Christopher Halliwell

Secondary Education Physics, Mississippi State University

This conversation is closed.

Should public schools be allowed to teach creation myths in science class?

Should christian political parties be allowed to circumvent the scientific method by using politics to put mythology in science textbooks?

Closing Statement from Christopher Halliwell

This conversation contains strongly differing opinions about public education. However, those who commented in favor of introducing creation myths into science textbooks were always religiously motivated. This is no surprise. Instead of appealing to the validity or truth of their respective creation stories, theses people appealed to "teaching the controversy". My response:

There is no controversy concerning evolution in the scientific community. "Teaching the controversy" of creation stories vs evolution is equivalent to teaching astrology next to astronomy, or alchemy next to chemistry, or magic next to electromagnetism. Without any verifiable claims to test, creation stories are not scientific. Ergo they do not belong in a science textbook.

  • Feb 24 2013: Of course not.
    Ideology, religious beliefs, politics...none of these should not be allowed to steer the curriculum.
    As Lawrence Krauss has stated on numerous occasions...The purpose of education is to not to validate ignorance, but to overcome it.
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      Feb 25 2013: Is it more ignorant to deny information, which creates a taboo around said information. Or, is it more ignorant to allow "ignorant" information to be educated, knowingly?
      • Feb 26 2013: What are you saying here? I honestly don't understand your response.
        Creationism is based on ignorance of the world and how it runs. It denies evidence and replaces it with wishful thinking.
        Just because you want to believe something realllllly bad doesn't make it true. It makes you delusional.
        There is no controversy between the theory of evolution and the hypothesis of creationism and the mountain of evidence supporting evolution has to be what is used to set curriculum not some half baked religious interpretation from a book of myths.
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        Feb 26 2013: Who is denying there are creation myths?
        Who is stopping teaching about them in history or literature or religious studies?
        No issue with debate.
        Just science class is to teach science. Creationism is not science. Its not biology. It's not geology.
        And its not creationism in general they want to teach, just a particular version that fits their theology.

        6 one eyed gods could have created the universe 6 seconds ago as it is now and giving us fake memories. There's a new creation myth for you that is just as falsifiable as many others. And there is another problem. Supernatural claims like this are not falsifiable. It's not science.

        It's almost anti science. Here is something we don't understand fully, so god must have done it.

        There is a time and a place to debate discuss young earth creationist claims etc but science class is not the place to teach non science alongside science.
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    Feb 24 2013: If it were a science, then yes. But as it is a myth, it could be taught in a mythology class, alongside the myths of Thor, Mithra, Odin, and the others.
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    Feb 26 2013: In their current form, public schools should not be allowed.
    Everything after that is moot.

    Minsky is good value.
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    Feb 26 2013: "God created everything" is not a scientific theory, because it is unfalsifiable. It is impossible to have an experiment or an observation that would prove it wrong. Karl Popper wrote: "A theory which is not refutable by any conceivable event is non-scientific. Irrefutability is not a virtue of a theory (as people often think) but a vice." Therefore, creationism does not belong in science class.

    However, in the same essay, Karl Popper writes: "...historically speaking all — or very nearly all — scientific theories originate from myths, and that a myth may contain important anticipations of scientific theories...if a theory is found to be non-scientific, or "metaphysical" (as we might say), it is not thereby found to be unimportant, or insignificant, or "meaningless," or "nonsensical." But it cannot claim to be backed by empirical evidence in the scientific sense — although it may easily be, in some genetic sense, the "result of observation."

    Creation myth is a valuable part of human culture and has many great philosophical points. I see nothing wrong teaching it to kids as such, but outside a science class.
  • Feb 26 2013: No, I don't think so. I'm a Christian, and I happen to believe that God did create the world. I don't dispute evolution either, maybe God used it to create the world or made it look like it was made by evolution. Whatever, that's not the point. Public schools are not the place to discuss that kind of thing. Science is science, with all its limitations and advantages. It shouldn't be tampered with by political/personal views with either an atheist or religious slant.
  • Feb 24 2013: Science class is for the facts. I agree with the current curriculum (I say current being a High School student). While I can appreciate the "inequality" presented by teaching just the facts (I'm assuming you mean that it sort of supports atheistic thinking because the facts coincide with their beliefs), I don't think that SCIENCE class is the place to instill the word of god into the minds of the youth (or Norse creation, Greek creation, etc.). If you really want that taught at a public school, I'd look into English class (or maybe, if you really want to push it, History).

    But science, especially for younger children, is and always has been taken as gospel (yes, I recognize the irony). Including other creation stories that have been disproven is not only dangerous to the children's mental development, it is unscientific. It's like doing algebra in Music Appreciation or something. I wouldn't mind adding the christian creation story to the curriculum of public schools, as long as it went alongside other creation stories, and stayed OUT of science class.
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      Feb 25 2013: WoahWoahWoah, slow your roll. No scientist or student of science should ever believe what they are told strictly based on the authority of the teacher/ professor. "Taken as gospel" is really a statement of believing something based on the authority of the source. Science has no use for this. Either the person presenting the theory has evidence, or they do not. You base your belief or nonbelief in the proposed theory on whether or not you were convinced by the evidence. If the evidence is not convincing, then the teacher did a very poor job explaining the theory.
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        Feb 25 2013: Agreed. But at certain points, scientific facts are articles of faith. When my chemistry teacher taught us about atoms and subatomic particles, I smiled and nodded and memorized what she said. Later, I came to a more complete understanding of the facts and concepts.
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          Feb 25 2013: If you put faith in scientific ideas, that is nobody's fault but your own. With just a little effort, you could have researched the concepts that you did not understand.

          You may have put faith in science, but I do not. My confidence and trust in any specific theory is a direct result of my understanding of the evidence presented for it. If I am not convinced, then I have no right to say I believe based on faith or any other ridiculous reason that some people give for their beliefs.
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    Feb 26 2013: Schools shouldn't teach mythology as science or science as religion.
    I don't see any harm, however, in teaching science as science, religion as religion, and mythology as mythology.
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    Feb 25 2013: Christopher, "Creation myths", Christian Political Parties", "circumvent", "put mythology in" wow.

    You do not want a debate you are looking for a fight with this approach.

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      Feb 26 2013: Robert,

      You are correct in that I used strongly worded descriptions for my title. This was done purposefully to pre-alert all commenters to my personal stance on the topic. I created this conversation to learn more about how the TED community feels about this issue. I appreciate your input.
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        Feb 26 2013: Christopher, You have certainly came to the correct forum (TED) to argue against religion. However, a 2012 Gallup survey reports, "Forty-six percent of Americans believe in the creationist view that God created humans in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years. The prevalence of this creationist view of the origin of humans is essentially unchanged from 30 years ago, when Gallup first asked the question. About a third of Americans believe that humans evolved, but with God's guidance; 15% say humans evolved, but that God had no part in the process."

        National Academy of Sciences states:

        Today, many religious denominations accept that biological evolution has produced the diversity of living things over billions of years of Earth's history. Many have issued statements observing that evolution and the tenets of their faiths are compatible. Scientists and theologians have written eloquently about their awe and wonder at the history of the universe and of life on this planet, explaining that they see no conflict between their faith in God and the evidence for evolution. Religious denominations that do not accept the occurrence of evolution tend to be those that believe in strictly literal interpretations of religious texts.

        —National Academy of Sciences, Science, Evolution, and Creationism

        Since you have taken a position in absolute disagreenment to anything religious being acceptable and I have taken the stance of appreciating both sides of the argument and seeking a plausable solution .... we are at odds and I see no willingness to bend in your position. Therefore I suggest the following quote:

        Let that which is of Ceasar be unto Ceasar and that which is of God be unto God.

        I look forward to conversing with you again on a subject that we can openly discuss and appreciate each others views.

        I wish you well. Bob.
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          Feb 27 2013: Hi RW,

          Are you suggesting that the popularity of creationist beliefs is enough of a reason for it to be taught alongside established biology, geology, cosmology etc?

          I personally have no issue with discussion and debate in the appropriate forums. I just object in principle to special interests and political lobbying getting special treatment for their world views alongside established science, by passing the scientific processes, essentially a free pass for a loud voice.

          My views are reinforced in this case because I support the separation of church and state (schools). I don't think government schools are the appropriate place for religious indoctrination even when creator is disguised as an intelligent designer.

          Any criteria for what special interest topics get taught as alternatives to established science. Put it to a vote at the local education authority? A phone poll? Or just anything you happen to agree with gets in?

          Personally I think science classes should teach the best current established science. If that changes over time, and it will, the curriculum can be updated. If we find evidence of a species of angelic animals, they can be included in biology. If we find gods responsible for the force of gravity, that can go in physics. But lets leave it to scientific processes to decide what the best science is and not special interest groups. Controversy is not the standard by which we decide what goes in school curriculum in my opinion.

          I guess "One nation under god" upsets some US secularists and maybe a few polytheists.
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          Feb 27 2013: Thanks for the reply. I have the same question as Obey. Are you suggesting that the popularity of creationist beliefs is enough of a reason for it to be taught alongside established biology, geology, cosmology etc? If so, what is your reasoning?

          "Since you have taken a position in absolute disagreenment to anything religious being acceptable..."

          That is not what I have said at all. I am against anything nonscientific from being in a science textbook. As soon as ANY religion develops a verifiable claim, we can talk science. As it is, no religion has anything to do with science. In fact, quite the opposite. They tend to resent an effort to actually understand the world we live in. Instead, they seem to only want to take solace in their beliefs. I don't know about you, but I would rather know the sad truth than continue to delude myself in a blissful lie.

          A drunkard can be happier than a sober man, but that's no more to the point.
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        Feb 27 2013: If I were to be taking that stand I would have argued that the lack of popularity would be basis to discontinue the subject of science in education. That is an assumption on your part. Bad science to assume.

        The National Academy of Science, religious leaders and scientists seem to be able to play together nicely. You stated that you used the terms in your explaination intentionally to state your position on religion versus science. You also state in your bio that you are atheist. This appears to be an opportunity for you to grind a anti-religion ax and not really about schools. You also state you are a teacher. As strongly as you have stated your case and anti-religious views I would be concerned for any student who did not share your views.

        If I wanted my children to be education in a religious environment I would send them to a church school or private school based on a religion of my choice.

        I do not know about drunkards ... I will have to trust you on that.
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          Feb 28 2013: Hi rw. It was a question. Not an assumption.

          Actually, not sure if you were replying to me or Chris.
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          Feb 28 2013: I assumed nothing. I asked you.

          My personal anti-theist stance does not affect my belief that myths should not enter a science textbook. Regardless of your spritual beliefs, we should all come to the conclusion that science should be the only thing in science textbooks. I would thank you not to throw ad hominems at me.
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        Feb 28 2013: Obey, To Chris ... There was no reply button for your reply.

        Thanks for taking the time. Bob.
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    Feb 25 2013: Absolutely, given they properly teach evolution theory.

    The suppression of any information will make it leak out regardless of any one or group's objectivism. Allow both evolutionism and creationism, children are more intelligent than we give credit for. (Why? I feel as though parents believe they know what's best, and that blinds them to know children are highly adaptable at young ages - with or without your cognitive awareness of their natural states of mind.)

    WE are talking about children EDUCATION.

    Indeed creationism is unfavorable to those of the scientific community (and who value 'science'), but while we argue this.... We waste time being practical with our scientific achievements - miles of psychological based research being done every moment. While we sit here and worry about how we began? We hardly understand our current conditions.

    There is no question politics and religion go hand in hand... The debate of our founding father's 'God'-based faiths, should be seen along side of their political philosophies... Separation of church and state is idealistic at best. Religion is as personal as it is communal. To neglect the impact religion REALLY has on political manners, is to not realize how a debate like this begins - by distracting you from the real issues.

    Information isn't the problem. I was raised to believe in the Christian-Catholic God but was given the room to guide myself into understanding God is as unique to every individual, let alone religion.

