Teach Them Science Web Page

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I just got a notice from Michael Zimmerman of The Clergy Letter Project that the Project has developed a new Web page, Teach Them Science. The Web page was developed in conjunction with the Center for Inquiry Austin, and was released now “because the Texas State Board of Education is poised to vote on new science standards for the State of Texas.” Professor Zimmerman adds that the Web page contains “an enormous amount of information about the evolution/creation controversy on it.”

Professor Zimmerman continues,

Although a committee of teachers and scientists has written a K-12 curriculum of which all of us could be proud, the State Board of Education’s composition is such that just about half of the members hold a worldview incompatible with modern science. Our new web page explains the situation and provides ways for people to get involved. Something to keep in mind is that textbook publishers are well aware of what the State of Texas requires. Because of the huge Texas market, changes to the Texas curriculum are likely to have an effect throughout the country. In short, an anti-science vote in Texas may affect science teaching in local communities throughout the United States. Read more about the situation, and how you can get involved, on our Teach them Science (www.teachthemscience.org) web page and in a news report at the National Center for Science Education’s web page (www.ncseweb.org).

I checked the home page and found links like these:

The new standards last for ten years. The SBOE votes on the new standards during their January 21-23, 2009 meeting, and barring a reverse vote in March, the new standards will apply for ten years.

Evolution is science, not politics. Anti-evolutionists argue against evolution using rhetoric, but it takes new evidence to change science. They are teaching students that science works like politics. Evolution is one of the most strongly confirmed theories in science.

God and evolution get along just fine. Many people of faith accept evolution, including both clergy and scientists.

A problem bigger than Texas. Texas is so big that publishers will change their textbooks to meet Texas standards. Many states use these textbooks. A problem in Texas will spread around the country.

Science is our children’s future. If we teach students that science works in ways that it does not, we risk their future in science. We also risk our country’s future in science.

I followed a few of the links (not shown explicitly here) and found them to be full of useful information, such as a clear explanation of why evolution is not “just” a theory.

The home page also displays a small box, “Evolution in Action,” which today posed the question, “I just had a flu shot last year - why do I need one now?” If you don’t know the answer, just go to their Web page and click on “ANSWER.” If you got that one right, click back through a few previous questions and find out why pregnant women get morning sickness or why there is no vaccine for AIDS.

Finally, and arguably I could have highlighted this earlier, Teach Them Science is a welcome collaboration between the secular Center for Inquiry, which some might deem atheistic, and The Clergy Project, which is composed of moderate theists and supports Evolution Weekend, February 13-15, 2009. Such a collaboration is a welcome development; as Frederick Crews noted in his book Follies of the Wise, “… the anticreationist cause in the US would be doomed without the help of Christians who are favorably inclined toward the teaching of evolution.” It is thus a blessing that the Center for Inquiry and The Clergy Project have put aside their differences, which may at times be considerable, and agreed to collaborate on this important Web site.

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Teach Them Science from Tangled Up in Blue Guy on January 19, 2009 6:36 AM

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A committee appointed by the Texas Board of Education is reviewing state science standards. Three of the six members of the committee are creationists.Center for Inquiry and The Clergy Letter Project are secular and religious communities who have come ... Read More

126 Comments

The web site is indeed a very welcome development. Ultimately, what needs to be counteracted is the fear that teaching evolution is the same as teaching atheism, and that acceptance of evolution will destroy religion. Heliocentrism certainly didn’t wipe out religious beliefs, even though it took the unprecedented step of removing the Earth from the center of the universe. The more religious denominations acknowledge our common ancestry with all life on the planet, the more creationism goes the way of geocentrism.

God and evolution get along just fine.

That claim can not only be refuted, but refuted specifically, powerfully and compellingly. What is needed now is an ongoing educational effort (print media, online media, churches, schools, colleges) to expose and publicize the fatal weaknesses of this particular plank to the masses, particularly to people of faith.

Granted, that’s only one plank–and a religious one at that–of atheist Zimmerman’s total platform at the “Teach Them Science” website. But Matt Young, quoting Frederick Crews, is absolutely correct on this key principle:

“The anticreationist cause in the US would be doomed without the help of Christians who are favorably inclined toward the teaching of evolution.”

