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New Mexico Drops Creationists, Decides to Evolve 666

Large Green Mallard writes "In a move sparked by Kansas's decision to stop the teaching of evolution, New Mexico has decided that teachers no longer have to teach Creationism, the view preffered by Kansas. The Story at CNN also mentions that Kentucky has erred on the side of political correctness and has decided to delete all references to the theory of evolution, instead referring to it as a 'change over time.'"
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New Mexico Drops Creationists, Decides to Evolve

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  • Don't confuse the habits of a lower animal to be true emotion. If you think that your cat loves you, you have likely never experienced love.

    I would concede that your cat shows traits, but not emotions.

  • 'science provides proofs without answers; religion provides answers without proofs'
  • The last book of the Bible is Revelation. Not Revelations. There is only one revelation in that book, not several.


  • So does this mean that you are worth just as much/little as some animal out in a field somewhere? Does it mean that you are only worth as much as some animal? Humans are far superior to animals. If you feel that humans are only as signifigant as animals then why do we not put homeless people in cages as we do dogs? Why don't we give animals half the luxuries of humans? Because they are animals! Humans mean and are worth much more than any animal ever could be.
  • I'm definitely not convinced spirituality and
    emotions are anything other than complex chemical
    and electrical reactions in the body. Intellect
    is probably controlled in large part by genetics
    and how our brains are formed (along with our
    environment). Morality is learned behavior.

    And while those three or four things together are
    probably not all present in animals to the same
    degree, I do not feel the need to attribute them
    to a god, when natural processes could explain
    them just fine.

    If the definition of soul is "that which separates
    man from beast," then I can live with the above
    definition. But if the definition is "that thing
    that god gave us," then I obviously cannot.

  • The New Scientist has an article about how the earth is losing water much faster than thought possible - and 5x faster than it's being replenished. [] I thought this was an interesting discovery when I came upon it the other day. (For those that weren't properly educated, Genesis says the waters came from the "deep" within the earth.)

    The fact that they appear to be going back there is enough to make one ponder a bit. I wonder what impact this has on our conjectures about the earth's history when the effect is projected back in time? Does the effect vary with time? Is there a good way to tell?
  • 'Evolution' itself is very easy to observe, because all it implies is that the gene pool of a species will change over time. "Speciation" is when a new species is created that did not exist before.

    The definition of a species is something that can breed with another of its kind and produce fertile offspring. That's why we don't have different species of dogs, just different breeds.

    To observe evolution, all you have to do is that basic petri dish experiment where you grow some bacteria, put something in that kills most of it, and keep doing it until you have a strain that is immune to that chemical. That's evolution.

    Evolution in and of itself is not only provable, but it is observed all the time. It is the origin of life that creates controversy, and many people mistake "Evolution" to mean that life came from absence of life (a completely separate but reated question). Using the phrase "change over time" in schools and ignoring the origin of species would allow something to actually get done. Anyone who has taken biology in high school knows that usually when a teacher utters the word "Evolution" he/she meets an immediate stone wall with any student that subscribes to Creation. Using different terms sends the message: "I'm not trying to challenge your beliefs here. If you want to believe in Creation I can't stop you, but I AM teaching you science, so I want you to realize that species today are observed to change over time, and diverge into new species."

    And be realistic - we can't expect to do any better than that.

  • as Physics is today. It's what we's happening right now.
    Try going to for a better perspective.
  • That's not science at all.

    There's a difference between a "scholar" and a "scientist". The whole earth/wind/fire/water bit wasn't based on anything remotely resembling scientific reasoning, whereas evolution is. The whole "theory" vs "law" debate is based on scientific descriptions and definitions, which has nothing at all to do with whatever scholarly observations made about the 4 elements.

    Thus your argument is flawed.
  • I happen to be Jewish and out of reverence to the lord's name I don't write it out. Also when I said second I ment sec. as in a unit of time, I appologize for not being more concise.
  • "You really think that if they start putting creationists on school boards, it will all be the reasonable catholics or whoever you're talking about that actually cares about science? No, of course you're going to have a number of yahoos. "

    Let's try looking at this another way --
    "You really think that if they start putting evolutionists on school boards, it will all be the reasonable Darwinians or whoever you're talking aobut that actually care about science? No, of course you're going to have a number of lamarkians and lysenkoists."

    Sounds pretty silly doesn't it? School boards are mostly elected AFAIK. Are you advocating a beliefs test for elective office in the US? I hope not.

  • CRConrad seems to think that if he claims that science is anti-God and modern we should all turn our backs on God and our history. But the scientific method hasn't demonstrated either the existence or non-existence of God and frankly hasn't examined the subject much.

    I wrote on this forum that it's the job of reasonable scientists to flush out and denounce anti-religious bigots like the fellow above and that the failure to do so has led to many religious people viewing scientists in general as similarly bigoted and anti-religious. I look forward to proof that true followers of the scientific method will point out CRConrad's errors.

  • Sorry to hear about your spiritual troubles. My wife is a doctor in internal medicine so I have given more thought than I otherwise would have on the abortion issue.

    I think that you may wish to take a deeper look at the catholic position on abortion. It's sort of like the catholic position on euthanasia. You aren't allowed to euthanize somebody as a catholic. But it is no sin to morphine them to the point where they don't feel pain even if that point results in respiratory arrest and death.

    Similarly, it is sinful from a catholic perspective to provide abortion services but if legitimate medical treatment ends up in the death of a fetus there is also no sin. I'm not an apologist or a theologian but you may wish to try Catholic Answers [] for a group of people who may be able to give you the full catholic position. You may still leave the church, but at least then you won't be doing it in angry ignorance of the facts.


  • "I'm sorry I don't really have time to discuss this point with you properly, but I must mention that this is quite a bizarre conclusion you get here. Gödel himself was a mathematical platonist; for example, he believed that there were such objects as nautral and real numbers, and that some statements were true of them while others were false of them, even beyond what we can actually prove about them. Thus Gödel's theorems show us an unprovable statement of arithmetic which is actually true (the statement that encodes its own unprovability)."

    Yes, I'm aware Godel was a Platonist. However, thanks to his result, many mathematicians today aren't. And in fact there are competing theories of the reals (Robinson's infintesimal numbers e.g.) that suggest there may be more than one "correct" model of the reals. Though some mathematicians believe in a Platonic model for mathematics, it's just that -- philosophical belief. Religion enters here too, as religious mathematicians often prefer a God-created Platonic mathematics that humans discover. Others believe that mathematical systems are created by the mathemtician's choice of axioms, all consistent systems being just as "correct" as any other.

    "I can't remember Tarksi's position regarding this, though."

    What Tarski showed was that a mathematical system that defines truth internally (as Godel defined provability internally to number theory) must be inconsistent. Unlike Godel, I haven't read Tarski's actual paper, but that is my recollection of it from my foundations classes ages ago. What he believed, I don't know either, but I'm not sure it's relevant exactly. :)
  • I know nothing about the Bible, but in the Good News Bible it says that some people think that this is a description of a hippo, others think that it is a legendary creature.

    Yep, most footnotes say something like that. If they're correct, then the leviathan is the only crocodile that breaths fire.


  • That wasnt really the point I was going for, I wanted to compare the worth of humans to animals.
  • This is a fascinating subject, but I really have to read this book I got right now :-).

    I'll just mention that I have read Tarski's "The Concept of Truth in Formalized Languages", and what he was trying to do is to put in more precise terms the good ole correspondence theory of truth; that a sentence is true iff it corresponds to a current state of affairs. Models are what he uses to formalize the notion of "states of affairs". (BTW, this is a very hurried exposition, so if anyone has to correct me, be kind).

    However, I do remember from a Semantic Conception of Truth grad course I once took that it is posible to have a consistent language that includes its own truth predicate. Most of the languages that have been proposed with this feature, however, abandon bivalence (that is, they allow formulas to be something other than true or false) and have quite complicated semantics (involving successive interpretations of the self referential sentences, up into the infinite ordinals-- now that's esoteric). Also, somebody (sorry, don't have the reference here) proved that Tarski's conditions for a language to permit a self-referential construction has also been proved defective.

    Let me be a bit more precise. What Tarski did was give list of criteria that a language had to meet in order to define its own bivalent truth predicate, and then show that any language that met that criteria was inconsistent.

    You (and I) concede that mathematical Platonism is belief. However, I take this to illustrate my earlier criticism, that Godel and Tarski did not prove anything with regard to the nature of truth itself (which is beyond mathematics). Anyway, before Godel came along, there were anti-Platonists. Think of Hilbert, or the Intuitionists. Even if many mathematicians today aren't Platonists thanks to Godel, it is not thanks to Godel that there are anti-Platonists at all :-).

    You might want to check up the so-called "Revision Theory of Truth". I only remember by now the name of just one of its exponents, Herzberger, and the name of one of his articles, "Naive Semantics".


  • Entry for the Revision Theory of Truth [], in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Has an exposition and bibliography.


  • if they can decide NOT to teach children about the truth, they can also decide to teach them a lie can't they. I say we nuke those idiots

  • by bmabray ( 84486 ) on Saturday October 09, 1999 @05:02PM (#1626276) Homepage Journal
    I have to say, I agree with New Mexico's decision. If the standard of separation of church and state is to be upheld in public schools, then either no creationism can be taught, or every major religion and/or ethnic group's creation story needs to be presented as a possibility.

  • by grmoc ( 57943 ) on Saturday October 09, 1999 @05:04PM (#1626277)

    This story reminds me of a story about a Senator in an estimeed Bible -belt state who proposed defining PI as 3 because it was absurd that it might be 3.14...

    IN any case, evolution != change over time

    Here is the defn:
    evolution \Ev`o*lu"tion\, n. [L. evolutio an unrolling: cf. F. ['e]volution evolution. See Evolve.] 1. The act of unfolding or unrolling; hence, in the process of growth; development; as, the evolution of a flower from a bud, or an animal from the egg.

    2. A series of things unrolled or unfolded. ``The whole evolution of ages.'' --Dr. H. More.

    3. (Geom.) The formation of an involute by unwrapping a thread from a curve as an evolute. --Hutton.

    4. (Arith. & Alg.) The extraction of roots; -- the reverse of involution.

