Evolution

Evolutionary Politics

Why we should care what candidates think about biological evolution.

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Biological evolution became a hot topic in the presidential campaign last May when Republican presidential hopefuls were asked during a debate if "there was anybody on the stage that does not agree, believe in evolution?" Three held up their hands, Sen. Sam Brownback (Kan.), Rep. Tom Tancredo (Colo.) and former Gov. Mike Huckabee (Ark.). Evolution deniers Brownback and Tancredo have now dropped out of the race. So what do all the remaining candidates—Republican and Democratic—think about biological evolution? And does it matter?

REPUBLICANS

In December 2007, former Gov. Huckabee, who was once a Baptist minister, declared at an Iowa press conference, "I believe God created the heavens and the Earth." He noted, "I wasn't there when he did it, so how he did it, I don't know." Besides, he added, "What I believe is not what's going to be taught in 50 different states." (Huckabee has been endorsed by action movie star Chuck Norris, prompting a mildly amusing quip: "There is no theory of evolution. Just a list of animals Chuck Norris allows to live.")

What about Sen. John McCain (Ariz.)? McCain answered that he did believe in evolution during the May 2007 debate. He added, "But I also believe, when I hike the Grand Canyon and see it at sunset, that the hand of God is there also." It turns out that McCain's views have, well, evolved over time. Back in 2005, McCain thought that intelligent design should be taught in public school science classes because "all points of view should be presented." By the next year, McCain said that he respected those who believed that world was created in seven days. However, he asked, "Should it be taught in a science class? Probably not."

Former Gov. Mitt Romney (Mass.) has said, "I believe that God designed the universe and created the universe. And I believe evolution is most likely the process he used to create the human body." Romney also stated, "In my opinion, the science class is where to teach evolution." He added, "If we're going to talk about more philosophical matters, like why [the world] was created, and was there an intelligent designer behind it, that's for the religion class or philosophy class or social studies class."

Search as I might I could find no specific reported comments by Rudy Giuliani about evolutionary biology. He appears to be skittish about addressing science policy issues. But to his credit Giuliani did not hold up his hand during the May debate to declare disbelief in biological evolution. When journal Science looked at the science policy positions of various candidates in its January 4, 2008 issue, it reported that Giuliani's campaign had "successfully discouraged key advisors from speaking to Science about specific issues." However, during the November CNN/YouTube debate, when a questioner holding a King James Bible asked all of the candidates, "Do you believe every word of this book?," Giuliani replied, "The reality is, I believe it, but I don't believe it's necessarily literally true in every single respect." It should be noted that Romney also said that the Bible was subject to interpretation and even Huckabee acknowledged that some portions were allegorical.

During the Values Voter Debate in September, Tom DeRosa, president of the hardcore anti-evolution Creation Studies Institute asked the candidates: "Will your office support and encourage a more open approach to education in the presentation of scientific facts that contradict the theory of evolution?" Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.), Rep. Duncan Hunter (Calif.), and Huckabee all answered yes. A reasonable interpretation is that they favored allowing creationism to be taught in science classes. The debate was not attended by McCain, Romney, Giuliani or Thompson.

In a South Carolina forum, Paul was asked about his views on evolution, to which he replied, "I think it's a theory, the theory of evolution and I don't accept it as a theory." He also said that he thought it was an inappropriate question to be asking presidential candidates.

As far as I can tell former Sen. Fred Thompson (Tenn.) has not told the world his views on evolutionary biology. However, campaign spokeswoman, Karen Hanretty was asked in a radio interview if Thompson "thinks intelligent design is a credible curriculum?" Hanretty responded, "I think that what he is most concerned about is that families, parents who sit on local school boards, local elected school boards ought to be making those decisions for themselves."

DEMOCRATS

On CNN back in May 2007, Democratic operative James Carville claimed, "Every Democratic candidate believes in evolution." And that appears to be so, although Democratic candidates seem to be asked about their views of evolutionary biology far less than do Republicans.

For instance, in October The New York Times quoted Sen. Hillary Clinton (N.Y.) as declaring, "I believe in evolution, and I am shocked at some of the things that people in public life have been saying." She added, "I believe that our founders had faith in reason and they also had faith in God, and one of our gifts from God is the ability to reason."

During a debate sponsored by the progressive Christian group Sojourners in June, 2007, Sen. John Edwards (N.C.) was asked, "Do you believe in evolution or do you believe in creationism?" Edwards replied, "I believe in evolution." He was then asked if he thought that the people who believed the world was created in six days were wrong. Edwards said that he had been brought up a Southern Baptist (he is now a United Methodist), and explained, "I think it's perfectly possible to make our faith, my faith belief system consistent with a recognition that there is real science out there and scientific evidence of evolution."

An extensive search could find no explicit statement on evolution from Democratic frontrunner Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.). In June 2006, Obama gave a keynote talk at a Sojourners conference in which he noted, "Substantially more people in America believe in angels than they do in evolution." Obama declared in that speech that the single biggest political gap in America was "between those who attend church regularly and those who don't." He then excoriated "conservative leaders" for exploiting this gap by suggesting that "religious Americans care only about issues like abortion and gay marriage; school prayer and intelligent design." At the very least, this implies that Obama believes intelligent design is unnecessarily divisive.

The LiveScience website reported on January 3, 2008 that it had asked various candidates if they thought creationism should be taught in public schools. Gov. Bill Richardson (N.M.) tersely responded, "No."

I could find no explicit comment by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (Ohio) about creationism and evolutionary biology. I was reassured, however, by his 2004 statement reported by the Jewish Review that, "it is important to remember that our Constitution protects all of us to worship as we choose in the faith of our choice. Our founding fathers recognized that for us to enjoy religious freedom, there must be a complete separation of church and state." On the other hand, I am somewhat less reassured by his apparent belief in UFOs.

My favorite response from any candidate about the evolution/creationism debate was from former Sen. Mike Gravel (Alaska). When LiveScience asked the senator if he thought creationism should be taught in public schools, Gravel replied, ""Oh God, no. Oh, Jesus. We thought we had made a big advance with the Scopes monkey trial….My God, evolution is a fact, and if these people are disturbed by being the descendants of monkeys and fishes, they've got a mental problem. We can't afford the psychiatric bill for them. That ends the story as far as I'm concerned."

All of the candidates say they believe in God. So even those candidates who accept biological evolution as the scientifically valid way to describe how living things came to be are theistic evolutionists. They believe that God has somehow guided the process of evolution to create us (perhaps by intervening undetectably at the quantum level). It looks as though all of the Democratic presidential candidates are theistic evolutionists. Among the Republicans McCain, Giuliani, and Romney also appear to be theistic evolutionists. Both Huckabee and Paul say that they don't know how God created the world, but they both say that they don't accept biological evolution as the explanation. They, along with Hunter and Thompson, apparently would allow creationism/intelligent design to be taught in public school science classes.

IT MATTERS WHAT CANDIDATES THINK

Does it matter what presidential candidates believe about biological evolution? After all, they are running for commander-in-chief, not scientist-in-chief. For example, why not practice educational federalism as many Republican candidates suggest and let local school boards and individual states decide what should be taught in science classes? This may seem like an initially appealing option until one considers that schooling is mandatory.

