“Evolution 101” - Understanding evolution for the layperson in Kansas

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Kansas Citizens for Science announces a class we are co-sponsoring with the Shawnee Mission Universalist Unitarian Church in Shawnee Mission, Kansas, entitled “Evolution 101 – Understanding Evolution for the Layperson.” On April 6 and 13, for two hours each, I will make a presentation and then lead a structured discussion on the core elements of the theory of evolution: in respect to the diversity of life on earth, what has happened, why, and how do we know?

You can read the full announcement at our new weblog, KCFS News at http://www.kcfs.org/kcfsnews/.

In part, the announcement says,

“Evolution 101” will use the excellent website Understanding Evolution at the University of California Museum of Paleontology as a guide and resource for the course. We encourage everyone, whether you intend to attend the classes or not, to browse Understanding Evolution for Teachers at http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evosi[…]evohome.html.

“Evolution 101” will focus on mainstream science: in respect to the diversity of life on earth, what does the theory of evolution say has happened, why, and how do we know? Each class session will begin with a presentation, but there will be plenty of opportunity for facilitated discussion at the end of each class. In addition, KCFS will host an online discussion forum for class participants for further discussion during the periods between events.

The course will not focus on objections to evolution held by advocates of young-earth or Intelligent Design creationism, nor on the Kansas Science Standards issue. Some time will be provided at the end of each class for questions on these issues, but the main portion of each class will stay on the topic of the mainstream science of evolution.

Of course I don’t expect many Panda Thumbers to be able to attend, but here’s the point I’d like to make for discussion’s sake: this course is not intended to debate creationism or talk politics. It’s intended to help the average person who accepts evolution understand it better.

Of course, the creationism issues will comes up – both the scientific ones (what about those transitional fossils?) and also the metaphysical ones (can you accept evolution and God?), and there will be time set aside at the end of each session for more open discussion on these issues. But the focus will be on mainstream science: instead of being on the defensive, forever battling creationist misconceptions, at least in this course we hope to be proactive by educating people about evolution.

We are hoping this program will develop some materials and be a model that others can use. We will post materials from the course, and at least an audio recording of the sessions, at a later time.

Note that the announcement also describes the other two events that will accompany the Evolution 101 course: a lecture and discussion by Dr. Dick Wilson, former Biology Department Chair at Rockhurst University, entitled “Creationism vs. Evolution: Sorting out Religion from Science”, and special tour of the “Exploring Evolution” exhibit at the Kansas Museum of Natural History led by museum director Dr. Leonard Krishtalka.

Many thanks to Dale Trott and Rev. Thom Belote of Shawnee Mission Universalist Unitarian Church for conceiving and organizing these event.

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Jack Krebs is crowing about a class on Darwinian dogma put on in conjunction with the Unitarian Universalist “Church”. He plans on preaching to the choir. The Universalist Unitarian Church is composed of (multiple answers were allowed in... Read More

92 Comments

This is a great idea.

Downloading big audio files is not possible in all countries, or just too slow to be worth it. Could someone please get this in small (text) electronic format for distribution?

From my own experience, most people do not know what evolution really is. If we could have a simple document explaining it, I thing it would go a long way to remove misconceptions that has been widely circulated by creationists. Also, focus on the “proof” we have for the various areas. Even just mentioning some transitional fossils would be good. Mention VitC gene as a sample of genetic proof. It just needs to be simple.

Anyway, I think it is a really great idea and perhaps long overdue.

Sounds like a great idea. Wish I lived close enough to attend.

Good luck with it.

So I see Uncommon Descent linked to this post in order to mock the Unitarian Universalist Church as not being Christian enough.

I’m confused… wasn’t Intelligent Design supposed to be a scientific theory?

“It’s intended to help the average person who accepts evolution understand it better [says Jack Krebs]. In other words he’s preaching to the choir. I mean literally preaching the pseudo-religious Darwinian dogma in conjunction with a pseudo-religious church to people who already have psuedo-religious faith in the Darwinian narrative but hope to find a rational basis for their Darwinian pseudo-religion.”

It is interesting how ‘anti-evolutionists’ can pick up on what would otherwise be a throw-away line and read vastly more into it than what was intended. I thought about pointing this out to DaveScot but I couldn’t be bothered registering at Uncommon Descent. I figure they’ll read this anyway. Hey DaveScot, Jack didn’t say that people who don’t accept Darwinism CAN NOT come!

