Tennessee makes it safe to teach "alternative" science.

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?

This is a form of Mysticism. Some Gnostic sects also had the idea that God deceives man, but they usually used it to argue that the world was evil while God was good.

OG_Slinger:

The principle is that you don't bring a gun to a gunfight, either. You bring an army.

OG_slinger wrote:

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.

So, it'd be better if it was an idiotic Muslim law?

Stupid is stupid, no matter what color. I'd rather avoid dumb laws. (It just so happens that most religiously motivated laws are stupid.)

Yes, but by proclaiming it stupid and ignoring the fact that it's for religious purposes, you give up a solid piece of ammunition against it. There's a higher law in this nation regarding the passage of laws for religious reasons. There is no such protection against the passage of laws for stupid reasons.

That's one reason that these laws have moved more and more to be represented as being passed for non-religious reasons. If they can make that claim and the courts believe them, they've already won.

The fact that it's specifically Christian fundamentalists doing it in this case isn't important—no religion ought to be treated differently from any other. But it is very important that it's being done for religiously motivated reasons.

OG_slinger wrote:

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.

This is where we tend to disagree. I'm not comfortable with allowing the the fundamentalists to frame the issue and set the rules of engagements. That is ceeding them too much power. Personally, I'm willing to risk losing the small battles in order to win the war. I'm not willing to compromise my larger principles in order to gain a temporary advantage.

In a democracy, the only long-term winning strategy is building an informed electorate. If we give up on the electorate's ability to make good decisions, a la Idiocracy, then we are giving up on democracy and civil engagement of ideas. The only way to make a better world, if we give up on people, is to enforce the will of the educated elite on the ignorant masses. It is to use the logic of "We're right, and if you disagree with us, you are too stupid to have your opinion count." I'm not willing to go there because I still believe in democracy and the rule of the electorate. (Color me idealist, but it is more important to be fair than it is to be right. I'm more willing to accept bad decisions that are decided democratically than I am to have good decisions enforced on an unwilling population.)

I'm not accusing you or anyone of going to that kind of extreme and I don't think we are quite to that point yet, but somewhere there is a tipping point. People have a right to choose to be religious. They don't have a right to enforce their religion or their religion's teachings on others. I just think we can fight stupid religion on the grounds that it is stupid and incompatible with the founding principles of American Constitutional Democracy without enabling their overactive martyr complex and persecute them for underlying beliefs.

Put another way, if we make the dumb-ass, hick, snake-handling, speaking in tongues, science-denying, charlatans out to the be the bad guys, we'll get the moderate main-stream and a good portion of the mega-church evangelicals on our side. They love to make fun of each other and everyone thinks the other guy is the extremist. On the other hand, if we make the normal person who goes to church once a month feel like they are the bad guy, we've made an enemy of 70% of the population. The first set of odds is a winning percentage, the second is not. Once you've got 70% of the population against you, it doesn't matter who is right and who is wrong.

Oso wrote:

Once you've got 70% of the population against you, it doesn't matter who is right and who is wrong.

Oso wrote:

I just think we can fight stupid religion on the grounds that it is stupid and incompatible with the founding principles of American Constitutional Democracy without enabling their overactive martyr complex and persecute them for underlying beliefs.

You aren't going to convince someone who thinks America was founded as a Christian country that teaching creationism in school is bad. Quite the opposite, they'll think it's a very good thing.

Also, the Christian persecution boat left the dock a long time ago. Haven't you heard? There's a war against Christianity going on.

Oso wrote:

On the other hand, if we make the normal person who goes to church once a month feel like they are the bad guy, we've made an enemy of 70% of the population. The first set of odds is a winning percentage, the second is not. Once you've got 70% of the population against you, it doesn't matter who is right and who is wrong.

So I have to walk on eggshells because reality clashes with some people's faith? I'm certainly not going to do that because those people fundamentally misunderstand the scientific process; continually confuse scientific theories with wild ass guesses; think that evolution explains the creation of life; and, a whole host of issues that stem from a combination of their scientific ignorance and extremist interpretations of Christianity.

Things like this need to be addressed head on and forcefully. The proof, the Constitution, and the legal precedents are on the side of science. Any attempt to push this crap in schools has to be slapped down as hard as possible until we reach the point that the right knows that it's futile to even bring it up.

