Teaching creationism.

On President Bush’s breathtaking comments on evolution, AmericaBlog asks:

Does the President believe students should be taught about astrology? Does the President believe students should be taught about crystals/New Age therapy? Does the President believe students should be taught the theory that the US landing on the moon was faked? Why not? There are dozens if not hundreds of books pushing this theory. A certain percentage of the population believes it and it was even the subject of a primetime documentary on Fox? What possible justification could the President offer for keeping this “debate” from students? And why doesn’t that justification apply to creationism as well?

Presumably, the President believes that children should be taught about both homo and hetero sex in schools. Let the kids pick, right?

I wonder which creationism that President Bush supports teaching? My Bible says that God created the earth, the light, the water, then stars, then birds & fish, then land-dwelling animals, and finally, turned some mud into Adam (Genesis 1, 2:7). But it also says that God made the earth and then created streams, and the streams formed the ocean and brought forth life (Genesis 2:4-6). I’m not sure which, between the two, would be taught. The Bantus believe that the god Bumba vomited up the sun, the moon, and the stars, followed by the animals and tribes of people. Raelians believe that space aliens made life on earth as an experiment in terraforming and genetic engineering. Hindus believe that the earth and mankind have always existed. Scientologists believe that when Xenu ruled the Galactic Confederation 75M years ago, he captured (by convincing them to show up for a fake tax investigation) and froze billions of beings in alcohol and flew them to Earth in DC-8s, where they were were chained on the slopes of volcanoes and had hydrogen bombs dropped on them.

I don’t know what’s stupider — making humans out of mud, vomiting us up, or Scientology on the whole. Out of the lot, I’ve got to say, Raelians look downright rational. So I say we teach that as our creationism theory in schools — we were placed here by aliens as an experiment. I assume President Bush would be OK with that.

42 thoughts on “Teaching creationism.”

  1. Ahh.. The quintessential anti-Creationist tactic, bring in the idiotic theories of origin, discredit those already discredited theories, and then try to lump Creationism in with them. I won’t try to argue Crationism on its merits, that has been done countless times by those more skilled and knowledgeable than us. I would like to debunk your attempt create a scriptural contradiction when none exists. You are acting as if there are two mutually exclusive creation scenarios presented in Genesis.

    All that second passage (Genesis 2:4-6) is doing is rehashing the creation story while explaining some things and adding details. It’s basically saying that “When the LORD God made the earth and the heavens” (Genesis 1:2-10) “and no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth and no plant of the field had yet sprung up” (1:11-13) because “the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no man to work the ground.” This last part follows the chronology of Genesis 1 and what the rest of the Bible says: #1 It didn’t rain on the earth until the flood and basic biology says that plants can’t grow without water. #2 At that point in the chronology man hadn’t been created, so human-driven irrigation wasn’t how the plants grew. It goes on to explain how the plants where able to grow: “but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground.”

    That passage (Gen. 2:4-6) doesn’t contradict the Genesis 1 account of creation at all. It just adds extra details of how the plants grew without rain or artificial irrigation.

    Oh, and yes, I even spelled “quintessential” right the first time. *grin*

  2. Obviously, this issue comes back to evolution. It does become a hairy situation when suggesting creation because, even there, people can’t agree. What’s the solution? I think the only reasonable solution is to avoid origin, at least in grade level schools. I know it seems like mere avoidance, but the origin of life is hardly one of the most essential pieces to the standard education. Students interested in the subject could seek it out themselves, or rely on their elders to help them. Let’s face it, there will never be any common ground on this (religion has been around throughout history, and evolution shows no signs of slowing down), and putting kids through all this can’t help them much.

  3. Sure there’s common ground — we’ve found it.

    As a nation, we believe that logic and science are the foundations of a good education and of our society. We likewise recognize that religion and religious matters are elements of faith, not fact-based, and are the function of a good family upbringing. Religious beliefs vary wildly from person to person, and the roots of religious beliefs often conflict with logic and science. Our solution is to go with logic.

    Religion once taught that the sun revolved around the earth. Nicholas Copernicus knew that the heliocentric model was right (it was the only way to explain retrograde motion), but didn’t dare so so out loud, because the Catholic Church had declared that the earth was the center of the universe, and that anybody who said otherwise was a heretic. Consequently, his On the Revolution of the Celestial Spheres wasn’t published until after his death, because he knew he’d end up jailed or killed for it.

    Religion likewise taught that Earth is flat. Matthew explains that Satan kidnapped Jesus and took him to the top of a big mountain, which was so high that they could see the whole world. This was long held up as evidence of a flat earth, science be damned.

    The point isn’t that religion is wrong. Most religions’ basics are generally very right. Rather, the point is that religion and logic have often conflicted when people interpret religious texts literally, and logic has always won in such instances.

    Now, we can refuse to teach anything that religion addresses, but we’d be refusing to acknowledge the shape of the earth, whether Earth revolves around the sun or vice-versa, the whole of geology or the existence of extinction.

    We’ll all do best if schools teach kids the facts. Anybody who is opposed to facts would do well to remove their children from school entirely. Otherwise, it’ll be a rough 13 years.

