Teachers urged to defy creationism

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by Paul Gorman, Science reporter
The Press (New Zealand)
20 Jun 2007

Evolution teachers are being told to confront creationism in the classroom and make sure students understand what sets science apart from other subjects.

At the Evolution 2007 conference in Christchurch yesterday, Dr Elizabeth Elle, of Simon Fraser University in Canada, outlined how teachers of evolutionary biology at all levels should deal with resistance from students.

While most of that resistance would come from those with strong religious beliefs, some just had ‘‘misconceptions of the world’’, she said.

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Darwin exhibit hails father of science’s evolutionary war

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by Misha Davenport
Chicago Sun-Times
15 Jun 2007

There truly was no one quite like naturalist Charles Darwin. Unlike some other headline-grabbing contemporaries of his time, Darwin still remains not only relevant, but controversial. A creationist museum just opened in Kentucky, its organizers compelled to counter Darwin’s assertions with their own (that the earth was created in seven days and is only a couple thousand years old).

Darwin is still a hot ticket. And no one knows that better than Thomas Skwerski, the Field Museum’s exhibit project manager, who today unveils the museum’s latest exhibit on all things Darwin.

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Martha Heil — Was She, or Wasn’t She?

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Considering some of the outrageous comments from local and national atheists about the Creation Museum, which they have not yet seen, it’s perhaps fitting to give Martha Heil, Media Coordinator for the American Institute of Physics, a new job title: Martha Heil, Chief Propaganda Officer for the National Atheist Party. You see, Martha claims to have been at the Creation Museum ribbon-cutting ceremony. But, was Martha really at the Creation Museum on Saturday, May 27? Or did she just leave her glasses in the car?

The Panda’s Thumb posted a cleaned up version of Martha’s report. Like much of what Panda’s Thumbers write, they couldn’t even get Martha’s employer correct: it’s the American Institute of Physics, not the American Physical Society. (Martha recently corrected the PD’ers.) Red State Rabble is also happy to perpetuate the error in addition to gushing over her report. The Obligatory Readings of the Day blog claims this is “…the only (so far) on-the-scene report by Martha Heil.” He links to the sillier version posted on Martha’s blog, Intelligent Design Watch. And somehow, Coturnix can’t spell “Ken Ham” correctly even though he claims to follow Ken’s blog…

Let’s take a look at some of the claims about what she ‘saw’ at the ribbon-cutting ceremony…
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Polystrate Fossils Require Rapid Deposition

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by Michael J. Oard and Hank Giesecke
CRS Quarterly, Volume 43 Number 3, March 2007, pp 232-240.

Abstract:
Polystrate fossils are one of numerous evidences for the rapid deposition of strata, as opposed to the uniformitarian belief in slow deposition over millions of years. They are briefly described from the Joggins Formation, Nova Scotia; Yellowstone National Park, Montana and Wyoming; Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park, Washington; the Geodetic Hills of Axel Heiberg Island; the Lompoc diatomite, California; and a diatomite from Peru. Uniformitarian geologists usually ignore polystrate fossils or claim that they represent only local rapid deposition, but they rarely supply any supporting evidence. A new location with polystrate petrified trees is described from open-pit coal mines in Alaska. About twenty upright trees at many different levels support rapid deposition of the strata there. The upright trees can be explained by the log mat model, and evidence from the coal mines supports that interpretation.

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"Answers in Genesis: Reason’s Assassins & Why Darwin Is Your Savior" Lecture

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Miami University (Ohio) Professor Nicholas P. Money (mycology) is presenting the above lecture this Tuesday afternoon, March 27, at 5 pm in Alumni Hall 001, on the Oxford, Ohio campus. Sponsored by the Miami University Department of Comparative Religion and the Comparative Religion Student Association the meeting is free and will include a Q&A.

From the announcement:

Join us for a presentation by Dr. Nicholas Money, Professor of Botany at Miami University. He will be addressing why religious groups such as Answers in Genesis® and the majority of scientists view the theory of evolution so differently as a force within society. There will be time for discussion following the lecture.

