Rick Perry: Evolution Just “A Theory That Is Out There”

Like Jon Huntsman, Rick Perry has something to say about evolution today and he handled it very differently.

It was, perhaps, inevitable that Texas Governor Rick Perry would get a question about evolution and so-called “Intelligent Design” on the campaign trail, the source of the question wasn’t quite as expected:

Rick Perry is sure about a lot of things. But the theory of evolution, or even how old the planet Earth is, are not on that list.

A woman who will probably not be supporting the Texas governor brought her young son along to a campaign event in New Hampshire on Thursday, and had the boy ask Perry his views about science. “How old do you think the earth is?” the boy asked. This was an apparent allusion to how fundamentalist Christians often insist that Earth — and indeed, the whole universe — is about 6,000 years old.

“How old do I think the earth is? You know what, I don’t have any idea,” Perry responded. “I know it’s pretty old. So it goes back a long, long ways. I’m not sure — I’m not sure anybody actually knows completely and absolutely hold the earth is.

(….)

“Here your mom was asking about evolution. And you know, it’s a theory that is out there — it’s got some gaps in it. In Texas we teach both creationism and evolution in our public schools. Because I figure–”

The mother cut back in: “Ask him why he doesn’t believe in science.”

Perry continued: “Because I figure you’re smart enough to figure out which one is right.”

The mother continued to tell her son, “Ask him why he doesn’t believe in science.” At that point Perry politely ended the conversation, and moved on to the next person in the crowd.

Here’s the video:

It’s pretty clear that this kid was being pushed by his Mother to ask this question about evolution, especially given the fact that she continued to push the issue further on her own. Nonetheless. the question was asked and Perry’s answer is what it is. I don’t think anyone’s really surprised by it, after all it’s pretty much what the evangelical Christians that Perry courts believe, although Perry is a smart enough politician to not to let himself get labeled a Young Earth Creationist or anything like that. Instead, he relies on the phony argument of “balance” to say that students should be exposed to both evolutionary theories and the theories of so-called “Intelligent Design,” which are in reality nothing more than the Biblical Creation Myth wrapped in pseudo-scientific clothing.

Perry’s comments have, of course, garnered much comment across the political blogosphere, but they also caught the attention of political writers in Texas, who pointed out that his claim that Texas teaches “both creationism and evolution in our public schools” is completely false:

David Bradley, a social conservative member of the State Board of Education, said he hadn’t heard the governor’s comments. But when asked if Texas schools teach creationism alongside evolution, Bradley responded: “Not specifically.”

Still, Bradley said in Texas nothing prevents a teacher from discussing creationism, or a student from bringing it up in the classroom. “It is not specifically in the Texas curriculum,” Bradley said. But “in Texas, the students are directed to investigate and evaluate all theories.”

Perry’s office has not yet responded to a voicemail seeking clarification on his statement.

Before they respond, Perry’s aides might what to take a loo at Edwards v. Aguillard, where the Supreme Court held that school districts cannot teach creationism along side evolution in a science classroom:

The purpose of the Creationism Act was to restructure the science curriculum to conform with a particular religious viewpoint. Out of many possible science subjects taught in the public schools, the legislature chose to affect the teaching of the one scientific theory that historically has been opposed by certain religious sects. As in Epperson, the legislature passed the Act to give preference to those religious groups which have as one of their tenets the creation of humankind by a divine creator. The “overriding fact” that confronted the Court in Epperson was “that Arkansas’ law selects from the body of knowledge a particular segment which it proscribes for the sole reason that it is deemed to conflict with . . . a particular interpretation of the Book of Genesis by a particular religious group.” 393 U.S., at 103 . Similarly, the Creationism Act is designed either to promote the theory of creation science which embodies a particular religious tenet by requiring that creation science be taught whenever evolution is taught or to prohibit the teaching of a scientific theory disfavored by certain religious sects by forbidding the teaching of evolution when creation science is not also taught. The Establishment Clause, however, “forbids alike the preference of a religious doctrine or the prohibition of theory which is deemed antagonistic to a particular dogma.” Id., at 106-107 (emphasis added). Because the primary purpose of the Creationism Act is to advance a particular religious belief, the Act endorses religion in violation of the First Amendment.

In other words, if it’s true that Texas schools are teaching creationism, or I would submit “Intelligent Design,” alongside evolution in science classrooms they are doing so in violation of the United States Constitution.

I doubt that this will hurt Perry much in the fight for the GOP nomination. In fact, as both James Joyner and Alex Knapp have noted, it’s Jon Huntman and his public affirmation of evolution that is more likely to be poision to the GOP base than a candidate who believes that religious doctrine should be taught as science so that children can “decide for themselves.” (Since when is science a matter of personal opinion, anyway?) Nonetheless, the substance of Perry’s statement is one that should raise eyebrows given that it betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of what a scientific theory actually is:

‘A scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world, based on a body of facts that have been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experiment. Such fact-supported theories are not “guesses” but reliable accounts of the real world. The theory of biological evolution is more than “just a theory.” It is as factual an explanation of the universe as the atomic theory of matter or the germ theory of disease. Our understanding of gravity is still a work in progress. But the phenomenon of gravity, like evolution, is an accepted fact.’, American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Saying that it’s “just a theory” in the manner that Perry and advocates of “Intelligent Design” do is meant to undermine this understanding of what a scientific theory is in an effort to equate it with the Bible-based mythology that they wish to push into the science classrooms. The fact that Perry appears to agree with them is, at least for me, just another strike against him.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Science & Technology, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. mantis says:

    Good post. Nothing really to add, except that Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District established in 2002 that so-called “Intelligent Design” is little more than creationism in a cheap tuxedo.

  2. John Curran says:

    It will annoy me big time if the Republicans nominate someone this averse to logic for President since I really want Obama to be limited to one term.

  3. MBunge says:

    There’s got to be a fascinating explanation for why so many conservatives treat economics as a science of asbolute, theological certainties but regard the physical sciences as a total crap shoot.

    Mike

  4. legion says:

    How ’bout I pay you half in dollars and half in Monopoly money? I figure you’re smart enough to figure out which is right…

  5. doubter4444 says:

    I don’t care how conservative anyone is, if they honestly think that the earth is 10,000 years old, (or are afraid to admit they know differently), that has to be a disqualifier for any serious office. It undermines all geological and physical sciences, astronomy and most other branches of science.

