the original kStyle blog.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

War of the Fishes

I'm sick of Jesus and Darwin. I'm sick of their gangsta fish trash-talking each other, I'm sick of the textbook stickers in Cobb County, and I'm sick of all these bunched-up panties clouding everyone's thinking.

Listen carefully, because I'm only going to say this once.

Let's start with you Nonthinking...oops, I mean Fundamentalist...Christians because, frankly, you're an easier target and I need the warm-up. Stop pushing your wacky religious agenda on everyone else. You don't have to believe in evolution. But we don't have to believe in your narrow-minded, scary-ass perception of the universe and the mean-ass Creator you say runs it. The Jesus I met reading the Bible is a really nice guy, one who even welcomed a prostitute into his posse, without lecturing her on Why She Was Wrong. And the creation myth you all spout as Fact? It's a story, a poetic fable to illustrate that we humans are creted by the Divine and should act like it. All you ever DO, it seems, is to yell and kick and scream and throw big tantrums about how everyone is going to Hell because we don't believe in the same narrow-minded nonsense you spout as Truth. And don't even get me started on this lame-ass, selfish form of Christianity you spout, where your personal relationship with "Jesus" is more important than social justice. So go serve the poor and be useful.

OK, Scientists: let's face it, evolution IS a theory. It's a very useful one, but a THEO-RY. Say it with me, TH-EO-RY. Would it kill one of you to say to the Wacky Christians, you're right, it's a theory, but it makes a damn lot of sense. You are NOT helping matters by behaving the same way these childish religious zealots are. Oops, did I say you're behaving like zealots? MORE-ov-er, the Wacky Nonthinking Zealots (as opposed to the Thinking Zealots--that's you) are doing other, more stinky things in the name of Jesus, like blocking same-sex marriage. So please, for Darwin's sake, bring a little rationality to the table, because the other side sure ain't going to. Do what you need to in order to keep teaching evolution, but stop being such hard-heads. It wouldn't KILL you to point out that evolution does not preclude a Divine Creator, which might be enough to shut the Nonthinking Zealots up. And why not help fight the Christian Wackjobs on a more human rights level, like getting involved in the SSM debate? Eh?


Blogger Eric said...

Well said, kStyle. Good stuff. I have one point to throw into the mix, and I say it in defense of the Thinking Scientists: a "theory" in scientific jargon is a term of art; it means something more specific than its general definition of a supposition-with-evidence. In science, a theory is the best explanation for an event or series of events: it's the result of hypotheses being tested. The Christian right has exploited this linguistic loophole for all it's worth, continuously beating the drum of, "See? Even THEY admit it's just a theory!", when in fact in scientific parlance, a theory is about as exacting and proven as one can get (cf. the theory of relativity).

Also, I might add that many scientists I've read on this subject freely argue that there's nothing inconsistent about evolution and the presence of a Creator at the same time. In many ways it's the most intellectually sustainable position in our current political climate, and I think science has done a pretty good job, overall, of making the case that beliving in God does not preclude an acknowledgment of scientific fact.

Okay, now that I've gotten all that off my chest I'll say it again: really good post, Karen. I dig the frankness and humor you've brought to the subject.

10:52 AM  
Blogger Ann said...

Well, technically, evolution isn't a theory. We can watch it happen. What's theoretical is how much of an impact it had (and is having, and will have) on the development of the universe as we know it. But that's nitpicky.

The concept of "intelligent design" is an extremely interesting one--but it belongs in the philosophical and/or theological spheres, not science. (Whose fault is it that these subjects, which would promote introspection and thoughtfulness and all that good stuff, aren't taught in schools?) There was a biologist on MPR this morning who asserted just that. He said he believes in evolution AND in an order or purpose to the universe, but he approaches them differently, and it makes no sense to argue the latter within the landscape of the former. I don't share his belief system, but I think he's right-on when it comes to the context of the issues.

And then there was the woman they interviewed who said (essentially), "Schools shouldn't teach evolution because I don't like having to explain to my kids why evolution is wrong and the Bible is right." She's pretty much a lost cause.

3:31 PM  
Blogger kStyle said...

The concept of "intelligent design" is an extremely interesting one--but it belongs in the philosophical and/or theological spheres, not science.This is true, but why shouldn't these disciplines engage in more dialogue? Why do we need to create arbitrary divisions between fields of inquiry? Wouldn't science, theology, and philosophy all be the richer for examining and incorporating each other's ideas?

The problem I have with science, the main one, is that it's generally obsessed with controlling all but one factor, which the scientist then manipulates to test results. The trouble with this approach is twofold: 1. as much as the scientist tries to control all but one factor, it is impossible, because 2. real life does not happen in a vaccuum. I believe that the Enlightenment was an incredibly good thing, but that now we have gone too far towards a mechanistic view of the universe, and we need to broaden our perspective.

