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Creationist Textbook Stickers Declared Unconstitutional 3360

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

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  • ........ What? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, 2005 @11:26PM (#11356146)
    The statement on the front of the book, whether motivated by religion or not, is completley true. Evolution IS a theory, and not a fact.

    I don't know which side of the debate is dumber. The state, the evolutionists, the judges, or the creatonists.
  • Re:Thank God! (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, 2005 @11:29PM (#11356171)
    yeah ... wtf? I mean, telling kids to have an open mind and view something critically ... it's almost like we want them to think for themselves. Well, at least you can always trust the government to put an end to that.
  • by Chanc_Gorkon ( 94133 ) <{gorkon} {at} {}> on Thursday January 13, 2005 @11:29PM (#11356173)
    Evolution can be proven, in a way, it just can't be proof enough that it would be enough to say that evolution is a law. Evolution is a theory....the sticker is right.....and the court was wrong, in my humble opinion. This is not over by any means.
  • no it's not (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, 2005 @11:29PM (#11356177)
    evolution is not a theory, it is a principle reproduced and observed in the labratory and is applicable to more than just biological systems. they need to clarify what they really mean by evolution, but then that would be exposing their true religious robot nature.
  • by Weaselmancer ( 533834 ) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @11:29PM (#11356183)

    Courts lately keep doing the right [] thing [].

  • theory... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AmigaAvenger ( 210519 ) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @11:29PM (#11356188) Journal
    ok, it's a theory, I think most of slashdot agrees on that one. now do we need warning stickers on every text book that contains a theory! science books would take on an entire new meaning. half the pages would contain the stickers for the remaining half of the book, containing the forbidden 'theories'
  • "Creationist"? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mskfisher ( 22425 ) * on Thursday January 13, 2005 @11:29PM (#11356189) Homepage Journal
    How is this "creationist"? Evolution is a theory, not a fact, and as with all scientific theories, should be presented as such.

    Is there a better way to teach scientific thinking to students than to emphasize "what you are learning is not final"?
  • Re:Interesting... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, 2005 @11:30PM (#11356192)
    > So is Intelligent Design, which is gaining creedance [sic] as an
    > alternative theory.

    Not much of a theory, because it's assumptions aren't falsifiable. It's an idea, but it's not science.

    That said, evolution IS just a theory - but so is everything else in a science book, whether or not it isn't well stomached by fundies.

  • Re:Yay! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Em Ellel ( 523581 ) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @11:30PM (#11356199)
    +1 for creationism!

    Read it carefuly, actually it is -1 Creationism. They are ruling creationist's stickers unconstitutional, though wierdly enough part of me feels like it is also "-1 Free Speech". :-/ I am kinda split if it is a good thing to make "keep open mind" stickers unconstitutional.


  • Re: What? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Theatetus ( 521747 ) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @11:31PM (#11356209) Journal

    Well, when they put similar notices in Physics textbooks that gravity is a theory, not a proven fact, I'll stop complaining.

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

    by SnapShot ( 171582 ) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @11:31PM (#11356215)
    Yes, evolution is a theory. Gravity is a theory. The big bang is a theory. Intelligent design isn't a theory; it's a story. There's a difference.
  • Re:Interesting... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jimhill ( 7277 ) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @11:31PM (#11356220) Homepage
    This space doesn't permit the degree of mockery your post deserves, alas.

    The difference between evolution as a scientific theory and ID as a "We're a theory, too, really!" is that evolution derives from observation and application of the scientific method and will be changed as more data becomes available. ID, on the other hand, is derived from a book written with the advice of an invisible friend in the sky and will resist with all its might new data -- like observed evolution.
  • by UpLateDrinkingCoffee ( 605179 ) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @11:33PM (#11356243)
    This is the text that establishes religion according to the judge:

    "This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered."

    No mention of creationism... no mention of God. It only states that Evolution is a theory regarding the origin of living things which is absolutely true. Why is this world trying to abolish critical thinking?

  • Re:no it's not (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Le Marteau ( 206396 ) * on Thursday January 13, 2005 @11:33PM (#11356253) Journal
    It's a long way from saying, "Oh look. The color of the moth changes in lab tests depending on it's predator and environment" to "Oh, look. Our lab tests just that life came about because of natural selection."
  • Re:Thank God! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Narchie Troll ( 581273 ) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @11:34PM (#11356257)
    Evolution is a fact. It's been observed.

    There are theories as to its mechanisms. Note I said "theory", not "hypothesis"; in general, a theory is the best you can do when describing a process in science. The common use of 'theory' to mean 'unproven concept' is not the way science uses it.
  • by randallpowell ( 842587 ) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @11:35PM (#11356276)
    Fundamentalist Christians who are scared by reality and must insist that everyone must be like them to validate their religion and feel secure once more.
  • by Yolegoman ( 762615 ) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @11:35PM (#11356278) Homepage
    By that logic, you are declaring Evolution a religion... thus, why the hell is Evolution in Public Schools and not Creation? You _do_ realize that you are are declaring Evolution equal to Creation on a scientific scale...
  • Re:Interesting... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Spyffe ( 32976 ) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @11:36PM (#11356292) Homepage

    Creationism is a theory that is unprovable except by the appearance of a "supreme being," which is documented only by ancient and contradictory sources. It is speculation.

    Evolution is testable. Carbon-dating, empirical observation, archaeology, and genetics all indicate that evolution has taken place from more primitive forms of life to those seen today. It is a theory.

    The term theory has been coopted by religious fundamentalists, and twisted it to mean something it's not. Good science is based on weeding viable theories from speculation.

  • The entire label (Score:2, Insightful)

    by LunarOne ( 91127 ) * on Thursday January 13, 2005 @11:36PM (#11356303) Homepage
    The entire label:

    "This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered."

    The only way we can make progress on any theory is with an open mind. After all, that's what allowed the theory of evolution to come about in the first place. It's not like the label said that the students should consider the alternative of creation.

    Furthermore, there are many scientists at the highest level who have questioned the theory of evolution, and far from all of them are creationists. Anyone who truly wants to advance science and has a degree of humility could readily accept the contents of that label at par.

    Go ahead and mod my opinions down, as is so typical in the slashdot forum. It will only make me think moreso than ever that evolutionists are not above engaging in the occasional witch hunt, just like any other, um...religion.

  • Re: What? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Scrameustache ( 459504 ) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @11:36PM (#11356304) Homepage Journal
    The statement on the front of the book, whether motivated by religion or not, is completley true. Evolution IS a theory, and not a fact.

    Then I want a sticker in all bibles: "God is a myth, not a fact", and that statement is also completely true.
  • Re:Thank God! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Botty ( 715495 ) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @11:38PM (#11356337)
    Evolution is a fact. It's been observed.

    You're confusing microevolution with macroevolution. I want to know who on gods green earth OBSERVED monkeys turning into humans.
  • Sorry, No (Score:3, Insightful)

    by occamboy ( 583175 ) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @11:38PM (#11356338)
    Evolution is observable, and explains lots of things that cannot be explained more simply, making it a theory.

    You may be of the opinion that there is a God, er, I mean "Intelligent Designer" (to use your code word) behind all of this, and you may be right - but there's no observable evidence of this, just a guess. That makes intelligent design your hypothesis, not a theory.


  • Re:Interesting... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by XorNand ( 517466 ) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @11:38PM (#11356340)

    Oh Jeez... not this shit again. "Theory", as used in science, is not the same thing as "wild ass guess" (as the word is used in common usage). The difference between a theory and a law is that a law can be absolutely proven, a theory cannot. But just because evolution cannot be proven with absolute certainity, does not mean it is scientifically solid.

  • by Narchie Troll ( 581273 ) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @11:39PM (#11356355)
    Contrary to popular opinion, a law is not a popular theory. It's usually a mechanistic rule regarding a particular phenomenon. Some rules aren't even theories -- they're postulates, sometimes impossible to prove.
    The issue with the sticker is that it's inaccurate. It says evolution is a theory, which is false -- evolution is an observed phenomenon with a number of theories describing its mechanisms. It contrasts "theory" with "fact" in a scientifically wrong manner -- a theory and a fact are on completely different spectra. Facts are used to formulate and prove theories, but a theory doesn't become a fact when well-proven.
  • Re:Yay! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, 2005 @11:39PM (#11356357)
    It is not so much -1 Free Speech, as -1 Pointless Vandalism.

    Even though in the case of the schools, the adminstrators were encouraging their use (which should have had them removed from any educational capacity IMHO), the "faithful" were encouraged to go beyond this and put their stickers on books in stores and public libraries.

    That is criminal vandalism, and by bringing this Court ruling in, it may discourage it somewhat. That is a good thing.
  • by Geoffreyerffoeg ( 729040 ) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @11:40PM (#11356362)
    There's no need to teach creationism. As a half-creationist myself, I wouldn't agree with anything like what you said.

    Simply state, validly, that evolution seems to fit with the facts as science is best capable of recording it, and that there are some failures which we cannot explain yet but which alternative theories, including creationism might possibly explain. If you start teaching creationism, you're teaching religion, and that should be kept out of public schools.

    Anything that, as you say, cannot be explained by science has no place on a science test.

    The fundamental problem here is an impression of science as truth. I don't normally like to attack truth, but often what we're using the word for is a scientific construct -- what would have happened assuming that things behaved rationally. Such a belief is a rational belief. Yet if you believe in God, you must believe that He can throw things off. Other arguments (another can of worms which I don't want to get into now, especially not on Slashdot; if you're really interested, get a copy of C. S. Lewis's Mere Christianity) argue for believing in the existence of a God. Besides, science admits that spontaneous generation happened in the past -- otherwise, whence did life evolve in the first place? Creationism, in its most fundamental form, is that a Sentience caused that first spontaneous generation.

    BTW: people who take Genesis 1 literally should be regarded with about as much truth as you give to Scientologists. Sure, it might be true, but as much evidence as supports the rest of fundamental Christian beliefs supports a non-literal interpretation.
  • Re:Wow.... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, 2005 @11:40PM (#11356365)
    Why is evolution more disproven than proven at this point in time? Have you actually read anything about it?

    Tell me exactly which of the following statements you disagree with:
    1) Different individuals of the same species have different traits.
    2) Some traits can improve an individual's success in life (i.e. chance not to die).
    3) Living individuals are more likely to reproduce than dead ones.
    4) Parents pass on traits to their children.

    Logical conclusion: successful traits are passed down to offspring.

    OK, so the exact model of evolution is not known in all cases. This doesn't mean that the core idea of evolution is incorrect.

    I suggest reading as an introduction to the topic, and also a dispelling of common misconceptions about evolution.
  • Re:Interesting... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by DAldredge ( 2353 ) <SlashdotEmail@GMail.Com> on Thursday January 13, 2005 @11:40PM (#11356367) Journal
    Modern Science uses the MODIFIED Scientific Method where a new first step has been added that check to see it what they are checking can take away their funding. If they get a yes on this portion they ignore the rest of the SM and say the idea will never work...
  • by Migraineman ( 632203 ) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @11:40PM (#11356369)
    Seems that the "vocal special interest group" mentality was at work here. 2000 parents bitched that the book contained "evolution" and needed a warning label. The school district attempted to dodge what probably would have become a (cl)ass-action lawsuit. They seem to have made matters worse, garnering national attention.

    They had a flaming bag of dogshit tossed on their doorstep, and they made a choice as to which foot to stomp with. If they'd decided to do nothing, they get sued. If they put the current sticker in, they get sued (albeit by a different group.) If they changed the wording to say something like "all religion is theory, as is evolution; decide for yourself" they'd get sued too. A better solution would have been to show the bitching parents the door, and remind them that they can always home-school the little hellions if the parents don't like the public school curriculum. At least then the school district could have stood up in the courtroom (for the inevitable lawsuit) and maintained that "we will not endorse religion; any of them." A lawsuit was pretty much inevitable. I don't think they chose the right one, though.
  • Re:Creationist? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Scrameustache ( 459504 ) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @11:40PM (#11356375) Homepage Journal
    how exactly does one call this a "creationist textbook sticker?"

    It is a disclaimer designed to discredit the content of the textbook by it's very presence.

    It was carefully worded in a way to be sneaky enough to get pass the likes of you, but the intent is still clear: It's a baby step on the way towards obscurantism.
  • Re:Thank God! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LucidBeast ( 601749 ) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @11:43PM (#11356413)
    Well at least we can test our medicines with monkeys better than let say sea horses. I guess offering fossils as evidence is out of the question?

    Besides it is obvious that humans are close relatives of monkeys. Want proof? Go visit nearest playground. (tired of making sensible arguments)

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

    by Boronx ( 228853 ) <> on Thursday January 13, 2005 @11:43PM (#11356415) Homepage Journal
    The fossil record. DNA.
  • Re:theory... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Artraze ( 600366 ) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @11:44PM (#11356432)
    Wrong. In science books things are either theories or law s (or the occasional corollary, etc.) They need no stickers because they mention, in the text, what everything is. Evolution, however, is often presented as the truth; no theory, no uncertainty. So if it's "Theory of Relativity" it better be "Theory of Evolution". And if they just called it "Relativity" I would certainly hope that there'd be a sticker noting that it is, in fact, just a theory. (Note: laws are basically theories, but they describe _what_ happens, not _how_ it happens.)
  • Re:"Creationist"? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thefirelane ( 586885 ) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @11:44PM (#11356441)
    How is this "creationist"? Evolution is a theory, not a fact, and as with all scientific theories, should be presented as such.

    You realize "Electricity" is a theory right? The reason this was thrown out, was because it was a deliberate attempt to confuse school children by muddying the difference between the common usage of the word theory (aka. hunch) and the scientific: []

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

    Is there a better way to teach scientific thinking to students than to emphasize "what you are learning is not final"?

    In fact, no... but the basic tenant of science is to keep an open mind so why stress this about evolution? Also, as I stated, this was not designed to open students minds but merely to confuse them.
  • Re:Thank God! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Narchie Troll ( 581273 ) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @11:45PM (#11356442)
    No, I'm not. I said "evolution." So did the sticker.

    In addition, "monkeys turning into humans" is not evolution. For one, the theory is that humans evolved from apes. Apes aren't monkeys.

    Second, the single theory that humans evolved from other primates is not the entirety of macroevolution, much less evolution. Throwing away tons of good science because you don't like the implication of a small portion is bad practice. Instead, try to excise that part in a reasonable fashion.

    I've never read a biology textbook that didn't mention that the specific evolutionary paths mentioned therein were theoretical and subject to change. In the meantime, it's the job of the textbook authors to teach the prevailing scientific ideas.

    By the way, macroevolution (speciation via evolution) has been observed in a number of cases. Those cases don't prove any other cases, but the process does occur.
  • by JanneM ( 7445 ) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @11:45PM (#11356457) Homepage
    But then it's been proven that the world is round ... just keep walking in a straight line (making sure to learn how to walk on water and up vertical surfaces) and you can see for yourself.

    Invisible magical blue-scaled lizard midgets. When anybody comes close to the edge, they will magically put them to sleep and run them to the opposite side of the disc in their secret network of extradimensional tunnels. once there, they reposition the person in exactly the same way they were, and wake them up.

    Now, this is at least as convincing a theory as ID, with just as much evidence and falsifiability, and deserves all the same repsect and classroom time.

  • by Chuck Chunder ( 21021 ) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @11:46PM (#11356473) Homepage Journal
    If the books contents are written so as to imply that evolution is fact then such a sticker is probably appropriate.

    If however the book glosses over all theories as fact then the sticker is innappropriate for singling out evolution and a more general sticker (or preferably a different text) would be appropriate.

    If no such glossing over is done then the sticker is innappropriate.

    Any science book however should teach that theories are there to be challenged by scientific means. Science's strength is that theories can be improved upon or replaced when a demonstrably better (not merely "alternate") theory eventuates.

