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Education

Evolution is a Myth in Kansas 1503

Posted by Hemos
from the i'm-gonna-cry dept.
Crafter wrote to us with the news that the Kansas State Board of Education is dropping evolution as a school mandated teaching. I'm speechless-I thought I was living in 1999, not 1799.
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Evolution is a Myth in Kansas

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  • See what I mean?
  • Like the media, teachers are often used as tools (often unwittingly, but sometimes coercively) for power (corporations, religions, governments, special interest groups, etc.) to disseminate propaganda. As a participant in the Evergreen educational experiment, I think that following the Evergreen model would alleviate a lot of the problems we see today. Rather than forcing students to eat a certain mental diet, we should open up and let them choose freely. In my opinion, the ideal educational instutions would have no requirements and no grades, just like Evergreen. However, Evergreen failed in some ways because it stopped just short of the real ideal. There really should be no degrees, and education should be viewed as an all-ages lifelong process. Already degrees mean very little in the workplace. Mostly they indicate that you're willing to stick with something for a while. But a list of courses and an interview process are *far* more effective in determining someone's education than a grade. That's why nobody really pays attention to grades and diplomas anymore. If you've got the skills, you're in. So getting rid of all this baggage makes perfect sense in a modern contect, because when you need to learn something, you just go back to school and learn it. The idea that 4 years and a degree makes you fit for another 40 or 50 years of living is crazy in a society experiencing as much change as we do. The nice thing about dropping all these requirements is that you suddenly get something you've never had before: MOTIVATED LEARNERS! Why? Because there's no other reason to be in school! It's hard and it costs money! If you're not learning something in a system that has no external socio-economic goals (grades/diploma etc) then you've got no reason to be in school. Instantly all the people that don't really want to be in school would leave. Or just take courses that they liked. Factoring education out of the power structure entirely and making it free and open would have a tremendous positive impact on our nation. The kids that want to learn X will learn it. The kids that don't want to won't learn it right away, but they might come back later when and if they're ready. No longer would people go to school for a "degree". They'd go for *an education*! What's more, it would greatly reduce the political problem of determining what gets taught in schools because students would pick and choose what they want to learn rather than having it rammed down their throats. We need a free marketplace of ideas and thinkers, not a political process for determining propaganda.


  • Perhaps you need to study evolutional theory before making statements about it which you are not qualified to make. Scientists do not assert that humans evolved from chimpanzees. They assert that all primates shared a common ancestor, and evolved along diverging paths into the separate primate species which exist today.
  • by Axe (11122)
    Sign.. I know..my English sucks... Can't find time to learn it better... But I will learn it, while Kansas kids still will grow up to be arrogant morons. Just like some people around here..
  • When evolutionary theory is based on the theory of a geological column that could somehow represent the age of the earth, and the column itself is based on evolutionary theory, then you have a circular argument, and it should be acknowledged as such. I think it's great that the evo-theory isn't mandatory curriculem in that state anymore. I think it's great that some free thinking folks are questioning the established dogma and deciding that there may be other hypothesis worth teaching. Shoot, forty-nine other states still mandate this. What's the matter, can't we accept one being a little different? We're all such hypocrites. Why can't we be a little more forgiving and open minded toward one another? (I know why... Hurray for freedom, honesty and diversity!!! :-)
  • Let me just say that you have single-handedly convinced me to go to a school other than Stanford.

    Thanks!


  • ^^^ read.

    ~Kevin
    :)
  • "Hey, it's still the Theory of Evolution, reguardless of how obvious it is until it can be unquestionably proven scientifically."

    This is not true at all. In science it theories are always theories. It is only in Religious Dogma that stuff becomes "fact".

    Ken

  • Will someone elaborate the differences between microevolution (adaptation) and macroevolution (the rise of new species)?

    I, for one, am unaware of any scientifically documented and repeatable experiments which demonstrate that members of one species can become members of an entirely new species (which cannot interbreed).

    But I spend my time on other things. Mmm, Perl.

    --
    QDMerge [rmci.net] -- data + templates = documents.
  • Actually, I agree with you. I think that it is legitimate to attempt to discern God's methods.

    However, I think blindly and dogmatically teaching a theory which makes little or no sense (i.e. speciation etc. purely through random mutations to useful traits) is pointless. My point is that natural selection is being defended not because most scientists think it's true (they don't) but because they are afraid of stepping back from this after they fought so hard against the creationists in the monkey trials.

    Whether you like it or not, the numbers on natural selection just don't work out. Especially when you consider irreducibly complex systems like the mammalian eye or blood clotting. Seriosly, read that book. It's good.
  • Most of the Slashdot comments I have seen have portrayed Evolution as fact. When, in fact, Evolution is a theory, just as any other scientifically established theory. There are facts supporting Evolution, but there are also facts discrediting Evoultion.

    Its BOTH. Its a theory just like the law of Gravity is a theory -- we can't prove that just because for as long as anyone can find that the Earth had a gravitational of 9.80665 m/(s**2) that tomorrow it will not be something else.

    Since it cannot be proven to be false for all instances, it cannot be more than a theory. It is a fact based upon the definition of the word fact.

    Ignorance is the enemy, truth is the answer.
    Well, before you spout off what a fact is, please look up the definition (#4) [dictionary.com].

  • Well teletubbies ARE evil... Along with Barney, I bet they are the two biggest brain-cell-killers currently on TV. ;-)
  • God said it, and I see no reason to not believe it.
    But God didn't say it. Someone wrote it down in the book, but as to where they got that idea I don't know. Ancient Hebrew myth, I suppose.
  • It's simply impossible to disprove Creationism because it goes along with the idea that God is omniscient. Carbon dating proves that the universe is much more than several thousand years old, as does the fact that we can see the light from objects billions of light years out, but all this evidence can be dismissed by someone who believes in an omniscient God. I've heard the argument that the reason we can see light from more than a few thousand light years away is that God created the light in transit. There is simply no way to disprove such things, so you must apply Occam's(sp?) Razor. It's much simpler to conclude that we can use carbon dating to show that things are millions of years old and we can see light from billions of light years away because the Universe is actually that old, rather than that is was created by some omniscient being with the objective of tricking us into believing it is that old.

    I am dreaming the entire Universe. None of it is real. Prove to me that isn't true. There's no way you can. It's the same thing, but IMO far more likely than Creationism.

    Besides which, Creationism explains nothing at all. If God created the Universe and life, where did God come from?
  • For an interesting rebuttal to some of underpinnings of Gould's work, you may wish to read Daniel C. Dennett's _Darwin's Dangerous Idea_...
  • Just my observation about wallabies. Your prove is kind of weak.
    IFAIK you can develop resistance to some poisons and still be inter-fertile with the rest of the population.
    'Apparently they are also no longer inter-fertile with the Australian species'. 'Apparently' is not a scientific term either.

    Question is more like this: homo sapiens has 46 pairs of chromosoms, our believed closest relatives chimpanzees have 48: http://www.amnh.org/enews/headl/e1_h6.html
    98% percent of genes are the same. But...

    Could you describe a scenario how these species evolved from a common ancestor from point of view of macro-evolution? ( Not that I am against this relationship )

    Even in case of very slim chance of mutation to livable creature with different number of chromosomes then its parents have, who it is going to mate with. ( AFAIK humans in this case have either Down's or Turner's Syndrome depending on direction of deviation from normal^H^H^H^H^H^H usual number). That means mutation which results in the change of number of chromosomes can not be just random event. Darwin did not explain it. I read the book about 20 years ago though, so I might forget.

    Oh, well, I guess I have an idea. It could be some kind of virus or other kind of infection. Are we all some kind of sick apes or something? :-)
  • I can see including creation as another theory...

    You can? I can't. Theories can be disproven, if observations counter them. Most believers in the Biblical account of creation would not consider their "theory" disproved even if observed evidence contradicted it. They'd sooner discard their observations than their Holy Book. And science doesn't work that way. If the evidence indicates that your hypothesis (or theory) is flawed, you fix the flaws or discard the hypothesis. You don't discard the evidence. That's why Biblical creation should never be taught in science classes.

    Not because it's wrong (who am I to say?)

    But because it's unscientific.
  • I, personally, subscribe to the view that there's some force that could just as well be called God as called anything else.

    It is an irony that the religious fanatics, in their blind faith, are basically insulting their god in this rejection of evolution.

    I particularly like the above comment because that is basically the same way I feel, only I call the "force" Physics.

    -
  • >It is not absurd, it is absurd not to.

    It is not absurd to teach a belief which has put forward no theory to explain what we know of biology? Which has made no correct predictions? It is not absurd to lower the bar to zero?

    I am not wrong about this; I've followed the writings of creationists. I've had dinner with D. Gish. They flattly have no theory, and don't seem to understand what the word means.
  • Okay, while I am not a trained biologist, I thought that the whole Punctuated Equilibrium thing was a pretty good account for why "transition" fossils are rare.

    The rarity of intermediate forms can be interpreted as evidence that evolution tends not to happen gradually and homogenously in large populations over large ranges (which you need for decent odds that any will get laid down as fossils). Convenient? Maybe, but this may just be the way things are.

    It seems reasonable to me that a population filling a particular ecological niche could stay at the same "local maximium" on the fitness landscape for a long time, but then in response to a change in the niche (climate change, new predator, etc) the original population is rapidly replaced with something else that was already occupying the new niche nearby. Instead of a fossil record that reflects gradual evolution of direct lineages, you could get a fossil record that looks more like wholesale replacements of populations by their "cousins", as it were.

    This is very handwavey, and no doubt misses much of the flavour of Punctuated Equilibrium, but I've run out of time - got a bus to catch (really!).

  • I just felt like pointing out that this thinking is exactly the opposite of the scientific method.

    So? While I won't dispute that the scientific method has proven to be very useful in many areas, it's a long way from perfect and it's a long way from useful in every sphere. I've never claimed that the truthfulness of the Bible is or should be subject to verification via the scientific method.

    It's not as if evolutionists haven't done the same thing, either. They have always assumed a materialist view of the world, even though such a model cannot explain consciousness. They claim that ethics can exist independent of at least some god of some sort, but this claim is pure balderdash.

    Evolutionists are no less "guilty" (if one must use such a term) than Christians of holding to a raft of unchallenged presuppositions. As such, they are no less religionists than the most pious Puritan.

  • Wish I could deny it, but alas I can't. Crazy as charged.

    I'm rather shocked at the quantity of responses that imply removing evolution from the state required curriculum is a good move, I had thought slashdotters more rational.

    If we extend this logically to removing all scientific theories, whats left? There are NO scientificly proven facts, just things we've measured to a given tolerance. Oh, we only throw out the ones that happen to disagree with some religous belief? Ah, now I get it!

    Jim



  • It seems to me that these posts seem to fall into one of three categories,
    keeping in mind that ppl that devote most of their time to religion don't
    read slashdot :

    1) People are blowing this way out of proportion. They aren't requiring that
    creationism be taught, they are merely NOT requiring that evolution
    be taught as gospel (pardon the pun)

    2) There is plenty of evidence for evolution, these the people in Kansas
    are depriving their children of a large body of scientific study.

