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Why Are Some Hell-Bent On Teaching Intelligent Design? 1293

Posted by samzenpus
from the just-the-facts-mam dept.
Funksaw writes "Here's an op-ed by first-time politician, long-time Slashdotter Brian Boyko, where he talks about his experiences testifying at the Texas Board of Education in favor of having real science in science textbooks. But beyond that, he also tries to examine, philosophically, why there is such hardened resistance to the idea of evolution in Texas. From the article: '[W]hat is true is that evolution tests faith. The fact of evolution is incontrovertible and supported by mounds of empirical evidence. Faith, on the other hand, is fragile. It is supported only by the strength of human will. And this is where it gets tricky. Because to many believers, faith, not works, is the only guarantee that one can pass God's litmus test and gain access to His divine kingdom. To lose one's faith is to literally damn oneself. So tests to that faith must be avoided at all costs. Better to be a philosophical coward than a theological failure.'"
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Why Are Some Hell-Bent On Teaching Intelligent Design?

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  • God of the Gaps (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ksemlerK (610016) <kurtsemlerNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday September 20, 2013 @02:02AM (#44899913) Homepage
    As scientific knowledge advances, god shrinks.
    • by Cryacin (657549) on Friday September 20, 2013 @02:09AM (#44899939)
      If God did create us, how bad an engineer do you have to be to put a sewage outlet right in the middle of a recreational area?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Well, the fact that he couldn't make up his bloody mind at all in the Bible might have something to do with it—what with all the smiting and so forth. You'd think a perfect being would be a tad better at manufacturing and maintaining a harmonious world. (Maybe one without apple trees?)
        • by kh31d4r (2591021) on Friday September 20, 2013 @03:14AM (#44900267)
          Or at least one without Apple.
        • by Big Hairy Ian (1155547) on Friday September 20, 2013 @04:47AM (#44900709)
          Smiting??? Ahhh you mean percussive maintenance :)
      • by neonmonk (467567) on Friday September 20, 2013 @02:15AM (#44899967)

        Sex is for procreation not recreation! Sinner!

      • by enoz (1181117)

        If you think humans were badly engineered then spare a thought for the birds. God gave them a cloaca.

      • Re:More importantly (Score:5, Informative)

        by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Friday September 20, 2013 @02:27AM (#44900045)

        And he put the retinas in backwards too.

        Also, what type of idiot wires up the larynx via the heart? I could maybe understand if there was a ganglion down there, but no - it's just a nerve that doubles back on itsself for no good reason.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 20, 2013 @02:52AM (#44900155)

        The problems is that users have also been finding recreation in that sewage outlet in ways said engineer had not intended.

      • by Capsaicin (412918) * on Friday September 20, 2013 @03:04AM (#44900211)

        If God did create us, how bad an engineer do you have to be to put a sewage outlet right in the middle of a recreational area?

        You can hardly blame God for that. God merely created us in his own image ... blame the engineer who designed God!

      • Re:More importantly (Score:5, Interesting)

        by tlambert (566799) on Friday September 20, 2013 @03:13AM (#44900249)

        If God did create us, how bad an engineer do you have to be to put a sewage outlet right in the middle of a recreational area?

        Assuming we were designed (a big assumption), it's a lot easier to credit engineering skill when you get a second degree burn, and you end up healing. Think about it; how would you handle a design requirement for an empty planet with no replacement parts readily available?

      • by WillKemp (1338605) on Friday September 20, 2013 @04:10AM (#44900533) Homepage

        The problem is that we created god - and we obviously weren't very good engineers because the god we created seems to be a bit of an arsehole.

      • by Joce640k (829181) on Friday September 20, 2013 @04:31AM (#44900649) Homepage

        If God did create us, how bad an engineer do you have to be to put a sewage outlet right in the middle of a recreational area?

        That's a flippant quote, but seriously, the number of major design flaws is staggering.

        eg. Why does food go down the same hole as the air? How many people choke to death on food every day?

    • Re:God of the Gaps (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 20, 2013 @02:15AM (#44899969)

      Um, no. God only shrinks if you're explanation for every problem is "God did it". If that's why you believe in a deity, then you miss the point of faith.

      To make the point differently, just because I know exactly how a chair was built, it doesn't mean that I stop believing that a carpenter built it.

      • Re:God of the Gaps (Score:5, Insightful)

        by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo@NOspAm.world3.net> on Friday September 20, 2013 @02:23AM (#44900021) Homepage

        The point of faith is to believe that God cares about you, or that at least there is some kind of meaning or justice in the universe. Otherwise it's just the cold, unfeeling place that science tells us it is.

        The problem is that every time science figures out some natural process and shows that it is in fact governed by hard, unfeeling laws or simple randomness it detracts from the idea that God cares. People start to realize that instead of just having faith that he will make things work out they have to try to understand the world and control it as best they can.

        • Re:God of the Gaps (Score:4, Insightful)

          by MrL0G1C (867445) on Friday September 20, 2013 @02:49AM (#44900147) Journal

          This god allows those that don't believe in it to burn in some stinking hell for eternity, doesn't sound like it cares to me.

        • Re:God of the Gaps (Score:5, Insightful)

          by twotailakitsune (1229480) on Friday September 20, 2013 @02:56AM (#44900177)
          The thing is we moved from a caring god being at the top of the food chain, to Ebenezer Scrooge being at the top. So no wonder people want God.
        • Re:God of the Gaps (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Sockatume (732728) on Friday September 20, 2013 @03:43AM (#44900401)

          This idea that an impersonal universe must be one without warmth, feeling, meaning or justice is one of the great PR success stories of religion. It's complete bollocks though.

