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Creationist Textbook Stickers Declared Unconstitutional 3360

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the separating-church-and-science dept.
An anonymous reader writes "MSNBC reports that a judge in Atlanta, GA has ruled that a sticker placed on all textbooks in Cobb County stating that 'Evolution is a theory, not a fact,' is unconstitutional, and ordered that all stickers be removed."
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Creationist Textbook Stickers Declared Unconstitutional

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  • Re:Interesting... (Score:3, Informative)

    by lordkuri (514498) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @11:29PM (#11356170)
    theory Audio pronunciation of "theory" ( P ) Pronunciation Key (th-r, thîr)
    n. pl. theories

    1. A set of statements or principles devised to explain a group of facts or phenomena, especially one that has been repeatedly tested or is widely accepted and can be used to make predictions about natural phenomena.


    where are your test results? I'd like to see em'
  • Creationist? (Score:5, Informative)

    by PuppiesOnAcid (792320) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @11:29PM (#11356186) Homepage Journal
    I'm not defending either side here...but how exactly does one call this a "creationist textbook sticker?" I've heard many evolutionists declare evolution as only theory and not fact as well...
  • The Lemov Test (Score:5, Informative)

    by alphakappa (687189) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @11:31PM (#11356208) Homepage
    For those who might cite the First Amendment: The judge based his decision on the test established by the SC in the Lemov vs. Kurtzman:

    Under the Lemon test, a government-sponsored message violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment if: (1) it does not have a secular purpose, (2) its principal or primary effect advances or inhibits religion, or (3) it creates an excessive entanglement of the government with religion.


    Since putting the sticker violated rules (2) and (3), it was deemed to be unconstitutional.
  • Re:Interesting... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, 2005 @11:33PM (#11356246)
    What is it then? It is called the Theory of Evolution, yet it does not fit the definition for a theory? WTF? Oh wait, here's a more complete definition [reference.com].
  • by alphakappa (687189) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @11:33PM (#11356252) Homepage
    can be found here. [cimedia.com]
  • Re:The Lemov Test (Score:1, Informative)

    by comwiz56 (447651) <comwizNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday January 13, 2005 @11:37PM (#11356325) Homepage
    I would say it does quite the opposite, despite the court ruling.

    The books present evolution (a counter-religious theory) as fact, making the books violate #2 more than the sticker, saying that the school system condones neither belief.

    And for #3, I'd say that these stickers help to remove the entanglement of government and religion, by not presenting a certain view as a fact.
  • Re:theory... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, 2005 @11:48PM (#11356501)
    But you have to realize the fact that evolution is not widely accepted. In fact, the only places where it's taught is the USA, Most of western europe, Canada, and a few asian countries (Japan, China, South Korea).

    However, relativity is widely accepted by the great amount of the population of the earth. Waaaaay above 99%.

    There's a difference between teaching gravity as a fact and evolution as a fact.
  • Additionally (Score:5, Informative)

    by hayden (9724) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @11:51PM (#11356552)
    For something to be a "theory" in science it must be falsifiable. So the theory must predict things and then it must be conceivable to perform experiments based on those predictions and get a yes or no answer. If the experiment gives an unpredicted result then the theory needs to be modifyed or a new one investigated.

    A quote I've seen attributed to Asimov:
    'The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not "Eureka!" but "That's funny..."'

    Intelligent design/creationism are not falsifiable and do not belong in a science class. They belong in a class studying mythology and fairy tales.

  • Re: What? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Theatetus (521747) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @11:55PM (#11356614) Journal
    Oh, and a minority should decide what the majority wants their kids to learn in schools their taxes fund?

    A minority of people in this country understand the Calculus. They should be the ones who decide what everyone's kids learn in school. So, yes, exactly: a minority should decide what the majority's kids learn in schools everyone's taxes fund. That's because the minority is often smarter.

  • by JasonStiletto (653819) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @11:58PM (#11356663)
    Because the intent of the sticker was to deliver the "Evolution is...not a fact" message, not the "Evolution is a theory" message. Plate Techtonics is a theory. Relativity is a theory. Newtons laws of motion also a theory. The creationists want to pound in the "is a theory, not a fact" because they want you to think of it in the same way that The sun is driven across the sky every day in a giant chariot sort of a theory, not a this matches all the available facts sort of theory. Just because you believe people couldn't possibily live in Australia because they'd fall off the earth doesn't make it true.
  • Re:Thank God! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Narchie Troll (581273) on Friday January 14, 2005 @12:02AM (#11356710)
    First, here [talkorigins.org] and here [talkorigins.org] is your information about macroevolution (a misnomer in itself).

    Second, there's no such thing as being "between species". An organism is either in a given species or it isn't -- and the change of one species into another can happen instantly, or it can happen gradually. In any case, a change of species is so minor that it isn't easily observed in the fossil record.

