The Skeptical Teacher

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

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…

Yup… a picture is worth a thousand words :)

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…

Australia’s hybrid shark reveals evolution in action

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 :) )…

Yellow Cat Offers Rebuttal to Creationist Rabbi

Wow, that cat DOES look smart!

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3 Responses to “A New Year and New Challenges from Creationists”

  1. zuma said

    Evolutionary theory is in question if we would compare the orderliness of animals and plants. You would discover that all animals would have their heads on top and follow by their chest and abdomen and even legs. For instance, if all the animals have their derivation from evolution, there would be a possibility of the disorderliness that would occur that some animals would have their heads to be formed at their abdomens or their chests to be formed above their heads or some might have one eye or more than two eyes. It seems to be that all animals are in orderly manner that all have two pairs of eyes and the eyes are always located at the heads instead of in the bodies. Besides, all have even number of legs or hands instead of some have odd number of hands. Small creatures, such as insects, would have all their heads to be in front and their tails or bodies to be behind. There is indeed orderliness among living creatures.
    For instance, if all living things have been come about through evolution, there would be disorderliness since it would not give warranty an initial single lively molecule would develop into creatures with orderliness. There would be a possibility that an insect would be formed with the head at their body or only an eye or more than two pairs of eyes to be formed.
    Consideration has also need to taken into the accounts that there would be more than a lively molecule to be formed in the beginning due to the environmental factors and condition that would deem best for the formation of living thing. As that would be so, there would be the liveliness that animals would be created in disorderliness in which some animals would have their heads be formed at the bodies and some even be formed.
    As there is orderliness in the formation of living things, there seems to be something that controls it to cause it to be so. Religious people call it, God.

  2. zuma said

    Stanley Miller and Harold Urey conducted an experiment for the discovery of the formation of lively molecule that would have the potentiality to be developed into future living creatures. Question has to be raised. It would not be possibility that only on that particular time in which it was so special that it would deem fit for the creation of new lively molecule as environmental factors and condition permit. If the creation of primitive living thing could occur in the beginning, there could be some new lively molecules to be developed nowadays if the environmental factors and condition would appear again. How could it be that the recent scientist has not discovered any lively molecules to be formed nowadays on earth that would have the potentiality to be developed into complex creatures? Does this mean that environmental factors and condition that deem fit for the creation of new lively molecule could only appear once and not more than that? If the environmental factors and condition that deem fit does appear in modern days or 1000 or even 10,000 years ago, there should be some primitive creatures to be found on this earth. Why is it that scientist could not find any primitive creatures on this earth nowadays? All these have put evolutionary theory to be in doubt too.

  3. zuma said

    Using Muller/Urey’s experiment, many molecules had been created initially. As there would be many molecules to be generated, evolution would be in question since all the living things would not have a common ancestor since more than one identical molecule with identical feature, i.e. DNAs and genes, could be generated in the beginning of life in which they could have the potentiality to be developed into creatures with identical DNAs and genes. Thus, it is irrational to conclude that one living thing would have any relationship with another especially the worse, even the DNAs could transfer from one to another.
    Now a question has to be raised. How could it be that different molecules that have been generated in the beginning of life could turn up to be that there is orderliness of features among animals and insects? The following are some of the extract about the orderliness among living things: Despite insects might have two or three body parts, their heads are always located in front and that all of them have a pair of eyes instead of one or more than that. The same as for animals and flying creatures. All the heads of the animals and flying creatures are located at the front part of their bodies. Besides, the digestive system between animals, flying creatures and insects are the same. The food should go into their mouths that are located at the head and passing out from their backs. All animals and insects have even number of legs or hands, i.e. 2 hands, 2 or 4 or 6 or 8 legs. It would not be possible if living things would be generated through evolution since there would not be orderliness in the generation of living things. To allow evolution to generate by themselves when there were many molecules that would have existed in the beginning, it might turn up to have disorderliness among living things especially they were not from the same origin, i.e. lively molecule, initially. This would turn up to be that some might develop into creatures with odd number of eyes or hands or legs. Some might not have their heads to be located in front. All animals would not have the identical digestive system.
    As there is orderliness of among living things, the reliability of evolution is in doubt

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