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Old 01-31-2005, 11:50 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Evolution Takes a Back Seat in U.S. Classes

Just goes to show that if you attack the public schools a lot you really can intimidate them into teaching only what you want them to teach.


Quote:
Dr. John Frandsen, a retired zoologist, was at a dinner for teachers in Birmingham, Ala., recently when he met a young woman who had just begun work as a biology teacher in a small school district in the state. Their conversation turned to evolution.

"She confided that she simply ignored evolution because she knew she'd get in trouble with the principal if word got about that she was teaching it," he recalled. "She told me other teachers were doing the same thing."

Though the teaching of evolution makes the news when officials propose, as they did in Georgia, that evolution disclaimers be affixed to science textbooks, or that creationism be taught along with evolution in biology classes, stories like the one Dr. Frandsen tells are more common. In districts around the country, even when evolution is in the curriculum it may not be in the classroom, according to researchers who follow the issue. Teaching guides and textbooks may meet the approval of biologists, but superintendents or principals discourage teachers from discussing it. Or teachers themselves avoid the topic, fearing protests from fundamentalists in their communities.

"The most common remark I've heard from teachers was that the chapter on evolution was assigned as reading but that virtually no discussion in class was taken," said Dr. John R. Christy, a climatologist at the University of Alabama at Huntsville, an evangelical Christian and a member of Alabama's curriculum review board who advocates the teaching of evolution. Teachers are afraid to raise the issue, he said in an e-mail message, and they are afraid to discuss the issue in public.

Dr. Frandsen, former chairman of the committee on science and public policy of the Alabama Academy of Science, said in an interview that this fear made it impossible to say precisely how many teachers avoid the topic.

"You're not going to hear about it," he said. "And for political reasons nobody will do a survey among randomly selected public school children and parents to ask just what is being taught in science classes."

But he said he believed the practice of avoiding the topic was widespread, particularly in districts where many people adhere to fundamentalist faiths.

"You can imagine how difficult it would be to teach evolution as the standards prescribe in ever so many little towns, not only in Alabama but in the rest of the South, the Midwest - all over," Dr. Frandsen said.

Dr. Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education, said she heard "all the time" from teachers who did not teach evolution "because it's just too much trouble."

"Or their principals tell them, 'We just don't have time to teach everything so let's leave out the things that will cause us problems,' " she said.

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/01/science/01evo.html
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Old 02-01-2005, 12:08 AM   #2 (permalink)
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More right-wing nonsense. Leave it to the consertatives to supress opinions and ideas for their agendas. I say teach it. Let the students make up their own minds.
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Old 02-01-2005, 05:33 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I'm amazed that his whole controversy has even come up. I wonder at the power of US lobbyism. It will be interesting to see how long ot takes, if it ever happens, before the discussion crosses the pond. Personally, i'm fine with my children being presented with the possibility that evolution is not the only possibility. However, I would like some more....not necessarily evidence, but data at least, if they are going to teach creationism or Intelligent Design. Actually, no, Creationism carries a religious connotation that has to stay in Bible Study or religion classrooms. Intelligent Design I can accept, if for no other reason than that one should remain critical and seek to learn about all the options befor making a choice.
Enough rambling for now.

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Old 02-01-2005, 05:39 AM   #4 (permalink)
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No, Intelligent Design is just religious bollocks dressed in pseudo science. It has no scientific background, so it should be teached in a "fairy tales" class.
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Old 02-01-2005, 08:51 AM   #5 (permalink)
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How about the parents that want their kids to grow up to be intelligent human beings buy them a couple of books and let them find opinions and evidence for both sides of the argument on the internet. The parents who want their kids to become unquestioning drones, in rapture to every bias of the local preacher, can build themselves a cabin in the woods and live on beans and roadkill.

Maybe my first bit of advice is the most sensible.
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Old 02-01-2005, 11:59 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Most teachers I have known are in the profession because they love it. It must be difficult for them now with the controversy caused by religious groups trying to get their agenda accepted as main stream scientific acceptance. I know we are at fault for electing them but our polititians should be ashamed for not taking the heat off of the teachers in this controversy.

I know there has been a lot written about intelligent design being just another theory but it is obvious to me that it is an agenda being pushed by certain religions whose ultimate goal is the acceptance of creationism by their god. In their view the idea of evolution discredits their religion and they are convincing polititians to help them push their religious ideas.