    You might want to look up "species". I think you have a misconception about what it means.
  • Theories and facts (Score:3, Informative)

    by cquark (246669) on Friday January 14, 2005 @12:09AM (#11356824)
    Facts and theories are completely different concepts in science. Facts are observations; theories are explanations of facts.

    Gravity is a fact, or more precisely, a set of facts describing how objects are attracted to each other. General relativity is our best theory for explaining how gravity works. We know that it's flawed, but we haven't been able to come up with a consistent theory of quantum gravity.

    Evolution is also a fact. It is the observed change in allele frequencies over time. We've observed species adapting to new situations, and we've observed new species evolving from older ones. Natural selection is our best current theory for how explaining how evolution works.

    Neither Creationism and Intelligent Design are theories. They are both myths, which cannot be tested or falsified.

    Singling out the fact of evolution or the theory of natural selection is an attempt by American fundamentalists to prevent children from seriously considering and understanding evolution. They do it for the same reasons that people objected to the heliocentric model of the solar system: they think it reduces the significance of humanity so that it's not the most important thing in the cosmos.

    Is scientific truth important in this case? Yes, modern biology is based on the foundation of evolution. Look to history to see what happens when dogma trumps scientific fact: google for Lysenkoism, which the dogmatic Soviet interpretation of Lamarck's failed theory of acquired characteristics, that lead to the starvation and death of millions of Russians in the 20th century.
  • Re:Which religion? (Score:5, Informative)

    by LGagnon (762015) on Friday January 14, 2005 @12:19AM (#11356943)
    Actually, you're wrong. Atheism is not the lack of religion, it is the lack of belief in god(s). An atheist can still be religious (as in the case of some Buddhists). What atheism is, is a belief that one can have, whether you have religious beliefs or not.
  • Re:Yay! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Chris Burke (6130) on Friday January 14, 2005 @12:33AM (#11357129) Homepage
    No, it's not a free speech issue. The Government -- whether that be in the form of the Justice Department or the Board of a public school -- doesn't have the "free speech" right to dictate that students have stickers on their books. The Government imposing views on you is not free speech in any way, shape or form.

    It's really simple:
    Student puts a sticker on their book: exercise of freedom of speech/religion.
    School Board puts sticker on every students' book: violation of freedom of speech/religion.

    I know this gets confused in both ways (e.g. disallowing independent prayer), but it really is quite simple.
  • by ars (79600) <assd2@GAUSSdsgml.com minus math_god> on Friday January 14, 2005 @12:36AM (#11357170) Homepage
    Um, you may not know this, but stuff that's made by man, even if described in the bible doesn't have anywhere near the reliability of stuff made by god.

    There's a reason why this passage describes who made this.

    And BTW for the clueless, you do imagine that someone actually measured this pot right? And recorded what he measured - it's not prophecy after all. The reason these measurements are recorded is that the pot was very think. One measurement was an inner measurement, and the other was an outer measurement.

    Do the math, go look up how much a hand breadth is, and figure the inner diameter was 10 cubits minus a hand breadth. Then see how 30 cubits compares with what you calculate for the inner circumference - you'll find it's quite accurate.
  • Re:Thank God! (Score:3, Informative)

    by DShard (159067) on Friday January 14, 2005 @12:36AM (#11357172)
    There called salamanders.
  • Re:Thank God! (Score:3, Informative)

    by malfunct (120790) on Friday January 14, 2005 @12:40AM (#11357239) Homepage
    http://dict.die.net/fact/
    Source: WordNet (r) 1.7

    fact
    n 1: a piece of information about circumstances that exist or
    events that have occurred; "first you must collect all
    the facts of the case"
    2: a statement or assertion of verified information about
    something that is the case or has happened; "he supported
    his argument with an impressive array of facts"
    3: an event known to have happened or something known to have
    existed; "your fears have no basis in fact"; "how much of
    the story is fact and how much fiction is hard to tell"
    4: a concept whose truth can be proved; "scientific hypotheses
    are not facts"

    I thought a definition would be useful here. The sticker is completely correct in stating that theory is not fact by all of the above definitions. I agree that the reason the sticker is on the books is definitely biased but the message itself is fairly neutral and fully accurate so far as I can tell. If they had stated that the theory of evolution was false or had been proven incorrect then they would be inaccurate and the sticker defintely should be removed. As it stands it is just a statement of common sense that should be practiced by any scientist.
  • Re:Yay! (Score:4, Informative)

    by lucabrasi999 (585141) on Friday January 14, 2005 @12:42AM (#11357261) Journal
    this is only problably because this is a highly catholic community and they dont want their chilren believing otherwise.

