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Old 2007-05-22, 00:01   Link #41
Kyuusai
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WanderingKnight View Post
The whole assuming of the existence of a god that created it is as much of a belief as science--don't dismiss it. You're making statistics out of what? We are already here. Out of the gazillions of planets and solar systems existing, life was born on this planet, and we're the only ones to record that. And you're reversing the conditions of adaptation: this planet seems perfect for life because life was perfectly adapted to this planet, not the other way around. Who knows, life may exist on other planets with completely different characteristic than ours.
Indeed.

A friend of mine who was a devout atheist (and may still be) put it more succinctly: "Even if the odds of us existing by chance are one in a hundred trillion, any one who DOES exist by chance is going to have the same odds of existing by chance as some one who didn't."

To which I replied, "You wouldn't bet horses on those odds."

Science and Judeo-Christian religion aren't opposed. To think that they are opposed is to misunderstand either religion or the scientific method. Most people on either side don't even understand the stance they're arguing from, and so the squabbling continues. As far as I can see, it takes more faith to believe that we're a product of chance rather than design. I think that's what makes up the strong contingent that states that science and religion are at odds: People who don't want to believe in God find it easier to believe in infinitesimal odds if they first disprove to themselves their concept of God or religion.

I just kind of find it funny that people will dismiss the entire concept of a creator out of hand when the alternative is so unlikely. Which isn't to say "atheism is silly, every one should be convert to my religion", but to say that agnosticism as a far more intellectually defensible position than atheism.

But since the basic idea of a creator has nothing to do with the "Creationism Science" movement, I suppose I'm getting off topic.
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Old 2007-05-22, 01:02   Link #42
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I hate to sound so close-minded, but I just don't care if other people try to persuade me that creationism is not proven scientifically. It's a matter of faith. I have my own ideas about the Bible and scientific theory, of which I don't feel like getting into a long discussion over.

Instead of being evangelistic, I have adopted a "wait and see" attitude. I find that it's a much lower stress stance to maintain.
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Old 2007-05-22, 05:54   Link #43
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Science and Judeo-Christian religion aren't opposed. To think that they are opposed is to misunderstand either religion or the scientific method. Most people on either side don't even understand the stance they're arguing from, and so the squabbling continues.
That's why I said in the beginning of that post, "The whole assuming of the existence of a god that created it is as much of a belief as science".

Quote:
People who don't want to believe in God find it easier to believe in infinitesimal odds if they first disprove to themselves their concept of God or religion.
No, it's not a matter of believing in chance--it's a matter of not going to look for the easiest approach. I find the concept of resorting to a more powerful being than ourselves very disturbing, personally, but I don't get in the way of those who do it. Of course, I've had my share of people getting in the way of my convictions.

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To which I replied, "You wouldn't bet horses on those odds."
That's not understanding the concept of adaptation. Horses are an inevitable consequence of the environment the Earth created, as are all species--including ourselves. Adaptation, at the very core of it, isn't something that can be defined by odds. Though maybe it is taught like that, it is much, much more complex.
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Old 2007-05-22, 06:06   Link #44
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This debate was rekindled in Australia in the Sydney Morning Herald recently, when Richard Dawkins' two-part documentary, The Root of All Evil?, was shown on Australian TV on Sunday. Wow, such dogged dogmaticism (no pun intended, really) on both sides.

