Tennessee Decides It is Not Backward Enough

In the beginning, there was light. But then we became dim bulbs.


The other day, I saw two articles highlighted, separately, in the same publication. One mentioned that cases of dementia are destined to grow dramatically in America in coming years. The other explained how the state of Tennessee is intent on making students more stupid.

Tennessee has now passed a law permitting teachers to present students with alternatives to well-known scientific principles. The bill easily passed both houses of the legislature, and the governor let it become law without his signature.

Presumably he realized that he was in a difficult position—but aren’t we all? Louisiana has a similar law, and who knows what state will be next.

Why worry about our older citizens losing their minds on the one hand, while we’re rotting the minds of our children, voluntarily? Per Slate:

The new law bars schools and administrators from prohibiting teachers from “helping students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught.” But, as the effort’s critics have been quick to point out, the only examples the legislation gives of “controversial” theories are “biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.”

…The law’s supporters, including the Knoxville-based Center for Faith and Science International, argue that it promotes critical thinking skills. But opponents, who include the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Tennessee Education Association, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the National Association of Biology Teachers, argue that the new rules are essentially allowing teachers to depict evolution and global warming as scientifically controversial subjects, when the actual controversy surrounding them comes from the political and religious spheres, not from scientists.

Probably, soon, challenges to the earth being round…will get a good airing.

Not just an airing—America specializes in repackaging, artfully, the most improbable scenarios. Just as George W. Bush became a “compassionate conservative” and making life even harder for poor mothers with small children became “welfare reform,” one Christian-preferring God planning the world, warts and all, for the rest of us, gets labeled “intelligent design.”

Keep in mind that Tennessee is the state that in 1925 held the infamous Scopes Trial—in which a high school science teacher was convicted of violating a law prohibiting the teaching of evolution. (The conviction was overturned, but only on a technicality.)

With almost no national conversation on these kinds of big steps backwards, it is worth asking: in the near-century since the Scopes trial, really, how much have we progressed? And who, oh who, will want to hire graduates of Tennessee’s educational system?

GRAPHIC: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-0vodJWqazls/T26FJ81b2GI/AAAAAAAAIdM/6fLDFK4UmR8/s1600/Anti-Evolution.jpg

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  • Anonymous

    It’s just PUBLIC skoo… Let them teach the down trodden to think outside the box and they may realize the universe is a fraud. OwNoes!!  You know six guys in lab-coats created this whole thing and it’s NOT REAL anyhow.. so who cares what they teach, think or what they might learn.

  • Richard Johns

    I think it’s important to recognise that the mechanisms for life’s origin, and for evolution itself, are still largely mysterious.

    In science, an empirically adequate explanation for some event is one that “saves the phenomena”, i.e. it can be used to *predict* the event.  It’s a simple fact that our present understanding of chemistry does not predict the origin of life, and that our best understanding of evolutionary processes doesn’t predict such events as the origin of the eukaryotic cell, multicellularity, novel body plans,  consciousness, etc. etc.

    These are obviously hard very problems, and we shouldn’t fault biologists for their lack of progress so far with them.  At the same, however, some biologists are guilty of overselling their speculations, claiming that they are empirically adequate for example.  Further, many of the same scientists present their theories with an anti-religious gloss that justifiably upsets religious conservatives.

    The tendency for biologists to oversell their theories has attracted criticism not just from religious conservatives, but also secular philosophers such as Jerry Fodor and Tom Nagel.  In view of this one cannot dismiss the skepticism of the people of Tennessee so easily.

    • PGeorge

      Boy, I couldn’t agree more, Biology should definitely not taught by biologists but by philosophers and theologians. Theology, of course, should be taught by the football coach, and mathematics by the janitor. The possibilities are endless. 

      As for Tennessee, the place is best inhabited by Tennesseans, anyone who believes in public education might want to consider alternatives.

      • Richard Johns

        Did I say anything about theologians?  Did I suggest that Tom Nagel teach biology to high school students?

        My point is that some secular philosophers, with a very good understanding of biology, find the confidence of Darwinists to be overblown.  It’s harder for such critics to get good appointments in biology departments, but there are/were still a few (such as James Shapiro, Lynne Margulis, Richard Sternberg, Scott Minnich, Mike Behe, Paul Chien and Jonathan Wells).

        Skepticism about the ability of natural selection to create the wonders of biology isn’t restricted to religious nuts.  If one ignores this fact, then is one any more reasonable than such fundamentalists?

        • Kevin Schmidt

           Please explain how “secular philosophers”, whatever that is, are scientifically qualified to “peer review”, not “critique” anything remotely related to a scientific study about anything.

          By the way, we are talking about “Evolution”, not “Darwinism”.

    • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/ZZWEV3UAUMKA3LOYWWBY4LUXUI catface

      There is a difference between allowing convicted sex offenders access to hardcore porn while serving in prison, and allowing ordinary law abiding citizens such access.  Allowing Tennessee teachers and students access to the teaching of “critiques” of scientific understanding is much like the former above.  We all know what prurient interests will be stimulated in the sex offenders by exposure to porn.

  • Anonymous

    What a tangled web we weave when we practice to deceive.

    I know a fundamentalist from Tennessee who won’t permit a conversation in his presence that suggests that the Earth is older than about 6,000 years, that Man can possibly affect climate, or that there’s ever been a force greater than God who could have made man. This guy just turns red and begins ranting about blasphemy and eternal damnation, as if to censor any conversation. On his days off, the rest of us can share very interesting ideas, where there are no bounds to control any intellectual exchange.

    Oh, there’s only, ever been one Bible, too.  Yes, these people seem to have something against the advance of civilization, but why?

    • Kevin Schmidt

       There is scientific evidence to suggest the Bible evolved into the Anti-Christ.

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  • Reese Barnes

    Yeah, who knows next some “dumb peasant” will be questioning global warming or why we are trapped in a debt based money system. This artcl fails on so many levels I do not know where to begin. The “facts” of science should continually be questioned and tested and young people should never be taught one answer is the only undeniable answer. Maybe since this boob that wrote this has all the answers he can finally explain to me in “scientific terms” just exactly how the first functioning and self replicating proto-cells developed from complex strands of organic molecules….. oh wait thats right, he cant. FAIL.

    • Kevin Schmidt

      It is your completely off topic comment that gets a FAIL!

      The topic of discussion is evolution, not the origin of life.

  • Rob

    “when the actual controversy surrounding them comes from the political and religious spheres, not from scientists. ”

    Oh really? If you believe that statement, you probably went to public school.
    I agree that what children do and do not learn should not be determined by a small group of people, no matter how well meaning they may like to think they are. That goes for both sides of the argument. 

    This story is a pot calling the kettle black kind of a story. Being able to understand and argue for both sides of an issue, when you may not agree with one of them makes you smarter. That’s what this story seems to be either missing, or obfuscating. Either way, its not arguing either side very well. 

    If I was grading this, I would give it a “Needs more work.” 

    • Russ Baker

       First of all, the statement you quote came from Slate, not from the author of this piece–please distinguish. Second, if you believe that children should hear both sides of things, please tell me how you would feel about children hearing all about statistics on gun use and innocent victims, about alternative lifestyles perhaps being just fine, about the OPPOSITE of what you want your children to hear on your most heartfelt beliefs. If you truly believe that children should be exposed to both sides on EVERYTHING….well, that will be a mighty interesting educational experience. And also tell us how the children are supposed to make sense of things if they’re given no guidance at all? Are teachers supposed to be simply automatons who give equal time to everything and everyone, regardless of basis?

      • Rob

        First, yes, you’re right about the quote. Should have been “If you believe this quote from Slate…” My bad.

        Second, I think a distinction needs to be made between beliefs based on moral issues, and beliefs regarding empirical, scientific, non-moral issues. That’s what I meant regarding both sides of an issue. Yes, hearing both sides of every MORAL issue would be a very confusing experience for children for sure. I believe hearing both sides of SCIENTIFIC issues would be very productive. 

        Of course, that opens up the problem of determining what issues do exist in science that are valid, which is often in the eye of the beholder. Which comes back around to the original point I was trying to make. That being who is determining what a child does and does not learn. (In matters of science that is, just to be more clear than I was the first time.) Matters of morality, well that’s a whole other ball of wax. Hopefully the parents are giving the child a solid moral grounding for starters.

        I guess my first comment gets a “Needs more work” as well! 

  • Jay Warren Clark

    “Well known scientific principles” are one thing, but a current theory is another thing entirely.  This starts out with the former and then refers to “theories.”  Darwin’s theory is just that, a theory.  And the position of scientific naturalism that holds that theory is itself a philosophical position and as subjective as any other philosophy.  It is not in any way objective fact–no matter who says it is!  There is much in the way current evolutionary theory is handled that needs to be discussed objectively.  And no, not every critic is a “Creationist!”  Please read Johnson’s “Darwin On Trial”  It will open up the door a bit for you.  JWC

    • Russ Baker

       Nothing wrong with discussing ANY theory “objectively.” Please explain, scientifically, how the “God did it” theory is explained, objectively.

      • Richard Johns

        Russ:  I think you’ve missed the import of this legislation.  It doesn’t permit teaching alternatives to (e.g.) evolution.  Rather it permits (it doesn’t require) the teaching of criticisms and weaknesses of mainstream theories.

        I accept that mainstream ideas about evolution provide the best scientific explanation of life that we presently have.  Yet, at the same time, these ideas don’t predict the data well at all, and are hence much weaker than typical explanations in science.  Can’t students be taught about this?

