Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Anti~Science HB 25 or Stupid in Mississippi

I do wish the nut jobs would figure out that a scientific theory isn't just some idea Joe Blow came up with. You know gravity is a theory but I don't see the nut jobs challenging it (pity).

Nut Job: Evoulution is JUST A THEORY!

Scientist: Gravity is just a theory too, why don't you jump off this 10 foot building to see if it is based on a careful and rational examination of the facts.

Nut Job: (jumps off building and goes splat)

Anyway back to HB25

The State Board of Education shall require every textbook that includes the teaching of evolution in its contents to include the following language on the inside front cover of the textbook:

"The word 'theory' has many meanings, including: systematically organized knowledge; abstract reasoning; a speculative idea or plan; or a systematic statement of principles. Scientific theories are based on both observations of the natural world and assumptions about the natural world. They are always subject to change in view of new and confirmed observations.

This textbook discusses evolution, a controversial theory some scientists present as a scientific explanation for the origin of living things. No one was present when life first appeared on earth. Therefore, any statement about life's origins should be considered a theory.

Evolution refers to the unproven belief that random, undirected forces produced living things. There are many topics with unanswered questions about the origin of life which are not mentioned in your textbook, including: the sudden appearance of the major groups of animals in the fossil record (known as the Cambrian Explosion); the lack of new major groups of other living things appearing in the fossil record; the lack of transitional forms of major groups of plants and animals in the fossil record; and the complete and complex set of instructions for building a living body possessed by all living things.

Study hard and keep an open mind."


  1. ...perhaps I'm just one of those Nut Jobs, but I'm missing where this introduction is wrong/inane.

    Again, I may be a scientifically ignorant Nut Job [smile], but near as I can tell every scientist should agree with those statements--creationist, IDer, or evolutionary biologist.

    I realize that the process of evolution--and its implications for origins of life--aren't "just some idea Joe Blow came up with," but the quoted introduction doesn't say that. In fact, the things it does say are foundational to the good science that has been done in the field of evolutionary study: Limits of what the scientific method can and can't prove and the need for questioning and rigorous study.

    Please help me understand why this is so insipid and distasteful because I'm not seeing it ...because at the moment, I feel like the kid who doesn't get the joke's punchline [smile].



  2. Well look at it this way. Do they feel the need to add something saying gravity is "just a theory". NO!!!!

    Then why should evolution be treated differently then any other scientific theory?

  3. I guess it won't be when we Christians evolve beyond being such nut jobs. But at the rate evolution supposedly happens, I guess you'll have to wait millions of years. :]

  4. Many Christians believe in evolution. I am one of them.

    The Language of God by Francis S. Collins is a wonderful book that explains evolution from a Christian view (theistic evolution)

  5. "...why should evolution be treated differently then any other scientific theory?"

    I'm no scientist, so I have no idea if every other theory is held in the same regard as gravity. But evolution and gravity differ, to my understanding, in a few ways:

    1. As the textbook points out, the theory of gravity is "a systematic statement of principles," whereas the theory of evolution is the postulation "that random, undirected forces produced living things"--i.e. "abstract reasoning; a speculative idea or plan." These are, rightly labeled, as different things which do require different approaches in study. In short, "gravitation" is merely the word we have decided to use to describe the force that appears to pull things toward the center of a mass; "evolution"--in this context--is a proposed model by which life forums.

    2. Both gravity and evolution are observable phenomena in that we have selected these words as our label for these experiences. The controversy begins--for both of these subjects--when we start to postulate how far our observable experience can be applied.

    After browsing through the Newton section on gravity on Wikipedia--dangerous, I know [smile]--I realized that you may be talking about the "Inverse Square Law" aspect of the theory of gravitation which has proven to be less than accurate, and further reasoning for why gravitation is still a theory. While we can say, "Yes, this thing we've label as gravity appears to pull us to the center of a mass," there are problems with applying to the rest of the universe acceptably.

    In much the same way, while we can observe, as Darwin did, that animals adapt to their environments through a natural selection, it is unclear how far we can push that observation. Does such a thing account for the origin of life? That is where the controversy really starts to come to a head.

    For these reasons, I don't see why a textbook shouldn't include a caution calling for careful study and willingness to consider alternative ideas... especially when that is the foundation of the scientific method.

    Am I still missing something, or is there something wrong with my rather uninformed analysis here? I'm always happy to learn more [smile].

    Thanks for taking the time to try to help me understand!


  6. Luke, the letter to the editor in my local paper which I posted on my blog does a great job of explaining what is wrong with HB25.

    I agree we should keep an open mind, BUT we should do so regarding all theories, not just evolution. Singling out one theory leads school children to believe that it is somehow different then the other scientific theories. Which isn't true.

    All scientific theories begin as hypothesis, only after the hypothesis has been vigorously tested (to the extent it can be) and proven to be true does it become a theory.

  7. I think the difference between gravity and evolution is that gravity can be proven, as Luke stated. Case in point, the nut job who went splat.

    Evolution cannot be proven, yet it is being taught as fact while the other possible orgins of life are completely ignored. A teacher cannot even suggest that God may have created the world without risking her job, despite the fact that her theory is just as reasonable as the one she's allowed to teach.

    I think that's the problem as most of the nut jobs see it.

  8. Kris,
    The theory of evolution has nothing to do with how life began and CAN be proven. Things are evolving all the time. For example bacteria evolves extremely fast.

    Evolution has been observed in the fossil record as well as under the microscope in bacteria which evolves much faster then mammals.

    Apparently a lot of Creationist and Intelligent Designers don't understand that the THEORY OF EVOLUTION does not address have life came to be. It merely states that all life evolved from a common ancestor.

  9. Alasandra,

    Sorry, I'm always away for the weekend, so I haven't had a chance until now to catch up on the comments.

    I guess what's still throwing me off is that the intro paragraph states: "Evolution refers to the unproven belief that random, undirected forces produced living things."

    But then you say, "Evolution says nothing about origins of life."

    If, as you say, evolution is a theory of how we've gained diversity, I'd completely agree with you and see no real reason for the introduction paragraph as it refers to the parts of thinking that, it sounds, no one believes.

    What's confused me is that you keep commenting on how HB25 refers to theories, and not to how it misrepresents evolutionary process. Maybe that's where I'm lost?


  10. OK, I think I understand the problem now.

    HB25 is poorly written and the author doesn't understand the theory of evolution. The author of the bill is claiming it is the scientific explanation for the origin of living things. If he/she actually bothered to READ the textbook he/she would find out differently.

    In MS anyone (no matter how ill informed) can write a bill and ask their Representative to introduce it. Since the religious right has a lot of power in Mississippi it was probably introduced to appease them.

    For example I could write a bill saying that a sticker should be placed in all Science Textbooks claiming the Flying Spaghetti Monster created life on earth. If I could find a Representative to introduce if for me it would become HB (#) and would be voted on in committee. Where hopefully it would die, since we can both agree that that would be a STUPID thing to require in Science Textbooks.


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