The problem is that creationism and its latest intellectual spawn, intelligent design, are clearly religious teachings. So a local school board or state would be imposing religious teachings on all students if they required the teaching of creationism or intelligent design in public schools. The U.S. Supreme court acknowledged this fact in 1987 when it ruled in Edwards v. Aguillard against a Louisiana law that required the teaching of creationism whenever evolutionary biology was taught. The Court struck down the Louisiana law because it "impermissibly endorses religion by advancing the religious belief that a supernatural being created humankind." In 2005, a federal district court found in Kitzmiller v. Dover that the goal of the local school board's mandate that schools teach intelligent design "was to promote religion in the public school classroom."

Americans simply would not tolerate it if public schools were required to teach their kids religious doctrines with which they disagreed. One way out of this morass would be a thoroughgoing privatization of elementary and secondary education. But until that glad day dawns, it is not acceptable for presidential candidates to argue that teaching religion in the guise of creationism and intelligent design in public schools should be just a local matter. Furthermore, as the foregoing court cases highlight, it is essential that a president nominate federal judges who understand the importance of maintaining the separation between church and state.

A larger question is whether a candidate's belief about the validity of evolutionary biology has anything to say about his or her ability to evaluate evidence. A January 4, 2008, editorial by Science editor Donald Kennedy correctly argues, "The candidates should be asked hard questions about science policy, including questions about how those positions reflect belief. What is your view about stem cell research, and does it relate to a view of the time at which human life begins? Have you examined the scientific evidence regarding the age of Earth? Can the process of organic evolution lead to the production of new species, and how? Are you able to look at data on past climates in search of inferences about the future of climate change?" Kennedy concludes, "I don't need them to describe their faith; that's their business and not mine. But I do care about their scientific knowledge and how it will inform their leadership."

Since science and technology policy issues are only going to become more important as the 21st century unfolds, we should all care how scientific knowledge informs a president's leadership.

Ronald Bailey is reason's science correspondent. His most recent book, Liberation Biology: The Scientific and Moral Case for the Biotech Revolution, is available from Prometheus Books.

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  1. All of the candidates believe that an invisible guy in the sky came down and impregnated a woman who had his baby. It makes creationism, errr, “intelligent design” by the big impregnator in the sky, look downright sane.

    I’ll be satisfied with a candidate who won’t push any of this down my throat with my tax money.

  2. Huckabee has been endorsed by action movie star Chuck Norris…

    Chuck Norris does not endorse candidates. As a courtesy, he merely tells us what’s gonna happen.

  3. Holy Cheeses Crackers!
    Do we really have to discuss this AGAIN?

    Ron, isn’t there something else you could have written about today instead of this old thing? I can’t even count how many times this exact topic has been discussed.

  4. It is not possible to completely take religion out of a kid’s education. If you try, the education will take on a materialist quality that is not religion-neutral.

    The best solution is to let me opt out of government schools (which includes not paying for government schools). The next best thing, since it is impossible to have a completely religion-neutral education, is to let local school boards make choices with parent input.

  5. Former Sen. Bill Richardson (N. Mex.)

    Really?

  6. “Ron, isn’t there something else you could have written about today instead of this old thing?”
    There are only so many topics. They must be recycled. We appreciate your concern.

    “I can’t even count how many times this exact topic has been discussed.”
    247 times. But who’s counting?

  7. The Creation vs Evolution is a good example of why the State shouldn’t be involved in deciding any issues in education. Naturally the secularists don’t want creation shoved down their children’s throat (which is how this nation began). The other side, not broached by Bailey (thus showing his prejudices), is that many religious people don’t like evolution shoved down their children’s throat (which is exactly how it is today). Adding insult to injury, people are essentially paying the government (taxes) to teach their kids that their parents are backward loons (today) or that their parents are going to hell (probably not more than a 100 years ago). Unfortunately it’s always easier for most people to just ask everyone to live and believe what they believe, just as Bailey seems to be implying.

  8. Chuck Norris does not endorse candidates. As a courtesy, he merely tells us what’s gonna happen.

    OK, this was funny the first 10,000,000 times*, but everyone can stop now.

    * Actually, no, it wasn’t that funny then, either.

  9. “is that many religious people don’t like evolution shoved down their children’s throat (which is exactly how it is today)”

    one is science. the other isn’t. “Cathy Younging” this topic doesn’t change that fact.

  10. Does it matter how horribly wrong a Reason writer is about Iraq and foreign policy generally?

    Apparently not.

  11. …is that many religious people don’t like evolution shoved down their children’s throat (which is exactly how it is today).

    If we have to have public education, than reality should be taught. Which is exactly how it is today regarding evolution. Can’t face the FACT of species evolving from other species, too bad.

  12. So what do ya’ll think about abortion?

  13. If the President didn’t have any say in how my children are educated, then it wouldn’t make any damned difference what he believes about the origin of the species. The problem is not belief in young earth creationism, it’s the belief that we need politicians running our lives.

  14. Bingo: for some, miniature American flags for others, of course!

    And a bunch of ritz crackers to serve them on!

    and what j sub d said!

  15. For instance, in October The New York Times quoted Sen. Hillary Clinton (N.Y.) as declaring, ”I believe in evolution, and I am shocked at some of the things that people in public life have been saying.” She added, “I believe that our founders had faith in reason and they also had faith in God, and one of our gifts from God is the ability to reason.”

    does this call for a drink?

  16. Hillary endorses Reason? Time to cancel my subscription.

  17. “OK, this was funny the first 10,000,000 times*”

    What continues to be funny is the thought that Chuck fists Huck with his beard.

  18. Personally, I find the thought of Chuck fisting Huckabee funny.

  19. “Will your office support and encourage a more open approach to education in the presentation of scientific facts that contradict the theory of evolution?”

    I would actually vote for anybody who’d tell the Discovery Institute to cram it where the intellegently-designed sun don’t shine…

  20. In theory, whether someone believes in evolution or creationism/ID should say something about their ability to reason and look at evidence.

    In real life people take positions that they’re not informed enough to evaluate.
    So what makes believing in evolution so virtuous? Nothing. There is nothing virtuous about believing in the right thing for the wrong reasons. There are plenty of stupid people out there who believe in evolution, yet don’t have the reasoning capabilities of a beagle (which, I must say, is a pretty high standard. Maybe we should change that to ferret or something).

  21. IT MATTERS WHAT CANDIDATES THINK

    Where’s joe to say “It’s just a belief! It has nothing to do with intelligence!”?

  22. Why is evolution something to believe in?

    Isn’t it something that should be weighed by the quantity and quality of evidence supporting it?

    Santa Claus is something you believe in. F=ma is not.

  23. To believe in evolution or not is really a redherring. We should be judging candidates on their constitutional beliefs.

    Ron Paul could say we are not from monkeys, and only God could have made us. (he might have said that one already) My secular ass could care less, I’ll still vote for him.

    To slightly modify a catch phrase. It’s about the Constitution, stupid!

