A theory in Florida

Glenn Branch, of the National Center for Science Education, used Florida as a backdrop for a recent journal article about the history of the word theory when used in reference to evolution, and how confusion over that word affects education today.

It is not enough simply to explain the distinction between the vernacular and scientific uses of the word. As Brian Alters and Sandra Alters explain, “student misconceptions… are not easily changed.… In learning evolutionary concepts in particular, students appear to need an extended exposure to and interaction with these concepts for growth in their understanding to occur.”

About Brandon Haught

Communications Director for Florida Citizens for Science.
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30 Responses to A theory in Florida

  1. Jonathan Smith says:

    I remember sitting in my chair (next to Sir Professor Harold Kroto no less) at the Florida Board of Educations meeting waiting for the board to vote on the new, Sunshine State Science Standards.
    Then it was announced that the phrase “the scientific theory of” was to be inserted before the word evolution, although evolution was not to be singled out, all the other tenants of science were to receive equal treatment. Well I have to admit that I almost bust out in a fit of hysterical laughter, the creationist protesting the new standards in their abject ignorance, had made a feeble minded ERROR.
    Knowing that calling TOE “just a theory, is a creationist staple “dumbism”they apparently considered this a victory; instead (much to the chagrin of their slightly more scientific literate allies at the DI) they simple tricked themselves into a compromise which did nothing to further their position.
    So, in other words their ignorance of scientific terminology back fired on them and they failed to realize the monumental mistake they had made.

  2. ABO says:

    Wow the definition of the scientific word “theory” really snowballed those religious fanatics. However it has been said that evolutionist don’t know what religion is. Thereby not being able to determine what religion is, they have left themselves wide open to be accused of having an atheistic religious doctrine.

    Here is an opportunity to set the record straight. Tear em up guys! http://www.josephmastropaolo.com/prize.html

  3. Wolfhound says:

    Hey, Sweetcheeks, most of here used to actually BE religious, more specifically some flavor of Christianity, although not as crazy as yours, I’d wager. The only people have “said” that “evolutionists” (gotta love the creotard use of that made-up term as a pejorative, along with “Darwinist”) don’t know what religion is are the asshats who try to conflate acceptance of what is to them a distasteful scientific fact to sectarian dogma. It’s called “projection”. You suffer from this particular mental malady most excessively, ABO.

  4. ninewands says:

    ABO wrote:

    “Here is an opportunity to set the record straight. Tear em up guys! http://www.josephmastropaolo.com/prize.html

    Been there, done that. Ever hear of Kitzmiller v. Dover?

    Jeez … even if creos can’t keep up with the science you’d THINK they could keep up with the news!

  5. Noodlicious says:

    ABO, you really are just another, in a loooong looonnng procession of noob creo trolls, who hasn’t done any homework!

    Complete mental laziness!

    Oh…here’s a thought….instead of just swallowing whatever propaganda that the religion sales websites, that you obviously worship feed you, why don’t you at least check the status of exactly what creationist BS has already crashed and burned before you even begin to over evaluate your own *knowledge* (?) and wit.
    I saw your posts on the Expelled blog way back when ABO.

    They were incinerated then. De je vu!

    I’m wondering if you’ve actually been living in a cave, listening to/reading the same old, out of date, creo recordings over and over for years? Then again that’s the whole end game of brain washing isn’t it?

    For that scenario…10 out of 10 ABO! Bravo!

    Can’t you stand on your own two feet and be responsible for your own judgments and actions? You need a 2000 yo iron age myth to tell you how to act and live?

    I don’t *do* hate ABO, (why waste that sort of energy on anyone…. for any reason?), but I do *do* compassion. You’re being conned by a bunch of snake oil salesmen who are greedy for political power and have set out to achieve it by emotionally blackmailing and recruiting those who are terrified of the unknown and /or death.

    Look up narcissism.

    I personally have an extremely strong aversion to religious con artists. Your masters are my sworn enemies!

  6. Noodlicious says:

    ….and yes…I was lazy with my punctuation…as usual 🙂

    ps I occasionally do it right when called to.
    Hey… I’m a fully recognized Pirate of His Noodly Fleet…what do you expect…..free candy? :p

  7. Karl says:

    However it has been said that evolutionist don’t know what religion is. Thereby not being able to determine what religion is, they have left themselves wide open to be accused of having an atheistic religious doctrine.

    This only shows that the definition of religion eludes even fundie zealots like yourself. That challenge by Dr. Joseph Mastropaolo is basically an overblown popularity contest with little or no concern for the actual science behind evolution. His rules and conditions essentially makes him the de facto arbiter of the “debate.” The challenger essentially has to convince Mastropaolo that evolution is real given that he has already made it abundantly clear that he refuses to believe it regardless of evidence. To top it off, no references to scientific peer reviewed papers on evolution will be allowed since he denies the validity of the scientific method as well. If it were in the form of an actual impartial debate actual, he’d be out $10 grand the moment he put up that ridiculous challenge.

