Kansas takes a step backward

You can’t buy quotes like this…

AP Wire | 03/02/2006 | Evolution bill stirs debate on origin of life, religion

Rep. Sally Kern, R-Oklahoma City, said evolution is taught in some classrooms as if it were scientific fact although the theory, developed in the 19th century by Charles Darwin, is neither observable, repeatable or testable and is not solid science. [I wonder if he’s worried about H5N1 spreading to humans. Or antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Oh wait, things don’t evolve. Silly me. (Evolution via natural selection is a proven fact, that occurs even now as we speak.) –RR]

Kern said her bill does not promote a particular religious point of view but promotes critical thinking by students by exposing them to all sides of a scientific debate.

“This bill is not about a belief in God. It is not about religion. It is about science,” Kern said. “I’m not asking for Sunday school to be in a science class.” [yet… –RR]

Evolution teaches that all organisms are connected by genealogy and have changed through time through several processes, including natural selection.

Intelligent design teaches that life is so well-ordered that it must have been created by a higher power. Critics argue that the theory is merely repackaged creationism [which the courts have confirmed –RR], which teaches that the Earth and all life were created by God.

“Do you think you come from a monkeyman?” said Rep. Tad Jones, R-Claremore. “Did we come from slimy algae 4.5 billion years ago or are we a unique creation of God? I think it’s going to be exciting for students to discuss these issues.” [It’s always about our pride — we are special… –RR]

“God truly is the creator of heaven and Earth, but I can’t prove that,” said Rep. Al Lindley, D-Oklahoma City.

Without proof, the assertion is meaningless.


16 Responses to Kansas takes a step backward

  1. GMB says:

    Check this out. I wouldn’t think that Stove was a creationist. But here are some criticisms of some aspects of Darwinism……..


    I’ll take issue with this statement:

    “Without proof, the assertion is meaningless”

    The pronouncement of statements as meaningless seems a cultish thing to do. And the word you ought to have used was “evidence” and not “proof”.

  2. GMB: That’s an interesting article. However, Stove in my opinion makes some glaring errors.

    But first, let me respond to your issue with my statement. Its wording comes from that of the statement which it criticizes,

    “God truly is the creator of heaven and Earth, but I can’t prove that,”

    Because he referred to proof, so did I. Furthermore, since the debate is over what actually occurred, and he spouted his beliefs based on nothing more than, essentially, fairy tales, his input had no meaningful bearing on the discussion from whence it was quoted. The fact that something seems cultish, trite, or clichéed does not negate it.

    Now for the article.

    I give below ten propositions which are all Darwinian beliefs in the sense just specified. Each of them is obviously false: either a direct falsity about our species or, where the proposition is a general one, obviously false in the case of our species, at least.

    These quotations are assumed to be ‘obviously’ false, but I find their obviousness elusive. For example,

    Obviously false though this proposition is, from the point of view of Darwinism it is well-founded, for the reason which Dawkins gives on the same page: that another woman’s adopting her baby ‘releases a rival female from the burden of child-rearing, and frees her to have another child more quickly.’ This, you will say, is a grotesque way of looking at human life; and so, of course, it is. But it is impossible to deny that it is the Darwinian way.

    The complaint here, supported only by its supposed obviousness, is that this is a grotesque way of looking at human life — it appeals to the feeling that we are ‘special’ simply because we are human. We don’t want to think of ourselves this way. Indeed, society as it stands now has moved to something of a higher level. Nonetheless, historically the genes of both our species and others have enjoyed such benefits as those mentioned above. They are selected for simply because they propagate themselves more than genes that don’t favor such behavior.

    I skipped point 1. Stove is right in a sense — genes do not have a conscious ‘purpose’, which is the concept he seems to mock. The idea that a gene ‘wants’ to spread itself is simply a different way of looking at natural selection. Some genes spread themselves, and others don’t. The ones that spread themselves more, whatever advantages that might entail, are the ones that persist. This is akin to saying that a ball poised atop a hill ‘wants’ to roll down it. There is no intent. Nonetheless, the ball will roll down the hill, as gravity and the incline will ensure.

    On to point 3. Again, just because the concept leaves a bad taste in one’s mouth doesn’t mean it’s incorrect. Books are typically manipulative. Most books that aren’t novels, and many that are, are written to make a point.

    Point 4 I’ll skip. Point 5 exhibits the sin of omission:

    In all social mammals, the altruism (or apparent altruism) of siblings towards one another is about as strong and common as the altruism (or apparent altruism) of parents towards their offspring.

    Ah, yes, if it were only that simple he would be correct. However, there’s more to it. Parents, for example, have already had children. They may be past the age where they are likely to have more. Additionally, the parents have a lot invested in the children. Even if each child only has two children that surivive to reproduce, this represents a geometrical spread of the parents’ genes. Thus from the even balance quoted above, things shift toward parental care for the children. Dawkins goes into this in pretty great detail.

    Point 6 carries forward the error of point 5. It is moot.