Honestly, though I feel that the atheist movement (Dawkins, Hitchens and co) have reason on their side, that's not going to help much in the way of persuading the rest of the population. Like Dan Gardner said in the Ottawa Citizen,
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Gardner
...it is absolutely true that Dawkins' tone is often as charming as fingernails dragged slowly down a chalkboard.
I'm not going to wait and see whether there is a God or not. I live my life as if there isn't one. For me, it's the most practical way of living.

edit: I'm thankful our Prime Minster hasn't aggressively pushed for ID/Creationism to be taught in our schools.
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Old 2007-05-22, 07:51   Link #45
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Well, I remembered something I wanted to put into my post, which I forgot:

Honestly, one of the main reasons why I see religion failing is because it is too egocentric. I mean, it takes humanity as a uniqueness in the universe, as the center of it, as the main reason for its existence. It took a long time for mankind to finally grasp that the Earth is not the center of the universe, and yet, religion keeps on carrying within itself such a sense of biological self-centering which I find awfully amusing. It's like I argued in a thread we were discussing about nature and whatnot (I think it was the dolphin massacre thread), when I noticed people making a clear distinction between "mankind" and "nature", when in truth, I believe that mankind and everything man-made is as much a part of nature as your regular tree. Religion still pushes on with this dichotomy, which leads, in my opinion, to a mistaken view on the position of humanity in the universe.
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Old 2007-05-22, 08:39   Link #46
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spectacular_Insanity
The chances of life spontaneously forming and then evolving, even over tens of millions of years, is statistically ridiculous. After all, how can one explain the more-or-less perfect conditions for living on the planet in terms of perfect distance from the sun, gravity, composition of the atmosphere, etc. with mere science.
You're talking about two different things here. The beginning of life is covered by abiogenesis, while evolution is about how different species arise. For the former, arguing the statistical odds of life is a very poor use of statistical tools.

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Originally Posted by Spectacular_Insanity
Whatever we think we might know about the universe is substantially greater (and, IMHO, will always be) that what we actually do know.
I think that you may be surprised. Scientists will be the first to declare how much we don't understand about the universe.
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Old 2007-05-22, 08:46   Link #47
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I think that you may be surprised. Scientists will be the first to declare how much we don't understand about the universe.
Good point. That's why we can't argue about the existence of a god--siding with either position means incurring into a fallacy (ad ignorantiam fallacy).
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Old 2007-05-22, 09:15   Link #48
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Originally Posted by WanderingKnight View Post
Good point. That's why we can't argue about the existence of a god--siding with either position means incurring into a fallacy (ad ignorantiam fallacy).
That's not quite correct. Scientifically speaking, there's no evidence of any supernatural creator, ergo there's no reason to believe that one exists either. Many scientists are willing to entertain the idea that one may exist, but until there's any proof of one, it's an utterly unimportant issue as far as science is concerned. This is a fairly straightforward application of Occam's Razor.

It's pointless to worry about flying pigs until we actually see any.
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Old 2007-05-22, 09:25   Link #49
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No, no, you didn't get me. If you assert god exists, in order to explain things unexplainable right now, you're incurring into a fallacy because there's no proof, and if you assert there's no god behind the things unexplainable right now, then you're also incurring into a fallacy, because we don't know yet. That's the way I was taught in philosophy class--maybe I'm not phrasing my thoughts correctly, but I'm sure it had something to do with that.
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Old 2007-05-22, 09:37   Link #50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WanderingKnight View Post
That's why I said in the beginning of that post, "The whole assuming of the existence of a god that created it is as much of a belief as science".
Oh, I was just agreeing with you there.

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Originally Posted by WanderingKnight View Post
No, it's not a matter of believing in chance--it's a matter of not going to look for the easiest approach. I find the concept of resorting to a more powerful being than ourselves very disturbing, personally, but I don't get in the way of those who do it. Of course, I've had my share of people getting in the way of my convictions.
I wouldn't say resorting. It's just assuming the most likely explanation in the absence of evidence to the contrary. For example, neither Newton nor Einstein had a complete or even completely correct physics model, but by assuming that their models were correct since it was the least unlikely explanation we were able to progress to a better understanding that has allowed us to move on to better physics models which we know aren't totally correct, but assume they are so we can progress further.

The huge difference there is that assuming the existence of a creator does very little, if anything, for our scientific understanding. We may come to a point, though, where assuming the NON-existence of a creator could become a limiting factor to our understanding.

