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Feb 02 2012

As Darwin’s birthday looms, US anti-evolution lobby heats up

Here we are, more than 200 years after Darwin’s birth, and in four US states the religiously motivated battle against scientific reality continues unabated:

(WaPo) — One of the bills, New Hampshire’s House Bill 1148, not only singles out evolution, but would require teachers to discuss its proponents’ ”political and ideological viewpoints and their position on the concept of atheism.” It is scheduled for a hearing in early February. The author of the bill, Republican state Rep. Jerry Bergevin, has linked the teaching of evolution to the 1999 Columbine High School massacre and Hitler’s atrocities and associates it with atheism.

Yes, because the moment I saw the old Ascent of Man chart in my high school biology class, I felt an overwhelming compulsion to bring an assault rifle to school and start plugging away.

The article also reviews other bills in various states of play. One of the most insidious is a Virginia measure that would prevent state colleges from requiring classes which teach evolution to be mandatory in any degree plan. Which means you could have biology majors who never once took a class where evolution was part of the curricula.

Imagine if this caught on? I’d wager there’s way more people who hate math than evolution. If that group ever got a voice, there could be a whole generation of physicists and accountants who literally cannot do simple algebra.

10 comments

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  1. 1
    unbound

    When are legislators going to understand that it isn’t evolution that drives kids to bring guns to school…it’s math that does that!

    After having dragged my oldest to the various state colleges / universities in Virginia last year, I would say that several would definitely hop onto that measure. In particular, Christopher Newport University is run by a religiously sympathetic president (Paul Trible) who personally pushed the spiritual aspect of campus life when we visited (and even had a plant in the audience to feed him a couple of questions…how sad is that). There is little doubt that they would the first to remove evolution as a required pre-requisite for the BA Biology and BS Biology majors.

  2. 2
    slc1

    Re unbound @ #1

    Gee, Newport University, bailiwick of one physics Prof. David Heddle, admitted Calvinist and reality challenged commenter on Mr. Brayton’s blog.

  3. 3
    The Lorax

    slc1, funny you should mention “Calvinist”

    http://www.sethi.org/images/classes/calvin_and_hobbes/refuse_to_answer.gif

  4. 4
    Chuck

    If that group ever got a voice, there could be a whole generation of physicists and accountants who literally cannot do simple algebra.

    Yeah, but at least we wouldn’t have all of these Algebrists going on shooting rampages and trying to infect our children with Teh Gay.

  5. 5
    Stephen "DarkSyde" Andrew

    I majored in math so obviously I like it. But it’s clear a whole bunch of people hate it :)

  6. 6
    iknklast

    Actually, you’d have biology majors who graduated never having ONE SINGLE COURSE in biology, since Evolution is the foundation for all biology classes. Any teacher who skips around evolution in a biology class is teaching poorly. Most of us just sort of drop the word naturally from our lips, and probably don’t realize how many times we say it unless a creationist student decides to keep track.

    This will leave American science with an enormous gap in the scientific market. We’ll be number one, all right – number one in the evolution-ostrich sweepstakes, number one in stupid reality shows, and number one in ignorance.

  7. 7
    raymills

    Do you think that if you pointed out to bergevin that infact hitler banned ‘primitive darwinism’ and was heavily influenced by martin luthers book on the jews and their lies, he would get a clue? or would he ignore it?

  8. 8
    d cwilson

    Algebra was invented by Muslims, so it’s clearly a plot to impose “creeping Shariah” law on us and turn us all into gay secular humanists. We must ban it from our universities!

  9. 9
    Avicenna

    You guys should totally ban alcohol too! And chemistry! Don’t you know that they are also a creeping islamic influence?

    I mean if you use arabic numbers, arabic mathematics and arabic words for a science, how long before you start using sharia law! SHARIA LAW!!!

    (I remember a kid from primary school called Sharia Law, Her dad was christian, her mum muslim so they called her Sharia… I don’t think they realised that until now how unfortunate her name is. It’s like Drew Peacock only less risque and more risky…)

    It shocks me that people still think this is up for debate. Science doesn’t move forward by debate for a reason. Because I am pretty sure that my capacity for debate doesn’t make the thing I debate about right or wrong.

    It actually shocks me as a non-american that people are like this. Science moves at a break neck pace and crippling your ability to do science harms children.

    Do you know how many antivax people I have talked to who don’t grasp basic biology because it’s not taught properly in large parts of the USA? And when I hear things like this all that’s going through my head is “Well here is why”. It’s not just creationists who come out of this (If Nazis were evolutionists, Creationists are slave owners. Lest we forget, the children of Ham are meant to serve…) screwed up. It’s the entire spectrum of biology luddites.

    I seriously know anti-vax atheists who have honestly stated they don’t believe in germ theory. Or think the Land Theory is better. I have seen HIV denialism of the sort that President Mbeki of South Africa was famous for (The Infamous HIV Salad Bar). I know for a fact that the woman threatening University of Florida biology and pre-med students with death threats is an atheist. Her grasp of biology is equally nebulous.

    In short? This kind of thing hurts americans in more ways than one. It’s not just one group of harmful idiots who are created by this valediction of stupidity. It’s an entire gamut.

  10. 10
    captainblack

    I don’t see the usually misunderstood selective quote from Augustine of Hippo:

    “The danger already exists that mathematicians have made a covenant with the devil to darken the spirit and confine man in the bonds of Hell.”

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