        • Russ Baker

           Arent we being a tad naive here? The bill summary itself says “… the scientific strengths and scientific
          weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being
          taught, such as evolution and global warming.”  As if someone is already prohibiting a rational discussion of science…. But WHO is doing that? Also, you have to ask yourself who was behind this bill–and what actual problem they were alleviating, or why evolution and warming are specifically mentioned. I think that administrators are within their rights to let teachers know that if they’re part of the “climate conspiracy” crowd, they shouldn’t plan on trying to convince their students that there’s any kind of balanced debate on the issue within scientific circles, because there is not. Ditto with evolution. Just as administrators don’t allow people to promote other agendas and beliefs that have no place in an institution stressing rationality. To suggest that education treat everything as a kind of equivalency, and let students decide for themselves is the same thing, it seems, as letting the mainstream media do that, rather than critically assessing the data and then taking a responsible lead.

          • Anonymous

            Russ Baker:  You say, “…they shouldn’t plan on trying to convince their students that there’s
            any kind of balanced debate on the issue within scientific circles,
            because there is not. Ditto with evolution.”

            That’s right there is no balanced debate on these issues in science.  The reason is that those who have a different perspective or who have questions are not invited to the debate.  So the sacred cow of “objectivity” is violated once again–by science itself!  This stuff is neither the work or a scientist or a gentleman.  J. Warren Clark

    • Pramath

      The “theory of relativity” is just that. A theory. In mathematics we have
      “theory of equations”, “Galois theory”, “Group theory”. They’re all just that–theories. Thanks. Now I know.

    • guest

       If Christian fundamentalists are allowed to impose their beliefs on others in public schools, then scientists must be allowed to teach evolution, and climate change in churches. Oh and this has to be mandatory for the congregation or else they should be excommunicated since the kids could risk failing their class if they don’t except their teachers dogma (assuming the teacher is a creationist).

      • Dwight Lane5

         Read the law please, they are not teaching it.  We are allowing opposition of views, and opening the debate.
        And no, you can’t just walk into people’s churches and force them to teach what you want unless you let them into your house to teach what you don’t want.  Or should they force their way into your house?
        That is a private property and thus, a freedom issue.

  • Ray Matthew

    I think this article is rooted in condescention and pride.

    • mdg

       Your comment certainly is.  Care to explain why you think this about the article?  Objectively, please.

    • mdg

       Your comment certainly is.  Care to explain why you think this about the article?  Objectively, please.

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  • Morris Townson

    I live in TN and fought this law with every fiber in my heart.  There is no place in the public school classrooms for religious dogma and superstition.  

    The USA ranks 21st out of 40 countries in science education.  We need to better our schools not put them back to the 1920s ignorance.

    What is really scary is relating the evangelical movement in the USA today with how Hitler rose to power.  He too was a devout christian, attended a christian school, called himself a “Soldier of Christ”, rose to power on an evangelical christian platform, speeches were more like a preachers church sermon than political, passed laws that all schools (and the military) had to teach xtianity, etc.  

    Naomi Wolf warned of this too in some of her books.

    • Morris Townson

      Here is one history lesson that pulls together all ancient history documents…Youtube  Spirit Science The Human History Movie.  But, probably too educationally  advanced for the fundamental religious extremist posting here.

  • Anonymous

     Most people think Darwin told how everything “evolved”. No, he told how things already here evolved to similar things. A minor mutation here and another one there (that weren’t fatal since MOST mutations are Fatal) and you have something “new”. Really, though, all the things HAD the same genes but different ones were Expressed just as different breeds of dogs didn’t evolve from wolves, they were bred so particular ones would be expressed to make the dogs look different.

    NO SCIENTIST can explain how eyes evolved. Think about it. Were there lots of BLIND animals with all but the one important trait to “evolve” and then all them could see?

    There’s the Bombadier beetle that emits two liquids that explode together. Did the beetle “know” that when one chemical “evolved” that NOT throw that then “useless” trait away as it “waited” for the other liquid to evolve?

    There’s the flagellum on tiny organisms that are just like real motors. Did the organism KNOW that it had all these other wonderful  parts in its body as it “waited” for the SPECIAL ONE it needed to make it all work together “evolve”?

    Geez, evolution is a JOKE, a BAD JOKE.

    • Kevin Schmidt

       Actually, your comment is a JOKE, a BAD JOKE.

      The illogical and junk science tripe you are serving up has been soundly discredited years ago.

    • Anonymous

       First, scientist has shown how an eye can evolve.  And, just to address the over arching subject of your comments, irreducible complexity has been shown to be false.  For example, the flagellum you mentioned has been shown in other organisms to be present minus a few proteins and serving a different function.  So a less complex version of the flagellum exists, but it has a different use.