Besides, is there anything wrong with people who accept evolution further developing their understanding of the theory? I’ve read the online course that Jack will be presenting. I was very impressed by the concise way in which it explains the key components of evolutionary theory and why they exist. It is certainly not an evangelical promotion of Darwinism. This will give people in Kansas a chance to assess evolutionary theories and decide for themselves how valid they are. Surely that is preferable to them just trusting scientists and blindly accepting evolution to be true? Why doesn’t some one produce a similar online course on ID?

Why is faith so much more compelling, to so many, than fact? Seems like such an indefensible waste.

So I see Uncommon Descent linked to this post in order to mock the Unitarian Universalist Church as not being Christian enough.

This is hardly going to rile up UUs. There’s no doctrine that requires a member of a UU fellowship to identify as Christian or, in fact, to hold any supernatural beliefs at all. I’ve met Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, deist, atheist, agnostic, and pagan UUs. (I’m a sporadic UU myself, currently on hiatus; I’ve described my own beliefs as “naturalist with a bit of humanist”, but that’s another story.)

http://www.uuworld.org/spirit/artic[…]ve2385.shtml

http://bob.swe.uni-linz.ac.at/EUU/K[…]/belief.html

So I see Uncommon Descent linked to this post in order to mock the Unitarian Universalist Church as not being Christian enough.

Indeed. Meanwhile, they have a trackback on another thread accusing PT of “mocking the religion of 8 of 10 Americans”. Rustic irony.

Trackback: Another Boner from the Church Burners Posted by Uncommon Descent on March 27, 2006 10:31 PM

Last month the big joke was three college kids torching 9 churches in Alabama. This month it’s making a mockery of the religion of 8 of 10 Americans. The bungling political ineptitude of the Darwin worshippers is just incredible. They’re…

Is DaveScot a paid double agent for Darwin?

The Universalist Unitarian Church is composed of (multiple answers were allowed in the survey so it adds up over 100%)

humanist (54%) agnostic (33%) earth-centered (31%) atheist (18%) Buddhist (17%) pagan (13%) Christian (13%)

You can believe anything or nothing in this so-called “church”. What a coup for Jack Krebs and Kansas Citizens for Science to have the backing of a local UUC congregation. We should start worrying now I guess.

So evolution, like UU affiliation, requires no particular theological beliefs and is compatible with all sorts of faith positions. And, from the point of view of the ID supporter, this is apparently a bad thing. That’s about as clear an admission as you can get that evolutionary theory is science, but ID is religion. Thanks, Dave!

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Excellent statement by Anton Mates.

And zero, your post has been moved here, as it was not related to my post and was pretty much spam.

Honestly, the UUs are NOT “Christian enough”, whatever that phrase means. I remember attending a UU service in which a UU minister was walking on eggs just by ~~mentioning~~ the word “sin” in her sermon.

You don’t go to a UU service to get closer to Jesus and gain a more trusting attitude towards Him and His Scriptures…nope nope nope. Forget it, mamacita.

Having said that, however, Jack Krebs is entirely on the right track in taking his message to the UUs or any church that will listen. I remember a YEC pastor in Kansas, Glenn Kaillor, who despite physical sickness and handicaps and not much money, did a positively great job of that kind of thing on behalf of the YECs in Kansas.

Plenty of opportunities. I’ve only done one class, which the church I attend graciously allowed me to do, but it’s a wide open field, and every bit as important as what’s happening with school boards and schools.

If Non Darwinists can get with the program and really fight to win in the churches and campus Christian groups (both high school and college) I bet the overall public policy and educational battles would be much easier to win over time. The real battle is actually not in the courts, but within the churches.

Jack’s just doing what Non-Darwinists have already been doing, are still doing, AND need to do a lot more of. Can’t fault the man for that.

FL

FL said “You don’t go to a UU service to get closer to Jesus and gain a more trusting attitude towards Him and His Scriptures…nope nope nope. Forget it, mamacita.”

