting to define science improperly. He should fight for the right of educators to decide upon the science curriculum themselves rather than try to force his brand of balanced teaching. No educator presents a balanced view. It is impossible. We should never expect it. The educator should be honest and help students learn not only basic material concerning what they need to know, but also the conclusions which that educator comes to through his studies. For the law to forbid this, to censor the educator, is wrong.

  90. Man looks at the face of Mt. Rushmore and sees the hand of intelligent design, yet when man looks at the face of a newborn baby, sees no hand at all.

  91. It is a shame that someone like Rick spouts off on something and just becomes a lightning rod that perpetuates the divide. You bring up a point about the educators not having the ability to teach something other than the standard model handed down from the state or feds. It really does stifle creativity and diversity of education, in more ways than just religion. Like teaching to the test as to keep up with federal mandates.

    Thanks for the response. I’ve to head to bed now, been up all night.

  92. I think scientists see a threat to science when religious fundamentalists claim that a literal translation of the Bible explains creation…and then the fundamentalists attempt to force schools to teach creationism/intelligent design in science class.

    *****

    Movie Selection of the Fittest: Creationists Block Internationally Acclaimed Movie on Darwin From Being Shown in U.S.
    9/13/2009
    http://jonathanturley.org/2009/09/13/movie-selection-of-the-fittest-creationists-block-internationally-acclaimed-movie-on-darwin-from-being-shown-in-u-s/

    Excerpt:
    In an act of utter cowardice, United States distributors appear to be caving into a creationist campaign to bar the movie Creation on the life of Charles Darwin. The film explores his loss of faith following the death of his beloved 10-year-old daughter, Annie.

    The film has been the target of creationists, who remind distributors that only 39 percent of Americans believe in evolution. Jeremy Thomas, the producer of Creation, notes “[t]he film has no distributor in America. It has got a deal everywhere else in the world but in the US, and it’s because of what the film is about. People have been saying this is the best film they’ve seen all year, yet nobody in the US has picked it up.”

  93. Rep. Brattin’s proposal is mot motivated by a desire to develop critical thinking skills in the study of science. It is motivated by fear that science is a threat to religion. But science is only a threat to primitive religion, by which I mean religion which separates reason from faith.

  94. Mike,

    I agree that it is motivated by fear. I think some are afraid that they won’t be able to retain control of their religious followers if their minds are opened. Better to keep the people’s minds closed to certain “scientific” knowledge and discoveries.

  95. davidm,

    ….”We can’t talk about predictions without talking about falsification. That is exactly what the requirement of falsification is.”

    No!

    You most certainly can talk about predictions without discussing falsification. Make a prediction based upon your belief in Creationism and then let’s see if it works.

    Or we can view this issue through court decisions:

    McLean v. Arkansas:

    ” In 1982, in McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education, a United States federal court held that an Arkansas “balanced treatment” statute violated the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The Arkansas statute required public schools to give balanced treatment to “creation-science” and “evolution-science”. In a decision that gave a detailed definition of the term “science”, the court declared that “creation science” is not, in fact, science. The court also found that the statute did not have a secular purpose, noting that the statute used language peculiar to creationist literature.” http://ncse.com/creationism/legal/mclean-v-arkansas

    Appearing for the defense in the above litigation were such notables as Stephen Jay Gould (Punctuated Equilibrium theory of Evolution) and Francisco Ayala—both a biologist and philosopher.

    Now let’s move on to Kitzmiller v. Dover:

    “In the legal case Kitzmiller v. Dover, tried in 2005 in a Harrisburg, PA, Federal District Court, “intelligent design” was found to be a form of creationism, and therefore, unconstitutional to teach in American public schools. http://ncse.com/creationism/legal/intelligent-design-trial-kitzmiller-v-dover

    Here is a short summary of Judge John Jones’ Decision in the Dover trial:

    “In finding for the plaintiffs, Jones ruled that ID is in reality creation science, a religious-based doctrine that the U.S. Supreme Court banned on constitutional grounds in 1987. Jones found that ID “cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents.” He went on to say: “The evidence at trial demonstrates that ID is nothing less than the progeny of creationism.” (page 31, court ruling) and further: “The overwhelming evidence at trial established that ID is a religious view, a mere re-labeling of creationism, and not a scientific theory.” http://www.research.fsu.edu/dover/thedoverdecision.aspx

    The above decisions demolishes your claim that Creationism is science….I’m certainly no expert but those who gave testimony in the above trials were.