    Here’s how Dr. Mastropoalo really feels about this “debate”

    Contenders for the Life Science Prize using evolutionist propaganda will lose their $10,000. Evolution is an inverted fantasy that does not exist, never has, never will, and that is the reason evolutionists will not contend.
    -Joseph Mastropaolo. Ph.D.
    Professor Emeritus

    Sounds like a guy that you, ABO, would really get along with.

  8. PatrickHenry says:

    I just went over to the Joseph Mastropaolo site. He’s amusing, but he’ll never catch up with the Time Cube.

  9. ABO says:

    This time cube dude has been sniffing to much glue.

  10. ABO says:


    I think you’ll find that your definition of religion includes you.

  11. Wolfhound says:

    ABO, any website that begins with “darwinianfundametalism” is automatically designated to the “asshat creotard” dustbin by virtue of its title.

    RE: Timecube, I don’t know that that idiocy is any more moronic than your own, honestly.

  12. Karl says:

    Oh hey, a talking point from a person who specializes in PHILOSOPHY of science. Notice how we have yet to find a biologist or any other actual scientist who seriously considers their field of study to be an actual religion. Ruse certainly has an interesting take on “evolutionism,” but his definition is so open that it could reasonably include social/political movements as well. Why not Veganism? Republicanism? Or Democratism?

    As Ruse puts it, evolution offered a world picture, a story of origins, and a special place for humans in the scheme of things. All of the above movements fit this criteria perfectly except for the origins story. Arguably, Republicanism and Democratism each draw their principles on what they believed to be the intended direction that the founders of this nation had in mind (origin of the nation). Veganism is known to borrow heavily from Theravada and Vajrayana Buddhist philosophies as well, particularly with the ethical implications of killing and eating animals (Karmic implications from their interpretation of man’s origins and cycle of death and rebirth).

    No serious/actual scientist would consider evolution theory to be a religion. Nice try though.

  13. James F says:

    To add to Karl’s final point, Ruse isn’t calling modern evolutionary theory a religion, either. What he calls “evolutionism” could be defined as a system of norms and morality based on philosophical naturalism, in opposition to Biblical literalism, but it is clearly not the science of evolutionary biology.

    Ruse, as a philosopher, presents opinions about players on both sides of of the social debate over creationism vs. evolution. He’s a staunch supporter of the science of evolution but he criticizes people who use evolutionary theory as a springboard for an antitheistic philosophy, from Huxley to Dawkins. Unfortunately, this leads to a lot of quote mining, and you get creationists claiming that Ruse calls evolutionary science a “secular religion.”

  14. MaryB says:

    If you think evolution is a religion ABO, how do you explain all those religious folks who understand and accept evolution and also subscribe to their own religious beliefs? We could start with the going on 12,000 ministers who have signed the clergy project letter and then add their congregations (including my own) and then we could proceed to the Pope and the Catholic church which includes 51% of Christians on Earth. Hmmmmm, maybe its not religion, maybe its Science, another way of knowing the physical world, accepted by a majority of religious folk on Earth.

  15. Karl says:

    That point actually has been well covered: Declare em all to be apostate churches and wallow in your own arrogance and ignorance. It’s already been shown that the major holdout against the religious reconciliation with evolution is the same arrogant fundamentalist PCA who’s founding members broke away over their problems in letting go of the slavery institution and actually owes much of its modern establishment on its refusal to accept racial equality and other human rights issues.

    Regarding Ruse, I do think he makes a good point in criticizing the leap between evolution and the adoption of atheism. It’s been pointed out again and again that evolution theory does NOT confirm or deny the existence of God, but history has shown that it does have a contributing effect, however erroneous in application. Regardless, to blame evolution for the rise of atheism is just plain scapegoating. The actions of organized religion do much more to turn people away from religion than evolution ever could.

  16. ABO says:


    “If you think evolution is a religion ABO, how do you explain all those religious folks who understand and accept evolution and also subscribe to their own religious beliefs?”

    That’s a good question. By simply reinterpreting the bible and evolutionary science. You can’t get millions of years out of the bible, you’ll have to add it in. And evolutionary science has determined that God is completely unnecessary to produce the variety of life we have and life itself.

    Reinterpreting both concepts is exactly what has been done by those who ignorantly think that most scientific evidence is conflicting with scripture, which is not the case. Evolutionary science presents an uncalculatable number of problems for biblical compatibility.

    Michael Zimmerman’s Clergy Letter is a true oxymoron. “ We ask that science remain science and that religion remain religion, two very different, but complementary, forms of truth.” What a crock. Creation science and microbe to man evolutionary science are totally incompatible an not complementary. Just ask anyone on the website.