The bulk of the faithful population don't have the extremist views of the people who push this legislation. They don't believe the Earth is 5,000 years old. They don't think that science is the tool of the devil. And, when push comes to shove, they'll likely value the quality of education their kids received over a questionable interpretation of their faith.

OG_slinger wrote:

The bulk of the faithful population don't have the extremist views of the people who push this legislation. They don't believe the Earth is 5,000 years old. They don't think that science is the tool of the devil. And, when push comes to shove, they'll likely value the quality of education their kids received over a questionable interpretation of their faith.

I buy this 100%, I think you are right. I'm just nervous that if we frame our activity as a war against religion, instead of a war against dumb-asses who falsely wrap themselves in the cross and the flag, we'll lose this group of reasonable believers. They are the swing vote.

But I've been wrong before and I'll be wrong again. I just think it is better to say "This is a dumb ass law that will both do real harm and weaken our economy by graduating non-competitive students in the global marketplace" than it is to say "This is a dumb ass law and example of how those damn Christians are trying to rule the world." (Even if I secretly fear they are doing exactly that.) I just want the reasonable believers on our side.

OG_slinger wrote:

Also, the Christian persecution boat left the dock a long time ago. Haven't you heard? There's a war against Christianity going on.

I think it was Tim Keller who wrote about how much Christianity seems to thrive as a minority religion, but has a hard time even figuring out what to do as a majority view.

Oso wrote:

I buy this 100%, I think you are right. I'm just nervous that if we frame our activity as a war against religion, instead of a war against dumb-asses who falsely wrap themselves in the cross and the flag, we'll lose this group of reasonable believers. They are the swing vote.

But I've been wrong before and I'll be wrong again. I just think it is better to say "This is a dumb ass law that will both do real harm and weaken our economy by graduating non-competitive students in the global marketplace" than it is to say "This is a dumb ass law and example of how those damn Christians are trying to rule the world." (Even if I secretly fear they are doing exactly that.) I just want the reasonable believers on our side.

I don't frame it as a war against religion. I frame it as a war against ignorance. That it mostly applies to religious folks isn't my problem, but rather a sign that said religion is largely incompatible with life in the 21st century.

I agree with you that the swing vote will respond well to "your creationism-education child will make a fantastic ditch-diggers for their Chinese overlords" message.

I also think that the point that Hyp raised is equally as powerful: it's patently un-American to make religion-based laws. That and it always needs to be shown that all these laws are merely religious beliefs disguised as something else. First it was creationism. Then it was intelligent design. Now it's "teach the controversy" or "alternative" view. It's all the same: religious extremists akin to the Taliban trying to legislate their beliefs.

OG_slinger wrote:

I don't frame it as a war against religion. I frame it as a war against ignorance. That it mostly applies to religious folks isn't my problem, but rather a sign that said religion is largely incompatible with life in the 21st century.

Agreed. I think we're just observing that there are quite a few intelligent religious people. It'd be fair for them to take offense if you're coming across as religion == ignorance. (Not saying that's what you're thinking, mind.)

For the idiots hiding behind a book because they can't think for themselves? I've got nothing _but_ scorn for those people. I just try to be careful not to catch intelligent, thoughtful believers in the splash.

OG_slinger wrote:

"your creationism-education child will make a fantastic ditch-diggers for their Chinese overlords"

Oh, that's GOOD. A much better paraphrase than the original. Yoink!

Actually, I have a question. How would they teach creationism? I feel like evolution is a topic that you could get a solid eight-week unit out of, but to my mind 'people were created by an all-powerful being' would only take up a single lesson.

Malor wrote:

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.

I have a Bachelor of History. Probably the only thing I am qualified to do is talk about history classes. So, yes, someone start a thread and I'll contribute.

El-Taco-the-Rogue wrote:

Actually, I have a question. How would they teach creationism? I feel like evolution is a topic that you could get a solid eight-week unit out of, but to my mind 'people were created by an all-powerful being' would only take up a single lesson.

Typically this seems to involve finding aspect of the Theory of Evolution or some other 'scientific idea', restating it in some incorrect fashion, mentioning a laundry list of true facts that they believe somehow show the principle to be incorrect, and then smiling smugly at the end when they truly believe they have somehow 'proven' creationism beyond a shadow of a doubt.

That's not even bad science at that point. It's bad logic, too. Next they'll want to teach bad math.

