Still the simplest and most sensible explanation for species adaptation, still the most misunderstood concept by all those who claim it’s wrong.
On the Origin of Species was published 150 years ago today. And no, I haven’t read it. I suppose I should but I haven’t gotten around to it. I don’t have to read it to know it’s on target, though, because scientists all over the world agree it’s on target and experimentation over the years has verified the inherent truths of Charles Darwin’s evolutionary model. It’s the best scenario we’ve got that can explain how we got to this point that doesn’t rely on any supernatural nonsense to make it work.
Religion Dispatches has a nice article about the evolution/ID argument today. Lauri Lebo does make the mistake of claiming Kirk Cameron was on Family Ties; it was actually Growing Pains, but I can see how she’d mix those up. Still doesn’t excuse something that easy to check, but anyway, the article:
Most recently, last week, former Family Ties child actor and born-again Christian Kirk Cameron and evangelist Ray Comfort, led a crusade at college campuses around the U.S. and Canada, distributing free altered copies of Origin of Species.
Because Origin is in the public domain, Comfort was legally able to add to the book his own new 50-page introduction, in which he quotes from Mein Kampf in order to link Darwin to Adolf Hitler, accuses Darwin of being sexist, and argues falsely that there are no transitional fossils in the fossil record.
And he deleted chapters 9-12 or something. I saw a copy of it and the sneaky turd doesn’t even put his name on the cover to let people know it’s not the original Origin. Pretty much everything that made Darwin’s case got pulled out.
Next month marks the four-year anniversary of the decision of Kitzmiller v. Dover, in which Judge John E. Jones determined that intelligent design was merely religion masquerading as a scientific conceit and therefore unconstitutional to teach in the public schools.
Since then, evolution’s opponents have been struggling to redefine their message.
But the underlying point remains the same. As a woman distributing Comfort’s altered copies of Origin last week explained to CNN, it was important to her because evolution “impacts a person’s eternal destiny.”
I don’t see how, personally. Evolution has nothing to do with a person’s personal belief in heaven or hell. Why would it have to be one or the other? Is it totally necessary to faith to buy into the 6000 year old earth, or is it possible to finally admit that’s an unfounded fallacy and move on to what’s proven fact? Of course I already know the answer to that one. I recently found a comment by someone basically claiming God made a mature earth just to take the mickey out of future scientists and their radio carbon dating. I’m surprised I haven’t seen any arguments claiming osteoporosis killed the dinosaurs because their bones were already “millions of years” old and fragile when they hatched in the first place…
It’s going to take a lot more than scientific evidence, rational thought and reasoned debate to get people to accept the very real fact that in the scientific community, there is no debate over whether evolution is real. Sadly, most of the fighting continues to take place in the U.S., where our tradition of anti-intellectualism and history of religious fundamentalism provided fertile ground for the battle over religion versus science. (In a 2006 survey of western nations, Turkey was the only country in which fewer people accepted evolution than in the United States.)
According to Ron Numbers’ The Creationists: From Scientific Creationism to Intelligent Design, in the wake of the publishing of Origin, Christians in America were, for the most part, able to make peace with Darwin’s theory and evolutionary principles. It wasn’t until the early 1900s, when a series of religious pamphlets, The Fundamentals, were published arguing for the acceptance of the Bible as literal truth that a widespread backlash to evolution was born.
Four books worth of Fundamentals pamphlets were published in 1915. 1925 marked the official banning of evolution in the classroom, but Intelligent Design as an idea grew out of scientific advancements in the late 1950s, according to Lebo, and have continued to make headway. Four years ago, Kitzmiller v. Dover took science’s side but that hasn’t stopped people from trying to manipulate science classes to make room for creationism as a theory equal to (or better than) everything we’ve built on since Darwin wrote his book.
The new creationist/intelligent design strategy has been to pressure states and school districts to water down the teaching of evolution until it’s virtually meaningless and to raise doubts in children’s’ minds about the validity of science.
As Don McLeroy, one of the members of the Texas Board of Education, who led efforts to instill intelligent-design friendly language into his state science standards, said during hearings this spring, “Somebody has to stand up to the experts.”
And that should be up to other experts who have a better theory and can demonstrate it with verifiable scientific experimentation. Don’t just point at some dude caressing a piece of fruit while he jabbers towards a camera and some dopey child star oohs and ahhs. That’s not proof of anything.
Last week, Comfort was quoted in Charisma saying he doubts intelligent design will ever be taught in schools alongside evolution. “That’s because we have to remember who we are as Christians,” he said. “We’re the folks who believe in Adam and Eve [and] Noah’s Ark … and so in the name of science, they are going to resist as much as they can.”
Well of course we will. Bible stories are for religion class. Science class is supposed to introduce kids to how the world works and what we think we know about the universe. It’s not the place to fill their heads with shit they’ll need to take on faith. It’s the place to fill their heads with facts that have been demonstrated as most likely answers to life, the universe and everything and encourage them towards those fields to prove or disprove any fact or hypothesis or theory they dare to take on. We will never have all the answers. We will always find more puzzles that need solutions. But no matter what, “God did it” will never be a sufficient or verifiable answer to anything.