More Lies About Evolution

The local debate over evolution and creationism will never end. This letter by Harold J. Adams was published today under the heading “Evolution: Theories are not understood.”

Apparently, we do need more instruction in the theories of evolution in our schools and elsewhere. Recent letters reveal the fact that many of those who attempt to defend organic evolution do not really understand it themselves. One writer stated that the fossil record supports evolution. It does not! All creatures, living or extinct, enter and exit the fossil record fully formed. The glaring absence of fossil evidence of any true transitional steps between any two different kinds of creatures is admitted by all knowledgeable scientists, regardless of their stand on evolution. Charles Darwin based his theory upon finding millions of such transitions sometime in the future. None exists. Another writer used examples of the variation that occurs within a given kind of creature to try to prove evolution. Variation occurs, but that is not evolution from one kind of creature to another kind. The flu virus, for example, that mutates is still a virus, and it will never become anything else. That's because mutation and natural selection are conservation agents. They conserve and re-sort information already existing in DNA, but they are incapable of adding anything new. Thus, they will never change a reptile into a bird, for example. If we do force more evolution on our children, hopefully, the evolutionists, themselves, will occupy the front-row seats.
Just like yesterday, the numerous untruths contained in this letter are addressed in great detail on many websites; I won't repeat the corrections here. I'm really starting to tire of posting these letters even for the sake of completeness. It seems that the series won't be complete until the creationists realize that the fossil record is sufficiently complete and that every “missing link” discovered creates two more in their mind.



Lies About Evolution

The local debate over evolution and creation simply will not die. This letter by Frederick J. West was published today under the heading, “Evolution: Theories cannot be proved.”

This is in response to recent letters concerning the theory of evolution. When the theory sticks to natural selection and genetics, it can be tested and proved correct. For example, new generations of moths changing colors to match the color of the tree bark they hide in, cockroaches becoming immune to certain pesticides and the flu virus mutating so that it renders vaccines ineffective. But it should be emphasized that over time moths do not become robins, cockroaches do not become puppies and the flu virus does not become the polio virus. When the evolutionists take the giant leap to the theory that millions or billions of years ago slimy creatures climbed onto the beach and some became turtles, some became giraffes and others humans, then they are entering the arena of fantasy, not science. The changing from one species to another cannot be tested or proved. If these changes occurred over billions of years, the fossil record should contain millions of crossover species. However, not one crossover fossil exists. Not too long ago, modern scientists were hoodwinked by a Chinese peasant who attached the bones of a bird to the bones of a dinosaur. This find was plastered on the front page of Natural Geographic. When the hoax was discovered, the disclaimer was printed in small type on a back page of the same magazine. Evolutionists cannot test or prove the monkeys-to-men theory or the dinosaurs-to-birds theory, and they should not be taught to highly impressionable youngsters.
The numerous untruths contained in this letter are addressed in great detail on many websites; I won't repeat the corrections here. I will only say that if the author objects to the teaching the theory of evolution by natural selection on the grounds that it's “fantasy,” then he must also object to the teaching of creationism by the same account and recommend that science classes completely ignore the most fundamental question of biology. I suspect, however, the author is not so logically consistent as this.



Evidence Supports Evolution

The local debate over evolution and creationism continues some more. This letter by J. Carlson was published today under the heading, “Evolution: A valid scientific theory.

A recent letter titled "Teach students the truth" is a great example of intellectual dishonesty. People are trying to have creationism taught in schools. Only when their efforts are unsuccessful do they start to backpedal and try to undermine the credibility of evolution once again. They first need to learn the term "theory" as used in science classrooms. That word holds more scientific credibility than the word "fact." Scientific theories are ideas that have been put through rigorous testing before that title is applied. If scientific theories were just random ideas, there would be millions of them instead of a select few. The letter writer leaves out pivotal parts of the theory of evolution, which are natural selection and genetics. Those two components of the theory have been and are being tested, recreated and observed constantly. If evolution is such an absurd theory, why is it every time a new fossil or new species is found, it seems to fit? Microbiology proves evolution almost singlehandedly. What about the flu? Every year the virus mutates into a form that the body doesn't recognize. That's why the flu shot is an annual deal. It is not because that's the shelf life of the vaccine, but because we need to be re-immunized against the same, but mutated, virus. There is a reason evolution is taught in schools. It is a valid and highly regarded scientific theory that is responsible for some of the greatest scientific breakthroughs in history. Without it, we would still be dying from the flu instead of getting vaccinated from it. Let's be intellectually honest. Keep evolution where it belongs: in the biology class. Keep creationism where it belongs: in the theology class.
This letter in support of teaching only evolution in public schools is fairly standard like the previous two. I'm publishing it for the sake of completeness and I have no additional comments.