    Let the FUNDAMENTAL Christians win. Creationism should be allowed.

    Real knowledge and knowing cannot be suppressed or eliminated, it can only be ignored.

    If you really feel it is destructive to allow creationism to be taught along side of evolution, you must ask yourself a few things:

    What is it I am afraid of?
    When is more perspective bad?
    How can we expand creationism?
    What makes creationism appealing?
    Is this theory limited to Christianity?
    What is the best argument for/against creationism?
    • Feb 26 2013: In terms of deciding curriculum your questions are poorly chosen and biased to the creationism side.
      If you are teaching science you need to define what science is to start with.
      If you do, you will realize that creationism is religion dressed up.
      If you want to "teach the controversy" you have to first understand that there is no controversy. There are only a few strident fundamentalists screaming in the dark that their interpretations of a few pages of their magic book in interpreted their way. To give it the time it is worth in an average school year is to spend about 5 minutes on it.
      Evolution has been around since before Darwin and has mountains of evidence for it.
      Creationism has no evidence and no working theory to replace it.
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        Feb 26 2013: Your ENTIRE position is biased, while I attempt to find a middle ground, you have no other motive besides to side with your beliefs. I know you won't understand the irony, so I will try to explain as clearly as possible.

        Science has no unifying definition, and if you consider Kuhn (Structure of Scientific Revolutions) to be the best explanation and way to define what science is and how it works... Then we haven't taught science right in school for generations. As science takes consensus, community, consistency and higher practices of the above. Oh which, by the way, theologian cultures have similar systems of checks and balances.

        Creationism isn't religion, it's a theory that originates from religious doctrines. Which, is not strictly bound by religious scripture but also philosophers and scientist - but you wouldn't know that since you are so fundamental about your beliefs....

        Never once did I use the word controversy, in fact, I made it very clear, it would be obvious to children that if we taught both creationism and evolutionism, the child THEMSELVES would figure out the truth, without your flawed objective views.

        Creationist, if they are genuine, understand evolution may be a part of the creation process and God had designed us to evolve in a certain way over time... You cannot disprove this idea... And to deny it with no reflection, is stupid.

        My questions are not in favor of anything besides opening up the debate.

        More perspective is never bad. Understanding the arguments for creationism can make evolutionist more equipped to debate. Understanding alternative creation stories/myths/theories and/or expanding them - will grant more awareness.

        See? while your approach actually proves more limiting, it ultimately would create a taboo. Mine would get children to your desired objective "goals" anyways, but without actually being an objectivist with education. And being pragmatic or existential.
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      Feb 26 2013: It's not about suppression. No one is burning bibles or churches in the US.

      Have the debate in debating class if you like.

      Teach creation myths in humanities.

      It's a slippery slope to let special religious interests hijack any subject. Do you really think evolution would be taught fairly along side a particular interpretation of supernatural creation?

      Let the peer review process deal with scientific controversies. Even most new peer reviewed scientific findings turn out wrong (especially in medicine). But over time they get improved or discarded. Teach the established scientific theories like evolution not any special interest religiously inspired hypothesis, especially accredited ones like ID.

      So happy to debate in schools, but not to teach special religious interests.
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      Feb 26 2013: Actually information can be suppressed e.g. North Korea. Although it is harder in open societies and with the internet?

      Do you actually think US citizens who want to learn creationism can not find information outside of science classes?

      Creationism is not suppressed, its just not appropriate for science class. Is everything not taught in science class suppressed?

      Creation stories come from religions. And the creation story ID proponents want taught is a version that is compatible with their particular theology. It is disingenuous to claim creationism has nothing to do with religion, even when the replace creator with intelligent designer.

      I suggest you are mixing up the question of what should be taught in science class with censorship.

      I'm happy if they even acknowledge there is a controversy at the start of th class but then teach science.

      Not letting special religious interests inject non science into science classes is not total censorship or suppression, its about teaching science and not being a tool for religious indoctrination.

      From distant memory I think you will find in the Dover trial ID failed the religious test, and is unconstitutional to be taught in state schools.

      Separating church and state is not total censorship. People are free to express their views just not via state instruments such as public schools.
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        Feb 26 2013: You're begging the question.

        And avoiding my positions entirely.

        Who cares if it is in science class? Most of the people on TED are guilty of overstating what science is anyways.

        If the debate continues, in which pushes creationism out of science class, that won't stop anything. In fact it will help the fundamentalist cause of spreading their ideologies - they will have MORE reason to keep being closed minded.

        Like most of you are being here.

        Creationism - intelligent design - is not only limited to Christianity or theologians but philosophers/scientist.

        Indeed, a giant premise of creationism is faith based, but you have no idea how much evolution actually is.... It's a theory! Yes, we evolved, but HOW, WHAT exactly evolves we have very little idea...

        If at any point creationism is getting more favored in a classroom than evolution theory, than guess what? Looks like neoatheist, and non-religious folk are going to actually need to organize instead of being militant for militant sakes.

        Religion isn't going away, to be arrogant enough to suppress a LARGE group's desire to want to bring their traditions of science into the schools, let them. Be the bigger people.

        Most people overstate the word 'science' so often, the word gets devalued and is made into an alternative religious ideology. Maybe with some information which is 'clearly' not science ina science class, children can decide for themselves.

        Because, again, this isn't about you all, it's about children.

        They will be able to filter the information being paralleled with it's contrary position. To try and protect and prevent this religious agenda of creationism in school, will only backfire overtime.

        Essentially, Obey, stop being petty, and put faith real knowledge will always outshine falsehoods.

        But the question of God should be as scientific as any other question, because it is open still and like I said above/below - this neoatheist trend needs to hit the limelight or its just pathetic
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          Feb 27 2013: How am I begging the question?
          Because science is naturalistic and deals with falsifiable claims?
          Because most views of creationism have a religious or supernatural context.
          Because intelligent designer is generally code for a god.

          I also have a different view of what a scientific theory is. Its not the same thing as colloquial usage. Look it up.

          I do acknowledge the prevalent theories may be updated or discarded at any time when a better one comes along. If a better alternative comes along than evolution, happy to teach that. But creationism or any other views shouldn't bypass the peer review process etc just because some people don't agree with the science. Have you thought through the precedent of teaching whatever influential special interests groups want rather than the best science?

          Maybe we have different ideas of what science is.
          I work in a Research organisation so I might have a different perspective to you.

          I'm all for the debate. But in the proper place.

          You seem to be implying I'm a neo atheist. I've been an atheist long before the current trends. I'm not really an antitheist either. I support freedom of religion, along with the separation of church and state. This issue relates to the latter.

          Yes it is about the children. They deserve to be taught the best science and not be the playthings of special religious interest groups. Science class is not the place to teach every social controversy, or even worse selectively inject certain religious views that sit outside science.

          Science class is also not the place to aggressively compare and debunk religious beliefs such as creationism or young earth. Just teach the science.

          It's not petty to keep science for science class and the debate where it belongs. It is a sound principle, not petty.

          Perhaps the pettiness is on the other side unhappy that their beliefs are not being given special treatment to be taught alongside the established science.

          Anyway good discussion. Ta.
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          Feb 27 2013: NL, just some thoughts on your last points :
          "But the question of God should be as scientific as any other question"

          I suggest it is. We have applied the scientific method for a few hundred years and found no empirical evidence of gods. I'm afraid invisible, immaterial, transcendent, entities outside of the reality we can test and observe, are concepts that the scientific method is not built for.

          I agree we don't know if any beings outside of the reality we can test and observe exist or not. We really don't know what a reality outside the one we can test or observe means, or exists other than a human concept, let alone any beings in it.

          "this neoatheist trend needs to hit the limelight or its just pathetic"
          I don't think the separation of church and state (schools), or protecting science classes from special interests is just a neoatheist issue. As a parent, I want my daughter taught science in science class not the loudest special interest getting special treatment. Do you understand that. I don't care if it is creationism or something pro homosexuality that is not established science.

          No issue debating or discussing the issue elsewhere.

          Why should creationism get special treatment and not some equally speculative non established pro homosexual or pro feminism or pro racism special interests. Because they have the loudest voice?

          In Australia we don't have a formal separation of church and state. In fact our head of state, of our constitutional monarchy, is the English Queen who is also the head of the Church of England. The Christian lobby has managed to get religious instruction (mainly Christian) and chaplains into state schools, which I also object to as a parent who supports secularism and freedom of religion and is antimonarchy. You might like it here. No constitution to prevent religious views (including sanitised creationism) being included in state curriculum.

          Do you support the separation of church and state?
          Do you accept ID is not established sc
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      Feb 26 2013: Your position seems to be heavily biased. Firstly, you seem to have a poor understanding of evolution. Your prejudice toward this proven fact implies you have a deep distrust of science. I impore you to cast aside any preconcieved notions or misinformation that you may have acquired in your religious indoctrination. As you study science, you will notice that it only deals with observable phenomena in nature. Religious views, however, are not based on verifiable information, nor does it claim to be contained within nature. Creation myths stem from a lack of understanding of the natural world. Since creation myths are always of a supernatural variety, they cannot be studied by science. Science only studies nature.

      Essentially, I would like to you to start from scratch. Pretend that you know nothing about evolution or the scientific method and do some research. You will be surprised what you learn.

      However, this topic is not about evolution, or any specific theory. This thread is about the movement of religiously motivated politicians attempting to put non-scientific fairy tales put in scientific textbooks. I look forward to your reply.

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        Feb 26 2013: You don't know me Chris, so it's understandable how you can misunderstand my position.

        It's one that is a middlist, which values non-extremism. Had you read my profile, Einstein himself has something to say about trusting authority figures with information. We shouldn't entirely.

        Science is not this flawless system of checks and balances. Since this conversation is talking about education and children - how about how science has allowed our youth to be pumped up with drugs? Not "science" fault? Political issue? Odd, they seem so closely associated, don't they? Since science developed the drugs, pharmaceutical companies campaign for their usage with scientist being the reliable sources. Indeed, a distrust of science, but not deep, just the right amount. To not give faith to a disconnected body of men (especially Western scientist) who are known to be sexist, racist and straight out white supremest - maybe not consciously, but their actions prove otherwise. (Check out feminist epistemology)

        I am biased? While I attempt to look at what both sides of the debate can offer, your debate premises are not - you are proposing the idea of creationism in science classrooms is not tolerable. You have presented nothing but biased notions here. My only bias is to not have bias - which is a catch 22.

        "As you study science" this indicates a lot of what I have said already on this conversation.. you can't just study 'science' it isn't a linear practice.. a scientist isn't a master of science, but a master of a specific specialized science...

        Creation myths are as ancient as any other stories we have in anthropology and humanities. To dismiss them, dismisses our human lineage, which is clearly based on science/history, since the above are SCIENCES.

        I read a good amount of evolutionary psychology, I can probably teach you a thing or two... lol which at this point is obvious.

        Your last statement is, again, clear to your biased position.
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          Feb 27 2013: Nobody claimed that science is flawless. However science does check for flaws and corrects them if the evidence requires. Your position, on the other hand, is immutable. No amount of evidence could ever sway someone who's decision is based on faith. Faith is lack of a good reason to believe. If you believe based on faith, then what reason could you possibly have to accept actual evidence?

          Yes, you are biased. Anyone who rejects evolution is either misinformed, or has not ever heard of it. Evolution is a fact. Welcome to the present day.

          I would love for you to "teach" me something about evolution. I look forward to your "information" that you got from a creationist website about how evolution is impossible.

          /sarcasm off
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        Feb 27 2013: Hi CH, suggest we are all a bit biased, not just the people who disagree with us.

        In this case I just think the case to make a special exception for creationism to be snuck into science class alongside established science doesn't stack up. All the principles or free speech, being against censorship etc is just a smoke screen.

        You don't get to teach a special interest view on history that is not established history such as holocaust denial as an alternative to established history in history class. Similarly science class should not be used to give equal status to the loudest special interest world views alongside established science. That is the principle.

