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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Bill Text: Curriculum and policy on theories relating to the origins of life

By Chris Buttars
Senator, District 10

What I have wanted to do all along is stop opinionated teachers from teaching human evolution as fact. Scientists disagree on the origins of humankind. Young students should have a fighting chance to appreciate the difference between theory and law.

For those who are interested, here is the complete text of my bill:
Be it enacted by the Legislature of the state of Utah. . .

53A-13-101.7. Curriculum and policy on theories relating to the origins of life.

(1) In order to encourage students to critically analyze theories regarding the origins of life or the origins or present state of the human race, consider opposing viewpoints, and form their own opinions, the Legislature desires to avoid the perception that all scientists agree on any one theory, or that the state endorses one theory over another.

(2) The State Board of Education shall establish curriculum requirements, consistent with Subsection (1), relating to instruction of students on theories regarding the origins of life or the origins or present state of the human race.

(3) The curriculum requirements described in Subsection (2) shall require that instruction to students on any theory regarding the origins of life, or the origins or present state of the human race, shall stress that not all scientists agree on which theory is correct.

(4) The State Board of Education shall:

(a) make rules, pursuant to Title 63, Chapter 46a, Utah Administrative Rulemaking Act, to fulfill the requirements of this section; and

(b) ensure that all policies and positions of the State Board of Education relating to theories regarding the origins of life or the origins or present state of the human race:

(i) do not endorse a particular theory; and

(ii) stress that not all scientists agree on which theory is correct.

101 Comments:

Anonymous porkypig said...

I guess Mr. Buttars does not regard himself as opinionated nor what he says as fact.

12/27/2005 1:45 PM  
Anonymous The Senate Site said...

Thanks "porky." While your comments on Senator Buttars are interesting, your insight on the substance of the bill text would be more helpful.

Folks have been up in arms for months now over an imminent, imagined "intelligent design" bill. Now that we have the actual text in hand (or on screen) we can do the work of a thoughtful, informed citizenry (i.e. consider the proposal on it's own merits, and decide what would be the best policy for our state).

12/27/2005 2:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Analysis by Ed Brayton from Dispatches from the Culture Wars. Full text follows:

Utah State Senator Chris Buttars has released the full text of his new bill. As expected, it's a train wreck. Throughout the last few months, he has seemed quite confused as to what exactly he wanted to argue against. First he indicated that it was the teaching of evolution itself, which he wanted to balance with "divine design". Then he narrowed it down to opposition to human evolution specifically. Finally, he indicated it was the origin of life he had a problem with. I don't think he knows yet:

"What I have wanted to do all along is stop opinionated teachers from teaching human evolution as fact. Scientists disagree on the origins of humankind. Young students should have a fighting chance to appreciate the difference between theory and law."

Wow, where do you even start with such a bizarre combination of words? First, I love the word "opinionated" in there, as though what was taught in school was just a matter of opinion rather than scholarly consensus. You know, it's just like whether you prefer Larry Bird or Magic Johnson as a basketball player, just a matter of personal preference. Second, I love the fact that he refers to "scientists" rather than "scientists in the relevant field". When he says that scientists disagree on the origins of humankind, he is talking specifically about the field of physical anthropology. Can he name a single anthropologist in the entire world who rejects human evolution? I can only think of one, a German.

Lastly, he contrasts theory and law as though they were mutually exclusive things. This, I suspect, is because Buttars, like most uneducated Americans, thinks that in a scientific context the word "theory" means "wild guess" or "highly suspect conclusion". That, of course, is completely false. Now, on to the text of his bill:

"(1) In order to encourage students to critically analyze theories regarding the origins of life or the origins or present state of the human race, consider opposing viewpoints, and form their own opinions, the Legislature desires to avoid the perception that all scientists agree on any one theory, or that the state endorses one theory over another."

Hmmm. Let's rewrite this slightly:

(1) In order to encourage students to critically analyze theories regarding the position, location and motion of the Earth, consider opposing viewpoints, and form their own opinions, the Legislature desires to avoid the perception that all scientists agree on any one theory, or that the state endorses one theory over another.

That's how a geocentrist would perhaps write such a bill, and it would be based upon precisely the same reasoning. All scientists don't agree, of course. You can find as many astronomers who deny heliocentrism as you can anthropologists who deny human evolution (exactly one in each case), and all it takes is one holdout to insure that not all scientists agree on any one theory. For that matter, why stop there? Why not:

(1) In order to encourage students to critically analyze theories regarding the causes of human disease and illness, consider opposing viewpoints, and form their own opinions, the Legislature desires to avoid the perception that all scientists agree on any one theory, or that the state endorses one theory over another.

That might be how a follower of Mary Baker Eddy would word such a bill. After all, there is an entire religion which denies that microbes are the source of illness and disease and refuses to follow the findings of mainstream medicine. I'm sure there are a few scientists among its adherents, meaning that not all scientists agree on that one either.

And after all, we wouldn't want some "opinionated" teacher making students think that they should use antibiotics when they have a bacterial infection. No, we should let students "form their own opinion" and encourage "critical thinking" by presenting "both sides" of the "controversy". For that matter, the same rationale would justify teaching flat earthism, holocaust denial and the "stork theory" of baby formation. See how easily this rhetoric can be used in pretty much any setting? There is no field, save perhaps basic math, where you have total unanimity of opinion on anything. It's interesting that Mr. Buttars only applies such rhetoric to an idea he personally opposes.

12/27/2005 4:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The fact that Butters suggests evolution is an unproven theory is comical. Where did you study biology?

Well until the discovery institute got egg on their face for intelligent design creationism losing so badly in court, Chris Buttars was pushing for "devine design". Now that Butters knows that is a losing proposition the new tactic is just what the Discovery Institute ordered - pretend a controversy exusts in biology, specifically evolution.

If we are to pretend a controversy exists then I think the decision in Dover by Judge Jones should be required reading in science class. This would open our childrens minds so they could better understand what constitutes junk science and what constitutes creationism from what honest science and scientific methods are.

Unless legislators like Butter plan on getting educated in the natural sciences, let's get legislators and politics out of the science class and let scientists do science class.

I am astonished by this proposal. Simply astonished.

12/27/2005 4:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If Butters knew ANYTHING about evolution or science/biology he'd would have never wrote "In order to encourage students to critically analyze theories regarding the origins of life "

Evolutionary fact and theory makes NO mention of the origins of life. NONE.

Goodness gracious see a legitimate scientist or biologist and learn some facts. Darwin and modern evolution do not have a theory on the origins of life. Never have.

Please stop uncritically accepting everything the Discovery Institute tells you.

Every single scientific organization in North American will tell you evolution gives us the best scientific understanding of biology. On what credentials does Butters suggest they are ALL wrong? When did Butters know more than every single science organization in North America?

12/27/2005 4:54 PM  
Blogger didymus said...

The State of Utah and its Board of Education should endorse a particular theory. They should endorse the theory that the mainstays of the scientific community uphold, not the theories of fringe groups. If a fringe group is correct, then they will be able to show that scientifically and change what the scientific community believes, as so many other theorists have done in the past with other theories (including evolution). Until then they shouldn’t be considered on a par with evolution.

Just what scientists are we talking about? I saw Dr. John Morris, from the Institute of Creation Research, speak the other day here in SLC at the local Calvary Chapel. He’s a geologists who wants you to believe concerning the origins of life and man just what the Bible says, which is a literal six-days of creation. His theories concerning the “origins of life or the origins or present state of the human race” won’t just wipeout evolution, but all of the earth sciences and most of chemistry with it. Geology as currently taught in class is practically a ploy of Satan, making people lose faith in the Bible. He’s out there trying to prove “scientifically” that his creation theory is correct, but he is only succeeding in proving his theory with pseudoscience.

Just because a “theory” has a good PR campaign to back it up doesn’t mean it is good science, nor should evolution be put into doubt just because pseudoscience says something different.

http://evolutioninutah.blogspot.com/

12/27/2005 4:56 PM  
Anonymous Richee said...

Unfortunately The State Board of Education will not be able to establish curriculum requirements consistent with Subsection (1) because there are currently no non-religious alternatives to the mechanics of evolution and natural selection.
Therefore it is impossible to apply this law without violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Maybe Mr. Buttars should have done his research and found out that the only alternative that was pressumed not to be religious in nature, intelligent design, was masterfully struck down in the recent Dover, PA school board case by George Bush appointee Judge John E. Jones, who wrote in his conclusion that:

"The proper application of both the endorsement and Lemon tests to the facts of this case makes it abundantly clear that the Board’s ID Policy violates the Establishment Clause. In making this determination, we have addressed the seminal question of whether ID is science. We have concluded that it is not, and moreover that ID cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents.

Both Defendants and many of the leading proponents of ID make a bedrock assumption which is utterly false. Their presupposition is that evolutionary theory is antithetical to a belief in the existence of a supreme being and to religion in general. Repeatedly in this trial, Plaintiffs’ scientific experts testified that the theory of evolution represents good science, is overwhelmingly accepted by the scientific community, and that it in no way conflicts with, nor does it deny, the existence of a divine creator.

To be sure, Darwin’s theory of evolution is imperfect. However, the fact that a scientific theory cannot yet render an explanation on every point should not be used as a pretext to thrust an untestable alternative hypothesis grounded in religion into the science classroom or to misrepresent well-established scientific propositions.

The citizens of the Dover area were poorly served by the members of the Board who voted for the ID Policy. It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID Policy.

With that said, we do not question that many of the leading advocates of ID have bona fide and deeply held beliefs which drive their scholarly endeavors. Nor do we controvert that ID should continue to be studied, debated, and discussed. As stated, our conclusion today is that it is unconstitutional to teach ID as an alternative to evolution in a public school science classroom.

Those who disagree with our holding will likely mark it as the product of an activist judge. If so, they will have erred as this is manifestly not an activist Court. Rather, this case came to us as the result of the activism of an ill-informed faction on a school board, aided by a national public interest law firm eager to find a constitutional test case on ID, who in combination drove the Board to adopt an imprudent and ultimately unconstitutional policy. The breathtaking inanity of the Board’s decision is evident when considered against the factual backdrop which has now been fully revealed through this trial. The students, parents, and teachers of the Dover Area School District deserved better than to be dragged into this legal maelstrom, with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources.

To preserve the separation of church and state mandated by the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, and Art. I, § 3 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, we will enter an order permanently enjoining Defendants from maintaining the ID Policy in any school within the Dover Area School District, from requiring teachers to denigrate or disparage the scientific theory of evolution, and from requiring teachers to refer to a religious, alternative theory known as ID. We will also issue a declaratory judgment that Plaintiffs’ rights under the Constitutions of the United States and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania have been violated by Defendants’ actions."

12/27/2005 5:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see that Buttars is advocating the 'teach the controversy' approach that Judge Jones dismissed as "at best disingenuous, and at worst a canard."

One wonders if in avoiding "the perception that all scientists agree on any one theory", Buttars would mind teachers pointing out how tiny the minority of scientists opposing Evolution are, and how flimsy their arguments are considered to be by mainstream science.

"What I have wanted to do all along is stop opinionated teachers from teaching human evolution as fact."

