Sep 12 2008

Teaching Creationism in Schools

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Comments: 34

Reverend Professor Michael Reis, Director of Education at the Royal Society has recently advocated the “teach the controversy” approach to creationism in schools. He is quoted as saying:

“An increasing percentage of children in the UK come from families that do not accept the scientific version of the history of the universe and the evolution of species.

“What are we to do with those children? My experience after having tried to teach biology for 20 years is if one simply gives the impression that such children are wrong, then they are not likely to learn much about the science that one really wants them to learn.

“I think a better way forward is to say to them ‘look, I simply want to present you with the scientific understanding of the history of the universe and how animals and plants and other organisms evolved’.”

This an an extremely problematic position. There are some kernels of wisdom, perhaps, buried in this view, but it cannot be implemented as stated.

The primary problem with this position is that creationism is simply not science.  It does not meet the minimal criterion for science – having a falsifiable hypothesis. The same is true of its doppleganger – intelligent design (ID).

It is inappropriate to present as science any belief system which is not scientific.

ID/creationism also fails to meet a reasonable standard for inclusion in the science classroom in that the arguments that proponents put forth are terrible. They rely upon faulty logic, factual errors, and cherry picking.

Therefore their criticisms of evolution represent terrible science, and the belief they offer as an alternative is not even science.

But here is the sliver of potential benefit – what if we taught about ID/creationism as an example of pseudoscience in order to discuss why it fails to meet criteria for science and why the core arguments for creationism and against evolution are so horrible? I feel that I have personally learned a great deal about science and pseudoscience from confronting creationism. Why deprive students of this experience?

Well – here are the caveats and problems. First, any such discussion should be part of a philosophy of science class. Alternatively, it would be reasonable in a section of science class about scientific method and critical thinking – again, offered as an example of pseudoscience, alongside bigfoot and homeopathy.

It absolutely should not be taught alongside evolution or in the life origins section of science class.

But even then I would have serious reservations about this. The problem is that this would not be taking place in a social vacuum, but in the midst of a false public controversy over the teaching of creationism/ID. In the US we have kept creationism (mostly) out of public schools by pointing out that it is a religious belief and therefore requiring its inclusion violates the separation of church and state. We cannot then include it only to ridicule and criticize the belief, without violating this important principle.

We could deal directly with the bad scientific arguments against evolution (without even having to call it creationism or ID), just like a science classroom might deal with claims for a flat earth or geocentrism only to show students how we know these beliefs to be wrong.

But then again this can be dealt with by simply going over the history of ideas about life origins, resistance to the acceptance of evolution, and the lines of evidence that point to common descent and other aspects of evolution.

In the end, rather than open the door for creationism in the science classroom, any mention of modern creationism/ID should be confined to philosophy class as a tool for teaching critical thinking and the philosophy of science.

Finally, do address Reis’s concerns, it is easy to teach students that science class is about science – what is taught in science class is how science explores the world and the results of that exploration.  Religious beliefs of students do not have to be confronted.

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34 responses so far

34 Responses to “Teaching Creationism in Schools”

  1. [...] The venrable NeuroLogica Blog writes, in Teaching Creationism: [...]

  2. Darrenon 12 Sep 2008 at 4:40 pm

    I don’t think Reiss is espousing the position you claim he is. I think it’s a lot more moderate than that. He seems to be saying that educators should address the controversy when it arises, rather than shutting down the discussion.

    That may not be the “most scientific” approach, but it is sound educational theory; it certainly should not be discarded as “teach the controversy” tripe, which implies actively explaining creationism to students.

    The reasoning I have behind this is a little long for a comment, so I refer interested parties to my blog post on the matter: http://radiantmatrix.org/radiantmatrix/2008/143

  3. Betty Mon 12 Sep 2008 at 5:15 pm

    There is an update to this which I saw on Professor Coloqhoun’s blog http://dcscience.net/?p=255 (sorry I haven’t mastered putting inks as clickable text). The media seem to have misinterpreted the message.

  4. Jim Shaveron 12 Sep 2008 at 5:56 pm

    Yep. More than anything else, right now, these creationists (i.e., IDers, i.e., cdesignproponentsists) want a foot in the door. That’s the only reason they came up with the “teach the controversy” B.S.; it’s really their blatant “wedge” strategy. Their full frontal assault has been beaten repeatedly in the courts, and now they’re resorting to more strategic and subtle inroads.

