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Science!

derf140319
© John Backderf

Science deniers and anti-evolutionists do indeed have their panties tied in knots over the new Cosmos series, hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson. But what must be the most upsetting of all is that they cannot direct their venom at PBS or other public media, because the new show is being shown on Fox.

But my favorite irony is that creationists are now demanding that they get equal airtime to present their side. To which Tyson responded “you don’t talk about the spherical earth with NASA and then say let’s give equal time to the flat-earthers.” Personally, I’d be happy to give them equal time, on the day that all bibles are edited to add the opposing scientific theories and church sermons are required to present opposing viewpoints.

Meanwhile, the new series is actually quite well done, and gets kudos for not watering down the science in an attempt to appease the wing-nut fringes.

Jen Sorensen
© Jen Sorensen

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26 Comments

  1. ebdoug wrote:

    The survey I’ve read (sorry I didn’t bookmark it) says that half of the African Americans believe in creationism.
    I always thought it was the conservative whites with their believe that all the species were put on earth at the same time; therefore blacks and white are separate species, and the blacks can be discriminated against.
    I was shocked at the survey results as I understood science shows us that man evolved in the regions of Egypt which is now all desert having been used up by man’s ability to make tools.
    Hence we all evolved from the same area.

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014 at 6:10 am | Permalink
  2. Hassan wrote:

    EBDOUG, when you say conservative whites, you cannot be implying christians? All Abrahamic faiths believe that God created Adam and all humans are his descendants.

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014 at 8:07 am | Permalink
  3. PatriotSGT wrote:

    To further what Hassan said almost all religion’s believe in a creator or higher intelligence that gave us the universe. I do, although I wouldn’t call myself a member of any particular religion. I also believe that this same creator I call God gave us evolution and the laws of nature.

    Now my beef is I watch alittle from every major news network, CNN, MSNBC and FOX along with reading articles posted on CNN, MSNBC, FOX, Drudge Report, ABC, CBS, UK, etc and I havn’t seen any articles about religious groups upset with the Cosmos. I have to say I love the series and have watched with my daughter much of it. I even checked on the Christian Science Monitor for some backlash, but found none. So are these cartoonists creating a controversy over nothing. I looked at the links providede and they seem to be quoting unknown (at least to me) sources of relatively obscure fringe elements. And I’d expect to see the same number of them as I would progressive groups opposed to an anti abortion show showing heart beating fetus’s being stamped out. There are very few prominate or mainstream opposing voices to this series, at least that I could find.

    So what gives?

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014 at 8:52 am | Permalink
  4. Jeff wrote:

    Patriotsgt: Agreed. Never understood why intelligently-guided evolution is so difficult to grasp. The world would be an infinitely more peaceful and compassionate world without the scourge of religion, IMHO.

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014 at 9:54 am | Permalink
  5. Hassan wrote:

    By the way, muslims/islam (perhaps except ultra conservatives) are not against micro evolution (adaptation) or macro-evolution except the creation of Adam. In fact it shows the Majesty and Power of the Creator that He can create creation that can evolve due to circumstances.

    Muslim/islamic approach to science is that as long as it does not contradict Quran and Hadith(saying of prophet) we have no issue with it. As far as evolution goes, (other than human) there is even verse in Quran that may support evolution (instead of being neutral):

    “And Allah has created every animal from water: of them there are some that creep on their bellies; some that walk on two legs; and some that walk on four. Allah creates what He wills for verily Allah has power over all things.” (24:25)

    For more:

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014 at 6:07 pm | Permalink
  6. Quidam wrote:

    The concept of “intelligently-guided evolution” is not hard to grasp, the problem is that ‘intelligence’ is completely unnecessary for the process to work. Just as the concept of ‘intelligently guided falling’ adds nothing to gravitational theory. It works and is fully explanatory without invoking a supernatural intelligence. That’s what makes it science. Of course we can give God a credit if you insist (like Best Boy Grip Assistant Stand In) as long as He doesn’t have do anything essential.

    At least with Creation, God actually has an essential role to perform.

    It’s also worth noting that Creationists did dictate the content of Cosmos – almost every example Tyson presented was a response to a Creationist canard. e.g. the evolution of the eyeball – which creationists (and intelligent design creationists) claim is impossible.