Then you want teachers to LIE, Senator Buttars. Evolution is a FACT as well as a theory. The FACT of evolution is attested to by a very comprehensive fossil record. The Theory of Evolution is science's current best explanation of this fact.

12/27/2005 6:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will support the teaching of ID/Creationism in science class as soon as scientists can discuss evolution in church services. I didn't think so.

I think they should teach ID/Creationism in public schools as a Comparative Religion class, focusing on the creation myths of Christianity/Judaism/Islam, Hinduism, Zorastrianism, Asian, African, American indidgenous religions and then go back and examine Greek, Norse, and as many Ancient Creation myths as can fit in a semester. It should be an elective.

12/27/2005 6:45 PM  
Anonymous wired bible drinker said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

12/27/2005 7:12 PM  
Anonymous Richee said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

12/27/2005 7:12 PM  
Anonymous wired bible drinker said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

12/27/2005 7:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well Steve Buttars, in one swoop you have alienated yourself from every teacher in Utah, every person who took science and biology, well everyone who passed biology that is, and pretty much everyone who thinks legislators who pretend to be experts on science are social curs.

Take a tip from Re-election Rick Santorum, get as far away from the Discovery Institute and the anti-science crowd as you can. The anti-science crowd LOST that trial, Chris, they did not win. They lost for a reason. Have you not read the ruling yet? I doubt you have, seems to me you simply take orders/direction from John West and the Discovery Institute. In fact I'd like to know about any contributions any fellows from the Discovery Institute have made to you. I'd also like to see whom from the Discovery Institute you have met with over the last few years.

I assume you keep records of who you meet with and the topics discussed? Let's start with your contact with the Discovery Institute as they are the creationists who are leading the national anti-science movement.

If you haven't noticed, people are sick of this anti-science, creationist agenda. The only people not sick of it are those that intelligent design creationism is their cash cow.

12/27/2005 9:10 PM  
Blogger Ben Fulton said...

I too have to oppose this attempt to bring religion into public school science classes. At the same time, I would like to thank the blog owners for allowing comments and not deleting opposing viewpoints. A rare decision!

12/28/2005 7:31 AM  
Anonymous mark isaak said...

I hope Chris Buttars will address the wider implications of the philosophy he expresses in his bill. I am particularly interested in his encouragement of opposing viewpoints and wonder how far it extends. After all, most fields of human endeavor, including law, have a far less firm foundation than the sciences. The ideas he expresses in the proposed bill suggest that we may disregard any law passed by the Utah Legislature if not all legislators agreed on it. Or may we disredard any law if, after critically analyzing it, we consider it an opposing viewpoint? And may we extend that to Fedral law? Since Buttars himself disregards Federal law in the bill, I guess the answer is yes.

Buttars' bill at least has the virtue of being self-defeating. But bad legislation, even proposed legislation, already goes far to decrease people's respect for the law. If Buttars wants not to erode that respect further, he will at the very least withdraw his bill.

12/28/2005 10:19 AM  
Anonymous I.M. DaMan said...

This bill would lay open the door to the teaching of "The Flying Spaghetti Monster" theory of creation which has been endorsed by literally hundreds of scientists, many of strong religious faith, across many disciplines around the world. If Senator Buttars is genuine in his statement he will vigorously support the full discussion of said theory in classrooms across the state with the same solemn tone expected and afforded other theories under consideration for discussion under the action of this bill. If he does not, he is disingenuous in his statement and assertion.

12/28/2005 11:49 AM  
Blogger Lawmakers said...

Chris,

I think you should have your own personal blog on your own personal domain like Steve Urquhart.

Why don't you have your own blog like Steve Urquhart?

Doug Kenline
http://lawmakers.blogspot.com/

12/28/2005 11:50 AM  
Anonymous hornblower said...

Buttars having his own blog would be pretty entertaining. With all of the "witty" things he says, it would get a lot of traffic.

12/28/2005 12:15 PM  
Blogger Paul Brown, PhD said...

All scientific generalizations come in the form of theories. This bill therefore should apply to all theories, not just evolution. They would include mechanics, gravity, electromagnetism, optics, quantum mechanics, tectonic plates, relativity, electricity, chemical bonding, genetics, molecular biology, and other theories in disciplines such as anthropology, psychology, sociology, etc. Not to include all these other theories would give the impression than there's a special agenda here, aimed only at evolution, wouldn't it? Hmm?

12/28/2005 12:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I invite Sen. Buttars to ask the most pre-eminent biologists in the country to help choose "alternative" theories to evolution. Ask a sampling of professors of biology from Stanford, Harvard, the University of Chicago, MIT, and other equally prestigious institutions to help create curricula, so that he can ensure that the students of Utah have access to the finest scientific minds in the U.S.!

Wouldn't *that* be an elegant solution to this ridiculous bill?

www.livejournal.com/~herbivorous

12/28/2005 1:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well I guess this means we should give equal time to the Raelians? They promote "atheist intelligent design" and claim they are in contact with the "intelligent designers" who created mankind.

I do hope Mr Buttars is planning to give the Raelians an opportunity to present their theory on the "origins of life" as well.

If he doesn't they would have a legitimate claim the the state of Utah is discriminating against their scientific "origins of life" theory.

But I am sure the pro-science Mr Buttars would allow the Raelians equal time, no?

ps: Mr Buttars would do well to consult either a legitimate science text or a legitimate scientist (or a high school youngster who passed biology) regarding his understanding of evolution. Modern biology/evolution and Darwin does not tackle the "origins of life" subject.

Finally, does Mr Buttars have a plan for all those uppity math teachers who suggest algebra is a fact and not a theory to their students? We should teach that controversy too!

12/28/2005 2:05 PM  
Anonymous The Senate Site said...

I deleted two nearly identical comments by “wired bible drinker” from this Comments Section, posted yesterday at 7:12 p.m. and 7:31 p.m. The only difference in the second post was he spelled ‘bastard’ with an '@.'

Notwithstanding the fierce disagreement surrounding this issue, let’s keep the discussion thoughtful and civil.

Thanks to all of you for some incisive postings. If our Wired Bible Drinker wants to resubmit in a more coherent, less offensive manner, we would welcome his comments.

12/28/2005 2:34 PM  
Anonymous Richee said...

[This was originally posted at 12/27/2005 07:12:29 PM, but was accidentally deleted.]

In the words of University of Utah bioengineering professor Gregory Clark: "Invoking the supernatural can explain anything, and hence explains nothing."

On the other hand I fully support the idea of religious-minded parents sabotaging their children's chances at successful careers in medicine, biotechnology, anthropology, chemistry, and history.

I prefer my scientists and leaders practice true science instead of "feel-good" science; If I had a machiavellian nature I'd be proactive about encouraging Chris Butters' ideas in modern society.

--
Posted by Richee to The Senate Site at 12/27/2005 07:12:29 PM

12/28/2005 2:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What I find most astonishing about the bill is that it flies so directly in the face of the Dover decision. I plead with the Legislature to see the folly in passing such a bill into law. Utah need not "inherit the wind" of Senator Buttars!

12/28/2005 4:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Firstly, I'd like to applaud the Senate for hosting this forum. It demonstrates an honest commitment to transparency and civic input.

It is critical when having this conversation to remember that the word evolution has two meanings which are unfortunately, often used interchangeably.

Evolution is BOTH a science and a theory. In terms of the SCIENCE of evolution, one cannot say for instance, “I don't believe evolution”, any more than one can say, “I don’t believe in biology.” Within the science of biology, there are thousands of theories.

When we disagree with a theory, we don’t say, “I don’t believe in that theory”, we say a theory is weak, wild, unproven, untested, or disproved.

Within the science of evolution, there are many theories about HOW things came to be (evolve). Certainly, creationism is one of them, and it IS scientifically testable, and it fails every test.

It goes without saying that “[not] all scientists agree on any one theory,” nor has ANY state ever endorsed ANY “ one theory over another.”

So, in an attempt to avoid any reference to creationism, Mr. Buttars has produced a bill that actually says NOTHING.

…which brings to mind the adage, “The Emperor has no clothes”

FYI:State Board of Education Position on Evolution

Cliff

12/28/2005 6:13 PM  
Anonymous Citizen 451 said...

Where are the supporters of Sen. Buttars bill? You'd think if Utahns were as concerned as Sen. Buttars about "opinionated teachers . . . teaching human evolution as fact" that there would be at least one rebuttal to the comments on this post.

Sen. Buttars, it appears that nobody in Utah wants your bill as law? I'd suggest that you not introduce when the session starts. Or, in the alternative, have your supporters post some rebuttal so we can see discussion on the issue instead of mere one-sided criticism.

12/28/2005 6:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So what part of evolution does Buttars find so offensive? The fact that species reproduce and their offspring will inherit certain traits? The fact that those traits that are favored by the environment will tend to collect within a species? That fact that natural selection plays a role?

Buttars is going to need to be a bit more specific of what piece in the evolutionary puzzle he finds objectionable.

And also note that anyone can find a "scientist" or a quack doctor for that matter to disagree with anything. We see scientists and doctors claiming magnets can heal cancer and similar nonsense all the time. Does Buttars want to give those folks a voice in our science classes?

From what we know about Buttars' recent history by all appearances this is one more example of the Discovery Institute's Wedge Strategy in action and Buttars is promoting it.

Mr Buttars if you by chance read this please consider my suggestion - take the time to actually learn about biology and evolution and if the Discovery Institute provides you with any materials related to evolution you might want to get a second opinion.

In fact you might want to poke around www.pandasthumb.org and learn more.

The Discovery Institute distorts Darwin, evolution, biology and what constitutes science on an ongoing basis. I assume you have read the Wedge Strategy by now?

Also, the intelligent design creationism defense witness and leading IDC scientist Michael behe admitted on the stand that for intelligent design creationism to be considered science we must first change the definition science.

Now that they have lost the Dover trial the Discovery Institute is shifting the focus from promoting intelligent design creationism to just trying to drown out modern biology, evolution and what constitutes legitimate science.

This legislation you are promoting gives the impression you are now simply a dupe for the Discovery Institute's agenda.

If the Discovery Institute is your source of understanding science and biology you are going to end up looking very foolish and uneducated. At least in the eyes of educated people.

I think a legitimate question for you to answer is who are you consulting about science with? Who is acting as your scientific advisor? What is the name of the scientist or scientific organization who is telling you scientists do not agree on biology and evolution? Surely you are not just making this stuff up and your resume suggests you are not an expert in biology, so someone must be providing you with scientific guidance.

To best understand where you are coming from I'd like to know who that person(s) or organization that is helping you understand evolution and biology is. I think everyone here and everyone in the state of Utah deserves to know who these people are who are telling you that evolution is not a fact and that scientists doubt evolution which is the foundation of all biology.

Who are your science advisors, Mr Buttars? Could you or one of your assistants please provide us with that information? That would be most helpful.

Thank you.

12/29/2005 9:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First things first: Define "theory".
If you use the definition used within the scientific community, then there is only one theory as to "the origins or present state of the human race": evolution. Intelligent Design, and its more honest cousin Creationism, do not qualify. It is generous to even qualify them as hypothesis, in the scientific sense of the word.

