Kentucky religious conservatives cannot wrap their head around theory of evolution

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Local politicians in the south are at it again, this time its Kentucky. Link to the article here.

As a science teacher here in Massachusetts, I both laugh and cry at this. I laugh because they wanted their education system to follow national standards (also called "Common core", link to proposed scientific standards cannot be found. It is in the draft stages, and I did not download them when they were released and the NSTA no longer has a link to them). So when the national standards included the theory of evolution, well the representatives got confused. Two choice quotes:

"The theory of evolution is a theory, and essentially the theory of evolution is not science — Darwin made it up," Waide said. "My objection is they should ensure whatever scientific material is being put forth as a standard should at least stand up to scientific method. Under the most rudimentary, basic scientific examination, the theory of evolution has never stood up to scientific scrutiny."

This representative's science teacher is very sad right now. We have 150 years of data that points to micro evolution at the least, and then we have that pesky fossil record and DNA evidence that suggests much more. Creationism needs no data to stand up to his "scientific method"?

"I would hope that creationism is presented as a theory in the classroom, in a science classroom, alongside evolution," Sen. David Givens, R-Greensburg, said Tuesday in an interview.

Ok, as long as I can put a big blank page with all the evidence collected on the theory of creationism that stands to be supported by the scientific method. This is where I start to cry.

Is it the "theory" word that is so confusing? Is it that they do not want to believe that we as a species may have evolved from something else instead of having his noodly appendages touching us and creating us (Yes I teach pastafarianism when I go over creationism with my biology students)? And if they want to attack evolution, can we attack atomic theory and the theory of gravity as well?

After reading this article, I can almost guarantee that evolution is going to be watered down in national standards. In the original draft it was mentioned how species evolve via microevolution, nothing on human evolution was mentioned. And then I continue to cry when I realize that our educational system will cater to this vocal group that does not want evolution to be mentioned in their darling's public school science class.

Mayfield wrote:
Is it the "theory" word that is so confusing?

Honestly, I think maybe that is part of it. It's...not misapplied, it's just...used so tritely? People refer to what they think happened at the end of Lost as "their theory," for example.

Another problem is that evolution is a very elegant concept, and is deceptively simple. You can sum it up in a couple of sentences. But to fully grasp it, there's quite a lot of material to go through. I have yet to see a creationist argument against evolution that doesn't betray a lack of understanding of the theory.

I used to think that it represented a misunderstanding of the theory, Django, but now I believe that it depends on a *deliberate* misrepresentation. No one arrives at Creationism by considering the evidence alone. If one believes that the evidence presented by the world has to match one's sky friend beliefs, and the evidence doesn't, then that argument has to rely on misrepresentations and confusion on the part of the listeners in order to pass along the message.

I no longer believe that Behe or Gish or the others are acting in good faith, but rather they are deliberately using the language of science to convey misunderstandings, to further a conclusion that is unrelated to a scientific theory in the first place.

"I think we are very committed to being able to take Kentucky students and put them on a report card beside students across the nation," Givens said. "We're simply saying to the ACT people we don't want what is a theory to be taught as a fact in such a way it may damage students' ability to do critical thinking."

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2012/08/14/2...

My brain broke. Critical thinking is the enemy of religion, the enemy of God. Martin Luther knew this 6 centuries ago. So religion has to adapt. If you belong to a religion that understand this, like say The Church of England, that is not an issue. But if your church or belief is that the sum total of necesary knowledge comes from a series of texts assembled 1,700 years ago(at the most recent) and over 5,000 years ago at the front end, I have nothing to say.

If your god is so easily assailed by black type on paper, it is no god worth worshiping. Any god that seeks to keep its people sick, ignorant, and dumb is a god we have a responsibility to kill. A god that stands to make the children of Texas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Kansas less prepared and less educated must be stopped.

"Theory", "Critical Thinking", they're just subjugating language at this point. The semantics of these terms have been thrown to the wolves (with the critical thinking).

The only part I can't decide is if it is an active part of the movement, or a passive effect of ignorance.

LilCodger wrote:
"Theory", "Critical Thinking", they're just subjugating language at this point. The semantics of these terms have been thrown to the wolves (with the critical thinking).

The only part I can't decide is if it is an active part of the movement, or a passive effect of ignorance.