    As a former Catholic, I feel compelled to point out (for clarification purposes only) that the Catholic Church is not opposed to the theory of Evolution. It does question some of the "ape-to-human" points in the theory, but, from what I have read, that appears more to be from a lack of evidence than from some overall dogmatic opposition to humans evolving from apes -- check these out link [newadvent.org] and link [newadvent.org].

    Both links are very long articles that go into significant detail, but from the summaries I read, I interpret them to mean the Catholic Church is concerned where the human "soul" came from. They are not caught up in a creationistic point of view and they appear to be quite accepting in many of the finer points in evolution.

    And, to go a step further, the Catholic Church, unlike some of the Evangalicals, does NOT believe in a literal interpretation of the bible.

  • Re:Interesting... (Score:2, Informative)

    by eh2o (471262) on Friday January 14, 2005 @12:44AM (#11357284)
    the mathematical definition of an infinite series is one which is defined for any arbitrarily large, finite number of terms. proofs of limits, continuity, etc all work the same way - by induction on a unbounded sequence of increasing finite representations.

    so, you are correct in that for any finite number of terms there will be a -1 at the end of the series and therefore 1 = 0 does not follow.

    however the original post is not a proof by contradiction because its really not a mathematically sound construction at all. it is, however, amusing. :)
  • Re:Yay! (Score:2, Informative)

    by Pooua (265915) on Friday January 14, 2005 @12:54AM (#11357417) Homepage
    This is only problably because this is a highly catholic community and they dont want their chilren believing otherwise.

    The Pope endorses biological evolutionary theory. There are many Roman Catholic priests working within the Roman Catholic Church to advance evolutionary theory. I attended a public high school of 3000 students--mostly Roman Catholic--and the Catholics had no trouble at all accepting evolution. On what do you base your claim that opposition to evolution in the Atlanta community comes from Roman Catholics? It could just as likely be that they are the ones advocating evolutionary theory!

    I think that these stickers shouldent have even been put there in the first place.

    It might open young minds to more than mainstream dogma.

    First of all, evolution has been PROVEN to take place in some form or another, from bones and fossles

    Actually, bones and fossils cannot prove evolutionary theory, and, in fact, the theory of common descent (which is the actual center of debate) is a deduction made after the fact. It cannot be proven in the true sense of the word, and there are alternative explanations possible.

    and whick would you be more inclined to believe - A modern theory with -=*PROOF*=-

    You obviously don't know what the word, "proof" means. You are confusing evidence with proof. They are not the same thing. It is tragic that our public school systems allow lazy thinking like yours to pass through the system without challenge.

    or a child's story that dates back c. 2000 years ago?

    You should explain what you have in mind, because no one is arguing for a 2000 year-old child's story. Saying such things makes you look like an ignorant bigot.

    This is a subtle example of church INFLUENCING our government,

    There is nothing wrong with churches influencing government. Of course, atheists want us to believe otherwise. That is part of the culture war.

    and the stickers should have been made optional or "opt out"able.

    The stickers state simple fact; evolution is a theory. It would be closed-minded and unscientific to state that no other theories could be made, or should be heard.

  • Re:Thank God! (Score:3, Informative)

    by 955301 (209856) on Friday January 14, 2005 @12:55AM (#11357423) Journal

    Would you settle for a few steps? Taken by a Bonobo who decided walking erect was a better idea after injuring her back? Google is your friend. She's in an Israeli zoo...

    We also know that humans were shorter. There's recorded proof.

    But I agree that Evolution isn't a fact. It's a theory supported by a lot of fact checking...

  • Re:Thank God! (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14, 2005 @12:58AM (#11357474)
    How about a fish that can breathe air?

    http://mama.essortment.com/lungfish_rank.htm

  • by phantasma6 (799340) on Friday January 14, 2005 @01:01AM (#11357514)
    You do realise that all good Catholics should believe that evolution is correct. Pope John Paul II himself has declared that evolution is 'more than just a hypothesis'.

    http://www.2think.org/pope.shtml

    "When a group of people persecute others that don't agree with their idea of the "truth", we have tyrany"
    can I just ask who is persecuting who here?
  • Re:Creationist? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Yunzil (181064) on Friday January 14, 2005 @01:01AM (#11357519) Homepage
    while atomic theory, gravitational theory, and germ theory can be tested, evolutionary theory cannot.

    Yes, it can, and has. If we found human remains in Precambrian strata, or if human DNA wasn't similar to the DNA of the other great apes, or if a cat ever gave birth to a dog, then evolution would be in trouble.

    So far, it's passed all the tests.

    When a new species has been observed to have evolved, you can remove the stickers (we're discussing only macro-evolution).

    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-speciation.htm l [talkorigins.org]
    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/speciation.html [talkorigins.org]
  • by jfengel (409917) on Friday January 14, 2005 @01:07AM (#11357590) Homepage Journal
    Do a web search on irreducible complexity [google.com].