    5. (Mil. & Naval) A prescribed movement of a body of troops, or a vessel or fleet; any movement designed to effect a new arrangement or disposition; a maneuver.

    Those evolutions are best which can be executed with the greatest celerity, compatible with regularity. --Campbell.

    6. (Biol.) (a) A general name for the history of the steps by which any living organism has acquired the morphological and physiological characters which distinguish it; a gradual unfolding of successive phases of growth or development. (b) That theory of generation which supposes the germ to pre["e]xist in the parent, and its parts to be developed, but not actually formed, by the procreative act; -- opposed to epigenesis.

    7. (Metaph.) That series of changes under natural law which involves continuous progress from the homogeneous to the heterogeneous in structure, and from the single and simple to the diverse and manifold in quality or function. The pocess is by some limited to organic beings; by others it is applied to the inorganic and the psychical. It is also applied to explain the existence and growth of institutions, manners, language, civilization, and every product of human activity. The agencies and laws of the process are variously explained by different philosophrs.

    The fact that controversial shouldn't stop it from being taught in schools! Frankly, I personally don't care about how I came into being other than knowing about my family's lineage for a few generations, but I find it offensive that the legislature would remove that word from the curriculum because some nuts find it offensive.

    Wouldn't it be sufficient to teach both?
    Really, how long can it take?!
  • just never move to kansas.
  • It's good to see that another state is taking a step forward towards science rather than a step forward toward creationism, in which there is no hard evidence that validates the matter.

  • maybe Kansas will join us the rest in the 20th while they still have a few months left...........
  • The big issue is that it's never been proven. For instance, with Creation, where did God come from ? For Evolution/Big Bang, where did the chemicals come from ? No-one can authoritively say "this is right", because no-one really knows for sure ... so theoretically, neither should be taught !!

  • Many creationistm activists argue that evolution is merely a theory, and not a fact. We must keep in mind that _gravity_ is also a theory.
  • I believe you meant "biological" evolution. :)

    Evolution is not "as much a fact as Physics". Physics has observable and proven laws. Evolution is still a theory for a reason. No one can find any proof for it. There are no inbetween forms - which should permeate the fossil layer if evolution were true.

    Instead, we hear about archaeological evidence that supports stories in the Bible. But no one wants to believe the Bible because it's tied to Christianity and Christianity claims exclusivity to the Truth (capital T). The world doesn't believe in Truth anymore - everything is relative and subjective and there is no such thing as an absolute. However, the statement "There are no absolutes" is an absolute itself. because it absolutely denies the possibility of absolutes.

    Try a website with real information. Take a look at [] or [] for a scientifically supported view on Creation. (And follow their links, too - there's alot of proof out there for intelligent creation. It takes more faith to believe in evolution without proof than to believe in creation with proof.

  • no, i'm advocating beliefs tests being avoided.. i'm saying people shouldn't be chosen on the basis of their opinions on creationism, they should be chosen on the basis of their ability to teach/run a school system.

    most of the people pushing creationism are doing so for religious reasons and not scientific reasons. since science is the point of a science class.. well, science ought to be more imporant than religion.

    whatever. this is a kind of a dumb argument anyway and i'm sorry i started it.
  • As someone who escaped from Kansas, I can report first hand that not "changing their curriculum" means basically ignoring evolution, which is also true of most midwestern & southern states. Everyone I know from the midwest that knows the theory learned it on their own time.

    Evolution is given a cursory one or two days, and not exactly talked about in great detail.

    One doesn't have to look far to see how the Board of Education got its odd ideas.

    There is an article in Education Week (, I believe) that talks about this trend a bit.
  • As many evolutionists have pointed out, there are many different creation stories. Of course, I think that the biblical one is closest to the events as they happened but that doesn't mean that I or many others are blinded by the fact that not everybody believes in the bible.

    Most people who worked on the constitution and approved it were religious of one faith or another. It is this very diversity of their individual faiths that ended up in the creation of the first amendment and the religion clause. Unfortunately, some people are promoting irreligion above religion and are using evolution as a way to brainwash. You can see this on some of the posts in this thread.

  • By every objective measure we have of the performance of public schools (granted, the tools are fairly crude standardized tests: ICTM, etc), they are doing a better job than they ever have. These test results are widely available.

    This is particularly amusing when conservatives keep moaning about how we need more standardized tests. All the results contradict what they say about the public schools.
  • You must not think much of biochemist professors. If you would have followed the link you would have found out that he has a doctorate in biochemistry and teaches at Lehigh University. By your rights his doctorate in a relevant specialty science doesn't earn him the right to have his arguments seriously discussed. He opposes the orthodoxy therefore he must be a kook.

    His points on the difficulties that evolution encounters on the biochemical level deserve more than a dismissive wave. He may be wrong, but he's no kook.

    When we dismiss challenges to an orthodox scientific idea then we aren't doing science anymore but power politics. You demonstrate the point admirably.

  • Funny, on the cover of the book is the banner "The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution". I could swear that I read it a few times trying to punch holes in it and couldn't. While abiogenesis is covered as well, it hardly takes the majority of the book.

    I did read a number of the critiques from and also Behe's response []. Frankly, I found Behe fairly good at responding to his critics, more than enough for me to label this challenge to the evolutionary models of today as not adequately answered.

    One of the typical tactics that I found disturbing in the archive was the use of straw men. Behe never claims that the Krebs cycle is an irreducibly complex system but Keith Robinson spends much space demonstrating that the Krebs cycle isn't and tries to claim that this refutes Behe.

    Another tactic was to claim that a large number of papers actually answered Behe's criticisms but wait! If you look at another link critical of Behe, you find a critic admitting that there isn't actually much in the literature discussing the areas that Behe raises. Behe himself addresses some of these papers and complains that some are guilty of spinning stories and not providing any chemistry or math to back them up. He calls this wishful thinking "Calvinism" from Calvin and Hobbes (not the protestant reformer). He complains about the lack of rigor in evolutionary thinkers when they examine blood clotting and several other elementary biochemical systems.

    The point I'm trying to make is that evolution, while clearly explaining some things, isn't very helpful in others. It certainly doesn't explain everything yet and may yet be refuted by an intelligent design argument.

    I don't think that it is kooky or even particularly imprudent to be reluctant to use the coercive power of the state to mandate the teaching of evolution without at least including the serious critics like Behe.

    Instead of admitting the incompleteness of evolutionary theory and taking Behe and other challengers seriously there is fury and jihad from many supposedly dispassionate scientists. The sad storyy of Forest Mims and Scientific American in 1990 is a decent example. Mims was never going to write about evolution but about amateur science projects. His belief in creationism doomed his chances for permanent hire even though everybody agreed that his actual work was quite good. What was Scientific American asking Mims opinion on a subject that had nothing to do with his prospective job?


  • A friend of mine and I was having debate about evolution/creationism and he was giving me all these arguments against evolution that he heard from some guy. The problem was, the arguments weren't about evolution. He was telling me about how the evolutionists believe that moon was getting closer to the earth and how the oceans show signs of the great floods and etc. etc.

    What many creationists don't understand is that when you disprove a part of a theory, the theory adapts to take in the new evidence. I would like to see the Bible be that flexible.


  • Well, my rebuttal is short and to the point -

    As with any new skill you plan on absorbing, the most efficient method is to find somebody that already knows it and exchange ideas. The point is that you're more likely to be receptive to somebody's ideas if you go out and find them and ask them than if somebody else decides what you will and will not learn on your own. To quote Plato - physical excercise, when compulsory, does no harm to the body. Education, when compulsory, obtains no hold on the mind (sorry if I mangled the quote).

    And as to 'limiting' other people to learning on their own.. that's gotta be about the most absurd thing I've heard all week. If you'd like to go into that further, I could make the assertion that the sum of human knowledge was created by self-taught people, and passed on so that each successive generation could improve upon the design(s) and idea(s).


  • If any of you would like a religion that does embrace the theory of evolution, check out the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, a.k.a. the Mormons. I was raised as such and have sense moved away from it, but have had some good conversations with my brother, a practicing Mormon and biology teacher. If you were curious...

  • Is this poster trying to be sarcastic, or is this the pot calling the kettle black?

    --Wondering in New York
  • I thought it was called the LAW of gravity, if I'm not mistaken.
  • Your argument seems to be the "theistically guided evolution" that around 40% of Americans believe in (just behind the 45% or so that believe in creationism, and way ahead of the 15% or so that don't involve deities in their evolution). This makes some sense, if Genesis is viewed as allegorical, rather than literal, but viewing the Bible as anything other than literal tends to annoy a great many fundamentalists. There's also the slight problem that in Genesis plants are created before the sun is created, which is not how evolution worked.
  • by Katravax ( 21568 ) on Saturday October 09, 1999 @07:13PM (#1626358)
    • They seem to be splitting things up into "macroevoloution" and "microevoloution" with some hazy distinction between the two they never really get into. I mean, where's the line? I'm sure they would rather not have to pay attention to that, but you can't completely _ignore_ it; i mean, genetics isn't something you can ignore, and what they call "microevoloution" can kill you, since diseases do it constantly.

    Just for the record, microevolution and macroevolution are not words made up by creationists. Microevolution is the change within a species, but not resulting in the change to a new species, i.e. moths that change wing patterns based on the change in available resting places, but are still able to breed with the "old wing-style" moths. Macroevolution is the change of a species to a new species, i.e. the "new wing-style" moths would not be able to breed with the "old wing-style" moths.

    • Where does "microevoloution" stop and "macroevoloution" start? You can interbreed dogs and get new things; so are all dogs related? What about wolves? At some point in order for creationism to work you've got to point at one specific thing that begat all doglike creatures, or all catlike or cowlike or undersea protazoa or fish. But are all fish from the same ancestor? What about sharks? They're a lot bigger. Things get very hazy, especially if you pay any attention to the fossil record. You start looking for the one ancestor of all those things and find it's pretty similar to a lot of other things at that time.