  6. Hey Norm says:

    Hahaha…I love me some Teavangelicals.

  7. michael reynolds says:

    @MBunge:
    They only treat “their” economics as fact. Economics isn’t a science so much as a bunch of guys with charts reaching completely different conclusions and none of them able to predict a single thing with any degree of reliability.

    In other words, economics can re-affirm your prejudices, whereas actual science is less pliable, and more unpredictable. It can easily be shoehorned into whatever pre-existing system you prefer.

    Conservatives believe that the purpose of the human brain is to faithfully regurgitate its programming. Like a computer. But not like a real computer that can be reprogrammed and updated. They’re looking more toward the old Texas Instruments hand-held calculator as a model. They want life to be a sort of solid state, governed by immutable truths, and if that means discarding science, imagination, even basic humanity, that’s okay because the prime virtue is a sort of calcified stability.

  8. Wayne says:

    The “theory” of evolution end the end is still a “theory”. One that IMO has many of the rough concepts right but many parts that are wrong as well. However I recognize that is my opinion and others have theirs.

    IMO those whose belief is that earth is only 10 thousand years old or treat the “theory of evolution” is an absolute fact are unreasonable thinkers. Many believe their beliefs are indisputable facts. That is their right. However both are being radical thinkers.

    Ricks comments of “I’m not sure anybody actually knows completely and absolutely how old the earth is” and “Evolution is a theory that’s out there. It’s got some gaps in it” are true enough.

    I disagree that his comment of “we teach both creationism and evolution in our school” is completely false. A statement that can be easily misunderstood but not false. To be “completely false” it would mean it is never taught at school which by quotes above indicates that is not true. “Not specifically.” And “in Texas, the students are directed to investigate and evaluate all theories.” indicates that it probably is often taught at school. It doesn’t have to be specified in the curriculum to be taught. Many things that are taught in school are not in the curriculum.

  9. Wayne says:

    RE “It can easily be shoehorned into whatever pre-existing system you prefer.”

    Actually it can and often is. Also much of the science anymore is not “actual science” but propaganda driven B.S.

    I was just thinking of a study yesterday that is a prime example of that.

  10. john personna says:

    It was pretty artful politi-speak. If you believe in evolution, or creation, or ID, you can still think “I figure you’re smart enough to figure out which one is right” was directed at you.

    Wink. Wink. Nudge. Nudge.

    (Re. Wayne, as I say in the other thread, it’s a misunderstanding of science to think there is “a” theory of evolution at this point. Science is beyond that.)

  11. sam says:

    @Wayne:

    The “theory” of evolution end the end is still a “theory”

    Perhaps you’d explain to us what you understand a “theory” to be. Because, at least for one, I’m having some trouble understanding your post.

  12. legion says:

    @Wayne: Actually, you bring up a very important (and often misunderstood) point:

    IMO those whose belief is that earth is only 10 thousand years old or treat the “theory of evolution” is an absolute fact are unreasonable thinkers.

    The whole point to calling something a scientific theory is to recognize that we will always be looking for more evidence. If something radically different gets found tomorrow – say, something about whether dinosaurs were warm-or cold-blooded – something that’s at odds with what’s currently understood, then scientists will look at it and try to prove or disprove it. If it can’t be disproven, then the theory must be modified to reflect observed reality. In other words, scientists _don’t_ think a theory is “absolute fact” the way you imply.

    Creationists, OTOH, don’t work like that. They have an unimpeachable (to them) source of information, and have preemptively foregone any attempt to learn anything new about the subject. If there are any observations that are at odds with their source material, they assume it is observed reality that is wrong. They never question their basic starting assumptions.

    And that is the difference between Creationism and Science.

  13. sam says:

    @john personna:

    (Re. Wayne, as I say in the other thread, it’s a misunderstanding of science to think there is “a” theory of evolution at this point. Science is beyond that.)

    Let me try and clarify that a bit, with your permission. There’s a profound confusion that runs through these discussions (not on your part). Nobody in biology doubts the fact of evolution. A theory of evolution is an attempt to explain the fact of evolution. (And there have been competing theories of evolution in the history of biology – Lamarck, Darwin, e.g. ) Most of the time in our discussions, I think some folks confuse the fact of evolution with a theory of the fact of evolution. So, someone will say, as the governor did, ““Here your mom was asking about evolution. And you know, it’s a theory that is out there…” and will, rightly I think, be taken to mean the evolution of organisms is a mere hypothesis. This is incorrect. There is nothing hypothetical about the evolution of organisms, and, as you intimate, biological science is well and far beyond the “evolution as hypothesis” stage. Evolution is a fact. How that fact comes about is what a theory of evolution attempts to articulate.

  14. mannning says:

    Well, I do know a lot of conservatives, and all of them defy the leftist stereotype by accepting the findings of cosmologists that the earth is about 4.7 billion years old. Three of my friends, have also delved into evolution theory (in the scientific sense) and have encountered Dr. Jerry Fodor’s most thorough demolition of the natural selection part of the theory, while affirming common descent, in the book he wrote “What Darwin Got Wrong,” together with Dr. Massimo Piatelli-Palmarini. The authors are not IDers by any means. Does this make evolution theory “out there?”

    As for ID itself, it has met the objections of some that it cannot be tested and makes no predictions, and that it actually abjures Creationism per se. It has also met the rather futile attempts to undercut the idea of irreducible complexity of Behe, and the design inference test of Dempski as well, etc. etc. Perhaps ID Theory is “out there” too!

    The shallow and dishonest attempts to shut down ID by otherwise solid scientists (in their own fields where they have expertise), using smears and half-truths, rather than following the data where it leads, is a black mark in the scientific community. Perhaps they are far too intent on using Neo-Darwinism to underpin their atheism. As noted Philosopher of Science J.P. Moreland has said, there is no accepted definition of what makes science and what does not, and it is most definitely not up to the practicing scientist to make claims of that sort–he is out of his element, much as Einstein was on social matters. They do protest too much!

