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Kansas Challenges Definition of Science 2759

Posted by Zonk
from the in-this-corner dept.
nysus writes "Anti-evolutionists have made classrooms in Kansas a key battleground in America's culture war. Again. The New York Times reports they are proposing to change the definition of science in Kansas: 'instead of "seeking natural explanations for what we observe around us," the new standards would describe it as a "continuing investigation that uses observation, hypothesis testing, measurement, experimentation, logical argument and theory building to lead to more adequate explanations of natural phenomena."'" From the article: "In the first of three daylong hearings being referred to here as a direct descendant of the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial in Tennessee, a parade of Ph.D.'s testified Thursday about the flaws they saw in mainstream science's explanation of the origins of life. It was one part biology lesson, one part political theater, and the biggest stage yet for the emerging movement known as intelligent design, which posits that life's complexity cannot be explained without a supernatural creator."
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Kansas Challenges Definition of Science

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  • by ackthpt (218170) * on Friday May 06, 2005 @11:36AM (#12451433) Homepage Journal
    Scientific Method:
    1. Observe shit happening.
    2. Form hypothesis of how shit happens.
    3. Use the hypothesis to predict the existence of other shit happening or predict measureably new happenings of shit.
    4. Perform experiments to test predictions by independent experimenters under similarly controlled conditions.

    New Kansas Method:

    1. Observe shit happening.
    2. Find example of similar shit happening is religious texts.
    3. Use the passages in religious texts to predict other shit happening or how much shit will happen next time under similar circumstances.
    4. Don't do it again!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 06, 2005 @11:36AM (#12451438)
    As long as its nowhere near a science class.
  • Idiots. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Friday May 06, 2005 @11:37AM (#12451445) Homepage Journal

    That entire school board should be fired. They're putting superstition before education. Mind you, when you have a well documented quote from George Bush saying "I think that, for example, on the issue of evolution, the verdict is still out on how God created the earth." I guess it sets the playing field for the kooks in Kansas to create a generation of drooling WalMart greeters...
  • *Sigh* (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bonker (243350) on Friday May 06, 2005 @11:37AM (#12451447)
    This makes me so angry, and more than a little sad.

    "We're all afraid to change, and willing to fight against it. We don't want to have to admit that there are things we don't or can't understand. We need to be able to say 'This is absolutely true' if we're going to sleep at night."
  • by gowen (141411) <gwowen@gmail.com> on Friday May 06, 2005 @11:38AM (#12451453) Homepage Journal
    The two definitions of science both seem reasonably sound. If anything, the second is closer to science as practised by actual scientists. And "Creation Science" doesn't fit either definition: not the first because it uses supernatural (rather than natural) explanations and not the second, because it simply does not allow for invalidation by evidence (implicit in the concept of hypothesis testing).
    a parade of Ph.D.'s testified Thursday
    I wonder how many of them were atheists... or biologists for that matter.
  • Confused (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AT-SkyWalker (610033) on Friday May 06, 2005 @11:38AM (#12451457)
    " the new standards would describe it as a "continuing investigation that uses observation, hypothesis testing, measurement, experimentation, logical argument and theory building to lead to more adequate explanations of natural phenomena."

    I'm a little confused. I don't see anything wrong with the definition above ! I beleive its more complete and doesn't seem to be pushing any creationism around !

  • by old_and_gray (837002) on Friday May 06, 2005 @11:39AM (#12451460)
    This must be taught in our schools: "Before time began there was no heaven, no earth and no space between. A vast dark ocean washed upon the shores of nothingness and licked the edges of night. A giant cobra floated on the waters. Asleep within its endless coils lay the Lord Vishnu. He was watched over by the mighty serpent. Everything was so peaceful and silent that Vishnu slept undisturbed by dreams or motion. From the depths a humming sound began to tremble, Om. It grew and spread, filling the emptiness and throbbing with energy. The night had ended. Vishnu awoke. As the dawn began to break, from Vishnu's navel grew a magnificent lotus flower. In the middle of the blossom sat Vishnu's servant, Brahma. He awaited the Lord's command. Vishnu spoke to his servant: 'It is time to begin.' Brahma bowed. Vishnu commanded: 'Create the world.' A wind swept up the waters. Vishnu and the serpent vanished. Brahma remained in the lotus flower, floating and tossing on the sea. He lifted up his arms and calmed the wind and the ocean. Then Brahma split the lotus flower into three. He stretched one part into the heavens. He made another part into the earth. With the third part of the flower he created the skies. The earth was bare. Brahma set to work. He created grass, flowers, trees and plants of all kinds. To these he gave feeling. Next he created the animals and the insects to live on the land. He made birds to fly in the air and many fish to swim in the sea. To all these creatures, he gave the senses of touch and smell. He gave them power to see, hear and move. The world was soon bristling with life and the air was filled with the sounds of Brahma's creation."
  • Re:Laughingstock (Score:5, Insightful)

    by putaro (235078) on Friday May 06, 2005 @11:39AM (#12451468) Journal
    Laugh all you like - these people are in control of a major nuclear arsenal.
  • The thing that I have never really understood about the anti-evolution Christian types is why it matters to them if their kids understand what the rest of the world is thinking? Its like the goal is absolute ignorance of everything not in the Bible. Nothing that I read in the Bible supports that viewpoint. Can anyone explain this?
  • by goldspider (445116) <ardrake79 @ g m a i l . com> on Friday May 06, 2005 @11:40AM (#12451472) Homepage
    "continuing investigation that uses observation, hypothesis testing, measurement, experimentation, logical argument and theory building to lead to more adequate explanations of natural phenomena."

    Maybe I need to check my eyes, but what about that definition even suggests a "supreme being"?

  • by jim_v2000 (818799) on Friday May 06, 2005 @11:40AM (#12451479)
    But if a great portion of hte population finds that the theory of evolution has too many holes in it for them to believe 100%, they have every right to pursue another explaination for life on earth that they find more plausible. They really do. And in the end, it really IS NOT hurting you if they do.
  • Tell me this... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dkf (304284) <donal.k.fellows@manchester.ac.uk> on Friday May 06, 2005 @11:41AM (#12451488) Homepage
    If everything of any significant complexity was deliberately created, who created the creator?
  • Re:You know... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 0x461FAB0BD7D2 (812236) on Friday May 06, 2005 @11:41AM (#12451490) Journal
    The problem is that the concept of a supernatural being begets far more questions than it answers.

    And given that there is no proof of such a being, apart from events and instances attributed to it, it is a matter of faith, and thus not of science.

    It is perfectly acceptable for people to believe God uses evolution as a tool. But it is not science.
  • by vivin (671928) <vivin DOT paliath AT gmail DOT com> on Friday May 06, 2005 @11:42AM (#12451495) Homepage Journal
    Hey, I have no problem with people having faith in their religion, or believing things according to faith. But that's all it is - faith.

    If you want to teach creationism, do it in religious studies class, not science. Creationism or whatever euphemism you want to use (Intelligent Design) has no scientific basis at all. So by all means, if you want to teach it go ahead, but please don't do it in a science class. If you are willing to consider it as science, then I propose we should teach creation myths of every single culture in science class. I mean seriously... in this day and age it surprises me that people try to push creationism as a science.

    Anyway, here is a good site that includes rebuttals to a lot of creationist arguments:

    http://www.lhup.edu/~dsimanek/cefac.htm [lhup.edu]
  • Intelligent Design (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Credne (228909) on Friday May 06, 2005 @11:43AM (#12451505)
    My biggest complaint with Intelligent Design and other creationist arguments is that it doesn't really answer the question of origin. It just moves it.
    If we decide a supernatural power created us and everything we see, where did the supernatural power come from? We haven't answered the question of how the universe came to exist.
  • by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Friday May 06, 2005 @11:43AM (#12451513) Homepage Journal

    why it matters to them if their kids understand what the rest of the world is thinking?

    It's quite simple: if the children are exposed to what the rest of the world is thinking then common sense may help them negate the dogma their parents drilled into them.

    Teaching religion is disgusting child abuse. It's selfish and hobbles a young mind. There's no reason kids should live in fear that they're being watched 24*7.
  • And yet... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sac13 (870194) on Friday May 06, 2005 @11:44AM (#12451514)
    ...another argument against government school in the US.
  • Agree (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SuperKendall (25149) * on Friday May 06, 2005 @11:44AM (#12451533)
    Who cares what the intent is of the group proposing the change. If the reality is a wording that is clearer and more complete, is that not better?

    I have yet to see arguments against the new wording as compared to the old. It seems that if you mention religion some people just fly off the handle and rational thought goes out the window, from otherwise logical folk.

    Judge the wording on the merits and don't dismiss it out of hand.
  • Philosophy (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mattmentecky (799199) on Friday May 06, 2005 @11:45AM (#12451536)
    Wouldnt it be a lot better, for "intelligent design' to be part of a Philosophy class? I.D. doesn't hold up to modern day biological science. The crux of it from what I gather (boiled down and very generic) is that the odds of the all in compassing awesomeness that is mankind just seems very unlikely to occur naturally.
    To which biologists and evolutionists basically reply "Yeah, holy shit it is very unlikely, and it is still very amazing, but here are the truckloads of scientific evidence that does infact support evolution, which makes the awesomeness that is mankind all the more amazing."

    I.D. is a pseudo-science and should be adapted to be taught in a Philisophy (itself a pseduo science) class. It seems to me that everyone can be categorized into three types:
    Those who believe that, regardless of what means lead to humans, there had to be some basic starting point and creation of basic matter that makes us up and the universe.

    Those who believe that basic matter always existed, that we as humans have a hard time of believing in a concept of "no begining", that matter "always existed".

    And of course, there is the last group of people that don't give a shit really ;)
    But seriously, shouldnt the debate be philosophical, as the debate I have laid out, truly (I hope can be agreed upon by all parties) can never be really 'solved'?
  • by isomeme (177414) <cdberry@gmail.com> on Friday May 06, 2005 @11:45AM (#12451540) Homepage Journal
    I promise to give Intelligent Design my full attention when one of its supporters can explain to me where the purported designer came from. If it was created by a meta-designer, where did *that* come from?

    Show me how you can call ID an "explanation" rather than an exercise in infinite logical regression, and I'll consider it.
  • I like it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rm999 (775449) on Friday May 06, 2005 @11:45AM (#12451543)
    I am very anti-creationist, but I actually like their definition more. It recognizies that there isn't always a "natural" answer to the problems that science faces given the current information. In fact, looking for natural answers can be very unscientific.

    For example, the astronomers of yore tried to explain the planet movements with natural answers that were not based on good scientific methods. Same with the people who wrote the Bible. The new definition actually outlines the methods that are essential to science, such as experimentation and theories.
  • by bcrowell (177657) on Friday May 06, 2005 @11:46AM (#12451556) Homepage
    The real problem here is the effective government monopoly on education. The problem is that if you let a democratic government control some aspect of your life, then you get that aspect of your life controlled in a way that reflects the biases of the local tribe. If the natives in your area believe that the earth is flat, they'll vote for flat-earth candidates.

    The big issue in U.S. science education is not evolution anyway, it's the lack of competent science teachers. K-12 teaching is simply not an attractive career to most people who have good math and science training, partly because of the low pay.

  • Re:You know... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gowen (141411) <gwowen@gmail.com> on Friday May 06, 2005 @11:48AM (#12451578) Homepage Journal
    The problem is that the concept of a supernatural being begets far more questions than it answers
    Damn right. The most important being "If anything complex requires a creator (the fundamental axiom pf Intelligent Design), it seems logical that such a creator would be need to be complex Himself (or Herself). So, who designed the creator?"
  • by psycho8me (711330) on Friday May 06, 2005 @11:48AM (#12451587) Journal
    It doesn't matter what the majority of people believe. That doesn't make it science.
  • by cyber0ne (640846) on Friday May 06, 2005 @11:49AM (#12451611) Homepage
    Precisely my argument on this whole thing.

    Teaching religion and the doctrines therein is fine. There's nothing wrong with that. But teach it in a "religion" class. I went to a Catholic elementary school and this is exactly what they did. Science class taught science, religion class taught religion.

    People shouldn't try to teach religion in a science class, just as they shouldn't try to teach math in an english class, just as they shouldn't try to teach gym during lunch. Have all the subjects you want, but don't mix them.
  • Sneaky!!! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by UncleGizmo (462001) on Friday May 06, 2005 @11:50AM (#12451612) Homepage
    ...the crux of the new definition is in just two words: "logical argument".

    Essentially, if they can slip that in to the definition, they will be able to use inductive reasoning and call it science. Which will move the conversation from what can be observed and and tested to what we can posit through logic proofs. Which will then absolutely requre Intelligent Design to be considered pure science.

    Call me crazy, but I prefer to keep science and philosophy in separate textbooks.
  • Re:Confused (Score:5, Insightful)

    by richieb (3277) <richieb@NosPaM.gmail.com> on Friday May 06, 2005 @11:50AM (#12451615) Homepage Journal
    more adequate explanations of natural phenomena.

    This is instead of natural explanation. How do you define "adequate"? Evolution by natural selection will be deemed "inadequate" and ID will take it's place.

  • Even as they described their own questioning of evolution as triggered by religious conversion, the experts testifying Thursday avoided mention of a divine creator, instead painting their position as simply one of open-mindedness, arguing that Darwinism had become a dangerous dogma.

    "There is no science without criticism," said Charles Thaxton, a chemist and co-author of the 1984 book "The Mystery of Life's Origin: Reassessing Current Theories."

    "Any science that weathers the criticism and survives is a better theory for it," Mr. Thaxton said.


    There may be no science without criticism, but by "criticism" we must mean "constructive analysis of the theory in question, based on falsifiable alternate interpretation of the available evidence". The criticism being levelled in places like Kansas is not this kind - it is an assault on scientific rationalism by the forces of dogmatic religion and ignorance, using deceit, subterfuge and manipulation of the political process.

    The ultimate goal of the people fighting for "intelligent design" to be taught in schools is nothing less than the extermination of genuine evolutionary science, to be replaced by comforting lies based solely on Christian scripture.
  • by Transcendent (204992) on Friday May 06, 2005 @11:51AM (#12451628)
    ... the emerging movement known as intelligent design, which posits that life's complexity cannot be explained without a supernatural creator

    Yet for some reason we fall back to this "theory" because we don't understand what's going on? Ridiculous...

    Just because we don't fully understand an aspect of nature yet doesn't mean that a natural process is so complex and impossible that a higher power had to make it... it only means that we are flawed and must wait until we fully grasp what is going on.

    I'm sick of people filling in the blanks with "god did it!" without thinking "well... maybe we just need to study it more." Before you call me atheist, realize that I am a roman catholic, yet I can easily conceive how our life came to be after the big bang (let's not debate that right now) without any nudge from a higher power.

    You are quick to argue that life could not have been created in nature, but forget the fact that God created nature itself.
  • Re:Idiots. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Friday May 06, 2005 @11:51AM (#12451642) Homepage Journal

    That's not how it works. You don't prove a negative, you present evidence for a positive. You say there's a god or gods making all this cool stuff, present your case.

    In the meantime, here's The God FAQ [400monkeys.com]

  • by RichMan (8097) on Friday May 06, 2005 @11:52AM (#12451646)
    There is no scientific controversy.

    They are free to teach their religious interpretation at their religious institutions or in classes on comparitive religion not in science class.

    Personally I like the turtles all the way down theory.

    If you want the views to coexist do you also argue for the Catholic pre-Copernicus view of the universe to be taught? That is equally valid in view of the scientific evidence as the intelligent designer.

  • A Word to the Wise (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HerbieTMac (17830) <5excelroa001@sneakemail.com> on Friday May 06, 2005 @11:52AM (#12451657)
    Remember kids, if you can't currently explain a discrepancy, you need to stop looking and ascribe the phenomenon to supernatural powers. Definitely don't question the supernatural because it's super. See? It's right there in the name. You can't hope to understand it so worship it instead.

    Undoubtedly someone will notice that this comment might equally well apply to those who "worship" Darwinism. That would be true. The key difference is, of course, that Darwinism can be understood and is continually being updated to reflect what we observe. Therein lies the key difference: we can update Darwinism to make it more correct. It's awful hard to update received wisdom.

    Thankfully, Kansas and Ohio are leading the charge against the atheistic forces of E-Ville that seek to make critical thinkers out of our population. I'm sure that they will also "balance" their curricula to include classes that critically analyze received wisdom.

  • I'll probably get flamed for this, called a troll, and given Bad Karma again, but so be it.

    I want my children to learn BOTH ideas. Yes...both. I am trying to educate them, and they need to understand both ways of thinking. I was taught both options, and I went with what worked for me. More and more you're seeing "Young Earth" people (Christians who don't believe in the validity of science) saying all sorts of things about how the earth is NOT billions of years old. I have NO problem with science when they say it is. Why? Because it doesn't matter.

    Christianity and Science CAN mutually exist, and exist quite nicely. Let the kids learn both ideas, and let them figure out for themselves which one works for them. The key is understanding. If they UNDERSTAND that there is more than one idea, that makes them think, and that is the real goal.
  • Re:You know... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Your_Mom (94238) <slashdot.innismir@net> on Friday May 06, 2005 @11:53AM (#12451669) Homepage
    And given that there is no proof of such a being...


    But as Sagan said himself, "Absence of evidence is not evidence of abscence".

    And there is no proof that a higher power /doesn't/ exist, now is there? :)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 06, 2005 @11:53AM (#12451675)
    If you're going to let them do this, are you going to let them call it "Science"?

