Apr 19, 2014 fbook icon twitter icon rss icon

evolution

11Creationist Slams PBS Series on Science, Evolution (Video)

PBS has been airing a new science/evolution documentary series entitled "Your Inner Fish," which is based upon a book of the same name written by paleontologist Neil Shubin, a professor at the University of Chicago.

Shubin (pictured) and his colleagues made a major discovery in 2004 when they found a fossil of "transitional" fish, the Tiktaalik, which scientists believe walked on land.

Shubin has been highlighting the transitional parts of the Tiktaalik's anatomy, including its neck, arm-like fins, lungs and gills (video below).

"Flaws in the human body, like our susceptibility to hernias, remind us that we’re all adapted from ancient ancestors, we are, every one of us, just a jury-rigged fish," says Shubin.

The Los Angeles Times praised the PBS series, "All in all, 'Your Inner Fish' reminds us what smart TV really is."

However, creationist Elizabeth Mitchell recently panned the series on creationist Ken Ham's web site Answers In Genesis and even blamed belief in evolution for abortion:

Wrongly believing that humans are just animals that go through a fish stage in the womb has tragically led many women to destroy the human life within them.

And the false belief that the human body suffers from many flaws consequent to our evolutionary heritage leads to a mistaken view of the real origin of suffering and death.

...God designed a perfect human body along with a perfect world in the beginning. How do we know? He told us so in Genesis 1:31. And God warned Adam that rebellion would have consequences (Genesis 2:16–17).

Adam did rebel and ever since that day the entire world has groaned (Romans 8:22) under sin’s curse. People’s bodies have worn down, gotten ill, and died. The problem is neither bad design nor evolutionary bondage, but the perversion of God’s good original designs as a consequence of man’s rebellion against the Creator.

Sources: The Los Angeles Times and Answers In Genesis

11Vouchers Use Taxpayer Money To Fund These Anti-Science Curriculums At Private Schools

Nearly $1 billion in public funds in 14 states will be handed over to private schools this year, including some with anti-science curriculums that show a “distrust of momentous discoveries and hostility toward mainstream scientists,” according to a new report.

In an exposé Politico contributor Stephanie Simon reviewed hundreds of course outlines and textbooks for private schools that are receiving public subsidies.

Simon wrote that “many of these faith-based schools go beyond teaching the biblical story of the six days of creation as literal fact.”

“Their course materials nurture disdain of the secular world, distrust of momentous discoveries and hostility toward mainstream scientists,” Simon says. “They often distort basic facts about the scientific method — teaching, for instance, that theories such as evolution are by definition highly speculative because they haven’t been elevated to the status of ‘scientific law.’”

One set of books reportedly calls evolution “a wicked and vain philosophy,” another criticizes “modern math theorists” for failing to view math as absolute laws ordained by Christ.

Some math courses at these schools include weekly study of numbers found in the Bible and vocabulary quizzes with statements like, “Many scientists today are Creationist.”

Voucher programs essentially allow students with promising grades to leave public education and take taxpayer funds with them to a private institution.

The National Conference of State Legislatures says 26 states are considering new voucher programs or expansions to their existing one.

About 250,000 students are on vouchers and tax-credit scholarships right now. Another 55 million students are still enrolled in public education.

Bill Nye the Science Guy, who debated Creation Museum founder Ken Ham in February, warns that bringing non-science into the science classroom will stifle a generation of technological innovation.

“If we raise a generation of students (that is) scientifically illiterate, we’re not going to have the next iPhone, we’re not going to have the next innovation,” Nye argued.

“I don't have an issue with what you do in the church, but I'm going to be up in your face if you're going to knock on my science classroom and tell me they've got to teach what you're teaching in your Sunday school. Because that's when we're going to fight,” said Neil deGrasse Tyson in a 2008 speech.

“I don’t think the function of public education is to prepare students for the turn of the 19th century,” Eric Meikle, project director at the National Center for Science Education, told Politico.

Sources: Politico, Mediaite

11Nationwide Push To Use Tax Money To Fund Schools That Teach Creationism

According to a new story on Politico.com, there is a major push underway in many states across the country to use taxpayer money to fund private schools that teach creationism. An earlier story this year on Slate.com detailed 14 states that are currently funding such schools. 