  24. The best argument against evolution is the modern political candidate.

  25. Jeremy,

    F=dp/dt.

  26. I think we should consult Mark Mothersbaugh regarding this whole evolution thing and see what he thinks. The first candidate to endorse his take gets my vote.

  27. Have you seen the monkeys with diapers?
    I’ve seen ’em on the tube.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iM8XL3rHFpI

  28. All: I hadn’t actually parsed what each candidate had to say (or not say) on the topic, so I thought I would bring it together in a handy-dandy little list. If you’ve already resolved the topic to your various satisfactions, move on to others.

  29. Ron , a minor correction: “The problem is that creationism and its latest anti-intellectual spawn, intelligent design, are clearly religious teachings.”

  30. Oh, Episiarch, we’re all Devo!

  31. You mean, Should it matter what candidates think, or what they say they think? I’m not buying for a second that every single candidate believes in God, let alone creationism.

  32. No, Warty, that would be Boojie Boy’s response. I think Mark might be more nuanced, like, say, General Boy.

  33. ”I believe in evolution, and I am shocked at some of the things that people in public life have been saying.” She added, “I believe that our founders had faith in reason and they also had faith in God, and one of our gifts from God is the ability to reason.”

    Wow, Hillary Clinton actually says something that makes me say “Hooray!” No kidding, best answer of the lot. Or second best, at least. Nice answer from Gravel.

    Also, Ron, I disagree that all of the non-creationist candidates are believer isn “theistic evolution.” Saying something like “evolution is the process God used to create us” could mean that God intervened in evolution, but it could also mean that it’s a “fire and forget” process, with God setting the natural universe in motion and increasingly-complex life arising through natural processes without divine intervention.

  34. Yeah, of course it should matter. Two candidates, all other things being equal, vote for the one that accepts evolution. However, all other things are never equal.

    In a pinch, sometimes you have to vote for the Constitutionalist that thinks Adam lived to be 900 years old rather than the Socialist that can recite The Origin of Species.

  35. x,y,

    It’s a belief. It has nothing to do with intelligence.

    Do you think that Mike Huckabee sat down with a bunch of textbooks, did his best to use his reason to consider the evidence for evolution, and came to the conclusion that God created the universe in six days?

    If your answer is “No,” then you agree with me: it’s a belief, and has nothing to do with intelligence.

  36. I think creationism / intelligent design, etc. should be taught in biology class. It provides a perfect “counter-example” of what is not science. The scientific method is a lot easier to understand if you have a few examples that aren’t science to compare against. Now, does that make everyone happy, hmmmm?

  37. Has evolution really been proven yet? From what I understand, it hasn’t. In fact, there seem to be several gaps that leave a reasonable doubt for evolution. I also remember seeing a program that talked about Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens being completely different species, and the Neanderthals died out because Homo Sapiens were hunting away all of their food with better methods.

    Not that Creationism has a single ounce of proof… but still. Let’s not be ignorant enough to say that we already know EVERYTHING that there is to know about where we came from and whether or not evolution or creationism is correct. I, for one, still have my doubts.

    -Danny-

  38. I agree with Jay D and TBR.

    Ron wrote, “Americans simply would not tolerate it if public schools were required to teach their kids religious doctrines with which they disagreed.” Yet Ron expects creationists to shut up and take it when public schools are required to teach their kids that their religion is wrong.

    True, evolution is not itself a religious doctrine. It is, as VM points out, science. But it’s still a fact that when schools teach evolution, they’re teaching that certain religious creation stories are wrong. The only religiously neutral approach to discussing the origins of life is not to discuss it.

    The same is true of other subjects. Real-world religions take positions on subjects ranging from history to medicine. There is an unavoidable tension between public schooling and the ideals of the Establishment Clause.

    It is no response to say that if creationists would adjust their religious beliefs–maybe confine them to abstruse metaphysical topics–then there would be no conflict between their religion and evolution. The whole point of separating church and state is to allow for social peace without requiring people to conform their beliefs to an official orthodoxy.

    If a legislative body passed a resolution saying Genesis was false, I suspect most people would see that as an unwelcome intrusion of the state into religious matters–even if the resolution didn’t describe an opposing religious theory that it favored. Why is it any better when the government takes the same position through its schools?

  39. “A larger question is whether a candidate’s belief about the validity of evolutionary biology has anything to say about his or her ability to evaluate evidence.”

    No, it really doesn’t, because there’s no way to tell if a given candidate actually believes what they say they do. Tautologically, all viable presidential candidates necessarily profess at least a belief in God and His role in creating the universe because otherwise they would not be viable candidates.

    In this (as in many other things) you just have to hope they’re lying (which is likely) because the alternative — that they actually believe what they’re saying — is worse.

  40. Rob C:

    I was assuming dm/dt=0, so ha!

  41. I also remember seeing a program that talked about Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens being completely different species, and the Neanderthals died out because Homo Sapiens were hunting away all of their food with better methods.

    How does that contradict evolution? At its core, evolution simply theorizes that life started about relatively simple, then over time and after an incalculable number of changes, that relatively simple life form evolved to be more complex. Details of what killed off what, who killed off who, when, and why, is immaterial.

  42. In fact, there seem to be several gaps that leave a reasonable doubt for evolution. I also remember seeing a program that talked about Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens being completely different species, and the Neanderthals died out because Homo Sapiens were hunting away all of their food with better methods.

    Danny,

    How does this cast doubt on the theory of evolution?

  43. Has evolution really been proven yet? From what I understand, it hasn’t.

    Especially regarding the earliest beginnings of life, the abiogenesis. There is no evidence regarding that, and, as far as I know, not even a clear narrative as to how it could have possibly happened.

  44. It has been my assumption that in evolution, the previous species gives way to the later species. They don’t coexist. Maybe this is why I hate biology, and instead stick to my digital 1’s and 0’s…

  45. One more–but by no means the most compelling–reason NOT to support Ron Paul.

  46. joe –

    The fact that Huckabee came to his conclusions without use of his intelligence doesn’t make the issue reflect better upon him. To argue on a national stage about a controversial topic without ever considering the related facts just might be a sign of poor judgement. To say that its ok because lots of people do it is a cop-out.

    We don’t think that Huckabee sat around reading about evolution before coming to his conclusions. But maybe he should have.

  47. One way out of this morass would be a thoroughgoing privatization of elementary and secondary education.

    This seems to me the weakest argument in favor of privatization. 60% of home schoolers are already evangelical Christians. How does an even broader swath of future generations being taught a bunch of dogma bode well for the Republic – even if I’m not paying for it?

  48. At its core, evolution simply theorizes that life started about relatively simple, then over time and after an incalculable number of changes, that relatively simple life form evolved to be more complex.

    For some people, that is what comes to mind when they hear the word “evolution.” For others, “evolution” specifically involves natural and sexual selection as the drivers to said changes. It may be that Paul was thinking of the latter, I don’t know. It is unfortunate that there is ambiguity in terms.

  49. This seems to me the weakest argument in favor of privatization. 60% of home schoolers are already evangelical Christians. How does an even broader swath of future generations being taught a bunch of dogma bode well for the Republic – even if I’m not paying for it?