Evolution is No Myth

The local debate over evolution and creationism yet continues. This letter by Marcia Greer was published today under the heading, “Science: No place for creationism.”

I was dumbfounded by the poor reasoning and arguments in a recent letter titled "Teach students the truth." The letter writer asked for intellectual honesty, and for our students to excel in science, yet wants stories of creation taught. That's exactly what they are: stories. Yes, evolution is a theory. A theory is a framework that guides scientific research. It is not a guess; it is not based on written stories by men who had their own agendas thousands of years ago. The fossil record does show evolution. For example, evolution of vertebrate legs is well documented in the fossil record. The evolution of some dinosaurs into birds also has documentation; the most famous fossil is the Archeopteryx, showing a creature with traits of both dinosaur and bird. If, as the letter writer said, we need to include creation stories, how about all the other myths including Aztec, Hindu, Norse, etc. I think it is only fair to give those myths the same focus another unproven story deserves - the Bible. What makes our creation myth so much more believable than anybody else's? Nothing. While we're teaching all these stories, we'll crowd out the real science that our kids aren't learning. Evolution, while much is unexplained, can be documented, tested and researched. That is science. Keep religion in religion class or mythology. This nation is already lagging in science.
This letter in support of teaching only evolution in public schools is fairly standard like the previous one. I'm publishing it for the sake of completeness and I have no additional comments.



Theories & Ways of Knowing

The local debate over evolution and creationism still continues. This letter by Ed Brunson was published today under the headline, “Science: Evolution is a theory.”

The fact that the scientific theory of evolution is being debated in the same breath with the religious theory of creationism and intelligent design is appalling. In the 1920s, Tennessee was the scene of the famous Scopes monkey trial that debated the legitimacy of teaching evolution. Since that time, scientific evidence has continued to come in supporting the theories involved in natural selection and evolution. Recently, the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine published their updated edition of Science, Evolution & Creationism. In it, they state, quite succinctly, "The evidence for evolution can be fully compatible with religious faith. Science and religion are different ways of understanding the world. Needlessly placing them in opposition reduces the potential of each to contribute to a better future." Evolution is a scientific theory, testable, but not 100 percent provable. Isaac Newton's theories, including that of gravity, are theories. Not provable. But you don't need to prove gravity, because, when you try to deny it, you fall. Creationism, and intelligent design are not scientific theories; they are religious explanations for unknown happenings. The story of creationism is allegorical, nothing more, nothing less. The infusion of religious theory into scientific teaching is folly; it should have ended in the 1920s along with the Scopes monkey trial.
This letter in support of teaching only evolution in public schools is fairly standard and I would just like to comment on the texts written by other parties.

First, I find the heading printed by the newspaper misleading. Many detractors of evolution argue that it's “only a theory,” implying a lack of supporting evidence, but the author of this letter emphasized that a scientific theory is not something to be proved. Perhaps they could have written something like, “Evolution: Gravity is also only a theory.”

Second, I have objections to the statement by the National Academy of Sciences. Evolution can be compatible with religious faith, but that depends entirely on what that religion teaches. It's not compatible with the belief that humans were miraculously created by God six thousand years ago. It's not compatible with the belief that humans have existed on earth for all eternity. It's not compatible with the belief that humans were brought here by space aliens. No one is placing science and religion in any more opposition than they actually are; some people just aren't willing to pretend that there's no contradiction when there actually is, radically change their religious beliefs, and sweep the issue under the rug. I don't object to changing one's religious beliefs and acknowledging that this change was made in the light of new evidence, but it's simply dishonest to strip a belief of its original meaning in order to save face, especially if while still claiming infallible certitude for this and other completely unsupported assertions. Science and religion aren't two different ways to understand the world because religion just isn't a way to understand the world. One might as well say that a magic eight-ball is yet a third way to understand the world since it's no less reliable than religion in ascertaining the truth.  Of the various ways to gain knowledge, only science offers consistent results and we shouldn't give religious dogma receive any more respect than any other variety of quackery.