  4. “Hans, ‘making people out of mud'”

    Once again, misrepresenting, however minor. It was “dust” not “mud.”

    “is every bit as discredited”

    Wrong. The vomit up stuff was totally an invented idea that has nothing to back it up. The Bible, on the other hand, is an accurate historical document that has withstood the test of time and countless challenges. When the science of archaeology “disproved” a historical event mentioned in the Bible, the truth came out a couple of years later. The Bible was right.

    There is absolutely no comparison between the credibility and believeability of the Bible versus some sort of offbeat vomiting thing that I never heard of before you mentioned it.

    “As a nation, we believe that logic and science are the foundations of a good education and of our society.”

    We do, but not your perception of “logic” and “science.” According to New Scientist (in an article critical of ID) 45% of Americans believe God created humans and the earth as described in Genesis. 35% believe God guided an evolutionary process. A mere 10% believe in atheistic evolution that you espouse be taught in our taxpayer funded public schools.

    We’ve seen the scientific odds of evolution happening. (Case for a Creator by Lee Strobel is recommended reading; Lee Strobel was an atheistic reporter who set out to prove creationists wrong once and for all; after he did his reasearch, it changed his mind. He came to the conclusion that God *did* make the earth.) We know better. We’re not that naive that we swallow those theories whole.

    The problem with your solution of just using logic and science is that much of the “science” behind evolution is faked, exaggerated, and misrepresented. (For more info check out http://www.answersingenesis.org/) The other problem is that evolution is the scientific theory of origin for a religion as well. The religion? Atheism.

    “Religion likewise taught that Earth is flat. Matthew explains that Satan kidnapped Jesus and took him to the top of a big mountain, which was so high that they could see the whole world. This was long held up as evidence of a flat earth, science be damned.”

    Ah ha! That is the key. “Religion” taught that. Man’s fallacious interpetation of the Bible taught that. If you go to the Bible to try to validate pre-formed opinions, you can get whatever you want and the flat-earth type of crap will happen every time. However, if you start with the Bible and form your opinions by reading the entire thing and taking the whole thing in context, that sort of thing isn’t as likely to happen. Man’s imperfect; we’ll always make mistakes, but less so if you avoid picking and choosing portions that happen to suit you.

    As to Satan and Jesus on the mountain, here’s what the scripture said: “Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. ‘All this I will give you,’ he said, ‘if you will bow down and worship me.'” The popular belief during that period was that the earth was flat. People who wanted to support that claim went to the Bible to support their presuppositions. If they would have taken the Bible as a whole they would have seen that the Bible referred to the “circle of the earth” way back in Isaiah 40:22 and that since Jesus and Satan were super-human beings, they didn’t need to physically “see” the whole earth to be shown it.

    “The point isn’t that religion is wrong. Most religions’ basics are generally very right. Rather, the point is that religion and logic have often conflicted when people interpret religious texts literally, and logic has always won in such instances.”

    How in the world are you saying that most religions’ basics are “very right?” If you don’t believe in the Bible and God’s absolute authority, you have no measurement of right or wrong. All is relative. Right and wrong is based on your whim. Thus, to be consistent according to your humanistic outlook, it’s all right for Mohammad Atta to fly a plane into the WTC because he believed he was doing the “right thing.” That’s his truth. Everyone’s truth is true. Both of us can believe polar opposites and both be right.

    If you don’t believe in an absolute authority beyond human whim, you have no reason for justice, you have no right (the privelige kind of right) or basis to say that the Islamists or Hitler was wrong or evil. That was their truth. That’s what they believed.

    We’ll all do best if schools teach kids the facts. Anybody who is opposed to facts would do well to remove their children from school entirely. Otherwise, it’ll be a rough 13 years.” [emphasis added]

    I am fine with that. That would mean no teaching of creation or evolution in public schools. After all, even the most atheistic and humanist scientific authorities acknowledge that evolution is a theory not a fact!

  5. Excuse the typos. I was trying to get done with this comment so we can eat supper (I am in Idaho right now.) and I’m remoting into my computer at home, so the typing is a bit jerky.

  6. Please note that I am not for teaching creationism as fact in our freedom-of-religion/no-establishment republic. If it were a theocracy, then it would be all right, but it’s not. (btw, theocracies, unless guided directly by God (i.e. the Biblical Israelites) is a stupid idea) I am for teaching fact and science only. That would include teaching the theory (and making it clear as such) of evolution (and the supporting facts) and the theory (and making it clear as such) of intelligent design (and the supporting facts) along with passing mentions of the other less credible theories.

    Present a balanced view of the facts and let the student decide.

  7. Hans, I don’t think that there’s a useful discussion that you and I can have on this on this topic.

    Suffice it to say, your reasoning is based on faith — by definition, belief that cannot be proven by the weight of the evidence — and mine is based on logic. You’d say that the theory of gravity is just a theory and things fall because God wants them to; I’d say the theory of gravity is (like the theory of evolution) a fact, since theories and facts are in no way mutually exclusive. We’re talking past each other.

  8. Hans, with all due respect, I’d give it up. Waldo is preaching to the choir in an attempt to drum up constructive debate on how best to attack the problem amongst people who think like us. We will never convince you, and you will never convince us.

