31 August 2008

Reality-based candidates

In response to my point of curiosity below concerning whether or not John McCain accepts the theory of evolution, reader CP sends the following quotes from both Presidential candidates.

From John McCain:

Darwin helped explain nature’s laws. He did not speculate, in his published theories at least, on the origin of life. He did not exclude God, for Whom the immensity of time is but a moment, from our presence. The only undeniable challenge the theory of evolution poses to Christian beliefs is its obvious contradiction of the idea that God created the world as it is in less than a week. But our faith is certainly not so weak that it can be shaken to learn that a biblical metaphor is not literal history. Nature doesn’t threaten our faith. On the contrary, when we contemplate its beauty and mysteries we cannot quiet in our heart an insistent impulse of belief that for all its variations and inevitable change, before its creation, in a time before time, God let it be so, and, thus, its many splendors and purposes abide in His purpose. -- From his 2005 book Character is Destiny

I believe in evolution.....But I also believe, when I hike the Grand Canyon and see it at sunset, that the hand of God is there also. -- CNN

From Barack Obama:

I’m a Christian, and I believe in parents being able to provide children with religious instruction without interference from the state. But I also believe our schools are there to teach worldly knowledge and science. I believe in evolution, and I believe there’s a difference between science and faith. That doesn’t make faith any less important than science. It just means they’re two different things. And I think it’s a mistake to try to cloud the teaching of science with theories that frankly don’t hold up to scientific inquiry. -- Interview

I'd say they both pass the test.

It was also pointed out that Sarah Palin "clarified" her position on teaching creationism in schools as follows:

I don't think there should be a prohibition against debate if it comes up in class. It doesn't have to be part of the curriculum. -- Anchorage Daily News

I'm not willing to cut her any slack on this basis, however. No such "debate" exists; Palin's stated position is analogous to saying that it should be acceptable to "debate" the flat-Earth "theory" if it were to come up in geography class. Creationism is rubbish, period, and the concept of "creation science" is simply fraudulent.

Nevertheless, as I noted in the previous posting, an evolution-denialist President (or Vice President), while embarrassing to the dignity of the United States as a world leader in the sciences, does not threaten to do much actual harm since the President has very little influence over actual educational policy.


Blogger Prash said...

Could you please elaborate on this :

since the President has very little influence over actual educational policy

I do not know your system

31 August, 2008 19:35  
Blogger Ranch Chimp said...

I wonder the same thing Infidel,I was always confused why such a push from folks to try to incorporate creationism in science,or even in as you say geography,or anything else.It has nothing to do with what even science is about,solving problems,weighing evidence,looking for factual evidence of our enviroment..I mean..dont creation have to do with spirits and the spiritual world?Thats what those say who try to promote it.Say for instance..(as I pointed out in an early post) we did establish that there is a creator who done it all (pretend)..and incorporated it in science class(I'm sure they would push this first in the youngest grades of elementary school)what would that do to collecting data,evidence,coming up with different theories,finding cures for diseases..I could go on and on.I mean..is the creator supposed to give us a theory text of how he done it all..and the answers to our questions and problems?I mean why not just throw in frog dissection classes with alchemy. Obviously this isnt to help our children in science class...and can only be used to push an agenda to try to mix science and spiritualism in some way.What in the hell do the 2 subjects have to do with each other?..Debate? Over what? Science is a study of earth...not of heaven.Is it not?

01 September, 2008 02:22  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Prash -- In the US, each town or city (or section of a large city) has its own "school district". Each school district is administered by a "school board" which is elected by the people who live in the district. The school board sets policy for all the schools in the ditrict. I think there are generally broad guidelines established by the state government. The federal government doesn't get involved at all.

Since there isn't much interest in school board elections and not many people vote in them, there have been cases where religious crazies were able to advance their own candidates and take over a district's school board. Then they have tried to push the teaching of creationism. Usually the result is that parents sue the school board to stop the creationists, since creationism is really a religious doctrine, and schools (because they are government entities) are forbidden to teach religion by the First Amendment. There was a famous case recently in the town of Dover, Pennsylvania, where this happened. You can read about it here.

Sometimes a state governor tries to use the state's power to set guidelines in order to advance creationism, but this is rare because it invites ridicule.

Ranch Chimp -- There are two basic factors at work here. First, those who truly believe that the Biblical story of creation is true obviously believe that "real" science would confirm it, which means they think evolution is some kind of mistake or conspiracy. Second, their real goal is, in fact, to teach religious doctrine in the schools, but as I said above, the First Amendment prohibits that. So they try to pretend that it isn't really religious doctrine at all, but a new kind of "science". That's why they use terms like "creation science" or "intelligent design theory" -- they're trying to disguise religious doctrine as science so that it will be allowed into the schools. Of course, they don't really understand what science is or how it works, so their efforts to invent a fake science are not very convincing. When they get sued by parents, even judges who don't know much about science can see quite easily that "creation science" isn't real science (my impression is that most judges are highly intelligent). This is what happened, fortunately, in the Dover case, even though the judge was a conservative religious believer himself.

01 September, 2008 03:48  
Blogger Prash said...

I really did learn something today from your post ! Muchos Gracias Senor !

02 September, 2008 01:19  

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