What Does Terri Leo Really Want to Teach?

As we get closer to the final vote at the Texas State Board of Education on science standards next week, creationists on the board are showing their real stripes. First it was board chairman Don McLeroy, who endorsed a book equating acceptance of evolution with atheism — making clear that his primary beef with evolution is based on religious beliefs (despite repeated claims to the contrary). And now Terri Leo, R-Spring, gets in on the act.

Ms. Leo recently appeared on a Walbuilders Radio program to discuss the latest on the evolution debate at the state board. For the uninitiated, Wallbuiders is a Christian advocacy organization based in Aledo, Texas, that claims the separation of church and state is a myth. (Read TFN’s extensive profile of Wallbuilders’ founder David Barton.)

The first cat Leo let’s out of the bag is the “end game” for creationists on the board: biology textbooks. What the next generation of textbooks teach about evolution is the subtext for the entire debate on curriculum standards. Leo and her allies lacked the votes in 2003 to force publishers to include phony “weaknesses” of evolution, but now the elusive majority is in sight. Leo is blunt:

The deal is that even though we have had the standards for 20 years, we are close to a majority of board members who support enforcing the standard.

That’s why creationists on the board were apoplectic in January when the teacher writing teams and science experts recommended changing the wording in the standards, removing the words “strengths and weaknesses.” Leo is hell-bent on restoring those buzz words to the curriculum because she knows the board can now bully publishers into dumbing-down instruction on evolution in new textbooks up for adoption in 2011. Leo fires a shot across the publisher’s bow:

It directs the publishers that you will have scientific weaknesses to the theory of evolution in the textbooks.

So what are these “weaknesses” of evolution? In public, board members and creationist pressure groups have been evasive on this question. But when she is preaching to the Wallbuilders choir, we finally get a window into exactly what Leo means by “weaknesses.” She explains:

All eight icons, which they say have been used in the textbooks to “prove evolution” have been disproven scientifically. And every year, it’s like the elephant in the middle of the room. We have more discoveries in the…um…human genome and DNA and microbiology and all these advances that continue to be a huge problem for evolution. And what we want is when each of those icons has scientific weaknesses to it, we want those taught to the students so that they can be, you know. We’re not trying to take the theory of evolution out of the science textbook. It is a major theory. And it has to be taught to our children so that they thoroughly understand it and can debate and articulate it and impact their culture.

Leo is referring here to Jonathan Wells’s book Icons of Evolution, a popular (nonscholarly) treatise that denigrates evolution based on well-worn creationist attacks. The National Center for Science Education and other scientists have thoroughly refuted the flawed arguments in Well’s work. It most certainly does not represent the mainstream scientific consensus about evolution. But it is clear that this is precisely the type of fringe “scholarship” Leo has in mind for the children of Texas should the “weaknesses” of evolution be mandated in the curriculum standards.

Later in the interview, Leo slips and says exactly what she wants students to be taught under the “weaknesses” standard:

They [scientists] don’t want to talk about the science because they lose that argument continually. The science is overwhelmingly against evolution.

Finally, some honesty! Here’s the unvarnished truth about Leo’s agenda: she doesn’t want students to be taught that the theory of evolution has weaknesses. She wants students to be taught that evolution is not valid. That it’s a lie. If the evolution-deniers on the board get their way next week, this is what they will try to force textbook publishers to include in new biology books.

Don’t say you were not warned.

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  • Pi Guy says:

    @ SM:

    Yes, that text exists in the 1998 TEKS. That it’s been worded so poorly for so long is precisely why it needs to be changed. It’s just plain wrong.

    The changes recommended by the 2009 Standards Committee indicate that they wish to replace “strengths and weaknesses” with more scientific language. That’s because it’s been long-known that the only reason that that older phrasing was inserted in the first place was to give science teachers who hold beliefs not based on “empirical evidence, logical reasoning, and experimental and observational testing” a loophole for not having to teach students how science really works and suspending natural law for the supernatural - an area that lies completely outside of science. Period. No “real” scientist would use language like that. (BTW: Why is it that you keep referring to “real” and “soft” scientists so disparagingly? It’s almost as if you’re trying to convince us that you’re a scientist or something…)

