The Watering Hole, Wednesday, May 28, 2014: STATEMENT OF FAITH*

STATEMENT OF FAITH

I. We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative, inerrant Word of God (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21).

II. We believe there is one God, eternally existent in three persons — Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Deut. 6:4; Matt. 28:19; 2 Cor. 13:14).

a. We believe in God the Father whose love was exemplified in that He gave His only begotten Son for the salvation of men (John 3:16; Eph. 1:3).

b. We believe in the Deity of the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. When coming to earth He never ceased to be God and that His humiliation did not consist of laying aside His Deity. As a man, He was miraculously begotten of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. By his atonement and resurrection He accomplished the redemption and justification before God of all who truly believe in Him and accept Him as Lord (Isa. 7:14; 9:6; Luke 1:35; Gal. 4:4-5; Phil. 2:5-8).

c. We believe that the ministry of the Holy Spirit is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ and during this age to convict men, regenerate the believing sinner, indwell, guide, instruct, comfort, sanctify, seal, reprove and empower the believer for Godly living and service (John 16:7-8; Rom. 8:9; Eph. 1:13-14).

III. We believe Satan is an angelic being who rebelled with other angels against the authority of God. Satan was given temporary rule over the earth for an age to deceive as many of mankind as he is able (Job 1:6-7; Isa. 14:12; Matt. 4:2-11; Matt. 25:41; Rev. 20:10).

IV. We believe that God created the heaven and earth, including all life, by direct act, and not by a process of evolution, in six literal, 24-hour periods (Gen. 1:1-2:3; Ex. 20:11).

V. We believe God’s grace provides salvation and eternal life through Christ’s death, burial and resurrection to all people who repent and receive Him as Savior and Lord. Salvation is based solely upon faith in God’s promise (John 1: 12-13; 2 Cor. 5:17; Eph. 1:7, 2:8-9; Gal. 2:16).

VI. We believe that Christ arose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father, where He intercedes for the believers as our High Priest. We believe in His personal return for His Church. We believe in the resurrection of both the saved and the lost; they that are saved unto the resurrection of life, and they that are lost unto the resurrection of damnation (Acts 2:22-36; Rom. 3:24-26; 1 Peter 2:24; Eph. 1:7; 1 Peter 1:3-5; Acts 1:9-11; Heb. 9:24, 7:25; Rom 8:34; 1 John 2:1-2; Matt. 25:46; John 5:28-29, 11:25-26; Rev. 20:12-15).

VII. We believe that the family is ordained by God as the basic unit of His plan for His people. The institution of marriage between one man and one woman as created by God provides the foundation and definition for the family. We believe in the preservation and edification of the family to be an act of obedience to God (Gen. 2:24, 19:5,13; Lev. 18:1-30; Rom. 1:26-32; 1 Cor. 6:9-10; 1 Thes. 4:3; Heb. 13:4; Mal. 2:14-16; Rom. 7:1-3; Matt. 19:3-6; 1 Cor. 7:10-16).

VIII. We believe in the sanctity of all human life. This life should be protected, nurtured and helped from the moment of conception, when life begins, until death occurs normally (Ps. 139:13-16; Isa. 44:24, 49:1,5; Jer. 1:5; Luke 1:44).

Questions:

1. Does this describe a cult? If so, in what way?

2. Does the education provided by a parochial school based on this Statement of Faith harm children in any way, or do they benefit from being thus indoctrinated?

3. Are there any studies showing children attending such schools either excel academically, or have one or more academic deficiencies? If so, what are those studies?

OPEN THREAD
FEEL FREE TO EXCERCISE
YOUR 1ST AMENDMENT RIGHT ON THIS TOPIC
OR ANYTHING ELSE,
AS THE SPIRIT MOVES YOU

*This is not to imply that this “Statement of Faith” is adhered to by The Zoo, nor any of the members of The Zoo community.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, March 22, 2014: Will Creationists Never Get It?

