Teach the controversy

In 1925, America was riveted by the Scopes trial, in which the teaching of evolution was debated. It was previously held that only creation should be taught. This “monkey trial” divided America.

With the support of industry and government, “science” won out over “religion” (these two terms are in scare quotes because the sides in this trial were interpretations of both not shared by all).

It’s not surprising that the conflict persists to this day. Easy victories are like salves: they cover the appearance of the symptom, but not its underlying cause. The nation is still divided on this issue.

A third way appeared, and fragmented into two parts. “Intelligent design,” or the supposition that God as a brilliant watchmaker has created the cosmos such that his brilliant Design emerges through many mechanisms possibly including natural selection, and “Teach the Controversy,” which says that we should teach evolution but add in a short statement about how many people believe in creation instead.

Neither of these seem to satisfy the sides in this debate, which seem to care less about truth and more about winning. The science side think the religion people are ignorant, stupid and backward and have no problems volubly expressing that. The religious people are leery of “scientism,” in which knowledge of details presumes to speak for the whole.

The idea of teach the controversy could be applied to more than natural selection. Part of the reason this debate is so fervent is that the “science” faction wants to win before diversity brings about even more religions in America. Then they’re no longer fighting the elderly white Christians, but several dozen religions who do not yet have the power to challenge them.

This calls to mind pluralism itself. Our modern society is founded on the idea that the individual is most important, and thus that we will always have a plurality of different views with no consensus as to what we all should believe.

That viewpoint is heavily entrenched. On the left and right it is accepted; in the trailer park and urban loft, it is prized. It is a type of sacred notion for modern people, which is that each person can be whatever they want to be, independent of either reality or the need for unity.

Pluralism naturally leads to utilitarianism. When there is no standard of values, there instead arises a standard of acceptable results. Utilitarianism is the idea that whatever most people accept us being “good” is thus designated as “good,” even if it conflicts with reality or knowledge.

You can see this principle at work in fast-food restaurants. What food might be good for us is forgotten; what people want is cheap sugar candy-food that seems cheap and is easily accessible. At least, it’s more popular than more complex offerings. Thus it surges ahead in popularity.

However, pluralism is a victim of its own success. It appeals to people by saying, “Now your viewpoint is as legitimate as any other!” Most people being simpletons, they sign up quickly and gloss over the reciprocal principle, which is that now every viewpoint is as legitimate as any other.

This means that a religion which worships sausages is equal to an ancient religion with a vast history of wisdom, or even to science. This means science is optional.

“Now wait,” the modern says, sweating as the trap closes in. “Science is above all this. Science isn’t a belief. It’s objective. You can prove it.”

What he means to say is that science is material, and it deals with tangible things, thus any proposition made about material things can be tested. There’s only one problem: science says nothing about the organization of material things, such as how to best run a civilization or how one should live as an individual.

For this reason, people see science as insufficient, and they are correct. They thus find a belief system that addresses what they really need, and fit science in…where they can. The instability caused by pluralism is what causes science to become just another equal viewpoint, which means that it is de facto optional.

Our modern sense of equality and materialism makes us masters of details, and oblivious to the large picture. We see trees, but no forest. As a result, we are caught unawares by the failure of pluralism, because “in theory” it was a great idea.

Maybe we’re not descended from monkeys after all. Maybe we are still monkeys, fooling ourselves by thinking that our material abilities make us wiser than we are.

31 Comments

  1. ferret says:

    “There’s only one problem: science says nothing about the organization of material things”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cybernetics

  2. EvilBuzzard says:

    As someone who buys micro-evolution but is on the fence as far as macro, I’d like to see more serious research done on the topic.

    1) Let’s nail down a mathematical function that governs evolution. Give me a de/dt and let’s figure out how fast organissms switch species.

    2) And if Richard Dawkins wants to really run up the score, let’s see the Markov Chain that would evolve a species of microbe up the ladder to say a tarantula. If we really want to be scientific here and claim that all who disagree are ignorant, this is what I want to see, the mathematics that prove it.

    1. crow says:

      Does mathematics actually prove anything?
      Doesn’t mathematics depend upon an agreed baseline for all following computations?
      Where does that baseline originate?
      Observation of the natural world that pre-exists the mathematics that ‘prove’ it.
      Mathematics only attempts to explain what already exists.
      And even then, it is only applicable to what is physically observable.
      I wonder why humans need to prove anything, anyway.
      The universe exists, as does everything in it.
      Is man so mad that he must convince himself, by arcane formulas, that it exists?

      1. ferret says:

        “Mathematics only attempts to explain what already exists.”

        It would be too much, to explain, for mathematics. It describes.

      2. Everdarkgreen says:

        In the age of deconstruction, everything must be proven and defined to a tee. Otherwise, it may not exist to the modern.