    The idea of irreducible complexity is scientifically valid: if you could find a structure which could not have evolved, that's proof that evolution is wrong. That's why evolution is a scientific theory: it proposes tests which it could fail.

    Creationists (like the grandparent post) cite certain examples: the eye (there are an awful lot of pieces, and it's hard to see how a less-complex eye could exist to evolve into an eye without first being selected against); the bacterial flagellum (another rather complex piece from which it's hard to imagine the immediate evolutionary precursor).

    The examples strike me as extremely strained. There are very few of them repeated over and over. They always apply to soft tissues, so the fossil record is poor. Every time we look at hard tissues, the evolutionary trace is clear.

    Despite the complexity of these systems, it still seems that with enough effort we will eventually uncover how they did evolve, perhaps once we have sequenced the genomes of creatures along the evolutionary path. It certainly seems premature to throw out a very successful theory on the basis of this evidence.

    But the evidence is there, waiting for you to explain it. Don't dismiss the challenger; know his argument and refute it.
  • Re:Thank God! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Ted Williams' Frozen (697843) on Friday January 14, 2005 @01:30AM (#11357855)
    The idea that the Earth travels around the Sun is just part of the theory of Planetary Motion. Electrons are just part of Atomic Theory. If they don't exist, your computer doesn't work. Gravity is just a theory.

    American Heritage Dictionary

    theory n.

    1. A set of statements or principals devised to explain a group of facts or phenomena, especially one that has been repeatedly tested or is widely accepted and can be used to make predictions about natural phenomena.

    This is what scientists mean by a theory. Nothing in science is a fact. As more observations are made, theories can change, or new ones are developed.

    Evolution Theory is accepted as the best explaination of what has been observed from any number of discipines. The sticker is incorrect in the usage of the word theory and should not be placed in the textbooks.

    Should physics textbooks carry a sticker that gravity is just a theory also?
  • Re:Thank God! (Score:2, Informative)

    by Laser Lou (230648) on Friday January 14, 2005 @01:32AM (#11357872)
    Is there some dark secret that they don't want us to know? Scientists (and other academics, for that matter) have come up with some seemingly ridiculous ideas in other areas and have been allowed to pursue them to the point that they became mainstream.

    The scientific community is not trying to lead the world astray with wild theories. Instead, they want to teach the world a little bit of what they know. There really is nothing to hide.

    Have you ever honestly looked at the evidence for a global flood of immense proportions? It's scary.
    What you saw was a example of the persuasive power of pseudoscience. An impressive case is built for creationism, but its really flimsy, like movie props. Its basically like the UFO stuff. In this case, it exists because of the belief that literal creationism must be true if the Bible is inerrant. I know, I was a creationist too.

  • Re:Dear Creationists (Score:2, Informative)

    by RetiredHacker (323797) on Friday January 14, 2005 @01:37AM (#11357915)
    The existence of God is a hypothesis, not a theory.

    Once enough evenidence is provided, and other hypotheses disproved, then it might become a theory.

  • Re:Thank God! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Frogbert (589961) <frogbert.gmail@com> on Friday January 14, 2005 @01:49AM (#11358029)
    Every day you can see diseases evolving to resist medications that were designed to kill them. These are diseases such as golden staph and so on.

    Futhermore in Australia we now have rabbits that are almost completely immune to the miximitosis disease, and they are born like it too. That is what evolution is all about people, small changes over a few decades can pile up to make a large change over say a million years.
  • is that people are starting to look like the ones who prosecuted Galileo. They used the Bible as a SCIENTIFIC BOOK (which wasn't meant to be), distorting all science. Geocentrism anyone?

    Worse. These creationists want their version to be the truth so much, that they've dismissed carbon-14 testings, astronomy, quantum physics and everything that tells us the universe is older than 6 days, as lies, etc.

    I remember a joke in a creationism book: "The answer book", it's a pink one (review and rebuttal [answersincreation.org]).
    Student: So, those 6 days could have been 6 microseconds?
    Teacher: Yes.
    Student: And 6 billion years?
    Teacher: Yes.
    Student: And 6 days?
    Teacher (outraged) SIX DAYS NO!!!!

    This ridiculization of science gets me scared at the whole creationism.

    Now, on the other hand, I have something against Darwinian Evolution. I find it hard to believe that mere "random mutations" and a couple millions years have managed to create symbiosis and parasitosis. You know, an organism depending upon another (and possibly supporting it).

    Take a look at the discovery channel. Is it really logical that random mutations will make a spider look EXACTLY like a species of ants, use EXACTLY the same pheromones to hunt them? Or how about this little worm which produces some kind of food that ants like? Or how about the orchid Mantis?

    Symbiosis means SYNCHRONIZED evolution, and I don't think that random mutations can do that. Furthermore, HOW are these mutations produced?