    Science should be proud of it's theories, proud that they represent accumulated knowledge and proud that science is honest enough to let them go if we get something better (not merely "alternate").
  • Re:Thank God! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Boronx ( 228853 ) <> on Thursday January 13, 2005 @11:46PM (#11356479) Homepage Journal
    If you throw out evolution, you have to throw out one of these ideas: the theory that an organisms devolopment is an expression of its genetic material, the theory that an organism inherits its genetic material, the theory that the genetic material is mutable.

    Now, all of these are pretty hard to refute, but if they're all true then evolution has to logically follow.

  • Re:The Lemov Test (Score:5, Insightful)

    by firewood ( 41230 ) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @11:47PM (#11356486)
    Since putting the sticker violated rules (2) and (3), it was deemed to be unconstitutional.

    Removing the sticker also violates rule (2) and (3). How are you supposed to believe that the Great Pumpkin poofed the world into being atop the Giant Turtle with all the public schools forcing these scientific theories down your throat as absolute fact.

    Only by stating the evolution (or creationism) is merely a strongly (weakly) supported scientific theory, are we Great Pumkin worshippers not inhibited in holding our silly beliefs, and thus entangling the schools into endorsing atheism or agnosticism.

  • Re:Interesting... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DShard ( 159067 ) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @11:47PM (#11356487)
    Or more interesting what is the hypothesis that we can test? We have yet to see anything out of the "evolution didn't happen" camp to even test.

    The continuing problem with religous conviction is that it presupposes fact. Science, on the other hand, assumes denial. If you come up with the hypothesis "God's tears cause thunder." you need to prove God. You may be able to (as possibilty may allow) but you need to be smarter than _many_ that have come before you.

    If we reduce the argument to "Variation of life on earth couldn't exist without a guiding ${THING}". Then presumption is that ${THING} is god, but you can't do that because your hypothesis didn't include that. Change the hypothesis to include God and you are stuck with the proof-of-god conundrum again.

    At some point you have to include assumption which isn't science, rather subjective reality. You can not prove it objectively, therefore we can't agree on it and it is not testable.
  • Re:Creationist? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dimensio ( 311070 ) <darkstar.iglou@com> on Thursday January 13, 2005 @11:48PM (#11356499)
    The motive is transparent by virtue of the fact that no one is asking for similar disclaimers for other theories, such as atomic theory, gravitational theory or germ theory.

    If that weren't enough, a look at the groups behind the disclaimers should remove all doubt of motive.
  • by Port-0 ( 301613 ) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @11:54PM (#11356604)
    It never ceases to amaze me how dogmatic slashdotters are about their belief in science. You put the right wing christians to shame!
  • by geomon ( 78680 ) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @11:55PM (#11356607) Homepage Journal
    Can they reproduce evolution in the labs? No.

    That doesn't mean the theory is false. There are observations that can only be explained "scientifically" by evolution.

    Atomic theory explains how neutrons, electrons, and protons interact. Does that mean they don't exist?
  • Re:Interesting... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by myowntrueself ( 607117 ) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @11:56PM (#11356631)
    "The difference between a theory and a law is that a law can be absolutely proven, a theory cannot."

    I don't think so; a 'Law' in science is most usually an axiom (because it cannot be proven but seems self evident).

    Take Newtons umpteenth law of motion "Every action has an equal and opposite reaction"

    Try to construct an experiment which would disprove it.

    Its logically impossible because the structure of the statement is of the form;

    "For every X there exists some Y such that P(X,Y)"
    where X is a predicate on X and Y.

    which is not disprovable without exhaustive testing case by case.

    It follows the exact same pattern as Freuds "Every dream is a neurotic symptom".
  • by nfg05 ( 638727 ) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @11:56PM (#11356636)
    I go to a high school in the Cobb County School System (I'm a senior now), and I'm embarassed that we're even having this discussion. It's especially frustrating for me as my college applications are being reviewed and my school system is in the headlines for making everyone here like a bunch of crazy religious idiots. Not everybody here feels the way these "parents" do about evolution; most of the reaction I see at my school about this issue is disgust and frustration over the stupidity of the whole thing. I hope that this won't negatively impact my future, maybe I'll get lucky and the admissions officers at the schools I'm applying to won't read the news today.
  • by Voxxel ( 147404 ) on Thursday January 13, 2005 @11:57PM (#11356645)
    What an utter load of crap. Where in the constitution does it say that you don't have the specific freedom to put stickers on a textbook? Exactly what part of the constitution was violated? And regardless, all theories of creation are just that: theories because we weren't there to witness it. Basically, this judge said 'oh no! free thinking! this sticker might cause a few neurons to fire. we can't have that can we?'
  • by Dimensio ( 311070 ) <darkstar.iglou@com> on Thursday January 13, 2005 @11:57PM (#11356648)
    Why not similar disclaimers on all other science texts? One for gravitational theory, one for the theory of relativity, one for atomic theory?

    Why single out evolution?

    It only states that Evolution is a theory regarding the origin of living things

    Actually, it's a theory regarding the origin and diversity of species. Evolution does not cover the ultimate origins of life, and the disclaimer is misleading in its wording.
  • Re: What? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by belmolis ( 702863 ) <billposer AT alum DOT mit DOT edu> on Thursday January 13, 2005 @11:58PM (#11356667) Homepage
    Evolution is accepted by a minority of the world.

    Really? My impression is that a rather large part of the world's population, quite probably a majority, accept evolution. Let's start with the Chinese, who comprise about a quarter. Add most Europeans and a large percentage of Americans and most Canadians. The only groups that I know of that are generally opposed to evolution are fundamentalist Protestants (Catholics and non-fundamentalist protestants accept evolution - I'm not sure about the Orthodox and monophysite churches) conservative Muslims, and some Hindus. And those Hindus who do not accept evolution have quite a different version of creationism from the Christians and Muslims.

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

    by jellomizer ( 103300 ) * on Thursday January 13, 2005 @11:59PM (#11356684)
    There is Strong Evidence towards Evolution but it is still a theory. With our current scientific observations Evolution is the most likely way that things happen. But still science in the past have rational theories with strong evidence then in the future there is new evidence that proves them wrong. Science changes over time. Heck humans could have came from mutated bacteria that was strikes with lighting and placed in radiation. And all this random chance created a person, which makes the odds even more slim that our DNA was just really close to the great apes. There is little evidence to support this and my theory is near impossible to occur but not quite there is a 1*10^-(9*10^(9*10^99999999999999999999999999999999 9999999)) chance that this could happen,
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14, 2005 @12:00AM (#11356693)
    I hereby propose the alternative gravitional theory.

    The is no force of gravity, anyone who believes in a force of gravity is an evil heathen.

    God's angels move things towards the earth, God has enough angels to hold things and move them around in the sky. Yes by his word the angel's do everything .. the evil gravitationalist atheists are trying to make you think there are "fundamental forces" and all.

    But ask anyone and they have no idea why gravity works the way it does.

    We need physics books to say taht gravity is just a theory, it cannot be proven that gravity has been happening the same way for millenia or that it will contnue to happen the way recorded in textbooks.

    The same way he put fake dinosaur skeletons for us to find, God has made it look like there are objects in the sky that play along with this gravity force. It's all a test to see who the non believers are.

    One day, if God gets angry at us he might change how gravity works and we may all float off into space.

    -Rev. Anonymat Cowardson
  • by Spoonito ( 849497 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @12:00AM (#11356695)
    lieut data writes: "If you can't observe it, there is no way you can prove it. End-of-story."

    To me, this treads danegrously close to the same arguments used in Holocaust Denial. Just because something occured in the past doesn't mean there's no evidence in the present to corroborate or disprove said event.

    Michael Shermer gives some excellent incite into these topics, and why "If you can't observe it, you can't disprove it" is a fallicy. l
  • by grub ( 11606 ) <> on Friday January 14, 2005 @12:01AM (#11356705) Homepage Journal
    That theory is backed by an awful lot of data both observed and learned from repeatable experiments. Damn cultists.
  • by thewiz ( 24994 ) * on Friday January 14, 2005 @12:02AM (#11356711)
    I've watched this debate with a great deal of interest and have laughed at the antics of those who want to push creationism on everyone.

    I was raised in a Roman Catholic family and went to a Catholic high school. Funny thing is they taught us EVOLUTION, not creationism, in science class. We discussed the creation story in theology and how it was a metaphor for evolution since the people who were inspired to write the Bible didn't have the knowledge to understand evolution.

    When will the people who want to put stickers like this in textbooks get the clue that trying to put science under the purvue of religion is a bad idea. Remember what happened to Galileo? When a group of people persecute others that don't agree with their idea of the "truth", we have tyrany.
  • Re:The Lemov Test (Score:3, Insightful)

    by GISGEOLOGYGEEK ( 708023 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @12:03AM (#11356727)
    Of course since the Patriot Act breaks the 4th and 6th amendments ... and you dumbass americans have not overthrown your government in response to stealing those rights from you ... as it is your responsibility to do so ... the fact that the damn sticker may have violated the first amendment really doesnt matter.

    Your constituition has already been rendered meaningless.

  • Re: What? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14, 2005 @12:04AM (#11356734)
    It follows from the definition.

    From WordNet (r) 2.0 [wn]:

    n : a traditional story accepted as history; serves to explain
    the world view of a people
  • Re:Creationist? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by IrresponsibleUseOfFr ( 779706 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @12:05AM (#11356749) Homepage Journal

    It is a "creationist textbook sticker" because Intelligent Design is just a secular telling of creationism. It supposes an intelligent creator which we have no scientific evidence for except circularly ourselves and our surroundings which is at best specious. Secondly, it has a huge flaw with "first cause" since everything must come from something more intelligent so supposedly "The Creator" was created from a more intelligent "Creator" and so forth. Third, it is wrong, because it is easy for us to concieve of cases where we muddle with our DNA to create more intelligent human beings (which I believe to be just a matter of time). This goes directly against the notion of intelligent design where beings can only create things less intelligent.

    Evolution is a theory, but there is lots of evidence supporting it. We've observed "micro-evolution." What we haven't observed is "macro-evolution" but I guarantee that we'll know it when we see it. There is of course a problem with "first cause" but we exist so it has to be resolvable.

    Evolution is a theory in the sense that relativity is a theory or the theory of an atom. We don't preface the theory of the atom with a sticker and we shouldn't do evolution either. Students should think critically about it, but evolution does not deserve any special doubt just because it happens to disagree with certain religious texts. But, what I'm really tired of is people trying to return us to the dark ages.

  • Re:Interesting... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Facekhan ( 445017 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @12:05AM (#11356762)
    ID is just creationism with a new label to make it more palatable to the general public and not just fundamentalist lunatics. The only "scientists" working on ID are fundamentalist wack jobs whose PHD's were funded by Sun Moon (famous Cult leader) and others like him in an attempt to build support for ID by getting people with letters after their name say they agree with it even though those people are not actually involved in any "scientific" research, just fundamentalist lunacy.
  • by zephc ( 225327 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @12:08AM (#11356805)
    spontanious generation?

    You mean simple amino acids creating more complex ones, and taking a billion years to figure out the cool trick of replicating itself? No need for an invisible hand, just blind, drunken* inevitability. Though I wouldn't quite call it spontanious, unless you're speaking in geological timeframes.

    *Metaphorically speaking.
  • by sg3000 ( 87992 ) * <> on Friday January 14, 2005 @12:12AM (#11356853)
    > "God's existence is a theory, not a fact" on your bibles

    While I agree that Bible-thumping moderators shouldn't be modding down posts they don't agree with, I have to say that I disagree with the suggestion that with the sentiment above.

    Religion and belief in God is a matter of faith that transcends fact. Part of this debate starts when ignorant religious people think that science is somehow against them. The fact is that science and religion are about two different things. Science is about fact, while religion is about ethics, morality, and other things that are supposed to elevate us.

    One can't use science to "prove" religion any more than one can use religion to disprove science.
  • Yes, Creationist. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 955301 ( 209856 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @12:15AM (#11356887) Journal
    Do you live in Cobb County? Because the school superintendent also wanted the word "evolution" to be replaced with "biological changes over time". The whole thing is caused by people here misunderstanding that creationism isn't a theory. It's an ongoing argument propogated by media and people who think media coverage = credibility. If you catch the local religious stations here it would make your stomach turn to hear the logic behind the "fight".

    BTW, facts are used to confirm a hypothesis and move it to theory status. Just shows that those that came up with the text don't understand science at all.

  • by OldAndSlow ( 528779 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @12:15AM (#11356895)
    The trouble with the sticker is that it singles out evolution, and was put on the biology books to support a particular religous point of view. If every science book carried a sticker to the same effect, for example f = ma is a theory then I suspect that the entire endevor would pass constitutional muster, but it would also collapse under the weight of its own stupidity.

    Lots of people want humans to be special in the universe. Evolution pretty much trashes that. But they are not so conflicted as to take on the entire scientific establishment that produces obvious, powerful things like atomic bombs and internets. They think that they can cut evolution out of biology without destroying the entire fabric of modern science. But it won't work.

  • Re:Interesting... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14, 2005 @12:15AM (#11356896)
    "Intelligent Design" is a lie to placate weak minds. The universe couldn't give half a shit about you, me, or your silly superstitions.

  • by tehanu ( 682528 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @12:15AM (#11356897)
    On an interesting note, not all religions seem to come to the conclusion of creationism. Chinese myth has no creator and a popular stance taken by Chinese philosophers (esp. Taoist ones, well Confucian ones don't really care either way since these sort of esotoric things aren't really their concern) over the millenia is that logically an ultimate creator cannot exist. This then leads to extended discussions about why the universe exists, why we exist, the meaning of life, etc. but a creator doesn't feature in these discussions. The guy who 2 000 years ago basically did the Taoist equivalent of editing and arranging the New Testament (and according to rumour, left out tons of chapters he didn't like and wrote some of the most important ones) was an especially strong advocate of this position. Well, this is more philosophical Taoism rather than religious Taoism, but none of the Gods worshipped by Chinese are ultimate "Creators". All have some sort of finite origin and they can also be severely injured or even killed. So Creationism, as advocated by groups in the US, is not even a pro-religion stance, it is a pro-Judeo-Christian religion stance. Creationism is totally against the religious beliefs of deeply religious Chinese (well, actually they don't really care, but I just wanted to make a point).
  • by handmedowns ( 628517 ) <> on Friday January 14, 2005 @12:16AM (#11356915) Homepage
    When do we take *in god we trust* off the dollar bill. Isn't that govt sponsored?

    What about "One nation under god" in the Pledge?

    What do people swear in on when going under "oath" in the court room again?

    And you're telling me a sticker that states a FACT is unconstitutional.. heh..

    USA, land of the greedy and oblivious.
  • Re:Thank God! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by siriuskase ( 679431 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @12:21AM (#11356977) Homepage Journal
    The problem with the sticker is that it stated that a particular theory was not a fact. If they hadn't mentioned evolution, it wouldn't have been a "religious" issue.

    I do think kids should learn the difference between a theory and a fact. It should be a normal part of the curriculum, when the word is first introduced, it should be properly defined with a good explanation of why scientists rely on some theories so much that they seem to be facts.

    The word "theory" gets used too much as a synonym for hypothesis, fact, and wild speculation that I'm not surprised people get confused. Considering how much this word is used and misused, a proper lesson can be designed without any religous message that clarifies both religous and nonreligous discussions.
  • Re:Thank God! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Boronx ( 228853 ) <> on Friday January 14, 2005 @12:21AM (#11356978) Homepage Journal
    Who does a detective trust in a murder case? The physical evidence or the witness?
  • Re:Thank God! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mike260 ( 224212 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @12:21AM (#11356983)
    And when my hope is gone and I've been wounded in the battle He is all the strength that I will ever need.

    Best of luck with that mate, I'll be the one screaming "medic!" at the top of my lungs. Modern medicine may just be a theory but I reckon it's statistically a better bet than relying on His strength.