    3) the "right wing" "funies" "religious whackos" are taking over.
    Why is it that the most insane sounding posts on this board are the ones
    demonizing others of being irrational, jerk-knee, and with absolutely no
    grounding in rationality? (and name calling to boot)

    An aside on ./ readers:
    You are looking at, and conversing with, ppl who are generally in technical
    fields. They are more likely to be atheists and agnostics that the avg
    population. Even if they aren't one of those two, (like me) they are bound
    to be more versed in the sciences than the average joe.

    The debate that is going on here /should/ be about how one school system
    managed to seperate itself from church and state (in the current sense) by
    removing a restriction on what it /could/ teach from that which is predominantly
    popular and believed
    ( one of the reasons for outlawing a state sponsored religion )

    Does this open the path that kids in Kansas may be denied the evidence
    for evolution? certainly.

    What we should all hope this means is that _we_ will have more of a say
    in what our children learn, without having to resort to home schooling.
    (I dearly hope I don't have to homeschool my children, but I will if I have to)


    sp-Red

    ps, I only read the first 200 posts, so I don't expect you will have read this one either.
  • ...there's no definitve proof that Darwin was right. After all, his theories on natural selection turned out to be partially incorrect.

    As did Newton's theories of motion. Partially, but not enough to make them useless. We can't just expect our legislators to understand relativity or evolution, though. After all, the only education they ever got was in school. :)
  • Assuming evolution is fact (which, despite arguments to the contrary can only be "proven" by mangling the Scientific Method(and I'm not talking about "Survival of the Fittest" or evolution of very simple orginisims)) why aren't the overwhelming majority of large species hermaphrodites? I'm not a biologist, but it would seem to me that finding mates in order to reproduce would me much easier for such a species. Easier reproduction would lead to faster evolution, which would in turn lead to domination over other species.

    Just as all of an artist's works share some similarities, couldn't this "genetic progression" you refer to be that the species were created by the same intelligence?

    As far as I understand it, the belief that a "big bang" created the universe is similar to shaking a puzzle in it's box, throwing the pieces on the table, and having them all fall perfectly into place. From an mathematical standpoint, this is impossible.

    It seems that it's easier to not even consider the possibility that a far greater intelligence created us. It's much easier to stick with a questionable theory which cannot be proven, and in my view seems highly implausible.

    In order to believe evolution you have to have more faith than I do. You prefer to go out on a limb to explain the universe, rather then consider the possiblity that man is not the most intelligent being in the universe.
  • Historically, right-wing and religious particularly Protestant) fundamentalism have been very close. Look at voting patterns for, say, people from the Bible Belt who consider themselves very religious. Think they're all voting Democrat? I think not.


    You're not from the South, are you? _Historically_, ever since the end of the War Between the States, Southerners have voted Democratic. Hell, there usually weren't even Republicans on the ballots in most places. Lincoln was a Republican, and a Republican-strong North moved in on us, and this caused about a hundred years' worth of resentment down here. Back then, the Republicans were more of a liberal party and the Democrats were more conservative. They've since flip-flopped.


    The South finally began to vote Republican when Nixon was campaigning in the late 60's. The civil rights movement, which was also not all that popular among a goodly number of Southerners (and very popular among others) had some strong ties to the Democrats. Nixon realized that Southern voters were being ignored, and engineered an amazing Republican turnout down here. So your 'history' only seems to go back about thirty years, IMHO.

  • And according to Heisenburg, can we be certain of *anything*?

    Maybe a better reference would be Hodel?

    Heisenberg principle is not about inability to be certain - it is just about some properties of some physical variables describing a system. Quantum mechanics is actually quite deterministic - but not in a "common" sense.
  • I always wonder why people who go on about the lack of transitional forms totally disregard the ambhibians. Aren't they transitional between fish and reptiles?

    Talking about fossils is talking about gross morphology, but we see evidence of family relations everywhere when we look at the DNA.

    Since DNA is passed down from parent to child down through the generations, the DNA resident in any particular organism is itself a record of that organism's ancestral past, particularly when compared to another organism.

    The creationist insistence that evolutionary theory should mean that we find skeletons of half-fish half-water buffalo or the like is just silly. Really stretching it, if you ask me. Grasping at straws.

  • Started from just two people....
    Adam and Eve.... Who were tragically stranded
    on this planet when their inter-stellar drive
    ceased functioning.

    It took them 2 years to slowly motor their way into our system (the closest at the time) and find
    that this planet was habitable (mostly).

    The rest is history. Poorly documented of course...
    but I'm sure it would be wonderful if someone
    found their flight recorder... ya know?



  • by Chang (2714)
    This is definitely progress.
  • this goes to show what happens when the human species doesn't evolve.

    next they'll ban lunch at school because 2 people choked once.
  • if one doesn't believe in evolution, does one believe in mutation?
  • So? While I won't dispute that the scientific method has proven to be very useful in many areas, it's a long way from perfect and it's a long way from useful in every sphere. I've never claimed that the truthfulness of the Bible is or should be subject to verification via the scientific method.

    Okay, one question then. Can you name me something OTHER than religion that isn't subject to verification or corroboration by the scientific method?

    It's not as if evolutionists haven't done the same thing, either. They have always assumed a materialist view of the world, even though such a model cannot explain consciousness.

    "Evolutionists" (in itself a title which tries to stress the "multiple opinion" viewpoint. Do we really refer to anyone as "geocentrists" anymore?)

    Evolutionists != materialists.

    Evolutionists are no less "guilty" (if one must use such a term) than Christians of holding to a raft of unchallenged presuppositions. As such, they are no less religionists than the most pious Puritan.

    I'm sorry, its a wonderful accusation, but you haven't supplied me with even one example of "evolutionists" doing this sort of thing. Evolution is HARDLY an unchallenged presupposition, this whole article is ABOUT a challenge to it. Now if you mean scientific challenge to it, feel free to think one up.

    This all strikes me as the tired old "it takes more faith to believe in evolution..." thing, attractively packaged. It takes NO faith to accept evolution as fact, because we have been around for many changes ourselves. How did HIV evolve into a human-inhabitable virus? If you claim that it didn't, then you admit that genetically humans and apes are extremely similar.

    The question really is: Is it fair, in a science class, to refrain from teaching SCIENCE because it offends religionists?

    Would any of you support rules to force sunday school teachers and ministers to mention that creationism is just a theory, and that there are many others which may be true?
  • by returning to the 11th....

    As long as people refuse to at least consider the scientific evidence of the world about them rather than stubbornly cling to outdated and misguided dogma, the human race will continue to fight progress every step of the way.

    Doug
  • Whenever I was taught about evolution in my Biology class, it was always presented as a theory and explained and such. The only people that have ever tried to instill in me that it's fact were Christians trying to disprove the point. It's neigh the 21st century, and people still cannot look up the term "theory". I can't see how in a country of separation of church and state, a school board can make a rule declaring a non-religious explaination for the existance of life on the planet is a myth. I believe in evolution, I can see it everywhere, whether there is an all powerful god, I dont believe in it although it's probable. The problem with evolution is that it doesn't contradict God but it contradicts the Bible, one of the most entertaining pieces of literature I've ever read. What I see happening here is religion butting in where it doesn't belong, again. Children should be taught evolution as a means to explain the biology they are studying, whether they want Creationist beliefs or evolutionists beliefs is up to them, it matters little to me. It's basically the same argument as having prayer in school, if you're going to say evolution is a myth you also have to say Adam and Eve are also myths, along with Mohommad, Jesus and pals, ad infinitum. Evolution is the only way to explain biology without sounding like a complete idiot, let people decide on their own what they want to believe.
  • When teaching evolution in school is outlawed, only outlaws will evolve.

    And that's all I've got to say about that.....

  • As the author of the original post on this thread, I just want to leap in with acouple of quick points. Materialism has a strict philosophical meaning, which I rather unfortunately implied I was using because I used the word in conjunction with other technical philosophical terms. I did not mean materialism in the technical sense. I meant it in the more common sense of "a preoccupation with or stress upon material rather than intellectual or spiritual things" (quote from the Websters on-line dictionary.

    As for the post I am directly responding to, just as I used "materialism" is a lax way, you have used "exist" in a lax way. That we can in no way empirically measure divine intervention; that we cannot detect or quantify "soul" or "conciousness" does mean that they necessarily do not exist, nor that they are either "natural" or "unnatural."

    The thrust of my argument is that every intelligent person whom I know who has communicated to me a belief in God has no empirical evidence to offer and yet they possess certainty on the point. They know the belief is not scientific, but they believe anyway. They do not do this because they are mentally defective, but because they are willing to accept a type personally experienced evidence that is non-empirical. No scientist should ever be persuaded that such evidence is good science, but that does not make it unreal or untrue. (Note that it may be, I'm not saying one way or another, but science draws a very specific set of rules for what is within the domain of science and what is without it. Internal unmeasurable awareness of deity is definitely outside of science and yet not irreconcilable with it. The two can co-exist in separate philosophical domains.)
  • Several people have downplayed the significance of the Kansas Board of "Education" dropping the mandate for teaching evolutionary biology.

    Let's try mapping that same logic to other areas, shall we.

    TOPEKA, KANSAS The Kansas Board of Education has decided to drop the mandate for teaching the Bill of Rights in public schools. Districts are still free to teach basic Constitutional rights to students, but they are not required to do so if the local population finds them disagreeable. (Goodbye Second Amendment! Goodbye Free Exercise of "Weird" Religions! Goodbye Freedom of the Student Press!)

    Or how about

    TOPEKA, KANSAS. The Kansas Board of Education has decided to make references to the Theory of Relativity optional in all high school physics classes. Said the chairman, "If God wants to go a zillion miles per second, God can go a zillion miles per second. Who is this Einstein fellow to say that God *can't* do something?!"

    Or finally

    AUSTIN, TEXAS. The Texas Board of Education removed mandates that "home economics" classes cover vegetarian and "poor-man's beef" (fish, chicken, and pork) meals. The chairman explained that Texas is Cattle Country and there's nothing wrong with a juicy steak for breakfast, lunch *and* dinner!

    The bottom line is that a biology class without evolutionary theory isn't a biology class in the view of 99% of all college biology departments. This means that the board of education is negligent in its duty to prepare its students for their adult roles and it deserves all of the condemnation it is getting.
  • There are numerous examples of evolution within species within the short span of time (hundred years or so) that its been watched for. Going back further using DNA sequencing can show a genetic progression among species going back tens and hundreds of centuries.

    Anyone who denies the evidence exists is ignorant of the truth. Amazingly, I saw a science teacher on TV that supported the decision stating that there is no proof that evolution is a more valid theory than creationism. My guess is she was trying to seem more openminded than she was, and was probably a science teacher by assignment rather than training.

    The simplest example of biological evolution is the progression in diseases like tuberculosis to strains that are antibiotic resistant.