    One could add ID-spoofs to the growing list of scientific scams such as eugenics and
    AGW that we have been afflicted with in the last 85 years. One should look to the motives and money involved!

  15. ernieyeball says:

    @Wayne: Wayne sez quoting Rick: “Evolution is a theory that’s out there. It’s got some gaps in it” (is) true enough.

    ernieyeball sez: Genesis isn’t even a theory, it’s a fairytale.

  16. Hey Norm says:

    How can we accomplish anything when leaders of a major political party believes in total BS? I mean…we overcame their denial of a spherical planet, and planets that rotate around the sun instead of the earth…so I suppose it’ll be fine in the long run. It just seems to me that we shouldn’t have to deal with abject ignorance in this day and age.

  17. john personna says:

    @sam:

    Actually I’m just noting the numerical error. Opponents of evolution think there is a, singular, theory that they need to disprove (or can simply refuse). Numerically that is wrong. There is not a theory of evolution, there are a thousand theories of evolution.

    This Wikipedia History of evolutionary thought page goes deeper in to the past than I expected, but it also lists some schools of modern evolution. They are rich and varied.

  18. john personna says:

    @mannning:

    I’m sure that confusion was supposed to lead me somewhere … but where?

  19. sam says:

    @mannning:

    Three of my friends, have also delved into evolution theory (in the scientific sense) and have encountered Dr. Jerry Fodor’s most thorough demolition of the natural selection part of the theory, while affirming common descent, in the book he wrote “What Darwin Got Wrong,” together with Dr. Massimo Piatelli-Palmarini.

    Fodor’s work has not gone unchallenged. See, Jerry Fodor: Still getting it wrong about evolution. Examples can be multiplied (see Dan Dennett, for example — who pretty much demolishes Fodor’s demolotion.) And BTW, a very big BTW, Fodor does not reject the fact of evolution, only Darwin’s theory of how evolution works. I fail to find any support for ID in that.

    Finally

    The shallow and dishonest attempts to shut down ID by otherwise solid scientists (in their own fields where they have expertise), using smears and half-truths, rather than following the data where it leads, [my emphasis] is a black mark in the scientific community.

    Tell us what kind of natural evidence leads to a supernatural cause (by definition outside the chain of natural causation). What natural phenomena can you point to that would count as proof of a supernatural cause?

  20. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Perry’s only been on the stump for a few days and already he’s irrevocably lost the militant atheist vote, the gay liberal atheist vote, the left-wing military vote, the gay marriage is the only issue that matters vote and the votes of unionized, public sector “educators.”

    On a different but quite related topic, we’re living in a country with U-6 unemployment over 15%, a housing market so catastrophic it sets a new low every month, inflation that’s creeping up to late-1970’s levels, an incipient recession, three active, shooting wars, a national debt in excess of 100% of GDP and a trillion-plus dollar reported budget deficit. We’re witnessing the overt financial and economic disintegration of Europe. The last time that happened in history the tanks began rolling and the bodies piled up like stacks of firewood. The Middle East is burning. The global economy is in shambles. Yet despite all that political Internet blogs today are busying themselves by engaging in pissing matches over out-of-context statements by a political candidate about evolution which just so happen to have been elicited by a partisan Moonbat using a 5th grader as a bait-and-switch guise. Classy.

    It becomes readily apparent, then, the Internet’s chattering classes have devolved into abject farce.

  21. john personna says:

    Here is a good bit from that page which really shows the dynamics of evolution that anti-evolutionists won’t tell you:

    The debate over Darwin’s work led to the rapid acceptance of the general concept of evolution, but the specific mechanism he proposed, natural selection, was not widely accepted until it was revived by developments in biology that occurred during 1920s through the 1940s. Before that time most biologists argued that other factors were responsible for evolution. Alternatives to natural selection suggested during “the eclipse of Darwinism” (circa 1880 to 1920) included inheritance of acquired characteristics (neo-Lamarckism), an innate drive for change (orthogenesis), and sudden large mutations (saltationism). The synthesis of natural selection with Mendelian genetics during the 1920s and 1930s founded the new discipline of population genetics. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, population genetics became integrated with other biological fields, resulting in a widely applicable theory of evolution that encompassed much of biology—the modern evolutionary synthesis.

    Following the establishment of evolutionary biology, studies of mutation and variation in natural populations, combined with biogeography and systematics, led to sophisticated mathematical and causal models of evolution. Paleontology and comparative anatomy allowed more detailed reconstructions of the history of life. After the rise of molecular genetics in the 1950s, the field of molecular evolution developed, based on protein sequences and immunological tests, and later incorporating RNA and DNA studies. The gene-centered view of evolution rose to prominence in the 1960s, followed by the neutral theory of molecular evolution, sparking debates over adaptationism, the units of selection, and the relative importance of genetic drift versus natural selection. In the late 20th century, DNA sequencing led to molecular phylogenetics and the reorganization of the tree of life into the three-domain system. In addition, the newly recognized factors of symbiogenesis and horizontal gene transfer introduced yet more complexity into evolutionary history.

    Basically they want you to think there is “a” theory, and then they take the disagreements between say neutral evolutionists and adaptionists to say it’s all up in the air.

    No, both neutral evolutionists and adaptionists are working beyond your question.

  22. john personna says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    -1, as evolution is not incompatible with Christianity.

  23. jan says:

    @Wayne:

    And “in Texas, the students are directed to investigate and evaluate all theories.”

    The key is to present both theories, what evidence backs them up, and then let the student’s use their critical thinking to analyze the information presented to them. This stretches students to research a subject, debate different sides and possibly leave the door open for other conclusions, eliminating some of the spoon-fed curriculums so prevalent in the education system today. There is always room for skepticism, whether it involves the science of evolution or the science of global warming.

  24. john personna says:

    @jan:

    The key is to present both theories, what evidence backs them up, and then let the student’s use their critical thinking to analyze the information presented to them.

    On the surface this is fine, but the problem is that modern ID did not come out of science itself. It was crafted as a religious answer to science, a way to fight the evolution. And so the question becomes how much stump time you want to give churches in schools.

    As someone raised in a church that is fine with evolution, it doesn’t make much sense to me. We had Sunday mornings to set things straight.

