Saturday, October 14, 2006

The descent of (Ro)man

Far right Polish politicians are not descended from apes.

Members of the League of Polish Families (LPR) have started a campaign against the theory of evolution. Miroslaw Orzechowski (deputy education minsiter) said:

"The theory of evolution is a lie, an error that we have legalised as a common truth….We should not teach lies, just as we should not teach bad instead of good, or ugliness instead of beauty….We are not going to withdraw Darwin's theory from the school books, but we should start to discuss it."

According to Orzechowski, Darwin only thought all that stuff about humans descending from apes because he was ‘a vegetarian’ and consequently lacked ‘fire in his belly’ [?].

His boss at the Education ministry and leader of LPR, Roman Giertych umed and ahed about evolution on Radio Zet, though he is on record as not believing a word of Darwin’s Descent of Man.

The story started earlier in the week when Roman’s father, and member of the European Parliament, Dr. Maciej Giertych (who is an expert on the genetics of trees) did call for evolution to be taken out of European textbooks.

Maciej Giertych is a well known Creationist biologist. In a forward to Creation Rediscovered, by Gerard J. Keane, Giertych wrote:

‘Genetics has no proofs for Evolution. It has trouble explaining it. The closer one looks at the evidence for Evolution, the less one finds of substance…..

A whole age of scientific endeavor was wasted searching for a phantom. It is time we stopped and looked at the facts! Natural sciences failed to supply any evidence for Evolution. Christian philosophy tried to accommodate this unproved postulate of materialist philosophies. Much time and intellectual effort went in vain, leading only to negative moral consequences. It is time those working in the humanities were told the truth.’

So what are Polish kids going to be taught in biology class, if the Giertychs get their way?

Well, take Noah’s Ark. Creationists like Maciej Gietych, following John Woodmorappe’s book Noah’s Ark: a Feasibility Study,.have spent much energy trying to prove that Noah did in fact take animals on a large boat during the floods. Woodmorappe and others calculate that the ark, as it says in Genesis, was about 140x23x13.5 metres (or 459x75x44 feet), so its volume was 43,500 m3 (cubic metres) or 1.54 million cubic feet. To put this in perspective, this is the equivalent volume of 522 train carriages – which Woodthmorappe calculates could accommodate around 16,000 animals.

‘But, Miss’, I hear the kids thinking at school as they are being taught this, ‘How would Noah get rid of, you know…all the animal shit?’ He was in the boat with 16,000 animals for just under a year.

Answers in clears the matter up (if you forgive the deliberate pun):

‘It is doubtful whether the humans had to clean the cages every morning. Possibly they had sloped floors or slatted cages, where the manure could fall away from the animals and be flushed away (plenty of water around!) or destroyed by vermicomposting (composting by worms) which would also provide earthworms as a food source. Very deep bedding can sometimes last for a year without needing a change. Absorbent material (e.g. sawdust, softwood wood shavings and especially peat moss) would reduce the moisture content and hence the odour….’

It might have smelt fresh on Noah’s Ark but do I detect the smell of bullshit trying to enter the science classrooms of Poland?

League of Polish Families info pages


Erik said...

I was fairly hopeful that Intelligent Design and others things of the same value would stay on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. But even if that's too much to hope for, to claim that Noah’s Ark was real and the story to go with it, reality, is a travesty towards education. I can live with the dirty play in politics, I can live with unethical business, but it is unacceptable to allow such mockery of what we teach to our children and regard to be the truth. Though I am at the time a darwinist, I can accept an alternative to it if, and only if, the alternative has better scientific backing. But to come out with such inane bullshit as to alledge the existance of Noah's Ark or to bluntly deny evolution, is a whole new level of ridiculousness.

beatroot said...
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beatroot said...

But I think the West has only itself to blame for this. It's multiculturalism in action. ‘Hey, science is only one truth….’. So now we cannot defend the scientific method because trendy cultural studies lecturers tell students that ‘science is just another discourse’…(I do know about this, because I was one).

Science and religion are now equal sources of Truth.

So Creationists have moved into the relativist space. Can’t blame them for that.

Agnes said...

The next step - for those who preach that science is just another truth - btw since when is science a 'truth' - would be to pray instead of going to a dentist for example? I can hardly wait for that. Let's see then... when priests
pull out the bad tooth. Or in that case these people will have great respect for
"the scientific beliefs" of others, I wonder.

roman said...

In order to finally dispel the notion of Intelligent Design once and for all, there needs to be something more than just a THEORY of evolution. A theory is just an idea or belief about something arrived at through conjecture or speculation. Sure, the current scientific data favors Darwin's theory but the evolutionary connections are still very much disjointed and rely heavily on conjecture. For some this is not conclusive proof. The Noah's Ark example is wishful anecdotal flight of fancy by religious kooks and is rather humerous. It should not, however, be used to ridicule those who would prefer to see some stronger scientific proof for Darwin's theories and not just "educated" guesses. The heavier this theory is promoted, the more skeptical some get. A theory needs scientific truths more than promotional salesmanship by acedemics. Thanks to the few skeptics out there to remind us that evolution is just "theory" and not science "fact".

beatroot said...

