Sometimes when you get back from a long discussion with religious people, you wonder how creationism and scientific ignorance can still pervade so much of our society. I will continue to dedicate my life to helping people think freely, to reason critically, and to appreciate rational methods of inquiry like science. Carl Sagan said it best.
Watch the following two summaries of human history. Which one is more likely to be true? Which one do you want to be true? Which one is more inspirational?
Jon Huntsman, former ambassador to China and former governor of Utah, is running for the Republican presidential nomination. He had this to say in a debate against his fellow Republicans.
…when you call to question evolution, all I’m saying is that in order for the Republican Party to win, we can’t run from science.
Of course, it wasn’t met with applause or anything, but he hits the nail right on the head. The world is quickly changing, and people are learning more and more about science. People who want to be taken seriously can’t resort to the philosophy and worldview of Ken Ham.
Know that you pay a price for profound religious ignorance. The 7th Day Adventists, the Answers in Genesis crowd, the Discovery Institute, Rick Perry, Michelle Bachmann, the Jehovah’s Witnesses and all the other crazy nutters out there–you have got to get your act together and stop running from science.
If there’s fifteen minutes of conversation that captures the common religious desperation to reconcile man-made fairy tales with objective scientific truths, it is the conversation PZ Myers had last week with Muslims in Dublin.
These are people who approached PZ at first with a vomiting of philosophical bullshit, using fuzzy First Cause arguments and nonsense like “occam’s razor must be uncaused, therefore it must be eternal.” And then, after being pressed for any kind of evidence for their theistic god, the Muslims turned to pseudoscientific embryology and a very odd understanding of why mountains exist, as detailed in the video above. After the event, the same group also talked to Richard Dawkins, and explained to him that evolution can’t be true because it is a “noncomplementary paradigm” with physics.
It is quite sad to see people so hopelessly devoted to their beliefs that they’ll twist and turn meaningless garble in religious books and claim that these words are in fact scientific truths that could have only come from revelation (like from some illiterate dude in a desert, for example). PZ is right that these same tricks are used by Christian and Jewish scholars. And PZ is even more right when he notes that comparing the Qur’an or other holy books to actual science is equating crude understandings of the universe with detailed and verifiable scientific evidence.
For example, how many times have Christians come up to you and said that the Genesis account is amazing because it predicted that the Universe had a beginning? It’s quite insulting to science, really. They purposely leave out one inconvenient truth: pretty much everything else in Genesis is completely wrong. Not just troubling or hard-to-read. Just dead wrong. It’s quite sad, therefore, that there’s another manufactured scientific controversy on Christianity Today. Apparently in Christian fairy-land, they still aren’t sure whether Adam or Eve actually existed, and that’s why there’s a scientific “search” for the historical Adam and Eve.
Give us a break, Christians. Just like there is no controversy about the fact that living things evolved or that the earth revolves around the sun, there is no controversy about this question of human origins either. It’s just another religious attempt to confuse people and to make it appear like their beliefs have a possibility of being true. UChicago’s Jerry Coyne delivers the point.
Genetic data show no evidence of any human bottleneck as small as two people: there are simply too many different kinds of genes around for that to be true. There may have been a couple of “bottlenecks” (reduced population sizes) in the history of our species, but the smallest one not involving recent colonization is a bottleneck of roughly 10,000-15,000 individuals that occurred between 50,000 and 100,000 years ago. That’s as small a population as our ancestors had, and—note—it’s not two individuals.
There’s a real parallel between these manufactured Christian controversies and the “embryological” Muslims. All are so convinced that their beliefs must be true and must be rooted in reality that they’ll go to any length, however intellectually dishonest, to gain temporary credibility. And when science actually does reach its limits and says, “there’s more to be discovered,” religion steps in and tries to fill in the gaps.
But notice the pattern. Religion, after initially attacking science by flinging false controversies and pseudoscience all over the place, then hijacks the later discoveries of science and claim them as its own. They’ll never win, of course, because they’ll always be followers and pirates and copycats, not leaders. As Isaac Asimov brilliantly said, science stands alone.
Don’t tell me, then, that those clever Eastern (Celtic, African, Greek, or even Biblical) sages have spoken of something that sounds like the big bang or like endless expansion. That’s idle speculation.
Show me where those sages worked out the isotropic radio wave background, or the red-shifts in galactic spectra, which alone support those conclusions on anything more than mere assertion.
You can’t. Science stands alone!
And so this post ends with the inspirational quote above, as well as the following advice: If I were a person of faith, I would just call it “faith” and not bother with science or evidence.
There are some wacky things in life that are just so amazingly fun. Snowball fights, Nerf gun wars, Apples to Apples, and now, thanks to the UChicago SSA, Creationist Bingo.
My favorite video:
The square for this was “Life can’t come from non-life,” but I was about to put it on “Simple Stupidity/Ignorance.”
Anyways, I was very inspired to find a video more awesome than Ray Comfort’s intelligently designed banana.
Yes, there’s a lot of debate about “bad teachers” and “competency” in an increasingly large discussion about school reform. How much professional training do we owe teachers, and at what point do we choose to let teachers go?
Whatever your view is on these topics, I hope you agree that there’s at least one thing we cannot tolerate from science teachers: the deliberate attempt to teach creationism in the public schools.
It’s not only illegal, it’s insulting to the millions of people around this country who don’t want more religious nonsense to be subsidized by taxpayer money.
So when a Libertyville High School science teacher taught creationism, the school board decided to intervene. How? By doing nothing, apparently.
The teacher in question is a long standing D128 educator, cooperated fully with administrators looking into this concern, and we will not be recommending his termination as this is remediable behavior.
Remediable? Okay, if this was a science teacher whose students didn’t quite make the expected improvements on their standardized tests, perhaps we can “remediate” this teacher.
But this is someone who deliberately sought to violate law, undermine Illinois science standards, and mislead students about science. This is not a teacher wanting to improve his teaching; this is someone who think he has a God-given, Biblical right to teach his set of superstitious beliefs.
As posted before, an estimate 13% of public school teachers in America teach creationism. This is setting a very very bad standard. For students who want to learn real science–for secular students who feel out of place with their religious surroundings especially–this is not very inspiring.
Skip to 8:20. People who think that science denial is limited only to Protestant Christianity are fooling themselves.
In America, fewer than 30% of high school science teachers really teach the theory of evolution. The majority science teachers avoid the topic.
13% of high school science teachers teach creationism.
Indeed, the religious have a lot of catching up to do. So what’s the solution? How are we going to change this?