    No one is paranoid of your God and your religion - when they’re discussed in the appropriate forum. The science classroom is not that forum. Your notion of how science works appears to have been warped by a childhood of brainwashing that apparently has caused you to willfully ignore what is true and demonstrable, to suspend reason, in favor of something completely unsupportable. There is a great deal of empirical evidence in support of evolution - arkloads - and that, therefore, is why it’s presented in science classes. Chemists haven’t solved every problem in their field applying the known laws of chemistry (I guess you’d say it’s “weak” despite uncountable successes at modeling the world…) but I don’t see anyone stamping their feet and filling school boards with people pushing for the inclusion of alchemy in their standards. Know why? Because alchemy has no evidentiary support and nothing in chemistry is conflicts with any commonly held mythologies, as far as I know. But if there was any conflict, it’s clear that the lack of supporting evidence wouldn’t prevent its adherents from pushing alchemy in order to suppress thinking that runs counter to their ideology.

    The refutation of any theory needs to be accompanied by an alternative that is likewise empirically-based. Citing supposed and unsupported weaknesses (see McLeroy’s list of three absolutely incorrect and most unscientifically arrived-at “weaknesses” here) isn’t science. The doubt that people like you and the Board wish to cast on evolution must come result from another logically reasonable hypothesis. At this time, you and those who hope and wish that evolution was not already a well-validated model of nature have nothing to offer that is either empirical or reasonable. If such a theory existed, we wouldn’t even need to have this debate. Put up or shut up.

    I suggest that we teach sound science practices in the science classroom and leave the discussions of faith - and weaknesses - to social studies and philosophy classes and at home and church. Science is a methodology, a framework, by which new knowledge is discovered and old knowledge is tested repeatedly. It’s not a trivia contest where facts are memorized and regurgitated at test time. I mean, if the students actually apply the methodology, who knows - they might actually start to think for themselves. And, of course, we all know that that’s what you really fear: the kids might actually come to conclusions different than those that they’ve been force-fed their whole young lives and wonder why all the grown-up have been misleading them for so long. As Lenin said, “Give me a child for the first five years of his life and he will be mine forever.” Now, you and yours want to take away their entire childhood in order to coerce them to cling to belief in a fairy tale whose influence is rapidly fading, both as an explanation of how the world came to be the way it is and as a standard for moral guidance.

    The paranoia, I assert, is far more evident on your side of the fence. To quote Thomas Jefferson,

    “Shake off all the fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear.”

    Nowthat is science-minded. Which begs the question: of what mind are you really?

  • ScienceMinded says:

    Hey PI Guy, I think the wording is still there. I think its been there for nearly 20 years. And now, “real” scientists like all you and all the other TFN supporters think it needs to be changed! You guys are so fearful and paranoid of anything to do with God and religion!!

  • Ben says:

    When I read Larry’s babblings (by way of Satan, of course), I feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day.

  • TFN Says (March 24, 2009 at 9:49 am) —
    -ScienceMinded writes: “if a weakness has not been recognized and validated, then it shouldn’t be presented as part of the curriculum.” —

    Sometimes it is appropriate to teach about invalid criticisms of evolution.

    — Regarding evolution, none has been recognized or validated by science. —

    There is often no consensus — even among scientists — as to whether a criticism of evolution is a real weakness. And we should leave open the possibility that real weaknesses of evolution might be discovered in the future.

    Anyway, “weaknesses” is not a good word here, because invalid criticisms of a theory are not real weaknesses. I have proposed that the term “strengths and weaknesses” be replaced by “strengths and criticisms.” “Criticisms” is a comprehensive, somewhat neutral term that covers real weaknesses, invalid criticisms, criticisms of whole theories, and criticisms of imperfections in theories.

    Pi Guy Says (March 24, 2009 at 12:51 pm) —
    -The Board should do their jobs — and no, editing the wording in the science standards is not their job — and let the scientists (no, SM - real scientists) and science educators come up with the curricula.-

    Wrong. There is no reason to defer to experts’ opinions on questions that do not require any expertise to answer. And BTW, four of the seven board members who voted against dropping the “weaknesses” language have backgrounds in science (five if you count McLeroy, who must have studied a lot of physical science in college as an electrical engineering student), at least three of them in biology.

    BTW, some branches of science in the earlier drafts of the new science standards had the “strengths and weaknesses” language, so if the board had just stood back and let the standards-drafting committees do their jobs, that language would still be there.

