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.”