  9. Astronomers also have to deal with creationist arguments. After all, someone who believes that the Bible is the ultimate authority on science does not want to hear that the universe is 13.7 billion years old and that the Earth formed by the gradual accretion of matter from a disk leftover after our Sun formed.

    Anyway, a colleague of mine was giving a talk about his astronomical research in a town with strong creationist sentiment. Afterwards, an older man was heard to grumble loudly something along the lines of, “we wouldn’t have to spend all this tax money on telescopes if people would just believe what the Bible tells them”.

    Larry told me his response, which I find hilarious — he said something along the lines of, “If you believe that the Bible tells us all that we need to know about science, why don’t you let your minister build your next plane?”

    I think it would be great to see a bunch of astronomers decide to try to push their “the universe is 13.7 billion years old” agenda on churches. We should start to hold protests outside of churches where we hand out literature to the flock on HR diagrams and stellar evolution codes that show that our Sun will live for 5 billion more years. We can begin to anonymously leave books by Hawking and Sagan outside of Sunday School classrooms. It would be great to use creationist tactics to bring Big Bang Cosmology into a sermon, “And on the fifth day, God made the galaxies move away from each other such that their apparent radial velocity with respect to a stationary observer is directly proportional to their distance”

  10. Waldo & Chris:

    In this comment, I have tried to separate fact and opinion. Opinion is enclosed in (op)html style(/op) brackets.

    (op)I realized from the beginning (“I won’t try to argue Crationism on its merits, that has been done countless times by those more skilled and knowledgeable than us.”) that an argument on the merits of creation v. evolution would be a pointless rehashing of old refined arguments. I was trying to point out a couple of things in the post that didn’t line up with the facts, especially that reading of Gen. 1, 2:7 “versus” Gen. 2:4-6. Scripture is my expertise and it is hard for me to stand idly by and see it misrepresnted.

    “Suffice it to say, your reasoning is based on faith — by definition, belief that cannot be proven by the weight of the evidence — and mine is based on logic.”(/op)

    Yes, mine is based on faith and an observation of the universe. Creationism isn’t be proved beyond the shadow of a doubt and never will be. (op)What evolutionists such as yourself don’t like to accept is that(/op) your theory is based on a lot of faith as well. Darwin started with a conclusion that he wanted, no God, and searched for the evidence and a theory to support it. (To be honest, that is what Creationists have done as well.)

    “You’d say that the theory of gravity is just a theory and things fall because God wants them to; I’d say the theory of gravity is (like the theory of evolution) a fact, since theories and facts are in no way mutually exclusive.”

    Sigh. Science is my hobby. I loved science since I was a kid and all through high school. Gravity is not a fact. It is a law. A law that is accurate according to our best observations of the physical world. There are extreme points where that law breaks down and the law of gravity no longer describes what’s happening. The law of gravity holds pretty well, but in two of my favorite areas of science, nuclear physics and thermodynamics, the laws are constantly changing. In studying the atom, we only know enough to have models. Laws, such as the law of gravity, are only as accurate as the detail of our observation. As our detail of observation increases, we can see *a lot* that we are missing!

    Scientifically, gravity is not a fact. It is a law. A law is a best effort thing. It is a hypotheses proven by repeated observation of things happening the same way. Everyone believes gravity and to our limited natural bodily observation, it will never change, (op)but in 20-60 years, the law of gravity will probably be different.(/op)

    Ask any scientist. Evolution is theory. Not a fact. Not a law. It is an unproven theory (op)with a lot of holes*.(/op)

    I respectfully disagree with you on evolution (and there are facts that would support your view), but I would at least hope that we can use the proper scientific terms, keep the scientific method in mind, and do our best to keep our facts straight.

    Please ask any evolutionary biologist or nuclear physicist about any of the stuff that isn’t marked as “(op)” that I have written in this comment. (op)They will say that I’m right.(/op)

    (op)*I personally believe it will collapes in 10-50 years. (To be replaced by an equally atheistic theory.)(/op)

  11. I’ve never had any trouble reconciling my Christian faith with Darwinian theory. To place the two in stark opposition misunderstands the precepts of both. The President either was playing to the cheap seats with his remarks or he hadn’t thought it through. The difficulty with Intelligent Design is that it is (to date at least) a theological construct. Open the door to it in the secular schools and there is no defensible way to hold back a lot of other religious-based theories of the formation of the universe. As a conservative Christian, I do not understand why so many of my borthers and sisters want the government meddling with religious doctrine. An article of secular faith is that Government rarely does anything very well. Why charge it with a duty to teach religiouus doctrine? They’ll just muck it up. I’m surprised that there is not more of a vocal assertion among conservatives to keep the government away from matters of faith. Hans, let the government teach Darwinism. It’s good science. Good science is a window on God’s omniscience. If you feel it abrades your religiious convictions, have a few good talks with your kids about it. with God’s help, they’ll get it all straightened out.

