Reaction sent to media

The following reaction was sent to the media earlier today following the anti-evolution bill debate in the Florida House. The St. Petersburg Times education blog, the Gradebook, has already linked to it.

Florida Citizens for Science response to today’s House debate on HB 1483 and SB 2692 concerning the teaching of evolution.

Florida Citizens for Science commends Rep. Martin Kiar for his attempt to control Rep. D. Alan Hays’ misguided, uninformed bill that attempts to regulate how the subject of evolution is taught in the public school classroom. Rep. Hays’ own comments condemn him to being a complete fool when it comes to matters of science. He claims that his bill has nothing to do with religion, and yet the off-kilter things he says about science are obviously straight out of creationist literature.

His claim that there are no transitional fossils clearly illustrates his lack of knowledge about the current state of the fossil evidence. Natural history museums across this country and around the world are packed full of transitional fossils. Florida Citizens for Science will gladly pay for Rep. Hays’ admission price to a museum, such as perhaps the Florida Museum of Natural History, and provide a working biologist as his tour guide. That museum’s Hall of Florida Fossils: Evolution of Life and Land is outstanding! Rep. Hays is in desperate need of such a fact-finding trip. He holds a cartoon version of evolution in his head that is completely at odds with the reality. He actually demands that science produce some chimera creature, such as in his own words a half fly/half monkey. No biologist would ever propose that such a creature exists. This gross distortion of science is a common creationist tactic, which Rep. Hays is wielding with gusto.

Many lawmakers today wanted to know what scientists have to fear from critical analysis. Nothing. If the bill does not pass, that does not mean that critical analysis will be stifled in any way. It happens right now in the science classroom, and will continue to happen. These lawmakers are setting up a red herring of “what are you afraid of”? If Hays’ carnival funhouse mirror version of evolution is what he’s basing his critical analysis on, then I can see why he is confused. It is offensive that a person who has such a dismal understanding of science would dare to write a law regulating that science. It’s no different than him saying the sun rises in the North and then trying to write a law based on that childish notion.

His response to there being no controversy in the scientific community over the fact of evolution was to direct lawmakers to the Expelled movie. Hays has swallowed whole the story fed to him by the Discovery Institute of Seattle, Wash. The controversy, such as it is, is all public relations and completely manufactured. The website expelledexposed.com provides proof of this.

Rep. Shelley Vana was correct in cautioning against having this debate concerning evolution. It shows that Florida is woefully stuck in the dark ages, and most certainly will drive away the high-tech scientific research industries the state has been courting for years.

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28 Responses to “Reaction sent to media”

  1. PatrickHenry Says:

    Good letter. Perhaps in whatever follow-up you make, you could consider adding a reference to The Clergy Letter Project. Our stone-age legislators might then dimly grasp that it is possible to understand science yet still be religious.

  2. Paul R Says:

    Excellent rebuttal, Brandon! I found this link helpful in providing some background to teachers, and have sent it to a few legislative staffers, too. Rep. Vana is a former science teacher, in particular, and struggled with this bill in that anyone reading it (in its present form) and not aware of the controversy behind it might think that it is foolish not to support it. This article by Larry Flammer (a former high school biology teacher) raises some interesting points regarding transitional fossils, strategies for debating (or not), etc.

    http://www.indiana.edu/~ensiweb/evo.sol.pdf

  3. James F Says:

    Brandon,

    I would also single out Rep. Fitzgerald, who, judging from your thorough commentary yesterday, did an outstanding job of defending science.

  4. Robert Says:

    However the evolutionary theory is not good science. You want it established as “fact” because you cannot defend it and want no debate with regards to it. You want to tailor the rules of engagement for critical thinking by eliminating any dissent of the theory – whether legitimate or not. You want all debate scuttled. Your worldview (of atheism) dictates your theory and so you don’t want any moral debate because it would show how immoral your theory is. You are a stiff necked people – who have purposely rejected the truth and so you want everyone else to believe your lie. You don’t seek the truth – you don’t want to. You shape your theory around your bitterness at God and therefore have to come up with a theory which you can comfort yourself with, in order to block out all consciousness of a superior being (Creator). You are without excuse. In spite of this, God still has demonstrated his love to you unto this day. How much more patience do you think he has ? God speaks to the heart and if you continually harden your heart against his promptings this is the only sin that will have no forgiveness. You may say this isn’t a moral discussion, but it is. You want to stop your ears to the truth through a stronghold of Darwinian thought. You fight long and hard to pamper your sin nature – but God gives all a space to repent from their error. However if you decide to go in that direction that is your choice – a sad one indeed. But when you force young children to stumble and deny God Almighty with your lies, this shall be considered a warning – Matthew 18:6
    But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Thinks about it.