        In addition, the US constitution prohibits the state establishing religion. Now they are no longer trying to teach Genesis 1 and 2 as science, but creationism or intelligent design is inherently religious in a non dogmatic sense. It supports the abrahamic monotheistic belief systems. It's not a Buddhist view or polytheist view. Imagine the text saying "the intelligent designer or designers", to fit in the polytheistics. May need some more changes to fit in Wiccans or Scientologists.
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        Feb 27 2013: Scientist are people too.

        Too assume they are people that NEVER exchange political exploitation (money for research) in return for favors, of the sort which are profitable either academically or monetarily...

        You're right no one is claiming science is perfect, but when you dictate science as being the answer to the holy question "how does one live life?" - well, guess what, sounds pretty religious to me.

        Scientific research is far from perfect, but what helps is theorizing - what you guys are talking about when you say it corrects itself.. But that, SLIGHT idea change takes a mountain of effort and work to do culturally, it's but people still talk about greek philosophers like they were born yesterday. It's maddening. Depending on the special field, there will be a general few paradigms these fields educate within. Necessary for development.

        You're putting faith into an abstract idea of science. And defending it by saying scientific method or reason, or logic... That's because the neoatheist trend is very real. The paradigm of a culture originating in scientific communities, being watered down into propaganda (at times) and philosophical scaffolding (most of the time).

        Faith isn't inherently irrational. It's what you decide to apply the faith to. Are you irrational for putting faith in science? (Or any type of strong belief) Eh, who is to say what irrationality really is? It's a more recent question of cog sci. We seem like we can be logical creatures, but we are not computers at the same time looking at ourselves like a computer makes us seem more like one and better understand ourselves. Yet, we still do not objectively understand these parts of our thinking which would be consider irrational to use in a certain sequence.

        Do you even know what the word biased means?

        Clearly I READ about evolution, in psych and humanities (namely culture studies).

        Biology is only one field to apply evolution too.

        Most creationist agree to microevolution, guy.
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          Feb 28 2013: Yes scientists are people with all the human dynamics and weaknesses that brings.

          Its competitive. In the end the model or conclusions that best fit the evidence win out,until something better is found.

          The steady state universe was the most accepted view until we found evidence the universe was expanding at an accelerating rate.

          Im not sure irrational is the right word, but based on my understanding it would be misguided to assume science is a perfect process and not subject to human dynamics.

          How do you define faith? If its believing something without sufficient evidence, well maybe irrational is a bit strong a term, for some situations, but it is fair to ask whether the belief is justified in terms of being correct. It is a different question to consider if it is useful.

          I think my view of science is more balanced than the straw man you present. Its not perfect but it works better than any other process for understanding the universe. The evidence it works is in the technology we have from applying it.

          Religious belief is understandable given our biological and cognitive make up. But does that make all religious beliefs correct. If they provide some personal or social benefits, that does not make them correct.

          My view is not all beliefs have equal standing in terms of evidence to support them.

          Are all religious beliefs rational given your current understanding of the universe. Is it rationale to assume gods are responsible for lightening, floods, mass murders etc. Is believing in Scientology rational? Is there sufficient evidence to believe the angel Gabriel dictated the Quran to muhumad over many years. Is there sufficient evidence to believe in Mormon beliefs about planets with Mormon gods. Was Buddha really born from his mothers side after she was impregnated by a beam of light.

          So is it rational to have faith in extraordinary claim without sufficient evidence?. Or is personal religious experience and intuitive feelings enough?
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          Feb 28 2013: I ran out of space.

          Just wanted to ask if you were suggesting that if something is commonplace than it always rational?
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    Feb 25 2013: The myth of evolution-creationism should be taken out of the schools.
    Government should neither support nor infringe upon any religion, and currently public schools preach atheism via evolution-creationism and thus support a religion.
    That is not to say evolution is a myth or religion, just that preaching evolution-creationism as the complete story is only a myth.

    For example; it is true that flowers evolved to attract more pollen-feeding-insects, pollen-feeding-insects evolved to better use flowers. But pollen-feeding-insects could have not have survived before flowers, nor could have flowers survived before pollen-feeding-insects.
    And that is just one example of how evolution-creationism takes giant leaps of faith to believe in.
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      Feb 25 2013: Evolution has nothing to do with atheism. Public schools all around the world are teaching evolution because it is a demonstrable fact.

      The myths in question are the creation stories that every culture has invented. Now that you better understand the topic of discussion, perhaps you could make a positive contribution to the conversation.
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        Feb 25 2013: WOW! Try reading a post before replying to it.
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          Feb 25 2013: As a matter of fact, I read your entire post before replying to it. You strayed off-topic by accosting evolution. This thread is not about the validity of any specific scientific theory. The topic of this thread is about your opinion on the political efforts to introduce creation stories into science textbooks.

          If you reply to this message, please remember to stay on topic.

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        Feb 25 2013: And my point was that the myth of creation via evolution is in the science textbooks, and should not be.
        Science textbooks should not have any creation myth in them, including evolution as a source of creation.

        Science textbooks could have a section on common theories of creation and that should include the today’s common religions including Christians, Atheism, Buda, etc.

        You question is based on the premise that public schools currently don’t teach a creation myth and that is based on a premise that creation via evolution is a fact and not a theory. In all questions we need to examine the premises that base the question.
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          Feb 26 2013: Why in science textbooks. Sounds like history. Or the history of science. Or the study of religions.
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          Feb 26 2013: Ah, so you have a deep distrust of science I see. If you cast aside your prejudice, you may just learn something. Evolution is a fact. Your religious indocrination is a lie, and just mere 30 minutes of research would prove it. Take the time to learn, you'll thank me later I promise you.
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      Feb 25 2013: Don is correct,

      This year in my Cog-Sci class, my professor made a point of noting popular creationist and evolutionist, and their arguments for their respective positions and counter-positions.

      I am one to note the 'neoatheist' trend which is rising in this nation, let alone world. This trend, movement or what have you - is an unconscious paradigm (I have no other way to phrase it).

      The 'atheist beliefs' are the foundation for the arguments. The Four Horsemen of New Age Atheism, anyone? All writers and scholars and SCIENTIST who write with these predisposed attitudes towards fundamentalism, and namely (more specifically) Judea-extremism.

      The word 'religion' may get a lot of you atheist uptight, but let me assure you - the way most of you will define religion is not universal, but usually only involves the Abrahamics. Religion is also defined as the relationship with God - atheism is basically saying "I am God" - the difference between the alpha and omega, the creator of reality.... Why call this God? Because this momentary thinking is 'Godly' - the difference between true understanding and falsehoods - the kingdom of heave or hell.

      Indeed, all of you Atheist believe religion is irrational. However, with developed studies of cog psych, research in cog psych of religion are able to determine moments where a fundamentalist FEELS 'God' is achieved by those who are profound disbelievers of God. This state of mind (God-feeling) is in all of us. How we all activate is dependent on our belief systems.

      Neoatheism IS a disorganized religion today, it just looks more like a movement. It is not 'bad' per say, but it is bad when those who claim 'atheism' do not realize they are being religious to a degree.

      At the point atheist go to meetings once a week, is the day when we realize religion is not the enemy. Fundamentalism, and namely extremism are the potential enemy...

      Don believes evolution is in 'myth' form, and very much it is, as it is a theory and fact.
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        Feb 26 2013: I'm not a theist. I don't believe in any gods or goddesses. I also don't consider myself a god.
        Just a human, homo sapian, a mammal that breast fed as a children, a primate with an amazing brain and consciousness.

        You might consider being careful not top assume you know what "all of you" anythings believe.
        Maybe follow your own advice. You claim all atheists define religion in regards to the Abrahamic religions. I don't. It's just most the theists we bump into in the West are Christians.

        Why isn't it irrational to believe your subjective cultural or experiential interpretation of a psychological experience is the correct one and all the other contradictory interpretations from similar experiences are wrong?

        Don't we know enough about the brain to know how so called religious experiences are brain activity leveraging different cognitive mechanisms. We you meditate or pray and feel that connection MRI's show the brain at work. Now we can not tell if there is some supernatural connection. but we know there is a natural mechanism at play. Denying the experiences is irrational. Assuming a supernatural dimension or particular religious interpretation of these experiences is also irrational.

        Atheists meeting up doesn't make it a religion. Are there atheist groups yes. Humans are social and meet for all sorts of reasons. I suggest sports fans are more religious than most atheists.

        I agree Buddhism and perhaps Confucionism have fulfilled a religious role in many societies with out gods. I would consider them a type or religion or something close to it.

        Not having a theist belief is a long way from being a religion even if some gather together. Are political parties religions? Are Justin Beiber fans part of a religion?

        No argument that there are some group dynamics at play with some atheists. But you need more than group dynamics to call something a religion.

        How do you define religion in a way that having no theist beliefs is a religion?
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          Feb 26 2013: All your statements are indicative of your atheism beliefs.

          You may not want to say your 'God' but you want me to prove things to you? And not in generalities? Because what I am saying conflicts with what you belief, that cause problems, no? Why? Because a feeling of discomfort... I would go as far to assume that discomfort can be comparable to a Christian when someone says "God is bullshit"... You think/thought you have a grasp even on your own thoughts, but are unaware of how determined your thinking is..

          Atheism has done some harm to developing cultures. While the ideas used to be counter-Judea have backfired. Beliefs, religion, supernatural... These are ideas which are ANCIENT to give no benefit to their usage is ignorant. And many are guilty of saying "I have no beliefs" "religion is evil" "supernatural thoughts are wasteful" - without even entertaining the thought, NOW THAT IS PLAYING GOD - to be so arrogant as to not even think about the contradictory thought.

          I would go as far to say every human being has these feelings of being God. However, for those who believe in a creator/omni-being ... well they can achieve those feelings in more ways than someone who does not. However, all feelings - yet, these feelings do come back to a God-idea.

          Do I seem to at any point be campaigning a specific religion? No. I am dictating that religion is a natural condition to human beings, and as long as there are groups who keep denying such a reality with their belief systems... We are not going to progress as well..

          Indeed, because sport fans talk about God and ethics and knowledge - smart comparison...

          All we know, as of now, in cog studies is we do have this drive to know metaphysical questions... one of those questions is an original creator, it's a natural mechanism to question such ideas of the above. Take my word for it, and if you don't cog psych of religion, have a blast learning something anti-atheism movement.

          Religion is both personal and social
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        Feb 27 2013: You can assume whatever you like about what I think and feel, just don't expect your assumptions are correct. And don't put words in my mouth.

        People who don't have god beliefs are just as diverse as those who do.

        Do you realise you are stereotyping and generalising in the extreme

        I guess we disagree and agree on a lot of things. I'm not sure why you think I feel uncomfortable.

        I have beliefs.
        Did I say religion is evil? Don't put words in my mouth.
        Did I say you were campaigning for a specific religion?
        Did I say God is bullshit? Don't put words in my mouth.

        When you get on a bit further in your cog studies you might take more care in jumping to conclusions, projecting your generalisations onto to people with limited data, to making a diagnosis with no data etc.

        Also, from a debate perspective you have gone ad hominem, rather than deal with my points.

        Buddhist meditation, atheist meditation does not come back to a god idea.

        I agree that religious or supernatural type beliefs seems to reflect our cognitive make up. We seem inclined to assume agency, we hallucinate and jump to intuitive conclusions etc.
        We search for meaning and understanding and build belief systems about how the universe works. Just some are supported by more evidence than others. We worry about dying. And we have language ability to pass on knowledge and culture from one general to the next.

        I'm also all for freedom of religion. Not only do I think people should have this right, it also provides a space for non religious people.

        I also understand how strongly religious belief can become part of a persons identity.

        I'm not sure what your anti atheist stereotype rant has to do with the topic.

        Do you support the separation of church and state?

        Can all the different religious beliefs be correct?

