When Will Religous Fundamentalists Stop Trying To Force Their Beliefs On Others?

Seriously, WHEN?  The evolution-Intelligent Design debate has been raging in Dover, PA, and other school districts have been experiencing problems as well.  Even though there are so many scientific inadequacies for ID theory (like the fact that it can’t be tested and there’s no scientific backing for it!), at least most ID proponents make some attempt to not openly proclaim it’s a religious thing.  Texas State Rep. Charlie Howard doesn’t even bother with subtlety:

“I don’t believe in evolution. I believe in creation,” he said. “Some of our books right now only teach evolution, [but] if you’re going to teach one, you ought to teach both.” 

The Houston-area lawmaker also said the State Board of Education, a Republican-controlled body with strong representation by social conservatives, should have the discretion to remove evolution segments from science textbooks.

*Sigh* Why can’t they just believe in their Biblical creationism in their personal lives?  Why try to irradicate scientific fact because it contradicts the writing of broze age tribesmen in the Middle East?  I’m actually hoping for some Hindu kid to use their own silly reasoning against them.  Perhaps s/he can insist that the Biblical account of creation does not match his/her beliefs that Vishnu commanded Brahma to create the world, and that “both sides” should be taught.  Yeah, we’ll see how they like it.  Or a non-Christian biology teacher teaching his own version of creation, since they are all for “teaching the controversy”.

It gets better:

Legislation similar to Howard’s includes House Bill 973 by state Rep. Jerry Madden, R-Richardson, and House Bill 2534 by state Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa. Chisum’s bill also states that textbooks cannot “encourage lifestyles that deviate from generally accepted standards of
society.”

And what are the generally accepted standards of society, exactly?  Some people don’t believe in interracial dating, and a few are even dumb enough to believe the races are a seperate species (and I wouldn’t be surprised if the majority of these people were found in TX).  Should textbooks which teach that humans are all the same species be banned for promoting a deviant lifestyle?  More importantly, what is it with the Southern states and censorship?  First Alabama tries to ban gay authors, now Texas wants to remove scientific facts from a science textbook.  It’s almost like Fahrenheit 451.  Funnily enough, I don’t the creators of these stupid bills have even read the book (they’d probably try to have it banned for promoting literacy and independent thought).

—Iolite
feeling sorry my mother grew up in Texas

36 thoughts on “When Will Religous Fundamentalists Stop Trying To Force Their Beliefs On Others?

  1. As an athiest…
    As a science teacher…
    As a free thinker…

    I grow tired of complaining about suxh foolery.  I now ask the question:

    What can we do about it?

  2. Well, I tend to believe there IS a way for religion and science to coexist. I mean Biblical accounts says God created the universe in 7 days, but who are we to say how long a day is for God? I mean he IS the Supreme Being! How do we know that 7 days to him isn’t roughly 4.5 billion years to us?

  3. What can we do? We can “play hardball”… seriously, when’s the last time we planned out how to take the country back? It’s time we got started!

    We can create dedicated servers using the information of hundreds of thousands of people to mass-spam in the form of protest every single time something goes weong that WE don’t like, for instance. We can use our political stations and careers to sponsor and guide people on the basis of public knowledge, to positions of power, using the internet and other dirt cheap technologies for virtually nothing (rather than splattering ourselves all over the television and limiting the race only to the guys with megabucks).

    We aren’t going to hold our own if we don’t fight back. We live in a highly competitive world. We are talking about scientists – often the most informed, logical, practical people in our society (whose works define the future) – being held back by large amounts of idiots! We have the truth at our disposal and a large medium to spill it in. We should start there, and rally support.

    I mean, complaining on blogs is nice, but what’s THAT going to do?

  4. Something tells me things are going to get a lot worse before they get better. The far-right has been trying to gain total control for decades now, and they’ve practically won. We can’t expect much change until the people get off their asses. And I don’t have enough faith in the American people anymore to hope that the change will come anytime soon.

    And Game Guru, I’m all for happy mediums too, but I don’t think it can apply in this case. Intelligent Design, for the most part, makes no effort to be true to science. Religion and science just aren’t meant to mix.

  5. What can we do about it?

    You have to do exactly what they do.

