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...


Carl Sagan

from The Demon-Haunted World

With the continuing support of Stalin and later of Khrushchev, Lysenko ruthlessly suppressed classical genetics. Soviet school biology texts in the early 1960s has as little about chromosomes and classical genetics as many American school biology texts have about evoultion today. But no new crop of winter wheat grew; incantations of the phrase "dialectical materialism" went unheard by the DNA of domesticated plants; Soviet agriculture remained in the doldrums; and today [1996], partly for this reason, Russia--world-class in many other sciences--is almost hopeless backward in molecular biology and genetic engineering. Two generations of modern biologists have been lost. Lysenkoism was not overthrown until 1964, in a series of debates and votes at the Soviet Academy of Sciences -- one of the few institutions to maintain a degree of independence from the leaders of party and state -- in which the nuclear physicist Andrei Sakharov played an outstanding role.

Americans tend to shake their heads in astonishment at the Soviet experience. The idea that some state-endorsed ideology or popular prejudice would hog-tie scientific progress seems unthinkable. For 200 years Americans have prided themselves on being a practical, pragmatic, nonideological people. And yet anthropological and psychological pseudoscience has flourished in the United State -- on race, for example. Under the guise of "creationism," a serious effort continues to be made to prevent evolutionary theory -- the powerful integrating idea in all of biology, and essential for other sciences ranging from astronomy to anthropology -- from being taught in the schools.
[pp 262-263]

...

If you accept the literal truth of every word in the Bible, then the Earth must be flat. The same is true for the Qu'ran. Pronouncing the earth round then means you're an atheist. In 1993, the supreme religious authority of Saudi Arabia, Sheik Abdel-Aziz ibn Baaz, issued an edict, or fatwa, declaring that the world is flat. Anyone of the round persuasion does not believe in God and should be punished. Among many ironies, the lucid evidence that the Earth is a sphere, accumulated by the second-century Graeco-Egyptian astronomer Claudius Ptolomaeus, was transmitted to the West by the astronomers who were Muslim and Arab. In the ninth century, they named Ptolemy's book in which the sphericity of the Earth is demonstrated, the Almagest, "The Greatest."

I meet many people offended by evolution, who passionately prefer to be the personal handicraft of God than to arise by blind physical and chemical forces over aeons from slime. They also tend to be less than assiduous in exposing themselves to the evidence. Evidence has little to do with it: What they wish to be true, they believe is true. Only 9 percent of Americans accept the central finding of modern biology that human beings (and all other species) have slowly evolved by natural processes from a succession of more ancient beings with no divine intervention needed along the way. (When asked merely if they accept evolution, 45 percent of Americans say yes. The figure is 70 percent in China.) When the movie Jurassic Park was shown in Israel, it was condemned by some Orthodox rabbis because it accepted evolution and because it taught that dinosaurs lived a hundred million years ago -- when, as is plainly stated at every Rosh Hashonah and every Jewish wedding ceremony, the Universe is less than 6,000 years old. The clearest evidence of evolution can be found in our genes. But evolution is still being fought, ironically by those whose own DNA proclaims it -- in the schools, in the courts, in textbook publishing houses ...
[pp 325-326]

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