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Louisiana, Intelligent Design, and Science Classes 989

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the oil-already-seeped-into-brain dept.
rollcall writes "The Livingston, Louisiana public school district is considering introducing intelligent design into its science curriculum. During the board's meeting Thursday, several board members expressed an interest in the teaching of creationism. 'Benton said that under provisions of the Science Education Act enacted last year by the Louisiana Legislature, schools can present what she termed "critical thinking and creationism" in science classes. Board Member David Tate quickly responded: "We let them teach evolution to our children, but I think all of us sitting up here on this School Board believe in creationism. Why can't we get someone with religious beliefs to teach creationism?" Fellow board member Clint Mitchell responded, "I agree...you don't have to be afraid to point out some of the fallacies with the theory of evolution. Teachers should have the freedom to look at creationism and find a way to get it into the classroom."'"
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Louisiana, Intelligent Design, and Science Classes

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  • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Monday July 26, 2010 @09:15AM (#33029412)

    Creationism should not be taught in a SCIENCE class because it is not science. There is no way to falsify any of its claims.

  • by IICV (652597) on Monday July 26, 2010 @09:18AM (#33029442)

    Act enacted last year by the Louisiana Legislature, schools can present what she termed 'critical thinking and creationism' in science classes.

    One of these things is not like the other ones, one of these things is not the same.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 26, 2010 @09:18AM (#33029446)

    I hope they *do* add this to the curriculum, and even get their local batshit-crazy evangelical preachers to come in and teach it. Then, when the case goes to court hopefully they can personally bankrupt every single one of these school board jackoffs, and STAPLE THE FIRST FUCKING AMENDMENT TO THEIR FACES.

  • by hey (83763) on Monday July 26, 2010 @09:19AM (#33029466) Journal

    ... at Sunday School.

  • by cmdr_klarg (629569) on Monday July 26, 2010 @09:20AM (#33029474)

    If you want to teach Creationism in school, then place the curriculum in a philosophy class, or Religion class if so desired. Keep it far, far away from Biology class.

  • Yes, please. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by batquux (323697) on Monday July 26, 2010 @09:22AM (#33029512)

    "you don't have to be afraid to point out some of the fallacies with the theory of evolution."

    Please do. I'd like to hear them. We're waiting... all ears... go ahead... hello?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 26, 2010 @09:22AM (#33029516)

    When I'm looking for graduate students and undergraduate honors students I'm looking for students who don't need a lot of training to get down to work. If I have to teach them basic science then that is too much work.

    So I'll add Louisiana students to the list of high maintenance students who I generally avoid.

    Your govt betrays your future by making your students less attractive in academia and industry.

  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Monday July 26, 2010 @09:23AM (#33029526) Journal

    What your tax dollars (if your from Louisianna) will be spent on is the inevitable court case brought on by the ACLU, the inevitable defeat, and the inevitable payout of taxpayer's money to settle.

    As Mark Twain famously said "God made the Idiot for practice, and then He made the School Board."

  • by drumcat (1659893) on Monday July 26, 2010 @09:24AM (#33029538)
    ...then it's God's Plan to kill everything in the Gulf, not BP.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 26, 2010 @09:25AM (#33029554)

    It's also nonscience because it leads nowhere. It merely says at some point "there's no point looking for why here" and that ends science.

    Science is the eternal curious ape asking "why's that, then?". As soon as you put in "irreducible complexity" you've closed off science.

    Because this is actually an attempt to end science for all. Religion has been cut back further and further, from being the reason why lions eat people, lightning strikes and illness happens. Now we know that lions are independent creatures that eat meat, lightning strikes are caused by electrical buildup in the clouds and that illnesses are caused by little organisms.

    Every time science answers a question "why's that, then?" god gets a little slimmer.

    And this is an attempt to kill science once and for all.

  • by peter303 (12292) on Monday July 26, 2010 @09:25AM (#33029562)
    I went to a catholic school many years ago. They taught evolution with "enhancements". One was the de'Chardin theory that evolution was teleological, that is, goal-directed toward perfection. Is was their attempt to reconcile evolution and religion. This is not the precise very of evolution, which is non-teleogical, i.e. goal-less. Otherwise they pretty accepted most of regular tenants like long-time and natural selection.
  • I'm okay with it. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by copponex (13876) on Monday July 26, 2010 @09:26AM (#33029570) Homepage

    As long as they also include every other creation story. There should be text from scientology, islam, hinduism, buddhism, and thousands of other creation myths from all over the world, in a separate book called "Creationism". Leave evolution in the science textbook with the theories on gravity, germ theory, and all of the other accepted, testable hypotheses.

    Similarly I'm okay with religion classes, as long as the world's eight major religions are all given equal time. For some reason I think equal access to alternative theories isn't what they are really after...

  • by jedidiah (1196) on Monday July 26, 2010 @09:28AM (#33029602) Homepage

    A science class is well... a science class. It's ultimately about science. What is science? How does it work? How is it applied? How has it been applied?

    These fundies are like people who see a comparative religions course and object that people are being taught what Muslims believe.

    It's not a bible study class. That's not what their studying. Your personal views aren't relevant.

    Do Jungians disrupt classes taught about Freud?

  • This is a bad idea (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Etrigan_696 (192479) on Monday July 26, 2010 @09:29AM (#33029620)

    This is a very bad idea - and that's coming from a self-described Christian. I don't want some goof-ball teacher going over something like this with my kid. They can barely get math right. You focus on math/science/history/reading, I'll handle teaching my kid religion and philosophy at home.

    And as always, evolution and creation are not at odds. Evolution answers "How?" and creation answers"Why?"