While debate rages on about whether or not evolution should be taught in public schools, few have noticed that some 26 states are considering expanding their current voucher programs or enacting new ones. Vouchers are subsidies given to parents who choose to send their children to private schools. Opponents of vouchers argue that by doing so the state is indirectly funding private schools who had traditionally relied on tuition and donations for funds.

The Daily Beast recently ran a story detailing four states that are considering laws aimed at limiting students’ exposure to evolutionary theory in public schools. Focusing on such legislation is to miss the larger push, according to the Politico story. The expansion of voucher programs is heavily funded by the American Federation for Children and even the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity. The American Federation for Children has spent $18 million on campaigns to expand voucher programs since 2007. Americans for Prosperity worked to promote vouchers in 10 states just last year.

After years of court rulings it is well established that public schools cannot teach creationism. Many now argue that voucher program expansion would create a back door to have the state fund schools that want to teach that the earth is 10,000 years old. A study of textbooks from private schools that would benefit from vouchers found that many texts shun modern science and question evolution. One book called evolution “a wicked and vain philosophy.”

That troubles advocates who feel the United States is already falling behind other countries in terms of education.

“I don’t think the function of public education is to prepare students for the turn of the 19th century,” said Eric Meikle, of the National Center for Science Education.

Proponents of vouchers argue that the debate is really about choice. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., has made several speeches promoting school choice and voucher programs.

“It is my personal goal,” Cantor said this year, “that in 10 years, every child in America will have education opportunity through school choice no matter where they live.”

Sources: Politico, Slate, The Daily Beast

 

11Bill Maher: Republican Voters Are ‘Corporate America’s Useful Idiots’ (Video)

In an interview with NBC News this past Sunday, Bill Maher said that GOP voters are “just corporate America’s useful idiots."

"I understand why the one percent — the richest one percent — vote Republican,” the liberal comedian told Harry Smith on "Meet the Press.”

“They deserve those votes. You know what, they represent the richest one percent perfectly," he added. "Anybody else who does? Just corporate America’s useful idiots."

“Who are you most displeased with these days, Republicans or Democrats?” Smith asked.

“Oh, come on. Really? Seriously? Republicans,” Maher said. “In the last 20 years, it’s not really been a choice. They just drove the short bus to crazy town.”

Smith asked Maher how his comedy tour goes over in red states.

“Better than blue states even,” Maher said. “But there is an extra added excitement in a red state, in places where people don’t often see someone like me. There is not a place in America so red that I can’t get 3,000 screaming atheists to come see me — on a Sunday.”

“What’s wrong with us?” Smith asked, referring to Americans.

“Well, gosh, where to begin?” Maher responded. “Well, first of all we’re not very well informed. I mean, the political process; people used to take civics and they at least knew how the country worked.

“We have become a county where science is pooh-poohed,” he continued. “It’s another one of those things that has somehow become politicized. People never used to argue that much about science. We might argue about how we take these facts … but we didn’t argue about the facts themselves. That’s not true anymore.”

Sources: Mediaite, Talking Points Memo

11Neil deGrasse Tyson Says If You Don’t Get Science ‘Just Move Back Into The Cave’ (Video)

Science communicator Neil deGrasse Tyson appeared on “Late Night with Seth Meyers” Friday to discuss his new take on Carl Sagan’s groundbreaking “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey.”

Tyson said Cosmos “is really showing you how and why science matters to us as a civilization and even as a species.”

“So that by the end of the program and the end of the series you walk away saying ‘I’m empowered to do something about my future because I know how science works,’” he continued. “If you don’t know science in the 21st century, just move back to the cave because that’s where we’re going to leave you as we move forward.”

“It seems like now there are a lot of people who don’t care for science this day in age,” Meyers said.

“They’re living in a cave,” Tyson quipped.

“Right, or the halls of Congress,” Meyers said.

Meyers also asked Tyson about the selfie he took with President Barack Obama and head of the Planetary Society Bill Nye (the Science Guy) during a private screening of “Cosmos” at the White House.