    This was covered in my previous explanation. Creationism doesn't group things into "doglike" and "catlike" or "fishlike". Likewise, biology deals with specific species. Can a dog and a wolf breed? If so they're the same species. Can your two example fish breed? If so, they're the same species. However, for the point of evolution, "doglike" and "catlike" do have meaning, because we're trying to determine common ancestry of modern (or fossil-record) species. Just don't confuse the statements of evolution and creationism. Another misconception about creationism is that it explains all current species. It doesn't. Don't forget that those that beleive in the Biblical creationism would also beleive in Noah's arc, in which two of all creatures existing at that time (not necessarily those that were at creation) were loaded into the arc, and that current species are descended from those.

    • Oh, that's right, carbon dating is all lies. But then if THAT'S true, we've got to reevaluate a LOT of history, since we base dates of certain early historical things on carbon dating and similar technologies. All our dates must be wrong. And what about atomic science? it describes exactly how and why carbon dating works; if carbon dating is lies, then that means our entire hypothesis of nuclear decay is totally wrong.

    You're right about that. If the theories of nuclear decay are wrong, then that changes a lot. The point that scientists supporting creation make is that it's possible our theories on nuclear decay are wrong, and that the rate of decay is not constant (i.e. we haven't been observing decay for 5700 years to know for sure the half-life of Carbon-14, and haven't observed that the protons emitted by the sun for the past 700 centuries has been a constant (i.e. the decay is caused by proton bombardment, and 700 centuries is the "upper limit" of C-14 dating).

    • You can't really put creationism in a school. It isn't science.

    I agree. It isn't. I certainly wouldn't support the presentation of creationism as science. But please don't make the mistake that everything in your science book is good science either. See things like: there is no gravity in space, sound travels better though solids and liquids than air, friction is caused by rough surfaces, infrared light = heat, rainbows have only seven colors, laser light is "in phase", air is weightless, water drops are "pointy ovals", batteries store electrical charge, hot water freezes faster, water drains clockwise/anti-clockwise depending on your hemisphere, etc. So I wouldn't call Creationism science either. But then I would correct all the falsehoods that are taught as science also.

  • by jmweeks ( 49705 ) <> on Saturday October 09, 1999 @08:07PM (#1626361) Homepage
    I intend to explain a rather basic idea, though I have a feeling that the explaining could get rather long. At any length, I plan to show why creationism (or more accurately evolution-backlash) is gaining a resurgence currently.

    I think the major conflict between the the creationists and evolutionary theory is the misunderstanding of what evolution really is. Most people who believe in creation over evolution do accept micro-evolution (to not accept that bacteria evolves to become resistant to certain antibacterials would be to accuse scientists of outright dishonesty, not just misinterpretation of evidence).

    The major sticking point for creationists is not in fact evolution but biogenesis. How life came about. And even more importantly (though it really doesn't fall into evolutionary theory) how the universe came into being. Those asserting that man did not come from animals are in a similar camp to those who's basic aversion to evolution theory concerns biogenesis: They for the most part seem to be in acceptance of evolution of animals as long as it does not concern man (the 'in the image of God' argument).

    Neither of the above standpoints is necessarily exclusive of evolution, and in reality this is the great pitfall for Christian thought (or any other creationist thought, for that matter). Evolution is conceivably compatible with liberal Christian theory. It in effect has to be, for as it must do with all strongly founded scientific theory, to be viable Christianity must accept blatent reality.

    It is not however compatible in a lump sum, because big ideas do not become blatent reality until smaller parts from which they are derived become so.

    Christianity for a very long period of time accepted that species were static groups. Extinction was unfathomable (consider Noah's Ark...). Yet there came a point when the existence of extinction was undeniable. This accepted, it follows that species must also be newly formed to replace the old. This laid a strong groundwork for the idea of a changing world. The rejection of instructionalism (if not the whole of evolution) and selectionism's later support from genetics made microevolution nearly common sense. And today, as the human genome is being mapped and the patterns of similarity and dissimilarity between species are plainly discernable, evolution is becoming even more than scientific fact (or very close to scientific fact). Evolution is becoming an obvious reality. By this I mean it is becoming an underlying postulate of the common sense of existence. Like gravity, it will be taken for granted.

    That said, the cause behind the current evolution hostility may not be obvious. The near-acceptence of evolution by common sense and the near-compatibility between evolution and Christianity is a greater threat to Christianity than any radical (and incompatible) theory could be. The acceptance of evolution by the mainstream has been an erosive effort--as I demonstrated earlier.

    Evolution is derived from a number of small, easy to swallow (for the most part) ideas. So why does this present a problem to, for example, the Kansas school board? Simple: as it comes closer to being common sense, those people can see it in a more well-defined light. Suddenly it becomes apparent not only what evolution means (how acceptable it is) but what ideas may be derived from it. Returning to the beginning of this post, three major ideas that may be derived from strict evolution are biogenesis, man as a higher animal, and big bang-ish genesis (or others; I sort of like Stephen Hawking's idea of a vague non-beginnig as opposed to a distinct, pointed singulatity).

    As acceptence of evolution is not counter to the church in itself, rejection on a large scale becomes very difficult. Those who see the possible results have little recourse but to make evolution more loathesome by tacking on these possible derivatives to the evolution bandwagon. It is only at this point that they can point at evolution and say 'This is what they believe. Do you really want to believe this?' and present a converse to the added-on ideas. Creationism and creation science don't really address the core of evolution. Fortunatly for truth the manipulation is all too obvious.

    Jose M. Weeks
  • > If the standard of separation of church and state is to be upheld in public schools, then either no creationism can be taught, or every major religion and/or ethnic group's creation story needs to be presented as a possibility.

    Which reminds me of one of my pet peeves about the thought processes driving the creationist movement. To take one glaring example, they grasp at any straw which can be (mis)interpreted as evidence that there was, in fact, a great flood. But they remain blissfully ignorant of two facts:

    (a) If one item in your book of mythological history turns out to have some basis in fact, it does nothing to prove that any other claims in your book have any basis in fact. For instance, I could write a History of the World, fill it with conspiracy-theoretic nonsense, and salt it with a few well known facts. Would those facts make it any more true?

    (b) More to the point of your post: Suppose someone did prove that there had been a great flood. Would the creationists thereafter feel compelled to teach Babylonian and Greek mythology as fact too? Those cultures also had great flood myths. Why would a great flood "prove" the Hebrew account, but not the others?

    No, the problem is the parochial mindset. "My culture taught me X when I was a child, so X it is. All evidence must be interpreted to support X, but only X."

    It's October 6th. Where's W2K? Over the horizon again, eh?
  • How do you get rid of %90 of the hate in the world? Easy, get rid of 100% of the religions (thus, creationism).

    Yes, I believe religion is a breeding ground for hate. Its legal terrorism.

    That's quite convenient reasoning you have. I suppose that the actions of a few have sullied the reputation of organized religion. I concede that many heinous acts have been committed in the name of religion but there are few organized religions that espouse hatred as a virtue.

    To wit, the largest general category of religion in the the Western Hemisphere, Christianity, is based on the teachings of Jesus Christ. From Jesus' lips "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself" (Matthew 22:39 - King James Version). Anyone who professes to be Christian must live by this commandment. Those that fail to are not in harmony with the precepts of Christianity and are therefore not disciples of Christ. I am not as familiar with other religions but I believe similar principles exist in most world religions.

    It is actually identical to the Slashdot/Linux community. The official and accepted way to advocate Linux is a far cry from some of the activities taking place in the real world. Have your seen the rancor and vitrol of some of these "Linux advocates". Does that mean that Linux is a breeding ground for hate?

    The actions of a community reflect poorly on the foundation of that community; however, they do not make that foundation inherently wrong or even bad. There will always be people that make poor decisions and act in an unseemly manner. As a Linux advocate and a Christian, I cringe when a member of either group behaves in a way contrary to the standards and guidelines. It embarasses the entire community. Nevertheless, it does not invalidate the foundations of that community.

  • Actually, gravity is not a very agreed-upon subject. Based on simple observation, we obviously know that gravity exists, but we have a better understanding of how evolution occurs than we do of how gravity occurs. There are at least three conflicting theories as to why mass attracts other mass, and none have a whole lot of evidence behind them.
  • > they're just deluded... believers in faith

    I wouldn't have a problem with that. If they weren't trying to brainwash schoolchildren into the same delusion.

    It's October 6th. Where's W2K? Over the horizon again, eh?
  • This is the opposite of the experience I had at my (public) high school. It has a Fellowship of Christian Athletes (sponsored by some coaches...bit of a conflict of interest there), some sort of Christian Gospel group, and occasional prayers at the flagpole in the mornings (from which the students come in late to class and are excused). I've never heard of an atheist being allowed in to class late because he was reading philosophical literature and didn't show up on time.
  • There are many ambivalent posts here that I empathize with. Let me try to explain why this strikes nerves.

    There are two perennial sectarian subjects that seem to seek a focus at any opportunity: the exalted status of faith and the old ideological 'fight for the children'.

    If you listen long to Christian media, you will sense a preoccupation with persecution. The Christian is under siege. [] The mass media consists of "anti-Christian bigots". Gov. Ventura is a bigot. When it is suggested that 'bigot' does not apply to ideological matters, that pure assertions should be taken on their own merit---that faith must merit respect and not be guaranteed the dispensation of respect---a peculiar sort of cult insanity is exposed. The burden of proof lies completely on the believer and not on the unbeliever or the disbeliever? The Romans used a stake for crucifixion---at no time anywhere did they employ a crossbeam? The great historian Philo-Judaeus, born before Jesus and living long after the time of his reputed death, lived in Jerusalem during Christ's miraculous birth and the Herodian massacre? He was there for Christ's supposed grand entry into Jerusalem and for the crucifixion with attendant earthquake, magic darkness, and resurrection with the many witnesses to his heavenward ascent that amazed the world? And he makes no mention of Jesus or anything remotely like this story in his comprehensive history of the Jews during his life? The only other autochthonous historian, Justin of Tiberius, was a native of Galilee and in his incredibly detailed history we know how the crops did in each of these years, masses of political gossip, and have complete martial account of the land without a single mention of the savior?

    This is war! Attend Christian soldiers! This "free inquiry" is conspiracy! Myth discrimination! The Focus on the Family Christian Attorney's mailing list starts chugging. The Religious Liberties Protection Act has just passed in the House. CBN calls scientists elitist "bullies" (this from the chosen people). There is now an act in the New York senate introduced by Sen. Maltese making it a crime to "ridicule religious beliefs or practices".

