Yahoo News: New evolution spat in U.S. schools goes to court

At least 31 states are taking steps to teach alternatives to evolution. A CBS poll last November found 65 percent of Americans favor teaching creationism as well as evolution while 37 percent want creationism taught instead of evolution.

Fifty-five percent of Americans believe God created humans in their present form, the poll found.

So I figure about 88 percent must believe in the Tooth Fairy, 92 percent in the existence of the Powerpuff Girls, and at least a majority that we found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

A willfully ignorant nation deserves the leaders it gets.

The full story of the upcoming trial in Pennsylvania is here.

25 Responses to “Yahoo News: New evolution spat in U.S. schools goes to court”

  1. Tom Walker Says:

    well, there is a good point here. Evolution is just scientific “theory”, creationism the word of God. God vs. Man – God wins, I guess.

    I’m just getting into the recent Crichton “State of Fear”. I’m loving how he’s rather compassionately ripping into many of our present sacred cows and telling us they’re only “theories”. But scientists are the new priests, how can we not believe?

    And endless TV time is spent discussing the wrong bits of the iceberg, as usual.

  2. Spence Says:

    I’ve read about this poll, and really I think it speaks more to our sense of fairness and lack of understanding about the issue than a belief in creationism over evolution. Americans would rather see both sides taught (even though creationism isn’t science, or truth), than feel that someone is being left out.

    How about non-creationism? I don’t think there’s a guiding hand at all. Evolution can be taught, and you can still believe that there is or there is not an intelligent designer. They want to teach that some intelligence was behind it. How about teaching that there’s no big guy in the sky making all this happen?

    Why isn’t my side represented?

    Because atheists are the smallest, most maligned minority in america. We have NO representation in government.

  3. Brian Says:

    I don’t see a problem with teaching kids as many alternatives as possible. Our country needs more people encouraged to think their own thoughts and be less like mindless automotrons.

  4. A.L. Baroza Says:

    Science is NOT the new priests. This is just unmitigated bullshit fostered by those who want to return to a medieval mindset. The scientific method demands no mindless belief–its premise is to question and test the prevailing wisdom.

    There’s a reason why science has dominated intellectual thought–science WORKS.

  5. François Says:

    Brian, the problem is that creationism is not science, and teaching it as an alternative to evolution is an intellectual travesty.
    It’s part of religion, and should be “taught” there.

    A lot of people don’t even know what science is. It’s about theories, not proven, because that doesn’t mean anything in science, but which are coherent with facts and able to predicts new facts.
    Very different from religion.

    Mixing science and religion is a very, very bad idea which can only result in easily fooled people.

  6. micah Says:

    Many great scholars, scientists, mathematicians, etc. like Thomas Aquinas and Descartes were creationists and presented reasoned arguments for their belief. I don’t personally believe in the controlling, vengeful god of the old testament/torah/whatever but intelligent people do believe in god. Albert Einstein did too.
    It’s so strange that the idea of where we came from can polarize people so much. I think that both sides have their backs up against the wall. If creationism is wrong then the church loses a lot of power. That’s obvious. But I never see scientists entertain any possibility other than the theory of evolution. I mean, we only have about a century of serious examination of fossils. Most of that research has been done through evolution coloured glasses.
    I’ve always thought that it’s just as possible that maybe millions of years ago there was more genetic variability between generations. There must have been more inbreeding. Maybe it took a while for there to be actual definable species of animals. They’ve found that the “Lucy” fossils existed at almost the same point in history as a much larger possible early version of man.
    And imagine if scientists one million years from now found the bones of Shaquille O’Neal and the Olson twins. How could you explain that?
    It seems a little early for science (or anybody) to have narrowed the story of our existence down to one possibility.
    I think there is a little too much certainty on both sides. What isn’t being taught is the option of thinking for oneself. It’s either creationism or evolution, pick a side and begin fighting.

  7. François Says:

    You still miss a point: it’s not about creationism vs evolution, it’s about some churches and some very religious people trying to put religious teachings and scientific teachings at the same level.

    That is very dangerous.
    A lot of scientists believe in some form of god, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, because they make a difference between their beliefs and their work.
    But a lot of people in the US, although far less in Europe, can’t make a difference between the two (or think that religious teachings should be more important than scientific teachings, every time the two don’t agree). If you can’t see the danger of that, well, you’ll see where the US will be in a generation or two compared to other parts of the world…
    A powerful theocracy is nothing to be happy with, after all.