    Now, who wants to start a campaign to sticker bibles? Kids should be aware that the contents of that book are just a theory, and a pretty poorly supported one at that...
  • Re:Thank God! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Surazal ( 729 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @12:22AM (#11356991) Homepage Journal
    And you, sir, have demonstrated the healthy way to view this skeptically.

    It kind of reminds me of my favorite argument about the "Newton was Wrong" folks: No, he wasn't wrong. His equations were accurate to a certain point. If he had the ability to hurl apples to the ground at velocities comparable to light (and be able to measure the consequences), he would have certainly had the wherewithall to at least state "my basic theory breaks down at absurd velocities for some reason".

    Back to the main point: I think it's irresponsible to equate religion and science. The two are literally antitheses of each other. Religion demands adherence without proof. Science demands adherence only with proof.

    If things get somewhat heated I am tempted to say "there is no mention in the scriptures stating the Book of Genesis is a scientific paper." I haven't actually done so yet in conversation. I'm still waiting for the opportune moment. :^)
  • Good. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Transcendent ( 204992 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @12:22AM (#11356992)
    I totally agree with the ruling since it explicitly mentions a single theory, and does not give a good, general approach to the problem in whole.

    If it merely said "ALL theories about the origins of life are at best theories, and never facts or laws," then there would be no problem.

    Yes the sticker states the truth that evolution (Darwinism, I suppose... there ARE other theories) is only a theory, but it is the unique discrimination against a single theory that causes conflict, and thus I agree with the ruling.

    Would you have any problem with a sticker that said "[Gg]od cannot be scientifically proven to exist in any way, and the existence of [Gg]od should be approached with an open mind."? It does state a fact, but its intent is to in stow a specific mindset into the reader, thus skewing their perspective.
  • by Joseph_Daniel_Zukige ( 807773 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @12:23AM (#11357001) Homepage Journal
    Unless you attend a private school that requires them as a textbook, but attending a private school would seem to be by choice.

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

    by elmegil ( 12001 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @12:26AM (#11357053) Homepage Journal
    to impose a new religion on the kids.

    Anyone with a clue here at all?

    Apparently not you, since you can't distinguish science from religion.

  • Re:GOD IS DEAD (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JavaRob ( 28971 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @12:29AM (#11357089) Homepage Journal
    Year 1882: God is dead -- Nietzsche
    Year 1900: Nietzsche is dead -- God

    That's funny, but it doesn't actually make any sense when you think about it. Try this:

    Year 1882: "God is dead" -- Nietzsche
    Year 1900: "Nietzsche is dead" -- Newspaper
    "" -- God
  • by Ralph Spoilsport ( 673134 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @12:35AM (#11357152) Journal
    It explains evidence, and makes predictions. The predictions have been bourne out in the laboratory countless times.

    Gravity is a Theory as well, and it explains certain evidence (things fall). And those creationist retards who think that something is a theory is less true, can just engage in some defenestration and prove to us all how The Theory Of Gravity Isn't True, because it's a THEORY.

    Meanwhile, the rest of us will collect on your dead pool.

    Fundie religious people make me ill. They really are the bottom of the barrel of humanity- right there with militarists, rapists, and the TSA.

    Oddly, enough, I have a "spiritual" side to me, but it's smart enough to know that Science answers the question HOW, while Religion and Art answer the question WHY. And it is high time people made the distinction.

    But then, an indication of how completely lost the USA is, is to simply look at who's president - and I immediately experience diminished trust or hope that such a real enlightenment is possible with the present and dominant demographic and the dullwitted political inclinations it exhibits.

    This is NOT a Troll, or Flamebait - it's simple facts. Ooops. I'm sorry - Theory.


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

    by un1xl0ser ( 575642 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @12:37AM (#11357180)
    The main reason is that evolution is being singled out as the only thing that is a theory, which may discredit it without merit.

    All science is is theory. You can't "prove" anything. Why single out evolution or anything involving the origin of species?
  • Re:Creationist? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by grammar fascist ( 239789 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @12:37AM (#11357194) Homepage
    If that weren't enough, a look at the groups behind the disclaimers should remove all doubt of motive.

    The problem is that both sides of this debate muddy the waters.

    First, it seems that most biology textbooks never claim that their conjectures on the origin of life (not origin of species, which evolution claims) are only conjectures. They also never talk about how, as theories go, evolution (as the origin of species) is pretty weak. It does a decent job at explaining things, but has anyone seen it make a real prediction? Hmm... And some, in their haste to tell "their side," never mention unresolved issues with evolution, such as fossil record biases and the homochirality of certain molecules...

    Then, the other side won't entertain any idea that doesn't jive with their interpretation of the Bible. And when they discover an unresolved issue with evolution, they attack it with glee. They escalate the problem up to lawyers and politicians, who generally couldn't tell a proof from a theory from a fact from a conjecture...and you get crap attempts at compromise like the sticker in the front of the book.

    Personally, I'd just like to see more intellectual honesty in the textbooks - but too many scientists unfortunately have an agenda as much as the religionists do.
  • by erturs ( 648661 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @12:41AM (#11357249)
    Could the earth have been around millions, billions of years? No.

    There's plenty of evidence that the earth has been around that long. Certainly the universe has been -- just look up in the night sky and you'll see light from stars that are millions of light years away, so they've been in existence at least that long.

    (Or else the light was created in transit... in which case God wants the universe to look millions of years old, so there's no point in us trying to think otherwise!)

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

    by im_thatoneguy ( 819432 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @12:43AM (#11357277)
    Sorry but you only have two choices. If it wasn't by chance. Then you must accept it was of divine origins. The 'third' option: life is alien to this world, is simply pushing back the debate chronologically because that alien life must have come into being somehow.. which brings you back to random or divine. Divine can cirumvent the alien paradox since it could plausibily be beyond time etc etc...
  • Re:Yay! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NoMoreNicksLeft ( 516230 ) <`john.oyler' `at' `'> on Friday January 14, 2005 @12:47AM (#11357335) Journal
    What truth? That because we didn't use antibiotics wisely, we now have strains of infectious pathogens that are all but immune to most/all of these drugs?

    I suppose they didn't involve, rather God stepped in and created new superior bacteria as a punishment for heathen textbooks.
  • Re:Thank God! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14, 2005 @12:50AM (#11357371)
    Evolution is evolution. The distinction between micro and macro exists for convenience only. Evolution is a change in a species over time and that is all.
  • Re:Thank God! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 955301 ( 209856 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @12:50AM (#11357373) Journal

    Bible being God-breathed is a hypothesis, not a theory. A theory has been tested with facts. Lots of them.

    You would need a few facts to move this puppy along. I'd settle for hearing just one or two. But it's all faith-based. At some point, you have to tell yourself "I believe" instead of collecting details to prove it.

    The hypothesis that an entity other that human beings communicated the information in the Bible has not been tested. Ironically, it would have been nice to have had Science around in a mature state at the time to record enough details to actually do this.

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

    by zymurgyboy ( 532799 ) <zymurgyboy@yaSLA ... com minus distro> on Friday January 14, 2005 @12:53AM (#11357409)
    Funny. I don't ever recall seeing any such stickers on any of my mathematics text books when I majored in it back in college (I had/have a lot of them) and they are almost nothing but theories.

    To pretend the sticker was placed there as some altruistic warning with no religious agenda-pushing pretense is absurd and preposterous.

  • Re:Yay! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @12:56AM (#11357432) Homepage
    That depends on what you mean by "evolution". There are certainly evolutionary theories that are simply theories. The mechanisms of evolution, its characteristics, the predictions that can be made for the future -- all theory. On the other hand, "change and differentiation of species over time" is not a theory, it's a fact that we've observed and even caused countless times.

    This is similar to how General Relativity, or Newton's Theory of Gravity, are just theories. Yet gravity -- the attraction between masses -- is not a theory, it's a fact. The cause and nature of that attraction is what is theorized. Say Einstein's theory is just a theory, but don't tell me gravity is a theory when I can toss a ball into the air and watch it fall.

    The problem with the "evolution is just a theory" sticker is that while, on its face, it may seem to be a simple statement of scientific fact (that theories are always theories and can only be disproven) with a much broader and stronger statement -- that speciation itself is just a theory, and that an alternative "theory" is that every species was created as-is six or ten or whatever thousand years ago in one day by God.

    So when they say "evolution is just a theory", they're saying it because the existence of changes in species over time spans much longer than six thousand years contradicts their "theory". It's not enough that Punctuated Equilibrium be a falsifiable theory; the very idea that a species could over time develop into a different species must be false because a literal reading of Genesis implies it. The statement is based on religious dogma and is therefore a religious statement and therefore a violation of the First Ammendment.

    Other than that political reality, you're absolutely correct.
  • by ConsciousObjector ( 849445 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @01:01AM (#11357507)
    The Intelligent Design is an attempt by pseudo experts to hijack legitimate scientific skepticism and use it to further a religious dogma. Do a search for I.D. and you'll find a bevy of fundamentalist evangelicals supporting research to find SOME way that the Christian Bible is more literally true than most give it credit for.

    The really sad thing is that religion and science are NOT antitheses of one another. Millions of Americans, and billions around the world, are able to reconcile the theories of evolution with the respective faiths.

    Interestingly, the Islamic fundamentalists, Christian fundamentalists, Jewish fundamentalists, etc., etc. can all agree on this one thing. That and that everyone else is wrong too.

    Ridiculously large numbers of people polled say that "The theory of evolution doesn't explain everything." as if that somehow discredits the entire theory. In order for a theory to be widely accepted, it only has to be the best holistic explanation for phenomenon. So while it might be altered or improved upon in the future, it should be done by legitimate scientists, not crackpot jokers with ties to the Flat Earth Society.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14, 2005 @01:01AM (#11357521)
    The problem with the sticker is that evolution is both a theory and a fact. When Newton's theory of gravity was replaced with Einstein's theory of gravity, apples did not suspend themselves in mid-air during the process. Gravity is a fact and a theory. The theory describes how gravity works and the fact is that it exists. Anyone who thinks a sticker that says "Gravity is a theory not a fact" is a good idea should go jump off the nearest building and do us all a favor. The belief "evolution is a theory not a fact" is the belief of an idiot. School is not the place to endorse idiotic beliefs. Church is.
  • Re: What? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by belmolis ( 702863 ) <billposer AT alum DOT mit DOT edu> on Friday January 14, 2005 @01:05AM (#11357560) Homepage

    Well, to begin with I was talking about the world as a whole. Even if only a minority of Americans believe in evolution, Americans only make up 4.6% of the world's population. And indeed the same site [] that parent cites makes the point that:

    Belief in creation science seems to be largely a U.S. phenomenon.

    As to the US, yes, it is true that only a small minority accept a purely materialist view of evolution. However, evolutionists of some sort outnumber evolutionists, 49% to 44%. The question is what to make of the "theistic evolution" category. I would still include these people in the evolutionary camp. Without more detailed data one can't be sure, but this category presumably includes the official Roman Catholic view, on which evolution proceeded in essentially the way that materialist biologists believe it did, but God infused humans with souls at the point at which human beings evolved. So, although creationism is pretty common in the United States, belief in something like biblical creation is less common than belief in evolution.

  • Wrong Perspective (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Aguila ( 235963 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @01:07AM (#11357587)
    I must disagree with the parent's statement that religion and science are the antithesis of each other. I do wholeheartedly agree that religion and science are not the same, however, I do not believe that they are opposites, or must be opposed to each other. If they were, I'd have a major problem, because I am both a professional scientist, and a devout Catholic.

    In order to observe how science and religion are not opposed to each other, let me rename science and religion. I will call science the search for the truth about the universe. I will call religion the search for truth about creation, and worship of the Creator. (I admit that the way I phrased my definition of religion does not include all religions, as it should to be a proper defintition, but I don't know how to phrase it to be inclusive yet still specific.) I suspect that most people will agree that these definitions, while not perfect, are reasonable descriptions of what science and religion should be. Looking at these definitions, we see that science is compatible with religion. The universe is part of creation, and hence science is one part of the quest for Truth. (It can, perhaps, be argued that science can exist independant of religion, from the above definitions, but clearly they need not be opposed to each other.)

    Some may be inclined to counter this argument by expanding upon the parent's claim that "Religion demands adherence without proof," perhaps by providing examples. However, that still is not the true opposite of the statement that "Science demands adherence only with proof." For religion to be the true antithesis of the parent's definition of science, religion would demand adherence only with DISproof. You may be able to find religions that have tenets of their faith that have been disproved. I can also provide you evidence of improper science (cold fusion, ...). This merely shows that there is nonideal religion and nonideal science.

    Ideally, science and religion are not only compatible, but are both aspects of the search for Truth. While faith is an important part of religion, reason should be as well. Scientific inquiries will have a slightly different focus than religious inquiries, and should not accept certain sources (such as the bible or sacred Tradition) as proof. That is not a problem, as science is not religion. Nor, since religion is not science should it matter if religion has different standards for acceptance of a fact. As long as religion does not hold beliefs directly contrary to scientifically proven fact, the two remain compatible. For this reason, I can state, without compromising my integrity as a scientist or a Catholic, that I believe that God created evolution and man.
  • Only in the States (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Whiteout ( 828544 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @01:11AM (#11357638)
    ... could such an issue arise. I'm sympathetic, my left-wing intellectual American friends, but the world is laughing at you just a little bit harder.
  • by BillyBlaze ( 746775 ) <> on Friday January 14, 2005 @01:12AM (#11357644)
    All you need is a printer, some staples, and duct tape, and you could put that post in a book, an honest-to-goodness book! How can you question it then? It's in a book!!! It's even been blessed by DUCT TAPE!

    Honestly, it's plain as day: JanneM 1:1 -- Invisible magical blue-scaled lizard midgets. How can you not believe the book? It was written by the lizard-midgets themselves.

  • Re:Yay! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @01:19AM (#11357728) Homepage
    Make no mistake about it; there is a cultural war, and the ACLU, the scientific community and the debate over evolution is being used in an attempt to exterminate Christianity in public life.

    Don't be moronic. Yes, the ACLU has gone too far in enforcing separation of Church and State by hindering individual and consensual religious expression. No, the scientific community and the debate over evolution do not have anything whatsoever to do with exterminating Christianity. Sure, a lot of scientists are not Christian, but many are.

    The only reason evolution and the scientific community can be considered enemies of Christianity is because certain subsets of Christianity insist on promoting a dogmatic view of the world that contradicts basic facts. It's a silly as calling Galileo an enemy of God, when really he was only an enemy of the Church because he contradicted their dogma and thus undermined their secular authority. In reality the Church was simply wrong, not to mention hubristic in assuming that earth was the center of the universe.

  • by SilverStreak ( 574874 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @01:19AM (#11357729)
    what makes you think God should save innocent people from dying?
  • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @01:21AM (#11357748)
    Probably because it's not insightful. Actually, I take that back. It does give insight, just not where you think it does. Mind you I think the stickers were a dumb idea. But any objective person could immediately see that a textbook paid for by public monies that's legally required reading is not at all analagous to a book purchased in private and read voluntarily. That you failed to notice this rather obvious difference gives insight into your lack of objectivity on the topic.

    Objectivity and rational thinking mean you have to appraise each situation presented to you on its own merits. You cannot pigeonhole comparisons into categories you've already pre-judged (e.g. evolution good, creationism bad). If you do that, you make the same logical errors you so often accuse the other side of making.

  • Re:The Lemov Test (Score:4, Insightful)

    by devnullkac ( 223246 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @01:21AM (#11357751) Homepage

    The Patriot Act does not, of course, break the 4th or 6th amendments, though it may be incompatible with them. One of the many strengths of the United States Constitution is that it provides for a resolution to this kind of problem that is well short of overthrowing the government, specifically, appealling court decisions which involve the Patriot Act until a court is reached which has the scope to rule on that compatibility. Our responsibility, which we do not take lightly, is to avail ourselves of the remedies which exist under law before discarding law in favor of outright revolution.

