Showing posts with label Evolution. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Evolution. Show all posts

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Going To Hell!

Right around this time of the year we talk about Charles Darwin in class and every year, I get a few students that question Darwin and evolution. This year, I was asked by a young woman what I thought.

"Evolution is scientific fact but that doesn't mean that God doesn't exist. What if He began the process for evolution? I think there is room for everyone to be right here."

I realize that's kind of a cop out answer (everyone wins!) but being open minded is something I try to pass on to my students. After class was over, the young woman came up to me and said, "I didn't want to say anything in front of class but people that believe in evolution are going to hell." She stormed out of the room in all her seventh gradedness and left me pretty much speechless. What sort of parents does a person like this have to have to bring them to this point? Worse, this recent poll shows that Republican belief in evolution is actually falling. Seriously?!?

I guess in some ways I was hurt by what she said but as the next class rolled in, another young woman came up to me and asked me how old I was. I told her I was 47 next month. Her jaw dropped to the ground.

"Everyone thinks you are 35!"

Ah, the life of a teacher...

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Opening Minds

Reverend Jim directed me to this truly magnificent piece over at

Yet in many ways, a version of that conversation is taking place today in the West. There are those who side with Paley against Darwin: Life is designed, and therefore did not evolve. There are those who side with Darwin against Paley: Life evolved, and therefore is not designed. There are some for whom Darwin rules out Milton: Animals and humans have always died, so there was no Eden, no Adam, no Eve, and no fall. Then there are those for whom Milton rules out Darwin: Yes, there was, so no, they haven't. 

Still others agree with Darwin and Paley, but not Milton: Evolution is designed by God, but a literal fall never happened. Some even agree with Darwin and Milton but not Paley: Evolution happened, and a literal fall happened, but the design argument is just a God-of-the-gaps thing, and we shouldn't use it. And many proponents of each view get rather angry with people who hold a different one. It's all very confusing. 

To make a complicated situation worse, there is a tiny minority of oddballs who think all three of them were essentially right, and who believe in the fall of Adam and Eve, the argument from design, and Darwinian evolution. Oddballs like me.

Is this an indication that some minds are opening? I hope so!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Nothing Is The Matter With Kansas After All

A Win for Science in Kansas 

So. apparently. the Kansas State Board of Education voted to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), a new science curriculum that treats evolution and climate change as fact and promotes hands-on learning. The board passed the new standards in an 8-2 vote, and encountered significantly less opposition to evolution and climate change principles than in the past.

Recall that the state voted to weaken evolution teaching in 1999 and 2005, although it adopted an evolution-friendly science curriculum in 2007. What does this mean?


Sunday, March 03, 2013

Daily Reminder

I need to remind myself more often that patience is all that is required when it comes to nearly all of the issues I gripe about on here. In the final analysis, reason always prevails.

For example, Oklahoma rejected SB 758 just a few days ago. This bill would have required teachers to address "controversies" like evolution and climate change.

In Arizona, SB 1213 didn't even make it out of committee. This bill would have allowed teachers to present creationism as a "balance" to evolution as well as right wing blogs in juxtaposition with the National Academy of Science.

And in Indiana, the Hoosiers rejected extremism again (remember Richard Murdock?) when HB 1283 died in the House. Check out the language in this bill.

“To help students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the strengths and weaknesses of conclusions and theories being presented in a course being taught by the teacher.”

Funny, because they do that anyway. That's why evolution is settled science.

Of course, even if any of these bills had passed, it's not likely that any teacher would have used this leeway. While some of my colleagues are conservative, they haven't completely abandoned reason. They might believe in smaller government or have a different view of the Constitution but none of them would ever teach creationism in a fucking science class.

It's comforting to know that even in these deep red states, people can still be rational.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

A Profile in Courage

The media tends to love talking about conservative activists like James O'Keefe, Bill Whittle or Erick Erickson  but they never really talk about the liberal ones like Zack Kopplin. Man, is he making life hell for the creationists down in Lousiana.

Encouraged by Barbara Forrest, a philosophy professor at Southeastern Louisiana University — and a staunch critic of intelligent design and the Discovery Institute — Kopplin decided to write a letter that could be signed by Nobel laureate scientists in support of the repeal. To that end, he contacted Sir Harry Kroto, a British chemist who shared the 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Robert Curl and Richard Smalley. Kroto helped him to draft the letter — one that has now been signed by 78 Nobel laureates.

I can't figure out why creationists and intelligent design folks aren't content with teaching their stuff in church. They can talk about how Jesus rode dinosaurs or whatever they want in there. Kopplin had gone after the voucher program as well.

School vouchers, he argues, unconstitutionally fund the teaching of creationism because many of the schools in these programs are private fundamentalist religious schools who are teaching creationism. "These schools have every right to teach whatever they want — no matter how much I disagree with it — as long as they are fully private," he says. "But when they take public money through vouchers, these schools need to be accountable to the public in the same way that public schools are and they must abide by the same rules."

Those rules being a strict adherence to the scientific method. There is nothing scientific about creationism.

"Creationism is not science, and shouldn't be in a public school science class — it's that simple," he says. "Often though, creationists do not, or are unwilling, to recognize this." Science, he argues, is observable, naturalistic, testable, falsifiable, and expandable — everything that creationism is not. But what also drives Kopplin is the inherent danger he sees in teaching creationism. 

"Creationism confuses students about the nature of science," he says. "If students don't understand the scientific method, and are taught that creationism is science, they will not be prepared to do work in genuine fields, especially not the biological sciences. We are hurting the chances of our students having jobs in science, and making discoveries that will change the world."

"We don't just deny evolution," he says, "We are denying climate change and vaccines and other mainstream science. I'm calling for a Second Giant Leap to change the perception of science in the world."

In the final analysis, this is really the crux of the problem. In an age of globalization. we can't afford a bunch of religious nonsense to interfere with our economic growth and security. Young men like Zack Kopplin give me a lot of hope that intelligence is alive and well in young people in the deep south and the time to put this assinine, anti science garbage behind us is yesterday.

Honestly, I thought we already did that in the Age of Enlightenment but I guess we still have a few stragglers:)