    And forgive the cynicism, but I do wonder whether Reverend Professor Michael Reis knows full well about and is fully a covert supporter of the wedge strategy. In any case, teaching the “controversy” is exactly what the IDiots are after in the near term; it’s step one of their ultimate strategy to overthrow ungodly science.

  5. amaon 12 Sep 2008 at 6:26 pm

    I thought this theme was easy and simple. Then I read in Orac’s blog a note and followed this link:
    http://bioethicsdiscussion.blogspot.com/2008/09/muslim-culture-and-practice-of-medicine.html

    If these guys claim religious beliefs to hinder thim to do this or that, or if a medical duty is “offensive” to their religious belief, then just give them a kick in their thinking apparatus. Such people must be kept out of medicine, completely and forever.

    Religiosity is an infectuous mental disease.

    The world is as it is, and does not give a damn (sic!) about ANY religion. If these plagues insist on their religion, then they can go to hell (sic!).

    Mankind nearly killed the whole planet, climate is turning wild (we do not know why [we only can guess], and we do not know what to do to keep nature and us alive).

    There is no place for ANY idiocy.

    We near the 7 billion figure of humans on this earth, and we do not have enough food, not enoug energy and the whole nature is collapsing. Nature can very well do without human beings. A world without humans IS better…

    For man-free zones!

  6. Simon Ton 12 Sep 2008 at 6:55 pm

    The Royal Society and Michael Reiss later issued a clarification:

    “The Royal Society is opposed to creationism being taught as science. Some media reports have misrepresented the views of Professor Michael Reiss, Director of Education at the Society expressed in a speech yesterday.

    Professor Reiss has issued the following clarification. “Some of my comments about the teaching of creationism have been misinterpreted as suggesting that creationism should be taught in science classes. Creationism has no scientific
    basis. However, when young people ask questions about creationism in science classes, teachers need to be able to explain to them why evolution and the Big Bang are scientific theories but they should also take the time to explain
    how science works and why creationism has no scientific basis.”

    Taken from David Colquhoun’s blog: http://dcscience.net/?p=255

  7. TracyScotton 13 Sep 2008 at 12:00 am

    I don’t understand why there can not just be offered an elective course of World Religions. This way, if people want to participate, they can, and as an added benefit, learn that their religion is not the only one. Hopefully, this will teach tolerance instead of buttressing even more ignorant judgment on the part of the hard core fanatacists.

    Religion should not be taught alongside science. Obviously, the two are entirely unrelated.

  8. HCNon 13 Sep 2008 at 12:51 am

    TracyScott said “I don’t understand why there can not just be offered an elective course of World Religions.”

    That makes sense. Would it include Pastafarians? ;-)

    Actually, as a kid and even now I like reading myths from around the world. Many include their own version of a creation story. One interesting one is “Raven Steals the Sun” (a common American Northwest Coast story). I also remember seeing some PBS series decades ago that drew parallels between creation stories/myths of Egypt, India, and other parts of the Middle East (like Persia) that were echoed in the Old Testament of the Bible.

    (note: Tracy, you might want to check this out:
    http://www.randi.org/joom/swift/swift-september-12-2008.html#i9 )

  9. deciuson 13 Sep 2008 at 7:26 am

    Steve said:

    it is easy to teach students that science class is about science – what is taught in science class is how science explores the world and the results of that exploration. Religious beliefs of students do not have to be confronted.

    Religious beliefs of students will nevertheless be shattered.

    I hope that you don’t subscribe to the NOMA notion, because it’s plainly false. Religion and science make mutually incompatible claims about nature and the origin of life, that only a self-deceptive compartmentalisation of one’s cognition a la Ken Miller fails to detect.

  10. cuervoon 13 Sep 2008 at 8:03 am

    Maybe it would be a good idea to give creationism a good kicking in the classroom rather than a relativistic, PC response.

  11. nwtk2007on 13 Sep 2008 at 8:35 am

    Teaching Creationism in a science class cannot be done.

    I had some of my AP kids come in one day arguing about that very thing. Some believing in ti and some not.

    They asked me my opinion and I, in an effort not to be involved in the debate, stated that I had no opinion. I did offer that I felt that as they got older most all of their current opinions would change so why argue about it now.

