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Education Government It's funny.  Laugh. United States Science

Evolution, Big Bang Polls Omitted From NSF Report 495

Posted by Soulskill
from the don't-let-the-rest-of-the-world-know-how-stupid-we-really-are dept.
cremeglace writes "In an unusual last-minute edit that has drawn flak from the White House and science educators, a federal advisory committee omitted data on Americans' knowledge of evolution and the Big Bang from a key report. The data shows that Americans are far less likely than the rest of the world to accept that humans evolved from earlier species and that the universe began with a big bang."
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Evolution, Big Bang Polls Omitted From NSF Report

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  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland @ y a hoo.com> on Friday April 09, 2010 @06:57PM (#31796138) Homepage Journal

    Because it always hasn't been like this. The Neo-Cons are using their power to constantly force religion on people and cut taxes so more and more people remain ignorant.
    They call it "Choking the Beast."

  • Re:So? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@@@yahoo...com> on Friday April 09, 2010 @06:59PM (#31796160) Journal

    Wrong. They asked the questions and did not like the embarrassing answers America gave. Like our child mortality rate, our scientific literacy rate is not something to be proud of. The majority of American do not believe in the big bang or evolution. You may, but most do not, whereas in the rest of the first world, most people do believe in these things.

    Where are you getting 'asshat within the White House' from? The National Science Foundation is not located in the White House. Why blame the President for this? This was not an editing error. The questions were asked, but the answers were deliberately omitted.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 09, 2010 @07:01PM (#31796184)

    When TFA says "data on Americans' knowledge of evolution and the big bang", that suggests it's a measurement of Americans' awareness level of the existence of the topics.

    But when the TFA says "Americans are far less likely than the rest of the world to accept that humans evolved from earlier species and that the universe began with a big bang", that suggests it's a measurement of American's agreement level.

    Awareness != Agreement != Acceptance

    For example, while I might be FULLY AWARE of and understand the reasoning behind Christianity, that does NOT mean that I accept the notion as true.

    TFA seems to be suggesting that if you disagree with some topic, that you simply do not understand the topic, which is a complete fallacy.

  • Not so bad (Score:2, Insightful)

    by oldhack (1037484) on Friday April 09, 2010 @07:01PM (#31796186)

    Big Bang is, well, Big Bang, and only some religious fundies would have issues since the rest of us don't really care one way or another.

    Sharing ancestors with apes, well, bit less so.

    Evolution: now this is different since it's a demonstrated fact.

  • by ldconfig (1339877) on Friday April 09, 2010 @07:01PM (#31796188)
    Looks like stupid and pissed off is the new cool. Science and facts just get you cussed at ... its sad.
  • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@@@yahoo...com> on Friday April 09, 2010 @07:03PM (#31796208) Journal

    Between blinds, the one-eyed is king.

    Unfortunately not. In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is locked away in an insane asylum because he talks about things no one else can even conceive of.

  • Re:So? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheRaven64 (641858) on Friday April 09, 2010 @07:07PM (#31796238) Journal

    The majority of American do not believe in the big bang or evolution

    Good. I don't either. I merely accept them as models that make useful predictions and which are subject to amendment in light of experimental evidence. Mind you, that might be because I'm a scientist and not a priest.

  • by introspekt.i (1233118) on Friday April 09, 2010 @07:07PM (#31796240)
    To the average layman/Joe/Jane "knowledge" of the truth of the Big Bang and Evolution is really tantamount to believing that they are true (that is, valid explanations of our reality). If you go off of a high school education, what do teachers really tell you aside from a few weeks' lecture (at best) and showing some pictures in a book? How does that equate to knowledge of these things aside from "my teacher told me it was true". Perhaps we're just doing a horrible job of managing our credibility on topics such as these. People in all walks of life both deny and affirm the validity of these two theories, yet they seem to appear everywhere (and are wildly [un]successful at their pursuits). Widespread belief in the (in)validity of these two things does not denote the working value of a high school level education, if not even a higher education outside of the areas relevant to these theories. In my opinion, of course.
  • Thanks, America (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 09, 2010 @07:07PM (#31796242)
    Thank you so much, America, and especially you, Bible Belt, for being a bunch of ignorant cunts and making the rest of us look bad, too. They of course had to leave that information out of the report because of how fucking embarassing it is, but the truth came out now didn't it? Pull your head out of your bible-thumping ass, USA, and get with the program.
  • by Dahamma (304068) on Friday April 09, 2010 @07:10PM (#31796270)

    Are you just proving you didn't read it either? It sounds like the NSB/NSF was choosing scientific method OVER politics and religion in this case.