    I don't expect my views to be accepted by devout atheists, OR devout Catholics, so let's leave the creationism at home and not have a big fucking fight for no reason.

  • by bunratty (545641) on Monday July 26, 2010 @09:33AM (#33029666)

    You never prove claims in science. You can only make an observation that confirms a hypothesis. That doesn't prove that the hypothesis is correct for at least two reasons. First, your measurements are precise only to a particular amount of precision, so you can never demonstrate that the hypothesis gives exactly correct results. Second, you can never make measurements in every conceivable set of circumstances. There may exist a set of circumstances under which the hypothesis is incorrect, such as how Netwon's laws are incorrect near the speed of light.

    It's similar to the conundrum that you can never prove a program correct by testing. You can only demonstrate bugs by testing.

  • by samkass (174571) on Monday July 26, 2010 @09:34AM (#33029686) Homepage Journal

    I'll assume you meant there's no way to prove any of its claims. The same is true for vertical evolution.

    No, he meant falsify. If we started finding fossils that suddenly changed from one type of animal to another in a single generation, or fossils where the exact same collection of species are stagnant all the way back to the beginning of time, or even where identical complex features suddenly appeared in many species separated by a wide distance simultaneously... or if we weren't able to reproduce selective breeding or specification in the lab... or if no bacteria ever developed resistance to antibiotics... or if genetic tests on existing fossils hadn't shown genetic drift tempered by survivability in an environment...

    These types of observations would start to falsify the theory of evolution. The theory would have to change to accommodate them.

    There is no way to falsify creationism. Any observation anyone makes can simply be explained by "God made it that way." There is no way to refute it with evidence-- it is a belief-based system that depends on supreme being instead of natural processes.

    Thus, not science.

  • by jridley (9305) on Monday July 26, 2010 @09:37AM (#33029734)

    No, the basis of science is to make claims that are testable. That does not mean provable. It means falsifiable.

    When an experiment in science matches the hypothesis, it doesn't "prove" something, it indicates that the hypothesis appears to be correct within the limits of the experiment. If it does not match the hypothesis, then the theory behind the hypothesis is faulty and must be revised or discarded.

    Science progresses when previous theories are shown to be incorrect or incomplete, and are revised or replaced.

    And experiments are also required to be reproduceable by anyone who wishes to test the theory and can recreate the experiment.

    Religion does not leave any room for falsification. You can't prove a religious belief false, that's how the belief system is structured. It may be possible for an actual divine act to occur and convince people that a belief is true, but it's unlikely to be replicatable at will by skeptics who did not witness the event, and some witnesses may choose to believe another explanation than divine intervention.

  • by casings (257363) on Monday July 26, 2010 @09:37AM (#33029736)

    You're making an assumption that creationists believe that the world is 14 billion years old and that god only created the universe, which they don't.

    Creationists believe the world is only about 6000 years old and that it was ALL created, animals, the world, at that time.

  • by Sockatume (732728) on Monday July 26, 2010 @09:39AM (#33029772)

    Actually, a lot of creationists' claims are falsifiable. They make arguments about geology, fossils, isotope dating etc. can that can be readily compared to reality. Trouble is they've all been thoroughly disproven, leading to a purely theological fallback position ("it's just made to look that way by God!") which is unfalsifiable.

  • by Nimey (114278) on Monday July 26, 2010 @09:44AM (#33029852) Homepage Journal

    You know they won't, just like you know the school board's going to waste tons of taxpayer money defending against litigation, which they will ultimately lose.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday July 26, 2010 @09:45AM (#33029876) Journal
    Does the world really need another petrodollar theocracy?
  • Creationism! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by butterflysrage (1066514) on Monday July 26, 2010 @09:45AM (#33029880)

    Brought to you from the same state with two-digit addition on their GED test.

  • by VMaN (164134) on Monday July 26, 2010 @09:47AM (#33029914) Homepage

    I demand that alchemy be taught side by side with chemistry, so the students can make up their own mind.

    Oh and astrology too.

  • by jellomizer (103300) on Monday July 26, 2010 @09:48AM (#33029940)

    Once again we open up the good old Slashdot argument thread. Where we will get thousands of people posting and arguing and saying how smart they are and yet Do Nothing to fix the problem.

  • by Wain13001 (1119071) on Monday July 26, 2010 @09:49AM (#33029948)

    Science classes don't discuss morality...they discuss science...which doesn't claim to have all the answers.

    Creationism is not science.

    The end.

  • Re:Let them?! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dkleinsc (563838) on Monday July 26, 2010 @09:50AM (#33029966) Homepage

    This guy is clearly trying to set up a Supreme Court case. Of course, he just handed whoever litigates this on Establishment Clause grounds the key piece of evidence:
    "Teachers should have the freedom to look at creationism and find a way to get it into the classroom."

    That means that the express purpose of the measure is to allow teachers to force a particular religious viewpoint on their students. Not a nice little side-effect, or the unexpressed intent. He actually came out and said "this is so we can force kids to learn creationism". So what he's banking on, it sounds like, is that either many of the justices who hear the case will be willing to scrap the Establishment Clause in order to get Christianity in schools, or (more likely) that fighting the losing fight will improve his future political prospects.

    And the test is very easy to make too: Would Mr Mitchell be so interested in ensuring that every child in his district knew about Odin and his brothers slicing up a giant to create Midgard, and treated it as fact?

  • by Chrisq (894406) on Monday July 26, 2010 @09:50AM (#33029974)
    From TFA:

    Board Member David Tate quickly responded: “We let them teach evolution to our children, but I think all of us sitting up here on this School Board believe in creationism. Why can’t we get someone with religious beliefs to teach creationism?

    even better, they "know" that this ungodly teaching is the cause of discipline problems

    Martin, noting that discipline of young people is constantly becoming more of a challenge for parents and teachers, agreed: “Maybe it’s time that we look at this.