I do wish the teachers would not just ignore the subject and teach what they know is right but maybe that is too much to expect if their administrators won't back them up.
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Old 02-01-2005, 12:42 PM   #7 (permalink)
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This will boil over, and soon. I remember, 36 or so years ago, being taught about dinosaurs and cavemen and such in the second grade. I was also being taught about Adam and Eve, and the Garden of Eden, in Sunday School. (No, I wasn't always a Godless heathen. My mother provided me with a religious and spiritual upbringing.) I further remember asking, in both educational venues, if Adam and Eve were cavemen. Y'know, boys and girls, after all these years, poor old Bill still hasn't gotten an acceptable answer to that question. Be that as it may, little 6 year old Bill O'Rights was smart enough then to know that something wasn't adding up. But, I was taught what was appropriate. Evolution in the public school classroom. Creationism in the church. That is as it should be. It infuriates me that any more than two sentences are devoted to creationism, in a public school textbook.
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Old 02-01-2005, 04:57 PM   #8 (permalink)
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How is Creation vs. Evolution even an argument? It's like apples to oranges. Evolution doesn't have anything to do with the creation of the Earth, or that we even "came from Apes." Only that we have a comman ancestor with the ape family and that the Earth and the species change over time. Sure, it might be stepping on some creationists toes but religious beliefs still do not belong in a science classroom.

Which brings up the point of how to teach creationism in a classroom. Do we bust out only the Bibles? Or do we have to teach EVERY creation myth of EVERY religion? It's a can of worms that I honestly don't think will ever be opened, it is only a way of sneaking Bibles back into public schools. Frankly, if my children were ever taught creationism in a science classroom I would have some palaver with the school board, but then again isn't that what the religious people are doing with evolution? ...Can of worms.


Besides, if evolution is "just a theory", what does that make creationism?

Teacher: "Well class instead of learning about a highly documented, studied, and basically proven philosophy that is the foundation of modern biology, let me turn to Genesis here real quick. *flip flip flip* Ahem...In the beginning God created the heaven and earth. *slams book shut*."
Student: "How did he do that?"
Teacher: "POOF!"
Class:


Me:
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Old 02-01-2005, 05:12 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Religion and science should not taught in the same class. They are two entirely separate things.

edit - a biology class being taught without reference to evolution is incomplete. So would this be considered right-wing PCness?

Last edited by Coppertop; 02-01-2005 at 05:17 PM..
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Old 02-01-2005, 05:27 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fourtyrulz

Teacher: "Well class instead of learning about a highly documented, studied, and basically proven philosophy that is the foundation of modern biology, let me turn to Genesis here real quick. *flip flip flip* Ahem...In the beginning God created the heaven and earth. *slams book shut*."
Student: "How did he do that?"
Teacher: "POOF!"
Class:


Me:
Great use of a smilie, fourty.

I could never teach in a religiously funded private school for this very reason. I do not believe in creationism and would be unable to fulfill those requirements. When I teach science, the first thing I teach is the scientific method. I press upon my students the importance of observation and documentation. I also press upon them the idea that science is falsifiable. "Intelligent Design" is not falsifiable and is therefore not science, no matter what it's called in any of its variations.

Personally, I believe that any teacher who won't teach something approved by the curriculum because adminstration doesn't want them to is the very type of teacher we were discussing on another thread and should find another line of work. Any administrator who has political influence as his or her primary concern and not the education of his or her students also needs to find another line of work.
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Old 02-01-2005, 05:57 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I should like to step in here and clarify that it is not all Christians that oppose the teaching of evolution. The Catholic Church positively embraces it and has acknowledged its veracity, including in personal messages from several Pontiffs.

What we have here is a failure to communicate.*

The right-wing, fundamentalist Protestant churches that have so much influence in the US are the ones railing against evolution. Not "Christians".

Mr Mephisto


* - What can guess the movie reference? Anyone miss me while I was gone?

Last edited by Mephisto2; 02-01-2005 at 06:48 PM..
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Old 02-03-2005, 10:15 AM   #12 (permalink)
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I really enjoy it when people say that evolution is "only a theory". Like atomic theory is only a theory. Like gravity is only a theory. Like relativity (general and specific) is only a theory. Like the heliocentric solar system is only a theory. All of these are "only" scientific theories.

