Shhh. The creationists are listening.

It's a little odd to find myself cited in a Polk County, Florida newspaper as evidence that their pro-ID activities have received "national attention."

Otherwise, it's an article that testifies to the inevitability of a conflict. A majority of the school board members in Polk want to insert creationism into the curriculum, and they've got a few supporters in the schools.

…an eighth-grade science teacher at Union Academy in Bartow spoke in favor of intelligent design, a belief that living organisms are so complex that they must have been created by some kind of higher force.

"When you talk about laws in nature it shows some order or design," said Lawrence Hughes, who has taught at the academy for 16 years. "The laws of nature don't support change from one organism to another organism."

What utter tripe. What we see in nature is that the boundaries are extremely fuzzy, and that there are no "laws of nature" that block change. Perhaps Mr Hughes would like to state what these laws are, exactly?

A few people are arguing strongly on the side of reason, but one gets the impression that the creationists have made up their minds and are spoiling for a fight.

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Arrgh, reading some of the letters to the editor for that newspaper, The Ledger, makes me angry.

As an interested amateur scientist (or perhaps simply science supporter) I am sad to see this. As an educator who teaches about government and legal processes, I'm looking forward to another Dover case and perhaps a Supreme Court case to finally put this idiocy to rest. My only concern, again as a supporter of science, rests in the composition of the current court but given the evidence and the obvious motives of the ID supporters, they would have to be partisan political hacks to render a decision in favor of ID.

By dogmeatib (not verified) on 21 Nov 2007 #permalink

What? Its 2007 and they still don't include evolution in their biology classes?
Universities are going to have to make it known that it will not recognize these schools as teaching science lessons and should refuse to accept pupils who have not undergone remedial teaching in biology.
Then again I doubt that this would make too much difference to the average creationist. Have you ever seen a single creationist who actually knew much about biology (yes I know they THINK they know everything about the subject)?
They don't think its a real subject worth worrying about.
They certainly don't want their children growing up interested in it and going off to university to study it!

Yes, they have made their minds up and there is going to be another court case. And even if they lose the court case, they will still attempt to teach Ignorant Delusion in science classes.

I don't understand why we don't just give all that Florida swampland back to the alligators. They'd have done a better job with it than folks like those on the Polk County Board of Education.

"they would have to be partisan political hacks to render a decision in favor of ID"

This court couldn't stand up to the base on that habeas corpus, for cryin' out loud. I don't see how they aren't hack enough to support ID.

As an Orlandoan and dweller of Central Florida, I happen to know that Trinity Broadcasting is supposed to be moving into the area. I suspect that this whole thing is a prelude to the madness on the horizon, given that we're supposed to ALSO be getting a Creation museum. I used to think Florida was so bright and sunshiny from the reflected light off all the concrete, since we'd slowly and patiently removed so much of the greenery. It seems now all that light comes from the gleaming eyes of people with freshly-washed brains.

But at least we're getting Harry Potter land at Islands of Adventure. At least we have that to hold onto.

"When you talk about laws in nature it shows some order or design..."

BOOP BOOP BOOP BOOP.

MORON ALERT MORON ALERT MORON ALERT MORON ALERT.

BOOP BOOP BOOP BOOP.

By CalGeorge (not verified) on 21 Nov 2007 #permalink

"My only concern, again as a supporter of science, rests in the composition of the current court but given the evidence and the obvious motives of the ID supporters, they would have to be partisan political hacks to render a decision in favor of ID."

Unfortunately, the conservative majority on the current Supreme Court very nearly exemplifies "partisan political hackery".

Unfortunately, the conservative majority on the current Supreme Court very nearly exemplifies "partisan political hackery".

I tend to agree, hence my concern, but the same could be said of Judge Jones prior to Dover.

By dogmeatib (not verified) on 21 Nov 2007 #permalink

Polk County isn't exactly a hotbed of enlightenment. Think rural, deep south, and you'll get a reasonable picture. Even if a jury of those ignoramuses upheld a court challenge, the Second District Court of Appeal won't, and the Florida Supreme Court wouldn't, either, even with Kenneth Bell and Raul Cantero on the court. Unfortunately, I expect it will actually get that far. Disgraceful, but that's Florida!

