ass-backwards statementology

It seems like 9/11 was a very long time ago.

I will be observing Earth Hour. Will you?

‘Feeling crabby’ has a whole new subtext to it now.

Texas is the second largest buyer of high school textbooks in the country. The chair of the Texas Board of Education is a Creationist who says things like, “Scientific consensus means nothing. All it takes is one fact to overthrow consensus. Evolution has a status that it simply doesn’t deserve. People say it’s vital to understanding biology. But it’s genetics that’s the foundation for biology. A biologist once said that nothing in biology makes sense without evolution. Well, that’s not true. You go into the top biology labs, and it makes no difference if evolution is true or false to what they’re doing and studying. It makes no difference.” Such tripe coming from the chair of a state board of education is simply shameful. Don McElroy is a dentist, which means that the man had to read a couple of books in his life at some point that weren’t the Bible, which makes his willfull ignorance staggering to behold. His statement above is as backwards as anything I’ve heard, and I am a certified expert in ass-backwards statementology.

4 Responses to “ass-backwards statementology”

  1. This article is hypocritical, the writing is just as “willfull ignorance staggering to behold” as McElroy. I personally support that evolution and creation are not mutually exclusive. The Biblical narritive fitts well with evolution. Both sides are trying to make an issue out of nothing. I would have to say that evolution is still a theory, not a sciecific truth yet.

  2. I suppose it’s a good thing that you don’t have to ‘believe in’ antibiotics then! Have a lovely day.

  3. Good Sir Winston,

    Actually, I don’t believe in Idaho. Which means it’s not real. I think those potatoes come from China.

    But seriously…totally agree with Timothy in that religion and evolutionary science aren’t mutually exclusive (though some of my Catholic students were rather surprised to discover that the Church actually accepts evolution).

    At this point, however, since the language one uses seems to be a key point in the debate, I hesitate to call evolution a theory anymore–we should probably start calling it a “principle.” Because really, it is–it’s the basis of all biological science, including genetics. Now, is it true that, should one fact be discovered that upends evolution, all biological science would change? You betcha. It’s happened before, i.e. the furor over the Ptolemaic model of the universe. That’s how science works: one discovery tends to realign scientific knowledge. (See Thomas Kuhn’s book The Paradigm Shift for a better explanation of this.)

    But it’d take a pretty big discovered “fact” to upend evolution and shift the direction of the science. I call it a “principle” because every discovery in biological science made since Darwin’s theory has supported it. (The fossil record actually shows the development of the horse from a small hoofless creature the size of a beagle to the magnificent beasties we know today.)

    I’m a big proponent of using the language to frame the debate–which we can, should, and must engage in, lest people like that Texas school board guy sneak in through the back door. His ilk have tried using it as well: terms like “creation science” and “intelligent design” are meant to make it sound like Creationism deserves the same respect in scientific circles as actual science. It doesn’t, any more than astrology deserves the same respect as astronomy.

    And think about the key argument of ID for a second: life on Earth is too complex to have evolved over hundreds of millions (or about 1.8 billlion, according to that article you posted) of years, so it must be the work of a magical being who snapped His fingers and wished us into existence in six days. (Now, maybe He snapped his magic fingers and mixed some proteins and divided the first single-celled organism and said, “Let’s see what happens next”–but I wasn’t there, so I wouldn’t know.)

    Here it is: all this boils down to people’s need to feel special. If a magic cloud-guy wished them into being, they’re special; if it just happened naturally, they’re not. (Of course it has never dawned on them that, if magic-cloud-guy didn’t, and there IS no glittering afterlife where everyone’s happy and sees Grandpa and Grandma again, life is even more special and precious. And I’m not even an atheist.)

    Perhaps this sounds mean–not my intention. But that’s what it comes down to.

  4. I agree; the need to impose a framework of an imagined hierarchy of being is the biggest flaw with intelligent design. While there is plenty of room philosophically for discussion and debate as to the nature of origins, the ‘it’s just too darned complicated’ argument is fundamentally unscientific because it the equivalent of writing ‘Here be dragons’ on the uncharted areas of a map. While this approach may be convienent for mapmakers, it is useless for navigators; in this same sense we do not need biology that is convienent for theologians but useless for doctors. Cherished beliefs are also comforting, and taking away someone’s comforts can be a useless cruelty. However, if someone’s comfort requires us changing science textbooks to accomodate their cherished beliefs it’s time for them to modify their beliefs to accomodate reality.

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