It amazes me how 'Critical thinking' has been turned into this bad thing that is to be avoided in education.

ZaneRockfist wrote:
It amazes me how 'Critical thinking' has been turned into this bad thing that is to be avoided in education.

That's not it though. They insist that teaching evolution will somehow hurt "critical thinking". Only by being taught that creationism is an opposing theory can one properly learn "Critical Thinking".

They want it taught, essentially in reverse. It seems Orwellian to me.

ZaneRockfist wrote:

It amazes me how 'Critical thinking' has been turned into this bad thing that is to be avoided in education.

Because it makes students question teachers and parents. Of course, done properly, it'll also make students question themselves, their peer group and their actions.

1Dgaf wrote:
Because it makes students question teachers and parents.

As a parent or teacher, if you need "belief" in order for you to get obedience from your kids or students, then you are in trouble already.

You have to teach evolution, gravity, atomic theory, etc. in a way that allows for it to be wrong, or you cannot allow for changes to be applied to theories in the future. Sadly I believe many people want things to be a solid fact and not something that is malleable.

KingGorilla wrote:
"I think we are very committed to being able to take Kentucky students and put them on a report card beside students across the nation," Givens said. "We're simply saying to the ACT people we don't want what is a theory to be taught as a fact in such a way it may damage students' ability to do critical thinking."

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2012/08/14/2...

My brain broke. Critical thinking is the enemy of religion, the enemy of God. Martin Luther knew this 6 centuries ago. So religion has to adapt. If you belong to a religion that understand this, like say The Church of England, that is not an issue. But if your church or belief is that the sum total of necesary knowledge comes from a series of texts assembled 1,700 years ago(at the most recent) and over 5,000 years ago at the front end, I have nothing to say.

If your god is so easily assailed by black type on paper, it is no god worth worshiping. Any god that seeks to keep its people sick, ignorant, and dumb is a god we have a responsibility to kill. A god that stands to make the children of Texas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Kansas less prepared and less educated must be stopped.

We had a class on Genesis in our church about a year and a half ago. It was taught be a geologist, and he presented all the geological evidence of why the Earth was billions of years old. The class rocked a small portion of the folks that attended. We had a few people from some of the more fundamentalist denominations denounce us having the class. Most of the people that participated came out with a much greater appreciation of the creation, and an appreciation for the struggle that Christian scientists have being loyal to their beliefs and their professions. They go through a lot of ridicule from many different fronts (both in the scientific and religious communities), and yet they still find ways to honor both in their life.

If you start trying to interpret Genesis in a modern world, without consideration of who wrote it and for whom it was originally written, then you end up in the mess we are in now. There are some wonderful lessons to be learned from the Pentateuch. One of the first mistakes I find that most people make when reading it is forgetting the context and audience for whom it was originally written.

Mayfield wrote:

As a parent or teacher, if you need "belief" in order for you to get obedience from your kids or students, then you are in trouble already.

PResumably part of what gets children to listen to parents is innate. When children are able to question authority - I don't know at what age this is - isn't belief part of what's required to get them to follow instruction?

1Dgaf wrote:
Mayfield wrote:

As a parent or teacher, if you need "belief" in order for you to get obedience from your kids or students, then you are in trouble already.

PResumably part of what gets children to listen to parents is innate. When children are able to question authority - I don't know at what age this is - isn't belief part of what's required to get them to follow instruction?

Well, I was speaking of in order to get your children to listen you need your children to believe in the pecking order that God has intended for us. Not the belief that children have that their parents know what is best for them and love them.

I'm guessing what makes Creationists crazy is that evolution basically states that "yeah God made it but it wasn't quite right so it had to evolve so it could survive" The stuff God screwed up just died off.

sheared wrote:
If you start trying to interpret Genesis in a modern world, without consideration of who wrote it and for whom it was originally written, then you end up in the mess we are in now. There are some wonderful lessons to be learned from the Pentateuch. One of the first mistakes I find that most people make when reading it is forgetting the context and audience for whom it was originally written.

Excellent post!

1Dgaf wrote:
Mayfield wrote:

As a parent or teacher, if you need "belief" in order for you to get obedience from your kids or students, then you are in trouble already.

PResumably part of what gets children to listen to parents is innate. When children are able to question authority - I don't know at what age this is - isn't belief part of what's required to get them to follow instruction?