  12. Ironically, people who believe in “Intelligent Design” are the ultimate counter-arguments to “Intelligent Design.” Something tells me that God is just a wee bit smarter than George W. Bush and the other flat-earthers out there…

  13. Hans, I’m afraid that you’re incorrect about the difference between a theory and a law. “Law” is not a scientific term — it’s a layman’s term. A theory can never be proven — a theory is, in fact, a proven hypothesis, to the extent, again, to which something can be known to be true.

    Gravity is a fact. (A “law,” if you prefer.) But we have a theory that explains it. That theory is that objects attract with a power that’s proportional to their mass, and dimensional theory helps to express this in more useful terms. But science really has no grasp whatsoever on gravity. It’s a total mystery that we really can’t explain. But we do know that gravity exists, regardless of the veracity of our theory.

    Evolution is a fact. We have a theory that explains it: natural selection. That theory has been demonstrated time and time again — it’s why penicillin was a wonder drug 80 years ago, and now it’s nearly worthless. Science has a wonderful grasp on evolution, because we can observe it, and it’s logical, every step of the way. Like gravity, we know that evolution exists — we simply have a far better theory to explain it.

    To recap: “law” isn’t a scientific term, “theory” is an explanation for a thing that is known to exist, one that comes of testing a hypothesis repeatedly until it is known to be so. The only difference between the theory of gravity and the theory of evolution is that evolution is much more well understood than gravity.

    I’ve never had any trouble reconciling my Christian faith with Darwinian theory.

    That’s great to hear — I’m baffled why anybody would have trouble with that. Natural selection is an amazing, wonderful mechanism. It should instill a sense of wonderment in all who know it, which should only bolster belief, not tear it down.

  14. Folks, this is simple. The government should continue to hold the same policy it has always held: leave science to the scientists.

    If “ID” people want to have their theory taught next to evolution, they have two options: one, do the research and convince scientists that there’s an argument for ID. Second, write and sell science textbooks that present both. Personally, I’m wondering why option #2 hasn’t been taken … maybe because the authors would have no credibility, or because no publishing company believes they sell? Hmm … might they be on to something?

    It’s the free and open marketplace of ideas, people. To the best of my knowledge, evolutionists did not go around holding rallies and hijacking school baords in order to have evolution taught. It gained credence as a scientific theory and was outlawed by states (Scopes Trial) before finally gaining acceptance.

    The government (whether local, state or federal) dictating what is to be taught in science classes against the recommendation of the scientific community is not too far gone from the Pope ordering Galileo to recant.

    Guess what? It still moves.

  15. I apologize for the letter order malfunctions in my previous post.

    The last post also came off a bit harsh. Let me reiterate my main point: science textbooks reflect the thinking of a majority of the scientific community. Therefore, ID adherents should either seek to change minds in the scientific community or should produce their own textbooks and market them to school districts who want to teach ID with evolution.

    Let the best idea win in the appropriate forum, which is not the courtroom or the legislature, but the scientific community and the publishing community. Politicians and judges can’t figure out when life begins, so they certainly can’t figure out when and how the earth begins. Frankly, they shouldn’t have to.

  16. I was listening to The Diane Rehm Show this morning. Her guests included the head of some association of science teachers and some guy from the Southern Baptists. The Baptist dude was obviously out of his league, because the discussion was about science and teaching, and the Baptist had to say over and over again “I’m not a scientist, I’m not a teacher, I can’t say.”

    Indeed, Mr. Baptist — that’s the point.

    My favorite part was when a science teacher called. He asked a simple question that went a little like this: “When I teach evolution to my students, there are a series of experiments that they conduct to demonstrate natural selection. Through the scientific method they’re able to observe evolution in action. Could [the Baptist guy] please tell me what experiment that I could have my students conduct to ‘intelligent design’?”

    The Baptist guy was bumfuzzled. He blathered for a bit until Diane Rehm — as only Diane Rehm can — pointed out that he’d completely failed to answer the question. He fell back on “I’m not a scientist, I don’t know.”

    Indeed, that’s the point.

  17. With regard to Adam Sharp’s suggestion that the publishing community is an appropriate forum to judge the value of science textbooks that present both ID and evolution, it’s worth noting that decisions made regarding publishing textbooks are often controlled by a small politically-appointed body. For example, the Texas State Board of Education must approve all textbooks used in that state. Publishers will put out whatever will sell and Texas may have a greater interest in political appeasement than they do in scientific truth.

    I’m not sure that such political interference permits the marketplace of ideas its greatest freedom.

  18. Calling proponents of evolution “atheists” is just another way to manipulate through vocabulary. Like calling a missile the “peacekeeper.” I am as “Theistic” as a person could be, yet I don’t reach for the bible when I need a science textbook.

    And evolution is both a fact (yes, indeed, that’s how species differentiate) AND a theory (the understanding of the mechanism by which evolution works is subject to change as new evidence is found).

  19. Evolution is a fact? I think we have a long ways to go before being able to prove that.

    And Waldo, I never said anything about teaching religion. I certainly did try to imply though that there is a great divide in this country over religion and evolution. Yes, religion is not rational in the way that evolution is (I think it is a stretch to say that religion is irrational). However, that, as Hans Mast has stated, does not register that way for everyone. For many (particularly Christians), they stand in direct opposition to each other. There is far from a consensus on what should be taught in schools.

