Thursday, December 22, 2005

Dragons and Monkeys and Christians, Oh My!


I guess ever since I had a biology teacher in high school inform me that my views on evolution would result in an eternity spent in hell, the whole evolution-creationism-"intelligent design" thing has had a special place in my heart.

As stated in the hyperlink above:
In a strongly-worded court ruling on Tuesday, U.S. District Judge John Jones said teaching intelligent design violated a constitutional ban on teaching religion in public schools.


The article also mentions:

Intelligent design holds that some aspects of nature are so complex that they must have been the work of an unnamed creator rather than the result of random natural selection, as argued by Charles Darwin in his 1859 theory of evolution.

"Random natural selection" seems odd to me. Maybe they're using a different version than I am, but I always understood natural selection to be anything but random, because survival is anything but random. I don't see a species surviving based on luck, except for maybe Lemurs, who by all rights should be extinct as fuck. Natural selection is merely a result of creatures that are better suited in a specific environment to pass on their genes and make more better-suited offspring. If other [similar] species can't compete, they slowly die off. I dunno, I could be totally off base here, but I don't think I am. Note: I bring up Lemurs because they only reason they're still alive is 'cuz they live on Madagascar, and were cut off from other "more advanced" prosimians, simians, etc. If Madagascar were connected to the main continent, they wouldn't have been able to compete and would have died off a loooooong time ago. I like lemurs tho. They're ok with me.

I've found that the biggest opponents of "the theory of evolution" have no idea what it's about. First of all, they get caught up in semantics and say stupid shit like, "....well it's just a theory." "Scientific theory" and sitting on your couch spouting off theories about why your husband beats you are two entirely different things. In order for a scientific theory to be accepted, it must stand up to a whole bunch of other scientist trying to debunk it. Carl Sagan does an incredible job pointing out in this book that religion is the polar opposite, and people who disagree with popular religious "theories" have often times been killed. And are still being killed... His books are filled with instances throughout history where the Church has set science back centuries, and I feel that assuming that the same couldn't happen today is naive.

In any case, most bible toting mouth breathers see "Evolution" as a sort of religion, and ask stuff like, "do you believe in evolution?" because they can't see things in any other terms than "us" and "them". Believing in evolution is about the same as believing in your telephone's capacity to function. "Do you believe in cellular technology?" which my favorite answer is, "I believe it works.".......double durp.

People in a losing argument often cling to semantics in an attempt to convolute, confuse or "double-speak," and from what I've seen, the whole intelligent design debate is no different. As science advances and conventional religious wisdom is shown to be false (i,e. the age of the Earth, how Earth processes work, etc), conventional religious wisdom simply becomes more vague and therefore harder to disprove, which to many religious people is the same as them "proving" it, because they "just know." Again, Carl Sagan puts this down on paper better than I ever could in his The Dragon in My Garage story.

Anyway, this was on my mind this morning, so I thought I'd rant about it. I eagerly await your (all 4 or 5 of you) comments.

No lemurs were harmed in the writing of this post.


Anonymous Cory said...

I'm glad you mentioned Demon-Haunted World, because it rules.

It does concern me that we actually pass laws to keep crap like this happening. Any kind of law is a decrease in personal liberties, and an increase in laws makes us less (officially) responsible for our own actions.

When religious crap is pushed on our schools and is taken so seriously it has to be outlawed suggests two things to me:
1)Schools must not be working, as they produce idiots who try to teach creationism.
2)Schools can act as a conduit of stupidity (and I'm not convinced they don't already), because if something like this were eventually put into the system (as recognizing it so seriously suggests it could have) we'll have even more idiots running around this country.

Maybe the most obvious thing is that this proves standardized education can be a dangerous thing.

12:51 PM  
Blogger Hoss said...

I went to Catholic schools until I graduated. This is a subject that's kind of tricky for me to get into because I can get with both.You don't always have to say religion like it's a dirty word, or that it makes somebody a bible-thumper that's ready to turn the country into a theocracy.

That being said, if you want religion for your kids, do what I do...send them to private school. That's the fucking responsible thing to do anyway. Have you heard some of the other crap government schools are throwing at kids?