        1. crow says:

          Good to see you here.
          It’s an interesting place.
          I hope you’ll treat us to your often-illuminating outlook.

      3. EvilBuzzard says:

        Doesn’t mathematics depend upon an agreed baseline for all following computations?

        Smart question. I always attributed mathematics being considered “the language of scientific inquiry” as a result of empirical results. I look at it this way. I could design a bridge using a deck of tarot cards, or I could design this bridge using laws of physicsexpressed throught he language of mathematical formalism. If you’d prefer driving over one bridge to the other, than you have expressed a meaningful opinion as to the validity of mathematics.

        I demand this sort of rigor out of the evolutionists in part because of their attitudes towards people who don’t share their beliefs. If they truly feel that cocksure, let’s see the rigorous and undeniable proofs. If they aren’t, than knock off the self-righteous poseur routine.

        1. crow says:

          Hard to apply a mathematical formula to God and come out with meaningful data. Does this mean that there is no God, or that the tools being used are not applicable to the object?
          Who can prove whether or not I had a dream last night?
          Who can prove what the contents of the dream were?
          Is a dream real?
          A dream is plenty real to the dreamer.

          Science seems to have morphed into a delusion of grandeur, rather than the useful tool it started out as.

          1. EvilBuzzard says:

            “that the tools being used are not applicable to the object”

            Somehow I suspect you intended to answer your own inquiry :)

            I don’t think you should discuss God in reference to a mathematical formula. I think science has hit its point of contradiction in several respects. Partially because it has been ideologically hi-jacked as a tool of the consensus and partially because it developed it’s own God-complex and scientists just hate* being demoted one rank on the faculty hierarchy.

            * – how unprofessional of them…

            1. crow says:

              What an amusing comment :)
              You win, so far, for today.
              That was a very insightful spiel.
              Do you see science as a religion of control?
              I do. Born of insecurity and possibly madness, it seemed a useful way of ordering human existence, but like anything born of deficiency, it quickly became overly ambitious, and prove to overreach itself.
              All a man really has to do is gaze out into the universe and realize that he really doesn’t count for much, and his ideas, even less.
              Survival is best achieved through a sense of proportion.
              With such a sense, one not only survives, but is imbued with sanity, which is almost as important as survival itself.

    2. ferret says:

      “Let’s nail down a mathematical function that governs evolution.”

      Scientific laws do not have any prescriptive power, they cannot govern. At best, they describe the nature with a certain degree of accuracy.

      “Give me a de/dt and let’s figure out how fast organisms switch species.”

      If evolution is a periodic process (all is periodic in our world) and is described, say, by a sine, the first derivative will be cosine, i.e. delayed by π/2. I think, it’ accurate enough for our purposes.

      If we are on a peak, the speed is zero, meaning no new species.
      But, the statistics says the number of different species on the Earth is diminishing pretty fast. That is, we are in a phase of de-evolution, or degradation. All these monkeys we have around are simply a bit ahead of us.

      1. EvilBuzzard says:

        I once-again curse the lack of functional html sarcasm tags.

        If evolution is a periodic process (all is periodic in our world) and is described, say, by a sine, the first derivative will be cosine, i.e. delayed by π/2. I think, it’ accurate enough for our purposes.

        If the pro-evolution crowd is going to be as snotty, condescending and disrespectful of contenting povs as Dawkins and his “Brights” they will have to do a little better than a generalized cosine. I want sucker integrated and I want the “C” solved for or it’s “No Sale”.

        1. ferret says:

          It’s strange that people consider theory of evolution and creationism to be mutually exclusive. They are definitely not.

          Man can create objects that evolve.
          God has this ability for sure.

          Asserting the God couldn’t create an evolving world undermines His omnipotence.

          1. crow says:

            It’s odd that people who don’t even believe in God would seek to undermine Him :)
            Even stranger that they would seek to undermine those who do believe in Him.
            Why would it even matter to an atheist if God exists or not?
            Isn’t atheism a voluntary thing?
            Atheists are a very odd bunch.

            1. ferret says:

              I wasn’t clear:

              A creativist should admit that God could create an evolving world. In this case evolution and creation are compatible.
              If a religious creativist denies this God’s ability of doing so, he undermines the omnipotence.

              1. crow says:

                Maybe atheists think God may have overlooked something. And that since He did, they therefore refuse to ‘believe in Him’.
                That makes about as much sense as the rest of it.
                It doesn’t matter anyway.

          2. EvilBuzzard says:

            I’ve always thought you couldn’t have a Big Bang w/o felonious violation of all three Laws of Thermodynamics. Only one cat could get away w/ that….

            1. crow says:

              But the laws of thermodynamics are arbitrary things.
              They comfortably explain things that need no explaining, after the fact.
              God was probably not following a blueprint when He did whatever He did, if, in fact He ever did those things, or if, in fact, He even exists.
              The more I consider human ‘laws’, the more amusing it all becomes.

