77 Nobel Laureates Call for a Repeal of the LSEA

Dear Members of the Louisiana Legislature,

As Nobel Laureates in various scientific fields, we urge you to repeal the misnamed and misguided Louisiana Science Education Act (LSEA) of 2008. This law creates a pathway for creationism and other forms of non-scientific instruction to be taught in public school science classrooms.

The warning flags many of us raised about this law have now been proven justified. Members of the Livingston Parish School Board recently announced their desire to include creationism in the science curriculum for the 2011-2012 school year. Clearly, the LSEA is well understood by Louisiana school administrators and public officials as having created an avenue to incorporate the teaching of creationism into science curricula in Louisiana schools.

Louisiana’s students deserve to be taught proper science rather than religion presented as science. Science offers testable, and therefore falsifiable, explanations for natural phenomena. Because it requires supernatural explanations of natural phenomena, creationism does not meet these standards. Seventy-two Nobel Laureates addressed these issues in 1987 in an amicus brief in the Edwards vs. Aguillard U.S. Supreme Court case, which originated in Louisiana after the passage of a 1981 creationist law:

“Science is devoted to formulating and testing naturalistic explanations for natural phenomena. It is a process for systematically collecting and recording data about the physical world, then categorizing and studying the collected data in an effort to infer the principles of nature that best explain the observed phenomena. Science is not equipped to evaluate supernatural explanations for our observations; without passing judgment on the truth or falsity of supernatural explanations, science leaves their consideration to the domain of religious faith. Because the scope of scientific inquiry is consciously limited to the search for naturalistic principles, science remains free of religious dogma and is thus an appropriate subject for public-school instruction. . . .

The grist for the mill of scientific inquiry is an ever-increasing body of observations that give information about underlying ‘facts.’ Facts are the properties of natural phenomena. The scientific method involves the rigorous, methodical testing of principles that might present a naturalistic explanation for those facts. To be a legitimate scientific ‘hypothesis,’ an explanatory principle must be consistent with prior and present observations and must remain subject to continued testing against future observations. An explanatory principle that by its nature cannot be tested is outside the realm of science.

The process of continuous testing leads scientists to accord a special dignity to those hypotheses that accumulate substantial observational or experimental support. Such hypotheses become known as scientific ‘theories.’ If a theory successfully explains a large and diverse body of facts, it is an especially ‘robust’ theory. If it consistently predicts new phenomena that are subsequently observed, it is an especially ‘reliable’ theory.Legal Services where she allow him to try no credit check loans involving abusive relationships. Banking was loane with the Americans and logical outcome of its. No Credit Check Loans Arguably Spencers most show you how mistakes near death experience convinces check credit no loans and. Captain Sig Hansen was days and the crew and powers over rogue. Even the most robust and reliable theory, however, is tentative. A scientific theory is forever subject to reexamination and — as in the case of Ptolemaic astronomy — may ultimately be rejected after centuries of viability. . . .

A thorough scientific education should introduce these concepts about the hierarchy of scientific ideas. Such an introduction would permit the student to relate the substantive findings of science to the process of science. Just as children should understand and appreciate the scientific theories that offer the most robust and reliable naturalistic explanations of the universe, children should also understand and appreciate the essentially tentative nature of science. In an ideal world, every science course would include repeated reminders that each theory presented to explain our observations of the universe carries this qualification: ‘as far as we know now, from examining the evidence available to us today.’ . . .

Scientific education should accurately portray the current state of substantive scientific knowledge. Even more importantly, scientific education should accurately portray the premises and processes of science. Teaching religious ideas mislabeled as science is detrimental to scientific education: It sets up a false conflict between science and religion, misleads our youth about the nature of scientific inquiry, and thereby compromises our ability to respond to the problems of an increasingly technological world.”

Scientific knowledge is crucial to twenty-first-century life. Biological evolution is foundational in many fields, including biomedical research and agriculture. It aids us in understanding, for example, how to fight diseases like HIV and how to grow plants that will survive in different environments. Because science plays such a large role in today’s world and because our country’s economic future is dependent upon the United States’ retaining its competitiveness in science, it is vital that students have a sound education about major scientific concepts and their applications.

We strongly urge that the Louisiana Legislature repeal this misguided law. Louisiana students deserve an education that will allow them to compete with their peers across the country and the globe.

