Four US states considering laws that challenge teaching of evolution

For one thing, evolution doesn’t explain how life started. What’s so wrong with talking about that?

“Taken at face value, they sound innocuous and lovely: critical thinking, debate and analysis. It seems so innocent, so pure. But they chose to question only areas that religious conservatives are uncomfortable with. There is a religious agenda here,” said Josh Rosenau, an NCSE program and policy director.

Read more at The Guardian.

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17 responses to “Four US states considering laws that challenge teaching of evolution

  1. None of this is really new, nor will it go away.

    As an atheist who tries to be sympathetic to religious sensibilities, I see zealots on both ends of this, each trying to highjack the education agenda to their own ends. Creationists trying to inject non-science into curriculae are opposed by anti-theists who try to use this nonsense as a club to push religion further out of our culture.

    I think there’s room for both in the public square but I despair of finding ways to marginalize either type of zealot.

  2. There is no decent scientific theorum for the creation of life, nor is there a scientific theorum for what happened before the big bang (or even how that setup could possibly happen). In fact, the big bang itself is still mostly hypothetical. It cannot truly be called a theory because the evidence is so scant.

    Acknowledging this is the halmark of sufficient humility to understand science. One fault I find in education majors is that they view our knowledge as far more concrete than it really is. However, I am more concerned about the possible abuses of such rules. For example, they fact that they are in legislature instead of before a school board in the first place.

  3. Like Ben, I’ve missed any definite science evidence about how life became life or what was before the origin of the Universe we inhabit. The Big Bang theory has a lot of speculation but so do all creation theories.
    The evidence that life on Earth evolved after it formed seems conclusive to me. Gaps in the sequences, gaps in the explanations — well, yes, no one was taking notes at the time. Charles Darwin was clear on the gaps in the theory when he wrote about evolution.
    Considering the history of evolution’s supporters and opponents in education, there’s reason to worry over both requiring and prohibiting any teaching about evolution or creationism. But bear in mind that creationism is a feature of all religions I know of, not just Christianity.

  4. Assuming they have it their way and the teaching of evolution is banned. What will they gain from it? The same degree of comfort that dictatorial regimes gain from suppressing research in ethology? Do they want to remain inscrutable to the public?

    Note that ethology is also effectively suppressed in the U.S. Not taught at the school level, and you will scramble to find a good university course.

  5. There is no question that living organisms have evolved and continue to evolve. Burt evolution should be treated a living scientific theory, with continous changes and learning.
    Unfortunately, the establishment teachers of evolution want no further scientific analysis. Darwin’s theories cannot be questioned and if you do, you are some type of religious extremist.
    When I was younger, I used to hear about the “missing link”, the final creature that evolved from ape to man. You don’t hear the term anymore (too embarassing to the establishment) because the missing link was never found and there are many gaps in the evolutionary trail.
    One final word on Darwin–read his treatment of blacks in his treatises; among the most racist, hateful writing ever.

  6. I agree. It’s possible to question the prevailing theories regarding evolution without ever appealing to either a God or even ID.

  7. “For one thing, evolution doesn’t explain how life started.”

    I cringe whenever I hear this. It is meant as a gotcha by the people saying it. In fact, it shows they don’t know ANYTHING about evolution, and are, therefore, dealing from total ignorance. Because of this statement, they should be told they are grossly ignorant and the conversation stopped.

    Evolution doesn’t explain gravity. It doesn’t reveal the formula for Kentucky Fried Chicken. Both of which are just as relevant as the origin of life to evolution.

    Get close to your screen . . . .

    Life arose on earth over 3 billion years ago. It changed little for 2.5 billion years. Evolution kicked off in earnest during the Cambrian Explosion, just over .5 billion years ago. Evolution explains the diversity of life on earth; it explains it quite well. What happened to life for 2,500,000,000 years before it started is ABSOLUTELY IRRELEVANT.

    The origin of life and evolution are two different subjects. Evolution isn’t concerned with the origin of life; it is concerned with the diversity of life.