    I rather think that possible mutations are already hardwired into DNA, and there are some ways to trigger specific changes - genetic memory or something... since we don't even know what the rest of "garbage" DNA is, I believe that there are still many mysteries in genetics that we haven't even SUSPECTED.

    Evolution? Yes. Darwinism? I doubt it. (And I do believe God designed DNA :)

    (Note: As a plus, i'd like to point out Genesis 1:20-27. First God filled the waters with living beings, then birds, then the big sea monsters and all water beings, and then earth animals, reptiles, and wild animals. And lastly, man.

    So, this kinda fits evolution, in that life came first from water, then evolved into sea creatures (sharks, fish), then dinosaurs, mammals, and finally mankind. Of course, this is just an interpretation, but I'd say it's quite accurate for a religious book. In any case, interpretation should follow Science, and not the opposite.
  • Re:Thank God! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Profane MuthaFucka (574406) <busheatskok@gmail.com> on Friday January 14, 2005 @01:53AM (#11358066) Homepage Journal
    You're obviously not clear on ANY of the definitions, so I will be helpful and provide some, with examples.

    Fact: Something that you observe to be true.
    fact #1: when you drop a hammer, it falls to the ground
    fact #2: a genetic sequence can change sufficiently to form a new species. Speciation has been observed more than once in the laboratory and in the wild, so this is a fact. Since we call this process 'evolution', that means evolution is a fact. Keep reading for more explanation of this.

    Theory: An explanation of an observation
    Theory #1: The theory of gravity is understood as a curvature in space, which explains why the hammer falls.
    Theory #2: The Theory of Evolution through Natural Selection explains how a population's genome can change over time.

    Law: Not really related to any of the other definitions. It's just a mathematical relationship between two values.
    Law #1: If you double the distance from a source of light, the brightness falls off proportionally to the square of the distance.
    Law #2: (expressed as a formula) F=ma. Force equals mass times acceleration.

    Please note that Evolution is a fact, and the theory is called the Theory of Evolution through Natural Selection. There are other theories of evolution, which have been disproved. A famous one is the theory of evolution through acquired characteristics, also known as Lamarkian evolution. It posited that species evolve by acquiring and retaining useful characteristics through use. Therefore, a giraffe would have longer necks if the previous generations stretched their necks to reach high leaves. This was the main theory that Darwin and others showed to be false.

  • Re:Thank God! (Score:5, Informative)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Friday January 14, 2005 @01:57AM (#11358110) Journal
    > As far as I know, no one has actually observed macroevolution.

    Then I'm afraid, to be blunt, that you are essentially ignorant of a vast area of research.

    Check out http://talkorigins.org. Let's see how open your mind truly is.
  • Re:Thank God! (Score:3, Informative)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Friday January 14, 2005 @02:03AM (#11358169) Journal
    Unfortunately, you seem to be using multiple definitions of the word "theory", conflating them. This is a common mistake of someone who fundementally doesn't understand how science works.

    The observation is that heritable traits change in populations over time. This is the "ball falls when you let go" of evolution, the indisputable fact. Evolutionary theory attempts to explain the observations of evolution. In turn it makes key predictions as to what we can expect to find both in the fossil record and, with the advent of genetics, within the genes of organisms. These further observations serve to confirm the basic fact that all living organisms fit within a twin-nest hiearchy, and thus share a common ancestor.

    Now we can debate many things about the particular mechanisms that drive evolution, but it remains that it is a fact that evolution occurs.
  • by ZuG (13394) on Friday January 14, 2005 @02:11AM (#11358246) Homepage Journal
    IAABiologist..

    Evolution has been observed and tested over and over again in real life studies. The most advantageousely traited organisms live to spread their genes, and the organisms with the worst traits die before they can reproduce (much).

    For examples: species evolution of fruit flies in the laboratory and of Tilapia fish in East African lakes, as well as the English moths (their exact species escapes me at the moment).

    The exact mechanisms of evolution and what exactly involved into what things is still constantly squabbled over. But the basics have been proven. There is near-universal agreement among biologists on this, despite what many creationists would like you to believe.
  • by 808140 (808140) on Friday January 14, 2005 @02:19AM (#11358316)
    Irreducible complexity, while typically parrotted by Intelligent Design proponents as Evolution's great failure, is actually mostly based on a flawed understanding the mechanics of evolution. Here's a pretty in-depth article on it: Irreducible Complexity Demystified [talkdesign.org].

    It doesn't include the bit about the eye, but the eye isn't all that complex, actually (as evidenced by it being one of the only senses whose mechanics, at the chemical level, we completely understand.) This example of so-called irreducible complexity was actually first contemplated by Darwin (iirc) and has been treated pretty extensively. Nowadays, most ID proponents don't even bring it up, prefering more exotic and less easily refuted examples, like bacterial flagella.

