Skepticism, Religion Archive

Monday, January 30, 2006

Retroactive Soapbox Entry- Legalizing Homosexual Marriage, Part II

Note: This is a post of an essay that first appeared on my website October 26th, 2005. The original essay can be found here. This is part of an ongoing effort to put all of my soapbox entries onto this blog, to give a space for user feedback. A "new" retroactive post will be made every Monday.

26 October 2005

On November 8th, among other things, Texans will vote on Proposition 2, "The constitutional amendment providing that marriage in this state consists only of the union of one man and one woman and prohibiting this state or a political subdivision of this state from creating or recognizing any legal status identical or similar to marriage."

Now, I know I've written about the issue of homosexual marriage before (2004-04-02 Soapbox Entry, but in light of the upcoming vote, and considering that I live in Texas, I thought it would be worthwhile to visit the issue on my website again (actually, this current essay began its life as an e-mail written in response to a chain mail that I received about Proposition 2). I won't try to cover all of the points in that original essay - no sense in repeating everything here since I've already written most of it down, once. However, there will still be some repetition, because I feel that the additional time to think has allowed me to reword some of the points in a better manner. This essay will also contain a few new points I've thought up since that original soapbox entry.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Retroactive Soapbox Entry- Fed Up with U.S. Public & Religious Fundamentalism

Note: This is a post of an essay that first appeared on my website August 15th, 2005. The original essay can be found here. This is part of an ongoing effort to put all of my soapbox entries onto this blog, to give a space for user feedback. A "new" retroactive post will be made every Monday.

15 August 2005

It seems like religious fundamentalism, specifically Fundamentalist Christianity, is on the rise in this country. I don't know if that's actually the case, whether regligious fundamentalists are just becoming more vocal, or whether it's because I moved from the northeast down to Texas, so I've noticed it more. Even though I'm a Christian, to me, religious fundamentalism seems like a bad thing. It takes a mindset that ignores scientific evidence and fosters ignorance, keeps scientifically knowledgeable non-Christians from accepting the religion, causes scientifically knowledgeable Christians (like myself) to question their faith, and in general makes Christianity seem like a religion for ignorant people. Worse, even though so many people claim to be Christians, I see a huge amount of hypocrisy in this country.

So, I'm writing this Soapbox entry. This is probably one of the least organized and least constructive essays I've ever put on my site. It's mainly just a chance for me to vent about things I see going on around me. Several of my friends fit into some of the things I'm complaining about, so don't take this too seriously. Yes, these things bother me, but my wording's probably a little bit stronger than I actually feel about it. They certainly haven't come in the way of any of my friendships.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Public Opinion Polls as Reasons to Teach Creationism & ID

Ever since I've gotten caught up in reading a lot of the debate between science and ID/creationism, I've noticed that many people try to use public opinion polls to say that ID or creationism should be taught alongside evolution in the science classroom. And ever since the Dover trial decision, I've read quite a few more articles using that argument, so I thought that I'd briefly address it.

Trying to base science curricula off of the public's understanding of science is just plain silly. Yes, we live in a democracy, so people should have a say in things that go on in our country. Unfortunately, most people don't have a good understanding of science. In 2001, the National Science Foundation conducted a Survey of Public Attitudes Toward and Understanding of Science and Technology. A summary of some of the findings are copied below.

United States Europe
The center of the Earth is very hot. (True) 80 88
All radioactivity is man-made. (False) 76 53
The oxygen we breathe comes from plants. (True) 87 80
It is the father's gene which decides whether the baby is a boy or a girl. 65 48
Lasers work by focusing sound waves. (False) 45 35
Electrons are smaller than atoms. (True) 48 41
Antibiotics kill viruses as well as bacteria. (False) 51 40
The continents on which we live have been moving their location for millions of years and will continue to move in the future. (True) 79 82
Human beings, as we know them today, developed from earlier species of animals. (True) 53 69
The earliest humans lived at the same time as the dinosaurs. (False) 48 59
Radioactive milk can be made safe by boiling it. (False) 65 64
Does the Earth go around the Sun, or does the Sun go around the Earth? (Earth around the Sun) 75 67
How long does it take for the Earth to go around the Sun? (one year) 54 56
SOURCES: National Science Foundation, Division of Science Resources Statistics, Survey of Public Attitudes Toward and Understanding of Science and Technology, 2001; and European Commission, Eurobarometer 55.2 survey and standard report, Europeans, Science and Technology, December 2001.

