Evolution and home-schooling redux

March 6, 2010 • 7:04 pm

For no particular reason I could fathom, I began receiving all kinds of religous loon-mail today, including denunciations of evolution, pictures of fireworks explosions resembling Jesus on the cross, and sundry laments for the fate of my soul, all by people who have somehow failed to apprehend the sophisticated theologies of Karen Armstrong and Terry Eagleton:

Dear Sir,

I am very upset with what you said within a recent article on yahoo. Sir, I’m going to tell you something that you need to hear. Sir, You are going to HELL. Because when GOD CREATED the Earth HE made everything perfect and in GOD’s perfect plan humans didn’t need to be evolved from monkeys. So there evolution is wrong. GO Read the bible it tells you the truth, see what GOD said about creation, not what some Man thought were we came from. Because I believe that WORD OF GOD is the truth and nothing else is.
Yours truly,
a GOD fearing Man
Aha, something in the press!  It turns out that writer Dylan Lovan of the Associated Press just published a nice piece on evolution and homeschooling.

You may remember, early in the history of this website, that a woman wrote me about the nearly complete absence of materials to help homeschooled children, like her daughter, learn evolution.  Or, rather, there are materials, but they’re all creationist pap, directed to that large segment of homeschooled kids who are being homechurched at the same time.

At Lovan’s request, Virginia Tech professor Duncan Porter and I reviewed two widely-used evolution units sold by religious homeschool outfits, Apologia and Bob Jones University Press (I’ve talked about Apologia before).

The materials were worthless, pretty much straight creationist garbage that didn’t even have the decency to pretend it was intelligent design.  Whatever these kids are learning from Apologia and Bob Jones, it isn’t biology.  Both Porter and I flunked these two modules.

Lovan writes about the Bob Jones effort:

The textbook publishers defend their books as well-rounded lessons on evolution and its shortcomings. One of the books doesn’t attempt to mask disdain for Darwin and evolutionary science.

“Those who do not believe that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God will find many points in this book puzzling,” says the introduction to “Biology: Third Edition” from Bob Jones University Press. “This book was not written for them.”

The textbook delivers a religious ultimatum to young readers and parents, warning in its “History of Life” chapter that a “Christian worldview … is the only correct view of reality; anyone who rejects it will not only fail to reach heaven but also fail to see the world as it truly is.”

When the AP asked about that passage, university spokesman Brian Scoles said the sentence made it into the book because of an editing error and will be removed from future editions.

Editing error?  More like their real motivations.

Distressed, I told Lovan that these books were “promulgating lies to schoolchildren.” Ergo my inundation with religious wackaloonery.  Expect more of it here because, unfortunately, Lovan also published the URL of this website.

393 thoughts on “Evolution and home-schooling redux

  1. …warning in its “History of Life” chapter that a “Christian worldview … is the only correct view of reality; anyone who rejects it will not only fail to reach heaven but also fail to see the world as it truly is.”

    Extortion, a priori fear, inculcated mendacities, and disorganized attachment. Let’s do it for the children : )

  2. That guy was pretty damned certain of your damnation. His view of his god makes lex talionis, Rev Malthus’ principles and survival of the fittest look positively charitable by comparison.

  3. Its funny how when we at home teach our children about God we’re crazy people indoctrinating our helpless kids, but if we send them to the public school systems where everything is right besides morals, and God, and accountability, then that’s okay. Look at the stats on test scores, all over america home schooled children achieve far higher results. I respect your right to your belief in evolution, but if it is true then tell me this please: What came first the heart, the vessels, or the blood? If the heart-why? There was no blood to pump or vessels to carry the blood. And if the vessels- why? There was no blood, or a heart to pump the blood. And if the blood- why? There was not yet vessels to carry the blood or a heart to pump it to where it was needed. If Darwin knew about the complexity of D.N.A. do you really think he would have believed in evolution?

    1. Phil m,

      You just broke my disingenuous-meter! If the evolution of blood and blood vessels and the heart are explained to you, will you STFU?

      1. Do it! This person has some nerve to visit a site dealing with the evidence for evolution without knowing thing one about evolution.

        And if we evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkeys? Do you think Darwin would have believed in evolution if he realized THAT?

      2. I believe you are being disingenuous. Can any of you not see that many people find it rather difficult to believe we evolved from apes over millions of years ago and everything else about evolution, when most of our own oceans are vastly understood and discovered. Creatures exist today in the deepest parts of the ocean that remain unknown. How can we say we understand something that happened millions or billions of years ago when no human being lived, and yet we can’t even discover an ocean that covers 70% of the earths surface today!!! Mindblogging isn’t it?

        1. Obviously, Lena, you are one of the uneducated ones. We did not evolve from apes. We ARE apes. The rest of your statements are wrong. There are thousands upon thousands of pieces of evidence for evolution and not one piece of evidence for ID or creationism.

          Also Lena, go to a dictionary and look up the word discover so you can understand how to use it correctly.

          1. You sir may be an ape, but DNA suggest I am not!

            Discover: something requiring exploration and investigation. As in: We have yet to discover the ocean fully and completely.

            Would you offer me the Top 10 PROOFS of evolution,including proof you are an ape, (other than your crude communication skills). Thank you

          2. Please define what you mean by proof first. I think you may not understand science, so I’m just checking.

          3. It would be nice if we could talk without yelling at each other. Lena, the fact that you post to this site indicates that you want to discuss truth versus fiction. Please read Jerry’s book, which describes and discusses the evidence, and then come back with which parts you want to challenge. Otherwise, we go around in circles.

          4. OK…I’ll take the bait.
            3.Fossils (That includes coal, oil and gas, which you hypocritically use while denying the science behind the exploration)
            4.Nuclear DNA
            5.Extra-nuclear DNA (mitochondria, chloroplasts)
            6.Biochemistry-shared molecular structures and metabolic pathways
            7.Geographical distribution
            8.Co-evolution (different species changing in tandem)
            9.Evidence from domestication of animals and plants
            10.Vestigial organs

            PS: I am sure the earth you walk is the center of the universe, even though the earth Copernicus walked may not have been.

          5. “1.Anatomy

            To insightful ape, how does anatomy make evolution true? Or embryology? Can you please elaborate?

            Anatomy reveals how complex the body parts and functions are, right? Can evolution describe how that came to be? Is it through a series of accidents that complex organisms evolved from unicellular organisms?

            From a high level perspective, it doesn’t make sense. It’s like saying that a piece of shit on the grass over time will evolve into a complex fully operating movie theater due to a series of accidents.

            If at all, anatomy, embryology, and the complexity of life disproves evolution.

          6. Francesca, come back after you read “Why Evolution Is True”. You need to educate yourself. This is not a high school to teach you basic knowledge. Your statement embarrass you due to your ignorance.

          7. “You sir may be an ape, but DNA suggest I am not!”

            The human genome is remarkably similar to the genomes of other primates, especially the chimpanzee. So your statement is just blatantly wrong. We are categorized with primates because of the similarities we share with them. It is a way of classifying humans as we classify all other species.

            I also want to point out something else about the concept of evolution: Evolution is not simply a man writing a book with the one sentence I hear people say over and over again, “Humans evolved from monkeys”. The theory of evolution is the most widely accepted in the scientific community right now because of the evidence we have to back it up right now. One of those pieces of evidence is microevolution. Microevolution is an observable, documented occurence in which changes in allele frequencies (thus changes in characteristics) of a population of animals takes place over a few generations. This has led to enough changes in some species over time that a new species has developed from the old. This is the concept of speciation, or macroevolution, and it has been documented as well. The only thing we are missing is the ability to go back in time and observe it happening over the past million years, but if we can observe it happening now and continuing to happen, it is logical to believe it has been happening for quite some time now.

            I might also point out that I am not an atheist, I do indeed believe in both God and evolution. I make no effort to push my faith onto other people, and you can believe what you want to as well, but trying to stop educators from teaching children the facts because they don’t fit in with your religion is indoctrination.

          8. To insightful ape, how does anatomy make evolution true? Or embryology? Can you please elaborate?

            The issue is the similarity of organisms across wide ranges. The same basic anatomical structure that makes our hands make a cat’s feet, a whale’s flippers, and both bird and bat wings (which are completely different from each other). Evolution can explain this: they all evolved from a single structure that became specialized for certain tasks. Creationism cannot explain this.

            Similarly, evolution can explain weird features of organisms. It can explain why our retinas are installed backwards, why a giraffe’s nerve goes all the way from it head, loops around its heart (where it does not make any connections) and then goes all the way back up to the near the top of the neck, a journey of several yards.

            Evolution can explain why humans fetuses go through a period where they are covered with fur, or why the same embryonic structures that make our feet make a fish’s fins.

            Anatomy reveals how complex the body parts and functions are, right?

            It also reveals how illogical, poorly-designed, and flawed the body parts and functions are.

            Can evolution describe how that came to be?

            Yes, easily.

            Is it through a series of accidents that complex organisms evolved from unicellular organisms?

            It is through a combination of accidents and evolution taking advantage of those accidents. Did you know that many of the proteins used by our bodies in cell-to-cell signaling and cell adhesion are also used in single-celled organisms? Did you know that the light-sensitive pathway in the human eye is just a slight variation on standard chemical signaling pathway used in all organisms in the planet, and that the light sensitive pathway itself is found in pretty much every group of organisms? Did you know the actually light-sensitive protein from bacteria was transplanted into non-light-sensitive cells in the rat retina and that those cells became light sensitive?

            From a high level perspective, it doesn’t make sense.

            That fact that you do not understand evolution does not make evolution wrong, it makes you ignorant.

            It’s like saying that a piece of shit on the grass over time will evolve into a complex fully operating movie theater due to a series of accidents.

            No, it is absolutely nothing like saying that. First, neither shit nor movie theaters breed. Second, evolution involves populations changing, not individuals. Third, it is not just accidents, it is accidents that are then spread through a population because they make members of that population more likely to pass on their genes.

            If at all, anatomy, embryology, and the complexity of life disproves evolution.

            No, they only disprove your strawman view of evolution that bears no resemblance to what scientists actually think

          9. Can any creotards understand why intelligent people have problems with the inane idea that an invisible guy poofed people into existence 6000 years ago but made it look as if they evolved from a common ancestor with apes including a chromosome fusion!!??

            Can any creotard understand that humans make up explanations for things they don’t understand until science comes along with REAL answers and, so naturally, scientists assume all magical miracle stories are likely to be such explanations?

            Can any creotard understand that their magic story sounds as silly to non-superstitious people as all the other myths and legends they don’t believe in? And for the SAME REASONS!

            Yeah, science is hard, but most people like understanding that the sun isn’t really pulled across the sky by gods in chariots… in fact, it only appears to move across the sky because we live on a planet that rotates towards it. Most people are glad to understand that germs cause disease– not demons or the wrong planetary alignment.

            Science gives us knowledge that is true no matter what you believe. Religions never have. It makes people FEEL like they are “in on the secrets of the universe” while they are as clueless as the primitives they feel superior too. They imagine themselves humble when they have the arrogance that can only come from one who believes he communicates with the divine invisible undetectable creator of the universe!

          10. @Lena

            I don’t have a ‘Top 10’ list, but here is some of the evidence that I find the most convincing.

            1. Vestigial Organs in different species give very strong evidence for evolution, and are not explained by any other theory as far as I am aware. Basically, vestigial organs are parts of animals that no longer perform their original function. My favorite example from Dr. Coyne’s book is tiny pelvic and hind limb bones that are often found inside the bodies of whales (Why Evolution Is True, page 60). If Evolution were NOT true, I don’t see why those useless limbs would be inside their bodies. We don’t find vestigial pelvic bones in fish, even though they also live in the water. The only reasonable explanation is that whales evolved from land mammals.

            2. I also find transitional fossils convincing, especially transitional whale fossils. These fossils are found at the right levels in the fossil record. If evolution were not true, we would not find all the transitional fossils we have at all the right places.

            3. Genetic Evidence, especially dead genes (Why Evolution Is True, page 66). Many animals have genes that their ancestors once used, but are now inactive. There are many good examples out there, but I find dead OR genes in whales the most impressive. Why should animals have genes they never use? Even if they do, why would an intelligent creator give whales dead OR genes that only land mammals can use, but not also give them to fish? Does the creator want to trick us that evolution happened?

            4. Biogeographic evidence. Creationism and Darwinian evolution make different predictions as to the biological diversity of remote islands. The patterns we find are the ones predicted by Darwinian evolution (see Why Evolution Is True, chapter 4).

            I think Why Evolution Is True is probably the best summary of the evidence for Evolution out there for a beginner because it is written so clearly, but a more advanced source I found very convincing was “29+ Evidences For Macroevolution: The Scientific Case For Common Descent” by Douglas Theobold (http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/). This article shows how evolution is a testable scientific theory that makes predictions.

            I hope you read Dr. Coyne’s book. I bet you would find it very interesting.

          11. Sorry Lena, You apparently do not understand DNA. Or the definition of ape. You speak from ignorance.

            1 a : to make known or visible : expose b archaic : display
            2 a : to obtain sight or knowledge of for the first time : find.

            Sorry Lena, by these definitions the oceans have been discovered long ago. Your communication skills are extremely poor.

            Lena, you want proof of evolution? Go read “Why Evolution Is True” by Jerry Coyne. Or hundreds of other books on evolution. You have read non-fiction books before, haven’t you? As Jerry said before: “the evidence [is] from fossils, biogeography, molecular biology, embryology, morphology, and geology”.

          12. There are many definitions for “discover”, you just chose one that suited your insult. Anyway, by proof,I mean evidence….whatever you want to offer up. It should be easy considering the abundance of evidence. Give me the best….top 10!

          13. Cool. I just want to make sure so that latter proof doesn’t slip from evidence to another form of proof like one encounters in mathematics or logic such as a deductive proof.

            This is just off the top of my head but I’d say that evidence supporting evolution in no specific order includes (but is in now way limited to) morphological, geneological, fossil facts about living entities. There’s also philosophical reasons such as parsimony, best explanation given the evidence, etc.

          14. My studies of evolution at the college level have revealed tremendous shortfallings. The likelihood of a bat developing large ears, an ability to send out a “sonar” signal, and a brain that can understand what a returning signal means, simultaneously, is infinitely impossible. According to Darwin, if an bat develops the ability to send out a high frequency sonar signal and cannot hear it or immediatly process it, by definition,is an unsuccessful adaptation and should be immediately “bred out” as unsuccessful. There are hundreds of examples which completely contradict darwin and take a tremendous amount of ……well……faith. It’s beginning to sound like a religion and not science…kind of like the anthropogenic global warming….now proven as a farce due to massive junk science and deceit.

          15. Lena, noting that you have poor communications skills isn’t an insult, it is a statement of verifiable fact. Get of your (tremendously high and arrogant) horse and engage the science.

            The best you and Phil can do is to study up first, because from what we can see so far is that you haven’t the faintest idea what science is and scientists do. And that makes a discussion rather pointless, I’m afraid. What could we discuss, if you don’t know what a fact is?

          16. Logic, have you ever heard of “garbage in garbage out”? If you start with flawed assumptions, you will draw flawed conclusions.

            The problem in your argument is that bats did not need to evolve all that simultaneously. Lots of mammals have very high-frequency ears, because there are a lot of biologically-relevant high-frequency sounds.

            Further, for an animal that already specializes in high-frequency hearing, of course their communication calls would also adapt to be in that frequency. Rats are actually pretty noisy, but because their best frequency ranges as much higher than our most of their communications are at a much higher frequency than we can hear.

            Further, bats would not have need to evolve their modern advanced sonar system right off the bat. The ability to detect simple sonar signals is not that hard to come by. Humans can do it as well, listening for echoes is common with deaf people, and people can be easily trained to pick up more complex structures using high-frequency sound that has its frequency reduced to the human range.

            So all the pieces are already there for a basic sonar system: high-frequency hearing, high-frequency communication, and the ability to notice simple echoes.

            All that is needed is for the bats to live an environment where listening for echoes is the best way to navigate. Say, dark caves with hard walls that readily reflect the sounds they already make for communication. Bats would naturally pick up and learn to avoid or move towards certain simple echoes. Once that happens, then evolution takes over, more advanced and more specialized echolocation becomes advantageous and over many generations we end up with the advanced echolocation system we see today.

          17. Further, bats would not have need to evolve their modern advanced sonar system right off the bat.

            Cute. Intentional?

        2. Let’s see, if I understand you correctly you’re saying that because we do not know everything then we can’t know anything? If so, how do you know you’re alive? After all there might be unknown cephalapods in the Marianis trench right now just waiting for a human to know them (in the Biblical sense if that human is PZ Myers).

          Perhaps you’re saying if we don’t know everything about what exists now, then we can’t know everything about the past. Guess that means all Christians will have to give up any claim of knowledge about Jesus, Prophets or the afterlife as we have no way of knowing anything about the past as there might be a forlorn fish in the Atlantic depths just waiting to be known.

          Mindboggling isn’t it.

          I think my brain just fell out.

          1. then we can’t know everything about the past. that of course was meant to be ‘can’t know anything about the past’. Useless Simean fingers.

          2. Brian,
            No,I did not say if we do not know everything,we can’t know anything…that’s just silly.

            There is an abundance of documentation of human beings giving their accounts of historical events, including the bible.
            It is regarded by many as a historical record of events and much of it is corroborated in other historical literature. These were eye witness accounts,human beings lived and made a record of events for our purpose and use today.

          3. Lena, there really isn’t an abundance of documentation about the resurection or miracles. So while some parts of the Bible are historically accurate, i.e. Israel, Jerusalem, famous people. The parts that matter, i.e. resurrection are not corroborated at all. Now, compare that to evolution which is not only corroborated by and consilient with many arms of science but makes successful predictions that it could have failed. I can easily reject the Bible and be reasonable, not evolution.

          4. Sorry Lena, none of those statements are true. There is no record of Jesus during his lifetime. Nothing until 60 years later. No eye witnesses and the learned scribes of the time who wrote about everything else wrote nothing about it.

            The bible is myth and fairy tales. It has been proven wrong over and over again. Read biblical scholar Bart Ehrman’s book “Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why”. to see how most of the new testament is proven false.

            You need to stop making things up Lena, you look so foolish with no evidence.

          5. What you don’t understand about the resurrection is that there were over 400 witnesses, documented by history. It has been thoroughly proven historically, as much as the reign of Alexander the Great. Other religions (Islam, Judaism), all provide historical evidence to the facts. But the bottom line is that there is a very high level of deceit present concerning evolution. As a geologist, I have examined cores from arond the world, recovered dinousar skeletons, and personally witnessed geological sequences from sedimentary basins to 40,000 feet. Evolution is not only not proven, but scientifically impossible based upon my 30 years of field observations. But my studies of the Bible have been fulfilling and have enabled me to believe in a loving creator. And I truly beleive that a Godly creation is the only possibility of what we see around us…otherwise, cmon…..chance????? Really???? On a several trillion times improbability?? (evolution). I’d rather put my faith in truth.

          6. Logic, stop wasting our time with nonsense that you fabricate. Religious biblical scholars have shown what you say is not true.

          7. What a waste of time. Lena you will never see the truth even if it would bite you in the behind. Throwing around the idea you went to college and using out of context 10 dollar words does not make you intelligent

    2. Phil m, I hate to break it to you, but the jury is out on the claim that homeschooling produces higher test scores. Results from comparisons are often mixed or inconclusive because the comparison is often made between voluntary homeschool testing vs. mandatory public school testing. So there’s some selection bias there. In the studies in which homeschoolers did outscore, most of the reason is the individualized instruction they get. If the average public school child had one-on-one instruction with a teacher all day, their scores would go up, too. It has nothing to do with the supposed superiority of any belief system or curriculum.

      I came here from the linked yahoo article, as well. So hopefully you’ll get a lot of positive comments, too, Jerry.

      1. My homeschooler is a National Merit Scholar on a full ride to a private university…That’s good enough for me.

        1. Hopefully he/she will be able to understand what you did not – assuming he/she is studying science :/

        2. @”Logic” (wow, the irony . . .)

          My comment was in reference to aggregate statistics, not specific cases. I’m happy for your homeschooler, but one case doesn’t prove a general argument.

          In fact, you help me prove my point about why these claims that homeschoolers do better are specious. If the bright home schooled students throughout a state CHOOSE to take a standardized test and these scores are compared to every public school student who is FORCED to take the same test, then of course the self-selected sample will do better. Again, the only advantage to home-schooling is the one-on-one attention, but not any inherent superiority of the belief system. And the one-on-one instruction can be a hindrance if the parent/teacher is an idiot. But those are the students we never hear from, because they’re less likely to take the standardized tests.

          Source: Katherine Pfleger. School’s out The New Republic. Washington: April 6, 1998. 218(14):11-12.

        3. My child attends public school, is a National Merit Scholar Finalist and is getting multiple free ride offers. Maybe our kids can explain the danger of using anecdotal evidence of sample size of one to make sweeping generalizations.

