Pharyngula

The various ID blogs are all atwitter over the new textbook the Discovery Institute is going to be peddling, Explore Evolution. I’ve seen a copy, but I’m not going to give an extensive review just yet. I will say that it’s taking a slightly different tack to avoid the court challenges. It does not mention gods anywhere, of course, but it goes further: it doesn’t mention Intelligent Design, either. The book is entirely about finding fault with evolution, under the pretext of presenting the position of evolutionary biology (sort of) together with a critique. The biology part is shallow, useless, and often wrong, and the critiques are basically just warmed over creationist arguments.

What it actually is is Jonathan Wells’ Icons of Evolution rewritten and reworked as a textbook.

The chapters are:

  • Introduction
    • Defining Some Terms
    • Issues in Question
  • Universal Common Descent
    • Fossil Succession
    • Anatomical Homology
    • Molecular Homology
    • Embryology
    • Biogeography
  • The Creative Power of Natural Selection
    • Natural Selection
    • Natural Selection and Mutation
  • A New Challenge
    • Molecular Machines
    • Special Studies
  • Conclusion
    • The Nature of Dissent in Science

Each chapter is divided into “Case For”, “Reply”, and “Further Debate”. None of them are at all useful. The embryology chaper, for instance, has a “case for” that only talks about Haeckel, as if that were the most interesting and informative and sole example of modern developmental biology they could find. The “Reply” is a reiteration of Richardson’s demonstration of diversity in embryonic form. The “Further Debate” section is a summary collection of phony platitudes: “there is a wide range of debate on the merits of the case from embryology” (no, there’s not) and “No doubt the debate will continue” (which is true because creationists will continue to invent objections.)

I know the creationists are infatuated with Haeckel, but get over it, please. It’s an obsolete theory that was proposed about 140 years ago, was discarded in the 19th century, and is only mentioned to dismiss it in modern textbooks. They couldn’t find anything current and interesting in modern developmental biology to discuss, but had to go dig up that antique, again? Presenting modern development through the distorting lens of Haeckel is simply dishonest and misleading.

For another example, biogeography has two pages for, 2 and a half pages in reply, and one page of further debate. “For” basically says marsupials were found in South America and Australia, and the distribution is explained by plate tectonics. The rebuttal is that opossums are found in North America and fossil marsupials were found in China. It’s pathetic.

In general, the book presents the subjects superficially, cherry picks examples, and sets up shallow hypotheses that bear little resemblance to what scientists actually think about the subject, and then shoots down the examples in such a way as to cast doubt on entire disciplines. It’s a dirty, dishonest book in a slick package. It’s gonna sell like hotcakes to every lazy, stupid teacher who wants to substitute vacuous crap for an honest and serious examination of a difficult and important subject.

Now get ready, isolate your irony meters, and stand back in case your monitor explodes. I’m going to have to show you some weapons-grade, highly refined irony here.

Have you braced yourself? It’s a quote from John West of the DI.

Last warning: don’t read further if you aren’t thoroughly locked down, with a friend nearby in case resuscitation is needed. West is going to blow your mind.

DISCLAIMER: I am not responsible for any seizures induced by the following text.

“Sadly, the majority of biology textbooks in use today are ‘dumbed-down’ and do a poor job explaining evolution,” said Dr. John West of Discovery Institute, the book’s United States distributor. “Explore Evolution will improve the teaching of evolution by providing teachers and students with more information about evolution than they are likely to find in any other textbook written at the same level.”

Explore Evolution is a slender book, about 150 pages, with lots of filler and padding, and is about the same size as the old Of Pandas and People. Try comparing it to Miller and Levine’s Biology, which is marketed to the same age group: 1,146 pages.

This has got to be some kind of joke. The DI is sending that claim out as a press release: I hope some journalist somewhere gets a picture of Biology next to Explore Evolution to communicate the idea of just how pathetic that comparison really is.

I think the DI’s new strategy is to completely avoid that embarrassingly bad “intelligent design” nonsense altogether, and instead focus on driving out good textbooks with incredibly bad ones of their own—you could not teach evolution from Explore Evolution. And that’s exactly what they want.

Comments

  1. #1 Mike Haubrich
    June 7, 2007

    How disappointing. Here I was hoping to get a quick and dirty path to a complete understanding of all the issues in evolution and now we find out that the book that is supposed to be a counterpoint to those hefty dumbed-down textbooks is dumbed-down even more?

    []
    Learning science is just so much work!
    [
    ]

  2. #2 jpf
    June 7, 2007

    It’s like starting a Christian church whose sole purpose is debunking Christianity under the touchy-feely guise of “exploring” it. Genius! No, wait, what’s the word… Diabolical!

  3. #3 Denis Castaing
    June 7, 2007

    Thanks PZ. I do so like reading your blog so early in the day. I’m just laughing my head off as I read it. Your analysis is spot on. One hopes that most quality high School Science departments see through the DI facade for what it really is. Absolute Nonsense!
    Denisc

  4. #4 Ginger Yellow
    June 7, 2007

    “It does not mention gods anywhere, of course, but it goes further: it doesn’t mention Intelligent Design, either. The book is entirely about finding fault with evolution”

    In practice, this isn’t really much of a change. They’ve just dropped the ID label and the pretence that it’s a positive alternative to evolution. It’s always been about (erroneously) finding fault with evolution and nothing more.

  5. #5 ConcernedJoe
    June 7, 2007

    C: Life forms never evolved. That is a myth.

    E: And the drug resistant TB bacterium in recent press was always around?

    C: Some variation in forms does occur… some microevolution if you like… but there was not any need for macroevolution and still isn’t. It never happened and it isn’t happening today!

    E: So all the evidence that clearly points toward evolution at a micro and macro level is wrong?

    C: What evidence? Things you guys misinterpret and/or lie about?!?

    E: OK, so then what is your explanation for the diversity yet similarity of life?

    C: God created all life forms as they are at creation. Woops… eeerrr… I mean … eeerrr … I mean to say it is what was… I mean … well Darwinism doesn’t explain it!!

    Mainstream Media Moderator: Well I see we are not going to settle the debate raging about evolution here tonight but I am sure the audience will agree with me that Dr. C makes some fascinating points and Dr. E thanks for coming. I hope we can continue this discussion soon.

    ________________

    My point: hard for us to win when the media caters to the lies, faith, etc. Reason does NOT sell soap!!

  6. #6 sparc
    June 7, 2007

    The DI “Faulty” Towers seemingly has a new mission statement:

    Don’t mention ID!
    Don’t mention the authors!

    I’ll bet that within one week someone at UD or Overwhelmingindolence will fuck things up and use the D-word if not Creation or God.

  7. #7 jpf
    June 7, 2007

    The next Dover trial isn’t going to be such a slam dunk. When some school district starts using this book, what’s going to be the legal argument against it? If it makes no mention of creationism in even a cryptic form, it can’t possibly run foul of the establishment clause. Simply showing that the anti-evolution arguments are the same as those used by creationists isn’t showing establishment if the arguments don’t imply creationism, but merely spread misinformation and ignorance about evolution. Obviously the intent of the DI here is to sabotage the teaching of evolution, but how is that illegal? Sure, it’s immoral and sleazy, but there’s no law against that and the DI and the sorts of Christians that like to push these things through school boards seem content with being immoral and sleazy for Jesus.