    [Note that ID is held by a subset of Christian religions and is not even universal among them.]

  25. Ben Wolf says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: Actually it has become apparent there’s no creature of the extreme right you won’t defend.

  26. sam says:

    @jan:

    The key is to present both theories, what evidence backs them up, and then let the student’s use their critical thinking to analyze the information presented to them.

    And I agree. But the venue for that is a philosophy of science course, not a science course. You know, a course where the concepts of “theory”, “evidence”, “causation” and so on are examined. That’s not a science course.

  27. Ben Wolf says:

    @jan: There is no evidence supporting creationism. Not one paper has been produced by the ID community for peer-review. So long as schools present creationism as an example of anti-science, I’m fine with it.

  28. Yet another disillusioned pawn says:

    @mannning: Thank you!

  29. jan says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    So long as schools present creationism as an example of anti-science, I’m fine with it

    Well, it is an anti-science POV. So, that would be a good format in which to present it. I think the discussions generated by looking into these opposite ways of thinking, one spiritually based and the other derived through science, would be fascinating. Maybe a student would even bring in the far-out thought stream that “we are nothing but an alien experiment.” LOL

  30. Yet another disillusioned pawn says:

    @john personna: Re manning’s comment: maybe to the notion that evolution is in some ways an article of faith for scientists in much the same way that Biblical creation is to Evangelicals? I know you won’t buy this idea, but here it is anyway.

  31. john personna says:

    @jan:

    But if my religion is fine with evolution, guided by God, aren’t you giving other religions “airtime” in schools to fight my religion?

    Do you really want schools to teach comparative religion?

  32. john personna says:

    @Yet another disillusioned pawn:

    Re manning’s comment: maybe to the notion that evolution is in some ways an article of faith for scientists in much the same way that Biblical creation is to Evangelicals?

    But if you understand the history of evolution in science (my link and quotation above) that goes out the window, right?

    If scientists had “faith” they wouldn’t have been fighting various views of evolution for the last 200 years.

    [and as others note, the rules of engagement for that 200 year fight in science is all about observation, reason, peer review, etc. it is not about faith derived from religious canon.]

  33. ernieyeball says:

    Intelligent Design and Scientific Creationism are shameless attempts to mold the Biblical mythology/fairy tale of Genesis into some sort rational explanation of the origin of our universe.
    If the the believers of mumbo jumbo want to use the agency of the state to force public school students to be exposed to this nonsense then it is only fair to create a level playing field and mandate the teaching of Darwin in all the Sunday schools across the land.

  34. jan says:

    @john personna:

    But if my religion is fine with evolution, guided by God, aren’t you giving other religions “airtime” in schools to fight my religion?

    Do you really want schools to teach comparative religion?

    In college they have comparative religion courses. They’re interesting to take too!

    However, in K-12, comparing and contrasting the Christian-based creationism with Darwin’s theory of evolution doesn’t trigger the need to have to include every other religion in this discussion. What we’re talking about is not a religious course, per se, but one dealing with the origins and/or evolution of mankind, as seen through two different frameworks. Period.

  35. Hey Norm says:

    By even giving creationism credence we are setting ourselves back. We evolved from hominids. From chimps. We were not made in gods image. If you need to rely on the allegory of Adam and Eve to help guide your life…fine…that’s your right. But to lie to our children and tell them there is some factual basis for the Garden of Eden is just wrong. Wrong.

  36. john personna says:

    @jan:

    However, in K-12, comparing and contrasting the Christian-based creationism with Darwin’s theory of evolution doesn’t trigger the need to have to include every other religion in this discussion. What we’re talking about is not a religious course, per se, but one dealing with the origins and/or evolution of mankind, as seen through two different frameworks. Period.

    But I’m pointing out that as a false dichotomy. Certain religions do want us to see it as two choices, but there are many more.

    If you really want to teach this in K-12, then you have to start explaining to the kids which Christian are OK with evolution and which are not.

  37. Hey Norm says:

    Maybe that’s what the Teavangelicals mean by taking America back…back to when the earth was flat and we burned people we suspected of being witches and a bunch of other superstitions ruled our lives.

  38. An Interested Party says:

    Perry’s only been on the stump for a few days and already he’s irrevocably lost the militant atheist vote, the gay liberal atheist vote, the left-wing military vote, the gay marriage is the only issue that matters vote and the votes of unionized, public sector “educators.”

    Not to mention the rational scientist vote…of course, he probably never had that vote to begin with…

    There is always room for skepticism, whether it involves the science of evolution or the science of global warming.

    And especially any orgainzed religion…

    What we’re talking about is not a religious course, per se, but one dealing with the origins and/or evolution of mankind, as seen through two different frameworks. Period.

    Bullshit…if teachers are going to talk about creationism, they are going to be talking about religion…

  39. sam says:

    @jan:

    Well, it is an anti-science POV.

    And we can be sure that the Chinese and the Indians, not being burdened with a history of fundamentalist Christianity, will not have to deal with this science-retarding nonsense. Gibbon attributed the decline and fall of the Roman empire to barbarism and Christianity. The two attributes being combined in one political movement in this country should give us all pause.

  40. Hey Norm says:

    The ironical thing is that supporters of this faux science who are so intent on pushing their religion on everyone else don’t begin to even try to be true to what they are preaching. Just last week Jan was ranting about how the poor and the elderly and the sick don’t pay enough tax and she has to pay more than her fair share. How Christian is that I ask you? I think all the Teavangelicals should work on themselves and stop trying to control everyone elses thoughts, beliefs, and lives.

  41. michael reynolds says:

    @Hey Norm:

    I mean…we overcame their denial of a spherical planet, and planets that rotate around the sun instead of the earth

    You sure of that?

  42. Hey Norm says:

    @MR….
    Yeah i think so, for the most part….We’re an amazingly resilient race…thanks to the process of evolution.