Regardless of what happens at the Texas State Board of Education this week, it is surely time to take full advantage of Crews’ principle, and to help Christians near and far to fully understand the falsity of Zimmerman’s plank.

FL

“God and evolution get along Just fine” is not refuted at all, but refects most of Christianity. I have never heard of Matt Young or Frederick Crews, FL. Please explain yourself. What major Christian groups reject evolution. The Catholic Church is the largest Christian group in the world, they don’t reject evolution. What are you talking about? Please explain, FL.

This is a Mel Gabler’s (& his wifes’) dream come true. They have for years tried to get Texans to basically outlaw, or at least water down, evolution teaching in the schools. They were instrumental in reviewing & censoring textbooks in Texas & knew their actions had national repercussions. Well, if the idiots in charge do vote for this nonsense, expect to see the impact on textbooks elsewhere, as the article states. Remember, book companies are not in the present science business, they’re in the make bucks business with little concern as to what their books say.

FL, you lie.

to help Christians near and far to fully understand the falsity of Zimmerman’s plank.

FL, May I trust that you have studied the evidence provided at

this section of the Teach Them Science webpage?

and can tell the Christians that they may trust you; the evidence is false, just a big lie?

Sorry, I just won’t take your word for it; I have studied the evidence - on and off as circumstances have dictated - to the best of my ability for 70(!) years and all I have found is a steadily growing sound scientific project that have stood the test of time.

It is a sad state of affairs, the less people know about evolution, the more convinced they are that it can not be true.

What you do with science in the US is your own business but I wish you would leave our, that is “far” Christians alone; most of them still accept science and we hope it will remain that way.

Well FL if you are serious, then please explain the falsity (I found this website very well done and informative), otherwise it is most likely safe to assume you are just trolling for another “15 minutes”.

Once again, FL demonstrates that the biggest threat to his own faith isn’t atheism - it’s us Christians who do accept evolution.

Did you know that a Christian clergyman in the US is more than 100 times more likely to accept evolution than a biologist is to reject it?

I bring this up because a creationist in our community recently stated that the 11,000 signers of the Clergy Letter Statement were insignificant, given that there are about 400,000 clergy in the US according to Census figures.

On the other hand, there are about 3 million scientists in the US. (Source) The Discovery Institute’s Dissent from Darwinism has 761 signatures as of August 2008.

[crunching numbers … ]

11,000/400,000 clergy in the US who overtly accept evolution = 2.75%

761/3,000,000 scientists in the US who signed the DfD = 0.025%

So clergy in the US accept evolution at a much greater rate than biologists reject it.

Thanks, Texas, for providing such a great resource for science teachers! I’ll be happy to spread the word …

FL said:

God and evolution get along just fine.

That claim can not only be refuted, but refuted specifically, powerfully and compellingly. What is needed now is an ongoing educational effort (print media, online media, churches, schools, colleges) to expose and publicize the fatal weaknesses of this particular plank to the masses, particularly to people of faith.

If this statement is false, then please explain why the last three Popes have agreed with it?

Are you arrogant to assume that you know more about God and Christianity than the last three Popes, FL?

Where has this statement been refuted, FL?

And how come you’ve never bothered to explain how the birth of Jesus Christ refutes “descent with modification”? To afraid to be called on your blasphemy and bullshit?

Chetyl Shepherd-Adams Wrote:

11,000/400,000 clergy in the US who overtly accept evolution = 2.75%

761/3,000,000 scientists in the US who signed the DfD = 0.025%

You probably know all this, but for the benefit of other readers:

For every clergy member who signed the statement there are probably many who are either afraid to make waves, lack the interest, or are unaware of it, but who would support it. Given the “Voices for Evolution” results I would not be surprised if Christian clergy accept evolution in greater % than the general public.

OTOH, I suspect that there aren’t many scientists who would sign DfD that haven’t already. In fact, because it’s language is so vague, many who disagree with it’s intent were tricked into signing it, and at least one had his name removed. It’s often noted that less than half are biologists - this chemist could have been easily tricked into signing it 20 years ago. Less frequently noted is the fact that an interview of biologist signatories that showed that only ~10% of them doubted common descent. Or that the list is padded with many names from the activist organization that produced it.

