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Scientists meet and worry in Vancouver


DesDownunder

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"Science is "under siege,"

" Experts wrangled with thorny issues such as censorship, opposition from religious groups in the United States to teaching evolution and climate change, and generally poor education standards."

http://www.news.com....0-1226277403359

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This is actually a bit of a hot issue here right now. The Canadian government is under a fair bit of heat for allegedly ignoring, dismissing, and most importantly, attempting to manipulate and censor the findings of scientists when these findings go against their political agenda. Fortunately, we're starting to see some public awareness of this issue along with some hopefully effective backlash.

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This is concerning. It drives me mental when the religious right say, "oh, we need to change the textbooks that talk about 'Evolution.' There has to be equal time for 'Creationism.'"

I've always felt there's an element of intelligent design to the universe -- not necessarily from God per se, but "something else." (I'm firmly in the Stanley Kubrick 2001 school, that somebody or some thing came to earth and deliberately tampered with our evolution, maybe as an experiment.) Otherwise, to me, there's far too many coincidences out there for me to believe that all life forms developed accidentally.

But I absolutely believe the Earth is at least 4.5 billion years old, dinosaurs walked the earth, and man descended from apes and a couple of hundred other life forms over a million-year period. It's incredible to me that people could ignore the hard evidence and said, "oh, yeah, the Earth just magically appeared about 7000 years ago, and man just instantly popped into existence." No bloody way.

If I had kids in school, I'd be very upset about my children being taught pseudoscience and any kind of religion or mysticism designed to explain biology and physics. I have no problem with them saying, "it's possible that a powerful force you could refer to as God created all life, but we have no proof of it. Some people believe it on faith alone, but the truth is, we don't really know."

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This is concerning. It drives me mental when the religious right say, "oh, we need to change the textbooks that talk about 'Evolution.' There has to be equal time for 'Creationism.'"

[]

but the truth is, we don't really know."

That's just about it. We really don't know.

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Tell this to a Bible-thumper, and they'll say, "ah know becuz it says so in the Good Book!" F'in' idiots.

I have no problem with people who want to be religious -- just don't talk to me about it. I have no prejudice against any religion except extremists of all kinds. And in some ways, the Christian Extremists are the worst of all.

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I agree with everything The Pecman said in the last couple of posts. Of course there's a place for religion in schools. It's called Religious Studies class. There's a place for science too, that's called Science Class. When they start letting us teach science in their religion classes, and in their churches, then it would be the beginning of a dialogue about the reverse (though I still wouldn't agree with either one), but of course that won't happen. Of course, in public schools that have Religious Studies classes, all religions should and must be given equal time. Anything else is biased. Fundamentalists of any religion need to understand this this simple and quite obvious idea.

I too have no problem at all with people who are religious. I don't pretend to know it all, and there are some mighty strange things going out out there that make any sane person wonder. But any given person's freedom of religion ends at the exact moment it starts to attempt to impose unsubstantiated and unevidenced behaviour, expectations, and limits on me.

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This is actually a bit of a hot issue here right now. The Canadian government is under a fair bit of heat for allegedly ignoring, dismissing, and most importantly, attempting to manipulate and censor the findings of scientists when these findings go against their political agenda. Fortunately, we're starting to see some public awareness of this issue along with some hopefully effective backlash.

Ah, poor Galileo.

History does have a nasty way of repeating itself, doesn't it?

C

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If I had kids in school, I'd be very upset about my children being taught pseudoscience and any kind of religion or mysticism designed to explain biology and physics. I have no problem with them saying, "it's possible that a powerful force you could refer to as God created all life, but we have no proof of it. Some people believe it on faith alone, but the truth is, we don't really know."

Man o man, that's exactly the message the fundies don't want promulgated. Why, if people start to get the notion in their heads that no one really knows this stuff, the next logical step is, they are going to start thinking for themselves, trying to figure everything out. They're going to start thinking for themselves instead of letting some guy on a high podium with a stentorian voice and impressive black robes explain it all to them, explain just what they're supposed to think.

No, they don't want that at all.

C

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I suppose the concept of evolution is in conflict with the Bible, but then the people who wrote that bestseller were ignorant. I don't mean that in a bad way, they were just unaware of the larger world around them. This of course is why the Quran is such a small minded book of rules since it only deals with countries covered in sand.

As I have said before, the world was flat and Noah saved the entire planet when the Bible was written...we know better. Any book that purports to be the final answer about man's development falls by the wayside as new information is discovered. For example, the Encylopedia Britannica my father has on his shelf, circa 1960. What religion fails to accept is that our world is all about evolution, and that Holy Textbook has not been updated in centuries.

