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New Science Standards Approved in Florida

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the thinking-of-the-voters-not-the-children dept.

Education 891

anonymous_echidna writes "Florida has voted to accept the new K-12 science curriculum standards amidst a storm of controversy around the teaching of evolution, which had up until now been the scientific concept that dare not speak its name. There was a compromise made at the last minute, which was to call evolution a 'scientific theory', rather than a fact. While some lament that the change displays the woeful ignorance of science and scientific terminology, the good news is that the new curriculum emphasizes teaching the meaning of scientific terms and the scientific method in earlier grades."

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Jesus Fucking Christ (5, Funny)

Protonk (599901) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490018)

I'm moving to another country where crazy isn't an approved religion.

Re:Jesus Fucking Christ (5, Interesting)

flyingsquid (813711) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490106)

For a biting critique of Florida's new standards, and a defense of craziness, see "Our Reputation for Flakiness is at Stake" by Carl Hiaasen [ http://www.miamiherald.com/news/columnists/carl_hiaasen/story/421075.html [miamiherald.com]].

Re:Jesus Fucking Christ (4, Funny)

Protonk (599901) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490180)

I love Carl Hiassen. But I think that between the two of us we can't spell his name right. :)

Re:Jesus Fucking Christ (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490192)

I know what you mean. If they're going to teach the theory of evolution, they should they should at least teach that it's more than a theory!

But seriously, I don't see how this is that big of a deal. Everyone with a brain already realizes that evolution is true or that God has gone to great lengths to make it look true. Those who aren't going to believe in evolution for religious reasons are going to do that anyway.

Finally, individual teachers have a lot of leeway in what they teach; science teachers will teach evolution with the certainty that they feel it's due, no matter what guidelines have been set down.

Re:Jesus Fucking Christ (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22490344)

Finally, individual teachers have a lot of leeway in what they teach; science teachers will teach evolution with the certainty that they feel it's due, no matter what guidelines have been set down.
Not if they want to keep their jobs they won't. With school boards and school administrators unsympathetic to the teaching of evolution, while the teaching of evolution is not banned, parent complaints will give them a reason to find some other convenient excuse to fire the teacher. For example, a Texas science director [wired.com] was canned because of her pro-evolution stance. The official reason: insubordination because she used her work email to forward a federal court judgment on evolution to friends and some online communites. Every teacher has done something similar and having a pro-evolution viewpoint will give the school administrators an excuse to find anything incriminating.

Re:Jesus Fucking Christ (5, Informative)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490500)

If they're going to teach the theory of evolution, they should they should at least teach that it's more than a theory!

Evolution *is* a theory. Perhaps they should also teach what "theory" means.

Re:Jesus Fucking Christ (5, Insightful)

KublaiKhan (522918) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490300)

It's not really a question of religion, if you think about it--it's more a question of politics.

It just happens that the politics involved are largely being used within the framework of religion in order to maintain a certain population within a given power structure, and to resist attempts to overturn said power structure from the outside.

Re:Jesus Fucking Christ (5, Funny)

trongey (21550) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490352)

RE: Title of parent post.
I don't think he could do that, even with miraculous powers. I know, the whole one-in-three business makes it kind of confusing, but I still just don't think it could be done.

Re:Jesus Fucking Christ (1)

Dog-Cow (21281) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490652)

But I thought he is God. You mean there's something he can't do?

(Disclaimer: I am not a Christian.)

Man, ALL religion is crazy... (2, Insightful)

crovira (10242) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490406)

George Carlin was right...

Anything that starts with some "There's some invisible guy, up in the sky, who can kill you, because he loves you" is deeply, persistently and fundamentally fucked up.

Creationism is merely an expression of how fucked up it is.

ANY country that has ANY religion is just as fucked up.

"Offer your sufferings to Christ" is NOT a health care policy. Got that?

Re:Man, ALL religion is crazy... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22490494)

Hey, my invisible guy [venganza.org] doesn't want to kill me. He wants to give me beer and stripper factories. Unfortunately, he does want me to dress up like a pirate. I think that implies he wants me to go kill all the unbelievers (such as ninjas).

Approved religion? (2, Insightful)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490542)

I'll stick to countries where I don't have to worry about whether a religion is "approved" or not.

Re: (1)

popsicle67 (929681) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490570)

Simply put, it is theory, in the same way that gravity pulls is a theory. The chance that the theory is wrong approaches infinity, but there is still a minute chance for error.

Science board is trolling? (3, Insightful)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490028)

There was a compromise made at the last minute, which was to call evolution a 'scientific theory', rather than a fact.
LOL! I can't believe that an actual state school board resolution has basically the same wording as when I troll. (Er, I mean, my *friend* trolls.) "Hey guys, now, let's face it, evolution is pretty much just a theory at this point. You know, THEORY? Theory as in ... NOT FACT?"

Still, I think it would be an improvement of orders of magnitude if science classes in general focused more on:

"how did we learn this?" (i.e., the scientific method, how observations have to be done to eliminate bias, the formulation of competing theories, how experiments are designed, how hypotheses were ruled out, etc.)

as opposed to:

"here is he official list of truth that you have to memorize and then do cute IQ-test-like problems with".

The latter gives the wrong impression of what science is and why it matters.