    One prime front in that war is for the minds of the children. I attended a Catholic pre-school! I once read, "With other subjects we wait until the child has the mental maturity to grasp them. We do not start a child on analytical chemistry or solid geometry. We begin with small numbers and lesser skills in every subject---except religion. [...] other subjects wait, until the child is old enough to understand and evaluate it. But, for religion and the churches, it is literally the child or nothing; for if they fail to get the child, it is a matter of time before they get nothing."

    Even if we're talking about high-schoolers, mature minds, there is a desire for no discontinuity between early Sunday school and secondary education in these ontological matters. Mention in the context of science ironically reifies the Creation as a scientific 'live option'. I remember coming around about the time I read this by Arthur Schopenhauer, "There is no absurdity so obvious that it cannot be firmly planted in the human head if you only begin to impose it before the age of five, by constantly repeating it with an air of great solemnity."

    The resort to force of force when force of reason does not apply keeps its edge for all its repetition. It's the hot button for many like me. The Mediterranean societies of the time of Paul's Gospel weren't in a substantively inferior position to Enlightenment Europe; the western world seemed then poised for a scientific revolution. What came next is known as the Dark Ages: a supranational theocracy. So, unfair as it may be, I now see these ideas as arresting the development of humanity for over fifteen hundred years. Evolution is at least constructive. How much do you want to give up for a fable? Is all the allegory in history worth kissing Hank's ass? []
  • Ok, I'll admit that I'm a theist, and a rather naive one at that.

    I disagree (about the naive part.) You make perfect sense to me.

    It's just too bad that some people are convinced that they will be sentenced to eternal torture for using their own brains, curiosity, creativity, and common sense. Makes you think, doesn't it?
  • Behe's book is about abiogenesis, not []evolution [].

    Anyways, if you are interested in the subject, why not start with some critiques [] (which lead to links both pro and con). Or a biologist's critique [].

  • I'm a homeschooler who is basically self-taught (maybe I took French). I would still say that I know more the most of me peers in more subjects. While I'm technically doing 9th grade work, I already understand algebra (anybody want to tell my Mom that...) and don't even study for History.
    I already understand Physics and haven't ever taken a class on it. I've never taken a class on programming, and yet can write Java, Perl, C, C++, Python and UNIX shell.

    More reasons that self-taught is better:

    I. Learn what you like.

    II. At your own pace.

    III. In the manner the you like.

    IV. It has been said that to truly master a subject, you must teach it. In essence, your teaching yourself.

    In conclution, with very few exeptions, it is much better to be self taught. (note: there are many more reasons, I just write them all in)

    That's my $(2^4*3+1/7%3*2/100)
  • Well, they're not supposed to be here either, and a few teachers do follow the rules, but the majority of the teachers, being Christian, "forget" to mark the students tardy on these occasions.

  • The theory of evolution [...] holds that man is the descendant of apes

    This is one of the most common bits of misinformation about evolution; in fact, Homo sapiens does not derive from any current species of primates, sharing with them only common ancestry. The fact that a major news site like is spreading this notion only goes to show just how well-informed about the subject most of the world is. With [sarcasm]quality information[/sarcasm] like this, no wonder people are so fiercely opposed to evolution.

    Frankly, I thought someone at Slashdot would have already brought this up, as it's so blatant.
  • Frankly, you are missing the wide diversity of religious views on creationism. The Catholic and Orthodox churches are huge parts of christianity and they do not subscribe to the literalist points that you claim they do. Heck, the pope doesn't have a problem with the idea of God using the mechanism of evolution to bring about his glorious creation.

    There is no 7,000 year chronology in Catholic doctrine so your point on carbon dating is untrue for a huge chunk of christianity. Ditto for the Orthodox and that section of protestantism that does not use a literalist interpretation of the Bible.

    Science and religion do not necessarily have to be in contradiction. Where do you think Gregor Mendel was when he was growing those pea plants? He discovered the science of genetics working in the garden of a monastery. Try going out to the jesuitical observatory out in Arizona and argue with the tens of Jesuit/Astronomers that the pope funds to advance our understanding of the heavens. Let's not even try to categorize the important medical science work that is done at Catholic Universities and hospitals because the list would just be way too long.

    It's exactly this kind of broad brush, false, misleading, anti-christian bigotry that drives the religious up a wall. You don't read what people are actually saying on the other side of the issue or you encounter a few yahoos and think that everybody on the other side is the same. Try reading Darwin's Black Box [] for a more serious discussion of the problem of intelligent design and evolution.


  • Calling all creationists fools is stereotyping.

    There are people who still believe the world is flat an the round earth thing is just a big conspiracy.
    Would you think that calling all flat-earthers fools is stereotyping?

    Actually, I personally wouldn't, but not because I think they're right.. it's because I think stupidity is not necessarily the reason for their belief. I think there are other causes for people to believe in Creationism.. social factors and being taught it at a young age, as well as psychological comfort, and a host of other reasons that have nothing to do with "being fools".
  • by Millennium ( 2451 ) on Saturday October 09, 1999 @09:41PM (#1626459)
    This is sad. Truly sad. So many people engaged in what has to be the most pointless argument of all time (evolution and creationism answer two entirely different questions; they don't conflict at all and it's quite possible that they could both be right or both be wrong).

    I should also point out that people here are severely overreacting to the Kansas decision, mainly because of a rather key piece of misinformation: Kansas does not require schools to teach creationism. All the law does is say that evolution is not a requirement; no new requirements were set (therefore, most school curricula were not affected in the least, since most biology teachers prefer to teach evolution).

    Look. In the end, both theories are technically myths (or theories; use whichever term you prefer but it applies equally to both) anyway. We're never going to be able to conclusively prove either one unless someone gets a time machine and goes back with a camera. Personally, I'd love to see both turn out right, if only because the looks on the militant creationists' and militant evolutionists' faces would be priceless. Until that happens, the only truly honest and fair way to teach is to tell it like it is: we don't really know how life got here, here are the major theories, here are the flaws and merits of each; you'll have to decide for yourself what you believe.

    For the record, I believe both. Evolution answers how life got here but never touches on why. Creationism provides a reason why but never states exactly what happened ("God said 'Let there be light...' and there was light"; gee, how descriptive). That's the strange part of things; religion deals with cosmic purpose, science deals with cosmic order, yet somehow people have gotten it into their heads that two things which deal with completely different matters somehow conflict.
  • Actually I wasn't taught that when I went through grade school. But that misses the point, and its a straw man to boot. A better point is that Science is about change. Unlike Religion (and Creationism which is a religion), Science is not about protecting dogma or the current view of the universe, but about discovering the truth. Scientists are rewarded handsomely for adding to the collective knowledge of science - and even for demonstrating something new that may disprove some long held theory! This never happens with religions.

    When something is found to be wrong scientifically, science drops it (or evolves the prevaling theory to include it). Religion never does this.

    That bears repeating: Science changes with the evidence, Religion is about Dogma and never allows evidence to stand in the way of its mythology. Its the flashlight versus the bucket. Science is about looking at all the evidence, religion, when it looks at any evidence, is about only picking out those pieces that comply with dogma and ignoring everything else. So your examples are wonderful proof that science is indeed a pursuit of the truth, and not about preaching its dogma as some creationists have claimed. When new evidence comes to light, science, unlike religion (and creationism) adapts and evolves. Religion forces, science convinces.

  • Science thinks that evolution is true, and that that is the only possible explanation without a God, but that many people believe God eally did create us, and evidence exists to back them up.

    Actually, science does not at all indicate that evolution is "true" and the "only possible explanation". Why? Because the entire point of science is that nothing is ever certain. Evolution is the best explanation given currently available evidence. It is no more deemed "true" than Newtonian mechanics was a hundred years ago before Einstein. If a evidence is found to support a different hypothesis, THAT will become the new primary theory.
    Far from ever saying that things are "facts" or the "only true explanation", the power of science is in its flexibility and openness of amendment.
  • Ok, I'll admit that I'm a theist, and a rather naive one at that.

    The first time I came accross the term "Creationism" was as I started delving into science and reading about evolutionary theory, etc.

    Personally, I think it's quite interesting, our theories and ideas with respect to how the earth came about, and where the moderm man came from. Plus, the evidences for these things do indeed provide some good material for thought.

    But that doesn't kick out the idea of a God, does it? I mean, if I was God, and I had to explain the whole thing to an ancient Human trying to write the book of Genesis, I wouldn't start out with "First, there were these microbes...." No, I'd say something like "OK, day one - organize some matter, day two - provide some light, etc." Plus, imagine how Moses woulda felt if God went and told him that, ultimately, his human body is a descendant of some pond scum or something. :) Not terribly enobling.

    Now, I realize that this kind of talk is heresy to some fundamentalist types out there. But, after all, just what IS Creationism anyway? Couldn't it be evolution after all?
  • by Signal 11 ( 7608 ) on Saturday October 09, 1999 @05:07PM (#1626495)
    While we're at it, how about just abolishing the entire concept of force-fed education and allow students to pursue their own personalized education? Socrates and Plato both patrolled the streets engaging in conversation with anybody who would listen, and look at what incredible works they came up with. Maybe these recent articles are foreshadowing a move towards the elimination of public education.

    More to the point - how many of you out there learned to use computers on your own? For those who are largely self-taught, how many of you would rate yourselves as better than your school-shaped counterparts?


  • The only way I could ever imagine it being "taught" is through "sunday school"...which really isn't's just indoctronation.

    I most certainly could not see creationism being taught in a "real" A.P Bio...there's no academic rigour to apply to it, no scientific studies done on any of the postulates...even the "religion" courses that I took had more rigour involved then this.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that you can "teach" a scientific theory, and verify it through experimentation (that's what those "labs" were for after all). You can only "read" religious theories, or state what they are...the reasoning behind it shouldn't really be teachable material, except maybe for history class.
  • It all might look like a big deal at the national or state level, but at the level where it's actually taught, this Creationism/Darwinism dilemna isn't a big problem.