    I'm just speechless!

  • by ebuck (585470) on Monday July 26, 2010 @09:51AM (#33029980)

    For something to be a science, you must have the ability to prove it false. Not believe it might be false, but actually have a way that you could know 100% it is false. That doesn't mean that you will ever find it will be false, it just means that there has to be the ABILITY for it to be false.

    With creationism, you can never find that God didn't make everything (in however many days you wish to believe). That's because there's no means of proving that God didn't make everything. If you find dinosaur bones, then you can't say that it's proof of God NOT making everything; because, it's just proof that God did a little more work (by making dinosaur bones for you to discover).

    With science, you can never make a scientific statement unless you have the ability to prove it false. One example is global warming. We have records of the outdoors temperature stretching back nearly two hundred years, and in the last twenty years or so, the entire planet is hotter. We could argue that the entire planet isn't hotter, it is actually cooler; but, the data doesn't support the argument that the planet cooled down.

    It is very important to know the difference between scientific proof and logical proof. Logical proof makes a statement true, but scientific proof is different. It means, "We haven't seen anything that makes this statement false, yet." To defeat an undesirable scientific proof, you must find a real world example. Since science is tied to what we see in the observable world, it is very useful for anything that involves living in the observable world.

    Science doesn't care about the un-observable world, because it is impossible to prove anything false if you can't observe it.

  • by IICV (652597) on Monday July 26, 2010 @09:54AM (#33030042)

    Creationism should not be taught in a SCIENCE class because it is not science. There is no way to falsify any of its claims.

    Not true! Intelligent Design creationism has made exactly one claim, as far as I know: certain biological structures are "irreducibly complex", and therefore cannot have evolved for some reason.

    This is false. For every structure thrown up as "irreducibly complex" (ranging from the eye to the immune system to flagella), scientists have shown a reasonable pathway through which evolution could have constructed the "irreducibly complex" structure, and frequently examples of the intermediate steps can be found in nature.

    Of course, all it takes is one truly novel and unprecedented structure to randomly show up in an organism to make scientists take another look at the basis of evolution - but such a thing has not been described, and honestly probably never will be. If ID creationists can't find one with all the money and funding they have, it probably doesn't exist.

    Therefore, I totally agree that ID should be taught in schools as an example of how scientific theories can fail, alongside the luminiferous aether and the "plum pudding" model of the atom.

    Hardline Creationism, on the other hand, has not made any actual claims besides "God created the world 6000 years ago", which isn't really a "claim" so much as "gibberish", just like the Flat Eathers (but at least the Flat Earthers mostly realize they're just trolling).

  • by ebuck (585470) on Monday July 26, 2010 @09:54AM (#33030048)

    ... at Sunday School.

    Which begs the question, if they are allowed to teach creationism in a Science class, may I teach evolution in their Sunday school?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 26, 2010 @09:55AM (#33030060)

    You get the government out of schools and then you don't have fights like this and you WILL SEE natural selection at work. Some people will choose schools that teach hard science, some will not. The schools that teach the non-hard science will be un-selected by standardized tests, college admissions etc.

    Just like with marriage licenses (a product of the mid-1800s) - as soon as the government gets involved you end up with political fights about religious issues. If marriage was purely a religious issue, no one would care about gay marriage, it would be up to whatever church permitted it or not. Ditto "government science." As soon as government gets into anything it becomes a political fight and instead of "vote with your freedom," it is a winner-take-all proposition so it is a fight to the death.

    It is the intended consequences of government regulation and involvement, keeping people polarized and arguing among themselves so that the ruling class can keep ruling. Divide and conquer.

  • transparency (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tom (822) on Monday July 26, 2010 @09:57AM (#33030078) Homepage Journal

    As we seemingly can't stop the spread of idiocity, can we at least get transparency? Please mark clearly on the record sheet whether this student learned evolution or creationism, uh, sorry, they rebranded it to "intelligent design".

    Please mark it, so I know, so I can hire only the people who learnt actual science.

    If you teach both, please give seperate marks. So I know to hire specifically the people who scored A or B in evolution and F-- in creationism because they ridiculed it all year. That's the kind of people I want to have working for me. If you scored any acceptable score in creationism at all, then find a burger-flipping job somewhere. It means you at least pretended to take it seriously, or you did take it seriously, in which case you're either a liar or an idiot.

  • Re:Let them?! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jythie (914043) on Monday July 26, 2010 @09:57AM (#33030096)

    fighting the losing fight will improve his future political prospects."

    Ding ding ding, we have a winner. 9 out of 10 times, this is what is behind politicians trying to pass illegal laws. These are not stupid people, they know that it will get struck down, but they get free publicity and get a huge boost to their political visibility via public funds. It is a great way around having to spend private money on political aspirations.

  • by Ephemeriis (315124) on Monday July 26, 2010 @10:00AM (#33030142)

    As long as they also include every other creation story. There should be text from scientology, islam, hinduism, buddhism, and thousands of other creation myths from all over the world, in a separate book called "Creationism". Leave evolution in the science textbook with the theories on gravity, germ theory, and all of the other accepted, testable hypotheses.

    Similarly I'm okay with religion classes, as long as the world's eight major religions are all given equal time. For some reason I think equal access to alternative theories isn't what they are really after...

    This is always what I find so amusing.

    They claim that evolution is flawed, and that it's "just a theory." They claim they want to "teach the controversy."

    But they don't. They aren't actually concerned about giving equal time to all the viewpoints out there. If they were, they'd be teaching all the creation stories.