In case you didn’t already know, I’m an Atheist, and happy and proud to be one. I believe that our portion of the Space-Time Continuum came into being as the result of a Big bang, an explosion of matter and energy that rapidly expanded, and eventually formed the many, many galaxies of which our own is just one. I said “Space-Time Continuum” instead of “Universe” because I believe there are many, many Universes, spread far apart from one another. The Space-Time Continuum is just the framework within which everything happened, happens, and will happen. It is infinite in size, and infinite in time. It has always existed and it will always exist, but the matter and energy within it will constantly change. It was not brought into existence by anything, it was already there. Matter and energy may be turned into each other, but the infinite framework will still be there. Many religions that believe in a God have a Creation Myth. The one in the Christian Bible is not the only one, but that’s the one that religious conservatives want to see imposed on everyone. Their Creation Myth begins with three simple words, “In the beginning…” And that’s where the Bible and I part company. Because as far as I’m concerned, there was no beginning. People erroneously believe there MUST have been a First Cause, some kind of Force that brought everything into existence. I disagree. You want to tell me that the Space-Time Continuum Framework was entirely empty before some kind of Deity decided to start making stuff in it? For how long must that Deity, that all-powerful, all-knowing, all-seeing Deity, have sat around in a whole bunch of Nothingness? That makes absolutely no sense at all. None. What makes much more sense is that there was no beginning, that it was always there in some form or another. And it will still be there long after we all turn to star dust. Wouldn’t that imply that Life has no purpose? Yeah, but so what? In the wise words of Peter Falk in The Princess Bride, “Who said Life is fair?”

Which brings us to the Creationists of Answers In Genesis. They still don’t understand the concept of Science. They’re upset because Neil deGrasse Tyson, host of the revival of “Cosmos,” won’t allow “balance” and present the view of the anti-Evolutionists. They seem to think that any effort to educate the public about things like the Truth, using such controversial tactics as citing Facts, must be balanced by teaching things what could only be described as “Falsehoods” and “Lies.” They seem to think that young people should be taught all points of view, no matter how absurd or demonstrably false, and then let them “decide” what they want to believe. This is how you raise a generation of stupid people. And stupid people tend to be conservative in their thinking (a well-documented fact), and stupid, I mean, conservative, in their voting. This has always been part of the long term strategy of the Right. People who don’t understand how Science works, who think that every point of view is valid, tend to be easily manipulated emotionally into being afraid. And people who are afraid make bad decisions, like voting for Conservatives to govern them. Which is why the Conservatives let the Religious Right have their way, no matter how wrong, no matter how intellectually void of merit their ideas, no matter how unconstitutional their proposed legislation.

Creationists continue to insist that their views be given equal weight with Scientific viewpoints and Theories. But there is absolutely nothing scientific about Creationism or Intelligent Design. They start with the premise that God exists, and assume that anything that isn’t understood is the Will of God and Not For Mere Mortals to Understand. That is not Science. How can you test any hypothesis when you hope the result is that you can’t discern the answer, so it must be God’s work? Even more, Creationism isn’t even a true Theory in the scientific sense. It’s nothing more than a belief that things happened a certain way, on the whim and time scale of a Power we can’t hope to understand, with no allowance for any belief otherwise. Why should that be given equal weight with the culmination of hundreds of years of scientific discipline and pursuit of the Truth? Especially when it’s been long proven that the Religious views on the nature of the Universe have been proven wrong time and again? The Sun does not revolve around the Earth. The Earth is not the center of the galaxy, let alone the Universe. We are no more important in the Grand Scheme of Things than the people living on a planet circling Alpha Centauri. And they probably think the same thing about us. And you know what? We’re both right.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss Creationism, real Science, Cosmos, Neil deGrasse Tyson, or anything else about Neil deGrasse Tyson that you like.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, February 8, 2014: Why Republican Religiosity is Wrong

According to my dictionary, the definition of “fact” is

n. 1. the quality of existing or of being real; actuality; truth.
2. something known to exist or have happened.
3. a truth known by actual experience or observation.