I also enjoy it when people talk about the universe being 10,000 years old. Then you point out the light from that star over there took millions of years to get here.
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Old 02-04-2005, 11:08 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by magnacarta
I also enjoy it when people talk about the universe being 10,000 years old. Then you point out the light from that star over there took millions of years to get here.
There was a girl in one of my life science classes who, when we were off on some tangent about how if the Sun went out it would take blahblah years to even know it which spawned a big bang theory discussion, actually said to my professor: "But God didn't say, 'Have the light travel from the stars' he just said 'Let there be light.'" My prof looked at her, looked at her freshly graded test, and said, "That's a good answer coming from you."

C'mon people if you aren't going to even try to challenge your beliefs in college why bother going???
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Old 02-04-2005, 11:47 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by magnacarta
I also enjoy it when people talk about the universe being 10,000 years old. Then you point out the light from that star over there took millions of years to get here.
But surely everyone of us knows that stars are just big diamonds attached to a great cupola of heaven made out of black velvet?
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Old 02-04-2005, 12:09 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Old 02-10-2005, 08:14 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JumpinJesus
I could never teach in a religiously funded private school for this very reason. I do not believe in creationism and would be unable to fulfill those requirements.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Mephisto
I should like to step in here and clarify that it is not all Christians that oppose the teaching of evolution. The Catholic Church positively embraces it and has acknowledged its veracity, including in personal messages from several Pontiffs.
Good point. I attended a Catholic high school. They taught evolution, not creationism, in biology class. They didn't teach creationism in any classes. Of course, they didn't really understand evolution, but they tried to teach it.
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Old 02-10-2005, 09:35 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by magnacarta
I really enjoy it when people say that evolution is "only a theory". Like atomic theory is only a theory. Like gravity is only a theory. Like relativity (general and specific) is only a theory. Like the heliocentric solar system is only a theory. All of these are "only" scientific theories.
There is a big difference between those theories and the theory of evolution. Those all can be proven with experiments. Evolution cannot. Also, there ere many differing opinions on evolution.
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Old 02-10-2005, 09:52 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alansmithee
There is a big difference between those theories and the theory of evolution. Those all can be proven with experiments. Evolution cannot. Also, there ere many differing opinions on evolution.
But can we at least agree that creationism amounts to nothing more than hearsay?
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Old 02-10-2005, 10:36 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alansmithee
There is a big difference between those theories and the theory of evolution. Those all can be proven with experiments. Evolution cannot. Also, there ere many differing opinions on evolution.
NOTHING can be proven with experiments. Still, evolutionary theory can be tested and makes falsifiable predictions (unlike creationism). This is a probably a topic for another thread.

I'm inclined to agree with the quotes below:
Quote:
Creation as literally depicted in Genesis is indeed supported by faith (and needs to be, since it is not supported by anything else, certainly not the Pope, nor the Roman or Anglican hierarchies). Evolution, on the other hand, is supported by evidence.

Any science teacher who denies that the world is billions (or even millions!) of years old is teaching children a preposterous, mind-shrinking falsehood. These men disgrace the honourable profession of teacher. By comparison, real teachers, teachers who respect truth and evidence whether in science or history, have so much more to offer. Today's children are blessed with the opportunity to open their minds to the shattering wonder of their own existence, the nature of life and its remarkable provenance in a yet more remarkable universe. Teachers who help to open young minds perform a duty which is as near sacred as I will admit. Ignorant, closed-minded, false teachers who stand in their way come as close as I can reckon to committing true sacrilege.

· Richard Dawkins FRS is Oxford University's Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science.
http://education.guardian.co.uk/scho...664595,00.html

Quote:
They [creation myths] are all different. Many of them are hauntingly beautiful. I think it is an excellent idea to teach them because it will bring home to the pupils that there is nothing to choose between them. And there is certainly no reason to prefer the Genesis creation myths (because Genesis itself has two different creation myths). "Of all the thousands and thousands of origin accounts we can teach our students, one and only one stands out as different from all the rest. This is the complex of origin accounts given by science. And what singles out the scientific account by contrast with all the rest? It is supported by evidence. Lots and lots of evidence. Evidence that can be publicly demonstrated and which will persuade any reasonable person, no matter what their cultural background."- Richard Dawkins
http://education.guardian.co.uk/asle...740377,00.html

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Old 02-10-2005, 10:43 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alansmithee
There is a big difference between those theories and the theory of evolution. Those all can be proven with experiments. Evolution cannot. Also, there ere many differing opinions on evolution.
Wrong. If anything remains a theory, rather than a law, it cannot be proven.
Unless you can account for every eventuality and have every detail down, it remains a theory. And we can't. We can't know how, for instance, Gravity works on the other side of the universe. There could be eventualities we could never even fathom let alone test for.

