Creationists Embarrass Themselves in Florida Science Standards Fight

Creationists are currently mounting a heated effort to water-down Florida’s new science standards, arguing that creationist claims and ideas about evolution should be taught alongside evolutionary biology. Here’s a sample of some of those ideas, from Terry Kemple, president of the Tampa Bay Christian public policy group Community Issues Council:

“My objection to their proposal is that, at its core, the suggested science standard relative to evolution is a set of beliefs unproven. They believe that millions of years ago there was nothing and then suddenly there was something. They have no proof. It’s not replicable. It’s clearly a belief,” Kemple said. “You can give it a name and call it evolution, but it is nonetheless a set of beliefs.” (emphasis added)

This is like objecting to teaching Newton’s theory of gravity because “gravitationists” believe that millions of years ago a giant apple crashed into the Earth, creating a worldwide flood. It’s not even close to a correct statement of anything evolution suggests. And yet these are the sorts of people claiming that they know better than scientists what is or isn’t good science.

It boggles the mind.

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38 Responses to Creationists Embarrass Themselves in Florida Science Standards Fight

  1. hughvic says:

    My God, how vacuous. It’s as though Temple half-remembers that there was some problem some smart fella had awhile back about evolutionary biology straying from scientific evidence into metaphysical speculation, and then Temple’s little mentality spit out fitfully remembered bits all bassackwards, like the Kanaka chieftan who told Mark Twain, on Twain’s fictive version of his first visit to the Sandwich Islands: “We understand Christianity: we have eaten the missionaries.”

    Temple is simply uneaten. Every single slack-jawed, Menckenesque knuckle-dragger like this half-baked Creationist one concommitantly fetters the careers of the few pro-ID working biologists out there, and everyone gets painted with the same broad brush. So I propose a body-block. You run interference; I’ll push from behind…

  2. Dave says:

    Wow. That’s not even coherent enough to be a strawman.

    I suspect it’s a new technique of argument where the user can stun their more logical “reality based” opponents by randomly clumping creationist buzz words together. Something like this:

    Creationist: “Chicken, footprint fossil human peanut butter coke can without a watchmaker!”
    Non-creationist: *brain lock* [press CTRL-ALT-DELl to reboot]
    Creationist: “Aha! You can’t refute it can you!”

  3. hughvic says:

    Exactly, Dave. And more succinct than I was. Even as simple a word as “belief”, in Temple’s usage means nothing. Temple might as well say “humma-humma-humma”.

  4. October Mermaid says:

    God forbid this “brain lock” should be caught on tape or the creationists will post it on youtube and tell everyone how they stumped you, with the comments section filled with “LOZL pwned that evilusionist!”

  5. Matt says:

    I do hope that speaker was simply pointed at and laughed out of the room. How could anyone who has even had a primary/elementary school education even listen to such horrible tripe?

  6. Cubik's Rube says:

    I was also impressed with the “It’s not replicable” part. Because obviously the claim that the universe was conjured into existence a few thousand years ago by God (sorry – by an unnamed intelligent designer) can be repeated and verified in any moderately well-stocked laboratory.

  7. sauer kraut says:

    Is Temple one of these people who believe the Grand Canyon was carved in one day by the great flood? Or is he one prone to succumb to the old rubric of “What’s matter? never mind! what’s mind? it doesn’t matter!”?

  8. sauer kraut says:

    Kemple, Temple, whatevah.

  9. hughvic says:

    Schmemple, awreddy!

  10. A.j. says:

    The creationists have “faith” on their side, they don’t need science…but more disturbing is the republican party paying a jerk to to propose the “one man one women” marriage inititive to change the Constitution and drive biggoted GOP voters to the polls next Novemeber. The homophobes and creationists needed 20,000 more signatures by today…what will happen?

  11. Marianne says:

    The creationists are right….there is no proof for evolution. It is just the mantra of atheists who do not believe in God and want another explanation. The original data was fraudulent, and there has been nothing credible since. Genetic variation is just that, variation. It is not evidence for an upward complexity of the animal. Most mutations are lethal, not progressive.

    marianne

  12. Ed Darrell says:

    Most mutations are lethal, not progressive.

    Which explains why the human race is dwindling in numbers, since most humans carry at least a couple of mutations. If Marianne is right, the problem with Social Security is that there won’t be any people left to collect it in 50 years . . .

    /slap satire mode down

    I keep praying for a miracle: I pray God to strike creationists able to read and give them library cards, in a library that has actual science books.

