I am shocked. Sickened and shocked. If you have a connection to the internet, or a TV, listen to the report on tonights “The News Hour with Jim Lehrer” (“http://www.pbs.org/newshour/science/index.html”:http://www.pbs.org/newshour/science/index.html) . This report by the News Hour’s science team has detailed interviews with students in rural America, proponents of Christian creationism and its pseudoscientific spinoff, intelligent design, and real scientists. I’ll put a link to the archived audio when it appears later.
I was first turned **green** by the audio clips of students. Kids who really believe that it’s easier to think humans were made from dust; easier to believe that we appeared fully formed 10,000 years ago; that the concept that the universe was created in a Big Bang is hard to swallow, but some unknowable all knowing prime-mover is more believable.
I guess what struck me most is that they kept using the work “believe” or “belief”. And that’s exactly what their misguided standpoint is: a pure belief, contradicting established facts about the origin and nature of this universe and our own species. The truth is that they are confusing belief with rigorous scientific investigation. For instance, I doubt that Hopi tribe native Americans believe that Man was created 10,000 years ago; I doubt that the ancient Chinese saw Adam and Eve as the first people, made from dust (or a rib); I doubt that the native inhabitants of Africa thought that humans inhabited a garden and were kicked out for listening to a snake. In fact, that’s just it: beliefs are different for all people at all times.
However, fact and truth are universal. Science provides a framework for eeking the truth out of the universe. It’s a fact that no matter where you come from or who you are, when empowered with the scientific method you can search for evidence of the creation of humans only 10,000 years ago in their present state; you can test the hypothesis that we were the first inhabitants of Earth (or nearly so, by a few days); you can test whether or not the universe is steady or expanding, whether it is consistent with creation 10,000 years ago or with a big bang that happened 13.7 billion years ago. People from all cultures and climates, all beliefs and faiths, can apply their brains to the universe and come up with the same answers as scientists in the 1700s, or 1800s, or 1900s.
That’s the point, I guess. Belief is not universal. Belief changes with the experience of a person, the character of their upbringing, their exposure to systems of faith. Fact and truth are universal.
The truth and fact of evolution is not in dispute, at least not by the largest majority of learned people who take the time to study the world and not just talk about it. The processes that select some traits in an environment, and suppress others, are well established from the smallest cells to the largest predators. The development of our own solar system is a result of a kind of natural evolution, thanks to the protective existence of Jupiter. It shielded the inner regions of the solar system from rogue planets and asteroids and comets, thus facilitating the formation of Earth, Mars, and Venus. Thank goodness for that. If Jupiter hadn’t protected this region of space, we wouldn’t have been able to evolve here, rise up and express creative thought, and then been able to concoct crazy explanations about how we believe the universe arose.
Damn you and bless you, Jupiter.
One last thought. In the course of this “News Hour” report, they interview a right honorable gentleman who was launching a creation science museum. He said that the problem with science is that it can’t talk about the past, since we weren’t witnesses to the past (the big bang, dinosaurs, etc.). Therefore, science should have nothing to say about the past because anything it uses to do so is based on beliefs about initial conditions. That would then imply that he thinks the Bible is an accurate record of the history of humans, and establishes the initial conditions. But isn’t that predicated on the much shakier belief that (a) nobody tampered with the record (i.e. though translations from one language to another) and that (b) it came straight from the mouth of God to the page of the book?
Seems to me given how unreliable people are in general, one is resting on pretty bad earth assuming nobody had an agenda with the Bible. I think it’s much easier to believe that Carbon-14 decays predicably at any epoch of time, or that the blackbody radiation of the universe can be used to estimate the age of the universe, just as the blackbody radiation from a hot oven can give you an accurate measure of when the heating element was turned off.
Here is the link to the “News Hour program on the debate about evolution”:http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/education/jan-june05/creation_3-28.html