Blog Archives

Objecting to Science Education 2 (Religious Boogaloo?)

Ok, so we have creationists claiming that evolution is a lie and that their religion’s creation story is an accurate & factual account of the beginnings of life, the universe, and everything. Let’s talk a bit about some of the things that they do with this idea.

“Intellectual freedom” is a phrase found on many bills working their way through many state legislatures right now. Almost without exception, these bills are designed to either bring some form of creationism into classrooms or to muddy up science education by suggesting that evolution is somehow optional. (Evolution’s about as optional to biology as gravity is to physics.) The idea here is that teachers are having their freedom restricted by being expected to teach science in science classes.

I suppose in the strictest sense, that’s true. Teachers would have more freedom if they could teach anything they felt like without having to consider the truth or accuracy of their lessons. But I have trouble getting behind the idea of the freedom for state-sponsored institutions to lie to children. Read the rest of this entry

Objecting to science education

So now that I have a workable, if simplistic, outline for what evolution is, let’s talk a bit about some of the groups and people out there opposing it as a scientific theory, especially those who are trying to have the teaching of it banned from public schools.

The most common objections I’ve seen to the theory of evolution are on religious grounds. The more honest ones are open about that, but you also get the occasional liar for Jesus. Perhaps the most famous example is “Intelligent Design”, which was a poorly executed attempt to camouflage religion as science and sneak it into classrooms. The resulting trial is the subject of a NOVA documentary which is well worth checking out. It also gave us the term “cdesign proponentsists”, possibly the clearest indicator of the dishonesty of the ID movement, certainly the funniest.

The Intelligent Design advocates are still out there, but they seem to be much diminished now. In recent years, they have apparently given up trying to pretend that they’re promoting a scientific theory without a religious agenda and openly refer to Jesus & the Bible on their websites. Since I’ve already written about their hypothesis here, I’ll move on to more typical (even generic) creationism. Read the rest of this entry

In search of

It’s the 15th of the month again, and that means it’s time to look at my site stats for the last 30 days. Of course when I say site stats, I really mean the search terms, because everything else, while useful info, is a little boring.

So here’s what people searched for that led them to my blog over the last month. As usual, search terms are in bold, while my comments are italic. Read the rest of this entry

Intelligent Design Theory isn’t

(Warning! This post contains spoilers for the end of Battlestar Galactica. I’ll put them after the jump so you can safely read everything that appears on the home page.)

You’ll be forgiven if you think my title means that ID theory isn’t intelligent, heck I couldn’t honestly disagree with the sentiment, but what I was really thinking was that ID isn’t really a theory. At least not in the strict scientific sense of the word, I suppose you could call it a theory in the same loose sense that the wild speculation of college students as they pass a bong around could be called theories.

I don’t want to be unfair here, I really don’t. It’s just that as far as I can understand, ID theory is that an intelligence, as yet undetected, either is acting or has acted in the past to effect change in the development of life on Earth, through unknown mechanisms. That’s not a summary, that’s the entire thing.

ID used to be touted as a secular, scientific theory that had no relation to the overtly religious creationists, but that seems to have been dropped recently, perhaps after the Dover-Kitzmiller trial they didn’t see a point in maintaining the masquerade. Or at least, all the sites I looked at during this writing were overtly Christian, and many cited the Bible either as evidence, or as a sort of yardstick by which evidence should be judged. Presumably if I looked enough I could find one doing both at once.

But a thing shouldn’t be judged by its weakest examples. So I Googled “evidence for intelligent design” and found lots of examples of people assuming that if evolution fails, ID wins by default.

As I mentioned a couple months ago on my post about Noah’s Ark, science doesn’t work that way. Your hypothesis can’t win by tearing down the opposition, it has to be able to stand on its own merits.

Worse, most of the claims of evidence against evolution aren’t about it at all, but the big bang or the theory of abiogenesis. Abiogenesis is not a robust theory, and may therefore seem like an easy target, but it still stands pretty strongly against people talking about breaking down broths of bacteria to their base molecules and calculating the odds of a bacterium reconstructing itself.

This is all a massive digression, however. Because I thought of something that would be actual evidence for ID, were it to happen for real, and that’s the ending of Battlestar Galactica. Spoilers ahead!

Seriously, if you keep reading don’t whine to me about giving away the ending.

Read the rest of this entry

%d bloggers like this: