A New Year and New Challenges from Creationists
Posted by mattusmaximus on January 10, 2012
Well, I have to say this much for creationists: they certainly are persistent. Despite mountains of solid scientific evidence proving evolution (and thus disproving most views of creationism, such as the most common variant – young-earth creationism) and decades of court rulings against the promotion of religiously-oriented concepts such as “scientific creationism” and “intelligent design”, the creationists just keep on coming.
Case in point, here are some recent legal developments from Kentucky (no surprise there) and… New Hampshire? Okay, Kentucky I can understand, but seriously… NEW HAMPSHIRE?!! Wow, methinks some of my Yankee brothers and sisters up north are going to have a serious case of voters remorse.
Once you read the proposals out of Kentucky and New Hampshire, it is easy to see the same old tired (and flat wrong, both scientifically and legally) creationist arguments. From the Kentucky case:
The Herald-Leader reports that Superintendent Ricky D. Line of Hart County public schools believes a new state-wide test for Kentucky high school students treats evolution as fact, not theory, and that the test will require schools to teach accordingly. Line raised the issue with state Education Commissioner Terry Holliday and Kentucky Board of Education (KBOE) members. Line wants them to reconsider the “Blueprint” for Kentucky’s new end-of-course test in biology.
Line contends that the test essentially would “require students to believe that humans … evolved from primates such as apes and … were not created by God.” “I have a very difficult time believing that we have come to a point … that we are teaching evolution … as a factual occurrence, while totally omitting the creation story by a God who is bigger than all of us,” he said. “My feeling is if the Commonwealth’s site-based councils, school board members, superintendents and parents were questioned … one would find this teaching contradictory to the majority’s belief systems.” …
Hmmm, so the superintendent’s argument is that people shouldn’t be taught anything which doesn’t fit with their preconceived notions? Interesting, seeing as how most preconceptions that people have regarding science are incorrect, the superintendent’s argument basically boils down to an argument for remaining ignorant. Nice. I have to wonder if we’ll hear the superintendent and his colleagues complain about how KY students are not properly prepared to compete in the modern world of 21st century science and technology? With an attitude like the one he’s displaying, he’d better get ready for a LOT of complaining regarding the latter…
Also note the implication in the article about how teachers could teach both (all) views, as if creationism is on par with evolution as a scientific theory. To that argument, I have one response…
Now on to the New Hampshire situation. Fortunately, the National Center for Science Education is on the case, and here’s their update:
The two antievolution bills on the horizon in New Hampshire have now been prefiled in the state House of Representatives. House Bill 1148, introduced by Jerry Bergevin (R-District 17), would charge the state board of education to “[r]equire evolution to be taught in the public schools of this state as a theory, including the theorists’ political and ideological viewpoints and their position on the concept of atheism.” House Bill 1457, introduced by Gary Hopper (R-District 7) and John Burt (R-District 7), would charge the state board of education to “[r]equire science teachers to instruct pupils that proper scientific inquire [sic] results from not committing to any one theory or hypothesis, no matter how firmly it appears to be established, and that scientific and technological innovations based on new evidence can challenge accepted scientific theories or modes.” Although HB 1457 as drafted is silent about “intelligent design,” Hopper’s initial request was to have a bill drafted that would require “instruction in intelligent design in the public schools.” Both bills were referred to the House Education Committee; HB 1148 is scheduled for a hearing on February 9, 2012, and HB 1457 is scheduled for a hearing on February 14, 2012. A columnist for the Nashua Telegraph (July 3, 2011) who interviewed Bergevin and Hopper about their bills commented, “My taxpayer dollars pay science teachers to teach science, not philosophy. Let’s hope lawmakers don’t try to get in the way.”
Yup, more references to the “teach the controversy” as well as the “evolution is just a theory” malarkey (one has to wonder if these lawmakers also think that gravity is “just a theory”). I also found it interesting that the proposed legislation states “[r]equire evolution to be taught in the public schools of this state as a theory, including the theorists’ political and ideological viewpoints and their position on the concept of atheism.”
Ummm, I have a couple of questions. Number one, by putting atheism explicitly into the language of the legislation, this shows quite clearly that the lawmakers in NH are sticking the round peg of religion/philosophy into the round hole of science, which is a no-no (you know, that whole pesky separation of church and state thing). And number two, one has to wonder if Christianity or other religious beliefs will be placed under a similar level of scrutiny (yeah, that church-state thing again) as atheism?
Last, but not least, I shall finish this blog post with some GOOD news! First, an example of evolution in action: not only have scientists seen the evolution of bacteria from one species into another in the Petri dish, but now apparently the evolution of sharks from one species into another has been observed in the wild. Check it out…
University of Queensland
This image shows a hybrid black tip shark containing both Common and Australian black tip DNA.By John Roach
Hybrid sharks have been discovered swimming in the waters off Australia’s east coast. The finding may be driven by climate change, a research team says, suggesting such discoveries could be more common in the future.
The hybridization is between the Australian black tip shark which favors tropical waters and the larger, common black tip shark, which favors sub-tropical and temperate waters.
While the distribution for the genetically distinct species overlaps along the northern and eastern Australian coastline, the finding that they mated and produced offspring is unprecedented, according to the discovery team from the University of Queensland. …
And last but not least, for a little humor, I suggest this fine read. In this article, a creationist is one-upped by… a cat (of course I jest, but the article IS funny )…