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Reality Check: Stating the Obvious on Creationism, Modern Science, and American Society

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Whenever I hear someone making a semi-legitimate attempt to defend the idea of creationism as an answer to the great question of humanity’s existence, I cannot help but laugh, then cringe inwardly.  That being said, I was most intrigued when I ran across an article published in The Huffington Post on Friday evening. Titled “Backwards America,” it details the dangers which might present themselves in American society should Darwin’s theory of evolution be cast to the sidelines. While I found the tone of its author, a Cornell University student by the name of Cody Gault, to be more than a tad preachy and, quite frankly, needlessly combative, he does raise a number of excellent points about the dangers of embracing mysticism masquerading as science over logic and reason.

Considering that a mere twenty-eight percent of American high school biology teachers present evolution as scientific fact, as well as the harsh reality that more than a handful of our country’s prominent elected officials have publicly rejected the notion of it outright, it is glaringly obvious that his fears are well founded. In order to answer the question of why this lunacy is taking place, one must first identify its chief aggressors, who are — surprise, surprise — the sworn enemies of intellectual thought in the fundamentalist Christian-dominated religious right. As Gault says in his piece, if critical thinking and healthy skepticism are allowed, then millions of otherwise impressionable young fundies may decide that the answers to their questions about life could be found in modern science as opposed to zany interpretations of several-thousand-year-old texts.

Regardless of our respective religious beliefs, or lack thereof, it is imperative that we as a nation come together in the realization that the nonsensical should not be elevated to the status of the plausible for the sake of allowing an increasingly small sect of zealots to live in their collective land of make believe, all the while forcing their ludicrous, baseless belief system on the rational majority. Should one choose to deny what is real for the sake of adopting utter nonsense which would not even suit the most outlandish of fairy tales, then that is his or her right. However, when he or she forces said rubbish on others, then that becomes a severe problem. By acknowledging creationism in a manner which equates it in any way, shape, or form with evolution is only exacerbating this problem, and dealing a terrible blow to the fabric of American society in the process.

I understand that some might experience a rather difficult ordeal in handling the truth, but, as Crowded House aptly put it way back when, “don’t dream, it’s over“. Seriously, folks. The folklore simply had to come to an end at some point.

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About Joseph F. Cotto

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    I don’t concern myself with what Christians (fundie or otherwise) say about Creation – they barely understand the Hebrew Bible anyway. But I do get concerned when some rabbis reject the words of Maimonides on the matter and assert that the universe was created in 6 days – and that is all. This occasionally happens when some of the “holier than thou” rabbis open their mouths.

    Essentially, Maimonides stated two things. Firstly, he asserted that Creation was a hidden process, and that what one reads in the Torah is true – but it is presented in such a way that children and simple minded people can draw moral lessons from it. The second basic assertion he made was that when the Torah and observation of reality through natural sciences conflict – one or the other is being misunderstood.

    The science doesn’t back up the assertion of a six-day Creation, and the science has to hold up to make any assertion concerning the world. What does hold up is the view espoused by Dr. Gerald Schroeder – that looking backwards, through the eyes of Man, the Big Bang occurred about 15 billion years ago, give or take a few million here and there – but that looking forwards, through the Eye of the Creator, the creation of the universe took six days. In other words, both assertions are true, but it depends on Whose intelligence you are reporting events from. The Torah reports events through the Eye of the Creator – His point of view – looking forward. WE see them through the evidence of the geologic record. – looking backward.

    As for Darwin, he didn’t get it totally right. Evolution took place in spurts, with rather large developments occurring relatively quickly, while other changes – the ones documented by Darwin – took place a lot more slowly. THAT is what the geologic record indicates.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Whereas rational people don’t concern themselves with any mystical mumbling and outright gibberish such as we find in the comment above, which carries zero information.

  • Doug Hunter

    #2

    Not all religious types are foolish, I’ve always had a questioning mind. I remember riding in the back of Grandma’s car at 12 attempting to contemplate backwards eternity asking what exactly god was doing before creating the universe… the answer, quite cleverly… perhaps he created time as well. This wasn’t a particularly educated woman just well thought out. Fast forward a few years and we’re going over the big bang, I’m contemplating backwards eternity asking exactly what the non-entity soon to be known as the universe was doing an hour before the big bang… the answer… perhaps it created time as well. So long as religion stays in the realm of the unknown and out of science I haven’t a problem.

    The brain creates a pretty good illusion of being something more than a chemical reaction at times, it’s seems like there’s more that constitutes “me” than a series of ionic bonds… that leaves the door open for the supernatural… at elast until it’s explained and recreated in the lab and becomes natural.