    A lesser nation might have devolved into chaos following a court ruling that decided a tight presidential race. But in the US, those that disagreed with the decision value the consitutional process too much to discard it when the outcome isn't to their liking.

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

    by Pooua ( 265915 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @01:27AM (#11357821) Homepage
    Thinking critically is the foundation of science. Faith is the realm of mysticism.

    I would love to see some examples of biological textbooks advocating critical thinking of evolution. Instead of that, the textbooks present a history of events involving the theory, and explain evolutionary theory, but do nothing for showing weaknesses in evolutionary theory. The closest we get to critical thinking are short, amusing anectdotes involving Lamarckism.

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

    by MrCreosote ( 34188 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @01:31AM (#11357860)
    Evolution is a fact in that we know it occurs and it has been seen occuring.

    The Theory(ies) of evolution seek to describe the various forms of evolution and how they work.

    It is the same as the fact of gravity (gravity exists and we observe it to exist) and the various theories of gravity (what are the physical mechanisms that cause what we call gravity)
  • Re:Thank God! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 955301 ( 209856 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @01:31AM (#11357862) Journal
    It's sad because the county government legislated this sticker into place. It's sad because this isn't the first or last time this will occur. It's sad that you don't understand that evolution *is* a theory. It's sad that you don't understand that the reaction you see from "Evolutionists" is a response to your adamant endorsement of one of the various creationist hypothesis' without it being tested by the involved fact finding put into the biologies.

    Macroevolution is observed by piecing together snapshots of time, since we were not here to record it's going's on throughout earth's life.

  • Suckers (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Kenrod ( 188428 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @01:37AM (#11357918)
    Wow! When I read this headline, I knew the liberal /. crowd would be creaming in their jeans over this one. But this is beyond my wildest dreams - it's geek ORGY time!

    First of all, I think evolution is a fact - clearly, natural selection has been observed, beneficial mutation has been observed, the there's the fossil record where more primitive organisms are found in older strata - many posters here are arguing the fact vs. theory angle of this story. It doesn't matter, you're all missing the point.

    You've been suckered. All of you gloaters.

    Don't you KNOW how this plays in Anytown USA?

    Liberal judges telling our kids what they can learn. Dictating that our communities can't be critical of secular humanist dogma. Silencing the will of the people. Good, hardworking, tax-paying people - all told to shut up and sit down.

    They are the kind of people who will remember this on election day. They will remember who is trying to run their communities from the Bench.

    SUCKERS. Republican margins just went up another 0.5%.

    You should have let them have their little sticker - what did it hurt, really? Afraid a few kids might reject evolution in favor of some religious alternative? Guess what, they were going to do it anyway.

    Instead you have given the Right ANOTHER rallying point.

    And you wonder why you lose elections. SUCKERS.
  • Re:Thank God! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Londovir ( 705740 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @01:38AM (#11357932)

    No, evolution is not fact. This is the common misconception. Evolution, as stated in the sticker, is a theory, albeit a very well satisfied theory in terms of being supported by empirical evidence. The reality, though, is that it isn't completely verifiable, and that's why it isn't a fact.

    You want to make a distinction between the why and the how in your statement; evolution is a fact, but how evolution works is a theory. You can't do that in science, it's part and parcel the same thing. Evolution wraps itself into that argument quite neatly, and there's the problem with calling it a fact.

    If evolution is fact, and only the mechanism of its operation is a theory, how do you attribute the ultimate origin of all species? You clearly feel that evolution (the effect) is unassailable and obvious based on fossil records and other data. Thus one must then ask, in the realm of the evolution field, from what did everything evolve? As you said, unless species happened to spawn from thin air, they all descended from earlier species. What did they all come from? It's a recursive definition, and all recursive definitions should have a terminating point. Evolution's inability to satisfy that terminating point is what makes evolution a theory, and not a fact. As a theory is defined, it is an explanation to describe a set of observable natural occurances, which has been tested and approved. The fossil record helps to test and approve evolution, but it doesn't make it a given fact or truth. (It just makes it the far most likeliest of theories out there...)

    Oh, and in case anyone is wondering, I do happen to believe in evolution. But, as in everything in science, I reserve the right to change my mind in case someone comes up with a better test that blows a hole in the theory.

  • by paperclip2003 ( 732025 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @01:39AM (#11357941)
    Science is the process of elimination:

    1) I have a theory
    2) Poke holes in theory (Try to disprove, not prove anything)
    3) Make the theory better -- fit the facts that distroyed my first theory, then repeat until hopefully we got it right!

    1) I believe something -- therfore it is!
    2) See 1

    I would say that is like comparing Apples to Oranges. Science is great because it is ever changing. Religion is great because it is comfortable and never changes (much). With that said, if you are going to teach evolution and creationism, which versions do you teach and how? Wouldn't it better to teach children to think instead of ideas?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14, 2005 @01:40AM (#11357957)
    Yeah, but I pay for a public school's textbooks. You don't pay for my bible.

    That will change with school vouchers.

  • Well, until you multiply the this by the size of the universe (effectively infinity) and the length of time in which this has to occur (also something like inifinity). Then it's occurrence seems pretty much inevitable.
  • by Associate ( 317603 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @01:46AM (#11358003) Homepage
    Evolution is a theory, not a fact.
    Creationism is a superstition, not a fact.
  • Re:Yay! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by WhiplashII ( 542766 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @01:47AM (#11358012) Homepage Journal
    Do you not believe in the seperation of church and state?

    I believe in it very strongly, and in a perfect world it would not be a problem for all theories to be taught in school, including the theory that NASA uses earthquakes to overrun minor dictators. In that perfect classroom, the teacher would explain all available information, and then teach critical thinking - and let the student interpret the facts.

    This perfect classroom is not the norm, however. In most classrooms (and for most students), what the teacher teaches is not to be questioned - it is just to be accepted. This leads to discussions like the one we are having here - where you are convinced that anyone that does not agree with you is wrong, and I am convinced that I am right.

    In a democracy, we have decided that moral decisions should be made to favor the majority. The majority does not think that evolution has less "evidence" than deity. The reason you disagree is that you throw out their "spiritual evidence", because you believe it to be faulty. That is your right as a sentient being... however using the courts to overule the decisions of the majority is wrong. Most people believe differently than you do. You think you are right, and everyone else is wrong, fine. But then you try to enforce your superiority on others - that is the ultimate arrogance.

    Of course, these comments are not directed to you as a person, more to the group (such as the ACLU) that seems to think the way you do.

  • Blaaah. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tehdaemon ( 753808 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @01:52AM (#11358055)
    First, you are seriously mixing scientific definitions and common english definitions of 'fact' and 'theory'. Scientific theories never become scientific facts. Scientific facts are 'I let go of the lead weight 26 times, and it fell down 26 times.' Scientific theories are 'lead weights always fall because their mass is attracted to the mass of the earth' Neither Newton's nor Einstein's theories have, or ever will become scientific facts. They may become common english 'facts', but from a scientific standpoint that is meaningless.

    Second, Evolution is both a scientific fact and theory. It is a fact in that we have observed fruit flies, bacteria, and to a much more limited extent, plants and animals evolve. There are documented cases of new species arising.[1] These are observed facts. Evolution is a scientific theory in that scientists use the fact of evolution and say that that is how all species came about, and eventually life itself.

    Whether or not the evolutionary theory is correct or not is not even a scientific fact. All scientific facts are 'observed'. No one was around to observe the beginning of life, or the origin of all species. Hence, where and how they started are not, and will never be, scientific facts.

    "What else is a fact but the best possible conclusion based on the evidence?"

    Not a bad common english definition of fact. However, in science, this kind of 'fact' is called 'the best theory so far'. The scientific 'facts' are the evidence you talked about, not the conclusion.

    [1]The one in particular that I remember is a plant that was a weird genetic screwup hybrid of two related species. The result has more chromasomes than it's parents, cannot polinate them or be polinated by them, and is successfully propogating on its own. Lab expieriments comfirmed that this new species was the result of crossbreeding.

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

    by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @01:55AM (#11358086) Journal
    How many textbooks on evolution have you actually read?

    As to the sticker, it was nothing but a Fundementalist Christian attempt to foist a truly discredited bit of nonsense upon students. It's a victory for reason over religious mumbo-jumbo.
  • Re:Thank God! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rainman_bc ( 735332 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @01:55AM (#11358089)
    I want to know who on gods green earth OBSERVED monkeys turning into humans.

    As opposed the highly probably theory of Noah's ark being beached and somehow the Kangaroos and Koalas all flew to Australia, and only Australia. Get real.

    Or the even more likely theory of the tower of Babel where man all spoke the same language until they pissed off god by building an architectural improbability to get to a place where god [today] no longer really is? Yeah that makes way more sense than: man speaks different languages because the world is diverse and others have come up with different means to solve the communication issue.

    Yeah, tower of Babel. Right. Good theories you believe in. Next you'll tell us it's an analogy and didn't really happen.

    Grab a brain and think for yourself.
  • Re:Just to be Safe (Score:4, Insightful)

    by aderusha ( 32235 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @01:58AM (#11358126) Homepage
    google up "pascal's wager" - you've made one of the oldest (and throughly disproven) arguments for religon ever.

    do you really think that the best reason to believe in a god is to treat it as a hedge bet against eternal damnation?
  • both are theories (Score:2, Insightful)

    by xtermz ( 234073 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @02:00AM (#11358148) Homepage Journal
    both are theories. two strike one down over the other is outright wrong....

    in other news, the word of God is real. What he said may have just been transcribed so our simple minds, at the time, can comprehend it.

    I'm a man of science, yet I am also a man of faith. The two are NOT mutually exclusive... ...i await the negative karma this post will endure
  • Re:Yay! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @02:06AM (#11358203) Homepage
    Too, I'll have to ask you why if evolution is the exact science, why are there still monkies around?

    Shouldn't they have evolved as well?

    They did.

    Why don't dolphins have thumbs by now?

    Why would a dolphin need thumbs? They are perfectly well adapted to their environment. They are the top of their food chain.

    Why can't rats talk yet?

    Why should rats be able to talk? Rats are superbly adapted, and will probably outlast us. We couldn't wipe out the rats if we tried, so what evolutionary pressure is there to drive them to talk?

    These are all questions based on a naive understanding of evolution based on the simple phrase "survival of the fittest". The seems to imply to people that if some adaptation (e.g. thumbs, speech, being able to fly, mutant super-powers) is or would be helpful, then that adaptation will necessarily arise and dominate. This is simply untrue.

    A more accurate and revealing phrase might be "survival of the sufficiently fit". If a species is able to find food and procreate successfully then there is little pressure to change. Most mutations and new features are detrimental, not beneficial. Even if a "good" feature arises it will not necessarily spread and dominate if the rest of the species is able to do fine as they are. Even flaws -- sickle cell anemia, our vestigal appendix -- can survive if they aren't sufficiently damaging that they prevent survival (or in the case of sickle cell, can have benefits such as increased resistance to malaria).

    You might as well ask why humans can't fly. We do just fine on the ground, thank you very much.

    On the other hand, environmental pressure can quickly result in adaptation. Here [] is a fascinating example: poisonous toads imported to Australia were multiplying like crazy and killing the local predators that tried to eat them. Since their arrival in the 30's, a couple species of snakes have adapted to be able to more saftely eat these frogs. You see, snakes without the correct trait were not sufficiently fit and the pressure to change was huge.

    Evolution is not an exact science -- the main theory for new features arising is random mutation of DNA! Questioning evolution because rats can't talk or because monkies can't fly and don't have laser eye beams is misunderstanding the point.
  • by Tekoneiric ( 590239 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @02:11AM (#11358242) Journal
    I'm not religious but it seems to me that the religious people are missing the real issue. It's not creation vs evolution; it's controlled evolution vs uncontrolled evolution. Evolution is a fact but the real question is if it was directed by an some unknown entity(s) (god, aliens, etc) or by chaotic enviromental conditions.
  • by stephenhawking ( 571308 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @02:12AM (#11358249) Homepage
    It's also been proven that evolution takes place, and is responsible for biodiversity on the planet earth.

    Much like gravity, there are theories to describe evolution, and there's also the fact of evolution. Just as the effect of gravity is not in dispute, the process of evolution is not in dispute. There are multiple theories describing gravity, relativity, quantum mechanics, etc., but apples will not stop falling to the earth while we decide which one is the most accurate.

    Evolution has been observed, and the evidence in support of it is overwhelming. Modern biologists do not really debate whether evolution occurs or not, but are instead concerned with the mechanisms by which it does occur. Evolution is a SCIENTIFIC theory, which means it is testable, can make predictions etc. In this regard, even scientific theories which are known to be wrong can still be useful. For instance, even though we know that Newton's theory of gravity is inferior to later theories, it is still accurate enough in it's predictions to guide spacecraft to Jupiter and beyond, and is very useful in these areas. So downplaying the importance of a MAJOR SCIENTIFIC theory like evolution is misleading to average people who apparently often have little understanding of how science works.

    Creationism, on the other hand, is not a scientific theory. It starts by assuming that there is a creator, and in making such an assumption goes against the fundamental tenets of science. To suggest to our children that this psuedo-science garbage is a worthy alternative to evolution does them an incredible disservice.
  • by merdark ( 550117 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @02:13AM (#11358261)
    And DNA evidence, showing *absolutely clearly* that evolution is taking place is not good enough for you? While we may not know all the details of how evolution works, there is abundant evidence showing that evolution is a good theory. FAR more evidence than global worming or theories about the fall of the Roman empire. It's used every day to make better drugs and understand how desieases work. There is no alternative theory which can take it's place.

    In that light, arguing over how much evidence there is for evolutoin is actually besides the point. The people who want these stickers want to teach a non-scientific idea that has no place in a science class.

    Creationism is *not* an alternative theory. It can't be used to make any sort of prediction which makes it utterly useless as far as a scientific theory. Just like other philisophical ideas, it should be taught in a philosophy class.

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

    by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @02:22AM (#11358340)
    Is it really that big of a stretch to say that if a small change occurs over a small period of time, then if you multiply the time factor by a billion, you would experience larger changes? That seems totally obvious to me. Is there any known mechanism for limiting the extent of the changes? What constitutes a large change vs a small change?

    I really don't see the distinction.

    You should. Microevolution can have two sources: genetic variation, or mutation. The oft-cited case of light-colored moths changing to dark-colored moths due to pollution darkening tree bark is genetic variation. Dark-colored moths already existed prior to pollution - the genes for it were already present in the gene pool. All that happened was the environment favored one genetic variation over the other, changing the relative frequency of those genes in the population. I don't think anyone questions genetic variation. But you can vary the frequency of genes in the gene pool forever, and you'll never develop new species.

    Macro-evolution can only come from mutation - the creation of new genes that weren't previously present in the gene pool. The best example of mutation is probably the annoying cold virus that comes up with a new, hithertoo never seen variant every year. Or bacteria which are beginning to develop resistance to our antibiotics faster than we can make new ones. The question then is does this happen quickly enough and often enough in a beneficial manner to allow the development of all the species we see today?

    There's evidence that points to the answer being "yes," but it's a far cry from "proof" as with genetic variation. The attitude of most biologists I've met seems to be: A) Macro-evolution exists, B) There is no other mechanism by which we could come into being (i.e. there is no god), C) We exist. Therefore quite obviously that's proof that macro-evolution is the process by which we exist. That conclusion may be likely, and it may even be true, but that reasoning is hardly proof. Remember, Occam's razor only tells you which answer is more probable, it doesn't tell you which answer is right.

    In science, correlation studies which find trends or possible links are a dime a dozen. High school students do them for science fair probjects all the time. Causation studies which prove a mechanism by which something occurs are much, much harder to pull off. We give Nobel prizes for them.

