Florida Standards: The real issue revealed

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David Gibbs III has released a second document which was sent to the Florida State Board of Eduction ‘suggesting’ that teaching evolutionary theory would have a negative impact on religious faith and thus would violate the establishment clause.

More on the document later since it presents some claims from Kenneth Miller’s book which I feel are taken out of context.

Ponder carefully that these three evolutionary scientists have summarized the dangerous educational outcomes if Evolution, as a fact, is allowed to become the “fundamental concept” by which all of life is interpreted and understood. It will demand that the concept of “God” be banished from the mind and replaced by atheism; It will displace any idea that there is purpose for man except to discover what it means to be human; It will demonstrate that other species of animal life have as much value and right as man; and it will require a mind devoid of biblical theism—devoid of any concept of God.

As reported by Florida Citizens for science, Becky Steele from the ACLU had responded to a similar argument proposed by Gibbs and Francis Grubbs in an earlier memo sent to the SBOE.

”A representative from the ACLU puts Gibbs in his place:“He claims that teaching science, based on well-accepted theories backed by factual evidence, is somehow promoting a particular religion in public school,” [Becky Steele] told The Gradebook in an email. “To see how cockamamie that is, imagine them arguing that the Establishment Clause would be violated by teaching a calculus class that only expresses the ‘worldview’ of mathematics without any sense of the divine.”

Source: Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Darwinism? Gradebook Jan 14, 2008

Well said.

As reported by the Gradebook the cc list shows an interesting focus on known doubters on the State Board of Education as well as Republican law makers.

The letter is cc’d to state Sen. Daniel Webster, R-Orlando; state Sen. Ronda Storms, R-Valrico; BOE member Donna Callaway; and Terry Kemple, a Christian community activist in Brandon.

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Dr. Peter Lipson (”PalMD”), a stellar science blogger and a fine human being, has recently critiqued a fellow ScienceBlogs member for supporting faith-based initiatives (FBIs) or, more accurately, for supporting Barack Obama’s recent ... Read More

35 Comments

Mr. Gibbs commits is exactly the thing that many religious people says that atheist does, that is the inability of perceiving the metaphysical. To Mr. Gibbs, God is not metaphysical, nor even particularly spiritual, but immenently physical. he can’t conceive of anything but a physical god. So if god’s physical agency is denied then everything crushes down, including his entire value system. Paty of that physical agency is god’s ability to coerse good behavior, without coersion entire ediface of his morality crushes down. So physicality, coersion and purpose is all tied together in his world view, he can’t imaging anything else. So to him evolution is indeed Evil with capital E.

Another thing what greater purpose then to know what it is to be human, the ultimate journey inward. Purhaps that is another thing Mr Gibbs lacks, introspection.

Finally what greater since belonging then to know all creatures are equal in value and rights.

Mr. Gibbs commits is exactly the thing that many religious people says that atheist does, that is the inability of perceiving the metaphysical. To Mr. Gibbs, God is not metaphysical, nor even particularly spiritual, but immenently physical. he can’t conceive of anything but a physical god. So if god’s physical agency is denied then everything crushes down, including his entire value system. Paty of that physical agency is god’s ability to coerse good behavior, without coersion entire ediface of his morality crushes down. So physicality, coersion and purpose is all tied together in his world view, he can’t imaging anything else. So to him evolution is indeed Evil with capital E.

Another thing what greater purpose then to know what it is to be human, the ultimate journey inward. Purhaps that is another thing Mr Gibbs lacks, introspection.

Finally what greater since belonging then to know all creatures are equal in value and rights.

More on the document later since it presents some claims from Kenneth Miller’s book which I feel are taken out of context.

*sigh*

nothing from Collins’ book in that?

be very careful how you handle that, Pim, or you’re just as likely to give them more fuel.

I like the “perceiving the metaphysical” bit, it makes a lot of sense and you said in 4 lines what used to take me 8 pages to. So I’m going to steal that quote and run with it :P seriously, thanks.

Dr. Grubbs wrote, “Forcing the student to see all of life philosophically from one undefined and unexplained philosophical worldview—a worldview that affirms there is no god…”

The Scientific Worldview is not atheistic. The hypothesis that an intelligent designer (i.e., God) designed and created the universe cannot be proved or disproved by scientists. Richard Dawkins puts the probability that God exists at 1 percent. Assigning a probability to the existence of God is as much as scientists can do at present.

Science does not refute the existence of God. Contrary to Dr. Grubbs’ assertion, the Scientific Worldview does NOT affirm that “there is no god.”