“We knew he would say no because presidents can’t do that, but Bill would come in right after and say, ‘Mr. President, you know it will break the Internet.’ And then he said, ‘Yeah, I’ll do it.’”

“People said the president hadn’t looked that happy since Inauguration Day,” Tyson said.

Sources: MediaiteNBC

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11Oklahoma Fox Cuts Evolution Segment Out Of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s ‘Cosmos’ (Video)

During the premiere of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, the Fox channel in Oklahoma cut out a segment of the show during which host Neil deGrasse Tyson talks about evolution.

A local news promo runs in the middle of the show, cutting out the evolution segment, and then cuts back to the "Cosmos" after the scene has passed.

KOKH Fox 25 says the mistake was just a coincidence. 

"Sunday, during @COSMOSonTV, a local news promo was aired over a portion of COSMOS content. This was an operator error & we regret the error," @OKCFOX tweeted Tuesday.

See the “edited” Oklahoma version below:) Compared to the uninterrupted version :

Sources: Mediaite, Liveleak

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11Make Evolution Optional For Students In Missouri, Says Rep. Brattin

A new bill has been introduced in the Missouri General Assembly that would require schools to give advance warning to parents that evolution was going to be taught in their child’s science class. The Kansas City Star reports that under House Bill 1472, introduced by Republican Rep. Rick Brattin, parents would then be allowed to opt their children out of the lessons. Should the proposed legislation become law, schools would also need to provide parents with the “basic content” of the lessons on evolution.

The introduction of the bill has many critics crying foul, arguing that evolution by natural selection is the foundation of modern biology. 

David Evans, the executive director for the National Science Teachers Association, told the Star, “Evolution by natural selection is the unifying principle in the study of biology,” he said. “Would you want to pull your child out of class if you didn’t like grammar?”

Evans believes that allowing children to be pulled from class during lessons on evolution would make it more difficult for American students to keep pace with other students internationally.

Brattin has defended his bill, telling KCTV, "What my bill would do is it would allow parents to opt out of natural selection teaching," he said. "It would not prohibit the child from going through biology from learning about cell structure, DNA and the building blocks of life.” 

"Our schools basically mandate that we teach one side," Brattin said. "It is an indoctrination because it is not objective approach.” 

Some parents agree. Brendan Eastwood, told KCTV, "Evolution is not taught in the Bible so it shouldn't be taught in the class," he said. "Even if I had to spend some time in jail I wouldn't subject my kids to that nonsense.”

Eastwood’s children are grown and he admits he never had to make the choice.

"They didn't teach evolution in the early 90s...that I know of," he said. "Otherwise they wouldn't have been in school.”

Brattin has filed three similar bills in the past, all of which failed. HB 1472 has not been scheduled for discussion in the General Assembly, according the Riverfront Times.

Sources: Kansas City Star, KCTV, Riverfront Times

 

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11Bill Nye Says Creationism, Climate Change Denial Makes Kids 'Scientifically Illiterate' (Video)

Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye told “Real Time With Bill Maher” that his biggest concern about creationism and climate change denial is what children are being taught in school.

Having recently debated Creationist Museum president Ken Ham, Nye says he worries future generations will be “scientifically illiterate.”

Nye says if that happens "we're not going to have the next iPhone, we're not going to have the next innovation."

“Mr. Ham and the grown-ups, they can do what they want, but my concern is for the students, for the kids in the commonwealth of Kentucky [where the museum is located] … that are brought up with this,” Nye told Maher on Friday. “Then they’re taught, ‘Oh yes, people are going to oppose you as you grow up’ … because they are wrong and unsupportable.”

During the evolution debate, Ham said, "I believe the word 'science' has been hijacked by secularists.”

"If we accept Mr. Ham's point of view ... that the Bible serves as a science text and he and his followers will interpret that for you, I want you to consider what that means," Nye argued. "It means that Mr. Ham's word is to be more respected than what you can observe in nature, what you can find in your backyard in Kentucky."

“I think what was difficult for me was not slapping my forehead, not freaking out,” Nye told Maher about the debate.

“And that’s good because I agree that we do have to engage people,” Maher said. “My great friend Richard Dawkins says, ‘No, ignore them,’ and I say ‘Not as long as they are a majority – you still have to engage.”