By anonymous dave (not verified) on 21 Nov 2007 #permalink

National attention? Make that international.

Over here in the Netherlands we still have religious education. My son's RE teacher has been feeding the class a certain amount of creationist nonsense (to protests from my son and one other boy) but apparently he's shut up now. It's not illegal here, but if he starts again I'm going to make a fuss.

Oh and by the way, this teacher is ... American.

Margaret Lofton:

"If it ever comes to the board for a vote, I will vote against the teaching of evolution as part of the science curriculum," Lofton said. "If (evolution) is taught, I would want to balance it with the fact that we may live in a universe created by a supreme being as well."

Why not just abolish science class altogether, Margaret?

Cretin.

By CalGeorge (not verified) on 21 Nov 2007 #permalink

Just another case of the inmates taking over the asylum. I am really getting tired of these imbecils trying to shove their mythology onto everyone else.This will be just another episode in the DUMBING DOWN OF AMERICA, hello dark ages here we come.

By Ex Patriot (not verified) on 21 Nov 2007 #permalink

Notice that the "science teacher" who's quoted, Lawrence Hughes, teaches at "Union Academy," which is not even a school under the jurisdiction of the school board. Southerners in my age bracket recall how the many "Christian Academies" in towns like Bartow came to be--they were created post-Brown v. Board of Education to keep, well, those people from befouling the purity of our Southern ladyhood.

"The laws of nature don't support change from one organism to another organism."
So by this person's opinion, I either wasn't born but was designed the way I am, or I am, despite apparent appearance, an exact duplicate of one of my parents. What a load. We observe change from one organism to another every time a child is born looking a bit different from the parents.

By HumanisticJones (not verified) on 21 Nov 2007 #permalink

MartinC:

That's exactly right. Political pressure can be incredibly effective.

Assume that Polk includes ID. If we could get a prominent university to threaten not to accept students from that school district it would be a huge blow. Statements like that helped turn Kansas from the path.

By Chris Bell (not verified) on 21 Nov 2007 #permalink

Polk County is one of those places that gives the rest of Florida some people to point and laugh at.

Thanks, city of Auburndale, for making me feel good about myself for all these years!

Union county Florida sounds like a delightful place. Voluntary ignorance will be school board mandated. These people are just setting up their children to fail. I don't know what fundies do for a living after they grow up, but it is clear that it can't be anything to do with knowledge or thinking.

It is quite clear that the school board doesn't care about the kids, schools, or anything relevant. They just want to start of fight, bankrupt the school district, and lose.

It really should be up to the Florida state school authorities and the Florida attorney general to enforce the law. I doubt they will do so.

Thank Cthulhu, I don't live in Union county. I'd move.

" I would want to balance it with the fact that we may live in a universe created by a supreme being as well"

Why not also balance it with the "fact" that we *may* live in a giant alien grade school science experiment, a la the terrarium I had in my 5th grade class? It seems that mixing up the word 'fact' with the qualifier 'may' makes the statement rather... well, pointless.

I don't know what fundies do for a living after they grow up, but it is clear that it can't be anything to do with knowledge or thinking.

They go into politics, obv.

""If it ever comes to the board for a vote, I will vote against the teaching of evolution as part of the science curriculum," Lofton said. "If (evolution) is taught, I would want to balance it with the fact that we may live in a universe created by a supreme being as well.""

Why in the world would the curriculum content come up for a vote by the school board? How is your random board member qualified to decide what should be taught in science, math, english, art, or history class?

Why don't we let the curriculum be determined by experts in the fields, as they are the best ones to decide what is and isn't important to know. Conveniently, the states have top experts in these fields already on their payrolls, at their universities.

If I want to know what should be taught in biology, I would consult a biologist, not Johnny's grandmother, Suzy Soccermom, or Reverand Jim. Most of these people do play an important part of our education system (except Reverand Jim), and making our schools run right for our children. But their opinions about what should and shouldn't be taught in classes are irrelevant.

Assume that Polk includes ID. If we could get a prominent university to threaten not to accept students from that school district it would be a huge blow.

I doubt it would make any difference. How many of those students go to universities anyway? From some of the comments it could be around zero.