    -Group up, get together, talk about it, write about it, create opposition groups, put money in them, talk loud, scream loud, be a defender of your ideas. Never stop claiming high and clear that you are right, even if it’s not in your nature. Be firm in your positions, be proud, even if pride is some form of illusion.
    They got Arnold, get Bono, Get springsteen, get all these guys involved, play the game on their turf.

  6. You guys are insane. 

    The system of government isn’t going to collapse because of a few fundamentalist nuts, and the Right Wing Conspiracy is laughable at best. 

    I do agree you guys don’t get off your asses enough, if all the registered Democrats had actually voted last election, Bush wouldn’t have actually won his second term. 

    To be fair, there’s not a whole lot more evidence for evolution than there is for Intelligent Design if you believe in a god.  There’s more…but not much. 

    Seriously guys, relax.

  7. Well, I tend to believe there IS a way for religion and science to coexist.

    GameGuru, there are places and times for religion and science to happily coexist.  But science classes in public schools are not the place.

    As for ID- for anyone interested about the intellectual honesty of one of its founders, William Dembski, check out this link (and its crosslinks):

    http://evolutionblog.blogspot.com/2005/05/study-in-id-duplicity.html

    Briefly, what happened is this: Dembski got caught with his pants down, in a blatant example of “quote mining”.  This is basically quoting out of context to support a different (sometimes diametrically opposed) viewpoint than was intended by the quoted author.  An example- an author might have said: “The movie was great- for the braindead” and be quoted: “The movie was great”. 

    In this case, Dembski quoted a passage from a paleontologist, Peter Ward, about the apparent anomaly of the Cambrian explosion, to support the ID position that evolutionists are nonplussed by the sudden appearance of major groups.  This is of course a favorite hobby horse of Creationists.  What Dembski conveniently left out is that Ward was talking about how the Cambrian explosion had seemed to scientists to be sudden before we found the whole Precambrian series of Vendian and Ediacarian fossils, which he brought up later in the same book.  In other words, Dembksi dishonestly attributed an opinion to Ward which he does not hold.

    And how does Dembski answer this charge?  He doesn’t.  Just calls names.  Check it out yourself.

    Is this going to be a major blow to ID?  I hope so, but I’m not optimistic.  If logic were a strong suit of the people “The Wedge” of ID is aimed at, they wouldn’t have a chance anyway.

  8. Slick,

    The issue isn’t about evidence so much as that appeal to God or some form of intelligence is unecessary.  There are perfectly good automatic processes that we’ve seen in action that explain the progress of species adequately.  As such, appeal to an intelligent designer is pointless and is an expression of the dogmatism of a doctrinaire rather than an explanation for phenomena.

  9. P.S.  Who said anything about the system of gov’t falling apart.  People just said they’re sick of the ultra-religious trying to force their views on others.

  10. To be fair, there’s not a whole lot more evidence for evolution than there is for Intelligent Design if you believe in a god.  There’s more…but not much.

    I guess it depends upon what you mean by “evidence”, Slick.  If the Bible (or the Koran, or whatever) counts as “evidence”, then there is a lot more evidence, at least in terms of amount of logically coherent information, for evolution.  If you’re talking about scientific evidence, then there’s no contest, because ID has none.  All ID does, basically, point out stuff not yet explained by evolutionary science and say “Gee, that’s complicated.  Must be Designed”.

    ID is not a science, but a PR movement by creationists to convince the public that there’s a “controversy” about evolution, and the controversy must be taught, in order to be fair.  The only controversy, however, is the one the ID’ers have created themselves.  While there are of course disagreements about particulars of evolution (the meaning of the “Cambrian Explosion” is a good example), there is no disagreement about the basic fact of evolution within the scientific community.

  11. I wonder how it would go down if someone started pushing to have them teach about evolution in religious education classes. After all it’s tantamount to the same thing they are asking here isn’t it?

    I am generally very tolerant of other peoples beliefs being a pagan myself that’s generally the rule with us. However these fundie christians are starting to chafe me now.