    Anyway, it's a good read.
  • Re:Thank God! (Score:3, Informative)

    by kurzweilfreak (829276) <kurzweilfreak@gmailFREEBSD.com minus bsd> on Friday January 14, 2005 @02:41AM (#11358482) Journal
    It's even more plausable than that if you consider that the vast majority of the young planet was covered in an OCEAN of primative chemicals, being struck by lightning all over the entire planet at incredible ratios of strikes/square mile, the fact that certain chemicals tend towards each other more than others, the idea that a chemical structure eventually arose that could create copies of itself isn't very far-fetched, especially considering the extreme lengths of time all these chemical reactions had to occur over and over again all over the planet.

    Continue this by realizing that copying processes are not perfect, mistakes are made, and sometimes those mistakes can make a chemical structure that replicates itself in a different way with different chemicals that can still self-replicate the structure and you end up with different varieties of replicating structures competing for the same chemical resources.

    Continue this by seeing that some of these self-replicating structures were able to combine with other chemicals for use as an "outer layer" that happened to protect the replication structure from damage by UV rays or other chemicals that would cause its deterioration. You begin to see the prototypes of what we call "cells".

    Continue this all over the planet an inconceivable number of times for an inconceivable length of time and plausibility is certainly within grasp.

  • Re:Thank God! (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14, 2005 @03:11AM (#11358700)
    Name a positive mutation in, for example, drosophila (fruit flies). These beasties have been bombarded with gamma radiation and any other mutagenic source for a lot of years. Please summarize all the positive mutations observed, negative mutations, and how the species is advanced by these positive mutations.

    Or are there any?
  • Re:Thank God! (Score:2, Informative)

    by rilian4 (591569) on Friday January 14, 2005 @03:18AM (#11358739) Journal
    The poster fails to realize that all biology texts already state the same thing on them on the inside.

    The poster also fails to realize that the entire concept of "separation of church and state" isn't even written into the constitution. That phrase comes from 1 source...a letter written by Thomas Jefferson in response to a letter written to him by a pastor with concerns about the Bill of Rights in 1789. That pastor asked if the clause stating "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." The pastor was concerned that this clause could later be turned against religious people. Thomas Jefferson replied that he didn't feel that to be a problem since there was "...a wall of separation between church and state...". This separation existed to protect those who practice a religion from the government. Not to protect the government and any citizens from religion.

    I feel that I would be remiss if I did not point this out. Go read the 2 letters, they are on historical record. Research the lives and backgrounds of the founding fathers. You'll be surprised at how high a percentage of them were religious.

    This sticker thing is ridiculous. The article states that 2000 parents complained that evolution was being taught as fact to their students when there are obvious problems with the theory. Only 6 parents complained about the sticker and their wished overrode the wishes of 2000...Do the math folks...
  • Re:Thank God! (Score:3, Informative)

    by leomekenkamp (566309) on Friday January 14, 2005 @03:29AM (#11358821)

    We have very few direct observations of any kind of rapid, sudden, severe evolutionm, which might explain historical speciation.

    As a matter of fact: we have such direct observations. Take dogs for instance: they evolved out of domesticated wolves in a symbiotic relation with homo sapiens. Dogs have certain characteristics that wolves do not possess, like for instance the ability to 'follow eyes' and determine what a human being is looking at.

    Also, a lot of new flowers are cross-bread to create new flowers with distinctive characteristics.

    There are also a few posts further down that have urls on the process on speciation.

  • Re:Thank God! (Score:4, Informative)

    by wass (72082) on Friday January 14, 2005 @03:39AM (#11358886)
    Religion demands adherence without proof. Science demands adherence only with proof.

    Not universally. Western religions tend to demand adherence without proof (leaps of faith and such), but Eastern religions (and some Jewish mysticism) tend to be more philosophical and introspective. For example, in Zen Buddhism blindly adhering to written or taught dogma is typically shunned. Instead, the wealth of religious texts in these zen sects are to be taken merely as a "finger pointing to the moon". If you spend too much time looking at the finger, you'll lose sight of the moon.

  • Re:Yay! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Chris Burke (6130) on Friday January 14, 2005 @03:58AM (#11359010) Homepage
    School Board puts sticker on THEIR books. It's just labeling their property.

    You mean OUR books. It's a public school, it is government run, and therefore it is ultimately responsible to the people and must abide by the restrictions the people have placed on their government, specifically the Bill of Rights.

    The statement on the sticker is true... so what's all the fuss about? Even the most rabid proponents of evolution still call it a theory. (As all good scientists should)

    Because it says evolution, and not Relativity, or Quantum Mechanics, or Boyle's Law, or the Second Law of Thermodynamics. It doesn't say "science is based on the principle of falsifiability; a theory is accepted so long as it matches observation and discarded when experimentation shows it wrong". No, they made a point of saying that evolution is just a theory without any statement about the evidence behind it, and this was clearly politically motivated.

