Science and Religion

My impetus for writing this hub was the lengthy discussion that followed the posting, by one of our esteemed colleagues here on HubPages, of an article on Darwin and evolution. That article, which offers yet another creationist diatribe blaming contemporary evil and the downfall of America on the atheism begat by evolutionary thought, does a considerable disservice to Education and Science (the topic under which it is listed): like all the other creationist propoganda I have encountered, its arguments are nothing but misinformed hyperbole based on dubious premises and non sequitur conclusions. Since I am a big fan of Darwin, my initial reaction was to write a detailed rebuttal entitled “In defense of Darwin: a refutation of creationist arguments against macroevolution”; or better yet, “Creationist Nonsense”.

But after some introspection, I changed my mind. The change came when I asked myself: what good will come from me writing (yet another) rebuttal of creationism? Plenty have already been written, and by much better writers than me—luminaries like the late Stephen Jay Gould. Their eloquent refutations are readily accessible to anyone who is interested. Moreover, nowadays the vast majority of scientists agree that the facts of paleontology, anatomy, embryology and molecular genetics imply macroevolution—the shared ancestry of all animals (and indeed, barring the existence of a “shadow biosphere”, of all life on earth).

And yet, for the fundamentalist cult of creationism, the same facts are interpreted as being evidence for the literal truth of the biblical story of Genesis. How can that be? To me it makes no sense whatever—there is no more scientific evidence for the Hebrew creation myth than there is for the Greek gods, Celtic fairies, or Santa Claus (sorry kids—that doesn’t mean he isn’t real!).

Attributing the fossil record to Noah’s flood requires an implausible theory of sedimentary geology that geologists have roundly rejected, not because it contradicts their evolutionary worldview, but because it is scientifically untenable. Denying the existence of transitional fossils based on the fact that fossils of similar age or older have been discovered with more modern features only shows that the denier is unclear on the concept. And macroevolution is no more undermined by the fact that no one has seen it happen than physical chemistry is undermined by the fact that no one has seen an atom—indeed, most of what is commonly held to be factual knowledge in physics and chemistry is refractory to direct observation, but strangely unquestioned by creationists. And so on and so on. Creationist arguments have an Alice in Wonderland quality, requiring a willfully ignorant, convoluted conception of science that is fundamentally non-scientific. Biblical creationism is not science—it is non-science—and its pretensions to science produce utter nonsense.

But it does not really help the evolutionist’s cause to say this, as I recently learned. Creationists are well prepared for such attacks, and are to be commended for mounting a defense that effectively puts them on the offense. The emotional responses of impatient or frustrated evolutionists are taken as proof that their “belief” in evolution is no more scientific (and actually less so) than belief in Genesis: that it is based not on an objective interpretation of the evidence, but rather on a rigidly pre-conceived worldview. Unfortunately, this creationist ploy is as effective as it is ironic.

And as much as I hate to admit it, it pushed my buttons. It pissed me off—and like an obsessive who can’t stop picking at a festering sore, I kept going back for more. That of course is just what they want, because it fits their strategy of entrapment. Once you become emotional, they have you right where they want you—supporting their claim that evolution is entirely subjective, and hence not science at all. And I fell right into that spider’s web.

So I thought it behooved me to write a detailed and entirely dispassionate rebuttal of all the creationist claims of “scientific” support for the biblical account of Genesis. That would settle it, once and for all...

Wouldn't it?

Well no, of course it wouldn’t. But perhaps it would be enough to sway someone sitting on the fence, confused by all the contradictory rhetoric; or better yet, help young impressionable minds get past the obfuscation and see creationist sophistry for what it is.

But the more I thought about it, the more it became clear that that is not what was bothering me at all. Yes, a staggeringly high percentage of the populace still believes in the literal truth of Genesis. And these folks are politically organized, doing their damndest to get their religious cult admitted into public schools. Nevertheless, I am not losing any sleep over it, and can rest assured that real science—science that uses facts not to reify an ancient, out-of-context cultural mythology, but to construct imaginative theories (as Darwin did) that explain our current existence—will prevail. The reason is that science adapts to change. Like organisms, ideas evolve, and the fittest survive. In the realm of ideas, the fittest are those that best fit the facts and most simply explain experience. And experience is ever-changing and far from certain. Being inherently skeptical, science admits uncertainty, and is thus more realistic and more adaptively flexible than religious dogma. The scientifically constructed idea of evolution is widely accepted as fact, at least by those who have not been brainwashed by religion; and that acceptance will only increase as science itself continues to evolve.

So why do the creationist attacks set me off? Is it possible that they hit home because deep down I know they are actually right, correct in their claim that the evolutionary worldview is just another religion?

Well, maybe. It is true that science is one thing, and religion is something else. But science was actually born in the service of religion, and like religion, it is still used to support rigid worldviews. Julian Jaynes hit the nail on the head in the last chapter of his book The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind—a work, in my opinion, that is just as important and monumental as Darwin’s Origin of Species. According to Jaynes (First edition, p. 434):

"We sometimes think, and even like to think, that the two greatest exertions that have influenced mankind, religion and science, have always been historical enemies, intriguing us in opposite directions. But this effort at special identity is loudly false. It is not religion but the church and science that were hostile to each other. And it was rivalry, not contravention. Both were religious. They were two giants fuming at each other over the same ground. Both proclaimed to be the only way to divine revelation.

“It was a competition that first came into absolute focus with the late Renaissance, particularly in the imprisonment of Galileo in 1633. The stated and superficial reason was that his publications had not been first stamped with papal approval. But the true argument, I am sure, was no such trivial surface event. For the writings in question were simply the Copernican heliocentric theory of the solar system which had been published a century earlier by a churchman without any fuss whatever. The real division was more profound and can, I think, only be understood as a part of the urgency behind mankind’s yearning for divine certainties. The real chasm was between the political authority of the church and the individual authority of experience. And the real question was whether we are to find our lost authorization through an apostolic succession from ancient prophets who heard divine voices, or through searching the heavens of our own experience right now in the objective world without any priestly intercession. As we all know, the latter became Protestantism and, in its rationalist aspect, what we have come to call the Scientific Revolution.

“If we would understand the Scientific Revolution correctly, we should always remember that its most powerful impetus was the unremitting search for hidden divinity. As such, it is a direct descendant of the breakdown of the bicameral mind. In the late seventeenth century, to choose an obvious example, it is three English Protestants, all amateur theologians and fervently devout, who build the foundations for physics, psychology, and biology: the paranoiac Isaac Newton writing down God’s speech in the great universal laws of celestial gravitation; the gaunt and literal John Locke knowing his Most Knowing Being in the riches of knowing experience; and the peripatetic John Ray, an unkempt ecclesiastic out of a pulpit, joyfully limning the Word of his Creator in the perfection of the design of animal and plant life. Without this religious motivation, science would have been mere technology, limping along on economic necessity.”

Jaynes concludes (p. 436):

“This drama, this immense scenario in which humanity has been performing on this planet over the last 4000 years, is clear when we take the large view of the central intellectual tendency of world history. In the second millennium B.C., we stopped hearing the voices of gods. In the first millennium B.C., those of us who still heard the voices, our oracles and prophets, they too died away. In the first millennium A.D., it is their sayings and hearings preserved in sacred texts through which we obeyed our lost divinities. And in the second millennium A.D., these writings lose their authority. The Scientific Revolution turns us away from the older sayings to discover the lost authorization in Nature. What we have been through in these last four millennia is the slow inexorable profaning of our species. And in the last part of the second millennium A.D., that process is apparently becoming complete. It is the Great Human Irony of our noblest and greatest endeavor on this planet that in the quest for authorization, in our reading of the language of God in Nature, we should read there so clearly that we have been so mistaken.”

And yet, Jaynes goes on to argue, science breeds monistic worldviews: Materialism, Marxism, Environmentalism, and even Evolutionism (pp. 441-443):

“These scientisms, as I shall call them, are clusters of scientific ideas which come together and almost surprise themselves into creeds of belief, scientific mythologies which fill the very felt void left by the divorce of science and religion in our time. They differ from classical science and its common debates in the way they evoke the same response as did the religions which they seek to supplant. And they share with religions many of their most obvious characteristics: a rational splendor that explains everything, a charismatic leader or succession of leaders who are highly visible and beyond criticism, a series of canonical texts which are somehow outside the usual arena of scientific criticism, certain gestures of idea and rituals of interpretation, and a requirement of total commitment. In return the adherent receives what the religions had once given him more universally: a world view, a hierarchy of importances, and an auguring place where he may find out what to do and think, in short, a total explanation of man. And this totality is obtained not by actually explaining everything, but by an encasement of its activity, a severe and absolute restriction of attention, such that everything that is not explained is not in view....

“Applied to the world as representative of all the world, facts become superstitions....