    I was called down to the principles office that very afternoon. She had received a call from a parent because a student had been offended by my remark; that I had crossed the line and gone too far.

    My principle did not support me and informed me that I needed to be more careful about what I spoke to the kids about.

    Absolute horse $hit.

    Our society is too easily “offended” and ready to take up arms against a lack of opinion, so what do you think will happen if the discussion goes national?

    Whether or not creation/ID is science or not doesn’t matter to the real world. For now, it is taboo to even have or not have an opinion about some things. Catch 22.

    Leave it out.

  12. alyricon 13 Sep 2008 at 12:07 pm

    “The Royal Society is opposed to creationism being taught as science”

    And that says it all. crtreationism is a system of beliefs, which are not falsifiable, being faith based and therefore not science – crystal clear, right?

    So let us not forget that except in very broad terms, evolution is not fact. When you get to the nitty gritty, there are several schools of thought about how evolution is supposed to work – faith based anyone? A lot of the supporting evidence runs perilously close to being not falsifiable.

    I totally agree with the Reverend Professor Reiss, kids need to know how science works, what a faith based system looks like and the fact that there are many such outside the wall of the various religions.

  13. amaon 13 Sep 2008 at 12:33 pm

    “So let us not forget that except in very broad terms, evolution is not fact.”

    Very funny; very, very funny…

    http://www.orac.me

  14. deciuson 13 Sep 2008 at 3:13 pm

    alyric

    Evolution is a fact. Shove this in that empty skull of yours, would you?

  15. daedalus2uon 13 Sep 2008 at 4:47 pm

    I wrote inarticulately. I agree that pi as an abstract mathematical quantity has all the mathematical properties attributed to it, and an abstract circle cannot be squared using an abstract compass and an abstract ruler in an abstract flat Euclidean space.

    In the second paragraph of my comment when I said “pi” when I should have use the term “ratio of circumference to diameter of a circle”.

    However, Mark made a “big deal” out of trying to square the circle using a ruler and compass in our universe. He said ”That number is part of the fabric of this universe. It is a fundamental part of how life, the universe, and everything is put together.”

    Einstein said it quite well:

    ”As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain, and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.”

    Pi is a very important number in abstract mathematics. The value of pi is something that can (in principle) be calculated to any degree of certainty, even to 10^(10^(10^(10^(10^100)))) digits, though there isn’t enough mass in the known universe to do so. Does the value of pi actually correspond to anything in reality? Is it possible for there to be a universe where pi does not have the value that it does in our universe? As an abstract mathematical quantity, pi is not subject to any limitations of physical reality.

    The ratio of a circumference of a circle to its diameter does take on different values depending on the curvature of space. That ratio only has the value of pi in a completely flat and continuous space (and hence infinitely divisible space). We know our universe is not completely flat. Our universe very likely has some level of graininess to it, that is there are no physical manifestations of “real” numbers with an infinite number of digits. What that means is that there is very likely no circle where the ratio of its circumference to its diameter equals the value of pi.

    There are other analogies that don’t suffer from this problem, for sample the square root of 2 cannot be expressed as the ratio of two integers. Just as impossible as the squaring of the circle but leaves out the confusion of needing an abstract ruler, and abstract compass and an abstract flat space.

  16. Joeon 13 Sep 2008 at 5:22 pm

    alyric: Evolution is a fact. The “theory” of evolution is subject to testing and revision. However, it has withstood 150 years of scrutiny and is arguably the best-supported theory in science. Yes, I said “arguably,” because theories in physical science can be strongly supported, too. However, it takes a lot more data to support an idea in biology. There are massive amounts of data that support evolution, as opposed to fewer, more powerful, experiments that support, for example, relativity.

    There is a particular problem in the USA in that fundamentalist christians often come to class armed with difficult questions about evolution. Although the answers are known, these can catch a teacher off guard. Then, there is the ignorant notion that any proposal is as valid as any other.

    decius on 13 Sep 2008 at 7:26 am wrote “I hope that you don’t subscribe to the NOMA notion, because it’s plainly false.”

    NOMA is an idea developed by the late Stephen Jay Gould http://www.stephenjaygould.org/library/gould_noma.html

    It is plainly true that scientists with religious beliefs can do high quality research and teaching. The scientific literature is filled with publications from people whose religious beliefs are not an issue. When it comes to science, it does not matter if you are a rastafarian or a pastafarian. Ramen.

