Not that I had anything to do with it, but Sen. David Vitter's (R-Louisiana) attempt to siphon federal funds to promote creationism in his home state has been quietly withdrawn, as NCSE reports here.

What would this country's educational establishment do without a watchdog like NCSE, which probably mobilized most of the pressure on Vitter's colleagues to not 'look the other way' when the Senator attempted to sneak this through? I'm proud to be a member of NCSE, and if you're not, you should consider joining.


James F. McGrath said...

I'll second that. It is definitely an organization that supporters of science education should join. I think you can sign up for their e-mail newsletter even if you aren't a member, so at the very least people should do that.

I wonder to what extent the letters to senators inspired by the NCSE newsletter about the issue were responsible for the change. We may never know, but they certainly didn't hurt and were the right thing to do.

Stan said...

It would definitely be just awful if anyone were to question the absolute FACTs about, say, first life, that are (by law?) taught to every government school victim. And no one should ever, ever, ever bring up theory of evidence or just what constitutes circumstantial evidence as opposed to evolutionary FACT! How else are scientific FACTs going to remain pure? They cannot be tolerated, those who question! We need more laws to protect settled scientific FACT from rank interlopers who obviously cannot understand that when science calls something a fact, well boys, that's it then, it IS a FACT. No siree, not a theory, it is a FACT. Science should in FACT have its own police force to contain these low-brow authority-questioning nuisances. And then, straight to the guillotine! And then we'll be free to teach their stupid kids any dang thing we choose! POWER TO THE SCIENTISTS! DOWN WITH THE UNWASHED SKEPTICS!

Scott Hatfield . . . . said...

Stan, I appreciate advanced sarcasm as much as the next guy, but the facts are these:

Evolution is a fact.

Natural selection is a fact.

Speciation, as the result of evolution by natural selection, is an observed fact in individual cases.

Evolution by natural selection as an explanation for the origin of species is a hypothesis for those cases in which neither was directly observed (the vast majority). Taken as a whole, evolution by natural selection is a theory/model for the origin of new species, generally. This theory presumes common descent, an inference that is powerfully supported by multiple lines of evidence, which in turn depends upon an ancient Earth (ditto).

It does not, however, require abiogenesis, which is a distinct topic and one which has not progressed to the status of a theory.

Most importantly, as far as I know, none of the above FACTS or interpretations of same necessarily appeal to anything other than natural causes. Vitter was attempting to siphon funds to support those who would introduce supernatural explanations, as you well know. That the latter category of claims is not testable, and widely rejected by the scientific community, is also a fact. That's the real issue, not the implied red herring that "evolution = scientific dogma".