Posts Tagged “evolution model”

Evolution & Darwinism in Schools: Teaching Evolution & Darwinism Encourages Immoral, Bestial Behavior (Image © Austin Cline, Licensed to About; Original Poster: Library of Congress)The drums of the vast armies of Christofascism in the US are beating incessantly, and their forces are on the march. In skirmish after skirmish, they’re gaining victories around the country. The latest of these came in the Tennessee legislature, whose House approved a law that would teach religion in that state’s science classes. CBS News reports on this religionist debacle (WebCite cached article):

Tennessee’s Republican-dominated House of Representatives has overwhelmingly passed a bill that would protect teachers who want to challenge the theory of human evolution.

Thursday’s 70-28 passage of HB 368 [cached] was hailed by sponsor Rep. Bill Dunn, R-Knoxville, who said the proposal was designed to promote “critical thinking” in science classes.

It will be a cold day in hell before any Religious Rightist like Dunn ever truly gives a flying fuck about “critical thinking.” His promotion of this bill shows he has no comprehension of what “critical thinking” is.

The truth of the matter is this: TN HB 368 is NOT — and never was — about “critical thinking” at all. Religiofascists don’t like or want “critical thinking.” They demand, instead, “rigid dogmatic thinking,” and unwavering thralldom to their unbending, irrational metaphysics.

Rep. Dunn’s claim to be concerned about “critical thinking” is a lie, and that places him in my “lying liars for Jesus” club.

For anyone who’s not yet clear on this, “intelligent design” and its various relatives are all just variations on Creationism. It was none other than an evangelical Christian federal appellate judge — appointed by George W. Bush himself — who declared “intelligent design” a sham, a transparent cover for Creationism, in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District (2005). Prior to that, the US Supreme Court had ruled that Creationism was effectively a religion and is therefore forbidden in public schools, in Edwards v. Aguillard (1987), and subsequently that evolution by contrast is not a religion, in Peloza v. Capistrano School District (1994).

It’s time for America’s religionists to grow up and get over the fact that science is not theirs to control. Evolution is science, at the moment, so that’s what should be taught in science classes. Period. End of discussion.

One final note for any other religiofascists out there who think they can force their religion on public school kids in the name of promoting “critical thinking”: To paraphrase V.P. candidate Lloyd Bentsen’s famous quip, I know Critical Thinking; Critical Thinking is a friend of mine. You don’t know what Critical Thinking is.

Hat tip: Mark at Skeptics & Heretics Forum at Delphi Forums.

Photo credit: Austin Cline / About.Com.

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Conservative Christian Schools: Training Christian Students to Take Dominion Over AmericaIf a Florida state senator gets his way, the religious notion known as Creationism (and as “intelligent design”) may be forced into public-school science classrooms in that state. The Tampa Tribune reports on this transparent attempt at yet another end-run around federal court decisions forbidding this practice (WebCite cached article):

As lawmakers wrestle with financial and policy challenges that could affect the quality of education in the state, one influential legislator is also hoping to change the way evolution is taught in Florida public schools. …

Stephen Wise, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, has resurrected legislation he authored in 2009 that calls for a “thorough presentation and critical analysis of the scientific theory of evolution.” Wise’s bill failed to pass in 2009. …

Wise, R-Jacksonville, thinks his evolution bill may have a better chance this year because there are more conservatives in the Legislature and because he chairs a substantive committee.

“Why would you not teach both theories at the same time?” Wise said, referring to evolution and what he called “nonevolution.”

I assume Wise (whose name is most certainly not an aptonym!) is using the label “nonevolution” in order to get around the aforementioned court prohibitions on both “Creationism” and “intelligent design.” His bill is otherwise the same as countless other Discovery Institute-inspired bills that have been tossed around in legislatures around the country for the last 15 years or so.

The idea is to use public-school science classrooms in order to proselytize to children. Really, it’s just more of the same old Christofascism we’ve all come to expect from Republicans. Not a single one of them has had an original thought in over 10 years, and it doesn’t look as though any of them are going to have any, for a long time yet to come. Just a steady stream of mindless militant Christianism.

Hat tip: Mark at Skeptics & Heretics Forum at Delphi Forums.

Photo credit: About.Com / Austin Cline & National Archives.

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Dinosaurs and CavemenIt turns out that my home state of Connecticut’s regional school district 17 — made up of the towns of Killingworth and Haddam — has a creationist on its school board, named Chester Harris. The Hartford Courant recently profiled him (WebCite cached article):

Chester Harris, newly elected to the Region 17 school board, is a Republican with a standard conservative outlook: He distrusts government bureaucracy, believes in fiscal restraint and thinks kids today have too many advantages and too few responsibilities.

But it is his answer to fundamental questions about the origins of life that sets him apart.

Harris, 53, rejects evolution. To him, the idea that humans and apes share a common ancestor takes “a whole lot more faith than believing there was a creator who set all these things in motion and allows us to operate under free will.”

The idea that it takes “more faith” to believe in evolution than to believe in creationism, is — of course — pure bullshit, and always has been. Even though it’s a standard line that creationists always seem to like to use. (They do so because they are completely ignorant about the scientific method, about the details of evolution, and even about their own religion, because Christianity does not actually demand a complete rejection of evolution!)

