Speaking of Fundamentalist Fruit Cakes….

This makes me cranky. Of course I knew I was going to be cranky as soon as I read the title. I was actually looking for an article concerning a 126 year old skull in Sweden that was recently turned over to leaders in the jewish community for burial. It was quite an interesting story and I was going to do a post comparing this type of repatriation with the American type. But then I saw the above post and changed my mind (I’ll do the other post tomorrow).

More than two dozen witnesses will give testimony and be subject to cross-examination, with the majority expected to argue against teaching evolution.

One of the few mentions of opposition to the farce:

Many prominent U.S. scientific groups have denounced the debate as founded on fallacy and have promised to boycott the hearings, which opponents say are part of a larger nationwide effort by religious interests to gain control over government.

“I feel like I’m in a time warp here,” said Topeka attorney Pedro Irigonegaray who has agreed to defend evolution as valid science. “To debate evolution is similar to debating whether the Earth is round. It is an absurd proposition.”

After this it is all down hill:

The group is one of many that have been formed over the last several years to challenge the validity of evolutionary concepts and seek to open the schoolroom door to ideas that humans and other living creatures are too intricately designed to have come about randomly.

While many call themselves creationists, who believe that God was the ultimate designer of all life, they are stopping short of saying creationism should be taught in schools.

“We’re not against evolution,” said Calvert. “But there is a lot of evidence that suggests that life is the product of intelligence. I think it is inappropriate for the state to prejudge the question whether we are the product of design or just an occurrence.”

I am finishing up Dobzhansky’s “Genetics of the Evolutionary Process”. He has a chapter on the deterministic vs stochastic components of natural selection. Masatoshi Nei’s “Molecular Evolutionary Genetics” has one chapter devoted to deterministic evolutionary processes and one chapter devoted to stochastic. Anyone who calls natural selection and evolution purely random processes just does not know what they are talking about.

The current proposal pushed by conservatives would not eliminate evolution entirely from instruction, nor would it require creationism be taught, but it would encourage teachers to discuss various viewpoints and eliminate core evolution claims as required curriculum.

It would also change the definition of science to allow supernatural forces. If followed we would return to the days where discussing how many angels can dance on the head of a needle passed for cutting edge science.

School board member Sue Gamble, who describes herself as a moderate, said she will not attend the hearings, which she calls “a farce.” She said the argument over evolution is part of a larger agenda by Christian conservatives to gradually alter the legal and social landscape in the United States.

“I think it is a desire by a minority… to establish a theocracy, both within Kansas and growing to a national level,” Gamble said.

At the risk of sounding religious: TESTIFY, SISTER, TESTIFY!

Some evolution detractors say that the belief that humans, animals and organisms evolved over long spans of time is inconsistent with Biblical teachings that life was created by God. The Bible’s Old Testament says that God created life on Earth including the first humans, Adam and Eve, in six days.

Detractors also argue that evolution is invalid science because it cannot be tested or verified and say it is inappropriately being indoctrinated into education and discouraging consideration of alternatives.

Can we have the names of these detractors or is it a secret? This is on par with the typical ID spiel about “many” or “a growing number” of scientists who doubt evolution. I know a few scientists, anthropologists mainly, none of them doubt evolution and all use the theory in their research. How many use scientists use ID in their day to day research? Even Behe doesn’t.

Who gets the last word in the article?

Kansas School Board chairman Steve Abrams said the hearings are less about religion than they are about seeking the best possible education for the state’s children.

“If students… do not understand the weaknesses of evolutionary theory as well as the strengths, a grave injustice is being done to them,” Abrams said.

.

Here’s the problem as I see it. I spent four years as an undergraduate studying anthropology. Most of that time was spent learning the basics of the field – this is a femur note the greater trochanter, note also the way the next is composed of slighty different type of bone than the rest of the femur note the orientation of the bone in the neck gives it a greater capacity to resist stress during bipedal locamotion, here are some skulls of a wide variety of different hominids, apes, monkeys and prosimmians, these are the characteristics that distinguish them (note by the way some distinguishing characteristics are metric traits others not) and so on till my head wanted to explode. It wasn’t till my senior year and even my first year as a grad student that we started getting the esoterica of evolutionary theory (as it relates to anthropology). We simply would not have been able to absorb it because there was to much to learn before we could begin to make sense of it and think about it logically (and more importantly, to be able to come up with evidence to defend our views). I had several seminars in paleoanthroplogy, for example, and although I learned a lot about neanderthals and what not, the important thing I (and my fellow students) learned in them was how to figure out what evidence supported our postion (if you are going to argue that Homo habilis is a valid taxon against doctoral students you better know habiline anatomy inside out, trust me on that).
So, how Abrams and Calvert can expect high school students, no matter how talented, to gain anything from what they are proposing is beyond me.

If you really want decent coverage, Red State Rabble has it here and here. Thoughts from Kansas also has good coverage. Although I live in St. Louis I am still incredibly interested in what happens in Kansas because if they win in Kansas, Missouri may be next. So, I strongly encourage any of you who are able to go and help. If you can’t go, at least stop by the above two sites and express your support!

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3 Responses

  1. Yes, I will be watching, too. It is unfortunate that the people in higher authority are trying to make us a “God-fearing” country. It’s almost like they desire the same type of control as the countries dominated by the Mullahs.

  2. It has always struck me as odd that people will justify anything as long as it is for “Jesus” and don’t see that there is no difference between their behavior and the behavior of others – that they have already condemned.

  3. Didn’t you say fruit and cake would be served?

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