Re:Science board is trolling? (1)

funwithBSD (245349) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490246)

Yes, well it is an important distinction you are making. There are quite a few "theories" that have been taken as fact, such as the concept of "races" in the single human race. Despite the fact that the idea of race is based on viable offspring interbreeding ablity some insist that varitial==race. Go figure.

Couple more I can think of that people take as fact that are only theories.

Re:Science board is trolling? (4, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490336)

There are quite a few "theories" that have been taken as fact, such as the concept of "races" in the single human race. Despite the fact that the idea of race is based on viable offspring interbreeding ablity some insist that varitial==race. Go figure.

Race: "a group of persons related by common descent or heredity." Species: "Biology. the major subdivision of a genus or subgenus, regarded as the basic category of biological classification, composed of related individuals that resemble one another, are able to breed among themselves, but are not able to breed with members of another species." funwithBSD: "An individual who needs to buy a dictionary."

Re:Science board is trolling? (3, Informative)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490462)

The meaning of the word theory when used in the context of science:

A set of statements or principles devised to explain a group of facts or phenomena, especially one that has been repeatedly tested or is widely accepted and can be used to make predictions about natural phenomena.

Now, remember, Gravity is just a theory as well, so why don't you test it by jumping out off of a very tall building.

Re:Science board is trolling? (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490596)

It seems rather redundant for them to demand it be called a theory, since all of science consists of hypothesis and theories. The important thing to take out of this is that our country always has and always will cater to the ignorant religious sect, because they control everything. As long as they make up some 90% of the population, you can't expect common sense or rationality to rule. After all, these are the idiots who are counted in surveys like the one we just saw today where 66% of Americans think that nanotech is immoral.

It's time to replace democracy with meritocracy. We've suffered the rule of the stupid for too long.

Re:Science board is trolling? (1)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490610)

I have to agree with you there -- if you're nitpicking over whether to label information a "theory" or a "fact", you're probably not teaching how to differentiate the two or how the information you're learning was determined in the first place. Scientific teaching should not be a list-o-facts. There's not much you get out of that.

The news media is a major part of the problem (5, Insightful)

Steeltalon (734391) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490032)

There have been too many occasions where the news media has persisted in "dumbing down" the terminology that they use. I even remember watching a "Faith and Values" show on CNN last year where John Edwards (the candidate, not the psychic) was asked his thoughts on Evolution which, in the words of Soledad O'brien, was the belief that man evolved from apes.

We need the news media to take the lead in helping people understand what a theory is vs. a hypothesis. How fact and theory are not opposites. The fact that a "law" is not the opposite of a theory. Too many people are getting away with murder in these debates because the termnology isn't clearly understood and the news media doesn't care to straighten it out.

Re:The news media is a major part of the problem (2, Insightful)

Gat0r30y (957941) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490358)

Dude, nail on the head. I don't believe that the news media is "dumbing down" their language to make it more accessible to viewers, I've always just assumed they don't have a sufficient understanding of basic science to pose good questions.
I think back to college, and frankly the journalism students didn't seem to be taking many elective science courses. The journalism community as a whole doesn't seem to have a very good understanding of the scientific method.
On the other hand, there are a good number of excellent science journalists (SciAm seems to me to be written for a wide audience, yet succeeds in presenting accurate and generally interesting science news).
Then again, it could be that the public is just as ill-informed about science as the journalistic community. What a sorry state of affairs indeed.

Re:The news media is a major part of the problem (1)

Sczi (1030288) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490366)

which, in the words of Soledad O'brien, was the belief that man evolved from apes That's seems to be the part that really gets the fundies' collective goat, so I say approach it more directly. If there really are any good, scientific (or even semi-scientific) arguments against the notion that man descended from apes (or common ancestor, etc), incorporate those opposing ideas into the topic. If there is any credible evidence whatsoever against evolution, then include it in the curriculum. And by extension, also include arguments against those arguments. Further, while explaining the terms as the article said, maybe include intelligent design and say "here we have laws, theories, hypotheses, and 14 rungs down we have a notion, which is what intelligent design is" Another way would be to develop some scientific consensus to establish a Law of Evolution or somesuch and get the word "theory" out of it completely since we will *never* be able to trust the ability of laymen to use "theory" properly. I found this: "The biggest difference between a law and a theory is that a theory is much more complex and dynamic. A law governs a single action, whereas a theory explains an entire group of related phenomena." so I don't know if evolution could be simplified enough to ever attain law status, maybe a subset of the theory, or a more direct line like "things evolve." but it would make it a lot easier to explain things and dodge the theory argument completely.

Re:The news media is a major part of the problem (2, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490404)

asked his thoughts on Evolution which, in the words of Soledad O'brien, was the belief that man evolved from apes.

Speaking of "dumbing down", you have no idea what's going on, do you?

Referring to Evolution in this way and then asking an opinion (or the reverse) is an example of deliberate spin. You would never say that unless you wanted to get the "I didn't come from no monkey!" camp riled up, or you were an uneducated buffoon.

P.S. Jesus Christ, that woman looks like Ms. The Joker when she smiles. Plastic surgery, or inbreeding? YOU DECIDE!

That's fair (5, Insightful)

anotherone (132088) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490050)

That's fair, because evolution IS a scientific theory. So is Gravity. Hopefully they'll also teach the kids what it means to be a theory, and that "theory" doesn't mean "wild-ass-guess".