Science & Engineering Indicators – 2004

Just look at some of those results, and not just the ones about evolution. They clearly show that a lot of people really don't know much about science. I mean, one in four people thought that the Sun goes around the Earth, half of the people surveyed didn't realize that electrons were smaller than atoms, and nearly half of the people didn't know that it takes a year for the Earth to go around the Sun. If this is American's understanding of basic, simple scientific facts, why should we rely on public opinion polls when it comes to teaching ID alongside evolution, or creationism in science at all, even ignoring the separation of church and state. School curricula should be determined by experts in the fields.

Really, if there's one thing that these public opinion polls tell us, it's where the weaknesses are in our science education system that need to be addressed. If our education system's so bad off that only half of Americans accept evolution, we obviously need to do a better job of teaching it (and apparently a whole bunch of other areas, as well).

Monday, January 2, 2006

Retroactive Soapbox Entry- Legality of Homosexual Marriage

Note: This is a post of an essay that first appeared on my website April 2nd, 2004. The original essay can be found here. This is part of an ongoing effort to put all of my soapbox entries onto this blog, to give a space for user feedback. A "new" retroactive post will be made every Monday.

2 April 2004

There's been a lot of information in the news as of late concerning gay marriage, so I thought I'd write down my opinions to throw into the debate. I think that marriage between homosexuals should be legal, and below are the reasons why.

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Thursday, December 22, 2005

Problems With Day-Age Interpretation of Genesis

The other day, I did something that maybe I shouldn't have. I struck up a conversation with a couple co-workers about Intelligent Design. We kept it friendly enough. They already know my religious/scientific opinions, and I already knew theirs, so there weren't any heated arguments. I was just interested to see how fundamentalists felt about Intelligent Design, and about the judge's decision in the Kitzmiller vs. Dover Board of Education case.

Here's why I was curious to their opinion. It seems to me that if you're going to reject evolution on religious (Christian) grounds, it's because you believe in basically a literal interpretation of the Bible. i.e. that the creation story in Genesis is accurate. If you don't believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible (i.e. you believe in a figurative, allegorical, historical or some other interpretation), then there shouldn't be any religious reason to reject evolution. So I wondered, if you hold to a literal interpretation of the Bible, what would be your take on Intelligent Design? A lot of the ID proponents claim that ID is really science, and that they're just trying to point out evidence of an intelligent designer. They stress that they're not trying to support the Bible. Further, some of the evidence that they use goes against a strictly literal interpretation of Genesis, such as using the Cambrian "Explosion" of 500 million years ago. Really, it makes me wonder why ID is so popular. It's bad science, as evidenced by its overwhelming rejection by the scientific community (not just lack of acceptance, which would characterize most new theories, but actual rejection), and, from a fundamentalist viewpoint, it's bad religion, because it's counter to a 6 day creation.

So, when I brought it up to those co-workers that ID goes against a literal interpretation of Genesis because it allows for the Earth being billions of years old, they got kind of wishy washy on the age of the Earth. Their reply was something to the effect of, "A day in the life of God is like a thousand years to man," so how can we be sure how long the days in Genesis actually were. My first thought was, wow, so the Bible's only literal when it's convenient; otherwise, it's open to interpretation. But then I decided to look into it a little further. Maybe there was something to their line of argument. After a little research, I found people who said that in the original Hebrew, the word used for "day" in Genesis could be translated as either day or age, and that maybe age was the word that should be used there. This, or the day to a thousand years argument my coworkers used, actually turn out to be pretty popular arguments. So, I went back and took another look at Genesis, and, well, these day-age interpretations just don't make any more sense.

More below the fold.

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Selling Out