There are, in fact several Tentative theories regarding the origins of life, but again, ID and Creationism are not among them, as they are not, in any way, science.

12/29/2005 9:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The silence from Buttars supporters is DEAFENING.

When you think about it, its actually FRIGHTENING.

Have we really arrived at this point? Are supporters of this bill so ashamed of themselves that they are to embarassed to register their support ANONYMOUSLY?

It feels dirty and creepy, or is Buttars actually all alone on this.

Is it too little too late?

12/29/2005 11:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are we home yet Toto?

12/29/2005 11:33 AM  
Anonymous The Senate Site said...

Interesting that no one from the other side of this issue has posted.

Maybe there is no groundswell of public support for this bill - or maybe the demographic that would support Senator Buttars' legislation isn’t tuned in to our blog site yet.

Steve Rubel posted an interesting blog last Saturday that suggests denizens of the blogosphere are a unique element in the societal strata.

Most Blog Readers Are Very Tech Savvy: "If you think the blogosphere has flattened and that millions of moms and dads are now reading blogs, think again. Take a look at these Boing Boing stats and keep in mind that they're the most well-read blog out there. A quick glance at Boing Boing's December site stats reveals that more of their visitors now use Firefox than any other web browser, including Microsoft's Internet Explorer. As much as I love Firefox, its fan base is still dominated by geeks. Does this mean blogs aren't important? Hardly. It's the tech savvy who influence everyone else in our society."

Obviously, the wider array of perspective, the more valuable these blog discussions will be. I’ll make some calls . . . .

(And, yes, we use Firefox here at the Senate Site.)

12/29/2005 1:37 PM  
Anonymous Richee said...

Why is it not surprising that the people who are the most anti-science are also the least tech savvvy?

Why is it not surprising that politicians almost always have opinions that their major constituents approve of, regardless of how illogical, irrational and just plain wrong they are?

I don't doubt there and many, MANY people who have the same unscientific drive that Senator Buttars has, but who's responsability should it be to inform them of their mistaken opinions? Us? Themselves? The education system?

Most would say the education system, and I think Senator Butters would agree with them, which only makes me fear that Senator Butters is purposely trying to sabotage the education system for his personal (and his supporters') favor.

The only problem is that science is NOT an opinion. There's plenty of places in science for hypothesis and conjectures, and there are processes for how to deal with them, but the knowledge we pass on to our children must be the closest, most accurate version of reality that we have uncovered via the scientific method.

There are thousands of simple ways that biology, mathematics, chemistry and physics can be proven absolutely incorrect and in every instance new discoveries have only strengthened and supported the collective knowledge in all these areas of science.

This is because successful discoveries stand on the shoulders of previous successful discoveries. Science changes and, dare I say, evolves every day towards a more complete and accurate rendition of the universe.

The idea that faith should be placed above this strict method of gaining knowledge is dellusional.
Faith, that requires by it's very nature to be suspended in a state of stagnation, unyielding and unwavering, which will never be more accurate than it was 2,000 years ago.

Those who want to force this impoverished and primitive view of reality on our children, our future, are doing greater harm to us than any foreign country or state ever will.

12/29/2005 7:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good question! Is Senator Buttars going to divulge whom he is getting his science advice from or not?

When he suggests evolution (which is the foundation of biology) is only a theory obviously he believes he is on to something.

Is he going to make clear where he is coming up with these ideas?

And is he aware that those "opinionated" teachers have the support of every major scientific organization in the United States behind them 100%?

Does Senator Buttars honestly believe he is more knowledgable about science and biology than every single scientific organization in America.

It has been said before in this thread and I agree - I would like to know who is Senator Buttars getting his science "education" from.

I think the voters deserve that kind of transparancy from him.

Thanks for inviting opinions on this matter :-)

12/30/2005 9:03 AM  
Anonymous The Senate Site said...

Senator Buttars Bill has at least one fan. A reader posted a supportive comment on our previous Buttars Bill Blog: http://senatesite.com/blog/2005/12/chris-buttars-bill.html .

Thanks again for the comments and for maintaining a highly-evolved (or is it divinely designed?) level of civility.

12/30/2005 5:35 PM  
Anonymous Lauri Updike said...

When considering theories, we
ought to consider the evidence. There is far more evidence of intelligent design than of the theory of evolution. Fossils are the only hard evidence we have of the history of life on this planet. We have found countless fossils but when we look at the fossil layers for the evolution of simple to complex, we find no evidence of such progression. Darwin himself said that he considered the fossil record to be too imperfect and if a person rejects the theory because of the imperfection of the fossil record, he rightly must reject the whole theory. In actuality, there is not enough evidence of the theory of evolution to fill a single human coffin!

12/30/2005 6:51 PM  
Anonymous Richee said...

Lauri, I suspect you're just trolling, because otherwise you're exhibiting a less than 7th grade-level biology education.
Regardless I'll offer you the latest court decisions on the scientific validity of ID:

"We find that ID fails on three different levels, any one of which is sufficient to preclude a determination that ID is science. They are (1) ID violates the centuries-old ground rules of science by invoking an permitting supernatural causation; (2) the argument of irreducible complexity, central to ID, employs the same flawed an illogical contrived dualism that doomed creation science in the 1980’s; and (3) ID’s negative attacks on evolution have been refuted by the scientific community. As we will discuss in more detail below, it is additionally important to note that ID has failed to gain acceptance in the scientific community, it has not generated peer-reviewed publications, nor has it been the subject of testing and research." from the recent Dover, PA decision

And as for the statement that there is no merit to the fossils that have been uncovered and examined since Darwin's time:

"To say there are no transitional fossils is simply false. Paleontology has progressed a bit since Origin of Species was published, uncovering thousands of transitional fossils, by both the temporally restrictive and the less restrictive definitions. The fossil record is still spotty and always will be; erosion and the rarity of conditions favorable to fossilization make that inevitable. Also, transitions may occur in a small population, in a small area, and/or in a relatively short amount of time; when any of these conditions hold, the chances of finding the transitional fossils goes down. Still, there are still many instances where excellent sequences of transitional fossils exist. Some notable examples are the transitions from reptile to mammal, from land animal to early whale, and from early ape to human. For many more examples, see the transitional fossils FAQ in the talk.origins archive, and see http://www.geo.ucalgary.ca/~macrae/talk_origins.html for sample images for some invertebrate groups." from Five major misconceptions about evolution

12/30/2005 8:59 PM  
Blogger Rhonda Millett said...

I would like to applaud Sen. Buttars for his courage in proposing this legislation. It needs to be done. The origin of life happened so long ago anything we conjecture about it is at best an hypothesis. And there are many hypotheses on this subject.

“This section should be viewed as the best hypothesis scientists have as to the history of the planet. The material here ranges from some issues that are fairly certain to some topics that are nothing more than informed speculation. For some points there are opposing hypotheses -- I have tried to compile a consensus picture. In general, the more remote the time, the more likely the story is incomplete or in error.” (See http://www.talkorigins.org/origins/faqs-evolution.html and click on introduction to evolution. This is a web site that provides mainstream scientific responses about the controversy between evolution and creationism.)

My personal feelings are that this area of study is not a science, but a religious belief , i.e. atheism. The basic premise being, how could the earth come to be if there were no God creating it? I applaud Sen. Buttars for allowing other ideas to be taught to our children.

12/30/2005 10:24 PM  
Anonymous H. Gunther said...

Senator Buttars,
The theory of evolution needs to be taught as just that ...the theory of evolution. There are problems in this theory and it is not all factual. My time allows for one example of the theory's discrepencies: survival of the fittest. How can the law of survival of the fittest allow a species the room to collaberate or to show compassion? Why don't "fittest" parents eat their offspring? (and may I add that Darwin pondered the question of what constitutes a species for his whole life, never coming to a definitive conclusion but rather allowing the definition of a species to be left in the care of "competent" naturlist judges to rule on what a species is or isn't"The Origin of Species, pg 62") Face it, the reason some people like the theory is because humans are classified as no more than animals, and thus, as a type of animal, not held accountable to moral laws. Darwinism has had to "tiptoe" around the issue of human societies and how human behaviors have developed--see "The Econimist, Dec 24, 2005, page 11.
The theory is not fact and should not be taught as such in school. (at very least without opposing, alternate, and viable views.)
Sincerely,
H.Gunther
Note-why does this site allow anonymity in expressing views? Does unwillingness to place one's name down diminish the sincerity of their view to the other readers?

12/30/2005 11:08 PM  
Blogger beehappy said...

Perhaps all of the phenominally arrogant, anonymous "scientists" that are posting here have not read about the "Santorum language" in the conference report language that gives Congress’s authoritative view of how the "No Child Left Behind" act should be interpreted and applied. This conference report makes a strong statement that, where Darwinian evolutionary theory or other controversial scientific topics are taught, students should be exposed to multiple viewpoints. This language gives support to those at the local and state level who uphold the value of intellectual freedom in the teaching of science.

Maybe Senator Buttars and the other politicians mentioned above are idiots, maybe they're not.

Maybe the anonymous "scientists" who have posted should look around at all the scientists who are saying that neo-darwinism simply cannot and does not explain the complexity we see on the earth today and that it is time to look for a new theory.

Oh...maybe they are afraid they are the ones that look like idiots for zealously holding onto an old dogma so religiously - maybe thats why they're anonymous....

12/30/2005 11:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

HURRAY for Senator Buttars!!

12/31/2005 12:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Senator Buttars. Thank you for standing up for life again. Would that we had many more statesmen like yourself who acknowledge a God in the Universe. Thank heavens for teachers who teach truth and recognize that evolution is not the sole answer.

Be assured that there are many who stand behind you and are doing all in their power to be complete in their scientific teachings back to the students, as complete as they can be with what has been handed down. The good teachers are the ones that DO NOT deny God in their teaching. The good teachers actually look for scientific evidence of creation backed by an All-Powerful Being.

12/31/2005 9:12 AM  
Blogger Micki said...

Chris,

Thanks for your bill proposal on opposing views regarding the origin of life in our school curriculum. It seems only right that there be more than one opinion. Especially because scientists do not all agree on one way in which life originated. Let’s push this one forward.

Micki
Highland

12/31/2005 9:38 AM  
Anonymous Becky said...

I appreciate my children being taught in school that scientific theory is just that - theory. Theories are ideas and may be substantiated by experiments and research but they are often not proven beyond any doubt and can be unproven. We need to encourage questions and continued discovery and seeking of truth. I support this bill.

12/31/2005 11:46 AM  
Blogger Drew said...

I support tis bill.

Thank you Senator Buttars

12/31/2005 12:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Laurie U states: "When considering theories, we ought to consider the evidence. There is far more evidence of intelligent design than of the theory of evolution." Her argument (if it can even be considered as such), then goes full steam ahead without so much as identifying a single item of this apparent abundance of evidence supporting intelligent design. Pray tell, just what "evidence" does she refer?

JRF

12/31/2005 2:50 PM  
Blogger Nephi said...