        4. I went to the university after I was home schooled in a fundamentalist christian home as well. I don’t credit my success to homeschooling, my parents, or the curriculum that they used. Some of it was aptitude, but a most of it was personal motivation – none of it was parental teaching. My life, my thoughts, and my current trajectory in life are all mine alone. I own them!! My guess is that your homeschooler owns his or her success as well. You may have inadvertently armed your kid with the firepower that will eventually be the demise of his or her faith. Having never been satisfied with a simple grade, your kid had to go out and pick up material and learn it on his or her own to get that full ride scholarship. I would tell you what a great job you did, but I KNOW it’s your kid that did it all!!

    3. Phil m , March 6, 2010 at 7:30 pm:

      What came first the heart, the vessels, or the blood? If the heart-why?

      For very small creatures, with high surface-are to volume ratios, diffusion is quite capable of carrying wastes out of the body and oxygen into the body. Such animals do not need a heart. These sorts of animals evolved before larger animals (which do need hearts). A heart is not a requirement for blood. But although these very simple animals do not strictly require hearts, some of them can benefit from a very simple tube heart. Thus, when a tube heart evolves in these animals, those with a tube heart will in some cases out reproduce those without, leading to more animals without tube hearts. In turn, a tube heart enables larger size. (Most invertebrates, inlcuding insects, worms, and crustaceans, have simple tube hearts. Cephalopods are the only invertebrates I know of which have more complicated hearts.) The blood, more or less, came first, but by and large, blood, heart, and blood vessels all evolved together.
      Evolution is quite capable of explaining complex organ system.
      Please do some reading on the circulatory system.
      Arguing that either the heart or the blood must have come first is like arguing that the eye is too complex to have evolved.

      1. llewelly , March 6, 2010 at 9:20 pm:

        …leading to more animals without tube hearts.

        I intended: “… leading to more animals with tube hearts.”

    4. ————–
      “Its funny how when we at home teach our children about God we’re crazy people indoctrinating our helpless kids,”

      With all do respect, sir, there’s a difference between teaching your children about your God and subjecting your kid to the emotional blackmail that is in that Bob Jones U. book. Telling a child that they must believe in something or burn for eternity is abusive, in my opinion.

      “but if we send them to the public school systems where everything is right besides morals, and God, and accountability, then that’s okay.”

      Public schools are secular, meaning they cannot criticize a particular religious or moral creed. You don’t have your facts straight.

      “What came first the heart, the vessels, or the blood? If the heart-why? There was no blood to pump or vessels to carry the blood. And if the vessels- why? There was no blood, or a heart to pump the blood. And if the blood- why? There was not yet vessels to carry the blood or a heart to pump it to where it was needed.”
      Maybe if you had a better biology book you would understand that both a heart and blood vessels are entirely unnecessary for a working circulatory system. Arthropods (that’s “bugs” in creationist terminology) have an open circulatory system with a heart but no blood vessels. Flatworms don’t even have a circulatory system, and rely solely on diffusion. Circulatory systems are far from irreducibly complex and are easily explained through coevolution.

      “If Darwin knew about the complexity of D.N.A. do you really think he would have believed in evolution?”
      DNA supports evolutionary theory. Not only does it provide the non-mixing heredity that is required for natural selection to work, but the phylogenies (patterns of relationship) we see when we compare the genomes of different organisms are entirely in concordance with other, independently determined phylogenies. All of these phylogenies demonstrate a certain pattern known as a twin nested hierarchy, which is another essential prediction of evolutionary theory.

    5. You’re not “home teaching” your children, you’re isolating them from the wider and wiser world of professional education standards (not to mention social interaction with their peers) so that you can brainwash them with Bronze Age myths.

      You should be ashamed. Failing that, you should be prosecuted for gross child abuse.

    6. Phil, it is precisely that sort of “chicken-and-egg” situation (aka “paradox) that gives the strongest predictions to test evolution on. Darwin himself realized that ~ date 1850, and Nobel laureate Muller made the precise definition of “interlocking complexity” ~ date 1920.

      [Which biology term is nowadays hijacked and misquoted as “irreducible complexity” by creationists.]

      It is the interlocking complexity of chicken and egg that resolves in the general prediction of evolution itself, from the definition: the process of hereditary change in populations over time.

      Or in other words, species change and species before birds uses other forms of egg until you arrive at the population where a germ line of cells made a switch over from asexual to sexual reproduction. Asexual reproduction is when cells does a little of both reproduction and growth, instead of specializing.

      And that test of evolution it passed with flying colors, while for example creationism failed miserably. Creationists predict that species are static and unrelated, both of which are observably false.

      In the same manner it is the interlocking complexity of protein and DNA (DNA makes protein and protein makes DNA) that is resolved by the prediction of the earlier RNA world, where one chemical does the functions of both.

      And that test of evolution it passed with flying colors, while for example creationism failed miserably. The ribosome RNA ribozyme in the innards of the ribosome is putting the protein together from messenger RNA genetic material. Creationists predict that no such system would exist to make evolution pass the test, again an observably false claim.

      Now as to the interlocking complexity of organ systems such as blood vessels and hearts, they result from a very similar prediction from evolution which analogy by know should be familiar: organ systems in earlier species where less interlocked and did a little of both.

      Those where called “tube hearts”, for all purposes blood vessels that worked as hearths. I believe you can find them in worms – which we are after all. They remind of when nervous systems evolved a brain to arrive at the interlocking complexity of nerves and brains.

    7. It should also be noted that despite the fact that evolution doesn’t cover pro- and protobiotic systems (as “heredity” and “population” are less rigidly defined), selection and interlocking complexity are processes respectively outcomes that can be predicted to work under such circumstances.

      In fact, the new theory of the “Zn world” uses interlocking complexity of enzymes and metabolism (enzyme is today needed for metabolism, and metabolism produces enzymes) as a test of its prediction of ZnS photometabolites (formic acid from our primordial dense atmosphere CO2) as the first pro- to protobiotic process, in some small manner channeling metabolism without enzymes.

      That is a testable and successfully tested theory that seems fruitful, and also leads directly up to the previously tested RNA world. In which case it is “interlocking complexity”, aka known as (the outcome of) selection, all the way.

      If Darwin knew about the complexity of D.N.A. do you really think he would have believed in evolution?

      First, you can’t believe in science and its facts, you can only accept them which immediately invalidate any belief in the matter. Or not, as the case may be, but then you are purposely shying away from reality.

      Second, it is more correct to claim that Darwin proposed evolution despite that he didn’t know about the simplicity of DNA. His own proposed hereditary mechanism fails in test precisely because it predicts that traits are inherited in a continuous manner in a complex growth and blending process, instead of the simple discrete manner of duplication and gene crossing in chromosomes that we actually can observe.

      In the later case the role of DNA is both mechanistically and genetically simple. The populations genome learns about the environment by way of selection. In effect, it is the subject of “trial-and-error” (negative fitness) or “trial-and-success” (positive fitness) tests in the process of differential reproduction.

      The information is channeled as Shannon information into the genome, and the knowledge that is messaged is in the form of recipes for gene products and so traits. The genome is a “cook book” for the populations individuals on what traits that works in the current (and to a lesser degree former) environment.

      1. “…you can’t believe in science and its facts, you can only accept them which immediately invalidate any belief in the matter. Or not, as the case may be, but then you are purposely shying away from reality.”

        Let me say here parenthetically that to believe in something is to have confidence in its truth or in its verifiability.

        Therefore, a person can and should believe in science and its facts. What a person knows to be true a person also believes. Knowledge and belief, from this perspective, necessarily go hand in hand.

    8. It is nice to see people making claims about their credentials no one can confirm. Like “logic” being a geologist. Someone who thinks evolution means “chance”. What a joke.
      For my fellow skeptics: it will be interesting to visit the mosque across the globe (or the street) and listen to an imam speaking about the absolute certainty of the truth of islam and miracle of prophet mohammad, just as “logic” seems to be shocked that we here are not buying the story of resurrection.
      Logic, you guys can’t both be right. But you can both be wrong.

  4. For no reason you can imagine! LOL! You are my hero, Jerry, but you’ve painted a target on your butt that every creationist in the country wants to kick.

  5. So the bible was written by god,or his representaves ? WOW!! Do the old or new testament versions both represent God’s
    views? If so why do they differ so much?
    Guess people at that stage of imperfect revelation spoke to God? But which God?
    Why were so many chapters omitted? Did they differ so much? AND a talking snake?
    who witnessed that?

    1. Yes, the Bible was inspired by God. And yes, the WHOLE Bible represents God’s view. The reason they differ so much is because the people of the Old Testament did not have a way to have their sins forgiven. They had to offer God blood sacrifices of animals in order to cover their sins. In the New Testament, Jesus, God’s son, came down to earth to die for our sins. His blood was shed so that all of mankind could be forgiven if we only ask for it.
      Chapters were not omitted. God just chose not to tell us everything.
      Everyone keeps saying that Bob Jones textbooks (and others) do nothing but show the flaws in evolution. The reason behind this is because evolution keeps changing. God’s Word does not change. Show me the flaws of a Christian world view.

          1. Like I said. Nothing whatsoever but myths and fairy tales (not even good ones – Harry Potter is better literature).

          2. Oh really? So you believe that rabbits chew their cud, that insects have four legs, that the world is flat (the Bible does explicitly state that), that woman should not teach or hold leadership positions, that you can drink poison without harm? Or are those just metaphors? How do you decide which parts of the bible are true and which aren’t?

      1. The flaws of any religious world view is that it doesn’t change. To learn about the environment we have to change.

        Btw, to say that a religious text was “inspired” means to confess that it was written by men, not magically appearing.

        Please provide disagreeing claims in a disagreeing comment, instead of shoring up the original comment claims.

        And why would the trust those men any more than we trust todays? In fact we must trust them less, because their texts are as noted above unchanging so observably uninformed of, and on, reality.

        1. Except it was written 3500 years ago and then changed 2000 years ago and then changed again 800 years ago.

          And that is just the bible for the major Abrahamic religions.

          Count the 1800 different Christian sects, several Jewish ones and a dozen more Islamic ones and you have all these noodle heads claiming their word is the one true word.

          Do you see how stupid you look JesusFreak? We are laughing at your ignorance, gullibility and lack of reason and common sense.

          Go proselytize to a donkey somewhere and leave us grown ups alone.

        1. Religion means “a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices.” Evolution is just as much a religion as Christianity is. So you just denounced yourself.

          1. Wrong again, as always, JesusFreak.

            Mind games and faith are the delusions of the religious and can not compare to the evidence and testing and refinement of science which knows how to say it is wrong on occasion and move on, as compared to the brain dead faith of theists who continue to believe is silly myths.

            There is no religion in evolution because there is no faith or belief in anything but evidence and the search for answers wherever they lead.

          2. Evolution has no practices or attitudes, so it fails your own definition. And the “beliefs” of evolution are conclusions drawn from evidence, not faith based on wishful thinking and the myths of cattle-sacrificing bronze-age nomads.

      2. JesusFreak, a quick question. Who is the father of Joseph? Is it Jacob, as Matthew 1:16 says or is it Heli, from Luke 3:23?

  6. … a “Christian worldview… is the only correct view of reality; anyone who rejects it will not only fail to reach heaven but also fail to see the world as it truly is.”

    I actually just threw up a little.

  7. Hang in there the crazy letters and e-mails should taper off in a few days. I just read the article and followed the link here myself. I am glad to see that this topic is getting more exposure what these people are doing to there kids and this country with there nonsense is just plane criminal. The truly scary part is how many of these people serve on school boards and in public office even at the national level. Thanks for calling these wing nuts out we cant let them win the stakes are just to high.

    1. Oh, the homeschoolers have only just begun to send Jerry emails. He most likely will have to delete this thread due to an overwhelming influx of response I’m sure.

  8. Great! Now we get to see a gaggle of Creationists pile into this thread bring up the same tired old misinformed arguments. If only someone would write a book they could read about the evidence in favor of evolution…

  9. They get dumber and dumberer. Once again ignorant fundagelicals and they are proud of their ignorance.

  10. Correct me if I’m wrong…..
    Aren’t we still free in this country? Why do any of you atheist have a problem with families who choose something other than what is offered in schools today? We do not seem to have a great track record in public schools where kids are taught your theories of evolution. Many of those kids are troubled and drop out, whereas most of those homeschooled are law abiding and productive members of society. The arguments over Darwin’s theory of evolution have failed to explain many things, and little has been given as proof of this theory. Homeschoolers pay taxes to these institutions of public education, and most are not trying to change the schools to suit their beliefs….. so where is the problem? Faith is required to believe in God, and whether you like to admit it or not…faith is also required to believe all that science touts as fact. Touche!

    1. “Little has been given as proof of this theory?” Do you know what site you’re visiting? Usually this kind of ignorance is grounds for banning, but you get a reprieve if you manage to explain why all the evidence from fossils, biogeography, molecular biology, embryology, morphology, and geology amounts to “little” evidence.

      Waiting . . .

      1. If evolution is how all life came to be, it should be easily seen and understood today. Adaptations are hardly the same as one species evolving into another species.
        How did life begin in your mind?

        1. Lena, seriously. Stop talking, and do some reading. You are so desperately uninformed you can’t even pose a question worth asking. Sorry, but that’s the harsh truth. You don’t even understand the theory that you think you’re criticizing.

          1. Hey, from what Lena has exposed so far of her academic standing, that is like asking a brick.
            Of which it can truly be said they are better conversationalists than any fundie.

        2. Lena, from your previous comments you appear to accept the existence of DNA so what do you think it does ?

        3. How did life begin in your mind?

          I didn’t see this addressed elsewhere so FWIW:

          This really shows that you need to study science and especially biology. A scientific theory can only apply where it makes predictions to check against observations. Evolution as a theory does not predict how life came to be.

          More precisely, you can define evolution as “the process of hereditary change in populations over generations”. So you need a well defined mechanism of heredity, of populations and of generations, all of which means that evolution applies from the first cell onwards.

          So evolution is the process of life. Thus, in a lesser sense it explains life as in speciation.

          What you are asking for is the domain of pro- and protobiotic systems, which is called abiogenesis. There are to date many testable and to some degree tested theories there, but as of yet no sole standard theory as in evolution.

          Most of those theories predict that the mechanism of selection is shared with evolution. But heredity, populations and generations differ as soon as you get back before the first cells.

          To get back to you question, as it isn’t a prediction of evolution it is no concern or problem for it. That populations and cells exist is observably true (and so are the predictions of evolution), so the process can be observed.

          To ask how life began when you are studying evolution is analogous to ask how matter was created when you are studying gravitation – it doesn’t, ehm, matter. Gravitation and its theory of general relativity exists, and can be observed and tested, anyway.

          OTOH I can see that the question is a problem for the religious mind. It assumes, for no good reason, that life was created. We know for a fact that life evolves in a continuous manner, and we suspect for good reasons (see above) that selection is a continuous process that applies all along. To predict a discontinuity, creation, is an extra-ordinary proposition and needs extra-ordinary evidence.

          Instead there is no evidence for creation anywhere. Not anywhere!

          That must be driving creationist minds crazy. If they weren’t already crazy for choosing the least likely explanation for, anything really, in the same manner as those related conspirationist believers do.

      2. If evolution is how all life came to be, it should be easily seen and understood today.

        It is easily seen and understood. Go read a book on it and learn.

        Adaptations are hardly the same as one species evolving into another species.

        Adaptations add up to major changes. Lena: add 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1….a few billion times. Is that number a big change? Is that too difficult for you to understand?

        1. Thank you Shooter…
          He would only be banning me though, as there aren’t many others who are not supportive of Jerry on this thread. Jerry, I do not feel threatened by your beliefs, nor am I interested in changing them. I think all of you should just give others the same consideration. Thank you!
          Now that would be evolution!!

          1. Lena, really? You don’t believe that you know the truth and that as a Christian it is your duty to spread this truth? Also, you really don’t feel that teaching evolution threatens the truth that you are duty bound to spread?

          2. Just further to my last comment. If I think someone is telling a falsehood, lying to children I feel it is my duty to counter that falsehood. If I can’t change a persons mind, I at least try to challenge the view in the public sphere. I find it hard to accept that you don’t try to counter beliefs that you feel are false. In fact your presence here suggest the opposite.

          3. I do believe I know the truth, but it isn’t my duty to spread it to those who don’t believe or care. Teaching evolution can’t threaten truth, truth is absolute.

          4. I think the threading has gone to the dogs so this might not appear in the right location.

            Lena, why are you here then. Is it becaue you came here thinking that we cared to know the truth and so you were happy to spread the truth but now don’t think we care so you don’t care to spread it?

            Can I ask if you teach your children (assuming you teach them) evolution? I mean evolution as understood by scientists not a charicature that is often offered by religious people who haven’t bothered to learn the theory but receive it from others who likewise haven’t bothered? If evolution cannot handle the truth surely you’d have no objection to teaching it to your children in an honest fashion as it could do them no harm and forearm them when they meet people who believe evolution is the best explanation we have regarding the variety of life we observe in the world.

          5. Those two paragraphs are awful. Not only spelling, but grammar and gibberish. Apologies again.

      3. Lena, there’s an excellent passage in, I believe Richard Dawkins’s The Greatest Show on Earth. Imagine two creatures — let’s say myself and my adviser’s cat, Grace. Put my picture on the west end of a long hallway, and put Grace’s picture on the east end. To the direct east of my picture, put a photo of my mother, then next to that put my maternal grandmother and so on… and on the far end, next to Grace’s picture, put a picture of her dam, her dam’s dam and so on. Evolutionary theory says that somewhere in the hall there’s a photo of a small mammal that won’t look much like a cat or a human, but the picture to the west is my ancestor and the picture to the east is Grace’s ancestor. And this is true no matter what two beings we pick on Earth — it could be me and a particular E. coli living in my gut, or my spider fern, or you. The hallway length changes, but the statement holds true.

        Now, it’s a long hall — if we assume a generation is 10 years (longer for humans, shorter for cats), there would be on the order of ten million pictures — if each picture took up a foot of wallspace, are hallway would extend over halfway across the United States, something like 1,900 miles. If we made a movie where each picture stayed on the screen for 1/60th of a second (the standard TV rate), then the movie would take about two days to watch. Of that, three minutes or the movie (or 2 miles of the hall) would be human (H. sapiens) and somewhere around 1 to 3 hours (say 50 to 100 miles) would be the point at which we were watching ancestors we share with no other living species.

        That is the people here think your statements about adaptation versus speciation sound very ignorant — because if you can imagine flickering through 60 generations a second for two days, it would be easy to imagine how small changes could show how you get from a human back to a primitive mammal, then forward again to a housecat. 1 and 2 are small numbers, but keep going and you can end up with some large numbers indeed.

      4. whyevolutionistrue
        March 6, 2010 at 8:52 pm:

        “Little has been given as proof of this theory?” Do you know what site you’re visiting? Usually this kind of ignorance is grounds for banning …

        If people are banned simply for ignorance, they have lost an opportunity to remedy their ignorance. Worse, the silent observers of similar ignorance, who probably outnumber them 10 to 1, have lost an opportunity to remedy their ignorance. It can be tiresome to explain the same things over and over again. But it’s important to understand that in doing so you are reaching new minds, some of which will be changed. It is foolish in the extreme to ban people merely for ignorance.

    2. Lena, do yourself and your child/children (especially the latter) a huge favor, and go find a copy of Jerry’s book (“Why Evolution is True”) in the library, or buy a copy.

      Read it, and look up further information on every concept within that you don’t understand, until you can read it all the way through without being confused.

      I’d recommend the similarly-themed book by Dawkins, but you probably just crossed your fingers at the mention of his name.

      Other useful books in this vein:

      “Your Inner Fish” by Neil Shubin

      “Ice, Mud, and Blood” and “Bones, Rocks, and Stars” by Chris Turney

      As a reference, I have no hesitation recommending “The Tangled Bank” by Carl Zimmer, even though I haven’t seen it yet.

      You should also consider going straight to the source – “On the Origin of Species” by Charles Darwin. It’s amazingly readable, and there was much he didn’t know, and several things he got wrong, Darwin created an amazingly well-reasoned argument for concluding that evolution is the answer to life on this planet.

      If you don’t read any of these books, you’ve no business commenting on how reasonable *we* are. Most of us atheists have actually read the Bible, unlike the majority of Christians.

      1. As a reference, I have no hesitation recommending “The Tangled Bank” by Carl Zimmer, even though I haven’t seen it yet.

        I have read it, Thanny. It is a good book and written clearly but at an introductory college level.

    3. ———————–
      “Aren’t we still free in this country? Why do any of you atheist have a problem with families who choose something other than what is offered in schools today?

      Doesn’t that also stipulate that your children should be free from emotional blackmail and indoctrination? Parents don’t own their kids, they are their stewards–they cannot do an injustice to them. Denying them a proper education certainly is an injustice.

      [failing public schools nonsense]

      Public schools aren’t perfect, but you have to realize that they have to accept everyone, whereas you don’t. Some kids, unfortunately, don’t have loving parents or don’t have the support to do well in school. Those that do and go to public school generally do well.