  8. Leviathan Says:

    So I figure about 88 percent must believe in the Tooth Fairy, 92 percent in the existence of the Powerpuff Girls

    So… Wait. What are you saying?

  9. micah Says:

    “But a lot of people in the US, although far less in Europe, can’t make a difference between the two”.
    The last thing anyone on the right OR left want is for people to have a choice of opinion. Science must be presented as correct you argue.
    The people are too stupid to think for themselves so they must be told science is superior to religion.
    If science is so superior it should speak for itself without educators having to impose a slant to the teaching.
    If both science and religious ideology are taught in schools in as fair a way as possible and most people decide they believe in creationism how can one reasonably object? What is objectionable is deciding for people ahead of time what is correct.
    “A powerful theocracy is nothing to be happy with, after all.”
    I think this just reveals the polarization on the subject. Defend religion at all and be accused of advocating theocracy. Defend evolution and be labelled as anti-religion.
    It’s this type of thinking that prevents us from even beginning to discuss what we should be doing. Creating a system that represents all sides of the issue. Hell, even a couple of points of view. Give science and a religion a fair shot at the young minds of the world.
    The religious right is advocating their extreme position in part because they want a monopoly on ideas but also because the left want the same thing. It’s hard to blame them for objecting to their beliefs being taught as inferior. As long as the left don’t advocate fairness then the right certainly never will either.
    I am not a theocrat. But I don’t object to the study of religion, I object to the imbalance.

  10. François Says:

    Well, there’s a difference between not objecting to the study of religion and agreeing that religious point of views should be studied in the same curriculums (la?) as science.
    I wouldn’t ask for quantum theory to be studied in a study course about the teachings Jesus or Buddha, after all.

    Oh, and I *am* against organised religion. I think it’s dangerous for mankind. I have nothing against faith, though. It’s a view of life (and death), just like not believing in any kind of superior entity.

  11. Tom Walker Says:

    I take an ancient greek line on Opinion (doxa). Through Opinion we build personal Truth which can then provide nourishment for the higher intellect (nous). We compare and contrast sensorty data and available opinions and process intellectual “food” for ourselves.

    Thus opinions become like ingredients. Too much of the same ingredient may prove deleterious over time. Bad “ingredients” may be unsustainable food at best, poisonous or corruptive at best.

    Hope you get the gist of this – I’ve no desire to make too complex a point here.

    I dislike it when available opinion upon topics become perceived as dual, or dualised. This sets up a bit of an Us and Them dynamic, as though it becomes a sports match where one team needs to win.

    I’ve no key problem with religious literature either. For me it is like poetry and very layered in meaning, like anything involving potent symbols, really. To choose to take it all at face value strikes me as a valid enough choice, but one that barely gives access to the bottom rung of the material.

    Further, to take symbolic scripture as Fact seems as foolish as taking much of modern science as Fact.

    Modern Science is based on taking measurements and developing Theories. And theories are like Doxa, they are building blocks towards Truths, personal or otherwise, but not necessarily True in their raw state.

  12. François Says:

    Ah, but in empirical science, there is no Truth, there are only valid theories and disproven theories.
    That’s the beauty of it.
    Well, even in mathematics, the not empirical science, there is no Truth – look at Gödel’s theorem.

    Most religions go for Truth, while science goes for coherence. Much saner view of life, in my opinion.

  13. Richard Beland Says:

    ITEM! Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos” book has been my bible for the past 25 years. The “Cosmos” television series is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a digitally remastered airing on the Science Channel, beginning Tuesday September 27th at 9 p.m., with new graphics and animations. ‘Nuff said.

  14. Brian Says:

    i think there is plenty of room for everything to be taught. as micah pointed out, many classic scientists were religious and viewed science through religious eyes. are any of isaac newton’s laws less applicable because he believed in god?

    i think everything should be mentioned in school that is possible so that when later in life, a people are presented with different takes on issues, they have a background without bias with which to filter their decisions.

    and i hate organized religion, too. it’s not so much people being religious that’s the problem…it’s the people who decide they can use religious people for their own machinations…all in the name of god.

    ultimately, i’d like to see a nation of free thinkers who don’t think anyone is a crackpot without carefully examining the arguments presented, objectivity being the key.

    sorry, i got ramble-ish.