    No matter what legislators think, the teachers don't ingrain either into the minds of students. For example, at my High School, whenever the issue of "How did we get here?" comes up, the teacher takes an extremely neutral position. Little, if any, debate occurs on this issue, mainly because students recognize that there are two sides of the issue, and nothing that they can say will change other's views on such deep issues.

    As for what is officially taught, evolutions is presented not as the actual truth, but rather as a theroy, and faults of Darwin's Theory as stressed as much as the actual evolution. Teachers don't want to risk their jobs and money trying to teach students theories, rather they simply let students think what they want. This is where the parents come in. The issue of origin is rooted deeply in religion, and just like abortion or the death penatly, it is the job of the parent to help form the opinion of the child. School will not teach you a choice on abortion, just like it's not the job of the school to teach you your stance on evolution. Students are made aware of the theory of evolution, but their stance is shaped primarily by their parents and faith.

    Peter Pawlowski

  • by Apuleius ( 6901 ) on Saturday October 09, 1999 @05:12PM (#1626505) Journal
    it is good to hear that New Mexico has a clue.
    Now, as for schools that don't, there is something I should point out:

    Why just the Christian creation story?

    If schools still continue with the Colorado or Kansas paradigm, then they must not only give equal time for creationism to join to evolution, but also the following theory, which I believe deserves equal time:

    The universe came into being when I thought it up,
    back in 1975.

    All of it, including the memories and history of people of days prior to 1975, were things I contrived in order to give the world context.

    It is not enough to teach creationism. Solipsism is a valid theory that deserves equal time.
  • What do creationists want? It's pretty simple, really. They want to eliminate a threat to their way of life.

    Creationists won't see reason on this. That's why they're Creationists.

    Science and evolution triumphant equals a populace that are no longer dogma-ruled sheep. If Creationism is false, then maybe the Judeo-Christian God is false. If God doesn't exist, you automatically become the reponsible party. If you can't reason about something as basic as this, how could you handle that?

    It says something about human nature and why change hurts... look how fervently people cling to this myth, rather than simply restructure their view of reality and their own place in it.

    Listen... let me tell you an open secret. God is dead. I killed him. He didn't make any sense and it was a mercy to us both.

    If something better comes along, believe me... I'll part ways with evolution for the thing which better fits the evidence before my very eyes.

    Razor Blue, TechnoMage
    shackled to tranquility / silenced for eternity / four walls no windows / in your bounding box

  • Yes, of course math and science are different, but I wonder how fundamentally.

    Mathematicians were at one point completely convinced (and some still are) that there is a Platonic reality that mathematics approaches in the same way science approaches physical reality. Impossible to get there, yet it somehow exists, waiting to be approximated.

    Hints of this same question are appearing in physics in subtle ways. For example what is "reality" if its basic parts are probability waves? Is Schroedinger's cat dead or not? Perhaps reality isn't as definite as you think, but more a phenomenon of coherent observations. Once the wave collapses, all observers agree. Reality is at the least a little fuzzy on the smallest scales. Complete predictability may be to science what complete number theory is to mathematics.

    I don't mean to imply that I personally think creationism coequal with evolution, BTW. I'm only maintaining that truth is a poor criterion to judge by, you can't even make it work with something as definite and simple as mathematics. Effectiveness is a more useful measurement and easier to apply. We should measure how much you have to assume versus how much you can explain to value a theory, not argue whether it's absolutely true or not.
  • The Urban Legends Reference Pages at list the pi==3 story [] as "false", although there was a similar effort in Indiana in 1897.
  • Truth is a weak foundation. Mathematics is on no firmer ground than evolution. Godel and Tarski showed that mathematics isn't about truth, it's about logical relationships between statements. Your system is never any better than your axioms, and no finite set of axioms can ever suffice.

    Actually they can according to an extremely amuaterish and ignorant theory I have. I figure that if there are a finite number of axioms in the universe and that truth does exist, then all axioms must be defined recursively. Think of the dictionary. Every word must be defined using another word in the dictionary. Look up the word 'the' once and see how often the word 'the' appears in it's own definition. 'The' is an extreme case. Logic concludes that all words in the dictionary must be defined recursivly.

    I also think that the more axioms there are, the more fully the axioms are defined. Just like the dictionary. If there was only one word in the universe, the dictionary wouldn't be very usefull. Two words is a little better. A hundred words are much better and start to yeild meaningful definitions. So on and so on.

    Hmmm. I wonder if someone has already thought of this. Probably, because I am not very smart.


  • It is this closemindedness that is the problem. People often say those that believe in creationism are ignorant, or closeminded, but other people have made up their mind that, for example, evolution is the ONLY way we came about and they wont even acknowledge any other possibility. Sounds like the scientific method has gone to hell. You are supposed to question, and look for new answers, always trying to learn. Closing off a branch of study just because you dont like it isnt a good idea- on either side.
  • That's the idea with scientific theory though...

    You have to choose the theory which best fits the available evidence.

    Evolution is currently the best fit. So much so that it can be considered true, with possible modifications as we learn more.

    Creationism, (and by creationism I refer to the fundamentalist Christian Genesis story) fails to explain all available evidence, and is contradicted by much of what it doesn't explain.

  • Just because you brought it up: there is a slight difference between evolution and adaption. An animal can make an adaption based on changing conditions, but does not have to evolve over generations in order to adapt (in all cases). Evolution works best when the creature is unable to adapt easily, thus making it harder to survive, and only the most fit pass on their genes.

    Ok, this is simply wrong. Evolution is when a more fit version of a lifeform survives and reproduces better than others. By doing so, the speices as a whole eventually aquires the new characteristics. Adaptation is when a more fit version of a lifeform survives and reproduces better than others. By doing so, the speices as a whole eventually aquires the new characteristics. What you said just doesn't make sense. "[M]ak[ing] an adaption based on changing conditions" is one step in the overall evolution process, that's all. "Evolution works best [...] on their genes." Yes, evolution will occur faster under adverse conditions, but that doesnt make it fundementally different from adaptation. Perhaps I misunderstood you, if I did, please elaborate and give examples.

    Now, to be on topic at least a little bit, it doesnt matter what they call it. As long as they teach it. It doesnt matter if it's right or not. Evolution is perhaps the best example of applying the scientific method that can be easily understood. A student can easily view the facts the teacher presents, and see very clearly how the scientific method was applied to produce the theory of evolution as it stood in darwin's time and as it stands today.

    I really hope that you don't really mean that incorrect things should be taught just because they are good examples! I stand for evolution and all, but this is not the reason to support it.

    Someone explain to me how the scientific method can be applied to the facts and come up with creationism, I'll submit and say ok, you can teach it. But you're never going to change my stance on the teaching of evolution unless and until a better theory is proposed.

    In all observations made by scientists, there is a possibility that what is observed is due to random chance. For example: I observe that some notable event (call it "A") occurs once each April over a three year period. I then hypothesize that "A" always occurs once every April. Based on my observations, there is something like a 1/144 chance that "A" occuring for 3 Aprils in a row was just a coincidence. But then if I observe that "A" occurs for an additional large number of Aprils, I will almost be able to rule out the possibility of "A" occuring this way by random chance. But, this is still a possibility, if a vanishingly small one, and in a completely correct scientific disscussion of the event, the possibility must be mentioned (you may recall the report of planet 10 a few days ago included the statement "there is only about a one in 1,700 chance that it is due to chance".)

    So... We have observed a very large number of things that point us towards believing evolution (and the big bang, and every other generally accepted scientific theory) are correct, but you can, using statistical methods, show that there is a 1/10^(some big number) chance that all of your observations are just coincedences and your explaination is wrong. This is what I mean by "I do not actually completely dismiss the biblical "theory" of creation. I simply assign it a very low probablity. "

    I am not sure how clear I have been (It is 2 a.m. after all), so I will be happy to try again later.
  • And later in life Einstein understood that God does throw dice, as far as Heisenbergs unceratinty principle was concerned. (AFAIK)

    I'm not sure that's true. Einstein was one of the founders of quantum theory, as well as special and general relativity, so he certainly understood the theory. I think he meant, when he said "God does not play dice", that although the experiments indicated entirely probabilistic effects at the fundamental level of Nature, he thought that if only we could understand it a little better, perhaps by uncovering something even more fundamental, we would see that the apparent "probabilities" are just due to our lack of knowledge. This hasn't happened yet!

    David Bohm's book "Wholeness and the Implicate Order" presents a version of quantum theory that is non-probabilistic and non-local at root, using hidden variables, and there are some others as well. But the vast majority of physicists reject these.

  • by cje ( 33931 ) on Saturday October 09, 1999 @08:46PM (#1626558) Homepage
    I'm getting more than a little bit weary of religious fundamentalists who suggest that anybody who does not subscribe to their narrow-minded, Biblical-literalist view of creation is an atheist. Look; I realize that we're talking about people's deep faith here. Lots of folks display absolutely no respect for the beliefs of others. It is wrong to call creationists "idiots." Most Slashdot readers inhabit countries that are free enough to allow people to believe whatever literalist diatribe they would like to believe.

    But there are certain realities here.

    We've got a mountain of evidence for evolutionary common descent. If this was a topic that did not conflict with people's religious views, nobody would even be debating this. It would be as widely accepted as the Blue Sky theory. Here's what we have:

    • The fossil record
    • Comparative anatomy
    • Comparative embryology
    • Comparative biochemistry
    • Genetics
    .. and the list goes on and on. All of these individual fields of study point to one thing: evolutionary common descent as the source of biodiversity on Earth. Now, "scientific creationists" can do whatever is in their power to exorcise these topics from public schools. But they do so at the risk of the education of our young people. And they do so while conveniently ignoring two basic facts:
    • Evolution says nothing .. repeat, nothing about where life came from.
    • Science does not rule out a higher power as a guiding force behind evolution.
    The bottom line is that equating belief in evolution with atheism is indefensible. 500 years ago, people were convinced that the Earth was flat, and that it was the center of the Universe. And then along came Copernicus and Galileo, suggesting that we were a small, uninteresting ball of rock that was moving .. orbiting the star we call the Sun. "Heretics!" they cried.

    They did things to Galileo; let's not talk about that.