  • Bob Boldt

    Tennessee and Louisiana are not the only states seemingly pedal to the metal in the race to the back of the class. Our esteemed Missouri Legislators seem equally determined to lead us away from the light.
    Like a tenacious superbug that resists all efforts to eradicate it, the attempts of our Republican legislators to fill the minds of our children with superstitious, pseudo-scientific, clap-trap alternatives to the long-established “theory” of Darwinian Evolution persist. Returning to the hallowed halls of our state capitol, term after term, is usually some attack on reason, science and education. 
    Let our state and the nation fall into economic chaos, let the tragically disadvantaged go unserved, and let the health and safety of their constituents and their environment remain at risk—our duly elected seem more interested in pursuing the educational implications of how a Biblical God is a more valid scientific authority than hard science.

    This latest assault on reason, House Bill 1227—The Missouri Standard Science Act , would propose to mandate the teaching of an “alternative” theory of biology and creation, or Intelligent Design. If you are going to teach Evolution in the public schools of Missouri, the bill states, you have to teach Intelligent Design. The science textbooks must reflect this directive as well.
    There are many real challenges educators face today attempting to provide our future citizens with the tools of intelligence, insight, creativity and values. We do not need the precious few hours devoted to science cluttered with the demonstrably false and confusing claims of Intelligent Design. Fundamentalist Christian children receive quite enough in the way of false ideas and dubious values in their homes and churches as it is.

    Forcing rational people to bow to the beliefs of a small, ingorant religious cult in matters as important as science education is truly unintelligent.

  • Logan

    These creatards don’t know what what the word “theory” means in science terms. They think it means “guess”, or “educated guess”. Such dumbasses…… Evolution in the biology community isn’t a guess- it’s a fact. Yes, both a fact and a theory. The theory explains WHY it’s a fact. Just like the theory of gravity etc. Accredited biologists don’t dispute evolution. Why would they dispute facts.? Most schools are public, tax paid for, state schools. Keep hold to the constitution- please. Church and state seperate, just like it says. If I was an idiot ,and therefore a theist in the matters of religion, I would be against the facts also. As an agnostic atheist, I don’t demand that we pass a bill allowing people to walk into churches teaching gravity, evolution, medicine, chemistry, etc.


    The creationists could make this argument go away, once and for all, by simply proving what they have to say.  It does not seem to register with these cretin’s, that simply attacking Darwin does nothing to prove their point of view. 

    • Anonymous

       Orax:  This would be stronger if you admitted the existence of silly cretins on both sides of this debate.  Strangely you don’t despite a vast sea of evidence.  This, Oraxx, goes to YOUR subjectivity. 

      That brings up another essential point left out of this “debate” entirely.  The truth is that the Creationists are pretty easy pickins for intelligent denizens of Scientific Naturalism.  But for the most part this is too easy and just an example of using the extremes against the middle.  In other words, there is another critique of science and of evolution that is never mentioned and includes a lot of thoughtful people.  For a very articulate example of that please read Phillip Johnson’s “Darwin On Trial.” 

      Under the old principle “physician heal thyself,” science needs to have a long look in its own mirror.  If, like Sagan, you are going to critique Culture, you at least need to make a stab at, how shall we say it, being nice.  If you are going to dismiss, eradicate, or even take over Culture as Sagan tried to do, then you at least need to begin to act like ladies and gentlemen.  Nineteenth Century science was a lot healthier than it is today and was populated with at least a few cultured people.  Today the situation is quite different.  Did you know that, or wasn’t it in the curriculum you were required to study?  J. Warren Clark

    • Anonymous

       The last sentence in my first paragraph below should read: “This, Oraxx, goes both to your subjectivity AND your scientific objectivity.  JWC

      • ORAXX

        I have a masters deg. in engineering among other assorted degrees. My scientific background is reasonably good and considerably better than most. I say again, the creationist crowd carries on as if they win by default if they discredit Darwin, and nothing could be further from the truth.

        • Anonymous

          Oraxx:  You talk of “winning” (and losing).  But the history of science (and philosophy) teaches nothing if not the demonstrated fact that the search will never be over.  There are and there never will be any winners–though many bad people and bad scientists will be funded. 
          Two problems with science: one, it seeks knowledge, as it should, but thinks that its formulations of knowledge are the only legitimate forms of knowledge.  And this is of course nonsense since it cannot teach us the right way to live–and proves it by its own behavior!  We may have evolved, but in my view there are so many supercilious apes in science that it is clear that we haven’t come very far.  Two, since science arrives an any “knowledge” that it has based upon the manipulations of a finite consciousness, it is not capable of arriving at the certainty that is feigns.  This goes to its own “objectivity” and in fact its self knowledge.  And one last thing.  If you have been around the academy as long as you claim, then you should know that behind most of these “degrees” is a damn fool and therefore the degrees don’t mean much.  And if you don’t understand this, well… I’ll let you complete this sentence yourself.  J. Warren Clark