      “Faith is required to believe in God, and whether you like to admit it or not…faith is also required to believe all that science touts as fact.”

      You seriously know nothing about science, do you. Science is rooted in skeptical and critical inquiry, and all conclusions taken from this inquiry are tentative, always pending new evidence. The ability to change your theories based on new observation is something that faith simply doesn’t allow. Science relies on reason, not faith.

      1. No, she spelled it right. It should have an accent on the E, but what ‘cha gonna do. She did not, however, use it correctly.

        FYI, Lena, “touche” means “I concede that you just made a good point.” It is NOT used to toot your own horn, as you did.

    4. Lena,
      Of course you’re free to shortchanging your children. Just don’t be surprise if, like me, they leave home school and struggle at the university because they haven’t been taught critical thinking skills…

    5. We are concerned because you are raising a generation of children who will want to impose their beliefs on us and will act to so through voting, and, if they ever get the upper hand, through violence.

      Your leaders (parry and Palin) are already talking about succession, which would mean another civil war. Where will it stop?

      If Palin were president, would she precipitate a major war in the Mid-East that might include the use of nuclear weapons by one or more parties, because of her insane religious beliefs

      If you think Yahweh is right to want to burn us, how long will be before you want to burn us. Your positions are immoral and a threat to everyone who lives in the US.

      Your profound ignorance is dangerous to everyone.

  11. Ok, here is something that I really don’t get about these people. They are, almost to a man, ultra-conservatives. They actively hate the government and don’t think that it can do anything right. And yet, they expect the government to accurately and fairly teach their religion in the public classroom. How does that even make sense?

    1. Paranoia. The big bad government is out to get them. That’s why the government pushes liberal stuff in schools.

  12. It would be one thing if these books discussed intelligent design and evolution. however, based on what I am reading, these books simply provide a philippic against the theory and fail to even remotely discuss the issue in its totality. it is okay to mention both evolution and creationism/intelligent design as long as you present it in an unbiased way and detail the pros and cons of both sides. that is the real problem with these books – educational materials should be purely factual and analytical, not try to advocate any belief system or culture.

    there are misinformed people on both sides of the debate (i used to be one such person on the evolution side; i’d like to think i’ve changed). we shouldn’t allow these people to impinge upon the type of intelligent discourse that ultimately makes free speech such a valuable right and allows societies to advance intellectually. too often it seems like creationists hold an unwavering belief in the absolute truth of the english interpretation of the bible and work backwards to search for evidence to support this pre-determined conclusion, but if they had an open mind they would see that there is pretty strong evidence that evolution in some form has occurred at some scale. conversely many on our side assume that this theory is infallible when nothing could be farther from the truth. the point is, extremists like these fraudulent textbook makers ought to be ignored, as eventually their minds will open.

    1. Just to note, natural selection is not the same as evolution.

      There is nothing in micro evolution (adaption, natural selection, you get the idea) that contradicts the Bible.

      Macro evolution (the belief that with enough micro evolutions one animal could change into another entirely different animal [a cat into a dog, for example]) is something that I have problems with.

      Just to be clear, you can believe in a “old earth,” “evolution” and all that and still call yourself a Christian, though one that’s logically inconsistent.

      Christianity doesn’t have as much to do with us as it does about God and His Son, Jesus. Just thought I’d throw that out there.

      1. “Macroevolution” is nothing , more than a whole lot of microevolution spread out over millions of years. It really is that simple.

        Folks, ignorance is curable. I was completely ignorant of evolution until I started reading some of the better popular treatments of it in the 90s. You can do the same.

        Don’t come in here and you “have a problem” with something you don’t even understand. There’s no excuse for not educating yourself, and you look very foolish.

      2. So…the nature has one set of law for smaller organisms, another for larger ones?
        And where is the cutoff? Fungi, for example, can be either macroscopic or microscopic. Do they evolve?

        1. @ insightful ape

          the gist of micro evolution is that there are changes and adaptations within species. To my knowledge, microevolution isn’t limited to the size and or specie of the particular organism.

          Macro evolution, however, is the idea that with enough micro evolutions, one kind of animal will eventually turn into another (going back to the example of the dog turning into a cat).

          @ Josh

          I’m sorry you took offense to what I said. I didn’t mean to sound “above” you or anything. I’m only throwing the “Christian” perspective out there (I put Christian in quotes because I can’t emphasize enough that Christians can believe evolution, long earth age theory, etc., and still be Christians. There is, however, a line that has to be drawn that defines a non-Christian from a Christian, though I’ll only go into rest of the “fundamentals” of Christianity if someone asks for it).

          As “Christians”, the thing in macro evolution that conflicts with our beliefs is that we humans came from apes.

          This implies that we aren’t uniquely created in God’s image, or that God is incapable of creating humans “from scratch.” Another thing would be that God looked at all the death and suffering that came out of macro-evolution during the “first week” and called it good.

          Speaking in strictly biological terms, adaptation and variation results in information loss. rather than information gain that macro evolution requires.

          Let’s say that there were a pack of dogs that suddenly decided to move to the himalayas (or any other cold place. Doesn’t matter where). Nature would select the dogs that had long hair, and/or the ones that would be capable of surviving the cold. All the other dogs die off; only the long-haired dogs remain.

          Suddenly, the icy cold paradise melts away into a desert. Now the dogs are at a loss since they lack the genes required to produce dogs that can grow short hair. Nature has selected against them.

          What macro evolution calls for is information gain and ultimately direction, whereas the information in micro evolution is lost, and is only subject to the surroundings that the organism finds itself in.

          Does that make sense?

          1. No, it doesn’t make sense. Believe me, I certainly didn’t take offense at what you said – I think it was merely foolish and based on false premises.

            Here’s what you don’t get: nobody here cares about the “Christian perspective.” We’re interested in evidence and reason, not superstition. You don’t even know what you’re criticizing, yet you think you have some sort of legitimate point to make. You don’t. Evolution isn’t a matter of “opinion,” its truth doesn’t depend on how well or poorly you can squeeze it into your superstitious “perspective.”

            And I thought I was rather plain: you’re ignorant, and you look foolish. You don’t have to remain ignorant; you could actually read up on the subject. But if you insist on putting your superstition first, then come on to the website of one of the premier evolutionary biologists in the world proudly offering your blinkered “perspective,” then reasonable people are going to write you off as a fool.

          2. Well, okay then. Let me ask you something: Have you seen anything evolve into something else? Have you seen some bacteria magically morph into some other organism of greater complexity? Can you give me any substantial proof that evolution (macro-evolution, just for the sake of differentiation the two) occurred? Can you prove to me that life did start out as non-living chemicals?

            What you can do is give me evidence for, just like Creationists can give you evidence for intelligent design. The thing is, like you said, believing something about truth isn’t going to change truth itself.

            The biggest question is “Who’s right?” Is Man or is it God? If you’re right, it means that we have no ultimate purpose in this world. If you’re wrong, and we’re right, then you’ll have quite a bit of stuff to account for.

            Is eternity something you’re willing to bet on?

            And let me ask you something: Where did information come from? Where did order come from? Information cannot be created out of matter. DNA is information, and requires information to be properly read, which requires information to know what it’s reading is right or not.

            Where did information come from? Non-information? Because that defies everything science has observed thus far.

          3. And let me ask you something: Where did information come from? Where did order come from? Information cannot be created out of matter. DNA is information, and requires information to be properly read, which requires information to know what it’s reading is right or not.

            Where did information come from? Non-information? Because that defies everything science has observed thus far.

            Seriously, this is in no way or form representative of information.

            Information is relative to a system and can be measured by many measures. Most known are Shannon information and Kolmogorov complexity, please look them up.

            Shannon information is simply expressing how messages are transfered through a channel and is eminently measurable. Kolmogorov complexity is used in algorithmic information theory to express how much information a message contains and is fundamentally unmeasurable, (it runs up against the halting problem of algorithms), but easily admit practical realizations (use the same compression algorithm on all messages).

            I explained above some of where information and knowledge applies in biology as regards the genome. To wit, the populations genome learns about the environment by way of selection. In effect, it is the subject of “trial-and-error” (negative fitness) or “trial-and-success” (positive fitness) tests in the process of differential reproduction.

            The information is channeled as Shannon information into the genome, and the knowledge that is messaged is in the form of recipes for gene products and so traits. The genome is a “cook book” for the populations individuals on what traits that works in the current (and to a lesser degree former) environment.

            This Shannon information increase in the genome when selection is present has been meaured, you can read about that too by googling it.

            It can be complemented with the observation that what is changed when variation (mutation) is present is the Kolmogorov complexíty (KC). This can be realized by looking at a DNA string with the same nucleotide throughout. The KC compression, say using jpeg, is simply something like “n times nucleotide A”.

            Mutation will show up as nucleotides subtracted, added or changed. The new KC measure will be “n-1 times nucleotide A” (less information), “n+1 times nucleotide A” (more information) or “n-1 times nucleotide A + 1 times nucleotide B at position N” (much more information).

            Order has nothing to do with information as such, even though that information measures such as mutual information measures biological order. It maximizes when systems are posed at criticality, neither too random not too ordered, but “just so” that information is neither attenuated to catastrophe or denatuated into oblivion but propagated in a one-to-one manner.

            Our brain tissues are observationally posed at criticality, which was yeasteryears great neurological discovery IMHO. But this order doesn’t derive from information but from knowledge, see above on the genome as learning and realizing recipes into, say, brain development.

            DNA is not information. It is a receptacle for information, but foremost it is a realization of learned knowledge. It doesn’t require information for reading, information is mere relative measures of messages, it requires an actuator that responds to messages. That actuator is the reading and translating mechanism of the genome, which has coevolved with the receptacle.

            Information as a relative measure of messages isn’t a very informative measure (but it has its uses). It is in fact very precise to state that information (the coding of messages) comes from non-information (system that produces codings), since nowhere is it observed that codings need to represent anything beyond their algorithmic realization, knowledge especially.

            Does a coding mean anything? Perhaps, but then only if you remember how to decode. More specifically, “bible codes” are excellent examples of information that is meaningless and comes out of applying the non-information of coding indiscriminately.

            This is in fact precisely that science has observed thus far (and it ain’t going to change, we know that for a fact).

          4. Btw, to see that coding producing systems don’t need to contain coding information as such (though of course they generally do contain a static or at least deterministic algorithm), an example is the coding system that can produce the above general “n times nucleotide A” coding.

            It is simply an “add nucleotide A” process, which in this case will eventually stop at a random “n” for reasons of DNA fragility. This contains a minimum of information, certainly much less than the derived “n times nucleotide A” message.

          5. For some reason I can’t reply to Foxboy’s reply to you, so I’ll just put this here.

            If we weren’t engaging with the religious, I’d just say obvious troll is obvious.

            But if Foxboy is sincere, all of his questions are answered in Jerry’s book, or, as others have pointed out, many of the other popular treatments of evolution.

            Why does he come here to argue with us instead of reading something written by an expert? The only answer I can come up with is that he genuinely doesn’t want to know.

          6. bsk: there is a limit as to how deep the nesting of the comments can go. Once you get to that limit you cannot post any direct replies to comments at that level.

          7. Foxboy wrote:
            Does that make sense?

            No, none of it. Good grief, micro/macro, dogs into cats, special creation … is there nothing new under the sun?

          8. Nope. Even the whole evolution-bit was done way back when with the epis…epis…Bah, I can’t spell their names, but they were in the same era as the ones the Apostles were roaming around in.

            And then there’s that whole “There is nothing new under the sun” bit in Ecclesiastes.

          9. There is certainly nothing new about any of these creationist arguments you’re putting forth. Every one has been refuted time and time again with, you know, evidence, lots and lots of evidence. Yet you bring not a scrap of evidence for any of these so-called arguments. Just blind faith, and the sad thing is that you’re so proud of it.

          10. Also it is pertinent to note that besides the observed Shannon information increase of the genome under selection, there is also an observed knowledge (recipe) increase in the genome by adding and loosing genes and traits.

            It is called evolution, and is known since, oh, 150 years. Go read about it, it is a fascinating science, and the best tested one we have (due to its complexity and so many tested predictions).

            Hmm, if only I knew a good book to suggest…

      3. A cat is an extant species, so is a dog. They’re related as well. But if a cat evolved over eons to look like what we’d call a dog, then it wouldn’t be a dog. It would be some new species that looks like a dog. Same with the reverse of starting with a dog and evolving a cat like animal. There seems to be this idea that evolution jumps from one existing animal to another like magic.

        1. Exactly. They’d look totally different (e.g. comparison between a Chihuahua with a Great Dane), but they’d still be under the “dog-kind” since they came from dogs and not from cats.

          What Darwin dispelled was the myth that in the beginning, God created a great dane and a chihuahua individually when, really, they came from the same canine kind. The thing that remains, though, is that it’s still “Canine-kind” and not “Frog-kind.”

          There is a line that needs to be drawn here, but I think Linnaeus did a fine job of doing just that.

          1. There is no such thing as “kinds.” Cripes, you’re really going to bring up baraminology? Here?

          2. If we originated from single-cell organisms, then you’re right on target. The thing is, though, that, as Christians, we believe (or most of us believe, anyway) that God did in fact create certain proto-type species (canine-kind, feline-kind, etc.,), but not in a progressive line (God created bacteria, worms, fish, dinosaurs, man, etc., individually from the start, and not one out of the other).

          3. Yep, he’s going to drag out baraminology. For there are those who can’t stand the fact we are the heirs to bacteria, and the cousins of molds.

          4. Foxboy needs to see a dog give birth to a cat, for him to believe in evolution. Sorry, that’s not going to happen. It’s not the way evolution works. Go back in time far enough, and dogs, cats, in fact all mammals share a common ancestor.
            Birds have evolved from feathered dinosaurs. Not a T-Rex, much smaller dinosaurs. But if you’re expecting a feathered dinosaur to give birth to a chicken, again, you’re missing the point. This is especially hard for folk who ‘have faith’ that the universe was ‘created’ less than 10 thousand years ago, based on a book of Hebrew Mythology, instead of 13+ billion years old, and the planet at about 4.7 billion, that we now know, and can test via different scientific fields.

            Oh, and Tsaul of Tarsus was the Joseph Smith or L. Ron Hubbard of his day. The man wasn’t even original in his ‘creation’ of Jesus, 40 years after it supposedly happened. But some Hellenistic Jews bought it, had their little cult status, until Constantine made it the official religion of the Empire.
            Sorry.. babby Jebus is a lie.
            Now, you can go investigate that, or ignore it, and just ‘believe’ what you want.


          5. There’s the question right there, though. Logically, you might be correct that speciation (thus, evolution) has occurred way back until a common ancestor. The question is: does it go back that far? Is everything just a branch of the evolutionary tree of life? Or are we simply creatures in the orchard of life (going back to the “kinds” thing)?

            The biggest question in evolution is where did we start? Did we really come from a single-celled organism? Or were we created as is from the beginning?

            None of us here can go back to the beginning, so we must cling to either schools of thought.

            Just to be clear,you CAN be a Christian and believe in evolution.

          6. You are wrong Foxboy. There is evidence in DNA and many other places that show life evolved from other life, and it goes all the way back to single cells.

            Once again, I will tell you to get educated and read Why Evolution Is True, Your Inner Fish, The Greatest Show on Earth, The Ancestor’s Tales or other such books. There is little doubt and much evidence, contrary to what you state.

          7. Two issues. One, prior to about a billion years ago, there were no multicellular organisms (or at least no multicellular eukaryotes). In other words, most of the fossil record has lots of fossils, but they are all fossils of single-celled organisms. Creationism can’t explain why we only see single-celled organisms in certain layers, then see multi-cellular life but no bilateral animal life, then bilateral animal life but no recognizable modern bilateral groups, then we see a gradual appearance of modern bilateral groups over tens of millions of years.

            What is more, we can still see various stages of the evolution of multicellular life alive today. We see single-celled organisms that form colonies under certain circumstances that behave like simple multicellular life. In some cases they even behave like fairly complex multi-cellular life. Slime molds, for instance, normally live as single-celled life forms, but under certain circumstances form large colonies, inches across, that are able to move around as a single unit, they can even be taught to remember simple mazes.

            Other organisms always form small colonies of a handful of identical and cooperating cells. Others form colonies with a handful of somewhat more specialized cells. Others form colonies with larger numbers of very specialized cells. And we get greater and greater complexity from there. We have colonies of simple animals, each one too simple to have any real organs of its own, but each on in the colony specialized to behave like what we would consider an organ in more complex animals (the Portuguese man o’ war, which can be
            50 meters long including its tentacles).

            In reality there is no neat line between “single-celled” and “multi-celled” life, there is a blurry continuum with huge numbers of organisms straddling the line that are hard to categorize as multi-celled or single-celled, or can behave as either depending on the circumstances.

            Second, technically we all do start off as single-celled life. We all start of as a fertilized egg cell, which then duplicates itself over and over again. So it is technically wrong to even call us multi-cellular, we are organisms that are single-celled for part of our life cycle and multi-celled for the rest of it. Granted the single-celled portion is relatively brief in humans, but it can take up a large part of their life-cycle in other types of animals. So considering all animals, plants, and fungi make the jump from single-celled to multi-celled with every generation, I don’t see it being very much of a stretch at all to see it happening in the past.

      4. Christianity doesn’t have as much to do with us as it does about God and His Son, Jesus. Ahh, but God is Jesus, so Jesus is his own father and is his own son. Interesting. Did you realise that God sent himself down to die for what he declared sins then didn’t die, because God can’t die, so really it is all a bit of nonsense.

        1. Going by that logic, you’d be right. But that’s what Jehovah’s witness teaches. Christianity doesn’t equal Jehovah’s witness (as similar as they may be).

          The best way I’ve heard the holy trinity described (other than the stock answer of The father, son and holy ghost) is as three who’s and one what. God the Father and God the Son as well as God the Holy Spirit are all God, but they’re three distinct persons in one. Does that clarify that for you?

          1. You write: “The best way I’ve heard the holy trinity described (other than the stock answer of The father, son and holy ghost) is as three who’s and one what.”

            . . .and then seriously ask if that “clarifies” it? If you didn’t have such an emotional allegiance to your Christian nonsense, you’d see how barking mad that is. Please stop mucking up a sensible website where actual, interesting science is discussed with your infantile religious nonsense.

          2. You know what? You are right. It is barking mad. It is crazy to believe. Sometimes, though, the truth is crazier than fiction.

            Either way, though, you’re not going to understand what I’m saying unless a miracle happens. I don’t mean that as an insult. I want to bring up several Bible verses, but I have a feeling you wouldn’t want to hear it any way.

            Again, the “three who’s and one what” thing kinda-sorta shows that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are the three persons that make up God.

            I’m being redundant here, but I want you to understand that it is a very difficult pill to swallow. But it’s something that makes sense once you’re one the “other side” of the fence.

          3. I’m sorry, but you admit that the God you believe in is a contradiction. Yet you still believe. That’s irrational as it gets.

          4. God the Father and God the Son as well as God the Holy Spirit are all God, but they’re three distinct persons in one.

            Have you heard of a logical thing called a reductio ad abusurdum? You just gave one.

            Identity is a transitive relation. This means that whatever is identical has the same properties.

            So given that God the Father is God, and God the Son is God, and God the Holy Spirit is God, then whatever is identical with God has by the transitive relation the same properties of God. So, the Father, Son, and Holy spirit have the same properties. If God has personhood (is a person) that person is the same person whether we refer to God the Father, God the Son or God the wholly spirit. If you deny this, then you deny that God the Father is the same God as God the Son and the same God as God the Holy Spirit. Which you do when you say ‘they’re 3 distinct persons. You’ve given a contradictory argument, and absurdity and so we can reject the existence of any entity with the properties you’ve described.

          5. Brian: before arguing, let’s set the parameters. GOD is infinite and all knowing, and He created everything – that is the Christian worldview. Using this argument, you can’t question him because as a creation, you are infinitely less knowledgeable than He is. What’s wrong if you don’t understand Him, or He doesn’t make sense to you? You don’t even know what happened 100 years ago – and God is way more than just 100 years old.

            Tell me, why don’t you believe in GOD? Because you haven’t seen Him? Well then – by the same token, you should not believe you have a brain too. Unless you can tell me that you’ve seen it.

            Bottomline: GOD is more than just human logic. That is why He is GOD. What’s laughable are persons who, even if they spend a lifetime trying to acquire knowledge, will only know just a minute fraction of what’s out there. And GOD is way bigger than what’s out there – so it would definitely be a futile exercise.

            I believe you have a brain, Brian, even though I have not seen it. Same reason why I believe there is a God.

          6. Who told you all this Francesca? Your brain? You have no evidence for anything you said. Brains are real. They have been seen. Your statements are argumentative and absurd. By your argument we should all believe in a Flying Spaghetti Monster.

          7. Well, either their god has major split-personalities, or else the trinity is a holdover from polytheism (now taken over by saints), or else just a pathetic attempt to blend several myths together in one dogma.