    Obviously not libertarian.

  50. I’m not much on labels. They are generally used to supress either liberty or intellectual inquiry. Do you have a point?

  51. Edward – damn you. You are correct.

  52. Should I judge Ron Bailey’s science by his support for an immoral war and the associated immoral policy? (The answer is no, of course)

    If Bailey was one of the candidates for president right now, I’d have to disqualify him on that issue, as it is one of the primary issues with regard to the future of our country.

    I don’t care how libertarian you might be otherwise, support for preemptive war is a big disqualifier, for as we know, to support such a doctrine also requires support for the power to tax people to pay for such action.

    Hence, preemptive war = not a libertarian.

  53. I’m not buying for a second that every single candidate believes in God, let alone creationism.

    I though I was the only one who thought this.

    I, for one, am simply not convinced that Belief in God is nearly so widespread as is commonly stated.

    For the most part i believe that there are those who truly believe, those who have never really given the matter any serious thought and just jump on the bandwagon to avoid doing any mental heavy lifting and those who proffess belief because there either afraid of what others will think or they are playing on the emotions and beliefs of the first group.

    I think that most politicians (and a lot of preachers) are in the “playing on the emotions and beliefs of the first group” category.

  54. Ron is in favor of the war?

    Are (were) you, Ron?

  55. Well, I guess the question is how much of god-given right the average American has to be a scientific illiterate.

    If you want to be a dimwit wandering around babbling about how the world was created 6000 years ago and how Science and Intellectuals are inventions of the Devil, go ahead. What frosts my shorts is when right on top of this you think you should have the right to live in an economy with equal access to the latest cutting-edge developments of science, technology, and medicine. You haven’t contributed ANYTHING–and with your insistance on being able to keep your kid from learning about evolution or anything else that bothers your tiny little world-view, you are in fact working AGAINST producing the next generation of people who will take all that wonderfully publically available intellectual property and carry it forward. You’re nothing more than a bloody parasite.

    Face it, if the Bible literalists had to live in an economy and technology commensurate with their belief system, they’d be stuck somewhere back in the Dark Ages, scratching out existence from subsistance farming. I doubt they would have even invented the horse collar.

  56. Do you have a point?

    Yes, let me opt out of government schools (including paying for them).

  57. It has been my assumption that in evolution, the previous species gives way to the later species. They don’t coexist.

    Sorry Danny, but that’s not true. In fact they both have to exist at the same time in order for one to evolve into a different species. What happens is that populations of a species diverge, and differing environmental pressures encourage modifications to one population which don’t happen to another. When these populations become sufficiently different (through changes to one, the other, or both) that they no longer mate in the wild, speciation is said to have occurred.

  58. “because schooling is mandatory”

    And there is your problem. Government monopoly and force also destroys tolerant social relations, as Mises explained.

  59. How does an even broader swath of future generations being taught a bunch of dogma bode well for the Republic – even if I’m not paying for it?

    Doesn’t matter any more than my dogmatic rejection of and disdain for pink wine. The Republic has much more to fear from SWAT raids on constituionalists (just for example).

  60. Dave B,

    The fact that Huckabee came to his conclusions without use of his intelligence doesn’t make the issue reflect better upon him. To argue on a national stage about a controversial topic without ever considering the related facts just might be a sign of poor judgement.

    I agree, and did not mean to suggest that his position is “ok.” My point is merely that this shortcoming goes to his judgement and beliefs, not his intelligence.

  61. And the earth is COOLING senor Bailey, you should think twice before you talk about “evidence”, you and your kind are about to suck a big fat one over global warming when in the course of the next 5 years the hoax becomes obvious.

  62. I, for one, am simply not convinced that Belief in God is nearly so widespread as is commonly stated.

    Saying you don’t believe in God is akin to admitting you’re a child molester in this country. I bet the percentage of people who say they believe it but don’t is very, very substantial.

  63. Like I said, Gretchen… Leave me to my 1’s and 0’s.

    I guess my overall point is that if evolution was so well proven, why isn’t it sitting next to laws like the conservation of mass and energy? The fact is that there is a lot of evidence supporting it. I’m not going to put myself out there and say that I know definitively whether evolution is correct or not. I’m ready to accept it when it is has enough evidence that it is proven.

    My time of being taught creationism is now seen as a waste of time for me. I should have spent the time watching the Teletubbies or something… Ya know, something I could learn from.

  64. gorak,

    Your name is Steeve. Steeeve. Steeeve.

    BTW, I love that gorak, the Prehistoric Iceman, is commenting on this thread.

  65. Fair enough, joe. Sorry I misunderstood you.

  66. speciation is said to have occurred

    Yes, except in every case the fruit flies are still fruit flies.

  67. VM | January 8, 2008, 2:34pm | #
    Edward – damn you. You are correct.

    Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn every once in awhile.

  68. For the most part i believe that there are those who truly believe, those who have never really given the matter any serious thought…

    I’ve let myself imagine what reality would be like if there were no God, and it made my head spin. Without a supernatural force, the first thing that occurs to me is–there is no reason for anything at all to exist.

    If I weigh the probability that “nothing exists” against the probability “our reality exists”, the odds that “nothing exists” swamps the probability that “our absurd reality exists” by a long shot.

    If God does not exist, the only universe that should reasonably exist is a universe populated by “nothing.”

  69. Saying you don’t believe in God is akin to admitting you’re a child molester in this country. I bet the percentage of people who say they believe it but don’t is very, very substantial.

    There is some merit to this but, in all honesty, I don’t think anyone has ever asked me if I believe in God. Not counting those late night philosophy discussions kids have with their friends on sleep overs.

    Have to admit that we have gotten a few odd looks here and there when they ask what church we go to and we respond that we don’t attend church. At that point one expects the invitation that seems stillborn on the lips. [shrugs]

  70. Rusell:

    Schools don’t teach children that what their parents believe is wrong, they teach the children in a science class based on the best available science. That is the job of a “science” class.

    If we’re going to say that schools should stay out of all topics that religion has a viewpoint on then we’re in some really dangerous territory on what schools can teach.

    God forbid schools teach Law when the Koran has Sharia. Are they teaching Muslim kids that their parents are wrong ? Or by “religion” does everyone only consider Christians ?

  71. I was assuming dm/dt=0, so ha!

    But that assumption has been proven wrong.

    Newton wrote his law as the force equalling the change in momentum. He wasnt gonna just willy-nilly accept mass as a constant either.

  72. I guess my overall point is that if evolution was so well proven, why isn’t it sitting next to laws like the conservation of mass and energy?

    Because evolution describes what occured in a specific place over a specific time, rather than making universal claims about how the universe operates. as the laws you reference do.

  73. Shawn – cheers!

  74. Danny,

    I guess my overall point is that if evolution was so well proven, why isn’t it sitting next to laws like the conservation of mass and energy?

    Because laws are more like descriptions of the very simple and universal. They are basically statements that a given phenomenon exists. Theories are more explanatory and take into account an amalgam of varying tested phenomena. They are not different levels of certainty– rather, they serve different purposes within science. Check out this link and/or this one for more information.

