Why science education must be naturalistic

One of Creationists’ most serious objections to how science is taught to students in most public schools is that all supernatural explanations (miracles) are rejected out of hand, and this somehow limits the vision of scientists. But the truth is actually the opposite. To explain why, consider this scenario:

Supernatural explanation:

Child: Daddy, what causes lighting and thunder?

Father: God sends lightning bolts and thunder blasts to frighten people into submitting to His will.

Scientific explanation:

Child: Daddy, what causes lighting and thunder?

Father: Lightning is caused by unequal electric charges between two clouds or between a cloud and the ground causing a massive discharge of electricity. Thunder results from lightning heating the air and causing it to expand suddenly, producing powerful sound waves.

OK, Creationists, would you want BOTH these explanations taught in science classrooms regarding how weather occurs? Well that’s about as silly as requiring any form of Creationism taught alongside evolution! There is no evidence whatsoever that God directly causes lighting or thunder, and indeed such an idea might lead to the assumption that anyone struck by lighting was being punished by God. This is “magical thinking” which, if it had not been questioned centuries ago, would have prevented research into finding ways for people to avoid lighting by understanding how it behaves. Thus, any supernatural explanation, one that totally ignores or negates the known laws of physics and chemistry, would be no explanation at all, but merely an argument without evidence. And that is exactly why Creationism can never be scientific, but evolution is. Evolution is consistent with all known scientific laws, it is based on physical evidence, and it leads to more research. Acceptance of Creationism, or even the assumptions that allow for Creationism to be considered credible, would bring scientific advancement on almost any subject to a grinding halt, because you could then simply dismiss any unusual or complex phenomenon by saying “God did it, I believe that, so it’s settled”.

Therefore, there is no place for the supernatural in science education.

The Blunder from Down Under

An Australian member of Care2 known as Freediver has been a pain in my @$$ for nearly 2 1/2 years. He is mentioned in this earlier blog of mine:


Among other disgraces, he opposes the teaching of evolution as science in high schools, favors the harvesting of wild animals as an alternative to eating meat from factory farmed livestock, and even champions whaling, which is totally unnecessary since all the things that whales provide can come from other sources, whether natural or artificial. His arrogant manner of expression is highly offensive to many other Care2 members, who see him as a useless buffoon. But he somehow is possessed by delusions of grandure typical of sociopaths.


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A fake evolution site!

I’ve always known that the dogmas of Intelligent Design are unscientific and thus do not belong in any science class, but when I discovered how far some of its promoters were willing to go to trick people into reading their crap, I nearly blew a gasket in my brain!

First, look at this:


The home page has the title, “EVOLUTION NEWS & VIEWS” but this site is about anything but that. In fact, it contains news of, and arguments to promote, Intelligent Design.

To illustrate the incredible stupidity and dishonesty of the people running this website, I will cut and paste two articles from it. Continue reading

Dale Husband’s Evolution Experiment

One of the objections to the idea that various organisms living today have a common ancestry is that, while one may infer such a thing from fossil, structural, and molecular evidence, one can never actually see such processes of evolution happen because they would take millions of years, and thus human beings could never live long enough to see macroevolution directly. That would indeed be true if we could rely only on natural processes of random mutation and natural selection. But what if it was possible to accelerate the process of evolution, to use artificial selection and genetic engineering to test whether there are limits to how far evolution can go to a line of organisms?

First, we must consider that humans have already done artificial selection to plants and animals for thousands of years, resulting in higher food yields from those domesticated plants and animals we eat as well as various forms that have other purposes to us, including for companionship and for their beauty. Darwin used such cases of artificial selection as examples of evolution, and suggested that natural selection operated in a similar way. It stands to reason that we could use genetic engineering to both make greater changes to domesticated plants and animals and mimic natural selection as it may have happened over millions of years in the past.

Creationists have claimed that lines of organisms can evolve, but only to a certain degree; they could never go beyond the limits of a “created kind”. At present this is entirely an assumption based on dogmas drawn from the Bible. What we need is an experiment that could actually support or falsify that claim, and at the same time demonstrate evolution in action. And I have come up with just such an experiment.

It is common knowledge that crocodilians are distant relatives of birds, both being members of the Archosaur clade. Dinosaurs are also thought to belong to this same clade. My proposed experiment involves performing genetic engineering on crocodilians to see if one can turn them over several generations into dinosaur-like animals. One must note that while crocodilians are a sister group to dinosaurs and most are generalized in nature, birds are actual descendants of dinosaurs and most of them are highly specialized for flying. One might choose a rather unspecialized and flightless bird, such as an ostrich, for the subject of the experiment, or a typical crocodilian. The ostrich might be less suitable because to make a dinosaur-like creature from it would be both a backward step and would not be a spectacular enough change to demonstrate that there may be no limits to how lines of organisms may change in nature. Therefore, a crocodilian would be better. And in my judgment, the best possible subject would be the American alligator (Alligator mississippians) because it is unspecialized, readily available, and abundant, unlike some other crocodilian species, which are endangered.

Having selected our subject, we may proceed with the next step, which is to determined the entire sequence of the genetic code of the American alligator. After this is done, we then take a population of alligators and make a few changes to the alligator genes, the sort that could happen due to natural mutations. These changes may cause the offspring of the first generation of alligators to still look like members of the crocodile order, but with unusual traits that no current alligator or crocodile today has. Then we make a few further changes to the genes of the members of the second generation of alligators. We repeat this process for every succeeding generation until about a dozen or so generations of alligators have been produced, resulting in creatures that no longer even resemble alligators, but look like dinosaurs.

Anti-evolutionists may argue that while such an experiment may seem to show evolution in action, it would not prove that such changes can occur naturally, and would instead point to intelligent design. This argument, if its premise is accepted, would actually invalidate any experiment, since one could always claim that any experiment may not mimic exactly circumstances and processes that occurred millions of years ago. Also, the intelligent design claim would only be valid if we made the alligator to dinosaur leap in one generation, instead of taking a dozen or more generations as I am proposing.

If it turns out that in fact there is a mechanism which prevents genetic changes to a line of organisms beyond the limits of a “created kind”, then there may come a point in the experiment where attempts to make further changes to the alligator population fail and either the next generation members end up badly deformed or they do not change at all. After several attempts to make the changes have failed, the next logical step would be to find the mechanism and identify exactly how it works. We may then locate this same mechanism in many other species of animals and plants. And the discovery of this mechanism would put evolution as a valid theory to rest forever.

On the other hand, the success of the efforts to make dinosaur-like creatures from alligators would give vital support (but not absolute proof, for in science there is no such thing) to the idea that dinosaurs (and birds) could have evolved from very different animals naturally and would make Creationist claims look even more ridiculous than they already do.

Evolution 101

Evolution is the scientific theory that is intended to explain the diversity of life on Earth. The most basic definition of it is “cumulative change through time”. In biology, it says that populations of organisms are subject to change as a result of environmental factors acting on them and causing them to adapt to specific environmental changes.

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