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That's not understanding the concept of adaptation. Horses are an inevitable consequence of the environment the Earth created, as are all species--including ourselves. Adaptation, at the very core of it, isn't something that can be defined by odds. Though maybe it is taught like that, it is much, much more complex.
Well, by my reference to horses I was referring to gambling (it doesn't make sense to bet on something when the odds are overwhelmingly against you), but adaptation to the environment versus odds of random chance is an important point.

This entire world is full of creatures that beat the odds because of their ability to adapt. What's more curious to me is that there is both an environment in which these things COULD adapt, and that there was any motivation TO adapt (of course I don't mean intellectual motivation). Objects at rest do tend to stay at rest, after all, even in biology--and especially when biology technically does not exist yet in a particular time or place.

Assumptions about adaptation are why I chuckle about people being so excited about finding water on other celestial bodies. It is really neat to think that there could be life on other planets, but even assuming the unlikely occurance of abiogenesis elsewhere, who's to say that all other life forms are carbon based? If we evolved by chance from a single celled organism developed by abiogenesis millions of years ago, why do we assume that abiogenesis looks like that everywhere? I think if we did find cellular, carbon-based life forms on other planets it would be further evidence for the likelyhood of a creator... just one that for some reason really liked the whole inspiring carbon-based life form schtick for whatever reasons. There would also be the possibility of already existing life being "seeded" from mass moving through space, but that in itself introduces even more unlikelyhoods.

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Honestly, one of the main reasons why I see religion failing is because it is too egocentric. I mean, it takes humanity as a uniqueness in the universe, as the center of it, as the main reason for its existence. It took a long time for mankind to finally grasp that the Earth is not the center of the universe, and yet, religion keeps on carrying within itself such a sense of biological self-centering which I find awfully amusing. It's like I argued in a thread we were discussing about nature and whatnot (I think it was the dolphin massacre thread), when I noticed people making a clear distinction between "mankind" and "nature", when in truth, I believe that mankind and everything man-made is as much a part of nature as your regular tree. Religion still pushes on with this dichotomy, which leads, in my opinion, to a mistaken view on the position of humanity in the universe.
Is there a particular religion you're referring to?

From the Judeo-Christian side, humans not only weren't the center of creation, but creation wasn't only earthly life. According to this religious standpoint, earth was only a part of larger creation, and life wasn't limited to earth (or even the types of life found on earth). Humans were special in certain ways (reasoning and some other intangible element separating them from animals), but were still part of a larger picture of life.

I agree, viewing humans as the center of the universe, either literally or metaphorically, is egocentric. It's not a view supported by the Judeo-Christian religion, however. So many of its followers think that way, though, I can see how people would assume the religion teaches it.
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Old 2007-05-22, 10:11   Link #51
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Quote:

From the Judeo-Christian side, humans not only weren't the center of creation, but creation wasn't only earthly life. According to this religious standpoint, earth was only a part of larger creation, and life wasn't limited to earth (or even the types of life found on earth). Humans were special in certain ways (reasoning and some other intangible element separating them from animals), but were still part of a larger picture of life.
That's what I mean by egocentric view. Humans are god's "spoiled little children", and if I remember correctly, there was this little thing in the Genesis book about man being made as an image of god (I remember the Spanish quote for that passage, but I don't know the English one. If someone can clarify on the matter, I'd be very glad). According to the bible, humans held a special place among all other animals, thus delimiting a clear line between "nature" and "human beings"--which is the reason why I said religion, as long as it places man in a special place among "creation", handles an egocentric concept.

Quote:
What's more curious to me is that there is both an environment in which these things COULD adapt, and that there was any motivation TO adapt (of course I don't mean intellectual motivation). Objects at rest do tend to stay at rest, after all, even in biology--and especially when biology technically does not exist yet in a particular time or place.
An unstable system will tend to stabilize itself. We still don't know what exactly is the "stable" state of the universe, but for that matter, it could be simply argued that the appearance of life was the consequence the ongoing instability of the universe. In fact, it could also be said that the only stable moment of the universe is right before the Big Bang, where all mass and energy gathers into a single point... but that'd be a bit far-fetched.