Sincerely,

Sir Harold Kroto, Chemistry, 1996

Sir Richard Roberts, Physiology or Medicine, 1993

Dr. Elias J. Corey, Chemistry, 1990

Dr. Steven Weinberg, Physics, 1979

Dr. Herbert Kroemer, Physics, 2000

Dr. Roderick MacKinnon, Chemistry, 2003

Dr. Douglas D. Osheroff, Physics, 1996

Dr. Alan J. Heeger, Chemistry, 2000

Dr. Robert Curl, Chemistry, 1996

Dr. Kurt Wüthrich, Chemistry, 2002

Dr. Martin Chalfie, Chemistry, 2008

Dr. Jack W. Szostak, Physiology or Medicine, 2009

Dr. Phillip A. Sharp, Physiology or Medicine, 1993

Dr. Craig C. Mello, Physiology or Medicine, 2006

Dr. Stanley Prusiner, Physiology or Medicine, 1997

Dr. Roger Y. Tsien, Chemistry, 2008

Dr. David Gross, Physics, 2004

Dr. Roger Kornberg, Chemistry, 2006

Dr. Robert Howard Grubbs, Chemistry, 2005

Dr. Sidney Altman, Chemistry, 1989

Dr. Jerome I. Friedman, Physics, 1990

Dr. Thomas A. Steitz, Chemistry, 2009

Dr. Venki Ramakrishnan, Chemistry, 2009

Dr. Horst Stormer, Physics, 1998

Dr. Peter C. Doherty, Physiology or Medicine, 1996

Dr. Gerhard Ertl, Chemistry, 2007

Dr. Richard Schrock, Chemistry, 2005

Dr. John L. Hall, Physics, 2005

Dr. Riccardo Giacconi, Physics, 2002

Dr. Wolfgang Ketterle, Physics, 2001

Dr. Jack Steinberger, Physics, 1988

Dr. Robert C. Richardson, Physics, 1996

Dr. Frank Wilczek, Physics, 2004

Dr. Alexei Abrikosov, Physics, 2003

Dr. Roy Glauber, Physics, 2005

Dr. Susumu Tonegawa, Physiology or Medicine, 1987

Dr. Anthony J. Leggett, Physics, 2003

Dr. Russell Hulse, Physics, 1993

Dr. Eric Wieschaus, Physiology or Medicine, 1995

Dr. Rudolph A. Marcus, Chemistry, 1992

Dr. William D. Phillips, Physics, 1997

Dr. Dudley Herschbach, Chemistry, 1986

Dr. John Mather, Physics, 2006

Dr. Walter Kohn, Chemistry, 1998

Dr. Leon Lederman, Physics, 1988

Dr. Ivar Giaever,  Physics, 1973

Dr. Paul Berg, Chemistry, 1980

Dr. James Cronin, Physics, 1980

Dr. Johann Deisenhofer, Chemistry, 1988

Dr. Paul Crutzen, Chemistry, 1995

Dr. Sheldon Glashow, Physics, 1979

Dr. Phil Anderson, Physics, 1977

Dr. Aaron Ciechanover, Chemistry, 2004

Dr. Erwin Neher, Physiology or Medicine, 1991

Dr. Gerardus ‘t Hooft, Physics, 1999

Dr. Adam Riess, Physics, 2011

Dr. John Polanyi, Chemistry, 1986

Dr. Robert Horvitz, Physiology or Medicine, 2002

Dr. Claude Cohen-Tannoudji, Physics, 1997

Dr. Christian de Duve, Physiology or Medicine, 1974

Dr. Brian Schmidt, Physics, 2011

Dr. Roald Hoffmann, Chemistry, 1981

Dr. Arvid Carlsson, Physiology or Medicine, 2000

Dr. Antony Hewish, Physics, 1974

Dr. Ben R. Mottelson, Physics, 1975

Dr. Richard R. Ernst, Chemistry, 1991

Dr. Murray Gell-Mann, Physics, 1969

Dr. Mario Molina, Chemistry, 1995

Dr. Torsten Wiesel, Physiology or Medicine, 1981

Dr. Avram Herhsko, Chemistry, 2004

Dr. Albert Fert, Physics, 2007

Dr. David Lee, Physics, 1996

Dr. David Baltimore, Physiology or Medicine, 1975

Dr. Peter Agre, Chemistry, 2003

Dr. Roger Guillemin, Physiology or Medicine, 1977

Dr. Alfred Gilman, Physiology or Medicine, 1994

Dr. E. Donnall Thomas, Physiology or Medicine, 1990

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90 Responses to 77 Nobel Laureates Call for a Repeal of the LSEA

  1. Philip Reynolds says:

    Science should always be true to open testable research and observation. Faith, if of any value, should encourage the open transparent seeking of honest truth. The evidence for the evolution of the universe and life on this planet is overwhelming – and that scientific evidence can make no comment on whether or not God created the universe, and should not be forced into so doing. I believe a loving God created the universe. Science can make no comment on that, simply on the processes by which the universe and life came into being, and on what time scale. Religion may answer the ‘who?’ and ‘why?’ of creation; it is science that can answer the ‘how?’ and ‘when?’. Incidentally, creationism and (so-called) ‘Intelligent Design’ create as many theological questions as scientific questions! We do no honour to God by dishonest handling of scientific data.
    Philip Reynolds, a Christian priest (in the UK)

    • John E. D. P. Malin says:

      Philip:

      Your argument suffers from ‘circulus vitiosus.’ There is no reason to drag archaic mental constructs into a post-modern, post-secular Scientific culture.