    The major valid criticism of evolution from a scientific standpoint stems from two problems. First is the fact that the majority of people who are taught evolution in highschool and many colleges are being taught evolution as it was understood half a century ago when there wasn't good scientific proof of evolution, and it was generally taught that evolution was a continuous smooth process from one species to another. Those earlier techings typically didn't cover the idea of the branching of species (more in this in a bit) and also don't discuss the problem that has plagued evolutionary theory since it began -- the tendancy towards over-speciation, or the naming of new species based on physical traits that are assumed to be important, but genetically are of no significance. Taught the way its typically taught, there are pleanty of holes in evolutionary theory, but the fault of that lies in the instructors and the writers of the textbooks being used.

    A prime example of the problem with evolution typically leaving out the idea of branching species is in the realm of human evolution, where the public at large has been taught the textbook "ape to man" which doesn't match current findings or genetic research. Its now known that homo sapiens did not descend from Neandertal as is often taught. Its also generally accepted that the homo genus left africa on several occasions, only the most recent consisting of the direct predecessors of homo sapiens, a sub-species (our sub-species) that co-existed for millenia with species in our genus other than our own. That's been known and understood for twenty years, but the former explanation is still the one taught in schools.

    The variation in races is just like the variation in looks among domesticated cats and dogs. Once environmental pressures relax and a species becomes "domesticated" where it is either controlling its environment or living in an environment where it doesn't directly experience evolutionary pressure, there is greater ability for the variation in the genetics of the species to express itself. Just as domesticating the dog resulted in one species that comes in many shapes, colors and sizes, the same is true of the self-domesticated homo sapiens. (Here's a bit of trivia, anyone know the other species that has been believed to have self-domesticated? There's one and its extinct now...)

    Also consider that there are in fact *two* non-domesticated canine variants, the wolf and the dingo. The wolf is generally accepted to be the original genetic stock of the modern dog, which was domesticated and produced the wide varieties of breeds today. When a domesticated breed was introduced into Australia (where there were no examples of the original species) they reverted from their domestication, and resulted in a new physical form of a wild dog... that's why wolves generally all look alike, and dingos all generally look alike, but you go to the pet store and they all look different.

    Too bad no one in Kansas will ever know that.
  • I leapt in on an earlier response to try to clarify my original position, and I'd like to do so here as well. When I said we are no better off now than in the sixteenth and seventeenth century I was not referring to quality of life or material wealth. Clearly we are healthier, wealthier, better informed, more comfortable, and more powerful than in any previous epoch. No, what I was referring to specifically was the proportion of the population in possession of a deep understanding of and appreciation for the methods of science. Everybody thinks they know science because they learned about DNA and di-hybrid crosses, they tittrated (sp?) in chemistry, and they use nifty electronic gadgets all over the place. They confuse the knowledge or the technology with science. Science is the process, not the information. The process, not the technologies. My statement was meant to refer ONLY to the fact that percentage of people who know and fully appreciate the implications of scientific methods is not much higher today than in the years of science's infancy.

    For the second point of clarification, note that I specifically said that science and religion cannot co-exist in the classroom or the laboratory. I kept it in that narrow domain because I'm specifically trying to argue that the kind of evidence posessed by those who have had religious experience is rarely (if ever) the kind of evidence that science is allowed by the rules that define what science is to use.

    I am also trying to argue that a fundamentalist Christian is fully capable of performing perfectly good science, as long as he keeps his types of evidence properly compartmentalized.

    Any epistemological system can become dogma, even science. Consider Wegener (sp?) and the reaction of geologists to his continental drift theory -- sometimes the entrenched science becomes dogma and requires overwhelming evidence to make the process work again. This is not because the scientific method is deficient, but rather because (as I am trying to point out) science is not the normal way people adopt "The Truth." Our world view is the union of our prejudices, even when those prejudices are rationally derived. No human being happily and easily surrenders a belief. I would imagine that practicing researchers must often struggle with this.
  • Oooh! Oooh! One more. Of course I knew full well that acceleration due to gravity falls off as you move the masses apart. I do know my Newton. Here what I was getting at is that if, suddenly one day the acceleration due to gravity at sea level were to change without a change in mass or a change in distance, we would have to re-evaluate what we have taken for centuries to be an immutable "Law of Nature." I was pointing out that scientific "facts" are always implicitly followed by "As Far As We Know (tm)."
  • I appreciate your compliment, but I must say that I disagree with you that people tend to believe what is true. My experience has been that people want to go on believing what they presently believe, no matter what that is. Furthermore, this is true of everybody: scientists, engineers, priests, parishoners, and the honey wagon driver. This means that whole human race has a blind spot for new ideas that fundmentally reposition world views. All belief systems resist new beliefs, including science. This is, I think, part of the human psychological makeup. We like constancy, even though life tells us again and again that the universe is inconstant.

    I personally consider the scientific evidence for species differentiation by natural selection overwhelming. The lack of a complete theory of genetic drift tells us that we have much more to learn, but does not tell us that Wallace and Darwin's theory is fatally flawed. You must find evidence that contradicts the theory, not that shows it be incomplete. The theory explains all the presently known facts.

    Now, I do think that it is a theory, a sound one, but a theory. I think the missing elements can be pointed out in science class, but I do not for a minute believe that there is any reason to remove teaching it as a requirement of the biology syllabus. It is one of the most important theories in modern biology and I think it is ridiculous to remove it to please a religious sensibility.

    I think that creationism can be taught in public schools, but not as science. I think evolution can be taught in public schools, but not in math or gym.

    As for your point about constructing scientific experiments to find what you expect to find, I would ask you to suggest to me what kind of experiemnt to run with absolutely no preconceptions about what will be found? It is impossible to look at the world without preconception. I think it is unreasonable to expect a telescope to give you useful data on the human genome. You must have some preconception. You must, however, try to keep yourself aware of how your observation affects the observed. As I said in my original post, science is really actually hard!

  • Godel did not prove anything of the sort. All facts of mathematics are just as true and just as valid as they were before Godel published his incompleteness theory. What Godel said was that not all true facts are provable.

    Very well said. This is what I meant (that any symbolic system must contain unprovable assertions). My sloppy sentence was merely meant to call attention to this point. Thanks for stating it more precisely.

    Wolfgang! Of course! (You know whay I didn't put his first name in? Because "Linus" as in "Linus Pauling" was the name my brain kept coming up with. I knew that wasn't right so I didn't want to embarass myself! ;-)

    Thanks again for a good clarification.
  • by Eccles (932)
    >2 - The bones are fake. They never existed. god simply put them there when the world was created.
    >(why? to mess with us?)

    It would be interesting, then, to see the religious reaction to a Jurrasic Park-style experiment.
  • Now that we have modern precedent to get rid of controversial topics from the educational cirriculum, let's start taking care of business:

    First up, Huckleberry Finn. "Nigger Jim"? While (*cough*cough*) "revised" (*cough*) versions of this classic piece of American literature exist (without any indication of their having been edited, mind you) I say just get rid of it all together.

    The US Constitution? No way. Far too many controversial rights in those amendments. And Do we want to encourage kids to acquire firearms? Columbine anyone? Good God no. Nix it.

    Next up, the (US) founding fathers. Washington? Jefferson? Hamilton? These men owned SLAVES for crying out loud! Praising these men sanctions their slave owning. Into the dustbin with them.

    Christopher Columbus? Butcherer and enslaver of Native American peoples. Didn't discover crap. Banish the "holiday" too and rename it to "Native American People's day". Bye bye to this bastard!

    Sir Issac Newton? Nasty, nasty man. Had people outright ruined if not killed to protect his own intrests (Leibniz anyone?). Also practised alchemy and tried to transmute base metals into gold (== withcery == devil worship). Forget teaching about this loon.

    And of course all wars must be purged from the textbooks. We don't want to emotionally traumitize kids by teaching just how horrible war really is. Or to, in any way, imply that it's ok to resort to violence over such trivial issues as taxation, persoanl freedoms, and local soverignty.

    Physics? This is outright DANGEROUS knowledge. Einstien and his ilk helped develop this tech into NUCLEAR WEAPONS that killed hundreds of thousands of Japanese in horrible ways (effects still exist to this day). No. This knowledge should be locked away to all but a priveleged few who passed many and continue to pass regular background checks and psylogical profiles. High school kids, college kids, and regelar people have NO NEED TO KNOW about stuff like this. Same for most of chemistry (which can us used to MAKE BOMBS and EXPLOSIVES)

    Ebonics? Chicano Lingo? These language dialects are as valid an any other. Treating it as "uneducated speak" is racially offensive. These should be embraced.

    Alan Turing? He was a HOMOSEXUAL! Thus his contributions to CS are tainted with controversey and are therfore not worth sudying.

    And Thomas Edison? He was a shameless self promoter and rabid capitalist (== materialistic PIG). He used monopolistic practices to try and crush Nikola Tesla (another example of Croations being historically discriminated against). Edison is best forgotten.

    There. That ought to sanitize the school cirriculum a bit. With these changes kids will FEEL BETTER in school. (We've already got rid of A,B,C,D,F grading most everywhere). And isn't that what education is all about? Making sure that every child FEELS as good about him or herself and FEELS as good and as smart as everyone else and FEELS no need to improve or strive for anything? We are all equals after all.

    --
    Stop the planet, I want off.

  • HuH? You have a reference for this?

    1) It's not a 'law'. It's part of the recommended curriculum by the state school board.

    2) It does not talk about 'not preventing' anyone from doing anything. It simply removes evolution from being a state tested subject.

    3) For someone talking about fair play, you sure do get insulting pretty fast, don't you?

    Please...

    jf
  • by jdawson (29615) on Wednesday August 11, 1999 @03:06PM (#1750502) Homepage

    Please distinguish between these two phenomena:

    • Natural selection
    • Evolution

    Natural selection could still be considered "theory." There are several variations on the theme. There is not, as yet, a single theory of natural selection that has achieved massive concensus. This is a topic of much ongoing research.

    Evolution, on the other hand, could only be labeled "fact." There is a large body of fossil records that have been studied, and indicate clearly that the Earth is billions of years old and that new species have come and gone over this time. (If you disagree with this, then I'm afraid we'll have to agree to disagree, and this discussion is over.) The next thing is to consider that all known forms of life come from previous life forms. For example, you came from your parents; you didn't just appear one day. This has been observed time and again, and indeed is common sense. There are no observed exceptions to this rule. If you accept both of these premises, then the conclusion is that evolution occurs: new species appear over time, and they descended from previous ones. If one witholds the label of "fact" from evolution, then nearly no observed phenomenon would qualify.

    Natural selection theories are one way of explaining the observed fact of evolution. There is much to recommend them, but they are not so well established that no dissenting opinions is possible. As has been mentioned, natural selection is somewhat difficult to observe in action.

    Another theory of explaining how evolution occurs would be divine intervention. It's not a theory I favor, because of the scarcity of any physical evidence to back it up. But many hold it to be true.

    In any case, please be more precise when discussing evolution and natural selection. There are few that would truly dispute evolution, except when they mistakenly confuse it with natural selection.