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014 at 6:22 pm | Permalink
  7. Quidam wrote:

    “Muslim/islamic approach to science is that as long as it does not contradict Quran and Hadith(saying of prophet) we have no issue with it.”

    Which is a completely anti-scientific approach.

    If the facts contradict the Q’ran, Bible, Book of Mormon, or ‘On the Origin of Species’ then the book needs to be rewritten, not the facts.

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014 at 6:29 pm | Permalink
  8. Quidam wrote:

    According to the Quran, Adam was made from mud: “And indeed We created man (Adam) out of an extract of clay (water and earth).” [23:12]
    and he was 27 metres (60 cubits) tall. [Sahih, 040:6809]

    So much for Islamic science and evolution

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014 at 6:42 pm | Permalink
  9. Hassan wrote:

    Quidam, I did not claim it to be scientific approach, I claim it to be muslim approach. For us science is acceptable as long as it does not clearly contradict Quran and hadith. You have every right not to believe in it and nor was I asking you to follow anyone this approach.

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014 at 7:27 pm | Permalink
  10. Iron Knee wrote:

    I have absolutely no problem with people believing whatever they want to believe. I’m sure there are a few things that I believe that would appear to be nonsense to other people (including scientists). What I don’t like is people demanding that their beliefs are the truth and deserve to be force fed to other people (especially impressionable children being schooled using my tax money).

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014 at 8:13 pm | Permalink
  11. ThatGuy wrote:

    I think that the whole “sure it’s fine unless it contradicts our beliefs” approach is more or less the same in any religion. Maybe there are more contradictions in some religions than others, but unfortunately that conflict is inevitable if we’re making men out of clay or women out of ribs or the universe/earth in a week.

    Then there’s always the conflict that science doesn’t require the involvement of any higher power at all, as quidam points out.

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014 at 8:18 pm | Permalink
  12. Hassan wrote:

    Iron Knee, isn’t that what Christians say as well? They do not want their young children to be forced to learn evolution/atheism etc?

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014 at 8:33 pm | Permalink
  13. Quidam wrote:

    > isn’t that what Christians say as well? They do not want their young children to be forced to learn evolution/atheism etc?<

    Which is what sparked this post in the first place. Some religious people (Christians, Jews, Muslims etc.) are anti-science and don't want their children to be taught it. They want science they disagree with to be suppressed and for their religion to be disguised as science and taught as if it actually is.

    Now it's interesting that you conflate evolution with atheism. One is evidence driven science and the other is an absence of belief in any deity.

    Teaching science is not teaching atheism. Just as teaching religion isn't teaching science – even if it's disguised to look like it. And just because you've claimed that you have no objections to some aspects of science, doesn't mean that your objections to evolution are somehow valid and deserve equal (or any) time in a science education show or classroom.

    You are of course welcome to believe anything you like. e.g. that Adam was made of sticky black clay, was sixty feet tall and brought to life by magic, or that someone rode on a magic horse to Heaven, or that billions of people were flown to Earth in DC-8 space ships, stacked around volcanoes and exploded with hydrogen bombs. Good luck with living in the real world.

    Wednesday, March 26, 2014 at 8:52 am | Permalink
  14. AverageJoe wrote:

    Quidam, you must be new here. As a frequent reader who rarely comments, I really enjoy the civil and respectful discussions consistently found in the comments, but your disdainful comments do not reflect what I have come to expect from this community.

    Also, just want to point out that not all Christians have issues with evolution. Catholic belief is that evolution is well-supported scientific fact as long as one maintains that the “human soul is created immediately by God.” For more: http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/conlaw/vaticanview.html

    I also find it interesting that in addition to the anti-science movement in the US with respect to evolution, there are a number of others. Anti-climate change, anti-vaccination, anti-GMOs, the list goes on, despite overwhelming scientific support for all of these issues. Can’t help but wonder if they stem from similar attitudes.

    Wednesday, March 26, 2014 at 10:44 am | Permalink
  15. Quidam wrote:

    I do apologize AverageJoe, for using sarcasm on an irony site. (Ironic Eh?)
    I’ve only been a visitor here since June 2008 and posting since 2009 so, what do I know. And since you don’t seem to have ever posted here under the handle ‘AverageJoe’ it’s difficult to tell who wins bragging rights to having been here longest. But the evidence suggests it’s me, so there.