Facts are important. When Reality offers a challenge, you must deal with facts if you’re going to solve the problem. You can’t solve a real problem if you ignore the facts, or worse, try to act as if the opposite were true. Now look at the definition of “belief”:

n. 1. something believed; an opinion or conviction.
2. confidence in the truth or existence of something not immediately susceptible to vigorous proof.
3. confidence, faith, or trust.
4. a religious tenet or tenets

Notice the difference between these two words. Facts have the quality of being real and actual, where beliefs do not require any reality or actuality. You can believe something with all your heart but it won’t make it a fact if it’s not actually true. Beliefs can be wrong (and often are), but facts, by their very definition, cannot be wrong, because they are what is true, what actually happened. When it comes to education, you cannot treat belief as equal to fact. You cannot give an opinion or conviction equal weight with something real, actual or true. It may, in the long run, turn out that what someone believes is true, but that doesn’t justify teaching it as an actual fact, reliable as anything based on scientific evidence or experiment. Just because you believe something to be true, it doesn’t mean everyone else should be taught your belief as it were an actual fact. Especially, and I cannot emphasize this enough, if your belief is a religious one.

There are many Americans (far, far too many, IMHO) who believe that The Bible is factually true, that it is literally the Word of God, and that it should be taught in public schools. I have yet to hear any of these proponents specify which version of the Bible should be considered “The” Bible, and this, in itself, is problematic for me. Not so much that people can’t decide which version of the Bible they want taught in public schools, but that there are so many versions of the “literal Word of God” in the first place from which a choice must be made. They’re all different in some way or else there wouldn’t be different versions. But how can any one of them claim to be the literal Word of God if they differ? And just because King James I commissioned a new version of The Bible which he hoped would replace the one then currently in widespread use, why should that version be given any more credibility than any other version? It’s not because the King said so, as James did not make any order or proclamation that this version of The Bible be used in place of any other. It might interest you to know that the Geneva Bible, the one eventually supplanted by the KJV, was even more popular among the Pilgrims than the KJV. So when enthusiastic Conservative Christians claim America was founded on the principles of “The Bible,” it’s important to know which version they mean. But I digress.

In Missouri, Republicans want belief to be given equal authority to fact. A second-term State Representative, Rick Brattin (R-Harrisonville), has introduced a bill that would allow parents to pull their children out of classes where evolution is being taught. “What my bill would do is it would allow parents to opt out of natural selection teaching,” Brattin explained. “It would not prohibit the child from going through biology from learning about cell structure, DNA and the building blocks of life.” Mr. Brattin has been trying for several years to get Intelligent Design taught in high school science classes as an alternative theory to Darwin’s theories about Natural Selection. This despite the fact (there’s that important word) that courts have consistently ruled against public schools teaching Intelligent Design as Science because it’s nothing more than Creationism dressed up in a sexier framework. [A quick word about Natural Selection. Its advocacy of “survival of the fittest” does not, as its opponents often say, mean “survival of the strongest.” Rather it means survival of the species most suited – i.e., “fit” – for a given environment. If the edible leaves on the plants are higher up on the tree, the species that can reach them are more likely to survive and pass on their physical characteristics to their offspring than the ones who can’t reach them as easily. It has nothing to do with strength, but with suitability to one’s environment. The species that thrive, survive, and the ones that don’t, won’t.]

No matter how they try to disguise it, Intelligent Design is nothing more than Creationism, and Creationism is nothing but Religion, and Christianity in particular. And it’s a violation of the First Amendment to require publicly financed schools to adhere to any particular religion, even Christianity. It doesn’t matter that it’s the most popular religion in the United States, it’s still a religion and it still violates the Separation of Church and State to endorse any one over the other. You might believe it’s true, but you can’t prove it through any scientific methods, and that’s the primary reason it has no place in a Science class room. Evolution, on the other hand, has testable hypotheses and is constantly being confirmed by new findings and evidence. If you have to infect the minds of the young with something as ridiculous as Intelligent Design (its main argument seems to be that you can’t prove it’s wrong, and the fact that you can’t explain every aspect of Evolution somehow proves that Intelligent Design is right, as if the only two choices were a 100% understanding of everything that ever happened or blind acceptance that a God designed and made everything and that this is the reason you can’t understand it), then a Philosophy or Religion or Study Hall class might be the more appropriate place. But you do not teach Creationism as Science when it is anything but. People should be free to believe it if they wish (though they’re wasting their time and lives doing so), but it shouldn’t be public policy that every child in school be taught that this particular Religion is as true as Science.