    And remember, this is public education: the children of Kansas won't be able to get into college to study biology with this kind of a background.
  • by emidln (806452) <adam4300@kettering.edu> on Friday May 06, 2005 @11:53AM (#12451676) Homepage
    Too bad I can't use my mod points on the posted stories. The entire posting reeks of -1, Flamebait.
  • Re:You know... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Durandal64 (658649) on Friday May 06, 2005 @11:54AM (#12451680)
    Really: what's wrong with seeing the Universe and the wonderful complexity of everything from the scale of galaxies to the scale of atoms - or smaller - and our very lives as something more than the sum of its parts?
    Nothing, but forcing this "intelligent design" garbage into school curriculums is an affront to the scientific method. By definition, intelligent design appeals to ignorance and supernatural mechanisms. We have a perfectly robust theory already; intelligent design adds extra terms on to that theory (the so-called "intelligent designer") which do not add to its predictive capacity at all. Why don't these people petition that we should teach that gravity is "too complex and marvelous" to be explained be the general theory of relativity, so we should add a term into the theory saying that God's Magic Hand comes out of the Earth and pulls objects down?

    Beyond that, several elements of the human design simply don't support the hypothesis that a conscious entity engineered us. Evolutionary theory explains several useless features left over from our human ancestors (like the appendix and tailbone) and several glaring weaknesses in our anatomy. Tell me, what intelligent designer would design us so that we used the same tube for both respiration and eating, thus creating a potential choking hazard? That's pure idiocy, not intelligence. Humans like to think we're the cock of the walk and that our bodies are oh-so-perfect, but from an engineering perspective, that viewpoint doesn't hold water. Yes, Kristen Kreuk is a marvelous specimen of beauty, but she can still choke to death because of traits inherited from her evolutionary ancestors.

    That's the flaw of intelligent design. It seeks to combine poetic (and frankly egotistical) views of the human body with a scientific view of the universe. Sorry, it just doesn't work that way. Science is based on observed facts and natural mechanisms to explain those facts. To introduce supernatural or undefined mechanisms into an explanation is blatantly unscientific.
  • sigh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by supernova87a (532540) <kepler1 AT hotmail DOT com> on Friday May 06, 2005 @11:54AM (#12451681)
    It's a little frustrating to realize, but I guess the cost of maintaining an intelligent, civilized society is a constant battle against ignorance. It is important that ordinary people speak out against attempts to change the science curriculum through political processes that are not subject to oversight (ie. inserting their own agendas into science curriculums without checks or balances).

    I heard an excellent talk about the strategies of anti-evolutionists from the director of the center for science education recently. Two of her major points were that: (1)creationists seek to circumvent the usual curriculum review process and insert themselves directly into school board decisions politically, because they have come to realize that on careful examination, their ideas are untenable; and (2) the fundamental misunderstanding about the words behind the debate.

    More specifically, in order for an idea to become incorporated in to a scientific education curriculum, it first must be proposed, examined by scientists, published, reviewed, tested for flaws and counterexamples, and then it becomes accepted as a theory (which by the way, means an idea that ties together consistently all aspects of the evidence, NOT just a "theory", or guess). Creationists, or intelligent design advocates, simply come up with an idea, and go right to the school board. Where are the checks and balances? The testing? The oversight?

    And secondly, about the language. Normal people commonly feel that at the top of the hierarchy of importance are Facts. To them, facts are facts, immutable. You can't debate fact, as in "evolution is not a fact, so it doesn't occur." Observations are next, things that you see with your own eyes. And Theories? Theories are at the bottom of the scale, almost comparable to hopeful guesses. This is in part the fault of the language, that "theory" has come to mean "I, crackpot, have a theory about that."

    But in fact, in science, Theory is at the top of the scale -- an idea that has consistently shown to uphold all the observations, and has been tested. At the bottom is just the opposite from what is commonly believed -- facts. Facts are things that you see every day, and carry no unifying meaning in themselves.

    If we are to succeed in educating the population about the process of science, and *especially* why it is valuable to us a country, we need to get involved in the debate about the language and politics. Other countries, who don't have the luxury to squander valuable resources, are beginning to capture and exploit the wonders of science much more than we are -- and it is showing.
  • Good point. But it's only the certain christian groups in the United States and certain muslim groups in Turkey that form the bulk of the creationist movement.

    The movement is strongest only in these two countries. Check out Harun Yahya's website [harunyahya.com] and for a more balanced view, check him out in wikipedia [wikipedia.org]. His real name is Adnan Oktar, and the man writes a lot of books trashing evolution and other religions as well. He claims to have written all his books, but I doubt it.

    One the stupidest arguments I've heard against creationism is that "Hitler used natural selection and darwinism to justify the holocaust, therefore anyone who believes in Evolution is a Nazi" or something stupid to that effect. Evolution is not a moral doctrine and doesn't profess to be so. Anyone who tries to make it so, is boneheaded. People have done some awful things in the name of Christianity. So is it ok to go ahead and label all Christians as Bad People?

    Also, creationists always talk about these wonderful books that they have that disprove evolution. Right. That's because Creationists write books for creationists. None of these books will ever pass a scientific peer review, because they're all trash.

    I consider myself a somewhat religious person, and I do believe in God. But I also believe that religion has NO PLACE in the school system. We need to come down on morons who try to force religion and that too THEIR religion down the throats of others, and who also have the gall to proclaim it as science.
  • by pintpusher (854001) on Friday May 06, 2005 @11:54AM (#12451692) Journal
    This really get me too. If what you believe is TRUTH then it doesn't matter what else you study. In fact, further study would only bring one back around to the TRUTH. I think its a matter of not being secure in your knowledge of truth. Many of us who "believe" in evolution are secure in that belief and can therefore study and learn whatever we want without fear. I am happy to study many religions and their histories and beliefs because I KNOW what I believe and am happy with that. The rest of it only expands my understanding of the world.

    If, on the other hand, you are not truly secure in your beliefs, but feel that you NEED to believe what you are told to, then you better not study something else. It could only serve to further weaken you faith.

    what a load of crap.
  • Its like the goal is absolute ignorance of everything not in the Bible. Nothing that I read in the Bible supports that viewpoint. Can anyone explain this?

    One word: Fanatism.

    Fanatics brainwash their followers, but telling them lies isn't enough. They have to change their whole MINDSET. "Believe or be damned". This, with its implications: "Teach what I told you or be damned". In the end, they're just sputtering the lies that their human leaders have invented.

    What does that have to do with the Bible? NOTHING! They're just using the bible as an excuse to justify their twisted beliefs. They've forgotten that the Bible was written by MEN (inspired or not, that's beyond our scope), and must remember that. And more important, non-scientist men.

    We've reached an era where superstition and fanatism have surpassed science and reason. To put it simply, fanatics can't accept science because that would mean their entire belief system is WRONG (cognitive dissonance anyone?).

    Ironically, a passage of Bible speaks about people shutting their eyes and covering their ears so they wouldn't listen to God's Truth. Yes, pretty ironic.
  • by bfizzle (836992) on Friday May 06, 2005 @11:55AM (#12451703)
    Simple, the power struggle between the churches.

    You have to tell your patrons that your religion is the absolute truth and that everyone is wrong. If you don't they will start to wonder about other religions and might stop going to your church because some other religion is saying they are the absolute truth. It doesn't take much to make that expand in to science.

    You must not forget most religions are run like businesses. The more customers the more likely they will have money to blow on events and buildings to get more customers.
  • In it's ill-considered fight against science.

    Which is a shame.

    There are things that science will never be able to teach us, that desperately need to be taught. Things religion could, if it chose to stop wasting time arguing over whether speciation will occur given no outside (read: supernatural) influences.

    Science will never present us with a peer-reviewed study proving once and for all that you should be good to your fellow man, and treat him like a brother. Particle accelerator runs will never hint that we all have it within us to put an end to petty bickering, violence, and even earth-shattering wars.

    Will the next economic theory show once and for all, that there is so much more to be gained if every child went to bed without hunger? That great things could happen if we ignored greed and lived lives unblinded by mindless pursuit of wealth?

    Every time a biblethumper gets pissy about "larnin' evomoluzhun in ar skools" they've missed their mark so completely, I don't know whether to chuckle or cry.
  • by UncleGizmo (462001) on Friday May 06, 2005 @11:55AM (#12451712) Homepage
    ...check your eyes! It's in the fine print! "Logical Argument" gets you there. Now all of a sudden, the standard of observable evidence is not absolutely necessary. You can take existing scientific observations, and use logical arguments to 'prove' that there is a supreme being.

    Logical arguments and inductive reasoning are what can get you to a hypothesis, but then you've got to be able to measure, replicate, and explain your results.

    there's your loophole.
  • by druxton (166270) on Friday May 06, 2005 @11:56AM (#12451716)
    Alice Walker in books like A Handmaid's Tale

    That would be The Handmaid's tale and it's by Margaret Atwood (a fellow Canadian, by the way), not Alice Walker.

  • by paiute (550198) on Friday May 06, 2005 @11:58AM (#12451774)
    Here is the bottom line: Parents want to spend eternity in Heaven sobbing on the shoulder of Jesus. They want their children to be there, too. If the children are taught evolution, then their minds may be tainted and exposed to sin. Their souls are at risk. They might end up in the fires of Hell. When it comes right down to it, any loving Christian parent should be willing to silence this threat to their loved ones' salvation. No price is too dear to pay in this temporary existence to gain eternal bliss.

    You think I'm kidding?

  • by ScentCone (795499) on Friday May 06, 2005 @11:59AM (#12451794)
    The two definitions of science both seem reasonably sound

    I don't know, though. Semantics is an issue. The "continuing investigation" makes it sound as though there simply can never be any facts discovered. Whereas the previous "seeking explanations" posits that there are explanations, and that science's job is to find them. It's subtle, but that's an important distinction.
  • Re:You know... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by GoofyBoy (44399) on Friday May 06, 2005 @11:59AM (#12451795) Journal
    >And given that there is no proof of such a being, apart from events and instances attributed to it, it is a matter of faith, and thus not of science.

    In the most absolute sense, nothing is proveable and everything relies on faith. How do I know that birds can fly? Because I see them flying? How can I believe what I am seeing is real? (Brains-in-the-jar, optical illusions, effects of various recreational drugs)

    I talked to an ex-science teacher and his whole argument came down to "Occam's Razor". But how is this different from having your whole argument coming down to believing that "A God exists"? They both something that you are guiding your life on, either of which you really can't prove is correct/true/THE TRUTH.
  • Re:Tell me this... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 0x461FAB0BD7D2 (812236) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:00PM (#12451819) Journal
    You're missing the point. You think Intelligent Design is logical.
  • Re:You know... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by LoadStar (532607) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:01PM (#12451874)
    Damn right. The most important being "If anything complex requires a creator (the fundamental axiom pf Intelligent Design), it seems logical that such a creator would be need to be complex Himself (or Herself). So, who designed the creator?"

    So what's the alternative? Either you argue for an eternal Creator that set everything in motion - or you argue for an eternal Universe that just happened. Either way, you're arguing for an eternal _something_ that set the universe in motion, both of which take no small amount of faith. Personally, I'd rather put my faith in the evidence we do have in a Creator, than putting my faith in a still mysterious _something_ that caused the universe to do the whole big *foom* thing.

  • by mithras (126772) <bamoon.gmail@com> on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:01PM (#12451876) Homepage
    Sorry, I have to wade in here.

    If there is a "supernatural" explanation, then there is, by definition no possible way to explain it beyond, "hey, it's supernatural".

    And my argument stems from the basic definition of the word [webster.com].
    1 : of or relating to an order of existence beyond the visible observable universe; especially : of or relating to God or a god, demigod, spirit, or devil

    2 a : departing from what is usual or normal especially so as to appear to transcend the laws of nature b : attributed to an invisible agent (as a ghost or spirit)
  • by MyLongNickName (822545) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:02PM (#12451881) Journal
    Current
    "seeking natural explanations for what we observe around us,"

    Proposed
    continuing investigation that uses observation, hypothesis testing, measurement, experimentation, logical argument and theory building to lead to more adequate explanations of natural phenomena

    Yup overly complicated. Science is simply coming up with an explanation for what we see around us. It has nothing to do with testing our stories. If enough people believe the story being told, it is science.

    Therefore, Genesis is science.

    Good enough for me.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:02PM (#12451884)
    They are winning in AMERICA.

    The rest of the world will just laugh at the morons, and go on learning about science and technology.

    This is just the beginning of the end for the American Empire. Considering the two emerging superpowers of China and India are in a race to advance technologically and scientifically, there is absolutely no way America will manage to pollute the rest of the world with their Dark Ages shift.

    Don't worry - America is becoming irrelevant to the world, and in another 100 years it will enjoy a lovely equal status as Africa and other 3rd-world countries.
  • Re:You know... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by scotch (102596) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:02PM (#12451893) Homepage
    Let me sum up the religious argument: Assumption: god exists
    Therefore: god exists

    QED!

  • by digidave (259925) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:04PM (#12451920)
    The way we're going, we may soon see a knowledge divide that makes the digital divide irrelevant. Evolution and other "controversial" science is just the beginning.

    Adults from different regions will be separated by a giant chasm between their intellect as most are taught by a progressive, science-friendly system (or as much as the education system can be) while the remainder are led to believe in nonscience "theories" that do much more to please religious leaders and believers than to satisfy an iota of truth.

    The knowledge divide will be noticable in geographic quantities as large swarms of the populace have been completely left behind. People from Kansas will have no hope of competing in any meaningful way with people from California, for instance. There will be a third vs. first world mentality and it will be what tears us apart.
  • Re:I like it (Score:4, Insightful)

    by geoffspear (692508) * on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:04PM (#12451927) Homepage
    What we should be asking is why they're trying to define science in the first place.

    Are they teaching science, or are they teaching philosophy? Quite frankly, I'd love to see philosophy of science taught in every high school in the country, but it's never going to happen. We're talking about a country where "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" is considered a bad title because no one wants to hear about philosophers.

    Yes, we should teach kids how science works and how to critically evaluate scientific theories. But not without background, as a way to say that evolution is "just" a theory, and that therefore any other theory has equal status. If you suggested that the theory of phlogiston had equal standing with the theory that oxygen is involved in combustion, no one would take you seriously.

  • Re:You know... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Seumas (6865) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:05PM (#12451933)
    Yeah, I want the same group that says "god hates fags", "kill abortion doctors" and moves child raping priests around like a shell-game to be the ones to define "science".
  • by Kanon (152815) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:06PM (#12451957)
    I don't buy that. The existence of evolution does not preclude an "Intelligent designer". You can actually explain anything by act of god. The fundies might actually be correct in everything they say.

    But it's not science. It's the modern equivalent of a caveman thinking a forest fire is the "Great hot god".

    Certain segments of the population are trying to use religion dressed up (badly) as science in an attempt to keep people ignorant and promote their own religious views. In most cases I'd have to say the bottom line is money. It normally is.
  • by Buzz_Litebeer (539463) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:08PM (#12451990) Journal
    The new design removes testing of the hypothesis and replaces it with logical argument.

    This means that philosphy can be substituted for science.

    IE, if I can make a LOGICAL argument that God exists, then its as good as a tested argument that something else exists.

    It is NOT science.

    Science requires an entire scientific method to test things, and come to conclusions. Intelligent design does not fit under that. intelligent design is essentially giving up at some point and throwing your hands in the air and going "too complicated, cant be understood"

    its an antithesis of science.

    • "continuing investigation that uses observation, hypothesis testing, measurement, experimentation, logical argument and theory building to lead to more adequate explanations of natural phenomena."

      Maybe I need to check my eyes, but what about that definition even suggests a "supreme being"?

    The problem is that they have injected many words certainly with ulterior motives. I'm a lawyer and "trust me", the longer you make a sentence, the more things you can make it mean. It provides no help in defining what "lead to more adequate explanations of natural phonomena" means. And in the context, it is pretty clear that this phrase at least will be used to posit explanations that fit with certain individuals' religious views. I'm sure "logical argument" means questioning scientists along the lines of "prove to me god doesn't exist, and if you can't, he must" type questions. The previous article on creationists' 10 questions for biologists is a good example. "Theory building" will certainly be used in the non-scientific meaning of the word, i.e., theory=definitely false.

    The problem with the definition is that it's wiggley -- it can easily be molded to fit any number of views. Beware the lawmaker's use of language.
  • by johnjay (230559) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:10PM (#12452021)
    The article says that the motivation for the redefinition is to open the door for equality of consideration in biology class between the theory of evolution and the belief of intelligent design.

    Maybe that's the intention of the politicians (maybe it's the slant of the NYTimes), but I don't think that will be the result of enacting this new definition. I like the new definition better.

    It seems to me that "hypothesis testing, measurement, experimentation" can't be done on a 'belief', but only a 'theory', so that this would exclude intelligent design from being taught in a science class.

    I'm not sure how this language would effect lawsuits for/against the teaching of intelligent design, but in my opinion it's a better definition. It's weird, if this really is an 'intelligent design' campaign it seems like a successful change would exclude i.d. from the classroom. Maybe I don't understand how people support i.d....
  • Score 4 funny??? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by deft (253558) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:10PM (#12452036) Homepage
    As I look at the parent post I cringe that as of now it's ranked as funny.

    It's dead on insightful, and here I thought Slashdot, with the avergae intelligence raised a bit, that that bar would be raised accordingly.

    Now I'm scared.
  • Re:You know... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RichardX (457979) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:11PM (#12452042) Homepage
    But as Sagan said himself, "Absence of evidence is not evidence of abscence".

    And there is no proof that a higher power /doesn't/ exist, now is there? :)


    Absolutely correct.
    Likewise, there is no proof that Santa Claus doesn't exist, or that there aren't teapots orbiting Mars ("but we'd see them!".. "Not if they're invisible teapots", etc)
    What we can do, however, is assess the liklihood of these things being true based on the best evidence we have avaliable - and on that basis, it seems extremely unlikely there is a Santa or a God or Mars-orbiting teapots.
    Note that this does not involve or require faith - a common point of confusion with believers. I do not have "faith" that the sun will rise tomorrow, for example. I simply know that there's a high enough probability that it will, based on past experience that I'd be extremely surprised if it didn't.
    Faith, on the other hand, makes assertions such as "there are teapots floating around Mars" without any prior evidence to suggest that is the case.

