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Evolution foes facing setback
San Antonio Express News ^ | 3/27/09 | Gary Scharrer

Posted on 03/27/2009 6:23:20 AM PDT by laotzu

AUSTIN — The State Board of Education gave a nearly-final nod to new science curriculum standards Thursday that would change a long-standing Texas tradition over how schoolchildren learn about evolution.

The tentative vote — a final one is expected today — will mean teachers and students no longer will be expected to discuss the “strengths and weaknesses” of evolution and the theory about the origin of life developed by Charles Darwin 150 years ago.

The move is a setback for critics of evolution, who argued that teachers and students should have to analyze the “strengths and weaknesses” of evolution — a standard that has been a part of Texas school science standards for 20 years.

But the argument over how to teach evolution continues, with final votes today on several amendments that some scientists say seek to cast doubt on evolution.

One asks students to evaluate fossil types, as some contend gaps in fossil records create scientific evidence against universal common descent. Another questions “natural selection.”

Scientists are working on Rick Agosto, D-San Antonio, in an effort to switch his votes on the amendments. He voted with the social conservatives on the amendments, though he ultimately sided with scientists on the “strengths and weaknesses” issue. The vote was 7-7; eight votes were needed to restore it.

Mary Helen Berlanga, D-Corpus Christi, who missed Thursday's hearing, is expected to participate in the final vote.

“If you can't attack evolution through strengths and weaknesses, talk about the insufficiency of natural selection. We see this in other states. This is what creationists are doing — is attacking evolution,” said Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education.

Scientists and more than 50 national and state science organizations urged the 15-member board Thursday not to include references “to creationist-fabricated ‘weaknesses' or other attempts to undermine instruction on evolution.”

Many scientists contend basic evolutionary theory at the high school level has no weaknesses, and to suggest it does would confuse students.

However, Ken Mercer, R-San Antonio, fought to restore the “strengths and weaknesses” clause, which board-appointed science experts removed from the proposed standards. The board's seven social conservative members supported that effort but fell one vote short.

Not all scientists agree about evolution, Mercer argued.

“There are questions about evolution. ... There are weaknesses,” he said.

Darwin's theory of evolution posits that all life is descended from a common ancestor.

The theory is not without its critics. Darwinists try to conceal some of the weaknesses and fallacies of evolution theory, said Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands.

“They are not the sole possessors of truth. Our schoolchildren belong to the parents, and they want their children educated,” she said. “They don't want them indoctrinated with one side. They know that evolution has weaknesses.”

The new science curriculum standards will take effect in the 2010-2011 school year and last a decade.

The standards will influence new science textbooks, not only for Texas but also for most other states. Publishers, considering the volume, typically duplicate textbooks used by Texas schools. About 4.6 million students attend K-12 grades in Texas public schools.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events; US: Texas
KEYWORDS: affirmativeaction; commonsenseprevails; fairnessdoctrine; headsexplodingatdi; idjunkscience; intelligentdesign; junkscience; oldearthspeculation; piltdownman
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Genuine science, by definition, must be questioned. Dogma must not.

The 'experts' agree. Much like global warming, evolution is not science.

1 posted on 03/27/2009 6:23:20 AM PDT by laotzu
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To: laotzu
The tentative vote — a final one is expected today — will mean teachers and students no longer will be expected to discuss the “strengths and weaknesses” of evolution and the theory about the origin of life developed by Charles Darwin 150 years ago.

This is supposed to be a good thing for education? Good grief.

2 posted on 03/27/2009 6:36:18 AM PDT by MEGoody (Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.)
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To: laotzu

evolutionism is a secular humanist religion....dogma that is ENFORCED on school children.....disgusting....


3 posted on 03/27/2009 6:38:05 AM PDT by raygunfan
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To: laotzu

Yep. What’s wrong with some debate in the classroom? Do the evos really want to steal taxpayer’s money and give them no say on what gets taught to their kids? Of course, my kids aren’t going to learn about the supposed “strengths” of that idiotic religion of evolutionary. But I will have to pay for other kids to learn it despite the first amendment.


4 posted on 03/27/2009 6:39:24 AM PDT by demshateGod (The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.)
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To: MEGoody

All fields of science must be considered equal (i.e. the evil-spirit theory of disease, the flat-earth theory of geography, the Ptolemaic theory of astronomy, etc must get equal time with creationism).


5 posted on 03/27/2009 6:41:37 AM PDT by steve-b (Intelligent design is to evolutionary biology what socialism is to free-market economics.)
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To: laotzu

Sigh - the new Dark Ages are upon us, when the religious fanatics will be burning intellectuals in the streets, and all thought will be banned.

