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Monday, December 20, 2010

Celebrating "Kitzmas" or the rebirth of hope against ignorance and creationism

Yes, Kitzmas. Its been 5 years from the Kitzmiller v. Dover case. According to the National Council for Science Education webpage:

As the first case to test a school district policy requiring the teaching of "intelligent design," the trial attracted national and international attention. Both plaintiffs and defendants in the case presented expert testimony over six weeks from September 26 through November 4, 2005). On December 20, 2005, Judge John E. Jones issued a sharply-worded ruling in which he held that "intelligent design" was, as the plaintiffs argued, a form of creationism.

The story starts when a couple of not very enlightened people made it to the Dover Board of Education (in Pennsylvania). William ("Bill") Buckingham and Alan Bonsell started to object the current biology book, which featured evolution.. These guys got to include this in the biology curriculum:

Students will be made aware of the gaps/problems in Darwin's theory and of other theories of evolution including, but not limited to, intelligent design. Note: Origins of life is not taught.

To the uneducated mind this might sound nice and even fair. But for the informed person, this is like equating astrology with astronomy. You put a retarded idea (creationism) at the same place with evolution, as if these were equal.

Also, teachers were required to read a statement containing this:

Because Darwin's Theory is a theory, it is still being tested as new evidence is discovered. The Theory is not a fact. Gaps in the Theory exist for which there is no evidence. A theory is defined as a well-tested explanation that unifies a broad range of observations.
Also, they recommended a book with a cute title, "Of Pandas and People", which was just propaganda for creationism. They had to be pandas because, well, the book wasn't directed to people who actually seek knowledge, but those who like to feel good regardless how reality works

And really, who doesn't love a panda? Forget about
wolves in sheep clothes. Use pandas

While intelligent design was not being taught, it was being presented as an alternative to evolution. The people who penned this had no idea of the definition of theory in a scientific context as the one used to describe the theory of evolution. If you're trying to prove evolution in the same way you can prove that you prove a math theorem, you won't be able to do so. Just like with most things around the world. As said by The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language:

A set of statements or principles devised to explain a group of facts or phenomena, especially one that has been repeatedly tested or is widely accepted and can be used to make predictions about natural phenomena.

So, it's very different from the idea creationists have of it, which is of a hunch or a hypothesis.

Anyway, this didn't sit well with some teachers and parents, who filed a lawsuit against the ruling. After a trial that started on September 26 where evidence from both sides (actually only one side presented creditable evidence), on December 20, 2005 the judge reached a decision, which included:

  • A significant aspect of the IDM [intelligent design movement] is that despite Defendants' protestations to the contrary, it describes ID as a religious argument. In that vein, the writings of leading ID proponents reveal that the designer postulated by their argument is the God of Christianity. (page 26)
  • The evidence at trial demonstrates that ID is nothing less than the progeny of creationism. (page 31)
  • The overwhelming evidence at trial established that ID is a religious view, a mere re-labeling of creationism, and not a scientific theory. (page 43)

And as you know, religion has no place in a science classroom.

It has been 5 years from that decision, yet there are still many who refuse to let go their erroneous views. By now, 4 in 10 Americans believe that God created men as it is described in the Bible. Sad, very sad.

Sometimes I still wonder what makes people choose ignorance instead of knowledge. It seems to me that this ignorance makes them feel so happy, so loved, so less vulnerable that they are willing to shut some common sense down, and follow whatever they feel makes them happy. This is the kind of people who prefer to live in a fantasy world and will get angry at those who point out it is such.

The world works the way it works, whether we like it or not. The evidence points out to evolution as a fact, whether we like it or not. And there is no evidence for a god, whether we like it or not. To think otherwise is to lose contact with reality and, to a certain point, lose some respect one would have if one's opinions were based on logic and facts instead of mere fantasy.

Finally, I shall leave you with ZOMGitsCriss' video about evolution. She's as nice to watch as it is to listen to her

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Blasfema libremente

"Que esté permitido a cada uno pensar como quiera; pero que nunca le esté permitido perjudicar por su manera de pensar" Barón D'Holbach
"Let everyone be permitted to think as he pleases; but never let him be permitted to injure others for their manner of thinking" Barón D'Holbach