          8. Just a reminder, I did mis-communicate what the trinity is all about. Hey, I’m human too, alright?

            What I was saying was that the father, son and holy spirit were three distinct persons. What I meant to say was that they were three distinct parts that make up God. In the same way that the skeletal system, the lungs and the heart serve different purposes in the body, the three do different things, though they must be together to function.

          9. Just a reminder to Foxboy, you have nothing to base your trinity on. There is no evidence.
            You did get one thing right:

            …were three distinct parts that make up God.

            I agree, God is made up!

          10. I’m being redundant here, but I want you to understand that it is a very difficult pill to swallow. But it’s something that makes sense once you’re one the “other side” of the fence.

            It’s an impossible pill to swallow. You’ve pretty much admitted you believe in crazy nonsense, but instead of drawing the obvious conclusion (that there’s something wrong here), you propose it will all make sense once you just take the plunge. Sure, just the way talking trees make sense when you drop acid.

            Grow up.

          11. Just like a giant explosion could result in an Earth, whose conditions are JUST right for life to appear, and one that somehow resulted in information created out of matter.

          12. What great explosion? The Big Bang wasn’t a great explosion.

            Just right for life. The Universe is so many billions of light years across. Almost all of it uninhabitable to life being a near empty, frozen void with the odd black hole or nuclear explosion to break up the monotony and you say the conditions are JUST right for life? Sheesh.

            Define information. I bet you are not sure what it means.

          13. Constructional/creative information: information used to create something.

            Communication information: letters, words, the like.

            Operational information: information required for something to operate.

            Information: An immaterial thing that can only be defined using information.

          14. Information: An immaterial thing that can only be defined using information. That’s a circular definition. If information can only be defined using information then you’ve smuggled what you’d like to prove into the definition.

          15. For some actual definitions of information (there are as many as there are information measures, i.e. a great many), see my comment above.

            None of what Foxboy trots out as information is, because they aren’t measures. Though actually it captures some of the contexts.

            Note: a circular definition is not a problem in science, only in philosophy. An example of a circular definition is spring constant, which is defined as the linear response to an applied force F = kx and is circularly observed by measuring such a response and such a response only. Definition => prediction (observation) and observation (prediction) => definition.

            This is the general process in theories, that are based on exactly those observations that they predict when they are fully tested. Science is the process of maximizing circularity. 😮

            In which case circularity symmetry is spontaneously broken by observations or theory that doesn’t cover the old one. What matters for theory is predictivity, and none of that applies to the given definitions as they can’t be measured.

      5. Foxboy,

        Do you believe a cat-like creature could turn into a domestic cat and a lynx? It is just a matter of degree.

        1. @ Neil

          The quick answer is yes. Cats and Lynx (plural spelling?) are different creatures, to be sure, but they still are of feline kind. Lions, Tigers, Cheetahs, and whatever other feline kind I missed still fit under the umbrella. However, that’s where speciation (however the spelling is) comes in. To my knowledge, a lion cannot mate with a domestic cat. Does that mean they’re not from the “feline stock” of animals? No, it just means that there were enough changes that prevent the two from mating.

          Make sense?

          1. Indeed there were enough evolutionary changes that the common anscestor of the domestic cat (Felis pussycat) could not mate with the Lion (Pantera Leo). That’s why they’re classed as different species. If they could mate and have viable reproducing offspring, they’d be the same species. Sort of like dogs. A Chihuahua can’t mate with a Great Dane, but there are intermediatry breeds so they’re the same species.

          2. The key thing to remember, though, is that they still do fit under the feline umbrella.

            That’s an example of micro-evolution, and not macro-evolution.

          3. Actually, cats is a term that is useful for classification but doesn’t determine how things are in the world. We could define cats to be only members of the domestic cat species. We could define it to include all carnivores or all of life. Just so long as we know what we’re saying. So, for you, a bacteria that lived a billion years ago via evolution was an anscestor of a moggie that sits on your lap and purrs would be a case of microevolution if we though of cats as being all of life..

          4. The key thing to remember, though, is that they still do fit under the feline umbrella.

            Get it through your head. Baraminology isn’t real. You don’t understand what you think you’re criticizing when you make these artificial distinctions between micro and macroevolution.

            I really wish people like you would shut your mouths for a few minutes, go away, actually educate yourself by reading . . .oh. . I don’t know “Why Evolution is True. . and then see if you still want to spew this inane crap.

          5. Based on what, Josh? How do we know that evolutionary changes have been going on since the beginning? How do you know that we didn’t start with basic “kinds” and speciated from there?

          6. Because Josh sees evidence. Lots of it for evolution, unlike the complete lack of evidence for ‘kinds’.

            You really need to get educated Foxboy.

          7. Well, if you can believe that a cat-like animal can turn into two different animals, house cats and lynxes, why can’t you believe that 60 million years ago, a class of carnivorous animals called Miacids turned into two similar, but different, classes of carnivorous animals called Viverravidae and Miacidae? They would have looked as similar to each other as house cats and lynxes do today, but the first group gradually turned into a class of animals biologists now call Aeluroi/Feloidea, which includes cats, civets, and mongooses, while the latter turned into a class of animals, Arctoidea/Canoidea, that includes bears and dogs.

          8. Ah, aren’t we overlooking over important matter here. Evolution consists not of an individual changing over time, but of that individuals descendants exhibiting changes over time. Generation A exhibits Generation A traits. Generation B exhibits most of the Generation A traits, loses others, and exhibits Generation B traits instead. Until you get to Generation On Beyond Zebra which exhibits a core of Generation A traits, a mix of traits from subsequent generations, and finally a small number of On Beyond Zebra generation traits coming together to make up a very different creature from Generation A.

            The important point here is the current generation consists of different creatures than the original generation.

      6. So, Foxboy, let me see if I understand this. As I understand it, you fall into one of these two camps:

        1) You accept that there can be a small number of small changes over a short period of time, but you reject that there can be a large number of small changes over a long period of time. If so, what mechanism prevents there from being a large number of small changes? This is like saying there is some magical mechanism that prevents anyone from counting over a thousand.

        2) You accept that there can be a large of small changes over a long period of time, but you reject that a large number of small changes add up to a large change. This is like saying 1+1+1=3, but 1+1+1+…(repeat 995 times)…+1+1=50, because you can’t add 1 together many times to get a big number.

        3) you accept that large changes can happen, but you reject that this can change kinds. This seems nonsensical to me, because the difference between, say, cats and dogs are really not that large. There is a relatively small change in size, a relatively small change in proportions, slightly different balance in senses (cats have better eye site, dogs better smell), cats have retractable claws, but overall they are fairly similar. The magnitude of changes to change from a “dog” kind to a “cat” kind are really not that great.

        If it isn’t one of these possibilities, please explain how large changes are prevented. I am just seeing how you can avoid getting changes between “kinds” (whatever that means).

        Also, while you are at it, could you please define “kind”. How can we tell whether two organisms are members of the same kind or different kinds. When I say definition, I mean definition, not examples. Examples only really apply to those examples, they cannot be generalized, so they are pretty useless.

        1. Changes can happen, but the question is where did it start? That’s what we’re disagreeing on here.

          Did we (every creature present) originate from a single-celled organism, or did we start with certain kinds and move up from there?

          So in the beginning, were creatures created individually? Or did we adapt from a single common ancestor?

          1. No, you specifically said the you accept microevolution but reject macroevolution. Stop dodging and explain what prevents lots of microevolution from becoming macroevolution.

        2. How many times do you need the same answer, Foxboy? There is ample evidence to show that all life is related and evolved from one common ancestor. Get educated. Read the evidence and see for yourself. Disagreeing without educating yourself will just keep you ignorant.

      7. Creotard… your religion has made you stupid. Only creotards have problems understanding that if you put one foot in front of the other you can walk down the block… and if you keep doing that you can eventually walk across the country.

        Microevolution is a block… macroevolution is one block after another until you are someplace else far away from where you started.


        You can understand it better if you don’t imagine that your salvation hinges on not “getting it.”

        It makes a lot more sense then thinking an invisible guy poofed pugs and ponies into existence “as is”–Your story is on par with aliens poofing people across country instead of the alternative version that they migrated, on foot, over time.

        (Oh, it also helps if you aren’t indoctrinated to believe that you are hell-bound unless you can make yourself believe we live on a young earth. We live in an old universe– your god wastes so much time, that things may just as well evolve…)

  13. I’m thrilled that this topic is attracting a popular media source! Hopefully our media savvy youth will find it too.

  14. I just wanted to write you a quick note to let you know that I don’t appreciate being called a liar. In a recent article by the Associated Press quoted you as saying: “I feel fairly strongly about this. These books are promulgating lies to kids,” said Jerry Coyne, an ecology and evolution professor at the University of Chicago. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,588260,00.html?test=latestnews

    What lies are you talking about? What do you think a theory is? Theory is not truth. It is a humans perception of what they believe. It is not fact, but fiction or….lies as you might put it. It is what that particular person believes in his/her heart. It is not scientific because it cannot be proven.

    I did not evolve from a monkey as Darwin says! If it were true, why are there still monkeys? Why didn’t they evolve? Why haven’t they started talking to us? Why aren’t they driving around in cars and flying airplanes? Why are they still living in trees in the jungle? Why don’t they build houses and wear clothes? The reason they haven’t done any of these things is because they are still monkeys. The same as when God created them around 6,000 years ago.

    You are saying that by teaching our children the truth about God and how He created the Earth and everything in it is a lie? Sir, one day, you will stand before God Himself and have to give an account of your life to Him.

    This is why we teach creation and not evolution because we know creation is the truth and evolution is a lie. Sir the truth will set you free.

    Thank you for your time and may God open your eyes to the truth.

    1. Well Kirk, you said this:

      I did not evolve from a monkey as Darwin says! If it were true, why are there still monkeys?

      Darwin never said that. That makes it a lie. I guess Jerry is 100% correct about you then.

      Creation is a fairy tale. Your mushy comments, taken from AIG web site (how unoriginal) has been refuted over and over again.

    2. The fact is there isn’t any truth. Or rather, there are as many types of truths as there are different truth systems. A great many. And no one in particular has any type of priority over another.

      Though there are religions that states otherwise. Those religions are thus known liars, of course.

      While facts are unanimous by way of testing, which eliminates “unfacts” and other errors. Theories are tested, so they are facts by definition, and observably so.

      Let me ask you this, if you are so keen to avoid being called a liar, why do you come here and state obvious lies? Remember, there are obvious and simple means to test claims. And yours fail miserably.

  15. It was inevitable, Jerry – now that you’ve got the fundies on your site, you’ve really arrived!

    To Lena, Philm, and your ilk – What boggles my mind is how unbelievably arrogant you are in your small-minded ignorance. You’re on the website of one of the most accomplished, educated, and well-known scientists in the field today. And you have the nerve to flounce in here with your wee, parochial little attitudes and bleat. You’re way, way out of your league.

    Instead of running your electronic traps and showing the world how little you know, why don’t you try reading Jerry’s book? You don’t *have* to be ignorant about evolution – that’s why he wrote it. It’s fascinating, and it presents complicated ideas in lucid prose that any reader of ordinary intelligence can follow.

    But *don’t* mistake your ability to flap your gums on this website with the notion that your ignorant opinions make you Jerry’s equal. You’re outclassed.

    1. Jerry is just another man educated by other men who have followed the teachings of Darwin who on his death bed renounced his stupidity and supposedly gave his life to the Lord.

      1. Kirk, if you don’t appreciate being called a liar, you can stop acting like one.
        Like the story of Darwin’s deathbed conversion-ever heard of apocrypha? This is the clearest example.

  16. I admit that, from what I understand about evolution, I agree that it is true. I’m also a Christian. *shrugs* I’ve never thought the two were incompatible, and I do get a bit peeved when atheists insist that because I’m a Christian, I must be an idiot. That being said, I’m more peeved when anti-evolutionists (usually the religious right, honestly) makes all Christians look willfully ignorant. I understand there is a lot of controversy in evolutionary theory, and I am interested in it. From a distance, anyway, as I’m in humanities and am happier with 14th, 15th and 16th century English authors than modern day science text books.

    1. I understand there is a lot of controversy in evolutionary theory,

      Then you understand nothing.

      There is a lot of social controversy around evolutionary theory, true. It is a “manufactroversy” at best, and a damaging influence on society at worst. (As is all religion but this in particular, together with genus discrimination and so on.)

      True there is controversy in evolutionary theory, as can be evidenced by other posts here. For example, is “Ida” a strepsirrhine or haplorhine? But controversy is a measure of the vitality of science, because it is a marketplace of ideas.

      Other sciences have controversy too, as they must. And while I doubt there is statistics on the table to judge from, for all practical purposes biology hasn’t “a lot” but is by all evidence mature but vital. For example, another post mentions that we know now that insects are nested within arthropods. Useful controversy now dismissed as useless.

      Actually I would expect that a schooled person would know this much about science, both in general (marketplace of ideas; expect controversy or death by stagnation) and of evolution in particular (potshot by immoral religious interests)! As they say, what do they teach in humanities these days? [And get of my lawn!]

      1. Woah! Wait a minute! You can say “It is true that there is controversy in evolutionary theory,” but I can’t? Why?

        The exact “controversies” that you cite is what I’m talking about. I can only guess that you must have assumed that because I’m a Christian, I meant that there is controversy about the basic truth of the theory. Which, if you read my post closely, you’d see is NOT what I said at all.

        And of course, I am a fan of controversy, conversation, heck, even out and out argument in the humanities as well as the sciences. Of course without controversy things would stagnate.

        I understand that the “cutting edge” of evolutionary theory (which I admit I don’t fully understand as I am not a biologist, chemist, physicist, or variation thereof) does contain disagreement and controversy. And studies of our DNA make the field more and more interesting. All stuff I’m looking forward to learning more about.

        So, again, I ask, what did I say that was wrong, except, perhaps, phrasing?

        What is it that we teach in humanities nowadays? Well, usually to read for content.

        1. Phrasing would be correct as I would have made the same assumption as Torbjörn. I think we’re all a bit jumpy around here at the moment! My wife did humanities/counselling in university. It’s an interesting subject.

  17. To those who arrived at this blog after reading the Yahoo article, and who feel fired up and wish to debate, I would highly recommend that you not waste your time. Why would you find it worth one moment of your time to debate with folks who cannot define you in any other way than as “loons.” “Religious wackaloonery” – sure, very clever, but also an indication of someone who is extremely closed-minded. Your arguments, your questions – a total waste to present those here. Instead, spend your time reading first source science materials, and, especially, read and study the materials that evolutionists don’t want you to see. Don’t leave your science education to any textbook. Let those evolutionists call themselves apes if it makes them happy. In fact, I am more than happy to consider them apes as well.

      1. I, for one, welcome our Galactic Peer-reviewed Over-words! Especially the published science that scientists doesn’t want to be seen.

    1. In fact, I am more than happy to consider them apes as well.

      No worries, we consider you one as well…

  18. Not every homeschooler is a fundie. We have homeschooled our son for 6 years, and I myself read Why evolution is true to my eleven year old for an evolution text. It was great. Clear and concise, it was a very smooth read for us. Did he catch all of it. no. but much!

    The greatest show on earth by Dawkins is next. No offense to Mr. Dawkins, but I think Coyne here was a smoother read. We’ll get through it fine though.Right now we are reading Death by black hole.

    There are more atheist or secular home schoolers out there than you know. We just tend to be quieter since we are so outnumbered. I have a post about it at http://blessedatheist.com/2010/02/25/atheist-homeschooling/

    Blessed Atheist Bible Study @ http://blessedatheist.com

    1. Many non fundamental home school families make an effort to fly under the radar.
      I live in a area predominantly fundamental (many around here think Creationism is bit radical).
      Quite frankly there is some concern over ostracism and figurative “tar and feathering” if we were to admit our true beliefs.

  19. With all due respect, you all seem to misunderstand people like Lena. Their thought system is profoundly unscientific. It is useless to try to educate, persuade or shame them. Just as it would be useless to try to explain electricity to a 9th Century Norman peasant.

    They think like this: Those liberal elites think they are trying to pull something over on us. They really think we are stupid. But in fact they are so smug they miss what’s right in front of their nose.

    What is it that they miss? It doesn’t matter. Could be How could an eye evolve? (They will even quote Darwin to show that he didn’t believe in descent with modification.) Or it could be Argument from Design. Or it could be Maybe you are an Ape but I’m not! Or it could be the flagelleum. (If the flagellum is anti-Darwin they are all for it; if it’s pro-Darwin they will hate it. They just need a book endorsed by their pastor/radio talk show host/angry anti-intellectual to tell them one way or the other.)

    So you say: Science is open to problems. Resolving them within the framework of a paradigm is in fact the essence of science.

    They say: See you admit you haven’t even worked it out!

    You ask them: So what is your explanation and how is it proved? They don’t care. They have no thought-through proof or methodology or even goal. But they know one thing: whom to trust.

    And so, the people who don’t see the “proof” in evolution are also the ones who believe in spirits, ghosts, alien abductions, big-foot, ESP, etc., etc. Because those are all the things the “elites” are trying to keep from them. Just like they are trying to keep the Bible from their children.

    And after all this Bible thumping, you ask them: You really believe in an all-knowing, all-powerful being who can intervene in your daily life and will judge you up or down for all eternity on what you do here? They say yes. So you ask them, Do you feed the poor, visit the prisons, nurse the sick? Do you give up all your worldly care to help insure the right result for your own eternity? They say, Yeah, as much as they can, and go back to watching American Idol.

    Maybe I’m just too old and can’t go through this latest of the predictable, regularly-recurring spasms of anti-intellectual group think in this country with the kind of patience I did when I was much younger, but frankly I just don’t see the point of trying to engage them.

    1. DK Fennell wrote:
      …frankly I just don’t see the point of trying to engage them.

      I’m with you – it is hopeless. Someone like this Lena has no idea that she is handicapping her children, who will have to survive in a modern world, but as long as homeschooling is legal there is nothing that can be done. It should have been forbidden by law long ago.

      1. In essence, agree with you, too, DK Fennell. We may be on opposite sides of the fence, but at least we all agree that there is a fence.

        I know it’s nothing but balderdash to you, but I’ll be praying for you guys.

        I have to go. I have home-work that I need to get to.

        Good night and good luck.

      2. “It should have been forbidden by law long ago.” How was Abe Lincoln educated? He was homeschooled. So were a lot of great people before. The youngest professor in MIT, one of the top schools in the US and the world was homeschooled and became a professor at the age of 19.

        TOMH, go be educated. If you don’t agree with homeschoolers, so be it. To arrive at your conclusion based on nothing shows you need to have more education.

    2. There is much fact in what you say. Conspirationists are believers too, and incompetents (who don’t know facts and how to learn them) are the most common denialist.

      But despite what you say you give hope. For example, it is an observable fact that secular people give more resources and do more to feed the poor et cetera. Believers don’t care about facts, but they sure care about pretenses and face! Maybe we can shame them into actually help human beings for a change, and then take it from there.

      @ Foxboy:

      it’s nothing but balderdash to you, but I’ll be praying

      It is not that it is meaningless as such, in the context it is meaning “I shit all over this argument because I can’t say anything good, moral and pertaining to the matter”, so arrogant and offensive.

      @ Francesca:

      Home schooling is harming others, this context is a prime example. To parallel Dawkins claims in a related context, it is a form of child abuse and societal abuse.

      There are many nations that abstain from home schooling because of its problems, and they seem all the better for it. US isn’t exactly known for its state of edumafication.

      1. Oops, I forgot:

        But “Resolving them within the framework of a paradigm is in fact the essence of science.” is an “unfact”.

        Theories and observation are the only contexts where science do testing. There are many definitions of paradigm, and those that goes beyond theories as constituting the “paradigm” (or better, process and/or process context), are known to be wrong.

        For example, classical mechanics being superseded by quantum mechanics didn’t blind people to the merits of classical mechanics, it is still used to great effect. (Especially where QM isn’t useful.) Both paradigms (in the theory sense) are used.

        “Paradigm” is, ehm, balderdash. (It was an unsubstantiated invention by a philosopher, what can you expect? :-D) See Deutsch and Weinberg for some known scientists treatment of the matter.

  20. Finally I just have one final question,or comment (sigh of relief from the choir)…

    as I understand the problem (for many of you, but not for the majority of homeschoolers) the article was attempting to illustrate that homeschooled children are not being taught evolution as fact, and that there aren’t any curriculums which are offered to those desiring to teach evolution. There seemed to be some “concern” about what parents were teaching, or not teaching their children and implying we’re all dumb. o.k.