“Science then, for all its pomp of factness, is not unlike some of the more easily disparaged outbreaks of pseudoreligions. In this period of transition from its religious basis, science often shares with the celestial maps of astrology, or a hundred other irrationalisms, the same nostalgia for the Final Answer, the One Truth, the Single Cause. In the frustrations and sweat of laboratories, it feels the same temptations to swarm into sects, even as did the Khabiru [i.e. Hebrew] refugees, and set out here and there through the dry Sinais of parched fact for some rich and brave significance flowing with truth and exaltation. And all of this, my metaphor and all, is a part of this transitional period after the breakdown of the bicameral mind.”

I hate to say it—and I know many of my scientific colleagues will hate to hear it—but I think Jaynes is correct. Science is one thing, but belief in the literal truth of one's metaphors is something else. It is one thing to accept that humans are a species of animal; it is something else to think that that fact adequately explains humanity. It is one thing to accept that organisms make use of biochemical mechanisms to develop and maintain physiological homeostasis; it is something else to think that organisms are themselves machines. As conscious beings, we put metaphors to good use. But we tend to forget that they are just metaphors.

So in conclusion, I no longer feel any need to defend evolutionary science: it can and will defend itself just fine. And with the efforts of brilliant and imaginative thinkers like Darwin, it will continue to thrive and “boldly go where no one has gone before”. Instead, I wish to thank my erstwhile adversaries in the creationist camp for reminding me of the importance of humility, and of embracing uncertainty. It’s not healthy to get too attached to one’s beliefs: that is a one-way ticket to terminal stagnation, which in life means death. But as long as we keep an open mind and pay attention, nature will keep rewarding us with wonderful surprises that help us grow: for it will always be the case that “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” (Hamlet, Act I, Scene 5).

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Comments 55 comments

jrsearam profile image

jrsearam 6 years ago from San Juan, PR

Once again you provide the stimulation I crave on days such as the one I suffer today. Hours of boredom and tedium seem a little less so because I have you just a few key strokes away on my smart phone. Thanks for the continuing education my friend, JR


Joyus Crynoid profile image

Joyus Crynoid 6 years ago from Eden Author

And thank you for the positive feedback JR--you made my day!


Pcunix profile image

Pcunix 6 years ago from SE MA

I don't want to agree with you. I want to think that we can grow beyond scientific illiteracy and religious fantasy.

As we used to cruelly say so many decades ago, "How does it feel to want?"

Good job.


Joyus Crynoid profile image

Joyus Crynoid 6 years ago from Eden Author

I want to think that too Pc. Clearly many of us have already grown beyond scientific illiteracy and religious fantasy (although we still tend to get stuck in mental ruts). So I guess the question comes down to how do we want to define "we"? Throughout most of human history the definition has been based on tribalism--the "us" versus "them" mentality (with "them" being viewed as less than human, and thus not part of "we"). I like to think that humanity can outgrow that, but I'm not so sure it can. And if it does, will it become like the borg (in Star Trek)--a single-minded collective that oblierates individuality?


Pcunix profile image

Pcunix 6 years ago from SE MA

As much as we might hate it, there will surely always be "us" and "them". I can wish that someone not want to kill me because I don't share their religion, but if they do want to enforce their beliefs so drastically, I will no longer see them as a fellow human deserving life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I will see them as they see me: a cancer that must be destroyed for the good of humanity.

Unfortunately, I know we are both "right". My position of freedom of thought has no more validity than theirs of rigid dogma. They can argue their view just as passionately as I can argue mine and at the end, it's just a popularity contest of ideas.

Very much related to what you say here, of course.


Austinstar profile image

Austinstar 6 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

Whoa, JC, you hit the nail on the head when you said they push our buttons!

I commented several times on that hub and wish I hadn't. I know they are entitled to their opinions, but it ticks me off when they seem to think I'm not entitled to mine.


Aaron Babb profile image

Aaron Babb 6 years ago from Virginia

Thank you so much for this. I was going to write an article about this, but then I find you've already done it. That hub was incredibly ignorant and seemed to imply that if you believe in evolution, you can't be a christian. Not only that, but the man had no understanding of scientific theory or even how evolution is supposed to work. The easiest way to tell that a person is clueless is when they try and split evolution into micro and macro. That would be like picking and choosing which commandments of the bible you have to follow. You can't have just one part of it. /rant


Kevin Schofield 6 years ago

I think you're correct in enjoining an "open mind". In digging one's heels in as a reaction to the blatant absurdity of the other side's position one becomes just as entrenched and defensive as they are. That great sceptic and iconoclast, David Hume, advised as an antidote to arrogant bigotry that we "proportion our belief to the evidence." This obviously presumes an enlightened atmosphere of cvilized debate and mutual respect for independent thought. An atmosphere that is very much lacking in the "Boo/Hooray" debate between arrogant scientism and cloud cuckoo land fundamentalism. Great thought-provoking hub! Kindest regards, Kev.


secularist10 profile image

secularist10 6 years ago from New York City

Joyus, great article.

I know the hub of which you speak... Fun times, indeed. Although being called "insane" (as I was) is not exactly my idea of "civil dialogue," but then again, I suppose I should take it as a compliment coming from those quarters!

I used to get all bent out of shape about those issues, but now it's more fun and entertaining than anything else. I've been able to maintain my passion for the issues without allowing other people's mythologies affect me. I figure I might as well put my ideas out there in the hopes that a silent reader somewhere, at some time, will be swayed.

Anyway, getting to the substance of your article here, I am sensing a certain relativism being drawn between science and religion. They both rely on blind assumptions of one sort or another, therefore neither is inherently "better" than the other.

But as I wrote on "that" hub, in fact naturalism is superior to supernaturalism, because naturalism is the default state of the human mind. Here is the thought experiment I use to demonstrate this point (I've used this with a number of religious believers, and thus far none has been able to even attempt a rebuttal, so I think I'm onto something):

Can you imagine that there is no supernatural world? Yes, of course you can. It would mean this natural world (the universe, reality, etc) is eternal, uncreated, etc.

Now, can you imagine that there is no natural world? No, you cannot. The closest anybody can come to imagining such a thing is to close their eyes and picture total darkness--but that too is an image of this natural world. The human mind is incapable of truly imagining what a "no natural world" state would look like.

Thus we see that naturalism (the assumption that this natural world is all that exists) is a more *fundamental* mindset/ worldview than supernaturalism (the assumption that there is another world outside of this natural world).

What this means is that naturalism is the default state of the human mind--it is our starting point. Once we have that in our heads, then we can proceed to test and be critical of new ideas, hypotheses and theories. If naturalism alone was not sufficient to explain everything, then there might be a justification for believing in the supernatural. But it is sufficient, and the supernatural is not needed to explain anything.

So it is vital to remember that naturalism (which is what modern science is based on) and supernaturalism (which is what religion is based on) are NOT equally valid worldviews. One really is better than the other, for logically coherent reasons (i.e. not because that's my worldview and I like it).

I totally agree with the need for constant humility and open-mindedness--that is non-negotiable (how's that for irony). But nevertheless, when something works, it works. Some closed-mindedness to nonsensical ideas is actually quite necessary to move human knowledge forward.


DavePrice profile image

DavePrice 6 years ago from Sugar Grove, Ill

Ah, these conversations wear me out. Yes, I'm a Christian, yes I believe. But, so what, its only relevant to me. It doesnt worry me, scare me, bother me, or affect me in any way what anyone else believes, and I personally feel no compulsion to cajole, demean, judge or otherwise allow what I believe to become a prison for someone else. I believe in God, you believe in evolution - ok, gee, look at that, neither one of us disintegrated. This competition to "convert" one another gets us no where; no, that's not true, it gets us exactly where we dont need to be, divided and angry.

Its obvious that you are intelligent and talented; I admire your writing a great deal. We dont agree, but I dont care, dont want to debate, argue or convert. I just want to enjoy good writing and good people. So, just a note from the "opposition" - really enjoy your writing.


Jason Hill profile image

Jason Hill 6 years ago

I recently went to a church to get breakfast (they have a cafe open weekdays) as I usually and was confronted by an older gentleman. He asked me if I served the lord. I replied, "I do what I can." He then asked do I really follow the lord from Genesis to Revelations. At this I got somewhat annoyed.

Who has the right to question anyone on what they believe or tell them that what they believe is wrong?

He started talking about what the bible said about following the lord and at that I told him I did not believe in the bible. He then informed me that I was going to hell. Guess I need to find a new cafe!

Thanks for the inspiring hub, this is one topic of great interest to me and you did not let me down, Bravo!


Joyus Crynoid profile image

Joyus Crynoid 6 years ago from Eden Author

Pc--unfortunately I think you may be right.

Austinstar--thanks for stopping by and commenting. I know what you mean. Zealots are so damn self-righteous.

Aaron--I agree. You should still write a hub about it. The voice of reason can use all the help it can get. Thanks for chiming in!

