Wednesday, September 23, 2009

My first Examiner.com text

There are many challenges to teaching in today's schools. Many are the sorts of things not taught about in teacher colleges, nor discussed in news articles. Things like how to teach to the little girl who is scared that her father will be hurt while he is in prison. With record numbers of Americans in prison, this is more common that we like to imagine.


But teaching science has the strangest challenge of all; people who actively promote the notion that the sciences are all nonsense.

Ray Comfort and his pal Kirk Cameron have an outfit they call "Living Waters Ministry." Marking the 150th anniversary of its publication, they have taken the public domain text of "The Origin of Species" and tacked on a 50 page regurgitation of common creationist lies and frauds. Ray and Kirk have claimed that;
This introduction gives the history of evolution, a timeline of Darwin's life, Hitler's undeniable connections to the theory, Darwin's racism, his disdain for women, and his thoughts on the existence of God. It lists the theory's many hoaxes, exposes the unscientific belief that nothing created everything, points to the incredible structure of DNA, and the absence of any species-to-species transitional forms.


It would take too many pages to refute every false claim made above, but here are a few;

In of itself, the selection of The Origin (first edition in 1859) for this shenanigan shows their fundamental ignorance as Darwin carefully avoided mentioning humans in the initial public presentation of his theory. When Darwin published his 1871 book, "The Descent of Man" he was able to directly present the common origin of all humanity without repeating the core evolutionary theory. It is more than odd that creationists should object to this, since at least recently they insist from biblical grounds that all humans share a common origin. Darwin sailed against the wind of popular belief when he wrote that his long personal association with "savages" who impressed on him, "... how similar their minds were to ours..." Darwin was writing to a general population who commonly believed that Africans and Native Americans were not even humans. Famous creationists contemporaries were claiming the Bible supported that ony Whites were true humans, while others justified slavery as the "Curse of Ham."

The Bible demands the execution of a woman raped, that they are inferior to their husbands, and that they must remain silent in church as their opinions are tainted by the Sin of Eve. Oh right, don't forget that all sin and suffering is the fault of women which is why they "deserve" pain and death in childbirth. If we compare the Bible's treatment of women with Darwin, he would seem to be a radical feminist.

There are "transitional" or "intermediate" fossils literally by the ton. Museums and museum warehouses are stuffed with them. If we look for the tiny gradual changes over time in fossils, we need to look at the tiny organisms that preserve these sorts of changes. Examples abound in the marine sediments filled with foramifera, and ostracods. But, when we look at the large familiar critters, the tiny variations that added up over generations to new species are lost against the greater similarities. The scientific definition of many species today is difficult for the scientist, but easy for the sexually active members of the species. A recent example would be the "discovery" that the California Two Spotted Octopus was really two species. The physical difference, a two centimeter variation in their reproductive organs which would never leave a fossil in the first place. This was not news to the octopi. And finally, we do observe new species emerging, both in nature and in laboratory experiments.

Creationists like Ray Comfort harm Christianity by making it seem absurd. This was warned against by Thomas Aquinas (c.a. 1225 - 1274) who wrote, "... one should adhere to a particular explanation only in such measure as to be ready to abandon it if it be proved with certainty to be false, lest Holy Scripture be exposed to the ridicule of unbelievers, and obstacles be placed to their believing." Summa Theologica, Prima Pars, Q68. Art 1. (1273).

The even greater problem for America's teachers is that it makes teaching science to some students nearly impossible.

OK, I went to Examiner.com

My first post is a responce to the crapola from Ray Comfort. Here is the link.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Writing for Examiner.com

I have completed the associated ritual to become an "examiner.com" expert. This was actually rather extensive- sample writing, article proposals, a criminal background check, and some IRS forms to fill out.

But?

Would the occasional reader of this blog follow over?

What say ye?

I cannot think of a better excuse.

He "was in no haste to publish his theory; for he was one of those who are much more delighted with the contemplation of truth, than with the praise of having discovered it” John Playfair regarding James Hutton, 1805.

I'll employ it often.