    They don't want to teach any controversies, they just want to make sure their kids get properly indoctrinated.

  • by BrokenHalo (565198) on Monday July 26, 2010 @10:01AM (#33030152)
    "God made the Idiot for practice, and then He made the School Board."

    Yup. Or in the words of M C Hawking [youtube.com]:

    Fuck the damn creationists, those goddamn dumbass bitches,
    every time I think of them my trigger finger itches.
    They want to have their bullshit taught in public classes,
    Stephen J. Gould should put his foot right up their asses.
    Noah and his ark, Adam and his Eve,
    straight up fairy stories even children don't believe...
  • Actually... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fyngyrz (762201) on Monday July 26, 2010 @10:02AM (#33030178) Homepage Journal

    creation answers"Why?"

    Creation answers "tell me a made-up story, daddy."

    There is no answer for "Why?" in the context of all reality, nor is there any practical need for such an answer.

    The misconception that there needs to be such an answer is the foundation of a great deal of stupidity.

  • Re:Yes, please. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by IICV (652597) on Monday July 26, 2010 @10:02AM (#33030180)

    We have a hard time pointing out when the trickling sand in the bottom of an hour glass evolves from a pile into a heap, but that's not the sand's fault - we just don't have a good enough definition of "pile" and "heap", and honestly the sand doesn't care either way about that.

    The same thing for speciation (which is what you're talking about, not evolution in general) - it doesn't actually exist, it's just some label we've applied to various animals. It's not evolution's fault that we can't define a "species" well enough to tell when a group of animals switches from one to the other - it's a poorly defined concept we made up.

  • Re:Yes, please. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jaysyn (203771) <jaysyn+slashdot@ ... m minus math_god> on Monday July 26, 2010 @10:07AM (#33030262) Homepage Journal

    Absence of fossil evidence is not evidence for Creationism.

  • Re:Yes, please. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by canajin56 (660655) on Monday July 26, 2010 @10:07AM (#33030266)
    Nothing evolves into something else. You're making fun of Pokemon but still thinking like it. Species it not an intrinsic value. There is no such thing as the "human race". All those things we call "humans" are are roughly 7 billion collections of DNA, that happen to be able to create offspring if you pair almost any of them up by gender. So, we create the word "species" to mean a group of individuals with similar enough DNA that they can interbreed. Humanity is, of course, not fully able to interbreed. There are already mutually-infertile couples. Two "humans" who are both fertile, but cannot produce viable offspring because their DNA is too distant. However, in perhaps as little as 10,000 years you'll find there is more than one species of human, where there exist large easily identified population groups that can only breed within the group. Speciation has already been observed in fruit flies, since their generations last only a few days, not a few decades. Take a colony of fruit flies, separate them into two different environments, and in a few weeks they will no longer be genetically compatible. You will have taken one "species" and split it into two.
  • by Fujisawa Sensei (207127) on Monday July 26, 2010 @10:09AM (#33030288) Journal

    If you want to teach Creationism in school, then place the curriculum in a philosophy class, or Religion class if so desired. Keep it far, far away from Biology class.

    Its neither, at best its mythology, but is best classed as fantasy.

  • by easterberry (1826250) on Monday July 26, 2010 @10:15AM (#33030388)
    "evolutionists" isn't a thing. They're called "biologists" or, for those who don't study it but know it to be true "educated individuals"
  • by mea37 (1201159) on Monday July 26, 2010 @10:15AM (#33030400)

    'It merely says at some point "there's no point looking for why here" and that ends science.'

    I'd say that depends a bit on the particular brand of creationism in question, but generally I agree.

    However, be careful just how derisively you treat that attitude. The vast majority of "sceintifically-minded" people treat the big bang in exactly the same way. "Oh, that was the beginning; alright then."

    'Every time science answers a question "why's that, then?" god gets a little slimmer.'

    Only to people with very limited understanding of both religion and science. But, we are talking about a school board in LA, so you may have a point.

  • Re:Let them?! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dkleinsc (563838) on Monday July 26, 2010 @10:18AM (#33030450) Homepage

    The trouble is that I can't rule out the first case either. I think it's reasonable to think that the guy really does want Christianity established in the US, so if he got to SCOTUS and Justice Kennedy decided to go along with Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, and Alito to allow it, he wouldn't be disappointed.

    And yes, I'm reasonably certain that those 4 Supreme Court Justices would vote to allow creationism in public schools. Scalia and Thomas have voted that way consistently, and Roberts and Alito recently both voted that crosses on public land aren't a problem.

  • by Jawnn (445279) on Monday July 26, 2010 @10:18AM (#33030458)

    Once again we open up the good old Slashdot argument thread. Where we will get thousands of people posting and arguing and saying how smart they are and yet Do Nothing to fix the problem.

    How about get rid of the fuck-wits on the Livingston, Louisiana school board?
    Mind you, I'm not bashing them for believing as they do about how the world came to be, but I will jump with both feet on their attempt to force this belief on the school children of their community. Inexcusable.

  • by flintmecha (1134937) on Monday July 26, 2010 @10:23AM (#33030546)

    Public schools are funded by taxes. Those ten words of the First Ammendment are the heart of Separation of Church and State in America. The government must not make any decision which favors or discriminates against a specific religion, such as allowing a public school system to teach a Christian myth.

  • by mea37 (1201159) on Monday July 26, 2010 @10:24AM (#33030570)

    Getting people to disagree is not the same as falsifying a claim.

    Sure, you can probably get two (or more) religions to offer mutually contradictory claims (though that's actually a lot harder than you may assume); but while you would have to conclude that one of them has claimed something that is incorrect, you wouldn't have proven any individual claim to be incorrect.

