“If you’re going to teach evolution, then you have to teach the other side so you can have critical thinking.”

These are the words of, in no particular order, a Christian, a halfwit, and a Florida state senator. Stephen Wise (and God sure does have a sense of irony when He hands out surnames, don’t He?), who represents the district that includes one of the fifteen most populous cities in the U.S., is apparently unaware that “have” and “obliterate” are not synonyms.
The issue itself is nothing new–Jesus-soaked politician agitates for end run around basic but (to many of the faithful) uncomfortable facts about the world and invokes variants of the usual backwater talking points: “Evolution is only a theory,” “Teach all sides,” and, of course, “I get a lot of hate mail so I must be doing something right.” But Wise’s use of a term he has heard but clearly misunderstands has me wondering how he would respond to the following statement:
“If you’re going to teach kids there was really a Jesus who rose from the dead, lives in your thoughts, and can save you, then you have to teach the other side so you can have critical thinking.”
Absolutely appropriate (inasmuch as the godless have any inclination to waste time trying to divest brainwashed people of their mythological ideas) and one hundred percent guaranteed to make goofball politicians like Stephen Wise balk.
Not surprisingly, Wise may not have been the dumbest person quoted in the article. Here’s what yet another Florida legislator, this one a state representative, had to say:

Hays said part of his beliefs come from his training as a dentist, which involved an extensive education in anatomy.
“How can anyone study the human body and deny that it was created by a higher power?” he said. “It is one magnificent collection of genius.
“It is not an accident that happened to come together.”

That’s right, the culmination of billions of years of adaptations–processes about which hypotheses were formed well before humans knew about DNA and have been resoundingly confirmed and demonstrated–is just too grand to consider, so let’s just declare “It’s no accident!” and be done with it. After all, what we’d expect in a godless world are organisms surviving and thriving despite the form and function of their organs, right? Hell, why don’t engineers build cars with the wheels on top?
How can this man’s patients trust him not to jam a dentist’s drill through their temples?

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  1. #1 by Anne on February 8, 2009 - 2:23 pm

    I absolutely agree that religion belongs in the religion classroom, not in the science lab. But I also think it’s time to quit the bickering. I’ve posted about this today on my own fledgling blog, at anneminard.com. My site doesn’t see much discussion yet, so I’d be delighted if you and/or your readers check it out.

  2. #2 by WTFWJD on February 8, 2009 - 3:03 pm

    Hays clearly has never examined the dentition of England or Appalachia.

  3. #3 by Bardiac on February 8, 2009 - 3:08 pm

    Wisdom teeth.
    Or is that just dog’s design to make sure dentists have plenty of business?

  4. #4 by Bardiac on February 8, 2009 - 3:08 pm

    Wisdom teeth.
    Or is that just dog’s design to make sure dentists have plenty of business?

  5. #5 by Richard Simons on February 8, 2009 - 8:35 pm

    If you’re going to teach the hazards of drugs, you also have to include the medicinal uses of marijuana. There is even evidence to support it (unlike the ‘other side’ to evolution).

  6. #6 by Mike Haubrich, FCD on February 8, 2009 - 8:37 pm

    Anne, you are close to spamming. But then, this is not my blog so perhaps I have no business thinking that you should be blocked.
    I don’t he how anyone can be a dentist and believe in anything like an intelligent designer. Human teeth have no mechanism for regeneration of damaged dentin material. They have no mechanism for dealing with the expansion in volume inside the root of the teeth when the nerve dies and bacteria digest the nerves. The resulting gas from bacterial metabolism causes extreme pain in the bearer until a dentist can release it through root canals.
    I’ve been there.
    My teeth all rapidly fell apart due to a combination of a dietary shortage of calcium caused by food allergies, and a genetic inheritance of weak teeth.
    My Designer would have provided a means by which teeth are regrown after they have been lost. Like, as in, sharks.
    A dentist, of all people, should be totally shocked by the idea of “intelligent design.”

