The Skeptical Teacher

Musings of a science teacher & skeptic in an age of woo.

Updates From the Evolution & Creationism Battle Lines

Posted by mattusmaximus on March 9, 2010

There’s been a lot going on lately on the battle lines concerning evolution & creationism. In fact, there’s so much happening that I just wanted to provide a quick summary of all that’s been transpiring lately.  Some of it is funny, some of it is sad, some aggravating, but it’s all informative and worth reading.  So, with that, read on…

1. First Annual UpChucky Awards Announced

Our friends over at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) have been having a little bit of fun pointing out some of the most recent and egregious errors & misrepresentations by creationists…

Which creationist was the most nauseating?

When it comes to dissing evolution (and science in general) there’s no lack of volunteers. How to decide which among them is the worst?

Enter the intelligently designed UpChucky Award, which recognizes supreme achievement in the field of persistently rejecting evolution in the most stomach-turning way imaginable. This crown of cluelessness, this diadem of density, this badge of bullpucky isn’t awarded to just any Darwin doubter. The UpChucky is bestowed on that one creationist whose efforts in the preceding year would inspire Darwin (or any rational person) to “drive the porcelain bus”.

Read on for more details…

2. Evolution & Global Warming Redux

In a recent New York Times article, there seems to be a disturbing new trend afoot – a growing union between creationism and global warming denial

Critics of the teaching of evolution in the nation’s classrooms are gaining ground in some states by linking the issue to global warming, arguing that dissenting views on both scientific subjects should be taught in public schools.

Yet they are also capitalizing on rising public resistance in some quarters to accepting the science of global warming, particularly among political conservatives who oppose efforts to rein in emissions of greenhouse gases.

The linkage of evolution and global warming is partly a legal strategy: courts have found that singling out evolution for criticism in public schools is a violation of the separation of church and state. By insisting that global warming also be debated, deniers of evolution can argue that they are simply championing academic freedom in general.

Oklahoma introduced a bill with similar goals in 2009, although it was not enacted.

Last year, the Texas Board of Education adopted language requiring that teachers present all sides of the evidence on evolution and global warming.

“Our kids are being presented theories as though they are facts,” said State Representative Tim Moore of Kentucky.

In Kentucky, a bill recently introduced in the Legislature would encourage teachers to discuss “the advantages and disadvantages of scientific theories,” including “evolution, the origins of life, global warming and human cloning.”

The bill, which has yet to be voted on, is patterned on even more aggressive efforts in other states to fuse such issues. In Louisiana, a law passed in 2008 says the state board of education may assist teachers in promoting “critical thinking” on all of those subjects.

Read on for more…

3. Evolution Left Out of Homeschooling Textbooks

This article from MSNBC outlines how many homeschooling texts are neglecting, or outright deleting, any treatment of evolutionary science.  Some of the books go even further, going so far as to basically proselytize a very conservative view of fundamentalist Christianity

Home-school mom Susan Mule wishes she hadn’t taken a friend’s advice and tried a textbook from a popular Christian publisher for her 10-year-old’s biology lessons.

Mule’s precocious daughter Elizabeth excels at science and has been studying tarantulas since she was 5. But she watched Elizabeth’s excitement turn to confusion when they reached the evolution section of the book from Apologia Educational Ministries, which disputed Charles Darwin’s theory.

“I thought she was going to have a coronary,” Mule said of her daughter, who is now 16 and taking college courses in Houston. “She’s like, ‘This is not true!’”

Christian-based materials dominate a growing home-school education market that encompasses more than 1.5 million students in the U.S. And for most home-school parents, a Bible-based version of the Earth’s creation is exactly what they want. Federal statistics from 2007 show 83 percent of home-schooling parents want to give their children “religious or moral instruction.”

“The majority of home-schoolers self-identify as evangelical Christians,” said Ian Slatter, a spokesman for the Home School Legal Defense Association. “Most home-schoolers will definitely have a sort of creationist component to their home-school program.”

Those who don’t, however, often feel isolated and frustrated from trying to find a textbook that fits their beliefs.

