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How the Anti-Evolution Debate Has Evolved
History News Network ^ | 20 December 2005 | Charles A. Israel

Posted on 12/30/2005 2:29:22 PM PST by PatrickHenry

In this last month of the year, when many Americans' thoughts are turning to holidays -- and what to call them -- we may miss another large story about the intersections of religion and public life. Last week a federal appeals court in Atlanta listened to oral arguments about a sticker pasted, and now removed, from suburban Cobb County, Georgia’s high school science textbooks warning that evolution is a "theory, not a fact." The three-judge panel will take their time deciding the complex issues in the case. But on Tuesday, a federal district court in Pennsylvania ruled the Dover Area ( Penn.) School Board’s oral disclaimers about scientific evolution to be an unconstitutional establishment of religion. The school district's statement to students and parents directed them to an "alternative" theory, that of Intelligent Design (ID); the court ruled found "that ID is nothing less than the progeny of creationism." (Kitzmiller opinion, p. 31.) Apparently in a case about evolution, genealogical metaphors are unavoidable.

Seemingly every news story about the modern trials feels it necessary to refer to the 1925 Tennessee Monkey Trial, the clash of the larger-than-life legal and political personalities of William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow in the prosecution of high school teacher John Scopes for teaching evolution in violation of state law. As an historian who has written about evolution, education, and the era of the Scopes trial, I will admit the continuities between 1925 and today can seem striking. But, these continuities are deceiving. Though the modern court challenges still pit scientists supporting evolution against some parents, churches, and others opposing its unchallenged place in public school curriculum; the changes in the last eighty years seem even stronger evidence for a form of legal or cultural evolution.

First, the continuities. In the late 19th century religious commentators like the southern Methodist editor and professor Thomas O. Summers, Sr. loved to repeat a little ditty: "When doctors disagree,/ disciples then are free" to believe what they wanted about science and the natural world. Modern anti-evolutionists, most prominently under the sponsorship of Seattle's Discovery Institute, urge school boards to "teach the controversy" about evolution, purposefully inflating disagreements among scientists about the particulars of evolutionary biology into specious claims that evolutionary biology is a house of cards ready to fall at any time. The court in the Dover case concluded that although there were some scientific disagreements about evolutionary theory, ID is "an untestable alternative hypothesis grounded in religion" not science. In a second continuity, supporters of ID reach back, even before Darwin, to the 19th century theology of William Paley, who pointed to intricate structures like the human eye as proof of God's design of humans and the world. Though many ID supporters are circumspect about the exact identity of the intelligent designer, it seems unlikely that the legions of conservative Christian supporters of ID are assuming that Martians, time-travelers, or extra-terrestrial meatballs could be behind the creation and complexity of their world.

While these issues suggest that the Scopes Trial is still relevant and would seem to offer support for the statement most often quoted to me by first year history students on why they should study history -- because it repeats itself -- this new act in the drama shows some remarkable changes. Arguing that a majority of parents in any given state, acting through legislatures, could outlaw evolution because it contradicted their religious beliefs, William Jennings Bryan campaigned successfully in Tennessee and several other states to ban the teaching of evolution and to strike it from state-adopted textbooks.

Legal challenges to the Tennessee law never made it to the federal courts, but the constitutional hurdles for anti-evolutionists grew higher in 1968, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Epperson v. Arkansas. that an Arkansas law very similar to the Tennessee statute was an unconstitutional establishment of religion. The law's purpose, the court found, was expressly religious. So anti-evolution was forced to evolve, seeking a new form more likely to pass constitutional muster. Enter Creation Science, a movement that added scientific language to the book of Genesis, and demanded that schools provide "equal time" to both Creation Science and biological evolution. Creation Science is an important transitional fossil of the anti-evolution movement, demonstrating two adaptations: first, the adoption of scientific language sought to shield the religious purpose of the statute and second, the appeal to an American sense of fairness in teaching both sides of an apparent controversy. The Supreme Court in 1987 found this new evolution constitutionally unfit, overturning a Louisiana law (Edwards v. Aguillard).

