Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Lend a hand
Chris Muir of the always hilarious (and accurate) Day By Day cartoon is asking people to help those who are keeping his sister alive in her fight against cancer. He's gotten an overwhelming response already, but we can always do a little more. All you have to do is click a link. It's easy, and it's doing good for people who need it—a worthy cause if I've ever seen one.

In other news
I'll be traveling across the country for my brother's wedding later today, so blogging will be light until early next week. I'll make sure to post from time to time, so check back but don't expect too much. Stick with me—I'll be back in the full swing of things next week.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Well, it finally happened
I think this is the first time on this blog that I've been attacked from the right.

Maybe now I have to change the title? "From" instead of "For"?

Monday, August 08, 2005

Exactly
Think Intelligent Design is the rationality of fools? Think it's the equivalent of believing the Earth is flat? Think it's a terrible idea for students to discuss religious philosophy in high school?

Well, Lileks apparently disagrees—and does a damn good job of explaining himself. Take a look, and learn something similar to the explanation I would give for my joint belief in education and in a guiding, divine hand.

As regards the debate over whether or not such things should be taught in school—I would add something fairly small. Has anyone ever heard of Lamarck? His name is actually Jean-Baptiste Pierre Antoine de Monet, Chevalier de Lamarck, and he was a naturalist who first came up with an explanation for change in a species over time. He believed that animals adjust to their environment over their lifetimes, and then pass those changes on to their children.

The famous example explains how giraffes got a long neck to reach up to the highest branches. The first giraffe had a short neck—over his life, he was able to stretch his neck some, and passed on that slightly longer neck to his offspring. The second generation stretched slightly further, and then passed that down...and so on. (Note: This is still environmental selection of a sort, but it differs from Darwin in that, while the environment still selects for certain traits, any creature can develop those traits—it's not that some are born better equiped and pass that along while others die.)

Now, Lamarck we know was wrong. So why did I learn about him in high school? Because we were trying to understand Darwin's Origin of Species based on a comparison and contrasting with other theories. Now, admittedly we did not discuss creationism (come on, I went to a Northeastern private school), or ID. But my teacher did make very certain to communicate that Darwinian evolution is only a theory—that it could be disproven or advanced upon at any time. He acknowledged that there could be other inputs at play that we cannot necessarily understand at the current time. Lamarck was groundbreaking in his day. His conclusions described very well what he was seeing—but were still incorrect. All the same, it's beneficial to look at the theory and use it to understand why Darwin's explanation is better. So could ID not be introduced as a discussion along the same lines?

To be clear:I'm not saying it should be, but what's so threatening about it? In middle school I was taught all sorts of things about Islam—and we discussed it in comparison to other major religions as well as atheism, in a historical context. Did that damage my understanding of history?

Oh, but history and religion are social studies, so they go together, right?

So what I have to ask is: what will we do if one day a scientist does prove that God exists, and that He is guiding the entire field of science? Are we then supposed to turn away and say "no, that's not scientific, God can't be scientific!"?

And what would you say to, oh, say, Descartes? You remember Rene Descartes? You know, the guy who pretty much determined the hallowed Scientific Method that we still use today? And how did he try to apply it? Oh, right! (Among other things) he tried to prove or disprove the existence of God. How unscientific!

I've gone off on a bit of tangent here, so let's bring it back to center.

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The simple truth is, there is room to believe in both a creator God and Darwinian evolution. There is also room to bring up this possibility in a science class without it being used as indoctrination (in either direction) or even philosophical discussion. Do I think it's necessary? No, I do not. Do I think our schools should be more accepting of religion generally and provide a forum for discussion of these grand ideas? Absolutely. Do I know how to accomplish that? No way.

But do I think that the discussion should go farther than "'You're flat-earthers!' 'You're going to hell!'"? Undoubtedly. These are serious issues, and the way our children are greeted by will ultimately shapbe who we are as a nation. We can't afford to look at it so simplistically.

Okay, so that wasn't "something small to add." My bad. Read the Lileks piece, though, I implore you.

Think they stopped because she wanted directions?
Man forgets wife at gas station.