Moreover, although we can see evolution working...what if it's not actually evolution? Yes, evolution IS the best model we have now, but we could be missing the boat entirely. Flat earth was a great working model. So was Earth as center of the universe. Evolution is less quantifiable than other theories, such as water = two hydrogens + 1 oxygen. And furthermore, there is always the Heidenberg Uncertainty Principle to reckon with. (The presence of the observer changes the observed.) You could extrapolate the Heindeberg U.C. to say, if you're looking at the world from an evolutionary perspective, it acts that way. If you're looking at the world from a creationist perspective, it acts accordingly. And now I'm really rambling, but this could also be a strong argument for the power of optimism: things might just turn out however you expect them to.

9:49 PM  
Blogger kStyle said...

and Eric, thanks for defending the scientists. It got me thinking that really, it's neither the scientists nor the true theologians who are the problem here, but rather the laypeople who fancy themselves scientists or theologians (and buy those goddamn fish). Reminds me of a favorite line from Center Stage, when Eric O. Jones says, "I like ballet because it has nothing to do with the people. Give me tiaras and boys in tights any day."

9:58 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

Coupla things:

1. The problem with "intelligent design" is that it isn't a theory or a model or even an actual idea that's based in anything: it's a slogan, for the most part, one cooked up by right-wing ideologues as a euphemism for "creationism." They figured out that you can't teach "creationism" in the public schools, so they slapped a different name on it and collected some meager scientific writings to back it up. It's a concept derived not from experience, study, observation, or faith, but rather from a political power grab.

2. I disagree that evolution is just the best model we have now, akin to previous models that later turned out to be false. The "flat earth" idea was actually not, it turns out, a very good model at all, since no actual data supported it and everything about it was actually fictional. Same with the earth at the center of the universe. Evolution, far from being just the best explanation going, has mountains of evidence in its favor, which doesn't mean it isn't always being modified (that is what makes it a scientific theory, that it is constantly modified), but the big picture of it is absolutely provable and absolutely proven.

Now, none of that precludes the existence of God, or even takes a side on it one way or the other. But if there is a God, "intelligent design" doesn't get any closer to the truth than anything else. In part because, I like to believe, God would never reveal Himself in truth to any religious-right nutballs.

Finally I must say this: as the first person ever to quote Eric O. Jones (or any character from that wonderful, wonderful movie) in a debate about evolution, kStyle, you have just gone up about a thousand points in my estimation--not that you weren't already hitting the ceiling there before. But that particular kind of Karenism just makes me realize how much better being on campus again would be if you were here too. :)

10:09 AM  
Blogger kStyle said...

Eric, glad you liked the Eric O. ("as in Oprah") Jones reference. :)

I hear what you're saying about evolution. I'm not arguing against the theory of evolution; I'm arguing against how dogmatic people are on both sides of the evolution war. My point is just, everyone could be totally wrong. We could all be riding in the toenail fungus of a beer-drinking purple raptor. So everyone relax.

12:31 PM  
Blogger kStyle said...

And wait--I reckon that the Flat Earth and Geocentric theories were good at the time. They were based upon observation of the world. Without tools, it DOES appear that the sun, moon, and stars revolve around the earth (Evidence: the sun rises on one side and sets on the other every day), and it DOES appear that the earth is flat. Once we had more sophisticated tools, we could say, oh wait, we've made this huge leap in understanding and we were wrong. It's possible that a similar leap in understanding will knock all theories of evolution AND god out of the picture.

I just read a fascinating article in this month's Technology Review, "The Darwinian Interlude". Happily, it's available online:


12:42 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

I think it's possible to talk about science AND leave the door open for more evidence AND keep intelligent design in a separate sphere.

While I agree that new data might crop up to disprove evolution, we should wait for it to come before we start speculating. I mean, if we start talking about the possibility of God in science, why not talk about every single other possibility that exists as well? Maybe the universe takes place entirely in my imagination, or yours, or Rod Serling's. Maybe it's all entirely random. Maybe the universe is run by a giant pink bunny. Maybe it was created by a machine, and now everything that happens is predetermined. On and on...

You need to be able to test something for it to be science. We can posit, "There are two snowflakes that are the same," and that's science, because we can look at the way water crystalizes in the atmosphere, and we can study the snowflakes themselves. But we can't say, "God created the universe," because what can we look at? Where do we go from this hypothesis?

I believe that the tools and the evidence are what science is all about. Maybe one day there will be something to study, some kind of evidence that supports intelligent design. But until it crops up, we simply can't consider it science. After all, the idea of going to the moon wasn't science, once upon a time. I'd argue that they were correct in perceiving it as a dream, a fantasy, and it was only later that it became science.

1:30 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

Another good point you made, K., was that the problem comes from the people who think they're scientists or theologists. This is one of those arenas in which opinions, to quote an uncle of mine, are like assholes (everyone has one), and something in me tenses up when some right-wing wackjob waxes on about paleontology. Equally when some Very Serious Scientist Guy writes an op-ed piece pooh-poohing any notion of a higher being, just because it's not under his microscope. Agreed, then, that open-mindedness is the best path. Ain't it often so?

3:06 PM  
Blogger kStyle said...

Agreed, then that openmindedness is the best pathYES! Thanks Eric for summing up my whole post and all my comments in one pithy sentence. Perhaps that's all I should have written in the first place.

9:16 AM  

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