/obvious sarcasm


6 posted on 03/27/2009 6:41:59 AM PDT by Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus (True nobility is exempt from fear - Marcus Tullius Cicero)
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To: demshateGod
What’s wrong with some debate in the classroom?

Then you support teaching the evil-spirit theory of disease, etc.

7 posted on 03/27/2009 6:42:42 AM PDT by steve-b (Intelligent design is to evolutionary biology what socialism is to free-market economics.)
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To: laotzu

Excellent. The biological-science version of the “Fairness Doctrine” goes down in flames.


8 posted on 03/27/2009 6:43:32 AM PDT by steve-b (Intelligent design is to evolutionary biology what socialism is to free-market economics.)
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To: steve-b

I don’t believe anyone should take money from one person to teach another person’s kid. But regardless of that, the Religion of Evolution is just as stupid as all that voodoo junk. So I guess you’re right, debate isn’t good, evolution should just be dropped all together and they should just teach observable science and leave the metaphysical study of origins to churches and voodoo huts.


9 posted on 03/27/2009 6:50:00 AM PDT by demshateGod (The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.)
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To: steve-b
“Then you support teaching the evil-spirit theory of disease, etc.”

Why not? When I was in school, those earlier ideas WERE discussed. One can easily see what “theory” the evidence supports, and reject the ones that aren't supported!

(Or is that exactly what you fear?)

10 posted on 03/27/2009 6:52:29 AM PDT by ROLF of the HILL COUNTRY ( The Constitution needs No interpreting, only APPLICATION!)
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To: laotzu

I don’t see why it should matter either way. The reality is that there are no weaknesses in evolution. The weakness exist only in the minds of those who are incapable or unwilling to understand.

The curriculum wouldn’t change either way.


11 posted on 03/27/2009 6:58:57 AM PDT by Filo (Darwin was right!)
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Why does this need to be taught in the school? Like it or not, creationism is a religious belief and schools are not in the business of teaching religious doctrine. If parents do not want their kids exposed, they can home-school their kids or send them to religious schools.


12 posted on 03/27/2009 7:01:03 AM PDT by TerP26
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To: TerP26

Evolution is a religious belief. If you want religion out of the classroom, get ALL religions out of the classroom including evolution.


13 posted on 03/27/2009 7:03:16 AM PDT by varmintman
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To: laotzu
Genuine science, by definition, must be questioned. Dogma must not.

Those that question dogma like the earth is round or that it revolves around the sun are considered nuts, not scientists.

14 posted on 03/27/2009 7:05:03 AM PDT by Non-Sequitur
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To: TerP26
The point really is that a lot of people see Evolution as simply a worldview which is in competition with Christianity. Evolutionary evidence is seen as lacking, and belief in Evolution is seen as largely based on faith, with a zealous belief that evolution is not to be questioned.

And the questions you ask are fairly valid: Why does this need to be taught in the school?

15 posted on 03/27/2009 7:05:12 AM PDT by ClearCase_guy (American Revolution II -- overdue)
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To: steve-b

“Excellent. The biological-science version of the “Fairness Doctrine” goes down in flames.”

So many things wrong with this comparison that it boggles the mind.

1) We aren’t talking about a free market system of the airwaves and forcing rejected ideas to have the same treatment as accepted, popular ideas. We’re talking about a government funded monopoly that many children have no choice about attending. Such a system should be required to present alternative views.

2) We aren’t talking about political commentary. We’re talking about a scientific “theory” (In quotes because there’s nothing scientific at all about evolution. In fact, it defies the scientific method.) that shouldn’t have to be protected from its critics.

3) We aren’t talking about liberals, who are all in a tizzy and fearful because they’re ideas aren’t popular and can’t be sold to the American people no matter how they are packaged. We’re talking about scientists who are in a tizzy and fearful..... Oh wait. Maybe there are some similarities.


16 posted on 03/27/2009 7:05:52 AM PDT by Shadowfax
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Hasn’t the pope come out in support of evolution?


17 posted on 03/27/2009 7:07:55 AM PDT by TerP26
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To: TerP26

I think he claims it is compatible with the Bible. But I’m not sure on his complete stance...


18 posted on 03/27/2009 7:09:07 AM PDT by Recovering_Democrat (I'm SO glad I no longer belong to the party of Dependence on Government!)
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To: laotzu

Go for it, secular humanists. You will encourage more Christian families to enroll their children in parochial schools or join the thousands who home school in Texas. You will then have ZERO influence on the education of thousands of future Texans, the best and brightest ones at that.

