Navigating the slippery slope from fundamentalist creation to evolution and atheism.
Thoughtful responses to 14-top science questions.
Please tell the McCain/Palin Campaign (preferrably politely) why teaching creationism in our public schools around America is superstitious and is not in our nation's best interests. These are the feelers McCain has out there, the way in which Americans can have a voice and be heard by his campaign:Contact his campaign directly here:http://www.johnmccain.com/Contact/Or go to his blogs and leave a polite message about the subject matter wherever appropriate:http://www.johnmccain.com/blog/Remember, McCain does a lot of things right and is a great heroic war veteran who genuinely puts his country first, but Creationism is one key area where he is completely wrong and could potentially create a major setback for American students and businesses. We can't let America fall behind foriegn countries in the departments of Science and Technology because of his superstitious beliefs.
I'm not too concerned about Palin's position of allowing discussion of both evolution and creationism in the classroom, even though I believe special creationism and Intelligent Design is pseudo-science. (I'd love to expose those positions as such in the classroom!) She appears merely uneducated on the finer points and not "on fire" to demand equal time for both positions. I doubt it will factor significantly in a McCain/Palin White House.Oh, yeah ... not a chance those answers to the science questions were Obama's. And I doubt future answers from McCain will be his either.
I, too, am for discussion of ID and creation myths in the philosophy classroom.Having a president and vice president who do not believe in evolution, however, is very scary. (McCain seems to change his position on whether or not he believes in evolution depending on the day/audience, and certainly does not see a problem with it being taught in schools. He sounds IDer to me.) A presidential candidate with this stance screams of ignorance. This position belittles science. It disrespects our religious freedoms. When Palin says that global warming is not real, that salmon do not need protection, that polar bears are not endangered, and that Alaska is ours to mine, irrespective of what the scientists and environmentalists say, well, it just says to me that her definition of "debate" is about passion, charm, and personality and not about objectivity and diplomacy. The policies applied from such an administration will serve to destroy our planet and make us a stupid, vulnerable population as other nations get healthier and technologically advanced. (For a couple citations, see this piece from NY Times and this story from the LA Times where this quote comes:"The governor's decision was clearly based on politics, not on science, and was primarily designed to protect the oil and gas industry stampede into the Arctic Ocean," said Steiner, the University of Alaska marine biologist.Admittedly, perhaps this is a bit over the top. I do not think McCain/Palin will dismantle science as we know it. Science is extremely important to me, however. It would be nice if political science was more about employing the scientific method -- providing good statistics on policies that work or fail and can explain why and why not -- rather than marketing.Oh, yeah ... not a chance those answers to the science questions were Obama's. And I doubt future answers from McCain will be his either.I don't think Obama gave these direct answers, but I'm sure these answers reflect his positions. I'm sure McCain's answers will also.
Com'on, Tom. Tell us how you really feel. ;-)I, too, am for discussion of ID and creation myths in the philosophy classroom.Creation myths, yes. ID, no. That needs to be attacked and exposed as just another form of special creationism in the science classroom, where a discussion of its unscientific methodologies are laid out for all to see.Having a president and vice president who do not believe in evolution, however, is very scary. McCain seems to change his position on whether or not he believes in evolution depending on the day/audience, and certainly does not see a problem with it being taught in schools.Although McCain has, in the past, supported the discussion of ID in the classroom, John McCain more recently said, "I happen to believe in evolution. ... I respect those who think the world was created in seven days. Should it be taught as a science class? Probably not." He also wrote, "Darwin helped explain nature’s laws. He did not speculate, in his published theories at least, on the origin of life. He did not exclude God, for Whom the immensity of time is but a moment, from our presence. The only undeniable challenge the theory of evolution poses to Christian beliefs is its obvious contradiction of the idea that God created the world as it is in less than a week. But our faith is certainly not so weak that it can be shaken to learn that a biblical metaphor is not literal history. Nature doesn’t threaten our faith. On the contrary, when we contemplate its beauty and mysteries we cannot quiet in our heart an insistent impulse of belief that for all its variations and inevitable change, before its creation, in a time before time, God let it be so, and, thus, its many splendors and purposes abide in His purpose" (Character Is Destiny, 2005). So, Tom, don't get all too in a tizzy if/when McCain sets foot in the White House. And I wouldn't go so far as to say it's flip-flopping (not that you did). I've changed my own stance on it after educating myself, as you well know. You have to give him some credit.Also for the record, Obama believes in evolution as well: "I’m a Christian, and I believe in parents being able to provide children with religious instruction without interference from the state. But I also believe our schools are there to teach worldly knowledge and science. I believe in evolution, and I believe there’s a difference between science and faith. That doesn’t make faith any less important than science. It just means they’re two different things. And I think it’s a mistake