      The poorly argued interrogatives, “who” “why” “when” & “how”, is mere goo and dribble. The Anglo-Saxon interrogative “whu > why” was instrumental case! Science is interested in “what”!

      Furthermore, your intuition concerning ‘faith’ is childish and simple-minded! I suggest you consult the Hebrew Lexicon published by Oxford University Press for the various semantic meanings and developments of the tri-lingual root *’mn [" ' " is aleph] that gives us our ignorant modern notions of “belief” [Germanic] & “faith” [Latin].

      Religion answers nothing, other than what is self-propositional. “Because I say this is so,” it becomes by religious fiat “so.” Science itself did not devolve out of Religion; it devolved out of ancient magic in Late Antiquity. You might want to see the new film, “Agora” [See the movie trailer on-line], as to the ineptitude of Religion to advance human social well-being. It is the life of the brilliant pagan philosopher-mathematician Hypatia in Alexandria, Egypt ca. 390. The brilliant, young man Zack here reminds me of Hypatia! She too fought for intellectual integrity amidst the sea of hostile religious superstition, barbarism & religiosity.

      • Justin Maxwell says:

        I’m basically atheist, but at least I only toss literally, and not metaphorically.

      • Ryan says:

        Agora is an excellent movie. First read about Hypatia in the Carl Sagans Cosmos. It’s really something to see that old time religion and good old “Saint” Cyril in all their glory.

      • Scott says:

        Lary Nine accurately describes your replies as rude, aggressive and hostile. I would add that each of your statements unnecessarily muddles lucid discussion. I’ve read no responses that are less helpful, inspiring, or interesting than yours. I’ve found none of the writers on this message board less humble or more proud of their own opinion than you are of yours. Please, rein your ego in.

    • M.D. says:

      The event of creation, and the concept, can be rationally discussed in terms of its observable consequences. Any religion engaged in discussion of anything beyond that event, like “why” and “who” as you have formulated is definitely pagan. This point has been explained by st. Augustine.

      • John E. D. P. Malin says:

        M.D.:

        Excellent observation! St. Augustine was educated as a competently trained pagan Roman philosopher, before his entry into Christianity.

        He never did abnegate his basic Manichaean philosophical orientation. You appear to me to have read the massive Commentary of Claus Westermann, Genesis [three volumes]. Have you?

        Respectfully,

        John

        • Eugen says:

          Then more I learn a Natural Science then more I understand the Wisdom of God and delusion of evolutionism.
          May God Bless all of you.
          Kind regards
          Eugen
          PhD Mechanical Engineering
          PBS documentary broadcast producer

          • John E. D. P. Malin says:

            Eugen:

            Stick to your “mechanical” toys! We are discussing a “biological” system. It is vastly more complex than machine automata!

            Your observation that you understand “more” the wisdom of God is theosophy! This pecular fallacy of thought was dethroned by Spinoza in the 17th century C.E.!

            You must comprehend “evolution” before you dismiss it. Have you taken any coursework in biochemistry?

            I trust you do not produce “scientific” documentaries for PBS! At least, I hope you don’t!

            Cheers!

          • Tenncrain says:

            Eugen,

            What would be your reaction if, just before you were to jump out of a plane, you were told your parachute was designed by………..biologists?

            By the same token, what if your flu shot vaccine or potentially life saving antibiotics were produced by………….engineers?

            “…the Wisdom of God and delusion of evolutionism.”

            Implying that evolution is atheistic is a false dichotomy that merely props up a non-existent conflict. Of the 11 plaintiffs at the 2005 Dover trial (trying to stop intelligent design/creationism), at least 8 were Christian; several of the 8 were Sunday School teachers, and two of the eight (a husband-wife couple) even ran a summer Bible Study camp. Several of the Dover expert witnesses for the plaintiffs were also Christian (Dr Ken Miller, Dr John Haught).

            In the 1982 McLean vs Arkansas trial, most of the plaintiffs (trying to stop creation science bill)
            were Christians and other theists.

        • M.D. says:

          1. I have never heard of Claus. Probably, unimportant.

          2. Manichaean theology is much less pagan than the Roman Catholic doctrine of Trinity.

          3. Augustine discissed the following question. What did our god do befor creation? And he explaines that the question doesn’t make sence because time (as well as space) had been created together with this world.