  • ndt says:

    ScienceMinded Says:

    March 20, 2009 at 3:43 pm
    TFN and followers,

    I said the agenda should not be all about evolution. It should be and is supposed to be about advocating the teaching of recognized strengths and weaknesses of scientific theories in the public science classrooms. I agree that the SBOE should not be trying to eliminate evolution from biology texts. I don’t believe that is what they are trying to do.

    Then you’re not paying attention. Look at Terri Leo and Don McLeroy’s own words.

  • Pi Guy says:

    Am I the only one with an image of Science/Engineering/ReligionMinded running around with his fingers in his ears saying, “LA LA LA - I can’t heeeear you!”?

    Charles is right. SM (I almost wrote S&M; glad I resisted that urge…) is merely trying draw the discussion away from the issue. The Board should do their jobs - and no, editing the wording in the science standards is not their job - and let the scientists (no, SM - real scientists) and science educators come up with the curricula.

  • Ben says:

    Come on, Terri. Stop posting here. You look foolish.

  • ScienceMinded says:

    Well Ben. Quite the contrary. You and TFN make creationists, and everyone else, look like utter geniuses!!!! I know you didn’t intend it this way, but thanks for your support anyway!

  • Ben says:

    Now that I think about it, SM isn’t quite a Poe, but not exactly a concern troll either. Just a liar, I guess.

  • Ben says:

    At this point, I’m starting to wonder if PseudoScienceMinded is the greatest Poe ever.

    (For anyone unfamiliar with Poe’s Law: “Poe’s Law relates to fundamentalism, and the difficulty of identifying actual parodies thereof. It suggests that, in general, it is hard to tell fake fundamentalism from the real thing, since they may both espouse equally extreme beliefs. Poe’s law also works in reverse: real fundamentalism can also be indistinguishable from parody fundamentalism. For example, some conservatives consider noted homophobe Fred Phelps to be so over-the-top that they think he’s a “deep cover liberal” trying to discredit more mainstream homophobes.)

    Think about it: Could anyone really be as dishonest, deceptive, narrow-minded, and slimy as SM? And what’s with the abundance of exclamation points? That shouts Poe.

    If you are really a Poe, excellent job. You’re making the creationists look like utter idiots—even more so than usual.

  • ScienceMinded says:

    No TFN, it’s not. IT’s time for you to end your charade of saying you support science and religious freedom and civil rights. Support strengths and weaknesses!! And, like I previously pointed out, you are foolish to think that even one theory, especially a theory in the life-science arena, does not possess a single weakness. Shame on you!!

  • ScienceMinded says:

    Charles and Ben,

    This is nothing about religious beliefs. You might focus on staying on subject!! Your desire to attack religious beliefs is a lame attempt to divert the discussion away from the issue I am advocating — strengths and weaknesses. And Rocket Mike, thanks for being honest about why TFN and supporters won’t buy in to advocating both strengths and weaknesses. I still think it is best to embrace the teaching of both strengths and weaknesses. And like I said before, if a weakness has not been recognized and validated, then it shouldn’t be presented as part of the curriculum. Likewise for strengths.

    • TFN says:

      ScienceMinded writes: “if a weakness has not been recognized and validated, then it shouldn’t be presented as part of the curriculum.”

      Regarding evolution, none has been recognized or validated by science. But that hasn’t stopped evolution opponents from trying to reject textbooks that don’t include their phony “weaknesses” anyway. So it’s time to end this “strengths and weaknesses” charade.

  • Charles says:


    Ben and I have some questions for you. What denomination is your church? Are you a Biblical inerrantist who believes that the Bible contains perfectly accurate science and history? Do you believe that the many mainline Christian denominations such as the United Methodist Church, Episcopal Church, and Catholic Church are apostate? Is the authorized King James Version of the Bible the only true and really acceptable Bible?

    So far, you have refused to answer such questions. Personally, I think you have refused to answer them because the truth will totally undermine your storyline about being fairminded on the evolution “weaknesses” issue. And remember, Jesus does not want you to lie about it. To the best of my memory, there is no Biblical verse saying that lying is okay as long as it is for a “righteous” cause.

    Show some guts son or move on to another website.