Quackery in the Classroom

The local debate over evolution and creationism continues. This letter by Marjorie Ramseur was published today under the heading, “Science: Teach students the truth.”
The recent letter titled "Prohibit myths" in relation to science standards missed the point. People are not trying to have creation or intelligent design taught in the science classrooms of public schools. Good science is what is needed, and it must be taught objectively and truthfully. The theory of evolution is unproved. Its validity is being questioned by hundreds of scientists around the world. The fossil record does not show evolution. Microbiology does not show evolution. Embryology does not show evolution. Comparative anatomy does not show evolution, only similarities. Students must be able to distinguish the data of the Theory of Evolution; analyze and recognize its strengths and weaknesses, its assumptions and presumptions, along with its frauds and gaps. The scientific method used by experimental sciences stresses the testability and repeatability of a theory. The theory of evolution falls short since it has not been observed, cannot be tested and cannot be repeated. Evolutionary scientists may claim that evolution is the basic principle of biology, but the processes involved and the mechanisms needed are still the subject of much diligent research, discussion and, I might add, skepticism among the scientists themselves. As brought out in the 1925 Scopes trial, ACLU lawyer Clarence Darrow stated that it is the "height of bigotry to have only one theory of origins taught in our schools." This was when creation was the main view taught in public schools. Let us be intellectually honest and teach students the truth. After all, what we want is for our students to excel in their knowledge of science.
Despite what the author claims, people are trying to have creationism taught in schools. She even indicates her desire for this by presenting a quote from Darrow which condemns teaching only one view! The rest of her claims are equally untrue; the evidence overwhelmingly supports evolution and only a tiny portion of scientists even have questions about its validity. It's inappropriate to teach both views when the second view is held only by a fringe group with a clear political agenda using claims that simply aren't supported by the evidence. I doubt that Ms. Ramseur would support teaching the views in the history books that the moon landings were faked, that extraterrestrials actually crashed in Roswell, or that President Bush was behind the 9/11 attacks. I also doubt that she would support adding astrology, alchemy, or homeopathy to the science curriculum. Schools shouldn't make exceptions to teach anyone's favorite pseudoscience or conspiracy theory. Actually do research to support the objections and have them accepted by the scientific community before demanding that children learn them in school.



Thought Control

Although I have previously written about my past experiences with a condition known as scrupulosity when I was a devout Catholic, I would like to go into more detail regarding a particularly torturous element thereof which I endured for a few years, in order to illustrate the absurdity of certain religious prohibitions. As I have discussed in a separate earlier entry, the Catholic Church teaches an especially strict sexual morality which condemns every sexual act except that between a husband and wife without contraception and, per clear scriptural authority, condemns even willful indulgence of sexual thoughts. While the prohibition against actions is severe, it's not impossible to obey it if one is truly careful to avoid opportunities to succumb to temptation. The prohibition against thoughts, however, proves practically impossible to obey if one takes both it and the threat of eternal damnation seriously. I struggled mightily for years to control my thoughts and, despite my most strenuous efforts, I failed to achieve anything except an unhealthy suppression of my natural desires and the development of violent compulsions against myself.

The most relevant fact about the condemnation of consenting to impure thoughts is that it's simply impossible to control one's mental activity, most especially with respect to such a basic animal instinct as sex. It's almost always on our minds, subconsciously if not consciously. Most people realize this, especially psychologists and advertisers. Healthy adults automatically respond to the sight, sound or smell of attractive individuals by becoming sexually aroused. Now while the church teaches that mere instinctive thoughts aren't willful and thus aren't at all sinful, it does teach that to consciously entertain and indulge these thoughts constitutes such a serious offense that you could burn in hell forever if you commit it and die without repenting and confessing it to a priest. That idea in itself is absurdly evil, but notice that there's nothing even resembling a clear boundary between an event that happens automatically and an action that can condemn one to eternal damnation. That's just an open invitation for obsession.