Since the 1987 Edwards v Aguillard decision, the anti-evolution movement has attempted several new adaptations, all of which show direct ties to previous forms. The appeal to public opinion has grown: recent national opinion polls reveal that nearly two-thirds of Americans (and even higher numbers of Alabamians) support teaching both scientific evolution and creationism in public schools. School board elections and textbook adoption battles show the strength of these arguments in a democratic society. The new variants have been far more successful at clothing themselves in the language -- but not the methods -- of science. Whether by rewriting state school standards to teach criticisms of scientific evolution (as in Ohio or Kansas) or in written disclaimers to be placed in school textbooks (as in Alabama or Cobb County, Georgia) or in the now discredited oral disclaimers of the Dover Area School Board, the religious goal has been the same: by casting doubt on scientific evolution, they hope to open room to wedge religion back into public school curricula. [Discovery Institute's "Wedge Project".] But as the court in yesterday's Dover case correctly concluded, Intelligent Design is "an untestable alternative hypothesis grounded in religion" not science. Old arguments of a religious majority, though still potent in public debate, have again proven constitutionally unfit; Creationists and other anti-evolutionists will now have to evolve new arguments to survive constitutional tests.


About the author: Mr. Israel is Associate Professor of History at Auburn University and author of Before Scopes: Evangelicals, Education, and Evolution in Tennessee, 1870–1925 (University of Georgia Press, 2004).


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: crevolist; scienceeducation
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This article is ten days old, but it's by an historian, and it's a very good look at the history of the evolution-creationism-intelligent design controversy.

Bold, underlining, and links added by me.

1 posted on 12/30/2005 2:29:25 PM PST by PatrickHenry
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To: VadeRetro; Junior; longshadow; RadioAstronomer; Doctor Stochastic; js1138; Shryke; RightWhale; ...
Evolution Ping

The List-O-Links
A conservative, pro-evolution science list, now with over 330 names.
See the list's explanation, then FReepmail to be added or dropped.
To assist beginners: But it's "just a theory", Evo-Troll's Toolkit,
and How to argue against a scientific theory.

2 posted on 12/30/2005 2:30:47 PM PST by PatrickHenry (Virtual Ignore for trolls, lunatics, dotards, common scolds, & incurable ignoramuses.)
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To: PatrickHenry
If the debate has evolved, then why are there still retarded arguments that keep getting rehashed after repeated debunking?

"Why are there still monkeys?"

3 posted on 12/30/2005 2:34:55 PM PST by M203M4
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To: PatrickHenry
Let me get it started...

B1

D9!

and A9!...and A3...and B6!

Also C7 and C1!

4 posted on 12/30/2005 2:40:12 PM PST by MRMEAN (Better living through nuclear explosives)
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To: All
He's referring to the Evolution Troll's Toolkit.
5 posted on 12/30/2005 2:41:58 PM PST by PatrickHenry (Virtual Ignore for trolls, lunatics, dotards, common scolds, & incurable ignoramuses.)
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To: PatrickHenry

Evolutionitis (aka Darwinian pathology): so many problems..so much EVO stubborness...so little willingness to self examine.

http://www.godandscience.org/evolution/evolprob.html


6 posted on 12/30/2005 2:47:16 PM PST by eleni121 ('Thou hast conquered, O Galilean!' (Julian the Apostate))
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To: M203M4
"Why are there still monkeys?"

So Peter Jackson can make movies about them

7 posted on 12/30/2005 2:49:16 PM PST by Oztrich Boy (Free Speech is not for everyone, If you don't like it, then don't use it)
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To: PatrickHenry
I have decided I want to start the "Intelligent Evolution" school.

The hypothesis for my new scientific theory is the premise the Democrats refuse to evolve past the mentality of an adolescent and therefore only intelligent people move on to be Republicans.
8 posted on 12/30/2005 2:51:48 PM PST by msnimje (The World has a hideous and invasive cancer and needs a radical muslimechtomy.)
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To: M203M4
"Why are there still monkeys?"

So Michael Jackson can get a little chimp lovin' when there are no kiddies available?

9 posted on 12/30/2005 2:54:10 PM PST by peyton randolph (<a href="http://clinton.senate.gov/">shrew</a>)
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To: PatrickHenry

I'd like to see a scientific study to discover the origins of Symphony #40 in G Minor.

Of course, to ensure the science is preserved in its entirety, we must assume from the onset that there was no composer involved.


10 posted on 12/30/2005 2:54:54 PM PST by ThomasNast
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To: MRMEAN

BINGO!


11 posted on 12/30/2005 2:59:02 PM PST by furball4paws (The new elixir of life - dehydrated toad urine.)
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To: MRMEAN
Let me get it started...

B1

D9!

and A9!...and A3...and B6!

Also C7 and C1!

BINGO!!!

12 posted on 12/30/2005 2:59:55 PM PST by grey_whiskers (The opinions are solely those of the author and are subject to change without notice.)
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Comment #13 Removed by Moderator

To: ThomasNast

He stold it from Salieri.


14 posted on 12/30/2005 3:01:33 PM PST by furball4paws (The new elixir of life - dehydrated toad urine.)
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To: LibraryofBabel

I am pointing out that to be scientific does NOT necessarily mean you start with eliminating some possibilities.

