Tuesday, December 14, 2004

OK, I admit it. I don't understand Creationists. Why do they even care, in the first place? Is their version of religion so tenuous that it requires them to prevent others from asking questions and seeking answers? Apparently so! Creationists have gained control of the Cobb County Board of Education and have decided to place a sticker on science books.

This is what the sticker says:

"Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered."

The second sentence on the sticker is good advice, and, when applied to the first sentence, oddly enough, or perhaps predictably so, proves it to be a lie! I have never heard anyone, who accepts creationism, accurately define the theory of evolution. So it is in Cobb County, Georgia.

Here's the deal: Evolution is a fact. How evolution happens is the theory.

Darwin's book was called, "On the origin of species" and said absolutely nothing about the origin of living things. When asked about the actual origin of "living things" Darwin said something to the effect of,

"Dammed if I know!" Admitting that the question of how life began was unknown, he proposed to answer the question of how so many different species came to exist. Understanding this exposes the fundamental stupidity of creationists.

What Darwin's book did say was this:

Earth's fossil record appears to be deposited in temporal order, once geological upheaval is accounted for. When trash is thrown on the ground, and then more trash is thrown on the ground, the trash that was thrown on the ground first...is underneath the trash that was thrown on the ground second. In other words, if we pay attention, the fossil record can be viewed as a time line of the history of life on this planet.

As we look at the fossil time line, we can see that the oldest creatures were simple and that there were far fewer types (species) of them than in more recent periods of the record, so:

Speciation tends to increase with time in the fossil record except:

There are times when a large percentage of the complex forms of life in the fossil record stop appearing, like after asteroids hit the earth or great climate change occurs, yet, in following records life once again becomes increasingly complicated and diverse as the fossil record passes through time.

There are natural changes or mutations that occur naturally in most living and observable organisms, whether complex or simple, all produce offspring that differ from the parents in slight ways. (thank goodness!)

Natural selection appears to act as a filter which selects certain organisms for survival over others based on the slight mutational changes that give advantages under certain conditions that arise in the physical world.

Over time, a series of selections for a series of slight changes will result in a significant change from a generationally distant predecessor and the current organism will have become a species that is very distinct when compared to its ancestor.

There you go! Darwin's life work in a nutshell. Seems pretty obvious to me. But some folks don't want this to be true, which is counter to good sense, since it cannot be changed why not learn from it? We might be able to save the world, if we figure it out. We can figure out why the species that have disappeared from the ranks of the living, disappeared from the ranks of the living, and maybe use the info to keep our own particular species from, well, disappearing from the ranks of the living!

Creationists argue that there is little evidence for evolution...this is quite overwhelmingly false, but even considering the possibility that this statement might be true, we can see that the evidence for Creationism is nonexistent.

"Whoa!" I can hear them say, "What about the bible?...God's word?"

This is essentially the claim that God wrote the bible and that there is only one way to look at it. This requires aquiecscence to a particular belief system in order to accept. Well anybody who drives through any town in America will have to accept that essentially, no two sane people anywhere in this country agree on what is said in the bible! If that were even remotely so, there would be only one church...There is more than one church. Here in Roane County, Tennessee, we have nearly 100 different "Baptist" churches alone. They don't agree on much of anything except god bless our troops and that everybody else besides them is wrong and probably hellbound!

Science has no right or wrong except as it applies to methods for determining fact, as opposed to fiction, as opposed to what we can not determine one way or the other. Science is useful in this regard and as such is considered to be an enemy by certain religions. Why? Because some religions claim things that can not be true. Creationism does this, using the bible as evidence that the earth is only somewhere between 6,000 and 10,000 years old. But...the bible is not in any way evidence, in the scientific sense. The fact of a book is that it exists, not that the words and sentences within it are true or false. The fact that a book exists implies only existence not truth...but the book wil definitely exist and have order. Its atoms will follow the laws of physics with mathematical precision and predictability. The books existance is scientifically valid. Fact! Now here is another fact: The earth exists. The existance of the earth is fact, and like the bible, the earth has been interpreted in many languages, but unlike the bible the earth has actually been interpreted in every language ever spoken by mankind. Some of these interpretations we know to be false...The earth is neither flat, nor is it held upon the back of a giant turtle, as some fairly recent interpretations have held it to be. Nope, science lets us see that these interpretations were false, and science lets all who wish to read it, see that the fossil record proves the earth is far older than 10 thousand years.