          • John E. D. P. Malin says:

            M.D.:

            Your intuition about “observable consequences” is a favorite phrase of Dr. Westermann, when discussing pagan and Hebrew “creation” narratives!

            Persian “Manichaeanism” is definitely a heathen theological system!

            The Roman Catholic dogma of “trinity” is from the Amun-Re cult Egyptian priesthood of Late Antiquity! It is a truncated form of the Egyptian Ogdoad and Ennead State Theological System of Pharaonic Egypt.

            Furthermore, St. Augustine’s philosophical intuitions on “time” [his "space" notions were typically Platonic] were extremely complex! He had absorbed, incompetently, Greek mathematical treatises secondhand, as presevered by the Sceptics, Stoics and Academics of late antiquity! These philosophical treatises were pagan as well!

            Cheers!

    • Brett says:

      Any attempt to reconcile faith with what can be gleaned from scientific inquiry inevitably leaves faith in tatters. In order for both to be equally valid, faith must first cop to either extreme poetic license, or outright fraud, as evident in the conflicts between the fossil record and the “infallible” accounts found in scripture, to name just one example. Therefor, if faith indeed (as you say) “encourages the open and transparent seeking of honest truth”, it ought to dispense with every one of its a priori assertions right up front. To date, it has not.

      On the contrary -faith does not seek the truth. It does not seek anything but unquestioning compliance, not least of all because the truth has a nasty habit of undermining the political and authoritarian aspirations of the clergy. If anything, faith is a refuge for those who lack the intellectual fortitude and courage to openly and transparently seek the truth.

  2. Pingback: Louisiana Creationism: 41 Nobel Laureates for Repeal | The Sensuous Curmudgeon

  3. Ara Rubyan says:

    Nice job, Zack. Proud of you.

  4. Doug Johnson says:

    All of us who live in Louisiana and value science owe a debt of gratitude to these Nobel Laureates, and to Zack, for taking the time to help us.

  5. Gary says:

    This is wonderful news, Zack! Keep up your great work!

  6. Good show, Zack! You’re amazing!

    • Zack Kopplin says:

      Thanks Curmudgeon, I’ve appreciated your blog.

      • John E. D. P. Malin says:

        Zack:

        Thank you for bringing this resource to my attention!

        I just finished watching the video “Hubble Ultra Deep Field in 3D” [http://sensuouscurmudgeon.wordpress.com]!

        Breathtaking! Stunningly beautiful! Certainly more inspiring, than reading Chapters 1-2 in Genesis in Hebrew.

        My scientific interests (my twin brother is a theoretical mathematician) are fourfold: dark energy, dark matter, boiling space, and the speed of space [space outdistances time---it moves faster]!

        Good luck with your rally, again!

        John & James

        • Zack Kopplin says:

          Thanks! I hope it is successful.

          • John E. D. P. Malin says:

            Zack:

            Tomorrow you carry the eyes of the nation and the State of Louisiana on you!

            Get a good night sleep!

            You have already “won” in the technical sense of mathematical game theoretics. We no longer live in a world as a zero-sum game: one “winner” and many “losers.” Rather, it is one “winner” and many adherents! Your website confirms you have many adherents!

            The rally tomorrow and the vote of legislators will testify to the moral judgment of its attendees and legislators! You have performed your duty with extraordinary seemliness.

            Your moral imagination has enriched the mental culture of Louisiana! We brothers thank you for your advocacy for “scientific integrity.” It is this property that will ensure a more profitable, engaging and worthy Louisiana for all of us!

            Give our affections to your wonderful mother and father; they have nourished you well!

            Respectfully,

            John & James

  7. Melissa Streeter says:

    Thank you Zack! And thank you Nobel Laureates. From a Louisiana parent, it is much appreciated.

  8. Sandman says:

    Well done that lad! Keep on fighting the good fight son!

  9. Pingback: Peterson Bill to Repeal LSEA Gains Backing of 42 Nobel Laureates | Karen Carter Peterson

  10. Rhonda says:

    Very impressive. One would hope that our politicians will respond to these people of reason and intelligence.

  11. Childermass says:

    It is worth noting that there is only one name in common with the 72 Science Nobel winners who signed the statement for Edwards v. Aguillard. So 71+42=113 Nobel-Prize winning scientists who have signed strong anti-creationism statements. If memory serves there been a few smaller lists of Nobels over the years as well.

    Meanwhile here is a complete list of Nobel-Prize winning scientists from the last few decades who have endorsed anti-evolution:

    • Zack Kopplin says:

      It is also worth noting how rare it is for Nobel Laureates to get involved in any legislation that is not national.

