NGSS in Utah — Evolution Is Like Cheerios

We found this in the Salt Lake Tribune of Salt Lake City, Utah, the location of the headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Their headline is Public feedback on evolution, climate change to be considered in rewrite of Utah school science standards. The newspaper story already has 77 comments.

Utah is considering adoption of the pro-evolution Next Generation Science Standards (the “NGSS”). As that Wikipedia article explains, the NGSS were drafted as a privately funded (i.e., non-governmental) effort by the National Science Teachers Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Research Council, and others. States remain free to run their own education systems. They may adopt the NGSS voluntarily, or they don’t have to. So far, about 13 states have adopted the NGSS. [Addendum: That’s fifteen states, according to the National Center for Science Education — see NGSS adopted in Iowa.]

But it’s not smooth sailing in Utah. We can’t determine if the opposition is coming from creationist organizations, but it probably is. The Discoveroids, for example, hate the NGSS. Casey Luskin wrote back in 2013:

The NGSS are ardently pro-Darwin-only, and would withhold from students any information about the scientific weaknesses in Darwinian theory.


[L]eading groups skeptical of modern Darwinian theory (including Discovery Institute) were excluded from the NGSS drafting process, but pro-Darwin advocacy groups like the National Center for Science Education, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the National Science Teachers Association were invited.

Although we don’t know who is causing the problems in Utah, they’ve got problems. Here are some excerpts from the news story, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

A set of proposed standards for middle school science was recently released for 90 days of public review, which included a series of town hall meetings that drew loud, capacity crowds. But school board members ordered Utah Office of Education staff back to the drawing board on Friday to incorporate public feedback into a full rewrite, prior to an additional, 30-day review period.

That’s a long review period. And the meetings “drew loud, capacity crowds.” Now there’s going to be a rewrite, followed by yet another 30-day review period. Things don’t move swiftly in Utah. Then we’re told:

Board member Leslie Castle questioned whether the push to rewrite and review the standards was a distraction meant to kill the proposed changes. She said that as the debate drags on, only “religious zealots” will remain, as moderate members of the public are lost to attrition. “We are going to have not only the most underfunded students in this country, but we’re going to have the stupidest ones,” Castle said.

She doesn’t have to worry. Louisiana will always be number one in the stupid category. Let’s read on:

The out-of-state origins have riled critics, who worry students would be subjected to political bias on controversial subjects like evolution and climate change.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! So far, this is a routine tale. The NGSS sometimes face that kind of opposition. But here comes the fun part. This is why we decided that the Utah situation is blog-worthy:

During the public comment portion of the board’s Friday meeting, Morgan County resident Lydia Nuttall said science education should include multiple theories on the origins of human life.

Lydia Nuttall? BWAHAHAHAHAHA! This is wonderful! Pay careful attention to what she says:

Holding up a bag of Cheerios, she compared education to meal planning and said students should be offered multiple options for breakfast, rather than a single item. “They need to be taught something more than just one ideology for the origins of mankind,” Nuttall said. “We can’t say we have freedom if we’re just teaching one way of thinking.”

The news story goes on for a while. It’s going to take some time for Utah to decide what to do, but we’ve already given you the entertaining stuff. Make of it what you will.

Copyright © 2015. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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25 responses to “NGSS in Utah — Evolution Is Like Cheerios

  1. What is needed is an alternative cereal like “Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs”.
    Its description at reminds one of descriptions of ID.

  2. Now Lydia, if Cheerios for breakfast were a completely balanced and nutritious meal, and the only other breakfasts available were junk food, it would be a good idea to eat just the Cheerios breakfast. And so it is with evolution: it is completely supported by overwhelming evidence and fully related to reality. All the alleged alternatives so far proposed are junk. If you really want your kids exposed to junk, do it at home on your own time.

  3. michaelfugate

    They can no longer teach religion in public schools and they can’t challenge evolution on scientific grounds, so now they are resorting to “it’s politics”. These will destroy everything – if given the chance.