    John Dawson

  • by slew (2918) on Wednesday August 11, 1999 @03:07PM (#1750506)
    I can imagine in a very distant future world (10,000 years), that there will be a great debate
    about the origins of Linux. What will be taught in computer science history classes? Did Linux
    evolve from Unix or was it created?

    The creationist will point to crufty old documents that prove that Linus created Linux for his own
    PC in his spare time. The evolutionists will point out that this is highly unlikly and point to
    the similarities between Unix and Linux and postulate a missing-link/release that will prove
    their point, but not find one.

    Look how BSD and S5R4 have a clear evolutionary tree from Unix, they will cry. Why should be
    believe Linux didn't do the same, they will question. Why believe in creation when evolution
    is much more plausible.

    The creationist will stand firm, these FAQ documents tell all the fact. No-one should question them.

    Strange how these arguments can always be used in the same way. You may laugh about it now,
    but this is exactly how all these kind of debates get started...

    btw, I believe in evolution ;-)
  • by John Fulmer (5840) on Wednesday August 11, 1999 @03:09PM (#1750519)


    I live in Kansas, about 30 miles from the capitol, where all this happened.

    I live in Lawrence, Kansas, which is about as liberal as you can get in the Midwest.

    I was also raised on a farm, in the 'boonies'.

    I am not a Repubican (nor a Democrat, for that matter). I believe that the 'Religious Right' is wrong most of the time. I am not currenly affiliated with any religious group.



    It appears that once again, 'crap' journalism has arisen to take a pretty tame fact and blow it WAAAAAAAYYY out of proportion.

    Here's the deal: In the passed proposal, it does not ban, decry, condemn, or pass any type of judgement on evolution. It simply does not make it a subject that the state school board recommends that students *have* to be tested on. That's it. Nothing more. Here's [ljworld.com] more information, a few paragraphs down.

    Are there religious undertones for this vote? Sure! Are there private agendas here? Sure, on both sides of the fence. But this is NOT a ban on evolution or a proposal of creationism teachings. It simply does not require evolution to be a state assessment test subject. Schools are NOT required to follow this and may teach the subject any way they wish.

    What really offends me, are the several articles I found (MSNBC, CNN, etc) that basically mention the vote, and then spend the rest of the article talking about other states efforts to pass creationist laws. They mostly ignore the nature of the proposal and immediatly start yelling about the "Scopes Monkey Trial" and separation of church and state. I find it interesting that they mostly interview scientific "experts", who talk about evolution as a fact-theory, and then real 'christian' cretins who are about as reasonable as Fred Phelps [xmission.com]. What about just plain old normal people who don't have any axes to grind? This is really CRAP journalism.

    I'm a Kansan, and for the most part, this decision doesn't really hold much interest for me, one way or the other. I'm home schooling my daughter, and this doesn't really affect me. (And yes, when she is old enough she will learn about the "Theory of Evolution", but not about the "Fact of Evolution").

    Check your facts before you start make REALLY offensive remarks, okay?


    jf

  • This -- even in its non-hyped up reality -- really turns my stomach. The fact that they could choose to remove evolution even from the recommended standardized testing or other requirements for teaching on account of the fact that the extremist Christian factions in the state have turned their attention from the evils of the Internet and the teletubbies to the easily demonstrable proofs that their fundamentalist teachings are plain wrong.

    This is a really dangerous change to make in the schools curriculums. The intelligent students who are able to critically evaluate what they're being taught won't be affected. Most students aren't stupid enough to deny the validity of the scientific process -- even if they question the results. The real risk is to the bottom-of-the-rung students who are being raised by their television by parents who are poorly educated to say the least. These are the students who are going to grow up as equally ignorant and just continue repeating the process.

    There are few enough parents doing a decent job raising their kids today, without the states stepping in to make the process of turning out mindless masses who's only care is where they're going to get their next beer and who's on the next WWF that much easier.

    Maybe its time for the federal government to pass laws requiring a minimum standard education, since aparently some states seem to think its enough to just chuck the kids into a building for six or seven hours so their parents can work.
  • I suck at html guys. On my other post in this thread, I forgot my

    tags, and unfotunately now it's just a mass of text that nobody will read. Perhaps I should repost it formatted correctly.

    And now, judging from the replies to this post, I guess I should have used the tag, because people evedently need to see that. Come to think of it, I probably would have needed to forgoe the tag completely and used SARCASM instead ;-)

    BTW, I was not trying to be a troll. I was trying to make people laugh! Oh well.

    I need to work on my HTML I guess.

  • This sort of thing has long been observed in a-life experiments. Ever heard of Danny Hillis's 'ramps'? What happens is this- populations will appear to stagnate in extended plateaus of development. A great deal of change is going on at lower levels, but none of it 'sticks'. For instance, obGiraffeNeck, this is not one gene but an entire complex involving neck length, bone structure, a stronger heart, the amazing system of valves that keep the animal from immediately fainting when rapidly moving its head from high to low positions or vice versa... and all of this was churning around in the genetic populations, until some of the animals lucked out with all the right features to be effective giraffes- not as _extremely_ developed as current giraffes, but with all the primary characteristics. At this point the new giraffes basically outcompeted all the previous ones in that niche, and the seemingly new species was off and running (on long spindly legs, but not as long as the future giraffes would have).
    The genes are present in populations, but only when they come together in the right populations does the world change. It's not an abrupt jump or rapid evolving, it's the coming together of lots of little evolvings and mutations into a cohesive whole that's abruptly more effective than the previous populations.
    I, personally, subscribe to the view that there's some force that could just as well be called God as called anything else. I can't say as I understand it all that well- I doubt I ever will. However, my image of it, applied to the 'punctuated equilibrium' evolution, is of a Gardener God, caring for growing things, perhaps helping them along, understanding them deeply and trying to create beauty despite infestations of aphids ;)
    It's extremely tiresome to be confronted with people who insist on a Puppetmaster God- effectively a much cruder sort of God who never works with anything, but only lays down orders and makes or breaks stuff and won't admit to the slightest interplay with His creations. Artists and creators who are any good are willing to sense what a creation is trying to become, like a sculptor trying to feel what shapes a rock wants to have- in many ways, the harmony of this is a lot more beautiful than just picking a big rock and laser-carving it into a prearranged shape with no interplay at all.
    In effect, this total rejection of evolution is the insistence on a total Luser God- and I reject it, preferring the idea of a Gardener God or Michaelangelo God that is creatively interested in all the raw materials, in which every sparrow that falls isn't some meaningless decree but a thing observed, accepted, perhaps even worked into the continuing act of creation.
    Having now professed to a belief in God, I will cheerfully allow myself to be mocked by a bunch of clever unbeliever Slashdotter kids ;) but not, I think, by all Slashdotters, because there are all sorts out there, and I think some of them will appreciate what I'm trying to convey.
  • (BA-DUMP BUMP!)
  • Look at it a little more closely. Nowhere is it implied that Creationism will be taught explicitly, nor does it state that science will be abolished completely.

    True. What the people that really passed this would like to do is ban evolution and instate mandatory creationism. They are not for a completely open, unitarian several religion approach. But they know that mandatory creation in schools isn't going to happen so they passed this instead.

    Simply put, people want to keep their religious beliefs strong because it's what gives them meaning in life. I'm a Christian, and sometimes I just can't see how many others can go on living.

    I find that very sad indeed. Basically you are saying that if someone managed to convince you beyond any doubt that we share common ancestry with other primates on this planet (and I have the feeling that would take a lot of convincing) that life would lose all meaning, because we as humans would not be quite so Special anymore.

    Consider this: There are middle grounds between Atheistic evolution and young earth creationism. Many people, for instance, believe that evolution did take place the way the fossil record shows, but was guided by an omnipresence (god if you like) rather than cold probabilities. If this were the case, would life still be devoid of meaning?

    IMO, mandatory evolution curriculum (and in the school format, in order not to fail many science classes, one must acknowledge it as perfect truth) is quite detrimental to religious freedom.

    This is like saying hundreds of years ago that the earth-orbits-the-sun theory is detrimental to religious freedom. Many religions simply did not want to accept that we are not smack dab in the middle. The difference is that it has been proven beyond even the faintest shadow of a doubt that the earth does indeed orbit the sun. It has only been proven beyond a shred of doubt that species on this planet have, in fact, evolved and diverged.

    To change the topic a little, what exactly makes the evolution theory any more valid than any other?

    Evolution is a theory that has been written and tested with the scientific method using evidence, experiments in petri dishes, observations of different populations, and a huge supply of buried fossils.

    Every other explaination of the origins of humanity that I can think of is a story, passed down from generation to generation.

    1. An intelligent Being created the universe and set it into motion with order and design, and created beings with free will--man. But man disobeyed, and imperfection bred imperfection, setting the 2nd law of thermodynamics into effect...

    Thermodynamics??????? Huh? Thermodynamics is a physics term, and I don't think it can be applied to 'imperfections' in somebody's character.

    2. Chaos became order, and shortly after everything materialized, the laws of the universe shifted radically--instead of things gradually becoming more orderly, they became subjected to entropy. Except for living beings, which, for some reason, defied this by evolving into better-adjusted beings.

    Simple: You are implying that evolution is proposterous in the same way that it would be proposerous to leave a pile of dirt on the table and watch it turn into an apple (instead of the other way around). There is an apparent paradox in that the environment on earth has gotten much more complex with all these forms of life instead of more simple. Well, this only applies to closed systems. The earth is not a closed system - it has the nearby sun constantly adding energy to it. If you look at the whole galaxy as a closed system, it would work, because the burning in a star is an increase in entropy and the earth represents a small section of the system with decreasing entropy.

    No, I'm not in favor of shoving ANY system of beliefs down anyone's throat. It's just not the way a theory begins to take root into someone's mind to convince them. I think the curriculum should lay out several different worldviews (I'm not talking a course in theology--just a few simple examples).

    Evolution is not about beliefs - it is about reasoning and deduction.

  • Ahh, so God did all the stuff the Bible describes, but then planted evidence to try to trick us into thinking otherwise?

    It seems Occam's Razor would apply here.
  • You don't shoot tanks with handguns and hunting rifles -- but that doesn't mean they don't exert a restraining force on government. Government leaders and military leaders' families and friends live throughout the countryside.

    I'm sure that the leaders of China would have thought much longer and harder before bringing in the army and tanks against their own protesting citizens if guns were distributed throughout the civilian population of China. And, no, it wouldn't be because they were worried about the soldiers and tanks getting shot. ;)
  • Right-wing has nothing to do with anything. Fundamentalist Christian ethics (if the terms can be used together non-oxymoronically) have little or nothing to do with conservatism or the "Right Wing".

    Please... you're serious? Historically, right-wing and religious (particularly Protestant) fundamentalism have been very close. Look at voting patterns for, say, people from the Bible Belt who consider themselves very religious. Think they're all voting Democrat? I think not. If I remember correctly, the Christian Coalition - basically fundamental Protestantism incorporated - had troubles with its charitable-organisation status because it was distributing "voting guides" that essentially said "vote Republican". Not in those words - instead it gave a list of issues, and gee whiz! guess which party was campaigning on those issues?

