Sunday, November 27, 2005

Science and Religion

The United States of America without a doubt dominates the world of science, especially the life sciences. How is it then that over 60% of Americans do not understand evolution? Evolution does not address how life began. I think this is the main misunderstanding. Evolution is simply changes in gene frequency in a population from one generation to the next. The central idea of biological evolution is that all life on Earth shares a common ancestor, just as you and your cousins share a common grandmother. Humans did not evolve from chimpanzees. We are cousins that evolved from a common ancester. But that is not the main concern here. The question is why do so many Americans believe the earth was created in 7 days, is 4000 years old, and everything present today was present 4000 years ago.

These same individuals likely believe that the USA is a special place, a christian place with a special divine purpose. So we are back to fighting Darwin. More monkey trials, more foolish school boards, more stupid things being said to save political careers. All this in a liberal western country that has trouble understanding the Islamic fundamentalist mind. Well maybe we should start trying to understand the fundamentalist christian mind as well.

We are going to war to make countries accept democracy and reject theocratic rule. At the same time, our own country is becoming more and more religious. So much so that after hundreds of years, science is once more being stepped on by theocrats.

Maybe we do need to teach religion in our schools. Let's require a course in comparative religion, but let's also require a science course that insures that the average student understand what science is and is not.

Go here for everything you want to know about evolution in an easily understood format.

NOTE: I hope I don't get in trouble. It seems the operators of the evolution website above are being sued. "In the lawsuit filed last month, the Caldwells contend the site is an effort "to modify the beliefs of public school science students so they will be more willing to accept evolutionary theory as true." The site is run by UC Berkeley's Museum of Paleontology and paid in part by a $400,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. Two university scientists and a foundation official were named as defendants. [Info from Yahoo News]


B-Wizz said...

I've been saying comparative religion should be taught in schools for a while - we had to take a pure evolution course in college that really made the whole debate seem silly without even mentioning "the other side." It makes sense to me that science and religion need NO reconciliation, but that that shouldn't be a challenge to anyone's religious beliefs. Science explains the mechanisms. Religion, ie philosophy should be used to discuss the possible reasons "why."

HappyGirl said...

Our country is becoming more and more religious? Are you high? Every day there are examples of religious freedoms being destroyed. Thanks to the atheistic minority in this country, prayer is no longer allowed in schools; evolution is now taught as FACT, rather than theory; and the mere mention of the word "Christmas" has people running scared. What is it about Christianity that bothers you so? I would suggest that you actually research the topic, then make your conclusions based on fact and logic, not liberal, left-wing bull crap. You may be surprised at what you find ("You will find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart." Jeremiah 29:13)

PCS said...

Evolution is taught as a fact because it is a fact. However, we have questions about the mechanisms that drive evolution. It could be that some divine being drives evolution, unfortunately I don't know how to design an experiment that addresses that possibility.
Where I live there is still religious freedom. No one is arrested for mentioning 'Christmas'. I would have no problem allowing prayer in schools as long as muslims, buddists, jews etc were given the same right. Prayer groups in public schools are legal.
I may not be a very good Christian, but neither are most other professed Christians. We are told to keep the sabbath holy, not work on Saturday, I don't know anyone who follows that commandment. We are told not to keep graven images, but we do. We are told to sell everything we own, give it to the poor and follow Jesus. Most important we are told not to judge others 1 John 3:8. I guess the hypocrisy of religion is what blinds me to the truth.

B-Wizz said...

I guess I didn't realize that atheists were a "minority," or that Christianity was the only religion practiced in this country that matters. I consider myself a "devout atheist," if there is such a thing, and I certainly have no problem with anyone's beliefs, nor consider myself in any way to be the minority. I don't think religion should be taught in schools, unless all world religions (within reason - aum shinri and a few other small "cults" could probably be left out in the interest of time). Why is it that one group of people's interpretation of things (The meaning of life?) should steer other's viewpoints, the law, or what's taught in schools? I know that's circular, as those of us who accuse atheists of being "high" would say that those of us who aren't actively searching for their brand of salvation are the ones having the most influence.

I do feel that the headlines about the use of "Christmas" lately are ridiculous. This season is celebrated for the Christmas holiday, Channukka, and possibly Kwanza'a(sp). But the decorations sold in stores are Christmas decorations. The tradition is to have Christmas trees. Anyone that gets offended over any of that takes themselves WAY too seriously.

I recall reading somewhere that a pretty mellow guy, a long time ago, came by for a stay and preached love and understanding. I don't see much love or understanding coming from the vocal members of the religious right when it comes to anything new or different. As if anger and intolerance will win anyone's affections. Maybe flys really can be caught with vinegar rather than honey.