Kevin--right on. Of course, when the evidence is bent to our belief (as it is for creationists--and in their eyes, for evolutionists), then Hume's antidote doesn't really work. So in addtion to (or perhaps as a pre-requisite for) "enlightened atmosphere of cvilized debate and mutual respect for independent thought" you need a baseline standard of education. And not just in science--in philosophy, psychology, history, sociology, etc. In short, all of the liberal arts. Thanks for your excellent comment.

Secularist--I agree, and am for that reason a committed naturalist. The god concept is completely superfluous. My point was not to be relativistic; rather, that it is not good to become overly certain of the overriding correctness of one's worldview. But clearly some worldviews are better--more accurate depictions of reality--than others.


Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 6 years ago from The Fatal Shore

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts."

Bertrand Russell

You are very wise Joyous. You have to laugh at this...not at your fine hub, but at the whole thing over there at creationist central and how we've all, at some point felt compelled to post there. I'd only intended to make one small remark in passing but got snagged.. and then after announcing twice with a flourish that I was leaving...got drawn back in. Why? I thought and still do that it was a sense of outrage at some of the claims that were made...so yes, my buttons were pushed too. It's been a strange mini-addiction.

I read a book not long ago by anthropologist and philosopher Ernest Gellner, written in the 90's, in which he put forward that currently there are three worldviews -Post-modernism(relativism), Reason and Religion and he made a very good case why he believes reason to be the the superior view.

Religion believes itself the possessor of a unique truth, while relativism bends over backwards to accommodate all views as equal and in so doing consigns the possibility of unique truth to the dustbin. Reason, as he puts it "retains the faith in the uniqueness of truth, but does not believe we ever possess it definitively and uses, as the foundation for practical conduct and inquiry, not on any substantive conviction, but only a loyalty to certain procedures."

If we don't believe we have the truth definitively, then we should be okay..


Joyus Crynoid profile image

Joyus Crynoid 6 years ago from Eden Author

Dave--I don't consider you to be "the opposition". More like a kindred spirit who has followed a different path. I agree that these arguments do not get us where we need to be. On the other hand we need to speak out when someone says something that we perceive as being beyond the pale.

For the record, I don't think Christianity and evoluton are mutually exclusive--you can be Christian and accept evolution. I suppose if you believe in biblical inerrancy, then you have no choice but to reject evolution. But that's perfectly okay with me--as long as it's not taught in schools as being a legitimate part of scientific inquiry. That is injurious to kids, and therefore crosses the line.

I'm glad you stopped by, and I appreciate your comment and the positive feedback.

Jason--sorry to hear about the cafe experience. Seems like there would be a better way to go about spreading the "Good News" than by telling folks that they will go to hell for using their brains. Thanks for the comment!

Jane--great Bertrand Russell quote. And strange mini-addiction indeed...lol.

I agree that reason trumps post-modernism and religion, and the quote from Gellner pretty much sums up my position. Thanks much!


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS

Well - I dozed off before I posted my comment, the main essence of which may already have been stated by you, Joyus - in your last comment. Forgive me if I go on and post it. I am a big girl and can take a reprimand as deemed needed by one I respect! I warn -it's lengthy. That may save me. Maybe it will just be overlooked or deleted. ;-)

Joyus - A great and thinking treatise. I could almost feel your thinking throughout what you had written. That is wonderful. You stated many things I agree with and had intended to specify in this comment. Another's comment almost sums up what I truly think about it, as it quoted from Ernest Gellner: "Reason retains the faith in the uniqueness of truth, but does not believe we ever possess it definitively and uses, as the foundation for practical conduct and inquiry, not on any substantive conviction, but only a loyalty to certain procedures." The comment goes on to say, "If we don't believe we have the truth definitively, then we should be okay." Thumbs up!

That's it. I find presumptive claims to have found THE answer or explanation -to be my objection to many of the arguments on both sides of the fence. Even in the matter of what should be taught to youngsters in schools. Why shouldn't children, who are the most likely to latch onto one or another explanation as BEING the only definitive explanation, - get exposure to more than one explanation so that at least they will grow into adults with honestly inquiring & open minds capable of discussing all possibilities rationally? Instead, ruling out everything but one view turns them into closed-minded grownups unable to rationally discuss any evidence which is contrary to their beliefs (and science can become a rigid belief, too!) This is certainly not really truly "scientific" or rational OR reasonable in the least! It's just an "other" totalitarian way of imposing one and only one view and trying to make sure the future generation of thinkers is fixed and rigid. Might as well have stopped with the Earth-centered theory - or the Earth-flat theory, both of which were as "scientific" as religious at the times they were held as true. Fortunately, the true nature of science is to consider new evidence. That is the " loyalty to certain procedures" to which Gellner referred. But teaching kids that "this" rather than "that" held view of the evidence and body of knowledge is not teaching the scientific procedure, but rather its opposite. Humans are human, though - including scientists. Humans like to rule out all but their own convictions, even scientists, as proven by trying to outlaw teaching that there ARE other views.

Even the most "scientific" explanations are still only partial & tentative. Granted that dogmatic religious final explanations are worse when it comes to ruling out all other ideas, & they surely stir up more hatred and intolerance of all other views, including resorting to slurs & ridicule ABOUT those who hold those views, which hardly express enlightened mentality either. But so does the "scientific" opposition resort to that kind of mutual disrespect and loathing, which is the stuff wars are made of. Why can't people honestly disagree without being so dang disagreeable, especially if they claim to be wise and/or open to truth? A little intellectual humility would go a long way to pave the way for SERIOUS objective discussion, not only of various existing views and possibilities, but of real new facts as they unfold. There almost seems to be a kind of bullying latent self-hatred expressed when people begin to discredit and denigrate not only others' views but the others who happen to hold them!

I dislike "ism" labels but I guess I may be agnostic if it really just means knowing I don't know everything about everything above and beyond, except sensing that there IS an objective truth of it, one which exceeds subjectivity including most anything projected by "subjective" persons, which we all are, including Darwin and the Pope.

Working toward knowing more objectively is a worthy aim, but so long as we are persons, our views are going to be 'PERSON-AL" primarily. Acknowledging and accepting that it includes "I" is a step toward being able to filter and sift out holes in the reasoning and questionable 'facts" - starting with one's own. Attacking others on a personal basis, as in calling them fools and being snide about them as people is as subjective, personal-level and unscientific as it gets, in my humble SUBJECTIVE opinion.

For about 40 years, I've been summarizing it for my own benefit in four words which keep me from getting caught up in sides and helps explain it to myself: "There is no problem", - meaning that the truth prevails no matter what anyone - religious or scientific - decides to latch onto; for real truth, there is no problem. It will "out" because it IS. As you said, Joyus, it will speak for itself. Plus, it is highly likely to be quite dynamic and in flux (rather than fixed and "one-size-fits-all'). Dynamic & in change matches the essence of life itself and so prevents any one final answer to FIT now and forevermore. But whatever "IT" is, IS - and will prevail. It does not NEED our belief, permission or awareness. But accepting that it is whatever it IS is a certain kind of faith as well as awareness, just in realizing that not having to have all the truth/answers right this moment does not in any way undermine what is true or stop its own progress.

Drawing intellectual OR religious swords to fight others' views is to stymie & block the quest for more of the truth for all involved.

As brilliant as many minds are, it's just possible that human perception is suited to and somewhat limited to human needs more than to fully knowing everything that IS beyond us. The whole history of the quest for enlightenment and knowledge is a testimony to both human brain power and to its limitations. We get snagged on one explanation we latch onto, or one way of searching for the truth and the search gets waylaid right there, far short of the goal. As for our actual preceptors, we might be able to see sound waves and hear colors IF our preceptors were equipped to. But they are not. Doesn't mean that it's impossible just because WE can't do it with our present human equipment.

We can and should be inquisitive, open, alert and aware to all we CAN know without having to say "this is all there is to it" - from whatever position to which we happen to be most amenable, from empirical testing and study to "gut wisdom", because from fixed positions and ideas, practitioners from both/all camps have been entrapped rather more often than their quests have been in progress. Certainly endless arguments between "claim-to-be-know-ers" whose knowledge is at best incomplete, are futile.

As you mention, Joyus, those who claim it's all in God's hands always have the perfect "out" of any argument about it. And those who seek scientific answers are often overly eager to establish the so-far answers they have tested and/or accepted, even those which will be disproven by further scientific tests. So it's an impasse even before it begins. And so - what is the value in that? It's hardly more progressive than ancient humanoids who fought over trivial beliefs and pet views. The time and mental effort would be far better spent searching and the emotional effort in being sensitive to others and alert with all the senses to what is actually in progress. Being a little more philosophical about the improbability of unraveling it all in the near future - or in one's own subjective mind would be a big step in internalizing a more objective ability to view it all. It is not unknowable, perhaps, but in it's fullness, at present it is - to us, especially while engaging in rhetorical silly argument.

Joyus, I read every word of your article and really appreciated it. You write with so much clarity and make it most interesting, as well. I sense a true quest for truth in your thinking and reasoning which I find most refreshing.