When Newton studied science, he believed he was studying God's universe (granted -- that IS a bias).

But if God did create the universe, not allowing that as a possibilty is automatically eliminating the truth.

That's what the analogy is stating. If you eliminate the idea of a composer so you can perform a study on purely scientific merits, you will not come up with the right answer.


15 posted on 12/30/2005 3:06:45 PM PST by ThomasNast
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To: LibraryofBabel

This is begging the question. A "reproducing self-organizing biological" system is or is not the product of a mind.


16 posted on 12/30/2005 3:11:18 PM PST by Undivided Heart
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To: ThomasNast
But if God did create the universe, not allowing that as a possibilty is automatically eliminating the truth.

Which "God", and why should any divine agents be assumed from the beginning?
17 posted on 12/30/2005 3:11:25 PM PST by Dimensio (http://angryflower.com/bobsqu.gif <-- required reading before you use your next apostrophe!)
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To: PatrickHenry

You need to add the "Can't be science if not in the lab" and then when natural speciation is repeated in the lab say "well, that's intelligent design because it was intentionally done in a lab."

(Most recently this occurred when referencing the 100 year project of the English re-creation of the natural speciation of wild Kale into broccli, asparagus, cabbage, and several other already existant species.)


18 posted on 12/30/2005 3:12:14 PM PST by MeanWestTexan (Many at FR would respond to Christ "Darn right, I'll cast the first stone!")
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To: PatrickHenry

Oh, and then the fall back of "Well, those are all just plants.

"Macro evolution" is a change from a plant to an animal" (or somesuch).


19 posted on 12/30/2005 3:13:30 PM PST by MeanWestTexan (Many at FR would respond to Christ "Darn right, I'll cast the first stone!")
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To: PatrickHenry

Seems to be nothing more than a puff piece on the wishful thinking of an evolutionist. ID isn't going anywhere. Evolution is in serious trouble and the author seems to be hoping ID would go away. Sleep peacefully libs and evokooks.
Smaug will get you in the end.. rofl.


20 posted on 12/30/2005 3:16:42 PM PST by Havoc (President George and King George.. coincidence?)
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To: ThomasNast

Yes, eliminating possible alternative explanations beforehand is wrong.

That's why I know you'll agree with me that the "MARTIANS-ACTUALLY-CREATED-US" theory must be taught as well, along with Evolution and Intelligent Design.

After all, there's no way to disprove it, so it's just as valid as well, right?


21 posted on 12/30/2005 3:19:15 PM PST by canuck_conservative
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To: Dimensio

Does it matter? If it's reasonable to believe that all the stuff of the universe always existed, I don't think there's a great leap from there to the belief that a Mind that always existed created the universe.


22 posted on 12/30/2005 3:21:18 PM PST by Undivided Heart
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To: PatrickHenry
I am unaware of any Anti-evolutionary debate per-se just debates by various proponents each espousing their own particular view... I.E. creationism, evolution, or intelligent design (forgive me if I left anyone's out). Virulent objections by any of the aforementioned parties of the first part does not entitle them to dismiss the parties of the second part as being merely Anti their position with no conviction or evidence supporting another view.
23 posted on 12/30/2005 3:21:31 PM PST by MrEdd
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To: PatrickHenry

I wonder how much of this would go away if kids were allowed to study religion in school as an elective?

I send my kids to a Christian School were Evolution in taught in the Science class and they learn about the Creator in Religion.

It's just no big deal when Science and Religion both have a voice.


24 posted on 12/30/2005 3:22:22 PM PST by FormerLib (Kosova: "land stolen from Serbs and given to terrorist killers in a futile attempt to appease them.")
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To: PatrickHenry

How about the Creationism vs Physics debate ? Creationism vs Astrology ? Geology ? Oceonography ?

Because before the first single cell organism existed the universe, galaxy, solar system, planet, and ocean needed to exist and creationism hasn't even come with a compelling explanation of these events, never mind anything else.

Or do creationists accept people who are expert in these branches of science have the most plausible explanations ?


25 posted on 12/30/2005 3:25:17 PM PST by Axlrose
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To: canuck_conservative

The Martians All Created Us theory could work if we were only talking about who or what created/formed us. It fails to explain the existance of other created things we see, like the universe.


26 posted on 12/30/2005 3:26:22 PM PST by Undivided Heart
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To: FormerLib

I don't have a problem with that-the problem is when creationists try to push their views as legitimate science.