  • Anonymous

    Logan says:  “These creatards don’t know what what the word “theory” means in science terms….” 
    You have it backwards.  Of course the defenders of religious dogma have their own blind-spot which, incidentally, can be be dealt with from their own texts and traditions–if they in fact knew those traditions themselves.  But, it is an unreflective and therefore supercilious science that is confused about what the word “theory” means.  With an eye to the history of science, please read Johnson’s “Darwin On Trial.”  This should at least bring you all back to a reflective and therefore honest relationship to your own philosophical (i.e., subjective) position, i.e., Scientific Naturalism–and its natural limits. 
    Indeed your own terse and vulgar comment in this string is a pretty good example of the lower end of this failure–the collapse of otherwise intelligent men into their own model.  This “collapse” by the way is the very opposite of a so-called “objectivity.”  There is much to think about here sir.  Great (true) scientists do not speak the way you Sagan and others do–nor do gentlemen.
    Instead of aping a supercilious Sagan and many others who say without any reservation whatsoever that “evolution is a fact,” why not be honest and quote S. J. Gould who wrote that so far from being a fact, “the trade secret among modern paleontologists is the paucity of transitional forms,” i.e., the theory remains a theory. 
    One of the cracks in the foundation of science Logan is you, or rather the condition of your own subjectivity which, somehow science has failed to correct.  Please think about this.  Also, you might want to read Lewis’ “The Abolition Of Man.”  That might get the wheels turning.  J. Warren Clark 

    • Matt

      Well, you seem to be up to the old anti-science trick of completely misrepresenting the opinion of famous scientists.  Do you honestly think that SJ Gould doesn’t fully believe that evolution has happened?  The existence or lack of “transition forms” is a real debate within the science community, but anti-science people have chosen to frame this debate in a “is evolution real or false” framework.  If you knew the difference between steady-state evolution and punctuated equilibrium (which Gould pioneered), you would understand why Gould said what he said.  Your conclusion that Gould doesn’t fully believe that evolution happened is completely wrong.

      • Anonymous

         No.  First you miss the point, and then you add weight to it (mine) by making a straw man out of me.  I am not anti science.  Though not all of us are called to science, nearly all of us are passionate scientists as youth!  Who doesn’t fall in love with science?  What I want of science however, as I do in the Humanities, is honesty. 
        Here’s a list of the things that you write and in saying so define me falsely.  1) I am not anti-science.  2) I did not say that Gould didn’t fully believe in evolution.  I’ve have heard him lecture.  What I suggested is that he and others are not completely honest with the American public.  Why does he call the paucity of transitional forms a “trade secret?”  Those are his words, not mine.  But, since we are both educators (he is gone now), in good conscience I am required to ask this question.  3) I know what “punk eek” is and a great deal more.  4) Therefore I am not uninformed as you like readers to believe.  5) I am not using tricks.  I am asking for an honest debate where both sides are included–and “a real debate within the science community” does not qualify in my book.  The “trick” is being played by advocates of science who convince the public that non scientists are not qualified to even enter the debate–but, by the way, keep funding my work with your tax dollars please.  6)  To quote from “famous  scientists” is not to misrepresent them but you falsely have put these conclusions in my mouth.  7) and if you are suggesting that a debate is false itself if it does not hold open the possibility that the theory is false then you are absolutely right about that!  Any such debate is a fake and is ignorant (or feigning ignorance) of the history of ideas–one of which is evolution.  Evolution is, as is the whole position called “Scientific Naturalism, a philosophical position and is as subjective as all the rest.  It is not pure truth.  It is not pure truth because it can’t be, being (as all human knowledge is) a partial view from a partial perspective.  Any other posture is a pretense and at bottom a lie. 
        One last thing.  Given an attitude of supercilious contempt, any invitation to debate is just a ruse.  You may invite someone from the Humanities to the debate, but as long as you remain in the attitude that is behind your comment no real (i.e., open) debate is possible.  I hope therefore that readers of this set of comments are “objective” enough with their own perspective to see the false certainty that you arrogate to yourself and are able to see that supercilious invective, and the attitude behind it, is one of the central problems in science–a science that would be objective that is.  This is a good and proper job for science.  Physician heal thyself.  J. Warren Clark

  • Bill

    I don’t see why science classes cannot have free and open discussions of all kinds of things that may seem crazy. At one time parallel universes was an outlandish idea, but now it is commonplace to discuss it in astronomy classrooms. Why should evolution have the status of an orthodoxy, completely unchallenged? Are we afraid that students will become more attached to their superstitions if the teacher allows a discussion of them? Let us trust our science teachers to be able to bring to bear their expertise in dealing with ideas that are widely accepted but which can be easily refuted. Some students of course will still not get it, but the brighter ones may appreciate the give and take of questions and answers that will lead them to a stronger grasp of the truth of evolution. If a law is needed to bring critical thinking back into the classroom, I think we should applaud it, not condemn it.