    I understand that evolutionist don’t want to consider their belief in evolutionary change beyond the family or from one form of creature to another as a faith based religion. But fact is, that is just exactly what it is. Recognizing evolution as a religion is how a very very large number of religious people see it. And how do you explain that?

    The form of indoctrination you and I recognize acceptable as the truth, has shaped our views. Evidence exists for both creation and evolutionary views to be scientific and evidence exists for both views to be religious. But not compatible.

  17. Karl says:

    Interesting perspective, ABO. I’d always thought that the religion-fication of evolution (and in some cases, the deification of Darwin himself) was a strategy to organize the opposition against evolution through the use of what I’d like to call, the “crusader mentality.” We’ve seen this used before, and the best example of its current application is its role in the promotion of Islamaphobia in the U.S, and the various politics which take advantage of this fear (OMG Barack !HUSSEIN! Obama was Muslim at one point!!!!). Historically, social issues such as the decline of morals and growing liberal trends are small potatoes when facing a rival “faith.” If this militant attitude is how you truly feel, then what of other Christian denominations, each defined by their own unique interpretation of scripture, much of which also come into conflict with your own? Eventually, they too will have to be eliminated as well since their interpretations of scripture is also incompatible with yours, right?

  18. ABO says:


    I’m not so sure my attitude would be considered militant or comparable to the worshipers of the very popular Moon God. Your or my personal interpretation of the bible, won’t change what it says. It says what it says and what it says won’t fit everybody’s description of the way thing are or should be.

    One of the great new bogus religions has been concocted by Oprah. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JW4LLwkgmqA What’s funny about her doctrine is that it mimics the original lie in Genesis 3:4-5 You’ll be like God. A closer look at just what the bible says reveals that many bogus religions will appear. And that is what exactly what we see, if they weren’t present the bible would be inaccurate.

    So has man been deceived into following a wide variety of incantations and foolishness by a demonic spirit? It would appear so, if the bible is truth. The book claims that if man isn’t looking to the one and only truthful God for direction, then he is wide open to be snowed by all kinds of deception. And if it’s a good lie and people are gullible enough to suck it up, then the great deceiver as Satin is called, could and should simply recycle.

    Now the question would be is modern evolutionary science really a new discover, or just the recycling of an old lie. 1 Timothy 6:20-21 Refers to a false science in the KJV and false knowledge in other translations. What’s interesting is that Paul the author of 1 Timothy had recently had an encounter with the Epicureans. Epicureans (341-270 B. C.) believe that all things came together by chance. Randomly moving particles called atoms just assemble themselves together by chance to form living things and later they just dissipated. The belief helped to relieve man’s fear of death and the thought of a judgmental god after death. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epicurus You might say that making the connection between this scripture an Epicurus could be a bit presumptive, but assumptions are the life’s blood of evolutionary theory.

    Identifying false teaching and proclaiming the gospel of Jesus is the mission of the church. Defining false teachings, should be an issue for everyone, but for Christians the gage for determining truth comes from the bible. I’m sure you wouldn’t like your children being taught they could blow themselves up and pick up 72 virgins complete with beds or that rats should be allowed to roam around the house completely unthreatened. By the same token most Christians don’t want their children being taught that their belief in a creator is garbage, and they’re just here by chance. So if you want to believe you’re related to monkeys or whatever that’s fine, but keep your beliefs to yourself. Don’t push your belief on my kids. That’s the problem we have here.

    The teaching of evolutionary doctrine may be classified as scientific, but it’s application is religious in nature.

  19. Karl says:

    Again, you seem to be ignoring the fact that evolution doesn’t deny the existence of the creator. Can you go into detail on how by denying that he shaped us (among other things) from dirt somehow challenges the notion of His very existence? I’m sure even you can’t deny that your particular denomination of Christianity takes a rather confrontational stance against “rival” faiths. The concept that all religions worship the same god, but just in their own unique way must be highly offensive to you as well, and anything with the term “interfaith” should be met with disgust. A difference of opinion means the other guy is lying for Satan… sounds pretty militant to me…

    You are right to say that evolution is connected to Epicurus, for one of the core beliefs of Epicureanism is that nothing should be believed except that which was tested through direct observation and logical deduction. This is considered by many to be the precursor of the scientific method. So now that this connection has been established, so begs the question: What of it? Evolution theory is a product of direct observation and logical deduction, and this makes it a religion how? Many other scientific fields also use the same methods, so does this qualify them to be religions as well? So evolution theory has connections to a group of what can essentially be considered atheists and Paul had a problem with that. Christianity has the same degree of connection to genocidal murderers, sex offenders, and all manner of corrupt individuals. Despite me teetering between agnosticism and atheism on a bad day, I certainly don’t consider Christianity to be “that religion full of genocidal murderers, sex offenders, and all manner of corrupt individuals.”