    A student can learn logic and reason without learning about evolution. Rather than teaching evolution, which in essence is indoctrination itself, leaving this question out of schools is the only way we can appeal to both sides. If you don’t like me calling it indoctrination, let me remind you that many of us creationists are skeptical about some of the ideas posed in evolution. While it might have a religious motivation, there is a logical disbelief. There remain some questions about missing links, random mutations, and the very beginning of life itself. While you may think that it is irrational for creationists to bring up those questions (and I’m sure you have a response for each one), skepticism will likely remain.

    Of course, we could go to the fact that we are directly challenging the way that many parents are raising their children, but heck, what do they know, right? They are only the ones most responsible for the upbringing of a child, and having conflicting viewpoints thrown at them can’t be that hard on a child, can it? (And don’t tell me that they are not conflicting; to an 7-year-old, the clash between creation and evolution is very confusing).

  20. Evolution is a fact? I think we have a long ways to go before being able to prove that.

    I’m afraid you’re wrong, CR. Evolution is a fact. There has not been a published, peer-reviewed paper to the contrary in decades. It’s as much a fact as gravity or magnetism.

    While you may think that it is irrational for creationists to bring up those questions (and I’m sure you have a response for each one), skepticism will likely remain.

    You’ve just conceded my point. :) Every “doubt” is based on being wrong — that’s what “you have a response for each one” means. There is no evidence — zip, nada, zilch — for creationism. That’s why it’s an element of faith. There is overwhelming evidence for evolution, which is why every scientist in every relevant field (from biology to zoology, and everything in between) backs it completely.

    When proven, relevant, absolute facts cannot be taught in school because people (who concede that they cannot refute those facts) simply don’t like them, the problem is not with those facts — it’s with those people and their being wrong. When we remove from children’s education every fact that conflicts with those who take religious parables literally, we make our kids stupid. That rules out everything from geology to astronomy, from geography to biology, from a great deal of modern literature to vast swaths of the social sciences.

    It’s sheer craziness.

  21. “Calling proponents of evolution “atheists” is just another way to manipulate through vocabulary. Like calling a missile the “peacekeeper.” I am as “Theistic” as a person could be, yet I don’t reach for the bible when I need a science textbook.”

    The majority theists tend to believe that the sum (I say this to include polytheists) of their deities are omnipotent. Seeing that you are a theist, do you believe that your deity(ies) are/is omnipotent? Since the majority of people answer yes, simple logic would seem to indicate that the deity (I’m going to stick with monotheism from here on becuase it is most popular in the U.S. and for simplicity sake. If you are a polytheist, feel free to substitute.) was not created by some other entity, because if it was, the other entity would be more powerful. Therefore the universe and the natural laws that govern it were created by this deity, because if not then the universe would have to have been created by one more powerful (so much for omnipotence) or it would have been before the deity (so much for omnipotence over time). Because of this logic, it is pretty hard to truly and consistently be a theist and not believe that a deity created everything. Hey, I’m sure there’s some pretzel contortion religion out there that provides some mysterious clause for that. You should try Flying Spaghetti Monsterism! *grin*

    “There is no evidence — zip, nada, zilch — for creationism.”

    I suppose these facts wouldn’t change your mind: #1 At the current rate of the sun using up it’s hydrogen and thus its rate of shrinkage, if the earth would be even a “mere” million years old (a fraction of what macro-evolutionsts believe), the surface of the sun would have touched the earth a million years ago. #2 The oceans grow saltier at a set rate each year. The current saltiness of the ocean indicates a earth age of 5,000-15,000 years. #3 See lack of missing link fossil below.

    These are just a sampling. There are many more.

    “Hans, I’m afraid that you’re incorrect about the difference between a theory and a law. “Law” is not a scientific term — it’s a layman’s term. A theory can never be proven — a theory is, in fact, a proven hypothesis, to the extent, again, to which something can be known to be true.

    Gravity is a fact. (A “law,” if you prefer.) But we have a theory that explains it. That theory is that objects attract with a power that’s proportional to their mass, and dimensional theory helps to express this in more useful terms. But science really has no grasp whatsoever on gravity. It’s a total mystery that we really can’t explain. But we do know that gravity exists, regardless of the veracity of our theory.”

    I’m still not sure that law isn’t a scientific term. I could be wrong, it’s been a while since my high school science courses.

    I understand what your are saying. You were talking about the fact of gravity while I was talking about the scientific theory of gravity. It is good to figure out the terms to make sure that we are on the same page. I must admit that I hadn’t made that mental differentiation. I was thinking only of the scientific theory.

    “The Baptist guy was bumfuzzled. He blathered for a bit until Diane Rehm — as only Diane Rehm can — pointed out that he’d completely failed to answer the question. He fell back on “I’m not a scientist, I don’t know.”

    Indeed, that’s the point.”

    Yes indeed it is. The fact that a single non-scientific person (who was probably chosen for the show beacause of that fact for the purpose of making creationism look dumb and the exclusive domain of unscientific religious nuts) didn’t know science hardly discounts the entire theory that he believes in. Beacuse I can not scientifically explain to you how the theory of cold fusion works hardly discounts the scientists that do. (and don’t try to kid yourself that there aren’t any scientists that have done legit and persuasive work in supporting the theory of creationism/ID.)