  17. deciuson 13 Sep 2008 at 6:28 pm

    # Joe

    I am perfectly aware that Gould developed the idea and Dawkins, among others, demonstrated its inanity.

    Yes, you can do good research and teaching, even if you are religious and “gifted” with the ability to compartmentalise your brain just enough to allow you to hold two unreconcilable world-views at the same time. Just another form of wishful-thinking, which in a broader sense is sheer intellectual dishonesty.

  18. sock puppeton 13 Sep 2008 at 10:23 pm

    That “teach the controversy” stuff kills me. We should start including a whole section on holocaust deniers while teaching history on WWII, after all we want to be balanced.

    The bottom line is it isn’t science, even if you believe it’s true it still isn’t science. It would be like teaching a class on green and someone says I want to talk about red, you reply this class is about green and they say they are both colors. So what, it’s not f’ing green.

  19. nwtk2007on 13 Sep 2008 at 11:22 pm

    “Just another form of wishful-thinking, which in a broader sense is sheer intellectual dishonesty.”

    A perfect description of many on this and other blogs.

    I doubt if you or any others here really know what Gould or Dawkins actually felt about their lives and the impact they had on their peers.

    How entertaining.

  20. Alexon 14 Sep 2008 at 4:30 am

    A massive mud-slinging is taking place against Reiss: http://richarddawkins.net/article,3109,n,n

    Anyone who has actually read his article outlining his position ( http://richarddawkins.net/article,3100,n,n ) should know that he was not advocating the teaching of creationism and ID in science classes. What he did was encourage teachers to view creationism as a worldview, and to address creationism if questions come up, “to illustrate a number of aspects of how science works.” If you have actually read Mr. Reiss’s opinion piece, Dr. Novella, I can not imagine how you could have possibly drawn the conclusion that this is a “teach the controversy” approach.

  21. deciuson 14 Sep 2008 at 5:52 am

    # nwtk2007

    I doubt if you or any others here really know what Gould or Dawkins actually felt about their lives and the impact they had on their peers.

    What are you trying to say?

  22. deciuson 14 Sep 2008 at 5:58 am

    # Alex

    You miss a number of points and you take Reiss’s partial retraction at face value.

    Read this article, it will help to understand the situation.

    There are two ways of reacting to the Royal Society’s claim that its education director Michael Reiss was misrepresented in reports alleging he thought creationism should be taught in science classrooms. Either journalists got it wrong or Reiss – an ordained Church of England clergyman – did indeed suggest religious dogma be mixed with science teaching. I tend very much to the latter view.

    As Sir Harry Kroto, a society fellow, and a Nobel prize winner, pointed out in a letter to the Royal Society, Reiss was an accident waiting to happen: ‘I warned the president … that his was a dangerous appointment. I did not realise just how dangerous it would turn out to be.’

    Now the society has been caught out, though in the short term it may ride out the current controversy. In the wake of Reiss’s remarks, most commentaries have focused, quite reasonably, on the issue of how science and religion should be taught at school. At the same time, the Royal Society has rushed to assure scientists that it still believes creationism has no place in school laboratories.

    There is a second, more important issue at stake, however. How should the Royal Society, the world’s oldest and most prestigious scientific organisation, treat religion within the confines of its own headquarters?

    Science and religion do mix, though the combination is often volatile – the reaction often depending, intriguingly, on the discipline studied by a particular researcher, according to Sir Tim Hunt, winner of the 2001 Nobel prize for medicine. ‘Cosmologists and physicists dwell on cosmic forces which – if altered only slightly – would prevent many chemical reactions, and life, from occurring. The sheer improbability of our universe makes them all a bit spiritual and soft on religion. By contrast, biologists see evolution constantly at work in their research and are more hard-nosed about God.’

    The idea is not without exceptions, of course. Hunt, a biologist, is scarcely hardline about Reiss’s creationism call, for example. ‘I am not worried about this one, though I am definitely anti-religious.’

    But if he is unworried about God getting a foot in the Royal Society’s door, many other fellows find recent developments troubling. Scientists such as Kroto, Sir Richard Roberts (another UK Nobel winner), and Richard Dawkins look with horror upon the spread of faith schools; the growing influence of bodies such as the Templeton Foundation, a conservative US organisation which constantly seeks to establish links between science and religion; and the prospect of creationism being taught in Britain’s science classrooms. They expect the Royal Society to take a tough stand on these issues.

