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IL-GOV Wed Oct 06 2010

March of the Morons: Brady on Evolution and Creation

Darwin_ape.pngI have one question that I believe should be used to disqualify people from running for executive office. It is, "Do you accept the theory of evolution?" Anybody who says no should be disqualified. No, it's not a religious test that would violate the Article VI prohibition. It's a moron test. We could also ask, "Are you a moron?" but then we'd be less likely to get an honest response. This way we could actually root out the morons.

This has nothing to do with conservative/liberal, Democrat/Republican. Evolution is a fact--in fact, it's more than a fact. It is a theory built upon literally millions of facts. Believe whatever other thing you want, but denying that evolution took place--maybe not exactly how science now conceives, but that it took place in some way--is absolutely no different than denying gravity. Newtonian physics got the mechanics of gravity wrong, but that didn't make gravity itself wrong. If you think "the jury is out" on evolution, you're not particularly bright, willfully ignorant, or poorly educated (which may not be your fault, but still--probably shouldn't be elected to executive office).

Bill Brady thinks it's okay to teach Creationism in schools. By doing so, he betrays his claim that he accepts "both" creationism and evolution. Accepting both as equivalent to be taught is like saying you accept "both" the theory of electromagnetism and fish are delicious. I don't care about any of the rest of his politics. How can you vote for a person like that? Creationism in schools? Really? We want the US to create well-educated kids prepared to tackle the most significant problems of the future--not to mention stay on the cutting edge of science--and we're going to allow school districts to teach Creationism? How stupid is this guy?

Apparently immensely.

I want you to take a moment to think about the implications of a grown man running for an office at the top of one of the largest states in the most powerful nation on Earth saying that schools should be allowed to teach bronze age mythology as a substitute for a body of science so well proven that hypotheses made 150 years ago are borne out today by branches of science that didn't even exist at that time. He is either so stone dumb that he believes there is some equivalence here not based on superstition, or so pandering that he'd be willing to let generations of kids in this state be misinformed so he could win an election.

Really think about that Republicans. Particularly you, well-educated Republicans in suburban Chicagoland.

This man believes our public schools should be allowed to downplay a body of science accepted across the world and taught in most places as the unifying science behind all branches of biology and now even much of anthropology and psychology, and instead teach them stories specific to one narrow interpretation of one specific religious faith.

Is he stupid? Or a panderer? Those are the only options. He can couch it in "local control" of curricula all he wants. But you know if some LSC or school district decided to teach the KKK's view of the Civil War or, oh I don't know, a Marxist interpretation of American history, your support of local control would dissipate pretty quick. Have some intellectual honesty. How can you vote for somebody who would do something so unbelievably stupid--or reckless, as say school districts can just as well teach creationism as evolution?

UPDATE: I understand exactly what Brady said--that he wouldn't "stop" school districts from teaching creationism. Taking that position is, practically speaking, no different. If you accept the theory of evolution, then you would absolutely find it impossible to allow school districts to "teach" creationism in schools. The fact that Brady equivocated doesn't ameliorate what he is saying one bit. There's no gray area here, even ignoring the growing body of legal decisions (i.e., see Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District) that have held that such "education" is a facial violation of the establishment clause. From a science education perspective, saying school boards should be permitted to teach creationism is inconceivable.

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Mahdi / October 6, 2010 4:26 PM

Is it really accepted throughout the Islamic world that life was not created by Allah?

Yeah, guess not.

You may want to keep your voice down. You wouldn't want to upset followers of that religion. They are almost as violent as those voracious tea partiers.

So lets go to the actual quote: "I believe local school districts should establish the curriculum when it comes to those things" (OMG! Its like he is channeling Mussolini! He's affirming the citizen's right to govern themselves!)

Really what you are trying to do is bash Christianity in a smarmy little way, because that in your worldview, that belief system is lesser than your own.

Aren't progressives supposed to belive in multiculturalism? Aren't progressives constantly preaching about community based solutions?

Ramsin / October 6, 2010 4:36 PM

Are you assuming I'm a Muslim? I'm not. Even if I was, that wouldn't change the fact that evolution is a body of science that has proven itself.

Evolution is not a "belief system." It is a scientific theory that has survived 150 years of scientific scrutiny, not to mention ignorant onslaughts of pseudoscience and hysteria by religious fundamentalists and relativist social theorists.

Most of Christendon has come to terms with the *fact* of evolution. I.e., The Vatican Lutherans and Methodists have all issued official statements finding evolution to be compatible with their interpretation of creation. This has nothing to do with "bashing" (your version of) Christianity and everything to do with facts and truth.

I don't really care what your caricature of "progressives" says about multiculturalism. I'm not a cultural relativist and neither are many leftists, in fact. Your odd contention that there can be competing truths--i.e., creationism and evolution--and that creationism should be taught in schools along with evolution is the worst kind of relativism that, supposedly, conservatives hate.