  5. Zombie Says:

    Robert, if you looked just three posts above yours you would see a link to the Clery Letter Project, which lists over 11,000 signatures from clergy members who endorse teaching evolution, yet you still try to frame this issue as atheism vs religion.

  6. Robert Says:

    IZombie,
    ‘m very familiar with that website. That doesn’t prove anything. Many scribes and pharisees rejected the truth two thousand years ago. There was alot of clergy in Germany in the 30’s and 40’s also and only a handful spoke out against the eugenic lead nazi party. The rest joined in as to not “rock the boat” to just get along.

  7. Robert Says:

    You must do more research Zombie. All the leading evolutionary proponents are atheists either in word or in deed.

  8. Robert Says:

    The conflict is between belief and self propagated unbelief. Thats what it all boils down to.

  9. Robert Says:

    Truth is perceived with the heart, where the sense of right and wrong is discerned. The mind can be convinced of just about anything if given just a linmited skewed set of “facts”. Its the heart that weighs the veracity (If it has not been hardened to the truth by selfish desires such as greed, bitterness or lust).

  10. Robert Says:

    Even you leader Dawkins agrees that it is a conflict between believers and unbelievers.

  11. PatrickHenry Says:

    Robert, you ought to consider a career in the Florida legislature. You’d be right at home there.

  12. Green Earth Says:

    I don’t understand why this is such a difficult concept for people, it is very simple: SEPARATION of church and state, the 1st amendment
    Science and religion are not the same, and evolution is science and ID/creationism is religion.

  13. PatrickHenry Says:

    Our legislature ought to be reminded that they’ve taken an oath to support the Florida Constitution. It begins with a Declaration of Rights (Article I), and Section 3 thereof is titled “Religious Freedom,” which says:

    There shall be no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting or penalizing the free exercise thereof. Religious freedom shall not justify practices inconsistent with public morals, peace or safety. No revenue of the state or any political subdivision or agency thereof shall ever be taken from the public treasury directly or indirectly in aid of any church, sect, or religious denomination or in aid of any sectarian institution.

  14. Captain Jack Says:

    Robert,

    The Flying Spaghetti Monster loves you very much. He wants me to share The Truth of Creation with you, here on this blog.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xlxmwvWekZA

    May you be touched by His Noodly Appendage.

    RAmen!

  15. S.Scott Says:

    Robert, this is a nice Christian blog I’d like for you to read.
    http://www.energionpubs.com/wordpress/?p=1301

  16. PatrickHenry Says:

    There’s an informative article about the debates and the prospects for ultimate passage of this mess in the Florida Baptist Witness. The article is here: House poised to adopt evolution bill different from Senate’s version. If you click on my name you’ll go to my blog where I wrote a bit about it.

  17. cope Says:

    You know Robert, folks in here are being excedingly polite and patient with you, much more so than I am inclined to be. However, I must call you out on this statement:

    “Truth is perceived with the heart, where the sense of right and wrong is discerned.”

    Do you not know how the brain works? Are you as totally ignorant of the modern science of neurology as you seem to be ignorant of the modern science of biology? Do you really think that the heart (a hearty chunk of mostly muscle devoid of any neurons capable of cognitive action) is capable of thought? Do you really think that “right” and “wrong” are absolute? How convenient for you not to have to make any hard decisions as you navigate your way through life, every choice you make neatly delineated by a book of ancient writings.

    You scare me, Robert. You and all the people who think like you scare me. You would deny the discoveries and advancements of science in order to hold fast to belief in a collection of stories penned by an essentiallly unknown group of authors two millenia ago. These stories have been collected and translated from one ancient language to another with no original texts from which to read (at least as far as the new testament is concerned), the orginal authors mostly unknown.