Re:That's fair (-1, Troll)

dc29A (636871) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490160)

That's fair, because evolution IS a scientific theory. So is Gravity. Hopefully they'll also teach the kids what it means to be a theory, and that "theory" doesn't mean "wild-ass-guess".
Evolution is a *FACT*.
Gravity is a *FACT*.

The scientific explanations of those observed facts are called "Scientific Theories": The Theory of Evolution and The Theory of Gravity.

If you don't believe in gravity being a fact, please jump off a 42 story building.

Re:That's fair (1)

Knara (9377) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490248)

You may make such a distinction, but most people do not. I, for one, am more than happy for Florida, of all places, to be calling evolution by natural selection a theory.

Besides, Florida is where old people go to die, and Cubans go to bitch about Castro, not exactly the educational center of the US.

Re:That's fair (1)

provigilman (1044114) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490254)

I think by "fact", he meant "law". We have very few laws in science, almost everything is a theory. For example, with gravity, what causes it? We know that mass has something to do with it, but how does it affect gravitational pull? Are there gravitons? Etc..

Re:That's fair (3, Funny)

msuarezalvarez (667058) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490328)

I do not think I can put this in a softer way, so here it goes:

In the name of $HOLY_THING, please inform yourself before attemptying to participate in a discussion, for otherwise you are become line noise.

The difference you are seeing between `law' and `theory' only exists in your confused mind.

Re:That's fair (5, Insightful)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490262)

Things falling to the ground is a fact; one explanation for it is Newton's theory of gravitation, also called gravity.

What is gravity? (1)

ArchieBunker (132337) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490286)

Not trying to troll here, but right now we are barely at the start of understanding how these forces work. How exactly does gravity work? Can its forces be duplicated in a lab? Until then its still a really good theory and the best one so far.

Re:That's fair (2, Insightful)

KublaiKhan (522918) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490334)

Belief has nothing to do with it.

That's one rather large difference between science and religion: science still works when you don't believe in it.

Hell, science works when you actively try to -dis-believe it.

Re:That's fair (2, Informative)

SteelAngel (139767) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490338)

Evolution is a *FACT*.
Gravity is a *FACT*.
No they are not. They are Scientific Theories. A theory is a statement that has been supported by evidence from repeatable experiments and can be used to make accurate predictions that can be borne out by experiment. Even though it satisfies (to an extent) both of those qualifications, Newton's Theory of Gravity is -wrong-. It is an acceptable approximation for certain local phenomena, however. Einstein's Theory of General Relativity has not yet been shown to be violated, yet it is still a theory. Do not let the abuse of a word in the vernacular color your perception of its meaning. Even if it is a predictive science, evolutionary biology is based on scientific theories, not 'facts'.

Re:That's fair (2, Informative)

wile_e_wonka (934864) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490568)

A theory is a statement that has been supported by evidence from repeatable experiments and can be used to make accurate predictions that can be borne out by experiment.
No its not--what you describe is a good theory--like evolution or general relativity. Bad theories exist as well (ones that were falsified or that just no longer make sense--like the "aether"), or even theories that I couldn't really say are good or bad (ones which remain untested, or are difficult to use in the formation of testable hypotheses--like string theory).

Re:That's fair (4, Informative)

yali (209015) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490400)

If you don't believe in gravity being a fact, please jump off a 42 story building.

A fact is what you have observed. A theory is an explanation of why it is so.

In the strictest sense, the fact is that you have always (previously) observed that objects fall to the ground. But in order to link that fact to your prediction that he will fall to the ground after jumping off a building, you have to have a theory of gravity that predicts how a novel event (i.e., the grandparent poster jumping off a 42 story building) will unfold in the future.

Put more succintly: "Objects thrown off a building have always fallen" is a statement of fact. "Objects thrown off a building will always fall" is a hypothesis derived from a theory.

Re:That's fair (3, Insightful)

jandrese (485) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490414)

Isn't the proper terminology "law"? As in the "Law of Gravity" to related to observed and/or measured facts about the world? Theories are a description of why a law exists (Theories about gravity are actually surprisingly weak at this point. We don't really have a good understanding of why gravity works). We have observed that species change over time (short timescales with small and simple organisms like bacteria, longer timescales for larger and more complex life like Dinosaurs). Evolution is the theory that describes why we think that happens.

Before people go nuts however, I'd like to point out that Creationism is not a theory, or a law, or anything to do with science.

Re:That's fair (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22490432)

Umm, no.

Gravity is not a FACT. It is a theory. That every model we have come up with matches this theory is irrelevant; we cannot prove without room for doubt any scientific theory.

Gravity could be some as-yet unknown particle that can exert physical force away from itself; the planets are not held together by the force of gravity pulling everything in, but by a spherical buildup of these particles pushing everything down.

Gravity could be a low-end EM based force, with the planet/sun/etc being a large magnet.

Gravity could be many different things.

However, the ones I listed do not fit the known measurable information. This does not say that at some point in the future we will not discover something else that does not fit the current model of gravity.

Evolution is similar; we were not there, we cannot state with absolute certainty that the known species evolved from microbes. What we do know fits that model, but we cannot state it as known for a fact.

People say Science is about facts and Religion is about faith; they are wrong. Science is about theories and open-mindedness; a scientist that refuses to even consider changing his mind is as faithful as a baptist.