But if you think that the Science class is the only place where Republican Christians want their religious beliefs to decide all aspects of our lives, think again. Not only does Mary Helen Sears of Houghton Count, Michigan, claim that Darwin’s evolutionary theory “gave rise to Hitler’s Third Reich, Mussolini’s Italy and Stalin’s Russia,” but she also believes homosexuals prey on children, that “Satan uses homosexuality to attack the living space of the Holy Spirit” and that Republicans “as a party should be purging this perversion and send them to a party with a much bigger tent.” Why does it matter what she thinks? Because she’s a candidate for a Michigan seat in the Republican National Committee. And she would join a man the party chairman asked to resign “for the good of the party” for his anti-gay comments. He would not do so, and due to specific party rules about representation on the national committee, a seat for only a woman was opened when a woman on the committee stepped down to concentrate on her Senate campaign. The funny thing about this anti-homosexual strain in today’s GOP is that there is no universal agreement on whether not the Bible bans homosexuality. Listening to the anti-gay crowd, you’d think the Bible was filled cover-to-cover with anti-homosexual pronouncements, but in truth there are only seven passages in the Bible that mention the subject, and not one of them is associated with Jesus! (Nor Satan, for that matter.) Why these folks think the Bible is more concerned with male homosexuality (lesbianism is not actually condemned outright anywhere in the Bible) than it is with income inequality or helping the poor is beyond me, and it is dangerous for America if they are given any kind of political power. Having your opinion influenced by Biblical teachings (whatever they may be) is one thing, but having those beliefs carved in stone by them is something altogether different. And it’s dangerous for Americans to put people who think this way in positions of political power in the secular United States of America.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss anything you want.

The Watering Hole, Monday, September 9, 2013: The Bible Is Not Science

David Rives, of David Rives Ministries, was a guest on a program called “Creation Today” just this past Friday, and he made the claim that The Big Bang Theory about the creation of the Universe is “bad science” because it contradicts The Bible. This is literally, of course, complete nonsense. You cannot presuppose that the Bible is 100% accurate simply because it declares itself to be, and then argue that anything that contradicts the Bible cannot possibly be accurate. There is no reason or sense to the claims of the Bible where the creation of the Universe is concerned. Take the stars. Rives, who claims to be an astronomer, also claims that all the stars we see in the Universe were created at once. And how does he know this? Because the Bible says so. It says they were all created on the fourth day. Therefore, any science that says otherwise is “bad science.” You’ve seen the pictures of the Eagle Nebula, the one that includes the famous Gaseous Pillars. Scientists (real ones) say that what you are seeing are new stars being formed. David Rives says that can’t be possible because it contradicts the Bible’s assertion that all the stars were created on one day. He says what you’re really seeing is clouds moving and revealing a star that was there all along. Go ahead, watch him say it.

Rives confront the question anyone would ask someone who claims the Earth is but six thousand years old, “How do you explain the stars being millions of light years away if the Universe is only six thousand years old?” Rives gives half an explanation for why this is. He claims that gravity affects time, therefore light moves at different speeds as it’s affected by the varying Force of Gravity throughout the Universe. Now, I would stop him right there and call “Bullshit!” And it’s not because his science is necessarily wrong or incomplete, since velocity also affects time for an object, but because he’s talking about Gravity, a concept that did not exist in the Bible. And you can’t study Astronomy if you don’t know anything about Gravity. But the Bible does not say anything about Gravity, so Gravity must be “bad science.”

You can’t make the claim that all of Science is wrong if it contradicts YOUR personal axioms. You can’t claim that no empirical proof of your axiom is possible because any result that contradicts the Bible must inherently be wrong. There are many places where the Bible contradicts itself, so it can’t possibly be taken as the unquestioned truth. Nor can any “logical proof” be derived from it that isn’t flawed because of its internal inconsistencies. Which means it cannot possibly be the truth. I wish they would learn that.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss Religion, Science, Religion v. Science, or anything else you wish to discuss.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, January 12, 2013: There’s Truth, and There’s What Some People Believe

We have a serious problem in America. Too many of our fellow countrymen believe things that are just plain demonstrably untrue. I’m not referring to religious beliefs, which presents its own set of misguided believers (did you know that over the past thirty years, Gallup polls have consistently shown that around 45% of Americans believe that God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so?), I’m talking simple facts. It sure surprised me to learn that about one in five Americans believes the Sun revolves around the Earth. I always thought that one was a “no-brainer” and I guess for those one in five, it’s true – they have no brain.