    The problem with pushing beliefs on each others’ kids works both ways. In your particular situation, religious private schools are always an option. Perhaps in time, there may be schools set up to cater to those that don’t believe in the functionality of math.

  20. ABO says:

    “ Can you go into detail on how by denying that he shaped us (among other things) from dirt somehow challenges the notion of His very existence?”

    I was at a school board meeting back during the science standard fiasco and a prominent self proclaimed scientist spoke. He said that the earth is covered with a layer of rust and that we are composed from some of the properties found in rust therefore we know that life evolved from rust. Now what could you say to that? The gentlemen had no examples, no description of the process and nothing to convince anyone he wasn’t smoking pot. After words, he was applauded by all those who favored his explanation of origins.

    Now I can’t tell you how a satellite is put together, but I’m sure someone knows.
    Being able to explain a process is much different than just seeing the results. The assumption that all life has composed itself by itself seems to be a real copout.

    If I were to tell you that I could knock a 747 out of the air at 25,000 feet with a spit ball, you would have your doubts. In theory, if the process was in writing to calculate the volume of spit, the type of paper, wind direction, aircraft speed, how much hot air to blow the mass to target, etc., you would still have your doubts. Even though a scientific method had been applied the actual event won’t be happening.

    It’s true that we are composed from many of the properties found in dirt, but that doesn’t mean the dirt changed itself into something else. The theory of mans decent from ape like creatures may have a vague method of scientific explanation but in reality the actual event hasn’t happened.

    By the way, my kids did go to a Christian school where they learned Darwin’s theory of evolution, along with math.

  21. zygosporangia says:

    What a load of sophistry, ABO. Have you no valid proof of your beliefs?

  22. ABO says:


    Sure, piles of proof. Its the same stuff your looking at, different interpretation. Have you seen dirt make itself into anything?

  23. zygosporangia says:

    Lack of observation is not the same as proof. There is evidence for evolution. There is no evidence for your beliefs.

  24. ABO says:

    No evidence? Surly you jest. Everything that exists is evidence for creation. I don’t think your imagination qualifies as evidence.

    We could go on like this forever. If the evidence is so convincing that man has evolved over millions of years through a so called natural processes, why does only 10 % or so of our population believe it? And the majority of those believers go through intensive indoctrination before coming to the point of acceptance.

    The presentations to show how man has evolved over millions of years, never shows anything at all. They just say it happened and show a few funny artist renderings. Not very convincing.

  25. zygosporangia says:

    why does only 10 % or so of our population believe it?

    Well, with your quality of “facts”, I couldn’t expect your statistics to be anything more than something pulled out of your ass. For instance, I could disprove your statistic here with just a little basic math, something else your holy book is woefully lacking in. A third of the world population is Christian. The majority of this Christian population is Catholic. Catholics support evolution. There’s 12.5% right there, and I haven’t even gotten into other denominations of Christianity that aren’t as backwards as your YEC cult, nor have I taken a look at any other faith.

    Furthermore, evidence doesn’t have to be convincing to YEC morons like you to be valid. It only needs to be testable. None of your so-called “evidence” can be tested. Prove to me that there was a burning bush, that the earth was created in six days, that your crazy numbers for deriving the earth’s age based on begats is even close to accurate, that insects have four legs, that the earth is flat and fixed in space, and that your god is real. Otherwise, please crawl back under the rock you came from.

  26. zygosporangia says:

    Ack… I need coffee. There’s 16.6% right there, I meant.

  27. PatrickHenry says:

    Everything that exists is evidence for creation.

    If everything were evidence of oogity-boogity, then there couldn’t be any rational understanding of the world, and science would be impossible.

    There are people out there who live as if that were true.

  28. ABO says:


    Ok, you’ve convinced me that you’re a mutant. I know you have facts to back it up, and I don’t. So help me understand how you came to be.
    So where are you at on the evolutionary mutant scale?
    Are you evolving to a higher level or just staying in limbo? Theoretically I don’t think you can regress.
    As a mutant where are you in relation to the global population path of mutating humanistic perfection? Are you one of the lower forms?
    Since you recognize your value equal to that of an animal do you feel more akin to ducks, dogs or some other lower form?
    Since ape like creatures seem to exist only in the imagination what attributes do you have to prove you have evolved from ape like creatures and not rodents.
    With mice having a DNA makeup of 85% closeness to humans do you ever fell the need to eat your babies?
    As a meaningless mutant what do you think man’s next form will be?
    I know this is your family’s personal information, but you can trust me not to call Truly Nolen. Any thing else that would provide evidence for your condition would be helpful. Thanks

  29. zygosporangia says:

    It’s pathetic that this is the best response that ABO can come up with. Apparently, ABO is done debating. He’s all but admitted defeat.

  30. ABO says:

    No answer, crickets?

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