Quote:
The huge difference there is that assuming the existence of a creator does very little, if anything, for our scientific understanding. We may come to a point, though, where assuming the NON-existence of a creator could become a limiting factor to our understanding.
Well, it could be argued that it ultimately hampers the full scientific understanding of the universe, if such a thing is possible (which we don't know yet, despite whatever Jinto Lin has to say to this matter )... and I hardly see assuming the non-existence to be a limiting factor for the scientific understanding of the universe.
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Old 2007-05-22, 11:09   Link #52
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WanderingKnight
If you assert god exists, in order to explain things unexplainable right now, you're incurring into a fallacy because there's no proof, and if you assert there's no god behind the things unexplainable right now, then you're also incurring into a fallacy, because we don't know yet. That's the way I was taught in philosophy class--maybe I'm not phrasing my thoughts correctly, but I'm sure it had something to do with that.
I have no problem understanding your position. You're quite correct as far as defining the logical fallacy goes. The thing is, epistemologically speaking, philosophy and science work a little differently. As far as science is concerned, if there's no evidence something exists, then it's automatically assumed that it doesn't. The burden of proof is upon the one who's trying to prove that the something exists.

Thus, while the statement "God doesn't exist" may seem fallacious; the statement, "There's no evidence to suggest that God exists" is much more scientifically correct. Functionally, there's not much difference between the two.

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Originally Posted by Kyuusai
Assumptions about adaptation are why I chuckle about people being so excited about finding water on other celestial bodies. It is really neat to think that there could be life on other planets, but even assuming the unlikely occurance of abiogenesis elsewhere, who's to say that all other life forms are carbon based? If we evolved by chance from a single celled organism developed by abiogenesis millions of years ago, why do we assume that abiogenesis looks like that everywhere?
I think that you're misconstruing the reason why they're excited. If a body has similar conditions to Earth, the chance that there's life there and the chance that it's similar to ours is that much higher. We would have much more difficulty recognizing more unusual types of lifeforms.
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Old 2007-05-22, 11:27   Link #53
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The idea that we're not alone in an entire universe is very compelling, hence the desire to search. There is always the chance we may actually be the first form of intelligent life -- spreading it around might be a bit centrist but seems to make things mean a bit more.

Also... in the murky 1-in-a-trillion chance we actually NEEDED to go somewhere else ... it would be nice to already know which way to go
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Old 2007-05-22, 11:45   Link #54
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Also... in the murky 1-in-a-trillion chance we actually NEEDED to go somewhere else ... it would be nice to already know which way to go
If mankind intends to stay for a very, very prolonged time then we're certainly going to need moving out. The sun, for starters, won't shine as brightly as now forever .