I have been a UU for 7 years and I have heard many sermons and presentations in our church on the value of the teachings of Jesus. I feel that I have a better appreciation and trusting attitude toward his teachings than I did as a member of a mainstream Christan church many years ago. I am getting really tired of people who know nothing about UU making such blanket statements. Read the UU principles and tell me if they are not compatible with the pronouncements in the Sermon on the Mount or any number of Christian teachings. We are open to valid spiritual insights from many sources - including Christianity.

Maybe churches are a good place to teach people about evolution for another good reason - their histories illustrate some of darwin’s important ideas

Descent with Modification ( how today’s church is different from the church one’s ancestors attended);

Common Descent ( today’s churches descend from a common origin circa 2000 years ago);

Allopatric Speciation ( the National churches in England and elswehere)

That’s a fantastic idea!! It’s a shame it isn’t practical to have a lot more of this done. Lack of understanding of what exactly evolution is is one of our biggest problems.

FL makes it sound like UU is christianity minus the vile parts.

Sign me up.

Re. Brian:What the YECer will say is:If you can’t treat Genesis 1-11 as literal truth then how can you believe John 3:16. Every-time I tell a fellow christian that I accept science and evolution this is what I get thrown back in my face. My view is that Genesis can be treated as a parable and still not loose it’s spiritual meaning. YECers seem to forget that many great Evangelists like C.S.Lewis,B.B.Warfield or Charles Hodge accepted science and evolution as well.

In relation to my statement on the age of the Earth I’ve just heard Tom Vail state, on British television, that “If you take away millions of years then their(the evolutionists) deck of cards will come tumbling down. If the Earth is only a few thousand years old then evolution could not have happened”

It seems to me that in order to be “saved” an increasing number of evangelicals now seem to insist on belief in a young Earth as well. In my opinion the YECers will ultimately damage the church.

I would like to also suggest a public class on geocentrism, if possible.

My family attended a UU church in Memphis for many years while I was young. I remember it as being a terrific organization of compassionate, intelligent people who gave a tremendous amount to the community. Sadly, we moved when I was a teenager to another state, and the area where we lived was vastly populated by ultra-conservative, non-believers are evil kind of churches. My family was turned off, and we stopped going to church altogether. That was a shame, as I think if we had found a comparable UU church it would have been a great way for community involvement.

I find DaveScot’s ignorant words on the matter not just eye-rollingly stupid, but, as has been pointed out, hilariously ironic, given the protestations that ID is scientific, not religious. If it’s about science, what does it matter if the UU isn’t “Christian” enough for your tastes?

Beyond that, the snyde comments about Kreb’s event in general are puzzling. ID advocates routinely give lectures and speeches to their “choirs.” Why should the pro-science crowd not be allowed to do the same thing?

I’m a pretty hard-core atheist, in fact along with Hitchens I consider my self more an antitheist than an atheist, but you guys are making UU sound pretty good actually.

“If you can’t treat Genesis 1-11 as literal truth then how can you believe John 3:16.”

Considering not a single person actually believes every word of the Bible is literally true, I find this belief puzzling. Just corner a “literalist” on some of the Biblical statements on science/history that are clearly not true, and they’ll dodge saying it’s not meant to be taken literally. Ask them to reconcile the Gospel accounts of what happened after Jesus’s death, and they’ll plead that the criticism is too literal, and we have to take into account a “different way of writing” or something like that.

So, why can’t the same be said for Genesis accounts?

“I’m a pretty hard-core atheist, in fact along with Hitchens I consider my self more an antitheist than an atheist, but you guys are making UU sound pretty good actually.”

It varies greatly from church to church. They aren’t as standardized as, say, the Catholic church. I remember attending a small UU church a few years back that was very New Age, “Power Crystal” and mystical mumbo-jumbo oriented. Really, it looked like a bunch of kooks and aged hippies.

Peter, I think you’re right, though it seems to me the YECs have already damaged the church.

I’m puzzled by that literalist interpretation thing too. We KNOW the Earth isn’t flat. We KNOW that rabbits don’t chew the cud. Similarly, we know the Earth wasn’t created in six 24-hour days. Someone blogged recently that What’s wrong with accepting Genesis as God’s way of explaining to a prescientific, nontechnological society where they came from?

Posted by moakley on March 28, 2006 07:46 AM (e)

“Why is faith so much more compelling, to so many, than fact? Seems like such an indefensible waste.”