        Is the susceptibility of humans to be religious or have supernatural beliefs proof of gods?

        Is the prevalence of religious beliefs a reason to include creationism in science class?
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          Feb 27 2013: We've argued before, I don't put words, I do assume. Assumptions is all we have - I cannot read your mind and can only gather so much from reading your comments.

          I admit my hostility here is high. Yet, the minority here is creationism, and for this word to even have any value you have to understand there are a great number of minds behind this movement of information.

          Consider saying "no" to the future Buddhist researcher who wants to sell a meditation session procedure + brain 'zap' = in order to alter our minds into transcendence, arguablely, unnaturally.

          Why would you say no to such amazing knowledge....? (Same mindset as the fundamentalist of any religion, but not as good of an example..) However, if anything you respond to said answer becomes projected as hostile in the negation of their absolute ideologies... Dilemmas occur.

          Let me put my thoughts in another way...

          Early Creationism of the American Funda. Christian Movements (working title) - would actually drive the scientific community into a huge theologian 'conflict of conditionals' - but, ultimately - Evolutionism would actually grow stronger as movement of thought within scientific communities. Paradigms in every field of scientific study would be reflective of evolutionary studies - biology majorly of course. Mr. Dawkins would inspire a new generation of irreligious thoughts.

          Now, ignoring most of your questions...

          Controversy can do so much more for objective knowledge, than believing there are absolutes. Understanding both sides of the argument better prepares you to support yours with their knowledge. Creationist make arguments for microevolution all the time. They will not reject facts, just merely alter their interpretation. But life is all about interpretations through perspectives. That's where my mind is at while we continue debating.

          We are talking education. Not epistemology or virtues of scientific exploration. Education comes first, and foremost. In this debate, for me.
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          Feb 27 2013: 1.Of course there are diverse people in general, but the fact is when you label 'atheist' you place yourself into this religious battle of 'science v religion' and get into ridiculous semantic disputes. Religion is as individual as communal. For those who are irreligious under the label 'atheist' are neoatheist or new agey -atheism, agnosticism, theism, and gnosticism are qualities of a religious foundation - God. "Religion is one's personal relationship with God" - You have no relationship with "God"? Some may say "you are missing out." Others, "that's okay God is there anyways." A few, "whatever God is love/Goodness - as long as you are strong with those virtues, you are with God"

          2. God is an ancient idea, not going away, expanding it in school would be devastating for future generation of fundamental Christianity. Christianity of course never going away - but, will evolve and grow with facts and truths which are unchangeable by efforts of research through passionate and dedicated, philosophers and scientist. Expand any thought, it will blow up with more questions.

          3. Again, Never meant to put words, I was generalizing - but your arguments for "science" are indicative from all of the above... your background of knowledge foundational for learning... Your thought paradigm... We have argued before, it has taken a lot of dialogue for you to open up as more than an atheist - although you keep labeling thoughts as such. Even indirectly. "Science" this "science" that - these are attitudes of this movement.

          4. Again, semantics...

          Indeed, 'peak experience' 'enlightenment' 'satori' - these ideas/conditions are not necessary of "God" in any sense or even usage of the phrase. You're right, absolutely, but at the same EXACT time. More people will understand the idea of 'satori', in the West, with ideas of God attached. Religious Knowledge - Epistemology.

          5. We are God my brother. You and I. Without us, there is no beginning nor end. All powerful with imagination
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          Feb 27 2013: 6. Church and state will never separate - "Church" being the symbol of religion - religion will always effect decisions. Making my original point with founding fathers important! I understand you are not American, but America inspires this world, it is a commodity - era-based philosophy is usually European-N. American in general. Central figures for all first world nation... A lot of people today are "religious naturalist" like, ancient Greek philosophers, Pagan, polytheism - naturalism. These inspiring thoughts of nature being the means of understand reality, through natural philosophy (science)... That becomes their religion. Religion is a part of the human patterned natures.

          7. I never attack person or character. I attacked your thoughts. Ignorance does not reflect personality - only knowledge/intelligence. The word ignorance has terrible taboo - but, the idea one receives from another as having something more of 'knowledge' seems personal at times. Not my intention. My intention was to insight such an open response and multiplicity, I think I got that.

          We should exchange more info Obey! You have always been the Aristotle to my Socratic thinking.

          8. Yes... To be a fair society, to be ubermen, to be better than who we ARE - we must always allow majority to rule. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few... What keeps the majority distracted from ruling is minority thinking. Although NEEDED and REQUIRED for a society to be virtuous, minority should work with the majority... And attacking core beliefs, seems to be an issue with transferring data between humans.

          9. It is not a question of creationism, itself. It is a question of education. To deny information which can be relative to other, better information... Never a bad thing.

          10. Fear... May be why people do not want creationism taught in science. Without evolutionism, there would be no creationism and vice versa. It is all giant conflicts of science... More conflicts like that are good.
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        Feb 28 2013: Thanks for the comprehensive comments.

        We actually agree in some aspects, but are perhaps talking about slightly different things.

        I agree religious beliefs and other values will inform humans who govern us. For me secular government is about government not forcing these views on the people.

        So forcing atheists and politheists to say one nation under god crosses the line.

        Using government land or resources for just one religion crosses the line.

        You can't stop people voting with their conscience, but using government resources to support or favour religion crosses a line we can protect.

        Suggest the best democracies to live in protect minority rights.

        Didn't Aristotle get in trouble for not honouring the gods. And anger Alexander for criticising his claims of divinity. Happy to be associated with him.

        Now I understand some of your comments. They are based on previous discussions. I may have slightly softened my approach and outlook.

        One thing that stood out for is using controversy as a enough of a reason to teach something in science class. We may just have to agree to disagree on this issue.

        If science found good evidence we were designed, I'd accept that. Although I'd probably assume aliens most likely unless we found evidence of a creator god. But the most popular definitions these days seem to be for something outside time and space, immaterial etc whatever that means. To me its a bit like describing something that you can not detect because it doesn't actually exist. What is the spirit realm. What reliable information do we have that it exists as more than a concept. Oops off topic. Don't answer.

        Also, seems fair to assume the burden of proof is on the theist, not the non believer.
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        Feb 28 2013: You demonstrate your prejudice yet again. There is no such thing as a set of "atheistic beliefs", since the only thing all atheists have in common is a lack of belief in any deity. We do not have any tenents or rules or requirements. Buddhists are atheists. Infants are atheists. Most Japanese people are atheists. Merely being unconvinced of the existence of a diety makes you an atheist.

        I hope you take the time to learn about the people you ignorantly condemn.
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    Feb 24 2013: Myths and metaphors are an important first stage of a thinking process. I think it helps throw the first rays of light into the dark recesses of yet-to-be-discovered knowledge.

    Once we are able to throw more light into that darkness and things becomes more certain, it can then move from the Mythology class, through the philosophy classes and into the Science class. Education generally should reflect the way we think and neither science or mythology should be dismissed as one without the other - but they do have their correct place.

    The problem arises when we get too entrenched in mythology and unwilling to move on to accept the facts that arise from it.
    • Feb 24 2013: " Myths and metaphors are an important first stage of a thinking process. I think it helps throw the first rays of light into the dark recesses of yet-to-be-discovered knowledge. "

      Why myths and metaphors rather than reason and logic should be first stage of a thinking process?

      "Once we are able to throw more light into that darkness and things becomes more certain"

      Science goal is to throw more light into any "darkness". I see myths to be quite the opposite, creating false views and creating confusion with unreal tales and stories.

      "Education generally should reflect the way we think and neither science or mythology should be dismissed as one without the other - but they do have their correct place."

      So which myths, religious beliefs, mystic, supernatural, psychic beliefs will you teach and can anyone make up their own beliefs? How will you deal with opposite beliefs that contradict science and each other? Wouldn't this lead to a chaos?
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        Feb 24 2013: Because reason and logic follow intuition - in that order. If all thinking was only down to reason and logic, how would we perceive anything lying just outside the reach of empirical knowledge? Reason and logic make decisions based on 'what is' and intuition and metaphor form pathways to 'what could be' - an essential hierarchy, if knowledge is to move forward into pioneering territory.

        Mythology is just metaphor with the volume turned up. It helped the ancients to perceive something in the absence of science to clearly define it.

        As intuition is an evolved function of the human brain, I am personally loath to dismiss it, or indeed any closely related function that helps the intuitive process - like metaphor.

        Sometimes metaphor can be much more powerful in solidifying one's perceptions of 'definition' within chaotic or complex entities. As an example, I am more likely to find the red-giant Betelgeuse in the night sky because I know it is situated in the constellation Orion; I know where to look, because the ancient mythological image of a warrior's belt and sword in the stars, leads me to it.

        If Betelgeuse blows into supernova within my lifetime and I see a bright light coming somewhere from the direction of Orion, I'll know exactly what it is - because ancient mythology has guided my perceptions through to spectacular science and astrophysics.
        • Feb 25 2013: I agree that intuition has its important role. However I don't see it being more important than reason and logic.

          "Mythology is just metaphor with the volume turned up. It helped the ancients to perceive something in the absence of science to clearly define it."

          Yes I agree and I think it is a good subject in the history class but not in the science class?

          "Sometimes metaphor can be much more powerful in solidifying one's perceptions of 'definition' within chaotic or complex entities."

          It's good to use metaphors and I don't think anyone objects in using them. However mythology is not scientific and again it should be kept in history or philosophy classes, not science classes. The purpose of basic education is to allow kids to understand how our society and world works without being drawn into thousand contradicting beliefs of their parents and communities?

  • Feb 24 2013: I agree that religion should not be included in science classes. Although humankind over thousands of years attempted to understand the unknown and developed myths in massive attempts at searching for answers, it would not be correct to classify all of man's beliefs as untrue by classifying every non-science belief as myth. People somehow know there is more than what is observed by sight or other senses or by scientific observation with varying exploration.

    It is not right for people to demand others accept their beliefs. Religious affiliation is OK for individuals, but to demand others give up their will and become subservient to a doctrine is not a concept Jesus taught his followers, a group identity later to become known as Christian. Neither should scientists demand of believers of any doctrine or theology to give up their experiences.

    Let science attempt to explain the beginnings of material reality! Science has this invitation to do so. Let people search for truth through philosophic exploration of the scientific unknown details of possible realities. There is no need for man to fight over these things. Let man have his beliefs.

    What matters most is our relationships with one another! We can be civil and loving and that is the pathway to peace---real peace. There are other details on this pathway. Putting others down is not a scientific requirement nor is it a core belief of Christians or others.
  • Feb 24 2013: Myths are taught in literature class, and should be.
  • Mar 1 2013: But Chris if we add "ology" to the end of the word, it becomes science. That's why we have doctors of theology. And I want to become a unicorn vet when I grow up... ;)

    I am with you my friend, for the most part, but just wanted to clarify a point. Any human construct to date is subject to change as humans evelove (or not), religion included. But we are in full agreement that human evolution has been stunted by religious thinking, and the rush to move God to the science classroom seen in far too many places in this country (your current address not excepted) is more of the same.

    Arkady, religion IS a threat to folks talking like Chris is. In Mississippi, where just a few weeks ago they finally ratified the abolition of slavery (140 years late), talking like Chris has could get you killed; indeed the guy who finally ratified slavery has already been getting threats. And despite the outward leanings of the organizational church (the Southern Baptists actually voted in support of desegregation in the early 60's), there is no doubt in my mind I can go find preachers in the Deep South who would happily provide me with biblical "proof" of the white man's superiority to this very day.

    Entrenched belief is not easily swayed by political musings or even factual presentation of scientific evidence; look at the belief or disbelief of global warming. It is not surprising to find in my country it breaks down along conservative vs. liberal lines, closely mirrored by religious belief (conservatives being far more likely to be religious). INdeed it has become so much a factor of the belief system vs. science, that belief in science is lower among many conservatives than the belief in God.

