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<   No. 949   2005-09-01   >

Comic #949

1 {scene: a lurid landscape of primary colours, with a conspicuous yellow brick road. A house nearby sits on top of a set of legs wearing red slippers. A girl with a little white dog looks around inquisitively}
1 Dorothy: Oh my, what a storm. Where are we? Oh, there's a sign, maybe that will help.
2 Dorothy [reading]: "Evolution is a theory supported by a vast amount of observational evidence. Like all scientific theories, it is amenable to testing - and disproof, should such evidence arise.
3 Dorothy [reading]: "Creationism is a bedtime story told by people who prefer blind faith to informed understanding. As it is unfalsifiable, it is in no sense scientific and has no place in schools."
4 Dorothy: Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore.

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This is of course a parody of The Wizard of Oz. And yes, that's the line exactly as she says it in the film. I was surprised when I viewed it recently and heard the line, as I'd assumed for many years that it was "I don't think we're in Kansas any more, Toto."

To do this, I had to recreate the yellow brick road I made for #319. I now have more yellow bricks, but was paving a larger baseplate and began to run out of red bricks this time.

The context of this parody is the ongoing and mind-boggling debate in the United States over whether evolution or creationism (or its new politically correct formulation "Intelligent Design") or both should be taught in school science classes. Kansas has been a particular stronghold of creationists seeking to undermine public education by promoting their religious agenda, with its State Board of Education voting in 1999 in favour of a new science curriculum that made no mention of the true age of the Earth, the age and origins of the universe, or of biological evolution. Quite how this qualifies as science is beyond me. The Board reversed its decision in 2001 after massive public outcry.

What really boggles me is that evolution is the single most profound and far-reaching discovery ever made in the entire science of biology, and a significant number of people simply refuse to believe it.

Wow. I got a lot of e-mails about this one. Many supportive, some politely disagreeing, and a couple rudely abusive.

If you disagree with me on this topic, fine. We'll just have to agree to disagree. I won't get into an argument about it.

I don't back down from what I said, however. Evolution is part of science. Researchers are constantly probing and testing its formulation, modifying the pieces that don't seem to work when evidence comes to light. This is the process of science. Postulating some sort of creator/designer is not scientific, as it cannot be probed and tested in any meaningful sense.

You can believe whatever you like. I have no problem at all with people holding beliefs or being religious. But they have no place in a science class.

And several people pointed me to the Flying Spaghetti Monster to show exactly why.

After about 50 e-mails, someone has pointed out that Toto was in fact a little black dog, not a little white dog. I made some investigations, examined the evidence, and now admit that I was incorrect and am adopting a new theory on Toto's colouration.

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Last Modified: Thursday, 1 September 2005; 03:11:00 PST.
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