Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Wow! Anger evolved into . . . Outrage!

It is things like this that drive me nuts.

Texas may start teaching against Evolution

How is it that the people who most vocally oppose science end up in positions to influence it on a national scale?

I'm going to be perfectly frank on this issue. Some ungentlemanly language may arise. I don't know, I'm not planning it, but I feel fair warning is warranted as the issue of how we continually re-elect people intent on undermining education, the single most important element in the framework of our country, is one that outrages me.

Teaching Creationism to "let kids understand the argument" is bullshit. BULLSHIT. We are talking about a class in which we send our children to learn science. That is why it is called science class. Evolution is, to the best of our knowledge, the strongest scientific argument for how life arose on the planet. Creationism is not science. It has no scientific basis. It's teaching children that we should be skeptical of what science tells us if there's a religious precept contradicting it. The textbooks in question are meant to teach our students biology; that is, the biological functions of the plant and animal life on Earth as we best understand it. Not "Here's 500 years of painstaking research OR we can just say it all magically appeared one day."

Goddammit, my Pokemon EVOLVE, they do not have their prayers for better stat growth answered by a kind and benevolent deity.

Is Evolution that hard to reconcile with religious beliefs? Do any of the people who argue that dinosaur bones were put in the ground by Satan to test our faith (and yes, those people are real) believe that God falls under the same constraints as the typical Roman calender? It does not actually state the age of the Earth at any point in the bible. Is it really that much of an affront to suggest life was made to adapt on its own? "Intelligent design" has us believe God planned out every stage of existence for us. Doesn't that run completely contradictory to the idea that we were given free will? Is it that impossible to believe that God created life, gave it the ability to adapt and survive in changing environments, and then left us to our own devices? Wouldn't that actually work out a lot better?

I digress. Evolution and Religion walking hand-in-hand as some Creationists would have you believe man did with dinosaurs (which, remember, by another school of thought, were buried there by the devil) is not the issue. The issue is that there are people in our society actively trying to push our education system backwards and pollute the institution of science because they don't think it gels with what their invisible man has to say. If we want students to question evolution, why don't we teach them the holes in the theory and the unresolved issues with the fossil record? Maybe that will inspire more biologists and archaeologists, and fewer television evangelists. Maybe it will make people want to learn. A friend of mine put it best; "The "Darwin made errors" argument simply shows that the person is ignoring hundreds of years of research since his publication and perhaps assumes that science, like religion, is an archaic dogma that is against change. Rather, science embraces new theories and corrections and well, it becomes clear that the person using this argument is not even aware of how the scientific method is intended to be put into use."

This isn't about promoting discussion or argument. This is about mandating religious beliefs be taught in a scientific course. That's the kind of education we would send children off to college with. Could this be a contributing factor to 25% of high school students in America not graduating on time - or at all? Maybe not this specifically, but things like this, definitely. Because this kind of thinking contributes to the idea that there are forces too complex for us to understand, therefore we shouldn't even try. It doesn't just stymie knowledge, it prevents it from ever being formed in the first place.

Creationism is not a bad thing to learn. Not by any means. If your school teaches a class on Comparative Religion or Religious Studies, it's the perfect venue for it. Not biology. Evolution, imperfect as the theory may be, can be supported by scientific evidence. There is no part of Creationism that lines up with any ideas other than those which are religious doctrines. That is not science, and should not be taught to our children.

Please, for all of our sakes, let's keep try and keep our education system from getting worse. Teach religion at home, or let children learn it objectively in the classroom. Don't let them believe that it has any basis in science.

And can we convert to the fucking metric system already?!


Damo said...

Nice. Thanks for that.

Ozkirbas said...

A bright line distinction between science and faith is probably best. Although, I do wonder about the Scientific Method and how the belief in the power of scientific observation functions a lot like its own faith-based system. From tradition to money. Love to math. Religion to science. Creationism to Darwinism. There's an element of faith in a lot of topics. But, of course, what's labeled as "Science" should be left to the concepts derived from the Scientific Method - not explanations derived almost entirely from a religious institution. If we don't, Science stops becoming Science and becomes Philosophy. Or, even more frustrating, it just stops becoming anything at all. And everything could possibly apply.

A hypothetical:

I create my own theory that says evolution doesn't exist. Not because I think God created the Earth, but because I conclusively decide that God and time do not exist. I decide that past and future are human percepts and, really, reality is constructed of segmented moments that the human brain attempts to tie together so that it can move on to the next moment until these moments simply stop. By this model, I assert that nothing is ever created and, therefore, nothing is ever destroyed. Lets say I even cite biology and psychology studies that affirm that the human brain is constructed to fill-in blanks for a sense of continuity, to see the separate parts of an action summarized as a whole almost instantaneously, all for the sole purpose of perceiving time in a way that simple creatures, like us, will understand. And hereby, I proclaim evolution and God don't exist. There's just what is.

If I convince 25% of Americans that this is a viable scientific theory to compete with evolution or creationism - should I be allowed to have this taught in science classes nationally? If so, how will this further separate the nation's population, beyond moral/cultural polarization, into distinctive classes?

AZ Winer said...

Actually Oz, I've been living my life based on a version of that theory for the past 4 years. I just usually don't bother explaining it to others.

of course, it's scientifically proven to be untrue... but why should logic stop me when i have Faith.