For a fun example (minus the smile), take a look at http://www.christiananswers.net/q-ed...

wordsmythe wrote:
OG_slinger wrote:

Also, the Christian persecution boat left the dock a long time ago. Haven't you heard? There's a war against Christianity going on.

I think it was Tim Keller who wrote about how much Christianity seems to thrive as a minority religion, but has a hard time even figuring out what to do as a majority view.

True that. I'd imagine it has something to do with the corrupting influence of power combined with certain people who view Christianity as only a stepladder to social and political influence.

El-Taco-the-Rogue wrote:

Actually, I have a question. How would they teach creationism? I feel like evolution is a topic that you could get a solid eight-week unit out of, but to my mind 'people were created by an all-powerful being' would only take up a single lesson.

Field trips to the Creation Museum and video "documentaries" from the Creation Institute.

And if they're smart, ditch-digging lessons and roadside construction flagging techniques.

El-Taco-the-Rogue wrote:

Actually, I have a question. How would they teach creationism? I feel like evolution is a topic that you could get a solid eight-week unit out of, but to my mind 'people were created by an all-powerful being' would only take up a single lesson.

Maybe a lecture or two on 'gap theory' (which certainly isn't scientifically sound and I'm pretty sure isn't even theologically sound, but the theologians in the house can correct me on that) or one of the other many attempts to reconcile the wording of various holy books with contemporary scientific knowledge.

*edits: phrasing.

The problem with 'gap theory' is that anytime you come up with a fossil in one of the gaps -- now you have TWO missing links.

If the bones in the ground are "1" and "3", then creationists will criticize you about the missing "2". Come up with "2", and then they'll demand "1.5" and "2.5".

Malor wrote:

The problem with 'gap theory' is that anytime you come up with a fossil in one of the gaps -- now you have TWO missing links.

If the bones in the ground are "1" and "3", then creationists will criticize you about the missing "2". Come up with "2", and then they'll demand "1.5" and "2.5".

Or the "that only proves micro-evolution, not macro-evolution" line. Gotta love that one.

EDIT:

That reminds me of the videos with Richard Dawkins discussing - among other things - fossil records with Wendy Wright. Go watch it if you have a strong stomach for insanity.

I'm sure they get plenty of lessons in banana eating too.

Or the "that only proves micro-evolution, not macro-evolution" line. Gotta love that one.

Hah, I never realized how contradictory those two ideas were -- if the change is too big, it's a gap. If the change is too small, it's not evolution anymore.

Wow I just Googled for that Richard Dawkins and Wendy Wright discussion. It's 7 parts on youtube. I almost made it 4 minutes into the first one before I had to say uncle.

I just honestly don't have the writing skills to say what I think about that. She is insane. I'm going to pick my jaw up off the floor and go do something else for a while, to take my mind of the extreme level of frustration I'm feeling right now.

How someone like that can manage to make it that far in life without accidentally dying, I'll never know.

Malor wrote:

The problem with 'gap theory' is that anytime you come up with a fossil in one of the gaps -- now you have TWO missing links.

If the bones in the ground are "1" and "3", then creationists will criticize you about the missing "2". Come up with "2", and then they'll demand "1.5" and "2.5".

That sounds like Zeno's Apologia.

The problem with "gap theory" is that it's based on a logical fallacy.

That hasn't stopped them before, I don't see why it'll stop them next time. They have a whole stable of arguments based on fallacies, misunderstandings (or misrepresentations) of specific scientific evidence, misunderstandings (or misrepresentations) of the theory of natural selection, and misunderstandings (or misrepresentations) of the scientific process in general. When you slap down one argument, they'll trot out another, and get to going in circles until either you give up or they find one argument with which you can't immediately identify the problem, then declare victory.

Argument by exhaustion. Fun fun fun.

Hypatian wrote:

That hasn't stopped them before, I don't see why it'll stop them next time. They have a whole stable of arguments based on fallacies, misunderstandings (or misrepresentations) of specific scientific evidence, misunderstandings (or misrepresentations) of the theory of natural selection, and misunderstandings (or misrepresentations) of the scientific process in general. When you slap down one argument, they'll trot out another, and get to going in circles until either you give up or they find one argument with which you can't immediately identify the problem, then declare victory.

Argument by exhaustion. Fun fun fun.

Like Whack-a-Mole, but way less fun.