Roman – a scientific theory is not the common use of the Word. A theory becomes a theory after a hypothesis (which is what you mean) and then you try testing that by experiment or observation. Once these fit your hypothesis then you have ‘a scientific theory’.

At the moment, evolution fits best observable reality. Unfortunately some of that observation is missing (in the fossil records, where there are gaps.)

Intelligent Design can never become a scientific theory because much of what they say – the existence of a ‘guiding hand – GoD, is not falsifiable and so cannot and should not be taught in schools anywhere near a science class.

Henry – it is not necessary for a Giertych is no or care about Po Mo. What is important is that it makes it harder for us to argue against IT entering classrooms if we are teaching 16 year old kids in science classes - not hard science – but a wishy washy version of post modern philosophy of science. That’s the problem. And then they see their mums taking homeopathy pills when they get home.

Euologist - having an Oxford degree doesn't mean very much these days.

He's got another one from Boston as well...a!

michael farris said...

Two points:

1. Ah, the sweet, sweet smell of vindication. I've been telling people in Poland about creationist crazies in the US for years and I could tell they didn't believe me. Now they have one as minister of education. Take that! Doubters!

2. Isn't this a slap against JPII who officially said there's no contradiction between the theory of evolution and the bible? The RC church has long taken a stand against textual literalism, arguing basically that the bible is god speaking to humanity in a way that humanity (when it was written) could understand.
Why is the LPR attacking the Polish Pope?!?!!!

beatroot said...

Mike – well indeed. But, as a sign of the )western) times, there has been debate and rethinking within the Vatican this summer about evolution.

See here

Frank Partisan said...

Discrediting evolution actually is a justification for racism. Evolutionists tell us all humanity evolved from Africa, and all humanity is genetically similar. It refutes several races as distinct.

George McCready Price, who is to young-earth creationism what Darwin is to evolution wrote:

The poor little fellow who went to the south
Got lost in the forests dank;
His skin grew black, as the fierce sun beat
And scorched his hair with its tropic heat,
And his mind became a blank.

Overturning evolution opens the door to racism.

beatroot said...

What is going on In the British education system is a scandal. A faith school in the north east of the country wanted to teach Creationism and Tony Blair said, “Yeah, well, you know [smiles inanely] kids should be shown both sides…”

Two sides of what? The political class cannot find the will to defend reason. That’s the culture.

And Ren: it was actually evolution that was the inspiration for, was it Spencer – Darwin’s cousin? ?, to begin eugenics and ‘social Darwinism’…so it goes both ways.

Anonymous said...

Let's hope that those politicians who rise to power, by appealing to anti-intellectualism on a great variety of issues they speak to and are subsequently rewarded by a population, will never encounter the wisdom of the time cube. Clearly, they would then be unstoppable and veritable gods to the Polish electorate.

Kewenay said...

I read the link to Maciej Giertych's piece and was interested that he used to be happy about evolution and changed his mind in the face of evidence, though I didn't understand much of that.

But he may have a point. And I don't really see why anyone should hold up the theory of evolution as scientific dogma - there clearly are holes in the theory that have not been satisfactorily explained.

And it has as many dangers as religious fundamentalism. As you point out, beatroot, the holocaust may not have happened if it wasn't for Social Darwinism.

But why do anti-evolutionists look to Creationism as the alternative? Giertych says that a lot of time has been wasted trying and failing to find evidence to support evolution. Well - just a quick glance at makes it clear that the likes of Woodmorappe have been wasting their time too.

Flying Spaghetti Monsterism clearly provides all the answers.

Anonymous said...

Time for educated people to have Philosophy classes and discuss issues like Intelligent Design, and even String Theory and Branes. It is time there was proper discussion of Cosmology............Darwin can stay in the Biology Class - but I prefer Real Science - Physics.

Let's start thinking about whether light travels in waves or quanta, and think more about where Voyager 1 has actually reached and how stunningly amazing that is.

What I don't want to do is hear how Darwin and Hegel are two sides ofb the Historical Materialist coin and that human beings are the result of the Dialectic. That is such mumbo-jumbo.

beatroot said...

As you point out, beatroot, the holocaust may not have happened if it wasn't for Social Darwinism.

Yeah, but social Darwinism was a weird and incorrect understanding of what Darwin was saying, and had nothing to do with Origin of the Species. His cousin interpreted it as ‘the survival of the fittest’. Meaning, the white race (particularly the British!) were ‘fitter’ than the black races, and that’s why their economy was more developed! Which is not what Darwin was talking. He was talking about how changes in species emerged and change over time by adapting to an environment.