The article mentions that he attempted to evangelize for his views with a few teachers and administrators:

About three weeks ago he met with several high school science teachers and school administrators in the district, which serves the woodsy, Connecticut Valley towns of Haddam and Killingworth.

Harris subscribes to the notion known as “teach the controversy,” which of course is also bullshit. There is no “controversy” about evolution. It is both a fact and a theory. There is nothing indefinite about it, and no credible scientific alternative to it exists. That said, if people like Harris really believe that science is “controversial,” I suggest that he test the “controversy” over whether a cinder block held above his foot, will fall and crush it, if someone lets go of it.

For that matter, fundies who believe everything is “controversial” should, therefore, be more than willing to “teach the controversy” that Jesus Christ actually lived … because the truth is, we don’t know that there was any such person, and even if there was, what exactly he did during his lifetime. If they were honest about their “everything is a controversy” position, they ought to be happy to do so. So … get to it, guys!

Hat tip: Skeptics & Heretics Forum on Delphi Forums

Photo credit: Orin Zebest.

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To date I’ve blogged not once, but twice, about creationists’ efforts to get their religion into public-school science classrooms in Texas. Well, the state’s Board of Education finally voted, and in an equivocating manner typical of bureaucrats and politicians, came up with a compromise decision that satisfies no one, which will not appreciably help students understand the evolution model, which will allow religionist teachers to keep presenting the evolution model as bogus and creationism as sound, and which leaves open the possibility of future interference and agitation by creationist religionazis. CNN reports:

Dueling theories of how the universe was created got a split decision Friday night from the Texas Board of Education, which required examination of “all sides of scientific evidence” in new science standards, but rejected language requiring teachers to teach the “strengths and weaknesses” of scientific theories. …

“Science loses. Texas loses, and the kids lose because of this,” board chairman Don McLeroy, a creationist, told the Dallas Morning News.

A final 13-2 vote approved language that will be printed in textbooks beginning in 2011 and remain there for 10 years, CNN affiliate KPRC-TV in Houston reported:

“In all fields of science, analyze, evaluate, and critique scientific explanations by using empirical evidence, logical reasoning, and experimental observation and testing, including examining all sides of scientific evidence of those explanations so as to encourage critical thinking by the students.”

While this directive sounds good, it’s specifically worded so as to allow creationist teachers an opportunity to throw doubt on evolution and introduce their religion to kids as an alternative. It’s eerily similar to “academic freedom” laws that creationists — er, “intelligent design” proponents — have pushed in other states, as the CNN article goes on to mention:

“Academic freedom” bills have emerged but failed in various state legislatures, the National Center for Science Education said.

An “academic freedom” act has been adopted as law in Louisiana, and there is legislation in Florida calling for an “academic freedom” bill that would mandate a “thorough presentation and critical analysis of the scientific theory of evolution.”

The center says such bills are strategies by creationists to appeal to the American sense of balance, and give the false sense that there are different sides to scientific issues such as evolution.

Creationists use this tendency to undermine the evolution model and continue to present it as questionable, even though it is nothing of the sort (again, as CNN mentions):

The scientific community has overwhelmingly scorned creationism and its latest incarnation, intelligent design, as a pretext for biblical explanations of how the world came to be, and asserts that there is no weakness or doubt in the scientific community about evolution.

Last year, the National Academy of Sciences called for the public to be better informed about the importance of understanding and teaching evolution. The academy released a booklet titled “Science, Evolution, and Creationism” — the third explanation of evolution put out since 1984 by one of the nation’s leading scientific organizations.

Allow me to be perfectly clear: There is no scientific controversy over the validity of the evolution model, even though creationists — er, intelligent design proponents — say there is one. The truth is that the evolution model is both a theory and a fact.

The religionazis’ efforts to proselytize in public-school science classrooms have not, unfortunately, abated since their tactics were revealed as disingenuous during the course of Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District (2004) — and declared so by a conservative, evangelical Christian appellate judge who’d been appointed by George W. Bush! Exposure of their duplicity, and their explicitly-outlined strategy to undermine science in the US and replace it with religion, has not shamed them at all … if anything, they’ve become even more vocal and vehement, moving on to other strategies, such as the aforementioned (and equally disingenuous) “academic freedom” bills.

Thus, they continue to lie to people when they claim to want to improve science education and promote what they call “academic freedom.” In truth, they want nothing of the sort. They want to destroy science as we know it, since they view it as a threat to their religionism.

One final note: Contrary to what religionazis like to say — and which CNN parroted at the beginning of the article — the evolution model is not and never will be a “theory of how the universe was created.” Evolution says absolutely nothing about the creation of the universe, which took place billions of years before evolution ever started. As a matter of fact, the evolution model also says nothing whatever about how life started on this planet. The evolution model describes only how life forms change over time — not how the universe came into existence, nor even how life began. Seems to me the first step in teaching this subject is getting one’s terminology straight — and CNN could go a long way toward that by correcting this article.

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