Pork-Barrel Antievolution

By | 2007/09/23

The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts as are only injurious to others, but it does no injury for my neighbor to say there are 20 gods or no god. It neither picks my pockets nor breaks my legs. — Thomas Jefferson

Antievolutionists have long sought to subvert and infiltrate the public school science classrooms, looking to turn all those lecterns into pulpits to deliver their narrow sectarian doctrines. We’ve seen takeovers of classrooms, of school boards, and the promulgation of legislation to set things up the way they’d like it. Now, we have another untoward development: not content with turning science class into Sectarian Sunday School, they want taxpayers to chip in money to serve the cause. That’s right, instead of passing a collection plate where one gets a choice of contributing or not, they do want to pick your pockets.

The Times-Picayune has the story.

Sen. David Vitter, R-La., earmarked $100,000 in a spending bill for a Louisiana Christian group that has challenged the teaching of Darwinian evolution in the public school system and to which he has political ties.

The money is included in the labor, health and education financing bill for fiscal 2008 and specifies payment to the Louisiana Family Forum “to develop a plan to promote better science education.”

This is the same group that successfully got the Ouachita School Board to adopt a policy, apparently ghost-written by the Discovery Institute. It is full of “teach the controversy” language:

Ouachita Parish Science Curriculum Policy Proposal 5.30 – Teacher Academic Freedom in Science Education when covering controversial scientific subjects

The Ouachita School District understands that the purpose of science education is to inform students about the scientific evidence and to help them develop critical thinking skills they need in order to become scientifically minded citizens. The District also understands that the teaching of some scientific subjects, such as biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning, can cause controversy, and that some teachers may be unsure of the District’s expectations concerning how they should present information on such subjects. The District shall endeavor to create an environment within the schools that encourages students to explore scientific questions, learn about scientific evidence, develop critical thinking skills, and respond appropriately to differences of opinion about controversial issues. The District shall also endeavor to assist teachers to find more effective ways to present the science curriculum where it addresses scientific controversies. Toward this end, teachers shall be permitted to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and weaknesses of existing scientific theories pertinent to the course being taught.

Some people thought the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District case put paid to antievolution. What it did, and did well, was to blunt the “intelligent design” label, such that it could no longer be the leading edge of the “wedge”. But antievolution goes on, seeking to stuff as many of its old, tired, bogus antievolution arguments as possible into science classrooms. And now, to pick your pocket to pay for it.

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8 thoughts on “Pork-Barrel Antievolution

  1. BobApril

    Something in that school board policy sent me into a blue-sky daydream – I present this not as a realistic plan, but a “wouldn’t it be nice?” idea:
    Imagine that policy being passed word for word. Then imagine that the science teachers in the district take the ID materials provided and follow the guidelines precisely – they teach about scientific evidence by showing that ID has none; they help the students develop critical thinking skills by pointing out the logical flaws and fallacies in the ID arguments; they address scientific controversies by showing that they are decided by the preponderance of evidence and the acceptance in legitimate, peer-reviewed journals; and they teach the controversy by showing that two opposing sides are NOT always equally valid.
    Sadly, I suspect the teachers would be fired within the first month and replaced by IDiots.

  2. Lepht

    agreed, Bob. likewise, i’d love to see actual critical thinking being applied in ID-dominated schools, but can’t hold out much hope for it. still, here’s hopin’ anyway.


  3. Richard Aberdeen

    Response to your posting about history professor’s opinion on evolution…
    There are several fundamental flaws with modern Darwinian theory that this author didn’t cover. For example, the historical record of the human species clearly indicates that human beings have more than a singular base drive of reproduction; the historical record clearly indicates, just as the Bible claims, that human beings have two base fundamental drives; 1) reproduction and 2) irrational lust for wealth. As several historicans have pointed out, modern Darwinian theorists apparently haven’t studied human history very carefully.

    The larger problem with Darwinian theory, is the grand assumption that the universe is a product of unguided, natural processes. There is no evidence that this is true, thus the theory is based on a postulate with zero facts in evidence. Thus, it is not only not a valid theroy, it is not even a plausible fairytale.

    There is zero evidence that anything has ever resulted as a “creation” of unguided processes and there is overwhelming evidence that everything that exists, is a result of deliberate design. Human beings can create machines that essentially fix themselves and likewise, the Creator can quite logically, create a universal “machine” that adapts and changes pretty much on its own. However, there is no evidence or human experience that indicates that anything has ever appeared on it’s own from the top down. Thus, to conclude such or even to propose such an absurd notion, is an example of the worst kind of supersitious mythology, not worthy of the Chinese universe on the back of a turtle theory of creation.

    And finally, modern findings in the past several decades have very much discredited Darwinian singular-origination theory, as it is now considered entirely unknown how life first appeared on our planet and it may well, never be understood. Modern theories range from life or what makes up life being carried in on asteroids and comets, on down to zillions of life forms appearing all over the original primal earth on down to life first appearing in sea water, fresh water, caves, mud and even, under the earth. There could very well be 100, 10,000 or a zillion primary sources from which life adapted and changed over time, rather than the singular-origin Darwinian model long insisted on without any conclusive evidence.

    The bottom-line truth is, we don’t have any idea how life formed on this planet and as a recent PBS special called “Origins” concluded, how life appeared remains “one of the great mysteries of modern science”.

    Anybody who claims otherwise is quite plainly, an obvious liar, based on the current known evidence.