    Wow, that was unnecessarily long winded...
  • by cryptochrome (303529) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:11PM (#12452051) Journal
    1) Like-minded fundies will be inclined to move there, making the rest of the country more rational. Keeps 'em from causing much trouble in the rest of the states.

    2) It's not like Kansas has any other attractions.

    3) It gives comedy writers a focus for jokes about religious nuts. Properly handled, Kansas will be the laughingstock and not the USA.

    4) Destroying their state's reputation and their educational/research institutes will hurt their cause more than anything their opponents could do.

    It's too bad we can't teach people like this a lesson by preventing them from benefitting from the technology that springs from science, including the theory of evolution which plays a large role in modern medicine and - ironically for Kansas - agriculture. But I'll settle for watching them flounder. Sometimes the best tack is give fools enough rope to hang themselves with.
  • Re:Agree (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sTalking_Goat (670565) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:12PM (#12452065) Homepage
    Obviously the creationists want to use that by saying to the schools. "Since science is constantly evolving and testing itself why not teach "Intelligent Bollocks" in the classes and let the students compare the two. Obviously if evolution is as strong as the scientists say it is you've got nothing to worry about".

    Thats it exactly. Science is hard. Its keeps changing. No one is right for very long. Religion is easy. Got a difficult question, dig around in the Bible for something that sounds nice and preface it with "The Bible teaches us...". You can prove just about every arguement. Give a bunch of pre-teens a choice between hard uncertain realities and quick easy answers and what do you think they'll choose? Religion is a dangerous phenomenon.

  • by sharkb8 (723587) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:12PM (#12452073)
    That if humans are the product of intelligent design, that we were designed by something with a crappy intellegence.

    1) Humans are far too shortsighted (philosophically that is). Man can't keep from screwing up his own planet. Look a tthe self destriuctive behaviors that humans undertake in groups and singly every day. Anyone who has been stuck trying to make a left turn in Queens can see that humans rarely take the long view. (everyone pulls all the way into the intersection, blocking people trying to turn left in front of them. When both sides of the road do this, no one can turn left.) Most people are trying to maximize their short term progress at the expense of long term goals.
    2) The human body is far too fragile for what we use it for. Humans are essentially big bags of soft tissue suppoorted by fragile endoskeletons. If we were designed from an intellegent standpoint, why are some major organs not protected by the rib cage? We can live without intestines and kidneys, but not without a appendix? Why are our joints and bones so prone to stress and breakage? Why do we need sleep? Seems like an easy way to get eaten by a predator, and impinges on the time we could be using to amass food, procreate, and play HL2.
    3) Humans don't get along with each other very well. The species seems dedicated to proving the superiority one small group or another. Sounds like survival of the fittest to me. A more intellegent design would be to have less murderous instinct, more sense of community.

    I grew up in the south, and some of the things I heard coming from the religious nuts mouths was unbelievable. I once heard a church youth group minister give a talk about how Satan had planted all the fossils all over the world. His goal was to cause man to question the existence of God.

    As sad as this is, these are the people who get elected to office because they pander to people who, as an earlier comment pointed out, are afraid to say "we don't know how man was created, it's easier to believe that someone is out there taking care of us".

    As Bill Maher put it, God is an imaginary friend for grownups.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:13PM (#12452080)

    A man didn't understand how televisions work, and was convinced that there must be lots of little men inside the box. manipulating images at high speed. An engineer explained to him about high frequency modulations of the electromagnetic spectrum, about transmitters and receivers, about amplifiers and cathode ray tubes, about scan lines moving across and down a phosphorescent screen. The man listened to the engineer with careful attention, nodding his head at every step of the argument. At the end he pronounced himself satisfied. He really did now understand how televisions work. "But I expect there are just a few little men in there, aren't there?"

    -- Douglas Adams, a parable spoofing creationism that Adams often told, as retold by Richard Dawkins in "Lament for Douglas" (14 May 2001)

    Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?.

    -- Douglas Adams, from Last Chance To See ("a great book on natural history, extinction, and how we're managing to stuff this planet up fairly badly," says Iain)

  • Politics/Religion (Score:2, Insightful)

    by shoemaker251 (816362) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:14PM (#12452110)
    This makes me angry.

    It's not only the absurdity of rehashing a debate that took place 80 years ago. It's also that the proponents of "Intelligent Design" are identified as conservative. Why Republicans hitched their wagon to the religious right is beyond me. Being conservative means favoring a limited scope for government and greater responsibility and privacy for citizens. Where did this religious component come from? Religion is great and for the most part makes the world a better place. But I feel like the conservative banner has been hijacked by a vocal minority who feel emboldened by the attention they have received over the past 10 years from the Republican party.

    Don't they realize that they're hurting the very children that they claim to want to help? How is the next generation of American engineers going to compete in the world if they think that world is flat?
  • by Bullfish (858648) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:14PM (#12452118)
    It is only controversial in that these groups are trying to push a particular agenda that is based on a belief system, not fact. In truth, evolution is a theory in name only. We know and observe that evolution occurs, but some of the mechanisms are misunderstood.

    When it comes down to it though, these people are building a case on an unassailable position based on faith. This allows them to proceed in spite of physical evidence to the contrary, indeed perhaps, because of it.

    In the end, as time goes on, evolutionary mechanisms become better understood and evidence mounts. On the other side of the coin, all you get are the same hackneyed claims with a new set of clothes, in this case "intelligent design". It doesn't advance because there can be no development without an increase in the body of knowledge. In the biblical based body of knowledge, it is "all there in the bible". There is nothing new, only wrangling over who's interpretation is the "correct one".

    To make the claim that dressing an old thought up in a new set of clothes is science is just illogical. To give more than a basic amount of human respect to their beliefs is just dumb. If science has a problem here it is in trying to reason with the illogical. Always a poor proposition.

    That said, if the creationists may pull their children from class if evolution is discussed, can a person who rejects creation mythologies pull their kids from that portion of the class?
  • by Shaper_pmp (825142) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:15PM (#12452124)
    It may seem odd, but to my mind the new definition is actually a step forward for evolution:

    Old
    "seeking natural explanations for what we observe around us,"

    "Seeking explanations" says nothing about how probably or sensible they have to be, or how you go about the seeking. "I threw yarrow stalks ito the air, and they indicated the universe was sneezed into being by the Great Green Arkleseizure" is covered under this definition. Hey, I'm seeking, and "natural" is a terribly wishy-washy cop-out word.

    New
    "continuing investigation that uses observation, hypothesis testing, measurement, experimentation, logical argument and theory building to lead to more adequate explanations of natural phenomena"

    This more or less explicitely lays out the Scientific Method (thus neatly ruling out faith-based beliefs). Note also that it specifies "observation, hypothesis testing, measurement, experimentation, logical argument and theory building..." - to my mind, this means that any approach which excludes one of more of these isn't Science. Were this not the case, it would be "... logical argument or theory building".

    In addition, the new definition of science contains the word "hypothesis". To be a hypothesis an idea must be falsifiable - otherwise it's "just" a theory.

    Creationism and Intelligent design moves ultimate responsibility for the creation of the universe completely outside of human ken, and as such is impossible to falsify (just like you can't prove the door behind you exists without directly or indirectly observing it. Given this, ID or creationism can't ever advance hypotheses, and so are unavoidably excluded from "Science", by this definition.

    Of course, this definition will doubtless be abused by creationist fuckwits who don't understand the precise meaning of "hypothesis", but for anyone who properly understands the language they're speaking, it's pretty cut-and-dried, no?
  • Re:I like it (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:17PM (#12452179)
    I think you are misreading it. "Natural" doesn't mean "obvious" or "intuitive" in this context. It's used in contrast to the term "supernatural", meaning material in nature, not beyond the laws of physics.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:19PM (#12452209)
    and you think that it isn't?

    Next time you microwave something, or wear clothing with synthetic fibers, or use TV or radio, ask yourself: "Would a slavish devotion to the literal interpretation of the bible have eventually resulted in the creation of the products I'm using? If anyone with new/different/progressive ideas and ideals were burned at the stake, would society grow and improve?" Then consider the answer you give yourself in light of the fact that fundamentalists posit that the ONLY valid point of view is the one that elevates the allegorical parable of the bible to absolutely infallible fact, and any/all other views as worthy of persecution and destruction.

    If religion were allowed to run wild we'd be a world of zealots disconnected from our physical reality. At least when science has no agenda other than discovery of truth. Whereas religion *should* be about the discovery of truth but instead has devolved into an organization bent on the dissemination of faith, over and above the meaning or truth of the object of that faith. It's ceased to be about the truth and has come to be about group think and suppression of dissent. The church(es) have placed the wielding of political influence over and above the spiritual well being of their believers, and over and above the total well being of humanity as a whole.

  • by Entropius (188861) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:19PM (#12452219)
    Science works by positing an explanation (an hypothesis), then doing all sorts of tests to try to prove that explanation wrong.

    For instance, I could say "All objects fall." I drop rocks, a computer, my girlfriend, and a 1982 Dodge Dart off of a cliff: they all fall.

    Then I drop a duck, and it flies off. So I revise my guess: "All inert objects fall."

    I drop pencils, a bow-tie, and a plate of lasagna off the cliff; they all fall. Then I try a bag full of helium; it doesn't fall. Oops, need a new theory...

    This is how science progresses: make assumptions, assume that they're right until something shows otherwise, and then methodically try to prove them wrong. Some of our assumptions last a very long time, and we call those "laws": conservation of energy is a good example.

    However, there's another unspoken law of science that's emerged: "All things have natural explanations." Whenever scientists encounter a new phenomenon, they assume that it has a natural explanation (i.e. one susceptible to analysis) and then go about finding it.

    It turns out that every phenomenon we've looked at has a natural explanation. There are of course some things that don't have explanations yet, but those things that we do have explanations for are *all* natural.

    People have said "It's ghosts!" about many things in nature, and the scientists have said "Huh. We don't know what causes this."

    Then fifty years later we say "Oh, look, someone showed that it's an electrical discharge in the ionosphere!" ... and the it's-ghosts crowd slinks off.

    This has been repeated time and time again, and it's never been ghosts.
  • by VdG (633317) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:21PM (#12452247)
    I think that proper teaching of the scientific method - what it is, how to use it, why it's been so useful to us - would reduce at least the first of those positions.

    One might put forward a hypothesis that some supernatural being designed human beings, but there is no way of testing such a hypothesis. Therefore it has no place in science. That doesn't mean it's not so; just that it's not a useful hypothesis and we should move on to something we *can* test. There's nothing that says we have to understand everything: what's wrong with a little mystery?

    One of the problems I have with the creationists and their ilk is that they're not formulating a hypothesis to explain diversity etc: they've decided that evolution - regardless of any proof for it - cannot, must not be correct and have attempted to come up with an alternative. Not something to better explain the world about us, but something that simply casts doubt on the theory of evolution.

    In theory, I don't much care what the citizens of Kansas choose to do in their own State. However, I am a little concerned that people of my own country might be inspired to waste a lot of time and effort with similar nonsense, rather than geting on with something useful.
  • Re:You know... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by crawling_chaos (23007) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:22PM (#12452265) Homepage
    You can say that there's no proof regarding God's existence.

    I will go further and say that God's existence is unprovable and therefore any explanation that involves divine intervention is at its roots unscientific. Science deals with hypotheses that can be falsified. And I will give you a piece of evidence that can falsify evolution: rabbit fossils in the Precambrian. According to evolution they can't be there, and after a century of looking they still aren't.

    I think what needs to happen at this point is for the accrediting bodies that certify Kansas' high school diplomas to put a rider on their certification that would allow any college or university that is serious about science to deny admission to a product of the Kansas public schools. If they wish to teach a Medieval version of science, then let them only profit from Medieval levels of technology.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:22PM (#12452274)
    While we are all busy debating about this one issue, I think we should step back and look at the long term effects that this 'radical' movement is taking.

    It may be just the idea of Evolution now but say tommorow schools eventually banish this idea in favor of Intelligent Design aka Creationism today. What's next? School's then force all their students to read from the bible everyday? The elimination of all other religions from school? Which brach of christianity are we going to follow? Orthodox? To what level is the bible going to define our day to day lives and whose interpretation are we going to implement in our lives?

    Does this situation remind you of anything else. It seems that in fighting Osama and the Taliban, we are becoming like them. Radical Christianism anyone?

    I think the majority of people are sane and it is clear that the long term effects of such a trend if it were to continue would be devestating and i think most people would understand that. I think we just need to open their eyes!!!
  • Re:You know... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PaxTech (103481) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:23PM (#12452283) Homepage
    You ask this question innocently but only because you are not a religious fundamentalists. To the taliban (afghan or american) it's heresy to even ask the question. You must accept the words in the bible/koran literally.

    You know, I'm as atheistic and completely non-religious as the next slashdotter, but it's attitudes like this that help destroy any hope of rational discourse between the two sides of this argument.

    Comparing religious Americans to the Afghan Taliban just doesn't fly. Get back to me when mainstream American christians applaud murder in their god's name.

    Yeah, I know there have been American christian terrorists like Eric Rudolph, but they're hardly accepted by mainstream christians. When Ashcroft was AG he wanted Rudolph put to death for killing gays and abortionists, hardly the attitude he'd have if he believed Rudolph was doing god's work.

    Seriously, if you're going to compare religious people to the Taliban, you might as well go all the way and compare them to Nazis so we can invoke Godwin's law on your ass.. ;)
  • by MilenCent (219397) * <johnwh@gm a i l . com> on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:25PM (#12452318) Homepage
    I think we need to stop and notice that, in fact, it's not "religion" that has something against science, or even "Christianity," but "certain small, yet extremely vocal, Christian groups that happen to have a lot of money, bluster, and persecution complexes behind them, and who have beefs with approx. 70% of everything important that happens in the world."

    The Cathloic Church alone is a hell of a lot bigger than these people could ever hope to be.
  • by arkanes (521690) <arkanes@g m a i l . c om> on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:25PM (#12452323) Homepage
    There's more than one loophole. The one that jumps out at me is the removal of the phrase "natural explanation", which precludes supernatural explanations like intelligent design or creationism.
  • Re:You know... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jeff DeMaagd (2015) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:25PM (#12452324) Homepage Journal
    It is perfectly acceptable for people to believe God uses evolution as a tool. But it is not science.

    I agree. I hate it when people read texts as being what it probably what it wasn't indended to be. Religious texts were probably never intended to be the final word on science, and science texts should not be used as a final word on religion.

    It bothers me when people try to reconcile them, or assume that both are contradictory. I see them as very likely being orthogonal. I don't believe that the creation accounts should be taken as literal fact.

    In fact, the Hebrew/Christian story of Genesis has TWO (or more?) accounts of creation, if you took both literally, then they contradict, so I figure at least one must be non-literal. I don't see how either of them necessarily has to be literal accounts of physical reality. There are many other places where statements can't be taken literally, only meant to show parallels in aiding understanding the spiritual world.
  • Re:The Future... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ardor (673957) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:27PM (#12452354)
    The USA may only be 5% of the planet, but it has lots of nukes.

    If it looks like the right wing is going to completely triumph both culturally and militarily in he USA, I urge the people of the EU, Japan, South Korea, and China to tell your leaders to pull the plug. Sell their American Bonds, sell their dollars. Let the USA sink into the oblivion of its multi-trillion dollar debt. If they complain, tell them to ask Jesus for the money. It'll be tough, but you all can get along without us.


    You know, with China its the other way round. The US plug is in China, and they can't pull it. China is rapidly becoming a new superpower, maybe outstripping the US in its rise. EU, Russia, India, Pakistan and most of Asia have good/excellent relations with China. US will be losing, thats for sure. Unfortunately, the EU is still very bonded to the USA. Lets see what happens when they crash.
  • Re:You know... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shutdown -p now (807394) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:27PM (#12452369) Journal
    Either way, you're arguing for an eternal _something_ that set the universe in motion, both of which take no small amount of faith.
    Nope. If the universe just "began by itself", there's no other 'eternal' something in it - there's just the universe. Whereas, with Creator, he's that something, but then you have just added a new entity, increasing the complexity of the system, without any added benefit (that is, universe with Creator is really no different from universe without one, except for the presence of the said Creator). Introducing Creator into the system doesn't explain anything - at all. It's just a convenient way of rephrasing things, saying 'God did it' instead of 'it happened'. Nothing else.
  • Re:You know... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hixie (116369) <ian@hixie.ch> on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:29PM (#12452395) Homepage
    You wrote: "I'd rather put my faith in the evidence we do have in a Creator, than putting my faith in a still mysterious _something_ that caused the universe to do the whole big *foom* thing."

    So what you're saying is given that you don't know how the universe was created, you'd rather pretend to know, than acknowledge you don't know?

    Personally I find that ridiculous. If you don't know the answer to a question (e.g. "how did the universe come to be") then you just say that: "I don't know". You don't make up some random nonsense and claim it to be the truth.
  • Re:You know... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SiliconEntity (448450) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:30PM (#12452421)
    Either you argue for an eternal Creator that set everything in motion - or you argue for an eternal Universe that just happened. Either way, you're arguing for an eternal _something_ that set the universe in motion, both of which take no small amount of faith.

    But the big bang model is far simpler. It requires only a uniform gas and a set of relatively simple physical laws. We don't know the exact laws yet but the ones we have can be expressed in a few lines of math.

    Compare that to the complexity of God! Many people would say that He is infinitely complex. Why is it easier to believe in this incredibly complex entity than to believe in a simple ball of hot gas? It takes far more information to describe the Entity than the gas.
  • Re:You know... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LoadStar (532607) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:30PM (#12452427)
    There is no alternative... Science tell that the simple anwser to that is: we don`t know, lets try to find out...

    Ok, I can agree with that first part. We don't know. We can look at the evidence we have and see where it points us. Which immediately discounts 95% of the responses to this article thus far, because they all start out with the presupposition that they know exactly what happened, and proceed to ridicule those who espouse an alternative explanation.

    Thats why religion is bad (alot of religious people adopt a *I just know it* approach)...

    The second... well, the two sentences have a disconnect. Religion isn't bad. In fact, a true religion has a lot in common with science - it's a continual proofing to make sure the belief holds. A follower of a religion should also be able to explain to others not only what they believe, but why they believe it - a study called "apologetics."

  • by rco3 (198978) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:31PM (#12452440) Homepage
    A few problems:

    1) Kansas isn't in the south, or even in the South.

    2) The South isn't landlocked.

    3) Bush is from Texas. That's more West than South.

    4) There are idiots and conservatives everywhere.

    5) As others have pointed out, you got both the title and the author of The Handmaid's Tale wrong.

    Painting all Southerners with the "ignorant, theocratic redneck" brush is as accurate and useful as painting all Northerners with the "rude asshole" brush or painting all West Coasties with the "flaky New Age neo-mystic" brush. It's just not that simple.

    If you continue to perpetuate the myth that living in the South automatically and without significant exception indicates that that person is uneducated, superstitious/religious, or inherently unintelligent, then you are showing even less capability for logical, rational thought than those dipshits in Kansas about whom this story was written.

    Your comment isn't being modded insightful (as of this writing) for the simple reason that it ISN'T insightful. It's wrong-headed, factually incorrect, and blames the wrong people for the wrong things.

    The people you're mad at are the religiously conservative, and they're everywhere. We in the South simply have a larger infestation of them than you appear to, wherever it is you live.
  • by ultrasound (472511) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:31PM (#12452451)
    I don't understand what you mean by "in fairness" to these folks.

    The theory of evolution is not "contradicted" by the fossil record, the theory does not predict a rate of evolution, it simply defines a general mechanism by which the characteristics of a species of organism can change in each generation through natural selection. The actual mechanisms by which this occurs are not all understood in detail.

    It is certainly likely that the rate of evolution is determined by the environment and the interaction of the local flora and fauna. In steady-state evolution does not really occur as there is no drive to change. When the environment is dynamic or changed through events such as ice-ages, meteor strikes, volcanic eruptions, new species evolving or moving in to area etc. stronger selection occurs (evolve or die) and therefore more rapid evolution occurs. One would guess that the bigger the change, the more rapidly evolution may occur as the selection environment is more harsh than usual.

    The theories can only tell you so much, what you really need is experimental evidence. Given that we cant do long experiments we can only rely on the fossil record. And the transient events you refer to provide some evidence for punctuated evolution. Rather than contradicting the theory, the data helps to flesh it out.
  • by Peter La Casse (3992) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:33PM (#12452469) Homepage
    By not having "natural explanation" in the sentence, they can truly claim that creationism _IS_ science.

    If creationism can be accurately described as a "continuing investigation that uses observation, hypothesis testing, measurement, experimentation, logical argument and theory building to lead to more adequate explanations of natural phenomena" then it is science.

    If creationism doesn't meet that definition (hint: it doesn't) then that definition can't be used to claim that creationism is science.

    Personally, I think that's a pretty good definition to use, although I'd replace "adequate" with "accurate".

  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:35PM (#12452510) Journal
    What debate? Can you name more than a handful of actual practicing scientists in biology or genetics (and the offshoot disciplines) who don't accept evolution? In the actual scientific world there hasn't been a debate for well nigh a century. Evolutionary theory is the overarching bedrock of the biological disciplines. Do you think teaching students a blatant lie that there is some conflict going on, is appropriate? Do you think denying them even a glimpse of the unifying theory of biology is somehow helpful?

    Look, the ID advocates have already pretty much stopped trying to hawk their pseudo-scientific argument from incredulity directly. Unfortunately, they've forgotten to tell some of the morons on these school boards, who still seem convinced that the ID movement has something positive to offer.

    I certainly don't want my kids taught veiled theology, or taught that any old assertion is somehow the equivalent of emperical theories. I want them taught science.

  • Arkansas vs. Iran (Score:3, Insightful)

    by notcreative (623238) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:35PM (#12452524) Journal
    It's funny how the self-reinforcing isolation of the religious types in the American south is similar to the same sort of thing going on in Iran. What other developed country in the world has so many citizens with such a keen attachment to propagating ignorance in their children? If knowledge is power, then what is creationism?
  • by sickofthisshit (881043) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:35PM (#12452534) Journal
    If you think letting religion run society is a good thing, consider comparing the Middle East to Europe.

    Round about 1200, Arab civilization was leading Europe in practically *every* category of art and science.

    Then, for various reasons, Europe went through the Renaissance, where pre-Christian achievements were admired again, the Reformation, where the grip of the Catholic church over secular power was broken, and the Enlightenment, where rational inquiry was finally lifted above theology and scripture. The culmination for all of this was the devleopment of modern science, the Industrial Revolution and the Information Revolution.

    The result of which is that you, sitting in Kansas, as the heir to all of this SECULAR ACHIEVEMENT, can type on a cheap computer and communicate with anyone anywhere in the world, in one of the richest countries on Earth, in the most prosperous society the world has ever known. In the achievement of which, religion sought to obstruct EVERY step along the way.

    While, back in the Middle East, they've still got their dominant religion, and even got the chance in Iran and Afghanistan to have true rule by religious principles. The result of which is that the *entire* region http://www.worldbank.org/data/wdi2001/pdfs/tab1_1. pdf [worldbank.org]
    of the Middle East and North Africa, with 290 million people, has an economy about the size of SPAIN, with 39 million people.

    Yeah, I'd say that secularism is a good thing.
  • by rben (542324) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:36PM (#12452540) Homepage

    The attitude from the pro-evolution side so far has been "we don't want to discuss it, and we can't believe you want to hold a debate about it"

    There is a reason that scientists take that stance, it's because there is overwhelming evidence all around us that evolution happens and that it is one of the dominant forces in nature. Go read Darwin, Dawkins, or any of the other brilliant men who have described evolution and debunked the various attempts to claim that it is somehow inadequate to explain our universe.

    It is a shame that so many people want to belittle the wonder of the universe. Though I am an athiest, I don't see how an understanding and acknowledgement of evolution in any way conflicts with the idea that there is some supreme being. All it does is call into question the Bible as a historically accurate document that carries the authority of God.

    This kind of foolishness is not harmless. It teaches our children to accept things, not on the basis of their own critical thinking, but simply on the word of someone in authority. Theocracies and Kingdoms work well when people never question, just obey. Democracies don't. If we want a good government that works for all of us, instead of just those who have power and money, we have to constantly question the motives of those we have put in positions of authority.

    The first place to start, as George Orwell would tell you, is by questioning people who want to change the definition of words in the language for political purposes. (I recommend the novel 1984 by George Orwell, to anyone who doesn't understand that comment.)

  • by jhines0042 (184217) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:36PM (#12452547) Journal
    Evolution is so elegant and beautiful though that to my mind it shows Gods power, not a weakness.

  • by fallen1 (230220) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:37PM (#12452563) Homepage
    Well, before people completely bash the South, there are those who live down here who a) believe in God and b) think that science and the theory of evolution are quite true (in general). While I agree with a lot that the parent comment has said (and it scares me it was modded funny) I also know we are not all incoherent Bible-thumping, scripture quoting, non-thinking individuals. I firmly believe that God gave me a mind to USE and THINK for myself. To decide things for myslef based on the facts at hand and weigh what I read (Bible, science texts, Internet, wherever, whatever) and hear and learn and extrapolate the meaning behind it. There is nothing in the Bible that says a person is not supposed to think for themselves, to decide what is true or not. Sure, there are guidelines to help a Christian along his path but they are not absolute in my opinion. In short, don't take the vocal majority to be representative of what you'll find in the South (or anywhere else in the world for that matter).

    Not to mention that, in general, Southerners are damn hospitable folks who'll gladly welcome you to town, serve you some fine home-made food, sweet iced tea, and a dose of Southern charm to top it off. Probably a mint julep or two as well ;-)
  • Re:You know... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Taladar (717494) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:38PM (#12452583)
    Why not? Why are things some random,famous,real politician from a hundred years ago said more important/right/relevant than something an unknown screenwriter wrote? People having a problem with that should probably learn to distinguish between source and content when deciding what to believe.
  • by Confessed Geek (514779) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:38PM (#12452588)

    I think the proof that a benign power doesn't exist, or at least is not interested, is the current state of things. If such a being existed and cared about its creations, I doubt Africa, the Middle East, All of post Tsunami SE Asia would be in the state its in. (These being locations with a great concentration of very religious people).

    So, you can't prove it doesn't exist, but you can prove that it is either powerless, helpless, disinterested or an asshole/malovent diety. In any of those cases I have no interest in it, and don't know why anyone else would either.
  • by MrLint (519792) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:40PM (#12452625) Journal
    Astute observation.

    If one has taken a class in logic or classical argument, you may recall that if you start with false premises you can indeed logically reach false 'true' conclusions. Logical deduction itself itself is *NOT* sufficient to prove a phenomenon real. You actually have to prove your premises are real. By definition you cannot prove something supernatural. Supernatural things (being outside the realm of the natural) cannot be observed, tested, measured, or proved to exist.

    Their supernatural creator might as well be *FAIRY GOD PARENTS* /KROCKER
  • by Marr (621782) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:41PM (#12452638)
    Is there some sort of agreed defenition of the word 'natural' by which anything in existence could be declared an 'unnatural phenomenon'?
  • by sirket (60694) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:43PM (#12452692)
    The problem with the majority of Christians in this country is that they worship the Bible instead of God. Instead of asking themselves "What would a kind and compassionate God think of homosexuality (for example)" they point to the Bible and say "look- it says here that that is wrong!"

    The Bible is just a book and it was written by human beings. It was written by people capable of making mistakes. It was written by people who may have witnessed events that they were incapable of comprehending. It was changed over time and translated. In other words- the Bible should be treated as a guide and not as the word of God because it isn't (maybe it was a long time ago but it isn't today).

    Another thing that really ticks me off is that these people claim that the universe was created by an all powerful omniscient being- and then they claim to know what he/she/it is thinking. The arrogance is mind boggling. Folks- stop it. God wouldn't like- trust me I know what he is thinking :)

    -sirket (an agnostic atheist)
  • by stinerman (812158) <nathan.stine@NOSpaM.gmail.com> on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:43PM (#12452693) Homepage
    is computer science a science

    Of course, computer science is about studying algorithms that just so happen to be tested well on computers. That is like asking if math is a science.

    I believe Dijkstra said something to the effect of:

    "Computer Science is no more about computers than astronomy is about telescopes."
  • by Dioscorea (821163) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:44PM (#12452710) Homepage
    If the reality is a wording that is clearer and more complete, is that not better?

    How could anyone think this new definition is clearer? It has three times as many syllables.

    It's not "more complete" either. Adding a roll-call of methodologies (measurement, hypothesis testing, etc) only begs the question of what has been left out. Like peer review, parsimony (aka Occam's razor), mathematical modeling...

    The phrase "more adequate explanations" is the real zinger. Who decides what's adequate? How is "more adequate" clearer than "natural"?

    These ID guys are America's shame. I once tried engaging some of them (William Dembski, Michael Behe, Philip Johnson) in email discussions. None of them would go beyond one or two emails once they figured out I wasn't on their team. They have an extreme agenda and everything they say/do/propose should, IMO, be regarded with extreme suspicion.

  • Re:Tell me this... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by shutdown -p now (807394) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:45PM (#12452722) Journal
    In short, God can be un-caused, but nature can't be.
    Why?
  • by jandrese (485) * <kensama@vt.edu> on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:45PM (#12452724) Homepage Journal
    You've never read a science book have you? There are no "Facts" per say, only observations (Laws) and the processes that describe them (Theoies).

    Evolution is obviously a Theory. It is descriptive and predictive and could be disproved. Scientists can use Evolution as a basis for understanding how the world works and how it was created. You can run repeatable experiments that would fail if Evolution were false. Scientists do this all the time, and thus far we have no examples of (say) some divine hand changing the outcome of an experiment (messing with the lab rats as it were) in some repeatable way. Evolution COULD be disproven, in fact it would be quite easy for an actual intelligent designer to do so, but thus far they havn't.

    What you forgot to ask is the corrilary: Is ID a Theory? No, it is not, it cannot be used to predict anything and it cannot be disproved. Therefore, ID (and Creationism) have no place in science. They are not useful. They are NOT Theories. Teaching this to our kids in Science Class just does't make sense, because it isn't science.
  • by rco3 (198978) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:46PM (#12452737) Homepage
    It's not being modded insightful because it isn't insightful. It's factually incorrect (in several places) and misses the mark completely on who is the bad guy here.

    It's not Southerners, it's conservative Christians. There's a difference. Especially since Kansas isn't in the South (nor are Utah, Ohio, etc.) and since not all Southerners are conservative Christians OR stupid. Yes, there is an large infestation of CC's here in the South - but then I've noticed that the North has a remarkably large number of rude assholes. Every place has problems.

    Your assertion that the average intelligence on Slashdot is "raised a bit" is unsupported.

    Now if by "Insightful" you mean "aligned nicely with my own preconceptions and prejudices" then perhaps it is.
  • by joebok (457904) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:47PM (#12452757) Homepage Journal
    An appreciation of beauty, a sense of morality, the ability to be moved by poetry.

    Why can't these be studied scientifically? You don't have to be a determinist to understand that knowledge can be gained by better understanding of how our brain and body works which would be one way to approach these things.

    I doubt science would tell us what is beautiful or moral or poetically moving - but there are valid scientific inquiries along these lines.

    But even on the subject of what is moral, for example, science is not wholly unusable. When we consider morality issues surrounding the environment and global warming, science can give us information about how things are or are not connected and interrelated which will help us make informed moral choices about how we act in the world.
  • Pot, meet kettle. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Medievalist (16032) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:47PM (#12452761)

    Using the scare-word "supernatural" displays the same kind of ignorance that the ID people themselves are directing towards evolutionary science.

    Many of the ID group do not believe in any sort of "supernatural" beings.

    Proponents of evolution science are hurting their own cause by boycotting these hearings and by falsely insisting that ID is synonymous with biblical fundamentalism.

    It appears that the evolutionists in Kansas are either incapable of defending their beliefs, or unwilling to try.
  • by Entropius (188861) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:48PM (#12452777)
    The fact that all inert objects fall doesn't mean that some non-inert objects don't fall either. :)

    Nice, though.
  • Re:You know... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by killjoe (766577) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:52PM (#12452857)
    "You know, I'm as atheistic and completely non-religious as the next slashdotter, but it's attitudes like this that help destroy any hope of rational discourse between the two sides of this argument."

    I submit that it's not possible to have a rational discussion with religious fundemantalists.

    "Comparing religious Americans to the Afghan Taliban just doesn't fly. Get back to me when mainstream American christians applaud murder in their god's name."

    They do this all the time. For example whenever an abortion doctor gets killed.

    "Seriously, if you're going to compare religious people to the Taliban"

    The taliban wanted a nation run under the rules of the koran. The christian right wants the exact same thing. The taliban turned schools into madrasas that based their teachings on a radical political agenda based purely on the koran the christian right wants the same thing.

    If the foo shits you gotta wear it.
  • Re:Wrong (Score:1, Insightful)

    by caseydk (203763) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:53PM (#12452863) Homepage Journal
    Actually, I think this is a very interesting definition as it essentially puts the entire Scientific Method into the definition. Basically, something has to be based on concepts that can either be proven or disproven (aka falsifiable).

    The key will be "observation, hypothesis testing, measurement, experimentation, logical argument and theory building" since Evolution is based entirely on observation and theory building and has no hypothesis testing beyond showing simple species-specific traits can be passed along.

    Evolution is non-falsifiable and therefore will not fit this definition of Science.
  • by KUHurdler (584689) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:53PM (#12452870) Homepage
    "This kind of foolishness is not harmless. It teaches our children to accept things, not on the basis of their own critical thinking, but simply on the word of someone in authority."

    You mean the kind of thinking where no one questions evolution and we just accept it? which side are you arguing here, yours or mine?

    The goal of the school board is to DE-EPHASIZE evolution. Not to teach ID.
  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:53PM (#12452873) Journal
    Evolution is a scientific theory. It has no more to say on religious beliefs or morals than Newtonian mechanics or fluid dynamics. And it isn't as if religion has been such a stellar upholder of human rights and dignity, so to suddenly have you guys running around make-believing that your worldview has had my best interests at heart is more than a little hypocritical.

    At any rate, what you wrote above is a red herring. One can be a Christian and accept evolution. Only Biblical literalists have a problem with this, and, as a matter of theology, it is at odds with major Christian churches such as the Roman Catholicism, Anglican/Episcopalianism and Lutheranism have taken positions that evolutionary theory is not in conflict with salvation.

  • by dismal scientist (601368) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:55PM (#12452911)
    Science seeks to explain observed phenomena in nature. It is axiomatic to science that nature runs in accordance to laws, not due to the mind of an unseen intelligence.

    People have incorrectly used "God" to explain the gap in there understanding (ie, those lights in the sky are angels changing the scenery for the end-times, rather than being a meteor shower).

    But if there is a God, science will never find it because it is axiomatic that you don't use God to explain observed phenomena. So in order to explain things of complexity in nature, science has to find an explanation that does not include God. Sometimes this produces theories that are accepted for a time, but only later to be discounted.

    Science naturally produces theories like the Big Bang and evolution, because those are theories that explain how complex things come into being without the need for a God. But even those theories cannot escape the "gaps" in understanding, which are sometimes passed off as "something that obviously happened, we just don't know how."

