Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Wired: The Crusade Against Evolution

"The Crusade Against Evolution

In the beginning there was Darwin. And then there was intelligent design.
How the next generation of "creation science" is invading America's

By Evan Ratliff, Wired, Issue 12.10 - October 2004


chengpuay said...

Sometimes administrators and politicians also has an influence and impose their beliefs on education and other aspects of public administration.

Danwei said...

As a believer of the thing described by the G-word, I think I should do some talking. (Also 'cos Mr Lim had commented that I had disappeared... so I'm reappearing) Though I'm not sure whether I'll be spoiling my scientific credibility in anyway... heheh :p ... But here goes...

Firstly, "creation science" isn't quite a science if you think about it... The scientific method (very roughly, adapted from my tutor of life form and function module) typically starts with (1) an observation; then(2) a question of interest regarding the observation; then (3) a hypothesis of why that happened; then (4) make predictions using the hypothesis; (5) the experiment, with repetition; lastly (6) review hypothesis/ ask more questions/ conclude(rare case)... The problem with "creation science" is that it starts with a conclusion, that there is an intelligent designer, possibly an entity called God (depending on beliefs). So the "creation scientist" jumps 4 steps, then goes back to step 3, then 5 and 6 (concludes straight away). He/she skips step 4 because the experiment used will probably be with something that evolution might be weak to explain (e.g. mammalian blood-clotting, the eye), and easy for creation to. It therefore fails as a scientific method.

Secondly, let's say we accept that it passes as scientific. Let's look at its premise, which is that God exists. I believe we can't prove this. At least for me, I admit I can't convincingly prove to a non-believer this statement is true. Theism is a faith, something one feels that it happens, and so it happens for him/her. If I can't make someone feel that it happens, then it does not happen for him/her in his/her perspective. Its like alien abduction maybe. Anyway, I don't think anyone has been able to prove that, and also why religions exist, at least scientifically. Only recently has this topic been picked up in the fields of evolutionary biology and cognitive psychology, so stay tuned (book by Pascal Boyer, "Religion explained" might be a good start - look out for biases though). So if the premise that God exists is weak as a scientific theory, then "creation scientists" banking on that would give erroneous conclusions, or excuses! (e.g. people actually stick dead peppered moths to photograph them - [ok maybe this is true, who knows?])

Thirdly, if one aspires to be a scientist, he/she must at least be a bit open-minded given the requirements of the scientific method. A theist scientist cannot start with "evolution is wrong", neither can an atheist scientist say that more than half the world's population is disillusioned because they belief something that I don't see (Should attempt to explain/proof it if he wants to. Might be able to improve the world today, e.g. no terrorism, no wars... utopia... yeah I think so too...)

Evolution is an extremely useful tool in modern biology. It does not make big statements such as "God creates" and works well to explain almost every living phenomenon. The theory of creation (very conclusive and unscientific) works well only for a believer, so we can't use it cos results cannot be extrapolated to non-believers, hence it has minimum predictive abilities: lousy theory. Not good theory, but might not be wrong, who knows?

Lastly, I just want to make a statement:

The Torah, Bible and Qur'an are not science textbooks.

I don't look them up like dictionaries or like the "bible" of the cell by Alberts et al. when asking questions like are "is the endosymbiosis hypothesis of the eukaryotic cell a good one?" I'm sure you'll know that someone isn't taking you too seriously (scientifically) if he says that the answer is in the Qur'anic sura 14 verse 2, or its in the Biblical book of genesis chapter 1 verse 27.

But one should look them up if wanting to answer or comment on the validity of big statements as mentioned; or if one is searching for life (I mean the spiritual one, not the biological one...).

Yups. Hope I gave at least 1 cent in this. (And the length is not to compensate for my disappearence, but I do get carried away in this topic.)