“To see how cockamamie that is, imagine them arguing that the Establishment Clause would be violated by teaching a calculus class that only expresses the ‘worldview’ of mathematics without any sense of the divine.”

Well …

Bob Jones University Press: “Who needs a Christian math book? You do.”

… “2 + 2 equals 4 whether you’re a Christian or not,” right? To most people that phrase sums up their belief that in certain areas there need be no difference between a Christian textbook and a non-Christian one. But what 2 + 2 equals is only a tiny piece of math. Far more important questions in math would be “Why does 2 + 2 = 4” or “Why does it matter?” Questions like those are the stuff of a worldview, something all textbooks – even math ones – communicate, and those questions will be answered differently by different worldviews.

www.hightestscores.com/christian-textbooks/christian-math.htm

Cockamamie is as cockamamie does.

I’m assuming that Dawkins silly probability calculation was in the God delusion? There was a reason we tried to stop mixing scientific methods with religious inquiry. This reminds me of my son trying to put probabilities on events. Just kind of picking numbers out of the air. And given that in the realm of the divine all things are theoretically possible you can’t really put numbers on it anymore than you can use it to rigorsly interpret the natural world.

Re David Gibbs III

This is the same Mr. Gibbs who represented the Schlinders in the Terri Schiavo case and submitted any number of garbage proffers (all totally discredited by the autopsy performed on Ms. Schiavo) to poor Judge Greer who had to wade through them. This is also the same Mr. Gibbs who is representing the whackjob Nathanial Abraham in his frivolous lawsuit against the Woods Hole Laboratory. Thus, it is not unexpected that such a nonsensical document would be submitted by such a nutcase lawyer in the ongoing Florida Educational Standards case.

Debate at Stanford Jan 27 2008

Noted evolutionary biologist Christopher Hitchens has been invited to debate “Atheism vs. Theism & the Scientific Evidence for Intelligent Design” against Jay W. Richards of the Discovery Institute. I’m sure there must be a typo in the title, since we all know that ID has nothing whatsoever to do with religion. Hosts of the event are the IDEA Club at Stanford, The Stanford Review and Vox Clara: A Journal of Christian Thought at Stanford.

Let’s hope that no one notices that certain aspects of cosmology and astronomy threaten the worldview that it’s turtles all the way down, otherwise we won’t be able to teach those subjects anymore either.

Gee, I wonder if anything in modern science threatens the FSM worldview? Come to think of it, any other form of religion would threaten that worldview, so I guess we will have to ban all other religions once the FSM has been confirmed by someone perceiving the metaphysical.

Same old shell game:

1. Try to show that evolution is not well supported by evidence, and that there are alternatives that are strictly scientific, not religious. 2. When that fails, try to show that evolution is religious. 3. When that fails, go to 1.

The point is not necessarily to win, but to keep the game going. Committed fundmentalists do not need the game, and those who know more than a bit about evolution know that it’s nonsense. But a large segment of the remaining population likes to hear that scientists are either “protecting a failed theory,” “pushing a religious agenda,” or both. And they won’t bother to find out if it’s true or not.

Christopher Hitchens is not a noted evolutionary biologist.

He’s a contributing editor to Vanity Fair; visiting professor, New School in New York; author of God is Not Great

Christopher Hitchens is not a noted evolutionary biologist.

Oh c’mon now, why would they invite a VF editor and famous atheist to discuss scientific evidence for a scientific theory? Surely this must be some other Christopher Hitchens.

David Gibbs is a religious extremist and a bit of a loon. He files a lot of weak and frivolous cases just on the hope that he might get lucky someday.

He usually loses. In this case the creos are pushing their usual centuries old lies. Science is atheist, evolution is a religion and so on.

Bunch of dumb hypocrits. If it wasn’t for science, they wouldn’t be filing bogus lawsuits. They would be fighting a cave bear for a place to live, fighting with lions over dinner, and wondering why half their kids die before 5. Somebody should remind the Florida State Board of Education that science has contributed a bit to our society. Like the fact that it even exists.

Is it just me, or are there in Mr. Gibbs tirade echoes of the Pythagoreans seeking to conceal from the unwashed masses the true nature of pi?

Does Mr Gibbs want to extend the same protection to the Thor and Zeus believing Floridians against the teaching of meteorology in earth science? If Satan causes disease, is the germ theory his next target?

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Gibbs’ argument is a fine example of holding to the false dichotomy that Judge Jones blasted the ID camp for in Kitzmiller. At least we now have it on record and in no uncertain terms what their motivation is.