    • Anonymous

      Likewise, let us trust that if someone from outside of science is able to offer an intelligible critique of science our students will be able to add that to their ongoing reflections on the nature of man and the world and in the process become better scientists (and/or philosophers) than their teachers. 
      Or do you assume that this is not something that is possible.  If so, it is because even you have assumed that the only voice critical of science is the voice of the Creationists who are not able to think outside of their dogmatic box.  I hope that isn’t the case.   There are other voices. 
       J. Warren Clark

  • Darsimaj

    Does this then mean that Evolution could be discussed side-by-side with Creationism in churches? I mean, fair is fair. Right?

    • Anonymous

      Darsimaj:  Don’t play stupid.  As long as there are questions, and there are many (at least for those who know how to ask them), there should be an open discussion.  A discussion that is not open is a controlled discussion and the moment you have that science goes out the window, eh?  Today the discussion is not open, not one bit.
      Yes, of course there are numbskulls and apes on the side of the Creationists.  But how many honest and objective gentlemen do you find on the side of the Scientific Naturalists?  The irony is that many scientists are walking proof that we have NOT evolved beyond the apes! 
      Do you want these apes put in charge of the curriculum?  Oh, I forgot, they already are in charge of the curriculum–and every year we get lower and lower on the evolutionary chain.  This is an educational fact Darsimaj.  J. Warren Clark 

  • Anonymous

     Actually, the first thing that occurs to me when reading of such odious steps backwards in education, is future hiring. I would not ever hire someone from these backgrounds, nor anyone lacking the social skills denied them by home schooling.

    • Anonymous

      I get it.  It used to be knowledge we sought in schools.  That has changed.  Now what we seek are “social skills.”  That’s what I keep saying; this is real progress. 
      I have a couple of questions though.  I thought the family was society in germ and that therefore social skills could be learned there.  I know I learned the basics there and my parents were people with an eighth grade education who left school in 1927.  I had to wait till I was in school to learn how to be terrorized by a bully.  But then who am I to complain; a person is probably not really balanced until they’ve experienced a school-yard bully or two.  That’s probably what “bart-ski-beat” means.  In fact that may be what the “beat”  in “bart-ski-beat” means.  Now it all makes sense.  Add to that the fact that he is a real progressive and then you see that he’s on to something.
      Or, perhaps Bart is himself a reformed bully with a sense of humor and uses his pseudonym as a sort of stab at honesty. 
      Or (call me a “nay-sayer,” if you mist but) he could be just another teacher who hides behind a pseudonym, is passionately committed to ‘openness’ of others, and whose primary aim is to preserve his job against all enemies foreign and domestic!  If so then a concern for the students has nothing to do with it!   

  • LG

    WHY…must the South continue to make our country look bad? Sigh…here we go again.

    • Anonymous

       LG:  Obviously you are from the North where (obviously) they also do not teach critical thinking skills.  Nor is science leading the charge to bring critical thinking into the school house!  Why?  Well, for one, they now control the store.  Do you think they want people asking them probing questions?  JWC

      • Russ Baker

        JWClark, who has vociferously posted throughout this comments stream (and attempted to take on all comers like a professional wrestler), does not say what HIS position is about the man upstairs creating everything–and his evidence in that regard, nor does he explain if he has any connections to organized religion, to Tennessee, climate change denial, the fossil fuels industry, etc. Would like to know!

        • Anonymous

           Mr. Baker:  I suppose it is difficult to get a line on where I am coming from because of the several things I am trying to communicate in this line three come to mind and none of these three is usually found in the so-called “evolution” debate. 
          One) the evolution/creation polemic is a false one and in most cases pits the extremes of both ends against the middle–and by the extreme of science I simply mean average scientists and average science teachers who have not themselves looked critically at the issue or the world around them, natural or political.  A scientist who doesn’t know that there are big political issues hinged to the discussion of evolution is bound to be a fool in the business of creating other fools!  On this issue I was glad to see your statement that there “is nothing wrong with studying ANY position ‘objectively.'”  And though I was unsure whether or not your use of ‘objectively’ wasn’t code language for the perspective of Scientific Naturalism, I was nevertheless glad to see it stated.  If more people would or could take that position the only discussion after that would be how to find people who could and would actually do it, i.e., discuss all positions objectively.  See my point?

          Tw0) there IS a middle position (which I am trying to bring forward) which in almost totally ignored, especially by scientists because to do so benefits them the most.  And the practitioner of that middle position knows that the human mind is dualisticly disposed (i.e., relative and finite) and therefore cannot even think about the issue without having at least two positions placed before the mind.  It follows from this that those who try to take the field by force of arms are bound to contradict themselves and fail to further the dialogue that properly speaking belongs to all of us.  And incidentally, while I understand your metaphor of the “professional wrestler,” if this is what you mean by that then you misrepresent me and what I am doing.  On the other hand, it is a virtue and not a vice to passionately defend your ground in an open debate, is it not?