    Evolution theories get more an more complex (right or wrong). Since science must explain the existence of humans without God directly and constantly intervening, evolution makes the most sense. But when the data is put to the theory, gaps occur. Like when one species of humans scientifically cannot have evolved from species A to species B, then is it proposed that both species A and B must have had a common ancestor C, even if there is no evidence of a species C. Then some may go looking for species C to fuel the evidence for this model, and then they may or may not find something they claim to be species C. If they don't find something they can claim to be species C, then the theories are reworked. If they do find something attributed to species C, then the cycle usually repeats itself (then what is the ancestor of species C?).

    The evolution ancestor tree or more like a sprawling bush now, but since the exclusion of God is axiomatic, and evolution is the best theory of scientific explanation, it must be true that the ancestor bush is correct. "Data" never says anything. You can't "look at what the data says." You can only come up with a theory and see if the data fits.

    But the point can be made that evolution cannot be tested because we can't actually observe the ancestor bush. We can observe things that seem consistent with evolution (fruit flies and DNA patterns) but we can't watch the single cell ancestor slowly become a modern human. So evolution becomes inherently un-falsifiable until someone acutally starts an experiment that does exactly what evolution theory says happened in the past. But even then, it would only show that it could have happened a certain way, not that it only could have occurred that way.

    Creantionists (or whatever ID-ists) have the same problem. They take what they read in the Bible (or other evidence of a supreme intelligence) and show that observed natural phenomena could have been caused by "God" (a great flood is consistent with observed phenomena, so does that mean the observed phenomena could only have been caused by a great flood?).

    The debate about evolution has always been about the existence of God. But I submit that science will never give proof of God because it is axiomatic that there is no "supernatural" interference in observed phenomena.

    Creationists will continue to try to show that their theories are consistent with observed phenomena. Evolutionists will continue to show that humans can exist now without the need for a God to explain their existence.

    What if there is a third option? The Big Bang was the only widely accepted theory of the origin of the universe and now that is losing traction. Will the theory of evolution ever fall out of favor with scientists?

    What if science uncovers dimensions previously unknown to us? Or forces, or theories of matter, or genetics that cause us to rethink a lot of our theories?

    What if science figures out a better theory than e
  • by mabu (178417) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:55PM (#12452914)
    Personally, I don't really see the creationists as being too much worse than that particular demographic of atheists who worship Darwin as God. *Excessive*, irrational veneration ...

    Thanks for providing us with a poignant example of excessive, irrational, statements. Speculating that there is any significant faction of people on this planet who, in any way, "worship Darwin as God" is one of the most ridiculous things I've ever heard.

    If there's one thing that really annoys me, it's an intellectually deficient side's desperate attempt to compare the end of a cigarette to the surface of the sun and claim they both put out the same amount of heat and therefore negate each others' significance or severity. Intelligence insulting hogwash!

    However, another group who I think desperately need to get lives are those who are frantically seeking life on Mars, purely/primarily because they hope they can use such proof to discredit creationism altogether.


    Huh? Are you kidding me? Are you wearing tin-foil underwear?

    I believe the best way that evolutionary advocates can win this particular battle is simply by not fighting it.

    Unbelievable. You advocate not standing up for what you believe in, and this will somehow make everything rosy? Have you not studied even a sliver of history of any civilization in the world?
  • Re:Wrong (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Happy Monkey (183927) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:56PM (#12452931) Homepage
    Evolution is falsifiable. e.g. A chicken fossil in the pre-Cambrian era.
  • by SiliconEntity (448450) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:57PM (#12452945)
    I am troubled by the decision by scientific groups to boycott these hearings. Wouldn't it be better to take these arguments on squarely and address them on the merits? Science is supposed to be open to challenge, its entire structre is designed to allow for changing theories in response to evidence. By boycotting the hearings it makes it look like science has no answer to the points which the Intelligent Design proponents are raising.

    It's no secret what their arguments are. They are posted widely on the net and promulgated by ID websites. Scientists should prepare responses to these points that are simple, concise and can be explained and understood. People like Richard Dawkins have written whole books on the topics. There are plenty of engaging, articulate and intelligent scientists who could do a good job of making the case.

    I know the arguments against it: that the hearings are rigged, or that this dignifies the opponents by making it appear that their weak arguments are even worth responding to. But first, even if the hearings are rigged, it is important to put the facts into the public record. This is a subcommittee, and the full school board has to make the final determination. The scientifically oriented board members need ammunition to strike down claims by religious members.

    And as far as dignifying the creationists, they are already gaining political power! Refusing to argue with them won't change that. The right and honorable thing for science to do is to deal with them on the level of scientific argumentation. Explain why their arguments don't work, show the problems in their theories. This has been done successfully in other forums.

    Look at the Scopes trial: Scopes lost! A fact often forgotten today. (Actually Darrow requested a guilty verdict so he could appeal the case and make it set a precedent.) The point is that winning or losing in the local setting doesn't matter that much. What matters is making the case forthrightly, honestly and fearlessly.

    Scientists shouldn't worry that they are dignifying the opposition. People do deserve to be treated with dignity, after all. Science should merely respond calmly and factually to the charges, and should inquire carefully after any flaws in the logic of the ID proponents. This is the method of science, it is what has made it so successful, and it is how science should proceed today in these hearings.
  • Re:sigh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by khallow (566160) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:59PM (#12452978)
    I think there's serious question here whether supernatual explanations have any role in intellectual debate. My take is that anything that can be observed, can eventually be explained via some sufficient theory of "natural law". And if it can't be observed, then it doesn't exist. So supernatural phenomena is either things that don't exist or things that we haven't yet incorporated into a natural theory. Ie, the category doesn't seem useful.
  • by indifferent children (842621) on Friday May 06, 2005 @01:00PM (#12452995)
    Why do people jump on Christians and Jews because they apparently believe something that cannot be proven or disproven?

    That is not what irks most Atheists. Rather beliefs such as "the Earth is only 6,000 years old" and "all of the species alive today co-existed on that day (6,000 years ago) when they were all created (dinosaurs never existed, God buried some bone-like rocks to test our faith)" and "the Sun revolves around the Earth" and "condoms do not reduce the rate of STD transmission". Even with these beliefs, most Atheists will take a live-and-let-live policy as long as you do not try to enshrine such beliefs in law, or teach them as science.

    Also, many rational people abhor hypocrisy, regardless of where it is found. If you want to be a Hindu, be a Hindu who follows all of the teachings of your religion (or at least admit that *you* decided what is right and wrong, not some gGod(s)). If you want to be a Christian who claims that homosexuality is a sin because Leviticus says so, then follow all of the prohibitions in Leviticus (no two types of thread, only approach an altar with less than 20/20 vision, pork is unclean, ...)

  • Re:You know... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 06, 2005 @01:04PM (#12453073)
    I have to agree with you LoadStar, but I think you're on the verge of trolling.

    If you agree that science means "you must first accept that you don't know X, then seek ways to learn X, and perhaps even come up with a testable theory explaining X" (which is great and I totally agree), then that "eternal God vs eternal universe" crap was a straw man to begin with.

    Yeah, a lot of armchair scientists will jump on a hokey hypothesis rather than admit that something just doesn't have any scientific explanation. But while a common sentiment on Slashdot, actual scientists have no problem at all saying "I don't know". That, after all, is the real first step in learning.

    And yes, a lot of people have hostility toward religion in general and say things like "that's why religion is bad". But that's not everyone either. You're making the same mistake they are by assuming the loudest, most obnoxious part of a group represents the group as a whole.

    Religion's great. I love it. It makes the world a great and interesting place. The fact that it's a crock of horseshit isn't really even relevant. It makes people happy and makes for cool works of art and literature. Fiction is GOOD. However, teaching fiction to children as if it were fact is BAD. That's what this discussion is all about.
  • by pla (258480) on Friday May 06, 2005 @01:06PM (#12453096) Journal
    That being said, evolution is as much a theory as creationism, and some may say it evolution relies on faith just as much (if not more) than creationism.

    No.

    First of all, the strength of a theory depends entirely on its predictive power, not just its descriptive ability. You can fit all the known facts about anything to an arbitrarily complex description, and have that description 100% accurate for all known data. Only by predicting never-before-seen data points can a "theory" have any validity whatsoever.

    One aspect of evolution predicts that, if I take a culture of a bacteria killed off by a particular antibiotic, and grow it in the presence of that same antibiotic, after a few generations the entire culture will have immunity to that antibiotic. We did this in my freshman college micro class, and what do you know, it works! Do you know of any testable predictions of creationism?



    Really read up on evolution. There are huge missing factors and gaps in logic. Darwin knew this.

    Unlike creationism, evolution doesn't depend on a supreme source of authority for its accuracy. You could prove Darwin as a raving lunatic who liked to bugger goats, and it would not affect the theory of evolution one whit.

    As for those "gaps"... Evolution, as a theory, has a few missing data points. Not gaps in logic, gaps in the fossil record. BIG difference. And as for those problematic gaps in the fossil record, people tend to overstate them to an extreme. We only really lack a very few examples that would make some aspects of evolution more solid, such as the "missing link" - Guess what? as important as we humans consider ourselves, the absence of one particular stopping point in our ancestry has very little bearing on evolution as a whole.

    We have, quite literally, evidence (either historical or laboratory reproduceable) of every major step in the development of life on this planet, from the creation of organic molecules from the ingredients of young Earth's atmosphere (the classic Miller-Urey experiment)), to the formation of cell walls via self-organizing lipid membranes produced by the action of the tides, to the gradual accumulation of functional components inside a cell (via endosymbiosis, of which Lynn Margulis has written extensively), to the formation of simple multicellular colonies (sea sponge has only slightly more organization than a simple colony), to the formation of differentiated tissues such as organs (jellyfish), to the adaptation of entire species to radically new environments (fish -> amphibians -> reptiles -> mammals), and sometimes back, ie, whales).

    What do we lack in that? A few specific examples in various lineages (including the human "missing link"), the specific mechanism by which DNA arose. A tricky problem with chromosome counts (which, incidentally, the recent birth of a "zonkey" all but cinches). And that about covers the "gaps" in evolution, aside from very minor points of contention, the resolution of which would not affect the overall validity of the theory one bit.



    It bothers me that people seriouslly do not understand how complete of a theory we have in evolution. These people read a book, translated from the original language, patched together and "remixed" several times over the centuries, and not allowed to the general public for much of its history, kept "safe" by those who stood to gain the most by manipulating its contents - And people call that a complete, inviolable, sacred work. Then they look at the modern world, see the current political layout of the UK, and read hundreds of basically agreeing third-party accounts of the history thereof - but because the Bayeux tapestry has a few worm-holes in it, they refuse to believe the battle of Hastings ever occured.
  • Re:You know... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by node 3 (115640) on Friday May 06, 2005 @01:07PM (#12453123)
    In the most absolute sense, nothing is proveable and everything relies on faith.

    That's metaphysics, and is thus unprovable. You can't prove your axioms (by definition), but you can test them to see if they are reliably useful.

    How do I know that birds can fly? Because I see them flying?

    Yes, and the fact that every well-reasoned test you can come up with shows that birds do, in fact, fly. That's science.

    I talked to an ex-science teacher and his whole argument came down to "Occam's Razor". But how is this different from having your whole argument coming down to believing that "A God exists"? They both something that you are guiding your life on, either of which you really can't prove is correct/true/THE TRUTH.

    One of them (science) reliably describes and predicts the real world. The other (faith) does not. *That's* the difference, and it's a very crucial one. If you're sick, do you want a hospital, or a priest? If you are hungry, do you pray for manna, or do you seek food? If you want to fly to the Moon, do you start the Apollo program, or do you give up because scriptures say you can't get there?

    It all comes down to your axioms. Which axiom is more reliable for describing the universe: a holy book, voices in your head, mere speculation, or science?
  • Re:Wrong (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JohnFluxx (413620) on Friday May 06, 2005 @01:08PM (#12453156)
    There has been lots of hypothesis testing. One thing evolution predicted was animals with similar traits would have common dna fingerprints - a hypothesis that was given way before we could analyse DNA.
    There's been lots of hypotheses like that which should it is indeed falsiable.
  • by mabu (178417) on Friday May 06, 2005 @01:09PM (#12453166)
    I am troubled by the decision by scientific groups to boycott these hearings. Wouldn't it be better to take these arguments on squarely and address them on the merits?

    Normally, I'd agree with you, but I think that the intellectuals are taking a page from the religious zealot's handbook and choosing not to legitimize what they want to establish as a wholly ridiculous premise in the first place.

    If the right wingers play into the hands of the scientists, they'll use the lack of participation as evidence of their superiority, setting themselves up for a future, higher-profile confrontation that might embarass them even more. I think it's a good idea.

    It's about time the scientific community didn't come running each time the fundies jerked their chain.
  • Re:Wrong (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 06, 2005 @01:12PM (#12453226)
    I am flaming you. You are a moron.

    BTW, Law and Science are completely dissimilar, try to find examples that follow a similar process.
  • by Tom (822) on Friday May 06, 2005 @01:12PM (#12453232) Homepage Journal
    Over a long time, in an environment with light, development of the eye becomes almost assured.

    So much, in fact, that the idea was hit upon several times during evolution - we don't have one type of eyes on this planet, but well over a dozen. That's a crazy designer if you ask me ("now the insects, I think I'll give them completely different eyes, just for fun").

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 06, 2005 @01:15PM (#12453268)
    > The current definition does not allow Genesis to be considered since it states only "natural" explainations can be used (no positing a super-natural creator).

    Actually, I like the new definition.

    If you're not a scientist, you probably define the two words like this:
    Theory: "Someone's wild-assed guess. Same thing that some eggheads call a hypothesis." The opposite of Theory is "A Law", something that you believe has been proven to be true.
    Natural: "Something anybody can understand!" The opposite of Natural is "Synthetic", something eggheads in white coats invent.

    The scientific meaning of "theory" isn't the same as Joe Sixpack's meaning of "theory". This discrepancy allows Joe Sixpack to say "but evolution's just a theory".

    The scientific meaning of "natural" is also different from that of Joe Sixpack. How many times have you heard fundie freaks say things like "Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve! Because Adam and Steve isn't natural!" I'm sure if you asked a fundie, he'd say that because it's divinely inspired (and because he can understand it, and because that thar science stuff is too confusing to his itty bitty mind :), the Biblical account is the more natural explanation for how humans came to be.

  • I agree with most of what you say, and would mod you up if I had points. However I would suggest your following statement is not quite true:
    We've reached an era where superstition and fanatism have surpassed science and reason. To put it simply, fanatics can't accept science because that would mean their entire belief system is WRONG (cognitive dissonance anyone?).


    I suspect the true fear that fundamentalists have isn't of any set of facts or theories that current science proposes, as any set of static facts can be incorporated into a belief system. I believe what really makes them afraid is that any set of facts and theories proposed by science are subject to change at any time. A fundamentalist's views of the world around them can not tolerate a change of the facts and theories that he uses to understand the world. It is the promise of uncertainty and change that is always present in a scientific view of the world that he fears, not science's current explanations of how the world works.
    Ben
  • by Skjellifetti (561341) on Friday May 06, 2005 @01:15PM (#12453278) Journal
    Evolution is easily falsifiable. Just find a dead human inside a tyrannosaurus and the Theory of Evolution will have been falsified since the theory says this can't happen. As to hypothesis testing, Evolution provides many specific hypotheses that can be tested. Most of the biology journals are full of such tests. Indeed, much of modern biology simply would not exist without the Theory of Evolution.

    The "Theory" of Intelligent Design, on the other hand, is not falsifiable, is not a Theory as most philosophers of science define a Theory, and is not science.

    Evolution is based entirely on observation and theory building and has no hypothesis testing beyond showing simple species-specific traits can be passed along.

    Sounds like your high school was one of those where teaching Evolution was avoided, something all too common these days since many teachers are terrified of controversy. But instead of remaining ignorant, try reading a book by Richard Dawkins or Steven Jay Gould.
  • Re:You know... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PaxTech (103481) on Friday May 06, 2005 @01:16PM (#12453292) Homepage
    Applauding the murder of abortion doctors is hardly mainstream american christian conventional wisdom. Have you ever talked to a christian?

    Many of the attitudes I read on this subject from the supposedly tolerant non-religious people tend to be just as filled with ignorant hypocrisy as those of many religious people are.

    I believe the Bible says something about casting the first stone? Not that I'm religious, but there's some wisdom to be found in that.
  • by gowen (141411) <gwowen@gmail.com> on Friday May 06, 2005 @01:18PM (#12453325) Homepage Journal
    As a scientist, I'd like to think that if a supernatural explanation fits the evidence better than the alternatives, and enables us to make accurate predictions about future events (and is thus able to be invalidated by those predictions being incorrect), then it would eventually pass into the scientific mainstream.

    The Peace of God passeth all understanding, but then again, so does Quantum Field Theory.
  • Re:You know... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Durandal64 (658649) on Friday May 06, 2005 @01:18PM (#12453335)
    Intellegent design appeals to ignorance? You, Sir, are an idiot. So by your logic, if I see a chair and assume it was skillfully designed, I'm appealing to my ignorance? or the person to whom I'm describing it?
    Any evidence that humans were "skillfully designed"? Oh wait, never mind. There isn't any. You only assume that something was designed if its formation cannot be explained through natural mechanisms. The human body's functions and form can be adequately explained by evolutionary theory, hence there is no need for a "designer" term. Anyone yammering about "Oh well evolution doesn't explain the beauty and perfection ... bla bla bla" is simply appealing to poetry and ignorance (i.e. "You can't explain it, therefore my explanation must be true by default).
    Once again, folks, it's very simple. Everyone one wants to put everyone in a corner. If you're a Creationist, you're not a Scientist. If you're a scientist you're not a Creationist. As soon as someone produces an example to the contrary, someone cries fowl. There are scientific premises for Creationism as well as Evolution.
    Golden mean fallacy. Rather than examining the legitimacy of both sides, you label them as extremes and declare the truth to be somewhere in the middle. I hate to break it to you, but one side is just plain wrong. There are no scientific premises for a "theory" which has the Earth being created before the stars. Genesis is an allegory originally designed to keep women subservient to men and to make people feel ashamed of their naked bodies. It's not a scientific account of the formation of the universe, you dolt. Only morons actually think that it is.
    You don't have to be a Christian to believe that all this came from somewhere. You don't have to be a scientist to believe we're all here by chance. Don't show your ignorance by pigeon-holing everyone with your rhetoric.
    Physicists understand that our concepts of cause and effect break down when the universe is in a singularity state, as it was "prior" to the big bang. Time did not exist until the big bang created it. If you want to think of time as a giant cosmic clock, it didn't start ticking until an infinitesimally (or possibly smallest discrete time unit -- Planck Time) small interval after the big bang. So the universe has literally existed for all time. There is no need for a "first mover" or other such nonsense to explain any of it.
    Argue more intelligently or stfu.
    Pot, kettle, black.
  • by 2short (466733) on Friday May 06, 2005 @01:23PM (#12453426)
    I mostly agree with your sentiments, but:

    There is no problem with the majority of Christians in this country. The majority of them are nice folks, and while they beleive some things I think are kooky, they're not too pushy about it.