    Also, while conservatism maybe literally mean "preserving the status quo", words change meaning. In today's world, it is the name for right-wing political beliefs, which often mean changing things. In some cases the status quo is preserved (watching kids shoot each other and saying "What? Safety locks on guns? That's horrible! Read the Consitution! It'll be the end of our nation!") and in others it is not (you mean conservatives have been known to advocate cutting taxes? You must be joking!).

    I could also start rebut your comments about what you do with your money, but it's a debate that has happenned oh-so-many times before. You are of course exxagerating things - I particularly like the bit about the starving wood owls, consdering America's environmental record - but again, I won't argue it. You are right wing, I (and the original poster) am not. But to deny that a severe case of Protestantism is linked with right-wing politics is closing your eyes to the obvious - kind of like not teaching evolution in schools.

  • All name used in my posts are current or former coworkers. Papshigali is not the Rajeev's (a DBA) real last name, but I never could pronounce or spell his last name, Papshigali seems like a reasonable mutilation.
    --Shoeboy
  • by evilpenguin (18720) on Wednesday August 11, 1999 @04:41PM (#1750728)
    As usual, I swoop in and go waaaayyyy off topic (why stop now?). To me this little debacle (which is being blown out of all proportion because vague stories in the press are substantially inflating the scope and impact of this decision) illustrates a fact about life in the whole of these United States (and by no means just in Kansas).

    That fact is that, despite widespread belief that we live in the "scientific age," we actually are little better off than we were in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries when the formal techniques of modern science began to, if you will forgive the expression, evolve. Back then, a handful of very scholarly men began to apply the rigors of Aristotle's logic to direct observation of the physical world (with the first result being the complete desruction of Aristotle's own ideas about natural systems!). These handfuls of men began to develop rigorous methods for forming hypotheses, constructing experiments, carrying them out, collecting data, and analyzing results. They also made a clear distinction between hypothesis, theory, and fact. The only facts in science are logic and mathematics (and even these are only marginally facts as Godel proved centuries later) and that the data gathered in an experiment were the data gathered in the experiment. Take Galileo's little experiments rolling balls of differing weights down slopes of differing angles and measuring the time it takes the ball to go from one end of the slope to the other. He made literally thousands of observations and derived the first universal "law" in the history of science: All objects accelerate towards the earth at 32 feet per second per second. Even this, which gets labelled "Galileo's Law" is not a "fact." Tomorrow we might observe that things accelerate towards the earth at 29 feet per second per second (it would make a lot of us who are a bit tubby like me rather happy). That we know of no possible cause for such a thing and that we know it has never happened between Galileo's time and ours doesn't mean that it won't happen tomorrow. All scientific "facts" are provisional. Scientists must be prepared to re-examine and possibly refine or reject theories when new evidence is found contrary to theory.

    Science is a form philosophy that is characterized by logic, experiment, observation, empiricism, skepticism, and materialism. Science and religion cannot co-exist in a classroom or a laboratory because religion (Judeo-Christian anyways, I'm certainly not an expert in world religions) has spiritualism in its philosophic base. Religion requires one to believe in non-empirical knowledge and science requires one to refuse any non-empirical evidence. Note that this does not mean that person cannot believe in both religion and science. If a religious person merely accepts that his knowledge of, say, Christ's death and Resurrection is non-empirical (but no less true) and therefore non-scientific and accepts that evolution by natual selection is empirical and therefore non-spiritual they can co-exist. This isn't mere semantic argybargy. I think that it is perfectly okay for a profoundly religious person to practice science through the very real fact (there's that word again!) that science inhernetly excludes from consideration an entire source of evidence, an entire way of experiencing the world called "Faith" or "spirit." That means, from this point of view that Science has a blind spot. A person can regard science as the more limited view and view it as a tool for getting behind the nature of life, while keeping their faith at the fore for exploring the meaning of life. If you ask any person of deep faith, I suspect you will find that they consider their non-measurable experience of faith to be more compelling and "real" (whatever that may mean) than any measurable empirical experience they have had. Who are you or I to say they are "wrong?"

    Now, this is a problem for the handful of people today versed in the sciences. Most of us are very unscientific and know precious little about science. Even NPR's "Talk of the Nation Science Friday" program continually mistakes technology for science and they could not be more different.

    The vast majority of people on the plane with you the next time you fly will have no idea whatsoever what makes the plane fly. Most people do not know how a battery works. Most do not know a proton from a neutron. More to the point, most do not know why science regards things as true. The evidence for evolution is every bit as strong as that for Galileo's Law, and yet many perfectly sensible people reject it utterly. That's because most of us (even scientists) are creatures of habit and predjudice. The reason we are not all scientists is that science is hard and demanding and completely foreign to the way humans make descisions about what is true and false. We use technology and we think "Boy, the wonders of science," but very few of us has even an inkling about the fact that electronics (a technology) required discovering quantum meachnics to come into being. Most people know who John F. Kennedy was, but very few know who Max Planck, Paul Dirac, Enrico Fermi, and Pauli (forgot first name; see?) were.

    We accept the products of science in the form of technology in much the same way we accept the eucharist, as a blessings from the priests of science, but with much less appreciation for the mystery. We do not live in a scientific age, but in an age of scientists. An age where the power of the knowledge discovered by science is valued by all, but the value of the knowledge itself and more importantly, how it was obtained is as mysterious as holy communion.

    Seen in this light, very few of us should feel as free as we do to make fun of the "hicks" from Kansas. Believe me that average intelligence is Kansas is not significantly different from that in any other state in the union. Ignorance is bliss and America is a very happy country. All of it, not just Kansas.

    A hick nerd from Minnesota...
  • Speaking as a Mississippian liberal, I have to correct one thing. In the South Democrat does not necessarily equal liberal. You will quite often see both parties supporting school prayer, right-to-life, less gun control, etc. Sometimes I honestly can't tell the difference. But conservative Southern Democrats are known as "Boll Weevils", or at least they used to be--don't know about now. So what you said is basically correct if you replace any party lines with conservative-liberal lines.
  • Do you believe that if you stand on one side of your living room and take tiny steps, you will eventually end up on the other side? That established, do you believe that if you stand at the outskirts of Los Angeles and head east using those same tiny steps, you will eventually end up in New York, even if it takes you millions (if not billions) of steps?

    "Microevolution" and "macroevolution" are really non-existent concepts. They both refer to the effects of the same processes .. the only difference is the amount of time they are given in which to act.
  • This is an utter falsehood. The entire "theory" of evolution is based on evidentialist findings and cannot be proven solely by deductive or logical methods.

    An utter falsehood? All right, then how about this: If you state that such changes "do not happen", you are lying through the skin of your teeth. Of course the theory of "evolution" [sic] is based on evidence. Theories generally are. What is this "proof" you speak of? Natural sciences are not in the business of "proving" anything. If it's proof that you want, turn to mathematics, or perhaps the legal profession. Proof is a meaningless concept with regards to natural science. If I throw a ball up into the air, a scientist is not going to say "I shall prove that this ball will come back down." He or she will say "Based on theories and observations, I predict that this ball will come back down."

    Hey! There's that word again .. predict, and we've come full-circle; creationism is not a scientific theory by any stretch of the imagination because it fails to predict anything.

    The remark of cje is typical of the naturalist objection to creationism.

    I don't object to creationism. As far as I'm concerned, it is nobody's business what you believe. If you want to believe that the Earth was formed by a gigantic space ogre named "Phil" who carries around a sack of rocks and dirt, then by all means, do. What I object to is the methods of the vociferous proponents who have an agenda to get a clearly religious myth taught in America's public schools. With that in mind, I will call "creation scientists" liars without hesitation (I note that you did not contest this portrayal.) And I will point out the inconsistencies in the stories that they want to force on my children. Which brings us to the next point ..

    There are common beliefs held among all of those who believe in creationism, and because cje has not bothered to do his homework and discover those beliefs, his arguments and challenges appear weak at best.

    Oh, come on. Creationists do not agree on when the Earth and the universe were created. They do not agree on how long it took to create them. They don't agree on whether or not the original inhabitants of Earth were two people named Adam and Eve (most do, but some don't.) They haven't been able to decide if dinosaurs actually walked beside man, or if their fossils were buried by God to "test our faith", or if they are a mirage manufactured by Satan. They don't agree on how some sort of super-duper "hyperevolution" must have occurred to suddenly change carnivores into herbivores and then back to carnivores after Noah's Flood. They don't agree on an explanation as to how we can see the light of galaxies billions of light years distant (is the speed of light slowing down? did God create all that light in transit? is it a Satanic mirage?) And then there's the whole geocentrism thing .. and I think you may be underestimating the number of adherents that geocentrism actually has.

    Stop me, please. :-) It's time to go home!

    About all they do agree on is that at some point in the past, using some sort of procedure that took some unspecified amount of time, God created the universe. If you're suggesting that this is some sort of "unified creationist front" .. well, you forgot the smiley.
  • Posted by Synsthe:

    What ever happened to freedom of religion? One of the points listed is that "evolution isn't in any of the biblical teachings". So what?

    I am not Christian, as are many others. I myself am Pagan. There are also buddhists, atheists, you name it, they're out there. The Bible does _not_ rule our lives. It should not be a factor whatsoever in this.

    It's a joke. We need people in our education system that can teach these kids without such arrogant bias. They should be given the right and the ability to make their own decision, from an educated stand point, not have it thrust upon them because some fanaticals believe there is only one true way, and that it's their way.

    --
    Mark Waterous (mark@projectlinux.org)
  • Maby, maby not, staying with the canine example, while we have streched the species in many ways concevable we have yet to cross the species border. Any one varient of domesticated dog, can still mate and produce a fetile ofspring with any other varient. True evolution requires a split to the point that their cannot be a fertile offspring (this isn't the true line exactly but generally a good measure for differenciating between seperate species). I am still not contending that evolution is incorrect, I just content that we do not have enough prof to consider it a fact. And even if evolution is possible, who is to say that the evolution chain as we teach it today is entirly accurate. Maby, apes decended from a outcast group of retarded homo sapiens, driven into the wild who adapted and evolved to live in the jungle. There is very little to go on but theory in evolution and it should be taught as one of many theories (though should be pointed as as the most scientifically based) not absolute concrete fact.
  • I haven't read the other three replies to your comment yet, so some of this may be covered by them. Slashdot is misbehaving this morning...

    The idea that evolution can only be proven my mangling the scientific method is an idea that is pushed by many people who talk the talk without walking the walk. They've either not reserached or don't understand research into evolutionary theory. But arguing that point could be the content of an entire thesis, and is largely wasted on people who have decided their interpretation of other people's observations are better than the interpretation of the people making the observations. In a court of law, hearsay isn't allowed, but its generally practiced extensively by people arguing science.