Say what you will about creationism and religion, but there is a point where science teachers say, "I could prove this to you if we had the time and you had the background, but we don't and you don't so just take my word for it, OK?" That ability to verify is the important part but to a student it's just a matter of listening to one adult over another.

Sheared

Forgive my ignorance, but was Genesis written by man or by God, through man? (I.e. divinely inspired and thus infallible?)

This Saturday Morning Breakfast Cartoon is relevant.


If you start trying to interpret Genesis in a modern world, without consideration of who wrote it and for whom it was originally written, then you end up in the mess we are in now. There are some wonderful lessons to be learned from the Pentateuch. One of the first mistakes I find that most people make when reading it is forgetting the context and audience for whom it was originally written.

You won't make many friends with this argument, though. You'll have people claim your sources are biased, or wrong, that you're not seeing the "big picture", that you're "reading it the wrong way", and so forth. There's always a reason that *their* interpretation is the only reasonable one. Heck, the very term for defense of the Bible is "Apologetics".

1Dgaf wrote:
ZaneRockfist wrote:

It amazes me how 'Critical thinking' has been turned into this bad thing that is to be avoided in education.

Because it makes students question teachers and parents. Of course, done properly, it'll also make students question themselves, their peer group and their actions.

Well, in this case Creationists really don't want children questioning their parents or their ministers and the like.

They only want them to question their science teachers because they strongly feel that science is part of secular humanism. And secular humanism is a terrible, terrible threat to them and their faith because it posits that people can be good, just, and kind without a god.

They think Creationism or whatever it's called these days is a clever way for them to ape science, get their religious beliefs enshrined in education policies, and, most importantly, make sure that their children never have to be exposed to information that might make them question their faith.

Again, they really don't want their kids asking questions because their fundamentalist belief system is build on a house of cards. To them, admitting the Earth is older than 5,000 years is essentially the same as admitting god doesn't exist.

django wrote:
Another problem is that evolution is a very elegant concept, and is deceptively simple. You can sum it up in a couple of sentences. But to fully grasp it, there's quite a lot of material to go through. I have yet to see a creationist argument against evolution that doesn't betray a lack of understanding of the theory.

I've run across a few people who have put in the time and work to misunderstand various scientific theories at a graduate school level. It's at a nice sweet spot for them, because even the people who are trained in physics or biology at that level aren't generally willing to put in the work to disprove their batsh*t crazy theories.

1Dgaf wrote:
Sheared

Forgive my ignorance, but was Genesis written by man or by God, through man? (I.e. divinely inspired and thus infallible?)

In church I was always taught that every book in the Bible was written by men but divinely inspired and thus infallible. Basically God held their hand while they wrote the books. They also liked to use the end of Revelations that talks about any additions or changes to this book being heretical as justification for literal interpretations of the Bible. That by contextualizing and viewing stories as fables or the like you were essentially "changing the Book". Mind you, I was raised in an extremely conservative church and I know not everyone viewed things this way.

This representative's science teacher is very sad right now. We have 150 years of data that points to micro evolution at the least, and then we have that pesky fossil record and DNA evidence that suggests much more. Creationism needs no data to stand up to his "scientific method"?

Theories are explanations for why evidence exists. We have an overwhelming body of evidence that creatures change over very long periods of time, becoming new creatures. Basically every single scientific discipline that looks into the deep past has produced data that actively falsifies Creationism as an explanation. Evolution is the only thing still standing.

But even if you don't agree that the fittest creatures survive, and that this selection process causes change in creatures, creatures still change. Anything we teach as science has to explain that evidence at least as well as evolution does. Creationism is demonstrably false; it does not belong in a science classroom.

Evolution might be wrong, but it fits the evidence extremely well. The sheer amount of that evidence is so vast that probably no single human could ever learn all of it. Probably no hundred humans could learn all of it. And new data, all consistent with these basic ideas, comes streaming in at a truly frightening rate, as we do genetic sequencing on more and more creatures.

This makes me glad atheism is on the rise in America. Due mostly to the newer generation I think as well.

From 1966:

IMAGE(http://img.timeinc.net/time/magazine/archive/covers/1966/1101660408_400.jpg)

plavonica wrote:
This makes me glad atheism is on the rise in America. Due mostly to the newer generation I think as well.