With every child who leaves the government school system, dollars are subtracted from the system. With every family that puts their child in parochial schools or home schools, there is less need for them to vote for the next government school bond issue. And thus the government indoctrination grows weaker.

God works in mysterious ways His wonders to perform.


19 posted on 03/27/2009 7:09:22 AM PDT by kittymyrib
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To: Non-Sequitur

“Those that question dogma like the earth is round or that it revolves around the sun are considered nuts, not scientists.”

Such a statement betrays a serious lack of understanding about the scientific method or a serious commitment to deceit.

The nature of the Earth and its relationship to the Sun are observable, testable, predictive things.

Evolution is none of those. Therefore, it cannot be considered science.


20 posted on 03/27/2009 7:09:38 AM PDT by Shadowfax
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To: laotzu
The 'experts' agree. Much like global warming, evolution is not science.

And a made up story that would do MARVEL COMICS proud is.

21 posted on 03/27/2009 7:10:07 AM PDT by org.whodat (Auto unions bad: Machinists union good=Hypocrisy)
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To: ROLF of the HILL COUNTRY
Did you debate the "strengths and weaknesses" of medical theories of disease, perhaps depending entirely on discredited information from religious front groups for the "weaknesses" of medical theories?

IIRC, the Texas standards apportion only 3 days to evolution. That sounds about right; when I took biology in high school, it was a very, very broad survey course. We didn't have time to debunk every proto- or pseudoscientific "theory" from history or modern fringe groups. If we did, we never would have gotten through the first chapter!

Same thing in every other class. We didn't do celestial spheres in Earth science, the Fomenko chronology in history, or homeopathy in health. There are only so many days in the school year, and only so many tax dollars available for education, and school boards must be good stewards of those resources. High schools should present students with the current state-of-the-art of science, not bog them down with earlier, rejected theories and outright junk science. There are college-level courses that specialize in that.

22 posted on 03/27/2009 7:11:42 AM PDT by Caesar Soze
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To: Shadowfax
The nature of the Earth and its relationship to the Sun are observable, testable, predictive things.

But in the end they are still explained by scientific theories, as is Evolution. And there are a great many actual scientists would would disagree with you that they cannot observe the results of evolution, or test it, or identify how it was done. How do you test or predict the intelligent designer, much less identify it?

23 posted on 03/27/2009 7:14:04 AM PDT by Non-Sequitur
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To: steve-b

Agreed. And if we’re going to discuss “strengths and weaknesses” of evolution, clearly we must discuss, in school classrooms, the issues with every other scientific theory as well.


24 posted on 03/27/2009 7:15:17 AM PDT by sometime lurker
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To: ClearCase_guy
Why does this need to be taught in the school?

Because it's a foundation of modern biology?

25 posted on 03/27/2009 7:16:51 AM PDT by sometime lurker
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To: Shadowfax
We're talking about the fact that creationist ideas have failed in the scientific marketplace, and their advocates want the guvmint to tilt the playing field in their favor so they can maintain a pretense of staying in the game. It's precisely equivalent to the "Fairness Doctrine".
26 posted on 03/27/2009 7:18:36 AM PDT by steve-b (Intelligent design is to evolutionary biology what socialism is to free-market economics.)
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To: sometime lurker
In the marketplace of ideas, people should consider discussing those ideas which the marketplace calls out for.

I don't think too many people are calling for a discussion of the Miasma theory of disease in schools -- so there's no much need to bother with that. Or the flat earth. Or the Fomenko chronology.

But there are a great many people (scientist and non-scientist) who would like criticisms of evolution discussed at least somewhat in schools. To shut them out of the marketplace of ideas -- when they are a large and vocal group -- is to show signs of fear.

27 posted on 03/27/2009 7:20:07 AM PDT by ClearCase_guy (American Revolution II -- overdue)
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To: org.whodat

Actually, funny little story here.

I sometimes hang around on Peter David’s message board. (For non-comic fans, he’s a writer who often works for Marvel.) At the time, he had recently written an issue of Spider-Man in which Spidey and Reed Richards were debating intelligent design. Of course, ID was dismissed as totally ridiculous, nonscientific, religious claptrap. Then I piped in with what I thought was a very interesting point -

In the Marvel Universe, we know that ID is true. Marvel has published stories about the origins of their fictional universe. Space aliens appeared on the scene and seeded the development of human beings. They also guided the gradual development of man into his modern form.

So, while I pointed out that I had no problem with the portrayal (since it had the “scientific” approach favoring a patently false notion), I suggested that it might be more in line with his viewpoint to have Spidey and Reed talking about how scientific Intelligent Design is while dismissing Evolution as total claptrap.

