Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Sure, Tell Me Anything, I'll Believe It Department

Unbelievably, people in Kansas are still arguing over whether schools should be teaching supernatural beliefs in science class. The issue boils down to evolution vs. creation, which I could have sworn was settled by Spencer Tracy way back in the 20s. Evidently not. Our retreat from enlightenment continues.

As it happens, right now I'm reading Michael Shermer's book Borderlands of Science: Where Sense Meets Nonsense, and he hasn't even made it out of the introduction before he's laying into the creationists:
Most deniers do not even know the accepted rules of scholarship, let alone employ them fairly. [...] Creationists—whom I prefer to call evolution deniers—are especially subject to this problem, along with a lack of convergent thinking. Creationists (mainly the young-earth creationists) do not study the history of life. In fact, they have no interest in the history of life whatsoever since they already know the history as it is laid down in the book of Genesis. [...] The only reason creationists read scientific journals at all is to either find flaws in the theory of evolution or to find ways to fit scientific ideas into their religious doctrines.
One big problem in the struggle against nonsense is the way people try to use the appearance of science to support positions that have nothing to do with science. This time they're doing it by calling creationism "intelligent design" and pretending that it's a valid scientific theory, and although that clever phrase neatly and necessarily implies the existence of a creator, they insist that the "theory" doesn't extend that far. Because if you do take two seconds of thought and push "I.D." that tiny bit further, it becomes clear that the entire thing was concocted to lead to a predetermined conclusion—and that's exactly the opposite of how real actual authentic no-foolin' science is supposed to operate.

Even so, I don't think I would ever put a sticker on my car that said something like, "Don't pray in my school; I won't think in your church." And for good reason: I'm a spineless, craven coward who doesn't want to get pummeled by believers—or rather, witnessed to.


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