Bill Nye wrote:
And I say to the grownups, if you want to deny evolution and live in your world, in your world that’s completely inconsistent with everything we observe in the universe, that’s fine,” ‘But don’t make your kids do it, because we need them. We need scientifically literate voters and taxpayers for the future. We need people who can, we need engineers that can build stuff, solve problems.

http://blog.seattlepi.com/thebigblog...

I have reached a personal conclusion. Conservatives hate NASA because it inspires children to take up science. Curiosity is more of a threat to their god than the devil himself. I say go NASA go.

KingGorilla wrote:
I have reached a personal conclusion. Conservatives hate NASA because it inspires children to take up science. Curiosity is more of a threat to their god than the devil himself. I say go NASA go.

I have to hope that the number of "thinking" people will soon far outnumber the number of people who desire to be blinded by their religion. The world gets a little smaller everyday!

It's fine to worship but for f*ck sakes, don't strive to be ignorant.

Malor:


But even if you don't agree that the fittest creatures survive, and that this selection process causes change in creatures, creatures still change. Anything we teach as science has to explain that evidence at least as well as evolution does. Creationism is demonstrably false; it does not belong in a science classroom.

I strongly disagree, as a scientist. Theories are not right or wrong; neither true nor false. They either account for data, or they don't. Theories that no longer accurately account for all known data still belong in the science classroom, because they are products of the development of scientific knowledge. We still ought to teach theories of Lamarckian inheritance, and alternative theories of how the DNA was thought to look like.

Creationism doesn't belong in the science classroom for the simple reason that it is theology, not science. Anything that draws away from this simple fact strengthens the case for Creationists; because the simple fact that it's not science is all you need not to include it in a science curriculum. Anything else just muddles the discussion, which is exactly what they want.

When your hand is crap, you bluff.

Putting any kind of atheist (or other religious/anti-religious) content on any argument about Creationism plays into their hand. Then it makes the issue about religion and whether or not it should be expressed. It draws away from how much BS there is in their content.

In fact, every argument I've ever seen in favor of Creationism (and in fact, Creationism itself) is all about putting up a smokescreen over what it really is. Let's talk about critical thinking. Let's talk about religious freedom. Let's talk about Evolution. Let's talk about anything OTHER than the nature of the proposed material.

LarryC wrote:
I strongly disagree, as a scientist. Theories are not right or wrong; neither true nor false. They either account for data, or they don't.

Absolutely. The problem is that most Creationists are interested in precisely something being true or false. More to the point, they are predominately concerned with what is True (God, Jesus, Creation, etc), and Truth will always supersede fact in the mind of a Creationist. Not to put words in your mouth, but to insist on arguing "just the facts" is to incorrectly assume they are playing by the same rules. The smokescreen they put up is not to hide their insecurities and problems with their belief, it's about doing whatever they can to "win". Sad, but true. To win, we have to fight them on all fronts, from every angle, thoroughly and completely. It's gonna be political, it's gonna be personal, and it's gonna be emotional; this is the game they want to play, whether we want to or not.

Bear wrote:
KingGorilla wrote:
I have reached a personal conclusion. Conservatives hate NASA because it inspires children to take up science. Curiosity is more of a threat to their god than the devil himself. I say go NASA go.

I have to hope that the number of "thinking" people will soon far outnumber the number of people who desire to be blinded by their religion. The world gets a little smaller everyday!

It's fine to worship but for f*ck sakes, don't strive to be ignorant.

its not going to happen. The more education a person, and specifically a woman has, and the less likely they are to reproduce.

Nicholaas:

I agree that they're not throwing that smokescreen for themselves. Naturally not. They're throwing it to confuse the issue and to complicate the discussion. In chess, you do this when you're losing so as to throw a monkeywrench into the proceedings in order to snatch a chance to win.

The way to break through such obfuscation in chess is to force an equal exchange of material at every opportunity, simplifying the game to your inevitable win; if you should have the upper hand. I feel that the same strategy applies here. Engaging Creationists about religious freedom makes the conversation about religious freedom. Their case there is stronger because it isn't complete nonsense.

Devolving it back to the nature of what Creationism is at every turn hits them hardest where they're weakest.

But aren't you a creationist, LarryC? You've said on multiple occasions that you don't believe in evolution.

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