Utah Evolution Saga Continues

And continues to get more ridiculous as well. This Chris Buttars is some piece of work. It's frightening that someone this badly education could have any influence at all on how children are educated, but that's electoral politics for you. You'll recall from the other day that the Utah Superintendant of Public Instruction, Patti Harrington, was quoted as saying that human evolution could not be taught in Utah public schools because there's no evidence for it. Now another Utah education official says that teachers can teach human evolution, it's just not required. And Buttars says that Harrington told him that teachers who do teach evolution "will be dealt with".

The official in charge of Utah's public school curriculum said Friday there will be no change in the way human evolution is taught, despite a state senator's claims to the contrary.

Sen. Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan, had earlier suggested he would propose legislation that would enforce the teaching of alternative concepts of human existence. Now he says conversations with the state superintendent of schools have left him confident that teachers who teach the evolution of humanity "will be dealt with."

But the state's director of curriculum, Brett Moulding, said the standard for the teaching of biological diversity does not prohibit the teaching of human evolution.

Although state policy does not specifically mention human evolution, Moulding said there is nothing to stop teachers and students from making the logical jump that people are biological organisms.

"And most of the textbooks make that jump for them," he said. "That's what has always been taught; we haven't made any changes since 2003."

Moulding said no action would be taken against teachers who taught human evolution as part of their courses.

"If they chose to do so, that would be in the curriculum," he said...

But Buttars said schools need to respect the values and beliefs of students and their parents.

"In my constituency," he said, "the vast majority believe God created man and we are his spirit children, not his spirit apes."

He pledged to give the state's schools a reprieve of one legislative session "to get the people who are out of line into line."

If that doesn't happen, he said, he will resume his quest to force public schools to teach a theory known as "intelligent design" alongside evolution.

Nothing like teachers being threatened by a dimwitted state legislator who really should be in a science class, not playing a role in what is taught there.

Categories

More like this

Some of you may remember the story of Chris Buttars, the Utah state legislator who submitted a bill to require the teaching of "divine design" in public school science classrooms in that state. That led to a couple of long exchanges between myself and John West, associate director of the Discovery…
My thanks to flatlander for keeping me up to date on happenings in Utah. Our favorite state legislator west of the Mississippi, Chris Buttars, is back and this time he has secret legislation to pursue in his crusade against evolution: A Utah senator says he has opened a confidential bill file…
Chris Buttars, the eternally clueless Utah state Senator, certainly didn't get the answers he wanted from the Utah state school board. Buttars has been threatening to submit a bill to mandate the teaching of "divine design" - a slightly more honest version of intelligent design - if the school…
Thanks to flatlander for keeping me up to date on what's going on in Utah. Sen. Chris Buttars' anti-evolution bill is still being debated and some changes are being considered. The Deseret News reports: SB96's House sponsor, Rep. Jim Ferrin, R-Orem, wants to substitute the bill a third time, taking…

I am a biology educator and I, on occasion, am beginning to feel a rising tide of persecution. And I'm a Christian for goodness sakes.

Evolution is as factually supported as a theory that far ranging into time is likely to be. It is shameful that an elected official behaves in such a manner. It reeks of fascism.

I'd call it a localized absurdity that people on the other side of the issue will typically try to make a rule out of.

Maybe if biologists, like, H. Allen Orr, (a biologist at the University of Rochester), weren't such rockheads:

Organisms aren't trying to match any "independently given pattern": evolution has no goal, and the history of life isn't trying to get anywhere . . . Despite all the loose talk about design and machines, organisms aren't striving to realize some engineer's blueprint; they're striving (if they can be said to strive at all) only to have more offspring than the next fellow.

C'mon dude... open your freaking eyes!... do we really look like we're not progressing in a very specific direction???

What, for example, does our exponentially increasing technological advancement have to do with how well the next idiot in line can make babies?

What lameness makes you think that this means nothing in the grand scheme of things?

Get a clue and maybe the absurdities will go away...

island i am guessing that you are being sarcastic. Otherwise I find little that Mr.Orr said disagreeable.

If that doesn't happen, he said, he will resume his quest to force public schools to teach a theory known as "intelligent design" alongside evolution.

I thought he called it divine design. He is one confused dude, dude.

Just to let you know, science will go overseas. (Or to Canada, which isn't separated from the US by a sea) with this silliness from the religious people. And much good science has gone overseas. It will eventually ruin the US economy.

I am old enough, at 56, to not particularly care. But you young people certainly should care.

Actually I do care. I have nieces and nephews who will have to live in the environment that we leave them. I care mightily. Even though we don't have kids, we have relatives who are kids, and I hate the fact that religionists are controlling education in the US. At all levels, not just k-12. It's sending scientific research elsewhere.