    I’m not going to put myself out there and say that I know definitively whether evolution is correct or not. I’m ready to accept it when it is has enough evidence that it is proven.

    For some reason, people never seem to bother to say such things about plate tectonics, heliocentrism, and so on.

  75. Wind, actually, public schools teach what a few, well-connected individuals decree shall be taught.

    I cringe at some of the outright bullshit that I have seen in my kid’s elementary school textbooks. Fortunately, my kids go to a good school where the teachers have a lot of leeway to ignore the textbooks.

    As my friend Dave says:

    “Fifth grade was my son’s first serious exposure to American history. The teacher spent so much time on women’s studies, Black studies, and Hispanic studies that for most of the year my son was under the impression that we had won our independence from Mexico.”

  76. Jay D,

    You are free to opt out today (if you can afford it) but if you want to stop subsidizing the current system, I’m going to need more info. The attribute of progressive property taxation serves kids in wealthy neighborhoods pretty well and kids in poor neighborhoods less well. However, privatizers don’t seem to have answers on if these disparities increase or decrease in their world. I further see potential for serious abuse when anyone can hang out a school charter.

    I remain open to the idea.

  77. Windtell wrote, “Schools don’t teach children that what their parents believe is wrong, they teach the children in a science class based on the best available science.”

    Yes, schools teach science. And because science contradicts some parents’ religious beliefs, then schools are teaching some children their parents’ beliefs are wrong.

    I was not suggesting schools should stay out of all topics on which some religion has a viewpoint. My point was that you can’t do that.

    But because you can’t do that, there is an inherent tension between public schooling and the goal of separating church and state. That is one reason I’m against public schooling.

  78. For some reason, people never seem to bother to say such things about plate tectonics…

    That’s because when tectonic plates move, buildings fall down. 🙂

  79. A lot of the confusion is because very few people have sat down and actually thought about what a “species” is and how change can occur. Ever heard about ring species? Main example I’ve run accross has been with birds. Species A lives next to Species B, can have offspring with each other. Species B lives next to Species C, which can have offspring with each other. However, Species A cannot mate with Species C to produce viable offspring. Go look it up.

    Ok, now take this and imagine that rather than geographically, your species are spread out over time. Species A has turned into Species C, which is definitely a different species.

    I point out that if we’re talking about specification as being “differences in size, shape, color, and ability to mate with each other”, then a heck of a lot of dog breeds should really be considered “different species.”

  80. Gorak:

    Bailey reversed his position on global warming after the evidence came together, he was one of the last global warming holdouts and a major skeptic of it beforehand.

    Check out: https://www.reason.com/news/show/34079.html

    What exactly are you talking about with your cooling assertion ? Please don’t tell me that you think it’s a hoax and that the scientists are pulling a fast one on us and laughing behind our backs.

  81. I don’t have the patience for this debate, because I believe in the complete privatization of education anyway. By their nature, public schools and compulsory schooling force people to waste so much time on this stuff-all these irreconcilable world-views that we have to be willing to accommodate in a free, open society.

    Ron Bailey effectively wants to waste some of my time on this, because, for some reason, he won’t go directly from point A to point B and point out how this issue would instantly disappear as a matter of government policy if school were privatized.

  82. Tbone, One of the advantages of a charter school is that if it fails to carry out its mission, something can be done about it.

    In the public school sector no failing school is EVER closed, no matter how badly it is failing.

    That alone is argument enough for me.

  83. And that appears to be so, although Democratic candidates seem to be asked about their views of evolutionary biology far less than do Republicans.

    Perhaps because they believe in Gaia and environmentalism.

    “Will your office support and encourage a more open approach to education in the presentation of scientific facts that contradict the theory of evolution?”

    The correct answer is, “Yes.” Science should always be open to presentation of facts that contradict current theories. Of course one could add, “But Biblical Creationism and Intelligent Design are not scientific fact.”

    It has been my assumption that in evolution, the previous species gives way to the later species. They don’t coexist.

    Not so. Look at horses and donkeys, which derived from a common ancestor. Both are still around, but they are distinct species. (They can still mate, but the offspring are sterile.) If one of them looses its ecological niche, it will die out. One way that can occur is if both species compete for the same food supply, and one is more successful. That’s the basic theory of what happened to Neanderthals.

    Evolution has never been a neat process. Lots of dead (literally) ends.

    Has evolution really been proven yet? From what I understand, it hasn’t.

    Nothing in science is ever “really proven.” The scientific method is a constant state of revision and refinement.

  84. Brian, Well said. I couldn’t agree more.

  85. TWC,
    just north of us in Barbour county Alabama, some public schools were shut down because of ongoing poor performance and very low grad rates. They remain closed and students are going to other schools.

  86. That’s the basic theory of what happened to Neanderthals

    Wow, and all this time I thought they evolved into the vast right wing conspiracy. 🙂

  87. “Will your office support and encourage a more open approach to education in the presentation of scientific facts that contradict the theory of evolution?””

    this isn’t like faith where a contradiction of the religious fact will cause the house of cards to tumble down. it could contradict some parts, but the methods used (probably such contradictions have occurred already) are sound.

    do you see the difference? (probably not).

    instead, talk about the AS/AD curves.

  88. Brotha, maybe your Barbour County people could get in touch with the folks at LAUSD. 🙂

    Perhaps I should have used the term RARELY instead of NEVER.

    We had a really bad elementary school that was closed in our district. But it wasn’t closed because it was failing, they closed it, spread the kids around, then remodeled it into a Junior High. It was a good move and solved a lot of problems but the actual reason it was closed was because the district needed a new Junior High and it was cheaper to do it this way. I say that because a lot of people think the school was closed because it was a failing school, which was not the case.

  89. John-David: Fixed. Thanks very much.

  90. Better question:

    DO you believe in comparative advantage.

  91. Mrs TWC does this stuff for a living and she says that in almost every case introducing even minimal amounts of competition to the public school arena improves education. Even just implementing open enrollment as San Francisco did can make tremendous differences.

    As a matter of course, however, I support any move that breaks the kneecaps of the public school bureacracy. Charter schools, vouchers, any of it. We’re never, ever going to abolish public education so we at least need to offer the rural and urban poor an opportunity for a better education by giving them a choice.

  92. Brian: But I went from point A to point B years ago. For instance, see my 2005 column, “Evolution in the Blackboard Jungle.” I referenced it in the current column under the link to “glad day dawns.”

  93. If God does not exist, the only universe that should reasonably exist is a universe populated by “nothing.” – TWC

    I’d like to see how you got to QED on that one. Theists are convinced that both an uncreated, steady-state universe and one that was a product of a godless Big Bang are not possible. My nonbelieving brain has no trouble using either model in a thought experiment. The usual attributes of the monotheistic/Trinitarian version of “God” that is most popular, in one version or another, include being eternal, omnipotent and omniscient. Saying that “God always was and always will be” strikes me as a bolder claim than “the universe just is” or “the universe we know has existed from the BB on.”