I hope your hub doesn't get tagged for containing too much quoted material. I did a hub on "How Agass


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS

OOPS - That's the first time even I have exhausted the alloted length of a comment. What the paragraph was to say was:

"I hope your hub doesn't get tagged for containing too much quoted material. I did a hub on "How Agassiz Taught Me To See" and decided the best way to present it was simply to quote Shaler's own words, as such, in addition to my own lengthy introduction and other background material about both him and Agassiz. But it hardly sooner published than it was tagged for having too much non-original material! Apparently there is no filter for purpose or reasoning for quoting other material in the robotic labeling of "non-original" material in a hub. I finally just removed the quotation & instead included a link and - voila! - the tag was lifted. Very arbitrary, but I was ok with it. I suppose that otherwise, hubs would be invaded by all sorts of plagiarized material, claiming it as original. (shrug). LOL"

You really may want to delete it all! I really did overstate it, and I should know that, as John Kenneth Galbraith said, " A strong case is not improved by overstatement." I guess that so many years of awareness and inquiry have backed up much previously unexpressed thoughts about it. Discourse with knowledgeable, articulate, sensitive and sensible people lets the floodgates open up! Sorry about the deluge!


Joyus Crynoid profile image

Joyus Crynoid 6 years ago from Eden Author

Nellieanna--thanks much for your thoughtful comment. There is clearly much to be said on this matter!-)

I generally agree with you. The truth will show itself, slowly but surely, although I don't think we will ever see it fully. As animals we are limited by our senses. Other animals perceive different aspects of "truth" that we will never experience. Can you imagine what the world smells like to a dog?

I do have issues with one point. You said:

"I find presumptive claims to have found THE answer or explanation -to be my objection to many of the arguments on both sides of the fence. Even in the matter of what should be taught to youngsters in schools. Why shouldn't children, who are the most likely to latch onto one or another explanation as BEING the only definitive explanation, - get exposure to more than one explanation so that at least they will grow into adults with honestly inquiring & open minds capable of discussing all possibilities rationally?"

Well, I agree with the first part--I am suspicious of anyone who claims to have THE answer. However, the beauty of science is that it allows us to rule out some answers (hypotheses) while retaining others. And so it is with evolution vs. creationism. The reason it's not okay to teach the latter AS SCIENCE is that it is NOT science. It is as simple as that. We often hear the phrase "teach the controversy". Well, I might agree with that if there was a controversy here to teach. But there is not--none whatsoever--except in the minds of biblical literalists. As far as legitimate scientists are concerned, macroevolution is a fact--as controversial as the heliocentric model of the solar system, or the fact that the earth is round.

Yes, there are scientists that will state otherwise, but they are considered fringe, and for good reason. I've heard and considered their arguments; and in my opinion as a scientist, they don't hold water. And that is why they don't get published in the peer-reviewed scientific literarture (and no, it is not a conspiracy of censorship by any stretch; it is really hard to get ANYTHING published in science--you have to have all your ducks in a row so to speak).

So, yes, kids should be exposed to differing views, and they are--how can they not be growing up in this world? But they also need to learn what science is and is not, and that is the job of science education. Part of the reason that this argument is still ongoing is that kids are clearly not learning that very well.

So, I agree that scientists can become very religiously dogmatic about their views being a monopoly on truth, which is a bad thing. Richard Dawkins (whom I am no big fan of) epitomizes this arrogant attitude. And scientific hubris has gotten us in to a world of trouble. But science does approach the truth in fits and starts, and allows us to rule out flawed hypotheses. Evolution has passed the test, many times over. Biblical creationism has not. That's why I say that evolution is as much a fact as any other known to science. Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection on the other hand is still subject to debate. It is incomplete at best, and the efficacy of selection as a creative agent remains open to discussion.

So if there is a controversy to be taught in school, it concerns the hows and whys of macroevolution, not whether or not macroevolution has occured. Denying the latter in a science class does a great disservice to kids.

Thanks again for your excellent comments!


Pcunix profile image

Pcunix 6 years ago from SE MA

Some scientists may be dogmatic, but science never is. Some who are religious may not be dogmatic, but religion always is.

It is that simple.


Joyus Crynoid profile image

Joyus Crynoid 6 years ago from Eden Author

Exactly so Pc!


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS

Joyus, you are so gracious. It's a joy to read your clear thoughts & presentations.

I totally agree that religion should not be taught as science. In fact neither should be taught in public schools as doctrines! What is wrong with religion is - religion, the selective choices of “beliefs” which can neither be proven nor disproven effectively. That does not obliterate all that may be yet unknown about the Universe, which is what faith may be called upon to consider if it could sever its bonds with religion. In a way - true faith and true science are twins, each knowing there is more to be known and wanting to pursue it. True faith is as skeptical of half-truth as true science is. Doctrines by nature have formed unwavering conclusions which must be defended and supported by any means available in order to PREVAIL. Really! As if truth doesn’t prevail, whether or not yet known?

Public schools are not for selecltive indoctrination. They are for exposing students to knowledge and ideas and for teaching students to think effectively so as to continue to further the quest for more truth.

Known Science IS an appropriate academic subject to be learned about, whose scientific methods and its verifiable conclusions can be offered to students, even to be tried and tested by them. One of its major tenets should always be suspension of judgement before all the facts are in and those which are in, made known to students in realistic modes.

We don’t need to question that the table of elements is appropriate to be learned, that tiny organisms can be viewed in classroom microscopes, & astronomical phenomena can and should be revealed, etc. Support for demonstrable theories such as evolution are also appropriate studies. Conclusions can be introduced for students' serious consideration, perhaps even presented for further study. Certainly it is not a closed subject with all the facts yet in! Every day it seems new discoveries to support or to cancel some of the conclusions are introduced. And well they should be.

Religious theories can also be mentioned and studied both for their historical background and examined as the prevalent realities they ARE. I emphasize “theories” as the existing realities: theories do exist. I do not endorse what-all the theories claim. Most if not all “evidence” is on the subjective level, which may not discredit it but does remove it from a purely scientific format and places it upon each subjective entity to decide. But the actual existence of religion and any evidence or lack of it is compatible with a scientific method of examination.

And surely knowledge of what is claimed by religion allows a student to look at it objectively. Contrariwise, too frequently, when anything faintly religious is mentioned, too many of those with scientific credentials but with high levels of their own subjectivity, as indicated by snide arrogance, triggers student reaction to question such supposedly “scientific” opinion of the subject of religion, while trying to pass itself off as objective conclusion, an impression which leads them to questioning and possibly discrediting the entire premise of scientific methodology!

Kids tend to see things mostly as black or white anyway, they learn more directly by demonstration than by explanation and they are very sensitive to glaring anomalies in material they’re being fed. They need to be able to see and experience an objective atmosphere rather than sensing that there are competing “sides”, which suggest equality between the sides, as in sports and other familiar models to them. Valid considerations should be respected and invalid ones ignored, but should not be put on “taboo” status. As it is, “methinks thou dost protest too much” is likely to prevail.

Plus perhaps all interpretations of “the knowns” are tentative and too dogmatic a presentation may not only alienate students but may prevent really productive further thinking about them. The basic building blocks of all "things" are nearly identical. So all evidence of anything may be simply in its arrangements and interrelationships of basic energy. Makes one think. No doubt most kids these days have come across some comparable ideas outside the classroom.

Though scientific methods may have ruled out some prevalent considerations, and among themselves these can be taken for granted, - kids probably have not had that opportunity, so will not have not internalized their own conclusions and are quick to question red flags with which they are well acquainted If they find that they can’t be allowed to investigate and to learn the real principles and value of the scientific method in schools in which a controversial/adversarial aura prevails and issues are not given fair shrift, that becomes a basic anomaly they see in the method which they simply cannot stomach. Since they are innately sensitive to gaps and anomalies in whatever is presented to them, especially by authority figures, and if what they see is that science rules out ideas it rejects but which they are well aware exist “in the real world”, while science still identities itself as being a process for learning objectively and finding out whatever makes sense, kids will hesitate when THAT does NOT make sense to them and when it seems to contradict itself. If much attention is being given to “disprove” one rather than consistently demonstrating the realities of each, and If they must choose "science or religion” blindly, - they are torn and likely to reject both and to turn to their own devices to figure things out, - either alone or together and even possibly in more dangerous arenas. It’s an observation. Results tend to support that they do just that. They’ve a mixture of influences, but surely the anomalies in the teaching of science in the schools contribute their part. The main objective in school is not the subjects but the students. What happens to them as a result of how subjects are presented to them?

So even though seasoned scientists may have ruled out creationism as a flawed hypothesis, kids exposed to both have not and being asked to just reject the one and embrace the other does not convince. They’re too smart for that approach. How can they learn to make wise and well-internalized conclusions if denied the process and fed pre-edited and pre-digested conclusions?

