Darwin Day Is February 12

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Darwin_EllenSharples_1816.jpg

Charles Darwin in 1816. Detail of a painting by Ellen Sharples. Public domain.

And the Center for Inquiry provides a short list of resources for campus organizations or anyone else who wants to sponsor an event. In particular, you may contact their speakers bureau to find speakers on evolution, creationism, and intelligent-design creationism (it is a complete mystery why hardly anyone from Panda’s Thumb is on that list, but we will not go into that now). Additionally, Center for Inquiry directs you to the International Darwin Day Foundation, where you may find a list of activities near you, and, of course, the National Center for Science Education.

CFI recommends that you try to teach someone about evolution or other scientific principles and notes that the Public Broadcasting System has a wealth of material on evolution, science, and Darwin. The Understanding Evolution Web page is likewise an excellent resource.

Finally, not mentioned by CFI, the Clergy Letter Project lists 400-odd religious congregations that plan Evolution Weekend activities, February 10-12. Indeed, it may be of interest to some that Science can help church keep its young folk.

61 Comments

Matt Young Wrote:

Indeed, it may be of interest to some that Science can help church keep its young folk.

It ought to be interesting to all. No one would like to see organized religion go away more than I, but that ain’t gonna happen in this geologic period. So the best we can do is reach the millions who are neither hopelessly compartmentalized nor in on the scam. Most of them are religious, and their only “sin” is uncritically repeating misleading sound bites like “I hear the jury’s still out about evolution.”

By no means should we despise or ridicule the hopelessly compartmentalized either. It’s one thing to believe “in their hearts” that the FSM created the Universe 5 minutes ago. But to repeatedly deny that evolution is supported by what Pope John Paul II called a “convergence, neither sought nor fabricated” of evidence is tantamount to bearing false witness. If they’re too compartmentalized to understand that, the least they need to do is admit that those who do the work “probably” know better than they do.

In retrospect, the “evolution” of anti-evolution activism is just what one expects when there’s a burning desire for an alternate “theory” but no evidence. First they – and here I’m talking about the scam artists, not their clueless followers - try to force-fit sought and fabricated evidence. Then, when they can’t agree on what to force-fit it to (geocentric YEC? Heliocentric YEC, day-age OEC? etc.) they just take that sought and fabricated evidence to pretend that evolution is “weak” and let the audience infer the rest. And if that doesn’t work they pretend that the “Darwinists” are conspiring to replace God with Hitler.

It is difficult to imagine that such discussions within the churches can actually help young people to stay with the churches or that such an objective is even desirable. Just looking at the number of denominations within Christianity alone (something over 30,000) gives some hint of the strains and disagreements that are hidden beneath the façade that is the public face of most churches.

Young people who get a broader perspective as they continue to grow and explore a wider world of knowledge and experience become quite disillusioned by the seeming cozy comforts of a sectarian community that turns out to be not what it seems.

If you scroll down in that link to the United Methodist Church that Matt provided, you will find this comment by a Charles A. Rodenberger, Ph.D..

This is the resolution that I am submitting to the General Conference:

WHEREAS the United Methodist Church believes the Bible as a basic tenet, and

WHEREAS, we join in the Apostle’s Creed that states that God is the creator, and

WHEREAS, we believe that God sent His Son to redeem us from sin and Jesus Christ stated that he was present at creation and gave us no teachings that would support evolution, and

WHEREAS, the laws of physics and chemistry and many scientists deny evolution, and

WHEREAS, creation scientists have published many research findings since 2000 that support creation and deny evolution, and

WHEREAS, Methodists do not want to stifle open discussion of all theories

Therefore, be it resolved that the United Methodist Church reaffirm the 2000 General Conference resolution that directs the General Board of Discipleship, working within its own structure, to develop study materials for all levels of the church which will bring all the theories of evolution and creation to the churches in a manner which will compare emerging areas of compatibility and areas yet unresolved in a reconciling approach to the relationship involved.