  43. MarkedMan says:

    So, two points:
    1) Someone mentioned that the ID/Creationist camp believe they have an unimpeachable source, which I take it means the Old Testament. In fact, what the vast majority has is some radio preachers take on what some tent revivalists preacher said about evolution. The bible is not clear at all on the subject, but since so many religionists worship “faith” rather than “god”, they take whatever they are told, add and subtract to make it sound even better, and then have faith in that.
    2) “Religion” and “Science” are not, and cannot be, in conflict. Science is a rigorous method of understanding the world. Science can be incomplete, or it can be wrong, but it can’t be against religion. If certain religionists believe something that is not true, that is a problem contained within that particular religion. For example, we recently had some religionists that believed the world would end on some specific day in April. Six Billion+ amateur scientists experimentally observed that the world did not end. That doesn’t mean those religionists are in conflict with science. They are in conflict with reality.

  44. michael reynolds says:

    @Hey Norm:
    That resiliency is how we survived in cramped quarters on Noah’s Ark alongside T. Rex, Allosaurus, Gigantosaurus and the rest. It wasn’t easy: I gather the humans bargained for their lives with cigarettes, bootleg whiskey and sex.

  45. Hey Norm says:

    @ Marked Man….
    My guess is that those people who believed the world was going to end…also back creationism over evolution…I’m just sayin’

  46. Hey Norm says:

    @ MR….
    So you’re saying a human may have had sex with a Teradactyl?
    Well… that would explain Ann Coulter.

  47. george says:

    Though I don’t think Perry understands what a scientific theory is, he is correct that evolution is just a theory. As is Newton’s theory of gravity, as well as Newtonian mechanics (F=ma and all that), basic circuit theory (V=IR etc), and in fact everything in science.

    So is he suggesting we don’t teach theory in school? I suspect a lot of students will like that, because it means we don’t teach any science at all. Or that we give equal time to all theories? There have been many theories of gravity over the last couple thousand years, and even more theories about the basic laws of mechanics (Aristotle had quite a few) – if we give them all equal time our high school students will have a wide spectrum of theories but won’t be able to predict even the simplest projectile motion, or balance a chemical equation (no time, have to learn the four elements theory of chemistry, the five elements theory etc).

    I kind of wonder if Perry secretly wants America to fall behind in science … its certainly inherent in his views of what should be taught in class.

  48. WR says:

    @jan: And why these two? Oh, yes. There’s one that science describes. and one that Jan likes. And that’s all that matters.

    Next up: We teach the round world and the flat one that Jan likes. Because Jan likes the flat one, you know.

  49. Laurie says:

    On a sort of related note Perry’s religious views seem to also impact his ability to understand empirical evidence about the ineffectiveness of abstinence only education. A Portrait Of Rick Perry’s Mind At Work

  50. mannning says:

    @Sam

    How are you defining Natural causation? If you define it using atheistic materialism, you are by definition defining the supernatural out of existence, so your question is unanswerable. If you are admitting that the supernatural exists, which I do not think you are, who on this earth would actually know the real causation of a supernatural event, and how would they know it was indeed supernatural? Certainly not I. All I could guess (not know!) is: maybe God or one of His minions did something. In a discussion of miracles, which I take to be supernatural, there is usually enough ambiguity surrounding such an event that one cannot be certain it is indeed supernatural, but merely not capable of scientific explanation—yet, as in much of Darwinism.

  51. Xenos says:

    ‘Teaching the controversy’ in Biology class is as pointless as teaching the controversy about the origin of Proto-Indo-European languages in French class.

    Linguists versus Archaeologists, India versus the Volga versus Crimea versus Iran… a great fight full of nationalism and different types of evidence and systems of analysis. But those kids really need to know when to use the passe compose and when to use the imparfait, and all the ‘controversy’ is not going to help.

  52. Scott O. says:

    @mannning:

    Before you can ask what may have caused a miracle you have to provide evidence that one has actually occurred.

  53. David M says:

    It always amazes me that the proponents of teaching creation alongside evolution think those are the only two competing ideas. There’s plenty of creation alternatives listed on Wikipedia, and I can never figure out how you could decide which should be included in biology class. I think the ones originating in the Americas might be appropriate given our geographical location.

  54. john personna says:

    @mannning:

    In a discussion of miracles, which I take to be supernatural, there is usually enough ambiguity surrounding such an event that one cannot be certain it is indeed supernatural, but merely not capable of scientific explanation—yet, as in much of Darwinism.

    I think you know that Darwinism is not exactly the same as evolution, and that evolutionists have doubted Darwinism for a long time:

    The debate over Darwin’s work led to the rapid acceptance of the general concept of evolution, but the specific mechanism he proposed, natural selection, was not widely accepted until it was revived by developments in biology that occurred during 1920s through the 1940s.

    I don’t think modern theory is very Darwinist, except in very general terms.

  55. john personna says:

    (The main reason I post in these evolution-religion threads is that many people just don’t know that other Christian sects accept evolution, and that the conflict between atheists and creationists is off to the side. It is a battle between heated minorities.)

  56. sam says:

    Manning, your Friday, August 19, 2011 at 01:06 word salad is flat silly. Let’s review:

    @Thursday, August 18, 2011 at 18:10 you wrote:

    The shallow and dishonest attempts to shut down ID by otherwise solid scientists (in their own fields where they have expertise), using smears and half-truths, rather than following the data where it leads, is a black mark in the scientific community.

    “[F]ollowing the data where it leads” implies that you believe there is some kind of data that leads to the ID conclusions. I asked for that data (“Tell us what kind of natural evidence [that is, the data you refer to ] leads to a supernatural cause”. In response, we get your Friday, August 19, 2011 at 01:06 gobbledygook. For ID to be anything remotely acceptable as a scientific theory, the concept of causation employed in ID explanation cannot be different from that employed in the natural sciences. So the data supporting the ID causal inferences must be logically on a par with the kinds of data employed in the sciences, that is , it must be empirical. So let me ask you again, in a different way: Show us the empirical data you believe supports the ID conclusions.

  57. OzarkHillbilly says:
  58. Hey Norm says:

    @ John Personna…
    The word Atheism legitimizes Theism. I don’t identify myself relative to the superstitions of other people.
    There is a battle…and it’s part of a war being waged against science. Creationists are generally also climate change deniers. They’re also very likely to be against stem cell research. And green technology.
    They want to take America back. Way back.
    Yeah…I know it sounds over the top…but pattern is pattern.