to try to cloud the teaching of science with theories that frankly don’t hold up to scientific inquiry" (http://scienceblogs.com/tfk/2008/03/obama_on_id.php). But look! He's also an irrational Christian! Must be equally scary for you, Tom, to have a religious man in the White House no matter which party wins. Too bad Dawkins can't run. ;-) You know what scares me more, Tom? Having a die-hard Dispensationalist in the White House. As much as I loved Ronald Reagan, some of his off-the-cuff comments scare me now, especially considering that Rapture fever was at an all-time high in the mid-80s. I'm just glad Dubya wasn't into that stuff.A presidential candidate with this stance screams of ignorance. This position belittles science.Sure it does, but not intentionally! The majority of Americans are in a similar boat. And Americans' ignorance isn't limited to just science. It doesn't help to attack the Executive Branch in this manner, when the real control lies at the local level (e.g., school boards, state-level Department of Education, state-level court systems, etc.). That's where our focus should be. Let the POTUS or VP have their opinion. It'll only have the force of an opinion. And don't worry about conservative judges either. They appear to be siding against ID in droves as local and state laws mandating the teaching (as opposed to mere discussion) of ID in the classroom is struck down time and time again in the courts.When Palin says that global warming is not realI admit that global warming is probably happening, but from what I've read, the majority of scientists don't believe that it's the result of mankind's influence. That stance may be wrong ultimately, but one shouldn't strike out against mere politicians when a sizable chunk of scientists don't buy into the theory either.The policies applied from such an administration will serve to destroy our planet and make us a stupid, vulnerable population as other nations get healthier and technologically advanced.Wait a second. Regardless of the policies instituted here in America, we are still well ahead of the power curve. Is the Third World really going to bypass us in this regard? Which nations are getting healthier and more technologically advanced as a result of their "green" ideology?I do not think McCain/Palin will dismantle science as we know it.Now that's the most reasonable thing you've said in this particular discussion. ;-)Science is extremely important to me, however.Same here.It would be nice if political science was more about employing the scientific method -- providing good statistics on policies that work or fail and can explain why and why not -- rather than marketing.Mind if I use that quote often and attribute it to me??? I love it.I don't think Obama gave these direct answers, but I'm sure these answers reflect his positions. I'm sure McCain's answers will also.Eh, I'm not so sure. The answers to those questions are way too detailed to really reflect Obama's positions. I could be wrong and Obama is that scientifically savvy. McCain's already admitted to being a science rock, so I'm not going to believe that his answers are going to necessarily reflect his beliefs either. They are the beliefs of their respective science advisers, whom they trust. That's all I'm saying. Sadly, politicians these days like to sound like they know what they're talking about. I've seen way too much of it in my career.One last thing. Don't respond to my posts so late at night. You got me all in a tizzy and here I am, at 1:00 in the morning, losing my beauty sleep. ;-)
Mike, thanks for the discussion. You can see my political stance is transparent, and admittedly biased. In showing my fear of the republican ticket, ragging on potential problems, I did not highlight potential pluses -- they being that McCain has pushed for stem cell research and recognizes the threat of global warming, etc. Palin also recently pushed a bill to help Alaska be more green.All candidates know that science and technology is important. What is up to the voters to decide, who also believe science and technology is important, is to determine how important it is and what types of policies they think will better drive it. Simply throwing money at it is not necessarily the best thing. Supporting esoteric research is not necessarily beneficial, either. Oil and mining companies are not completely evil.If these are not Barack's words, and won't be of McCain's either, it does not really matter. It shows the advisors each party has and the proposed policies each will try and deliver and how.Regarding a Christian in office -- If Dawkins were American and running, I still probably wouldn't vote for him because most Americans are not ready for an atheist president and wouldn't vote for him either. He wouldn't stand a chance. I therefore look closely at the Christian nominees (since that's my only choice) and ask about their religious views. I was for Gore in 2000, but when Lieberman said "We have freedom of religion not from religion" that certainly didn't sit well with me. Barack's stance on religion is more comfortable to me than McCain's.Now, regarding your comment that since most or many Americans find evolution suspect, then it really doesn't matter if the president is or not, doesn't hold weight. What's wrong with having our leaders be a little smarter or savvy than the common man? There is a trickle down effect of our leaders' stances. They are effective marketers dispensing their beliefs. If a leader says something is important, that this is a national priority, it'll get heard. If a leader says something is inconclusive or does not warrant our attention, it will not get heard. So, when a local school board is fighting against ID in schools, it's much easier if they have everybody from the president down saying that they can't. It gives an unclear message when the president says that it's open for debate. Now, regarding climate change, that is real. Any scientist will admit that. Is it man made? You can probably show me two scientists who still say that it is inconclusive.That's all for this tizzy match for now. I gotta run!
