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Maybe it’s About Time We Have More Naturalism Evangelists

Maybe it’s About Time We Have More Naturalism Evangelists

As an atheist, humanist and lover of science, there is almost nothing that annoys me more than when a religious person deigns to explain to me that, in fact, atheism is a religion. I’m constantly baffled that somehow not believing in something is the same thing as believing in it, but I can only rarely ever persuade the other person to see things from my point of view.

Noted creationist Ken Ham makes that mistake in a blog post in which he references the Smithsonian’s acquisition of an exquisite T-Rex fossil. It’s a very big deal for the Natural History Museum in Washington, D.C. to get this very complete fossil. It’s also, apparently, a nefarious plot to indoctrinate kids with the worst thing in the world: atheism.

For example, recently, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History (in Washington, DC), acquired a T. rex skeleton, known as “the Nation’s T. Rex.“¯ This T. rex is very complete. The museum director, Kirk Johnson, believes the new dinosaur skeleton will draw many children to the National Museum of Natural History, saying, “Dinosaurs are the gateway drug to science for kids.”

Of course, secularists know that children love dinosaurs, and they use dinosaurs to indoctrinate kids into evolutionary ideas. “The Nation’s T. Rex” will be a centerpiece for the Smithsonian, a museum funded by our tax dollars. In reality, then, the government is imposing the religion of evolution and millions of years on children visiting the Smithsonian, while also claiming a supposed separation of church and state! Our tax dollars are funding the religion of naturalism (atheism) and its evolutionary story to be exhibited in the Smithsonian in the nation’s capital!

Oh no! The government is promoting naturalism, which is totally a religion and not a feeble attempt to make actual attempts to insert unscientific religious concepts into actual science classes look reasonable. Not at all!

The Natural History Museum, of course, is doing what it’s meant to do. Promoting science and fomenting the wonder that comes along with seeing totally kick-ass fossils. And really, we need much more of that.

The request of creationists seems reasonable enough on the surface. They just want all sides represented on this. (Although what their reaction would be to a non-Abrahamic, or even just non-Christian, tradition horning in on the action is unclear.) The fact that there is a scientific consensus on the matter doesn’t seem to be an issue.

If that was the goal, one might think that kids would come away from their biology class with a clear understanding of both the fact and the fiction. That’s not necessarily so. A recent study of Oklahoma high school students showed that, on the whole, they had more misconceptions about evolution after they took a required biology course than before they took it.

Yates and Marek found that prior to instruction, students possessed 4,812 misconceptions about evolutionary theory; after they completed the Biology I course, they possessed 5,072. Of the 475 students surveyed, only 216 decreased the number of misconceptions they believed, as opposed to 259 who had more of them when they finished the course than before they took it.

“There is little doubt,”¯ they argued, “that teachers may serve as sources of biological evolution-related misconceptions or, at the very least, propagators of existing misconceptions.”

The researchers fully admit that evolution is a complicated subject and not an easy one for high school age people to grasp. However, when about a quarter of your high school biology teachers place “moderate to strong emphasis on creationsim,” I’m not sure what else we can expect. The facts of evolution speak for themselves, but that is lost when a loud, organized group seek to distort those facts.

I’m under no illusion that if people learned about evolution that they’ll automatically become atheists and leave oppressive religions behind. I know too many religious biologists to believe that. But it’s still important that the general citizenry have a basic grasp of the mechanism that made us who we are. It’s a weird and wild world, and everyone deserves the opportunity to appreciate it in all its glory. If that’s what the “religion of naturalism” can bring us, then sign me up.

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Photo Credit: John Scalzi via Flickr

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162 comments

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5:16PM PDT on Jul 28, 2014

You do not have to be an atheist to accept evolution- you just can't take the Bible literally. The world wasn't created in 6 days, maybe more like 6 stages- the creationists take that 6 day thing too literally...

4:50PM PDT on Jul 28, 2014

I believe God wants me to learn about science.

5:57PM PDT on Jun 10, 2014

Couple of issues Darryl, first off there's more transitional fossils found all the time (this is because we didn't find all of them when randomely digging up a small portion of the earth, as you would expected).