    A genetic progression could be mocked up by a greater intelligence. There are pleanty of schools of thought in philosophy that consider that point, and a few fringe "scientific" christian sects that believe that the Bible told the literal truth, and the fossil record is a progression back through time from the point of creation six thousand years ago. There is no way of proving or disproving that, however. If you consider that it could be in fact how things happen, however, and it is completely untestable, then the affect of it as a truth is irrelevant to those of us living within that "creation". Since science would then ALSO match reality, and would be a form of study and intepretation of the results of that form of creation, then the point that the fundamentalists miss is that such study would be the most sacred of studies. Plus the world is just really boring if you choose to believe that it was created this way. There's nothing to learn, and there's no amazement left.

    Your understanding of cosmology matches your understanding of evolutionary theory. There's a lot of wishy-washyness where cosmology is concerned because its a lot of conjecture, much like religion. The difference is that that in cosmology, a scientist dreams up a possible solution and actually attempts to prove it or disprove it. In religion, someone dreams up a possible answer, and some people will believe him or her on blind faith and others just won't. There is no critical thinking involved.

    Generally, however, the argument that a greater intelligence "had" to create the parameters of the universe and guide it to its current point is really a poor argument, because we're looking at the possibility of that happening from within the occurance itself. Sticking to forms of life as we know it, we can easily point to thousands of bodies within our solar system where it *didn't* work. We're not living in the middle ages here, we know those lights in the sky are stars and planets because we've been to some of them! (in the case of the planets, that is) Why would a higher intelligence create us here on a single planet in a universe so hostile to our form of life, where a misplaced asteroid could end all that work? Its just silly to even contemplate that!

    If you want to stand firm in your belief that there is a higher external intelligence or non-random force guiding the development of things in our Univserse, isn't it better to do that within the boundaries of intelligent, critical thinking? Tell you what, get a book on quantum theory. There's a lot of holes in there that you can plug up with a "holier than thou" explanation.

    Make believe there is a higher force manipulating things... from a scientific standpoint, you'd probably see that in inbalanced in quantum probabilities. Things happening a bit too often one way than another...

    But if you consider that our intelligence has arisen from the interaction of billions of neurons in the brain, then that leaves another possibility for a "higher intelligence" -- as I said in the last paragraph, the *proven* effects of quantum mechanics is a place to look. Did you know that two particles, once they've been in contact with each other can manipulate their own probabilities over any distance instantaneously? You fire off two photons in opposite directions, wait a second, and polarize one of them, the other one will change as well, at the exact instant, even though they're then two seconds away by the speed of light. If the changing of states in billions of neurons in the human brain can give rise to our intelligence, do you suppose it could happen with a number of particles interacting in the universe so large there aren't numbers to match it? Maybe that's where your God lives. It would certainly give credance to the Christian belief that "god is everywhere".

    There is an entire state of reality that we can't and wont ever be able to witness caused by the very laws of physics
  • by tgd (2822)
    Even more important to the "why aren't most large species hemaphodites" is the problem of self-fertilization.

    In evolutionary niches where species are prone to having problems finding mates (which is extremely rare), there is usually an evolved trait to compensate for it, such as the ability of some animals to change genders, from a fertile male to female. The risk to the gene pool is enormous for animals that are hermaphoroditic and fertile (which doesn't happen with most genetic flukes that produce hermaphrodites, which is why its not more common)

    You're also limited in evolution to what changes happen naturally over time -- a species can't magically evolve to become hermaphroditic if the genes present in the species don't support a combination that results in a safe hermaphrodite where self-fertilization can't happen.
  • by Shoeboy (16224) on Wednesday August 11, 1999 @02:34PM (#1751064) Homepage
    Scientists discover that evolution has stopped in Kansas.
    TOPEKAIn a discovery that has shocked biologists around the globe, a team of anthropologists and geneticists discovered today that evolution does not function in Kansas.
    "It was a shock, but when we examined the facts, all evidence suggested that Kansans are in the exact same evolutionary state as they were 4 billion years ago." Exclaimed Dr. Rajeev Papshigali, professor of anthropology at UC Berkeley, "The evidence was undeniable, low sloping simian foreheads, the inability to make and use simple tools - everything suggested that these people, if we may even call them that, appear to be genetically identical to Neandertall man. This challenges everything we've believed about evolution."
    Scientist first began investigating Kansans after noticing that a majority of them believed the existence of a gaseous vertebrate of infinite heft to be more probable than the accumulation of favorable mutations over geologic time.
    "It was amazing," explained Dr. Greg Hay, "we found that Kansans did not have sufficient mental capacity to understand the concept of evolution. That's not all, we found that they engaged in a primitive ritual where they would twitch on the ground uttering complete gibberish and then claim that they were speaking in tounges. We recorded the noises made, and found that they were identical with those of the spider monkey." Scientists had previously believed that humans and spider monkey had diverged in the evolutionary tree some 11 million years ago. "We may have found a species of primate that has existed unchanged for all that time, against all probability."
    Some scientists have criticized the findings of Doctors Papshigali and Hay, saying instead that the explanation lies in the fact that Kansans still use lead based paint on cribs, and that the infant Kansans tend to knaw on the bars of their cribs while teething. As pediatrician Dr. Ray Middleton argues "All the mental deficiencies of Kansans can be explained by brain damage due to lead poisoning. The idea tha evolution has stopped is ridiculous." Middleton, who is not a native Kansan is leading a drive to have lead based paint banned statewide.

    --Shoeboy
  • by Kyobu (12511)
    I don't intend to be mean, but you seem to be missing something important.

    A hypothesis is an educated guess.
    A theory is a hypothesis that has a lot of evidence to support it, and is accepted as fact.
    A theorem is a mathematical proof, and is hardly ever possible in science, due to the fact that science deals in evidence and experiment, not in axioms.

  • by coyote-san (38515) on Wednesday August 11, 1999 @02:42PM (#1751102)
    Hey, we at the Neanderthal Defence League are tired of you "oh so evolved" people making us out to be idiots.

    No Neanderthal ever made, or supported, a law that flew in the face of established science.

    No Neanderthal ever made, or supported, a law to restrict the peaceful use of strong cryptology.

    No Neanderthal ever made a claim that the sun stopped in the sky for a day. (What's a day when the sun has stopped, anyway?)

    But us Neanderthals are damn tired of you comparing us to the dredges of your own gene pool. It's YOUR people who are bunch of drooling idiots. It's YOUR people who fight the teaching of evolution in biology classes. It's YOUR people who keep buying Microsoft products. (This is slashdot, after all!)

    Get over it.
  • So either humans used to eat grass or I don't have an appendix?

    Kinda brings a new angle to the whole back to nature thing.. MMMMM...
  • Look at it a little more closely. Nowhere is it implied that Creationism will be taught explicitly, nor does it state that science will be abolished completely. True. What the people that really passed this would like to do is ban evolution and instate mandatory creationism. They are not for a completely open, unitarian several religion approach. But they know that mandatory creation in schools isn't going to happen so they passed this instead. Simply put, people want to keep their religious beliefs strong because it's what gives them meaning in life. I'm a Christian, and sometimes I just can't see how many others can go on living. I find that very sad indeed. Basically you are saying that if someone managed to convince you beyond any doubt that we share common ancestry with other primates on this planet (and I have the feeling that would take a lot of convincing) that life would lose all meaning, because we as humans would not be quite so Special anymore. Consider this: There are middle grounds between Atheistic evolution and young earth creationism. Many people, for instance, believe that evolution did take place the way the fossil record shows, but was guided by an omnipresence (god if you like) rather than cold probabilities. If this were the case, would life still be devoid of meaning? IMO, mandatory evolution curriculum (and in the school format, in order not to fail many science classes, one must acknowledge it as perfect truth) is quite detrimental to religious freedom. This is like saying hundreds of years ago that the earth-orbits-the-sun theory is detrimental to religious freedom. Many religions simply did not want to accept that we are not smack dab in the middle. The difference is that it has been proven beyond even the faintest shadow of a doubt that the earth does indeed orbit the sun. It has only been proven beyond a shred of doubt that species on this planet have, in fact, evolved and diverged. To change the topic a little, what exactly makes the evolution theory any more valid than any other? Evolution is a theory that has been written and tested with the scientific method using evidence, experiments in petri dishes, observations of different populations, and a huge supply of buried fossils. Every other explaination of the origins of humanity that I can think of is a story, passed down from generation to generation. 1. An intelligent Being created the universe and set it into motion with order and design, and created beings with free will--man. But man disobeyed, and imperfection bred imperfection, setting the 2nd law of thermodynamics into effect... Thermodynamics??????? Huh? Thermodynamics is a physics term, and I don't think it can be applied to 'imperfections' in somebody's character. 2. Chaos became order, and shortly after everything materialized, the laws of the universe shifted radically--instead of things gradually becoming more orderly, they became subjected to entropy. Except for living beings, which, for some reason, defied this by evolving into better-adjusted beings. Simple: You are implying that evolution is proposterous in the same way that it would be proposerous to leave a pile of dirt on the table and watch it turn into an apple (instead of the other way around). There is an apparent paradox in that the environment on earth has gotten much more complex with all these forms of life instead of more simple. Well, this only applies to closed systems. The earth is not a closed system - it has the nearby sun constantly adding energy to it. If you look at the whole galaxy as a closed system, it would work, because the burning in a star is an increase in entropy and the earth represents a small section of the system with decreasing entropy. No, I'm not in favor of shoving ANY system of beliefs down anyone's throat. It's just not the way a theory begins to take root into someone's mind to convince them. I think the curriculum should lay out several different worldviews (I'm not talking a course in theology--just a few simple examples). Evolution is not about beliefs - it is about reasoning and deduction.
  • by grappler (14976) on Wednesday August 11, 1999 @02:46PM (#1751131) Homepage
    Still reeling from the absence of the Ten Commandments in public schools, I reached for my news-paper on monday and saw that they are teaching 'evolution' without having pieced together the fossil record from the first genetic material to Polly Shore. (Hey, I can be reasonable)

    I demand the right to a solid platform upon which I can support my dignity. How can I feel good about myself if I am reminded that I share common ancestry with ape-brutes? I've been to the zoo, and I decline to write of the horrid, disgusting things I have seen the creatures do.

    With our sense of self-worth at stake, supporters of science will talk of 'emprical evidence', 'facts', and 'logic'. Take a moment and reflect on the innocence lost the day our world left it's prominent spot at the center of the universe. And now they would have us force feed this, their evil-ution, to our kids.

    Does a man who is doing his utmost to get into heaven benefit from filling his head with theories? Do we want our teachers questioning all that is good and decent, twisting things around with their fancy words? We must shift our focus back to something which is never used in an evil fashion: religion.
  • The reason the evidence seems sketchy is that it is, kind of. But there is A LOT of it. Think about fossils. Today, a cow lies down in a field and dies. Does it leave a fossil? No.

    So the fact that people can find fossils of transitional forms is amazing in and of itself. But here's where the non-rationals jump in. You have a prior form. And a descendant form. There is a gap, a missing link. The "creation scientists" attack the fact that we don't have a videotape of all stages of evolution as it progressed.

    So one day, a paleontologist working in some terrible dusty hot place finds a skull and a legbone, never before seen. Wow! A missing link between A and B. The creation science whoops up "Well now you have TWO gaps. Explain that."