    I don't personally care for the way GP expresses the problem with classifying creationism as science. It's correct, but it comes across as though science were a game and creationism doesn't get to play because it's not fair that it doesn't risk falsification. That's not quite the issue. The issue is that creationism offers nothing to test, and science is about testing things.

  • by thrawn_aj (1073100) on Monday July 26, 2010 @10:25AM (#33030572)
    Google is your friend. Karl Popper, who originated this concept [stephenjaygould.org]:

    Every genuine test of a theory is an attempt to falsify it, or to refute it. Testability is falsifiability; but there are degrees of testability: some theories are more testable, more exposed to refutation, than others; they take, as it were, greater risks.

    The idea of falsifiability is simply that there must (at least in principle) exist some test, which can refute the theory if the test produces a certain result. This is where creationism and similar cargo cults fail - there is no conceivable test that can be performed on these hypotheses that has AT LEAST one possible (doesn't have to be probable) outcome that could refute the theory. The idea (it's subtle, which is why it is misunderstood so often) is that if every test you could possibly perform to test a hypothesis supports the theory no matter what the outcome of the test, is there really any point to the tests? Creationism is like the self-esteem movement for social conservatives =).

    [From the same source as the last quote] One can sum up all this by saying that the criterion of the scientific status of a theory is its falsifiability, or refutability, or testability.

  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday July 26, 2010 @10:26AM (#33030606) Journal
    We were taught about creationism in my school biology classes. The history and philosophy of science is an important part of the subject. Creationism was used as an example to highlight the requirements of a scientific theory (i.e. useful predictions, falsifiability), which it lacks. I don't have any problem with creationism being taught in this context in schools, but somehow I doubt that creationists would be too happy with it.
  • by domatic (1128127) on Monday July 26, 2010 @10:27AM (#33030620)

    However, be careful just how derisively you treat that attitude. The vast majority of "sceintifically-minded" people treat the big bang in exactly the same way. "Oh, that was the beginning; alright then."

    Yep but the scientifically-minded are just philosophizing like the rest of us when they talk spirituality rather than science. Isaac Newton spent more of his time and effort on questions of religion rather than physics and math. It is the physics and math that he is remembered for. Also, there is a quite of lot of "Why's that, then?" on the Big Bang, the Hubble Expansion, and any number of other Big Questions in cosmology right now. The Big Bang itself is not exempt from becoming just another explained phenomenon.

  • Re:Yes, please. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by batquux (323697) on Monday July 26, 2010 @10:27AM (#33030632)

    More to the point, it's not evidence of the invalidity of evolution. We can prove stuff with fossils, but we can't prove stuff with the lack of them. And if you believe the earth is only 6000 years old, you can't do either.

  • Re:Yes, please. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gillbates (106458) on Monday July 26, 2010 @10:28AM (#33030656) Homepage Journal

    Well, a caveat first: Your understanding of evolution is not the elementary biology teacher's understanding of evolution.

    Scientist: Evolutionary theory teaches that there is a physical process by which living organisms adapt to, and are shaped by, the environment over periods of many, many generations. Though we can't explain it completely yet, we believe we will someday discover how life came about on this planet.

    Teacher: Evilushun is the theory that living things just sprang up out of nowhere, and because of that, God doesn't exist.

    You see the difference? If you could teach the history and theory of science, you'd have to teach:

    1. That science has been wrong more often than not. (Try convincing a 16th century sailor the Earth goes around the sun, when his charts are based on just the opposite, and hey, he can make 3,000+ mile navigational trip and come back to where he started. And besides, any fool can look up in the sky and *watch* the sun go around the Earth. Right!? Yet for 2000 years, mankind's best thinkers and philosophers believed something that was totally untrue.)
    2. That being wrong is a hallmark of science. That being wrong is how science differentiates between correct and incorrect theories - that is, that they must be falsifiable. That science progresses by falsifying old theories and adopting new ones. That what science believes to be true today could, with the discovery of additional evidence, be proven wrong tomorrow.
    3. That science often believes things on faith - for example, there's faith that someday we'll discover the means by which the first living cells came to be. It may even be a well founded faith - backed up by years of experimentation and data. But it's still faith.
    4. That science - unlike math - has never *proven* anything in its entire history.
    5. That unlike religious belief, science specifically restricts itself to theories of the natural - that is, material - world. Science can't tell you why, only how. It can't even address the question of God's existence, because it intentionally excludes supernatural questions from its purview.

    Now while you can understand and appreciate all of these things, this is going to be quite a stretch for most elementary and secondary education teachers, not to mention their students. A few students want to understand the depth of science. Most will be content just to know "what science says" so they can pass the test. Most will believe whatever is taught - whether creationism or evolution - without question.

    Having actually met a person in college who chose not to believe in God because of her HS biology class, I find it troubling that evolution is taught at all. Not because I take issue with the scientific theory, but because for so many, the fight over evolution is a fight over teaching against the existence of God. The science doesn't take a position one way or another, but so many have minds so small that they cannot understand the Genesis account of creation tells us who created us and why we were created, while science postulates about the process by which it came about. For an elementary or high school teacher to understand this, to articulate it well, and to get their students to understand it requires an intellect and a teaching ability few teachers possess. Evolution is better left for college, when students can appreciate the limits of the scientific method, of faith, and understand the difference between philosophy, religion, and science.

    And besides, given the difficulty with which professional evangelists having making converts, there is really very little likelihood that someone taught creationism will somehow become a believer by accident.