    Where did the universe, or the laws it follows, come from? I dunno. Where did this god fellow come from?

    Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence, and the theists’ claims are more extensive than those of the non-theists.

    BTW, I spent 16 years in Catholic schools, and was never taught that evolution wasn’t “true.”

    Kevin

  94. I guess my overall point is that if evolution was so well proven, why isn’t it sitting next to laws like the conservation of mass and energy?

    I’m not going to put myself out there and say that I know definitively whether evolution is correct or not. I’m ready to accept it when it is has enough evidence that it is proven.

    Because evolution describes what occured in a specific place over a specific time, rather than making universal claims about how the universe operates.

    Actually no, Darwin’s theory had 2 parts. One was the process of evolution (natural selection) and the other was that evolution is what had happened in the past (descent with modification).

    The evidence by Darwin’s time was conclusive that evolution had happened, 150+ years later the mountain of evidence is so large that it is fair to say it has been proven.

    As for the process of evolution, the data was good in Darwin’s time, the last 50+ years has pretty much demonstrated it conclusively enough that it is probably reasonable to start calling parts of it Laws.

    Ron Bailey effectively wants to waste some of my time on this, because, for some reason, he won’t go directly from point A to point B and point out how this issue would instantly disappear as a matter of government policy if school were privatized.

    But since the reality is that complete school privatization is not happening any time soon, this is an issue for politicians.

    As an aside, once schools are privatized, I won’t hire you if you went to a university that teaches creationism or ID.

  95. Gretchen: there seems to be enough proof for both heliocentrism and plate tectonics, and a lack of other theories. Hell, can you just accept the fact that I’m a skeptic?

  96. Why was’t Huck present at the Creation?

    The primaries already feel like they’ve been going on for 6,000 years

    http://adamant.typepad.com/seitz/2007/12/election-year-g.html

  97. TWC,

    Similarly, schools were shuttered in Chicago in favor of better performers. I am not opposed to privatization but am skeptical that it would become anything other than a for profit model of something close to what we have now. Probably get a lot better and worse for some and stay the same for most.

    Choice is a nifty buzzword for addressing bad schools but magically assumes better schools are nearby – a highly localized proposition. Introduce more competition might help but I have yet to see anyone present realized proposals that address what standards are to remain, how and who tracks performance (if not gov’t), addresses continuing disparity and/or busing issues and cost (what if there are no “better” schools nearby? bigger vouchers? who decides, etc.)

  98. The other side, not broached by Bailey (thus showing his prejudices), is that many religious people don’t like evolution shoved down their children’s throat (which is exactly how it is today).

    Interesting. If accepting facts, and also the theories that logically rest on those facts is a form of prejudice, then it is one I gladly embrace. Personally, I think the person who wrote this is…sub-rational. Denial of facts is not usually consistent with rational thought.

    Why is evolution something to believe in?

    Isn’t it something that should be weighed by the quantity and quality of evidence supporting it?

    Santa Claus is something you believe in. F=ma is not.

    You are very, very confused. Evolution is a fact. Organisms change over time. It has been observed and is indisputable. What is not a fact is the theory that tries to tie all the facts that fall under the broad umbrella of evolution. That you can have a degree of belief in. That degree of belief, ideally, should be based on the evidence that supports the theory. As such, beliefs are an integral part of science.

    However, it is not the same kind of belief that many religious people talk about when discussing their religion. That belief is where you continue to believe in something where the evidence either is weak or even non-existent.

    Danny,

    Has evolution really been proven yet?

    If by proven you mean is it fact? The answer is indisputably yes. Change in living organisms have been observed both inside and outside of the laboratory.

    From what I understand, it hasn’t. In fact, there seem to be several gaps that leave a reasonable doubt for evolution.

    No, you are wrong. Evolution is a fact. As such you can doubt it, but the only conclusion the rest of us will arrive is that you are not being rational. The theory of evolution is always in doubt in that there is always a chance that the current theory will be deposed…in favor of a new theory that explains everything that the current theory explains.

    Further, no theory is ever complete in that it doesn’t have “gaps”. Do you disbelieve gravity because the theories of gravity are not complete? Again all such a belief on your part would lead us to think you are complete nutjob (which of course is your right).

    Not that Creationism has a single ounce of proof… but still. Let’s not be ignorant enough to say that we already know EVERYTHING that there is to know about where we came from and whether or not evolution or creationism is correct. I, for one, still have my doubts.

    No, all you have is confusion as to what are the facts, what theories are, and how science works. Also, you are grossly mistaken about what people are saying, because nobody on the side of sound science, facts, and logic are saying we know “EVERYTHING”. What they are saying, is that based on what we do know, and our current theories, is that we don’t need to invoke mystical forces.

    Russell Hanneken,

    True, evolution is not itself a religious doctrine. It is, as VM points out, science. But it’s still a fact that when schools teach evolution, they’re teaching that certain religious creation stories are wrong. The only religiously neutral approach to discussing the origins of life is not to discuss it.

    Sorry, but this is just stupid. This is true of all sciences. Geological sciences and meteorology would tell a student that the global flood and Noah’s Ark is a load of Bravo Sierra. Should we not teach these scientific concepts either? What about astro-physics and the speed of light? If it takes say a million years from light form a galaxy we can see in the sky to reach the earth, then what does that say about the age of the earth and the universe? Buh-bye physics? I know you thought this was a reasonable compromise, but in truth it is just errant nonsense that would further retard the learning of science in this country.

    Why is it any better when the government takes the same position through its schools?

    Because government isn’t doing that. It isn’t telling you what you can or cannot believe, but via public schools are teaching children what the facts are, and the best theories that explain said facts. That they contradict the mythology of various beliefs some people hold is incidental.

    Danny again,

    It has been my assumption that in evolution, the previous species gives way to the later species. They don’t coexist. Maybe this is why I hate biology, and instead stick to my digital 1’s and 0’s…

    No, this is incorrect. There is nothing preventing a species from giving rise to more than one descendant species. As such, that H. sapiens and H. neanderthalensis existed contemporaneously only means that at some point in the past they share a commen ancestor.

    Yes, except in every case the fruit flies are still fruit flies.

    You can always tell the really moronic creationists when they write crap like this. A fruit fly producing a firefly would actually be evidence against evolutionary theory, not in favor of it. Why is that creationists always want to evidence that supports their position as evidence for evolution? Stupidity? Ignorance? Brain damage? All of the above?

    Danny once more,

    Gretchen: there seems to be enough proof for both heliocentrism and plate tectonics, and a lack of other theories. Hell, can you just accept the fact that I’m a skeptic?

    There is being a skeptic and there is being deliberately obtuse. There is no viable alternative theory to the Theory of Evolution. Might one come along? Sure, but it wont be Intelligent Design which has no content. What it will be is another theory that takes into account all the evidence the current theory does and then some.

  99. Anyone who doubts that Huckabee and his close friends and supporters are religious extremists should learn more about Chuck Norris. See:

    http://ffrf.org/fttoday/2007/junejuly/ownwords.php

    Quote from Norris:

    “I was wondering the other day, if I ran for president, what would be my campaign promises.