    So tell me, how many kids graduating from public schools (high schools,& universities)do any of you believe would be able to explain one of the following in an intellegent/coherent way?
    3.Fossils (That includes coal, oil and gas, which you hypocritically use while denying the science behind the exploration)
    4.Nuclear DNA
    5.Extra-nuclear DNA (mitochondria, chloroplasts)
    6.Biochemistry-shared molecular structures and metabolic pathways
    7.Geographical distribution
    8.Co-evolution (different species changing in tandem)
    9.Evidence from domestication of animals and plants
    10.Vestigial organs
    It seems to me, rather than worrying about what homeschooled kids are taught, the pro-evolutionist should aspire to teach their aspects of evidence to those in public schools where evolution is taught! Sadly, most kids in public schools have no idea how to write a decent paragraph,or even how to properly spell. Maybe the next article they can write should be,”How kids in public schools know nothing about evolution nor do they care.” Now there is something all of you can really get upset about.

    1. If nobody leaving a public school understood the slightlest about evolution it still would be irrelevant to the question that matters. Is evolution true? Either it is or it isn’t.

      1. Exactly. You’re betting that it is. We Christians are betting that it isn’t (to a certain extent).

        If we are wrong, then let us be wrong. What would that prove? That there is no ultimate existence, that life is ultimately meaningless since death is something that will come no matter what we do about it. That our world will come to an end sooner or later.

        You’re free to believe what you want to believe, but that doesn’t change the truth. The question that has yet to be answered is “Who’s right?”

        1. That’s right….
          if you win,we lose nothing!
          If we win,you lose everything!
          You people are taken a big gamble. Goodnight!

          1. Actually, Pascal’s wager is a terrible gamble for you guys. It assumes that there are only two options. Either you’re right or you’re wrong. But this not at all justified. There could be endless possibilites. What if there is a god, not your God who things faith of the type you exihibit is worthy of the worst punishment, but things that not believing because there isn’t the evidence is using your god-given attributes well. Then atheists would be rewarded with heaven and you guys go to hell. Of course who knows what options there are? Your false dichotomy doesn’t do you any favors.

          2. thinks, not things. If there’s a god that dislikes poor spelling, I’m going to that god’s hell!

        2. Well, given the evidence any rational person would say the scientists. They’ve offered up the evidence and arguments that lead to the conclusion. There’s no faith required, it’s all reasonable argumentation. There’s no question who’s right given the evidence and best explanation.

          Given that you believe in a God that you admit is a contradiction and thus can’t exist as you believe I don’t think you have a leg to stand on rationally.

          1. It is not a contradiction since the three persons are distinctly different. The big three are the who, and God is what they are. So when Jesus was talking to His Father, he was talking to His Father.

            We believe there is only One True God, and that the Trinity is that God. They are not three gods ruling as one, they are three different, distinct persons that make up God.

            I did not admit that God contradicted himself, only that it was difficult to comprehend. There is a noticeable difference here.

            Further, if the middle road is the right road, where does that lead us? It only leads us to more and more questions. I think we can agree that if we’re both wrong, we could possibly be totally screwed or not, depending on the god.

            It doesn’t blow the question out of the water, it just adds more questions. Is that a path you want to take?

            So let me ask you, then. If not THE one true God, then who?

          2. If there is only one God, then the 3 persons are the same person. 3 distinct persons cannot be the same entitity because that would violate transitivity. I explained the logic above. It is based on your comments. You don’t get it both ways. I’m not telling you what to believe only showing you that if you do believe what you say, then you believe in something that is logically impossible, that doesn’t exist.

            So let me ask you, then. If not THE one true God, then who? Who knows. I see no compelling evidence to believe in the God you offer, in fact you show that that god doesn’t exist. I see no compelling evidence to believe in any god. Thus I’m an atheist. When someone comes along with compelling evidence I’ll let you know. It’s OK to say you don’t know.

          3. Maybe it would make more sense for you to see it like this:

            The trinity is composed if three different parts that make up God. They are three different parts, distinct enough to be able to call each other part “you” and not “part of me.”

            Or how about another one:
            The trinity are like parts of the body. The Holy Spirit is “like” the legs, the Father “like” the internal organs, and the Son “like” the arms (or any other order of body parts. The specifics don’t really matter, so long as you get the right idea conceptually).

            In the same way that three sections of the body can become one body, but still be considered different sections each with its own specialized job.

            Does that make logical sense now? Three who’s and one what.

            You were right on the money saying that I was logically incorrect (based on what I had said) because I didn’t communicate my ideas correctly.

            For that I apologize. I guess I threw you on the wrong course there, huh?

            Like you said, though, what you believe doesn’t change the truth. What you believe about God (that he doesn’t exist, that a god exists but it’s not Him, etc.,) doesn’t change the truth.

            Maybe He does exist, maybe He doesn’t. We can’t prove either to be true, so I guess we’ll find out sooner or later, eh?

            And if you’re going to say something along the lines of “my worldview tells me that seeing is the only way to believe,” I’d ask you how you know that to be true. Based on what you may or may not have seen thus far in your life, sure, but have you seen everything? How do you know that God is kind of “around the corner” from you, so to speak? What if you’re wrong?

          4. Further, do your scientists know everything? Can they prove that the biblical flood didn’t happen? Can they prove that God doesn’t exist? Were they there to see how the world came about? Lastly, do we know that science is the only way to knowing?

            Sure, they can give evidence to the following questions based on their worldview, but they can’t answer them outright without relying on their presuppositions (something required to be assumed true to make that worldview work).

          5. Further, do your scientists know everything? Hell no. They’re only men who work as part of a larger enterprise.

            Can they prove that the biblical flood didn’t happen? Yes, Geologists have done so beyond any reasonable doubt.

            Can they prove that God doesn’t exist? Certain God’s maybe, but who cares. You propose the God, it’s your burden to prove it does exist. Not ours to prove it doesn’t. Otherwise it’d be our burden to disprove Zeus, Unicorns, whatever. Can you prove that Zeus doesn’t exist?

            Were they there to see how the world came about? Nope, but gathering evidence, using logical reasoning they have come up with plausible explanations. Were you? Were the people who wrote the Bible? Nope.

            Lastly, do we know that science is the only way to knowing? No, and we don’t claim it is. It’s part of a larger spectrum of rationality. That spectrum includes Philosophy, Maths, and other fields. If you claim religion is a way of knowing, then give a piece of knowledge that came from religion and is reliable and could not have come from any other source.

            Sure, they can give evidence to the following questions based on their worldview, but they can’t answer them outright without relying on their presuppositions (something required to be assumed true to make that worldview work). Sorry, that doesn’t work. The ‘worldview’ comes from the results of science not the other way around. Newton for example, a devout scientist, as believers are so fond of telling us, was a believer and he didn’t presuppose an atheistic world view. He only worked on certain assumptions then using reason and evidence, like scientists do, came to certain results that proved correct (up to a point). No presupposition required as we can test the results against evidence and reject them if they’re wrong.

          6. I can prove it through indirect reasoning:

            God says that He is the only true God. He says He doesn’t lie.

            Based on our worldview, on our presuppositions, we can either determine that either God is right, or our worldview is wrong.

            Geologists rely on the presuppositions based on the uniformity of nature (layman’s terms: what you see is what you got [emphasis past tense]). If a flood of biblical proportions showed up, it would have laid sediment very quickly (forming the fossils didn’t get destroyed).

            So, yes, based on certain geologists assumptions on nature and the uniformity of it, the biblical flood could not have happened. That does not conflict with the truth that it was indeed something that was truly a divine judgment (but it can also be explained through a hypercane, but that’s getting off the subject).

            “Were they there to see how the world came about? Nope, but gathering evidence, using logical reasoning they have come up with plausible explanations. Were you? Were the people who wrote the Bible? Nope.” Again, this is part of the presuppositions thing, though you could shuffle in evolution, long age theory, and still be Christian you’d be logically inconsistent. I’d recommend you to check out answersingenesis.org if you want to see some examples and counterexamples.

            “Philosophy, maths, other fields . . .” Where did these fields come from? Other people? Where’d they get their ideas? Did they just suddenly get smart enough to create such fields? Are you saying that after the big bang, everything just magically fell into place? If so, then where did life come from? The non-living? That conflicts with what we’ve observed thus far in science. So then laws can be overridden. Then what are the circumstances? How can it go back to following the rules again? How does that happen? As Christians, we can provide an answer. God is an orderly being, and He created us in his image as logical, reasonable beings.

            To be clear, there are many things that scientists can answer (like judging the distance of a star). That kind of science falls under “Observational science.” We have nothing against that. It’s when we use observational science to explain things about the past, things we cannot necessarily repeat and can only give evidence for or against, that it becomes “Historical science.”

            “No presupposition required as we can test the results against evidence and reject them if they’re wrong.”
            The problem is that you can’t test evolution. You can’t test the uniformity of nature. You must believe it to be true (presupposition) for it to work.

            Once again, Christianity allows for observational science, but not for historical science.

            That said, we are obviously making no progress in these debates. There’s nothing you can say to make me change my mind, and the same can probably be said about your mind.

            We’ll find out the truth soon enough, right?

          7. “Further, do your scientists know everything? ”

            No, that is why science is still being done. 🙂

            Besides, science has found cures for diseases, vaccines, etc.
            What has religious revelation every provided?

            (psst: the answer is “nothing”)

          8. Geologists rely on the presuppositions

            No theory “relies” on the observations that they are founded on and must predict, they rely on testing predictions against observations. If the observations and theory are wrong, testing will tell us so. In other case, we have to accept them as tested fact. Or deny reality.

            “Flood theory” was tested and falsified in the early 19th century. Please keep up with known facts, or else keep quiet on a science blog. To argue catastrophism is to present “unreasonable doubt”, which actually can’t be discussed in a sensible manner – facts are facts.

          9. We have continuous records of human artifacts and human habitation in various locations around the globe from 7000 BCE to the modern day. When, exactly, was Noah’s flood supposed to happen, and why did it not wipe out those human habitats?

            Finding evidence against an almighty God requires a bit of logic. Consider: an omnipotent being can create a paradox (like the Trinity, or an immovable object and an irresistible force). A self-consistent reality cannot contain a paradox, by definition. Therefore, either reality is self consistent, or God exists. As far as we can tell, reality is self-consistent. Therefore, God is unlikely to exist. (this is kind of the opposite of the God of the Gaps argument). Obviously, it’s impossible to prove a negative, but there’s absolutely no positive evidence for the existence of God, and plenty of evidence against.

            Scientists were not there to see how the world came about, but that’s not really an issue; you weren’t there to see how Jesus was resurrected, and yet despite the inconsistencies in the accounts you presumably believe it anyway (after all, did Mary go to the tomb alone? How many angels were in the tomb? What did Mary do after she saw them?). Further, by examining other stars and studying the world around us, anyone can figure out from first principles how the world would have been created; can you study Scripture and come up with the same religion as everyone else on the planet? (here’s a hint: the fact that Christianity has split up into so many mutually incompatible sects, and in fact is itself a sect that separated from Judaism, says no)

          10. “Geologists rely on the presuppositions based on the uniformity of nature (layman’s terms: what you see is what you got [emphasis past tense]). If a flood of biblical proportions showed up, it would have laid sediment very quickly (forming the fossils didn’t get destroyed).”

            So then tell me, Foxboy, when oil prospectors look for new sources of crude oil do they use flood geology or scientific geology to find it?

        3. Foxboy you’ve missed the whole point here in spectacular fashion ! This isn’t about a “bet” evolutionary theory has withstood a century and a half of rigorous scientific examination it’s as ‘true’ as any scientific theory can be. You’ve already lost the bet I’m afraid.

        4. “We Christians”?

          Are you aware that the Catholic Church endorses evolution? And that they are, in fact, Christian?

          I believe what you really mean is “me and the people in my comfort zone”.

          1. There are a number of fundagelicals who do not consider Catholics to be Christians. I bet they don’t think much of Mormons either.

      2. Brian,
        most homeschoolers do teach aspects of evolution…..
        Thank you for allowing me onto this thread. I will read Jerry’s book,how about you read God’s book? I know…it was written by men,so what is Jerry,God?

          1. No,of course not…
            but they were inspired by God,read the preface of the KJV Bible for yourself and see what they say.

          2. Now at the risk of you making a circular argument. Why should I truth that Bible, which as the name says was translated in the time of King James, from sources that were in the Vulgar which didn’t agree in all particulars with each others, which came from poor Greek translations which came from unknown sources. The authors of the gospels were anonymous, written some century after the supposed events for example. What non Biblical way do we have of showing that they’re inspired by a God that we have no reason to believe exists? If you say that God inspired the Bible, and the Bible says God exists and so God exists, you’re going in a circle. I think you can see that the Bible is of no help determining if God exists, or Jesus was resurrected.

          3. The truth is that we can’t. Every worldview makes presuppositions. That’s one of them.

            Just like yours is “Knowledge can only be obtained through scientific reasoning.” The circular reasoning there is “how do you know scientific reasoning is the only way?” “Because it sounds reasonable.”

            You know what the say, Point a finger and you’ll have three pointing back at you.

          4. I never said knowledge can only be obtained from scientific reasoning. In fact, I invited you to offer some knowledge that comes from religious reasoning. You haven’t done that yet. Now, I’m happy to say religion can give reliable knowledge if you demonstrate that it can. No presuppositions involved. Have at it.

          5. Well, I’m taking a break. Thanks for the discussion Foxyboy and Lena if you’re still about.

          6. (Just to note, when I wrote that one post, it was before I read that one challenging me to find knowledge outside of presuppositions that comes from religious reasoning)Well, for one, all our powers of thought, reason, movement, understanding, etc., come from God.

            So basically all knowledge comes from God. But then for you to believe that, you’d need to share our worldview, which means you’ll need to share our presuppositions which is out of the question (in the circumstances you’ve placed). But then to prove us wrong, you’ll need to delve into your own presuppositions.

            Without presuppositions, we cannot differentiate our religion from any and all other religions and beliefs.

            So, in other words, you’re asking a trick question. You’re asking me to define what “neutral” ground is.

            The thing is, though, that there is no neutral ground. Evolution is a religion in itself. What you as an evolutionist must believe is that you can use the present to explain the past. That’s a presupposition in itself. Certainly, there are sciences that we can both conclude as true (observational sciences) but it takes faith to believe that what we’re seeing now is the same as it was before we were able to see.

            The following I pulled from this website (http://www.answersingenesis.org/home/area/the-lie/chapter2.asp) If you guys can live up to your claim of not being “ignorant” like us, then, obviously, you should be able to read this article if only for

            “I answered, “The reason scientific theories change is because we don’t know everything, isn’t it? We don’t have all the evidence.”

            “Yes, that’s right,” he said.

            I replied, “But, we will never know everything.”

            “That’s true,” he answered.

            I then stated, “We will always continue to find new evidence.”

            “Quite correct,” he said.

            I replied, “That means we can’t be sure about anything.”

            “Right,” he said.

            “That means we can’t be sure about evolution.”

            “Oh, no! Evolution is a fact,” he blurted out.”

            The article goes on to say that “Models of science are subject to change for both creationists and evolutionists. But, the beliefs that these models are built on are not. The problem is that most scientists do not realize that it is the belief (or religion) of evolution that is the basis for the scientific models (the interpretations, or stories) used to attempt an explanation of the present. Evolutionists are not prepared to change their actual belief that all life can be explained by natural processes and that no God is involved (or even needed). Evolution is the religion to which they are committed”

            At any rate, I’m done for the day. Likewise, thank you for the discussion, Mr. Brian.

          7. Back for a look. Just had a torrential downpour that flooded the backyard. Perhaps I upset some deity?

            So basically all knowledge comes from God. But then for you to believe that, you’d need to share our worldview, which means you’ll need to share our presuppositions which is out of the question (in the circumstances you’ve placed). But then to prove us wrong, you’ll need to delve into your own presuppositions. That’s no more than a jumble of assertions. It seems to me that you think that by asserting that so and so is a presupposition that you can seal off your arguments. But that’s not how it works. You share more than enough common ground with me to demonstrate God exists (or its existence is beyond reasonable doubt), that he agrees with your beliefs such as he created us and is the source of knowledge.

            Without presuppositions, we cannot differentiate our religion from any and all other religions and beliefs. You don’t need to presuppose anything to note that your religion is different from another religion. So that statement seems just false.

            So, in other words, you’re asking a trick question. You’re asking me to define what “neutral” ground is. Nope, we both agree on many things. I’m sure we would both agree when the sun is up if we were in the same location for example. We both agree that 2 + 2 = 4. Plenty of neutral stuff. Plenty to work from and build a case.

            The thing is, though, that there is no neutral ground. Yes there is. I just gave some trivial examples.

            Evolution is a religion in itself. What deities does evolution require one to worship? What are the fundamental dogmas of evolution? It’s changed since Darwin, as we’ve realized he was wrong in some parts or didn’t have access to certain knowledge, so the Origin of Species isn’t an evolutionary equivalent of the Bible. Just an interesting book.

            What you as an evolutionist must believe is that you can use the present to explain the past. I believe it’s a good tool. I can’t prove it, because that’s where Hume comes in with the problem of induction.

            That’s a presupposition in itself.

            No it’s a working hypothesis. I note that the past has always seemed a certain way, and I thus hypothesis that it will be that way again. If it’s not, and it could always be different, I’d have to work out a new hypothesis. Not a presuppostion. A presupposition is different than a falsifiable hypothesis.

            Certainly, there are sciences that we can both conclude as true (observational sciences) but it takes faith to believe that what we’re seeing now is the same as it was before we were able to see.

            I’m sorry, but observational sciences rely on assuming the past is a guide to the future. That’s the observational bit. You observe the past, make predictions based on the data you collect and theorise about the data. Then you test to see if the observations bear out your predictions drawn from the theory. If the tests fail, you reject some part or all of the theory. So if you can conclude observational sciences, like biology, are true, you are believing that what we see now is what we saw in the past and you have to accept observational sciences like biology. It’s not a matter of faith as I said before it’s a working hypothesis that the past is a guide to the future. One that we all make and therefore indispensable, but it could always be wrong. As an example, you don’t walk out of a window on the 10th floor because in the past you’ve noted that gravity will cause you to fall. You could be wrong, the past might not give you a good guide to the future, but I wouldn’t bet upon it. If you think this is a matter of faith, then you’re abusing the word.

          8. Lena! The Preface?Please have some milk and cookies and take a little nap. It will help. Trust me.

            Your loving little hyoid.

          9. I bet I’m bettered read in the bible than you are. In fact, I bet most atheists are better read in the bible than those who claim to follow it.

            In fact, for many, it’s the very reason they became atheists.

            I am more moral than the god in your book. And you probably are too. Would you create a life knowing there is a the potential it can suffer forever?

            The truth is much more awe inspiring than that book, I assure you. It’s far more comprehensible once you aren’t afraid to learn it too.

        1. Reading the Bible was what caused me to reject Christianity as a teenager, long before I knew much about science.

          1. According to “The Secret”, you create your own reality– so if you don’t have a puppy, you have no one to blame but your own poor visualization skills.


  21. Does evolution explain how life came to be on earth? In college, we were taught that there was a study by Standford researchers where they identified the odds of life on earth beginning from absolutely nothing, then from uni-celled organisms becoming the complex animals and plants we see today. The odds of that happening apparently, is the same odds as a hurricane passing through a junkyard, and leaving a fully functioning jetplane. In other words, it is so minute that it is almost 100% impossible.

    Evolution has its merits. And it should be taught NOT as truth, but as a theory. It is ASSUMED to have happened based on certain data. To claim that EVOLUTION is TRUE, according to this blog post title, is arrogant and uninformed to say the least.

    1. Evolution does not even TRY to explain the beginnings of life on earth. Your argument is nonsense. Wow, you bring up the stupid junkyard stupidity to show how ignorant you are. Get an education, please.

      1. Then what does it explain? Are you suggesting some god put us here as some proto-type-basic life form? If we go by that, then ethics are really JUST decided by the culture, meaning you could get away with whatever you’d like so long as the society allowed. That’s good and fine when the society is “good” (in quotes since if there is no absolute standard, good is ultimately relative), history has told us how terrible humans can be.

        Further, if you believe that a god put us here through that process, would it really be a god? Which god? If not a god, then who? Where did evolution come from? It’s either a god or some supernatural force of some sort, or evolution through big bang, life out of non-life, and that whole bit.

        1. As for the conflation of evolution and abiogenesis theories, and why creationism or catastrophism isn’t reasonable theories here, see my earlier comments.

          To argue that processes or methods have moral consequences is the naturalistic fallacy. Look it up.

      2. No, Foxboy, your comprehension is poor or you are malicious. I did not suggest anything of the sort. Science does not know the answer and religion hasn’t got a prayer of a chance to answer it.

        You put up a straw man argument to knock it down which is not very productive or meaningful.

    2. To claim that god exists and that you know what he wants is arrogant. To claim an invisible man poofed people into existence as part of some divine plan (that you are privvy too) is arrogant.

      Gravity is a theory too. It is also a fact. A scientific theory is the best explanation for the observed facts. Atomic theory is also a fact… as are atoms. Germ theory is a fact. So is pate tectonics… it’s also both a theory and a fact that the planets in our solar system rotate around the sun which is just another star out of trillions.

      Here: the very un-arrogant Carl Sagan can give your arrogant presumptuous self a clue. http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-522726029201501667#

      Did you hear him?

