Monday, October 20, 2008

Is Texas Stepping Backwards? (II)

In my very first Bog post I asked a question, "Is Texas Stepping Backwards?" The focus of that post was the firing of the Texas State Science Curriculum Director about a month before a science curriculum review. Now here we are 10 months later and another piece of the puzzle surfaces. The Texas State Education Agency has appointed a 6 member panel to review the curriculum recommendations. They have stacked it with three out of state 'experts' who all have an ax to grind against evolutionary theory.

So while the SBOE seems to be paying lip service to science, their actions indicate that they are opening the door for things they shouldn't be, like Intelligent Design.

What I find so frustrating is that their whole defense is something like "We're not advocating Intelligent Design", that is a misleading statement. What they are advocating is weakening the science education of our young, a key strategy laid out by the Discovery Institute in order to open the door for alternatives.

I think Texas or Louisiana will be the next Dover-style lawsuit, something no school district needs. But when you use such back alley methods to push an unsupportable religious agenda, lawsuits tend to be the only immediate recourse. Of course the longer term answer is to do what Ohio and Kansas did and let the electorate remove the Creationists from the SBOE. That will certainly make the next election in Texas interesting. I guess the slogan might be: "Texas, the new Kansas"

Thursday, October 16, 2008

New website for the Clergy Letter Project

Apparently Butler Universisty did some re-arranging of their servers. If this link doesn't work, just Google "Clergy Letter Project" and you'll find it.

Arguments XIV -- Logic and Reasoning Fundamentalist -style

Here is a fun little post from Topix that I really liked, so I am stealing it here. Thanks to Nuggin who laid out this little example of logic and reasoning in the style of a Christian Fundamentalist.

You ask if there is a snake in the room.

I search the room, I find no snake. I don't see a snake. I don't smell a snake. I don't see snake skin. I don't see snake poo. I don't hear a snake. I check the temperature to see if it's too cold for a snake to exist. I check to see if there are areas in the room in which a snake could exist.

I don't find a snake. I also find that the temperature is too low for a snake. I also find that there is no place that I can detect where a snake could hide.

I conclude: "There does not appear to be a snake"
You conclude: "There is a snake"

I ask you for evidence FOR the snake.

You say, "I believe there is a snake".

That's NOT evidence.

There may or may not be a snake, but given that I've got MORE EVIDENCE that there isn't a snake and you've offered NOTHING to convince us that there is a snake, we're going to have to go with NO SNAKE.

You say, "No, there really is a snake."

I say, "Where, I can't see it."

You say, "It's invisible."

Do you have any evidence of any other invisible snakes from anywhere in the world?


But rather than provide evidence of invisible snakes, you demand that I prove that there are no invisible snakes.

I go into a long drawn out explanation about matter and how light reflects off objects.

You proceed to claim "the room contains magical light that doesn't behave the same."

I ask if you have evidence of this magical light.

You don't. But you demand that I prove that the room DOESN'T have magical light.

I proceed to explain how light works, how the air works, etc.

You then claim the room has magical properties that negate all this.

I ask if you have evidence that the room contains magical properties.

You don't. But then you demand that I prove that the room DOESN'T have magical properties...

You see where this is going?

You continue to make up greater and greater outrageous claims which have no foundation in evidence then demand that we disprove them.

That's NOT how reasoning works.

. . .

In his final words he stated that in order for someone to make a claim to have used logic and reason, you have to bring out the evidence supporting your position. Demanding that I, or anyone, always find evidence against your position is not how logic or reasoning operate. Logic and reasoning require evidence and an explanation of how you arrived at your conclusions. Yet this example is a perfect logical fallacy that many of the people who argue against evolution fall prey to. You cannot prove a negative, all you can do is present evidence against it. Sooner or later you reach a point beyond futility where the arguments just do not make sense.

Look at the stretches of imagination people have been using to promote a literal reading of the Bible. They change the laws of thermodynamics, planetary motion, gravity, the Moon's orbit, to name a few . . . all to support their literal reading of the Bible. Yet each 'guess' they make is based on other guesses, which are still based on other guesses. And the house of cards reaches not just impracticable levels, but incredulous levels.

Look at the supposed World-wide Flood and the story of Noah. There was this flood, you see. It killed all life in the world, except for the animals on this ark and Noah and his family.

Oh, how did the ark hold all the animals, well it was friggin' huge. Yea, that's it, was was huge!

Oh, how did all the animals come two by two? Ummm, well you see Noah went and found the all. That was his job, he gathered them up. Yea, while he was building this really friggin' huge boat.

How did the animals eat? Well Noah put fodder on the big friggin' boat. That's how friggin' big it was. Well they dumped all the crap overboard. No, I got it, the animals went to sleep. They was in, you know, that suspended animation stuff so they didn't eat, crap, or try and kill each other.

What about plants? I already told ya, fodder, ya moron. So this big friggin' boat had examples of all the plants in the world too!

During the 40 days and 40 nights all the mountains were carved. And you know, that geographical layered stuff, the flood did that too. Also all the seashells and coasts. Yea, the flood did all that!

Just list the incredulous statements. Is it possible for the Earth to be covered in water killing off all life other than what was in the ark? Aside from the fact that much water couldn't have exists, imagine how hard it would be to repopulate life on Earth after such an event. How about poor Noah and his family. Can one gene pool have repopulate the Earth? How is that credulous? How about care and feeding of the animals, many of which would have eaten each other. How about simple waste removal? The latest inanity I heard was all the animals were in a form of suspended animation. Oh yea, and where is that referenced in a literal biblical reading? How about how one event caused all geological formations, strata, fossils, fossil fuels . . . the list keeps on growing.

You see what I mean? The telling stretches the bounds of reality, and ends up being just a story and only a story because the literal facts don't support it. There is no evidence of a single flood event, none! Yet when approached we find ourselves having to prove that a world-wide flood didn't happen. Again, that is not how logic and reasoning works, so quit asking!