  8. #8 Simon G.
    June 7, 2007

    Right – I’m going to write a book called “Exploring Intelligent Design”. I’m sick of ID getting dumbed down by biologists.

    Case For ID:

    Reply: Biologists say that I evolved from a monkey!

    Further Debate: Who are you going to listen to? The bible that’s been here since the beginning 6,000 years ago, or some “biologist”.

    I’m still looking for a publisher. Anyone?

    –Simon

  9. #9 Boo
    June 7, 2007

    There’s a very interesting quote on the DI’s blog:

    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2007/06/new_textbook_seeks_to_improve.html

    Explore Evolution is ideally suited for:

    AP Biology teachers who need a stimulating capstone unit for the last 5-6 weeks of their AP course after their students have taken the AP biology test.

    They go on and on about what an amazing text book it is, then they admit students taught from it would flunk the AP test.

  10. #10 jpf
    June 7, 2007

    They go on and on about what an amazing text book it is, then they admit students taught from it would flunk the AP test.

    Well, of course they admit that, since the AP tests are biased towards Darwinistic hegemony. We all know that “AP” really stands for “Atheist Persecution”.

  11. #11 jpf
    June 7, 2007

    I think I discovered (via exploration!) why this 2007 text book goes on about Haeckel. From the site of publisher Hill House (bold mine):

    Fine books in Natural History and authentic facsimilies of antiquarian books, prints, maps and documents, as well as general publishing.

  12. #12 Steve LaBonne
    June 7, 2007

    The next Dover trial isn’t going to be such a slam dunk. When some school district starts using this book, what’s going to be the legal argument against it?

    Sadly, if a school district chooses to deprive its students of science education but does not in the process attempt religious indoctrination, I really don’t think the courts have any grounds for interfering. State education authorities, possibly, but not the courts. I don’t think we want the courts micromanaging curriculum.

  13. #13 Nooner
    June 7, 2007

    YOu all know who FTK is.

    In discussing this, she is now turning vicously on fellow Christians who dare to disagree with the turn ID has taken.

    What a piece of work.

    Can you imagine For The Kids actually in a position of control!

    God help us!

  14. #14 jpf
    June 7, 2007

    Interesting tangent: The previous link I gave for Hill House wasn’t their main one, but the one in the PR at evolutionnews.org. The butterfly one is their sub-site for Hill House author Bernard d’Abrera (“the world’s best known lepidopterist”) who also happens to be a creationist who holds evolution as “viscid, asphyxiating baggage” and that:

    Evolutionary Man, having slandered and libelled Biblical Man into impotent irrelevance, is now leading mankind backwards down atavistic pathways into a terrifying auto-demolition of civilisation and all that is transcendentally good

    I especially like this footnote given after they first refer to him as “Dr d’Abrera”:

    This is the honorific title by which he is generally known in the scientific community in Europe. It does not imply that his degrees involved doctorates, but is on account of his voluminous scientific achievements.

  15. #15 Boo
    June 7, 2007

    Well, of course they admit that, since the AP tests are biased towards Darwinistic hegemony. We all know that “AP” really stands for “Atheist Persecution”.

    Ah, but here’s the thing, if the textbook does such a good job of presenting the “pro” side for evolution, then students should be able to use the “pro” arguments to answer the AP test questions. Unless of course the “pro” side is just strawman fluff that would fail to correctly answer the questions on the test…

  16. #16 Craig O.
    June 7, 2007

    The DI “Faulty” Towers seemingly has a new mission statement:

    Don’t mention ID!
    Don’t mention the authors!

    I mentioned it once, but I think I got away with it!

  17. #17 jpf
    June 7, 2007

    I should mention that Bernard d’Abrera, with his wife, is the founder of Hill House, so this might not be such a tangent. Here’s a brief biography from an otherwise innocuous looking butterfly site. Let me just quote the crazy section in full:

    Scientific philosophy

    Since his earliest volumes, Bernard d’Abrera has steadfastly been concerned with the need for strict observance of the rules of philosophy in the science and craft of pure taxonomy, sensu Linnaeus, in the study of all orders of natural history, where the “species” is the terminal taxon, because of its scientifically demonstrable natural fixism. He is thus an unapologetic Aristotelian in that he professes the axiom of typology, in which “like-begets-like”. Therefore, for the last 25 years, he has been an outspoken foe of all cod-scientific theories of “Origins” (itself, by definition, a serious metaphysical concept, beyond the remit and competence of the physical sciences) that broadly comprise Evolutionism. Thus, he suggests that such baleful and irrelevant theories seriously compromise any true scientific study of the natural world, which should only be based on collection & curation, observation & measurement, laboratory experiment & prediction, and a generous helping of common sense.

    Crap, I though I was being a smart ass back there with the “Darwinian hegemony” jab (bold mine):

    In 2001, in his now famous Concise Atlas of the Butterflies of the World (Hill House Publishers (Melb.& Lond.) the author launched a systematic and scholarly critique of what he sees as the patently unscientific, profligate, and self-serving posturings of the quasi-religion of Evolutionism. He did so on the basis of wishing to free himself and his readers from the neo-Darwinian hegemony and hubris of the scientific establishment, and “the viscid, asphyxiating baggage” with which that establishment continues to burden and impede the true and profitable study of the natural sciences. He further argues that genuine natural science should be based solely on the living fauna & flora (which is also represented in museums), and not on tendentiously speculative and unprovable theories of the past that are best consigned to the realm of pure science fiction.

  18. #18 ck1
    June 7, 2007

    Good idea to show this book next to Miller’s Biology. This type of visual worked for Lewis Black in his Dover commentary. He held up Pandas. It looked like a comic book, or a magazine, at best.

  19. #19 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    June 7, 2007

    I love the “Inquiry Based Education” phrasing. As if all of science wasn’t inquiry based. They just don’t like what the last 140 years of inquiry have shown us.

  20. #20 jpf
    June 7, 2007

    Good idea to show this book next to Miller’s Biology. This type of visual worked for Lewis Black in his Dover commentary. He held up Pandas. It looked like a comic book, or a magazine, at best.

    That only works if you are demonstrating the paucity of the book to an objective person or group that has the power to do something about it, such as in the Dover trial.

    This book will probably never get to a trial since it doesn’t violate any laws, and so the only people who will be considering it are receptive Creationist school board members who already know it’s bullcrap, but since it’s bullcrap for Jesus they won’t care.

    Also, for your further enjoyment, here’s Dembski reviewing d’Abrera’s butterfly magnum opus / anti-Evolutionism screed.