  13. frankyvanherreweghe says:

    It may be interesting to read their crap in their ‘scientific journal’ (general laughter in the background). see: http://www.answersingenesis.org/arj/
    greetz
    f

  14. Michael says:

    The universe is quite an amazing thing, right? Endless space that never seems to end.
    God created the universe, some believe (I do), but obviously it is a lot more
    complex than we can comprehend now, if ever.
    So, is evolution a fantasy or an illusion? Well, in Genesis chapter 1 verse 21 it is written;
    “So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with
    which the water teems, according to their kinds….” According to their kinds does it not
    indicate a lot of variation of species?
    And lets not forget Genesis 1 verse 3; ” And God said,
    “Let there be light…” It this the Big Bang……?
    Yes, some kind of evolution is taking
    place, but is it just for the better? Well, just look around and see or read the daily
    news…what kind of future will be there for those who will come after you and I?
    But let me finish my comments with; “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a
    mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully,
    even as I am fully known”, 1 Corinthians 13:12

  15. hughvic says:

    Michael: Careful with your pearls, please. Not all these people are believers like Ed or disciplined in their open-mindedness like Bad.

  16. sauer kraut says:

    My dear, Marianne, have you never heard the phrase “what does not kill us makes us stronger”?

    Evolution can be reproduced at some levels in regular biology laboratories. Non-believers like you can even observe it happening under your closed eyes.

    Steven Jay Gould was no athiest. But he was one of the great writers about evolution. Check him out. Unless the science scares you.

    meow

  17. sedgehammer says:

    Leaving my own personal issues with Linnaeus, natural selection, and religion aside, there are obviously deeper reasons that this curriculum issue has gotten so heated. I am reminded of Japan’s proposed textbook change of recent years which no longer mentioned the ‘comfort women’ used by the soldiers of the Nanjing Massacre. People in China were outraged – you may remember demonstrations held at many major cities. The Communist government of course soon took things in hand and summarily disbanded any related gatherings or protests, especially among students.

    The main problem here is the separation of church and state. If we change a school requirement in an area that strongly holds contradictory religious views to that change, is that an invasion of belief? We must continue to work towards education in public schools that will allow for both scientific accuracy and respect for faith.

    While I agree that several vociferous speakers on the religious side of this argument have made some unfortunate statements, that does not make their position less worthy. Some of the mechanisms of evolution are still being questioned and refined, and will probably continue to be for some time. Science taught in the classroom should reflect this testing and encourage intelligent questioning, up to and including the basic precepts of modern biology with the goal of educating through that very process of questioning and testing.

    At the same time, ridiculous as some of the posturing may be, I am grateful for it. For those faithful persons who are truly angered at the thought of more strident teaching of evolution, there is an outlet for that. For those who feel the curriculum should be even more supportive of evolution, there is an outlet for that as well. In other places this is not the case.

  18. irishsof says:

    The creationists are right….there is no proof for evolution. It is just the mantra of atheists who do not believe in God and want another explanation.

    Really? Then how do you explain the millions of people who believe in God and accept evolution as a valid scientific theory?

    I have a suggestion for creationists. Take your kids and your money and form your own schools and don’t teach science, since the two are mutually exclusive in your minds. In fact, we should also make it law that creationists are not allowed medical care either. Don’t believe in evolution? Then you can’t believe in science. No science = no medicine.

    You either believe in science and the scientific method or you do not. If you do not, take your Bible or Koran or whatever and go back to witch doctors. That way maybe we could afford health care for people who have two brain cells to rub together.

  19. October Mermaid says:

    Jeez, I am so out of my element with these debates! Hopefully I’ll pick some of the science up as I read along, but in the meantime, just imagiene me pumping my fist and shouting “Yeah!” as you guys make good points.

  20. hughvic says:

    For a person who posts under the tag “Sledgehammer”, you sure wield the scalpel well. Sure there’s something deeper going on. One dead give-away is the magical thinking about natural, rather than supernatural, subjects—always an indication of something very deep; for Freud, as deep as the mysterious origin of human culture itself. And at your somewhat deep level of jurisprudence, one can readily take this straight past the American church/state schematics and directly to political theory: What is the State? Where does it live? Why does it insist on eating other people’s children for breakfast? To put it another way, what is the social contract involved in copulsory schooling in the U.S.? What, the compelling state interest that justifies the imposition on the freedoms of the People and their children? What do they get in return? Do they, in fact, get it?