    Or they say, "Thermodynamics says that things progress from order to disorder. Ergo evolution is impossible." Except it's entropy they mean, and the earth isn't a closed system (we have a sun) so that rule is completely wrong to apply.

    It's moronic, and it's really what they argue. They are proven wrong again and again.

    If you really want a good book on this mindset, read the aptly-titled Why people believe Weird Things [amazon.com] by Michael Shermer.

  • Kansas isn't in the south.....
  • You call mwillis (the poster you are replying to) a moron, then go on to quote Bart Simpson saying that "secondary education in U.S., ... sucks and blows at the same time." Alas, I think you are way too critical of hasty details in the previous post and pay not enough attention to the central points. Yet, I must agree with your B.S. quotation. ;)

    First, note that the cow was dying in a field, not a desert. In any event, I think mwillis was not making the point that the dying cow doesn't leave a fossil but only that they are extremely rare -- which is surely true. [Ed note: the publisher takes no responsibility for the opinions in this comment or for assumptions about what a previous poster might have meant.]

    Imagine for a moment that fossils of large animals were not rare. Suppose we had, lying around, fossils of 10% of the large animals that have died in the previous 1,000,000 generations... Ignoring a few exceptions and the buildup of fossils before that, we now have about 100,000 times as many large fossils as live large animals! Yep, fossils are rare alright -- and the "moron" is right about the cow. If you doubt it, check out some old farmland where many cows died of natural causes.

    Of course, ancient fossils in good shape will be far rarer than recent ones.

    So, do you actually disagree with mwillis or are you just giving him a hard time? Did you actually have a relevant point at all?
  • Trust me.

    Last time I checked, a typical school environment doesn't reflect the 'real world' in any shape or form. It is an artificial environment whose rules are for the most part barbaric and neo-fascist. (Note that I'm not talking about the administrators and teachers. Those are other rules, and they really aren't in control, anyway).

    There are many places and opportunities to learn about other people and social skills. In the real 'real world' for instance...

    jf

  • Open Note to Kansas State Board of Education:

    Effective immediately, all board members are hereby terminated for gross incompetence. Please clean out your desks and vacate the premises by 17:00 local time. Remaining on Board of Education property after 17:00 will be treated as trespassing, and local law enforcement will be summoned.

    Elections for replacements for the vacated posts will be held during the upcoming general elections in November.

    Schwab

  • by sluke (26350) on Wednesday August 11, 1999 @02:09PM (#1751195)
    Hello,

    I am from Kansas (I just go to school in Massachusetts) who has a little bit of insight into this situation. The board of education is a powerful governmental institution whose members are elected by statewide ballot in Kansas. Unfortunately, this is an election that noone pays any attention to. The Christian coalition noticed this and proceded to find very very right wing candidates to run as republicans for the open seats several years ago.

    Kansas is predominantly Republican (that's an understatement) and on the ballot you can just pick a straight ticket as one of your options, so many people just picked the repulican candidates and WHAM! half of the state board of education has a very fundimentalist viewpoint.

    I'm not surprised at all with this latest move by such an esteemed body, next they'll probably require creationism to be taught and physics to be banned. I'm glad I got the heck out of that state.

  • Get these godless whores out of our schools! Save the children from eternal damnation! The bible is the word of god, and every line of it is from god!! Burn the books. Shoot the artists and scientists. Burn the heretics at the stake!!! It is time to return to that old tyme religion! Praise god and let's take back this nation for Jesus!!
    (for the few dimwits out there, I was being sarcastic)
  • so if kansas doesnt believe in evolution then they probably wont care about mutation. so then it should be real easy to dump all sorts of nasty things into kansas.

    maybe its natural selection of the states. kansas stays stupid and the rest of the states can exploit it so that we become stronger.
  • No state ever actually ratified such a law. IIRC, one chamber of one state passed a law which defined an official value of "pi," but it actually contained multiple, mutually contradictory definitions for the value of pi. No one is really sure, since the language was unusually florid. The article also suggested that the bill was treated about as seriously as the current "debates" over the official state dinosaur fossil.

    Besides, even if a state does define PI=3 it only hurts itself as all wheels turn into hexagons and commerce bumps to a halt. :-)
  • The problem with the evolution debate is that there are generally two different things people mean by the term "evolution". One is the process by which gene frequencies shift among a given population (e.g., the oft-cited example of the light and dark moths in industrial London) -- I'm going to call this microevolution. The other is the process by which new species are formed, over extended periods of time, eventually developing characteristics completely distinct from the characteristics of their ancestors. I'm going to call this process macroevolution.

    Since microevolution happens over such a short period of time (usually several generations), it is easily observable and reproduceable and can thus be subjected to the scientific method. Macroevolution, however, is generally accepted to take place on a geological timescale and thus cannot be observed or reproduced. Macroevolution thus cannot be subjected to the scientific method. It, like the Big Bang and other theories of origins, can be argued for from other types of evidence, but can also be argued against from other types of evidence. Funny thing -- some specific pieces of evidence (specifically, the fossil record) have been used in arguments both for and against macroevolution. I maintain that macroevolution and other theories of origins (including the Big Bang theory, creationism and any others that I missed) hold more to the realm of philosophy than science.

    Now I, personally, have no trouble accepting microevolution as proven scientific theory. ("Fact" if you like, but I've found the word "fact" to be a loaded word in the evolution debate, so I'm avoiding it). I also have no problem with speciation (sp?), as demonstrated for example by Darwin's finches in the Galapagos Islands. (For those who don't know this example, Darwin apparently observed several species of finch in the Galapagos Islands, which were almost identical in appearance but would not interbreed. Their main difference was in beak shape and in diet, and their beak shapes seemed to correspond to their diet: for example, those that ate tough, strong seeds tended to have correspondingly tough beaks to crack the seeds, while those that ate lighter, easier-to-crack seeds tended to have thinner, lighter beaks.) I can accept the theory that these various species of finch descended from a common ancestor, an undifferentiated type of finch, and that the various beak shapes developed in response to the various types of seeds available to eat on the different islands. But I don't accept the theory of macroevolution. Hang with me, and I'll explain why.

    A necessary component of macroevolution is the increasing of genetic diversity. Say you have a lot of different species of fish, all of which have gills and thus can only live in water. One species or subspecies (or maybe even just one individual) develops a lunglike organ and can thus live on land for a short time. This proves beneficial to survival and reproduction for some reason (say, lack of competition for food on land), and so natural selection favors those with this lunglike organism, because they tend to produce a lot of offspring. Genetic diversity has increased -- before, there were no lungs, nothing but gills, and now, some fish have lunglike organs as well as gills. Genetic diversity increased, in fact, as soon as that one species (or subspecies or individual) developed the genes for that lunglike organ. If all the individuals with the genes for said organ had died out without reproducing, genetic diversity would have decreased again. The problem I have with this theory (which all sounds pretty good up until this point) is this: where did that increase in genetic diversity come from in the first place? Since microevolution and speciation tend to maintain genetic diversity at a constant at best, or even decrease the amount of genetic diversity at worst (see next paragraph for my argument on that score), it can't be the source of that increase in genetic diversity. Which only leaves natural, randomly-occurring mutations as the source of the increase in genetic diversity, and I can't accept that either for reasons given even further below.

    NOTE: Up until the last section of the preceding paragraph, I've been confining myself to stating the "facts" of the case: statements about what the various theories say, and so on, and any personal opinions have been clearly labeled as such. From now on, however, I'm going to delve into those nagging questions like "Is this theory correct?" which the two sides of the debate don't seem to be able to agree upon. The rest of this article, therefore, is entirely personal opinion.

    Right. Why do I believe that microevolution and speciation reduce genetic diversity or, at most, maintain it at its previous level? First of all, microevolution as per my definition above does nothing but reshuffle the distribution of genes already present in the population. In the case of the light and dark moths in industrial London, for example, both the genes for lightness and the genes for darkness were already present in the population at large. (To simplify matters a little, I'm going to assume that there are just two genes, L and D, involved, and that their combinations form a spectrum from light to dark -- for example, LLLL produces a very light moth, DDDD produces a very dark moth, LDLL produces a somewhat light moth, and so on. This may be a little bit of an over-simplification, but it works for the purposes of understanding my argument, and a more complex genetic method of determining lightness and darkness would still be subject to the same rules of natural selection, etc.) Now when conditions favored light coloring, the DDDD and DDLD moths would be seen and eaten by birds very easily and would tend to leave fewer offspring, thus reducing the frequency of the D gene. The LLDL moths would still produce offspring in sufficient quantities to preserve the D gene, however. Thus when conditions shifted and darkness became a better protective coloring than lightness, the LLLL and LLDL moths were at a disadvantage and the DDDD and DDDL moths tended to produce more offspring, thus decreasing the frequency of the L gene and increasing the frequency of the D gene. But no new genes have been introduced! If, by some unlucky chance, enough DDDD, DDDL, DDLL and DLLL moths had been eaten without leaving offspring so that almost all moths left were LLLL with only a few LDLL (or DLLL, or LLLD, or LLDL) moths left, that would be a highly skewed gene ratio -- but the D gene could still come back if conditions should happen to shift, and there could be more dark moths again. But if through some chance event (a forest fire, a particularly dry year with very little food for the moths, a sudden increase in predation), a lot more moths started dying without offspring, including, as chance might have it, all the remaining LLDL moths, the D gene would have completely died out. That's it folks. No more dark moths -- ever. In this scenario, through an unlikely (but possible) combination of events, genetic diversity has been reduced. And speciation makes this even more likely -- if, for some reason (maybe similar to whatever caused the Darwin's finches to speciate) the L and D genes became linked to genes that determine reproduction, light and dark moths would be either unable to reproduce together or else likely to leave fewer viable offspring. This would tend to produce two different species: one with mostly LLLL and a few LLDL moths, and one with mostly DDDD and a few DDLD moths. And those few with one "opposite" gene would probably have less capability to reproduce, leaving fewer offspring and thus driving the frequency of the "opposite" gene down. Again, an accident of some kind of another could exterminate the "opposite" gene in one or both of these populations, leaving two separate species with only one color gene each, rather than one species with two color genes. This leaves one gene or the other more prone to extermination should conditions shift to favor the other one -- should light color become a detriment (say, because all the trees are darkened by pollution and the birds can see light moths better), the LLLL population would be quickly decimated and might even become extinct before conditions shifted again. Again, genetic diversity has not been increased and the possibility for reduction of genetic diversity (by the complete extinction of one gene or the other) is there.

    Finally, my opinion on mutations is less firm than on these other subjects. I believe the evidence shows that mutations are generally harmful (this, I think, most people will not dispute) and thus would tend to be culled from the gene pool since they introduce disadvantages rather than advantages. Those mutations that would kill an individual before it reproduced would, of course, be culled instantly -- at least if they were dominant. And I know of no evidence for generally favorable mutations -- all the ones I can think of that aren't harmful are, at best neutral. But if you know of any mutations that are favorable to an individual, whatever species they might occur in, please let me know.