    “That’s great to hear — I’m baffled why anybody would have trouble with that. Natural selection is an amazing, wonderful mechanism. It should instill a sense of wonderment in all who know it, which should only bolster belief, not tear it down.”

    “And evolution is both a fact (yes, indeed, that’s how species differentiate) AND a theory (the understanding of the mechanism by which evolution works is subject to change as new evidence is found).”

    “I’m afraid you’re wrong, CR. Evolution is a fact. There has not been a published, peer-reviewed paper to the contrary in decades. It’s as much a fact as gravity or magnetism.”

    I think we have a confusion here. There is a difference in micro evolution and macro evolution. Micro evolution is a proven fact that happens all the time. It is not contradictory of the Bible and I definitely believe in it. It happens all the time. It is the specization of a genus. Natural selection is a proven fact and happens all the time. It happens when a dog with medium length fur moves from a medium climate to a hot climate. Those with shorter hair survive better and thus soon all the dogs in the hot climate have short hair.

    What hasn’t been shown or proven is macro evolution. Macro evolution is the evolution of a tadpole to a bear (from one genus to another). Not a single non-faked “missing link” fossil that shows a transitition creature (for instance a half-man, half-ape) between genera (plural of genus) has been found!

    The ignorance on the difference between macro and micro evolution is creationism’s toughest hurdle to overcome. Macro evolutionists have very successfully (Indeed, I am guilty of unconsiously perpetuating it; in this thread, until this comment, I have said “evolution” when what I really should have said was “macro evolution.”) got most people to equate macro and micro as the same thing. This mindset takes the undeniable evidences of micro evo and puts it in the same (empty) boat of macro evo evidence.

  22. [libertarian rant]
    Privative schools. That way Hans’ children can go to Creationist school, mine can go to schools that teach reality, and Waldo can send his kids to the Spaghetti Monster school. Case solved. ;)
    [/rant]

  23. Hans, you’re presenting us with a false alternative. You’d like to say, “If it didn’t happen the way scientists say today, then god is the only other explanation.” The absurdity of pressing any rational thinker including a scientist to claim infallibility aside, even if all of the items you present do somehow negate a particular theory about the course and mechanisms of evolution or environmental development, they hardly point to creationism. All it says is that new hypotheses should be created and tested.

    Also putting aside my skepticism of the examples you’ve provided, whatever the particular chronological events leading up to life on earth as we know it today, it can be discovered and described using the scientific method. Solar burn rate, ocean salinity, fossil records and any other aspects of natural reality do not excuse a mental leap to the supernatural in an attempt to explain the course of events.

    Belief in creationism, intelligent design and indeed the very existence of the supernatural is an act of faith, not reason. If such things were not an act of faith, they would be open to scientific discovery and subject to rational thought.

    Perhaps a more scientific approach to your faith is in order: when a claim such as omnipotence is shown to be contradictory (Can your omnipotent creature create a square circle?) you should reject the idea and submit a new one for testing. I suggest this in good humor and with no expectation of this being carried out. I bring it up only to illustrate what has already been stated in this discussion: we cannot have a discussion of facts where we do not share a common means of acquiring knowledge of those facts.

    Faith and reason do not mix.

  24. Pingback: Trey Givens
  25. To support microevolution is to support macroevolution. If things can change a little bit in a short time, they can change a lot in a long time.

    I bring it up only to illustrate what has already been stated in this discussion: we cannot have a discussion of facts where we do not share a common means of acquiring knowledge of those facts.

    That is phrased so much better than I’m capable of saying it.

    Hans, a discussion on evolution that is based on scientific terms, you’re doomed to lose. I tell you this not to be a rude bastard but, rather, for your rhetorical gain. Talking about things like the ocean’s salinity level (which appears to oscillate, BTW) not only “do not excuse a mental leap to the supernatural,” as Trey put it (instead, should your points be true, they indicate a need for further research), but they place you on science’s rhetorical terms. That’s not a battle you can win. That’s not due to any shortcomings on your part — it’s because your perspective is one that can only be based on faith.

    Faith is a powerful and amazing thing. When you look for evidence to support your faith, you undermine it, because faith, by definition, exists in a vacuum of evidence. My belief in evolution is easy, because all of the facts back it; no faith required. You could say I’ve taken the easy way out. Your belief in creation is very hard — your faith is all you’ve got. You’ve taken the hard way out.

    Don’t cheapen your faith by attempting to support it with scientific evidence. If you choose to believe in creation in spite of the facts, do so proudly and be done with it. If you choose believe in creation because of the facts, you are willfully blinding yourself to indisputable factual realities, and that’s a very dangerous path to go down in life. Picking and choosing the facts you choose to acknowledge is very much like picking and choosing the admonitions in the Bible that you choose to see as valid — inconsistent at best, immoral at worst.

  26. I don’t have time at the moment (I’m PST and it’s 9 AM and I haven’t had my shower yet… Gaah!) to provide an indepth response to what was said. (I will in an hour or so.)