Re:That's fair (0)

iamacat (583406) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490478)

Current species that inhibit the earth is a *FACT*
Gravity is a *FACT*
Genetic inheritance of traits and change observed in selectively bread domesticated species, antibiotic-resistant bacteria and environmentally stressed animals is *FACT*

Evolution as the sole origin of all species from inorganic matter is a *THEORY*
Gravitons being closed-loop strings that can leave our 3D membrane into the bulk is a *THEORY*

Re:That's fair (1)

Millennium (2451) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490556)

Facts are data. Theories are interpretations of data. As such, evolution and gravity are theories, not facts. This does not mean that they are guesses; there's another term for that, and even the creationists don't use that term to describe either of these. Just as a theory is not a fact, neither is it a hypothesis.

I have no doubt that the people moving to emphasize that evolution is a theory rather than a fact are indeed ignorant of just what a theory really is. But so are their opponents who attempt to claim it as a fact. Both sides need a dictionary.

Re:That's fair (4, Informative)

KublaiKhan (522918) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490266)

I have a hobby where I argue with various fundamentalists, creationists, and the like in order to understand their particular points of view--using them as an evolutionary pressure for my arguments, as it were, to see which ones have an effect.

I've noticed in my various arguments that the chief difficulty is getting them to understand the terminology behind the concepts--they simply do not have the vocabulary necessary to vocalize and understand the concepts in question.

One of those words that is most egregiously misused is "theory"--the "common" form of the word is almost universally understood, but the "scientific" meaning of the word, even when carefully explained, becomes conflated with the common form.

(Other difficulties I've noticed are: that those who do not accept evolutionary theory are convinced that evolution is directed towards some 'goal'; that all mutations are necessarily harmful; an ignorance of introns and other means by which genetic material can be added to a genome--one of the current arguments that crops up is the one about how you can't get more information into a genome by evolutionary means, which is, of course, utter bosh; a misunderstanding of the scientific method; the false notion that science attempts to be the Answer to Life, the Universe and Everything rather than a best-fit approximation; and the notion that scientists are trying actively to discourage religion)

Other than teaching the proper meaning of the word 'theory'--which doesn't work very well, frankly; the meaning that they knew first tends to stick no matter how often you teach them the proper one due to recency bias--I'd perhaps recommend a slight change in terminology when speaking of hypotheses that have withstood rigorous testing. Such a change would, of course, have to be accepted by the scientific community as a whole, so it may not be practical--but it's perhaps worth giving some thought to.

I'd almost recommend 'theorem' rather than 'theory', to leech off of the mathematician's meaning, but while that word is appealing for reasons of similarity and having the proper tone, it may not be ideal due to conflation with mathematical proofs.

Re:That's fair (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490376)

Not sure how evolution is classified anymore, but that gravity exists is indeed a fact. The only question we still have is WHY it exists, as in what causes it.

I thought so too (2, Insightful)

PinkyDead (862370) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490428)

Now I'm going to get myself into trouble.

Because my understanding (as a scientist) has always been that all science was theory - scientific theory and not fact. Some scientific theories, like evolution, have so much evidence that they may as well be fact - but they're still technically not fact.

And like you said gravity is a theory. The fact there is that when I let go of an apple it ends up on the ground, that's the fact - the most sensible theory that explains that fact and other related facts is the theory of gravity. And the theory of evolution is the most sensible theory that explains the fact that there are a wide range of different types of animals and plants on this planet. Creationism and ID are also theories - not scientific theories because they cannot stand up to testing by the scientific method. (And yes FSM is a theory too).

So let baby have his bottle - tell them "Yeah! Evolution is a scientific theory - and a damned good one at that." That'll stump them.

Someone call editorial... (4, Funny)

EricTheGreen (223110) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490054)

From TFA, boldface added:

During more than two hours of testimony, scientists and religious representatives argued over whether teaching that humans evolved from a single-celled species over hundreds of millions of years should be taken as gospel.

Not sure that's the word said scientists would use in this context themselves...

Turnabout is fair play (2, Insightful)

tarrantm (1210560) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490604)

If religious representatives insist on arguing over science standards, scientists need to barge in on all the other curricula and insist on arguing over the definitions of words in their syllabuses too. Start by telling all the comparative religion classes to teach kids that the bible being the word of god is an unsubstantiated, non-scientific hypothesis.

Re:Someone call editorial... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22490624)

I have never understood the non-scientific community's obsession with taking *anything* as 'gospel'. By definition science only explains a phenomena until a better explanation comes along. The purpose of science is to continually refine our understanding, not create a doctrine that must be followed.
You should never take any scientific theory at face value. Every true scientific explanation is accompanied by the data that led to that conclusion and thus each individual should be making their own conclusions based on the data. That is the beauty of science, if you don't think something is correct all of the information you need to prove that the wrong conclusion has been reached is there for you to use.

woo hoo! (5, Funny)

urcreepyneighbor (1171755) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490062)

The more dumbasses in the world, the smarter I seem! woo hoo!

Fear me, for I have studied the dark science of natural selection!

Re:woo hoo! (5, Funny)

RingDev (879105) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490110)

It's that exact logic that got me a girl friend with small hands.

My junk looks HUGE!


Re:woo hoo! (5, Funny)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490408)

Just make sure you get her back to day care before her mommy comes to pick her up.

