Wednesday, 4 June 2008

if natural selection exists, why are these people still around?

This quote from the New York Times made me snort (emphasis mine):

Opponents of teaching evolution, in a natural selection of sorts, have gradually shed those strategies that have not survived the courts.

It's the opening sentence from an article titled Opponents of Evolution Adopting a New Strategy, pointing to a new round of discussions in the “evolution debate” - which in my humble opinion isn't (a debate, that is).

Starting this summer, the [Texas] state education board will determine the curriculum for the next decade and decide whether the “strengths and weaknesses” of evolution should be taught. The benign-sounding phrase, some argue, is a reasonable effort at balance. But critics say it is a new strategy taking shape across the nation to undermine the teaching of evolution, a way for students to hear religious objections under the heading of scientific discourse.

This is an important decision, because Texas buys a lot of textbooks and if the intelligent design camp wins, those books might find their way into schools elsewhere too.

The chairman of the state education board, Dr. Don McLeroy, a dentist in Central Texas, denies that the phrase “is subterfuge for bringing in creationism.” (He) sees the debate as being between “two systems of science.”

“You’ve got a creationist system and a naturalist system," he said.

Dr. McLeroy believes that Earth’s appearance is a recent geologic event — thousands of years old, not 4.5 billion. “I believe a lot of incredible things,” he said, “The most incredible thing I believe is the Christmas story. That little baby born in the manger was the god that created the universe.”

But Dr. McLeroy says his rejection of evolution — “I just don’t think it’s true or it’s ever happened” — is not based on religious grounds. Courts have clearly ruled that teachings of faith are not allowed in a science classroom, but when he considers the case for evolution, Dr. McLeroy said, “it’s just not there.”

“My personal religious beliefs are going to make no difference in how well our students are going to learn science,” he said.

I would like to comment, but I simply can't get my head around this. The author helpfully added a little explanation about why evolution theory isn't just a theory:

Evolution as a principle is not disputed in the scientific mainstream, where the term “theory” does not mean a hunch, but an explanation backed by abundant observation, and where gaps in knowledge are not seen as grounds for doubt but points for future understanding. Over time, research has strengthened the basic tenets of evolution, especially as advances in molecular genetics have allowed biologists to read the history recorded in the DNA of animals and plants.

1 comment:

Stash said...

Consider that our Constitution enshrined the principle that a slave was worth three-fifths of a person for purposes of representation for close to a century before we rejected that notion.

Once you take that into account, the notion that crazy people exist shouldn't be surprising.