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    Wednesday, August 31, 2005

    Religion Is The New Sex: Show Me The Science

    My partner, A, does not agree with my post on Teaching Creationism below. The second thing I heard when I got home.
    So, let me clarify. I don't think that creationism and intelligent design are of equal scientific merit with evolution, but I don't really care. I am willing to have high school students hear an assemblage of ideas: some scientifically sound, some not, in order to appease the religious Right, who are trying to eradicate or roadblock freedoms for women, LGBT people, and minorities. This is a sacrifice I don't have a problem with. Here's a bit about why.

    Daniel C. Dennett explains the damage that could result from the teaching of creationism and intelligent design:

    First, imagine how easy it would be for a determined band of naysayers to shake the world's confidence in quantum physics - how weird it is! - or Einsteinian relativity. In spite of a century of instruction and popularization by physicists, few people ever really get their heads around the concepts involved.

    Jerry Coyne and Richard Dawkins agree.

    But, what would happen if a "band of naysayers" confused those "people [who] [n]ever really get their heads around the concepts" into disagreeing with Einsteinian relativity? They'd go around saying, "I think Einstein was wrong!" Scientists would go about their business, microwaves would still come down the assembly line. Same with teaching creationism. Some small group of confused people will throw out the compendium of scientific evidence their teachers provided on evolution in favor of the flimsy proof supporting creationism (which would take about 20 minutes and a handout.) They will go around, as they do already, saying, "Darwin was wrong! Evolution is bullshit! Things started in Eden!" And scientists would go about their business, relying completely on what they know to be true. Nobody gets hurt.

    And before someone thinks this is because I don't care since science isn't my field, I feel this way about literature as well. Let the kids read some total trash novels, if it means they'll read. Let them write book reports praising the worst writing of all time. Just don't let them be writers or critics. And, most likely, the people who like bad books won't have the desire to be writers or critics anyway. And, as with the intelligent design guys, the bad book lovers will only go so far in the academy even if they go there.

    So, we give in and throw a bone to creationism in high schools. No one gets hurt. We give in and throw a bone to parental consent laws. Girls get thrown out of their homes, live on the street, prostitute themselves, and die. The choice, to me, is simple.


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