A judge just ruled that schools can ask all kinds of personal/invasive questions to your kids and they have to participate....I guess they'd be better off if they were a terrorist because then you couldn't ask them shit or you'd have libs and lawyers on your ass.
Rampant liberal ideology slanting about everything your kids are being taught by a bunch of union employees. And you do know that as a profession that teachers have the lowest GPA's and SAT scores don't you. I could go on and on, if I haven't already.

Didn't mean to get you completely off-topic. If there are ny public school teachers offended by what I said, tough shit.

1:12 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

Both of those comments made me laugh, cuz they're both true.... and the writing style is always good.

That being said, if you want religion for your kids, do what I do...send them to private school. That's the fucking responsible thing to do anyway.

Classic. =)

I guess I don't have a clear opinion on either issue, but one thing I do know is that I didn't apprecite being told that I was going to hell by a teacher, especially when I was referring to something that we learned in her class.

I suppose I can just be happy that I'm not the person who has to make the decisions 'bout education. Part of me thinks that standardized testing is a great idea because there has to be some standard, but part of me rejects it 'cuz I got a 900 on the SAT and have a tendency to fuck up on standardized tests. I turned out OK, did really well in college, and I know a lot of people with stellar scores who can barely feed themselves.

Don't get me wrong -- I'm not anti-Christian. I'm anti-anti-moderation if anything. I wouldn't want my future kids to learn that, since we can't explain things, we'll just say God did it until we find another alternative.. Teach my kids ABCs and 123s. Leave the other stuff to me.

As far as standardized education being dangerous, I don't know if I can jive with that, because everyone I know is a product of it. Most people in the US haven't seen what it's like when it's taken to the extreme like it is here in Japan (or North Korea or whatever). Yikes. And what's your alternative, homeschool? Id never do that.

1:34 PM  
Anonymous Cory said...

Dangerous as in if the education status quo information is insane, then you teach state-required crazy shit to students, then those students grow up to be insane. Think of what some of the schools in other countries teach thier students, like pre-invasion Iraq.

And, for the record, I said can be, not is.

And I sure as hell would homeschool any kids I have. I'm pretty goddamn smart, and could pass along knowledge in the physical sciences a lot faster than a high school wrestling coach could. Can you imagine how bad-ass your kids would be if they not only knew everything you know, but knew it by the age of 12? Public school holds the winners back, what with their standardized testing and their 'everyone-is-a-unique-snowflake-but-has- equal-potential' crap.

Or community home-schoolin', like a bunch of families get together and teach their collective kids the skills they want them to know, like a tribe or something. So instead of memorizing the capitals they can learn advanced calculus, or to hunt and skin a deer. Both those kids could be in the same family too, whatever they show aptitude at can be reinforced because the people teaching them actually give a fuck about what they become (if I don't know how to skin a deer, I can let a buddy who does know hunting to teach the kid for the week). And teaching the ABCs and 123s is frigging easy, because little kids want to learn that stuff, from their parents, and we're surrounded by words and numbers 24/7.

Sure, that way you can get some religious psycho nutballs, but you can also get some real winners (personally, I think that homeschooling is purposefully presented as a psycho-religious-only option by the TV-folk, so intelligent parents will still send their kids to public school and let them become stupid like the rest of us).

Diversification of education coupled with economic natural selection is the way to go in my opinion.

I guess all I'm saying is that there is no one right way to teach our kids stuff, but we pretend like public school is the only option that works.

2:53 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

I guess all I'm saying is that there is no one right way to teach our kids stuff, but we pretend like public school is the only option that works.

I guess that's one way of saying it. =)

4:29 PM  
Blogger Hoss said...

Don't forget the lowest-common-denominator rule that pervades public schools. I understand that you can't let some kids suffer because their skills are lagging (probably because they have shitty "parent(s)"), but you're ignoring the needs of the kids that are ready to move on in the material. Cory kind of touched on this.

I'm sure we're all on the same page as to what happens when kids start getting bored in school.

10:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is a bit random...

did you ever send something in to details magazine?


12:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey paul

read this while i was in kabul:

you guys might enjoy, based on current discussion


2:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

right, so that didn't work too well.

John Taylor Gatto's "Dumbing Us Down" was the book I was recommending

2:58 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

I talked to Chris about that -- shoot me an email sometime.

7:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what is your email address?


10:05 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

send to peverson(at)

10:35 AM  
Blogger E said...

Awesome post. Awesome blog. You are too funny!

Giddy up.

12:56 PM  

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