    The problem is with the vocal minority of Christians who think they speak for a lot more people than they do, just because they call themselves Christian.
    Quick test for whether they are the problematic kind: Do they insist on refering to themselves only as "Christian" even in contexts where refering to a particular denomination would make more sense? To pick a random example, Lutherans generally have no problem with the fact that what they beleive is slightly different that what Presbyterians (sp?) beleive, even though they are both Christian. Watch out for the ones who know that there own beleifs are the true Christianity.
    Anyway, the problem with the problematic kind is the same as the problem with all religious extremists. It's the arrogance. They beleive whatever they want to, but they refuse to admit that. Rather they posit that what they beleive is not what they wish, but what GOD wishes. If they just thought I disagreed with them, that would be one thing. But if I disagree with GOD, that's a different matter! No point in considering what I have to say in that case, heck it would probably be wrong to even listen. And the actions that might be justifiable in forcing ones own opinion on others are rather limited; at least compared to what's reasonable when enacting the will of GOD.

  • Re:Wrong (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sketerpot (454020) <sketerpotNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday May 06, 2005 @01:24PM (#12453435)
    The reason science doesn't concern itself with anything supernatural is because it is impossible, by definition, to observe scientifically what the supernatural is or is not doing. Science's insistance on natural explanations is hard-headed pragmatism, not an a priori declaration of philosophical naturalism.
  • by BeBoxer (14448) on Friday May 06, 2005 @01:29PM (#12453510)
    OK, but your anti-religion preaching has no place in schools either.

    How is teaching science "anti-religion preaching"? Not unless your religion is one based on illogic. Say by claiming that evolution is too complex to happen on it's own, and then accepting without question an even more complex and powerful force. Where did God come from anyway? "Intelligent Design" is not about finding answers. It's about denying questions.
  • by glassware (195317) on Friday May 06, 2005 @01:32PM (#12453558) Homepage Journal
    Science will never present us with a peer-reviewed study proving once and for all that you should be good to your fellow man

    Interesting claim! I have two ideas that may spark some discussion.

    Economics is a form of science, and one interesting branch of economic study is the study of cooperation. Some economists study this through statistics and computer modeling (http://www.brook.edu/es/dynamics/models/pd.htm [brook.edu]). Some economists and psychologists study this through models of happiness (http://www.quebecoislibre.org/05/050415-16.htm [quebecoislibre.org]). Some study this through research into primate behavior (http://www.primates.com/monkeys/fairness.html [primates.com]). The general consensus is that, although a free economic system requires there to be some level of competition, cooperation and mutual assistance are innately bred into us by natural selection, since it helps us achieve things we could not achieve alone.

    Philosophy, the study of thought that gave rise to modern scientific theory (http://www.constitution.org/bacon/nov_org.htm [constitution.org]), has always been capable of tackling these moral issues. Some of the the best writing on the topic of justice includes John Rawls "Justice as Fairness" (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/067 4005112/002-0144128-7693626?v=glance [amazon.com]), in which he argues that the best possible society is one in which we are all treated fairly. He has a pretty clever way of defining fairness, too. If you dislike Rawls, there are tons of other philosophers to choose from who have created logical arguments for treating men justly - Socrates and Locke are two others you may wish to read, or Hospers if you're into the libertarian thing (although his vision of fairness can occasionally sound a little like the mindless pursuit of wealth).

    Science is a process that we can use to evaluate ideas through objective criteria. It makes no difference whether those ideas are biological, astronomical, legal, or moral. As long as we have an objective, measurable goal, we can use the scientific method to try to better understand which ideas work and which ideas don't.

    To respond to your rhetorical questions, yes, economics does show us that there is a lot to be gained by eliminating hunger. Philosophy and ethical theory does indeed show us that we can achieve more if we pursue our interests living within a just and fair social framework.

    What does make me very sad is when people say that you cannot be a good, moral person if you don't believe in God. Neither one causes the other.

  • by paranode (671698) on Friday May 06, 2005 @01:33PM (#12453591)
    Santa Claus is claimed to live at the North Pole and common lore dispells his existence as nothing more than a story. We can go to the North Pole and we won't find him, we can observe out chimneys and we won't see him.

    The universe and its origins, on the other hand, have NO provable theory behind them. To say that all around us was designed by an intelligent 'creator' is just as valid a theory as saying it 'just happened'. Neither one can ultimately be proven to the satisfaction of scientific standards at this point in time. There is evidence that a God exists, but there isn't proof. Likewise there is evidence that evolution is real and that we may have been derived from some single-celled organism which came from a big bang and chaos and so forth, but there isn't absolute proof of that either. Neither theory satisfactorily answers the questions it poses, like 'Who created God?' or 'What was before this big bang?'

    A proper analogy would enter the realm of the unknown. Scientist 1 says 'I think this is the complex way all matter works based on my tests and nothing disproves this so far.' Scientist 2 can say 'Well I have a different theory, based on my observations' but it is stupid and meaningless for him to say 'Yeah well there's no proof that invisible flying elephants don't exist but we don't believe that now do we!?!'

  • by pomo monster (873962) on Friday May 06, 2005 @01:33PM (#12453602)
    I resent your crude application of postmodernism to justify equating faith and science.
  • Re:You know... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gowen (141411) <gwowen@gmail.com> on Friday May 06, 2005 @01:34PM (#12453615) Homepage Journal
    What makes you think he needs your approval?
    He can believe anything he likes. It only becomes an issue when he attempts to teach it to my children.
  • Re:You know... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Coryoth (254751) on Friday May 06, 2005 @01:36PM (#12453656) Homepage Journal
    Applauding the murder of abortion doctors is hardly mainstream american christian conventional wisdom. Have you ever talked to a christian?

    And much of what the Taliban did was hardly mainstream Afghani muslim conventional wisdom. Have you even talked to a muslim?

    The Taliban practiced a particularly severe and fundamentalist version of Islam that is in no way representative of Islam in general, nor even of Afghani muslim's in general. The Taliban are gone, many Afghani's celebrate that fact, but they are all still muslims, and they all still practice their beliefs - they just aren't the extremnist interpretations of the Taliban anymore.

    Jedidiah.
  • by werewolf1031 (869837) on Friday May 06, 2005 @01:39PM (#12453713)
    Though I am an athiest, I don't see how an understanding and acknowledgement of evolution in any way conflicts with the idea that there is some supreme being.

    Very well said. And as someone who just happens to believe in God and has been a hard-core science enthusiest my entire life, I've long ago come to the conclusion that there is no conflict between science and religion. As someone else pointed out here, this is largely an imaginary debate that the over-zealous fundimentalists wish to invent so as to impose their beliefs upon others. The bible isn't a history book, nor is it a science textbook, it's a book about a philosophy of life.

    Personally I hate what the fundies are doing. This kind of behavior only serves to bring an unnecessary backlash against the many religious people who strive for peaceful coexistance with all, who don't wear their religion on their sleeve, and who have no desire to impose beliefs upon others.

    As for this idiotic notion by the fundies that fossils were put in the ground by God to test our faith... Hello? What kind of misleading, deceptive god do you worship?

    Great quote from a fellow /.-er: "Keep your stickers out of my science book; I don't paste crap in your bible." Nuf said.

  • Re:You know... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Temsi (452609) on Friday May 06, 2005 @01:42PM (#12453765) Journal
    Exactly. We're so stuck in our perspective of the universe. We see the world from this tiny little speck of dust in the universe, and we think the rest of the world must behave exactly the same as what we see.
    Something is moving, thus someone must have pushed it. That's the general consensus among Intelligent Design advocates. So, basically, they're thinking backwards from what we can do. We design complex things, thus all complex things must have a designer.

    The Universe is far more complex than any of us will ever even realize simply because there are things we can never see or measure. We'll never figure it out if we continue to measure everything against what we already know and accept as the 'norm'.
    Well, accepting the norm is what lead us to believe the world was flat. Challenging the norm is what proved it isn't.
    Abstract thinking is what leads to breakthroughs... thinking inside the box only limits you to what's already in the box.

    Basically, the problem I see with creationists, beside the horrific implications of an impending theocracy, is the fact that they're not open to new ideas or reasoning. They start out with a preconceived notion, and then work their way backwards - kinda like Ken Starr.

    Scratch an Intelligent Design advocate, and you'll find a devoutly religious creationist whose idea of "supernatural creator" is almost always the judeo-christian God of The Bible.

    Thus, they start out from that idea, and since science has proven them wrong on pretty much everything else, they hold on for dear life to the only thing that can't been explained or observed: "the beginning" - that immeasurable moment in which the atoms of the universe started moving.

    Of course, it is beyond our comprehension to even imagine something without a beginning or an end. The problem with that is, we tend to ask questions like "what happened before the big bang?".
    Well, if time is an abstract idea thought up by mankind, in order to explain the relationship between the movements of atomic particles, then we can safely say that there was no "before" before the big bang. Without atomic movement, there is no time. Thus, the question itself is irrelevant and only serves to distract us from explaining what happened afterwards, i.e. evolution (of the world, not just species).
    When we accept that notion, realizing that something can start by itself without outside influence, is not such a big leap.

    I strongly suggest anyone here who has even the slightest interest in the evolution vs. creation argument buy a subscription to Skeptical Inquirer magazine. There have been many great articles about the misconceived notions of evolution, the myths and half-truths about it, and of course, the utter fallacy of creationism.

    As you, and others pointed out, anything capable of creating something as complex as the universe, must itself be complex enough to need a designer, setting in motion an endless loop of creations, leaving us no closer to an answer - and probably further from it as our attention has been diverted.
    ID and creationism is not a scientific theory. It's a disguised attempt to get the book of Genesis back into the public school system.
    Anything which relies on a catch-all explanation such as a supernatural creator, by definition is not a scientific theory, as the catch-all is an easy out from a situation you cannot explain through other means.
  • by dual_boot_brain (854259) on Friday May 06, 2005 @01:53PM (#12453950)
    1. It isn't "your" government, its "our" government.

    2. You are already free to practice your religon, you're just not free to shove you belief system down other peoples throats.

    You want your children to learn about creation, fine teach it in Sunday school or at home. Until you allow secular evolution to be taught as a valid theory in Sunday School, don't complain about creationism not being taught in public schools.

  • by pamri (251945) on Friday May 06, 2005 @01:55PM (#12453997) Homepage
    That is an oversimplification. The generally accepted Hindu theory of the origin of the universe is the one mentioned in the Rig Veda [wikipedia.org], which many Indians pride on being close to modern scientific theories. Carl Sagan, in his Cosmos, states that the Hindu religion is not only the only religion that is dedicated to the idea that the cosmos itself undergoes infinite deaths & rebirths but also its time scales correspond to modern cosmology. Both [indolink.com] these [unesco.org] articles provide a better overview (although the first one is a sort of advertorial, it is bang on.)

    On topic, I agree with the point you made. Each & every religion & civilisations had their own theories about the universe's existence and more or less, some of them may be premonitory and some exaggerated, so its quite stupid to claim the Bible/Quran/Rig Veda/etc is the sole truth.

  • "logical argument" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sum.zero (807087) on Friday May 06, 2005 @01:58PM (#12454034)
    imho, it appears they are explicitly trying to give equal value to exercises in "logic" as is given to the other criteria.

    this is properly called philosophy.

    sum.zero
  • by bombadillo (706765) on Friday May 06, 2005 @02:04PM (#12454126)
    Exactly, then you realize God is just a dumbed down explenation for the complex physical and chemical reactions in the Universe.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 06, 2005 @02:08PM (#12454179)
    Given we share about 90% of our genetic code with monkeys, and we even share some genetic sequences with plants, I find it hard to believe all of life is NOT related. Evolution is the most rational way to explain it thus far.

    DNA and RNA protein sequences are the basis of life, not wind, fire, water and earth. I'd like to point out to these creationists those four elements, as well as a flat earth, were the prevailing theories at the time of the bible's inception. Do they want to teach those theories as well? If so, why not? I bet they'd rather pick and choose.

    Science is where we chip away at reality until we discover truth, not dogma.
  • Re:Wrong (Score:5, Insightful)

    by richieb (3277) <richieb@NosPaM.gmail.com> on Friday May 06, 2005 @02:09PM (#12454200) Homepage Journal
    The key will be "observation, hypothesis testing, measurement, experimentation, logical argument and theory building" since Evolution is based entirely on observation and theory building and has no hypothesis testing beyond showing simple species-specific traits can be passed along

    You don't know much about evolution, do you? Before you dismiss the entire field you should study it little more.

    For example, evolution nicely explains the following:

    • Why are there 10 species of zebra in Africa, but none in Australia?
    • Why are there mammals?

    If you want to see evolution in action, read up on the evolution of the AIDS virus. Just be cause you can't understand it, it does not mean it is wrong.

  • Re:You know... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dun Malg (230075) on Friday May 06, 2005 @02:16PM (#12454297) Homepage
    What doesn't match Genesis is the current ideas on how planets form... Genesis says that the Earth formed first, and then the Sun, moon, and stars formed.

    If you view it on a larger scale instead of the earth-sun scale, it makes more sense. Large clouds of scattering matter coalescing into semi-solid bodies or dense clouds here and there. After a while, hydrogen clouds collapse in on themselves and ignite into stars. No reason why "earth" and "sun" have to be taken at their strict literal meanings.

  • by CaymanIslandCarpedie (868408) on Friday May 06, 2005 @02:16PM (#12454303) Journal
    Gotta start using preview ;-)

    Santa Claus is claimed to live at the North Pole and common lore dispells his existence as nothing more than a story. We can go to the North Pole and we won't find him, we can observe out chimneys and we won't see him.

    God is claimed to be all around us and a large segment of current thought dispells his existence as nothing more than a story. We can go to a church and we won't find him, we can observe into the heavens and we won't see him.

    OK now that the post looks better I ask again, what is the difference in these two?
  • by macdaddy (38372) * on Friday May 06, 2005 @02:16PM (#12454310) Homepage Journal
    Not everyone in Kansas is a back-woods Bible-thumping hillbilly that can't tolerate evolution and supports these intolerant actions. There are many people in Kansas who may or may not believe in evolution due to their personal spiritual beliefs but are reasonable/tolerant enough to not object to it being taught in schools. So the favor I'm asking is this: Don't lump all Kansans into the same boat when you're referring to the actions of the intolerant. I'm sure you don't like it when a European refers to a war-loving American anymore than all Kansans like being called a Bible-thumping hillbilly.
  • Circular Logic (Score:2, Insightful)

    by FunkyMonkey (79263) on Friday May 06, 2005 @02:23PM (#12454415)
    1. The universe must have been created by an intelligent designer because it's too complex to explain any other way.
    2. The designer's existance can't even be proven let alone explained. Period.

    So how is it that the only way to explain the universe is by the existance of a "Designer" who's existance can't be explained?

    Intelligent Design is nothing more than identity theft. Creationists were kicked out of the schools and they think that replacing the word "God" with "Intelligent Designer" somehow makes thier belief secular and scientific.

    I've got a novel idea...

    Teach science in school.
    Teach religion in church.

    I think the reason creationists are unable to play by these rules is quite obvious: they aren't concerned about teaching their own children, they are concerned about teaching YOUR children.
  • by AK Marc (707885) on Friday May 06, 2005 @02:24PM (#12454434)
    There is evidence that a God exists,

    Really? The absence of a sutable scientific theory does not constitute evidence that there is some supernatural force. Aside from "science fails us in this instance" arguments, what evidence is there that there is a God? Have you seen him? Did he release a video of his commandments? There is no real "evidence" that I've ever seen, other than "well, there is no better theory."

    Of course, that doesn't mean that there isn't a god, but only that there is no actual evidence.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 06, 2005 @02:26PM (#12454457)
    Feynman says something along these lines, if I recall (and I might not recall properly)...

    He says that you could make a theory that planets move because angels push them. But this doesn't explain anything, because we don't have a good theory of angel dynamics. If you can develop one, then you have an explaination.

    Similar to the "the universe exists because God created it argument"... how did God show up?
  • by quarkscat (697644) on Friday May 06, 2005 @02:26PM (#12454458)
    The term is either "Reverse Evolution" or "Devolution", of which I prefer the latter. Considering the "devolving" state of American democracy these days, we will have apples that fall up. Reversed word meanings have already gotten out of hand. We currently have "compassionate conservative" (also an oxymoron), "neo-conservative" (not new or conservative), "imminent danger" from Iraqi WMD, "fiscal responsibility" ('nuff said), and a SS "crisis" (only in the sense that neo-cons abhor it). Next, no doubt, the Department of Defense will be renamed to the Department of Peace.

    Welcome to "1984", which is only 20 years late because RM Nixon lost the 1960 Presidential election, and Goldwater didn't "make the cut" in 1964.
  • God's cool. God created us. God tried to mollycoddle us in the Garden of Eden. What did we do? Told him to STFU and did our own thing.