David Gibbs III has released a second document which was sent to the Florida State Board of Eduction ‘suggesting’ that teaching evolutionary theory would have a negative impact on religious faith and thus would violate the establishment clause.

The USA has been teaching science in general and evolution in particular in schools for hundreds of years. The result.

The USA is the most religious of the western democracies by far. 90% of the population self identifies themselves as religious and 82% of them as Xian.

Mr. Gibb’s lie is preposterous and demonstrably wrong. Somehow I can’t think that this will go very far in court or anywhere else.

If science and technology are religions, just about everybody above a hunter-gather lifestyle has bought into it, whether they admit it or not. I’d really like to see clowns like Gibbs walk their talk and wander in the outback with a bow and arrow, collecting edible wild plants. I suppose if he got hungry he could always pray for food.

Dan meagher:

January 21, 2008 Article tools E-mail Share Digg Del.icio.us Facebook Fark Google Newsvine Reddit Yahoo Print Reprints Post comment Text size: The recent column by Mike Thomas, “Don’t Monkey with Science in Our Schools,” monkeys with the truth about science and evolution. Thomas states, “These people don’t understand science … don’t understand the use of the term ‘theory’.”

This letter, in response to a brief article (written by the local humor columnist, because they have no more serous columnists) which contains some familiar tactics, appeared in today’s Orlando Sentinel:

Scientists have not taught evolution as a “theory” for many years; they have taught it as a “fact.” What happened to scientific learning?

I tend to agree with Thomas about teaching “alternative theories,” but the scientific community does not want to allow the students in the classroom to question the evolution “theory.” How scientific is that? What happened to academic freedom?

Evolution does have many unanswered questions. But the real question is: Who should be allowed to ask these questions?

Fixed syntax by adding “quote” around Orlando Sentinel letter.

Raven,

A bow and arrow are sophisticated technology. Mr. Gibbs would need to use rocks and sticks, like our ancestors he won’t acknowledge did a couple of million years ago.

raven:

The USA has been teaching science in general and evolution in particular in schools for hundreds of years. The result.

The USA only began including evolution in the public schools in the 1950s, and then only grudgingly in many states. Even though evolution is on every state’s science standards (I think), many biology teachers in fundamentalist hotspots still don’t teach it just to avoid problems.

@ Scott:

Assigning a probability to the existence of God is as much as scientists can do at present.

Perhaps, but I’m not aware of anyone having done that. I’m interested in any references you may have.

@ JBG:

I’m assuming that Dawkins silly probability calculation was in the God delusion?

I am currently reading The God Delusion (2nd ed), and has passed chapter 4 where Dawkins discusses why an argument from design (a designer god) is more probably explained by such things as evolution theory.

As Dawkins doesn’t do an explicit calculation, and in fact in chapter 3 dismisses bayesian arguments as subjective, I think he would agree with you that it would be a silly exercise indeed. His argument is entirely different, as you can see above and especially by reading the book.

But he does answer Scott’s concern above, why a designer god can be made a provable and therefore empirically refutable hypothesis by a suitable and appropriate definition, in a previous chapter. In effect, he does that DI refuses to do.

Thinking further, I can amplify that:

As Dawkins goes into great detail explaining why the probabilities between designer agents and physical processes differ so much in order of magnitude (to the later’s advantage) that he doesn’t need to do an explicit calculation, he has yet another reason to think an explicit calculation is silly.

“Evolution does have many unanswered questions. But the real question is: Who should be allowed to ask these questions?”

How about untrained high school students with no background in science or Biology? Sure, they are free to ask any questions they want. Of course that usually won’t get them very far. They first have to learn what the theory really claims, what it’s real predictions are and what tests have already been performed and their results. That could take quite a while. In the meantime, they should follow a curriculum determined by experts and earn the right to do research when they are capable.

Tenured professors have academic freedom, high school students do not. Academic freedom has to be earned. Presenting the results of those who have the academic freedom to ask the tough questions is what an education is all about. Anyone can ask questions, but answers based on ignorance should not be accepted by anyone. High school students should be more concerned about academic integrity and learning what is already known. They should not be free to reject the conclusions of science without good reason.

…and wondering why half their kids die before 5.

No, no…then they praise God for “giving them a cross to bear” and for “calling [the child] home (to Heaven).”

In the fundamentalist worldview, God can’t lose. Whatever He does, by definition, has to be good. Innocent children die in agony–praise the Lord! Truly evil mass murderers live in wealth and luxury–hallelujah!

It’s all part of the Plan. Except for homosexuals.

