I don’t even know why. I sort of despair at both the material I’m reading, and myself. I’m not merely hurling myself at a brick wall. I’m loading myself into a cannon, and blasting myself toward it, even though I know full well it won’t do any good. Yet still I launch myself.
Why? Maybe it’s because I’m a stubborn, argumentative meerkat. Or I’m just a sucker for punishment. Either way, not for the first time, let’s dismantle a creationist argument.
I’ve never heard of PJ Media. All I know is someone has submitted an article to their site and that article is the one I’m discussing. Strap in folks.
I take comfort in knowing that in one thousand years, people will be laughing at today’s science. Oh, they’ll be polite and suppress the belly laugh that wants to come out whenever early 21st century science is mentioned. Things like, “they did their best with what was available to them” and “don’t be too hard on them; it’s not their fault that their perspective was so limited and their methodology so laughably inadequate” will be tossed around at future cocktail parties as a way of showing sympathy for ignorant ancestors. But make no mistake, in one thousand years, much of the science that current schoolchildren are taught will have been relegated to the historical dust heap of mostly wrong and definitely poorly interpreted. Someone should tell all of that to the current worshipers of science.
The level of hubris that’s innate in the religion of scientism is why I admittedly find self-serving comfort in current science’s future comeuppance. To be fair, not all scientists giddily sacrifice any perspective on the altar of scientific absolutism. In fact, I can’t think of any scientists that I personally know who aren’t humbled by the limitations within their field and their own fallibility. It’s the followers of science and the pop-scientists who get all worked up in the defense of their religion, especially social “scientists.”
You know, it’s entirely possible that some of today’s science will look pretty bad compared to what we’ve learned in a thousand years’ time. On the other hand, following a method that is methodical and consistent and not rooted in the docterine of any singular religious text is more likely to yield things that we can build upon. Our current understanding of science (and its evolution) has given us planes, trains, cars, advanced irrigation methods, means of building more stable housing, the internet, the ability to perform organ transplants, and so much more. All of these developments are the result of a steady progression, sometimes marked by a ‘eureka’ moment, but never to the dramatic extent that some people think.
None of these developments and the science behind them will be binned, it will be built upon, so we can develop better versions of existing technology and new technologies and processes that will be of greater benefit to us. It’s therefore more likely that kids in a thousand years will still be learning of the same basic principles, and applying them to whatever has come up in that time frame.
Now, to refer to science as a ‘religion’ is an intriguing notion. It is commonly put forward by those who don’t actually understand what science is or what it’s objective is. I’m sure there are some who might view science as a religion of sorts – but make no mistake, this article is already starting to conflate science with atheism, which is misleading.
Last week, NPR treated us to a condescending and science-worshipping article written by Barbara King, an anthropology professor whose latest book is titled How Animals Grieve. If King had stopped at the usual scientism slurping, that would have been bad enough. King, however, took the extra step and demanded an obeisance from parents and the complete sacrifice of their children to the god of contemporary science.
Taking aim at young earth creationism as manifest by Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis, Barbara King scolds reporters who give any positive attention to, in King’s words, “anti-science creationist discourse.” She goes on to explain how society has failed our children by allowing them to be exposed to anything but evolution. After a series of proposed remedies, King concludes her condescending rant by declaring that, “Our children must be taught about evolutionary science in order to be science-literate [emphasis added].”
I would invite readers to look at Barbara King’s article for themselves. She is not wrong in questioning the positive spin on what is harmful pseudo-science. Creationism undermines efforts to actually learn about the world around us, and ironically creationists do indeed worship something – that the Bible is literally true, and cannot be questioned, and therefore any evidence needs to be squeezed to fit the premise.
The thing is, almost every single person that I know who believes that God created everything (however the specifics are defined) believes that children should also be taught about evolution in order to be science-literate. The difference between many creationists and many evolutionists is that creationists do not worship science. And that difference means that many creationists are not threatened by competing views, and they recognize that science is limited and prone to being proven wrong. They believe that being science-literate includes also being taught competing ideas and theories as well as learning the blind spots and weaknesses of the currently favored scientific paradigms.
Emphasis mine. Once again the author conflates science with belief. ‘Evolutionists’ (in itself a misleading term, since it implies faith-driven ideas rather than evidence-driven conclusions) can also believe in God but not in the ultra-strict interpretation of religious texts that creationists believe. Unravel any element of creationism and its followers will simply ignore it.
Barbara King and her ilk, however, are not actually concerned with guarding the scientific purity of our children. Their real objective is to require that their worldview be privileged over competing worldviews.
The irony here is that creationists want to undermine science with pseudo-science and thus ensure the supremcy of their specific religious beliefs. Barbara King and her colleagues are fighting against this idea.
Since scientism is a faith-based religion, and a faith-based religion that has the entire trajectory of science history undermining it, scientism’s adherents have to forcefully clear the worldview deck in order for their religion to flourish. In the marketplace of ideas, the weaker ideas are going to need some handicapping, so to speak.
The thing is, next to no one is attempting to keep children from learning about evolution. Creationists that have any sway over policy want children to learn options. There is a concerted effort, however, to frame worldview discussions in a manner that eliminates any worldview that doesn’t bow down to the current, most-privileged group-think. In other words, Barbara King isn’t really concerned that your children be science-literate; she wants to make sure that your children aren’t exposed to ideas that threaten her larger worldview. She wants control.
Once again there is a great deal of irony here (not to mention I have read more than one creationist statement that would wish the teaching of evolution condemned as ‘evil’). Creationists would love to force evolution out of the equation in favour of their ideas. The problem is, there is a great deal of evidence gathered carefully and over the span of many fields that contradicts them. When faced with this, they seek to undermine science instead.
Controlling the education of children is one of the front lines in the battle of worldviews. Barbara King realizes that for her religion of scientism to flourish, children’s education has to be devoid of competing ideas.
You don’t need to believe that the earth is only six thousand years old and that dinosaurs walked the earth at the same time as humans in order to see the danger in surrendering the control over education to Barbara King. Regardless of what you think about Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis, it’s important to guard the freedom of ideas for all. And it’s important for our children to be exposed to a variety of worldviews, because that’s true education.
I would actually agree that freedom of ideas is important, to a point. There is however, such as a thing as taking this notion too far. Allowing creationist pseudo-science into actual scientific education will only undermine education.