    Your worldview requires that these beliefs be subscribed to until your own mortal demise as well as the through the lifetimes of generations and generations as yet unborn. How empty it must be to believe that the human mind should be hard-wired from birth to subscribe to a belief system that denies the possibility of human discovery and advancement, content to believe that your progeny and their progeny will never have a more insightful knowledge of the universe than you do.

    I suspect that you and your ilk would be just fine with eliminating all scienctific endeavor, content to allow your god to decide who spends eternity on cloud trampolines playing harps and who suffers eternal burning in hell (after a few million years, don’t you think anybody could get used to it and wouldn’t it be likely that the few short years they spent “alive” would be forgotten memories?), who thrives and who suffers and whose team wins the super bowl dependent on whether or not they belive the same things as you do.

    So, I have written this only for my benefit, knowing full well it will sway you not one iota. You and others like you will continue to deny the ability of humans to unravel the puzzles of the universe, continue to label the rest of us as doomed blasphemers and continue to follow an ancient set of writings that have all the modern relevance of Babylonian maps scribed into clay tablets.

    Should the human race manage to make it though the very challenging times ahead (peak oil, climate change, food and water shortages, etc.), it will be because of the efforts of those of us who attack the world’s problems with a scientific point of view, not through the proselytizi

  18. cope Says:

    prosteylization of “true believers” such as yourself.

    (sorry about the premature posting)

  19. Green Earth Says:

    RAmen to that- Cope, that was beautiful!

  20. numi Says:

    Everyone is being nice to Robert. Why bother? He’s obvious;y deranged. BTW, Robert, That means you’re a nitwit.

  21. Jonathan Smith Says:

    Cope:wrote

    Do you really think that “right” and “wrong” are absolute? How convenient for you not to have to make any hard decisions as you navigate your way through life, every choice you make neatly delineated by a book of ancient writings.

    Outstanding!!! the whole issue in a nut shell.

  22. Beerwulf Says:

    Sounds like Robert is afraid of something – doubt, facts, anything that shakes the faith he clings to in his fear.

  23. Bob Calder Says:

    Anybody interested in an interesting parallel between the technique the fundies are using and one used by another group of true believers?

    Dr. Steven Novella has written about our lovely little law. Down at the bottom of his post, there is an interesting note about a similar attack on medicine in an attempt to institutionalize ignorance.

    http://www.theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php?p=280

    Frankly I don’t think an explanation using science will make a dent in Robert’s armor of ignorance. What he needs is some mainstream theology lessons. Fundamentalists are essentially insecure in their faith so they search for evidence. The only evidence is very old manuscripts and tradition, so they institutionalize it as fact rather than moral lesson.

    The fact that you find multiple fantasies endemic in their communities is evidence enough that there is absolutely no critical thinking going on. Obvious examples are anti-Semitism, historic distortion, belief in the interference of spirits and demons in everyday life, and failure to have empathy for those outside of their limited belief system.

  24. James F Says:

    I’m listening to “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me.” They’re talking about the Florida Senate’s vote on a bill. No, nothing to do with evolution. It’s the bill about banning….

    Truck Nuts.

    http://blogs.tampabay.com/buzz/2008/04/florida-senat-1.html

  25. Bob Calder Says:

    They want to take away my truck’s manhood!

  26. Anna Says:

    It’s a shame that not one of you can see your error. It’s amazing to see. You are blind and are the slaves of your selfishness desires. There is freedom if you only would ask God to show you. I once was like you bitter at God – but now have found absolute freedom for my soul in the God who came here in the flesh.

  27. Green Earth Says:

    I don’t know how many times this must be repeated, but once again here goes:
    Anna- Evolution is NOT about god. Evolution is SCIENCE, ID is about GOD/RELIGION. This is about keeping god/religion out of public school science.
    Again I will say, evolution is science- it has nothing to do with whether or not people believe in god.

  28. Bob Calder Says:

    Anna, learn something about the history of the movement you belong to. Evangelical fundamentalists haven’t been around forever. Not 6,000 years. Not even 100 years. Is it a valid movement inside of Christianity? I probably is but if the mainstream sects had required it validate against a fully rounded world view instead of oddball slices of dogma I think things would be different today.

    How about this? Given Evangelical theology as it stands, you should accept Christian Scientists as fellows and the validity of their dogma regarding healing.