  • by canajin56 (660655) on Monday July 26, 2010 @10:33AM (#33030730)

    Don't call it a theory. "Irreducible complexity" is a demonstrably false hypothesis, not a theory. At any rate, his argument is basically "I can't see how this could evolve in steps, and as I am omniscient and omnipotent, that is proof of its impossibility, QED." At any rate, his implicit assumption that he's all knowing and all seeing is also easily refuted. He claims that there is a spider that shows irreducible complexity. However, it's easy to show steps how this spider could have evolved from a similar spider without ever being at a disadvantage, even though according to Behe, every single component is useless alone, and the spider is useless without all of them. Just utterly false. Irreducible complexity can also be shot down via Reducto Ad Absurdum. An arch is made of arch stones, and a keystone. Without the keystone, the entire arch collapses. Without the rest of the arch in place, the keystone cannot be placed. Therefore, one cannot build an arch, as it requires both parts to exist, and neither part can be placed without the other already in place.

    He also likes the mousetrap example. (Even though the mousetrap is designed). He says the current spring loaded wire mousetrap is irreducibly complex because without any of its components, it doesn't function. This is trivial to show as wrong: Start with a basic cartoon mousetrap. A box with a piece of cheese in it, and a stick on the cheese holding the box up. Flaws? The mouse can shift the box and perhaps escape. Solution: Hinge one edge so it is harder to shift the box. Next Flaw: It takes a lot of eating for the stick to fall, closing the trap. Solution: connect the stick to a latch, and place the bait on a pressure plate that will release the latch at a very light touch. Next Flaw: You can't move the trap because its bolted to the floor. Solution: Create a baseboard and hinge the lid to the base, not the floor. Next Flaw: It's still somewhat possible for the mouse to lift the box and escape underneath. Solution: Spring load the hinge so it closes with more force, and remains closed. Next Flaw: The mouse, being a rodent, can chew its way through the wooden box. Solution: Make the box out of metal. Next Flaw: When releasing mice into your field, they tend to head right back into your house for all the free grain. Solution: Remove the edges of the metal box except the hinged edge. This will strike the mouse with the force of the spring. Next Flaw: The sheet of metal distributes the force evenly over the mouse. A fair number survive, maimed and possibly trapped. You need to put them down yourself, and sometimes they escape and die in the wall. Solution: Replace the metal sheet with a metal wire so the force is focused on one point of their neck. And there you have it. You went from a primitive trap to a modern trap. Each step improved the efficiency of the design. Saying "A mousetrap needs the plate, the latch, the spring, the base, and the wire, and without any it is not functional" is true, but beside the point.

    With no exceptions, "irreducibly complex" bullshit that Behe has come up with can be shown to be reducible. And besides which, by asserting that all changes need to be beneficial, he's showing he knows nothing at all about evolution. Changes need only be not-highly-disadvantageous. They not only don't even need to be helpful, they can even be slightly harmful if it doesn't impact the creature TOO much.

  • by clarkkent09 (1104833) on Monday July 26, 2010 @10:33AM (#33030738)
    Umm, this Is government involvement in schools, it's just local government. Presumably what you mean when you say you want more government involvement is more federal government involvement. If you can do one single thing to make it easier for the fundies to take over, this is it. What happens then when the federal "school board" gets staffed with creationists. After all, where will you find these "experts" that you want to decide things for us? They will get elected by the population (that you have so much contempt for) or appointed by politicians who are elected by that same population. Suddenly, instead of some middle-of-nowhere town in Louisiana, the entire gets intelligent design in the school curriculum.

    As
  • by Nadaka (224565) on Monday July 26, 2010 @10:39AM (#33030840)

    Agree, freedom of religion is also freedom from religion.

    Creationism has no place in a science class.

    If it is to be taught anywhere, it should be in a comparative religion class where they also teach the Greek myths, Norse Legends, Hindu epics, Aboriginal dream-time, and Quetzalcoatl.

  • by thrawn_aj (1073100) on Monday July 26, 2010 @10:41AM (#33030870)

    Why is the origin of the planet such a big deal?

    Inquiring minds want to know. Healthy children ask questions like these all the time. Science is not merely society's genie, it is the best way we have found of actually satisfying our curiosity (instead of merely glorifying these questions and making them sacred). One goal of science class (like any other class) is to encourage curious minds to continue to be curious, something they may not be getting in too-religious households. Another goal is to teach students how to systematize their curiosity so that they can actually get or find answers to their questions instead of merely getting off on the questions themselves. A curious mind is a good start - one that is also trained to successfully find answers is what we call a scientist.

    What part of believing that men came from apes in the past is required to understand how mutations, genetics, and natural selection work in the present day?

    None at all. A science teacher who asks for belief is an asshole (you won't find many of these - well, except for the numbnuts teaching creationism). Besides, you're confusing theory with what it's trying to explain. Using the evolutionary paradigm, you can work backward in time to figure out how we got here or forward in time to predict what happens (the other things in your list). Ironically, it is religiosity projecting its own sins (of arrogant and unshakable belief) on science that creates such misunderstandings.

  • by mibe (1778804) on Monday July 26, 2010 @10:45AM (#33030962)
    There's a big difference though. Asserting that the Big Bang began everything does not end inquiry into the Big Bang itself. It's just that, with our current level of technology and understanding of the physical laws of the universe, that's the best explanation we've got. I assure you that the Big Bang will be looked at in better detail as soon as scientists are able to, because that's what scientists do. Why do you think we'll just sit around saying, "Oh Big Bang got it, let's talk about something else" when evolution, which already has mounds of evidence to back it up, is still an active area of research? No, the origin of the universe, like the origin of species (and the origin of life) is too much of a mystery, too tantalizing to let go.
  • Just get advocates of different belief systems together and let them logically debate and come to a mutually acceptable solution, like scientists would about any other topic.