Rationale:

We, as Christians, believe that God sent His Son to redeem us from sin. Jesus Christ stated that he was present at creation and gave us no teachings that would support evolution.

As a scientist, I have studied the Creation/Evolution argument for 60 years and am convinced that Evolution is a nonscientific teaching based on faith because the laws of physics and chemistry prove that evolution of living molecules from the random interaction of hydrogen atoms is statistically impossible. Because it violates the basic laws of science, evolution must be accepted on faith and becomes a religion. If evolution is impossible the other possibilities are that of Creation or the current concept that life came from aliens from outer space. Because we believe in the Bible and state in our creed that God is the creator, then we should support the teaching and research of creation scientists and ask that such research be given as much consideration in school as the questionable doctrine of evolution.

The argument that young people are leaving the Methodist church because it didn’t support evolution is not true. A Central Texas Conference resolution supporting the teaching of creation along with evolution received most of the votes of the youth in attendance.

Charles A. Rodenberger, PhD

Professor Emeritus of Aerospace Engineering

Texas A&M University

8377 FM 2228

Baird, TX 79504

254 725 6816

Member Cross Plains, TX First United Methodist Church

Supported by other members of the church

There is a large diversity within just this denomination alone; and some of the members buy into ID/creationism as strongly as do many of the evangelical fundamentalists and people like Ken Ham. And many such members are pushy and controlling in their demands and behaviors. There is something about sectarian dogma that attracts and draws out people who want to meddle in the personal affairs of others.

It is not surprising that young people find these kinds of disputes and disagreements revolting and choose to leave the churches. As children of parents who found church to be a centering community for their lives, they start to grow up and begin to realize that many adults never grow up; and that can be quite a turn-off.

Well, if there’s one person who should know about the limits of biology, it’s an aerospace engineer.

WHEREAS, the laws of physics and chemistry and many scientists deny evolution,

Couldn’t, like, name a law of physics or chemistry that “denies” evolution, eh? “Apologists” would be more a more honest term than “scientists” with respect to those denying evolution, even if they’re “scientists” in one area or another (even biology).

WHEREAS, creation scientists have published many research findings since 2000 that support creation and deny evolution

Whereas creation scientists (at least he knows what the IDiots are about) have played off of a false dilemma and pretended that they know far more about the probabilities of evolution than they actually do (highly biased to the downside), and haven’t in the slightest come up with any evidence for design, I’d note that they’re complete failures.

Glen Davidson

As a scientist, I have studied the Creation/Evolution argument for 60 years and am convinced that Evolution is a nonscientific teaching based on faith because the laws of physics and chemistry prove that evolution of living molecules from the random interaction of hydrogen atoms is statistically impossible. … Charles A. Rodenberger, PhD

Professor Emeritus of Aerospace Engineering

(1) This is an exceptionally extreme straw-man characterization of evolutionary biology.

(2) There is nothing shameful about being a professor of engineering. Why would a professor of engineering claim to be a scientist?

If anyone wants a Darwinian priest (Anglican) in the North West of England then try me!!!!

TomS said:

(2) There is nothing shameful about being a professor of engineering. Why would a professor of engineering claim to be a scientist?

To give inappropriate legitimacy, or rather, illegitimately lend authority to his Young Earth Creationist beliefs, of course.

fnxtr said:

Well, if there’s one person who should know about the limits of biology, it’s an aerospace engineer.

Well this one was rather convinced of the strengths of biology.

TomS said:

(2) There is nothing shameful about being a professor of engineering. Why would a professor of engineering claim to be a scientist?

I am a professor of engineering. I am also a scientist; the roles are not mutually exclusive. My graduate students do original research studying fundamental phenomena of interest in my particular corner of chemical engineering and the results are presented at national conferences (usually AIChE and another topically-focused international conference, sometimes ACS as well) and in the peer-reviewed literature.

IMO, the other criticisms of Rodenberger’s resolution are valid.

