Darwin, Gradually

Having finally finished the unpleasant book about psychopathic killers, I have gone back to finish editing a series of essays about Charles Darwin. 2009 is the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth, so he’s being feted and written about left and right.

This evening Anthropapa came across this bit of artwork, which is very funny and fits so nicely with my current project:

By Mike Rosulek, buy it at http://www.zazzle.com/darwin2009

By Mike Rosulek, buy it at http://www.zazzle.com/darwin2009

Evolution is in the air right now. There’s my editing project, of course.

And then there’s the state of Texas. The public school science curriculum standards have been amended by the state board of education to require that students consider “all sides of scientific evidence.” Hey, that’s what the scientific method is all about, right?

I’d be a wee bit more supportive of Texas’s standards on critical thinking if it weren’t for the fact that it seems clear that what the NY Times so delicately calls “social conservatives” on the board are trying to push their avowedly creationist agenda into the curriculum, by systematically deleting references to such things as the specific age of the Earth from the science standards.

It is also certainly troubling that potentially, “publishers will have to include criticism of evolution if they want to sell science textbooks to Texas schools,” when essentially the only criticism of evolution is intelligent design (which as a religious belief, is lacking in the scientific evidence the board wants students to consider!) Texas is such a huge market for textbooks that their decisions affect textbook publishing as a whole in the US.

On the other hand, I wish scientists criticizing the board’s decision would be at least acknowledge that analysis, questioning, and not accepting estimates as fact are all part of critical thinking. Sure, Southern states (and, oddly, Pennsylvania) have a history of creationists trying very hard to use the idea of “balance” or “equal consideration” to get their beliefs taught in schools. But in the end, embracing the scientific method does not mean checking criticism at the door and accepting anything dogmatically.

(And if you’re wondering, I don’t believe in a “young Earth” but I do believe in a creator. I also believe that creator may very well have also set the processes of evolution in motion for his or her own purposes. However, I won’t support teaching any of that in public schools.)

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16 Comments

Filed under Books, editing, Rants, Religion, School, Science

16 responses to “Darwin, Gradually

  1. Alida

    I’m with you on this one. I deeply believe in a creator but don’t believe the biblical account is meant to be taken literally. (In any case, I don’t take it literally.)

    • I’m still struggling about biblical literalism. So much of what is said in the Bible has a historical basis, but so much seems quite literary. Maybe it’s like what Steiner often said — our earthly words can only approximate spiritual truths.

  2. That poster is one of the funniest things I’ve seen in a long time.

  3. I love this poster! Isn’t this whole thing incredible, I really cannot support this idea of “creationism” over evolution. I totally agree about a Divine Hand at work in the universe, although it cannot be as scientifically proven as evolution. These two ideas can coexist as long as we are not taking a man made text too literally.
    Since homeschooling I have struggled to find a good science text book that does not focus on creationism.

    • I think a lot of people fall into is thinking that scientific “proof” is the end-all be-all. As if there aren’t other ways of perceiving the world. And as if our scientific perceptions don’t change over time! These essays about Darwin really illustrate that for me — as in how people used to quite honestly believe in eugenics and other direct manipulations of human life (including annihilation of “inferior” groups of people) as supported by science in the name of human progress.

  4. I heard something that I thought was interesting the other day about the account of creation in Genesis not saying how much time passed between verses one and two… the time the earth was made, and the time that it says that the Creator made it inhabitable for people (the 7 days). There’s plenty of evidence for a very old earth.
    Like you though, I wouldn’t support that being taught in public schools. I would rather that my kids receive their religious education at home and/or church.

    • The pastor at my church mentioned that once — that his personal belief is that since we don’t know how long Adam and Eve were in the garden before the Fall, couldn’t that have been the eons of time that make up the age of the Earth? There are also those who think the words “day” and “year” didn’t mean quite the same thing back then…as in the extremely long lives mentioned such as Methuselah.

      Other countries might accept a certain amount of religious teaching in schools. But to me that would be a total transformation of our country’s founding principles. Besides, who would be the one to say what is taught?

  5. I love that poster!

    When I took Biology in college (a Lutheran school), my professor — active in his church, very devout — gave a 15 minute mini-lecture on why evolution does not contradict scripture. At the time I thought it was odd he felt he had to stress that, though now I realize it’s a contentious issue!

    I guess I’m sort of a pantheist. I think we’re all part of a unified whole, all both creatures and created.

    • As a friend mentioned to me on this on Facebook, most people in the US seem to be somewhat more in the middle ideologically and politically. It’s just the extreme ends of the spectrum that make juicy news!

      I often wonder whether you could look at human intellectual development as a God-given gift and therefore concepts like evolution must be able to work alongside or within scriptures, or if our intellect has caused us to err. Probably one of those mysteries we might not be able to answer!

  6. I’m not for teaching religion or religious beliefs in public school, just because I think one’s religion is so personal and such an individual path to be walked. I do belong to a particular religion, myself, but I also believe there are truths everywhere. I’d rather find them in my own time and through my own investigations instead of through a public school.

    Such an interesting post! Loved it!

  7. It is all so interesting. I have looked long and hard at this subject, partly through my studies and partly through irritation with not having a good argument to put forward to my atheist friends.

    I have discovered that the scientific sides to the argument seem to me to be fighting for the wrong corner, science = god in my book. If there are mathematical equations behind every little part of the universe, doesn’t that say there is a mind behind it all? It does to me!
    As Joan Baez said “God is God” – Not anything we could ever imagine or get to grips with, all we have to do is have faith and enjoy this experience!

    • As my pastor said in class last night: are we putting reins on God? If you believe in a creator, then why would that creator be limited in any way? Why couldn’t he or she have created evolution?

      I don’t understand people who say that “if it isn’t in the Bible then I don’t believe it.” I don’t see any computers in the Bible, but I don’t think I’m typing on a hallucination right now!

  8. Nana

    God made the universe, including Earth. The time it took for things to happen is relative to how we think of time. Therefore, the age of the Earth can be said to be millions of our years or thousands of Biblical years. It is only a matter of perpective as carbon dating and other accepted scientific methods support the millions of years theory and the interpretations of the Bible are all “man-made”.

    In the end, it doesn’t really matter. The Earth’s age is in God time, not man’s time either way.

    As for the evolution of life on Earth, this is God’s plan and it will continue for as long as the planet exists.

    • Nana, we are pretty presumptuous creatures, aren’t we? As if we can say how things really are!

      I think it’s interesting that there are people who believe the Bible is the inerrant Word of God…when it’s human words in a variety of human languages. I just can’t believe anything human could be inerrant.

  9. Have you ever considered writing an e-book or guest authoring on other websites? I have a blog centered on the same information you discuss and would really like to have you share some stories/information. I know my viewers would enjoy your work. If you’re even remotely interested, feel free to send me an e-mail.

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