August 18, 2006

America doesn’t believe in evolution

Permalink | August 18th, 2006

Evolution

A study conducted by Jon Miller from Michigan State University of 32 European countries, the United States and Japan has revealed that the US is the second most unwilling nation to accept evolution as fact. In the only country in which evolution has been politicised, the percentage of people who accept the idea of evolution has declined from 45% in 1985 to only 40% in 2005.

Many attribute the cause to the large fundamentalist Christian population in the US. While Catholics, European Protestants and so-called mainstream US Protestants consider the biblical account of creation as a metaphor, fundamentalists take the Bible literally, leading them to believe that the Earth and humans were created only 6000 years ago.

source

April 20, 2006

The Flying Spaghetti Monster

Permalink | April 20th, 2006

The Flying Spaghetti Monster

It’s been almost a year, and the Flying Spaghetti Monster is still flying strong. The latest sighting was on Wednesday in Stucky Middle School.

The creature, called the Flying Spaghetti Monster, is the creation of Bobby Henderson of Corvallis, Ore. It looks like a clump of spaghetti with two eyes sticking out of the top and two meatballs flanking the eyes.

Henderson created the entity and an accompanying mythology on the origin of mankind to make fun of Kansas’ recent debate over the teaching of criticisms of evolution, including intelligent design.

WWFSMD?

Read: Evolution debate spawns a saucy monster
Read: Creature’s picture irks Board of Ed member

Visit: Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster

January 19, 2006

The Vatican sides with Darwin

Permalink | January 19th, 2006

The Vatican sides with Darwin

In the on-going battle of good vs Intelligent Design, the side of good has struck yet another blow. The official Vatican newspaper recently printed an article saying that the decision by the Pennsylvania courts to not allow Intelligent Design to be taught as a scientific alternative to evolution was in fact the correct decision.

“If the model proposed by Darwin is not considered sufficient, one should search for another,” Fiorenzo Facchini, a professor of evolutionary biology at the University of Bologna, wrote in the Jan. 16-17 edition of the paper, L’Osservatore Romano.

“But it is not correct from a methodological point of view to stray from the field of science while pretending to do science,” he wrote, calling intelligent design unscientific. “It only creates confusion between the scientific plane and those that are philosophical or religious.”

The article was not presented as an official church position. But in the subtle and purposely ambiguous world of the Vatican, the comments seemed notable, given their strength on a delicate question much debated under the new pope, Benedict XVI.

While L’Osservatore is the official newspaper of the Vatican and represents the views of the Vatican, it does not, in its entirety, represent the official views of the Church. However, it stands to reason that at the same time, the newspaper does not print articles that stray far from the official views of the Church.

[via NY Times]

December 22, 2005

A higher power strikes down Intelligent Design

Permalink | December 22nd, 2005

A higher power strikes down Intelligent Design

A court in Pennsylvania has struck down the idea of Intelligent Design in the classroom, calling the school board’s promotion of the curriculum a disguise for sneaking religion in the public school.

The school board argued they had sought to improve science education by exposing pupils to alternatives to Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.

But Judge Jones said he had determined that ID was not science and “cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents”.

In a 139-page written ruling, the judge said: “Our conclusion today is that it is unconstitutional to teach ID as an alternative to evolution in a public school science classroom.”

He accused school board members of disguising their true motives for introducing the ID policy.

“We find that the secular purposes claimed by the board amount to a pretext for the board’s real purpose, which was to promote religion in the public school classroom,” he said.

Darwin: 1, Extreme Religious Conservatives: 0.

[via The BBC]

November 22, 2005

The Vatican rejects intelligent design, again

Permalink | November 22nd, 2005

The Vatican rejects intelligent design, again

The Vatican’s chief astronomer said Friday that “intelligent design” isn’t science and doesn’t belong in science classrooms, the latest high-ranking Roman Catholic official to enter the evolution debate in the United States.

The Rev. George Coyne, the Jesuit director of the Vatican Observatory, said placing intelligent design theory alongside that of evolution in school programs was “wrong” and was akin to mixing apples with oranges.

“Intelligent design isn’t science even though it pretends to be,” the ANSA news agency quoted Coyne as saying on the sidelines of a conference in Florence. “If you want to teach it in schools, intelligent design should be taught when religion or cultural history is taught, not science.”

[Full Article]

November 9, 2005

We’re not in Kansas any more

Permalink | November 9th, 2005

We're not in Kansas any more

In a 6-4 vote by the Kansas Board of Education, public schools in Kansas will be required to teach that evolution isn’t the only answer.

Teachers have been ordered to tell pupils that Darwin’s theory of evolution is unproven, and that the universe is so complex that it may have been created by a higher power.

Last month parents in Dover sued the school board, accusing it of introducing religion and creationism into schools, in breach of the US constitutional separation of church and state.

In response to the vote, Steve Abrams, Chairman of the Kansas Board of Education remarked, “This is a great day for education.” While Judy McIlvaine, School board Dover, Pennsylvania, refuted, “We are all for it being discussed, but we do not want to see it in biology class. It is not a science.”