          Three) the existence of the world is fundamentally a mystery.  We, meaning both philosophers and scientists, can play with what we can see an measure with the extensions of our own eyes, but we can never know the ultimate cause of things with the finite human mind.  It is because of the fact that scientists are not completely honest about this and do not admit at the outset that the “big bang theory,” for example, is a kind of creation story, and is only an attempt at a provisional explanation, that I bring in the language of ethics and suggest that some of their behavior is not the behavior of gentlemen (or ladies).  And while they are hard to find, the best scientists neither think nor speak this way.  Why?  Because they take science seriously and without complete honesty a scientific “objectivity” is simply a posture, a charade, and quite meaningless–and, insofar as the trust of (the paying) society is violated, has an entirely negative social value.  Indeed, beginning and end we cannot know why, as the philosophers say, “there is something rather than nothing,” and given this overarching fact the presumption of certainty and finality is a complete ruse on the part of either side.  The universe is a mystery and in my book that is why reading the cosmologists is more satisfying than reading the works of astrophysicists–they are still talking (openly) about the big questions (which any mind can think upon) without the foolish and dishonest presumption that they have an exclusive  inside track on any and all true understanding.  In the end, to say that the universe is created by a deity or by an inexplicable (it always remains inexplicable, eh?) big bang is simply to try to find language that satisfies the natural longing to understand the mystery of how and why we are here.  Therefore, to make any one explanation official is just “politics” and is neither science nor religion!  Both myth and theory mean “model” and it is because so few have any distance on their own model that there is so much rancor and so much unnecessary bloodshed.  Only god, if there is such an entity, can know absolutely.  And it is only when men act as if they themselves have such absolute knowledge that blood begins to flow like water.  Frankly, I am astonished that more people in science and religion do not see this.  I mean, how deep does the blood have to flow before someone says, “Gee; lets stop and think this thing through a bit more.”

          Lastly, let me suggest that “trade secrets” (secrecy) in science is as dangerous as secrecy in a government that is not a government at all if it is not open, i.e., “of the people, for the people, and by the people!”   And to see the results of such political secrecy one only has to read the papers.  Have you heard of the Patriot Act?  It is an attempt to circumvent the Constitution and they didn’t even read it before the vote!  This and other legislation has had immense ramifications both at home and abroad.  And science plays as big a role in this current nightmare as the Church did during the various inquisitions. 

          As for me, I am a teacher and, as is proper, have no affiliation beyond a commitment to the dialogue and where it leads.  Sadly, however, there are very few discussions that I am welcome to join.  But then what is new about that?  J. Warren Clark

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_DJ7TX4H6IZT4G74OJK32NNX3HI Hanna

            Brilliantly stated, and argued, JW. 

            The human ego will do almost anything to fix its position within the unknowable firmament, including suffering the most regrettable delusions of surety. 

          • BoLeeBee

            if you say it is…
            Although, theory doesn’t really mean “model” in science – maybe in specific mathematics disciplines.Science condemns having contact with menstruating women? Or maybe it is science forbidding homosexuality – although I think science finds it common in many other species? Actually, I don’t recall science forbidding anything; or advocating anything either. Was science advocating stoning adulterers and mindlessly overpopulating the planet? It seems “science” strictly is pointed at understanding natural phenomena – while religion is strictly pointed at directing behavior.Mystery – well, seems there is always a good bit of that, but how many of us are going to buy tickets on a “mystery” airline using prayers/positive thinking, and scriptural certitude if we see the ship is a school bus with helium-filled tires? I see what you are arguing but to say science is as equally culpable as “the Church” for our current “nightmare” is a bit too much.  Of these 2 evils I would pick science every time as at least it contains conditions of revision/correction – whereas the Church reverts to “the scripture says X” (ultimately meaning some powerful human “conduit to God” figured it this way) – therefore continue to destroy the planet that sustains you, or someone must die/be persecuted/suffer eternal damnation/because God loves you.. and this shitty old book, translated endlessly, says so.Science reveals we are destroying our planet by pollution, war, and unsafe energy solutions… and that we are prone to denial by convenience… so what will we decide to do?

            Right, buy another 3 ton SUV and hit the mall before the good shit is all gone!

    • Patrick Lilley

      Lets see, by messing with voter rights,they’ve taken us back to 1865, by cramming this creationism into the classroom, they’ve taken us back to 1925. But denying the global warming is new stuff. If parents weren’t so busy trying to make a living and raise their kids,they’d see that these state senators are corporate puppets for the Koch Brothers. They are huge polluters and they want their pipeline. They want this global warming stuff to go away. So they gave up on buying the White House and and are purchasing little state wimps. You just wait. They’ll get their pipeline, destroy the water table and FOX NEWS will still find a way to blame Obama. They have $32 million and most people agree that they are a bigger threat to democracy than Hitler ever was. Of you keep voting for Stafey Campfields and The Hill Brothers, your kids are going to die.