  21. #21 Heleen
    June 7, 2007

    Here is another good one from the Explore Evolution website (
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2007/06/new_textbook_seeks_to_improve.html)

    “Explore Evolution brings to the classroom data and debates that already are raised regularly by scientists in their science journals,” emphasized science education policy analyst Casey Luskin, M.S., J.D.

    Could anyone check where this claim comes from?

  22. #22 John Danley
    June 7, 2007

    Jonathan Wells is a big fat guy.
    http://thestubborncurmudgeon.blogspot.com

  23. #23 Heleen
    June 7, 2007

    Look at this!

    http://www.exploreevolution.com/pdf/peek-inside_30-31.pdf

    and remember
    “Sadly, the majority of biology textbooks in use today are ‘dumbed-down’ and do a poor job explaining evolution,” said Dr. John West of Discovery Institute.
    West must never have got to look in a scientific paper in his whole life.

  24. #24 David vun Kannon
    June 7, 2007

    Can I ask for a page count of Miller and Levine for that section which deals directly with evolution? PZ, I think your heft test is unfair, and the good guys need to play fair. It’s probably a better argument to say that evolution is under-represented even in quality textbooks due to the problematic nature of textbook purchasing in the US. I wouldn’t mind seeing a survey of evolution coverage across different educational systems at the same age group, and then compare that to EE, if you want to pursue this line of argument.

  25. #25 Dan S.
    June 7, 2007

    AP Biology teachers who need a stimulating capstone unit for the last 5-6 weeks of their AP course after their students have taken the AP biology test.

    It would be a stimulating capstone (crapstone?) unit for post-test AP Bio students to rest and relax by taking this nonsense apart, but given the description, I can’t see it taking more than 2-3 weeks, max . . .

    The next Dover trial isn’t going to be such a slam dunk. When some school district starts using this book, what’s going to be the legal argument against it?

    Excellent point. This is why we need strong support for real science education in the community, so that any board member tempted to select this dreck would know to expect a) uproar from angry parents and community members and b) an uphill re-election battle, at best.

    And statistically speaking, most of those fine folks are going to be (at least vaguely) theists. Where we go from there – well, hopefully not back to calling each other names based on historical WWII-era analogies . . .

    I dunno. The idea that us atheists should be politely cringing in little closets doesn’t have a lot of appeal for me, and frankly doesn’t even seem useful (the last few decades of furious creationist backlash derives, if I understand correctly, from the post-Sputnik emphasis on better science education on one hand, and broader social changes/politicized culture wars on the other – if Dawkins didn’t exist, the creationists would have had to invent him).

    The idea that the battle for better science ed and reason generally is intimately tied up in a long war against religious belief – well, I’m not a big-picture person, which may be why this makes little sense to me, but regardless, pushing advocates of this view to degenerate into ID-style tacticians would be repellent. Certainly framing evolution as anti-God is one of the creationists’ trump cards – but if one shares this frame, from the other side of the mirror, so to speak, carefully hiding it seems extremely dishonest.

    But it’s more complicated than that, imo – it would seem that most reality-based (mainstream/religiously moderate to liberal/etc.) theists who appreciate science and the importance of education will make whatever mental edits are necessary to support these values, short of some sort of imaginary campaign to stuff atheism into bio class, while fundies will make whatever mental edits are necessary to support their values and oppose evolution (translated whatever we say as death, decay, utter terrifying meaninglessness and the overthrow of proper social order), short of – well, I dunno, an major shift in the nature of fundamentalism? It’s the folks in-between that we need to talk to. What do we have to say?

  26. #26 DM
    June 7, 2007

    Did anyone notice that Ralph Seelke is one of the authors? He testified at the KS Kangaroo Court debacle, and he has some really atrocious reasoning on his webpage, especially the “Why I am a doubter of evolution” dreck (link).

  27. #27 Marcus Ranum
    June 7, 2007

    The educational system of the world is letting young people down. Rather than merely fighting to keep this kind of silliness out of schools, they should be fighting to actively demolish it.

    Indeed, this book sounds like a FASCINATING teaching tool. At 150 pages it would make the core of a class on critical thinking in the sciences. Students could take the book and research the actual science related to each topic and be responsible for understanding and explaining what’s going on, section by section. I remember we spent several days going over Lysenkoism when I was a kid, in my high school science program. I found that to be a fascinating topic as it illustrated what happens to science when government-sponsored wishful thinking combines with the power of life and death.

  28. #28 Tim Tesar
    June 7, 2007

    OK, PZ, here’s your chance. What do you think will happen if you take them up on this challenge? (From the “Exploring Evolution” Web site “Further Debate” section):

    —Begin Quote—
    One way scientists have advanced the frontiers of human knowledge is through spirited, yet civil, debate about the meaning of publicly accessible evidence. Scientists often debate how best to interpret the available evidence. Controversy in science is nothing new. It’s not a distraction; it’s normal. Explore Evolution is part of the continuing debate over Neo-Darwinism. In the Further Debate section of the website we invite serious scientists and educators to take part in the ongoing discussion about the scientific issues raised in Explore Evolution.

    If you’d like to submit scientific comments or critiques about Explore Evolution, please send them in. We will review them and address them on these pages. For some particularly relevant comments or critiques, we will ask the author’s permission to publish their response, so please include your name, address, e-mail address and phone number with your submission. Submit items to furtherdebate@exploreevolution.com
    —End Quote—

    What are the chances they will allow real debate? I suspect they will be VERY selective in deciding what the “particularly relevant comments or critiques” are.

  29. #29 Dan S.
    June 7, 2007

    Crap, I though I was being a smart ass back there with the “Darwinian hegemony” jab

    We simply can’t out-nonsense them – it’s a bit like the position political satirists are in lately . . .
    In Tower of Babel one repeated theme is Pennock recounting how he tried to come up with the silliest, most reductio ad absurdum-style argument for the topic, only to find that some variety of creationist had beaten him there. I would have assumed this was a clever rhetorical device if I hadn’t seen it happen so many times . . .

  30. #30 Corey Schlueter
    June 7, 2007

    Does it have a reference section in the back of the book?

  31. #31 ERV
    June 7, 2007

    David vun Kannon–

    I cant speak for Miller and Levines ‘Biology’, but my college Intro Bio text, Campbell and Reece’s ‘Biology’ is all evolution. All of it. Page 1 to Page 1312. We covered the first half of the book in one semester (basically an intro to evolution class), and the second half of the book the next semester (an intro to biodiversity class).

    Table of Contents

  32. #32 Dan S.
    June 7, 2007

    Marcus – in theory, yes, and even in some real-world settings, but remember we’re not talking about a level playing field here. I doubt any teachers, students, parents, etc. were big Lysenko-fans in your town. Not only was it a dead issue, it was one associated with the bugbear of Soviet Communism (esp. if high school was a while back, but still in play, even if now in a historical sense). In the current case, it would be if some parents, clergy, community leaders, and even teachers were devoted Marxist-Leninist followers who steadfastly opposed evolution as some anti-Communist Western bourgeois plot.

    [from Wikipedia’s entry on Lysenko: “ In December 1929, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin gave a famous speech elevating “practice” above “theory”, elevating the judgment of the political bosses above that of the scientists and technical specialists.
    No comment.)