Details get in the way of good jokes. (1)

RingDev (879105) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490578)

Just make sure you get her back to day care before her mommy comes to pick her up.
W..w..W - Willy Waterloo washes Warren Wiggins who is washing Waldo Woo.
Burn. Harsh. Actually, my girl friend became my wife years ago, and I read the book that your signature is from to our son just a few nights back. But all these details clog up the simplicity of the joke.

The only time such a level of detail actually helps the joke is in a case like the 'Pink Monkey' joke or the 'Flower' joke which rely on the excessive use of details to make the joke funny. But getting a 5-15 minute long joke off is more of an art form, rarely seen these days. No, the simpler the better, especially in type, for todays crowd. That's why jokes like, "What do you call a boomerang that won't come back? ... A stick!" and "So, a baby seal walks into a club." work so well. Staged and delivered well, those two can get people rolling.


I accept evolution and I know God is real. (2, Insightful)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490088)

It is strange how a Christian will say,"Things aren't perfect now after the fall", but then they'll say,"Evolution isn't God's plan." Well how do they know that?

The 6 days of Creation match up with science on the ball when they aren't literal days as we know them, but days of God, which are explained to be any length of time in two different places in the Bible.

I wrote a chapter in my book about it, but I don't see the need to make a long post here. You can check my book on my website if you're so inclined. I updated it last week. Keep in mind that it is a rough draft.

Re:I accept evolution and I know God is real. (4, Insightful)

everphilski (877346) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490200)

but days of God, which are explained to be any length of time in two different places in the Bible.

In several places in the Bible it explains how the passage of time is not a factor to God as it is to us (a day is like a millenia, a millenia like a day), but it explicitly says in Genesis, after each day of creation, "And there was evening and there was morning, the Nth day." If you hand-wave away that phrase, then what else do you hand-wave away?

Re:I accept evolution and I know God is real. (2, Interesting)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490360)

And there was evening and there was morning, the Nth day." If you hand-wave away that phrase, then what else do you hand-wave away?

Good point. The way I saw it was that God created light before the sun existed. The length of the time that light shown may have been much longer than 12 hours, and what I am suggesting is that it was millions or billions of years. Then when darkness happens, it is only for a short period. Analogous to how the world was in darkness for a short period until Jesus came, and now the world is full of the light of God, and will eventually last eternally. So the length of darkness could have simply been extraordinarily short compared to the length of a day. This is just my first thoughts on that. If you want to email me, it is James_Sager_PA@yahoo.com, and after I put more thought into it, I'll get back to you. Thank you for raising an excellent point.

Re:I accept evolution and I know God is real. (1)

Fjandr (66656) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490372)

So you are fluent in the cultural context of 1st-2nd century Hebrew? There are probably quite a few organizations who would like to talk to you then...

Re:I accept evolution and I know God is real. (2, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490434)

"And there was evening and there was morning, the Nth day." If you hand-wave away that phrase, then what else do you hand-wave away?

There is no explicit statement of how long the days were.

All the quote REALLY tells you, in fact, is that it got dark and then it got light, in between various tasks attributed to Yahweh.

Re:I accept evolution and I know God is real. (1)

KublaiKhan (522918) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490440)

So the hypothetical creative being's spaceship/orbital platform/planet/space station/infinite plane's rotational period is 24 hours relative to the nearest source of intense light?

If we were on Jupiter, would you be insisting on a 60-hour creation?

Re:I accept evolution and I know God is real. (1)

takanishi79 (1203342) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490606)

I'm not particularly inclined to go into the specifics about literary framework, and all that sort of thing (the gist is that the Genesis creation account is not necessarily a statement of the nature of creation, but rather a statement of the power of the God of Judaism over and against other powers that be (Leviathan, Baal, to name a few)). But the worth that you so calmly assert to mean 'day' in Hebrew, is far from certain to mean 'day.' There are a number of other places where that same word is used to describe an age, and great lengths of time.

If I'm not entirely mistaken, don't we use day language to refer to the changing of various ages. The 'dawn' of the nuclear age, as an example.

Sadly, what a lot of people (both Christians and non) miss when reading the Bible, is that they aren't reading a document conceived out of their culture. Rather, it was written, collected, and edited in a time far removed from our own. The way they speak about things is different.

In a thousand years, are archaeologists going to understand some of our figures of speech? I doubt it. Not without some context clues. Why would something like the Bible be any different?

Re:I accept evolution and I know God is real. (2, Informative)

Dan Posluns (794424) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490314)

I don't have a problem with you believing whatever you want to believe, whether you want to take the six days as literal fact (which many creationists do) or more metaphorical (which many creationists would call you a sycophantic apologist for doing so).

I don't care. Believe whatever you want.

It's not about belief. It's about what's scientifically useful; what produces useful experiments and predictions for us to better understand the nature of our universe.

In that regard, evolution is one of the most wildly successful scientific theories around. (As opposed to vehicles like Intelligent Design, which misses the point entirely and from what I've heard has yet to "reveal" anything non-trivial.)

So you can believe what you want. And good on ya for it. But when it comes to science, we're interested in what's practical.