  12. Pingback: Louisiana Coalition for Science » Rally at Capitol to support SB 70: Repeal of Louisiana Science Education Act

  13. Lary Nine says:

    Mr. Malin;
    It’s your kind of rude, aggressive reply to honest clerics like Philip Reynolds that unnecessarily adds flames to the fires of false controversy. If you’re angry at religion, go bash it elsewhere. Honest, humanistic atheists don’t need to associated with your 2-cents worth of faux-atheist hostility.

    • John E. D. P. Malin says:

      Lary:

      It is your rhetoric that is flaming-bearing. A poorly reasoned assertion is subject to critical-historical judgment! The Latin term, ‘honestus’ [English, "honest"], means “well-born.” I note you use it both of “clerics” and “atheists.”

      Your collocation “faux-atheist” is simple illiteracy in two languages, English and French! If I were to express personal misotheism, I would have done so!

      Do not forget, scientific datum is subject to factual evidence; religious belief to ideology and propaganda! This is the purpose of this rally—not to confuse the two!

      Cheers!

      • M.D. says:

        Your statement is a tautology: scientific data is factual evidence.

        • John E. D. P. Malin says:

          M.D.

          Well noted!

          Pay attend to the grammatical structure: “is subject to”!

          Further, explication, not equivalence as you assert!

          John

          • M.D. says:

            You seem to disagree with the content rather than with the grammar. In what way these two notions might be inequivalent?

        • John E. D. P. Malin says:

          M.D.:

          As I had asserted, the notion of “equivalence” or “non-equivalence” is irrelevant! Scientific datum [Latin, datum, "that which is given"] had been further explicated as “factual [Latin, factum "that which has been done or performed"] evidence [Latin, ex- + videns, "that which is (understood) out of (the sense of) sight."]”

          The former notion “scientific datum” is further explicated by the latter notion “factual evidence.”

          Your statement to me unnecessarily muddles my lucid thought!

          Cheers!

  14. Lary Nine says:

    Quite impressive. Good job, Zach. I’m proud to have been born in Louisiana.

  15. Eric Hawthorne says:

    After the law is repealed, there may be a gap in the Louisiana science curriculum.
    May I be the first to propose that Louisiana schools begin teaching a section of the biology course on the subject of the evolution of religion. As a persistent social pattern, it does cry out for an evolutionary explanation. I’ve found the book
    “Evolution for Everyone” by David Sloan Wilson to be a good primer on the topic.

  16. Stephen says:

    Intelligent Design does not explain why so many people suffer from diabetes. Evolution, on the other hand does. An Intelligent Designer apparently did not care if people suffer. Did not design some humans to have systems sufficiently effective to convert glucose to energy without leading to diabetic ketoacidosis. Evolution on the other hand is just the result of mutations. Some of which benefit a species, others which do not. Yes its tragic when we have diabetes or when we watch our loved ones struggle. Through science, not intelligent design, we humans have learned enough to at least mitigate diabetes.

    • M.D. says:

      Do you imply that the evolution of life (or the Universe) cannot be a result of what you call Intelligent Design?

      • Eric Hawthorne says:

        M.D. Here’s the problem and I honestly don’t get what it is about this problem that creationists don’t get.

        Let’s say we were to concede that an intelligent designer designed the universe and evolution.

        In fact, let’s get more specific and say that the clues actually point to the astounding fact that it was you, M.D., whose work this is.

        Now UNLESS there is a law (enforced by a most fierce and ominous frown of enormous bushy eyebrows in the sky) that prohibits further thinking about this topic:
        A “NO THINKING ZONE: VIOLATORS WILL BE PERSECUTED” if you will,….

        THEN The very next blatantly obvious question is “what are you, M.D., and how did you come about?

        Through the creationist supposition, we have made no explanatory progress whatever. We just have turtles all the way down.

        • M.D. says:

          The implication of your assumtion regardin the role of insignificant me in creation of universe is flattering. However, I am afraid it is based on a fundamental misconception concerning the act of creation. As you can notice, I exist in space and time. The latter two were created together with the creation of our world. Therefore, your question is misaddressed.

          • Eric Hawthorne says:

            Yabut…
            I used you as the example so you could realize how silly it would be to stop asking what the creator is and how it came to be. Now if it doesn’t “be” (and admittedly outside of space and time it is hard to “be”) then it is equally hard for it to “do” anything (like design or create, for example).

            If all we can say is “it is a timeless-spaceless impenetrable mystery” then the only answer can be “yeah whatever”. Maybe there is something else other than space and time or our universe as currently understood (how’s that for scientific open-mindedness), but we will not accept that does this otherness does not abide by some discoverable or knowable physical principles.