    Quote: "National Science Board, which oversees the National Science Foundation (NSF), says it chose to leave the section out of the 2010 edition of the biennial Science and Engineering Indicators because the survey questions used to measure knowledge of the two topics force respondents to choose between factual knowledge and religious beliefs."

    They were badly formed questions for a literacy test. Instead of asking if they agree with the statement "The universe began with a big explosion", they should have asked something to determine IF people had a firm grasp of what the big bang theory WAS. Sure, personally I think that is by far the most likely theory (and that evolution is clearly fact at this point), but literacy is about comprehension, not belief.

    It's like asking in a classics survey whether "Prometheus shaped man out of mud to be brought to life by Athena". No, I would have to answer I don't believe that. Does that mean I am not literate in Greek mythology?

  • by RightSaidFred99 (874576) on Friday April 09, 2010 @07:10PM (#31796272)

    Sorry, these two theories are not on a level playing field. Evolution is a ridiculously strong theory, it's really hard for anyone to not "accept" it unless they do so based on entirely irrational beliefs.

    I might think, if not say, someone who doesn't "believe" in evolution is an idiot. I would not say the same thing about the Big Bang for various reasons, among them the fact that the Big Bang does not explain the state of existence at T(Big Bang) - 1. It does not explain creation, and in fact creation is inherently inexplicable unless one resorts to "Magic" of one form or another.

  • Fucking moron (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 09, 2010 @07:12PM (#31796286)

    You're too lazy to read even halfway through the article, but you will still post your idiotic blather here?

    Well, I guess you fit in well around here, anyway.

  • by aliddell (1716018) on Friday April 09, 2010 @07:16PM (#31796332)
    Yup. Cutting taxes makes people ignorant all right.
  • Re:So? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Beardo the Bearded (321478) on Friday April 09, 2010 @07:17PM (#31796336)

    See, this is why I like Electrical Engineering. Everything I work with is invisible, nobody can explain how it works (there aren't even any good theories*), and it can kill you if you forget to turn it off. Even if it doesn't kill you, it might give you cancer or muck up your offspring. The behaviour of any given device is erratic at best, taken for granted, or just plain whacky.

    But for some reason, nobody comes up with a "God did it" explanation. Sure, we've got the magic smoke explanation, but nobody takes that seriously except the Rastafarians.

    *No, really. Look at the quantum level, but try not to think about it or you'll go blind.

  • Wrong. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Friday April 09, 2010 @07:20PM (#31796362)

    TFA seems to be suggesting that if you disagree with some topic, that you simply do not understand the topic, which is a complete fallacy.

    No. Not in regards to scientific issues.

    You can refuse to accept that the Earth is not the center of the Universe, but that DOES mean that you do not understand the SCIENCE behind it.

  • by Pentium100 (1240090) on Friday April 09, 2010 @07:22PM (#31796372)

    At least the scientists try to understand what actually happened. If they find out that the big bang didn't happen like they though, they will revise the theory, like most of the theories were revised as proof was found. Classical mechanics (you can accelerate up to infinite speed) -> relativity (actually, you can only accelerate up to c, but never reach it) -> quantum mechanics (electrons do not behave as tiny spheres with a charge after all, they behave as tiny spheres with a charge and waves at the same time) is one example.

    On the other hand, religious people do not revise their holy books, they just say that whatever proof to the contrary exists, it must be false/created by devil/etc.

    Also, I really like when religious people argue that their religion is the only true religion when using the same arguments as all the others - "It's written so in the book". For example, why are Christians right and Muslims/Scientologists/Ancient Greeks/FSM believers/etc wrong?