  7. #7 by Crudely Wrott on February 8, 2009 - 8:37 pm

    Imagine that teachers just started, for the hell of it, to teach “the other side.” The topic could be introduced and concluded before lunch. All that need be taught is the only demonstrable fact on the other side of the argument from RM and NS, “Some people think it is done to us on purpose by an invisible, supernatural spook and offer as evidence their distinct feelings that they are right due to the intensity of their feelings.”
    With comparisons to Santa and the Tooth Fairy, that shouldn’t take long. The rest of the day to be invested in some interesting and amusing experiment. Lava, clouds of smoke, Tesla coils and earth tremors and such. ;^)

  8. #8 by Cannonball Jones on February 9, 2009 - 6:25 am

    Yeah, Crudely hit the nail on the head. If you start to teach ‘the other side’ of a topic which annoys you bcause you don’t understand it then you have to do it for all topics. Gravity, electromagnetism, long division, sound web design principles, cookery, the works. Not sure what the other side of cookery would be but I’m sure it would be interesting if as intellectually unfulfilling as creationism.

  9. #9 by Rev. BigDumbChimp on February 9, 2009 - 8:36 am

    *warning. this has been said before.
    I agree, we should teach the controversy.
    I think our students should have all the creation stories presented as alternatives.
    I’m sure that Mr. Wise would like his children to learn about Ometeotl, Pan Ku and Lord Vishnu.
    Why stop with biology. Shouldn’t we be teaching the other side of the Holocaust? Germ Theory? Helocentrism?

  10. #10 by KristinMH on February 9, 2009 - 9:14 am

    Anne *is* spamming – I’ve seen that identical message from her on both Pharyngula and Greg Laden’s Blog.
    Anne, your blog is pretty good and you seem like a nice person. But self-promotion – you’re doing it wrong. If you participate in the conversation in an interesting manner instead of just drive-by spamming it’ll attract more readers.
    Mike: I hear you, brother. The “intelligent designer” did such an amazing job on my eyes that I couldn’t even read the big E on the eye chart by the time I was twelve. Without modern optometry I would be functionally blind. A truly intelligent designer would have solved the problem of progressive myopia, and also maybe given us x-ray vision.

  11. #11 by catgirl on February 9, 2009 - 1:02 pm

    Both the Catholic and Methodist churches, among others, officially accept that evolution is supported by the evidence, and that it does not contradict their faith. Someone should tell this to the creationists.
    And while we’re on the topic, a not to the Intelligent Designer:
    10 cm cervix, 12 cm head, I’m sorry that my great-great-…-great-great grandma ate that apple.

  12. #12 by catgirl on February 9, 2009 - 1:02 pm

    Both the Catholic and Methodist churches, among others, officially accept that evolution is supported by the evidence, and that it does not contradict their faith. Someone should tell this to the creationists.
    And while we’re on the topic, a not to the Intelligent Designer:
    10 cm cervix, 12 cm head, I’m sorry that my great-great-…-great-great grandma ate that apple.

  13. #13 by Paul Murray on February 9, 2009 - 8:07 pm

    Imagine that teachers just started, for the hell of it, to teach “the other side.” The topic could be introduced and concluded before lunch.

    I’d love to see ’em show pictures of God on the overhead projector, with a workman’s apron full of tools, brow furrowed while he designs the intracacies of a cat’s retractable claw, the wall of his workshop covered with anatomical diagrams.
    As someone pointed out: “we no longer use the design argument as proof of God, because we no longer belive in the kind of God it argued for.” Of course, America is a little behind the times. But maybe showing just how medaeval and anthopomorphic is the whole notion would be a good thing.

  14. #14 by Paul Murray on February 9, 2009 - 8:07 pm

    Imagine that teachers just started, for the hell of it, to teach “the other side.” The topic could be introduced and concluded before lunch.

    I’d love to see ’em show pictures of God on the overhead projector, with a workman’s apron full of tools, brow furrowed while he designs the intracacies of a cat’s retractable claw, the wall of his workshop covered with anatomical diagrams.
    As someone pointed out: “we no longer use the design argument as proof of God, because we no longer belive in the kind of God it argued for.” Of course, America is a little behind the times. But maybe showing just how medaeval and anthopomorphic is the whole notion would be a good thing.

  15. #15 by Crudely Wrott on February 10, 2009 - 11:13 pm

    @#11
    Hey, Paul! D’ja ever see the Gary Larson cartoon of, sumpin like, ‘ God as a Child Invents the Chicken?’
    God, as a child, is depicted as sitting in front of a damaged chemistry set on a scorched desk with his eyebrows singed and a look of . . . stupification . . . on his face. There is evidence of a recent explosion and there are feathers all over. Priceless.
    From such small failures are major meltdowns made.

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