We have places like Union county in the West USA, usually full of dust bowl immigrants with "rural" accents that are difficult to understand. The usual pattern is the boys knock up their girl friends and get married around 16. Things go downhill from there. But they are very religious.

#15:

I googled it, and it doesn't appear that Union Academy is a "deseg academy" as you imply.

Even worse. It is an academic magnet school, for the best and brightest of Polk County. That mean's this Lawrence Hughes is distributing his drivel to everybody, not just those ignorant by choice.

Oh well, I guess it's hard to withstand the zeitgeist of ignorance.

(Oh, here's a link to the Union Academy page.)

By spudbeach (not verified) on 21 Nov 2007 #permalink

If they want to be a test case for the 'teach the controversy strategy' then, what the heck, why not go the whole hog and show them exactly what this entails. It is only by ridiculing their premise that we can hope to get through to these people. They should be shown that it is not a dichotomy of science versus intelligent design, rather its a question of science versus any one of virtually unlimited numbers of competing pseudoscientific theories. Lets see them try to run a school where ALL sides of every subject are given equal time. Why should biology suffer on its own? Lets get all sides of the question of the usage of the correct english grammar, all sides of the mathematics question (why does the 'two plus two equals four' theory currently get ALL the class time?) How about history lessons - do I hear David Irving is available?
How about flat earth geography lessons?

The comments on the site linked to the other day are hilarious too...

And I never said we shouldn't teach evolution, I said we should make sure the kids can do read and do math...you KNOW a lot don't graduate at all, and of those many can't read and do math at an even junior college level.

And further, where did I appose freedom of religion? I didn't, so your response is a deliberate smear...i.e., a lie.

This precious gem was a few posts after the cdesign proponentsists (oops) accused teaching evolution of worsening the drug and gun situation in schools.

Thanks, spudbeach #24. I agree with you: that is worse. Forgive me if I decline the opportunity to visit their web page.

Seriously here folks I have a question:

HOW DOES THIS RIDICULOUS TRIPE EVEN REEMERGE AFTER DOVER?

Can you imagine our nations science curriculum if this trash is ever given it's bonafides?

I'd have no problem if it was an actual competing theory but what is the theory? What tests are being done to prove it? What evidence is there at all?

I mean they quite literally have nothing and still waste calories, time, and money. Are there lives that freaking empty?

Re: ...Perhaps Mr Hughes would like to state what these laws are, exactly?

1. DNA Base pairing laws
2. gene shuffling during meiosis
3. Mendelian Laws of Inheritance

Re: "When you talk about laws in nature it shows some order or design," said Lawrence Hughes, who has taught at the academy for 16 years. "The laws of nature don't support change from one organism to another organism."

*So if the parents of a child born with blonde hair, both have dark hair, is this due to the child's use of hair products, a parent having an affair, magic, or one or more of the specified laws of nature indicated above?

By Tony Jeremiah (not verified) on 21 Nov 2007 #permalink

Are there lives that freaking empty?

Yes, of course. Why do you even ask? These are Death Cultists. They are just filling up empty hours while waiting for god to show up for the Rapture and destroy the earth and kill 6.7 billion people. Supposed to happen any day now, so why plan for the future?

If I had a time machine, I'd travel back to 1861 and convince Abe Lincoln to let them secede.

By obscurifer (not verified) on 21 Nov 2007 #permalink

one gets the impression that the creationists have made up their minds and are spoiling for a fight.

Imagine that.

[they] accused teaching evolution of worsening the drug and gun situation in schools.

This is astonishingly stupid. Everyone knows that things started to go to hell when God, in the form of prayer, was taken out of our Schools.

Or did they? A quick glance at the 20th-century timeline reveals the truth:

1954 "Under God" inserted into Pledge
1955 Blackboard Jungle released in March
1955 Rebel Without A Cause released in October
1956 "In God We Trust" replaces "E Pluribus Unum" as national motto in July
1956 Seismic disturbances detected at gravesites of Jefferson, Madison and Adams
1956 Elvis hits the big time
1957 "In God We Trust" first appears on U.S. paper currency
1962 Court finds school prayer unconstitutional
1963 Court finds Bible reading over school intercom unconstitutional

Only one conclusion is possible. If national leadership during the Eisenhower years had just left the Pledge alone, we wouldn't be in this mess.