    Actually, Douglas Adams' take makes more sense to me:

    "Your God person puts an apple tree in the middle of a garden and says do what you like guys, oh, but don't eat the apple. Surprise surprise, they eat it and he leaps out from behind a bush shouting `Gotcha'. It wouldn't have made any difference if they hadn't eaten it."

    "Why not?"

    "Because if you're dealing with somebody who has the sort of mentality which likes leaving hats on the pavement with bricks under them you know perfectly well they won't give up. They'll get you in the end."
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 06, 2005 @02:42PM (#12454699)
    oh well
  • by nick_davison (217681) on Friday May 06, 2005 @02:43PM (#12454711)
    Since when did the bible become the [direct] word of God?

    The Old Testament, in a few parts, maybe. Moses got the ten commandments directly from God. The [hi]story of that event, along with the words from those commandments, then got passed down by the Jews as the book of Exodus. God didn't write the book, it's not his direct words. His words may be quoted in parts but most of it is just the Jews retelling the [hi]stories of the events.

    The book of Psalms isn't even that. It's basically songs made up by various religious folk in honor of their God.

    So, for the Old Testament, the Jews themselves see it as true stories about people's interactions with God. As far as I'm aware, no one seriously claims God sat there and directed it to be written, word for word, according to his wishes - they're the words of individuals used to describe the [hi]stories of those who did interact with God.

    It seems kind of ironic that [some - you don't get to speak for all] Christians would take a book that even those who wrote it don't claim is the direct word of God (simply a recounting of the interactions with God) and then somehow, magically, make it become God's word after the event. That, to me, sounds a lot like narrow minded people trying to make something up to self-justify. And that's not what true Christianity's supposed to be about.

    OK, on to the New Testament. A series of gospels written by the people who experienced God's son. Again, they're [hi]stories written by people who were there (if you disregard the evidence that suggests they were retold orally for about three hundred years before actually getting written down) and not the direct word of God.

    So, as we have people writing accounts, not God directly writing through them, quite where do they become the direct word of God anymore than a blogger recounting an audience with the Pope is writting the direct word of the Pope? We'd laugh at the blogger making such claims, yet somehow it's OK to make them about the bible?

    Then there's the fairly strong evidence that suggests the gospels were fairly selectively edited around 300 A.D. to suit political will at the time. So even if they were God's word, they likely stopped being a direct version at that point anyway.

    And all of this is before the translations and retranslations that have happened for the last fifteen hundred years or so. Each and every one of those translations shows the bias of the author. I've got an old bible that belonged to my great grandmother that says, "And I shall call you wo-man because you come from man and you are here to serve man" Strangely that passage isn't in most versions - it's something that got interpretted in as it was translated.

    So... Even if you believe the stories the bible is about were real events and not allegories that, over time, people came to believe to be real events... You're taking a book which the original authors never claimed to be the direct word of God and then choosing to believe it is in order to justify, in many cases, petty prejudices that some tiny justification can be found for by interpretting and interpretation of an interpretation in one way.

    If you can understand where someone is coming from, maybe we can get past the hate and learn to agree to disagree.

    I completely agree. Unfortunately, those who do rabidly believe the bible is the direct word of God use their own belief (which most others don't share) to attempt to justify why their beliefs should become laws, be taught to children etc. Unfortunately, those people have a tendency to then believe, "Well, as [my chosen interpretation] is the direct word of God, it can't be argued. Thus I'm right, you're wrong, there can be no debate." That creates just as big a problem.

    When the bible is used to justify people being healthy members of society, doing good etc., I'm all for stepping back and letting them believe it just as thoroughly as they want.

    When the bib
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 06, 2005 @02:49PM (#12454791)
    There are two groups in this battle. There is but one real difference between them.

    The difference is that one group can be comfortable not knowing everything and the other can't.

    Evolution is a theory not because it hasn't been proven but because theories are very complex interactions between a whole crapload of different things. You'll never completely understand any theory 100%. Plate tectonics is a theory. So is gravity and electromagnetism. Should we stop teaching those since they are merely "theories"? The argument to not teach evolution has no logic behind it, but since religion must always be devoid of logic to exist it makes sense.

    The difference between the two sides is that one group of people can say "I don't know everything and I'm going to keep looking for as long as it takes." The other group can't accept the fact that they don't know everything and fill in the missing pieces with mythology.

    So basically this whole fight is between people who are comfortable enough with themselves to accept that they don't know everything and people who's insecurity forces them to fill in the blanks with God.

    It's just a damn repeat of grammar school!
  • by tgibbs (83782) on Friday May 06, 2005 @02:51PM (#12454818)
    here is an entire organization of them: http://www.icr.org/creationscientists/biologicalsc [icr.org] ientists.html

    What is notable about creation "scientists" is that they never seem to accomplish anything of note in biology. Hardly any of them have publications in major scientific peer-reviewed journals. None have won any of the major scientific awards. While scientists who use evolution as a research tool are making discoveries not merely in evolution, but in fields as far afield as biochemistry, genetics, pharmacology, and molecular biology, creation "scientists" don't seem to do anything but creation science. The ultimate test of a theory is how useful it is in providing a basis for discovery. Many scientists don't even care about evolutionary issues per se, any more than they care about number theory. They use evolutionary theory for the same reason that they use mathematics--because their experience has shown them that it is an indispensable tool in their own area of study.
  • by Loundry (4143) on Friday May 06, 2005 @02:53PM (#12454843) Journal
    You may not believe this, but don't critisize others when they follow their own beliefs.

    When Christians follow their beliefs they tend to write and support amendments to state constitutions that prevent gay people from having "any benefits of marriage." As a gay, adoptive parent in a 9-year committed relationship, what does that mean for my family?

    Does it invalidate my partner and mine's co-parent adoption of our adopted son? Will it render illegal the partner benefits that my partner and I receive from my company? It's sad to say, but many Christians would happily have both of those things taken from us because they view our relationship as counterfeit and abhorrent to their god, and many other Christians won't lift a finger to stop them since they have more important priorities than getting the gay-bashers out of their religion. The gay-bashing Christians are only following their beliefs, so why should I complain?

    So, Christian, I respond to you: Agreeing to disagree is unacceptable because your people attack my family through the force of the state. I openly and unashamedly reject your evil religion and your evil god. Since you worship a baby-killing [biblegateway.com], abortionist [biblegateway.com] god, you have no room whatsoever to criticize my morality. I will continue to criticize, mock, and reject your religion as long as Christians choose to use their religion as the excuse to criticize, mock, and reject me. Fair enough?
  • Re: I like it (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Black Parrot (19622) on Friday May 06, 2005 @03:01PM (#12454975)


    > I am very anti-creationist, but I actually like their definition more. It recognizies that there isn't always a "natural" answer to the problems that science faces given the current information.

    That's true, but it's a simple fact that science can't deal in supernatural answers.

    Supernatural aswers are useless you can invent an arbitrary supernatural explanation for any set of observations. The world is round because Iluvatar got bent. Earthquakes happen because The Great Kirby causes them. You need to be tortured because Jebus told me you do.

    Like it or not, science is stuck with natural explanations and "I don't know".

    And like the halting problem, there's no way of distinguishing between "I don't know, because there isn't any natural explanation" and "I don't know, because I haven't found the natural explanation". But when you start making up supernatural explanations, you've quit doing science. That is the 'problem' that religious conservatives want to define away.

  • by fikx (704101) on Friday May 06, 2005 @03:05PM (#12455034) Journal
    At what point did we quit trying to find an answer to problems and start picking a good answer and just assuming it right? I though progress in science and progress in general was about finding answers. reading the arguments in the TFA and even reading the replies here it looks like we gave up on finding answers and just picked some and decided to work just enough to find some proof for those. I think we forgot something along the way...
    Yeah, science has theories but the point of a theory is to make a mark in the sand until we can get far enough to make another mark.
  • by AK Marc (707885) on Friday May 06, 2005 @03:05PM (#12455035)
    Christianity (and many other religions) centers its philosophy around relationships

    There is another group (that seems popular on slashdot) that thinks life is all about knowledge.

    You lost me. Why isn't it that one group is about God and other knowledge? You can put relationships first or second in either. That is a separate variable. I would agree that someone that values relationships and one of the other two would be better off than someone that doesn't value relationships. But that doesn't turn it into a God/knowledge comparison.
  • Re:Wrong (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Catbeller (118204) on Friday May 06, 2005 @03:13PM (#12455187) Homepage
    Science can't win as a supernatural investigations agent, because whatever they investigate is defined by non-scientists as "natural"; "supernature" is defined as anything not conducive to investigation. If a scientist actually detected a free-standing, self-perpetuating EM field that consists of the surviving personality of a dead man, it wouldn't be "supernatural" to the religionists. The Supernature crowd would redefine the term to not-include ghosts; it would merely be the physical remnant of the person, in a state prepatory to going to God at a later time. Infinite regression, as they have done so many times before. And the carnival would go on.

    This isn't about truth, or logic. The Biblists believe their reading of the book, American Southern Fundie standard, IS THE TRUTH, and that is THAT. Everything they do is sophistry aimed at their ultimate goal of remaking science and society and politics into a Dominionist utopia. And ending the world, of course.
  • by Shadwhawk (561728) on Friday May 06, 2005 @03:14PM (#12455194)
    The problem is that there really is no simple, concise, and clear way to demonstrate to the average person that creationists are full of bunk. Where a creationist can just say "My grandpappy ain't no monkey!" or "Duane Gish, Ph.D, says that the Grand Canyon could be carved out by the Flood" or "Junkyard + tornado = 747 same odds as creating life randomly" or "They eye doesn't work unless it's whole! Impossible to evolve!", to effectively rebutt such ridiculous statements, you have to go on for paragraphs or pages. The people who buy these statements are the least likely to be interested in a long response, and, frankly, are unlikely to understand it well enough to see how it applies.

    And public creationist debaters are good public debaters. They may fail miserably in a formal debate format, but in front of normal crowds, they rule the day. Short, sarcastic comments and pointed questions from a hundred different topics (a creationist has no problem jumping from the Flood Geology to Abiogenesis to Eye evolution to missing links) are winners in this format. The opponent, almost always a scientist in a specific discipline, can usually easily rebutt one of the creationist's topics, but by that point, the creationist will ignore that topic and harp on others the scientist doesn't have specific training in. How's a geologist going to counter points in evolutionary biochemistry?
    The crowds are bussed in from local churches and they cheer at everything the creationist says.

    In the world of science, the creationists lost big-time, and lost a long time ago. There's absolutely no question.
    In the world of the public, the scientists are fighting a losing battle against the Word of God. Short of a revolution in religion in this country, that won't change.
  • by joeyblades (785896) on Friday May 06, 2005 @03:16PM (#12455223)

    Sorry, I find it very difficult to get worked up by any of this anymore.

    Any truely objective observer will note that the most vocal supporters of teaching evolution in schools also have an atheistic agenda. Is it any wonder that writers like Dawkins draw all of the Creationists with their theistic agendas out of the woodwork like cockroaches? There are crackpots on both sides, each with their own non-scientific agendas, and they tend to be the most vocal.

    Truth be told, if textbooks were written with objective science in mind, neither side would be happy with the results.

    If you're really worried about the science that your kids are exposed to in school, I recommend that you pick up an average middle school or high school textbook on natural sciences. Ignore everything to do with evolution. Instead, check out the sections on cosmology, genetics, biology, physics, environment,... Trust me, the theory of evolution is the least of your worries!
  • Re:Agree (Score:5, Insightful)

    by IceAgeComing (636874) on Friday May 06, 2005 @03:17PM (#12455246)
    You have to look at it from the other angle. What do the creationists get out of apparently tightening up the definition of science?

    Answer: They're trying to use the strength of science against it.


    But you leave out the real answer to "why". Kansas is mostly rural. Science class is one of the only places a young mind is exposed to scientific, i.e. logical, thinking. If they can teach ID instead of science, the chance for the student's thinking to evolve along rational lines is removed.

    Why is this good? Conservative ideology, especially of the Christian Right, is hard to swallow completely if you're a rational person (same goes for any ideology to some extent). Rational people typically question authority more than those who swallow simple sound bites and go back to watching the Country Music Channel.

    So this tempest is REALLY ABOUT KEEPING PEOPLE STUPID AND EASILY MANIPULATED.

    There. That's how I see it.

  • by Grishnakh (216268) on Friday May 06, 2005 @03:18PM (#12455253)
    You're no scholar; you're an idiot. Eratosthenes calculated the Earth's diameter with only 4% error 2200 years ago, and before him, both Aristotle and Pythagoras believed the earth to be round. What "great scientists" are you referring to?

    Of course scientists are usually wrong. That's why they create hypotheses and test them. When they prove them wrong, they create new hypotheses based on the new evidence. That's what science is about: a search for truth. What you're proposing is abandoning this and saying "we don't need to search for the truth, because it's written right here in this book that the world was created in 7 days."

    My opinion of Kansas just fell another notch after reading this drivel. Apparently, it's not just the morons in the school system of Kansas that are stupid, it's the rest of the population as well.
  • by Qzukk (229616) on Friday May 06, 2005 @03:18PM (#12455256) Journal
    "If your enemy hungers, feed him. If he thirsts, offer him cold water to drink. In doing so you pile hot coals upon his head."

    And if your enemy teaches your children, don't expect your children to follow your beliefs.

    Thats what is at stake here and why both sides are fighting tooth and nail. Scientists can demonstrate evolution on a small scale, and the fundamentalists are scared that the scientists will teach this to their children. In turn, fundamentalists want to bend the education system to their will, and the scientists are scared that their children will become stupid sheep, rather than more scientists.
  • by Valdrax (32670) on Friday May 06, 2005 @03:24PM (#12455365)
    Since it wasn't 100%, I'd say that your ability to interpret statistics is a little lacking if you're in fact claiming that all Southerners are "uneducated, superstitious/religious, or inherently unintelligent." The two strongest states for support of Bush were western states -- Utah and Wyoming. In the good 'ol antebellum South, no state gave Kerry less than 36% of the vote, with most Southern states hovering at about 40%. By your own limited litmus test for "intelligence," around 40% of Southerners meet the criteria.

    Your own state only gave Kerry 53%. (I assume you're from Washington by your nick.) In essence, only 12% more of your population is "intelligent" than people from Georgia, and roughly half of your population is just as "dumb."

    Of course, all this stereotyping and bigotry only reveals your own narrow, uneducated worldview. There are plenty of dumb, uneducated Democrats (think inner-city demographics) just as there are plenty of educated Republicans (think most business leaders). There are plenty of religious people who are Democrats because of their desire to help the downtrodden, and there are plenty of atheist Republicans who care most about taxes and deregulation. There are many Democrats held their nose and voted for Bush, and there are many Republicans who held their nose and voted for Kerry.

    Actually, people like you share a lot in common with people like Bush. You seem to think that a majority (even a slim one) complete defines the characteristics of a region. The minority matters too, so take your condescending attitude and shove it. Democrats live in the South too, and we're tired of being lumped into the same group as our most obnoxious citizens, and we're also tired of having many of our friends we don't agree with on politics lumped in with them too.
  • by BeBoxer (14448) on Friday May 06, 2005 @03:28PM (#12455427)
    I would argue that its more like saying _+_=2 isn't math.

    And you would, once again, be wrong. All interesting math involves unknowns and solving for them. X+Y=2 is most certainly math. Algebra to be specific.

    You admit yourself that evolution could be dead wrong, yet we still want to base all our scientific research on it?

    No, I don't admit it could be dead wrong. Evolution does happen. That's a fact. It's directly observable in a number of instances, such as when bacteria evolve resistence to novel anti-biotics. There is a lot to learn, and some particular details of our theories are almost certainly wrong, but there isn't any doubt about the basic nature of genetics.

    Then ask what would be different in our research if base it on a creator?

    It would be intentionally ignoring part of the problem. ID is logically equivalent to simply saying that we were put here by aliens and then refusing to study the origin of the aliens. Or are you proposing that we will engage in a scientific search for God? Attempt to observe and quantify his fundamental nature? Pray tell, how are the ID supporters doing in their scientific study of the nature of God?

    The nature of the fundamentalist movement and the neo-cons is exploitation by the powerful of those who accept things on faith without evidence. You are being used for your votes because you can be easily suckered into believeing lies. Because you can be suckered into believing warmongers and capital punishment supporters believe in a "culture of life". Because you can be suckered into believing that claiming part of a scientific theory should be considered beyond investigation somehow makes that theory more scientific.

    The fact that people like you have somehow convinced yourselves that you are doing the work of Jesus when you believe the lies of thieves and death-dealers disgusts me. How you believe that God is smiling upon a gluttunous rape of natural resources is beyond me. To believe that corporations (a creation of the State) somehow deserve rights and moral standing equivalent to human beings (a creation of your God, right?) is beyond me.

    The parable YOU quoted is quite appropriate. For it is YOU who sees without seeing. You see the sprawl in Olathe. The paving over of nature. The destruction of God's work by man's work. And yet you smile on it. You don't truely see it. A pathetic sheep who believes what he is told no matter how unbelievable it is.

  • Re:You know... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Durandal64 (658649) on Friday May 06, 2005 @03:32PM (#12455491)
    give me concrete scientific proof that one side is completely wrong. it doesn't exist. scientific theories exist, but concrete proof does not.
    Proof of a negative fallacy. Concrete proof is not needed to show that creationists are completely full of shit.
    many of the world's greatest scientists believe in a god of some sort.
    And many do not. This is not relevant.
    as for life being created, how did it happen? if humans were truly evolved completely from apes, without the help of anything else, how do apes still exist? in fact, how do any other animals still exist? or is your scientific theory that one day the world will be nothing but humans?
    Because evolution happens on smaller scales. You obviously don't understand evolution at all. Try reading science textbooks instead of 10-page creationist pamphlets. Here's a scenario for you. A farmer is spraying his crops with pesticides fairly often. After a few months of this, he notices that his crops are still being eaten, despite the broad use of pesticides.