    This quote is just silly:

    By denigrating evolution, the school board appears to be endorsing the well-known prevailing alternative theory, creationism or variations thereof, even though the sticker does not specifically reference any alternative theories," U.S. District Judge Clarence Cooper said.


    Yeah, real silly. Except that you, me, the Judge, the School Board, and the 2000 parents who complained all know that it is true.
  • by tfoss (203340) on Friday January 14, 2005 @04:00AM (#11359013)
    Take a look at the discovery channel. Is it really logical that random mutations will make a spider look EXACTLY like a species of ants, use EXACTLY the same pheromones to hunt them? Or how about this little worm which produces some kind of food that ants like? Or how about the orchid Mantis?


    Symbiosis means SYNCHRONIZED evolution, and I don't think that random mutations can do that. Furthermore, HOW are these mutations produced?

    Dude, you just don't get this whole natural selection thing do you? Ya know, how good traits are selected for...and the random noise is not?

    -Ted

  • Re:Thank God! (Score:4, Informative)

    by Wavicle (181176) on Friday January 14, 2005 @04:04AM (#11359039)
    The judge in this case ruled the stickers unconstitutional because of the religion of the people who supported it.

    No, the judge in this case ruled the stickers unconstitutional because an attack directed at evolution in this manner, to any reasonably intelligent person, is an endorsement of religion. This was simply christian fundamentalists trying to play fast and loose with the rules.

    They neither promoted nor condemned any religion--or lack thereof.

    I don't see how you came to that conclusion, but it is not the conclusion the judge said he came to: "By denigrating evolution, the school board appears to be endorsing the well-known prevailing alternative theory, creationism or variations thereof"

    If this were allowed to stand, we'd see them attacking all sorts of things that conflict with their interpretation of the bible:

    Geology text: "This text book suggests that the rocky material of the mountains between arizona and utah are too hard to have had the Grand Canyon formed by all the floods of the last 10,000 years, which is a theory not a fact. Readers are asked to keep an open mind..."

    Physics text: "This text book suggests that the half life of some radioactive materials found on earth, and the relative amounts of decay products found with them, indicate that they have been around for billions of years, which is a theory not a fact. Readers are asked to keep an open mind..."

    Sometimes an attack on science that is popularly at odds with religion is an endorsement of religion. No matter how well you dress it up.
  • Re:Thank God! (Score:4, Informative)

    by Trogre (513942) * on Friday January 14, 2005 @04:35AM (#11359213) Homepage
    Please don't ever link to talkorigins.org when discussing open minds again.

    Is is a site notorious for exaggeration and plain misinformation about such topics.

    You might as well link to Microsoft's "Get the facts" campaign page to encourage open minded discussion about Linux.

  • by djplurvert (737910) on Friday January 14, 2005 @05:26AM (#11359457)
    That site is CLEARLY satire....navigate your way to the jesus anti-fornication thong" [cafepress.com] to convince yourself.

    I'd bet money it's the same people who do landover baptist church [landoverbaptist.org] which, btw, is ALSO funny as hell.

  • by Shivetya (243324) on Friday January 14, 2005 @06:53AM (#11359798) Homepage Journal
    I will say one thing about my county government. They are one of the best when it comes to managing a county government. We have had expansion of services while at the same time taxes either rolled back or were not raised. They operate very efficiently and openly.

    Now, as for this matter. While a Christian myself I see no reason for any government agency to act in a way that either promotes or denies any religious belief. Simply put, God can take of his own and himself and doesn't need meddling politicians to do so.

    This is probably the only real waste of money that I have seen the board make. By waste I mean senseless waste as this is a totally no-win situation. No matter how it is worded it will be seen as promotion of religion. The environment of the courts and media is too highly charged to do anything that even remotely be seen as "Christian" related.

    Regardless I will still live in this county for many years to come as it has some of the most friendly people, better living, and very good county and local city governments.
  • Re:Thank God! (Score:4, Informative)

    by Alsee (515537) on Friday January 14, 2005 @08:49AM (#11360279) Homepage
    never been found

    You have been missinformed. Many example of speciation have been observed.

    But even better than mere speciation is the absolutely facinating sub-catagory of ring species [google.com] which have been found. Not merely a case of a single species diverging into two incompatible species over short timescales, but having the FULL range of intermediate forms available to study!

    -
  • by gaijin99 (143693) on Friday January 14, 2005 @09:18AM (#11360435) Journal
    Ok, I'll bite even though I've sworn before not to get involved in debates with Creationists.