That’s not to say that intelligent people can’t believe something highly unlikely or, in the opinion of some people, highly implausible. A National Geographic poll from last year found that about 80 million Americans (about 36%) believe UFOs exist. Scientists will tell us this is highly implausible. They are certain no intelligent, sufficiently advanced life exists elsewhere in our own solar system, so any extra-terrestrial life forms must come from another star system. But because of the vast distances between stars (our nearest neighbor is roughly 25 trillion miles away), it would require faster-than-light travel to get here, and that, they claim, is scientifically impossible. FTR, I am not of this belief. I believe that vast distances can be traveled, but we just haven’t figured out a practical way to do it yet. And while I am not one of those who believes aliens crashed landed in Roswell, NM, over 65 years ago and our government covered it up, I do believe we are not alone in the universe and that it is entirely possible that we have been visited before by extra-terrestrial life. When I was a kid, my mother and sister came home from shopping saying there were three green lights in the sky that seemed to follow them home. Of course, many people perceive lights in the sky to be following them, especially when those lights are far away. I looked outside and could see them myself. To this day, I have no idea what they were, but since there were three of them, and not one, and they were much bigger than a small dot, I knew they couldn’t be the object most commonly mistaken for a flying saucer.

The good news is that while roughly 36% of Americans believe that UFOs exist, only about a fourth of that number (8%) identify themselves as Tea Party people. This is way down from April 2010 when 24% proudly called themselves Tea Party people. The things they believe make no sense at all, and what’s worse is that they’ll desperately hang onto those false beliefs no matter what we try to tell them. One of their heroes is a charlatan named David Barton. Barton is a self-professed “historian” who looks for ways to distort the historical record in an attempt to convince people that the United States of America is not a secular nation but a Christian one, not simply because three-quarters of our citizens self-identify with some form of Christianity, but because the Founding Fathers were Christians, not Deists, who wanted everybody to practice Christianity. (Which version is never made clear.) His most recent book, “The Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths You’ve Always Believed About Thomas Jefferson,” was so full of errors that the publisher withdrew the book from publication. (Barton apparently bought back all his books from there original publisher, Thomas Nelson, and then tried to pass them off as coming from Barton’s own publishing company, Wallbuilders.) Barton claims that “much of the disputed material within his book could easily be clarified if not for the editing performed by publisher Thomas Nelson. Much of the removed material, Barton argued, contained supporting information for those facts which have been questioned.” Did that deter Barton or his followers? No. One of his most ardent supporters, one who quoted him all the time and gave him a forum to spew his lies, is Glenn Beck. Beck has decided that his publishing company, Mercury Ink, will publish Barton’s book. Barton said the new edition “will not include any substantive changes, but I will rephrase some things to remove any potential confusion.” I’m pretty sure the only confusion that exists is in your own mind, David, where you believe yourself to be a legitimate historian. It doesn’t help your case that Newt Gingrich, a known distorter of facts and reality, thinks highly of your work as an historian. I also wouldn’t be proud to have Mike Huckabee, former Governor of Arkansas and presidential candidate, introduce you with comments like, “I almost wish that there would be something like a simultaneous telecast and all Americans would be forced, forced—at gunpoint, no less—to listen to every David Barton message.” Gee, I should be forced to listen to David Barton at gunpoint? And this from an ordained minister?

David Barton is just one glaring example, but there are others. Sadly, some of them walk the Halls of Congress in between writing and voting on laws that govern the entire nation. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), when asked in an interview with GQ magazine, “How old do you think the Earth is?” ducked the question and gave a lame answer which simply proved he had no idea and couldn’t be bothered to find out:

I’m not a scientist, man. I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that’s a dispute amongst theologians and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States. I think the age of the universe has zero to do with how our economy is going to grow. I’m not a scientist. I don’t think I’m qualified to answer a question like that. At the end of the day, I think there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all. I think parents should be able to teach their kids what their faith says, what science says. Whether the Earth was created in 7 days, or 7 actual eras, I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to answer that. It’s one of the great mysteries.

