not really a contest...,
| Main |
Kevin Drum's asks "if you cou...,
when I was about ten years old students in my fifth grade class were required to attend Church study sessions of the parents' choosing every Tuesday. My parents decided to make me walk to the far side (which was not very far) of Calloway, Minnesota, to our Catholic parish, where we recieved all manner of indoctrination as to the nature and extent of the Catholic Supreme Being's affection and undying adoration for his every creation. Somewhere in there was a fine moral case, based on Revealed Truth, for holding oneself in special regard, more or less based on a rationalization tacked onto the Revealed Truth that we are all so lowly compared to the Most High that any differences from one to the next was hardly meaningful, and in any case however lowly you might be the CSB loved you anyway. It was part of their self-esteem program.
I had that year for an instructor a gray haired man with glasses who must have been in his early 60s. We were learning about The Creation, and so reading Genesis the class read that "the LORD God formed man out of the clay of the ground". Seemed to me that this was Biblical endorsement of evolution, which got me into hot water with the instructor, who was apparently a longtime defender of the Good Book against young persons' proclivities for stories about tyrannosauruses and their associated dissappointment in learning that tyrannosauruses never had the opportunity to eat Noah. Such disaffection! He berated me for believing satanic heresies - he really used the word satanic - preached some Creationism at us, and after I exercised some more of what he alleged to be my "smart mouth" kicked me out of the class.
Anyway, the "intelligent design" folks in congress don't seem to understand much about evolution, probably because they were never properly taught it. I am surprised that the intellectuals of the movement are focusing their attack on Darwinism, when Darwinism is so far afield from most of what was in my molecular biology class and evolution as to be almost something else entirely. My old textbook has all of seven entries in the index for "natural selection" and "Darwin" isn't listed once, much of the rest of the book is like much of the rest of the above article: somebody comes up with a new idea explaining what was unexplained, leaving other things unexplained. They also, and more importantly, don't seem particularly informed about the basics of scientific methodology and when and what it can tell us about the world and when and what it can't. For example their argument is based largely on proving a negative without serious comprehension of the magnitude of the task when narrow constraints are lacking. But what I'm really curious about is why Americans are calling a metaphysical argument against the scientific method a "scientific theory" comparable to evolution. That's one hell of a propaganda victory.
An attack on the scientific method is not, by definition, a scientific theory. It is on the other hand another example of rightwing post-modernism and, as one might expect from Yet Another Post-Modernism, a continuation of the holy idiocy I described earlier. As an attack on scientific method, furthermore, it isn't even all that interesting, being, so far as I've been able to tell, either a gross misrepresentation of method (evolution is a scientific theory, their beef is that evolution isn't fact, which is exactly why it's called a theory; conversely they have a theory that isn't scientific) or a gross misunderstanding (random events resulting from experimental noise or human error are the sort of things ignored by science as unuseful and celebrated by faith as revelation). I guess it's only fair though that we should have to suffer through such indignities to elementary science education at a time when we have, it seems anyway, more batshit scientists running around selling "quantum spritituality" than ever before. It's not that the two aren't compatible - the Bible says no more about evolution than it does about heliocentricism and could just as well inspire them had anybody a mind to read outside stale traditionism - so much as that when people try to put the the two together they both become incoherent.
I miss Deism.