Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Nevada Anti-Evolution Referendum

A masonry contractor in Las Vegas has filed the papers to put an anti-evolution referendum on the ballot in Nevada that would actually amend the state constitution. The act would require teachers to teach several silly anti-evolution arguments, such as the claim that “it is mathematically impossible for the first cell to have evolved by itself.” The very phrase “mathematically impossible” is a nonsense phrase; presumably he means that the odds of the first cell evolving are extremely high, in which case I would ask him to produce a valid probability calculation to justify the claim. Even in Vegas, where figuring the odds of a proposition is second nature, I doubt he can.

My favorite requirement, though, is the one that says teachers have to teach students that “nowhere in the fossil record is there an indisputable skeleton of a transitional species, or a ‘missing link.’” What an absurd standard to set. What does it take to make something “disputable”? One merely has to say, “I dispute that” and – voila! – it’s not “indisputable” anymore. No one with any real knowledge of the fossil record would claim that there are no transitional species found in it, of course, but as long as one person, no matter how ignorant they are, doesn’t accept it as such it’s “disputible.”

Comments

  1. #1 Ginger Yellow
    March 1, 2006

    Aren’t there slightly more spiritually pressing matters for publicly minded fundies to address in Vegas than the teaching of evolution?

  2. #2 JY
    March 1, 2006

    But it’s the teaching of evolution, clearly, that’s led to all the other stuff.

  3. #3 Enigma
    March 1, 2006

    To pick a small nit…

    “presumably he means that the odds of the first cell evolving are extremely high”

    High in that sentence should be low, or else it should read something like: “presumably he means that the odds against the first cell evolving are extremely high”

  4. #4 TikiHead
    March 1, 2006

    It seems like it’s terribly important for certain Christians (American conservative/literalist) to believe the Genesis account of the Fall to be exacty true as written, and they feel it’s impossible to square that literal story with Evolution.

    No literal Fall = no need for Jesus.

    So, Evolution’s got to go. (and by ‘Evolution, most American conservative Christians mean everything attending modern Scientific understanding, like an old earth and Universe etc.)

    It makes you wonder how sincere their recent alliance with ID really is, since you could make a case that many forms of ID are just as hostile to a literal Fall story.

  5. #5 ZacharySmith
    March 1, 2006

    Here we go again. So now a masonry contractor knows more about evolution than professional biologists. Oops – I guess that comment smacks of “elitism” – my apologies to dlamming.

    It’s amusing that his proposal would require to teach that “some scientists say this” and “some scientists say that”. I’m sure we could find a few physicists who dimiss relativity, or cosmologists who dismiss the Big Bang. Why not insist on teaching that in Physics class as well? Same old story.

    Perhaps this guy would like biologists to set the state and local codes for building brick walls and such – turnabout is fair play after all.

    Here’s a perfect case in point for dlamming. When igoramuses attempt to set education standards and policy, you get “garbage in, garbage out.”

  6. #6 Dave S.
    March 1, 2006

    Enigma opines:

    To pick a small nit…

    “presumably he means that the odds of the first cell evolving are extremely high”

    High in that sentence should be low, or else it should read something like: “presumably he means that the odds against the first cell evolving are extremely high”

    I thought the same when I first read this. But the term is ‘odds’, not ‘probability’, and so I think high is the correct word there.

    I could be wrong though. Your revised statement also looks good…depends on how you look at it.

  7. #7 countlurkula
    March 1, 2006

    No literal Fall = no need for Jesus.

    So, Evolution’s got to go.

    Yes, evolution kinda goes against the whole evangelical schtick. God has a plan for your life, God answers your prayers, God sends you signs. God is on our side. It’s a whole different, as they say, organizing principle.

    The problem with evolution may be not so much that it flatly contradicts the Bible (+ approved religious media outlets) but that it’s off-message, and controlling the message, including your idea of the meaning of life, is what it’s all about.

  8. #8 SkookumPlanet
    March 1, 2006

    countlurkula, YES!

    Your second paragraph is a bull’s-eye. Contemporary America is ALL MESSAGE! The only way to move masses, or to keep them where they are, is “persuasion science”-based message control.

    See Ed’s blog today on the “War on Christians”.

  9. #9 David C. Brayton
    March 1, 2006

    This post should also be called “And People Wonder Why I’m a Cynic”. This stuff just boggles the rational mind.

  10. #10 mark
    March 1, 2006

    I think they may as well also amend the constitution to say that when turning brass on a South Bend lathe, one such use an open mind when selecting lubricants, including considering the use of honey for pieces greater than 1.4-inches in diameter. That masonry contractor is an absolute moron who has no respect and no understanding of his constitution.

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