Re:I accept evolution and I know God is real. (1)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490514)

My main point if you missed it is that Christians should accept evolution. My smaller point is that the Big Bang , continental drift and fossil records make sense if you view the days of creation as a different length of time than a 24 hour day. There is a scripture verse that says,"We honor Kings for what they explain, and God for what he keeps hidden." In this way you can see why God did not just hand Moses a laptop with all scientific knowledge of the universe.

Evolution is not natural selection (3, Informative)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490104)

Evolution is a fact. For example dinosaurs used to exist and they don't now; horses, dogs and cats have changed. This is accepted by everyone. What is in dispute is the explanation for that evolution. It could be caused by natural selection or by something else (certainly by something else in the case of the three animals mentioned). Natural selection is a scientific theory. So be careful with the terminology.

Re:Evolution is not natural selection (2, Insightful)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490240)

"Certainly"? Not certainly. Natural selection is the process by which some animals survive better than others by having certain traits. Horses that run faster are less likely to meet the glue factory before reproduction than slower horses, for example. It's still 'natural selection', it's just that environment has changed.

Cats and dogs go through similar things.

Assuming 'natural selection' is true and not a false hypothesis, this fits the pattern. If it's false, then this may not be the same thing at all after all.

Re:Evolution is not natural selection (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22490572)

so it's 'natural selection at the hands of man'.

Lamenting that evolution is called a theory? (4, Insightful)

ProteusQ (665382) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490108)

Isn't that like an Obama supporter lamenting that Obama was called a Presidential Candidate by the press?

Re:Lamenting that evolution is called a theory? (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490502)

I think the problem is that the popular definition of theory is quite different from the scientific definition. Calling it "just a theory" in the popular terms undercuts what it is and tries to leave in some "wiggle room" for Intelligent Design, which is really "just a hypothesis", but it is often presented as a fact.

Just asking... (1)

locokamil (850008) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490118)

What's the problem here? Evolution is a theory.

Re:Just asking... (1)

oyenstikker (536040) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490422)

Calling it a theory implies that it might not be true, which implies that something else might be true, which implies that an unscientific religious belief might be true, which implies that religion X might be true, which might constitute state support of religion X.

Of course, there is nothing prohibiting state support for religion X, only state support for "an establishment" of religion X.[1] But we are too dumb to tell the difference between "Christianity" and "The Orthodox Church In America" or the "Westboro Baptist Church", so we must not have the government, or anything government sanctioned or funded, do anything that might imply something that might imply something that might imply something that might imply something that might say that a particular religious belief is true, because next thing you know, the pope will be calling the shots. Really, that is what will happen. Screw the definitions of words, and established scientific terminology, we have to protect Amerika from the religious fanatics!

Honestly, I have no idea what the problem is, but a lot of people have their panties all up in a bunch.

[1] Don't believe me? Go read the constitution. Don't like it? Contact your government representatives. Don't flame me, I didn't write the constitution, nor do I necessarily agree with it[2].
[2] If you want to know what I think, I think the government should get out of the public education business.

Re:Just asking... (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490492)

I think the main objection is that evolution is considered at theory, but Newton's theory of gravitation is considered a fact. At the very least, they should have the same status.

Re:Just asking... (1)

Sabz5150 (1230938) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490538)

What's the problem here? Evolution is a theory.
Ding, ding. Here's your cigar.

The problem is not Evolution's stance as a theory, but of the misrepresentation of the definition "theory". The cdesign proponentsists have failed in taking down evolution and propping up ID, and now continue their attempts to make the term theory sound like "guess made in haze of bong smoke".

To say that Evolution is a theory and not a fact is an outright insult to science and the scientific method. Theories are comprised of tens, hundreds, thousands or more facts. The theory of Evolution is not a fact, it is several thousand of them.

These bible bangers need to shut up and stop being scientific and technological vermin, constantly trying to erode everything we've worked towards in advancing this civilization.

Re:Just asking... (1)

youngdev (1238812) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490582)

The problem here is the way evolution is being presented in Florida. Up until now, Florida has presented evolution as a hypothesis. Now they want to present evolution as a theory and that is the problem. The words theory and hypothesis have scientific definitions. theory (from wikipedia): a mathematical or logical explanation, or a testable model of the manner of interaction of a set of natural phenomena, capable of predicting future occurrences or observations of the same kind, and capable of being tested through experiment or otherwise falsified through empirical observation hypothesis (from wikipedia): a suggested explanation for a phenomenon or of a reasoned proposal suggesting a possible correlation between multiple phenomena The argument made was that presenting evolution as a theory gives it unearned weight. The opponents of this change were saying that we have no observable evidence of one species changing into another (especially a more complex one). And because these changes cannot be done in a lab, then therefor evolution is a hypothesis not a theory. Now unless someone can force evolution in a lab or unless it can be falsified through tests, then it is in fact a hypothesis. However in the absence of any other reasonable hypothesis, I see no reason why it should not be taught in schools. In the interest of full disclosure: I live in Florida. I am a Christian. I believe in a 7 day creation (oh come on like it is any less logical than one species spontaneously increasing the complexity of its dna). My children go to a Christian school where they are not taught their great grandfather is curious George. I am a College educated software engineer.

Why Should We Be Surprised? (4, Funny)

saudadelinux (574392) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490134)

Let's face it, folks no other state has its own category on Fark.com; the utter lunacy and stupidity down there has been neatly quantified.