    And THAT'S dangerous. REALLY dangerous. Because you can sell somebody who thinks like that anything. Genocide as patriotism, prejudice as duty, belief as science... we have too many examples to count. People like that are far more dangerous to me and the world at large than gay guys marrying.
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      Mar 2 2013: I understand all of that. However, it is incorrect (as in "contradicts observations") to say that ALL religious people are racist, sexist, anti-homosexual, genocidal, anti-science, etc. I did not live in the U.S. South. My experience with religion is a lot different. Religious people I meet are tolerant and kind. There are churches in my city explicitIy welcoming homosexuals.

      I do not like the tendency to label and associate religion with depravity. People use religion to justify what they have in their own heart. What they have in their heart does not come from religion or science. It comes from their heart.

      I still stand by my words - it does not make sense to get angry at intolerant people. How does it help to fight intolerance? "If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn't part of ourselves doesn't disturb us." -- Hermann Hesse.

      What does help is to always question our own opinions and attitudes - be it in science or religion.
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        Mar 2 2013: That's a very good point. Not all proponents of religion are homophobic, sexist, support slavery or anti science etc.

        Mind you often the source materials are.

        So full credit to them for seeing past that.
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      Mar 2 2013: ology, doesn't it just mean a field of study.
      Theology is a field of study, but perhaps not a science in the strictest sense.
      After all it typically starts by assuming something divine exists with no compelling evidence which is the antithesis of modern science.
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      Mar 2 2013: Theology is not a scientific discipline.

      In order to be a scientific discipline, the field of study in question would need to make verifiable predictions. Since theology is the study of the concept of god, it has no testable claims.

      I am appalled that you would take this issue to lightly. This thread is about a critically important issue. There are crazy people in Tennessee right now that are trying to change the laws to prevent evolution from being taught in school. For your information, they are doing things much worse! Do some research and you would know that they are also trying to pass a law that would require all teachers to tell a student's parent if they suspect their child is homosexual.

      If you still think any religion is a force for good in this world, I implor you to reconsider.
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    Mar 1 2013: Christopher, forgive me if what I say may sound like preaching to you. Writing this does not make me any better than you.

    I may be wrong, but in your question and in some of your replies, I sense some anger. I could find a dozen Bible quotes on anger, but if you prefer evolution, I can try to explain why anger is destructive and I recommend to get rid of this attitude.

    You may agree that our emotions are a product of evolution. It's also understandable why we catch emotions of each other as social species. When one person feels fear, others start to feel fear too even if they don't know the reason. Likely, it helped our ancestors to survive. Likewise, when you smile to others, others smile to you. When you are angry at other people, other people become defensive and angry at you. It's very simple. Anger often results from fear as a self-defense mechanism - also explainable by evolution.

    What are you afraid of? Do you feel threat from religion? Even if it is so, if you react with anger, you will meet anger in response. What can be the result of it?
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    Feb 28 2013: One aspect of the creationist or intelligent design position that doesn't seem to be mentioned below is they are basically saying we don't know, or can not imagine any natural way that life could start, or certain biological features such as the immune system or bacterial flagellum could occur naturally.

    If something appears as though it could not have function without all components it must be designed.

    Philosophically this is pretty close to relying on an argument from ignorance, which is questionable as something to teach in science.

    Furthermore, other scientists, including theists, have gone away and looked at these supposedly irreducibly complex "constructs" and filled in a few more gaps in our understanding by finding examples of biological devices that are made up of some of the components.

    For example some bacteria have a biological syringe made from a subset of components of the bacterial flagellum. It is not irreducibly complex.

    The universe and life is extraordinarily complex. Just because we don't understand or are incredulous about how the planets and moon could stay in there orbits, or how atoms work, how gravity works, doesn't make little gods holding them in place or holding us down a good argument if no evidence.

    Likewise a creator god is an open philosophical question. I understand where some proponents are coming from, thinking there is evidence here of a a designer, a creator because these things could not happen naturally. I understand the frustration. But I suggest firstly some of the claims have been tested and found false regarding irreducible complexity. Secondly, positing something supernatural as an explanation for say the origin of life is not a great fit for the scientific method. How do you test it? But I get the frustration as in a way science begs the question by excluding supernatural magical causes.

    Injecting gods or designers into gaps, fanning controversy, is that science or politics and philiosophy
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      Mar 1 2013: Obey,

      I agree with everything you've just said. I do not claim nonexistence, I am simply unconvinced. However your quote, "But I get the frustration as in a way science begs the question by excluding supernatural magical causes." assumes that supernatural anything has been observed. It has not. In fact the entire universe is nature. Ergo if something is not natural, it does not exist.
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        Mar 1 2013: Hi Christopher. I understand what you mean, if goblins exist they are a natural phenomena.

        Although I'm not sure you could call human contraptions natural, although they are just rearrangements of natural materials by a natural animal.

        But I think you also understand what I mean. That modern science does not look at magic or transcend causes.

        Re: I do not claim nonexistence, I am simply unconvinced. Me too.
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          Mar 2 2013: Anything made by a conscious mind can be called an artifact. I wouldn't consider a watch to be a naturally occurring object during a lecture on natural vs artificial. However I would consider a watch to be a naturally occurring object during a lecture of natural vs supernatural.

          Hope that makes sense.
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        Mar 2 2013: I understand. Thanks.
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    Feb 27 2013: Educating young minds in critical thinking skills is difficult particularly in an environment where funding for schooling is piecemeal and partisan. There is a similar situation here in the UK with 'faith' schools, where particular religions will not allow their young people to mix with the mainstream because of the fear the children, who are very bright, will come back home and start asking 'awkward' questions. There also tend to be 'fashions or trends' in teaching methodology as much as in any other specialist field. So 'putting mythology' in science textbooks - actually it can be helpful to name 'the elephant in the room'. It can help engage children and start debates about the processes of belief structures and the outcomes which can then be compared and contrasted with other frameworks for exploring the phenomena we experience. As you have pointed out it is when teachers start using value laden words like 'good' and 'evil' etc that the children start to get confused and fearful which is always bad when you are hoping to nurture creative, independant thinkers who are prepared to challenge 'what is already known'. Teach a child to read 'critically' and how to use a library effectively and creatively. Give them 'hands-on opportunities to explore materials and their properties eg growing crystals is always a favourite. That really sets 'the cat amongst the pigeons' when the youngsters can grow their own crystals. As to what the 'creationist' stories actually say, it is important to remember they are products of the time they were written and it is only in the last hundred years or so that the general population has had a decent standard of basic literacy and numeracy. Some of the 'creation myths' especially amongst 'abooriginal' peoples are very interesting insights into complex dynamics between people and their lived social groups and their local environments. Agendas and funding going to cause trouble so experiments plus books better balance maybe.
  • Feb 27 2013: No, because the literal interpretation of Genesis, is wrong.

    That story, myth or parable, has nothing to do with this physical world. Everything there is to be applied to the spiritual world.

    So both sides should come together and acknowledge that neither Religion nor Science knows and can proof what happened, millions of years ago.

    We might say 'the universe was created out of nothing. However, it was not created out of anything material. Just as Rembrandt created paintings from his spirit, so, on His level, God created the universe from His Spirit.
    Both processes are 'similar' but, obviously on completely different levels.

    Maybe this will help. as I do not have the means to express the thoughts.
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      Feb 27 2013: There are many scientific disciplines that can in fact prove what has happened millions of years ago. If this is hard to believe, you simply haven't taken enough science courses. There is a huge difference between unverifiable claims (religion) and verifiable facts (science).

      Also, what materials did your deity use to create the universe? If none, then you are the one who believes that something can come from nothing.
      • Feb 27 2013: The way you presented the subject I did not expect an open and balanced view and approach.

        Obviously you have chosen to not see a spiritual side of life as real. That's OK, we have that freedom.

        So apparently you see science as the only provider of facts and truths (even if this happened many millions of years ago), not assumptions and interpretations. Does this also mean this can be repeated, and if not, what excuse do you have why it cannot be repeated? :)

        Apparently you did not read or understand what I said about Rembrandt. A painting does not start with arranging brain particles or chemicals. It starts in the spiritual substance love. This is what the link above is all about. God is love and He finited His love to the point it became physical substance, material. That's why we may see e.g. iron as solid, while in fact it really is a cloud of particles.

        All that being said. There is a reason why no one will ever be able to proof physically that God exists or not. As human beings we have been given and do need the freedom to go one way or the other. That's how love works, in freedom. The closest we, personally, might come to proof is through a NDE.
        But please take the time to see what the link says and whether you can open your mind/spirit to it.

        Sorry to be this far off topic
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          Feb 28 2013: What would you accept as an "open and balanced view"? Everyone is entitled to their opinion, to which this thread is created for.

          I have not "chosen to not see a spiritual side of life". There is no choice involved. I've asked thousands of religous people what evidence they have to believe in anything spiritual. Since I recieve no evidence, I have no reason to believe.

          The results of all scientific theories can be repeated. That is one of the requirements for a hypothesis to become a scientific theory.

          Appartently you don't understand the burden of proof. If you are willing to claim the existence of a spirit or soul, you and you alone carry the burden to prove your claim. I am not claiming anything, I am simply unconvinced.

          Science only studies the natural world. If you define your deity to be supernatural, then you have defined a non-existent entity. Period.

          Agreed, this is off topic. However it is extremely important that you and other religous people understand the burden of proof.
      • Mar 1 2013: Hi Chris Just two questions.

        How come science can tell someone they think, but not what they think?
        Why not?

        When you love someone, like a spouse, can you in any way show and proof that other person on a measuring device how much you love her?
        Why not?

        There exists a spiritual realm, or reality, that is more real than matter. You may need a NDE to open your mind to that possibility.
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          Mar 1 2013: Hi Adriaan. We have probably touched on this before.

          Love is human concept. You can define it and the type of associated behaviours. While there is currently no lovemeter there is evidence of love in the actions of others.

          If by spiritual realm, you mean the realm of human consciousness we agree.

          NDE are not quite proof of a magical spiritual realm IMO. Even some people who have had NDE accept that they might just be the products of a natural mind, much like dreams and hallucinations.
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          Mar 2 2013: I am open to all possibilities. The issue here is that there is no proof of spirits/souls/god. The minute someone provides a good reason to believe in that nonsense, I will logically change my mind. Until then, you are simply making wild speculations about what you hope happens after you die.
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      Feb 27 2013: I would think they would open up creationist curricula to encompass a divine creator, whom created evolution through nature, as nature.

      Direct Genesis interpretation is not the best way to go, but the idea - designed (created, in order to create), shouldn't be dismissed.

      Well then who created the creator (assuming there is one)? Now that's a fun question.
      • Feb 28 2013: Hello Nick, thanks for your input. I am not really dismissing anything in the Bible. It is just that human development has reached a stage for which the literal text of the first 10.5 chapters of Genesis have little use. There are very few people so far, who can answer my question "When was the last time you applied the Creation Story in your life?"
        There exists however an internal meaning that every individual can always apply to their own life and their own spiritual development.
        Here is this short treatise of the Creation Story by Emanuel Swedenborg. I hope you like it.

        Even if you don't, :) I'm 99% sure you'll like this book about the human mind:

        I like your "fun question" too, but for me I know there is one Creator. :)
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    Feb 26 2013: Christopher, having a scientific mind as you seem to have, do you welcome opinions opposite to your own? You have linked this question to morality. Why?
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      Feb 26 2013: Arkady,

      My purpose in creating this thread is to get a feel for how people in the TED community feel about the political movements to "teach the controversy". I appreciate your input.
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        Feb 26 2013: Controversy is fundamental to our life. If we don't teach controversy in schools, what do we teach? Exposing children to controversies and challenging them to resolve them without giving "the right answer" appears to me even more important than teaching facts.
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          Feb 27 2013: I tend to agree in principle. I would throw in critical thinking is a good skill to develop in students. Developing debating skills etc All good in principle

          If you want to include a debatie on creationism versus science, fine. Do it in debating classes.