“Or a significant fraction,” Nye agree.

“If people believe the world is 6,000 years old, I don’t know if that hurts us. You know what does hurt us?” Maher asked. “People who don’t think climate change is real.”

“People like Ted Cruz – his big joke now is whenever it snows, you know, ‘Al Gore told me this wouldn’t happen,’” Maher said, adding that temperature and weather are completely differently things.

Maher said people who don't believe in evolution are threatened by being compared to an ape.

"Okay, we give that to you. You are different than an ape," Maher said.

"Somewhat different, yeah," quipped Nye.

Sources: Mediaite, Politico

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11Ken Ham Tells Bill Nye: The Word 'Science' Has Been Hijacked By Secularists (Video)

During a two-and-a-half hour debate with science educator Bill Nye, Creationist Ken Ham argued that scientists can also be creationists and believe that the universe is only 6,000 years old.

Held at Kentucky’s Creation Museum Tuesday night, Ham gave the first opening statement. 

"The Bible is the word of God," Ham said. "I admit that's where I start from."

He mentioned Raymond Damadian, the inventor of the MRI machine, as an exemplary scientist and biblical creationist - proving that that the two are compatible.

"I believe the word 'science' has been hijacked by secularists," he added.

"If we accept Mr. Ham's point of view ... that the Bible serves as a science text and he and his followers will interpret that for you, I want you to consider what that means," Nye argued. "It means that Mr. Ham's word is to be more respected than what you can observe in nature, what you can find in your backyard in Kentucky."

"How could there be billions of stars more distant than 6,000 years, if the world is only 6,000 years old?" Nye asked.

"I just want to remind us all there are billions of people in the world who are deeply religious, who get enriched by the wonderful sense of community by their religion," he said. "But these same people do not embrace the extraordinary view that the Earth is somehow only 6,000 years old."

When a member of the audience asked where matter comes from, Nye said scientists are attempting to answer that question everyday. Ham said he already knows the answer.

"Bill, I want to tell you, there is a book that tells where atoms come from, and its starts out, 'In the beginning ...'”

The pair’s final question was, “What is the one thing more than anything else upon which you base your belief?”

Ham said the Bible. Nye said science.

The event was a boon for the museum, which opened in 2007.

Ham said the wide interest in the debate, “shows you that the majority of people out there, they're interested in this topic, they want to know about this, they don't want debate shut down.” 

Sources: TIME, ABC

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11 Lieutenant Governor Candidates in Texas Support Creationism in Public Schools

In a Monday night televised debate, all four Republican candidates running for the position of Texas lieutenant governor — a position some say is the most powerful in the state — said they believe creationism should be taught in Texas public schools.

The four men Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, Agricultural Commissioner Todd Staples, State Senator Dan Patrick and current Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst were all asked the direct questions, “Does creationism belong in schools? Would you like to see creationism in textbooks?”

All four candidates answered in the affirmative.

Commissioner Patterson said, “Creationism, intelligent design, evolution should be taught in school. Our students should be armed with knowledge about creationism, intelligent design, evolution.”

“We teach kids in church on Sunday about Jesus. On school, on Monday, they can’t talk about Jesus. They must be confused. We have yielded to [the] secular left. I believe we’ve been blessed by God as a nation. When it comes to creationism, not only should it be taught, it should be triumphed, it should be heralded,” was the answer of State Sen. Patrick with the most forceful answer of the evening.

Commissioner Staples answered, “Creationism can be taught in our schools. It is something most Texans believe in.”

Lieutenant Governor Dewhurst, who is facing one of the toughest re-election bids of his career tried to split the difference but still came down on the side of teaching creationism saying, “I believe in creationism but I understand it alone cannot be taught. And I am fine with teaching creationism, intelligent design, evolution. Let students, with advice and counsel, decide for themselves which one they believe in. All three should be taught.”

Texas public schools do not currently teach creationism, although some charter schools in the state do teach the concept. Currently the only states allowing public schools to teach creationism are Louisiana and Tennessee. Other states have private schools receiving tax-funded vouchers teaching creationism including, Indiana, Ohio, Oklahoma and Arizona.

Sources: NBCDFWChronDailyKosSlate

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