        • Re:God of the Gaps (Score:5, Interesting)

          by gottabeme (590848) on Friday September 20, 2013 @03:52AM (#44900455)

          The problem is that every time science figures out some natural process and shows that it is in fact governed by hard, unfeeling laws or simple randomness it detracts from the idea that God cares. People start to realize that instead of just having faith that he will make things work out they have to try to understand the world and control it as best they can.

          No, it doesn't detract from that idea at all. There is nothing incompatible with the ideas that God created a universe governed by natural laws and that God cares about human beings.

          The real problem is that you throw around the phrase, "He will make things work out" without qualifying it. There are people who believe in predestination, that we are all puppets controlled by God, and there are people who believe that God doesn't exist. But there are many more people in between.

        • Re:God of the Gaps (Score:4, Insightful)

          by WillKemp (1338605) on Friday September 20, 2013 @04:21AM (#44900583) Homepage

          The problem is that every time science figures out some natural process and shows that it is in fact governed by hard, unfeeling laws or simple randomness it detracts from the idea that God cares.

          Nah, you'd have to be pretty delusional to believe that god cares. Just look at the horror and misery going on around the world all the time - if there was a god that cared, it wouldn't be like that. And the old bullshit line that it's all part of god's mysterious plan, is nothing but desperate rationalization.

        • Re:God of the Gaps (Score:5, Interesting)

          by msobkow (48369) on Friday September 20, 2013 @06:19AM (#44901053) Homepage Journal

          The universe is God's body. God is just this naval-gazing super entity sending out shards of life force to explore it's own existence.

          The God I believe in doesn't give a damn about individual lives or planets any more than I stress out when I lose a hangnail. If it's a *big* hangnail, there may be a moment of pain, but individual cell death is not noticed at all.

          Sure my view doesn't give one the "comfort" of an all-knowing and all-powerful benevolent God, but God has only been "benevolent" for about 2000 years in the first place. Prior to that it was a veangeful creature of anger and smiting, thrashing people into submission if they didn't sacrifice enough goats and cattle.

      • Re:God of the Gaps (Score:5, Interesting)

        by beelsebob (529313) on Friday September 20, 2013 @02:54AM (#44900169)

        Um, no. God only shrinks if you're explanation for every problem is "God did it". If that's why you believe in a deity, then you miss the point of faith.

        Not at all, that was the exact purpose of faith in it's original form –to explain away thing we couldn't yet explain, and to explain things to people who couldn't understand them.

        Why did this huge flood happen that ruined our crops? Dunno^W I mean... God did it!
        Why do we celebrate $festival around the end of december? Because god told you to! (Or alternatively, because it's when you need to feast on the animals you don't need to survive the winter, because otherwise they'll eat all the grain stores and no animals at all will survive, including you)
        Why do we have a 40 day fast at the end of winter? Because god told you to! (Or alternatively, because the village elder didn't want to tell you that the supplies were running out and that everyone needed to survive on fuck all until the harvest came in) ...

      • Re:God of the Gaps (Score:5, Insightful)

        by anubi (640541) on Friday September 20, 2013 @03:07AM (#44900221) Journal

        just because I know exactly how a chair was built, it doesn't mean that I stop believing that a carpenter built it.

        The same paradigm was the first thing that popped into my mind when I saw this topic.

        From since my childhood, I was raised religious ( Baptist, Pentecostal ), and I was of the observation that the whole purpose of the Church was to teach obedience to authority. We were supposed to be sheep and "turn the other cheek". As far as I was concerned, Christianity was something like a mental computer virus which was crafted to enrich the coffers of the church and religious leaders at the expense of anyone who they could convince to take their teaching seriously. The centerpiece of the whole thing seemed to be the great ceremony of the passing of the plate, as well as getting out there and converting others to the faith. It seemed to me that being a Christian meant: 1) I would not steal anyone else's stuff, 2) I would not fight back if someone else took my stuff, and 3) I would pay a 10% tithe on everything I make to the people who taught me to do this.

        What got me was this faith thing.

        From personal experience, "faith" seemed to have little correlation to reality. As far as I was concerned, "faith" was what I had if I went-a-gambling; and I was told gambling was sinful. I have had faith in a lot of things. Things that should have worked, and didn't because of some unforeseen element - which became apparent to me after the fact the thing did not work as intended. Due diligence seemed to have far more effect on a positive outcome than hope.

        From what I can tell of religions, it appears the ones I have been influenced by seemed that God was some sort of another word for Statistics. Maybe I would get what I prayed for, maybe I would not. I still lack conclusive evidence that God is some sort of businessman who has accounts payable and a big bag of blessings and curses which he levies on those who pay up in Church and those that drank beer on Sunday. Maybe God is Statistics. More like "What goes around comes around."

        From the Bible: "In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, the word was God." ( John 1:1 ). The Word in my understanding is the basic physical laws that runs this universe. The same stuff scientists study. It was science who convinced me that there is some sort of intelligence out there which resulted in the formation of me and everything I observe. The religious people call this God, Spirit, and all sorts of other names, but it seems to be a universal human observation that we are likely not the top in the chain of command in the Universe.

