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August 01, 2005

Texas Bible course: "NASA says earth stood still"

The Bible and other holy books belong in public school libraries and I have no objection to the rigorous academic study of any text in a public school. But this is utterly beyond the pale:

Bible Course Becomes a Test for Public Schools in Texas [NYT permalink]

HOUSTON, July 31 - When the school board in Odessa, the West Texas oil town, voted unanimously in April to add an elective Bible study course to the 2006 high school curriculum, some parents dropped to their knees in prayerful thanks that God would be returned to the classroom, while others assailed it as an effort to instill religious training in the public schools.

The "balance" of the article is amusing. Half the room prostrates itself in religious ecstacy and the reporter notes that some people worry that the resolution might be have something to do with proselytizing. Kevin Drum agrees, describing the article as a virtual showcase of the worst that journalism has to offer.

The article continues:

But a growing chorus of critics says the course, taught by local teachers trained by the council, conceals a religious agenda. The critics say it ignores evolution in favor of creationism and gives credence to dubious assertions that the Constitution is based on the Scriptures, and that "documented research through NASA" backs the biblical account of the sun standing still.

Update: Amanda, a native of West Texas, has a unique perspective on this story.

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This is geting like the frickin' dark ages!

Here is the NASA/sun-standing-still story. Some people are real stupid.

From the article:

conceals a religious agenda

Conceals? Like the 9/11 attacks concealed a hostile agenda toward the US by bin Laden.

Thou shalt not lie.

It's right there in the book.

actually, i think NASA does back the idea that the sun does not move. NASA basically supports the theory of relativity which says that movement is only meaningful if measured against a reference point. the reference point is assumed to be fixed in space and all other objects motion is measured by reference to that point. the reference point can be whatever you want. the sun works fine. so does my left big toe. but it's not technically wrong assume that the sun does not move.

The reference Joe O provides does not say the earth stood still, but rather that god stopped the sun from its daily circuit around the earth to help Joshua.

You see, the earth isn't just 20,000 years old, but the sun whips around the earth each day. Hell, any rube can see the sun moving around us.

You guys want to fight about evolution? They ain't conceding geocentrism yet.

Everybody sing:

'Cause the Bible tells me so...

I say someone calls the bluff and tries to stick a class on the Koran in there. Something tells me that wouldn't go over quite so well.

The sun is rotating around the center of our galaxy as well as rotating around the center of gravity between it and the rest of the solar system. This center of gravity is somewhere between the center and the the surface of the sun, so the sun is actually wobbling.

This is how they locate distant planets, in fact, by the wobble of their suns.

"Don't let it get you down missus brown!
When things seem hard or tuff!

Just... remember... that you're standing on a planet that's evolving
Revolving at 9 hundred miles an hour
That's orbiting at 19 miles a second, so it's reckoned
A sun that is the source of all our power.

Now the Sun and you and me, and all the star they we can see are moving at a million miles a day!
Round the outer spiral arm of a galaxy revolving
A gallaxy we call the milky way!"

Eric Idle and Terry Gilliam, from Monty Python's "The Meaning of Life"

you'd think that if what they really wanted was to bring religion into the classroom, they could just teach a "comparative religion" class, which sounds pretty sensible and i think would be a great thing for high schoolers to study.

it seems to me that using state funds to teach a bible study class should be unconstitutional... anybody want to move to odessa and file a lawsuit? hmm, not me.

I think they should give equal classroom time to Monty Python.

I'll be interested to see how the teacher deals with dissent in this class. Hopefully, some free thinking student, armed with facts from his dirty Commie liberal parents, will be able to infiltrate. Lots of fun.

Y'know, with each one of these stories, I get happier about my vasectomy: I don't have to worry about my kids having to deal with classes run by the Jeebus People. On the down side, it may be difficult to find decent medical care in this country after thirty years of this nonsense.

I'll be interested to see how the teacher deals with dissent in this class.