Rep. Paul Broun, speaking at the 2012 Sportsman’s Banquet, which was held in a church, told the crowd, “God’s word is true. I’ve come to understand that. All that stuff I was taught about evolution, embryology, the big bang theory; all of that is lies straight from the pit of hell.” The article goes on to say, “Broun, a Republican from Oconee County, is a medical doctor and running unopposed in District 10 on the November ballot. He serves on the Congressional science and technology, and homeland security committees.” A medical doctor who thinks that stuff he was taught about embryology was a lie serves on a Science committee.

Worse still is the right wing denial of climate change, which is unquestionably real and caused by human activity, something about 97% of climatologists who took part in an online surveyed confirmed. Let me try to explain this as best I can. Since the Industrial Revolution, humans have been burning a hell of a lot more coal and oil than they did before. When the coal and oil stays in the ground, the carbon within it stays in the ground with it. When you burn it, the carbon dioxide goes up into the atmosphere and eventually comes down into the Earth’s oceans. Carbon dioxide holds heat very well (which is why it’s called a greenhouse gas), and this means the Earth’s oceans are warmer. When storms form out over the ocean, they get energy from warm waters, so as they pass over warmer waters, the storms tends to pick up in intensity. This is what produces those intense summer and winter storms we’ve been seeing in recent years. It’s not that climate change is causing the storms (which is one way right wing climate change deniers distort the facts), it’s that climate change is making the storms we get stronger. Climate change is one reason why Hurricane Sandy was so devastating. But having climate change deniers sit on Congressional committees that deal with Science is a recipe for a nation ill prepared to deal with the effects of climate change, which include rising sea levels that threaten everybody who lives on the coasts. It’s almost as if these people equate having an opinion with having a valid opinion. Science, and reality, don’t work that way.

So what can we do? I don’t know. The challenge we face is that telling people the truth doesn’t seem to work, especially when it comes to political matters (which ought to be based on facts and science). Social psychologist Jonathan Haidt (whose great paper “What Makes People Vote Republican?” I highly recommend) said in a recent interview

Political views aren’t like views about factual matters. If you believe that it’s faster to drive to the airport than take mass transit, and I give you evidence that mass transit is faster, there’s a good chance that I’ll change your mind, because your goal is actually to get to the airport more quickly. With political and moral questions, our goal isn’t “the truth.” That’s why it’s always vital to bear in mind the importance of group membership when trying to understand political differences. Political beliefs act as badges of membership, badges that say who we are and give us a sense of meaning and purpose. They’re badges that we display to show our moral character. So simply refuting someone’s views about global warming or needle-exchange programs or abortion or anything else will have little effect, because people aren’t going to betray their team because you show them evidence that they’re wrong.

The only solution I see is to not vote for Republicans until they start accepting that Reality is not what you decide it is, but what it actually is, no matter how much it contradicts what you would like it to be.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss Reality, climate change, Republican refusal to accept facts, or any other you choose. Just don’t lie to me.

The Watering Hole – Saturday, August 25, 2012 – Keep the Kids Out of This

Bill Nye, the Science Guy (@TheScienceGuy), has a video out called “Creationism Is Not Appropriate For Children.” It was put out for BigThink.com. This week’s hat tip goes to LGF.:

Denial of evolution is unique to the United States. I mean, we’re the world’s most advanced technological—I mean, you could say Japan—but generally, the United States is where most of the innovations still happens. People still move to the United States. And that’s largely because of the intellectual capital we have, the general understanding of science. When you have a portion of the population that doesn’t believe in that, it holds everybody back, really.

Evolution is the fundamental idea in all of life science, in all of biology. It’s like, it’s very much analogous to trying to do geology without believing in tectonic plates. You’re just not going to get the right answer. Your whole world is just going to be a mystery instead of an exciting place.

As my old professor, Carl Sagan, said, “When you’re in love you want to tell the world.” So, once in a while I get people that really—or that claim—they don’t believe in evolution. And my response generally is “Well, why not? Really, why not?” Your world just becomes fantastically complicated when you don’t believe in evolution. I mean, here are these ancient dinosaur bones or fossils, here is radioactivity, here are distant stars that are just like our star but they’re at a different point in their lifecycle. The idea of deep time, of this billions of years, explains so much of the world around us. If you try to ignore that, your world view just becomes crazy, just untenable, itself inconsistent.