  33. #33 Ivor the Engine Driver
    June 7, 2007

    This place is becoming my first stop on the morning blog circuit, cuz a guy needs a daily hit of sanity if he’s gonna confront Jesus America successfully. It’s so goood, I’m beginning to suspect that you must be a god.

    No, wait, I didn’t mean that!!!!

  34. #34 PZ Myers
    June 7, 2007

    It has a reference section. It includes a lot of legitimate papers — Gould and Raff and Valentine and Eldredge and Davidson and Erwin and so forth. It’s just as if they didn’t actually read any of them. They’re there as window dressing.

    I’ve taught from Campbell, and ERV’s comment is correct. It’s everywhere. We currently use Purves’ Life in our intro courses — it’s the main reference text in Biol 1111, Fundamentals of Genetics, Evolution, and Development, Biol 2101, Evolution of Biodiversity, and Biol 2111, Cell Biology. You can’t say the DI dreck is only comparable to a few chapters of a legitimate biology textbook; in the chapter on photosynthesis, for instance, there is a discussion of the evolution of molecules in the pathway, a comparison of differences in C3 and C4 plants, and so forth.

    The Miller and Levine book is targeted at high schools, and there is pressure there to quarantine the evolution stuff in smaller ghettos within the text, so it might be easier to make a case that there is some ‘dumbing down’ in high school biology. I would make two replies to that, though: 1) it is creationist organizations like the DI and AiG and CRS that are responsible for the political lobbying that has gutted the treatment of evolution in the public schools, and 2) “Explore Evolution” worsens the situation by making a very, very, very bad book available. I guarantee you, the creationists who approve schoolbooks in Texas will be dancing with glee at EE.

  35. #35 CalGeorge
    June 7, 2007

    No mention of intelligent design? So where is their stealth god hiding out this time?

    I like how they make it sound like there’s a big debate out there.

    The “debate” is five or six loud mouths in a fake Institute vs. thousands of biologists too busy doing real work or too polite to tell those twerps where to shove it.

    How much is the piece of crap selling for?

    I hope they at least used recycled paper.

    They can’t even get the grammar right:

    “Here’s four different samples from the book”

  36. #36 Ginger Yellow
    June 7, 2007

    “any true scientific study of the natural world, which should only be based on collection & curation, observation & measurement, laboratory experiment & prediction, and a generous helping of common sense.”

    Apart from common sense, which is the enemy of scientific inquiry, how does this not describe evolutionary biology?

  37. #37 Inoculated Mind
    June 7, 2007

    And then as they make more and more orwellian-sounding book titles, it will be interesting to see them try to promote them. “Explore Evolution” on a list of book options for a school board would scare half of them away, so the DI will have to assure them in many places that Yes, Explore Evolution really is Intelligent Design in disguise, and then the jig is up!

  38. #38 CortxVortx
    June 7, 2007

    Re #16:
    | The DI “Faulty” Towers seemingly has a new mission statement:
    | Don’t mention ID!
    | Don’t mention the authors!

    I mentioned it once, but I think I got away with it!

    “However did zey vin ze Culture War?”

    — CV

  39. #39 Marcus Ranum
    June 7, 2007

    “Explore Evolution is ideally suited for:

    AP Biology teachers who need a stimulating capstone unit for the last 5-6 weeks of their AP course after their students have taken the AP biology test.”

    Another way of putting it would be: EE is ideally suited for students that want to get out of having to go through college.

  40. #40 Kseniya
    June 7, 2007

    From The Merriam-West Online Dictionary:

    Main Entry: ex·plore
    Pronunciation: ik-‘splor
    Function: verb
    Inflected Form(s): ex·plored; ex·plor·ing
    Etymology: Latin explorare, from ex- + plorare to cry out
    transitive verb

    4 : to denigrate, esp. dishonestly, for defamatory purposes
    synonym see MALIGN

  41. #41 Monado
    June 7, 2007

    Ginge,

    He further argues that genuine natural science should be based solely on the living fauna & flora (which is [sic]also represented in museums), and not on tendentiously speculative and unprovable theories of the past that are best consigned to the realm of pure science fiction.

    In other words, he’s a collector and classifier who has no interest in the history of flora and fauna, which do change through time. So he can ignore the whole problem of mechanism and how those forms got there. Evolutionary biology deals with deep time, process, and explanation [a.k.a theory].

    And why do you say that common sense opposes scientific enquiry? Common sense positions, such as “Show me!” “Prove it!” Can you do it again?” “Can someone else do it following your instructions?” “Have you forgotten any other explanations?” “Does this violate the laws of physics?” “What are the facts?” and so on, are the lifeblood of science.

  42. #42 Chris
    June 7, 2007

    The next Dover trial isn’t going to be such a slam dunk. When some school district starts using this book, what’s going to be the legal argument against it?

    There isn’t one. It’s not illegal to replace good science with bad science, the way it’s illegal to replace it with religion.

    However, I would point out that there was also a Dover *election*, in which the creationists were thrown out en masse. Sometimes democracies have to depend on the people to wake up and make the right choice. It’s not perfect but the known alternatives are worse.

    As long as the people continue to elect school boards that prefer real science to junk or fake science, we’ll have good science curricula in public schools. And no longer. If this worries you – good. Pay attention to your school board elections. Don’t let creationists stealth-hijack another school board the way they did Dover’s.

    The problem of private schools – which are free to give lousy educations to any kids whose *parents* don’t mind – is a bit more intractable.

  43. #43 Tulse
    June 7, 2007

    The DI folks are getting tricksier. It is indeed interesting to see how the religious aspect of creationism has increasingly been watered down (from YEC, to creationism, to DI, to this), in order to make it more acceptable and pass Constitutional muster.

    As much as I hate to bring up the issue, there’s a sense that this the other side’s example of “framing”. DI seems to believe, and I think quite rightly, that they will have more success in sneaking creationism into schools by creating a textbook that doesn’t actually mention creationism, but just “questions” evolution.

    I’m an Uppity Atheist, and I think that the forthrightness of Dawkins et al. has brought an enormous amount of attention to the arguments for atheism. However, I do wonder if we don’t also need a more stealthy approach, to combat the DI’s new stealthy approach.

  44. #44 Bob O'H
    June 7, 2007

    It has a reference section. It includes a lot of legitimate papers — Gould and Raff and Valentine and Eldredge and Davidson and Erwin and so forth.

    Davidson!? Don’t tell me they describe JAD’s PEH for us. It would spoil all the fun.

    Bob

  45. #45 PZ Myers
    June 7, 2007

    No, no: Eric Davidson, the regulatory networks guy at CalTech.

  46. #46 David Marjanovi?
    June 7, 2007
    This is the honorific title by which he is generally known in the scientific community in Europe.

    There is no “scientific community in Europe”. There is a grand total of one scientific communities in the world.

    Liars.

    It does not imply that his degrees involved doctorates, but is on account of his voluminous scientific achievements.