    Also, in this regard, Mermaid’s post implies that we’re failing (as I so frequently do) to undertake what is essentially a democratic project—Bad’s public beef with idiot Creationists in this long-running Yankee feud—with democratic language. Perhaps were those of you who are scientists to try just a bit harder to explicate your biological allusions, rather than simply to make them, and to do so in windowpane American, this whole dust-up would settle down a bit.

    Reckon I’ll make a resolution to do better at this from my social scientific end, as well.

  21. Bad says:

    While I agree that several vociferous speakers on the religious side of this argument have made some unfortunate statements, that does not make their position less worthy.

    I disagree. The critics in this case have staked their claims on the idea that evolution is a flawed and uncertain bit of science. But the fact that they don’t even have a clue what evolution really is seriously undermines their credibility to claim that it isn’t sound science. Heck, it should make one question whether such people should be taken seriously on any matter concerning education.

    Some of the mechanisms of evolution are still being questioned and refined, and will probably continue to be for some time. Science taught in the classroom should reflect this testing and encourage intelligent questioning, up to and including the basic precepts of modern biology with the goal of educating through that very process of questioning and testing.

    By in large, this is exactly what a normal biology curriculum already involves: it does discuss all the major debates and unknowns in evolutionary theory. If, that is, it is allowed to be taught at all (many schools quietly de facto simply skip evolution in biology altogether, which is why they are complaining so loudly about the idea of having standards they will be held accountable to).

  22. hughvic says:

    From my peanut gallery in the Ed. Biz, agreement, Bad. One quibble: these people never should be discounted on “any matter concerning education”, as it is their right. Rather, they should be either damned or laughed off the stage with blasts of Justice Brandeis’ “more speech”, but allowed to audition for the next school play. It’s their right, and the system was SUPPOSED to have been set up to receive parental input at all times. In our system of governance, as you know, that crucially includes the input of knaves, buffoons and boors.

  23. Big Foot says:

    If we evolved from monkeys, we are all the half-human, half-monkey people who are caught in the middle of the evolutionary process?

  24. Bad says:

    If we evolved from monkeys, we are all the half-human, half-monkey people who are caught in the middle of the evolutionary process?

    I doubt your sincerity here in asking, and you’ve posted this same comment in two different threads, but calling us half-human/half-monkey is a little like calling a dog half-canine/half-mammal. In other words, it’s a confusion on your part as to how evolutionary groups work. It’s descent with modification, not anything being “half” anything else.

    Humans aren’t evolved primates (since the term “monkey” is such a sloppy category, “primate” is probably more accurate here, so I’ll use that for clarity) half-evolved into something else, they are primates. We aren’t half apes, we are apes. There are basic traits common to all apes, and all modern apes, including us, are just sub-variations on that, just as apes are sub-variants of primates, which are sub-variants of mammals, and so on.

  25. hughvic says:

    You gotta love this, Bad. Thirty-five years ago my grand aunt came to visit from her home in Tennessee, in which place she was a grand aunt indeed. Recounting a conversation she’d had with her “ahrnin’ negra” about the latter’s puzzlement at the sight of bone-pierced National Geographic natives, Aunt Johnnie Mae claimed to have explained to her housewoman: “Theah YO-uh ancestuhs; theah not MY ancestahs.”

    No doubt the Negress was equal to “a day’s washing and a bout with obstetrics”, but Auntie certainly was NOT. Nor would she have been equal to your blog. Still, it would’ve been so much fun to have been able to see her squirm, had she lived to see, say, a National Geographic write-up of the DNA work in population studies!

    Some folks are primates; others, apes.

  26. Bad says:

    All folks are both primates and apes.

  27. hughvic says:

    See? That’s the thing about you scientific rationalists: all literalism, no poetry!

    Anyway, I do love my mammals. All of them. Even the smelly opossum. Sure, I understand the dark resentments of my countryfolk who’ll never forgive the fact that while America slept the scheming Australians cornered the market on marsupials. But I’m happy with our possums, and count the females dang near as surprising as their platypus.

    I once saw and Australian Lungfish walk around on its four fins, though, and I’ve never been the same since. Bad enough that Dr. Watson’s Holmies should find Abbo in all our DNA and thus put a crick in our pretenses vis-a-vis the backward Aussies. Now they’re even out-surfing us! Those people must be stopped once and for all…

  28. Ed Darrell says:

    while America slept the scheming Australians cornered the market on marsupials.