Was evolution taught before this? (1)

WolfTheWerewolf (84066) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490172)

I did not go through the Florida public school system, and do not know anyone who did. Still I have a hard time believing that they did not teach evolution before this... in *some* form. At least I hope they taught it, for it would be a crime against reason to omit evolution from the curriculum.

Anyone from FL wish to chime in and shed some light?

You know... (1)

webheaded (997188) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490186)

It really WOULD be nice if people knew what the hell they were talking about with this stuff. I almost wish scientists would just get together and consider changing the terminology so that the religious zealots running the country couldn't so easily dumb things down and get away with it. It's the media too, like someone previously said, but it's also the fact that people simply don't understand evolution nor do they even make an attempt to when they've got such cool catch phrases. People would rather hear, "It's Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve!" than actually examine the issue of gay marriage just like they'd rather hear "Evolution is JUST a theory!" than actually check it out or even understand what that means.

Terminology? (3, Insightful)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490210)

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. I wonder...

Control the meaning of words, you control how they're percieved. For instance, most if not all the old Soviet republics considered themselves 'democratic' in that elections were held on a regular basis. Of course, there was only one slate of candidates to elect, so calling them 'democracies' was a bit of a misnomer. Likewise, their penchant for putting "People's' in front of just about everything, like 'People's Democratic Republic of'. Double whammy there...

Now, if the definition of 'approved' now means 'guaranteed not to piss off any J Random NeoCon Fundie', and 'theory' now means 'something that cannot be proved but must be taken on faith', we're in serious trouble here...

Re:Terminology? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22490298)

Yes Prime Minister covered that one.

Sir Humphrey: East Yemen, isn't that a democracy?
Sir Richard: Its' full name is the Peoples' Democratic Republic of East Yemen.
Sir Humphrey: Ah I see, so it's a communist dictatorship.

Gospel (1)

Wellington Grey (942717) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490216)

During more than two hours of testimony, scientists and religious representatives argued over whether teaching that humans evolved from a single-celled species over hundreds of millions of years should be taken as gospel.

Somehow, I doubt that was the language the scientists used.

-Grey [silverclipboard.com]

This is just plain sad (1)

ryzynforce (199741) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490244)

This is one of the reasons why schools across the nation are graduating dumber and dumber children that subsequently come into the workforce and degrade goods and services because the basic academics are not taught. This simply shows that the school officials are more concerned with ridiculous and trivial details that truly have no bearing on the academic front. More concern with kids feeling good about learning only what is going to be on a test instead of just teaching the kids what they need to know. Changing the language is purely semantics. It would seem quite a bit easier to let the school teach the evolution side of the story and let the churches teach the creationism side of the story. After that let the kids decide for themselves. It is silly to just change the language to "scientific theory". It does however, lend itself to causing more confusion which creates an even lower quality graduate. Idiocracy is coming true!!! "It has Electrolytes!" Just my opinion though.

why complain? (3, Insightful)

superwiz (655733) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490270)

This is actually a good thing. A good theory stands up to scrutiny. There is not such thing as "ridiculous" challenge. Any challenge which does not deny rules of logic or observed facts has merit. If students are instilled with an extra degree of scepticism, I'd say, "good for them." Dogmatic teaching of scince as facts creates nothing but fudder for pop-culture -- it does not produce thinking minds.

I'm in ur curriculumns... (3, Insightful)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490276)

...hasing a tehoree.

The highest honor SCIENCE can bestow any idea is that of the "Theory". Science cannot claim anything to be a fact because in science, nothing is beyond disproval.

If science starts stating things are fact, and beyond disproval then the idea in question becomes dogma. Dogma is the realm of religion. Science may be your religion, but you do science a great disservice by making it so, at the expense of the scientific schema and method.

I know that the creationist/ID crowd LOVES to rub it in that evolution "is only a theory", but you've got to resist the temptation of fighting back by out-dogma-ing the dogmatists.

Evolution IS only a theory, it's among the most widely studied and tested theories of science. It's the single unifying theory of biology. Everyone say it with me: Evolution IS just a theory. The 800lb Gorrilla, bad-mother-fucker, stomp your colon theory. The king of theories.

In science, that's as good as it gets. And as science-minded people, we should know that.

Re:I'm in ur curriculumns... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22490638)

Mod parent up! This is one of the best (and shortest) analyses of the situation I've seen.

Losing relevance... (4, Insightful)

MaWeiTao (908546) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490292)

The Roman Catholic church has recognized evolution essentially as fact and completely compatible with the bible. So I don't really understand what the problem is with Protestants in this country.

The only reason I see for this idiotic push to marginalize evolution and push creationism as a valid theory is because Christian conservatives see their influence on American culture slipping. This is a desperate attempt to make their religion relevant. I don't understand how this is permitted.

Evolution is a science. Creationism and Intelligent Design are not science and have no place in the science class. Those concepts don't conform to the standards established by science. There is a place for creationism, and that's the theology class.

If parents want to compromise their children's education they should do so in private schools or at home instead of trying to force this stupidity on everyone.

Re:Losing relevance... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490490)

I don't understand how this is permitted.

The Political Right's most important power base is the Religious Right, because they act as a unified group, others perceive it, and they know it.

Thus, they are permitted to do anything they like so long as it doesn't interfere with profit.

Re:Losing relevance... (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490536)

I don't understand how this is permitted.
This is why it is gratifying to see them losing their hold on the Republican party.

