Eugenie Scott: Creationism and Intelligent Design Part 02
Eugenie Scott: Creationism and Intelligent Design Part 02
Eugenie Scott: Creationism and Intelligent Design Part 01
Creator of Literal Genesis Trial believes people who argue in favor of evolution are at a scientific disadvantage
A Californiacreationist is offering a $10,000 challenge to anyone who can prove in front of a judge that science contradicts the literal interpretation of the book of Genesis.
Dr Joseph Mastropaolo, who says he has set up the contest, the Literal Genesis Trial, in the hope of improving the quality of arguments between creationists and evolutionists, has pledged to put $10,000 of his own money into an escrow account before the debate. His competitor would be expected to do the same. The winner would take the $20,000 balance.
The argument would not be made in a formal court, but under an alternative dispute resolution model known as a minitrial. Mastropaolo said he would present the argument in favor of a literal interpretation of the creation story once he had found a willing scientist to argue that a non-literal interpretation of Genesis is more scientific.
"They [evolutionists] are not stupid people, they are bright, but they are bright enough to know there is no scientific evidence they can give in a minitrial," Mastropaolo said.
A minitrial differs from a regular trial because it does not need to be held in a courthouse and does not require the presence of traditional court figures. Mastropaolo plans to have a bailiff and court reporter in attendance, along with the judge. Contest rules state that evidence must be scientific, which means it is “objective, valid, reliable and calibrated”.
Mastropaolo believes thatevolutioncannot be proved scientifically. “It turns out that there is nothing in the universe [that] is evolving, everything is devolving, everything is going in the opposite direction,” he said.
Mastropaolo started making public arguments in favor ofcreationismabout 13 years ago, after reading an article about evolution in the newspaper. He has a PhD in kinesiology and taught biomechanics and physiology at a California university for more than 25 years. He is now a contributing writer at theCreation Science Hall of Fame, which is collaborating with him for the minitrial. The Creation Science Hall of Fame is a website, launched in February 2012, that honors those who have made contributions to creation science.
A majority of scientists disavow creationism, buta June 2012 Gallup pollshowed that 46% of Americans believed in a literal interpretation of the biblical version of creation. Legislation to allow students to be taught religious versions of the creation of life is currently beingconsidered in four states.
The Literal Genesis Trial contest would be held in a courthouse in Santa Ana, California and Mastropaolo has said he will create a list of potential superior court judges to decide the case. The participants would have to agree on a judge. Mastropaolo said that he hopes the trials can improve future debates between evolutionists and creationists by addressing the issue in a legal and scientific way.
"The evolutionists thereafter could read that transcript and make their case a bit stronger on the next one they contend against and we can do the same," Mastropaolo said. "We can read the transcript and not have have to go through the same process over and over and over again without any let up, without any resolution."
Let’s keep a tally of how many times he turns down real evidence on some goal-moving stupid technicality.
But really. This guy should just be ignored. It’s obvious that he has literally no idea of what he’s talking about. For a real scientist to go and ‘debate’ this man, would put a veneer of respectability on him and his ‘evidence’.
Which is, of course, what he wants.
Bill Nye, the famed “Science Guy,” found himself the center of attention this week after a video in which he saidcreationism should not be taught to childrenwent viral.
"I say to the grownups, ‘If you want to deny evolution and live in your world that’s completely inconsistent with everything we’ve observed in the universe that’s fine," Nye says in the video. "But don’t make your kids do it.’"
Of course,the Twitterverseand many viewers had a strong response. The Huffington Post reached out to Nye to ask him more about science, religion and teaching creationism in school.
What’s the best scientific argument against creationism?
Unlike science, creationism cannot predict anything, and it cannot provide satisfactory answers about the past. The examples would be nearly limitless. Why does radioactive dating indicate that the world is 4.54 billion years old, if radioactivity is not a feature of nature?
Should teaching creationism be against the law?
Teaching creationism in science class as an alternative to evolution is inappropriate.
Tax dollars intended for science education must not be used to teach creationism as any sort of real explanation of nature, because any observation or process of inference about our origin and the nature of the universe disproves creationism in every respect. Creationism provides no insight whatsoever into nature. Creationism might be taught in a philosophy, psychology, or history of science class, for example.
Is religion inconsistent with science?
If your religion is inconsistent with science, consider tempering your beliefs. For me, the claims of creationism are completely unreasonable.
Judge Jones in Dover, Pennsylvania, used the expression “breathtaking inanity,” meaning so empty, so silly that it took his breath away. The age of the Earth is very close to 4.54 billion years rather than a millionth of that time. The idea that fossils were buried in the Earth by some hidden deity to test ones faith is completely unsatisfactory. We can observe the processes of evolution, physics and especially geology everywhere every day. To deny what I see around me is unacceptable to me. Science is the acceptance of what you observe and seeking the natural laws that cause these effects.
How can science-minded people make it “safe” for believers to acknowledge that evolution is real?