Two of the best-selling biology textbooks stack the deck against evolution, said some science educators who reviewed sections of the books at the request of The Associated Press.

“I feel fairly strongly about this. These books are promulgating lies to kids,” said Jerry Coyne, an ecology and evolution professor at the University of Chicago.

Continue reading…

4. Answers in Genesis: Searching for Atlantis?

It seems that our “friends” over at the Biblically literal creationist organization Answers in Genesis (AiG) have managed to one-up themselves on the silliness front – they seem to be mixing their version of fundamentalist Christianity with some New Age woo.  A new article published by AiG, which operates the Creation Museum, explains how you can use a “Biblical framework” to learn about Atlantis and estimate when it “sunk”.  It sounds too silly to believe, until you read it…

When it comes down to it, either Atlantis was a real place or it wasn’t. If it wasn’t, then the discussion is more-or-less finished. And considering that this story was passed down several times before Plato recorded it, we can assume that it has some inaccuracies.

Regardless, let’s assume for a moment that it was a real place and use a biblical framework to place it. Big-picture biblical explanations could be:

  1. Atlantis was destroyed by the Flood, and we should not expect to find remnants of it.
  2. Atlantis was destroyed after the Flood, and its remnants may still exist.

So, could Atlantis have been a pre-Flood continent? If so, there would be little evidence left due to such a worldwide cataclysm. However, the Critias account by Plato reads:

. . . which had elapsed since the war which was said to have taken place between those who dwelt outside the Pillars of Heracles and all who dwelt within them; this war I am going to describe. Of the combatants on the one side, the city of Athens was reported to have been the leader and to have fought out the war; the combatants on the other side were commanded by the kings of Atlantis, which, as was saying, was an island greater in extent than Libya and Asia, and when afterwards sunk by an earthquake, became an impassable barrier of mud to voyagers sailing from hence to any part of the ocean.Also in Plato’s account of Atlantis, he refers to the Atlantic Ocean as well as these “pillars of Hercules,” which is likely the Strait of Gibraltar between modern-day Spain and Morocco. Plato said that Atlantis was as large as “Libya” and “Asia” (Asia was originally seen as a part of modern day Turkey).4 Keep in mind that this is not what we think of today as Libya and Asia, but the way the Greeks viewed them about 500 BC. Take note that these are post-Flood features and names.

Plato also gives the dimensions of the main island of Atlantis in a measurement called “stadia,” which are about 600 feet each. The dimensions were 2000 by 3000 stadia. It was an oblong-shaped island. Translating this into modern measurement, it would have been about 227 miles by 340 miles, giving an estimated 77,000 square-mile area. This is about the size of the state of Nebraska. Plato’s measurement makes Atlantis much smaller than a continent.

Since the modern continent scheme was changed significantly from the Flood and Plato was referring to post-Flood places, it is very unlikely that this Atlantis was pre-Flood. Plato’s book Critias gives details of the island and much more (such as the ancient Egyptians originating the account), implying that if it existed, it was likely post-Flood. Egypt was formed by Mizraim, Noah’s grandson, and is still known as Mizraim in the Hebrew language. So, for Egypt to be aware of it requires Noah’s grandson Mizraim to have existed to begin Egypt. If so, descriptions given by Plato appear to place it outside of the Mediterranean in the Atlantic Ocean.

In the past, people have proposed likely places for Atlantis, such as the Americas or parts of it, remnants of the island of Thera (in the Mediterranean—which should be ruled out by Plato’s statements), or the Azores in the Atlantic, but there has never been a consensus by researchers that any of these were indeed Atlantis.

Read on for more wacky fun :)

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3 Responses to “Updates From the Evolution & Creationism Battle Lines”

  1. Atlantis was real, but AIG is clueless about it, however, see category Atlantis Revealed at http://DancingFromGenesis.com.

  2. Hello Matt, as I said, refer to category Atlantis Revealed at my blogsite, then I hope for your comments or questions after digesting some of the material there. Maybe you can tell me what you think is wrong with that evidence. Be specific please.

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