        I would venture to say that every religion I have encountered is very destructive to my faith in God, as they seem to try in every conceivable way to lead me into some sort of belief system where creation is some sort of business, with all sorts of freeloaders needing to be paid off in order to keep the God they refer to happy. I try to think of myself as an ethical person - and there are things I have to know for sure, not faith, before I feel comfortable trying to influence anyone else with it. I do not give investment advice for the same reason. I am often wrong. I felt very uncomfortable counseling people in grief that some tooth fairy was going to swoop down and take care of their problems. Nor could I believe that God was a force I can bargain with. The Bible has God referring to himself as: "I am that I am" ( Exodus 3:14 ).

        As far as I am concerned, science verifies God. For years I have had the tagline:."Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21].

        That one line of scripture, taken right out of the Bible, summarizes my whole take on it. Incidentally, it was a preacher on "The Simpsons" that turned me onto it.

    • Re:God of the Gaps (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 20, 2013 @02:18AM (#44899995)

      It is a simplistic view. I feel Feynman puts it more maturely than I can... http://calteches.library.caltech.edu/49/2/Religion.htm [caltech.edu]

      • Re:God of the Gaps (Score:4, Interesting)

        by An dochasac (591582) on Friday September 20, 2013 @06:34AM (#44901151)

        When you have faith, true faith you see the weird man-made scaffolding of intelligent design theories as unnecessary and counterproductive. Where God seems to conflict with science some choose to believe that one is right and the other is wrong when the truth is that both are in harmony and it is our understanding of both that is flawed. Those who read only their own ephemeral rules, theories and prejudices into the bible have not accepted the spirit which is necessary to guide each of us through the poetry of God's creation whenever it seems to conflict with the logic of what we think we know.

        A faithful person also knows (as any honest scientist should know), that those "gaps" where God must exist are enormous. The amount of her universe(s) we truly understand is vanishingly small, far less than 0.00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000001% of the universe is known to us. What we know is certainly smaller than ourselves, our brain [discovermagazine.com], a leaf of grass [bartleby.com], , DNA [sciencedirect.com], atoms, quarks, strings and everything [livescience.com]. While we've come to learn more about each of these things with each passing day, we should accept that a scientist 50 or 100 years from now would look at the social constructs we know as scientific beliefs [wikipedia.org] as being remarkably simplistic. Even for agnostics and atheists who choose to disbelieve in a universal creator with more embedded intelligence than the 3 pounds of chemicals within their brains, the Judeo-Christian bible contains remnants of the human story which pre-dates agriculture and civilization. In this age of short attention spans we need such an anchor to counter-balance pop-cultural fads and give us a longer view of humanity.

    • by globaljustin (574257) <justinglobal AT gmail DOT com> on Friday September 20, 2013 @03:57AM (#44900469) Homepage Journal

      As scientific knowledge advances, god shrinks.

      You and the author of TFA take a mind-numbingly reductive framing of the issue and it just causes **more** arguments and solidifies the opposition harder...

      Your first problem is that you take the word of an idiot.

      These Texas book controversies...they **defy all logic**. You'd agree and so would TFA's author. People have written tomes on this very discussion thread that impressively elucidate the sub-moronic notions of these wackos...

      Yet you just **assume** that their words can be taken at face value that they truly are describing their reasons for pushing these textbooks.

      And it's about textbooks, and public education and society in general here...if these people just kept their mouth shut and let professionals write the text you'd have *no gripe* with their dumbness...

      No...YOU are an idiot for **taking their stated reasons seriously**

      You do exactly what they want, fall into the predictable opposition mode...

      WHICH HELPS THEM SELL MORE FUCKING TEXTBOOKS

      This really is about money pure and simple....there is a built-in market for these textbooks and in the greater sense suppressing science helps corporations avoid accountability on a host of issues...

      religion is only a *vector* in this instance

      stop playing their fool's game

    • Re:God of the Gaps (Score:4, Insightful)

      by xelah (176252) on Friday September 20, 2013 @04:07AM (#44900511)

      I think that might be a bit simplistic....apart from anything else, you'd have to ask 'why should they care so much about that?'. The reasons suggested for why religion exists and is held so strongly are quite numerous, and I'd expect quite a few to be true. For example:

      Religion is evolutionarily useful to humans because it helps a group perform acts of high altruism towards each other without becoming unable to perform acts of extreme warfare on the tribe next door with different beliefs. If you think of anything which becomes hotly debated like evolution vs creationism as a potential group marker, you could consider a battle over it in schools to be a battle over a child's group affiliation.

      Religions are like mind-viruses that exploit human mental weaknesses, and the successful ones have evolved to do this better than others. One way to be successful is to co-opt humans' moral sense and transmission mechanism. Humans have an urge to transmit their codes of morality, especially to children, and so religions (like Christianity) which make their followers believe that belief is morally good will produce believers who honestly and fervently try very hard to push an environment on children which will make them believe the same. And, of course, morality involves emotions like disgust and admiration that don't disappear just because you realize they're illogical.

      Religions were invented as ways to explain in the absence of a better method: to explain how the world is how it is, and also to explain why we have moral feelings. But as it's passed down generations the religious then take it as a reliable source of knowledge and so a challenge to this method of knowledge gathering becomes a challenge to the validity of morality (as they see it).

