Two recent headlines appearing within a few days of each other should have warranted greater attention: “School Science Lesson Claims Gravity Was Created by God” and “Best Education in the World: Finland, South Korea Top Country Rankings, U.S. Rated Average.” The explanation for the latter is fully explained by the former, yet not enough of us seem to make the obvious connection.
The far right can stick their collective heads in the sand and talk about American exceptionalism, but the rest of the world is getting educated in the meantime. America is indeed number one — in self-delusion. While flag wavers congratulate themselves on how awesome we are, the world looks on bemused: only six percent of American students achieved advanced levels on an international standard, behind 30 other countries. We rank 25th in math, 17th in science, and 14th in reading. We are behind Lithuania and Slovenia — two countries a majority of American students could not identify on a map.
Many factors have brought us to this sad state of affairs, but we can no longer ignore the 600 pound gorilla and trumpeting elephants in the room: religion is killing us. While our kids are being taught that god created gravity, children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are learning about Newton and Einstein. As children in Lichtenstein are being taught about the warping of space-time, American kids are learning that “people who do not believe in god” are incapable of understanding gravity.
American religiosity has become an existential threat, undermining the foundation of our future prosperity by contaminating our educational system with superstition, fable and myth. We see this with evolution, vaccines, climate change, energy policy and a host of critical issues that should be based in science but instead are hijacked by ignorance. We are 17th in the world in science, but instead of improving our education, we continue to fight battles more appropriate to the 16th century. Let’s look at a few specific and tragic examples in which religion has triumphed at the expense of our educational system and with great harm to society.
ScienceBlogs » Life Science
|The Vacuity of ID [EvolutionBlog]
Posted: 27 Dec 2013 12:38 AM PST
Proponents of intelligent design make a large number of arguments regarding the inadequacies of evolution, and the shortcomings of current scientific practice. All of these arguments are wrong.
That, however, is not the end of the problems besetting ID. There is also the fact that there really is no theory of intelligent design. For all their nattering about how ID has the makings of a scientific revolution, they are stuck nonetheless with a “theory” that actually asserts very little. There is ultimately nothing more to their argument than the claim that at some point in natural history, an unnamed intelligent designer did something.
Two recent pieces of ID writing make that point eloquently, even without intending to. First up, we have this op-ed from Granville Sewell in the El Paso Times. Sewell writes:
Well, that’s clear enough. So let’s see what this theory of ID actually is.
Sewell opens with a few paragraphs rehearsing the standard ID tropes on Darwin and evolution. Evolution is crumbling, scientists cling to it out of a bias against God talk, Behe wrote Darwin’s Black Box, blah blah blah. Let’s fast-forward to the part where he tells us what ID is:
That’s clear enough, but I feel cheated. Sewell opened his piece by referring to the “scientific theory” of intelligent design. Later he derided scientists for dismissing ID as unscientific. But it’s a very unhelpful theory that says merely that an unnamed intelligence did something, somewhere, somehow, at some unspecified point in time. From Sewell’s description, it’s unclear why scientists should take any interest at all in ID.
Our second example comes from Discovery Institute blogger David Klinghoffer. In this post, entitled “Mathematics as a Frontier for Intelligent Design”, Klinghoffer points to the same interview with mathematician Edward Frenkel that I discussed last week.
As we saw, Frenkel defends Platonism as a philosophy of mathematics. I am not a fan of Platonism, but what’s relevant here is that Platonism simply has no relevance whatsoever to debates between theists and atheists. Theists tend to like Platonism since it supports the idea of nonphysical entities existing in a non-trivial sense, but atheists can endorse Platonism with equal enthusiasm.
But here’s Klinghoffer to tell us that Platonism provides a new frontier for ID. Very well. Let’s see how he makes his case.
Once again, I feel cheated. How on earth does any of that, even taking it all at face value, comprise a new frontier for ID? How will ID go about studying this “glory that is beyond”? What methodologies does it offer that are not already being exploited?
ID proponents bristle when you accuse them of making an entirely negative argument. But what else can we think when we read posts like these? They insist that their ideas are going to revolutionize science. When asked for specifics about how that will happen, even granting for the sake of argument their asinine claims about evolution, they give us nothing.
Tā vien šķiet, ka saprātīga zinātnieka pozīcija ir nevis tā, ka zinātnieks nostājas vienā vai otrā pusē, bet …skatās abām pāri. Mazliet noguris un mūžībai sagatavojies. Un no turienes jau skatoties. Kā tas izskatās? Vēl daudzas paaudzes būs vajadzīgas. Un daudziem būs jāiet bojā. Ja vispār šajā gadsimtā tehnoloģiski attīstītāko daļu viņi neiznīcinās. Tad tagadējo pirmatnējo Āfrikas cilšu pēcnācēji – arheologi rakņāsies mūsu pilsētu drupās, pētīs um mēģinās uzminēt un atkārtot mūsu sasniegumus. I.V.