Here’s the poster advertising this lecture:

Money's AiG Lecture

While the topic description seems reasonable enough, the title, and especially the poster, suggest this will be a rather inflammatory talk! A reviewer on Amazon describes Money as:

…the Steven Jay Gould of mycology, the Richard Dawkins of the fungi, …

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"Evolution: Education and Outreach" Slated for December 2007 Publication

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As part of the Darwin Day celebrations back on February 12, Biology News Net and Information World Review blog trumpeted the announcement of a new journal to be used against the steadily increasing influence of creationist and Intelligent Design proponents. Evolution: Education and Outreach is expected to launch sometime in December 2007 under the wing of a major science & business publishing conglomerate, Springer-Verlag.

The initial press release said:

Outreach and Education in Evolution, a traditional peer-reviewed journal with non-traditional features, will address these concerns. Each quarterly issue will feature peer-reviewed articles on evolution, “letters from the trenches,” interviews with prominent scientists and educators, lesson plans, critical essays, cartoons, puzzles, reviews on evolution in the media (books, movies, museum openings and exhibitions) and more. The full-color online edition will offer added value, for example chat rooms, teaching resources and blogging opportunities. In addition, Springer has committed up to $10,000 annually in grants and prizes for the best paper, the best lesson plan, etc. The journal, aimed at members of the educational, museum, and scientific community involved in the teaching of evolutionary theory, will be available at a very affordable price.

Springer has finally placed more details online (oddly enough under their Human Genetics Journals pages) including a revised launch date and minor title change. Among the evolutionary luminaries on the ‘Editorial Board’ are: Joel Cracraft, Douglas Futuyma, Ronald L. Numbers, Eugenie Scott, Ian Tattersall, and Carl Zimmer. Editors are Niles and Gregory Eldredge (father & son) with Mick Wycoff as managing editor. ‘Partner Organizations’ include: the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center and UC Berkeley Museum of Paleontology. Global Education Outreach is presumable a partner, although not directly listed as such. The connection appears to be through Dr. Harry Kroto, Nobel Prize winner and an ‘Editorial Board’ member of EEO. (Warning, the GEO website and it’s parent, The Vega Science Trust, make use of the color red in a rather hideous way!)

NOTE: One wonders if Springer’s annual $10,000 in grants and prizes isn’t partly a response to Answer in Genesis’ $50,000 Research Paper Challenge 2007 and AiG’s earlier War of the Worldviews Research Paper Contest?

CP

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"A Great Debate : Can Physics Prove God & Christianity?" June 3, 2007

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The Skeptic Society is sponsoring a debate between Dr. Frank Tipler and Dr. Lawrence Krauss at Caltech’s Baxter Lecture Hall:

In his book, The Physics of Christianity, Dr. Tipler argues that the God depicted by Jews and Christians, the Uncaused First Cause, is completely consistent with the Cosmological Singularity, an entity whose existence is required by physical law. He makes the case for the scientific possibility of miracles, including the Virgin Birth (Jesus was a rare XX male), the Resurrection (a baryon-annihilation process converting flesh into neutrinos), and the Incarnation (reversing the dematerialization process). Tipler outlines practical experiments that can help prove the validity of the “miracles” at the heart of Christianity.

Dr. Krauss, an expert on cosmology, quantum mechanics, and general relativity, is quite familiar with Tipler’s arguments and will provide a cogent response and argue that the scientific evidence from these fields, upon which Tipler rests his case, do not confirm the central tenets of Christianity or any other religion, and that attempts to employ science in the service of religion are doomed to failure. Science and religion, Krauss believes, are best kept separate, and that the tools of science that search for naturalistic explanations cannot be used to prove the supernatural.

We can assume that this debate is partly inspired by the upcoming May 2007 publication of Tipler’s newest book, The Physics of Christianity. Tipler’s opponent, Dr. Krauss, has a long history as a debunker of religion, creation, and now, intelligent design.

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