Evolution war still rages 200 years after Darwin's birth

Feb 01, 2009 By Robert S. Boyd, McClatchy Newspapers

Two centuries after Charles Darwin's birth on Feb. 12, 1809, people still argue passionately about his theory of evolution.

Was Darwin right? Should schoolchildren be exposed to contrary views in science class? These two controversies continue to rage, partly because both sides are evenly matched.

Most scientists and courts that have ruled on the matter say that overwhelming evidence backs Darwin's explanation of the origin and evolution of species, including humans, by natural selection.

Many people, especially religious and social conservatives, strongly disagree.

Among them are "creationists," who take literally the Genesis story that God created the world and mankind in six days no more than 10,000 years ago. Others support "intelligent design," the idea that life is too complex to have arisen without a supernatural "designer," presumably God.

Public opinion surveys consistently have shown that Americans are deeply divided over evolution. The most recent Gallup poll on the issue, in June 2007, found that 49 percent of those surveyed said they believed in evolution and 48 percent said they didn't. Those percentages have stayed almost even for at least 25 years.

Gallup found a political angle to the split. Two-thirds of Republicans rejected Darwin's theory, while majorities of Democrats and political independents accepted it.

A Harris poll published last December found that more people believe in a devil, hell and angels than in evolution.

The controversy is most acute in the public schools, where conservatives want evolution banished from science classes or at least described as "a theory, not a fact."

Darwin's supporters counter that to scientists a theory isn't just a guess or a hypothesis but a widely accepted explanation of natural events supported by the best available evidence.

At a recent hearing before Texas' State Board of Education, scientists and social conservatives exchanged fiery arguments over a rule that requires science textbooks to cover "the strengths and weaknesses" of evolutionary theory.

Darwin critics control seven of the 15 seats on the board and have the support of Republican Gov. Rick Perry. The chairman of the board, Don McLeroy, a dentist, is a creationist who believes that the Earth is only thousands of years old, not billions as most scientists think. The board will decide the issue in March.

Louisiana's State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education adopted guidelines Jan. 15 that allow teachers to use "supplemental materials" that aren't in regular textbooks about "controversial" subjects such as evolution and global warming.

Louisiana's new rules "ensure the state's teachers their right to teach the scientific evidence both for and against Darwinian evolution," according to the Seattle-based Discovery Institute, the headquarters of the intelligent design movement.

"We fully expect to see the Discovery Institute's book, 'Explore Evolution,' popping up in school districts across the state," Barbara Forrest, a Darwin supporter in Hammond, La., told Science magazine.

The Louisiana school board also eliminated language that had banned the teaching of creationism or intelligent design, saying that the ban is unnecessary.

"The creationists got what they wanted," said Patsye Peebles, a retired Louisiana science teacher.

The opposition to the Discovery Institute is led by the National Center for Science Education, a pro-Darwin research center based in Oakland, Calif.

The center contends that intelligent design is a subtle way to introduce religion into science education, which the courts consistently have declared unconstitutional.

"The phrase 'strengths and weaknesses' has been spread nationally as a slogan to bring creationism in through the back door," center executive director Eugenie Scott told the Texas school board.

Similar proposals are pending or expected in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma and South Carolina, according to Glenn Branch, the deputy director of the National Center for Science Education.

"In a typical year, NCSE will be monitoring about 80 episodes of creationist activity in the United States and abroad," Branch said.

"This issue isn't going away," John West, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, wrote in an e-mail to his allies last May. "Although Darwinists are doing their best to shut down and intimidate anyone who raises questions about neo-Darwinism, we still have free speech, and they can't prevent people from hearing about the debate in the public arena, no matter how hard they try."

The theory of evolution itself is evolving. Since Darwin's day, researchers have acquired powerful tools that revealed DNA's role in passing inheritance from generation to generation, something Darwin knew nothing about.

Around the middle of the 20th century, this led to the "Modern Synthesis," a major updating of evolutionary theory to accommodate new information. Many biologists are suggesting still another revision, which some call "Modern Synthesis 2.0."

For example, Darwin described evolution as the growth of a tree, the "Tree of Life." The tree began with a single, original organism at the root, with myriad species branching off from the trunk.

Biologists increasingly say that evolution resembles a web or a bush rather than a tree. Microbes constantly swap DNA. Hybrid plants and animals cross species lines, blurring sharp lines between species.

"We understand evolution pretty well," said W. Ford Doolittle, a Darwin supporter and biologist at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. "It's just that it's more complex than Darwin imagined."