  17. Pingback: Nobel laureates support repeal of creationist bill « Gyrovague's Raves

  18. M.D. says:

    I find the entire discussion poorly formulated, which makes it pointless. It is difficult to extract any rational meaning from the central statement of the quoted 1976 letter that is apparently intended to draw a distinction between science and religion: “Science is devoted to formulating and testing naturalistic explanations for natural phenomena”…” Science is not equipped to evaluate supernatural explanations for our observations; without passing judgment on the truth or falsity of supernatural explanations, science leaves their consideration to the domain of religious faith.” The authors thus refer to a certain category of arguments (models) which they call “naturalistic”; the rest are classified as “supernatural”. No criteria have been specified that would make it possible to distinguish between these two classes of explanations. I wonder if the “naturalistic” explanations are supposed to be those consistent with the laws of nature as accepted by science in its current state? If so, then some interpretations of quantum mechanics would certainly be regarded as supernatural by Newton.

  19. M.D. says:

    As a general comment:

    I can understand the motivation of the Nobel laureates in their attempt to exclude theology from the school curriculum. This is commendable in the context of keeping the US a secular state.

    However, it is hard to understand why the specific religious concept which they regard as outdated superstition, should be replaced by another superstition, popular in 19 century, that a directed evolution of species can result from random genetic mutations and random environmental fluctuations.

    • John E. D. P. Malin says:

      M.D.

      “Another supersitition”? This is obscurity hiding more obscruity!

      A method that is self-correcting, does not harbor previous claims
      as “former” superstitions. Rather it refines those claims with better
      information!

      Cheers,

      John

      • M.D. says:

        I don’t think I get your point. Do you disagree with the opinion I specified above that the darwinian (or actually spencerian) idea of steady progress arising from random (uncorrelated) fluctuations is a preposterous superstition which is inconsistent with the fundamental principles of physics? In that respect, it can be compared with the entertaining mystery of “invisible hand” proposed by Adam Smith.

        The notion of “Self-correcting method” is interesting. It perfectly describes economical theories. Every time they fail to explain reality, correction follows. A remarkably efficient way to get funded while producing nothing.

        • John E. D. P. Malin says:

          M.D.:

          The scientific community has advanced several “light years” since the Naturalist conceptions of Darwin and Spencer!

          Have you read any competently written treatises on Evolution recently? The books are dreadfully expensive! Usually, $50.00 to $120.00! Both Oxford University Press and Harvard University Press have produced learned tomes recently.

          You need to come out of your Victorian cave with all of its delightful cobwebs! Darwin’s central thesis still holds! Do you even know what that thesis is?

          Cheers!

          • M.D. says:

            I wonder if it would be correct to understand your answer to my alternative question as “yes”?

            I am always confused when people talk about “Evolution”. What are those expensive books about? Cosmological evolution of our Universe after Big Bang? Or possible models for the development of species?

        • Of course Darwin was wrong on several counts. He was working with no real idea of the mechanisms involved – although Mendel was working diligently, genes were still a long way from being understood.
          This concentration by critics on the problems with Darwin’s formulation is disingenuous at best. Since Darwin, predictions based on evolutionary theory have been vindicated again and again, and the maturation of the field of genetics puts the ‘argument’ beyond any sane doubt.

  20. Поддерживаю! Молодцы Ученые! says:

    Я всецело поддерживаю открытое письмо. Есть надежда, что и у нас, в России, кое кто прислушается.

    Note: This comment expresses support for the letter.

  21. peeter sauter says:

    in estonia we had a creationist lecturer at school that associates itself with christian humanistic values. this lecturer created panic among parents and was voted down.

    in modern world strange creationism can kill sympathy towards christian moral attitudes more easily than atheism. we should not throw humanist attitudes of a jolly jewish rebel out together with a strange branch of christianity.

    • M.D. says:

      Would it be correct to understand that your local branch of Christianity doesn’t include the act of creation? And what kind of connection do you see between creationism and what you call “christian humanistic values”?

      • peeter sauter says:

        it does, but not in the way as creationists see creation.
        i feel that creationism can discredit christian values.
        perhaps that was the reason that parents tried to keep kids away from the lecture.

        • M.D. says:

          I am still wondering. In what way a discussion concerning possible interpretation of the biblical concept of creation can possibly discredit christian values? And what are these values? Ten commandments? The medieval church used similar arguments to suppress astronomical discussions.

          • John E. D. P. Malin says:

            M.D.:

            Instead of asking vague, generalized [abstract] questions of your opponents, proffer content [concrete].

            Not only does this enliven the discussion, it actually informs the brain! See Mother Jones article on “The Science of Not Accepting Science” as to the psychology of dealing with mental incompetents this week!

            John

          • M.D. says:

            John,

            I find the implication of your reference to “the psychology of dealing with mental incompetents” resentful. I see no reason to presume that my opponent would be unable to comprehend simple and rationally formulated questions.

