June 14, 2005
More anti-evolution madness
You may have noticed that wingnut anti-evolutionists have been making headway in schools across such enlightened states as Kansas, Ohio, Georgia and Utah. Their logic is usually pretty sublime:
Sen. Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan, plans to lead the fight for instruction of divine design in Utah public schools. He wants to defuse some of the expected controversy by avoiding the term “creationism” altogether.
Instead, he favors “divine design,” sometimes called “intelligent design,” which “doesn’t preach religion,” he said. “The only people who will be upset about this are atheists.”
“The divine design is a counter to the kids’ belief that we all come from monkeys. Because we didn’t,’’ said the conservative Republican and retired director of a private school for troubled boys. “It shocks me that our schools are teaching evolution as fact.”
Buttars doesn’t disregard evolution completely, rather he believes God is the creator, but His creations have evolved within their own species. “We get different types of dogs and different types of cats, but you have never seen a ‘dat,’” he said.
Well you can’t argue with that, although The Carpetbagger Report does its best:
Of all the dumb things Christian fundamentalists say about evolution — and they say many dumb things about it — perhaps the dumbest is a line like this: “We didn’t come from monkeys!”
When anti-evolutionists say this, it proves they have no understanding of what the theory of evolution teaches. It is next to impossible to take their criticisms seriously, when it’s obvious they don’t understand the thing they are criticizing.
Let’s be clear: Monkeys did not turn into people. Evolution does not say they did. Evolution says that apes and humans shared a common ancestor. At some point in the distant past — about six to eight million years ago — there was a split, one branch leading to today’s apes, the other to human beings.
The close relationship between apes and humans is beyond dispute. Chimpanzees are our closest living relatives. They share 95 percent of our DNA. Chimps are more closely related to humans than they are to some other apes.
There are now challenges to the teaching of evolution in around 40 states or local school districts, all of them backed by wingnuts or extreme-right hate groups. And it’s not just in schools: last week the Park and Recreation Board of Tulsa, Oklahoma voted 3-1 to approve a display depicting the biblical account of creation at the Tulsa Zoo.
Frustrated, the National Academies—which comprise the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine and National Research Council—have, uh, created an excellent evolution-resources Web site. This is kinda belated—the National Academies have been fighting the wingnuts on this issue for years—but it has everything you’ll ever need to counter anti-evolutionist insanity. If you have kids, make sure their teachers are aware of it.
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