Joe Felsenstein said:

fnxtr said:

Well, if there’s one person who should know about the limits of biology, it’s an aerospace engineer.

Well this one was rather convinced of the strengths of biology.

Yeah, but he cheated by actually learning biology.

Mike Elzinga Wrote:

It is difficult to imagine that such discussions within the churches can actually help young people to stay with the churches or that such an objective is even desirable.

The goal ought to be to make them stop bearing false witness, not to “stay with the churches.” But many can do, and have done, both.

The person you cited is clearly beyond hope, if not in on the scam. Attempting to reason with him would be a waste of time, but it would be productive to ask him in the presence of non-hopeless churchgoers:

1. Exactly which of the mutually contradictory YEC and OEC “theories” he means by “creation” and whether he can refute any of the others?

2. Why the “many research findings” he referred to are at best worthless arguments from incredulity, and why even the tiny fringe of scientists that the scam artists tout as “dissenters” know better than to attempt to support their “theories” on their own merits (hint: they know they’ll fail)?

3. Why is there an increasing “don’t ask don’t tell” policy with even the simple “what happened when” claims that were once a major part of “scientific” creationism?

There are countless more questions, but it doesn’t take many to make 90% of the people see the double standard.

‘the laws of physics and chemistry prove that evolution of living molecules from the random interaction of hydrogen atoms is statistically impossible.’

yes, carbon and oxygen is required as well. Surely he could not be so ignorant as to not know these elements are formed through the random interaction of hydrogen molecules in the environment of a star, or that these elements interact readily to form organic molecules in both stellar and terrestrial environments, or that not evolution not would claim that a molecule is ‘living’… and he claims to be a ‘scientist’. bah!

transreality said:

‘the laws of physics and chemistry prove that evolution of living molecules from the random interaction of hydrogen atoms is statistically impossible.’

yes, carbon and oxygen is required as well. Surely he could not be so ignorant as to not know these elements are formed through the random interaction of hydrogen molecules in the environment of a star, or that these elements interact readily to form organic molecules in both stellar and terrestrial environments, or that not evolution not would claim that a molecule is ‘living’… and he claims to be a ‘scientist’. bah!

I suspect he’s using the usual creationist canard of conflating all change in the universe since the big bang with biological evolution … since all the carbon and oxygen ultimately came from hydrogen, he probably feels rhetorically justified in implying that “Darwin sez we all came from random interactions of hydrogen atoms.”

Well a brilliant scientist should know better than to use a meaningless term like “living molecules”, especially since he never defined the term or said how living molecules are different from any other kinds. This alone tells you he is either completely ignorant or just plain lying through his teeth. Or maybe both.

Of course he is also completely wrong about the laws of physics and the publications of creationists, but who’s counting?

Sincere thanks for the heads-up about the recent Methodist article, Matt.

Couldn’t help noticing that it appealed to Pope Pius XII, but carefully avoided mentioning both Pope John Paul II and the current Pope Benedict XVI.

Also couldn’t help noticing that the article was TOTALLY silent concerning the Bible, not even mentioning the word itself. (Go figure!!)

Anyway, I will possibly make use of that article for a February blog essay in my hometown newspaper, regarding the giant and insurmountable Incompatility that exists between evolution and Christianity.

Once again, thanks for calling attention to it.

FL

Also, an equally sincere thanks to Mike Elzinga for mentioning the bold, strong response by Prof. Rodenburger.

Perhaps the Methodists have not yet decided to trash their own Bibles (and their own futures) after all.

Thanks again, Mike.

FL

Once again, FL, there is no incompatibility between Christianity and evolution. That is a lie.

Minor correction: the phrase “Genesis 1” does appear once in the article.

However, the article writer clearly and openly denies all “creationist explanations of the natural history of our planet and its myriad life forms”, such as those of Genesis 1. He seems to have no clue that those Genesis “explanations” are foundational to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Historically false Genesis? Then historically false Gospel. One thing leads to another.