  4. Ms Nuttall appears to have overlooked the nutritional balance of Multigrain-Cheerios, made from maize, oats, wheat, barley, and rice….

  5. Megalonyx, we’ve had our rivalries in the past, but I want you to know that Ms Nuttall is all yours.

  6. Holding The Line In Florida

    It is amazing that Florida is one of the states to have adopted the NGSS for our public schools. Of course we have many other options for those who reject it.

  7. I’m from Pennsylvania. I was thrilled with Judge Jones’ decision for Kitzmiller v. Dover but they keep showing me how naive I was to think that that ruling would stop this nonsense. They keep saying it’s about academic freedom when it is obviously about their deep fear of godless (and therefore immoral) explanations. The wedge comes in many guises. They can’t for the life of them imagine how any of this (reality) can be happening unless god is or was involved. Yet they can imagine an eternal, supernatural, all-knowing, all powerful being who answers prayers. Funny how the mind works.

    The crucial point they keep missing is that a scientific explanation works with or without god, e.g., theistic evolution and atheistic evolution behave exactly the same way. Just as taking an aspirin for a headache works whether or not you believe god was involved. Fine if they want to believe in theistic evolution but they should show some humility and admit that their theism is outside the scope of science.

    I would like to do a poll to find out what percent of these academic freedom advocates are exercising this freedom in their churches to teach other sides. Very few, I’ll bet. Why the double standard? Because religion uses a different thought process (as in unscientific) and they know this but are unable or unwilling to admit it to themselves. I am an atheist but I used to be Catholic so I know first hand the cognitive dissonance required to try to square my faith-based, will-to-believe religious thinking with my evidence-based, will-to-doubt skeptical scientific thinking. Eventually my skeptical thinking prevailed, as it must for anyone committed to not deceiving themselves.

    This well-written article by lawyer Frank Ravitch does a fine job explaining why ID will never be considered science, intellectually nor legally.

  8. @Ted
    It cannot be just that people are afraid of godless explanations.
    We don’t have this kind of reaction when it concerns electricity or earthquakes or airplanes.
    Why is there no complaint about godless seismology, when there are major difficulties in explaining earthquakes?
    While we have religions which tell us not to go to doctors, there are none which shun plumbers. (Deuteronomy 23:13 is as good a proof-text against plumbing as anything that you can find against evolution.)

  9. Hey, Lydia — let the science classes show the evidence for evolution; let the Sunday school classes tell the kiddies that evolution was designed by God. There is absolutely no evidence supporting that idea, but hey — that’s why it’s called “faith.”

  10. michaelfugate

    Evolution as ideology? Ideologues need some self awareness.

  11. If evolution is a bag of Cheerios, creationism is a bag of maggots.

  12. @Tom,

    Good point but on what basis does someone decide a process is theistic e.g., evolution vs. is atheistic e.g., electricity? I am assuming most theists believe everything was designed and/or created by god, not just humans through evolution. They believe in electricity because they know it works, but if you ask them where electrons came from I think they’ll answer “God.” As long as they understand this is not a scientific claim and belongs out of science class I will tolerate their right to their belief, insofar as I’m required to tolerate any religious belief.

  13. @Ted
    Why can a religious person accept that electrons are created by God, and also accept that science has the right idea about electrons?

    However that person reconciles that, why cannot one do the same thing about each of us being a creature of God, and that science can talk about living things without having to make reference to God?

    The only difference that I can see is that people find it icky to think of their being related to the rest of life. And they resort to religion to fend off those repulsive thoughts about evolution.

  14. I think the religious objections to evolution is that it contradicts the Bible. The Bible says nothing about electrons, elecricity, etc. so the Bible thumpers are ok with that science; just not anything that has to do with the origins of man.

  15. michaelfugate

    I think the religious objections to evolution is that some idiots believe it contradicts the Bible.