      Religion comes from detecting agency where there is none. When humans see something happening/moving/whatever it's safer to assume something is behind it (like a predator) and run, and so humans are biased towards this. Apply this to trees falling, storms happening, floods, and build from there. So this plays to people's fears that there's something huge and dangerous there you don't want to annoy or challenge. Saying 'you didn't do all this!' in the face of a perceived claim of the opposite is quite a big challenge.

    • Re:God of the Gaps (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Friday September 20, 2013 @06:57AM (#44901255)

      As scientific knowledge advances, god shrinks.

      I would challenge you to prove that statement. There is nothing inherent in scientific knowledge that would cause a belief in god or faith to shrink. The catholic church is the largest private funder of the sciences, it seems that they wouldn't be doing that if it was going to ultimately cause their demise.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 20, 2013 @02:09AM (#44899935)

    Check out Bob Altemeyer's - 'The Authoritarians' and his chapter about religious fundamentalist. It explains quite a bit about this strange ID movement - (and it is based on experiments and only theories) :
    http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~altemey/

  • by 91degrees (207121) on Friday September 20, 2013 @02:11AM (#44899943) Journal

    The argument seems to go as follows:

    If evolution is true, then Genesis is false

    If Genesis is fals ethen the whole of the Bible is called into question.

    If the Bible is called into question then it is no basis for morality.

    If the Bible is no basis for morality then the ten commandments are invalid.

    Therefore if evlution is true, there's no prohibition on murder.

    Clearly we could play a game of spot the logical fallacy but this seems to be the issue creationists have with evolution.

    • by BeerCat (685972)

      That sums it up pretty well. And doesn't even touch upon the inherent contradictions in different parts of the Bible (particularly in different chapters of Genesis), which anyone could spot if they had actually read it, rather than going on the "edited highlights" of a preacher from one particular part of the established church.

      • by rts008 (812749) on Friday September 20, 2013 @03:46AM (#44900423) Journal

        Having read Genesis, I have had a question that no one has been able to answer to my satisfaction, since I was 8 years old.

        Genesis 4:17 "Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch; and he built a city, and called the name of the city after the name of his son, Enoch."
        Where did Cain's wife come from?
        We have Adam (allegedly made by God), then God anesthetizes him to extract a rib to make Eve.(cloning?)
        Then Adam and Eve have Cain, then Abel. Cain kills Abel, God marks him and 'runs him out of town'.
        Then Cain gets married...and has a kid, then builds a city.
        Married to who? Eve?(at this stage Eve is the ONLY female on the planet, supposedly) Then Cain built a city. A city? For whom? WTF is going on here?

        So....my take on all of this is:
        Adam is screwing his gender-changed clone, and making babies; the baby boy is screwing either his mother, or his imagination, and they have a kid.
        So, all humans come from this mess?

        Or...
        Quantum physics has been getting weaker all of this time...back then there were people popping into existence, now we only get sub-atomic particles popping in, soon to be 'nothing' popping in, then the process reverses?

        Or....
        Recreational drugs were much better back when this book was written, than they were in the 1960's and 1970's.

        Whew!!!! Enoch's family tree looks like a coconut tree...straight trunk, no branches, and just a few nuts at the top. Holy Hapsburgs, Batman!

        And that's just the first handful of chapters in this book so many people have tried to get me to take seriously all of my remembered life! No thanks!!!

        And don't even get me started on the biggest con job ever pulled on a husband....Immaculate Conception!
        "Honest dear hubby, it was either that toilet seat in Jerusalem, or God did it!"

        Hmmmm...Does this mean Jesus was a bastard? Oh, the Irony!

        • by rasmusbr (2186518) on Friday September 20, 2013 @06:25AM (#44901089)

          The text was written by and for people who lived in a time when most people had lots of kids, both sons and daughters. The author probably assumed that his readers would assume that Adam and Eve had daughters as well as sons.

          It also says in Genesis 5:4 that Adam lived for 800 years and had sons and daughters so someone who read the whole text would not be confused, except by the age of the guy I guess.

    • Genesis (Score:4, Interesting)

      by gd2shoe (747932) on Friday September 20, 2013 @02:50AM (#44900151) Journal

      (Speaking as a Bible believing Christian)

      You're ignoring the fundamental problem with Genesis 1 (and thus, creation: including animals). If Man did not exist yet, who was observing the creation? How did man come to know about it?

      The obvious theological answer was that God and/or angels told someone about it between Adam and Moses (inclusive). The problem with many of Gods (OT) explanations is that they tend to be in dreams and visions, which aren't usually literal. If it was angels, then surely we got the simplified version. "Ooh, ooh! Tell me again about the divergence of Lorises and Pottos!" "Sigh. Listen, kid, he just made them, OK?"

      All this arguing over evolution is silly. Faith does not need it, but that doesn't mean that it outright contradicts faith.

    • by uncle slacky (1125953) on Friday September 20, 2013 @03:02AM (#44900201)
      Almost right. The following explanation was (I think) originally posted on Slashdot a while back: If there was no Adam & Eve, there was no Fall, therefore no Original Sin, therefore no need for Jesus (assuming he existed) to die in order to "save" us from said Sin, therefore no "eternal life" - so it destroys the entire basis of their belief system. Or, as someone else pointed out downthread, it boils down to fear of death.
  • by neonmonk (467567) on Friday September 20, 2013 @02:13AM (#44899955)

    Fundamentalist Christians. Seriously, this is not in need of a deep philosophical examination. Those that follow stone age mysticism get upset when science threatens & exposes their religious insecurities. When there's a lot of them, they will use legal means to enforce their superstitions. Like Texas.