  • Re:So? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spottedkangaroo (451692) * on Friday April 09, 2010 @07:25PM (#31796404) Homepage
    The above is the most important point in the thread. Science is not about belief -- it's about evidence. And the another important difference between belief and science is that science can change based on evidence and beliefs do not. They act as filters on new information instead.
  • by AK Marc (707885) on Friday April 09, 2010 @07:28PM (#31796434)
    You seem to be quite confused. They do not explain why in the article.

    The guy most singly responsible gives his public excuse as to why, but it isn't intellectually consistent and completely fails to address why this change (allegedly in the works for years) would have been left alone for all the drafts then changed between the last draft and the release.

    "It's faith questions, not science questions" isn't an answer, it's an excuse. Why feel compelled to change it now when other countries are leaving it alone and if it's so useless, just include it and the people reading the results will ignore it. And, if it is a good thing to exclude, why wait until after the last draft to make the change?

    It stinks of a political or religious move, not a scientific one. The real science one would be to leave it in and put an asterisk at the end saying *These results are faith oriented and should not be considered science questions." Or, at the very least, not "lie" by releasing drafts knowing they will lead to a misconception of what will be in the actual report.
  • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Friday April 09, 2010 @07:32PM (#31796472)

    Who is to say there was any state of existence before the Big Bang? Einstein has taught us that space and time are part and parcel of the same thing, that is the universe. Without the Big Bang there is no universe and therefore no time, and T-1 is a null pointer error. Hawking and Hartle have actually shown how time can emerge into existence during a Big Bang. cf. quantum cosmology.

    From a philosophical point of view it can be argued that asking what happened before the Big Bang is the same thing as asking who created God. It is the same problem in a somewhat different context.

    Einstein and Hawking have dealt with the question in a naturalistic setting, in this century Augustine of Hippo dealt with the question from a religious point of view some 1500 years earlier.

  • Re:So? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 09, 2010 @07:34PM (#31796486)

    Having a degree in Electrical Engineering and also a second major in applied physics and time in grad school for nuclear engineering and physics, let me illuminate this subject a bit.

    Engineers don't really delve into the why of things. The learn the basics and then hammer on the practical applications. You get just enough theory to get by.

    Physics is more or less the opposite. They work with lots of theory and theoretical models. The applications they leave to the engineers ...and the applied physicists. Applied physics tends to be in the middle; they test the models in the real world and they try to find useful applications for the data/model/results.

    The point is, though, engineers aren't taught things like high-level theoretical models because they wouldn't really be useful for them. There are certainly theories and models that explain 99% of what goes on in EE.

    If you're asking what are fundamental forces like electricity, magnetism, and gravity... Well, people are working on that too, although progress is slow.

  • by hoytak (1148181) on Friday April 09, 2010 @07:34PM (#31796490) Homepage

    So the guy pushing for the removal cannot maintain a consistent argument for that removal.

    Not how I see it. People interpret yes/no questions very differently; hence his "blunt instrument" remark. In general, I (background -- statistics) would probably answer yes to a binary question if I felt it to be mostly true. My wife (background -- philosophy) would probably answer no or "i don't know" to many of the same questions.

    The problem with accurately designing surveys often boils down to understanding how people react if they have qualms about giving a yes/no answer but really feel in the middle. What this guy is saying is that there are people who are ignorant about the topic and fall somewhere in the middle, and some who are very informed and thoughtful about it but have some reservations and thus fall somewhere in the middle. So, frankly, I think his argument is consistent unless you ignore the subtleties.

    Also, note the double negative:

    When asked if he expected those academics to answer "false" to the statement about humans having evolved from earlier species, Bruer said: "On that particular point, no."

    It seems that not answering the question is an option for these people.

  • by Tango42 (662363) on Friday April 09, 2010 @07:49PM (#31796588)

    Where is the evidence that that happens more in the US than elsewhere?

  • Re:WWJD (Score:5, Insightful)

    by init100 (915886) on Friday April 09, 2010 @07:49PM (#31796590)

    Perhaps the real conclusion to be drawn here is that americans are more prone to be skeptical of absolute assertions based on prevailing theories.