Mike, thanks for the discussion.Nothing like a little spirited discussion between cyber-friends, eh? =)You can see my political stance is transparent, and admittedly biased.I'm sure mine is as well, but I've been trying harder to not be so biased. I used to be ultra-conservative and quite fundamentalist in my thinking, but I'd like to think I've grown wiser over the years as my experiences (read: reality) shed light on my previously held beliefs. As I mentioned elsewhere on your blog, I love the FactCheck.org folk. Dedication to the truth, regardless of where it leads, is a noble goal.In showing my fear of the republican ticket, ragging on potential problems, I did not highlight potential plusesI think you've shown your true colors here by pointing these out, Tom. Good on ya.McCain has pushed for stem cell research and recognizes the threat of global warming, etc. Palin also recently pushed a bill to help Alaska be more green.Re: stem cell research, if I understand McCain's position, is that he, under normal circumstances, would not support embryonic stem cell research, but tentatively does so because "those embryos will be either discarded or kept in permanent frozen status." Thus, he would not support the creation of embryos for the sole purpose of research. (Similarly, but not identically, Bush supports embryonic stem cell research only on stem cell lines from already-destroyed embryos.)It shows the advisors each party has and the proposed policies each will try and deliver and how.I can agree with that. At the risk of beating a dead horse, I would prefer that the candidates truly understand the scientific issues of which they are "speaking."I still probably wouldn't vote for [an atheist] because most Americans are not ready for an atheist president and wouldn't vote for him either. He wouldn't stand a chance.Do you think this could ever happen as long as a vast majority of Americans hold to theism?Barack's stance on religion is more comfortable to me than McCain's.Can you elaborate on this?regarding your comment that since most or many Americans find evolution suspect, then it really doesn't matter if the president is or not, doesn't hold weight. What's wrong with having our leaders be a little smarter or savvy than the common man?Touché.There is a trickle down effect of our leaders' stances. They are effective marketers dispensing their beliefs. If a leader says something is important, that this is a national priority, it'll get heard. If a leader says something is inconclusive or does not warrant our attention, it will not get heard.I apologize for downplaying the amount of influence the President has insofar as opinions are concerned. At the same time, however, I think the vast majority of the scientific community holds much more power than the President ever will in these matters. It should be up to us to hold him or her accountable and ensure our voice is heard on these matters. In fact, I'm thinking of becoming a member of the NCSE to assist their efforts.You can probably show me two scientists who still say that [man-made global warming] is inconclusive.I'll do you one better. How about 400 scientists? ;-)Hope you're having a great Labor Day!
Do you think this could ever happen as long as a vast majority of Americans hold to theism?No. Not when the bulk of theists equate religion with meaning and morality.When I say that Obama's stance on religion is more comfortable to me than McCain's, it's because I think Obama is more educated with religion -- at least Muslim and Christianity -- than McCain. Those YouTube videos are a good example, and there are several more. McCain repeatedly uses a broad brush with the phrase "Judeo-Christian" while Obama actually quotes scripture. Now, while you might predict that that might make an atheist more alarmed, Obama then clearly states how religion does or does not fit into public policy while McCain still echos "Judeo-Christian..."Obama recognizes religion as a framework in which many of us ensconce ideology and reality. As such, we have a culture, heritage, and vocabulary that cannot help but be present at "the public table" or "public square" as he calls it. We can use that vocabulary. We can even attempt to place the policies of the religion into public policy so long as they are not directly religious. For example, we cannot make a law that says that murder is wrong because God made it a commandment. But a theist can be motivated by such a commandment to try and make laws against murder. Some may even invoke scripture in the debate, but in the end, the policy has to stand on its own, accommodating all religions as much as possible and speaking for the public as a whole.
Oh, and thanks for the 400 scientists document! Touché!
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