"When you talk about laws in nature it shows some order or design," said Lawrence Hughes, who has taught at the academy for 16 years. "The laws of nature don't support change from one organism to another organism."

Similarity shows that a common designer
With similar blueprints and parts
Constructed the human and cuttlefish forms--
I swear by all three of your hearts.

The God who created the heavens and earth
And killed dinosaurs off in The Flood
Used the same old ideas again and again
You can tell by your copper-green blood.

...

(the complete verse is at http://digitalcuttlefish.blogspot.com/2007/11/cuttlefish-in-genesis.html . I wrote it a while back, so it didn't seem right to just cut and paste the whole thing into this comment.)

As I posted on the previous tag about this subject, it is all pretty depressing down there. A few seriously deluded fundies monopolise the posting forums (eg at the Lakeland Ledger) countered by a few of us who try to bring a sample of rational, secular debate to the issue that the School Board is preparing to vote against adopting the State Science curriculum. I know that some other posters here have sent copies of the Dover trial verdict to the School Board members and others have intimated that if it comes to a legal fight that various bodies from the secular portion of society will help out. But I would ask all concerned to try to influence opinion so that the NO vote does not occur. It's of no use to schoolkids in a bankrupt borough that 'we' won the argument when they have few good teachers and no materials with which to learn.

"The laws of nature don't support change from one organism to another organism."

This is only a soundbyte, but it is always irksome philosophically when causality is ascribed to natural laws. Laws cause nothing because they are nothing, at least regarding the grounds of their existence.

The most common form of this error to the subject at hand appears in variants of the "2nd law of thermodynamics" claim: the 2nd law of TD precludes, prevents, denies, etc. Simply put, the 2nd law of TD does not have causal power and can never be properly understood to do any of the things often attributed to it--or anything else for that matter.

Laws are conceptions we generate to grapple with phenomena.

"When you talk about laws in nature it shows some order or design," said Lawrence Hughes, who has taught at the academy for 16 years. "The laws of nature don't support change from one organism to another organism."

What utter tripe. What we see in nature is that the boundaries are extremely fuzzy, and that there are no "laws of nature" that block change. Perhaps Mr Hughes would like to state what these laws are, exactly?

Of course he's falling for the old "evolution is random" nonsense. He states that "laws of nature" show "order" or "design", which is true for the former, questionable for the latter (as we know from humans, disorder may be the result of design).

And the order that we see is due in large part to evolution. True, nature is not as ordered as the Linnaean system suggests, however Linnaeus did not create an arbitrary imposition onto nature, for his system imperfectly mirrors the cladistic patterns which do reveal themselves in nature.

The IDists and creationists want to take away the order that evolution produced, and to say that everything above a very imprecise "microevolutionary level" is in fact due to the whim of some God we inherited from our violent past. Sure, they suppose that this God made some order (mainly because they want to claim what we see for their Sovereign), but without any evident purpose or reliable order (that is to say, for some unfathomable reason "poor design" comes from this God's slavish devotion to adapting the past, and yet ID depends on God not always being slavishly devoted to adapting from the past).

No, the only side that pays any respect to order is our side. Their side looks at order and says "Duh-eee, we don't know why it exists, and you yourself have no right to come up with explanations."

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

Stephen (#12),

We're awfully sorry. We tried to clear up this infection before it spread. Apparently we weren't successful. We rational Americans are thoroughly embarrassed.

Actually, because it deals with constitutional issues, the trial would not go to a local court, would not have a jury trial, nor even grace a Florida court, it would jump up to the Federal level a'la the Dover trial. The question would be whether or not the judges who serve that district are "political hacks" or actual constitutional adherents.

By dogmeatib (not verified) on 21 Nov 2007 #permalink

But at the federal level, the case would start in district court and could be appealed only to the 11th circuit.

The 11th did not distinguish itself in the Cobb County "evolution stickers" case. It remanded the case and told the trial court to 'try again' after the trial court ordered the stickers removed.

Although, to be fair, the district judge in Cobb County was no Judge Jones.