    While being decidedly unskeptical of absolute assertions based on a 2000 year old fairy tale.

  • Echo chambers (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 09, 2010 @07:49PM (#31796594)

    From the deleted.txt file:

    In response to another group of questions on evolution asked by Gallup in 2008, 43% of Americans agreed with the statement that “God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so,” while the 52% agreed with either of two statements compatible with the theory of evolution: that human beings developed over millions of years either with or without God’s guidance in the process (figure 7-12). These views on the origin of human beings have remained virtually unchanged in nine surveys since the questions were first asked in 1982 (The Gallup Organization 2008c).

    In other words, significantly more than half of Americans know very well that the Christian creation story is a fable, and this has been the case for nigh on 30 years, at least. Headline: Genesis believers are minority in US.

    Enough with the incessant navel gazing about this; the widespread and growing religious fanaticism you use to rationalize your loathing for your culture is a fiction. Secularism is (thankfully) firmly in control of the governance of the US, has been for several generations and shows no sign of abating, despite what you're being told inside the hysteria filled echo chamber of your choice.

  • by Warwick Allison (209388) on Friday April 09, 2010 @07:58PM (#31796654) Homepage

    "the two topics force respondents to choose between factual knowledge and religious beliefs."

    i.e. the respondents might belief X is false even though they know X is true. That's the best description I've seen of the stupidity of religion.

  • Re:WWJD (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 09, 2010 @07:59PM (#31796662)

    I have to admit that I find it odd that with religion, people place the burden of proof on the religion to prove its claims true, yet with some scientific theories (like evolution from lesser species), the burden of proof is placed on OPPONENTS of the theory to disprove it, rather than on the theorist to prove their claims true.

    Well that would be because evolution has been demonstrated and observed in the lab and nature at the small scale, with the most solid example being the development of anti-biotic resistance by pathogens. So it's not a huge leap of faith, given the fossil record available that shows an evolutionary progression and consistent genetic variation (now that we can sequence whole genomes fairly cheaply), to believe that it applies with larger and more complex organisms. In contrast, creationists/intelligent designers have squat for proof that stands up to any scientific scrutiny. So the burden of proof is placed on the opponents of evolutionary theory because there is plenty of evidence that the theory of evolution is fairly accurate (although it could be improved) and no evidence that the ridiculous creationist alternatives have any predictive capability.

  • by init100 (915886) on Friday April 09, 2010 @08:03PM (#31796684)

    From a strictly scientific viewpoint, neither of those have been definitively proven.

    From a strictly scientific standpoint, no scientific theory has ever been definitively proven, in the mathematical sense of the word. Scientific theories can be disproved (falsified), but not definitively proven. For some theories, the mountain of evidence supporting it can be so big that it is essentially considered proven by laymen, but the scientific standards of proof are much higher.

    And the theory of evolution is one such theory with a large mountain of evidence in support.

  • Only here (Score:3, Insightful)

    by HangingChad (677530) on Friday April 09, 2010 @08:04PM (#31796690) Homepage

    Humans and apes share 96% of their DNA. I forget which comedian asks if you have sandwich that's 96% crap and 4% ham, would you still call it a ham sandwich?

    That by itself doesn't prove we descended from apes, but sure would seem to lend it scientific plausibility. If you're faith leads you to a different conclusion, that's fine. But that doesn't mean the rest of us need to teach it in school or avoid teaching what science can measure.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 09, 2010 @08:09PM (#31796712)

    You used to be this shining beacon in the world of leadership, democracy and sensibility.

    I agree. When I was a kid I looked up to America as the good guys, standing up to the evil Soviet Union just 300 miles away. But since the implosion of the Soviet Union and its satellite states, America seems to have gradually taken over rather large chunks of the evil part.

  • Re:So? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@@@yahoo...com> on Friday April 09, 2010 @08:10PM (#31796720) Journal

    I would guess your mix of family and friends are fairly well educated? Not a random sample then. There is a dangerous strain of anti-intellectualism loose in America these days. A belief that common sense beats book learning, too much of which will in turn kill common sense. It amounts to a pride in ignorance.

  • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Friday April 09, 2010 @08:13PM (#31796744) Homepage Journal

    The problem is that any question on any survey could conceivably contradict someone's religious beliefs. If a survey designed to measure the scientific literacy of the general public find that large numbers of people choose religious beliefs over factual knowledge, that is a valuable datum indicating that scientific illiteracy is alarmingly high.

    It's like asking in a classics survey whether "Prometheus shaped man out of mud to be brought to life by Athena". No, I would have to answer I don't believe that. Does that mean I am not literate in Greek mythology?

    False analogy. Being literate in mythology does not require that one consider the myths under study to be evidence about the way the world works -- in fact, the very word "mythology" rather implies the opposite.

  • by bertok (226922) on Friday April 09, 2010 @08:15PM (#31796756)

    On the other hand, much about evolution is, I think, less certain than most people make it

    Unfortunately, you are entirely wrong on this point. Evolution is much, much more robust than most people think. It has literally mountains of evidence backing it from dozens of fields. There's is absolutely no possible way in which it could be entirely wrong, unless you are willing to go into solipsistic notions like "reality is just a big collective dream".

    On the other hand, the Big Bang theory has only a small handful of evidence backing it. It is a very simple theory that makes few predictions, and offers few explanations or an underlying cause for any of it.

    For example, there's still no clear picture of:

    - why the universe is even expanding in the first place.
    - what the "inflation" period at the very beginning was caused by or exactly how it occurred
    - we still don't know why there's much more matter than anti-matter
    - we still don't know precisely why matter is distributed the way it is at large scales
    - we're still not entirely certain if the laws of physics were precisely consistent across all time (including the first few femtoseconds)
    - I'm yet to see convincing evidence either way of whether the universe is going to keep expanding forever, come to a big crunch, or what...

    If the Big Bang theory was as good as you make it out to be, all of those questions would be answered conclusively and rigorously. Right now, our understanding of the universe is not much better than epycicles [wikipedia.org]. We can make good numeric or statistical predictions about a few things, but we have no idea why our models work, and everything breaks down at the extremes.

  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Friday April 09, 2010 @08:22PM (#31796806)

    Your theory is testable and observable?

  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Friday April 09, 2010 @08:31PM (#31796860)

    Because if they do not accept these things it shows how little value science and education have in our society. The reality is current US culture is very into denialism and superstition.

  • Yeah I feel sooo dumb for wondering why the physical universe could not have just popped into place from thin air for no reason.

    I pity you - you have been brainwashed into feeling stupid when wondering about these things. The smartest people on the planet wonder about the origin of the universe, and have discovered many wondrous things, yet you idly dismiss them.

    Your overconfident arrogance would be annoying if the tortured remains of your natural curiosity were not pitiful.

  • by jc42 (318812) on Friday April 09, 2010 @08:54PM (#31797000) Homepage Journal

    Sometimes I just don't understand how the hell we've made it to superpower status...

    Well, we might note that "superpower status" is in great measure made up of things like nuclear weapons, which the general population had no part in producing. There's also an economic component to that status, but again, those were built under the guidance of a rather tiny portion of the population (and regulated so that they wouldn't shoot themselves and the rest of us in our collective feet by a small population of anti-trust regulators ;-). The general population had little input to all this power.

    The American anti-science, anti-intellectual attitude is a property of the masses; our super-power status is a property of the actions of a small minority of thinkers and doers. There's no difficulty understanding how we could have both.

    Of course, most of the American industrial power seems to have been outsourced over the past decades, so we might be seeing the end of it all. And our government is more and more in the hands of know-nothings who are proud of their willful ignorance. So that superpower status may be reaching the status of "polite fiction". America's primary remaining power might be its military, which is more and more dependent on outsourced technology, and that's not a very stable situation.

    Stick around and find out how it all develops. Maybe you'll live to see who inherits the top-dawg position among nations.

