You don’t BELIEVE in science, it just IS. Education fail.


Belief in creation, based on political party s...

Image via Wikipedia

I was watching Bill Maher’s show on Friday and the round table discussion ended up on the topic of evolution. Why? because the GOP representative from Georgia – Jack Kingston – said he didn’t believe in it. Naturally the Congressman is getting all the attention for that statement as an elected official, but kind of buried in that was that right at the end of the discussion comedian DL Hugley ALSO said he didn’t believe in it. Both Kingston & Hughley referenced their “belief in God” as a reason why they did not believe in evolution.

All I could think was “Since when did we have to BELIEVE in science?” Seriously – think back to your own childhoods no matter your religious or political background – when did you learn about evolution? Was it in a philosophy class? Or a religious history class? Or was it in SCIENCE?

Were you taught about the Theory of Relativity? How about the Theory of Gravity? Right along side the Theory of Evolution right? Do you have to BELIEVE in the first two? Does your religious belief preclude you from BELIEVING in them?  The irony of course, is that you DO need to BELIEVE in religion. And that belief in something not scientifically proven somehow overrides facts which ARE scientifically proven. That image I attached is from a survey done in 2006. At what point did this all happen?

I’m 46 so I was in school in the 70s and early 80s. I went to private school all the way through. A Montessori school run by devout Catholics. My parents raised me in a religion that encompasses facets of just about every religious theory (though not specifically Christian). I went to an Episcopalian high school where a full year of religious study was required (Old Testament one semester, New Testament the other). At NO POINT in my education was evolution questioned. NONE. The whole idea that this was not settled science did not cross my mind until perhaps the last 10-15 years? Does that seem right to everyone else? Was it the 90s Christian Right movement that brought all this out again?

What frightens me though is seeing men like Kingston and Hughley – men my age who you know damn well were not RAISED to doubt evolution. Men who were not EDUCATED to question it. The scary thing is that their religious belief and teachings as adults has caused them to change their stance. To ignore science. Now, some could argue that Kingston does that for political gain. Ever the political cynic who has watched John McCain twist himself into so many positions on issues that pretzels look straight, I can totally buy into that. But DL Hughley? It’s not political with him – he was taking obviously liberal Democratic stances on the panel on all other topics. This was purely based on his religion.

The thing is, just about anyone you talk to of any political stripe will acknowledge that the US education system has fallen behind. PARTICULARLY in math and science. And yet there is a growing movement in conservative circles to “update” our textbooks to present evolution as an “optional” theory to be “believed” or not. Not to mention the already approved curriculum changes in Texas to “update” our history books removing references to people and events that don’t support their predominately white Christian conservative beliefs. It’s just disgraceful!

Seriously – religion is wonderful for those who need it. But it is also personal. It should not preclude science and it should NOT influence public school education. Shutting a child’s mind to science and history will just keep pushing us further and further behind. Is there any other developed country that rejects new discoveries and runs away from science as much as the we do?

Advertisements

7 comments

  1. There’s likely a lot of differences between the way you were educated and the way in which the two guests on the show were educated, even though you’re around the same age. Having grown up in a conservative part of Texas (Yes, I know Texas tends to be generally conservative. Where I grew up, it’s more conservative than much of the state.) trust me there was plenty of questioning about evolution. The people who led the charge against having evolution in the Texas science books were from my hometown. My biology teacher in high school skipped that chapter completely, stating that he could not teach it in the way that he believed was proper so we should read it on our own if we wished.

    My guess is that the representative from Georgia experienced similar questioning during his education as well as during his religious training. Many black churches have more conservative theology as well, which is my take on why Mr. Huhley described evolution as being contradictory to his belief in God. Despite growing up in a conservative area, I didn’t go to a conservative church. My experience in the Episcopal church mirrors yours. No one there seemed to see the conflict between both a belief in God and a belief in evolution. After all, the pattern of evolution mirrors the description of the order in which God created things in Genesis.

    1. Ah – of course! See, this is why I asked the question – I completely forgot about regional differences. Excellent point. Still, I do think this has only been taking part as a conversation on the national stage more recently yes? I mean – they asked the GOP Presidential nominees in a 2008 debate whether they believed it or not. Were they asking that as some sort of litmus test question of conservative credentials before then?

  2. Ok, from the very start I had a problem with the title of this piece. Namely, your assertion that evolution “just is” is incredibly closed minded, just many of the leading thinkers are in agreement doesn’t mean it is absolute fact. In fact, a couple hundred years ago, using all the best scientific methods and equipment available to them, all of the leading thinkers were in agreement that the world was flat and at the centre of the universe. However, at the same time I would hasten to add that I am not criticising the theory of evolution, nor prescribing to it, I would just like to say that most people would be a lot better off if they broadened their minds a little and realised that science isn’t as all-knowing as they thought, what we *know* as a fact now could be seen as laughably naive 10-20 years down the line, that is why one of the other things that you describe as “just is”, the theory of relativity, is now being adapted by scientists to fit new discoveries along with countless other “foundations of science” that we held as gospel until not so long ago.

    Also, i would like to point out that there are people opposed to the theory of evolution who are not linked to the church in any way, while there is plenty of what could be considered “proof”, there are plenty counter-arguments just as equally cemented in scientifically proven “facts”

    Other than that, this is a well thought-out and well presented argument, and I appreciate your right to state your own mind, I merely sought to offer a rebuttal to your argument.

    Ross

    1. Ross – hey, thanks for the comment! I agree that I should not have given that “it just IS” opinion. You are right that science IS fluid and that we learn new things all the time through hypothesis & experiments.

      My own experience has been that evolution deniers are using the Bible as their rebuttal – I’ve honestly never met any who were not using religion as their basis.

    2. Funny you’d say that just a couple hundred years ago we thought Earth was flat. That’s a giant myth that permeates even to this day? The spherical nature of Earth has been known since the ancient Greeks where polymaths even predicted its circumference. The flaw here is that evolution isn’t a mere theory in the sense that it is a proposed explanation with plenty of evidence, it is a natural observed phenomenon in the same sense that gravity is. Sure, it may turn out evolution is a facet of some more complex concept, but until we have evidence we can stick to Occam’s razor. Note that even then evolution is still very much real just as gravity is very much real even if it turns out to be just an entropic psuedo-force.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s