Needless to say, my opinion was not greeted very enthusiatically by Pete’s other fans.


28 posted on 03/27/2009 7:20:30 AM PDT by Shadowfax
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To: Non-Sequitur
Those that question dogma like the earth is round or that it revolves around the sun are considered nuts, not scientists.

The shape, and movement of heavenly bodies is constantly studied and theorized. Often by much smarter folks than us.

Nuts?!! Einstein, Neuton, Hawking, Morrison, Hubble. Nuts? Really?

29 posted on 03/27/2009 7:20:38 AM PDT by laotzu
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To: ROLF of the HILL COUNTRY

In gradeschool science, I remember discussing (and rejecting) theories of “spontaneous generation”, which is life from non-life (you know, like molecules to man).


30 posted on 03/27/2009 7:21:33 AM PDT by MrB (irreconcilable: One of two or more conflicting ideas or beliefs that cannot be brought into harmony.)
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To: laotzu

Yeah but.....the creationists really blow it for us with everything being created 6000 years ago. Dinosaurs, (which the material evidence proves existed) walked around with the newly created humans. I guess they went extinct because Noah couldn’t fit them on the ark.

ID is rational. It is the extremists that ruin the scenario.


31 posted on 03/27/2009 7:21:51 AM PDT by Dudoight
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To: varmintman
Evolution is a religious belief.

How so? Is botany a religious belief? How about geology? How about astronomy? How about physics? Seems to me that at some point or other all these have "gone against" writing found in the Good Book.

32 posted on 03/27/2009 7:22:00 AM PDT by yankeedame ("Oh, I can take it but I'd much rather dish it out.")
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To: sometime lurker

“Agreed. And if we’re going to discuss “strengths and weaknesses” of evolution, clearly we must discuss, in school classrooms, the issues with every other scientific theory as well.”

As long as we limit it to valid scientific theories (which evolution is not), I agree.


33 posted on 03/27/2009 7:22:06 AM PDT by Shadowfax
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To: TerP26
If parents do not want their kids exposed, they can home-school their kids or send them to religious schools.

No problem, remove that part of our property taxes.

34 posted on 03/27/2009 7:22:16 AM PDT by MrB (irreconcilable: One of two or more conflicting ideas or beliefs that cannot be brought into harmony.)
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To: sometime lurker

“Because it’s a foundation of modern biology?”

Ridiculous. Another dodge by the evolutionists. There’s nothing in Modern Biology that REQUIRES the acceptance of Darwinian Evolution.


35 posted on 03/27/2009 7:24:28 AM PDT by Shadowfax
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To: laotzu
“They don't want them indoctrinated with one side. They know that evolution has weaknesses.”

SUUUUUUUUUUURE they do. "They" just want "their" side.....Creationism poorly veiled as ID.....to be the indoctrination in the SCIENCE room. ...but hey, it'd be a much shorter class "their way", so the teachers could go on to teaching all about Global Warm....errr Climate Change. Afterall, "God did it" doesn't take very long to say.

Only a fool says that the ToE has no weaknesses, but only a different fool says that a "weakness" disproves the broad theory.

36 posted on 03/27/2009 7:26:55 AM PDT by ElectricStrawberry (27th Infantry Regiment....cut in half during the Clinton years...)
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To: demshateGod
What’s wrong with some debate in the classroom?

I especially like the debates about whether the Earth is flat.

37 posted on 03/27/2009 7:27:27 AM PDT by Moonman62 (The issue of whether cheap labor makes America great should have been settled by the Civil War.)
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To: laotzu

It’s no setback to homeschoolers.


38 posted on 03/27/2009 7:28:05 AM PDT by DungeonMaster (I can reach across the aisle without even using my sights.)
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To: raygunfan
evolutionism is a secular humanist religion....dogma that is ENFORCED on school children.....disgusting....

1 Corinthians 1:25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

39 posted on 03/27/2009 7:30:32 AM PDT by DungeonMaster (I can reach across the aisle without even using my sights.)
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To: yankeedame
How so? Is botany a religious belief? How about geology? How about astronomy? How about physics? Seems to me that at some point or other all these have "gone against" writing found in the Good Book.

Science, properly speaking, refers to observations in the present about the operation of nature. There is no conflict between science (thus defined) and the Bible, unless someone wants to argue against biblical statements like Gen. 8:22 ("While the earth remains, Seedtime and harvest,And cold and heat,And summer and winter,And day and night Shall not cease").