GH... what I should have said was... "I find little that i said"... wrong, so one of us is clueless, and it isn't me.

Island, as you wish. I don't pay a lot of attention to the UK media, and can't follow French media (I don't read French) but I do read German language media (Der Spiegel and the Sueddeutsche Zeitung) and haven't noticed anything odd going on over there.

Considering how mercantile the Chinese are (and I'll admit that I'm being "racist" but it's intended in a positive way), I really wonder how much they might reign it in. Probably nothing. That would be the correct descion.

"What, for example, does our exponentially increasing technological advancement have to do with how well the next idiot in line can make babies?"

So, I guess technology allowing the survival of babies to a greater degree is not helping our species? Do you even think or do you just continually allow people to shovel crap back into your ass for the sake of religion?

I'm with GH. I don't see anything in Orr's statement that is the least bit objectionable. He is speaking not specifically of human beings but of organisms in general and he is right. There is nothing to indicate that evolution is a goal-driven process and much to indicate that it is not. Human beings may well be exempted from much of what he said, or at least be minimally applicable to us, because so much of human behavior is shaped by cultural factors as well as genetics and because technology (external adaptation) limits the effect of natural selection so much in humans. But I doubt Orr would deny that.

So, I guess technology allowing the survival of babies to a greater degree is not helping our species? Do you even think or do you just continually allow people to shovel crap back into your ass for the sake of religion?

LOL... Do "i" think?... What a joke... Do you ever stop to think that maybe, just maybe, there's more to it than religion?... Hell no, you automatically knee-jerk react to the fanaticism just like the rest of the sheep on your side of the reactionary fense:

http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/...9/30/ 2003204990
Living organisms obviously embody arrangements of matter into complex structures. They transform chemicals and, in an orderly fashion, transport and store them in purposeful ways. Above the level of individual organisms, they form societies and ecosystems. All of us are familiar with these fundamental biological notions, and we are all part of these processes. Order seems to be the name of the biological game, and evolution leads to more complex organisms and more organized structures.

A new theory states that it is entropy which drives evolution to higher levels of complexity -- for the sole purpose of disseminating energy gradients

Thus, goes the argument, the second law of thermodynamics is not contrary to the existence of life; rather, it is the cause of life. That law drives evolution to higher levels of complexity and to more sophisticated societies and technologies for the sole purpose of disseminating energy gradients.

The more complex the structure the more effective is the energy dissemination. Populations are better in this respect than single individuals; ecosystems even more so, and most effective of all -- so far -- are human high-tech societies

Ed, he may be speaking generally, but Orr was speaking in context with intelligent design, so if as you say, humans are "exempt"... then he should get on topic... ;)

So, island, can you provide a link to this scientific research on this new theory that for some reason thinks the 2LoT has anything to do with the ToE? Maybe you could also show the evidence as well that the Earth is NOT getting plenty of energy from the sun? Since this misinterpretation of the 2LoT states our planet is moving further with entropy that means we're not getting any energy from an outside source.

FYI... I have no idea what you're talking about:

Maybe you could also show the evidence as well that the Earth is NOT getting plenty of energy from the sun? Since this misinterpretation of the 2LoT states our planet is moving further with entropy that means we're not getting any energy from an outside source.

island is not taking the creationist position that the 2LOT is violated by evolution. He takes the unusual position that the 2LOT actually drives evolution to greater complexity (if I'm reading that incorrectly, I'm sure he will correct me).

You're right Ed... In fact, one of the authors of the book that's referenced on my site, Eric Schneider, is cited in the EvoWiki as a source for rebuttal for creationists abuses of the second law of thermodynamics.

The other author is Carl Sagan's son... but Schneider and James Kay, (unfortunately deceased at a very young age), wrote this:

Schneider, Eric D. and James J. Kay. "Life as a manifestation of the second law of thermodynamics." Mathematical and Computer Modelling 19(6-8): 25-48. http://www.fes.uwaterloo.ca/u/jjkay/pubs/Life_as/lifeas.pdf

AP.Org - Life obeys the second law by way of what is known of as an "emergence" of capabilities that enable it to more efficiently pay the growing entropy debt that comes with maintaining the high degree of complexity that is necessary to life's organization.

That's from the link you provided regarding that article. Now to refute that and answer your second post:

Wikipedia - Since its discovery, the idea that disorder tends to increase has been the focus of a great deal of thought, some of it confused. A chief point of confusion is the fact that the result ÎS ⥠0 applies only to isolated systems; notably, the Earth is not an isolated system because it is constantly receiving energy in the form of sunlight. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entropy

Therefore, you don't have a case.

island is not taking the creationist position that the 2LOT is violated by evolution. He takes the unusual position that the 2LOT actually drives evolution to greater complexity (if I'm reading that incorrectly, I'm sure he will correct me).