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

    by orangesquid ( 79734 ) <{orangesquid} {at} {}> on Friday January 14, 2005 @02:38AM (#11358456) Homepage Journal
    Dogma sucks. Always. Regardless of who is eating or regurgitating it.

    Going by from what I have found in my own research...

    Evolution by itself *is* just a theory (a hypothesis with support). We have observed evolution: that is a fact. We have observed speciation by evolution: that is also a fact. We have oodles of historical information which suggests evolution occured, and which would allow for speciation to have occured: that is a fact, too. There is not an overwhelming amount of historical evidence that speciation by evolution *was* the dominant means for the creation of new species; in other words, there aren't colossal numbers of near-identical fossils with only very tiny intermediate changes. We have very few direct observations of any kind of rapid, sudden, severe evolutionm, which might explain historical speciation. It is quite likely that many, many fossils are lost; only a scant numbers of fossils will stay preserved this long. It is also quite likely that evolution happens much more quickly from severe natural disasters (if we see a few new species with much better adaptation of water from the recent tsunami, I will not be surprised).

    Creationism by itself is *just* a hypothesis (a suggestion which would become a theory with adequate support). There is historical evidence of many things in the bible being true; however, that does not imply that the biblical story of creationism carries any weight. If someone could come up with data that would suggest that the immediate results of such a creation process are clearly present within the history of the early universe, creationism could qualify as a theory.

    You have to be careful with calling something a "fact." There are very few general facts about evolution. One is, "We have observed evolution and speciation by evolution in controlled environments." Another is, "There is overwhelming historical evidence to suggest evolution and speciation have occured." Theories are never facts (except in pure mathematics), but facts can support theories, and theories can be used to design new experiments which will create more relevant facts.

    I do not know, off of the top of my head, if the formal definition of evolution is worded like, "Small changes in organisms lead to adaptation to their environment" (implying always), or, "Small changes in organisms could lead to adaptation in their environment" (implying that this is a possibility, but not a requirement). The first is a theory stated as a law, the second is a theory stated as a possible explanation. I'm assuming that, when most people refer to evolution, they refer to the suggestion that evolution, as an explanation, ought to be taken as a law, based on the Wikipedia entry for Evolution, which states, 'The word "evolution" is often used as a shorthand for the modern theory of evolution of species based upon Darwin's theory of natural selection. This theory states that all species today are the result of an extensive process of evolution that began over three billion years ago with simple single-celled organisms, and that evolution via natural selection accounts for the great diversity of life, extinct and extant.'

    Creationism, as stated in the Bible, is very improbable. An all-powerful God could, of course, spontaneously create a Universe, complete with a history of dinosaurs, and complete with planets shooting away from each other as if there had once been a big bang; this suggests that, if the Universe is really only a few thousand years old, God has a great sense of humor.

    However, if the creation story is intended to be a metaphor, then who cares? Comparing known scientific data with a literary metaphor means nothing, because a metaphor is just a literary device used to describe the nature of something else. Of course, some could argue that it is an inaccurate metaphor [], because of the way we are interpreting our translation of the original Jewish text.
  • Re:Thank God! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Citizen of Earth ( 569446 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @02:44AM (#11358504)
    Evolution is a very slow process; we don't need to observe it to determine that its a fact.

    We have observed evolution in action. The Bible doesn't mention anything about God creating a bunch of new, drug-resistant bacteria over the past 40 years, does it? The bacteria that survive our antibiotics have certain characteristics and mutations that allow them to survive and breed by natural selection for being fittest to survive in the environment in which they find themselves (our medicated bodies). And they breed like crazy, so their evolution is greatly accelerated compared to what we are used to.

    Of course, what little the Bible says about the subject is so abstract that it can twisted to survive scientific enlightenment. This is evolution at work, also. Maybe God created all the animals simply by zapping some amino acids with lightning and let the rest be done by natural selection. Maybe he set it all in motion by creating the big bang so he could just phone in the rest.

    Christ was actually quite set against organized religion; he got into his troubles for mocking the orthodoxy and telling people to make their spirituality an individual thing rather than kneeling in pews and chanting by rote. I think Christ would be quite appalled by the religion that carries his name.

    While on the subject, the committee that formed the whole of the religious canon of Christianity did so from a narrow selection of letters written by fanatical cult members over three hundred years earlier. Christ's divinity was decided by a (non-unanimous) majority vote of the men present. Much of the body of the Bible was written in letters by a schizophrenic who was born a hundred years after Christ's death.

    Religion is one of the better examples of evolution around. They all interbreed and mutate to survive their environment. Stoned any gays lately? Or adulterers?
  • by Thangodin ( 177516 ) <.ac.ocitapmys. .ta. .ratnele.> on Friday January 14, 2005 @02:49AM (#11358552) Homepage
    Telling school children that scientific theory is just theory is a game of dishonest semantics. The sense of the word theory in a scientific context is quite different from its common usage. In everyday usage, theory means an opinion based upon sketchy evidence. In science, a theory remains a theory no matter how well founded--even when everyone agrees that it is a fact. Gravity is a theory. Changing your mind about it will not give you the power to fly. To confuse the two meanings deliberately in a children's textbook, as this does, is a deliberate lie.

    All over the world, religious adherents are using the old arguments of postmodernism to try to discredit science wherever it contradicts their beliefs. They are not engaging in scientific debate, but in meta-debates, using methods from literary criticism to paint science as mere opinion and orthodoxy. They are not talking about evidence. They are arguing that evidence itself is irrelevant. And they are not talking to scientists, who have already heard all their arguments and refuted them soundly. They are talking to people without any scientific knowledge, preferrably as young as they can get them. From the sound of some of the responses on this post, they've been talking to a lot of the people here. The goal is political. They can't refute science, but if they get enough votes, they can outlaw it.

    I'm not kidding about this. The strategy is called The Wedge [], and the long term goal (we're talking in terms of generations here) is to encourage a widespread attitude of distrust towards science and skeptical thinking. The have identified science, quite correctly, as the greatest threat to the type of magical thinking required for fundamentalist religions. Muslim and Hindu extremists have come to the same conclusion, as have a horde of New Age con men and fortune tellers, and are fighting for the same goal; the disparagement of science and the scientific method.

    Anyone here who does not think that the scientific method works, throw out your computer now. And your car, all your appliances, hell, you should probably burn your house, because all of these things, the way they're made, the materials they are made of, are possible because of science. You probably would not be alive without the medicine and food that scientific advances have made possible. Think of the number of people who just died in the Asian Tsunami who would have lived if there had been an early warning system. Ignorance kills.

    And if you think that evolution is just a theory or 'pseudo-scientific propaganda', that there are lots of arguments against it and its on shaky ground, then you haven't bothered to read the literature. I'm sorry, but all the arguments against it advanced by ID theorists and Creationists have been answered [], and there is no alternative theory that has anywhere near the same volume of evidence to support it. If you don't know this, I suspect you either don't care to know it, or would refuse to acknowledge any evidence no matter how sound.
  • Re:Thank God! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tyler_larson ( 558763 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @03:03AM (#11358650) Homepage
    This is bad. Very bad. Theories of evolution aside (I happen to agree with the text book, not the stikers), this decision is a direct and flagrant violation of the constitution.

    The text of the message: "This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered." contains no endorsement or condemnation of any religion, religious belief, or religious practice. The statement itself cannot be deemed a violation of the required separation of church and state. Had the statement actually endorsed a creationist idea, the case would be very different.

    The statement was added because of the compliants of the parents of the students who will be using those books. This behavior isn't unheard of--it happens every year with regards to sex ed and other "touchy" subjects that parents' children study in school. It's important that it wasn't the pastors, rabbis, or TV evangelists who pressured the school board, it was the parents. The sticker was a direct result of the desires of the actual members of that school district, not any religion or religious organization. Parents are totally within their rights to argue with the school board, regardless of their religion.

    The judge in this case ruled the stickers unconstitutional because of the religion of the people who supported it. "Bah," you may say. But think about it. The judge took up against the "religious" side because the issue is sometimes a point of religious conflict. This is exactly the sort of behavior the constitution prohibits.

    If you still don't see anything wrong with this picture, it's because you don't understand the meaning or purpose behind the separation of church and state. This amendment to the constitution was put in place forbid the government from oppressing any individual because of his religion. It is by considering atheism "yet another valid religious belief" that this religious protection is extended to them as well. And since athiesm is just another religion, it must be protected, but it cannot be favored. All religious beliefs, even the ones that don't call themselves "religious", must be given equal rights.

    What's wrong with this case is that it's an example of a judge ruling for a religion (the atheists), and not because there was anything wrong with the stickers. They neither promoted nor condemned any religion--or lack thereof. They only questioned a scientific principle. And it's not unconstitutional to question a principle--no matter how wrong you may be. Rather, the judge ruled against the "religious" because of their religion. The ruling was made as if the judge believed atheism to be the official religion of the state, to be promoted at the expense of others.

    If you're an athiest, you probably still don't see anything wrong with it. So how about this:

    Let's say that instead the issue at hand is a geography book, written by Christians, that said that Saudi Arabia is an ugly place that the world could do without. Some local Muslims take offsense and get the school board to put a sticker on the book that says, "This book contains some statements about the value of certain locations that are based solely on the authors own taste, and which should be approached with an open mind."

    In such a case, can a judge declare those stickers unconstitutional because they tend to support an idea which some Muslims see as a religious issue. The issue at stake isn't whether Saudi Arabia really is ugly or not. Likewise, the previous arguement isn't really about evolution. It's about the government taking sides on an issue just because a religion supports or opposes it.

  • Re:Creationist? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Unordained ( 262962 ) <> on Friday January 14, 2005 @03:18AM (#11358747)
    ... and then I read stories from (through my handy-dandy slashdot sidebar) and every single article quotes some scientist or other (and sometimes several) making a point of saying that whatever was just said is only a "lead" or "partial evidence" or "theory" ...

    People just need to be more honest in general, really. The problem is that science is, by definition, only about theories -- that's just how it works. If we want to be "fair", then every textbook that tries to tackle the history of anything will have to include every single point of view, including swords being dipped into pre-existing seas to form islands. And there's no truly objective way for us to pick just a few and drop the rest of these "theories".

    The distinctive factor in science is self-testing. If you find out your theory doesn't fit the facts, then it doesn't fit the facts and you need to start over or adjust. You may come out with some really nasty functions by the end, but so long as they fit the facts (past/present/future,) they're as good as any other theory. We just prefer simpler ones, by custom. Science is about making models that fit the facts, and revising those models when they're obviously wrong (which does depend on observation, which admittedly is a gray area.) Religion doesn't change to match available data points; it simply declares them wrong/invalid/misinterpreted until you can't prove religion wrong.

    My brother, my girlfriend, and I went to a baptist church meeting in oklahoma one weekday night to hear a talk to the local congregation about evolution. We'd gotten the flyer, figured it could be fun -- and we were pretty much unemployed with nothing better to do than get free entertainment. The guy was attempting to prove the science was always false because it sometimes changed its mind to fit the facts -- because it couldn't guarantee it was true from the get-go, it was forever wrong. Somehow, that didn't keep him from using pseudo-scientific evidence to prove his other points (about how the T-Rex could never have existed because he would have tripped and killed himself the moment he tried to walk) and asked the congregation to give him money so he could rescue dinosaur skeletons from museums to add to his collection (end purpose unknown.)

    Why do we pick current scientific sources only for schools? Because it's the only self-correcting source of theories available. We can even present multiple scientific theories simultaneously in the classroom -- the point isn't that they're different and therefore cover all "beliefs" without offending anyone, but that they're more-or-less equally-valid (though rarely perfect) interpretations of available facts presented within the context of peer review. It's a given that they're all theories -- and that's precisely why they're in textbooks for schools, and religious beliefs aren't. It's a lot like the arguments for open-source: it's not that it's perfect or absolutely true, it's that it's in a context that lets it evolve toward perfection rather than dogmatic dictatorship. Change and uncertainty are good things; we need to be honest about it, yes, absolutely, but we need to recognize a good thing when we see it too.
  • Re:Thank God! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AndyL ( 89715 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @03:22AM (#11358770)
    "I'd have to say that most "Evolutionists" have as closed a mind as us "Jesus Freaks". "
    The difference between science and religion is not that the scientists are supposed to consider every crazy, unsupported idea that comes down the pike.

    The difference is that if the leading scientific theory is proven wrong then it is no longer the leading scientific theory.

    Only religious types think that a "Belief" is something you have to decide early then never change.
  • Re:Thank God! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ra5pu7in ( 603513 ) <> on Friday January 14, 2005 @03:23AM (#11358779) Journal
    That's funny, because the issue of Discover Magazine that arrived in my mailbox sometime in the last week says on the cover "Scientists at Michigan State Prove Evolution Works".

    No surprise there. Every new biological discovery seems to be heralded in these magazines as "new proof of evolution" or "evolution at work". Even when other reputable scientists dispute the findings, or even if the proof turns out to only show that a specific test worked, these kinds of headlines show up.

    Now that you know what the word "theory" actually means

    Theory, the word, actually has multiple meanings - leading to much of the confusion. Take a look at Merriam-Webster. You'll find "the analysis of a set of facts in their relation to one another", "abstract thought : SPECULATION", "a plausible or scientifically acceptable general principle or body of principles offered to explain phenomena", "a hypothesis assumed for the sake of argument or investigation", and "an unproved assumption" -- each of which puts a different flavor to the discussion. Notice that NONE of the definitions given implies that a theory is a fact. The closest ones state "plausible or scientifically acceptable" and "hypothesis assumed".

    The important definitions of fact are "something that has actual existence" and "an actual occurence". Evolution is an assumed occurence based on the relationships between different life-forms. It doesn't ever point to an actual occurence - it points to two separate facts (actual fossils that can be dated) and infers an occurence between them. The actual occurence is not known - in fact, many books on evolution say "we don't know how this happened, but x evolved into y as you can see by ..." So how did evolution work? Some say radiation-damaged genes, others refer to chaos theory, others say that isn't important. That last is the most foolish, because what is the theory of evolution without an explanation of how it really works.

    The key distinction the groups who pushed for those stickers are trying to make is that while many believe evolution "may, for all practical purposes, be treated as a fact", it is not a fact. To their dismay (though they will seldom admit this), this is equally true of their own theories (translate as religious beliefs). To everyone's dismay, this is the case with many things we believe to be fact. Einstein's theories are still just that - theories. Two thousand years from now humanity may learn that they were radically incomplete and our insistence on teaching them as fact prevented us from entering entire fields of knowledge.


    As a side note, I think this federal judge - if he actually claimed that the sticker attempted to inject religion into state materials - may have made it easier for this to be appealed. The sticker was written very carefully and makes no mention of religion. Nowhere does it mention the Bible, Christ, Christianity, creation, or anything religious. In fact, if you were to show that sticker to any person who knew nothing about the controversy here and that the opponents of evolution theory are religious, they wouldn't necessarily connect religion. They could suspect a renegade group of scientists. By calling the sticker religious the judge reveals a clear bias and picking of sides rather than an impartial consideration.
  • Re:Thank God! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Moofie ( 22272 ) <> on Friday January 14, 2005 @03:23AM (#11358780) Homepage
    Maybe we shouldn't put stickers on textbooks that are explicitly designed to mislead, rather than educate.

    I'd rather there be a whole chapter or two on critical, skeptical thinking. I think that'd be a much better use of all of our time.
  • Re:Thank God! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Wavicle ( 181176 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @03:25AM (#11358796)
    All it's saying is to keep an open mind that it's only an unproven idea

    The verbage specifically states that evolution is not a fact. They don't know that it is not a fact. The sticker is playing games with semantics ("Oh we mean not a fact as in something is either a theory or a fact") but was clearly cleverly written such that it could easily be read as saying "Evolution is false."

    Doesn't sound very open minded to me.

    As far as I know, no one has actually observed macroevolution.

