Dracil’s BlogJournal

May 13, 2008

West Virginia, Education, Clinton, and Creationists

Here’s an interesting tidbit.

Census Bureau and other government data show nearly 18 percent of West Virginians live below the poverty line and roughly 74 percent of the state’s population makes less than $50,000 a year. Put another way, West Virginia ranked 50th among the states in household income and 48th in the percentage of adults with a high school diploma.

In addition to that, West Virginia ranks last for people with college degrees at 15.9%, a full 3.1% below the next lowest (Arkansas).

Also, someone on the Penny Arcade forums looked up some county statistics.

Starr County, Texas- highest % with no high school diploma- voted for Clinton 83-16.
Douglas County, Colorado- lowest %, same stat- voted Obama 63-37

I don’t think I can really say anything else without basically insulting the general Clinton demographic. :P

Though I will add that Clinton’s demographic also tends to be Creationists.


May 9, 2008

Ken Miller criticizes Expelled

Ken Miller, a Catholic biology professor at Brown University, has actually written an op-ed piece for the Boston Globe.

Much of this has already been said before, but it certainly helps to have one of the most prominent people in this debate (he was a witness for the evolution side at the Dover Trial) come out and speak out against Expelled.  Naturally, the producers of Expelled don’t like him, even before this piece:

The movie also uses interviews with avowed atheists like Richard Dawkins, author of “The God Delusion,” to argue that scientific establishment is vehemently anti-God. Never mind that 40 percent of the members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science profess belief in a personal God. Stein, avoiding these 50,000 people, tells viewers that “Darwinists” don’t allow scientists to even think of God.

Puzzled, the editors of Scientific American asked Mark Mathis, the film’s co-producer, why he and Stein didn’t interview such people, like Francis Collins (head of the Human Genome Project), Francisco Ayala, or myself. Mathis cited me by name, saying “Ken Miller would have confused the film unnecessarily.” In other words, showing a scientist who accepts both God and evolution would have confused their story line.

Fascinating how Creationist’s idea of “teaching the controversy” means not showing things that would break their entire argument, isn’t it?

Since every paragraph of the piece brings up a good point against Expelled, it would be rather pointless to try quoting them or I’d end up just pasting the entire article here, so I’ll just leave it with the last paragraph.

“Expelled” is a shoddy piece of propaganda that props up the failures of Intelligent Design by playing the victim card. It deceives its audiences, slanders the scientific community, and contributes mightily to a climate of hostility to science itself. Stein is doing nothing less than helping turn a generation of American youth away from science. If we actually come to believe that science leads to murder, then we deserve to lose world leadership in science. In that sense, the word “expelled” may have a different and more tragic connotation for our country than Stein intended.

May 1, 2008

Finding Darwin’s God

A good way to stir up some random conversation at the office is to leave a book lying around on your desk.  Sooner or later, someone’s bound to comment on it.  :)

Anyway, I finished Ken Miller‘s book Finding Darwin’s God several days ago.  Generally speaking, I’d split the book into two sections.  The first half talks more about the science of evolution.  In particular he goes through several Creationist positions, describes what sort of God such a position would entail (Charlatan, Magician, and Mechanic) and then explains why their positions are faulty.  Along the way, he even gives several examples of how evolution could have been disproven, but instead the evidence showed the theory of evolution was indeed correct.  This part of the book is excellent, with many great examples such as radioactive isotopes as evidence of an old earth, or the experiment where the genes that allows bacteria to break down lactose is removed, and then not only did the bacteria evolve to handle lactose again, it handled it even better!

In the second half, he goes into his theological reasons for believing.  This part is definitely the weaker of the two parts.  His argument pretty much relies on the uncertainty principle.  While it is true that this presents a barrier we’re unlikely to overcome through science, and it helps answer some theological problems, it has the eerie shadow of a God of the Gaps.

Still, matters of Faith are a matter of faith after all, so it’s expected that it’s not going to be fully grounded in solid evidence.  Despite that, the rest of the book is cleverly argued and definitely worth a read.

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