Quote:
Thus, while the statement "God doesn't exist" may seem fallacious; the statement, "There's no evidence to suggest that God exists" is much more scientifically correct. Functionally, there's not much difference between the two.
I agree. The thing is, we were discussing logics in those classes, so as an example of a fallacy, we used "God exists/God doesn't exist". Of course, "there's no evidence of it" is much more precise, and it renders a slight difference: that you leave the possibility for existence open, of a new evidence appearing.
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Old 2007-05-22, 12:12   Link #55
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If mankind intends to stay for a very, very prolonged time then we're certainly going to need moving out. The sun, for starters, won't shine as brightly as now forever .
I don't think that's something to worry about since I don't see mankind lasting that long.
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Religion can be something very enriching, at least it is for some people I know. I however am too biased in my belief and understanding of the world, I have no choice but to dismiss the existence of some creator, at least in the sense that I believe religion does teach it. What's so unlikely about life coincidentally (determined or not doesn't really make a difference, it just would assume one common source for all of chance) evolving on one of ∞ planets in space? Moreover, we don't even know if mankind is the only form of life, I don't find other intelligent beings all that unlikely (even though intelligent is probably not the appropriate term here, since it would once again presume the narrow mindset of mankind). It might be so very different from what we can percieve or even imagine that our limited means of cognition don't and will never suffice to even notice it's existence.
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Old 2007-05-22, 12:18   Link #56
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Originally Posted by WanderingKnight View Post
That's what I mean by egocentric view. Humans are god's "spoiled little children", and if I remember correctly, there was this little thing in the Genesis book about man being made as an image of god (I remember the Spanish quote for that passage, but I don't know the English one. If someone can clarify on the matter, I'd be very glad). According to the bible, humans held a special place among all other animals, thus delimiting a clear line between "nature" and "human beings"--which is the reason why I said religion, as long as it places man in a special place among "creation", handles an egocentric concept.
Well, "special" doesn't necessarily mean "better". Humans were special in their own way, but were quite ordinary when compared to the specialness of other forms of creation. In the human species, men are special because (generally speaking) they are stronger, but they are still humans. Women are special for their own abilities, but are still humans. Likewise, humans are still a part of nature despite their relative place in it.

Humans, of course, are distinct from the rest of nature, despite being part of it. They are the only beings in nature that have to put effort into co-existing with nature without unbalancing the systems they are part of. To the best of our observation, humans are also the only beings in nature capable of reason, and it's a good thing, because human id without reason would wreck the natural systems around it. They are, for the most part, "outside the circle", and at the top of the chain of life until they're decaying in the ground.

That much can be observed without religion. Genesis puts it in perspective, though, by saying "Humans screwed things up for every one." The message being that humans should be humble despite the place they observe themselves relative to the rest of nature. (There's more to the message, but is really irrelevant until that humility is well established)

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Well, it could be argued that it ultimately hampers the full scientific understanding of the universe, if such a thing is possible (which we don't know yet, despite whatever Jinto Lin has to say to this matter )... and I hardly see assuming the non-existence to be a limiting factor for the scientific understanding of the universe.
I should have been more specific: Rather than meaning that assuming the existence of a creator can't hurt our scientific understanding, I meant that assuming the existence of a creator doesn't really help our understanding. If we assume non-existence, though, then we create a bias against any evidence or conclusions that could potentially be proof of a creator, no matter how valid they may be.

I doubt we'll ever come to a point in science where we actually get to the point of determining anything about a creator, though. I expect that we'll continue to study the "how" without ever scientifically getting to the questions of "who/what" or "why". The most we grapple with right now are scientists who give undue credit to certain hypotheses or theories that, in their minds, discredit religion, while maligning those that might align with positions already taken by people who've taken their beliefs from their religions. Personal bias distorting scientific study isn't confined to religious debate, though.

Despite our back and forth quibbling over semantics, it seems that our viewpoints on this are pretty close. I find that quite interesting that's the case, considering our different backgrounds.
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Old 2007-05-22, 12:25   Link #57
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And I'll pose a new question to the American community: What's the state of its influence in public education? I've heard of cases where schools actually did not teach or mention the theory of evolution at all. I haven't heard whether they predicated the creationist science doctrine or not, but yet... not talking about something as important as Darwin's theory on evolution seems so alien to me...
I went to school in California, so I've never encountered this sort of thing(blue states). The U.S. is a huge country with a lot of different communities. I'm sure it has happend out there (violation of church and state is always a hot topic).

I wouldn't expect that sort of thing to happen in any Universities at all. It might be a certain high school in a certain county of a certain state with this 'problem'.

I'm sure there are a lot of cases where it goes unnoticed because the community agrees with it, but I don't really know what kind of an impact it has on the rest of the country.

http://www.venganza.org/about/open-letter/

I'm sure you've seen this before
It's a little different ... ID taught alongside evolution.
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Old 2007-05-22, 12:28   Link #58
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I have no problem understanding your position. You're quite correct as far as defining the logical fallacy goes. The thing is, epistemologically speaking, philosophy and science work a little differently. As far as science is concerned, if there's no evidence something exists, then it's automatically assumed that it doesn't. The burden of proof is upon the one who's trying to prove that the something exists.

