Friday, February 12, 2010

Darwin Day 2010

Aaaand I hope you're having a nice one.

Apropos of Don's post below, I can only reiterate the threat to science education (as well as to civics/history education, and anything else the wingnuts don't feel meshes with their ideological "white Christians did everything!" talking points) by the current SBOE. So in that spirit I direct your attention to Teach Them Science, a website dedicated to fighting the wingnut agenda.

This isn't a perfect meeting of the minds. For one thing, it's a joint project between Center for Inquiry and The Clergy Letter Project. The latter is a group of religious leaders promoting positive science education and resisting creationist ignorance. Now, that's a good thing. But I can sympathize with PZ's wariness of the group and the way they try to pretend science and religion can somehow be simpatico. Still, I can see that perhaps such a stance is a PR necessity at present. With the vast majority of the public still clinging to religion's skirts, good science education would be a hard sell if it came with the message that "Now you can dump all that stupid God bullshit!" There's a whole page on the Teach Them Science site that addresses the question of whether you can accept evolution and still believe in Sky Daddy, and I admit it kind of makes me cringe. But I have to remember that's because I've evolved beyond superstition, and most people aren't so lucky. So, you know, baby steps. Sure, a person can be scientifically literate and theistic all at once, though I still don't understand why they'd want to (lookin' at you, Ken Miller). But the point of proper scientific education first and foremost is to fill people's heads with facts — something the currently SBOE is fighting tooth and nail — and let them draw conclusions about worthwhile philosophies on their own after they have all the facts. It's the SBOE that wants to deny students that freedom of choice, and impose upon them not merely a Christian philosophy, but a specifically conservative American fundamentalist Protestant one.

So, mindful of the fact that sometimes war makes for strange bedfellows, I think movements like Teach Them Science stand to do more good than harm, and that the anti-science agenda of the far right needs to be fought by any means necessary.


  1. That post reminds me that I have to visit the Museum of Natural History soon. That will be a sort of pilgrimage. My first visit at the age of 11 did not make me an atheist, but it did destroy any remnant of creationism I had.

  2. Darwin day is also Ing day. *party favor toot*

  3. Humanism start as a religious philosophy, and it now is a secular one. I'm hoping that religious acceptance of science will lead to a gradual disengagement with religion.

  4. On the subject of allowing religious beliefs to co-exist with scientific fact, I'm all for it. I think that our goal should be to get people to accept what we know (or most certainly know) to be true, not to force them to abandon their superstitions. My only wish is that theists will cease denying scientific and historical facts because of religious dogma.

  5. @Tyler-I envy your optimism. The problem is that once people accept what we know as true, they end up rejecting old superstitions naturally. The problem is that many people refuse the truth to begin with, as it destroys their beliefs. And I think it is the case of even moderate believers. Sure, the Catholic Church and most major Christian denominations accepts now evolution as a fact. But there is a difference between what the institutions accepts and what is told to the followers. And the Church(es) would rather keep a superstitious follower who believes in something objectively false than accept a dialogue with an unbeliever who is right on the same issue. We are considered the enemy, not the fundies.

  6. Can you accept evolution and be a christian? Sure.

    What I don't understand is how you can accept evolution and be a priest, or accept christ and be a biologist. People do it, but I feel they must be misunderstanding one or both of those things. If you think evolution is directed, you don't understand evolution. If you think evolution is undirected, yet still think god chose to create mankind that way, I think you misunderstand the whole idea of intention.


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