    Any scientist worthy of the title doesn't debate; they experiment. So no, it's not at all like what a real scientist would do.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 26, 2010 @10:54AM (#33031114)
    I think they should be allowed to teach "Intelligent Design" after they explain where their hypothesized Intelligent Designer was intelligently designed --their entire point, after all, is the claim that the complexity of life and intelligence is beyond the abilities of evolution to accomplish. Therefore, since their proposed Intelligent Designer is by-definition intelligent and complex....
  • by thrawn_aj (1073100) on Monday July 26, 2010 @10:56AM (#33031148)

    Can we assume that what we observe in the world is an accurate representation of reality?

    Until you can unambiguously define the latter without reference to the former, this question is at best a semantic clusterfark or at worst meaningless. It's a classic example of conveniently forgetting the roots of definitions halfway through an argument. The matrix would be the only reality if Zion did not exist. It takes the ability to step outside the matrix for the concept of "outside" to even make sense. We can debate for years about epistemological vs. ontological reality but the fact remains that only one of these is testable. Philosophical questions are interesting no doubt but I don't see why they are somehow exempt from the burden of proof (at least in principle) or why they are allowed to close their eyes to every single thing we actually have discovered about the nature of reality in the past century as if philosophy is somehow detached from the dictates of reality. Another pet peeve I have with philosophers is that they tend to get irritated with people who try to actually answer a question instead of leisurely dwelling on it with no eventual outcome. Reminds me of committees =)

  • by clone53421 (1310749) on Monday July 26, 2010 @10:56AM (#33031152) Journal

    A single dinosaur bone in Precambrian sandstone would disprove evolution quite nicely, or a bird fossil found in sediments that date from before the evolution of reptiles.

    Sigh. No it wouldn’t... just like the scores of oddities that exist in the fossil record that evolution has similarly chosen to explain away. Upside-down strata, trees standing vertically for millions of years waiting for the fossils to be deposited around them...

    Hell, if a SINGLE dinosaur bone was found in Precambrian sandstone, scientists would call it a fake or a hoax. Unless perhaps it was discovered in the middle of a live TV broadcast and seen by millions. And then they would DEFINITELY call it a hoax. And quite likely it would be.

    Now, if dozens of bones were found, evolutionists would have more of a problem, but even so I have no doubt they could quite easily find a good enough explanation to satisfy just about everyone except the creationists.

  • by clarkkent09 (1104833) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:01AM (#33031270)
    There are some thing that should not be left up to the states to decide as far as curriculum is concerned.

    Why not? What makes the federal government immune to pressure from creationist groups? Isn't that a case of putting all your eggs in one basket?

    If you want to teach religious doctrine to your children, then by all means, send them to a private school.

    This is not really a fair option. Religious people's taxes pay for the public schools as well. They have every right to fight for what they think should be thought to their children in public schools, rather than paying for their education twice (once through taxes, and again through private school fees).
  • by Jawnn (445279) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:01AM (#33031272)

    What you fail to see and what evolutionists seem to want to ignore is that science actually proves creationism.

    Actually, it does not. Indeed, science actually "proves" very little. It certainly should not pretend to answer questions that are of a clearly spiritual nature, like "Who made the heavens and the earth?", at least until we come up with a means for detecting/measuring the things that would be required in such a "proof". On the other hand, science is pretty damned handy for explaining things like, "How did the earth come to be the way it is?"

    That said, much of what science does show me leads me to believe that there is indeed intelligence in much of the "design" of our universe. The difference is that I am not so arrogant to suggest that science comes anywhere close to "proving" my pet belief system.

  • by Gravatron (716477) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:04AM (#33031308)
    your not talking about Evolution, your talking about Abiogenesis. That's an entirely different theory altogether, with it's own debate and evidence.

    As for the major changes via evolution, that's just a matter of time. We know from Dog breeding that selection can result in massive physical changes. How else can you get a poodle out of a Wolf?

    Dogs are still a single species, but I imagine if you kept specializing them, they would eventually become separate ones.
  • by JDSalinger (911918) * on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:31AM (#33031894)
    Why should we have classes on religions? Discussing ethics and morality is obviously of paramount importance, while adding dogma to this discourse is not. Should there be entire classes on Scientology and ancient religions or just the ones you personally think contain validity? The graveyard of dead deities we call mythology are gods and religions that people once took as seriously as you do in your religion. It is 2010. The majority of intelligent people are just being polite and trying to not to hurt religious peoples' feelings at this point.
  • by TubeSteak (669689) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:33AM (#33031944) Journal

    If God does exist, and he created the universe, science would be the method us humans use to test, document, and explain the universe.

    It's akward because when [Abrahamic Holy Book] was written, science as we know it didn't exist and the writers attributed everything to God.
    Things go from "akward" to "my head hurts" when fundies insist that [Abrahamic Holy Book] is perfect and cannot be wrong.

    Hence the ongoing troubles with Bible Literalists sitting on schoolboards and pushing Creationism.

  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:39AM (#33032076)

    My tax dollars should not be spent on indoctrinating kids into any cults or other magical thinking societies. You folks already get tax breaks on your fantasy, what more do you really think you should get?

  • by easterberry (1826250) on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:14PM (#33032730)
    What I'm saying is that by making a special term for biologists who accept evolution the ID people are implying that there is a legitimate scientific debate over the issue which there is not.

    The term creationists should use is "biologist". That is what I am saying. There are not two branches of biologists with equal ground and argument over the issue. There are creationists and there are biologists. One side's argument requires the rejection of the findings of modern biology the other is the study of it.