I agree with JRF. The best that most supporters of ID can muster are vague statements to the effect that life (or the various species) is too complex to have evolved. In other words, there must have been an intelligent creator. Such statements are, however, not "evidence"; they are subjective opinions based on the utter void of evidence. At least the fossil record, incomplete as it may be, provides some tangible factual evidence that supports the theory of evolution. There is no tangible factual evidence to support ID.

12/31/2005 3:09 PM  
Blogger Vincent Newmeyer said...

As I have posted else where:

Congratulations, Senator Buttars, for introducing your bill allowing an educational eyes-wide-open view on the origins of life. Darwin’s theory of “Evolution” is still just a theory.

More and more scientists who take an objective look at the evidence are assuming a belief in intelligent design. This is quite interesting considering most were educated in an evolution only environment. Issues such as the lack of fossil support, the now understood complexities of biological life that defy a simple “mutation and natural selection” explanation, as well as other evidence, or lack there of, often persuade the unprejudiced mind in favor of intelligent design.

I find that many of the new discoveries that are often called “evidence” of evolution could just as easily be characteristic of intelligent design. For example, the now often cited “genetic analysis, which shows that every organism is governed by the same genetic code controlling the same biochemical processes”. Does this show evidence of evolution or could it also be attributed to an intelligent creator, who used the same solution for the bio-complexities of life from creature to creature.

There is much evidence in favor of an intelligent origin of life. VeAnn Bean’s post on this issue has already illuminated many sources on the subject. It seems apparent that many of those who dogmatically push for a single public education or state view and the exclusion of an intelligence in life’s origins are not promoting science near so much as they are promoting a philosophy – or religion the religion of no God - which is secular humanism. When we embrace such ideas, whether good intentioned or not, we will inevitably find ourselves faced with the danger that Thomas Jefferson warned us about: “Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath?”

We, the citizens of this nation, have allowed a few people with their particular no-God agenda to shape the educational landscape of our public schools. It is far past time for a correction of this myopic and intolerant educational policy to change.

*As VeAnn Bean’s post was elsewhere, and as it seems that many of the participants of this blog seem to have difficulty finding the volumes of research that show many challenges to Darwin’s evolution theory, I am reposting VeAnn’s list here:

Featured Articles

Stephen Meyer, “The Origin of Biological Information and the Higher Taxonomic Categories” Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 117(2004):213-239.

Lönnig, W.-E. Dynamic genomes, morphological stasis and the origin of irreducible complexity, Dynamical Genetics, Pp. 101-119. PDF(2.95MB)HTML

Jonathan Wells, “Do Centrioles Generate a Polar Ejection Force? Rivista di Biologia/Biology Forum 98 (2005): 37-62.

Scott Minnich and Stephen C. Meyer, “Genetic Analysis of Coordinate Flagellar and Type III Regulatory Circuits,” Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Design & Nature, Rhodes Greece, edited by M.W. Collins and C.A. Brebbia (WIT Press, 2004).

Peer-Reviewed Books Supportive of Intelligent Design Published by Trade Presses or University Presses

W.A. Dembski, The Design Inference: Eliminating Chance through Small Probabilities (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998).

Michael Behe, Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution (The Free Press, 1996).

Charles B. Thaxton, Walter L. Bradley, Roger L. Olsen, The Mystery of Life’s Origin: Reassessing Current Theories (Philosophical Library, 1984, Lewis & Stanley, 4th ed., 1992).

John Angus Campbell and Stephen C. Meyer, Darwinism, Design, & Public Education (Michigan State University Press, 2003)

Books Supportive of Intelligent Design Published by Prominent Trade Presses

Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay W. Richards, The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos is Designed for Discovery (Regnery Publishing, 2004).

William Dembski, No Free Lunch: Why Specified Complexity Cannot be Purchased without Intelligence (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2002).

Michael Denton, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis (Adler & Adler, 1985).

Articles Supportive of Intelligent Design Published in Peer-Reviewed Scientific Journals

S.C. Meyer, “The Origin of Biological Information and the Higher Taxonomic Categories,” Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, 117(2) (2004): 213-239.

M.J. Behe and D.W. Snoke, “Simulating Evolution by Gene Duplication of Protein Features That Require Multiple Amino Acid Residues,” Protein Science, 13 (2004): 2651-2664.

W.-E. Lönnig & H. Saedler, “Chromosome Rearrangements and Transposable Elements,” Annual Review of Genetics, 36 (2002): 389-410

M.J. Denton, J.C. Marshall & M. Legge, (2002) “The Protein Folds as Platonic Forms: New Support for the pre-Darwinian Conception of Evolution by Natural Law,” Journal of Theoretical Biology 219 (2002): 325-342.

Articles Supportive of Intelligent Design Published in Peer-Reviewed Scientific Anthologies

Lönnig, W.-E. Dynamic genomes, morphological stasis and the origin of irreducible complexity, Dynamical Genetics, Pp. 101-119. In i>Dynamical Genetics by V. Parisi, V. de Fonzo & F. Aluffi-Pentini, eds.,(Research Signpost, 2004)

Five science articles from Darwinism, Design, & Public Education, edited by John Angus Campbell and Stephen C. Meyer (Michigan State University Press, 2003) (hereinafter DDPE):

Meyer, S. C. DNA and the origin of life: Information, specification and explanation, DDPE Pp. 223-285.

Articles Supportive of Intelligent Design Published in Peer-Edited Scientific Anthologies and Conference Proceedings

Four science articles from W. A. Dembski & M. Ruse, eds., DEBATING DESIGN: FROM DARWIN TO DNA (Cambridge, United Kingdom, Cambridge University Press, 2004) (hereinafter DEBATING DESIGN)

Dembksi, W.A., The logical underpinnings of intelligent design, DEBATING DESIGN, Pp.
311-330.

12/31/2005 3:30 PM  
Blogger Nephi said...

Thank you Vincent for the list of sources; I will certainly review as many as time permits. Might I point out, however, that your post fails to identify tangible factual evidence in support of ID. Indeed, the phrase "or lack thereof" in your second paragraph appears to be your strongest piece of evidence, which is no evidence at all. Where is the beef?

12/31/2005 3:50 PM  
Anonymous Craig Caldwell said...

This bill is really needed and is only fair. Thank you Senator Buttars!

12/31/2005 4:22 PM  
Blogger Nephi said...

I might point out further that the teachings of many of the authors identified in Vincent's list (or VeAnn's list) - e.g., Dembski, Thaxton, Behe and Minnich - were considered thoroughly by Judge Jones during trial of the Dover case and are discussed in the Court's extensive and well-reasoned opinion. Indeed, Professors Behe and Minnich testified as to their teachings and understandings and those of others on behalf of the school board at the trial. Yet Judge Jones soundly rejected the arguments in support of ID as constituting evidence of a scientific theory. Nevertheless, I will review as many of the sources as time permits so that I can be more fully informed. Perhaps others will likewise review Judge Jones' opinion so that they can better understand the controlling legal issues and the substance of the so-called "evidence" that is being used to support ID. The opinion is lengthy, but worth the effort.

12/31/2005 4:57 PM  
Anonymous Alyn Olson said...

Thank you Senator Buttars for your efforts to get the truth to our children. There is no positive proof that evolution is or isn't true and the same for all other 'theories'. One is as good as another. They cannot be proven.
May God bless all your efforts on our and our children's behalf.
Alyn Olson

12/31/2005 7:39 PM  
Blogger Wendy said...

Senator Buttors' bill sounds fair to me. I have long found it troublesome that a vocal minority is allowed to shove their views down the majority's throats and make us feel like we are the ones pushing our beliefs on others when we say anything about it. This bill doesn't say that the theory of evolution is wrong or that it shouldn't be taught or that ID should be taught as fact. It simply says that we should teach our children to think critically, and not dictate one theory to them and present it as the only alternative.

I am a graduate student in psychology. My university education teaches me to think scientifically, which means not to blindly accept anything presented as fact without considering alternate explanations and possible flaws with the theory. There has been a huge difference between this and what is taught to the children in public schools. I am one hundred percent in favor of teaching children to think critically and not blindly accept one theory over all others, especially when that theory is not accepted by all scientists. Look at all of the things that have been accepted as scientific fact throughout history that were later disproven! There are things like we used to think that dinosaurs were slow-moving and clumsy reptilian creatures that couldn't move around efficiently out of water, but now they say dinosaurs were more likely birdlike, warm-blooded , and active. The theory of relativity was accepted, but now is being questioned. What makes us think that any of what the current scientific community believes at any given moment is infallable? Let's teach kids to consider all of the alternatives and make their own decision, keeping an open mind.

12/31/2005 11:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vince, Wendy, Alyn and Laurie, your points are fine and well-taken. But the question remains, where is the asserted "evidence"? Just point out a single piece of positive, tangible evidence that supports ID! The fossil record, albeit incomplete, at least supports evolution - as a theory - in a positive, tangible way. Analogous evidence to support ID - as a theory - does not exist. The best one can find are negative, non-tangible thought exercises that rely, ultimately, on the existence of a creator. The First Amendment therefore demands that such discussion not occur in public schools. Nobody advocates that such discussion cannot occur, just not in public schools.

1/01/2006 1:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the interest of furthering this civic debate, for everyone’s convenience, I offer todays Opinion Letters

from the Salt Lake Tribune…

Its not science
What God wants
Enough of Buttars

and The Deseret Morning News...

Nothing, NADA

And the observation that it was not until it began to be pointed out in various places, that there had been no support for Buttars bill expressed on this blog, and a few e-mails when out, that a few supporters of Intelligent Design suddenly appeared, as if “called.”

There was also this letter in the Trib today, which struck me as the same kind of propaganda that finds its chorus among the few spiritually insecure and politically uneducated, who somehow inspired by the tribal call – “be one of us” – choose the safe, warm, predictable embrace of loyalty over enlightenment.

How badly eroded has become the education of our citizenry that one might in the same breath utter, “American Christians”, “majority rules”, “democracy”, and that there should be no “separation between God and state”, without seeming to have the slightest clue that the very thing they propose, goes against the essence of the freedoms and liberties upon which The United States was founded? And that the very impunity with which they can suggest such a thing, is derived from the very thing they wish to take away.

Senator Buttars' bill is not about science at all, but about the religious forces and the tyranny of the majority that will forever threaten Democracies wherever religious education is empowered over a public education that fails to teach us the miracle of our founding, as a nation, under A God, for whom NO MAN speaks.

Cliff

1/01/2006 4:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wendy says: "I am one hundred percent in favor of teaching children to think critically and not blindly accept one theory over all others, especially when that theory is not accepted by all scientists." My question in response is: Where in the history of mainstream public education are children taught that the theory of evolution must be blindly accepted over all others?

JRF

1/01/2006 7:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cliff raises an excellent point - not until it became humiliatingly clear that Buttars' bill was looking like a stick of soft margarine did the troops receice the calling to support the bill on this blog. The troops, having received their calling, then came and went. They came and went, however, without responding to the call of Nephi and other anonymous contributors to identify the beef!

Graduate Farmdog

1/01/2006 8:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The silence from Buttars' supporters is once again deafening ... and telling!

JRF

1/02/2006 3:13 PM  
Blogger hathawsh said...

I believe strongly in God, yet I do not support this bill. Mr. Buttars seems to share my concern that students are often presented a confusing picture on the origins of life. However, this bill is not the right way to resolve that concern.