          It's just a bit disingenuous to use the principle of free speech, debate, critical thinking as an excuse to sneak teaching creationism alongside science in science classes.

          The school kids can come on TED, or Youtube etc or debate class, or the school yard to debate and discuss all they like.

          What you proposing is not a good excuse to teach some special interest view alongside the best science.
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          Feb 28 2013: "I know, I know, "but science continually reviews theories and replaces them with better ones!" - so does religion"

          Wow. Just, wow. What part of the bible was editted? Which part of gensis was changed to reflect what we now know about the universe? Are you so naive as to think that christianity CHOSE to change? Religions of any sort do not change unless socitey forces them to. Take christians for example. They used the bible to justify everything from war to slavery. Even today people use their respective "holy books" to persecute gay people.

          Seriously, wake up.
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          Feb 28 2013: RE: "I looked up Ota Benga. . . "
          Mr. Halliwell issued a call for examples of falsity being presented as scientific truth.
          I am awaiting his assessment of the eight stark examples of science teaching false information as though it were truth. Is your question about willingness to change my opinion directed to me or to Mr. Halliwell? If it is to me my answer is I always change my beliefs if they are falsified.
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        Feb 28 2013: RE: "I defy you to find one falsity. . . "OK. Let's take Paleontology. Bookshelves are full of textbooks which teach/taught young folks that the following are be trusted as scientific truth:1) Java Man2) Ota Benga3) Neanderthal Man4) Piltdown Man5) Nebraska Man6) Orce Man7) Brontosaurus8) Archaeoraptor Liaongensis
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          Feb 28 2013: I looked up Ota Benga. An interesting example of how science can be used to justify depravity. (Not to deny that religion caused atrocities for centuries).

          When I was a school boy, I was taught that Pluto is a planet.

          I know, I know, "but science continually reviews theories and replaces them with better ones!" - so does religion. After all, people do not stones adulterers and sabbath breakers and women are allowed to speak in churches. It's a fact, man, it's a fact. How open are YOU to change your opinion?
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          Feb 28 2013: What exactly are you claiming is false? All you've done is listed several humanoid fossils that have been found. Can you be more specific? I would love to answer your concerns.
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          Feb 28 2013: Re: "Is your question about willingness to change my opinion directed to me or to Mr. Halliwell? If it is to me my answer is I always change my beliefs if they are falsified."

          My question was addressed to Christopher.
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          Mar 1 2013: Not a particularly well informed challenge to make. Not one I would issue. There are shonks in science and all areas of academia and human endeavour I guess.

          I recall some exagerated cloning claims not so long ago.

          In my own personal experience doing post grad work I was nominated to build on some previous research into a stock price prediction model. Looked too good to be true. On closer examination it was. The previous student has been a bit selective with data.

          Hopefully any shonks eventually get found out through verification. Which is again the strength of science.

          I think the point that science comes back to evidence, repeatable, testable claims is still a strength of the process and helps it improve over time, albiet with a few bumps in the road.

          Compare this with personal revelation.
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        Feb 28 2013: Re: "What part of the bible was editted? Which part of gensis was changed to reflect what we now know about the universe? Are you so naive as to think that christianity CHOSE to change? Religions of any sort do not change unless socitey forces them to. Take christians for example. They used the bible to justify everything from war to slavery. Even today people use their respective "holy books" to persecute gay people."

        There is no need to edit the Bible. It's enough that history books are rewritten every decade. Bible is not written to reflect factual truth. It reflects who we are as humans. I find that all atrocities and absurdities in the Bible make us stop and think about them. This is the truth about humans. If you change them or sugar-coat them, you will deny the truth and it will be repeated. I understand that you don't like what is written there.

        These things repeat every time when we take pride in our achievements, pat ourselves on the back and tell ourselves that "this was then" or "this applies to the other people, not to us". Biblical teachings are hypocritical only when they are applied to "others" instead of ourselves.

        Evolution is not possible without both repeatability and random mutations. Religion, in my opinion, serves the purpose of cultural DNA replicated over generations. Other social factors drive the changes. But without DNA repeatability, there would be no social evolution.

        Gay persecutions will stop too, just as slavery, sexism, and antisemitism did. Just wait and see.
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          Mar 1 2013: "Bible is not written to reflect factual truth" - Every single christian I know would disagree with you. Everyone in my family believes the bible to be the literal truth and word of god.

          You cannot claim that evolution is impossible. You might as well claim that gravity is impossible. There is a huge difference between gravity and the Theory of Gravity. One is an observable fact (gravity), while the other is an explanation (theory) of that fact. Similarly, evolution itself is a fact and the Theory of Evolution is simply an attempt to explain how the fact of evolution occured. If you know anything about scientific theories, then you know that all theories are explanation of at least one observable fact. If you don't believe me, try to find out on your own exaclty what fact the Theory of Evolution attempts to explain. You will discover that the process of change over time (evolution) is not only a demonstrable and observable fact, but you were tricked and deluded by your fellow christians into believing otherwise.

          Good luck studying.
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        Feb 28 2013: RE: "What exactly are you claiming. . . "If you do the research (Bing is good)for any one of the 8 examples you will discover, apparently for the first time in your life, that not everything called Science is the result of pure, ethical investigation and presentation. Sometimes the so called evidence is fraudulent. Sometimes it is just wrong. Be careful about worshipping Science young man. Conduct your research with an open mind, do not manipulate the evidence to fit some pre-conceived notion. Let me know what you learn.
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          Mar 1 2013: Do not pretend to be an anthropologist. It seems like your entire argument is "scientists have been wrong before, so why should we put confidence in science?". If this is your position, then you are demonstrating your ignorance. Revision and change are purposefully built into the scientific method. Pointing out that people used to believe the world was flat does not help your argument any more than pointing out false humanoid discoveries. There are claims being made daily. It is your responsibility to weigh the evidence to the claim. Apparently the cornerstone of all biology has eluded your comprehension.

          Visit to learn more about evolution and the Theory of Evolution. You would do well to learn the difference between the two.

          . People can misinterpret data, but facts are facts.
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          Mar 1 2013: Chris, I would suggest a refinement of your point.

          Science is subject to human failings and fraud, but being evidence based it is still perhaps the best process we have for understanding the universe reliably and consistently.

          I don't think Edward is suggesting the faults mean we should disregard all science. Just that we should be careful not to overstate the scientific method and the current state of science.

          E.g. I agree with Edward that the current scientific position on the origin of life is quite speculative. Whereas I perhaps differ in regards to how well tested evolution is. It is much less speculative than abiogenesis.

          We probably also disagree on the value of personal revelation and intuition is sufficient evidence for many claims or beliefs.
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        Mar 1 2013: RE: "Do not pretend. . . "Ooops! You have terminated what could have been mutually profitable exchange of polite collaboration and debate. The fallacy of ad hominem argument is amateurish and transparent in its weakness. You ignore the answer to your challege and instead accuse me personally of ignorance and pretense. Did you look up any of the eight examples (that's a rhetorical question)? Your search for Truth is not over. I admit I do not expect much of value from your last word on this, but, please, take it.
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        Mar 1 2013: Re: " "Bible is not written to reflect factual truth" - Every single christian I know would disagree with you. Everyone in my family believes the bible to be the literal truth and word of god."

        Generalizations are almost never true. "Literal interpretation" is a figure of speech. They may believe what they like. Just ask them why they do not stone adulterers and sabbath breakers and why they do not cut off their hands and pluck their eyes as recommended in Mark 9 or "become eunuchs for the kingdom of God" following a recommendation in Matthew 19:12. It's impossible to interpret the Bible literally. Most of what Jesus says are parables which, by definition, use metaphoric language.

        As you may have noticed, I am not opposed to evolution and I don't think creationism belongs in science class. So, I'm not sure why you are trying to teach me. Why do you think that your knowledge is better than mine?
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          Mar 1 2013: AG, I suggest its probably safe to say people who call themselves Christians or see the bible as source of divine wisdom interpret the bible in a lot of different ways.

          Perhaps understanding whether particular sections were meant literally or figuratively by the authors would provide some context, but in the end its a big collection of diverse books open to divergent interpretation.

          Unfortunately the so called instruction manual for life didn't come with an instruction manual or reliable instructor.
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          Mar 1 2013: Stoning adulterers in the bible and a lot of the nasty stuff is probably not always parable.
          Some stories may be mythicalised but people probably did suffer according to the old law. In the middle east some of these old religiously endorsed values still rule.

          Whereas becoming eunuchs for god is probably a figure or speech.

          I've heard lots of unsatisfactory explanations for the nasty stuff.
          Its a bit sad hearing a basically good person trying to explain why gods rules, commands, acts in the bible are moral. Why it was okay to commit genocide, treat women as chattel etc. I suggest the religion, gods, culture and life in general were more brutal backward and barbaric. And trying to connect an all loving god concept to it fails. Hell, is not all loving. Blood sacrifices are not all merciful.

          Seems the god of the Christian bible keeps changing the rules and his character.
          In the new testament you can read about them deciding whether or not to allow non jews to join the club and whether as adults they need to be circumcised.

          I agree with you that you can see how far we have or haven't come, how much improved our society is now compared to the one ruled by Yahweh's rules. From slavery to marrying your rapist. And also how in some ways our basic nature has not changed that much.

          I suggest part of the problem is Christianity is still connected to the old sexist, homophobic values in the bible.

          There are aspects of the bible about charity etc that still make sense post enlightenment, but a lot that doesn't.

          To be ruled by that book is a scary thought.
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        Mar 1 2013: Re: " It seems like your entire argument is "scientists have been wrong before, so why should we put confidence in science?".

        I can put my confidence in science proportional to the evidence. I would not put my faith in science. I do not put my faith in the Bible. I do not put my faith in the teachings of any church. That would be idolatry. I put my faith in "I AM WHO I AM".
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          Mar 1 2013: I thought we were the little I am's not the big I AM.
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    Feb 26 2013: Everything in Biology appears to be designed for a purpose, yet evolutionists claim nothing was designed with a purpose, but came about by natural selection of random mutations over eons of time from a common ancestor. Atheist scientist Richard Dawkins said, “Biology is the study of complicated things that have the appearance of having been designed with a purpose.” One of the discoverers of the double helix DNA structure said, “Biologists must constantly keep in mind that what they see is not designed.” When a piece of ancient pottery is discovered it is readily accepted as designed with a purpose. When a new biological truth is discovered it is readily accepted as not designed with a purpose. Evolution promotes naturalistic thinking while rejecting logical thinking. I suggest you subtitute the word "Evolution" for the word "creation" in your headline.
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      Feb 26 2013: If there is a "god" it is not remotely like a human - you cannot guess, you cannot say - any kind of human attribution is false by definition .. except for politics.

      Should I vote for you?

      Who's image will we vote for?

      All is vanity.
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        Feb 26 2013: Amen! I do not use the word "false" when speaking of human constructs. I prefer the word "imperfect', or "flawed". It is not possible to prove that god is, or is not, human-like. We cannot use natural laws to investigate supernatural phenomena. As with all personal beliefs we can, and most do, choose to deny the very existence of the supernatural realm. Such Naturalist philosophy is ill-suited to explain anything other than natural phenomena. I do not understand your references to voting.
        "Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity." (Ecclesiastes 12: 8 KJV)
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          Feb 27 2013: Well .. let us not use this silly word!

          Let us say "unsuccessful" instead!

          So the value of any notion of "god" is only in the test by which it can dominate others for your own vanity.

          If uttering the unknowable word gets what you want - it is successful.

          So by that definition - just make one up and rule everyone. But it better be a good one.

          I still have respect for the root Jewish mythos that forbade the utterence or the graven image of the non-existent - while still retaining the power to get exactly what you want - the power of satan himself! Who is the exact same fiction as "god". These guys were the greatest psychopaths of all time - and it is by their fiction that the current extinction proceeds unabated .. does "god" love humans? .. By the evidence - he hates us and cannot wait to get us off his universe - that might be the only real proof of a "god" along with all the stories and fictions we ascribe "him"..