Then again, maybe homosexuals are some kind of test of faith or tolerance or a task to prove themselves or…

Torbjorn: It certainly sounds much more reasonable then the original quote. Though I’m not entirely sure If trying to eliminate psuedoscientific God hypotheses is a worthwhile exercise. Perhaps someday I’ll get around to the book. Always so many to read.

One thing that struck me about the memo; instead of the usual “it’s a theory, not a fact” formulation, it claims “…part of Evolution as inferred from the most of the remaining Benchmarks does not qualify as scientific theory and should be described as hypothesis.” They actually used the scientific sense of the word “theory” for a change - progress, of a sort.

I like Mr. Gibbs line of reasoning here! If he is successful, I will attempt to claim that my income taxes have a negative impact on my religious faith and violate the Establishment clause (surely the IRS is a more certain sign that there is no benevolent God than the Theory of Evolution).

Bill, thanks for fixing that quote for me. I wanted everyone at PT to see how the DI’s talking points are being disseminated through the media. the Sentinel carried another opinion piece today along the same lines; I’ll go get it for you. Dan

Here is the letter to the editor of the Orlando Sentinel, in it’s entirety, (so as not to be accused of quote-mining): “Leanne Comey produced a well-written piece on the debate over evolution and intelligent design in the classroom, but, as always, there are two sides to every story.

To begin with, I thought it interesting that the 17-year-old “New Voices” author’s presupposition – evolution is a scientific theory – is accepted by the general population as fact. A scientific theory is a careful attempt to explain certain observable facts of nature by means of experiments. Evolution is not observable, repeatable or refutable, and thus does not qualify as either a scientific fact or theory.

Comey claims, “I’m just as reluctant as the rest to believe that we evolved from monkeys.” Apparently not, because she has closed her mind to another option that science cannot prove false.

Evolution must be accepted with faith by its believers, most of whom deny the existence, or at least the power, of a Creator. Similarly, the biblical account of creation is not observable, repeatable or refutable by man. Special creation is accepted with faith by those who believe that the Bible is the revelation of an omnipotent and omniscient Creator whose word is more reliable than the speculations of men. Both evolution and creation, however, can be compared for their compatibility with what we do observe of the facts of nature.

Comey seems concerned about the “chaos that would ensue if a biology teacher decided to incorporate the book of Genesis into lesson plans.” I will forgive her for her age and the fact that American history in our public school systems has been purged of anything related to religion.

The “fact” is that creationism was taught in our public schools for 175 years, and it wasn’t until a vocal minority drove a wedge between religion and government that is was even challenged. Comey seems to have learned through the public-school system that there should be “separation of church and state,” but again, those words are nowhere in our Constitution. The “fact” is that our founders were strong believers in the Bible and quoted it frequently, which is observable in historic documents and all over government buildings in Washington, D.C. The only thing the founders were concerned about was having one denomination forced on the people, like they had been exposed to in England.

Finally, Comey states that “no one is forcing students to believe in evolution, just study it.”

My three questions are:

*What are evolutionists so scared of?

*Why are they so close-minded?

*Why can’t they study creationism?

No one is forcing them to believe in creationism – just study it.”

Eric J. ….. of Longwood is a certified financial planner.

Yes, financial planners really have the credentials to argue the philosophy of science.

Reading that letter again, I begin to feel surrounded again; I think that this is why most sceptics keep quiet most of the time - it is so damn scary out there; like a zombie movie, but we’re stuck in the pub and running low on chips.

OK, I’ll take a crack at the three questions. (“Ask me the questions, bridgekeeper, I’m not afraid.”)

*What are evolutionists so scared of?

Ignorance and superstition replacing science.

*Why are they so close-minded?

We’re not, we’re just not so open-minded that our brains fall out.

*Why can’t they study creationism?

We can, we have, we realize that it’s nonsense.

(“Right. Off you go!”)

Far more important questions in math would be “Why does 2 + 2 = 4”

That’s a question for axiomatic set theory to answer. ;)

Gee, I wonder if anything in modern science threatens the FSM worldview?

Never mind science, what about all those restaurants that serve Mexican, Chinese, or other nationality food to people? Cater the controversy!

(surely the IRS is a more certain sign that there is no benevolent God than the Theory of Evolution).

Nah, that’s just more evidence for “The Fall”.

Is it just me, or are there in Mr. Gibbs tirade echoes of the Pythagoreans seeking to conceal from the unwashed masses the true nature of pi?

Pi is a circular argument. :D

Henry

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This page contains a single entry by PvM published on January 20, 2008 11:34 PM.

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