  16. @retiredsciguy
    The Bible says nothing about taxonomy, biogeography, genetics, or paleontology. The Bible does say things about cosmology which nearly everyone ignores.
    Yes, but why do people want to make the Bible contradict evolution?

  17. Because they want a tale of human origins which places us here on earth, poof, with no connection to dirty, disgusting animals and which bolsters the hope that death is not the end. (Frankly, I share that hope–but I’m not counting on its being borne out.)

  18. @Eric Lipps: Right-o. We just want to think we’re special.

  19. @EricL: “I share that hope”
    Why? Both my son and I are, well terrified is an exaggeration, let me say repelled by the prospect of living forever and ever and ever and ever. We both have been since at least our teens.

    Rsg is right of course. One way to annoy creationists (and several other believers) is pointing out with examples that Homo Sapiens is not special at all.

  20. Our Curmudgeon appears in the giving vein today:

    I want you to know that Ms Nuttall is all yours.

    You mean, your hands are still too full with Ronda Storms?

    But I’ll pass, all the same. Ever since Olivia fused her innermost soul to mine, I have no interest in other women–or in Cheerios, for that matter…

  21. Pope Retiredsciguy suggests a reason why some cling to a belief in dieties despite the paucity of evidence thereunto:

    We just want to think we’re special.

    But what could be more special than to be a sentient creature that has a pedigree of some 3.6 billion years of evolution? Not one break in the chain of living organisms stretching back from each and every one of us back through the aeons! And what could be more awesome and inspiring than to embrace our intimate connection with the entire biosphere of this planet, and to meet–with all the intelligence and the passion we can muster–our responsibility for the welfare of all life on earth? 70 years ago this month mankind demonstrated our capacity for self-annihilation–and illustrated thereby how compelling is the need to embrace our capacity for reason, for enlightenment, and the perpetual quest for knowledge and wisdom. We are not puppets of some Sky Daddy, but the makers–for better or worse–of our own fates.

    As Darwin himself concluded, “there is grandeur in this view of life.”

  22. Dave Luckett

    The joke, Megalonyx, is that every single statement you made in your last would be heartily agreed to by the vast majority of the world’s Christians, or for that matter, subscribers to all the Abrahamic religions. Maybe nearly all theists.

  23. I call to mind the fallacies of composition and division, which do not distinguish between the individual and the group.

    Does one want to feel that I am special, for example I have a special relationship with my Creator and Redeemer?

    Or is it that the abstraction, the species Homo sapiens, is something special?

    I note that it is Universalism, a heresy from standard Christian thought, that “mankind” is redeemed, rather than individuals.

  24. @Tom,

    It’s exhausting trying to follow theistic reasoning so I gave up. They’ve been making it all up as they go along, anyway. That’s what people do when they’re committed to a belief but have no evidence to back it up. In the cafeteria of religion there are hundreds of “theories” to choose from to fit each believer’s particular appetite. For those on a diet you have deism, where a creator got the universe up and running and then either backed off or disappeared or died, deists can’t say. For those hungrier patrons you have theism, where a god or gods (theists can’t seem to agree) stayed on the scene and created humans via theistic evolution, then backed off. For the hungriest you have god or gods who did all the above but stuck around even today to answer (or ignore) prayers, intervene with miracles (hey, the pope says so and he oughta know), etc.

    Which version is true? Well, even scientists have to admit any COULD be true so let’s teach them all (academic freedom) and let kids decide. Wait, can’t teach religion so let’s call it “intelligent design”, that’ll fool ’em.

  25. Lydia Nuttall……..appropriate name …..
    Utah is a state where many residents wear super secret double probation specially god ordained underwear, think that a lost tribe of Israel ended up in New Yorlk or Ohio or wherever it is their founder came up with his claims.
    Don’t expect logic from the faithful. That was thrown out a LONG time ago.