    Thank You, Sincerely
    Richard Aberdeen 615-889-1669

  4. Austringer Post author

    Speaking of not having studied things well, if one looks at what Darwin wrote, one will note that he did not insist on the singular bit as asserted by Aberdeen above.

    Aberdeen can prove that he is not lying about that by providing a quotation from Darwin in which he insists upon one and only one point of origination.

    [Expectation: Crickets chirping.]

    “Lust for wealth” is a “base drive for reproduction”?

    One doesn’t have to have complete knowledge of the origin of life to be able to study its subsequent evolutionary history.

    A structure that has a very good fossil record is the mammalian middle ear, with its three ossicles. Two of those are derived from bones in the reptile jaw. There is zero evidence that the mammalian middle ear is the result of “deliberate design”.

    I should note that when comments get closed on a thread, it’s over for that thread. I didn’t notice the mismatch until after I had approved Aberdeen’s comment.

  5. Richard Aberdeen

    Apparently Austringer fails to understand that there is a difference between Darwin and modern Darwinists. Darwin, a very careful scientist, did not insist on half of the nonesense that modern Darwinists pretend is “science”. It is highly likely in my opinion, if Darwin had somehow survived up until the present, that he would long ago have discarded his own theory.

    Darwin himself stated that evolution may be the best explanation for how the Creator creates and unlike modern Darwinists, Darwin was careful to use terms such as “possibly”, “perhaps”, “maybe” and “I’m not sure”. Only an idiot is afraid to say, “I really don’t know for sure”, which is why I often treat many modern Darwinists as the idiots they obviously are.

    Only an idiot would say there is no Creator, as no one as small as ourselves in such a vast expanse as just the known universe, could possibly know that there is no God. People pretending to be scientists, such as Richard Dawkins, who claim there is no Creator, are plainly liars.

    There is no such thing as “science” without definitive evidence. To say there is no God without conclusive evidence to back up such an absurd position is to invent a fairytale representing the very worst kind of supersition. Among other reasons, is the obvious fact that as far as the evidence indicates, everything that exists requires primary causation.

    Most modern Darwinists, unlike Darwin, have long insisted that life originiated from a singular primary source. The reason this grand assumption, which was religiously taught when I went through the public school system, on through public university levels, came overwhelmingly into vogue is because until fairly recently (post-Hubble), it was assumed, since it was likewise assumed that there is no creator, that whatever caused life to form on earth must be extremely rare.

    Only fairly recently have some scientists began to state that what causes life to appear might be quite common and, to admit that they really have no idea at all how life began on our planet. There currently are a number of somewhat plausible theories, many of which do not at all agree with each other and thus, most of them cannot logically be correct.

    And, the vast majority of modern educators who are not practicing scientists, are still stuck in the rut of singular-origination theory, as well as the totally absurd assumption, that the observable reality appeared out of nowhere from nothing, for which absurd assumption, there is not one shred of evidence or human experience to base it on.

  6. Austringer Post author

    Apparently Richard Aberdeen makes accusations in ignorance. I’m well aware of differences between Darwin’s arguments and modern evolutionary science, and know, unlike Aberdeen, that Darwin advanced the view that life had one or a few original forms, a stance still antithetical to the theological concept of special creation. Common descent was forcefully argued by Darwin, as Ernst Mayr carefully notes in “One Long Argument”.

    And the evidence is there, and continues to accumulate in favor of common descent. The evidence is not in the form of “God cannot exist”; that proposition is beyond the ambit of science. The evidence is in the form of observations of how things are that are consistent with common descent, but need not have been that way if there were numerous separate origins of living things. The fact that all life here on earth uses nucleic acids to store heritable information is one such observation. Almost all life that can be directly perceived by human senses uses DNA, and with electron microscopes we can characterize viruses that use RNA. Separate creations need not have been so stingy in terms of how heritable information was stored. Then there is the observation that there is a canonical genetic code, a set of translations between the patterns stored in DNA and the amino acid sequences used to form proteins by organisms. While the total number of possible ways to arrange 20 amino acid products (plus “stop”) with 64 different three-base codons is roughly 1e72 (IIRC, within a few milli-dembskis of error), almost all the organisms within common human experience use just one of those, and the total known different arrangements is way closer to “1″ than it is to “1e72″. The smallness of the divergence from the canonical code is consistent with common descent (as is the pattern of descent with modification seen in those divergences), and if life was the product of numerous separate originations, it need not have been the case at all. The “1e72″ number is staggeringly large, so large that not only could one happily assign a different genetic code to every species that ever lived, but one could easily assign a different genetic code to every individual organism that has ever lived. There’s loads more stuff to go to the point that common descent is supported by evidence, even if Richard Aberdeen hasn’t bothered to acquaint himself with it.

    Human experience does now include such things as building devices to measure the cosmic background radiation (though the original detection of this was apparently serendipitous), which provides evidence that our universe originated as cosmologists theorize, from a singularity over 13 billion years ago. Some of us prize the ability to utilize information that is gathered that extends our perception beyond that provided in the set of senses of our bodies, and to build upon that, even if the results are counter to intuition. Intuition is a poor guide to doing science.

    The issue certainly isn’t about “what would Darwin do” were he alive, though nothing in the content of modern science would give him much cause for complaint, except for that pangenesis stuff. Evolutionary science doesn’t continually look back to Darwin for justification in authority.

  7. Austringer Post author

    Sheesh. I hate it when I figure out late that I’ve approved a comment from a troll like Aberdeen.

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