Mahdi / October 6, 2010 4:44 PM

Scientific theory does not equal truth.

Ramsin / October 6, 2010 4:48 PM

Gravity is a theory; electromagnetism is a theory. Evolution is a scientific theory--not a theory in the lay sense of a guesstimate. Evolution is true. There's no scientific debate about that whatsoever.

Ramsin / October 6, 2010 4:54 PM

Also--community based solutions? Do you honestly believe that scientific fact can be arrived at through community-based solutions? Do you think that's what is meant by that phrase? Let communities decide what is true and what isn't? What if your community decided to teach that Black people are inferior to whites? Or what if the community of Dearborn, Michigan elected a school board that required Quranic schooling?

You can't say you believe in evolution and then say that creationism should be taught in schools. That means you don't believe in evolution. If you don't believe in evolution, I'm sorry, you shouldn't be making decisions about children's education.

Corey / October 6, 2010 5:03 PM

"Scientific theory does not equal truth."

Yay, more non-sequiturs! Creationism does not follow the methodology or rules of evidence for scientific inquiry, yet we should teach it in science classes? People should be allowed to define "science" for themselves! Anything goes!

Mahdi / October 6, 2010 7:04 PM

You started out by saying that evolution is widely accepted throughout the world, which I pointed out is not really the case. You then follow that up by calling candidate Brady intellectually dishonest, when your line of attack attributes your assumptions and bigotry to his opinion (which is itself very intellectually dishonest).

Brady's comment illustrates that he supports local school boards to set their curriculum. You took that and applied your beliefs, which you presume to be unquestionable truth. That illustrates that you have a more fundamentalist approach, in regards to strict adherence to ideology, than does the candidate. At least Brady sounds reasonable in saying he trusts the will of the school board.

Then you try to peddle this foolishness that scientific theory is undeniable truth. This could not be more wrong.

Yes, gravity is a scientific theory. Electromagnetism is also a scientific theory. Classic elemental theory was thought to be unquestionable until the discovery of subatomic particles. Newton's first theory of light was found to be false. Alchemy was a scientific theory. Phrenology? Global cooling (in the 70's)? Global warming (in the 00's)?

You suffer from what is called survivor bias, which is that you only take into account what survives; you do not notice what does not survive. For every theory that is held valid, there are multitudes that are held to be invalid.
If you take note of the theories that were proven false, you may take a less fundamentalist approach to your "truth" (perhaps absolutism is a better description). It may simply be a matter of timing before a theory that you hold as undeniable truth is refuted.

So you ask how someone can vote for a candidate who does not take an absolute position on this issue, and I can simply say that it is the more liberal choice (in the classic sense).

(and yes, this comes from someone who believes in evolution, but doesn't accept it as absolute fact. I recognize the merits of what we know and understand that it is impossible to know all that there is to know. When you grow older you too will understand this)

Ramsin / October 6, 2010 9:26 PM

You may accept evolution, but you clearly don't understand it. That species evolve through a process of natural selection is not in doubt. Whether global cooling or warming is wrong, the overarching metereological paradigms in which climate scientists operate are not in question. There is plenty of debate over the mechanics of evolution--for example on what level natural selection operates, or whether it operates on multiple levels--but that species evolve incrementally via natural selection is, again, not in question.

That you would even compare phrenology and alchemy (really? alchemy? That was abandoned as a science before the Enlightenment) to evolution shows the profound, chasmic depths of your ignorance on the issue.

You are confusing hypotheses with theories. Evolution via natural selection, again, is not in doubt. It is certainly not weak enough as a theory that it should ever be taught alongside creationism (not even intelligent design--creationism!) in science classes. Science.

You attempt at false equivalence--calling this fundamentalism or absolutism--fails any reasonability test. I don't accept evolution based on authority or tradition, but because of the overwhelming body of evidence--millions of fossils, generations of peer-reviewed experiments and observations, and the enormous molecular genetic evidence that, even without a single fossil, would be enough to prove evolution by natural selection as a paradigm for biology.

Brady is saying that as the government executive he would take the position that creationism could be taught in schools if localities so wish--is that a principle you really support? Again, what if a community made up of 50%+1 of fundamentalist Muslims decided to institute Quranic education?

This isn't merely a legislator stating an opinion, but someone trying to become an executive with real agency on the matter saying what he would support or permit. That, for practical purposes, is qualitatively different from just saying he generally accepts the principle of local control. We obviously all agree that there is a reasonability test that applies. And teaching creationism alongside evolution in science classes is not reasonable. Evolution by natural selection is not by any measure in doubt. Could our understanding of how it works change? It absolutely WILL change. All science does. Does the creation myth change? Can it be tested? No. It isn't science. But the understanding we have of how species change over time--the principle of evolution by natural selection--will not.