  15. DarkMark Says:

    Guys: the real reason the Religious Right exists is because the Antireligious Left had too much power. Most of the electronic media, which really rules our politics and perceptions, has been biased to the Left since the days of FDR (see THE NEWS TWISTERS by Efron, BIAS and ARROGANCE in more recent times), and has consistently ignored other points of view. If the liberal-left, Marx-derived, religion-hostile part hadn’t gained so much power (especially in the post-JFK age), there wouldn’t have been any need for it. The liberal will consistently defend peddlers of obscenity, anti-majority racists, attackers of morality, and attackers of America. He won’t raise a single voice in defense of the Church, in defense of reasonable media content control, in defense of morality, or in defense of the vast majority of Americans. I’m sorry, but that’s the way I see it. The Left badly needs to rethink, or face the fact that it’s causing more damage than it is good. Just my opinion…but I think it’s valid.

  16. Forrest Says:

    Left-biased media.

    I laugh.

    I laugh until all the veins in my throat burst and I choke to death on my own blood, still laughing.

  17. Bart Lidofsky Says:

    I just want to point out that, scientifically, in order for a concept to be considered a theory, a test needs to be developed which, if the test fails, the concept is disproven.

    As there is no such test for “intelligent design”, it cannot be considered to be a theory. It is in the realm of philosophy, not science, at least not yet. If it is taught at all, it should be taught as such.

  18. François Says:

    Thank you, Bart, exactly my point of view.

    Teaching of a religious ideas, why not.
    But not disguised as a scientific theory.

  19. Tom Walker Says:

    What’s so goddamn good about Jehovah anyway? Why should he be the only creation “myth” taught? [Or is gentle jesus his right hand dude?]

  20. Deceptor Says:

    It sounds very nice and fairminded to suggest teaching creationism and evolutionism side-by-side in our schools and letting the students decide for themselves, but since the majority of primary and secondary schools in America are funded, in the majority, by taxpayers, it does bring up some issues with the separation of church and state.
    If we must supplement instruction in the scientific theory of evolution with an overview of Western Christian, must we also, in the interests of fairness, represent Eastern religious and philosophical views on the origin of the universe? If so, can we, in good conscience, exclude the beliefs of various Native American tribes? What about the Inuits, the Maori, and Pacific Islanders? We wouldn’t be promoting a very fair and balanced worldview if they were left out, would we?
    There simply isn’t room in the curriculum to include EVERY competing religious idea of the world’s beginnings, so why not leave it up to each child’s parents and religious leaders (if any) to decide which are a necessary part of their charge’s education, OUTSIDE of the taxpayer-funded education system?

  21. François Says:

    Be careful, you think like a French person 🙂

  22. Brian Says:

    I think it’s because most people don’t have fair-minded, even-thinking parents. Also, with the “no child left behind” tests as well as state based tests, I know quite a few teachers who only have time in a school year to teach what the kids need to know to pass said tests. My friend that teaches history remarked just this past Sunday, “I’d love to spend a day teaching about Rasputin, but he isn’t on the test.”

    The idea that you include two viewpoints, you must include a hundred is pretty short sighted, too. How about if you present one arguement, you must present a counter balance. As someone who works in journalism, that’s pretty basic and we pretty much stop looking for different sides when we have two balanced ones. Should we look for someone from every scocioeconomic background when we conduct man-on-the-street interviews? In a perfect society, probably. In the real world, does it happen? Nope. If I am doing MOSs, then I am pretty happy if I can get a pair of men and women from different backgrounds. Depending on where I worked in the country, that’s usually a contrast of black and white people or brown and white people.

    I think, ultimately, this should all be decided at the state level, anyway. I staunchly believe in the separation of church and state, but that does not mean that no mention of religion should ever come up.

  23. Deceptor Says:

    Fair enough, but I think the question of how we reach the decision of WHICH dissenting viewpoint to address in our public schools still deserves thought– and I don’t think “cause it’s what most folks ’round here believes” is a valid reason by itself.
    And, as you say, the public school curriculum is crowded. (“No Child Left Behind” is a can of worms that could justify a discussion all on its own.) At the university level, entire courses and, indeed, degree programs can be devoted to religious studies, but public schools don’t have that luxury. At some point, educators (or politicians– sorry, couldn’t resist just one “no child…” jab) have to pick and choose what subject matter is most crucial. Given the excellent opportunities most children have to learn religious beliefs outside of school, I really don’t see how we can justify shortchanging other subjects in favor of a necessarily cursory overview of creationism.

  24. Brian Says:

    i dont think most of them have any opportunities to learn about religion. that’s how we end up with nut jobs as “religious leaders.”

  25. Brian Says:

    also, i don’t think it should be anything more than saying, simply, “some people believe that the beauty in nature reflects some sort of grander design.”

    then on to the next subject.