  • ScienceMinded says:

    Rocket Mike, I still think it would be better for the science community to embrace the teaching of both strengths and weaknesses. If a weakness has not been recognized and validated, then it shouldn’t be presented as part of the curriculum. Likewise for strengths. I also believe a theory should be allowed to evolve. That would include the correction of misrepresentations, errors, as well as new evidence, whether supporting or nonsupporting.

  • Ben says:


    AP Newswire—In an appalling display of faulty logic and transparent motivations, a creationist known only as “ScienceMinded” continues to plague a popular Texas blog.

    “He’s using all the old tricks,” said a former creationist named Moe Fine. “For instance, he pretends to care about science, when in fact he only wants to further his religious agenda. He thinks nobody will notice that he’s totally ignorant about the workings of science, but he fails miserably, just like I used to in my own creationist days. Boy, was I a dolt back then.”

    Fine says that creationists such as ScienceMinded can be quite repetitive. “This particular guy is like a broken record. Strengths and weaknesses. Strengths and weaknesses. Of course, if you ask him to name a legitimate weakness, he can hardly form a coherent sentence. My brothers Larry and Shemp are more logical and rational, and they sometimes eat paste.”

    Moe Fine also warns of a practice known as morphing. “A fairly unintelligent creationist named Jeff was hanging around a few weeks back. He babbled and prattled and accomplished nothing, so it appears he decided to reinvent himself and take another shot at it. If anything, he’s even less intelligent this time around.”

  • Rocket Mike says:

    This fight over the use of the term “weaknesses” stems from the 2003 Texas textbook adoption sequence. Ken Miller was quoted as saying that all the textbooks under consideration at the time already covered the strengths and weaknesses of evolutionary theory in the sense that you seem to be trying to convey (or in the sense most ordinary citizens would use). However, the BLZ’s on the board then tried to use the “weakness” word as an excuse to try to reject textbooks that did not have their pet phony Creationist objections. They just didn’t have the votes. That is why the science community is adament about excluding that phraseology. Fool me once - shame on you, fool me twice - not a chance!

  • ScienceMinded says:

    Dear Charles,

    Your gift is deceiving you!! What your “gift” is telling you is really not my intent!! You know, I just recently stumbled on to TFN and I saw the posts about “strengths and weaknesses”. I just don’t see what is so bad about teaching both recognized strengths and weaknesses? I’m not trying to promote another agenda, really. I just truly believe that it would be best to teach kids (have you not heard it enough from me yet?) both the recognized strengths and weaknesses of theories presented in the classroom!!! AND, your root issue, which I believe is really based on your paranoia, is not my issue at all. Now don’t you guys think you are just really being stubborn? I’ll tell you, it certainly appears that way! And FYI, I don’t believe or support turning Texas science classrooms into kangaroo courts where religiously-motivated local school administrators and science teachers (egged on by local Christian fundamentalist parents) can stage a premeditated sham trial of evolution and have it burned at the stake before the 5th period bell rings. I believe that theories should stand, NOT fall, with both their recognized strengths and weaknesses. And like I pointed out before, and as PI Guy also pointed out, weaknesses don’t necessarily mean a theory is not useful. I do believe that extending theories to overcome weaknesses, just as Einstein and Maxwell did, can improve our overall understanding of natural and physical processes. Now is that so bad??

    To Rocket Mike: Come on Mike, I’m not using a play on words here. However, I agree with you, like I suggested in my last post, I don’t think the majority of the TFN bloggers really understand what a weakness is! How about we use this definition: A weakness is a deficiency. IN terms of a theory, a deficiency inadequately, or inaccurately, predicts the outcome of a process. Weaknesses can also be thought of as being insufficient or having limitations. Let’s not make it complicated. Overall, I think the concept of a weakness is pretty simple and straight forward to comprehend. Especially for anyone who claims to be anything beyond a pseudo-scientist. And don’t forget, not all limitations are that serious, but some are. I just truly think that our kids will be better off if they are presented with both the recognized strengths and weaknesses of all theories presented in the classroom.

    Frankly, I am surprised TFN supporters, who say they want to promote science, have such a difficult time in accepting and promoting both strengths and weaknesses. IN addition, I think it should also be taught, that just because a theory has a weakness, or limitation, or is inadequate, inaccurate, deficient, or insufficient in some way, doesn’t, in any way, mean the theory doesn’t convey valuable information!!!