If you look at the atheistic Galileo myth, for example, you find that the church teaching of the time was founded on Greek astronomy, not the Bible. They cited a few passages in support, out of context, but it is an obvious historical fact that the belief in geocentrism came from Ptolemy and other Greek writers, not theologians deriving a cosmology from Scripture independent of the Greeks.

The conflict is entirely between historical interpretations and models, which are not directly testable. On the one hand we have observations/documentation in the form of the Bible, on the other we have naturalistic models based on uniformitarian naturalism (which presumes from the outset that God has not intervened in nature).

40 posted on 03/27/2009 7:30:57 AM PDT by Liberty1970 (Democrats are not in control. God is. And Thank God for that!)
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To: laotzu
Strength of evolution?

It allows for accurate explanation and prediction of natural phenomena involved in the changing of living organisms in response to environmental pressures.

Weakness of evolution?

It refuses to confirm the absolutist literal interpretation of those with weak religious faith.

41 posted on 03/27/2009 7:32:29 AM PDT by allmendream ("Wealth is EARNED not distributed, so how could it be redistributed?")
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To: Shadowfax

I would challenge anyone that tries to hold this position to give me an example of a discovery that couldn’t have been made if approached from the mindset of “let’s try to figure out how & why God created this structure or system in this manner”

as opposed to “let’s see how/why natural selection produced this system or structure”.


42 posted on 03/27/2009 7:32:37 AM PDT by MrB (irreconcilable: One of two or more conflicting ideas or beliefs that cannot be brought into harmony.)
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To: sometime lurker; Caesar Soze
You two seem to think that discussing weaknesses takes many hours of time; a few minutes (less than 10) is what happens.

I assume y'all never discussed the problems with Einstein's theory of relativity, nor talked about Nicolai Tesla's competing theories, nor the ..

I suppose since you had an impoverished education, you want everyone else to also.

Something you dogmatic Darwinists just don't get is ID is NOT antithetical to evolution; it merely states that Macro-evolution cannot happen by pure chance alone!!! It makes the proposition that some other, as yet undiscovered, natural law governs the process. (Yes, it also means that we have a CREATOR! Which is the main reason it is an anathema to the Darwinists.)

43 posted on 03/27/2009 7:33:58 AM PDT by ROLF of the HILL COUNTRY ( The Constitution needs No interpreting, only APPLICATION!)
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To: ROLF of the HILL COUNTRY

The implications of a Creator are... well... deadly.


44 posted on 03/27/2009 7:35:11 AM PDT by MrB (irreconcilable: One of two or more conflicting ideas or beliefs that cannot be brought into harmony.)
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To: TerP26

Yes, Pope Benedict XVI said that evolution is a “fact” which enriches our understanding of life and being and such.


45 posted on 03/27/2009 7:35:27 AM PDT by allmendream ("Wealth is EARNED not distributed, so how could it be redistributed?")
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To: raygunfan

Absolute drivel!

Not a syllable of truth in that misguided utterance


46 posted on 03/27/2009 7:36:42 AM PDT by bert (K.E. N.P. +12 . John Galt hell !...... where is Francisco dÂ’Anconia)
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To: ROLF of the HILL COUNTRY
Yes, faith just simply isn't enough to those of weak faith and weak minds who attempt to PROVE God in the laboratory, or indicate that HIS province is merely the “gaps” in our knowledge.

Heb 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Heb 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

No need to “seek” God, or to have “faith” in “evidence of things not seen”; if you have ironclad “proof” (in your own mind at least) that the natural world needs the supporting hand of God to exist.

47 posted on 03/27/2009 7:38:29 AM PDT by allmendream ("Wealth is EARNED not distributed, so how could it be redistributed?")
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To: laotzu
Genuine science, by definition, must be questioned. Dogma must not.

The last chapter of Darwin's Origins book is about problems with his theory. That sounds like questioning to me.

The 'experts' agree. Much like global warming, evolution is not science.

So all those hours we spent in the biology lab doing experiments that demonstrated how gene pools change over time were not science? What were they? Home ec?

48 posted on 03/27/2009 7:38:47 AM PDT by freespirited (Is this a nation of laws or a nation of Democrats? -- Charles Krauthammer)
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To: DungeonMaster
It’s no setback to homeschoolers

Forcing anyone to pay for that which is in opposition to their religious beliefs is supposed to be unconstitutional.

Whether you force them to pay for abortions, or for marketing societys scorn & ridicule is a definite setback.

49 posted on 03/27/2009 7:39:57 AM PDT by laotzu
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To: freespirited
So all those hours we spent in the biology lab doing experiments...

You don't prove a theory by silencing dissent.

50 posted on 03/27/2009 7:51:12 AM PDT by laotzu
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