___

ON THE WEB

Discovery Institute: discovery.org/csc
National Center for Science Education: www.ncseweb.org

___

(c) 2009, McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.
Visit the McClatchy Washington Bureau on the World Wide Web at www.mcclatchydc.com

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User comments : 16

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Corban
5 / 5 (4) Feb 01, 2009
At the same time, the US is falling behind in science and math scores. Coincidence? I think not.
bmcghie
5 / 5 (1) Feb 01, 2009
If that poll referring to more people believing in heaven/hell/angels/demons than evolution is correct, then quite frankly I'm bloody terrified. This indicates that, as the above poster stated, the US is falling further and further behind the leading edge in science, and general education. The problem is simply that public education is inadequate. You need to teach kids how to think critically, and to evaluate evidence... instead of giving them grade 7 math and calling it good enough.

I'm going to have nightmares tonight over this... :(
jjurbanus
1 / 5 (5) Feb 01, 2009
For it has been throughout time, that often the powerful (in mind and body) do not see or acknowledge where the power comes from. Forever is the great dilemma resolving, through such wrestling within.
LuckyBrandon
not rated yet Feb 01, 2009
wow i didnt realize this has turned into a philosophy site.

ive said it before and ill say it again, no1 will EVER teach my kids that fake religios crap in school, or I will pull them out and put them into another, or better yet, teach them myself.
DarwiN100
5 / 5 (2) Feb 02, 2009
Only in America. !
Sky2042
not rated yet Feb 02, 2009
The evolution war only rages in America and in undeveloped countries. It was over 50 years ago in western Europe.

Indeed, Corbin and Darwin said it best.
bfast
1 / 5 (2) Feb 02, 2009
Hey, at least this article separated the creationists -- those who use the Bible as a science textbook, as an authority above other textbooks, and "Intelligent Design", those who are not prepared to doubt that the the simple filter of natural selection acting on random variation is adequate to explain biology.
lengould100
5 / 5 (1) Feb 02, 2009
What's really striking, being so nearby, is the difference on this and other religion-related topics between the USA and Canada. The same poll in Canada

Human beings evolved from less advanced life forms over millions of years 59%

God created human beings in their present form within the last 10,000 years 22%

Not sure 19%

Also noteworthy, in Canada a politician's religious convictions are no-one else's business. Any news group who happened to discover the particular religion of a candidate for Prime Minister would (correctly) simply ignore it as uninteresting and irrelevant.
Soylent
5 / 5 (3) Feb 02, 2009
Hey, at least this article separated the creationists [...] and "Intelligent Design"[...]


That separation is an error, they are indistinguishable. Intelligent design is a rebranding effort launched to make teaching creationism under a different name in schools constitutional.

There are several intelligent design textbooks which are derived from creationist textbooks by simply changing out a few words(most notably creationism -> intelligent design).
boredWithScience
1 / 5 (2) Feb 02, 2009
Evolution is science's best guess at how life/lifeforms have changed to be increasingly complex over time. As you trace the complexity back there is a beginning. Either life was created or sprang out of the earth without guidance. What is the big deal with saying it could have been created? It can't be tested? Niether can the idea that it sprang forth on it's own. Are we not allowed to talk about how it started in the classroom?
E_L_Earnhardt
1 / 5 (2) Feb 02, 2009
The argument is rediculous! Darwin was a Christian minister with deep belief! He NEVER DENIED HIS FAITH!
his curiosity was kindled over HOW God did it - not IF! INTELIGENT DESIGN IS OBVIOUS!
powercosmic
5 / 5 (1) Feb 02, 2009
E_L_Earnhart you are mistaken, you should sue the provider of your GED materials.

Darwin and family were "free thinkers" or an old timey way of saying that they rejected the bible and its teachings, Charles Darwins family flatly repudiated the Christian disinformation campaign that Darwin had a deathbed conversion to faith as NOT TRUE.

Evolution isn't just a theory its absolutely provable beyond a shadow of a doubt, now, the fact that the Christian stance has been to take sides against science means that its not Evolution that is a "theory" but that Christianity is a "theory" and a very WEAK one at that, this is the reason why the origins of the Bible aren't taught in school, nor is Biblical Archaeology. If it were then 99.999% would reject Christianity as FALSE.

L
powercosmic
4.5 / 5 (2) Feb 02, 2009
If we're going to teach Intelligent Design (it even sounds stupid, dod'nit?) in school then we should also teach children about the "Council of Nicea" (Christians: Wha?) and how Constantine commissioned the creation of the Bible in 350 a.d. and how Biblical Archaeology and History has not produced evidence to support the existence of the alleged empire of Solomon, while lesser empires have AMPLE evidence in the form of communications and commerce.

We should teach what science has to say about the Bible and how it was created for POLITICAL reasons by the roman empire at a time when the conquered were fed up with roman ways and culture.
jjurbanus
1 / 5 (2) Feb 02, 2009
powercosmic, although Christianity, or any other religion, is relevant in discussions of society and the motivations of many discussed in the article, there is no reason to bring it up while trying to have a simple discussion on life.