I'd say the Bible authors had a pretty good thing going, in their time. It is a shame that all the changes made to that script over the centuries didn't try for an update. The New World wasn't even on the map back then, much less most of Europe and Asia. Time and again the challenges against the Bible creation myth share space with ancient Egyptian mythology, the stories that emerged from Mesopotamia and the ancient Hebrew texts of that time period. Very little in the Bible is original thought, it is a compendium of religious legend and myth.

But for the Creationists to rant and rave against evolution just shows their ignorance. Perhaps it was their God which set all this in motion, and here we see them denying it. Blasphemy! If I tried to use a Websters that was fifty years old I would be laughed at for my lack of knowledge. My advice to the religionists out there would be: Update your book, Dude. Get with the times.

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... But for the Creationists to rant and rave against evolution just shows their ignorance. Perhaps it was their God which set all this in motion, and here we see them denying it. Blasphemy! If I tried to use a Websters that was fifty years old I would be laughed at for my lack of knowledge. My advice to the religionists out there would be: Update your book, Dude. Get with the times.

I'm not sure it's ignorance. I think it's more a desire that things stay as they were, as they liked them to be. They had some control then, some position, some sway. If things remain constant, then they never need to roll with the times, to convert their thoughts to the present, to understand things they'd rather ignore.

People who refuse to see things as they are are defective. We must continue to learn and grow or we wither. These people are stuck in one place, and they like it there, and refuse to move.

C

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Are they more afraid that things haven't always been this way, or that things will change, won't be the same in the future? Animals evolve, plants evolve, the earth's tectonic plates will move and shift the continents around until in another few million years we will once again have one massive supercontinent. Climate changes, even in the relatively short term. Even us too, people, Homo Sapiens, we too, much to the surprise of creationists, are evolving. We never stopped. Indeed, despite (or maybe because of) advances in medical care keeping people alive to procreate that wouldn't have been along long ago, genetic evidence strongly shows that our species is evolving faster than ever before. Where will that lead us? Who knows, depends on what various factors and pressures result in who gets that slight 1/10 of a percent advantage in sending their genes along. Doesn't take long after that.

An example: there is a genetic mutation, in humans, that is linked to the X chromosome. This random mutation, which due to gene expression occurs only in females, makes those people lucky enough to have it able to see millions more colours than the average person can see. They can differentiate between colours that look identical to you and me. Interestingly, most of these women don't know they have this ability, and are surprised to learn that others can't see the colours they can. Also interestingly, many, many of these people are involved in careers related to graphics, design, decorating, and the like.

Will this gene eventually become dominant? Who knows? But that's one small example. This stuff is happening all the time. We're not some finished product, we're just a point on the line.

So much to learn. So much to understand. So many mysteries and awe-inspiring ah-ha moments. Why anyone would want to believe that they had it all figured out in the bronze age is completely beyond me.

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Individual evolution is not restricted to mutant variations, each of us can grow and evolve our faculty of cognisance beyond the objectives of knowledge and learning. It's related to our ability for adaptation to our environment, both physical and mental. But you have to be open and willing to adopt change and this is much more difficult if you have been indoctrinated into unsubstantiated beliefs. And goodness knows, it is difficult enough, coping with one's own preconceptions, let alone with the dogma of others.

When the individual unconditionally commits to previous evolutionary stages of discovery, then he is stuck in the past. In a Zen-like fashion of holding their breath until they lose it, religious believers run the risk of never finding the reality of life because they are too busy holding onto outmoded ideas (mostly as you say, Gee, from the bronze age.) We have to dare to be vulnerable to change, to the reality of the consequences of being alive, and evolve to loving it, wanting it even, and ensuring the that right to live includes the right to be that unfinished point, you speak of.

I don't think it is on a line though, but as we discussed elsewhere, the point is on an expanding spiral, ever becoming part of the cycle of beauty and grandeur of those mysteries we permit ourselves to discover. Whilst we might find that those discoveries are revolutionary in our lifetime, it is the evolutionary ability itself, which we must encourage to survive, lest we lose our power to adapt. It's really like just breathing, remembering that every time you breathe in or out, the universe breathes out or in.

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Well said, Gee and Des, but you are voices crying in the wilderness of western conservatism. Living as I do in the middle of the Bible Belt, I am sensitive to the reality of this milieu. It is simplistic to blame skewed thinking and regressive values on the preachers whose absolutist bible-based vision leads their flocks to reject the ideas of progress and change. The preachers are enablers, not instigators. It takes a community to raise a preacher just as it takes a village to raise a child. In either case, the individual is the product first of the society in which he is formed.

Education in humanistic values and exposure to a wider horizon and a global vision is severely limited and most of those who discover a way into that wider world don't return to these conservative small-minded settings. The central value here is tradition, and the past is viewed as the Golden Age. Returning to the standards of the forefathers, however limited, harsh, and inhumane, becomes the focus of these communities as they strive to preserve their perception of their heritage.

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