No, it isn't reasonable. It is in fact immensely moronic.

Thus the title of this post.

Bob Carroll / October 7, 2010 7:04 AM

There is a bit of confusion in this discussion concerning the nature of scientific theories. A theory should be seen as an explanation of a body of facts.
With this in mind, evolution is both theory and fact; two related concepts using one term- not an unheard of situation. The fact of evolution: it occurs. Common descent is true. There is massive experimental evidence supporting this. The theory of evolution: how it happens, i. e. the mechanism underlying the facts. Darwin proposed natural selection as this mechanism. The majority of biologists accept this as one (among several) key process which underlies the observed facts.
Similarly. gravity can be seen as both theory and fact. Newton got the fact of grsvity about right: his description of gravity is still useful to this day. Gravitational theory is still not well understood.

Don Seibert / October 7, 2010 7:08 AM

Creationism interprets the Bible literally. If the Bible is interpreted figuratively, i.e. a day in the Genesis story could mean eons, then the biblical story of creation and evolution can coexist. The worry from the religious side is that the figurative interpretation of the bible is a slippery slope that taken to its extreme conclusion opens the door for atheism. This is extremely troubling to religious folk on both personal and social levels.

Often these debates are talking past one another. Evolution uses the scientific method as justification and the findings are repeatable and hence accepted as fact within a certain level of variance (p values in scientific parlance). What the scientists don't often discuss is the spiritual side of the the human condition. To deny that we have a spiritual component is as silly as to deny evolution. It is part of our makeup. One of my favorite writings on breaking down consciousness is Sartre's Being and Nothingness, in which he argues our conscious and subconscious minds cannot communicate to a satisfactory level. This phenomenon adds to the haziness of the spiritual perspective and may even be an evolutionary survival mechanism. But the church has a long history of dealing with this phenomenon and reasonable theologeons are good resources for helping to elucidate the complexities of the human condition.

Ultimately I believe both the church and the scientific communities will exist long after everyone reading this blog is dead, and so all religions and science must find a way to coexist peacefully and that is my goal.

Terry Trainor / October 7, 2010 7:09 AM

Let us put your test into the context of history. Should we have asked people running for office "Do you believe bleeding will cure illness?", "Do you believe medical problems can be diagnosed via bumps on your head?", "Do you believe heavier-than-air flight is impossible?" or "do you believe the world is flat?"
Current scientific theories, no matter how popular, should never be any kind of 'litmus test' for office of any kind. Such a test would promote the status-quo over innovative thought. Under such a system, no scientific advances which require public funds would ever be made.

Mark / October 7, 2010 12:20 PM

I strongly believe in evolution (it is a fact)and am a very outspoken anti-creationist. I have no problem with schools teaching creation as long as it's not in a science classroom. I am confident in the intelligence of children and feel the vast majority of them are smart enough to believe the truth. What better way to convince children of the truth of evolution than to present them with creationism.

Ramsin / October 7, 2010 12:32 PM


Thanks for the clarification. You said better what I was attempting to say.

Ramsin / October 7, 2010 12:42 PM


If schools want to teach comparative creation mythology (of many different faiths and cultures) in a history or literature class, they should. I agree. But you couldn't limit it to the Abrahamic creation myths for obvious First Amendment reasons, particularly as fact.

Shira / October 7, 2010 1:08 PM

You're dead-on, Ramsin. Thanks for posting this.

That Chick from Rick's One Class / October 7, 2010 2:15 PM

I don't think there's no such thing as evolution, because you never see no chimps in the jungle giving birth to no humans.

W / October 7, 2010 2:41 PM

We reward candidates who pander to religion, but punish those who stand firm on accepting reality, like proven science.

It's becoming easier to predict what the US will look like in a generation.

gmv / October 8, 2010 4:04 PM

Two problems prevent anyone from legitimately calling evolution a theory. First, there’s no direct, observable experiment that can ever be performed. Scientists can measure bones, study mutations, decode DNA, and notice similarities in morphology (the form and structure of animals and plants), but they can never test evolutionary events in the past.

Some point to natural selection as a form of “evolution in action,” but natural selection can only act upon the genetic potential that already exists. What we do observe from natural selection fits perfectly with a recent creation and does not point to common descent.

Secondly, and related to the above, evolution misses the mark as a theory because all the supposed “tests” to confirm Darwinism do not necessarily and distinctively correspond to the idea. In other words, each has an alternate and equally viable explanation. A theory requires that the confirming experiments correspond to one specific hypothesis. Otherwise, the experiment cannot establish legitimacy. Evolution has no such legitimacy.

So What Is It?