The Earth exists. It's pieces obey the mathematically precise and predictable laws of physics. The fossil record within its layers obey the laws...and the fossil record has something to tell us. Some species die out and some don't. The cockroach has been around for a long time...so has the turtle. Primates are pretty young, as far as the fossil record is concerned and may not have much of a long term future. As of this moment, the highest primate on earth seems to be suicidal as a species. Several of its religions claim that the highest primate has only been around for 6000 years and we are all going to die... any second now... get ready! This is what fundamentalist Christianity has become...a death cult. "None of this matters, we're all going to die...any second now!"

Well, here comes science to the rescue...We are very unlikely to die off in any of the next seconds. Science has let us see that it will probably be a slow boil that does us in, AND...it doesn't have to happen. We can live as long as the cockroach if we work things right, but we have to get past certain suicidal tendencies of our species. We have to question everything, including what some people claim is inside some books...and unlike the Cobb County Board of Education, I think a sticker that has their second sentence on it would be wisely affixed to all books, not just the science ones.

After all, a book is a method of storing some sort of communication. If you took all the books in the world and could somehow sum up all the information contained in them, it would be less information that that stored in a handful of dirt from the forest floor behind my house. There is a bigger difference than just the amount of information stored in books and a handful of dirt: A handful of dirt from anywhere on earth will contain only facts. Dirt can not lie! A book can. Some of them are honest about their lies, and label themselves "Fiction". They will often contain some truth, too painful to be presented as such.

At any rate, when it comes down to what to believe...I will always believe Dirt.

Dirt is always completely, and brutally, honest. Unlike the Cobb County Board of Education.

http://more Cobb county here



Jesus appears in many religious stories that are separate from what we think of as Christiality. Here is one from the Sufi mystics:

Jesus was asked by a group of his followers to teach them the power of resurrecting the dead. He told them that this was a very powerful and dangerous thing to be able to do. Great wisdom was required to do such a thing and use its power for good. The men begged and begged and said they would be wise and that much good could come of their being able to bring people back from the dead. Jesus looked at the men making this request. "It is for all things to die," he said.

"Yes, but some great tragedies could be undone with this power," said they.

And Jesus taught them the power of undoing death.

The men walked with great joy at their newly received power. Traveling far they passed through a forest and came upon bones lying on the forest floor. Eager to use their new power, the men cried out in sadness for this death, so far into the woods, so lonely! Then they agreed to reverse this death and used their new power to restore the bones to life. In an instant the bones were restored to life and there before the men, stood a tiger... strong, renewed, and hungry! Freshly brought back to among the living, the tiger killed and ate all the men and lay down to sleep after his fine meal.


  1. Hi Steve,
    I thoroughly enjoy your essays. I particularly agree with your comment about Christianity being a death cult. I've never understood why people want to focus on the cross instead of, say, the rock rolled away from the tomb, or the egg, or the butterfly, all perfectly good christian symbols. enjoying this rolling theme, exploring religiosity, etc from previous posts, 10 commandments (don't make me go look it up!). Press on, hope you are feeling better.

  2. Hi CTB,

    Thanks for the well wish! I'm fine. Colds tend to leave me alone after a day or so. I can tell I have them but they don't slow me down much.

    One point to clarify: I only tagged "Fundamentalist Christianity" as a death cult. There are many branches that do concentrate on living a good life, loving others, and being happy, although I think other religions seem to do this better. I have run into two groups of disgustingly happy people in my world travels, Buddhist monk initiates and Patagonian peasants. Both lived a very simple and undemanding life. One was in the heart of one of the largest cities on earth and chose to be kind and seek happiness. The other was so far away from their government they were left alone to live a hard physical life where everyone was required to help everyone else in order to survive. It seems that Kindness, is the one truth.

  3. It seems that Kindness, is the one truth.


  4. "Evolution is a fact. How evolution happens is the theory."

    I want the bumper sticker! Preferably with a 'reality' fish eating the so-called 'truth' fish eating the 'Darwin' fish!