Thursday, May 05, 2005

Weird Science

Caution: this entry deals with inflammatory material…consider yourself warned.

My interests run the gambit, as noted in this blog’s subtitle. This particular post will be a muddy mixture of each category. It may be offensive, absurd, funny or some odd arrangement of the three, depending upon your worldview. Regardless, there’s no need to shoot the messenger.

In Georgia’s public schools, as in a few other states, the Evolution v. Creationism debate is again being argued in court.

First, Georgia's education chief tried to take the word "evolution" out of the state's science curriculum. A suburban Atlanta county now is in federal court over textbook stickers that call evolution "a theory, not a fact."

Yes, we’re slow here in the south. I’m not criticizing what people believe about our origins, just the way in which they are inserting their view into the public sphere. Contrary to popular thought, Darwinian Evolution is not a “religion”, so it can in fact be taught as science. Conversely, Creationism can’t be divorced from the Judea-Christian construct. Such is therefore precluded by the First Amendment.

I’m not making an assessment of the merits of each philosophy, because I personally don’t have enough information. But from the perspective of rank-and-file Creationists, this is really about the existence of God. The same, in reverse, can probably be said of Evolutionists…generally speaking. Aside from the perceived subjectivity of mystical concepts in general, Creationists in particular lack the hard scientific data that one ought to expect to find in a grade school text book. As it happens, I’ve recently demonstrated the difficulty of defending theism.

Another aspect that baffles me about this issue is that Creationists seem to be oblivious to the public relations nightmare they’re “creating”. If the intent of Evangelicals is to evangelize, this isn’t exactly the path to popular acceptance. There is of course the urge to stand on principle, which is laudable. It’s just that, in the 21st Century, insisting that the Earth is flat (so to speak) is not likely to win friends and influence sinners.

In the final analysis, Creationists are obliged to train their children at home or in their church; the scope of their authority does not extend to the neighbor's children. Suppressing information that is “morally offensive” may be a time honored tradition (burning books, breaking albums, suing Larry Flint, etc) but it only serves to tarnish the very beliefs they espouse. In fact, such backward thinking all but asks for ridicule, such as this hilarious and irreverent comic strip. My suggestion to sincere, well intentioned Creationists is that they ought to be content with their beliefs and engage Evolutionists with civil discourse, and not use the force of Government to prevent secular folks from exploring all areas of science.

Update: To further “stir the puddin’”…here are two of the leading proponents of “Intelligent Design”.

1. Intelligent Design the Future
2. Uncommon Descent

From Uncommon Descent:
George Gale of the University of Missouri-Kansas City asserts that intelligent design has no long-term future: “[ID theorists] are very good at raising questions in areas of ignorance: ‘You can’t explain this, therefore its intelligent design.’ You can’t just put God into our gaps in knowledge.” What I find remarkable about this standing refrain by evolutionists is the presumption that their theory deserves the benefit of the doubt. The implicit image we are expected to buy is of a vast countryside entirely mapped out by Darwinian Theory and only a few pockets of resistance yet to be explored. But the opposite is true. If, for instance, the vast countryside is complex molecular machines (which are required for life to exist at all), then this countryside is completely unexplained by Darwinian and materialistic evolutionary theories …
Here’s the rub…both sides condemn the other for arguing with irrational presuppositions. I think they’re both correct in that criticism. However, the ID folks are guiltier of presumption, in terms of available evidence (or the lack thereof). The complexity of nature is not sufficient to prove theistic design. It’s quite a leap to go from general design to a specific designer; more data is required for proof. The sad thing is that otherwise bright people are substituting ideology for logic and doctrine for reason.