Teach the Controversy?

For quite some time now I’ve been meaning to do an article on why creationism should not be taught in science class, but I think A.C. Grayling covers it very well in this video. I guess the only thing I would add (although he does already touch on this point toward the end of the video) is that the only thing that should be taught in science class is, well, science, and that creationism simply does not fit the true definition of science. That is, not trying to make the facts fit a preconceived notion (as in the case of the Biblical creation story), but rather, looking at the facts objectively, and seeing what conclusions it leads us to, then testing our conclusions through objective, repeatable experiments.

Oh yes: calling creationism “intelligent design” doesn’t make it any more scientific or respectable. ;-)

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Excellent concise argument why pseudo-science has no place in our public educational institutions. The people who push religious dogma suffer mass delusions and need either to be taught the correct lessons in science, truth and logic or the ignorant need to be ostracized from the public. Religious zealots are a threat to civil society and disrupt the general welfare by constantly interrupting progress and retarding the growth of the majority.

On a lighter note. I recommend the latest Bill Maher Comedy special on HBO from a live concert he did in Raleigh, NC. Hilarious but the truth is frightening!

  
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I like to consider myself a Christian and I definitely don’t think that this alleged science should be taught in Science class. Many of the people I speak to about this actually believe the earth is only 6000 years old and actually believe that human and dinosaurs may have co-existed. Unfortunately, there is no reasoning with these people. Many of them also say they are Chritsian and God is in control, but believe in astrology (horoscopes) and will protest against abortion, but support the death penalty. After dealing with these sorts, I tend to get a headache and have to get away from them/

  
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I will never have a problem with the Judeo-Christian creation myth being taught within appropriate contexts, even in a public school. However, neither science nor history classes are that context. Spot on commentary!

  
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While I do believe the multiverse to be a creation of God (or whatever you like to call him). I also believe that the bible contains inaccuracies due to the imperfections of humans and the constant rewritings and revisions the Bible has been given by scholars and religious officials who were trying to assert their political agendas at the time. Therefore it would be irresponsible to consider everything the Bible says to be accurate since it is only written from the perspective of humans. I am not going to argue religion here Sachiko since I know better than that, but its highly improbable that we humans could understand the perspective and thought processes of a being that transcends our feeble existence. So yeah, creationism is a very bad idea for a science class. It however would fit perfectly in a theology or mythology class.

  
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Intelligent design, creationism, whatever you want to call it, is not a scientific theory. It attempts to be a philosophical theory. What the story of creation really is, is a metaphor. The Bible is full of metaphors; that’s how people taught and communicated back then. If you read literature of that era you run into this all the time but fundamentalists read nothing but the Bible and take everything literally so they come up with all these weird concoctions. The loaves and fishes were spiritual food, not real food, that’s why a few “loaves and fishes” could feed so many people who were starving for spiritual nourishment. Jesus wasn’t a magician, he taught in metaphor of which a parable is a particular type. He told fishing parables to fishermen, farming parables to farmers and livestock parables to shepherds. And here’s the key point: Biblical authors wrote metaphors about Jesus!

Here’s the Wiki definition of a scientific theory:

In the sciences, a scientific theory (also called an empirical theory) comprises a collection of concepts, including abstractions of observable phenomena expressed as quantifiable properties, together with rules (called scientific laws) that express relationships between observations of such concepts. A scientific theory is constructed to conform to available empirical data about such observations, and is put forth as a principle or body of principles for explaining a class of phenomena.

A scientific theory is a type of deductive theory, in that its content (i.e. empirical data) could be expressed within some formal system of logic whose elementary rules (i.e. scientific laws) are taken as axioms. In a deductive theory, any sentence which is a logical consequence of one or more of the axioms is also a sentence of that theory.

“Intelligent design” meets none of these criteria. It is not a scientific theory. How could you teach it in a science class? It’s not science, in fact, it’s not even theology, it’s religious dogma. And what’s more, it’s not even original. You can trace most of these stories back before the Bible to more ancient societies and religions.

These kinds of religions, full of dogma and literalism, are highly simplistic religions in an almost childish sense. They don’t require any thought, there is nothing profound in them, there is no awe, no mystical experience, it’s more like ‘group think’ and satisfies the vast majority of people who really don’t want to think about spiritual or profound matters. They want simple and easy answers to complex questions.

The Catholic Church once had a meditation conference in Bangkok where they invited the local Buddhists to attend. The clergy of each religion could not relate to or understand each other, but the monks of both religions who meditate on a regular basis understood each other perfectly. At the higher levels, religions tend to move towards each other. At the lower dogmatic levels, they have nothing in common and spend their time attacking each other.

As technology grows more sophisticated, religion seems to become less so. Rather than think and understand, people would rather be told and repeat. Religious dogma causes war while spiritual theology tends to be very peaceful. Religious dogma closes the mind, spiritual theology opens it. Religious dogma creates barriers between people, spiritual theology is all about removing those barriers.

It’s not a battle between religion and science. Science is good at the ‘how’ but not so much at the ‘why’. Scientists have just as hard a time saying “I don’t know” as religions do. The one I get a kick out of is that something like 97% of space is supposedly composed of “dark matter” but no one has been able to locate any of this stuff. Why not just say that outside of our solar system, we have absolutely no idea why our theories don’t work? Why is it so hard to admit we just don’t know? If we look back into the relatively near past, we can come up with all kinds of “science” that has since been disproved. The key is to keep an open mind and know when to say “I don’t know, but I’m working on it.” It’s the same story with theology.

The difference is that science is self-correcting over time while religious dogma is not. In fact, the sillier it is shown to be, the more adamant its adherents become in defending it.

  
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Great comment Swamp Rat! Actually, regarding “dark matter”, I have to admit that cosmology goes completely over my head, but my webmaster/photographer Lee is really into it, and he thinks dark matter, and indeed the entire big bang theory, is complete rubbish. He wants to write about his ideas somewhere – perhaps he can do a guest post on it here? He edits all of my English writing anyway.

  
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Sachiko, I think a guest post on cosmology would be fun and interesting. Tell Lee to go for it! How many universes can fit on the head of a pin? Inquiring minds want to know…

  
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Sachiko, I am slightly OCD when it comes to English grammar and spelling, and I think your English is perfectly readable and actually very well articulated. I’d actually like to see your skill on its own.

  
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I’m sorry Brad, but what is your comment referring to? As I said, Lee helps me with my English grammar and spelling – my English writing wouldn’t be anywhere near as articulate without his help!

  
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