    Point 7: Darwin is outdated. He laid the groundwork. Holding modern evolutionary theory to the original ideas of Darwin is like holding physics to the ideas of Newton. Stove selectively ignores the refinements to this bit of evolutionary theory. He misses a key point. The optimum is not to produce as many offspring as possible. The optimum is to produce as many offspring as possible that will survive to reproduce as well.

    Point 8 makes the same error as point 7 and amplifies it. Stove has a nice way of building what appears to be a justified case from flawed axioms.

    He says,

    No doubt human child-mortality has often enough been as high as 70%, and often enough higher still. But I do not think that, at any rate within historical times, this can ever have been usual. For under a child-mortality of 70%, a woman would have to give birth 10 times, on the average, to get 3 of her children to puberty, and 30 times to get 9 of them there.

    My couple of weeks in sub-saharan Africa this year showed me that this estimate is actually decent. People die all of the time. The wonders of modern medicine and hygeine don’t invalidate evolutionary theory. It’s true that human civilization in general is taking a bit of a different tack, but that doesn’t mean evolution has stopped. It simply means that the conditions have changed.

    It is important to remember that no one – not even Darwinians – knows anything at all about human demography, except what has been learnt in the last 350 years, principally concerning certain European countries or their colonies.

    This is utter bullshit. I’m sure anthropologists would beg to differ.

    Point 9 is more of the same. Stove wants to apply outdated hypotheses of evolutionary theory. Furthermore, he gives as counterexamples scenarios in modern human society assuming the evolutionary pressures of savages or animals. This is clearly a contradiction, which he accuses Darwinian evolutionists of, but manufactures himself in plain sight in the article.

    Point 10 could use some refutation, but I’ll think you’ll find that my arguments would just be a repetition of those I used in response to point 9.

  3. GMB says:

    I think the Christians comment was fine and pretty honest. You took it at the soundbite level. He was saying that there is not much in the way of evidence for evolution. That evolution isn’t proved. But then he admits that his own views can’t be proved also. That’s about as good as it gets from a Creationist.

  4. He was saying that there is not much in the way of evidence for evolution. That evolution isn’t proved.

    Ah, but it is. It’s a fact.

    But then he admits that his own views can’t be proved also.

    This is misleading. It’s based on a false premise — that niether arguement is based in fact, but one is. His is not. This is the same technique favored by proponents of Intelligent Design.

  5. GMB says:

    Ah but its a fact hey? Well then its up to you to prove that. You don’t do it by side-stepping excellent objections to the theory as it stands or at least as it is commonly understood.

  6. Matthew Finlay says:

    “Critics argue that the theory is merely repackaged creationism [which the courts have confirmed –RR]”

    The rest of the post was fine RR, but are you really claiming that whatever a court decides is correct?

    Also, could anyone tell me how to get the quote to appear in grey?

  7. Whatever a court decides is not inherently correct. However, in this case the decision statement writeup (worth a read, I link specifically to the conclusion, but it’s all there) levels withering criticism at the ID people because of their in-court contradictions, and statements which, based on things they’ve said out of court, are clearly lies. I like this bit:

    The breathtaking inanity of the Board’s decision is evident when considered against the factual backdrop which has now been fully revealed through this trial.

    It’s not that the court’s decision made it true. It was true, and they helped to uncover it in a legally sound way.

    Yeah you need the <blockquote> stuff to quote </blockquote> … (edit — added a slash on the second one 2006-03-06 @ 23:30 CDT)

  8. Matthew Finlay says:

    Thanks for the link- the section titled “Whether ID is science” comprehensively destroys Behe’s claims and is definitely worth a read.

  9. GMB says:

    But wasn’t it a bad legal decision. Did not the court misinterpret the constitution in order for the judge to proscibe certain teachings?

    Not that this is on the main thread of your argument here.

  10. GMB: What do you mean by this?

    Did not the court misinterpret the constitution in order for the judge to proscibe certain teachings?

    How did the court misinterpret the constitution? I can’t really respond to your question until I know what you mean there.

  11. maelorin says:

    But wasn’t it a bad legal decision. Did not the court misinterpret the constitution in order for the judge to proscibe certain teachings?

    Please explain!

  12. GMB says:

    Well wasn’t it a State Court proscribing certain actions on the basis of using an amendment meant to limit what it is the Congress can do….. “Congress shall pass no law……….”

  13. GMB: in 1947, it was decided that this applies to states as well, see this writeup.

  14. GMB says:

    Precedent is less important in constitutional law then in any other area. You’d only use it as a tie-breaker.

  15. GMB says:

    “In 1947 the Supreme Court held in Everson v. Board of Education that the establishment clause is one of the “liberties” protected by the due-process clause. From that point on, all government action, whether at the federal, state, or local level, must abide by the restrictions of the establishment clause.”

    For this to be true it would have to be assumed that judges make up the law, not just in practice, but as a matter of right. Forget that fellows argument.

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