      “Evolution is a fact; it really happened.” It’s as true as the earth is round. Not believing it or understanding it has no bearing on the truth of it.

      It’s your indoctrinators that are arrogant, my dear.

      The only controversy is manufactured by those who want you to believe you are saved so long as you believe a particular magic story about how species came to be.

      I suggest Nova’s program for teaching evolution http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/beta/evolution/intelligent-design-trial.html

      It gives a well rounded explanation of what scientists think, and the way fundamentalist religious types want to confuse understanding on the topic.

      Until you have a clue as to what a scientific theory is and how it compares to a creation myth (of which there are millions), I suggest you stick to sites that cater to your magical beliefs and not the facts which you seem poorly equipped to handle.

  22. To Brian – the atheist. I have a quote for you from a debate: “Far more people have been killed through atheists than through all the religious wars put together. Thousands died in the Inquisition; millions died under Mao, and under Stalin and Pol Pot. There is a home for atheists in the world today—it’s called North Korea. I don’t know any atheists who want to go there. I’d much rather live under Tony Blair, or even George Bush.”

    Or in current times – even under Obama – who is a professing Christian.

    I envy the faith of atheists – to have so much faith that they believe that the complexity of organisms are due to accidents is great. It’s like believing that spilling water will create such a complex building as the White House. It takes a lot of faith to believe in that. Where is common sense when it’s needed?

    1. No, that quote is not even close to being true. None of those killed that you claim were done by atheists. Could your statement be more inane? You need an education in communication. Spewing lies does not win you debate points.

    2. Francesca, millions died during the conquista of the Americas, all in God’s name. North Korea is based on a personality cult. It’s a religion. But even if atheism, which is a negative idea (no god’s exist) could build a positive framework it still wouldn’t make your religion true.

      . It’s like believing that spilling water will create such a complex building as the White House. You’ve seen stalactites and stalactmites then? 🙂

    3. I love to post this every time someone brings up atheists killing people – did you know that Stalin was declared the “the divinely anointed leader of [Russia’s] armed and cultural forces” by the Russian Orthodox Church?

      Further, of course Obama professes to be a Christian – people like you would absolutely never vote for him at all if he didn’t, so obviously the democratic party isn’t going to pick an outspoken atheist for their Presidential run.

    4. As much fun as it is to respond to cut and paste arguments from fundie websites…

      One small part of what you said caught my attention though.

      To refer to North Korea as an ‘atheist’ state is so beyond ludicrous. If you actually knew what you were talking about instead of parroting talking points you couldn’t possibly, in any good conscience, harbour that opinion. North Korea is a Christian fundamentalist wet dream; the totalitarian state that must envitably flow from an omniscient being in power.

      Please read ANY investigative journalism regarding the functioning of that state and check yourself. If you learn anything from the experience please let it be that you should at the very least investigate the questions that you bring up from the sources you’re taking them from…

    5. Another lie brought to you by theists.

      People do not kill people because of the invisible beings they don’t believe in.

      People DO kill other people when they think that is what god wants– (i.e. the Inquisition)– and god seems to want a lot of killing. Of course, I guess it’s not really dying– it’s just the beginning of eternity eh? That’s why he could so easily kill his kid (who was really him).

      You really need to get a clue and quit repeating your brainwashing here. Just because some preacher guy told you something, doesn’t make it true.

      Do you know there have been ZERO murderous Scientology regimes. And every single serial killer has not been a Scientologist! Per your stellar argument, you should join Scientology! Tom Cruise is surely more successful than you. And pardon me, but he seems a lot smarter too.

      Ugh… You are a parrot of the stupidest creationist stupidity… either your religion has made you mind numbingly stupid or you have stayed religious in adulthood because you were too stupid to think your way out.

      Ugh, do you ever say anything original, or do you just repeat the creationist pap that someone vomited into your head because to your simple mind these things sound deep and clever.

      (Let Francesca be an example as to what can happen if you home-school your kids, folks).

      I’ve been hanging around smart people on the internet so long, I had forgotten how very stupid so many religious people are. (And the dumb ones spawn the most!)

  23. I am an atheist, but I really think this conflating of evolution and atheism, that I see so much of on this blog, is counter-productive. We can debate until the end of time whether there is a god and find no way of resolving the question, but evolution is a fact. It can be resolved simply by opening our eyes.

    And please spare me the accommodationist diatribe.

    1. Interestingly, I know of some atheists who don’t accept evolution; they are of the “if I can’t understand it it must be BS” variety. They do exist.

    2. We can debate until the end of time whether there is a god and find no way of resolving the question,

      The problem with that claim is that it is manifestly erroneous, which can be seen by simple testing. There are many types of gods that doesn’t pass testing. Then the matter becomes of defining a god so it can’t be tested. No such god exist in any belief system.

      Reversely, the theory that material systems are all there is does pass testing. (As does the theory that science is based on precisely testing.) So FWIW the question is resolvable and resolved. Vic Stenger does this, for one.

      Whether it is an acceptable resolution is another matter. I guess there is a social problem with accepting that science really does reject gods as well as it does all other forms of magic. But to argue that this is inherently good or bad is to make the naturalistic fallacy. What we need is to observe the consequences before we make judgment. And accommodationists tries their best to prevent testing here.

      The analysis of “accommodationism” seems apt – it is used here, it is blocking progress, and it isn’t observed to work as stated.

      1. Unfortunately, Torbjorn, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. So, as I said, you can debate god for eternity without resolution (unless, of course, someone’s god is empirically refutable, such as a god that supposedly created the earth 6 thousand years ago in its current form.)

    3. I think that conflating evolution with atheism is something that creationists do.

      I think most evolutionists would be absolutely fine with never discussing supernatural entities or events.

      It’s just that the main reason that we are forced to discuss such things is because the very reason there are creationists… is because some peoples’ belief in god hinges on evolution not being true… that is they cannot accept evolution, because to them (see Lena, Foxboy and Francesca) their salvation depends on evolution being a lie.

      Ken Miller was on our side in the Dover trial. Many fundies would call him and any other evolutionist an atheist (including Francis Collins) rather than consider what it is they have to say about evolution.

  24. From the review by Sam Harris of Why Evolution is True:

    “But Coyne has delivered much more than the latest volley in our “culture war”; he has given us an utterly fascinating, lucid, and beautifully written account of our place in the natural world. If you want to better understand your kinship with the rest of life, this book is the place to start.”

    And to me, this is how science and spirituality can connect, if you are so inclined. Not via religious dogma, but through the experience of awe & wonder gained through an understanding of the world and reality around us.

    And with that bit, I always find myself torn between both sides reading comment threads like this. Ultimately, I’m very disappointed that the argument against evolution/for God in these comments, coming from the religious perspective, seems to water down to a tidbit that a person of religious faith summed up nicely as “if you win, we lose nothing! If we win, you lose everything!” This is such a juvenile argument, it’s embarrassing to me as someone who wants to see a sense of respect still reserved for the spiritual experience.

    But what I wanted to add to this thread was this: I don’t think you have to throw out the idea of mystical or spiritual experiences as being something that has value even if we can conclude that God probably doesn’t exist, especially the idea of a creator God with anthropomorphic values, through reason and critical thinking.

    Some of the ideas presented in Andrew Newburgs “How God Changes Your Brain” book explains this well, such as information on how meditation and focusing on the positive can have real, measurable, positive changes in life, experiences which could credibly be called religious in nature, and why and how it’s all tied together with religion and its effect on the brain.

  25. There is an AP story citing your blog. I just want to thank the AP for letting me know where to buy a better biology textbooks for my children, ones that present both side of the evolution story. I will pick up both books and review them.

    1. There is no ‘both sides’ of the evolution story. There is only evolution. ID, creationism and whatever else may be wandering around is not only false it is damaging and full of lies. Buy Jerry’s book if you want a ‘better’ book for biology.

      1. So you’re saying evolution is true? That it did occur? Can you prove that? No! You can definitely give me evidence for evolution, but you can’t prove it outright. You must assume it to be true based on current observations. The question is, though, is what we’re seeing now how it was before?

        1. Okay, after reading this, you simply have to be trolling. I refuse to believe you’re really this stupid.

          1. Oh, but if he is really RayComfort, he could be that stupid; stupid like a fox, making $$$$ selling books and etc… to the credulous. ergo, foxboy.

        2. Of course I’m saying evolution is true. Just go to a proper museum and you’ll see that evolution is true. Keep your eyes and mind open, look at the world properly it becomes pretty obvious if you do that. Then of course read and understand, ask questions. Stop having a small mind.

        3. Science doesn’t “assume”, see my comments on testing.

          OTOH, the idea of “catastrophism” is extra-ordinary and need extra-ordinary evidence (and there is none), also discussed by me previously.

          1. Science makes testable predictions. How many generations, or, in a statistical sense, what range of number of generations, G1 to G2, will it take species S1 to evolve into species S2, in an environment E.

            Evolution is a story that fits cherry picked observations into a narrative.

        4. Yes. It has been proven. It just cannot be understood by stupid people and/or those who believe they are saved for not believing it.


          Evolution is as true as the earth is round.

          There is no evidence that any invisible man poofed any creature into existence “as is”– much less all of them.

          You have to be religiously brainwashed to believe such a silly thing.

      2. Read Jerry’s book, Foxboy. Can’t you understand that simple declarative? Educate yourself.

  26. Let’s consider Vitamin C. (I don’t know whether Dr. Coyne covered this in his book.) Humans, like most primates and the fruit bat, have to consume fresh fruits and vegetables in order to acquire this nutrient. All other vertebrates manufacture Vitamin C themselves. We simians carry a mutation which screws up one step in the manufacturing process.

    If such a mutation were to occur in an animal which does not eat copious quantities of fresh fruit, like a carnivore or a grazer, it would not live long enough to mate, and the mutation wouldn’t be passed along. In simians and the fruit bat in their tropical habitats the mutation has nearly no effect, since their diets supply the missing nutrient.

    Natural selection neatly explains why this defect persists in simians and fruit bats. Creationism suggests that the defect is one of the results of Adam’s sin, but this doesn’t explain why other apes and monkeys share the same mutation, unless the Fall was a very long time ago, and doesn’t explain the fruit bat at all.

  27. Science is a Theory. It survives on what it assumes to be a fact. HOWEVER; just like a good story there are different ways to make it to an an ending. what happened to tadpoles? If science in any form cannot come up with a plausible idea they cannot get funding for expeditions,DNA testings.etc. Like all theories there are some factual basis then anything past this is imagination or should I say Darwinisms…….

    1. Science is NOT a theory, it is a process.
      It does not assume facts. It observes evidence.

      Scientists admit when they make mistakes and correct them as they proceed, unlike religion which is unknowing and obstinate and denies evidence.

      Your statements show that you need a basic education in logic, critical thinking and the science process.

    2. It is statements like this that make Christians look like idiots. As mentioned science is a process that collects data from natural events and proposses conclusions to help answer the question of why.

      I am an evangelical Christian w/ a PhD in Biochemistry and it kills me to see comments like this. If you want respect you need to earn it through knowledge. We are called to serve the Lord with all our heart, soul and mind. So often Christians forget to focus on using their mind to love and serve Christ.

      I encourage you to read “Scandal of the Evangelical Mind” by Mark Noll. This is written by an evangelical Christian who addresses the absence of American evangelicals serving the Lord through their mind.

      1. Every time I come across well-educated Christians, I have to ask why they believe.

        I’m genuinely fascinated by how you people achieve the total compartmentalisation of your minds.

        1. bsk, I think that is an incredibility belittling statement with very little merit.

          Francis Collins, the head of the NIH and a very well respected scientist is a believer in Christ and His resurrection while at the same time also believes in evolution. Throughout history many of today’s fields of science were started by strong Christians. Gregor Mendel for instance is the “Father of Genetics” and was a Monk at the time he made his infamous pea studies.

          I feel many could also state that it is amazing that many scientists are able to compartmentalize their minds when seeing first hand the beautiful complexity of life (such as something as small as buffering of blood)and not believe that there was some “creator” that set this into motion. Even if that motion has been going on for ~13 billion years.

          1. Francis Collins believes in Jesus because he saw a waterfall.

            Francis Collins believes in evolution because he understands the results of 150 years of research.

            One of these is based on things humanity has found in reality; the other is based on things a human has found in his mind.

            Would you still be using Francis Collins for support if he had seen a unicorn frozen in that waterfall, and decided to believe in them? If he thought that UFOs had abducted him in that remote spot, and decided to start searching for them?

            You only believe he is a respectable authority because his delusions are similar to yours.

          2. I’m curious as to why a smart person who understands science believes as well.

            I am surprised by the defensive reaction.

            Maybe there is no good reason, and shaming others into silence is all there is.

            Also, how is that a smart person “picks” one brand of supernatural belief while rejecting others. What makes you see one “woo” as true– while the others are not worth investigating further or “believing in”.

            Why Christian and not a reincarnationist, for example? Do you believe in heaven and hell? How can you feel or experience anything without a brain? If a soul is real why doesn’t it step in when a brain is damaged to do the thinking, feeling, remembering, or whatever it is you imagine it will do after you die?

            I have lots of questions for smart theists, but there doesn’t seem to be any way to keep them from getting defensive.

            And yet, if they really believe in their faith… why should it matter if I am incredulous. Why should my questions or lack of belief matter.

            In science, the truth doesn’t rely on who does or doesn’t believe it. Why would a god care about such things?

    3. It’s been a few years since college. I meant to say evolution is a theory. However Fletcher seems to be the idiot since there was no mention of being a christian so you might look how you feel,( An idiot). I believe in Jesus and know he exists . But I stay away from foaming at the mouth idiots that really do not bring Christ to the people but actually turn them away . I also commend Lena. And I do believe knowlege of christ is good and will bring people closer to God. So fletcher calm your self and learn to teach not mouth off.

      1. oh so you are not a Christian making these sorts of comments…no problem then say all you want.

        In changing your opening statement to Evolution being a theory and not science you are certainly not making as sweeping of an embarrassing statement for Christians…oh wait you don’t claim to be one so never mind.

  28. Well I the good news is that more people will be coming to the blog now, some happy to find it. Unfortunately there is going to be an increase in those who wish to remain ignorant.

    I didn’t read all the comments (116!), It appears we’ll be dealing with a lot of arguments that have been dealt with before many many times.

    Here’s something for all you Christians coming to this site.

    Christian perspective has as much clout in science and a Muslim or Jewish perspective, in other words it doesn’t!

    Deal with it.

    Science is atheistic in principle whether you like it or not. There are no gods in science, no miracles and no wishful thinking (prayer).

    I find it highly amusing how so many people use science on a daily basis and then have the gull to knock back some science because they don’t understand it. Tell me why you’re using a computer then? I’m guarantying that you don’t understand how they work, or how electricity works or any other science that is common place but yet you’re happy to go about using it. How nice. Why aren’t you attacking those sciences ?

    Ignorance is not bliss, knowledge is. Being ignorant isn’t a crime but it can be fixed by something called education.

    There is lots and lots of evidence for evolution it all comes down to if you want to know about it or not. You can complain what you don’t like about it but it doesn’t change that fact that it’s true!

  29. In all this blither and bother from the God bothering hordes I think I heard somebody mention something about the lack of decent scientific material for home schoolers. Certain parties have noted this lack and set out to fill the hole with indecent material for home-schoolers, and so put home schooling in a rather bad odor.

    Now considering that some people see home-schooling as the better alternative to an all-to-often poor public education, where does one find decent home-schooling material to take the place of the indecent?

    Sometimes people see home schooling as preferable to public schooling. Sometimes home schooling is truly the only way to go in full or in part (my mom taught me to read for example, because the San Diego City schools were not equipped to handle dyslexia in 1959). Why not acknowledge that fact and provide good, solid material for homeschoolers to use when teaching their kids.

    How about a grass roots effort to integrate educational materials into Why Evolution is True so the book could be used as a text and taught to children being homeschooled? Would it really be so hard and so unproductive?

    What say we make it easier for people to do it their way, and get it right?

    1. I agree that there needs to be better access to quality scientific materials.

      Fortunately many mainstream publishers will now sell to home school families at a discounted price, if you include documentation proving you are home schooling. Normally, a copy of the paperwork you provide to your local school board is all you need. Things ARE slowly improving.

      I was fortunate enough to have help and support in my searches. In my note below, I list some of the resources I have found.

  30. Wow, that article posted yesterday has 1,581 comments! Fortunately the top ones are from the good guys.

    It is a good article indeed, but it doesn’t rate a “nice”. It is unfortunately promulgating the common but erroneous idea that there are two “sides of [that] argument” that Lovan let’s a creationist end with and that this is a matter to “fits [their] beliefs” to.

    Facts doesn’t take sides.

  31. @Brian

    You’re fighting the good fight there buddy. But it would be remarkable if you changed anybody’s mind. Maybe you could suggest to them that they actually use the same assumptions that scientists use simply to read the bible. If they couldn’t assume reliability of the language that they learned to interpret the writing in the book they read, they could have no certainty about anything written therein.

    1. I must’ve been bored yesterday. I have no doubt my meagre arguing skills are not up to the challenge. Even someone like Jerry would struggle. But he’s probably sensible enough to spend his time on more productive activities.

  32. I read about this on MSNBC as one of my friends put a link on facebook. I saw your name listed and thought “oh boy; the nutbags will be out in full force”.

    But there is good news: in my probability and statistics class, I used the “20 dice” example from your review of Behe’s work (The Great Mutator which appeared in The New Republic) to demonstrate the difference between the geometric and negative binomial distributions and they seemed to like that example. Of course, these mere mostly science and mathematics majors.

  33. Wile countered that Coyne “feels compelled to lie in order to prop up a failing hypothesis (evolution). We definitely do not lie to the students. We tell them the facts that people like Dr. Coyne would prefer to cover up.”

    Yeah! Shame on you, Jerry Coyne! And your failing hypothesis, too! 😉

  34. I agree that it is difficult for home schoolers who are looking for good science curriculum materials. We have used a combinbation of K-12 materiials (Which has a good solid base in chemistry and life science materials),and mainstream text books.

    We have found that Text books from Harcourt Brace, McMillan, and Prentiss Hall are all available on Amazon. We have also found that materials from Usbourne are very good as supplements.

    After searching online, we were able to also find a non-secular home school support/social group that was near enough to participate with.

    I would recommend also joining an on-line discussion group that is non-secular as well. They can provide many resources and help with finding good materials. About.com and Bellaonline.com were both good resources as well.

    I appreciate that your blog addresses the importance of evolution and scientific method. There needs to be more clarity and reason in the world.

  35. I see that there have been over a 135 comments so nobody will probably even make it to the bottom to read my comment, but just in case 😉

    I am an Evangelical Christian who believes in the virgin birth, the death burial and resurrection, and that it is through Christ that we obtain grace and mercy.

    On the other hand, I have a PhD in Biochemistry, did a post-doc at a very well respected research institution in Texas (UT Southwestern) and am now a professor. I would like both the Christians and non-Christians to know that you can be a Christian and believe in evolution and you can be an evolutionist and be a Christian. This is a realized truth that is finally growing in understanding and popularity.

    I joke around that both sides of the aisle hate me b/c I feel that many Christians have denounced Evolution without understanding anything about it and therefore make the Christian faith look like a faith for the intellectually weak. While on the other hand I feel most scientists have done the scientific community a disservice by only looking at evidence through an “old earth” point of view. I personally believe in an old earth, but as a scientist I think it is beneficial to look at data from both old and young earth points of view.

    The Theory of Evolution has given us tremendous insight into the biochemistry of humans and embryonic development. This is true b/c through the theory scientists 100 years ago or so said if it is an accurate theory then we should be able to study other organisms besides humans to learn about humans. This then pushed forward the use of Model Systems. Now we use Drosophila (fruit flies), C. elegans (small worms), zebra fish (find in most aquariums), E. coli (common bacteria), Saccharomyces cerevisiae (Baker’s yeast/Brewer’s yeast) and Mus muscus (mice) to understand how the human body works. The theory of evolution has been very powerful in moving science forward very quickly. Therefore, even if you believe it is inadequate in explaining life’s origins you can certainly see its benefits to science.

    On the flip side, I feel the scientific community would often benefit from looking at data from a “young earth” point of view. Allow me to give an example. In terms of climate change we would find the conclusions to be much more significant if viewed from a younger earth point of view. The reason for this is if we have significantly changed the climate in 50 years and the earth is only say 15000 years old then that is a pretty serious trend. I think this data could be viewed in some very serious conclusions if looked at through a young earth point of view. Now of course I realize that at first glance this is insane to many people b/c to the scientist I’m saying there is value in young earth views and to the Christian (many of which are Republican politically) are distraught to think that the young earth point of view could strengthen the argument for climate change. The point that I trying to make isn’t climate change it is that there is value in viewing scientific data under both theories of origin/creation history.

    I have said a lot and will simply close by encouraging my fellow Christians who find science to be lies or what have you to read two books. One is “The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind” by Mark Noll and the other is “The Language of God” by Francis Collins…who is the head of the NIH (National Institute of Health) and a Christian and believer of Evolution.