They have no problem accepting that the earth is not flat because it’s not being questioned now so there's no friction there. But they are hearing both evolution and creationism in strong everyday terms amid friction and they may just want a chance to look into them in a cool unbiased objective way for themselves. They won't find it in religious circles and apparently not in school in science classes & in typical discussions of these issues, either, where friction holds court. Scientists behaving like hard-boiled eggs (a term that used to be applied to religious fanatics) won’t help them sort it out so they can swallow it, either. Nothing unscientific about applying tested psychology to classroom learning, surely.

Kids and many adults are left in uncomfortable quandary and with today's handy escape mentality, some are as likely to just choose that third alternative and often do. Is that highly predictable and preventable outcome acceptable to a scientific methodology?

There ought to BE no controversies in science, but merely varying subjects for full revealing and study for valid conclusions, especially to those who are just encountering an area. When a question is fully answered (as with flat vs. round earth) it is time to put it to bed. Till then it deserves a truly scientific consideration. Evolution has not been tucked in.

At the close of a full study, should simply be the questions, "What do you think? Do you need further study to reach a rational conclusion?" Credence is appropriate for tangible evidence, but intangible "evidence" is often creditable, as well, - considering the fact that there are many unknowns and - as you so correctly state - some may not even be fully knowable with our sensibilities as human mortals. In fact that is my main premise. Know what IS know


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS

Looks like I did it again. (blush) Please forgive me once more; but I need to finish it, with your indulgence!- - -

"Know what IS knowable; and unknowns which have no answers, leave for another sphere. It’s certainly silly to argue about those when no one really “knows” except that THEY personally and subjectively know that they do or don’t know but believe or disbelieve; and that therefore - it must either exist or not according to the value they have subjectively assigned to it. whew.

Your illustration that to other species, other sensibilities exist which we lack is a perfect example! How intangibles are interpreted by humans are usually the fuzzy areas and when those interpretations become dogmas, they are dangerous. All the more reason to shine light on them rather than sweeping them under the academic rug. SEE what is or isn’t known and knowable and have the humility to accept that it may not be all there is.

What value is it to science to quibble over such things? Yet many scientists seem to focus on the fuzz rather than on what they are really trying to DO. Let science be about more clarification rather than about prolonging more foolish argument in areas without any real proof one way or the other. Religion is no more a be-all or a culprit than science is when it behaves like one. Both try to disclaim their own hypocrites, but both have them hiding within and often, unawares.

(Pcunix - what a magnificent simplification full of underlying truths, though of all words, “never” and “always” are almost universally associated with the contribution of good yet dogmatic statements.)"


Joyus Crynoid profile image

Joyus Crynoid 6 years ago from Eden Author

Nellianna--excellent points all. I agree that the most important thing in science education is to teach kids how to approach questions scientifically and rationally. Evolution should not be taught dogmatically. Evolutionary theory is still being worked out, and the holes should not be covered up or dismissed, but shown for what they are: open questions, still waiting to be addressed, and maybe answered, by a budding or future scientist.

That being said, there is evolutionary theory, which is still developing and not yet "tucked in"; and then there is the settled fact of evolution. That distinction is important and will be the subject of my next hub.

I disagree that just because a lot of folks don't acknowledge evolution, that it should be taught as though it is a tentative conclusion. Because it is not. And this is not based on subjective belief, but on hard science--as hard as the periodic table of the elements.

On the other hand, the fact that so many don't accept this is a testament to how bad science education is in this country. And perhaps part of the problem is, as you say, that it is presented in a dogmatic fashion. I see this in many of my students, who think science is just a catalogue of facts to be learned and regurgitated. And that's about as far from science as you can get.

I do like the idea of presenting creationism in science class, along with the theory of evolution. It would be a great way to illustrate how science has advanced our understanding of biology! Just as comparing Copernicus's model of the solar system to that of Ptolemy illustrates how science advanced our understanding of astronomy. Moreover, it would be an excellent way to teach the difference between scientific and non-scientific approaches to understanding reality.

Thanks for your perspicacious comments, and for reminding us that kids deserve better than what they are currently getting in our schools. We can do much better as teachers; and admitting that there is a good deal that we don't (and may never) know, and that the world can be looked at in different yet equally valid ways, is a good place to start.


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 5 years ago from TEXAS

YES, YES, YES! There is nothing in your reply I have any quarrel with. I didn't intend to suggest that there are no "givens" as a fact of evolution! Perhaps I went overboard in an effort to balance the history of its advent into the educational curricula when it raised such a fuss among the religious. When I was in school myself, it wasn't included. In fact the years from 1928 through the early 1950s were "banned" years in the US. Evolution wasn't taught.

The controversy was hot before the school bans which were in place before I was born in1932, during the early 20s, with the Scopes trial and all the frantic opposition of that decade. I just didn't know about it and perhaps would have been unaffected had I known.

Odd, but it seems to me that if everyone had kept their cool, none of the problems would have been stirred up, but William Jennings Bryant couldn't let it go by unchallenged, so sure was he that it was either evolution or creation as described in Genesis. Just like the furore over a round earth had been. WJB was scared for religion - as though truth were so easily nullified! That doesn't speak well for his faith.

As a kid I doted on my Compton's children's encyclopedia, volume I. It introduced a wide variety of subjects in all fields, from literature to geography, flight, science, math - etc. Just now I had to get it out and look to be sure evolution wasn't mentioned. It was not.

Anyway - I really was fairly unaware of evolution vs. Bible all during my school years. I started 1st grade at 4-1/2 in the fall of 1936, graduated H.S. in 1948 at a very religious school's academy, started college there where religious study was mandatory. I later transferred to Southern Methodist Univ. where I graduated in 1953, having many Bible credits from the other college unrecognized at SMU. My family were only moderately concerned with religion, though Dad grew up a Mennonite but rejected it as a grown man and Mother was a faithful Methodist all her life. I went to church with Mother as a child and loved the music. Neither of them forced issues one way or the other. Both loved science. Dad's favorite was Chemistry and Mother's was Botany. They were both college graduates (1917). Their education was not impacted by the debates either & I never heard any opposition to evolution from them.

So by the time evolution was re-introduced as a subject for public school curricula, I was out of school and my chidden had no pressure. In fact their father was a Junior High Science teacher (though raised in a very fundamental church which he liked to use to control when he deemed it advantageous). But our family accepted evolution as a fact and saw no conflict in it. I really barely heard the opposition which still raged and still rages, it seems. I suppose he was more aware of it, being a teacher. Once my little family and I visited one church in the backwoods of southern Indiana and the rant was against the Boy Scouts of America!! They did too many good works without giving the credit to God! It was too embarrassing - I pitied that preacher and his congregation. I guess it was in the late 1960s.

My "freedom" during those 18 years was mostly limited to my home, my library, my little family, and my creative projects, including prolific writing. I studied diligently, both for my own reasons & in helping him get through school and prepare his lessons for his classes. But I was confined & didn't drive until I was 40 and out of that situation.

I became my own person out of necessity & a major part of it was & is my view of life & what it means. As a kid I found a dinosaur footprint in the solid rock bottom of a large canyon on the ranch where I spent every summer of my youth and find fossils there and on the ranch I now own. There are pictographs in caves which far predate recorded history. And even earlier, the area was a part of the shallow ocean which once covered this continent. Those solid rocks were soft sea-floor then and they are filled with many, many shell fossils of extinct sea life. To me it's totally unbelievable that people quarrel with records of ancient life and the obvious progression of life forms through an evolving process. The evidence is as clear as the pictures of a round Earth viewed from space stations.

But religions are set in "speaking where the Bible speaks & silent where it is silent" in a literal way. No mention of those early humans, no mention of a progressively evolving earth, so they feel compelled to reject it in spite of evidences quite showing these steps and progressions. There's really nothing amiss but their understanding.

Some other equally dogmatic religions actually point to pride to their holy books' inclusion of what is interpreted as a knowledge of evolution long before Darwin! So silly are the arguments!!

in any case, it is essential that students KNOW what the thinking is about these matters. And more that they learn what is known facts. Last thing I'd want to see is for religious interpretations to be presented as scientific fact. That's what fired up the furore in the first place!

If there is anything to Moses penning of the origin of the universe in a few verses of his first chapter, it is just to set a background for the "rest of the story" he was trying to tell and explain. How he came by or arrived at his timetable is anyone's guess, but it was the best he could figure out and come up with, surely. Science in Egypt may have been a little more advanced and if his biography is factual, he may have had some training there. But there was not real study of "Science" as we have come to have and know it. If God talked to Moses directly - then he's been fairly quiet on the subject ever since! One might conclude that there was not intention or need to explain much more. Certainly very little was "revealed" about the cosmos and there is yet much to be learned about it; indeed about the whole physical make up of the Earth, for goshsakes.

We're in our "youth" of trying to probe the other planets in this tiny solar system in this infinitesimal galaxy on the outskirts of what we think is a universe which may only be a fraction of all that "is"! We still know limited about our own oceans and planet!! We can and should study it and seize happily upon any real information which sheds light on its history - and even more, we need to be very mindful of its future.