    There have been several instances of observed speciation in plants and insects.
  • by jotaeleemeese ( 303437 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @03:30AM (#11358829) Homepage Journal
    ... pretending there is no agenda in such an sticker.

    THe court sought through it and rightly smacked the idea down as the offensive nonsense it clearly is.
  • by Tony ( 765 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @03:32AM (#11358840) Journal
    Most posts seem to bash special creationism, not Christianity. Last I checked, they were different things. Or did I miss the memo?

    As many, many posts have stated, faith and science are complementary, not congruent. One describes the workings of the universe; the other gives reason to our existence within the universe.

    Science is merely an epistomology, a method of discovering truths. We are not perfect at it, as we are human and completely fallable. We often think one thing is true, only to learn later that we were wrong. And unfortunately, some cling to disproved beliefs in the face of contrary evidence.

    But... See, that's where science is strongest. It is possible to gather contrary evidence and disprove an hypothesis. Sometimes even theories are disproved or addended, such as Newton's Laws
    (which was superceded by relativity and quantum mechanics in the extremely small cases of size, or very great speed).

    The problem with faith when used to interpret the mechanics of the universe is simple: you cannot disprove anything, since all assertions are taken on... faith.

    Yes, I am aware of Micheal Behe and his ilk. They have the uncanny knack of ignoring all contrary evidence. They seem to cherry-pick only the evidence they desire, like actors on a stage, and frame their hypothesis on a stage with a single spotlight. And like the actors in a play, the script is worked out beforehand.

    Their arguments, although they wear the trappings of science, lack science's primary strength: they are not disprovable. There is no way to disprove that some Divine Hand is not directing the play. And so, when they make assertions that God has created us (ignore those pesky bones in the earth), they are presenting not science, but faith in a play about fake science.

    That is why so many here are strongly vocal against those that would subvert true knowledge for a faith-based political agenda. We speak out not against the faith, but against those that would promote willful ignorance under the banner of faith.
  • Re:Creationist? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by EEBaum ( 520514 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @03:34AM (#11358860) Homepage
    Philosophically, we don't know anything is truly fact unless we're the ones who set the original rules. (a la 1+1=2 in our symbolic numbering system)

    While it has no scientific basis and is incredibly, extremely, stupidly unlikely, it is possible that what we describe as general relativity is actually caused by tiny mystical invisible wooden garden gnomes who wind magical clocks 1/10^50 times smaller than a proton.

    General relativity is, however, supported by a breadth of scientific research that confirms trends and common occurrences, and is therefore accepted. However, it cannot be philosophically declared as truly fact.

    If tomorrow the speed of light slowed to 5 m/s, and gravity stopped working on compact discs, we would have to reevaluate our best held theories to account for the possibility that general relatively simply happened to fit very well until now. A forthcoming emmissary from the mystical garden gnomes may lend support to an alternate theory.

    You may say "But the speed of light won't slow down tomorrow, and compact discs won't stop paying attention to gravity, silly fool!" I would likely agree with you. However, I ask, "How do we know for sure?" Technically, we're working entirely on observations.

    My extremely roundabout and probably poorly-worded point is this: We are working entirely on observations in an open system. Science allows us to come up with theories that are "as good as" fact, and may in fact hold true for 100% of our experiments. Those explanations that work consistently are kept, and the inconsistent ones are tossed.

    Consider the extremely remote possibility that the world was actually created in 1823 by hyperintelligent shades of the color blue. Consider that history books, dinosaur bones, Prague, and John Quincy Adams are all originated from phenomenally good simulations. Stupidly improbable, and I agree it's an idiotic theory, but hey, you weren't there to know!

    The real issue, in my opinion, is an obsession with language. The word "fact," meaning that it is and always will be completely and utterly THE WAY THINGS ARE, is bandied about very freely, when philosophically it almost never applies. "We're 99.99999999999999999999999% confident that it's a fact" would be more appropriate, but I suppose it's considerably more cumbersome to write.
  • Yeah sure. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jotaeleemeese ( 303437 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @03:34AM (#11358861) Homepage Journal
    Thankfully you got tired of typing, otherwise you would have continued with all the half assed alleged "holes" in evolutionary theory.

    As time passes those "holes" are firmly closed, but there will always be people too blinded to accept scientific gained knowledge if it contradicts the teachings given down to them by Asian sheep or camel herders....
  • by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @03:38AM (#11358881) Journal
    ...but with a rapid 1500 comments so far, they sure do understand thier audience.
  • by jotaeleemeese ( 303437 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @03:49AM (#11358948) Homepage Journal
    .... but here you are talking about biochemistry and the fossil record, and more shamefully, asking about predictions based in evolutionary theory.

    Just for starters:

    Darwin's moth []. This appeared in National Geographic magazine a few months ago.

    I better refer you to a better explanation that puts your claims to shame []

  • by sbaker ( 47485 ) * on Friday January 14, 2005 @04:02AM (#11359030) Homepage
    Creationism and Research in the same title! That's just too funny!
  • by EEBaum ( 520514 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @04:02AM (#11359031) Homepage
    Perhaps the problem is that, since modern science has been around a while, it is now ingrained in academia, and viewed, especially by school boards, as "This is the way things are." Rather, if science is treated as an investigation, a solving of mysteries, the problem may not be so pronounced.

    If a class is taught from the point of view of, "Oh dear, look at all these different animals! How on earth did they all come to be? Here is a set of ideas that have been proposed by people who know a lot about such things, and they've provided evidence. Therefore, it's worth us looking into. Wow, their rules seem to explain things quite well, as far as we can tell", then the spirit of science is preserved.

    However, in our modernist society, we cling to science's supposed ability to prove everything HERE AND NOW, to tell us the one and only way that things are. Perhaps it stems from ancient thought, a la the royalty in Galileo's time, where it was ingrained into the populace that this is THE WAY THINGS ARE, and there exists such a way things are that we are completely positive about.

    If our society was willing to accept concepts of "we don't know for absolute sure, but this one set of rules seems to fit pretty darn well, so that's what we're going with" and not consider it a BAD thing, I think we'd all be a lot better off.
  • 5 words... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by benjaminchoate ( 593966 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @04:15AM (#11359096)
    Science and religeon can coexist.

    Honestly, in these forums I see so much religious ignorance that it makes me sick.

    I don't agree with the sticker of course, because I believe that what Darwin observed does exist. I don't believe that man originated through evolution, but I believe that God created the earth and the things on it with a certain level of tolerance and adaptability. To do otherwise wouldn't make much sense from a scientific point of view, would it?
  • Re:Thank God! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by HuguesT ( 84078 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @04:26AM (#11359164)
    Of course there are facts in science.

    For example the way apples fall from trees or the way planets revolve around the Sun are all facts. They happen, they can be observed. In fact these two facts are part of the more general phenomenon called gravitation. We observe that massive body attract each other.

    On the other hand General Relativity (GRT) is the best theory of gravitation we have today. We already know that it is not a perfect theory, in particular that it is not compatible with other theories we have such as quantum theory (QT).

    It is a fairly safe bet that at some point in the future either GRT or QT or both will be replaced with something more accurate.

    Science is a process by which an explanation can be given for facts, more exactly *how* they proceed (and certainly not *why*, this is where religion and metaphysics come in). These explanations are called hypotheses in the beginning when they are born and then theories when they begin to get accepted, in particular when they happen to match observation up to a certain precision, and are useful to make predictions, i.e. predict future observations.

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

    by ezeri ( 513659 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @04:36AM (#11359221)
    When scientist start to develop there own "beliefs" that must be believed in order to be an accepted in to the community, they have crossed the line in to what we would call a "religion" and excomunication, as the word is used today, is exactly what shunning those who don't ascribe to the accepted beliefs is.
  • by AVee ( 557523 ) <slashdot AT avee DOT org> on Friday January 14, 2005 @04:54AM (#11359321) Homepage
    This is indeed the important distiction. And altough it could have been phrased better, 'Theory of Evolution' is what the sticker refers to:
    "Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. The material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered."

    While it talk about evolution without making this distinction, it means to speak about the 'Theory of Evolution'. Now anyone who thinks it could have been clearer on that point is right, but i really don't see how it's intended to promote some religious point or to argue a fact.
  • Re:Thank God! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Flaming Foobar ( 597181 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @04:59AM (#11359347)
    yeah ... wtf? I mean, telling kids to have an open mind and view something critically ... it's almost like we want them to think for themselves. Well, at least you can always trust the government to put an end to that.

    The problem is - the kids weren't really being told to think critically. There's a difference between saying "Think critically!" and, "Evolution isn't a fact - think critically!" Don't you think?

  • Evidence? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tony ( 765 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @05:02AM (#11359361) Journal
    It certainly seems premature to throw out a very successful theory on the basis of this evidence.

    What evidence? ID proponents present irreducible complexity as if it were evidence, but it is not. IC is merely an example of a structure that we don't yet understand how it evolved.

    That's not evidence. Just because we can't explain why gravity works doesn't mean it's powered by a creator.

    The eye is a perfect example. We have a great evolutionary path set up for the eye, from light-sensitive spots on the backs of certain single-cell organisms (great for detecting sudden changes in ambient light, such as the shadow of a predator), to the pinhole camera of the nautilus, to the human eye, to octopus eyes (thanks, other poster in this thread).

    We didn't understand them once, and creationists used them to "prove" (as "irreducibly complex") the existence of God.

    To sum up, I will state once again: Our ignorance does not prove the existence of God! There. Was that loud enough? 'cause I can make it all caps if you like.

    Now, when the ID folks start spouting Micheal Behe at you, you can refute them with vigor and glee.
  • Re:Thank God! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Thomas Shaddack ( 709926 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @05:08AM (#11359383)
    More elegant solution would be to require the creationists to put similar stickers into their Bibles.
  • Re:Thank God! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Lonath ( 249354 ) * on Friday January 14, 2005 @05:13AM (#11359408)
    I don't know if your post was serious or not, but I believe it was, so I wrote this.

    You know what? God isn't fooled by BS. People are fooled by BS and we BS each other all of the time because we can get away with it sometimes. Your statement that this is only about having people keep an open mind is a LIE. You know it's not true and what it's really about is that you want to impose your religious beliefs on others because you feel that certain scientific discoveries don't follow your religious beliefs. Please don't LIE about your real motivation which is to have your religious beliefs taught in school...and you know that "intelligent design" is in fact creationism with a shiny new coat of paint. There are, of course, liars who claim that ID and creationism aren't the same thing, but that doesn't make it so.

    There have been observations of simple organisms mutating (you would call that microevolution) in short periods of time, so why can't we extrapolate to the possibility of large changes happening over longer periods of time? Why would things all of a sudden hit a wall and stop working? We certainly have DNA testing now that's getting easier and easier and we're moving into the age of genetic manipulation, so it's not clear to me why you think this is an unproven theory or idea. Genetics and evolution have been shown to be true, and those FACTS are being used to genetically engineer things that will hopefully make our lives better (but which could kill us all , too .... :P). You hold out for a type of proof that you know can't be observed for a very long time, not because of any scientific basis. You know that science can accept different kinds of evidence to prove something, but you reject it because it contradicts your religious beliefs. How many years and how big of a mutation would it take for you to accept evolution? My guess is that you would keep saying things are only 'microevolution' and require some massive change that probably took millions of years to come fully to fruition. If you're willing to be honest, you probably won't ever be satisfied with any evidence that will appear, and so please stop lying about wanting observations, when you don't want them and won't ever be satisfied with them. Instead you want to keep searching for that narrow corridor for a counterexample, or an anomolous or unexplained event, or an incompletely explored space of possibility so you can cling to your religious beliefs.

    Guess what? The old old testament (Jewish Torah) isn't literally true. It's metaphorical. The universe isn't 6000 years old, and Noah didn't take 2 of every creature onto a big boat. I feel a great deal of pity for people who think they're living in a tiny, young universe that just popped into existence rather than the vast, ancient universe that appears to be out there. It must be very lonely and scary thinking that the Earth is all we will ever have, and things are only going to get worse and worse until the chosen people are drawn up into heaven leaving the rest of the losers like me behind. Do you know why I know that the old old testament isn't literally true? It's because God isn't an asshole.

    Do you know what I call an entity that makes things appear a certain way (such as a vast, ancient universe), when it's really another way ( such as a tiny, young universe that popped into existence several thousand years ago), and then allows intellignet things within the univsrse to discover how it works and gives them the ability to see that the universe looks vast and ancient? I call such an entity is an asshole. If you take the old old testament literally and believe that the universe is this tiny thing that popped into existence a few thousand years ago while at the same time that we've been given the ability to explore and understand our universe and see that it certainly looks vast and ancient, then you believe God is an asshole who's playing a giant trick on us. Please don't talk to me about having faith that this is the way things are.
  • Re:Thank God! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ezeri ( 513659 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @05:26AM (#11359458)
    Ohhhh! The children might actualy question evolution! They might listen to what these "christian nut jobs" have to say about it!

    Seriously though, why is it such a horible thing to have an alternate view presented. Do you realy think these children can only handle one view, or that thay are completely incapable of making there own desisions on who they are going to believe. I mean after all, if evolution is so obviously the only possible answer, they shouldn't the evidence be able to speek for itself, why should it be above question and debate?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14, 2005 @05:56AM (#11359575)
    Gravity is a theory and not a fact.

    'nuff said

  • Re:I wonder (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jesus IS the Devil ( 317662 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @06:05AM (#11359608)
    Of course not... you think these people are out to be fair?
  • by blorg ( 726186 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @06:07AM (#11359621)
    ...a framework that best fits with the available evidence - Newton's theory of gravitation, for example, fits very well, but was superceded by Einstein's relativity which fits just ever so slightly better. There are no 'facts' in science at all, in this sense, just theories that best fit the observations.

    You can never prove something as unquestionably true (a 'fact') as new observations could come along later; you can however prove theories to be false if they don't fit with the observations (or more accurately, show them to be approximations - Newtonian physics is still immensely useful.)

    The problem here is that most people reading this sticker on the cover will not have been introduced to this nature of the word 'theory' in the scientific sense, but in the more colloquial sense - a theory police are working on in an investigation for example. E.g. 'something that could very well be wrong'.

    A more honest and correct sticker would not single out evolution as somehow special among scientific theories; instead they could have created a chapter that explained scientific method, the status of the word 'theory' in science, and how science differs from other human endeavours, including religion.

    In particular it could explain why science tends to limit itself to statements that *can be falsified* by new observations, as that seems to be the crux of the conflict (the *literal* reading of Genesis being falsifiable, and most people would say, falsified.)
  • Re:Thank God! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Blue_Nile ( 793198 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @06:14AM (#11359649) Homepage Journal
    You are thinking of micro evolution. In your example the bacteria gains an immunity, Theres no argument there. Macro evolution is what the argument has always been about. They don't have any proof of bacteria turning into a cat, Or a reptile into a bird.
  • by Flaming Foobar ( 597181 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @06:14AM (#11359651)
    but i really don't see how it's intended to promote some religious point or to argue a fact.

    Then you must be stupid or blind.

    Why not drop evolution from the sticker completely. Just "This book should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered." It could be stamped on EVERY book. Including religious ones.

  • And BTW for the clueless, you do imagine that someone actually measured this pot right? And recorded what he measured - it's not prophecy after all. The reason these measurements are recorded is that the pot was very think. One measurement was an inner measurement, and the other was an outer measurement.
    Do the math, go look up how much a hand breadth is, and figure the inner diameter was 10 cubits minus a hand breadth. Then see how 30 cubits compares with what you calculate for the inner circumference - you'll find it's quite accurate.

    Ye Gods!

    The scary thing is I don't think that's meant to be a joke, do you?

    Let's get this straight. What we're dealing with here may be a 'puff' piece - a bit of political spin - telling people how rich and powerful Solomon was. If so, it may have been written down at the time - but it is written by someone trying to impress. It probably isn't written by the architect; it was probably written by Solomon's equivalent of a PR department, and you don't expect precise technical accuracy from a PR department. If it was written down at the time, it's probably just not very precise.