    "Evolutionist" implies a special subset of biology that does not exist. They should call them "biologist" and drop the pretense that they have a valid scientific claim.
  • by Captain Splendid (673276) * <capsplendid.gmail@com> on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:26PM (#33032942) Homepage Journal
    And the answer would be simple: DON'T question the creator.
  • by ultranova (717540) on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:35PM (#33033118)

    They can't use the term "biologists" because there are people (though not many) who study biology but agree with the IDers. Claiming that they have to refer to their opponents as "biologists" is like saying you can't have different terms for "physicist" and "proponent of the theory of quantum mechanics".

    Seeing how the computer you're reading this message on works by utilizing quantum mechanics [wikipedia.org], and in fact atoms couldn't exist in classical physics (since electrons couldn't orbit nucleus, being charged particles and thus losing energy to electromagnetic radiation), I'd say it would be quite questionable to call someone "physicist" who wasn't a proponent of quantum mechanics.

    There is a difference between arguing in good faith and in bad faith, and frankly, a biologist denying evolution or a physicist denying quantum physics crosses the line from honest uncertainty to intentional deception.

  • by NotBornYesterday (1093817) on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:37PM (#33033180) Journal
    Well, your theory of Infernal Design would certainly explain a lot that other theories don't. Like the inner workings of the IRS. Or the DMV.
  • by arthurpaliden (939626) on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:48PM (#33033388)
    You have to remember that the original people who settled in what is now the United States did so for religious reasons. The found that main stream religion in Europe had become too progressive and at odds with the intolerant and orthodox beliefs of the Puritans. So the Puritans left Europe/England for a life in the New World where they could be as intolerant and orthodox as they liked. This ebbed a bit after the major influx of immigrants in the 19th and 20th centuries but with the major strides in science threatening their beliefs they are once again using the same techniques as Islam in order to shame and pressure their belief system upon everyone else.
  • by easterberry (1826250) on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:52PM (#33033452)
    I have a legitimate problem with them creating a term to indicate a divide which does not meaningfully exist. The people who study evolution are called "biologists". I am fine with them using "evolutionary biologists" if they are discussing the specific subset of biology specifically devoted to the study of biology but to use "evolutionist" implies that modern biological science and evolution are not intrinsically intertwined which is fallacious. What you don't seem to be getting about my point is that I am saying that they SHOULD NOT be using a using a special term to define those who disagree with them.

    It is disingenuous and akin to the XKCD comic where there's the cereal on the shelf that says "arsenic free". The point being that while it's technically true, the implication of stating it by it's very nature brings up unsaid assumptions about the topic which are inherently UNtrue. (that the other cereal contains arsenic or that the study of evolution has equal ground to the study of creationism)
  • by JohnBailey (1092697) on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:58PM (#33033582)

    Doesn't surprise me a bit. The more prudish the society, the larger the teenage pregnancy rate.

    I grew up in Ireland, at a time when contraception had to be prescribed by the local doctor, but only for married couples with a note from the priest. The only thing stopping an explosion of teenage mothers was the ease of access to English abortion clinics. And a lot of young girls "spending time with relatives in another county".

    I went to a convent run school for a while, and the only sex education was a single film shown in total silence. No questions to be asked!! So I have a hunch this film was not willingly shown. Took me years to figure out what the hell self abuse was in this context. Good thing I grew up on a farm. Or I could be a dad by now.

  • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Monday July 26, 2010 @01:08PM (#33033790)

    Exactly, and that perfectly explains why "Intelligent Design" is not science: the entire point of science is asking questions and then finding the answers through experimentation. No questioning, no science!

  • by Rinikusu (28164) on Monday July 26, 2010 @01:29PM (#33034182)

    The fucking Christians already have a way to indoctrinate their kids. It's called fucking "CHURCH." If they're going to try to push creationism, then what version are they going to teach? What makes "intelligent design" any more reasonable than Hindu or other creation stories? No, this is just a veiled attempt to try and keep "christianity" relevant as we push further and further away from our fundamentalist, backwards, ancestral belief systems.

  • by dropzonetoe (1167883) on Monday July 26, 2010 @01:32PM (#33034240)
    I wholeheartedly agree with you. If you want to teach religious view in schools don't stop at just your religion.
  • Evolution (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 26, 2010 @01:43PM (#33034456)

    Minor genetic mutations that enhance the likelihood of survival, or mutations that diminish a organism chance of survival, or even mutations that have no negative or positive benefit. When the population of a organism is radically reduced by a outside factor the genetic pool becomes smaller causing a increase in mutations and thus increasing the opportunity for one or more variations to succeed and overcome the outside factor, while the organism that have a negative mutation will likely not survive long enough to reproduce. Selective breeding is not the cause but the results in most cases, a mutation that limits survival also limits the opportunity to reproduce.

    Creationism defies our very observations of the world around us, we can experience the process of evolution in our daily lives.
    Take Lawn mowing for example, let your yard grow big, and all the plants grow as though they were wild, but add the factor of cutting grass, this will diminish the survival of tall weeds, if you for instance cut your yard every week then all the tall variations of said weed will not have a chance to survive, each week the tall weeds will gradually reduce to zero while the medium will reduce to a smaller number and the short (flat) ones will continue to thrive and reproduce, we see this with dandelions most prominently, when we consider a dandelions growth as its genetic trait, tall, medium, and short (flat).

    We know with humans that genetic mutations occur more when the genetic pool is smaller, and occur most when incest is evident, The two toe tribe is a great example of a genetic mutation that was neither beneficial nor negative to survival, and yet selective breeding ensured the trait survived.

  • by Jeff Carr (684298) <slashdot@com.jeffcarr@info> on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @02:01PM (#33049110) Homepage
    The earth is flat though! It's not the earth, but space that's curved due to the influence of gravity, causing the edges of the earth to meet. I don't get why otherwise reasonable people don't understand this.

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