Big questions are being debated here re: Science & Religion, in general.

I see the Teach Them Science site in its Texas context, where religiously motivated elements are engaging in dishonest campaigns and strategies in the revision of the Texas science standards. See, for example, Campaign of Lies in Texas / Dobson group’s letter from TX legislators, at http://curricublog.wordpress.com/20[…]17/fmf-lies/ , and Young Earth Creationist Attack on the New Texas Earth and Space Science Course at http://www.texscience.org/reports/e[…]009jan15.htm

FL,

Five lines of evidence are presented on the web site that support the theory of evolution. If you cannot refute the evidence, then claiming that evolution and religion are incompatible is simply telling people that they cannot believe in any religion.

Of course, you might just mean that a certain form of religion is incompatible with evolution. In that case you once again are claiming that one connot believe in that religion unless all of the evidence is conclusively refuted. But then other religions would still be fine.

Either way you are simply arguing against religion, unless of course you can refute the evidence. I see no attempt do so on your part, therefore I conclude that you are simply trying to undermine faith. Either that or you do not value evidence. If that is the case then you are certainly entitled to your opinion, but you should not be surprised if those who are familiar with the evidence do not share it. Once again, you are simply telling those people that they are not welcome in your religion. Is that what the Bible says to do?

FL said:

God and evolution get along just fine.

That claim can not only be refuted, but refuted specifically, powerfully and compellingly.

And yet you don’t include that refutation here.

Never mind. Based on your past posts I’m willing to bet your ‘refutation’ starts with the bogus and erroneous premise that only biblical literalists (and the Pope) count as Christian.

Excellent!

The section on “Strenghs and Weaknesses” is the best I have ever seen:

Unfortunately, this is exactly what’s happening. The alleged weaknesses with evolution are phony fabrications, invented and promoted by people who don’t like evolution.

I like the use of the phrase “phony fabrications,” which is especially ironic when contrasted with Pope John Paul II’s description of the evidence of evolution as “convergence, neither sought nor fabricated.” I’m also thrilled that they said “people who don’t like evolution” rather than “people who deny evolution. The fact is that we just don’t know that those on a mission to misrepresnt evolution actually personally deny it. Although it’s probably a safe bet that FL is not one who fakes his Morton’s Demon.

I look forward to reading the rest of the site. The molecular structures on the board are a nice touch too.

FL:

Your twisted version of Christianity is incompatible with observed reality.

Too bad for you.

In FL’s religion (not Christian to my understanding) one is given careful instruction on how to sell a daughter as a slave.

Exodus 21:7 “If a man sells his daughter as a female slave…”

Perhaps we are better off not lining up with FL’s twisted understanding of the Bible.

As a home schooling parent I appreciate the Teach Them Science web page.

rog

That is a great site. I just hope the people that NEED to read it will!

fnxtr Wrote:

Your twisted version of Christianity is incompatible with observed reality.

Heck, it’s even incompatible with Ray Martinez’ version. And we all know that Ray is the only “True Christian” on the planet. But it’s interesting how anti-evolutionists contort their opinions to accommodate anyone who bad-mouths evolution under the big tent.

Mary Wrote:

That is a great site. I just hope the people that NEED to read it will!

Depends on whom you think the ones are that need it. From various references I estimate that ~25 are hard-line fundamentalists like FL, who will tune out anything they don’t like. I doubt that even Jesus himself walking on water would change their minds. Another ~20% that doubts evolution based on misleading sound bites and a poor understanding of science might benefit, however. And another ~20 that accept evolution (or a common caricature of it) but still think that it’s fair to “teach the controversy” might also benefit. It also might be an eye-opener to many nonscientists who accept evolution (or a common caricature of it) for the wrong reason.

That’s “25%” of course. I wish it were only 25. Same for the last 20.

Science is our children’s future. If we teach students that science works in ways that it does not, we risk their future in science. We also risk our country’s future in science.