              1. EvilBuzzard says:

                And that designation of them being arbitrary was somewhat arbitrary.

                “They comfortably explain things that need no explaining, after the fact.”

                Perhaps, on a very elemental level, they need no explanation. But if you’ve ever driven a car anywhere, lit a fire to keep warm (or turned on your thermostat), or just attempted to safeguard yourself so that other people’s carelessness in doing any of the above, you’ll have to admit that a basic understanding of enthalpy and entropy has significantly improved the human condition.

                Also, it is quite fun to watch Dr. hawking pole vault over epistemological mouse-turds in order to make fallacy-riddled arguments that the big-bang was a spontaneous event that happened without any outside interference or causation.

                1. crow says:

                  Ah, well, you see, I live in a very simple reality where I interact with what is, rather than trying to define what is, in order to then interact with my definition of it.
                  I find this serves me rather well.
                  The God-oriented being sees no great need to insert an abstraction-layer between himself and his reality.
                  While the science-oriented being seemingly is unable to function at all without converting reality into something he can understand.

            2. Ted Swanson says:

              Buzzard – your cosmology seems to resemble my own.

        2. Wonder what the heck we’d have to do to get working sarcasm tags? Probably bribe someone.

          1. crow says:

            Might get more mileage from () tags.
            OMG, I’m being sarcastic!!!

            1. crow says:

              Haha! My non-sarcasm code got obliterated :)

            2. ferret says:

              Truly Western people during their evolution came to the condition when they cannot distinguish sarcasm, irony, joke, etc., solely out of context, without been told explicitly. For example:

              If we hear from a friend “I had too much beer, I’m going to explode!”, and he forgot to add “Just kidding”, we call the Ambulance (or the Police, if a suicide bomber came to our mind).

              The reasons of this condition are:
              1. If we see an absurd statement, we presume the author suddenly became stupid, without allowing him to be joking.
              2. Multi-culti environment, e.g., a Russian ferret doesn’t understand a Canadian crow’s joke due to the difference in joking patterns in different cultures.
              3. Mass media has created a simplistic mass culture with embedded standardized joking styles and protocols, assuming mandatory usage of the explanatory phrases “Just joking”, “I’m kidding”, “(sarcastic)”, and the like.

              I was joking :)

          2. Test Pilot says:

            As if such things were even possible…

            1. crow says:

              REM Do not delete this line…
              ; begin code
              {non-sarcasm}
              As if such things were even possible…
              {/non-sarcasm}
              ; end code
              REM All things are possible…

  3. ferret says:

    “Maybe we are still monkeys”

    Or, more likely, we are still men.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Devolution_(biology)

  4. PROZAKHISTAN says:

    PROZAK IS MY HERO AND HE WILL BE REMEMBERED AS THE NOBLEST OF ALL HESSIANS.

    HAIL SR PROZAK!

  5. o/O says:

    “Maybe we’re not descended from monkeys after all. Maybe we are still monkeys, fooling ourselves by thinking that our material abilities make us wiser than we are.”

    We are descended from monkeys and we are also still monkeys, just as we are descended from mammals and we are also still mammals. AronRa explains:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4A-dMqEbSk8&feature=plcp

    AronRa is a typical example of a New Atheist who has conflated science and liberalism, when the two are unrelated concepts and in many respects incompatible with each other. Liberal science fetishists don’t recognize how easily science can be corrupted or perverted by politics – denial of the reality of race and HBD being the prime modern example.

    This doesn’t negate the fact that they are right about evolution, and that Creationism and Intelligent Design are not science, and have no place in the science classroom. Are we going to “teach the controversy” about gravity vs. intelligent falling? spherical earth vs. flat earth? heliocentricism vs geocentricsim? chemistry vs. alchemy? astronomy vs. astrology?

    Sorry, but facts are not democratic, reality is not fair, and just because one has an opinion about something does not mean that it is actually worth a damn. Complaining and moaning, as many do, that the New Atheists are arrogant and mean simply proves that one has no argument at all and is reduced to whining about “its not fair” and “they aren’t nice”. Well who cares if they are nice? What matters is who is right, not who is nice.

    Yes science is not enough, materialism is not enough, and we need more; but any kind of religion or philosophy that insists we deny the facts of the real world is going to cut us off from most of those on the right hand side of the intelligence bell curve. Only the left benefits from this; it’s why it can still convince people to support an ideology that is otherwise completely out of alignment with reality. The Creationist/Intelligent Design movement is just what the leftist doctor ordered; it diverts attention away from the left’s glaringly anti-science stances on HBD and convinces better educated people that conservatives are morons.

    Well, mission accomplished, Creationists. Thanks a lot.

    1. ferret says:

      “Yes science is not enough, materialism is not enough”

      Does it mean we should believe in the immaterial that has connection with the material world?
      Why materialism is not enough?

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