Saturday, July 26, 2008
Is it possible to believe in both evolution and God? Of course. But let's not delude ourselves into thinking that one is a science.
There is nothing wrong with teaching creationism as literature, philosophy, or as an adjunct to history. These things are important to understand why we know what we know--the history of science oftentimes reads like a soap opera replete with test tubes, gun powder, dumb luck, unlikely coincidences, and few happy endings. The history of knowledge can be as instructive, if not more instructive, as the actual knowledge. For instance, the idea that the earth was round was first posited by the ancient Greeks, but the proof of that was only ascertained nearly two millenia later, with Magellan's trip around the world, when, against all odds, they failed to fall off of the edge. The question: why did civilization have to wait for Magellan to sail around the world? Why not earlier seafarers, like Vikings or the Polynesians? What sort of economics, political structures, technology, and belief systemsmade circumnavigating the planet possible to Magellan and not to, say, Arab traders?
Creationism has its place in education, but not in science classes. The objective of teaching science is to teach kids that "this is what we know the world is", "this" being how plants photosynthesize, how proteins are synthesized, what crystal structures are, where the Horsehead Nebula resides (in Orion, visible only during the winter in the Northern Hemisphere). The objective of teaching science is not to teach that "everything in the world is commanded by something we can't see, our instruments can't detect, our best searches can't find, but we know it's out there anyway". As I said yesterday, if you teach the first well enough, the second will fall into place.
So let's quit worrying about our kids turning into blasphemous atheists. Let's point out, instead, how feathers help birds fly, the plethora of properties the humble water molecule possesses, how geese know where north is. Because if you really want to cultivate an appreciation for life, you kinda have to understand what life is to begin with.