Getting bogged down in silly controversies seems to me to be the height of folly, with so much to be learned and so much known which can be put to use in better understanding of our world, our universe and our own species, which is sadly neglected in many critical areas.

But I suppose that is part of our heritage - to get bogged down in relative trivialities and blinded to major profundities. Kids need to be exposed to some real vision as well as facts and dogmas. If that happened, it's likely that much faster upgrading of our species would result. And fully understanding what is already known is a major step in that kind of progress, in my humble opinion.


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 5 years ago from TEXAS

Wow - looks like I may have made it above the word-cutoff this time. You're very kind to allow me to post!


Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 5 years ago from The Fatal Shore

Children do need more than facts.

In Australia there is no real battle between creationism and evolution...most of us take the latter for granted. In Australian schools chidren are given an option to receive RE (religious education) and those who don't are left to while away the hour in relative boredom doing nothing much in a separate classroom.

Interestingly, a couple of innovative schools have introduced a child-friendly version of philosophy into this timeslot, as an alternative for those not receiving RE and the response has been extremely positive. The children are engaged iand actively participating in the discussions. Kids do often think about the meaningful questions, even at a primary level.

The classes are geared toward teaching children how to think, rather what to think. I'd love to see this take off and become widespread in schools. Here is an example, of both an ethics class and RE class, if anyone is interested. The difference between the two classrooms is very marked:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=igAOh0DKMZY

(The clips are from a documentary made by a relatively progressive religious program here called Compass.)


Joyus Crynoid profile image

Joyus Crynoid 5 years ago from Eden Author

Nellieanna--wonderful comment! I love the historical perspective and personal recollections. As far as I'm concerned your insightful commentary has elevated this hub to a whole new level. Thank you!

Jane--sounds like you've got a good thing going over there in your schools. The youtube link is quite interesting. We do have some innovative schools here as well, but they are few and far between.

We need to engage kids with the big (existential) questions, and provide them with a wide variety of cultural perspectives. If we do that while teaching science in a way that that emphasizes open questions and the scientific process as much as factual knowledge, then we can't go wrong.

Of course, education in this country is not likely to improve any time soon:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGL8FEMc378


Pcunix profile image

Pcunix 5 years ago from SE MA

America really is a backward country in so many ways..


Joyus Crynoid profile image

Joyus Crynoid 5 years ago from Eden Author

Sigh--sad but true Pc. Unfortunately 30 years ago we were offered the opportunity to take a good hard look at ourselves and make some changes to help bring about a better future, but instead the country overwhelmingly voted to look backward. And we've been moving in that direction ever since.


Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 5 years ago from The Fatal Shore

Haha..I enjoyed the Carlin clip. Governments do want kids educated, but unfortunately through a tiered system it seems.

This is probably not really relevant to the topic but I'm gonna say it anyway. Aus. State schools aren't as good as they used to be. 30 years ago here, only a minority went to a private school and standards in the government schools were excellent. Over the years we've seen an erosion in funding and a 'voucher system' introduced to help parents pay for private schools. As a result there's been a mass exodus to the private system. Of course when more and more middle-class parents abandon government schools, they take their resources and input with them. Meanwhile all the problem kids are left to State schools. I don't object to public schooling, but not at the expense of the government system. /steps off soapbox.


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 5 years ago from TEXAS

Thanks, Joyus. I'm enjoying and learning from the hub and that's a good sign of its value. Hope it's the same for others. Such thoughtful comments from all who are participating!

It's distressing that education and its standards do seem to have gone retrograde and then just sort of splattered "every which way" once the furore was calmer. Even the basic knowledge of "the 3 Rs" seems to have become secondary to whatever is being taught or learned, which sometimes raises doubts about its value. Fortunately, I guess, kids are exposed to a lot of knowledge everywhere else, but whether not they learn to sort and apply it well is questionable at times, too. They do need intelligent guidance, but not by rigid and half-blind guides.

There seem to have been no winners in the science-religion debate, if it's measured by students' understanding or interest at more than a superficial level, or else they are recruited into the rigid thinking paths. These youngsters are the future. Hope they all survive the deadly grips of bullying and other unthinkable patterns which are becoming all too frequent and devastating in the wake of all the hubbub. They'll need to be better prepared to lead in better directions - but how can they learn in such chaos? One wonders what it will take for reason to happen. Perhaps better examples would be a start . . .


Joyus Crynoid profile image

Joyus Crynoid 5 years ago from Eden Author

Jane--that sounds very similar to what's happening over here. The right-wingers have been pushing for vouchers for years, and many would happily abolish public education, which they view as a liberal/progressive/socialist/atheist conspiracy to indoctrinate the next generation. On the other hand, public education IS pretty dismal, and its quality correlates with economic demographics, so it is argued that vouchers would give lower-income families more options.

Nellieanna--setting better examples is definitely a place to start. Unfortunately, the examples that are being set by the movers and shakers in the financial industry and government do not afford much hope, especially when they get away with (or even get rewarded for) their malfeasance. And don't get me started on bullying. Civilization is run by bullies. Always has been; probably always will be. Kids just emulate what they see in adults. Sigh...


Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 5 years ago from The Fatal Shore

It's a vicious circle Joyous, as government schools become more degraded no-one wants to send their children there. The rational is choice...but if you dont have the money, there is no choice.

I have to make a big *duh* correction here...we don't have vouchers...there's only been talk of it. The money is given directly to private schools. I should check my facts before I get on those soapboxes.


Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 5 years ago from The Fatal Shore

@Nellianna...I'm learning too and especially enjoyed reading about your education. How fantastic that you have found fossils on your ranch.


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 5 years ago from TEXAS

Jane, thanks! Yes - I have some of those fossils sitting around the den I'm in, in fact. The ranch was once covered with original inhabitants' arrowheads, as well. It's not in the least a very populated area, but still, over decades, people's collecting these treasures has all but depleted them. My brother had an enormous collection he gathered as a boy - all sizes and shapes. Amazing work when one considers these people carved them with other primitive hand tools out of hard flint, and shaped them into amazingly streamlined and aerodynamic, perfectly balanced forms.

Still find abundant shell fossils, though. Also, there are some nearby sedimentary deposits one can see displayed in highway cuts through hills and these are like reading a map of some of the geological history of the area. And what is amazing is to see some of thiese relatively thin layers which were originally horizontal but have been pushed up into steep angles by volcanic eruptions from deeper down. The layers still retain their mutual association but at these sharp angles, sometimes overlapping other mini systems pushed from a different direction and intersecting or entangling with the others.

The patterns formed and even some of the subtle variations of colors and accents are incredible. A clever textile designer could get some astonishing ideas for textile patterns from the intricacies of some of these.


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 5 years ago from TEXAS

Joyus, yes, sigh, indeed! It could be disheartening to watch. Granted such things have been going on since the bullies set up the rules for civilization, making sure they benefit most at the expense of others who didn't think of it first.

Those examples were not the ones I referred to, however. I have this weird notion that people's habits start on a smaller stage and scale, such as at home and that they unfold and take shape over the growing period of a person's life particularly. And also I perceive that the most important emulation of people's lives are of those family members they observe doing mundane things all along in the home and as they gradually emerge into ever expanding circles of human interaction and accumulating as the days go by.

Then the ways and habits of the waves of the new people who enter, participate and become leaders set who the tone for larger and ever expanding spheres and systems of a society. Groups of families make larger groups of communities and they branch off into the many areas of human endeavor, with governing bodies taking care of business from their ivory towers and economic bodies taking care of the purse strings.

The real starting place for improvement is seldom at the top, only to have the positions refilled by no better examples than those deposed. It must start at the lowest level and filtrate upward.

These parts of a society aren't machinations, they are colonies made up of human beings primarily. So if people with high standards grow out of high-standard families, form the groups and principalities and run for office and assume leadership, etc. - it improves the overall complexion of the society. On the other hand If kids who developed from indifferent or poor environments at home where they learned to bully successfully there and in school - as they emerge to run and be elected by others of like minds or those who developed out of indifferent and uninformed early backgrounds, then the higher offices will be filled and run by a bunch of hoodlums in Armani suits.

It's a powerful case for good education but education starts at birth and those first couple of years of life literally set a tone for all the years to follow. So as long as parents put material or other values ahead of the business of their own child rearing and/or fail to be on hand to set the examples, the people resources will be of lower quality rather than higher calibre and the leaders will have to be be drawn from that pool.

Then at the higher more visible levels of government and commerce, examples become even the more detrimental as the overall tone becomes set by whatever type leadership holds sway.

People must realize that change is in small, almost insignificant areas and manifestations which accumulate upon their own foundations more often than changes ever occur in large, spectacular events which transform a species, a society, or a government suddenly. Change creeps in on little feet. When everything is composed of and depends on people, how people develop matters most.


Joyus Crynoid profile image

Joyus Crynoid 5 years ago from Eden Author

Nellieanna--YES! Change grows from the bottom up. And from my perspective EVERYTHING is a matter of development. I have a theory about that, which I'm trying to articulate in bits and pieces in my hubs, as well as in my work...