    I was reading my local paper and saw an ad on the back for this Kings Family centre, their motto is “No God no peace, know god know peace” with a little smallprint tagline which reads “gathering all nations to worship the king”

    I am going to contact them and ask exactly how they can justify their statement, when it’s their religion that is one of the major catalysts for conflict in the world. I’d also like to know what they mean by gathering all nations, when it’s pretty clear that not all nations are or want to be christian.

  12. I am generally very tolerant of other peoples beliefs

    That and a bit of common sense from your part would actually constitute a weakness in the eyes of the fundamentalists. Your attitude makes you a nice person…..Nice guys finish last….

  13. I wonder how it would go down if someone started pushing to have them teach about evolution in religious education classes. After all it’s tantamount to the same thing they are asking here isn’t it?

    The difference amounts to this:  though evolution is taught in schools, it’s still called a theory—a very likely theory, but I don’t think anyone says “This is the absolute truth, no doubt about it.”  If one day scientist John or Joan Kepler comes across something that shows evolution is incorrect, or discovers a whole new way of explaining how we got here (let’s call it the Theory of Mass-Electromosis), then the school books would be changed.  Teachers would say, “For a long while, most scientists believed in evolution, but that’s been disproven.  Now most believe in TME, which is what we’re going to study this semester.”

    On the other hand, if a massive 500 foot tall blue giant with many heads and arms appeared in the skies over every major city on Earth and declared, “I am the final avatar of Lord Vishnu!” … do you think fundies everywhere would say, “Oops, guess we were wrong about that Christ thing.  Namaste, Mighty Vishnu!”  Of course not.  They’d say it was a hoax, or atmospheric disturbance (frantically calling upon the hated scientists to back them up), or Satan working his evil, or that God was testing us, and that we all needed to pray even harder and kill more gays and keep women out of the workplace and start burning witches again.

  14. They’d say it was a hoax, or atmospheric disturbance (frantically calling upon the hated scientists to back them up), or Satan working his evil, or that God was testing us, and that we all needed to pray even harder and kill more gays and keep women out of the workplace and start burning witches again.

    You say that like it’s a BAD thing! tongue wink

  15. I personally think these are Delusional Psychotics and should be treated as such.

    It is emarrassing to me as an American that this is even an issue.
    There is no controversy about evolution Vs creationism in the scientific community,  Creationism is a uniquely American phenomenon that is most prominent with those who have the least education, especially high school dropouts.  Note that Americans also have the lowest science scores in the West.  We are being laughed at on a Global scale.

    One thing that is absolutely certain, Creationist are not willing to accept the possibility that some future investigation or experiment will prove their beliefs are wrong, therefore trying to put ID/Creationism alongside of the overwhelmingly proven well beyond any reasonable doubt “Theory of Evolution” I find rather funny.
    Clergy for millennia have done exactly the opposite, have run from this conflict like rats off of a sinking ship because there simply isn’t any evidence at all to prove such a fairytale.
    Im thinking in the long run this could actually be a good thing because compared to Evolution, Creationism fails all the test of the “Scientific Method” miserably. So while ID/Creationism is certainly a total laughing stock on a global scale in the Scientific Community, with this surge of loons trying to push this IDiotism manure onto a public stage to be critiqued, reviewed, discussed and ultimately debunked then might really be just what the Psychiatrist ordered.

    Be kind of the same as the current higher gas prices are finally forcing the issue of fuel economy, or just simply another source of energy all together to replace oil.
    Without these higher gas prices SUV’s would still be selling like hotcakes forever & we would never really seek to replace oil.
    So maybe debunking Creationism/ID for the fairytale that it is and doing it in classrooms & in public arenas might just be the answer to educating the general public closer to factual reality where 99+% of the Scientific Community resides in.