    Since this is really a post that speaks to the political ramifications of evolution v. creationism: I agree with Chris: School vouchers! At this point my parents just swallow the 3k tuition each year to send my siblings (and me when I was in school) to a private Christian school. That’s really not fair that we have to pay to support a public school system that is not only failing, but is teaching “science” that to our religion would deny the existence of God.

  27. I’m of two minds on vouchers. On the one hand, I worked several jobs in high school to pay tuition at the private home-schooling group that I attended. (A generous scholarship from the school didn’t hurt, either. :) On the other hand, I’m not fond of the argument that those not immediately benefiting from government services should be exempt from funding them.

    Practically speaking, if vouchers became commonplace, the effect would be that the price of private school would simply increase by the cost of the voucher. If opting out yields a $3,000 voucher, than that tony private school down the street would run $13,000/year, not $10,000/year, since suddenly all of their students would have an extra $3,000 kicking around. That’s basic market capitalism.

    So I figure, hey, bring ’em on. I don’t think they’ll do a damned thing, once the market events out, but if we have to actually do it for people to realize that, that’s fine by me.

  28. “Don’t cheapen your faith by attempting to support it with scientific evidence. If you choose to believe in creation in spite of the facts, do so proudly and be done with it. If you choose believe in creation because of the facts, you are willfully blinding yourself to indisputable factual realities, and that’s a very dangerous path to go down in life.”

    Faith is believing something even if it cannot be proven beyond doubt. I have faith in the Bible and what it says. I believe the Genesis account of creation. If the evidence would contradict the Genesis account of creation (from my study, I believe it doesn’t) there is no reason to believe anything the Bible says. If it lies in one area, who’s to say that the rest is true? Faith is not: believing one thing with your heart and another with your head. That’s not faith. Faith requires belief despite not seeing the entire picture of evidence. You can’t say that you have faith in something and then not really believe it.

    You can’t be honest and consistent intellectually and say that the faith part of me believes this and the brain part of me believes that. If that’s where you’re at, the faith part of you is useless because it’s not real. It’s just a conscience salve. You don’t really believe the faith thing.

    “To support microevolution is to support macroevolution. If things can change a little bit in a short time, they can change a lot in a long time.”

    No they can’t. There are features that are irreducibly complex, that is in the process of evolving a single unified feature that is the sum of a number of integrated features, the creature would die. The bombardier beetle (genus Brachinus) is an organism that has become a standard example for irreducible complexity. These beetles have a defence mechanism that works thus: secretory cells produce hydroquinones and hydrogen peroxide (and perhaps other chemicals, depending on the species), which collect in a reservoir. The reservoir opens through a muscle-controlled valve onto a thick-walled reaction chamber. This chamber is lined with cells that secrete catalases and peroxidases. When the contents of the reservoir are forced into the reaction chamber, the catalases and peroxidases rapidly break down the hydrogen peroxide and catalyze the oxidation of the hydroquinones into p-quinones. These reactions release free oxygen and generate enough heat to bring the mixture to the boiling point and vaporize about a fifth of it. Under pressure of the released gasses, the valve is forced closed, and the chemicals are expelled explosively through openings at the tip of the abdomen. Irreducible complexity asserts that, in order for any of the components of the system to function, all components of the system must have been present. If a single part of that system were not present, the beetle would blow itself up instead of its enemies.

    This is one example from many: The vast differences in the bird lung vs. the reptile lung, flagella that contain 40 different, complex proteins to function (if 39 would have managed to evolve, it still wouldn’t have worked and natural selection would dicate that those that had evolved that would have been eliminated.),

    “Hans, you’re presenting us with a false alternative. You’d like to say, “If it didn’t happen the way scientists say today, then god is the only other explanation.” The absurdity of pressing any rational thinker including a scientist to claim infallibility aside, even if all of the items you present do somehow negate a particular theory about the course and mechanisms of evolution or environmental development, they hardly point to creationism. All it says is that new hypotheses should be created and tested.”

    I am not saying that because evolution hasn’t been proven, therefore creationism has been proven. With y’all who think that evolution is as settled as gravity, to get to square one with creationism, it must be established that (macro) evolution is not a proven fact.

    “Belief in creationism, intelligent design and indeed the very existence of the supernatural is an act of faith, not reason. If such things were not an act of faith, they would be open to scientific discovery and subject to rational thought.”

    I agree! Creationism will never be proved beyond a shadow of a doubt by science because science can’t measure the supernatural. It is beyond the realm of science. However, science will not contradict what the supernatural has done in creation/origins.

  29. Hans wrote: “If the evidence would contradict the Genesis account of creation (from my study, I believe it doesn’t) there is no reason to believe anything the Bible says. If it lies in one area, who’s to say that the rest is true?”

    Among these three accounts of Jesus’ final words, which one is the truth?

    Matt.27:46,50: “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, eli, lama sabachthani?” that is to say, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” …Jesus, when he cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.”

    Luke23:46: “And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, “Father, unto thy hands I commend my spirit:” and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.”

    John19:30: “When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, “It is finished:” and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.”

  30. To support microevolution is to support macroevolution. If things can change a little bit in a short time, they can change a lot in a long time.