  • Baronius

    If our school system was producing students who understood everything but evolution, and this was leading to the US falling behind in biotechnology, then I’d be concerned about the subject of this article. But the opposite is true. A large percentage of children are receiving a poor education – or are not learning – across the board. Those that do go on to the sciences are leading the world in biology and related fields. This issue seems to be more a case of misplaced concern, or grandstanding.

  • Cannonshop

    What do you expect, when a field that should be a PROFESSION is run like unskilled LABOR, and contains the lowest scoring 20% of College students over-all?

    As for science-teach the METHOD and the philosophical/religious bullshit takes care of itself. The whole “Evolution/Creation” debate belongs in a PHILOSOPHY course-you can’t actually run the experiment, therefore it’s all speculation based on observer’s bias-the whole debate belongs in elective courses, not in core curriculum. Teach the kids HOW to do science, how to apply the scientific method, and let them decide for themselves about ‘god’.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    I agree with you generally, Cannonshop. The religion/science debates belong in a philosophy class. But the evolutionary concepts should be taught honestly and correctly in science classes – I repeat: As for Darwin, he didn’t get it totally right. Evolution took place in spurts, with rather large developments occurring relatively quickly, while other changes – the ones documented by Darwin – took place a lot more slowly. THAT is what the geologic record indicates.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    Cannon,

    You’re laboring under gross misapprehension if you think, encouraged as you may be by Ruvy’s inscrutable mind, that the so-called “scientific method” is the end all and be all.

    Haven’t you ever heard of humanities, for chrissake? You had better rethink your proposition or I’ll have no alternative but to ignore anything you’ll post from now on.

    And don’t let Ruvy fool you. He’s going to play both ends against the middle as long as it’s to his advantage. I would have thought, the clever chap you are, you should have figured it out by now.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    Actually, I have to retract what I said. Ruvy is right. In essence, the evolution vs. intelligent design debate is a philosophical question. A knee-jerk reaction against Ruvy, I’m afraid. It’s Pavlov that made me do it.

    The remainder of the comment stands.

  • Clavos

    It was Cannonshop’s point, Roger, in his comment #5:

    The whole “Evolution/Creation” debate belongs in a PHILOSOPHY course

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    Right, I realized that.

  • John Lake

    To start with the last first, I find the crowded house recording among my favorites. At one time I thought it might have come from Berlin, but in fact the group is Australian. There seems to be some relevance therein to the school of anarchy. That I believe is within roger nowosielski’s ballpark.

    As to Creationism, I believe as I’m sure many do that the biblical explanations are art, not science. The creation of the world, the separation of light from dark, the genesis of the animals, is all beautiful; what one would expect from the ancient scriptures. To insist on a literal interpretation is unworthy of the work.

    But I am concerned about the related idea of home schooling, which is most common among the fundamentalists and the Creationists. Living in the city, it is immediately obvious that the students who never meet at lockers, never attend a prom, or a homecoming, never hear a trained educator speak, are at a very serious disadvantage, not only in areas of study, also in social interaction. In many cases, they have no hope for a satisfactory life in the real world. They are doomed to misery, exept maybe in the religious communities of remote areas; even then they don’t have much stimulation. There may be some who actually study basic school subjects for hours daily, but in my experience, the home schooled are more often experts on television, and the wonders to be found in the home.

    Here I have made a case for government interference, or intervention. That might be a good thing. Professional educators should prepare texts and curriculums, and present them to students. Smaller government, extended rights in this area only lead to pain, suffering, and deprivation.

  • Cannonshop

    #11 Well, John, the counter-argument is, do you have data to back up your Hypothesis and support your conclusion?

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    As for Darwin, he didn’t get it totally right. Evolution took place in spurts

    That’s not under dispute, Ruvy, and it is – or should be – taught as part of any good science curriculum.

    Just as Christopher Columbus revolutionized the world with his ‘discovery’ of America, but did not explore more than a tiny fraction of its land area, so Darwin is the beginning, not the end, of evolutionary theory.

  • Cannonshop

    #7 Yes, Roger, I Have wasted time in Humanities classes, as well as studying Humanities courses of value (such as History.)

    They’re not science. They’re Humanities, a different kettle of fish entirely, and well outside the debate. Evolution/Creation/”Intelligent” design/vishnu/insert creation myth here is a specific area which belongs in philosophy.

    We do not, after all, have several million years to run an evolution-to-intelligence experiment, nor a spare planet where we might run it, and since we can’t even build a working computer model of the climate without “Divine Intervention” (from the programmers) yet, the topic IS outside of the core curricula of any science programme below College Electives level.