          Words collapse them all.

          The truth never lay there.

          But if it is successfuil for some?

          Go for it - they become "god" by surviving.

          And that is the root of truth.

          Come my friend- let us worship the light - the giver of light and the light he casts - Lucifer the great! He is spelled out in the greatest details in his book - the Bible.

          Or we can cast off the shell, and know what is better than light.
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        Feb 27 2013: RE: "Well let's not use this silly word. . . "Sorry sir, one of us has slipped off into a parallel universe.The Holy Bible characterizes Lucifer as the Father of lies, the accuser of men, and the prince of darkness, not light. Farewell sir.
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          Feb 28 2013: The point is - how can the prince of darkness be called the giver of light?
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        Feb 28 2013: RE: "The point is. . . "
        I am unaware of any passage in The Holy Bible which calls Lucifer the giver of light. Here is the one passage where Lucifer is called son of the morning: " How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning ! how art thou cut down to the ground , which didst weaken the nations! " Isaiah 14: 12 KJV
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          Feb 28 2013: It is odd that the Latin translation is "giver of light".
          I do not know the etymology of the word as it found its way into the Bible... how is it that a Roman word came to be there in the English translation? Is this the work of Constantine?

          For myself, I already know what "Lucifer" is. And to me, if I followed the teachings of the odl testament, I would be quickly locked up and studied by those desparate to cure psychopathy.

          But in the mean time, I am confident that Jesus was neither a Jew, a Christian nor a satanist.

          If you want to impose on Children any kind of doctrine that makes you a satanist.
          The Scientific method as at its root the acnowledgemnent that "it works for now and can be improved". The Satanists will plug that gap with lies.

          And therefore, If we muzst put these stumbling blocks before our children, I would say that the stumbling block with stairs is preferable to the one designed to dash the childs brains out on the father's ignorance.

          I name all the Judeo-Christians as servers of Satan an I will not tollerate their damage to my child.

          You will notice that I include the doctrine of "the human as a part of teh Empire" as the evil work of the prince of lies - and I have already said that "education" is false - not "flawed" or "imperfect" as you would like to inject your apology for failure - but false - false from the start and false now.

          This notion of "Intelligent design" is a recent thing - none of the great Prophets suggested it. I name it as the work of liars - the Lucifers of the false light.

          If I wanted to join the pillage, I would invent a space-goat which excretes life - and it would be just as valid as your god.

          And it would be just as unreliable - it does not work now, it has never worked, and the advancement of ignorance in the name of a religion is as evil as i can imagine.

          Schools are wrong - not "flawed" wrong - by design - any kind of politics you want to play in that wrongness only adds to it.
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        Feb 28 2013: RE: "It is odd. . ." We should teach our children how to discern Truth from theory. Science exists to conduct experiments on theories in an effort to establish truth. Science is one of the most noble human constructs. It is when the Scientific Method is ignored and theories, like Evolution, are represented as scientific Truth that a great disservice is done to Science and to people.
        I found another passage in The Holy Bible that may interest you regarding Lucifer, aka Satan:
        "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.
        And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.: II Corinthians 11:13,14 KJV
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          Feb 28 2013: This I can agree with.
          The key is for all to uinderstand that science cannot and should not purport to present any more than theory. Therefore the true understanding of what theory is must first be promoted.
          Any scientist who insists that theory is truth should be challenged.
          What is taught in science classes is science - theory, not theology.

          But even before that, the notion of a school must be addressed. As it stands in most places, a school is run as a violation of students.
          No one needs be "taught" - all people have an inate desire to learn. They do not need to be forced to the task.
          If a school was structured such that the student's thirst for learning is supported, that the student decides which knowledge is the way forward for him/her, then the role of teacher passes from dictator to nurturer.

          I would argue that those who nurture the advancement of theory should, at the first, explain what theory is. And then to discern if the student's thirst is theology - to direct the student to a church.

          As it stands, the Creationist push to pollute the discipline of theory is a violation of children on top of the violation they already endure.

          Theologians can believe what they want - but they have not got a mandate to violate anyone but themselves.

          The Victorian classroom model is a platform for violation - and the violators all want a piece of the action.

          If the tree is corrupt, I would say that waging war in the branches is no more than entertainment - if there is a solution, it is the root which needs cutting. Then the war will end with the tree.
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      Feb 26 2013: Hi Edward. Living creatures are very different from pottery or any human artifacts.

      When you see some pottery or a watch you can tell it's not a natural phenomena like life. Life is very different from human artifacts.

      Life seems to reproduce and die without any agency.

      Snowflakes look a bit designed, but that's what you get when a bunch of polar water molecules freeze.

      There doesn't seem to be any absolute purpose to life that I can see. Just survival, passing on genes, adaptation, and the meaning humans choose to apply to their own lives.

      The theory of evolution makes logical sense to me. I really don't see how you deny the role of DNA, changes in gene frequency, and the obvious interconnections across the tree of life.

      Look at how much we share with all mammals. Look at how much we share with all vertibrates - four limbs, 2 camera eyes etc. Evolution makes intuitive and scientific sense in light of what we know today about DNA and natural selection.
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        Feb 26 2013: Oh sir! I do not deny the role of DNA in biology. What I deny is the explanation that DNA spontaneously evolved via random mutations over eons of time from some unexplained pre-existing ooze. DNA has an immensely high information storage capacity. One microgram of DNA could store as much data as a million CD’s! The code is staggeringly sophisticated using letters and words with the meaning of the words being unrelated to the chemical properties of the letters. No man-made coding system in existence, no matter how sophisticated, can compare to the complexity of the DNA code. Evolution, while claiming to explain everything living, offers no explanation as to how this code originated.
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          Feb 27 2013: The origin of life is a not covered by evolution.
          My understanding is the scientific position on Abiogenesis is still very speculative. Whereas the theory of evolution is much better tested and established.
          I agree it is a big challenge. I consider it an open question.

          But I suggest it unlikely to happen in one step.
          We know amino acids occur naturally.
          We know of RNA stuff, like viruses, simpler than DNA stuff.
          We know single cells still exist

          So for me it is not completely unfeasible to happen naturally, but I don't have much on an idea how.

          But then again I don't really understand how gravity works. I can do newtons calculations in my sleep. I kind of understand gravitons and gravity force carriers, but it is pretty counter intuitive.

          Personally, I don't find resorting to the supernatural very satisfying for the tough questions e.g. the origin of life, how the universe came to be, and why my football team keeps losing. But they seem the best remaining places to postulate god and I understand others find the god hypothesis makes sense for them.
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        Feb 27 2013: I hear you sir. I am not asking you to resort to anything. I am suggesting more supporters of Evolution should admit as you do that it is NOT a complete theory. It is NOT the sole possible explanation for life. And there is not sufficient proof for claiming utter and absolute victory over Creationism. It is not right to teach our children that Evolution is the ONLY possible explanation of life. It is not the only explanation, and it is mostly immature as a science and is often in violation of the Scientific Method.
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    Feb 25 2013: Mythology has no place in science books, just as sandwich making has no place in Graphic design (besides the really great graphic design classes, that is)

    People are entitled to their own beliefs but not their own facts, and when they say 'religion', they don't mean ALL religion, they mean THEIR religion specifically, I really do doubt the Gita would make an appearance if they were given the option..

    Its just not acceptable under any circumstance and it shouldn't even be up for discussion. If a person doesn't like their beliefs being scientifically incorrect, then don't have scientifically incorrect beliefs, trying to compromise facts to get around their issue shouldn't be an option
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      Feb 25 2013: Great point,

      If Christians be allowed their theories taught, every large religious community should have theirs taught - scientology, mormonism, hinduism, jainism, etc etc etc

      Don't you think at some point children will realize for themselves what is most likely true?
      • Feb 26 2013: I'm sure they can. Just call it Religious studies and study all the religions in the world over the history of mankind if you want.
  • Feb 24 2013: No. When it's politics, it's dirty, deceitful, manipulative and dishonest.

    Teaching some of this might be okay as long as it is duly taught and noted,
    that virtually everything religion claimed was true as the "science of the age"
    has been proven false by the more successful and provable sciences themselves.

    Both stress there is more than the material.
    Science admits they cannot prove it.
    Religion claims what the "more than the material" is, without proof.
    And, refuses to budge.

    In science textbooks and classes? Absolutely not.
  • Feb 28 2013: I disagree that religion is not in a nearly constant state of flux; Ross Douthat's recent book Bad Religion shows the progression of "Christianity" in the U.S. from inception to date and how it has completely flipped on itself in a few hundred years. Take the editing of the Gnostic Gospels; a good deal of the feminine perspective was lost as repression of feminine archtypes of deity became a prime directive for the burgeoning religion...

    But the key difference between changing religion and changing science remains the reasons for so doing. Science changes in relation to new observations (in the most literal sense), and religion changes only in respect to new belief. As we have come to understand more of our world, we have found our religions in opposition to our science; this is hardly new. Socrates' grav est charge was turning againt the ancestral gods; penalty of death. Epicurus famously asked what need we had of the gods now that we had science? The answer came pretty quickly from the priesthoods of the myriad gods of the milieu ("Shut up or we will ruin you"). His student Titius Lucretius chronicled Epicurus' thinking in De Rerum Natura (also giving us our first look at the concept of atoms; at the time a leap of faith in its own right). It was of course Christianity that crushed this burgeoning era of reason, and the two have been in opposition ever since.

    As to the Designer issue, no, we do NOT need to lend ANY credit to this nonsensical syllogism, as Darwin has quite completely shattered the premise with SCIENCE. I have always found Intelligent Design to be completely misnamed; one needs to lack one to accept the other. ALL religions are human constructs and therefore should be taught as Anthropology; Intelligent Design is not science, has been disproven by science, and that is the only reference it has to science. It cannot be taught, it must be preached. And if this ain't Anthropology, then I don't want to hear it called science...
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      Mar 1 2013: I never said that religions remain the exact same over time. My point was that religions are forced to change by external societal pressures. Religions do not choose to change. In fact they actively fight any attempt to change (see crusades, see slavery, see holy wars, see homosexual persecution). Every single movement that we would consider "progress" was opposed by the church. Every. Single. One. (see history books)

      "concept of atoms; at the time a leap of faith in its own right" - Any belief without evidence is faith. Science has no use for faith. If you decide to believe in atoms without evidence, you are not being scientific. Moreover, you are warping the facts. These ancient people did not have any concept of atoms, nor of their size. They simply speculated about the possibility of an "uncuttable" unit of matter. Don't pretend like they knew anything about actual atoms.

      Anthropology is the study of human evolution. FYI
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        Mar 1 2013: Re: "Science has no use for faith."
        This does not mean that humans have no use for faith. Faith may not be appropriate in a science class, but it seems to be a necessary component of intelligent civilized society. E.g., most Americans believe in freedom and democracy.
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          Mar 1 2013: and being useful is not the same as being correct
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        Mar 1 2013: Re: "and being useful is not the same as being correct"
        How do you determine correctness of a non-scientific belief? Can you suggest a scientific experiment to verify the existence of God? Who is trying to drag religion into the realm of science here?
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          Mar 1 2013: That is the point isn't it.

          People believing in contradictory gods and goddesses, associated dogma, reincarnation etc with no reliable way too tell which if any is correct.

          Do you consider our inability to test a claim a strength?

          Contradictory beliefs can not all be true, even if they are useful in some ways.
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        Mar 1 2013: Re: "Do you consider our inability to test a claim a strength?"

        "Strength" usually refers to ability, not to inability. What often IS a strength is the ability to achieve goals DESPITE the difficulties and seeming evidence that the goal cannot be achieved. Such strength often comes from faith.