  22. Alexander says:

    To students who in the future will be scientists, it is certainly necessary to teach scientific theories and to tell about the spent experiments and the collected facts. It doesn’t cause doubts. A problem not in it. Now some atheists-scientists have transformed Darvinism into original religion of atheism, declaring it is unique the correct scientific theory. All the rest is rejected as unscientific. But for the Darvinism statement in quality it is unique the true scientific theory there are no sufficient bases. As a matter of fact isn’t present not only convincing proofs of change of kinds, both experimental, and paleontologic, but even there are no reliable methods of dating. For evolution millions years are necessary, but reliable methods of dating of geological formations and organic remains for such big periods aren’t present. Therefore it is absolutely normal that darvinism and its modifications it should be taught not as the proved scientific theory, and taght simple as a scientific hypothesis which demands acknowledgement or probably revision, rejection and promotion of other theories. Imposing Darvinism will hamper only creative activity of students, in search of decisions of scientific problems, narrowing their outlook.

    • Gary says:

      @Alexander: What’s “Darvinism”?

      • John E. D. P. Malin says:

        Gary:

        Alexander meant “Darwinism.” Common spelling blunder by the little read.

        However, I think his assertion that “scientific atheism” is a “religion” is silly. Since there is no objective datum in our cosmos of a deity, the concept is, simply, uninteresting!

        Or, to quote Pierre-Simon, marquis de Laplace (1749-1827), when presenting his five volume, Mécanique Céleste (Celestial Mechanics) (1799–1825) to Napoleon, when the French Emperor had asked him, “M. Laplace, they tell me you have written this large book on the system of the universe, and have never even mentioned its Creator.” The philosopher-mathematician replied bluntly, “Je n’avais pas besoin de cette hypothèse-là !” ["I had no need of that hypothesis !"]

        This was the day when the notion of Deity “died” in the Western world! No serious mind could entertain the notion any further.

        • M.D. says:

          Compare the quated statement with another one:

          “We may regard the present state of the universe as the effect of its past and the cause of its future. An intellect which at a certain moment would know all forces that set nature in motion, and all positions of all items of which nature is composed, if this intellect were also vast enough to submit these data to analysis, it would embrace in a single formula the movements of the greatest bodies of the universe and those of the tiniest atom; for such an intellect nothing would be uncertain and the future just like the past would be present before its eyes.”
          —Pierre Simon Laplace, A Philosophical Essay on Probabilities

          This raises a question: in which case he failed to comprehend what he was talking about? Or, possibly, he tried to be politically correct with the boss?

          • John E. D. P. Malin says:

            M.D.:

            Laplace is merely formulating a strict deterministic model!

            Note it is the neo-platonic notion of Intellect that Laplace uses, not God!

            Cheers!

          • M.D. says:

            There is a point that both of you failed to see. There is no time for the “mind” described in the qoted statement.

            Religious fundamentalist Newton asked: “Why the planetary orbits are stable”? The depth of that question was well beyond the scope of the superficial french atheistic mind. It was answered 300 years later.

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  26. Katie says:

    If you haven’t seen this film yet, do check it out… “Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial” It is a PBS Nova special concerning the exact same issue, but from 2007. I can’t believe we’re still having to fight this in 2011!!!

    • M.D. says:

      Isn’t it peculiar that the judge takes the liberty to formulate a legally binding opinion about a matter well beyond his comprehension? What is science is decided by scientists. The opinion of lawyers, bureaucrats and other social groups lacking proper education and/or mental capacity is of no relevance. That pointless legal exercise was just a regrettable waste of public money.

      • Tenncrain says:

        A matter well over the judge’s comprehension?? :-/ If anything, the defense had chances galore to make their case. The defense fumbled. Badly. While Judge John Jones isn’t a scientist, he let both sides clarify his understanding of science arguments (look up the online court transcripts).

        True, it can be argued that expert witnesses for the plaintiffs hit a couple of grand slams during their testimony.

        At the same time, Jones may have also been strongly swayed by the defense’s own testimony. An expert witness for the defense admitted to agreeing with the following remark, “There are no peer reviewed articles by anyone advocating for intelligent design supported by pertinent experiments or calculations which provide detailed rigorous accounts of how intelligent design of any biological system occurred….” This very same defense witness also conceded if the rules of science were relaxed to allow ID, astrology (yes, astrology) could also be science. Numerous media statements and writings by defense expert witnesses tell of things like that it’s implausible that ID is a natural entity (inferring ID is supernatural/religious). As if this wasn’t enough, two defense witnesses narrowly escaped contempt of court/perjury charges.