    Many of their fears are based on their American experiences, it should be noted. Kroto and Richards now work there while Dawkins is a frequent visitor on the US lecture circuit. And what they see in America unnerves them: school science teachers who firmly believe the world and humanity are the 6,000-year-old handiwork of God and who cannot accept what DNA tells us about our close relationships with the animal world, what isotope research reveals about the deep antiquity of our planet, what astronomical studies tell us about the size and age of the universe; and what fossils reveal about our own species’ multimillion-year lineage. The prospect of such ignorance spreading to Britain quite rightly appals them.

    ‘I don’t know if it is too late to stop the slide in Britain but I think it is in the US where they [the religious right] have now almost complete control over politics, the judiciary, education, business, journalism and television,’ says Kroto. ‘And it will only take a presidential victory by McCain, followed by him having a heart attack weeks later, and Sarah Palin, a creationist supporter, will become head of the world’s most powerful country.’

    It is the duty of scientists to fight such onslaughts and be examples of rationality in a darkening world, it is argued. Hence the anger at the Royal Society for failing to firmly nail its colours to its mast. The organisation has a motto: ‘Nullius in verba’ (roughly, ‘Take nobody’s word for it’). In other words, verify everything by experiment and think for yourself. Both are noble aspirations. It is therefore baffling how an ordained minister – a man committed to believing the word of God without question – could have been asked to play a senior role in the society. Equally, the society’s acceptance of money from the Templeton Foundation raises further concerns.

    The Royal Society – which should set the fiercest of examples in its commitment to rationality – has shown worrying signs of spiritual sloppiness. (Its current president, Lord Rees, is a cosmologist who attends church ‘as an unbelieving Anglican’, it should be noted.) Those of a religious persuasion might welcome this softening. I would sound a note of caution, however. Britain is still a broadly secular society which guarantees freedoms not just to atheists but to all religions, no matter how few its adherents. If we follow the example of America then all are threatened by the rise of a powerful Christian right.

    We badly need our premier scientific society to stand firm and present a clear vision of how our planet, our species, and the cosmos came into existence. It needs to be unequivocal about the wonders of nature as revealed through rational, scientific investigation. As Douglas Adams put it: ‘Isn’t enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe there are fairies at the bottom of it too?’

  23. deciuson 14 Sep 2008 at 6:03 am

    I forgot to credit the author.

    The article is by Robin McKie, The Observer

  24. Alexon 14 Sep 2008 at 11:41 am

    I did read that article. I’d say that Reiss’s most troubling comment was this:

    “Now I would be more content simply for them to understand [evolution and natural selection] as one way of understanding the universe.”

    Despite this, he is not advocating that time should be allocated for creationism in science classes. He is suggesting that teachers should discuss the issue when students ask about it, and, as Dr. Novella suggested, use it to explain how real science works. And he is absolutely right to point out that simply telling students that they’re wrong and not discussing the issue any further isn’t going to convince anyone.

    I have read whatever I could about this, and I have yet to find an explicit recommendation of teaching the controversy (if I have missed such comments, please let me know). The article above implies that as a clergyman, Reiss should not have been appointed in his position at the Royal Society, that he is a biblical literalist, and that he will, together with an unbelieving Royal Society cosmologist who likes to go to church, and within a scientific organization that is soft on religion, give rise to a Christian Right in Britain. Give me a break.

  25. champagnejon 14 Sep 2008 at 12:17 pm

    Joe

    “It is plainly true that scientists with religious beliefs can do high quality research and teaching. The scientific literature is filled with publications from people whose religious beliefs are not an issue. When it comes to science, it does not matter if you are a rastafarian or a pastafarian.”

    This is a fair statement, but has no bearing on science and religion having conflicting claims. The fact that Stephen Jay Gould developed the idea of NOMA also has no bearing on its validity. It seems to me that subscribing to this idea requires a magic wand to remove all the overlap that does indeed exist between religion and science.

  26. Joeon 14 Sep 2008 at 2:28 pm

    champagnej on 14 Sep 2008 at 12:17 pm wrote “This is a fair statement, but has no bearing on science and religion having conflicting claims. The fact that Stephen Jay Gould developed the idea of NOMA also has no bearing on its validity. It seems to me that subscribing to this idea requires a magic wand to remove all the overlap that does indeed exist between religion and science.”