  • About the only thing we can be certain of with science is that the answers are always going to be changing.

    http://chem.tufts.edu/AnswersInScience/RelativityofWrong.htm [tufts.edu]

    "[W]hen people thought the earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the earth was [perfectly] spherical, they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together." - Isaac Asimov

  • by Conspiracy_Of_Doves (236787) on Friday April 09, 2010 @09:19PM (#31797144)

    The same gap exists for the response to a second statement, "The universe began with a big explosion," with which only 33% of Americans agreed.

    I wonder how many of the remaining 67% are people who accept that the big bang happened, but understand that it wasn't an explosion.

  • by pcolaman (1208838) on Friday April 09, 2010 @09:28PM (#31797204)

    I don't understand why some people believe that it must be one or the other. I think I'm one of a large group of moderate conservatives who believe that religion and creationism can coexist. While I personally believe that none of this just randomly happened, I also do believe this is a good portion of the bible that is meant to be taken metaphorically, not to mention that a good deal of the meat of the bible has morphed over centuries of retranslations. Just as it is wrong for someone who is Pro-Creationism to call someone who is Pro-Evolution a moron who believes in fantasies, it is also wrong for the opposite to happen. Yet somehow our society has gotten to the point where if you do not agree with someone else, you are a radical quack who is doing the equivalent of smoking crack and jerking off to the *insert religious book or random science book here* and pictures of *insert random radical on the left or right here* having sex with a donkey. I mean seriously, it doesn't really matter what you believe anymore. There is a group of people ready to eat you alive metaphorically speaking no matter what you believe. I think most of us are sitting here in the moderate middle just shaking our heads and hoping all of the radical groups on both sides just shut the fuck up and go away.

  • by Citizen of Earth (569446) on Friday April 09, 2010 @09:52PM (#31797326)
    They don't wish outsiders to think Americans are ignorant when in fact they are wilfully stupid.
  • Re:So? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by daem0n1x (748565) on Friday April 09, 2010 @10:21PM (#31797456)

    until the baby reaches three days (they don't issue birth certificates until then,

    Would you care to detail which countries? I live in Europe and the birth certificate can be issued immediately after birth in my country.

  • by tehdaemon (753808) on Friday April 09, 2010 @10:31PM (#31797504)
    You missed something when you dismissed that analogy. Both of the survey questions were also about historical events, and not directly about how the world works today. Scientific literacy is a measure of knowing about, and understanding scientific theory. Belief has no part of any sane definition of scientific literacy. If this were not the case then science would be just another hokey religion.

    (warning, this next sentence is a bit harsh) And if you keep insisting otherwise, guess what hokey religion you belong too?

    T

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 09, 2010 @10:42PM (#31797542)

    Why are we concerned if people, in general, accept the big bang theory or evolution? Why not worry about general relativity and quantum mechanics?

    For the vast majority of people, it simply does not matter. Will it pay my mortgage or put food on my table if the sun revolves around the earth or the other way around? If not, then why should they care?...

    Because it does matter. Maybe not directly, but even the most menial and trivial of jobs are dependent on science in some way through some chain of connections. If America fails in teaching basic science, or, more pertinent to this discussion, even the need for it, then America will start to lose the ability to innovate, drive the economy and meet the challenges of future years (some might argue this is already happening). Specific knowledge of evolution or the big bang theory might not matter, but understanding how science reached those points and how that applies to current issues does. God isn't going to save us, or anyone else. If we survive, it will be because we have enough educated people to make the proper decisions and meet the scientific challenges that await us.

    The failure, perhaps, is not in failing to teach science, but in failing to teach the need for it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 09, 2010 @10:52PM (#31797596)

    There was nothing in the universe. Not one atom. All of a sudden a magical space fairy showed up (out of thin air) and created the physical universe.

    Who cares that the most basic laws of Physics say that there is absolutely no possible way this could have happened. There should not be one rock older than 6000 years. But there they are.

    Then ... he sent a physical son to this universe he created.

    Yeah I feel sooo dumb for wondering why a magical space fairy could not have just poofed a universe into existence from thin air for his own entertainment.

    The theists of this age are a wonderful irony. Power-hungry simpletons who simultaneously think they have all the answers yet have no ability to think for themselves.