    Guess what? People eventually learned that their faith was just as valid on a tiny ball of rock as it was when they were at the center of the universe. And as a hopeless optimist, this is where I see the evolution "debate" going; literalist creationists will eventually stop trying to place limits on the power of their God, and they will come around. Those that don't will quickly fade out. This is a process that is known as "natural selection." :-)

    Yes, I believe that I live on a tiny ball of rock orbiting a main sequence star located in the suburbs of a very large spiral galaxy. Yes, I believe that the evolutionary precepts of changes in the gene pool over time have resulted in the diversity of life on our small planet. No, I don't believe that all of this has happened in purely naturalist terms that modern science can currently understand.

    So, literalists: Stop putting words in my mouth.

    Thank ya verr much. :-)
  • by FelixTheFeline ( 95154 ) on Saturday October 09, 1999 @05:22PM (#1626560)
    If we are to take the early chapters of Genesis absolutely literally, then of course the answer is yes, the two are irreconcilable.

    However, very few Christians read Revelation, the last book of the bible dealing with all the apocalyptic end of world stuff, and expect to see literal dragons, bowls in the sky, etc. The language is highly symbolic. Mightn't we expect that descriptions of Creation, a situation also far outside of the environment our languages evolved to describe, might be symbolic too? And in that case, do we really need to take a Highlander-"there can only be one" approach?

    The order of Creation, etc in Genesis is broadly compatible with evolution (emphasis on broadly here). However, it is unlikely that the intention of the author was to give a scientific account of Creation. Science isn't what the rest of the bible is concerned with; relationships between God and each other are. The Creation vs Evolution debate is IMHO not only pointless, but demonstrates a lack of appreciation for the orthogonal roles of Big Bang-Evolution type ideas of science and the Why am I here-What is the point etc type ideas of the early chapters of Genesis.
  • Far be it from me to post yet another response to what looks like a very lengthy discussion, but I don't understand for the life of me why we can't seem to reconcile evolution with creationism. Obviously the seperation of church and state should keep this more homogenous view out of schools, no doubt, but let me ask a few questions and hopefully not step on too many people's toes.

    1. Is it implausible to assume that some deity(God, Buddah, whatever you choose to believe in)could have initiated the big bang, and in turn evolution?

    2. In the Old Testament of the Bible the creation of the Universe is depicted to have taken place in 7 days. Then in Revelations we see that 1 day to God = 1000 years to man. But what is a day, exactly, to some omniscient, omnipotent being? Does time have any meaning, or were these 'days' in question simply used to give us lowly mortals something we could relate to? Obviously the Old Testament would make far less sense if it said 'And God collided 6.7 trillion quarks with 5.5 million leptons as the oceans formed, further colliding to form primitive hydrogen isotops which later decayed into hydrogen and oxygen, combining to form the seas of the earth.' It would certainly not have the mass-audience appeal it has had over a millenium. So can we say that maybe, just maybe, what is stated in the Old Testament and Revelations aren't necessarily supposed to be taken literally?

    3. Is it again too much to assume that some deity ALLOWED evolution to happen along a course that eventually produced mankind?

    I could be wrong here, and I'm always open to alterative viewpoints. But people always seem to seperate creationism and evolutionism as opposite sides of the spectrum - why? Creationism doesn't pretend to answer all the questions as to how things came to be, and the scientists who most ardently argue that the big bang occured freely admit they don't know why or how it occured.

    My main point is simple -- these two viewpoints don't have to be so polarized. Combining the two together actually fills in a lot of gaps depending on how you look at it.

    Just my .02
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 09, 1999 @05:25PM (#1626585)
    This is God. I forgot my password which is why I'm posting AC.

    Well you guys amaze me with your intellect. You have figured out how I created you and everything around you. Hell, you're even figuring out how to create life too! As they say, like father like son. Heh heh..

    Now will you quit with this creationism vs. evolution argument already? It's really starting to get me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry. I created you using the technique you have called "evolution."

    Now will you please shut up and write me a USB driver for Linux?

    Oh yea, while I'm here, I thought you guys would like to know that Gates is that Antichrist guy you read about in Revolations. (You do read my work don't you?) When they start embedding WindowsCE in peoples foreheads in a couple of years you better not be one of the volunteers - or else!
  • Each statement can be true or false depending on which physical model you use. The physical models in which they are false (with the possible exception of #1) are a lot more useful than the physical models in which they are false. Which is why they are teached first.

    None of the models are likely to be an accurate representation of a Universal Truth, allthough they may all be pretty good approximations.
  • > A good teacher always tells you, "We're making
    > such and such an assumption, which makes our
    > answer just an approximation, but it's a pretty
    > good approximation." etc.

    And then he lose 95% of the pupils.
  • As I understand it, evolution was left out of the official state guidelines for what is supposed to be taught in schools. Therefore, each science teacher can choose either to teach it or not to teach it.

    However, national media seem to have distorted this to mean that evolution will not be taught.

    DISCLAIMER: My information is based on what the local newspaper in my real hometown reported when the decision was made. Therefore, due to biased reporting or the effects of time, this may not be 100% accurate either.
  • by smoondog ( 85133 ) on Saturday October 09, 1999 @05:33PM (#1626604)
    We rejoice about the NM school board making a good decision, but it wasn't always this way. Two years ago, I was working at the Santa Fe Institute and we heard that the school board was going to have a public meeting on a preliminary decision over how to word evolution in the teaching requirements. They wanted to take evolution off. So a bunch of fairly famous SFI researchers, Staurt Kauffman (sp?) and others, along with big name researchers from Sandia Nat'l Labs and Los Alamos Nat'l Labs.

    This fairly rural board (mostly conservative religious right types) had no idea the caliber of scientists in the room with them. Many highly regarded physicists, biologists and computer scientists all telling them it would be stupid to take evolution on the board. Anyway, to make a long story less long, after statements from very conservative families and scientists the board vote to keep evolution off.

    The good side of the story is that they already had much of evolutionary theory in there without using the words. For example they had statements like: teaching the theory that "The genotype and non-somatic mutations within it are inherited", etc. (paraphrasing rather poorly) They were just offended by, not suprisingly, the theory that modern simians and humans have a common ancestor.

    -- Moondog
  • with biological evolutionary theory. The only part I would revise is where some folks start talking about people coming from monkeys. My observations have led me to the conclusion that monkeys actually came from people.
  • IMO, the only reason evolution is not considered a "law" is because of the public (creationistic) response against it.

    It's pretty clear that small things evolve, and large things evolve in small amounts, but as we haven't been around for the thousand or millions of years to observe macroevolution first-hand, some feel that we can't justify calling it a law just yet.

    Though for all intents and purposes, it *is* truth. I have no problem considering it a law. Today we have no problem determining whether or not evolution occurs. The stuff we're still researching is *how* it occurred and what it did. There is no more research determining "if," because it's pretty much accepted that evolution is factual.

    I do agree perfectly with you that creationism is by nature a religious/faith subject and should not be taught in the same realm as science. The whole purpose of scientific studies is to give the student a critical, experimental eye with respects to the world around him. Asking questions is not bad. Keep science here and you'll be fine.
  • by jflynn ( 61543 ) on Saturday October 09, 1999 @05:38PM (#1626628)
    Truth is a weak foundation. Mathematics is on no firmer ground than evolution. Godel and Tarski showed that mathematics isn't about truth, it's about logical relationships between statements. Your system is never any better than your axioms, and no finite set of axioms can ever suffice.

    Just because evolution and creationism can't be proved true doesn't mean they're not useful. Note that the parallel postulate *or* its negation can be added to geometry and result in a consistent (i.e. useful) system. Hence the possibility of useful *and* conflicting theories is real. One is useful for planes, the other for curved surfaces.

    The danger isn't in studying either evolution or creationism. It's in asserting that either is truth eternal or claiming that one necessarily negates the other. Both may be useful when applied to a system modelling their particular suppositions.

    After studying them, my personal conclusion is that one is far more useful than the other because it requires far fewer assumptions. This seems to me a more rational basis for choice of what to teach in time limited classrooms, should such choice be necessary. Studying creationism can be valuable, if only to understand its assumptions.
  • "The current theories which are based on current axioms are *right*. However, according to Godel, there are theorems that can not be proved with current axioms. So mathematics is indeed about truth and it is based on axioms, which I believe are on very firm ground currently"

    Current mathematical theories are right in the sense that if you posit their axioms then their conclusions follow logically via a mechanical procedure of proof. If the axioms are true in a model, the theorems are too. I didn't mean to cast doubt on that.

    But prior to Godel many mathematicians felt that there was one true axiom set for number theory that could be used to deduce any true property of numbers. Godel showed that this was not correct, true statements of number theory exist not provable from any particular set of consistent axioms. Mathematics cannot settle truth in the domain of numbers, it can only validate that conclusions are based on assumptions correctly. It is up to us to pick our axioms, for our particular needs at the time.

    To bring it home, there are competing theories of real numbers. One theory includes infintesimally small numbers, the other doesn't. It is meaningless to ask which is true, the question is which is more useful. Since infintesimals essentially eliminate tedious epsilon-delta proofs in calculus, there are some that think it a better theory of the reals. You only have time to teach one, which will it be? Just don't look to truth for the answer -- preconceptions about what a real number is play a large part in an answer.
  • Exactly. Most Christians I know accept the fact that the Bible is a religious text, not a science textbook. In my opinion, so called "Creation Science" simply presents Christians in general in a bad light, and that's an unfortunate fact.

    All too many people think that evolution is equated only with atheism, which is of course not the case. If God gave us rational minds, wouldn't He want us to use them to examine our world? I think people would do well to remember that, "The Bible tells us how to go to Heaven, not how the heavens go"
  • My cat loves me. She comes up to me, brushes up against me. When I come home, she comes up to me and purrs. My cat has emotions.

    Emotions aid the survival of the species. Everything that is part of the human species is there because it is useful to survival. I.E., we are so "perfect" because everything imperfect eventually died off as a trait.

    There is nothing but wishful thinking to point to creationism.
  • Evolution IS change over time. Many people forget that, thinking "evolution" means "life originating from abscence of life" but that is a separate question - abiogenesis.

