kottke.org posts about creationism
Every year, a professor from Liberty University takes his Advanced Creation Studies biology class to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History to check out the opposition.
"There's nothing balanced here. It's completely, 100 percent evolution-based," said DeWitt, a professor of biology. "We come every year, because I don't hold anything back from the students."
Creationists, who take their view of natural history straight from the book of Genesis, believe that scientific data can be interpreted to support their idea that God made the first human, Adam, in an essentially modern form 6,000 to 10,000 years ago.
A 2006 poll by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life found that 42 percent of Americans believe humans have always existed in their present form. At universities such as Liberty, founded by the late Jerry Falwell, those views inform the entire science curriculum.
Last week, PZ Myers, an outspoken critic of creationism, was booted from a screening of Expelled, a film defending intelligent design co-written by Ben Stein.
They singled me out and evicted me, but they didn't notice my guest. They let him go in escorted by my wife and daughter. I guess they didn't recognize him. My guest was...
Here's an account of the affair in the NY Times and a review of the film by Dawkins called Lying for Jesus.
By now, you've probably heard of the Creation Museum that just opened in Kentucky with the idea that the Bible is "the history book of the universe". Pharyngula has an extensive roundup of information and reaction to the museum, including this inside look at the place. "Journalists, you have a problem. Most of the articles written on this 'museum' bend over backwards to treat questions like 'Did Man walk among Dinosaurs?' as serious, requiring some kind of measured response from multiple points of view, and rarely even recognized the scientific position that the question should not only be answered with a strong negative, but that it is absurd."
Interview with Richard Dawkins about religion, evolution, and intelligent design. "If it's true that [evolution and natural selection] causes people to feel despair, that's tough. It's still the truth. The universe doesn't owe us condolence or consolation; it doesn't owe us a nice warm feeling inside. If it's true, its true, and you'd better live with it."
Interview with "incompetent design" theorist Don Wise. "The only reason you stand erect is because of this incredible sharp bend at the base of your spine, which is either evolution's way of modifying something or else it's just a design that would flunk a first-year engineering student."
Not only is Intelligent Design bad science, it's also bad religion. "Self-defeating and incoherent, Intelligent Design is worse than useless, not only as science but also, one imagines, for religious folks who might be attempting to understand God by working backwards from the world as their body of evidence."
I know I'm not supposed to be paying attention to anything other than my Asia trip, but I read about the Kansas Board of Education approving the teaching of "theory" of intelligent design in public schools in the South China Morning Post this morning and...
What the hell, Kansas? And those poor science teachers in Kansas public schools...what are they supposed to do? Teaching pseudoscience as real science, that's like asking the math teachers to tell the kids that 2+2=5 because God said so. You can't quit, because then those kids will really be lost. If you don't teach that ID is valid science, you'll probably get reprimanded or fired. So what to do? I have a couple of suggestions:
1) Teach your students about evolution, and then tell them about intelligent design, just as the state curriculum says. Then spend some time going over what science is, what a theory is, and so on. Apply the definition to each. That way, you've taught ID by the books and then demonstrated its relationship to science.
2) Or, as long as you're teaching your students that a higher power designed the world/universe, why not take it a step further and tell them about your personal and scientific belief in The Flying Spaghetti Monster? As long as science can include anything now, why not a supernatural being made from pasta?
Update: There appears to be hope. In Dover, Pennsylvania:
In that small, relatively conservative Pennsylvania town, voters booted all eight Republican pro-intelligent design school board members who were up for re-election and replaced them with Democrats who oppose the curriculum policy. Dover is not some bastion of liberal politics; it's more like Kansas than parts of Kansas are.
"The only debate on intelligent design that is worthy of its subject". Hootingly funny. (And I have no doubt that someone from the other side of the debate could construct something equally as amusing, so...)
In the real world, the process of design depends on evolution: "To consider the iPod, it did not spring fully formed from the mind of a powerful Designer, but rather it represents one distinct point on a long evolutionary timeline." Intelligent design is bad science and bad design. That doesn't leave much.
Richard Dawkins and Jerry Coyne on intelligent design: "You cannot have it both ways. Either ID belongs in the science classroom, in which case it must submit to the discipline required of a scientific hypothesis. Or it does not, in which case get it out of the science classroom and send it back into the church, where it belongs."
Daniel Dennett on why intelligent design isn't science. "Evolutionary biology certainly hasn't explained everything that perplexes biologists. But intelligent design hasn't yet tried to explain anything."
David Galbraith has "a new theory - Unintelligent Design, which is the same as Intelligent Design, except that the creator is either a moron or Satan". Hee.
An open letter to the Kansas School Board. "Let us remember that there are multiple theories of Intelligent Design. I and many others around the world are of the strong belief that the universe was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster."
Why intelligent design isn't. "Biologists aren't alarmed by intelligent design's arrival in Dover and elsewhere because they have all sworn allegiance to atheistic materialism; they're alarmed because intelligent design is junk science."
A historian disgraces himself. A rebuttal of "The Theory of Evolution: Just a Theory?"
The theory of evolution: just a theory?. "Historian Prof. William D. Rubinstein shares his doubts about the theory of evolution."
Creationism: God's gift to the ignorant. Richard Dawkins on the "deceitful misquoting of scientists to suit an anti-scientific agenda" and other creationist follies.