But since you have, let's see how both the dogmatic forms of religions, as well as atheism, are really pushed for the same reason, to divide, conquer, and control.

From reading "In the Minds of Men: Darwin and the New World Order " by Ian T. Taylor, we find that "Darwin's idea of inbreeding to produce superior stock can be seen to be a complete disaster in the case of his own ten children. Of the ten, one girl died shortly after birth; another died in childhood; his youngest son, Charles, was mentally retarded and lived only two years; Henrietta had a serious and prolonged breakdown at fifteen; and three sons suffered such frequent illness that Darwin regarded them as semiinvalids. Darwin%u2019s last son, Charles Jr., was born mentally retarded and died nineteen months after birth."

As the Earth Emperor describes, "Alfred Russel Wallace kind of got screwed over, cause his ideas were pretty much stolen and taken over by Darwin [which was mainly permitted after Wallace went off the deep end into the occult." Taylor contends that "The Ternate paper [by Wallace] contained, in complete form, what is today known as the Darwinian theory of evolution, and Darwin received a copy from Wallace in June 1858; twelve months later Darwin published the book for which he is best known, On the Origin of Species. Even this title was taken from Wallace%u2019s Ternate paper, but Wallace%u2019s name was only mentioned in three minor places within the text."

The Earth Emperor further describes the following:
So Darwin has his own theory and now you have to advertise it. One of the biggest advertisers at the time was Thomas Huxley. Basically what they did was what Carroll Quigley says, where you get groups, organizations, people, etc. that the %u201Cbourgeois cattle%u201D think are all separate, but they%u2019re really connected, and you get them all to say, %u201CGo Evolution. Go Darwin%u201D. Then the %u201Cbourgeois cattle%u201D will say, %u201CYay Evolution. Yay Darwin.%u201D

To keep the theory popular and going and believable is to only hire people that%u2019ll conform to that theory at university and government research labs. If they don%u2019t conform then just don%u2019t hire them.

A lot of the reason why the %u201Cbourgeois cattle%u201D are so into evolution now is cause of UNESCO, which is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. UNESCO works to monitor and control what enters the human mind. The first head of UNESCO, known as the director general, was Julian Huxley, the grandson of Thomas Huxley. Julian Huxley says, %u201C. . . the general philosophy of UNESCO should it seems, be a scientific world humanism, global in extent and evolutionary in background.%u201D

As you know powercosmic, things are usually much more complicated than commonly known.

Ethelred
not rated yet Feb 12, 2009
The argument is rediculous! Darwin was a Christian minister with deep belief! He NEVER DENIED HIS FAITH!


Wrong. Completely.

Darwin and family were "free thinkers" or an old timey way of saying that they rejected the bible and its teachings, Charles Darwins family flatly repudiated the Christian disinformation campaign that Darwin had a deathbed conversion to faith as NOT TRUE.


Also wrong. Partly.

Darwin was never a Christian minister. However he did study to become one. Instead of finishing his ministerial studies he began to concentrate on biology and went on the Beagle instead. His father was religious. His grandfather, Erasmus, was an atheist. His wife was religious. Charles Darwin did later at least lean towards atheism. He certainly could be called Agnostic. The alleged deathbed conversion was a total fabrication by someone that claimed to have witnessed it. She wasn't there according to Darwin's family. Nor is there any evidence at all to support the claim.

his curiosity was kindled over HOW God did it


Possibly at some point in his thinking he might have thought of it that way. However it sure isn't mentioned in Origins.

not IF! INTELIGENT DESIGN IS OBVIOUS!


A Bush appointed very conservative judge disagreed with in the Dover case. Dr. Behe did very poorly and he was the best there was or is at pushing the concept. It would have helped if he had read other peoples studies on flagella for instance. Then again he wouldn't have bothered mentioning it if he had since his claim of irreducible complexity was shown to be false by the simple expedient of showing bacteria with some but not all of the structures living and multiplying.

Intelligent Design is not science, its just the Wedge of ignorance from the Discovery Institute.

I wrote up a reply to jjurbanus but I have decided he might have been joking, well trolling. Sometimes I have difficulty telling a true crank from a fake crank. They are so similar.

Earth Emperor indeed. Are quotes from Landover Baptist Church next?

Ethelred
HenisDov
not rated yet Feb 13, 2009

A Mumbo Jumbo Gallop Poll
re Darwin's 200 finds just 39% of Americans 'believe' in evolution

http://firstread....814.aspx

The language and terms of this Gallup poll is a glaring example of...meaningles mumbo-jumbo...

A proper poll would present a brief scientific definition-description of Life's Evolution, summarized in numbered sentences or paras, and solicit YES-NO- ACCEPT of each of them.


Dov Henis

(Comments From The 22nd Century)
http://blog.360.y...Q--?cq=1

Life's Manifest
http://www.the-sc...page#578