Category Archives: Evolution

Answering idiocy

It’s not often that I feel inspired to respond to things I read in the newspaper.

Well, that’s not quite right. There’s enough madness in any given issue that I usually have a response to it. But a response in writing, submitted to the same newspaper? That’s a rarity.

So when a fellow atheist passed this story in the Albany Times Union on to me, I was mostly unimpressed. At first. And then I read the entire thing, and got to thinking.

I originally wrote this response in an e-mail to the opinion editor of that newspaper, but it’s been a couple of weeks now, and I haven’t heard back from them about whether or not it’d be published. So what the hell? Let’s publish it here.

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Maybe Texas can catch a break after all!

It’s a good day for science education in Texas. According to the National Center for Science Education, the Texas Board of Education voted unopposed in favor of supplementary educational materials that promoted sound science, and didn’t approve any of the pro-Creationism propaganda. NCSE director Eugenie Scott is very happy:

“These supplements reflect the overwhelming scientific consensus that evolution is the core of modern biology, and is a central and vital concept in any biology class. That these supplements were adopted unanimously reflects a long overdue change in the board. I commend the board for its refusal to politicize science education.”

Always great to hear good news in the political battle between real science and nonsense.

Now if only Texas could do something about its teen pregnancy rates, which have grown to some of the highest levels in the nation ever since they adopted abstinence-only sex ed… or, better yet, if only they could convince potential presidential candidate Rick Perry that abstinence-only sex ed isn’t working:

Abstinence makes the heart grow randy.

At least all those frisky teens will finally have access to good science education!

Texas can’t catch a break.

When it comes to its education standards, Texas has had a lot of bad luck these last few years.

Whether they were contending with a willfully ignorant dentist whom Texas Governor Rick Perry somehow thought was qualified to chair the State Board of Education (SBoE) and who decided it was his job to stand up to the experts on the subject of evolution, or debating how to keep radical ideologues from revising the social studies curriculum to take emphasis off of the influence of the Enlightenment on America’s founding fathers and “to identify significant conservative advocacy organizations and individuals, such as Newt Gingrich, Phyllis Schlafly and the Moral Majority,” advocates for good education have had their hands full for quite a while.

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Francis Collins, Evangelical Christianity, and the NIH

So President Obama nominated Francis Collins as Director of the National Institutes of Health. I’ve been debating whether or not to blog about this, because I’m ambivalent about the decision and because it’s been so heavily covered already by other atheist bloggers and writers. But I read this story in Newsweek and felt that I should speak my peace about the subject.
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Ray Comfort pisses me right the hell off.

This is from an excerpt (PDF) from a book written by Crocoduck enthusiast and creationist troll Ray Comfort, entitled Evolution: A Fairy Tale for Grownups.

This book will no doubt be seen by some as “quote mining.” This is the practice of taking a quote (often out of its context), and using it in a way that was never intended by the author. However, every gold nugget is legitimately mined out of its context. No one seriously values the earth that encases the gold. So, when I uncover an evolutionary expert quietly admitting that he has no evidence to back up his theory, I don’t see any value in the soil of his surrounding words. I merely extract what I believe is of value for those who want to discover the truth about the theory of evolution.

That’s right, Ray, rationalize your deceptive behavior. After all, it’s okay to lie for Jesus, like when you introduce Charles Darwin as “a man who became disillusioned about God [and] formed a theory that all this amazing order and complexity came from nothing and randomly evolved over time.”

For a quick overview of the kind of idiocy Ray Comfort considers ‘evidence’ that evolution is a fairy tale, check out his blog post about the book. Skip right over mass of the nonsense and look for some comments by a user named ‘Carl’ where he shows precisely why Ray is such a fan of quote mining (or just making quotes up from whole cloth).

I almost wish there were a hell so that there could be special places reserved in it for people like Ray who fill other people’s heads with misinformation and who promote the “values” of gullibility and credulity.

Betraying the Lie

Advocates of the non-science of Intelligent Design often respond indignantly to the claim that ID is really nothing more than a religious claim dressed in a thin garment of scientific-looking language. We know, definitively, that this is the case, and the words of Michael Egnor of the Discovery Institute – the major pro-ID group – demonstrate this repeatedly. A recent post on the Discovery Institute’s “Evolution News and Views” blog offered a rebuttal to a blog post by Dr. Jeffrey Shallit. Dr. Shallit was reviewing

a piece by McGill philosopher Margaret Somerville in the OCUFA publication Academic Matters. (OCUFA is the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations.)

I haven’t bothered to read the whole piece yet; it seems to be the typical drivel about how universities are becoming “intolerant” of “alternative ideas” and that anyone the author doesn’t agree with or whose position the author doesn’t understand is a “fundamentalist” scientist. Continue reading