FL

Couldn’t help noticing that FL wrote yet another tedious, meaningless post without the slightest regard for Biblical injunctions against dishonesty.

Enough of the troll food.

Glen Davidson

Time for a FL calibration.

FL has confirmed he believes that the god directed slaughter of children and selling of daughters as sex slaves as plainly described in the inerrant bible (see below) are examples of the unconditionally loving and ethical morals of his inerrant bible god (FL has no problem with these passages).

Ezekiel 9:5-6 ‘As I listened, he said to the others, “Follow him through the city and kill, without showing pity or compassion. Slaughter old men, young men and maidens, women and children,…” ‘

Exodus 21:7-11 “And if a man sells his daughter to be a female slave, she shall not go out as the male slaves do. If she does not please the master who has selected her for himself, he must let her be redeemed. He has no right to sell her to foreigners, because he has broken faith with her. If he selects her for his son,…”

From a morals and rationality perspective, FL’s ability to hold these contradictory positions should be considered when interpreting all of FL’s posts.

FL said:

Also, an equally sincere thanks to Mike Elzinga for mentioning the bold, strong response by Prof. Rodenburger.

Perhaps the Methodists have not yet decided to trash their own Bibles (and their own futures) after all.

Thanks again, Mike.

FL

Just how do you justify this as a “bold, strong response” when you yourself don’t know anything about science, don’t want to know, and take extreme pride in your smug ignorance?

Your church is a personality cult of taunting deity wannabes that nobody wants or needs. Young people would be well advised to leave your church. In fact, you are a classic example of exactly the kind of self-righteous fanatic that young people come to despise.

The First United Methodist Church has taken the formal stance of accepting evolution, and there are ministers within that denomination that have given powerful sequences of sermons repudiating the tactics of ID/creationist fundamentalists.

Rodenberger is doing what all ID/creationists do; namely, credential-waving to push pseudo-science that he does not understand.

And you are in no position to judge because you not only have no credentials, you can’t even pass an elementary concept test on some of the most fundamental ideas in science. Nevertheless, you continue to copy/paste the ideas of others with the implication that you are able to vet scientific concepts even as you taunt.

As long as there are people like you in any church – people who will viciously sabotage every attempt at dialog and understanding – there will continue to be divisions and splintering within these religious communities that will inhibit the growth of individuals within those communities. Young people are not so stupid that they can’t figure that out for themselves. Nobody should blame them for leaving.

But none of that is going to stop rational and reasonable people from trying to come to grips with the implications that science and secular experience has for outmoded sectarian thinking such as yours. You know nothing of religion or its history; and increasing numbers of church goers are becoming aware of that fact (thanks to idiots like you).

I suspect he’s using the usual creationist canard of conflating all change in the universe since the big bang with biological evolution … since all the carbon and oxygen ultimately came from hydrogen, he probably feels rhetorically justified in implying that “Darwin sez we all came from random interactions of hydrogen atoms.”

Was atomic theory even in place when Darwin wrote his book?

Henry

Frank J said:

There are countless more questions, but it doesn’t take many to make 90% of the people see the double standard.

From what I know from my church-going friends, the dialog is ramping up in the light of the abusive tactics by the ID/creationists over the years. I suspect the jig is up for the ID/creationists as far as the more moderate churches are concerned. Forty years of lying has been an extreme overreach by the creationists; and from the sermons I have heard on line, some ministers are starting to firmly repudiate these abuses.

Sincere thanks for the heads-up about the recent Methodist article, Matt.

***

Also, an equally sincere thanks to Mike Elzinga for mentioning the bold, strong response by Prof. Rodenburger.

The FL troll thinks it is cute; please do not feed it any more.

Henry J said:

I suspect he’s using the usual creationist canard of conflating all change in the universe since the big bang with biological evolution … since all the carbon and oxygen ultimately came from hydrogen, he probably feels rhetorically justified in implying that “Darwin sez we all came from random interactions of hydrogen atoms.”