    Deciding to change terms like that, using "change over time" instead might actually be a GOOD move - using different wording will make the meaning more clear and reduce controversy while still sticking to science and facts. I applaud the move.

  • If the shoe fits... why don't you just hand me a bible instead?

    I've read Behe's book. He ignores or conveniently sidesteps many key points in his theory of irreducible complexity. One of which is absolutely essential: why does there have to be any prior function to a formative complex system at all? Or, better yet, why does that function have to be the same one the complex system exhibits now?

    Species, our own included, are veritable treasure chests full of unexplainable and unused biological artifacts. Evolution can grow basic systems that are only waiting for a use or may have other uses than the one they were originally selected for. Sometimes the chance for use is actually there, and the traits kick in, confer an advantage upon the owner and evolve further.

    Evolution takes all possibilities into account. Behe, Creationists and the Bible do not.

    Razor Blue, TechnoMage
    shackled to tranquility / silenced for eternity / four walls no windows / in your bounding box

  • I'd be willing to wager the self-taught geeks know more about history than their school-shaped counterparts. Consider the wisdom that floweth from the Hacker Dictionary, Appendix D - contrary to popular belief, the better a hacker is at hacking the more likely he is to have interests/knowledge at which he/she is more than merely competent at.

    I believe this - not only do I see it in myself, but also in my geek-friends. People who are willing to seize the initiative and learn, think critically, and question are miles ahead of their school-shaped counterparts. It may be counter-intuitive, but it is often true.

    Anyway, I think school would be alot more effective if it wasn't so 'standardized' - there are efforts underway to change this, but it's still largely a 'one size fits all' education. And if the 'one size fits all' pants that they sell in the store is any indication - they don't fit anyone well at all. Personalize and individualize ought to be the motto of today's educational institutions. Right now it seems to be 'my way or the highway'.


  • Yes, I agree that the impossibility of disproving creationism is a strong argument against it. That's why the assumptions behind the theory are usually not explicitly stated.

    "You say that effectiveness, or how much you can explain using a theory, is a better judge of a theory's value. Doesn't this imply that you believe that there is some sort of reality or truth (so to speak) with which you can evaluate theories by?"

    I'm thinking along the lines of Occam's razor. The simpler your assumptions and the more verifiable they are, for a given predictive power, is the measure I'm thinking of.

    I don't know if there is a physical reality or not. I'm still trying to recover from the shock that a mathematical reality doesn't exist :). There is certainly something closely resembling one, but then we get along quite well pretending there is one for math too.

    As you say, science is essentially observational, which is different from mathematics. However, especially in physics, there is a strong tendency to reduce knowledge to a small number of laws, each very well verified, and base the remainder of physical knowledge on deductive reasoning, as with math. I suspect this pursuit is no less hopeless than mathematics' attempt to find the universal set of assumptions. I just hear too much talk about truth and provability in this debate, and I think it's missing the correct issue.

    Creationism can predict current observation perfectly by assuming that God did whatever is necessary to bring about what we observe, but that is powerless to predict future evolution. Such a theory is "true" to the best of our ability to observe, but not useful.
  • Personally I'm a creationist, but I have no problem whatsoever with evolution being taught in school. I only object when teachers make comments like "No one seriously believes in creationism anymore." As far as I'm concerned as long as they don't actively bash creationism teaching evolution is probably a good idea. It is the currently accepted theory according to most biologists. I have many problems with it scientifically, but as it is widely accepted I think that students should be exposed to it. Not exposing them to it is not preparing them for college or careers in the sciences.

    Questioning should never be legislated against. It's impossible to really believe something without first questioning it.
  • Yes, that sounds right. However, in my version of the Bible, the part about "let there be light" and then dividing the light and the dark come in verses 3-5, whereas the part about putting in the plants and stuff doesn't come until verse 11.

    But it seems like verses 14-16 is a repeat of 3-5. This time, though, it is specifically talking about the sun, moon and stars -- and does indeed appear that they were clearly created after the plants and stuff. Wow, I never read it that closely before. :-)

    It appears to me that God first created the concepts of Light and Dark, then created plants, and then created the sun, moon, and stars. This is obviously not the correct order...

    As for the rest, who knows =) The four gospels themselves don't even agree on everything, and what we now consider the Bible was pretty much arbitrarily decided upon (with a bunch of just-as-good books being thrown out, now making up the apocrypha).
  • IMO, the only reason evolution is not considered a "law" is because of the public (creationistic) response against it.

    No, the reason evolution is not considered a law is because it's still just a theory. For it to become more than a theory, it has to be observed, and to date, that hasn't yet been done. For evolution to be considered a law, a species has to be seen to evolve into two (or more) separate species that can't interbreed. Although, we've observed various mutations leading to different characteristics in a number of creatures, it's the interbreeding part that's critical, and that's the bit we've yet to see.

    As it happens, we may be on the verge of seeing just that (with a type of moth somewhere obscure that I can't remember :-), at which point, evolution will be considered a law.

  • by mcc ( 14761 ) <> on Saturday October 09, 1999 @06:22PM (#1626787) Homepage
    what, exactly, are the pro-creationists after?
    i mean, really, they just seem to be destroying science without putting anything in its place. "creationism", the alternative to evoloution they seem to be pushing, doesn't seem to, like, contain any science. It has no factual basis, doesn't help with predicting things or explain anything, and it's based entirely on faith. If it's based on faith, what is there to teach? nothing.

    They seem to be splitting things up into "macroevoloution" and "microevoloution" with some hazy distinction between the two they never really get into. I mean, where's the line? I'm sure they would rather not have to pay attention to that, but you can't completely _ignore_ it; i mean, genetics isn't something you can ignore, and what they call "microevoloution" can kill you, since diseases do it constantly.

    It's one thing to say evoloution theory is bad, but when you try to get rid of it in the school and replace it with something concrete, well, creationism breaks down completely. The only option is to simply not teach anything. (which, i'll bet, is what they're doing in Kansas)

    Where does "microevoloution" stop and "macroevoloution" start? You can interbreed dogs and get new things; so are all dogs related? What about wolves? At some point in order for creationism to work you've got to point at one specific thing that begat all doglike creatures, or all catlike or cowlike or undersea protazoa or fish. But are all fish from the same ancestor? What about sharks? They're a lot bigger. Things get very hazy, especially if you pay any attention to the fossil record. You start looking for the one ancestor of all those things and find it's pretty similar to a lot of other things at that time.
    They point a lot to "gaps in the fossil record", but they seem to be saying that since evoloution isn't supported at every step by fossils, you should reject it in favor of a system that totally ignores the fossil record. How do they explain that the fossils seem to follow a kind of pattern of starting simpler and diverging into more adapted creatures? is it just a coincidence?

    and this is where things get REALLY wierd. since of course they _start_ with claiming that man are not directly related to bacteria, but eventually it becomes less clear what they're after. What it comes down to is that eventually they claim that the earth can't be older than 7000 years. (if you allow more than that to occur it would contradict a literal interpretation of Genesis, and anyway if you lend any credence to carbon dating it kind of makes macroevoloution look kind of likely.) But if the earth isn't older than 7,000 years that kind of hurts history a lot. You've got to throw out quite a bit of early history-- i mean, historians seem to claim that real humans started around 35000 BC. Oh, and what about all those "homo habilis" and "austrolopithicus" things there seem to be fossils of? What the hell are THOSE? what about all those kind-of-humanlike fossils that start to get more and more humanlike over time?

    Oh, that's right, carbon dating is all lies. But then if THAT'S true, we've got to reevaluate a LOT of history, since we base dates of certain early historical things on carbon dating and similar technologies. All our dates must be wrong. And what about atomic science? it describes exactly how and why carbon dating works; if carbon dating is lies, then that means our entire hypothesis of nuclear decay is totally wrong. We've got to come up with something in it's place. But nothing is offered to replace it. No good reason is offered as to why our theory of atoms is correct as far as it can make nuclear power plants and atomic bombs work, but its description of carbon isotopes decaying at a certain rate over time is somehow dead wrong. Do we have to throw out the periodic table, since it's where the neutrons come from?

    The point is you wind up destroying more and more science the more you poke into this. Oh, and wouldn't our entire system of geology be wrong? plate tectonics describes earthquakes and how the mountains form and the deep-sea trenches and everything, but it describes things in terms of millions of years; there are only 7000 years.

    You can't really put creationism in a school. It isn't science. Simple as that. It isn't like evoloution theory, which starts with a number of questions about why things are the way they are, and attempts to come up with the best explanation possible; creationism starts with an answer, and treats the questions as if they were totally irrelivant and unimportant. But if you're TEACHING SCIENCE, at some point questions do matter after a fashion.

    ok i'm done rambling now.

    "If we could just get everyone to close their eyes and visualize world peace for an hour, imagine how serene and quiet it would be until he looting started." -anonymous
  • Okay, let's start with the definitions of law and theory as used in science. A law is simply a concise statement summarizing a large number of observations. For example, Kepler's Laws summarize the large number of astronomical observations that he and his mentor(?) Tycho Brahe made on the motions of the planets. Laws do not prohibit anything. Kepler's Laws do not prohibit the orbits of the planets from being other than ellipses. In fact, they aren't ellipses. Proposed laws have been broken in the past (e.g. parity conservation) as new observations contradict the law.

    A theory, on the other hand, is an explanation for a large body of observations. A theory proposes a mechanism (or mechanisms) by which those observations came about. It cannot be "proven" in any rigorous sense, because proof is not a part of science. A future observation can always contradict and thus disconfirm a theory or a law. In this case, the theory of evolution is not that evolution has occured, but the mechanisms behind its occurence. You propose that the Second Law prohibits evolution's occurence. That would be a case of a law and an observation's contradicting each other. If such a contradiction occured, the law would be discarded, not the observation.

    In any case, the Second Law of Thermodynamics does not prohibit evolution's occurence. First, entropy and disorder are not equivalent concepts. Thermodynamics delas with entropy in a very quantitative, exact way. Using qualitiative metaphors to deduce conclusions ("Because the Second Law states that entropy cannot decrease and evolution is the decrease of disorder, evolution cannot happen") is not valid. The change in entropy of a system is simply the heat transfered into or out of a system divided by the absolute temperature of that system at the time of the transfer.

