Reason For Hope

23 05 2009

Or perhaps I should say there is hope for reason.

Right after Obama took office there were a multitude of anti-evolution education bills popping up all over the country.  After the Texas Board of Education science and creationism debacle things were definitely looking bad for legitimate science education.  However I’m happy to report that in the past few weeks anti-evolution bills in Florida, Missouri, Alabama, and now Oklahoma have all gone down in flames.  We’re talking a solid rejection in what is the heart of the Bible belt.  And as I’ve noted before even the educated in Texas are pushing back.

It’s about f’ing time proper science stood up and smacked foolish superstitions around a little.

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Anti-Evolution Texas BOE May Get Neutered

21 05 2009

In a remarkable triumph for actual thinking Texans the embarrassing circus that is the Texas Board of Education may get many of their powers revoked.  After a long history of inept decisions and the recent “science standards” debacle the Texas legislature has introduced no fewer than six bills that would reduce the state board of education’s power.

Provisions being debated right now include stripping the Texas board of its authority to set curricula and approve textbooks, instead transferring those powers either to the Texas Commissioner of Education, the state education agency, or a legislative board.

Other provisions would transform the entire board to an appointed rather than elected body, require Webcasting of meetings, and take away the board’s control of school funding.

Good luck with that.  Seriously.

Currently Proposed Texas Science Textbooks

Currently Proposed Texas Science Textbooks





Mayor Eve And Village Idiot Adam

4 05 2009

Never mind the title, just go listen to this and enjoy.  Trust me on this.

Jonathan Goldstein’s telling of the Adam and Eve story





Creationist Science: Methods And Procedures

5 04 2009

I stand corrected, creationists do in fact have a strong basis for their scientific theories.  I apologize for doubting all of you out there or for mocking you.  If only I had seen this sooner.





Texas BOE: The Musical

5 04 2009

Sadly THIS is even more appropriate now than when I posted it in January. But it’s still a brilliant little song.





A Conversation With Catherine

1 04 2009

This comment appeared in my “About Super Jesus” page and I thought it was earnest and polite enough to merit a proper response and thread of its own.  I do hope Catherine will continue the conversation here if she is genuinely interested in persuading me or anyone else of the powers of religion over the failings of science.

Her comment is below:

If you had questions for a scientist regarding creation/evolution what would they be?
Do you think that Science and Religion can coexist?
Do you think one can prove the other and vise versa?
How much faith does the bible say is needed to go to heaven?
In the same way you would expect a scientist to PROVE creation to you, can you PROVE evolution to him.

Here is what I am thinking – You tell me if you are interested in meeting first of all and why. I thought that this would be good because you are scientifically minded.

If you are interested, lets meet some Saturday afternoon.
Bring your questions, not arguments.
Bring your curiosity, not anger
Bring your open-mindedness, and look objectively – not letting the experiences you have had with others ruin the experince you could have with God.
Consider also, that science is not the ONLY domain that TRUTH can be derrived from.
And let’s have some dialog on this topic.
This would not be for the public entertainment of your Super Jesus crowd. I do this because I actually care about you and not for the sake of winning an argument.

There are a lot of people who believe a lot of things blindly. I’m not one of those people.

As a side note: I rather enjoyed Hitchens vs Dinesh D’Souza. I did not see that one published on your site.

Regards,
Catherine

My response, in order:

Q: If you had questions for a scientist regarding creation/evolution what would they be?
A: First, help me understand the current hypotheses regarding the big bang singularity (“creation” if you insist) and how might we test them?  Second, why do you think so many otherwise intelligent people still deny the 150 years of cumulative and corroborative evidence supporting evolution?

Q: Do you think that Science and Religion can coexist?
A: They have so far but I think the more science expands our understanding of our world, and the universe in general, the more threatened religions become thereby making that coexistence a far more tenuous proposition.

Q: Do you think one can prove the other and vise versa?
A: Science could theoretically prove religion, but because religion is based on tenets of faith it, by its very nature, cannot attempt to prove anything.  I should point out that science has, thus far, found no evidence supporting any religious supernatural claims.

Q: How much faith does the bible say is needed to go to heaven?
A: Since the bible has no credibility or authority I don’t believe in heaven, hence this is an irrelevant question.

Q: In the same way you would expect a scientist to PROVE creation to you, can you PROVE evolution to him.
A: I would not expect a scientist to prove “creation” but I would expect him or her to do his or her best to explore the world, catalog facts and evidence, and then provide a best theory that best explains the data and (hopefully) predicts the results of future experiments.

So no I am not interested in meeting at this time, however I am open to an online conversation.  Please do not take offense as I would do this before I would opt to meet with you or anyone asking me the same question out of the blue online. I hope you would do the same.  I think you’re being sincere and I appreciate that you’re being cordial, so while we may disagree I will do my best to address you in kind.  I also strongly encourage anyone else commenting to do the same.

So while you seem to suggest that some uniquely divine truth can be found in (one or more) religions I personally think that the scientific method of inquiry is the only way of accurately determining the true nature of the world around us.  Religion consistently fails in this regard.  As for ethical issues, religion frequently falls far short of secular philosophy as well.

So I know you didn’t want to be entertainment for my readers, but I think this is less entertainment than educational for the few weary internet travelers that stumble across my humble page.  So let the dialog begin.  I await your response.

Super J.

PS: I didn’t watch the Hitchens v. Dinesh D’Souza video because Hitchens is typically an annoyingly pompous ass and D’Souza just makes my brain hurt.  Glad you liked it though.





Texas BOE Introduces Punctuated De-Evolution

31 03 2009

On Friday the (don’t mess with) Texas Board of Edukashen…made a mess of Texas.  Board chair and dentist Don McLeroy and his six fundamentalist toadies managed to put another log on the fire they hope to someday burn the witch of evolution on.

In what must be a complete embarrassment to those Texans with even a passing understanding of science, the board managed to add loopholes to the Science and Biology standards to make it easy for creationist hacks to fill science textbooks with half truths and unmerited doubt.  This, despite a petition from 54 scientific and educational societies urging against any language that would misrepresent or undermine the accurate teaching of evolution.

While the creationist preferred attack phrase “strengths and weaknesses” was rejected, other artificial doubt inspiring language was introduced where no legitimate doubt currently exists.  Language such as “is thought to” or “proposed transitional fossils” has been added to intentionally misrepresent established evolutionary concepts to make them seem uncertain.

The new biology standard now includes the debunked creationist ideas that “sudden appearance” and “stasis” in the fossil record somehow disprove evolution.  The new standard also overtly implies doubt by directing students to “analyze and evaluate the sufficiency of scientific explanations concerning any data of sudden appearance, stasis and the sequential nature of groups in the fossil records.”

As dentist Don exclaimed “Somebody’s got to stand up to experts!”

Yeah, because we wouldn’t want people who actually know what they’re talking about teaching our kids would we now?

I guess there's a reason for this

I guess there's a good reason for this, huh?