Was atomic theory even in place when Darwin wrote his book?

Henry

I don’t think so. It’s my understanding that atomic theory wasn’t broadly accepted among physicists until the early 20th century. I recall reading speculation that one of the contributing causes of the depression that led to Boltzmann’s suicide was rejection of his kinetic theory, at least in part because of skepticism of the underlying atomic/molecular model of matter.

Cute kid, and I became curious about the plant. Apparently he was already a collector of plants, etc., at a very early age. And the picture above crops out his little sister Catherine:

Gleaned from his biography at this site

fwiw

Glen Davidson

Mike Elzinga said:

Frank J said:

There are countless more questions, but it doesn’t take many to make 90% of the people see the double standard.

From what I know from my church-going friends, the dialog is ramping up in the light of the abusive tactics by the ID/creationists over the years. I suspect the jig is up for the ID/creationists as far as the more moderate churches are concerned. Forty years of lying has been an extreme overreach by the creationists; and from the sermons I have heard on line, some ministers are starting to firmly repudiate these abuses.

If that’s the “from so simple a beginning” that I have been waiting for, then it’s far better news than Edwards v. Aguillard and Kitzmiller v. Dover put together. As nice as those decisions were, we know that pseudoscience peddlers on a mission have many more tricks to fool the public, and all it would take is to load the courts with either radical authoritarians or postmodernists, and all the work to restrict public science education to that which has earned the right to be taught will be for naught.

Right now we have ~75% that thinks it’s fair to “teach the controversy.” About 1/3 of them have no problem with evolution, and another ~1/3 is not in hopeless denial but just misled. If that’s going to change it’ll happen in the churches and “on the street” not in courts. And it will take at least a generation. And people who want their children to learn fairy tales or postmodern nonsense instead of science will be still free to do it on their own dime.

SWT said:

TomS said:

(2) There is nothing shameful about being a professor of engineering. Why would a professor of engineering claim to be a scientist?

I am a professor of engineering. I am also a scientist; the roles are not mutually exclusive. My graduate students do original research studying fundamental phenomena of interest in my particular corner of chemical engineering and the results are presented at national conferences (usually AIChE and another topically-focused international conference, sometimes ACS as well) and in the peer-reviewed literature.

IMO, the other criticisms of Rodenberger’s resolution are valid.

I recognize that a person can have two fields of expertise. For example, Alexander Borodin was a chemist and a composer.

As far as criticism, of course it is not usually appropriate to critique an argument by comments on the person making the argument. But when the person claims expertise as a scientist, it would seem appropriate to ask whether that person actually is a scientist, and evidence for his being an engineer is not adequate evidence for his being a scientist; no more than would I expect someone to appeal to Borodin’s abilities as a composer in support of his opinions on chemistry.

For example, Alexander Borodin was a chemist and a composer.

Yes, and he wanted people to NOT wish him well, since he only found time to compose when he was sick!

Karen S. said:

For example, Alexander Borodin was a chemist and a composer.

Yes, and he wanted people to NOT wish him well, since he only found time to compose when he was sick!

Oh, was he the guy who composed “Toccata in Phlegm Minor,” and “Fugue with Cough and Cello”?

If you want to call what I described “theistic evolution”, then fine. I’ll accept that it’s theistic evolution. Let us not become the prisoners of words, here.

But I can have it that Christians believe that God is in control of his Universe, but that simultaneously they can cogently argue that this is perfectly consistent with accepting the operation of physical law and events that cannot be told from chance, including evolution, by the reasoning I have outlined above. Hence, they can and do accept those operations and those events. They can and do study the phenomena, apply the scientific method, test their facts and hypotheses empirically, and come to reasoned conclusions from physical evidence without ever invoking God, and yet still believe that all things happen by His will.

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This page contains a single entry by Matt Young published on January 14, 2012 9:00 PM.

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