Thus, while the statement "God doesn't exist" may seem fallacious; the statement, "There's no evidence to suggest that God exists" is much more scientifically correct. Functionally, there's not much difference between the two.
That is correct, but the scope of the assumption only covers anything within the scope of what is being observed or what might affect what you are observing. Saying that science assumes God without proof of him is like saying that science assumes the observer doesn't exist (excepting in the case of quantum physics, of course). In other words, it's a pointless statement with no bearing on the larger picture, and worthless in actually judging the existence of a creator.

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I think that you're misconstruing the reason why they're excited. If a body has similar conditions to Earth, the chance that there's life there and the chance that it's similar to ours is that much higher. We would have much more difficulty recognizing more unusual types of lifeforms.
No, I understand the reason for the excitement. I just don't find that possibility any more exciting than the possibility of other forms of life that wouldn't have an immediate understanding of.

Which would be more exciting? Discovering horses exist across multiple continents, or discovering the platypus? Every one has their own opinion, of course.
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Old 2007-05-22, 12:45   Link #59
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I went to school in California, so I've never encountered this sort of thing(blue states). The U.S. is a huge country with a lot of different communities. I'm sure it has happend out there (violation of church and state is always a hot topic).

I wouldn't expect that sort of thing to happen in any Universities at all. It might be a certain high school in a certain county of a certain state with this 'problem'.

I'm sure there are a lot of cases where it goes unnoticed because the community agrees with it, but I don't really know what kind of an impact it has on the rest of the country.

http://www.venganza.org/about/open-letter/

I'm sure you've seen this before
It's a little different ... ID taught alongside evolution.
In the US () you can go to private so-called religious universities and get the same line of thought untested by a variety of views.

But you're right... its a big country and the attitudes vary dramatically even within a few miles of each other.
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Old 2007-05-22, 13:10   Link #60
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In the US () you can go to private so-called religious universities and get the same line of thought untested by a variety of views.

But you're right... its a big country and the attitudes vary dramatically even within a few miles of each other.
I should have been more specific , public universities only.

I know that Santa Clara(the christian private school in my area), is no different from any other high rated university in terms of the quality of education you can get there.
It's still hard to get in and all that. So there are exceptions to that too.


I'll also tell an interesting story about something that happend in a public school.

There is a program called middle college, in a local community college. You spend your last year of high school taking college classes and you get credit for high school and for college.
It was ment to inspire students who didn't do so well in High School.

The teacher that organized this program had an interesting curriculum. He was supposed to be a gov/econ teacher but he did this whole segment on 'critical thinking', where we would 'think critically' about evolutionary theory. Basically we spent about a month disproving evolution and finding unlawful court decision that were pro-choice(abortion). Also covered a bunch of court cases where it was ruled 'violation of church and state' and Mr. Booth didn't feel that it was.

The year I was there he got in a whole lot of trouble. An atheist girl took some of the material home to show to her parents and they went ballistic. He was outta there next year.

He had district funding and he was doing this sort of thing in a small scale for quite a while . It turned out he was a minister ... I have no idea what the school was thinking.
The rest of his class was excellent. Overall I didn't even care ... other than that one month his class was fantastic.
Plus ... I thought critically about a lot of what he gave us to read in that month and disagreed on everything pretty much.
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There is a little known provision in the Forum Rules that explicitly allows a moderator to remove any signature image that they believe to be inappropriate for any reason. I have saved this image into my "WTF directory" just in case I ever wonder if it was only been a bad dream, and have removed it from the forum. Hopefully Lexander will never do this again!

Last edited by Lexander; 2007-05-22 at 13:41.
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