    Local decreases in entropy can and do occur because the local areas are not closed; they interact with the rest of the Universe. A directed energy input (and by directed, I mean "having direction" not "having an intelligent agent behind it") can and does decrease local entropy at the expense of a larger increase in entropy elsewhere. For example, energy is directed towards a refrigerator and the entropy of the refrigerator decreases (heat is transfered to outside of the refrigerator). Some would say that an anology between the refirgerator and the Earth is unfair; the refrigerator is designed and the Earth is not (in the mainstream scientific worldview). Well, the Second Law doesn't care. Thermodynamics is not concerned with the fine details of a system when determining what changes are consistent with it. Only the energy changes are important. If you don't want to believe me, fine. Just read a thermodynamics textbook.

    If evolution does contradict the Second Law, why doesn't the development of a chicken from and egg? It's the same type of change; only the magnitudes are different. I don't remember any clause of the Second Law stating that small violations were consistent but large ones weren't. Or does God "break" the Second Law for, well, just about every metabolic process? I personally don't think He does.

    As to the other laws of thermodynamics, I don't see how evolution creates or destroys energy or causes anything to reach absolute zero.

    Finally, it's about time that this discussion transferred to the [] newsgroup. This discussion can be handled far more readily on USENET in the newsgroup that was created for this very purpose. It would help if you read the FAQs []. Yes, they are biased towards the view of mainstream science (as they state right on the first page). However, they have an extensive set of links to creationist websites and creationist responses to the material in the Archive. They are probably a better source of creationist links than any creationist site. Most of the FAQs have references to the relevant scientific literature. You do not have to take our word for anything. It's all in the library.

    Robert Kern

    kern at

    Robert Kern
  • Ah, but you've already said what you believe, and you're just playing games claiming less arrogance than the post you're replying to.

    Those who present evolution only and say this is the way it has to be are simply intolerant of other people's views. So, that problem stems from their intolerance, not from some fundamental flaw with evolution.

    Don't let your criticisms of the proponents of evolution cloud logical analysis of the evidence and arguments at hand.

    Science dictates that if there is a legitimate problem with the theory, we will change it. Science only exists to advance knowledge through logical analysis of evidence. That's all it does. It is not some great conspiracy against religion or creationism. It argues things based on facts and reason, not on faith.

    If you want to believe in faith, then go ahead.

    If you want to believe in reason, evolution makes the most sense according to science.

  • Just because you brought it up: there is a slight difference between evolution and adaption. An animal can make an adaption based on changing conditions, but does not have to evolve over generations in order to adapt (in all cases). Evolution works best when the creature is unable to adapt easily, thus making it harder to survive, and only the most fit pass on their genes.

    Now, to be on topic at least a little bit, it doesnt matter what they call it. As long as they teach it. It doesnt matter if it's right or not. Evolution is perhaps the best example of applying the scientific method that can be easily understood. A student can easily view the facts the teacher presents, and see very clearly how the scientific method was applied to produce the theory of evolution as it stood in darwin's time and as it stands today.

    Someone explain to me how the scientific method can be applied to the facts and come up with creationism, I'll submit and say ok, you can teach it. But you're never going to change my stance on the teaching of evolution unless and until a better theory is proposed.

  • I like to consider myself open-minded. That means I treat the possible as if it could be true, and I treat the impossible as if it is possible. Now let me define some words:

    know - if you know something, there is no doubt that it is true, and no doubt for anyone else that it is true unless they are ignorant.

    believe - if you believe something, that means that out of a series of possibilities, what you believe is what you think is correct.

    Now why did I just define these things? Well I find it is important because these things often confused when talking about religion.

    Alright now. I believe in evolution. I believe in evolution because of all the evidence we know we know.

    Now, you can believe in creationism, but you cannot know that it is true unless you were there when it happened.

    The reason people believe in creationism is because either they believe that the Bible is correct on the beginning of life on Earth and they interpret the Bible strictly, or because of some form of divine truth.

    In my opinion, the creationism/evolution controversy is just like when Galileo disproved the Geo-centric theory (that all the planets go revolve around the Earth) which was what the Church believed, except the Church no longer has the power to execute people with theories they don't believe in.

    I would like to say that it is indeed possible that the way that God created life on our planet may be very similar to evolution theory, only much much faster. If I recall correctly in Genesis, God created fish, then birds, then mammals, and lastly, man. That is the same order of things that evolutionists believe, I think. I am just trying to say, being open-minded and all, that creationism and evolution don't have to be mutually exclusive.

    Of course the Bible says that the earth was here before the sun, which goes against nebular theory (that the sun and planets were created in a vast cloud of gas and dust). Also that the stars were created after the earth which is contrary to the Big Bang Theory. But this is a different argument.

    Note before I get flamed: Don't get to critical of what I say. I confess I do not have a bible in front of me nor do I have papers about Darwin's Theory of Evolution. I am going by a layman's understanding of both. Don't expect me to put in research for just mere Slashdot comment. If you know better, tell us, then I won't make the same mistake twice. Thank You.


  • You can learn a lot by teaching yourself. A whole lot. However, there is a lot to learn. A whole lot. A whole lot more, in fact, than you can learn by teaching yourself.

    Consider this: I can (and have) taught myself programming from assembler to C++; I have taught myself a fair deal about the internals and externals of UNIX systems; I have taught myself to use autoconf and automake. These things can be learned by doing and I believe I have learned them well.

    Now: how do I teach myself linear algebra? How do I teach myself the fundamentals of quantum mechanics? How do I teach myself about optics? In all these cases, I wouldn't really even know where to begin, and if I did, simply learning one of them would consume so much time that I'd never start on the next. Quantum mechanics you can't even learn by doing, and linear algebra, while useful, is not a structure most people are likely to derive on their own. Fiddling with lenses might get you somewhere in optics, but not everyong is Newton. :-) I could go on: foreign languages, history of obscure places, etc, but I feel that these examples are enough.

    This is what teachers, schools, and books are good for: the more theoretical and esoteric bits of learning that a student is not likely to pick up on his or her own. I really hate to use the word 'efficient' in connection with education, but the truth is that you can just learn a lot of things much faster from someone who knows them already than by just flailing around on your own.

    I don't mean to disparage the value of hands-on experience with anything from a mathematical equation to a Mozart symphony -- this is indisputably important. It's unfortunate -- no, make that bad -- if you work with computers and can't grope your way to a solution when all else fails. But too many people in this forum and elsewhere have an arrogant "Edukashun? We don't need no steenkin' edukashun!" attitude, thinking that simply because they taught themselves to install Apache that they know everything and there's nothing anyone can teach them. This is generally nonsense; worse is the assumption that there's nothing anyone can teach


    , because in a [nominally] democratic society that attitude can end up hurting



    If you want to believe that what you can learn with your hands is the sum total of human knowledge -- fine. But don't limit other people to this.

    One last thing -- I may not have learned to use computers in school (I assume you mean elementary and high school, college lets students choose what they want), but I certainly learned writing, mathematics, history and the basics of various sciences there. These, and the mental skills they encourage (eg, logical reasoning), not only help with computers but are also of paramount importance for any would-be self-schooler. Even if you feel that college is beneath you you will need these skills to effectively bootstrap any curriculum you choose.

  • Any method that purports to show something is millions of years old is only speculation - we don't have anything we *know* is millions of years old to test these methods against.
    Nobody ever saw the world and the vast majority of extant (let alone extinct) species being created either, so the stuff we dig out of the earth and DNA are the most reliable evidence we have.

    We do have a huge amount of evidence like tree rings for recent ages and progressions of fossils in various strata for older things. C-14 works for a few thousand years, decay of other elements can be used to radiometrically date things far older. And insofar as we can cross-check these dates, they all agree. Whether you're dating things by the decay of K-40 to argon, uranium to lead, or anything else, the dates all line up neatly with the old stuff on the bottom of the geological column and the young stuff on the top. If you are going to postulate that these dates are all way wrong you have to explain why the physics of radioactive decay changed and provide evidence for it. Lotsa luck!

    If you find a mineral that gets natural uranium in it but chemically excludes lead during its formation (as you can prove in the lab and in young rocks), and you find a sample where there is an equal number of uranium atoms and lead atoms in it, you know that it is one uranium half-life old; the lead had to come from somewhere, and that could only be the decay of uranium. And there's literally mountains of evidence in support of those timelines.

    The Earth, and life on it, is billions of years old. The evidence is irrefutable. If you insist on believing otherwise, you have to postulate a God who conjures up an enormous and consistent set of false evidence of age into His creation (in other words, a pathological liar). So I guess you could say that young-earth Creationists worship the Prince of Lies by definition. Scary, huh?
    Deja Moo: The feeling that

  • Lets get one thing straight here first, you can spend you whole life studying the constitution, and will never see the phrase separation of church and state. To understand where this came from you must understand the first people in america. They were persecuted by the Government of places like england which had a mandatory religion for the whole country. The passage in the constitution that people refer to as "seperation of church and state" is, in all reality, saying the state can not controll the church. Our founding fathers believed in God and this country was based on God.
    All you have to do is take out that pocket full of change and read what it says... I am not, however saying that there should be mandatory bible studies in schools like there used to be. I am saying however that it should be a choice that people could take as an elective. As far as i am concerned, evolutionism is a religion. It takes a whole lot more faith to believe that Bang it happened and a little thing of bacteria turned into me than believing that God created the universe. In fact, Darwin himself, on his deathbed rejected his own theory.

    "Suppose there was no intelligence behind the universe. In this case nobody designed my brain for the purpose of thinking. Thought is merely the by-product of some atoms within my skull. But if so how can i trust my own thinking to be true? But if i can trust my own thinking, of course, I cant truse the arguements leading to atheism and therefore have no reason to be an athiest, or anything else. Unleses I believe in God, I can't believe in thought; so I can never use thought to disbelieve in God." C.S Lewis
  • Um, I'm no guru on all of this stuff, but what you describe sounds like simple adaptation to me (micro-evolution) and not necessarily a change in organism (macro-evolution) which is what's being debated about.

    Some of the posts I've seen seem to confuse this ... oh well.

Promising costs nothing, it's the delivering that kills you.