Because “faith” requires no work. Thinking for yourself requires work, but all faith requires is thinking and doing what someone else tells you to think and do.

I’ve never understand why anyone considers “faith” to be a virtue.

Lynn

What’s wrong with accepting Genesis as God’s way of explaining to a prescientific, nontechnological society where they came from?

For starters, the existence of “God” hasn’t been established.

Oh sorry, you probably were addressing that question to believers who assume God’s existence.

Well, I certainly don’t mean to insult you, Brian, and I indeed took time to read the UU principles (and any other printed UU material I could get my hands on, including their UU songbook) while doing several (not just one, but several) visits to the UU church.

And I could point you to a few UU individuals who (most likely like yourself) are indeed worthwhile getting to know on an individual level.

But having said that, there’s no use sugarcoating this stuff. Stated simply, it’s precisely because I spent some serious time and effort getting to know you folks up close and personal, that I said what I said.

I don’t look for your agreement on what I said, but I believe that you must have some idea what I am talking about.

Permission to speak freely? UU church services and principles, from what I have experienced and studied, are just plain locked into:

(1) …Abandoning the authority and trustworthiness (both historical and doctrinal) of the Bible. (2) …Abandoning the authority and trustworthiness (and infinite transformative power) of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. (3) …Abandoning the plain ole acknowledgement and worship and praise of an all-powerful, all-loving, all-holy Creator God, to whom humans are accountable, and to whom humans can get personally hooked up to via Jesus.

This is not an attack upon you. But it is just what I have seen, heard, and read. And it’s ~this~ kind of spiritual seedbed that makes UU the perfect place to do an Evolution 101 class, honestly.

Where else, where BETTER, to start spreading St. Darwin’s Gospel among the churches?

************** Oh sure, sure, nobody amongs the UU’s minded quoting Jesus as long it was those nice safe little quotations like “Love Thy Neighbor.”

Shoot, I know of NOBODY anywhere (even other religions) who isn’t willing to tolerate at least a few nice safe Jesus quotes from here and there, including from the Sermon on the Mount. Goodness!

But what about those heavy-metal risk-taker Jesus quotes like “You must be born again” or “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and nobody comes to the Father but through Me”?

Oh no, the UU’s don’t dare talk like that, mm-mmmm.

I was watching some of their faces when the lady UU minister briefly, carefully, tactfully, gingerly talked for a single moment as if the concept of sin–the traditional Biblical concept of sin–might somehow yet be a reality in today’s world. Their faces weren’t a smilin’, believe me!

************

Now, since UU’s doesn’t have ANY bedrock set of beliefs common to them (Please note that even the UU Principles are optional), it’s always possible that you, Brian, may attend a UU church that takes the Bible a little more seriously in some areas.

(The lady UU minister told me that the UU’s back East are a little more conservative. Maybe you are among them.)

But if I were to ask if you and your particular church and clergy believes Jesus to be correct when He said what he said in John 3:16-18, I think I know what your answer would be. I’d welcome being wrong about that, but we ARE talking UU here.

So it’s back to the bottom line again:

Getting hooked up to Jesus, and trusting and walking in God’s Word (not just a tiny piece here and there, but ALL of the Scriptures) as a committed born-again disciple of Jesus, is just plain NOT where the UU principles–or their churches or clergy–are at.

If I am incorrect about this assessment, talk to me and show me; I want to hear it.

**************

Meanwhile, that brings us back to the UU’s as the natural launch point for evolutionary evangelism.

If I were an evolutionist wanting to spread the Gospel of St. Darwin in the churches, the first stop on the tour would logically HAVE to be a Unitarian church. Ye perfect fit.

Why? Because the simple fact is that the historical claims of the Bible regarding the origin of humanity are in TOTAL disagreement with the historical claims of naturalistic evolution regarding the origin of humanity.

Again, the fact is that the evolutionists’ textbook-taught total denial of teleology will NEVER be compatible with a Bible and a Christianity whose God is teleological (especially where humans are created and concerned) from start to finish, literally from Genesis to Revelation. Therefore any religion whose members largely and clearly reject the historical and doctrinal claims of the Bible in the first place, would naturally form a fresh launching pad for an Evolution 101-type course or courses.