    If I’m elected president, I will . . .

    Tattoo an American flag with the words, ‘In God we trust,’ on the forehead of every atheist.”

  100. I suppose it doesn’t matter if the schools are public, private, or religious. The fact seems to be that if the little shitters don’t have home trainin, they aren’t gonna do much but be a distraction to others. By the time kids are 5 they should be ravenous to feed their brains.
    As an aside, I used to roll with a buncha real hardcore christian fundamentalist families. Home schooled their kids and had church at home. kids fell into 2 groups depending on their parents:
    1)kids were chock full of pride in the certainty that they were right in their beliefs and were pretty damn sharp at the book learnin. But insufferably arrogant christian supremacists.
    2)kids were almost totally deprived of outside social interaction and duller than day old dogshit. Couldnt carry a conversation if they read from a script.

  101. Goddam, I may have to post an Annual Agreement with Hillary to go with my weekly Agreement with joe.

    Although it is kind of a relief to get it out of the way.

    Introduce more competition might help

    Given the way more competition has driven increases in quality and quantity and driven out poor performers in almost any area that you care to look at, I don’t know why more competition wouldn’t help the school system, globally. I think the burden of proof is on those using the State to maintain a near-monopoly in this area, not on those advocating a decentralized system that (pardon the term) devolves decision-making from a handful of bureaucrats to parents.

  102. Steve Verdon,

    Like I told Windtell: I’m not saying science should not be taught. I’m saying schools should not be public.

    You wrote, “[Government] isn’t telling you what you can or cannot believe, but via public schools are teaching children what the facts are.”

    So there’s no expectation in school that students believe the facts?

    Suppose creationism were taught in public school, in just the same way that evolution is. Would you then say that doesn’t violate the separation between church and state, because “government isn’t telling you what you can or cannot believe?”

  103. This whole thesis is built upon a false premise, and is a non-sequiter to boot.

    Ron Paul would “allow” creationism to be taught in the classroom, even if he were a militant, atheistic, molecular biologist since the US constitution doesn’t give the executive branch any authority to be involved in classroom activities of any kind. It’s kinda like saying that Giuliani would be a good president because he’d ‘allow’ you to masturbate. It’s not any of the POTUS’s business what does, or does not get taught in any classroom.

    Therefore, the issue of whether he “believes in” evolution (or it’s being taught instead of, or in addition to, creationism) or not is totally moot.

    This issue appears to be brought into discussion for the sole purpose of ridiculing Ron Paul. It is not qualified to any degree so we don’t know if Dr. Paul has some minor reservation about the current reigning theory of evolution, rather than an outright rejection against all available evidence.

    The fact that the author lumps Paul in with Huckabee would seem to me to be evidence of this, as anyone with sense can discern a vast difference in Huckabee’s and Paul’s religious views (not to mention their views on letting their religious views inform their policital views.) The author appears to be trying to conflate their views on religion based upon the (supposed) similarity of their views on evolution when no evidence of the nature of Paul’s mistrust of the theory is available. They are construed as similar because both exist. One might as well argue that the Sun and the Moon are simlar as they both exist.

    If Ron Paul were unable to discern facts in a rational matter despite his considerable (to the author) handicap of religiosity, I hardly think he could have passed his medical licensing test, nor graduated Duke Medical school, nor even graduate high school for that matter.

  104. Steve Verdon,
    Well done. That is more effort than I was willing to expend on a rainy miserable Tuesday. I have reached the point that I always write about the FACT of evolution. Capitalized and sometimes in bold. Gravitation is a FACT. Einstein and Newton have different theories explaining it, but gravitation remains a FACT. Evolution has been observed, as a FACT, in the fossil record and in the laboratory.

    Again, my compliments on your 4:29pm post. Darn those evil italics tags, huh?

  105. I’ll be satisfied with a candidate who won’t push any of this down my throat with my tax money.

    Amen to that.

    Need I remind everyone that Goldwater believed in little green men?

  106. for most of the year my son was under the impression that we had won our independence from Mexico

    The accuracy of that impression depends a lot upon who you mean by “we.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Texas_Revolution
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_Guadalupe_Hidalgo

  107. lol Neu Mejican, I hadn’t even thought of those.

    His son could have been right, darn kids.

  108. Ron:

    “I hadn’t actually parsed what each candidate had to say (or not say) on the topic, so I thought I would bring it together in a handy-dandy little list.”

    Yes, and I appreciate having it all documented in one place.

  109. This issue clearly matters for 2 reasons.
    1) The Constitution states that one of the powers of Congress is: “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;”. So clearly, it needs to be established what exactly science means if this is to be carried out. Now, I’ll go out on a limb and say that the supernatural – religion, by its nature – is out of the question. Therefor, when it comes to such basic scientific starting points as to whether or not the Earth is 4 billion years old or 4,000 years old (and remedial facts such as carbon dating) are true or not, a deeply fanatical religious held belief seems to be a barrier to a clear duty of Congress.
    2) Objective reality is not a quality to be desired in a person that occupies the office of president. If the chasm of difference between believing the Earth is 4 billion years old as opposed to a mere few thousand years is to be simply written off, then I don’t see how that persons qualification to hold such an importance office should not be an issue.

    Also, for a candidate to suggest that such a topic is unreasonable is absurd. I’d like ot go further. I’d be enthralled to watch an entire debate between people that are aspiring to hold the codes to nuclear lauch codes debate the issue of dinosaurs and whether or not they shared the Earth with humans. Because as smart as we are, I have a hard time believing that we’d be able to out-survive T-Rex throughout a 40day/40night jpurney on an Ark, and the subsequent release from that Ark.

  110. The President has a great influence on the progress of Science education. Can you imagine Huckabee nominating Michael Behe as his National Science Adviser. We don’t need a glib Baptist preacher who believes in Noah’s Ark as president.

    It’s not difficult to understand why a majority of Americans believe in Creationism. Every Sunday, very young impressionable children are indoctrinated with the metaphors of Genesis. Worse, pulpit preachers display their ignorance of Science and bigotry against Science by ascribing to the science of evolution every societal evil they can think of and, in the process, besmirch the name and reputation of one of history’s greatest scientists, Charles Darwin. .

  111. robc,

    F = ma = dp/dt = dmv/dt = m(dv/dt)

    Many, many commenters

    evolution ? abiogenesis

    Jay D,

    I’ve let myself imagine what reality would be like if there were no God, and it made my head spin…If God does not exist, the only universe that should reasonably exist is a universe populated by “nothing.”

    I think Sartre responded to these concerns here,

    October 3
    Spoke with Camus today about my cookbook. Though he has never actually eaten, he gave me much encouragement. I rushed home immediately to begin work. How excited I am! I have begun my formula for a Denver omelet.

    October 4
    Still working on the omelet. There have been stumbling blocks. I keep creating omelets one after another, like soldiers marching into the sea, but each one seems empty, hollow, like stone. I want to create an omelet that expresses the meaninglessness of existence, and instead they taste like cheese. I look at them on the plate, but they do not look back. Tried eating them with the lights off. It did not help. Malraux suggested paprika.