    Has a university bestowed an honorary degree on him?

    If so, they’d mention it with immense pride. Liars.

    if Dawkins didn’t exist, the creationists would have had to invent him

    They couldn’t, even if they tried.

  47. #47 David Marjanovi?
    June 7, 2007
    This is the honorific title by which he is generally known in the scientific community in Europe.

    There is no “scientific community in Europe”. There is a grand total of one scientific communities in the world.

    Liars.

    It does not imply that his degrees involved doctorates, but is on account of his voluminous scientific achievements.

    Has a university bestowed an honorary degree on him?

    If so, they’d mention it with immense pride. Liars.

    if Dawkins didn’t exist, the creationists would have had to invent him

    They couldn’t, even if they tried.

  48. #48 David vun Kannon
    June 7, 2007

    PZ re#34 –

    I’m sure a college text is evolution through and through. That’s not the comparison you made. I’m also sure that Miller and Levine is in some sense reduced in content vis-a-vis evolution compared to what it should be. That is also not the comparison you made. All I’m suggesting is an apples to apples comparison if what you want to do is a heft test.

  49. #49 Eamon Knight
    June 7, 2007

    Re: possible court case. If the material in the book can be shown to be just warmed-over creationist chestnuts (and there’s a voluminous literature of examples AND refutations of same), then shouldn’t it be possible to get a ruling of “stealth religion” on that basis? I can see that it might be harder than previous cases, but IIRC the notorious Cobb County textbook sticker case was won on similar grounds.

    Someone correct me if I’m wrong.

    And I can’t help commenting, that this quote raises “concern trolling” to an unprecedented height:
    “Sadly, the majority of biology textbooks in use today are ‘dumbed-down’ and do a poor job explaining evolution,” said Dr. John West of Discovery Institute.

  50. #50 hoary puccoon
    June 7, 2007

    d’Abrera sounds like a Portuguese name and in Portugal the honorific “Dr.” is given to anyone with the equivalent of an American bachelor’s degree. So d’Abrera may, in fact, be called Dr. in Europe– or at least a small sliver of it on the Iberian peninsula– but not because of his “voluminous scientific achievements,” simply because he’s got a bachelor’s degree. The creationists have reached the point that if there’s ANY truth in their claims they feel virtuous.

  51. #51 jasonmitchell
    June 7, 2007

    “The next Dover trial isn’t going to be such a slam dunk. When some school district starts using this book, what’s going to be the legal argument against it?”

    actually the SAME argument that helped win in Dover: the Lemon Test (Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 (1971)adresses the MOTIVE of the school board/teacher in using the book:

    the “prongs” of the lemon test

    The government’s action must have a legitimate secular purpose;

    The government’s action must not have the primary effect of either advancing or inhibiting religion;

    The government’s action must not result in an “excessive government entanglement” with religion.

    introduction/use of this book would fail the lemon test if it could be shown that the singling out evolotion for critisism was becuse of a religous adgenda (2nd prong) because it would relatively EASY to show that it FAILS the 1st prong (it’s not valid science, therefore serves NO secular purpose)

  52. #52 Dan S.
    June 7, 2007

    Take the thumb out of your mouth and write your own book

    We* did. Many, many, many of them in fact. Silly man.

    * as in, the world scientific community, etc.

    Eamon’s question is a very interesting one. My quite uninformed impression is that such a strategy would fail on the secular purpose prong of the Lemon test- ie, one could argue a plausible, if stupid, secular purpose, but then again, quite uninformed, so correction would be welcomed. Any way, my working assumption is that any case that makes it to the current Supreme Court – with the possible exception of, say, one involving school-board mandated beatings for students who don’t affirm the literal truth of Genesis, with meeting minutes documenting an explicitly religiously-baed justification for this policy – is going to be a creationist victory.

  53. #53 Dan S.
    June 7, 2007

    jasonmitchell –
    if the first prong is that easy, good. Showing a religious agenda, though, unless the folks involved weren’t paying any attention to what happened at Dover/ have no impulse control . . .

    It still seems to me that it would be far, far harder, in this case, to show that there was no legitimate secular purpose. “But-but-but we’re Teaching the Controversy(tm)!” It was easy to show that ID wasn’t valid science with a clearly religious agenda – here we seem to be getting into – on the surface – much more nuanced questions.

  54. #54 jpf
    June 7, 2007

    introduction/use of this book would fail the lemon test if it could be shown that the singling out evolotion for critisism was becuse of a religous adgenda (2nd prong) because it would relatively EASY to show that it FAILS the 1st prong (it’s not valid science, therefore serves NO secular purpose)

    I disagree.

    They are selling the book as an evolution book, therefore singling out evolution is a non-issue. They are selling it as showing both the strengths and weaknesses of evolution, not merely criticism, which would be trivial to argue is a legitimate secular purpose (science is open to questioning). While the strengths they list may be purposefully misstated to be strawmen and the weakness may be entirely bogus, that doesn’t make this an issue of religious entanglement since (going by what I’ve seen linked to here) there is no religion in it. Bad science in text books isn’t illegal.

    Simply attacking evolution doesn’t on its own advance religion (assuming you don’t buy the creationist position “not Darwin, therefore God”), unless one offers a religious alternative. It was the Intelligent Design in Pandas that lost them that case since it was obviously creationism using different terms. I don’t think arguing something like “the only people who go on about Haeckel are creationists” is going to trigger a Lemon test prong.

  55. #55 jimmiraybob
    June 7, 2007

    An appropriate companion study guide countering point by point with real science would be a good start. If only there were any enraged, atheistic representatives from the NeoDarwinian-Hegemonic biological science cabal that might have the connections, status and pep to write one.

    But then again they’re probably too busy eating babies, kicking kittens and generally destroying the world.

  56. #56 mark
    June 7, 2007

    “‘dumbed-down’ creationism” is a pleonasm.

  57. #57 Zill Thompson
    June 7, 2007

    Who is this jpf dude? Have you seen the book? It explicitly denies common ancestry and argues for the old creationist evolution-within-kinds special creation model. The fact that it has deleted the words “creationism” and “intelligent design” is no more relevant than the previous changes in creationist terminology.

  58. #58 Blake Stacey, OM
    June 7, 2007

    In the past, creationists have been remarkably unable to keep the religion out of their fake science. When he profiled Richard Dawkins for Time Magazine, Behe admitted that Intelligent Design was religiously motivated.

    Of Richard Dawkins’ nine books, none caused as much controversy or sold as well as last year’s The God Delusion. The central idea—popular among readers and deeply unsettling among proponents of intelligent design like myself—is that religion is a so-called virus of the mind, a simple artifact of cultural evolution, no more or less meaningful than eye color or height.

    Well, no, that’s not the central idea, but thank you for being honest about where Intelligent Design comes from.

    So there’s always the chance that if we are vigilant, we’ll find the people adopting “Explore Evolution” in flagrante delicto.

  59. #59 Kseniya
    June 7, 2007

    Your not MY dad. My dad is a scarecrow and a tin man.