    What happened here? Can God explain that one? Nope, but evolution sure can. By liberally applying pesticides, the farmer killed off the proportion of the insect population that was not resistant to the pesticide. However, some members of that population had a gene which granted them a resistance to the pesticide. By killing off the members of the population without the resistant gene, the members with that gene grew to encompass a larger proportion of the population than their vulnerable brothers. So the members of the population with that gene reproduced and began dominating the population of insects. So now, almost every insect in the farmer's field is resistant to his pesticide, and they can eat his crops unimpeded unless he uses another pesticide.

    This happens all the time in the real world. This is a big problem for farmers and pesticides. And it exists because of evolution. If you take a bunch of scenarios similar to this one and line them up over billions of years, you get massive changes among different populations.

    How about this one? Why do human beings exist with different features all around the globe? Bible bashers can't explain that one. (Well they can, with the reasoning that God marked darker-skinned people as being subservient to whites.) Evolution, however, can. Black people generally have wider noses and darker skin for a reason: it allows them to breathe more easily because their environment was Africa, a really fucking hot place where the air pressure was significantly lower. So those members of their population which could take in larger quantities of air through their noses fared better and eventually became a dominant proportion of the population. Contrary to what racists might tell you, it is not because "black people are closer to apes."
    please enlighten me to your concrete evidence. i'm really interested in learning.
    Your sarcasm and parroting of creation "science" pamphlets says differently.
    disclaimer: i am not a practicing christian, nor am i even remotely a creationist. i am just a curious mind interested in hearing all sides of things before making up my mind about anything. concrete evidence is the only thing that will sway me in one direction or the other, and since religion has no concrete evidence, science surely must... but i have yet to see any.
    Evidence for evolution exists everywhere around you. It is an observed process. The concept of evolution is central to any field that deals with biology, from agriculture to medical science. Ever wonder why doctors recommend against using anti-bacterial soap unless absolutely necessary? Because it kills off the weaker bacteria while allowing stronger ones to survive and multiply.
  • by Grishnakh (216268) on Friday May 06, 2005 @03:36PM (#12455556)
    Sorry, I have to disagree with this sentiment.

    I'm an American. But when Europeans refer to "war-loving" Americans, or overweight Americans, I have no cause to complain. I am both against the Iraq war, and I have no weight problem, so I don't take any such comments personally because I know that I'm in the minority of Americans that doesn't conform to these valid stereotypes.

    However, I must accept that the majority of Americans do conform to these stereotypes, and therefore this is why they exist. If I don't like this, there's nothing I can do to change the behavior of my countrymen, although I could move to a country with fewer overweight warmongerers.

    The reason people create these regional stereotypes is because majorities of populations in certain places follow certain behaviors. For the US, it's going to Wal-Mart and getting fat. For Kansas, apparently it's trying to brainwash kids with creationism. Intentionally ignoring the regions in which certain behaviors are prevalent, just to avoid offending minorities, does no one any favors.

  • Re:Really? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fyngyrz (762201) on Friday May 06, 2005 @03:48PM (#12455771) Homepage Journal
    Now, what you need to do is go back to that page and actually read it.

    The first thing you'll notice is that the dates show clearly that none of those accounts were made by those who would have been the contemporaries of jesus.

    The second thing you should notice is that the accounts that are worth anything at all (meaning, those in the first century, at the very minimum) depend at the first level on reports made by Christians, and which are in many of the examples at the second level causing considerable irritation to the Romans and to the Greeks.

    The conclusion one can draw is that Christians say that Christ existed (what, are they going to say he didn't exist?) and that the authorities of the day werre well and truly vexed by the activities of the Christians.

    There are no accounts that say "Christus paid for 20 chickens today", or "We crucified Christus today" or "Christus the Carpenter delivered unto me a fabulous wood chair and door today."

    Christ may indeed have existed. But nothing on that page in any way provides solid support for the idea.

    History will record (and accurately so) that the Heaven's Gate cult were so convinced that aliens were talking to them (as in right now, as in personally, as in real) that they committed mass suicide. People 2000 years from now who take this to mean that aliens did talk to them would be mistaken. However, they'll have a 2000-year thick veil to peer through, and they may not get it right. Or, for reasons of their own, much like those Christans hold dear, they may not be interested in getting it right.

    Another important perspective on this is to consider a Tom Clancy novel. In a Tom Clancy novel, you'll find the CIA (real), Russia, England, USA, China and the old Soviet Union, (all real) President Reagan (real), various ships of war (almost all real) and various interesting personalities that interact with all this bona-fide historical stuff.

    2000 years from now, will they believe that John Patrick Ryan was a CIA agent? Will they believe that John Clark was a CIA asassin? Will they believe that the Red October was a Soviet ship of war?

    Here we have a book with myriad verifiable historical facts scattered about; in no way, we know today, do they make the other characters and the situations in the book actually real, but they do make them feel more real. That's why authors use real situations and characters; it sets the stage and makes suspension of disbelief easier.

    Look at the bible. Look at it hard. It was put (vaguely and inconsistantly) together hundreds of years after the alleged fact, and after a considerable amount of tussling amongst the Christians. The KJV only emerged after the Great Bible, the Geneva bible and the Bishop's bible. One thousand and six hundred years after the events reported in the collection. Even then, after the KJV was moving into prominence, Hugh Broughon (1549-1612, English theologian and Hebrew scholar, born in Owlbury) wrote: "Tell his majesty ( meaning King James I ) that I had rather be rent in pieces with wild horses, than any such translation by my consent be urged on poor churches."

    The NT certainly contains historical references. It contains references to people we're pretty sure were real because we have contemporary accounts of their existance (Roman emperors, for instance.) It also contains accounts of people we can't find anywhere else, other than as after-the-fact mentions that we can't be certain didn't arise from the description in the various codexes that were called upon to create the various bibles. Codexes, by the way, that do not always agree with each other, and which were definitely "cherry picked" to create the work we see today, the KJV. There are over five thousand historical manuscript copies of the NT. But only three are generally used as a source:

    • The Vatican Manuscript (4th century; m
  • Most bothersome (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ChodeMonkey (65149) on Friday May 06, 2005 @04:27PM (#12456359) Homepage
    The thing that bothers me the most about what is happening is that the entire scheme for the propogation of knowledge is being subverted. I would tend to say that until some serious articles on a given new grand theory have pass peer review and been printed in the likes of Science or Nature then the theory has no business showing up in the highschool classroom.

    Was quantum mechanics taught in highschool just as it was being initially developed? How about evolution? Was plate techtonics? NO! These topics survived brutal peer review and were accepted as valid explanitory theories by the scientific establishment first. THEN they made their way to the middle and high schools for the teachers to teach.

    The argument quickly arrives that the scientific establishment is biased against new theories (Such as ID) and it would never accept them. MALARKY! Each of the above listed theories and others like them were also underdogs with establishment against them. But, they won out over the (at the time) current theories because they were good theories with overwhelming and crushing evidence to support them.

    If something like ID really raised any serious questions for scientists involved in research on the origins of life you can bet that they will try to answer them since the scientist that did could be rewarded with immortality like the kind given to Einstein, Darwin, Schroedinger, Heisenberg, and others (not to mention a Nobel Prize).

    The injection of unaccepted scientific theories into the school system for spongy minds to consume is just right out. Totally unacceptable.
  • by thefirelane (586885) on Friday May 06, 2005 @04:41PM (#12456561)
    or whatever other yardstick you choose to measure by

    That was the point... science can't choose which yardstick is better because that's a morality question. It could tell you that people in group B wrote 10% more code (for example)... but it can't say it is better to write 10% more code... if you think it does, it's only because you think it is better to write 10% more code.
  • by macdaddy (38372) * on Friday May 06, 2005 @04:42PM (#12456566) Homepage Journal
    A majority, however, need only be 50.1%. To address the entire 100% as war-loving Americans is certainly a disservice to those that reside in the 49.9% minority. Now if the country was 10/90 then perhaps I could understand it.

    Now I must admit that even I group large populations together in some of the phrases I use. For example, the French. I probably don't need to say any more there other than to say that I'm sure not all of the French citizens think and act alike.

    I think it should be easier to reference Kansans however. The pattern of abuse for the word hasn't been established nearly as long as, for example, the French reference has. Changing the wording to read "What the hell are the Christian fundamentalists up to in Kansas?" instead of saying "What the hell is Kansas up to? Bunch of damn Christian nutjobs." is much better. At least it does clump us all into the same stereotypical boat. Anyhow, I digress.

  • Re:You know... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Durandal64 (658649) on Friday May 06, 2005 @04:45PM (#12456593)
    ok, evolution on a small scale exists, this i know. that's microevolution... survival of the fittest...
    There is no distinction between "micro-evolution" and "macro-evolution." Those are terms dreamed up by creationists to try and weasel their way out of acknowledging that scenarios like the ones I presented actually exist. But if you insist on grouping them together that way, both micro- and macro-evolution have the exact same mechanism. After a certain number of changes in the population, members of the dominant variation of the species become unable to reproduce with other members of the species, hence speciation occurs. This should be obvious.

    If a flock of birds is flying around and one group of birds becomes geographically separated from the other, then it's possible for one group to evolve in such a way that they can't reproduce with the other. A new species of that bird emerges as a result.
    now how about macroevolution... you didn't touch on that one. the evidence that the world was not created by intelligent design...
    They're the same thing. See above. How about you present evidence that the world was intelligently designed instead? You're making the positive claim, so the burden of proof is on you.
    for the record, i've actually got a degree in evolutionary bio... so i know a bit about how evolution works...
    Bullshit. I'm a fucking computer science major who's taken one biology class in his entire college career, and I have to explain these simple concepts to someone who allegedly has a degree in the subject? Yeah, sure. What creationist diploma mill did you get it from? Vanguard University?
  • by ekwhite (847167) <ekwhite1@veri z o n.net> on Friday May 06, 2005 @04:56PM (#12456768)
    This is a victory for the fundamentalists because they aren't only making a change in the definition of science. They are also mandating the teaching of Intelligent Design "theory." The following quote from an LA Times article today explains a lot: Evolution is a great theory, but it is flawed," said Martin, 59, a retired science and elementary school teacher who is presiding over the hearings. "There are alternatives. Children need to hear them.... We can't ignore that our nation is based on Christianity -- not science." Our nation is based on Christianity, not science... I could have sworn that our country was founded on the idea of religious freedom. Weren't many of our founding fathers Deists or Unitarians? My fear is that is just part of an attack by the religious right on the foundations of science itself. If this attack is successful, we may have a generation of children who are scientific illiterates. If this happens, you can kiss American prosperity, and probably American democracy, goodbye.
  • by Aryawhat (706371) on Friday May 06, 2005 @05:07PM (#12456922)
    I continue to be amazed by Slashdot. Every day, I find deeply insightful commentary and clear explanations, particularly on techie topics, but then I also find levels of naivete bordering on blindness, as in the discussion around this topic.

    I've seen loud proclamations of support for retaining the 'true definition of science', much head-scratching about why these fundies don't get it, and even more hand-wringing about where the world (and in particular, Kansas) is going, I've not seen any sign that anyone has understood either the motivation that drives these people or the means that they are using.

    I'm not sure if this is because Slashdot readership is mostly American, or because the readership is completely geek. (sorry, couldn't resist that, no flames please).

    Full disclosure: I'm an Indian in India, was born a Hindu, and have been mostly atheist/agnostic in my beliefs. However, while I don't believe in God in a flowing white beard (or the hundreds of other varieties in the Hindu pantheon), I also don't believe the universe can be explained by space, time, and a set of classical or probabilistic laws.

    First, their motivation:

    Imagine (I know it's hard, but try) that you believe passionately in the sacrifice of Christ and that the salvation of everyone lies in accepting him and in being forgiven for their sins. How painful must it be for you to see children in their formative years acquire a world view and emotional make-up which makes it impossible for you to get them to see your way of thinking? And there's no point in saying 'why can't they see evolution as God's way of making creation happen?' The reality is that it doesn't work that way. If the mechanism of creation is itself a few simple principles (variation/natural selection), then is there really a need for a Creator to have set them in motion at the beginning? You could take Him out of the picture, and the simple principles can still be there, and will still work. What makes people believe in a all-powerful, personalized God they can accept as saviour is a clear touchy-feely demonstration of sheer, raw power, and in this department, nothing beats creating the universe in 6 days. Get children to believe that, and you'll never have a shortage of souls getting in line to be saved.

    Next, the means :

    I hear a lot of people saying : 'what's wrong with their new definition, it seems to make things clearer'. This is nonsense. The old definition is :

    seeking natural explanations for what we observe around us.

    This is actually a very precise expression of attitude and intent, and this becomes clearer if it's changed slightly to read:

    seeking natural explanations for everything we observe around us.

    This is a frame of mind, and this is the true spirit of science. Through the ages, there has never been a shortage of explanations:

    - Eclipses happen because we anger the Sun God.
    - The invisible witch cut off his breathing (a popular explanation in India, not a long time ago, for deaths by tubercolosis)

    The key attitude which separates science is that it says : 'I will look for non-supernatural principles and predictable rules for everything. It may be hard, but I'll keep trying. I think I'll find such an explanation if I keep trying'.

    Read the new definition again. There a lot of fancy wording about experiments and hypotheses which seems to clarify, but is actually being used to hide the key change to the attitude. It doesn't say that science should try to explain everything anymore. In fact, with the bit about explanations being 'adequate', there's an logical next step: Why doesn't science restrict itself to things it is 'adequate' at, such as planetary motion and momentum conservation, and leave other things, like the creation of life, to other, more 'adequate ' explanations?.

    On second thoughts, and at the risk of being flamed, I think the reason Slashdot isn't getting this is not because

  • Re:Wrong (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Phillup (317168) on Friday May 06, 2005 @05:23PM (#12457134)
    What if God was the result of evolution?

    This it the problem I have with the whole "intelligent design theory"... it doesn't answer the problem, it just moves it.

    OK, you figured out where we came from... great... now, how 'bout that designer?

    Not only that... but more questions arise:
    - where is the designer now?
    - how many others are there?
    - do they have enemies?
    - if we hook up with the enemies can we kick the designer's ass?

    Pandora's Box if you ask me...
  • by dtjohnson (102237) on Friday May 06, 2005 @05:35PM (#12457282)
    Evolution, or natural selection, is not a 'theory' but an obvious phenomena that we observe around us every day of our lives, on everything from dog appearance to human hereditary conditions to software products. It is equally obvious (to me anyway, your opinion may differ) that the universe, our world, and all life was created by God. If people want to believe, however, that life arose from electric arcs in a primordial soup, that's their choice (given to them by God) and there's no reason to condemn them, punish them, threaten them, or torture them until they 'change' their minds. Faith cannot be instilled with fear, pain, legislation, or peer pressure, although that will never stop unbelievers from forcing other unbelievers to see things 'their' way.

    Anyone who is afraid of *anything* that science may discover has no faith, to start with. Science and technology are, themselves, gifts from God that should be used to their fullest.
  • by mysidia (191772) on Friday May 06, 2005 @06:07PM (#12457656)

    The simpler definition was ok, it was obvious they were being more general. Now they try to include more of it, and they necessarily include things under the definition of science that are not science.

    Pseudoscientists like psychics... they can all test hypothesese, make measurements, observations, build theories, and use logical arguments in support of their ideas. What separates them from scientists, is the nature of their theories, and the core methods they use. Physicists, Biologists, etc, use stronger criterion for building theories.

    "continuing investigation that uses observation, hypothesis testing, measurement, experimentation, logical argument and theory building to lead to more adequate explanations of natural phenomena."

    It is true that scientific study uses hypothesis testing, measurement, experimentation, and can incorporate logical argument, but having any one or even ALL of these are not sufficient for having science.

    It is more important how they are used than that they are used.

    The scientific method [wikipedia.org] is most important.

    more adequate explanations sounds like a subjective notion. It is not enough to build theories, they must always be theories that you can test: if you accept theories that you have no specific method to falsify if they are not true, then it is not science.

  • by Alsee (515537) on Friday May 06, 2005 @07:22PM (#12458386) Homepage
    Science does not say and cannot say we "should" do anything.

    It's a simple enough experiment. Get three sufficiently large groups of people all equal in as many regards as possible.
    Group 1 are all shitty to each other for a year.
    Group 2 just behave like they do normally.
    Group 3 are all nice to each other.


    You can certainly decide you like one of the outcomes better than the others. That position comes from you and is based on considerations outside of science. As far as science is concered all outcomes are just data points, none is better or prefferable to any other.

    Science does not contain or provide priorities.
    Science does not contain or provide motivations.
    Science does not contain or provide goals.
    Science does not contain or provide judgements.

    The last time this evolution came up someone attacked attacked by bringing up Hitler and eugenics. Science does not say we "should" sterilize the retarded, or anything else. That is a matter of social policy, not science. Science does not say we should (or should not) build nuclear weapons. Science does not say we should (or should not) build nuclear power plants.

    Science is useful for predicting the results of certain choices, it is useful for providing new abilities and new choices, helpful in reaching goals, it provides information twords making judgments. All of that comes after and outside of science.

    -
  • It's true (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pholubz4 (880727) on Friday May 06, 2005 @10:54PM (#12459586)
    Science is ridiculous, but it's the best our minds can come up with on their own.
  • Re:Wrong (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bjason82 (820735) on Saturday May 07, 2005 @02:39PM (#12463207)
    Oh but it is relevant when discussing this from a monothiestic viewpoint. Take the bible for example, it equates liars, gossips, murderers and homosexuals. So, from a christian-monothiestic viewpoint you would have to agree what I said is relevant. If you look at it from a secular-societal viewpoint then yes you are correct, but I dont think thats what I was referring to.

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