We can NEVER get (micro)evolutionary genetics down to an exact science for all of history. Thus it will always be a theory

We are as close to making all aspects of atomics, gravity, relativity and heliocentrism laws as we are evolution.

Simply because our perception cannot extend to everything. None of the previous mentioned are any more defined than evolution.
BTW there is no differing of opinon on evolution among real science. There is difference in the method, function, timeline and mathematics, but the general umbrella theory of evolution as "The natural and gradual process in which the change in the genetic composition of a population during successive generations, as a result of natural selection acting on the genetic variation among individuals, and resulting in the development of new species."

You won't find difference from that among real science.

Last edited by Superbelt; 02-10-2005 at 10:51 AM..
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Old 02-10-2005, 11:18 AM   #21 (permalink)
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Anyone know that Darwin debunked his own theories on evolution? He himself said it was hooey.
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Old 02-10-2005, 11:54 AM   #22 (permalink)
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He did not. The popular myth among the creationist nutjobs is that he converted to christianity on his deathbed and repented for believing in and furthering evolution.

Robert Penock debunked this myth in a book about creationism called "Tower of Babel"
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Old 02-10-2005, 01:34 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by squirrelyburt
Anyone know that Darwin debunked his own theories on evolution? He himself said it was hooey.
Thats a complete fabrication. Only one person (Lady Hope) ever claimed to witness this recantation, and all of his relatives denied that this event ever took place. Darwin's son publicly challenged her to respond to his accusations about the falsehood of her claim, and she rather conspicuously remained silent.
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Old 02-10-2005, 01:36 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Superbelt
He did not. The popular myth among the creationist nutjobs is that he converted to christianity on his deathbed and repented for believing in and furthering evolution.

Robert Penock debunked this myth in a book about creationism called "Tower of Babel"
That book, "Tower of Babel", is quite good. The title of the book talks about another story in Genesis that describes how people came to have different languages. Now, we can all look back at Chaucer and Shakespear and literature today and see how the English language has literally evolved. Well, the Tower of Babel story in the Bible describes how the people of the Earth once all spoke the same language. They decided to build a tower that would reach heaven (which, of course, is in the sky, you know . . . nevermind the moon, sun, etc.). Anyway, I digress. Well, God decided to punish them for their hubris and caused them each to speak and only understand a different language. Because they couldn't understand each other, they could not build the tower and they dispersed to other parts of the world. So, like creation itself, languages did not evolve, according to the Bible; they were created different immediately.

It's a creation story you don't hear much of.

Oh, by the way, here is the text of the story, written in English at different times (from Omniglot ):

Wycliffe version (1395) - Middle English

Forsothe the lond was of o langage, and of the same speche.
And whanne thei yeden forth fro the eest, thei fonden a feeld in the lond of Sennaar, and dwelliden ther ynne.
And oon seide to his neiybore, Come ye, and make we tiel stonys, and bake we tho with fier; and thei hadden tiel for stonus, and pitche for morter;
and seiden, Come ye, and make we to vs a citee and tour, whos hiynesse stretche 'til to heuene; and make we solempne oure name bifor that we be departid in to alle londis.
Forsothe the Lord cam down to se the citee and tour, which the sones of Adam bildiden.
And he seide, Lo! the puple is oon, and o langage is to alle, and thei han bigunne to make this, nethir thei schulen ceesse of her thouytis, til thei fillen tho in werk; therfor come ye, go we doun,
and scheende we there the tunge of hem, that ech man here not the voys of his neiybore.
And so the Lord departide hem fro that place in to alle londis; and thei cessiden to bielde a cytee.
And therfor the name therof was clepid Babel, for the langage of al erthe was confoundide there; and fro thennus the Lord scaterede hem on the face of alle cuntrees.