    October 6
    I have realized that the traditional omelet form (eggs and cheese) is bourgeois. Today I tried making one out of cigarette, some coffee, and four tiny stones. I fed it to Malraux, who puked. I am encouraged, but my journey is still long.

    TWC,

    We’re never, ever going to abolish public education so we at least need to offer the rural and urban poor an opportunity for a better education by giving them a choice.

    Do you think that there are enough kids in most rural districts to support enough schools to have real competition?

    gmats,

    Because as smart as we are, I have a hard time believing that we’d be able to out-survive T-Rex throughout a 40day/40night journey on an Ark, and the subsequent release from that Ark.

    Noah didn’t let them on that’s why there aren’t any more dinosaurs, duh.

  112. Grewgills sed: “Noah didn’t let them on that’s why there aren’t any more dinosaurs, duh.”

    Uh, wull, that’s not what the Christians that put together that there new Creation Museum (www.creationmuseum.org)sez. You must not be a True Christian! Anyways, yer shud’nt insult them there Christians that know there WERE dinos on the Ark!

    Honestly, if we give free rein to people to teach as science and history any kind of crap they want to just make up to support their innane Middle Ages-based religious beliefs, this country is lost. Better public education than NO education.

  113. john chambers wrote

    “The President has a great influence on the progress of Science education. Can you imagine Huckabee nominating Michael Behe as his National Science Adviser. We don’t need a glib Baptist preacher who believes in Noah’s Ark as president.”

    Ack! Behe? You just gave me another heart attack!

  114. I’m saddened that Nick Gillespie is supporting a guy like Ron Paul who clearly rejects reason, critical thought, and disrespects the hard work of hundreds of thousands of scientists around the world who’ve contributed to Evolution being the most useful and stalwart of theories in all of science.

    On what basis does he reject evolution? His reasoning skills? Not likely.

    By the way, for a constitutionalist, Ron Paul hasn’t read the constitution lately. In his 2003 essay “The War on Religion” Ron Paul says
    “…Certainly the drafters of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, both replete with references to God,…”
    Not once does the constitution reference God..not once.

    Ron Paul, you are a scientifically illiterate, populist, libertarian poser.

  115. But isn’t it an endorsement of one type of religion if we mandate an evolutionary view of the world? Doesn’t this effectively give preference to a particular theology?

    And at the end of the day, don’t we pay our state legislators to balance these concerns?

  116. But isn’t it an endorsement of one type of religion if we mandate an evolutionary view of the world? Doesn’t this effectively give preference to a particular theology?

    No one is suggesting that acceptance of evolution be mandatory. What is mandated is that religion be left out of the public school classrooms. This gives preference to science in the science classroom, not preference to any religion.

  117. I understand people’s disdain for religion, but I wonder why people post such inflammatory statements about it. God created everything, and evolution is they way He did it. Christians can be intelligent and reasonable people. The scientist behind the Human Genome Project, Francis Collins, is a Christian.

  118. It’s not just disdain for the hell of it. How would you react if someone kept insisting to you, constantly, that 2 + 2 = 7? After about the 100th time hearing that you might tend to fly off the handle a bit. You might even call that person an idiot. And now imagine if they took that further and insisted that if you went into their store, which was the only one within 50 miles of you, and tried to buy 2 items for $2 each then stated that you really owed them $7 plus tax. Would you just shrug that off as “Oh well, thats what he believes! Who am I to force my mathmatical beliefs on him?”

    But only if they act and think in intelligent and reasonable ways.

  119. This question is usually posed as creationism vs. evolution. That is an ignorant way to pose the question. Intelligent design is NOT the same as creationism. Creationism follows the bible. Intelligent design is science based. More and more scientists have come to realize that intelligent design is a legitimate scientific way to look at the evidence. Evolution can be looked at from many ways. One, change over time is accepted by intelligent design. A second, universal common ancestry is accepted by some in the intelligent design movement and disputed by others. The evidence is ambiguous. A third meaning, an unintelligent process of random mutations selected by nature for reproduction and leading to change is hotly disputed. The evidence against this is overwhelming. Not accepting this “evolution” is not a matter of religion, it is a matter of science.
    Most scientists refuse to see the evidence against this evolution just as they refused to see the evidence against the “big bang” until the evidence became overwhelming. If I had the space, I could list nineteen powerful reasons Darwin’s explanation of evolution and the neo-darwinian synthesis is wrong.
    David Moshinsky

  120. David Moshinsky: “Intelligent design is science based.”

    Who is the designer?

  121. “Creationism follows the bible”.
    Thats the problem. It creates an entirely new timeline that doesn’t stand up to any sane, independent standard that holds up to logic.
    “Intelligent design is science based.”
    Minus the peer-reviewed standards that science usually demands.
    “More and more scientists have come to realize that intelligent design is a legitimate scientific way to look at the evidence.”
    Replace “scientists” with “pastors” and that might be true.
    “A third meaning, an unintelligent process of random mutations selected by nature for reproduction and leading to change is hotly disputed.”
    Odd how “hotly disputed” usually follows some nonsensical Biblical reasoning. As if those who lived 2000 years ago had a scientific perspective that they were drawing on.

    Just curious, what are your thoughts on dinosaurs?

  122. David Moshinsky wrote:

    >Most scientists refuse to see the evidence against this evolution just as they refused to see the evidence against the “big bang” until the evidence became overwhelming.

    Uh, Dave?. I’m a theoretical physicist (Ph.D., Stanford), and I do not know of any evidence against the Big Bang nor do I know of any scientist who believes there is any such evidence.

    You seem to think that scientists now recognize that the evidence against the Big Bang is “overwhelming.”

    You’re simply mistaken about that. We don’t. Run over to your local state university and ask around in the physics or astronomy department among tenured faculty if you doubt this.

    Dave M. in Sacramento

  123. Marilyn wrote:
    > Better public education than NO education.

    Marilyn, have you looked into the public schools lately? I had a neighbor who was an education professor at the local university (CSUS) and a very big booster of the public schools.

    Until, that is, her own daughter reached school age and she started checking out the local public schools (in our affluent upscale neighborhood near the university). She ended up sending her kids to a private school.

    At least out here in California, it’s not much exaggeration to say that “public education = NO education.”

    I’m homeschooling – and, yes, I started teaching evolution in kindergarten.

    Dave M. in Sacramento

  124. The fact that even INTELLIGENT LIBERAL DEMOCRATIC PEOPLE can be “creationists” who refuse to change their minds about their points of view leaves me with one conclusion – NEITHER should be taught in schools. One side will always oppose the other like cats and dogs. Political systems are just plain crazy – and I’m not just talking about on this issue. They tend to be like this on pretty much EVERY issue that comes up – be they Democrats OR Republicans.

    I’m not saying science itself shouldn’t be taught. But any scientific OR religious issue that people have been in debate for hundreds of years about is probably best left ignored – at least in schools. They still have their place, though – in the lab and in the church, respectively – just not in the schools.

  125. Send your school choir down next year and we’ll show them.

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  127. The plush toys pictured below are black-market Fuwa, outlaws each of them

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