  • Dwight Lane5

    To all the evolution religion type people that hate other religions.  I set here time and again waiting for you to see what jw is saying without trying to make him look like a fool.  Don’t hate the messenger.
    You say that religion should prove  God exists.  I say, you should prove that he doesn’t. 
    FACT: It can’t be proven either way, which is why the discussion is so important for every ‘NEW’ human.  The mind must be expanded until it realizes we are vulnerable.  While we seek to understand, we may never know the spiritual side of reality while living in the physical.  Most of us ‘feel’ that there must be more, IE: the spiritual side.  It is this wonder that makes us human.  When that is lost we have regressed to a more animalistic state.   In this state we tend to lose our empathy and are more able to follow rules.  Rules on different paths such as population control.  Enforce those rules now because these animals (humans) are killing the earth. 
    I say seek liberty for all, and stop trying to corner the market on what you think you know, regardless of the religion you come from.  Neither side can prove it, and both sides have good arguments, which means both sides are probably right to some degree.  If both sides are right, both sides are wrong.
    Question:  Is it hard to believe that reality came from a source?
                        It is just as hard to believe that reality came from nothing.
    Really, we just popped up from nowhere?
    Really, we just popped up from another reality?
    Prove either one.
    It doesn’t matter what one ‘believes’, what matters is what is and what is possible.  Life is full of possibilities, and I choose the liberty to see what life holds, and not fall for the fallacy that either side is propagating.
    You people say in your ego mind that you are beyond religion while simultaneously getting sucked into another one.  Either way you are religious.
    I refuse to pick a side because none of you have the answers that you swear to have. 
    Stop this petty bickering that closes your mind off from another thought perception and realize that you are just as much vulnerable to reality as the other side is.  There are no conclusive answers, and everything is possible.
    LIBERTY (to be liberated)  is what you seek, not your belief, not your religion.  Freedom is the answer.  Embrace freedom, be free to exist in this reality with no strings, with no bias.  This is the truth that will make you free and different from the swine that picks a side and bickers over a belief.  You should know the truth and the truth will make you free.
    Live, laugh, love.
    FYI:  I was raised in A religious church.  I let it go because of all the rules.  It wasn’t freedom and it would not allow me to live the way I knew how to live in my SOUL.  Love others as you love yourself and enjoy this reality that is a gift.
    Now I find myself in a new world that is embracing a NEW religion that is diametrically opposed to the one I left behind.
    Not happening, I want freedom for me and freedom for every other conscript on this earth.  I am not a follower, and bow to no man.  This, if but for a short time, is my reality, my life.  I am entitled to that freedom of choice just as you are.  If you choose to stay in your religion, I would not condemn you for it.  But, before I go, consider this; what would life be like without all those restricting beliefs, and for a time you could just be ALIVE, and in no need of all the answers?

    Drop the ego fight people, Tennessee is moving forward, to freedom of thought.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_DJ7TX4H6IZT4G74OJK32NNX3HI Hanna

      My guess is that you haven’t a clue how lost and confused your ego’s ramblings here show you to be, but that’s OK, from such confusion (although honestly felt, which I’m guessing you haven’t…quite…yet) can come true expressions of faith, truly, “trembling” before the unknowable reality that informs everything, even your very conditional, very provisional “freedom.” :-)

      • Dwight Lane5

         Why the slam?  My rant wasn’t ego, so how do you perceive that?  Truthfully, yours appears to be a rant, so, please clarify you thoughts.  It is truly an unknowable reality,(you are right there) worthy of exploration WITHOUT stifling debate.  It doesn’t matter what side you are on.  The INDIVIDUAL must seek.  Not trying to slight you but, my thought must have went over your head.  Point out what is wrong so I may understand ‘YOUR’ universe.
        Let the dead bury the dead. 

      • Dwight Lane5

         Ohh Hanna, you misunderstood me.  I stand in awe of what we have in front of us.  I do believe in creation. Science is not God.  I just don’t like “religion” per say.  Too many rules.  This “provisional” freedom has allowed me to learn how to love and live with fewer boundaries than most.  With that said, in my heart I know who God is.  I just can’t get that on paper and that is OK.  I was talking about freedom of the mind. 
        YOU SAID “reality informs everything”. 
        Is reality God?  Doesn’t reality, creation, the created, become God if “it” informs everything?  Creation wasn’t meant to be worshipped or glorified.  Reality is a harsh place, and it is our job to subdue it.
        If reality informs, than reality becomes the creator!
        What is your position?

  • J. Warren Clark

    Strange that Bart-ski-beat has never responded to my comment.  I wonder if I was right and he is indeed that odd creature: a teacher using a pseudonym and calling for “openness” in public debate.  JWC  

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