Tyndale version (1536)

And all the world was of one tonge and one language.
And as they came from the east they founde a playne in the lande of Synear and there they dwelled.
And they sayd one to a nother: come on let us make brycke ad burne it wyth fyre. So brycke was there stone and slyme was there morter
And they sayd: Come on let vs buylde vs a cyte and a toure that the toppe may reach vnto heauen. And let vs make us a name for perauenture we shall be scatered abrode over all the erth.
And the LORde came downe to see the cyte and the toure which the childern of Ada had buylded.
And the LORde sayd: See the people is one and haue one tonge amonge them all. And thys haue they begon to do and wyll not leaue of from all that they haue purposed to do.
Come on let vs descende and myngell theire tonge even there that one vnderstonde not what a nother sayeth.
Thus ye LORde skatered them from thence vppon all the erth. And they left of to buylde the cyte.
Wherfore the name of it is called Babell because that the LORDE there confounded the tonge of all the world. And because that the LORde from thence skatered them abrode vppon all the erth.
King James version (1611)
And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.
And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there.
And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter.
And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.
And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.
And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.
Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech.
So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.
Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.

New International Version (1973)

Now the whole world had one language and a common speech.
As men moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.
They said to each other, "Come, let's make bricks and bake them thoroughly." They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar.
Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth."
But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building.
The LORD said, "If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.
Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other."
So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city.
That is why it was called Babel -- because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth.

English Standard Version (2002)

Now the whole earth had one language and the same words.
And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there.
And they said to one another, "Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly." And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar.
Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth."
And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built.
And the Lord said, "Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them.
Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another's speech."
So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city.
Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth. And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth.
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Old 02-10-2005, 04:50 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Being "just a theory" has to be one of the most tired things I hear about all the time

These things are widely accepted "theories" because they have been under the scrutiny of tons and tons of evidence, trial, observation, etc. to prove it

Theories evolve over time to fit what one learns

Science does not set out to PROVE something exists - that is impossible

One cannot say "All zebras are striped." We'd have to look at every zebra that ever existed, that lives now, and ever will exist. It'd be impossible. Should one stripe-less zebra roll around, that would be thrown out.

Instead, science is used to disprove all the other possibilities. The theory of evolution fits that mold - it is the fitting of it into what we know of the world. It has tons of research and evidence to back it - the only reason it is "just a theory" still is because there are millions of variables and possibilities in the world and universe. DNA may be a Earth only thing. The elements we know of may not exist elsewhere in the universe. People didn't think of such a thing of anti-matter to exist until the last 100 years and now we realize that we may very well have an entire new periodic table of antimatter. Hell, entire galaxies could be made of it and we wouldn't know.

The biggest thing about this all is that it comes down to this: Creationism is based on faith in that you have to believe what is being said is true without much to back it up except the word given to you. Evolution is something that grows and changes depending on what we find. Creationism is the end-all other possibilities solution - what is, is. Evolution, however, changes as we learn.
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Old 02-10-2005, 06:42 PM   #26 (permalink)
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Louis Pastuer had a big hand in another wacko nutjob theory. You guys might have heard about it: The Germ Theory of Disease !

To quote a professor: "A theory is not just dumbass speculation."
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Old 02-10-2005, 07:17 PM   #27 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fourtyrulz
Louis Pastuer had a big hand in another wacko nutjob theory. You guys might have heard about it: The Germ Theory of Disease !

To quote a professor: "A theory is not just dumbass speculation."
Maybe the theory of bleeding the sick should also be given equal time in our classrooms. "Fetch my knife Brumhilda".
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Old 02-10-2005, 07:33 PM   #28 (permalink)
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I'm siding with evolution. For the life of me, I just can't grasp that the universe was created by someone or something, and given that this creator, usually called God, has never been proven to exist.

I find it equally remarkable that so many believe in creationism with absolutely no proof of a creator and that the whole thing carries weight into the 21st century.

No wonder infomercials run 24 hours a day. Jesus Christ, after someone buys into God, any God, some cheap jewllery is a pretty easy sell.
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Old 02-10-2005, 09:05 PM   #29 (permalink)
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Evolutionary Theory = Science
Creationism = Religion

Science Class teaches science, which of the two above fits into the 'science' catagory. For me that is the end of it. You just can't beat that logic.
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Old 02-11-2005, 07:09 AM   #30 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xell101
Evolutionary Theory = Science
Creationism = Religion

Science Class teaches science, which of the two above fits into the 'science' catagory. For me that is the end of it. You just can't beat that logic.
Exactly, that is where the debate should end. I wish we had some more outspoken believers in creationism being taught in schools just so we could get more of their perspective. Note to creationists hiding in the ranks: Join in the discussion, I think you could be heard more than you might think.
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the·o·ry - a working hypothesis that is considered probable based on experimental evidence or factual or conceptual analysis and is accepted as a basis for experimentation.
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