    “The overwhelming evidence at trial established that ID is a religious view, a mere re-labeling of creationism, and not a scientific theory”

  96. And that Elaine, is the essence of how we are propagandized by political parties as well. It is necessary to keep the people’s mind closed to certain uncomfortable knowledge and discoveries.

  97. I still can’t seem to post to this thread. Trying again in smaller sections.

    Wayne wrote: “The above decisions demolishes your claim that Creationism is science….I’m certainly no expert but those who gave testimony in the above trials were.”

    These court cases do not demolish my claim. I already mentioned these court cases. They buttress everything about what I have been saying about how science has secured legal censorship of information. What these cases do is set back public education by at least 20 or 30 years before enough knowledge can come forth to the next generation to show the failure of evolutionary theory to explain origins.

  98. Wayne, I had grown up in my twenties reading Gould. I admired him greatly, and if he was alive, I still would. I subscribed to Natural History where he had a regular column and looked forward to every issue. I have many writings from him in my library that I cherish. I made sure to order his last magnum opus knowing he would die soon from cancer. But Gould was very wrong on the creation issue.

  99. In fact, this court situation was his moment to get back at the creationists who had embarrassed him. It was his seminal work in 1972 with Niles Eldredge that put forward the theory of Punctuated Equilibrium. Creationists rightly jumped all over it because in that paper, they argue that most of the fossil record is about evolution happening very slowly through natural selection. They said that the gaps in the fossil record were being ignored by everyone. The gaps show that there just wasn’t enough time for new species to form through Natural Selection.

  100. The creationists jumped all over this theory. Here was a renowned and brilliant evolutionist verifying what they had been saying all along. Gould did not realize it at the time of publication, but his evolutionary model paralleled the creation models that had been constructed. Gould was greatly embarrassed. He took every opportunity from that time on to declare that the creationists were misinterpreting their paper. He falsely accused them of saying that he had abandoned Natural Selection. He stood up against all efforts by creationists wherever he found them.

  101. What is a Judge going to do when he has a whole association of scientists voting to declare that there is not a single shred of evidence for creation? And then he has all these leading brilliant scientists confirming such statements? The Judge almost has no choice but to agree with the experts testifying. Such is especially true when his own educational system has indoctrinated him to believe it. Remember that the censorship in public education was happening long before these court rulings.

  102. Robert Gentry also testified at the court in Arkansas as a witness for the creation side. He had publications in many scientific journals, prestigious peer reviewed journals like Science, Nature, etc. As I recall, the Judge asked Dalrymple about Gentry’s work, and the answer was like, “oh, that is just a tiny mystery that one day science will be able to explain.”

  103. Gentry felt very slighted by the blindness of the Judge to just dismiss his life’s work published in scientific journals as a tiny mystery based upon the word of one man who held a more prestigious position than he did. And how fraudulent it is for science to claim in court that there is not a shred of evidence for creationism when they have the evidence published in peer reviewed scientific journals.

  104. Gentry felt slighted by the blindness of the Judge who dismissed his life’s work which he had published in scientific journals. He considered it a tiny mystery based upon the word of one man who held a more prestigious position than he did. How fraudulent it is for science to claim in court that there is not a shred of evidence for creationism. They have the evidence published in peer reviewed scientific journals. They just deny it exists to the public, knowing the public will not take the time to look for themselves.

  105. I’m sorry, but courts do not determine what is science and what is not science. Science is the study of empirical data, and creationist models that are based upon empirical data rather than theology fall into the realm of science. Even theological models can be judged by science (tested by science) if they make empirical predictions.

  106. Wayne wrote: “You most certainly can talk about predictions without discussing falsification. Make a prediction based upon your belief in Creationism and then let’s see if it works.”

    My prediction is that the fossil record as it stands today falsifies Monophyletic Natural Selection as an adequate explanation for the diversity of life observed today. Future work in paleontology will never substantiate that Natural Selection is the primary mechanism of speciation.

    I also predict that eventually there will need to be a complete reworking of the mechanism of fossilization. There must also be a reworking of an understanding of the geologic strata that relies less upon Lyle’s principles of uniformitarianism and incorporates mechanisms of catastrophism and hydrogeologic sorting.