27 posted on 12/30/2005 3:28:10 PM PST by WestVirginiaRebel (The Democratic Party-Jackass symbol, jackass leaders, jackass supporters.)
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To: Undivided Heart
Does it matter?

Given that humans have worshipped thousands of deities -- many of them mutually exclusive -- throughout recorded history, yes.

If it's reasonable to believe that all the stuff of the universe always existed, I don't think there's a great leap from there to the belief that a Mind that always existed created the universe.

The "stuff of the universe" is directly observable. How can we observe or even infer this "Mind"?
28 posted on 12/30/2005 3:30:44 PM PST by Dimensio (http://angryflower.com/bobsqu.gif <-- required reading before you use your next apostrophe!)
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To: WestVirginiaRebel
I don't have a problem with that-the problem is when creationists try to push their views as legitimate science.

You mean those luddites like Gregor Mendel and Georges Lemaitre?

29 posted on 12/30/2005 3:34:13 PM PST by jwalsh07
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To: Undivided Heart

Get real - we're talking about evolution, which talks about terrestrial life and has nothing to do with how the rest of the universe was created.

The "Martians Created Us" theory has the exact same amount of hard evidence backing it up as Intelligent Design does - absolutely nothing.

So if you can accept ID without any evidence, then surely you can accept the MCU theory as equally plausible, yes?

To do otherwise would suggest bias.


30 posted on 12/30/2005 3:37:58 PM PST by canuck_conservative
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To: MeanWestTexan
You need to add the "Can't be science if not in the lab" and then when natural speciation is repeated in the lab say "well, that's intelligent design because it was intentionally done in a lab."

D-12 is the first part of it. The rest of it just doesn't fit into a small grid. Besides, I'm avoiding Arthur Clarke's Nine Billion Names of God scenario. I've got to leave some out so we still have debates.

31 posted on 12/30/2005 3:41:12 PM PST by PatrickHenry (Virtual Ignore for trolls, lunatics, dotards, common scolds, & incurable ignoramuses.)
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To: ThomasNast
"Of course, to ensure the science is preserved in its entirety, we must assume from the onset that there was no composer involved."

No need to make such an assumption. This matter differs from creationism/ID because in this matter we actually have hard evidence of a composer.

32 posted on 12/30/2005 3:50:57 PM PST by muir_redwoods (Free Sirhan Sirhan, after all, the bastard who killed Mary Jo Kopechne is walking around free)
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To: muir_redwoods

As soon as you take such evidence that DOES point to a composer and claim that must be the answer, then you are violating the premise from the onset that no composer be used to explain the origin of the piece.

Then you will be subjected to a lot of alternate arguments and how unscientific you are being.



33 posted on 12/30/2005 3:56:33 PM PST by ThomasNast
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To: M203M4

The C/E debate is a counterbalance to the Global Warming debate on a different level. In one case science is being abused and in the other it is being used appropriately. But, which is which and by whom?


34 posted on 12/30/2005 3:58:13 PM PST by RightWhale (pas de lieu, Rhone que nous)
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To: ThomasNast
"As soon as you take such evidence that DOES point to a composer and claim that must be the answer, then you are violating the premise from the onset that no composer be used to explain the origin of the piece. Then you will be subjected to a lot of alternate arguments and how unscientific you are being."

I've deduced that there is no point in discussing this with you as we have no common ground for discussion.

35 posted on 12/30/2005 4:01:03 PM PST by muir_redwoods (Free Sirhan Sirhan, after all, the bastard who killed Mary Jo Kopechne is walking around free)
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To: ThomasNast
As soon as you take such evidence that DOES point to a composer and claim that must be the answer, then you are violating the premise from the onset that no composer be used to explain the origin of the piece.

At this point your analogy falls apart, as science has no such assumption when invesitgating the origins of either life or the cosmos.
36 posted on 12/30/2005 4:01:20 PM PST by Dimensio (http://angryflower.com/bobsqu.gif <-- required reading before you use your next apostrophe!)
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To: MeanWestTexan

On reflection, if I can get a few more, I'll add another line to the toolkit. One will be: "Lab work proves ID." Another candidate is: "But it's still a mammal!"


37 posted on 12/30/2005 4:02:30 PM PST by PatrickHenry (Virtual Ignore for trolls, lunatics, dotards, common scolds, & incurable ignoramuses.)
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To: eleni121

"so little willingness to self examine."

OMG! An artificial intelligent iBot of God has been developed!

http://www.alicebot.org/


iGod Tops the Charts
This is the URL for God: http://www.titane.ca/concordia/dfar251/igod/

For the past several weeks, the most popular bot on Pandorabots, perhaps the most popular chat bot in the world, has been the iGod Virtual Machine. With a beautiful Flash Interface and a more or less standard clone of ALICE running on Pandorabots (the personality seems to differ only by the botmaster having changed the bot properties), this bot appears to have gathered a huge fan following.