    Micro-evolution has been proved; there is much documentation of “before” and “after”. However, macro-evolution has not been proved. For something to be proved, it must be documented, verified, and repeatable. If things change a little bit in a short time, it means things change a little bit in a short time. It doesn’t mean things change a lot in a long time.
    Also, this change we’re talking about always involves changes in genetic information that already was… Genetic info from two “things” combines into one new “thing”, but all the genetic info in the one new “thing” comes from the two original “things”. All observed changes (micro-evolution) have resulted from a loss of genetic information or different dominant and recessive genes.
    If you think a creeping land animal had the genetic info for wings, and somehow under right circumstances some creeping land animals grew wings and adapted to flying, where is that genetic info now? Can scientists find in mice the genetic info to grow wings (we might then call them bats)? No. Well, maybe they lost that info. O.K. but you can’t prove that. It’s unprovable.
    A lot in the theory (hypothesis) of evolution is unproveable, a lot in the theory of creation is unprovable. We choose to believe about origins whatever makes us comfortable. I’m “uncomfortable” saying “things just happened”, and a lot of people are uncomfortable saying “God created it”. Often the way we were taught as we grew up, is the way we continue to think as we age.

    “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”
    Above quote attributed to Laurence J. Peter, Dale Carnegie, and Anon. I don’t know who originally said it, but it’s pretty true, especially in a debate in this area.

  31. Among these three accounts of Jesus’ final words, which one is the truth?

    Matt. 27:46,50: “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, eli, lama sabachthani?” that is to say, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”… Jesus, when he cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.”

    Luke 23:46: “And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, “Father, unto thy hands I commend my spirit:” and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.”

    John 19:30: “When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, “It is finished:” and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.”

    Janis: It looks like he said all three. First, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” and then, “It is finished,” and then, “Father, unto thy hands I commend my spirit.” After the Matt. passage it explicitly says that he “cried again with a loud voice” before he died. The John passage doesn’t include the “Father, unto thy hands I commend my spirit,” but it doesn’t exclude it from being between “It is finished,” and the giving up of the ghost.

    The gospel writers differ in writing style; some are exhaustive in their detail, others are more brief, some bring more passion than others, etc. Their personalities dictate that different things stand out to them, as well. Sometimes one writer includes a detail another didn’t. Sometime all four provide the same detail.

    The important thing is that they never contradict each other.

    A.R.: Couldn’t have said it better myself.

  32. “The gospel writers differ in writing style; some are exhaustive in their detail, others are more brief, some bring more passion than others, etc. Their personalities dictate that different things stand out to them, as well. Sometimes one writer includes a detail another didn’t. Sometime all four provide the same detail.”

    Sounds reasonable to me. I suppose the point is not to take it literally, because in doing so you’ll miss the essential truth that underlies the text.

  33. “I suppose the point is not to take it literally, because in doing so you’ll miss the essential truth that underlies the text.”

    That certainly wasn’t my point. I would certainly disagree with it.

    If it’s all a metaphorical fairy-tale that didn’t literally happen, you might as well write your own: make your own rules, decide for yourself what is sin, have no absolute standards. After all the Bible (in this scenario) is nothing but some other mortal human’s take on morality. What makes them better than you?

    I do not believe the previous paragraph. I was just carrying your view of not taking the Bible literally to its logical conclusion.

  34. No ID proponent doubts natural selection or intra-species evolutionary changes.

    However, there has never been any evidence that remotely supports evolution from an amoeba to a cow or a snail to a camel. Evolution on that scale has simply failed to live up to billing.
    Scientists know this, and have been scrambling for the past couple decades to explain why,
    but they’re not having much luck as of late.

    And if you broaden your research beyond the laughably biased talk.origins, you’ll learn this… but that would mean actually wanting to open up one’s mind to the possibly that sacred cows might just be skewered. Do you have the courage to do that?

  35. Hans – Metaphor doesn’t necessarily equal fairy tale. Were Jesus’s parables fairy tales? I wouldn’t characterize them that way. As I understand it, he didn’t intend for them to be taken literally. They are stories told for the purpose of making a point, of illustrating a moral ideal.

  36. Janis, I totally agree with your last comment.

    I agree that there are portions of the Bible that are metaphor (especially parables), but they are clearly marked as such. For instance, “The kingdom of heaven is like…” Only those sections of the Bible that are clearly marked as metaphor are metaphor. The rest is literal.

    Please note that I said, “If it’s all a metaphorical fairy-tale [emphasis addded]” What I’m saying is that if you take as metaphorical the things that are written as literal fact, Christianity becomes an artificial little construct. A conscience salve. A non-binding suggestion. A non-transforming creed to obey only when conveinient. An arbitrary moral system (once again, optional). A system that has no motivation for its adherents to follow, as long as said non-adherents are smart enough to sin slyly enough to take advantage of enough people; one’s only accountability is to an imperfect government that, because of its humanness, can’t catch every crimnal. If you evade authority on earth, there is no accountability beyond the grave.

    You might as well custom build such a religion. A custom-built religion has the same value as interpeting the whole Bible non-literally.

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