  • Polarising message (Score:3, Insightful)

    by c0lo (1497653) on Friday September 20, 2013 @02:13AM (#44899957)

    Ummm... the way TFT(itle) is worded throws some gas over fire.

    How's that for a believer: "If you believe in Inteligent Design, then you are bent by hell"?
    How this way of framing the topic helps a civilized tone for a discussion?

  • Because... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jawtheshark (198669) * <slashdotNO@SPAMjawtheshark.com> on Friday September 20, 2013 @02:16AM (#44899973) Homepage Journal

    ... it pretty much removes God from the whole picture. His place is then relegated to the creation of life in it's absolutely fundamental form, where evolution takes over. Personally, I think that abiogenesis is the better rational explanation. The people who want intelligent design (or, let's call it by name: "creationism") have a problem with God of the gaps [wikipedia.org], so they desperately try to cling to a gap that has been filled a long time ago. The remaining gaps (like the actual "first life" and the "big bang") seem too insignificant for their great Skydaddy's glory.

  • by goldcd (587052) on Friday September 20, 2013 @02:18AM (#44899985) Homepage
    If "God created everything in a week" was accurate and provable, then it would be knowledge. Fine, heaven might have an entrance quiz, but regurgitating facts isn't an exhibition of faith.
    If there's nothing to test the view that you hold, it's simply not faith.

    There should be more evolution taught to enhance the levels of faith that Christians can hold. Surely learning about evolution, picking up a PhD, topping it with a Nobel prize for presenting categoric evidence for evolution, chucking in the missing link, and proving Monkeys evolved from humans - and then turning around to say you never actually believed any of it. Surely that's got to get you high "faith marks".
  • I disagree. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Friday September 20, 2013 @02:22AM (#44900011)

    That's the creationist side as seen by someone on the side of science, but it is not at all how the creationists view themselves. They aren't afraid of their faith being tested, because they believe their arguments are unbeatable and their faith secure - though they may worry about their children being lead astray.

    The key to understanding creationists is to realise that it isn't about creationism itsself. They have, as they would proudly call it, a 'God-centered worldview.' Everything comes down in some manner to their religious beliefs. Not just creationism, but their moral and political views, their attachment to national identity, their community, and their general vision of how things 'should be' in the world. They view Christianity not just as another religion among many, but as a defining aspect of western civilisation and that element which makes it great and has brought such prosperity through the ages.

    They also believe that Christianity and morality are one and the same. God is the standard of morality, the definition, and the source. Only Christians, as followers of the true God, know how to be moral people. Others might perform a reasonable immitation by following some social norms, but they are just denying that Christianity is their source. This is why they insist upon placing the ten commandments on public buildings: For them, 'Thou Shalt Not Kill' is the very reason murder is illegal: Had God not proclaimed that, and the faithful not kept it, then there would be no way for people to realise murder is an immoral act. Likewise for the theft thing.

    So that which threatens the doctrine of creation is far more concerning than a scientific debate: It is nothing less than an existential threat to civilisation itsself. Their concern is that if the population in general lose belief in the bible as inerrant - not belief in Christianity in general, but belief in the rock-solid beyond-debate 'truth' of the bible - then they will lose all spiritual direction. The bible will become fuzzy, a document where people can dismiss bits they don't like (The irony of this is quite lost on them as they happily tuck into their pork sausages). Before you know it, homosexuality will be accepted, prayer will be illegal, everyone will be having casual sex and marriage will be a thing of the past. Then people will start worshiping pagan idols, gangs of violent atheists will start roaming the streets killing people for fun, and eventually God will abandon the country and send the communists to take over and punish everyone.

    That's why they are so insistant. They believe the bible is the foundation for America and western civilisation in general. Take away the foundation, and the whole structure collapses. Creationism and patriotism are intertwined, almost inseperable.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 20, 2013 @02:36AM (#44900083)

      So to sum up: They're stupid.

      • Re:I disagree. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Pseudonym (62607) on Friday September 20, 2013 @03:32AM (#44900347)

        Clearly you didn't read it. The argument is that they see this not as an attack on their beliefs, but an attack on their values and their friends and their community and their country.

        The ironic part is that their brand of fundamentalism is not a traditional belief at all; it only dates back to the 1950s or so.

    • Re:I disagree. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by complete loony (663508) <Jeremy.Lakeman@gma i l . c om> on Friday September 20, 2013 @03:49AM (#44900445)

      Another point from the creationist / young earth / Intelligent Design side, ignoring any argument based on the story of creation or Adam. The young earth creationist who takes the story of Noah literally, doesn't agree with your interpretation of the fossil record and evolutionary history at all. Picture Japan's violent tsunami multiplied to a global scale, eroding away practically everything. The majority of the fossils and layered geological records then deposited as the turbulent ocean calmed down and the water receded from the land. The large flow of receding waters carved out river basins and canyons quite quickly from the soft sediments.

      For someone with this world view, the "Facts" of evolution are not incontrovertible. The story of evolution, as derived from the fossil record, is based on assumptions that the creationist doesn't agree with.

      That's not to say that the creationist disagrees with the facts of biology, as derived from examining living animals and how they change over time. It's the extrapolation of currently observed processes into the unknowable past that they disagree with.