    Yes, evolution is a theory. So is gravity. Non-scientists use the word "theory" to mean "an idea I just now came up with and doesn't really have any relation to objective reality". As in "I have a theory about that", or "well, it works *in*theory*". Scientists use the word in a completely different way. What the layman calls a theory a scientist would call a "hypothesis". In order for a hypothesis to become a theory it has to survive attempts to prove that its wrong, offer a good explination for observed facts, etc.

    Gravity is a theory, not a fact. And again, we see the difference between lay use of words and scientific use of words. The layman uses "fact" to describe both concrete observations and the explinations for connection between those observations. Scientists use the word only when describing concrete observations, not the connections between those observations. So, on the subject of gravity we see the facts are merely the orbits of planets and stars, and the fact that (some) things fall when they aren't supported. Gravity is a theory invented to connect these facts. F(g) = G * ((m1*m2)/(r^2)). That's "the theory of gravity". We furthur embelish this by theorizing that gravitation is caused by a distortion in space. Evidence seems to back this up, but new evidence could utterly shatter our current theory of gravity. The only things that can't really be disproven are the baren "facts": (some) things fall when they aren't supported, and things orbit other things.

    Which brings us to evolution, thories, and the stickers. The stickers were clearly intended to use the term "theory" in the lay sense, meaning "some harebraned idea", not "a rigorusly tested explination for a connection between facts".

    The only facts in the whole issue are that a) humans are here today, b) the fossil record contains several species that are no longer living. We theorize that the layers of the fossil record indicate that the lower layers are generally older (baring earthquakes and other things which might rearrange thousands of tonnes of rock). We theorize that since the layers show lower (earlier) periods without trilobites, and later (newer) periods with trilobites, and finally that there are no trilobites today that trilobites must have appeared after a time when they did not previously exist. Evolution is the only theory that connects these facts.

    Creationists contend that a) life is so self-evidently complex that it could not arise through any natural process, and b) their book says it all happened 6000 years ago over the course of six days. Neither of those statements are either an alternate theory that explains the observed facts, nor a refutation of the theory of evolution.

    If you want to get evolution out of the schools (or even just get equal time for a different theory) there is a very simple way to do so: useing the scientific method establish an alternate theory that explains the observed facts as well as (or better than) evolution does. Creationism (either the so-called "Scientific Creationism", or "Intelligent Design") does not actually do either of those things. In both cases they began with their conclusion and cherrypicked what facts they could to support that conclusion, which is not the way science works. In both cases they ignore rather large bodies of evidence, and they have steadfastly refused to publish their papers in peer reviewed journals.

    On that final note, I'll quit: Creationists will often whine that there is a massive conspiricy to keep them out of scientific journals. This is not true (or, as we say in Texas: that is a lie). Creationists have never actually offered their papers to any scientific journal. On a few occasions a journal has actually *requested* a paper from a Creationist only to have the Creationist demand special treatment (usually that no one be permitted to respond to or criticize their paper). Since Creationists so steadfastly refuse to participate in the scientific process I can only presume that they secretly acknowledge that they are not really scientists, which means that their theories (in the lay sense) have no place in a science class.

  • Re:Thank God! (Score:2, Informative)

    by oz1cz (535384) on Friday January 14, 2005 @10:11AM (#11360894)
    Oh, I forgot. They're just a bunch of brown-skinned pagans.
    FYI: There are more non-white Christians than white Christians in today's world.
  • by schtum (166052) on Friday January 14, 2005 @10:38AM (#11361166)
    The fossil record. [agiweb.org]
  • Re:shessh (Score:3, Informative)

    by White Roses (211207) on Friday January 14, 2005 @03:49PM (#11365943)
    Oh, I'd take that bet. See, in science, there is this thing we like to call an "experiment" where we take a "hypothesis" and try to prove or disprove it. You might have heard of this. It's called the scientific method in many circles. As such, an experiment was performed in the 1950's to try to prove the hypothesis that you suggest above, that non-organic mass under conditions similar to a primordial Earth might produce the building blocks of life. The Miller-Urey experiment [wikipedia.org]. They found that under such conditions, non-organic elements can form amino acids, which are a building block of life. The experiment is still under debate, but if you get up high enough in physics research, so is gravity. Like I said, the scientific method at work. You don't have to believe it. It's been proven from a scientific point of view. It's reproducible. It doesn't rely on belief.

    In short, the Georgia schools can cram it in their corn holes. And while they're at it, can look up the scientific definition of theory, not the Reagan definition of theory.

  • Re:Thank God! (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14, 2005 @07:03PM (#11368643)
    Many do not consider dogs and wolves to be seperate species. And for now, the creationists can still argue that cats begat cats and mice begat mice and so on. Many times I read or heard the phrase "and may be the same species" in regards to dogs and wolves.

    Good thing there's no evidence of evolution producing two species which couldn't interbreed. Oh wait! There is!

    http://www.santarosa.edu/lifesciences/ensatina.htm [santarosa.edu]

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