Science is a simple set of rules that establish rigor to ensure the progress of knowledge. The proper use of science has caused major progress in recent centuries. However, the success of science has led people to put a little too much faith in science, even though the rules of science require researchers to ignore many useful concepts.

Creation by God is a useful concept, but since God chooses to make himself known through faith rather than observation, science can't qualify the concept as a theory. I doubt it bothers God that evolution wins by default as a scientific theory. In fact, I think God inspired the theory of evolution in order to advance the medical field.

So students need to learn evolution theory, but they also need to learn that there are many useful concepts that don't fit the Scientific Method very well.

1/03/2006 1:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Senator Buttars, your bill is vague on a few points:

- You say that there are multiple scientific theories of biological origins. What are they?

- You say that "not all" scientists agree. How many disagree? 20%? 5%? 1%?

- Since your bill addresses only biological origins, does this imply that there is less agreement in this area than in other areas of science?

Thank you.

1/03/2006 11:21 AM  
Anonymous Bruce Fryer said...

Chris,

Steve Urguhart posted this on his website, and I think he nailed the issue. This is not a good bill.
###
Though the details of an intelligent design bill are still evolving, I received a thoughtful email from a retired BYU science professor that I thought readers might enjoy. It reads,

I oppose any legal requirement that “intelligent design”, or comparable idea, be taught along with evolution as a competing theory. I have several reasons for my opposition:

1. It would create a problem where none exists. The problem would be that students would be forced to choose between intelligent design and evolution and, by extension, religion and science. This choice is not necessary and would do harm. Over my professional career, I have talked with a number of people (or their relatives) who have chosen science and left their religion, falsely believing that they were antithetical. But it is possible to accept both, if one is willing to wait to resolve apparent conflicts (point 3 below.)

2. Intelligent design, or similar ideas, is not a scientific theory. It cannot replace evolution. To try to force a thinking student to do so will often push him or her to gravitate to the science and drop the religion (point 1.) It’s like trying to prove the existence of God with science or math—it can’t be done. Teachers know that; students know that; legislators know that.

3. Our understanding, in both science and religion, is highly inadequate. The history of science shows that it is a mistake to try to invoke God to explain scientific mysteries, because the mysteries often get explained later and the religionists then look foolish. Because of our incomplete understanding, there are often apparent contradictions. (I can cite several.) It is better to wait for our religious and scientific understandings to progress—and this may take a while!—rather than to try to wrench one side to fit the other, as Procrustes stretched or compressed people to fit his bed in the old myth.

4. There is an implied assumption held by a number of people in this state that the LDS Church opposes evolution. This is false. See the comments in my earlier letter (attached) about, say, the statement in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism. There is a packet, available at BYU, containing statements made or approved by the LDS First Presidency, which statements make it clear that the question is not settled.

5. Evolution, while still a developing area, has considerable scientific evidence supporting it. It is a unifying principle in modern biology. As noted above, to force a choice may push people to choose the science over religion.

6. The debate in Dover, PA, over this issue has caused hard and divisive feelings among the citizens of that community. It is not necessary to cause such a division in our community; as noted above, this is not a problem. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”

7. There is the possibility of legal action if apparently religious agenda are promoted by the legislation.

Now—some of you may think there is a problem. It is true that some scientists will baldly state that evolution implies that there is no God. These may be found in a number of universities. It is better to help our students realize that they need not have to choose so that they can meet tough challenges to their beliefs elsewhere. Such a problem occurs typically at the university level, not the public school level, which is what the proposed legislation likely will address. This also results from a confusion over the origin of life as opposed to the development of life (although some people will say that the origin question is settled.)

I personally believe that God somehow arranged the development of man, and man’s body, to achieve the potentially divine body that he now has. I also believe that He used an evolutionary process to do this. There are lots of gaps in my beliefs, and I don’t understand how He did this to achieve such a well-functioning, complicated being as man is. I am content to wait to find that out. I doubt it will happen in my lifetime. But I feel my religious and my scientific understandings are satisfactory for the time being.

You may want to make it possible for teachers to say something like, “The origins of life and particularly of the bodies of men and women are unsettled and are largely a matter of one’s religious belief. We cannot and do not address that here. However, many people regard their science and their religion as compatible.” That would be fine, as long as teachers then do not go on to promote their own particular religious beliefs.

Food for thought.

1/03/2006 2:30 PM  
Anonymous Ned Weeks said...

Thought the group might like to see the following email from the Utah Eagle Forum which attempts to rally the troops to support Sen. Buttars' "Intelligent Design" bill and to post supportive responses here on this site:

Utah Eagle Forum Alert:

Date: Fri, 30 Dec 2005 16:39:43 -0700
From: "Utah Eagle Forum Alert"
To: "+ UEF Alerts ?hotmail.com Alerts"
Subject: EAGLES!!! URGENT URGENT ALERT!!!

EAGLES --
PLEASE TAKE A MOMENT TO POST A POSITIVE COMMENT!!!

Senator Chris Buttars is sponsoring a bill on "Intelligent Design" this year.

It is SO IMPERATIVE that we give support to help get it passed.

The issue is this -- the "separation of church and state people" will NEVER let us have Creationism taught in schools. But purpose of Senator Buttars' bill is to add balance to the teaching of the origin of life -- if the THEORY of Evolution is taught, it should be balanced by the teaching of "Intelligent Design".

The bill is currently being processed -- I don't have a bill number, nor can I direct you to the bill text as yet . . .

However, please go to this link and post a positive comment based upon what you know about the issue. Thus far, the only comments posted are negative ones. http://senatesite.com/blog/2005/12/chris-buttars-bill.html

IT HAS BEGUN!

Thanks for all you do,

Maryann

Well, no surprise that the Eagle Forum has its fingerprints all over this controversy. Anyone (Buttars) who suggests that this is not about teaching ID is blowing smoke. Buttars and the Eagles are trying to use this bill as a battering ram to get ID in the backdoor of the school house.

Ned

1/03/2006 3:05 PM  
Anonymous DALANE M ENGLAND said...

IT IS ABOUT TIME SOMEONE IS TAKING NOTE OF THE EDUCATION OF OUR CHILDREN, OR LACK THEREOF. I HAVE NEVER UNDERSTOOD, EVEN IN HIGH SCHOOL, WHY A THEORY WAS TAUGHT AS A FACT, ESPECIALLY WHEN DARWIN HIMSELF CAME TO DISBELIEVED HIS OWN THEORY. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SPONSORING THIS BILL. I STAND BEHIND IT WHOLE-HEARTEDLY.
DALANE M ENGLAND
801-298-5319

1/03/2006 4:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Darwin nor current evolutionary theory tackle questions of "origins of life" so if Buttars wants to teach "origins of life" then he can simply leave out evolution.

Also, I note the Buttars supporters here are cheering on teachers talking about God in the classroom. Thanks Buttars supporters for being honest and not playing the Discovery Institute game of "intelligent design [creationism] is not about religion".

Thanks for being honest. You (and Buttars) clearly want to bring God into the science classroom. I find that idea most disturbing but I thank you for your honesty.

But instead of pretending intelligent design is science, or pretending evolution is not a fact, why not simply introduce a comparative religion class? Kids could learn about Christianity, Islam, Intelligent Design Creationism, etc? Why not have a history of Christianity class?

But please keep religion out of science class, please don't pretend intelligent design creationism is science, please don't pretend evolution is not a fact, and please keep the Discovery Institute's Wedge Strategy out of Utah public schools.

Finally, it has been asked more than once but I'll ask again, would Senator Buttars kindly let us know who is giving him his science advice? I think we deserve to know. I'd also like to know if anyone from the Discovery Institute has financially contributed to his campaign.

Miles Christopher

1/03/2006 5:15 PM  
Anonymous Rhonda Millett said...

I have been doing more research on intelligent design and evolution theory. It has been an interesting project. There are complex logical arguments on both sides. There is also a lot of complex probability and statistics involved in the intelligent design argument that would be difficult for a person to study on their own without a teacher demonstrating. I think it would be a fantastic learning experience for any student. If this theory has no merit, our children are going to need to know why. It is very sophisticated logic and math.

I am also troubled by the derogatory way some scientists look down on anyone who believes in a religion. In many cases they actually use the theory of evolution to promote atheism. This is also why something needs to be done at the legislative level about teaching the origin of life.

Many have stated that the theory of evolution does not teach about the origin of life. In my research, this is not the case. In fact they have many theories. Richard Dawkins, in his book The Blind Watchmaker, says that there are no shortage of theories and goes on to describe two, the primeval-soup theory and the inorganic mineral theory. I’m not sure how many are currently in our textbooks, but scientists are divided on the theories in this area.

1/03/2006 8:18 PM  
Blogger Mike Jones said...

Props to Senator Buttars for proposing a bill that he feels strongly about. I like to see politicians acting on their principles. However, I think the bill is a bad idea for two reasons.

First, the biggest problem with the bill is that forced combinations of science and religion cheapen science and weaking religion. Let us resolve to teach science in science class and religion in religion classes (or even better at home!). The religious scientists that I know and have read about have a remarkable amount of personal humility which allows them live with unanswered questions about both religion and science.

Steve Urquhart has an insightful letter from a real scientist on this topic at his self-titled blog.

Second, looking more directly at the text of the bill, the problem with the bill is that the fact that not all scientists agree on a thing is not surprising. Oddly, top-flight scientists are just normal people. Like normal people, many different scientists have many different opinions on many different things. When a non-expert attempts to make judgements about the validity of a scientific theory, the non-expert is well advised to stick with the mainstream. Just because a scientist has an opinion about a topic in that scientist's area of expertise does not make that opinion correct or even accepted.

If we follow the logic of Sen. Buttars bill, then we should also teach different theories about, well, just about everything. So we should have a bill that requires teaching Stephen Jones at BYU (no less) thinks that the WTC was brought down by internal charges. Other scientists think that it was brought down by the fires caused by two large airplanes. Try reading the bill with "origins of life" replaced by "destruction of the WTC".

And we should teach Linus Pauling's ideas on vitamins as a treatment for psychological illnesses in psychology class. And we should think about teaching William Shockley's ideas on eugenics in social studies.

An appeal to pure logic doesn't work to resolve these differences of opinion because pure logic is surprisingly un-useful in answering questions about the real world. The problem is that when connecting logic to the real world it is difficult to agree on what the axioms should be. Even worse, pure logic isn't that good about reasoning about pure logic--even though the axioms are completely artificial.

I think the one redeeming quality of this bill is that a future version of the bill may drop all the origins of life language and simply require that students be taught that not all scientists agree on lots of different and important topics.

1/03/2006 9:49 PM  
Blogger didymus said...

Rhonda Millett,

Just to make a brief comment on your post. Do you honestly believe we need to do something on a “legislative level” to stop some atheists using evolution to justify their “religious” beliefs?

Why can’t you use evolution to promote Biblical theistic belief right on back? I think that God’s creation of evolution, in all its randomness, chance, unpredictability, and the beauty of its capacity to evolve complex life and structures without God’s constant direct intervention and guidance, goes a long ways to show the amount of forethought that God put into his creation. For me evolution does a pretty good job of fulfilling the verse “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead” (Romans 1:20, KJV)

http://evolutioninutah.blogspot.com/

1/04/2006 2:34 PM  
Anonymous Rhonda Millett said...