What compromise? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22490306)

There was a compromise made at the last minute, which was to call evolution a 'scientific theory', rather than a fact.
IDNRTFA, but what exactly is the compromise in this statement? Don't we already call it a "theory"? Even to the layman, it's the "theory of evolution", right?

Re:What compromise? (2, Interesting)

Fjandr (66656) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490598)

It's only a compromise in the minds of the school board members. They probably went through the same Florida schools and came out with zero understanding of what scientific terms really mean.

"Theory" to them is supposed to lower the standing of the teaching of evolution, when in fact it will raise it if those same science classes teach accurate scientific terminology.

Ultimately, it brings evolution back into focus in schools while simultaneously showing the school board to be uneducated dweebs. Win/win as far as I'm concerned.

Teach Xenu-ology (1)

jameskojiro (705701) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490342)

Yeah the fact that thetan theory is not a viable alternative to evolution makes me sad and makes poor baby Xenu cry.

Devils advocate (4, Insightful)

Cheesey (70139) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490364)

Teaching evolution - does it really matter?

Evolution is the least popular theory ever proposed. It has been under continuous attack ever since it was proposed. During this time, the creationists have tried every trick they can think of to get it out of the schools. They have blamed just about every evil of society on it, and they have brainwashed millions into believing that it's incompatible with their religion. They've tried to make it illegal, and they have even tried (unsuccessfully) to disprove it. And evolution has survived all of these attacks because it is true. You can always argue that the physical evidence doesn't accurately represent reality, and of course the creationists have tried that, but it's no use when they're arguing with proper scientists.

Given this, I don't think we need to worry about evolution at all. Sure, creationists would like it to be thrown away entirely, but as long as we have scientists, that simply will not happen. You just can't do useful research in any physical science if you think the Bible has greater authority than a ton of physical evidence. There are worse problems in public schools than a bunch of nutcases wanting their crazy beliefs taught as if they were science.

There is no evidence that will convince a creationist that he is wrong. If Jesus Christ personally appeared in front of John Q. Creationist and said "Hi, John. My name's Jesus, the Earth is billions of years old and evolution is basically true," then John Q. would probably crucify him for blasphemy. That's what the fundamentalists did, the last time Jesus told them they were wrong. "Everyone" knows that God couldn't have created the Universe using evolution: he's omnipotent, sure, but he's not that omnipotent. In summary, there is no point in trying to argue with these people, their beliefs are nuts even in comparison to other Christians, so let's just ignore them..

Oh, so the story is self-referential? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22490382)

For the Slashdot editors, I mean.

It's a long stretch to call evolution a "fact," and I'm not even talking from a religious standpoint here.

There are peer-reviewed, published papers that contain research that indicates that instead of being survival of the fittest, evolution proceeds along a more symbiotic path. So evolution is a first- or second-order approximation model for genetic material selection, then? For it to be labeled a "fact," it had better be damn well applicable everywhere and you should be able to precisely predict all outcomes from it. Examine the aforementioned papers and you'll find that this is not the case. For that matter, we have exactly one data point for genetic selection modeling: Earth. You'll excuse me if I wait to see how genetic selection occurs on a few other planets before accepting it as "fact."

I'm reasonably certain that one mole = 6.023 * 10^23 molecules is a fact. Evolution? Not so much. Far more precise to call it "a commonly accepted scientific theory," as that's what almost ALL science is. "Facts" and "laws" in science are pretty damned rare.

In conclusion: Slashdot editors, you just called the kettle black. Get your own terms right before slamming someone else and maybe we can have some meaningful discussion. But hey, bashing the nebulous "religious right" generates page views and advertising revenue, eh?

"theory" language is incorrect (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490392)

Every educated person knows the difference between the term "theory" in science and "theory" in legal terminology. The Florida hack confuses the two meanings again.

Theory in science means comprehensive explanation. Theory in law means hypothesis.

I'd replpace the term "theory" by "law" or "system" to prevent future confusion.

Random Evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22490394)

One of the conflicts I see here is the idea that evolution can be a "fact" and at the same time argue that it purely random. By being random, advocates are admitting that it does not have a pre-defined 'direction'. Evolution and De-evolution can and do both occur and since it is a random causal event, nothing can also occur making any claim of certainty quite bizarre.

How can something be a fact that is not predictable? Seems to me you can not even come up with a scientific test to prove it exists,
only that sometimes live things change for the better other times they don't. And of course if it is not random, then is it planned ?

Inbreeding has value (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22490426)

We need a large supply of inbred knuckledraggers so we still have Republicans. Personally, I lived in FL and TN for many years. If they really want a wall, it might be cool to build it on the Mason Dixon Line.

scientific theory (1)

bpotato (1159933) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490564)

Uh. I fully believe the Theory of Evolution to be correct, at least in its generalities (most theories can be improved), but that doesn't mean it's not a theory. It is no more a fact than Newtonian theories of motion (which turned out to be wrong!) What's wrong with them representing it as the theory it is?

Courts struck this down in Georgia (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 6 years ago | (#22490618)

http://www.cnn.com/2005/LAW/01/13/evolution.textbooks.ruling/index.html [cnn.com]

he stickers read, "This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered."

So how is this different just because its Florida? I remember Cobb County getting lampooned for stating a fact, if for the wrong reasons.

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