21/05/2008

Just In Case You Were Complacent

For those UK readers who think that the problem of creationism entering the education system as science is an American phenomenon there is bad news. Such teaching is going on daily in the UK too, mainly thanks to Tony Blair's great belief in 'faith schools'.

What Not To Teach

The right to home-school your children is something that i find myself uneasy with. I kow some parents are more than capable, but it should not be used as a method of indoctrination. Being taught proper science, and being able to discuss the implications of ideas such as evolution, creationism, etc with their peers exposes children to the idea that not everybody believes the same things, and will hopefully cause them to turn to the evidence.

This article from the Telegraph highlights the problems when parents do the wrong thing. No child should have a link between 'The Wizard of Oz' and atheism, it is a FICTIONAL story, it says nothing about religion. The twisting of fictional fantasy to fatastical beliefs continues with Harry Potter 'the Lord is in charge of your life, and in Harry Potter the characters are interested in gaining power for themselves'.

But worse is yet to come...

'We don't want people teaching our children that they come from monkeys,' says Michelle McKissick, 40, from Houston, who teaches her four children at home. What happens in biology classrooms is 'a lie', she says, before instructing me in the 'correct' view: Genesis 1.11 – not a metaphor, or a story, but fact. She firmly believes that the world is only 6,000 years old and that, consequently, man and dinosaurs (created on Day Six, along with Adam and Eve) once lived together quite happily – the creationist view of the universe. 'Dinosaurs weren't all these great big huge monstrosities,' she smiles, 'and they weren't all ferocious. Probably most of them were, in fact, plant-eaters.' It is Noah's flood, she points out patiently, that is responsible for the existence of fossils. And as for the vexing question of how Noah got a brachiosaurus, an animal that could have weighed up to 33 tons and eaten 3,000lb of green plants a day on to the Ark – 'He took the young ones. That would make the most sense.'

Why would herbivorous animals have teeth perfectly designed for tearing into animal flesh and practically useless for chewing plants? Perhaps she should be denied the right to decide what makes 'the most sense'?

A ramble on the scientific method

Scientific ideas are out there to be attacked by scientists. If a theory survives an attack it lives to fight another day, if not it is either thrown onto the pile of rejected ideas (phlogiston) or it is used although it is kown to be incomplete (Newtonian mechanics is known to be wrong, however it agrees with relativistic mechanics so closely for 'everyday' situations that it used regularly as the mathematics is simpler). It is also possible to alter the theory so that it survives the attack.

These attacks need to be scientific attacks (i.e. they require empirical evidence). Attacks from revealed sources such as the bible are totally unacceptable. The process of attacking an idea is to develop an experiment that will either prove the theory wrong, or let it survive to be attacked by another experiment.

It is not possible to prove a scientific idea, but scientists have a lot of confidence in ideas that have withstood a large number of attacks.

Evolution as work in progress

This article by Tim Radford in the Guardian nicely illustrates an important point.

There's more to science than big names and their big ideas. Darwin's discovery is important, but it was co-discovered by Alfred Russel Wallace, and many people have helped to fill in gaps in the theory ever since. Scientific ideas are rarely totally complete.

20/05/2008

Scientology not a cult

Perhaps one of the craziest organisations on the planet there exists plenty of debate on whether the Church of Scientology is a religion, business or 'just' a cult. However the fact that you can be arrested and face prosecution for calling the organisation a cult is plainly ridiculous. (See this article).

07/05/2008

NCSE

The American National Centre for Science Education seems to be a lot better funded than our own British Centre for Science Education, although the situation is a lot worse the other side of the Atlantic. They have produced these videos, shown on www.expelledexposed.com, which are worth watching for people who aren't creationists, or perhaps worse, IDiots.






The Bible and the Koran agree!

Yes, two of the most influential texts of the last millennium do actually agree on some things. This brings joy to my heart, as the last thing we really need is any of this ridiculous Muslim/Christian. Islam/Christianity, Koran/Bible rivallry. So, you may ask, what do these two 'great' texts agree on? well the answer comes from Steve Wells over at Dwindling In Unbelief.

1) A woman is worth half as much as a man.

2) Insects have four legs.

Great! Good to see that recent advances in equal rights and insect morphology have filtered down into the core of some of the world's major religions!

02/05/2008

Vegetables Proof of Inteligent Design (?)

As PZ Myers said, I really don't see how citrus fruits resemble human mammary glands. I still find it amazing that people can be this deluded!

The video is originally from GodTube (yes, really), which a mine of information coming from those challenged by coherent thought.

video

Ben Stein's ramblings

"When we just saw that man, I think it was Mr. Myers [i.e. biologist P.Z. Myers], talking about how great scientists were, I was thinking to myself the last time any of my relatives saw scientists telling them what to do they were telling them to go to the showers to get gassed … that was horrifying beyond words, and that’s where science — in my opinion, this is just an opinion — that’s where science leads you," - Ben Stein.

This originally came from here. Thankfully it seems that Stein's film hasn't made it to this side of the Atlantic, we're generally not quite as extremist as the United States. It's not relly a good opinion, science leads to vacuum cleaners, computers, medicines, and a whole lot of other things too. Extremist opinions lead to events such as the Holocaust, and I for one would rather trust in science than trust in Stein.

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