The problem is that when a system--be it an individual, an ecosystem, an organization, a society, or a civilization--develops to (and eventually past) maturity, it becomes an impediment to change, severely constraining what can and cannot occur. Under such circumstances REAL change will generally not happen without catastrophic collapse of the larger system. Examples of that phenomenology can be seen in recovery from addiction (e.g. the addict having to "hit rock bottom" before changing), ecological recoveries after mass extinction (e.g., mammalian evolution, which was "suppressed" as long as dinosaurs ruled), and the rise of new civilizations after the collapse of empires (e.g. Euorpe after the collapse of Rome).

Unfortunately, I think that industrial civilization has developed past maturity into senescence. The contemporary socio-economic mentality had its formative years over two centuries ago, and is not well equipped to deal with the complexities of the reality that it created. And we are beginning to experience the inevitable rude awakening.

The way I see it, the best we can do as individuals is to plant the seeds of the kind of change we want to see happen, and do all we can to nuture them as they grow. For me that means teaching, writing, and trying to set a good example.

Sorry, I guess I'm rambling. Thank you for another excellent comment!


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago

Well . . . at least I am "esteemed!" :D

I don't know about this phrase you use "the fundamentalist cult of creationism." You use this to disparage. A cult is a religious group that is unorthodox. The view that God created the universe and all life in it is entirely orthodox (for Jews, Christians, and Muslims) and therefore cannot be a cult. Billions of believers would represent a pretty big cult. You admit that "a staggeringly high percentage of people" believe God created the universe and everything in it (to your dismay).

I don't where you got this "strategy of entrapment" concept. I promise "entrapment" never crossed my mind when I wrote my article.

You are right that science and experience are ever changing. But the Truth does not change—ever. That is the problem I have with presenting to school children "evolving" truths as set Truth.

Science admits uncertainty? Good. So does the Christian Faith, only we call it Mystery. There is much we don't know.

We are both opposed to brainwashing. But by excluding all views from public schools EXCEPT atheistic secular humanism—that is brainwashing at its finest. All I ever asked for was for both views to be presented. You can't call that brainwashing. It is giving students the freedom to decide for themselves without the awesome authority of the state favoring one view, which is a religion.

You say we "want our 'cult' admitted to schools." Cult again. Our 'cult' was fully in schools until 1962. Do you honestly think we are graduating smarter kids now? Do SAT scores refute that? Tell me the damage done by that "cult" in the schools in the 1950s. You do not see the utter degradation of our society ever since?

The clever ploy by hard core atheists is to tell kids that there are a dozen or so possibilities how the universe and life got to be here. The only "possibility" excluded is God. Even space aliens are a scientific possibility. Do you think space aliens planting life on earth is more scientific that God creating it? At least in school they could list the dozen or so possibilities INCLUDING God as one of them. But that's not good enough for atheists. Any hare-brained idea but God is "science."

Your article is great! I enjoyed reading it. In some sections, you make total sense. Well done!


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago

I love the quotes from Julian Jayner. Deep and profound. I read them three times, something I don't often do. Thank you for turning me on to the thinker. He wrote:

"The real chasm was between the political authority of the church and the individual authority of experience."

He was talking about the Galileo controversy here and actually, if you read the history carefully, it was a chasm between Galileo and 'individual experience.' One of the problems people had accepted Galileo's ideas was that their experience told them the sun rises and sets every day, and that they were standing still.

Jayner wrote: "And the real question was whether we are to find our lost authorization through an apostolic succession from ancient prophets who heard divine voices, or through searching the heavens of our own experience right now in the objective world without any priestly intercession."

Not really. The real question is whether we believe God or men about the origins and meaning of life and the universe.

jayner wrote: "In the second millennium B.C., we stopped hearing the voices of gods. In the first millennium B.C., those of us who still heard the voices, our oracles and prophets, they too died away."

This is completely false. God talks to millions of people every day to this day. I have heard his voice many times.

Jayner wrote: "And in the second millennium A.D., these writings lose their authority. The Scientific Revolution turns us away from the older sayings to discover the lost authorization in Nature."

This is completely false. In the second millennium the Catholic Church was turned away from by many—TOWARD Scripture. And the Scientific Revolution, which I have written about, in no way was anti-God. The complete opposite is true. The scientists of the Scientific Revolution sound like preachers in some of their writings.

Even though I take issue with some of Jayner's specifics, I am no way trying to diminish his brilliance.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago

I see that one of your commenters said about people who believe in God: "a cancer that must be destroyed for the good of humanity."

This was exactly the view of Josef Stalin, Chairman Mao, and Pol Pot.

Nice. Very nice.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago

Julian Jayner went on to write:

“These scientisms, as I shall call them, are clusters of scientific ideas which come together and almost surprise themselves into creeds of belief, scientific mythologies which fill the very felt void left by the divorce of science and religion in our time. . . . And they share with religions many of their most obvious characteristics: a rational splendor that explains everything, a charismatic leader or succession of leaders who are highly visible and beyond criticism, a series of canonical texts which are somehow outside the usual arena of scientific criticism, certain gestures of idea and rituals of interpretation, and a requirement of total commitment."

Utterly brilliant!!!

He goes on: "In return the adherent receives what the religions had once given him more universally: a world view, a hierarchy of importances, and an auguring place where he may find out what to do and think, in short, a total explanation of man. And this totality is obtained not by actually explaining everything, but by an encasement of its activity, a severe and absolute restriction of attention, such that everything that is not explained is not in view...."

Now we are talking!!


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago

You wrote: "the beauty of science is that it allows us to rule out some answers (hypotheses) while retaining others."

Surely you see that the only "hypothesis" ruled out by your "science" is God. Why is the existence of a God who created the universe and all life an invalid hypothesis? Has it been disproved?

You wrote: "As far as legitimate scientists are concerned, macroevolution is a fact--as controversial as the heliocentric model of the solar system, or the fact that the earth is round."

Really? You mean the origin of life and the universe has been proved to the extent of the "earth is round?" The earth is observable from space. What happened 13 billion years ago (whatever!) is not observable.

You wrote: "The right-wingers have been pushing for vouchers for years, and many would happily abolish public education, which they view as a liberal/progressive/socialist/atheist conspiracy to indoctrinate the next generation. On the other hand, public education IS pretty dismal."

You are absolutely right. And the right-wingers are right. If the schools exists to push the religion of atheism (secular humanism) on our children, they should be abolished. Or parents should receive vouchers so their children might escape the brainwashing.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago

I'll tell you the sweetest, smartest, most sensible person in this whole debate: Nellieanna. Here are excerpts of her words:

"Why shouldn't children . . . get exposure to more than one explanation so that at least they will grow into adults with honestly inquiring & open minds capable of discussing all possibilities rationally? Instead, ruling out everything but one view turns them into closed-minded grownups unable to rationally discuss any evidence which is contrary to their beliefs (and science can become a rigid belief, too!)

This is certainly not really truly "scientific" or rational OR reasonable in the least! It's just an "other" totalitarian way of imposing one and only one view and trying to make sure the future generation of thinkers is fixed and rigid. to outlaw teaching that there ARE other views.

Public schools are not for selective indoctrination. They are for exposing students to knowledge and ideas and for teaching students to think effectively so as to continue to further the quest for more truth.

Religion is no more a be-all or a culprit than science is when it behaves like one."

Amen!


Joyus Crynoid profile image

Joyus Crynoid 5 years ago from Eden Author

James--I appreciate your stopping by and commenting. You said:

"I don't know about this phrase you use 'the fundamentalist cult of creationism.' You use this to disparage. A cult is a religious group that is unorthodox. The view that God created the universe and all life in it is entirely orthodox (for Jews, Christians, and Muslims) and therefore cannot be a cult. Billions of believers would represent a pretty big cult."

In my view all religions are cults. Size doesn't matter. Perhaps the word has taken on negative connotations, but I don't mean it disparagingly. The word has the same root as 'culture', and is defined at Dictionary.com as follows:

"1. a particular system of religious worship, esp. with reference to its rites and ceremonies.

2. an instance of great veneration of a person, ideal, or thing, esp. as manifested by a body of admirers: the physical fitness cult.

3. the object of such devotion.

4. a group or sect bound together by veneration of the same thing, person, ideal, etc.

5. Sociology . a group having a sacred ideology and a set of rites centering around their sacred symbols.

6. a religion or sect considered to be false, unorthodox, or extremist, with members often living outside of conventional society under the direction of a charismatic leader.

7. the members of such a religion or sect."

1-5 seem to fit Christianity (and the other major religions), no? And 6-7 would probably apply to any religion in its infancy.

You said:

"I don't where you got this "strategy of entrapment" concept. I promise "entrapment" never crossed my mind when I wrote my article."

It wasn't you; it was your advocate Spiderpam. You've got to admit she lives up to her name.