  60. #60 Rey Fox
    June 7, 2007

    Are you that loving God I’ve heard so much about?

  61. #61 jasonmitchell
    June 7, 2007

    re JPL/ comment #53

    you are misunderstanding who would be the plaintiffs/defendants in such a case – the publishers of the book can print whatever they want- but a PUBLIC SCHOOL cannot single out evolution for “critical analysis” and use this book w/o somone sueing them for violating the Constitution

  62. #62 kmarissa
    June 7, 2007

    Are you that loving God I’ve heard so much about?

    I won’t be convinced that he is until he floods the earth and kills nearly all humanity on a whim.

  63. #63 Kseniya
    June 7, 2007

    Rey, allow me to introduce you to Your Dad.

  64. #64 jpf
    June 7, 2007

    jasonmitchell: I see your point. If this book is framed (sorry!) as a critique of evolution and no other branch of science is similarly critiqued by the school board then that would be like with the text book stickers they tried before. This would be like putting the sticker in book form and handing it out separately.

  65. #65 sdfasd
    June 7, 2007

    asdfasdf

  66. #66 Ritchie Annand
    June 7, 2007

    Just keep up whatever dissemination you need to in order to make sure that people understand that EE is flawed science.

    If there is another ‘Dover’ in this matter, what is likely to be the case again is that a school board or principal or teacher will tip their hand as to why they selected this atrocious book, either in the debates beforehand or by being unable to help themselves proselytizing during class… I mean, sure, you can try and teach EE in class, but how do you handle the inevitable questions.

    (Perhaps we need a Questions to Ask About Exploring Evolution in Class pamphlet?)

    I still think a lawsuit might stand. Remember the stickers?

    This is one… giant… sticker.

  67. #67 Brownian
    June 7, 2007

    PZ, have you removed some comments? #51 and #58 at least appear to me to be dangling.

  68. #68 Kseniya
    June 7, 2007

    Yup Brownian, it appears that the trolling comments from “Your Dad” have been excised.

  69. #69 twincats
    June 7, 2007

    Jonathan Wells is a big fat guy.

    Uh, so?? As a big fat gal who wholeheartedly despises what Wells and his ilk are trying to do to our education system, I get rather ticked off at comments like this.

    I believe that the ever growing (no pun intended) percentage of overweight people in our society has its roots, at least in part, in evolution. Our species has evolved to make the most of any and all nutritional windfalls and this inevitably makes life in an environment of perpetual plenty a prime stage for what we are currently seeing in terms of overweight/obesity.

    In light of this, the only relevant statement to be made about Well’s size (IMHO) is that he has to blame it on sinful gluttony instead of evilution.

  70. #70 Veljko
    June 7, 2007

    Now, obviously, I don’t know much about how the American school system works, but can’t the book be challenged on the grounds that it’s spectacularly bad science? Or that it fails to teach what’s needed for a biology course?

    Otherwise I can’t imagine how it can be challenged. Certainly, it’s obvious it is designed (though not very intelligently) to defame evolution in order to boost…something (religion that dare not speak its name?) but saying that something is obvious and proving that it violates the establishment clause are two different things entirely.

    Or am I wrong? Is there a similar precedent?

  71. #71 Steve_C
    June 7, 2007

    I don’t see how obesity is a positive trait.

    Heart Disease and Diabetes are symptoms of an unhealthy diet.
    How is heart problems and insulin imbalance a good thing?

    Lean people live longer.

  72. #72 CJO
    June 7, 2007

    The argument re: obesity isn’t that it’s a “positive trait,” it’s that, for our ancestors, eating a lot of fat and sugar during the rare times those nutrients were available in any quantity was a positive trait.

    And the corollary is that evolution hasn’t noticed Hostess Cup Cakes cost $0.79 for three.

  73. #73 Kseniya
    June 7, 2007

    I don’t see how obesity is a positive trait.

    It’s not – and that’s not what Twincats was saying.

  74. #74 Kseniya
    June 7, 2007

    We see this in kept animals all the time, especially brainless little beauties like tropical fish. They’re programmed to eat when food is available. They don’t know when to stop. Feed them too much, they eat more than is healthy – sometimes in the extreme. Some/many people, unfortunately, have a tendency to behave the same way in times of plenty.

    Obesity used to be a symbol of wealth and prosperity. Nowadays, it’s becoming more expensive to be thin.

  75. #75 John Pieret
    June 7, 2007

    introduction/use of this book would fail the lemon test if it could be shown that the singling out evolotion for critisism was becuse of a religous adgenda (2nd prong) because it would relatively EASY to show that it FAILS the 1st prong (it’s not valid science, therefore serves NO secular purpose).

    Well, it’s not that easy. Let’s not forget that the court in Selman v. Cobb County found that the stickers did have secular purposes “to encourage students to engage in critical thinking as it relates to theories of origin” and “to reduce offense to those students and parent whose personal beliefs might conflict with teaching on evolution.”

    Having an entire book (even a BAD one) to meet those purposes could easily be found to have a secular purpose.

    The second prong depends on how the school board goes about deciding on the book. The court in Selman basically found that the hoo-haw that surrounded the adoption of the sticker would make an “objective observer” (under O’Connor’s “endorsement test”) conclude that a particular religious view was being favored. If the board played it close to the vest and the proponents of the book could refrain from trumpeting the religious content of the book, they could just get away with it … even assuming the newly reconstituted Supreme Court doesn’t get around to to gutting the Establishment clause first.

  76. #76 CalGeorge
    June 7, 2007

    I believe that the ever growing (no pun intended) percentage of overweight people in our society has its roots, at least in part, in evolution.

    It could have something to do with the tendency in America to sit immobilized before the television every evening for 4-5 hours (the national average).

    Or it could be the fault of SUVs and those giant pick-up trucks. People naturally want to fill out until they have a body to match the monstrosity they drive.

    We are evolving to fit our transportation.

  77. #77 PZ Myers
    June 7, 2007

    Some of the banned trolls, like the Kansas kid living in his mother’s basement and Yamil Luciano, have been acting up lately, so yes, I’ve actually had to delete a lot of comments.

    It would help if, when you see some stupid troll come along and just spit up some boring insults, you’d all just ignore it. I’ll delete the worst of it, eventually.

  78. #78 Blake Stacey, OM
    June 7, 2007

    Ritchie Annand asks,

    Perhaps we need a Questions to Ask About Exploring Evolution in Class pamphlet?

    I like this idea. Anything which helps teenagers be obnoxious and advances the cause of critical thinking is OK in my book.

    🙂

    I can already think of one question: “Why does the chapter on embryology only discuss Ernst Haeckel, when Haeckel’s theory was discarded and replaced with something better in the 19th century, and is only mentioned today in order to show how it was mistaken?”

  79. #79 Scotty B
    June 7, 2007

    Does anyone know of a good “watchdog group” for school textbooks, or perhaps a listing of some of the worst (or best) textbooks out there?
    I recently read the book “Lies My Teacher Told Me” which points out many of the problems with the textbook industry and how it is affecting the History textbooks, but I’m sure thats not the only subject in which this happens.

