Tennessee makes it safe to teach "alternative" science.

BeriAlpha wrote:

"There are a lot of things we're not even close to understanding with science. Some people believe we'll eventually find a scientific explanation for things like the beginning of the universe, while others believe in a guiding intelligence that created the universe in a specific way. Each person's beliefs on the matter are a personal decision. Now then, I'd like to move on and spend the rest of this semester talking about the things we can understand, observe, and explain."

I like this.

The Conformist wrote:

A bold statement. Especially since the "Theory of Evolution" is just that, a Theory.

The statement that this is a theory is really key to how science works. Science doesn't declare things to be laws just because they want them to be. A good scientist is perfectly willing to say they don't know something.

The most powerful thing a human can do in their quest for knowledge is to acknowledge what they don't know.

Rallick wrote:

I like this.

I had great science teachers at the Jesuit high school I went to.

Anyone who wants to play the 'just a theory' card ought also note the obligation to play the 'just a story' card for whatever creation myths they happen to prefer as without falsifiability we can't even grant them 'just a hypothesis'.

krev82 wrote:

Anyone who wants to play the 'just a theory' card ought also note the obligation to play the 'just a story' card for whatever creation myths they happen to prefer as without falsifiability we can't even grant them 'just a hypothesis'.

Whatever, man. I have incontrovertible proof that the Great Green Arkleseizure sneezed out the universe.

Tanglebones wrote:
krev82 wrote:

Anyone who wants to play the 'just a theory' card ought also note the obligation to play the 'just a story' card for whatever creation myths they happen to prefer as without falsifiability we can't even grant them 'just a hypothesis'.

Whatever, man. I have incontrovertible proof that the Great Green Arkleseizure sneezed out the universe.

After eating Space Curry?

Hey, I'm trying to find some middle ground here.

MilkmanDanimal wrote:
Tanglebones wrote:
krev82 wrote:

Anyone who wants to play the 'just a theory' card ought also note the obligation to play the 'just a story' card for whatever creation myths they happen to prefer as without falsifiability we can't even grant them 'just a hypothesis'.

Whatever, man. I have incontrovertible proof that the Great Green Arkleseizure sneezed out the universe.

After eating Space Curry?

Hey, I'm trying to find some middle ground here.

If it came after eating space curry, perhaps we need to look at bodily functions a bit more south...

NathanialG wrote:
Demyx wrote:

Which is possibly why the discussion turned into the old religion vs. science debate so quickly. This has happened and been struck down before, time and time again.

I'm actually more concerned about some of the more recent changes to history curriculum, which are a lot harder to challenge effectively. You can easily say "Creationism shouldn't be in a science classroom because it's not science." It's harder to come up with a simple way to point out the problems with, say, deemphasizing Thomas Jefferson in a history class because you don't agree with his beliefs -- they're still teaching history, after all.

Start a thread!

I want in on that thread. History classes are subject to this because we go about how we teach history at the high-school levels all wrong; we try to teach it using the same methods we teach Math and Science, and it does not lend itself well to such methods.

Enough with this alternative science; when do we get alternative geography?

IMAGE(http://www.thehistoryblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Orlando-Ferguson-flat-earth-map.jpg)

Ooh, that would be an excellent thread, if we have anyone specially qualified to opine in that area. About all I know about history classes in school is that they are incredibly boring, and they really shouldn't be.

Just watched the video in the OP link. I confess that I was dumbfounded at the extent of the problem. You guys sure you aren't already living in a theocracy?

I've seen that before, I still love it. I especially love the little guys hanging onto the spherical, high-speed Earth in a gleeful misunderstanding of physics.

LarryC wrote:

You guys sure you aren't already living in a theocracy?

Less and less every year.

If you disprove a fundamental tenet of religion, you get stoned to death.

If you disprove a fundamentally held scientific theory, you get a Nobel Prize.

I'll admit to being someone who was raised in a fairly religious Catholic family. Since confirmation, I've done nothing but question my religion for the last 30 years. I ran the gauntlet, Sunday school, church every Sunday, church choir, alter boy....yet none of it convinced me that the tenants of my faith were grounded in anything other that story telling. Despite that, I still haven't abandoned my religion and I honestly can't explain why. Inexplicably, I'm forcing my kids to go through the same process because I feel that some form is important to their development. I honestly can't explain why.

That said, I've always wondered how people could hold a faith so dearly when there is absolutely no evidence of any kind that any of it is true. How insecure do you have to be in your beliefs to question things that have been proven and are without questions. To state that the earth is flat is now just as absurd as saying it's 5000 years old.