    • Howdy gamecock
      I decline to accept the label of “ignorant” that you seem ready to slap on me.
      I’m aware that the origin of life and the mechanism of evolution are different elements of biology and even of theology. I would say that anyone who is interested in life would be interested in both elements and many more.
      Interestingly, the recipe for Kentucky Fried Chicken is kind of an analogy for evolution. The good colonel used many recipes; he conserved what worked and he culled what didn’t. It was tested in the marketplace and survived; indeed the recipe has evolved since then, spawning Grilled and Extra Crispy.

      • Actually, it was Mr. Milloy who put the statement at the top of the post. I was not aiming at you. Unless you believe that that evolution can’t be valid unless it first explains the origin of life.

        I think Mr. Milloy put it up there for fun; I couldn’t find it in the linked article.

        Of course, the scientist in me is interested in the origin of life. But there is no linkage with evolution. They are removed by more than half the age of the earth.

  8. GC, aside from a scant few people in the young-earth movement, I know of no one that disagrees with you about evolution. The question has always rested on two things

    1: The creation of life in the beginning
    2: The rising of sentience in Humanity. Namely, are we special.

    2 is the real issue, but 1 keeps coming up because 2 raises too many ackward questions about possible sentience of other creatures.

    • I disagree. I think 1. keeps coming up because of the ignoramuses that proffer it. It’s all they’ve got, and it’s stupid. And they don’t know it’s stupid.

      Augustine of Hippo’s warning applies:

      “It not infrequently happens that something about the earth, about the sky, about other elements of this world, about the motion and rotation or even the magnitude and distances of the stars, about definite eclipses of the sun and moon, about the passage of years and seasons, about the nature of animals, of fruits, of stones, and of other such things, may be known with the greatest certainty by reasoning or by experience, even by one who is not a Christian. It is too disgraceful and ruinous, though, and greatly to be avoided, that he [the non-Christian] should hear a Christian speaking so idiotically on these matters, and as if in accord with Christian writings, that he might say that he could scarcely keep from laughing when he saw how totally in error they are.”

      — De Genesi ad literam 1:19–20, Chapt. 19 [408]

      As in 408 A.D. Every Christian should know this by heart. When they speak of things of which they know nothing, they do damage beyond their realm.

  9. Darwin did not posit an acceptable or verifiable theory for functional complexity and diversity because he had no clue about the cell complexity, biochemistry, cellular biology, genetics or the physics and math of probabilities that would pertain to what seems simple to posit–modification with selection to produce diversity in living things that appear to any observer to be related by structure and content. .

    Basic evidence for why the Darwin theory doesn’t work in real time and space for living things on this real earth.

    1. Takes 1 x 10 to the 164th throws to get a specific, left right sequence of 150 amino acids to make a function protein/enzyme/structural molecule.

    2. There are 3000 separate, specific functional/structural proteins in a simple cellular organism, which isn’t so simple after all–is it. That raises the required random throws to a number incomprehensible to us, 1 x 10 to the 41,000 power.

    3. There are 1 x 10 to the 80th power elemental particles in the known universe.

    4. If mutation occurred as max speed and time–speed of light, and planck’s constant is 1 x 10 to the minus 43, based on speed of light and planck distance in the atom.

    5. There are 1 x 10 to the 16the seconds since the big bang.

    Do the math, there aren’t enough seconds to even create a simple functional one celled animal–now consider the number of throws required to make a vertebrate animal–pick your species and remember, complexity at the cellular level and physiological/biochemical complexity is just as great in the lower life forms as in the higher ones.

    So the Darwinists create the straw man,the creationist. They make fun of anyone who questions Darwin’s theory by using a broad brush.

    Questioning Darwin’s proposed theory of change and selection is not about bible and religion if it is scientific in methodology. It’s just about analyzing the physics/chemistry/genetics and probabilities problems for modification and selection as an explanation for elephants and praying manti and crocodiles and amoebas in a random process.