The bible that is often cited as a guide to natural law has been translated from other ancient languages. There must be countless subtleties and nuances that are literally lost in translation. I got into good bit of controversy, when I showed an audience in Waco, Texas, USA that the bible, as translated into English, claims that the Sun lights the day, and the Moon lights the night. I pointed out that this translation is unsettling. To my ear, it doesn’t seem as though the author realized that the Moon’s light is reflected sunlight. It seems to me that many ancient people may have realized that the Moon casts reflected light, but it’s lost in translation. This being but one example.
Will anything good be lost if creationism disappears?
Because of the robustness of our historical records, creationism will probably never disappear as such; instead, creationism can be used in classrooms and conversations to illustrate the process of science.
To wit, people once accepted an idea that the Earth was built in a week. In recent centuries, we have discovered the actual nature of nature. The process of science debunked and disproved the old idea, so it was cast aside for a better idea.
Did you ever believe in creationism? If so, what changed your mind?
The biblical stories were presented to me, but they never seemed reasonable.
I remember asking about Noah’s ark. Did he look after the invertebrates: the bees, for example? What about the yellow-jackets? And, the black wasps that stung me a few times? All those ants? There’s no mention of the most numerous organisms in my world. As a kid, I remember imagining a series of barges full of soil to be pulled like trailers behind this big boat. Grownups explained that it was just a story (whatever that meant). I remember asking, what was the point of the story? What was this guy’s idea to get animals two-by-two? What did he hope to accomplish, if all the bees, worms, oak trees, and rosebushes were gone? Let alone the question: why did he let the poison ivy come back? He missed a huge opportunity, etc. It was never satisfying to my mind.
If you could speak directly to the children of creationists, what would you say?
Hang in there.
There is another amazing, exciting, inspiring way to know the world, one that will fill you with joy and reverence. Pick your battles with grownups. These creation ideas are important to the grownups in your life right now. Accept that.
Do your views place your personal safety in jeopardy?
We’ll see. You don’t get shot down, if you’re not flying.
We are at a turning point, a crossroads in human history. Climate change or an asteroid impact can only be addressed with science. Shooting the messenger is not going to make creationism able to explain anything in the natural world. It still will be completely unsatisfactory and useless to anyone trying to solve an engineering problem in the real world. No science; no asteroid deflection.
Do you have any superstitions?
None that I know of. I change my socks often, because I had bad bouts of athelete’s foot fungus infections as a kid. I may be able to change socks less frequently and not get the fungus. But, I’d rather not run the test to determine just how infrequently I could change socks. I don’t feel superstitious about it.
Who is your favorite scientist?
Don’t make me pick.
Michael Faraday was amazing. He clearly realized that his discovery of a means to generate electricity, would change the world. I have great admiration for my physics teacher George Lang and my old professor Carl Sagan; he changed the world. My dad was no slouch, either. My older brother Darby continually showed me wonderful scientific principles.
The big step comes when you can convince yourself of the truth of a natural law. It changes the way you think of everything around you.
Yesterday I blogged about a new Gallup poll revealing that 46 per cent of Americans hold creationist views, but today attention shifts around the globe to South Korea, following news that school textbook publishers are to remove several references to evolution from future editions as a result of a successful petition by a creationist organisation.
According to a report in the latest issue of Nature, the Society for Textbook Revise, an offshoot of the Korea Association for Creation Research, launched a petition calling on the South Korean Ministry of Education, Science and Technology to ask publishers to remove examples concerning the evolution of the horse and Archaeopteryx, a winged Late Jurassic creature believed to be an ancestor of modern birds. After the Ministry passed on the petition to textbook publishers, several took the decision to remove the examples from their books.
The focus on the specific example of Archaeopteryx represents a common creationist tactic, whereby genuine disputes among evolutionary biologists are exploited in an attempt to undermine the science as a whole. Archaeopteryx has long been believed to have been an ancient ancestor of birds, but more recent studies have suggested the connection to modern birds may not be as clear as was previously thought. Having successfully taken advantage of that particular scientific debate, the Society for Textbook Revise are apparently now aiming to persuade publishers to remove references to “the evolution of humans”.
Figures for those not believing in evolution in South Korea are relatively high, with almost one-third of those surveyed in a 2009 poll saying they did not. Considering that only 26 per cent of Koreans are Christian, it is possible that the problem lies with science education rather than religion – 41 per cent of those disputing evolution in the 2009 survey cited “insufficient scientific evidence”, compared with 39 per cent who cited religious beliefs. Speaking to Nature Dayk Jang, an evolutionary scientist at Seoul National University, suggests evolution is not taught widely enough in the country’s universities, with “only 5–10 evolutionary scientists” teaching the theory to students across the entire university system.
This doesn’t surprise me. This is my neck of the woods right now, and the sheer amount of crosses I see, on every damn street, flashing neon from roof-tops, Religious Iconography in windows and store-fronts…I swear, it’s worse than America.