  • by greg_barton (5551) <greg_barton AT yahoo DOT com> on Friday September 20, 2013 @02:27AM (#44900047) Homepage Journal

    I grew up in Texas and have lived here all of my life. The resistance to evolution can be summed up in one sentence:

    "You can't tell me what to fuckin' believe!"

    If some long haired city boy told them their face was on fire the'd refuse to believe it, basically.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 20, 2013 @03:03AM (#44900209)

      As a ~30-ish year "Native Texan", I can say that the only people who I've seen take that attitude are being presented with an aggressive argument about evolution (e.g. "Where is your god now!?"). Totally subjective, one data point, people I know, etc.
      I think the first step is to introduce the concept of an evolving world with a nod to possibly being part of "God's Plan"; a salesman won't get his foot in the door by opening with an insult.

    • It's a fringe group (Score:4, Informative)

      by bradley13 (1118935) on Friday September 20, 2013 @07:25AM (#44901463) Homepage

      Ok, I haven't lived in Texas for 2 decades now, but I was also born there, went to college there, etc..

      A relatively small group of religious conservatives have somehow taken over the Board of Education. [rationalwiki.org]

      Just how this happened, and why people put up with it, is something I cannot explain. Sure, Texas has it's share of religious whack jobs, but really no more than (and possibly fewer than) many other states a bit farther to the north and east.

      What's worse is that Texas has also become the state that many other states look to, to set a baseline for what textbooks their schools will use.

  • by leereyno (32197) on Friday September 20, 2013 @02:43AM (#44900111) Homepage Journal

    Biblical creationists believe that evolution undermines the idea of divine creation, specifically the idea that man is created in God's image. This is a very important belief for them. Without it, their world crumbles.

    When you present them with facts and evidence supporting evolution, they're not dispassionately evaluating the evidence, but desperately trying to avoid confronting it, to the point of profound intellectual dishonesty.

    They are what used to be called neurotic, irrational and disturbed in one specific area or about one specific thing, but otherwise relatively functional human beings, able to work, raise families, etc, etc.

    The answer to the question of why Biblical Creationists are like this is the same as the answer to the question of why some people are holocaust deniers, or Marxists, or followers of any other ideology or belief that is in obvious defiance of objective reality. They have invested their sense of self into this belief, and they cannot abandon that belief without sacrificing their sense of self along with it.

    So they hold on to that belief, no matter what.

  • by antifoidulus (807088) on Friday September 20, 2013 @02:51AM (#44900153) Homepage Journal
    The reason there are lots of politicians hell-bent on teaching Intelligent Design is really very similar to the reason the muslim world is currently the most fundamentalist on the planet: there is a perverse incentive in re-enforcing religious dogma. We will take Texas first because its easier, and for the most part, more familiar. Currently in large swaths of Texas "religious" is conflated with "good" and "moral". Therefore, anyone who wants power has to present themselves as being Christian, and thus "good" and "moral". Of course if you claim you are Gods warrior, anything you do in His name is justified, and thus you can plunder and steal as much as you want. Provided of course you are still rabidly defending "God". However if you start to weaken peoples fervent religious devotion and encourage them to think for themselves, well then they probably are a bit more likely to call you out for having your hand in the cookie jar, no matter how holy you claim to be.

    The situation is very similar in the Islamic world as well, with the huge amount of oil money coming in perhaps even exacerbating it. A lot of people(chief among them hardcore Christians) point to Quranic verses etc as proof that Islam is unable to modernize, but in reality, with one important exception(which I will get to later), the rules between the Abrahamic religions are very similar. The only difference is that modern Muslims actually adhere to them, whereas very few Christians actually follow the bible with any sort of rigor.

    The obvious question of course then is why? If the religions are fundamentally the same, why the discrepancy in how closely modern believers follow the rules? The answer again lies in perverse incentives. The fact that the industrial revolution was born in Europe gave Muslim leaders and interesting case study, what happens to religious leaders when society "modernizes"? The answer is that in most of the Western world(with the rural US pretty much being the only real exception) religious leaders went from the top of the social pyramid to near the bottom in a very short period of time. Muslim leaders like being at the top of the pyramid, especially since the aforementioned difference between the religions, the acceptance of polygamy by most Islamic societies, mean that being at the bottom of the social period means that you will have very few chances to get married(and in conservative societies, that often translates to very few opportunities to have sex). So you better believe that they will resist social modernization as much as possible.

    Long story short, if someone is vilifying science and praising religion, they are doing it solely for the sake of their own pocket book(and perhaps marital bed)
  • ha. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 20, 2013 @02:52AM (#44900159)

    If your faith cant stand a test. It wasn't very strong.

    I still can't believe we don't treat religion as a mental illness. You go around tellin everyone an invisible guy watches you all the time and tells you what to do.... They lock you up. You call that invisible guy god... And that's just a ok fine. Here have some tax exempt status.

    Religion is one of the major things holding back the human race. The faster we wise up the better.

  • by gottabeme (590848) on Friday September 20, 2013 @03:20AM (#44900289)

    From the article: '[W]hat is true is that evolution tests faith. The fact of evolution is incontrovertible and supported by mounds of empirical evidence.

    1. It is not a fact that human beings evolved from primordial goo. That would be an unsubstantiated assertion based on an extreme extrapolation of limited evidence of small-scale phenomena.