And with many or most UU’s already be on the outs with the Bible and Christianity (and also on the outs with the traditional churches they left behind) well, what more can you say? Evolution 101, here we come!

FL

Are the Anglicans and Catholics also “not Christian enough,” since they officially reject ID Creationism and embrace evolution?

I agree Leon. There are also many other statements in the bible that obviously cannot be true. eg: Bats are birds (Leviticus) or the brain is in the heart etc. I reckon a lot of the so-called science in the bible is what people’s perception of the Earth and the Universe (or what they thought was the Universe) was at that time. I think science has moved on considerably since then. Even in the last 100 years our view of things has changed a lot. Which is why a history lesson on why we believe what we know and how we came to those conclusions would be useful. When a YECer says something like “radiometric dating methods are just based on assumptions” I wonder how many people could answer that one and tell them why they are wrong ?

Ask them to reconcile the Gospel accounts of what happened after Jesus’s death, and they’ll plead that the criticism is too literal, and we have to take into account a “different way of writing” or something like that.

Depends on who you’re talking to. In the case of “the Gospel accounts of what happened after Jesus’ death”, I know that I would NOT “plead that the criticism is too literal.”

Instead, I would simply direct you to the Christian scholarship where your concern has been addressed and worked out, and then leave it up to you to examine and reflect on the plausible reconciliations already on the table, at your convenience.

One source would be the late Dr. Gleason Archer’s Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties; he’s got a nicely written reconciliation in there.

Another source is Christian Thinktank’s Glenn Miller. His discussion is here:

http://www.christian-thinktank.com/ordorise.html

A third source would be Answering-Islam.org. (They’ve had to deal with this issue too, it seems.)

http://www.answering-islam.org/Andy[…]harmony.html

***********

Anyway, give ‘em a read sometime.

FL

this is like that far side cartoon.

what FL says:

Permission to speak freely? UU church services and principles, from what I have experienced and studied, are just plain locked into:

(1) …Abandoning the authority and trustworthiness (both historical and doctrinal) of the Bible. … But what about those heavy-metal risk-taker Jesus quotes like “You must be born again” or “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and nobody comes to the Father but through Me”?

Oh no, the UU’s don’t dare talk like that, mm-mmmm.

I was watching some of their faces when the lady UU minister briefly, carefully, tactfully, gingerly talked for a single moment as if the concept of sin—the traditional Biblical concept of sin—might somehow yet be a reality in today’s world. Their faces weren’t a smilin’, believe me!

What Steve hears:

blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blahblah blah blahblah blah blah blah UU is awesome blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blahblah blah blah blah blah blah blah UU’s are smart people blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.“

Oh for heaven’s sake! No one, absolutely no one, “worships” Darwin. He is regarded among the scientific community, and thinkers everywhere, as the discover of evolution (and I really think that we should emphasize that he was the first to discover that evolution had occurred, rather than simply inventing it). He proposed a mechanism for it which was at least partly correct. But above all he was the first to see the true inter-relatedness of all living things. Having seen this vision, and knowing that it works practically as a scientific tool, we can never unsee it again, or pretend that we really were created from mud and dust about 6000 years ago - an estimate based entirely on counting the names in the bible! But he was just a man, not a god, or even a prophet, and he was not infallible. His books do contian some errors. They are as good as you can get if you do not have the benefit of modern knowledge about genetics, microbiology, or DNA, to name but three fields which add to the evidence and fit entirely into the picture. We don’t worship Darwin: we revere him as one of the greatesst thinkers of all time. He gave us knowledge, not faith. And this is something you religious anti-evolutionsists simply cannot understand.

I agree with Lenny that the question he is asking is a good one, and he is persistent in asking it of multiple people. But I don’t think continuing to ask this of the same person is appropriate when that person has made it clear that he is discussing other things and not the question asked.

Oh, I don’t expect him to answer at all. (shrug)

Which is, of course, a quite eloquent answer all by itself.

I’ve managed to save up roughly $66561 in my bank account, but I’m not sure if I should buy a house or not. Do you think the market is stable or do you think that home prices will decrease by a lot?

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This page contains a single entry by Jack Krebs published on March 27, 2006 11:39 PM.

Discovery’s Crowther: Spaghetti Monster Gets More Attention than ID’s “Robust” Scientific Research Program was the previous entry in this blog.

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