    Most Truly, ScienceMinded

  • Rocket Mike says:

    ScienceMinded is obviously using a definition of weakness that no one else in the discussion is using, especially the one that the biblical literalist zealots on the SBOE have been known to use. The definition abused by the BLZ’s is the only one that counts in the current situation. They think that the same old debunked claptrap the Creationists, et al. have tried to use for years is real sciencey stuff that they can use to fool the general public. The scientific community is rightly opposing that usage of “weaknesses” because the BLZ bubbas tried use it to put 10 out of 12 biology texts up for adoption in 2003 on the disapproved list on the excuse that the books did not have those “weaknesses”.

    SM, start using the same definition as everyone else involved, go work on your GED, and don’t come back until you have your list of “weaknesses” and your GED.

  • Charles says:


    As has been said here on TFN in various times and in many ways, “weaknesses” are not the issue here. The ROOT issue is that religiously motivated members of the SBOE want to turn Texas science classrooms into kangaroo courts where religiously-motivated local school adminstrators and science teachers (egged on by local Christian fundamentalist parents) can stage a premeditated sham trial of evolution and have it burned at the stake before the 5th period bell rings. That is the fundamental fact at issue here, and you know it. This is deceit on your part plain and simple. In my opinion, this kind of deceit is a form of lying. With these other guys, you may be able to raise a camouflaging cloud of dust with assorted arguments about physics and various other aspects of science, but it does not fool me. My gift of the Holy Spirit is spiritual discernment. Things that are shaded and opaque to most people are transparent and crystal clear to me.

    Ben and Pi-Guy. Those were noble attempts no doubt. However, as you have noticed, whatever you say does not matter. All he has to do is stick to his position no matter what ideas or evidences are presented to him. The ensuing argument kicks up a mighty lot of verbal dust and fallout that camouflages the root issue. His ruse here is to get you to focus so hard on the trees and tiny plant sprigs on the ground beneath the trees that you forget that the big issue is the forest as a whole. He wants to suck you and the TFN readers into this black hole so the larger issue or root cause is lost in the swirl. To reiterate:

    “The ROOT issue is that religiously motivated members of the SBOE want to turn Texas science classrooms into kangaroo courts where religiously-motivated local school adminstrators and science teachers (egged on by local Christian fundamentalist parents) can stage a premeditated sham trial of evolution and have it burned at the stake before the 5th period bell rings. That is the fundamental fact at issue here.”

  • Ben says:

    AP Newswire——According to reports, it appears that Satan’s grip on the group of religious zealots known as creationists is growing stronger each day.

    Many Christians hold the belief that Satan can control an individual’s thoughts and actions, a theory made popular in the movie The Exorcist.

    “Could Satan manipulate the thoughts of a creationist?” asked Father Guido Sarducci. “Absolutely. Ol’ Mephisto is pretty crafty. If he wanted to make a person deny evolution, it wouldn’t be a problem.”

    As evidence, Sarducci points to the Texas Freedom Network blog, where rabid creationists are spewing their venom on a regular basis——and the problem seems to be growing.

    Sarducci says, “First there was only one regular creationist, a man named Fafarman. But lately a seriously misguided zealot known as ScienceMinded has been babbling all sorts of misinformation. It’s quite obvious that he is lying to promote an agenda. I hope he repents; otherwise, he will burn eternally in the fire of a thousand suns.”

    PZ Myers, a well-know evolutionary biologist, said, “Eternally is an awful long time.”

  • ScienceMinded says:

    Hey PI guy and TFNer’s,

    If you actually read what I wrote more closely, you will see that we are nearly in 100% agreement on the limitations of Newton’s “laws” and Ohm’s “law”. Your absolutely wrong, however, when you say that Newton’s laws are a subset of the Theory of Relativity or that Ohm’s law is a subset of Maxwell’s theory of electromagnetics. The correct statement is that Ohm’s law is a limiting case, not a subset, of Maxwell’s theory. Newton’s laws are limiting cases, not subsets, of Einstein’s theory of relativity. Obviously, you haven’t taken much math. I quoted the word law in reference to both Newton and Ohm because most soft scientists, such as yourselves, believe a law is even more powerful than a theory. The reality is, and always will be, that even Newton’s laws and Ohm’s law have recognized weaknesses. But, all you soft-science advocates don’t seem to have a clue as to what it means to be weak and are also clueless when you think that weaknesses do not have impacts. Newton’s laws do not accurately predict the motion of objects with speeds approaching the speed of light. For one, mass is a function of speed at those rates. That is indeed a weakness of Newton’s laws, which assumes the mass of an object remains constant at all speeds. You would be foolish to apply Newton’s laws under that condition, now wouldn’t you. The same for Ohm’s law at high frequencies. And, by the way PI guy, Ohm’s law still accurately describes the V-I relationships in AC circuits that are purely resistive. So yes, under the proper conditions, Ohm’s law and Newton’s laws are good approximations. Under improper conditions, the laws are weak!!! It’s OK, go ahead and admit it, the “laws” are weak under some conditions — even if those conditions don’t occur very often — they are still weak when the conditions don’t support their use. Just give it up you guys, even “Laws” have weaknesses. Just admit it. I won’t tease you too bad. Who will be the first brave soul to admit that theories have weaknesses and that even previously accepted scientific laws have weaknesses? That is the whole point I am trying to make here, that you are all working so hard at discrediting. It really does make you look arrogant and ignorant. ANd even though you would all like to think so, creationism really has nothing to do with advocating that both recognized strengths and weaknesses of scientific theories should be taught in our public schools. Science does!!!!!!! Come on now, I know really believe it, just admit it, don’t be ashamed!!!!!!!

    By the way, Not a single one of you has pointed out a single lie that you all so adamantly claim I’ve stated. I wonder why that is? I’ll give you a clue, it has something to do with your inability to distinguish the truth from a lie. That happens when you lie to yourself so often, that after awhile, they become exceedingly difficult to distinguish.

    And, I’ll pray for our Texas kids that the SBOE prevails in their current agenda — that both the recognized strengths and weaknesses of all theories taught in our public schools should be presented. You really should too!!!!!!!!

  • Ben says:

    It’s Pi Guy for the win!

  • Pi Guy says:

    March 21, 2009 at 9:33 pm, ScienceMinded says,

    “Just because a theory accurately predicts an experimental outcome, it doesn’t and shouldn’t, in any way, imply the theory is proven!!”

    March 22, 2009 at 10:25 am, ScienceMinded says,

    “So scientists don’t ever look for proof? You are obviously in a soft-science field if you are in a science field at all. Never forget, proof is extremely powerful. [emphases mine]

    March 21, 2009 at 9:05 pm, ScienceMinded says,

    “From my viewpoint, and many other scientists’ viewpoints, gaps do present themselves as weaknesses!!” [emphasis mine]

    March 21, 2009 at 10:11 pm, ScienceMinded says,

    Suppose we believe that God exists. Suppose God created the entire universe, all the elements in the universe, and life as we know it.” [emphasis mine]

    And later that same entry, ScienceMinded says,

    “I am an engineer, so it’s easy for me to think of the universe and everything in it as a system.” [emphasis mine]

    Goodness, where to start…

    How about proof. As an engineer, as you claim to be, you no doubt took some heavy duty math and science classes. In all that time, it is surprising that you’ve never heard the silly quote that “many other scientists” use whenever someone attempts to introduce the word proof into a scientific discussion: “Proof is for math and alcohol.” It has no bearing on the validity of a theory. In fact, you come close to getting it in the first statement that I’ve quoted above but just missed it. You are correct a theory correctly predicts the experimental outcome proves nothing. It does, however, support the posed hypothesis. And, unless or until experimental evidence turns up that does not support the hypothesis, it’s deemed valid and often useful. Otherwise, it’s in conforming to experimental findings that transitions a hypothesis to a theory. No proof needed. So, to answer your question, NO, scientists do not look for proof. They seek evidence that supports - or refutes - their hypothesis.

    Bad Logic. In an argument attempting to be valid, if just one single premise is not true, the argument falls apart and the conclusion is false. In my previous comment, I mentioned how all theories have limiting assumptions. Unfortunately, I overlooked your “Suppose we believe that God exists.” Wow. Just wow. You present an argument in which the first three premises are not true. Now, I’m not absolutely certain that any of them are conclusively false but they are all unfalsifiable and, therefore, they are not true. A dead end. If you’re interested, some guy named Aristotle wrote a whole bunch on this subject. You might want to read what he has to say.