Two, "Fossils. Realize that the fossil record is the only tangible, physical evidence for the theory of evolution that exists. The fossil record is it." That's like saying "Cars and roads are the only evidence you have of a road network, if you also dis-include the people driving on the roads." You're right, if you took out cars, roads and the people driivng on the roads, you would have no evidence of a road network in a country. Just like if you take out fossils (the cars and the roads) and current evolution (like all the insects and animals we see changing in front of us), you would have no evidence for evolution.

On a side note, try explaining God without the bible (you can't). If you can explain it with the bible (which would be like saying evolution is true because darwin said so), explain it without the bible (which is like saying evolution is true because we have other evidence that it is true).

12:43PM PDT on May 13, 2014

Darryll G. I get it. You are the typical anti science nut case. Congratulations on joining the Ignorant Fools Club.

I will not argue with you as you seem to be well vested in your ignorance. Just know that at any time you want to join the rest of the rational human race. The door is not ever closed. You can still maintain your religion. you can still remain a good person. You will have to leave off the anti science stupidity and ignorance though.

11:56AM PDT on May 13, 2014

cont-
the swill of evolution.

Gould developed an absurd theory called "punctuated equilibrium," a theory that evolution happened so fast, in such rapid bursts, that it left no trace in the fossil record. Imagine that: the only evidence he has for his theory is the total absence of any evidence whatsoever! And this guy taught at Harvard!

11:53AM PDT on May 13, 2014

Fossils. Realize that the fossil record is the only tangible, physical evidence for the theory of evolution that exists. The fossil record is it. There is absolutely nothing else Darwinians have they can show you.

As Yale University's Carl Dunbar says, "Fossils provide the only historical, documentary evidence that life has evolved from simpler to more and more complex forms."

But if Darwin's theory is correct, that increasingly complex life forms developed in tiny little incremental and transitional steps, then the fossil record should by littered with an enormous number of transitional fossils.

Darwin himself said, "The number of intermediate and transitional links must have been inconceivably great."

But, sadly for Darwinians, after 150 years of digging in dirt all around the world, there are still no transitional fossils at all, not one! The most famous paleontologist in the world, Harvard's Stephen Jay Gould, said, "The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology." (Note" "extreme rarity" is Harvard-speak for "nada, zilch, zippo.")

Colin Patterson of the British Museum of Natural History agrees with Gould that "there are no transitional fossils," not even a single one "for which one could make a watertight argument."

In other words, people who study fossils for a living know there are no transitional forms but they don't want you and me to know it, 'cause it might prompt us to stop imbibing the

1:25PM PDT on May 4, 2014

Here are some revealing comments made by Menton and an associate which reveal their thought processes on this issue.

Menton: Creationists have brainwashed people in other countries, so there must be something to it!

Menton: Bill Nye said the world gets complicated if you don’t accept science… But learning more science hurts my head! So it must be false.

Menton: Bill Nye says evolution is fundamental to all branches of science, but not all scientists have to know evolution to work in their fields… so why should we bother with it?!

Purdom: We can’t see evolution happening right in front of our eyes, so why trust scientists who think they know how we were created? Trust the Bible!

3:42AM PDT on May 4, 2014

Darryll G. does that $12 buy some magic beans as well. LMFAO

If you are going to attack an established scientific fact. At the very least do not insult the intelligence of people that actually do use their heads for more than a hat rest.

8:12PM PDT on May 3, 2014

Your desperation

is so evident

it is palpable even through the internet.

8:10PM PDT on May 3, 2014

Wow Darryl I have never heard more junk from someone posing as an anthropologist claiming that some creation apologist theory is science, but thank you for giving me an opportunity to see what madness is passing for science in the creationist community.

I'm surprised your folks haven't yet dug up talking snakes and or the remnants of trees of knowledge and of good and evil. Also, I'm sure you have youtube videos of the discovery of the ark and other such nonsense.

That you and your kind continue to believe this stuff is evidence that people among us haven't evolved as much as some of the rest of us have. That you allow such people into your life is evidence that there are plenty of folks yet who will believe snake oil salesmen.

I wish your life had offered you better abilities to use your brain than it apparently has.

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