    2. Therefore, "evolution" only tests misguided faith. In fact, even the idea that humans evolved from goo is not ultimately incompatible with faith in God or in intelligent design. This is because the point of ID/Creationism is not how God created, but that God created.

    The idea that the Creation stories in Genesis are meant to literally describe how God created is another matter entirely, and it is the blind insistence upon this presupposition that results in so much hot air being expelled on both sides of the issue.

    Faith, on the other hand, is fragile. It is supported only by the strength of human will. And this is where it gets tricky. Because to many believers, faith, not works, is the only guarantee that one can pass God's litmus test and gain access to His divine kingdom. To lose one's faith is to literally damn oneself.

    That's because that's what Christ said. "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned." Mk 16:16

    So tests to that faith must be avoided at all costs. Better to be a philosophical coward than a theological failure.

    Many people's faith is, sadly, based on fragile ideas like Creation stories being literal, or every word written in the Bible being intended literally. To those people, their faith would be quite jeopardized by atheists yelling loudly that there is no God, that the Bible is wrong, that we evolved from goo, etc.

    Other people's faith may be based on rational thinking, such as the ideas that the universe or living beings are too complex to have happened randomly, or that the evidence of Christ's resurrection is strong. Such faith can handle Creation stories not necessarily being literal, and the idea of evolution, and the idea of the Bible being inspired by God yet composed by humans and therefore not literally perfect (or always literal).

    It is a popular--and recent--misconception that faith and reasoning are incompatible. Many, if not most, of the great minds of the ages were believers in God or in other forms of religion. The idea that religious people are necessarily irrational fools is simply a lie; there are plenty of both religious and atheistic people who are irrational fools.

    • by Ckwop (707653) <Simon.Johnson@gmail.com> on Friday September 20, 2013 @03:50AM (#44900449) Homepage

      The idea that the Creation stories in Genesis are meant to literally describe how God created is another matter entirely, and it is the blind insistence upon this presupposition that results in so much hot air being expelled on both sides of the issue.

      In practically every thread you get someone who tries to reconcile evolution with theism. They say, well, "God created the system of evolution. Tada!" or "God guides evolution. Tada!"

      The truth is that when evolution is properly understood it is a complete replacement for the theistic creator hypothesis. It actually goes even further than this and give us yet more evidence that God doesn't not exist.

      The problem with evolution is that it's not the kind of system a God that cared and loved us would design.

      Does survival of the fittest seem righteous to you? Why should the most well adapted survive? Surely a better system would be one where people with kindness, co-operation and charity thrive and the selfish, brutish and dishonest perish? Yet we do not live in this world.

      Theism as a whole has the problem that it makes a really bold claim: "God exists and he loves us." and then it has to retreat almost immediately behind a series of adhoc justifications for why the observed universe doesn't match what we'd expect if that claim were true.

      If God really existed the universe would be hugely different to the one we currently live in. If God really existed science would have found him by now.

      That's because that's what Christ said. "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned." Mk 16:16

      This is yet another problem with the theism. The complete and utter confusion about what God wants. You're sat in this thread quoting the Bible as if it were the word of God, yet there are literally thousands of independent strands of Christianity alone. I don't even mention that even there were 2 billion Christians, 71% of the words population think your view is a heresy. You would even be called a heretic by members of your own superstition.

      Again, would this confusion about religion be expected if there was a God who loved us? Absolutely not.

      It is a popular--and recent--misconception that faith and reasoning are incompatible. Many, if not most, of the great minds of the ages were believers in God or in other forms of religion. The idea that religious people are necessarily irrational fools is simply a lie; there are plenty of both religious and atheistic people who are irrational fools.

      The people in previous times didn't have the weight of evidence we do today. Faith and reason are incompatible. Faith is based on truth by revelation; that is, that some people a long time ago had the "word" revealed to them and every one else is left in the dark. The only hope we have is to just trust them. Reason works by studying, debating and seeking out evidence. Anybody can critique that evidence, review it and discuss it.

      These are diametrically opposed view of the universe and completely incompatible.

    • by tekrat (242117) on Friday September 20, 2013 @08:41AM (#44902167) Homepage Journal

      Why is it so hard to accept that human beings evolved from goo? Have you looked inside a human body? Dude, we're *still* goo!

  • by FPhlyer (14433) on Friday September 20, 2013 @04:04AM (#44900499) Homepage

    Theories that humanity was "seeded" by aliens are a non-theological example of Intelligent Design theory.
    In their 1966 book "Intelligent Life in the Universe" I.S. Shklovski and Carl Sagan present a good case for scientists and historians to consider the possibility of early contact between life on Earth and extraterrestrials. Intelligent Design is not a concept that is owned part and parcel by creationists.

    That said... I have a problem with teaching Intelligent Design in public schools. I'm a creationist... I believe the truth of the Bible. I also don't believe it is the job of government to indoctrinate students in religion. Mine or anyone else's.

    There was a time where teaching students of science the theory of Spontaneous Generation was perfectly legitimate. It was "good science" based on the best information that was available at the time that the theory was still viable. Evolution is the best scientific theory that explains the evidence as we have it right now. And so it should be the theory taught to science students. Perhaps one day evidence may arise to discredit evolution but that day has not come. If parents want to teach their children alternate views they are welcome to do so via religious education, private education or homeschooling. Presenting alternate views that have little or no hard evidence is unwarranted.

    Not confronting the evidence for Evolution is intellectual dishonesty at best and intellectual sloth at worst.

