Thursday, August 25, 2005

Is Our Children Learning?

I am having a difficult time understanding the position of those that reject science as somehow anti-Christian. How can you argue that God created the world and everything in it, except for the laws that govern it? Science is simply the observation of what is.

Throughout history, there have been those who believe that the holy book of their particular group should be read literally as history and that any deviation from that narrative, however verifiable and repeatable, should be rejected as heresy. History also shows us how embarrassingly wrong that “theory” has been.

The earth it turns out is not at the center of the universe with all of the heavenly bodies swirling around it. Geology shows that an age of five thousand years for our planet is absurd. With the discovery of fossils, there were actually those that posited that Satan had hidden them in the earth to deceive the foolish. Men and women of science have been silenced, shunned, tortured and even killed in order to defend the indefensible.

In the debate over the teaching of evolution, there are once again those that prefer to force nature into a particular mold in order to hold on to a literalist interpretation of a holy book. That is fine for religion, but it has nothing to do with science. There is also an attempt to paint any and all believers of evolutionary theory as atheists. Part of the reason for this is that many people erroneously believe that evolution is about beginnings. It’s not. Evolution simply speaks about what can be seen happening in the real world. We can watch a virus evolve. Through the fossil record, we can see the results of speciation. This has nothing to do with what set it all in motion to begin with.

Intelligent Design is a religious viewpoint that I think would be unsatisfactory to most fundamentalist Christians. There is no scientific “theory” called Intelligent Design, simply an attempt to recognize some of the indisputable evidence of geology (an old age for the earth) and biology (an acceptance of the process of evolution) and mix it with a belief in a prime mover working behind the scenes. There is no Garden of Eden here, no supernatural surgery removing a rib from Adam to create Eve. There is also no theory that can be tested or proved, no experiments that can be done to show the hand of this prime mover. It’s a feeling - a feeling that the cosmos is just too complicated to have come into existence all by itself. Again, this refers to beginnings, ultimate origins about which science cannot speak.

I have no problem with ID as a religious belief. Perhaps there is a sky god that created the universe, including the laws of nature and set the big bang in motion after which he/she/it stepped aside and let it go. Who’s to say? It just seems to me that if we really want to know the mind of the creator, we should be looking at creation exactly as it is. To corrupt the evidence before our eyes about the way our world works, in order to fit it into a particular literary scheme written thousands of years ago by a wide variety of human authors trying to make sense of it all, is to deny the creation itself. Now that to me sounds like heresy.


syntax said...

i've noticed that a lot of the same people who believe that the earth is only five thousand years old and that fossils were placed on earth to "test our faith" are generally the same ones who believe that saddam hussein crashed airplanes into the world trade center four years ago.

wanna have some fun? track down a fundie and tell him or her that jesus christ is also known as "isa" and is a prophet of islam. i guarantee you that you won't be invited to any potlucks anytime soon...

Screwy Hoolie said...

Jim Jenkins! You ol' blogophile turned blogger, I'm thrilled to see you letting your inner blogger out into the cybersunshine.

To posit that teaching a religious viewpoint, unsupported by scientific evidence, ought to be put on par with the mountains of evidence in favor of natural selection is to demean the advance of civilization and human knowledge.

There are no people I'm aware who are insisting that Christian churches teach evolution in their Sunday Schools, despite the fact that churches enjoy a taxpayer sanctioned non-profit and therefore untaxed status. To suggest that, because your tax dollars are funding our public schools, religion ought to be redefined as science is patently absurd.

I'm ranting. And, staring into the cavernous can of worms this subject opens, I'm going to back away from the precipice and leave you with this:

“The fundamentalists, by 'knowing' the answers before they start examining evolution, and then forcing nature into the straitjacket of their discredited preconceptions, lie outside the domain of science - or of any honest intellectual inquiry.” - Stephen Jay Gould

Jim Jenkins said...

Ah Screwy, quoting one of my heroes. One that I sure as hell wish was alive today to help counter the de-volution of education in this country.

Frank & I went to visit his aunt the other day and she was in the middle of a presentation being given on a laptop by a man who had just come from China where he had judged a Science Fair. He was pointing out different young people in a photo from Beijing saying "See this yound lady, she's going to go far. Someday we may all know her name."

Frank's aunt then asked how the American's had done as he had previously judged a Science Fair here and he just shook his head and said it had been pathetic. The Americans had been invited to take part in the Chinese fair but none of them could compete. The Asian kids had a very strict criterion including the fact that their presentations had to be given in three different languages.

The faith-based dumbing down of our educational system does an incredible disservice to our kids.

Sweet Tea said...

"It just seems to me that if we really want to know the mind of the creator, we should be looking at creation exactly as it is. "

So mote it be!