Ask certain vocal members of the Christian right about science, and it wont take you long to discover that their conception of the discipline is somewhat different from how it’s normally understood. Their version of it isn’t like the kind practiced at universities and in hospitals; it’s a special, watered down version of science, one that adapts to fit into their biblical view of the world.
In this Christian-right version, scientific evidence is checked against the Bible and if the evidence contradicts – or at least if they believe the evidence contradicts– a single verse in a single chapter, they simply reject the evidence and the science, no questions asked. (Exhibit A: Intelligent Design.) This method of conducting science has led the Christian right to make some incredible — as in, not credible – scientific claims in the past, almost too many to document. But here are five of the most ridiculous examples of biblically informed science.
The West Indian manatee has been a protected species in Florida since 1967, and an endangered animal since the Endangered Species Act of 1973. Now thanks to a petition and lawsuit by the conservative libertarian group the Pacific Legal Foundation PLF, all that could change.
The PLF is urging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service FWS to downgrade the manatee’s status to threatened, thereby loosening the restrictions on the water inhabited by the manatee.
The PLF is representing an organization called Save Crystal River, who acts as an environmental group but based on their website is more concerned with promoting recreational water-based pastimes that have been limited by the Endangered Species Act.
Religious tension is nothing new in America. Hatred between religions, distrust and downright anger are the everyday norm for anyone with a television set or access to the Internet.
Now according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center, we know who is disliked the most. Atheists and Muslims appear to be in a statistical tie. While atheism itself is not a religion, it is often included in religious polls to help account for those who reject religion, instead of just non-affiliated believers.
Given the high level of xenophobia in the United States toward Muslims since 9/11, it is not surprising, but is still depressing to find them ranked so unfavorably. And atheists are shot down to the bottom and universally disliked by just about every religious group there is.
It seems creationists in Texas have resorted to bullying and lying in an attempt to force evolution out of the classroom.In November 2013 the Texas State Board of Education adopted new science standards for its textbooks that will bring evolution into the Texas public school classroom.All eyes were on Texas as the SBOE voted on the new proposed changes to the science curriculum that would change textbooks around the US.
A new study put out by the University of California, Davis, found that there could be a link between certain pesticides in the air and the development of autism. This is at least the third study in recent years to explore such a possible link: A 2007 study looked at residents of Central Valley, California, and found some correlation, but could not prove causation and called for further study. And another study that same year focused on pesticides and developmental disorders.
The most recent study looked at the use of three classes of pesticides: organophosphates, which include the widely used insecticide chlorpyrifos; as well as pyretheroids and carbamates. The participants in the study were 970 pregnant women who lived within one mile of an area treated with one of the three types of chemicals.
The finding is causing something of an uproar over the use of pesticides on farms and around homes — and, to an extent, rightfully so. If the data is there to support the claim, shouldn’t everyone be worried about the use of these chemicals?
We are breaking a new record in the U.S., and it is not one we want to break: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, measles cases are at a 20-year high. As of May 23, more than 288 cases have been reported this year. To put that in perspective, only 37 cases were reported in all of 2004. In 2002, measles had been declared eliminated in the Americas.
The CDC reports that most Americans have either contracted measles in the past, and are now immune, or have received the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine, among the most effective vaccinations available. Yet, measles is now an epidemic in Minnesota, where a 2.5-year-old child was identified by the science journal Pediatrics last month as patient zero, ultimately responsible for exposing more than 3,000 people in its community to the disease.
The child had traveled with family to Kenya and there came in contact with measles, subsequently spreading it to a family member and three other toddlers in daycare. The child had not been vaccinated, as the parents believed vaccines to be dangerous, having bought into the same misinformation that has spread far and wide across America.
The British government dealt a strong blow to creationists last week when they clarified and extended their laws banning creationism in the classroom to not only free schools, but to academies as well.
Academies, including free schools, are the UK’s version of the charter schools in the US, and there were concerns that, since academies are often run by religious organizations who taught and endorsed creationism in the classroom, kids who attend them were not being taught actual science.
The scientific community put heavy pressure on the British government to extend a similar law passed in 2012, which did not apply to free schools nor all academies and allowed some older schools already teaching creationism to grandfather their questionable curriculum in.
One of the most anticipated shows of 2014 was Fox’s “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey,” hosted by notable astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and produced by Seth McFarlane and Ann Druyan, the widow of Carl Sagan, the host of the original “Cosmos” series. The new “Cosmos” had the largest worldwide debut of a mini-series, capturing an audience of over 8 million viewers in the U.S. Controversy surrounded the show immediately, thrusting Tyson into the spotlight of religious fundamentalists and science deniers on the extreme right. How did each episode upset the religious fundamentalists and call out scientific denialism?
Creationists believe we have a responsibility to be, “good stewards of the earth God created, protecting both planet and people from preventable destruction.” Yet when asked about climate change and if mankind should do what we can to prevent it, Elizabeth Mitchell of the creationist group Answers in Genesis (AiG) says the answer is “no.”
This response stems from this week’s Cosmos episode in which Neil deGrasse Tyson discusses the scientific fact that climate change is happening and that humans are the driving force, and therefore we must be the solution.
If calling out creationists and insulting the religious were not enough for Neil deGrasse Tyson, he has decided to step up his game and go after the very people in the United States who believe they are untouchable: capitalists.
Tyson, the host of Fox’s hit television series Cosmos, sat down with MSNBC host Chris Hayes to discuss all things science. One topic that came to the forefront and just happened to be the subject of this week’s episode of Cosmos was climate change.
With so many Americans, and almost an entire political party on the side of climate change denial, Hayes wanted to know what would change people’s minds, if the overwhelming evidence is not enough.
Dan Arel is a freelance writer who writes Op-Ed pieces for Salon, AlterNet and The Huffington Post. He is also a Special Correspondent for American Atheists, has a column called Danthropology in American Atheists Magazine and has also contributed to The Richard Dawkins Foundation. He writes on atheism, religion, science and politics.
Dan's book Parenting Without God, How to Raise Moral, Ethical and Intelligent Children, Free from Religious Dogma will be out in late 2014 on Dangerous Little Books.
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