    That’s priceless.

  29. Terry Kemple says:

    You could win over nearly every critic if you could just show even one actual piece of evidence that even the lowest of lower life forms ever “evolved” into an even just eensy-teensy bit higher life form.

    Since you can’t, all you can do is speculate, hypothesize, and then attack anyone who questions your beliefs.

  30. Matt says:

    Obviously someone hasn’t been paying attention to this little run of comments, where links to such evidence has been supplied multiple times.

  31. Matt says:

    Or maybe I’m getting my blog threads mixed up, ha!

    Anyhow – observed instances of evolution?
    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-speciation.html
    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/speciation.html

    How about some transitional fossils?
    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-transitional.html
    http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CC/CC200.html

    So how is that for evidence? Hm?

  32. Terry Kemple says:

    Matt – I did you the courtesy of reading the posts.

    I say again, since you can’t show even one actual piece of evidence that even the lowest of lower life forms ever “evolved” into even a just eensy-teensy bit higher life form all you can do is speculate, hypothesize, and then attack anyone who questions your beliefs.

    Read the posts yourself. Show me a link to even one actual piece of evidence.

    It’s just like proving transitions of life forms, you can’t do it!

  33. Matt says:

    Sadly, I confused a couple of entries I’m reading at once and the one with the links is still awaiting moderation (lots of links tends to trigger the wordpress anti-spam filter).
    But if you want evidence, try all the wonderful research presented at talkorigins.org, which is highly regarded and has nothing but evidence for Evolution – from observed instances of it to transitional fossils.

  34. Bad says:

    You could win over nearly every critic if you could just show even one actual piece of evidence that even the lowest of lower life forms ever “evolved” into an even just eensy-teensy bit higher life form.

    The real problem here is that you can’t force people to listen and learn. They have to be willing to seek out the information and understand it. People who are hostile to the idea to begin with are rarely going to put in the necessary effort. You yourself, Mr. Kemple, have stated all sorts of things about what evolution supposedly claims, which are just embarrassingly inaccurate. I noted one in my original article: have you amended or corrected that confused claim? It’s one thing to understand a subject and have well informed criticisms. It’s quite another to be critical of something despite the fact that you are confused as to what it even claims in the first place. You can’t sensibly disagree with something when you don’t really know what it says.

    It’s not that the evidence is not hard to understand, its just that it isn’t a one or two word answer either. You have to at a minimum understand the basics of taxonomy, morphology, and genetics to understand how we go about demonstrating that various forms are related and why the evidence is so compelling. You have to understand the basics of evidence and testing. Not everyone understands these things right off the bat, and worse, many people think they understand them when in fact they have lots of misconceptions.

    Speaking of which, it’s also worth noting that terms like “lower” or “higher” are generally a misunderstanding of evolution, especially when these terms are applied, as is common with creationists, to just modern life. No modern species around today is descended from any other modern species. Instead, all share common ancestors of varying ancestral distance (distances which happen to all match up no matter what method we use to measure them, as well as all being consistent with each other in the larger family tree). What we see, time and time and time again, in both the fossil record and in genetics, are basic forms which undergo branching variation. All life on the planet fits into this scheme. Understanding this is a starting point to understanding how the specifics of fossil, genetic, and other evidence all converges unavoidably on common descent via evolutionary change.

  35. Ed Darrell says:

    I say again, since you can’t show even one actual piece of evidence that even the lowest of lower life forms ever “evolved” into even a just eensy-teensy bit higher life form all you can do is speculate, hypothesize, and then attack anyone who questions your beliefs.

    I gather you don’t regard speciation as such evidence, though that is the formal name of the very process you claim to want evidence for.

    What could possibly satisfy your desire for evidence, Terry Kemple, if you won’t accept the wealth of evidence available?

    By the way, do you eat beef? The modern bovine species did not exist 1500 years ago. Do you eat potatoes? Do you cook with Canola oil?

    You feed yourself with the products of evolution, and then deny that such a process could exist. Amazing.

  36. hughvic says:

    Tansitional fossils? Fantastic! I’m on it like ticks on a lungfish!

  37. […] concedes nothing at all to their position. Their ignorance of scientific terminology backfired. Creationists like Terry Kemple are going to be livid when they realizes the gargantuan mistake they’ve […]

  38. I follow your posts for quite a long time and must tell you that your posts always prove to be of a high value and quality for readers.

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