    Pretending to be a scientist. You claim to be an engineer. I sincerely doubt it and, in support (note: not proof) of that assertion, I’ve noted that, not only do you not even understand some basic tenets of science, you seem to have missed out on some of the geeky humor so common amongst my science-educated friends. I was a physics major in college, have worked in the defense industry, and actually really truly know many people who studied science, math, and engineering in school and practice it in the workplace. And, invariably, whenever I’ve tried the “Proof is for math…” schtick on them, more of them then not smile and say, “Heard that already.” It’s common knowledge in science circles. Somehow you missed that. Again, that proves nothing but the evidence sure is strong that you’ve not really rubbed shoulders with many real scientists. And, in that same vein, it sounds pretty silly when you say “…and many other scientists…”, as if you’re actually one of them. But you say that you’re an engineer. Wouldn’t that make you EngineeringMinded? (Psssst… go read an article on evolutionary algorithms. They use them in all kinds of engineering fields. You’ve probably seen them in your wor… oh, wait. Never mind.)

    Gaps = Weaknesses? I think I’d pretty well dashed that to pieces already in my previous comment but, once again, that you must switch models (laws, theories) to account for impedance rather than resistance for circuits oscillating at sufficiently high frequencies is not an indication of any inherent weakness of Ohm’s Law’s. Ohm only claims to address problems of a limited scope. Likewise for evolution. Extrapolating the model back past the available data, as you know from being an engineer (?), one should indeed be cautious and scientists tend to avoid that pitfall. Predictions made outside the data envelope are not often reliable. Evolution is not a creation story it’ but, rather, a story about what happens to already-living things’ve changed over time. You’re not even fighting the right fight. But, since you seem to think that evolution is in conflict with less-than-scientific creation stories, that alone indicates that you’ve little idea of what the theory actually suggests. Evolution does not tell us how life began. That subject is known as abiogenesis. Perhaps you should find a site hosted by cosmic abiogenesis or Stanley Miller enthusiasts and troll there.

    Soft-sciences? Look, I’m not a shill for social science but let me try to explain how models work. In engineering, as you know (cough… BS…cough), the models - engineers tend to refer to them as formulas; I don’t know what you call them - that are used to solve problems are always being applied within their presumptive limits and, as a result, they tend to yield results which match very neatly with what we see when the design comes to fruition. It’s a very, very strong correlation. This is called determinism. However, when a sociologist says that there is a correlation between a child’s socio-economic status and the likelihood that they’ll complete a college degree, it doesn’t mean that 100% of the children below the poverty line should just give up hope of a white collar career. (It’s a good thing that cardiologist Ben Carson didn’t.) At any rate, “soft”-sciences might not be strongly deterministic but they do work - ie: they give us some tools for making predictions and choosing appropriate interventions - because they take advantage of the scientific method: observe, sense a pattern, design an experiment or study to see if the pattern holds, observe lots more, draw a conclusion. In science, that conclusion is called a theory. You’re familiar with the scientific method, aren’t you? Oh, that’s right - you’re an engineer. Of course you are. Perhaps you’ve just chosen to ignore it when it doesn’t produce the results to wish you’d prefer to cling.

    I’ll give you some credit, at least. You’ve thus far managed to avoid the standard creationist canard about evolution violating the Second Law of Thermodynamics. If you are thinking of going there, I’ll give you a hint: closed system. And, as an engineer, you know all about systems - right?

  • Pi Guy says:

    @ ScienceMinded:

    While you might be ScienceMinded you are clearly not ScienceEducated. Let me help you out with your false analogies of the limits of Newton’s and Ohm’s Laws and comparing them to “teaching both theories”.

    You are absolutely correct that when mass or velocity reach extremes that Newton’s Laws give way to Special Relativity. However, below those limits, Newton’s Laws still predict (that is, they tell us what to expect in a situation when the salient variable values, mass and velocity, are known) the behavior of baseballs, cars, rockets, and even electrons moving at, say, 1/5 the speed of light quite sufficiently. Likewise, Ohm’s Law is more than sufficient to predict (there’s that word again…) the voltage-current relationship in electric circuits from flashlights to the entire wire harness system in a car’s engine. And, again, you’re correct that when the frequencies reach some high-end limit, Ohm gives way to Maxwell. But still, Ohm and Newton are very good models when applied in the appropriate circumstances.