Evolution, at its core, is a necessary requirement of naturalism. Since naturalists cannot allow a higher power, they must rely on a form of spontaneous generation and the unguided development of life. Either someone or something created, or nature created itself.

Because naturalism depends on this assumption, evolution artificially carries the weight of a theory for naturalists—without meeting the requirements. Evolution has been grafted in simply out of the desire to deny the Creator.

w / October 9, 2010 9:16 PM

GMV - Wow. You don't actually know what evolution is.

Yes, it is actually observable, and has been observed.

Hundreds of thousands of hypotheses tested; biology, embryology, genetics - fossils don't even need to exist to prove evolution is an actual thing that not only happened, but is still happening. You can even see it under a microscope if you like.

That you think there is a worldwide conspiracy by scientists with Darwin as its creator- that's "stuck" for 150 years-just to create a fake scientific field in order to deny the god you happen to believe in is....

...what's the word....


Bryan in Illinois / October 10, 2010 10:19 PM

Ramsin is so right with this topic that it hurts. Science and math are simple facts. While our understanding of evolution and the natural history of the Earth will develop over time, evolution is clearly a theory based on a great deal of evidence. Encouraging communities to decide this themselves is like encouraging alternative maths...

"Maybe 1+1=2 for typical values of 1, but some people have suggested that sometimes 1+1=3 for special values of 1...What do you think of that, class?"

Is this how you would teach math? No, its ridiculous. Why would we approach science any different?

GMV / October 11, 2010 9:32 AM

W - All we have are observations in the present, which we interpret by our philosophical assumptions and biases. We cannot reproduce the origin of the first living cell; we cannot reproduce the evolution of fish, or mammals, or whales, or people. All we have are observations in the present.

You cannot "see" evolution under a microscope. Natural selection, yes, but that's not evolution.

Naturalism REQUIRES a natural (no-God) mechanism to explain the existence of the universe and life on this earth. How have evolutionary scientists proven the existence of the universe from nothing? How have they proven the existence of life on earth from non-life. They have not. Rather, they say, "Well, the universe is here and we are here, so it must have happened." That's not good enough for me. Abiogenesis and evolution go against the basic laws of nature and science. Open your eyes and do some research and thinking for yourself.

In addition, the process of "science" is well known for stifling research, fudging numbers, squashing dissent, etc. It is not a pure search for truth. The religion of naturalism and atheism has its high priests, and they are doing what they can to gain control and do away with all dissent . . . and do away with any accountability to the Creator.

W / October 11, 2010 12:15 PM

Your sad god is the god of the [knowledge] gaps. So the more science progresses, the smaller your god becomes.

We have seen evolution (through natural selection - which is the ACTUAL process of evolution) in living things like lizards being moved to different islands and in just 20 years developing different jaws and stomachs - that IS evolution THROUGH natural selection. Do you actually understand what that is? And yes, we have seen it under a microscope as well.

Saying "naturalism" requires no god is kind of a moot point. "Religion" requires that there is a god. So? That is why they are the things they are. In fact, that's what makes religion so lazy: "God did it" is always the answer. Science isn't so lazy. Of COURSE a scientist will never say a god is the answer, anymore than an evangelical will say "science" is the answer. Except only one of those things is materially real. And should be taught as real in our science classes.

Evolutionary biology does not bother with origins of the universe. Physics does. Ask a physicist and he will give you limitless theories. But don't forget that just because science cannot (yet) answer a question, logic does not follow that "God did it." Your god of the gaps will continue to shrink.

Oh, and scientists have already constructed a living cell from scratch. And it will one day create DNA from scratch. And so on and so forth, because science doesn't stop at "god did it."

What gaps will your god have to close then?

Blake Flint / October 21, 2010 9:44 AM

In reply to "scientists have already constructed a living cell from scratch" -
Looks like we can add "Intelligent Design" to the curriculum. The living cell was designed, not assembled by chance. Hm.
Cheers, Blake

W / October 23, 2010 10:02 AM

Again, just because the existence of the universe - the last desperate grasp of the religious - hasn't been proven yet, doesn't automatically mean "god did it". Even if it is never, ever discovered, it still doesn't mean a god did it. Besides, if everything must be designed, then who designed the designer. Unless of course he's the one exception right? Oh, of course.

But, whatever gap your god needs to fill for now is up to you.

Gabriel Hernandez / January 15, 2014 12:35 PM

I will never accept evolution as fact for one reason. We do not have perfect knowledge or perception to come out with facts about history from long ago. Do we know exactly what happened at very specific times? Have we seen the scroll of time for all things in existence and know each one? Have we existed when all things came to being that we can say we are the authors of perfect knowledge?
Hold perfectly in your hand absolute knowledge. If not, you don't have any answers that I can believe in.

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