I don't really see why anyone should hold up the theory of evolution as scientific dogma

But the whole point about the scientific method is that it is not dogmatic – results are always provisional and usually cumulative. That’s why science is different from religion – which is dogmatic.

there clearly are holes in the theory that have not been satisfactorily explained.

There are gaps in the evidence – not surprising when you are talking about evolution! But it is one thing saying that the theory lacks evidence to saying that the theory is wrong(meaning its power to explain something).

And Creationists are not offering an alternative to evolution, they are offering religion – a different kettle of fish entirely.

beatroot said...
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beatroot said...

If I think I understand what Voyager is saying, it is true that Polish creationists try and link communism to darwon - which as stupid as the social darwinists. Darwin was a typical British empirical scientist who came to conclusions through observation. And they were conclusions that deeply troubled him as they questioned his faith.

And there are lots of examples of that in scientific history. Think Copernicus...Einstein....

Anonymous said...

and then, just when you think it can't get any crazier... Lepper comes back!

~JS said...
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~JS said...

two points, one defensive, the other coming from pope benedict xvi:

1) the usa has in recent times (past 20 years) won more nobel prizes in science than any country, period...that doesn't happen in a society composed primarily of bible thumping, creationists...which some posts here seem to suggest...

2) pope benedict in the speech that ruffled so many headtowels, also spoke to the rampant, and somewhat arrogant atheism that seems to be reprseneted in this thread...peaceful relations with islam cannot take root when one party dismisses religion as an irrational, sub-culture of humanity...while the other fails to allow reason a role to play in its religious world-view... guys would be the first jihad targets!...and by being so dismissive of religion, you work against the respect that is needed if we are to have peace! have you read the pope's speech?, i think he levels justified criticism at all forms of faith...

michael farris said...

Yeah, I'm essentially incapable of religious faith and don't "believe" in evolution.
Instead I recognize that evolution is a generally accepted scientific model and that disputes are about the frequency and mechanisms of mutation and selection not the existence of mutation and selection, both of which are accepted by the virtually all scientists working in the biological sciences.
Creation "science" and ID theory are mostly rejected by scientists as they form and test no hypotheses. ID is inherently unfalsifiable since it's main proponents have publicly written that there is no evidence that can disprove ID.
Therefore, evolution belongs in the science classroom and creation 'science' and ID don't.

Anonymous said...

When the Trier journalist Karl Marx was writing in London he seized on Darwin as proof of his theory. It was Marx who incorporated Darwin into his persective not vice versa.

Marx used Darwin's writings as the reification of Hegelian Dialectic. It has nothing to do with Polish Communism and everything to do with the flawed but very dogmatic mind of a German journalist called Karl Marx.

"Darwin’s work is most important and suits my purpose in that it provides a basis in natural science for the historical class struggle. ... Despite all shortcomings, it is here that, for the first time, ‘teleology’ in natural science is not only dealt a mortal blow but its rational meaning is empirically explained."

Karl Marx letter to Feuerbach 1861

Anonymous said...

What I don't want to do is hear how Darwin and Hegel are two sides of the Historical Materialist coin and that human beings are the result of the Dialectic. That is such mumbo-jumbo.

Comment by Voyager

wait....Hegal and Darwin are mumbo jumbo?

Someone help me with this.

Uh, no, Hegel isnt mumbo jumbo....neither is darwin....and neither is historical materialism

Comment by Steppx

How could Steppx have failed to read correctly what I wrote ?

beatroot said...

Js – considering that the US makes up about 25% of the world’s economic activity it’s not really surprising that it bags a few Swedish Oscars, every now again. It would be surprising if the US didn’t.

Top Cat: People in this thread don't seem like atheists to me, but evolutionists. And no one will change their beliefs on that issue easily.

Listen TC, if you are an atheist then you had better except evolution, cause we ain’t (scientifically) come up with a better idea. But neither, on principle, do I see that religion and evolution are mutually exclusive. Neither does the Vatican (at the moment…but that is about to change, I think).

Voyager: It was Marx who incorporated Darwin into his perspective not vice versa….. Marx used Darwin's writings as the reification of Hegelian Dialectic.

Not reification, but a metaphor :) When Marx was talking about historical materialism (it was Engels who wrote about dialectical materialism - which gave the dialectic the status of universal law. Which proved to be a disaster when Stalin got hold of it.) Marx was referring to human activity - by the time of Kapital, anyway. That was the whole point. We are not like nature. We choose to change.

~JS said...

ok, how much of the world's economy does japan makeup? how many Swedish Oscars? isn't it surprising that japan hasn't bagged a few lately?

so, it's not just economics, it's culture as well that explains usa's success, as much as some here would like to overlook...or explain away in terms that fit one's ideological frame of usa as pariah...

beatroot said...

or explain away in terms that fit one's ideological frame of usa as pariah...


And Japan has won loads of Nobels!

Top Cat - I don't think people read this blog because they are Catholic!! And most people who read it are not Polish.

beatroot said...
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