    1. I think this data could be viewed in some very serious conclusions if looked at through a young earth point of view.

      Since there is ample evidence of our planet being billions of years old and absolutely no evidence of a young earth, then this thinking is quite muddled.

      Using your argument we should believe in dragons since the Harry Potter books are so popular and on so many people’s minds these days.

      1. “Since there is ample evidence of our planet being billions of years old and absolutely no evidence of a young earth, then this thinking is quite muddled.”

        This is my point exactly. There is evidence for a young earth that is scientifically based. I again personally believe that the evidence for an old earth outweighs that of a young earth.

        Like I said everybody hates me 🙂

        1. PS: No one here hates you. You are a human being that deserves respect. That is not necessarily true of your ideas though.

        2. Well, I made it to the bottom, but, Fletcher, what you say makes no sense. You quote NewEnglandBob saying that there is no evidence for a young earth, and the you say, “That’s my point exactly. There is evidence for a young earth.” And then you complain that everyone hates you.

          That’s probably an exaggeration. Perhaps everyone thinks you are simply confused, since that’s what you plainly are. If the evidence for an old earth (I mean, we’re talking apples and oranges here – a few thousand vs. billions of years!) outweighs the evidence for a young earth, in what sense is there scientifically based evidence for a young earth?

          But, if you have Ph.D. in biochem, and believe the things you do (like resurrections of dead bodies), thinking they are compatible with your science, perhaps you should read a bit more too. Lena has some excuse for her ignorance, though she could rectify some of that by reading a bit, but you have no excuse at all. Before you go back into the lecture hall, perhaps you should sort out your thoughts a bit more. You will benefit, and your students will doubtless benefit too.

          1. Fletcher,

            I got to the bottom, too! I’ve got a PhD (but in English, not science) and I have been meaning to give Mark Knoll’s (is that right?) book a read.

            There is so much hostility–post that call you ignorant (like the above post). I get how difficult it is to believe in Christianity and still believe in post-enlightenment science, too.

            Anyway, good luck fighting the fight. No one gets really cranky if a medievalist is a Christian… or at least not as cranky as they do with Christian Scientists (or, perhaps for the sake of clarity, scientists who are Christians).

          2. Yes, certainly want to use the phrase Christians who are scientists and not “Christian Scientists”. and it is Mark Noll not Mark Knoll.

            Obvious the term “hate” is an over exaggeration, but the point is taken quite well when I use it, and the evidence is already being seen.

            In terms of providing scientific evidence for a young earth. I am not a proponent of a young earth theory myself. I find that the evidence is over whelming to the old earth argument. I will simply state two potential examples. One is Leventhal’s principle that indicates the time it would take to break a peptide bond without the help of an enzyme. Another is the dust on the moon is must less then anticipated based on the widely held view of the age of the earth and that of the moon as well. There are many many more, of which most, if not all, will have a counter old earth argument. I find the old earth arguments to be more logical and sound. I therefore teach evolution as the basis for our current taxonomy etc. My point however, is that there is evidence for both sides. What we find instead is that people use their world view to validate one side and not the other. This then creates a paradigm in science where we as Scientists fight tooth and nail to not look at all the data and only focus on that which fulfills our world view.

            I personally find the Theory of Evolution to be an excellent theory to base conclusions on when one finds an amino acid that is “conserved through evolution”. Through evolution one can hypothesize that this amino acid is important in the 3D conformation of the protein or perhaps part of the active site itself (such as a serine in the catalytic triad of serine proteases).

            As for homeschooling what I find as a professor is that home schooled students are by far the most polar students. What I mean is that when you find out a student is homeschooled you hold your breath knowing that student will either be the top 10% of your class or the bottom 10% and almost never in between…this is for science classes by the way.

            I have a student who was home schooled and is a senior and just scored a 1490 on his GRE. He will be going to grad school next fall and I am certain will do great.

          3. I got ahead of my self…Leventhal’s principle is the time it would take for a protein to fold correctly through complete random movements made possible by the Ramachandran plot.

            Just for a fun factoid and clarity the time it would take to hydrolyze a peptide bonds w/o enzymes is ~1000 years

          4. On the spontaneous hydrolysis of peptide bonds, Wolfenden found a half-life of around 500 years (J Am Chem Soc 1996 p 6105). But that is in controlled neutral conditions, and any autocatalytic processes were carefully eliminated.
            Natural conditions are never this controlled, and there are a lot more catalysts than enzymes. Small molecules, dissolved metals and even inorganic surfaces (clays, minerals) can act as catalysts. Just because the currently used system did not exist doesn’t mean it is the only way things could happen.

            By the way, just because a protein fold is difficult to achieve in isolation does not mean it takes a long time to get there in the presence of for example a membrane. Moreover, the ‘proper’ fold of an amino-acid sequence does not need to be the only possible conformation with some activity.

    2. Have you looked at Scientology’s really old earth view (over 60 trillion years old?) or do you just bias your favor towards Christian nonscientific viewpoints?

  36. What’s all the fuss about anyway!? There are a lot of different reasons a family decides to home school. There are also representatives of families who practice different religious beliefs that home school. The Christian curriculums came about because there was a need among the Christian home school movement years ago. I’m not sure why people who do not believe in Creation fuss about the Christian home school science curriculum. The simple solution is to just not use it. That is a part of what makes America special…Our freedom. Our school district offers home school families the use of their books at home if one chooses.Those books are not Creation based. Go to your district, use theirs. Better yet, make your own (and sell it). The home school movement will continue to grow across the board and there will be families looking for what the families in the Yahoo article want. We actually do home school and teach Creation.We use Abeka science but we also get many science books from the library which are evolution based. It really does not confuse our children, it helps them to think things through. Our children will grow and will become adults and determine their beliefs just like we all did. Do we all do everything or believe exactly the way our parents did? Even if you do ,it would have come about once you were an adult and decided to think for yourself and arrive at a conclusion. After 11 years of homechooling my children so far,I found beyond having a choice in what they are taught,I just love being around them.

    1. After 11 years of homechooling my children so far,I found beyond having a choice in what they are taught,I just love being around them.

      That’s a rather selfish reason for putting your children at such a disadvantage in the modern world. One more reason homeschooling should not be allowed.

  37. Lena and the other Christians on this thread should be honest and admit that, in reality, they do not live as the bible says they should. Nobody could in the modern age.

    For example, they do not follow the biblical instruction “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live”. Probably they don’t believe there are such things as witches.

    If Lena heard a voice telling her to offer her eldest child as a sacrifice, would she obey? If so, she would be arrested for child abuse. But she, like most Christians, Jews and Moslems, believes that things were very different a few thousand years ago, and that the man who obeyed the voice in his head, Abraham, was a very holy and admirable chap.

    The Book of Leviticus states very clearly that homosexuals must be put to death. Yet I doubt whether Lena goes round murdering gays.

    One of the best retorts to the bible was, of course, written by Mark Twain. Referring to that infamous verse about witches, Twain wrote:

    “During many ages there were witches. The Bible said so. the Bible commanded that they should not be allowed to live. Therefore the Church, after eight hundred years, gathered up its halters, thumb-screws, and firebrands, and set about its holy work in earnest. She worked hard at it night and day during nine centuries and imprisoned, tortured, hanged, and burned whole hordes and armies of witches, and washed the Christian world clean with their foul blood.

    “Then it was discovered that there was no such thing as witches, and never had been. One does not know whether to laugh or to cry…..There are no witches. The witch text remains; only the practice has changed. Hell fire is gone, but the text remains. Infant damnation is gone, but the text remains. More than two hundred death penalties are gone from the law books, but the texts that authorized them remain.”

    Twain was slightly too optimistic, since those regarded as witches (including children) are still being murdered. by people who call themselves Christians, in Nigeria.

    1. Keep in mind,Paul, that killing was necessary in that the Hebrew people were required to be blameless and to follow certain laws. God was saying, if you want to be the group I chose, you must be as good as I require you to be. Unfortunately, we humans cannot live up to God’s standard no matter how hard we try. That’s why Jesus, the Son of God, died on the cross. Because God is a Just God, he must punish sin. Jesus took that punishment for us, and is ready to give you that forgiveness if you believe in Him.

      The fact that Christian crusades, witch burnings occurred doesn’t conflict with what I’ve said. We Christians can look at them and say that they were terrible things that they did, things that didn’t need to happen. We’re still human, fallible and ridden with mistakes. When we start going farther and farther away from the Bible, we start making more and more mistakes. While Leviticus does require killings, it is in the context that sin must be punished and rooted out from the society. Once again, Jesus (God in human form) took that punishment for us. Thus Jesus was the sacrifice that only He could be.

      On another note, we can assume that if there is a voice in our heads telling us to kill someone, we can assume it to be from something other than The One True God on the basis that Jesus was the sacrifice He needed.

      1. I am laughing at the picking and choosing and the bending over backwards of Foxboy. It is wonderful to watch religion of the current moment be selected. That is why there are 18000 sects of Christianity.

      2. WHY were those so terrible things? Didn’t jesus say that he had come not to bring peace, but a sword?

        1. They were terrible things because that kind of conquering was Islamic in its nature.

          As Christians, we are called to be more than conquerors, and show the same love and grace that Jesus showed on the cross.

          Now, we Christians don’t do a great job of that (few people do). But, thankfully, Christianity isn’t about what we do, but about who we put our trust in.

          IA, given the context of that verse, the sword was probably not literal.

          Judaism says that Jesus was the savior spoken of. Jesus said He is Savior. Naturally, there would be those who believe and those who didn’t and thought they were being totally heretical.

          1. No Foxboy, you misquote Judaic scripture.

            “Eliyahu HaNavi was one of the very few to be taken up to Heaven without dying. He is known as the Angel of the Covenant, and according to Jewish Tradition, he is present at each circumcision, when a new Jewish soul is brought into the World.

            Eliyahu is the harbinger of the Mashiach. (Messiah)

            For when Moshiach comes, the world will rise to perfection. Moshiach is not the relocation of Jews from many places to one place; Moshiach is not the eternal domination of one people and the eternal damnation of all others: Moshiach is the concept to end all concepts. Moshiach is Utopia. Moshiach is the answer to “Why are we here?” Moshiach will not just redeem the Jewish people from exile—he will redeem mankind from meaninglessness, and teach the purpose of life to the universe. No more school shootings, no more pain, no more war, no more rat race.

            Guess what, Foxboy? That didn’t happen.

          2. Foxboy, there were very specific prophecies that the Jewish Messiah was supposed to fulfill. Do you know how many Jesus fulfilled? Zero. Not a single one. He fulfilled one or two sentences out of whole passages, he fulfilled a miss-translations or out-of-context parts of a prophecies and non-prophecies that had nothing to do with the messiah (for instance where they confused “virgin” with “maiden”, or where he went to Egypt), he made excuses for not fulfilling others, but he did not fully fulfill any of the prophecies the messiah was supposed to fulfill. He didn’t even have the right name (hint: he was supposed to be called “Emanuel”, which he wasn’t).

    2. Paul,
      I do not hear voices, nor would I listen to them if I did. There are witches today and others that believe they have powers(though they have no power of their own).
      I do not have to understand everything in order to believe it. Truth doesn’t rely on me discovering it, it just is. Most of you require that you gather evidence and make reasonable conclusions, but admit you could have made mistakes.
      “Facts doesn’t take sides.”,as quoted above…what is a fact? It is a fact that you “weigh information and make assumptions based on observable evidence.”
      Now, if these “facts” drawn from scientific discovery is one in which many of you trust in… can this method be an inadequete method of drawing conclusions that are seen as true and fact?

      In out justice system…we are innocent until “proven” guilty. If any of you were mistakenly on trial for murder, it is a certainty that none of you would want circumstancial evidence to be admitted as evidence. You undoubltedly would not want circumstancial evidence to “sway the verdict” of the jurors. If witnesses were presented that say they saw a man which resembled you at the scene of the crime,and that you had blood on your hands, based on your argument…. it is reasonable to conclude that you are guilty of murder…..reasonable but not true or fact!

      1. Lena wrote:
        There are witches today and others that believe they have powers(though they have no power of their own).

        Can you point these witches out and name them? Even pointing to just one witch would be helpful.

          1. Oh please, Lena, the witches that were burnt in the 17th century were believed to have signed a pact with the devil in blood, fly on a broomstick to the witch sabbath in the forest (destroying the harvest in the process) and there sacrifice human babies. The self-professed “witches” you point to are a bunch of hippies who engage in silly rituals burning incense and dancing naked, or so. Nothing supernatural to see here, please move on.

  38. “…all by people who have somehow failed to apprehend the sophisticated theologies of Karen Armstrong and Terry Eagleton.” LMAO!!!! Love that!

  39. Sheesh. Lena sounds like my favorite nemesis over here in the fundamentalist part of WA state. Full of every misconception and proudly utters each one as if it hadn’t been refuted many times over…

  40. Adaptations add up to major changes. Lena: add 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1….a few billion times. Is that number a big change? Is that too difficult for you to understand?

    So,yes I know we share 98% of DNA with chimps and other primates and many other things in the world. That 2% is a big difference, is it not?

    You will be aware that DNA fingerprinting can identify one individual from another. There are clearly stretches of DNA which we don’t even share with our relatives (except identical twins) – the closer the relationship, the more ‘bands’ on our fingerprint we share. My children only share half my DNA fingerprint.

    It is said that we share about 60% of our genes with a banana. But you can see that such a statement can be very misleading.

    1. And your point is what? You concede that all life is related and that evolution is the path for those relationships and that we can see it every day in the lab? Good then. The massive amount of evidence from a dozen different disciplines is overwhelmingly indicative.

      1. I agree: “all life is related” because there is one creator.

        I do not believe:”evolution is the path for those relationships.”

        That is a HUGE conclusion to draw based on too many assumptions…..circumstantial evidence.

        1. But you have absolutely nothing for your conclusion. I base on evidence, you base it on myths and fairy tales. It is time to stop pretending you are educated Lena. You look incredibly stupid arguing from 3500 year old fears and 2000 year old fantasies.

        2. ok, Lena, go away and read about evolution; then come back when you know something about it.

          1. It sad and ironic,
            that this scientific method you hold so dear could convict you of a crime you didn’t commit. Maybe then you would be willing to see how TRUTH is truly absolute, and not just a bunch of evidence collected to PROVE a presumption.

          2. Truth may or may not be absolute. A better question is the following: How do you know what is or isn’t true?

            You’ve been presented a lot of evidence for the truth of evolution, Lena. It’s clear that you’ve invested a lot in rejecting evolution, and you’ve been brushing all this evidence aside with only very superficial criticisms. If you honestly care about what is true, you should take the advice of all these posters: Read Coyne’s “Why Evolution is True.” Or, if that smacks too much of self-promotion, read Dawkins’ “Greatest Show on Earth,” or any one of the other dozens of books on evolution written for the lay public.

            Educate yourself. These smug, self-satisfied aspersions you cast upon evolution are pathetic.

          3. It is sad an ironic, Lena, that you are spreading your anti-science propoganda using a tool that you got from science-
            the internet.

          4. Lena,

            I think Professor Coyne is right. Go away, read something about evolution – read Professor Coyne’s book, it’s great! – and then come back and talk about it.

            Meanwhile, I would like you to try to prove something that is absolutely true, and prove it absolutely. I know you think that some of your religious beliefs are absolute truths, but you have to prove that they are, not just say so. And, remember, you can’t just refer to the Bible, or to something someone has said. You have to provide all the proofs yourself. It’s hard than it looks.

          5. If you are very very lucky, you may one day come to be embarrassed of the ignorance and arrogance you’ve exhibited here.

        3. Flog those who educated you on evolution, and give them an extra whack for making you think you understand it.

          I think your cluelessness is unfixable at this point–as is often the case with those who imagine they are “saved” for what they “believe in”.

          Shame on those who put such ideas in your vulnerable mind.

    2. Egads… at least get a clue about the difference regarding DNA that codes for genes and the stuff we use to distinguish one human being from another!

      Ignorant people ought to read more and talk less if they want to ameliorate their ignorance.

      You are a very embarrassing spokesperson for homeschooling, Lena.

    3. Keep in mind that the similarities in DNA are focused solely in the regions of DNA that produce proteins. Most DNA sequences perform unknown sequences that have been labeled “Junk DNA.” Within this “junk DNA,” there may lie the differences between man and chimp.

      Also, don’t forget all the other animals that have similarities in DNA structure (like rats, for example, if I remember correctly, they share 92% similarity).

      Similarities don’t necessarily prove a common ancestor, though they do provide evidence for. They can also provide evidence for a creator that likes consistencies in His creatures.

      1. So you use the evidence for evolution to deny evolution. Cute, but wrong.

        You talk about these nebulous ‘kinds’. I presume that a rat and a human are different ‘kinds’. But when there is evidence of evolution between them, you deny it. Similarities and the evolving characteristics between all species DO necessarily prove a common ancestor.

        Your mentioning protein producing DNA vs ‘junk DNA is a specious argument. ALL DNA shows the relationships of evolution. There are similarities in ALL DNA.

      2. No, this is a flat-out-lie. The comparisons include the entire genome, coding and non-coding regions alike. The vast majority of differences lie in the non-coding regions. These regions do not affect the organism’s survival so you would expect, from evolution, that these would change much more rapidly than parts that do affect the organism, and that is exactly what we see, not only in humans vs chimpanzees but in all organisms. Many of the changes in coding regions are also neutral changes, they don’t have any affect on the proteins (or other molecules) coded for. You once again reveal your profound ignorance of the subject you presume to be judging.

        As for the similarities, yes all organisms are very similar. But the DNA of humans and chimpanzees is much, much more similar than the DNA of humans or chimpanzees and rats. And the DNA of rats, humans, and chimpanzees are much more similar to each other than to the DNA of fish, and all four of those are much more similar to each other than to the DNA of lobsters, all 5 of which are more similar to each other than the DNA of plants, all 6 of which are more similar than the DNA of bacteria, and so on. This goes both for coding regions of the DNA and non-coding regions, including non-coding regions like dead retrotransposons that we know for a fact have no effect on the organism whatsoever. The similarity between organism’s DNA matches the tree of life exactly, something that makes sense in light of evolution but makes no sense from a creationism standpoint. Even if you claim a creator might like to re-use functional aspects of the organism, it does not explain why more similar organism are also more similar in the non-functional aspects of their genomes.

        A good example of where evolution succeeds and creationism fails is the number of chromosomes humans and chimpanzees have. Chimpanzees have one more chromosome than humans do. Because we can’t just lose a large chunk of DNA like that, the only conclusion from an evolutionary standpoint is that two chromosomes present in chimpanzees fused in humans to form a single chromosome. Such chromosome fusions are not uncommon. Chromosomes have two very distinctive components, a centromere in the middle and telomeres on the 4 ends. If there was a chromosome fusion, the ends of two chromosomes should have stuck together, becoming the new middle of the chromosome. So we should expect to find one, and only one, chromosome in humans that has telomeres in the middle and two centromeres (one being inactive). This is exactly what we see. What is more, the genes in this chromosome exactly match the genes and locations of those genes in chimpanzees. The telomeres in the middle and extra centromere serve no purpose, telemores cannot do anything unless they are on the ends and the centromere is useless dead.

        This makes perfect sense in terms of evolution, but creationism has no reason we should expect to see humans possessing a fusion of two chimpanzee chromosomes.

    4. When we speak of similarities between species we are talking about the genes– that is, the coding reading of the DNA. Most of our DNA is junk DNA, however… it doesn’t code for anything so it picks up mutations easily. It’s these non-coding regions that are used to tell one person from another.

      This is exactly what you’d expect if evolution were true. It is hard to imagine a good reason for a god to give us long stretches of junk DNA (and the same useless pseudogenes and ERVS as our closest relatives) while making all of our coding DNA highly conserved if evolution were not a fact. If god poofed people and animals into existence “as is”, one has to wonder why he made it look so clearly like we evolved. All of our paternity and forensic testing is based on this fact. Darwin had never seen DNA when he came up with evolution.

      But I guess this is beyond someone who never really had much of a Biology education. What is misleading is your understanding of evolution. You seem to think you understand it much better better than you actually understand it.

      I feel like correcting and clarifying what you wrote but I think I’d be wasting my time. The parts where your kid differs from you is junk DNA… and he will have one allele that came from you and one that came from his mother which may or may not be identical to the allele that came from you. But this doesn’t mean half his DNA is the same. More than 99% is the same. The GENES are all or mostly all the same. it’s the “filler” that is a mix from you, your wife, and possible new mutations.

      Get it? I thought not. Just because you don’t understand things, doesn’t mean that evolution is misleading.

  41. wow, the creationists have come out strong in this thread. Prof Coyne obviously hit a sore spot with some people. The truth hurts sometimes!

    1. I wonder if some theists read other theists and feel embarrassed or wonder if they sound like them? Or maybe they all think they sound humble and rational unlike all those “other” theists posting here.