  59. john personna says:

    @Hey Norm:

    One in three working scientists believe in God. The most interesting thing:

    Dr Fazale Rana, vice president of research and apologetics at Reasons to Believe ministry, said the percentage of American scientists who believe in God has remained constant for more than three-quarters of a century.

    In the early 1920s, he explained, there was a similar survey conducted that found a similar proportion of scientists who believe in God.

    So it’s kind of unnecessary to set one against the other.

  60. john personna says:

    Oh, in terms of how slim atheists are in the general public:

    But the religious belief of the public and scientists once again diverged in the category of not believing in God or a higher power. Only four per cent of the public said they did not believe in either, while a major portion of scientists (41 per cent) said they did not believe in God or any other higher power.

  61. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @sam: Tapping your fingers to the bone in useless argument with a creationist and what do you get?

    Bony Fingers!

  62. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Rick Perry’s intelligence: It is a theory that is out there…. way out there.

  63. mattb says:

    Well, it is an anti-science POV. So, that would be a good format in which to present it. I think the discussions generated by looking into these opposite ways of thinking, one spiritually based and the other derived through science, would be fascinating.

    @jan, but if it is Anti-Science, then should it ever be taught in a science class? How can we reconcile a “we should expose kids to both and let them decide” approach with the understanding that in doing so — at least in the context of a science class — we’re giving students permission to deny any science that contracts with their personal belief system. That’s the antithesis of good science.

    I agree that this could be a good discussion for a religious studies/comp religion class. Or Philosophy of Science. But we’re talking about elementary and secondary education. That material doesn’t slot in particularly well.

  64. anjin-san says:

    we’re giving students permission to deny any science that contracts with their personal belief system

    From the tea party POV, thats a feature, not a bug. Not a lot of future for the tea party without widespread ignorance.

  65. Ron Beasley says:

    Evolution is science – Genesis is mythology. If you want your children prepared for the 21st century you will have them study science. If you want your children prepared for the 16th century you will have them study Genesis.

  66. Wayne says:

    @Legion
    RE “In other words, scientists _don’t_ think a theory is “absolute fact” the way you imply”

    A good scientist wouldn’t and neither do I. Unfortunately many including many posters here do. Those were the people I was referring to.

    What some consider indisputable facts are not. A discovered fossil is a discovered fossil and that is fact. Once you start making deduction from that then you start into what is probable. Some things are probable enough that for “general” purposes they are considered facts. The further down the line of speculation you go the more likely something in that line is wrong and shouldn’t even be considered a general purpose fact. Also not considering any other explanation is not only anti-science but foolish. Also not acknowledging that “general” purpose facts are just that and are not absolute facts is foolish and is thinking on a lower level.

    There are ways to make many of the “theories” out there work or at least work with some adjustments. However in my “opinion” the probability of most of them being mostly right is low. IMO many parts of theory of evolution are probability much higher in being right but also it is highly likely that many parts are wrong. IMO anyone who thinks the “theory of evolution” is gospel is treating it as a religion and not as science. I recognize that they are being irrational and fanatic in their thinking even though I may agree with many of the same conclusion.

  67. Steve Verdon says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Haha, that’s funny Michael. You really do have a non-scientist type of view of science. There are plenty of examples where scientists have let their beliefs influence their science. Read up on some of the early physics where the existence of the atom is postulated. One rather depressing account had a smart young theoretical physicist returning to Sweden (his home) and dying miserable and broken all because the “big physicists” of the day thought the idea of a particle you couldn’t see was stupid.

    Now, I hope you aren’t reading that as some sort of backwards claim that economics is better than physics, It’s not. Nor am I claiming that economics cannot be used to support one’s beliefs, it can. My point is that science is not this pristine process where the participants are disinterested and merely let the data do the talking.

    How can we accomplish anything when leaders of a major political party believes in total BS? I mean…we overcame their denial of a spherical planet, and planets that rotate around the sun instead of the earth…so I suppose it’ll be fine in the long run. It just seems to me that we shouldn’t have to deal with abject ignorance in this day and age.

    Uhhhmmm what? Are you suggesting that the belief in Ptolemaic model of the solar system was the result of political leaders? Never mind that the model actually did explain, accurately, the motion of celestial bodies? Granted it was wrong, and was eventually replaced by a model that had accurate predictive power and was simpler.

    As for the flat earth, again I’m not sure how political parties play into it. Can you give us a discourse on the political parties in say ancient Greece and how it impacted scientific inquiry and ideas of the day?

  68. mannning says:

    @Sam

    You expect me, ME, to provide you, or the US you are so utterly stuck on representing, with empirical data that actually leads to an ID conclusion? Not possible for me. It might be possible for a Michael Behe or the like to point out the impossibilities of conventional conclusions in microevolution. Any answer I give would actually have to come from Behe, since I am not a microbiologist. So go read his Edge of Evolution book. Then too, perhaps you should consult William Dempski on the mathematical impossibility of adequate selection within the timeframes allowed from the pre Cambrian till now. ( Neither of these gentlemen draw the conclusion that the designer was God, by the way, nor do they subscribe to 10,000 year Creationist theories.)

    For your edification, it has been the tactic of materialists for a long, long time simply to define the supernatural out of existence, thus making any argument in the context of a possible designer futile. Thus, no data or evidence whatsoever would be acceptable to you under these rules! None! You again use natural sciences, I believe, in this narrow sense, which precludes an answer.

    Hence, your use of the term gobbledegook, a pejorative that shows your total lack of understanding of the consequences of the materialist outlook. You are, as it were, trapped in your own logic! Were a Designer to exist, since he would be a supernatural or meta entity, would he necessarily have to abide by our logic? Can you prove the universality of conventional logic outside of a materialistic universe, that such a supernatural Designer must perforce follow? I doubt it. Would it be fair to state that you do not believe in miracles?

  69. john personna says:

    @Steve Verdon:

    It’s not. Nor am I claiming that economics cannot be used to support one’s beliefs, it can.

    Self-awareness is a good thing.

  70. john personna says:

    @mannning:

    So I looked up Michael Behe … “Behe has testified in several court cases related to intelligent design, including the court case Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District that resulted in a ruling that intelligent design was religious in nature.”