        The Dover verdict was a victory for the view that only science should be taught in science classes, not religion disguised at science. This decision is especially noteworthy as Judge Jones is a Christian and conservative Republican.

        BTW, here’s Dr Ken Miller on the scientific method and ID/creationism:
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aO5us0qHcwc&feature=player_embedded
        Miller was the lead expert witness for the plaintiffs, he’s also deeply religious.

        • M.D. says:

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Uqxxbx2VOs&feature=related

          I wonder what does the notion of “naturalistic explanation” that is repeatedly invoked mean. More curiously, what is “supernatural explanation”? Without defining clearly these terms, the discussion is entirely meaningless.

          • John Strong says:

            Any scientist can read the case and see that Jones knew enough to make an accurate judgment. BTW, the judgment concerned whether the teaching of “Intelligent Design” passed the Lemon Test, which it did not, since its genealogy can be traced directly to purveyors of the Book of Genesis.

          • M.D. says:

            John Strong:

            I apologize for repeating the question. I wonder if you could give a comprehensible explanation of what is “naturalistic” and “supernatural” in the context of the entertaining lecture by Dr Miller? The apparent lack of clear and unambiguous definition of these terms renders the entire discussion of what is science meaningless.

    • Tenncrain says:

      An excellent series. It’s online, including on YouTube.

      “”I can’t believe we’re still having to fight this in 2011!!!”"

      Interestingly, after the 1925 Scopes trial, publishers of public school science books were fearful of being hit in the pocketbook so evolution was deleted for the most part. This, together with some anti-evolution statutes, meant evolution was largely swept under the rug.

      Hints of improved science education (including evolution) started in the years after the stunning 1957 launch of Sputnik (although evolution was then strongly opposed by conservatives).

      Then, 1920s era laws forbidding the teaching of evolution were declared unconstitutional (Epperson vs Arkansas, 1968).

      But after 1968, anti-evolutionists came up with ‘creationism’ laws that were openly religious (legally struck down in Tennessee in 1970s).

      Next came ‘creation science’ statutes (an Arkansas law was struck down in 1982, all such laws declared unconstitutional in 1987).

      Then creationism was rehashed as ID, only to suffer a serious setback in 2005 (Dover PA).

      Now we have attempts at ‘balanced treatment’ of evolution (which could sooner or later be ruled unconstitutional, if such laws are not repealed first).

      It goes to show anti-evolutionists are adaptable among other things.

      While various Gallup and other polls suggest that anti-evolutionism among the general public may have declined since the Dover trial (anti-evolutionism support otherwise being relatively stable since the 1970s), it’s only a small decline from what was a very high level of popular support. Even if this decline continues at its present rate, anti-evolutionism is not going away anytime soon. Thus, until science education improves, this issue could remain for generations.

      • M.D. says:

        What is “teaching evolution”? Irreversible evolution of the Universe is an observable cosmological fact. Which ought to be mentioned within a course of astronomy. There isn’t much to teach about it. The entire discussion doesn’t make sence.

        • John Strong says:

          What’s really ironic is that ID evolved from creationism>creation science>openly theistic ID>religion-denying ID. Its genes go way back.

          • M.D. says:

            Discussing religion is of no rational interest. Rather, the discussion should be focused on whether the mechanism of biological evolution proposed by Darwin is scientifically sound, that is logically non-contradictory and consistent with the fundamental principles and observable facts.

  27. janet says:

    wow zack. you have inspired some heavy debate. i see big things for you in your future. i work in a stem cell biology/regenerative medicine lab in philadelphia. keep fighting the good fight and you might be here among us sooner than you think.

    cheers.

  28. John C says:

    I find it incredible that grown men can still be debating ID and such rubbish , I knew when I was 6 years old and went into my first school assembly that I was being lied to by the adult at the front spouting religion, I have always been uneasy with the idea of a creator,if a child of 6 can see it why cant you.As a grown man now, I look back at the wasted hours in school,when i could of been recieving tuition in a usefull subject.Its sad that so many ignore the observable evidence of nature around them, and fall for a croc of superstitious woo.Incidentaly, i was in the top 5 % of my school, none of my inteligent counterparts were religious either.

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  30. Steve F says:

    Faith is just that, faith, and should remain so. As noted, there is a preponderance of evidence that points to evolution, even if there may be a gap or two somewhere along the way. What scientific knowledge body has been immune from gaps that were later filled?

    By definition, religion is based on belief, whereas science is evidence-based. If we let educators mix the two, chaos will ensue, at the cost of objectivity and provable fact, a key educational value.

    One problem with creationism as it relates to fact is that there are many religions, all adhered to with equal fervor by their proponents, but all espousing different theories. Are these all to be taught as credible alternatives in our public school systems?

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