As a bona fide West Texan I'll tell you how that will go down. The teacher will probably just let the other students pick on the dissenter until he/she learns to shut up. That's how it was for me and, as you can imagine, I'm pretty hard to shut up.

There's a lot of issues at stake with this and I wrote a post on it. It is my opinion, for what it's worth, that there are more than mere religious issues at stake. For one thing, they seem to be intent on shouldering out Catholic viewpoints and teachings, which, considering the shameful history of segregation between Hispanics and Anglos in the schools, raised an alarm with me.

So, when they fell to their knees praying in ecstasy, what language were they using?

Where's Madalyn Murray O' Hair when you need her?

Oh yeah...she was murdered.

it seems to me that using state funds to teach a bible study class should be unconstitutional... anybody want to move to odessa and file a lawsuit?

At my high school in northeastern Illinois, we had a "Bible as Literature" class where people would read and discuss the Bible as an influential work of literature, the same way you would read Shakespeare's plays.

I don't have a problem with that, but I suspect the people of Odessa would be very suspicious of a group of kids reading and discussing the actual Bible, not their preacher's version of the Bible.

"NASA basically supports the theory of relativity which says that movement is only meaningful if measured against a reference point....it's not technically wrong assume that the sun does not move."

That doesn't work for radial motion, as it is an accelerated reference frame; the earth has a constant acceleration vector towards the sun. The difference is actually a clue to the as-yet unconfirmed origin of the inertia property of mass.

And just to be anal, they both move around the aggregate centre of mass, not the sun's C of M. The sun's just a way more massive, so it hardly moves.

Earth standing still?! I remember hearing that one as a little kid and dismissing it out of hand, realizing that if one were to take however many trillions of tons of stuff the earth is made of and give it a sudden torque, things would, well, just get messy. Forces that strong are matched only by the forces of procrustean credulity in shitholes like Texas.

Wow. Just "wow". How can people be so damned stupid?

To use their own religion against them, I'd have to conclude that people who espouse things like this ridiculous story are not really Christians, but rather in league with Satan.

For starters, faith is elevated as a noble property when it comes to buying into their religion. This is because faith is belief without proof, which is a nice thing to claim to be a virtue if you don't have any proof. But, in any case, faith is supposed to be important, but having proof is a contradiction of faith. If you have proof, you no longer have faith.

Secondly, this story is easily disproven, even leaving the physics of the situation out of it, simply by following the trail of versions and retellings of the story. So, it's a demonstrable falsehood.

So, to teach people that this story is true is to catch them up in a lie that seems to offer proof and proof undermines faith. If you think you have proof you can become complacent about your beliefs and assured of your correctness, attitudes that are violate that other hallowed Christian principle of humility, among other things.

Not to mention, bearing false witness is a violation of one of the ten commandments.

So, who could possibly benefit from spreading seductive lies that prey upon weak faith to make people accept and spread false proof, in violation of one of God's commandments, further weakening their faith and filling them with a smug and haughty sense of self righteousness?


Hmmmm... could it be... Satan?


Disclaimer: I'm an atheist. I'm just playing religious idea games here. But, you've got to admit, if you look at the details, this sure looks like the work of the Adversary, if you take it to be defined within the context of the religious principles of Christianity.

So, who could possibly benefit from spreading seductive lies that prey upon weak faith to make people accept and spread false proof, in violation of one of God's commandments, further weakening their faith and filling them with a smug and haughty sense of self righteousness?

Well the bible and the torah and qur'an is quite clear that this sort of anti-faith (faith isn't belief without proof btw, belief is what you have when you think something is true but can't prove it, faith is just Faith, I believe) is the work of the devil, but these people are so plank eyed it's not even funny any more.

Of course, Jesse at pandagon shows that these weirdos are sort of the religious organisation equivalent to puffer fish - they seem bigger than they really are.

http://www.pandagon.net/archives/2005/08/bible_bible_bib.html

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