    Not to mention “Behe’s claims about the irreducible complexity of essential cellular structures have been rejected by the vast majority of the scientific community,[3][4][5] and his own biology department at Lehigh University published an official statement opposing Behe’s views and intelligent design.[6][7] Behe is a Roman Catholic,[8] and is married to Celeste Behe, and they have nine children[9] who are homeschooled by Celeste in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.[10]”

    So basically you’ve got an odd-ball who lost his case, is not supported by his own uni or scientists at large, but because he gives you an answer which is convenient, you go with it.

  71. Gulliver says:

    The same 6 or 7 rabid bloggers all lathered up and moaning about Christian religious views, I see. Interesting how your intellect only has tolerance for Islamic and Buddhist views even though they both have a belief that excludes evolution. You are all painfully and pitifully transparant. It’s not about anti-science at all with you folks, otherwise you would give equal time to criticism of ALL religious beliefs about the origins of life. You are simply cloaking your prejudices and biases as claims of “logic” and “proof.” It’s carefully thought-out bile, so it must be supported, eh ?

    There’s a reason why there are only a handful of people regularly commenting anymore on Mataconis’ articles and topics. The other contributors to OTB will eventually begin noticing the one-note theme of his comments that never changes in either tone or focus; anti-western religion, anti-conservative, and anti-values. In fact, I believe they already have.

    Have fun in the echo chamber…

  72. mantis says:

    Interesting how your intellect only has tolerance for Islamic and Buddhist views even though they both have a belief that excludes evolution.

    Is anyone here advocating teaching Islamic or Buddhist views in science class?

    It’s not about anti-science at all with you folks, otherwise you would give equal time to criticism of ALL religious beliefs about the origins of life.

    So to prove that we’re pro-science, we must teach religion in science class. Excellent argument.

  73. Gulliver says:

    @ mantis

    Is anyone here advocating teaching Islamic or Buddhist views in science class?

    The elected representatives of the people of the state of Texas voted.about this issue You don’t like the results. Guess what? It’s not up to you, or Mataconis, or any of the other faux-personal freedom advocates here to authoritatively judge their decision. This scare tactic of denigrating Perry’s personal beliefs and the way that Texas implements education ignores the fact that the democratic processes in Texas produced an outcome which is valid, binding, and – most of all – reflects the will of the people of that state.

    Calm down. Your vote would count as much as anyone elses if your state representatives vote on an issue like this. As far as when Perry becomes President, you need to understand that we have this little thing called a Congress in this country. Even if Perry were to suggest the Texas approach on a national level (which he would almost absolutely NEVER do, for political reasons if nothing else), rest assured, you’ll get your chance to have your voice and vote cvount just as much as any Christian.

  74. george says:

    I’m okay with teaching Intelligent Design in biology class, so long as we also teach Intelligent Falling (as per The Onion spoof) in physics – the idea that its the hand of God that pushes things down rather than gravity. And Intelligent Reactions in chemistry … in one stroke we can cut down the amount of actual science anyone learns in half simply by giving the “God makes it happen” alternative half the time. Won’t be good for science in the US, but any country willing to go this route deserves its fate.

    The funny thing is, like a lot of engineers and scientists I believe in God. I just see science as the route for figuring out what God made – what’s the difference between saying God created the elements out of bosons, leptons, etc, or perhaps Super Strings or M-branes, and saying God created humans using evolution? Does God push down on every rock to make it fall, or did God just create gravity to do the job? Why would it be different for evolution?

    A lot of Christians (just about every Catholic) has no problem with evolution – it just becomes the way God created life. Most of this ID stuff has little to do with belief in God – it seems to be more about stopping science than anything else.

  75. legion says:

    @Wayne:

    A good scientist wouldn’t and neither do I. Unfortunately many including many posters here do. Those were the people I was referring to.

    Fair enough. There’s no shortage of people who will latch onto an assumption and never question it or think it through to its obvious consequences. But I think there are far fewer people who believe scientific principles are unchanging than consider their religious assumptions inviolate. A scientist who questions his assumptions is engaging in normal scientific procedure. A religious person who questions the foundation of their beliefs is having a “crisis of faith”.

  76. doubter4444 says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:
    Idiot.
    Then reply any of the mutiple threads about those subjects.
    The whole “Rome’s burning, don’t talk about anything else” is a canard, and used to duck any type of thinking.

  77. anjin-san says:

    Interesting how your intellect only has tolerance for Islamic and Buddhist views even though they both have a belief that excludes evolution.

    Perhaps you could show us where Buddhists are denying evolution…

  78. mannning says:

    @JP

    But a court case or an administration’s decision doesn’t really prove a thing from a scientific point of view. Then too, it is quite apparent that the juggernaut called Neo Darwinism spawns many fellow travellers that want their tenure, their research funds, and the acceptance of their compatriots, which demands their absolute allegience to full evolution theory. The evolutionists control the show. So it is no surprise that many do not approve publically of Behe or others in the ID movement. Again, it is easy to observe that there is no argument centering on the facts of Behe’s work, about which honest commentators would address up front ,instead of harping endlessly on the externals that mean little.

  79. mannning says:

    @JP

    A. N. Whitehead commented that when you see the majority of scientists falling all over themselves in accepting some theory of the day, you can be certain that they are dead wrong.
    So far, all of the attackers of irreducible complexity have failed miserably, though they mount great claims of success to bolster their own prowess. Behe manages to deflate their claims rather easily.

  80. george says:

    The evolutionists control the show.

    Sure, in the same way the quantum mechanicists rule the show in particle physics, and the special relativitists control the show in high energy physics. Should we allow equal time for alternative theories (Aristotle had quite a few in his physics, and over the last thousand years there have been a lot of theories put out describing what matter is).

    When I hear people pushing for ID also pushing for school chemistry classes to give equal time to the earth-water-air-fire theory of matter I’ll believe they’re serious about keeping an open mind.

    And you can almost completely ignore anyone speaking about Darwinism – read his book, and then read modern theories of evolution. Its changed dramatically, though it seems impossible to get that through to many of the folks pushing ID, who somehow think that our theories of evolution haven’t changed in 150 years. I suspect that most have read neither Darwin nor any modern texts on evolution.