You mean like Prigogine's work on dissipative structures?

That's a new one on me Dave... but I'm thinking that I need to investigate, so can you reference some books or papers that I can read?

I haven't taken the time to read island's page because, frankly, the physics is lost on me. But it shouldn't be treated like a creationist argument. It sounds more to me like it fits with Kauffman's principles of self-organization.

Here is a book (from Oxford University Press) on what island is talking about. It sounds kind of interesting. Just from the description of the book it sounds like they are abstracting physical laws & prinicples to a more metaphysical search for the origins of life. It all sounds very interesting, but frankly this is not something you can teach in high school science classes. It sounds more like philosophy than science, which is the whole problem with teaching ID. If you taught it in a philosophy class, no one would care. The conflict comes in when you start teaching theological / metaphysical ideas as if they were alternatives to evolution -- which they are not. They are in a separate realm of thought.

Yeah, Ed... the only difference is that our capability for isolating the release of enough energy to create real, massive particles from vacuum energy... DIRECTLY AFFECTS THE SYMMETRY OF THE UNIVERSE.

Which justifies "fine-tuning".

The page on The Entropic Anthropic Principle isn't as difficult, but I can assure you that the physics on the first page is as correct as it is important to all of this.

FYI, worm eater:
Barrow and Tipler's version is incomplete, as taken from Dirac's incomplete and flawed cosmological model.

Fix that model and you've got a lot more than a circular reasoned tautology... ;)

island --

From this page about Anthropic Cosmological Theory:

...the Anthropic Cosmological Principle is essentially a metaphysical statement and it is still unclear (perhaps never knowable) whether it is true.

Also some good info at Wikipedia. But again, all these places are dealing with this as philosophy, or perhaps theoretical physics, not as something that has been experimentally verified.

I think the point here about teaching evolution is that students need to be familiar with currently accepted scientific models in order to function well in our society. Hopefully those that are interested can pursue studies in more obscure / experimental areas.

So again, this theory not really appropriate for high school science class, but interesting nonetheless.

Thanks wormeater... and the Anthropic Principle is a true physics data point, although when taken for its face value it essentially just says that we're here and things have to be right for us to be here, so it must be for good reason.

Add to that the ever growing number of "balanced" anthropic coincidences that have been discovered since Robert Dicke found the first one and you've got more than philosophy or theoretical physics.

The whole ID argument for the "Privileged Planet" is based on the hard physics of the anthropic principle.

Like I said though... what they're using and abusing is incomplete...

So again, this theory not really appropriate for high school science class, but interesting nonetheless.

I agree, but if ID and Spagetti Monsters are good enough, then I can't imagine that a little real science could hurt... ;)

This is a great link for comparing the different cosmological principles, (see: bottom of page for links to the others):

http://www.jca.umbc.edu/~george/html/courses/glossary/cosmo_principle_copern.html

It's a great link in context with these linked anomalies that are observed to exist in direct defiance of the copernican cosmological principle and in favor of something more biocentric in nature, because the anthropic principle notes that the physics of the universe evolves specific "sites" that are conducive to life.

http://photos12.flickr.com/18135101_1ef7723b85_b.jpg

http://photos13.flickr.com/18135102_07a58fd89d_o.jpg

As a biocentric principle, we should find life on most every banded spiral galaxy that exists balanced *between* the relevant spectrum of potential, which means that the anthropic principle predicts that we'd be wasting our time looking in the older or newer systems... not unlike it predicts that life won't be found on Venus or Mars for the same reason.

Island still is yet to show that Orr is incorrect (or a "rockhead"). Orr represents the mainstream scientific viewpoint -- that evolution is an undirected processed governed by natural laws (ie, selection, mutation, drift, learned behaviors, etc). The only thing that "determines" where evolution goes is selection, which predicts the most fit individuals (those that leave the most offspring) will pass on their alleles to the next generation disproportionately.

The metaphysical (or physical) hypothesis that he presents is not part of the (current) evolutionary theory. If it does gain some acceptance, it can be considered part of evolutionary theory. Island can argue for it, but he should refrain from calling Orr (and, indirectly, all biologists) a rockhead.

Keep in mind, most of evolution occurred before humans (or mammals, for that matter) even appeared on earth.

I agree with RPM and Ed. Although some of what island has presented is interesting it is by no means proven or even compelling. That isn't to say it won't be considered so in the future.

Just for the record, GH, I didn't say what you're agreeing with. I said only that I hadn't bothered to read it because I likely wouldn't understand the physics of it anyway, so I couldn't pass judgement one way or the other. My disagreement with island has been in his characterization of Orr's statement. I find nothing objectionable in Orr's statement (or in the volumes of Orr's work with which I am familiar, for that matter).