      Do the evolutionist theists that post here identify more with the other evolutionists (theist or not) or the other theists (evolutionists or not).

      I suspect that each of the creationists sees themselves as their own favorite poster on this blog commentary… and most of the evolutionists find multiple great posters that make them, laugh think, or learn.

      (I love these sorts of brouhahas.)

  42. I attended a southern Baptist fundamentalist Christian school for 16 years and read and studied earlier editions of the same textbooks in this news article. I might even still have some of them in my garage collecting dust. The books are obviously a joke and I’m glad the incessant daily indoctrination (including video lectures by Kent Hovind) didn’t take a strong enough hold on me to survive a true secular education. I just wish I could say the same for many of my friends.

    1. Well, it’s great to hear that “fundamentalist schooling” isn’t necessarily a permanent detriment to understanding.

      I have 3 questions for creationists:

      1. Does your faith in god hinge on evolution being false?

      2. If “macroevolution” actually occurred, would you WANT to know?

      3. Do religious evolutionists such as Francis Collins or Ken Miller(heck, even Michael Behe is forced to concede common descent)affect your acceptance of evolution in any way?

      1. 1. No.

        2. Yes. The question is, though, where did WE come from? If we came from chimps, then we either share the title of “Created in His image” with chimps, or “man” is something akin to a level of sophistication.

        3. No. Christian faith isn’t based on any other Christian, in the same way that scientists don’t agree on some subjects. In the same way scientists all have one thing in common (science) Christians, too, have one thing in common (Christ).

        1. 2. No scientists claim humans came from Chimps. This is just a straw man lie spewed by creationists spouted over and over again. This is just obtuseness.

  43. This is turning into one of PZ’s infinite threads! The way the topics keep getting extended. There’s someone who’s talking about witches now of all things! On a science blog! LOL!

    There’s so much here on this thread it’s simply astounding the level of ignorance of some people I did state earlier how easily some science seems to be accepted but others is doubtful because it’s not so obvious. Sadly evolution is one of those obvious ones but yet people like to disagree with it. I think it’s a wonderful and beautiful science but there’s so many people that seem to be offended by it. That’s truly sad.

  44. Why are fundamentalist Christians so upset about evolution, but not about other aspects of science that are also incompatible with the Bible?

    Basic Copernican astronomy, for example. The Bible was written by people who believed that the earth was the centre of the universe, and everything else went round it. So it made perfect sense to them that God could stop the sun in its tracks to allow Joshua to finish his battle.

    This example is rather embarassing for those who think the Bible is “inerrant”.

    Some Christians, fortunately, have learnt the lesson. The Catholic Church, for instance, by and large does not oppose evolution, because it got its fingers burnt over the Galileo scandal, and does not want to look stupid again. Fundamentalists, it seems, have no such inhibitions.

    Then there are more recent developments in science which the Bible writers could never have dreamed of – general relativity or quantum mechanics, for example.

    Why do people like Lena find evolution more threatening than the utterly godless world of quantum mechanics?

    1. Simply because scientists have a great deal of control over the society.

      Christianity is becoming somewhat of an endangered species on many fronts. The “if you’re Christian, you must be stupid,” train of thought certainly isn’t helping.

      Keep in mind that geo-centric universe idea was the popular idea at the time, and was debunked by science that came (Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler).

      The Church’s problem was buying into Ptolemy’s idea (which he proposed sometime around 150 AD, right around the time AFTER the Bible was finished).

      1. Christians make up 85% of the U.S. population. You cannot get elected to president without professing Christianity, in fact it is almost impossible to get elected to any office at all without being Christian. The first-ever openly atheist member of congress was elected just a few years ago (he is still the only one). Our holidays are decided by Christians, the day of the week we get off is decided by Christians. Fundamentalist Christians control the U.S. military and routinely force their beliefs and religious services on others. Christian ads and billboards are so ubiquitous that no one even notices them, but if an atheist puts up a billboard or ad simply saying that there are other atheists around then there are death threats, vandalism, and people walking off their jobs. Christmas trees are common, but secular holiday displays are stolen and thrown in ditches. The claim that Christians are an oppressed minority would be laughable if it weren’t used to justify further forcing of Christian ideas onto public life and verbal and even physical attacks against non-Christians.

  45. I haven’t read all 275 comments so maybe you’ve been around on this one once or more already:

    Why not ask Lena to explain some biological facts using creationism?

    Lena: why don’t you discuss the how and why of the recurrent laryngeal nerve in mammals? Or here’s a good one: Since you’re an expert on what can be done with DNA Fingerprinting, you must be a genetics whiz. So please explain pseudogenes and why the creator gave us genes to produce our own Vitamin C, but the one gene that codes for the enzyme that catalyzes the last step in the biochemical reaction has been shut down.

    This one temporarily de-railed my favorite creationist in my local newspaper’s comment threads. Cue an unrelated argument from the creationist playbook in 5….4…..3….

  46. It grieves me how ill-informed and poorly prepared most creationists and Christians tend to be when discussing anything that conflicts with their beliefs.

    1. Many theists have a vested interest in maintaining ignorance; it allows them to believe a story which someone has convinced them is a necessary belief for salvation.

      I think it’s sad too.

      I find threats of hell akin to child abuse. They are cruel and can make children incurably ignorant–and PROUD of that ignorance. I look forward to a day when humanity has outgrown such childish means of manipulating others. The vast majority of examples I see from the homeschooled crowd are very pathetic indeed.

      They could grow up to be people that further knowledge and solve problems, instead they so often are mere vectors for the spread of their virulent religious memes.

      1. I will point out that many theists, even Christians, have made great advancements to “further knowledge and solve problems”. Galileo, Copernicus, Newton, Einstein, Edison, and I think Pasteur were all professing Christians.

        However, they were devout scientists, not the angry parrots we see bristling across the internet.

        1. Thomas Edison: was a Deist.
          Albert Einstein: was a Pantheist.

          Louis Pasteur:

          According to his grandson Pasteur Vallery-Radot, however, Pasteur had only kept from his Catholic background a spiritualism without religious practice.

        2. I think there is correction I should make.
          Newton was Jewish.
          However, when he tried to involve god in science-concerning the interactions of planets-that the wheels came off. He got it totally wrong.
          The result was that, that particular problem remained unsolved, until the challenge was taken up by Pierre Simon Laplace.
          And when Napoleon asked Laplace why there was no mention of the creator in the book he had written about heavenly bodies, Laplace said, “I haven’t needed that hypothesis”.
          There is warning in this to Miller and Collins. I don’t care what faith you practice, but don’t try to get science to back up your doctrine. I can only lead to errors.

          1. And when Napoleon asked Laplace why there was no mention of the creator in the book he had written about heavenly bodies, Laplace said, “I haven’t needed that hypothesis”.

            LaPlace was Napolean’s science advisor and as atheistic as they come. But those old-timers had a way with words. The great French astronomer Jerome Lalande, before he died in 1807, said, “I have searched through the heavens, and nowhere have I found a trace of God.”

        3. I don’t know who the “angry parrots” are, but I think some scientists may have been “devout” because there was a big price to pay if one weren’t.

          Gods/demons etc. often seemed like good answers before science had better answers.

          And the church sure made Galileo pay a heavy price for discovering facts that didn’t sit well with what religion preferred that people believed… so I’m not sure it’s fair to call him “devout”.

          In any case… just because scientists believe in this invisible being or that, doesn’t make invisible beings real.

          I’d also add that it doesn’t make god look good when he fails to mention some pretty important scientific facts in his inspired texts.

          For example, letting his favorite creations know that the male determines the sex of a fetus might have made a lot of women suffer (for not producing sons) less.

          But I guess he God too busy telling people to stone those who didn’t keep the sabbath day holy and such to mention anything scientifically prescient (like the sun is another star).

    1. Wow, Lisa Disa. I looked at those sites. They are crap “Marketing for Jay-zus” and Intelligent Design bullshit.

      They sure sling the shit there without one bit of evidence, just mindless inane piffle.

      They are even too dense to answer their s-called main question. They side step it. Proctor and Gamble would love that site.

      1. Did you go to the same sites that I’ve been to? This is a very famous atheist site that even Richard Dawkins has endorsed. This site is set up as a refutation of God-belief and ID. Hell, there’s even a page that explicitly says “Prayer is a superstition.” How is that effective “marketing for Jay-zus”?

        I like your (other) posts, BTW.

      2. I’m not sure what website you are looking at NEB, but the website Lisa linked to is a prominent, free, pro-atheist, anti-religion online book, essentially. It systematically tears down many of the main arguments for religion while explaining in detail many of the anti-religion arguments.

  47. I found your site because of the article & I’m happy that I did. Keep “preaching the faith” – that is science & reason – so we can cause the religious fundies to be become extinct!

  48. I was subjected to the Apologia books for about 30 minutes, then found I hated them so much I tried to burn them (in a firepit). Unfortunately, they have to be treated with fire resistant chemicals, so the paper did not burn, which was one of the largest disappointments of my life. Anyway, I was home-schooled (technically, I went to an online school), and found that what I did taught science pretty well. However, both of my parents have at least a Masters degree, and most of what I did was made for the standard accreditation requirements.

  49. I was homeschooled K-12 in an evangelical Christian family. I believe my parents did a fantastic job supervising my education, except for the science bits, which sucked. I used Apologia’s books for all of my high school science, and I heartily disparage them whenever possible.

    Homeschooling generally results in an education which is just as good as a public or private school’s, if not better. Please don’t judge us too harshly simply from the abysmal science standards!

    1. The fact that “the science bits” (which you seem to dismiss as minor) were so terrible directly contradicts your conclusion.

    2. Here… get a start on making up for your poor science education.


      There’s a world of resources out there and time to learn what you missed. We humans can know things that humans in the past could not know– no matter how smart they were.

      Humanorigins.org is excellent too– and, of course, Jerry’s book.

      Don’t delay– it’s wondrously cool stuff. You and your pet have a common ancestor and you can understand how we know this is a fact.

  50. Glad I found your website I have added it to my science blog links.

    As a retired homeschooling Mom I do wish to point out that homeschoolers can use the same textbooks the public schools use. There is nothing stopping homeschoolers from doing that. I used Amsco School Publications and was very happy with them.

  51. Lena said:

    “It sad and ironic,
    that this scientific method you hold so dear could convict you of a crime you didn’t commit. ”

    Lena eyewitnesses are notoriously unreliable. That’s why forensic science has been proving people who have been jailed,innocent.



    And that’s why scientist have peer review, to make sure that a single person’s evidence is accurate.

    Science works, Jewish mythology not so much….

    1. And science has error correction mechanisms… faith does not.

      And no god ever solved any crime, that’s why science has developed things like forensics… (without any omniscient entity cluing us in on DNA, I might add!).

  52. In teaching the evolution class at my university, I get a fair number of creationist homeschoolers signing up from time to time. And most of the time, once you get them away from these indoctrinating, “be a creationist or burn in hell” books, you find out that they really have no problem with evolution when presented the facts – after some discussion and questoning, of course.

    I know that’s not the trend for some of the creationist homeschoolers posting here, but it’s just my observation. The best way to teach evolution to these folks, from my track record, seems to be to present the facts rather than spending your time teaching against creationism instead of about evolution (if that makes sense).

    1. I agree, but you need to teach them before they are infected with the meme that they’ll go to hell if they accept evolution.

      If they think their salvation depends on not accepting evolution… then nothing you say will convince them.

      Homeschooled creationists are often infected with this meme early and often.

  53. I have recently finished reading “Why Evolution Is True”, “Your Inner Fish” and “The Greatest Show On Earth” – all wonderful books.
    To the homeschoolers/Christians commenting, please, read these books – with an open, enquiring mind. Let your kids read them. If your belief system is all you say it is, they will not influence you. If they DO, then explore the information further.
    You talk the talk – will you walk the walk?
    I have.

    1. Awesome books– all.

      Creationists like to tell us what to read and listen to– and many of us are better schooled in their own scriptures than them– but they seldom read what we suggest.

      I think many are too poorly educated to understand what they are reading, and many are afraid to understand it, because they’ve been indoctrinated to believe that their salvation depends on not understanding.

  54. I’m sorry for the following fatuous comment, but I find this whole episode bizarrely hilarious. This is not some pokey site written by some teenaged members of the Atheist Fundamentalist Corps.(TM); this is site written by one of the planet’s leading experts on speciation and population genetics.

    For God’s sake, the title of the blog is Why Evolution is True!

    And then you get people like Lena saying “there’s-no-evidence-there’s-no-evidence-lalalalala”. Talk about breaking a butterfly upon the wheel!


    1. I know –but at least they amuse.

      And I’ve got to imagine some creationists are getting a real wake up call and thinking, (of folks like Lena, etc.)– “is THAT what I sound like– egads!”

      Just as Archie Bunker made a lot of people suddenly aware of their own bigotry– I think folks like Lena must make some creationists suddenly aware of what creationism has done to their minds.

      Lena and the like came here willingly all pumped up with the arrogance and ignorance of their indoctrinators… I think the preacher men who sent them here are unaware of what a bad advertisement they are for the creotard agenda.

      These folks shared their opinions willingly and so should welcome our opinions in response–in fact, they should model the decorum they expected us to show them and take our suggestions as readily as they want us to take theirs.

      It’s not like we barged into church meetings to tell the home schooling fundies that their preachers were making them scientifically ignorant– they came here. And what is so shocking is that they actually believe they have a clue about evolution when all they have is the usual creationist straw men and an impenetrability to those who could remedy the situation (since they imagine they know more than the expert).

      *giggles at creotards lecturing Jerry on the strengths and weaknesses of evolution*

      Let Ken Miller and Francis Collins accomodate the creotards. And Mooney. He’s the expert at framing, right? Let’s see him the religious evolutionists are able to give the fundamentalist creotards a clue.

      To this rational scientists, these loons are nearly as nutty as Fred Phelps, Osama Bin Laden, or the most brainwashed Scientologist –and equally self important.

      I wonder if their faith in god rests on evolution being false? And if they think their salvation depends on what they BELIEVE in regards to how the species came to be? (If so, it must suck that reality doesn’t conform to their beliefs.)

  55. The recent article was misrepresentative, misleading, and needlessly inflammatory. There are many secular homeschoolers and many more secular homeschool science texts and secular homeschool publishers than this article would lead you to believe. I should know I write for one of them, R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey. I am in the process of writing a middle school biology text for homeschool parents for this publisher that includes the theory of evolution (which by the way has evolved since Darwin first proposed it), information about stem cells, and Darwin, plus other information relevant to this discussion. What concerns me is the agenda of the author of this poorly researched news article.

    1. Bravo. And I’m sure they’ll be more.

      To me, a creationist biology course is akin to an astrologist teaching about the astronomy. The poor children have no way of knowing how ignorant their parents are. But given the wide amount of information available on the internet, I suspect most will find out.

      When a person finds out that their religious indoctrinators are not trustworthy– do they cease trusting their indoctrinators and/or the religion on everything?

      I don’t think anyone with an actual education in evolution is ever likely to buy the notion that god poofed species into existence as is. They will never be stuck making excuses for the lies they were told as kids.

      I congratulate you for being a part of that and I hope your market increases.

    2. The recent article was misrepresentative, misleading, and needlessly inflammatory. There are many secular homeschoolers and many more secular homeschool science texts and secular homeschool publishers than this article would lead you to believe. I should know I write for one of them, R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey.

      There was nothing misleading about the article, if by “recent article” you mean Jerry Coyne’s post. There are about 2 million homeschooled children currently in the US. How many of these does your company supply with texts? 5%? 10%? That would be an awful lot of textbooks, your company must be doing very well. Every poll shows that a large majority of these kids are in fundamentalist Christian homews, and the major reason for homeschooling them is to keep them in the faith. That means denying evolution, avoiding sex education, and all sorts of other reality-avoidance measures.

      Everyone knows that there are secular homeschoolers, we’ve heard from a few here, but to claim this post misrepresented anything is just false.

      1. Dear Sir, I am very impressed that you would publish such an article but, not surprise. Isn’t what always happen whenever we talk about Budah, Islam, or Evoulution it’s oh how cool, but when wemove to Christanity and Non Evoltion views it’s haters etc. etc. I guess that ‘s what Jesus mean when he said the world will hate you because of me. I am 13 and know that I would die for Christ if I had to. One thing that shows Christians are real is that many of us in China and other places are willing to die for what we believe, while others kill us. My question to you though is would you die for something you knew was fake? With that being said I ask all of you evolutionists with evolution in sight CAN YOU DO THE MONKEY?

        1. Put your pacifier back in your mouth kid, and go get your diaper changed. Your drool is messing the floor.

          1. Surely that’s a Poe of the Christian home schooled child.

            Isn’t it???

            (Hey that would be a fun contest… try to sound the most like a fundie home-schooled kid– a “Jesus Camp” survivor.
            I have a feeling that few could mirror the awful spelling, grammar, and arrogant, incoherence, but I’d bet there’d be lots-o-giggles produced.)

            And what the hell does the last line mean?

        2. Lots of people from lots of religions stick by their religion even if it means being killed. It is true of Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Zorastrianism, and many others. Christians have no special claim on being able to keep their faith in the face of death, that is common amongst religions. And you act as though Christians aren’t doing any killing of non-believers, or haven’t in the past.

          1. I should also add that people here are just as critical of Islamic creationists when they pose problems. It is just that, here in the U.S., it is Christians who are trying to force their views on everyone else, so that is where we have the most common problems.

          2. Indeed. I want to assure believers that I find you as equally silly, self righteous, and delusional as you find the Scientologists… and equally impenetrable in regards to logic that conflicts with whatever you feel special (or saved) for believing.

            I’m an equal opportunity woo mocker.

  56. Ok I,m not the smartest person in the world,but I still have opinions. I know one of the first things people say about Homeschooling is that the home schooled child loses socially. This can be true and at fault individually. No matter what anyone says is that a homeschooled child is safer,and taught the things that are most important,love family and the basics of the bible cannot be bad—- Treat others as you expect them to treat you,etc. Public schools do give social interactions some not good, drugs and sex the biggies. I’m not sure about the younger grades,but by 7th grades alot is happening wether anyone wants to agree or not. Gangs are also coming to be a big problem , bigger than you think. Don’t get me wrong Some parent use school as a baby sitter and they are happy to be away from them for eight hours or longer. the problems in homeschooling is not telling the child everything the good and the bad . Not leting them develope friendships for fear. The child is virtually the same except not being forcefed interactions that would have never happened otherwise. You do not have to confronted by a bully to learn about a bully or how to deal with them, The same with mostly any other issue. Average people are homeschooling . I work 3 ten hour days and my wife works two 12’s and two 8’s We did that so we never had to have a baby sitter and homeschooling by the same fashion.

    1. jerry, I am curious. Who teaches your chid[ren] English grammar, syntax, puctuation and sentence structure?

      1. I was thinking the same thing…

        And they are also teaching the kiddies to fear the real world instead of learning to navigate it.

        I wonder how many families this poster is representative of–what percentage of home-schoolers could have blithely written the same post without being aware of how it indicts the whole endeavor?

        It reminds me of the ignorant arrogance of “Jesus Camp”… Pastor Becky was PROUD of what she was doing to those kids.

        I know many home-school families turn out fine and even excel, but what do they think when they see posts like this? I hope it causes some people to take a good long look at homeschooling and understand why Coyne would despair.

  57. In my early twenties I, too, was saved, read the Bible back and forth and was at church constantly. But even then I knew that my embrace of this emotional theology was a result of a deep-seated need to commune with others, or sooth a tumult, or answer the question of the meaning of life, or stave off the fear of nothingness after death. But then I discovered science. Our creator, whoever or whatever it is, made this universe with rules we are just now beginning to understand. Rules of physics, chemistry and biology. These rules cannot be denied or ignored any more than life and death itself. If you have ever taken an antibiotic or given one to your child, you are a committed and devoted believer in evolution, you just don’t realize it.
    All I suggest is that sometime in the quiet of the night, and certainly not on this blog, you ask yourself what personal fear or need you are satisfying by embracing a belief system supported only by centuries of man’s story-telling (and we know how accurate man is at that) and nothing tangible, factual, or tested — when everything else you, and everyone around you, does in their daily life follows rules of logic, thought and examination. I’m not saying there is no creator, there almost must be. But how arrogant to assume you understand all of Gods intentions when, as one blogger wrote, we don’t even understand our own oceans. Is not the creation, function, and meaning of the whole universe more complex than our oceans? Yet you understand it all from only a few pages in one book?
    I would argue that the evolutionist understands the Creator’s ways and intentions more deeply and reverently than the deniers who wish to diminish His work by suggesting we appeared from nothing one day as if in a Spielberg film.
    (And for the record, your DNA, the building blocks of your physical being, is 98.5% the same as a chimp’s. That may offend the insecure of temperament, but it is awe-inspiring to me).

    1. Our creator, whoever or whatever it is

      Parents; is the word you are looking for. But, you are created by your interaction with the experiences you have after you are born.

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