  • Re:So? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) <almafuerte.gmail@com> on Friday April 09, 2010 @11:10PM (#31797668)

    That is exactly what I was about to say. If someone asked me if I "believed" in evolution, I'd answer "No", because I don't "believe" in it. I don't "believe" in anything, I don't have any kind of "believes". I am against "believing" things.

    On the other hand, I understand that based on existing evidence, evolution is the the best theory we have. Off course, some things about evolution might be wrong, but you have to differentiate between 'evolution' and 'the theory of evolution'. Our understanding of how genetic mutation occurs changes constantly, and we prove ourselves wrong all the time. On the other hand, there is no doubt that genetic mutations occur throughout generations, and that living things evolve into other living things, and thats how we got here.

    That's not the same as "believing" in evolution. Believing in evolution is as stupid as believing in god, or believing in anything else for that matter. Understand, comprehend, reach conclusions. Never, ever hold believes. it's time we get rid of that word.

  • Re:So? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by FoolishOwl (1698506) on Friday April 09, 2010 @11:27PM (#31797728) Journal

    I think you misunderstood Beardo the Bearded's post. He wasn't arguing that electricity is magic. He was pointing out that electricians don't think of electricity as magic, even though it behaves strangely.

  • by Low Ranked Craig (1327799) on Saturday April 10, 2010 @12:06AM (#31797888)
    Explosion / expansion. Whatever. there was an incredible amount of mass packed in to a tiny area under incredible pressures that expanded rapidly for some reason. I think it perfectly reasonable for a layperson to describe the big bang as an explosion and still have a grasp of what it means.
  • Re:My question (Score:4, Insightful)

    by drsmithy (35869) <drsmithy.gmail@com> on Saturday April 10, 2010 @12:21AM (#31797948)

    The "primordial soup" theory, one of the corner stones of evolution has been largely rejected by scientists

    The "primordial soup theory" isn't even a _part_ of Evolutionary Theory, let alone a "cornerstone" of it.

  • by timmarhy (659436) on Saturday April 10, 2010 @12:33AM (#31797988)
    religous zealots are the aggressors, not atheists. atheists only object when your religous dogma is being taught as fact or science. the rest of the time we are happy for you to live out your delusions.
  • Re:So? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by stevenj (9583) <stevenj.alum@mit@edu> on Saturday April 10, 2010 @01:36AM (#31798144) Homepage
    To pick one data point Singapore is 2.31/1000, and the US is 6.3/1000: the US rate is 273% higher. See here [cia.gov]. You seem to be basing your "less than 1%" difference on the fact that all of the developed countries have an infant mortality rate of less than 1%, but this is a ridiculous way to compare statistics for rare events.
  • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Saturday April 10, 2010 @01:37AM (#31798148) Homepage Journal

    It's not a matter of belief. Scientific literacy requires an understanding of the evidence, and the evidence is overwhelming that all living things currently on Earth, including humans, evolved from earlier forms. Any person who is not aware of the evidence is scientifically illiterate, and any person who, when confronted with the evidence, refuses to accept it, is irrational. "Belief" doesn't enter into it ... unless you're talking about the relgious beliefs which seem to have a remarkable ability to make people act irrationally on this particular matter.

    I know what you're getting at with your last sentence. If you want to push the "science is a religion" meme, go ahead, but if you're going to do that, you really should get rid of the fruits of rational scientific thinking ... such as your computer, and just pray really hard that your posts will appear on Slashdot. Be sure to let us know how that works out for you.

  • by tsa (15680) on Saturday April 10, 2010 @01:53AM (#31798188) Homepage

    Yeah, it seems like the USA is slowly going back to the Middle Ages. Ignoring strong scientific evidence, torturing innocent people, a government that ignores the needs of the normal people... Luckily Obama has put a stop to most of this already. Let's hope he can turn the process around and make America sane again.