This could be the greatest single thing I’ve ever read on Pandas Thumb. Finally, confirmation that someone is looking past the trivial nonsense that anti-evolution groups throw up and focusing on the genuinely important reason for why the anti-evolution education movement needs to be opposed. And I don’t think its an accident that its being done by a group of theists rather than an atheist group. Without tarring an entire group of individuals, on the whole, atheists don’t seem capable of dissociating attacks on religion from opposition to anti-evolution education. As such, their efforts at educating the general public are not going to succeed. There are many notable exceptions, but the major thrust of the largest group of people who are actively interested in opposing anti-evolution education (atheists) is debating religion. This has had a very large hand in shaping the public perception of the evolution debate, and it hasn’t been helpful at all. Biology has to be taught in such a way that it isn’t perceived as a threat, even to people like FL.

Cheryl Shepherd-Adams said:

Once again, FL demonstrates that the biggest threat to his own faith isn’t atheism - it’s us Christians who do accept evolution.

Did you know that a Christian clergyman in the US is more than 100 times more likely to accept evolution than a biologist is to reject it?

I bring this up because a creationist in our community recently stated that the 11,000 signers of the Clergy Letter Statement were insignificant, given that there are about 400,000 clergy in the US according to Census figures.

On the other hand, there are about 3 million scientists in the US. (Source) The Discovery Institute’s Dissent from Darwinism has 761 signatures as of August 2008.

[crunching numbers … ]

11,000/400,000 clergy in the US who overtly accept evolution = 2.75%

761/3,000,000 scientists in the US who signed the DfD = 0.025%

So clergy in the US accept evolution at a much greater rate than biologists reject it.

Thanks, Texas, for providing such a great resource for science teachers! I’ll be happy to spread the word …

Actually, despite its use as a creationist propaganda tool, the Dissent from Darwin list at no point states that the signers reject evolution. If you look at the FAQ, it is not even an endorsement of intelligent design! It’s a poorly-worded complaint that natural selection can’t explain all biodiversity, as if natural selection accounted for 100% of evolution: ““We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.”

A closer approximation would be the number of biologists among the 192 people who signed a pro-creationism, anti-evolution list at Answers in Genesis, which would be a rather small fraction of the total.

Dear Frank J,

I’ve just quickly glanced at the site and I think it’s terrific. One of the highlights is indeed the section on “Strengths and Weaknesses”, with its usage of the heliocentric theory as an absolutely brilliant example. What I like about the website is that it makes its points in clear, concise and compelling language that’s designed not to be offensive to those who are religiously devout and are willing to be persuaded by scientific evidence that evolution is fact, not fiction.

Best regards,

John

My dear FL:

While visiting AMNH (American Museum of Natural History) again yesterday, I made a point to walk through once more its relatively new Hall of Human Origins. One of its concluding panel displays is a video monitor comprised of video clips from one of the final sections in the AMNH-created “Darwin” exhibition, currently on display at the British Museum of Natural History in London. I couldn’t help but notice how much devout Christians Francis Collins - formerly the director of the Human Genome Project - and Ken Miller, expressed their recognition that one can be a very good Christian and still accept the scientific validity of evolution.

Last week I heard vertebrate paleobiologist Don Prothero note that more than half of all evolutionary biologists are religiously devout, during a lecture he gave here in New York City. Shouldn’t you reconsider your inane observation that only atheists accept evolution as valid science? But then again, what more can I expect from someone such as yourself, whose mind is quite intellectually-challenged?

Continue enjoying your membership in the Dishonesty Institute IDiot Borg Collective.

Live Long and Prosper (as a DI IDiot Borg drone),

John Kwok

Stanton said:

And how come you’ve never bothered to explain how the birth of Jesus Christ refutes “descent with modification”? To afraid to be called on your blasphemy and bullshit?

As far as I can see, FL has been MIA since he sent me/us that list of websites that supposedly explained why there were two very different genealogies for JC in the bible – the third site contradicted the first two, so I pointed this out to FL and read no further.

To add to your to-do list, FL, why don’t you read all the reports that have been coming out of Freshwater’s hearing and tell us how he is qualified to tell 8th graders what is “true” in science and what is not? Is the Lord speaking through Freshwater now? So an 8th grade teacher somewhere in Ohio is the 2nd coming? Would that be blasphemy? Or just bullshit?

It strikes me that the way to approach this is through the textbook companies. States not on the short bus could simply refuse to accept Texas infected books.

midwifetoad said:

It strikes me that the way to approach this is through the textbook companies. States not on the short bus could simply refuse to accept Texas infected books.