  • Yuk (Score:4, Insightful)

    by symes (835608) on Friday September 20, 2013 @04:18AM (#44900569) Journal

    I get chills when I see phrases like:

    The fact of evolution is incontrovertible

    I 100% believe the theory of evolution provides the best fit with the available data. But stating any theory is a "fact" and "incontrovertible" is just too far. One of the issues is that it is hard to experimentally falsify the thoery of evolution. Either we are scientists and honest about what we do, or we are not. Get off my lawn.

    • Re:Yuk (Score:5, Informative)

      by gsslay (807818) on Friday September 20, 2013 @05:02AM (#44900777)

      Evolution is fact because it has been observed. I suppose there remains a possibility that what has been observed has been totally misunderstood by everyone, but that applies for just about any fact.

      The theory of evolution is not a fact. However, if the theory of evolution is proven wrong, that will not invalidate evolution, which remains a fact. As things stand, however, the theory of evolution is looking pretty robust in providing an explanation for evolution. However, like all good science theories, it is always up for being challenged and adapted in the light of observed evidence.

      The key issue understanding the difference between "the theory of evolution" and "evolution". They are not the same thing, and if an argument challenging evolution has its basis in misunderstanding that, then it has failed before it has even started.

  • by seebs (15766) on Friday September 20, 2013 @05:12AM (#44900815) Homepage

    I occasionally interact with people who are convinced that "evilution" is taught out of a desire to attack religion and make people into amoral monsters. And they will go on, at length, about their beliefs about the "motives" of scientists. And somehow, none of the motives they invent actually fit very well with anything I see when I talk to scientists. I mean, yes, I occasionally encounter people who really do seem to have those motives, but in general they're not particularly regarded well by the scientific community.

    And I occasionally interact with people who have all sorts of really strange beliefs about the "motives" of religion, and similarly, what they say has very little to do with what I mostly encounter among religious people. Although I do occasionally encounter people who appear to have those motives, but they are not regarded well by the religious community.

    It seems interesting to me how well these groups parallel each other, and how well each of them plays into the other's narrative of persecution or abuse. And how much both of them rely on the assumption that you can't ask people what they think, or why they think it. Slashdot tends to have more of the people who have a very naive view of what religious faith is, or why people have it, but I've hung around on other sites that tended towards the very naive view of science, and it was just as funny there.

    So far as I can tell, in the real world, the majority of religious people have beliefs that are a lot more complicated, and a lot more coherent, than the strawmen that I mostly see attacked on Slashdot. But since they don't usually go around trying to get on TV news and insist that they are the only representatives of their faith, people are less aware of them. In general, most of the time if you know someone's religious beliefs, it's because they're jerks; the non-jerks won't generally get pushy about it and tell you all about it unless you actually ask what they think. And, of course, if you've made up your mind that they're all idiots and you don't want to know, then you're the jerk whose opinions they will take as representative of people who hold your beliefs. (This goes both ways.)

  • But a story about a 600 year old man and his sons building a boat with bronze age technology to hold every life form on the planet with sufficient genetic diversity to prevent inbreeding with a year of supplies, collecting them from every remote corner of the planet, and returning them all to their native habitat afterwards (which somehow wasn't destroyed by the flood) makes perfect sense. From polar bears to penguins, koalas and kangaroos to the Inaccessible Island rail, a flightless bird. Over 8000 species of ants alone. Don't forget the fresh water tanks for any aquatic life that wouldn't survive when salt water flooded their habitat. Returning all those fresh water life forms back to their home lakes and ponds all over the world afterwards must have been some trouble....

    Honestly, I have an easier time believing a bearded man in a red suit comes down a billion chimneys on Christmas eve delivering toys.

  • by tillerman35 (763054) on Friday September 20, 2013 @08:07AM (#44901815)

    It hasn't been about whether evolution is true or false for a very long time. It's about whose team you're on and how many points they're up by in the third quarter. Texans can't help themselves. They have to pick a side, and when they do they support it all the way.

    Go to any small town in East Texas on a Friday night in September. Around 7PM, folks start streaming out of their houses and heading to stadiums whose size rivals that of some colleges' playing fields. They're there to rally their team on, violently if necessary.

    Texans choose sides in ALL aspects of their lives. Ford vs. Chevy. Big Mac vs. the Whopper. Citizens vs. Illegals. Cattlemen vs. Farmers. Evolution vs. Creationism. Whatever the issue, no matter how weighty or how trivial, Texans can figure out a way to polarize it and turn it into a contest. And if it has team jerseys, all the better.

    In some ways, this is Texas' greatest strength - that its citizens are willing to stake everything on the team they support, win, lose, or draw. In other ways, the stubborn unwillingness to give up, even in the face of overwhelming strength or indisputable argument can lead to, well I think we all remember the Alamo.

    People tend to think of the idea of "teaching the controversy" as an insidious effort to get religion's foot in the door. In fact, it's one of the most amazing things that Team Texas Religion has ever done- offer a compromise. For a Texan to even admit that the other side's point of view EXISTS is jaw-droppingly astounding. To offer to teach it alongside their own is nothing short of miraculous.

    The only way to resolve this conflict is to understand Texas and embrace its stubborn, contentious, headstrong culture. Ignoring it will only make the issue worse. The sooner people realize this, the better off we'll all be. Texas, as much as we hate to admit it East of the Mississippi, isn't all that different from the rest of the country.

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