    I only expanded on NOMA because the term was offered without explanation or citation. There are people who are not aware of its meaning. As far as naming Gould, it simply gives credit where it is due. As a long-time, practical scientist, I have very little use for philosophy- Dawkins’ or Gould’s. However, I did get a kick out of that NOMA article.

  27. Lectoron 14 Sep 2008 at 4:15 pm

    Not really surprising, considering it’s a Reverend saying all of this.

    Creationism is a lie, it’s a lie that was founded by a dying religion in it’s desperate attempt to survive. They is no scientific proof of a creator and of divine guidance in evolution, it’s just another “have faith and don’t ask any questions about what we tell you” situation.

    The tide is not towards creationism, it’s towards atheism. Schools and Government should be secular, religion has no place in these two organisations. Modern knowledge should not be stifled by religions that are based on ancient dictators’ attempts to control the common people.

    Religious people should not be involved in making decisions about our schools or our laws, they are biased and cannot see they own bias. Reverends have no place making these sweeping statements when clearly they are totally out of touch with the really of the people of this modern society.

  28. [...] Doctor Steven Novella has his own take [...]

  29. Joeon 15 Sep 2008 at 8:29 am

    PZ Myers has a post on this: http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/09/michael_reisss_big_mistake.php

  30. badrescheron 16 Sep 2008 at 2:04 pm

    The whole point here is that you cannot hope to reach students if you start by offending them. People want their beliefs confirmed, not confronted.

    Suggestion:

    Teach students (in the methods portion of a course, a methods course, or a philosophy of science course) the basics – how knowledge is acquired and what defines science.

    Teach students that knowledge gained through assumption (faith) is not “bad”, “wrong”, or “inferior”. It is not KNOWLEDGE. It is BELIEF or FAITH.

    Teach students that science has nothing, nada, zip to say about faith or the value of faith, and nor do you (as a teacher of science).

    It might not hurt to point out that attempting to mix the two does a disservice to faith itself. Evidence destroys faith.

    I do all of the above in all of my courses. Nobody is offended and some “believers” start questioning their beliefs (religious, supernatural, or otherwise), but all are more open to learning what science IS, how to evaluate evidence, and how to acquire new knowledge.

  31. Steve Pageon 17 Sep 2008 at 2:58 am

    He’s resigned, by the way.

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/science/article4768820.ece

  32. Jay.Yon 22 Sep 2008 at 7:37 pm

    For the sake of irony, this blog has exactly 666 words in it…

  33. Jason Streitfeldon 26 Oct 2008 at 7:10 am

    From Steven Novella’s original post:

    “First, any such discussion should be part of a philosophy of science class. Alternatively, it would be reasonable in a section of science class about scientific method and critical thinking – again, offered as an example of pseudoscience, alongside bigfoot and homeopathy.

    It absolutely should not be taught alongside evolution or in the life origins section of science class.”

    I disagree. I think a science education greatly benefits when social, cultural, philosophical and methodological issues are discussed in direct relation with the relevant subject matter. I don’t see any benefit to separating the critical thinking side from the bare facts side of science education.

    If we want to teach students the historical and cultural impact and importance of evolutionary theory (and I think we do), then we should teach them how complex organisms have developed in the absence of a designer, and why arguments for a designer are misled and illgotten.

    This is relevant to science, and should not be delegated to the philosophy classroom, as though the sanctity of science education would somehow be tarnished by such matters.

    Does this mean I am for “teaching the controversy?” Yes and no. I am for teaching students to understand the intellectual bankruptcy of creationism and Intelligent Design, and for understanding the full weight and relevance of evolutionary theory in particular, and scientific discovery in general. This requires bringing religious and pseudoscientific discussions into the science classroom, where the “controversy” can be exposed for the nonsense that it really is.

  34. Fifion 26 Oct 2008 at 8:35 am

    Jay Y – Apparently there’s some controversy as to whether 666 is actually “the number of the beast” and that properly translated it’s 616. Just doesn’t sound quite as “evil” or dramatic as 666 sadly but it does make all the drama over 666 even more hilarious (and satanic heavy metal even more hilariously great!)

    http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=44169

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