The thing that keeps coming back to me is that for religion to exist, it absolutely has to be taught to people. The same is not true of science. Science exists all around us whether we are aware of it or not. We may not understand it but it is undeniably there. If you were to wash up on a island in the middle of the pacific as a baby, you wouldn't grow up Catholic, Protestant, Jewish Muslim, Hindu etc. Unless someone actually taught you religion you'd have absolutely no knowledge of Jesus or Allah, God or Buddha. If there were a true religion, wouldn't you inherently know about it? Wouldn't it be born into your soul? Well it's not and unless someone teaches it to you, you'd never know about it. It's far more likely that you would wind up worshiping the earth, the stars or even that sun. After all, everything we are comes from the earth. She is our mother, our creator, our provider. Without her and her partner the sun there is no us.

To me, religion is a kind of comfort food. It makes us feel better when things are bad, it gives us hope and it gives us something to hold onto when we struggle with things we can't explain. It takes the sharp edges off the darkness of what we don't understand. Perhaps if both sides of the argument just admitted that we can't explain everything, we'd all be a lot happier.

Perhaps if both sides of the argument just admitted that we can't explain everything, we'd all be a lot happier.

Yet both sides believe they *can* explain everything. "Deus Vult" is a pretty comprehensive explanatory idea, for those who accept it. And it's much easier than actually figuring out the way the world works.

Well, I'll say one thing. I'm never going to hire anyone educated in the Tennessee school systems.

Bear wrote:

That said, I've always wondered how people could hold a faith so dearly when there is absolutely no evidence of any kind that any of it is true. How insecure do you have to be in your beliefs to question things that have been proven and are without questions. To state that the earth is flat is now just as absurd as saying it's 5000 years old.

I don't think it's just insecurity, though. Granted, for some, belief in evolution requires belief that the Bible is inaccurate in its depiction of a 7-day creation, which they can't accept because an inaccurate Bible would destroy their whole belief system. So, that is a part of it. There's a reason that so many Christians today now believe that the Bible's mention of seven "days" actually equates to millions of years - that belief allows them to reconcile the Biblical story of creation with science, so they don't have to choose between the two.

But in addition to that, I know from experience that many creationists have a preconception that the majority of scientists are atheists with an agenda. They think that evolution is being pushed so that people will falsely come to the conclusion that God is not necessary to creation. Evolution being tied to atheism was the worst thing that ever could have happened, if we wanted conservative Christians to not be distrustful of science.

Bear wrote:

To me, religion is a kind of comfort food. It makes us feel better when things are bad, it gives us hope and it gives us something to hold onto when we struggle with things we can't explain. It takes the sharp edges off the darkness of what we don't understand. Perhaps if both sides of the argument just admitted that we can't explain everything, we'd all be a lot happier.

I think both sides do admit that they can't explain everything, but the fundamental disconnect is how they react to not being able to explain anything.

Fundamentalist religions tend to say, "I can't explain why this happened, therefore God did it for his own reasons. It's unknowable."

Science tends to say, "I can't explain why this happened, so I should investigate it! Or, if I don't have the knowledge or technology to figure it out right now, maybe my descendents will be able to solve this problem."

Is there an example of something that science will definitely never be able to explain?

Demyx wrote:

Is there an example of something that science will definitely never be able to explain?

I'm really unequipped to answer that but it kind of depends on your definition of explain. This is a bad example, but you can explain gravity mathematically by modeling it and accurately predicting results and you can explain gravity by describing (and especially proving) what causes it to happen. I imagine there's nothing that can't be explained in the former sense but the latter I'm not sure.

SixteenBlue wrote:

I'm really unequipped to answer that but it kind of depends on your definition of explain. This is a bad example, but you can explain gravity mathematically by modeling it and accurately predicting results and you can explain gravity by describing (and especially proving) what causes it to happen. I imagine there's nothing that can't be explained in the former sense but the latter I'm not sure.

That's a good distinction to make. But even though something like what causes gravity has been a longstanding problem for physicists, I see no reason to say it will not be possible for them to figure out eventually.

Demyx wrote:
SixteenBlue wrote:

I'm really unequipped to answer that but it kind of depends on your definition of explain. This is a bad example, but you can explain gravity mathematically by modeling it and accurately predicting results and you can explain gravity by describing (and especially proving) what causes it to happen. I imagine there's nothing that can't be explained in the former sense but the latter I'm not sure.

That's a good distinction to make. But even though something like what causes gravity has been a longstanding problem for physicists, I see no reason to say it will not be possible for them to figure out eventually.

True, I definitely see no reason to say one way or the other.

Crispus wrote:

But in addition to that, I know from experience that many creationists have a preconception that the majority of scientists are atheists with an agenda. They think that evolution is being pushed so that people will falsely come to the conclusion that God is not necessary to creation.