    Should you want to continue this debate, I suggest taking it to email rather than continuing on Slashdot, since this article is about to disappear from the main Slashdot page and is heavily overloaded with comments anyway, and I at least won't have time to come back and check it constantly for responses. You can email me at the address listed in my User Info, or (preferably) at rmunn@pobox.com [mailto]. The pobox.com address is the preferred one, since it won't change after I finish college -- but both addresses will work for the next two years or so. And if you've actually read this far, thanks for taking the time to do so and I'd appreciate carrying on this debate with you if you disagree with my position.
    -----

  • Apparently they are only devolving there. Must be that flat countryside that does something to their perspective.

    Next on the Kansas legislative agenda: Round Earth is a myth.
  • by grappler (14976)
    Theorems are not all proven to be true. Witness Fermat's last theorem, to use a famous example. I think it is now proven, but for a long time it was not - people were trying to prove it, but hadn't yet. And they called it a theorem.
    Another example: the four color map theorem.

    And the x=x example is true by definition, because we have defined the symbol of two parallel horizontal line segments (=) to mean equality. Other axioms work in a similiar way, being true by the very definition of the symbols they use.

    One other thing I forgot to mention: a theory is not exactly a hypothesis - a hypothesis is an educated guess made before an experiment is performed. The purpose of the experiment is to prove/disprove the hypothesis. Therefore, hypotheses are written as very simple, provable or disprovable statements. Theories are general explanations to explain phenomena, and stand until replaced by a better one.
  • And before anyone picks up on this:

    I'm NOT homeschooling my daughter for religious reasons. I personally don't like the US school system and feel that my family and I can do a better job than the school system did for me.

    And yes, she will take achievement tests.....

    jf

  • by drivers (45076) on Wednesday August 11, 1999 @02:16PM (#1751274)
    Before this turns into some big evolution debate, try reading the talk.origins
    FAQ [talkorigins.org]

    Not that it will help. sigh.
  • If I lived in Kansas, I would promptly leave. I certainly do not want to raise my children in such an environment. I had no idea that any secular education board in the US was so backward as to actually pass something like this.

    And this information is being banned at the *university* level? This is truly unbelievable.


    --Lenny
  • And like anyone knew that?

    Get a life...

    jf

  • I suck at html guys. On my other post in this thread, I forgot my P tags, and unfotunately now it's just a mass of text that nobody will read. Perhaps I should repost it formatted correctly.

    And now, judging from the replies to this post, I guess I should have used the SARCASM tag, because people evedently need to see that. Come to think of it, I probably would have needed to forgoe the SARCASM tag completely and used BLINK SARCASM/BLINK instead ;-)

    BTW, I was not trying to be a troll. I was trying to make people laugh! Oh well.

    I need to work on my HTML I guess.
  • by cje (33931) on Wednesday August 11, 1999 @03:49PM (#1751381) Homepage
    Biological evolution is change, over time, in the gene pool of a population.

    That's it.

    If you state that such changes are "only a theory", you are lying through the skin of your teeth.

    When most people speak of "evolution", they are typically talking about "common descent", which is the application of evolutionary biology to explain the biodiversity of life on Earth through slowly-developing twin-nested hierarchies descending from common ancestors.

    This is what chaps the asses of fundies. It is in direct conflict with their literalist interpretation of the Bible. And since they learned long ago that they're not going to get creationism taught in public school, they shifted their focus to attacking the scientific bases for evolution, even though their attacks are ridiculous. They shout nonsense like "Evolution violates the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics!" And it plays pretty well to the pew because, by golly, it sure sounds "purty scientifical!" After all, what do Mr. and Mrs. Johnson in the third row know about thermodynamics?

    See, here's the thing: "Creation scientists" are full of shit, and I'm willing to bet that almost all of them are fully aware that they're full of shit. But most of the masses that phone in large cash contributions to the Trinity Broadcasting Network don't know this. It doesn't mean that they're stupid, or that they're not good people, it just means that they are uneducated with regards to the issues at hands. "Creation science" is a despicable, deceptive field which relies on repeated lies and misrepresentation of science. It does fairly well today because its adherents either aren't aware that it's lies, or they don't care.

    I certainly understand why fundamentalists don't like evolution and common descent. But that doesn't matter. Scientific theories and facts do not stand and fall on the basis of whether everybody likes them or not. There are lots of things that science teaches us that I don't particularly find comforting. I don't like the notion that the Earth could be, at any moment, struck by a large asteroid which would wreak global devastation. I don't lose any sleep over it, but it's not a comforting notion. However, it does me no good to stick my fingers in my ears and run around screaming "IS NOT!! IS NOT!!"

    So evolution is no longer part of the standard curriculum in Kansas. Big deal. It doesn't mean that it can't still be taught. All it means is that children who graduate from a Kansas high school that decided to forego evolution education are going to be less well-rounded than those children that graduated from schools that have no qualms about teaching things that have been discovered since the Bronze Age.

    Finally, to those who would like to see fundamentalist Christian creationism taught in public schools "as a theory", you might want to consider that creationism is a myth .. not a theory. Theories make testable predictions. The creation yarn of 1 Genesis does not. Depending on which creationist you listen to, the universe is anywhere from six thousand to fifteen billion years old. Some creationists insist that the Earth is not moving (after all, didn't Joshua command the sun to stand still?) However, these heretics are shunned by those creationists who believe that the Earth is flat. Creationists don't agree where all of the water for Noah's flood came from, nor do they agree upon how it disappeared in some unspecified manner. And it goes on and on. Creationists have come up with all sorts of ludicrous "scientific justifications" for events in Genesis, and .. here's the really funny part .. none of it is consistent with the rest.

    If creationists would like to see creationism taught as a theory in our public schools, then they should present the Theory of Creationism. If they are unable to, then they have no right to teach my children that the universe, which looks as if it is billions of years old, was "poofed" into existence by God six thousand years ago.
  • Why aren't there any hybrids?

    Just check the fossil record. Ancient hominids weren't exactly thick on the ground, but there were a few fossils left.

    Why aren't they alive today? Because they'd be incredibly old. Thus, they were terminated by the US Social Security MiB before they could break the USA budget and become our owners.

    QED. 8-)

    PS: For a real discussion, try the Fossil Hominids FAQ [talkorigins.org].

  • Wrong. A theorem is proven - just like the Pythagorean theorem. An axiom is something that's generally accepted as true, just because it is - like transitivity, if a=b and b=c, then a=c.
  • Hey Hemos,

    Seeing as this topic generated over 500 responses in the first couple of hours, apparently your the only one who was "speechless"! ;-)
  • ..At the media for completely blowing this out of proportion. I've got a rant farther down on this list, but in short, all this is just an approved proposal that evolution will not be covered on state assessment tests. That's about it.

    Please..

    jf

  • by Anonymous Shepherd (17338) on Wednesday August 11, 1999 @02:24PM (#1751433) Homepage
    There are plenty of hybrids around. Lots of dogs are, surprise, hybrids. If you mean inter-species breeding? Genetically too dissimilar. Do you mean 'missing link' hybrids? Previous versions will be replaced by newer versions because newer versions are more efficient/intelligent/effective. I don't know that I can 'prove' it, but I will say that 2 different species that occupy the same niche will either wipe the other out or evolve to occupy different niches. I don't think there is another option. So in this case either we *were* half ape men who evolved into full humans, or we co-existed with them until we finally wiped them out, or they evolved into something sufficiently different to survive in a different niche(great apes?) while we evolved into something else entirely so that competition between the two did not occur.

    -AS
  • By that premise *all* scientific thought is theory and hypothesis. How can we prove the gravitational constant or relativistic physics? All we can do is show that it occurs/works within a certain error, no more, no less.

    At some point we will find an incontravertible error, and revise our science until they are more accurate--but even then, it is a theory and not a law.


    -AS
  • The evidence for evolution is every bit as strong as that for Galileo's Law, and yet many perfectly sensible people reject it utterly There is great evidence for microevolution. Which is mainly what darwin spoke of. If you read Origins of the Species (spelling?) you will see that most of it concerns changes within a species to make that species stronger and more fit to survive. The many varieties of the Canine is an excellent example of microevolution. But I have yet to see a single bit of definitive proof of MacroEvolution needed to fill in the total evolutionary theory of existance. Such facts are very weak and are based upon theory, much like the bigbang. I am not saying the theories are wrong, but too many people are so absolutly sure that these theories are fact that they are offended when considered a to only be a theory or myth.
  • A hypothesis is an educated guess.

    A theory is a hypothesis that has a lot of support.

    A law in science is a theory or that has an overwhelming amount of support, few or no opposing theories, and is accepted as fact.


    A theorem is a mathematical hypothesis that has not yet been proven or disproven but is thought to be true.

    An axiom is a building block of mathematics - something that is true by definition (like x=x). Axioms are used to prove theorems.

    A law in mathematics is a theorem that has been proven through a logically sound reasoning process that can be broken down into axioms so that because the axioms are true by definition, the law must be true. It can then be used like an axiom to prove other theorems.

    And I agree that a law in science can hardly ever be proven, for the reasons you said above.
  • Please respond intelligently.. hm.

    The central flaw in your post (aside from a lot of unsubstantiated facts and irrelevant points) is that you seem to think that everyone who believes evolution is believing in it in the same way that a Christian might believe in Christianity.

    I believe that evolution is very well supported by mountains of evidence, and that evolutionary theory and evolutionary thinking is the best way to analyze the fascinating problems of life's arisal on earth. This is not in violation of any of the points you made.

    If very good evidence is presented that there were some supernatural mechanism that facilitated it all happening then great, I'll take that evidence into account. If the evidence is strong enough and convincing enough, then I'll adopt a different understanding of biology and a different set of assumptions about how the bits that we don't yet understand thoroughly did happen.

    I'm not deceived by anything unless the evidence itself is somehow being misrepresented to me. In all my reading on this subject, I've found anti-evolutionists' work to be *much* more filled with errors, misrepresentations, and even out-right lies than in any scientific exposition.

    I don't trust by faith in evolution's Random Chance, because a) evolution is partly but not entirely Random.. that's what the whole natural selection thing is about, and b) because all the biological evidence is that mutations occur in a fashion that does include what we would call randomness. I was born from one of millions of sperm cells that set out to fertilize the egg cell.. the one that made it had a random assortment of genes from my father, and it made it to the egg instead of another due to randomness. Errors in transcription during fertilization and thereafter seem also to involve randomness.

    This is all from the evidence. I do assume that given that all of the processes observable in the world today seem to be orderly and naturalistic in accordance with consistent laws of physics that this is true going into the past.

    That's really the simplest and most reliable assumption to make.. if I start going away from the evidence and say that anything supernatural could have happened (because of course we don't have the evidence for it), then I have to admit that a huge green frog made of plasma started life on earth. Or the god of middle eastern monotheism. Can't really say, now, can I?

  • Well, most scientists don't use science to argue against the concept of God. They merely present the facts as they can see them, and let others decide how to fit (or not fit) God into them.

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