  16. What I find interesting about this whole issue is that it seems to me that the only thing these people are going to accomplish is to shoot themselves in the foot.  I was reading a news story a couple of days ago about the Kansas Board of Education doing their own version of the Scopes trial, only this time how the game is rigged against the teaching of evolution when it struck me: these fools are sabotaging themselves.  I’ll give you an example of what I mean.  In the Soviet Union from the mid 20’s to the mid 60’s, agricultural research was headed up by this guy named Trofim Lysenko. Most of the researchers, geneticists and so forth, were basing their work on that of Mendel and Darwin, and getting good results.  Apparently Stalin decided that the Soviets were going to use this Lysenko guy’s crackpot pseudoscientific theories instead because they were more politically acceptable.  The end result?  A lot of people starved to death, some of those scientists were murdered, and to this day, Russian biology and genetics are comparatively backward in relation to most other countries.  My point is that if the ID proponents get their way, something very similar could happen over here.  How much do you want to bet that this country would fall way behind others in genetic research if the kids, the scientists of tomorrow, are fed this superstitious bullshit nonsense because it’s religiously, politically, or ideologically acceptable to whomever is in charge?  I have a vision in my head right now of Uncle Sam taking a shotgun and blasting his foot clean off.

  17. So while ID/Creationism is certainly a total laughing stock on a global scale in the Scientific Community…

    A friend of mine recently vacationed in Australia, and went on a nature hike led by the grandson (or great-grandson, I don’t remember) of Darwin himself.  This gentleman told the group Australians thought it was a ridiculous joke that Americans were actually debating evolution vs. creationism.

  18. This gentleman told the group Australians thought it was a ridiculous joke that Americans were actually debating evolution vs. creationism.

    Pretty much everyone in Canada thinks it’s ridiculous as well.  Though, I must admit I have ran into a person who was pro-Creationist but she was homeschooled because her parents thought that the public schools were “dens of evil”.

  19. “if all the registered Democrats had actually voted last election, Bush wouldn’t have actually won his second term.”

    Just a reminder that we need to have a paper trail before we can verify such a claim – and the US gov’t seems quite happy without one, dontcha think?

    At least as far as allowing a person to express their conflicts with things, I’m all for the idea of “debating” evolution. Let the religious think whatever they want. Everyone I know in Canada does not see indelligent design as scientifically founded. This is especially true when comparing ID with physics and mathematics, which have a degree of precision above and beyond the organizational principles of evolution.

    It’s ludicrous, but moreso that this stupidity hasn’t been thoroughly stomped into the ground. To me, everyone is to blame for the fact there’s any contest in evolution vs. ID.

  20. What I find interesting about this whole issue is that it seems to me that the only thing these people are going to accomplish is to shoot themselves in the foot.

    Don’t be offended but I think you’re wrong.
    I think they are well prepared to be laughed at.
    I think they are well ahead of us in that fight.
    They are a lot more agressive than we give them credit for.
    Although I am not American, I wonder how long it’s going to take before this nightmare reaches us here in Canada, Quebec. If… it reaches us.

    It has been announced this week by the minister of education that(in public schools at least)by 2008 there will be no more confessional religious education classes….Catholic education. It will be replaced by a “history of religions” class.

    Now some people are not going to be happy.

  21. From the begining of recorded history religon has been forced down peoples throats. In a vain attempt to control wealth and power and to make the masses compliant to whatever plan was in effect at the time, religion was beaten into them. Will it ever end? I seriously doubt that humans have the capacity to do away with some form af religious control of their lives. Some people (Like those of us here) are able to break the chains that have been wrapped around us from birth and throw off the shackles our parents placed on us. (Not that they knew they were stiffling our creative and inquisitive nature.)
    Religion is designed to control actions by controling thought. An example is sex. We are taught from birth that are bodies are dirty and disgusting when in fact the human body is a fantastic and complex machine that everyone of us should be amazed by.

  22. When then Canadian Alliance Party leader Stockwell Day expressed a belief in Creationism a few years ago the general response was derision.

  23. Serge, you make a good point. The Creationists are well prepared for a long fight. The goings-on in Kansas are terrifying.

    Creationism comes well packaged for a public already dumbed down by the media. Science is rigorous, has concepts not quickly or easily understood. The public will be inclined to follow the path of least resistance.

    The eggheads in science need to do a MUCH better job of communicating their discoveries. The world needs another Carl Sagan and then some…

  24. Yeah, I seriously hope that creationism never catches on up here in any circles.  However, I feel pretty confident that if it does, it’ll only be a fringe view that never gets seriously considered.  Unless we have CPC gov’ts for like 20 years in a row, and the CPC keeps going further to the right.