    At issue is not really about ranking which sects have more completely ignored their scripture when it contradicts facts. i.e. whether Catholics accept evolution better than Muslims who are better then Baptists – is irrelevant.

    The problem is prioritising scripture over facts in the first place – and then expecting accommodation from educational shows or schools.

    Evolution is a well established scientific fact (and theory) whether or not you maintain that God created an intangible ‘soul’ or a 60′ muddy Adam.

    Science education need not and should not accommodate religious views, whether they’re extremely wrong, or only a little bit wrong, or postulating things indistinguishable from the imaginary.

    Wednesday, March 26, 2014 at 2:22 pm | Permalink
  16. Michael wrote:

    The conflation of evolution and atheism is quite natural and logical, actually. Science tells us that evolution is driven by natural selection, which is an apparently unguided process. And therein lies the problem. If evolution–including the origin of the human species–is unguided, there is no need for a supernatural, intelligent designer. That is not to assert that there absolutely is no god, but it does logically entail that this is at least possible. Consequently, it is logical to perceive the teaching of evolution (which suggests the possibility of no god) as hostile toward religious belief (which often rests on the assumption that a deity exists). Moving beyond this impasse requires a certain comfort and acceptance of cognitive dissonance. For some people, that is very difficult and unnerving. I think those of us in the scientific and atheist communities do a great disservice when we trivialize the emotional and psychological effects of that intellectual conflict.

    At the same time, Quidam is exactly right on a number of points. The science community has to spend far too much effort on outreach efforts debunking old arguments. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard that the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics “disproves” evolution, but that is flat out wrong. And every time we have to say this again, that’s less time that we could spend talking about things that are right (or discovering new ones).

    It is a failure of our society, a failure of our media, and a failure of our governance that has gotten us to this point. The First Amendment has been so badly misinterpreted that many people equate disagreement with censorship. As an example, recall the kerfuffle about people boycotting Chik-Fil-A because of Cathy’s remarks about gay marriage. Religious conservatives cried censorship and trotted out the First Amendment, but that is just bunk. The First Amendment is about government–not private individuals–acting to inhibit Cathy’s speech, and that wasn’t what happened. The outcry and the boycott consisted of private individuals withholding their patronage.

    We see the same thing in regard to science discussions. People with vested interests wrap themselves up in the Constitution to demand that they be given equal time as scientists. Those vested interests could be religious beliefs, corporate oil profits, alternative vaccines to sell (see Andrew Wakefield), or some touchy feely desire to be “one with the earth.” Whatever the interest, it creates a strong incentive to weaponize the First Amendment as part of their agenda.

    The problem is that, given the structure of our educational system (e.g., the oversized influence of the Texas school board), our political system (e.g., gerrymandered districts and disproportionate representation of rural districts), and our for-profit media conglomerates, nothing is ever going to change for the better. I’ve seen far too many examples of things actually getting worse (e.g., Citizens United) to hold out hope.

    Wednesday, March 26, 2014 at 3:04 pm | Permalink
  17. Iron Knee wrote:

    Quidam, I don’t think I’ve heard of any religious groups who are asking for evolution to NOT be taught. They just want it taught as an unproven theory. But the problem is that they also want “Intelligent Design” to be taught as an alternative in classes that are supposed to be about science. I have a problem with that.

    The religious people who don’t want their children taught evolution likely already home school their children.

    Wednesday, March 26, 2014 at 3:32 pm | Permalink
  18. David Freeman wrote:

    It may be quibbling but many religious groups ARE “asking for evolution to NOT be taught”. They want an inaccurate straw-man to be presented beside a sympathetic presentation of ‘Intelligent Design’. Teaching the straw-man is not teaching evolution.

    Also keep in mind that ‘intelligent Design’ is merely a ploy developed by creationists in the late 80’s to get around the Supreme Court banning teaching creationism in public schools due to separation of church and state. Creationists, I assume, honestly believe creationism but when they started talking intelligent design it was just a scam.

    Wednesday, March 26, 2014 at 6:11 pm | Permalink
  19. Michael wrote:

    More specifically, I would say that many groups are asking for evolution to be taught as “theory, not fact.” They are fine with it being presented as some wild conjecture, but they want it presented us possibly or probably untrue. Of course, these are problem the same people that failed science class in school, because it is so obvious that they do not understand what constitutes a theory.