By Chris Bell (not verified) on 21 Nov 2007 #permalink

Chris,

Yes, the process would go District court, then the 11th, then potentially to the Supreme Court. This would especially be likely if the ruling in the 11th was different than the Dover decision, when you have multiple rulings in different districts the Supreme Court is more likely to hear the case.

May or may not be a good thing depending on the compositions of the individual courts.

By dogmeatib (not verified) on 21 Nov 2007 #permalink

Aaargh. Why is it that IDiots see a pattern - any pattern - and assume that it implies conscious agency?

Of course he's falling for the old "evolution is random" nonsense. He states that "laws of nature" show "order" or "design", which is true for the former, questionable for the latter (as we know from humans, disorder may be the result of design).

He sounds like our old friend Timothy Birdbrain, Evolution Not Random After All.

By Joe Blough (not verified) on 21 Nov 2007 #permalink

Well, PZ, I wrote a lettor to the editor of the Daytona Beach News Journal. It wasn't in there today, but when you are mentioned in my local paper, then you've hit the big time!

By firemancarl (not verified) on 21 Nov 2007 #permalink

Hi,

Yes, the fundies want to stuff ID Creationism down the throats of those destined to have literacy. But, they did note that Dover School District took a huge financial loss from Kitzmiller. In their view, this is a good thing.

Actually, ##39, 40 & 41, any potential litigation over this matter could be initiated in either state court or federal court. If filed in state court, it could be removed to federal court (though there are often prudential reasons not to do so). Just because it presents an obvious federal constitutional question does not give the federal judicial system exclusive jurisdiction over it. While state courts have exclusive jurisdiction over purely state-law questions (absent a few exceptions that are not relevant here), state courts have concurrent jurisdiction with federal courts over "cases and controversies" which present federal questions. State courts, even down to the lowest levels such as city magistrates, make rules on federal constitutional claims all the time, such as when someone defending a traffic ticket makes an unreasonable search or seizure claim under the (federal) Fourth Amendment.

Just to clarify...

Florida makes me think global warming (and the resulting sea level rise) might be a good idea...

By Robert Thille (not verified) on 21 Nov 2007 #permalink

Since the school district gets state funding derived from taxes, the state of Florida could just tell them to knock it off or cut their funding.

There are charter schools in some states that get state funding. If they don't teach to state standards, their funding gets cut. I know one school district that had 15 million dollars cut for this. Creos wallow in ignorance, no big deal for them.

#47 You are right, but actually the federal courts (and thus the 11th Circuit) can be sidestepped altogether, by bringing the action under the Florida Constitution, which has its own establishment clause. It's a disgrace that the matter might have to be litigatated, but the state courts in Florida are not as backwards as its politicians.

By anonymous dave (not verified) on 21 Nov 2007 #permalink

With respect to this Lawrence Hughes...

So far I can tell you this: while Mr. Hughes is not currently teaching science at Union Academy (a magnet junior high in Polk District), he does hold valid credentials in the state of Florida for General Science (Gr. 5-9) and Biology through the year 2013. So, whether I like what he was quoted as saying to the Polk board or not, he is likely perceived as a reliable source where science is concerned within the district.

Interestingly enough, Wesley Elsberry has already written an open letter to the Polk board explaining in no uncertain terms why they are playing with dynamite.

One good reason why it might be better for this to stay in state court, as opposed to federal court, is that state constitutions typically have more forceful clauses in regards to separation of Church and State.

For instance, from the Florida state constitution: "No revenue of the state or any political subdivision or agency thereof shall ever be taken from the public treasury directly or indirectly in aid of any church, sect, or religious denomination or in aid of any sectarian institution."

Seems like spending money to teach ID in schools which acts as a proxy for the Christian creationist movement might fall under this. The federal constitution, while I read it as being clear, is a little easier to twist around.

I just ran into references to Polk Country public schools last weekend as I was researching resistance to mandatory uniforms in public schools. Here is a parent web page that provides details of their failed fight against uniforms:

http://www.gate.net/~rwms/Uniform.html

So it doesn't surprise me to read their school board wants to inject creationism into the curriculum. What sickens me is that my own public school system in Akron, OH is going to mandate school uniforms for all K - 8 schools in the city. I guess they want everybody to pretend that our failing public schools will succeed now that the students all look like they attend parochial schools.

I knew that I had to get out of this state . . .