I think it's the same thing as the notion that colleges and universities are trying to turn all their students into liberals. It just so happens that, often but not always, as education levels increase political outlooks change. Same thing here. Often but not always, as one's understanding of various sciences increase their understanding of religious teachings change. Unfortunately, instead of coming to the conclusion that deeper knowledge and understanding can change the way a person perceives an issue they simply state that the information that caused the person to question their previously held beliefs must be evil.

Growing up I was told I must never even read about other religions because it could cause me to question my Christian beliefs and that this was the slippery slope into Hell. Obviously, this same tack has been taken against evolution for years. If little Johnny is told that humans evolved over billions of years rather than being formed from clay by the hand of God, it may cause the child to start asking questions that people just can't answer. When dealing with matters of faith, questions are very dangerous.

Kehama wrote:

Growing up I was told I must never even read about other religions because it could cause me to question my Christian beliefs and that this was the slippery slope into Hell. Obviously, this same tack has been taken against evolution for years. If little Johnny is told that humans evolved over billions of years rather than being formed from clay by the hand of God, it may cause the child to start asking questions that people just can't answer. When dealing with matters of faith, questions are very dangerous.

So, this:

IMAGE(http://www.defaithed.com/system/files/u1/3419.jpg)

Holy crap! I seriously saw a church sign that said this just last weekend about 10 miles from my house. Of course there are also about 20 churches within 10 miles of my house so I see lots of odd signs.

Nevin73 wrote:

Well, I'll say one thing. I'm never going to hire anyone educated in the Tennessee school systems.

The right insisting that we churn out generations of functionally illiterate students also doesn't bode well for our competitiveness as a country moving forward. While China and India pumps out hundreds of thousands of scientists and engineers to grow their economy every year, we'll graduate people who'll basically be incapable of functioning in the 21st century.

OG_slinger wrote:
Nevin73 wrote:

Well, I'll say one thing. I'm never going to hire anyone educated in the Tennessee school systems.

The right insisting that we churn out generations of functionally illiterate students also doesn't bode well for our competitiveness as a country moving forward. While China and India pumps out hundreds of thousands of scientists and engineers to grow their economy every year, we'll graduate people who'll basically be incapable of functioning in the 21st century.

None of which matters, because "if we put God back at the center of our nation", we will automatically succeed.

BAM! Problem averted.

Clearly the Tennessee law is stupid and wrong. However, it should also be remembered that religion is not necessarily about truth-claims. Just like religious people are wrong when they describe science as the body of claims that scientists hold today, non-believers are also mis-informed when they believe that creed or dogma, the lists of things that adherents must believe, are all there is to religion.

There are a lot of religious people of many stripes who are willing to accept mystery and embrace humility about their truth-claims. Many who when faced with apparent contradictions between their scriptures and the latest science, don't require science to be wrong, but who accept that their g*d may have a meta-understanding that bridges any and all apparent contradictions.

Not all people who embrace science are positivists. Not all people who embrace religion are fundamentalists. Now, I don't think anyone here is directly making either claim, but the temptation is always there to define religion by its dumbest and most ass-backwards adherents. That is a lot easier than trying to understand religion in terms of its smartest and most reasonable adherents. There are a LOT of religious people out there who are willing to accept that g*d is not restricted to only acting in ways that we can understand.

Anyway, I guess what I'm saying is that the problem w/ the Tennessee law is not that it is Christian. The problem with the Tennessee law is that it is stupid. One can be biased against stupidity without being biased against religion. We can fight this kind of anti-intellectualism without making the very bad marketing decision of also appearing to be anti-religion.

Here is an argument line that I have used with ultra-religious acquaintances who push me on evolution, etc:

You accept that God is all-powerful.
You accept that God can do whatever he wants.
Could God not, in an effort to make people happy (because he is a kind and loving god) have put "fossils" and other scientific evidence when he created the earth to keep people who he knows won't believe in him happy, thus guiding their research and investigations towards an end where science discovers that there is, in fact a god?

Oso wrote:

Anyway, I guess what I'm saying is that the problem w/ the Tennessee law is not that it is Christian. The problem with the Tennessee law is that it is stupid. One can be biased against stupidity without being biased against religion. We can fight this kind of anti-intellectualism without making the very bad marketing decision of also appearing to be anti-religion.

Why should we be concerned about appearing anti-religion when religion has absolutely no problem *being* anti-intellectual? That's just bringing a knife to a gunfight.

And, yes, the problem is very much that the Tennessee law is Christian. As it was in Dover, PA, in Kansas, in Texas, and everywhere else these types of laws have been proposed or passed.