    Maxwell and Einstein give us what we need to make more accurate predictions (uh, oh - I detect a pattern) than Ohm and Newton even in the macroscopic world but it comes at a cost that you also correctly note: more complicated mathematics. But applying Special Relativity to the problem of figuring out how far a car will skid on a wet road is like killing a fly with a baseball bat. It still works. Typically, though, it’s not worth the effort just to make a prediction that eliminates a few additional thousandths of a per cent error. So, in most cases, it’s worthwhile to sacrifice the accuracy and use the “weaker” theories of Newton and Ohm. And, since you’re really no scientist, I put the word in quotes to indicate that there’s nothing weak about them at all (I just wanted to explain that because I was afraid that you wouldn’t be able to detect the irony that I intended).

    Now, back to analogies. What you don’t know (oh, yes - I’m confident that you are completely unaware of how science works) is that Newton’s Laws can be derived from the equations governing Special Relativity. In other words, Newton’s Laws are a subset of laws of Special Relativity. They’re not independent of each other in any way. The same goes for Ohm’s Law and Maxwell’s Eqs. That’s why when they’re applied, within their limiting assumptions, to real-world (you’ve been to the real-world - haven’t you?) problems they yield similar - but not identical - results. But the same cannot be said for any non-scientific (that is, make believe) alternative to the theory of evolution.

    In no way is any form of creationism a subset of evolution. It predicts NOTHING, not at any scale. It explains NOTHING. It predicts NOTHING. It has no limiting assumptions other than that some omnipotent agent be present to start it all off. Evolution, OTOH, has made validated predictions about living things that are too numerous to cite here (yes - even the fossils of transitional form!). And while the theory of evolution, even as it stands currently, has its own set of limiting assumptions, it turns out that those assumptions are statements about things which are evident in nature. Translation: the assumptions are fact gleaned from the real-world. The Theory of Evolution does not predict every phenomena that we observe in nature but that doesn’t make it weak anymore than the discovery of sub-atomic particles make Newton’s Laws of Motion weak. They’re just incomplete.

    “I don’t think it would take me too long to discover some weaknesses in the theory.”

    You’ve failed to notice the weakness in your own argument and you think that you can identify weaknesses in a theory of which you’re so clearly not knowledgeable? Puh-lease! Take a freaking biology class and, if you’ve already done so, pay attention this time! To paraphrase Wittgenstein, “Whereof you know nothing, shut up!” I suggest that that’d be good advise for Mr. McLean and Ms. Leo as well.

    Now, if I was a regular here I might call “Troll” and say that your sciency-sounding name is an attempt to make you think that you’re smart or educated. But there’s no need. It’s clear that no one who’s commented before me fell for your charade either. You know why? Because people who appreciate the methods and value of science can smell someone like you even through the ether. It would be much the same as if I went to AnswersInGenisis.org and used the name ReligionMinded while trying to stir the pot. They’d call me out and, as is routinely the policy on so many of your favorite pro-religion sites, my comments would be stricken and, if I persisted in asserting true thing, I’d be banned.

    You’re apparently free to share your thoughts and feelings. The down-side - well, for you, at least - is that you will be forced to confront evidence and arguments for which you are completely at a loss to counter. I’ll give you some credit, though. In a battle of wits, it is awfully brave of you to enter unarmed.

  • Charles says:

    Thank you Rocket Mike. You are absolutely correct about C-14 dating—something that I have occasion to use from time to time in my own research. It can also be used to date iron artifacts that contain carbon used in the smelting process. I am very surprised that ScienceMinded was not aware of this.

  • Rocket Mike says:

    ScienceMinded said, “Even though the carbon-dating evidence suggests that life began on earth more than 2-billion years ago, it is a big mistake to accept that as fact/proof.” at 10:11 pm, March 21, 2009.

    It is obvious that SM does not realize how ignorant he/she is about science. Any fool with a passing grade in high school biology has to know that carbon-dating only used to date things to a little over 50,000 years, and then it is only used on life forms. Dates for the earliest detectable life were determined by dating the rocks where the fossil evidence was found using several independant methods appropriate for the age of the rocks.

    SM you too can learn about science, if you care to study it. Remember though, ignorance is curable - stupidity and most cases of willful ignorance are not. Come back and talk to us when you have the equivalent of a high school education in science.

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