Welcome to the Emory Valley Center for Evolutionary Studies

Emory Valley lies on the eastern edge of the city, and the Clinch River runs through it. It's a beautiful spot to sit and study the world - so let's do that. Here's the Emory Valley Center for Evolutionary Studies...


Those Stickers....
Here's an actual one:

Let's take a quick look at the case:

Tuesday Nov 9, New York Times:
Stickers Put in Evolution Text
The Cobb County School District placed stickers in biology textbooks saying that evolution was "a theory, not a fact" and should be "approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered."

The [Cobb County] school board says the stickers, which do not mention creationism or religion, are nothing more than a neutral gesture to parents who have lost their battle against teaching evolution in the public schools...intended only to "acknowledge that it may hurt some people's feelings," said E. Linwood Gunn, a lawyer for the board.

Kenneth Miller, a Brown University professor who is a co-author of the biology textbook, testified that he feared that singling out evolution told students "we are certain of everything in this book except evolution. ... What bothers me is it plays on the popular understanding of the word 'theory', which is like a hunch, not the scientific understanding."

Marjorie Rogers, a parent and self-described "six-day literal creationist" who led a drive that prompted the stickers, said she was not advocating the teaching of religion, but just more theories besides evolution, which she said was disputed science. "I just want an even footing, if there's any kind of science to support it."

And then, a win for the good guys! Here's the Court Decision if you're interested.
And now some commentary:

First, poor old Marjorie hasn't a clue. There is NO science to support "six-day literal creationism", which is a-scientific to the max. And usually proudly so. She can believe if it she wants (though frankly, I don't see how you can make yourself that willfully blind, or choose a god who plays those kinds of smug, juvenile games with you, but that's her problem), but she can't ask for it to have "an even footing". You might as well teach that we all came from a lotus growing out of Brahma's navel, or a bit of spit-up by a star-creature, as six-day creationism. Ptooey.

Second, evolution is not disputed science, not in any meaningful definition of the term. Sure, people like Marjorie dispute it, but scientists don't. Biologists don't, anthropologists don't, physicists don't ... there is some back and forth going on about specific details, but nobody in science (or close enough to nobody) disputes the basic underlying mechanism of evolution.

For some support on this, check out this month (November 2004)'s National Geographic. The one with the cover picture of a lizard and the blaring title: Was Darwin Wrong? On the inside it answers the question with an categorical "No, the evidence for evolution is overwhelming." One of the article's sections deals with the fossil records for an extensive amount of the intermediary forms of whales, a record which indicates they are most closely related to the antelopes. That's not what a lot of people used to think. For instance, Dr. Philip Gingerich, a paleontologist who has led the research, had to discard his original theory that whales had descended from a group of carnivorous Eocene mammals in favor of this new theory because of the overwhelming DNA and fossil evidence. Point being, he did discard it - something scientists do a lot of when that pesky little thing called "evidence" shows up - but only that little detail of it. Evolution itself is not disputed. There's no evidence that whales were created out of the whole cloth on Day 5, with antelopes (and small carnivorous Eocene mammals, for that matter) not being created until Day 6 - in fact, there's plenty of evidence against that.

Third, Professor Miller is right: in science, a theory is not a guess. (Check that Nat'l Geo article for a good description of what a scientific theory is.) It's a carefully constructed explanation for what we know, supported by all the evidence, accounting for all that happens and predicting things that we don't know yet. That's the key, folks. Sure, six-day creationism has an explanation: god did it like this, so there. He made a planet with fossils of things that never existed, and carbon dating and lead dating that made it look like the planet was really really old, and light on its way here from those far away galaxies (which were created after the planet), and so on and so forth. You can't argue with these folks: their answer is always "God did it like that to test us". But they can't predict squat.

You know what? Gravity is a theory. Relativity is a theory. Strings are a theory. Germs are a theory. Atomic structure is a theory. Plate tectonics is a theory. Marjorie objects to all of them (well, maybe not gravity); which one gets stickers next? Hey! Let's put stickers on everything - that'll make the evolution ones as meaningless and neutral as they claim. After all, everything should be "approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered." Well, except maybe young earth creationism, which must never, never, never be critically considered...

And finally, E. Linwood Gunn is doing one of two things: (a) defending an action that he knows is untenable by pretending it's meaningless (in which case, why defend it?) or (b) patronizing the hell out of somebody. Either the thinkers, who he thinks can't tell what he's doing, or the believers, who he thinks can be placated by having their hurt feelings assuaged by little stickers in the book.

Here's a nice set of stickers: (note: the quote in the last sticker is accurate, though slightly cropped to make the point. For the record, what W said in full was: "From Scripture you can gain a lot of strength and solace and learn life's lessons. That's what I believe, and I don't necessarily believe every single word is literally ture. I think that, for example, on the issue of evolution, the verdict is still out on how God created the earth. I don't use the Bible as necessarily a way to predict the findings of science." (from the NY Times, Oct 22, 2000) There's a lot of weasingly in there - two 'not necessarily's for one thing), but it's pretty moderate, really. It's possible the misspellings in the sticker pushed the point a bit too far, but then again, the "verdict" is not out, except in the minds of those who "will not see". As long as creationists willfully misquote people like Gould and Einstein, I don't mind making fun of them.

and here's a PDF printable version for best quality.

You should look around the stickers page and, in fact, the whole Evolution Outreach Projects page while you're there.

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