[via The BBC]

October 31, 2005

Kansas board of education devolves

Permalink | October 31st, 2005

Kansas board of education devolves

In a bid to stop the board of education in Kansas from making a horrible mistake by adopting and teaching intelligent design creationism in its schools, two leading scientific organizations have denied Kansas permission to use their copyrighted material in their new standards proposal.

The National Academy of Sciences and the National Science Teachers Association said the much-disputed new standards “will put the students of Kansas at a competitive disadvantage as they take their place in the world.”

The stinging rebuke came less than two weeks before the state school board is expected to put the science standards into effect. The new standards have also received a lukewarm review from an external education company.

While the copyright denial could cause delay in their adoption, as the standards are rewritten, it is unlikely to derail the board’s conservative majority in its mission to require that challenges to Darwin’s theories be taught in the state’s classrooms.

“Kansas students will not be well-prepared for the rigors of higher education or the demands of an increasingly complex and technologically-driven world if their science education is based on these standards,” Ralph J. Cicerone, president of the National Academy, and Michael J. Padilla, president of the teachers’ group, said in a joint written statement today. “Instead, they will put the students of Kansas at a competitive disadvantage as they take their place in the world.”

[via NY Times]

September 26, 2005

Intelligent design heads to court

Permalink | September 26th, 2005

Intelligent design heads to court

The Dover, PA school board’s decision to adopt intelligent design has outraged parents enough for them to take the issue to court. 11 parents have sued the school board and the district, claiming that intelligent design is simply an intelligent way of sneaking religion into the classroom.

“You can dress up intelligent design and make it look like science, but it just doesn’t pass muster,” said Mr. Stough, a Republican whose idea of a fun family vacation is visiting fossil beds and natural history museums. “In science class, you don’t say to the students, ‘Is there gravity, or do you think we have rubber bands on our feet?’ ”

Evolution finds that life evolved over billions of years through the processes of mutation and natural selection, without the need for supernatural interventions. It is the foundation of biological science, with no credible challenges within the scientific community. Without it, the plaintiffs say, students could never make sense of topics as varied as AIDS and extinction.

Advocates on both sides of the issue have lined up behind the case, often calling it Scopes II, in reference to the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial that was the last century’s great face-off over evolution.

A meter reader was quoted as saying, “It was just our school board making one small decision, but it was just received with such an uproar.” An obvious example of the lack of understanding of the widespread effect of such a decision. This entire controversy, fueled by the conservative think-tank, was well summed up by Bryan Rehms, a former science teacher in Dover, “There’s no way to have a winner here. The community has already lost, period, by becoming so divided.”

[via NY Times and The BBC]

August 21, 2005

Conservatives push evolution controversy

Permalink | August 21st, 2005

Conservatives push evolution controversy

The debate over “teaching the controversy” and including Intelligent Design in the public school curriculum is continuing to gain momentum. The NY Times writes,

When President Bush plunged into the debate over the teaching of evolution this month, saying, “both sides ought to be properly taught,” he seemed to be reading from the playbook of the Discovery Institute, the conservative think tank here that is at the helm of this newly volatile frontier in the nation’s culture wars.

Mainstream scientists reject the notion that any controversy over evolution even exists. But Mr. Bush embraced the institute’s talking points by suggesting that alternative theories and criticism should be included in biology curriculums “so people can understand what the debate is about.”

However, just like that slipping top layer of snow on a mountain, this whole issue is about rip out of control and come down on us like an avalanche. Red State Rabble refers to a very interesting, highly provocative, and heated article posted on Slate titled “Evolution vs. Religion: Quit pretending they’re compatible.”

The president seems to view the conflict between evolutionary theory and intelligent design as something like the debate over Social Security reform. But this is not a disagreement with two reasonable points of view, let alone two equally valid ones. Intelligent design, which asserts that gaps in evolutionary science prove God must have had a role in creation, may be — as Bob Wright argues — creationism in camouflage. Or it may be — as William Saletan argues — a step in the creationist cave-in to evolution. But whatever it represents, intelligent design is a faith-based theory with no scientific validity or credibility.

If Bush had said schools should give equal time to the view that the Sun revolves around the Earth, or that smoking doesn’t cause lung cancer, he’d have been laughed out of his office. The difference with evolution is that a large majority of Americans reject what scientists regard as equally well supported: that we’re here because of random mutation and natural selection.

This is not an issue that will quietly go away overnight, nor be solved during a few debates on national television or in a lecture hall. No, this will continue to widen that ever growing rift between the conservative right and everybody else the liberal left. One nation … split.

August 10, 2005

Intelligent Design

Permalink | August 10th, 2005

President Bush has taken the evolution debate national, suggesting that intelligent design be taught in the classroom. He has proposed that this will offer students a better understanding about the debate of the origins of the universe, but critics are claiming it shows increasing pressure being applied by the religious right.

Alan Leshner, the chief executive of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, says that the proponents of intelligent design are “trying to cloak a religious concept in the mantle of science”.

“There is no science to intelligent design, it’s not even a scientifically answerable question,” he says.

It is interesting to note, however, that Popes from Pius XII to John Paul II have reaffirmed that the process of evolution in no way violates the teachings of the church. So if that’s the case, where’s the controversy?

[via The BBC]