    Thursday, March 27, 2014 at 4:55 pm | Permalink
  20. Hassan wrote:

    When science is not even science

    Monday, March 31, 2014 at 9:42 pm | Permalink
  21. Iron Knee wrote:

    Hassan, what does asking random people for direct observable evidence have to do with anything? The word “kind” means nothing, and we DO have direct fossil evidence of dinosaurs evolving into birds. Just because it happens slower than any one person can observe doesn’t mean that it is not observable. Sometimes we have to use indirect evidence, like fossils. Or we make predictions and test them.

    Just to be clear, this video is at best propaganda. He could make the same video asking for direct observable evidence for electrons. Nobody can see those because they are too small. We don’t have direct observable evidence for electrons, but we have plenty of other evidence.

    As for “trusting” experts, I could go around asking random people if they have any direct evidence that there is no air in space. After all, rather few people have been in space, and none of them have removed their space suits to prove that there is no air. But we *trust* those people who have scientifically determined that there is no air in space, because they are scientists, and because their findings are tested over and over again by other scientists. There is not enough time to test every scientific theory ourselves, even ones that are directly observable (like the lack of air in space).

    I also have no evidence of quantum mechanics, other than the fact that I have a cell phone that I’m told is full of transistors that work only because of quantum mechanics. I trust the people who build these devices.

    Evolution is science. There is an overwhelming amount of evidence supporting it. If you don’t want to believe in evolution, that is your loss.

    Monday, March 31, 2014 at 11:32 pm | Permalink
  22. Hassan wrote:

    So Iron, is that going into territory of “logic”? Does logic come under science or philosophy?

    Also I want to know that given modern humans (the human DNA) has been around like 50,000 years (is that correct?) and things are evolving over billions of years. How come we do not have any human like competition? How come modern human has one single ancestor (was it male that had human DNA and female was still something not human yet?). Given the large quantity of species and billions of years to evolve, if human got evolved at today – 50k years, how come we do not have another human (not same ancestor) evolved at today -50k plus lets say 1000 years? (today-50k+1k). So isn’t it leap of faith on science that magically every other member of species that was one level before human DNA died/got extinct all over earth right when human came into existence. Is that true also for immediate parent of human as well? Did human minus one level species also originated from one single ancestor, not many? Closest relative to us today is some monkey, how come we have nothing in between, not a single one (which was historically present before, if they were not, then this point that I am raising will be invalid).

    The video also asked experts not common students of science only.

    I am surprised this indirect evidence you talk about is suddenly shelved when we talk about existence of God. Yes we have not seen Him, but that does not mean He is not there. “There is an overwhelming amount of evidence supporting it”.

    Tuesday, April 1, 2014 at 4:04 pm | Permalink
  23. Iron Knee wrote:

    Hassan, I am not trying to change your mind about religion or God. We all have our beliefs and it is not up to me to challenge yours. Why do you feel like you need to challenge my belief in evolution or other science? Indeed, from a scientific viewpoint, it would be nonsense to try to prove that God doesn’t exist.

    I know that I cannot personally test every scientific fact to make sure it is true — I have neither the time nor the resources (or the expertise) to do so. I am willing to trust (indeed, to have faith in) certain scientific facts because I know that there are plenty of scientists testing those facts.

    But it turns out that I am a (strictly amateur) follower of human ancestry. I’ve visited fossil beds in Africa that are not open to the public and talked to archaeologists who have spent their life studying human fossils and their ancestors. And there have been quite a few human ancestors who competed with each other. Most recently there were the Neanderthals, who lived from around half a million years ago until around 30,000 years ago (very recent in the scheme of things!). There is newer evidence that Neanderthals interbred with humans, so it is likely that current humans have more than one ancestor!

    Before that, there are plenty of human ancestors. The first is generally considered Homo habilis, the first evidence of which comes from 2.3 million years ago. Then Homo erectus and Homo ergaster, who were the first human ancestors to leave Africa and spread to Asia and Europe around 1.5 million years ago. There are plenty of other species — Homo heidelbergensis, Homo rhodesiensis, Homo antecessor, Homo denisova, Homo floresiensis (sometimes called hobbit-like!), and finally Homo neanderthalensis and Homo sapiens (us).

    I have personally seen skeletons of a few of these species. Some of them existed at the same times in history, and in close enough proximity that they interacted with each other.