And I say to the grownups, if you want to deny evolution and live in your world, in your world that’s completely inconsistent with everything we observe in the universe, that’s fine, but don’t make your kids do it because we need them. We need scientifically literate voters and taxpayers for the future. We need people that can—we need engineers that can build stuff, solve problems.

It’s just really hard a thing, it’s really a hard thing. You know, in another couple of centuries that world view, I’m sure, will be, it just won’t exist. There’s no evidence for it.

Directed / Produced by
Elizabeth Rodd and Jonathan Fowler [via LGF]

It wasn’t a belief in Creationism that gave this nation a reputation for being the best and richest country, that expanded it through the Industrial Revolution, that built the Interstate Highway System, that had twelve of its citizens walk on the surface of the Moon or that landed a nuclear-powered probe on the surface of Mars and broadcast pictures and other data back. It was a belief in Science that did all that, and without it, we would be no better off than those that live in deeply religious Third World countries.

If you have a child that really wants to study Science and Math, encourage him or her to do so. It’s not just our nation that needs more scientists, it’s the world. We are all in this together. The world’s climate problems are not going to be solved in such a way that we in the United States live and everyone else fends for themselves. Global problems require global solutions and global participation.

One of the biggest dangers to our country lies in our political system. We are a two-major-party country, and one of the two major parties simply does not believe in Science. Nor have they bothered to educate themselves on the subject and insist on just flat-out denying the inescapable conclusions of the men and women who have actually studied these things whenever they don’t like the results, as if Scientific Consensus meant whatever the uneducated-in-Science people thought was true. That’s not how Science works. A Scientific Consensus is the conclusion arrived at by Scientists, not the public. And not the Republican Party.

This is our open thread. Feel free to discuss any topic you want.

[Cross-posted at Pick Wayne’s Brain.]

Watering Hole: Monday, December 12, 2011 – A Creation Story

The fundamentalist Christians want creationism taught in school.  Now, I don’t have a problem teaching their story of creation as long as it is not part of a science class because creationism isn’t science.  If creationism is part of a social studies curriculum along with other stories of creation, than I feel it is perfectly fine to teach it.  Most cultures have stories about how it all began.  Here’s one that I would like to share.

The Native Americans of the Northwest give power to animals, especially to Raven.  No, this is not our Raven but Raven who brought the sun, the stars, and the moon to our dark planet.

No one knows just how the story of Raven really begins, so each starts from the point where he does know it. Here it was always begun in this way. Raven was first called Kit-ka’ositiyi-qa-yit (“Son of Kit-ka’ositiyi-qa”). When his son was born, Kit-ka’ositiyi-qa tried to instruct him and train him in every way and, after he grew up, told him he would give him strength to make a world. After trying in all sorts of ways, Raven finally succeeded. Then there was no light in this world, but it was told him that far up the Nass was a large house in which some one kept light just for himself.

Raven thought over all kinds of plans for getting this light into the world and finally he hit on a good one. The rich man living there had a daughter, and he thought, “I will make myself very small and drop into the water in the form of a small piece of dirt.” The girl swallowed this dirt and became pregnant. When her time was completed, they made a hole for her, as was customary, in which she was to bring forth, and lined it with rich furs of all sorts. But the child did not wish to be born on those fine things. Then its grandfather felt sad and said, “What do you think it would be best to put into that hole? Shall we put in moss?” So they put moss inside and the baby was born on it. Its eyes were very bright and moved around rapidly.

What I find interesting in this story is the “virgin birth” of Raven.  The story goes on to tell how Raven, the beloved grandson cons the rich man into giving him the boxes that hold the sun, the stars and the moon.  Once Raven has possession of these boxes, he opens them and releases the light into the sky and our planet is no longer in darkness.  You can read the complete story here.

Sometimes Raven sounds like a scoundrel and at other times, he does what is needed to be done.  To the Tlingit, there is no good and there is no evil.  It is just the way it is.

This is our Open Thread.  Speak Up and tell it like it is.