Didymus said “Why can’t you use evolution to promote Biblical theistic belief right on back? I think that God’s creation of evolution, in all its randomness, chance, unpredictability, and the beauty of its capacity to evolve complex life and structures without God’s constant direct intervention and guidance, goes a long ways to show the amount of forethought that God put into his creation.”

I really like your basic idea, however it implies that God is our designer and this is anathema to the evolutionists. To quote Richard Dawkins again, “The Darwinian says that variation is random in the sense that it is not directed towards improvement, and that the tendency to improvement in evolution comes from selection.” [The Blind Watchmaker].

There is scientific evidence for directed improvement in our development. Biologists will tell you that random is defined differently for them than for the mathematician. Genetic mutations are more likely to occur at certain points in the DNA than others. Some are 100 times more likely to mutate, some 1000 times more likely. This is not what I would describe as random and unpredictable. Instead of adjusting their theory, they redefine the word “random.”

We do intrinsically believe in intelligent design. If genetic engineers are not intelligent designers, what are they doing? We believe it is possible or we would not have that area of science.

1/04/2006 9:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Once again, Sen. Buttars thinks he is above the common man and can do whatever he wants. Clearly having a noble profession DOES NOT qualify you to make laws for the state. Why is he still in office? Clearly he does not represent the majority of the people. When is someone going to run agains this crazy man?

1/05/2006 10:28 AM  
Blogger didymus said...

Rhonda Millett,

I think you are making several erroneous assumptions in your post, but I’ll just comment on what I think is the core one. You say my basic idea is “anathema to the evolutionists”, that would be incorrect. It’s anathema with atheists, not evolutionists. The theory of evolution is not a wholly owned and operated subsidiary of atheism.

http://evolutioninutah.blogspot.com/

1/05/2006 11:31 AM  
Blogger Evolution Ogre said...

A few comments, several people have asked what the source was for Chris Buttars scientific misinformation. During his Rod Decker debate with Duane Jeffery last August, he was mangling some descriptions of Discovery Institute propaganda, including the list of scientists who dissent from Darwinism. Apparently, he also had someone there coaching him from the Creation Research Society. As for Vincent Newmeyer's reference to VeAnn Beam's illuminating list of sources for evidence for an intelligent origin of life, it comes verbatim from the Discovery Institute's list of "Peer-reviewed and Peer-Edited, and other Scientific Publications Supporting the Theory (sic) of Intelligent Design." Although, to be accurate in a Boolean sense, we would need to change that and to and or and use one of the redefinitions of scientific.

H. Gunther asked the tragicially confused question, "Why don't "fittest" parents eat their offspring?" The answer is that fitness is based on the number of offspring that survive to reproduce. Therefore, killing your offspring lowers fitness. This level of misunderstanding is far too prevalent among those who oppose science. Just as the wedge strategy seeks to redefine knowledge as mystery, opponents of scientific education confuse misunderstanding with knowledge. For this reason, we need to educate each generation as well as possible so that they do not become confused pawns for activist fringe groups. Each person in the Eagle Forum alerts mailing list has the ability to learn the difference between science and nonsense, but they choose to spout off from a position of ignorance before taking the time to learn the facts. The truth is, H. Gunther, you should learn for yourself what the facts are. Show at least a modicum of a commitment to the concept of education before forming your strident views of what our education policy should be.

As for the bill itself, I personally think the state should endorse one theory over another. The state should endorse the scientific theory that is supported by an overwhelming majority of scientists in that field. Simply because not all scientists agree does not mean that a poorly supported theory should be given equal footing with an established one. That is idiotic thinking. If a group of math students don't all write that 4+3 = 7 should they all get equal credit because of a lack of consensus? This is a horrible standard for education.

In addition to stating that not all scientists agree, perhaps we should add this statement to history classes, english classes, geography classes, in fact, maybe just recognize that it is universal for every subject and not stress it just for biological evolution.

If Sen. Buttars really has the problem that his phone rings off the hook with his constituents asking him to protect their religious beliefs from being dismantled by science education in public schools, then I have some sympathy. However, if they choose to believe that the world is flat, it is not the Senator's job to redefine the fundamentals of geography. Likewise, if people want to teach their children to believe in a certain type of holy book, creator, or deity, it does not mean that the state can only endorse those concepts that don't contradict those beliefs.

Right now the ID movement is thronged with misinformation, deception, and ignorance. I hope the state will embrace the highest standards of education in order to help our children avoid this unfortunate quagmire.

1/05/2006 1:27 PM  
Blogger Col. Takashi said...

The Buttars bill has problems:
(1) It is so nebulous in its language that the interpretation of it by the State Board of Education, let alone by the courts, would be nearly impossible.
(2) Any direction from the State that percolates down to individual teachers would constrain their personal freedom of expression.
(3) No teacher who sincerely believes that "naked Darwinism," without any divine intervention, is the sole explanaton for biological dievelopment and diversity, is going to do a decent job of explaining the criticisms of the modern Darwinian synthesis, and will just come across to his or her students as performing a sarcastic parody, ala John Stewart on The Daily Show on Comedy Central.

A better measure would simply announce that there is to be academic freedom, for both instructors AND students, concerning ALL theories, scientific or otherwise, taught in Utah public schools. AND it would appropriate funds to balance the school libraries by purchasing solidly reasoned books like "Darwin's Black Box" by biochemist Michael Behe, which points out that Darwinists are unable to explain any rational Darwinian pathway for development of almost all features of living cells, and don't even try. Let teachers and students have access to this information, and make up their own minds.

By all means, the modern Darwinian synthesis of random mutation/natural selection with genetics needs to be taught, and students need to learn about it, but neither teachers nor students should be punished or ridiculed if they point out in the classroom that there are reasoned criticisms of specific aspects of the theory.

The truth is that among biologists there are lots of criticisms about significant aspects of modern Darwinism, such as Stephen Jay Gould's hypothesis of Punctuated Equilibrium, to explain the embarrassing lack of the gradual transition in the fossil record that is predicted by Darwin. Gould loved to write about the mysterious Cambrian Explosion, in which almost all of the modern branches of life came into existence in a "short" geological time, at rates of diversification that have never been matched in the last 1.5 billion years.

In the actual research literature and scientific conferences, biologists doubt the ability of DNA information alone to explain the development of organisms (this is a whole field that has been called Evolutionary Development or Evo Devo), and have raised questions about how new organs that actually work and provide a survival advantage could come into being. People like Dawkins and his sympathizers don't want us looking behind the curtain at scientific conferences and journals to learn that the Great and Powerful Darwin is really a human being whose 150 year old theory was not perfect when he offered it, and is mainly powered by the fact that it is the only theory of biological development that works in an atheist universe.

After reading a good deal of the literature on this controversy, it seems to me that those who want to suppress all criticism of Darwinian orthodoxy, rather than respond to it with real evidence and reasoning, are demonstrating a lack of confidence that Darwinism has evolved sufficient backbone to stand up to criticisms. Science is supposed to be freewheeling and open to new ideas, NOT an academy that pronounces Eternal Truths which cannot be criticized.

The National Center for Science Education and National Academy of Sciences are responding to the criticism of Darwinism from scientists in the way that Cardinal Belarmine responded to Galileo. The fact that Darwinists are asking judges (who have no special qualifications to evaluate scientific evidence, and many of whom are bent on eliminating all reference to God from public property) to suppress speech by school boards that even mentions the possibility that Darwin might be wrong, is contrary to the entire spirit of the scientific enterprise. The fact that some elected officials publicly doubt Darwinism because of their belief in a Creator is no more deserving of censorship than Richard Dawkins support for Darwinism because he is an atheist. In both cases, individual opinions about religious questions are in play.

In fact, when religious beliefs are used to support Darwinism, they are given free play in public schools. Kenneth Miller is a biologist whose textbook was the focus of controversy in the Cobb County case, where the school board added a disclaimer sticker pointing out that evolution is "a theory." In fact, Miller has said the same thing in his own writings, such as Finding Darwin's God. Miller is also an active Catholic who believes that God ultimately created the universe at the Big Bang, including the laws that allow life to arise. Miller's religious beliefs were highlighted a few years ago in a four-part PBS series on Evolution, with a companion book, that is intended for use in public schools. The series also highlight's Darwin's atheism as being partly a reaction to the death of one of his daughters as a young child. If opinions on religious subjects disqualify a person from talking about Darwinism, as Judge Jones in the Dover PA case announces, then Darwin's own words must be eliminated, since he was certainly promoting a specific religius viewpoint by publishing his theory.

I am personally offended when anyone in government--whether a school board, or Senator Buttars, or a Federal judge, whose undergraduate degree is more likely in English literature than science--proposes to suppress the speech of others. If anything offends the First Amendment, that does. Science education should be open to discussion, where each participant can make an assessment of which theories are more solidly based in reality than others. Teachers should not be privileged to suppress student speech, and Principals and school boards should not be privileged to suppress teacher speech. Let the theories and their critics hash it out, and let the fittest survive.

The most fundamental principle of all science is that, at any given time, we only know approximations of the truth. Those scientists who are outspokenly atheists should be especially wary of pronouncing that they have a perfect theory that must not be criticized, since according to them, the only way we can know things is through human observation and human reasoning, and since those abilities have developed through the random processes of mutation and natural selection, there is no inherent guarantee that they actually produce truth. The constant assertion that a majority of biologists support Darwinism does not have any value, in a Darwinian contest, because by definition ALL new features of living organisms replaced former dominant features. Rabid Darwinian Richard Dawkins has extended Darwinism to the evolution of human concepts and beliefs, so he (if he were logical rather than egotistical) should be the first person to admit that Darwinism itself, as an evolved human idea, does not have any special claim to our obeisance, but must fight it out in a survival of the fittest fashion with all challengers. The truth is that Dawkins and many other advocates of the notion that Darwinism eliminates the need for belief in God are clinging to Darwinism because without it, they would be forced to acknowledge that some superior intelligence was a contributing cause of the mind-boggling integration and adaptation of living things.

A much more worthwhile bill would (1) direct the educational establishment to include a selection of

1/05/2006 2:39 PM  
Anonymous Rhonda Millett said...

In my experience (mother of 6 children) I have found that children tend to see things as absolutes and can misunderstand. A case in point–this Christmas while shopping with my 16-year-old daughter I said “Merry Christmas” to a store clerk. She told me I couldn’t say that anymore, it was illegal and might offend someone. I tried to explain to her that as a shopper I had freedom of speech, etc. I am not sure that she really believed me. After all, at school she was taught differently, or so she thought.

There will be great value in teaching more than one theory of the origin of life. Teaching two scientific theories such as the primeval-soup theory and the inorganic mineral theory will show that science has not absolutely discovered the origin of life. It will show that these theories are a tool to be used and not “right” while parents are “wrong.”