  • by dido (9125) <dido@@@imperium...ph> on Saturday April 10, 2010 @04:21AM (#31798568)

    True, however the United States of America, the nation as it was conceived by the Founding Fathers, was also very much based upon the idea of religious tolerance. It was precisely because of this that the United States managed to attract the best and brightest in the past: that people could be assured of their safety regardless of their own personal religious beliefs and practices. Unfortunately, it seems that increasingly growing and vocal groups are all set to overturn this longstanding principle...

  • Re:So? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by somersault (912633) on Saturday April 10, 2010 @05:11AM (#31798702) Homepage Journal

    Actually, you're the one twisting the stats, whether intentionall or not. If you'd said "less than 1% of all births" then what you said would still have been technically true, though it also is pretty meaningless given that all countries have less than a 1% infant mortality rate. Also how exactly does "measurement error" fit in here? Are people accidentally deciding babies are dead when in fact they're alive?

  • by AGMW (594303) on Saturday April 10, 2010 @05:39AM (#31798758) Homepage

    ... Just as it is wrong for someone who is Pro-Creationism to call someone who is Pro-Evolution a moron who believes in fantasies, it is also wrong for the opposite to happen. ...

    Whoa there boy ... you seem to be attributing equal weight to both concepts. There is an unbelievably large amount of evidence to support evolution and in all the time that people have been finding fossil evidence not one piece has been found to support creationism, and if it had you can bet your bottom dollar it would have been splashed around the globe and lauded by the religious fraternity as proof of (their flavour of) god.

    Comparing creationists to evolutionists without at least some nod to the different weightings attributed to their likelihood is akin to saying there's nothing to choose between the 'globe earth' and 'flat earth' camps, and people rightly pour scorn on flat-earthers!

  • by prefec2 (875483) on Saturday April 10, 2010 @05:40AM (#31798762)

    If the USA would be a country like Afganistan or Italy without nuclear weapons I wouldn't care and hope that some day they will understand that religion is not a good source to find out how the universe come into existence, but a possible good source for ethics and mental stability (as long as you do not become a fanatic). The real problem is that there are so many religios fanatics running around in the US believing in all kinds of things including Armageddon. And now think one of those crazy guys becomes president and pushes the button... This possibility frightens me most. Therefore it is very good to hear that the US is reducing their nuclear potential. Even though they will still be able to fry everyone on this planet. But at least not six times.

  • by timeOday (582209) on Saturday April 10, 2010 @10:38AM (#31799682)

    Luckily Obama has put a stop to most of this already. Let's hope he can turn the process around and make America sane again.

    Seeing that the Obama White House objects to this retraction is thrilling, compared to the Bush years when every day seemed to bring yet another disaster for the environment, science, and world peace. I am not saying Obama has fully lived up to his campaign promises - he hasn't - but when I think how America was plummeting under Bush, all I can say is, elections matter.

  • Re:Look... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cassius Corodes (1084513) on Saturday April 10, 2010 @10:45AM (#31799712)
    I've thought about this for some time - the issue is not religion - it is a symptom (and certainly makes things worse). What is the real issue is that people do not know how to properly reason - we are not born with good reasoning skills and need to be taught how to do it properly. We don't do this and as a result you have people believing in ghosts, conspiracy theories, religions, psychic powers and any other bullshit that someone wanted to sell.
  • Re:So? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TapeCutter (624760) * on Saturday April 10, 2010 @11:58AM (#31800012) Journal
    "You can use a quantum level theory to get useful results"

    Therfore it's a "good" theory in the same way that if the hooker gets your rocks off then she is a "good" hooker. Just be carefull not to fall in love with your theories or hookers.
  • by unr3a1 (1264666) on Saturday April 10, 2010 @02:44PM (#31800792)

    There are aggressors on BOTH sides, and that is what he is saying. Both sides have the people who are moderate and in the middle and both have the biased extremists that throw insults and around.

    Someone who is pro-Evolution who says "if you don't agree with Evolution then you don't agree with any science and are delusional" is just as bad as someone who is pro-Creation who says that people who don't believe in Creation are "evil" and "going to hell".

    This is what he is talking about. There are people who can have intelligent and thought provoking discussions on the matter from both sides and then both sides have their extremists.

    He is 100% correct.

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