        Most questions we face in life do not have "correct" or "incorrect" answers: "should I marry?" "Should I marry this person or that?" "Should I focus on career before family or vice versa?" "Should I buy a house?" "Now or later?" "Should I buy stock A or stock B?" Science cannot answer these questions, but faith often can. Faith, as I said, is not about factual truth - it's about the principles we live by.
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          Mar 2 2013: You completely avoided his question. All supernatural claims are unverifiable. Do you consider our inability to test those claims to be a good thing? I would hope not.

          Faith cannot answer any question. I assume you've taken algebra so you know how to make a substitution. When you substitute the definition of faith into a sentence, you should realize how foolish you are to believe faith is a good thing. For example, the sentence "I [have faith] that god exists" is equivalent to "I [believe for no reason whatsoever] that god exists". If you have no evidence, you have faith.
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          Mar 2 2013: What does buying a house have to do with claims a god exists?

          Do you agree that the question whether a god or gods or goddesses exists, not as a concept or delusion, but independent of human conscious, does have an answer?

          Do we agree that science can not prove or disprove a generic immaterial god essentially outside time and space, neither matter or energy, but magically able to create and manipulate these?

          Do you agree that not being able to prove or disprove something of this nature is not evidence of it's existence or is of much value in arguing for its existence?

          Do you agree the burden of proof that gods exists is on those making the claim? Do you agree we should be skeptical of claims that can not be reasonably demonstrated.

          I think freedom of and from religion helps support a civilized society. However, I don't think religious faith is necessary to a civilized society.

          And we should distinguish between what is sometimes useful and what is likely to be true.

          I agree, Faith is not about demonstrable truths, or having sufficient evidence. I'm not particularly impressed if possible delusions are useful, but people are welcome to them or to debate them if they want.

          Tell me if I'm wrong, but we seem to be agreeing that religion should not be mixed up with science class, but you are suggesting faith based religious beliefs have some value in human society whether there is sufficient evidence to support them or not.

          Okay fine. But it's kind of bizarre that all these competing delusions are used to build world views and values and behaviour, and hardly anyone points out the emperor has no clothes.
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        Mar 2 2013: Christopher, you may be familiar with this quote: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal..." As you may see, this "truth" is not based on ANY evidence (self-evident). The founding fathers don't even attempt to rationalize it. This is a statement of faith. A valuable one. A whole nation is built on this statement.

        What you say applies to natural sciences. But even in math, you have to take certain things without proof (e.g. that "A straight line may be drawn from any given point to any other.")

        There is a number of beliefs without proof that we need in order to have a consistent worldview. E.g. "My life is worth living", "I have free will" (there is no evidence for that or even there is evidence to the contrary, but if I don't hold this belief, I cannot choose to do anything). "I believe that God exists" is not a statement of factual truth, but a pledge to adhere to certain principles. There is no rational reason to adhere to any moral rules, so, people come up with an irrational reason. No matter what, you need an irrational reason to justify a moral belief. The rules themselves still come from people.

        I'd say, in science, assumption that God exists is not useful. But in many other areas of our life, it is. I'm pragmatic in my faith.
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          Mar 2 2013: Not bad for the times. Pity they left out women being equal, and many didn't extend this to men of African descent.

          I suggest all these beliefs are open to debate on why they are reasonable to assume and what the outcomes are of this. It's not as clear cut as some fields of human endeavour, all but we don't need to assume all beliefs of this nature are equal and immune from examination.
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        Mar 3 2013: Obey,

        Re: "What does buying a house have to do with claims a god exists?" -- Both are irrational emotional choices. Reason only works to confirm an irrational belief.

        Re: "Do you agree that the question whether a god or gods or goddesses exists, not as a concept or delusion, but independent of human conscious, does have an answer?" -- it does not have a "correct" answer supported by evidence or reason. But everyone answers this question for himself.

        Re: "Do we agree that science can not prove or disprove a generic immaterial god essentially outside time and space, neither matter or energy, but magically able to create and manipulate these?" -- Yes. Whoever tries to find physical evidence for God does not understand science and does not have faith.

        Re: "Do you agree that not being able to prove or disprove something of this nature is not evidence of it's existence or is of much value in arguing for its existence?" Arguing for or against existence of God does not make sense at all. Science does not help, reason does not help. It's an irrational belief - period.

        Re: "Do you agree the burden of proof that gods exists is on those making the claim?" Generally, it depends on who is interested in proving or disproving the claim. E.g. when someone makes a bomb threat, security services make all effort to prove or disprove the claim, not the one who made it. I don't insist that you believe that God exists. If you insist that God does not exist, I would ask you for the proof.

        Re: "Do you agree we should be skeptical of claims that can not be reasonably demonstrated." We can choose to be skeptical about anything - even claims that can be reasonably demonstrated. Or we can choose to believe anything we like. I don't like when people tell me what I should believe. Do you?

        Have to continue in the next post.
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        Mar 3 2013: Re: "I think freedom of and from religion helps support a civilized society. However, I don't think religious faith is necessary to a civilized society." -- Can you support your statement with evidence? Name one civilization that developed without religion.

        Re: "And we should distinguish between what is sometimes useful and what is likely to be true." Yes, as Mark Meijer said in one of the conversations, "what is useful and what is true are completely different considerations". I love that statement.

        Re: "Tell me if I'm wrong, but we seem to be agreeing that religion should not be mixed up with science class, but you are suggesting faith based religious beliefs have some value in human society whether there is sufficient evidence to support them or not." -- yes. You have beliefs without evidence too. Just be honest with yourself.

        Re: "Okay fine. But it's kind of bizarre that all these competing delusions are used to build world views and values and behaviour, and hardly anyone points out the emperor has no clothes." -- there is no physical evidence that anything has any value. Values, by the way, are irrational beliefs too :-).
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    Feb 26 2013: It's bad enough parents indoctrinate/brainwash their children, much less allowing public funds to be abused in this fashion. And it is high time we as a democratic society force the hand of our lawmakers to enforce the law….

    Political Organizations are taxable….so the religious institutions who currently enjoy remaining tax free organizations need to make a choice….are you political organizations and therefore taxable or are you religious organizations and therefore non-taxable? And how do you reconcile spending vast amounts of your parishioner's contributions on political endeavors and not using those resources to more equitable and charitable affectations as prescribed by your god?
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    Feb 26 2013: free the education system. because we want to say to people: just go ahead, and put your child in a religious school that refuses to teach real science. i dare you to put your child in such a school, and see how it works out for you! you can blame nobody but yourself! go ahead, and just do that! it is easy to babble about public education. i want you to practice your own beliefs, and take all the responsibility. i dare you to do it.
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      Feb 26 2013: We the people have been screaming for that for many years, but democrats fear losing their ability to brainwash the children.
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        Feb 26 2013: says the guy that wants to brainwash children. but it would be an interesting test to see what would you actually do in a free system.
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          Feb 26 2013: I defy you to find one falsity being taught in public high school science classrooms. Every single concept must be approved by a State Board of Educators. Every concept is presented with the evidence that supports it. If you disagree, become a scientist and prove them wrong...
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          Feb 27 2013: Be careful CH.

          Science does develop and discard.

          Go back far enough and we we only aware of of one galaxy. The others were called nebulae, because blobby clouds were all the telescopes of the time could see. Now we have hubble looking back 13 billion years with billions of other galaxies.
          E=MC2 is less than a century old. We only got compelling evidence of planets outside our solar system recently. The double helix structure of DNA was only discovered 60 years ago. I guess the expanding universe is less than a decade old. While the big bang is the prevelent now and we have evidence of the radiation from it, steady state was most accepted the early 1900's.

          In medical research more than half of the conclusions in published papers are found to be wrong later.

          So in science we need to be a bit humble about current thinking. Having said that evolution is one of the most tested and enduring theories. It has been refined and there are still controversial aspects (not including intelligent design.) and is likely to be refined in the future.
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    Feb 26 2013: Doesn't the US constitution prohibit the establishment of religion by the state.
    I expect this prohibits teaching creationism given it is a religious perspective.
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      Feb 26 2013: If a religious perspective is scientific, why can't it be taught in schools? Creationism does not belong in science class not because it is a religious teaching, but because it is not scientific. It does not belong in science class even in a religious school.
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        Feb 26 2013: If any religious perspective were scientific, it would necessarily be taught in science class by definition. Since no religion wants to contain itself within the realm of "nature", no religion is scientific. Science only studies nature, not "supernature".
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          Feb 26 2013: Religion is not science. Creationism is not science. No argument about that. However, a valid scientific research can be motivated by religion. Motivation of the research or fear that the results may support certain political or religious views should not be used to suppress a valid scientific research. This was my point.
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        Feb 27 2013: I'd put it the other way around, if a scientific finding correlates with a religious view, so be it.

        I know some theists who see the big bang as being compatible with creationism. Could be.

        If the science is done well, they have tried to falsify, and the conclusions are sufficiently supported by evidence, it has been reasonably peer reviewed, so be it, whatever the result

        The best science we have indicates the Earth is about 3 or 4 billion years old and the universe is 13.6 billion, not 6,000 to 10,000, and no evidence humans walked with dinosaurs. I'm not saying you think that. Just that YEC should suck it up. Actually their god concept is powerful enough to create the universe 6,000 years ago to look much older and as though animals evolved and share a common ancestor.

        To be consistent I would accept hell is real, angels, alien abductions, ghosts, gods, fairies, demons, reincarnation, thetans whatever if there is compelling evidence.

        I would agree that the motivation doesn't matter that much in better understanding the universe if the science is done well and the conclusions are validated.
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      Feb 27 2013: "Science does develop and discard.Go back far enough and we we only aware of of one galaxy."

      This is arguably is the single greatest attribute of science. While religions have "truths" that do not change with the passage of time. Science, however, is willing to accept criticism and change if the evidence requires.

      Anyone, I would think, would be forced to believe in angels and demons if there was any evidence. Good thing there isn't.
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    Feb 26 2013: No. Science should be taught in science class.

    There should not be religious instruction in state schools.

    Teach what you like at home or churches within reasonable limits.

    Happy to teach about all religions under humanities, religious experience in psychology etc.

    And no special exceptions about teaching the controversy or all (special interest) sides of the story. Just teach the best established science and update the curriculum as science updates and improves.
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    Feb 25 2013: "If you put faith in scientific ideas, that is nobody's fault but your own. With just a little effort, you could have researched the concepts that you did not understand.

    You may have put faith in science, but I do not. My confidence and trust in any specific theory is a direct result of my understanding of the evidence presented for it. If I am not convinced, then I have no right to say I believe based on faith or any other ridiculous reason that some people give for their beliefs."

    It's not a question of fault. It was more a question of adolescent expediency. I learned the theories and the experiments and evidence to support them, but initially I simply had to believe. I don't credit theories simply because I don't understand them or lack the knowledge they require. But as a student, I wanted good grades, so I believed what I was told.
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      Feb 26 2013: Good point. A lot gets improved or discarded in science.
      Good to be discerning about what is reasonably well established and what is cutting edge and speculative.
      Also it is an ongoing human process and we get it wrong sometimes.
      In the early years they also omit teaching about the margins of error in predictions.

      I think its okay to say well this is the current state of scientific understanding, and it will be different significantly in another 10 years or 50 or 100. I mean special relativity less than a 100 years old. The expanding universe confirmed recently. String theory is a bit bogus. But evolution is one of the best tested and robust theories. There really isn't much scientific debate. There is a significant religiously political movement.

      Science is probably the greatest human invention. But it is good to put it in context. The fact that it adjusts to better fit the evidence is a positive.
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      Feb 26 2013: "I learned the theories and the experiments and evidence to support them, but initially I simply had to believe"
      My entire point is that you did not "have to believe". You were provided with all the information you needed to come to your own conclusion. You decided to believe on faith, which is the worst possible reason anyone can give for any belief.
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    Feb 24 2013: The public schools should teach first how to differentiate myths from theories/facts based on science and observations. That done, teach myth or scientific theories at will if hours credit at science class can permit.