  80. #80 Great White Wonder
    June 7, 2007

    Bad science in text books isn’t illegal.

    What about bad science put in text books for the purpose of advancing religion?

    Is that illegal?

    I think it is. And I think it would be trivial to show that this textbook exists for the purpose of advancing religion.

  81. #81 Great White Wonder
    June 7, 2007

    Well, it’s not that easy. Let’s not forget that the court in Selman v. Cobb County

    Let’s not forget that the court in Selman v. Cobb County was addressing something quite different from these textbooks, at the height of the ID public relations war.

    Any team of good lawyers can turn this effort by the DI to promote their anti-science nonsense into a huge pile of melted dog crap.

  82. #82 Yamil Luciano
    June 7, 2007

    Unfortunately for you the United States is not a communist country, so it is not illegal yet.

    That’s why I am proud to be an American.

  83. #83 Brownian
    June 7, 2007

    But we hunger!

    Nothing kicks that 3:30 PM blood sugar low in the pants like troll flambé.

  84. #84 Steve_C
    June 7, 2007

    We’re also not chasing our prey in hunting parties…
    so while I understand that storing energy is a good trait.
    Eating giant donuts and slurping down giant sodas and
    being obese is not.

  85. #85 Tilsim
    June 7, 2007

    Indeed… someone must have left the dungeon door open.

  86. #86 John Pieret
    June 7, 2007

    Let’s not forget that the court in Selman v. Cobb County was addressing something quite different from these textbooks …

    Indeed. But the very extensiveness of a book makes it less suspect Constitutionally. Courts are not going to substitute their opinion of what constitutes good education for that of local board’s or micro-manage schools. If the book presents itself purely as science, without resort to god(s) or “designer(s),” it is, in all likelihood, going to pass the first prong of Lemon.

    I think it would be trivial to show that this textbook exists for the purpose of advancing religion.

    I doubt whichever Federal judge this lands in the lap of will be impressed by citations to your assertions. My experience practicing in front of Federal judges is that they prefer relevant case law.

  87. #87 Dylan Stafne
    June 7, 2007

    –Scotty B—-

    Does anyone know of a good “watchdog group” for school textbooks, or perhaps a listing of some of the worst (or best) textbooks out there?

    The Textbook League( http://www.textbookleague.org )is an excellent organization that sends out a journal six times a year that critiques, reviews, and occasionally demolishes middle-school and high-school textbooks in the United States, focusing especially (but not exclusively) on science and history.

    I don’t subscribe to the journal, but they have probably about a hundred reviews for free on their website. It’s frightening to know how horrible many textbooks are.

    They take a no-nonsense view against intelligent design, religious myths presented as history, touchy-feely cultural ultra-relativism, and simple gross incompetence on the part of publishers. Go check it out.

  88. #88 Great White Wonder
    June 7, 2007

    Indeed. But the very extensiveness of a book makes it less suspect Constitutionally.

    Uh, no. Not when the book is filled to the brim with well-known creationist lies and arguments.

  89. #89 MPW
    June 8, 2007

    While I respect what I think are thoughtful arguments on both sides, I’m among those who doubt that any adoption of this text would ultimately be a whole lot more difficult to shoot down in court than the Dover board’s actions were. We know from long experience that creationists CAN NOT shut up about their religion when discussing these matters. It reminds me of the hero with Tourettes Syndrome in Jonathan Lethem’s novel “Motherless Brooklyn.” Although he’s smarter by quite a bit.

    It seems to me that the same old people with the same old “my grandpa wasn’t a monkey/you just hate Baby Jesus” ideas & motives will be pushing this junk, and they’ll let the cat out of the bag again. They seem to have a blind spot, some of them – their fundie ideas are so “common sensical” and obviously right (factually and morally) that they have severe trouble spotting the lines where they cross over into the stuff you’re supposed to keep mum about. Others are sort of the theistic mirrors of PZ, in the sense that they believe that their cohorts who keep mum are part of the problem and to play that game is to surrender to the materialists and the Godless – more open shouting from the rafters is what’s needed to end the War Against Christians. I have trouble seeing any amount of legal and political coaching eliminating these weak spots entirely.

    On top of which, it sounds like the arguments presented in this book are really just the same old creationist/ID ones with those terms removed, which WOULD be an Establishment violation, no less than ID in public schools is. That ought to be transparent to any competent and honest judge, particularly if those facts are presented by a legal team as sharp as the plaintiffs’ team at Dover.

    Which isn’t necessarily to say that it will be transparent to the current Supreme Court. That prospect does worry me, although I don’t think we can safely predict at this point what the outcome would be. Still… ::shudder::.

  90. #90 John Pieret
    June 8, 2007

    Uh, no. Not when the book is filled to the brim with well-known creationist lies and arguments.

    But they’re not well-known to be lies to most Federal judges and they have no particular Constitutional incentive to learn if they are. For one thing, lying to children (as Terry Prattchett famously said) is inevitable in education and is not banned by the Constitution. The book (supposedly) refrains from overt religiosity and school boards, not the courts, are the bodies that are supposed to be in the best position to make educational decisions.

    But what more can I say? Blind faith can be a wonderful thing to behold … or not.

  91. #91 John Pieret
    June 8, 2007

    We know from long experience that creationists CAN NOT shut up about their religion when discussing these matters.

    That’s correct, I think. They’re going to trip up, if at all, on making it into an endorsement of religion during the textbook selection process. The problem, though, is that attacking on those grounds depends on the local fact pattern, not a Constitutional objection to the book itself. Like Christmas displays or the 10 Commandments in public places, it will have to be fought in each locality based on the particular facts in each place.

  92. #92 NC Paul
    June 8, 2007

    Let’s see – the right-wing want to undermine already parlous levels of science literacy in America, while simultaneously making it harder for companies and research institutions to make up the shortfall with science literate people from overseas?

    Why do the right wing hate America?

    Still, it does debunk the theory that the country is run by a cabal of cigar smoking industrialists. Rockefeller, Carnegie and Morgan would never have stood for godbotherers gnawing away at the foundations of the United States’ economic power in this way.

  93. #93 John Pieret
    June 8, 2007

    I may have spoken a little too soon and unjustifiably assumed that the DI, at least, would have the self-discipline to avoid self-inflicted foot wounds. According to a new paper by Barbara Forrest, the DI is holding an August 2007 “Science Teachers Symposium” entitled “Teaching Biological Origins” at Biola University on Explore Evolution. The schedule has a breakout session with the announced topic: “thinking critically about the materialistic assumptions of science textbooks.”

    Careful scrutiny of this meeting may help make the case that the book itself is religious in nature, though I still think that it is something of a long shot.

