Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Comparative Myths

If you are a creationist, you believe that we are descended from 2+ people in SW Asia about 6,000 years ago.
If you are an evolutionist, you believe that we are descended from 150 people who crossed from Africa into SW Asia about 60,000 years ago, and our culture descended from an area very near the creationist’s Eden about 10,000 years ago.

Think for a few moments how much that difference affects day-to-day life in America.

Not much, actually.

In contrast, some US Senators believe that the oil companies are manipulating prices to elect Republicans, and are hiding competing technologies. This is insane. The 10,000 members of a serious presidential candidate’s church (plus who knows how many others nationwide) believe the CIA created AIDS to keep black people down. This is insane. A good chunk of our fellow citizens believe in 9/11 conspiracies or that Bush stole the election. These are also insane.

Think for a few moments how much those beliefs affect day-to-day life in America.

Quite a bit, actually.

I’m an evolutionist, in the main, but fail to see why that particular belief is supposed to be the acid test in whether one believes in faith or science. If you were going to start this morning as an intelligent person looking to validate one set of beliefs or another with information you could verify yourself, which would be easier to disprove?

The difference in myths is a cultural marker, not an objective one. Anti-creationists are irritated by creationists not because of science – else they would be more upset at the myths that actually have some effect – but because the creationists’ beliefs scream We are not one of you! We do not acknowledge your culture as superior! They are not the right sort of person, who accepts the right priorities the culture should be run by.

5 comments:

bs king said...

At least in my workplace, the only time people mention the creation vs. evolution debate is when someone reads an article about some small town in where ever that's trying to pass legislation to get evolution banned from the classrooms (somewhere in Maine was the most recent). I guess I always thought that was the point where most people started getting annoyed. I thought for most people it, at it's heart, was about what got taught in schools, and how we taught scientific thought there....but I may just be projecting.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I think you are correct, and it highlights the different standards in different departments. Somewhat. Science departments, if you point out that something is a myth, are more likely to remove it. But history departments still teach Chief Seattle, even when its status as urban legend is brought forth.

That distinction is not entire - there is still plenty about climate and recycling that is disputed, but HS science still gives a single view. Medical and IT knowledge in schools lags terribly behind the truth, though for different reasons.

That distinction, though often quite real, seems evasive to much of the citizenry. "So you're telling me it's okay to teach a POV third period and call it fact, but what you teach fourth period is reliable and we're ignorant for questioning it."

I started school in the church-suffused 1950's, and no one objected to teaching evolution in my district, because there was a general trust across all subjects. As what was taught in other disciplines became increasingly suspect, the suspicious stopped trusting the science also. I think they are mostly wrong in this, but it's not an insane response on their part. Particularly as most elementary school teachers were never that good at science, and so mainly teach science definitions plus heavy doses of pop environmentalism.

Jerub-Baal said...

People don't think it through, but we are logically wired for belief. It is not possible to go through life and know everything objectively. Most of what we know is taught to us, information that we take on trust (the definition of faith) to be true. As AVI pointed out, the trouble comes when a significant proportion of the people stop trusting their sources of information. The chattering classes, in their rush to prove their maturity and sophistication, threw out all of societies old icons, only to replace them with newer, cheaper ones, without questioning the value of the bargain.

And now they act surprised that the hoi polloi have noticed...

Bryce Johnston said...

Coming from a conservative Christian POV, I already know my comments will be received with skepticism by most "sophisticated" readers. The usual reaction is to look down on the person of faith.
But it says far more about the person peering down his/her nose than it does about the object of their derision.
A 60's soul toon expressed the thought 'If you don't give a damn about the man with a Bible in his hand, just get out tha' way and let the gentleman do his thing.'
The problem is, Darwinian evolution is still being taught as fact in nearly every public middle and high school in the U.S. Science, meantime, has moved on.
Darwin stated in "Origin of Species" that his theory would fall apart in the event of "irreducible complexity". Prior to the invention of electron microscopes, the human cell was thought to just contain a kind of "jelly". We can now see what is contained inside a cell. For the Materialist, this presents a dilemma. Cells contain not just Matter and Energy, but Information.
The double helix of the DNA molecule inside each cell contains more information than all of the books in the U.S. Library of Congress! The next problem for Darwinists is Time. There's not enough. Just for the amino acids in one protein molecule to assemble themselves in the proper order would take 1x10 to the 40,000 power YEARS! That's just a tad more than the 18-20 billion years that most physicists and cosmologists ascribe to the Universe. It's also a tad more than the number of electrons in the known Universe. (1x10 to the 80th). Evolutionists have to invent wild theories such as multiverses and alien seeding to explain away the math. The other problem is the understanding that Macro Evolution must be a Process, not a THING. "Chance" is not a thing. It is Nothing. Therefore, teaching young skulls full of mush that Life developed by Chance means you are telling them it came from nothing! How scientific is that! 'Ex nihilo, nihilo est" (From nothing, nothing comes!) If there was ever a time when there was nothing, THERE WOULD STILL BE NOTHING NOW! Of course, we can't forget the explanation of the Steady State Universe, the one that always existed. Except that would violate the Second Law of Thermodynamics, and the Law of Cause and Effect. But, then some people will do anything to try to prove that there is no God.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

bryce, I'm not sure if it's us you are arguing with, or just announcing, but you may have jumped to conclusions. Many of the readers here were at one time strict creationists or went to schools where 7-day creationism was taught. We still have creationist friends. The arguments you put forward are familiar to us, and I note that they are mostly arguments against spontaneous generation and unaided evolution.

I became persuaded that 7-day creationism was not a necessary doctrine for Christian belief when I learned that the insistence on it is new - it stems from the 19th C. Prior to that, even before there was an idea of evolution, there were Christians as far back as Jerome who thought that Genesis was not literal. Some, in fact, thought taking a literal interpretation was itself a false doctrine! What you call conservative I would tend to call newfangled, dating from the early 19th C and the American frontier, not historical Christianity.