    The 50,000 year date you quote for modern humans has more to do with when humans changed culturally rather than physically. That’s when we started using language, and developed symbology (including art). Anatomically modern humans evolved long before that, between around 400,000 and 200,000 years ago.

    The reason we don’t have other human-like species alive today is that modern humans spread all across the earth and killed off the other humanoid species. We did this repeatedly and likely with quite a bit of gusto (since the species were competing for the same food and land). Here’s a simplified chart showing how many of these species overlapped:

    The closest relative to us that is still alive is the Chimpanzee (which is technically not a monkey). There are fossils that are from species that are related to both Chimpanzees and humans, but whose species died out.

    There have been significant advances in our understanding of human ancestry in the last few years due to advances in DNA sequencing. I have had my DNA tested and know where my ancestors came from (both paternal and maternal). We have also discovered many new fossils recently of human ancestors. It is fascinating.

    Science develops theories, and as new evidence (fossils, or DNA techniques) becomes available, those theories are refined and our knowledge grows.

    Tuesday, April 1, 2014 at 7:09 pm | Permalink
  24. Hassan wrote:

    Iron, I do not mind everyone holding to their beliefs, the question is whats get taught in school. Do I force your children to learn creationism while you do not believe in it, or my children are forced to learn evolution specially related to humans as undisputed fact. Or we teach both.

    Tuesday, April 1, 2014 at 7:28 pm | Permalink
  25. Iron Knee wrote:

    I’m fine with teaching both.

    Evolution is science. If a school is teaching a science class, it should teach evolution.

    Creationism is religion. If a school wants to teach creationism, I’m fine with it being taught in a religion class.

    Teaching creationism in a science class is not acceptable.

    The Bible says that fowl (birds) walk on “all four” (Lev 11:20-21), that hares (rabbits) chew their cud (Lev 11:6), that camels do not have split hooves (Deut 14:7), and that mustard seeds grow into large trees (Matt 13:31-32). Should these “facts” be taught in biology class? Of course not.

    Tuesday, April 1, 2014 at 11:38 pm | Permalink
  26. Muqeem wrote:

    شركة تكسب: خدمة مقيم – التأشيرة الإلكترونية
    هي خدمة إلكترونية تحل بديلاً عن التعقيب اليدوي والمعقبين في الجوزات للكثير من معاملات المقيمين فمن مكتبك تستطيع عمل الكثير من الأمور بكل سهولة ويسر وبدون الذهاب إلى إدارة الجوازات
    وإلى جانب ذلك، توفر خدمة مقيم إمكانية أداء عدة خدمات مهمة للمقيمين من خلال الوصول إلى قواعد البيانات في أقسام جوازات السفر السعودية  بطريقة سريعة وآمنة.
    ويعتمد الاشتراك السنوي في خدمة مقيم على نظام الشرائح بحسب عدد المقيمين في الشركة بحيث يكون السعر ملائما لمختلف شرائح الشركات

    فوائد خدمة مقيم
    * توفير الوقت.
    * توفير الموارد البشرية واللوجستية والمالية.
    * إنتاجية أعلى، نتيجة لرضى الموظفين المقيمين.
    * قواعد بيانات حكومية رسمية بأدنى نسبة أخطاء في إدخال البيانات.
    * تقليل الغرامات على الشركات والموظفين من خلال نظام التنبيه الذكي لتجديد الإقامات ورخص القيادة   وتأشيرات الخروج والعودة.
    * إمكانية الدخول إلى خدمة مقيم من أي كمبيوتر متصل بالإنترنت عبر بوابة إلكترونية مخصصة.
    * ضمان الاتصال الآمن عبر الإنترنت وعدم المساس بخصوصية المعلومات
    من يمكنه الاستفاده من خدمة مقيم

    خدمة مقيم
    مصممة لشركات ومؤسسات القطاع الخاص التي تعين موظفين غيرسعوديين، لذلك يستفيد منها المدراء والمشرفون أدناه:
    مدراء العموم للمؤسسات.
    مدراء الموارد البشرية.
    مدراء شؤون الموظفين.
    المدراء الإداريون.
    مشرفو الموارد البشرية.
    مشرفو شؤون الموظفين.
    المشرفون الإداريون.
    أي موظف مفوض من شركته وله صلاحية استخدام خدمةمقيم

     نموذج الأشتراك 

    Friday, April 4, 2014 at 7:17 am | Permalink