    Right now the bias in science of origins has brought scientific advances to a standstill so that it relies primarily upon outdated theories from men who lived more than 150 years ago. We have made tremendous advances in technology, but almost none in the science of origins. It is as if science concerning origins is stuck in a time loop. One day some new scientists in the field will wake up and reject what has been going on for the last century and forge a new path open to new ideas and even theories incorporating the possibility of Intelligent Design.

  107. davidm,

    “The failure of evolutionary science.” Evolution happens to be one of the most verified theories in science, to call it a failure is tantamount to throwing science back to the Dark Ages.

    “Legal censorship of information” is grossly misleading. It’s no wonder creationism loses court cases, your hyperbole is never matched with facts just rambling attempts to redefine the basic tenants of science to match your religious viewpoints.

  108. Wayne wrote: “Evolution happens to be one of the most verified theories in science, to call it a failure is tantamount to throwing science back to the Dark Ages.”

    Evolution as a biological process is well verified, but the General Theory of Evolution (per Kerkut), the idea of all life evolving through Monophyletic Natural Selection, has not been verified. Do not confuse these terms.

  109. Wayne wrote: ““Legal censorship of information” is grossly misleading.”

    How so?

    What I mean by legal censorship is exactly what we observe. There is this legal theory floating around that public education is to have nothing to do with the mention of a Creator. That has resulted in ruining education, so that students are indoctrinated into the idea that all those Creator ideas are myths of a past civilization, too unimportant to allow mention of them. So Judges outlaw the teaching of any creationist theories. That is censorship, and it is done under the color of law, so it is “legal censorship of information.” How is that phrase “grossly misleading”? I don’t see it.

    Thomas Jefferson was strongly concerned with public education not siding with one religious sect over another. However, he never objected to creationism being part of the public educational system. When he founded the University of Virginia, he decided not to have a professor of divinity like most universities had. Instead, he established a professor or ethics. Following is how he described the responsibilities of that chair:

    “In conformity with the principles of our Constitution, which places all sects of religion on an equal footing, with the jealousies of the different sects in guarding that equality from encroachment and surprise, and with the sentiments of the Legislature in favor of freedom of religion, manifested on former occasions, we have proposed no professor of divinity; and the rather as the proofs of the being of a God, the creator, preserver, and supreme ruler of the universe, the author of all the relations of morality, and of the laws and obligations these infer, will be within the province of the professor of ethics; to which adding the developments of these moral obligations, of those in which all sects agree, with a knowledge of the languages, Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, a basis will be formed common to all sects. Proceeding thus far without offence to the Constitution, we have thought it proper at this point to leave every sect to provide, as they think fittest, the means of further instruction in their own peculiar tenets.”
    http://etext.virginia.edu/etcbin/toccer-new2?id=JefRock.sgm&images=images/modeng&data=/texts/english/modeng/parsed&tag=public&part=1&division=div1
    pp 441-442.

    If our government more closely followed the ideology of Thomas Jefferson as expressed above, rather than the tenets of Atheism and Secular Humanism whose tenets are to purge all vestiges of religion from society, we would have a much more free society. As it is now, public education is hostile toward religion and hostile toward creationist theories of origins. This is wrong and immoral. Ironically, it is contrary to the spirit and text of our Constitution, even though they do all this in the name of our Constitution.

  110. davidm said:

    “As it is now, public education is hostile toward religion and hostile toward creationist theories of origins. This is wrong and immoral.”

    *****

    Public education isn’t hostile toward religion. Religious theories such as creationism don’t belong in science class. Forcing some people’s religious view on other people’s children in public schools would be “immoral.”

  111. Elaine M wrote: “Religious theories such as creationism don’t belong in science class.”

    I’m not talking about religious theories. I’m talking about empirical based theories. Are you saying that empirical studies are not science?

  112. When was the moment that deep-time was introduced? Was science involved? No. Hutton sailed by Siccar Point and said, “Gee, this looks old!” Did he use r-c dating? No, that came about 100 years later. Did Hutton examine the rocks and realise the jagged edges never had “deep-time” to smooth them out? No. No science there, and you all fell for it. Now you’re just like parents sneaking around the house to bite the cookies so the kids still believe in Santa.
    Please stop passing off historical science (maybe this happened) as observational science. Even petrochemical engineers use the same teachings by creationists about flood geology (without realising it) to find deep sea drill sites. You evos can’t start life without borrowing dna from existing bacteria. That’s cheating. Passing the buck to alien bacteria on meteorites is just religious wishful thinking. They couldn’t survive a heat shield moving at half the speed. Time to give up the bedtime stories, eh?

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