Monday, March 5, 2007

Creationism/Intelligent Design hoax persists, why?
Our culture: Scientifically illiterate Americans embrace psuedoscience - National Science Board

Debating whether religious concepts should be taught in science class has become a political issue in TN ... again. A TN Senator has proposed a resolution that seeks an examination of this issue by the TN Department of Education. Why do these things keep happening? Haven't we learned anything since 1925? Apparently not. This is a familiar matter of religious beliefs and agenda attempting to break into secular education - aided by a culture that embraces religion and psuedoscience.

Even the Vatican's chief astronomer says 'Intelligent Design is not science'. Enough already! Do I have a problem with people's religious beliefs? No, when it's not forced on me or others. But I do have a problem with children being taught that the world is 6000 years old.

Polls clearly show most Americans believe humans were created directly by God in the present form. Are we surprised!? This relates to two independent factors: America is a religious culture, and... Americans are also scientifically illiterate and embrace psuedoscience, according to a report by the National Science Board. A portion of this report found [here] on the government's National Science Foundation website, deals with public scientific literacy. Some quotes from the report:
"In addition, belief in pseudoscience (an indicator of scientific illiteracy) seems to be widespread among Americans....Studies also suggest that not many Americans are technologically illiterate... Researchers have concluded that fewer than one-fifth of Americans meet a minimal standard of civic scientific literacy ... it is possible to conclude that most Americans (two-thirds in 2001) do not have a firm grasp of what is meant by the scientific process. This lack of understanding may explain why a substantial portion of the population believes in various forms of pseudoscience. "
It is clear that the concepts of evolutionary biology are clearly not within the grasp of most Americans. The National Science Board says that it is important for basic scientific literacy to be better able to"participate in public discourse on science-related issues." However, most Americans believe the dinosaurs and humans coexisted, most do not know that electrons are smaller than molecules, and barely half know that it takes one year for the earth to orbit the sun. 70% of college aged adults (18-24) could not find New Jersey on a US map, 87% could not find Iraq on a world map. Take into account, these are national polls, the scores for ... say, east Tennessee - I dare say would be much lower.

So, as one conservative TN blogger suggested, East Tennessee Republican Senator Raymond Finney should trust the judgement of his constituents on the merits of teaching creationism/ID along side evolution in schools. Consider this in light of the fact that TN remains near the bottom in academic achievement nationwide. Should Sen. Finney also try and legislate his constituents' views on future initiatives of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, or NASA?

Lack of scientific literacy and religiosity are independent factors, but religion trumps all. Sen. Finney is a highly educated man. What would cause him to promote such psuedoscience? Answer: religion. Perhaps religious people see the teaching of human evolution as contradictory to their religion. As an example of their defensiveness and mindset, you can see numerous examples of religious fundamentalists falling all over themselves to discredit Sunday's Discovery Channel documentary on the finding of the Jesus Family Tomb - well before the airing of the program. Endeavoring to explore this mindset, I submitted a comment to a conservative fundamentalist blogger, Mark Rose on the subject of his post attacking the Discovery documentary:
"The very nature of religion doesn't allow for unbiased historical research and critical thinking as presented in this documentary under discussion. Those indoctrinated will never believe otherwise no matter how compelling the facts and evidence. How could they, many have based their lives on these beliefs."
His eloquent response:
"I plead guilty. I have been saturated by the teachings of Jesus Christ and will forever be 'tainted' by those beliefs. Christ represents the undeniable truth through which I endeavor to filter everything."
It is clear that you can not argue with this position, and that we all must respect his right to believe it. The problem is not the belief, the problem is 'the evangelical commission' to push Creationism/ID into these inappropriate venues: school science education, politics, and law. Such an effort in the 10 Commandments Case in Rutherford County, cost the county taxpayers $50,000 (to settled the ACLU suit). Teaching the story of the creation of the earth based on ancient scrolls, written during a time when many believed the earth was flat, does not seem to represent sound science appropriate to a school science class ... in my humble opinion, but I'll save that discussion for another post. (BTW - Jesus Tomb skeptics have been debunked).

Check out this funny cartoon (that sums up the Republican War on Science).

1 comment:

CE Petro said...

Some oldies but goodies I wrote in the past:

Darwin v DI
Descending into the Dark Ages