    We surely are, all living things, as the Borg would say–carbon based.
    That means something but only suggested relatedness, not evolution.

    Most of Darwin’s changes were the changes we all know produce different characteristics in a species–Darwin himself said he couldn’t explain inter species differences–even the inability of species to interbreed.

    Darwins was a pigeon fancier, and enough of a biologist to know intra-species differences were sometimes significant and could be related to successful function–draft horse are better drafting, thoroughbreds and polo ponies and quarter horses and morgans and trigger and champion are all still horses, but diverse horses with characteristics that create some advantages or possibly a chance to be more successful sires and dames. .

    That’s not enough to support Darwin’s remarkably poorly informed theory (don’t blame him, genetics was not yet known, or cellular biology that we now know from biochemistry and electron microscopy.

    But Darwin’s theory is supported by evolutionists because then they can be comfortable as materialists. I am a comfortable materialist who just says–Darwin’s theory is inadequate and the evidence is the fossils, biology, as in cellular, biochemistry and genetic, and because when you combine the biological sciences with probabilities the evidence shows Darwin feel short of a cogent theory.

    Not his fault any more than we blame the ancients for bad theories while we respect their inquiries and efforts limited by technology and knowledge at the time.

    Darwin’s theory of modification and selection must be discarded as inadequate and impossible in real time even if some need it to be comfortable with their idea of what life’s about and their desire to eliminate the mysterious or unknown or magical–isn’t the creationist mostly promoting a magical alternative based on scripture or dogma and wouldn’t you say that that their creationist theory really dosn’t propose a mechanism–just a supreme power that is unknowable?

    I don’t see a competing creationist theory, so discussion of Darwinism and Darwin’s theory really don’t need to include religious theories, and a legitimate intelligent design is really about an unknown mechanism too–a design mechanism that is only inferred from evidence of complex functionality.
    The Miller Urey experimental problems? the Origin of life questions are one thing, but theory of the process

  10. gamecock–simultaneous trials of rolling the dice don’t change the time limit on rolling the dice–the probabilities of making a 150 amino acid string properly left and right are astronomical and not reduced by simultaneous trials.

    The probability/chance time required is not improved even by an infinite number of simultaneous genetic mutational processes. remember every throw of the dice of base pairs is an independent throw, not dependent of the previous throws or the the throws done simultaneously.

    You proposal that simultaneous processes would reduce time to solution is true, in the sense that it might measurably reduce the amount of time to solution, but guess what, the concept of solution or time to the production of the magical sequence by simultaneous random throws is, a design or control effort. You are no longer operating in a random world where mindless base pairs just get shuffled. It’s possible that there would be efficiencies created by a planned and coordinated simultaneous effort to get to a functional protein, but that assumes that one would know when that solution was achieved, when the magical protein was found, Then the process would have to stop the mutations so the production of the functional protein could proceed with feedback that confirmed its functionality, and of course in a complex system, functionality of one protein is interdependent with other proteins and the complexity and chance of occurrence again increases. Recall the simplest one celled organisms have hundreds of distinct and specific proteins.

    Your simultaneous testing for the right protein is a small version of what appears to be the answer–a design mechanism–you can say its magic or unknown how mindless chemicals and molecules can organize and become functional, I don’t mind. But mindless nature does not create organized complex functionality that is dependent on very specific chemical structures. Can’t happen that way. Most chemists would laugh at the idea of the selfish gene and math/stats guys would reject magical shortcuts without an intelligence factor. Simultaneous analysis or processes only help if there is an organized effort to find a solution.

    A room full of monkeys still cannot write one couplet.
    Or make a watch from trash on the floor.

    Bluster? I’ll try not to bluster, and stick to science–ad hominem is a natural fall back and hard to avoid. I tried to stick to explaining why only designed simultaneous processes reduce the time to solution. Chance and probabilities are merciless when it comes to the real world.

    My points still is random change with selection is not a process that produces complex functionality, not unless there is a design or problem solving factor or force and mindless nature really doesn’t care, does it? .

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