    But the second thing is, Solomon was the Israeli's Golden Age. He was the most powerful king they ever had. This passage may have been written down two or three generations later, when Solomon's palace was ruined or redeveloped. It could be old mens' memories of what their grandfather's said. It may be highly exaggerated.

    And let's face it, Solomon was rich and powerful, but the amount of energy to maintain 32 cubic metres of some unspecified (but by implication not normally molten) substance in a molten state would be very high. Yes, ancient kings did indulge in huge spectaular showpieces, but nevertheless I think it's more likely that this detail is either a huge exaggeration or just untrue.

    Either way it can't be taken as 'proving' that either the contemporary Jews or their God thought that the diameter of a circle of exactly thirty cubits perimeter was exactly ten cubits. After all, to the degree of accuracy needed by either a PR piece or an old man's story telling, the diameter of a roughly thirty cubit circle is roughly ten cubits: you're investing these statements with a degree of accuracy that the author never intended.

  • by uohcicds ( 472888 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @06:32AM (#11359718) Homepage

    I'll second all of that.

    In addition I would say that, as a theory, it has stayed around so long because it explains observation better than any of the alternatives offered so far (my emphasis). That is the purpose of a theory; to construct a model of the world that we can use to explain what we observe. For example, light is neither a particle or a wave, it is something that can sometimes be modelled one way to describe its behaviour and sometimes the other. for each purpose, either model will explain the behaviour adequately. In a sense, it doesn't actually matter what it really is, merely that the model can describe and predict it. This echoes Richard Feynman, who once said something along those lines (I forget the exact quote).

    Theories are not foolproof and set in stone, which is precisely what positivists like Popper said about empirical science: nothing could be proved, only disproved, because the set of data for such things is infinite and there may always be some condition to disprove just around the corner. This is precisely how the Laws of Thermodynamics were presented to me in my first year of a Physics degree: a set of "laws" making up a theory about thermal energy that seems to hold up with the observational data we have so far.

    From Britain I look at the sticker and think, OK, have your sticker with the message written on it, just so long as those who don't think the same can put the following on bibles:

    The Bible is a story, not a collection of facts, regarding the origin of living things. The material was written by many people over hundreds of years in many different languages. The material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered.

    Somehow, I don't think the Creationist lobby will go for that though...

  • by mosb1000 ( 710161 ) <> on Friday January 14, 2005 @06:46AM (#11359772)
    "This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered."

    It sounds more like the school board is trying to encourage students to approach the theory of evolution with an open mind, not "denigrating the theory of evolution" as was stated in the court case. I think this sticker was meant to quiet the complaints of the 2000 parents who complained that the text books described evolution as the origin of life with-ought giving equal time to creationism. The sticker says "evolution is an important theory and students should approach it with an open mind", in answer to these parents criticisms.

    I don't think this label really does promote creationism. All it says is that evolution is being taught as a theory, not a fact. Even if it does promote creationism, I don't see how it violates the separation of church and state. Evolution delves into issues that some people consider to be spiritual, and as such, is in a way "teaching religion". This label is merely a disclaimer saying that that is not the school board's intent, and that students should not take it that way.

    I seriously hope that this ruling is overturned by a higher court.
  • by rishistar ( 662278 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @06:57AM (#11359817) Homepage

    If it is the case why are they not asking for the same stickers to be stuck on EVERY textbook? A fair amount of what is accepted as 'scientific fact' for day to day purposes are is still a theory. And not just the natural sciences with its theories of evolution, relativity, black hole formation but also things like economics and geography textbooks need stickers on them

    In fact, now I think about it the same sticker should be on English comprehension textbooks - lets face it we don't really know what Shakespeare was trying to portray a misogynist society in The Taming of The Shrew - seems more likely to me that he was out for a cheap laugh. Much of history is the same.

    And obviously, when sticking these stickers on, they need to do the bible at the same time. Something like 'Well the first half of this book is a collection of pan European mythical tales bought together in a nice anthology and the second half was about a dude who was really cool, but we don't like to talk about what he did between ages 18-30 as he may have been being a naughty boy' should be accurate.

  • by 75th Trombone ( 581309 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @07:16AM (#11359879) Homepage Journal
    When every student in a school district is required to have a Bible as a textbook, I will wholeheartedly agree.

    Until then, how dare you conflate required school textbooks with privately printed, published, and sold overtly religious texts? No one's asking to paste these stickers on all the evolution books at Barnes & Noble.

    (Full disclosure: I'm a Christian who believes in a four zillion-year-old universe, but who's aware that most of the evidence that Evolution (capital E) predicts should be found just isn't being.)
  • Re:Thank God! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by ( 545967 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @07:23AM (#11359910)
    Creationism, as stated in the Bible, is very improbable.

    So were many miracles performed in the Bible, but it's faith-based and not fact based. I believe evolution (the part that states all life formed from some primordial soup as well as we all evolved from apes) is ridiculous as best; just as the chair you are sitting in had an intelligent designer, so did the rest of the universe. (I believe I read that humans and bananas share a significant part of their DNA. Did we all come from bananas instead?) I think it's highly unlikely that so many different life forms on this planet came from an amoeba floating in early-Earth soup. The chances of this happening are probably along the scales that you think the chances of creationism are of happening.

    I know Slashdot is a secular site that looks for the facts as proof, but there are some things that just require faith. Jesus is the way, the truth and light and no one comes to the Father except by him. Might be offensive to some (just as some topics are to others), but I believe it's the truth just as I believe the Bible is the absolute truth.

  • by N3wsByt3 ( 758224 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @07:34AM (#11359961) Journal
    " If they were, I'd have a major problem, because I am both a professional scientist, and a devout Catholic."

    Actually you do have a major problem, but, like all people who try to be a scientist and 'devout catholic', you chooose to ignore it. You do not see a problem, because you do not WANT to see there is one.

    If you say you are a devout catholic, I'm assuming you believe in the basic tenets of the bible. Seen that they are so contradictory and absurd (an all-powerfull/all-knowing being, life after death, heaven and hell, creationism, etc.: all these things defy common sense) it is ludicrous to say there is no opposite viepoint. Science is ALL about making sense of the observable universe, according to well defined scientific principles. The answer of the devaut catholic?:

    "It doesn't need to make sense."

    Well, indeed, as a personal opinion, it doesn't. But a (real) scientist wants to get to the truth (as in: as close to the observable reality as possible). The dichotomy between the two, thus, resides in how you view your particular religion in the light of your science. Answer: you don't. You shun it. And you will never do it, because there is no rational or scientific basis for believing in God or heaven, nor creationism, etc.

    People like you seperate their religion and their science - yet feel they don't contradict eachother - because you never actually used your capabilities as a scientist to research your beliefs. If you did, you would notice that that belief is irrational and unprovable; things your scientific mind SHOULD tell you to disregard it.

    I mean, c'mon, if you had ANY other theory that would be absurd and untrue on the parts you can check, and completely improvable when taking only the esotheric parts, then, as a scientist, you would regard that theory as useless and disregard it. Yet, you don not do that, when it happens to be your own belief.

    It's not that they aren't contradictory; it's that you fail as a scientist when it comes down to your own religious beliefs.

  • by dcw3 ( 649211 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @07:46AM (#11360010) Journal
    School is not the place to endorse idiotic beliefs. Church is.

    The parent's last comment should be labled flamebait.

    I was in full agreement until he had to go and add that last sentence. Just because you don't believe in something doesn't make it right for you to go slaming other peoples beliefs. I'm no church-goer, but I respect peoples rights to believe in what they long as they'll respect mine, and not call me (or others) an idiot.
  • Re:Thank God! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14, 2005 @08:06AM (#11360078)
    > Is is a site notorious for exaggeration and plain misinformation about such topics.

    Go on then, give a few _specific_ examples then of pages on talkorigins that exaggerate and/or spread misinformation. Have you yourself actually ever read a single article on it (if so, then what), or are you just regurtitating crap that someone else has fed you?
  • by Alsee ( 515537 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @08:17AM (#11360119) Homepage
    >Evolution is a fact in that we know it occurs and it has been seen occur[r]ing.
    can we have some real references, please?

    For one, there are some absolutely facinating studies on ring species. [] Modern observed evolution, incompatible resultant species, and as added super bonus the FULL range of intermediate forms! Ring species are amazing case studies of evolution in action rolled up in nice neat packages.

    Considering that ten of thousand years is nothing in evolutionary time, it's pretty big that we spot anything at all on human timescales. Darwin was born only a hundred-odd years ago. Hell, modern biological study really only rates a description of "decades". And anti-evolutionists won't be satisfied with anything less than watching a scientist pull a rabit out of a hat and seeing it evolve wings and fly away before their eyes.

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

    by bentcd ( 690786 ) <> on Friday January 14, 2005 @08:19AM (#11360134) Homepage
    Moreover, one might observe that the proposed unlikely event is in fact "life evolved out of chemical goo". It is _not_ "life evolved out of checmical goo _on Earth_". That it happened on our planet is not a coincidence at all - after all, if it had not, the question would never have been posed in the first place. Since the question cannot be posed on a planet where life happened to not evolve, the fact that it happened on "our" planet is a given.

    Therefore, scale the probability of life evolving on an Earth-like planet by the number of Earth-like planets in the universe (likely to be a lot) and it's not at all amazing that it happened in at least one place. I'm not even sure it should be limited to only Earth-like planets.
  • Re:Thank God! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14, 2005 @08:51AM (#11360291)
    Funny you mentioned dogs.
    (quoted from another forum)

    About twenty thousand years ago, a species of carnivores roamed the earth. Social animals who lived and hunted in packs. Wolves.

    Some of these wolves were taken in by humans. By their own nature, wolves were suited to live with humans - and humans bred these wolves according to human wishes.

    Now, twenty thousand years later, wolves still exist. And another group of animals exist: dogs.

    Dogs are not wolves. Dogs are - in all their variety, from huge St.Bernhards to tine Chihuahuas - very different from each other and very different from wolves.

    A contemporary observer could state that something like a poodle could not come from a wolf - and indeed you will never see a wolf giving birth to a poodle.

    And yet, every single kind of dog around today is descended from a wolf.

    So we can see:
    1. Huge changes in outer form as well as behaviour and intelligence (yes, dogs are more intelligent than wolves, in a very human way) can happen.
    2. New species of animals can descend from an original kind without the original kind disappearing.

    Now you might object that in the case of wolves and dogs, it was an intelligence - humans - that "created" dogs. This is correct.

    But how did humans "create" dogs? Dogs were not created like a work of art is created or a machine is. Dogs were bred.

    What is breeding? Breeding is the selection of attributes by determining who is going to have offspring.

    In the case of dogs, it was humans who did the determining. We might call that "artificial selection".

    But it is possible - even inevitable - that even without intelligent interference, certain variants of a species will have more offspring than others.
    The variants selected in this way will be those who are best suited to live, survive and procreate in their enviroment. So here the enviroment determines who is going to have offspring. This is called "natural selection".

    And this is the way humans could have come from "apes" without an ape ever having to give birth to a human - just as a wolf never gave birth to a Chihuahua.
  • by LinuxParanoid ( 64467 ) * on Friday January 14, 2005 @09:03AM (#11360352) Homepage Journal
    (post1:) while atomic theory, gravitational theory, and germ theory can be tested, evolutionary theory cannot.

    (post2:) Yes, it can, and has. If we found human remains in Precambrian strata, or if human DNA wasn't similar to the DNA of the other great apes, or if a cat ever gave birth to a dog, then evolution would be in trouble.

    As an engineer watching this debate (and now dipping his toe into it), I don't find your rebuttal that persuasive. Analysis of the state of the world today (e.g. evolution) is a rational method, but it is not, to my mind, the scientific method (hypothesis, test, analyze, etc.) Whenever you are forced to use your analysis of a situation to predict and change it, your analysis is really tested in a fundamentally different (and superior) way than when you just take in new evidence and find you can make it mesh with prior evidence.

    I confess I only skimmed a dozen of those speciation events in the FAQ you mentioned, but all the plant ones involved either observing or crossing-by-a-scientist. Not a scientist setting up an environment and watching chance do its work in creating new capabilities. (Actually some of the drosophila ones came at least close to using what I would consider the "scientific method" for evolution but I didn't find them too compelling. I didn't have the patience to wade through them all (work beckons) and you can discount my opinion appropriately.)

    I've written natural simulation programs and I can tell you that it's not too hard to create an environment where, according to random chance a single trait changes from X to Y when you have coded a gene that allows variations in that trait. But evolution postulates that the genes weren't "created" and the notion of a trait wasn't "created" and that's a much subtler beast and based on what I've read over the years I don't quite buy that evolutionists have "proven" or even demonstrated it via a "scientific method".

    I guess if I had to ask you one question, it'd be whether you agree with my distinction between a rational method and a scientific method. I see the latter being a subset of the former. If I'm wrong about that, then you probably don't have to even get into the evidentiary specifics.

  • by Peter Simpson ( 112887 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @09:08AM (#11360384)
    "You'll be told many things in life. Don't believe all of them, ask questions, weigh the responses, do your own research, and form your own opinions."

    That's what school's *supposed* to be about. Not school boards promoting their pet ideas and buying "lowest common denominator" textbooks.

    Do yourself a favor, read your child's textbooks. Discuss them with your child, encourage them to think (critically) for themselves. It will only do them good as they grow up.

    (and remind them that if they ever find themselves saying "hey, watch this", that they should immediately stop whatever they are doing and think long and hard about what might happen next!)

  • Re:Creationist? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by caudron ( 466327 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @09:18AM (#11360433) Homepage
    it has a huge flaw with "first cause" since everything must come from something more intelligent so supposedly "The Creator" was created from a more intelligent "Creator" and so forth.

    Well, don't take this as disagreement, becuase I agree with you that, while still a theory, evolution is the best one we have to explain the facts in hand and it shouldn't be singled out as particularly suspect, but... ...The Intelllgent Design people aren't that easy to dismiss. The idea behind intelligent design (heck, behind many claims of God entirely!) is not that there is an infinite track of more intelligent causes to the effects we see in the world around us, but rather they take the basic scientificly accepted principle that effects have causes and follow that logic to it's end. To wit:

    1) Effects have causes
    2) No effect can cause itself
    3) Every effect, therefore is caused by something other than itself
    4) A causal chain cannot stretch back infinitely in time
    5) There must, therefore be a First Cause that, itself, had no preceding cause
    6) God uniquely answers the cosmological question by being the Uncaused First Cause
    7) God, therefore, exists and created all that is.

    That logic is valid, so long as we accept two things. First, that they are naming the first cause "God", and second that the underlying assumption is that there is not a causal chain that stretches back infinitely in time.

    We cannot deny them their first choice (to call the first cause "God") because it isn't like we have a better name for it. And if we deny them their second assumption, then we are still left with a substantial question:

    Why is there something instead of nothing?

    If the universe can be said to stretch back infinitely in time, then we should ask why the universe need exist at all. There is still a substantial "Why?" left to explain.

    If we follow that train of logic, then God's role is not as initiator of the universe, but as sustainer and creator in a sense that we simply cannot understand. We assume a creation time when we speak of creation, but if the universe stretches back infinitely and God created it, then there is no "When?" question we can ask, but we are left with a timeless, spiritual act of creation that is incomprehensible to me...not incredulous, just incomprehensible.

    In short, the Intelligent Design people have not set themselves up to fall quite so easily. While misguided, their argument is not so ridiculous as the media would like it to be...unlike strict Creationists, whose claims are patently ridiculous and disprovable with the scant evidence we already have in hand.