Let's say that a sexual thought enters one's mind as it does innumerable times each day. If one dwells on it for even a moment, then one risks sinning by “entertaining” or “consenting” to it. If one attempts to banish it from one's mind, the thought only becomes stronger and more persistent. I found it impossible to simply “let it pass” as I was repeatedly advised by confessors because I was afraid that I had not done enough to avoid sin and had thereby sinned already. My response to this fear was to work harder and harder to banish any sexual thought as soon as it entered my mind. I shouldn't reveal much detail, but I will say that my attempts to immediately distract my mind from unwanted images became more and more manic over time and that it was simply impossible for me to function properly until my deconversion.

If I saw an attractive woman who aroused any sexual feelings in me, I forced myself to avert my eyes and drive out with a physical response against myself any sexual thoughts that the sight of her generated in my mind. I then thought about whether I was thinking about it and then about whether I had sinned by thinking something lustful about her, often subtly appearing like I suffered from a mental condition, which in retrospect was not entirely inaccurate. This rumination could last from a few seconds to several minutes to the rest of the day and all I had actually done was happen to a see a woman in completely normal and acceptable attire. My mind even seemed to revolt at the suppression of its thoughts. The more I struggled not to think something, the stronger the urge I felt to think it out of frustration and anger. This tendency, by the way, extended to violent and blasphemous thoughts as well, though these caused much less trouble due to far weaker instincts to think them. It's notable that I came to believe that the vast majority of women dressed immodestly and that I noticed every single inch of cleavage on every woman, perhaps similar to how a Saudi man might feel in a western society.

Contrast that to how simple life has become with respect to sexual thoughts since my belief in God and hell disintegrated. Now when I see an attractive woman, the exact same sexual thoughts arise, but they present no trouble whatsoever. If I want to and have the time, I can indulge in a sexual fantasy for a short time and move on. If I'm busy or focused on something else, I can let it pass because there's absolutely no fear that I have done anything which might result in neverending torment. Either way it lasts for a few moments at most and I can concentrate on actually living my life, all without any guilt or fear. There's no obsession; it's natural and normal. And I'm sure there's just as much cleavage and as many pairs of tight pants as there were a few years ago, but I hardly notice except in the most exceptional cases, when such a sight most likely presents far more potential pleasure than anguish. It feels so good to be normal again.



Intelligent Design is Myth-information

Outside of the prayer in public venues fiasco in October, it has been many months since I have commented on an editorial piece or letter to the editor appearing in the Florida Times-Union. It's time to start the new year with a fresh letter on an old debate. This letter by Tom Brady was published today under the heading, “Science standards: Prohibit myths.”

I was somewhat dismayed to see in a recent story that people were challenging Florida's current attempt to bring our education standards concerning science out of the realm of theology and into that of rational thought. Trying to equate "creationism" or "intelligent design" with the scientific approach to the evolution of the species is tantamount to comparing the proverbial apples and oranges. The first two are manifestations of a belief system; the third is a demonstration of the scientific method. If we are going to teach creation myths in our schools, then we should not limit those teachings to Judeo/Christian myths only. The Hindus, Buddhists, Shintoists, Animists and even many American Indians have their own creation stories. If the school systems choose one myth over the others, they are making a choice to advance one religion over another, which violates the Constitution. For those who claim that the theory of evolution is not proved and is "just a theory," they obviously don't understand the definition of the scientific term. Since none of us knows, or can know, from whence the universe ultimately came, a discussion involving the possibility of an intelligent designer is perfectly appropriate. But this should be in a philosophy or theology class, not in a science classroom.
Since I don't read the entire paper, the article referenced in the letter had escaped my notice until today when I did a search. The original story was about a public hearing about a new public school curriculum which explicitly teaches evolution and the debate which took place over whether also to include material on intelligent design. I agree with everything that the author of the letter wrote, but there really isn't much new to say about this debate. Intelligent design simply isn't science and shouldn't be taught in a science classroom.

What I find remarkable is that the most valuable player of the National Football League has time to write letters to the editor in Jacksonville when one would expect him to be preparing to play the Jaguars this Saturday evening in Foxboro!