I’ve never understood why other states feel compelled to follow the larger states when it comes to ordering textbooks. Here in Canada if there is not already a suitable book the prairie provinces get together with a publisher and specify what they want. (In the biology text there is a sizable portion onevolution.) Surely any reasonable-sized state could do the same?

Richard Simons said: I’ve never understood why other states feel compelled to follow the larger states when it comes to ordering textbooks. Here in Canada if there is not already a suitable book the prairie provinces get together with a publisher and specify what they want. (In the biology text there is a sizable portion onevolution.) Surely any reasonable-sized state could do the same?

I’m not sure whether they could, but apparantly they don’t. AFAIK the other States allow their individual school districts to make textbook purchase decisions. While this gives non-Texas districts more local control and flexibility, it means that they don’t have the market “pull” of Texas. Texas is effectively the “whale” in the casino of textbook publications: collectively the regular customers may give you an equal or higher profit, but you cater to Texas.

FL said:

God and evolution get along just fine.

That claim can not only be refuted, but refuted specifically, powerfully and compellingly. What is needed now is an ongoing educational effort (print media, online media, churches, schools, colleges) to expose and publicize the fatal weaknesses of this particular plank to the masses, particularly to people of faith.

Creationists have been attempting to do that for decades. All they have ever sone is make their dogmas more and more silly with every turn.

Here’s a hint: If there is a God, I beleive he should not lie. Claiming that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God is an unfounded assumption. Teaching that as fact, as FL does, is lying. Therefore, anyone who claims this is a liar. Since God is not supposed to be a liar, that makes a fundamental difference between God and FL that means FL is not a beleiver in God at all.

Or maybe you DO beleive in a God that lies, which would explain the epic failure of the Bible to fit reality. Then FL’s lying would also make perfect sense.

Either way, FL’s credibility is nil.

Mike, interesting thought about Atheists attacking religion through their fight with the anti- evolutionistas. One problem though, I served on the small committee that created the Teach Them Science site and I feel it is important to point out that most if not all the writers/thinkers/creators for this site are what could be aptly labeled Atheists. I can not presume to speak for the others, but judging from the ongoing conversation during the project I feel I can safely draw that conclusion. The Clergy Letter folks were consulted, mostly in the very final stages, seeking their take on the language and site dynamics. Their input on copy and content, while not zero, was negligible You could be correct in suggesting that the site was friendlier to religion because of that association. Don’t be so fast to put down thinking individuals that may have come to conclusions about the origins of the Universe and the ever evolving bits of life on this planet that may or may not differ from your own. Our primary concern was the teaching of sound scientific priciples to our children, not spreading screed with those of a very narrow religious world view.

JimmyJ said:

I’m sorry, but rational tolerant Christians don’t take the bible literally, let alone use it as an excuse to retard our already lagging science education.

No argument from me on that! And no need to apologize…

JimmyJ said: We can read about Cain and Abel and view it as a metaphor about the dangers of jealousy

Jealousy? Blasphemy! Cain offered veggies, Abel offered meat. The veggies were inferior in God’s eyes. I shouldn’t have to draw you a picture - the meaning of this story is perfectly clear. Its that my wife is wrong when she tries to get me to eat more salad. God really wants me to eat that hamburger. :)

eric said:

Jealousy? Blasphemy! Cain offered veggies, Abel offered meat. The veggies were inferior in God’s eyes. I shouldn’t have to draw you a picture - the meaning of this story is perfectly clear.

I just realized that the American Heart Association, recommending five servings of vegetables a day, must be in on a Satanical plot:

http://www.americanheart.org/presen[…]fier=3048090

God really wants me to eat that hamburger. :)

Well of course - a burger with ketchup, pickle, lettuce, and onion has fruit, veggies, and bread built in; what more should anyone want? ;)

Just reminded me of the hospital cafeteria…

Whoever is the chef likes to feed us boiled veggies and pasta. No matter how much I eat, I still feel like I’m starving to death.

At this point, I can fully understand God telling Cain to buzz-off with his veggies. God probably looked at him and said the Yiddish equivalent of “where’s the beef?”

G-dash-d does not speak Yiddish. She speaks Hebrew.

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