Prosecute the torture.

March 31, 2014

South Carolina Fossils

Christopher Hitchens was right: Religion Poisons Everything.

From The Daily Beast:
When eight-year-old Olivia McConnell was perusing a menu at a restaurant that features all 50 of the official symbols of her home state of South Carolina, she noticed a glaring vacancy. South Carolina has a State American Folk Dance, a State Grass, a State Opera, even a State Lowcountry Handcraft, but—no offense to square dancing, Indian grass, Porgy and Bess, or sweet grass baskets intended—McConnell thought something was missing: a state fossil.
Let me stop right there.  Along with those official state symbols there are some others:
An official Hospitality Beverage?  Ok, let's get back to The Beast:
The third grader at Carolina Academy wrote a letter to her state lawmakers, Rep. Robert Ridgeway and Sen. Kevin Johnson, in a bid to give the woolly mammoth that honor. Olivia has sound reasons behind her nomination: One of the first discoveries of a fossil in North America was that of a woolly mammoth’s teeth, dug up by slaves on a South Carolina plantation in 1725; all but seven states have an official state fossil; and, most adorably, “Fossils tell us about our past.”
Sounds like Ms McConnell is an intelligent, insightful third grader.  Ridgeway and Johnson's bill passed the House 94-3 but it was stopped in the Senate and that ole time religion:
Sen. Kevin Bryant, a pharmacist and self-described born-again Christian who has compared President Obama with Osama bin Laden, voted to sustain a veto by Governor Nikki Haley of funding for a rape crisis center, and called climate change a “hoax,” proposed amending the bill to include three verses from the Book of Genesis detailing God’s creation of the Earth and its living inhabitants—including mammoths.
Of course he's a climate science denier.  Anti-science in one direction inevitably leads to anti-science in many others.  According to the Senate Journal, these are the verses from Genesis:
And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
That's Genesis 1:30-31, I believe.

After the bill was ruled out of order by the state's Lt Governor, another Senator objected to it.  Of course he's in not favor of teaching evolution unless you "teach the controversy" along with it From the Post and Courier:
The South Carolina Education Oversight Committee met Monday to review and approve the new set of science standards that the Department of Education will begin implementing by the fall of 2014 for students. Sen. Mike Fair, R-Greenville, argued against teaching natural selection as fact, when he believes there are other theories students deserve to learn.

"Natural selection is a direct reference to Darwinism," Fair said after the meeting. "And the implication of Darwinism. is that it is start to finish."

Fair argued South Carolina's students are learning the philosophy of natural selection but teachers are not calling it such. He said the best way for students to learn is for the schools to teach the controversy.

"To teach that natural selection is the answer to origins is wrong," Fair said. "I don't have a problem with teaching theories. I don't think it should be taught as fact."
Oh, so he's one of those guys.

So instead of celebrating a historical fact (that one of the first fossils found in North America was in deed found in South Carolina) and a scientific one (need I elaborate on this point?), and in doing so encourage an insightful 8 year old, faith poisoned the prospect - all to defend a scientifically indefensible position (that "evolution is 'just a theory'.")

Hitchens was right.

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