  81. Scott O. says:

    @mannning:

    Hopefully someday God will finish perfecting propulsion systems for bacteria and can design into humans cells that can’t become cancerous. Tell Him not to bother with measles, mumps, polio, etc as we have already come up with vaccines for those.

  82. mannning says:

    @Scott
    Such a pat and distorted formula that gets repeated over and over, as if some Darwinian scientists have been scarred in their souls by the very idea of an intelligent design effort. Why, these IDers believe in the Creationist Theory, they want to teach Creation in the schools, and they want to destroy evolutionary theory, they do not use the scientific method, and want to install God as the supreme master of the universe. About right for you?

    Then you would be very disappointed indeed to find that by far the majority of scientifically inclined IDers do not believe in creationism, they want schools simply to teach truth in science, and they want to confine their work strictly to the discovery and explication of instances of design in nature, without evoking God, and they actually do employ the modern tools and methods of science in their efforts.

    Yet, they also believe in God, just as legions of very important scientists before them have had faith in God.

    My whole beef is that the development of a goodly part of science has been bifurcated by a belief system called Darwinism. Believe in ole D and the world is your oyster. Challenge ole D and you are in deep Kimshee. This is not freedom and liberty of scientific investigation. It is despotism of the worst kind—to be deplored by every American. This is the issue that roils my blood. I say for shame on those who practice such despotism!

  83. mannning says:

    From what I have read, the major contributors to ID development are quite up on the latest published twists and turns in biology, and have accomodated them in their work. So much for trying to fosselize them! Then too, when I use D for Darwin, it is a shortcut for the whole idea set of evolution. I am lazy that way, so shoot me!

  84. MarkedMan says:

    The Cubs won the 2010 World Series. I realize there are some out there that believe otherwise, and I’m not questioning their right to believe it. I just want Sports Columnists to present both sides of the issue in an unbiased fashion and let their readers decide.

  85. Scott O. says:

    @mannning:

    I’m merely making the case for mentally retarded design.

  86. Scott O. says:

    @mannning:

    You want to know what true persecution is like? Try getting a job in a major university if you believe in MRD.

  87. john personna says:

    @mannning:

    A. N. Whitehead commented that when you see the majority of scientists falling all over themselves in accepting some theory of the day, you can be certain that they are dead wrong.

    And that’s pretty stupid on its face, isn’t it? “Blood types?” “We don’t need your ‘scientific’ blood types! Just give me the transfusion!”

  88. mannning says:

    I’d say that Whitehead is far more credible than the rank amateurs hanging around here.

  89. Ben Wolf says:

    @mannning: The ID community has yet to publish a single paper for peer-review. They aren’t up on anything.

  90. john personna says:

    @mannning:

    Wait a second … you prefer an expert who tells you that experts, when they agree, are wrong?

    What happens if too many people agree with him? He becomes wrong, right?

  91. george says:

    A. N. Whitehead commented that when you see the majority of scientists falling all over themselves in accepting some theory of the day, you can be certain that they are dead wrong.

    Of course, you realize the current consensus on quantum mechanics and special relativity is even stronger than that on the theory of evolution. Should we be teaching alternatives to quantum mechanics and special relativity as well? The part I can never understand is why the ID’s are completely for teaching alternative theories to evolution, but don’t want the same to be done for physics.

    If you look on-line you’ll find a hundred people who explain in great length (and twisted logic) why quantum mechanics is wrong, why Einstein was an idiot, and who like the ID’ers complain bitterly that there is a huge conspiracy in the physics community to suppress their genius. They speak in terms of ‘Einsteinism’ and argue that modern physics is a cult. And their theories make as much sense as ID does (not much in my opinion, but I was educated in the physics graduate studies cult).

    If we’re going to teach alternatives, lets teach all of them, not just ID. If nothing else it’ll entertain the kids, and it’ll make sure that the US isn’t a player in technology … which isn’t needed anyway right? Because you don’t need science if you have faith.

  92. mannning says:

    @ george

    “Because you don’t need science if you have faith”

    Rediculous! About as rediculous as saying if you have science you don’t need faith.

    Man needs both science and faith, except for the atheists, of course, who have neither faith nor certainty of morals, but do have science. In the history of science, by far the majority of scientists had faith in God, and they did quite well in their research.

    As far as I am concerned, let scientists explore the Universe and all that is in it, follow the evidence they uncover, and publish their findings, whether peer reviewed or not. I am not very fond of orthodoxies that constrain research and publication along ideological lines of any sort. However, this is not to say that peer review is useless; it is merely potentially constraining of new ideas.

    As for teaching, it is quite apparent that students must have a solid grounding in the main lines of science and mathematics, but it would not be amiss if good teachers also pointed out the existence of significant controversies that currently plague the subjects without necessarily dwelling on them to any extent. Let the undergraduate students explore the controversies on their own, if they desire.

  93. mannning says:

    @JP

    No. If he is right, he is right. If others agree with him, they are right too. Recall that Whitehead operated in an era of great confusion and controversy, plus maximum motivation for other scientists to be on the majority side of an issue whether they knew anything about the subject at all.
    Do we have more or less confusion and controversy today?

  94. john personna says:

    @mannning:

    You have a flexible mind, Sir.

    Bent, but definitely flexible.

  95. mannning says:

    @Ben Wolf

    The record shows that perhaps a dozen papers and a few books have received peer reviews. However, the papers were censored to remove or reduce the ID slant as much as possible in order to get them published. One can argue that this is a paltry showing, especially when stacked up against the weekly output of biology papers.

    A different argument might be that anything reeking of the odorous ID would be rejected without review because of the opinions of the editorial staff. I personaly don’t know if this is so, but I find it highly likely. Just look at the negative posts here as a crude measure of the bias against serious scientific ID efforts.

  96. Ernieyeball says:

    One result of Intelligent Design…Apparently this guy does not understand that gravity is only a theory!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ErdKfYTRiQ

  97. John Curran says:

    Ernieyeball is correct and there are also theories of motion, electro-magnetic forces, thermodynamics, etc.

    The important question to ask a creationist is “do you get a flu shot?”

    If there is no evolution, why would you bother?

    BTW, they don’t like this question. But one guy I asked it of, looked into the distance for a long moment & said, “I’ll have to think about this.”