  94. #94 jasonmitchell
    June 8, 2007

    with cynical certainty I believe SOME schoolboard will adopt EE. I am also certain (as others as mentioned and as I have learned from reading Lenny Flank’s comments on PT) fundies are incapable of restraining themselves from preaching/boasting about how adopting EE IS about religion (remember Dover: “someone dies on a cross 2000 years ago…”)
    THERE WILL be another court case – the DI WROTE THE BOOK WITH THE INTENTION OF IT BEING CHALLENGED IN COURT- they (stupidly) think that they can get this via appeals to a court that can set precident (and win). The DI does not care that this process will bankrupt whatever school district is the “test case” – to them it is all about eroding the Constitution and establishing a theocracy (see the wedge doc.)

    We can talk until we are blue about how bad/unscientific/ rehashed creationism etc. this book is- the authors know – they are aware that they are engaged in apologetics and that they can’t be too subtle about it or the “flock”/ intended audience will miss it – already (I bet but do not have evidence) that sermons already are adressing “teach the contriversy”

  95. #95 Dan S.
    June 8, 2007

    “they (stupidly) think that they can get this via appeals to a court that can set precident (and win).”

    Why “(stupidly)”?

  96. #96 James Collins
    June 8, 2007

    People are wasting lots of time over the Creation evolution debate. This could be settled if the evolutionists would do the following:

    If evolutionists really want to end the arguments all they have to do is, get their brilliant heads together and assemble a ‘simple’ living cell. This should be possible, since they certainly have a very great amount of knowledge about what is inside the ‘simple’ cell.

    After all, shouldn’t all the combined Intelligence of all the worlds scientist be able the do what chance encounters with random chemicals, without a set of instructions, accomplished about 4 billion years ago,according to the evolutionists, having no intelligence at all available to help them along in their quest to become a living entity. Surely then the evolutionists scientists today should be able to make us a ‘simple’ cell.

    If it weren’t so pitiful it would be humorous, that intelligent people have swallowed the evolution mythology.

    Beyond doubt, the main reason people believe in evolution is that sources they admire, say it is so. It would pay for these people to do a thorough examination of all the evidence CONTRARY to evolution that is readily available: Try answersingenesis.org. The evolutionists should honestly examine the SUPPOSED evidence ‘FOR’ evolution for THEMSELVES.

    Build us a cell, from scratch, with the required raw material, that is with NO cell material, just the ‘raw’ stuff, and the argument is over. But if the scientists are unsuccessful, perhaps they should try Mother Earth’s recipe, you know, the one they claim worked the first time about 4 billion years ago, so they say. All they need to do is to gather all the chemicals that we know are essential for life, pour them into a large clay pot and stir vigorously for a few billion years, and Walla, LIFE!

    Oh, you don’t believe the ‘original’ Mother Earth recipe will work? You are NOT alone, Neither do I, and MILLIONS of others!

  97. #97 jasonmitchell
    June 8, 2007

    DanS: they stupidly believe that they will win!

    James Collins: you are conflating evolution with biogenesis – apples and oranges. One simplified way of defining evolution is the change in gene frequency within a population over time – you see we need populations of organisms with genes in place for evolution to act. the theory of evolution does not address the origin of life.

  98. #98 jasonmitchell
    June 8, 2007

    DanS: to elaborate on my answer – they can’t win because in order for them to win- it would require a judge to turn over existing precident of Aguillard/Lemon (AKA be an “activist judge”) who is sympathetic to this cause (conservative/fundie) and who is willing to stick his neck out to support this cause IN SPITE OF THE EVIDENCE (aka not be impartial) Such Judges exist (10 commandments guy in Alabama or Mississippi) but what are the chances of that standing up under appeal? (to the supreme court) Many conservative judges are “constructionist” believe in NOT CHANGING a LITERAL READING of the Constitution = you can carry a gun (bear arms) etc. How could a constructionist judge not support the separation of church and state?

  99. #99 DoubleStandard
    June 8, 2007

    Evolutionists give themselves the (convenient) liberty to separate (biological) evolution from abiogenesis while at the same time not giving the same liberty for Intelligent Design to seperate from creationism.

  100. #100 Bengt Larsson
    June 8, 2007

    So it should really be called “Criticize Evolution”. Point out that it’s dishonest to say “explore” when you mean “criticize”.

    Another tack is to write an equivalent book to “Explore Religion”.

  101. #101 brightmoon
    June 8, 2007

    The evolutionists should honestly examine the SUPPOSED evidence ‘FOR’ evolution for THEMSELVES.

    um, we did about 150 years ago, which is why we KNOW “separate creation” is a bad joke not a reality

    BTW plastid endosymbiosis makes “separate creation” a meaningless term

  102. #102 Kseniya
    June 8, 2007

    …try answersingenesis.org

    Wow, thanks for the tip. I never heard of that site. I’m sure it will be profoundly enlightening.

  103. #103 MPW
    June 8, 2007

    It should be pointed out that James Collins is just copying and pasting the same chunk of text he’s been putting up at other SB blogs and other web fora recently. Not just ignorant, but lazy, too. Of course, it’s easy to see how they go together.

    DoubleStandard sez: “Evolutionists give themselves the (convenient) liberty to separate (biological) evolution from abiogenesis while at the same time not giving the same liberty for Intelligent Design to seperate from creationism.”

    This is yet another example of a bit of evolution denial pseudologic so nonsensical it’s difficult to come up with a cogent response to it. You sound as if you think these disputes ought to be mediated by some sort of “gentleman’s agreement” whereby one gets to define words anyway that one wants to, while the other side behaves like good sports by refraining from pointing out the obfuscation. (Making it also a good example of evolution denial pseudologic that the denier probably doesn’t really believe, but simply finds convenient for the particular argument he’s making at the moment.)

    It’s not a matter of “convenience” or “liberty” but of facts. Abiogenesis and evolution are separate (if related) fields – because they deal with different processes and different questions. ID, however, shows all the hallmarks of being a form of creationism, making most of the same basic arguments (and towards essentially the same ends) with some of the terminology changed. Why does forthrightly asserting the first point oblige evolution supporters to ignore the second?

    If you really want ID to “separate” from creationism, complain to the ID leaders who keep associating with creationist ideas, playing to and cooperating with creationist crowds, and, oh, say, praising Creation Museums.

  104. #104 Keith Douglas
    June 9, 2007

    Ginger Yellow: Actually, I think a case could be made that it has always been about “creative destruction” – promoting discord so that there’s a “space” for the theocrats to move in. That’s why postmodernist approaches were used too.

    jpf: There is no legislation on the books that requires some sort of “expert review” for curricula? (I realize some of the problems with this, of course.)

    Ginger Yellow (#36): Theoretical guidance is also missing.

    Scotty B: The Textbook League does some of what you asked about.

  105. #105 Maronan
    August 29, 2007

    Have you braced yourself? It’s a quote from John West of the DI.

    Last warning: don’t read further if you aren’t thoroughly locked down, with a friend nearby in case resuscitation is needed. West is going to blow your mind.

    DISCLAIMER: I am not responsible for any seizures induced by the following text.

    Aha! You didn’t disclaim responsibility for damage sustained to your readers’ irony metres! You owe me a new irony metre, mate!

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