You said:

"We are both opposed to brainwashing. But by excluding all views from public schools EXCEPT atheistic secular humanism—that is brainwashing at its finest. All I ever asked for was for both views to be presented. You can't call that brainwashing. It is giving students the freedom to decide for themselves without the awesome authority of the state favoring one view, which is a religion."

First of all, I don't agree that secular humanism is equivalent to atheism, nor do I agree that atheism is being taught in school. Evolution is completely neutral in regards to the existence or non-existence of God. You can be of any faith and still accept evolution. Look at Francis Collins. You raise a false dichotomy.

"You say we "want our 'cult' admitted to schools." Cult again. Our 'cult' was fully in schools until 1962. Do you honestly think we are graduating smarter kids now? Do SAT scores refute that? Tell me the damage done by that "cult" in the schools in the 1950s. You do not see the utter degradation of our society ever since?"

Education has definitely gone downhill, but it has nothing to do with religion being taken out of science class. If anything it's because science and other subjects are not being properly taught. And kids are not being paid the attention they deserve.

"The clever ploy by hard core atheists is to tell kids that there are a dozen or so possibilities how the universe and life got to be here. The only 'possibility' excluded is God. Even space aliens are a scientific possibility. Do you think space aliens planting life on earth is more scientific that God creating it? At least in school they could list the dozen or so possibilities INCLUDING God as one of them. But that's not good enough for atheists. Any hare-brained idea but God is 'science.'"

I disagree. For the record, I don't find the extraterrestrial origin-of-life scenario to be compelling. And yes, there are lots of hare-brained ideas out there, many of them put out by scientists. But 'God' is not a scientifically tractable concept, and therefore has no place in a science class. That does not mean however that God is excluded by science. I doubt very much that any public science education program actually teaches that God does not exist.


Joyus Crynoid profile image

Joyus Crynoid 5 years ago from Eden Author

James--I'm glad you like the quotes from Jaynes (note the spelling however;-).

Regarding the comment from Pc that you quoted, I think you missed the point. The "cancer" isn't people who believe in God--it is people who try to force their narrow belief on others (as, for example, do the Taliban).

In your next comment you said:

"Surely you see that the only "hypothesis" ruled out by your "science" is God. Why is the existence of a God who created the universe and all life an invalid hypothesis? Has it been disproved?"

No, I don't see that at all. Science has not ruled out "God". As I said before, God and evolution are completely compatible. What science HAS ruled out is the literal interpretation of Genesis, which is not the same thing.

Continuing your comment:

"You wrote: 'As far as legitimate scientists are concerned, macroevolution is a fact--as controversial as the heliocentric model of the solar system, or the fact that the earth is round.'

Really? You mean the origin of life and the universe has been proved to the extent of the "earth is round?" The earth is observable from space. What happened 13 billion years ago (whatever!) is not observable."

First of all, macroevolution does not concern the origin of life or the universe--it only pertains to the development of life on earth after the origin. So that is only ~4.5 billion years. What happened thereafter is observable, because it has been recorded in the fossil record and in the DNA record, which human beings (amazingly enough) have learned to read and understand for what they are.

I agree with you about Nellieanna :-)

Thanks much for reading and commenting!


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 5 years ago from TEXAS

Gasp!


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 5 years ago from TEXAS

I didn't get to finish my comment before my comment page vanished and came back without an edit opportunity. I wanted to continue. . .

It's apparent that I'm out of my league. But it's quite encouraging that two views of the physical and possibly the nonphysical realities we can experience individually are discussed in a "let us reason together" kind of way. (a premise from biblical text with which few could find fault but perhaps fewer could be found to put to use very often).

Perhaps if more of this kind of discussion had ensued 60 to 90 years ago, more reasonable understanding might have also ensued and many school kids would have a balanced view of geophysical history as well as spiritual and would be much freer to think and to trust not only teachers but their own minds. Surely the greatest damage done to kids had less to do with points of order or with claims and more to do with seeing people they were expected to respect and follow to be stuck in impasse and unable to "reason together" for the best interests of people and for truth to get in to it edgewise at least. Truth at this level being that there are things known and things unknown.

As joyus said, evolution is neutral. The evidence in rocks and the other discoveries is scientific evidence, not faith There are evidences in people's personal experience and by faith of spiritual entities. That is the essence of religious experience, actually. They cannot be put to any scientific tests but that does not mean they cannot be. But schools are not there to teach either as faith or to make claims based on faith. If they were, there would be no way to choose "which" faith to support. In a diverse society, it would be absurd.

Perhaps faith is as varied as there are human beings. Teaching what is known by reason of empirical verification is what education must do, leaving faith matters to others.

This is not incredibly complicated when considered in rational and calm terms.

Possibly a small chid could boil it down to its elements and come up with a reasonable solution.

I'm reminded of the Dad who tried unsuccessfully to stop smoking. Finally after numerous tries and then defeats, his young son said, "Dad why don't you just not put it up to your lips?"

Maybe a lot of this "stuff" should not be put up to lips. :-)

You are both too kind and I appreciate the words about my input. I really have no axes to grind. Hugs.


Joyus Crynoid profile image

Joyus Crynoid 5 years ago from Eden Author

Thank you Nellianna for your wise words:

"Perhaps faith is as varied as there are human beings. Teaching what is known by reason of empirical verification is what education must do, leaving faith matters to others.

This is not incredibly complicated when considered in rational and calm terms.

Possibly a small chid could boil it down to its elements and come up with a reasonable solution."

Absolutely--small children can and do:

http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2010/12/19/a-holida...


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 5 years ago from The English Midlands

That was very interesting ~ on a number of levels ~ and it made me feel a little less like exploding with frustration :)


Joyus Crynoid profile image

Joyus Crynoid 5 years ago from Eden Author

Trish, I can appreciate your frustration, and am glad this helped ease it a bit! Thanks for stopping by.


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 5 years ago

Lot of info here. I am not convinced that man can evolve. In thousands of years"man" has just sophisticated "his" weapons. Weapons and dogma evolve but I see no signs of evolving in "man".

As for religions, I will repeat my same old spiel: Every religion has a version of the Golden Rule. do unto others as you would have them do unto you. When any religion abandons THIS law above laws - it's a cult. Any political group that abandons this basic law of humanity is a cult and a dangerous one.

The Golden Rule is the common ground for every belief and including non-believers.

When resources are hoarded by a few - that's a dangerous cult. The evil in this world is too strong for Christianity. The evil is too strong for the Islamic faith. The evil is too strong for atheists. This common ground of the Golden Rule is where people must unite and DAMN all political and religious affiliation if that affiliation does not fight this evil that intends to enslave the world. Follow the money. If the Golden Rule is not upheld there is little to uphold. Great hub! God bless!


Joyus Crynoid profile image

Joyus Crynoid 5 years ago from Eden Author

Micky Dee, I agree with you 100%. The Golden Rule is the key to the kingdom. It is so simple, yet so ignored... Thanks so much for reminding us what matters.


Baileybear 5 years ago

Joyus - 'that' hub generated a lot of hubs, it seems. Thanks for sharing your honest introspection.

If I had to choose between religion and science, I'd choose science. Do I accept all science blindly? No, I don't. I think some of it is corrupt and rubbish, eg 'global warming'. I think even more religion is corrupted.

Keeping an open mind is the best way to be. Those with rigid views with their minds fixed in concrete are frustrating to dialogue with. Same with those that only think in terms of black-and-white - those are also the ones that resort to name calling.

You might have found the dialogue with James civil. I found it frustrating. I thought it was very cruel how he attacked those that accepted evolution, including those that also had belief in God.

James has called me Beelzebub, and those that disagree with him 'demon-possessed'. I don't have much tolerance for people with his narrow mindset.


Joyus Crynoid profile image

Joyus Crynoid 5 years ago from Eden Author

Baileybear--

"If I had to choose between religion and science, I'd choose science."

I don't think you have to choose, unless you are a religious literalist. Similarly, science can be taken too far as a framework for developing a rigid worldview. Belief in anything becomes a bad thing when it becomes fixed on a single literal interpretation, because it tends to squash curiosity.

"Do I accept all science blindly? No, I don't. I think some of it is corrupt and rubbish, eg 'global warming'."

I don't think global warming is rubbish. It is a fact that the climate is changing. And there is good reason to expect that it would in response to all the carbon we are pumping into the atmosphere. As for being 'corrupt'--there is plenty of corruption in every human enterprise.

"Keeping an open mind is the best way to be."

Indeed!

"You might have found the dialogue with James civil."

It seems that the civility is rapidly degrading now that the shoe is on the other foot!-) In my Evolution is a Fact hub I am now accused of being "inspired by demons" and "having the blackest of hearts". (Sigh) I guess it was bound to come to that... Frustrating indeed!


Baileybear 5 years ago

Joyus - looks like James is having a field-day with his name calling lately. So self-righteous - a sad and angry little man


Joyus Crynoid profile image

Joyus Crynoid 5 years ago from Eden Author

Baileybear--I think under the circumstances it is best to "forgive them, for they know not what they do."

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