  25. The goings on in Kansas are terrifying.  I have family that lives there.  The county they live in is still a dry county.  I didn’t even know they still had dry counties until they moved there.

    MRK421 makes a good point though.  That is, scientists need to do a better job of communicating.  Part of the problem as I see it, is that the folks that could do a good job at educating them, folks like P.Z. Meyers, are hostile to evangelicals as a group.

  26. Consi,

    There are people like Michael Ruse (who happens to be a fellow canuck) who is pushing for a softer gentler approach in talking with IDers and creationists.  However, Ruse’s suggestion hasn’t been all that well received by the biological community in the US.

  27. Part of the problem as I see it, is that the folks that could do a good job at educating them, folks like P.Z. Meyers, are hostile to evangelicals as a group.

    If calling a spade a spade is “hostility”, then PZ Meyers is hostile, Consi.  If you want to see real hostility, though, check out the current controversy around IDist William Dembski at the link I quoted above.

    Part of the problem is that science simply doesn’t lend itself as well to PR as religion.  Sure, you can have Barney the Dinosaur, but to attain an in-depth understanding of why evolution explains our world in a way that ID, creationism, or Raelism do not, requires hard intellectual work.  The Bible, or the Koran or whatever, are much simpler to understand.  Many people are lazy and/or afraid of Hell, and go the path of less resistance.

    Another part of the problem, is that many scientists are now reluctant to engage directly with IDers, because when they have, this is pounced upon by the IDers as proof that there’s a scientific controversy that should be taught in public schools.  Of course, if scientists refuse to debate IDers, then that is gleefully termed “persecution”.  The truth is that there is no scientific controversy about ID- only a PR controversy.

  28. MRK421:

    Creationism comes well packaged for a public already dumbed down by the media. Science is rigorous, has concepts not quickly or easily understood. The public will be inclined to follow the path of least resistance.

    Absolutely.  How do you compete with a three word, monosyllabic sentence (God did it), the quintessential soundbyte. 

    Dumbing down the education system is what allows creationism to flourish.  It’s also the only way for no child to be left behind. 

    I agree with Jon Stewart’s “Some kids left behind” from the Daily Show last month.

  29. Well, yeah. Of course God shouldn’t be meantioned in a science class. God is not science. What I am complaining about is that these people claim to know how God’s Intelligent Design process works. Personally, if people want to teach creationism in a science class, then they should have to teach evolution in holy places. It’s only fair to give both equal time. The Creationists say so themselves. smile

  30. As an Australian, I too find it laughable that creationist thought exists in the 21st century.

    On a political note, our education system is now falling into total dissarray and during our last federal election campaign Chritian conservatives really pushed their “moral” buttons to get elected.

    Here, in OZ, I thought we believed in the separation of Church/Synagogue/Mosque and State, but the convergence is now happening.

    People of all types have the RIGHT to express themselves freely. This means a gay person may openly express their love and devotion for a partner, a Muslim woman to wear the chaddor if she chooses or a christian to not use contraceptive methods or the choice to believe in ID.

    What freedom of expression does not mean is the right to ram a set of beliefs down someone else’s throat or to make another practice what I/you belive…

    The fact that school boards in the US allow bullying to continue on the basis that homosexuality is bad just reinforces might is right.

    And can someone explain to me why it’s OK for the US to invade another country on the basis of it being a thocracy(Afghanistan) when it itself is heading that way?

  31. People of all types have the RIGHT to express themselves freely.

    I think you have left out a word here, kanga: between “types” and “have”, you need a “should”.

    Rights are not givens, neither from God nor Evolution.  They are human constructs which evolve in the ideosphere, and as such, must be formulated, refined, and defended against their enemies Bigotry and Fear.

  32. “And what are the generally accepted standards of society, exactly?”

    Good question, especially considering a story in WaPo today (May 10) about a deputy in North Carolina who got fired because she “co-habitates” with her boyfriend.  It seems there is a law on the books in NC (circa. 1805) declaring that living together is illegal, punishable by $1000 fine and 60 days in jail.

    Does a law like this indicate that living together is not now generally accepted in society?  Good God, half the country would be in the clink right now.

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