    This isn’t to say it does not deserve to be examined scientifically, Darwin may have errors, but his basic hypothesis is sound. The problem comes when you teach-by-rote any ‘Fact’ you can neither prove, nor disprove (i.e. any assertion you can’t test) particularly as “Revealed Wisdom” argued from “Authority’s Sake”.

    This is true whether said authority is an ordained preacher, or a tenured professor.

  • Baronius

    John – According to this CBS News article, homeschooled children do better in college than their counterparts. I personally worry about the lack of social interaction, but many homeschoolers socialize together, and are involved in sports and academic groups.

  • Clavos

    But I am concerned about the related idea of home schooling, which is most common among the fundamentalists and the Creationists. Living in the city, it is immediately obvious that the students who never meet at lockers, never attend a prom, or a homecoming, never hear a trained educator speak, are at a very serious disadvantage, not only in areas of study, also in social interaction. In many cases, they have no hope for a satisfactory life in the real world. They are doomed to misery, exept maybe in the religious communities of remote areas; even then they don’t have much stimulation. There may be some who actually study basic school subjects for hours daily, but in my experience, the home schooled are more often experts on television, and the wonders to be found in the home.

    That is almost entirely untrue, John.

    While it was the case at one time that many, if not most, home schoolers did so for religious reasons, for a number of years now parents who are concerned by the poor quality of the government schools in their areas have turned to home schooling — to the point that they have changed the face of it radically.

    Many home schooling parents these days are using curricula and testing services purchased from sources such as the Calvert School in Baltimore (long used by overseas-based diplomatic families) and other, newer, professionally operated schools catering to that market.

    In addition, home schooling parents now form associations and even operate small schools right in their neighborhoods, exchanging expertise, such that a parent who is proficient in say, math, agrees to teach it to the children of several families in exchange for parents proficient in history or grammar or whatever taking on those subjects for the same group.

    Home schooling associations now also provide athletic participation for the kids, and even inter-association rivalries; they operate summer camps, go on field trips — in short, virtually everything obtainable in a government school (and more — the quality of the education, because it’s the raison d’etre for home schooling for these families, is usually very superior to the education provided by the government schools in their areas), can be found in contemporary home schooling.

    Personal experience: I am dating a woman who has home schooled all of her kids. She is a working nurse with a graduate degree, is herself very bright and has succeeded impressively with her kids. The oldest is in college now, on a full academic scholarship, and her youngest, at age 12, is one of the brightest, most well-rounded kids of any age I’ve ever known. He possesses a truly remarkable vocabulary, and has a bright, inquisitive mind, with an outgoing personality. He is at ease not only with other kids, but with adults as well.

    In short, modern home schooling, precisely because it is used as an alternative to inferior government schooling, is a very positive experience which, unlike so many government schools, graduates well-rounded and well educated kids.

    Another thing, John. Home schoolers in virtually every state are subject to very rigorous supervision by state governments. who assure that the kids are not shortchanged by their parents’ choice of schooling method.

    But don’t take my word for all of this, see for yourself — check out the website of the American Home School Association, and note the topics of the articles and papers presented therein.

  • STM

    Doc: “As for Darwin, he didn’t get it totally right. Evolution took place in spurts”.

    Lots of things came in spurts.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Whereas rational people don’t concern themselves with any mystical mumbling and outright gibberish such as we find in the comment above, which carries zero information.

    So much for Chris’alleged “rationaliy”. He concerned himself with my “outright gibberish”….

    [As for Darwin, he didn’t get it totally right. Evolution took place in spurts]

    That’s not under dispute, Ruvy, and it is – or should be – taught as part of any good science curriculum.

    You haven’t read the nonsense I have DD, that purports to pass a evolutionary theory per Darwin. Comments that fail to realize that evolution does occur in spurts.

    But I am concerned about the related idea of home schooling, which is most common among the fundamentalists and the Creationists….

    John, I know several families who have home-schooled their kids. Generally, the home-schooled kids far outshine the institutional drudges who are turned out by so-called “educational system” these days. The stats cited by others only confirm what I have seen with my own eyes. I only wish I could have home schooled our kids when we lived in the States.

  • Baronius

    Homeschooling is also popular among hippie-types.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    You haven’t read the nonsense I have DD, that purports to pass a evolutionary theory per Darwin. Comments that fail to realize that evolution does occur in spurts.

    Believe me, Ruvy, I’ve read plenty of nonsense on the subject of evolution…