    Disclaimer: I am one of those Christians (i.e., most of us) who thinks that evolution seems like a solid theory and doesn't see how it shakes our religious foundation to allow science to do it's job.
  • Re:Thank God! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Alsee ( 515537 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @09:25AM (#11360492) Homepage
    The belief that there is no god is obviously a belief of a religious nature. A religious belief. And under the constitution it rates full and equal protection.

    And while you can quibble over the definition of "religion", I would say that atheism pretty well qualifies. It just doesn't have a formal organisation, and it's only tenet is that there is no god.

    If you were to form some sort of organizied "church" for it it would indeed be tax exempt yada yada yada. Sure some people will scream and yell about it, but I have little doubt you can win in court.

    And acknowleding that atheist belief is a religious belief is actually quite usefull in these chuch-and-state arguments. Prohibiting the government from meddling in religion, prohibiting the government from sticking god into the pledge, prohibiting the government from putting god on money, none of that is "making the government atheist" as they love to claim. Requiring the government to remain entirely silent on the issue of god is in no way promoting atheism. The government is just as prohibited from promoting the belief that there is not god as it is prohibited from promoting the belief in a god.

    Taking "in god we trust" off of money is not athesist. Placing "trust money because there is no god" on money would be atheist. Obviously the "pro-religion" side is going to find the second quote unacceptable, and they are defenseless when you point out the fact that the first quote is no better than the second quote. If it is unacceptable for you to put one religious belief on money then it is equally unacceptable for them to put another religious belief on money.

  • by Anita Coney ( 648748 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @09:41AM (#11360624) Homepage
    I can't understand why creationists only object to the theory of evolution. There are plenty of other scientific theories which could be helped by their guidance:

    Theory of Relatively: Things occur because god says so.

    Theory of Gravity: Things fall and do not fall because god says so.

    Theory of Continental Drift: The earth's surface moves because god says so.

    Heck, I figure with the creationist approach to learning, kids would only have to go to school for about a week before they graduated. How long would it take to teach a kid the following: If you can't explain something, or if you don't like the explanation science offers, just assume that god did it.
  • Re:Creationist? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by minkwe ( 222331 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @09:54AM (#11360727) Journal
    I wish I had mod points to give the parent.

    Additionally, I'm a scientist and a Christian as well and the fact that this debate (evolution vs creationism) is even going on in the first place is only evidence of the level of naivity out there.

    Evolution and creationism are not mutually exclusive concepts. Creationist who claim otherwise are indirectly claiming that they know exactly what steps God took to form Man from 'dust' which is overly presumptuous since the bible does not go into details. Evolutionist who claim otherwise are equally naive because evolution presupposes that you have a certain environment is available with the right conditions and selective pressure for evolution to take place. However, this environment can not be formed by evolution itself. For example no evolutionist has ever dared to answer how the atom was formed.

    The way I see it, it is possible for God to have created the world both living and non-living in a way that will manifest to us as evolution, without.

    BTW, I wonder why those evolutionist who believe the book of Genesis is literal don't claim that Jesus Christ was a vine, or bread or rock. Maybe literature should be compulsory education.
  • Re:Thank God! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by aborchers ( 471342 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @09:55AM (#11360744) Homepage Journal
    I and many others don't need such a emotional support structure.

    No, but for some reason I can't understand, you are compelled to antagonize those who view the world differently from you. What motivates that?

  • Re:Creationist? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bamberg ( 9311 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @10:03AM (#11360829)
    There are, of course, numerous flaws with the ID argument.

    1) Effects have causes

    Error: They are assuming that life is an "effect", in other words assuming their conclusion, that it has a cause.

    2) No effect can cause itself

    Error: This is a definitional question. If "effect" is defined as "something that is caused by something else" then this is trivially true, but unimportant. Also, the IDers contradict this point later.

    3) Every effect, therefore is caused by something other than itself

    If 2 were true, this would be true. However....

    4) A causal chain cannot stretch back infinitely in time

    Error: This is nothing more than an assumption (as you pointed out in your message).

    5) There must, therefore be a First Cause that, itself, had no preceding cause

    Error: This contradicts point 2.

    6) God uniquely answers the cosmological question by being the Uncaused First Cause

    Error: Only for a sufficiently broad (i.e. defective) definition of "God". I don't know many religionists who would claim their god has no consciousness, intelligence or will. But there's nothing saying that a "first cause" has to be conscious, intelligent or willful.

    7) God, therefore, exists and created all that is.

    This is stated as the final conclusion but the real final conclusion that the overwhelming majority of IDers hold is that this "God" is the christian god and the universe was created as described in the bible. The IDers just gloss over that bit even though they have no way at all to make that connection.

    In short, the Intelligent Design people have not set themselves up to fall quite so easily. While misguided, their argument is not so ridiculous as the media would like it to be...unlike strict Creationists, whose claims are patently ridiculous and disprovable with the scant evidence we already have in hand.

    I would say that they still fall pretty easily. But the main reason that ID isn't taught in science classes is that it isn't science. There's no disprovable theory being made here. No observations are made, no experiments run. It's just fantasy. And in the U.S. it's just creationism by another name.

    Disclaimer: I am one of those Christians (i.e., most of us) who thinks that evolution seems like a solid theory and doesn't see how it shakes our religious foundation to allow science to do it's job.

    This is not an unreasonable position for a christian to take since the Theory of Evolution doesn't say that the process couldn't have been kicked off by some entity. The Theory contradicts a literal interpretation of the bible but there are so many problems with a literal interpetation of the bible that Evolution is the least of an inerrantist's worries.
  • Re:5 words... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sj0 ( 472011 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @10:07AM (#11360852) Journal
    God created this world. It's arrogance and ignorance of the highest degree for men to say they understand how He did it.

    I'm not talking about the evolutionists, I'm talking about those who don't even want to look at the world God created for clues about how He did it before declaring that they know how the world works because of literalist interpetations of the bible.
  • Re:5 words... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SharpTenor ( 822392 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @10:12AM (#11360900)
    "Separation of church and state!" 1. Even though we know the subtext of the sticker, keep in mind there are many more "theories" out there aside from intelligent design and evolution. (I hate seeing the word "theory" too because I know it means something different in science then it does in a laypersons definition.) 2. What religion is endorsed in that sticker? Where does it reference Genesis 1:1 or John 3:16? Does it give you the address of the church it's endorsing?
  • Re:Yay! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Major Lame Brain ( 844217 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @10:19AM (#11360967)
    It's actually quite tiring to try to make rational arguments to "believers" who seem to lack the ability to recognize what, to me, are pretty straight-forward logical arguments.

    Here's a simple description of evolution in progress over the last hundred years:

    A while ago, some guy discovered that penicillin (sp?) killed a lot of bacteria quite effectively -- as a result the medical community (and the human population taken as a whole) received the benefits of antibiotics. Well antibiotics are incabable of killing every bacterium in a given host -- especially if the entire percribed course isn't taken). The result is that those bacterium with an existing resistance (not immunity -- just enough better able to withstand the assault that they don't die) to the treatment are the ones that survive to create progeny. They pass their resistance on to their "children". Those children are then subjected (possibly in a different host) to another treatment, maybe even of a different antibiotic, and the cycle repeats. Ultimately, this produces a strain of, say, staphlococcus (sp?) that laughs at penicillin (sp?), and since species are simply our classification of organisms based on certain characteristics -- presto! a new species of bacteria. Get it?

    DNA, the agent of heredity (as much a theory as evolution is, I might add), is subject to occasional changes in the order of the nucleotides that make up it's structure -- errors in replication or mutagens that cause one of the nucleotides to be replaced by another have been shown to occur regularly but only sometimes have any effect on the organism. Of course we know that DNA codes for the creation of protiens and if the change in the order of nucleotides is sufficient than the type of protien is different enough to affect the function of a critical action (like the ability to deal with penecillin (sp?)).

    Simple enough right?

    I'd be delighted to hear a well reasoned argument that describes how we now have resistant strains of bacteria that relies on intelligent design instead. Maybe God *wants* us to get gangrene so he just creates a new variety while we wern't looking and tricks us meanwhile by allowing observed bacteria as they evolve in a laboratory?

    I know that ID really means that life is too complex to have arrisin (sp?) by chance but rather required an Inteligence to allow it to happen -- but that is untestable, unrepeatable, and un-observable, and make no predictions about future observations -- so it isn't science and has no place except in philosophy or religeon classes.
  • Re:5 words... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14, 2005 @10:25AM (#11361014)
    So, what you are saying is God believes in the theory of evolution?

    Why is this such a stretch? Which shows a more farsighted, all knowing God?

    a.) you make everything static and you are done

    b.) you start a process that you know will eventually lead to what you want to create, but get see all the interesting things that happen along the way

    to assume a, then God must believe that the destination is all that is important, in which case, why not skip right to the end and why even create man as he was created. The eventual goal is to be united with God, according to most faiths. To even have us living on earth, would imply that it is not the destination that that is most important to a God would have creted man, it is obviously the destination that matters, in which case, evolution only makes sense, it is the process that is more important, and perhaps more interesting to him. By creating a process that has the possibiity of some random results, God is running a few "What if" scenerios. If this is true, then I think man really was created in God's image. (And for those who have made stupid comments earlier, it is not a literal exact duplicate image. Man was made in God's image in the same way that your child will be created in your image.)

  • by Aguila ( 235963 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @10:37AM (#11361149)
    I take offense at the parent's summation of my beliefs about religion, particularly his putting words in my mouth claiming I believe "It [religion] doesn't need to make sense." Before you attack somebody this way, make sure you know what you're talking about.

    Religion makes quite a bit of sense, and if Catholicism did not answer and agree with more of the facts I have observed about existence than any other explanation, I would not be a Catholic. You claim the basic beliefs of a Catholic are contradictory and absurd. (I assume you meant contradictory to science.) Well, let's examine the beliefs you stated:

    the existence of an all-powerful/all-knowing being - Science says absolutely nothing against this, and the existence of miracles (many documented, many non-subjective, but not qualifying as scientific proof as we cannot command God to provide miracles on demand) provides ample evidence.

    life after death/heaven and hell - Please tell me which scientist has died and reported back that there is nothing. Science implicitly cannot measure anything about what happens after death, as we cannot provide an observer. Strong argument in favor of religion is that science also cannot explain life itself (organic life yes, but not the concept of making choices). I have more evidence for my ability to make decisions (true decisions, not computations) than I have for even gravity. Pure science has not yet offered any explanation of how I as a purely material being could make a real choice. Therefore, there is more evidence for religion (albeit not a specific one) than for the theory of gravity.

    creationism: If you had actually read my post which you were attacking, you would have seen that I am not a creationist (and neither is the Catholic Church). The Catholic Churh has no problem with evolution assuming you allow that God created man, through evolution.

    Please at least understanding what you are attacking before you do so. I have applied all my scientific skill to my examination of my religion, and have never found a true contradiction. Religion, for the most part, addresses issues that are not measurable by science, such as what happens after death. For the rest, there is strong evidence for religion. I'm not ignoring the contradiction; I have searched and found there is none.
  • by Dr. Evil ( 3501 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @10:56AM (#11361382)

    "Therefore, it is not a fact"

    Now that's not even a theory, that's a pure assertion.

    The theory of Evolution has clearly not been proven untrue, since we're not privy to a scientific examination of the unfolding of creation. Whether or not the theory of Evolution describes the facts which led to our existence will never be known. To say it is not a fact, is to presume that you have some supernatural insight. You do not.

    (Despite reigious beliefs which you may or may not posess, your lack of supernatural insight into the creation of the universe is a fact and it's quite impossible to contradict in any objective way.)

  • Re:5 words... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Decaff ( 42676 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @11:06AM (#11361540)
    I'm not talking about the evolutionists, I'm talking about those who don't even want to look at the world God created for clues about how He did it before declaring that they know how the world works because of literalist interpetations of the bible.

    This is because scientists look at the world with an open mind. We don't go out looking for clues about how He did it, because we don't assume anyone did it - if we did assume that, it would not be a useful scientific approach.

    The problem with assuming that there are these clues is that almost all the discoveries that were thought to be clues of God's work have turned out to be false, and could be explained far more simply. There comes a point where there is no more room for these clues, as almost everything can be explained - we are very close to that stage with evolution and biology.

    Have you heard of the 'God of the Gaps' argument, and why it is flawed?
  • Re:5 words... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sj0 ( 472011 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @11:22AM (#11361765) Journal
    I'm not saying ANYTHING as fact in the domain of science or God. I'm talking about why the creationists opinions are further from the reality set forth by God than the scientists. The former rely on an interpetation, a philosophy divorced from the world and created by man in an attempt millenia ago to explain what God had done, but the latter relies on examining this earth, created by God, and trying to understand the processes which lead to this moment and the processes which run the world.

    If you start with the proposition that God created the world, then you cannot follow with arguements that observing and learning about world won't help you learn more about the world god created.
  • Re:Thank God! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Alsee ( 515537 ) on Tuesday January 18, 2005 @12:05PM (#11396040) Homepage
    in my experience Atheists don't seem to directly oppose non-christian beliefs

    There are actually very good reasons it tends to appear that way. In a democracy who has the power to (intentionally or inadvertantly) cross the line? The majority. Who is in the majority? Christians. In fact there is no minority strong enough to really even attempt to cross the line. Also any minority infringment against the majority would be blatantly obvious to everyone on both sides. The minority wouldn't it in the first place, and if they did try it would get shot down before it even became an issue.

    So when infringments crop up, it is de facto by the majority.

    On the other side, who is the largest minority to raise the objection? I beleive generally it's the atheists. I also think that when an infringment is specifically against another faith it is tends to be very clear and resolved quitely and quitely. Anything that targets Jews or Muslims just isn't going to survive long enough to be an issue.

    And then there's the nature of seperation of church and state, that to ensure individual freedom of religion the government must remain silent on the subject. It is easy to conflate government silence with advocacy of atheism.

    Or when someone hijacks the government as a megaphone for their religious agenda, and that megaphone gets switched off, they tend to take it as an attack on their personal speech and freedom. They have trouble seeing that the target was the megaphone, not them or their speech. That telling the government to "shut up" on religion is an attempt to shut up everyone on religion. I have several times seen people equate "public life" with the government.

    This cronic situtaion and appearance has also naturally led to the offenders claiming victimhood and doing everything they can to amplify that image. The propaganda is a mile thick. There are many christians who are absolutely convinced the American Civil Liberties Union is some sory of devilbeast hellbent of exterminating religion. You can show them a frikin' newspaper clippings of the ACLU fighting FOR religion in school and they will refuse to beleive it, that the ACLU is evil and would never do such a thing. They'll say the newspaper clipping is a fake before they'll accept that they have been decieved by propaganda. These sorts of court cases are generally very easy to distort and make for great propaganda. Just leave out the part about targeting the government and magically it becomes religion itself that's under attack.

    the position that should be adopted for equality is allowing each religion to pray in schools, not none

    That is a common "demand", but that is rarely what they actually mean. I'm not going to try to read anying into your saying it, I'll just cover how "they" make a conflict out of it. It's A perfect example of how these stories get distorted.

    Students ARE allowed to pray in school. Students can always engage in silent prayer at will. They can probably engage in non-disruptive prayer pretty much at will. They can certainly pray however they like during any free time. And I would expect that any reasonable special accomadations for prayer could be met.

    So if all they really want is to be allowed to pray in school, well, they already have it. No conflict. The battle is that that isn't really what they want. What they really want is official school establishment or endorsment of prayer. They want to take official time to halt the class and direct the students to pray.


    Government power cannot be used to further a religious purpose. The government cannot put you in prison for not praying, the government cannot order you to pray, the government cannot even suggest that you should pray. And of course the government cannot imprison you for praying, cannot order you not to pray, and cannot even suggest you should not pray. At least they cannot do so for religious purposes. If you sit down to pray in the middle of the road they can

The best book on programming for the layman is "Alice in Wonderland"; but that's because it's the best book on anything for the layman.