1/05/2006 4:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please, Rhonda, do not suggest to this blog that your 16 year old daughter was taught that saying Merry X-Mas is now illegal. If at 16, your daughter is so gullible to believe such a thing, then I think you have made the case for keeping intelligent design and similar unsupportable "theories" out of the public school system.

Graduate Farmdog

1/05/2006 6:15 PM  
Anonymous Rhonda Millett said...

Anonymous:

Your response probably doesn't deserve an answer, but I did NOT say what you said. Please re-read my comments.

The primeval-soup theory and the inorganic mineral theory are both valid and accepted scientific theories on the origin of life. The primeval-soup theory was in my high school biology book. The inorganic mineral theory is more recent, but many scientists accept it.

I knew it was risky to mention my daughter, but it didn't deserve this ridicule. Don't any of your children misunderstand anything they are taught at school?

1/05/2006 6:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rhonda:

Grad. Farm. is right on - you did suggest that your daughter learmed at school that stating Merry Christmas, at least to a store clerk, is now illegal. Perhaps you are the one that needs to do the reread. More to the point, I think that if you were to review your high school bio book you will find that the primeval-soup and inorganic mineral soup theories are, indeed, theories on the origin of life; evolution, on the other hand, only describes how life, once originated, evolves. But that is ok - over half the proponents of intelligent design make the same mistake, over and again.

JRF

1/05/2006 7:23 PM  
Blogger Evolution Ogre said...

It does not matter what Rhonda's daughter was right or wrong about. The fact is that there is a huge difference between a science class discussing alternative scientific hypotheses and openly acknowledging unresolved questions and a science class introducing unsupported, unscientific ideas as though an unresolved question is evidence for supernatural intervention. There is nothing wrong with a science teacher saying that there are multiple scientific ideas for how something occurred if this is actually the case. However, it is abominable to present a sham of an idea like Intelligent Design as though it were actually a disputed scientific hypothesis.

Several people have mentioned that our students should learn what the controversy is all about. I completely agree. In addition to teaching tested and established scientific concepts, our children should be taught that the religious right is constantly trying to subvert their constitutional protection in order to undermine the quality of their education. Our students should learn how well funded groups of non-scientists like the Eagle Forum will try to control what they learn in a science classroom, no matter how scientifically worthless their agenda is. Our students should learn that their education is being used for the political goals of people for whom ignorance and intolerance motivate an incessant desire to censor opposing viewpoints through deception and manipulation, which is exactly what the controversy is about. It has nothing to do with two scientific ideas competing in an atmosphere of academic integrity to see which one crosses the finish line first by being more accurate. It is a case of a manufactured pile of buzz words being forced into the limelight by non-scientists who can't stand the idea that their religious beliefs are not fundamentally true.

1/05/2006 8:02 PM  
Anonymous Rhonda Millett said...

For Graduate Farmdog and JRF:

Evidently I need to restate my point again--my daughter was not taught that it was illegal, she just misunderstood what the teacher was teaching. Children often do! This was my main point! If you got out of it that I was suggesting that her teacher taught that--you need to re-read my original post.

JRF:
This bill is about the origin of life. My high school biology book taught about the origin of life as the first thing under the heading evolution. My encyclopedia discusses the origin of life under the heading evolution. I don't think it is just the proponents of intelligent design that associate origin of life theories with evolution.

1/05/2006 9:33 PM  
Blogger Vincent Newmeyer said...

Thanks for the invitation to post even more support for an open view of our origins, Nephi.

The Concept of a Creator Must not be Dismissed in our Classrooms:
Logic Calls for It, Reason and Experience Demand It!

Who can teach biology without mentioning the principles of chemistry? How can chemistry be taught in the absence of physics? How can any of those subjects be taught without understanding the history of scientific discovery? There is not an educational discipline that can be fully understood without touching upon the ideas or principles found in another discipline! There is no justice to truth when we ignore a part of the sphere of knowledge! All learning is interrelated at some level. Some disciplines are highly dependant on at least the recognition of another. How can we with justice study the origins of life without mentioning the possibility of an intelligent designer? Not all truths are testable by the scientific method; yet to refuse to acknowledge in the least degree their possible existence is sure to lead to disaster.

A number of the opponents of Chris Buttars and his bill have quoted from, and relied heavily upon, the Kitzmiller vs. Dover Area School District court "OPINION" as a justification for their opposition to intelligent design being mentioned in public school. On page 64 of the court opinion are encapsulated the three issues that are used to argue the Kitzmiller court decision. The central point of the courts arguments and the one point in which the other arguments are hung either directly or indirectly are (quote from the court opinion p. 64) "ID (Intelligent Design) violates the centuries-old ground rules of science by invoking and permitting supernatural causation". How is the search for truth served if, by convention, we rule out some of the possible answers? Man can make all the "Ground Rules" he wants, to exclude the discussion of and recognition of a set of facts, but it will have no bearing on truth.

Websters's New World Dictionary defines Supernatural as:
1) existing or occurring outside the normal experience or knowledge of man; not explainable by the known forces or laws of nature; specif., of, involving, or attributed to God or a god.

I submit that there are causes and effects that do exist and occur outside of man's knowledge or framework of chemistry, physics, and biology, and are not explainable by the known forces or laws of nature. I also here demonstrate that "God Disbelieving" evolutionists or physicists or chemists also hold to a supernatural belief, for I have never heard mention from these groups of an ultimate origin of the proposed "Big Bang". That "Big Bang" is claimed by many scientists to have been the cause, or event, that brought about the existence of the universe. Additionally, should some postulate arise as to the origin of a "Big Bang", I cannot conceive of a process by which such a postulate could be tested with the scientific method. This stands to reason, as by the "Big Bang" definition there was no existence of time space or matter before that event. What would they test? Is this not supernatural?

On page 49 of the Dover Area court decision it is said that

introducing ID necessarily invites religion into the science classroom as it sets up what will be perceived by students as a "God-friendly" science, the one that explicitly mentions an intelligent designer, and that the "other science," evolution, takes no position on religion.

This is a patently false statement, as one of the "Ground Rules" for their flavor of "evolution science" states that they cannot permit a supernatural causation! Quite the contrary: it introduces the belief system, or religion, of no God, which is the religion of secular humanism. The most reprehensible fact of all of this is that we find people who seek to establish this belief system, religion, or way of thinking, by the force of government.

Also, we find on page 64 of the Dover area court opinion a self-admission of the court that "ID arguments may be true, a proposition on which the Court takes no position". How will truth be served if we teach our youth to walk in such ignorance! Strict adherence to such arbitrary, God-expelling, "Ground Rules" may produce many theories and postulates, but will provide no guarantee of discovering truth!

We can sanitize the textbooks from any mention or inference of God and religion. We can subject our children to a godless education but we cannot avoid the accompanying demoralizing results.

George Washington said in his farewell address:

Of all the disposition which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness . . . And let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion . . . . [R]eason and experience both, forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principles. 'Tis substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government.

George Washington and other founders of our nation were some of the first champions of the principle of the separation of church and state in order to prohibit a state religion; however, they never intended to mean the absence of a religious ideas and principles to the philosophy and foundation of our nation.

Buttars is doing the right thing - run for the goal Senator Buttars - moral duty compels us to the contest.

Vincent Newmeyer

1/05/2006 11:25 PM  
Blogger ItsEasyToBeAnonymous! said...

I have found it EXTREMELY interesting that MOST of the SUPPORTERS of Senator Buttars bill have had the courage to identify themselves . . .

While the OPPONENTS are mostly Anonymous or using AKAs.

HMMMMM

1/06/2006 9:09 AM  
Blogger didymus said...

ItsEasyToBeAnonymous! said...
I have found it EXTREMELY interesting that MOST of the SUPPORTERS of Senator Buttars bill have had the courage to identify themselves . . .

While the OPPONENTS are mostly Anonymous or using AKAs.


My name is Thomas Edwin Rasmussen, and I oppose this Bill. It's nice to meet you ItsEasyToBeAnonymous! :)

1/06/2006 9:36 AM  
Blogger Nephi said...

Thank you Vince for the update, but you are still dodging a fundamental question being posed to the supporters of ID: is it possible to identify a single positive, tangible piece of evidence to support ID or creationism? I submit that it is not possible.

I appreciate your desire to have our children educated about God, creationism, the supernatural, etc. Indeed, I have my own personal beliefs concerning these subjects, and my beliefs - surpise, surprise - are not based on hard and fast atheistic concepts (agnostic, perhaps, but not atheistic). Regardless, the task of of teaching these subjects to public school-age students falls upon you, the parent, or mainstream religion, but not upon the public schools! If your religion is unable to accomplish this task, then fix your religion, not the public school system.

And by-the-by, the Dover opinion does not provide justification for anything, as you suggest; rather, the opinion provides a succinct and well-reasoned summary of the many current justifications (and there are many) for keeping ID out of the public school system. Reread the opinion with an open mind.

1/06/2006 12:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rhonda, I apologize for having mischaracterized or misunderstood the comment re your daughter being taught - or herself misunderstanding what was being taught - at her school re "Merry Christmas" vs. "Happy Holidays." My point was, however, if a child might misunderstand a teachers' position re the wisdom, correctness or even legality of using one holiday greeting vs. another - a most simple concept having religios overtones - then pray tell the confusion that will result once teachers are given leave to opine, comment or teach about the origins of life! The slope is simply too slipery to even being traversing. As Nephi responded to Vince, if mainstream religion is not up to the task of explaining its views concerning the origins of life, or pointing out that there is more to evolution than is being taught in public schools, then fix mainstream religion. But for goodness sakes, leave religion out of the public schools; it doesn't belong there and should not be allowed in the back door through bills such as Chris Buttars'.

JRF

1/06/2006 4:47 PM  
Anonymous JimRobinson said...

I am a teacher who supports ID and having it taught somewhere (maybe as an introduction to an evolution unit) in class, but I don't like having Buttars as a spokesperson. He says so many foot-in-the-mouth things that he needs to evolve to something else.

We do have to consider a few things--which ID or creation theory will be taught--will it be a general version a "Mormon" version, or so on? In my Sunday school class, all 10 of us had 10 different theories of creation.

Does Mr. Buttars REALLY have that trust in big government to teach a faith-based concept or is this for "other" purposes or motives? My mother and father convinced me of creationism in just a few minutes and were perfectly capable of teaching me about it. In learning evolution, I actually strengthened my belief in ID.

What are some perspectives we can gain from BYU teaching evolution?

Can we count the amount of times Mr. Buttars has had his name in the papers?

Some say ID is not faith or religion based. That denies the deity factor in creation, for we DO assume that that "higher power" is God.

1/09/2006 7:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe Buttars' bill needs to be expanded. The origins of life are not the only area of science where one theory is taught and alternative theories are ignored in our science classrooms. For example, Einsteinian Gravitationalists tell us that due to general relativity, Newton's ideas about gravity are wrong. Why would these secular relativists attack a God-fearing scientist like Newton? After all, the Theory of Gravity is just a theory, and not all scientists agree.

We should also teach alternatives to the Germ Theory of Disease, like Spontaneous Generation.

I believe Geocentrism has already been mentioned, but come on! Who has been into space to verify that the Earth actually revolves around the Sun? Some scientists disagree, and we should not endorse one viewpoint over another.