38 posted on 12/30/2005 4:09:19 PM PST by phantomworker (It is no good to try to stop knowledge from going forward. Ignorance is never better than knowledge.)
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To: MeanWestTexan
Okay, I've expanded the Evolution Troll's Toolkit. D-12 and D-13 are what you want (D-13 is new). Also new is C-14. We still have two available spots in line 14.
39 posted on 12/30/2005 4:12:03 PM PST by PatrickHenry (Virtual Ignore for trolls, lunatics, dotards, common scolds, & incurable ignoramuses.)
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To: PatrickHenry
Because everyone that diasgrees with me is a troll!
40 posted on 12/30/2005 4:19:31 PM PST by Gribbles141
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To: PatrickHenry

WELL... THIS THREAD WENT TO HELL IN A handbasket in a hurry, didn't it?


41 posted on 12/30/2005 4:38:38 PM PST by King Prout (many accuse me of being overly literal... this would not be a problem if many were not under-precise)
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To: Undivided Heart
The Martians All Created Us theory could work if we were only talking about who or what created/formed us. It fails to explain the existance of other created things we see, like the universe.

Please present your evidence which supports the conclusion that the Universe is a "created thing". We'll wait.

42 posted on 12/30/2005 4:42:01 PM PST by Ichneumon
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To: King Prout

It's still early yet. LOL!


43 posted on 12/30/2005 4:43:09 PM PST by phantomworker (It is no good to try to stop knowledge from going forward. Ignorance is never better than knowledge.)
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To: ThomasNast
As soon as you take such evidence that DOES point to a composer and claim that must be the answer, then you are violating the premise from the onset that no composer be used to explain the origin of the piece.

There is no such premise in science, or evolutionary biology, and thus your attempted analogy falls flat on its uninformed face.

Please stop misrepresenting the nature of the "ID controversy". At the very least, read all of the Kitzmiller decision for a good primer on the topic, to bring you up to speed on the background.

Hint: Methodological naturalism is not the same as philosophical naturalism.

44 posted on 12/30/2005 4:45:32 PM PST by Ichneumon
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To: jwalsh07; WestVirginiaRebel
[I don't have a problem with that-the problem is when creationists try to push their views as legitimate science.]

You mean those luddites like Gregor Mendel and Georges Lemaitre?

Clue for those lacking a clue: Neither were pushing unsupported creationist views as science, they were doing actual science, based on actual evidence the actual scientific method. The "IDers" are not.

45 posted on 12/30/2005 4:48:43 PM PST by Ichneumon
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To: King Prout

I don't have any dog in this fight and don't know much about the arguments on either side, but why would any ID proponent object to the "Martians Created Us" argument. Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't ID supposed to leave the question of what the intelligence is open?


46 posted on 12/30/2005 5:01:45 PM PST by oneofmany (ACLU -- Foundation of the Fifth Column)
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To: Ichneumon
Two more laws of creationism:
When a Christian does good science, that proves creationism.
But when Aristotle, Archimedes, Eratosthenes, etc. do good science, that doesn't rebound to the credit of the Olympian gods.
47 posted on 12/30/2005 5:09:51 PM PST by PatrickHenry (Virtual Ignore for trolls, lunatics, dotards, common scolds, & incurable ignoramuses.)
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To: PatrickHenry
AS long as we have a thread about the Dover Decision, please allow me to be impertinent and post something from the actual decision:

On cross-examination, Professor Behe admitted that: "There are no peer reviewed articles by anyone advocating for intelligent design supported by pertinent experiments or calculations which provide detailed rigorous accounts of how intelligent design of any biological system occurred." (22:22-23 (Behe)).
[emphasis added]

ID doesn't even get out of the starting gate as a scientific theory; it is unfalsifiable in the general sense, and has no body of peer-reviewed science supporting it with positive evidence.

48 posted on 12/30/2005 5:14:12 PM PST by longshadow
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To: longshadow
O horrible man! I pity you. You will eventually learn the truth, but it will be too late. I'll be laughing!
</creationism mode>
49 posted on 12/30/2005 5:18:40 PM PST by PatrickHenry (Virtual Ignore for trolls, lunatics, dotards, common scolds, & incurable ignoramuses.)
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To: M203M4

you're right, the evolutionists need to give it up.

they have been proven wrong each time they open their mouth.


50 posted on 12/30/2005 5:28:12 PM PST by RaceBannon ((Prov 28:1 KJV) The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.)
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