Many scientists disagree with the given age of the earth, and the Bible suggests that it is around 6,000 years old, not 4 billion. Why can't this bill address that controversy, too? Geologists are not in agreement.

Number Theory! It's only a theory! There is certainly disagreement within the field as to the effectiveness of the Quadratic Field Sieve vs. Elliptical Curve sieves when factoring large primes. We must ensure that no student is taught that scientific consensus exists on the question of 1 + 1.

I just don't understand how Sen. Buttars can be so short-sighted to ignore all the other scientific controversies. He does our children a disservice by limiting this bill to the origins of life. Please, please, expand it to cover all of science!

1/10/2006 12:44 AM  
Anonymous The Senate Site said...

Why stop with science? Maybe the discussion on the Quadratic Field Sieve vs. Elliptical Curve sieves could shed more light on the budget and tax reform.

1/10/2006 6:24 PM  
Anonymous Rhonda Millett said...

JRF:
Thank you for your apology. I'm sorry that I was too sensitive about what I had written. You are right that there is always something a child could misunderstand, however I think the main problem in my daughter's case was the lack of time spent on the subject. It was just mentioned in passing.

I think there is some confusion among everyone posting as to what "evolution" means, what "intelligent design" means, etc. I have done a lot of research and there are a lot of definitions of "evolution." It makes it difficult to teach the subject when science hasn't clearly defined what it is, especially as it pertains to the origin of life. Many of the definitions that I have read leave NO room for God or any other intervention in the process. I believe the people promoting these definitions are also promoting a religious concept, not science.

"Intelligent design" seems to be defined among most posters here as religion. I define "intelligent design" as simply some intervention by an intelligence to direct the change or evolution of life. This would apply to us as genetic engineers as well as life itself. I believe all life has intelligence. They would have to to decode their DNA.

There is scientific evidence for directed mutation and other evidences of intelligent design. They are in the scientific, peer-reviewed journals. I would love to see these taught in our public school system besides what is being taught. This is NOT teaching a specific religious concept, but is teaching science.

1/11/2006 2:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps you will enlighten us, Rhonda, on the asserted "scientific evidence." What is the evidence and where can we look - e.g., which peer reviewed journal - to learn about it?

Graduate Farmdog

1/14/2006 7:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with the last post. It is indeed remarkable the number of folks who refer to the existence of "scientific evidence" of intelligent design, but refuse to identify such evidence. Not one post in this entire blog actually identifies this so-called evidence, or identifies a single shred of evidence to support intelligent design. The bill could, and should, fail on this basis alone!

1/15/2006 6:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank goodness people want intelligent design taught in the classroom. It's the first step to proving that the christian god cannot exist. The cornerstone to the ID arguments is the concept of irreducible complexity (that our biological systems are so complex there is no way for them to have evolved without an outside "Intelligent Designer")If ID is belived it's necessary to ask the question "Who created the creator?" if we are so complex we couldn't exist without being created, then the creator must be at least as equally complex. In christian mythology there is only one god, so how does all this intelligent design garbage work with christianity?

1/16/2006 12:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Silly anonymous. Don't you realize that the creator that created us has existed for eternity? That undeniable fact obviates the need for intelligence upon intelligence, and to the extent it does not, then the details will certainly be explained to us in the afterlife, NOT!

Graduate Farmdog

1/16/2006 7:52 PM  
Anonymous Nathan Daniels said...

I find it interresting that in none of this discussion does anyone approach the ethical problems with this bill. If your child tells you he was at a friends house watching TV and that the parents were there - without telling you he was watching the playboy channel while the parents were outside doing yardwork - he has just told what is called a lie of omission.

Sen Buttars bill specifically leaves out any references to religion, ID, creationism, or any other words or phrases that would blatently spark debates on the 1st ammendment Establishment clause. However, the only other competing theories on the origin of life all involve a basis in established religious belief, or at least the existance of some supernatural "Intelligent Designer" who just made things happen. Just because the bill doesn't specifically mention them does not mean that the bill is specifically NOT about them.

As an elected leader of our state, sworn into office under the following oath:

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support, obey and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of this State, and that I will discharge the duties of my office with fidelity."

Sen Buttars grossly fails as a moral leader by resorting to a lie of omission to push his personal beliefs on all the citizens of this state regardless of whether they share them or not. Not to mention his lack of fidelity to the constitution of the United States by trying to slip religious agendas into our state run classrooms under the guise of science.

It's not whether you believe in Evolution, ID, or any other answer to how we came to be. It's a simple matter of upholding the values that our country was founded upon. If you want to teach competing "theories", scientific or otherwise, then stand on a street corner and share them with everyone. Our constitution protects your right to do that. If you want your child to be able to attend a state run public school without your tax dollars supporting religious beliefs you don't share, then the Constitution protects that to. Don't violate that. And certainly don't sacrifice your integrity by resorting to lies of omission to do so.

1/24/2006 5:04 PM  
Anonymous Karl Priest said...

 Following are facts extreme evolutionists don't want the public to know.  
1.  I am a recently retired public middle school mathematics teacher in West Virginia with over 30 years experience as an educator including administration.
 
For the last five years of my full-time career, with the full knowledge of State, County, and ACLU officials, I demonstrated to my students that mathematics proves beyond the shadow of doubt that evolutionism is nonsense.  The students saw that the evidence clearly shows that every item associated with humans, animals and plants are Intelligent Designs and Intelligent Design is science because it is observable by billions of people trillions of times, always has been, always will be. I always let them figure it out for themselves and allowed them to believe what they chose, but at least they were exposed to the scientific facts that extremists want to censor from the minds of public school students.   After the lesson a student from an atheist family said, "Evolution is silly."
 
2.  Currently, as a substitute teacher, I have contact with more public school students than ever and take advantage of every opportunity to provide them with the facts described above.
 
3.   Evolutionists are bluffing when they say their beliefs are scientific.  Be sure to look at the list of evolutionists who refuse the debate challenge from my friend Dr. Joseph Mastropaolo.  See the list at  http://www.csulb.edu/~jmastrop/.  Click on the Life Science Prize at the bottom.
 
Sincerely,
 
Karl Priest
141 Karmel Lane
Poca, WV
25159
304-769-0217

1/28/2006 10:33 AM  
Anonymous Karl Priest said...

Following are facts extreme evolutionists don't want the public to know.

1. I am a recently retired public middle school mathematics teacher in West Virginia with over 30 years experience as an educator including administration.

For the last five years of my full-time career, with the full knowledge of State, County, and ACLU officials, I demonstrated to my students that mathematics proves beyond the shadow of doubt that evolutionism is nonsense. The students saw that the evidence clearly shows that every item associated with humans, animals and plants are Intelligent Designs and Intelligent Design is science because it is observable by billions of people trillions of times, always has been, always will be. I always let them figure it out for themselves and allowed them to believe what they chose, but at least they were exposed to the scientific facts that extremists want to censor from the minds of public school students. After the lesson a student from an atheist family said, "Evolution is silly."

2. Currently, as a substitute teacher, I have contact with more public school students than ever and take advantage of every opportunity to provide them with the facts described above.

3. Evolutionists are bluffing when they say their beliefs are scientific. Be sure to look at the list of evolutionists who refuse the debate challenge from my friend Dr. Joseph Mastropaolo. See the list at http://www.csulb.edu/~jmastrop/. Click on the Life Science Prize at the bottom.

Karl Priest
kcpriest@aol.com

1/28/2006 7:26 PM  
Blogger Nephi said...

Oh my heck! Here we go again ... an apparent detractor of evolution (and presumably a supporter of Buttars' bill or similar bills) providing conclusive conclusions without a single shred of evidence in support. Please, Mr. Priest, if you can convince middle school students that evolution is nonsense, then certainly you can provide us here in Utah with the bases of your analysis. Do not insult supporters of evolution with baseless conclusions. Where is the beef (any beef)?

1/29/2006 5:31 PM  
Anonymous Kim a very concerned student of West Hills Middle School said...

I want to thank Chris Butters for standing up for all of us who do believe in God and do what to have that truth taught in public schools. I go to a public school and I wish that I could have the same rights as the atheists by having my beliefs also taught. I also want to say something to Governor Huntsman, I DO believe Butters is fighting for a good cause, if I am not mistaken you are Mormon. I believe that you have a certain obligation to your church and to your God to stand up for the things that are in this bill. As a Mormon, I believe that you are suppose to take this opportunity and try to help our Great state of Utah find some truth, some light in the dark world of Science!

1/31/2006 9:43 PM  
Blogger didymus said...

Kim (from West Hills Middle School),

I go to church every Sunday to worship God. Thank you for calling me an atheist.

And God said, Let there be evolution...

2/01/2006 3:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kim you need to understand the LDS church's opnion on evolution.
Leave science class for science and religion class for religion.
And please never make blanket statements for all members of your faith.
here it is:



“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, basing its belief on divine revelation, ancient and modern, declares man to be the direct and lineal offspring of Deity. . . . Man is the child of God, formed in the divine image and endowed with divine attributes .”

The scriptures tell why man was created, but they do not tell how, though the Lord has promised that he will tell that when he comes again (D&C 101:32-33). In 1931, the First Presidency said:

Upon the fundamental doctrines of the Church we are all agreed. Our mission is to bear the message of the restored gospel to the world. Leave geology, biology, archaeology, and anthropology, no one of which has to do with the salvation of the souls of mankind, to scientific research, while we magnify our calling in the realm of the Church.

2/02/2006 1:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like what Henry Eyring wrote, in Reflections of a Scientist:

"I know that God created the universe, and my faith doesn't hinge on the detailed mechanisms he used to do it."

Thank you for being involved and concerned, Kim. You're on the right track - keep thinking.

2/02/2006 8:05 PM  
Anonymous Truthseeker said...

When are all of you people going to learn that science and spirituality are two different things? If science is land, then spirituality is the water that feeds it! Embrace it!

2/18/2006 7:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find it interesting, that people think Intelligent Design has to be supernatural in effect. Evolution says that the universe is old beyond our understanding... if it were truely that old, in the multitude of stars and planets in the universe there must be some other intelligent life in existance. If so, how can we know with any certainty that we were not created by another species and placed on this planet. Intelligent Design is supposedly rejected on the basis that you can't rule on supernatural events, but the theory of a science beyond our understanding isn't supernatural.

7/01/2006 1:53 PM  
Anonymous reasonable said...

The problem with this whole debate is that people are missing the point. The issue is not what is appropriate to teach or even what is true. The question is what is appropriate to teach in SCIENCE class. Science is a method of understanding the world by using the SCIENTIFIC METHOD. The following link has a nice, easy to comprehend definition of the scientific method, but you'll have to read it all.

http://phyun5.ucr.edu/~wudka/Physics7/Notes_www/node5.html

If something cannot be explained using this method it is not science. Even scientists admit it may still be true, but it is not science, so teach it somewhere else. There is also a nice explanation for the term "theory". at this site. Many of you don't understand what it means either. It is as inappropriate to look to science for evidence of your religious beliefs as it is to try to disproove them using science. They are different tools for understanding the world. Do with them what you wish, but don't confuse them.

8/22/2006 6:56 PM  

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